Article Sign Up

Don't miss my articles
on Authoritas.
Find out more here »

About Jacquie

Jacquie Molloy guides senior leaders to develop and display leadership authority (what she calls Authoritas); helps Boards to discover the power (and imperative) of exploring differences of opinion through Debate; and shares the practices for personal authority, high-performing teams and cultural excellence with individuals and organisations so they can be Visible in all the right ways.

More about Jacquie »


Follow me on TwitterConnect with me on LinkedInLike me on Facebook


Do you have a split identity?

Too many execs have created rigid barriers around 'work self' and 'home self' in the attempt to gain what is called 'work/life balance'. But to achieve this sense of balance requires integration as much as it does separation and boundaries.

We're more at risk than ever of fostering split identities.

In the plays about Henry IV, as in so many of his histories and tragedies, Shakespeare concerns himself with power and identity. And, as always, it’s instructive. 
In Henry IV Part 1, Shakespeare lets us understand Henry’s internal conflict that comes after the adrenalin rush of a successful takeover and the ‘getting rid’ of Richard II. He has seized power both legitimately and immorally.

'Legitimately and immorally' is a very grey place that is too easy to find yourself in — via what we might call 'slippery slopes'  — when we are dealing with the power dynamics at top leadership levels: in business, in government, between countries ... and even within families.
In the play, Henry tries to just snap himself out of this internal conflict. And we’re all familiar with this ‘I’m over it’ attempt to change something about ourselves or our circumstances. We resort to sheer grit and will power and determination.
White-knuckling is difficult to sustain though — and that’s if the attempt even gets off the ground.
Henry says: from now on, I’m going to be my royal self again. I’m getting back in the game! I’ll be mighty and powerful. I’ve been too soft lately and that weakness has cost me. It’s lost me the respect of powerful people who only respect you when you are as powerful — or more powerful — than they are.

I will from henceforth rather be myself,
Mighty and to be feared, than my condition,
Which hath been smooth as oil, soft as young down,
And therefore lost that title of respect
Which the proud soul ne'er pays but to the proud.

Henry believes that being ‘soft’ gets a king no ‘respect’. 
But through his subsequent behaviour and actions it becomes clear that he’s not at all comfortable, or reconciled, with the manner in which he got the crown and won England.
Sure he brags about being a winner: nothing can seem foul to those that win.
But his guilt and ‘split identity’ ironically render him incapable of making the most out of the position for which he committed the immoral action.
It’s hard for us to keep split behaviour/beliefs up when we can not reconcile our outward show of confidence and our internal second-guessing/imposter syndrome/low-level anxiety.
David Whyte, poet & organisational thinker, says — I’m paraphrasing — that we’re so afraid of losing face and think we have it all under control but if we ask someone who reports to us what our greatest flaw is they’d be able to tell us immediately.
We are seen.
And when we are leaders, we are not only visible, but always modelling to others. That’s part of the role. That’s part of the responsibility.
Come back to the central Authoritas truth-teller questions always: who am I? and who will I allow myself to be?

Please let me know, your thoughts on this. I'd love to hear from you!


9 email rules for execs

Here's a short and useful article with some good advice about — our godsend and nemesis — email.
The best attitude-adjustment about email I have ever heard was this:
When you die, you will have unread email in your inbox.


The simple Authoritas hack*

* hack, meaning 'shortcut'

Recently on the The West Wing Weekly podcast, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared his love and appreciation for The West Wing and admitted to re-watching the debate episodes as a way to help prep for his own debates.
To get him in the mood. To help him channel and believe in the articulation of values as always appropriate. To remind him of the virtue of being smart and progressive.

I’ve often used The West Wing (and other of Aaron Sorkin’s works) — as many of you know — to inspire and amplify exec and leadership behaviours, especially when it comes to communications. For myself and for my clients.
Many years ago now one of my clients referred to me as his very own Sam Seabourne, which was (and is) high praise —  and made my day! And I’ve written before about how I have drawn on Sorkin and Seabourne and other ‘comms heroes’ in my work —  most notably back in 2010, when Rob Lowe (Mr Seabourne himself) retweeted about it ;)

Listen to PM Trudeau on The West Wing Weekly podcast. If you want to skip straight to Trudeau, it’s around the last 30 minutes. The episode they are discussing by the way is WW Episode 15 of Season 3: Dead Irish Writers.


Behaviour + Comms = Followership (or not)

You might think that the incredibly poor behaviour of a lawyer representing a President of The United States, who himself has demonstrated some outrageously shocking behaviour is not relevant to you, today, in your role.

You’d be wrong.
The incident I’m talking about — and so well framed and positioned by the redoubtable Lawrence O’Donnell in the 7’ video —  is simply an amplified version of many smaller, but still damaging, reputational sins committed day in and day out by people in positions of power and authority. Including, perhaps, you.

Often times the mindset and feelings behind these behaviours — big and small — come from a sense of entitlement. The person believes they have the power to behave how they choose, or they believe they have the power, or they feel that they are without power and must dominate in whatever way they can to establish a sense of authority.
Are we human? Do we mess up? Of course we do: on occasion. What we are hunting for here are patterns, habits and underlying beliefs.
Here’s a quick checklist – by no means exhaustive – that might help you to uncover some behaviour, mindsets and attitudes to clean up lest they influence your reputation and limit your leadership potential:

  • Ask yourself why you don’t respond to some emails and calls (or make arrangements to delegate or otherwise manage expectations). (It’s never about time – we always make time for that which is important and can set up systems and safeguards for when we are unusually busy. If you need a reminder, read this.)

  • Ask yourself if the way you treat your assistant — or someone else’s assistant — is kind or polite or generous.(This behaviour is one to clean up immediately — you are sabotaging yourself.)

  • Ask yourself if your email response should be sent — if there is any doubt that you could be considered abrupt or rude then 1) reflect on what is really at stake/going on, 2) prepare yourself and your energy and 3) pick up the phone instead. (Have you avoided using the phone?)

  • Ask yourself if you get bored, check your phone, inappropriately interrupt or even leave the room if someone ‘lower than you’ in a meeting or offsite is presenting or asking a question. (How can you encourage and shape their development instead?)

  • Ask yourself if you know them well enough to make that ‘joke’. If it has to do with the other person and you have to explain that you were joking then it isn’t funny and you have either confused or offended them unnecessarily or, worse, sent a strong (negative) signal about your own behaviour and character. (Making people smile and chuckle is a beautiful thing; trying to come off as a smart ass, not so much.)

The Authoritas leader understands that their behaviour and communications — formal, informal and interpersonal — is entirely what creates their followership.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue!


The Power Paradox

100 years before Lord Acton said that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’, the British PM Pitt the Elder said more precisely: ‘Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it’. It turns out he was more right than he could have known.
In this month’s The Atlantic there is a fantastic piece on power and the brain: ‘Power Causes Brain Damage’.

In the article, Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, explains that in his studies over 20 years he has found that those under the influence of power ‘acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view’.
Keltner has termed this the power paradox.

Once we have power, we lose some of the capacities we needed to gain it in the first place.

And Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at McMaster University, in Ontario, describes that when he put the heads of the powerful and the not-so-powerful under a transcranial-magnetic-stimulation machine, he found that power impairs a specific neural process, “mirroring,” that may be a cornerstone of empathy.
Empathy is what influences us to be kind.
Kindness and compassion are central elements of what I call Authoritas (along with gravitas and authority and credibility and presence).

Because leadership is so much more than power. It is something quite different – even though power and authority usually come with the territory.
Power, the research says, primes our brain to screen out peripheral information. In many situations, this allows us to become more efficient. At the start. What happens to us (and those around us) after that will depend on how isolated you have allowed yourself to become in that coveted role.
The problem is that leadership roles at the most senior levels are isolated.
So what will you do to ensure you remain grounded, to ensure you consciously explore your capacity for empathy and compassion, to ensure you demonstrate kindness?
Do you need a toe-holder perhaps?

“Toe holder,” is a term once used by the political adviser Louis Howe to describe his relationship with the four-term President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom Howe never stopped calling Franklin.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 32 Next 5 Entries »