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


Emotionally-Intelligent Leadership Challenge Number 5

Challenge #5: The Pareto Principle: seeing emotionally intelligent leadership as an organisational priority

It’s easy for me to say.  You just need to influence your board, to get them to invest in emotionally-intelligent leadership development

But today’s organisations are increasingly complex, with competing priorities.

From many options, leaders need to select the top 3 or 4 priorities that will have the greatest positive impacts in their organisations.

One of these (is) should be investing in emotionally-intelligent leaders. Because in today’s complex world of work, good leadership has a huge and positive impact on organisational success.  Prioritise your investment in emotionally-intelligent leadership and you’re impacting on the whole organisation. Continue reading


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Leadership – perfect intentions in an imperfect world

Preparing for a leadership coaching master class is always an exciting challenge and this week is no exception.  The topic is ethics and I’m taking the theme of how we can deliver on our perfect intentions in this imperfect world.  For me, ethics are a key component in our growth and progress as leaders and coaches.

I want to explore how we can deliver to our best and maintain our moral integrity.  Really understanding what it is to be a better leader, or a more professional coach.  My intention is to start a conversation – so please do add your own thoughts at the end of this post.

My first point of reference is always our clients.  Without exception they’re under pressure to deliver – but the impact is unique and different for each.  So how do we balance the need to deliver on performance with the obligations that professional and social ethics demand?  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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Feeling Challenged? Call in the CIA

I had a great conversation with a coaching client yesterday; he’s managed to achieve a senior role in his organisation, despite layoffs and strong competition. Of course he’s taken on a major challenge: an organisation that’s transforming itself in a high-risk environment, with low staff budgets.  We talked around a number of the issues and the conversation focused on what we call the ‘CIA’:

• What can you Control?
• What can you Influence?
• What do you need to Accept?

As leaders, we’d like to believe that everything’s in our control. The bad news is that we’re kidding nobody but ourselves, if this is something we really believe. The good news is that life becomes much easier when we look closely at the reality – and communicate to people around us – of what we really are able to control.

The reason this works so well is that it sets out the boundaries of our responsibilities for control and manages other peoples’ expectations, as well as our own.

Once we’re clear about what is within our control, we can shift our focus to what we can influence. This is where good relationships and bridge building come into our own. It’s important to identify who to influence, as well as the key messages we need to communicate.

Many managers and leaders use the ‘PEST’ or ‘PESTLE’ acronyms to analyse the situation and stakeholders around us:
• Political
• Economic
• Sociological
• Technological
• Legal
• Environmental

Once we’ve created a communications plan: prioritising who we need to influence (individuals and organisations) and what we need to get across, we typically feel much more in control.

And then, there are those situations over which we can have no influence or control. It may not be as dramatic as the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which had a profound global impact; but that situation is a good example of the resilience of the Japanese people; their ability to prepare for situations and to respond afterwards. They could control the building regulations and ensure that skyscrapers could withstand the expected shocks; they rehearsed evacuation procedures – even with very young schoolchildren.

Accepting the reality of some situations is part of the recovery process: when we’ve looked it in the face and dealt with it, we can then move on to look for the bright spots: those things we can value and gain energy from in any situation.

In coaching, this may include re-connecting my clients with their vision, values and their authentic or ‘best’ selves. It could mean exploring the resources around them and building their innate resourcefulness.

Working out what’s already available to us provides energy and motivation; it also makes clear the resources we need to be successful, and helps us prioritise our actions.

I’m not usually a great fan of acronyms – and I’ve used two here. I hope that they come in useful when you’re next feeling challenged in the leadershipzone.

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A stone in my shoe

Working on the garden landscaping at the weekend was hard work in the hot sunshine.  The great news is I had a team of willing helpers and we shifted barrow-loads of gravel, Victorian edging bricks that we have recycled, and created new beds for flowers, fruit and vegetables.

As the gravel chippings kept creeping into my shoes, I was reminded of the leadership role: when to manage the challenges that come into our lives, and when we need to stop and have a complete rethink.

It’s hard to work when you’ve got a stone in your shoe.  You can work around it for a while, but not for long.  There’s a time when you have to stop, empty your shoes and tie up the laces that bit harder.

As we run our organisations, we’re making the same decisions:

  • Do we live with things as they are?  I’m thinking of the much-quoted Pareto Principle: 80:20; I can live with 20% discomfort if 80% of the situation works.
  • Or does something demand a higher standard and send us back to the drawing board?  Sometimes another principle is more important: the best is the enemy of the good.

Does the situation demand the best, or is 80% good enough?  That’s what the leader has to decide.

So this week in the leadership zone, the tweet messages take on a gardening theme –

  • Monday – Mental Clarity – working in the garden gives me energy and the edge
  • Tuesday – Achievement – making clear priorities helps me achieve – do I feed the soil or water the plants?
  • Wednesday  – Challenges & Endurance – does the stone stay or go?
  • Thursday – Team Success – how do I support the people around me to flourish?
  • Friday – Renewal – which projects need to be finished so I can relax again?

Breaking our working week up into zones helps us focus on where we need to lead, achieve and succeed -and the results are so worth it: