· 2 min read · Features

Leadersmithing: A craft approach to leadership, part 4


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. In this piece Eve Poole takes one of her four suits for leaders and offers some tips on mastery.


My Hearts are all about charm, and your ability to make those around you feel at ease in your company, confident and able to be themselves. Carrot and stick does not work as well as the unleashing of loyalty, creativity and discretionary effort from people who actually like you.

Do you remember pictures of ladies parading up and down with books on their heads, or curtsying to cakes? One of the institutions that used to churn out these ladies in droves was the famous Lucie Clayton College in Kensington. Joanna Lumley went there, and I did too. They had the famous model car – just the passenger seat because ‘ladies don’t drive’ – and they taught us how to get in and out of it without showing our knickers.

I also know how to walk with a book on my head, how to glide down a staircase, and how to pose for a ‘girls in pearls’ photo. Beyond the fun I learned that manners are simply about putting others at their ease. Being well-mannered is the most generous and socially useful thing you can ever do.

There is nothing more charming than feeling you are the centre of someone’s attention. This is about excellent listening, my Queen of Hearts:

If you listen to staff it makes them feel noticed. Improve your skill and focus by listening on all three of these channels:

1. Facts – hoovering up the data and reflecting it back as accurately as you can, without notes;

2. Emotions – spotting tone, inflection, and body language, and playing it back to test understanding;

3. Intuition – accessing your ‘sixth sense’ about what you’re hearing – images, notions, metaphors, anything that might be data for them.

Try this in your next meeting. Channel-surfing will stop your mind wandering. It is alarming how much you can pick up if you listen well. It will also make staff feel that their opinions count, a key Gallup 12 indicator.

Another way you can help others feel at ease is to establish excellent rapport. The experts suggest this is about trust, my King of Hearts. Do any of your relationships need a trust boost? Analyse them using Maister, Green & Galford’s Trust Equation. They hold that trust is a function of:

  • Credibility – do you know what you are talking about? Are you qualified? Do you sound sure? Do you look right?
  • Reliability – are you constant? Do you always deliver or does your performance vary?
  • Intimacy – people trust people, not CVs. Where is your common ground with the other person?

But beware: their research shows that self-orientation destroys trust. If your agenda is too selfish the other person will feel played and will not trust you. So be transparent and generous. You can use this tool to repair a fractured relationship, or to plan for a strong first impression.

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