Championship point

As I read a recent Harvard Business Review blog on overcoming resistance, I was reminded of the thrill of 07/07/13  at SW1 – the date Andy Murray won Wimbledon. Murray certainly had to overcome resistance that day; as he clearly acknowledged on the day he could not have achieved it without his team. A strong team of people with different skills and one shared goal.

Having got to championship point (which he did three times before finally winning!) he was not only facing the resistance of Djokovic but his own emotions and self-belief. Murray fans were well aware that it was these that had let him down in the past. Read more

Coasters – serving up success

Coasters is a story of business success and resilience. It is a resilient, strong business and a great restaurant with an informal and relaxed atmosphere. I wrote about some successful businesses in my blog of 26 June and here is the story of one. Based on conversations with Pete & Olly (the owners) this tells how they have built up and sustained the business over the last 7 years.

Read more

Southwold rides the waves

Whilst in Southwold (Suffolk) I spotted a number of resilient   businesses riding the waves of change in the face of new challenges. They are different – in terms of size, ownership, age and what they offer – the old, the new and the expanding. Yet it was easy to spot similarities.

  • Valuing the customer
  • Adapting their services to meet customer needs
  • Listening and responding to the customer
  • Professional, dedicated and friendly staff

Read more

All Change at Kings Cross

kings-boulevard‘Looking back and looking forward’

Change is all around us. Take a look behind Kings Cross and you will see major re-developments. As I walked along King’s Boulevard I was fascinated by the weaving together of the past, the present and the future.

The walls are adorned with stories from Kings Cross past: the steam age, Bodecia’s final resting place (under Platform 9) and titles of jobs long gone. The present is a hive of activity: new buildings going up and an invitation to ‘name a street’. Looking forward: businesses and homes that will offer now opportunities and create their own stories.

Change needs to look both back to celebrate what has gone and look forwards to create a shared vision for the future., while engaging people in the present. King’s Boulevard is currently designed as a thorough-fare and also as a place that will interest and excite.

This reminded me of the major change project that the Royal Shakespeare Company undertook by closing their theatres and undergoing a major re-build[1]. Throughout this project they actively looked back and looked forward. The new theatres opened in 2011 and were immediately nominated for an international architectural award. To this day their skill at engaging key stakeholders in the change project is paying off – both financially and artistically.

In our working lives we are constantly facing change. I invite you to reflect on how looking back and looking forward can support you, engage others and excite those you serve. It makes financial sense and can offer opportunities to celebrate success.

The Chance of 365 gifts

“To-day is a gift. That’s why they call it the present”

Babatunde Olatunji (Nigerian drummer and musician).

What do you do with a gift? Feel excitement and anticipation, handle it with care as you unwrap it? As the gift is revealed you may look forward to the pleasure to be gained from this gift.

To fully enjoy the gift of to-day we need to be present – fully in the ‘here-and-now’ enjoying the moment, paying attention, really listening and experiencing what is around us.

Too often our hectic pace of life with some many competing demands can detract us from the present.

Step back – just for a moment – and appreciate the gift of to-day. If we are able to enjoy each day as a gift, that’s 365 gifts a year!

Personal resilience – a new book

I am pleased to be able to share with you a new book on Personal Resilience. Below is a short piece by the author, John Edmonstone. John has vast experience in the healthcare sector and academia; plus he is a great Bob Dylan fan!

Both Mike and myself have had the pleasure of working with John and we are looking forward to reading his new book. Over the coming months the three of us will share more with you about the book. Read more

Behind closed doors

Ever wondered what goes on behind the closed door? Well in this book you are invited in to share some revealing inquiry into the coaching relationship.

The book is grounded in deep inquiry; each coach sets out to reflect on an aspect of their work and to actively engage the client in the process. The result is an exploration of the coaching relationship from various perspectives.

This book will be integral to the forthcoming Ashridge conference on relational coaching, where I am thrilled to have the opportunity to talk about my inquiry into relational coaching for resilience.

Details of the Ashridge conference can be found here.

You can find my review on Amazon here.

Making leaders of staff and patients

In her recent article in the Health Services Journal (17 May 2013), Juliette Alban-Metcalfe provides strong arguments for shifts in leadership behaviour that can contribute positively to the services for mental health patients.

A key point is that:

“leaders need to relinquish some of their ‘expert’ status and work in a coaching and collaborative style.”

I would strongly suggest that this is true in all businesses. The evidence is clear that a more engaging leadership style has many positive benefits for individuals and for businesses (Table 1).

Table 1: Engaging leadership – WHY?
Engagement is great for individuals:

  • Job satisfaction and motivation
  • Reducing stress and improving well-being
  • Creating fulfilment and self-confidence


Engagement is great for business:

  • Improves customer satisfaction
  • Enhances retention and loyalty
  • Improves productivity and profitability
  • Encourages proactivity and innovation

Prof Bev Alimo-Metcalfe, September 2011

So how can a shift to engaging and collaborative leadership be achieved? Leaders need to change their behaviours and followers need support in working differently; certainly coaching behaviours can be very helpful. Here are a few simple steps that draw on basic coaching.

  • Asking questions: in both 1-1s and team meetings seek opportunities to ask more open questions; you can build on initial responses by encouraging people to develop initial ideas. DeBono’s 6 hats can offer a good way of playing with different types of questions: lets just take two examples:

White Hat thinking


This covers facts, figures, information needs and gaps. “I think we need some white hat thinking at this point…” means ‘let’s drop the arguments and proposals, and look at the data’. It directs attention to available or missing information.

The questions that encourage this type of thinking are:

  • What information do we have?
  • What information is needed?
  • What questions should we be asking?

 Red Hat  thinking


Red – like fire – suggests warmth. This covers intuition, feelings and emotions. The red hat allows the thinker to put forward an intuition without any need to justify it. “Putting on my red hat, I think this is a terrible proposal.” Usually, feelings and intuition can only be introduced into a discussion if they are supported by logic. Usually the feeling is genuine but the logic is spurious. The red hat gives full permission to a thinker to put forward his or her feelings on the subject at the moment.

  • Listening: taking time to listen and providing space for others to speak are vital in encouraging people to get involved, put forward ideas and get involved.
  • Space to work together: time to tackle those ‘sticky’ problems is essential and can offer real opportunities to get people working together and generating and trying out ideas. The benefits can include better team work, creating new relationships and finding solutions to old problems that people have ‘learned to live with’.
  • Trust and excitement: these are key emotions associated with engagement. Generating trust and excitement in the workplace is fundamental to a high performing team.

In your workplace why not try out these ideas, or tell me of ways that worked for you …. I will then share your ideas in a future blog. Let me know if you would like more about DeBono’s six hats – we can take a look at all six if people are interested.

CIPD Centenary Anniversary


Last week I went along to the West Yorkshire CIPD[1] celebratory event, held at Huddersfield University Business School. The CIPD started 100 years ago not too far from Huddersfield. At the Rowntrees factory in York the Welfare Workers group was established, and over the years this has developed into the CIPD. The founding belief was that a well workforce is a productive workforce.

How amazing that we have now come full circle and that this is the underlying message of so much current research into engaging leadership and employee well-being.

Peter Cheese, CIPD Chief Executive, was the keynote speaker and reviewed the current business environment, typified as it is by uncertainty and volatility. He made a strong argument for HR playing a key role in building trust in a workforce, based upon values that are both clearly stated and obvious through behaviours at all levels. He stated that behaviours and attitudes are now as important as knowledge and skill – IQ versus EQ. Basically, I agree with this, although I would go for an IQ + EQ view of the world.

One of his points was about the key role of social media. Many of you will know that the CIPD are passionate about encouraging mentoring. What I certainly didn’t know is that the CIPD CE is being mentored by a 22 year old, as a way of learning more about social media and its increasing application in the workplace. His point, quite rightly, is that the young people who businesses need to attract and employ are much more savvy with social media, and to be effective businesses need to be able to use social media. That means people like me – you? – learning from our younger colleagues and friends. Me a Luddite? Sorry not the time, I must check my Twitter account!

It was a great evening with a real celebratory feel. If you thought about attending and didn’t – you missed the best chocolate brownie pudding imaginable!


[1] CIPD – Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Team resilience & leadership, Yorkshire

Yorkshire women grow their resilience

It was a calm evening, with a beautiful sunset over Leeds, as the Yorkshire Women in Management group met to discuss the topic of ‘growing resilience’. Mike and I were pleased to be able to present our research into resilience and explore, with a lively group, the practicalities of growing personal, team and business resilience.

Having explained our approach to resilience and the research underpinning our model, we took the opportunity to engage small groups in talking about their personal strengths that have sustained them through tough times. A comment was made about how rare it is to have the space to reflect, both on what has happened and how one has coped. Too often we are so busy just ‘doing’ we do not take the time to acknowledge what we have achieved and to think about our strengths. And yet, in future situations, it may be these strengths that will enable us to support both ourselves and our colleagues. Read more