• Get Inspired for 2014!

    Date: 2014.01.03 | Category: Events | Response: 0

    ‘Every January 1st – whether you’ve earned it or not – they give you a brand new year for FREE. Imagine a completely fresh year. You just get to push that beat up and tired old year off a cliff, and drive away in your bright shiny new one…. and it costs you nothing. Nothing at all. They just give it to you , every year that you live. AMAZING !(source unknown)’

    I first came across this excerpt last year and found it motivating, reassuring and a suitable starting off place for reflection on what my intent would be for the new year. I have put together a short video clip ” Get Inspired for 2014”  – see on website – which builds on some of the reflective practice I have worked on myself and with clients over the years and which I hope may contribute in some small way to everyone having a more inspired 2014 and creating environments for others to have a more inspired year too! You will need to allocate a chunk of undisturbed time and use the pause button frequently!

    This work I feel is particularly important  as it seems to me listening to politicians throughout the year this quality of inspiration has been seriously missing. In fact the discourse of the last few months of the year has felt reactive, narrow and short sighted ( benefits, immigration debates in particular). So I think the only response is to take our own leadership and make our own difference in whatever way we can to change the discourse to one which is real and uplifting and yes inspirational!

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’ Margaret Mead

    Have a wonderful and inspirational 2014!

  • Leaders: Budgies Launched into Space – A story of local talent producing pure genius!

    Date: 2012.09.07 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 0

    When you are engaged on a mission of spotting talent, it’s amazing where the journey can take you – even into outer space! Dropping by my local cafe/bar – The Tobacco Factory, in Southville, Bristol ( a place itself which has done much to develop talent in the local area and home to the renown Tobacco Factory Theatre) I got into conversation with Andrew Price and heard his remarkable tale of the first ever Budgie Space Launch Programme!

    Check out the stunning birds eye views in the ‘Budgies In Space’ film on YouTube here:


    Working together with a local shop, Paper Village, North Street, Bristol a group of colleagues and friends hit on the idea of creating a flock of 101 crocheted budgies as a project that combined a community arts project, a social network, a great family fun activity and a charity fundraiser.

    The idea was simple – sell at low cost  budgie making crochet kits and ask volunteers to return 1 or more completed budgies to the project. Volunteers were also encouraged to give the budgies names and to post photos of them and their budgies on the facebook page (Bert and Bessie’s Budgie Banter). All the money raised was given to charity, in this case ” Children’s Hospice South West”.

    The Budgie flock was let loose from time to time to fly to a museum, zoo, country house and latterly big music festivals. And then the idea of launching the budgies into space was born!

    The same group of friends and colleagues including local musicians, engineers, computer whizzos pooled their talents to launch two little birds, attached to their spaceship by a giant helium balloon at Camp Bestival, their progress tracked by a live film, taken from the spaceship’s on board camera, transmitted onto the festival’s large screens. The budgies reached  an incredible height of 127,000 feet!

    A second flight was subsequently made from the Isle of Wight –


    So far almost £5000 has been raised for the charity – click here for information on how to make a donation and to find out more about the charity.


     Sometimes some conversations just make you smile at the sheer brilliance of what people can do and how by building on a wealth of diverse talents  something extraordinary can be produced from a simple idea . Not only by developing and implementing the technical expertise, or by raising lots of money for charity, but also by engaging the local community, connecting with people and hearing their sometimes moving stories behind their customisation of their budgies and their names.

    As I said at the beginning of this post, you can discover genius in many different places if you set out to really spot it! This conversation highlighted  a group of what I  call ” genius makers ” spotting talent, liberating it, pushing it to greater heights ( literally) , engaging with  and making it possible for people to become part of the project,  collaborating, sharing and learning together!

    The Leader’s role in organisations is to enable their genius makers to do the same, whatever the project.

    It’s great to be inspired. Where are the genius makers in your own neighbourhoods who can help keep your own learning about what it takes to be a multiplier of talent going?


  • Leaders: Who have you got in your corner?

    Date: 2012.07.30 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 0

    This is another dispatch from the Olympics! Source of much inspiration at the moment!

    I was listening to swimmer, Becky Adlington last night , reflecting on her bronze medal victory and the importance of the very vocal support from the crowd. She spoke passionately about how support of this nature really matters! How it can make the difference in performance of moving up from finishing seventh, to sixth, from fifth to fourth and in her own case from 8th to medalling. She emphasised how this support is one of the key ingredients to enabling individual athletes to pull out a performance they never knew they had!!!

    So my first question is who do we have in our corner, urging us on, not only in the large scale events but in the times when we seem to be staring failure in the face? Who do we have championing our cause, our efforts, our biggest challenges! Who can help us move up from mediocre, to good, to great? Who do we need to ask? Who do we need to thank for all their work so far? Who do we need to ask to not just “clap louder” but to be ready with their feedback and their humanity when we most need to hear it?

    My second question is whose corner are we in? Whose performance are we helping to move from mediocre, to good , to great! Isn’t it just  so rewarding to be part of someone’s endeavour to get better at what they do ? Just as it’s great to be cheering on these Olympians to be their best and achieve their dreams whilst remembering from time to time to be ready with our humanity when dreams temporarily come unstuck.

  • Leaders: Good Evening Mr Bond!

    Date: 2012.07.30 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 0

    I am sure by now you will all have seen the short film of the Queen meeting Mr Bond as part of the opening night for Team GB’s spectacular hosting of the Olympic Games! These were the 4 words in total spoken by the Queen in her debut as new Bond girl! No Holywood frippery or nods to celebrity in this starring role …….. but  the Queen  as we know her, complete with regal hairstyle, handbag and the royal corgies.

    I find it slightly bizarre in a way that I am writing about the Queen and my reflections on those 4 words “Good evening , Mr Bond” as I am not normally known for my royalist sentiments!  However in the spirit of taking inspiration from “not the usual suspects” , I do think her performance provides us with a number of reflections for our own leadership.

    The first one is, be ready to step out of your comfort zone and do things which are fun for you and others. In this era of austerity, small acts of celebration can make the difference. They don’t all require such minute choreographing and technical endeavour or even Daniel Craig !!!. My local coffee shop recently gave its staff a day off, starting with breakfast served by the managers and then a day out in the city of Bath. What have you recently done in small acts of generosity to say to your team : You Matter!

    The Queen brought her authentic self to the role. In these days, particularly for colleagues in the public sector, the pace of change and transition  for colleagues can be phenomenal and pretty relentless. It is easy to lose your sense of self and purpose. Do make sure you take time out to review with trusted friends where YOU are in all of these changes and what will enable you to bring your authentic self to your leadership role and win the trust of your team.

    The Queen also embodied what  multipliers of talent call ” native genius”, something that people do , not only exceptionally well, but absolutely naturally. She has done this throughout the 60 years of her reign, through thousands of hours of participating in all kinds of events, ceremonies and celebrations, meeting great diversity of audiences and individuals, in largely understated ways. “Good evening Mr Bond” captures it perfectly!

    In our working lives we see daily examples of native genius. If you are not spotting this, then get out from your desk and go down on your equivalent of the front line on a regular basis. Spot the individual able to deal calmly and professionally with the upset customer on the front desk, identify the colleague who after a few minutes in their company can make you feel a whole lot better about your task, your role, life in general or the individual who always makes time for their staff no matter what the pressures are and the individual who shows a real talent in working with students and interns  and so on ………

    The great thing that distinguishers multipliers of talent is their ability to spot native talent, bring it to the awareness and attention of the individuals concerned and so enable individuals to utilise this talent more fully. Leadership is about unlocking the discretionary talent that individuals bring with them . Once unlocked it enables people to go beyond what is required in the job description and offer their full intelligence to their teams , customers and organisations.

    So look around you…..

    What do individuals do better than anything else they do (enthusiasm and energy are key determining factors)

    What do they do without effort?

    What do they do without being asked?

    What do they do readily?

    If when you draw their attention to a particular talent and their response is something like ” doesn’t everybody do that?”, you know you are in the right territory.

    Finally, what’s your native talent? Four words please!

  • Leaders: Flamenco, talent and the safely dangerous!

    Date: 2012.04.12 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 0

    I have recently returned from a short break in Granada, Spain.  A key  highlight for me , in addition to the wonderful Alhambra,  was an evening of Flamenco in the Sacromonte district. Everything about the evening the singing, the music and above all the dance was exhilerating and I left in awe of the talent I had witnessed.

    The performance felt quite raw, stripped down to the essentials, no excessive stage management or background sets or amazing costumes. Just a set of chairs, a guitar, three singers and three dancers and yet the experience was electric!

    What we were drawn into was an experience which had at its roots a tradition going back hundreds of years, which has kept evolving and somehow remained connected to its core purpose, to the heart and soul of the performer and observer. The songs, the steps, the guitar chords have been rehearsed and adapted over many hours and still came across as fresh and enlivening to both performer and audience member, with the capacity to surprise within the dance, within the song. Just when you think you know the rhythm , the dance move, a little flourish, a twist, a departure builds into  a heart stopping crescendo!

    So, despite the tradition this was not a performance centred around the safe and known. The individual performances pushed to their limits and beyond, the dancers in particular, to something that was more the” safely dangerous “, a space where innovation and flowering of talent can emerge. So we witnessed wild passionate flourishes, dancing balanced as finely as if on a pin nail, each swirl threatening to destablise the dancer on the one hand and on the other the dancer’s discipline and control which somehow pulled it  all together into something magnificent, bringing the audience every step and every feeling of the way.

    All of this played out in a context of respect where each dancer , each musician , each singer made space for the other, for their moment to shine, encouraging one another on to step into the ‘safely dangerous’ space, mindful of the individual performance and the experience which lay behind it.

    So what are the lessons or connections back to this series of blogs on talent and leadership?

    When you strip away all of the hype , the technology, the accreditations, the good practice models etc have you got a team that can bring high performance day in day out?

    A team who are mindful of the talent and potential that each member brings and who help create environments for it to shine?

    A team who can go beyond the safe and known and into the safely dangerous the realm of the leading edge, the difference that makes the difference?

    A team who have the necessary disciplines to pull back from the dangerous?

    A team that connects with their customers in a powerful way?

    A team that above all knows its core purpose and connects to it with both head and heart?

    A team of ‘Multipliers” (1) who add to one another’s talent, spot and nurture one another’s potential whilst keeping the bar high and banishing the mediocre?

    What do you need to do today to enable the ‘ multiplier ‘ in everyone to emerge?

    (1) Visit previous posts for more information on ” Multipliers”

  • Leaders: Spot ‘Multiplier’ potential everywhere!

    Date: 2012.02.10 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 0

    My last post focussed on inspiration from a young writer/director who demonstrated his gift or genius as he retold and continued to make sense of the experience of producing his first film. His gift, instantly apparent to the listeners, was how to bring out the genius in others and how to create the right kind of environment for brilliance to be nurtured.

    Today I find myself reflecting on a very different example of this Multiplier role , a much older role model but no less passionate and resilient in the face of adversity. His team members and advocates talk about how he creates:-

    “the environment for us to play well in”  and about how “he builds up ….confidence, telling you everyday you can be a world beater. Eventually you start to believe it. He is an honest fella. If you’re crap, he’ll tell you. If you’re playing well, he’ll tell you. Everything is clear and simple….”.  You read how he delegates at training but “his one to one cajoling is key”.  He is viewed as a manager who can squeeze that little bit extra even from those whose careers have stalled, of a man who can pinpoint talent and exploit it.”

    His particular obsession and passion is football and yes I am talking about Harry Rednapp,  and the above comments come from an article in Thursday’s Guardian – Flash Harry or a Very Modern Manager?

    So here is another “Multiplier ” who is passionate about what he does, passionate about his players and spotting and putting their talent to work, passionate about providing good footballing entertainment for the fans ( I realise I might be on dangerous ground here!).  In addition his resilience over the last few months has been publicly tested and outwardly been maintained without any apparent loss of focus or ability to be there for his players and other team members.

    How passionate are we about the work we do? How do we live that passion on a day by day basis? In the midst of all the distractions, tangents and frustrations which can bombard us on a daily basis how clear are we about what our leadership is in service of and how do we make this visible to others?

    What signals do we give our teams? Do we give people on a daily basis the sense that they can be “world beaters” or whatever the equivalent is for our team? Do we follow this through with the feedback, the cajoling, the coaching, the training the resilience building to release this potential.

    Perceptions about what is possible matters to “Multipliers”. If people were to rise to the level of our perceptions of what is possible, where would that take our organisations? How would that serve our joint purposes?

    This is my last blog in the series for International Coaching Week. Many thanks to all of you who have commented, emailed and called with ideas, thoughts, suggestions and feedback. It has been much appreciated. I didn’t think I would end the week doing a piece on Harry Rednapp as a ‘Multiplier” example! It’s been great fun!

  • Leaders: Who has recently inspired you?

    Date: 2012.02.08 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 0

    In this climate of austerity and gloom I think we all need the occasional burst of inspiration to keep us topped up and resilient.

    Last week I  attended a presentation to a group of senior housing managers by a young film writer/ director, Rob Holder, who has recently produced his first film”Eliminate Archie Cookson”.(http://eliminatearchiecookson.com/) Now I am very interested in films but it was his description of his personal journey he had to make as a first time Director that became compelling.

    It developed into a fascinating masterclass on’ being at the edge’ of your knowledge and expertise, on the boundary of success and failure, of working outside one’s comfort zone and at the extreme of flexibility .

    These assertions by Rob inspired me:-

    Know yourself and your sensibilities. Know where your passion is! Keep true to your passion.

    Hold onto your vision even when things are changing all around you and taking unexpected turns. People may still moan (we are talking creatives here!) but having a shared vision  makes the going bearable.

    Surround yourself with amazing people , bring out the best in them, keep thinking about what it is they need to have to perform.

    Keep the energy going, keep moving forward somehow, even if it is just tiny steps. Momentum is more important than perfection!

    When you roll with the punches, better things happen!!

    Who has recently inspired you? Have you told them?

  • Leaders: Multipliers are the way forward!

    Date: 2012.02.08 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 0

    In the article “Goodbye, minister:civil service hit by staff exodus” run in Monday’s Independent, it was pointed out that the Government is dealing with an unprecedented turnover of civil servants (up to 30%) in key departments e.g the Treasury, Foreign Office, Education and Cabinet Office. The think tank, Institute of Government warns that the loss of institutional knowledge could be detrimental to the running of Government.

    What I wonder have these Departments got in place to replace the talent walking out the door. How good is their succession planning? How good are the remaining leaders at developing talent? Who develops them?

    “Multipliers” about which I have written in the past (see Leadership for our times – a question of maths? ) use their intelligence and make it their business to seek out and develop talent. Multipliers really work with the Tim Gallwey (The Inner Game of Tennis) insight that Performance = Potential minus Interference. They have made the transition into spotting the genius and potential in others and bring an intensity to their practice to liberate this potential so that it takes wings and flies!

    They ensure their focus is less on span of control and more about the span of challenge and support, coaching and mentoring, learning and development. Multipliers equally master the duality of giving people space to think and at the same time creating an obligation to do their best work.

    The good news is that we can all develop these skills – it’s just a question of prioritising them and valuing them. So when talent moves on, we can genuinely wish individuals well and know we have and can attract great potential to step up into their roles.

    So let’s hope there are plenty “Multipliers” in Government! How well are you doing as leaders to grow your quota of “Multipliers” in your organisation?

  • Leaders: Create a thinking environment that says ‘you matter’!

    Date: 2012.02.06 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 0

    Nancy Klein’s ‘Time to Think’ (1999) Listening to Ignite the Human Mind ‘ argues that the leader’s first job is to create a thinking environment from top to bottom. Her book makes for compelling reading. As part of her quest to create more thinking environments in organisations she outlines a whole different way of running team meetings.  She  asks us to consider nine principles :-

    At the beginning;

    • Give everyone a turn to speak at different points of the meeting without interruption. This alone increases the quality of thinking dramatically and is an important ground rule to be established at the beginning.
    • Ask everyone to say what is going well in their work, or in their team’s work


    • Give attention without interruption during open and even fiery discussion. Everyone will get their turn, just allow others to finish before exchanging ideas, disagreeing etc
    • Ask incisive questions to reveal and remove assumptions that are limiting ideas
    • Divide into thinking partnerships when thinking stalls (move people into pairs and give them 5 mins each to think aloud without interruption and with their partner’s appreciative attention and see what new insights, questions or limiting assumptions have been revealed)
    • Go round intermittently to give everyone a turn to say what they think now
    • Enable people to say what they really think, including the negative and what people feel really needs saying ( e.g naming the elephant in the room!)
    • Allow people to express their feelings ( sadness, anger, joy, despondency, excitement)

    At the end

    • ask everyone what they thought went well in the meeting and what they respect in each other

    I particularly liked two underpinning assertions.

    • Giving everyone a turn increases the intelligence of groups. Knowing they won’t be interrupted frees people to think faster and say less.
    • A thinking environment says back to you,  ‘you matter’!

    Critical to creating a thinking environment is the quality of attention you give to each and everyone of your team . Listen as if your leadership depends on it, it does! Listen to encourage others inventiveness, confidence in stating their truth and resourcefulness. Then follow through with really powerful questions.

    Quality of attention, being truly present, listening at a deep level (for limiting assumptions and resourcefulness), asking powerful questions, providing confidence for the client to voice how they really feel about something, holding a space for new ideas and options to emerge are all core components of a coaching approach and seem very appropriate for International Coaching week.

    The link to the video explores ‘The Quality of our Attention

    more fully and offers a quick experiment for you as a leader to check out. Enter password Inspiredfellowship.

  • Leaders: Are you holding yourselves accountable?

    Date: 2012.02.05 | Category: Leadership Testimonial | Response: 0

    There has been much in the media lately about the accountability of leaders to their boards, shareholders, communities, staff etc. This blog is not another take on this much debated theme! The question “Are you holding yourself accountable” is being asked in the context of you as a leader making the difference, fulfilling your aspirations, remaining appropriately ambitious for your role, your self and your followers.

    Sometimes it is overwhelming to feel accountable to so many people, so many governance structures, organisations etc we lose our way and forget the connection, the motivation  and passion which led us to stepping into the leader role in the first place. It is important to reconnect from time to time with our self, our sense of purpose, our dreams and assess where we are and what we need to do next to enable us to step into our leadership role energised and with renewed conviction. Taking the time out to do this on a regular basis is ‘holding yourself to account”. Unfortunately if we are not vigilant we can give away this time to focus on the accountability to others. This can lead to a depletion of our inner resources. Resilience comes from ensuring that we can hold ourselves to account and feel stronger as a consequence. As Maya Angelou so eloquently put:-

    “The question is not how to survive but how to thrive, with passion, compassion, humour and style”

    As part of International Coaching Week I am blogging on a daily basis Monday to Friday in collaboration with my colleagues, Mike Green and Rajwant Bains, on a coaching related and development of talent theme. We are passionate about the power of coaching to enhance personal effectiveness, improve organisational performance and transform leadership and will share some ideas on how we can all tap into this powerful resource.

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