Leadership Through Scarlet Thinking


Why You Need To Take a Fresh Look at Leadership


Scarlet Thinking helps organisations nurture ethical, value-driven leaders. Why? These are challenging times for organisations. Customers and press alike are poised to jump on the slightest hint of a scandal. Brand loyalty is becoming harder to build.  Meanwhile, more and more millennials and centennials are entering the workplace demanding meaningful, values-driven work.


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The internet has connected people with movements like #metoo and a million cute cat videos. However, it has also ruined reputations, spread rumours and provided a platform for anyone to voice their criticism. Sometimes anonymously. One bad moment of customer service can potentially ruin a brand that hasn’t already built up a foundation of trust, community and connection.


It’s no longer enough to be an inspirational leader. People can find now inspiration on Instagram or YouTube whenever they want. People need something more. Something deeper.




A changing workplace


By 2025, three out of every four workers will either be millennials or centennials. Already, they are shaking up the workplace and forcing a new approach to recruitment and retention.  The Millennial Impact Report (2016) has surveyed over 75,000 millennials. Referencing altruism and activism,  55 percent of millennials  said their company’s involvement with causes helped persuade them to take the job.


Centennials are predicted to be (Integreon, 2011)  “more socially responsible, due to greater access to a large online information pool they are more acutely aware of modern day challenges such as terrorism and climate change.”


The Scarlet Thinking approach to leadership brings in the very latest in academic research. It helps engender Ethical Leadership that is a fit for our fast moving, digital orientated times and a growing values-driven workforce that is demanding accountability and authenticity.

Research suggests new styles of leadership, such as Host leaders and Innovators, are the more effective way to navigate organisations through our current business landscape of fast-moving change and instability. And yet, leaders  throughout history, like the inspiration for our leadership training, have shown many of the same leadership qualities.



“In this era of the Enrons and the World Comms, I think we need more honest, self-reflective “personal audits”. We need individual employees at all levels to have a strong internal “compass” in an ethically challenged business climate.” Douglas Hall, 2004


Scarlet Thinking is:


S = Social

Scarlet Thinking is a People-orientated approach to leadership. It understands that leaders today rely on their connections. In many cases, their ability to create and sustain networks is how things get done.  This approach to leadership is based on nurturing and helping connections as much as looking to them for help.


C = Community 

Scarlet Thinkers create a sense of belonging: a community.  They are inclusive and know that collaboration and diversity can bring about spectacular results and experiences.


A = Authentic

Leaders who illustrate Scarlet Thinking aren’t afraid to be vulnerable.  This authenticity builds connection and trust with colleagues, customers and the outside world.


Meanwhile, they are following their own values. They fit Hall’s definition of a Protean Career (1996), which has a “high level of self-awareness and personal responsibility”, “self-knowledge and adaptability.” Hall (2004) explains these competencies will be invaluable to any organisation.


R = Radiant

Visibility is more than just a buzz word. It’s a much needed facet of modern leadership. It is necessary, not only for for credibility, but also to make the most of other leadership factors such as community and social capital. Radiance is a certain type of visibility where you are not only visible yourself, but you shine your light upon others at the same time.


L = Legacy

Leaders who use Scarlet Thinking are concerned with their legacy. This could be their contribution to their organisation, their community or the world. Their work has meaning. This has a huge positive impact on their well-being. Wrzesniewski, McCauley, Rozin and Schwartz (1997) found workers who saw their work in terms of “a calling” were likely to obtain higher scores on four measures (life, health, job satisfaction and health). They also self-reported significantly less sickness leave. Rosso, Dekas and Wrzesniewski (2010) suggest meaningful work is inversely correlated with absenteeism and stress. In another study (Allan, Douglass, Duffy, 2015), meaningful work is cited as a moderator for work stress.


Leaders who are carrying out work they find fulfilling are experiencing meaning in their own work and lives by 1) living and working by their own intrinsic values and exploring self-actualisation, 2) seeing their work as making a contribution to a greater good.


E = Ethical

Organisations are increasingly under the watchful eye of consumers, press and professional bodies. Research shows an ethical leader inspires loyalty,  commitment to social causes, and a sense of purpose and meaning in the workplace. Neves and Story (2015) found  “ethical leadership is positively related to employees’ affective commitment to the organisation”. Ethical leaders encourage their followers to feedback issues and problems, giving followers a voice (Brown et al, 2005). In turn their followers reciprocate with Organisational Citizenship Behaviour (OCB). “If one assumes that OCBs have an effect on organizational performance, it makes sense to identify those variables that increase these behaviors in organizational settings.” (Podsakoff, Whiting, Podsakoff, & Blume, 2009).


Choi, Ullah, & Kwak, (2015), found  “ethical leadership inspires followers to go beyond their self-interest and consider stakeholders’ social interests.”


Neves and Story (2015) point out “ethical leadership combined with high reputation for performance indicates that the supervisor not only fulfils his/her performance obligations at the workplace, but do so following a set of moral standards.” It’s easy to overlook the performance aspect in favour of the ethical connotations. An ethically minded leader has to be an effective leader or their influence may be negated.


This is why leadership training can be so powerful for an ethically orientated leader.


T =Tactical

Finally, Scarlet Thinkers are pragmatic and creative with what they have right here, right now. They respond to what’s going on in the word around them. These leaders are attuned to what might happen in both their industry and the world at large and are able to tweak strategies in light of unfolding events.


Work with Scarlet Thinking

Scarlet Thinking works with leaders, one to one or in small groups, in Verona, Italy. Our work uses the backdrop of the political machinations of a medieval Italian family for both inspiration and salutatory lessons. Click here to find out more about the Della Scala leadership Programme.

















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