6 September 2021

Episode 007: Applying the Art of Diplomacy to Business
Why a better understanding of stakeholders is critical to success. 


Welcome to another episode of The Thinking Leader podcast, brought to you by Red Team Thinking. In this episode, Bryce Hoffman talks to former diplomat and executive Dr. David Landsman, OBE, about the lessons business leaders can learn from the world of diplomacy. 

David served as British Ambassador to Greece and Albania before transitioning to business, first as a senior executive with De La Rue plc, later as executive director of Tata Limited, the Indian conglomerate’s European subsidiary. He continues to share his knowledge and expertise as a strategic advisor, writer, and speaker on corporate strategy, (geo)politics, and reputation. David is the chairman of Cerebra Global Strategy and the British-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, director of Digital Cognate, advises for The India Business Group, and is a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge Judge Business School. 

“It’s a different territory, it’s a different way of thinking. And if you don’t try to get over that and understand on their terms, not your terms, you can’t use that information to do all the things you [need] to do.” – David Landsman

Top 10 Takeaways:


[04:15] The most important skill for diplomats is listening to other people and trying to understand their perspective. 

[06:18] Go and see things for yourself; don’t rely on subordinates to tell you what’s going on. 

[12:31] Cultivate “the diplomat’s mindset.” 

[18:37] Don’t just do something, sit there! 

[25:38] Everybody is motivated by something, so incentives matter. 

[27:51] How Tata made ethics a priority in business. 

[29:22] Using clear messaging to establish priorities. 

[31:35] How Alan Mulally used messaging and incentives to save Ford. 

[36:51] Sending the wrong signal is very easy. 

[38:18] Don’t automatically assume the other guy is mad or bad. 



Mentioned in this Episode:


Brought to you by Red Team Thinking 

Genchi Genbutsu or “go and see” 

Alan Mulally & Ford Motor Company 

Human Terrain System 

Four Ways of Seeing 

Gillian Tett 

Yes Minister (1980s British sitcom) 

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith



Find Out More


Cambridge Judge Business School 

Cerebra Global Strategy 

British-Serbian Chamber of Commerce 

The India Business Group 

Digital Cognate 

Tata Unlimited 

Connect with David on LinkedIn 

Follow David on Twitter 

Sign up for Bryce’s newsletter 

Connect with Bryce on Linkedin 

Follow Bryce on Twitter 


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