· 2 min read · Features

Leadersmithing: A craft approach to leadership, part 2


Leadersmithing rediscovers the craft of leading and sets out how leaders can hone their key skills

Leadersmithing rediscovers the craft of leading and sets out how leaders can hone their key skills. It identifies the muscle memory you need to lead, then offers a programme of 52 exercises to take you there, organised into four suits like a pack of cards.


My Clubs are about your physical impact. They address your health and wellbeing and your impact on those around you. This is because the Club in a pack of cards reminds me of those cartoons about cavemen, who carried clubs around for seeing off the odd anachronistic dinosaur. So my Clubs are physical. Some of them focus on ‘the meat’ – are you healthy, rested and well, and is the way you are living your life sustainable? And some of them – also physical – are more concerned with how you actually show up in person on the day. Are you clear about your exercise of power and control? Do you convey impact and the right kind of image and status for the job in hand? All good questions both for you as a leader, and for you to ask your team.

Let’s look at two of my Clubs: power and fuel. You can’t lead if you have no power to influence others, and you can’t lead if you are too tired or ill to turn up.

Power is my Eight of Clubs. The standard model of power has three bases:

  1. Role power – the power your job gives you to reward or coerce;
  2. Convening power – your ability to borrow power from what you know (information) and who you know (networks);
  3. Personal power – your own power, based on your personality and your expertise.

Think about a situation in which you wish you had more influence. Map your respective power. Where is the imbalance? What could you do to feel more powerful in this situation?

While this is a useful tool to analyse your relative power before an important meeting it is also a great way to look at the role of HR within your organisation. Could you use this analysis to improve your ability to leverage HR organisationally?

But there is no point in being powerful if you are so exhausted that you fail to get the job done. So my Queen of Clubs is about fuel.

Think of all the things that drain your energy: bad weather, transport glitches, annoying people, pointless meetings, IT breakdowns. Look at your diary. Can you predict any of them right now? Now schedule in some contingency action: anything that makes you smile, restores your balance, cheers you up, or calms you down. Try these: sleep, rest, water, bananas, music, laughter, singing, flattery, dancing, beauty, joy, altruism, exercise, outdoors, views, perspective, mindfulness, meditation, prayer, friends, nurture, winning. What else helps? Schedule them into your diary now.

I often call this ‘Dementors vs. Whiskers on Kittens’, after the 'Favourite Things song' in The Sound of Music. It’s surprising how predictable the dementors are. So why are we so bad at diarising respite? If you look at the week you have ahead of you, where might there be room to add back in some energisers, or at least renegotiate any particularly brutal days?

This article is the second in a four-part series based on the book Leadersmithing by Eve Poole. Poole is a leadership speaker, teacher and consultant.

Read part one here.