Protect your non-work time

smiley post it note on corkboard happiness versus depression concept
smiley cartoon face expression on yellow post it note surrounded by sad and depressed faces on cork message board in happiness versus depression and smile against adversity concept

Protect your non-work time

Leadership tip of the week #113

adapted from HBR

As more people are adapting to working from home, we are all learning to adapt:  jobs used to have very clear lines between when you’re “on” and when you’re “off.” But when you working from home — it’s important to protect your non-work time.

  • If you feel like work is taking over most of your waking hours, start by clearly defining what “after hours” means for you.
  • Take into account the number of hours you’re expected to work each week, as well as personal commitments like homeschooling kids , exercise, family and some me-time
  • When do you need to start and stop to put in the appropriate amount of work time?
  • Then, develop mental clarity about what needs to get done and when you will do it.
  • Keep track of your tasks and plan them out.
  • Make sure you block off time for an end-of-workday wrap-up, where you review and make sure you did everything you needed to do for the day. Even have a collective end of week drink with colleagues on a zoom call.
  • Lastly, communicate with your colleagues about how (or if) you want to be contacted during your off hours.

Really guard your time. If you don’t, you won’t get the mental break that everyone needs



Reign in Video Call Ramblers


Reign in Video-call Ramblers

Remember when videoconferencing software was a nice-to-have? Oh, how times have changed. Such technology has become a lifeline for British workers, many of whom had never even heard of Zoom or Google Meet just a few weeks ago—and it shows. As is the case with most things in life, practice makes perfect, but only if you’re aware of the pitfalls.

To make your virtual meetings as productive as possible, start by reigning in the ramblers. Discussions that turn into digressions aren’t unique to videoconferences, but they’re a lot harder to get a handle on when you’re remote. Regain control of the conversation by taking one of these three steps:

1. Ask the speaker to summarize his or her point for the meeting notes.

2. Ask the speakers to continue their conversation offline.

3. Establish a subtle signal (think, a hand raise) that participants can use if and when they feel the discussion is getting off track.

what do customers want in this crisis?

IMG_2416 1

Customers want companies to act in 3 broad ways in this crisis

leadership tip week #111

adapted from HBR

In a fast-moving crisis, it’s important for leaders to communicate with empathy and honesty — not just internally, but externally as well. Of course, customers require a different approach than employees.

Recent research by Kantar was clear that customers wanted organisations to communicate how they act in three broad areas :

  1. For their customers
  2. For their colleagues
  3. For their wider community


1.For their customers

In the current crisis Asda CEO Roger Burnley and Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe recently sent out a note to customers describing how they were acting in all three areas and have gained widespread plaudits, whereas Tim Martin Wetherspoons CEO has come under high levels of criticism for the video message he sent to his colleagues suggesting they take their skills to Tesco!

2. For their Colleagues

Grocery Retailers are focusing on protecting  colleagues with social distancing, perspex screens at check-outs, in-store cleaning procedures , increase limit on contactless to £45 and supporting colleagues with sick pay and Asda even committing to a bonus in June.

3. For their wider community

Coop are doing some great work supporting Food Banks with a guaranteed donation of Food. Iceland, Sainsbury’s and Asda have led by opening shops specifically at times for older customers or NHS workers , and many online retailers are prioritising delivery slots for older or vulnerable customers. M&S and Coop even starting local delivery services to vulnerable people.

Overall the focus that is working to build trust is

  • Focus on empathy rather than trying to create sales opportunities.
  • Deliver great Basics in store.
  • Rethink advertising and promotion strategies to be more in line with what’s happening in the world otherwise you risk sounding tone-deaf and alienating your customers ( removing multi-buys) or Coles in Australia shot an ad with their brand spokesperson encouraging its customers to stay safe
  • Look at your messaging from the perspective of your audience, and let your compassion drive your communications, rather than fear of doing the wrong thing


This tip is adapted from Communicating Through the Coronavirus Crisis,” by Paul A. Argenti

Reassure Your Team During Uncertainty

london coronavirus 2

Reassure Your Team During Uncertainty

Leadership tip of the week #109

adapted from HBR

This has been a week like no other in the world. Health Crisis. Economic Crisis.

When the news is scary and the future is uncertain, many colleagues will look to leaders for reassurance — even though you might not have the answers yourself.

You can help by first finding your own sense of focus.

  1. Before you start communicating, take a minute to pause and breathe. Then put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What are their concerns, questions, or interests? What do they need an immediate answer to? You might use language such as, “I know many of you may be thinking…” The quicker you can address what’s on their minds, the more likely you’ll be able to calm them down.
  2. Seek out credible sources of information, and read fully before distilling it into clear, concise language. You can confidently express doubt or uncertainty, while still maintaining authority. You might say, “Reports are still coming in, but what we understand so far is…”
  3. Communicate frequently, even if you don’t have news to report, so that people know you are actively following the issue.
  4. And provide tangible action items. Use language such as, “Here are the steps we are taking,” or “Here’s what you can do,” to demonstrate action.

stay safe everyone…

This tip is adapted from How to Reassure Your Team When the News Is Scary,” by Allison Shapira

communicate communicate communicate


Communicate with Your Team During a Rapidly Evolving Crisis

leadership tip of week #110

adapted from HBR

Keeping your employees informed during a crisis should be one of your top priorities as a leader, and this is the crisis of the century.

  1. It’s your responsibility to stay on top of events as they unfold — especially if they’re evolving as fast as they are right now.
  2. At the same time, beware of hype. News outlets often focus on what’s new, rather than the big picture, and they sometimes don’t distinguish between hard facts, soft facts, and speculation.
  3. Think critically about the source of the information before acting on it.
  4. Of course, colleagues have direct access to many sources of information too — but don’t assume they’re fully informed. It’s far better to create and widely share a regularly updated summary of facts and implications so you’re all on the same page.
  5. And constantly re-frame your understanding of what’s happening.
  6. Don’t hold off on disseminating plans just because they might change.
  7. Create a living document, with a time-stamped “best current view,” and update it regularly, highlighting critical changes.

This tip is adapted from Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis,” by Martin Reeves, Nikolaus Lang, and Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak

Protect your non-work time

smiley post it note on corkboard happiness versus depression concept
smiley cartoon face expression on yellow post it note surrounded by sad and depressed faces on cork message board in happiness versus depression and smile against adversity concept

Protect your non-work time

Leadership tip of the week #111

adapted from HBR

As more people are adapting to working from home, we are all learning to adapt:  jobs used to have very clear lines between when you’re “on” and when you’re “off.” But when you working from home — it’s important to protect your non-work time.

  • If you feel like work is taking over most of your waking hours, start by clearly defining what “after hours” means for you.
  • Take into account the number of hours you’re expected to work each week, as well as personal commitments like taking your kids, family and some me-time
  • When do you need to start and stop to put in the appropriate amount of work time?
  • Then, develop mental clarity about what needs to get done and when you will do it.
  • Keep track of your tasks and plan them out.
  • Make sure you block off time for an end-of-workday wrap-up, where you review and make sure you did everything you needed to do for the day.
  • Lastly, communicate with your colleagues about how (or if) you want to be contacted during your off hours.

Really guard your time. If you don’t, you won’t get the mental break that everyone needs

Move Beyond Your Ego with Meditation


3E865480-66D1-4B6B-B325-0039AA4D4363Move Beyond Your Ego with Meditation

Leadership Tip of week #108

adapted from HBR

Ego can stand in the way of good leadership.

When our egos are threatened, we hold on to past decisions for too long, we react defensively to negative feedback, and we get emotional when we need to be rational. Fortunately, mindfulness meditation can serve as an antidote, allowing you to see things more objectively and to form deeper relationships. Commit to meditating for a short time each day.

Find a quiet place, sit comfortably on a chair or cushion, and set a timer for anywhere between five and 25 minutes. Then simply start observing your breath. Allow the mind to detach from your thoughts and to experience a sense of openness.

Then use what you gain from this practice throughout your workday. You might quiet your mind with a few conscious breaths before you enter a meeting or open your email. Or practice in the moment: For example, while you’re sitting in a meeting, turn your focus to your breath, and simply notice if your mind has started to take things personally. Even just taking a few breaths in and out can help lessen your ego’s grip.

This tip is adapted from What Meditation Can Do for Your Leadership,” by Matthias Birk

Always checking the phone ?

obsessively checking phoneHow to stop constantly checking your phone 

Leadership Tip of week#105

adapted from HBR

It can be hard to focus with all that beeping and buzzing from your phone. I know, it can really create distractions and reduce effectiveness.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to reduce distractions.

  1. Start by turning off push notifications.
  2. If that doesn’t help, use airplane mode to limit interruptions when you’re trying to focus.
  3. If the idea of being out of touch gives you anxiety, you can always make exceptions for specific numbers, such as those of loved ones or important business colleagues.
  4. Try to check email, instant messages, social media, and text messages in batches, rather than sporadically throughout the day. “Just quickly checking” anything, even for one-tenth of a second, can add up to major productivity losses — it can take an average of 23 minutes to get back in the zone after task switching.
  5. It’s OK to not respond immediately to a message. Aside from the benefit of giving you more uninterrupted focus time, delaying can lead to better decision-making by giving you more time to think about your response.

This tip is adapted from 10 Quick Tips for Avoiding Distractions at Work,” by Steve Glaveski

Don’t just do something, Stand there


Don’t Just do something, Stand there.

Leadership Tip of week #109

adapted from HBR

(famously attributed to Eisenhower and Reagan)

As a leader, you probably have to talk a lot.

You want people to have the guidance and direction they need, of course, and there are plenty of situations where you need to speak your mind.

But at some point, talking a lot can turn into over-communicating. You can end up dominating conversations, which means colleagues’ perspectives aren’t being heard.

To make sure you aren’t talking too much, listen as much as you speak. When someone raises a question in a meeting, invite others to weigh in before you. In fact, don’t contribute your thoughts until several other people have offered theirs. That way everyone is included and feels that their input is valued.

You can also schedule regular one-on-one sessions with your team members to encourage open communication. Ask employees about their wants, needs, and concerns — and then hush. You may be surprised how much you learn when you’re saying nothing.

This tip is adapted from Don’t Be the Boss Who Talks Too Much,” by Hjalmar Gislason

The Three Kinds of People You Want on your Next Big Project


The 3 Kinds of People You Want on Your Big New Project

Leadership Tip of the Week #104

adapted from HBR

When you’re building a team for a high-profile project, you want an all-star team.

But it’s not enough to put your high performers on the task.

There are three types of people who should be on the team of any breakthrough initiative.

1. look for people who are comfortable with uncertainty. You need individuals who will remain curious and focused even when the project is far from the end goal.

2. be sure you have people who create structure within chaos and take action. These workers can drive a team forward even when circumstances change.

3. find people who have a combination of three critical traits: divergent thinking (the ability to connect seemingly unrelated information and ideas); convergent action (the ability to execute on ideas and create something tangible); and influential communication (the ability to share knowledge in a coherent, compelling way).

Lots of people have one of these critical traits, but your project team needs employees who have all of them.

Adapted from “If Your Innovation Effort Isn’t Working, Look at Who’s on the Team,” by Nathan Furr et al.

Getting Better at something requires commitment

customer 17

Getting Better at Something Requires Commitment

Leadership Tip of the Week #103

Adapted from HBR

We all want to get better at something.

Maybe you’d like to be a more inspiring leader, be more productive, or take more risks. But ask yourself two questions.

1. Do you really want to do better? Presumably the answer is “yes,” but if you’re looking to improve because, say, your boss wants you to, be honest about that. Change will happen only if you’re committed to it.

2. Are you willing to feel the discomfort of trying things that don’t work right away? Learning anything new is inherently uncomfortable, so be prepared to feel a little awkward. You will make mistakes. You may feel embarrassed or ashamed, especially if you are used to succeeding. But if you remain committed through all of that, you will get better.

Adapted from “If You Want to Get Better at Something, Ask Yourself These Two Questions,” by Peter Bregman

3 work skills that are useful at home

28A5A972-7B7A-4491-84B6-7FA94910DE73Leadership Tip of the week #106

Adapted from HBR

3 Work Skills That Are Useful at Home, Too

Is your home life more chaotic than your work life? If so, you’re not alone, and some of the skills you use in your job can help.

  • Planning and scheduling. Do you struggle to finish your personal to-do list? Block out time in your calendar for the things you need to get done (even mundane tasks like laundry and errands). You’ll feel more in control and more productive.
  • Decision making. is about understanding how your actions affect other people. To improve, pay attention to how your colleagues react to things, and ask yourself (or them) what could be behind their behavior.
  • Putting people first. At work, would you idly check your phone while a client speaks? Of course not — and our families deserve the same respect. Try to give people your full attention at home, even after a long day of work. It will help you feel more connected to the ones who matter most

Keep Improving your Emotional Intelligence


Keep Improving Your Emotional Intelligence

with a Specific, Feedback-Based Plan

Leadership Tip of Week #102

adapted from HBR

It’s not always obvious how to improve your emotional intelligence skills, especially because we often don’t know how others perceive us.

To figure out where you can improve, start with a reality check:

1. What are the major differences between how you see yourself and how others see you? You can get this kind of feedback from a 360-degree assessment, a coach, or a skilled manager.

2. Consider your goals. Do you want to eventually take on a leadership position? Be a better team member? Consider how your ambitions match up with the skills that others think you need to improve.

3. Identify specific actions that you’ll take to improve those skills. Working on becoming a better listener? You might decide that when you’re talking with someone, you won’t reply until you’ve taken the time to pause and check that you understand what they said.

Whatever skill you decide to improve, use every opportunity to practice it, no matter how small.

Adapted from “Boost Your Emotional Intelligence with These 3 Questions,” by Daniel Goleman and Michele Nevarez

Offer stressed-Out colleagues Praise & Assistance


Offer Your Stressed-Out Colleagues

Praise and Assistance

Leadership Tip of week #103

adapted from HBR

You know the stress case — the one who’s always overwhelmed, overstretched, and overextended.

They aren’t easy to work with, but you probably don’t have a choice. Whether you regard your colleague with annoyance or sympathy, you can help them by offering praise and assistance.

Your coworker likely feels out of control, so complimenting their performance can help them form an alternative self-image as a competent, positive professional.

Cite something specific. For instance, you could say, “The way you handled that presentation last week was admirable. You were so calm and collected, and the clients were impressed.”

You can also provide support by asking if there’s anything you can do to help, which might make your stressed-out colleague feel less alone. Don’t over-promise, though. The message should be, “I’m a limited resource, but I want to help you if you are struggling.”

Adapted from “How to Work with Someone Who’s Always Stressed Out,” by Rebecca Knight

Culture is all around us


Culture is all around us. Our shared values and beliefs are palpable in the places we visit and the people we meet. We absorb those values from the media we consume and the ideas we expose ourselves to. One of the best ways I know to witness how we can shape our culture is to take a taxi ride in a new city.

i’ve just spent 4 days in Amsterdam  speaking at a conference and had some great time walking around the city getting to know its distinct culture.

Every vehicle has a distinct culture that’s created by the driver’s posture. It starts with how the driver dresses and the conversation he or she makes. It’s heavily influenced by the cleanliness of the car and the kind of music the driver plays. And of course, it’s dependent upon his or her attitude to other motorists and how each driver finds meaning in their work. The environment can soothe or agitate, demotivate or inspire.

In taxis on every continent around the world, you can encouter zen and mala beads, negative news channels on the radio accompanied by rude hand gestures out the window. You will meet people who find dealing with passengers a chore and many more who are grateful for work and the feeling of autonomy.

In our communities and businesses, we often lament over our lack of control. We get despondent about what can’t be done to change things—all the while overlooking the endless opportunities we have to change everything.

We are the community, the business and the culture.

We are the makers and the making of the entities and places that shape our world.

We are more powerful than we think.

Put Down your Phone in Meetings


Leadership tip of the week #102

Adapted from HBR

If you’ve ever wondered whether you have a colleague’s full attention while they’re staring at their phone, stop wondering.

You don’t.

But instead of getting frustrated that coworkers constantly check their devices during meetings, take action.

  1. You might start by sharing research that shows even the mere presence of a cell phone — much less its glowing screen and constant buzzing — is bad for productivity.
  2. Then talk with your team about the upsides and downsides of using devices during meetings.
  3. Propose ground rules like “Be totally present” and “Keep the phone in your pocket.”
  4. The team could also agree to use a simple phrase like “Tech-check” as a friendly way of reminding someone to put their phone away.
  5. Once a few rules are in place, stick to them — and point out when a colleague doesn’t.

You might get some annoyed looks at first, but over time the team will set a new norm.

Adapted from “How to Get Someone to Put Away Their Phone and Actually Listen,” by Joseph Grenny and Kelly Andrews

Culture Ripple Effect


Leadership Tip of the week #101

adapted from HBR

By the age of six months, a baby begins to understand that his actions can affect his environment.

It’s amazing how as adults we quickly unlearn this.

As business leaders when we talk about shaping or changing company culture we sometimes forget to own the fact that we are the culture. Culture is not something that is laid down in a strategy document, or changed in the blink of an eye at an offsite event designed to rally the troops. Culture is how we act every day. It’s impacted by how we as individuals choose to behave and evidenced in the ripple effect that our actions catalyse.

When we seek change we often start by looking to see what we can change in others, forgetting that the ripples begin right where we are.

We must walk the walk and Talk the talk

Don’t Say “Change Is Hard” When You’re Asking People to Change


Leadership Tip of the Week #100

Adapted from HBR

When a change initiative hits a roadblock, leaders often remind people that “change is hard.”  But that old saw can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Momentary setbacks or delays can be viewed as the dead canary in the coal mine, and suddenly, employees disengage en mass.

Instead, try flipping the script. In a University of Chicago study, researchers were able to change participants’ mindsets by reminding them that most people improve with a little bit of effort.

The results?

Study participants were quicker to identify the upsides of change than the downsides.

Instead of accepting that initiatives rarely succeed, remind yourself and your team that you’ve all been learning new skills and adapting to new environments for your entire lives.

And every time you feel the impulse to say “Change is hard,” make a different claim, one that is every bit as accurate: Adaptation is the rule of human existence, not the exception.

Adapted from “Stop Using the Excuse ‘Organizational Change Is Hard,’” by Nick Tasler

New Leaders: Bring people with you

great leaders business

New Leaders: Bring People with you…

Leadership tip of the week #99

adapted from HBR

When you start a leadership role, there’s pressure to prove yourself by getting off to a quick start and delivering early wins. But if people sense that you’re making a change without thinking it through — or getting their input — you’re unlikely to be successful.

That’s why you need to slow down, especially in your interactions. When talking with new colleagues, repeat what you hear, both to confirm your understanding and to demonstrate that you’re listening.

Ask the group reflective questions such as, “What just happened here?” and “What could we learn from that?”

These questions force a pause, preventing a discussion from rushing to a decision.

And don’t be afraid to use silence.

Pausing before you speak gives you a chance to weigh alternatives and decide on the best way to respond. It also pushes others to wonder what’s going through your mind, which may cause them to think more creatively.

Adapted from “Why New Leaders Should Be Wary of Quick Wins,” by Dan Ciampa

Don’t let one person dominate


Leadership Tip of week #98

adapted from HBR

You’ve probably led one of those meetings where someone talks, and talks, and talks — and no one else can get a word in edgewise.

It’s annoying, and potentially damaging to team morale.

Of course, you can’t always expect that everyone will contribute, but there are ways you can encourage broader participation.

When you open the meeting, let the group know that you want everyone to speak up. I

f someone is speaking too often during the meeting, ask them to hold back: “Andre, let me get some others into this conversation, and then I’ll come back to you, OK?”

Whenever someone is interrupted, double back and ask them to finish what they were saying. And if you’re the person interrupted, speak up: “Marie, I wasn’t quite finished. I’d like to complete my comment, and then I’d love to hear your thoughts.”

Adapted from “5 Common Complaints About Meetings and What to Do About Them,” by Paul Axtell

anger management

Angry upset boy, little man

Leadership Tip of the Week #97

adapted from HBR

Only Express Emotions During a Conflict If They’ll Help You Resolve It

When a disagreement with a colleague gets heated, it’s normal to feel all sorts of emotions: disappointment, anger, or frustration, for example.

But should you express what you’re feeling?

It depends. If you’re experiencing what psychologists call a hot emotion — one that comes with an urgent sense of entitlement or even revenge (“I have to tell him exactly how I feel!”), it’s better to find a way to calm down first.

If the emotion is cold, meaning you can control it and use it to help the situation (“I want to tell him how I feel so that he’ll understand my perspective”), then it’s probably OK to express it.

But don’t just name the emotion; explain what’s causing it. Telling someone you’re angry is less helpful than sharing that you’re disappointed they didn’t follow through on their commitment to you.

Adapted from “Should You Share Your Feelings During a Work Conflict?,” by Susan David

Look after yourself when things get busy


Practice Self-Compassion During a Work Crunch

Leadership Tip of the week #96

adapted from HBR

When work is intense, it’s easy to beat yourself up for letting things slip at the office or at home.

But doing so can make the stress worse.

Have self-compassion instead: Accept that you’re in an acute period of work stress and notice — don’t suppress or deny — your emotions.

Assigning a word to what you’re feeling, such as “pressure,” “guilt,” or “worry,” can activate the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for executive functioning skills.

  1. Assess your to-do list by deciding what you need to get done each day and what can wait.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s renegotiating a deadline with a colleague or getting family members to pitch in at home.

Having compassion for yourself will help you increase your focus and get through the crunch with greater ease and peace.

Adapted from “5 Ways to Focus Your Energy During a Work Crunch,” by Amy Jen Su

Two Questions to ask to be a role model of productive conflict


Leadership Tip of the week #95

adapted from HBR

Conflict is a normal, healthy part of working with other people.

And yet many of us avoid it at all costs — often because it feels personal.

To get more comfortable with disagreements, and to reap the benefits of productive conflict, let go of the idea that it’s all about you.

If you model that you’re comfortable with productive conflict, you’ll show your team that it’s OK to disagree, encouraging people to raise their ideas.

To move a work conflict away from the personal, think about the bigger picture and the business’s needs. Disagreements often arise over objectives and processes, for example.

When you and a colleague have different views about something, ask yourself two questions

1. Why is this difference of opinion an important debate to have?

2. How will it help the organization or the project you’re working on?

The more you can keep a conflict focused on the business, the better chance you have of resolving it in a way that benefits everyone.

Adapted from “Why We Should Be Disagreeing More at Work,” by Amy Gallo

Solve Complex Problems by Expanding your Thinking


Leadership Tip of the Week #94

Adapted from HBR

Too many leaders approach complex problems with either-or thinking: The answer is right or wrong, good or bad, win or lose.

To cultivate a nuanced perspective, challenge your understanding of the problem. Ask yourself, “What am I not seeing here?” and “What else might be true?” Don’t seek out answers that just confirm what you already know.

It’s also helpful to tackle this kind of challenge first thing in the morning, when your mind is fresh. Spend at least an hour on it without interruption. The dedicated time ensures that you give a complex issue the attention it needs — attention that might otherwise be consumed by less intellectually demanding tasks.

And as you work, pay attention to how you’re feeling. Embracing complexity is an emotional challenge in addition to a cognitive one. You’ll need to manage tough emotions like fear and anger and get yourself out of flight-or-fight mode so that you can think more expansively.

Adapted from “What It Takes to Think Deeply About Complex Problems,” by Tony Schwartz

Use If-Then Thinking to Change Your Behaviour


Leadership Tip of the week #93

adapted from HBR

We all have habits and behaviors we wish we could change.

But just being aware of a bad habit isn’t enough.

To truly fix it, start by considering your goal (say, “I want my team to know that I trust them”) and the obstacles you expect to face along the way (“I struggle to delegate”).

Next, frame what you will do about the obstacles as if-then statements.

To address the delegation obstacle, for example, you could tell yourself: “If I start to feel uncomfortable about not completing the work myself, then I’ll ask for updates on it in our next team meeting.”

Eventually the link between the cue (the “if” part of the statement) and the action (the “then”) will become strong enough to help you change how you react.

By using if-then statements, you can think through what will get in your way and make a plan to overcome it.

Adapted from “Two Techniques for Helping Employees Change Ingrained Habits,” by Joel Constable