February 20, 2018

Our best leaders start life as ordinary people

Can you name half a dozen people you admire as leaders but feel you could never be like them? You look at those people and see nothing but confidence, clear sightedness and a range of other impressive qualities. You assume they have always been like this and make quick comparisons with yourself. All you see is a yawning gap, one that you could never cross. If this describes you then you are not alone. We commonly believe that leadership is natural to some people, that they have what it takes while others do not. This view is hardly surprising. We […]
February 20, 2018

Coaching the new team leader

First published in InPsych, August 2017 A coaching assignment with an emerging leader is coveted by psychologists who enjoy this kind of work. Coaching is a prime opportunity to help others to increase their effectiveness and satisfaction as leaders. As behavioural scientists we use a toolkit of proven approaches from a variety of discipline areas that result in sustained learning, growth and self-mastery (Skiffington & Zeus, 2003). Every coaching journey is unique to the individual. The organisational environments they occupy vary widely and each person comes to the coaching experience with their own set of hopes and expectations. They also differ in […]
September 2, 2016

Women leaders: overcoming the impostor syndrome

I have coached and mentored numerous women, all with great talent and ambition. I read their CVs and listen to their stories about things they have achieved and the obstacles they have overcome along the way. I am almost always impressed with their courage and determination. I see the leader in them so clearly. So why are their initial conversations with me typically peppered with misgivings and self-doubts. ‘Am I leader-like enough?’ ‘Do I have what it takes?’ ‘Am I an imposter?’ To be honest, the men I advise and coach rarely express such concerns. We know why – men […]
May 5, 2016

Leaders are grown, not found

The business world is in the midst of a war – a war for leadership talent. Apparently there is a shortage of capable people out there, creating a recruitment and retention frenzy. Where should we look for them? What should we be looking for? How will we know when we have found a good one? I stopped looking years ago. Not because I think the task is too difficult. On the contrary, I think the world is awash with good people who could make great leaders. The problem is we often don’t recognize leadership potential for what it is. Why? […]
March 29, 2016

What are we doing for new leaders?

In my various work roles over the years I have met, taught and coached numerous people in first-level leadership positions. They came from all industries and sectors, and included retail and hospitality managers, head teachers, nurse unit managers, senior scientists, lawyers and accountants, and team leaders of various kinds. When they start out, new leaders are almost always excited, enthusiastic and full of hope. They think they have made it. But within a few weeks, reality sets in. People don’t do what you want them to do just because you ask them. They don’t care about your great plans as […]