Archive Monthly Archives: November 2020

What’s the best way for leaders to review 2020?

What's the best way for leaders to review 2020?

When you look back at 2020, what comes to mind for you?  It certainly hasn’t been the year any of us predicted, planned or even welcomed.  As we head towards the end of the year, naturally our thoughts turn to considering what next, we look to the new year with a renewed sense of hope even if we know everything is going to be just as uncertain as it is now and even knowing here is the UK we have Brexit adding to the mix as we all work out how that is going to work in practice.

But crappy though 2020 has been, it has given us many learning opportunities and there will be wins and things we can be proud of.

So since this is the last episode of The Curious Choice Leader Podcast for 2020, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get curious about reviewing the year, about how we can celebrate our achievements, capture our lessons and make choices about how we apply them to our working worlds going forward.

So are you ready?  Let’s get curious about 2020 and make some choices for the new year.

What made this year so different?

Like many of you I started this year with what I thought was a clear, ambitious but achievable plan for myself and my business.  It started well, KPI’s tracking in the right direction, diary filling up nicely and me feeling confident about it all. 

Then Covid, and almost overnight everything changed.  My diary emptied, my clients needs changed and like everyone else I went into that ice cream brain phase of change.  You know the initial panic where your brain freezes, your head hurts and all you can think about is survival.  I had a period of hyperactivity where I did all the things I could think of, followed by an inevitable slump and desire to curl up under a blanket and hope it all went away.

But like the world around me it was time to adapt.  As a change professional it was an interesting reminder of how it feels to have change happen around you and done to you, rather than being the one driving the changes.  I hope it is making me an even better manager of change as a result.

What did you learn this year?

We always have a choice about how we react to a situation and I have been fascinated by the choices leaders have been making, the upswing in people recognising how important empathy and trust are, the contrast between managers who trust their teams to deliver around their other very human commitments and those who have tried to snoopervise and micro manager their teams through this, how we have been able to learn more about our teams as in most cases we literally see them in different surroundings!

As we have all adapted we have had the chance to try new ways of leading and to learn about what works for us and our teams.  We may or may not have had any training this year to help us – but we certainly will have learned.  I challenge you to take some time and capture all the lessons you have learnt about yourself and about yourself as a leader.  I suspect that there will be many more than came to mind as you first heard that challenge.

Review against your plan and then list your achievementss, planned or not!

So what we have learned is one way to reflect on the past year, but how else can we get curious and really explore our year?  Well normally we would go back to our plan for the year and check how we did against it.  If you didn’t end up literally throwing your plan for this year away, I would still suggest doing this, depending on how you structured your plan you may well be closer to having achieved it than you expected.  Personally I keep my plan based around broad themes that are going to get me where I want to be, and then each quarter I assess where I am and set some specific targets for the quarter. 

I find this keeps me excited about the plan, yet focused on the specifics in the shorter term.  For me SMART Goals are the equivalent of the passion killing Bridget Jones big knickers.  I work best when I have the pull of an exciting dream that is going to make a big difference.  What that means in practical terms is that effectively I have a treasure map and it’s about moving towards the treasure, deciding where to visit along the way each quarter, rather than mapping out the whole route at the start of the plan.  Different levels of planning work for different people, and I suspect you will have some interesting observations about the best kind of planning for you, what works and doesn’t work for you and things you want to try with your planning going into 2021.

And talking of your plan, what have you achieved over the last year?  Was it what you expected?  Was it other things entirely?  What about outside work?  It would be very easy to dismiss 2020 as a year where you didn’t achieve but I would encourage you to really spend some time capturing all the things you did do, and when it’s combined with the next area I’m going to talk about it should boost your confidence and well being as well as help you make peace with 2020.

Celebrate your achievements

Every two weeks, I meet with a couple of fellow business owners so we can connect, support each other and cheer each other on.  We have a standing agenda and my absolute favourite part of it is where we share what we are proud of.  Yes the thought of this is uncomfortable, and I worry about it every time we meet, but it always leads to some amazing discussions and insights for us all.  It also gives us the chance to celebrate the wins that we have had that are meaningful to us even if we didn’t plan them. 

So what are you proud of having achieved this year?

Celebrating your wins and achievements, and those of your team, is really important.  If you haven’t been doing it on a regular basis through the year, now is the time.  The celebrations don’t have to be big material things, they can be little and important to the person receiving them.  Historically for me, as someone who works from home most of the time, they have been going out for coffee.  This year that hasn’t been an option a lot of the time so I have had to find new ways – and my growing collection of house plants reminds me each time I see them of things I’ve celebrated this year.  In fact I should probably get another one since I should celebrate having kept them all alive!  Oh and completing this series of the Podcast!

Even Better If

The next area I suggest you get curious about as part of your review of the year, is the things that you would like to do differently or improve for next year.  What is it you know you have managed but could be better and is ready for an upgrade!  Collecting these ideas is not committing to doing them right away, and when you come to review and reset for next year you may find that you don’t need to do them anymore. We can grow as leaders by working on our weaknesses or by playing on our strengths, we need to do a bit of both but if we only work on our weaknesses we miss our full potential and don’t enjoy what we are doing nearly as much!  It’s the same with putting our plans together, we can build on the good things and we can work to correct the less good things – and doing just one of the other isn’t going to be the best route.

Given the year that 2020 has been I personally am choosing not to spend time reflecting on the things that went wrong this year.  The root cause of so many of them were beyond my control, so I know it will make me feel bad and there won’t be any things I could do differently as a result.  Since the whole point of reviewing the year is to have a pool of data that I can do something about when I think about next year’s plan, it doesn’t seem worth it.

Review what's working for and with your team

As a leader the final area you need to build into your review is your team.  How are they doing?  What is working well for them in terms of your leadership?  What else needs to happen to maintain or boost their performance.  While it can be easy getting data on the outputs of your team’s performance it can be harder to get data to tell you what is driving that performance.  One of the companies I’m working with, TeamLytica has a great tool to help you with this and to support you with your planning for 2021 I’m offering a free review session using their report during December, please get in touch if you want the details.

The world of project management offers us some great insights into how to review how things went and if you want to dig deeper into this I recommend starting with Ken Burrells Book Learning Lessons from Projects – I will leave a link in the transcript for this episode which you can find on my website.

Take time to reflect

So once we have been curious and looked at everything that happened in the year, what we achieved, what we learned and how we celebrated, it’s time to reflect.

Pressing pause and spending some time reflecting on your review is for many people a valuable part of the process – but it’s one we often rush thought and so sometimes fail to benefit from.

When we sit with our findings for a while we allow our brains time to process them subconsciously, making any learnings deeper and allowing our brains to make connections between things we may not have seen at first.

I also find that allowing myself some reflection time means that more ideas surface and I get clearer about which insights are most important to me and need to be implemented first.

When you are working with a team, allowing this reflection time between a review and then planning the year ahead will ensure that everyone in your team is able to make the best possible contribution to the team.

Using your review

Once you have all had time to reflect on your review, it’s time to decide what you are going to take forward into your next plan.  Time to reset and restart.  Time to build leadership into your business planning.  We know uncertainty is going to be a big theme again next year, so we need to be really clear on what direction our plans are taking us, and to be ready and flexible about the exact route we are going to be taking.  
Communicating the plan, and the route, along with the thinking behind it is one of the key ways you create alignment in your team, performance is always stronger when you are pulling in the same direction.

From a leadership perspective, looking at the output of your review and deciding what you are going to continue doing, what you are going to do more of, what you are going to do less of or even stop and what you are going to improve on, will allow you to pick the things that are going to make the biggest impact.  It will also allow you to focus on the business delivery elements of the plan and make sure your leadership is supporting that without you becoming overwhelmed.

As leaders we need to really step into the role, set clear directions and create working environments full of trust, empathy and with room for our team to deliver greatly, whatever circumstances they find themselves in.  We need to implement everything we have learned this year about leading through change and uncertainty, we need to keep demonstrating what we expect from our teams, work with them to take our businesses where ever it is that we want to take them, despite whatever 2021 brings.

Summary & Taking Action

Its going to be an exciting and fun journey and The Curious Choice Leader Podcast will be back in the new year to share it with you.  As I reflect on the year, this podcast is one of the things I’m really proud of, I have learned so much doing it, and talking with leaders about the content in it, I’ve loved taking the time to reflect on what is going on around me and share insights with you all.  It’s been quite a year and I’m looking forward to some reflection time in December, and a chance to rest and come back refreshed and ready in the new year.  Enjoy the break and if you need them the previous episodes on leading change are all there for you to listen to.

So in this episode, we have looked at how you can review the year, looking at what you have learned, what you have achieved, how you did against the plan, what you are proud of and what you are celebrating.  We also looked at reviewing how you are doing as the leader of your team.  Then we talked about pausing to reflect on your findings before building them into your plans for 2021.

You can choose to make 2021 an amazing year, and your experiences this year will help you do that and be the best leader you can be.

The things I share in this podcast are based on my experience of over 30 years leading change and working with leaders who are making changes happen.  Some of it will be more relevant to you than others and it's up to you to decide what you are going to do with them. My hope is that you will find something you can take and apply. But that's up to you and it's exactly what being a Curious Choice Leader is all about, getting curious, building your understanding and then making some choices about what's best for you, your team and your business.

So the question I would like to leave you with is

What lessons are you taking from this year and how are you applying them to next year?

If you found this episode useful and thought-provoking I would love it if you subscribe and share it with others who you think would find it useful too. It would also be brilliant if you could leave a review where ever you listen to podcasts

If you would like to know more about my coaching and implementing these ideas please get in touch and let's talk about how you can become an even better leader, one curious choice at a time. Thank you for listening, and until the next time stay curious and I look forward to talking to you again soon.


How having Imposter Complex makes you a better leader

How Imposter Complex makes you a better leader

When things go wrong at work, maybe something the team messes up or someone in the team is being disruptive or not performing, I’ve seen many leaders start to question their own ability, and that can be a good thing - we are accountable for our teams, and we should always be looking for the lessons so we can improve. But sometimes this questioning goes too far and becomes an episode of Imposter Complex.

That’s not the only common time for Imposter Complex to strike - when we are asked to step up and lead a big piece of work, when that big opportunity appears, one of the things that can stop people grabbing it and start them questioning their own ability is Imposter Complex.

And interestingly, when we start a new job or take on that big project a few of months in, most leaders and managers have a wobble, wonder what on earth made them say they would take the role and if they are capable of delivering it. Thank you, Imposter Complex.

In a year where we have all been leading during rolling waves of change, almost all of us have been experiencing that wobble and wondering if we are capable to do what we need to for our teams.  Imposter Complex loves certainty and tries to protect us from change so has been having a ball this year!

When we do experience Imposter Complex, and there is a very high chance you will at some point, it won’t feel like it initially, but I believe, it’s a good thing.

 So are you ready to get curious about Imposter Complex and make some choices about how to make the most of it when it strikes?



Why is having an Imposter Complex episode a good thing?

Imposter Complex can be a mischievous and very determined thing. We all hear those nagging internal voices of self-doubt and fear sometimes, and when we are experiencing Imposter Complex, they both start shouting so loud that it can be hard to hear any of our other thoughts.  Imposter Complex is when those voices convince our brains that we are a fraud, and we are bound to get found out and found out fast.  When you are experiencing an episode of Imposter Complex you doubt your own abilities despite all the external proof of your capabilities, after all, you reason, that’s just another opportunities to get caught out, further to fall and more people to fall in front of!

So what if I was to tell you that experiencing Imposter Complex is a good thing and it is something that can help make you a great leader?

You may well be wondering how something that makes you feel so bad can be a good thing so let me explain.

Firstly, Imposter Complex only happens when something matters to you, so it shows you care about what you are doing – and that is a great thing!

More than that it helps us to stay curious and open to new information and without that we are never going to be great at what we do, be able to come up with new and better solutions or to adapt to our surroundings – all skills we always need as leaders and which this past year has reminded us are critical in all areas of our work.

Choose your response to Imposter Complex

It all comes down to how we respond when it strikes – are we going to avoid and abdicate and become a victim of it, letting it control what we do or are we going to get curious, inquisitive and learn what we can from it and use the opportunity for growth as a leader that Imposter Complex has hidden within it?

 All the great leaders I know and all the ones I have had the privilege of working with have at times experienced self doubt, that awareness that they may not know everything they need to know about a situation, their specialism or their skills.  

Take for example one senior leader I was working with who was putting together a big global conference.  He was a really great communicator in these situations in my experience, but he was really clear that he didn’t necessarily know everything he needed to know and he was open to more information as part of his managing his fear and his nerves about being in that kind of situation.  So he made sure he had as much practice time as everybody else and as much input from other people about his presentation. And it wasn’t just about him being humble.  It’s not just about being humble, it’s a genuine understanding that there is always more to learn, more to discover and to do to be the best we can be.  

That curiosity and that thirst for knowledge when coupled with a realistic assessment of where we are, being conscious of our incompetences is the springboard that keeps us moving upwards.  

The trick her is to not to loose sight of our competencies, all the things we do know when we are looking at all the things we don’t.  When we let that happen we can become tethered by the strong bind of Imposter Syndrome.  If we think of the things we do know about a situation we can use them as building blocks that show us what we need to get curious about and learn about next.

Make friends with your Imposter Complex

I find it helpful to think of Imposter Complex as an annoying friend, one who speaks up when I don’t need them to, but who may have spotted something important – you know the one who gives you some feedback that you don’t want to hear but when you think about it there is some truth in there! To remind me that I don’t have to believe everything this friend says I have given it a silly voice – it’s much harder to just accept what its saying when its talking like Donald Duck!

In making friends with Imposter Complex it has helped me to realise that it is motivated by a desire to protect us.  By stopping us from doing something it protects us from failure – after all if you don’t do something you can’t fail.  By getting us to question what we know it reminds us that there are things we don’t yet know and those things may be important and by making us feel isolated it protects us from other people telling us we have failed or are wrong.

Now while there is a logic to that, it’s not a logic that is going to allow us to be great or even effective leaders, so we need to learn to manage this friend constructively.

Managing our Imposter Complex Friend

So how can we do that?

The first step is to recognise that when Imposter Complex shows up there is an opportunity to pause, reflect and see what it is there to show you.  Once you have worked that out you can make some choices about incorporating what you have found or not.  So, get curious and ask yourself what is behind this episode of Imposter Complex, what is causing you to feel that way and what is this feedback trying to tell you.  It’s also worth questioning the validity of what this so-called friend is telling you – is their opinion based on facts or does the bulk of the evidence in fact point to your competence in an area.  What lessons can you learn from what this is telling you?

Now remembering that our Imposter Complex friend is trying to protect us from failure by stopping us taking action, we need to find a way to take some action.  If Imposter Complex has shown up around a big project or a new job, what are the first actions that we CAN take to get us moving in the right direction?  Breaking things down into smaller actionable steps and taking them one at a time can help you make great progress and build your confidence while quietening that nagging over protective friend.

In the same way Imposter Complex is trying to protect us by keeping us safe and where we are by not taking action, another of it’s motivations is to isolate us so we don’t fail in front of others.  What if you turned this around too and actively spent time around others who would support you and who may be going through the same thing?  We have so many things leaving us feeling isolated at the moment let’s not let Imposter Complex be another.  As a leader, as someone who is building something it is always OK to ask for help and to ask people for their perspectives on something.  Being curious about other people’s views means you can collaborate effectively and grow together, not feeling isolated.  As a leader fostering these ways of collaborating are part of how you build relationships and team performance. 

The other thing that our Imposter Complex friend is keen to do is to show us how little we know.  And being open to more learning, new ideas and different ways of thinking is brilliant, but we need to have a way of making sure we don’t loose sight of the things we do do well, of the evidence there is of our competence and of the difference we make.  One powerful way of doing this is to keep a books of wins, a journal of your accomplishments and positive feedback that you can look back over when you need a reminder.  This can be an actual book, a folder on your computer or in the cloud, what ever works best for you.  The very act of collecting them will help reinforce them in your mind so when you need the boost a quick look at your book of wins will make a big difference.

Getting help with our Imposter Complex

The other thing you can do when you are experiencing Imposter Complex is to get some coaching from someone who will help you explore these themes for yourself - avoid coaches who will focus on how they solved it for themselves or give you their special system for building confidence. If it’s imposter complex, or even a more general confidence issue, you already have the answers and you need a coach to help you piece together what is going to work for you.

The same is true for more general confidence issues, so make sure you get curious about what you need before paying for coaching. Find out about any coaches you are considering working with and check that they are going to work with you in such a way that you become reliant on them for your confidence - that’s not going to help you long term. I’ve worked with people who were feeling very vulnerable about their leadership thanks to Imposter Syndrome and who jumped at the first coach they found who promised them confidence and who at best got nothing from the experience and at worst were made to feel terrible about themselves and whose healthy imposter syndrome became a long term issue that impacted all areas of their life - so please choose your coach wisely. And in case you are wondering about those people, it took a few sessions, but they are now back on track.

To give you an example, this episode will have given you some insights into how I work on when someone comes to me with imposter complex, and the kind of areas we will explore. Often, we can get to the heart of the issue fast and people leave the session feeling ready to make a difference, with an action list and wondering why they were worried in the first place. When the issues are more deep seated or more complex it may take a couple of extra sessions, and I always suggest a follow up session towards the end of the persons action plan so they can capture what they have learned about managing those nagging voices of doubt ready for the next time they decide to show up.

If having listened to this episode you want to get more curious about Imposter Complex itself I can recommend checking out Tanya Geisler’s work.  I had the pleasure of chatting with her and found her insights and ideas really helpful.  She talks and writes about Imposter Complex at TanyaGeisler.com

Summary & Taking Action

So in this episode, we have looked at what Imposter Complex is, how it can strike any of us at any time and how we have a choice to make about how we respond.  Are we going to let it keep us where we are, become a victim or use it as a friendly reminder that there is something we need to get curious about, a chance to explore and understand ourselves and our situation better and a chance to make even better choices as we lead our way through the circumstances we find ourselves in?  We looked at how treating Imposter Complex as a difficult team member who cares but always sees the worst in a situation, we can find ways of managing it, of using it to help us think more deeply and learn and grow for our future.

The things I share in this podcast are based on my experience of over 30 years leading change and working with leaders who are making changes happen.  Some of it will be more relevant to you than others and it's up to you to decide what you are going to do with them. My hope is that you will find something you can take and apply. But that's up to you and it's exactly what being a Curious Choice Leader is all about, getting curious, building your understanding and then making some choices about what's best for you, your team and your business.

So the question I would like to leave you with is

What is your Imposter Complex trying to tell you?

If you found this episode useful and thought-provoking I would love it if you subscribe and share it with others who you think would find it useful too. It would also be brilliant if you could leave a review where ever you listen to podcasts

If you would like to know more about my coaching and implementing these ideas please get in touch and let's talk about how you can become an even better leader, one curious choice at a time. Thank you for listening, and until the next time stay curious and I look forward to talking to you again soon.


How leaders can use coaching skills to unlock performance

How can leaders use coaching skills to boost their team's performance?

As someone who has been using coaching in my work for about 30 years now you won't be surprised to hear I have a lot of thoughts on what coaching is and isn't, how it should be used and what it's really all about. It has been fascinating to see how people’s attitudes towards coaching has changed over that time, and how, as the impact coaching can have has become more widely recognised more and more people are talking about being coached or calling themselves a coach.  Indeed this over of the one word has become so prevalent that its all but meaningless, and ironically one of the key things that coaching is meant to do, provide clarity, has been lost.

So here is my perspective – being a coach and using coaching skills are not the same thing.  If you get nothing else from this episode, I hope you get an understanding of that distinction. Almost all of us can benefit from using some of the skills of coaching in our work, and as leaders we need to build these skills if we are going to unlock our performance and that of our teams.

We know that our technical skills alone are not enough to make us a success as a leader, and that we need to be great at working with, and through, others too.  The skills that coaches use to understand other people’s perspective, to open up peoples thinking to come up with better solutions, to support the decision making process are just 3 ways we can benefit from developing those skill for ourselves.

 So are you ready to get curious about why leaders need to grow  their ability to coach and make some choices about how you are going to do that?



Using Coaching Skills is a key part of leadership

Coaching is something that is part of every leaders role, and it can influence your approach, but awesome as it is, you need more that coaching skills to be a leader. 

Early on in my career I worked for a specialist manufacturing company who used machines and processes that were highly adapted to their needs.  When we found ourselves without a Manufacturing Manager for six months, the board knew it would probably take us at least that long to find someone with the specialist knowledge to run that operation.  Instead they asked me to take on the role, scary since I knew I didn’t know very much about how the machines and processes worked.  Instead I had to approach the role differently, use my lack of knowledge and my coaching skills to ask great questions, develop the team and get them to solve any problems with the processes.  My lack of technical knowledge made it easier for me not to get overinvolved in the technical solutions to problems and stay focused on prioritising what needed to get done.  

I was able to use coaching skills as a basis for this role and still make it all about ensuring we could supply our customers now and in the future.  I was also able to spend time leading and building the future vision for the department while empowering the team to keep the unit running efficiently.

For me this really allowed me to experience first hand how critical coaching skills are to leaders and how they are only part of the picture.

Coaching is all about unlocking potential and as leaders that is what we are looking to do - unlock the potential in our business and in our people.  By the end of my time running the manufacturing unit they were operating more efficiently, had less machine down time and the team were better able to manage their teams so when the Manufacturing Manager returned he was able to build on that foundation and not shoulder everything himself. 

As a leader your role as a coach is to unlock the potential in your team - it’s where you make sure they have the skills and knowledge they need and where you help them become able to make a great contribution.

The other roles leaders also need to play

As well as your role providing coaching, there are two other roles you need to fill as a leader. Leading and Managing.

Leading is all about setting direction, creating that compelling vision, creating the working environment and what it’s like to work round here, it’s the values we set and how we bring them to life, it’s engaging people and making sure the team are all pulling in the same direction.

Managing is about getting things done, it’s where the team and you deliver value and make your contribution, serve your clients, it’s the action area of your operations and where you deliver on your commitments.

Now these three areas are not separate, think of them as three circles which as a leader you bring together so part of each overlaps with each of the others like a Venn diagram.

Balancing Leading Coachng and Managing

As a leader when you can spend your time working where the three overlap you will be serving your team, your business and yourself well.

When for example you have a project or are leading change, reinforcing why the project is important and how it helps you get to your overall vision, then looking at how you are going to get that project done and how you can use the project to grow your teams ability and contribution is working in the overlap of the three circles and maximizing your impact.

Using Coaching Skills does not mean you have to become a coach

Building coaching into your approach like this does require some coaching skills, but it doesn’t mean you have to become a coach. 

Coaching is one of the tools that you have available to you.  If you were a gardener and you had a spade, it would be a tool you would reach for when you wanted to dig a hole, but you would not become a spade.  You would also not be the only person who could use a spade, a builder might as well, but if you both ended up calling yourselves spades the world would be very confusing for anyone wanting to know what you do.  It’s the same with coaching and why when you are looking for external coaching support or indeed considering becoming a coach, you need to be really clear what you are looking to achieve with it.  

I digress and you can find out more about the questions you should consider when you are looking for a coach in Episode 23, where I talked about how to choose the right style of coach for you.

Why do we as leaders need different coaching skills and styles?

So as leaders why do we need to have the tools to coach?

As our business and our people grow so does what we need to do to unlock that potential. The coaching skills we apply change and grown with that.  We all start by needing to learn how to do things - we need to be shown how to do things. Then we need to be taught more around our subjects and what we are doing - we need teaching for that

Then when our knowledge grows, we need to be helped to apply what we know - that’s where consultants and mentors are invaluable - we learn how to diagnose what is going on and how to fix it.

Finally, we get to the stage where we need someone to stretch our thinking, to challenge us and support us, to help us explore different angles and to generate and explore options, to make great choices.  That’s when as leaders we need to be able to coach our teams.

As leaders we need to think about which of these we are applying and when, it’s not a linear process, it can change with the situation and with the task.  Even a very experienced professional who has joined your team based on their expertise will need to be shown how things work in your business and in your team.  The skills you are going to need are very different as you transition between teaching how to do a task and stretching someone’s thinking.

Part of the art of being a leader is knowing when to use show and tell or teaching with your team, when to grow your teams knowledge, when to supplement it with consultancy and mentoring, when to develop those consultancy skills and specialisms and when to act as a coach.

So what’s going to enable you to do this?  Being curious about your team themselves, finding out all about them, taking the time to really invest in your relationships with them.  You are going to need to develop the skills and emotional intelligence to work with others effectively, to develop and use your listening skills, your skills at asking questions, your empathy and your awareness of the impact you are having on someone else. And above all else it’s going to take practice and accepting that there will be things you can learn and improve on, so get in the habit of reviewing and assessing your own performance and encouraging and accepting feedback.

Summary & Taking Action

None of this is easy, but developing these coaching skills is key to being an effective leader.  It’s not about being able to call yourself a coach, its about having the are tools that will allow you to unlock the potential in your team, in your relationships and in your business and therefore enable to you unlock your own potential as a leader.

The things I share in this podcast are based on my experience of over 30 years leading change and working with leaders who are making changes happen. Some of it will be more relevant to you than others and it's up to you to decide what you are going to do with them. My hope is that you will find something you can take and apply. But that's up to you and it's exactly what being a Curious Choice Leader is all about, getting curious, building your understanding and then making some choices about what's best for you, your team and your business.

So the questions I would like to leave you with are 

What aspect of your role would benefit most from you applying the skills coaches use?

and

What is the next step you need to take to make that happen?

If you found this episode useful and thought-provoking I would love it if you subscribe and share it with others who you think would find it useful too. It would also be brilliant if you could leave a review where ever you listen to podcasts

If you would like to know more about my coaching and implementing these ideas please get in touch and let's talk about how you can become an even better leader, one curious choice at a time. Thank you for listening, and until the next time stay curious and I look forward to talking to you again soon.


The best way for leaders to respond when everything suddenly changes

First Response: What's the best way for leaders to respond when everything changes suddenly?

There are many things 2020 has taught and reminded us! We have had so many opportunities to learn and build our skills as leaders that at times they have seemed as overwhelming as the circumstances we have been facing!  If you are listening to this episode in the week it’s published, you may well be feeling that again.  It’s the week that the UK, along with much of Europe, is entering a second set of lockdowns, and that’s against the backdrop of the US Elections.  Both of are adding to the uncertainty and pressure we are all feeling as human beings at the moment.

Rather than my planned episode I thought it might be helpful to press pause together for a moment and look at what our priorities are as leaders when we are faced with big and disruptive events.

So are you ready?  It’s time to get curious about our leadership priorities when everything around us is thrown up in the air so we can make choices which keep us leading effectively.

Leadership Priority 1 - Start with yourself

Just like when any change is announced when the world around us is thrown into chaos, we are going to experience a huge range of emotions, possibly all at the same time.  Our brains go into fight or flight more, and we may want to shut right down or we may find ourselves heading towards keeping really busy running round in circles.  The thing that is consistent is that our brains going into a kind of frozen almost paralysed state a bit like when we eat too much ice cream too fast, it hurts and we almost literally can’t think about anything other than remembering to breathe. 

When we are in this state our very first job is to get through it and be able to think again.  Press pause, breathe, walk, rest what ever works for you.  You need to do what it takes to look after yourself so that you can be in a position to help your team as soon as you can. 

Your team will take their lead from you, and how you react will influence how they react.  Showing them it’s OK to take a pause for themselves will remove some of the pressure on them.

If you want to know more about how people react to change check out this episode.

Leadership Priority 2 - Check in with your team

Once you are ready your next priority should be to check in with your team, see how they are doing and to make sure they know you are there for them. 

Make sure you listen to really understand their concerns and don’t discount what they are feeling or worried about just because its not the same as you or you think its not important or even real. The fact that they are thinking it and telling you means it real for them.  If you don’t have information to share with them that will allay those fears, acknowledge them, empathise and offer what reassurances you realistically can.

Taking this approach will make huge deposits in your relationship account with your team, it also gives you the information you need so you can work out what’s next.

Leadership Priority 3 - Working with your team

A common characteristic about situations like this is that we become very focused on what ever it is that has created the challenge and all the unknowns around it.  Most of the conversations I have been having this week are around what does the new lockdown here in the UK mean for our businesses and lots of worst-case scenario thinking and feelings of helplessness.  To move on from the initial panic and engage in what is happening we ask questions as we work it out, so as leaders we want to encourage that, but we want to avoid that feeling of helplessness. And we will come back to that in a moment.

If you and the team are spending time together you will need to remember that everyone may well be at a different stage of their journey to accepting what is happening around them.  In some cases, you are going to need to remind the team too, and you may even need to remind the team that it is OK to disagree about certain things! 

We know in the early stages of adapting to a change or when the team are understandably distracted by outside events that have a big impact on their life, we are going to see a dip in productivity.  Their focus is naturally going to be split and that impacts their productivity, so demanding results or even the normal performance levels right now is not going to get you them and is probably going to delay how soon you do.

Instead, as leaders our role is to help people move through this stage as smoothly and seamlessly as possible.

Leadership Priority 4 - Focus on what you can control

So what can we do to get the team focused and feeling less helpless in the face of what is going on around them?

In short, by focusing on the things we can control, and then the things we have some influence over rather than the things we are concerned about but can’t change.  For example with the latest lockdown we can’t control that it is happening and many businesses have been shut or asked to work from home again, but we can control how we as leaders and teams choose to react to that.  This time we have the advantage of having been here before, we can focus on doing more of the things that worked well for us last time and improving those that didn’t.  We can focus on the things we need to get done.

Interestingly when ever we take this approach of focusing on the things we can control we find over time the circle of things around us that we can control and influence grows, but when we focus on the things we are concerned about but can’t control, the scope of what we control gets smaller.

So working with your team to understand that they have a choice about how they react to things, are they going to abdicate that choice and become a victim of circumstance or are they going to get curious and make choices about the things they can control, will enable you to ease your team past the external distraction and pull together towards your goals.

If you want to find out more about what leaders need to do when leading change check out this episode

Summary & Taking Action

So in this episode we have covered the leadership first responses to an external crisis, starting with managing your own reactions, then empathetically checking in with your team.  We have talked about how you can start to move from the initial panic and distraction back to being productive by showing them that they have a choice in how they react and focusing them on the things they can control.

The things I share in this podcast are based on my experience of over 30 years leading change and working with leaders who are making changes happen.  Some of it will be more relevant to you than others and it's up to you to decide what you are going to do with them. My hope is that you will find something you can take and apply. But that's up to you and it's exactly what being a Curious Choice Leader is all about, getting curious, building your understanding and then making some choices about what's best for you, your team and your business

So the question I would like to leave you with is 

What things that are within your control are you going to focus on right now? 

If you found this episode useful and thought-provoking I would love it if you subscribe and share it with others who you think would find it useful too. It would also be brilliant if you could leave a review where ever you listen to podcasts

If you would like to know more about my coaching and implementing these ideas please get in touch and let's talk about how you can become an even better leader, one curious choice at a time. Thank you for listening, and until the next time stay curious and I look forward to talking to you again soon.