blog: news and opinion


Why don't you hear me?

28th March 2019

Talented people may feel a sense of isolation – lonely (nearly) at the top of their organisations - either because their perceived currency has diminished, or because it has been inconvenient to hear them, or because established hierarchies and power structures don’t allow their voices to be heard and their true value to be released. There is no simple, linear solution: the answer lies in a blend of self-awareness, mindfulness, systemic awareness, finding your voice, multiple perspectives to broaden your thinking, and listening to your intuition and your wisdom.

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The end and the beginning

27th March 2019

My article 'The end and the beginning' - Coaching at Work's reflection column in the March/April issue - takes as its context the Buddhist wisdom that what the caterpillar perceives as the end, to the butterfly is just the beginning.  I consider my contrasting experience in working with, on the one hand, clients who have real energy for change, and, on the other, clients who resist change. Both endings and beginnings need respect for their time and their process.

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The uncertain and the unknown

28th February 2019

Uncertainty is an inevitable part of both our personal lives and our organisational lives. Self-awareness, self-understanding, and awareness of the systems we’re part of give us a foundation of ‘the known’ in a context where much may be unknown.  This, in turn, can give us a greater sense of safety and agency. In addition, the acceptance of what is – acceptance of the now – is perhaps the most powerful source of calm in the turbulence of uncertainty.  Mindfulness – awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally - encourages focus and distances us from distracting thoughts and emotions.  Not only is it relaxing, but it also nurtures a quiet confidence in the present moment. 

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Humility and the advancement of the executive career

31st January 2019

Humility is the capacity to recognise that you – how ever junior to me – offer something (a talent, a skill, an insight) that I don’t have, and that in that sense you are important to my success as a leader, and to our success as a team and as an organisation. Indeed, I am dependent on you – no matter in how small a way - in the system that we are all part of. Humility can be a key - albeit surprising - factor in the advancement of executive careers. More and more organisations are recognising the value of – and are recruiting for – talent that demonstrates the ability to be humble.

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Inconvenient truths

24th January 2019

My latest article, in Coaching at Work magazine's reflection column (Jan/Feb 2019 edition), looks at our reluctance as human beings to face uncomfortable facts, and the implications for organisational behaviour, especially where this can be counterproductive, or lead to ignoring obvious truths, such as poor leadership or distress in a team. I believe my role as external coach carries responsibility to surface and illuminate what may be hidden or opaque, to peel away layers of wilful blindness and enable sight of reality, which can be uncomfortable, confronting and liberating for my clients

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Authority, courage and the leader

28th December 2018

There's an interconnection between a leader stepping appropriately into their authority, on the one hand, and their courage, on the other. An effective leader understands their team and their client group, and is able to stay up to date with their needs, changes in those needs, and changes in the context and the system that impact on those needs: they are in touch with the ebb and flow – and act on it - without getting sucked in to the detail, and they can anticipate and prepare for changes. This takes courage.

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Who am I? Shifting the focus

21st November 2018

My latest article has been published in Coaching at Work magazine's reflection column. In it I explore the question that leaders sometimes put to themselves (and to their coaches): ‘Who am I if I don’t have the answers?’ The question is about both identity and performance – at the very least. While a leader is judged on the results they achieve, achieving outcomes rests in turn on a broader underpinning than just getting things right - notably process, meaning and system.

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Trust and transition

29th October 2018

Trust is a fragile commodity, and is damaged when the psychological contract (even more than the formal contract) is not respected and/or there is abuse of goodwill, when people feel exploited, disrespected or manipulated, when they have a sense that there’s a hidden agenda, or when they start to question what they had taken for granted about integrity. The outcome may be reduced motivation, performance that is restrained, constrained or diminished, and commitment that is short-lived or superficial. When trust is justified, discretionary effort, engagement and motivation are sustained and built. This is all highly relevant at a time of transition. As a leader you ignore the impact of trust at your peril.

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Leading through systemic complexity

28th September 2018

The task of leadership in our time is increasingly often described as complex – and leaders are often challenged as to how to deal with it. Leaders whom I work with arrive sooner or later at the realisation that question(s) they bring to coaching are either obviously or surprisingly complex, requiring a holistic approach to address them. Those whose behavioural pattern is to rush towards quick answers can find the exploration of what’s actually happening to be confronting, frustrating, uncomfortable – and rich in learning. In complexity what matters is strengthening relationships between people, recognising and understanding influences and forces rather than exerting control, accepting emergence rather than being focused on planning for outcomes, and a readiness to work with boundaries and perspectives rather than a sense of objective truth.

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What's the difference? My article in Coaching at Work

27th September 2018

In the Coaching at Work conference session I ran in July 2018, we set out to explore differences and connections between generations. Generation Z guests wanted to be recognised as individuals and to have their diversity valued, rather than focus on their differences as a group from the rest of the population. And coaches reflected that coaching students was no different from coaching anyone else. So what's the difference?

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