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Leadership & Boards 

The Board Game

The Board Game is a new offer from Jenny Knott and Robert Rowland Smith. It combines training in how to read board papers with how to read the room. Visit the website here.

Those wishing to up their game on internal and/or external boards are invited to join.

For details, email

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Leadership Programmes

Robert has designed and delivered leadership programmes for organisations as diverse as Asahi (brewers), Farfetch (fashion), Rio Tinto (mining), State Farm (insurance), and 1337 (consulting).


He typically works alongside partners such as Thompson Harrison, Oxford Saïd Business School, and the business psychologist Björn Atterstam.

The outcomes achieved include:

1. Alignment of leaders around the business strategy

2. Alignment of leaders with each other

3. Increased leadership capability among the senior executives


Below is the outline of a programme created with Björn Atterstam for a multinational tech company. In this case, the programme was delivered online as a series of six webinars.




We are familiar with the notion of financial capital. In recent times that has been added to with the notion of ‘social capital’ and even ‘erotic capital’. I suggest there’s a case for adding ‘leadership capital’ to the list.

So what is leadership capital?

The most direct definition is a negative one. We know, for example, that a prime minister or president is losing their leadership capital when it becomes clear that they won’t win the next election. Their stock begins to fall.

The positive definition of leadership capital, therefore, is the reverse. Leadership capital is the sense you give off that you will be in power for some time yet. Your stock has plenty of mileage in it.

The second aspect of leadership capital, I would suggest, is the degree of trust you are afforded to make decisions. You have made enough good decisions in the past that when you come to make a decision that looks questionable, you are given the benefit of the doubt. Your capital has been built on your track record. It translates as credit. People are willing to trust that what looks like a questionable decision today will look like a canny decision tomorrow.

The third and final aspect of leadership capital is what I would call ‘absorbency’. No, not kitchen towels or similar. Rather, absorbency is the capacity to take in multiple views, conflicting data, strategic ambiguity, and be able to process it internally before coming out with a position. As opposed to leaking every thought and feeling that arises - because leaking creates anxiety among those you lead.

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