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Posts from the ‘Managing Ourselves’ Category

VUCA Times Call for DURT Leaders

August 13th, 2016



by Jon Mertz

The first time I saw the word ‘VUCA’ I had no idea what it was. A quick Google search produced the answer. VUCA means: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. Simply stated, this is the world we live in today!

It is a valid description of what happens in our business and economic environments. Technology drives volatility and complexity. Economic and political conditions create uncertainty. All of this is wrapped in ambiguity. At times, there seem to be so many trends happening at once that trying to grasp it all while determining a reasonable path forward seems nearly impossible.

But in what seems impossible, what is possible begins to bloom.

Don’t Be a VUCA Leader
One thing that’s absolutely unambiguous about VUCA is that you do not want to be described in this way.

If you are a volatile leader, your changing and erratic behaviour will drive good people away.

If you are an uncertain leader, your changing directions will frustrate people and lead them to question your capabilities.

If you are a complex leader, no one will get to know you or understand your expectations.

If you are an ambiguous leader, your lack of clarity in what is expected will stymie people’s performance and quickly lead to disengagement.

So VUCA is obviously not a desirable leadership trait. Leaders need to be Reliable, Trustworthy, Direct and Understandable. That’s a poor acronym unless we rearrange the letters to DURT – Direct, Understandable, Reliable, Trustworthy.

In VUCA times, leaders need to get their hands dirty. They need to plant seeds for growth. In VUCA times, leaders need to cultivate talent, harvest what is planted and always prepare for a better day ahead. In fact, VUCA and farming have a lot in common. There are many uncontrollable elements in producing a bountiful harvest, yet we control what we can and work through what we cannot.

Be Direct in complex situations: transparency and open communication builds trust.

Be Understandable in ambiguous situations: clarity in purpose, direction and responsibilities empowers others.

Be Reliable in volatile situations: follow-through on what’s been said and agreed accelerates positive momentum.

Be Trustworthy in uncertain situations: invest in people, involve partners, seek to understand and act with respect.

The point in all this is to raise your leadership game in times of VUCA rather than matching VUCA circumstances with VUCA characteristics.

How to Be a DURT Leader in VUCA Times

1. Know your guiding leadership philosophy. In VUCA times, it is vital to have firm foundations. A leadership philosophy will keep you centred as a leader and will also serve as a guiding force. Knowing how you want to lead will keep you leading in the way you intend to when all around you is in chaos.

2. Create effective listening posts. Listening is fundamental to understanding what your next move should be. Listening posts should include various stakeholders: team members, customers, investors, suppliers and other stakeholders. But taking information in is only the first part. Understanding what it means is where the real value lies.

3. Encourage diverse thinking. Just as your listening posts need to be diverse, so do the talents you engage to analyse, solve and act. VUCA calls for diverse thinking. Exploring all the options demands out-of-the-box thinking from out-of-the-ordinary people. A mix of perspectives and experiences will always enhance how to solve a problem and how to craft a new strategy. Don’t seek sameness. Don’t just work with people like you.

4. Envision what the ‘other side’ could look like. VUCA can create a swirl of activity. But this doesn’t always build momentum. To gain momentum, a vision of what the other side of uncertainty looks like will help plan how to reach this new point of inflection. The reasons to not remain where you are may be strong but they also need to be clear. Communicating why we can no longer stay put and do what we always have done is essential – so is communicating what a new future can look like. None of this will happen overnight, so keep communicating throughout the process.

5. Develop an ‘offense’ while maintaining your core. Whatever is core to your business cannot, and should not, be jettisoned in the movement from where you are today to where you need to go in the future. There is a balance point. The ‘old’ business provides the cash flow, customers and brand to build the ‘new’ business. At the same time, the old business cannot be the albatross to prevent the development of the new strategy.

A good offense always engages in a good defence. As a leader, a new offense needs to be communicated with clarity. While the new offense needs time to develop and unfold, maintaining the core business will ensure the new plans have time to take hold and produce success. Achieving the right give-and-take in the planning is the leadership challenge and necessity.

6. Shift your perceptions of success and failure. So-called success may breed complacency and rapid obsolescence. So-called failure could provide necessary learning for future improvements and innovation.

7. Teach everyone coaching skills. With a little guidance, people can get better at listening, asking questions to help generate insights, creating action plans that align personal and business objectives and holding people accountable for actually doing what they need to do.
In uncertain times, everyone – especially leaders – needs to develop the ability to adapt and stay afloat even if the tides are shifting and the rules of the game are changing. A combination of intellect, intuition and experimentation is needed to read the signals and course correct when required. Leaders must also have the courage to admit what they don’t know, and seek out advice, help and alliances. And remember, what worked well yesterday will not necessarily work well today or tomorrow. Stay awake and you can ride the VUCA wave and not just survive, but thrive.

Jon-MertzJon Mertz is a leadership strategist and the founder of Thin Difference, an online forum dedicated to empowering Millennials to be better leaders, build stronger teams and create richer lives. He is a former Vice President of Marketing at Corepoint Health and has also worked for Deloitte, IBM, and BMC Software.

The Academy for Chief Executives is a leading executive coaching and mentoring organisation working with business leaders and their teams throughout the UK.

Member companies collectively turnover £3.5 billion per annum and on average employ 75 people each. &

To find out more about membership of the Academy for Chief Executives contact us on: 07714 246509 or

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100 Jobs of the Future

March 29th, 2016



A new report from BrightHR, a ‘A Future that Works’ , investigates how workplaces will evolve in the future and key trends that are likely to emerge to affect all of us. Its key findings include the claim that a fifth of workforce tasks are expected to have an element of robotics in them by 2020 and that a third of UK jobs are under threat from automation.

But while job substitution by machines is always alarming for those caught up in it, we have always been able to adapt and find new roles for ourselves.  So looking forward, what sort of jobs can we expect to see in two decades’ time? A Future that Works suggests 100 new roles – some inevitable, others perhaps more fanciful. But all of them should give us food for thought about the opportunities these might represent.

Information &  communications

Personal Entertainment Programmers

Complexity Analyst, Gaiantologist


Human to Machine Interface Controller


Data Miner

Waste Data Handler

Social Network Analysts

In-House Simplicity Experts

Global Work Process Coordinators

Privacy Protection Consultants

Complex Security Integrators

Chief Networking Officer

Virtual Clutter Organizer

Machine Linguist

Off-the-Grid/off-the-Net Facilitator

Mind Reading Specialist

Quantum Computing Specialist

Media Ethicist

Designer of Advanced Interfaces for Ambient Intelligence systems

Knowledge Guide

Knowledge Broker

Professional VR Citizen

Virtual Lawyer

Virtual Property / Home Owners’ Association (HOA) Managers

Intelligent Agent Designers

Avatar Manager / Devotees

Network Relationship Counsellors / Therapist / Designer

Virtual Police

Virtual Personal Shopper






Robot Designers / Trainers

Robot Mechanic

Robot Counsellors

Dirigible Pilot

Alternative Vehicle Developers

Teleportation Specialists

Solar Flight Specialists

Infrastructure Specialists

Monorail Designer



Spaceline Pilots

Spaceport Designers

Space Tour Guides

Space Architect

Terraformer of the Moon and Other Planets

Astrogeologists, Astrophysiologists and Astrobiologists



Population Status Manager

Personal Learning Programmer

Societal Systems Designer

Social ‘Networking’ Worker

Intelligent Clothing

Designer / Engineer

Ghost Experience Assistant

Personal Branders

Socialization/Culturalisation Therapists

Enhanced Games Specialist



Biorefinery Operative

Wind Farmer

Battery Technician

Insect-Based Food Developers, Chefs, Nutritionists

Chlorophyll Technician

Fusion Engineers



Resource Use Consultant

Vertical Farmers

Climate Change Reversal Specialist

Drowned City Specialist

Quarantine Enforcer

Experimental Petrologist

In-Company Sustainability Coordinator

Weather Modification Police

Consumer Energy Analysts

Water Traders

Desert Land Rights Trader

Climate Change Compliance Auditor

Business Consultant for Climate Change Compliance

Recycling Analyst


Medicine, biology and biogenetics

Genomics Developer / Architect / Baby Designer

Body Part Maker

Personal Enhancement Advisors


Synthetic Life Designer / Scientist / Engineer

Chief In-Company Health

Enhancement Officer

Telemedicine Technician

Farmer of Genetically Engineered Crops and Livestock

In-Company Gene Screener

Biometric Identification Specialist



Experimental Therapy Experts

Old Age Wellness Manager / Consultant Specialists

Personal Body Weight / Obesity Consultant

Memory Augmentation Surgeon

‘New Science’ Ethicist

Genetic Hacker

Longevity Providers

Cryonics Technicians

End-of-Life Planner


Download the report:

About the authors

Lynda Gratton

“The Hot Spots Movement is a specialist research and consulting team founded by Professor Lynda Gratton of the London Business School, a leading expert in organisational behaviour and a world-renowned speaker on the future of work. The team works to identify where companies can future-proof their working practice, in order to foster innovation and enhance performance.”

David Smith

“A futurologist, and Chief Executive of GFF – a strategic futures research organisation, David Smith’s 30 year diverse business career has made him recognisable as one of the world’s leading futurists and strategic thinkers.David prepares views of the future on many topics including the Travel and Tourism industry, the world Insurance markets and visions of the future for government, the food, real estate, information technology and communications industries.”

Case Study: Family Dynamics

February 18th, 2016


Alastair Soper

Alastair Soper

Interview by the Academy for Chief Executives

What’s the background of your business?

Hallis Hudson is a family-run national wholesaler and distributor of soft furnishing fabrics, blinds, tracks and curtain poles that was founded by my grandfather. In 2014 (after 14 years in the business) I was appointed Managing Director, and my father became Chairman.

Are there any other family members in the business?

Yes, my brother Russell is a Director of the business and is involved in new product development and marketing.

How was it decided that you would take the MD role rather than your brother?

We both have quite different skill sets and it was simply that I’m more suited to the MD role. Our actual job titles are almost irrelevant in a way. We have different skills that complement each other, and we play off each other’s strengths.

How does the dynamic work between you, Russell and your father?

There is certain creative tension between the three of us. It’s also fair to say that I have a closer working relationship with my dad. I see my role as custodian of the business to ensure that it is passed on for future generations. As such, I tend to take a more measured and evolutionary approach, incremental rather than sudden change. Russell’s role is more creative, so his outlook is more likely to be influenced by external factors. I’m less risk-averse than either Russell or my father. This can result in a certain level of conflict at times.   

What role do you play within this dynamic?

Part of my role is to help manage the balance between the three of us. Whilst on the one hand it’s important to make sure that the business doesn’t expand too quickly, we have to ensure that we adapt to changing market conditions and remain competitive. It’s all about ensuring that each side understands the pros and cons of what is being brought to the table.

That said, my dad has always been dynamic and stood firm in the belief that if you don’t change the business, it will eventually die, so it’s more a question of balancing the pace of change.

We also work closely with an external financial consultant, who acts as an extension of the family in some ways. He knows and understands us very well and can offer an objective sounding Board, and challenge us as necessary. He can also help us to navigate potential areas of conflict or disagreement.

How does the Academy help you with the typical challenges of managing a family business?

I was a member of the Directors’ Forum 13 for five years, before joining Peter Hills’ group, ACE 18 in Manchester, in January 2014. Both groups have helped me change and navigate my way through a variety of issues, particularly since becoming Managing Director. There are a couple of other family businesses in my Group and this is very helpful. As much as anything it’s nice to know that others deal with the same issues that we face.

The Academy has also really helped my understanding of the dynamics of effective communication, in particular the importance of understanding the position of others before you try to resolve an issue or make a final decision.

How’s it going with the transition of your father to his new role as Chairman?

As it progresses, the transition gets better every day. This journey will take as long as it takes – it’s not like flicking a light switch. Again, it’s a question of getting the balance right. It’s important that I own the position of MD, but at the same time I’m conscious of the fact that my father is hugely experienced and that there are still things that I can learn from him.

We did try to create a job description for him but that didn’t really work! So it’s more of an informal evolution, with my focus on the day-to-day running of the business and my father’s focus on strategic direction and making sure the business delivers a return.

What has been one of the most challenging issues of being in a family business?

In any family business the blurring of boundaries can become an issue; for example, there was a period of time where I continued with my previous job of Operations Director whilst also taking on the MD role. In essence, I was doing two jobs over this period which wasn’t always effective and also put me under a certain amount of personal pressure.   We have now asked the senior management team to all step up to each fulfil a little part of my old role.

Email to find out more about Academy membership.

Top Tips: Secrets of a successful remote team

January 22nd, 2016



It’s increasingly common to work with people who you’ve never met or who may be in a different town or even be a different time zone. Working in a remote team isn’t intrinsically more difficult than working with people who are sitting across the room from you, but it is different and it does demand some adaptations.

Here are seven key factors to take into account.

Don’t treat remote employees and in-house staff differently. Some employees may be slightly jealous or even resentful of employees who get to work from home. Remote employees may feel that in-house staff receives more perks (eg, catered lunches and social functions). You will exacerbate the problem if you treat the two groups differently, so ensure that you are assigning equal, fair workloads, offering the same perks and benefits, and creating learning and growth opportunities for everyone.

Communicate! Remote workers lack those ‘water-cooler’ conversations that give people an opportunity to bounce ideas off one another outside the context of a formal meeting. Your remote team members need to be encouraged to do the same things. Pick up the phone and call another team member to discuss a potential idea. Use tools like Skype, Google Hangouts or any other video-conferencing software to keep them in the loop.

If you leave employees in the dark, they will soon feel confused, isolated and even angry. Make sure that you are updating virtual employees of any changes, decisions or plans that affect them. And make sure you do it before they hear the news from someone else.

Remember, when people work remotely, they rely on their managers for the context they need to work effectively. What might be seen as over-communicating if you were all in the same office can be critical information when someone is working at home on the other side of the country.

Be responsive. If you force employees to wait for your response or help, they lose precious time. Worse, they may opt to go above your head for answers. And if teammates constantly slow progress because they don’t respond quickly enough, it is frustrating for everyone involved. Set a ground rule that every team member, including you, must respond to one another within 24 hours, even if that is to say nothing more than “I got your message, and I will follow up no later than …”

Strike the right balance of meetings. Too many meetings are overkill and are a huge drain on productivity. However, if you aren’t scheduling time for the entire team to connect and collaborate, employees will become distant and teamwork will suffer. In addition, you need to make sure that you are talking one-on-one with each of your virtual staffers at least weekly to check their progress, troubleshoot problems they are having, and update them on any developments or changes.

Evaluate how the team is functioning. You need to take time to assess how well the team is communicating, collaborating and problem solving. Schedule a team meeting at least quarterly to analyse your productivity and performance and to establish plans for making needed improvements.

Get to know your remote workers. Employees want to know that you care about them as people, not just as workers. It’s harder to do that when you never see them. Don’t forget to learn about remote workers’ families, hobbies, interests and lives outside of work. A little small talk at the beginning of each call or meeting offers you an opportunity to build relationships with and among your staffers and will make them feel more connected to the organization.

Support your managers. Any organisation with remote staff or virtual teams needs to support the people who are expected to manage them. So you need to do more than simply hand a list of employees to managers and expect them to figure it out for themselves. They’ll need help to recognise the similarities and differences between the way we’ve worked traditionally and the new world of virtual work.

Similarly, organisations need to provide the technology and tools to achieve the goals you’ve set. You can’t hold people accountable for failure if you’re not giving them the tools they need to do the work.

Finally, create expectations for remote team leaders that reflect the way they function. “Management by walking around” is fine, but it’s a long walk to Bangalore. Yes, the work appears the same. But there are skills that are unique to that environment: appropriate use of technology, ability to engage employees, managing performance from a distance all need to be built into the way we choose, assess, coach and promote managers.

Wayne Turnel


Wayne Turmel helps companies and their people learn the communication and presentation skills to sell, train, present and manage their teams using any web presentation platform. He is the founder of, a co-founder of The Remote Leadership Institute and the author of Meet Like you Mean it, a book that helps virtual and remote teams collaborate more effectively.

The Science of Success

November 19th, 2015


 11-002By Brian Mayne

“If you think you can, you can”! Hearing seemingly simple quote by Henry Ford turned out to be the greatest turning-point of my life.

I was 30 years old when I first really heard those words. I had heard the saying before, of course, as I expect you have, but I had not understood the great depth of wisdom that it represents.

At the time I was unemployed, my family business had gone bankrupt, I was £1,000,000 in debt, my home had been repossessed and my wife had left me.

On top of all that I had grown up in a travelling fun-fair family and never attended a regular school. I struggled with learning problems and dropped out of education at 13 with no qualifications and barely able to read or write. Despite this, I did enjoy success through my teens and into my twenties with the family entertainments business and disco I operated with my brother. But when this all came to an end in the early 1990s, my life came crashing down.

It was at this seemingly dark hour in my life, when I thought I had lost everything, that a light shone and I discovered the greatest treasure: I was introduced to the science of positive-thinking and the art of effective goal-setting.

We hear a lot about the benefits of positive thinking and the importance of setting goals, but few of us understand the science behind positive thinking or receive proper training in effective goal-setting.

When you choose to focus your mind on the positive, whether about yourself, your life, or any aspect of it, you help trigger the release of a feel-good chemical in your brain called serotonin. As well producing positive emotions, serotonin is also the chemical that helps to form more connections between your brain-cells, which in turn helps you to use more of your brain.

In recent years, science has made amazing new discoveries about how the brain works. However, the fundamental principles of positive-thinking and success have been known for thousands of years.
In the 3rd Century BC, the Indian sage Patanjali said: ‘When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive and you discover you are a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.’

The above statement was true more than 2000 years ago when Patanjali wrote it. It continues to be true now. And it will still be true in another 2000 years. It is an example of a ‘fundamental truth’ and fundament truth is eternal.

The latest area of neuro-science is called ‘neuro-placidity’ and is all about how flexible the brain is. It shows that when you set a ‘compelling goal’ your brain-cells respond and are stimulated to make new connections that support you in the achievement of your goal.

Scientists continue to debate and discover which parts of the brain do what. However, it has long been understood that we have two halves to our brain and generally the left-brain is predominantly logical and the right-brain is more creative. We all think in both ‘words’ and ‘pictures’. We are each able to hold a vision of our desired destination with our right-brain, and make a logical plan of how to get there with our left-brain. We can each choose to be our own leader as well as our own manager. And to be truly effective in our life, we need to use both.

Positive thinking and goal-setting are a virtuous circle because they stimulate you to use more of your brain, and by using more of your brain you find answers to your problems. Meanwhile, through the release of the feel-good chemical serotonin, you also find the courage to face your fear and the motivation to take your new idea and take a brave step forward towards putting it into practice.

It was through this realisation, coupled with setting myself a goal, that I gradually stimulated the brain-cell connections that helped me overcome my dyslexia and learn to read well. Learning to read at 30 years old was such an amazing experience that I dedicated myself to learning as much personal development and practical brain science as I could. I re-educated myself in the school of life and applied the principle of success I discovered to pay off my debts and build a new life for myself teaching others what I had learnt.

Now, 20 years later, my books have been translated into many languages and I travel the world sharing my whole-brain activation systems for success. In particular Goal Mapping has reached millions of people, helping them to turn their dreams into realities.

The system works because of its unique combination of words and pictures that stimulate whole-brain activity and command the subconscious autopilot to move you towards the achievement of your goal.

More than 900 teachers, trainers, coaches and therapists of all type have chosen to become Certified in teaching the Goal Mapping system around the world.

Goal Mapping has reached more than 3,000,000 people helping business to hit targets, boost grades in schools, sports people to win medals, and support people in their goals to improve their wellbeing.

But the greatest prize gained in any form of goal-setting is the self-growth that people experience through the pursuit of their compelling goal.

My life changed 20 years ago when someone taught me how to set goals. To this day I am grateful and have dedicated my life to teaching it to others.

My mission is to help seven million people with the Goal Mapping system, and share the fundamental truth that: ‘If you think you can; you can’.


Brian MayneBrian Mayne has travelled a path that has led from gypsy origins to the amusements industry and through to corporate training, education and the world of personal development. As chairman of Lift International Brian is now actively involved in the process of developing and delivering the very finest empowerment material available. You can create your own Goal Map and learn about teaching it to others



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The Power of Transformational Feedback – Entering the ZOUD

November 19th, 2015


By Ian Dayzound

It’s a curious irony of the business world that while leaders and managers will always say that they are seeking optimal performance from their people, they very often fail to deal with poor performance, allowing it to fester unchecked and risking the same malaise affecting others.

The reason for this is simple. Many of us are uncomfortable holding these sorts of challenging conversations or giving this sort of challenging feedback. We shy away from confrontation because we feel unequipped to get to the heart of the matter or deal with the elephant in the room, preferring instead to take the easier path of collusion, denial or prevarication.

Yet we all know that challenging feedback is a crucial component in our leadership repertoire. Challenging feedback takes feedback to the next level by helping to create a fundamental shift in awareness. Effectively and regularly delivered, challenging feedback can lead to a transformational breakthrough in performance.

So how can we provide feedback which informs, inspires, and ensures that recognition for a good job is balanced with honest feedback about mistakes? The secret is to learn to get to the heart of the issue. And to do that, we need to be comfortable when entering the ZOUD.

It might sound like something out of science-fiction, but the ZOUD – the “zone of uncomfortable debate” is a pithy phrase first coined by Professor Cliff Bowman as part of his research at Cranfield School of Management into the nature of high performing teams. It describes the area of creative tension that exists in any conversation that is more than a social chat and which needs to be penetrated if we’re going to be able to deliver the message we need to get across.

For most of us entering the ZOUD does not come naturally since we have learnt the skills of comfortable debate and we have learnt to prize rapport highly in our everyday relationships. That’s why we so often try to defuse the pressure by exiting to a safer place. Our relationship is maintained, but the ‘elephant in the room’ is still there.

Entering the ZOUD

You enter the ZOUD by speaking your truth. This is the world as you see it; your reality and your truth. It is like the boy who said the emperor had no clothes when everyone around him was inhibited by politeness, social norms and the fear of looking stupid. By speaking your truth, with confidence and stating your reality in a rational and factual way, you enter the ZOUD.

A key technique in helping us do this is to be aware of when we are trying to duck an issue. You might hear yourself saying, “I’d like to build on what you have just said” and then go off on a random tangent. You might drop in a quick, “That’s interesting, let’s come back to it later”, but then never do.

So it helps to create a trigger for yourself – a little mental switch which you flick to ‘On’ rather than ‘Off’ at these key moments. The, instead of being diverted away from the uncomfortable issue you want to address, you say something different like:

  • ‘Now hang on a minute, what’s really going on here?’
  • ‘You know this doesn’t really fit with my experience of the reality of your performance.’
  • ‘I’m really disappointed in what you have just told me.’
  • ‘Right now, you remind me of a clockwork train I had as a child which just used to go round and round in circles.’

These are edgy, provocative statements that carry a short term ‘breaking the rapport’ risk yet plunge the conversation into the ZOUD at which point things can get unpredictable, novel and potentially transformational. In my experience, the reaction to these sorts of statements can range from silence to laughter, anger, shock and intense curiosity. Most interesting is when the other party completely ignores the statement and refuses to let it interrupt the pattern, the current story, the prevailing trance. That’s when you know you really have a challenge on your hands!

Support and challenge

The key to effective feedback is a balance this sort of challenge with support. Pushing, provoking, confronting and holding someone accountable needs to be balanced with concern for the individual, acknowledging and empathy.

If you combine a low level of support with a low level of challenge, you end up with a bland, ‘why bother’ type of feedback, little more than going through the motions or ticking the boxes.

Highly supportive feedback that lacks challenge leads to positive affirmation but no traction. It might make someone feel better, but it isn’t constructive. “I don’t believe what the Board said, I think your project plan is very good. Maybe they were having a bad day.”

Feedback which is highly challenging but lacks support is stressful and can be counter-productive. “That was rubbish, my five-year old could do better, think harder!” isn’t a positive way to boost someone’s performance.

So the sweet spot for feedback is an optimal balance of support and challenge. This is ‘tough love’, but it provides the best basis for growth and development.

Where am I coming from?

It follows, then, that the ‘ego state’ of the person delivering challenging feedback is all-important. If you are stressed, emotional and feel the need to prove your superiority, your feedback will never be constructive. If you genuinely want to help someone to make a positive contribution and have real faith in their future potential, your feedback is far more likely to be supportively challenging.

Six steps to Challenging Feedback

The balance of high support and high challenge is achieved through six stages:

  • Observation – a specific and factual description of what happened. This is a non-judgemental statement of your truth. It might be a positive observation or a statement that something is not going to plan.
  • Preparation and opening statement – your first words are the most important, so prepare them. Consider both the individual’s and your desired outcome.
  • Impact – describe the personal and business impact that the observed issue has had on you or on other stakeholders.
  • Invite input and listen – explore the shared reality by asking “How do you see this?”
  • Reflection – if this is a significant issue, allow time for reflection. Don’t be tempted to rush or force a resolution.
  • Action – feedback is only effective if it is future-focused and leads to action. Agree a specific action plan with clear goals and devise an explicit ‘contract’ stating who will do what, by when.


IIan Dayan Day works as an executive coach and is co-author, along with John Blakey, of “Challenging Coaching – Going beyond traditional coaching to face the FACTS”. To find out more visit



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Into the Wild, Motorbikes & Mindfulness

May 7th, 2015


By Glenn WatkinsGW lake 1 JPG

As a child I can remember from around 8 years old the feeling of excitement and happiness of “going into the wild” (adventures in the countryside!) The anticipation of hearing or seeing something unexpected, experiencing the pure beauty of his natural environment made me feel – and act – care free, creative and curious.

Around the same time I also loved fishing – I think it took me a couple of years to catch my first fish! (It didn’t help that I was using a huge sea fishing hook I found on a beach while on holiday,  I thought it important I use large hook to ensure I caught a large fish(!) I lived in Birmingham at the time so not too many coastal lines to hook a sea monster…)

I also fell in love with motorcycles a year later, I was taken to the Isle of Man TT races with my best friend and his dad – the speed, noise, crowds, excitement was everywhere! Having ridden motorcycles for over 40 years, other words such as freedom, beauty, art, peace, absolute presence, balance, unity and happiness are all my experiences on two wheels – the same as I feel when “in the wild”.

These are experiences I have enjoyed all of my life, yet on some level the two are apparently poles part (slow and fast, safe and dangerous), yet for me, both enable the same feelings of being fully present, content and blissfully happy – especially when riding in the wild!

Discovering and practising mediation 15 years ago has enabled me to enjoy many other, differing, aspects of my life and business – feeling as I do when sitting, walking or riding in the wild. I love the feeling of calm energy, deep creativity and “connectedness” enabled when I choose to practice regularly and live a more mindful existence.

There’s a huge movement now taking place – we appear to be really “waking up” to the benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness, see the Huffington Post’s:

Mindfulness Meditation Benefits: 20 Reasons Why It’s Good For Your Mental And Physical Health

and watch the video The scientific power of meditation

Last month I was on the panel of London’s first ever Mindfulness Summit for business leaders, I was pleasantly surprised by the mix of the audience, there were Directors from the BBC, IKEA, Harrods, Pret a Manger, Bacardi Martini Corp, Google Ventures (here’s a great article (and video) What’s it like to take Googles Mindfulness training), mixed with leaders from the charity (Marie Curie, Just Giving, Jewish Care) and health sectors, along with business owners and entrepreneurs.

There’s some great photo’s of the event which demonstrates the emphasis on the experiential learning for ongoing and accelerated personal and leadership development.

The overriding message from the summit was “just do something – make a start!Here’s a useful and simple guide.

It’s a bit like gym membership (after all, it’s fitness for the mind) – it’s about participation! Tough at first to get into the habit, though once you’ve started you soon feel the benefits when done regularly, little and often.

It doesn’t mean you have to meditate every time either, being mindful means you are aware to simply pause, to look around, take notice with a few deep breaths and smile 🙂

I’ve experienced these techniques producing insightful thoughts, questions and outcomes when we’ve practiced mindfulness meditation when running my experiential Academy for Chief Executives peer groups. As leaders we tend to “dive in” to solve issues and create more opportunities, taking time to enable silence, to  create some space, before working together has proved very beneficial.

I believe all successful leaders have an ongoing thirst for learning and an appetite for sharing, I am discovering when this thirst is also directed inwardly to pause, to be still, to de-stress, to be in a more creative space, this enables better knowing and understanding of oneself.

Over time this develops an awareness, feeling and experience of “being in flow”, which when happens on a regular basis, the path of least resistance unfolds.

After all, without peace, where is happiness?


About Glenn Watkins

17124482109_dc4ab20f8e_qMy passion for leadership development and entrepreneurial business growth have resulted in my business as Academy for Chief Executives Chairman where, having “walked the talk” as a CEO member, I’ve created select London peer groups – Academy 88 and Academy 08 to focus on holistic leadership development, thus business and personal growth for progressive leaders.


Love Leadership – Love Learning – Love Life

Let’s Talk About The ‘S’ Word

May 7th, 2015



By Tiffany Kay

Over the years, the use of the word ‘spiritual’ in business has been largely frowned upon. Spirituality is often equated with being floaty, unrealistic or ungrounded. In a corporate world that still tends to value analysis and reasoning over intuition and instinct, we have been actively encouraged to leave any spiritual practices out of the boardroom.

We probably won’t hear many CEOs declaring their allegiance to angels or asking for advice from their guides. It’s simply not the done thing — well, certainly not out loud!

Because using the ‘s’ word has been largely deemed inappropriate, we have been forced to find more acceptable business-style language. We speak of finding our flow, being in the zone or receiving inspiration. But what is inspiration if it is not being in-spirit? Are we really saying that bringing more spirit to business is unacceptable or unwelcome?

With an increasing emphasis on practices like mindfulness and meditation, isn’t it time for a change? No longer the reserve of New Age books, these topics have found their way into mainstream media. Back in May, the Financial Times examined the impact of breathing and mindfulness on stressed out bankers and The Guardian recently printed practical guides for incorporating such techniques into our lifestyles.

With the shift in acceptance of these practices, are we ready to openly declare our allegiance with spirituality or does using the ‘s’ word still leave us open to judgment or questions around our competence and reasoning capacity?

‘Successful corporate leaders of the 21st Century will be spiritual leaders. They will be comfortable with their own spirituality and they will know how to nurture spiritual development in others” ~ Hendricks & Ludeman

There is a new breed of creative business leaders that are doing things differently. They know today’s business challenges cannot be solved by downsizing, cutting budgets or beating the competition. These leaders are owning their spirituality and valuing vision, intuition, presence and collaboration over drive, opposition and force.

And they are discovering that the results affect the bottom line. When I was invited to write this article, I asked Kevin Griffin (Academy member and Founder/MD of Acrobat Carbon Services) for his thoughts. Kevin quoted the well-known American Success Coach, Tony Robbins:

Business is a spiritual game: if you don’t at the very least live in an emotionally rich environment, then you have a problem.

Kevin believes that if you can define a vision, spiritually connect with the outcome and let it live and grow in your soul and psyche on a daily basis, then you have found the absolute key to success.

So why does the idea of spirituality turn some people off? Perhaps they picture a self-proclaimed new-age guru sitting on a mountain top chanting! Or worse, perhaps they associate it with religion or cults, and they fear that by engaging in spiritual conversation they will be sucked into an endless stream of righteousness. Or maybe they imagine a door-to-door caller who won’t leave until you have agreed to their principles. No one wants this level of uninvited intrusiveness.

But the true essence of spirituality couldn’t be further away from this.  Spirituality has nothing to do with an external belief system in the way that religion or cults dictate. Rather it is a personal interpretation – an inner connection between mind, heart and soul. We can only ever know our version, never decree what another should or shouldn’t believe. As soon as I ask you to think or do something against your own values and principles, I am no longer led by spirit but firmly attached to the ego’s needs for validation. Spirit never requires external corroboration. It knows its own truth.

I like to think of spirituality as being the absolute em-body-ment of living an inspired (in-spirit) life.  It is the ability to move out of the analytical mind and drop into your core, inhabited by your heart and soul. It doesn’t discount intellectual reasoning but uses its functionality to fulfill a deeper level of purpose. In this alignment you find your passion, peace and joy.

The rules about spirituality are that there are no rules! Being spiritual doesn’t require you to meditate daily, visit a church or temple, take up yoga or change your diet — unless you want to. You are just as likely to connect to your heart centre and spirit whilst walking your dog, playing sports, listening to music, baking or gardening. Any activity that brings you present to the moment and in deep rapport with your self could be described as spiritual.

Sharing that you believe in something more than can be intellectually understood won’t always win friends and support. But if we are going to live spiritual values, then we need to find ways to share the truth of who we are — even if we risk being labeled as weird or crazy.

As a business leader, spirituality better connects you to your authenticity, integrity and wisdom. When you strengthen your relationship with your soul, you build an unshakable foundation that cannot be disrupted by any drama or dilemma. When you operate from your heart, you cultivate trust and consistency that inspires those who follow you. And when you are connected to spirit, you have an inner guidance system that keeps you on track, making decisions and choices that are always in alignment with your highest intentions and outcomes.

Rather than being a word to suppress and conceal, your spirituality may be the very thing that secures your ongoing and unlimited success. Now, is that something worth talking about?


Tiffany KayTiffany Kay is a behaviour and communications coach helping people in business to work from the heart. She is in the business of worth, believing that we are most effective when we are in touch with our intrinsic value and connected to the wisdom of our soul. A certified trainer of NLP, HNLP, coaching and hypnotherapy, Tiffany has worked in corporate training and facilitation for over fifteen years. Tiffany believes the real pleasure of life comes from being in the moment. She recently published her second book, ‘From Pursuit to Presence’, a guide to side-stepping the rat race and finding the inherent peace and joy that comes from living in the now. More at


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Are You Over-Busy?

May 7th, 2015



By Pete Wilkinson

Life is very busy for most of us. That’s especially true if you’re running a business or part of an executive team. You probably have far more projects running than you can handle and I bet you also have far too many plates spinning. And with all this going on it isn’t just nice to take time out, it is absolutely essential.

Are you running at full pace and maybe still not getting the results you expected or desire? I would imagine if we were talking face to face right now you could tell me about all the things that you have to do and you would probably say there are not enough hours in the day.

The only way to manage this sort of situation is to take a little time out.

It may mean getting up a little earlier or taking time out during the day or even later in the day. But it is essential

Here’s how I do it. Take today for an example. I got up a little earlier and went for a run. Nothing too far. The sun was shining and I ran through some fields, around a quiet graveyard and back along the coast with the sun reflecting in the sea.

I let my mind relax. I took in fresh breaths of air and I looked around and took in the views. It may be for some reason that you haven’t run for a while and doing five miles is a little beyond you. Fair enough, then go for a walk, go for a ride, or just go outside and find a bench to sit on.

The key is to take some time out. Reflect, relax and rejuvenate.

After my run I felt more in control and I had a new perspective. I’d spent some time by myself without email, hearing the phone or hearing my name. I was able to refocus on what was really important.

What will you do differently from tomorrow, or even today? How will you take time out to reflect, relax and rejuvenate?

Setting a little time aside for you to keep focusing on what is important helps you be more and achieve more, whether that’s happiness, fulfilment, sales or profit. The key is to do something, however small, to ensure you get some time for you.

Here’s another time-saving approach that can help to achieve more without having to work an extra 10 hours a week.

I’ve been trying a new technique recently in order to be a little more focused in achieving one of my goals. You know what it’s like. You have lots going on, many projects and sometimes the important stuff just doesn’t get done. Often a good few days go by and you realise you haven’t made the progress you expected.

Go to a stationary supplier and buy some small white cards, about the size of a postcard. Think about one of your major goals or something you really desire. For me it was the persistence to complete my online course so that I can help people remotely.

Once you’re clear about what you want to achieve, take six cards and write your goal on each card.

You will be writing the same thing on each card. This will help you execute.

The next step is to place the cards around your home where you will see them. Mine are on the fridge, near where I get shaved, beside my alarm clock, in my car, on my office desk and inside my coat pocket.

I am now reading what I desire about 30 times a day and it is really helping me to be focused. When you start something new like this it is important to look for the first sign of success. When you find it concentrate on that and stay on task. If something is important to you it is worth a bit of work making it happen. So take action!


Pete WilkinsonPete Wilkinson is a coach, workshop leader and keynote speaker who works with executive teams and individuals to help them deliver consistently high performance results. He is passionate about helping people achieve more in a week than most do in a month. Find out more at


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Top Tips: Are You Getting Enough?

May 7th, 2015


03-005-wBy Dr Irshaad Ebrahim

Enough sleep, that is. We spend about a third of our lives asleep.

And while scientists think that sleep does something important — something vital for life- research has not yet identified specifically what that is. Nevertheless, we all know when we need to sleep — we can feel this need. We also know when sleep has done its work — we feel rested and that we have slept enough.

Sleep is an active, highly organized sequence of events and physiological conditions made up of two separate and distinctly different states: ‘non-rapid eye movement sleep’ (NREM sleep) and ‘rapid eye movement sleep’ (REM sleep) or dreaming sleep. NREM is further divided into stages 1 – 4 based on the size and speed of the brain waves generated by the sleeper.

The NREM and REM types of sleep are as different from one another as both are different from wakefulness. And while the precise function of REM sleep and dreaming is still not entirely clear, researchers have established a clear correlation between sleep-related illnesses and problems such as hypertension, stroke, congestive heart failure, depression and an overall decreased quality of life.

A common precursor and symptom of stress-related illness is the disruption of the Sleep-Wake cycle. Psychological Stress caused by work pressures can lead to activation of the sympathetic nervous system and an increased state of arousal.

As a result of this heightened arousal, there is inevitably a degree of sleep disruption and insomnia that can lead to a vicious cycle of chronic insomnia. Timely and adequate treatment of the stressors and the associated sleep disturbances is highly effective in preventing the slide into a chronic state of sleep disruption.

A combined approach using medication and Cognitive Therapy is proven to reduce the rate of chronic suffering in patients with stress induced sleep disruption.

About 30 to 40 percent of adults indicate some level of insomnia in any given year, and about 10 percent to 15 percent indicate that the insomnia is chronic and/or severe. The prevalence of insomnia increases with age and is more common in women.

Intermittent periods of stress, which result in poor sleep, can generate two maladaptive behaviours, (1) a vicious cycle of trying harder to sleep and becoming tenser, expressed as “trying too hard to sleep,” and (2) bedroom and other sleep-related activities conditioning the patient to frustration and arousal.

Chronic problems arise when bad sleep habits such as those naturally acquired during periods of stress occasionally are reinforced and, therefore, are prevented from extinction and become persistent. Thus, the insomnia continues for years after the stress has abated and is labelled persistent psycho-physiological insomnia.

Good ‘sleep discipline’ can help all of us stave off such problems and help stop the pressures of our professional lives from affecting our bodies’ need for rest. Here, then, are 10 simple tips to help you get a good night’s sleep.

  1. Have and stick to a regular bedtime and wake up schedule
    Try to go to bed and get up about the same time each night and morning.
  1. Make sure the time that you set for your bedtime is a time in which you are sleepy. Do not go to bed too soon or you may have trouble falling asleep or your sleep may be restless.
  1. Don’t nap. This can disrupt normal sleep cycles. Try skipping your nap and see if your regular sleep patterns improve.
  1. Make your bedroom a “quiet” room. Don’t watch TV in your bedroom. Use it for sleeping or quiet reading.
  1. Establish relaxing before-bed routines. Take a bath, have a glass of warm milk or do some light reading before bedtime.
  1. Develop relaxation techniques. Learn yoga, deep breathing, quiet meditation or listen to soft music while trying to fall asleep.
  1. Avoid troubling news right before bed. Violence in newspapers or on television may bother some people, making it difficult to fall asleep. Try reading a book (not an iPad!) instead. Turn off your phone and avoid checking emails just before bed.
  1. Avoid stimulants or things that contain caffeine (tea, coffee, cola etc.) for 6 hours before bedtime.
  1. Do not use alcohol or tobacco products close to bedtime. They may calm you at the time of use, but they can have disrupting effects on your sleep during the night.
  2. Exercise regularly. Regular activity helps the body and mind healthy, but be sure to avoid vigorous exercise right before bedtime.


Irshaad Ebrahim Dr Irshaad Ebrahim MBChB, MRCPsych is a Consultant Neuropsychiatrist and Medical Director of the London Sleep Centre. He was the first NHS-appointed Consultant Neuropsychiatrist in Sleep Disorders in the UK. A member of The British Sleep Society, The British Neuropsychiatry Association, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Royal Society of Medicine section on Sleep Medicine, he is actively involved clinical research for new treatments for insomnia, depression and anxiety disorders.


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