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I bet you get pulled into this kind of destructive, competitive thinking


I’ve taken my teen daughter and her friend camping (in the rain), and I don’t really know how the camper works plus I have significant parking anxiety.

Did I mention the rain? ⛈️

I went for an early morning swim feeling much impressed with myself and aiming to stay for an hour of meditative front crawl.

Then I noticed another person in the pool.

Could I swim faster than them?

When I was consistently half a length ahead, I noticed I was out of breath and tense, so I let it go.

Back to meditation. 🏊‍♀️

Then I started counting my strokes and trying to reduce them. Dammit, tense again.

Back to meditation (with gritted teeth) and I was only 20 minutes in.

I wondered how long the other person was going to swim for. I couldn’t get out before them.

I got into my stride (or is that stroke) and started to relax. .🏊‍♀️

But I had half an eye on her. Why wasn’t she finishing? Couldn’t she tell I was worrying about whether there’d be any pastries left in the campsite shop?

Then I just stopped.

I’d swum for 45 minutes and enjoyed about 7 of them.

This type of competitive thinking isn’t healthy for me– making comparisons with other people is just destructive most of the time.

But I need competition to motivate myself sometimes.

So I’ve come up with a different measure for tomorrow’s swim that’s nothing to do with clock-watching or comparisons.

I’m going to set a distance and swim it however long it takes.

Being competitive is part of my success – so I’m trying hard to be kind to myself.

If you’re interested in better leadership, creating high performance habits and being the best version of yourself I bet you’ve fallen into this trap too.

Here’s what I do when I notice it happening: 

  • Change the measures  – like in the example above
  • Consider what actions the future version of myself wants me to take (rather than obsessing about an award winning author 🤦‍♀️or leadership guru)
  • Remember the mantra ‘stop comparing your insides to their outsides’
  • Collaborate – a team will normally out perform an individual

And if this kind of thinking never happens to you – let me know your secret and I will share it with this community so we can all benefit!

What I value (slightly) more than financial freedom


You’ve asked your team to list their key priorities.

Someone’s written up Increase Sales and Improve Customer Service 🥱.

So, it’s important to be selling more stuff without hacking people off.

No sh*t Sherlock.

It struck me recently, as I was halfway through the new Wham documentary (always a George Michael fan, never really saw the point of Andrew Ridgely) why it’s so tricky to make this kind of exercise particularly useful.

First, let’s start with Andrew Ridgely.

He started out as the powerhouse of Wham. He co-wrote songs, created their look and was the confident go-getter. But after George Michael found his mojo, Andrew became just the pretty sidekick.

In the documentary, Andrew said he was touring the world, spending cash and being famous – what’s not to like?

I realised I would NOT feel the same about that situation. Nothing could compensate for the misery of not contributing creatively and being recognised as making an impact.

That’s when it hit me.

I value making an impact even over financial freedom.

Both are important but instead of just identifying them I’d prioritised them.

Now I have crucial information that can guide my decision making.

For example, I won’t sign up to deliver someone else’s material even if they were paying me over the odds. Not being in control would reduce my ability to have impact and I might turn into Andrew Ridgely (without the world-wide fame and big hair).

So, next time you come up with a list of things that all seem important to your team, force yourselves to pair them up and create ‘even over’ statements.

This will probably create much debate – but I bet you’ll find that significantly more useful than just a dreary list of team priorities.

And if you want a referee facilitator to help you make sense of the session, just press reply and we can chat about how that might work.

This team is more impressive than a Formula 1 pit crew (and they smile continuously) Would I lie to you?


You’re on a flight.

You’re absentmindedly watching the safety briefing.

And you’re also wondering how the cabin crew would cope if a massive hole were torn in the fuselage.

Dammit, that’s just me isn’t it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a flight – and yes I also have carbon footprint guilt – but there’s one part of the whole process that fascinates me.

The airline cabin crew.

Specifically, watching them serve food and drink to over 200 (mostly awkward bastard) passengers. They’re more impressive than a Formula 1 pit crew (in my humble opinion) who are arguably a highly coordinated group of specialist individuals.

Cabin crew have to navigate an ever changing scenario as an interdependent team – plus it involves the general public.

Which we all know means gritting their teeth and smiling in the face of someone complaining about their tea being too hot.

And not only are they serving you food and drinks, they might just be keeping you alive one day – remember the gaping hole in the fuselage? Oh, you were trying to forget, sorry.

The Cabin Crew Test

I would argue that if a cabin crew are not high performing, then us holiday makers are all screwed (so to speak). So, how would your team compare to a mighty cabin crew?

I believe they have the following attributes in abundance. Score your own team out of 5 for each bullet:

  • We’re clear on our purpose and the shared endeavour
  • We listen well – to customers, the team, the changing environment
  • We agree on the best way to work together
  • We reflect on how we’re doing as a team
  • No one is afraid to speak up and give feedback
  • Our processes are effective
  • Our roles and responsibilities are clear

I’m going to bet you a pot of Yum-Me Penne Arrabbiata (right from the EasyJet inflight menu, I know, right), that you scored low on at least 2 of these bullets.

I am yet to sit with a team that isn’t a little inconsistent in one or more of these areas (apart from maybe my time at Mayden – my new Podcast episode about this coming up soon!)

What to do?

  • Invite your team to score themselves
  • Chat about the scores
  • What came out top, low or was inconsistent?
  • Which areas would give you the biggest impact if you were to work on them?
  • Agree to try a few experiments to see what happens
  • Work on them
  • Review how it’s going

Doing this will feel good because you’ll get more stuff done.

Plus it’s more likely to be the right stuff that will bring results.

And if you want your team to truly take off (see what i did there?) just hit reply and we can chat.

Just stop being a coach then. He said to my stroppy little face.


“Just stop being a coach then.”

That’s not what I’d been expecting from Steve. My then partner, now husband, who was himself a coach.

Let me take you back to 2013.

Pharrell Williams’ wretched song Happy was at number 1.

And I was transitioning from being an employed coach to starting my own business following the redundancies of me and my whole team. Cue, I’m not good enough-itis.

I was wallowing in the depths of my imposter syndrome and Steve was trying all sorts of tactics to help me.

This was a typical conversation.

“Look at the results you’ve had with leaders.”

“What if I can’t repeat them?”

“What’s the worst that could happen?”

“I can’t make my business work and I’ll have to get a job at B & Q.”

“Have you seen how many middle aged, mostly men, there are calling themselves coaches when all they’re doing is churning out the same old advice?”

“That doesn’t mean I’ll make it work.”

I had all the answers.

It was at the end of one of these wallowfests that Steve said the immortal line:

Just stop being a coach then.

It silenced me. And in that silence, I had to think. REALLY think. Being a coach was part of my identity and I loved it.

That night I listed all the ways I could bridge the gap between feeling like an OK coach and being an awesome coach.

The next day I researched ways I could build on my coaching accreditation. That was the start of my journey into more coaching qualifications, group supervision, mentoring and mastery workshops. And it’s never ended.

What Steve did that night was knock the ball back at me so hard that I had to take ownership of my decisions and cut the crap. He stopped rescuing me and it drove me into action.

What’s your approach when members of your team are seemingly stuck?

Do you attempt to relieve someone from the pain of their challenges?

I bet you mean well, but is there a danger you’re robbing them of the responsibility and ownership of THEIR problem?

I have to ask myself this question virtually every time I talk to my teenage daughter 😊

It’s wild when I reflect back on where I was a decade ago, since then I’ve:

– partnered with countless leaders and C Suite execs to transform themselves and their teams

– help change the workplace cultures within anything from a bespoke playground manufacturers to a multi-national corporation.

-and I recorded another episode of my brand new podcast this morning (watch this space for the launch!)

There are so many exciting things going on in my business these days.

It all feels a world away from those anxious days of 2013.

So if you or someone in your team is also suffering from feeling stuck and you need to change the story and the outcome, hit reply and we can schedule a chat!

1 simple conversation to quadruple engagement in their first week


Just overheard a plumber talking to one of his guys. I’m in a café just in case you’re wondering.

It sounded great at first.

“We’re a team and we’re here for you, if one of us fails we all fail.”

Nice. Then he went on a bit longer.

“Here’s what to do if you’re not sure about something….. This is my ethos about running a business…”

And a bit longer still

“Blah, blah, blah.” (sorry I stopped listening at this point)”

I’m sure he meant well and was one of the good guys. But it was a one directional mini lecture. His employee was staring at the table like a teenager who’d just been caught vaping.

Imagine if he’d approached it more like this:

So tell me about other places you’ve worked. What was great? Anything drive you nuts? What happened if you weren’t sure about something?

What happened when someone made a mistake? How was it handled?

How have you found things here since you started? I really value your perspective.

This is what we aim for…

What do you hope to achieve over the next 6 months?

What else could we do to support you?

Can you see how drastically different that is?

One simple conversation could tick many important boxes:

Employee Engagement ✅
Commitment ✅
Productivity ✅
Ownership ✅
Learning ✅

Some leaders are in love with the sound of their own voice (not you obviously) and others just don’t have a clue how to start asking more powerful questions.

If this describes you, I can recommend an excellent book or two, or I could help you become a leader that gets better results.

Either way, hit reply and we can schedule a chat


P.s. I made up the quadruple thing- I bet it’s more than that. Feel free to try it and let me know what you think the multiplier should be.

Tiny ways you can create leaders not followers


Don’t you just hate it when someone slips into conversation how nice the sunrise was when they left the gym that morning? Or they make that achy muscles noise when they drop into a chair.


Hate them.


So anyway, I was totally at my gym class at 6.10am this morning! I’m not even going to be subtle about it (but in a tick I’ll segway to a leadership technique my PT does without thinking).


I’m on week 3 of a small group weights class and I’m awesome.


OK, I’m actually pretty weak. I’m not fitness shy but could I lift more than the bar (without any flipping weights) in week 1?




Week 2 and the PT put on tiny weights! Would I have pushed myself this hard alone? No way.


He could see my potential where I can only see weakness (note: leadership segway in progress).


Week 3 and he said:  ‘What weight do you think you can lift?’


He is giving me autonomy – I had to use my brain and think for myself. Keep my PT in mind when you consider your role as a leader.

You are there to create more thoughtful leaders – not passengers or followers.


This week, consider how you can:


  • reach for great questions instead of dishing out instructions.
  • rethink the praise. Less is more. Be specific, not gushy.
  • set your expectations high. And don’t cancel the check ins.


All sounds great but you’re too busy to even tie your own shoelaces?


You’re going to love my Leaders Guide to Increasing Your Impact, Influence & Free Time. 

Succession planning done right: lessons from my client

I recently worked with a senior team who were not only busy, but they were overwhelmed in the day-to-day firefighting.

Burn out was on the horizon and they all knew it.

The tactic they would have used when I first started working with them: run faster and harder.

Since working on their team effectiveness, they are now: running a different race.

They recognised the problem, so we scheduled an offsite. This is what they achieved:

1.      They redesigned their leadership structure.

2.      They created or redesigned several roles.

3.      They recruited for their successors.

4.      They are investing in coaching and mentoring to integrate them into the executive team.

While this approach may not be feasible for all businesses, there are key takeaways to be learned.

⭐ Having open and forward-looking conversations to identify potential successors is crucial. This team recognised their vulnerability and took action to balance responsibilities.

⭐ Coach and mentor your high potentials – rather than selecting their favourites or longest serving people. Using data to determine the right fit for the role is essential.

⭐ The Exec team were comfortable with letting go of control and allowing for change. While it may be uncomfortable, it is necessary to embrace new dynamics and ways of doing things.

Consider what steps you are taking to ensure a successful succession plan. And how can you identify potential successors and actively prepare them for leadership roles?

I hope this has given you some valuable insights into the importance of proactive succession planning and investing in your high-potential employees.

If you’d like to discuss how I can help you develop your high potentials, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

How to be world class: What Bristol Bears physio taught me about leadership

My physio, Ed Wilson, used to be 1st team Physiotherapist at Bristol Bears Rugby. He’s the only therapist able to get results with my husband’s complicated back, so I’m a fan.

Yesterday, while he was treating my dodgy knee, I discovered what makes him a cut above the rest – and how (with courage and discipline) you can apply these lessons to your own leadership.

#1 He Practices what he Preaches

Ed lives and breathes sport, anatomy, injuries, and rehab exercises. In contrast, I once went to a physio who couldn’t demo the exercises on both sides because his core wasn’t strong enough.

Are you expecting your leaders to venture into leadership territory that you’re too lazy/busy/senior to tread?

Are you doing great 121s, giving and asking for feedback, setting clear expectations of performance and not shying away from crucial (sometimes difficult) conversations?

#2 He Is Scrutinised

Working with the Bristol Bears meant Ed couldn’t hide in a clinic. He treated players alongside other physios, doctors, and coaches – and sometimes in front of 25,000 spectators.

As a leader, it takes courage to invite someone to observe you in your natural habitat – but you will only become world class if you welcome scrutiny.

Invite a coach to:

  • observe you running a goal setting session
  • open your strategic map up to interrogation
  • send surveys to your team asking for feedback.

#3 He Doesn’t Pretend to Have all the Answers

Ed couldn’t fake it when he had a top-class players’ career on the line. He didn’t expect to know everything – so he made referrals regularly.

Leadership can be lonely (let alone counterproductive and exhausting) if you keep trying to have all the solutions.

Remember what Steve Jobs said about how “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do.”

If you’re an advice monster, challenge yourself to invite your team to provide solutions.

#4 Continual Learning is Not Optional

Even through lockdown, Ed had to prove he was developing his practice. His professional credibility rests on him proving it.

You don’t always need coaching to develop yourself as a leader – but one thing you must do regularly is reflect.

Regularly ask yourself (and team): What have I learned about myself? What has made me more effective? What behaviours have I tried to stop or start?

Are you a Mountain Gorilla or a Meercat?

One of my favourite activities is observing teams (David Attenborough style) coming together in the wilds of the boardroom. Contact me if you’re interesting in identifying ways you can all become more effective.

And if you live near Bristol and want a top-quality physio, contact Ed Wilson

When your answer doesn’t land like you intend

Your colleague asks you:

“I’d like your thoughts on whether we should go with decision A or decision B?”

And you say:

“I don’t care.”

How would they feel?

It might not be how you intended. ☹

‘I don’t care’ was the go-to phrase my client was using.

He’s a high achiever – he’s efficient and productive BUT he sometimes put these qualities above the need for good work relationships. He didn’t see there was a problem.

I shared how it would make me feel: dismissed and like he really didn’t care.

This was not his intention. He just wanted to prevent a ‘pointless’ conversation when A or B would both have been a good solution.

What he thought he was communicating was this:

“I don’t mind, either is fine. I trust your expertise when it comes to making that decision.”

He signed up to my Stakeholder Centred Coaching programme because he wasn’t getting buy in from colleagues, he is ambitious and it’s clear he has massive potential, but he’d reached a ceiling.

To kick off the programme he asked his colleagues for feedback and suggestions on how he could improve, he gave permission for them to tell him what they thought.

Previously, his colleagues had been too scared of his reaction to share how saying ‘I don’t care’ made them feel. This all changed when he was open with them about HOW he wanted to change and WHY.

The result:

They’re now going the extra mile for him and he’s building up credit in the relationship bank account. This is key given his bigger goal of soon becoming a Director in the business.

If you or your leaders are employing a coach, you’re unlikely to get this kind of result if the conversations don’t go beyond the boardroom.

Want to find out what amazing results you could get if you use a Stakeholder Centred Approach?

Contact me and we can have a chat.

Work life balance sorted? This blog isn’t for you

If your diary is always neatly organised, never gets double-booked, and you have plenty of time to go for a bike ride over lunch, then this message may not be for you.

But for everyone else, keep reading.

I bet you’re looking to delegate more effectively. Feeling overwhelmed and like work is not sustainable is a common problem. Perhaps your team wants more responsibility, and you’ve got an eye on succession planning.

Being a great leader is about enabling others, and you want to do just that.

The issue is that every time you delegate a task successfully, something replaces it, and you’re stuck in a game of whack-a-mole. But here’s the important extra step you may be missing.

Just yesterday, I was coaching an Associate Director who wants his managers to delegate more. He’s exhausted and noticed that one of his managers had started working into the night.

Our conversation went like this:

“If your managers start delegating more, what will this enable them to do?”

“They can get a better work/life balance and start being the go-to people in the team and take some of that burden from me.”

“And what will that enable you to do that you’re not doing now?”

“I want some thinking time.”

“To think about what?”

There was a big pause, and then he said:

“Future developments. We need to be cutting edge, and I need the capacity to plan and innovate. And I’ve got an ISO accreditation I’m responsible for that is crucial for future bids and is in danger of failing.”

Jackpot. He was telling me about the important work that gets sacrificed because of the “busy.”

If you don’t describe the important work, you can’t tell your managers about it, you can’t measure whether it’s happening, and you’ll have no accountability.

Which means it won’t happen. And you’ll keep prioritising the “busy” until there’s a work crisis.

Or worse, a life crisis.

P.S. Curious? The first step is a no pressure intro chat. When we have that call, we’ll get you clear on what’s keeping you from the important work.