What qualities make a good CEO

What makes someone a good CEO?

A  question that comes up regularly in my meetings as a leadership and executive coach is what makes someone a good CEO.

Whether a founder CEO or not, there are certain qualities when it comes to leadership, communication and behaviours that increase your impact as a CEO and indeed, when adopted and honed, can make life a lot easier and less stressful.

I would definitely say that there is no one particular “correct” way of being when it comes to leadership as everyone has their own character and way of doing things and these are the things that make us stand out (positively or negatively).  To be authentic is essential.  It is simply too exhausting to act like someone else that you’ve read about and who is a “super successful CEO”. However, there are a host of qualities and skills that can be learned or if we are already doing some of them, magnified or highlighted that can optimise success and dare I say, enjoyment in the role.

These leadership skills and qualities / areas to focus on have come from many conversations and coaching sessions with CEOs from all sorts of businesses and organisations and are tried and tested, with generally good results.  It’s not always easy and there is no magic wand to change things over night – any changes or learning take time and practice (sorry!), but as they say “where attention goes, energy flows” and bringing a sharp focus to achieving better leadership skills means that, eventually you will get there.

If you’re reading this, you are probably already a CEO who may be struggling in some areas or wanting to change some aspects of behaviours to see if your leadership style can be improved in some way, or you could be thinking about working you way towards a senior role and wanting to put in places certain behaviours that will increase your chances of getting there.  I’m a firm believer in doing something different as , in the words of Einstein

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. 

Sometimes a small change can deliver noticeable results.

Areas to concentrate on and skills to work on are as follows:

Seeing the bigger picture

Successful CEOs are good at seeing the bigger picture.  They have a clear vision of where they want the company to go.  It’s too easy to become distracted by the day to day and from here, things don’t change they stay the same.  Ask yourself where you see the company going, bring on board ideas from your senior leaderships team, ask everyone why not? You might learn something you didn’t know which could inspire a new direction.  But do focus on where you’re going. 

Being good at communicating

They are good at communicating this to others in an inspiring way that really gets people on board. This doesn’t have to necessarily be in the form of great oratory skills, it can be delivered in a more subtle way, by telling good, compelling stories that people can relate to and feel part of. Communicating well wins over people, gives them a feeling of belonging, an insight into the what and the why.

Focusing on company culture

A great CEO has a clear idea of the company culture they want to create and prioritise actions that will continue to build it, through good communication. There are plenty of theories and books on company culture, and research is useful, but you will have your own ideas too along with asking others for input, all of which will help you build a successful and thriving culture.  What would you like others to say about your company or organisations? What gets the best out of others? In your experience in your earlier career, what inspired you? What turned you off or frustrated you?

Strategic thinking

Considering the what not the how.  What do you want to achieve? What will this look like? Don’t get obsessed with the “how” you are going to do it.  Yes, work to create a plan of what is needed, but ensure others actually carry it out.  You can then hold them accountable to ensure it happens.  Encourage your senior leadership team to do the same.  To be clear about what they see happening and how that fits in with the over all strategy. Read more about strategic thinking here.

Not being victim to the “to do list”

It’s too easy to keep your attention on the to do list, all the small, daily actions that you can do.  The more this becomes the focus, the less you will move things forward.  This is most people’s comfort zone.  And this fills time.  But asking yourself what is actually going to make things happen, fulfil the vision and move things forward, means delegating the smaller stuff to others.  Too many CEOs behave like managers and micro managers at that. Set the vision and keep everyone moving towards it.  So much more will be achieved in this way. Do all you can to avoid doing the job yourself because others can do it well enough or the way you would do it. Which leads nicely to….

Trusting others

You have to if you’re going to get anything done.  And people thrive when they’re trusted.

Having a thick skin

You cannot afford to take things personally.  Things go wrong, people get upset or offended. As long as you’re behaving according to your moral compass and vision, you cannot let everyone’s reaction upset you.  It’s too stressful. And distracting.  Things can be even harder if you’re the founder and CEO as this is your baby.  But you have to detach yourself a little or you will become difficult to work with, find yourself getting defensive and losing sight of what you want to achieve. If you struggle with worrying overly about what people think, reading this might help.

Making decisions 

Being clear and certain when it comes to decision making is essential.  People will constantly look to you for decisions.  It’s possible if things go wrong they will blame you more if you didn’t make the decision quickly enough (or at all).  Recognise not all decision will be the right ones, but at least you were decisive. And if you want to build a culture where mistakes are not punished, here is an opportunity for you to model this behaviour.

Being innovative

Clearly not all the time as consistency is indeed important, but having  and being open to original ideas, new ways of approaching problems can be inspiring for others and can open up new and better ways of getting things done and growing the company.

Being a risk taker

Along with the decision making and being innovative, a CEO will inevitably face times where there is no clear route for success and taking a risk is necessary.  Being able to asses the consequences and gauge what measures need to be put in place to mitigate the level of risk is important and again, communicating why it’s happening and getting people on side successfully can really help.  It can take a fair amount of self belief and confidence to take risks and stand by them and talking it through with trusted colleagues is a good idea.

Looking after yourself

All the above can come with practice and experience.  Another thing that increases the likelihood of you adopting and honing those behaviours and skills is making sure you are feeling OK.  Don’t we all find that on a bad day, if we’ve been stressed, a sleepless night, bad nutrition, we find the smaller, simples decisions difficult and a relatively inconsequential comment from another can blow up into something ridiculous.  Do all that you can to make sure you’re in a good place physically and mentally.  It’s known to increase resilience and must be a priority.  Sharing what’s on your mind helps too.  Getting another perspective.  That can be where coaching comes in.

It can be an isolating place and you are human.  You will experience challenges, success, highs and lows.  Not all of it will be shareable with your team or colleagues.  Many CEOs and leaders that I work with say that taking the time to look at everything from a different perspective, with a non judgmental, non invested coach can give them a competitive edge in addition to the ability to focus on what’s important.

If you’d like to talk about how coaching might work, get in touch by email or give me a ring 07785 996917.

strategic thinking

Strategic Thinking

If you’re in a senior role or as a business owner, you may be thinking that the days are never long enough and the to do list is never done. Demands from staff or your team may feel relentless, the interruptions never ending and if anyone mentions planning or strategy, you feel things area bit foggy at the best or a feeling of panic sets in at the worst.

Who has the luxury of time to do any strategic thinking or planning? There’s just too much to do.  And if you do manage to get a bit of time to think, then staring at a blank screen or piece of paper, you just don’t know where to start.

If any of this sounds familiar, be comforted by the fact that you’re not alone.    And be comforted by the fact that by taking a little time to think strategically and plan the future, you will quickly find your way of working, communicating and delegating changes (for the better) and you become clearer in your sense of where you want to take things.

What exactly is strategic thinking anyway?

It’s not a complicated science that you need to take years to master.  Being able to think and plan strategically does however require you to take some time out of your daily tasks and ask your self

  • What do you want to achieve, short term, medium term and long term
  • What sorts of customers / clients or markets do you want to go for? Are there new directions? 
  • What do you want to happen to your service/ product? Do you want to diversify / create new offerings / hone current offerings?
  • What do you want your team / company / business to look like in the future?

You may notice that all these questions start with WHAT.  There is no HOW to begin with.  That comes after.

Once you have a clear idea of where you’re going, then you can put a plan together of the HOW you’re going to do it.  And WHO you need on board to get you there.

Then things start to change

Once all this is decided, you can approach your to do list in a different way.  Everything you do (or as much as possible) needs to take you towards your strategic outcome.  Ask yourself “does this take us there?”.  If not, it’s worth asking why you’re doing it.

Delegating will become more straightforward.  You now take a more strategic overview and ensure the high level tasks happen, anything that doesn’t do this, you must delegate.

I get it’s not easy to do all this.  Habits aren’t always easy to change.  Telling yourself you’re not a strategic thinker or you don’t have time is not helping you or your company or business.

I’d love to know your experience on this.

Get in touch if you’d like to know how coaching can help with strategic thinking and future planning. 07785 996917 or catrinmac@gmail.com

Coaching for change

Time to change the script?

What script am I talking about?

You know, the script that runs inside your head.  Sometimes it’s quiet and in the background, sometimes it gets really loud and makes it hard to think straight.  We all have it.  Many don’t realise it’s there, don’t hear it, others notice and some manage to challenge it and make changes.

What’s it made up of?

It’s made up of all our experiences, particularly early ones.  Things parents or carers said, something a teacher said, words from friends or playground enemies even.  Perhaps what the teacher said wasn’t meant in a negative way, but we may have interpreted it as such. 

We see the world as we are, not as it is.  Anais Nin.

“We see the world as we are, not as it is” said Anais Nin and this is so true. We run all that we experience through our own special filter and may take it as a negative even if the speaker didn’t mean it like that. Often they didn’t and were dealing with their own “stuff” but that’s another story.

So back to the script.  It’s basically our commentary, some rules, thoughts on what’s going on around us, maybe the voice of someone else who has been influential. That all sounds very innocent, doesn’t it?

Our internal script can actually be quite an unfriendly narrative that stops us doing so many things we’d like to or could be good at as it can be critical and obstructive. 

For example:

Telling people you’re good at something is bad” – makes job interviews a bit of a challenge.

Expecting others to do things for you is lazy” – not so easy delegating

If you want something done do it yourself” – hard to relinquish control

If it’s not perfect, there’s not point doing it” – how can everything always be perfect?

It’s rude to argue” – hard to ever disagree or have an opinion

You are not creative, you’re more academic” – is this really true?

Get the idea?

These may be exaggerated for some, but many people I work with have even harsher, stricter scripts that mean they find it difficult to speak up, look after themselves and their wellbeing, celebrate achievements. It can mean we don’t try new things, are afraid to take on new responsibilities, dare to ask for something and criticise ourselves constantly so that most things we do turn out to be a bit stressful, if we dare to do them.  The script can get louder when we’re tired or stressed and it all becomes a vicious cycle that is hard to get out of.

What can we do to change the script?

First we need to actually NOTICE what the script says.  Identify what’s useful and helpful and what’s not.  Some of it might be very useful. Welcome that.  The bits that hold us back, make us feel bad, give us a hard time, well, it’s time to CHALLENGE these.

Once we have awareness and are managing to challenge the unhelpful script, we can start forming new scripts.  Ones that support, nourish, inspire, motivate us.  It is quite wonderful designing your own scripts. Once you find some more helpful scripts, it’s a matter of finding ways to make them the new go to script and avoid falling back onto the previous unhelpful ones, ones which we have had many years to perfect and adhere to.

It might help writing some of them down or telling someone else about them.  This is good for realising how ridiculous and illogical they can be.  They may live happily inside our thoughts, but once put on paper or mentioned to another person, we see them for what they are. Unhelpful scripts that stop us enjoying life and trying new stuff.

Forming new scripts and getting rid of the old, unhelpful ones can be so liberating!

If you’d like to talk about how coaching could help, get in touch for a chat.

coaching for business owners

What it’s like working with a coach

Working with a coach can be transformative – but it’s hard to decide to go ahead if you don’t know what it involves. I thought my own experience of working with a coach might help. About 15 years ago, I was working in and running Papadeli in Bristol with my husband Simon. I had been to the US on an entrepreneurial/ business growth training course at Babson College, sponsored by the UK government and was offered business coaching when I returned. I knew nothing about coaching. I was busy with Papadeli and 2 very small sons. I didn’t really have time to look into coaching and find a coach, let along give up the time to actually meet with one regularly. I dismissed the idea at first, but something kept on telling me I needed to look into it. The US course had really opened my eyes to the potential and possibilities of business and personal development and I’d found it all so inspiring that I kept on coming back to the idea of working with a coach. I wasn’t entirely clear about how a coach might help, or where exactly I needed help, but I sort of couldn’t shake the idea.

I finally decided to find a coach

I didn’t want to work with a counsellor

What I wasn’t keen on was seeing a counsellor. Not because I don’t see the value in counselling, I certainly do.  I wanted business focused advice and was very keen to look at strategic planning and different ways of working. I had little time on my hands to just talk.  I needed focus and clarity around direction.

Finally I bit the bullet and contacted one. At our fist meeting, just talking out loud about my ideas and plans, challenges and frustrations, with a non judgmental person sitting there, asking open questions that got me really thinking, opened up so many possibilities and made me feel immediately lighter and more optimistic. She kept it very business focused and of course some aspects of my values and beliefs came out as she asked about obstacles to business success and what might be getting in the way of me doing certain things.

Having a coach that supported my ideas, challenged me on any negative beliefs and held me accountable to any action I committed to change my attitude to work and life pretty quickly. Things I’d been putting off because of lack of time, fear, lack of confidence, whatever, started to get done. Ideas I’d had started to be researched. Any obstacles I’d allowed to get in the way and become an excuse for inactivity, were challenged and I put a plan together to address them. Having someone holding me accountable, celebrating my wins, helping me really put plans together and breaking them down into clear actions made the difference between staying the same and really moving forward. Coaching really did help me feel better about so many things and feel a lot clearer about what I wanted and how to motivate those around me.

Initially a sceptic, any misgivings I had about working with a coach soon disappeared and I realised that if anyone is serious about making things happen, be it creating a balanced life, a successful business, being happy at work, achieving one’s potential, they’re many times more likely to make it happen when working with a good coach. Days and months speed by and I realise how vital it is to be clear about what you want to achieve, so that you don’t look back and regret or wonder ‘what if’.

And then…

I realised that I was not playing to my strengths working in the deli at Papadeli. Yes, I was managing it, but my strengths are more strategic and creative. I realised that this frustration along with working with my husband was not what I wanted. I loved business, people, communication and personal development. I had worked in marketing and media before and felt I could really help with clarity of communication as well as business insights. So I trained as an Executive coach at Bristol Business School / Human Technics and set up as a coach. It’s not been an easy path to choose as being a self employed coach has many challenges, but I’m still here ten years later, absolutely loving working with all sorts of people and organisations of all sizes and types and helping other coaches with their business too.

Find a coach

I can’t recommend it enough. I still work with my own coaches and still get so much out of it. Find a coach that you trust and get to work 🙂

You can read some testimonials from people I’ve coached here.

If you’ve got any questions about coaching, email me or phone 07785 996917.

Saying yes to everything? You should seriously stop.

Why we need to thank people for saying NO as well as YES

At certain times in your career, saying yes can be advantageous.  It can expose you to new experience, open new doors. But saying yes to everything can also be hugely disadvantageous. Sometimes it’s a very good idea to say NO.

Too many people I work with find themselves saying yes to things that mean that they become unfocused, overwhelmed, unproductive and resentful. So often the culture of many work places means that it is a given that you will take on too much and that those who protect their boundaries and say no to certain tasks or undertakings, are seen as negative and unreliable.  More generally, British society expects us to say yes if we want to be liked and saying no risks offending and upsetting. 

Do you find yourself saying yes to taking on extra work or helping others out with their work when you really want to say no?

It’s not easy saying no.  There are a host of reasons why we struggle.

You might not like to let people down.

You might like to please or impress people.

Your line manager or boss may be difficult to say no to.

You may worry about who is going to do the work if you don’t – your colleagues or team are already overworked.

Saying no to clients, even if it’s extra work or unreasonable, can risk upsetting them.

Sometimes it’s easier to say yes and do the work than say no and delegate.

Saying no feels like a rejection to many and none of us like to feel rejected. 

I’m clearly not suggesting you say no to everything.  So how will you know if saying no is appropriate?

  • Consider your role and the responsibilities you have.  Yes, sometimes you need to do things outside of this, as there needs to be some goodwill. However, if you find that you are frequently working outside of your job role and trying to do your job too, you will become overwhelmed.  You will not be able to successful achieve what you need to.  You will probably become pretty distracted and not be able to.
  • Ask yourself if doing this will move you closer to achieving your goals.
  • Ask yourself why you are saying yes. Are you doing it because it will move your work on, contribute to the general aim, add value and because no-one else can, or are you doing it because you feel bad about letting people down, or think it’s quicker for you to do it than someone else and the work will be better?
  • Ask why you can’t say no. Are you concerned about upsetting or disappointing the person asking? Are you worried about their reaction if you say no? Do you think it will be quicker to just say yes and do it than face the potential negative atmosphere if you say no?
  • Are you just saying yes because that’s what you do and it has become a habit and you are seen as the person who never turns anything down?
  • Instead of asking yourself “can I do this?”, ask yourself “should I do this?”
  • Are you saying yes because it’s within your comfort zone and feels easier to do than some of the things you perhaps should be doing in your position?
  • Are you doing this because you always take the role of rescuer? If so, consider the impact of this on you and others.

The benefits to saying no?

Again, I am not suggesting you become someone who says no to everything.  There has to be a balance. Once you challenge yourself to say no to certain requests, you will start noticing the benefits.

  • Many people will respect your ability to say no and will appreciate the fact that you are setting an example, especially in a workplace where saying no is not encouraged.
  • You will find you have more time to do the things that you are meant to be doing eg more strategic planning if you are in a senior position.
  • Your team will thank you as you delegate more, demonstrating trust in their abilities and helping them develop professionally.
  • You will feel more in control, less put upon and clearer about what you really should be doing.
  • You will become more confident in your role and see yourself develop professionally.

Is there another way of saying no?

Not many people enjoy saying or hearing the word no.  So are there other ways of saying it?

If you’re being asked to take on an extra project at work which you know you realistically don’t have time to do or that really someone else should be doing it, try explaining why.  Words like “I’m not able to do that now because I already am feeling stretched and worry I won’t be able to do the work to a sufficiently high standard” or if you do have some capacity but not enough, you could say that you won’t be able to do the whole project, but that you are able to take on some aspects. 

If a client is asking for a meeting this week when you already have one scheduled for the following week (let’s face it, some people love meetings) and you know that time would be better spent working on the project, it is ok to say something like “I really want to focus on getting the work right, would you be happy for me to bring this to our meeting next week?”.  So you’re not hitting anyone with the no word, but you are being clear to them about your boundaries and what you can and can’t do.

If you are a people pleaser, it will be a big change for you and may take a fair amount of effort to start reducing your use of the word yes. It can help to set yourself goals and take it step by step.  For example, decide that when someone asks you to do something, take a few moments to consider whether this is an opportunity to practise saying no.  This may be all you can do for a few times.  Next would be to set yourself a rule around saying no,  There may be someone in particular who often makes you feel overwhelmed.  You could try pushing back with them and see how it feels.  

Slowly you will start feeling pretty liberated!

I challenge you to give it a go and start noticing the difference.

y stressful

If you’d like to find out more about how being clearer about what you want and what you don’t want to do, get in touch

Stop worrying about what others think

Worried about what people think?

Do you find yourself worrying about what people think? It can be paralysing and affect much of our decision making. Read on to find out more about this and what you can do. Last week, I went to see Alain de Botton speak about his new book “School of Life”. The School of Life offers online and in person courses on a variety of topics, but the general aim seems to be to help people live as purposeful, anxiety-free lives as possible. It’s all about being “good enough” and not striving for the dangerous, relentless aim of perfection. He mentioned paediatrician and psychoalanylst, Donald Winnicott who is best known for his ideas on the ‘good enough’ parent and encouraged the audience to strive to be ‘good enough’ and not ‘the best’ or ‘perfect’.

As part of his talk, he asked us to turn to a stranger in the audience and complete the sentence “If I were more selfish, I would…..”. After some discomfort amongst those seated around me, a man turned round and completed the sentence to me. He said “If I were more selfish, I would work part time instead of full time.” I asked him what was getting in the way of this happening. He said “the judgment of my family, my partner and her family”. As he said this, he looked concerned. By saying it out loud to someone, he had realised that the judgment of others, real or imagined, was holding him back from doing something that he wanted to do.

Being a coach, I wanted to keep asking questions to help him explore this, but Alain had us turn back to the front and he continued his talk.

This short conversation with a stranger highlighted what has been on my mind for a while and comes up again and again in coaching sessions. Most people make decisions, often that shape their lives, hold themselves back, prevent them from being completely themselves, because of a fear of what others might think.

And how do we know what others think?

We don’t! So we allow the possible or imagined thoughts of others to shape our decision and behaviour. Often with no evidence whatsoever. We assume what they will think and continue accordingly.

And even if we found out what they thought, should we allow the judgment of others to colour our actions? That’s a difficult one. There are some people who have an agenda, who may be jealous or negative and who are not going to give you a fair response. You know the type – and they are best avoided. However, there will be trusted friends or colleagues who genuinely want you to succeed. When you need help making a decision, it’s best to ask them.

In general, for day to day actions, it’s helpful if you can challenge thoughts of “what will they think?” by asking yourself, firstly, “who are they?” followed by “does it matter?”

It can take some doing, challenging the “what will they think” gremlins, as we are programmed from an early age to care. From wanting to please parents or teachers, to fitting in at school and at work, many of us are hard wired to do what we think will gain us the most praise (and the least criticism) possible.

But you can change your thinking and it can change the way you live your life and how you work. Many managers I have coached have really struggled managing teams as they are worried about what others think and do all they can to remain popular. This can be extremely stressful and frustrating as you really cannot please everyone. (This post on managing others might help with this)

making things happen

Making things happen

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

Leonardo da Vinci

Sometimes things don’t progress as you’d like. You might not be getting the attention or support you need for your project or business. You may be frustrated at work and dreaming of promotion or another job. You might just be a bit bored with life even. You might feel that you are not making things happen.

Inertia can be down to many things. We may not have the confidence to do what we want, we may not have found our purpose or we may be paralysed by concern about what others think (this blog might help)

The wonderful thing is, that we can choose what to do next. We can choose to sit back and watch things happen to others, wondering why it’s not happening to us. There’s a variety of reasons for doing this and very often it’s to do with either lack of clarity about what exactly you could do or a fear of sticking your next out and getting it wrong. If you’re feeling a bit stuck or frustrated, ask yourself what the reason is for not doing something about it. This is a very good place to start. Even better if you can sit down with a friend or someone you trust as just running through it in your mind can mean you’ll let yourself off the hook as you’ll possibly convince yourself there’s no point.

I do love the quote from Leonardo da Vince. Every time I choose to do something as opposed to nothing, I notice that things happen.

It might mean reaching out to someone that inspires you or could help you. You might challenge yourself to arrange to meet someone who could move your project forward, or speak at an event where your ideal client will hear you. You might start a conversation with someone at an event and tell them about what you’re doing. The more you do this, the more likely others will approach you for your services or think of you when they are looking to promote.

It does take a bit of courage as not all of us like or feel comfortable doing these things. We might be consumed by a fear of failure, all too often a fear when challenged makes little sense. Even doing something small, like emailing a potential client or two can start the ball rolling. Stepping out of the familiar, out of the comfort zone can be scary, but it is definitely where things start happening.

Ask yourself what it is you want and what you can do to get there. Choose what you’re going to do about it and go out and ‘happen to things‘.

inclusive leadership coaching

Why Inclusive Leadership?

And how to be an inclusive leader.

Relatively few managers will be unaware of the fact that the workforce has now changed. To lead a successful team or business, they must be aware that there will be a diverse range of cultural backgrounds, beliefs and behaviours amongst their people and that speaking in one way, targeting one type of person is no longer enough to get their message across. It is important to practise inclusive leadership.

There are some leaders and managers who struggle with this concept and wish all would return to the ‘good old days’.  They continue to speak to everyone in the same way.  This means they are speaking to an increasing minority of their team. So what happens to the rest of the team? Most would be pretty clear that this sort of (possibly unconscious) strategy is going to at best disengage and at worst alienate many, creating a fractured team which is unlikely to be productive and effective.

If that isn’t enough reason to be more inclusive in leadership styles, let’s look at some other benefits of being an inclusive leader.

According to Deloitte Insights , organisations with inclusive cultures are :

twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets

three times as likely to be high performing

six times more likely to be innovative and agile

eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes

Hard to argue with that. The first step of making changes is to recognise that change is needed.  You realise that your leadership style is not as including as it could be and that you are missing out on the benefits of such leadership.  The next step is to do something about it.  It helps to work out what inclusive leadership looks like.

According to a very helpful article in the Harvard Business Review “Why Inclusive leaders are good for organisations and how to become one” , https://hbr.org/2019/03/why-inclusive-leaders-are-good-for-organizations-and-how-to-become-one , there are six “traits” that inclusive leaders will have.

These are:

“Visible commitment” – the desire to make a difference, promote diversity, speak out and make the changes necessary to promote a diverse and inclusive workplace.

“Humility” – able to be vulnerable, admit mistakes, capable of and open to  learning from others.

“Awareness of bias” – again, the importance of being aware of the need to make changes to how they are behaving, recognising that they are not perfect and may be flawed in the way they approach diversity.

“Curiosity” – an openness to learn about others, being curious about differences in culture and ways of working and being willing to learn from them.

“Cultural intelligence” – being open about and willing to learn about other cultures and ways of living and working.

“Effective collaboration” – able to appreciate the power of collaboration and how bringing together a diverse team brings a host of benefits, from idea generation to productivity and creativity.

These traits can be learned and developed with time and sufficient desire and once learnt, it is important to ensure that leadership behaviour is consistent.  Occasionally demonstrating curiosity is not enough.  It is something that must become second nature.  By enlisting your team’s help, and asking them to call you out when they notice you are less inclusive, you can find a way of changing your behaviour for good.  It may seem scary, as few of us appreciate such feedback, but with so many advantages it is definitely worth the effort.

Coaching can be useful to support leaders and managers to become more aware of their leadership style and to develop ways of becoming more inclusive as it can be challenging for many to embark on such a project.  Aspects of inclusive behaviour can be identified and tried out in between coaching sessions so that you can feedback how it worked and what can be done differently next time.

If you’re interested in leadership or management coaching to develop a more inclusive style, please get in touch to have a chat about what you’re looking for.  Email catrinmac@gmail.com or call 07785 996917.



coaching options and choices

Don’t forget you do have choices

Your choices can change everything

Choice is such an important part of life.  Most of us, are lucky enough to be able to make so many choices about how we behave, how we work and live.  We can chose how to react to others, to situations – we are not powerless.  This is often too easy to forget in the day to day busy-ness and stress of life.  It’s too easy to be passive and react to situations with frustration, anger or hopelessness, blaming circumstances or others for what happens.

Most people don’t realise / aren’t actually aware of how much power they do have when it comes to choice.  As with all change, the first step is to notice what’s happening.  Then, choose to do something about it.

Because there are always options.

An example

A colleague is driving you crazy with negative comments and a generally negative attitude.  Sometimes it borders on rudeness.  This is affecting your work, your attitude to your job and how you behave with others when they’re around.  They are taking more and more of your headspace and your usual positive demeanour is diminishing. They are having a big impact on you and this is getting you down.

OK, so what are your choices here?

Accept the status quo and do nothing – that is a choice, after all.

Choose to do something about it. You could speak to them, be honest, they may not realise the impact they’re having on you.  There are many ways to do this – you could, for example ask if all is OK with them.  Often this sort of behaviour is as a result of something they’re going through.  If they have always been like this, then they simply may not be aware of how their behaviour affects others. Choose an appropriate time and place to do this, where you can both speak like adults to each other and leave judgement and anger aside.  Try and see it as an interesting experience from which you can learn.  Some find it useful to imagine it as a chapter in a book or scene in a film and they are the protagonist.  It’s useful to remain curious as to the outcome.

If you can’t face approaching them or have tried and they were not responsive, then you have further choices.  You can choose to react differently. You can choose to ignore, to work on letting the frustration go, to focus on more positive things.

You could also find a way of re-framing the situation.  Instead of seeing it as them winding you up on purpose, you could re-frame it as them not being emotionally aware enough to understand and then adapt their behaviour.  This is not personal (things rarely are) and they are just being themselves in their full (and frustrating) glory.  

You can choose to let go of the effect they have and focus on doing a good job and spending as much time with people that do focus on the positive and make you feel good.  Imagine turning down their influence, like a dial on a radio, and giving yourself the power to live and work as you want, without their negativity. 

Write it down

If you’re faced with a difficult situation which is getting you down, write it down.  Then brainstorm all your options.  From the sensible and do-able to the far-fetched.  Have a laugh doing it! Do this alone or with a friend. Apart from feeling better from laughing, you will feel better when you see all the options open to you.

So remember, you don’t have to just take it, you have choices.  If you can’t change others, you can change your reaction to them.  You can change your perception, re-frame the situation, realise it’s not personal and choose to make the changes that will enable you to feel better and move on.

To find out how coaching can help you consider your choices, email me info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk.

The pearl and oyster analogy

Tools for resilience – the pearl and the oyster

Resilience: The pearl and the oyster analogy

During my time training as a resilience practitioner, I learnt many useful resilience techniques.  Learning that through adopting these, we can develop and become good at resilience was hugely inspiring as previously I don’t think I completely understood how much influence we have over our own reaction to challenge. It was made clear that resilience is not something we are, but something we do and that with practice, we can all find ways of dealing with or managing difficulties.  There is no magic pill to take away the difficulty or challenge and we must recognise our initial reaction / disappointment / shock, whatever it may be. However the next steps can move us towards a place of calm, perspective and acceptance as opposed to fear or a sense of defeat.

As a coach, I absolutely love sharing these techniques and encouraging clients to try them out and report back.  We can all, at different stages of our life or career benefit from resilience strategies and it is something that comes up frequently in coaching. As we are all so different in our reaction to situations, I find it fascinating to hear how things went when a client takes away a technique, what worked and what didn’t.  Some clients like a more philosophical approach, a new way of thinking or seeing things, others like a more concrete, step by step guide that they can practise until it becomes second nature.

Many clients love a story or analogy and often, when I’ve shared the pearl and the oyster analogy with them, come back some time later, saying they still hold this in their minds when they are facing a challenge.

The analogy is as follows:

An oyster is a type of mollusc and when a bit of grit or sand floats into its shell, it begins to coat the intruder with layer upon layer of nacre, which is what makes up the oyster’s inner shell, what we would recognise as mother of pearl. These many layers, create the beautiful, sought after pearl.  So from a situation of discomfort and irritation, comes this iridescent gem.

The thinking follows that similarly, from discomfort or irritation, we can derive something useful.  It may be that we learn from the experience, or that it leads to something better that we may not have imagined could happen at the outset.

This simple analogy can bring perspective, it encourages us to realise that the difficulty is a moment in time and that we will move through it.

If you’re interested in hearing more about coaching or training and resilience, get in touch on 07785 996917 or email info@catrinmacdonnell.co.uk.