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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Leadership Priorities – the people or performance?

I had one of those ‘I have a dream’ moments last week: I want managers and leaders to have more supportive conversations with their staff.  But I know that people tend to compartmentalise – people OR performance?

I had this lightbulb moment as we were driving to the country house hotel in the heart of England where we run our coaching skills courses.  A drive is a great way to explore and discuss ideas.

Why more supportive conversations?  The benefits are huge – both for achieving high performance and maintaining it.  leadership conversations Continue reading


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Advanced Boss Taming: Better leadership from the ‘Ugly’ Boss

I’ve written about the good and the bad, then there’s the Ugly Boss. 

Which is why I was driving into the cold wet night to meet up with a client.  This boss believes that the carrot and the stick both work.  If you break the stick over a team-member, hit them with the carrot.

This boss doesn’t bother to find out what motivates his team.  He’s quite frank about it.  He simply doesn’t care.  He pays you to deliver and when you do he won’t congratulate you or give you the pat on the back you deserve.

Illustrations by Frits Ahlefeldt at

Illustrations by Frits Ahlefeldt at

He may deliberately (or unwittingly) practice ‘divide and rule’.  Belittle you because you’re his target this week.  Buy 2/3 of the team the latest laptop.  Leave the rest of you to struggle with new systems without the firepower or the back-up.  Continue reading

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The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of Leadership – Boss Taming part 2

On Sunday I posted part one of this blog – ‘Good Boss, Co-Create’ – now we begin to get into a little less comfortable area of leadership – so let’s see what we might do….

The Bad Boss – Check for Checks and Balances

I’ve got those Spaghetti Westerns cowboys in mind.  A rough figure in a poncho.  Sombrero tipped off his head, half-covering the rifle slung across his back.  Liable to pull it into action at any minute.  Or fire off from one of the pistols at his hips.cowboy

This is a sharp-shooting leader of my acquaintance.  Oh, and he’s a she.  Busy building her own career with the politicos and external stakeholders, she’s driving her posse from one poorly-thought-through project to another.  Continue reading

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Boss Taming – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of leadership

My alter ego is an ‘Emma Peel’ figure from the ‘60s British TV series The Avengers.  I see myself jumping into a red Mini Cooper, probably emblazoned with the motto “Coach on a Mission”.  I pack my Boss-Taming kit in the tiny boot, and deal with the good, the bad and the ugly of leadership.

The boss tamer's top hat

The boss tamer’s top hat

This is a longer blog than usual.  So I’m going to share it over three days – and give you time to think about the different elements. Continue reading


Is 2013 the year we successfully develop women leaders? Ten Top Tips

Thanks to the kindness of friends, we had a special treat of a week in Italy over the New Year.  It gave me time to read books and online newspapers that I didn’t previously have time for.  What I read made me feel confident that 2013 is the year we can really build on the collective knowledge that will enable us to develop more high-achieving women as leaders.

As ever, I must put in a disclaimer.  I know many supportive men who also want to encourage and enable women to succeed.  In fact, that’s one of my top tips below.  I also know many intelligent women who like working alongside great male colleagues.  So let’s not turn this into an either-or debate.  This is about celebrating the strengths of diversity in leadership – of every kind.

I’d also add that this blog is a little longer than usual.  So take that cup of tea, relax and enjoy.

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Why leadership coaching has outgrown GROW

    We had a great time last week working with business leaders, international consultants and HR professionals in developing their coaching skills.  Before people come on our workshops, the most common thing they ask is something like “I’ve already done some coach training – what’s so different about leadership coaching?”  The easy answer is “come and try it and find out” but there’s a longer answer too – something around the complexity of leadership, the impact leaders have, the need to engage effectively with, and deliver results through, others – for starters.

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Simpler Leadership – playing with infographics

In a recent blog I wrote about investing time to make life easier and how impressed I was by the Lexi infographics for the London Paralympics.  It didn’t take long for the complexity of the different classifications to make sense thanks to the systematic and simple explanations given and infographics used.  I was even more impressed when I heard it took a team two years to deliver the Lexi system, led by Paralympic gold medal winning athlete, Giles Long.  This is leadership at its best – really taking the communication challenge seriously, and investing time to get your message across clearly.  I was so impressed I’ve been reading whatever I can on infographics to understand this art.

Here’s something I put together today, in preparation for a business-building teleclass I’ll be running at the weekend for people either starting out or growing a business.

I used a trial software called piktochart – and it took about 90 minutes.  If you’re interested in the teleclass – just click on the image for more details


“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  Steve Jobs

It may feel like infographics are the responsibility of the design team, or the art department – but I believe that leaders have a responsibility to invest in communicating their messages simply and clearly.  As well as getting hooked on infographics, I’m also keen to find more great quotes about simplicity.  I’ve put a couple on the home page of the LeadershipZone website too – so if you come across a great quote on simplicity, please do let me know.  …and that piece of advice about using audio?  I’ll be piloting that on this blog in the coming weeks….