Stories & Thoughts 

Cleaning your fishbowl - leadership habits that shine

Written for my work with t-three, this article takes a look at the impact leaders have - both consciously AND without thinking - on the culture and people around them.


Here's a quick look...

Great leadership is more than a higher salary, a share of the profits, and the proverbial corner office. These days, great leadership is judged by the quality of interactions with your employees, the decisions you make, and how well you set your business up for its future.


No matter your leadership style, a culture will grow around you – great leaders are those who grow this deliberately and consciously. They look around at their employees, their customers and their work environments, and choose to make a culture that shines.


A new way of looking at things: Your leadership fishbowl

Time and again, being able to identify, name, and sometimes even draw a picture of what’s going on around you provides leaders with a new set of vocabulary you can use to highlight persistent challenges and spot opportunities to make your culture better. Thinking about your workplace as a thriving fishbowl, is one we've found works well. Your people are the fish; your in practice values and behaviours the pebbles; your whole business the fishbowl, and your culture the water that surrounds it all. Here are a few questions for your to ask yourself:



Who are the fish in your bowl and how are they swimming?
  • Big, small, colourful or camouflaged?

  • Are they swimming in the same direction or hiding beneath the toy bridge?

  • Do they school together or do some have teeth?

What makes up the pebbles of your floor?

I don't mean the words written on a poster, but the feelings and experiences that bind your people together.

  • Are there a few larger rocks or a thousand little ones?

  • Are they smooth and well worn or spikey and sharp?

How do you feed your fish?
  • Do you fling in a handful of food once a year or take an intentional approach to their wellbeing?

What do you do to make your water sparkle?
  • How clean is your water now?

  • What murk have you become so used to you can't even see it any more?

  • How frequently do you clean you bowl?

What weeds are slowing you down?
  • Common weed we see 1: Leaders and their teams swimming round and round

  • Common weed we see 2: The fish with the sharpest teeth wins

  • Common weed we see 3: Mistaking proximity for togetherness


Employees today are more demanding and have far higher expectations of what their work offers them, no matter their generation. For each and every one of us our sense of sparkle will differ, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Lead from a position of trust

  • Solve issues together

  • Believe in the people you hire

  • Build a strong sense of purpose and impact

  • Learn that it is not always your responsibility to lead, learn when you need to follow

If you'd like to read the full article, please follow this link.

Samantha x

© 2018 by Samantha Woolven. Your people. Your actions. Your words.

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