Who are ‘they’ anyway?

“But they said we had no choice!”, I overheard a rather frazzled individual say to another in the reception of a rather large organization. “Turns out we did. It was an unmitigated disaster!”

My client then appeared so I know not how the dialogue continued.

‘They’ seem to be quite a powerful bunch, I couldn’t help but wonder.

When we don’t know who specifically is responsible or accountable, the collective ‘they’ tend to appear with punishing regularity and untold influence.  In the same way that when we’re perhaps anxious about a significant event, we start considering, sometimes unrealistically, what ‘they’ will think.   Do we stop to think who ‘they’ really are? Not always.

The media is currently awash with news about what ‘they’, collective politicians, company executives, did or didn’t, will or won’t do.

When ‘they’ becomes a specific individual, it is so very much easier to make progress and identify who is doing what. Useful when it’s all going swimmingly, even more so when it’s not!

I wonder if those executives at Tesco knew who ‘they’ were , the ones that were supposedly accounting for what was going on financially and should maybe have been accruing more effectively?

They (!) evidently hadn’t come across the salutary little poem ‘Who’s job is it’.

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

Do you know specifically who is doing what for you in your organization or personally?

It seems that ‘they’ have a little too much power in the world. Is it timely to start reclaiming some of it back and redressing the accountability and responsibility balance.

After all when people are given autonomy, generally individuals rise to the challenge and deliver……very, very well. Richard Branson knows this and has recently announced that his employees can choose exactly when and for how long they take a vacation.  Productivity will soar.

People are very able and have names with history and heritage, let’s be specific and perhaps the collective ‘they’ might just start to go away or at the very least have a little less influence.

Have a fantastic week.


Flat over brow

Last week I was most fortunate to meet many extraordinary people and a few of the conversations stood out:
Speaking with legendary racing driver Barrie “Whizzo” Williams who rallied at the highest level in the 60s and is now known for his expertise at the wheel of historic and classic racing cars.
Discussing Cyber Security Challenge UK with Lieutenant Colonel Nigel Harrison, MBE, decorated for his part in the liberation of Kuwait during the first Gulf War. 
Also a lively discussion with Tanya Rennick, the energetic force behind The Oyster Club, London’s Premier Networking Club.  
Watch this space….
So, flat over brow, not a term I was familiar with.  Those of you who know a little (or a lot) about rallying will be aware that it means flat out, over the blind brow of a hill, requiring complete trust in your navigator or co-driver.  What transpired in discussion with Whizzo was not so much the “flat over brow” but the “right hand turn 50ft” immediately afterwards, in thick fog!  
“Flat over brow” seems to me to epitomize trust, that well-worn word that is talked about such a lot, but maybe not as truly practiced as it might be.  Not so in my discussions above, these truly inspiring individuals expressed candidly that if it hadn’t been for the trust in team or indeed trust in self, they wouldn’t be where they are today. 
As Ernest Hemingway eruditely put it “the best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them”. 
Will you? 

‘Caught or Taught’

Caught or taught?
I was at my daughter’s school this week for parents’ evening and one of her teacher’s stands out as being exceptionally good at what he does. Undoubtedly a very good teacher i.e. the ‘taught’ bit however it also occurred to me that the way he speaks and behaves is ‘caught’ perhaps by the kids too.
He has a certain way about him when the children are getting a bit wayward shall we say (some might say challenging) however I don’t think I have once heard him raise his voice or shout at the children. This hasn’t been reported back either and it often does – stories about the ‘shouty’ teachers as they’re affectionately dubbed! There is certainly a sort of ‘inspiring mood’ in the room when he is teaching.
It got me thinking about a group I worked with last year who have a rather challenging boss, abrasive, somewhat insensitive and inconsistent to boot. Whilst this boss is remote, it occurred to me that some of these behaviours were being ‘caught’ even though the team in question, were focusing on ‘upping their game’ and behaving much more effectively as a team. Some of the behaviours we came across were around territories, responsibility and accountability, blame games – a number of which I believe were being ‘caught’ from on high.
Their development as a team and as individuals came from unpicking some of these less successful behaviours and finding a mechanism both as a group and as individuals that would help them stay true to their purpose. They have also identified the ‘taught’ and the ‘caught’ – not that we identified it as such at the time.
As a leader what are you teaching and what are people catching from you? It will be your brilliance as well as those little behaviours or habits that don’t serve us so well?
As a leader what did you teach someone today?
As a leader what did your people ‘catch’ from you? Inspiration, eloquence, calm under pressure or something altogether different?

Your game, your turf, your rules…..

A few clients have been talking about public speaking over the last couple of days.The BAFTA’s and the fabulous awards and celebrations of the King’s Speech got me thinking……

There is a line in the movie, “my game, my turf, my rules” where Lionel, the speech therapist, is gently pushing at the boundaries of protocol when Albert comes to him for assistance with a speech impediment that has blighted him since childhood or perhaps because of his childhood.

An observation, as an executive coach, is that when we speak from the heart, our words, opinions and ideas are very often not only heard but also understood.When we say what we think we ought to say or should say, the sincerity and passion is somewhat diminished and therefore we may invariably give a mixed message or indeed the message won’t be heard at all.Why- when we speak from the heart about things we believe in – it may be the annual strategic plan or succession planning and growing talent- people will hear our voice because there will a real connection with the audience- be it 2 or 200 people.Speaking with ‘your game, your turf and your rules’ in mind will lead to that all important authenticity.


Use your words, if you have a speech-writer- make sure you attune it to your language- the words that ‘you’ would use

Boost your confidence a few moments prior to speaking by thinking about a time when you were at your most confident

Practice – if you don’t have a willing listener, practicing and going through it in your head is just as useful

Be succinct- know your main points to address – the forthcoming nominated potential Oscar winners have been told that if they win- they have 45 seconds speech time!

Answer questions directly, know your elevator pitch or company message or values that you can reinforce if need be

Remember ‘your game, your turf, your rules’ and if need be King Albert if that will help!