Making small out loud commitments can start the path to a big change

Some of you may have noticed that my blog has not been updated for ages.  You may have assumed that I am no longer coaching and the site has gone quiet.  Or maybe you thought I just had nothing new to say.

Both of these assumptions are incorrect:

- I am still actively coaching people to help them develop both themselves and the people around then; and

- I ALWAYS have something to say.

People follow leaders they trust. How do you build trust?

In my discussions with clients, we spend a lot of time talking about the difference between leadership and management.  One of the key differences is that, managers control what people do while leaders empower people to do go out and do things.  This often leads into a long discussion about how to empower others.  One of the big things that enable people to feel empowered is that they trust the person empowering them.

Do you need to build relationships with new people?

As a general rule, people build strong relationships with those they feel comfortable with. Here are 5 things you can do to make it easier for people to feel comfortable with you quicker.

1. Learn… about their priorities, goals, and objectives.  Make the conversation about them not about you.  Find out what they want to talk about and then ask them lots of when, what, and how questions.  Just remember – it’s a conversation not an interrogation!

Want to get your employees to do more?

Then take an interest in their future.

Have you ever noticed that there are managers who can get their employees to go beyond what is “normal”? To get them to do things that are professionally or personally risky? And what is more, when they do, their employees strive to achieve it and take it as a positive challenge.  Why is this?  

Are you finding your days at work all merging into one and your morning enthusiasm has disappeared?

Maybe you need to look at how you end your days!

It is 9am, you walk into your office, see your desk piled high with that project that just will not finish. Immediately your enthusiasm drops.  “Here we go again!!”

Why is giving feedback to your employees such a difficult task?

It shouldn’t be, if you know how to prepare!

A well functioning team always achieves more than individuals on their own.  Part of being a good manager is being able to manage this team.  Sometimes this is easy and sometimes it can be a challenge.  One thing that I have found is that, no matter what the situation, people find it difficult to give their employees feedback – whether it be good or bad.

Feedback is key to a successful working relationship.  People need to know what you want and they need to know what to change.

What makes a great leader?

When I ask people “what makes them a good manager?” they often consider the ability to get things done as extremely important.  However when I ask employees what makes a good manager I get a rather different answer.  It is much less task focused and much more personal.

A while ago I read an article, which summarized 10 things, that great leaders all have in common.  The 10 things were:

Are you chasing “work/life balance”?

 A change in focus can make a big difference!

I work with a lot of people.  Most of them are executives or professionals in high positions in their organisations.   This often translates to difficult jobs requiring their constant attention and large amounts of their time.  It is no wonder then that work/life balance is a common topic of discussion – how to achieve that illustrious balance of time between what you need to at work and what you want to do at home.

Want to give even better presentations?

Improve not only the content; improve the performance.

In my last blog, I talked about how to improve the content of your presentations.  If you haven’t read it, I suggest you check it out first.  

In my view, even more important than the content is how you present.  While people will always listen to an interesting topic, they can only engage with an interesting person.  Like anything, there are skills involved and you need to work on improving them.

Want to give better presentations?

Start by improving the content

I have been discussing how to improve presentation skills with one of my clients.  For me, a presentation is a performance – it is an art rather than a science – and it should be looked at this way.

The first thing to focus on is the script.  What are you going to talk about?  

I have five tips to help you with getting the content of your presentation right.  Let’s start with an obvious one that everyone knows but never does.

1) Prepare

If you must have an argument how do you better your chances of success?

We all have to deal with difficult situations and difficult people.  Avoiding all guns blazing confrontations and arguments should be the aim.  But lets face it, sometimes it just can’t be avoided.  To help in these situations, I came across these four tips.  It works on you being able to do two important things:

Need to get people to change their mind?

Then act like an FBI Hostage Negotiator.  Use a five-step approach:

  1. Active Listening: Listen to the other side and make them aware you're listening.

  2. Empathy: Get an understanding of where they're coming from and what they’re feeling.

  3. Rapport: Empathy is what you feel. Rapport is when they feel it back. This is where you build trust.

What makes great leaders?

I came across an excellent article a while back entitled “10 Things the Greatest Leaders All Have in Common.”  The 10 things identified were:

Do you listen in meetings?

I covered this in the presentation I did at the Russian CFO summit but I thought that I would expand on it a little bit more for those of you who didn’t see it.

Yes, I am sure that when someone comes into your office you hear what he or she is saying but are you really listening? 

Do these statements describe you?

Recent presentation at the 2013 Russian CFO Summit

Earlier in the week I was invited to speak at the 10th Anniversary Adam Smith Russian CFO Summit (  While I have been invited to speak and/or attend previously, I have never been able to.  It is the #1 CFO event in Russia and is pretty much a who’s who of the CFO world.

Are you really thinking strategically?

It is interesting, as a senior executive, you are supposed to spend your time thinking strategically.  Many people think they do.  Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself:

1) Are you thinking about how to do things more effectively or more efficiently?

2) Are you thinking about doing the “right thing” or doing “things right”?

Are you a consultant? Do you want to be a “trusted advisor” to your clients?

Maybe you need to trust THEM more!

Strong client relationships are key as they create opportunities for providing more services. The pinnacle of this is: Being considered a “Trusted Advisor.”

I was a consultant and a client of consultants. My realisation: many consultants think that are giving advice, and maybe they are, but its only technical and business at best.

Need more control over your time?

Simple: Delegate control to someone else

Yes, it may seem strange but one way you can get more control over your time is to let your personal assistant manage it.

The majority of my clients have personal assistants in their work life. Yet it is amazing how many of them use their PAs as secretaries rather than assistants. What's the difference?

Do you spend too much time in meetings?

Electronic calendars are a fantastic tool. They allow you to know where you need to be when where ever you are. If you want a meeting with someone, you can just send them an invitation and it shows up in their calendar. There is a downside to this - do you now spend your life in meetings? Do you open your calendar in the morning and see no white space? How can you get more control over this? I suggest you ask three simple questions when anyone asks for a meeting:


Stay tuned.  The blog will be up and running shortly.