Experiential Learning Leadership And Change Education Essay

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"Profound and powerful forces are shaking and remaking our world, and the urgent question of our time is whether we can make Change our friend and not our enemy. "

These words are as true today as when they were spoken by former U.S. president Bill Clinton at his first inauguration in January 1993. As true as this statement remains for the world in 2012, I believe it is also applicable to me on a personal level. Looking back, I believe I can say I have worked to make change my friend throughout my life, as well as during my recent journey through the Leadership Discovery Program (LDP).

This has been a defining year for me. I have been through a process of developing self-awareness to clarify professional and personal direction. I have learned from my experiences in the LDP in a way that has helped me to develop an increased ability to achieve change in personally, professionally, and for the business.

During my life I have experienced a lot of changes - both good and bad. I have benefited from the culture of my native land and from its social and political transformation. I have had tremendous role models in my family, in my country, at school and on the job. I have adapted to challenges and have had to learn how to better adapt. I have been fortunate to have lived in, worked in and travelled to various countries, where I have had - and continue to have - opportunities to lean and grow.



I think I can truly say that I have worked hard to, as President Clinton put it, "make Change my friend" - and that the LDP process has given me additional insights and skills to continue in that effort.



Among the theories of learning from experience that I have explored was David Kolb's theories as presented in his work Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development (Kolb, David, 1983, Prentice Hall). Kolb describes this process as obtaining information and transforming it into something useful for the learner, and outlines four steps in the process: Concrete Experience (doing), Reflective Observation (thinking), Abstract Concepts (theorizing), and Active Experimentation (practice).

Kolb explains that different people naturally prefer a certain single different learning style. Various factors influence a person's preferred style: notably in his experiential learning theory model (ELT) Kolb defined three stages of a person's development, and suggests that our propensity to reconcile and successfully integrate the four different learning styles improves as we mature through our development stages. The development stages that Kolb identified are:

Acquisition - birth to adolescence - development of basic abilities and 'cognitive structures'

Specialization - schooling, early work and personal experiences of adulthood - the development of a particular 'specialized learning style' shaped by 'social, educational, and organizational socialization'

Integration - mid-career through to later life - expression of non-dominant learning style in work and personal life.

My learning styles are: Theorist (strong), Activist (moderate), Reflector (low) and Pragmatic (low). I can adapt and integrate observations into complex but logically sound theories. I usually think problems through in a vertical, step by step, logical way. I have a strong tendency to be perfectionists who won't rest until things are tidy and fit into a rational scheme. I like to analyze and synthesize. I am good on basic assumptions, principles, theories, models and systems. I value rationality and logic. I prefer to maximize certainty and feel uncomfortable with subjective judgements, lateral thinking and anything flippant. As a moderate Activist in a specific learning situation I am a doer who favours active experimentation. For example, in understanding the market situation in my business I would rather go into the field, talk to my team and customers, and learn from others' experience rather than sitting at my desk doing logical analysis. I believe this is because of my hereditary equipment (extroverted person who enjoys new challenges) and based on my particular past life experiences. I used to be a medical sales representative where one often has to quickly diagnose situations (Concrete experience). However, I understand that in other circumstances you have to spend time analysing the 'driver's manual' instead of simply jumping in and driving the car (Abstract Conceptualisation). I have a low score in Reflection which is very much aligned and consistent with my own analysis, 360 feedback and other diagnostic measure used during the LDP. I have to invest time thinking about experiences before coming to any conclusion. I have to listen more as I have a tendency to solve problems and make decisions quickly, and I am quick to verbalize my opinions and decisions to the rest of the world.

In other situations, you have to watch yourself and others involved in the experience and reflect on what happens ('reflective observation' - 'watching'). This is what I am doing through the LDP, I am reading articles, books, listening to lectures, exploring new information, and taking time to think things through, in order to further develop my ability to understand a wide range of information and putting things into concise, logical form.

I also apply this theory to both my personal and professional life. As I learn about my new role I am investing time in understanding the issues in the large region I cover (Asia-Pacific, Middle East and African countries) and possible solutions. I am, therefore, reflecting more as I watch the team, observe the approaches / styles of individual team members, evaluate what happened in different situations, and learn ('reflective observation' - 'watching'). In this way, the next time I confront a similar situation I can apply the learnings. I enjoy thinking things through, reflecting about my past experiences, what I have learned and what could I have done differently. I believe this approach is helping me to be more effective, and this knowledge make me happy.

In addition, tools such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the 360 Feedback multi source assessment, Belbin Team Roles and Gordon Psychometrics have been very useful in learning more about what kind of person and leader I am and how people perceive me.

In my case, I was able to see consistencies among my profiles across the tools. ELT (Experiential Learning Theory) follows Carl Jung in recognizing that learning styles result from individuals' preferred ways for adapting to the world. Jung's Extraversion/Introversion dialectical dimension as measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) correlates with the Active/Reflective dialectic of ELT; and the MBTI Feeling/Thinking dimension correlates with the Concrete Experience/ Abstract Conceptualization dimension. My MBTI profile describes me as an extroverted thinker with introverted intuition. I deal with things rationally and logically, but I also use my intuition. I have a drive for leadership, and see challenges as possibilities. I look at the big picture, look out for problems and enjoy developing solutions. I'm decisive, career-focused, and am comfortable in the corporate world. I hold myself and others to very high standards. I am interested in personal growth and development in all areas. All of these add up to a person with natural leadership skills.

I believe my MBTI profile also fits well with the 360 feedback I received, which included descriptions of me as a highly energetic/enthusiastic/committed professional with drive, who is reliable and takes full ownership of responsibilities. My colleagues indicated they value my passion and desire to learn and to develop; they also saw me as inclusive, pragmatic, collaborative and someone who has demonstrated ethical leadership.

In addition, I think my Belbin Team Roles (Coordinator, Implementer and Team worker) and Gordon Psychometrics profiles are basically consistent with the MBTI.

The LDP process has helped me to see that I needed to establish stronger relationships with my colleagues and other people at work; to delegate more; to be more collaborative; to support the development of others (not only of those who report to me); to strengthen my communication skills; to further demonstrate empathy; and to learn how to match different leadership styles to particular business situations. In addition, I came to understand how much I needed to improve my work life balance. I believe I have made progress in these areas. I also believe that I have been able to use the LDP process in developing my role as Respiratory Brand Director in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and African countries (AMAC) Region these past months.


During my time in my current position I have made an effort to better understand the motivations and feelings of the individuals working on the teams. I have managed to create opportunities for informal chats and social outings with team members. For example, after a tense first meeting with one of my colleagues, who had a reputation for being an overly aggressive person, I decided to make an appointment to meet with him outside the office. I bought him a coffee and we spent almost two hours talking not only about the business, but also our ways of dealing with people. I realised that he is also working on making adjustments to his behaviour and we were able to support each other.

In another instance, I noticed one of my colleagues seemed preoccupied, so I asked if everything was all right with him. It turned out that he was in the middle of a dilemma about a job offer. I was very busy, but I felt it was important to spend some time with him, so I went for a coffee with him and was able to simply 'lend him an ear.' Afterwards, I felt glad I did it.

I also regularly have lunch with colleagues who work directly with me as well as with some who do not. I have learned more about people's personal situations, hobbies and motivations. I have successfully stuck to my commitment to spend at least half an hour socialising every day, and if possible to organise a lunch.

I also try in all situations, work or social, to genuinely listen to others' opinions and to seek out smooth consensus. I can truly say I am talking less and listening more. I sometimes look back at my day and calculate what percentage of the time I talked in different situations and think about how appropriate the percentages were. I still find I need to talk less at times, so I will keep doing this helpful exercise. I have found that I enjoy listening to people and the more I listen the more I learn.

Since starting a new position six months ago, I have learned more about how important communication is, especially in such a large and diverse region as AMAC. I am learning the subtle signals that resonate with people from other cultures. One of the things I have learned from reading 'Micromessaging' by Stephen Young (Young, S., 2006, Micromessaging: Why Great Leadership is Beyond Words, 1st ed., McGraw-Hill) is that when communicating it is important to understand that "bowing, lack of eye contact, enthusiastic hugs of greeting, cold demeanour and passionate expressions" can mean entirely different things in different cultures. This is absolutely true and as someone from Andalusia, Spain, a region with a culture where touching, hugging and kissing are common, I have experienced this first-hand, sometimes a little embarrassingly.

Realising that my communication skills were not as good as I would like, I have worked diligently on this area. While I believe I have made significant improvement, I know that I need to continue investing time in mastering communication. This is one of my key objectives and I am fully committed to it. I want to be able to better articulate stories of vibrant, productive high performance teams that can serve as a source of inspiration. To achieve this, I continue reading in order to learn from great communicators. In addition, I continue to invest a lot of time and effort preparing for important meetings and, therefore, I actually allocate time in my agenda for such planning.

I have learned that practice is essential. Now I always make sure to build in extra time for this. I believe that I am making good progress and from my colleagues' feedback I can see that people follow and listen to me more closely than a few months ago. However, I am still a long way from the level I want to be.

Another writer I benefited from reading was Bill George. In True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership (George, B. and Sims, P., 2007, Jossey-Bass) Medtronic CEO Bill George and his co-author Peter Sims use research and first-person interviews with 125 different leaders to describe ways to develop yourself as an authentic leader. True North showed me how to create my own Personal Leadership Development Plan and the importance of following your 'internal compass' to become an authentic leader.

'Integrating their lives is one of the greatest challenges leaders face. To lead an integrated life, you need to bring together the major elements of your personal life and professional life, including work, family, community, and friends so that you can be the same person in each environment.

'Authentic leaders are constantly aware of the importance of staying grounded. In doing so, they avoid getting too cocky during the high points and forgetting who they are during the low points. Spending time with their families and close friends, getting physical exercise, having spiritual practices, doing community service and returning to places where they grew up are all ways they stay grounded. This grounding is essential to their effectiveness as leaders, because it enables them to preserve their authenticity.' (George and Sims, 2007,134-135)

I came to realize that in my life I was not integrating all four aspects (professional, family, community, and friends) and that such integration is key to becoming a more effective leader. This helped me to develop a vision for the future which includes career aspirations and life balance. It also inspired me to identify what the fundamental areas of my life are: family, career, friendship and personal activities I enjoy. I am now beginning to see the power that comes from putting all the pieces together.

Developing a personal mission and vision statement was a challenging and inspiring thing to come up with and I believe having done so has helped me to better focus on the present, while not ignoring the future.

My Mission Statement

"To live a learning life, to lead with integrity and to make a positive difference in the lives of others."

My Vision Statement

"I will inspire and empower others to excel, transforming individuals into extraordinary people, through both honest leadership and a commitment to teaching and developing people. I will encourage others to continue learning and to achieve their objectives in life and/or the job. I will live in a place that easily connects me with the world so that I can have access to new and exciting people. I will continue to travel and learn about cultures. I will remain committed and connected to my family, friends and community and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle."

Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Covey, Steven, 1989, Free Press) was also very inspiring and helped me to realize that a major reason I was not managing my time properly was a desire to try to please everybody. My personal issue was Self Management and not really Prioritization. That is to say, mine was not a case of not knowing what is important: I believe I generally have a good understanding of what it is important but my fear of saying no to some people highly impacted my ability to manage my life, negatively affecting my work life balance.

I have found Covey's Four Quadrants or Time Matrix Tool particularly useful. Covey breaks activities in four groups: 1. important-urgent; 2. important-not urgent; 3. not important-urgent; 4. not important-not urgent. He found that highly effective people spend most of their time in quadrant 2 because they are time managers, not crisis managers. Spending more time in Quadrant 2 requires better planning and focusing on what is important in life. It requires proactive effort rather than a reactive style.

During the LDP process I started keeping (and plan on continuing to keep) a journal to capture key outcomes / emotions throughout the day. While journalling, I used Covey's tool and invested time analysing and 'judging' how I spent the day both from a professional and personal perspective. This 'prioritizing time' exercise was very productive and helped me to understand how I spent time as I experienced the challenges I was facing in my new position, as well as how I manage stress. The challenges ranged from things typical to being a new position, e.g. investing time meeting people and understanding a new business, to particular issues such as the fact that the area I was assigned to was underperforming and there was a need to develop an action plan to turn the situation around.

I tried to face these challenges whilst prioritising the 'Important and Not Urgent' v 'Important and Urgent' items. I took some risks and failed in meeting some deadlines but kept saying to myself 'you can not do one year's work in one month's time. I felt stressed some times and worried about disappointing people on my team in Basel and around the globe, as well as my managers. However, the tool helped me to realise that if I wanted to make a difference I had to focus on investing time in planning / thinking before executing.

It was very rewarding to meet and learn from my new team in Basel. I also invested significant time getting to know people in the countries I was working in, understanding the issues and challenges they face. I have been a dedicated team member, supportive and willing to help. At the same time I spent time 'educating' people and establishing a 'new modus operandi' within the region in order to avoid last minute requests and stretch time-lines. As per the 'Urgent requests/deadlines' I think that I could have had a better understanding of what my managers expected from me and negotiated with them, particularly my immediate manager. I have also spent time on administrative matters which are not within my scope of work and are under 'Urgent but Not Important'. I decided to talk to one of my manager and ask for administrative support even though my position does not have an assistant assigned to it. I wanted to be able to better control my agenda, to establish my priorities and to meet my personal and professional objectives.

Regarding the Life Balance aspect, after reflecting about how I spend my time I realized that there were things I wanted to change and have made good progress towards that during the LDP process. For example, I kept in contact with my friends while being away and I met some of them when I was back from a long journey across AMAC. I attended a friends' wedding even though I felt exhausted after one month travelling.

I have also learned how to better confront family issues. Looking back I see that while to some degree I faced this situation the same way I used to, the difference is that this time I was NOT emotionally affected. I did not allow some of my siblings (I am the youngest of 10) to put me down for living abroad and not being there to 'physically' take care of my mother. I made the point that I am always available for important issues or decisions that need to be taken and so there is no need to fly down to Spain every time things need sorting out. My mother knows that my spirit is with her and I do not care so much about what some family members may think of me.

I also followed through with my commitment to plan and take holidays. I organised a long weekend with my friends in the Balearic Islands and then 4 days in Barcelona. I could not enjoy a two-week holiday but it felt good to have a break. I relaxed, disconnected and enjoyed my friends. Despite pressure, I did not go to visit my family on my holiday time. I talked to my mother, she was doing well and my older sister reassured me that everything was fine but that she needed some rest. I know how tough it is taking care of my mother and that my sister really deserved one a month holiday. So I talked to another of my sisters and asked for support. After back and forth discussion she agreed to take care of my mum so that my older sister and I could have a few days to devote to our personal lives. Those days that I spent with my friends really felt great, and there was no guilt that I did not use the time to go to see the family.

I gave some thoughts to the NGO project and after talking to a few people, I am not convinced that any of the projects I have been offered to participate in are the right ones. It is important for me to be involved in something that makes a difference in peoples' live, so I am not going to give up. I heard about the Malaria project that Novartis is leading in South Africa and I have decided to use my networking in the Region to learn more about it and explore opportunities to join the initiative.

I started to run while I was travelling. It was hard to keep the routine and sometimes I felt really tired but was able to get back to training at least 2 times per week. While I am in Basel I go to swim with friends over the weekend.

I work out regularly so that I got my routine back after a few months of discipline. I am following the diet that the doctor recommended after the two surgeries I had in January and April.

I realised that leading is high stress work especially when you are responsible for people, outcomes, etc. so I value more than ever the importance of having my personal time to do exercise, listen to music, and go out with friends to alleviate stress.

I remind myself continuously during intense periods where I have to do sacrifices due to the long trips and low sleep hours that I can't give 150 percent to everything. If you realized that you can't be super career person, super sister, super daughter, super friend, super partner, etc. you can have it all but with less 'super perfection' results.

All of these reflections have had a profound enough impact on me that I have been able to stick to my action plan for change. They have also helped me to realize that my goals and objectives could benefit people around me as I develop a deeper understanding of myself and others.

I continue to track and reflect on achievements and identify any corrective actions needed as I work towards my mission of living a learning life, leading with integrity and making a positive difference in the lives of others.


I have invested significant time thinking and reading about leadership as I have worked on my development goals, i.e. to improve relationships by improving communication skills and to learning to be a better leader. Basically, it seems to me that a manager implements, whereas a leader inspires; a manager takes care of details, while a leader focuses on the big picture; a manager tends to the here now when a leader looks to the future; a manager is concerned with the bottom line and a leader is interested in the vision.

In my opinion the two concepts are completely different.

According to Abraham Zaleznik (Zaleznic, A. 2004, Managers and Leaders: Are They Different? Harvard Business Review) the differences between the two concepts are based on the following criteria:

- The goal followed: the leaders usually exhibit personal, active attitudes while the managers are more impersonal and passive.

- Their conception about work: leaders usually stimulate work while managers usually coordinate and balance it.

- Their relationships with others: leaders are usually emphatic while managers get less emotionally involved.

- Self-perception: leaders are usually oriented toward change and have a loose identity while managers are more conservative and are usually reluctant to change.

In my opinion, the relationship manager-leader needs to be analysed starting from the observation that managers are individuals who gained this status in a formal manner, having within the organization tasks formally established, through operational documents. Managers can act as leaders or non-leaders while completing their tasks based on the following variables:

- Personal abilities;

- Context;

- The organizational type;

- Organizational culture;

- The structure of the group;

- Professional and managerial training.

Leaders can be persons who do not formally hold the manager position but the other members of the organization, who are willing to follow them and to act, recognize their professional competence and are willing to act upon their will, without having formal rules saying that they need to do so.

It is easy to observe that all leadership definitions refer to aspects related to the human and professional qualities of the individual and the way in which he/she influences other people's reactions. Therefore, it is only logical to ask what qualities a leader should possess.

Based on a literature review the most important qualities identified include:

1. Personal characteristics: intelligence, energy, self confidence, capacity to influence, motivation for being a leader, emotional stability, honesty, integrity, courage, wisdom.

2. Professional abilities: specialized training, managerial training, general knowledge, the desire to learn on a daily basis, intellectual curiosity, to be able to deal with new situations, etc.

3. Social recognition: reputation, past successes/failures, relational system, etc.

Leadership is based on developing team spirit that is the result of the integration of four processes:

- Build trust among the persons involved;

- Establish clear mission and goals that are shared by the group;

- Have a participative decision-making process;

- Motivate in a proper way both the individuals and the group.

Over the years the approach regarding leadership has changed from the belief that leaders are born - native qualities to the belief that leaders can be trained in order to meet the requirements discussed above.

Leadership implies the existence of a minimal set of qualities that an individual is usually born with and which can be further enhanced with adequate training.

The most important factors for leadership are;

a. Native qualities of the individual - intelligence, charisma, and determination, open minded, perseverance, etc.

b. Training - general training, specialized training, managerial training. The result of these trainings is represented by social abilities, technical knowledge, decision making abilities, communication skills, and managerial behaviour.

c. Managerial situation - two types: contextual/general refers to the basic characteristics of the organization the leader works for defined by the quality of the human resource, their specific culture, available resources, technical and IT infrastructure, strategy, decision-making, formal and informal structures within the organization; strictly managerial which refers to the managerial roles played by the leader as part of his/her job description attached to a formal position within the organization.

Leadership means that subordinates can be determined (persuaded) to act toward achieving the stated objectives and to behave the way the leader wants. This process implies the following steps:

1. Prepare the leader to act on his leadership role by stating goals, tools for achieving them, self-confidence.

2. The leader should have the capacity to listen to what others have to say and to trigger the others' emotions.

3. Make the others share leader's goals, ideas, and opinions.

4. Inspire the others so as to behave according to what the leader wants.

5. Build and maintain the loyalty of those involved.

The content and the effectiveness of leadership significantly depend on the characteristics of the organizational culture involved and the leader's ability to understand it and incorporate it into his/her leadership practices/style.

Based on the type of individuals he/she needs to interact with, the leader can use different types of power from coercion to the one derived from his expertise.

One book I find very insightful and which has helped me to understand effective leadership is "Principle-Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey" by Stephen R. Covey.


The author claims that this new paradigm - leadership based on principles, is practiced from inside out and is structure along four stages:

1. Personal (my relationship with myself);

2. Interpersonal (my relationship and interaction with the others);

3. Managerial (my responsibility toward completing a certain task together with my team);

4. Organizational (my needs to organize, select, train, compensate people, to build teams, to solve problems, to create structures, strategies, and aligned systems (p.19).

This type of leadership is based on several guiding principles (Covey, 2000, p.170-178), which need to be in place at each level:

1. To be trust worthy at the personal level; this is based on character and competence.

2. Trust at the interpersonal level: People trust each other and thus they can clearly communicate, are emphatic, synergistic and exhibit productive interdependency.

3. Empowering at the managerial level

4. Alignment at the organizational level.

Covey identifies two divergent mentalities that characterize humans' and implicitly leaders' behavior: the mentality of poverty and the mentality of abundance, the latter being considered superior, and its development being in close connection with the principle that governs our lives. The characteristics of "abundance" leaders include:

1. They often turn to the true sources of interior safety;

2. They look for solitude and enjoy nature;

3. Read a lot and on a regularly basis;

4. Offer help but prefer to remain anonymous;

5. Keep long lasting relationships with another person;

6. Are forgiving with themselves and others;

7. Solve problems without conflicts of opinions.

Covey also developed the four levels of leadership based on principles; his endeavor has as a starting point the identification and critical analysis of the fundamental paradigms in management (Covey, 2000, p.182).

1. The paradigm of the scientific management regards people as "stomachs" (economic beings), it associates the human nature with the economic individual and it implies an authoritarian leadership style.

2. The paradigm of human relations - it regards Humans as "hearts" (social beings), with feelings, thus they need to be treated not only fair but with kindness, politeness, as social-economic beings.

3. The paradigm of human relations also regards humans as "minds" (rational, thinking beings), doted with talent, creativity, resources, intelligence and imagination, in one word psychological human beings.

The leadership based on principles operates with concepts such as honesty, kindness, skills, and effectiveness, in one word the "whole human being".

From reading The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs (Isaacson, W., April 2012, Harvard Business Review) I learned the importance of passion, intensity, and integrity but also how extreme behaviour such as impatience and perfectionism can negatively affect people around you and your business. It also illustrates the fact management and leadership qualities are not mutually exclusive: Know Both the Big Picture and the Details.

Jobs's passion was applied to issues both large and minuscule. Some CEOs are great at vision; others are managers who know that God is in the details. Jobs was both. Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes says that one of Jobs's salient traits was his ability and desire to envision overarching strategy while also focusing on the tiniest aspects of design (Isaacson, W. April 2012).

In fact, leaders often move into to their positions after various management positions, so I would say that a leader has mastered management skills. How much a leader delegates management tasks will of course depend on the individual and, to some degree, the individual, but a leader never leaves management completely behind.

Indeed, many leaders start at the very bottom, then move into management before reaching the pinnacle of their careers. Justin Menkes points out in his book 'Better Under Pressure' (Menkes, J., 2011, Harvard Business Review Press, ASIN: B004V3TGLG) that McDonald's CEO, Jim Skinner, reminds employees that half of McDonald's CEOs started out working in the mail-room or in a restaurant.

A very interesting approach belongs to the authors Ken Jennings and John Stahl-West in the 2003 book "The serving Leader" which describes the interior evolution that each leader needs to go through in order to acquire an efficient leadership style.


The authors employ the method of scenarios based on real organizations and leaders but framed within fictional stories in order to develop a practical handbook for the implementation of the leadership that serves.

The idea placed at the foundation of this book is that the pyramid should be turned upside down - this means positioning the leader at the base of the pyramid, where from a structural point of view those who execute orders are usually placed. Then the books points out several principles to be taken into consideration during the process of building the upside down pyramid.

These principles are:

- You prepare yourself to be the first by considering the others in the first place;

- You are first responsible for making others responsible;

- You control your ego and help others to build self esteem and self trust in order for the team to be able to work together;

- In order to be able to serve the many you must be able to serve first a few;

- Be selective while choosing the leaders you are going to work with;

- Continuously increase the expectations regarding performance;

- The best approach is a provocative offer;

- Use the training process in order to generate excellence at each level;

- Learn to know yourself first, clearly present the knowledge you have;

- Remove the obstacles other face in order for them to be able to succeed;

-Take advantage of the strong points of each of the team members while minimizing their weaknesses.

- Move toward accomplishing the big goal.

In his book 'What makes a Leader?' Daniel Goleman (2006 Harvard Business School Press) stated that many believe that leadership is an art rather than a science. Why? Because 'every businessperson knows a story about a highly intelligent, highly skilled executive who was promoted into a leadership position only to fail at the job.' Goleman believes that whilst IQ and technical skills are not irrelevant (they are 'threshold capabilities') but what is much more important emotional intelligence. Indeed, Goleman asserts that his research shows that this is twice as important as a driver of outstanding performance compared to the other two factors. Goleman states that emotional intelligence is made up of the following characteristics:

Self-Awareness - 'the ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drives, as well as their effect on others.'

Self -Regulation - 'the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods' and 'the propensity to suspend judgment - to think before acting.'

Motivation - 'a passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status' and 'a propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence.'

Empathy - 'the ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people' and 'skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions.'

Social Skill - 'proficiency in managing relationships and building networks' and 'an ability to find common ground and build rapport.'

Another interesting book of Goleman's is Leadership That Gets Results (2000, Harvard Business Review) in which he states that what leaders should do is get results. Pure and simple. The question is how is this achieved? Research has shown that there are six main leadership styles 'each springing from different components of emotional intelligence.' Goleman likens these leadership styles to golf clubs in a seasoned professional's bag: you choose the correct club ('style') for each shot ('situation').

The six styles are:

Coercive - demand immediate compliance.

Authoritative - motivate people towards a vision.

Affiliative - create emotional bonds and harmony.

Democratic - build consensus through participation.

Pacesetting - demand excellent and self-direction.

Coaching - developing people for the future.

These styles impact directly on the 'climate' of an organization, defined as comprising the following elements:

Flexibility - how free people are to innovate.

Responsibility - the sense of responsibility people have to the organization.

Standards - the standards that people set.

Rewards - the accuracy of performance feedback.

Clarity - how clear people are about mission and values.

Commitment - how committed people are to a common purpose.

Of the six styles, four of them act positively towards the climate of the organization and two in a negative sense. The two that damage the climate of an organization are Coercive ('do as I say, now!') and Pacesetting ('do as I do, now!'). That being said, there are times, usually during times of crises when these leadership styles can prove effective in the short-term.

Being able to switch between the six styles is a matter of Emotional Intelligence, something akin to changing habits, says Goleman. It is something that can be learned and has to be practised.

In his book "Emotional Intelligence (1995, Bantam Books)", Goleman says that leaders can survive without much 'emotional intelligence' if everything is going well for the business. However, this is exactly the time that leaders should be building up and developing their emotional intelligence for the downturn and potential crises.

The data shows that people's emotional intelligence tends to increase with age, but this is not to say that it is a function of, and comes with, experience. One of the most frequent criticisms of newly-promoted leaders is that they lack empathy. The problem, of course, being that they have been promoted for their intelligence and outstanding performance rather than their leadership skills.

Leaders can improve their emotional intelligence if they are given:

Information - candid assessment of their strengths and limitations from people they can trust.

Guidance - a specific development plan using 'naturally occurring workplace encounters as the laboratory for learning.

Support - someone to talk to as they practice how to handle different situations.

It's hard to argue with the principles and ideas behind Goleman's emotional intelligence.

In the book 'Primal Leadership' by Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee (2001, Harvard Business Revie) we can see a continuation of Goleman's original research into emotional intelligence, coming up with the concept of leaders having an 'emotional style.' This, they believe, sets the tone for the whole organization, that 'the leader's mood is quite literally contagious, spreading quickly and inexorably throughout the business.'

The authors state that the brain's limbic system, it's emotional centre, is an 'open-loop' system. Unlike self-regulating closed-loop systems, an open loop system relies on external sources to maintain itself. 'In other words, we rely on connections with people to determine our moods.' That's why we find it difficult not to smile or laugh ourselves when we hear laughter. It is this that the emotionally intelligent leader needs to tap into as good moods, it would appear from the research, transmit more quickly that bad ones!

Leaders cannot simply ask those further down the hierarchy for feedback on their emotional style. Why? Job security and the personal nature of such feedback are two very good reasons. Instead, leaders need to go on journeys of self-discovery and personal reinvention.

The journey of self-discovery and personal reinvention, contend the authors, is a five-step process of asking questions:

Who do I want to be?

Who am I now?

How do I get from here to there?

How do I make change stick?

Who can help me?

I find these questions, useful to become more self-reflective and have helped me in any case in my self-discovery process..

In the book 'Social Intelligence and The biology of Leadership', Goleman and Boyatzis (Harvard Business Review 2008) pointed out that research shows that certain things leaders do affects their brain chemistry and that of their followers. In fact,researchers have found that the leader-follower dynamic is not a case of two (or more) independent brains reacting consciously or unconsciously to each other. Rather, the individual minds become, in a sense, fused into a single system.

Great leaders, say the authors, are at the opposite end of the 'neural continuum' than those with autism or Asperger's, social disorders 'characterized by underdevelopment in the areas of the brain associated with social interactions.'

The authors therefore introduce the concept of social intelligence, 'a set of interpersonal competencies built on specific neural circuits (and related endocrine systems) that inspire others to be effective.' Pointing to recent research in neuroscience on 'mirror neurons' which act as 'neural wifi'. When we detect other people's (emotions through their actions), our mirror neurons reproduce these emotions, leading to a feeling of shared experience.

So, Goleman and Boyatzis say, the 'old carrot-and-stick' approach for encouraging people to perform better, doesn't work. Smiles, laughter, nods and positive reinforcement are much more conducive to improving performance. Followers of effective leaders experience rapport with them - what the authors call 'resonance'.

'The only way to develop your social circuitry effectively,' say Goleman and Boyatzis, 'is to undertake the hard work of changing your behavior.' Linking back to Primal Leadership, the authors believe this is a process of building a personal vision for change and gathering feedback. It is especially important to undergo this when things are going well, as during times of stress as 'soaring cortisol levels and an added hard kick of adrenaline can paralyze the mind's critical abilities.' Leaders fall back into old habits during these times - all the more reason to become more self-reflective.

All of these readings have significantly helped me to reflect and working on the behaviours I need to change to become a better leader of my team and the business.

Using the leadership styles by Goleman, I can see that throughout my career I have played the affiliative, democratic and coaching leadership style, but until the LDP I had not mastered any of them. The LDP process helped me to see that I needed to establish stronger relationships with my colleagues and other people at work, to delegate more, to be more collaborative, to support the development of others (not only of those who report to me), to strengthen my communication skills, to further demonstrate empathy, and to learn how to match different leadership styles to particular business situations. I believe I have made progress in these areas. I believe I have made progress in these areas. I see that I am a more mature and efficient leader and closer to the ideal leader I want to be. I am learning more about being an authoritative leader while working with my team in the countries, someone that can inspire others towards a vision. I know what are the strategies I have to implement to improve, substitute or work around a need to be as effective leader as possible. I also believe that I have been able to use the LDP process in developing my role as Respiratory Brand Director in AMAC Region these past months.

WHO IS GORDON? GORDON IS THE AUTHOR of the diagnostic measure we have done at the LDP.

According to Gordon Psychometrics I have a score of 9 on this leadership statement, which makes me think that perhaps having authority over people has been too important to me. I like to think that what I find important is energizing people to make good decisions and do things better, but perhaps it has as much to do with wanting to be in control of the outcome. I have had multiple experiences leading cross functional teams who did not report to me. However, as highlighted in the 360 report, I see now that I should more often work towards aligning my thoughts with the teams'. This means to me, that I need to pay special attention to sharing good and bad news with the team and to working out solutions as a group more than on my own. I also need to make more of an effort to find time to reflect and involve others in the decision making process.

I have a score of 7 on both Responsibility and Ascendancy. Most people at work think that I am a reliable and very persevering person with a high sense of responsibility. I am brave and confident so that I don't get frightened easily and enjoy challenging the status quo in difficult situations. However, this level of deep responsibility sometimes impacts negatively. My high score in Ascendancy reflects that I tend to be verbally ascendant and adopt an active role in the group. I usually make independent decisions and am self-assured in relationship with others. I must start thinking of sharing both the good and bad news with the team more often and working out solutions as a group more than as a person. This will not only be very beneficial to team success, it will also to help me better manage my time.

I have a score of 7 on both Decisiveness and Achievement. I feel that I am a decisive person in all areas of my life. At work I like to make decisions. I usually think through and do not rush to a conclusion if the business situation allows doing so.However, I have become aware that I do not always take into consideration others' opinions nor do I seek out consensus enough. I believe that working more closely with my co-workers will not only be very beneficial to team success, it will also to help me better manage my time.

I have a score of 9 in Original Thinking and a score of 4 in Practical Mindedness. I am very curious,enjoy difficult tasks and being involved in strategic decisions. I am more of a big 'picture person' than someone who likes to 'roll up their sleeves to sort something out.' I do think I have a practical mind, but my natural tendency leans more towards 'thinking about things' and 'doing things' that are challenging rather than simply doing things out of necessity or to get something resolved as quickly as possible. I enjoy feeling like the work I am doing has a sense of purpose, and is not just to get results as soon as possible. Therefore, I am probably not as motivated by practical, routine tasks as I am by more challenging, stimulating activity.

Sometimes I am a little impatient and sometimes too busy and may miss the point others are trying to make. I have a tendency to want to offer an opinion, a solution, an idea, or a decision. I understand the importance of this interpersonal skill in relationships. I sometimes shut people down and have trouble understanding what I am hearing. Listening means knowing what others have said and meant to say and leaving people comfortable that they have had their say.

I also try in all situations, work or social, to genuinely listen to others' opinions and to seek out smooth consensus. I can truly say I am talking less and listening more. I sometimes look back at my day and calculate what percentage of the time I talked in different situations and think about how appropriate the percentages were. I still find I need to talk less at times, so I will keep doing this helpful exercise. I have found that I enjoy listening to people and the more I listen the more I learn.

"I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I'm going to learn, I must do it by listening" Larry King - American television/radio host. (16 Dec 2010, Larry King in quotes, The Telegraph)

I am committed to using some remedies to improve such as: not interrupting before people finish, not finishing their sentences for them, paraphrasing, listening for underlying meaning, being accepting of other views, asking more questions, probing questions, clarifying questions, listening first and solving second.

I am investing time developing my team in the AMAC countries. I coach them about how to deal with risk and uncertainty, and I encourage them to take decisions. I am fully committed to growing and moulding future leaders of the company. For example: one of the team leaders was in a dilemma about launching the product in her country sequentially and was feeling overwhelmed with all the feedback received from her team and physicians. I coached her regarding thinking logically, considering pros and cons, analysing alternatives, and on how to communicate the decision internally and externally in a powerful way.

I understand that leaders have to have the ability to manage a diverse workforce and Leaders are not only heroes, but "hero makers".

I am also investing time 'reading' people's emotions by making an effort to listen and observe carefully.

I am encouraging people to take the lead in some of the projects for the Region, while I coach them. There are some challenges when helping people to overcome their fears and cultivate self-confidence. For example, I encouraged Charbel to take the lead on the Advocacy plan for the Middle East. I offered him support in establishing a clear roadmap with key milestones and KPIs. I invited him to a meeting in the UK with the International KOLs. He was very nervous before the meeting started, so I took him for a walk and then we rehearsed together. He delivered a very good presentation. When I looked back, I realised that I had implemented some of tips learned from Colleen Barrett's article 'Watch the language' (Bringing Your Whole Self to Work, 2008, Harvard Business School Press, pages 127-128) It was this that helped me to demonstrate my support and caring in a way that helped increase his self-stem and confidence.

I am consciously using my individual attributes such as passion, commitment, positivism and drive to influence the team and gain their buy-in on the need to change and do things differently. I have learned that the following things can help change become permanent: simplicity, unexpectedness, specificity, credibility, driving emotions and telling stories for impact.

My ideal leadership style and preference

Leadership requires much more than just being nice to people or working hard to achieve personal goals.

Effective leadership means more than knowing simply what to do-it's knowing what to do, when, how and why to do it. Effective leaders know how to balance pushing for change while at the same time, protecting aspects of culture, values, and norms worth preserving. They know how to gauge the magnitude for change they are calling for and how to tailor their leadership strategies accordingly. Finally, they understand and value the people in the organization. They know how, when and why to create learning environments that support people, connect them with one another and provide the knowledge, skills and resources they need to succeed.


Theories and concepts of change leadership have been much of what I read during the LDP process. Aside from works mentioned previously (e.g. The seven habits of highly effective people by by Professor Stephen R. Covey, powerful lessons in personal change). I have also found John Kotter's theories and models particularly thought provoking. In his book, 'Leading Change' (Kotter, J.P., 1996, 'Leading Change,' Harvard Business School Press). This was probably one of my main sources of inspiration when I started in my new role back in April. In fact, while working on my development goal of leading with and through people, I identified that we needed to change the situation in the AMAC region, by improving performance and creating an AMAC culture. There are many of process to manage change in an organization. Some have four steps, some seven, some more than ten. Kotter's 8 step change model, which I have outlined below, has helped me do this.

Step 1: Establish a Sense of Urgency

Leaders need to engage people in the process through information sharing and open dialogue that creates a sense of urgency around the need for change: brainstorm, explore challenges and opportunities, have frank discussions, examine the competition together, consider earnings, look at market share, identify and discuss crises, potential crises, as well as opportunities. Kotter claims that successful change comes when about 75 percent of the management / leadership team is behind it. So, leaders need to work hard at building motivation.

Step 2: Create a Guiding Coalition

Bring together a group of influencers to form a coalition of change. This team needs to be about 3 to 5 powerful people from around the organization, regardless of the size of the organization. These key people must work together as a team to develop urgency, obtain buy-in and build momentum.

Step 3: Develop a Change Vision

Build the team's ideas into an overall vision that people can understand, relate to and remember. Develop strategies for achieving that vision. Kotter says the vision must be:

Imaginable: Convey a clear picture of what the future will look like.

Desirable: Appeal to the long-term interest of those who have a stake in the enterprise.

Feasible: Contain realistic and attainable goals.

Focused: Clear enough to provide guidance in decision making.

Flexible: Allow individual initiative and alternative responses in light of changing conditions.

Communicable: Easy to communicate and can be explained quickly.

Step 4: Communicate the Vision for Buy-In

Do not simply announce the vision, but help it to take off by using every possible opportunity and method of communication - via emails, in meetings, through presentations, on-line, etc. - formally and informally. Teach new behaviours by the example of the guiding coalition. Do not simply talk the talk, but walk the walk.

Step 5: Empower Broad Based Action

Remove barriers, whether they are processes, structures or people. Encourage risk taking and non-traditional ideas, activities and actions.

Step 6: Generate Short-term Wins

Plan for and create these as soon as possible. These need to be clearly visible and unambiguous. They can occur any time within the first month to the first year. People will be motivated when they see results relatively early on and will be more likely to continue working to implement the change that will also lead to the long term goals. Set up short term targets, celebrate when they are achieved and reward people who help meet them.

Step 7: Never Let Up

Quick wins are only the start, and need to be built on. Do not announce mission accomplished prematurely. Instead, add to each success to achieve more, to embed the change into the corporate culture and drive it deeper into the organization. Use increased credibility to change systems, structures, and policies that do not fit the vision. Hire, promote and develop staff who can implement the vision. Reinvigorate the process with new products, themes, and change agents. Managers focus more on the short-term, while leaders focus more on the long term to keep change alive - to make change the organization's friend.

Step 8: Incorporate Changes into the Corporate Culture

In other words, make change stick. Institutionalize new approaches. Articulate the connections between the new behaviours and corporate success. Build the means to ensure leadership development and success. To achieve this, it has to become part of the core of the organization. Kotter offers these general rules:

Cultural change comes last, not first

That the new way is superior to the old must be proved

The success must be visible and well communicated

Some people will be lost in the process

New norms and values must be reinforced with incentives and rewards - including promotions

The new culture must be reinforced with every new hire

When I joined the team I spent almost two months travelling, getting to know people, understanding the challenges they were facing in their countries, while building trust and respect. I learned a lot and thanks to their transparent and honest feedback I was quickly able to diagnose the situation and recognize the imperative for change and create a new direction. The team needed guidance and a strong vision. They were willing to learn and change the situation but did not know how to do it. During the AMAC trip I identified critical issues across the Region. I discussed it with my manager, learned from his extensive experience in Respiratory and came up with the "AMAC Respiratory Capabilities Initiative" to up-weight product launch performance & Respiratory capabilities. This initiative is comprised of 3 key pillars: Novartis respiratory portfolio and competitors knowledge: go-to-market pre-launch planning and cross-functional collaboration.

If we put the learnings I described above against the Kotter model I think we followed all of them:

Establishing a sense of urgency. We examined market and competitive realities and identified and discussed crises and major opportunities

Forming a powerful guiding coalition. Assembling a group with enough power to lead the change effort. We aligned this initiative with the primary care heads within the region

Creating a vision. Creating the winning in Respiratory vision to help direct the change effort

Communicating the vision. Using every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies. Initiative presented to senior management and regularly communicated in the monthly teleconference

Empowering others to act the vision. Encouraging risk taking and non-traditional ideas, activities and actions. Close collaboration with the countries and cluster heads

Planning for and creating short-term wins. Planning for visible performance improvements. KPI system created to track performance. Recognizing and rewarding employees involved in the improvements, i.e. Primary Care Innovation awards

Consolidating improvements and producing still more change. Hiring, promoting and developing employees who can implement the vision. New team members hired and active role in developing individuals, i.e., 'Learning and Developing' is one of the pillars of the Respiratory Capabilities initiative

Institutionalizing new approaches. Articulating the connections between the new behaviours and corporate success. Respiratory Capabilities initiative in AMAC is becoming an example for other region.

With this initiative we wanted to bring out the best in people while building high performing teams. In my life I have learned that people who work together on a challenging task will bring their individual experiences to bear, share, reflect, and learn. Ultimately, one of my key objectives through this initiative is to promote networking to encourage knowledge transfer, collaboration and best practice sharing across countries.

The personal learnings from the LDP journey have been significant not only in leading and managing change to improve organisational change but also in leading change in myself. According to people at work they clearly see that I have shifted from a high performance individual to one working towards creating a high performance team.

I have come to understand the importance of mastering culture differencies to drive change and that to work well with foreign colleagues, you may have to risk feeling inauthentic and incompetent as mentioned by Andrew L. Molinsky in the 'Three Skills Every 21st-Century Manager Needs' (Molinsky, A.L., Davenport, T. H., Iyer, B. and Davidson, C. Jan-Feb. 2012 Harvard Business Review). I have learned the importance of Code Switching Between Cultures. I have learned to make small but meaningful adjustments while staying true to my own values. I am learning how to find a middle ground between my forceful, decisive and passionate Andalusian leadership style and the more authoritarian kind expected of someone in my position. I do not underestimate the challenge of tailoring my style to a cross-culture AMAC.

I am investing time developing people on the team and coaching and creating a leadership mindset across the Region.

I asked myself what I could have done differently during this six months to be a better leader of my team and the business? Looking back, I feel that I sometimes have difficulty seeing things from outside my own perspective and have little patience with people who do not see things the same way I do. I had some power conflicts with two people while diagnosing the situation in the Region. On reflection, I should have developed cooperative relationships, demonstrating real and perceived equity while focusing on the common ground issues and interests of both sides. I also realised that language and timing can cause unnecessary conflict and that I sometimes use terms and phrases that challenge others. I should have involved them earlier in the process, recognizing the value of their opinions, as well as the value of being sensitive towards their feelings.

I think I could have communicated the need for change more effectively. I have to improve my communication skills and get better at adapting to different audiences. I did not pay enough attention to seeking out differences among people or audiences. I have to consider whether they prefer to have the information in writing or not, or whether a logical or emotional argument will play better. Also I should improve my ability to separate the passion from the message, so that I come across more professional and less emotional.

I am a forceful and decisive individual who takes decisions quickly, and I am quick to verbalize my opinions and decisions to the rest of the world without sometimes understanding all of the issues and possible solutions. I have to develop my thinking side to better apply logic to my insights and my communicat