Stages of Competence

You Know Too Much!

After years of hard work and acquiring knowledge, you are now the one in charge.

The Manager, the Leader, the Boss?

Great, right?

Of course, but as they say, ‘With great power comes great responsibility’. (I think that was Spiderman, wasn’t it!).

What I mean is that you now must be that person who cannot just do it yourself, but you can step back and help others to do it instead of you. You have to teach!

To show others the way and pass on that (hopefully) great depth of knowledge that got you in this position in the first place!

This might seem straightforward but, as I have mentioned before, experts can’t always translate their genius into effective leadership.

This is because You know too much!

And if you get it wrong, you will likely demotivate, undermine, de-skill and terrify your people into not performing, rather than unleashing their brilliance.

So, you need to understand what helps people to learn and what stops them, then you need to know how to make sure we do it properly.

And there is an easy way…

That is to understand and utilise the competency model.

Simply put, there are four stages of competence, starting with…

Unconscious Incompetence – or blissful ignorance

This basically means you don’t know what you don’t know.

I always like to use the example of learning to drive.

You’ve just turned 17 and you want to get behind that wheel as soon as possible.

You’ve seen so many people do it, so how hard can it be?

This is Unconscious Incompetence.

You think there is nothing to it and it is going to be a doddle. So, you feel confident, perhaps underestimate the trickiness of it all and think it will take a couple of days to learn.

You might be missing a skill, but you don’t even know what that skill is.

And if you have an employee in this phase, you may be given a false sense of security that all will be well….

But, once they are enlightened to the joys of a clutch and a handbrake by a driving instructor or parent or whoever, we suddenly, and maybe devastatingly (if we are not careful), move onto the next step that is…

Conscious Incompetence – you now know you haven’t a clue!

So, you get in the car, and you don’t know your brakes from your full beams.

Now you can see all the wheels, knobs, and handles, and you begin to recognize that there is more to it than you thought.

You have an awareness of what it is you don’t know and what skills you need to develop. And you are now “terrified” that you won’t be able to do it.

You know that you need to use the clutch and gear stick in some capacity but aren’t too sure how.

And this is where the learning comes in and your driving lessons really start.

But as a leader, if you are not careful, you can break your team member, right here.

Because they are at their lowest here.

They thought they were great and now their head is telling them that they will “never learn this” or “I must be stupid” and this is where they can procrastinate and faff, because they don’t know how but they maybe don’t trust you well enough to tell.

So, you need to make sure you help them in this stage, to be safe and certain in their learning that it is OK, not to know.

If you don’t, they will never take the risk, but if you do, they will start to get the hang of it and move onto the next stage…

And this is where the driving instructor really comes into play here, actively teaching you how to drive, what foot goes where when and all the technical stuff! Making it OK to learn.

Conscious Competence – or should I say clunky!

At this point you begin to progress slowly. Driving starts to make sense but is not yet natural or entirely comfortable.

This is when your Mum will still grab dramatically for the handle anytime you approach a roundabout or your Dad has his foot on those imaginary brakes!

At this point, you need to be determined to prove them wrong and stick at it. You’re learning, and the more you do this, the more likely it is that driving will become second nature and soon enough you’re taking your test.

And if you are the “driving instructor” in this story you need to let your team member get used to driving.

That may be frustrating for you. It may mean it is slower than you want it to be, takes longer, is laborious and you could have done it quicker yourself.

Well, of course you could. But that is not the point. Because eventually you want to move on through this to get out the other side.

But if you keep poking your nose in and micro-managing, they will never be confident and never get the real hang of it. They won’t make good decisions and they will just defer to you.

So, hang on in there! Be patient and show you people you believe in them, and their learning and you trust them to try, to learn and to make (hopefully not too many) mistakes.

Because if you persevere your team member will start to build confidence and move on to…

Unconscious Competence

You pass that test and master the skill!

Of course, your driving will develop more as you are let loose on the roads, but at this point you are no longer practicing.

You are developing on the foundations that were set in your driving lessons. You are confident to get in that car and know that when you do, there will be no more dramatic grabbing of handles!

A year later, you are driving to work, listening to the radio, going through the motion as if you had been doing it your whole life.

And as the boss of the new driver, you are now able to trust them to do the right thing, not crash the car or do something silly.

You are still there on the end of a phone or for some advice (on parallel parking perhaps), but you don’t need to be there, watching their every move.

It starts to feel like you can let go and reap the rewards of that patience you showed.

They are confident, capable and they know you are a great boss because you trust them, and you made them feel it is ok to learn.

So, what does this mean for you as a leader?

Well, once you understand the process of someone who is learning something for the first time, whether it is driving, or creating widgets in your business, you will be able to see how to best break down the information you’re giving them to make the whole thing easier for everyone.

They won’t really know anything about how you operate or your expectations of them. So, first, that’s what you need to tell them!

Once this is clear they will move into the second stage. Here you can get more specific in outlining tasks and roles. Whilst they still won’t be comfortable, this enables you to move into stage three and get them learning some tools and techniques.

Here you can offer training and give out jobs without blowing their minds! And in doing so, you are building up teams that will not only be capable, but way more confident too.

It’s like swimming.

Throwing a kid in at the deep end is not developing a good swimmer, in fact it likely to scar them and make them scared of the water.

You must start off in the kiddy pool with the armbands if you want the next Michael Phelps on your hands (or in your team!) until they trust you and get them in the position to learn.

And following these steps, breaking down your knowledge into manageable pieces, not only will you build proficient teams, but you will also be forming ready made managers and leaders for your business in the future!

To me that sounds great, don’t you think?

And if you feel like you’re in a little bit of a ‘Conscious Incompetence’ stage with growing your teams yourself, why not get in touch by emailing me at and see if we can begin your journey to Unconscious Competence in Team Performance!

P.S. Whenever you are ready…here are four ways I can help you increase your impact as a leader: 

  1. Join The “Quiet Leaders With Impact™ Facebook Group and connect with other leaders who want to grow 

    It’s our new Facebook community where those that are The Quiet Leaders can learn and share how to increase their impact, influence and outcomes –  Click here 
  2. Grab a free copy of my leadership impact report: The Team Performance Engine™ 
    It’s the Road Map to your journey to increasing your impact as a leader -Click here 
  3. Join our Quiet Leaders Launchpad™ Mastermind Group Programme 

    This Mastermind is a selected group of like-minded leaders, in an online community, focused on growing your results.  With training, group coaching calls, guest speakers and more, supporting and challenging you to design and implement real team performance in your business. 

    Email me with “IMPLEMENT” in the subject line and we can discuss how you can join us 
  4. Work with me and my team privately 

    If you or your team just need a little more one to one attention to make change happen in your business… just reply to this message and put “PRIVATE” in the subject line… tell me a little about your business and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details! 
Plant Grows

Small Business Grows Big

Growth is something we all want for our business, of course it is! But if we aren’t prepared for it, this dream scenario can quickly become a bit of a nightmare for you at the top of it all!

Relationships in business are founded on trust.

As the leader of a small business, you will have a team of people who (hopefully) you feel able to rely on.

So, as you expand and take on more staff it makes sense that you would look to these people to take on management roles, in order to pass on their expert knowledge.

After all, you can’t be everywhere, however much you may want to be!

So now you have multiple managers with multiple teams of their own…great!

Yet, if you aren’t careful, you may have more problems that you started with.

Here we shall look at some of those main problems:

The Message gets lost

Key to your business is its message, its ethos. This is what, not only your customers, but also your teams, have to buy in to for you to be successful.

As your business expands, however, this message can become a bit like a game of Chinese Whispers.

As it gets further from you the lines of communication can become stretched, they become less effective, and with it, your message can become muddied, or even lost.

Then, all that you have spent so much time trying to implement can start to breakdown.

The wrong kind of leader

As I touched on earlier, as your business develops, you will need leaders to step up and take on these expanding teams. Obviously, hiring from within seems like the clear decision.

But this is one of the pitfalls that can damage your growing business if you get it wrong.

Sadly, being an expert in a field doesn’t always make someone a great leader. Having all the appropriate knowledge doesn’t always mean they know how to pass it on.

It’s kind of the opposite of the old “those who can’t do, teach” adage, or if you’re more of a sports fan, “good players don’t always make good coaches”.

What Can Happen?

Obviously, no one case is the same, but there is a client I worked with recently that was in just this sort of position.

Their IT company was growing quite rapidly, and they needed leaders for the new teams they were having to employ.

They started to ask current trusted staff to step up.

First, they set one of their original team members, an expert in their previous role, up as a leader, but they weren’t too comfortable in the position.

They were nervous and lacked confidence in leading a team, and thus, the message broke down, the team was ineffective, and they struggled to maintain the business ethos and results.

The second leader they sourced from within had similar issues, except, they disliked the idea of managing so much that they left the company.   That meant that they lost a key member of staff as well as a potential leader.

Finally, they turned to external sources for a new manager, only one of their requirements for the position was that it had to be filled by someone with good IT skills and experience.

This sounds like it should make sense, but you must look at the role they are being brought in to perform. They are going to be a team leader, a manager, not an IT specialist, so do they really need that experience?  Maybe some, but not the only thing they needed.

What to do?

What is really important is to be able to provide your teams with the confidence and capability to step up into the kinds of management positions.

You can’t be afraid to bring in people from outside your business either.

Managers are there to do exactly that, manage! And experience goes a long way to obtaining that confidence that good leaders require.

But growing your leaders from within, if done properly and with care, is an excellent option.

Those people love your business, like working there and know all the little foibles. So, they are best placed to be bought into your ethos. 

So, if you want to grow those wonderful team members into leaders, you need to do something different.  You need to develop their skills – soft skills, confidence, communication and leadership mindset. 

They need to be able to Think, Be and Do as a leader does.

So, as long as you support their growth, then they are perfectly capable of learning those new skills.

And you will need to change the way you think and behave too!

You will need to be able to trust them, let them grow new wings and you will have to let go a bit so that they can feel the responsibility and start making bigger decisions, without relying on you.

If all that sounds lovely but a little scary or worrying, or you are asking yourself – yes, but how do I do that, then all you need is someone to support your business in that transition.

Maybe it’s time to book a call with me and we can have a chat about where you can take your business, and where we can help you grow you, grow your leadership team to grow your business.

Book your call here:

Or email

P.S. Whenever you are ready…here are 4 ways I can help you increase your impact as a leader:

1. Join The “Quiet Leaders With Impact™ Facebook Group and connect with other leaders who want to grow

It’s our new Facebook community where those that are The Quiet Leaders can learn and share how to increase their impact, influence and outcomes —  Click here

2. Grab a free copy of my leadership impact report: The Team Performance Engine™
It’s the Road Map to your journey to increasing your impact as a leader –Click here

3. Join our Quiet Leaders Launchpad™ Mastermind Group Programme

This Mastermind is a selected group of like-minded leaders, in an online community, focused on growing your results.  With training, group coaching calls, guest speakers and more, supporting and challenging you to design and implement real team performance in your business.

Reply with “IMPLEMENT” in the subject line and we can discuss how you can join us

4. Work with me and my team privately

If you or your team just need a little more one to one attention to make change happen in your business… just reply to this message and put “PRIVATE” in the subject line… tell me a little about your business and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details!

Julie Hutchison
Chief Impact Engineer at the Think Be Do Lab!
Call: 07947823842

Grow Your Business

The Easy Way to Grow Your Business from £1 Million to …..

Working (as we do) with businesses around the £1 million mark who are wanting to grow their businesses, has proved to me time and time again that there is an easy way to grow your business and a hard way.

Many businesses get to £1 million t/o a bit by accident – more luck than judgment in some cases.  They open a business in the right area, the right industry at the right time.  They are good at what they do and they get some lucky breaks, the right customers who tell other customers, or the product or service they offer is trending, they hit the wave at just the right time.

For others it has taken years of hard work and dedication, perhaps in a family-run business, to build up a client base and a reputation which has steadily and slowly taken them to between £500k and £1 million. 

In either case, the hard way to grow the business to the next level is to carry on doing what you are doing.  I would go so far as to say, this is the impossible way to grow the business. 

You have heard the quote about the definition of madness?  Well, that certainly applies to growing your business.  What got you to a million-pound turnover, will not get you to 5 or 10 million.  You are going to need to do most things differently.

Under 500k – 1 Million

At this level of business – start-up or in the early months/years the business owner is the main man – or woman.  You are the star of the show.  People do business with you because they know like and trust you.  And you are great at what you do.  And that is fantastic.  If all you ever want is a lifestyle business, then carry on doing whatever you do, because it is working!

However, as the business grows towards the larger 6 figure mark, my experience tells me, that life as the business owner becomes busier and less enjoyable.  UNLESS you put some thought, time, and a bit of investment into the easy way to grow a business.

If you do not – then here is what happens. 

  1. You are good at what you do so you get more customers
  2. You are busy doing the work and so you can’t deal with more customers
  3. Your business turnover looks like rolling hills, up and down.
  4. So you hire some staff
  5. You don’t have time to train them properly though and so
  6. They do a little work and you do more work
  7. You end up having a nervous breakdown, losing sleep, losing relationships, losing customers, losing your mind – because you are just TOO busy, ALL the time.
  8. Your business stalls, maybe even closes or goes bust. At best it just frustrates you by never getting beyond a certain size.

The Easy Way to Grow Past £1 Million Pounds

This is the stuff all successful growing businesses do.  They understand that in order to grow they have to FIRST have the right team in place.  In your business right now, if you don’t have the right team it will be for one of two reasons.  Either you have the right people but they don’t have the skills to step up (your fault by the way for not developing them).  Or you don’t have anyone with the potential to be in your leadership team (your fault by the way, for not hiring for potential). 

Either way – what needs to happen is the right people need to be developed (SPOILER – that most likely includes you), so that they have the skills, the confidence, and the right plan – to step up and become a Team On Fire.

And what is a Team On Fire?

It’s a leadership team that understands the vision and its part in that vision.  They have the skills, the confidence, the knowledge, and the motivation to bring their A-game every day.  More importantly, they drive the business, they manage the people, the processes, and the delivery. 

Leaving you free as the business owner, to be able to stick your head above the parapet, see what is going on, and set/reset the strategy and direction.

Doesn’t that sound good? 

It is the only way you can grow. 

So if you are serious about growing your business, of course, you will need a financial plan, a marketing plan, an ops plan, a sales plan, and a recruitment plan.  But before you can implement any of that, you need a Team on Fire.

If you know it is time you got serious about growing your business, and you don’t want to have the same conversation with yourself in a year’s time or watch your competitors grow while you don’t – maybe it’s time to book a call with me.  No obligation, just straight-talking about what needs to happen in your business to create the future you want. 

Book a slot here

Be a Leader

How do you show up in your business – and what difference does it make?

Everyone has a decision to make when they walk into the office (or join the team zoom call) in the morning.  

You have to decide, without getting too existential, who you are going to be today. How are you going to show up? 

Most people are pretty self-aware when it comes to what they wear to work, for example, but when it comes to how they’re going to lead their team, it seems to be more challenging. 

Yet neglecting your leadership style is like turning up to work in a Hawaiian shirt and flipflops if you are meant to be in a suit! 

At best its distracting, at worst its unprofessional and that will, ultimately, be damaging to your business. 

So, if we want to make sure that we can create a business environment that grows our team’s confidence and capability to create amazing things then we need to be aware of and design the impact we have on others. 

Let’s look at just 7 types of impact types that us leaders can have: 

1. Mood Hoover 

This is the person that sucks all the energy out of the room as soon as they walk in. I’m sure that, unfortunately, you’ve all encountered someone like this. Just their very presence is draining.  

There is nothing more disheartening than when going to work feels like a slog. Believe it or not, I’m of the belief that work should actually be fun! 

 And showing up and draining everyone of any enthusiasm they may otherwise have is a sure-fire way to demotivate a team. 

We may say to ourselves – “oh that’s not me” but have you ever asked?   

2. Micro Manager 

This is probably one of the most common and widely known of the typical types of leaders. They are the person that will try to pick at and control every little part of the business. They will be the type to over supervise and critique everything their team does.  

If you tend to fall into this trap, just pop yourself in their shoes for a moment and think how it would feel.  Work shouldn’t have to feel like Big Brother, with eyes on your every move, and when this happens it reduces confidence, makes us feel like we will just wait for the next instruction instead of sticking our head above the parapet.  

So micro-managing is a short-term win but a long term lose.  

3. Do-It-Yourselfer 

Could this one be anymore self-explanatory?  

Well, just in case it isn’t, this is the type of leader who “just can’t” delegate, so they may believe. 

The type of leader who will take everything on themselves and leave their team twiddling their thumbs with very little to do. 

This is stressful for all involved; the leader takes way too much on, and the team feel like they aren’t trusted or valued in their job. 

But often they are fooling themselves and we need to switch a few beliefs around to help us to let go and believe that it will be better for us in the long term.  

4. Stressed Out Stickler 

This is the type who has no trust in their team. The one who goes strictly by the rules and not the relationships they have within their business.  

This approach is forceful and may appear authoritative but ultimately, it will have very little influence on anyone involved. 

If you are making your team feel constantly on edge about stepping even slightly out of line, they’re not going to be doing their best work, or enjoying their time there. 

Remember, most people come to work to do a good job so if we can find the strengths in our people and begin to trust them to step up, then we can step back and focus on the bigger picture.  

5. Dynamic Driver 

This could almost be described as an amped up version of the Stickler. This type of leader will have you quaking in your boots is they are heading up your team. 

They can even be overbearing and pushy to the extreme. 

They may have a big influence on their team, but this will be more out of fear than anything else.  

They will be driving (as the name suggests) the team forward but it won’t be a fun experience for any of those involved.  

The problem with this is that it creates a parent-child relationship rather than adult-adult and then we are quite likely to hear our team say “If you are going to treat me like a child, I will behave like one”. 

So, as soon as the boss goes away, we all breathe a sigh of relief and in can lead to the team pushing back and getting actively unhelpful when they aren’t being pushed along.  

We have to remember that human beings (adult ones) need to be treated as such and we need to buy-in to the cause, not just be pushed over the edge of the cliff.  

6. Undercover Slogger 

As you may expect given the name, this is when no one knows that you’re the leader.  

And without wishing to state the obvious here, if no one knows who the leader is then they’re very unlikely to have any real influence.  

It doesn’t matter how much knowledge and ability a leader has if they are unable to impart that or direct others in a productive way.  

Maybe this leader is so worried about offending or upsetting someone that they just feel they can’t ask someone to do a task or challenge that bad behaviour.  

But this leads to a confused and often conflicted state because there is no one leading the pack.   

And this means that it is very hard to get things done, make changes or get people taking responsibility.  

As a leader we will still be slogging away, mopping up messes, doing too much and feeling bad about it.  

7. Quiet Catalyst 

In many ways the ideal or aspirational goal of leadership, being able to inspire others without having to shout. A low force approach with a high influence. 

If someone can get their point across without ranting or raving, then teams are immediately more likely to open up to what they are asking of them. 

Being a catalyst for your team means you can inspire them, give them the confidence to step up and try stuff, make decisions, test things out and put themselves forward.   

You give them confidence to not have to keep knocking on your door asking “What’s next boss” and therefore they grow and learn, you get to focus on the next big thing and they feel fab because they are developing in your business whilst creating amazing results.

What Comes Next? 

Once you can identify these different types, you have the chance to see where you naturally find yourself. 

And say you don’t like where you end up, guess what? 

None of these are final! 

You are free to make the changes you feel fit to get the best out of yourself and your team. 

Just as you pick what you wear to work every morning, it is completely up to you what attitude you choose to show up with. 

But if you feel you need some help in making the changes you need as a leader, give me a shout and we can find the one thing that you can focus on to grow your impact and influence in you business.  

Email and let’s we can see what we can achieve! 

Woman listening

Leadership is Listening

Leadership is Listening

When you think of leadership – do you think of some confident (arrogant) person swaggering around barking orders at everyone?  Perhaps you think of someone highly intelligent who has all the answers? Or a ‘Do what I say not what I do’ type authoritarian leader? Or maybe a great orator – like Martin Luther King?

None of those leadership styles are relevant in today’s world with the exception of Martin Luther King – we could always do with more of those!

Leadership Is All About Listening

The Most Important People to Listen to Are Your Team

When things go wrong, as they invariably do in business, it’s easy to react.  Something goes wrong and it needs fixing.  As the leader, you may go into problem solving mode, in order to sort things out before they get any worse.  And that’s completely natural and is often what needs to be done. 

Sometimes, however, it just makes things worse.  If you fly into problem-solving mode – or worse – shouting and blaming mode – before listening to what happened, then often you don’t solve the actual problem and just create a bigger mess.  At the very least you lose an opportunity to get your team involved in solving the problem.

Decision making needs to be based on listening. 

Julie Hutchison

And sometimes that’s hard because people may not want to tell you the truth for fear of reprisals.  Sometimes they think they are telling the truth – and they are – but it is only their version of the truth. 

There is a lot of listening involved in being a great leader.  And also, the ability to ask the right questions and then hear between the lines! 

Of course, you need to listen to your clients

I was talking to a client the other day, who was what I call a proper creative.  He had come up with some new products he was certain his clients would love.  They sounded interesting – though I am not his target audience.  But he was astonished that almost no one was buying. 

I asked him how many of his customers he had consulted before he went ahead and developed the products.  I think you might be able to guess that the answer was none.  If you don’t listen to your clients, what can you expect?

Critically, you also need to listen to yourself

When I say that – I don’t have an image of you walking around talking to yourself and then stopping and listening!!  What I mean is – listen to your gut instincts.  Listen to how you feel about something not what your head is telling you. 

When you ignore those instincts things can go very wrong.  Gut instinct is not some magical WooWoo thing – that some people have and some don’t.  Gut instinct is the sum of all your life and business experiences.  If you really analysed where your gut instinct about someone or something came from, you could find the answer. 

But your instincts will bring back an answer for you so quickly that you don’t understand where it came from.  It’s not always right – you might not like someone because they look like the school bully for example, and you could be missing out in that case.  But mostly, entrepreneurs and leaders have pretty good gut instincts. 

Listen to them and then decide.

If you are a react first, think later person – we have some strategies in the Leaders LaunchPad that can help. 

Happy to have a virtual coffee anytime!

An office party

Why we should play more in business

Sadly, unless you are very lucky, everyone is going to have to work for a living.

Now, work is often viewed as a necessary evil, something to endure rather than enjoy (it’s even evident in my opening line!), but this doesn’t always have to be the case.

Your business doesn’t always have to be all work and no play, in fact if it is you may be missing a trick. If work is more fun, more will actually get done!

The Human Touch

Leadership is about people, and that goes both ways.

Not only do you have to view your team as real human beings (because they are), they also have to see you as one!

No one wants to be the big scary boss who people are too scared to talk to.

It’s about allowing yourself to be exactly that, yourself, rather than the person you think you should be. And if you’re anything like me, the real you wants to have a laugh and enjoy going to work every day.

And guess what, it’s the same for everyone else too!

I remember when I was a police officer, I had a boss who was not into laughter. She wanted us to “get on with it!” and not to be seen chatting or singing or messing around, so to speak. 

But that was where I am the team thrived – releasing pressure, creating fun and therefore enjoying our job, that was often difficult and depressing.

So, as a leader, if you allow your team to see that human side of you, whilst expressing their own, your workplace if going to be a much nicer place to be.

When people feel like they can let loose a little and be themselves, this opens up the door for more playfulness and, in turn, creativity and productivity.

And of course, that means a better business.

I mean who doesn’t want that?

The Proof

But you don’t just have to take my word for it, there have been studies too!

Studies like the one published in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour that found a link between informal learning and fun.

This means that a good atmosphere will create a better learning environment meaning people will pick up skills better, thus improving job performance

So, if work is personable and fun, you are opening the door for your team to get more creative in trying new things and worrying less about mistakes (something that can hold them, and the business back!).

The Myth

Sadly, there seems to be this horrible idea surrounding work, that having fun and being able to play around with work and business is somehow a distraction.

I think it’s time that narrative shifted to the 21st century, in which this has been proven not only untrue but, in fact, the complete reverse of the reality!

Fun breeds optimism (no surprises there), but it also helps improve resilience and attention, not to mention bring people together!

The more collaborative an environment is the faster people are likely to learn too.

It’s really like one big domino effect. Create a playful environment in work and you knock down issues like stress, lack of productivity, lack of creativity and poor engagement.

Come As You Are

You know that whole American thing of ‘Bring Your Child to Work’ days, well I’m not suggesting that by any means, but maybe we could tweak it a little.

How about, ‘Bring Yourself to Work’?

And why limit it to just one day?

Bring yourself (your real self) to work every day!

It’s far less hassle than bringing a child or, for that matter, bringing in that act of whatever you feel a “leader” should act like!

Remember, you are a leader, whether you like it or not so the way a leader acts is as simple as how you choose to act.

And by bringing yourself you are also bringing along opportunity.

The opportunity to:

  • Form better relationships – meaning better growth and more success.
  • Build a strong social network – meaning better team performance and more fulfilled employees.
  • Bring in personality, both when you speak, but also into how you listen to and engage with your team

But How?

If that hasn’t been the case in a business for some time, it can feel a bit odd to suddenly bring fun and laughter, or your human side into the business.

People might find it strange if they are being asked to be more themselves, or feel uncomfortable, as might you.

But persevere and you will create a new norm.

You will start to find that behaviour breeds behaviour, and that people will feel more comfortable if they feel it is safe to be themselves.

If you think this makes sense to you but are not sure how to bring that back into your team (without having to resort to team building days and jumping off logs etc) then give me a call.

If you fancy having a little fun with your team, get in touch at and we can have a play and see what we can do! Or check in with what I have been up to recently here.

juggling skateboarder

Are you Getting In Your Own Way?

Being a Manager is hard! You are always getting in your own way. You see, being a business owner who wants to grow means being not only a manager but also a leader (as well as many other hats).  And that is like juggling jelly, whilst on a skateboard rolling downhill, and hosting a talk show at the same time.  Trust me – I know. 

But unlike the jelly juggling skateboarder – it IS actually possible. Unless you are getting in your own way, of course.

Let’s look at how you might be getting in your own way

Leadership is about setting the vision. It’s about you – or the vision – or both, being so inspiring that people believe they can achieve whatever goals are set and come out as winners.  They mirror your behaviour.  Here’s where you can clearly see the first hurdle.

If, as a Leader, you say one thing but do another – then people will follow what you do not what you say.  And here’s the irony.  Because – as the Leader, you might work late into the evening which nobody sees – because they have all gone home, or they are working from home.  But if you are 5 minutes “late” in the morning, that sets the wrong tone.  Especially if you are also ‘the manager’.

The Manager is the one that sets the standards, monitors the activity, and passes down the goals and practical steps that are needed to achieve the vision.  They may or may not be inspiring, but they are there to make sure that things get done.

It is hard to be both a manager and a leader. 

The skill sets required of those two roles are quite disparate, and you may find yourself more naturally in one role than another.  Which role are you not as strong in? That will be where you are getting in your own way.

The Good Leader

If you are a good leader but a poor manager then you will find that your team loves being around you, they find you motivating and empathic.  You have time for them, and you make them feel invincible. 

But if you are not managing them correctly you will find them going down the wrong path. They don’t have the skills they need, or they don’t understand the ‘rules’ or where their authority starts or stops.  They don’t meet deadlines but they are full of great ideas.

The Good Manager

If you are a good manager, then things will be done as you direct.  You are in charge of the ship.  But if you are not a good leader, you will find yourself working harder and harder, having to think of all the ideas yourself, having no one that steps up to take some of the load.

If you are a good leader and notice that your team is not doing as well as they should, you will probably feel guilty – you have asked them to do stuff but haven’t trained them or shown them how to.  Maybe they are capable you think, and you shouldn’t have asked them.  So you start taking things back from them and doing more yourself.

If you are a good manager,  but not a great leader, you might find yourself wanting to control everything (after all that is a manager’s job) but taking it too far.  You may feel let down by the team’s lack of initiative and therefore take on more and more of the hands-on job yourself.

In both these scenarios, the end is the same.  You are working too hard.  You are doing stuff you shouldn’t be doing as the manager and/or leader of your business.  And you are NOT doing your job.  You are not being strategic, thinking about the future, the solutions that you need to find because you are too blooming busy doing the do.

Your business can’t grow until you grow.

As a result, the business can’t move forward.  It can’t grow, and not only that, you cant even take a day off because everything would fall apart if you weren’t there.  Well, maybe you CAN take a single day off, but a holiday?  Without constantly being on your phone or laptop?  Not a chance. 

Henry Ford, amongst others, has been attributed as saying

“If You Always Do What You’ve Always Done, You’ll Always Get What You’ve Always Got.”

Henry Ford and others

And what does that actually mean?

Well, it means – if you want things to be different you have to change them.  And that means changing you first.  You can’t just dictate that your team must do things differently from now on if you manage or lead in exactly the same way.  If you do, then in a week, or a month or 6 months time, nothing will have changed. 

Don’t be like a 1960’s parent saying

“Don’t’ do what I do, do what I tell you”. 

Your Grandparents, possibly…

It didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. 

If you’d like to know how to (metaphorically) juggle jelly whilst skateboarding downhill hosting a talk show – drop me an email at  It’s a great subject for a virtual coffee! 


Team On Fire Lightbulb

Is Your Team On Fire?

Is your team on fire?

You better hope they are – because it is the only way you can succeed at growing your business.

But hey, maybe you don’t want to grow?  Maybe you do want to grow but you are struggling to make it happen. 

What I commonly hear is that the business owner wants to grow.  They have a plan.  They are able to create a bit of momentum, and things start to improve. But then after a certain period of time, it all falls down and things are back to square one.  Or worse!

Why does this happen?

Generally, it comes down to one thing.  Your team are not on fire.  And that means – you haven’t set them on fire. You haven’t trained them, prepared them, motivated them, and given them the tools, skills, and authority they need to truly be on fire. They just are not a “team on fire”.

There are two very common scenarios when it comes down to a failure to grow. 

2 Reasons Your Business Won’t Grow

In the first scenario, something great happens – perhaps an unexpectedly large order comes in, a slew of new customers are won, a product or service excites your market and suddenly things get a lot busier than they were before. 

In situations like this, there’s a tendency to hire the first person/people who look like they can do the job. What happens next is an abdication of responsibility to those people that they are actually not capable of handling.  Or you hire people to handle the new work and promote someone to manage those people. But you haven’t really thought through what training or support they might need to suddenly become a leader in your business.

It’s a very different set of skills that are required to manage a team, than to be a technical specialist. Not everyone can make that move successfully, and they certainly won’t if you don’t have support, training and coaching in place to help.

Or the above 2 scenarios happen – you DO have people with the skills and experience to step up into leadership roles. Fabulous. BUT you just can’t stop yourself from interfering in everything, trying to control the smallest part of the process and generally ‘being in charge’. 

So, you totally disempower them. So instead of being excited and motivated by this opportunity, they are too afraid to make a decision, too frightened of your criticism to put forward an idea. Often they are too demotivated to even show up.

And here’s the thing.  You probably don’t even know that you are doing it.  You may genuinely think you are giving them the responsibility they can handle without realising it’s too much – or too little.  If you find yourself fighting fires all the time, then it is probably the former.  And if you are way too busy in the technical business of your business – then it is definitely the latter. 

But you need to sort it out.  Because the truth is – your business will never grow until your team is on fire. 

What Does A Team On Fire Look Like?

What I describe as a team on fire – is one where they are stepping up, asking for and taking on more responsibility. And that is allowing you to step back from the coal face and be more strategic.  This team will not come to you with problems – only with solutions.  They will innovate and think of new ways of working that you would never have thought of.  And they talk to each other and support each other.  Not only that but they are each other’s biggest cheerleaders and ambassadors for the department/company.  And they think you are the best boss they ever worked for.  Why?

Because you have trained, trusted, and taken care of them.  You’ve played to their skills and supported their ideas.  You haven’t thrown them in the deep end – but rather shown them how to approach the deep end and allowed them to make their own way. There are set boundaries so they know where they can’t go but the boundaries are wide enough that creativity and pro-activity have space to flourish. 

Most of all you have allowed positive communication, feedback, and accountability to be the orders of the day.  And that culture that you have created is escalated down in the teams that your leadership team manage.  The ideas and energy flow in both directions, and your team lead with confidence and commitment.

The end result?  Your business grows – sustainably and steadily.  Now doesn’t that sound good? 

This is the basis of our program – Team on Fire. I have seen it in action many times over the years.  Like anything that works well, it is simple but not easy to turn a low-performing leadership team into a Team on Fire.  I’d love to know your experience of growing your business – positive or not! Email me for a virtual coffee anytime on

Binoculars looking at a sunset

Looking For the Good…

I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying “to know something like the back of your hand”, right? Well, recently I’m starting to think that knowing something “like the top of your shoes” might be more appropriate!

There seem to be so many people just walking around looking at their feet and not stopping to see the good around them.

It’s like your first time going out in new shoes.

Of course, they were bought to be worn, but from the first time you step outside in them, every scuff and scrape pains you; “Not my brand-new shoes!!”

But what if, rather than dwelling on each new mark, you took a moment to stop and admire just how great they go with your outfit, just how cool you look in your shop window reflection, just how right you were to choose the white ones and not the blue pair.

As leaders, we are constantly making decisions and so always looking for the ‘what’s wrong with your team, your business, your clients’ is a sure-fire way to hold yourself back. It pays to be positive, to look for the good, in people and in life!

Look for the Good…

So, you have a top and a jacket that may as well have been made for each other, but none of the trainers you have quite go. That’s why you bought the new shoes, to cap off the perfect look. This is what positivity can do to your business!

It allows you to see what is working well (your top and jacket combo) and build on that success (the new shoes)! It gives you the drive to want to improve and embrace your team and your business and further your future ambitions.

Now you have the outfit in place, you can start looking forward to events where you can show off your new ensemble!

And this enthusiasm, this positivity, is infectious.

People see how good those new shoes look and now they want some, too!

You start to breed your own fashion trends (not something I thought I’d ever be able to say!) and you create connections within your team, and we all know how important that is for the continued success of your business!

If Not…

Well, if you don’t look for the good, you won’t find it!

All you will see are those scrapes and those scuffs, scrapes and scuffs, until you can no longer wear those shoes and, in turn, that whole outfit falls apart.

Suddenly, as a leader, you are no longer wearing the trousers in your business, but rather the sweatpants and, however comfortable you may feel in these, I don’t think anyone has ever set a trend in their loungewear!

To look for problems is to be a negative leader, and to be a negative leader is to lose all influence in your team.

It’s a fast-track to demotivating and disengaging those around you.

There is no longer a vision to build as you are still choosing between the white and blue shoes.

White or Blue? White or Blue? Scuffs and scrapes. Even I’m bored of this now! Imagine being a team member and hearing this all day, every day.

As positivity is infectious, negativity is contagious, and once you pass it on to your team, soon you are all wearing sweatpants and bemoaning those marks on your shoes!

Lift, Don’t Drift, Through Life

Staring at our feet serves no purpose but to draw us away from the good going on around us.

It is easy to drift through life, absorbed by what is happening around our shoes but, in doing so, you can lose sight of what is important.

I mean, try doing anything whilst staring down, it’s all but impossible!

Succeeding in business, especially as a leader, is hard enough as it is without blinkering yourself to see only what you don’t want to!

Just throw on what makes you feel great and go and show others just how cool you are!

Leadership is about recognising when other people have become zoned in on their own footwear and showing them that, despite this, they are looking great!

Ignoring this and letting them drift is to hold them back.

If you aren’t willing to, not only be positive with yourself, but help lift others, you may as well be filling their sweatpants’ pockets with rocks!

Leadership can be stressful, but when look for the good in your work, it makes your job a hundred times easier and, in turn, your life even more so!

So, pick your head up and take in the faces and places around you, rather than the condition of your shoes…

Team Hands

Why Your Business Can’t Grow!

I work with a lot of businesses turning over £1 – £5 million pounds who are trying to grow and finding it a struggle.  Maybe you might also be experiencing the same – your business can’t grow! The reasons why are all too often the same one!  It isn’t their product or service.  If they have got to 1 million + turnover then clearly the core offering is fine. 

Often it isn’t their marketing.  They have grown to this size through whatever sales and marketing strategy they have been using, and that has worked so far. 

And it isn’t the staffing levels – most of these companies have adequate or slightly surplus staffing, and their recruitment processes work.

No – the reason most of these businesses just can’t move above this ‘glass ceiling’ is that their teams aren’t ready.

You might be wondering what on earth I mean by this.  Maybe you haven’t considered the link between the company growth and the readiness of the team, but I assure you, it’s very real.

What are the Signs That The Team Isn’t Ready?

There are a number of signs you might have noticed in your business.  Perhaps you are doing too much or getting dragged into the technical work of the business, with no time to think strategically or put in place new operating practices.

Maybe you know your team needs to be doing more.  You wish they would step up and make more decisions instead of referring everything back to you.  They need to step up as leaders and make things happen.  They need to be able to influence, create performance and set direction. 

Moreover – YOU need help with getting them there because what you have been doing up till now hasn’t worked.  Of course, your development is critical because everything comes from the top, but as a business reaches a certain size, every single detail, every decision, and every interaction cannot originate from you. 

Your Business Won’t Grow Until Your Team Grows.

As a solopreneur, you can get your business to a certain size.  But it will never grow as big or as fast as if you have a top-performing management team in place. 

That’s a tough one to crack but it can be done.  And once your management team is performing as it should the business can easily grow to 10 x the turnover (and profits) it currently has. 

So, how do you do that?

Well, it is what I help businesses to do every day of the week, for many years.  Often it takes an outsider to be able to look objectively into what is currently happening, spot the gaps and have the arsenal of training and coaching skills to be able to make the difference, that makes the difference!

Email me on to organise a free no-obligation virtual coffee, to see if working with us could make a 10x growth impact on your business.