We Need to Talk – Step One

We Need to Talk - Step One

Picture the scene….

Your heart’s racing, your stomach’s churning……yes, it’s a ‘tough conversation’ that you’re really dreading (and, be honest, have probably been avoiding for a while).

Have you ever dodged the issue, backed down, waffled around the subject, gone in with all guns blazing, felt like a rabbit in the headlights – some or all of the above?  Me too!

Even thinking about a challenging conversation can trigger our fight, flight or freeze response.

So, often, we do nothing… hope it’ll go away…. Tell ourselves we’ll tackle it when we are ‘less busy’.

When in fact we know that avoidance leads to even worse problems in the long run. So where to start?

One of my mantras is ‘Just take the first step’

So here’s the FIRST step to having that Conversation – KNOW YOURSELF

Identify what it is that makes the conversation difficult for YOU.

• Do you want to be liked or to avoid conflict? (I’m a ‘nice person’)

• Don’t trust yourself to manage your emotional state?

• Don’t know the ‘right’ words?

• Don’t want to rock the boat?

So grab a piece of paper and make a start:

‘I’m avoiding this conversation because…..’

Then identify any key themes or patterns that strike you

This exercise is key – it helps us to understand our beliefs about ourselves and others; our mindset (Growth or Fixed?) and the unhelpful scripts that we are using about ourselves or others.

The Power of the Unique Question

The Power of the Unique Question

Shut up and Listen!

Sorry if that sounds rude but one of the mistakes we sometimes make when going into a conversation is to think we should have all the answers – slick, smart, clever answers.

Because, as a leader or manager that’s what you’re paid to do, right?


The best leaders (and coaches!) I know have mastered the art of asking great questions (and listening REALLY well) in order to get to the best answers.

And let me be clear.  This is NOT a set of questions that you can learn by rote and pull out randomly.  Oh no.

Now, there are some great questions that can serve many purposes because it’s always good to have a starting point. But we can do so much more than that if we want to get to mastery.

My wonderful coach mentor recently described a really great question as ‘one you would only ever use once’.

Because it only means something to that particular person. You’re using their words as part of your question.

That is really powerful.

It means really listening to the other person’s words rather than paraphrasing, interpreting, assuming or avoiding – because we are then seeing the world from what Chris Argyris describes as our ‘ladder of inference’; our own reality, our own map of the world.

I remember my early coach-training days – struggling to think of my next question and missing swathes of information, nuances, patterns in the conversation.  Because I was so focused on my own performance at the expense of really listening.  And I know today that when I have a busy mind, or I’m not ‘fully present, or I’m rushing, trying too hard, anxious, tired…. I’m probably not asking the right questions.

That old cliché about having two ears and one mouth is so true!

Lead With Impact


April 2015


This intensive three day residential programme for senior managers will enable you to:

  • – Identify your unique, authentic  leadership brand;
  • – Shift the mindsets and habits that reduce your influence and impact;
  • – Understand how others see you – the good, the bad and the ugly!
  • – Communicate with poise and power and develop practical steps to grounded confidence
    and control;
  • – Engage and influence through your energy and presence;
  • – Identify specific, measureable actions you can take to lead your team and influence stakeholders more effectively.
  • – Work intensively with a small group of like-minded leaders who will encourage your success;
  • – Step back from the day to day ‘busyness’ and focus on your growth as an inspiring leader.

There will be no more than six people on this programme to ensure you get maximum individual attention, coaching, support, guidance and feedback.There will also be some pre-work to help you get the most from the three days.Where and When 22 – 24 April 2015, Rookery Hall Hotel and Spa, Nantwich, Cheshire

To find out more, please email pat@lynnscottcoaching.co.uk or call us on 01729 548024 to arrange a 30 minute telephone conversation with Lynn.



Lynn Scott_small

Lynn Scott – Lynn Scott Coaching Ltd

Lynn is a pragmatic and practical world class coach who helps leaders to lead with confidence.  She helps her clients be bolder and more courageous leaders, helps them have a far greater understanding of who they are, what drives them, how their beliefs impact on their behaviour and what to do about it!

Lynn will be leading this three day workshop. Read more about Lynn www.lynnscottcoaching.co.uk



Attachment-1Caroline Goyder  Founder of The Gravitas Method

Caroline worked for many years as a voice teacher at the Central School of Speech and Drama, and has spent the last ten years developing a system to help her non-acting clients to perform with the same poise, presence and power in everyday life. RED magazine recently called Caroline one of Britain’s top coaches, and her client list is as diverse as her knowledge, from CEOs of major companies, TV news anchors and an array of people in between. Her passion is helping people from all walks of life sound, and feel their best.

Caroline will be joining us for day 2 of the programme. Read more about Caroline: www.gravitasmethod.com



Cliff Bashforth – Simply Image

Cliff is an international style consultant for Europe’s leading image consultancy. He works with TV presenters, politicians and major global organisations and presents to audiences on topics such as the psychology of colour and image at work.

Cliff will be joining us for a two hour masterclass on Your Signature Style. Read more about Cliff: www.simplyImage.co.uk

Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

Thoughts into reality

“Change Your Thoughts and You Change Your World” (Norman Vincent Peale)

  • I’ll never be able to…..
  • That’s just a dream……
  • I’ve never been any good at…….
  • I should/ought/must….
  • It’s impossible at the moment for me to……

So starts our ‘inner dialogue’ and self-limiting beliefs.


Leadership Tips-What Are Your Big Rocks for 2014?



Most of you will be familiar with the work of Stephen Covey and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This is one of my favourite stories.

Covey tells the story of a man who stood in front of a group of what he describes as ‘high-powered over-achievers’.  He pulls out a large jar and puts it on the table in front of him.  Then he produces about a dozen fist-sized rocks and places them one at a time into the jar.


The story continues:


When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks.

Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. And he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”

“No!” the class shouted.

Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”


“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”


Till next time,



How I’m Beating Overwhelm (one step at a time)

It's 2014

As the New Year is upon us, I’m prepared to bet that most of us will be making some half-hearted resolutions about losing weight, doing more exercise, leaving the office on time and all that good stuff….. but how many of us will be sticking to our good intentions come February?

Over the last couple of years in particular I’ve been on a mission to get more focus and clarity in my life and work and to help my clients do the same – because, without exception, it is the one challenge we all seem to struggle with.  Too much to do; not enough time.

I wish I could say I’ve got it all completely nailed.  I haven’t.  But I’ve made some incremental changes (that, for me, is DEFINITELY the way to do it) and I’ve made some good headway.  And in 12 months’ time I hope to be able to report back with even more progress.  In fact, forget that.  I WILL report back with more progress (because one of the things that works for me is public accountability). No pressure…..So here are a few of the things that have made the most difference to me:


1. Sorting the inbox out.  My wonderful PA Pat has done this for me and it’s revolutionised the way we work.  She’ll let you have her inbox tips if you ask nicely.  Email her on pat@lynnscottcoaching.co.uk.  On that note, OUTSOURCE or DELEGATE whatever you can.  I have worked with Pat for four years and should have employed her years ago.

  • 2.Scheduling ‘white space’ in the diary.  Free time between meetings, free time each week – diarised (otherwise it won’t happen). No more running between appointments with no time to breathe.  I hate that feeling of always being ‘just on time’ and of not having enough time to reflect between appointments.
  • 3. Blocking out Monday mornings.   In 2014 I’m blocking out Monday mornings to work from home and prepare my week and month ahead.  Which means I can relax and enjoy my Sunday without having to think about work.   (It also means I can avoid the Monday morning rushhour!)
  • 4. Prioritising three things.  Each day, I identify the most important things I need to do that day.  And do them.  But I’m human so sometimes I get stuck.  I procrastinate  Particularly if it doesn’t feel like an easy thing to do.  So I then adopt the ‘just take one small step’ approach and make a start.  That normally gets me off on the right foot!
  • leadership-coaching-overcoming-overwhelm

5. Creating rituals.  A ritual is a ceremony in which the included actions, and the order in which they are done, is established and fixed (thanks Wikipedia).  In my mastermind group, we’ve each established some rituals to help us start the day well.  I have some phrases I use to get me in the right frame of mind.  I say them whilst I’m making my morning cup of tea. Whilst I’m drinking my tea, I’ll also do a couple of minutes of deep breathing.

My colleague, who is writing a book, commits to writing her thoughts down before she has her morning shower….another friend meditates for ten minutes before breakfast. The point is, that these things become so much part of our day that we do them on auto-pilot and none of them takes longer than ten minutes.  And we are accountable to each other (by text each morning!)

I will have some more tips to share with you in my next blog and if there’s anything that’s worked for you, I’d love to hear about it. Email me on lynn@lynnscottcoaching.co.uk  and I’ll share the best ones!

To a wonderful 2014 for all of us.


P.S. We still have places at our next Choas to Clarity event on January 16th. Find out more here.

Leadership Development Through Mindfulness?!

In my recent blog post ‘She drives me crazy’ I talked about the importance of recognising our triggers (triggers that bring about strong feelings which results in behaviour that doesn’t always serve us well!) . So I want to share this article by Drake Baer with you too – it has some great tips on labelling thoughts and emotions! Enjoy


We tend to think of mindfulness as,  being totally blissed out, man–you rest your butt comfortably, your lungs do their breathing thing, and your mind abides like a vast, crystalline ocean.

But the thing about vast, crystalline oceans is: They’ve got waves. Like waves of anger, jealousy, or guilt that don’t give a damn about whether you’re at the office trying to get some work done while that aggravating Steve guy in accounting won’t stop listening to Taylor Swift so loud.

But as psychologist-coaches Susan David and Christina Congleton write for theHarvard Business Review, we can’t get rid of–or even really directly control–our mind’s waves of unsavory feelings. And as breakthrough psychological research has shown, blocking negative emotions doesn’t get rid of them; it represses and amplifies them. They’ll rise up eventually, as surely as a beach ball held underwater will seek the surface.

So if we can’t get rid of our unsavory mental-emotional waves, what do we do about them?


When you recognize a pattern of thought without being driven around by it or repressing it, you’re acting with emotional agility, kind of like how Neo acted in the first Matrix movie–only instead of dancing around bullets, you’re moving with your resentment toward all things Taylor Swift and Aggravating Steve.

The actual practice of emotional agility is something psychologists call ACT, or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It comes in four steps:

1) You recognize your patterns: You notice when you’re getting hooked (again!) by you emotions–one telltale sign is when your thoughts become rigid and repetitive, as if you’re always thinking about how you’re not doing enough, why everybody on your team is in your way, or how you lover-parent-friend jilted you 10 years ago. Freud said that the hallmark of neurosis is repetition, so if we sense repetition, that’s great. Because then we can start working with that pattern.

2) Label the thought or emotion: When you’re hooked on hating Steve, you can’t think of anything else: His terrible office karaoke crowds your whole mental real estate. You can’t think of anything but how you knew that he was trouble all along.

So when you find yourself getting hooked in this way, David and Congleton suggest simply labeling the thought or emotion:

Just as you call a spade a spade, call a thought a thought, and an emotion an emotion. “I’m not doing enough at work or at home” becomes “I’m having the thought that I’m not doing enough at work or at home.” Similarly, “My coworker is wrong–he makes me so angry” becomes “I’m having the thought that my coworker is wrong, and I’m feeling anger.”

This is super useful, the authors argue, because it helps you see your feelings for what they actually are: “transient sources of data that may or may not prove helpful,” rather than the absolute truth about your nature or that of pop music.

3) Accept the things that are happening in your mind: “The opposite of control is acceptance,” the authors assert. This means taking the middle path between getting hooked and getting repressed: “[It’s] not acting on every thought or resigning yourself to negativity but responding to your ideas and emotions with an open attitude, paying attention to them, and letting yourself experience them.”

How do you experience them? Directly.

4) Act on your values: Instead of acting out of emotion, act from a place of long-term, well-articulated conviction–part of the reason that the happiest people have the hardest jobs. Why is this so effective? Because your emotions are changing all the time, David and Congleton say, but your values stay constant.


Till next time,



Procrastination Help For Leaders!

‘I love Leo Babauta’s work (www.zenhabits.net) and wanted to share this article on Procrastination with you!

leadership tips lea babuta

I’ve been procrastinating a lot lately. I actually love procrastinating and have nothing against it.

But for those of you who want to beat procrastination, here are 10 simple steps:

1. First make sure you really, really, really want to do it. Seriously – don’t skip this step.

2. Keep things simple – don’t mess with tools, formatting, anything, just start.

3. Make it the first thing you do today, before checking email or anything else.

4. Clear away everything that stands in the way of doing. Including turning off the Internet.

5. Just get started. Overcome the initial barrier by diving in.

6. Tell yourself you’re just going to do 10 minutes.

7. Put something you dread more at the top of your to-do list — you’ll put off doing that by doing the other things on your list. (Structured procrastination.)

8. Find something about it that excites you.

9. Forget about perfection. Just start doing it, and fix it later.

10. If you keep procrastinating, re-evaluate whether you really want to do it. Consider not doing it, or putting it on the back burner.

If all else fails, just take a nap or go outside and enjoy the outdoors or do nothing. Life isn’t all about productivity. Do less.


Till next time,



Leadership Strategies – 10 Steps To Masterful Meetings

Patrick Lencioni- Author and Speaker

Patrick Lencioni- Author and Speaker

Diary cram-packed with meetings with no space in between to think, reflect or even breathe? An issue for many a leader.

How’s that working for you?

Do you return from meetings saying ‘that was a waste of time?’

You’re not alone.  Many people complain that the meetings they attend are like wading through treacle or herding cats.   They go on too long, the critical decisions are not made, some people are allowed to go off at tangents and other people don’t ‘speak their truth.’

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Here are my ten top tips for masterful meetings

(and, yes, they might be common sense – but are they common practice?)

1. Be clear on what type of meeting it is.  I love Lencioni’s thinking on the daily check in; weekly tactical, monthly strategic and quarterly offsite meetings .  Knowing the difference is key

2. Start and end on time – if people are late, start without them. It’s their problem, not yours. Make it one of your ground rules.

3. Allow a 10-15 minute check in if people don’t meet frequently.  How is everybody?

4. If it’s your meeting, engage people from the beginning.  Get them excited, energised… meetings don’t have to be dull

5. Agree simple ‘ways of working’ for your meetings – one person to talk at a time/no individual conversations/no emailing and texting during the meeting.  Make these explicit don’t just ‘expect’ people to know. They won’t.

6. Agree concrete actions steps, clear accountability and timescales.  No need for reams of meeting notes.  Who has time to read all that stuff.

7. Make sure all views are aired.  Great meetings have lively, healthy debate AND focus on outcomes and decision.

8. Please, please, please STOP ‘death by PowerPoint’ at meetings. Particularly those slides with reams of figures that we can’t read.

9. Know how much the meeting is costing you in terms of everybody’s time… is it value for money?  One organisation I worked with have a ‘taxi meter’ ticking away. Focuses the mind!

10. Stop rushing from one meeting to the next – have space to reflect and gather your thoughts

By the way, if you hold meetings where everybody goes round the table and shares what they’ve been focusing on for the last month…. STOP IT NOW! It’s tedious, time consuming and, frankly, a waste of everybody’s time. Find a better way to communicate. The daily 5-10 minute check-in might, may be just what you need.

But that’s just my opinion.


Till next time,



She Drives Me Crazy!… Cue for a Song Or A Leadership Challenge?



She Drives Me Crazy

(as the Fine Young Cannibals once sang)

Or he does…..

I’ve worked with three different people this week who’ve had what they all described as ‘tricky’ or ‘difficult’ working relationships with one of their colleagues.  There were a lot of similarities in what these three leaders described.

  • The ‘tricky colleagues’ are all described as competent peopleso it wasn’t about performance or results
  • The working relationships had felt challenging for a long time – so the situation wasn’t new

These relationships can feel hugely frustrating and what we really want is for the other person to change his or her behaviour.  Well, guess what……. They won’t.  Unless there is a compelling reason for them to do so.

leadership-coaching-the mirror

So what to do?

As is often the case, we first have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves ‘what is my part in this?’  How am I contributing to making this a difficult relationship?’

Here are five things you can do to get to grips with those tricky colleagues:

1. Get to know who or what pushes your hot buttons and triggers strong emotions in you – then ask yourself:  ‘what is it about me that makes this relationship difficult? What      might I need to change about myself (including my beliefs or assumptions) to get a better outcome with this person?

2. Who does this person remind you of?  If you’re not familiar with the term ‘transference’ I would describe it (in very simplistic terms!) as treating somebody as if they were somebody else (unconsciously).  So you behave with a senior colleague as if she were your mother, for example, because when you are with her, it feels like being with your mother!  You get the picture. I’ve had a few light bulb moments myself with transference.  Once I understand why I feel so strongly about somebody and who they remind me of it becomes a lot easier to build a better relationship with them as a unique human being!

3. First seek to understand – imagine what it is like to be in their shoes for a day.  What are their challenges? Frustrations? Fears? Hopes?

4. Work on developing your empathy – one of the best ways to do this is to use (metaphorically or literally!) what Stephen Covey calls The Talking Stick

5. Ask your colleague ‘what can we do to develop our working relationship’?  Are you getting what you need from me?’  Then LISTEN to the answers.  You might be surprised!

Vive la difference!

Till next time,