Host co-author Mark McKergow’s TEDx talk about host leadership is online today! Mark was invited to speak at TEDx Kazimierz in Krakow, Poland earlier in the year, and the resulting talk is now online for all to view! In the course of his talk Mark connects with the SOLWorld community and Sunday Assembly, both of which he played a role in developing, as examples of host leadership in action. Watch it, like and share please!
As England make somewhat unexpected progress in the World Cup, it’s interesting to take a look at the part played by manager Gareth Southgate. Southgate is unusual in terms of national team managers/coaches in that he didn’t have a long and distinguished club management career – he only coached one team, Middlesbrough, in the Championship (second tier) from 2006-2009. He came into the England job having been under-21 coach from 2013, and inherited the top role after Sam Allerdyce ‘left by mutual consent’ following allegations of malpractice. So, Southgate is not the usual England coach – he’s younger, he’s less encumbered by expectation… and he turns out to have elements of host leadership in his style.
This interesting and uplifting story was posted on Twitter recently by Jake Humphrey, sports commentator and currently host of football on the BT Sport channel. I reproduce it here – it bears close examination:
“Back in 2007 I was working on Sportsround on CBBC. I spent my time interviewing all kinds of sports people, plenty of whom were footballers. I quickly got used to being kept waiting 2-3 hours past the time the interview should happen, interviews being cancelled at the last moment, or doing interviews in nondescript rooms to keep us away from seeing training or interrupting players.
Some of the stories you wouldn’t believe!! I didn’t mind it, no worries, it was part of the job, and a kids TV show is hardly the top of everyone’s list!! However, our trip to @Boro about a decade ago couldn’t have been more different.
10 minutes after we were due to chat to Gareth he came running down the small hill from the training complex to the pitch where we were standing, apologising profusely that he got held up in a meeting. He immediately knew my name…and the name of all the crew I was working with!
Straight away he said ‘come and meet the players’ and took us right into the centre of the training pitch, stopped the players working, and told them about us and how crucial he believed sport was on children’s TV to inspire the next generation.
We were then asked what WE wanted to do. Which players WE wanted to speak to, whether WE wanted to stick around for the whole of training. Nothing was too much trouble. At the end of training, and our filming, he was the one shaking hands, thanking us for coming, seeing us out.
And 10 yrs later he leads his country into our biggest game in a decade. I’m so pleased a good guy is getting what he deserves, & from what I’ve seen of his press conferences, his relationship with the media, & how open his players have been, he has stayed true to his principles.”
It’s worth looking at this through the host leadership lens. Southgate is clearly treating his visitors as honoured guests. He welcomes them over the threshold (Gatekeeper), he knows who they are and introduces them to others (Connector), he offers them choice and possibilities (Inviter), he takes care of the space (Space-Creator)… so many aspects of great hosting and host leadership on show in this one short story. Following England’s last-16 win over Columbia, he was widely pictured consoling opposition players (right). Whatever your allegiances in footballing terms, it’s fascinating to see a new generation of leader who also brings a new generation of leadership with him.
Plans for our 2018 Host Leadership Gathering on 28-29 May 2018 are firming up. Some of the workshops and topics on the agenda include:
- Rolf Katzenberger on the dynamics of moving between roles and positions while hosting
- Helen Bailey on the latest work on a Host Leadership behavioural questionnaire – we’ll be sharing the latest prototype and discussing how to use it
- Alistair Cockburn on ‘guest leadership’ – his latest idea and an intriguing take on the host-guest relationship
- Mark McKergow on how the use and application of host leadership ideas is spreading around the world
- Géry Derbier and Laurent Sarrazin on using host leadership as part of their approach to agile projects and trainings.
There will also be experienced host leadership practitioners from across Europe, open space sessions so you can bring along your own challenges, topics and questions, plenty of time to be together in an exciting and developing part of Paris, and a wonderful opportunity to get some new ideas and practices. We’re hoping you will join us!
For more information: http://hostleadership.com/gathering.
For booking: https://www.weezevent.com/host-leadership-gathering
For information and questions, contact Mark McKergow himself at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wonderful news from us here at Host Leadership. Plans are coming together for our next Gathering, which will be in Paris, France on 28-29 May 2018. Tickets are now available. For more details and to book, head to the Gathering page on this site. To simply book tickets, go to the booking site.
This event will be of great interest and value if you are:
- Already using Host Leadership ideas in your work
- Wishing to learn about Host Leadership in all kinds of settings
- A leadership development professional wishing to learn about these latest ideas
- Someone who wants to explore leadership in the context of working with complexity, emergence and uncertainty
- Someone who wants to hang out with some very interesting people from around the world and have a great time!
We’re looking forward to meeting you in Paris in May. Fantastique!
Peter Hawkins, one of the most experienced and respected voices on the leadership and transformation scene in the UK, has just published a new research report for Henley Business School. Tomorrow’s Leadership and the Necessary Revolution in Today’s Leadership Development brings together interviews, surveys and leading edge thinking in a succinct summary of the state of play in leadership – an important and very approachable read.
One of the key sections (p 18) is about the need to move from Heroic to ‘collective and collaborative’ leadership. Prof Hawkins writes about how much we hear about the end of heroic leadership, and yet how much leadership development activity is still focused on producing individual heroic leaders. He quotes a couple of very nice quotes from the research:
“Leadership will increasingly become the skill of enabling a collaborative co-creative process amongst peers.” Mark Drewell, Senior Partner, Foresight Group
“Leadership is becoming less about being the smartest in the room and much more about how we collaborate, work with diverse stakeholders, inspire and bring the best out of others. Being more inclusive and collaborative. It’s about developing our ability to be curious; our ability to explore new approaches, new perspectives, engage different stakeholders and view points, and empathise with diverse perspectives.” Interviewed global HR director
Both of these look to us like reasons for building host leadership into leadership development processes as soon as possible! We’ll be in touch with Peter Hawkins to discuss this. In the meantime, the report is an excellent read.
We’re delighted to have a new video to share, featuring Mark McKergow himself introducing the concept of host leadership through three leadership metaphors – hero, servant and host. This intimate presentation was recorded live at a workshop in Helsinki, Finland, and thanks go to Taitoba’s Peter Sundman who both organised the workshop and made the recording. It’s around seven minutes of Mark’s engaging live presentation style – check it out below.
As we look back on world developments in 2017, I wonder whether this will come to be seen as the year that ‘soft power’ went missing. On one side of the Atlantic, we have the British Government’s attempts to negotiate Brexit by threatening from the start to walk out of the talks because ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’. On the other side of the Atlantic, we see President Trump overtly threatening nations who fail to support that US’s policy on recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. These are ‘hard power’ moves – the power that comes from force, threat and coercion. Whatever happened to ‘soft power’?
The concept of soft power was developed by Harvard academic Joseph Nye as the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion. Rather than falling back on tough-guy stances and strong-arm tactics, proponents of soft power point to the influence that can be gained from an outstretched hand of welcome, the desirability of co-operation rather than the pain of dispute. Soft power is based, in the end, on the attractiveness of positive consequences and outcomes. Hard power, on the other hand, is rooted in the pain of negative consequences.
Countries like the UK and USA have been able to develop huge soft power over the years, in no small part down to cultural exports like music, TV and (for the USA in particular) films. For decades, other countries have taken on western thinking and customs almost by osmosis, by watching, listening and engaging. These countries have also had long-term diplomatic and voluntary programmes such as the Peace Corps and the British Council, who in various ways have built connections based on common interests and the furthering of humanitarian and social progress.
Of course, hard power tactics are always hovering in the background and can’t be completely set aside in international relations. The question is about the relative positions that hard and soft power can take on in building progress. In our book Host, Helen Bailey and I talk about ‘smart power’, which is using both hard and sort power in appropriate combinations. As proponents of host leadership, we advocate starting with soft power and using it as far as it can go. Good hosts – and good leaders – tend to leave the hard power options hanging in the background, perhaps as a gentle reminder of possible alternative ways and as a last resort when other routes have failed.
So what’s going on today? We see the UK and USA, so often leaders in soft power diplomacy, resorting to overt and public hard power bargaining. I suspect that in both cases the administrations have been co-opted by groups who have been fuming on the sidelines for decades, without experience of actually getting things done. In the UK, the Brexiters look back to an imagined past where Britannia ruled the waves and the world marched to the Empire’s drum. (This Empire was, of course, primarily a hard power construction.) The role of ‘experts’, at least in international relations, trade, economics and business, has been explicitly rejected by those who now find themselves Cabinet ministers.
In the USA Donald Trump, a businessman of dubious record and practices, seeks to play the zero-sum game that he and his supporter base understands (predicated on winning and losing) rather than the longer-term more ambiguous soft power of partnership building and mutual gain – where both sides can ‘win’ by enhancing their positions together. Trump’s rejection of science, knowledge and expertise is surely unparalleled in modern times – who else would appoint to the role of Education Secretary a billionaire with no previous experience, or an EPA (environment) head wilfully ignorant of the scientific consensus about global warming and air quality? On both sides of the pond, there seems to be no way to sustain a rational basis for debate and discussion – and so the emphasis immediately shifts to clumsy execution of threats and hard power tactics.
What will happen in 2018? It seems to me that the role of soft power, and host leadership overall, has never had a more important part to play, in both trying to ensure that the worst results of failed hard power tactics are avoided and in bringing relations back onto a more productive level. The trouble with making chest-beating threats is that one quickly finds oneself in a position where one must carry through (and damage everyone in the process) or back down (and find oneself in a much weaker position long-term). Perhaps given the noise made by these administrations, we might hope to see soft power being used behind the scenes to attempt to find creative ways out of the knots inflicted on us by one-eyed simplistic leaders.
In the longer term, whatever happens, our societies will surely need to be reforged into some kind of greater unity and connection. This simply can’t happen using hard power leadership – Governments can impose their will for a while, but the democratic pendulum will eventually swing back and new visions will ensue. The question is how long this will take, how much damage will be inflicted in the mean time, and who has the vision, skill and courage to do it. Because – and get this – soft power is actually more difficult, more subtle, more effortful – than hard power. But the results are immeasurable more, the potential hugely greater. Let’s make 2018 the year where soft power reveals itself in new ways and gains new traction in this always difficult emerging world.
By the way… we will have some exciting news about Host Leadership in January! Keep 29 May 2018 free to come and join our next international Gathering.
Mark McKergow PhD MBA is a consultant and author bringing new ideas into the world of organisations. He is the co-author of the best-selling The Solutions Focus which has sold some 30,000 copies and is in 11 languages. His latest book (with Helen Bailey) is Host: Six new roles of engagement for teams, organisations, communities and movements (Solutions Books, London, 2014). Mark has worked on every continent except Antarctica, and is known around the world for his winning combination of scientific rigour (as a ‘recovering physicist’) and performance pizazz. His work presents ways of acting which fit, rather than fight, the complex emerging world in which we find ourselves.
The Bulgarian language edition of Host is now out. Published by Istok-Zapad, it goes under the Bulgarian title of ‘Гостоприемно лидерство’, or (literally) Hospitable Leadership. The ISBN is 978-619-01-0105-5. More details from the publisher at http://iztok-zapad.eu/books/book/2007/гостоприемно-лидерство-марк-маккъргоу-и-хелън-бейли.
Come and join Mark McKergow for an action-packed conference in Sofia, Bulgaria. Mark will be leading a half-day session about using host leadership ideas to engage people for performance and results, and then participating with seven other speakers in a packed conference day about all kinds of new organisational thinking. More details at http://2017.reinventingorganizations.eu/.
I was very privileged to be invited to give a keynote at the prestigious StretchCon conference in Budapest last week. The event was excellent and I had lots of interesting conversations. The event was live streamed and recorded, and so you can watch my talk online for free at
During the 40 minute talk I discuss leadership challenges today, leading as a relationship not a role, the different relationships implied by various leadership metaphors, and expanding the metaphor of leading as a host.
There were other speakers too – see the conference page on ustream at http://www.ustream.tv/stretch.