Leaders and Leadership seems to be on everyone’s lips these days. In HR, OD and L&D, the focus seems to be all on improving business performance by improving our managers and executives. Millions are being spent by European businesses on developing the skills and capabilities of managers, and research organisations, training companies and consultancies are all queuing up to offer evidence and training solutions.

Managers and executives seem to be getting it in the neck from all sides. What’s really going on, and what, if anything, do today’s leaders need to be doing differently – and better – to improve their own, their people’s and their organisations’ performance?

Cullen Scholefield’s Managing Director, Maureen Scholefield, will be leading the discussion on this subject at this month’s Circle of Peers meetings. Entitled “The Compassionate Leader”, Maureen will be sharing the latest trends and research, and discussing how those leaders who can demonstrate a more self-aware, emotionally-intelligent, holistic and empathic approach to their business and their people generate more engagement, loyalty, productivity and financial returns for their business.

One very public environment in which leaders can really be seen for who they are and how compassionately they interact with their people is that of social media, a channel which in itself is already fraught with potential pitfalls, but in which the good can certainly rise to the top whilst those ‘with development opportunities’ can sink to the bottom. And, here at Cullen Scholefield, as we scan the social leadership landscape, it seems to us that, whilst some business leaders and CEOs are open and authentic in both their internal and external communications, few seem to be in genuine dialogue with their own colleagues and are unable to demonstrate the very values or behaviours which they are demanding of those colleagues. And we have recently seen both the worst and the best behaviours in that very exposed place.

In a recent tweetchat, the CEO of a large eLearning company described his staff as ‘subordinates’ and, when challenged if that was an appropriate description nowadays, further compounded their error by adding that really, they were ‘minions’ and that as it was his/her company they could call them what they liked. At this point, your correspondent made his excuses and left the discussion. Others noted the exchange however, and indeed someone else called out the comments as ‘astounding arrogance’. Clearly forgetting that their staff were probably already active in social media, we wonder how their staff took to being described so dismissively in such a public forum as Twitter.

More recently, and in stark contrast to the above, the CEO of Microsoft UK, Michel Van der Brel, hosted an open discussion on ‘Leadership and Wellbeing’ on Twitter, using the hashtag #AskMichel. Here was the CEO of one of the largest and most impactive organisations in the world taking time out to converse with that world, both his internal and his external stakeholders, in an open and unmoderated conversation stimulated by questions from them. You can see a curated collation of articles about and tweets from that tweetchat here: https://storify.com/niallgavinuk/social-leadership

We’d suggest that, in hosting such an open, honest and insightful public discussion, Michel demonstrated a model of the Social and Compassionate Leader that all CEOs and – indeed – any aspiring leaders, should be following if they want to engage with and enthuse all their stakeholders, be they internal colleagues or consumers/buyers of their service. Failure to grasp that fact will impact negatively on their own credibility as much as it will on the performance, outcomes and potential future viability of their businesses.

Come along to our June Circle of Peer meetings to hear Maureen’s thinking and to share your views and experience in our customary friendly and collaborative learning forum.

Upcoming Circle of Peers events: save the dates!


June 15th London 10:00 – 15:00 Circle of Peers Collaboration
June 21st Sussex 9:00 – 14:30 Circle of Peers Collaboration
June 21St Isle of Man 17:00 – 19:00 Circle of Peers Casual
June 22nd Isle of Man 12:00 – 14:30 Circle of Peers Lunch and Discuss
June 28th Gibraltar 12:00 – 14:30 Circle of Peers Lunch and Discuss
June 29th Gibraltar 17:00 – 19:00 Circle of Peers Casual