Category Archives: Coaching

Book Review: The Intangibles of Leadership – The 10 Qualities of Superior Executive Performance

Book Review:

The Intangibles of Leadership – The 10 Qualities of Superior Executive Performance

As an Organisational Psychologist, Davis is routinely exposed to executives at all levels and so is uniquely placed to be able to identify which characteristics and behaviours result a superior leadership performance.




Davis’ conclusion from his years of research and experience is that there are 10 ‘intangibles‘ or characteristics that are the result of an individual’s underlying values and psychological mechanisms.  He suggests that, although intelligence, training and experience are important, it is these 10 characteristics that lead to some leaders, not only succeeding, but thriving.


Each ‘intangible’ is discussed in its own chapter, with case studies to illustrate and highlight the importance and relevance of each characteristic.
Each chapter is also structured in a standard format asking and answering some fundamental questions for each ‘intangible’:

  • What is it?
  • How do I know it when I see it?
  • How do I get it?

This style not only makes the information easier to absorb, but it also provides a practical approach that an executive can use to develop each quality themselves.
The 10 ‘intangibles’ are:

  • Wisdom – Experience borne of involvement in business, tempered by reflection and by putting each experience into context.
  • Will – The act of getting things done by purely applying oneself to the task diligently and consistently.
  • Executive Maturity – Having sufficient self control and awareness to control your emotional reaction to an event and the ability to evoke emotions in others for positive influence.
  • Integrity – Having a value system that is moral and consistently and visibly holding yourself to that value system.
  • Social Judgement – Having emotional awareness and intelligence and understanding people as a means to leading them.
  • Presence – A gravitas that allows you to be recognized.
  • Self-Insight – Recognition of what it is that drives you and the impact you have on others is a key way  to improve what you do and how you do it.
  • Self-Efficacy – A self belief that you can make a difference and control events to get things done.
  • Fortitude – The internal strength that you confront challenges with.
  • Fallibility – An understanding that you are going to get things wrong but will still attempt the difficult tasks.


For anyone that is well read in the Leadership field, many of these characteristics will be familiar.  What Davis has achieved in this book is to present each characteristic in a clear and easily accessible manner so that an executive or aspiring leader can indentify ‘the differences that make THE difference’.  He has essentially made these ‘intangibles’ tangible and provided an action plan for leaders to develop the characteristics that can improve both their individual career and the performance of the organisations they are leading.

A valuable addition to any library on leadership.




Filed under Book review, Business, career, Coaching, Improvement, Leadership

The Coach’s Casebook

For those who are interested in the coaching aspects of Business Performance Improvement or are coaches themselves, you may find my blog on coaching interesting.

The Coach’s Casebook looks at the application of coaching, case studies to consider and how coaching can be used to the benefit of both individual and business performance.

I hope you find it a useful resource.

Dare to Aspire

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The Best Managers are Coaches Too

One of the aims of management is to get better performance from your team and achieve your goals with less. Often the resources and equipment are generally out of your control as you have already negotiated the cheapest price for any commodities you use.

The only other variable you have influence over is your manpower. Working with them to increase performance and output is one of a the key levers a manager has. The most effective way of increasing performance is by coaching. Just as a sports coach works with individuals to achieve better results, as a manager, so can you.

The aims of coaching are:

– To help a person become aware of their current levels of performance.
– To help a person identify their own resources for self improvement.
– To help a person commit to a plan of action.
– To hold a person accountable for their commitment to that plan.

There are several models that have been developed to take you though the coaching sequence. The GROW model from John Whitmore is popular, but I prefer the STEPPPA model used by Angus McLeod.

In a quiet area where you will not be disturbed, sit with your staff member and run through the following sequence of actions.

Subject – Discuss a number of performance areas with your staff member and identify one that will be the subject of the session. Have the staff member identify the area that needs to be addressed as their involvement will increase their commitment. If you select the subject, it will be taken as an instruction and you will have less commitment, if any.

Target – Develop a target objective from this subject, again one that the staff member suggests. It needs to be realistic, achievable and one that the person is willing to commit to doing. Too lofty a goal will be too much to achieve, too little and the lack of challenge will be demotivating.

Emotional – There has to be a certain amount of emotional connection between the subject and the person. No emotional content and the person will not be inspired to do anything about the issue.

Perception – ‘Perception is truth’ in most people’s minds. If you perceive something to be true, then it is. The person has to perceive that the task is possible and that it will provide real benefit when achieved. They also need to convinced that any external resources will be made available. Without this, their perception will be that YOU are not committed to the outcome.

Plan – Have the staff member work out a plan of action, steps that move them from where they are now to where they have decided they want to go.

Pace – Having defined the plan, you both need to establish that the target has some realistic chance of being achieved and at a pace that is possible to maintain. Stretch targets are acceptable but remember that there is normally some personal growth and learning in this process, so agree a target and a pace that is not too much of a stretch.

Act – The process so far has taken your staff member to a point where they have defined their own target, plan of action, pace and agreed a level of personal commitment. There is no value in this process unless the person commits to action. Agree the actions steps and the when you will review progress. Agreeing to review progress increases the likelihood that the staff member will take at least some of the actions they have agreed as you will be checking progress.

Although this model provides guidance in how to coach your staff, the ability to coach is not as simple as following this pattern. It requires sensitivity, emotional acuity and flexibility in how you act and speak. It is important to let the staff member provide the questions, the answers and create their own plan of action. As a manager, you will be desperate to solve the problem but remember to resist that temptation.

I recommend Dr McLeod’s book in Performance Coaching for further reading. It is clear and well written and the STEPPPA model he uses is reinforced by several case studies and other supporting techniques such as cognitive therapy and NLP.

Dare to Aspire

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The Art of Delegation

Delegation is not a simple matter of giving away tasks. It requires some consideration and planning for 2 key reasons.

Firstly, delegating the task doesn’t not mean that you are free of responsibility for it being carried out, only that the output is provided by someone else.

Secondly, the quality of that output will still reflect upon you, even if someone else completes it!

So here are some ideas on the Art of Delegation:

Select the correct person to do the task.
That is, find someone with the correct knowledge, skill, attitude and capacity to do the task. There is no point in giving a software task to the mail delivery person.

Ensure that person understands the task and the timescales/deadlines involved. Ask questions to clarify their understanding and ensure the person understands what you believe a ‘good job’ looks like.

Ensure the person is given the resources to complete the task and that other managers understand the person has an increased workload, reducing their capacity to accept other work.

Maintain communication at a frequent by not intrusive frequency. This often requires some sensitivity and trust. You want the person to give you feedback on progress, but don’t want to be seen as a micro manager.

Stand back and let the person go, providing guidance and support if required.

Monitor the progress and review the performance. Trust but verify is not a poor motto in the early stages of delegating. As you both increase in confidence, the verify can be reduced as the trust increases!

My own delegation process follows the following pattern:

– A brief overview of the task
– A clear description of the outcome
– A breakdown of the resources available
– A statement on when the work needs to be completed for my review
– A short period of questions from both of us to clarify the outcomes, resources and any concerns
– A discussion of when to review progress

These tips and my process should give you a useful starting point for developing you own delegation.

Dare to Aspire

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Change Check List

One of the most frequently used terms in the modern business world is that of ‘Change’. The pace at which technology is improving and the body of human knowledge is growing means that to keep up we constantly need to change and grow.

Being able to adapt is one of the keys to success in modern business and so it useful to be able to to assess our readiness and ability to change.

The following is a check-list that can help you assess whether you are likely to be able to make the planned change a reality:

  • Are you open to the idea that change is possible?

  • Assess the reasons why you want to change…Are they powerful enough? Real change requires a passion for something new to sustain you.

  • What actually needs changing? Make sure you got to the core of what you want to change.

  • Change will have consequences, good and bad. Consider them and be sure you can accept them.

  • Can you start today now, even a little bit? Putting it off will not help you generate the momentum you will need to complete the change.

  • Start small and work up to a large change. Small consistent changes in behaviour make the habit of change more physiologically acceptable and more readily accepted next time.

  • Act as if you have already adopted the change and you will begin to believe the change and grow into it. Trying on the ‘new you’ will also help you assess if you want to keep it.

  • Only employ positive language. The brain doesn’t process negatives very well so using positive language to reinforce the change you want. Think and act positively!

  • Develop some sensory acuity and be open to the changes that are happening around you to see the impact of any changes. You will soon recognise if the change is having a bad effect if you keep yourself open to how others are behaving.

  • Look for feedback in how your performance is changing. Not all changes are beneficial and it is important to get feedback and see if the change is improving your situation.

This check-list should be helpful in your personal change process. As you step through each point, identify if you are already meeting that element or if it requires more effort. Only you can decide if you are willing to focus on that element and really embrace the change.

Dare to Aspire

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The Power of a Mentor

Sometimes you will find yourself unable to see a way ahead in your work life. At times like these, the benefits of someone that can help you are immense. If you can build a relationship with a person then they may be able to help you grow and develop and perhaps they may become a permanent mentor.

Benefits of a Mentor

1. An assistant who can help you develop your personal and work life.

2. A useful sounding board that can listen and provide an independent judgement without any fear of the feedback having a negative effect on your career.

3. A guide and perhaps a champion if you need extra training or development.

4. A person who puts your agenda first and acts as a motivator and personal change agent.

5. A person who helps you on a path of self discovery for your benefit.

Qualities of a Mentor

1. They are totally trustworthy. They are working with you at a professional yet quite intimate level and so trust is essential for you to expose your professional weaknesses and concerns without fear of ridicule or impact.

2. They must be patient. Development can take a long time, particularly when there is a high level of complexity. Your mentor will need to be patient, persistent and help you stay on track.

3. A mentor must astute enough to ask the deep probing questions that will help you identify personal shortfalls.

4. They must be committed to making the relationship work. If you are both non-committal, the mentoring process is doomed.

The Mentor-Mentee Relationship

When you find a person that is willing to be your Mentor, it is important to agree the terms of the relationship. You should both be committed to that relationship and so it is worth spending time establishing the scope of the activity, the level of individual commitment and the boundaries you both want to work within.

When I enter this relationship I have guidelines:

1. Absolute confidentiality. What goes on in the relationship stays within that relationship.

2. I am willing to commit to regular meetings to discuss goals, aims, techniques and progress. I am also willing to entertain the occasional irregular contact, but generally only when my Mentee has exhausted their own resources and have hit a barrier that they cannot pass.

3. If either of us make a commitment, it is exactly that, a commitment.

4. If we agree a meeting time, we are never late. Being late shows disrespect.

5. There will be a time when the relationship grows beyond both of us. Either person can withdraw from the relationship without any guilt providing it is done with respect and good grace.

Most other guidelines we work out together but these are generally enough to begin the process.

Anyone can benefit from a Mentor so see if you can find someone who could help you progress and ask them to help. Most senior people are very happy to help those who recognize the need for help and are brave enough to ask.

Dare to Aspire

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9 Tips For Personal Success

Take charge of your life

Accept that your are responsible for your life, no one else. Not your parents, spouse, manager or friends. YOU! The decisions you make and the actions you take define the outcomes you achieve, so take charge of those decisions and actions and start moving towards your goals today.


Have a Purpose for Your Life

What separates successful people from the rest is that they live their lives with a purpose. A purpose that helps then create goals, gives them a head mark to aim for and that gets them emotionally engaged with their vision for their future. Pick your purpose and get juiced up!

Take Action

It is important to have a vision and set goals for the life you want to achieve, but these are nothing more than a vain hope unless you take action. Keep taking action daily towards your goals and you will achieve something, and eventually everything!

Be Willing to Pay for Your Dreams

It isn’t realistic to achieve everything. Select what you truly want and then sacrifice all of the other things. Successful people find out what it’s going to cost to make their dream come true. Having what you truly want requires you to pay that cost either in financial terms or in accepting that other things will not be achievable. The key is to focus on what you truly want and then Act.

Stay Focused

The pace of modern life means that every day we have more to do than we can possible cope with. People, tasks and information are all competing for the limited time we have available. A successful person understands that they cannot keep jumping from task to task, but rather need to focus on one task at a time. They also realize that only the tasks that move them rapidly towards their goals should appear on their ‘to do’ list. Only by focusing on the most important things can you hope to become successful.

Excel in your chosen field

Whenever you think of a successful person, you automatically associate them with an area in which they are highly capable, an expert if you like. This is because they have identified where value can be achieved and then focused completely on that area. Spend significant effort on a particular topic and you will soon become an expert. One hour makes you aware of the topic, 10 hours makes you familiar, 100 hours makes you comfortable and 1000 hours makes you an expert. Start today!

Have a plan

It is a cliché but a person without a plan is like a boat without a rudder. Going in any direction and often the wrong one! Taking the time to write out an action plan not only helps you identify for how you’re going to achieve your goals, but also helps you identify any potential barriers you are likely to face.

Be Persistent

When you’re truly committed to achieving your goal, giving up isn’t even an option. You must be willing to do whatever it takes to make your vision happen. The reason that there are no squirrel proof bird tables is not because humans cannot devise one, it is because squirrels spend every waking moment thinking about how to get at nuts. They aren’t brighter than humans, they are just so damn persistent that they always achieve their aim in the end. Learn that lesson!

Do It Today

Life is tentative, unpredictable and the ultimate experience. At least it is far better than the alternative. So act now to make it the most rewarding experience possible. Why put off until tomorrow what you could do today? Do it today and if you really enjoy it then you could be doing it again tomorrow. Act now and achieve your goals.

Dare to Aspire


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