Join me as we explore my latest coaching insights.

Does this sound like leaders’ heaven to you? Imagine you are able to negotiate any deal, win arguments and influence people to do what you know needs doing. There’s ample evidence this is possible – the tool is rapport. This post is about the nature and power of rapport and how to build and use rapport to influence and persuade others, at all times with integrity. Importantly, using rapport is notabout being manipulative.

While working with an executive coaching client facing a tricky change management situation, I came across Stop Overdoing Your Strengthsa telling HBR article by Bob Kaplan and Rob Kaiser. Kaplan’s and Kaiser’s messages about the dangers of over-doing your strengths as a leader are enduring, powerful truths. And their practical application helped my client see that the more forceful she became with her team, the less she succeeded in getting the results expected by the executive committee.

As a leader you need to ask yourself three questions about your network and score of your answers out of 5: [1] How important is the quality of your network to accomplishing your goals, [2] How do you rate the quality of your current network, and [3] How smartly do you work to maximise your network advantages?

Typically, I hear executives answer 4–5, 3–2, and 1–2, respectively. If you’re like most, you are in this zone, so read on…

Richard Branson's 'Dear Stranger' letter is a profound piece published on 3 February 2017. I found Dear Stranger on Happiness, a Virgin blog, packed with wise ideas shared by inspiring people. In publishing Dear Stranger on Letting Go. Stepping Up. I acknowledge Richard Branson and the original source, Dear Stranger, a 2015 collection of inspirational, heartfelt letters to an imagined stranger from many authors, collated by Mind, a mental health charity.

In today’s enterprises truly effective leaders deliver outcomes by persuading for results. Without the ability to persuade, a leader is hamstrung and cannot realise her or his vision where this requires the collective actions of others – direct reports, peers, superiors, clients, suppliers and other stakeholders. Competence in the art of persuasion enables a leader to get things done without coercion.

The topic of becoming a strategic leader arises with more than a few of my clients who have been advised in performance discussions that they need to become ‘more strategic’ in their style of leadership. Typically, they’re in senior functional or operational roles and are being considered for enterprise-level positions. To respond, they need to understand how strategic and operational thinking and action differ.

Getting from good to great explains why and how to super-charge your career success. Most of us will remember the story of the hedgehog and the fox as a metaphor for how to succeed in business. This post shares my experience in applying the secret of the hedgehog’s success to your career. While the origins of the story of the hedgehog and the fox – as in many things – lie in ancient Greece, the modern incarnation of the idea stems from Good to Great, a best-selling book by Jim Collins that has stood the test of time. The Greek poem held that ‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing’.

Today I explain why there’s no paradox in being humble and I share my insights on why being humble is so important to you as a leader. This is particularly true with the challenges leaders face today. And especially when it comes to taking people with you in times of uncertainty, rapid change and stringency. Being humble is a key attribute required to meet these challenges. So, what does humility mean? Allow me to elaborate.

In blogging about your leadership purpose, I declare I am a fan of Bill George’s well-known book True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership, first published in 2007 (pictured). While I agree with George that strong values, personal integrity and a strong sense of self are fundamental to effective leadership. In my view, these traits are necessary, but not sufficient, for you to be a truly great leader. While thinking about individual leadership on behalf of some of my high-performing clients, I came across ‘From Purpose To Impact’ a Harvard Business Review article by Nick Craig and Scott Snook. ‘From Purpose to Impact’ extends ‘True North’ by adding the notion that having a clear personal purpose is the key to exceptional performance and well-being as a leader.

Insights from the past year comes with my best wishes to all readers of Letting Go. Stepping Up. I've selected these insights from posts of the past year to highlight my clients' opportunities and challenges.

The virtue of gratitude

When was the last time you said thank you to a member of your staff, a service provider, or your partner? I mean truly said ‘thank you’ in the way you expressed your gratitude, even if the reason for saying ‘thank you’ was in response to a mundane act? Were your words perfunctory and robotic? Or did they generate a positive emotion in the recipient ­– and in you? For far too many people, saying thank you is now just a sign of good manners, rather than a virtue. Gratitude in its deepest sense has largely been lost. Don’t let this happen to you.

Overcoming your fear of failure is the sequel to my earlier post on fear of failure. Overcoming your fear of failure is not easy, but it can be done, especially if you are determined to take your personal and professional development to the next level. There is no magic pill that will prevent fear of failure. Equally, don’t think you should be trying to become fearless. Take the middle ground: Be willing to face, investigate and address your fears.

Thank you for the feedback is written to help you get a good deal more from the feedback you receive.

It’s a well-known saying that bread is the staff of life. I say feedback is as important to psychological and social wellbeing, as good bread is to nutritional and physical health. To be useful, bread must be ingested, digested and absorbed – and in a biblical sense, thanks given. So too with feedback, it must be received, understood and acted on – and the receipt of feedback must be acknowledged and the feedback giver thanked. Trouble is, all too often feedback doesn’t work in this way. 

Confirmation bias is the well-known tendency to selectively attend to information that will reinforce pre-existing beliefs or ideas while ignoring good evidence to the contrary. As Warren Buffet says

‘What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact’.

A synonym for confirmation bias is myside bias, which connotes the deep, personal nature of this particular form of bias. Of the dozen or so biases that can negatively influence our decision-making, the myside type is amongst the most important and insidious. In this post, I explain why it occurs, the consequences of succumbing, and how to avoid it.

A leader’s ability to influence without authority – in the traditional sense – is rapidly becoming a hallmark of the new era in the world of work. A client recently captured the challenge of having to influence others without authority when she said: “Can you teach me how to hold someone accountable who does not report to me? If I can’t demand compliance, how do I get enthusiastic cooperation?”.

To stay relevant as a successful leader you must develop on the job. You can never stop seeking stretch assignments and leveraging on-the-job opportunities to improve. What made you a successful leader in the past is no formula for your future success. And may even be detrimental, if pursued blindly. Research shows in today’s and tomorrow’s worlds, leadership success depends on your curiosity and willingness to risk and step out of your comfort zone. This includes your ability to adapt and therefore remain relevant.