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What has cottage cheese got to do with your leadership?

If you can answer that question I will be impressed! If you can’t, then make sure you read on!

If you do know the answer it probably means that, like me, you are a fan of the great book by one of my all-time gurus/ heroes, Jim Collins.  His famous books are renowned for being massive ‘go to’ references when leading an organisation from where it is, to where you really want it to be. His books are on the ‘must read’ list if you are serious about making an impact and achieving excellent results.

My favourite book - the one I encourage all my clients to get to grips with and apply the learning from - is “Good to Great”. It’s a truly helpful guide to what it takes to transform your business to the higher limits of success.

There are six key elements to the core principle of the ‘flywheel model’. I’m not going to go into the whole book now, but I do want to draw your attention to the key nugget I alluded to in the heading.

“What’s cottage cheese got to do with it?” I hear you cry!

Well it’s quite simple really. Collins tells the story of the impact of leadership and the matter of those disciplined people who make an organisation great.

This is not ‘discipline’ as you might think of it. More of a way of living which is built around habits, rituals and routines that drive excellence.

Collins explains that the business is driven by excellent systems, which in turn, are driven by the right kind of disciplined people, who think in the right kind of disciplined way and behave in the right disciplined way (i.e. take disciplined action).

One character Collins skilfully uses to illustrate the point of a disciplined approach is Dave Scott. Dave is a six times Hawaii triathlon champion. That’s no mean feat. Every day Dave cycles 75 miles, swims 20,000 meters and runs 17 miles. He is fit. He is serious about his craft. He practises it. A lot. He has no need really to watch his weight! That amount of activity will burn calories, no trouble. However, Dave pays attention to detail and is disciplined. He makes sure to rinse his cottage cheese to eliminate the excess fat. It’s the discipline of the habits, rituals and routines that he lives by. It’s harder for him to NOT be a master of his craft than it is for him to be it.

There is an important lesson here for all leaders who desire outstanding results. The clue is in the attention to living by the habits, rituals and routines. It’s not by chance that Dave can achieve consistently good results in a hugely demanding activity- because he doesn’t leave it to chance. Neither should leaders. We all can benefit from constantly improving the odds by working at those incremental subtleties that make the difference.

Here’s one - what about how you greet your team? How much attention to detail do you pay to the achievers and the not so good achievers? Do you swoop in like a seagull when things aren’t good, but fail to notice when great work is produced? Or do you avoid paying attention to detail to poor performance and hope it goes away? You know you need to relentlessly ensure that the quality of work it at the right standard – but when it’s not - what do you do about it? Now I’ve got you thinking about rinsing your cottage cheese I’d like to ask you to think about the very important skill of providing feedback to raise the performance of you team. Have you practised this enough? Do you feel like you are an expert at this now?

If you aren’t really confident to do this skilfully, I have something that could help. You can access my free 25 minute video masterclass on feedback skills.

It will give you a boost and ensure that you can use the correct habits, rituals and routines to manage any underperformance – plus to be sure that you can also pay attention to great performance too.

Next time you see some cottage cheese think of Dave and then think of your own disciplined approach. Good luck with your leadership and if you would like to discuss how to create the right habits, rituals and routines to take your leadership further, please do call. I’d love to hear from you. 01323 332316.

How do great leaders communicate? The power of the spoken word.

Everything you do as a leader comes down to this. Do you have all the skills?

Effective communication is essential, especially in leadership, yet how much time have your spent studying this? Many leaders leave it to chance. The most skilled ones have truly crafted this skill.

Last year I organised a conference specifically to help develop leadership skills and Claire Carpenter delivered a very powerful workshop to help improve leaders through the power of the spoken word.

Claire is an award winning public speaker and she coaches leaders on this crucial skill. (Details about the conference can be found at the end of the article). Claire’s workshop was a powerful lesson in key areas of effective communication. It was captivating. I loved her style and the way she brought everything back to the key point that communicating is about preparing! During Claire’s workshop she outlined a series of great techniques to build skills as a leader.

How many times in a day does your leadership work require you to communicate? The fact is, you cannot not communicate! At all times we are sending and receiving signals as human beings. Even when we are not speaking we are communicating. Highly successful leaders are masters at it! They develop their skills to maximise their effectiveness.

It’s well worth focusing on this element of your leadership as it impacts on some many levels.

Claire outlined the significance of charisma when communicating. Thousands of years of evolution have developed our brains to connect with charismatic people as part of our survival. Claire explained more about this in the workshop.

Gravitas is another key factor. How do you develop this – especially when you are not feeling powerful? Claire drew our attention to an excellent TED talk by Amy Cuddy on this. Here’s the link to this illuminating videoa. It’s fairly long (20 mins) but it does explain how our bodies can change our minds and our behaviour- well worth a watch if you have trouble feeling confident when speaking publically.

To create gravitas Claire highlighted the importance of the pace and the pause. You probably know from your own experience the times when you have switched off when someone talks at you in a massive rush and seems out of control!

Clarity was a key feature of the workshop and she explained the importance of structure and planning to capture your message in a nut shell. This section of her session was very helpful especially if you are holding a staff meeting to convey a key message.

Towards the end of her workshop we were all whisked off back to our childhoods and found with amazement that we could remember advertising slogans going back 40 + years due to the power of rhyme and rhythm. Do you remember “For mash get smash?” Anyway, the point was that these tricks work. Wherever you can it helps to build this in!

Finally Claire outlined the significance and the background of why story telling is so powerful when communicating.

In summary, Claire’s workshop was superb. If you weren’t there you missed a treat. However, it’s not all lost because we filmed her and we’ve made a transcript available!

You can access not only Claire’s excellent workshop on how to be a powerfully effective communicator but also all the other sessions from the conference. CLICK HERE to find out more.

If you would like to learn how to develop your leadership skills then please contact me. I’d love to hear from you. Please call 01323 332316/ 07545217966 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Will your team take you to the “Premier League”

What can Leicester City’s success teach us about business success?

Even if you are not a footy fan you may still have heard about the remarkable story of Leicester City this year. They have gone from about mediocre to outstanding in a short period of time.

It hasn’t been without hard work, but it has been against the odds. To avid football fans it has been a really uplifting story. No flashy, expensive players have been drafted in and stolen the show here. No, it’s much more impressive than that.

This team has played like a proper team. They have understood the key ingredients that go to make up a successful team. The results have been amazing.

This is disrupting the football market and creating results where they never thought it would be possible.

Could your team get these kinds of results? Are you leading as an expert so that your team can rise above mediocracy to excellence?

What is a team? A team, as a noun, is defined variously as a group of ‘players’ or participants who form one side in a competition or sport; or as a group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job, or project. As a verb, the word team means to come together to achieve a common goal. The key to all definitions is that a team will share a common purpose or goal to which everyone is committed. (source: Can you say this about your team?

One theory of team behaviour is by Tuckman. He defined the stages a team goes through until they reach the “performing stage”. When this happens the following is possible:

  • The team is more strategically aware
  • The team knows clearly why it is doing what it is doing
  • The team has a shared vision and is able to stand on its own feet with no interference or participation from the leader.
  • There is a focus on over-achieving goals, and the team makes most of the decisions against criteria agreed with the leader
  • The team has a high degree of autonomy
  • Disagreements occur but now they are resolved within the team positively, and necessary changes to processes and structure are made by the team.
  • The team is able to work towards achieving the goal, and also to attend to relationship, style and process issues along the way
  • Team members look after each other.
  • The team requires delegated tasks and projects from the leader
  • The team does not need to be instructed or assisted.
  • Leader delegates and oversees
  • Team members might ask for assistance from the leader with personal and interpersonal development.
  • Is your team truly performing?

    I work with business leaders to develop highly effective teams to create the results you desire so that everyone can have their Best Year Yet. This is a training a coaching programme which has proven to deliver outstanding results. Please contact me if you would like to develop your leadership and your team. I’d love to hear from you. I have a few spaces available from June. Coaching and training programmes are accredited by the Continuing professional Development standards office and count towards your CPD.

    01323 332316/ 07545217966 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What does a great leader do when facing adversity?

What are the vital ingredients that shine through when the challenges are immense?

Have you ever really teen tested as a leader? I mean really tested? What does a leader do when he/she is facing a massive hill to climb?

For most people living fairly average lives there is never a chance to fully understand what it takes to really dig deep and get right out of your comfort zone. Some people face adversity and they bounce right back out of it.

Some outstanding women I had the pleasure to meet recently wanted to understand what happens when you are really faced with adversity. They formed the amazing team called the Coxless Crew. A team of 4 women who wanted to experience huge adversity and to test themselves to understand what it’s like to be really in that place. They have a passion to raise funds for those people who face up to the challenge of hugely demanding circumstances. They were inspired through their various working lives by meeting cancer survivors and women returning from military service with severe disabilities.

They wanted to do something for them. They wanted to do something massive. They decided to row the pacific unsupported.

I was blown away by their story and fascinated to hear about what they discovered about themselves and about teams. All leaders have to understand teams in order to lead them effectively. There is some excellent learning here for all of us. The major takeaway from their inspiring adventure is that right at the heart of everything- right at the core of overcoming adversity and ensuring that they had a highly functioning team - were their values.

Please click through to their page and watch their short film. You will be inspired. If you do nothing else to develop yourself as a leader of a highly performing team then study your values and live them. Make sure your team understands this. The adventure the Coxless Crew went on was a success because of the way they lived their values. They were coached by a New Level Results coach leading up to the row and they accredit their understanding of their values to the Best Year Yet programme they carried out. If you’d like to find out more then please do get in touch. I work with companies to establish their values and to ensure they live by them. I’d love to help you.

email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01323 332316.>


Have you done any of it as a leader? What is it?

Most highly skilled and highly achieving people do this.  Do you?

CPD, Continuing Professional Development – here’s a run down of it.

"Continuing, because learning never ceases, regardless of age and seniority - Professional, because it is focused on professional competence in a professional role and concerned with - Development, because its goal is to improve personal performance and enhance the individual’s career”. Other names for CPD: PD and “Training and Competence”.

The difficulties/paradoxes within CPD:

  1. Compulsion or voluntarism
  2. Employer or individual responsibility
  3. Teaching or learning
  4. Personal development or organisational learning
  5. Life purpose or life experience
  6. Values-driven or pragmatic development
  7. Journey or exploration

Bodies which perform CPD: professional bodies, institutions, trade associations, trade unions and regulators. The purposes of these bodies: To connect people together around a profession, industry, activity or special interest. Professional bodies, institutes and trade associations principally exist to promote the skills and interests of their members as well as development  they offer opportunities to grow their profession or industry. Regulatory bodies are only present where there is a legal mandate to regulate a market. Their primary purpose is to serve the public and ensure that goods or services are up to standard. There are non-regulated areas which sometimes have councils to represent them.

The 3 types of CPD:

  • Input schemes: Requires a specific amount of some credits or logged hours across a specific time period by an individual.
  • Output schemes: Requires the planning and setting of learning goals which are specific to individual learning goals, which leads to training to achieving these goals.
  • Outcome schemes: This is a mixture of the other two methods. A variety of training activities are taken across a time frame and there is also demonstration of the learning that has been made and improved their practice.

CPD Apathy:

The CPD Research Project found that 90% of individuals in the UK have an apathetic and negative view of CPD and they say that the busy and chaotic lives of professionals means that they are too focused on their day-to-day responsibilities to be able to learn in formalised blocks. The CPD Research Project also estimate that despite this, 13% of the workforce is expected to undertake CPD, also that over 66% of training providers are not familiar with the CPD requirements within their client sectors. Also adding to CPD apathy is the sheer number of poor quality providers which have given many individuals negative experiences of CPD which reinforces the stigma around it. CPD should only be undertaken with an approved provider!

How is CPD beneficial to career advancement?

  • The CPD Research Project has found that the inclusion of and individual promotion of CPD on a CV dramatically improves career prospects.
  • Research has also shown that workers undergoing CPD generally display greater amounts of “work engagement” and commitment to their roles.
  • CPD schemes are purposefully structured to meet the needs of the individuals attending so that it can be tailored to them.

Types of accreditations:

  1. Generic accreditations:
    • The institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) is an awarder of qualifications.
    • Training Accreditation Programme modular qualifications are available from them.
  2. Specific CPD Accreditations:
    • Give awards for training within in a particular sector.
  3. Multi-disciplinary CPD Accreditation:
    • Awards which are recognised for multiple sectors or industries.
    • The CPD Standards Office: has standards for 4 specific areas
      • Training courses
      • Events
      • Online activities
      • Coaching

Accreditation can be used as differentiation between different CPD schemes. The clients can be sure that accredited training providers have been vetted and sure that has gone through rigorous checks.

From the paper “The Rise of CPD” from the The CPD Standards office.

The great news is that coaching is a very rewarding, stimulating and helpful method of improving your ability to function as a high performing leader.  If you’d like to find out more please call.  I am leadership coach - accredited by the Continuing Professional Standards Office - so your coaching hours count towards your CPD as a professional.Call 01323 332316 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.