My guaranteed plan for demoralising your team

Most of us don’t want to do a bad job and we have truly good intentions. But sometimes it helps to take a step back.

If you’re doing any of these seven things…… no beating yourself up.

But maybe time to make a few changes?

As always, a journey of 1000 miles starts with one step..

  • Keep cancelling those 1-1s because ‘something else came up’ (your team love playing second fiddle to your email list or your unmet deadlines or the latest crisis) whilst spouting those words ‘our people are our greatest asset’;
  • Chair meetings with no clear purpose and no clear outcomes. Let the same people speak or just speak yourself, for the whole time, with no input from your team. (They love being talked at). And then arrange another meeting about that meeting. Or ask everyone to share what they are working on this week - why?
  • Never explicitly show appreciation - they know you’re pleased with what they do (because mind-reading...
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Where do you begin and where do you end?

boundaries Oct 08, 2021

I’m talking today about boundaries.

Not the type that leads to neighbourhood disputes over hedges.

I’m talking about personal boundaries.

How many times do you:

  • Agree to do something but inwardly seethe with resentment?
  • Put everybody’s own needs before your own?
  • Take on responsibilities that are not yours to take on? (‘My team are busy and I don’t want to burden them’)
  • Think about what you ‘should’ do vs. what you truly want to do.

There’s a number of reasons you might be nodding your head and I can pretty much guarantee your boundaries are stamped on because of your own beliefs or fears:

  • A belief that you SHOULD put others before yourself - always
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of being selfish
  • Fear of someone else’s reaction if you honour your own boundary
  • People pleasing or need for approval
  • Guilt or shame

Did I miss any?

Of course a lot of these beliefs and fears come from the early messages we got (explicitly or implicitly)...

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Your thoughts create your reality (RIP Sue)

belief self-belief Oct 01, 2021


Today would have been my sister’s 59th birthday.

Diagnosed with an in-operable brain tumour in 2007 and given two years to live she said ‘f**k that’ (I’m quoting - Sue didn’t mince her words) and she stayed with us until 2018 living a life that changed so many other people’s lives for the better.

The one phrase she always used is ‘your thoughts create your reality’.

In other words, if you think something won’t work, it probably won’t.

If you think something will work, it probably will - or even if it doesn’t, at least you won’t always be wondering ‘what if’.

She encouraged me to think about my thinking.

To challenge my own thoughts - are they true, or just some dumb story I’m making up in my head?

You know the ones I mean:

‘Who am I to……’


‘I can’t do that…. (what, me?!)

So if you’re doubting yourself today, channel a little bit of my...

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Managing conflict in virtual teams - here's what you need to know

I am sharing this with you with permission from The Oxford Review.

A new (2020) study looking at conflict in virtual teams has found that virtual teams, when compared to normal physical teams, are more prone to ‘team fault lines’, or divisions between team members based on their different attributes such as nationality, background et cetera.

The study found that by engaging in online affect management**, team leaders can significantly reduce the negative impacts of team fault lines and can increase team collaboration, performance, and resilience. Additionally, the study found that:

Virtual team resilience is enhanced when individuals feel that they can express their true feelings.

Virtual team resilience is largely based on the individual team members’ being able to engage in emotion regulation techniques and manage their own emotions in a constructive manner.

Suppressing emotional responses has a negative impact on both the team members and on team resilience.


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Try this if you’re working in silos

Does your organisation or parts of it feel siloed?

Has this got worse - or better - during the months of WFH?

If so, you can start to change it - or at least take responsibility for the bits that you can influence and change.

Silos are most often created when we only see our needs and perspectives or the purpose and priorities of the organisation are not clear or they’re in conflict.

I often see ‘silo mentality’ in leaders who are hugely loyal to and want the best for their teams so they’re blind to the bigger picture. A kind of ‘we’re right and you’re wrong’ mentality kicks in.

Their intention is often positive but the impact it has is not.

Years ago I worked in a siloed organisation - one part of it working to ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ and the other on providing a quality, exciting, affordable experience for our customers.

Sometimes we were able to do both and it worked brilliantly

But much of the time we didn’t.

And as...

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Five questions for a micromanager

control micromanaging teams Sep 10, 2021

Currently, I’m working with a self-confessed micro-manager. (I’ll call her Sam).

Sam knows this behaviour has got a lot worse during the pandemic with her team WFH.

She knows this is getting in the way of good leadership and she’s also finding it exhausting - but she feels nervous about being ‘hands off’ and (in her words) ‘losing control and not knowing what’s going on’.

And that’s the problem - we tend to look at things as either/or.

Either I’m a micromanager or I’m hands off.

But as you know by now (do I say this enough?!) we can take one step at a time to change any behaviour that’s not serving us or others well.

There’s a lot to explore with something like micromanaging - and we’ll be digging deeper into this I’m sure as Sam and I work together.

But she wanted to do something practical to make a start.

So this is what we did:

I asked her these questions to get to the root of her micromanaging...

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Be more cat?

communication influence Sep 03, 2021

Do you remember an ad some years ago for 02 (other brands are available) called Be more dog?

I‘ve been thinking about this recently because we’ve ‘acquired’ a cat.

Or rather he adopted us - and despite lots of effort to find his owners (no collar, no microchip) nobody is fessing up.

So for the moment he’s ours.

I’ve never owned cats before - I’ve always had dogs (my lovely old border collie Poppy is definitely this woman’s best friend).

I love the difference:

Poppy - love me, stroke me, I’m so happy to see you, unconditional love, wag, wag, wag. I miss you when you’re not here, I want to please you, dependent.

Cat (that’s his name for now) - feed me, I’ll do my own thing thank you very much, indifferent except when I’m hungry or I want to be stroked; I’m the boss. Everything on my terms. Independent, indifferent. ‘Whatever’.

(He’s still lovable of course in his own way).

It’s no...

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Mind your language!

I love the nuances of language.

In fact, languages were the only thing that really interested me at school.

And it wasn’t just because my French teacher was rather handsome (can I say that? Probably not but I’m saying it anyway. Language, eh?!).

I love how one or two words can make a difference to our messages and how they’re received.

‘That piece of work is not good enough’ diminishes the listener whereas ‘I would like to help you make this piece of work even better’ lifts her up.

I find it fascinating that what is unspoken is sometimes more telling than what is spoken. The elephant is there but nobody quite knows how to approach it – often because they can’t find the right words or fear the impact of those words. (Much of my work with teams helps them with this).

When I first trained as a coach back in 2001, I learned how much I was ‘interpreting’ rather than really listening to what the other person was saying;...

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Got 5 minutes to improve your virtual team meeting?

Here are 7 things to do next time.

Make it outcome focused (not a talking shop).

Check in half- way through – what’s gone well in the first half and what should we change in part two?

Make sure everyone’s voice is heard – ask people to come prepared to discuss x; use chat, use polls, share ideas in advance. Not everyone is a natural ‘vocaliser’ on Zoom or Teams.

Stop the endless repetition – if you agree with what someone else has just said, say ‘agree’. You don’t need to say it again.

Start and end on time. Every time. No discussion.

Cameras on – be present.

Block out space afterwards to reflect, make your notes and do any follow up.

If you haven’t banned back-to-back meetings, then PLEASE STOP NOW.

They’re killing your productivity.

You’re welcome.

PS: Want to be an effective, inspiring, confident leader? Here’s how I can help you get started in September.

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Tired of chasing your tail?

You’re probably familiar with the proverb “a journey of 1000 miles begins with a simple step”.

That’s true.

And once you’ve taken that first step you’ve got to keep moving forward.

(Have you ever started something – an exercise regime, a diet, a self-study programme – but then ‘life’ got in the way and you gave up or didn’t finish?).

We’ve all been there, right?

I don’t know about you but I’m much more motivated to take those steps when there’s someone doing it alongside me - for support, encouragement and a kick up the backside when I need it (which I do).

Sadly, knowing what step to take first is often the place we get stuck.

Moving from Point A to Point B seems too big a journey to contemplate (or, let’s be honest, our ‘not good enough’ voice kicks in and stops us in our tracks.)

Well, you can change this pattern if you really want to. (Do you really want to?)


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