The LeadershipZone for better leadership

Get into the leadershipzone – practical tools and ideas you can use to improve your effectiveness as a leader or manager


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Who are the leaders in UK logistics?

Your chance to nominate the people & companies in the UK that support diversity & women in logistics

Here at the Forton Group we’re delighted to be supporting the UK Women in Logistics awards for the second year running.  We sponsor the Company of the Year award (250 or more employees) alongside other sponsors – PepsiCo, Manpower and the Search Consultancy.Leaders - Women in Logistics

The awards will be presented at the annual Women in Logistics (WiL) UK Awards Night and Charity Ball – later in the year (an honorary mention for the welcome drinks sponsors DocData by the way).  Last year WiL raised £8,000 for Transaid and, together, we’re hoping to do even better in 2013…

For us it’s all about growing women’s confidence in their own resourcefulness and recognising the HR, OD and L&D professionals who support women to play powerful roles in this important business sector.

Getting resources from A-B is tough.  It’s a highly competitive business with tight margins.  Whether that’s on the transport side, international work, storage or distribution.  IT is playing an increasingly vital role too.

The good news is that, companies which draw on a more diverse workforce, have been shown to be more successful.  And it’s not just the so-called soft skills either.  Women bring the essential skills of organising, planning and performance delivery – just as well as men.Leadership development, coaching and communications

So the first step towards these awards are the nominations.

  • Do you know an organisation that support women’s careers and are worthy of lifting the trophy?
  • Do you know an outstanding woman, or young women (under 30) making an outstanding contribution to the sector?

If the answer is YES – it’s easy to nominate them today – just click on these four categories:

Woman of the Year – sponsored by Search Consultancy

Young Woman of the Year (under 30) – sponsored by Manpower

Company of the Year (250 or more employees) – sponsored by the Forton Group

SME of the Year (fewer than 250 employees) – sponsored by PepsiCo

Please do share this email with your networks and let’s support the UK logistics sector to be even more successful by celebrating diversity.

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Leadership & Difficult Conversations– seven qualities that flip the 80:20 switch

This issue of ‘difficult’ conversations certainly stirred up a hot debate in an Ignite workshop we ran last week.  What I love about our clients is that they’re the kind of people to discuss things rigorously.  Whether they agree or disagree, they’re always willing to give our recommendations a try.  That’s a real leadership quality.  In this blog I focus on seven leadership qualities that will make your life easier.  Give them a try.  They’ll also switch your team towards positive delivery, development and greater solidarity Continue reading


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What we’ve learned about leaders in 2012 – plus a new year offer

I love getting customer feedback.  I’ve just been reading what delegates said about a coaching conference where my colleagues Bob and Cyndi presented.  Good feedback is valuable and constructive – this is how we get to learn and grow.  And because leadership is an ever-moving journey, we need to keep on learning.  Keep reading and there’s a new year’s offer for you to keep on learning too.

Here’s what we’ve learned from you in 2012:

  • Our customers want to be better leaders and managers
  • They want to improve their communication skills
  • Some people want to feel more secure in their job
  • Others want to get a promotion; get a bonus or a pay rise

You tell us that you don’t just want to be coached to be more effective, or a better communicator. Great leaders want their team to succeed too – and many of you want to learn to apply coaching skills successfully for that reason.

People feel the need to get more things done – personally and through their colleagues and teams – but feel challenged by so many tasks and targets. People want to feel they can provide for their family – and have the better things in life – homes, cars, holidays and fun with family or friends.  Enjoy watching or playing their favourite sport.

Many of you are also sports coaches – volunteering at the weekends to coach your kids’ football or rugby teams.  Some  clients are rowing and athletics coaches at national level too.  Whatever the level you’re coaching at- we’ve  heard some great success stories.Olympic Rings

Some of you want to get a better job somewhere else.  Or just feel  like you’re in a better place by the year end.  Yet for many of you it feels like everything’s speeding up – when it should be winding down for the holidays.

2012 has been a great year to salute coaching as a profession –in the sports arena – or in the board room. It’s a way of learning that enables people to succeed.

What we do is support leaders is to take out what gets in the way –

  • The tricky relationships – getting people off our back – or improving our empathy
  • Overcoming the feeling of overwhelm or the reluctance to delegate
  • The desire to promote our pet project, or ourselves – or the desire to fade from the limelight

We do this both by coaching people – AND by giving them the coaching tools to be better, more coach-like  leaders themselves.

Our prediction for 2013 – you can get it off to a good start

Here’s your new year offer – to take advantage of one of the remaining spaces on our January 8/9 Ignite leadership coaching skills programme, discounted by 25% to £600 plus VAT. This is a 2 day residential course in the heart of the English countryside, close to Milton Keynes.

Our coaching skills programme is great for boosting confidence and performance, especially in new and emerging leaders.

If you’re not UK-based – here’s our international schedule for the first quarter 2013 – firstly the North American Dates for your diary,  and the Asia-Pacific Dates.  You can contact our North American partner, Cyndi, here, or Tony, our Australasia partner.

And the business case?  It provides a great return on investment and effort for retaining top talent and for motivating individuals and teams.

Wherever you are, and whatever you choose to do, we wish you a restful break and a great start to 2013



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LeadershipZone fundamentals: integrity, communications & motivation

When staff believe that their bosses have integrity and communicate well with them, they are more highly motivated and employee engagement scores are higher.   This blog looks at the changes needed when recruiting and developing leaders and the one thing that will make the biggest difference in peoples’ perceptions of their leaders – the appraisal conversation.

Why are engagement scores important?  Let’s take the example of hospitals: if hospital staff engagement with their organisation drops, mortality rates increase.  It’s in all our interests to be sure that hospital staff are well-motivated and engaged with their  work. Continue reading


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Leadership & Economic Stimulus

The beauty of writing a blog is that the author can turn their attention to a range of relevant topics.  My focus this week is ‘leadership and economic stimulus’.  Why?  Because as I follow a number of discussions on economic situations around the world I’m reminded how closely it’s linked to our personal self-confidence.

People with money are holding onto it; they’re not spending it, rather they are spending time and effort looking for safe havens.  Whether that’s Switzerland (who have responded decisively to dissuade people from this approach), or major banks (some of which are charging ‘negative interest’ to reflect the cost of this).  A ‘safe haven’ is just a way of saying “I don’t feel confident enough to invest at the moment”.

searching for that elusive 'safe haven'

So Economic Stimulus needs Confidence

There’s so much we can do, as leaders, when we do feel confident.  We all know what it feels like to be ‘in the zone’: dynamic, energetic and full of that ‘can do’ feeling.  We see more possibilities and our brains are more creative.  Brain scientists would say that this is because more of the oxygen in our system is going to the brain – rather than being diverted to our legs (flight), our arms and hands (fight), or to our hearts (when we grieve and mourn).

There are steps we can take to generate economic confidence, and rather than offering out-of-context solustions, I invite you to consider these two questions:

  • What stimulus does your business or organisation need from other businesses/organisations?
  • What will you/your organisation do to stimulate the economy in turn?  Whether at a local, national or international level.

The LeadershipZone – a place of dynamic possibility

So in the LeadershipZone we need to be in a place of dynamic possibility and lead our people and teams towards success and achievement.  Does this feel like a tall order?  When there’s so much to be done before the end of the day, week or month – it  can appear to be so.  My challenge to anyone reading this is to step back and start looking the bigger picture:

  • What’s your strategic vision for what you’re aiming towards?

The steps on the way maybe detailed and complex, but if we – and our people –  aren’t feeling motivated and clear about where we’re going, then nothing’s going to happen.

The converse is also true, sometimes we do, and achieve, a lot – but no-one is stopping to look at the steps we’re taking towards success.  Here’s five things you can do to support yourself and others see the results of the effort they’re putting in:

  1. Notice and express the qualities of the people around you.  For example, if you notice a way of doing something that brings results, mention it publicly – and mention the quality you see in the person that resulted in that achievement too.
  2. Look at your own experience, skills and strengths, and really get to know these factors in your team members.  These are what will get you through the challenges ahead.
  3. Set up mentoring/buddy schemes – so that you and your colleagues have someone who’s open to hearing about the challenges and providing relevant advice.  I’m currently supporting a mentoring scheme for professional women working in logistics in the UK (with links across the world).  It’s amazing how generous people are in offering support to others as they climb the career ladder.  People loved being asked to be mentors – as long as their time and professionalism is respected
  4. Here’s a great website where you and  your people can be reminded to list and reflect on their daily achievements: http://www.idonethis.com
  5. Talking these achievements over with a colleague, boss or buddy can really inspire and motivate you and your people

Remember the rules of the LeadershipZone: get yourself inspired and motivated first, so that you can better inspire, motivate and above all lead your team to success.


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Emotional Intelligence – a fundamental leadership skill

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking and writing about emotional intelligence and the fundamental importance it has for ourselves and our relationships with others.  Last Saturday we held a ‘business building’ course for professional leadership coaches and it brought home to me how fundamentally important the practice of emotional intelligence is to each of us.

I’ll explore some of these points over the next few days in more detail, but let’s start with the overview.

  • ‘Emotions’ – those feelings we all get in rapid response to a stimulus, good, bad, happy or sad.
  • ‘Intelligence’ – ‘choosing between’; using our innate intelligence to choose our behaviour based on the whole range of stimuli we receive from around and within us.

The basic EI model is attributed to Daniel Goleman and his associates, authors of ‘The New Leaders’, which looks at resonant and dissonant leadership styles through the lens of emotional intelligence:

  1. It starts with selfawareness: if we can name our own emotions, recognise the triggers that set us off, and identify our responses to emotions under pressure, we stand a much better chance of applying positive behaviours
  2. Choosing positive behaviours is an example of self-management: we don’t have to respond in an argumentative situation and we can choose to celebrate the good things that happen to us – even in tough times
  3. Being open to and aware of others is the next important EI step.  Because we’re improving our self-awareness, we’ve got a good idea how others might be feeling.  The good news is, we don’t have to assume, we can instantly improve our rapport and awareness by asking
  4. Rapport and empathy are examples of using our awareness to create better relationships.  The benefits of actively improving our relationships are all around us: better interactions with shop-staff, better phone conversations with service personnel, better customer service, beter account management – the list is endless.

Improving our relationships with our colleagues, staff and superiors has to be a  ‘win-win’, leading to better engagement at all levels in the organisation.  It may run counter to today’s ‘survival’ mentality – and that’s because when we invest in better relationships it’s an investment in future success, not just today’s.

Improving our emotional intelligence through these four steps is great for us at an individual level too: who wouldn’t want a better relationship with their partner or spouse – or close family members?

The most inspiring stories I hear from my clients are when they start applying their EI skills to their family: supporting children to pass their driving test, appreciating the very different choices young people want to make about their careers; sharing the disappointment of less than perfect exam results, or punching the air with joy over a moment of sporting success.

When I first encountered the concept of Emotional Intelligence – nearly ten years ago now – I recognised that I was starting from a very low point.  Yes of course I could point to incidents in my childhood, or blame my upbringing, but  that contradicts the notion of being aware of how I’m feeling in the moment and choosing between intelligent options now.  The very best news is that, with diligent practice, I can take four simple steps every day.

Over the next few days I’ll be looking at other EI fundamentals, with a particular focus on how we overcome fears such as rejection, failure, and how others perceive us.


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LeadershipZone Fundamental no.3: personal space

When I worked in the City of London in the late ’80s, I used to spend some of my lunch hours wandering the ancient streets.  You can walk into medieval churches, cross Roman walls and marvel at the Tower of London, just a few minutes walk from our busy offices.  I’m not saying I was a loner or a saint, many days were also spent with colleagues in wine bars and restaurants, sampling the range of delights on offer – but it was a pleasure to have time to myself to ‘switch off’ temporarily from the demands of the job.

Iconic buildings for London's 2012 Olympics

I can remember people staring upwards as the glass and steel Lloyds’ Building rose in the City.  Today there’s the whole Olympic site to see rising out of the rubble of derelict waste land in East London – and I bet every City has similar sights.

Today the phrase ‘Lunch Hour’ itself is seen as a medieval concept.  Yet having personal space in the middle of the working day is vital for our brains as well as our bodies.  Eating at our desks is neither hygienic nor attractive; and don’t get me started about the greasy smell of fast food!  If you’ve ever sat working while someone else is diving into their BigMcNuggetMac, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

I’m fascinated by the activities that people  do, when their mid-day break has been reduced and they become less engaged with their work.  The time taken out of the working day to deal with shopping, online entertainment and planning leisure activities; it can also be measured in workforce engagement surveys.  People with this attitude believe it’s their right to do this in worktime, because their personal space has been taken away and this impacts directly on the bottom line of your organisation.

There’s some interesting current work on what’s called the ‘positivity ratio’.  The author, Dr. Maynard Brusman cites research work studying the characteristics of high-performing business teams:  “If a team is highly connected, its members will maintain a positivity/negativity ratio above 3:1.”

Other research into peoples’ priorities show that health, relationships, and work come out as top.  Taking a break and eating lunch in a social environment contributes to all three.  So providing personal space – physical and in terms of time – for people to get away from the workzone is a vital leadership responsibility: especially if we want our people to be successful in their roles, and bring engagement, buzz and commitment back into the workplace.

Professionals in human resources talk about the ‘social contract’ that exists between employee and employer.  This is also an emotional contract, and if our staff don’t believe that it’s a fair exchange of effort and reward, they’ll find the most creative ways to rebalance the books.

When I work with teams to improve their performance, I ask them to rate themselves on three key measures on a 0-10 scale:

  • Positivity: how positive am I about the work I’m doing?
  • Productivity: how effective am I?
  • Credibility: how credible am I, within and outside this team?

If you want an easy way to test your team’s overall engagement quickly, I challenge you to ask these three questions.  And, to increase productivity and effectiveness and re-engage your team, I urge you to give them physical and personal space to take a break during the day.