When I was 27 years old, I was given one of the greatest gifts of my life; an almighty kick up the backside from my then boss Geoff. Basically, he told me my dream of being a leader was not going to happen, unless I changed big time. Up until that point, I fancied myself as a future executive of the bank I was working in – one of Australia’s largest companies. And I thought I had some reason to be confident. You see I had worked my way up from a graduate recruit to a position of national marketing manager in three years. And this was without any real understanding of the finance industry, including how to work my own mortgage! I felt like a pumpkin in a fruit-bowl, but my entrepreneurial spirit was apparently just what was needed. I was formally earmarked as a ‘hi-po’ – supposedly a ‘hi-potential’ manager, though I suspect I was also considered hyper-active. In all seriousness, this label granted me access to mentoring from senior executives across the bank, and involvement in the same leadership program that was run with the executives. I was in heaven.

The leadership program included a 360 degree feedback measure; the kind where you rate how you think you are behaving, and then your colleagues help you understand reality. I was expecting great results – I knew that I was very goal oriented and got things done, but I also perceived myself as a team player and a great collaborator. When I got my feedback, let’s just say I found out that I was half right. My colleagues experienced me as very aggressive – yes I got things done they agreed – but at great cost to others. Like many who get this kind of feedback for the first time, I was devastated. Read the rest of this post & join the discussion

“In the modern business context, you can always find a crisis to respond to. That’s why there are a lot of these arsonist firefighters. I used to be that way, too. These days I definitely prefer to move toward something rather than away from something.” —Tim Castree, CEO research subject, co-founder of Earth Hour, formerly known as the guy with his pants on fire

In my previous blog post, I stated my case for the critical shift from burning platform to burning ambition. This sentiment is based on my doctoral research on leadership transformation, which strongly indicated that the well known ‘burning platform’ metaphor is not a sustainable basis for undertaking large scale change [click here to watch the 3 minute animation of the FIRE metaphor]. Now I want to share with you what is possible when a leader shifts from a burning platform to a burning ambition.

This is the story of Tim Castree. He’s one of the original team who founded Earth Hour, one of the biggest and most impactful social movements of recent history. But let me wind back the clock to his first big leadership role. Read the rest of this post & join the discussion

The burning platform metaphor is perhaps one of the most pervasive in the world of business. It was coined by consultant Daryl Conner more than 20 years ago, and popularized by Professor John Kotter of Harvard. It comes from the true story of Andy Mochan, a worker on the Piper Alpha oil rig when it exploded in July 1988, killing 167 of his colleagues.

In the story, Mochan is awoken by the explosion. He runs up on deck to see that the platform is on fire. He is now faced with a choice; does he stay on the platform and burn alive, or does he jump more than 150 feet into freezing water? As the flames engulf the platform, he makes the split-second decision to jump. Somehow, he survives the impact and is rescued by a boat before freezing to death. When asked why he jumped he replies “better probable death than certain death.”

This is an amazing story of survival amid tragedy, but I have several practical issues with the burning platform metaphor as it applies to business change and transformation. The first issue is that it implies fear and extreme urgency are not only necessary, but somehow desirable motivators for change; the implication being that in order to change, we all need to have our arses on fire.

Read the rest of this post & join the discussion

Hello, and welcome to my very first blog.

Let me start with a confession; I’ve resisted moving into the world of social media for some time – mostly out of ignorance and fear. Then an evil and persuasive friend of mine reminded me of my sworn purpose in life – to enable transformation. He challenged me to move beyond my comfort zone of consulting and speaking engagements, and bring my learnings to the widest possible audience. So here we are.

For the last 12 years, I’ve been a researcher, management consultant and leader of my own business – all focused on transformation. That is, how ordinary leaders, teams and organizations become extraordinary. During this time, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with hundreds of leaders around the world, read countless books and articles, delivered speaking engagements on four continents, started a leadership foundation for school students, and completed original doctoral research on the subject.

Strangely, it has only recently occurred to me that I may have an incurable obsession with transformation. It has perplexed me somewhat, because there is no logical, intellectual or academic reason for it. My parents aren’t university educated; in fact they are two Italian immigrants who both left school at 15 years old so they could go to work in support of their working class families.

Growing up, I observed my mum overcome this by becoming self-educated, and developing a strong need for substance, facts and truth – she ran a no BS household. I watched my dad do the exact opposite; he became a dreamer, lost in the potential of things. He always expected the best of people or situations – almost a blind optimist if you will. To underline the point, he’s now 70, has been ten-pin bowling weekly for more than 30 years, and still believes his next game will be the perfect 300.

The impact of all of this on me has been to create an internal battle between daring to dream and hard facts; dreaming of playing soccer in Europe, while wondering whether I had the skill and discipline to get there; dad taking me to practice five times a week, and mum taking me out because my school work was suffering; feeling the pride of being the first person in my extended family to go to university, and the pain of seeing old team mates make it into the big leagues.

Then it hit me like a bolt of lightning; transformation is what happens at the intersection of dreaming and truth.

Transformation is the intersection of dreaming and truth - Peter FudaThis intersection has fueled my obsession, and as I reflect on my 12 obsessive years in this field there is one thing I have learned above all others; transformation is not just a matter of intention, it is also a matter of alignment. Why do I say this? Because every leader I have ever met has noble intentions – I haven’t met the leader who aspires to destroy shareholder value, irritate customers and alienate staff – yet more than 70% of all transformation efforts fail.

It’s the same in our personal lives. My desire to be fit and healthy doesn’t help me on a cold winter’s morning when I turn off the alarm and pull the covers back up; I need to step into my trainers and hit the pavement too.

Moving forward, I hope to share my obsession with you; to reveal the many inspirational stories of ordinary managers who have become extraordinary leaders – transforming their own lives, their teams and their entire organizations in the process. I’ll share many of the strategies and techniques that have helped them to get there, so that you may consider them on your own journey.

I hope you enjoy my blog, and encourage you to share it with anyone whom you think will benefit.

Want to keep reading? Here are some quick links to other blogs you may like;

7 Metaphors for Leadership Transformation
15 Qualities Of A Transformational Change Agent
Enlist a peer coach and accelerate your transformation