Thursday, 10 December 2015

What Difference does Age make to our Impact at Work?

The privilege of working with my clients is diversity. Different industries, different countries, different roles, different cultures, different products or services and different leadership styles.

In addition, I work with professional men and women who are in their first role out of university, and at the same time I work with those enjoying 40+ years at work.

So what? As 2015 draws to a close; it strikes me that my primary focus this year has been research – and I am absorbed once more by fascinating data that has been published exploring the notion of strengths and gaps of different generations at work. To remind ourselves, Baby Boomers were born before 1963, Generation X was born between 1963 and 1980 and Millennials were born between 1980 and 1995. Recently I came across a study of 1200 workers which delineated the pros and cons of different generations, and their findings are fascinating.

Baby Boomers were seen as being productive and hardworking but also seen as less adaptable and less collaborative. Generation X was seen as having more managerial skills and good at problem solving. However, they were also seen as less cost effective and as having less ‘Executive Presence’. Millennials were viewed as being enthusiastic and technically savvy, but also viewed as being lazy, unproductive and self-absorbed.

So, what’s my point?

Well, as a Generation X-er myself, I paused at the notion of being identified in a category that has less ‘Executive Presence’. The research suggests that we have more than Millennials, but not as much as Baby Boomers.

Even so, what does this all mean? My view is that whatever our age, the reality is that we need to convey confidence, authority, credibility, humility and poise at work. We need to command, but not demand attention. We need to maximise our strengths and continue to work on our gaps. We need to inspire and engage those around us and be willing to evolve and grow. Our ability to thrive and succeed at work is built on the assumption that we are technically competent. However, that alone won’t guarantee success. We need to convey authority and wisdom (harder to do when we are young), as well as humility and a willingness to continue to grow and develop (harder to do when we are older). We have to learn skills of behavioural flexibility that simply weren’t needed in the past. Positional power won’t cut it; personal power does. And that’s at any age. Remember, Executive Presence isn’t about style over substance. It’s about exquisite influence.

So, as the festive season is here, I invite you all – irrespective of the generation to which you belong – to celebrate the strengths of your age, and equally I invite you all to consider how you, no matter your age, your role, your industry, your company or your position can enhance your Executive Presence still further in 2016.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Listening Loudly

Leadership can all too easily be viewed in terms of ‘tell’. My focus this month with leaders has been around listening. Basically, we suck at it!

D.A. Benton’s book ‘When Lions Don’t Need To Roar’ suggests that leaders hear less than 30% of what is said. Let’s just stop and think about that for a moment. We hear less than one in every three words spoken. How can we be surprised when, as a muscle group, this skill set has been under assault like never before? We are always plugged in, online, connected, super available, super responsive, always on, always busy, always doing stuff, oh and by the way – juggling all of the eye-watering information with which our senses are being assaulted. And yet, we are also the most disengaged workforce at the same time. No-one’s listening and no-one cares! Well, before we become too gloomy, the best leaders with the most engaging presence listen louder. What do I mean by that? Quite simply literature categorizes how we listen in a wide variety of different ways. It can be described as combative, attentive and reflective or deep and light listening or fake and real etc. etc. You get the idea.

I talk about four levels with my clients:
  1. Cosmetic listening means that we're not at all – we're in our own world, thinking about something else, someone else and some other reason to keep on breathing…….(rather than listening to you).
  2. Conversational listening means that we're waiting to get into the conversation (if only you’d stop talking). When we can wait no longer, we just start talking over you.
  3. Content level listening means that we’re starting to hear both content and context of what’s being said. Oh good – we're actually listening.
  4. Exquisite level listening means that we're hearing not just what you said, but also what you didn’t say – in other words, what you really mean.
In terms of best practice listening, much like many things in leadership, the theory is not intellectually challenging, it’s the practical application of it that is the tough part. So, my invitation to you reading this is to pin back your ears, wind down the distractions and really listen.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Challenge of Leading Change

During the month of September I have been spending time with leaders who have a strategy to transform their business. The commercial rationale makes sense, the timing is right and the numbers stack up. And yet – why is it that most efforts at driving change fail to deliver the expected business outcomes? Why is it so difficult to do? Peter Drucker, one of the most extensively published management gurus ever, once said “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, and herein lies the challenge for leaders everywhere. You can have the best business case in the world, the right moment in the market, the financial resources to make it happen – and still it fails because, as always, leadership is a relationship business. The ability to demonstrate leadership in times of change and uncertainty remains an acute one. So, what exactly do they have to do (other than say that they want to change the culture)?

Here are some practical verbal strategies with which to hone our ‘Executive Presence’ as a leader:
  1. Ask searching, simple questions. For example, we are hardwired as humans to associate change with loss. Loss of time, loss of money, loss of status, loss of energy, loss of happiness, loss of security etc. What exactly do we think we will lose? What might be possible if we embraced the change? What support do we need? How do others help us get there? How can we focus on what’s possible (rather than what’s not)? Often these – and other such questions – need repetition - as part of the power in asking them is to allow others to process their thoughts aloud. Be patient and persist.
  2. Get our stories straight. We may have seen the email, glanced at the Chairman's report or even read the pitch distributed to the whole company, but that doesn’t win hearts and minds around the business case for change. Simple, effective, conversational stories that make the point crisply, engage others easily and motivate us to remember and repeat those stories are what it’s all about. Stories are the fuel of motivation. The right kind encourage our people to engage and connect with the journey; the wrong ones….well, they do the exact opposite.
  3. Find small wins and celebrate. Making time to find and communicate ‘wins’, no matter how small, are always worth the effort. In the absence of information it is all too easy to either make it up, or assume we’ve not been told. Neither is desirable when trying to create a positive energy around momentum.
  4. Remember SUMO (Shut Up; Move On). Not everything will work in an environment of change; so once the point has been acknowledged then shut up and move on. Don’t keep going back to it and talking for months or even years afterwards about what didn’t work. We get it; let’s learn from it and then focus on the future. Avoid rambling incessantly on about the past.
  5. Retain a sense of humour. It’s a moment of connection that is unique to humans. Every once in a while that’s a good thing. When we laugh, we love.
Sarah's new book ‘Executive Presence – Demonstrating Leadership in Times of Change and Uncertainty’ is out now.  Find this on

Thursday, 10 September 2015

What Leaders can learn from Tennis

At the time of writing this newsletter, the fourth and final tennis Grand Slam of the year is on – the US Open. Whilst watching the brilliance, agility, pace, flexibility and commitment of the world’s best tennis players, I am struck by how this amazing game represents a brilliant metaphor for effective conversation in business. First of all, you can’t play tennis on your own. No matter how good you are, you need others to play with you. Secondly, there’s a very strong sense of ‘taking it in turns’ when it comes to serving, hitting the ball and waiting for the return. In a good conversation, you talk for a bit, then I talk for a bit. Thirdly, adaptability is key. Neither party always knows where the ball is going to land, but our role is to get it back when faced with a difficult or challenging return. Some rallies are long; others are very short. There’s pace, variety, agility and skill in every point. Each player focuses on the other person, their strategy, where the ball is heading, what their game plan might be and so on.

In my last newsletter I introduced the concept of ‘Reading the Room’. In other words, being able to gauge what is happening, the mood and the impact of our communication on others and make the right adjustments to create impact. The premise of this concept is easy; the consistent and continual application of it is a lot more difficult. I have spent time recently with folks who don’t even know that they don’t do this well. One of the most challenging behaviours to experience is the ‘it’s all about’. Every word, every conversation, every topic becomes an opportunity to talk about themselves. It’s enough to take the enamel off your teeth! Leaders who have ‘Executive Presence’ can walk in to any situation, gauge the mood, flex, adapt and ‘own’ the room naturally, easily and brilliantly. Others need to watch and learn.

But isn’t tennis also about winning? And beating the other person? Yes. But in multiple encounters everyone is beaten by others eventually, and it’s about respecting your opponent and paying very close attention to them and the development of their game. It’s also about building and practising your strengths, and continuing to work on those areas of your game that are less impactful. It’s the same with developing ‘presence’.  Leaders need to do all of this if they are to have powerful, effective, engaging conversations with their team, colleagues, customers and senior stakeholders. So, go and practise ‘Reading the Room’ today whilst I head out to work on my serve…….

Sarah has also written a new book ‘Executive Presence – Demonstrating Leadership in Times of Change and Uncertainty’.  Find this on

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Reading the Room

In the course of my business I have recently, personally experienced two suppliers who very much embody ‘’ philosophy. For those of you wondering what on earth that means, it stands for ‘it’s all about me dot com’. It’s a phrase that embodies others who, in their interactions, are really only concerned about their own agenda, their own priorities, their own needs – with a woeful lack of focus or flexibility regarding the agenda of others. What was so fascinating was that they had no idea of the impact of their communication. So how good are you at reading the room? I only ask because over the course of the past month, I have been working with clients who struggle in this area. 

Let’s start with some definitions. ‘Reading the Room’ means being able to gauge the impact of your communication on your audience and make adjustments accordingly. It’s all about emotional intelligence in terms of having your radar ‘on’, and then behavioural flexibility to adjust your communication style accordingly. Leaders who have ‘Executive Presence’ are able to do this well. The place to start is by analysing how others speak and we can do this in a couple of different ways. Firstly we can pay attention to style (pace, language, intonation, key words, thought vs. feelings, says a lot vs. says a little etc.). In terms of rapport, if we don’t get this right, building an environment of trust – and the basis of a mutually beneficial relationship - is tough. A fantastic resource that I have been using to underpin my coaching with clients in this area is the book ‘Reading the Room’ by David Kantor. Assuming we’ve done this first piece of analysis correctly (no mean feat), Kantor advises that we pay attention to the content of the speech of others, using three different frames of reference. I’ll start in this blog with the first, which Kantor suggests is to listen for the type of action being spoken by each person. Is the talk of others about being a mover (making suggestions/showing initiative), opposer (disagreeing/proposing a different direction), follower (agreeing with the suggestion of others), or bystander (not committing and rather commentating or observing on what is occurring)?

Who cares? Well, you should. Leadership is a relationship business and that means being able to easily, smoothly, readily connect, engage, delight, motivate, enthuse others. Whenever we try to ‘decode’ what we do well, then it can appear complex, confusing and chaotic. The point is that this is how we learn. By understanding what we do (or what others do well) and replicating it. This isn’t easy. By the way, our ability to pay attention as leaders has never been more under threat, so on that basis, if we’re not tuned in, how can we influence effectively?

So here’s my challenge – as the summer holidays approach (a great opportunity to people watch/observe), I invite you to simply ‘read the room’. What do you notice? What do you really hear and observe that you haven’t noticed before?

Have fun and we’ll continue this conversation in September.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Evolve like a Leader

One of the most powerful facets of leaders who have presence, is that they are ‘on their purpose’. In the model of Executive Presence that I have developed called LEADER, the second ‘E’ is for ‘Evolve’. By ‘Evolve’ I mean that leaders, who engage others, have found what they love doing, what makes their eyes dance, and they are doing it – and excelling at it. One of the best, best, best TED talks I have watched in the last twelve months is by Larry Smith, a Professor of Economics, University of Waterloo in Canada. It’s a funny, but very blunt, talk that will make you stop and think – if you’ve not already done so given the title above. His unique delivery style is thought-provoking, funny, and devastatingly honest and it’s a video that we all should watch and re-watch. Smith states that most of us will fail to have a great career and espouses the reasons why:
  1. Some of us start out with the aspiration for a good career and some of us start out with the aspiration for a great career. However, most of us will fail at both.
  2. We have been told many, many times that we should pursue our passion, but choose to ignore this advice and decide not to pursue it.
  3. Some of us are simply too lazy and won’t try hard enough. If we try to look for our passion, but can't find it, then we make excuses not to do what we need for a really great career.
  4. We create excuses that we believe, such as really great careers are truly a matter of luck for most people. 
  5. We choose to believe that there are special people who pursue their passions but they are geniuses. Smith suggests that we all used to think we were geniuses – but probably only when we were young. As we grow up we lose this belief and think instead that we are ‘completely competent’. Smith believes that such thoughts damn us all with the faintest of praise. And he’s right.
  6. We believe that if we pursue a great career then we have to be weird. People who pursue their passions are strange or odd. We don’t like to think of ourselves as strange or odd. We like to think of ourselves as nice, normal people. However, nice normal people don’t have passion.
  7. We do what our parents tell us – and that is to work really, really hard. Smith believes that we can work really, really hard – but that’s not the same as having a really great career. He also believes that just telling kids to work really hard is nonsense. Why? Because all of the evidence points to the contrary.
  8. We find things that we’re interested in but we don’t find our passion. Smith says that having an interest is great – but what about finding our passion in the big wide world and trying a bit harder? We’re not interested. Passion isn’t the same as interest and we might have lots of interests but all of us need to find our passion.
  9. Even if we find our passion many of us will still fail according to Smith. Why? Because we continue to invent excuses for not having a great career as our passion. The phrase “if only I had…” is, according to Smith, one of the most damning things we can say.
  10. Smith says that what we say to ourselves is that human relationships are more important than accomplishments. We want to be a great friend, a great parent, a great spouse etc. and we won’t sacrifice that at the altar of human accomplishment. Smith is uncomfortably honest here. If we listen to what we’re saying to ourselves; we’re making ourselves out to be a hero. But we’re not heroes.
  11. Then when our children say that they want to be something other than that which they are good at, we repeat the mantra. We repeat what our parents told us and what we have told ourselves in terms of excuses.
  12. The bottom line is that many of us are simply afraid. We’re afraid to try, afraid to fail, afraid to succeed.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Thinking like a Leader

I’ve been working with a number of executives and leadership teams this month who are trying to solve problems. How do they drive greater engagement amongst their people? How do they open up opportunities within large accounts? How do they move away from the challenge of just lowering price when trying to sell their services? How do they improve the quality of their offering? The list of problems and challenges goes on and on. One of my clients is a global car manufacturer and whilst talking with a senior leader and his team after their business had been surveyed on their levels of engagement within the business, what I noticed was that the leader had an answer for everything. Whatever question was posed, whatever challenge was offered, the leader had an answer. He ‘just knew’.

Being a leader means being able to engage, ignite and delight our talent to deliver results for us and to do so amidst complexity, change and ambiguity. What I have re-read recently is the superb ‘How To Think Like A Freak’ from the ‘Freakonomics’ authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner and I am reminded of its brilliance. Why is it brilliant? Because what is outlines is so effective. Thinking differently, thinking effectively requires an approach which, at its core, offers strategies that we can all use. One of the most simple and powerful strategies is simply being comfortable to say ‘I don’t know’. One of the things that I am continually struck by, as an Executive Coach, is how rarely this is said in business. Somehow, somewhere there is a belief that says the more senior we become, the more we need to know everything – or at least to know a lot. However, in the context of ‘deliberating’ as one of the hallmarks of Executive Presence, being unwilling to say ‘I don’t know’ impacts our ability to think effectively and that in turns impacts our ability to do the right things (as opposed to being busy just doing things), communicate the right messages and engage our people in the most effective way.

It’s not an interview or a court of law, it’s a problem with a number of different facets that we need to understand, so let’s just stop with the thinking that says we ‘just know’ a lot and get focused on being comfortable with not knowing.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Engaging as a Leader

The speed, shape and size of change in business today means that how organisations survive and thrive requires a completely different set of rules. If economists are to be believed, we are (slowly) emerging from the sharpest economic downturn since the Second World War, however, employees are less engaged; competitive pressure is intense and budgets remain tight. So against that backdrop, how do leaders engage, ignite and drive their talent to consistently achieve, exceed, transform and excel? I see amongst my clients some common themes. Namely:
  • A relentless scrutiny of what is working well. It’s all too easy to focus on what’s failing. Problem solving makes sense when everything else is nearly flawless. However, it fails in times of change and when we have a range of challenges or problems across the board. Who’s still succeeding? Who continually exceeds expectations, despite facing the same issues as everyone else? How they do it? And what they do? These questions are all pursued with unending curiosity so that success can be replicated, magnified and extended across the business to where performance is lower.
  • Modelling the right mindset. As leaders, if we operate from a mindset of scarcity, in other words, we believe that resources are limited (which at one level is true with budget cuts etc.), it quickly engenders a bunker mentality. In addition, we fall back on a reliance on winning by purely cutting our prices plus negativity, defeatism and a lack of energy and pace all become the norm.
  • If, however, leaders operate from a mindset of abundance, then things appear very different. An abundance mentality is simply choosing to believe that we have available whatever we need to succeed; and our challenge is to work out how to get what we need, then the results can be transformative. 
This isn’t ‘woo woo’ thinking based on a simplistic ‘positive mental attitude’. It is the behaviour of leaders who continually engage, motivate and drive their talent to succeed.

It also works for entrepreneurs too. On May 9th, I celebrated 10 years of running my own business and from personal experience – and without the protection of a large corporate behind me, I can honestly say that the approaches I’ve described simply work. Fact.

Here’s to the next ten years…….

Monday, 13 April 2015

Cleavage and Credibility

I find myself exercised by the topic of bosoms this month.

On 18th March the Right Honourable George Osborne MP, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, stood up in the House of Commons to give his final, valedictory budget speech before the United Kingdom goes to the polls to vote in early May. This event is a very important date in the calendar for politicians of all political persuasion and Osborne was on his feet for more than an hour. During that time, his speech was streamed live on the internet and across TV and radio news channels. Sat behind him, and clearly in view throughout the whole session, was the most powerful female politician in the UK – the Home Secretary, the Right Honourable Theresa May, MP. May is responsible for keeping our country safe and secure, so to say that she has a very important job would be something of an understatement.

Back to Osborne’s speech. So, as the cameras rolled and the policies and political rhetoric unfolded, what exercised most comment? Well, apart from Osborne’s choice of suit (that’s for another newsletter), it was what Theresa May was wearing (or rather what she wasn’t wearing), that attracted the most attention. Her neckline prompted debate far and wide because what was on show was her cleavage. Endless amusing, irritating and on occasion downright offensive commentary was made about a woman who holds a serious position of authority, responsibility and stature. All because we could see some of her ‘girls’. See the review here.

In Australia, Channel Ten host Natarsha Belling became an unsuspecting internet sensation after her ‘phallic shaped’ neckline caused a social media storm. Of course she didn’t mean to do it. The image attracted more than 110,000 ‘likes’ and was shared more than 7,000 times. The point about this was summed up perfectly by the line from one wag “once you’ve seen it; you can’t un-see it”. Here’s just one article.

As professionals and as leaders, our visual signature matters - whether we like it or not. Whenever we look at others, the eye is searching for contrast; for difference; we are ‘drawn’ to a focal point and we will always look at skin. I think Belling literally didn’t ‘see’ the visual she had created through high contrast. Unfortunately 110,000 other people, who could be bothered to re–tweet it, could. As for May, the focal point she chose was so at odds with the occasion, the mood and the relevance to her role. Cleavage conveys vulnerability, femininity, softness, allure, sexiness. All of which is fantastic – just not for business (unless your business is the oldest one in the world).

When you get your choice of clothing right, we notice you. When you get it wrong, we notice what you’re wearing.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

International Women's Day - March 8

In honour of this auspicious occasion, my blog this month is dedicated to 20 facts about women.
  1. The word “woman” is believed to have derived from the Middle English term “wyfman”, broken down simply as the wife (wyf) of man. In Old English, women were described simply as wyf, while the term “man” was used to describe a human person, regardless of gender. 
  2. The English word “girl” was initially used to describe a young person of either sex. It was not until the beginning of the sixteenth century that the term was used specifically to describe a female child.
  3. The biological sign for the female sex, a circle placed on top of a small cross, is also the symbol for the planet Venus. The symbol is believed to be a stylized representation of the Roman goddess Venus’ hand mirror.
  4. While many stars and moons are christened with female names, Venus is the only planet in our solar system given the name of a female goddess.
  5. The English language originally delineated between women in different stages of life with the terms “maiden”, “mother”, and “crone”. A maiden referred to a young girl who was unmarried, a mother referred to a woman in her child-bearing years, and a crone described a post-menopausal woman. (I’m quite sensitive to this terminology – please note.)
  6. The average height of a woman in the U.S. is approximately 5 feet 4 inches, and the average weight is about 163 pounds. These figures vary greatly throughout the world, due to differences in nutrition and prenatal care.
  7. In almost every country worldwide, the life expectancy for women is higher than for men.
  8. While the population of males is slightly greater than females worldwide (98.6 women for every 100 men), there are roughly four million more women than men in the U.S. 
  9. Worldwide, women are nearly twice as likely to be blind or visually impaired as men. Experts attribute this difference to the greater longevity of women (leading to more age-related visual impairment) and specific eye diseases that are intrinsically more common in women such as dry eye syndrome and Fuch’s Dystrophy (yes, that’s a real condition).
  10. Depression is the most common cause of disability in women, and approximately 25% of all women will experience severe depression at some point in their lives.
  11. Approximately one in five women worldwide reports being sexually abused before the age of 15.
  12. About 14 million adolescent girls become pregnant each year, with over 90% of those girls living in developing countries.
  13. Each day 1,600 women die as result of pregnancy or childbirth complications. Nearly 99% of these deaths occur in developing nations.
  14. The probability of a woman giving birth to a baby girl instead of a baby boy increases significantly the nearer the mother lives to the equator. While the cause of this gender selection is unknown, scientists believe the constant sunlight hours and abundant food supply in tropical regions may favor female births.
  15. International Women’s Day is held each year on March 8. The annual event was first observed worldwide in 1909.
  16. The first country to grant women the right to vote in the modern era was New Zealand in 1893.
  17. The first woman to rule a country as an elected leader in the modern era was Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, who was elected as prime minister of the island nation in 1960 and later re-elected in 1970.
  18. According to an ancient Sumerian legend, the universe was created by a female, the goddess Tiamat. This role of a female creator is not unique, as the Australian Aboriginal creation myth also credits the creation of life to a woman.
  19. The earliest recorded female physician was Merit Ptah, a doctor in ancient Egypt who lived around 2700 B.C. Many historians believe she is the first woman recorded by name in the history of all of the sciences.
  20. The world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji, was published in Japan around A.D. 1000 by female author Murasaki Shikibu.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Breaking the Boardroom

I have had the privilege this month of being involved in a report which Telefonica created in co-partnership with the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD), on the topic of women on boards. In the UK, Lord Davies published a Women on Boards Report in 2011 and challenged UK FTSE businesses to have a female component of at least 25%. Whilst we’ve made a lot of progress; figures suggest that we still have a way to go and will not hit the target date set by Lord Davies. The research with which I have been involved is entitled ‘Breaking the Boardroom’ and it suggests that 45% of women believe that women still aren’t occupying enough senior positions.

Yet again, the debate continues regarding why? Many different reasons surround this discussion and I am drawn back to the topic of confidence. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that as long as you feel confident then you’ll be fine; I’m just saying that there are so many extraordinary, bright, talented women with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working who suffer from lack of confidence on occasion. I think it’s a piece in the puzzle.

What’s this based on? Well, a monthly newsletter won’t do it justice but some fantastic research a few years ago talked about how women are always doing one of the 4 Ps – Pleasing, Proving, Performing, Perfecting. Like monkeys on our back or chains around our neck, as women we please, we prove, we perform and we perfect…and by so doing, have more than enough material from which to create doubt, confusion and chaos in our minds regarding our own worth and ability. If you’re a women reading this - which ones do you own? If you’re a man reading this and thinking "What? I don’t get that?” then terrific, that’s also what the research shows. Women spend a great deal more time focusing on their perceived gaps and flaws, than celebrating and developing their inherent strengths. Much more so than men. By the way; this isn’t an ‘anti–man’ vibe this month either. I celebrate, appreciate and applaud professional men for their talent and’s just a fact that they don’t always suffer from lack of confidence in the same way that women do.

Confidence is an essential facet of leaders who have Executive Presence, and my own research a couple of years ago proved that those with Executive Presence are aware of their strengths as well as their flaws and continue to work on both.

Whether you’re a woman reading this, or a man who works with professional women, check out the research at, #breakingtheboardroom.

Friday, 9 January 2015

New Year, New Plans, New Goals

Happy New Year!

With the festive season well and truly behind us, now is the time for looking to the year ahead and making plans. 

What do you want to achieve? What projects do you want to deliver? What will success look like for you in 2015?

As a professional Executive Coach, although asking people about their goals is an everyday occurrence in my world, I am continually struck by how rarely I hear clear, well thought through goals by way of an answer.

The responses received tend to be historical; in other words I often get the back-story or history rather than the vision or desired future. I tend to hear a lot of detail; a lot of waffle; a lot of "blah, blah, blah" and it's got me wondering why….

The pace of business today seems to have pushed our behaviour to value being busy. Getting things done, reducing that inbox and being a keyboard warrior are threatening to be more important that being a crisp, clear thinker. The clarity of our thinking is betrayed in the calibre of our communication. We simply don’t spend enough time considering what exactly we’re trying to achieve before diving right in and getting busy. That translates verbally and we start talking too soon, saying too much, conveying very little. There’s not enough pausing, considering, surmising.

Setting clear goals is nothing new. Stephen Covey in his Seven Habits book talks about the importance of starting with the end in mind. I suspect there are very few professional people in the world who haven’t heard of the acronym SMART for setting objectives. Sharing that model with clients is not a "dear diary” moment. And yet in practical terms it’s really not that easy. We need to get super specific; we need to know how we’ll gauge success, we need to agree with others on the outcomes, we need to ensure relevancy and then we need to commit to a date to complete them by - and stick to it. There’s not enough envisioning, refining, prioritising.

So, a new year means new plans and that means new goals.

I’m now going to check on my mine……