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Should leaders feel 10/10 all the time?

This happens more regularly than you might image - even with very successful people.

Getting promoted to a leadership role can suddenly make you feel a bit of self-doubt. You leave a relatively comfortable place, knowing everything and exactly how to get results. Then you find yourself managing other people’s workloads and it can feel like herding cats! This can make you feel wobbly and despair can set it. (It’s very common for this to come flooding in after the euphoria of promotion.)

The things is, that when this happens, if you have a helpful coping mechanism, you can learn to deal with it effectively. Being resilient is much more helpful that being perfect.

To quote a famous Caribbean Pirate “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.” Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean.

What do you do on a day when you feel like a five out of ten – or less? You need a way to bounce back up out of it!

A few years ago I had a major wobble and lost confidence – basically overnight! It was gone. It had leaked out of me somehow. I was distraught. I had to do some major rebuilding work, and quickly!

This is where I learnt some helpful techniques which I’d like to share with you. Firstly, it’s very important to remember that how you feel is separate from who you are! In more responsible jobs you can sometimes lose sight of the person you are because what you do feels all encompassing.

Sometimes it is also true that how it feels is not the same as the reality of the situation.

Being stressed or feeling self-doubt can make fear rule your decision-making. When this happens you can turn to a reactive approach. This can make you

  • Over-heated
  • Non-considered
  • Rash
  • Fast/Rushed
  • Accusatory
  • Justifying
  • Exaggerated

Responding is much healthier than reacting. Responding is better because it makes you less emotional and more effective. It is:

  • Considered
  • With breath
  • Questioning for evidence

It is a little known truth that as a human being – with practice, it is possible to be in control of what you think which leads to having more control over how you feel which in turn leads to better actions!

Useful questions are:

  1. What exactly am I feeling? (Fear, hate, rage, shock, bliss? By dealing with ‘knowns’ it is easier to find a suitable response.
  2. What reasons are there for me to feel this way? (What evidence is there?)
  3. What am I thinking to create this feeling?
  4. Have I examined ALL the facts? What evidence is there that I am seeing this accurately?
  5. Is how I am thinking creating the best result for me?
  6. What can I change about what I am thinking to help me be more effective?

The technique of putting space between who you are and what you feel is easier with practice. Think of yourself as a car and your feelings as a caravan. The car is harder to steer, heavier, uses more fuel and normally quite unpopular! The car is attached to the caravan. You can un-attach yourself from your feelings. As I often remind myself “Put the cararvan in the garden and look at it from the kitchen window!” It’s OK to have feelings but don’t attach and be those feelings. Look at them and separate yourself from them.

If you’d like to learn more about being an expert leader contact me. I’d love to hear from you. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 01323 332316. We do have a few spaces left at the Leadership that gets results Conference. Find out more by clicking here.


The reason our working lives can affect how we feel is because we generally receive a sense of recognition, achievement and praise plus social belonging and affirmation. These are high level needs which enable us to feel motivated.

During our working lives we fulfil these needs and are able to feel good about ourselves - all the time we can ‘do a good job’. Our sense of self and self worth is affected adversely if the working situation does not allow us to meet these needs.

Therefore if things at work are not going well it hurts us because we care about ‘doing a good job’.

Therefore it is important to practise the skills of noticing what you are thinking to control how you are feeling so that you can act effectively. You are able to choose what you think to help you feel great about what to do!


What leaders need to know about highly exceptional performance.

Have you seen this? How do highly successful people evolve to be the way they are?

One the people who has inspired me recently is Robin Sharma. I love his videos and his philosophy. He is famous for his excellent book “The Leader Without a Title”. He works with top CEOs, billionaires and high performers.

His I watched his recent video and it moved me so much that I just have to share it! I hope you can see something in it that helps you. The key messages from are here for you if you haven’t got time to watch it but I would like to suggest that it is a great way to spend a few minutes. So many things are out there to distract us and to inform us as the hi-tech world of accessible information grows and multiplies! It a challenge to be discerning. I sometimes feel I suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) whilst juggling with information overload!! The skill of discernment is a good one to build up to a high level to be able to focus in on what is flashing up in front of us at anyone time – what to notice and what to disregard.

The Sharma video is called “The Super Producers Secrets” - great title! Here’s what it says in a nutshell:

  • World class performance is a combination of inspiration and execution.
  • The execution is what separates exceptional achievers from average ones.
  • Execution is developed by mastering three aspects of performance: the philosophy, the psychology and the practise.
  • World class performers develop world class habits, rituals and routines.
  • There are 24 hours in everyone’s days but they use theirs more wisely.
  • Based on Anders Ericsson’s research (University of Florida) it takes 10,000 hours to become an exceptional master of a craft.
  • This 10,000 is spent installing habits, rituals and routines so that performance becomes easy.
  • It’s not just about talent, genius, or flair. It’s a about choices.
  • The work done installing these three elements of how to choose to behave are built in three steps: 1: the struggle and war of changing after deciding; 2: the dismantling of old behaviours; 3: automaticity
  • It’s not just about a mind set, which you read a lot about
  • It’s the behaving that makes the difference

Here’s the bit I loved the most: It’s easier to behave your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of behaving.

It’s about practising. Anders, and thus Sharma, says it takes 66 days to make a habit into automaticity. He says that we should start this today……

He goes on to explain in the video that:

  • He has a 20/20/20 system. This involves the first 20 minutes of your day getting sweaty in exercise, followed by another 20 minutes of journalling -re-writing your goals and activating that part of the brain which will help you notice the key opportunities: the reticular activator. Finally 20 minutes of gratitude
  • He also emphasises that learning is a game changer. Be ready to learn. Make time to learn. (When was the last time you did some personal development ?)
  • Then he explains the need to focus on the Daily five.- i.e. you five important outcomes you desire from each day that will help you move forward.
  • He also dwells on the need to exhibit acts of kindness to build self- esteem and to live a worthy life.
    • This short film really made me think. If you think along these lines and would like to develop exceptional leadership skills I’d love to talk to you: 07545217966

      Click here for the link to the film.


What do leaders need to know about success, happiness and performance?

Great leaders create a drive for excellence by using the link between success and happiness. Do you? My favourite TED talk features Shawn Achor explaining the link between success, happiness and improved performance. This is 12 minutes of pure gold! Well worth a look.

This has been profoundly effective as showing clients the importance of a positive attitude when improving performance. Leaders mainly do their best work (and most challenging work) when things need to change for the better.

The powerful learning described by Achor emphasises the findings from research on the brain and within organisations in 44 countries that a positive brain performs better. The positivity releases dopamine which switches on all the learning centres in the brain. This is well worth remembering!

As Achor speak so quickly you might like to be reminded of a few key points from his film:

  • • The lens through which you see the world shapes your destiny
  • • Your external world is can only predict 10% of your long term happiness (e.g. education, environment etc)
  • • 90% of your long term happiness is down to the way your brain processes
  • • Key indicators of happiness and success are your levels of optimism, your social support and how well you face stress as a challenge
  • • His research has provided a ‘formula’ to help people in education and industry to train their brains to be positive in the present so that they produce better productivity, better results and more success
  • • Focusing the brain to be positive in the present is a habit which can be learnt and practised.
  • • Doing this has proven to impact significantly on results

Here’s the formula to train the brain to be positive:

  • 1. Focus each day on three new things you are grateful for.
  • 2. Write about a positive experience each day that has occurred in the last 24 hours – it’s important to write about it (journaling)
  • 3. Exercise helps the brain – do some!
  • 4. Meditation – some moments of stillness helps the brain process more effectively
  • 5. Conscious or random acts of kindness – e.g. thanking someone, praising someone, saying /doing nice things.

A habit is something that forms if you do it for 2 minutes a day for 21 days in a row. Achor has evidence that this ‘formula’ has transformed business organisation dramatically.

So here’s something significant. How can you use this in your leadership approach?

I have always started any work I do with clients with a review of what has gone well. I had not fully appreciated why this was so helpful, but I can see that having a positive focus has always been very beneficial and helped clients really get into their learning. I know now that this is a chemical reaction in the brain which has helped the learning go well. I have started to share this Shawn Achor video with clients to explain the significance of this positive start to sessions.

In your leadership role, if you want someone to learn something then you need to achieve a positive focus to start with. Simple but helpful. This links very closely to the skills of providing effective feedback. Many clients I’ve worked with said they struggled with providing feedback to staff when performance has dropped. Knowing that starting with a positive focus could be the key to helping the individual learn to improve.

If you are keen to learn more about how to provide feedback I have a free masterclass video available here:

If you are interested I finding out more about leadership training and development or coaching for high performance then please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 07545217966.



What is an "Inspirational Leader?"

People often talk about leaders being an “inspirational leader” – but when you hear that, what do you understand that to mean? The dictionary definition is “to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative“ (Oxford Pocket Dictionary).

When has that happened to you? What was it like? I suspect you won’t remember the exact detail, but you will remember how you felt! Masses of experts have studied leadership. There is a great article this month in the Institute of Leadership and Management’s Offline magazine: “Edge” (NOV/DEC 2015) ‘It’s all just theory’ page 22. My understanding of inspirational leadership was refreshingly captured in this Forbes post: The 7 Secrets of Inspiring Leaders

A nice way to summarise what you need to do to become an inspirational leader is:

  • Earn trust
  • Have a clear plan and a clear purpose
  • Be optimistic
  • Be enthusiastic
  • Understand the ‘WIIFM?’ of your employees, e.g. job security
  • Paint a picture with true stories
  • Invite participation
  • Why is it important?

Stephen Covey (my favourite leadership guru) says: “My experience is that significant distrust doubles the cost of doing business and triples the time it takes to get things done. Trust is like a performance multiplier, enabling organisations to succeed in their communications, interactions, and decisions, and to move with incredible speed. A recent Watson Wyatt study showed that high trust companies outperform low trust companies by nearly 300%!”. He explains that this comprises two dimensions: character and competence.

Character includes your integrity, motive, and intent with people. Competence includes your capabilities, skills, results, and track record. Both dimensions are vital. The foundation of trust is your own credibility When a leader's credibility and reputation are high, it enables them to establish trust fast. How do you build trust?

    • Talk straight
    • Demonstrate
    • Respect
    • Create transparency
    • Right wrongs
    • Show loyalty
    • Deliver results
    • Get better
    • Confront reality
    • Clarify expectations
    • Practice accountability
    • Listen first
    • Keep commitments
    • Extend trust – you reap what you sow!!

The golden rule going forward – the one that can make the biggest difference in your organisation right now? Seek first to understand then to be understood. (Covey)

Add to this:

    • Fill a room with the right energy
    • Do the simple things right. Be present.
    • Be an excellent communicator.

If you’d like to become an inspirational leader then please get in touch. I have a few spaces left in my programmes for next year. Call me on 07545217966 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



What do Brilliant leaders do to grow their staff?


All coaches are leaders but not all leaders are coaches! It’s a theme I often bang on about!

The most impressive quote on leadership I have ever read and been inspired by is my favourite quote from Lao Tzu. He says:

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.

To read more Click Here

How does a leader achieve this? The answer is to use coaching skills. A really useful way to develop tis skill is to use the GROW model. This model helps with goal setting and problem solving and has been used in organisations since the 1980s. Graham Alexander, Alan Fine and Sir John Whitmore all made significant contributions to the development of this model.

I use it a great deal in my work and have helped organisations move away from a ‘telling staff’ culture, where learnt helplessness prevails and all the responsibility lies with one key ‘hero’ leader. This approach is not sustainable and can really dampen down motivation. It gives no opportunity for staff to develop awareness and responsibility.

With a coaching style of leadership the leader empowers staff to raise awareness and take responsibility to become excellent and effective decision makers. It is transformational.

By introducing this model across several aspects of an organisation there will be huge benefits. When done well it can lead to greater motivation and productivity, increased efficiency and massive time saving across the leadership team. Initially (as a new culture embeds) it will take time to create the rewards it brings, but stick with it and you will never look back!

The GROW model makes use of a dialogue between a leader and a member of staff. By asking the most suitable questions the staff member can solve problems and move forward with a sense of purpose and new learning. Coaching brings the best out in people and devolves responsibility down the organisational structure. (In isolation it can’t solve the world’s problems, but as part of a culture of transformational leadership it is a great way to start! (

The 4 elements of the GROW model are based on 4 key questions areas:

G= Goal: What is it specifically that you want to achieve? (Is it a ‘be’ or a ‘do’ or a ‘have’ goal?) Remember the SMART way to set goals (Specific, measureable, agreed, achievable and time bound) When will you know you have achieved it? What will success look like?

R = Reality: Where are you now with this? What experience do you have already? What skills & resources can you use? Who can help you? Who might have some information? What barriers might you have? Have you done anything already towards this? What worked well before? What doesn’t work? Use the SWOT model (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities Threats)

O= Opportunities: What can you do? In a safely imagined future what options are there? List them all - don’t judge anything at this stage? Use your creativity to really explore this bit? What would your hero do? What would the most amazing company in the world do? If you had the answer what would it look like? Rank the suggestions and evaluate their merits.

W= Way forward/What will you action? By When? Write down the commitments you will make to make your goal happen. Be specific and clear. Break down the steps.

See what benefits you can gain from implementing the GROW model. I’d love to hear how you get on! If you would like more information about how to develop coaching skills in your leadership role please get in touch. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 07545217966