All in a handshake

Peter Mello posted this video yesterday of Mark Bowden talking about how to shake hands. I found this so compelling because he speaking about something so instinctive and invisible, yet reveals an insight that can affect every relationship we have in a moment of time. Watch the video.

Mark sees that at the heart of the handshake is the establishment of trust.

Trust is such a key element in success and leadership today.

Trust is an ethical term. The handshake is a form of social etiquette.

I've heard it said that etiquette is ethics in action.

When people come to trust us, we also gain their confidence in us. As a result, our own self-confidence should grow.

Barriers that exist between people can be lowered by simply how we greet them with a handshake. I know there is more to it than that, but it begins there.

Click on the video again and go to YouTube where you can find other videos of Mark talking about how our body language affects relations with people.

The Welcoming Leader

It has been said that Etiquette is Ethics in Action. The question then is what does etiquette look like?

Tom Morris in his book If Aristotle Ran General Motors tells of visiting the campus of Hampden Sydney College in Virginia and being impressed by how each person he met as he walked across campus acknowledged his presence and spoke a word of greeting to him. 

This is the etiquette at the heart of the action of hospitality that Tom Peters discusses Jan Gunnarsson's recent books,  Hostmanship: The Art of Making People Feel Welcome and The Welcoming Leader: The Art of Creating Hostmanship. [not yet available in English].  Peters adds these words,

... I am enamored, even mesmerized, by this "simple" idea. Here are the authors speaking from the dust jacket of The Welcoming Leader: "Welcoming leadership is about inspiring people to want to achieve common goals. For a welcoming leader, the emphasis is on the person. ... It requires an honesty and authenticity from you as a leader that has been lacking in many of our bosses in the past. In a world where everything looks similar—products and places, companies and countries—a guest or employee makes his decision to participate and commit based on how welcome he feels. To provide hostmanship ... we have to rejoice in serving others and provide leadership that reflects this."

This is another one of those simple human behaviors that we miss.  Don't ignore people. Treat them with dignity and respect, and they will trust you in return.

UPDATE: This just in!

Dear Ed!

I am working together with Jan Gunnarsson. You know, the author of the book The welcoming leader. I just wanted to inform you that YES, we do have the book in English as well. I would be very pleased if you could correct that on your website. The book can be ordered at: 

Best regards from



on a nice sunny springmorning. //Camilla Hagblom


Real Life Leadership: Discipline of etiquette strengthens a team’s ability to work together, achieve goals

Today's Real Life Leadership column - Discipline of etiquette strengthens a team’s ability to work together, achieve goals -  discusses the experience that many groups have of a person who seeks to control every discussion and every comment.

The problem with many  teams is that they don't focus at all on their relationships to one another.  It is all about the work that has to get done.  As a result,  some of the more shy, quiet members never say anything and the more verbal ones dominate.  It is the responsibility of the team leader to insure that everyone participates and no one dominates.

This is an issue of ettiquette.  Ettiquette is simply the practical application of a person's ethics.   So how they function in a social setting - and a team is a social context - tells you a lot about their ethical perspective on people and social interaction.

There are two problems that we face in this regard.

One is the dilemma of how to build a team where ettiqueette is a social expectation for the betterment of the team. The problem is that our natural tendency as well as the course that Western society has taken over the past 300 years is that the individual's consideration is more important than the group's.  So, to create a team - a real team - requires people to willingly put aside their own perogatives for the betterment of the team.

The second problem is that ettiquette is seen as an historical artifact of a long-dead era where formality was more important that people.  Somewhere between strict Victorian ettiquette and modern narcississtic rudeness is a balance that protects the team and enables team work to become both personally meaningful and socially fulfilling.