Absent Leadership

There are two types of managers when it comes to annual leave: Those who frustrate everyone and those who delegate authority. I have seen numerous instances where all activity and action is suspended because (as the receptionist informs you) “Sorry he/she is on leave at the moment, you’ll have to wait until they get back.”

This is hardly the most productive way to conduct business. Think about it, if you get paid a salary to manage a part of a business and you get paid leave, then the business should be able to operate when you are not there. You are being paid to ensure that happens.

Let’s look at it from two angles. read more …

Coaching Mastery and the art of flying

The HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or H2G2 as aficionados call it, is one of the best comic science fiction series in the history of British humour, it is certainly the best five book trilogy ever written. (If you haven’t read it, do so this week.)

Arthur Dent, one of the main characters, is stranded for a time on prehistoric earth. Bored, he finally decides to learn to fly. After many bruising attempts he gives it one more go. As he launches himself off, something distracts him and much to his surprise he finds he is flying.

When not asked later, Arthur repeatedly explains, to all those who are not listening, that the secret is “To throw yourself at the ground, and miss it.”

Mastery in coaching is a bit like that. You spend years learning and practicing techniques, and eventually discover you have to let go. Stop trying to apply technique. Trust your subconscious. Everything you have learned is still in there.

When you relax and listen from your subconscious it with faithfully supply the right question or challenge or observation.

So throw yourself at the ground; and miss it.

Beginners Mind

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ”
― Shunryu Suzuki

I have always taught listening with an empty mind is the ultimate skill to be a great coach. As master coaches we teach that you must achieve the beginners mind.

I was thinking about writing a detailed post on this, and then I stumbled across this quote.


I think my detailed words are unnecessary. He has said it all.


In Praise of Middle Management

The two toughest transitions.

Middle management often get the blame for things going wrong in the organisation. Silo behaviour happening because department heads don’t play nice with each other; Turf wars; Filtering the flow of downward communication because of lack of clarity; Filtering upward communication to keep bad news from the top and make things look good . . .

The list goes on.

Years of working with managers at all levels around the world has brought me to a realisation that the “issues” with middle management are just the symptoms, not the real problem.

The real problem?

The two toughest transitions of leadership:

The first and the last.

An organisation is like a concertina. If you push or pull from the top or the bottom, you create an effect at all levels. read more …

You Can’t Be a Great Manager If You Aren’t a Good Coach

Excellent article on Harvard Business Review from Monique Valcour. 2 minute read. Some of her key points are:

“Managers think they don’t have the time to have these conversations, and many lack the skill. Yet 70% of employee learning and development happens on the job, not through formal training programs. So if line managers aren’t supportive and actively involved, employee growth is stunted. So is engagement and retention.”

“Starting today, you can be significantly more effective as a manager — and enjoy your job more — by engaging in regular coaching conversations with your team members. As you resolve to support their ongoing learning and development, here are five key tips to get you started.
Listen deeply.
Ask, don’t tell.
Create and sustain a developmental alliance.
Focus on moving forward positively.
Build accountability.

Read the full article, it’s well worth it.