Jonathan Mills

stretching people, stretching organisations, stretching nations

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Developing character excellence

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man, true nobility lies in being superior to your former self” (Ernest Hemingway) Character (or perhaps ‘honour’) is a trait that most would like ascribed to them and yet the… Continue Reading →

Finding your feet following failure

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm” (Winston Churchill) Economist and Financial Times columnist, Tim Harford, in his book “Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure” noted: “Few of our own… Continue Reading →

Managing multiple bosses

In the movie, Office Space – a comedy about work life in a typical 1990’s software company – the protagonist, Peter Gibbons, has eight different bosses. All of them, seemingly unaware of each other, make requests of his energy and… Continue Reading →

Stereotyping stands in the way of leadership effectiveness

Stereotypes can influence first impressions and can negatively impact the possibility of a healthy relationship. Categorisation (stereotype) deals with putting people into boxes – perhaps mildly, based on their interests, their respective professions, their hobbies, etc., but more strongly, by… Continue Reading →

Caring about the emotional wellness & career security of employees

Over the past two decades, Free To Grow, a consulting company based in South Africa, has created rich, stimulating and meaningful learning experiences for well over 1 000 clients and has trained almost 90 000 people during this time. Through many years… Continue Reading →

Believable communication in times of change

The Information Technology project team seemed to be upbeat, certainly if one analysed the tenor of their weekly project reports mailed to everyone in the company. Their “Win of the Week” e-mail was a status update of progress being made… Continue Reading →

Awakening the potential genius in you

The word “genius” perhaps brings to mind a prodigy or mastermind of the past, either in the musical, scientific or mathematical fields – Bach, Einstein, Mozart, Aristotle, Beethoven and Da Vinci, to name a few. There are conflicting ideas, however,… Continue Reading →

Breaking down an unhealthy silo mentality

“Nothing kills ‘one team one goal’ thinking like silos” (John G Miller, author of QBQ: The Question Behind the Question) A CEO of a large business recently shared some of his frustrations with me – he complained that he needed… Continue Reading →

Achieving breakthrough outcomes in a changing environment

Over the past couple of decades, the acceleration of technology and other marketplace drivers have radically changed the very nature of change. Whereas change was once a contained transactional event (and far easier to control), it is now more fluid,… Continue Reading →

Making better decisions by sourcing better options

Decision-making is tough, especially the life-changing ones. Wrestling with possible outcomes, attempting to ensure that others (especially those closest to you) are not negatively impacted by a decision, not being sure, realising that there could be unexpected fall-out – all… Continue Reading →

Eliminating distractions to focus your mind

It has become a disease for many – the practise of multi-tasking! With the onset of the digital era, our lives are plagued with ring-tones, “pings”, interruptions, LED’s, the need for texting whilst we are talking on the phone (or… Continue Reading →

The principle of trust reciprocity triumphs over bureaucracy

I sometimes get frustrated by poor customer service – no, I get frustrated all the time when it is bad, especially when I am treated with disdain. In situations like the aforementioned, I attempt to keep my cool and offer… Continue Reading →

Standing out from the competition by showing customers that you care

The gesture of showing appreciation seems to be a lost art. A simple “thank you” may go some way to add warmth to any relationship, but in reality just represents common courtesy. Authentically-demonstrated appreciation, however, develops the emotional connection in… Continue Reading →

Culture transformation should be tackled holistically by company leadership

Many companies languish with cultures that neither meet organisational needs nor address the core needs of individuals and teams. Although leadership teams intuitively and experientially know that culture impacts on how people behave and perform, few leaders know how to… Continue Reading →

Motivating the minds (& hearts) of millennials

Millennials, those born after 1980 and before 2000 and representing well over 35% of the world’s population, are a largely talented and versatile group. For many companies with rigid structures and systems, this generation can be incredibly frustrating, illusive and… Continue Reading →

Stakeholder capitalism – a more healthy option than shareholder greed?

Shareholder greed and subsequently the “do or die” need for the CEO to perform year on year has become a pervasive illness in big corporates since the 1980’s. Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, noted: “In… Continue Reading →

Leaders need to reassure their organisations when going through change

Some time ago, Microsoft announced that it would acquire the professional networking site, LinkedIn, for US$ 196 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at US$ 26.2 billion. In an e-mail to LinkedIn employees, LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner, explained why… Continue Reading →

Street vendors are often more relevant in their business endeavours than big corporates

They know their customers. They know what their customers want. They know how to present their products so that their customers will purchase from them. They know the ideal pricing for their products so that they clear their goods daily…. Continue Reading →

Re-establishing your value proposition to stimulate new growth

Executives and their governing boards, within the current financial turbulence that most companies are experiencing, are being forced to re-evaluate strategies, cut costs and re-deploy employees and other resources to provide some return for shareholders. These leaders seem to be… Continue Reading →

Cultivating a sense of community at work

The door was open and I received a comforting welcome when I arrived at the potential client that morning. Whilst waiting for my presentation to the executive leadership and sipping on a needed cup of rather good coffee, I was… Continue Reading →

Companies need to grow a voracious appetite for employee development

In a Harvard Business Review study (July 2012), the article “Why top young managers are in a nonstop job hunt” (Monika Hamori, Jie Cao and Burak Koyuncu) described research based on the analysis of international databases of over 1 200 young… Continue Reading →

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