Words of wisdom: Leadership

The ultimate leader is one who is willing to develop people to the point that they eventually surpass him or her in knowledge and ability


Alex Ferguson was once asked…

This post comes straight from the phenomenal book by Professor Damian Hughes called How to think like Sir Alex Ferguson. My business is developing leaders who are world changers and this is one book I highly recommend for any manager (current or up and coming) Actually, this is for anybody who wants to gain more out of life


Back to the title at hand

This excerpt can be found in the chapter See Change and falls under the heading of Standing room only (not sure which page as I am reading this on kindle – I am at 24% of the book and have 13 min left in the chapter if that helps any)

Sir Alex Ferguson was once asked: ‘If the average coach says 100 words to his players, how many words should a great coach say?‘ … ‘Ten words,’ he said. ‘Fewer if possible.

This blew my mind, but what Professor Damian Hughes follows on with as an explanation is what really rocked my boat

The truth is great coaches don’t spend their time talking. they spend their time watching and listening. And when they communicate, they don’t just start talking. They deliver concise, useful information, and they make the information stick


This stopped me in my tracks. Do I do this? I know that this is my mission and what I aspire to but do i really practice it?

What about you? Would love to hear your thoughts?

A short post about coaching

Working with leadership teams I often get questions about coaching. Here are a few questions and answers

What is coaching?

A development process whereby a person (the coach) uses a framework and range of techniques to help the coachee identify solutions to a problem they face which they take full responsibility for.

Why is coaching effective?

Because the person coaching (should) operate from a non judgemental, non-critical, highly confidential base where the coachee identifies the answers for themselves. This creates a learner centred (androgogy based) environment of trust. In this type of environment a coachee is more open to change.

Is coaching always appropriate?

It can be however in a performance/business environment it would typically be more effective at a specific stage of the Concious Competence Model. Example below

conscious competence

What are the coaching model frameworks?

There are a number of different frameworks out there. The one I am most familiar with is G.R.O.W model and then I use my own performance coaching framework which I have dubbed G.A.R.D :0)

What do G.R.O.W and G.A.R.D stand for?

G – Goal (what is your goal? What do you want to achieve as an outcome?)

R – Reality (What have you done to achieve your goal? What is stopping you from achieving your goal? What have you thought of trying but not done to achieve your goal?

O – Options (What else could you do to achieve your goal? What would the person you look up to the most recommend you do that hasn’t been done yet?)

W – Will (Based on all the options you have identified rank the 5 which you feel will most likely when done lead to your goal? Explain your reasoning? Which ones are you going to do (set SMART action plan)


G – Goal (what was your goal? What did you want to achieve as an outcome?)

A –  Actions (What actions did you need to do to accomplish your goal? What actions did you commit to do which would help you accomplish your goal? What did you learn in training about this? What skills would you have had to apply to accomplish your goal? What would this have looked like? What do you mean by?)

R – Review (Lets take a look at what you have done; talk me through …? How does this compare to what you should have done? What is the reason for your results – achieved: praise not achieved: acknowledge)

D – Develop (What are you going to do (stop/start/continue) to achieve your goal moving forward – SMART action plan)

Can I give advice or recommendations when coaching?

There are many theories around this. Although it is not wrong to share ideas or make suggestions be aware that there may be draw backs to this –

1.The session becomes your agenda not the coachees which then puts ownership back on you and turns to a training centred approach = decrease in buy in

2.You may without realising become judgemental/critical in your recommendations = decrease in buy in

How could I make recommendations?

If you have asked enough questions to identify options and the person is still missing a key step then it can work (i.e. still maintain buy in from the coachee) to do the following

Ask if they mind if you suggest some other actions/solutions. make the suggestion “Have you thought about …”

The key is not to suggest what they Will do – this must their choice`

What if the person doesn’t want to admit to not doing what needs to be done?

This is where G.A.R.D works really well for me. This makes the person state what they know should have been done e.g. what did you learn in training about this? And then when looking at what was done (Review) it is plain as to what the discrepancy is. 99% of people will at this point take ownership for their actions and results.

What about that 1% that doesn’t take responsibility?

This is where another framework comes into play P.R.O

P – Problem (state the problem behaviour that you are experiencing from the person. E.g. X you said you should do this and as this shows you have not done it. I am here to help you and you continuously push back)

R – Response (Ask for a response e.g what is going on? How am I contributing to this? What is causing this? If this continues what do think my thought will be? What do you think is going to happen if this doesn’t change?)

O – Options (What are you going to do moving forward? What support do you need?)

What if the person doesn’t want to admit to not doing what needs to be done?

Leadership is about setting clear standards and then sticking to them. It is important to look at each situation in its own light however when in doubt I tend to follow this approach

 Train – Tell – Coach – Feedback/Reprimand – Performance Plan

In summary coaching is – when done properly – a very powerful tool.

Maximize the power of training

“Attending a training event can be a powerful (or costly) activity that should reap huge rewards for the learner, the manager, the business and the organisation.”

 Powerful because training events create the opportunity for

a) Individuals to develop their skills and knowledge through meeting with colleagues/peers who are on a similar journey to themselves; sharing their experiences/best practices/knowledge whilst going through carefully planned activities aimed at improving knowledge, skill and confidence all in the safety of a neutral, learning centered environment supported by a learning and development specialist.

b) Individuals to become more engaged, motivated and therefore more effective as a result of the development time they have received

Costly because

Short term:

Colleague – Time away from the business means less time for the individual to do the work required to achieve their goals and ambitions

Team – A colleague away from the business means 1 less team member to support the team’s objectives.

Long term: If there is no support to recognise/develop the learning in the workplace you may see

a) No change – Revert to old habits

b) Disbelief in the effectiveness of training

c) Disengagement, poor EOS results

Harnessing the power of training makes sense but how? 3 simple steps are listed below


1) Hold an informal pre-training meeting


The pre-training meeting plays an essential role to both yourself and your colleague. It allows both parties to


a) Clarify the colleagues’ objectives


b) Create and agree an embedding process to support learning moving forward


c) Schedule a post-training meeting to debrief the learns


2) Hold an informal post-training meeting to debrief your colleague: The debrief process is an essential post workshop activity which has 3 key advantages


a) It supports the embedding and retention of learning. When an individual explains; describes or demonstrates the knowledge/skill gained 3-7 days after the event, memory (retention of skill/knowledge) is improved. This improved memory increases the likelihood of long term application of learning


b) It allows both parties to ascertain whether the event met the colleagues’ objectives and expectations.


c) Starts the agreed support process creating clarity, trust and engagement.


3) Enable and support the agreed embedding activities to take place.


Embedding activities are the essential 3rd piece to learning and have 3 key advantages


a) Change – Applying the learned knowledge/skill with structured and supported focus in the workplace further embeds the knowledge/skill greatly assisting in making this the habit. Please note – Structured and supported process is a key principal to the success of this piece


b) Clarity – As a line manager enabling and supporting the embedding activities provides you with first hand view of what learning has taken place.


c) Engagement – Follow up and follow through of agreed support engenders engagement and motivation. Please note – The level of this is dependant on the style and focus of the learning solution


There you have it!


Three steps to harnessing the power of training.

Three steps to improving engagement and motivation

Three steps to improving performance