How can you improve decision making?

In their book “Decisive” Chip and Dan Heath came up with the WRAP framework (shown here) in order to tackle four key “villains” of decision-making, i.e., ”common traps and biases”.

What are the steps?

=> Widen the frame:
– e.g., Ask great questions and experiment
– e.g., Consider the opportunity cost of a choice that isn’t taken

=> Reality-test your assumptions:
– e.g., Seek out different perspectives and counter-evidence
– e.g., Prototyping and testing

=> Attain distance before deciding:
– e.g., View the situation as if it was happening to someone else
– e.g., Remember what’s important in the long term

=> Prepare to be wrong:
– e.g., Adopt probabilistic thinking
– e.g., Consider and plan how to learn from negative outcomes

Some useful advice and what I like are the links to things such as active listening, design thinking, and learner- / psychological safety. All important stuff.

You can learn more here:

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Are your managers able to communicate about pay, pay fairness, and pay transparency?

Are your managers able to communicate about pay, pay fairness, and pay transparency?

This is a hot topic. New regulations are forcing organizations to think about pay transparency and fair pay on a global level. Pay management, governance practices and reward communication are now urgent focus areas.

In our latest survey, we found that:

=> 24% of companies say their lack of a clear job architecture and job levelling frameworks was a factor holding back increased pay programme communication

=> 33% indicated that one reason for a lack of pay transparency was because their pay programmes were simply not ready.

Probably the most interesting finding is just how crucial managers are when it comes to communicating about rewards:

=> Eight in 10 organizations report using managers to communicate pay program information to their workforce

=> Yet, few report adequately preparing managers for this task. Only two in five say they are effective at educating managers on pay and pay equity issues.


What can you do?

=> One success factor in reward communications is effective use of digital platforms to personalise information for employees and managers. This is an area of employee experience that’s going to become more and more important very quickly.

Learn more about that here:

And you can learn more about our Pay Transparency Survey here:

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What is a network mindset?

In this article David Ehrlichman defines it as embracing the idea “that everything is connected — that the actions of individuals, organizations, and sectors affect one another in profound and often-unexpected ways.”

One of the main implications of shifting to a network mindset is in how you think about leadership.

=> “When you embrace a network mindset, you stop working in isolation.”

=> “Instead, you turn your focus toward cultivating connections, strengthening flows, and sharing resources to do more together than is possible alone.”

“The Network Mindset: Scaling Out, Not Up”. The link is here:

The article references a great piece by Jane Wei-Skillern and Nora Silver on “Four Network Principles for Collaboration Success” which you can find here:

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What is network leadership?

What is Network Leadership? (I keep reading about it).

While traditional leadership theories focus on individual characteristics and behaviours, Network Leadership Theory views both leader and follower attributes as being “network system properties”.

There are a lot of different takes on network leadership and the “4C Model” shown here is an attempt to integrate various concepts.

It tries to answer the question: What type of network leadership is most effective and in what type of contexts?

The model highlights four key aspects:
=> Connecting: Group cohesion, shared goals, ambitions or values
=> Coaching: For commitment and enthusiasm
=> Catalyzing: Collective performance and shared ownership
=> Consulting: Involving people in developing and realising goals.

The model comes from this review paper by Madelon Wind, Esther Klaster, and Celeste Wilderom:

Reference: Wind, Madelon & Klaster, Esther & Wilderom, Celeste. (2021). Leading Networks Effectively: Literature Review and Propositions. Journal of Leadership Studies. 14. 10.1002/jls.21728.

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How do you move from “mouthset” to “mindset”?

From simply adopting the language of change to transforming the way you do things?

It’s a terrific question and I like the idea of “mouthset” – especially as you think about some of the big challenges ahead. Lots of organisations feel stuck there.

This article by Emma Blomkamp, Thea Snow and Ingrid Burkett argues:

=> First, there is an unsettling
=> Second, there is a breakdown
=> Third, there is a reconciling & realignment.

The specific focus in the article is co-design, but the question applies more broadly for sure.

From the Griffith Centre for Systems Innovation, the article is here:

I think it aligns nicely with William Bridges’ Transition Model, which I’ve always liked: Endings, Neutral Zone, New Beginnings.

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What really matters for Transformation?

The iceberg model.

I associate this iceberg model with Peter Senge. It shows the different levels of a system, with most hidden far below the surface.

=> Events are visible; they might be a crisis or a success (both can be fleeting)
=> Patterns are trends and behaviours that emerge over time and are more consistent
=> Structures are rules and policies that shape patterns and events
=> Mental models are beliefs and values; they’re the deepest level and the most powerful.

The point is a simple one, that if we operate based mainly on what is visible (the event level), then we are only in a position to react.

You can anticipate patterns. You can design structures. But in order to transform systems, you need to understand the mental models that underlie structures. You need to change mindsets.

With transformation being such a focus for leaders in so many industries, we’re doing lots of work exploring mindsets and identifying the moments that matter for shaping them. If you’re interested in seeing an example, you can listen to a great discussion with my colleague Marisa Hall (Co-Head of our Thinking Ahead Institute) here:

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There are many iceberg pictures, this one comes from the excellent Donella Meadows website:

* I’m not sure Peter Senge uses an iceberg though. The Fifth Discipline uses lots pyramids.

What’s required of leaders to really make change stick?

Here’s some of our research:

=> Know what success looks like and tell the story
=> Communicate as many specifics as possible, acknowledging what is not yet known
=> Display empathy, self-awareness and transparency in communications
=> Take initiative for communicating over and above the core corporate messaging.

=> Build communities by finding opportunities to involve employees
=> Generate energy around the change and model the future state by “walking the talk”
=> Stay visible and accessible during difficult periods [** This can be a tough one]
=> Encourage two-way dialogue and respond proactively to feedback received.

=> Identify and address resistance and barriers to change
=> Ensure a communication and/or change management plan is in place
=> Provide the tools and resources required
=> Create opportunities to learn new skills needed in future state.

=> Use authenticity to inspire confidence and respect from employees
=> Seek input from others to address unanswered questions from employees
=> Ensure people can speak up and create psychological safety
=> Evaluate impact of own actions on others and adjust behaviour or communication style as appropriate.

Read more about our research and our approach to change leadership here:


How is a CEO’s personality reflected in their company’s culture?

I love this question and it’s the focus of new research into the alignment of strategy, culture and the personality of the CEO by Charles O’Reilly, Xubo Cao, and Donald Sull.

The authors “used a natural language algorithm on earnings call data to assess the personalities of 460 CEOs at more than 300 companies.” [Interesting…]

They then “analysed Glassdoor reviews to calculate the firms’ organizational cultures, including factors such as collaboration, execution, and performance.” [There’s more and more work being done like this.]

They found that:

=> “Extraverted or sociable CEOs were associated with agility, collaboration, and execution”

=> “Agreeable or trusting CEOs were associated with flexibility and internal focus”

=> “Highly conscientious or detail-oriented CEOs typically led companies whose cultures placed less value on agility, innovation, and — interestingly — execution and results.”

It’s important to think about what’s reflecting what in all of this. And culture formation is complicated. The authors are most interested in alignment I think. As they say, “There’s no ideal personality type for executives — but businesses need the right one for success… The ideal personality of a CEO will largely depend on their company.”

Here’s a link to a summary of their research:


You can find the research paper here: O’Reilly, C., Cao, X., & Sull, D. (2023). CEO Personality: The Cornerstone of Organizational Culture? Group & Organization Management, 0(0).

How do leaders’ emotions affect employee engagement?

Here’s some new research looking at this question (based on an experience sampling method).

=> “Leaders’ emotional expressions are not just fleeting moments; they may set the tone for the entire workday of employees.”

=> “Leaders’ total amount of positive emotions, such as happiness, excitement and satisfaction, promote employees’ work engagement, as they can enhance positivity on that day.”

=> “Similarly, leaders’ total amount of negative emotions, such as sadness, anxiety and anger, can decrease employees’ work engagement on that day, by eliciting more negative feelings in them.”

The authors explain their findings in terms of “Emotion-as-Social-Information (EASI) Theory”.

They suggest:
– Leaders need to enhance their emotional intelligence (EQ)
– Leaders should recognise the power of maintaining consistent (observable) positive emotions in the workplace
– Employees should be aware that their emotions can be influenced by those of their leaders.

=> “When dealing with a volatile leader, maintaining a certain emotional distance might be a wise strategy to safeguard their own emotional well-being at work”.

Yes, you can certainly imagine times when that’s true!

Emotions in the workplace is a hot topic and this is an interesting take on how observed emotions can impact on teams and engagement.

Here’s the link to the article:

The full paper is here: Sun, J., Wayne, S. J., & Liu, Y. (2022). The Roller Coaster of Leader Affect: An Investigation of Observed Leader Affect Variability and Engagement. Journal of Management, 48(5), 1188–1213.

The Emotion Wheel image shown here is from:

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What matters for trust?

Here’s a trust recipe. (Although, it’s key to remember that trust is contingent and dynamic).

What matters for trust?

Here are four models I’ve shared recently. All of them resonate with me for different reasons.

🟦 The Trust Triangle

🟦 David Maister’s Trust Equation

🟦 Extreme Trust

🟦 The Trifecta of Trust

If you stand back, you can identify some common ingredients. Here’s a “Trust Recipe”:

  1. Communication: Sharing information, providing clear expectations, and listening actively
  2. Consistency: In actions, policies, and decision-making processes
  3. Integrity: Acting with honesty and fairness, and following clear values, even when it’s difficult (especially when it’s difficult).
  4. Competence: Demonstrating the ability to perform job responsibilities effectively and efficiently
  5. Reliability: Following through on commitments and promises
  6. Supportiveness: Offering help and support to people and being receptive to their ideas and concerns
  7. Respect: Showing consideration for the feelings, values, and ideas of others
  8. Fairness: Applying rules and policies impartially and justly
  9. Recognition: Acknowledging and appreciating people’s contributions
  10. Confidentiality: Respecting privacy and handling sensitive information with discretion
  11. Empathy: Understanding and sharing the feelings of others
  12. Vulnerability: Leaders who are willing to show their own vulnerability, admitting mistakes and limitations, can create an environment where trust thrives
  13. Empowerment: Giving employees autonomy and trust in their decision-making can empower them and build reciprocal trust
  14. Psychological Safety: Making sure people can speak up, that they can disagree, that they can take risks and admit mistakes
  15. Constructive Feedback: Providing helpful, non-judgmental feedback at the right time and in the right place.

There are a few other key points I’d make about any recipe for trust. Trust is hard to define because it is contingent (it always depends on the context) and dynamic (it changes based on the nature of a relationship). You need to keep in mind that:

  • Trust is a process, meaning there are phases and episodes through which trust is formed and eroded. As such, trust is cumulative, the sum of personal experience and recurring exchanges. There are key moments when trust is tested by critical incidents. And there are conditions that lead to trusted relationships being more likely to form at those key moments.
  • For example, trustors need to have a propensity to trust and a degree of vulnerability, which is the partly a result of personal characteristics, norms and also incentives.
  • In addition, trustees need to have earned some degree of trustworthiness, which is the result of an assessment of their competence, integrity and benevolence.
  • Because an assessment is required, trust is cognitive. In other words, it is based on what I know. Once I have relevant knowledge of your character, your competence, your reliability, then my knowledge constitutes my degree of trust or distrust. In this way, transparency and openness, as well as misinformation and bias, can influence trust. For Russell Hardin, at the heart of a trusted relationship is the knowledge of encapsulated interests. By this he means: “I know you have an interest in fulfilling my trust in you (you encapsulate my interest in your own)”.
  • Trust is also a form of social capital within a group or a community. It depends on reciprocity and exchange. Francis Fukayma emphasises the importance of what he calls “spontaneous sociability”. For Fukuyama, “trust is the expectation that arises within a community of regular, honest, and cooperative behaviour based on commonly shared norms, on the part of other members of that community.”

Given all of the above, Mayer et al provide an integrative model of trust which pulls together these different strands. They define trust as “the willingness of a party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party based on the expectation that the other will perform a particular action important to the trustor, irrespective of the ability to monitor or control that other party”.


Hardin, Russell. Trust. Cambridge: Polity, 2006.

Fukuyama, Francis. Trust: The social virtues and the creation of prosperity. Free Press Paperbacks, 1995.

Schoorman, F. David, Roger C. Mayer, and James H. Davis. “An integrative model of organizational trust: Past, present, and future.” Academy of Management Review 32.2 (2007): 344–354.

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