Author Archives: Mark

The Host Leadership Gathering 2024 will be in Sofia, Bulgaria on 3-4 June

The 2024 Gathering in Sofia is dedicated to producing benefits for all the participants and their teams / organisations. We want to continue building productive relationships among experienced Host Leadership practitioners, sharpen our thinking and generate practical ideas.

Day one is about exploring the vast territory of Host Leadership, spreading ideas, clues and possibilities. We look forward to short talks and workshops from people who use the host model in their daily and professional lives. We invite you to share your thoughts and practices.

If you wish, we can enjoy the first evening of the Gathering together. Dinner will take place somewhere nice and delicious. It is included in the price of the registration ticket.

The second day is an Open Space day – participatory, inclusive and collaborative.

We bring in our stories, questions, paradoxes, strategies, insights and set out on our joint Host Leadership journeys of discovery.

Be our guest in the International Business School in Sofia, on June 3th-4th, 2024.

More information and registration at There is a Supporter ticket available at reduced price until January 2024, so book now to save money.

Hospitality Leadership in Hebron schools – new research

A new research paper shows how Host Leadership is having an impact around the world. The paper is Hospitality Leadership Indicators among Public School Principals in Hebron Governorate Indicators and Obstacles (A Qualitative Study), by Reem Muhammad Anati and Nabil J Jondi in the Journal of Education College Wasit University. The abstract reads:

The study aimed to detect the indicators of hospitality leadership among the principals of public schools in Hebron governorate indicators and obstacles (qualitative study), and in order to achieve the objectives of the study, the qualitative approach was used in collecting and analyzing qualitative data according to the rooted theory Grounded Theory, which is consistent with the research questions and objectives, and accordingly a card was developed for the semi-organized interview to collect data, where the study was applied to (10) principals in public schools in Hebron governorate, and the study resulted in a set of The results are that hospitality leadership has six traits that appeared through the answers of the participants, influencing others, building trust, care, material and moral support, effective communication, and building positive relationships, so the practice of managers for leadership style based on the attributes was high, and the study showed that there are some obstacles faced by managers, including administrative and material obstacles, technical obstacles and personal obstacles, and the study recommended the importance of enhancing hospitality leadership behavior, to reduce these obstacles and raise their level among public school principals.

The paper ciites our Host book as well as two other papers including the original Host Leadership: Towards a new yet ancient metaphor paper from 2009 and How To Be A Host Leader from 2015.

Very excitingly the authors have been looking at how our six roles of a host leader show up in their actual school leadership practice. They write:

The study showed a bundle of results that confirmed the host leadership six roles through participants’ answers. The six roles appear as leaders’competencies, including building positive relationships, providing support, providing care, influencer, effective communicator, and building self-esteem.

You can see the whole paper (abstract in English, text in Arabic) at

The DOI reference is

With current developments in Palestine, it’s very refreshing and optimistic to see host leadership being a useful idea in these contested places.


The mega-importance of micro-interactions – in Host Leadership and elsewhere

I’ve just published two posts on Steps To A Humanity Of Organisation about the mega-importance of micro-interactions. Part 1 deals with micro-aggressions and how seemingly small remarks can become intolerable for those at whom they are aimed. Part 2, on a more positive note, looks at micro-solidarity and micro-affirmations and how (different) small remarks can help build and sustain relationships.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Steps To A Humanity Of Organisation is free to read and subscribe to. Do it today!

NEW Lead as a connector, not a constrainer

Mark McKergow has a new article out in Developing Leaders Quarterly. Lead as a connector, not a constrainer is a new piece on how connecting people helps them, the leader and the organisation, while failing to do so simply constrains all kinds of things from happening.

It’s available here as a free download PDF. Check it out!

The lastest issue of Developing Leaders Quarterly has a focus on ecosystemic leadership. Subscribe here to get the whole pocket-sized magazine packed with interesting articles.

When Teams Work book wins highly commended award (and includes lots of Host Leadership!)

Our great friend and long-term colleague Mike Brent of Hult Ashridge business school is a great enthusiast for Host Leadership and includes it in his work and teaching. We’re very excited to report that Mike’s latest book When Teams Work: How to develop and lead a high performing team, has been Highly Commended in the People. Culture and Management category at the Business Book Of The Year awards in London recently.

Mike Brent and Fiona Dent on stage at the Business Book Awards

Mike wrote the book with his colleague Fiona Elsa Dent and England rugby star Nigel Melville. Mike says that he’s been invited before and never wins anything, so this time he had no speech prepared and had to improvise! It all went very well.

Mike Brent with his award-winning book and the award

The book has proved to be a best-seller around the world. Mike introduces the idea of leading as a host right up-front, with the six roles of a host leader taking a central position. We are very excited that lots more people around the world are discovering Host Leadership! Thanks Mike, Fiona and Nigel.

Host Leadership in the ‘liminal space’ between professional and life worlds; Altogether Better

Host author Mark McKergow is writing a piece on Substack every week at the moment. Last week’s has caused some excitement – it’s about a new way of using Host Leadership ideas! Alyson McGregor and her colleagues at Altogether Better, a UK Nartional Health Service network, are exploring how to work in the ‘liminal space’ between the ‘professional’ world of the doctors practice and the ‘life’ world of patients – and Host Leadership is part of it. Read it now (and it’s free to subscribe for new ideas every week).

Host Leadership Hint #10: Choosing – and using – your boundaries makes ‘difficult’ decisions easier

There has been a lot in the British news recently about Nadim Zahawi, a cabinet minister who was sacked by prime minister Rishi Sunak at the weekend. Zahawi had been penalised by the UK tax authorities for errors which he had not revealed when asked at various stages. The final straw came when Sir Laurie Magnus, recently appointed ethics advisor to the prime minister, found that Sunak had clearly breached the ministerial code (a code of conduct which ministers are supposed to follow) no less than seven times.

From the perspective of a host leader, this issue is wound up in the Gatekeeper role and the negotiation of boundaries. In the Host book we talk about the negotiation and observance of boundaries as a key part of leading as a host. Host leaders are clear about where boundaries are, and what happens when people cross them.

One kind of boundary is around a space or container where things happen. ‘In this team/project/community we work like this and not like that’. When people join the team or step into the space, it’s the role of the host leader to introduce these boundaries and help folk get accustomed to them. This kind of ‘enforcement’ is more like a routine than a rule; something to be learned and habitually used than enforced with punishments. (Remember, host leaders prefer to work with the soft power of invitation than the hard power of coercion.)

Another related kind of boundary is choosing what is acceptable and encouraged within the space, and what is not. The ministerial code is just such one of these, and is quite clearly written. What’s the problem then? One problem is that in recent times, prime ministers have chosen to ignore it. When home secretary Priti Patel was found to have breached the code by bullying her staff, then-prime minster Boris Johnson announced that he had full confidence in her (prompting the understandable resignation of his ethics advisor Sir Alex Allan).  (Some pedants will point out that as the code is the pm’s to write and enforce, they can’t break it – as if such a flexible interpretation would build confidence rather than point out the essentially feudal authority of a British prime minister!)

However, there is another more subtle difficulty here. In all these cases the prime minister has relied on their ethics advisor to make inquiries and deliver a verdict. It seems to me that this means that the prime minister washes their own hands of making what might be a politically difficult decision by passing it on. And I am not alone; constitutional law commentator David Allen Green writes in his excellent Law And Lore blog that:

…it really should not be the job of an adviser, however independent or distinguished, to work out whether a Prime Minister should sack a minister.

A good host leader would surely take their own code and boundaries more seriously? Outsourcing such decisions is a sign that the code is not something that the leader takes seriously but rather will overlook until the evidence is damning from all sources. Rishi Sunak would be a lot stronger by taking his own boundaries seriously and using them decisively. Unless the Conservative government is a party of rogues who are all routinely stepping over the line… perish the thought.

One great example of a boundary making hard decisions easier (and one which is not in the Host book) is from mineral water company Perrier. In 1990 some bottles of the water were found to contain benzene, a toxic chemical. Although the contaminated bottles were found in Denmark and the Netherlands, Perrier withdrew every single bottle on sale everywhere in the world. Perrier’s chairman Gustave Leven said:

”I have built up this company over the past 40 years around an image of perfection, I don’t want the least doubt, however small, to tarnish our product’s image of quality and purity.”

Perrier took a huge financial hit and the damage to their reputation was serious. But the decision to withdraw all the stock from sale was easy.

Dates and mates

Join me at the Host Leadership Gathering 2023 in Vienna, Austria on 12-13 June 2023. We’re looking for interesting participants and (even better) people who’d like to bring along a workshop, a topic for conversation or some thoughts about leading as a host. Full details at

Hosting Generative Change online course March 2023 – work with Mark himself

There is a rare opportunity coming up to work with Host author Mark McKergow in his online four-part workshop Hosting Generative Change. The material is built on Mark’s 2020 book of the same name, published by the Bushe Marshak Institute.

The course follows the idea of supporting generative dialogues and conversations – new perspectives, new ideas, with as much listening as talking. The way into these dialogues is hosting: the way we bring people together has a huge impact on what happens. In this course Host author Dr Mark McKergow will work with you to help you host dialogues, people and organisations in ways which underpin, not overshadow, this fascinating, delicate, and essentially human practice.

The programme is based around learning and applying some key frameworks to a real-life organisational development challenge or project. The modules will be varied, each one featuring input, discussion, application and reflection. The group will form a learning community with everyone both learning and contributing. Dr. Mark McKergow has been leading online courses for over a decade and is looking forward to working with you.

Online on four Tuesdays: March 21 and 28, April 4 and 11 2023. Sessions will run from 1pm-5pm UK time (14h-18h CET, also good for Asia and USA). Registration is €490 for the whole course (+ VAT if applicable).

For full details download the flyer here. Registration at The course is happening partly for a group from Connexxo, and will definitely run. We are inviting a few outsiders to join in. Please consider yourself an inside outsider and join us!

Mark McKergow’s new Substack: Steps To A Humanity Of Organisation

Mark McKergow has started a new writing project on Substack. He’s building on his work in Host Leadership, Solutions Focus and Village In The City to explore how we might organise both humanely AND effectively.

It’s easy to see how to be humane and ineffective. It’s even easier to see how to be effective and inhumane. But how to combine both?

Mark’s career has been exploring this question from various angles in learning, coaching, organisational change and community development. Now he’s building on his 30 years of experience to put this work together in new ways, explore the gaps, look at unanswered questions and try to be as clear as possible.

It’s free to subscribe and read, with new work every Wednesday.

Join us in Vienna for the 2023 Host Leadership Gathering: 12-13 June

NEWS: I’m very excited that the 2023 Host Leadership Gathering is going ahead face-to-face in Vienna, Austria on 12-13 June. We’d love to see you, get your proposals for a workshop/topic and have you join us there. Two days full of inspiration .

By the way… the excellent SOLWorld international conference is happening in the same venue just before our gathering, on 8-10 June 2023. You may well be interested to join both events – many people are! More information on SOLWorld 2023 at