A to Z of Management and Leadership: Aspiration

For my brief explanatory video on ‘Aspiration’, go to …


To download a free (pdf) workbook, follow the link below:

Aspiration, by definition, is a strong desire to achieve something. What many organisation’s don’t realise, however, is that a clearly identified aspiration is its most important asset. The aspiration of an organisation is typically stated in a vision or mission statement, and is often associated with delivering their service to the highest possible standard.  But in order to succeed and achieve, an organisation’s people must share the same aspiration.  There are three key elements behind an individual’s desire to achieve:

• How clear they are about what they want to achieve,
• How realistic it is for them to achieve it, and
• How much they value achieving it.

It is the combination of these fundamentals that determines a person’s level of motivation. Therefore, it is vital that an organisation provides a clear picture as to where the team is heading and, as importantly, why.  This gives individual’s something to work towards within the context of the desired end result.
If you believe you or your team could benefit from exploring the concept of ‘Aspiration’ more fully, simply download my free workbook. It contains some thought-provoking ideas and an exercise to further develop you and your team.
To download a free (pdf) workbook, follow the link below:

Transactional Analysis and Leadership

At the core of the theory of Transactional Analysis (TA) is the belief that from early childhood we develop the ego-states of Parent, Adult and Child. All three ego-states (and their sub-categories) are present within us during our lives and will feature to a greater or lesser extent depending on how we interact and socialize with others. The ego-states display themselves in our attitudes, emotions and in our language. When we are being supportive we may use the language of the Nurturing Parent: “Let me help you”. When we are in control we may use the language of the Critical Parent “I need you to do this”. When we are rational, aware and free to choose we will tend to use Adult language: “So, here’s the challenge, what are our options here?”. And, when we are feeling insecure or perhaps playful or rebellious, we may use Childlike language: “Please give me some heIp”; “I’ve just had a great idea” or “Who are you to tell me what to do?”.

It is worth noting that when we refer to the use of certain styles of language, this might be either private (our “inner voice”) or public (expressed in our interactions with others). In some circumstances, the inner voice and the expressed communications are unaligned … i.e. we are playing a role that is unauthentic to our natural self. This may be functional or dysfunctional.

None of the ego-states (Parent, Adult or Child) are good or bad and all have a role to play in building and maintaining effective relationships with others. Sometimes, we need to take the lead and enforce standards (Critical Parent); sometimes support others in difficulty (Nurturing Parent); sometimes be intuitive and pick up the unexpressed words and/or emotions of others (Primitive Adult); sometimes be logical, fact-based and self-aware (Rational Adult); sometimes openly express our vulnerability or joy (Free Child); sometimes break some rules (Rebellious Child); sometimes ‘please’ others (Adapted Child).

Though none of the ego states are intrinsically good or bad, each might present problems if overused or inappropriately applied. For example, if overused, the Critical Parenting ego-state might result in becoming over-bearing or domineering; the Nurturing Parent might become stifling or disabling; the Primitive Adult might suffer paralysis through analysis; the Rational Adult might result in emotional detachment or a lack of imagination; the Free Child might lead to narcism or unrealistic optimism; the Rebellious Child might result in aggression or sabotage; and the Adapted Child might lead to dependency or exploitation.

We use these ego-states in a dynamic way, as we interact and are influenced by others. If a manager uses a Parenting style, it is likely to trigger either a Childlike response from a staff member or a confrontational riposte from a peer. If, however, an Adult style is adopted, it is more likely to trigger a “parallel” Adult response.

It is the implications of TA in group dynamics and in human development that make the subject such an important one for organizational leaders.

The crucial point is firstly to recognize our own ego-states. Here are some questions that may help in your personal explorations:

  • What ego-state predominates in your personal thoughts and interactions with people?
  • What triggers a change of state in you as a leader?
  • How are you different with certain people?
  • What particular situations lead to a shift in your mind-set and/or behaviour?
  • What are the implications of these patterns on your success as a leader?
  • What can you do to improve the leadership you provide to your team?

Next, you might consider what’s going on in your team. What language do you hear? Are you hearing the language of Adults who are problem-solving and making confident and functional decisions? Maybe you are hearing the language of Children who are trying to please at all costs (Adapted Child), or fighting against every attempt at change or improvement (Rebellious Child). Or maybe you are hearing Critical Parents who are blaming others for the ills of the operations.

Next, think about your work culture. Is your organization kept in check by a powerful directive leader (Critical Parent)? Is it ‘looked after’ by caring and supportive leader (Nurturing Parent)? Is it continuously developing and improving through a leader that empowers (combined Primitive and Rational Adult leader)? Is it allowed to run like a country-club (Free Child leader)? Is it overly influenced by a leader who is in conflict with external forces (Rebellious Child leader)?

Here are some further questions that may help in your explorations:

  • What is the impact of the organizational leader’s style on the way work gets done?
  • What behaviours are encouraged/discouraged by the organization’s over-riding culture?
  • What can you do to most effectively work within the organization?

An awareness of TA ego-states can make us become better leaders by increasing our awareness of the hidden “scripts” that shape our mind-sets and behaviours. A presumption underling TA theory and practice is that increasing the amount of Adult-to-Adult interactions we have accelerates the growth and development of ALL individuals involved in the interaction.

Adult-to-Adult conversations are indicated by four main competencies:

  1. The readiness to listen to others in order to build awareness;
  1. The use of questioning to generate options and choices;
  1. The exchange of frank and open feedback to build mutual understanding;
  1. Taking ownership for decisions and outcomes.

If you’ve found this article interesting, here are some of the other places that I make resources available:

My website … http://www.theknowledge.biz/

My YouTube Channel … http://bit.ly/1GoYfOg

My Facebook page … http://on.fb.me/1Kb34m5

An Essential Guide to SWOT Analysis

I’ve just been contacted by Jackson Hille who, in collaboration with his colleague Justine Gomer from The University of California, Berkley, has produced ‘An Essential Guide to SWOT Analysis’.

I endorse their view that the guide is more thorough, up to date, and user friendly than any other existing SWOT Analysis guide. In the guide, there are SWOT and TOWS templates for readers to immediately put our analysis and their ideas into action, and there are also SWOT Analysis examples for every sector of the economy, including one of Uber and DreamWorks.

The guide can be found at …


Management, Leadership and Organization Development iOS App: The Knowledge!

If you have found the management, leadership and/or organization development content of this blog useful, you may be interested in Carl’s iOS App, ‘The Knowledge: Management and Leadership from A to Z’.

Screen shot - Home Page


The Introduction offers guidance on how you can develop yourself as an effective learner and provides tips on how to get the most from your use of the App.

Zen and the Art of Cathedral Building’ is the story of the building of the Sagrada Familia, or Gaudi Cathedral, in Barcelona. This story, which is part truth, part fiction, offers you a chance to think about management and leadership from a range of different perspectives. You can zoom in on the operational details or take the long view of the strategic content depending on your interests or current needs. You can then explore your own management and leadership challenges through the A to Z sections of the App, which link explicitly with the opening story.

An A to Z of Management and Leadership’ contains a range of models which I have selected for their value in meeting the challenges of modern management and leadership. These models are:

  • Described in brief to promote uncluttered learning
  • Related to the opening story to promote deeper understanding
  • The foundation for 26 exercises to promote individual, team and organization development.

The three ‘Questionnaires’ provide the opportunity for you to reflect in detail on your preferred learning style, leadership style and emotional intelligence.

In summary, The Knowledge resources will:

  • Make a range of management, leadership and organization development models accessible and memorable
  • Help you explore your attitudes and behaviours at work from a range of different perspectives
  • Illustrate that many of the problems within your organizational life are neither new nor unique
  • Enhance the creativity you are all able to apply to your management and leadership role.

The App is priced at £3.99 / $5.99

For more information and additional resources please visit my website:


Or the direct link to App Store is