Three things you wish you’d known
about leadership coaching before you set out.

The statistics are impressive when leaders integrate coaching into their everyday conversations.  But the majority of authors on this subject overlook three crucial aspects of leadership coaching that can significantly impact the reported positive outcomes. In this paper, we propose that adjustments need to be made to three facets of leadership coaching to ensure its integration into leadership.  Read more here at the CIPD.

Aligning the ontologies of leadership and coaching using Leadership-as-Practice: this, changes everything.

This is a major academic paper we had published in the Spring of 2023.  It's not for the faint hearted! But it is super important if you are interested in the academic foundations of our work. Click here for the link to Philosophy of Coaching, Volume 8, Number 1.

Leader as coach; coach as teacher.

Should we be sharing our coaching skills with our clients.  We propose that leadership coaches today must face up to a new challenge, that is to consciously and willfully give away our skill set.  Click here to read more in Coaching Today.

Work, what is it good for?

In this article we demonstrate how coaches can help reframe critical leadership issues amplified by the pandemic.

Read the full article in Coaching Today.

It’s good to talk, and listen.

Phil Renshaw and Jenny Robinson explain why being financially savvy is not enough to be successful in financial services. Leaders also need to be people savvy.  Read more in Financial World.

Listen to your gut, but don’t follow it.

If you had the chance to go back in time and offer your younger self some advice on your leadership skills, what would you say? What have you learned through experience, good and bad, that would have been so useful to you if only you had been aware of it?  (Read more on Irish Tech News: Here)

The Pandemic is No Excuse.

Check any social media feed in recent weeks and months and it will not take long before you fall upon discussions around wellbeing, burnout, and stress. Solutions are being offered. Ideas shared. The presumption is often that this is a direct and sole result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Leaders Voices’ research offers a different explanation to the underlying picture and what we might need to consider. Read more in the CIPD magazine.

Why leaders should behave bravely – even when they don’t feel it.

The importance of learning and change is relevant to everyone but never more so than in times of great difficulty such as Covid-19. Leaders, their behaviours and consequences, are also amplified at such times – if evidence is needed simply look at former president Trump. So the question is: in the midst of everything, as leaders, is it possible for us to really see what we are doing? How do we alter our course?
(Read more on PeopleManagement HERE)

If you think of mentoring as 'giving back’ you’ve missed the boat!

When I was younger, I used to hear people talking about mentoring as a way of "giving back". It was the idea that they could share their wisdom and experience to help others. Whilst the logic seems sound it hugely misses the real point of effective mentoring and whilst the model is definitely changing, it is still not unusual to hear people speaking this way. It’s time to challenge those assumptions and encourage people to think differently. (Read more on HRMGuide HERE.)

Playing Politics, But Now it is Online.

Politicking comes in many shapes: you may think you’re being side-lined as you are left off an email chain, or conversations happen on Zoom/Teams/Lync without you, decisions happen and you’re the last to know. Recently, a colleague of ours took our idea and sold it as her own: we were dumbfounded. That’s bad, but at the more pernicious end of the spectrum, sometimes colleagues can misrepresent your views or advice or implicate you in activities that you’re unaware of. Drawing from the playbook of coaching as a leadership skill, here’s our advice.
Our blog is published on the Cranfield University Knowledge Hub.  You can click here to read the whole article.

Your Business Superpowers: Being Kind AND Tough.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing because it helps us generate learning and then translate that learning into the future. Using the power of hindsight, we asked a group of leaders what advice they would like to have given to their younger selves on the lessons they’ve learned about leadership.
(Read the full article on Irish Tech News)


The extraordinary changes to most organisations’ working patterns triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic have identified, accelerated and amplified many challenges, not least to our leadership practices. In our work as professional coaches, we have found one issue above all others has been brought to the fore: leadership is a collaborative activity – and leaders who coach do this best.

This article was originally published in The Treasurer magazine. Please follow the link to read more.

In addition to the external publications listed above, we occassionally blog on ideas and subjects that catch our attention.  Here's a selection of blog posts from 2020 to 2023.


'No Time' Is the New Smoking


I coach a lot of ambitious women, but they will not be pushed around. In fact, so adamant are they, that their lifeis their own, they do not put themselves forward for promotions they so rightly deserve.

What they see is people above them, knocking themselves out for a corporation that never stops wanting more. And, at a certain level, it seems, that you just can’t say ‘no’ to: working late; working weekends; having family time interrupted; or negotiating holiday time around work commitments. In short, the higher you climb, the less autonomy you have.

What’s worse is that this is now normalized, helped tremendously by the pandemic and WFH.

 There are remedies and it is up to all of us to think carefully about these issues. Here are just two ways to ‘keep up’ without ‘giving in’. 1) It takes a team. If your job is to be oncall over the weekend in case of corporate crisis – once a month, at least, delegate to a team member to monitor the situation and to be oncall. Then. Really leave them to do it. 2) Lack of time sovereignty will be the new smoking of the future: We will wonder why we did it and individuals will pay the health price of being over vigilant and never sufficiently having control of time.  Time is all we’ve got. (PS., the image is from our book, Coaching On the Go, where Caroline enjoys a well earned mocktail by the pool).

Being Present: How to Help Get Your Team in the Zone


Research has shown for years that multi-tasking has a detrimental effect on learning outcomes and task completion (Dönmez & Akbulut, 2021). These poorer results are explained because often tasks are rushed or never completed. So how do we stop multi-tasking and get in the zone?

We all know attention is super important, e.g. think of an airline safety briefing. Yet attention is often scattered as we juggle too many tasks and don’t concentrate on any one thing. Here are four of our favourite tools to help you get focused.

1.       Whether or not you’re a team leader, you’re a role model. So act now and demonstrate you are resisting to the pull of multi-tasking. When you’re asked a question, put your phone down, close your laptop or say that you’re putting your phone on silent. And be clear – ‘give me 3 minutes to finish what I’m doing and then we can talk for 5 minutes’, for example. In many cases leaders continue with the very behaviour they ask others to stop.

2.       Use other simple tools. Turn off notifications on your phone, set ‘do not disturb’ times so the phone automatically switches off. Ask others to remind us when we automatically lapse into multi-tasking. Take action!

3.       You can start conversations by naming it: ‘we know multi-tasking has poorer outcomes so can we turn off and put away our phones? Let me explain the specific purpose of this meeting. Let’s focus.’

4.       Find out how to give feedback effectively and start practicing. As people get comfortable with this, you can talk to those who continue to multi-task and coach them to become more focused on the matter at hand.  

You will always have multiple things to do. That does not mean you complete them at the same time. Being in the zone feels great because you actually get quality work completed – practice these simple steps together and you’ll be there more often.

What Can Skeletons Teach Us About Leadership?


Someone suggested to me that this picture demonstrates that deep down we are all the same, when we bother to reach beyond the external labels that we give each other. These memes are eye-catching and headline-grabbing. Yet they sucker us into even more assumptions and bias.

Of course, we agree that difference is only skin-deep. Underneath we are all flesh and blood and skeletons. Forget difference, look at the common humanity that binds us all. Everyone has the same hopes, fears, desires: to be loved, to be happy, to be respected. This guides us to treat people equally, with compassion, with understanding and with respect.

But hang on. We are different, diverse and no two humans are the same. In organisational life we should harness this uniqueness, work in teams and collaborate. Not pretend we’re all the same. Diversity promotes productivity (multiple studies report this). This is what true leadership is all about. Others can see what you can’t. Their background, skills and cognitive abilities provide variation that is good for teams and organisations. So we need to pay attention.

And that’s how mindfulness helps leaders. It increases our awareness. We notice things differently. Similarities and variations. And both are important to us. And to your effectiveness. If you think mindfulness sounds like some soft pappy nonsense, you’re listening to the wrong people – ironically, you’re not noticing! Living in your world of assumptions. Check out the science.

Leadership is Collective and Collaborative


For too long, Business Schools and Consultants have peddled the notion that leaders are at the front of culture change and their job is to “sell” it to others. Now, there is a new set of ideas taking inspiration from the origins of the word leadership which lie in the Norse word 'laed' - to set a direction for a ship. This recognises that a group of leaders are needed to change direction and culture – hero leadership is no longer an answer because no leader leads alone.

The key is to avoid change being pushed down from the top. To create collaborative leadership demands that a CEO takes a leaf from the coaching playbook using active listening and powerful questioning to ensure they have heard and understood the different perspectives. People can’t swallow what they haven’t had a hand in making. The expectation is that this collaborative behaviour is role-modelled through every layer of the organisation. Allowing people to be heard, particularly their resistance or scepticism, resolves into motivation and a desire to succeed together. Great leaders coach.

In times of change there is often a perception that acknowledging uncertainty is a weakness. And yet we are all painfully aware, that complexity and ambiguity is the norm. In most organisations there is no single goal, rather it is about long-term competitive advantage. Instead of seeking to building certainty, which can only be a temporary mirage at best, we encourage CEOs and senior leaders to declare the very existence of uncertainty and its potential impact as they work collaboratively across functions and business areas. A clear intention is still required, but one that recognises change may occur in unexpected ways as the context constantly evolves. CEOs concentrate on building direction and alignment despite outcomes and personal impacts being unknown.

Force of personality is not the route to being effective. CEOs build listening and understanding, so that a collaborative leadership community motivates and truly empowers the business. (PS, the photo is a plant in the lobby of Cranfield Business School - just saying ;)).

What's Fear Got To  Do With It


(With apologies to Tina Turner). Last week, Phil Renshaw and Jenny Robinson talked with colleagues about how fear triggers a shut down in the body. Specifically, according to Polyvagal theory, hearing. Set a context of a global pandemic, businesses closing, workloads that are insurmountable; add in a dose of technology and dodgy wifi; kids, pets and partners nearby and guess what happens? Your hearing literally shuts down.

Next conversation with a colleague.... pause.... breathe.... allow yourselves to relax. You will both hear better and listen deeper.

We Are All Worker Bees


Deep inside you, do you have a small voice that says, I won’t play their games? Do you hold a belief that due to your strong moral compass and your personal integrity you won’t engage in something that you are calling “games” or “manoeuvring”? Is this limiting your career achievements?

 As leaders, we heard this often when helping team-mates with their personal development plans. Inevitably, someone might have received feedback that they had “big ideas but didn’t know how to get them implemented” or, that they were “kinda blunt” or, ”you’re three steps ahead of the rest of us”. Gently, we would begin to unpack what this might mean and how to use it to motivate a personal pivot point.

 But now it’s our turn to be blunt. That “game playing” that you won’t engage in, there’s no such thing. There is only ONE THING, as Prince said, it’s called LIFE. And not playing means you’re not living. Really.

 We are all worker bees in the hive of life. There maybe a Queen Bee, who knows, but unless you’re the queen bee, you’re a worker bee and you have to rub along side with all the others.

 Here’s one thing you can try, today, building on our book Coaching on the Go: -       Take any animal metaphor that strikes you as interesting;

-       Consider how the animals within that group rub along together - e.g. mutual grooming of chimps; or the dance of the honey bee; or the female lions who hunt for the entire pride;

 -       Overlay this metaphor on your organisation and consider, not what games are being played, but how the organism is organising. How does it all hang together peaceably and as a unit?
-       Now consider what mutual grooming or dancing you might choose to embark on.

 Your alternative, unless you’re in a position to change the whole organisation, is to go join another one and hope that game is more to your liking!

Review of the book at HR Director Magazine: