I have had the privilege of working all over the world with people at all organisational levels, and from many socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds throughout my career as a business psychologist specialising in leadership and organisational development. The most valuable thing my 25 years' experience has taught me is that relationships and integrity used in coordinated collective action have a unique power to achieve the extraordinary.

My first full-time job as a psychologist was with a large international management consulting firm. One of the questions I was asked during the interview process was whether I had a current passport. As soon as I accepted the job offer, I was sent on my first assignment overseas. It was a seven-hour flight from Perth, where I lived at the time, to Auckland in New Zealand. Needless to say, it felt exciting and glamorous. But things changed dramatically after just nine months and disappointment set in. This wasn't a function of having to travel week after week across time zones. It was the actual work.

I realised I was being asked to do the opposite of what I believed in. The promises to clients of increased productivity, cost savings and enhanced profitability came mostly from slashing a significant percentage of their workforce, although it was debatable whether this was good for the company in the long run. The worst part of the job was that we said to the client before the project started that we didn't know where the savings ...

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