More about Employee enlightenment

During these uncertain times it’s worth exploring how organisations can work together and maximize the contribution of everyone

employee-engagementLatest blog from bookboon about my book follows on from the February newsletter and continues to explore the engagement as a management device or as a tool for growth

Employee Engagement: Organisational Brain Washing or Enlightenment?

Change and a whole new world or not?

Change can be scary even in a turbulent world

Throughout our lives and careers we all have to cope with times of change, either of our own making or where we are pushed into it. With the changes in governments, changes in expectations of how stable or consistent the world will be. What is it that we can do, well we can all opt out, run for the hills or realize that these changes will happen and that we can influence somethings and sometimes we are unable too. I heard a radio programme the other day where they talked about a post trust age, really have we really stopped trusting

There’s no denying that change can be scary, but that’s normal.  There are several perfectly justifiable and normal stages that we go through.  The first is normally panic, followed by confusion and then a need to find out more information.  You can’t subvert those stages, but by helping people through that process and by encouraging them to do things that are positive and productive it can change their view of the situation.

This time of year is one of reflection and looking back so for me its been a different year, writing more, spending time with family especially recently arrived granddaughter, enjoying working with new people and deciding what to do next.

Worst case scenario

When career coaching, the first and the only piece of advice I would give would be to stop panicking.  Of course, that’s very easy to say and quite hard to do.

In my experience people tend to react far too quickly.  For example, if they are losing their job they will often write their CV the day after they know they are going and send off several applications straightaway. But they are still at the very beginning of a personal change process where they are learning about what they need to and how to get there.

By really taking some time to explore what they’re good at, what they enjoy doing, what the most important thing for them is about their new role and what outcome they want, is a vital process.  It provides the best possible start to know how to move forward and I’ve found that getting this key stage right saves people huge amounts of time, effort and anxiety later.  If it’s not carried out properly they’ll keep coming back to it.
It’s also often the case that things are not as bad as they seem.  So it’s a good idea for people to write down the worst case scenario.  After writing it down and thinking about what would be the worst that could happen, it usually doesn’t seem as bad and some of the anxiety disappears and it becomes more manageable.   We have a tendency to over think.

I also like to challenge people’s assumptions about what they can do and help them think things through calmly and rationally and above all to do things that are productive to help them change their view of what’s around them.  By following this process it’s possible to start that person’s own journey to where they want to go by helping them come up with the solutions themselves.

My own goals for next year are to be published again this time on employee engagement something that is very important but missed by many organisations, do more public speaking its a real buzz and the most important thing be happy and enjoy life.

What do you think of current trends on problems for companies and people?


For organisations
Larger organisations are looking for more tailored and integrated ways of driving action. When trying to marshal large scale diverse and remote work forces the one size fits all doesn’t work. Localized, targeted and aligned programmes have a far higher chance of success.

Sometimes organisations rely on shuffling the pack to solve the organisational ills, this form of illness shows itself in dysfunctional behaviours, over competition, in fighting and empire building, which results in a lack of trust and a huge waste of resources.

Looking for a magic bullet has long since been a recipe for failure, so what is driving the lack of progress within organisations?
The same old gets the same old
Being covert instead of explicit
Following a process blindly without full examination of the risks; being a robot not a human. Allowing senior people to work by cliques and head / horns approaches; everyone must be like my own image, speak the same jargon and not be a threat to me in any way.

Organisations need to regenerate a sense of belonging and re-establish trust and integrity levels. Having open and clear conversations has an enormous pay off. Collaborative and collective forms of leadership are the key a common message in a common way with personalized emphasis

To use a football metaphor, when the team doesn’t perform there’s always another manager with a great reputation ready to step in and save the day. The boss stays for a shorter time, the MD is on the line, too, and their time may be short. Some organisations are becoming skeletal in nature; too thin to survive. Therefore, there is no room to anticipate or deal with any fluctuation of the plan.

Risks and experimentation are at a minimum. Innovation is marginalized and the same old gets the same old. Change is not getting any slower and shortages exist at all key levels, so perhaps getting the best from people is not such a costly idea and practice after all. The world is small and big at the same time; speed and flexibility are the key.

So how can these patterns be avoided? Clarity and trust are the keys; clarity about what the organisation is about and trust of the people to be involved, engaged and a part of the organisation.

For individuals
Resilience is the key. Keep learning, take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. Look for the good in what’s happening and have realistic expectations. Enjoy the now.

Many of these approaches sound simple to do, but often the complexity and pressure of organisational life means that we are distracted and unable to focus because of fears, real or imagined, and in this position of weakness people are expected to give of their best? Really?

Be self reliant, self motivated and self developmental, because in some strange way this is what the organisation wants from you, and it’s what you want for yourself.

Learning is the key. Keep being open to new and different things; give the brain something to work with.

The more we express our concerns and see the reality of them, and the more we develop our dreams, the more they turn into reality.

Time is finite, most other things can be adjusted.

Let me know what other problems are holding your organisation back from within.

Five Top Tips
1. Encourage your staff to voice their opinions and thoughts.

2. Reward creativity, even if at first it seems like a mad idea.

3. When reaching consensus give time to overcome obstacles or you will only come back to them later.

4. Recognize that learning takes place every day and encourage everyone to share what they have learned this week or month.

5. Start with trusting yourself and finish with trusting the team and the organisation.

Leaders are like icebergs

October 2015 Newsletter

What’s going on in the innovative leader’s mind?
When thinking about an Innovative Leaders mind-set, what else is going on inside the leaders mind?
I started to wonder what might be the top five characteristics for leaders with an innovative mind set, so just for a moment I thought about being innovative and some themes emerged: stillness, daydreaming, sketching for the mind, lot of questions. So for me, being curious, bouncing back and being flexible and being my true self come to the fore.
So how would you rate yourself on having a innovative leaders mindset say on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being very well? Rate yourself against some of these key indicators:
1. Curiosity the ability to explore without judgment and preconceived ideas
2. Encouragement the ability to nurture the new and small seed of an idea
3. Resilience the ability to keep going, viewing mistakes as learning
4. Flexibility the ability to be agile and adapt to the current and future demands
5. Honesty the ability to be authentic and true to yourself and others.
The Innovative Leaders mind-set – what’s at the corner of the page? What’s just within your memory but not fully formed?

Quality thinking
When thinking about this article I became drawn to a book Time to Think: Listening to ignite the human mind by Nancy Kline ISBN-13: 978-0706377453 on my bookshelf that seemed to be summarizing many of the areas that came to mind when pondering about an innovative leadership mind-set. In particular, many of the thinking principles, for example:
1. Everything we do depends for its quality on the thinking we do first. Our thinking depends on the quality of our attention for each other
2. Thinking at its best is not just a cool act of celebration it is also a thing of the heart
3. A thinking environment is a set of ten conditions under which human beings can think for themselves with rigour and imagination, courage and grace
4. Listening of this calibre ignites the human mind
5. Between you and a wellspring of good ideas is a limiting assumption. This assumption can be removed with incisive questions
6. Incisive questions increase the functional intelligence of human beings.
Sounds like some reflective coaching is in order to help tease out what has not quite yet been discovered, so to quote Steve Jobs, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

profileVision, Mission, Ambition and Role
So, if leadership is ‘the capability to express a vision, influence others to achieve results, encourage team cooperation, and be an example’, as Robert Dilts says, then an Innovative Leader’s mind-set encourages what’s not been tried, what else is possible, and so by reviewing your biggest success and pinpointing the smallest steps that created it you can develop a model for success.

Dilts refers to these factors as:
What do you want to create in the world through you but that is beyond you? What services, benefits and contributions do you want to make to your customers, society, the environment, etc.?
What is your unique contribution to making the vision happen?
What are the special resources, capabilities and actions that you will develop, mobilize and apply to reach the vision?
What type of status and performance do you want to achieve with respect to yourself and others (stakeholders, competitors,etc.)?
What type of individual (or organization) do you need to be in order to reach the status and level of performance you want to achieve?

We can consider the mind-set aspect of the Innovative Leader’s mind-set by looking into the latest research and thinking in Neuroscience. Neuroscience is concerned with improving understanding of the brain and how it works, how we process information and the reason we make some basic cognitive mistakes (limitations), why change is so hard and how to better manage change, why we react negatively in certain situations and how emotions can be better regulated.

The brain is actually never at rest but actively processing and internalizing existing knowledge (to make sense of the world). When you stop processing external information, quality internal processing can take place. For example, daydreaming, envisioning the future, retrieving memories, and gauging others’ perspectives.

Leaders are like icebergs (learning is what lies beneath the surface and much is hidden).
What we can see (above the surface):
traditions, symbols, artifacts, behaviours, customs, and symbols.
What we can’t see (below the water line):
perceptions, world views, attitudes, motives, values, beliefs, thoughts.

With the ever evolving nature of business, leadership and the work environment that we live in, the need to be more innovative and understand how we think and improve our own thinking processes are ever present.

I hope this article has intrigued you, made you think, want to know more So if this collection of thoughts and observations has sparked your interest get in touch and  share some insight and discover how to release innovation in you.



What’s the common problem that you encounter?

March 2015 newsletter plus a day

Unfortunately the most common problem I’ve encountered is one where people at various levels inside the organization have given up listening to each other. Instead of trying to really understand what the problem is, people’s reaction is either to ask ‘who did that’ or ‘why was that done’, neither of which actually solves the problem but just allows for someone to be blamed.

‘Problems’, ‘issues’ and ‘concerns’

It’s interesting, but nowadays we can’t even talk about a ‘problem’ for the problem is now renamed an ‘issue’ or a ‘concern’.  I like to think of problems in a slightly different way; that problems are a puzzle for us to solve.

This changes people’s minds about the problem, as a puzzle becomes something that we all want to get involved in and try to find the answer to. This not listening disease infiltrates and closes off parts of an organisation. It is very insidious and creeps up, even in the best of organisations; those which have great things like employee surveys, engagement practices, talent management, and a whole host of very complex and very well-meaning ways of trying to get their employees to exchange their views thoughts and feelings.
The trouble is that organisations talk about everything that is complex in the company’s mission, vision and where it should be in the future. These are all great things and needed, but what is not accepted and understood is that people go to work for a huge variety of reasons. These reasons need to be acknowledged and valued even though they may not be the same reasons as a senior manager or specialist. People have the right to have their own reasons and for those reasons to be respected.

It’s the age-old problem about listening, learning and putting things into practice. It may not be as sexy, as complex or as highbrow as we might like it to be, but it is a very fundamental issue (sorry, problem) and the undercurrent behind the difficulties when people experience feeling undervalued and ignored.

One great saying I came across the other day is that if you treat your people like donkeys it’s no wonder that they say neigh.

Another date for the creative and intuitive:
Thursday 18th June
The Artist & The Engineer: coaching using harmonised approaches
See your inner Artisteer!

Integration from the world of the arts and science.  Understand how these approaches converge and flow together.

To book, please send an email to  or and we will invoice you directly. You will be able to pay by BACS, cheque and Paypal.

I hope this newsletter has provoked some thought. For those who want to be provoked further, I am very happy to help you along the way.  Feel free to contact me on 01793 882058 or via