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Actions speak louder than words – How are you aligning behind your culture?

20th April 2017


In a recent Deloitte survey Culture and Engagement was the number one topic organisations are trying to tackle. 86% of respondents stated leadership was one of their most important areas to address.

What would you say?

Do you see the two being linked in anyway?

For me there is a clear link. One drives the other. If you want to drive the culture you need to understand it or it will drive you.

As a leader it’s not what you say that matters. It’s whether your actions back up your words. You are on show all of the time. People are watching you in everything you do; how you walk into the office, go for a coffee, greet people who enter your office space and how you interact in meetings.

You set the tone and this, in essence, is part of culture.

The reason most people struggle with culture is because it is intangible. You can’t get hold of it. It’s the air you breathe, the soup you swim in. When you ‘fit in’ it feels natural. When you don’t it feels uncomfortable and it’s often hard to determine why.

Executives struggle to define what organisational culture is. This article provides the perspective of 25 executives ranging from ‘the soul of the company’ to ‘what is valued and rewarded’.

All are valid and the question for me is:

  • Do you understand the essence of your culture?
  • What drives it?
  • Where do you as a leader and organisation align behind it and where do you contradict it?

The culture of your organisation can be seen in how you reward people, develop leaders, recruit people, the office environment and the processes you have in place to get things done.

Does your culture enable or block your strategy?

A strategy that is aligned to your culture can only reap benefits. You are more likely to engage employees, customers, stakeholders and drive profitability. Where strategy and culture are misaligned you are more likely to struggle with customer retention, employee engagement and the delivery of your strategy.

The truth is, it’s easier to get a handle on your culture than you think. It can be measured. It will involve your time and looking in the mirror to determine how much you reinforce the culture that may be inhibiting you. However, if you believe that leadership is a continuous process of learning and development you’re up for the job!

If you want to know more about how culture can be measured drop me a line and we can chat.

“We can’t chart a new course until we find out where we are, how we came to that point and where we want to go.”

Brene Brown

The absence of trust and how it affects team performance

30th March 2017

The absence of trust - team development

The absence of trust in a team prevents  you as a leader achieving the best that you can be individually and collectively.

Great teams don’t happen by accident. They need work from everyone involved. As a leader it’s down to you to lead the way…

I’m a great fan of Patrick Lencioni’s work. He developed a model on the 5 causes that prevent a team functioning at its optimum level. The foundation of this model is the absence of trust.

Patrick say’s “ Members of great teams trust one another on an emotional level and are comfortable being vulnerable with each other.”

Great teamwork isn’t an intellectual process, it’s an experiential one. It doesn’t involve following a step-by-step process. It’s about connecting with others and we are all different!

Team members who trust each other are comfortable being open and sharing their feelings – whether they are positive or negative e.g. fear, frustration, excitement, optimistic.

To what degree are you comfortable being vulnerable with the team you are a leader of, or indeed a team you are a member of?

What to do if there is no trust

 It starts by being prepared to be vulnerable. This simply means being prepared to be truthful about who you are. For example saying “I don’t know how to do this’ or “I’ve never come across this before’, or “I made a mistake”.

You can do this in everyday conversations, however this alone will not effectively build trust across the team. One simple thing to do, which most organisations and leaders fail to do, is take time out. Have meetings and off-sites that aren’t about tasks and things to do, but about how we work together.

In preparing consider the environment you want to create. What is the message you want to give? Do you want people to me open and honest or hide ‘stuff’.

As a leader get comfortable with feeling exposed – putting yourself out there and being the leader!

The key ingredient is courage.

Are you prepared to take a risk without the guarantee of success?

Tools you could use

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Sharing personal histories There are several ways of doing this from sharing some personal information; your family, hobbies and challenges you’ve overcome through to a timeline of key events which led you to be the person you are today. The method you choose will vary depending on how developed the team is.

Behavioural profiling There are many tools to do this and one of my ‘go to’ tools is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Whatever tool you use, the aim is to get to know each other better. What motivates you as individuals. This is also a great building block to identify potential conflicts in the team.

Reviewing team performance You can do this on a monthly or quarterly basis. Ask each team member to appraise the performance of the team. What worked, what didn’t work and how could each individual have contributed differently to deliver an enhanced level of performance?

Developing an effective team takes time and it’s never a one off event. If you have ever worked in a really effective team you know the benefits it brings.

If you are struggling in getting your team to achieve it’s potential and would like some support email me to set up a free discovery call and we can explore new pathways.

“When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort, it is ready to climb.”



What’s trust got to do with leadership?

16th March 2017

Building Trust


What has trust got to do with leadership?

Well everything!

Leadership is about connecting with others hearts and minds. To get people to follow you in one way, shape or form. Those followers may be your team, your peers, your stakeholders, your manager, your customers or even potential team members…

What is trust?

A dictionary definition of trust is ‘ a firm belief in the reliability or ability of someone’. It’s not something you can hold. It’s one of those intangible qualities that is confirmed by an internal check. It’s not automatic. You have to earn the trust of another and it takes time to build.

It’s also a foundation piece of your personal brand. A great brand is trusted and relied upon by its’ users in any field of work and life.

How do you build trust?

Trust has many levels and it will depend on the context. For example; I may trust you to drive my car but not fix my washing machine; or I may trust you to do some detailed analysis but not to present to the Board.

This brings me to the first way to build trust – competence. Are you competent in the area of work, topic for discussion? Do you have the right amount of knowledge and skills? Are you able to demonstrate you can do what is required?

If you can demonstrate your competence then you’re part way there.

Another element to building trust being consistent. Are you consistent in the way you deliver, behave and communicate? If you are consistently late or don’t finish things you won’t necessarily get people on your side. They are unlikely to trust you to deliver and may request more updates and check on progress more frequently.

Finally, there is commitment. Are you committed to the task in hand, the team, and the organisation? Commitment is driven by your motivation and what’s important to you. It has an energetic quality that people intuitively pick up.

What can you do when trust is broken?

Trust is often broken when you have failed to demonstrate one or all of the above elements – competence, consistency or commitment. In many situations it is possible to regain it, however it won’t happen automatically. You can’t talk your way out of a problem that was created by behaviour. You have to behave your way back into trust.

The first step, if it’s possible, is to have a conversation. If you know the behaviour that created this ‘problem’, apologise and clarify what you will do differently. If you don’t know, or are not clear, seek feedback and agree a way forward.

My advice is to take action quickly. Distrust creates suspicion. People become more guarded and this can perpetuate into a downward spiral. None of us want that do we?

Trustworthy Leadership

When you gain peoples trust and seen as trustworthy things happen more quickly and costs go down. If you are not convinced of this look at those relationships where you know you are trusted. I’m guessing you take less time getting their buy-in and things happen quicker and more smoothly than it does with those whom you are just starting to build trust with.

How good are you at building and earning the trust of others?

  • Are you as a leadership brand trustworthy?
  • Can you be relied upon?
  • Do you feel those in your network trust you?
  • If not what’s your first step to changing the situation?

Trust takes time to build and can be destroyed in an instant.The benefits outweigh the costs, gaining and maintaining trust will enable you to be much more effective and efficient in all that you do.

“Anything that has value in life only multiplies when it is given.”

Deepak Chopra

The Heart of the Matter – Emotional Intelligence

20th February 2017

Emotional Intelligence

There has been much written about emotional intelligence showing the more emotional intelligent leaders are the most successful.

But what makes someone more emotionally intelligent than another?

There are many tools that will allow you to assess your EI (Emotional Intelligence) however; you don’t need to use them. You could do a quick self-assessment by reviewing these 5 elements:


This, for me, is the most important component and transcends all elements of leadership. My belief is that you cannot lead others until you first learn to lead yourself. Those with higher levels of self-awareness tend to be confident and self-assured. When you are self-aware you can recognise your own particular emotional reactions to situations. You understand your moods and how they affect others.


To have emotional intelligence, not only are you aware of your own emotions, you are also able to control them. You act according to the situation. You don’t suppress your feelings. You know the right time to express them and the right way in which to do it. You’ll be great at managing conflict and diffusing difficult situations. Something many of us struggle with. You also take full responsibility for your actions.


You are able to ‘emotionally read’ others, to understand how others are feeling. If someone is feeling down or sad, you have the emotional toolkit to manage the situation without it impacting on your own emotions. You can bring people’s moods up without bringing yours down. You can earn the respect and loyalty of your team and stakeholders by showing them that you understand.

Social Skills 

Being able to interact with others is so important in all areas of life. It builds trust and respect. You need to know when to listen and when to act. Give praise where it’s due, communicate clearly and resolve any conflicts in a calm and controlled manner.


Last but by no means least, is motivation. Emotionally intelligent people are motivated to achieve their own internal goals. It’s not just about money, status and recognition. They understand their values and how they inform their decision-making.

An Emotional Intelligence Exercise

This activity can be used whenever you want to understand what is causing you to feel in a certain way.

Albert Ellis (a psychologist) identified that every feeling has an activating event, which create a rational or irrational belief(s) and self-talk. When we act on any irrational belief or self talk our behaviour can be less impactful. If you have been in a situation recently where you know you could have handled it better use this process to identify what you could do differently next time.

Take an emotion that may be getting in your way, or you know you need to manage more positively e.g. anger, irritation, impatience, frustration.

Step one: Identify the event that triggered the emotion e.g. the comment someone made, the number of errors in a piece of work.

Step two: Identify the self-talk and beliefs you hold around the event e.g. He never seems to be happy with what I do! She never pay’s attention to detail – does she think I’m stupid! What ever you think or believe write it down – it doesn’t mean it’s true.

Step three: For each belief and statement list the consequences. How do you feel? What’s the emotion and behaviour it creates e.g. I become irritated and stop listening; or I get frustrated and start criticising others

Step four: Now identify how you want to be handling the situation differently and start practicing.

“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” 

Golda Meir 


Are you the author of your life?

1st February 2017

Are you the author of your life?

  • Do you find that you are not getting what you want?
  • Are you feeling limited or stuck in some way?
  • Do you find that you are repeating patterns of behaviour, or phrases or ways of thinking that get in your way?
  • Have you settled for less?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes then I’ll bet you are living your life according to old patterns of thinking and conditioned ways of being.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

You can get whatever you want and be the author of your life if you are prepared to make changes to the way you think and perceive the world around you.

Why do we get stuck?

Being stuck, or thinking that you can’t do or have what you want is normal. We all have limiting thoughts about our abilities and it happens when we attach ourselves to the past or the future.

Often it’s due to an unconscious decision we have made in the past, and more often than not it’s driven by emotion rather than logic. We make choices thinking that having a certain belief will help us get what we want or keep us safe.

Being stuck is a mental state that becomes a habit because it’s driven by a deep-rooted belief.

Your brain drives your thoughts and your behaviour. When you are stuck in old patterns, the body responds automatically. When you are on ‘automatic pilot’, your habitual patterns play out so life seems repetitive.

Rising above your conditioned way of being

The first step to change is self-awareness.

Start by becoming an observer of yourself. It’s very easy to be critical of things that you do, particularly when it’s a habit you want to change. Additionally, being critical is more likely to close your thinking down. Instead open up your thinking, be curious and ask yourself questions such as:

  • How did I create this habit in the first place?
  • What is it about this situation that is causing me to behave in this way?
  • How do I actually feel right now?
  • What one thing can I do to begin to change?

Once you start to break an old pattern, you can learn new ways to operate and build more positive, enabling habits.

Practice is the key to being the author of your life

The thing that got you into this stuck state was practice. You took on thoughts, beliefs and actions, and repeated them until they became automatic. Therefore, it makes sense that a new practice will help you to become un-stuck .

To find the practice that is right for you be clear about what you want.

For some people this can be the real challenge. As a coach, when I first ask this question, I often hear ‘I don’t know’. The second most common response I receive is people telling me what they don’t want. For example, if I’m working with someone who wants to be more confident, they’ll tell me they don’t want to be nervous, or they don’t want to forget what they are planning to say, or they don’t want to stutter over their words.

This focuses your brain on what already happens – your old practice. Your aim is to train your brain to focus on what you really want. Get a crystal clear picture in your mind. Be as specific as you can. Think about what you will do, how you will look, what you will say to yourself – and write all this down.

Be consistent in your practice. Remember you are creating new habits that will help you live the life you want. Consider where you will practice, with whom, and in what situations. Then, do it!

A word of advice

Be patient! You are re-wiring your brain. It has been doing things in a certain way for many years. Start small and build on it. Praise yourself for small successes. Focus on what is working and adjust what isn’t

Think about the first time you got on a bike, or drove a car. You started by practising some of the basic actions and had support. You made mistakes along the way but through hours of practice you became competent

The same rules apply here. Be kind to yourself and find someone who will cheer you on as you make small steps to living the life you want.

“Our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.”

Barbara Geraci


Polishing the Professional Mirror

11th January 2017

Personal Mastery

It’s the start of a New Year and I’m guessing you are already busy, rushing from one meeting to the next, problem solving, picking up a new project on an already full agenda, planning for the new financial year…

The Christmas break seems like a long time ago and all your best intentions for starting the New Year off differently are starting to falter.

I work with many leaders in a range of environments and the one thing they are all faced with is a world of increasing complexity, volatility and pace.

I’m guessing the same is true for you. So here is my question:

When do you get quality time to think?

When do you get the time to clear your head to make sense of the multi layered complexity and multi dimensional relationships of work?

Those of you who are very disciplined will carve out some time in the week to review what happened last week and plan your priorities for the coming week. Others may do this on a monthly or quarterly basis.

  • Does this provide you with new perspectives and understanding of what is going on?
  • Do you gain new insights into how you can tackle a situation differently to get better results?
  • Do you think about things differently?

We all have blind spots and it’s very easy for us to stay in a pattern of doing things and behaving in a certain way. When we don’t take time to step back and reflect our professional mirror can become a little dusty.

Here is an opportunity to polish that mirror and maintain its shine for the coming months.

Give yourself the gift of reflection

Every opportunity and activity we face is an opportunity to learn and see something new.

Taking time out to be reflective and engage in a purposeful enquiry provides you with an opportunity to look at the problem along with the players and the system you are working in. You’ll also notice your own thought patterns and reactions.

Working with a coach or mentor can provide different lenses and perspectives.

These added insights and support provide additional momentum in starting and sustaining new actions.

A recent client after several sessions commented:

“I’ve slowed down so much I’m quicker than I was before!”

So, if you’d like to rethink, resource and reenergise yourself to lead with more clarity, focus, purpose and wisdom send me an email and I’ll set up a call.

Show up more fully as the leader you were meant to be.

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

Marcel Proust


6 reasons why you might procrastinate

8th December 2016


As I was thinking about what to write today I noticed I was finding lots of other things to do… I was putting it off!

So, I decided this would be my topic – why do people procrastinate?

Here are the 6 reasons I came up with:

Task is too big

You look at what needs to be done and think it’s too big. Sometimes it is, and sometimes once you get started you realise it isn’t, the obstacles were only in your head.

If it is too big you feel overwhelmed.  When this happens the best thing to do is break it down into smaller tasks and do them one at a time.

You’re not interested

Whether it’s at home or at work you are just not interested in the particular topic, event, person or task. You just keep putting it off or, worse still, make up other excuses for not doing it.

If this happens first ask yourself is it part of your job? Will it help you with your job/career? Is this person someone you want in your life? If the answer to any of these is yes, it may be worth looking at the underlying reason and reframing it so it’s a more positive experience.

You don’t want to fail

You’ve never done what you’re being asked to do before. You don’t want to get it wrong, or look a fool. You might spend a lot of time doing research, or asking questions or just avoiding it.

My advice here is break it down into bite size chunks. You can’t make progress until you make the first step. Treat it as a learning experience and ask for help. It may surprise you how many people want you to succeed and will do all that they can to support you.

You are not motivated

You know you can do it. You know you can do it quickly but you’re just not motivated to do it right now. This is one that trips me up fairly regularly. Rather than beat myself up about it I recognise that I’m not in the right frame of mind. I then do one of two things, change the way I’m thinking about it and just get it done, or recognise I need to be in a different place and plan to do it another time.


In this scenario you’re simply rebelling against the person or team who has asked you to do it. You’ll do it in your time when you’re good and ready!

Personally I find this the most unhelpful state to be in. It does nothing to build relationships. If you find you are in this space take some time out and understand where your resistance is stemming from. Is it real, or are you making up a story?? Often it’s the latter!

You’re a perfectionist

You need to have all the information/detail and the perfect time to make a start. You want to get it just right and now is not the right time – you’re waiting….

Next time you notice you’re putting something off – ask yourself which of these reasons (excuses) are getting in the way and then take action!

You’ll achieve two things by doing this:

  1. Greater self-awareness that will hopefully mean you’ll overcome this habit…
  2. Getting ‘stuff’ done more easily and probably effortlessly.

“In a moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Are you a team player?

24th November 2016

team players

Being part of a team is not just about you performing at your best. It’s about working with others and being a team player, understanding the teams objectives, aligning to those and taking responsibility for your individual as well as team performance.

How good a team player are you?

I’ve put together this checklist so that you can do a quick self-assessment. Decide what action you can take to be an even better team member.


Are you willing and able to:

Manage yourself well: Are you aware of your strengths and weaknesses? Do you utilise these and share them with your team members? Are you able to control your emotions?

Build your competence: Do you continually review your skills levels and identify what you need to build on to further your career and support the team?

Commit to the team and organisations vision: Are you clear about the organisations vision and how your role and the team contribute to delivering that? Does everything you do and your objectives fully align to this vision? Can you easily say no to things that are not in alignment with the vision?

Take responsibility for delivering to the team: Do you focus on the team’s efforts and goals as much as your individual goals? Do you willingly sacrifice resource for the team, knowing that this may delay your own achievement? If things are going awry do you let people know and take personal responsibility for it?

Give and receive feedback: Do you regularly provide feedback to your team colleagues when things go well and when things don’t? Are you specific with the feedback you give e.g. the way you managed that particular conversation was very effective; you listened and responded appropriately, you gave them space to say everything they needed to say and I thought your summary of the situation was succinct and accurate rather than – you handled that really well.

Do you willingly receive feedback – the good the bad and the ugly?

Be self confident and courageous: Are you confident in who you are and what you do? Are you prepared to say you disagree even when everyone else is in agreement? Are you prepared to try something new and learn from it? Do you admit when you have got things wrong or make a mistake?

Rate yourself out of 10 for each of these. Where you have identified areas for improvement, what can you start to do tomorrow to make progress?

If you are not sure ask your manager or your team members for feedback and start a dialogue about how you can all improve.

I’d love to know how you get on so feel free to leave a comment.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

Michael Jordan

Is teamwork really possible in today’s challenging and turbulent times?

3rd November 2016


Teamwork is the single most untapped competitive advantage any organisation has.

But is teamwork really possible in today’s challenging and turbulent times?


The better question to ask is what is the cost of not encouraging and enabling teamwork and greater team performance?

As a leader no one teaches you how to build a team and yet once you are appointed to a leadership role you are supposed to know what to do … crazy right?

It is the one area organisations invest in the least and yet it can provide the greatest gain for organisational performance. So what get’s in the way?

Three common mistakes

Here are the most common mistakes I see leaders make when it comes to team performance and development:

  1. You don’t know where to go for help. You’re a leader therefore you’re supposed to know what to do. Yet, you really don’t know where to start. If you say you need help that would show weakness and you couldn’t possibly do that.
  2. You’ve been a leader for a while and you know the business and your team, so you can ‘figure it out’. You’ve worked in teams before and it’s not rocket science…
  3. You just need to work harder, so you and your team simply need to do more of what you do naturally.

Achieving high performance in any team requires engagement, commitment and time. Often the task gets the focus as it’s easier to ‘do’. The truth is it can become easier if you harness the strengths and energies of the individual members of your team.

I’m a great believer in focussing on people’s strengths and the strengths of the collective team. However, I also believe in addressing what may be getting in the way of those strengths coming to the fore and that is fear.

Fear in it’s many forms

Fear as a leader is not something I hear people admit to in the workplace and yet it is present in many of us. Not all of the time but in those moments of doubt and worry it’s lurking in the background. Sometimes we are not conscious of it and once we become more aware of it’s presence it becomes easier to handle.

Fear is an emotion caused by impending danger, alarm or dread and can cause us to back away from things, hesitate and become anxious. It can show up in a number of ways organisationally. Here are just a few things that could be clues to fear driven behaviour:

Blame, particularly when something goes wrong. Pointing the finger at another team or department – ‘If they’d done what they were supposed to do this wouldn’t have happened!’

Confusion. This is usually an indication of a lack of clarity and people aren’t prepared to say they don’t understand or they don’t know. The lack of clarity could be about the situation you are in, the problem you are facing or the direction you are heading.

Control. This can show up as wanting to sign everything off, hoarding information, not delegating or wanting things done your way and can lead to silo mentality

Caution. When people are cautious slow decision making ensues while more information is gathered to ensure it’s ‘safe’ and the right decision is made. It may also result in wanting to ensure everyone is on board before moving forward, or wanting to have everything carefully planned out with contingencies on place.

Internal competition. All of the above can be a symptom of this. Whilst internal competition can be healthy when it starts to get in the way of cooperation, sharing and learning it is unhealthy and likely to breed distrust.

All of this boils down to an absence of trust!

“Trust always affects two outcomes – speed and cost. When trust goes down, speed will go down and cost will go up. When trust goes up, speed will also go up and cost will go down. It’s that simple, that real, and that predictable.”

Stephen Covey book “Speed of Trust”.

The cost of doing nothing

I often hear leaders say the team is committed but we don’t have the time. There is a cost to not taking time out to enhance your performance. It boils down to lost opportunities and lost productivity. Here are just a few examples of how this shows up:

  • Talking about the wrong issues over and over again because you lack buy-in
  • Slow decision-making
  • Wasting time and energy on politics and confusion
  • Silo mentality

You can put a monetary figure to this and I have a very simple way of helping you define this. Simply drop me an email for more information.

Enhancing your team’s performance is not as onerous as it first appears. It’s about building relationships and having meaningful dialogue about what needs to shift.

Many leaders are waking up to the fact that the most important factor for the success of their team or organisation is the right culture. The way you behave together can make or break a team or organisation.

What do you need to address to raise the level of your teams performance?

“When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality.”

Joe Paterno


World Values Day

20th October 2016


Today is world values day, so what better way to participate than to share your values and act on them – which is when they are their most powerful.

Every day you make choices. Some are conscious some are unconscious, some are big and involve lots of people and some are small and involve only you. Do you know what is driving your choices? If you are clear about your own values then you will know, as it’s your values that drive your decision making. They act as your central navigation tool in al that you do.

Your values are deeply embedded and developed over a number of years based on your experiences and influential figures in your life. They are often unconscious yet when we take time to understand what they are they seem obvious.

When you act in alignment with your values you will feel more confident and more likely to build trust with others – what you say equates to how you act.

Discover your Values

 If you are not clear about your values take a personal values assessment. It’s a simple survey that is free and takes just a few minutes to complete and gain insights into what motivates you.

Do something NOW that brings your values passionately to life – something challenging, creative or fun. Nominate at least one other person in your family or a colleague to do the same!

If you want to find out more visit there is a great resource section.

P.S. I know some of you read this at a later date, so if world values day has passed you by remember it’s never too late to share your values and bring them to life!

“The privilege of lifetime is to become who you truly are”

Carl Jung

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