How to make the world a better place through business – Part two


In the first part of this blog, I shared the inspiration from Bob Chapman, Chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller.  In this second part, I offer the learnings from Nick van Dam, Professor of Corporate Learning & Development at Nyenrode Business University and Partner at McKinsey & Co, who provided an interactive session inviting us to think about the essential ingredients for happiness at work our own leadership strengths together with the impact we have on others in our span of care.

Given the fact that when we are happy, we are more likely to feel engaged and motivated, it seems an essential element of developing an understanding of what the key ingredients for happiness are which included:

  • Social relationships
  • Learning and growth
  • Meaning and purpose

In my own experience both in my corporate role within HR and for the past 15 years as an executive coach, not only have these elements been key for me personally, they have been regular themes that arise in my coaching conversations. For example, a client recently wanted to develop stronger and deeper relationships at work, recognising the benefit not only for herself personally but also others across the organisation.

Another, senior executive felt he had lost the meaning and purpose for his work and was considering leaving his job. We focused on how he could re-define his purpose and connect afresh to give meaning to his work. The outcome made a significant difference. He re-connected with his passions, he honoured his values, discovered and development new leadership behaviours to engage his team and he listened more rather than simply offering the solution at the first site of a problem. Above all, he felt a greater sense of contentment.

Nick offered us a number of positive leadership practices and invited us to reflect on which we currently embrace and actively demonstrate and which we could do more of. Such practices included, positive relationships, positive communications, positive meaning and purpose, positive emotions, adopting a growth mindset, life long learning, optimism and positivity, mindfulness, building trust, inspiring, empathetic listening, authentic self-confidence, recognition and celebration, caring and gratefulness, strengths development, emotional intelligence and living in the now.

As you reflect on these practices, which ones stand out for you? Those which you practice regularly and those which you would like to focus more on?

Additionally, Nick invited us to consider a strengths based approach to leadership. Identifying key strengths on which to build. In my experience, it is an appreciative approach to leadership development and often one that gets overlooked. Being able to identify and articulate your key strengths is a useful exercise because it enables you to nurture those gifts and perform at your best.  Nick provided some useful questions to help discover your key strengths including:
  • What activities satisfy you the most?
  • What do you do quickly and others say:  How do you do that?
  • Things you do where you ask: Where can I do this again?
  • Which activities do you spontaneously react to with positive emotions and thoughts?

As you reflect on your key strengths, to what extent are you playing to these strengths or are they left unused? How could you use them more?

It seems to me from these two sessions from Bob Chapman and Nick van Dam that as leaders you have a profound responsibility for those in your span of care for their health and well being, their happiness at work and helping them to find and nurture their gifts and talents so they can perform at their best.

I re-discovered this quote recently and it inspired me afresh and so I encourage you to now dare to make a difference and help to create a better world through business:


If there were ever a time to dare, to make a difference, to embark on something worth doing, it is now.

Something that tugs at your heart, something that’s your aspiration, something that’s your dream.

You owe it to yourself, and to others, to make your days here count.

Have fun, Care deeply, Dream big.

(Adapted from Macintosh Ad, 1991)

Thank you for reading! If you can relate to anything I share here or want to find out more in relation to developing a culture of Truly Human Leadershipconsider joining me and my colleagues from BWLI for our inaugural event ‘Think Like a Leader’ in Central London, April 2018.  Alternatively, connect with me here and I’ll be delighted to get back in touch.