Helping you mobilise your inner resources to achieve your dreams

What’s new in the field of leadership?

ID-10065402The progression of our society, shifts in values, and even technology, influence us greatly. In turn, these mould our behaviour – for example, consider how many of our attitudes today vary from those of our parents’ generation. The only constant in life is that things never stay the same.

Leadership is more about the people being led than the leader. If we change, and the way we view our world evolves as time passes, it’s no surprise that leadership methods need a rethink. Using old practices to lead and motivate staff won’t work if our expectations have moved.

Here are five new approaches that are already being employed in organisations:


Spontaneity and accessibility are the key factors behind this approach. Leaders at Honda encourage ‘drop in’/anytime meetings, where rank is irrespective, so that employees who feel they can contribute towards innovation or the success of the company can report anything that impacts the organisation. Waigaya was a result of the company’s belief that scheduled meetings were not as dynamic in comparison to this new approach, and only affected the productivity of their busy staff.

There are four basic rules for waigaya: everybody is equal; all ideas must be disputed until proven valid or rejected; once an idea is shared it’s Honda’s and no longer the originator’s; and at the end of waigaya, tasks and responsibilities are awarded, and subjected to timelines.


ID-100159496Though it may sound more like they’re thrown in at the deep end, at Leaders’ Quest, senior executives are encouraged to work at ground level on projects or in widely-different roles, to get completely different perspectives on their own issues. Rather than learning from a textbook or seminar how others manage with fewer resources and against altogether different challenges, this social enterprise believe the knowledge is only absorbed if the participants are asked to physically do the same.

People are brought together from all walks of life, and get to experience things outside their comfort zone; the theory is that they can take what they’ve learned to apply themselves when back in their role. The more responsibility on a leader’s shoulder, the more likely they’ll have no time to really notice the environment surrounding them; placing them on a quest completely removes them from their day-to-day pressures, and opens up their mind to other possibilities.

The Golden Circle

Simon Sinek suggests that traditional leaders concern themselves only with the ‘what’ and ‘how’; he refers to those who dig deeper, asking ‘why’ something happens, as ‘the golden circle’. Asking ‘why’ something is done, he says, helps us to look at challenges with a fresh perspective and allows us to tap into our intuition – it’s purpose-driven leadership. Based on neuroscience, Sinek explains how these questions are processed differently in our brains. The two outer sections of our mind concern themselves with the ‘how’ and ‘what’; they’re rational, with no capacity for language.

The ‘why’ comes from the inner section that we’re still discovering more about: the section that’s concerned with emotions, desire and communication. When we start to speak from the outside in, starting with facts and data, we don’t get to the place where people make decisions. Flipping this on its head, when we start from the inside out, we access people’s wants and needs before finishing with the necessary facts and figures to back up our argument or further our persuasion.


Something I’ve covered on this blog before, Susan Cain’s championing of the introvert as a more effective leader is certainly thought-provoking. Susan claims that introverts do more listening than talking and can therefore read situations better. Those who shout the loudest don’t necessarily shout the best – taking the time to process the information received helps leaders to make more informed decisions. The introvert’s ability to stay focused is one of the main qualities a leader needs, as is their focus on making meaningful connections: quality over quantity.

Leadership Embodiment

70% of our communication is non-verbal. The physicalities of a leader, from the way they hold themselves to their body language, can change the way they speak and think. Incorporating mindfulness practices hones confidence and compassion, amongst other things, as well as helping leaders to stay composed and focused under pressure and stress.

These leadership trends will themselves change over time. There are recurring elements within the themes, even though their approaches are different: immersion, involvement and greater understanding. As detailed in last week’s blog, if a leader has focus, a mindful perspective, and a commitment to get more from his team, they will all share success. I doubt this will change in the future, even in our children’s children’s generation.

If you’d like help to boost or develop your leadership skills, contact me on 01302 220021, or drop me an email at angela.sabin@executive-life-coaching.co.uk.

Thanks to digidreamgrafix and renjith krishnan from freedigitalphotos.net for use of the images.


What qualities must a good leader have?

I’ve talked many times on the subject of leadership, and what successful leaders need to do in order to get the best from their team – and it’s always good insight and advice to repeat.

Angry Boss

I’ve compared styles of leadership, and even leaders themselves, such as Alan Sugar and Nelson Mandela, who have huge variations in their approaches and attitudes.

So what qualities, or aspects of personality, would you imagine a leader should demonstrate or develop?

The art of ‘managing’, not slavishly ‘doing’

I’m the first to recommend any leader should have a good idea of what every individual in their team is responsible for and the brief attributes of their role and day-to-day tasks – sometimes practising these themselves so they have a deeper knowledge and perspective. However, there’s a difference between having an overall understanding, and actually doing your team’s work for them because your delegation skills need sharpening.

Just handing out work to the first person that stops by your desk is not effective delegation either; learning individuals’ strengths and weaknesses is requisite, so that you can offload tasks to the person most suitable to complete it well. The success of your team will be your success too, and the art of delegation is a key element of this.

Good communication

Following on from the last point, delegation won’t work if you’re a poor communicator. Guidance and instruction towards your team will be challenges if you’re not able to talk to people on the same level and your approach to communication is one that infuriates or confuses team members.

Understanding that communication is a two-way street is the first consideration; a successful leader encourages his charges to bring him their problems and ideas. Without interaction and a continual dialogue, it’s hard to believe any leader is effective, with such limited knowledge of their team’s progress or daily duties.


Being responsible for others means you’re automatically held as an example to them. Your team will look to you for direction and, possibly, ethics and advice. Trust is a huge consideration if you’d like your team to follow your lead; if they suspect you’re not honest with them, they’ll disengage and ignore your authority. You’re the motivator, inspiration and steer – set an example that’s something they can aim for, if you want to push the whole team to reach higher and give them something to aim for.

ID-100223620A sunny outlook

As leader and an inspiration, you need to be the one to chivvy along others when life events or office conflict threaten to push their emotions off-balance. You’re the one with the vision to articulate and the energy and commitment to motivate everyone you’re responsible for towards that goal; if you’re not someone who can themselves shake off problems or challenges from outside the workplace, you’re going to struggle to lead your team towards great results. Hone your detachment skills and work on your positivity; the energy and productivity of your team are easily influenced by your demeanour. Remember: enthusiasm is infectious.

The ability to adapt and think ahead

As leader, you’re the first to traverse new paths and stormy seas. If your team see that you adapt well to challenges or changes, they’ll follow suit. Your intuition and lack of indecision when progressing with projects will cement your authority and credibility as leader, and the ability to think a few steps ahead will not only reduce risk for the team but also the amount of time wasted as solutions are found.

Your confidence that the outcome of any task will be a good or beneficial one will further fuel the efforts of your team, underpinning their security and giving reassurance.

Tolerance and detachment

Though, as a human being, it’s likely you will have ‘favourites’ or members of the team that you engage with more than others, it’s important you treat all team members the same. Not getting personally involved with office disputes and keeping a professional distance in social settings will ensure the set-up of your relationship as leader to individual team members will not be compromised.

Tolerating your team’s weaknesses and keeping a cool head whilst all around you are losing theirs are both good reasons why you’re the leader. Turning failures into learning opportunities and encouraging unity within the team will ultimately help their overall success. Never should the vision or goal be forgotten because of petty squabbles between the team; the leader is the one that, under any circumstances, always keeps focus.

So, is leadership a state of mind, or can it be taught? Looking at the qualities above, I’d say that it’s a mix of the two. All are important if you’re to encourage others to further their commitment, effort and abilities towards a shared goal – few people want to remain autonomous for eight hours a day, five (or more) days a week.

As a leadership coach, this is only a brief overview of the qualities a good leader should hold. I can help you develop a raft of competencies and traits that will push you and your team towards better results. Contact me on 01302 220021 or email angela.sabin@executive-life-coaching.co.uk.

Tattoos in the workplace – do they leave a mark on your career?

ID-100114329Living in a free country, we have the liberty to look and dress how we want. Some choose to entrench their sense of identity with tattoos, particularly younger people, having grown up with pop stars and sporting heroes inked from head to toe.

When you’re a celebrity you have a certain carte blanche to do what you like without really altering how people perceive you. But does the average Joe Bloggs, however accepting a world he/she lives in, believe that noticeable designs on skin that’s exposed won’t tempt prejudice? Or do they just not care?

I recently watched Bodyshockers, a programme that aims to get those looking to permanently change their body in some way to consider the impact of their decision. The episode featured a man who’d tattooed his face when drunk and reacting to a dare, the fallout of which saw him sacked from his job just a day later. He couldn’t find anyone who would hire him during the following five years, then, after getting the tattoos lasered off, he landed a job.

People’s perceptions can be very powerful. One man, Jason Barnum, was arrested and charged after shooting an Alaskan police officer. Having one half of his face tattooed, including his eyeball, Judge Barnum, presiding over the case, said: I’d like you to take a look at Mr Barnum. He has the right to do this to himself and to express himself. We can’t sentence him for that, but I think we can consider a guy’s attitude and his behaviour.” Mr Barnum’s tattoos were guilty of influencing the jury.

Statistics show that one in five people have a tattoo of some kind. Given that this represents 20% of the workforce, surely some people aren’t offended or put off by body art? When interviewed, many tasked with hiring people admitted that candidates’ tattoos did not offend them personally, but their perception that customers may be offended ultimately affected their choice.

The negative comments tattoos invite can be severe. Managers admit to perceiving tattooed employees as rebellious, lazy, repugnant – and even dirty – individuals. There are some positives to be found, however. Some professions are found to benefit if their employees have tattoos. Prison guards, for example, where tattoos can break down barriers and help make instant connections with inmates.

Putting aside perceptions for a moment, there’s absolutely no correlation between someone’s tattoos and their ability to do their job. And as more and more celebrities parade their tattoos in society, the more acceptable they’re bound to become. It certainly hasn’t harmed David Beckham’s career. Young people are around tattoos and body art all the time; if they see that their role model hasn’t received prejudice due to their inkings – quite the opposite, in fact – there’s little wonder they see no negativity associated with them. Also consider that, as time goes by, those making the hiring decisions are more likely to have tattoos themselves.

In 2006, tattoo fan Rebecca Holdcroft took her employers to court on the grounds of discrimination, after they asked her to cover her fully-tattooed arms and back. However, she didn’t get the verdict she sought because no law existed to protect her at that time.

Researching this topic, I found a good rule of thumb from a legal professional. Her suggestion, that if your contract doesn’t specifically state tattoos aren’t acceptable or that they’re not to be on show, suggests you’d have better grounds for discrimination if your job was threatened or lost because of your body art. And if you were never in physical contact with the public as part of the role you were dismissed from, you’d have a good case for unfair treatment.

The issue here is whether tattoos come under ‘dress code’ in a contractual reference. If employees’ tattoos are such an issue it would seem prudent to give them their own significance in the employee contract.

Discrimination can also be a grey area in some professions but more clear-cut in others. For example, body art on a pop star wouldn’t cause negative reactions in this day and age, but on an undertaker, tattoos may bring about a very different reaction.

The issue of whether tattoos affect careers is certainly not an across-the-board conclusion – in some professions there’s far, far more acceptance than others. And even in the workplaces where tattoos are viewed more negatively, there’s no reason common sense can’t be applied by both employer and employee.

Tattoos shouldn’t affect one’s career – on the whole – and in years to come, it’s quite possible that they never will. But in the meantime, consider that, though you may have control over your body and what you choose to add to it, you have absolutely no control over people’s perceptions of you. In most cases, this is unlikely to affect you, but when it comes to your career, it does have the power to influence your progress.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Would you hire someone with visible tattoos?

Thaks to marin at freedigitalphotos.net for use of the image.

A weighty issue: Does being obese damage your chances of promotion?

ID-10073990As I reported in my last blog, a person’s outer/physical image is not necessarily the most influential factor when choosing candidates for promotion – based on a recent study. However, you wouldn’t have to trawl the internet for long to find examples of discrimination against employees based on their physical appearance, and cases where workers have been passed over for promotion because of how they look.

So, how much does our appearance affect our careers? From the way we dress, our tattoos and piercings, even our gender and how attractive we’re perceived to be – all have been grounds for discrimination in people’s careers. In this post, however, I’m going to address obesity, and how it’s perceived in the workplace.

Obesity discrimination does happen

A 2012 study, led by The University of Manchester and Monash University, Melbourne, found that prejudice against people’s weight did indeed exist. Said Dr Kerry O’Brien, “We found that strong obesity discrimination was displayed across all job selection criteria, such as starting salary, leadership potential, and the likelihood of selecting an obese candidate for a job.”

Dr Boris Baites, a psychology professor at Wayne State, confirms that obese employees are victims of stereotyping. His research showed that weight based bias is stronger than that for race or gender, and speculated that this is because obesity is generally considered to be within a person’s self-control. One UK manager even admitted, “Whatever else you know, there’s a gnawing feeling at the back of your mind that fat people are lazy, greedy and undisciplined.”

Even if an overweight or obese candidate was in perfect health, assumptions that they would not be capable of carrying out certain roles could limit their career prospects, such as professions that require sustained mobility or a degree of physical exertion. There’s also the very real assumption that obese employees need more time off work than their slimmer colleagues, due to weight-related complications and illnesses.

Weight and gender

If prejudice indeed exists against the obese, is it experienced proportionately by both male and female executives?

A study by Michigan State University suggested that women are viewed far more negatively than men, and are held to harsher weight standards.

Is obesity a scapegoat, or a justifiable decisive factor?

A UK survey in 2007 for Personnel Today magazine revealed 93% of human resources professionals would give the job to the thinner person when choosing between two candidates of equal ability.

Is this wholly shocking? Ask yourself the same question: if ability was resolutely equal between two promising candidates, what factors would you apply to decide between them? What other elements could separate two identical candidates, and what benefits would you imagine an obese or overweight person would bring to the role that are attributable to their size?

Whether you’re in agreement that obesity is a legitimate decisive factor when promoting or hiring, or not, it’s clear many think it’s justifiable to turn someone down or pass someone over because of their size. Around a third of HR professionals, in the same survey, believe obesity is a valid medical reason for not employing a person, and 15% agree they would be less likely to promote an obese employee.

Is obesity a disability?

In July 2014 EU advice suggested that obesity should be treated as a disability. With the average clothing size of UK women as 16, and given that almost one in four of the UK population is obese, the impact of such a recommendation surely affects almost every organisation. Though the Advocate General ruled that only those with a BMI of 40 or more should legally be classed as disabled, companies that choose to ignore or discriminate against their obese and overweight employees may find themselves at risk of compensation claims.

How much is society to blame?

Dr Viren Swami, evolutionary psychologist at Liverpool University’s Department of Public Health, says, “We are bombarded on a daily basis with the idea that only attractive people can be successful, and that to be attractive means to be thin.” There’s little wonder, with this mind-set promoted all around us, in the media and society itself, that obesity is seen so negatively.

What’s the answer? More support towards society’s ‘ideal’, i.e. help for the obese to be thinner, and, in turn, more ‘successful’? Or greater acceptance of the obese in the workplace, eradicating discrimination on the grounds of their weight?

But, if we accept obesity, are we supporting more long-term, costly problems, such as reinforced chairs and toilets/facilities, in the workplace? What other benefits does acceptance bring? I’d love to hear your views on this topic.

A New Year is upon us, and if there are any aspects holding your career back, please do contact me for a no-obligation chat on 01302 220021, or contact me via angela.sabin@executive-life-coaching.co.uk.

Thanks to vorakorn at freedigitalphotos.net for use of the image.

How much does your visibility matter when you’re chasing a promotion?

Over the next few blogs, I hope to provoke some thought, or even debate, on how much our physical characteristics influence our career, compared to our capacity to do the job itself. It’s often a common assumption: that the confident and beautiful climb effortlessly up the ladder (whether they’re capable of doing the job or not), whilst the faithful workers who continually over-achieve – but who keep their heads down – are always overlooked.

ID-10041389In this post, I’m addressing the key factor when it comes to deciding who to promote. What would you imagine made the top of the list? Men/women with the best figure? The person who wears the most expensive suit? The most committed flirt?

Despite stereotypes and misassumptions, image (which concerns more than just how we look) accounted for only 30% of any promotional decision.

A survey carried out by Harvey Coleman, that spanned a number of large organisations, found that three main factors were prevalent when awarding a promotion: visibility, job and image.

Sixty percent of the companies that participated in the survey said that visibility was the most important factor.

What do we mean by ‘visibility’?

It’s feasible for any manager to wonder if an employee actually wants to be promoted. If a team member seems happy enough to get on with their work, and doesn’t show any sign of wanting to progress, is it any wonder they slip under the radar when it comes to choosing who to put forward for promotion? Increasing your visibility boosts your chances of moving up the ladder. Follow my tips below, regarding how best to get noticed:

  • You’ve got to sell yourself. You’d know your value, measure your skills against others in your industry, and look to fill any skills gaps you had if you were applying for a role outside of the company you currently work for – so why should this be any different when applying for a promotion? Take a strategic look at your skills, strengths and weaknesses and plan how to rise above the competition – just as if you were job-hunting elsewhere.
  • Don’t be a wallflower. Speak up in meetings and put forward your ideas. Take the initiative to approach your manager with strategies that would help your team become more efficient. Be more involved with your company by attending their events and supporting marketing campaigns, for example. If you continually put yourself forward for things, and you become familiar with your superiors, the more you’ll increase your chances of promotion. Managers promote those they know, and whose track record they’re aware of. If you’re unknown to the decision-makers, take the initiative to change this.
  • Do your research. Keep up to date with industry and company news; look at the bigger picture. Don’t just see any networking or making new contacts as something you need to do with people outside your organisation – research the key people in your organisation and gain/strengthen ties with them.
  • See yourself as a brand. You’re effectively selling yourself – your ideas, your work and value. Think of how you appear online and within your team. What would your manager and colleagues say about you? How do you come across to people you’ve never met before? How do you overcome your weaknesses or challenges/obstacles in your career? Rather than let those you interact with brand you, consciously look to improve and steer your ‘brand’ and the perceptions people have of you.
  • Be pliable. The more flexible you appear, and how well you adapt to new ways of working with little fuss, will win over your superiors. If you demonstrate how resilient and independent you are, the more your manager will believe how easily you’d fit into a new position. The last thing they’d want to do is promote someone who buckles under pressure or who needs their hand holding. Show you could cope – ask to take on more responsibility in your current role.
  • Build your confidence. If you don’t feel confident that you can do a higher-level job this will be apparent to those tasked with choosing the most suitable candidate. If your confidence is an issue look at employing a coach or implementing common techniques to improve it.

The reality is that a promotion isn’t going to hunt you down – you have to chase opportunities. If you don’t bring your successes to anyone’s attention, how can they ascertain how capable you’d be in a more demanding role? If your manager can barely remember your name, would you imagine it would be first on the list of who to promote?

wp311bd7ce_05_06Next time I’m going to discuss image, appearance and perceptions in the workplace. If you’d like some career coaching or help with your confidence, to boost your chances of promotion, please get in touch with me on 01302 220021, or via angela.sabin@executive-life-coaching.co.uk.

I’ll be back with the next blog post in a couple of weeks. I sincerely hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year.

Thanks to Ambro at freedigitalphotos.net for use of the main image.

Is accreditation significant amongst coaches? What does such qualification signify?

Many coaches are accredited by industry panels and boards, but few of these bodies are independent accreditors who uphold a European-Quality Standard for coaching – across all disciplines and concerning all coaching elements.

The standout is the European Individual Accreditation (EIA) from the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC). It assesses and verifies that a coach works consistently to the highest professional standards. It’s recognised globally as the ‘gold’ standard of coach accreditation in the marketplace.

If a coach who isn’t accredited has been working with clients for a length of time, they might argue that accreditation is not something likely to add any extra value to what they offer; however, I disagree. As someone who is accredited, I can explain exactly why it’s beneficial to attain such a level of validation, and why it’s so important in our increasingly risk-conscious world.

emccHaving the rigour of approval of a Quality Standard, which places high expectations and stipulations on the quality of coaching needed to gain accreditation, helps my clients to feel safe –safe in the knowledge that the standards I abide by protect them.

I am one of just 30 coaches accredited with the EMCC to Senior Practitioner level, a process that involved rigorous evaluation, and one that was difficult to attain. I was required to clearly detail the ethics I employ in my work, the extensive training and experience I’ve undergone and gathered, and evidence of reflective practice on sessions with clients. It certainly didn’t involve sending off for a certificate that would just look pretty on my wall; it was a thorough, lengthy and significant dissection of my coaching practice.

The importance of being EMCC accredited is becoming more apparent, given that the last two sales opportunities I’ve pursued were only open to accredited coaches.  Elsewhere, I was required to verify the claims I’d made in my proposal.  My EMCC certificate backed up everything I’d detailed, and I received 100% of the available marks for quality.

The 2013 Ridler report stated that accreditation is increasingly becoming a minimum standard required – for internal, not just external coaches. 54% of sponsor organisations look for their external coaches to be accredited, and 37% require this of their internal coaches. “The majority of sponsor organisations now expect their external coaches to be accredited by a professional coaching body. Accreditation is seen as a ‘quality badge’ – an acknowledgement that coaches are established and operating at a certain level.” If this is to be believed, I’m pleased that I can back up any claim I make with tangible evidence.

Interestingly, accreditation didn’t even get a mention in the two previous Ridler reports, so times are changing.

index4Ultimately, the client needs to feel happy that their coach is qualified and equipped to be able to help them. According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, “52 percent of coaches report that their coaching clients expect the coach they hire to have credentials”. An accreditation of such high quality as that from the EMCC demonstrates strong professional integrity and ethics, and a high knowledge and skills base.

Though some coaches may have managed perfectly well without accreditation, and may, as a result, see this benchmark unnecessary, the fact that coaching practitioners are increasingly asked to provide proof of the claims they make, and also the impetus for coaches to meet specific standards, is seeing the demand for accreditation grow.

It may seem a rigorous process, but that’s the whole point – it’s thorough and detailed. From a cost point of view, it’s a few hundred pounds well spent, particularly if sponsors offering tenders now insist such accreditation is requisite. How much coaching work might be lost to those who decide not to become accredited?

Anything that’s hard to achieve is more worthy as a result. If accreditation was dished out willy-nilly, it would devalue the significance of their validation.  That their accreditation is independently verified is another plus.

If you’re interested in hearing more about my executive coaching services, backed up by the security of an independent quality standard as a Senior Practitioner, contact me on 01302 220021, or via angela.sabin@executive-life-coaching.co.uk.

Leaders: Three tips for developing an effectual, entrepreneurial team…

I’ve made much about entrepreneurialism and effectual leadership recently, and the improved results that come from applying this perspective when problem-solving.

One of the benefits of visionary thinking, and making effectual rather than causal decisions, is the occurrence of innovation and creative ideas. Sticking with predictable, proven strategies and making plans that feature little risk do not equal radical new approaches. For these, you need to step outside of the norm and look at things from a different angle.

The same applies to effectual leadership. Traditional methods of management are based on specific direction, predictive outcomes and behaviours, and using approaches that are known to deliver great results. Effectual leadership, conversely, encourages risk-taking, and helps teams to see any failures as unique learning opportunities.

The entrepreneurial team therefore has the potential to exceed the results of any causally-led team and having an influence on the company’s direction.

So how, as leader, can you get your team to think like entrepreneurs? Here are my three tips, and why such an approach would be beneficial to teams and the companies they work for:

  1. Encourage rapid prototyping 

The speed that ideas can be tested and measured can be significant in effectual leadership. Too much red tape and unnecessary procedures at prototype stage can be stifling. ID-10011529Innovation is fuelled by creativity, and if little time is spent creating, this mind-set soon switches off. Keep projects under the radar until they’ve proved they have legs, and instil the message within your team that failure is not something to be feared – failure gives team members the chance to learn: what didn’t work, why it didn’t work, and how these issues can be overcome in the next idea or prototype.

The time saved from creating prototypes quickly gives teams, and the companies they work for, a competitive advantage, as they’re able to get to market more quickly with ideas that have proved themselves. And because ideas are very quickly shown to be successful or not successful, cost is also minimised, not just from a labour-saving point of view, but also because fewer tools or equipment need producing for manufacture. Waste is also kept to a minimum for the same reason.

  1. Encourage your team to connect

ID-10065021Whilst traditional leadership focuses on unity within the team, the effectual leader encourages team members to maximise outside or third party help. Therefore, supporting your team’s links to outside networks, or instilling the concept that a collaborative approach is better, will not only help to foster advantageous alliances between internal departments and inter-organisational departments, but also allow access to help individuals or the team may need outside of their own capabilities.

An entrepreneur doesn’t hesitate to join forces with a potential competitor if it helps him get nearer to his goals, and it’s a mutually beneficial collaboration. This same premise can be applied within a team, where the vision and results are paramount, not the route taken to get there. Opportunities arise from widening networks, which may also help to develop individuals and the team overall.

  1. Encourage through organisational leadership

The role of the effectual leader is to inspire and motivate, not dominate. Giving clear direction and helping your team to be responsible for their ideas and actions instils entrepreneurialism, and builds individual resilience. Invite others to propose new projects using effectuation, and allow sub-teams to self-manage their leadership based on the skills and knowledge needed for that stage of the process – help them to see that leadership is mobile in effectual decision-making.

The benefits of an effectual team…

An effectual team approaches problem-solving in a different manner, using logic in the face of unpredictability and risk, rather than cause and effect, and making use of the resources, environment and help that surrounds them. Whilst a causal approach has a specific goal and specific means to reach it, the effectual approach starts with the means and thinks of what can be achieved with them.

Using this concept, the likelihood that teams will realise new or innovative products or services is very high, much higher than a linear process that follows just one route from beginning to end, and which requires deviation from the brief/vision to be innovative. I’ve covered, in previous posts, the importance of innovation in today’s competitive markets; to be innovative, we must encourage the right mind-set, using effectual leadership.

If you’re a manager/leader and you’d like my help to develop your effectual leadership, or if your organisation could benefit from leadership coaching, contact me on 01302 220021, or by email at angela.sabin@executive-life-coaching.co.uk.

Thanks to graur codrin and sscreations at freedigitalphotos.net


How to develop effectual leadership qualities…

A change of approach doesn’t establish itself overnight, whatever it applies to. As with any new habit or practice, it takes time to develop and practise.


As I detailed last week, emulating the mind-set of an entrepreneur can help problem-solving when faced with high uncertainty and new limitations regarding any resources. Though not traditionally taught at business school, an effectual problem-solving approach can be more appropriate in certain circumstances.

To refresh, entrepreneurialism and effectual leadership are best employed in:

  • Longer-term projects
  • Projects that aren’t predictable
  • Projects that have greater influence on the company, and its direction or position in the marketplace

Whether you’re the leader of a team, or you’re responsible only for your own motivation, understanding the key elements of being effectual can help you look at problems, projects, and even your career, from another perspective.

Let’s look at three steps you could take to develop essential effectual traits:

Look at both sides of the coin

Take a current project or problem and form strategies from both causal and effectual perspectives. Can the outcome be predicted? Are you able to set goals extrapolated from these predictions?

Alternatively, look at things from the point of view of an entrepreneur. Initially, he’d evaluate his resources at hand. From assessing the project or problem, he’d then look to see if he’d got everything he needed to take the next step. He’d also invite feedback and look to form alliances with people who could help him achieve his aim.

Essentially, the more straightforward a project, the less it requires creative thinking, but that doesn’t mean to say run-of-the-mill problems wouldn’t benefit from an effectual attitude. Practise flexibility; don’t bemoan problems – look at them as an opportunity to develop and improve your skills.

Both causation and entrepreneurship have goals, but the latter involves more of a vision of what could be achieved, rather than an expected outcome.

Know your competitors

To work effectually, don’t assume all competition is a threat. Entrepreneurs will join forces with a potential competitor if it’s in the interest of both parties, and builds a network on this basis. They don’t shut competitors from their thoughts; instead, they learn from them, gain access to resources, reduce uncertainty and use them to help shape a project.

Consider your competition, e.g. colleagues, people holding similar roles at other organisations, etc. What do they do to develop themselves? How do they approach their work? What would you need to learn or do to emulate their successes?

Evaluate how you choose projects

Are you systematic or habitual? Do you choose projects because they’re predictable? Do you take risks? Contrary to general consensus, entrepreneurs don’t chase risk carelessly. They do employ risk much more than most, but invest only as much as they can afford to lose. The effectual decision maker focuses on ‘affordable loss’ and calculates the downside.

For example, which of these options appeal the most?

  • Means vs. goals
  • Affordable loss vs. expected return
  • Risk vs. leverage surprises
  • Partnership vs. competition

If you only choose the same type of project, you may not be challenging yourself. Neuro-science research has shown that the more courageous we choose to be, the more it instils itself in our psyche. New skills can only be learned with repeated practice.


Control is important, and an essential element of leadership, but we can’t control everything in life. If we shy away from what we can’t control, we never develop or we miss what could prove important opportunities. If we embrace and actively seek out the things we can’t control, we won’t fear them, and will hone our skills of adaption as a result.

If you’d like help to develop your entrepreneurial streak for the benefit of your career, or if you have a team that would benefit from leadership coaching and the implementation of effectual decision-making, contact me on 01302 220021, or email me at angela.sabin@executive-life-coaching.co.uk.

Entrepreneurs and effective leadership

alan sugarThere’s no doubt that having an entrepreneurial streak is a benefit, in today’s companies and organisations. As competition grows, and as fewer ‘trails’ are ‘blazed’, it’s often innovation, of an existing product or service, for example, that gives businesses the edge against their competitors.

But the entrepreneur in us isn’t restricted to product development or creative strategy, it can also have a direct influence on leadership. Typically, entrepreneurs are confident of their own abilities, and are proactive to boot, taking the initiative if they see opportunities before them. Having certainty of their actions allows entrepreneurs to follow ideas and plans that are high-risk. And it’s important to recognise that competitive business, limited resources and demanding markets produce high-risk situations, even to the most predictable, risk-averse companies. Therefore, being able to react quickly to challenges and threats, and making decisions without a wealth of facts at hand, are desirable traits.

Attributes of an effectual leader

Entrepreneurs seek feedback and effective coalition with others. ID-100107232They don’t attempt to predict the future – instead, they focus their energy on adapting to the current situation; quite different to management styles often taught in business schools, where decision-making is based on facts and predictability. Their leadership style is aspirational, based on action and example. They encourage their team to calculate affordable loss and to use the tools and resources around them. Projects are often underway more quickly, and any crises dealt with the same speed.

Effectual leadership is as adaptive and also looks for synergy. Like the entrepreneur, effectual leaders focus on:

  • Identity – who they are
  • Expertise – what they know
  • Networks – who they know

Surprises are not threatening to the effectual leader – conversely, they’re often exciting, due to the perception that they bring a raft of new opportunities. Their attitude to competition is not to batten down the hatches and keep everything top secret; instead, they collaborate and work in partnership with suppliers, customers and potential competitors.

Neither the entrepreneurial decision-maker, nor the effectual leader, makes foolhardy, reckless decisions. They only risk what they can afford to lose. Causation, a factor of traditional leadership is swapped for effectuation. The future is not the effectual leader’s whole focus as they recognise it can’t be controlled; what they have to hand and how things can be adapted warrants their attention instead.

Driving the effectual leader is a vision of success. Like the entrepreneur, they have highly-developed communication skills and an advanced sense of judgement. Take such as Henry Ford – he envisaged a future where everyone could afford to drive a car, not just the wealthy or famous. His proposals were criticised yet he ploughed on with his plans. People were, at first, nervous and reluctant to buy into his vision…..but we all know of the outcome.

It’s not ‘pie in the sky’ thinking…

Effectual leaders encourage the ‘de-risking’ of ideas and plans, just as entrepreneurs would gauge any innovation with a SWOT assessment. By sharing their visions and encouraging collaboration, they motivate those working with them. They recognise their team’s individual qualities and work at matching skills and ideas, towards a common goal. They’re good at garnering support, just as entrepreneurs look to do at the outset of new ventures, and are able to clearly enunciate their vision or innovation, at a time when it’s at its least tangible. Rather than enforcing exclusive control, they look at team members more as equal colleagues in their network.

When to employ effectual leadership

Traditional leadership places the leader as the one with the control, where team members fall in line behind them. This style is common for short-term goals, where predictability features more heavily, and problems are more immediate. In contrast, the entrepreneurial leader looks to starting projects that could continue long after they’re gone, that may have more influence on the company and its future direction.

It’s important to remember that the same person can employ either traditional leadership or effectual leadership. Much depends on the circumstances – such as the means available and whether the goal is inherently apparent, or whether it will develop/refigure over time. An effective leader looks at which approach would the best to take in that situation.

wp311bd7ce_05_06Next week, I’ll talk about how you can develop your effectual leadership. In the meantime, if you’d like my help with this, or you’ve another issue that executive coaching could help you move past, contact me on 01302 220021, or via angela.sabin@exective-life-coaching.co.uk.

Public speaking: is it something of a delight, or an aspect you dread?

ID-100274985It’s a common misconception that the best public speakers are born that way, that it’s a natural trait few of us are lucky enough to enjoy.

Public speaking isn’t something only politicians or the clergy carry out in their working week – it’s a common element in most careers nowadays. Even if you’re giving a quick pitch at a networking event, you’re speaking publicly – or when addressing your team in a group meeting. Unfortunately, many people fear public speaking in any form; the thought of everyone’s eyes on them can see people stutter, forget their point, or avoid the exercise altogether.

Given that today’s brands and personalities are expected to be media-savvy public faces, gaining the necessary skills and confidence to speak publicly is an investment in your career. Here are my top tips:

Be prepared

The more preparation you do beforehand, the more confident you’ll feel when you come to speak. Jot down the main points, outlining what you want/need to say, so that you’ve got a prompt with you, and also so that you stick to the necessary topic(s) without going off at a tangent.

Reading from a script can sound extremely stilted, so it’s important to only use your prompts as exactly that: reminders of the main issues and vital information.

Know your crowd

Understanding who you’re talking to is key. Though you’ll have an agenda of points to cover, how best can you relay the information that resonates with the audience you’ll be in front of? For instance, if giving a speech to school children, make it fun. Know whose ear you’re bending, why they should listen to you, and what would motivate them to find out more/act on your words. What are their needs?

It’s a big deal for you

Before this makes you bristle further, what I mean by this is that your speech is only the be all and end all to you, as the speaker. Whilst not detracting from the great points you’re undoubtedly going to make, it’s important to remember that your speech is not at the forefront of everyone else’s mind. Your dialogue will be competing with your audience’s thoughts about what they’re having for tea, their relationships, that deadline they’re up against….and a million and one other things.

Putting your speech into this kind of perspective should help remove the enormity of the task. Concentrate on your message, not on your delivery.

Failure isn’t crippling

Perfection is overrated. If you find yourself nervous, stumped for words, or you’ve wandered from your subject, be open with your audience. It will help lighten the mood and make you seem more human. Speaking from the heart is endearing; make a joke of things, but don’t feel that you’ve got to be a comedian. People will want you to do well; they won’t assume you’re a word-perfect world-class speaker. Help them to focus on what you’re saying rather than how you’re saying it.

Imagine how you’ll feel at the end of your speech if your audience is in rapture; envisage success and think positively – it will show.

Engage your audience

No one, least of all you, as speaker, wants to hear a droning monologue. Aim to interact with your audience, or engage with them on some level. Remember that less is more: unless you have LOTS to say on a subject (and if that’s the case, a series of speeches may be better), it’s better to stick to the main points and keep finer details for hand-outs or questions at the end. Don’t blind everyone with science; just impart what they need to know, no more. Ask questions; show interest in them, if you want them to take an interest in you.

Relax and breathe

Though it’s easy for me to say ‘relax’, using breathing exercises will help to calm your nerves. Focus only on your breath, in and out, in and out. Take deep, slow breaths and feel your anxiety escaping from your fingertips each time you breathe out. Consider your body language when speaking: stand up straight and project your voice. Both are great ways to show confidence.

Practice makes perfect

Talk to your bathroom mirror or the dog, or even film yourself before the day of the speech. Look at your body language and listen to the tone of your voice – can it be improved? What would you think of the talk if you were someone in the audience?

The more speaking you do, the easier it will get. Soon, it will become second nature.

Read my tips on confidence, and how to anchor inner strength so that you can conjure it up whenever necessary.

If you’d like details of Angela’s executive coaching services, contact her on 01302 220021, or email her via angela.sabin@executive-coaching.co.uk.

Thanks to num_skyman at freedigitalphotos.net for use of the image


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