Pretty Amazing Grace – Obama and Emotional Intelligence

I always had high hopes for President Obama, and while he may have failed to bring about change at the pace many hoped for (remember “yes we can”?), he will be remembered for something wonderful, long after his Presidency is over.

He broke into song,  Amazing Grace, and he talked about “grace”, during the memorial service to one of the Charleston victims.

That he did so in the style of a Southern Baptist preacher, fuelled by the call and response of the congregation and supported by the swelling church organ was pretty amazing and exactly what that congregation needed to hear from their President at that moment.  This in itself showed great emotional intelligence, sensing the feelings in that room (and of the millions watching) and choosing an appropriate, if daring intervention to manage those feelings.

But what about the concept of grace?

“Reverend Pinckney … conducted himself quietly and kindly and diligently,” Obama eulogised, “He encouraged progress not by pushing his ideas alone but by seeking out your ideas, partnering with you to make things happen. He was full of empathy and fellow feeling, able to walk in somebody else’s shoes and see through their eyes.”

Now that strikes me as summing up everything we talk about in personal development when we use terms like Emotional Intelligence and Interpersonal Skills.  The idea that grace is simply the act of charity, empathy and forgiveness to others strikes a chord with me and I wonder if this is at the heart of what should be instilling in others.

A workplace where grace is the everyday norm, a place where we share challenges, successes, even defeats.  A workplace with a bit more humility and a whole lot more forgiveness… A workplace where we take time to really know each other and what’s important to each of us.  Now that’s grace.

Reverend Pinckney had that grace, Obama has that grace. Surely we can show we have that grace too, in everything we do.




3 Leadership Ideas:


  1. What does your audience need to hear from you right now?
  2. In what situations can you show more empathy to people and what might that achieve?
  3. How are mistakes or failure treated in your organisation? With “grace” or something else?
Posted by John Drysdale
10th July 2015
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…)