You’ve reached your tipping point – top 5 signs

An athlete’s optimum level of performance involves them having the right balance of the right things in place. In sport ‘perfect’ involves:

  • passion for the activity – enough to motivate you to turn up each day
  • smart scheduling – for maximum exertion plus maximum recovery
  • great nutrition – to give body and mind the highest quality energy to call on
  • quality sleep – good yin, good yang
  • being totally present – fully aware of the task and how you’re going to deliver when the time comes
  • commitment to improvement – learning equally through successes and challenges
  • an excellent support team – coaches, sparring partners, nutritionists and sports therapists

There’s no doubt a person can be talented at more than one thing, but choosing to commit to more because of what other people want, keeping people onside or being seen to be super-capable – these are not good enough long term motivators. And you will speedily reach your tipping point.

A person’s working life has extraordinary parallels to the life of an athlete, so you’ll know you’re at your professional tipping if you notice these 5 main factors:

  • Your motivation has reduced– you’re imgining being somewhere else and you’re no longer stretched by the role
  • Decisions are less clear – when you’re involved in an activity that doesn’t sit inside your sphere of being ‘purposeful’ it’s harder to intuit the next right move
  • You’re getting panicky – the list of ‘to do’s only ever gets longer. You’re getting 8 things ticked off it each day, but 12 things are going on. You’re living with a growing sense of ‘I’m only reacting – there’s nothing strategically though out going on’
  • Relationships are stretched – at work and at home ‘the unspoken’ is getting louder. You haven’t the time to work stuff out so the tension grows as collaborative conversations are replaced with direct requests and instructions.
  • Core value are being compromised – many top execs know that they can high perform only when the fundamentals are in place. Quality sleep, good nutrition, regular exercise, supportive relationships being maintained, clear vision of the benefits of investing their professional time. When you begin to operate in the absence of these things on a regular basis stress and anxiety will increase

The tipping point is a real thing. If these 5 points are present for you then quality conversations focussing on change are required. Speak to your director, HR head, coach, or mentor. Define what ‘best working practice’ for you looks like and take some practical steps to ensure your core values are re-instated and any excesses in what you’ve said ‘yes’ to are edited back to an absolute minimum.

Leadership development – can I do it myself

Numerous times in my 12 years of coaching and leadership development I've been asked by clients whether I think they'd have got to the conclusion they reach by themselves. I almost alway say 'yes'. When an answer needs to be found and layers of assumptions need to be let go to find it, that process will inevitably happen. Conversations will set you thinking, choices will present themselves, learning opportunities will occur, people will leave your team, others will join and gradually the vision you were holding will get closer and closer.

So what's the point in investing time and money with an executive coach if you're going to get there anyway? The answer is clarity and speed! Everyone learns a methodology of thinking and of working that comes to them with the education they've had and the experiences they've accumulated. Successful corporate leaders recognise that the process of acquiring more knowledge and refining what they know is ongoing (sometimes on a daily basis because change can happen so fast). A committment to lifelong learning inevitably sets the super-achievers apart from the pack.

Along with the specific wisdom you acquire you also collect specific assumptions and habits. They may have served you well last year or in your previous role, however today those tools might be the exact thing that's going to slow you down on your journey to achieving the big goal.

I had the priviledge very recently of talking with on of the UKs top masters squash players. He has national and international events coming up over the next 6 months and was talking about his training program. It included daily gym work for stamina, court work for accuracy, and sparring with other equally-levelled opponents for reactions and maintaining match fitness.

'Who's your coach?' I asked. 'I don't have one right now' he replied. (What?!!). We then had the discussion about all the training he was investing in right now and how it was great for sustaining fitness and perhaps even slightly improving his game over the next 4 months. However, alone he'd quickly reach a plateau and cease to be stretched by his sparring partners. When the World Masters arrive he'd absolutely want to bring his 'A' game and he'd be more likely to do that by working now with a coach. A trained, experienced eye to observe his game from the outside, making small (or perhaps significant) changes and partnering him in defining and achieving some stretch goals delivering the best competitive advantage when the tournament season comes round.

As much as this makes sense in sport, it makes the same sense in business. Directors, CEOs and team leaders can fast-track their growth and their 'business muscle' by partnering with a great executive coach. This coach isn't going to run your business day-to-day, nor will they put in the hours that are required to reach your ulimate vision. What they will do is to ask you some excellent questions, challenge some subtle assumptions, push you to stretch your comfort zone. 

The knock-on effect of working with an experienced executive coach is that your clarity will grow, you'll have key conversations more suscinctly and confidently, you'll know who to draw closer to you and who to distance yourself from and instead of achieving your goals in a year or two's time, you'll notice them taking form in just a few short months. Leadership development is an ongoing investment in keeping key directors clear, motivated and action-orientated. If one of those leaders is you, the ultimate result is that your productivity soars and you achieve twice the success in half the time.

Success and simplicity – in 60 minutes a month

Coaching for executives is the best way, bar none, that a company can expand and encourage a leader to be more, do more, contribute more. It positively impacts the individual leader, the team she or he manages and the end user of the companie’s product or service. The corporate knock on effect is repeat business and ongoing recommendations. What’s not to love?

Most CEOs and Human Resource Directors, when considering coaching for their executives and leaders ask these top questions:

  • Q: How do I choose which executives to coach – we can’t fund all of them.
  • A: Pick the most high performing and intuitive executives first. Someone that already has momentum is going to influence change quickly and effectively – and that’s inspiring and encouraging to everyone else. Don’t mistake this for the most dynamic; high performing could equally mean expert in their area with a less outspoken approach.
  • Q: How do I measure return on investment
  • A: You look at a person’s conversation and how clear it is; a leaders openness to new and extrovert ideas; their motivation to complete a project; their ability to inspire their team; their respect and inclusion of others; their commitment to expanding themselves – intellectually, emotionally, consciously. If a leader is ticking all these boxes, business can go only one way …
  • Q: What does it cost
  • A: It costs 30 minutes of an director or senior manager’s time twice per month. Financially that’s going to cost less than £300 per month per leader. That’s less than a travel allowance!!! For a clear, expanding, motivating, practical and talented executive to then make observations about what’s going well in the company and spot right now where there are opportunities for growth or greater impact, you simply can’t buy a more effective business asset than that.

As I’ve said over and over again (so if this is your first time of hearing you’re lucky!) I don’t coach clients with issues; my clients are successful professionals who know that with the right conversation, with a safe, non-judgemental place to voice what they’re thinking, and with a coach who has the ability to tactically ask them to stretch, then they’re going to access more ideas, more courage and more results in a considerably shorter time span.

Clients who have come to me with a goal of ‘moving from regional to national within a year’ continue to work with me 3 years on because they got to national in 6 months and international within 12 months. They’ve experienced first hand that clear thinking, honest communication and courage to step up blasts ordinary performance out of the water.

Extraordinary results are not the exclusive domain of the superstar, high-profile business people you see on tv shows or read about in the newspapers. There are millions of change makers, innovators and customer-centred pioneers out there confidently and quietly changing the world. They’re making companies better places for the people that work there. They’re challenging the status quo and putting passion before profits (which ultimately creates success in both). They’re doing what they can to serve their clients authentically and make their piece of the world more relevant, more inclusive, more simple.

Choosing to work with a conscious executive coach will change your personal and professional life forever. Are you ready?

An executive coach in London: mine your diamonds

There’s something very privileged about the job of an executive coach – especially an executive coach in London. Those coaches that are sought after by executive from around the world all have one thing in common … word’s got round that they get results. When the time comes a leader doesn’t care if an executive coach went to the best coaching school, is accountable to a professional federation, or if they themselves earned multiple-7-figures in banking, media or science before changing careers.

A leader knows this: ‘you got results for my friend/colleague/associate – and I’d like you to do the same for me please’.  Simple. It’s an executive coach’s skill-set that counts. Can that coach make a speedy difference in your personal and professional life, with your mindset, your communication skills, your clarity about what you want in your future, your overall physical, mental and emotional success? Yes? So, hire them … now.

I helped a friend get her CV up to date recently – it was impressive. My only comment was ‘take your school results off your resume; experience has superseded the need for them’. It’s the same with an experienced executive coach – 15 year and 1000s of clients down the line, they have an intuition, a knowing and a set of unique tools that are so deeply entrenched in them getting results with their talented leaders in diverse industries they probably can’t even tell you what some of those tools are … they just ‘be’ coaching all day every day.

I see this in my leadership clients sometimes too. They can be so busy proving to others that they’re worthy – reading the latest leadership books, putting their teams/organisations up for awards, getting the next letters after their names (MA, PHD, MBA) – that they’ve missed the uncut diamonds just waiting to be mined inside of themselves. This is no touchy-feely kind of treasure but a profound, extraordinary sense of what a leader (CEO, MD, board member, senior director – whoever) can contribute to this time and space that no one else on the planet can.

When you actively mine those diamonds, no approval or qualifications will have prepared you for what the future can look like. You’ll live on purpose. You’ll progress though life living out of that purpose, speaking from that place, contributing from it and inspiring others. You’ll respect that although your paths are crossing with tens or hundreds of others at this very moment, their destiny isn’t yours and and some point they’ll likely uncover their own diamonds and move on into their own inspired space.

Why am I highlighting London as an executive coaching hub amongst every other international city? Mainly I suppose because that’s where I personally have had the honour of working with the most diverse range of clients I could imagine: young, old, men, women, limited (until I worked with them!), empowered, upscalers, downsizers, solopreneurs, leaders of startups and generations-old corporations.  Each extraordinary. Every one of them with diamonds now well-and-truly mined, designed, polished and sparkling with light.

Business leadership – getting easier?

It’s a question I’ve been pondering for the past few years – is business leadership getting easier? I read articles and work in businesses that say change is occurring faster and markets are ever more complex, my experience however just doesn’t bear that out (and I appreciate it may be because I’m privileged to work with the most focussed and motivated leaders).

Last week I was working with a long-standing client whose progress within her company has been off-the-chart over the past 12 months. The expectations she set herself 18 months ago were a stretch for her to imagine (I had a hunch she could raise them even further but even successful business leaders can’t see from the outset how breathtakingly talented and inspiring they are).

We worked on thoughts and she held clear intentions. For 3 months we refined her intuitive thinking habits and everywhere possible she held intentions for the outcome of meetings, the agreement of teams and the impromptu opportunities that would spotlight her experience and contribution to the national company decision makers. Moment by moment she was prepared.

We worked on thoughts and she held clear intentions. Within 6 months the opportunity to shift from regional to national occurred. This had been her expectation and one of the reasons she’d committed to working with me as her executive coach. With a set of new processes, communication tools and thought habits she was actually more than equipped than she’d expected for the national position – it wasn’t so much of a stretch.

We worked on thoughts and she held clear intentions. It didn’t take long for her to get up to speed with the national picture, the leadership team and a plan for where the brands could be expanded and refined to make a meaningful difference for the company.

Then … we worked on thoughts and she held clear intentions. Unexpectedly and in within 6 more months an international position was offered to my cleint. This was the expectation I’d been holding for her (quietly) – I could see she had a healthy relationships with risk, I could  hear how well connected she was, I could feel how passionately she wanted to contribute and how committed she was to put the hours in for a fast-tracking career push (I suspect she’s no where near finished either).

The speed of change was somewhat to do with her thoughts and her intentions and perfecting something simple; the real breakthrough however, came when her habit of conscious thinking and intending turned into genuine belief. When she saw time after time that refined thinking and clear intention holding got results (underpinned by a philosophy of ‘more for all, no exceptions’), she honed that tool until she became unconsciously competent with it. Once that occurred she was destined to rise and rise.

So to the original question, ‘is business leadership getting easier?’, my conclusion is ‘yes, if you’re willing upskill body, head and heart together’. When business leadership gets committed to perpetual change and equips themselves with advanced tools that connect them with ‘more for all’, they can’t help but make business simpler.  Simplicity, as we see again and again (Apple, Innocent, Blinkbox), is the hallmark of all successful brands, products and services.

Successful leadership – genuinely be yourself

‘What does it take to be successful in top leadership?’, I’m asked by a client about to step up to an MD-on-the-board role. And I found my usual coach approach of ’empower the client to discover’ went right out the window. ‘If you really want to lead with style’, I said, ‘then genuinely be yourself’.

 

My experience has often been that by the time you, as a senior executive, are invited to be part of the elite leadership team that make up the board of a large corporate, it’s your character, experience and intuitive creativity that are really being called on.

You’ve done the journeying; the one that starts in the first years learning the formulas for acceptance which allow you to integrate into the company structure. As a team member you had to learn how to get on with colleagues, how to keep time, meet deadlines, produce results and communicate clearly, respectfully and using the language of the organisation.

Then you moved up to management; you learned the skills that allowed you to communicate clear goals, to motivate, to listen well, to spot your team member’s strengths and to influence their thinking as well as that of peers, directors and clients. You met deadlines and achieved results.

As a director, you felt the pressure and responded. You developed to know how to champion your business sector within the overall company vision. You inspired those around you to think more creatively, you knew which were the quick wins and which opportunities were best played out over a longer, more strategic time period. You worked out that to consciously invest in your own development at this point meant you could work less (yet smarter) and earn more. You hired teams knowledgeably and inspired with wisdom.

So now you’ve done your time, you’re ready for board level and your role from here is to oversee the business of a whole country or the negotiating of billion-pound contracts.

You’re part of a leadership team that together steers a healthy course of growth for products, services, customers and employees alike. What’s different from here is that there’s less instead of more structure because the market isn’t defined by past results it’s created by honoring the future. It’s time to downplay some of the rigidity that got you there and up-play some of the true you.

Successful leaders, over time, learn how to trust their  intellect, their emotional intelligence and their intuition. The investment of time and personal & professional development has been focussed for the boardroom for a decade or more. From here your ability to create and to influence from a place of integrity and uniquely you-ness is massively leveraged. Competitors, customers and the rest of the company are watching and learning from your style. You may not know it yet, but in your part of the corporate world … you’re already a super-star!

Your Ceiling of Success

You know how sometimes it takes an intensity of the same thing to occur multiple times before the penny drops? Like 5 super-valuable executives leave the company within a 3 month period before a CEO recognises that they’ve all been reporting to the same undeveloped senior director. Or targets go unmet over 6 terms in a sales department although the training’s great, before the issue is pinpointed that the client relationship management software has glitches and requires an investment and update.

Recently I had an influx of  senior executives, from a range of companies and backgrounds but who had all excelled in their roles early in their careers. It took me a while to recognise the pattern –   each of them was in his or her early 40s; they were directing their business sectors, if not MDing the entire company; they were effective in their role and respected within the company; each was happy personally, in a committed partnership with children; and crucially … each had come to a point where their apparent personal & professional success was no longer fully satisfying.

There’s a program that I work on with senior executives called The 7 Steps to Personal & Professional Freedom (you can get the simple version in my book of the same title – available on Amazon.co.uk), and the first step is always Clear & Courageous Thinking. It’s what we do, consciously or otherwise, when we imagine the outcome we want for our lives. Many people picture a version of what they’ve seen their parents achieve (so doctor’s children become doctors, teacher’s children go into teaching)  and expand on it a little. Others have dreams as children with no model present in their family or social groups (the daughter of a miner becomes a entrepreneur, or the son of a plumber becomes a lawyer).

Wherever I see high achievement in executives in their late 30s and early 40s, there’s been a clear thinking process since childhood, which has often involved bigger-than-average risk and action taking to get there – that’s the courageous part –  (so they might have moved country with small children whilst in their 30s in order to say ‘yes’ to the next corporate step up; or they might have taken a temporary salary cut at a key point in their career in order to shift from an creative path to a commercial path because it looked as though there might be more longevity and opportunity there in the long run).

Here’s the challenge though – those who have held a clear and courageous vision since childhood often achieve the outcome within 10-15 years of their post-university career. And that doesn’t fit with the historic story of ‘work until your 60, then retire rich and happy’. They’re already rich and happy and they’re only 42 years old! These executive are managing a ceiling of success because they had no clue to imaging bigger, brighter or more purposeful.

Breaking through the ceiling is where a successful director will ask ‘so what does ‘more’ look like?’, or ‘how do I add meaning to my ambition?’, or ‘what if I took all my transferable skills and knowledge and started again from ground up?’. It’s a beautiful piece of new, clear and courageous thinking; the next step of expansion. And, similar to when they were children, the adventure’s just beginning and the sky’s no limit!

A CEO’s legacy

Leaders define success in any number of ways – increasing turnover, launching innovative products, hiring world-class teams, going global, changing lives.

Some CEOs are credentialed and experienced to the hilt; others are risk takers and their own best PR machine. Some step in to lead a share-held company; others start from the ground up turning millions into billions in a single decade. Whatever their style and character, every CEO holds the intention that they leave a company and its people – employees and clients – healthier, happier and richer for them having been involved.

How do you train for leadership though? What are the lessons? Can anyone make it to the top of a medium or large company? Is it about qualifications, contacts, networking, character, good-fortune, divine-interventions? Who knows … in reality a heady mix of all of it probably.

The skills of a good CEO include:

  • awareness – what attracts a customer to their brand and how do we provide more of that
  • advanced people skills – spotting talent and influencing and motivating with sincerity
  • a vision for the future of the organisation – its products & services, its people and its customers & clients

Exceptional skills would be:

  • servant leadership – a proactive empathy with each person involved in the business cycle and an full-time investment in empowering their greater expression personally & professionally
  • active life-long learning – where personal development is ongoing and equally sought out in times of challenge and of success
  • collaborative mindset – where it’s not about ‘more for us’ it’s about ‘more for all’ – where knowledge, resources and route-to-market are shared in order that financial and environmental benefits further reward the customer  as well as the companies’ involved

And those leaders who move forward the fastest and surest:

  • have an exceptional leadership team supporting the shared company vision
  • actively expand their ceiling of understanding – intellectually (where are the next technical and people innovations coming from), inspirationally (how do I manage this newest team dynamic to continue to sustain high performance in my directors), intuitively (how do we best respond to the rapidly changing market place, purchasing styles and global clientelle) – and put in place stimulus that keep them thinking at the edge of their comfort zones (mentors, executive coaches, what-if hubs, mastermind groups)
  • cultivate a culture of creativity, diversity, authenticity and integrity – which cascades from the CEO through the leadership team to the mangers, teams, collaborating companies and out to a market which responds in kind by repeatedly investing in the products and services of that brand.

More for all and less to none – that’s an overall winning CEO legacy!

Leadership Success: clarity, passion, teamwork

The great thing about coaching leadership success is that it naturally has a positive ripple effect throughout the rest of the company. Directors get clear, they speak with expectation and inspiration to their managers and in turn those managers create a culture of unlimited possibilities within their teams –  a win for productivity, for the organisation and for its customers.

So what does it take for a business leader to motivate a team to operate at peak potential? Clarity, enthusiasm and motivation all contribute – that takes body, mind and heart know-how. The ‘x-factor’ for limitless results is always the same …  add soul to the equation. Here’s some of what I know about that:

Energy organises around what is most articulate in your system. When your predominant resonance is one of expectation, you attract excitement, when it’s one of progress you attract action, one of confusion you attract mixed messages, one of conflict you attract aggression, one of expansion you attract opportunities.

It’s important to equip yourself with a colourful vocabulary around the subject you’re passionate about. Practice speaking out how great it’s going to be to achieve that promotion, build that team, launch that new product line, expand into that region or sell that millionth unit.  Everything is achieved with less effort when your predominant vibration is one of already having achieved the result you’re dreaming of.

As a leader:

  • Everything you do influences others: your words, your attitude, your humour, your discipline.
  • Be clear (and if you’re not, get a coach and get clear) – because directors and managers will model your message. There’s got to be a sense that a team know how their contribution fits into the big picture, and how that’s valued overall by the organisation. Clarity will cut through timelines like nothing else in business.
  • Get to know the human capital available to you.  You may have  an Einstein on your payroll; she may know how to deliver a process or a product that’s unlike anything anyone’s see before. If that’s the case you really want to have access to that genius.

Coaching leadership success is all about placing the success of a leader’s results squarely in the realms of their own responsibility. The more you invest in yourself the more limitless the possibilities you create for yourself and for those around you – personally and professionally!

Coaching conscious leaders

It takes an aware and bold leader to continue to step into areas of discomfort as they stretch themselves in the name of personal & professional development. They know already the link between self development and higher results – and they make conscious decisions to commit the time and effort to the ongoing refinement of thoughts, words, actions, skills.

Most leaders I’ve worked with are:

  • Clear thinkers – the conversations they’re having in the moment have a ‘how is this contributing to the biggest future’ slant on them
  • Resilient – they don’t take knock-backs personally. They learn, adjust, get up and approach again from a different angle
  • Risk takers – the next steps are calculated and when the key people are in the position they’re going

Beyond this awareness are servant leaders who in addition:

  • Engage their heart – they consider the individuals, they go beyond ‘biggest future’ to ‘legacy’
  • Emit authenticity – they’re healthy, disciplined, inspired and conscious that ‘all of it’ (people, attitude, ethos, standards, respect …) contributes to ultimate success and results
  • Live accountably – there’s no blaming; just the highest personal standards of clarity, impeccable speech & motivation and they ‘be the change they want to see’

In a recent conversation I heard this: ‘most of the adults I work with use the same emotional  strategies they were using in their teens’. Thankfully that’s not my own experience with my clients, but I get what he meant in saying that.

If you take 100% responsibility for evolving into the sort of person who can be, do, have and achieve the things you dream about, you can experience the freedom that goes with it; because then everything’s something you can do something about.

Coaching conscious leadership is tough head, heart & soul work. Persistence in strengthening those skill-sets though brings with it unparalleled results, extraordinary rewards and individuals who literally become beacons in their lifetime.