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Quantum Leap - 09/01/2017

Welcome to 2017.
Here are a few thoughts that I wish to share with you at the beginning of this prosperous New Year.

The New Year question seeking an answer …

Assuming good luck arises at the point where “preparation intersects with opportunity”, then just how should we prepare ourselves to leverage the multiple opportunities that are bound to come our way?

Where to go to get the answers …

Over the first few days of 2017, I’ve enjoyed meandering along the Arrow River and hiking up the hills surrounding Arrowtown. These adventures have given me the chance to ponder on two knotty questions that I am often asked.

The first is “what is so special about those leaders who step up to the peak? Are they r e a l l y significantly better than the many other highly experienced and capable leaders who are doing well but despite best efforts and brilliance, just aren’t able to knock the bastard off ?”(using the vernacular that Edmond Hillary used after reaching the summit of Mt Everest).

And the second is “why is it that only a handful of strategic leaders are able to effortlessly make Quantum Leaps, not only in their career trajectory, but also in the transformational growth and success of their organisations?”

The answers can be downloaded from the ether when we are relaxed, focused, and in-the-flow …

These two questions are particularly pertinent at this time of year when most of us take time to plan for the year ahead. Although there is “no one-right-answer”, I do know that Quantum Leaps are a function of intuitive and innovative right brain thinking rather than from a rational left brain management science process.

Over the last 16 years in my role as ISL Director, I have noticed that Quantum Leaps have been made by a handful of strategic leaders who have no more skill, knowledge, expertise, or opportunities than those whom only achieved modest levels of success. Similarly, the organisations that were transformed by Quantum Leap leaders were no more blessed with resources or favourable industry dynamics than peer companies.

The two noticeable differentiators that I observed were: Quantum Leap leaders had a much higher single point of focus on Purpose & Vision, and a much lower level of risk aversion. Simply put, if they are passionate about taking a leap, they boldly give it a go.

Quantum Leap leaders are clear about what they were designed to achieve and apply their innate Gifts in a very focused way to reach the summit they are heading for (aka Vision). They also put greater weight on opportunity than on loss.

It’s more about next practice rather than best practice …

The outlier Quantum Leap leaders who gain extraordinary success, adopt a next practice philosophy, rather than focusing on best practice. “When you are on top of your game, change your game.” And as a smart cookie once quipped: “the light bulb wasn’t invented by multiple improvements on the candle”.

A phenomenon that I observed over the holidays, is that regardless of how hard a distraught fly tries to get out through a closed window, ultimately it wears itself out in it’s relentless pursuit by sticking to the same approach time-and-time again.

Unlike distraught flies, Quantum Leap leaders are cool headed and find solutions by doing things very differently, rather than trying harder.

Quantum Leaps require a focusing of effort …

Quantum Leaps that create a massive step up require a focused mind and an intuitive approach. It’s about being in-the-flow and being totally focused on one thing or one person only at a time and being completely in the here-and-now. It’s about taking control of the mind so as to eliminate scattered thoughts. Not reflecting back on how it went in the past or over braining how you should do it now. Simply visualising what “knocking the bugger off” will look like, feel like, and be like.

Charles Dickens, a prolific and extraordinary writer, spent each afternoon walking on the beach, horse riding and playing games with friends. This enabled him to clear his mind so that he could ignite his imagination and focus his thoughts every morning. Perhaps Dickens can give us some clues about taking Quantum Leaps.

A rational approach to checking you are equipped to undertake the activity or journey …

Notwithstanding the comments above, it’s best to check that everything is in order before embarking on a Quantum Leap.

Click here to access the Annual WOF (Warrant of Fitness) check list. After all, it’s always best to do a pre-flight check before taking a Quantum Leap.

All the best for 2017 …

In closing, I quote from the inscription on the bronze plaque on the lookout bench up on the summit looking over the majestic Arrowtown basin:

“He aha te mea nui o te ao
….he tangata, he tangata, he tangata …”

“What is the most important thing in the world?
….the people, the people, the people.”

This is a timely reminder that strategic leadership, unlike a bungy jump or a sky dive is not a solitary endeavour and involves other people (their hearts, minds, skills, ambitions, hopes, careers, health, happiness, and those that matter to them).

Without a fully engaged crew and totally engaged customers, a Quantum Leap may land you on the shadow side of the mountain … a destination where it’s not fun to be, especially on your own.

Here’s to wishing you an asymmetric Quantum Leap in 2017 … uplifted by great health, happiness and being in-the-flow.

Take the leap,

All the best,


Quantum Leap Key Points:

1. Manage your MOJO (lifestyle balance) so as to stay calm in order that your intuition and right brain thinking is at it’s peak performance.

2. Play to your strengths – and stay on-Purpose.

3. Clarify where you are going – and keep focused on your Vision.

4. Surround yourself with a diverse team – and create a Master Mind network (akin to a powerful network of human computers) who can help you and your organisation make a Quantum Leap.

5. Invest time and money to prepare to be at your Peak – providing the strategic leadership and strategic thinking skills that show up as needing attention in your WOF.

6. Find a reflective space and quiet time periodically to still your mind – so that your creative / intuitive processes can be ignited.

7. Seek opportunities – take calculated risks and have a Plan B.

8. If you are just going to work each day rather than working on igniting your passions each day – stop wasting your time and embark on a new career.

9. Do things differently – remembering Next Practice rather than Best Proactive is the only way to ensure you and your company don’t get past the Best-By date.

10. F o c u s on one thing or person at a time – give them the attention they deserve.

11. Inspire your people – and be a great role model.

He tangata, he tangata, he tangata

P.S. Nobel Prize Winner, Daniel Kaneman posits: “Most people will experience more pain by losing a $10 note, than gain pleasure by finding a $20 note.” It follows that Quantum Leap leaders are opportunity seekers, whereas the majority of their more moderately successful peers are risk avoiders.

Transference Article - 06/05/2016

Good leadership is one of the most important competitive advantages for an organisation - thus business literature often has a leadership focus. However, it is important to remember that leaders need followers, and followers are motivated by their own intrinsic drivers.

Followers follow for both rational and irrational reasons. Rational motivations include hopes of getting money, status, power or prestige by following a successful leader – and fear of missing out by not following. Irrational motivations can be even more in uential, but are often unconscious and therefore beyond our control. Such motivations arise from the way people project powerful images and associations from past relationships onto the present. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, called this tendency “transference”.

Click on the Attachment to read more.

Progress Over The First Three Months (Jan – April 2016) - 27/04/2016

ISO 9001 Accreditation - completed a rigorous upgrade of processes and documentation to international standards and accredited ISO 9001 in February

Leadership Programme at Nugget Point in March - 47th LP over the last 15 years

2-day Strategy, Change and Transformation Masterclass in Brisbane – a small class of six high calibre participants including CE of Queensland State Revenue

Women's Leadership Summit - presented to 1,000 aspiring women health leaders in Brisbane

SLP at Millbrook - mustered a great class for the forthcoming 48th SLP at Millbrook over the last 15 years

Enterprise Performance System – completed the new digital Enterprise Performance Cockpit, integrating Team Dashboards throughout organisations

Profilers – completed Staff Engagement and Customer / Stakeholder Engagement tools and goal pulse system, We now have an integrated suite of profilers including Health, MOJO, 360 and Team 360 that show how leadership is driving delivery outputs and financial performance

External validation – received a positive endorsement of ISL profilers from two leading academics from two different universities


Recently I met with one of our alumni, the former Chief of Air Force (CAF) who was subsequently the Defence Attache in Washington. During our meeting I commented on the top brass from the US Military, reflecting on my experience facilitating the first International Conference for the highest ranking Warrant Officers. The observation I shared - "despite being dressed in 'civvies', it was obvious who was the most powerful energy force in the conference room. The Warrant Officer from the US emitted extremely strong personal 'WiFi' signals and you could feel his presence from a distance."

The former CAF related to my observations noting that the US Generals are the same: "Those guys are BUILT", he said. "They are developed mentally, intellectually and physically over many years and notwithstanding their friendly and humble demeanour, you can feel and sense their energy and power from the far end of the corridor", he quipped.

Reflecting on this discussion drew my attention to the reality that:

"the greatest achievement you can make is the building of authentic leaders as your legacy to future generation(s)."

This simple fact is consistent with the ISL quote:

"The most insightful measure of a strategic leaders is the calibre of the next generation of leaders that follow in his /her footsteps and develop under his/her watchful eye. A truly strategic leader may be measures by the calibre of his/her proteges."

We at ISL have had the privilege and honour to support over 2,500 strategic leaders from commerce, government and NGOs 'take the step | up' . We hope that you will follow in our footsteps, building leaders* and leaving a legacy for the next generation(s).

It's normal to focus attention on our own leadership development, but what's extraordinary is to leverage our gifts and build a Mexican Wave of leadership development. What contribution are you making in this regard?

* Arguably, the biggest impact is on 13/14 year-olds who are at the beginning of their leadership development curve.

Dr. Geoff Lorigan
Director, Institute for Strategic Leadership


Air New Zealand and The Warehouse were rated the 1st and 3rd most respected brands in terms of New Zealand's 2016 Corporate Reputation Index, published on the 1st April. These results have been achieved in what are arguably two of the toughest and most competitive industries (airlines and retail).

Hats off to Ralph Norris, Rob Fyfe and Christopher Luxon, past and present CEOs at Air New Zealand, and all the 10,800 staff who make our air travel a great experience.

"We recognise that a highly engaged workforce will increase Air New Zealand's innovation, productivity and delivery of our GO BEYOND vision."

Let's also doff our caps to show respect to Mark Powell (and his 12,000 strong team), who for the last four years invested in developing leadership and driving up staff engagement even when the pressure from the stock market was relentless to cut costs and deliver year-on-year increases in earnings.

"We regard our employees at the Warehouse as our greatest asset."
~ Mark Powell

Over the last decade, ISL had the privilege of being trusted by these two outstanding companies to support the leadership development of some of their most senior executives (Rob Fyfe sponsored 40 Air New Zealand leaders on ISL programmes, and Mark Powell, an ISL alumnus, sponsored 55 senior Warehouse leaders).

In addition to the contribution of ISL, both companies have invested significantly with in-house leadership development and attendance at world class business schools overseas. Its clear that the best companies recognise that leadership drives staff engagement, customer engagement and enterprise performance.

Dr. Geoff Lorigan
Director, Institute for Strategic Leadership

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