Often when people approach me to improve their communication skills, they are looking for tips and tricks to improve their charisma. It is much more powerful to work over the long term to develop your character as a leader.

Character is formed over many, many years as you work to remove the pieces that are not part of who you want to be. Character is chiselled out of the rock, slowly removing all the dirt and excess before revealing the statue below.

  • Charisma is “compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others”. (on wikipedia)
  • Character is “an individual’s stable moral qualities. The concept of character can imply a variety of attributes including the existence or lack of virtues such as empathy, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty, or of good behaviors or habits.” (on wikipedia)

This is a guest post from Ecatherine Matnadze, who serves as the Vistage Spain In-house Leadership Coach - working with me and the leadership team in clarifying goals and staying disciplined in our actions.

When a change plan fails, it is more often than not due to the human dynamics inside the organisation.  It doesn’t matter whether your plan is “good” or “bad”, it matters that you work to build a coalition of support amongst those that will be affected by your plan.

Most leaders can come up with a goal and with a plan. It’s the relationships that make things happen or not.

The 5 Types of People in Any Change Initiative

  1. Committed Supporters,
  2. Compliant Supporters,
  3. Neutral Parties,
  4. Antagonists, and
  5. Active Resisters.

1. Committed Supporters

Committed supporters are people who will go out of their way to help an idea happen. A committed supporter is someone who will take personal risk to make this happen. There is an old story about a pig and a chicken going to a picnic. The chicken brings eggs; the pig brings bacon. The chicken is compliant; the pig is committed.

We want to know who the committed supporters are. Why do they support this idea? How can we leverage them? How can we get them to influence others?

There aren’t going to be a lot of committed supporters in most organisations. But if you can find them, they can be enormously helpful.

2. Compliant Supporters

These are the chickens who come to the picnic with eggs. They’re helpful. They’re supportive. Who are they? Why do they support this? How can we use their support to get things done?

Maybe we can turn them into committed supporters. Maybe we can build the relationship a little bit more so they’ll go from bringing the eggs to bringing the bacon.

3. Neutral Parties

There’s a lot of people who just sit back and watch and wait. They don’t take any risks, they’re not sure, or they’re just neutral. And again, we want to identify them – if we can get more of them on our side, we can get a lot more momentum for our idea.

Who are they? Why are they neutral? And what reasons can we use to influence them to turn them into a supporter?

4. Antagonists

Now we’re moving to the people who are negative. Antagonists are not willing to take personal risk to stop the idea, but they might feel moderately threatened by it; they might not understand it; they might not like it. Sometimes they’re very vocal against it, but they’re still not willing to do anything.

The best you can do with the antagonists is to get them to be neutral. At least get them not to speak out against the idea in meetings. Would you go and talk to them? Maybe you redeploy them somewhere where they don’t have an impact on this idea.

5. Active Resisters

These are the nemeses, the saboteurs. Active resisters feel personally threatened by the idea and will do anything to resist.

It’s very rare that they’re irrational, unless you have done something that’s caused a personal enmity. Usually they have other incentives and it’s a matter of will, of really working hard to get them on your side. Sometimes it’s a matter of changing the way they’re rewarded. Maybe someone with power can talk to them and say, listen, this is moving forward, I need you out of the way.

Sometimes the best you can do with active resisters is to isolate them – maybe they have to move to a different department, or leave the organisation.

You don’t need Everyone to Support you…

It’s said that in any major initiative at most you’re going to get about one-third on your side as committed and/or compliant supporters. Few want to change, and most people are in a state of inertia. It’s okay for people to be negative, you just don’t want so many of them that it’s going to make it impossible the initiative to succeed. You don’t need everybody to support you. The key is finding the right number of people.


Ecatherine Matnadze is Certified Executive and Team coach, focusing on coaching top leaders and their executive teams. Having worked as a CEO herself, she understands the demands placed on high-achieving leaders, and helps them balance business results with personal well-being.

Ecatherine is based in Barcelona, Spain. She works with Spanish- and English- speaking clients, both locally and internationally. You should connect and follow her posts on LinkedIn.

I spoke with one of my mentors in Madrid this week.  We spoke about success in business.

What is business success?

  • What price is worth paying?
  • What are the ingredients of achieving success?
  • Is Business Success due to Great Decisions, or is it due to Excellent Implementation?

I share his answer in this video.

PS 99.9% of business (and life) success is due to Commitment, rather than Brilliant Ideas or Decisions

I was reading about how the Washington Post has changed since it’s purchase by Jeff Bezos.  One of the quotes in the article struck a chord with me:

“not to fix broken things, like IT will do at a company, but build the future”.

Jeff Bezos brought in Jarrod Dicker to run technology development at the Post – a division that is called R.E.D. (Research, Experimentation and Development) and told him that he was “not to fix broken things, like IT will do at a company, but build the future”.  (Read more at The Drum)

Leadership should take this as a mantra – work on what is important for the future of the enterprise, not what is broken in today’s version of the enterprise.  Accenture had a similar mantra when I was working as a consultant back in the 1990’s “Don’t pave the cow path”.

We were told that the worst IT implementation is one that just automates the processes of pre-computer work.  The best is to design the processes and technology for what the customers really want to achieve with their interactions with the company.


What is the activity that you could do for €10 that would give you the most happiness over 1 hour? for €100? for €1000? for €10,000?

This video is from Dublin. My dad makes an appearance. Some scenes from the Ireland vs Argentina rugby, and from Trinity College and at UCD Smurfit Business Schools where I was teaching during the week.

The Wise Man and the Bowl of Lentils

If you liked this post, you will like Happiness, It is about the quality of your Relationships and The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People.

What would you do with €10/$10?

What is the activity that you could do for €10 that would give you the most happiness over 1 hour? for €100? for €1000? for €10,000?

In the 1960s, while consulting for a British factory, Elliott Jaques had a controversial insight: Employees at different levels of the company had different time horizons

Line workers focused on tasks that could be completed in a single shift; managers devoted their energies to tasks requiring six months or more to complete; Senior leaders and the CEO were pursuing goals over the span of several years.

Jacques’ Time Span of Discretion

Jaques said that just as humans differ in intelligence, we differ in our ability to handle timespans.

Each of us has a time horizon we are comfortable with, what Jaques called our “Time span of discretion”.  This term defines the timespan of the longest task this individual can successfully undertake.

Organisations recognise this: workers are paid hourly, managers annually, and senior executives compensated with stock options.

The following chart shows the type of work found at each Time Horizon:

Complexity Description of Capability Organisational Role
Most Complex
Construct and pursue world wide strategic plans in the largest of the world’s corporations.
Super Corporation CEO
Construct and pursue world wide strategic plans. Place businesses in the world.
Corporate CEO
Lead the accumulated impact of multiple business units.
Corporate EVP
Optimize the function of a single business unit or corporate support staff.
Business Unit President
Manage multiple, interdependent serial projects. Balance resources among a number of departments.
General Manager
Plan and carry out sequential projects while considering contingencies and alternatives.
Regional Manager or
Manager of Managers
Accumulate bits of information to diagnose and anticipate problems. Proactivity appears. Trends are noticed.
First Line Manager Supervisor
Least complex
Follow predefined procedures. When an obstacle is encountered, seek help. No anticipation of problems is expected.
Shop Floor Operator

The Challenge: 100 Year Problems in a 4 Year System

Our current leadership promotional systems require you first to be successful at annual or 4 year timespans before you can move into the positions that allow you to set 50 or 100 year strategy.  Politicians have 4 years to deliver an impact (and 12 months to run a campaign).  Divisional managers have 1-3 years to deliver an impact if they are to be considered for 20-50 year strategic decision roles.

Climate change and Peace between warring nations are so difficult to resolve because we have a political system that elects 4 year thinkers when we really need 20 to 50 year thinkers in office.

PS What’s your time horizon?  Let me know in the comments below 😉

This video is about Leadership development. I find that leaders worry about the training for those around them… but who worries about the training for the leaders?

What should Leaders be Learning?

The 7 Key Skills of a Successful Business Leader

At Vistage, we believe there are 8 major areas that Leaders need to be working on:

  1. Inspiring a Shared Vision
  2. Leading and Letting Others Manage
  3. Knowing your Numbers
  4. Attracting and Retaining the Right People
  5. Creating and Retaining Customer Loyalty
  6. Watching Emerging Trends, Risks and Opportunities
  7. Taking Care of Yourself

Where can you Find Inspiring Leaders in Continuing Development?

This video is about the 4 seasons of nature, and the 4 seasons of our life.

Farmers understand the seasons – they don’t plant in autumn and try to reap a harvest in winter… they know that spring is for planting, summer is for nurturing and autumn is for reaping.

In our own lives we have these seasons. If you can recognise the seasons of your life, you can keep a better perspective and clarity about what you are seeking to achieve.

Stay strong… and remember: all winters come to an end and spring, the window of opportunity will come again.

I mentioned Brandon Dempsey’s blog post: How to cautiously and successfully reap the rewards of your hard work