Become brilliant by creating space for the team

leadership teamsA couple of days ago I was listening to one of the GB rowing coaches at the Rio Olympics speaking about the process for achieving high levels of performance. One thing he said struck me as incredibly relevant to teams in a business setting. He said that they no longer try to mould each rower into one ‘ideal’ model, but tap into the huge diversity of backgrounds, personalities and talents to create a uniquely brilliant team.


I come across many teams who are not tapping into their full potential because they fail to take the time and space to connect, discover more about each other and learn together.

I recently facilitated the second of a series of away-days for a leadership team that has struggled with internal conflict. The most powerful part of the session was when I invited each person to develop and then share their ‘leadership lifeline’.

I gave them a loose framework to use and they then each took a piece of A3 paper and were asked to represent their life so far in words and pictures. The emphasis was on how their life experience had shaped their attitudes and approaches to leadership. After some hesitation, and encouraged by seeing my own lifeline as an example, they spent half an hour individually working on theirs, followed by a session during which they shared the key parts of their life that had shaped their approach to leadership. I was humbled by the level of disclosure and honesty, and the respectful reaction to their colleagues’ stories.

During this short session they built a profound new understanding of each other and increased the level of trust significantly. Later on, they were amazed at how quickly they were able to come to agreement on some quite tricky business issues, something they’d never achieved before. Disclosure is an important factor in Continue reading


How do you freeze courgettes?

I’ve spent much of today working at home catching up on some of the latest articles and blogs on leadership. However this morning I found myself distracted by the glut of courgettes in my garden and ended up on Google looking for tips on how to freeze them.  Coming from a family with a very strong work ethic, I felt a slight sense of guilt for thinking about courgettes in the middle of the working day, even more so when I went out to harvest today’s crop.

In an excellent article in HBR recently, Shawn Anchor and Michelle Gielen refer to the importance of recovery for building personal resilience. They claim that a lack of recovery is costing our companies $62 billion a year in lost productivity. According to them, the key to resilience is trying really hard, then stopping, recovering, and then trying again. They distinguish between the kind of recovery we can do during the working day and the recovery we do outside working hours.

Many people are programmed fom an early age to think that any kind of recovery during the working day makes them a slacker and low performer. But science says otherwise. Taking what I call moments of ‘micro-recovery’ during the day helps us to recharge our batteries, both physically and mentally.

Back to those courgettes….. The few minutes I took to go out into the sunshine and pick a few courgettes was like plugging myself into the ‘charge’ socket, enabling me to spend more time in productive mode when I went back to my desk. So next time you find yourself in endurance mode, telling yourself you’ve got too much to do to take a break, yet finding your mental focus waning, give yourself a break and allow yourself some micro-recovery. It might be a few minutes fresh air (leaving your phone on your desk), it might be listening to your favourite song, it might be going to the other side of the office to say hello to a valued colleague. Switch off for a few minutes at regular intervals during the day and you’ll most likely find that your resilience, performance and creativity benefits.

For support in building your productivity by increasing your personal resilience, contact me on +44 (0)7411 483319 or e’mail me at


Coaching – cost or investment?

CoachingIt’s no co-incidence that Andy Murray gives much credit for his latest Grand Slam win at Wimbledon to his coach, Ivan Lendl. I wouldn’t like to guess how much Murray pays Lendl, no doubt it’s a great deal. However it’s clear that Murray sees it as an investment worth making because it gets results.

The link between executive coaching and business results is less clear. In my experience, results from executive coaching can be significant as long as there are well-defined coaching objectives and the client is open to the support and challenge that a good coach provides,. Take for example Joe, a Sales Director I’ve been coaching. Continue reading