Get off the Superhighway


Over the last three weeks I’ve been looking at Leadership Presence

Leaders with presence are great at really focusing on what they are doing and on the person or people they are with.

Many of you are joining me on a mission to get more focus in your own life and work so I thought you would love this great article from David Rock.  It’s a reminder that now, as Rock says, ‘might be the time to build in some limits and boundaries for our hyper-connected lives, to reduce the number of accidents along our information superhighways’

To download this article on the following link: Get off the Superhighway

Why You Won’t Delegate

What are your choice points?

There are many  lies or half-truths; excuses we make to ourselves and others that  stop us from delegating and keep us feeling overwhelmed…..but, if we’re honest, can also keep us SAFE from having to take on new, more scary, challenging or potentially risky tasks where we may no longer be the expert or the fount of all knowledge.  So rejection and fear of failure keep us doing tasks that really should be done by somebody else.

So, time for some honesty, here!

Let’s look at what might REALLY be going on.

Belief Number One

‘It’s quicker to do it myself’  – possibly.  And if it’s a one-off task it may well be quicker to do it yourself. But could it be that you don’t allow yourself enough time for planning and thinking; rush from one deadline to another and work at the speed of light?

The benefit in all of this is that you get through masses of work.  The downside is you may not be giving others the development opportunities they crave.

First Step

Think of one task you could delegate.  Start with something small. Then go back to last week’s email  and work through the ten steps.

Belief Number Two

‘He’s already too busy’ – maybe that’s true.  Or maybe you have a strong need to be liked which means you keep doing things that really should be done by somebody else.

First Step

Sit down with him and ask this question. ‘I would like to look at both our workloads as there is something I would like you to start taking on – let’s look at how we can make it work.’

Belief Number Three

He doesn’t have the experience/skills/ knowledge’. So how can he get them?

First Step

Is it a training course? Coaching or Mentoring? Buddying up with somebody?  Find the solution!  Now, if he is not competent then that is a different issue.  Why are you allowing incompetence in your team? (Fear of conflict? Strong need to be liked? Don’t quite know how to tackle it?)

Belief Number Four

‘She can’t do it as well as I will’ – so you’re a perfectionist and/or a control freak?

Aim for excellence, not perfection.  And sometimes ‘good enough’ is just fine.

If you know you’re a perfectionist at heart, read Brene Brown’s superb book The Gifts of Imperfection.

Click on the following link to download this article: Why You Wont Delegate

10 Steps to Successful Delegation

f10 Stepps to Successful Delegation


Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been exploring the topic of delegation – click here if you missed last week’s article

Last week, I asked you to draw up a plan outlining one thing to delegate each week or month to a team member.  Hopefully you have a team member in mind for your first task and you are ready to make a start.

So here are the ten steps to successful delegation (In bold type are the bits that are often forgotten – but they are CRUCIAL to your success)

1.  Set uninterrupted  time aside to explain the task to the team member and outline the context, purpose and importance of the task;

2.  Explain why you have chosen this person to do the specific task (what strengths/knowledge/experience does he/she have already and/or how will this task help him/her to stretch or develop new skills?);

3.  Then ask:  What questions do you have so far?

4.  Start with the end in mind. Be crystal clear on your expectations, desired outcome, the parameters and accountability lines plus any ‘non-negotiables’. (For instance, I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to punctuation so it is important to me that anyone who does work on my behalf pays attention to this).  Make these non-negotiables explicit; don’t expect people to know your foibles or preferences!!

5.  Then ask again: What questions do you have so far?

6.  Agree timescales – if your team member is concerned about ‘getting it all done’ help him/her  to find a way around this by asking the question ‘what needs to happen for you to be able to take this task on’?

7.  Once you’ve agreed all the details of the task, ask the team member to summarise back to you everything you have agreed so far (this will help to ensure that s/he understands what you are asking and you can fill in any gaps).  ‘Is that clear’?  Is NOT a good question at this stage;

8.  Agree regular reviews – diarise them.  This might be 15 minutes each morning or an hour a week depending on the task.  Don’t micromanage.  Instead, ask:  How is it going?  What support do you need from me? What are your challenges/successes so far?

9.  Give crystal clear feedback where possible on the work at each stage – what’s great and what can be improved ?

10. Recognise and reward the work when it is complete.

And remember:

  • Expect excellence not perfection (unless you are working on my punctuation, that is!)
  • Allow plenty of time for the task where possible – (yes, you might have to grit your teeth a bit….!)

To download this article click on the following link – 10 Steps to Successful Delegation

Delegation – 5 Key Questions – And More!

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We’re going to dig a bit deeper into WHAT to delegate – and how to make a start.

Firstly, it’s fair to point out that many of us know the theory of delegation but we still don’t do it or don’t do it enough.  Why?  Our mindset and limiting beliefs get in the way.  I’ll talk more about that in my 29 May post coming up. (You know by now that this is a constant theme in my writing!)

So, here goes.

What to delegate

One of my mentors used to say ‘never do anything yourself that somebody who is paid less than you could do’.

I can see you cringing as you read this but think about it.  In my experience many senior leaders are focusing on things that their own team members could do at the expense of the really crucial stuff. (we’ll  look at why this might be in my post on 29 May.)

Where to start

The best way to make a start is to take an hour or so out of the day and do a list of every task that, in theory, could be done by somebody else.  (In other words, it’s not critical that YOU do it). It could be anything from your diary management, emails, attendance at a particular meeting, presentations, reports …. and so on.  Don’t discount any task at this stage and, if necessary, keep going back to the list as you think of more tasks.  If you have a PA or assistant sit down with him/her and ask the question ‘What could you do for me that you are not currently doing? ‘ or ‘how can you help me be more effective?’  Indeed, these are great questions to ask your team members too. Trust me; there is a whole bunch of superb PAs out there whose talents are not being fully utilised.

Then there are five key questions to ask yourself:

• Who has (or can be given) the necessary training/support/knowledge to do this task?

• Does the task provide an opportunity for development and growth for someone else? Or is it a routine task that could be done just as well (or better) by someone else?

• Is it a task someone else might enjoy?

• How can I carve out time to delegate the job effectively and to check progress and offer support? (The answer here, by the way, is not ‘I can’t’!)

• How can I help THE OTHER PERSON/PEOPLE carve out time to do the task effectively?


Where do I start?

To which the answer is, as always – take the first step.  Decide on one thing, each week or month that you want to delegate and draw up a plan.

Click on the following link to download this article – Delegation – 5 key Questions – And More!

From See-through Nighties to Delegation


My brilliant colleague and friend Harry Brooks, a consultant of 46 years’ standing  who has in his time written about pretty well everything from see-through nighties to investment banking and has worked with Nissan, Mars, Lexus, Seiko, English Heritage, Wimpey, Logica… .to name but a few…… has some great words of wisdom which I would love to share with you.

Here goes in Harry’s words!

‘How does one motivate a team?  I’d say – delegate!

People respond when they feel you have confidence in them to undertake and implement a project BUT This does NOT mean you abdicate responsibility or dump all the crap stuff onto other people.

It DOES mean:

~ Being sure that they are up to it (or at least ALMOST up to it – nothing like encouraging people to stretch);
~ Making sure that they know what is expected of them, the parameters within which they will be working;
~ Ensuring that they know you are there to back them up at any time they need advice but NOT hovering over them, making them feel under scrutiny;
~ Perhaps holding regular review meetings with them (maybe first thing in the morning) where people can report on progress to date, outline their next steps and raise any  issues that they are uncertain about;
~ Being fully prepared to take joint responsibility if something goes wrong (remember it was YOU who delegated, so you take the rap);
~ HOWEVER you mustn’t let them think they can just screw up and get away with it – that’s why you take JOINT responsibility.  They have one hand on the can, too’.

So thank you Harry for your common-sense and laser sharp tips.


Click on the following link to download this article  – From See-Through Nighties to Delegation

No More Carrot and Stick

A question I am often asked is: ‘How do I motivate my team?’

To which my answer is:

Ask them!

It’s rarely just about the money.

Christine Comaford in her book, SmartTribes:  How Teams Become Brilliant Together, talks about the importance of giving employees a sense of the three things they deeply crave:

  • Safety
  • Belonging
  • Mattering

She says that ‘Safety + Belonging + Mattering = Trust’

Many of you will be familiar with Daniel Pink’s work on this subject.  He talks about  motivating and engaging people at work through:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

If you haven’t seen the great Dan Pink RSA Animate on this, I really recommend you take a look (it’s just over 10 minutes’ long)

As a leader, there are some things you can do to inspire your people to do their best work.

You can create the right environment.

But the rest has to come from them.

So don’t let whingers, ‘victims’ and other ‘energy vampires’ off the hook by blaming their lack of motivation on everybody or everything else but themselves. They are responsible for their own lives too!

Click on the following link to download this article – No More Carrot and Stick

10 ways to develop your leadership presence


Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been exploring Personal Presence.

Presence) ‘Reveals itself as the magnetic, radiating effect you have on others when you’re being the authentic you, giving them your full respect and attention, speaking honestly and letting your unique character traits flow. As leaders, we must be technically competent to gain others’ respect, but it’s our unique genuine presence that inspires people and prompts them to trust us’ James Scouller, The Three Levels of Leadership

This week I want to share 10 simple ways in which we can ALL develop and improve our personal presence on a daily basis.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Slow down! Our 24/7 ‘always on’ culture destroys presence.  Having presence means ‘being present’ in the ‘here and now’.  Which in plain English means focusing on what you are doing now, (and on the person you are with!) giving it and them your full attention and not getting distracted. (Research indicates that multi-tasking makes us less effective and reduces our IQ).
  • Put strategies in place to manage your health and wellbeing.  It’s hard to be present when you’re exhausted.
  • Manage your internal ‘state’.  Something as simple as some deep breathing can help to calm us down and to feel more focused.
  • Become aware of your limiting thoughts and beliefs – the ‘I can’t, the ‘I shoulds’ and other things you say to sabotage yourself.  Learn to understand these and to let them go.  (I know that sounds simple and it’s not. That’s where working with a coach, mentor or colleague can really help you to re-write those old scripts about yourself!)
  • Next time you walk into a room, think about how you can do so with ‘leadership presence’.
  • Do you look leader-like?  You might argue that ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ but the truth is that people do just that! This is not only about what you wear but how you carry yourself and your body language generally.
  • Learn to communicate your message.  If you know you struggle to be succinct when you are under pressure ask for a moment to reflect before responding. And remember, less is generally more (in other words, no waffling!) Practise getting to the point quickly!
  • Identify a great role-model and find a way to work with them.
  • Experiment with doing something different.  Just one thing.
  • Be clear what you want to be known for – and why.  That’s your leadership brand.

How do you know if you’ve got Personal Presence?  People will seek you out; you’ll mobilise others’ energy; you’ll be ‘heard’, you’ll influence positively and you’ll probably be described as a great listener and a champion for others’ growth.  In short people will want to work with you and for you because they trust you, like what you stand for and know where they stand with you – and they know that you’ll challenge and support them to do their greatest work.

Not sure if that’s you?  Find someone who will tell you the truth! (Probably someone with Presence!)


The Power of Leadership Presence

Power of Leadership Presence

What is Presence?

‘I know it when I see it’ is what most of us would say. But here’s a definition that might help:

“It reveals itself as the magnetic, radiating effect you have on others when you’re being the authentic you, giving them your full respect and attention, speaking honestly and letting your unique character traits flow. As leaders, we must be technically competent to gain others’ respect, but it’s our unique genuine presence that inspires people and prompts them to trust us’ James Scouller, The Three Levels of Leadership.

So, presence is not an act or an image. It’s not ‘window dressing’; it’s not a ‘charm offensive’ and it’s not about power over others – and it’s not necessarily about title, seniority or age.

And it’s definitely not trying too hard to be somebody else. (Although observing others and learning from them can always help us to be our best – in fact, I highly recommend doing just that!)

One way to look at it is to think about being our best REAL selves!

We’ve all come across leaders with presence.

  • Leaders with presence inspire us to do our best work – and mobilise us to take action.
  • Their words and actions are congruent (they don’t say one thing and do another) and they don’t shy away from dealing with the ‘tough stuff’. They ‘speak their truth’ – concisely, clearly and with impact (no waffling or muttering) – and with positive intent.
  • Leaders with presence are self-confident but not arrogant.
  • They can be at their most powerful and ‘present’ when they are silent; listening. Not just when they are in the spotlight. In fact, leaders with presence can help others to shine.
  • Leaders with presence are comfortable with who they are. That’s NOT the same as saying ‘that’s just the way I am and I can’t change’. Leaders with presence are willing to hear feedback and to improve in the areas that will make a positive difference to their leadership.
  • Leaders with presence often have a strong personal ‘brand.’ We know what they stand for.

Is Presence the same as Charisma?

I don’t believe it is. Leaders with presence may have charisma but leaders with charisma may not necessarily have presence.

On Losing my Personal Presence

Inspiring Leader

I found this quote on a blog post recently and it got me thinking about a conversation I had some years ago with a potential coaching client. It served as one of my best pieces of learning about Personal Presence (and I’ll talk more about this subject over the next couple of weeks).

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. — John Quincy Adams, 6th US president (1767-1848)

This potential client asked to see me as he wanted to be a more inspirational leader.

We’d only just met.  He kept me waiting for half an hour or so with the comment ‘got a lot on, can only spare you 20 minutes.’ (Our meeting was schedule for one hour)

During our conversation, he answered his phone.  Twice.  He was distracted, agitated and not at all focused. I could have challenged him firmly on that.  I didn’t. (Lost Opportunity Number 1)

I started to feel sad for him but also agitated and angry.  And that’s clearly what his team were experiencing too – that was exactly the feedback they’d given him, he told me, in a recent 360 feedback report. The impact he was having on me was the impact he was having with his own team.  His anxiety and lack of focus was causing them to feel anxious and unfocused, too. I didn’t share that observation respectfully with him. (Lost Opportunity Number 2)

An inspiring leader to me is someone who inspires others to do their best work.

In that moment, I did not feel inspired to do my best work.  I wanted to scream or run away.  I could understand how his team were feeling. Could I have shared that observation with him with empathy?  Possibly (Lost Opportunity Number 3)

‘How would it be’, I asked him, ‘if you were to turn your phone off and really focus on this conversation so that we can do some good thinking together about inspiring leadership?’

Actually that’s not true.  That’s what I wish I’d said (isn’t hindsight wonderful…).  I wish I’d helped him make the connection between how he was being on a daily basis, how I was feeling in that moment and the links from both to inspirational leadership.  In short, I wish I’d been more ‘present’.

‘Instead, I colluded with his ‘busyness’ and said maybe we should speak at another time when he was ‘less busy’. (When hell freezes over).

What a series of lost opportunities – for me and for him.  I did not ‘first seeking to understand’; challenge him firmly and respectfully, or connect with him on a personal level – in short, I did not enable him to start to  ‘dream more, learn more, do more and become more’.

Why not?

I was too focused on my own performance, trying too hard to win a new client.

Have you, too, ever ‘given away’ your personal power or presence?

So, what is presence, why is it important and how do we know when we’ve got it?

We Need to Talk – Step Four

Start with the end in mind

In my last few blog postings I’ve been sharing some steps on the journey to mastering those conversations that we’ve been avoiding.

Here’s a recap on what we’ve covered so far:

  • – Step One:  Identify what it is that makes a conversation difficult for YOU
  • – Step Two: identify some choice points
  • – Step Three: Know what you’re feeling and where you’re feeling it

This week we’re looking at Preparation.  Because for so many of us the difficult conversation goes on the ‘too difficult right now’ pile. It feels like too big a task to tackle.

That’s because we don’t allow ourselves time to really think about it, let alone start to do some preparation or quality thinking.

So as Stephen Covey would say….

Start with the end in mind.

Here are four questions to get you started.

Question One: What do I want to achieve from this conversation

  • – For me?
  • – For the other person?
  • – For the organisation?

Question Two: What assumptions might I be making about the situation or the other person?  If I were to step into the other person’s shoes, what might I notice?

Question Three: If I imagine the beginning, middle and end of this conversation, what would be included in each part?

  • – Beginning – outline the issue and your reasons for having the conversation.  Be clear and transparent.
  • – Middle – exploration of the issue or situation from both sides.
  • – End – agreement on next steps, the way forward.

Question Four:  How can I prepare for this conversation?  For some people, it helps to write it down; to practise it out loud with a friend, colleague or their coach. (I practise in the car!)

Of course, you can’t script these conversations but you’ll be amazed at how much writing things down or saying them out loud can help you to feel grounded and prepared for the real thing.

I hope this helps you to make a start.

Because  as they say Prior Proper Planning Prevents P**s  Poor Performance