Tom McCallum



The rate of change impacting organisations and leaders in our world is increasing exponentially, with huge potential and opportunity for each of us, our businesses, and the future of our world.

After many years working internationally from the Cayman Islands, I moved to London in 2017 and quickly saw the potential in the Academy for Chief Executives for brave leaders seeking transformative change.

As part of the City of London community for the Academy, in 2018 I will launch a new group of like-minded business leaders who wish to accelerate growth for themselves, their businesses and their fellow group members, leveraging the power of peer to peer experiential learning and support.

I’m passionate about seeing potential in others and supporting them in creating the environment to realise it.

I work primarily with leaders of fast growth businesses who are open to support to accelerate realising their brave and transformative visions. Put another way, I choose to work with Ferraris, as described in this article.

If you are a Ferrari and wish to be around, to learn from and to support other high performing leaders, I’d love to talk to you about joining our community.


07583 584325


Do you need a critical friend?

Why do so many of us find it hard to ask for help? Could it be that as we grow up self-sufficiency and independence seem to be what we aspire to as part of being grown up? If so, is this a blind spot that keeps us from unlocking our full potential? As leaders in a business environment, perhaps less omnicompetent and omniscient than we would like to be or admit to, what do we need to enable us to be the best we can be and make good decisions?

  • Advice that is informed, objective/neutral, in our best interests.
  • Encouragement for the risky decisions and to get us through hard times.
  • Challenge for when we think we’ve got everything sorted and we’re setting off down the wrong road!
There are also some crucial moments when we might recognise this need. Many of the CEOs I work with fall into three camps:
  • The new CEO who suddenly realises what a lonely business it is being a CEO and doesn’t know who to talk to as everyone in the company has a vested interest in the outcome of any decision. Come to that, lots of CEOs are lonely.
  • A successful entrepreneur who has grown their business successfully wakes up one day, looks around at the 50 – 60 people in the company and wonders what on earth to do next.
  • An experienced CEO who has also been successful but has been doing the same things for a while, got a bit jaded and needs some new ideas and inspiration. As one said the other day, “I hadn’t realised I’d been running on empty for so long.”
There’s an answer to all of this – the critical friend. Critical in this context definitely doesn’t mean judgmental, but important, challenging, honest, someone who can get you to reflect and interacts as a peer. These friends can come in many guises: we may have real friends who can act as critical friends when we need them to, but all too often our ‘best mates’ are very good at colluding with us and telling us what we want to hear. Critical friends can offer us the kind of advice we need – objective and in our best interests. However, what is often of most value in this process is the time given to reflection, honest questioning without a hidden agenda, taking the time to really understand the situation from our point of view, offering a different perspective. In the Academy for Chief Executives group I run, this is exactly what happens. Time is set aside for a type of facilitated consultancy process involving listening and questioning in order to really understand. The discussion takes place in a completely confidential environment where group members really trust each other and therefore are very open. There is recognition that personal and business issues bisect and impact each other. Advice, when it is given, is offered in such a way that leaves the issue holder with space and time to decide what they want to act on. However, they are also likely to be questioned at the next meeting about what they actually did next! In short, this is not just one critical friend, but a number. As the definition goes: A critical friend is someone who is encouraging and supportive, but who also provides honest and often candid feedback that may be uncomfortable or difficult to hear. In short, a critical friend is someone who agrees to speak truthfully, but constructively, about weaknesses, problems, and emotionally charged issues. Do you have one? If not – why not? Time to do something about it?
Hilary Rowland co-Chairs an Academy for Chief Executives group in the City of London. The Academy for Chief Executives works with CEOs and Managing Directors of small to medium sized businesses with the aim of helping them unlock their potential and that of their businesses.   Twitter:
@CEOLondonCity LinkedIn: Subscribe to our newsletter The Next Level

Ten minutes with Kriss Akabusi

It’s not difficult to pinpoint the reason people warm to Kriss Akabusi; his familiar laugh, energy, enthusiasm and openness come at you in waves when you’re talking to him. It’s over 25 years since he won Gold in the 400m hurdles, at the European Championships in 1990. Since then, the athlete has gone on to study for an MBA, become a sought after Keynote Speaker and Training Facilitator, working with business leaders across the country.

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Leadership - a new approach to nature-nurture

How we lead needs to radically change in a world that is itself constantly changing. The world is changing, often unexpectedly or unpredictably. So is business. And therefore not surprisingly so is leadership. Or is it? It certainly should be. Shouldn’t leadership be leading, ahead of the game? Visionary. But recently history and precedent suggests when leadership changes it’s only as a result of changes already happening – it lags behind. Largely that’s because nowadays we assume leadership must be learned. Unfortunately, in the rapidly-changing environment our current methodologies ensure that learning is obsolete long before it leaves the notebook of the lecturer never mind before it passes from student notebook into leader practice. (Someone once defined a lecture as means of transferring information from the notebook of the teacher to the notebook of the student without passing through the brain of either.) Even online learning has a shelf-life shorter than the average supermarket pasty. Hence it’s always playing catch-up. Complexity means it’s impossible for any one person to have all the pieces of the puzzle let alone find the best solution. We need a radical re-think about what we learn and how we learn it. Nick Petrie (2014)* has recently called it a change of epoch. But from my experience just as importantly we need a paradigm shift in understanding the new skills now needed to exercise it. The core issue is that currently, leadership models are reactive: they take what has already happened and then extract trends, characteristics or lessons – which are then translated into skills - which can then be transmitted to others - who can then learn them - and finally apply them. It’s a long-winded process. Sadly, the modern world, like time and tide, waits for no-one. The pace of change grows ever swifter. By the time we’ve observed, examined, understood, modelled and delivered – it’s obsolete. It seems to me the epoch-change that Petrie observes requires leaders to shift beyond the former head-based knowledge and skills to intuiting, to imbibing the culture of their business and then intentionally harnessing it into stories for a new style of leadership. Emotional Intelligence has provided some great insights into why others behave the way they do and how we as leaders can mould our own responses and those of others into more effective behaviours and hence more effective leadership. But again, this is both reactive and hierarchical. Some call this spiritual intelligence (SQ) since it draws on our sense of interconnectedness, belonging, wisdom, peace and giving back. That’s our only hope of leading from what is emerging and changing in front of our eyes in the timescale available to us. We need leaders with the ability to react instinctively (not arbitrarily). And that demands even greater skills than those learned in business schools and online because it requires them to know themselves, to be able to lead by building on mindful reflection rather than emotive reaction and to draw the strands into a compelling story that not only explains but also inspires themselves and those around them, at whatever ‘level’ they are in the business. Failure to recognise this epoch shift goes a long way to explaining why many highly qualified and experienced leaders move to a new position on the crest of a wave of success and then crash in a heap on the shores of disaster. The past assumptions no longer work. The most successful recognised leaders - whether of business or countries or sports teams - have always been able to reflect and reactive creatively, in the moment. They sense not just the culture of a business, a country, a sport; they tune into its beating heart, its soul or its spirit, and then articulate it in stories that others recognise, aspire to and sign up for. They immerse themselves in it, are transformed by it and at the same time transform it. And this enables others to respond not only more quickly but also more effectively to what emerges around them. This is the competitive advantage. This new leadership is no longer based (solely or fundamentally) on skills but on values. Yes, I know, it’s a horrible word hugely devalued over countless away-days and toe-curling keynotes. But don’t let poor execution blind you to the nugget of gold contained therein. This is never an excuse for missing the steps of preparation; it’s the bravery to step out in the moment and act instinctively rather than react solely based on what we’ve been taught. When we know in our heart-of-hearts that it’s right, when it’s for something we truly believe in, we’ll walk on coals of fire. As leaders, we need that spirit more often. What do you think?   Peter Hyson co-Chairs an Academy for Chief Executives group in the City of London. He is the author of two books, Live the work you love published by The Write Factor in 2016, and Coaching with Meaning & Spirituality published by Routledge in 2013. He explores spirited leadership in The Spirited Leader - the potential of spiritual intelligence to improve leadership, published in The International Journal of Leadership in Public Services ( He works with entrepreneurs and leaders of SMEs. Twitter: @spirited_leader LinkedIn:  Subscribe to our newsletter The Next Level *Nick Petrie: Future Trends in Leadership Development – White Paper from The Center for Creative Leadership (2014) & accessed Jan 2017:

The Future CEO - Raconteur report

With the current geopolitical uncertainty and ongoing digital disruption, the role of the CEO is inevitably changing. This report explores the development of the role, and the requisite skills and qualities for an effcient future CEO.

More White Papers

Upcoming events

Why most websites are not working and what you can do about it (31 January 2017)

The Academy's South Herts & Essex Group offers CEOs and MDs support and professional development to improve their lives and improve their businesses. The Group Chairman, Chris Dinwoodie, would like to invite you to join him at the De Vere Theobalds Estate, Lieutenant Ellis Way, Cheshunt, Goff's Oak, Waltham Cross EN7 5HW from 8.30 am - 1.30 pm. At this meeting you find out how the Academy works and have the opportunity to find out how meeting other CEOs and MDs with different experience can help you grow your business.  In effect you will get a taste of what life is like being an Academy member all distilled into a morning session. Graham Jones, Psychologist and Internet Consultant, will be presenting “Why most websites are not working and what you can do about it”. Graham has helped business of all kinds increase their revenue, particularly by helping them improve their communications with customers. Most corporate websites score hits, but no real connection to customers or potential purchasers. In this talk, Graham explains why that happens and how you can convert your company’s web presence into something that will truly connect with Internet users. You will leave with some insight and ideas that you can apply immediately upon your return to your organisation.

Please note that this event is strictly by invitation only, there is no cost and there is no obligation on your part to join the Academy afterwards. We do, however, expect that you will leave the event with at least one idea that you can immediately use to improve your business performance.

Watertight Marketing - Bryony Thomas (1 February 2017)

There's a unique opportunity to experience Academy membership at the Bloomsbury Street Hotel in London on Wednesday February 1st, with renowned author and speaker Bryony Thomas's workshop "Watertight Marketing" with other successful leaders who are members. Glenn Watkins, Group Chairman of groups based in West Central London, Harrow & Watford would like to invite you to organise an initial 15 minute telephone call with him to explore more, with a view to you attending (at no cost) if there's a potential fit both ways. Please contact Glenn's PA, Lizzie, (see booking information for more details) to arrange a convenient date and time to talk. More about the meeting: Bryony Thomas's interactive session Watertight Marketing will enable you tweak your leaks to double your profit! A brilliantly practical session in which you are guided to audit your business against the "Thirteen Touch Point" leaks, leaving you with a priority action plan to improve the performance of your sales pipeline. The Academy for Chief Executives helps business leaders to grow their organisation by giving them expertise and insight into running a world class business. There is no cost to attend the meeting - which is designed to give you a flavour of what membership provides - you will leave the meeting with ideas you can use immediately to improve your business performance.

Meet our South Herts & Essex group at Hertfordshire Business Expo (6 February 2017)

For the first time, the Academy are exhibiting at the biggest business event in Hertfordshire. The Hertfordshire Business Expo will see the launch of Academy Group 55 covering the South Herts and Essex areas- where group Chair Chris Dinwoodie will be meeting with attendees, exhibitors, speakers and local business associations. There will be over 50 organizations represented at the show, which is hosted in association with The Hertfordshire Business Independent Magazine. Speakers include:

  • Have Better Conversations and Stop Wasting Time (Paul Jackson & Janine Waldman
  • Dare to be Different (Steve Clarke)
  • Making Tax Digital, Cloud Accounting & Cyber Security (MHA McIntyre Hudson)