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In many jobs people work their way up through a hierarchy, an experience that prepares them for managing a team. In some professions, such as law, finance, accountancy, academia, engineering, education and healthcare, individuals may find themselves managing a team of equals. How to Lead Smart People uses 50 simple lessons to show the reader in concise, pithy prose how to manage a team of equals with intelligence and diplomacy.

We teach you core skills such as decision making and delegating, but also soft skills such as delivering good and bad news to team members and how to realise more general aims such as building trust and growing your team. We also offer advice on how to look after yourself as a team leader, how to build resilience in tough situations, but also how to develop creativity and extend your skill base so that you are constantly learning.

Arun Singh OBE FRSA is a leading international business lawyer, formerly a partner at KPMGLegal, non-executive director, corporate educator in leadership and negotiations, to international organisations, visiting professor at UK & Chinese university business schools and a senior government advisor with over 30 years’ experience. He has worked with companies from a range of sectors, professions and sovereign wealth funds in the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia. He was appointed an OBE for services to international trade and investment in January 1999 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Manufacturers.

Mike Mister was formerly the Global Director for Executive Development at EY Global and is now based at the Møller Institute at Churchill College, University of Cambridge. He works in supporting the development of leadership and change management capability in large organisations.  For over 25 years he has worked in the specialised area of professional services firms. His key areas of expertise and interest are at the intersection of strategy, commercial success and the organisation's people agenda.




Arun Singh and Mike Mister deliver speeches and workshops of varying lengths for organizations, conferences, team off-sites, and many other events in various countries.

The audiences learn a set of principles from the beginning to look at the world differently. Using evidence with anecdotes they illustrate impactful areas for improvement.

The approach is direct and practical - leaving audiences with tools and skills they can use right away. 

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Well-led diversity and inclusiveness programmes are good for business – internally and externally. High-performing, inclusive, diverse teams make a positive difference to the bottom line. They are more creative, more responsive and deliver better client service. Simply put, a systemic or programmatic focus on diversity and inclusion has real commercial benefits: it improves the quality of staff recruitment, engagement, productivity and retention which can give you a real competitive edge.

From a leader’s point of view, diverse teams can be more demanding because of the challenge from different perspectives, but they are also a lot more fun to lead. Smart leaders strive for diversity and inclusion at all levels of their organisations and seek to change attitudes and culture so that inclusiveness is normalised.



ABC Co. responded to a renewal request for one of their biggest contracts: a multi-year annuity that was enjoyed by the staff and delivered good profits for the company. The pitch process

proceeded without drama. The proposal was submitted in accordance with the procurement instructions. The champagne was put on ice while they waited expectantly for confirmation

that the contract would be extended for another three years.

There was a deep sense of shock when the news broke that they had lost the contract. The contract was awarded to an upstart competitor. The prices and service levels were similar. There was little sense that they might have run their bid differently. The team was solid, the track record was acceptable, and there was the history. So how come they had lost it?

The post-award review revealed that the purchaser had changed in significant ways since the last renewal. The new contract winner had forensically monitored and studied the buyer’s new business reality and had gone to great lengths to make the case for change based on how they presented themselves at the final presentation. This included team mix and the style and mode of presentation. They carefully matched their team to the client and the markets in which it operated in terms of gender, race and ethnicity, as well as their dress and level of formality.

In contrast, ABC Co. looked and felt old-fashioned and out of step with how the buyer and the industry in which they operated had changed. They had mistakenly taken for granted that just doing ‘the same as always’ would be enough to win them the business and seriously underestimated how prevailing cultures had moved on.


  • Take a long hard look at your team

  • Take a really good look at your clients

  • Use your away days and meetings to reinforce your messages

  • Bring different thinking and perspectives to your team

  • Challenge your assumptions

  • Own the message

  • Pay attention to the 'small' stuff


Market changes are making ever-more strenuous demands on organisations and people. The pressure to achieve advantage while at the same time dealing with ever-increasing demands from clients and customers, themselves being buffeted by new and differing commercial pressures, is plainly visible. The response to this pressure of simply doing more of what we did yesterday – but faster – was never a great solution. Today it makes even less sense. New thinking, new ideas and ways of working that connect the brainpower of smart

people with the latest technology are the way forward.

to enable and, more importantly, embed innovative mindsets and environments is not easy. It requires leaders to be able to tolerate, and accept, a degree of inefficiency, error, uncertainty and failure – often in a work environment that has a low tolerance for failure and error. Leading smart people means making sure you havefostered a culture where people feel safe enough to takerisks and make the changes that are needed.


  • Reverse mentor

  • Ask why - lots - to get to the core purpose

  • Don't view innovation as a threat

  • Retain your curiosity

  • Make your team meetings innovative

  • Let people mess up

  • Reward those who have tried to do things differently



Helmut was the chief people officer for a multinational company with ambitious growth plans. The nature of the business meant that growth would require an increase in head count of around 35 to 40 per cent. With this realisation came not only the interesting question of how to find a huge number of new people but also the more practical challenge of where they would be located. Helmut stopped and reflected, as the implications for their property requirement fully sank in. ‘Do we really need 35 to 40 per cent more office space?’, he wondered. Maybe there were other solutions he should consider.

The outcome from this one question was profound. It led in the first instance to a series of facilitated brainstorms with existing staff which triggered a raft of projects and innovative ideas –

Helmut wanted nothing to be off limits at this stage. These initial ideas were then prioritised and analysed by smaller groups who investigated their feasibility in more detail. Case studies from other organisations and advisers were taken into account. 


This was a lengthy and complex process which often threatened to generate more heat than light. But Helmut kept going and, in the end, the entire company had taken a serious relook at their office-space requirements. Flexible and remote working proved popular with people for all sorts of reasons, but were just the tip of the iceberg. The project looked at infrastructure much more widely, initiating the use of shared service centres and reviews of the processes by which the work was actually carried out, eventually leading to new working processes utilising artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Although none of the initiatives was completely new, their unique combination was groundbreaking in the sector. As the cost savings started to filter through, it became clear that this new approach was being emulated by other players.



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