When I’m coaching, I enjoy exploring whatever the client is most interested in exploring and along the way we might use metaphors, psychometrics, Ted Talks, drawings, strengths cards…and we might not. It all depends on where the client is…and where they want / need to go. Mostly they’re taking the lead but sometimes I’ll offer an insight, a feeling, another client’s experience or a model. Who knows? That’s part of the fun.

And I’ve noticed that there are some concepts and models that come up at some point in many client relationships. So I thought I’d share them with you to inform and navigate your mindset, thinking and behaviours.


1. Lead Yourself Really Well Before Leading Others. Only lead others once you’ve done a lot of work on yourself: who you are (and aren’t), your habits, your behaviours, your impact, your emotional wake. And if you’re already leading others while you’re working on yourself….be curious, interested and humble. Impact? You’ll be leading, not managing or – Heaven Forbid! – micro-managing.

2. Effective Leaders Only Do What Only They Can Do. Because then you’re giving yourself the best chance to focus exclusively on the strategic, cultural and people development opportunities and challenges that need to be focussed upon and you’re enabling others to develop. This concept can enable you to resist any temptation to hang on to your old or favourite tasks and, as a result being over-whelmed or under-performing as a result. Impact? More relating and more strategy, less administration and ‘control’.

3. Focus on Your Desired Output and Ask ‘what will it take to get there?’ With enthusiasm and commitment, outline your desired outcome ‘I want us to have a consistently positive, mutually respectful, customer-focussed and ‘whole team’ relationship: what would it take for us to be there every day in every conversation?’ Impact? Conversations are about possibility not problems.

4. Notice Your (Multiple) Assumptions. So, do you tell yourself that you ‘know’ that your team are overworked so you can’t possibly delegate to them? Maybe they are. But instead of making that assumption, ask them, ‘If I was to delegate this responsibility to you, what would be the impact on you?’ or ‘how could we make this new responsibility for you?’. They might still say no, they’re too busy but at least you’re working from fact and not assumption. Impact? Everyone becomes more alert to their own propensity for making assumptions and more willing to explore instead.

5. Think ‘This needs to be done’ not ‘I must do x’. Impact? More delegation, less stress.

6. Stop Working So Hard. The best leaders don’t work that hard at leading others. Yes, they’re listening, yes they’re paying attention to the words that are said and are not said, yes they’re paying attention to your energy and your behaviours…but they’re enabling you to work through your own thinking, to find your own insights and learning. So if you’re working hard at leading others: stop trying to come up with all the answers and the ideas. Stop working too hard and create the environment within which others can make their contribution. Impact? Your colleagues will contribute more.

7. Start With Why. Always Start with Why. Why? Because when we know our ‘why’ we can’t help but bring energy and passion. Impact? Choose a ‘why?’ that genuinely means something to you and people will join you in delivering it.

8. Manage your Energy and your Priorities, not Your Time. However hard we try to fight it, we only have 168 hours a week but the more we pay attention to what energises us, the better chance we have to embrace the extra productivity that comes with it. Impact? Energy!

9. Real Leaders Embrace and Share Their Vulnerabilities. And they live to tell the tale. It’s OK to feel emotions, it’s OK to share those insecurities and worries (and those successes too!). Your colleagues will still respect and like you, maybe even more so once they see that you’re willing to trust them because you’re letting them see that you’re human too. Impact? A gentle shift towards ‘opening up’ to trusted others.

10. ‘Being yourself’ is Important …. but only when combined with ‘your best self’ and ‘continuous feedback and self-development’. Sorry but ‘being yourself’ is overly hyped right now and can be used as an excuse for poor behaviour, ‘that’s just the way I am!’. Yes, be true to your values…whilst seeking out feedback, looking for learning opportunities and aspiring to be the best you can be in every conversation and interaction. Impact? Clarity.

11. Monitor Your Self-Talk. Everyone talks to themselves, whether they’re aware of it or not. Sadly, most self-talk is toxic, judgemental and bitter in tone. Once you’re aware of this, try adjusting yourself-talk to reflect how you would typically speak to your best-friend instead. Impact? Demonstrating more self-compassion and kindness to yourself will enable you to demonstrate it to others too.

12. Finish Conversations asking, ‘What have you heard in this conversation?’ Listening is an under-rated and under-practiced skill and as a result many people have never learned how to listen properly and therefore aren’t hearing you accurately. By asking people to reflect back to you what they’ve taken away from the conversation, you’ll both become much more aware of how you’re well you’re communicating (and how you could be better) and how well they’re listening (and where there’s room for improvement). Impact? You may be surprised how differently two people in the same conversation are (not!) hearing each other!

So, you’ve heard mine. What are yours and why?