Leaders, Leadership Development, Confidence, Courage, Centered, Resilience, Emotional Intelligence, Coaching, Executive Career Management.                      Online Coaching & Training: Dr Sue Mitchell MAC AMInstLM, Aeona Limited, Edinburgh, Scotland

Confident, Courageous & Centered Leaders

Centered Leadership

Centered Leaders achieve extraordinary results - they possess and cultivate the capabilities to unlock the organisation's potential in challenging circumstances (McKinsey Quarterly, Oct 2010).


Five capabilities are at the heart of centered leadership and in combination, generate high levels of professional performance and life satisfaction.

  • Finding meaning: You give your life and work a sense of meaning and can openly communicate it to others. It is about finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of a purpose that inspires you.
  • Positive framing and converting emotions such as fear or stress into opportunity: You frame challenges constructively, emphasising opportunities in change and uncertainty. It is about adopting a more constructive way to view your world and convert even difficult situations into opportunities.
  • Engaging and acting in the face of risk: You have the mental toughness to cope with today's complex, volatile and fast-paced business environment, that places extraordinary stress on leaders and managers. It is about pursuing opportunities disguised by risk.
  • Connecting - building a stronger sense of community and belonging: You engage with others to help the organisation succeed.
  • Energising: You practice ways to sustain your energy that is the life force of change and create conditions for others to restore theirs.

A McKinsey global survey of executives shows that leaders who have mastered even one of these skills are twice as likely as those who have mastered none to feel that they can lead through change; masters of all five are more than four times as likely. Strikingly, leaders who have mastered all five capabilities are also more than 20 times as likely to say they are satisfied with their performance as leaders and their lives in general.


Email Sue on info@aeona.co.uk if you would like a copy of the McKinsey article.

Centered leadership is a journey, not a destination, and it starts with a highly personal decision. The McKinsey article quotes one executive who recently chose to embark on this path: “Our senior team is always talking about changing the organization, changing the mind-sets and behaviour of everyone. Now I see that transformation is not about that. It starts with me and my willingness and ability to transform myself. Only then will others transform.”


At Aeona, we believe this framework connects well with the philosophies of values-based leadership and authentic leadership, and our development programmes are designed to build awareness and capability in all five dimensions. You can then choose how you want to continue with this foundation in your life and work.

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The meaning dimension is 5 times more important than any of the others for satisfaction with both work and life. The source of meaning can differ widely from one person to another. Centered leaders often talk about how their purpose appeals to something greater than themselves and the importance of conveying their passion to others. Sharing meaning to inspire colleagues requires leaders to become great storytellers, touching hearts as well as minds. These skills are particularly applicable for executives leading through major transitions, since it takes strong personal motivation to triumph over the discomfort and fear that accompany change and that can drown out formal corporate messages, which in any event rarely fire the souls of employees and inspire greater achievement.

Finding meaning and purpose usually means leaders need to be true to their values and align organisational and personal values.


Positive Framing

Some people view the world optimistically ("glass half full") and some people view the world pessimistically ("glass half empty"). Leaders who don't naturally see opportunity in change and uncertainty feel stressed in those conditions and their brain responds in a way that is geared for survival (eg the flight, fright, fight response) rather than creativity and innovation. In organisations, such behaviour spreads and builds a culture of fear and negativity and avoiding trying anything new for fear of making mistakes.

Fortunately, we can all become aware of what triggers our fears and learn to work through them to reframe what is happening more constructively. Once we have mastered reframing, we can help others learn this skill, seeding the conditions that result in a safe environment where all employees are inspired to give their best. We can create an environment that allows innovation and creativity where it is OK to fail - where failures are viewed as opportunities, and even vital steps, to learn what will succeed.



This is about thinking how you will bring together the right team of people, whether face to face or virtually connecting across the globe, to offer meaningful input, new ideas and identifying solutions to problems. It is also about how leaders inspire meaningful connections at all levels of the organisation and with customers, to share information, respond to needs and create opportunities. Often informal meetings can be extremely successful at stimulating new ideas or improvements as a result of stronger and deeper relationships among peers and people at different levels.

Connecting is important for creating a more engaged workforce. Engagement is a positive attitude held by the individual towards the organisation and its values … which affects the extent to which individuals put discretionary effort into their work (Institute for Employment Studies 2004). Many companies and organisations have transformed their profitability and performance by improving employee engagement (Engaging for success: enhancing performance through employee engagement. A report to Government. David MacLeod Nita Clarke 2009).



In the Centered Leadership model, Engaging does not refer to engaging with employees but rather the leader's attitude to risk taking, adaptability, taking ownership, sense of responsibility and finding their voice or speaking up for what they feel is right. Risk aversion and fear run rampant during times of change. Leaders who are good at acknowledging and countering these emotions can help their people summon the courage to act and thus unleash tremendous potential. For many leaders, encouraging others to take risks is extremely difficult. The responsibility CEOs feel for the performance of the entire organization can make the very notion of supporting risk taking extremely uncomfortable. What’s more, to acknowledge the existence of risk, CEOs must admit they don’t, in fact, have all the answers — an unusual and often uncomfortable mind-set for many leaders whose ascent has been built on a virtuous cycle of success and self-confidence. Fortunately, there are tools, techniques and strategies to confront and mitigate risk, that reduce the emotion of anxiety and create a set of steps and plans to implement.



Time for renewal is important and this is not necessarily the same as rest. Sustaining change requires the enthusiasm and commitment of large numbers of people across an organization for an extended period of time. All too often, though, a change effort starts with a big bang of vision statements and detailed initiatives, only to see energy peter out. The opposite, when work escalates maniacally through a culture of “relentless enthusiasm,” is equally problematic. Either way, leaders will find it hard to sustain energy and commitment within the organization unless they systemically restore their own energy (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual), as well as create the conditions and serve as role models for others to do the same. McKinsey research suggests sustaining and restoring energy is something leaders often skimp on.

A healthy lifestyle is important for effective leadership. It includes recognising what energises you and what drains your energy and ensuring you keep a good balance and identify how to address your energy sappers. Many leaders find they need to change their lifestyle to include more time for family, friends and other people who are important in their lives, healthier eating and sufficient hydration, exercise in a way that they enjoy, time for fun and "time out to switch off" to renew to get their energy back.



When you feel you are capable of achieving more than you are now and
you want to be more successful,

Contact Aeona today about centered leader development.

Tel: 01875 830708
Mobile: 07809 672859
Email: info@aeona.co.uk



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It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.