Emotionally Revealing

The Tears of a Leader –  are they a good thing?

Yesterday’s announcement by President Obama has, as expected, sparked further furious debate about gun control and civil liberties in the USA.   People are also talking about the moment where the emotion of discussing the shooting of young schoolchildren became almost too much to bear.

The sight of the most powerful man on earth with tears streaming down his face, struggling to contain his words and actions, may have moved some and perhaps made others uncomfortable.

I remember taking part in a Corporate HR Leadership Programme the culmination of which was a ‘Personal Mastery’ session.  This involved sharing our answers to 3 profound questions* about our leadership and “purpose” to our fellow participants.  First up was our HR Director ”Dave” and I remember him sitting in front of us being searingly honest about his own leadership and what was important to him.  Dave also became emotional when talking about his values and why he felt he was placed here. Not ‘out-of-control’ emotional but like Obama, Dave became tearful at one point and struggled to get his words out.

Others too became emotional/tearful during their mastery session that day and most agreed it was a powerful and valuable session. However, some discussion in the bar afterwards was around whether Dave “did himself any favours” by revealing those all too human emotions to us, his team.  This seemed to be centred on political/hierarchical concerns about Dave’s “position” rather than authenticity. It seems some people found it “uncomfortable”.

I think being Emotionally Revealing can be helpful to leaders, provided it’s authentic and for the right purpose.  Daniel Goleman’s EI model proposes a “Regulation” of our emotions but I do not take this to mean shutting down emotions. Surely revealing (in a controlled way) your true feelings are the key to authentic and trustworthy leadership?  Dave did this and in doing so allowed others to explore and share their true feelings about what was important to them. The President did this and showed that frankly, he’s had enough of it.

I don’t know if Obama will be successful in his executive order but I do know for sure it is important to him.

Important enough for him not to be afraid to reveal his true feelings about those dreadful events.

Important enough to do something about.


* these are the questions we answered.

Questions for leaders

  1. What is distinctive about your style of leadership?
  2. What is important to you and what do you value most?
  3. What will your legacy be?
Posted by John Drysdale
6th January 2016
John's Blog


New Projects for Summer/Autumn 2018

It has been a really rewarding couple of weeks here at No Guru with new work and wonderful new clients added to our portfolio.

This week we met with the Senior Team at Irwell Valley Homes who have commissioned a project in support of their new brand. (more…)

No Guru now working with University of Huddersfield

Quarter 1 has started off with brilliant news, a newly commissioned programme of delivery for the University of Huddersfield to deliver ‘Strategic Thinking in Higher Education’ as part of an ambitious programme of development for Senior Managers. This leads to a recognised qualification from the Chartered Management Institute.  Head of Staff Development, Daniel Benton explains (more…)

Coaching for Results: Event with Professional Liverpool

We are delighted to be partnering with Professional Liverpool to deliver a FREE seminar on Monday 5th March (3pm to 5pm).

This explores the role of Coaching (and Mentoring) in helping staff deliver business results.  The session will be run by John Drysdale and will be a chance to find out how you can coach more effectively and perhaps consider a role in Coaching and Mentoring through our ILM Programmes.

To reserve your place click here. (more…)


John's Blog

The Immortal Memory: Robert Burns

Address to The Liverpool Athenaeum  2nd February 2018

I was delighted to be asked by club President Sir David Maddison to deliver The Immortal Memory at The Athenaeum Burns evening which I attended with my wife Fiona. This is a huge honour for any Scot and I hope I did it justice.  Burns provides such a rich tapestry I found it a real challenge to be succint and speak in a way that would connect with the audience – I chose to set Burns against the universal themes we recognise today and in the challenges we face in uncertain times.  I hope you enjoy it.   JD


The Immortal Memory – Robert Burns 1759-1796

The Athenaeum 2nd Feb 2018

President, ladies and gentlemen, fellow proprietors and distinguished guests.  I am honoured to propose the Immortal Memory this evening.

To one Robert Burns who lived between 1759 and 1796.


Image Triage – be careful what you post

How to avoid public ‘shaming’

If you’ve ever read Jon Ronson’s book ‘Shamed’, you will know the devastating effect social media can have on people who have posted something stupid on the internet.

Ronson highlights the case of Justine Sacco (a director of corporate communications) who, before boarding an 11-hour flight from Heathrow to Cape Town, Tweeted to her 170 followers what she thought was a series of lighthearted, acerbic comments about her journey. (more…)

Across the great divide

Reworking of an earlier blog of mine, marking the 50th Anniversaries of the deaths of Martin Luther King (4/4/68) and Robert F Kennedy (6/6/68)

Let’s be kinder to each other 

There is a striking memorial in a park in Indianapolis.  It marks the spot where, in April 1968, Robert Kennedy told a waiting crowd that Martin Luther King had been shot and killed, before speaking from the heart and his own personal experience, that violence is never an answer to our grievances.  His calming words quelled the rioting that other cities endured in the days after Dr King’s death and, arguably, saved some lives that night.


The memorial itself is an arresting work of art.  (more…)