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This blog has moved – please join at our new site

2 Jan

Our work on Host Leadership is continuing very well, with new developments coming along and the long-awaited book now in draft form. We have a new blog integrated with the site at, so it’s time to head over there and join up. All the posts and comments have been transferred so you’re not missing a thing! This site will not be updated in future.
Come on over to see the latest developments including our new ‘Six roles for a host leader’ at


Soft power in ‘Director’ magazine – feminine or more than that?

17 Sep

The September 2013 issue of the Institute of Directors Magazine Director features a nice piece by Marona Gask on soft power. As you will see, they put it into the context of feminisation.

I think that hosting has a feminine aspect to it – as well as a masculine one. What do you think?

The article is at Discussion on the Host Leadership community website at

Servant-leadership – why isn’t it more prevalent (Forbes/HBS piece)

22 Jul

As reguservant-leadershiplar readers may know, I see host leadership as being a ‘build’ on Robert Greenleaf’s pioneering work about servant-leadership. A few weeks ago an interesting piece appeared at Forbes about work by Prof James Heskett of Harvard Business School on why, if servant-leadership is so good, it’s not more prevalent.

Heskett does a nice job of asking the question, but the comments below reveal some interesting answers. These include:

  • Getting to the top in US corporations requires trumpet-blowing and self promotion.
    In the Twitter age, ‘it’s all about me’.
    MBA programs don’t teach it.

I would agree with these very much, and also add:

  • ■  Confusion in the modern world about what a ‘servant’ actually is and does. People tend to think of ‘waiter’ or something, whereas the master-servant relationship is much richer and more dynamic than that. Servant-leadership seems to have more impact where there is a sophisticated idea of service, like church organisations.
    ■   The paradox of if the leader is servant, then the organisation must be ‘master’. It seems an odd relationship (though I have no doubt that Greenleaf intended this as a thought-provoker).
    ■   The metaphor of servant-leadership doesn’t appeal to those who have been traditionally cast in servant roles – women, ethnic minorities. They are fed up with this position and may be seeking something different.

All of these can be seen differently using the ‘leader-as-host’ metaphor. This adds a dimension of proactivity and responsibility, within a framework including service at appropriate times.

What do you think? Why hasn’t servant-leadership made more impact so far?

The art of asking – invitation in the music industry

7 Mar

I’ve just been sent this TED talk by Amanda Palmer about the ‘Art of Asking’. Palmer is a musician and performer, was dropped by her label despite some early success and turned to crowd-funding (specifically Kickstarter) to raise money. By inviting her supporters to join her at gigs, even come on stage for a few numbers, she has grown a community of 25,000 people and raised $1.2 million (even though she only asked for $100,000) – the biggest Kickstarter yet. Continue reading

Get the most out of people – take Response-Ability (new white paper)

6 Feb

Our next focus of discussion at is about the balance of planning/organising and responsiveness.  We’re call this ‘response-ability’ – because it’s about taking responsibility for what happens (by having enough planning and preparation) and at the same time showing the ability to respond (and be flexible enough to depart from the plan as things emerge). Continue reading

Leadership metaphors from the World Open Space

9 Jan

wosonos2012A few weeks ago I joined in with the World Open Space on Open Space (WOSonOS) 2012 here in London.  People came from all over the world to Stoke Newington Town Hall in North London for three days of Open Space activity – about using Open Space.  Open Space originator Harrison Owen was there, and it was excellent to meet him again over 15 years since I first came across him and Open Space. Continue reading

Hosting the world – the inside secrets from London 2012

20 Dec

2012 has been a wonderful year to be living in London.   On July 27 the Olympics turned overnight from an expensive charade into a fantastic, community-building festival with the whole world arriving to join in.  I remember seeing my first London 2012 volunteer on the Tube that day, and thinking “Smart uniform – but I wonder what they do..?”.  Well, it all became clear as over the following fortnight the Games Makers – all 70,000 of them – made the biggest impact on the Games, the visitors and the spirit of the occasion. Continue reading

NEW host leadership website and blog – time to transfer

23 Oct

The Host Leadership project is moving on in a very exciting way.  We now have a new website at, with much improved blogging, discussion and community facilities.  There’s also a new working paper to download FREE.  And there is a new logo in vibrant colours to mark the event. Continue reading

Leadership in the age of complexity: from hero to host

3 May

Margaret Wheatley has been writing about leadership in connection with complexity with some time now, and I am delighted that she sees a connection between working with a complex world and hosting.  I just came across her new article (co-authored by Deborah Frieze) as the featured article at the Berkana Institute website – Leadership in the age of complexity: from hero to host.  I particularly like the way she looks at why we continue to yearn for heroes – even if we know that it’s more or less a forelorn hope. 

Read the article at, or download the pdf from

Hosts spot what is missing and gently act

12 Mar

I remember seeing Alan Aykbourn’s play Absent Friends some years ago at the theatre.  The main character is Colin, whose fiance has just been drowned and has been invited for a tea-party with friends  to help him get over it.  The friends are determined not to let this unhappy event mar the event, and so go to great efforts not to mention it.  This being Aykbourn, confusion, comedy and pathos follow; for example when asked how she likes her tea one of the character unthinkingly replies “just a spot of milk… don’t drown it!”.  Continue reading

Leadership and Hosting: Mosimann’s event report

8 Mar

Around 30 people gathered yesterday at the exclusive Mosimann’s dining club in the heart of London’s Belgravia for a ground-breaking event.  Firstly, this was the inaugral Leaders@Mosimanns dinner, hosted by Elaine Mosimann as a way of connecting her twin passions of leadership development and fine dining.  In addition, it was the first event in the UK to centre on the new leadership paradigm of ‘Leader as Host, Host as Leader’.  Continue reading

The host and the manager – keeping inbetween in an emergent world

22 Feb

I (Mark) run an online course with the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Solutions Focus Business Professional.  Over 16 weeks we cover all kinds of aspects of the SF approach relating to management and coaching, with a worldwide group – it’s a fantastic experience.  One of the readings is my Leader as Host, Host as Leader paper.  Krassimir Yanev, one of our participants from Bulgaria (pictured right), offered this great summary connecting the manager as host with the idea of ‘Inbetween’ from The Solutions Focus book: Continue reading

Leadership and Hosting evening – Mosimann’s club, London, Wed 7 March 2012

8 Feb

The act of hosting – inviting, offering, sharing – is as ancient as humanity itself,  crossing cultural, geographical and historical divides. In this time of financial crisis and global uncertainty, what can leaders learn from hosting?

Leadership expert Dr Mark McKergow will show you how this new paradigm of “leader as host” unlocks valuable insights and practical steps for engaging people, building relationships and delighting customers – particularly in challenging times.   Continue reading

Fred Goodwin – bad hosting cost him his knightood?

1 Feb

Fred-Goodwin - not 'Sir' FredFred Goodwin, former CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), has been unprecedentedly stripped of the knighthood he was awarded in 2004 for services to banking.   UK readers will be familiar with the story: Goodwin led the takeover of ABN Amro by RBS in 2007 which ended up being a major contributor to RBS’s failure and bail-out, costing the British taxpayer £45bn in bail-out money.  Goodwin then left RBS with a huge payout and a £705,000 a year pension, to which he managed to cling (citing contractual obligations) until late 2009 when some he relunctantly surrendered £200k pa.     Continue reading

The power of host leadership – last to leave the sinking ship

25 Jan

The recent tragic events surrounding the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, which ran aground and capsized off the island of Giglio earlier this month, have shown the power of the host-as-leader metaphor.  The captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest accused, amongst other things, of abandoning the ship while hundreds of passengers remained on board.  Schettino’s claims that he fell into a lifeboat will no doubt be examined by a court in due course. Continue reading

Host leadership during the London riots

7 Sep

First post for a while here, we’ve been busy moving our offices and home to London over the past few months, Interest in the host leadership metaphor continues to grow, and I am hoping to be posting more news here soon. Continue reading

Future of Leadership Development: Groups, Networks and Partnerships

1 Jul

I’ve just come across a very nice blog post from Claire Reinelt from the Stanford Social Innovation Review Opinion Blog – very coherent with hosting rather than trying to be too clever and directive. Check it out at

Leader as Host – “a beautiful way to show up”

7 Jun

“When I show up in the role of a host leader, beautiful things happen.”  I was talking with my TLC colleague Robert MacPhee about the idea of Leader as Host recently, and he said just that – so I had to find out more.  Robert works with top US success coach Jack Canfield, leading the volunteer groups who staff Jack’s programmes.  He says: Continue reading

Solution Focused practice and host leadership

14 Apr

I had a very nice email the other day from Lance Taylor of Alberta, Canada.  Lance is a psychologist and trainer of Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (which as you may know forms an important basis for my work at sfwork, – his website is   I think he sums up a great deal about some important connections between these two fields.  Continue reading

NEW! Host Leadership and Transactional Analysis paper

29 Mar

The website now has a new feature – a Resources page at  I am very grateful to Phil Aspden for sending me his paper on Host Leadership from a transactional analysis perspective.  His paper, from the IDTA Journal, can now be downloaded from the site at  Responses and further submissions/resources/links would be very welcome indeed.

How hosts can lead by stepping back

2 Mar

I had a great time at the UK Art of Hosting gathering in Birmingham on Saturday.  About 18 of us met as a follow-on to the AoH event at Hazlewood in Devon last autumn (which I reported on in the SFWork blog at  Much of the time was spent in Open Space, with some interesting topics like ‘a new language for sustainability’.   Continue reading

Leadership Agility and the post-heroic leader

10 Feb

I was talking to my good friend Stephen Josephs yesterday about the metaphor of host as leader and leader as host.  Stephen is one of the most experienced leadership coaches I know, and has a huge amount of accumulated wisdom in many traditions.  His book (with Bill Joiner) ‘Leadership Agility: Five levels of mastery for anticipating and initiating ( sets out a great agenda for post-heroic leadership.  Continue reading

The power of inviting – getting an authentic Yes

2 Feb

One of the key aspects of Leader as Host is the power of invitations. Whereas Hero leaders might instruct, and others might request, a Host leader will use the power of a compelling invitation to engage people. I have been thinking for a while about what makes a great invitation. Of course we need to know what we’re being invited to – both at the conceptual and practical level. Continue reading

New Linkedin group for Host Leadership

27 Jan

Linkedin logoI have started a Linkedin group on the topic of Host Leadership –  Please go and join now – it’s public and free, and will serve as a place for information and discussion about the metaphor of host as leader and leader as host.  There are already over 10 members and we’ve been open less than a day!  An encouraging number of people are downloading the paper – do it now at

Servant leadership and host leadership

14 Jan

I am often asked about the differences between ‘servant leadership’ – the pioneering work based on Robert K Greenleaf’s metaphor of leaders as servant to their community – and ‘host leadership’.

On a straightforward level, of course, they are different metaphors.  I would say that serving is a key part of the work of a host, and hosts have a great focus on providing for their guests.  However, there is more to hosting than service.  Continue reading

The website is launched

9 Jan

An exciting way to start 2010 for us – the launch of Mark McKergow’s new website dedicated to the metaphor of leader as host and host as leader.  With Mark’s paper on the topic attracting international applause and recognition, this site is a focus for those who are enthusastic about this metaphor, those who want to apply it to their work as leaders, and those who want to learn about the idea.  On the site you can Continue reading