blog: news and opinion


Keeping quiet and carrying on - or finding your voice

29th November 2019

When most of us see or hear - or indeed experience - behaviour by our leaders at work that lacks integrity, justice or humanity, our usual response is to keep our heads down and carry on, fearing the penalties if we speak up. When we have an emotional reaction to what we've witnesed, as long as we don’t act, both the injustice and our own lack of action may continue to rankle. So we get caught in a double bind: it’s too dangerous to speak out, and it’s too uncomfortable not to speak out. Speaking up can require significant courage. As an executive coach, I’m privileged to be able to provide a safe space in which leaders engage with the risky process of finding their voices, articulating their own truths, becoming more of who they are – and in the process becoming more effective and compelling leaders, invariably with greater integrity and humanity.

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Saying goodbye to the glitter

15th November 2019

My article 'Saying goodbye to the glitter' has been published in the November 2019 issue of Coaching at Work. When a very high achiever is obliged, or has chosen, to move on from the peak of their career, the experience can be akin to a bereavement. They can experience their sense of identity, their sense of belonging, their sense of meaning and the knowledge that they are making a difference as at risk: they need to recreate their sense of self.

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The loneliness of the long distance runner

24th October 2019

Leaders who are at the peak of their careers, while anticipating or indeed experiencing the fulfilment of achievement, are frequently lonely, isolated and lacking the safety of honest conversations. They feel deeply the pressure of expectation. They have inadequate opportunity amid the intensity of pressure and complexity to have safe conversations in which to maintain or create clarity about what they really want to do. At some point for leaders in all such situations, the need and search for ‘self’ becomes imperative: they need to rediscover - or indeed discover – themselves in order to articulate their choices and manage those choices. They realise they can reduce the loneliness by articulating and sharing ‘what is’ with a compassionate yet challenging coach with whom they feel safe, connected and trusting, and who has no vested interest in their challenge.

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Influencing through compassion

30th September 2019

The need for the leader and the manager to influence effectively has always been important. Now, however, their contexts are becoming more uncertain and more challenging. I’m coming across more instances of lack of integrity at senior levels, and this poses a dilemma for the leader who wants to stand up for either the values which their organisation claims or for their own values. I'm finding that an approach for them which embraces compassion – for themselves and for others – can make all the difference.

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Trust and safety in coaching

28th September 2019

My article 'Trust and safety in coaching' has been published in the September edition of Coaching at Work. When a client trusts their coach they can feel safe enough to engage with their inner world - and a certain kind of magic can happen.  The richness of both dialogue and data that is enabled by deep trust can uniquely empower the client to face difficult or energising truths, and can also stretch the boundaries of what they'd previously thought was possible.

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Seeking purpose - and being part of the whole

30th August 2019

Albert Einstein wrote: "A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'Universe,' a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us…” This resonates for me as I coach talented senior people who create stellar careers. Some of them realise they feel restricted because their lives don’t integrate what really matters to them. They start asking 'What’s my purpose in getting to the top?’ rather than ‘How can I get to the top?’. This is rich and fertile territory for coaching, which enables an individual, in a risk-free environment, to explore, surface, clarify and articulate what meaning and purpose is for them and to become connected to the bigger whole.

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Trapped in the detail

31st July 2019

The remit of leaders is to develop and drive strategy, and to inspire its implementation. However, those in leadership roles can find themselves trapped in the detail of the operational. If they’re inappropriately involved in these areas, their teams will lack the bigger sense of direction, perspective and focus they need. The first important step for the leader is to realise that change needs to happen, and each will find their own way of implementing that change - perhaps through mindfully reviewing old loyalties to ideas and people, or surfacing wilful blindness, or speaking truth to power. Courage and resilience are fundamental to the change that's needed, along with self-awareness and systemic awareness.

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Confidence on the coaching agenda

30th June 2019

Confidence is the result of resolving or settling issues which may be related to identity, belonging, self-esteem, self-acceptance, resilience, the culture of the client’s organisation, or indeed countless other issues which interrelate, intersect and are interdependent. It manifests in a host of different ways, including effectiveness, efficiency, assertiveness, finding one’s voice, creativity, more balanced relationships, the resolution of conflict, respect and care for one’s own wellbeing, a reduction in stress, and a sense of personal peace. Leaders who constantly build the confidence of their people see that its relationship with the successful release of potential is direct and significant.

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Parallel or converging?

29th May 2019

My article 'Parallel or converging?', published in the May/June 2019 edition of Coaching at Work, takes a geometrical look at how I interpret my own experience, the client's wellbeing, and the importance of neither projecting onto the client, nor converging nor colluding nor getting drawn in to a parllel process.

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Burning out - and recovering health

30th April 2019

I’m coaching two individuals who are on the verge of burning out. Both are hugely committed to their jobs and their organisations, both are talented, and both are high achievers. And no-one in their workplaces has looked beyond their stellar performance or considered what it costs them on a personal basis to deliver that level of performance. No-one has guided them back towards a healthy way of working. A first useful step for them is to engage with, and accept, the tricky task of facing the truth of what is happening.  And the second step is a visit to the GP or to Occupational Health.

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