As I write this, 70 missiles have just been launched at Ukrainian cities by the Russian armed forces. These terrorist attacks have become so common that the UK news outlets aren’t really covering the event, but this attack will kill and injure innocent people, as well as forcing the (temporary) loss of power and water services across the country.

Putin’s decision to launch a full invasion of Ukraine in February has caused death and destruction for Ukrainians, but it is proving calamitous for Russia. Unable to succeed on the battlefield, Putin has resorted to attacking the civilian population, with the aim of causing misery, fear and instability across the country.

The problem for Putin is that it’s not working. Instead of fear, his terrorist attacks are building resolve and determination. And it looks like a similar situation might be developing across Russia’s new best friend, Iran. Despite the killings and executions of protestors, the mullahs’ grip on power appears to be weakening.

Ruling and leading by fear and coercion only works if those being ruled agree to be cowed. At best, fear-driven leadership delivers compliance. But once the fear goes, any semblance of compliance also disappears.

On a smaller scale, I’m fortunate that my clients are more enlightened and lead organisations where people are positively engaged in the company’s aims and aspirations. That said, there are still too many organisational leaders – often under pressure themselves – who turn to leading by fear to try and improve results. Inevitably, however, their threats and bullying only produces grudging compliance, rather than genuine, enthusiastic and sustainable performance delivery.

So, this Christmas and New Year, I hope that you will join me in supporting the people of Ukraine and Iran in their refusal to be ruled by fear and, at a more local level, work to remove fear-driven leadership in the organisations where you work, fulfilling the belief of Franklin D. Roosevelt that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Off The Record: I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty

Well, I know what’s right

I got just one life

In a world that keeps on pushing me around

But I’ll stand my ground

And I won’t back down

The Chief Officers’ Breakfast Club, 2023

The aim of the Breakfast Club is to provide senior and chief officers with a place to meet, gain new ideas and insights and learn from each other and our guest speakers. At the same time, the £500 membership fee has allowed Club to financially support 12 high-potential young athletes through our partner charity, SportsAid.

Over the past year, our special guests have included Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Sir Will Adderley (the deputy-chairman, ex-CEO and majority shareholder of Dunelm plc) and Ian Filby, formerly the CEO of DFS plc.

I will be sharing more details about the 2023 programme in the next few weeks, but if you would like to join the group, please contact me at or call me on 01636-526111. It would be great to have you join!