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4D Leadership

4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development

Twenty years ago the accumulation of skills, knowledge and experience (‘horizontal development’) was sufficient for business success. Today, it’s not. 4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development, offers a new approach of ‘vertical development’.

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How to take your first step towards coherence


I was chatting to someone the other day who had read my book. They were being very complementary, but then she asked me: where do I start? If I want to change my life for the better, what’s the first step? I thought I’d share with you my answer.

There is a tendency to think that the problems of the world are all ‘out there’ – if only other people or those companies or those governments would do something. When you believe that the cause of the problem is ‘out there’ then you start to feel helpless that there is nothing you can do. 

Well there is something that you can do and the first step is to stop looking ‘out there’ and to start looking inside yourself. When you ask yourself: What can I do? The answer is to start with the only thing you can do, which is to change yourself. You don’t have control over those other things; you haven’t got control over climate or fossil fuels or the banks, but you do have control over how you think, how you feel and how you behave. If you want to change the world these are only three levers you can pull.

The first step to changing the planet or making your own life better or making others’ lives better in any way is to change how you think, how you feel or how you behave. As long as you continue to feel ‘helpless’, then you’re in victim mode and you’ll never make a difference. You need to change that feeling of helplessness before you do anything. It always starts with you.

The second step to changing the world or your life is to cultivate your awareness. When you’re looking out there, you’re not looking at yourself. Once you realise the change starts with you, the second step is to understand what’s going on with you. How are you thinking? What are you thinking? Why are you thinking that? What do you really feel about that? What are you actually doing? These kinds of questions cultivate self-awareness, but awareness raising on its own is not always helpful. In fact in isolation it can actually be counter productive if you don’t take the third step. The third step is to do something with the new awareness. What’s the point of knowing you feel bad, if you don’t change that feeling.

Step three is moving from awareness to action. If you’re in charge of a business and one manufacturing site is losing money – you do something about it. Awareness of the problem demands action. Awareness without action is dangerous, but it happens all the time. Think about a news report about massive flooding in Bangladesh. It raises your awareness, but leaves you asking ‘what do I do about that?’ Should I send money, should I fly over there and offer help? You are aware but you are left with a feeling of helplessness. So now you are worse off than before you heard the news report. So if you don’t want to be worse off you must take action.

It is true that there is no change without awareness, but awareness has to lead to action – that’s the point of awareness.

The action is to change what you feel, what you think and what you do. For more about that, read the book Coherence: The Secret Science of Brilliant Leadership

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Dr Alan Watkins

Alan is recognised as an international expert on leadership and human performance. He has a broad mix of commercial, academic, scientific and technological abilities.

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