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


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

To enable leaders to create places where ‘work doesn’t feel like work’ in order to fully release the capabilities of every employee.

To consistently do the ‘right’ thing, at the ‘right’ time, for the ‘right’ reasons.


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. 


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.


The Ceannas Leadership Index can be successfully applied to the field of leadership team development. We’re not talking here of ’team bonding’ or ’team building’ events but a carefully designed process to maximise the effectiveness of a team to deliver results that align with the organisation’s objectives. Team synergy is the phenomenon where the combined effect of team members is greater than the sum of the members’ individual effects.  Through the Ceannas philosophy of “Effectiveness to the Power of Team®” we release the synergy of the team to the extent that that it enables each member to achieve far more as part of the team than they could ever achieve individually. 


Over a twenty year period the Index has been designed and refined to help senior leaders work out the smallest behavioural changes that will give the greatest return. It focuses in on practical, observable and achievable changes in leadership behaviour – that align with a leader’s day-to-day practice. The Index does not rely upon complicated algorithms or computer generated feedback. Instead it depends upon external interpretation of a individual’s preferences by a fellow highly experienced leader who can pinpoint those areas from a person’s Ceannas profile that might yield the greatest returns.



Impact of enhancing executive leadership on productivity


Impact of enhancing executive leadership on customer satisfaction


Impact of enhancing executive leadership on voluntary staff turnover

What’s your Ceannas Leadership Profile?


The Ceannas Leadership Index 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. 

Where are you on the line between being a Scientist or a Gardener?

How do your Parent characteristics combine with your Conductor’s

Are you a Builder or a Sculptor - or a bit of both?

Are you a Villager?

Or do you prefer to do your own thing?

The Ceannas Leadership Index in action


The Ceannas Leadership Index diagnostic requires the leader to complete an on-line, password protected, diagnostic evaluation.  The 70 questions identify the leader’s default leadership perspectives. The Ceannas Index is not a psychometric test and reflects where the individual is at a singular point in time.  It can be used multiple times. 


A Ceannas Gathering provides a leadership team with an alternative and very special learning opportunity that has a singular focus upon identifying and enabling small, yet very significant changes to leadership behaviour that are aligned to their organisation’s strategic goals. Each Ceannas Gathering is specifically designed for the client organisation.


We focus on enabling individual and collective leadership behaviours that align with the strategic ambition of our clients. We make a conscious decision not to engage in supporting the development of strategy for the organisations with whom we work. We believe that this responsbility properly resides with the organisation, releasing us to concentrate upon leadership behaviours.


Individual Ceannas Support provides an immersive one-to-one personal experience. Each programme takes place over a series of full day events tailored to the individual’s unique needs, using a range of experiences and individually focused leadership research, the individual leader is supported to identify those high leverage changes to leadership behaviour that will yield the greatest reward.


Ceannas Decision Making Scaffolding is an exclusive model of decision-making designed by Ceannas to enable leaders to escape from their default perspectives on leadership challenges and translate that into fresh leadership behaviours. By combining features of behavioural economics and the psychology of learning we have created an ingenious process to generate exceptional and sustainable solutions.


Ceannas is a ’home’ based business, whether that home be in Langshaw, London or Lisbon, leaders are welcomed as guests and leave as friends. We are committed to creating welcoming and creative learning environments where leaders can escape from the present and generate new and and unanticipated solutions. 

One small change in leadership behaviour.........



We define ‘leadership culture’ as “The way we do things around here”. A leadership culture is therefore something that can only be defined by the actual behaviours demonstrated by people in the organisation. All too often that culture is ambiguous, inconsistent and unplanned, and, as such, does not align or contribute towards the strategic objectives of the organisation.


Many of our major clients have engaged us to help them design and build their leadership culture, especially where they are a new company, or a consequence of a merger or acquisition.  By using the Ceannas Leadership Index as a toolbox we assist the leadership team to identify the leadership behaviours that they wish to model, uphold and permeate the organisation.


Our role is to listen, learn and understand the ambitions of the leaders within the company. By using the Ceannas Index scaffolding we help them build a set of explicit expectations that will consistently guide and inform the leadership behaviour of everyone in the organisation. The impact of this approach is amplified where leaders then contribute their own related marginal leadership gains.

  • The Ceannas approach is based upon trust and confidentiality. For that reason Ceannas does not publicise who we work with, nor share information about individual clients, even with people in their own organisation.




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 a Scottish businessman, educator and chief executive of Ceannas Ltd. He is an honorary professor of leadership at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. He was previously Director of Innovation Leadership with Drummond International. Earlier in his career he was headteacher of Dunbar Grammar School, which was judged to be one of the ten most improved schools in Scotland during his headship. 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

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 Seven Sides of Educational leadership, which evolved into ‘The Ceannas Leadership Index®”. He held a wide range of senior executive positions including responsibilty for over 4,500 staff, a budget of £250 million, and a range of ‘high-stakes’ services as Scotland’s first Executive Director to simultaneously work across two local authorities.  

A Small Step to Wise Leadership

A Small Step to Wise Leadership examines the essence of leadership wisdom through a practical exploration from a variety of perspectives. 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 and as a ‘wise leader’.

(Exclusively reserved for Ceannas clients)

The book presents a ‘practical’ guide to wisdom and avoids leadership and management jargon, academic references and overly theoretical concepts. It 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 much prefer to speak to people directly about our work rather than asking them to complete contact forms:
Call Don Ledingham on 07774368932 or email donledingham@ceannas.com Call Sonya Hotson on 07970243981 or email sonyahotson@ceannas.com


Business Manager: Mary Horsburgh MBA, maryhorsburgh@ceannas.com