Ceannas - (pronounced keyannas) - the ancient scottish Gaelic word for leadership


To be globally recognised as a high impact, distinctive and trusted partner in the field of leadership development.

To release hidden value in businesses by identifying and enabling positive changes to leadership behaviour.

To consistently do the ‘right’ thing – where ’right’ is ethical, authentic, sincere and understated. 


The Ceannas logo is based upon the Golden Spiral, which often appears in nature where the spiral grows at an exponential rate without losing its shape. 


Small, observable and achieveable changes in leadership behaviour can have an exponential impact upon a leader’s effectiveness. Ceannas allows the leader to focus on changes to their behaviour that will have the greatest value.


Every company is different and what works with one company won’t always transfer to another. The Ceannas leadership design process takes those differences into account and generates a unique approach for each client .


Leadership behaviour must align with the company’s values or it cannot be consistent or effective. Ceannas help to make a company’s leadership culture explicit and enables leaders to align their behaviour with that culture.



The Ceannas Leadership Index has been developed over a twenty year period and uses a series of seven carefully constructed and interconnected lenses that apply the power of metaphor to capture very complex concepts in a manner that is jargon free and immmediately understandable. There is no ’perfect’ profile and no lens is any more important than any other. The Ceannas Leadership Index was described by one chief executive as being the equivalent of a leadership MRI scan.



The Ceannas Leadership Index® is designed to identify, develop and accumulate those marginal gains that are the key differentiators between outstanding and exceptional leadership. Most of us will have experienced leadership diagnostics that provide us with interesting information about who we are. In that sense they hold a mirror up for us to see ourselves more clearly, but often leave us with the question –“so what?”. The Ceannas Index goes much deeper by focusing in on those aspects of leadership behaviour which might just prove to be the key elements in a marginal leadership gain strategy, and which add real value to a leader’s performance and their impact upon their organization.


A Ceannas Gathering offers an opportunity for a group of leaders to come together to develop their individual and collective effectiveness. A Gathering can take place over anything ranging from 1 – 3 days depending on the requirements of the client. A Ceannas Gathering is not a ’team bonding’ or ’team building’ event but a carefully designed process to maximise the effectiveness of a team to deliver results that align with the organisation’s objectives. Our Ceannas Gatherings make significant use of our team development methodology known as “Effectiveness to the Power of Team®”.


We have developed a streamlined and highly effective methodology for helping leader’s to generate an integrated suite of vision, mission and values for their company. The methodology is based around the following key questions.1.What is your desired end state? 2.What are you going to do to get there 3.What are the key behaviours that will demonstrate your company’s  values? If a company already has well defined and settled vision, mission and values we will use these as the foundation of our work with the company.


Ceannas Leadership Coaching has evolved over a thirty-year period, whereby elements of education, mentoring, and high performance coaching are interwoven with a singular focus on how the leader can add greater value to their organisation.

 A programme is composed of a series of whole-day, immersive, one-to-one sessions, typically on a bi-monthly basis. All Ceannas Coaching sessions take place in relaxed rural home environments away from work and corporate settings.

These highly focused sessions are supported by comprehensive analysis of the leader’s assets; targeted feedback from colleagues using the Ceannas Index®  Sonar® and Radar® tools; the identification of small, high-leverage opportunities for behavioural change; personalised leadership research undertaken on behalf of the leader; on-going access via telephone and online; and sustained contact and engagement beyond the formal contract period.


The Ceannas Leadership Sonar® has been developed as an alternative to the blanket and uniform approach of 360 appraisals.The Ceannas Leadership Sonar mirrors that process by enabling a leader to check that they are where they think they are; identify areas of risk and potential blind spots; and provide an insight into where productive opportunities for change in their leadership behaviour might lie. Its most distinguishing factor is that it allows the leader to map their position against their own organisation’s vision, values and leadership charter. 


The Ceannas Leadership Radar® provides a leader with feedback from their peers regarding their effectiveness as a team member. The Leadership Radar shifts the focus from leadership behaviour to how the individual enhances the effectiveness of their senior leadership colleagues; their contribution of their team; and, enances the overall synergy within the team and with other teams in the organisation. Where all members of the team undertake the process we can create a measure of effectiveness of the entire team and generate their Ceannas Leadership Team Index for comparison against benchmark performance.

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Geoff Aitkenhead is a Director with Ceannas and has a long track record of successful leadership in industry. From 2002 to 2016 he was a member of the Group Board and Executive Leadership Team of Scottish Water, playing a significant leadership role in the remarkable transformation of the water industry in Scotland. During the 2002-16 period Geoff oversaw the successful delivery of c£8 billion of capital projects, accounting for a third of all civil engineering in Scotland. Geoff chaired the Boards of two plc companies established as special purpose vehicles for the delivery of capital investment programmes.

These companies involved a variety of utility, engineering and construction companies as shareholders and delivery partners. He is currently Chairman of Scottish Water International and former Chairman of WaterAid (Scotland), an organisation dedicated to the provision of clean water and sanitation in the developing world. Geoff is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a member of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management, and a graduate of Newcastle University. He is the father of three daughters and likes nothing more than walking in his beloved Cumbrian hills.



Mary Horsburgh is Business Manager at Ceannas Ltd.  Mary has a long career in administration, having worked in both the public and private sector for many years, with a proven background in delivering a high standard of administrative and personal support to senior executives.  She has been fortunate to work with individuals with true leadership values and this has greatly influenced her thinking.       

Mary embarked upon an Executive MBA later in life, juggling a high pressure working life and personal responsibilities, and this has enabled her to further develop her passion for leadership, motivation and organisational development while at the same time honing her business and management skills to a deeper level. 



Sonya Hotson is the Managing Director of Ceannas. Before joining Ceannas she was Head of Strategy and Planning with Standard Life, the FTSE 100 company with an annual revenue of £1.43 billion. Over her twenty year multinational career with leading blue chip companies in financial services and technology sectors, she has exemplified a passion for leading through core values. Sonya is a Chartered Management Accountant and member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Throughout her career she has held a variety of finance and strategy positions with Hewlett Packard, Agilent Technologies and then Standard Life.

Sonya’s senior posts were focused and accountable for the commercial performance of the organisation. She has worked across continents, including a significant period in California’s Silicon Valley with Hewlett-Packard where she was immersed in the ‘HP way, the management culture which has contributed to the success of Apple and Google. Her positivity quickly engages all in the opportunity to make significant personal and organisational impact through strong leadership values. She is Chief Executive of the Scottish Leadership Trust, and member of the Children In Scotland Fund raising panel.



Don Ledingham is the chief executive of Ceannas. He is an honorary professor of leadership at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. He fulfilled his childhood ambition when he became a teacher, which culminated in him becoming headteacher of Dunbar Grammar School (judged to be one of the ten most improved schools in Scotland during his headship). He then progressed through a range of senior executive leadership positions in public service before eventually leaving to progress his passions for creativity, teaching and leadership development, as Director of Innovation Leadership with Drummond International.

Don Ledingham’s long-term research has focused upon the leadership behaviours and cultures associated with high performing organizations. Emerging from this work he developed ‘The Ceannas Leadership Index®’ which proved to be the foundation for the establishment of Ceannas Ltd. He is the author of ’A Small Step to Wise Leadership’ (2017) and a non-executive director and depute chair of the Scottish Book Trust. His tries to live up to the wise words of T.S Elliot, “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” 

A Small Step to Wise Leadership

A Small Step to Wise Leadership is exclusively reserved for Ceannas clients. The book has been deliberately structured to mirror the Ceannas approach and provides a means for any leader, or aspiring leader, to reflect upon their behaviour, and identify a small step that will set them on the way to leaving a powerful and sustained legacy as a ‘wise leader’.

The book distinguishes between leadership skills, which are the observable behaviours that leaders perform on a daily basis; and wisdom, which is the framework leaders use to decide which skills to use and why, when and how to use them, i.e. Leadership is a way of behaving; Wisdom is a way of thinking.


We build our business through conversations with chief executives. Our client list is deliberately restricted and exclusive thereby allowing us to dedicate our service to maximise value. If you hold a senior position in your organisation and you think that we might be a suitable partner for your business then please contact our chief executive Don Ledingham at donledingham@ceannas.com