The Ceannas Index

The Ceannas Index – ceannas being the ancient Gaelic word for leadership – is a leadership diagnostic and planning tool.

The Ceannas Index is grounded in twenty years of leadership research and senior leadership experience. The Index uses a series of carefully constructed lenses on leadership that apply the power of metaphor to capture very complex concepts in a manner that is jargon free and immediately understandable.

The metaphors which cover the entire range of leadership characteristics are: the sculptor; the scientist; the builder, the gardener; the parent, the conductor; and, the villager.  Each of us will have elements of all of the above in our day-to-day behaviour and we will feel more comfortable in some of these modes than in others.  The metaphors that have been selected reflect a particular view of leadership, and one, which is focused upon enabling and supporting innovation and improvement.

The Index embraces an optimistic and appreciative view of people, as opposed to a deficit view that focuses on people’s weaknesses and deficiencies. It recognises that we are all different and that we bring our own strengths to any given situation that can complement the strengths of others.

The Ceannas Index is not to be confused with personality or psychometric tests. Instead, the Index is founded upon a belief that our leadership decision-making behaviour is less to do with our personality, and more to do with the default positions that we have unconsciously and automatically learned to adopt when faced with challenges.

By allowing the leader to consciously view such challenges from different perspectives, it frees them from their intuitive and automatic response to a situation. Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Laureate in economics, described this as the difference between thinking “fast” and “slow”, where “slow” thinking is conscious, rational and rule-based. By applying a “leadership decision framework”, the leader can begin to develop a more rational approach to leadership problems, while providing them with the building blocks with which to identify and implement powerful solutions.

The Index has two interconnected applications. The first application is as a leadership diagnostic questionnaire for individuals, teams and organisations. The questionnaire enables identification of the default leadership positions and provides a very detailed summary that has been found to be of real benefit to leaders and teams that work under pressure. Another difference between the Index and personality tests is that participants can repeat the questionnaire a number of times over months or years to discover if they have been able to consciously shift some of their own leadership behaviours.

The second application for the index is as a decision-making and planning tool.  All too often we set about tackling a problem in the same way that we have tackled similar problems in the past. The difficulty with such a approach is that our strategy is usually focused upon the creation and delivery of a ‘plan’ which has not taken account of our leadership behaviours.  By stopping and considering the problem through the lenses of the Ceannas Index we can begin to create strategies which are truly innovative and which are much more likely to succeed and generate economic, public or social value.

As part of on-going research and development 50 free leadership diagnostic licences are available for personal use – contact me at if you would like to take part.