Leadership Alignment

Leadership Alignment

Vincent Romano

Vincent Romano

Senior Consultant

Recently, Arcadia co-hosted a Webinar with Elliott Scott HR Recruitment on the topic of Leadership Alignment featuring two of Arcadia’s Partners Mark Weston and Matt Lyon.

Given the current turmoil in the business world, leaders are facing a multitude of challenges, many of which we have never encountered before. Companies are being forced to pivot their businesses and fast forward plans to move online, while staff have had to move to a virtual way of working, turning home into office.

Leaders have had to reassess their business environment and consider whether the culture is appropriate for the new reality. Some of these challenges can be very emotive, and leadership teams have to make critical decisions, which can often be divisive. The companies that will be successful are the ones that have a leadership team united by a shared vision which is then shared across the whole organisation.

Stories and Behaviours

Matt explained that when he sees organizations that are fully aligned there are usually four elements present, divided into ‘Stories and Behaviors’. A fully aligned organization has a story of who they are, what the journey has been and where they want to go. They also have a set of clearly identifiable values.

Each individual needs to see their own story being encapsulated in the group story so that they see their own goals or objectives form part of the goals or objectives of the group story. When those two stories connect – when individuals can see their own story forming part of the group’s story – then we obtain a huge enabler to drive those goals and objectives.

When individuals are motivated they will choose a set of behaviors that will enable them to achieve those goals. But because individuals are also motivated to fit in within a group, they will behave as others do. This results in individual’s behaviors aligning with the group’s behaviors.

Therefore, to gain leadership alignment you must also have alignment in these stories and behaviors. The problem companies are facing currently is that with all the disruption to business plans, group behaviors no longer match the individuals behaviors, or the individual’s story doesn’t match the group story. Consequently, in the case of Leadership Alignment we need to start by changing the group story, and then take it to a wider employee audience who can adjust their own goals to fit in with the new version of the story, and buy in to the new vision.

Strategic Narrative

To achieve Leadership Alignment, Matt employs the “Strategic Narrative” model shown below. By completing each section of this Strategic Narrative model, we obtain a vehicle that we can easily cascade down through the organization.

1. Pride and Purpose

Initially, the leadership team has to decide upon a statement that best summarizes the purpose and overall reason for existing. This this can often be a long and difficult process as we need to consider everything the company is doing and then chunk it down in order to end up with a statement that is very easily communicated and that connects everyone in the leadership team. The danger is that if there are some leaders who don’t agree here, then the process can be very difficult and that individual may not stay through the journey. Therefore, it is essential to gain everyone’s commitment and ownership at this stage.

6. Destination

Matt jumped ahead to the sixth part of the model – Destination. The reason was because it is important to be clear on where the organization is going. The leadership team needs to have a conversation about the opportunities that are sitting within the organization in order to drive it to where they want to go. The destination needs to be motivating and it needs to be inspiring so that the rest of the people within the organization feel the need to want to get there.

2. Current Reality

This examines where we are today and identifies what key challenges are present through the entire organization, not just at the leadership level, and figures out what is holding it back.  Again, everyone in the organization needs to be able identify with these challenges so that they can say “yes, this is my experience, this is what frustrates me”. By doing this, the individual gains belief that the leader is on the same page.

3. Opportunity

In this section Matt explained that the leadership team needs to reframe the problems and challenges as opportunities. This itself is crucial shift in perspective for the leaders, as by doing this they are taking ownership of the problems. The leaders need to take whatever the current experience is and translate that into an opportunity, then all these opportunities need to be reframed into something more achievable that has a journey.

4. Journey

The journey has to have clarity on the strategies that we are going to pursue to help us turn the reality into an opportunity. These are the “Strategic Drivers”, which are usually one of three things –

  1. Efficiency drivers – these are things we need to fix or improve
  2. People issues – activities that will enable the people within the organization to be more effective
  3. Creativity/innovation drivers – what is it that the organisation doesn’t have that we need to create or obtain

By identifying these Strategic Drivers, the leadership creates clarity, creates believability and they connect with the individuals.

5. Changes

At every level of the organisation we are expecting change – change in mindset, change in competencies and change in behaviors. People need to know what the new behaviors are and everyone needs to be accountable for these new behaviors. We need to be able to articulate what needs to change at a behavioral level and what mindsets we need to have.


Most importantly, the leadership team needs to know that it starts with them and that they are going to drive this. During the process the leaders need to have some vulnerability as they will need to be able discuss what things didn’t work, as well as sharing the successes. And by being transparent they build believability in the audience. Mark subsequently described some of the Leadership Mindsets that may be required to help enable success in the journey – Leadership Care, Growth Mindset, Wellbeing, Thriving Under Pressure, Resilience and High Performing Teams.

If you would be interested in attending future events or would like further information on this topic please get in touch with either Tom at tom.forrest@arcadiaconsulting.com or Vincent at vincent.romano@arcadiaconsulting.com.

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Executive Presence – Why is it Important?

Executive Presence – Why is it Important?

Vivian Tam

Vivian Tam

Principal Consultant

The pandemic caused a rapid shift from the office to virtual working, in some instances, overnight. The different working environment required leaders to adopt a new mindset and skillset to adapt to the technology innovation and continuous change. The last year has proven that the ability to learn, lead and navigate a team through change is essential for leaders.

We may have become comfortable with remote working but some elements of the office have been more challenging to replicate over a Zoom or Teams call, particularly communication. It can be noticeably harder to convey ideas, make an impact and build relationships over the internet. Perhaps our social fear of the virtual world is as powerful as Godzilla.

However, it is possible to do all of the above remotely and thrive amidst the uncertainties of outside restrictions. Having a strong online presence will empower you to build relationships, motivate your team, engage clients, make revenue and strengthen your business.

According to a 2017 study by Hainan Provincial Education Science Planning Project, 34.65% of students believed they lacked confidence in the workplace; 63.85% of the students thought that public speaking and eloquence training was related to confidence in the workplace. Data from more than 10,000 people showed that relationships and personal image accounted for 85% of success. Authoritative survey showed that nearly 90% of business managers have some degree of speech fear and nervousness, especially in the virtual environment.

Executive Presence is often described as having confidence and grace under fire. People with presence exert gravitas and tend to be more influential, inspiring and motivational. The difference is a strength of character built on a resourceful internal mindset. Arcadia’s “Executive Presence” programme helps attendees to harness their executive presence and step more easily into leadership roles in the virtual, hybrid and office environment.

Clinical Professor of Leadership at the Kellogg School of Management, Brooke Vuckovic, stated “Executive presence is equal to credibility plus ease, all divided by ego. What executive presence does is it measures your capacity to translate out all your creativity, all your good ideas, all of your deep expertise.”

As Architects of Change, Arcadia Consulting has developed a unique S.A.F.E Meta Model and a “Three-step” strategy to implement the Executive Presence program based on its four core services: mindset, communication, leadership, and organizational Intelligence.

S.A.F.E. Meta Model

S (State): Mastering personal expertise and learning how to maintain a professional image of one’s personality, displaying a confident and assertive personality in any environment

A (Anchor): Control the topic direction and gain the approval of senior executives through body language and word skills

F (Flex): mobilize their own emotions and enhance cross-cultural communication ability

E (Engage): Attraction, audience identity, the TED talk approach

"Three-step" Strategy

  1. First build personal style to form affinity and credibility
  2. Grow and become a confident communication
  3. Leave a good influence on customers and promote the next collaboration


The last year has proven that every business needs an online presence. How can executives empower their teams to collaborate? How can employees enhance their self-belief and become influential? Executive presence is essential to stay relevant and connected to your colleagues, team, and clients. Future-proof your business by establishing yourself online. It’ll not only help you through current changes, but it’ll also help to engage your team, your clients and build your credibility no matter if you’re meeting in person or on Zoom.

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Your Heart Matters

Your Heart Matters

Mark Weston

Mark Weston

Head of APAC and Global Partner

It’s been nearly a year since I woke up on a Saturday morning with a pain in my left armpit. I had no idea what would happen an hour later.

We had just moved into a new office in Hong Kong and we were delighted that this was a real upgrade on where we were before. We had a few bottles of bubbles, some snacks to celebrate and no doubt some of Tom’s tunes in the background. We all left at a reasonable time and went home.

I am English, a cricket fan and love the fact that our test matches start at 6pm HK local time, which means that late into the night I can watch them play. I dozed off and woke up in the morning on the sofa, with an annoying tension in my armpit. It wasn’t painful, more annoying than anything else; but a constant annoyance, almost like someone pressing a rod or pole under your arm. To this day it’s been hard to exactly describe.

This is the part I am not particularly proud of. I took paracetamol thinking it would go away. After all, I had never experienced this before, so it was hard to compartmentalise as the situation as ‘something to worry about’. After 60 minutes of this ‘annoyance’ I told Paula (my wife) and given there was no obvious ‘heart attack’ dramatics, we didn’t leap to any conclusions. 

However, time was ticking and little did I know that this was actually a countdown clock to whether I lived or died. The annoyance grew to a consistent grip like sensation, which is when I called the local doctor. The advice was immediate….’get to the ER immediately and don’t waste a second!’ It had already been 90 minutes from when I had woken up with the ‘annoyance’ to now. 

My wife drove me to the ER at TKO hospital and waited. Thirty seconds later I was having a check, 60 seconds after that I was being taken to very quickly to have an ECG. I remember lying there with the amazing staff at TKO hospital saying to me that I was in the middle of a heart attack and they need to move me to another hospital for emergency surgery.

From a mindset perspective, it was hard to believe. I was 48 years old, sure liked a few drinks on occasion but generally healthy. How was this happening to me?

‘Clank clank’, the metal sides of the bed got slammed into place and we were off to the transport ambulance to Queen Elizabeth hospital.

I survived as you know, but my story is more about raising awareness to the signs, rather than going into my life now. Ninety minutes was a ridiculous length of time to wait, but I just had no idea that a pain on my left side would be a blockage. 

My advice to anyone now, would be to get to the hospital if you feel anything out of the ordinary from shoulder to shoulder, neck or even back. If the pain is prolonged and doesn’t let up, get there immediately. Don’t listen to your own internal dialogue, as this will be saying “this will pass” or will (like me) cause you to waste precious time! My cardiologist said that an extra 15 minutes and I would have passed away. To be completely honestly, in the last 5 minutes before they operated on me, I could feel myself getting a bit more relaxed, maybe slipping away.

As I was being transported in the ambulance to Queen Elizabeth, with Paula trying to keep up behind in her car, weird thoughts were dominating. Does Paula know all our bank account numbers? Does she have access to investments? Have I got everything sorted so her and the kids can carry on without me? Very rational based. 

But as I was laying there in the ambulance with two doctors standing over me with heart starting paddles, I remember thinking about my kids (they were both out with friends at the time) and the fact that I might not get to say goodbye. The emotional came after the rational.

Anyone reading this, please be aware that at no time was I in any pain. No grabbing of my chest, no falling down; just an ongoing tension to the armpit in my case. 

I was lucky and owe my life to three groups. My wife who ordered me to phone the doctor, the doctors who wasted no time in telling me to get to the hospital. Lastly the amazing staff at TKO and QE Hospital Authority in Hong Kong who saved me. 

Partners and loved ones, don’t trust the narrative of “it’s not that bad” or “I am sure it will pass”. Skip a few steps above and fast track to the ER.

Click here for more detailed heart attack symptoms.

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Change – Adding New Colors to My Canvas

Change – Adding New Colors to My Canvas

Angelena Cala

Angelena Cala


Change takes courage.

I received an overwhelming number of notes of “thumbs up” and congratulations when I shared that I have recently started a new chapter of my professional life – doing what I love, what I believe in and what I choose to. I decided to leave behind the chains of corporate demands and luxuries. Naturally, this came with questions…What helped me to take the decision, how long did I take to make this move? Was it scary? 

This got me reflecting. If this was something I knew I wanted and have often talked about, then why didn’t I make the change any sooner?

Change and I were never strangers.

My career path has never been strait-jacket and I would often describe it as a “dog’s breakfast”. It was colorful – just like a box of different crayons. Each crayon was a career move, a career experience and life moments that helped me “paint”  another canvas of opportunity.

I embraced the challenge to change and made the decision to change – sometimes without thinking it through. The canvas did not always turn out what I had in mind but more importantly, it was a learning experience. So, should I have made the move sooner? 

Maybe I grew older and wiser.

Habit, experiences and familiarity can be nemesis of change. Overthinking, over planning and overprotecting my “WHY” and not surrendering to spontaneity, it was all happening. Desirability bias was occupying my vision of what could be. I knew and I was aware. 

Lo and behold, I have been a fat cat nesting in the valley of familiarity, enjoying the warmth of the known, believing in the illusion of stability and debating innocuously my doubts or hopes. 

Clearly, this does not sound like wisdom with age. Instead, it seems like a state of paralysis. Maybe, the word ‘change’ has become too big, too hairy and too scary. I was lacking the courage to leave my nest of familiarity.  

“If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.” Quoting from Adam Grant’s new book, Think Again, I realized that I was giving it too much of the power of knowledge and had become captivated by the oldest emotion, fear.

Change is growth.

Sadly, the moment of enlightenment did not have the melodramatic effect of a  remote retreat or a volcanic hike I was hoping for but was it was ostensibly and simply a “AHA” moment. 

It was firmamental, I reframed. I unlearned. I acknowledged that fear was not going away. I needed to talk myself out of fear.

I reconnected with my passion, what I love doing and what I miss doing. I became curious about the future and began to see change as growth. 

Growth enabled experimentation. It was a positive experience and it fired up ideas and creativity within me that enabled me to paint the canvas of this new chapter. A combination of growth and curiosity allowed me to flick a switch and grow the desire to understand and to try. 

However, growing didn’t mean that I had to throw away my box of crayons. Instead, my new journey will add add more colors, more crayons into my box. So, bring on the canvas of life opportunities. 

The decision to make a change, however long it took, was uplifting and emancipating because I am growing again, with the rainbow of hope and new beginnings.

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