Leadership Skills – Lessons from the Front Lines #40 #cong21


Good leadership ensures that an organisation’s Vision, Mission, Values and Strategy are articulated, connected and ultimately realised. Of the above, values are arguably the most critical. In simple terms: values (culture) = behaviours. Feedback is an important leadership skill to ensure the right culture and values develop in an organisation. A resilient leader focuses on doing the basics well every day. This should enable the organisation to grow and achieve its mission and potential.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Leadership is learned on the job, but there are key skills that can be learned.
  2. The leader should connect the Vision, Mission, Values and Strategy to the daily work of every team member.
  3. The leader should look after the culture of an organisation – feedback is a key skill for this.
  4. To be resilient, focus on doing the basics well every day.

About Cronan McNamara

Cronan is Founder and CEO of Creme Global and Founder and organiser of the Predict Conference. Creme Global is a data science technology company delivering the Expert Models data science platform.

Cronan is fascinated by in creativity and innovation and is driven to deliver world class products and services, from Ireland, that make an impact globally.

In his spare time Cronan enjoys playing competitive tennis and spending time with his family

Contacting Cronan McNamara

You can follow Cronan on Twitter, LinkedIn or check out Creme Global and the Predict Conference.

By Cronan McNamara

In this article, I write about some of the key things I’ve learned about leadership from 16 years as founder and CEO of Creme Global and in particular from an executive leadership programme called Leadership for Growth that I completed in IESE, Barcelona a few years ago.

I’ve come to realise that good leadership encompasses the following elements:

  • Vision (direction)
  • Mission (purpose)
  • Values (behaviours)
  • Strategy (decisions)
  • Growth
  • Resilience


You should think of your organisation’s Vision as its North Star – what do you want the organization to be when it grows up? It is where you are always heading towards. You may need to adjust course now and again to get around obstacles, but you always tack back towards your North Star as soon as you can. Often, organisations will keep their vision statement internal and confidential.


Mission is an expression of why your organisation exists – its purpose. What impact do you want to make on the world? This is often a public statement. For example, Creme Global’s mission is to enable better decision-making in a complex world using scientific methods, computing and data.

The leader should define the vision and mission of their organisation. Input should be taken from the team and stakeholders, but ultimately the leader should take full ownership and responsibility for these. Once these are defined, the leader should quickly move on to focus on values.


The maxim that culture eats strategy for breakfast is true in my experience. Culture is an expression of your organisation’s values. Values are observable by the behaviours you see in your organisation. Culture & values are the soul of your organisation – you must feel them in your heart, as well as intellectually in your mind.

Organisational values can be selected to design for the behaviours and culture that the leader wants and that will help the organisation to succeed. The values should align with the vision, mission and strategy, of course.

We have broken down our values into strategic values (that are aligned to our specific company mission and vision) and core values (the kind of values that all organisations would want to have). It is important to write both of these sets of values down. Once written down, communicated and understood, you can start to develop your organisation’s culture.

Values (or Culture) = Behaviours.

The best thing to do is to hire for the right values. Do this by using a trusted interview panel that is tuned in to understanding how the applicant’s values align with the organisations.

The leadership team needs to coach and encourage the right behaviours (and discourage the wrong behaviours) on a daily basis in the organisation. They do this by using the skill of feedback.


Feedback is a key leadership skill. It is a simple and effective way to set (and reset) expectations about behaviours (and hence values) in an organisation. Here are the three simple steps to effective feedback:

Positive feedback (for behaviours you want to encourage):

  1. Describe the behaviour that you observed
  2. Explain the impact of the behaviour on the organisation
  3. Congratulations!

Constructive feedback (for behaviours that need to change):

  1. Describe the behaviour that you observed
  2. Explain the impact of the behaviour on the organisation
  3. Coaching

Feedback should only be used for important (non-trivial) issues and it should be timely. Timely doesn’t have to mean straight away, but certainly as close to the time as is practically possible. The observed behaviour should be clearly observable by any independent observer.

Constructive feedback should be delivered one-on-one. Positive feedback can be given in a broader team setting or one-on-one. Finally, the 1, 2, 3 of constructive feedback should be delivered in a neutral (non-emotional) and non-judgemental manner.


There are many things to say about strategy, but what I will say about strategy in a leadership context is as follows: strategy ultimately will boil down to tasks/jobs to be done (strategic objectives) by your team on a daily basis.

The leader’s job is to make sure that the team members (who are carrying out those jobs) understand how those tasks align with the values, mission and vision of the organisation. It’s as simple and as difficult as that!


The more you can grow, the bigger the impact you can make on your mission, so that’s a good thing. Growth is good and it brings more resources, new and interesting opportunities which should keep the team motivated, challenged and engaged.


Resilience is demonstrated by people who have the ability and confidence to do the basics well and consistently. If you want to find a resilient person in your organisation, look for the ones that perform the basics well every day, even under pressure.

Leadership skills can be learned and developed. To be a resilient leader, focus on the basics of vision, mission, strategy, values and feedback every day. Growth will take care of itself.

I hope this article was useful to you. Good luck on your leadership journey!


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