There is no such thing as Management

I was so pleased to see this post from David Goddin of Change Continuum.

My background in Boots, with a leadership approach founded in Steve Radcliffe’s ‘Future, Engage, Deliver’, taught me that leadership is everywhere. It’s not about title. It’s not about status. It’s about how everyone shows up every day. It’s about how everyone contributes for the same purpose. And it’s about how everyone takes responsibility for making things better. It’s also about everyone playing a role in supporting and developing others – it’s not just your manager / leader who should give you feedback on how you’re doing and the impact you’re having on those around you – for better or worse!

When I left Boots to start my business I was therefore stumped when trying to describe who I do what I do for.

I care about businesses being successful. I believe in that success being down to people. And I believe in managers / leaders being a critical part of creating the environment that allows those people to make success a reality. So I want to help managers / leaders create that environment.

And that’s where I got stumped about how to say who I work with. I want to work with MDs / CEOs of SMEs – they’re leaders of their business but they also have to manage day to day stuff.
I want to work with first line managers – they might manage more day to day stuff but they also have to lead their teams; always keeping them connected to the overall goals.
And then there are sometimes leaders / managers in the middle too.

I know there are a million leadership models out there but I do like a bit of Daniel Goleman’s leadership styles to describe this mix of doing, telling, listening, asking, collaborating and leading and that you can’t be all of one or another. It’s about the blend and adjusting to the context as well as to the person right in front of you.

So given all that, it would mean I work with ‘anyone who has responsibility for helping people do great things at work’!!! And that’s it but it’s not so catchy for a tag line or a business card!! Or for a job title!

Which must mean we need a new word for this THING…..

Greatness Creator
Potential Unleasher
Culture King
Success Helper


Don’t know. What do you think?


Ice Cold Coaching

I seem to be developing a blog-posting Disney theme…First the Lego movie then the Lion King one and now a bit about how coaching can help, thanks to the Frozen movie. It’s about the journey that I’ve experienced from being coached, as well as seeing clients have the same experience. And it can often start here….

“People make bad choices
If they’re mad or scared or stressed
But throw a little love their way
And you’ll bring out their best”

So true. Feeling mad, scared or stressed has our primitive brains on alert, blood flows there instead of our logical human brain, getting us ready for that (now unhelpful) fight, flight, freeze response. Not a state for good thinking or decisions.

Caring for someone as a unique human being who’s capable of amazing things will have them feel safe and valued and much more capable of being at their best. And this belief is what great coaching is based on. I’ve seen the difference it can make with clients first hand, and not just with them but also the difference they can then have on those around them.

And although not everyone shows extreme anger, fear or stress, people who benefit from coaching tend to be in a state of change….

“Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back any more”

Do you ever get to that point when things just get too much? When you reach a tipping point which pushes you into a state of change because staying the same is too uncomfortable? Our thresholds for when this happens are all different. And it’s not always a negative experience. Stepping into big positive opportunities can still feel challenging and uncomfortable even if we believe they’re the right thing.

At these times you have two choices. You can ignore the situation and hope it will go away – although if it doesn’t you might find yourself in the same place as the people at the start of this post. Or you can take positive action to change. And this second one is what coaching’s all about – to help you feel empowered and take control of the situation so that you really can let it go. I love being able to help people move from a state of ‘cluttered and stuck’, to ‘clarity, focus and mobility’.

Sometimes to start to make that change possible we need to get some perspective on it…


“It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small”

I find I sometimes have things buzzing round my head that feel big and difficult. And sometimes all I need is to talk to my coach about it – just talking it out loud is enough. And sometimes he helps me put this in perspective in the grand scheme of things. But sometimes I might just go for a quick walk or swim to clear my mind and let it run free for a while (and burn off some cake!).

How do you create space for yourself? When do you think about these things that are bothering you? Who do you talk to when you need perspective and objectivity?

Once you’ve got that you can move forward to think about possibilities, and what’s stopping you…

“It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong
No rules for me
I’m free!”

Doesn’t that just fill you with hope and possibility? Maybe you need to sing it to get the full effect!!

So creating new options and possibilities is part of finding a way through your change that helps you feel in control and liberated! But in doing this you sometimes bump into unhelpful rules which are stopping you.

We live our lives constrained by rules – from society, from our workplaces, from our families, and even from ourselves. It’s amazing how many of these rules and beliefs we hold in our head that we’ve collected through our lives. And it’s these that I’m really interested in because it’s about getting to the root cause instead of dealing with superficial symptoms – plus this can give you resources for life that last well beyond a coaching relationship.

You can usually spot these rules as the voice in your head that you hear just before you feel an emotion and take action. A common one is the rule that ‘everyone should be a good driver’ so that, when you’re cut up on the road, you feel anger and then act with swearing and gestures! A more helpful rule is one that says ‘some people are awful drivers’ – it makes for a much more positive response!

Do you know which rules you live by? How do they help you? How do they stop you?

So, you’ll have noticed that coaching has a lot to do with change – positive, future-focussed change. And yet, as the trolls rightly sang….

“We’re not saying you can change him
Cause people don’t really change”

And they’re right. We are each unique with our own one true version of us – and that doesn’t fundamentally change. But if you consider that you’re the DJ at the mixing desk of your personality, there can be aspects of ourselves that we can dial up and dial down to help us have the impact we want. And sometimes we might need to first reconnect with who our ‘one true version’ really is because it can get lost along the way.

What do you think makes you, you? What would others say? What would you want them to say? What could you adjust to be even better?


So, what about you?
– How do you feel about your business?
– What do you want to change?
– How will you create space for yourself to think about it?
– What possibilities are there?
– And what’s stopping you?
– What’s the best true version of you that will help you achieve what you want?

If these questions are resonating and you feel there’s lots more to say and resolve beneath them, then coaching might be just what you need to turn the change you want into an ice clear reality (well, I had to get one more Frozen reference in there!).

And if you haven’t seen the movie I’d recommend it, even if you don’t have kids, and especially if you love a bit of singing!

[Photo Credit:

CIPD NAP Coaching for business benefit and possibility

The blog squad have gone our separate ways and I’ve joined this session with Bernadette Cass of Heworth Associates and Peter Lumley of Realising Change.  Both are coaches.

Coaching can be amazing to give people space to think but we need this to also make a difference to a business – that’s what we’re going to hear about.

Bernadette speaking first, and being clear that it’s essential that a coaching contract is set up from the start of a coaching relationship to describe the purpose of the coaching – objectives & outcomes, measures of success.  Sounds so simple but her experience is that clients find this challenging.  Bernadette encourages the individuals and teams to find their own way to taking a coaching approach.  And then finds they deliver amazing things.

Her background is IT implementation and noticed that success was so varied across different parts of the organisation.  This led her to wonder how sustainable change happens.  She started to use coaching as part of her change toolkit because if she used it as part of the set-up, the change was sustained. A coaching approach…..

 Coaching Approach

But we also need to be clear on HOW we’re going to be in the coaching relationship – what is required for us to work effectively – what do we expect of each other, confidentiality, openness.

Case study – peers and team found it hard to work with a certain manager, turnover in the team was high.  But she didn’t accept that she was directive and hard to work with.  She saw she was effective and delivery focussed.  True but denying others’ perspectives of her.  She struggled to lead or influence.  This was stopping her career to get on the board.

Started by getting feedback from those around her which gave her clear and direct feedback.  This was followed by a 3-way conversation between her, her manager and Bernadette to be clear on purpose of the coaching.

The first session showed that her behaviour was meeting a need – a need for perfect work.  But it drove her to make her team feel de-valued for the work they were doing.  Her real intent was to do a great job.  By exploring how she wanted it to be instead, and the conversation around that, she shifted from ‘my role is to make these people to do a perfect job’ to ‘my role is to enable others to grow and develop to do a great job’ – she had a mission to leave a great legacy by working through others.

A result that surpassed expectations.

CIPD NAP Making a difference with systemic coaching & mentoring

The post-lunch session for me is about making a business difference with a systemic approach to coaching and mentoring. Being taken through this session by Lis Merrick, Linda Grant and Peter Callender from Coach Mentoring Ltd.

Starting the session with an energy builder, getting people up to speak to someone they don’t know and learn their story.

They’ve asked the audience to share what they want to get from the session but are being clear about whether they’ll achieve that in this session or not – or whether they might part-achieve it.

What is systemic coaching? – integral to the organisation – runs through the DNA, not an add-on, part of the structure, feeding through the strategy, creating benefit for the org, resourced (people and development budget) to make this all possible – more than just one small pool of people coaching – core to the values and behaviours of the org and which will be rewarded.

What actually happens – scattergun, quick fix, not linked to anything else (e.g. Leadership, talent, recruitment, reward), poorly designed programmes, no evaluation, just another initiative – a bit like doing a ‘meal in a shake’ weight loss programme vs changing your lifestyle, eating and exercise behaviours for life.

What gets in the way
Culture and political stuff – no senior sponsor, lack of ownership. What a difference if more than HR are saying this will be the right thing for the future.
Feels like something extra to do rather than being part of normal work life. An extra for just the manager to do. How can this just become the way things are done – different rather than more.
Cost and resource – an add-on. But only a cost if use external coaches and to develop coaching skills.
Seen as a remedial stick, or no clarity of its purpose it will lack support. Be clear on what you want to achieve with coaching and how.
Belief that you need to use restrictive models like GROW. But just a framework is enough and as coaches develop they’ll gain confidence to work with fewer models.

Examples of people doing some of this stuff
European Bank – 5 mentoring models for different audiences
WWF – coaching with a global population using internal coaches and supervision of those coaches via Skype by the Coach Mentoring team
ABN-AMRO – global mentoring approach and taking the time up front to plan for it, who will be involved, who will sponsor
Royal Society of Chemistry
McBride – started with coaching and have now branched in to mentoring. Using it for leadership and talent programmes.

Good practice in designing a systemic approach
Business Strategy informs the….
People Strategy which can be underpinned by….
Coaching and mentoring

Leverage factors
Clarity of purpose – which should be clear if you know how it fits with your strategy
Senior sponsorship
Selection of approaches – individual, team, organisational – mention for this report showing increase use of individual coaching
Ongoing education and supervision
Robust measurement – measures to evaluate that have been agreed and defined before you start anything else!
In house capability – to make it part of the culture – the system

Great to hear that Coach Mentoring recognise that for C&M to be successful systemically in an org it needs to be owned and ‘run with’ in the organisation. The external expertise provides supervision for internal coaches and input of new learning / CPD.

CIPD NAP 14 – Do you need to get out of your own way??

First session for me at the CIPD Northern Area Partnership Event with Lynda Holt, Director of Way Ahead is going to talk to us about whether we need to get out of our own way.  My own coaching practice is grounded in unblocking and unlocking people from the limiting beliefs they hold that get in their way so I’m really interested to hear what Lynda’s perspective is on how we stop ourselves being amazing!

Lynda starts by helping the audience notice that we can all be our own worst enemies.  We spend so much time at work – for ourselves or our our employer – that we need to make this time a ferocious adventure to avoid it becoming ‘same old, same old’.

Challenges make life interesting – they can also be scary, overwhelming, exhausting even.  But if they’re not that then we’re just existing, not living.

As human beings we all have fabulous ideas but we don’t always make them happen because our brain’s say ‘what I did yesterday kept me alive, so better do the same again tomorrow’ – and that’s our brain’s job to keep us alive!

Lynda has a belief that everyone has a unique purpose in life – none are better or worse than any other – the main thing is that it’s an important purpose for us.

Lynda has some myths to dispel –

1. Business leaders / owners succeed or fail – nope – we mostly settle and stay on our comfort zone and try and maintain that position.

2. If you are the best at your craft you’ll succeed – rubbish! – engaging clients and then selling (your products/services, yourself, your new policy!) will make you succeed.

3. I don’t have enough time / money. I’m not as well known / lucky – rubbish again! – it’s our brain deceiving us to keep us safe.  Daniel Goleman – “Man as an infinite capacity for self deception”.

Lynda knew her purpose – to help people shine brighter – when she was a young girl.  But then she got carried along on the treadmill of life – university, job……get married, have a child.  The final straw was that someone burnt some toast at the hospital and she got called in because they had to have a senior member of team on site to turn the fire alarm off.  Crazy bureaucracy!  Missing her child growing up. So she resigned.  And started doing what matters to her, what she cares about – her purpose.

So what excuses are you making for yourself?

Lynda’s KNOTS model –

Know what needs to be done but never quite get round to it.

Not enough money, not the right clients and always chasing work

Overwhelm, the running of your business and the enormity of your task has you paralyzed, simple jobs become huge tasks – this drains emotional energy and makes you feel…..

Tired and lack the passion and commitment to the business you once loved

Secretly you believe you should be doing better

Recognise any of this? How does this relate to your excuses you make to yourself?  Is there one or more that you recognise more than others?

Lynda believes there are only 2 reasons we get to this place –

LACK OF CLARITY about what matters and FEAR.

LACK OF CLARITY – as a baby we know exactly what we need – food, safety, love, to learn. And babies tell us – at 2 am!!  As we get older we can lose that clarity, chasing the wrong milestones – ‘I need to earn to pay the mortgage’.  If your house was burning, with nobody inside – are you clear on what you would save?  If not, the house will burn down around you while you figure out what to rescue.  What about with your life?  Are you absolutely clear about what matters to you?  What do you stand for?  What are you about?  What is it that happens when you believe someone’s over-stepped the line for you?  What triggers you into not being at your best?  Sometimes we need to track this right back to the source as we sometimes hide these things deep down.  And our discomfort comes from a mismatch between what’s going on in your life and what you really believe in; what you really care about.

Even once you’ve got ‘what’ matters to you.  Go deeper to ask ‘but why’.  And ask ‘why’ again.  Ask yourself ‘why’ 5 times to really get to the depths of what matters to you.  These are your values.

Once you’ve got there – raise your expectations and make a stand!

FEAR – it reduces creativity, it impairs decision making, it reduces flexibility – and millions of people are affected by it.  What are you scared of?  Don’t forget the things you don’t even like to admit to yourself.  Research in the 50’s shows that, even from early childhood, there’s an even split between those who are driven by fear of failure and those who are driven by achievement and success.  People like Richard Branson and Donald Trump are motivated by a fear of failure.  The directors of big orgs tend to be those who are motivated by achieving and who, now they’ve got there, can settle in a groove.

We have basic needs that drive our fears – we want to feel safe, loved, part of a pack.

Top fears of very successful entrepreneurs – not bright enough, not pushy enough, not as good as their competition, not enough money to start, preconceived idea of failure.

And remember if you try and say positive things, when really you’re afraid, others’ brains will notice this, won’t feel safe and will stop them connecting with you.

Have you seen a failure spiral before?  I’ll get a picture in here….. but we convince ourselves we’re not good enough, not going to succeed – we imagine it going wrong – we plan for that ‘oh it’ll be OK because….’ – we then project that negativity into the world – and guess what… comes true!!  Self fulfilling prophecy.

Think instead about times when you’ve felt amazing – you can do it.  Make that your reality you refer back to.

Lynda links all this through to 5 E’s –

Exclusivity – be clear about what matters to you and work to that, you’ll be at your best more

Expertise – not about lots of courses.  Sometimes we need to learn ‘stuff’ but most of what we need is within us – how we communicate and engage with others.  What do you have to offer to people you want to make a difference for?  What problem can you solve for them?

Exposure – how do you find those people you want to make a difference for/with – where do they hang out?  Is it networking – outside of HR events.

Engaging – connect with others and be useful to them before you try and ‘sell’ what you need them for

Everlasting – long-term constructive relationships with people who will pass in and out of your life, build the relationship so you become their go-to person

Maximise these E’s so the Excuses disappear and don’t get a look in.


1. Know your own values – really, really your’s. Not anyone else’s and not what you think they SHOULD be – and work by those

2. Accept responsibility for your fears – they’re your’s, you own them – you can do what you like with them.  Not necessarily easy but your’s to do something about

3. Do things that matter to you – can just be a little thing once a week

4. Mess up – even if you have a fear of failure, go for it because you’ll learn, you’ll realise nothing horrendous happens, and it’ll reduce your fear the next time.  But maybe don’t make mistakes on irreversible things like selling your house on a whim!  But give it a go.  Try new things. Rock the boat.  Turn negatives into positives and opportunities.

5. Take action – even if you’re scared stiff!!

Great session by Lynda.  And relaxed enough that the audience go involved as well as getting the chance for some self coaching.  Brilliant!