If there’s one thing we learned in 2020, it’s that predicting the year ahead in February is risky business! No doubt this year will bring its fair share of surprises too, but we’re willing to put our chips on a few trends leaders are going to need to be mindful of. Not because our crystal ball is any clearer than yours, but mostly because we’ve been on the road to these shifts for some years now. 2020 didn’t reinvent these things, it pressed fast-forward on them.

1. Promises over perks: Swapping out snacks for sincerity

This trend has been a long time in the making. What’s been getting clearer…


Photo from Vinicius Amano on Unsplash

Why you need to forget what you know and lead

I always wonder what it must have been like being Galileo. Not when he came up with his theory that earth wasn’t the centre of the universe (using nothing but bits of metal and glass), but when it came to telling people about it. Can you imagine what that was like?

“Hey, guys. Guess what? So that thing you knew, and built your entire world view around, well, not so much.” His name came off a lot of party lists that year.

You see, in that moment, Galileo wan’t just asking people to learn something new about space. …


Photo by Inês Pimentel on Unsplash

Busting the myths that get in the way of building great company cultures

Who doesn’t love a unicorn?

Rare, magical, majestic, unarguably fabulous. Bestowed with mystical powers and an infinity of sparklyness. All excellent ingredients for a mythical beast. All terrible ingredients for a culture. Which makes it odd that so many leaders treat their cultures like unicorns.

Those leaders see culture as a nebulous, magic embodiment of undefined things that make us special. Undeniably important, but something not to be captured in case it loses its magic.

The best cultures, however, don’t beam from rainbows. They work hard. They…


A letter on values for your 5th term

(First published in May 2015)

Dear Mr Blatter

It looked for a minute there like times were tough at the top. I guess sometimes power can be a slippery thing, no matter how firm your death grip from hell is on it.

Anyways, I wanted to congratulate you on your fifth term. Who could say you don’t deserve it!

As a fan and occasional player of ‘the beautiful game’ (admittedly, it doesn’t always look beautiful when I play it — or you for that matter), I thought I’d lend you my opinion for this next stay in office.

You know…


Photo by Ruslan Bardash on Unsplash

Are you looking at the obstacles or the gaps?

Recently, I learnt to ride a scooter.

Along the way you get no shortage of life-preserving guidance. But one bit’s particularly salient:

“The bike will go where you’re looking.”

So as you zigzag along a line of traffic cones, it’s not the cones you look at, but the gaps between them. If you look at the cone, you’ll hit it.

When you’re out on the street, the ‘cones’ have sharper edges, and they often move about. Out there, risk is all around you. From the traffic to the road surface to the pedestrians.

And you need to be mighty aware…


The future will be built by people who believe in the change, and believe in their ability to make it happen.

I’m looking at my face reflected in the lacquered sheen of a century-old hardwood board table. A frustrated frown looks back.

“We tend to innovate once every 25 years or so.”

I look up. The board exec of this multinational insurance company leans back in his chair and places his hands behind his balding head, and shrugs.

We’re having a conversation about purpose. We’re painting a picture of a future uncertain in almost every aspect — except that it will be different — really different — from the world we’re doing business in today.

The question is — what’s the…


Photo by bady qb on Unsplash

What’s the difference? And why does it matter?

Purpose.

Simultaneously the new kid on the brand block, and the oldest trick in the book.

Depending how you look at it, purpose has always existed — it’s essentially the meaning of life, the foundations of religion, our raison d’être… Or it’s a recent renaissance for brand strategy — a software update for missions, visions, BHAGs, etc.

With businesses looking to build brands, leaders wanting to better engage their people, and organisations seeking to make an impact and grow, it’s not surprising that people grab hold of the idea of purpose as a panacea for other knottier problems.

Especially, sustainability.


Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash

How to grow a culture of creativity

Creativity.

The fuel for ideas, change, growth. Not in the narrow sense of well-designed words and pictures (the work of ‘creatives’), but in the broader sense of having ideas and making them real (the work of ‘creators’).

In our own ways, we’re all swapping creativity for profit, for impact and for joy. People buy our ideas and things, what we put out into the world is what changes it.

Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in creative agencies, where creativity is practically currency. …

Laurie Bennett

Founding Partner of Within People, helping leaders find their purpose and grow the company they love.

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