Vantage Group


No, ‘masterful activity’ isn’t a term used to describe the art of watching football all day on Sunday. Although, thanks to NFL Red Zone, it could be. Actually, it’s a phrase that was used by Lord Melbourne, Queen Victoria’s favorite prime minister, to describe his thoughts on leadership. How about that?

But what does masterful activity mean, you ask? To get the full answer, please check out this article from the April, 2013 edition of The Economist ( entitled, “In Praise of Laziness”. The short answer is that leaders are so busy doing, they don’t spend enough time thinking about the big picture, the strategy and direction of the organization. And, after all, isn’t that what leaders, especially senior leaders, are paid the big bucks to do?

In our consulting travels at Vantage, virtually every senior leader / leadership team we work with find themselves in this dilemma. They spend too much time multi-tasking and too much time diving deep into the operations and details of the business. This always comes at the expense of thinking strategically. And it limits the attention given to talent development. Which, of course, is ironic because if you develop talent, you can delegate more. And if you can delegate more, you can spend more time thinking, a truly masterful inactivity.

For more on Vantage’s point of view on this subject, we invite you to read our July 26 blog post entitled “On Delegation and Talent Management, A Symbiotic Relationship”, by Michael Tobin.

Is Masterful Inactivity a leadership competency within your organization? We would love to hear your comments.

About Duncan Ferguson

Duncan Ferguson joined Vantage in 2013 as the Managing Director for Client Services. Duncan brings broad corporate human resources experience to Vantage and has developed an avid interest and contemporary perspective on the changing relationship between companies and their employees. To that end, Duncan has done extensive research on what it means to be a “Best Boss” and how this impacts organizational leadership, engagement, performance and retention.

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