Mission Statement
Business Leadership & Strategic Performance Training/Enhancement
"Our objective is to assist individuals, companies and organizations reach optimal performance using innate skills and strengths within the larger framework of circumstance, workplace and community. Relevant and stimulating programs are customized to client requirement".
-Rodger Harding
Founder

Harding International and Associates Inc.
E-Mail
Telephone: +1 (416) 962 6700
9836 Keele Street
Vaughan, L6A 3Y4
Ontario, Canada
Client Comment
Selected Comments
"This seminar far exceeded expectation - Rodger is poised, articulate, respectful- He was dead on with his presentation and I would recommend him without hesitation." - S.M. Canadian Women in Communications (CWC)
"Your participation in our International/Asia Pacific FS Conference helped make it one of the best and more relaxed conferences we've ever had. Very effective facilitation! Thank you." - Paul Masse, Manager, Bombardier Aerospace
" I want to congratulate you on a job well done. A room full of lawyers is not the easiest audience to appear before, yet you ruled the room. You have that unique ability (gift?) to teach ideas without it being hard work. I found your personal style very relaxing yet challenging". - David Clarke, Chair, YLD Division, The Canadian Bar Association of Ontario
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Corporate Intelligence

CIA Harding International and Associates Inc.

Publication:
"In this compelling book by a former diplomat, you will learn the secrets (step by step) to developing an intelligence strategy by effective information gathering and analyzing, and then to delivering credible intelligence to senior management."|more...

Available from bookstores and online:
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Leadership Training
The Essence of Business Leadership Training -
Be the leader you are meant to be!

Toronto based Rodger Harding, applying leadership savvy learned from military, legal, diplomatic & business consulting experience has a proven record of enabling full leadership potential in scores of business folk. His clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, national not-for-profit organizations & learning institutions.

The Harding Leadership training program raises awareness, validates and empowers the true essence of leadership. We enhance your ability to identify, strengthen and take full advantage of core leadership competencies, instilling legitimate confidence rather than reinforcing a preoccupation with outward presence. | more...
Training/Coaching
Training Program Design and Development
All Harding International and Associates Inc. programs are designed to:
  • Access existing innate and learned competencies/experience.
  • Enhance individual/team ability to meet current organizational requirement.
  • Accommodate changing environment and circumstance.
Our customized programs are built from scratch and will accurately reflect the unique context of corporate operations and identity. Training products that utilize the Harding Model are limited to one company per industry. This commitment ensures that training initiatives will result in strategic and competitive advantage - We encourage clients to safeguard our techniques and methodology as part of their intellectual property.| more...

LATEST NEWS/COMMENT

Business Leadership: Is Compassion a relevant attribute?

by Administrator 05.Jan.2015 15:03:00

“Is compassion something the corporate world is interested in?” was the startling question that gave me pause during a recent consultation. The client, with an amazing academic/business pedigree and almost two decades of experience, subjectively felt that the workplace dismissed compassion as unimportant… especially in the leadership context.

We talked it over. My starting point for this sort of idea exchange is always to establish what the bottom line wish list is for any organization. We concluded that in many operational environments anything that interrupts the making of money/profit is often deemed a waste of time… and as we know Time is Money! While probably never overtly admitted, in transactional environments, compassion is indeed considered an attribute that potentially leads to tangential forays and loss of focus. Why go down that road if you don’t have to! What is in it for me?

Our conversation turned to successful organizations that did embrace compassion as an essential leadership/corporate culture ingredient. We concluded that compassion, or the desire/ability to empathize with others, resulted in a workplace that would easily:

  • Identify, accept and address problem issues… importantly human fallibility
  • Accept difference/dissent/debate as normal
  • Allow for timely intervention/fluid planning
  • Foresee and plan for unexpected or probable outcomes
  • Encourage flexible/exploratory mind sets to safely contribute ideas
  • Facilitate creative & effective hiring/professional development/succession planning
  • Evolve a business culture that sustains internal relationships/stakeholder well-being and loyalty
  • Build, in the real sense, a corporate brand and organizational reputation that deserves client/industry respect

A healthy dose of compassion will enable a Leader to:

  • Subjectively recognize who people are as individuals
  • Objectively accommodate their contribution

Simple enforcement of template driven policy and sterile job descriptions, in the context of bottom-line financial consideration is akin to running an engine without lubrication… And will surely result in long term disaster.

The Art of Business Deceit?

by Administrator 15.Oct.2014 13:26:00

I cannot count how often I hear the words appropriate and inappropriate!

If inappropriate is interpreted as anything that might offend others, I would hope to never be inappropriate. Yet my perception is that anything extreme, strongly worded, risqué, contentious, ambiguous etc. has come to be considered offensive.

Hopefully it is not too much of a quantum leap to infer then that appropriate and safe have become almost synonymous? Does this not fly in the face of nature?While we know that life cannot exist without death, day without night, good without evil, like without dislike …etc., is it realistic to persist with the illusion of a world painted solely in positive hues?

Semantics aside, I would suggest that the unthinking pursuit of appropriateness creates a breeding ground for arch deceit. The more we strive to appear appropriate, how much more likely will we hide what we really feel from others? What impact does only showing an appropriate face have on team, peer and client relationships? It is a given that most of us are reluctant to express disagreement upfront and are fearful of appearing uncertain, negative or judgemental. We sit at countless meetings with dead-pan faces that reveal nothing of what lies within… Or we smile and nod assent, or even gush with false enthusiasm, while we bide our time and find safe, backdoor avenues of expression. Usually invoking process, regulations or laws will provide effective cover. Do we live in a society that not only condones, but encourages snitching?

Similarly, feigning understanding at briefings, seminars, workshops etc. encounters etc. is commonplace. Oftentimes, to save face, we later pick apart process, communication style, competence and personality as defective or unsuitable. Those who disguise unpleasant messages seem to be considered diplomatic and tactful. Those that do not are considered ‘blunt’ and/or ‘confrontational’! Those who openly disagree are all too often labelled ‘negative’. Our language is couched in terms that do little to convey what we really mean.

My point is perhaps well illustrated by a mediation I conducted last week. In what could have been an easily avoidable scenario, a manager, finally providing a long overdue performance review, included particularly vicious comments from an immediate supervisor. It turned out that the employee and said supervisor had car-pooled in a jovial and friendly atmosphere every day for several years. Not once was any reference made to any dissatisfaction. What floored me was that when questioned, everyone from the director down, excepting of course the employee, who felt totally betrayed, let me know that to have made any comment outside the review process would have been “highly inappropriate”!

While trust is a commonly used business term, perhaps we have lost the real essence of the word. If we deem it improper to honestly express ourselves, how will we ever be trusted? How will we be able to trust people if we have not encouraged them to reveal who they really are and what they feel at any point in time? Consider the costly havoc this phenomenon wreaks with corporate efficiency. Yet, we continue to encourage and train job candidates to present what is appropriate…not what is real!

The following is a simple checklist to guide decision-making when next tempted to paper-over the right to express ourselves openly and sincerely:

  • Would I prefer an honest response if I was in the other person’s shoes?
  • What response would enable me to get my job done effectively?
  • If I am not upfront here…what opportunity will I have lost?
  • If I don’t speak now, am I prepared to let the matter rest?
  • Would my lack of sincerity cost the company money?
  • Will I lose trust if I am less than honest?
  • Do I want people to know/like me for who I am?
  • I am human and therefore imperfect – Surely it is OK to show that I have not understood, disagree, etc. …
  • Have I been invited to express myself honestly…Why do I not take advantage of this offer?
  • Will my self-esteem be enhanced if I am able to say what I really honestly believe?
  • If I keep quiet now… will I habitually resort to insincere/safer ways of expressing myself?

While appropriate people are generally more comfortable to have around in the short term, our awareness that insincerity, when uncovered, destroys trust should goad us into encouraging open and upfront interaction - The ensuing trusted relationships will be worth the initial discomfort!

Does Your Label Fit?

by Administrator 16.Sep.2014 12:32:00

Humans undoubtedly want to understand one another in easily explainable and relatively certain terms. Yet so many of us seem barely able to articulate who we are and what we really want – preferring instead to fall back on assigned labels and behavioural etiquettes!

Fueled by technological advance, the popularity of psychoanalysis, and influenced by ubiquitous political correctness, today’s business world seems to be more heavily invested than ever in processes that label, tag and categorize everyone in sight. Certain! Safe! Detached!

Think how often we are asked, as an essential first step in determining suitability for a job, academic, social or volunteer opportunity, to interact with a program that definitively tells us we are a J … an X, a Yellow, a Blue …. or perhaps a giraffe, a tiger or an elephant?  Similarly, the business world seems to echo the psycho-babble tendency of the social realm. We hear constantly of empowerers, enablers, rescuers etc. Fast thinkers are immediately shelved as ADHD, and folks with any apparent lack of focus are, for sure, ADD! How complicit are we in this facile labelling of ourselves and others? How readily do we accept these results? Are we indelibly and eternally categorized? 

I suppose it is obligatory to state upfront that I am not knocking the popularity/efficiency of psycho-analysis, nor am I a Luddite hell-bent on discrediting the use of profiling tools. I am however questioning the accuracy and the efficiency of assigning a permanent label to any individual. I ask myself:

  • Are people, their moods, behaviour and thinking processes constant? Surely we change… day to day, year to year… depending on changing circumstance?
    What, and to whom, does any given label mean?
  • Are we abandoning our thinking/instinctive ability?
  • Surely technology and computed knowledge are limited to known variables and also susceptible to human error? (The garbage in garbage out cliché has some traction here…)

Is above average excellence, original expression & creative thinking a la Galileo, Da Vinci, van Gogh, Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence and Polanski easily labelled and tagged? Will much needed innovation be stifled if analyzed thinking does not fall into recognizable classification systems? 

The human factor, inter alia, instinct, gut-feeling and random perception, is a critical attribute in guaranteeing team efficiency. Think how often in medical or automotive scenarios, despite evident problems, we are told we are fine and sent home because the battery of diagnostic tests came back negative! Think how grateful we are in such context for the Dr. House types and their ilk who, in the face of stiff opposition brought about by persistent and maddening questioning, make a wonderful contribution to keeping the ball rolling and identifying workable solutions. Do labelling processes weed these folk out at the outset? Are they brilliant or are they out to lunch? Are they trail-blazers or negative time-wasters?

Recognizing others and their behaviour is time sensitive – It is perhaps prudent consciously monitor people, at any given time, as they are … rather than as they should/are expected to be…! 

Leadership: Encouraging others to be themselves!

by Administrator 26.Mar.2012 18:30:00

Has a customer service mind-set permeated our everyday thinking?  

Presentations, speeches & interaction in political arenas, corporate meetings, job interviews, dating situations etc., seem to find us desperately trying to work out and deliver what others want to hear. It oftentimes appears almost sacrilegious to say what we really feel, let alone reveal who we really are!

The Harding Leadership Model focuses on understanding, accepting and optimizing who clients are in terms of innate/learned competencies and experience. Similarly our approach, rather than pretending to ignore difference, such as gender, race & ethnicity, considers them important assets… That provide a distinct individual value-add to the workplace. Is this not especially true if we are serious about participating in the global economy?

Peter Bregman’s refreshing article in Harvard Business Review lends credence to this point of view!

http://blogs.hbr.org/bregman/2012/03/how-to-attend-a-conference-as.html#.T3CKqCxIj1g.email  

Leadership, Passion...Mentorship!

by Administrator 27.Sep.2011 19:52:00

As a Canadian Opera Company super (extra) I am privileged during rehearsals to see Maestro Johannes Debus continually exhorting principals and chorus members to think about the meaning of the words they are singing – “the meaning brings the music to life…!” Technical music/vocal excellence is enhanced by expressing the underlying passion/drama of any particular libretto. 

So too in the business world, and any other walk of life, true passion can only really live itself out via the understanding, acceptance & embrace of the significance of our pursuits! Good leadership will recognize, access & accommodate individual/team passion in the pursuit of exceptional deliverables. Is the very concept of mentorship not based on this premise? 

If interested, listen to Maria Callas coaching Juilliard students:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNHPMGQkeGk  

Leadership - Preventing the Erosion of Common Civility/Good Manners

by Administrator 27.Aug.2011 09:47:00

Somehow, despite the plethora of client relationship management technology/training in most operational areas, is common civility disappearing?

Generally, it seems an increasingly accepted fact that we are not required to respond to calls, messages, inquiries etc. unless we have a direct/immediate agenda item … ?

“I am busy” “My calendar is full” “I have too many calls to manage” might all be valid for any of us at some point in time…. But can we expect others to consistently respond/perform when we have not afforded basic acknowledgement of who they are… their time… their agendas… their priorities…?

Similarly whatever happened to please and thank you? How long does it take to type thank you… and hit Send? Again: “Too busy”… but not too busy it seems to ask for something?

I am told I am decidedly uncool to worry about this sort of thing … As an acquaintance, index fingers energetically raised, said this week:  “We are moving to a place where please and thank you will no longer be necessary … It will be understood!”

Maybe I should offer a Mind-Reading program?

Effective leaders set the tone as to organizational values... Giving true meaning to sustainable relationship building?  

Business Leadership & Positive Negativity

by Administrator 10.Jul.2011 19:50:00

Effective Business Leadership recognizes real and perceived negativity in the operational as well as all stakeholder environments.  This ability embraces the coexistence of opposites, notably certainty & uncertainty, structure & chaos. In the same vein, good leadership will recognize, accommodate and optimise individual/team strengths and manage human weakness/imperfection. Such an approach builds a climate of team confidence & trust.

Without failure there cannot be success; Agreement without disagreement! In recent decades though, a corporate leadership culture where all negativity is ignored/dismissed if and when it arises, seems to be increasingly commonplace. It is almost as if the school of positive thinking pundits have banished the possibility of all things negative, denying an inescapable human emotional wellspring.

Oftentimes those who disagree or ask too many questions are oftentimes seen as a “negative team influence”. I hear all too often the comment that these folk are “slowing the team down”! Would it not be an unfortunate turn of events if such inflexible management, preferring sycophantic passivity, cowed thinking/dedicated individuals into silence? Surely the consideration of opposing points of view provides opportunities for change, enhancement and innovation? A corporate spirit of efficent exploration will surely lead to a strong competive edge!

Mishaps, problems, glitches & failure are part of life. Is it prudent to hold the view that these phenomenon should not happen? Why is it that anything short of 100% approval is often enough to prompt real anxiety and the desire for retribution? Is it possible to lead via set templates and the rule book? Similarly, why are individuals who ask for help so often considered "incapable"? Have our levels of expectation/entitlement risen to absolute levels? What happened to the age old adage: To err is human?  

I recently came across an interesting talk by Alain de Botton that extols the virtue of pessimism - - An interesting societal exploration of the ongoing individual search for happiness and success – Perhaps a good investment of listening time:  

http://vimeo.com/10601416

For many years I have drawn comfort from Leonard Cohen’s Anthem:

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ma5tF6TJpA


For all inquiries about Business Leadership Training/Coaching: (416) 962-6700  

Mentorship: Natalie Portman pays homage to Darren Aronofsky

by Administrator 17.Jan.2011 17:51:00

Natalie Portman paid meaningful homage to brilliant director Darren Aronofsky, after receiving her Golden Globe award (Best Actress for her performance in The Black Swan): 

 "Every time we finished our takes, you would say, 'Now do this one for yourself,' and that gave me such beautiful inspiration as an actor to not just be amused, that I could create on my own as well.” 

This anecdote beautifully illustrates the role of a good mentor – Allowing or facilitating conditions for, the best in someone to shine through…! 

So too in business, a good leader, in striving to access maximum individual/team input, will create fertile ground for the seeds of creativity and innovation to flourish...

Year-End Message from Rodger Harding

by Administrator 02.Dec.2010 12:55:00

Dear Clients & Friends, 

In this 14th year of operation, our programs continue to evolve in direct response to client requirement. With increasing budget restraints and an uncertain economic outlook, ongoing client request to enhance the leadership function of managers in diverse organizations has resulted in the fine-tuning of our Managemnet Training Program: 

Encouraging Managers to Lead!

 This Leadership Awareness program places high value on the critical role of managers to contribute to the ongoing evolution of team competency investment and best business practice.The emphasis on the distinction between management and leadership serves to enhance core leadership competencies, resulting in proactive, yet accountable input and decision making, team motivation and cost-effective project-management. Flexible thinking is encouraged to ensure efficient problem solving and the optimal use of available talent and resources. The finding out of what the team doesn’t know it knows segment has been particularly successful. 

 ♦

As a direct offshoot of my extensive volunteer work over the past 15 years with Canadian students aged 16-22, I have been asked by many concerned parents to work with younger people who, despite high intelligence and a good academic background, seemingly lack focus and are uncertain as to a firm career direction. The clear, but unconscious, leadership potential of these students has prompted the formal design of a program focused on identifying, validating and empowering realistic leadership in young people. 

Leadership for Students

The program explores and makes conscious existing, but untapped individual leadership expertise. Practical techniques enable the understanding and full investment of core competencies, personality & experience. Strong attention is given to measuring individual impact and preparedness to consider what is involved in living out personal dreams. The program is particularly directed at youth who have the irrepressible notion that there must be something more!  

♦ 

Please contact me should you require further information on either of the two programs. 

Once again I would like to express my ongoing appreciation for your personal and professional contribution to my success and sense of fulfillment throughout 2010. My very best wishes for the Holidays and a happy, safe & prosperous 2011!  I look forward to renewed contact in the New Year. 

Warmest regards,

Rodger

Women & the Psychology of Leadership

by Administrator 31.Aug.2009 06:07:00

Rodger Harding is proud to have been invited by Adriaans & Associates to present a full day workshop that will explore and demystify the role of Women in Leadership

 

Date: Friday November 20, 2009.

Sheraton Centre Toronto,

123 Queen Street West, Toronto

 

·          Full day leadership workshop 8:00am-4:30pm (lunch served)

·          Cocktail networking session 5:00–7:00 pm

·          Draw— 2 tickets to South Africa sponsored by South African Airways

 

Rodger Harding’s empowering insights reflect an exciting life lived on three continents. His experiences have fuelled a firm conviction that individuals are totally unique and deserve to be accommodated for who they are rather than who they are expected to be. His particular passion for recognizing, accessing and enabling deserving Canadian women, is clearly demonstrated through his long standing professional development engagement with the nation-wide Canadian Women in Communications (CWC) Professional Development & Mentorship Program.

Rodger is a gifted storyteller – His riveting presentations are uniquely interesting, entertaining, and memorable!

 

"Do not follow where the path may lead.

Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." -Muriel Strode



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