The Game of Teams

By Tara Nolan

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Teams are the new unit of currency in business. Harnessing the wisdom and brilliance of teams is not easy. It can be messy, confusing, non linear and complicated. Learn from your peers and thought leaders about what it takes. Listen to their stories, pains, and pride when it works. This show is about the magic of mining work and relations for high performance, satisfaction and fulfilment on teams

Episode Date
Activating the Who of You to Thrive with Alan McFarlane

Introduction:  Alan McFarlane is a Scotsman now living in Barcelona. A native of Paisley, near Glasgow, he studied law in Edinburgh before becoming a commercial litigation partner of a Top-10 Scottish law firm. His interest in business development took him in 1991 to Barcelona where he gained his bi-lingual MBA from IESE Business School before embarking on a long, global multinational career which saw him lead the design and implementation of major strategic initiatives, living and working around the world in places like France, Brazil (where he served on the Latam regional exec.) and Hungary.  Alan is a published author of two books, a book on Egypt post-revolution and the seven moments of coaching published by IESE. Alan collaborates with IESE, Timoney Leadership Institute in Ireland and Human Content, the cutting edge of understanding personality in the workplace. This is the focus of our conversation today. 


Podcast episode Summary:  Human Content is at the cutting edge of understanding personality in the workplace. Alan McFarlane works with Human Content and over the course of our conversation across this podcast he brings to life the potential, the human potential, housed in this body of work, a potential that often goes untapped. Alan illuminates what the instrument, B5+ aims to measure, why it is different from other more commonly known instruments and what can be achieved when this human potential is activated. 

Points made throughout the Episode: 


  • The fundamental drivers for Alan include Freedom & exploration for creativity. 

  • As part of his journey into this work Alan shares a story from his past. As a then 16 year old in Paisley Grammar School, Alan won a competition, having come from “the back of the field”, for writing, The Reed Prize for English.

  • Alan explains that because there was a large element of creative writing in the challenge he won over the more scholarly classmates. 

  • It was well known at the time that Alan was going to study law but after winning this prize no one reflected or guided Alan differently. 

  • Studying Law in Edinburgh University proved to be a complete mismatch. He shares that by his second year of study he was down or depressed and the saving grace for him was a membership to the film society at University. This membership allowed him to consume 8/9 films a week and that was his creative escape. 

  • He graduated after 5 years and went on to pursue his apprenticeship and again there was no guidance or self-reflection to wonder if that was the right thing to do. 

  • Another “saving grace” for Alan, in an ill-fitting career,  proved to be his involvement with the marketing committee at his then law firm. KPMG were brought in to help the firm with a reorganisation and strategy and they challenged Alan on his personal goals and he realised he did not want to be a practicing lawyer anymore. 

  • That decision back in 1991,took Alan to Spain where he applied to IESE Business school to undertake an MBA- his best subjects proving to be organisational behaviour, Leadership Communication and Business Strategy. Alan self-confesses to have been blind to the activation in him by of his strength in these subjects and joined an Insurance Company in Spain after his MBA. 

  • Alan is not ordered structured or planful notwithstanding the career choices he made in his career 

  • Tomas Lovenskiold, the CEO of Human Content advised Alan to leave his employ when his role was being redirected. He told him to “get out” take the check this is not you. Despite this advice Alan stayed. 

  • A terminal disease for Alan’s father in law proved to be the lucky break Alan needed. The silver lining from this episode in Alan’s life proved to be liberation. Alan used the back In Scotland to write his first book and to get in touch with his fundamental drivers. 

  • Various collaborations later and a meeting with bureau chief of Africa, based in Cairo, of the NYT, Declan Walsh meant that for Alan he finally got in touch with his own fundamental drivers

  • Meeting Declan meant that Alan met someone who probably held his ideal role, creative writing exploration and freedom to live and write in many countries. Alan recognised this role could have been for him if he had known or if he had been guided differently. It took 35 years before Alan was matched to his ideal career.

  • Alan is now passionate to expand the knowledge of the Body of Knowledge that is Human Content so that people can be activated to pursue their true potential. 

  • Alan would like to see a way where people, at 18 or earlier could be given a way to understand their fundamental drivers. The problem is that these drivers, consider them rocks on the ocean floor, are often masked by the expectations of others, situations, social norms, peer  groups or job approximations. You need some way to clear the waves and see the fundamental drivers. 

  • Human Content is a complete fit with Alan’s drivers. Human Content is the evolution of the Big Five Factor Model. Alan describes the evolution from the Big Five Factor Analysis 

  • Alan names the modern labels for the Five Factors, two which relate to People factors 1 & 2, one where people draw energy from either their inner world or outer world and the other which measures how much people are naturally more compassionate and caring for people or more fact focused & outcome focused, making sure stuff is done at the right time. The next two factors, 3 & 5, style of work area, these include preferences on how we do things and preferences on how we think about things. The final factor measures factor number four measures emotional energy, where people are more present or absent. 

  • Human Content is strident to say both side of any factor need to be regarded in equal light. There is no right or wrong way to be. The earlier use of the Big Five Factor model was biased in terms of the right hand side of the factor scales and  measures. 

  • To be fully activated means a person’s needs to find a role or career which aligns with the picture created the B5-PLUS  instrument (Given the context in which a person sits) 

  • Knowing your fundamental drivers opens up the possibility for a person to tactically manage themselves at work. 

  • The scientific approach adopted by Human Content makes it significantly different from other better known instruments such as MYERS BRIGGS, DiSC and Insights. This scientific analysis recognises the uniqueness of each human being. Other instruments are too simple. People are extraordinarily complex and Human Content endeavours to recognise the difference. 

  • Personality Research is a largely underdeveloped area and the legacy instruments served a genuine purpose to raise awareness about the differences between people. They did not go far enough in Alan’s opinion and he explains why. 

  • Human Content is a well-kept secret because the legacy tools are well established and well publicised. 

  • The precision of the outcome that is possible with B5-PLUS makes it attractive for organisational performance. It can drive employee engagement, You can clearly see the fundamental drivers for an individual. The fully explored factor analysis against a normed grouping gives much more exactness for role matching etc. 

  • Growth Potential, Employee Engagement, Motivation and Understanding are some of the benefits that come from using B5+ as an instrument of choice. 

  • The B5+-PLUS Instrument can be used to support team ambitions, understanding the needed fundamental drivers to succeed. 

  • By taking the B5+-PLUS instrument a team discovers not only their individual fundamental drivers but also the nuances between them and the combination effects which means that they will have certain implications for how they are in the work place. This will have implications for what they enjoy doing and what they do well together and how they will interact together, smoothly or roughly. 

  • Alan illustrates the impact of the B5-PLUS  instrument by way of a case study. B5-PLUS was used for 450 employees after a CEO decided to do a comprehensive role analysis and reformation. The employees were allowed to self-select their roles as a consequence of the rewrite using the analysis from the B5+ instrument. Customer Satisfaction as a key indicator for this firm went from 53% to 86%

  • In another example this time from Norway, Alan shares a story about a hospital where the sickness rate was at 26%- 26% of all levels of the employee base at any one time were not available. The B5-PLUS  was deployed. People were allowed to be re-matched, where jobs or at a minimum tasks were readjusted or where people were reallocated to different departments. In four months after this work was completed the sickness rate fell to 2%

  • Societal prejudice can blind us to the potential as expressed in certain kinds of personality or expressions of them. There is bias to seeing certain aspects of the personality spectrum as favourable. 

  • Alan advocates that we take the B5-PLUS instrument and then acknowledge what is found. He asks that people acknowledge their fundamental drivers, embrace them and then exploit them for greater satisfaction in life. 

  • Alan adeptly answers my question regarding the need often for people to wear multiple hats, say for example in a gig economy. 

  • He also helped me be curious about a particular client of mine using the terminology of the B5-PLUS instrument and asked a couple of very pertinent questions that I can now explore with her at a future date. 

  • The B5-PLUS is distinctive because of its precision as a instrument. It measures 5 personality factors and the facets that accompanies them in a manner that no other instrument does. There is a fully explored factorial analysis of the factors and facets, an order of analysis on personality that has never been done before. 

  • The factor analysis, the design and process involved in B5+ makes it an instrument that is unique and helps others see their uniqueness too. 

  • Alan uses his formula or 3 word frame, Acknowledge, Embrace and Exploit to encourage others to become aware of the contents of their individual B5+ report and to act on It. 

  • The precision of this instrument allows you to confidently predict performance in the way that other instruments do not. Again this instrument can be used for recruitment and promotion that other legacy instruments advise cannot. 

  • Alan used the last few minutes of this podcast to wish that individuals and teams at work could have their uniqueness recognised, and through that recognition for employers to make a conscious effort to match that persons uniqueness to their roles to make people, happy, satisfied fulfilled motivated & fully activated & for the employer to reap fantastic performance and growth. 

Resources mentioned across this podcast 


  • B5-PLUS Product from Human Content

  • B5-PLUS personality assessment from Human Content



  • Novaturia Global SL,


  • The Seven Moments of Coaching by Alan McFarlane 

  • Egypt’s Thousand Days of Revolution by Alexander Murray (my pen name)


May 03, 2023
What Bothers Us about Supervision with Tracy Bertran, Michele White, Traci Manalani, Larissa Thurlow

Introduction:  Tracy Bertran, Michele White, Traci Manalini and Larissa Thurlow are all executive coaches, team coaches, individual and group supervisors offering diverse and extensive experience in the fields of learning and adult development. 

Podcast episode Summary:  This podcast discusses the often-misunderstood topic of Supervision, how it serves coaches and team coaches and how it is distinctive from Mentoring and Therapy.  To fully appreciate the value of Supervision in the field of professional coaching this episode explores the evocative question: what bothers us about Supervision. 

Points made throughout the Episode: 


  • Tracy Bertran PCC, kicked this conversation off by sharing how she came to Supervision. It was an integral part of her Coach Training. She confesses that supervision and its value went off her radar once she finished her Coach training. Larissa Thurlow came to supervision slightly later in her professional career. Larissa was doing lots of training & exposure to team coaching and felt something was missing. She learnt about Supervision, still was not completely sure what she was getting into and then found its value. 

  • Traci Manalini picks up the thread about not really know what you are going into by virtue of Supervision and shares that a colleague found that Supervision made him better as a Coach. Intrigued Traci explored more and found many to be of the same opinion. Supervision supports you to become a better Coach. For Michele White Supervision brings her back to herself and who she wants to be as a Coach. Like Tracy Bertran, Michele came back to supervision after a while and trained to become a trained Supervisor mainly because she wanted to become a better reflective Coach and from there her supervision practice grew. 

  • In addition to becoming a better reflective Coach, Supervision offers more. It provides illumination that extends to the whole of the system. Supervision helps to normalise our practice. It helps to see better and see again. 

  • The title of this podcast is called what bothers us about Supervision and Traci Manalini shares that what bothers her is that people really do not understand what Supervision is as an offering. The word itself, Supervision, has so many preconceptions about what it is. Often people assume it has something to do with a power dynamic, where the Supervisor is “overseeing” someone’s work. This puts an extra emphasise on education to support people unlearn their perceptions about what it is. It ends up that people do not understand what Supervision is and the close their minds to the possibilities it affords. 

  • Tracy Bertran adds that what bothers her is the confusion between Supervision and Mentoring. Some treat the two modalities as interchangeable as if the names are simply semantic preferences. In addition to this confusion what bothers Tracy is the amount of supervision being undertaken by Coaches. Only about 50% are actively engaged in the practice of regular supervision. Professional Rigour is at question. 

  • It makes Tracy sad given the fact that there is so much to be gained by undertaking Supervision. The opportunity to look at behaviours, thoughts feelings, patterns, systems etc is provided. Supervision allow coaches to build mastery as opposed to the acquisition of new knowledge. Supervision can be transformational. 

  • Michele White builds on the feelings of sadness by sharing that she feels sad because Individual or Team Coaches do not experience the joy of Supervision & the depth of Supervision. She queries the ethical nature of the Coaching Profession if supervision is absent. This asks the question about the responsibility of the Professional Bodies to make supervision mandatory. It would appear they are tentative, not mandating supervision or enough supervision. Larissa Thurlow adds that there is an inconsistency at play if we as coaches are asking our clients to be vulnerable and yet we are not doing the same. If we are supposed to be thinking partners with clients who are we partnering with to stretch and expand our capacities, in thinking, seeing and ways of being. 

  • Larissa turns the word “bother” on its head to suggest that increasingly we are bothered about taking up Supervision. She recognises the difference between when she first started out and people thought she had a number of heads talking about Supervision and now where it is being talked about. 

  • What bothers Coaches and Team Coaches about Supervision? We have to appreciate that adopting Supervision is a change. It is a fundamental difference to how Coaches, at least in North America have been practicing. Maybe there is a perception by Coaches that they are being put upon by having to accept Supervision as part of their practice, especially if it is seen as mandatory. If coaches are labouring under the assumption that they have been practicing individual coaching and team coaching for ages and could write the book they might be assuming there is nothing to be learnt by going to Supervision. Without understanding there is every chance the imposition of Supervision could feel heavy handed. 

  • Tracy Bertran adds that Supervision can be exposing. You have to be vulnerable enough to expose things about your practice to allow Supervision to be enacted. You can feel vulnerable amongst your peers and it cannot be forgotten that Supervision allows you space to celebrate as well to share successes and interventions that worked. 

  • We can be brought to the of our thinking, our comfort zone our feelings of safety and right to the edge of where we need to go to invite learning. Supervision can be in equal measure scary and brilliant. 

  • Traci adds that often Team Coaches will deselect themselves from Group Supervision believing they are not yet experienced enough or have enough cases. This can also mean premature judgement by coaches that they will not add enough value. 

  • Judgement about experience, whether you are too experienced or inexperienced can confuse the potential value of Supervision when coaches fixate on the relative exchange they will experience. 

  • The differences in experience could be handled in the set up by Supervisors as Michele explains. We need to be careful not to engineer the set up too much. We too can make erroneous assumptions about what might work. It is both and. 

  • It is very likely that protective defences are being exercised by Individual and Team Coaches in the space of Supervision. This begs the question how can we help as Supervisors? 

  • Traci Manalini offers that when talking about different experiences or levels of coaches and number of cases they can or cannot offer etc might mean we have to accept the differences and not over engineer the set up. As a parallel Teams, very often do not chose their team colleagues. 

  • Having 1:1 Conversations is one step that support the development of care and safety, the next might include the norms we create in a group to ensure reciprocity etc. 

  • There is another parallel going on with respect to group Coaching. Tracy suggests that if you think about Team Coaching, team coaches are looking at the wisdom of the team and the same is true of Group Supervision. The learning in relation you get in group Supervision is similar to the process of surfacing the intelligence that resides on teams. 

  • Michele notices her own resistance the mention of hours and the nominal value of 5 hours to be undertaken by Team Coaches if they chose to become certified. She questions whether 5 hours is enough. 5 hours is simply nothing for a team coach. 

  • Tracy had a similar allergic reaction as Michele to the mention of 5 hours. For Tracy it is another “bother about Supervision” The more team Coaching Tracy engages with the more Team Coaching Supervision she needs. It serves as a restorative place a place where she can get professional reassurance. 

  • If we think about Supervision providing Normative, Formative and Restorative resources this is especially true with Team Coaching. 

  • As Larissa puts herself in the shoes of Coaches and Team Coaches she opines that it is often the case that Supervisors extol the virtues of Supervision. For Larissa naming 5 hours to support certification is serving a purpose and it is getting Supervision recognised. 

  • Supervision is an investment in time and money and that could potentially bother Coaches as well. 

  • Tracy would love the 5 hours to be an introductory taster to Supervision so that people could experience its value and wonder how they could have lived without it in the first place. 

  • It would appear that as Supervisors, guests to the GOT podcast, that a threshold has been crossed to appreciate the value of Supervision. How can coaches and team coaches be communicated to in a way that makes the crossing so much easier? What can be said on this podcast to help people imagine what we are experiencing? 

  • Traci suggests “to try it” to give Supervision a try and maybe not just once. Most of her practice, at least 90% have suggested that Supervision has been transformative. 

  • Michele shares a story to help illuminate the potency of Supervision. What Michele was feeling and brought to Supervision was a belief “am I good enough” What she learnt in Supervision was that she was carrying this belief on the part of the team. It was not hers to own. In fact each of the executives in her case was feeling really challenged and each of them in differing ways were questioning whether they were up to the challenge.  A parallel process was revealed.

  • Tracy is pretty sure that each of us and anyone who has attended group supervision about their team practice will have been asked “what belongs to you and what belongs to the system?’ Larissa further adds to the same theme by describing how two coaches who operated as Co-Coaches both came to the realisation in Group Supervision that what they thought was about them as a dynamic or as a duo and around which they were stuck was actually the stickiness of the system. Having a place to get unstuck helped them see what they had to do to help the team get unstuck. 

  • One way to distinguish between Mentoring and Supervision is to appreciate the different language used in both. In Supervision psychological phenomenon such as Parallel process, transference and counter transference are often used terms. Supervision is the art of looking at systems and calling out complex patterns and concerns. Mentoring is more about the acquisition of skills and competencies. 

  • Coaching and Mentoring can often be about goals and achievement whereas Supervision is often a place holder for the unknown, that which wants to emerge. It’s often about “kicking the tyres” looking at cases from different angles or looking awry. Supervision is akin to theory U which speaks to sensing and allowing for emergence. 

  • Some knotty issues can present in Supervision. Relations and team dynamics invariably surface in Supervision, especially when you think about the many interdependencies  on Teams. Entanglements is often a theme. 

  • Contracting is or seems to be a fairly typical topic that presents in Supervision “All roads lead to contracting. System Patterns is another. Often difficult to see in the moment and very often surfaced in Supervision. 

  • To be able to see the very many complex dynamics and pattern on teams is the territory of Supervision.

  • Roles come up a lot in Supervision as well. The role of the Team Coach, the seduction to assume responsibility to fix the team is often a conundrum to be seen. The proclivity of Team Coaches to be sucked into the team, to assume a role on the team or to become enmeshed is often a theme to be explored in Supervision. 

  • Money and people willing to invest in themselves is the unspoken elephant in the room. It bothers Traci that so many coaches, team coaches and often Supervisors question their own value and so do not invest in this magical offer. 

  • The podcast conversation comes full circle to explore the vexating temptation by coaches to invest more in the acquisition of knowledge and skills than in their personal professional development and reflective practice as coaches. 

  • Michele wonders if there also a need to educate our Clients as well.  Michele is provocative and asks, how many of us as Coaches put at the top of our credentials the fact that we are in regular supervision? 

  • Michele acknowledges that she might have ceased the “grabbing” of more courses in favour of Supervision but she has not mentioned that in her credentials. 

  • Tracy hopes that coaches embrace supervision as an integral part of their practice. Larissa shares this hope and adds that she hopes for more research, to provide an evidence based rationale for Supervision. Traci was really struck by the word integration used across the podcast and her hope is that coaches integrate their knowledge and skill acquired in Supervision. Michele would love everyone to experience Supervision for the depth, joy and resourcing it provides

Ways to get in touch with my four Guests 


  1. Tracy Bertran, PCC, Director of Mu Team Brilliance

  2. Michele White, Owner People & Development LTD,

  3. Traci Manalani, MA, PCC, ACTC & rebel with a cause, Principal of Practical Solutions for Sustainable change.

  4. Larissa Thurlow,


Mar 01, 2023
Quiet Quitting with Agnieszka Wolinska

Introduction:  Agnieszka Wolinska-Skuza is CEO of MasConsulting. She is an experienced strategic consultant with a background in top management consulting in Corporations. Agnieszka from the Warsaw School of Economics & gained her PhD in Economics from the University of Westminster in London, Trinity College London. Agnieszka is the author of the book The ART of Changing Your Mindset. Agnieszka recently moved to Barcelona where she lives with her husband and two children. 

Podcast episode Summary:  This podcast discusses the important topic of Quiet Quitting, a phenomenon that is not new but has gained increasing interest and concern post the Pandemic. Agnieszka shares how pervasive Quiet Quitting is and what Leaders need to become to address this pernicious concern and to focus decisively on people. Much has to do with Mindset, the mindset around leadership, growth supporting a robust culture and responsibility. 

Points made throughout the Episode: 

  • Agnieszka entered came into this field by observing organisations in the process of change using her background in business consulting. She observed a lot of issues with Productivity, Retention and Mental Health issues post-Pandemic including of course geo-political and social crisis & high inflation together having a profound impact on workforce strategy 

  • Quiet Quitting is a complex topic that Agnieszka has been investigating for a long time. It is not a new phenomenon but before it did not get the attention it is receiving today. 

  • Quiet quitting presents in different ways making it complex to observe and detect. It impacts many elements of the business including a powerful retention strategy. 

  • Quiet Quitting can be defined as a phenomenon where you can observe that people are disengaged at work, where people are losing motivation, losing focus, uneven participation by withholding and detaching psychologically from the job. Employees can refuse more tasks & question why it is important to work hard. 

  • Quiet Quitting can be simply described as a change in Engagement 

  • The critical characteristics of high performing Leaders & their teams and how much mindset influences how they are managed. Mindset is critical for Leaders and in particular having a Growth Mindset. 

  • A Growth Mindset predisposes leaders to create a healthy culture of accountability, that drives business growth. Leaders with a Growth Mindset see opportunities within their teams, they look for possibility, they don’t hide believing all efforts have been wasted and they do not blame others. 

  • Leaders who lead with a Growth Mindset make every effort to accelerate their teams growth even in times of crisis. 

  • So leading with a Growth Mindset is critical if you chose to create a team that is pro-active, creative and solution focused. 

  • Exceptional Leaders know & appreciate they have to consciously grow their skills and the skills of their teams. Strong passion, energy and a vision for growth inspires others to be part of business growth and success. 

  • To adopt a Growth Mindset you have to interrogate your beliefs, thoughts and feelings and in order to assume a growth mindset you have to believe in the possibility for growth, to look opportunistically and to be focused energetically. You won’t be minded to blame the situation but be oriented to search for solutions. 

  • You can always find a way forward if you look for possibility and solutions. If you have a fixed mindset the likelihood is that you will give up and retreat, you will always blame the situation and people and you will likely lose people. 

  • Given how tired and exhausted Leaders and people are after the pandemic the question becomes one of asking how to try to do more with a more positive energy. 

  • People are valuing their time differently and so if they observe that their leaders are not behaving positively they will put distance between them and what they esteem to be toxic leadership. 

  • Focus and being deliberate or intentional about what work means today, giving people a new sense of belonging are ways to help retain people. 

  • After the Pandemic people have come to value their time differently. They are focused on how they spend their time and the quality of that investment. 

  • So quiet quitting is really about changing in engagement -Engagement is a kind of choice. You can chose to engage or to withdraw. 

  • A culture that engages people could look like improvements in the ways flexibility is offered to work, a re-focus on purpose and an acknowledgement that empathy is required. 

  • Leaders also need to look at time, their relationship to time, engagement and their choice of Leadership 

  • Leaders are feeling the pressure of change, of market forces of their work loads and their own mental health. Important for Leaders to mind their mental health to be able to share their energy & empathy with others. 

  • There is an onus on Leaders to monitor their state of mind. If you lose your energy and it impacts your capacity to be empathetic people will feel this and be equally impacted. 

  • State of mind is everything and it is an everyday occupation. If you want to have a strong mindset you need to feed your mind every day.

  • How does Quiet Quitting show up? No one will tell you as a Leader that quiet quitting has become a phenomenon in your organisation but you can begin to observe behaviours and be curious. Isolation, participating less, valuing time differently are the hidden signs that something in the culture is amiss. This amounts to disengagement at work. Others signs include becoming less available for mandatory meetings or less volunteering for social events or even not answering emails promptly or as before. 

  • Gallup has for years now being reporting on engagement at work. Statistics consistently slight poor levels of engagement at work at around 33%. Quiet Quitting is not knew and so how can Leaders be more bothered about their approaches? 

  • It is important to remember the power dynamic at work and Leaders have a disproportionate amount of power available to them and this power can be used to energise the work force. 

  • Wellbeing, retention strategies, upskilling etc are all tools which if employed can make the job of workers more fulfilling. How do Leaders help their teams see this perspective together. They have to re-think how to engage teams in this work as well. 

  • There needs to a recognition that people are valuing their time differently and they have talent that can be deployed. This requires new thinking, new methods of approach and more proactivity on the part of Leaders and teams. 

  • It could be advantageous to start asking and questioning the employee base for their new thinking, to hear their obstacles and concerns and to find solutions together. 

  • It is one thing to conduct exit interviews and hear the missing factors that precipitated a leave and another to engage earlier to understand how an organisations atmosphere could be improved. 

  • Being explicit about the business, business performance, the standard you are respecting, the values you are honouring and the ethics by which you are operating are all features that could make a difference to employees to hear. 

  • If Leaders chose to take a critical look at their culture and to institute change they need to go back to the fundamentals and examine their values. Open and transparent dialogue is required along with perhaps a modicum of vulnerability by the leader- asking for help for example. 

  • As a Leader if you sense there are issues with your culture with Quiet Quitting don’t hide. 

  • Changing Culture requires that the effort be shared,  where joint responsibility for the success is owned collectively. This can happen if the right atmosphere is created and there are no negative consequences for speaking up or sharing ideas. 

  • Quiet Quitting and a lack of psychological safety are probably pretty close cousins which suggests that there is a large gap to address to course correct. It doesn’t mean it is impossible to recover especially if the right attitude is employed and Leaders can admit that they missed information. 

  • The Pandemic has more than likely contributed to Quiet Quitting and the opportunity to catch creeping disillusionment when people were working from home and on screens. 

  • To start adopt a Growth Mindset. Find out what are the limiting beliefs and obstacles on teams. Lack of trust for example is a limiting belief, or the idea that if people work remotely they will not be productive. Leaders might resist, by micro managing etc. this instead of looking for alternative solutions. 

  • Accepting the phenomenon of hybrid working, accepting that people have a changed relationship to time could result in some constructive new norms that everyone can agree. 

  • Leaders often underestimate their success in creating conditions of belonging for example believing they are doing a better job than others judge them to be doing. 

  • Deloitte research has found considerable discrepancies or disconnect between how a Leader perceives their effort and how an employee experiences it. Only 56% of employees believe a company’s executives  cares about their wellbeing whereas the same executives score themselves 91% 

  • Leaders have to be aware of theses gaps in perception as cited by Deloitte and start with manageable strategies to narrow these gaps. 

  • Agnieszka suggests starting by setting clear expectations for teams, asking questions about working hours, and reasonableness in terms of those same expectations. There is often a large gap between expectations and realism. 

  • Role clarity, growth opportunities and expectations are subjects or topics that are often not clear & require conversation. Are we clear about the many limiting beliefs and obstacles that sit on teams? Does the team feel connected to the Organisations Purpose? 

  • Start with a diagnostic and get a base line understanding of where people are, knowing it might be hard to digest but recognising that this is a process and a start. 

  • Agnieszka’s book covers 12 areas in business and in life that are important. Her book is about transformational change in each of this areas. To help she teaches her readers at the start of her book how to adopt a Growth Mindset. Change for the subsequent chapters is made easier by using this particular lens. 

  • Agnieszka also talks about our Comfort Zone and notices how important this is for Quiet Quitting too. She encourages us to move outside of our comfort zone to deal with Quiet Quitting. It might appear as hard work at first but it can also be very rewarding. 

  • If Leaders are willing to put themselves outside of their comfort zone they should not resist Quiet Quitting but instead take actions to minimise it, investigate and ask probing questions to do with the company’s purpose, structure, conditions etc. 

  • Leaders need to create the space for employees to be part of the solution. If they hold on to solving the surfaced issues by themselves they are in fact engaging in a fixed mindset and likely disenchant further. 

  • People are happy to share their thoughts, ideas etc if they see it can yield value. 

  • Agnieszka’s final request to listeners and Leaders is to focus on people 


Resources shared across this conversation


Feb 15, 2023
Teamness at the Top with Prof. Anneloes Raes

Introduction: Anneloes Raes is Professor in the Department of Managing People in Organisations and holder of the PUIG Chair of Global Leadership Development as IESE. She holds a PhD in Organisational Behaviour from Maastricht University and an MA in Psychology at the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands.  Anneloes’s research has been published in academic journals such as the Academy of Management Review, The Journal of Applied Psychology, Human Relations and Small Group Work. Her research has also featured in press outlets such as the Financial Times and La Vanguardia. Anneloes lives in Barcelona with her Husband and two young boys. 


Podcast Episode Summary Teamness at the Top is not as prevalent as one might expect. Only 21-30% of teams across the globe can satisfy the elements that describe a real team.   The world of today and tomorrow asks that organisations can solve complex and wicked problems. That becomes possible if teams are able to mine the collective wisdom of teams, collaborate and share information so the best strategic decisions can be made. Anneloes illuminates what needs to shift to make this phenomenon a reality for top teams. 


Points made over the episode

  • Anneloes started this podcast by describing her journey into this field of work. Her interest in this field started by way of her research for her PhD at Maastricht. Her formative studies in Psychology meant she was already interested in the interpersonal dynamics between people. Very early on she got the opportunity as part of her studies to sit in on the discussions of a board. 
  • That experience shaped her thinking about top management teams. The reality of top teams making strategic decisions, sharing information together and collaborating well together is often far from what you might expect. These teams like others comprise human beings with all of their flaws and differing perspectives. 
  • Team Based Leadership at the top is as crucial as it is the requirement for effective teams across the organisation, even when often people wonder if it is feasible or possible. When we look at organisational life we appreciate that so much of its success is dependent on teams and collaboration.  It is true too that we accept that we can achieve more together by way of the diversity and also the complementarity of team members, knowing that and especially where the work is too complex to do by an individual the default is team. 
  • The work at the top is particularly complex with a high volume of task and uncertainty. 
  • It is almost hard to understand that top teams would not work as a team. 
  • We expect our leaders to be role models and we expect everyone in the organisation to be team players, how is it then that a top team can get away with not being a team? 
    • Real opportunity for the top team to exemplify real team work, given the need to solve complex problems and model behaviour for the rest of the organisation. 
  • Why then does it not prevail? There are many different versions of team work that top teams  aspire or desire. It is not as binary as either or dilemma. There are degrees of teamness. There is also the real possibility that members of the team have very different perspectives of the order of teamwork required. 
  • Anneloes work takes an evidence based approach. In her research she found 3 significant reasons why a Top Team might choose better teamness


  1. Strategic Decision Making at the Top; The Executive take better decisions by combining more and diverse perspectives. It is important to have a good process in place to combine these perspectives. 
  2. Organisation Stability & Executive Sustainability -Being at the top of an organisation is a very demanding job. Operating in a truly functioning team can provide a lot of support. We say for a reason “its lonely at the top”  sharing the load of responsibility and creating a system of social support can mitigate this felt loneliness. It also makes sense when you consider the current focus on mental health and wellness and the increased openness to expressing vulnerability and concerns by employees in general.  The great man theory of Leadership is the oldest perspective on Leadership and one that is slowly being overturned for greater and greater degrees of peer executives teams. True teamness doesn’t come from scratch it requires effort even with the most benign of Leaders who welcome a strong leadership team around them. Time together & the maintenance of a well-functioning team needs investment. 
  3. Setting the Tone at the Top. What are the implications for others in the organisation by way of the behaviours exhibited by the top team? The outcomes, decisions and types of conversation held at the top, how the team interacts their style, the unity they do or do not espouse all has an impact on others in the organisation. Anneloes took a real interest in this area and the relationship between the tone set from the top and the organisational climate. She expanded on this research to wonder about the implications this same tone had on employee wellness. 

There is a powerful cascading affect between the behaviour at the top and how it trickles down into the rest of the organisation. Empirical studies show strong connections and can refute the natural scepticism that might prevail to wonder if boardroom conversations behind closed doors can impact individuals who never come into contact with those same leaders. The tide is turning and in favour of this focus, where employees are now considered an incredibly important stakeholder about whom the top team needs to be responsible. 

  • Top Management cannot assume that their conversations behind closed doors remain just that, behind closed doors. The conversation leaks out and has an impact on employees. 
  • Teamness at the top  needs a variety of support and structuring in terms of time , relationship management and task completion as well as external professional help. 
  • 8 hours together in terms of relationship equity is a good start and top teams need to be able to manage the distractions that could impose on or collapse the time focused on building relations even when teams do not have the vocabulary, comfort etc.. 
  • We could collapses the notion of what it means to work and appreciate the importance of collaboration and relations and it does not have to be so difficult. Teams do not have to get too worked up about how “it should be” and run the risk of being discouraged because they cannot achieve relationship excellence. 
  • Don Hambrick has designed an assessment for Management Teams that can be used to assess the Teamness of Top Teams. This assessment tool has a series of questions in three dimensions; Joint Decision Making, Information Exchange and Collaborative Behaviour. It is a very practical check list that top teams can use for conversation and contracting. It is also a very useful tool by which a team can explore different perspectives held on the team
  • Anneloes refers back to the team she observed while she was researching for her PhD. She recalls how ably the team were to align their calendars and offer support to each other. 
  • Teamness at the top is often stymied or hampered by the mindset that is held by the members of the top team. The idea of a strong one Captain on a ship notion gets in the way of real teamness. The real fear that the people on the team will get into conflict if they try to become a real team. Similarly the fear that the team will take forever to make decisions or does not have the accountability to do so are other reasons why top teams might stay shy of becoming a real team. 
  • These fears are often valid as Team Work is not necessarily easy or even in all cases a good thing. Group think for example is a risk or trap teams fall into when they do not want conflict. On balance these concerns are held in the minds of Leaders but don’t necessarily play out in reality. Good process management for teams can prevent some of these perceived risks. 
  • Being explicit about the teams mindset, their level of awareness, the common goals they want to achieve are ways that invite dialogue and help teams get into action as a team. 
  • Having a common purpose, a why, can put the need for team into perspective and help the Top Team navigate what might initially be awkward conversations, fears etc. 
  • Anneloes’ suggests a team can start by creating a common understanding of where the team is and where it wants to go. She uses the checklist mentioned above with the three dimensions, Joint Decision Marking, Information Exchange and Collaboration to discover with the team where they might against each dimension. It helps to have a common vocabulary. Anneloes is fully aware that of course there are so many more dimensions by which to asses a team for example in terms of interpersonal relations etc. but this check list serves as a starting point.
  • Facilitating discussions, putting in place learning mindsets and creating the conditions for a safe space to express perspectives always in service of the collective goal are some of the processes Anneloes employs with Top Teams. 
  • Having a discussion to really bottom out & understand what is the Tops Teams collective goal and what the strategic priorities is an important & relevant discussion. 
  • Having the “What” we are here to do and the “How” we are going to get there along with a learning mindset, appreciating there will be hurdles along the way and it is a journey,  can advance the Top Team on a good level of Teamness. 
  • The future of work would be better served in Anneloes’s opinion if teams and individuals alike had a better mindset around collaboration. The idea of a One Man Leader is very limiting to address the complexities of our world.  


Resources Mentioned Across this Episode


  1. IESE Business School
  2. The “Teamness” of Top Teams based on Hambrick, 1994, Simesek et al., 2005 and Raes et al., 2013
  3. “Many Leaders, however are ambivalent about teams. They fear overt conflict, tunnel vision, lack of accountability and indifference to the interests of the organisation as a whole” ….their fear of delegating -losing control-reinforces the stereotype of the heroic leader who handles it all.”

Manfred Kets De Vries, 2020  


Feb 01, 2023
We are never not in mood with Bernard Desmidt

Introduction: Bernard Desmidt is an accomplished Coach, Facilitator, Speaker and Author. His first book is called; Inside Out Leadership: How to master the 4 Principles of Effective Leadership and become the Leader that others will follow. His second book is called: Team Better Together. Bernard was born in South Africa and he lived there until he was 38 and then he emigrated to Australia where he now lives with his wife and children. 


Podcast Episode Summary “Moods are the most contagious phenomenon known to humans. We are biologically, inescapably emotional beings – everything we do, is because of the mood we’re in. Each day we are called to deal with unanticipated interruptions and interferences - breakdowns to our habitual rhythm of life. Breakdowns can be both positive and negative - winning the lotto vs losing one's job. Our resourcefulness to adapt and deal with our breakdowns, is a function of the mood we choose to live and lead from. Moods are ‘spaces of possibility’; they can predispose us to limited or infinite possibilities for action” Bernard Desmidt. 

This episode speaks to the domain of learning called Moods. 


Points made over the episode

  • Bernard starts this podcast by reminding us of his background and the Mood of life in South Africa that shaped him and then helped him appreciate the gift  & wonder of South Africa. 
  • Bernard began to appreciate the potency of moods through lived experience. 
  • Growing up in South Africa and living through Apartheid, Bernard recalls the moods of despair and anger as a “white child” living a privileged life by contrast to other children around him. 
  • 85% of Black South Africans lived in abject poverty, pain & abject cruelty. Bernard remembers his anger at the injustices and his feeling of powerless to do anything about his experience.
  • It took Bernard a while to legitimise his heritage and to come to appreciate the other side of anger & despair to appreciate the wonder of South Africa. 
  • 3 African expressions inform his way of being and working today 
  • Sibona -a Zulu word for hello, which means “I see you and by seeing you, I bring you into being. By seeing each other is this way we hold each other with respect, dignity and legitimacy- The mood is deep acceptance of who you are. 
  • Ubuntu- Means we are because you are & because you are definitely I am. This serves to affirm an others humanity, by recognising their uniqueness and their differences. This expression acknowledges our interconnectedness-The Mood of Gratitude embodies this expression. 
  • Hambi Gashi – means “Go well, gently in peace and travel safely- The Mood is of deep care and Compassion. 
  • We exist as Human Beings in 3 domains. Language, Moods & Emotions and The Body. At its essence this trinity distinguishes human beings from any other living form. 
  • Moods are fundamental to our existence yet we are mood illiterate. 
  • Daniel Goldman brought us information about Emotional Intelligence and EI at its core is about mood awareness. 
  • We are never not in mood & all moods serve us until they don’t. Example Frustration. What is frustration taking care of? What is it guiding us towards. Moods are signposts. The mood of frustration is signposting that I am not feeling heard or understood. 
  • The mood of anger is a signpost to feeling taken advantage of. Use the energy housed in frustration or anger to access what is missing. 
  • Emotions are energies that move us. 
  • The mood of anxiety is letting us know that we might come to harm. The mood of curiosity is signposting us to our openness to learn. 
  • Alan Sieler, Fernando Flores, Miriam Greenspan and for me Julio Olalla were all teachers of the distinctions of Moods. 
  • There are six moods of life & Moods manifest in language. The language act of assessments illicit moods that predispose us to action. In resentment I am preoccupied with seeking revenge. 
  • There are two linguistic acts that are fundamental to the understanding of the manifestation of moods. Assessments and Declarations. Generally when we are in assessment there are 3 categories of assessment that we make. Facticity, Possibility and Uncertainty. There are two declarations we generally make. Oppose and Accept. If we plot assessments on the horizontal axis and declarations on the vertical axis we can plot these 6 universal moods. Resentment, Acceptance, Resignation, Ambition, Anxiousness and Wonder. 
  • Bernard goes through each of these moods sharing their predispositions for action 
  • In the first category of assessment is for  facticity; we can either oppose the facticity and live in Resentment or accept the facticity and embrace acceptance. 
  • The mood of acceptance is the gateway to living a fulfilled life. It is the highest order of mood. Grief for example is refusing the facticity of death. When we move into acceptance we meet the mood of sadness for our loss. 
  • The second category of assessment is for possibility. Opposing the possibility for change leads to resignation. This is a toxic organisational mood. We are predisposed to look to whom to blame and or find reasons why things cannot happen. You cannot flourish in resignation you can only flounder. The acceptance of what is possible elicits the mood of ambition. 
  • Bernard shares the example of Pfizer and Astra Zeneca looking for a vaccine in Covid. They had to live a mood of acceptance first that the protocols they usually insisted were not available and then live a mood of ambition that a breakthrough could be found. 
  • The third category of assessment is uncertainty, in otherwards I cannot control or predict, When I do not accept the normality of uncertainty I experience the mood of anxiety. In anxiety we are minded to believe we will come to harm and we will not be able to manager or control this inevitability. The mood of anxiety is bubbling away when it comes to accepting a new cadence for work for example and it requires of us to accept the uncertainty and access the wonder of what could be. 
  • When we give permission to these moods to control us they make us unresourceful. Resentment, Resignation and Anxiety are called “selfish moods” We are preoccupied with seeking revenge, victimhood and or protection. 
  • The Moods of `acceptance, ambition and wonder are called relational moods. 
  • To flourish a team needs to access the gateways of acceptance, ambition and curiosity. 
  • I shared an example of a conversation I had the evening before this podcast where I became very frustrated with a hotel chain who with every person I spoke gave confusing and different information. I did not achieve a satisfactory outcome Bernard offered me the perspective that the mood of frustration was serving me. It was signposting me to the lack of clarity regarding the hotels policy with respect to Vouchers. He suggested the action necessary was an explicit request. 
  • Brene Brown discovered through her research that the male species or at least 80% of men could only name 3 moods-Happy, Sad, Angry. We are collectively mood illiterate. 
  • Working with Teams Bernard will share the first perspective & distinction that as humans we live in 3 domains, Language, Moods & Emotions and the Body. 
  • The second perspective Bernard will share with a team is that teams rise and fall by the quality of their relationships. There are 8 elements of effective working relationships, Respect, Trust, Concerns, Moods, Appreciation, Co-ordination, Conversation and Alignment. Mood is an important constituent part. 
  • From here a team can move into simple observation and identification answering the question “what mood am I in?” Followed by the question for what sake am I in this mood? What is this mood signposting and what is it taking care of?
  • It is important to legitimise the potency of moods and become versed in the variety available to us. 
  • Bernard shares a story with us about a team with whom he has been working for some time where the team was stuck around an issue. The team were invited to look at the issue from the lens of mood. They identified irritation, frustration and anger when this issue was surfaced. Appreciating that the team is responsible for the success of their collective efforts Bernard invited the team through a series of enquiry to be curious about the mood they needed to live to explore this issue productively. 
  • Bernard suggests we stay vigilant in mood, to identify what these moods are signposting. Too often teams want to exorcise moods from the conversation. 
  • Unfortunately for us as humans we cannot not live in mood. What is possible is to design the mood we can commit to live. 
  • When Bernard hears someone declare “I am angry” he asks who is the “I” We are not our moods we only have them. When we can recognise that “I am in a mood of anger” we create the space between ourselves and our mood, to create a subject object distinction. 
  • When we say “I am angry” we are allowing the mood to control us. What we can do instead when we say “I am in a mood of anger” we can manage the energy of that mood and the information it is sharing. Often we over identify with our moods and become fearful of them, leaving no room to manage them. 
  • Bernard shares a story of a client and the many moods that same client moved through in the course of the conversation and how Bernard became acutely aware of his own mood and how he was being “infected” until he wasn’t and allowed himself to accept the choices his client was making in the moment. 
  • Moods are contagious and Bernard had to be mindful not to take on his clients mood but instead “be with him” while he moved from anger to acceptance and through to possibility. 
  • Important to remember when faced with a team communicating multiple moods to not rush to move them. Bernard invites teams to wonder about what is happening for them in body. Moods manifest in body. You can see a mood. You cannot fake a mood. As a coach you can offer a perspective and share what you see.
  • Bernard shares his approach with a team and how he enters the conversation of mood. 
  • We have to trust and accept that human beings live in moods. What is unknown to us and often confusing to us is the understanding of moods.
  • Bernard facilitates the six moods of life with a team in an embodied practice. 
  • Some tips or nuggets to learn how to manoeuvre our moods. 
    1. Notice & Name It- Monitor your mood and ask what mood am I in? Do not judge yourself 
  • Allow & Acknowledge it 
    1. Investigate & enquire. For what sake am I in this mood? What is this mood taking care of?
  • Choose and Cultivate- So what mood could better serve me?
  • Declare and Develop that chosen mood. So what new possibility could this mood open me up to?
  • Keep a mood diary. Ask what was the assessment you were making? Then notice what that mood predisposed you to do or not to do. 
  • Use the acronym W.A.I.T – why am I talking? We talk for only two reasons to understand and to be understood. 
  • Remember we are not our moods we have them. I am in a mood of anger or I am in a mood of happiness gives us space and the opportunity for choice. 
  • Recognising that we are not our moods opens the possibility for forgiveness. 


Resources shared 


Dec 15, 2022
Confessions from the Field of Team Leadership with Marva Sadler



  • Marva Sadler is the COO of Coaching.Com and has a reputation for her extensive expertise in strategy creation, leadership development and executive coaching.  She is an experienced business executive and consultant with over 25 years leading strategic and operational growth programs for small to mid-sized organizations
  • Marva has also served in the nonprofit sector as Program Director for People Helping People, an employment success program for low-income women, and as a Board Member and strategic advisor for No More Homeless Pets of Utah. 
  • Ms. Sadler is a certified Theory of Constraints Jonah.

Podcast Episode Summary


  • This episode shares wisdom about Leading a team and the kinds of principles that help teams be great together. Applying Civil Discourse, being human and kinder with each other in our interconnected world are themes that feature across his conversation. 


Points made across the podcast episode 


  • Important to remember that Marva, in addition to the career highlights shared, is also the mother of five adult children 
  • Biggest lesson Marva learnt from her own family is that a Leader is not without honour except in her own family. 
  • Marva recognised that her children saw her as a parent or “just my Mum” and that kept her grounded, maybe humble but with a sense of perspective. 
  •  In a previous role, as owner for a small historic woollen blankets manufacturer, reproduction Civil War & Revolutionary War Blankets, Marva was invited to lobby Senators and Congressman. The lobbyist she was with was surprised that Marva could “hold her own” Marva makes the point that they are human too. 
  • Her attitude in communication even in the face of authority is to treat people with respect. 
  • Marva was doing very well in her previous role in a Tech Strategy Consulting firm and one of the main reasons she moved to WBECS to become CEO for a coaching company was because she believed there was a serious deterioration in civil discourse. 
  • She asked the question, “who are the people most likely to change the way we speak to each other”? not politicians because they are part of the problem and not the religious because they have lost influence. Her answer was businesspeople and all of the people they touch. 
  • The people most likely to influence businesspeople are coaches. The vast majority of coaches believe in and practice civil discourse. 
  • The reason Marva got back into coaching was the desire that more/all people speak to each other more kindly. 
  • WBECS firmly believe in the value of Team Coaching. It is a significant trend in the industry and the next step in the evolution for coaches. 
  • Coaches are needed to help Leaders; businesspeople think about how to do things together. We can multiply our impact when we work with teams. 
  • Teams are the building blocks for how organisations get their work done. 
  • There are many approaches to team coaching not all of them coming out of coaching perse, for example agile principles housed in agile development and agile management of teams. 
  • The project management institute or PMI are doing a lot of work around how to make teams more effective. 
  • Important to remember that team coaching is not coaching more people at the same time. It is not about coaching individuals on a team but the team itself, the interactions between team members and the spaces between. 
  • There are skills to be developed in working with interactions on the team and the spaces between that require skill development. 
  • Marva has always been convinced in the efficacy and productivity of teams. She has always worked to help individuals on her teams to work collaboratively, use the collective wisdom on teams to be more creative
  • The process of collaboration on teams gives you answers that were not even visible to individuals on teams. 
  • There are techniques and methods that team coaches teach teams that help teams illuminate how they are showing up as collective. 
  • Marva shares a story from her own history and family system that demonstrates the power of team. She regales a story about her own daughter and how in one year, participating on a soccer team, the team went from success to demise based on the different approaches of two different coaches, one believing in individualism and stardom and the other believing in the wisdom of collective endeavour. The individualist approach meant the girls were pitted against each other and the result was failure. 
  • The question is then what does the team and or team of teams accomplish together by being willing to put their egos aside. 
  • The most important techniques include the systematic view of the ecosystem in which the team resides. 
  • Objectives come from discerning a balanced set of objectives in appreciation of stakeholder needs. 
  • Marva has witnessed a shift in strategic focus from maximising shareholder value, or managing future cash flow, to maximising stakeholder value in a balanced manner. 
  • The former approach was in humane. It did not value the environment or employees for example. Marva goes on to question the value of this former approach and she makes the case for Team Coaches, whom she believes take a broader more balanced and systemic approach to team and team of team value creation in terms of the balanced outcomes they help teams create. 
  • Marva has empathy and sympathy for Leaders who preference 1:1 management of their team members. It is not however the most effective approach a Leader can take such as encouraging interaction among team members, encouraging collaboration and innovation across team divides is critical to team leadership. Getting people not just to row in the same direction but in creating new directions in which they can row together. 
  • Marva is a big believer in rewarding the outcome and the people who contributed to the success of the outcome, she is also a big proponent of letting the group recognise individuals if that is important. 
  • The Team Leaders job is to recognise the group or team and the productive behaviours they display. 
  • Culture is critical to create the conditions where conversations can be had “in the team room” with such psychological safety that team members can disagree, including disagreeing with the team leader. To do this we need to transcend our individual egos. 
  • We can sometimes believe in our own publicity and Marva refers to Marshall Goldsmiths book “What got you there won’t get you here” using behaviours that when overused become weaknesses.
  • Most leaders suffer from ego fragility. Do team leaders really mean it when it comes to disagreeing with them? 
  • One of the best things we can do as Team Leaders is to model the behaviours that support radical candour. How do we admit our mistakes, apologise in front of team members when we have lost our equanimity. etc.
  • It is a hard principle to model vulnerability when often admitting you are wrong can be seen as career limiting. 
  • The construct that you have to be “on” that you are performing, managing everybody’s expectations, is exhausting. 
  • If we can give people permission to put down that holographic image, they are projecting to just being real would be so liberating. This directs energy to the right things instead of reputation management, image management or ego management. 
  • Social media is a place where we curate our images.
  • Marva helps her teams focus on the business outcomes they need to achieve together. It is also important to spend time and energy on working out what are we trying to achieve as human beings with each other. 
  • Marva spends time working on the team by asking questions like “how did we do in this meeting?” 
  • The ROI of establishing relations with team members and between team members, understanding each other, cultivating commonalities and strengths within teams is almost infinite because it gives people the opportunity to navigate the concerns they are dealing with. 
  • WBECS was already remote and had learnt a lot of techniques about operating teams remotely. It believed in the principle of providing support and care for individuals and so it was able to double down on the kinds of supports needed during the pandemic. Marva shares a story of where this principle came to life with a colleague suffering Covid-19 with her daughter at home. 
  • The pandemic taught us many great new norms, caring for each other, considering ourselves as whole persons not just professional suits etc. Some of the threads of these new norms have been loosened. Some people continue to compartmentalise their lives. 
  • Marva believes that some coaches are prone to a form of compartmentalising too. We are taught Civil Discourse in our profession as coaches but sometimes we forget those same principles in other domains of our lives. 
  • Marva shares a story “on herself” to honour the title of this podcast called confessions from the field of Team Leadership, where she was not happy with the way she behaved and how she caught herself and ultimately responded. 
  • Marva shares the labyrinth involved in communication between complaint and solution, pausing & reflecting on experience and evidence, choosing how to respond, managing the space between stimulus and response.  Victor Frankl. 
  • The marriage of WBECS and Coaching.Com means greater access by coaches to technology and the use of a coaching management system and greater access to coaches by enterprises. In the middle hopes to offer a marketplace not just for coaching learning programs but products and services that coaches and companies can use. Principles U is an example of such a product being developed by 
  • is building a responsive and dynamic eco-system, with a desire to raise the global standard of coaching by exposing more people to the value of coaching by lifting the quality of coaching and by bringing all things coaching into one space. 
  • is coaching methodology agnostic. It is an open platform where all kind of coaching, coach training and affiliations are welcomed. 


Resources shared: 


Nov 30, 2022
Lead From You? with Aidan James Higgins



Aidan James Higgins is the CEO of ADEO Consulting. He is a Leadership Consultant, Emotional intelligence & Teamwork specialist and is passionate about getting people to be at their best. He is the author of the book Lead From You, which launched at the end of 2021 and is now in 7 countries. 


Podcast Episode Summary


This episode speaks to three concepts, awareness, authenticity & emotional intelligence. Aidan employs the psychometric The Enneagram to support leaders understand themselves and others better and to Lead from You. 

Points made across the podcast episode 


  • Fish Slap story explored and why it resonated with Aidan. He was woken up at a Management Training Program where he realised, he was living from one world view. The training had shocked Aidan that the world he had been inhabiting was only one point of view.  
  • Most of us are asleep. We are working on our programming without interrogating it to improve our self- awareness. 
  • Aidan wrote the book Lead From You because of the appreciation clients & friends held for the work and their interest in learning more. 
  • Feedback from the book suggests readers are appreciating the importance of self-awareness and how it is contributing to clarity of decision making, trust building, empathy & compassion 
  • Aidan points out that we must have self-compassion to appreciate we have grown up to be & do in a particular way and until we come to be aware we think it is the only way. 
  • Aidan has attempted to author a book that helps a person be a more complete person, to be happier and to lead. 
  • Aware, emotionally intelligent & authentic Leadership is what is needed in the 21st century 
  • People & Leaders need to wake up and pull back what is referred to as the veil of illusion. 
  • To become self-aware, to be authentic and emotionally intelligent requires of a leader or team member to wake up. Once people wake up, they generally become curious to learn more. 
  • Resistance is often present in this work, too many of us are trained to avoid emotion, being soft and being empathetic or compassionate. 
  • People do not realise they are unaware. Aidan shares a story from Anthony de Mello to help explain what he means by being self-aware. 
  • Tich Na Han says “people will not change until they are sick of suffering”
  • We are subject to a programming that was brought into us early on in our lives. We make all kinds of assumptions about the way we are to lead or act. Example: Must remain in control. 
  • Benefits of becoming self-aware & other awareness means clearer decisions, clearer emotional awareness and therefore information, access to creativity and innovation. 
  • We evolve a view of the world until we see it from where it has come and how useful it is to remain. For example, the child who learns to please people to get attention or a person who is ignored if they do not win can be programs that thwart successful leadership in the future. 
  • Becoming self-aware is not a thing you do it is about understanding. Knowing what water is doesn’t make you wet. 
  • Aidan helps clients become aware by first creating a safe space to be together and then by sharing how people are likely to have come up through the world. He shares his framework and gives people space to reflect on their beliefs, habits and patterns, ways that have informed up until now. 
  • Aidan shares another example where he asks a client how is feeling when he is not working. The client responded “trapped” and felt the rise of anxiety when he wasn’t doing anything. This client then became aware that underneath is drive to get things done, there was an anxiety driving this way of being. 
  • Understanding changes behaviour not a set of things to do. 
  • Sometimes you ask someone how they feel, and they do not have the words or language to tell you. It can often be about giving clients words.  
  • According to a Harvard Business Review, improved self-awareness on teams doubles decision making capability & doubles the ability of a team to deal with conflict. 
  • The Enneagram is a system that has been around for years. Authored by the Greeks who divined that there were 9 ways to look at the world. These world views begin around the time of a child where object constancy is understood. It is similar but deeper than MYERS BRIGGS type indicator. 
  • The Enneagram employed on teams helps team members understand each other better. Understanding in turn leads to emotional intelligence. 
  • Working with a team, Aidan will start by building the self-awareness of the members of the team, often by using the Enneagram tool. Then he moves to create awareness of the other members of the team, which often brings a team to compassion and fuller sharing. 
  • Team Emotional Intelligence explores nine norms. 3 Team Fundamental Norms: Roles and Responsibilities, Meetings and Goals & Objectives. 3 Individual Norms: Understanding Team Members, Demonstrating Care, Addressing undesirable behaviours, 4 Team Norms, Review the team, Support Expression, Build Productivity Proactively and Build Optimism, 2 External Norms; Build external relationships & Understand Team Context. These nine norms lead to three outcomes: Psychological Safety, Team Identity and Constructive Dialogue. 
  • Aidan is amazed at how often the team fundamentals have not been worked. In an example Aidan shares how a Team Leader confused sending a team memo about the purpose of the team and their roles meant that they had been communicated with and would therefore understand. 
  • Other examples of where teams get stuck include conflict avoidance believing “we are too nice” can mean bringing new ideas is risky. 
  • Addressing team norms early on can mean a team becomes more effective early on and can in many instances take on bigger projects.
  • Team resistance comes from being too quick with the change and not allowing buy-in over time, not explaining the “why” for change & not taking care to identity willing enthusiasts who could tip the team into working with the change. 
  • With some teams all you can expect to get to is professional respect. Personal conflicts can mean enmity for years. 
  • Resistance can also present from a formed organisational culture. 
  • Teams need to remember that changing the composition of a team means that previous shared understanding is temporality lost, requires a period of mourning and then a willingness to induct new members. Teams must move back to Norm and storm where they had originally moved through all the four phases of team development: forming, norming, storming and performing. 
  • Aidan explains that understanding is a holistic phenomenon. 
  • Team Emotional Intelligence requires that a team deals with emotions, and we deal with them as they arise. Some people are terrified of emotions, or some of the 9 types are terrified especially in a high-pressured business that needs to get things done. There is fear that emotional expression will slow the team down. Instead, the team needs to generate appropriate boundaries, self-regulate and self-correct.
  • The evolutionary mind suggests that teams are tribal, require a purpose and a Leader is appointed by way of certain needed tasks. 
  • Notwithstanding that Aidan has already littered this conversation with anecdotes and stories he was asked to share a story of a team that illuminates his work. He chose a large team that was asked to go through extraordinary change, to cut costs while simultaneously improving productivity. This team was not provided all the information available, and they were not allowed to communicate the required change to those on the ground. Luckily the team were already self-aware, were IQ, EQ savvy and had each taken the Enneagram survey. Aidan had been working with the same team for two years. The situation demanded an understanding on the self of ambiguity, the impact of mindsets they needed to influence and the impact of culture. 
  • That project was about teaching the team to focus on Purpose, decision making, trust and resilience but also about their own personal issues with control & trying & failing that needed to be managed.  
  • Organisations today need to think in terms of Teams of Teams to be able to deal with the pressures & demands of today’s business. Complexity and expertise at the edges makes the case for this way of thinking.
  • Teams need to be agile and have a peer structure where everybody contributes and where the Leader is a servant or at a minimum a supporter of the team. 
  • Positive conflict is encouraged along diversity of opinion & an appetite emotional discourse within boundaries. 
  • Finally, teams need time to reflect & improve. 


Resources shared: 


Books: Aidan James Higgins: Lead from You


Nov 15, 2022
What the heck is Leadership and why should we care? With Gary DePaul



Gary A. DePaul is an accomplished speaker, with over 100 talks, workshops, and seminars. He is an author, and his books include Nine practices of 21st Leadership, What the heck is Leadership and why should I care & several books on HR and Talent Development. Gary is a performance consultant using analysis, instructional design, knowledge management and performance support interventions. He is also a researcher on subjects such as Leadership, DEIB and allyship, HRBP development and performance improvement. Gary is an adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina, and he is also a podcast host. His show is called The Unlabelled Leadership Podcast 


Podcast Episode Summary


Leadership is misunderstood. Gary is passionate that in the 21st century we get clear on the distinctions between Management and Leadership, and we immerse ourselves in the practices that can yield qualitatively different experiences of Leadership. In this podcast Gary’s latest book, What the heck is Leadership and why should I care is explored and one vignette an audio clip Gary shares illuminates the difference between management and leadership in nano seconds. 

Points made across the podcast episode 


  • Leadership started for Gary after being laid off from a company called Lowes and after a meeting with a gentleman by the name of Jim Hill who is a performance consultant. He encouraged Gary to “Think Big” 
  • You never know the impact of your comments to another but in this instance, Gary took to heart the encouragement to think big and he decided to write a book.
  • When you have enough people practising Leadership in an organisation it gives you a clear competitive advantage. 
  • The challenge for 21st Leaders is the often-held belief of traditional leadership thinking. Our thinking about leadership has not evolved 
  • Leadership is not the domain of the person at the top, wisdom or the second version of leadership says anyone can practice leadership 
  • There is a famous definition by Mary Parker Follett, that says management is the art of getting stuff done through people. It is often considered a definition of Leadership
  • Management is a role Leadership is not. 
  • Leadership is not a role, but it is something you apply to a role. 
  • Gary provides a technical definition for Leadership which is to help people mature, mentally and morally 
  • David Marquett says Leadership is not about you but other people it’s about creating a work environment in which people can be at their best and Ron Karr from the Velocity Project says Leadership is about making people succeed beyond their wildest dreams. So Leadership is really about helping others build character that is revolutionary from Traditional views of Leadership 
  • Gary shares an audio clip that illuminates the difference between doing managerial tasks and practicing leadership. Michael Junior is the compare. 
  • The first clip sees a person asked to perform a task and he willingly obliges. The second practices leadership through a managerial task by encouraging the person to sing from his history, context where meaning is infused in the piece. The result is transformational 
  • Gary shares an example of firing someone, where in one instance the manager can slave a script and execute the task perfectly or he can choose leadership and simultaneously give the person a “why” for the termination, help that person learn from the experience and grow. 
  • The important thing to take from Gary’s 7 principles of Leadership is that it is not about you. They appear so simple, like for example the first principle “believe in others”, yet putting that principle into practice is beguiling challenging. 
  • An executive for example believe that a person on joining an organisation must prove themselves before he believes in them. This is counter intuitive and can have the opposite affect that a person doesn’t perform. 
  • It is so easy on a team to have in-groups and out-groups when you have people that might be a little different from you and you inadvertently exclude their opinions etc. 
  • In a workforce reduction project, an executive warns against unwittingly firing minority groups and it turns out that is what happened. Further investigation proved that managers were reluctant to give Black people feedback and so their performance suffered, and they then suffered termination. Another example in Gary’s books showcases making assessments of people without due diligence to see if anything else might have been contributing to the workers seemingly being “lazy” So believing in others might sound simple but it is often much more nuanced. You have to dig deeper to understand what is driving people to behave as they do and your job as a manager is to remove those barriers. 
  • Learning & Leadership go hand in hand. To practice the 7 principles outlined in Gary’s book, What the Heck is Leadership and Why should I Care, involves practice. 
  • The Seven Principles include: Believe in others, Connect, Put Others First & Sacrifice Ego, give up Control, Encourage Change, Collaborate, Practice. 
  • Gary studied 16 books academic books written on Leadership in the 21st century and from his analysis he derived the 7 principles from the patterns he saw repeat. He then wrote a book called the 9 practices of Leadership which showcases how to do Leadership. 
  • Gary illuminates one of the 9 practices called Facing the Lion which incorporates listening and feedback. He shares that we comprehend so much faster than for example what we can read out loud and so when it comes to listening to another person the brain is nearly always focusing on how to respond rather than carefully listening and enquiring into what is being said for meaning. 
  • Giving up or ceding control and sacrificing ego is a tough challenge for Leaders especially those new to Leadership. 
  • Often employees feel they must ask for permission from line managers or leaders and the way to cede control is to ask for example “well how would you do it” very quickly initiative and learning can flourish. 
  • Psychological safety, play and purpose are the wholly trinity on teams. If you as a member on a team believe that the Leader is not allowing for psychological safety to be the outcome necessary for great work, then you can initiate psychological safety by admitting “I wish I could do this better” or “I made a mistake” it is uncanny how quickly people row in behind you. 
  • It be being vulnerable and allowing vulnerability it encourages others to do the same. 
  • In response to phenomenon observed on teams Gary explains the “Fundamental attribution error” You need to study this idea, learn from examples, and not assume you know it. 
  • We get in our own way. We assume as Leaders that we are the authority on so much and we fail to recognise the brilliance of others. 
  • When you can recognise that you need the contribution of others, like those closest to the customer and you can contribute by way of your managerial experience then you can accomplish great things together 
  • Gary explains group thinking and the importance of contribution and different contribution by team members. 
  • Gary quotes Jack Zinger who says that “we take too long to train our leaders” and Gary adds to that by saying when we come into management, we do not express enough interest in Leadership we are all about the doing. Instead of taking more than 10 years to assume a Leadership mindset combine Leadership training with management training in combination. 
  • A good practice for people coming into roles is to assign them a mentor and a better practice is to do that from outside of their discipline 
  • Important to exercise our emotional and social intelligence in addition the exercise we already devote to our intellectual intelligence. 
  • Gary would love to see a de-emphasise on technical functional skills, more emphasis on trying to avoid outgroups, championing ideas and enquiry. He wishes organisations were more attentive to biases, to championing leadership not just with executives but with many more across an organisation. 
  • Gary would like to see organisations model values that are around Leadership to allow for innovation, creativity, and improved performance. 
  • At the end of our conversation, I ask Gary for a Leadership hack and he offers his 4-step process to Leadership -material from Marshall Goldsmith 


  • Foundation: You must read about leadership & acquire knowledge about leadership 
  • Feedback: How am I doing? - what are two ideas to help me be a better listener for you? 
  • Let people know about your blind spots 
  • Follow up. Am I doing what I said I would?

Resources shared: 


Books written by Gary A. De Paul- 

  • What the Heck is Leadership and Why Should I Care
  • The Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership
Nov 01, 2022
Team Better Together with Bernard Desmidt

Introduction: Bernard Desmidt is an accomplished Coach, Facilitator, Speaker and Author. His first book is called; Inside Out Leadership: How to master the 4 Principles of Effective Leadership and become the Leader that others will follow. His second book is called: Team Better Together and is the subject of the Podcast. Bernard was born in South Africa and he lived there until he was 38 and then he emigrated to Australia where he now lives with his wife and children.


Podcast Episode Summary To flourish as a team is a choice. It takes discipline and in this episode Bernard Desmidt helps us appreciate the 5 disciplines teams can apply to get at impactful results & meaningful relationships. In addition Bernard litters this episode with nuggets of wisdom and incites to help understand the work of teaming better together.


Points made over the episode

  • Bernard starts this podcast by sharing a story of his background that he has only recently shared publicly.
  • 3 African expressions inform his way of being and working today
  • Sibona -a Zulu word for hello, which means “I see you and by seeing you, I bring you into being. By seeing each other is this way we hold each other with respect, dignity and legitimacy
  • Ubuntu- Means to affirm an others humanity, by recognising their uniqueness and their differences. This expression acknowledges our interconnectedness
  • Hambi Gashi – means “Go well, gently in peace and carefully.
  • Bernard spent 20 years in corporate life with companies like ICI and Goodyear in South Africa where he recognised the considerable waste of time on teams and the inherent dysfunction that often resides with teams
  • After an outburst on an executive team, where Bernard was a member, the team engaged in Team Coaching. That was where Bernard met Peter Stephenson, a pioneer in team coaching in Australia at the time. Bernard recognised that he had found the work he was meant to do in the world and joined Peter’s company.
  • The motivation to write Teams Better Together was born out of Bernard’s experience working with teams.
  • The Paradox -The 80-60-20 heuristic shares that 80% of Leaders spend 60% or their organisational life on teams and only 20% of those teams flourish.
  • High performing teams are elusive because Teams rise and fall by the quality of their relationships and until this is understood it is unlikely teams will co-ordinate wall and relate well together to get impactful results.
  • It is important to invite teams to share their lived experience on teams to assess the quality of lived relationships – do team members hold each other with the same respect as they wish for themselves? Are they open to learning together? Is there sufficient trust and safety to speak concerns openly and honestly? These are some of the questions that can be asked to determine the quality of relations on teams
  • Bernard administers an assessment against 5 disciplines. Two indicators in the fifth discipline score the lowest
  • Team Behaviour & shared ways of working have been identified & consistently upheld
  • Team members are open to receiving & giving feedback to each other on performance and behaviours
  • The practice of observing a team in action whilst sitting in the corner of a room can often be the best form of due diligence of the effectiveness of a team.
  • To flourish as a team is a choice. A High Performing Team is like an elite athlete, they employ rigorous discipline
  • Teams are living systems that need to evolve, learn and adapt.
  • Teams need to be able and willing to open themselves up to new ways of thinking, being and doing
  • Teams need to acknowledge their interdepended nature, to know that relationships matter and have to be cultivated and will impact the impact of their results.
  • 4 Team Types are distinguishable with discernment.
  • Two dysfunctional teams reveal themselves as combative or competitive
  • Two functional teams can be identified as Cohesive and Collaborative or Flourishing.
  • There exists a subtle distinctions worth prising apart for our understanding.
  • Cohesive Teams converge thinking similarly, they enjoy harmony often cordial hypocrisy, they often avoid speaking the truth or sharing their real concerns. Cohesive teams have a dysfunctional relationship with Conflict, Challenge and Critic.
  • A Collaborative Team seeks divergence in thinking They are more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. Collaborative teams dance with conflict. Collaborative teams have a positive relationship with Conflict, Challenge and Criticism. Care underpins their search for the best results and best thinking.
  • The work starts with an inordinate and unashamedly strong focus on the analysis phase. Bernard is keen to establish real commitment for the work of Teaming better together. He will do this in a few ways, by conducting in depth 1:1 conversations with each member of the team and by administering his own questionnaire against the 5 disciplines. The result is a discussion with the team that informs the work.
  • Team Building is about forming. Where a team gets to know each other. Team Development is about informing where a team learns about decision making, processes for team co-ordination etc.. Team Coaching is about transformation where a team shift their mindset, ways of being and doing, the assessments they make & how they show up for each other.
  • Team Coaching, or a typical program of work is about 7-8 months long.
  • The work involves the assessment phase, contracting, 5 day long workshops, peer coaching and individual coaching of the CEO and others on the team
  • The Five Disciplines can be described as follows;
  1. Discipline One- The Mandate. Often the mandate is assumed. Here the team discovers how their stakeholders appreciate the team, what they need more from the team and what they find difficult.
  2. Discipline Two- A Teams Purpose. Teams exist for a reason, they serve a cause and have a clear, compelling and challenging “WHY”
  3. Discipline Three – The team design This is where the team designs its culture, the ways of working, the health of team relations and the bulk of time is spent in this discipline. The work of Gloria Kelly is introduced here. Gloria Kelly is an eminent sociologist and determined 8 elements to support effective relations. Bernard has employed her work and tweaked her model to include 5 elements to support ways of being and 3 elements to support ways of doing together. Trust, Respect, Concerns, Moods & Appreciation comprise the 5 being elements and Co-ordination, Conversations & Alignment comprise the 3 doing elements.
  4. Discipline Four- This is the discipline to deliver. What are the collective performance goals that can only be delivered by the team working interpedently? In this discipline the work of Michael Bungay Steiner is employed where a team discerns between Bad Work, Good Work and Great Work
  5. Discipline Five- Team Learning & Development. This discipline involves the team giving each other feedback on performance and behaviours, reflecting on work together and developing skills and knowledge to support the teams results. This discipline has the highest predictive validity that the team will flourish.
  • An exercise for Appreciation: Here the team sits in a round and for two minutes each team member is afforded a piece of appreciation from the other team members
  • The Sequence of Learning for a team follows the 5 disciplines over time. Discipline 5 and 3 are being weaved from the beginning.
  • The gift of 1’s and 5’s is offered at the start of the assignment where Bernard encourages team members to be firm giving 1’s for development and 5’s for excellence where 3 is considered cowardly.
  • Bernard concludes the Podcast conversation by sharing a story of a client in retail who by following the rhythm of the 5 disciplines managed to move from floundering to flourishing through Covid.
  • The Podcast ends on a hopeful note & Bernard wishes that teams who chose to flourish can enjoy the results of wonderful relationships and impactful results.


Resources shared


  • Team Better Together by Bernard Desmidt
  • Inside Out Leadership: How to Master the 4 Principles of Effective Leadership and become the Leader others chose to follow
  • Do more Great work by Michael Bungay Stanier


Oct 15, 2022
7 Essential Emotions for Leading positive change with Reiner Lomb


Reiner Lomb is the founder of BoomerangCoach, an executive coaching firm specialising in leadership and career development, innovation & transformational change. Before becoming a coach, Reiner had a 30+ year career in technology, started and developed software businesses and led leadership development. Reiner is the author of the book ASPIRE: Seven Essential Emotions for Leading Positive Change. No Matter Where You Are. 

Podcast Episode Summary:

Much has been written about Leadership Effectives and the behaviours needed to succeed. What is often missing is the discourse on emotions and how they drive leadership behaviours. Reiner shares through his experience & stories the enormous potential for positive change which he believes is achieved by understanding 7 essential emotions and how they marry with 7 essential leadership behaviours. 


Points raised across the podcast conversation: 

  • Reiner is the product of a multi-cultural household and identifies as a next generation post war person. 
  • He grew up in the Western part of a divided Germany through the cold war and felt the heartache over his country’s role in the Holocaust and World War II. 
  • He believes the large challenges we face in the world, climate change, social, economic, political can and need to be figured out collaboratively 
  • Reiner has been living in the USA for over 30 years and believes his adopted country is divided by emotions such as hatred, fear, resentment with mass shootings and a big political divide. 
  • Passion & Purpose motivated Reiner to move into the realm of Leadership Development. He always loved learning for himself and gets great satisfaction seeing others grow. 
  • His mission today is to mobilise leaders to help create a sustainable future for all. 
  • Aspire is one of the Leadership Development models that Reiner employs with his clients 
  • The name of his company Boomerang was a metaphor that captured his wish for people to return to their true passion and purpose 
  • He formulated a neat framework, a pyramid of 7 essential Leadership behaviours that people will readily recognise, behaviours that are driven by 7 essential emotions. 
  • Understanding these 7 emotions in a granular way can help further a Leaders effectiveness. 
  • Emotions are a key domain of learning that are the least understood and developed. 
  • We as humans are always in a mix of emotions and by becoming familiar with our internal states we can self-regulate for the kinds of conversations and actions we want to have in the world. 
  • Emotions then are gateways to effective conversations and equally barriers to the same conversations if held in an emotional field that does not serve. 
  • Empathy, Compassion, and Interest are the foundational emotions that drive Care, Serving and Understanding
  • From this foundational platform a Leader can vision, understanding the needs of his stakeholders and people. To vision a leader needs to be optimistic about the future and the kind of future he wishes to create. 
  • Emotions like resentment, resignation keep us mentally and energetically stuck in the past and do not serve when we are trying to Lead. 
  • Inspiration on the other hand mobilizes people to co-ordinate action and achieve realisable visions. 
  • To co-create a future in the world we live requires collaboration and that is fuelled by the emotion of trust. 
  • Projects and plans to proceed no matter how well co-ordinated meet with obstacles and adversity and to survive both requires resilience. Resilience is supported by the emotion of positivity. 
  • Negativity is counterproductive to resilience. The more negative the leader, the environment, and the culture the less resilience is available to the organisation 
  • Positivity is a palette of emotions including optimism, interest, inspiration, joy, awe, gratitude, and hopefulness. 
  • Leaders are well versed in the Leadership competencies required to lead what is missing is the discourse on emotions. 
  • Reiner shares a powerful story from his client relations where he helped a client recognise through his storytelling that he was living in a mood of resignation. Reiner was able to share the impact of living in resignation. He also shared that there is not a straight line between resignation and optimism, the gateway is acceptance. 
  • To become versed in emotional literacy takes time, patience, and practice. Reiner suggests choosing one of the 7 emotions to start, maybe one that could have the biggest impact to a person’s leadership.
  • As a coach it is important to put language to what a person is experiencing. Similarly, a coach needs to employ interest, empathy, and silence to allow what needs to be spoken. 
  • Part of the learning of emotions involves understanding the distinctions between each. The more granular the understanding and appreciation for the difference between each emotion the greater the possibility for appropriate action.
  • Understanding is often thwarted around a team table by the need to have the right answer and quickest response born out of our educative system. 
  • In organisational life we often do not get rewarded for asking the right questions or for spending the time to have a real and generative conversation between peers on teams. 
  • We need to move from the predominant focus of “me” or self-interest to “we” 
  • We must cultivate a mindset of “we” on teams 
  • To do so we need to appreciate that everyone is responsible for the success of the team, its climate and what is possible 
  • The team leader can do much to encourage dialogue, to mine the aspirations of each member of the team and to make sure they align with the team’s vision 
  • Trust is very complex emotion. We must understand what we mean by trust. What dimension of trust, sincerity, care, reliability, competence is being affected on the team and with & between whom? 
  • A Leader plays a large role in facilitating trust between team members especially in circumstances where teams are short lived, are remote or in a hybrid configuration. 
  • I tried to share an example of a client who in a team meeting expressed guilt and was met with another colleague who expressed anxiety to get on with the work at hand. I clumsily said “Grief” to Reiner instead of Guilt. My apologies 
  • The learning that Reiner shared, however, to decode the emotion of grief in this instance remains. 
  • A formula if you will, is to attend to the emotion, allow it to be heard with the attendant thoughts etc. This can sometimes be enough. Choose the desired emotion to move towards. This may or may not be possible. Sometimes a better strategy might be to simply to attend to emotion expressed and to help the client process that same emotion. 
  • What is not acceptable is to skip the emotional discourse. 
  • Grief for example is an emotion that spells loss, sadness for a person or situation lost. For Reiner it calls for resilience to be able to balance the need to continue living, serving, be in relation with others and managing the emotion of grief. In Reiner’s case he sourced positive emotions 
  • Do not confuse sourcing or resourcing positive emotions like joy, interest, hope etc for toxic positivity where you supress negative emotions 
  • If negative emotions surface, allow them, try to hear the story that accompanies the emotion and try and identify the source and corresponding need. 
  • Reiner shares a story from his work that explores his use of his model Aspire and how he supports leaders become familiar and fluent with the 7 emotions used with the 7 essential leadership competencies. 
  • Reiner’s favourite leadership lesson extols the virtue of care. He encourages listeners to really identify their “why” a passion that will fuel purpose. 
  • Pick what you care about and develop your leadership to support that passion. 

Thank you

Oct 01, 2022
Own Your Armour with Michelle Brody PhD.

Introduction: Michelle Brody PhD, is an executive coach & clinical psychologist. She brings 25 years of experience in both corporate and family settings to the challenging problem of interactional conflict. Michelle’s speciality as a coach is to guide teams that have complicated dynamics to help them reach greater levels of collaboration, improve communication and resolve tension. Michelle is the author of two books, Stop the Fight and her latest book Own Your Armour; revolutionary change for workplace culture. Michelle is also a master trainer of psychologists, professional coaches and HR professionals and she is a regular public speaker. 

Podcast Episode Summary This podcast conversation explores the mindset shifts team members, or indeed anyone, have to make to resolve interpersonal conflict and the consequences of negative team dynamics at work. Michelle Brody reminds us that when you think about conflict you are up against biology, we have to understand the threats we perceive, the armour we put on and the impact that armour has on others. Michelle’s book could be considered a graphic novel, its illustrations help cut through the complexity inherent in human dynamics and helps illuminate what’s at play in interactional conflict. 


Points made over the episode

  • The red thread that weaves throughout this podcast is the idea that conflict is cyclical and unless and until we can recognise our contribution that interactional conflict is not neutral and that armour is a suit and not a characterisation of the person conflict is likely to persist. 
  • Michelle started her career after college as an Investment Banker but she realised she was not interested in numbers or financials but in the interactions between people. She was curious why cultures were built on fear. She then pursued Clinical Psychology
  • Michelle pivoted into Coaching because she wanted to have a bigger impact in terms of helping others figure out what was happening in the dynamics at work. 
  • As a psychologist you learn about the different types of defence mechanisms people employ to keep safe. Michelle became curious about how one person’s defence could trigger another’s and how that then gets locked in as a cycle. 
  • Conflict cycles show up everywhere, in communities, in couples, in families at work 
  • Michelle then conceptualised these patterns as armour, armour a person puts on to protect. She recognised that armour is a form of self-protection but it is also aggressive.  
  • The number one important thing to know about conflict is that it is cyclical and the second thing to know about conflict is that the problem is not difficult people but that armour is put on for a particular reason. 
  • There is always a good person and when they suit up you get an evil twin. 
  • When we think about conflict you have to remember we are up against biology. The automatic response system to threat is our nervous system. 
  • We get ensnared by conflict when we label or judge people. We make attribution errors of others. As soon as we attribute to another we then start to react and put on our own armour and we start the cycle. 
  • There is a natural preservation phenomenon at work too we look to keep ourselves innocent. 
  • We forget to enquire to try to understand what is happening and instead we label. 
  • Often we give feedback erroneously by pointing out a person’s behaviour as a property of them. “Your anger is causing problems on this team” The impact of this feedback is not changed behaviour but more anger. 
  • Begin with a description of the person in two ways, how you see them when things are going well  or as a core self and then as the evil twin. Be curious. 
  • It is important to separate the person from their armour. 
  • A threat can sound like a strong word but threats are what our nervous system respond to. 
  • The kinds of threats that show up at work include; a threat to livelihood, a threat to belonging, a threat to fairness, control, authority and reputation or a threat to success
  • Our family of origin and past life experiences has an incredibly important input into the kind of threats that grab us. 
  • Michelle has an image in her book that encapsulates of Psychology in one page. Our family of origin and all its embedded dynamics create in every human a set of longings and sensitivities which then create our motivations and particular sets of threats. 
  • If we can understand our Psychological Map we can have so much more power over our reactivity and understanding of others and their impacts on us. 
  • Armour comes in many different forms & Michelle’s book invites self-analysis. How do I feel threatened? How do I react to that threat? What kind of armour do I put on? What are the unintended consequences or impact of my armour? 
  • It is easier to work with a team if each person does this analysis first
  • The ideal or best possible world is a team where there is 100% trust and everyone can show up as their core selves. Often teams do not show up this way & negative dynamics are instead at play. A Leader will often try to rescue the situation but it takes psychological understanding to really decode what is happening on the team. 
  • Michelle works 1:1 with each team member to see how they are threatened, the armour they put on and the unintended impact of their armour. It is difficult for people to notice their threats when the intuitive mindset is to believe that the problem is outside of them. 
  • We often do not notice our impact we have to be nudged there. 
  • It is important to remember two things: 1. We all wear armour and 2. There is a difference between a person and their armour. 
  • A person who seems sceptical is often simply wearing thicker armour. 
  • It is wise to give each team member a copy of the book before a team offsite. Self-analysis and a commitment by all to do pre-work lessons the heavy lifting needed on the program. 
  •  Teams have a lot of work to sort out between roles, goals, norms, stakeholder expectations etc and the final frontier is team dynamics. A frontier that is often missed 
  • There are intractable situations. Certain circumstances defy change. When the threat system around the team is too intense, when a strong willed Leader refuses to acknowledge his own armour are just a few. 
  • HR is often employed to make a decision between an employee relations investigation or coaching. You cannot employ both simultaneously. The threat is too large to allow for the openness of coaching. 
  • Michelle shares a story between two suits of armour to explain what might be going on if a Leader is demanding more initiative by a team and the Leader is frustrated with the team. Michelle seeks to elicit the “thirst’ by way of  team enquiry. 
  • If you find yourself in conflict some great questions to ask include;
  • what am I missing?
  • What do I know about what is happening here?
  • How are you feeling about this situation? 
  • We all want Psychological Safety in our workplaces and one of the best ways to get at it is to be vulnerable and to be part of the solution, by recognising that in some maybe small way you might be contributing to the unsafety 


Resources shared 


  • Own Your Armour: revolutionary change for workplace culture by Michelle Brody PhD. 
  • Stop the Fight: an illustrated guide for couples by Michelle Brody PhD. 


Sep 15, 2022
Inner Brutality or its counterpart Kind & Companionability with Anna Pinkerton

Introduction: Anna Pinkerton is a trauma specialist, therapeutic Coach and founder of My Kinda Life Methodology. She is a leading expert in stress awareness, chronic stress and trauma. She is a clinician, with 28 years’ experience working with Leaders, athletes, organisations and people in the public eye. Anna is an author of two books; The first is called My Kinda Life in Leadership: Live & Lead with Kindness for better relationship, be respected, create impact. The second book is called Smile Again: Your recovery from Burnout, breakdown and overwhelming stress. 


Podcast Episode Summary This episode explores the pervasiveness of Inner Brutality, a phenomenon or entity that we have lived as a property of us rather than a narrative we have built to survive. Anna shares how we can employ a Methodology to shift our relationship to self and expand our emotional palette for a fuller and more content life. 


Points made over the episode

  • The red thread that weaves throughout this podcast is the idea that we can take back the power of the Inner Bully and expand our emotional competence to live through life’s experiences good and bad with greater kindness and companionability to self and others. 
  • Anna experienced Trauma 11 years ago. Initially she succumbed to her inner bully and found it difficult to forgive herself for choosing an ill-suited partner. 
  • She then saw the experience as a privilege to understand how as humans we can be so out of control of our own neurological system. 
  • It took Anna 3/4 years to recover and in that time she fashioned an alternative methodology called “My Kinda Life” 
  • She describes the ways the inner bully works and how it creates a personal cul-de-sac. 
  • The methodology surfaced from Anna’s personal analysis and questioning to wonder what an alternative could be to the ferocious and pernicious inner bullying. 
  • The idea of Kindness to self and companionability to self-emerged.
  • Kindness was the generic term for compassion and caring that Anna chose. She also wanted something more dynamic than compassion can be and chose the word companionability.
  •  Inner Brutality can best be described as the words used by self to stay stuck in a self-imposed prison or cul-de-sac. A person who refuses to allow themselves to move through their emotions and move on. 
  • The conversations in the minds eye include statements like; you are an idiot, useless person, stupid and much more profane language than can be repeated here. 
  • We have assimilated this kind of inner talking as normal and not as a thing and Anna wanted to surface this practice as a thing, a thing we do not have to live with. 
  • The power source of the Inner Bully is the pain of an emotional experience that has been aligned with lack of safety, so it is thwarted. 
  • We are primed now to show inner strength, to be resilient and that brings with it its own pressure. We tend to demonise certain emotions such as anger, grief and jealousy. Simply put we have aligned pain with being bad. 
  • To expand and accept all of these emotions for their purpose to help us feel as humans means that we get to move through life. 
  • Two reasons in particular help Leaders she the veracity of Anna’s work.  1. There is a sense that something is happening internally that is scuppering someone’s success and 2. On paper someone might have achieved considerable success but they feel empty. 
  • Inner Brutality is so pervasive that people can see themselves reflected in the two reasons above. 
  • Why employ this methodology on Teams is a question that gets answered by way of the loss in understanding, communication and energy consumed by team members who have different emotional palettes and ways of narrating. Conflict often ensues. 
  • Inner Brutality is conveyed and projected onto others. 
  • If every member of a team can take responsibility for dialling down their inner bully and increasing their emotional palette things get easier on teams, conflict melts, communication is easier and the energy made available can be used for productive purposes. 
  • Inner Brutality sits on a spectrum between being very loud and domineering to a whisperer. 
  • Imposter Syndrome, Self-Saboteur, Perfectionism are all manifestations of the Inner Bully at work. 
  • Start by seeing the Inner Bully as an entity and build a relationship with it, it arrived for a very purposeful reason and in all likelihood has out grown its usefulness. 
  • Kindness does not have to be seen as paradoxical to Leadership. Kindness means empathy, means communicating in way that other can understand etc..
  • Selling Kindness is often made simpler by selling unkindness.
  • The Methodology is exquisitely simple but intoxicatingly difficult because it is being levelled against a complex system that is a human. 
  • Anna’s methodology comprises 8 steps: 
  • Step One: Visualising -The Companionable life. 

Can you envisage a time when you will not brutalise you? Find out how it hurts you, how it hinders you and how the inner bully affects you. Can you imagine the fluidity of acknowledging if you have done something, feeling the pain of that and moving on to do differently next time. 

  • Step Two: Your Inner Brutality-how it reveals itself and how it controls your reality. Your inner brutality is pushing you from behind saying come on hurry up be better be faster be something you are not. The Companionable way comes along side you and says “Hey, I do not feel fully ok with me now, but I am going to re-learn how to be” 
  • Step Three: Recognise the power source of the Inner Brutality-The decisions made about yourself based upon your experiences. It is rarely someone’s experience alone that causes long term suffering but a value judgement against self. Ask what are the value judgements made against self that are true and false?  
  • Step Four: Being fully human with a full emotional palette. 
  • 10 Main emotions: Fear, Love, Happiness, Sadness, Envy, Pride, Disgust, Surprise, Grief & Anger. 
  • Step Five: Determine your own objections to lifelong companionability- look inside of you, look without judgement. What does your head struggle to accept about living in a kind and companionable manner with self? Look for reasons not blame. 
  • Step Six: The Vow-vowing to yourself from this day forward- you will struggle to make lasting change unless you make a decision to do so. 
  • Step Seven: Your companionable alternative to Inner Brutality of Thought. Your brain has it favourite put down. It is habituated and like any habit it takes commitment until companionability is wired in and brutality is wired out. 
  • Step Eight: Installing your Vow and living companionably forever. 
  • 30% more energy is available to a person by working through the methodology. 
  • We are born with 10 globally accepted emotions. Our familial system and societal norms washes many out. We are left with a reduced palette. 
  • We are born to feel and move through our experiences in life. Our inner brutality thwarts this natural phenomena. We create objections that the Inner Brutality convinces us are necessary. It convinces us that by suffering and hurting we are taking responsibility but this only keeps us stuck, in a cul-de-sac
  • The Vow is underpinned by the foundational work of Anna’s methodology. 
  • A companionable alternative looks like someone who appreciates that they have a full emotional palette, gives space and time to process emotions, uses companionable words like “what a shame you did that and you do not feel proud of what you have done” allowing the pain of that realisation and moving on. 
  • Anna is a testament that the methodology works. We have to be able to overcome the stigma of looking after self. Remember Kindness and Companionability is contagious just as Inner Brutality is -you chose for a better leadership 


Resources shared 


  • My Kinda Life In Leadership- Anna Pinkerton 
  • Smile Again : Your recovery from burnout, breakdown & overwhelming stress-Anna Pinkerton 


Sep 01, 2022
Everyone Needs A Fool In Their Life with Paul Glover

Introduction: Paul Glover is a C-suite Performance Coach with 20 years’ experience as a Federal Court Tral Lawyer. Paul is a passionate story teller who believes in the power of narrative to influence and educate in business, personal life and even in court rooms. He is now a recovering Federal Trial Lawyer having spent 7 years in a United States prison for felony charges. In prison he chose to transform his narcissistic patterns and on release he chose to become a business coach. Paul is a member of Forbes Council and author of the book “WorKQuake” This is a playbook for Leaders, Leaders who want to navigate the future of work beyond traditional command and control models of leadership to a more inclusive, engaging work environment. 


Podcast Episode Summary This episode chronicles the professional and personal life of Paul Glover, the mistakes he made and the choices he assumed to transform. He explores his approach, the books he has written and life after prison as well as his contention that everyone needs a fool in their lives. 


Points made over the episode

  • Paul is a no bullshit performance coach
  • He starts the podcast by sharing his own story, a different story from the bio that was shared. 
  • Paul was incarcerated in a Federal Prison for 7 years for committing 33 counts of bribery, kickbacks and for tampering with Government witnesses, while he was a practicing attorney in the city of Chicago. 
  • He was sentenced to 7 years but managed to get out in 5 for good behaviour 
  • For the first two years of his sentence Paul spent his time consumed by “revenge fantasies” 
  • For those two years he could not accept responsibility for his crimes 
  • The mere fact of entering Prison was insufficient to activate Pauls desire for personal change. He was a committed narcissist. 
  • The shock of seeing prisoners, white collar prisoners be resentenced was the shock Paul needed to commit to change. 
  • Recidivism or the tendency for a convicted criminal to reoffend is 80% in US prison systems
  • Paul started to self-reflect and quickly appreciated that self-reflection alone was insufficient to help him transform. He needed more. He needed people to tell him the truth about him. 
  • He asked anyone visiting him to be willing to share a difficult truth about him. 
  • By year 3, Paul announced to his wife that he was committed to change
  • Paul admits that the commitment to change is hard-  it has to be necessary
  • The people who respond to the kind of coaching Paul offers are those you have failed and are committed to change. 
  • People fear success as much as they fear failure. Sometimes being successful is a curse as it blocks us & stymies our potential for future growth. 
  • Time in prison afforded Paul the chance to reform. It shocked him to realise how much of an “asshole” he was before prison. He adopted a professional persona, a hard, mean and cruel persona that permeated his personal domain. He believed that rules did not apply to him, there were no boundaries and he would take any short cut he needed to meet his ends. 
  • He transformed from being a committed narcissist to becoming an empathetic listener, more interested in the people around him. 
  • He had a captive audience in the 300 inmates who surrounded him in Prison. They were drawn to Paul because they thought he could help them with their cases and he was able to practice being perpetually curious. He ultimately turned to service and volunteered to be a trainer for a qualification called GED or a General Education Diploma
  • He activated the prisoners interest and attention by developing his own anti-recidivism program & he made sure every class attendee succeeded in getting the GED. 
  • Paul could never practice Law again and he decided to use the skills he had as a practicing lawyer and his newly acquired skills in prison to become a no-bullshit performance coach. 
  • He translated his acumen for critical thinking and storytelling from his days as a lawyer to help leaders become more effective. 
  • He has developed a Leadership Coaching Program that requires considerable commitment from his C-Suite clients. 
  • He employs the concept of the “fool” in his approach in that he is willing to share tough feedback and be tough as an accountability buddy for his clients. 
  • Paul uses the arc of Joseph Campbells Heroes’ Journey to explain his approach. 
  • Leaders need to become good story tellers and they need to be authentic. They also need to be willing to be vulnerable and to admit what they do not know. They then need to commit to find out. 
  • The world knows a lot about engagement and still the figures for engagement languish at a miserly 33% with two thirds of the workforce remaining disillusioned.
  • This phenomena has now become the “Big resignation” post the pandemic. Employees are not identifying with the purpose of businesses
  • Leaders need to share adversary. They have to prepare people for adversary. 
  • Little red riding hood would be a story about a walk in the woods if it wasn’t for the Wolf. 
  • As a trial Lawyer Paul developed a finely honed skill for detecting bullshit. Clients do not tell the truth, as much as coaching clients rarely tell the whole truth. 
  • Paul wrote the book “WorkQuake” ten years ago and it is still as relevant today. He calls it a classic. The messages inherent is his book include the following;
  • Apply Self-Care- Leaders need to get the requisite sleep, exercise and work patterns to lead. 
  • Eliminate Command and Control. 
  • Stop paying for hours and instead pay for outcomes. We are assuming an industrial mindset instead of a knowledge centred mindset
  • Believe in the concept of reciprocity 
  • Apply 3 As’-Attraction-Attention and Appreciation -employees crave attention give it. 
  • Stop being a professional & instead be personal 


  • Paul summarises the need for everyone to have a fool in their lives. People create self-images that are often flawed.  The opportunity to recognise the need for a fool in your life is self-awareness. If you believe you are finished or have all the answers you are a narcissist. 
  • People willing to have your back, people whom you respect and trust can apply for the fool role. 
  • Paul surrounded himself with co-conspirators who did not have his back. They used and manipulated his blind spots. His need to belong overrode his need at the time to be discerning. You need a fool to hold you to account. Self-accountability is hard.  
  • Paul shares a story of his own sentencing where he was offered a reduced sentence if he admitted his crimes. He refused. 
  • It is often difficult for fools to rise up within an organization because of the power differential. Paul makes the case for an external objective person such as a coach to assume the role of the fool. 


Resources shared across this podcast 


Jul 15, 2022
Development Beyond Learning for Young People, Graduates & Interns with Josh MacKenzie

Introduction: Josh MacKenzie, believes in personal growth, equal opportunity and business as a force for good. He is the founder of Development Beyond Learning (DBL)-an award winning organisation using behavioural science to future proof businesses and careers. Josh also spends time to support the growing 100% Human at Work Initiative; a collective of organisations creating a better future of work for humanity. It is now a movement of more than 500 organisations including Unilever, Accenture and EY. Josh is an Australian raising a family in the UK. He considers himself a global citizen, is a proud father of 3 and a mad U2 fan. 


Podcast Episode Summary This episode speaks to the important need to equip young people make the transition,  perhaps the biggest transition they make in life, from education to work through the development of human skills. 


Points made over the episode

  • U2 The band inspired Josh MacKenzie in terms of having a purpose and giving meaning to what you do. 
  • Josh first became interested in leadership and development at University in Australia where he was part of a student leadership body. It taught him that as individuals we have a lot more to learn than education alone affords
  • When Josh joined the Corporate world he soon realised that there was a whole world dedicated to leadership & development, personal development and talent development – that prompted Josh to set up Development Beyond Learning.
  • He noticed that the transition from education to the working world was probably the most difficult transition a young person can make. It is often underfunded and unsupported. 
  • The Game of Corporate life is different with different rules. 
  • For many young graduates there is a realisation that everyone around them is as smart as they  are and often with wisdom in years. 
  • DBL is founded on 3 core principles. 
  1. Personal Growth: The idea we can learn the skills and beliefs we need to have the careers we want
  2. Opportunity: talent is everywhere but opportunity is not. 
  3. Career: To use your career as a force for good. 
  • The future is human and it is human skills that make a person effective
  • DBL make it possible to collapse the time it takes to realise that these human skills are important 
  • Most young people will not get exposed to the idea that EQ, SQ are as important as IQ
  • A lot of the problems we see in the world today are solvable with technical skills but require human skills as well in terms of critical thinking, self-awareness, negotiation and communication skills 
  • The Good news is that more and more employers are investing in human development such as pre-boarding, on-boarding, 6-12 month development programs 
  • Context is king. There is a difference between teaching a young person on a trading floor of an investment bank how to relate to his/her manager than a person sitting in a technology centre in India for example 
  • Psychology and behavioural science is baked into the development programs 
  • The DBL approach is comprehensive it involves a blend of virtual training and in person training teaching subjects like self-awareness, growth mindset, critical thinking, social intelligence and personal brand. 
  • Young graduates can be sceptical and it is healthy to be sceptical not arrogant. 
  • Evidence based research is vital, especially to connect with participants left brain 
  • You can engage the right brain with high quality experiences, stories, relationships and engaging exercises but it is also important to have high quality content backed up by research
  • Self-awareness can be perceived as a fluffy topic for investment bankers until they are shown the research that says 1,000 top executives cited self-awareness as the number one skill that helped these leaders become successful. 
  • DBL are confident that 5 key behaviours will set graduates, interns and young people apart from others over the first 3-7years of their careers. Skills like self-awareness, building connections, having resilience & grit, growth mindset and mental wellbeing. 
  • Mental Wellness is a topic that is now being addressed in graduate cohorts 
  • Arguably young people have suffered the most by way of the pandemic & least resourced & supported over the many lockdowns
  • Belonging & wellbeing are now important topics 
  • DBL wrote a white paper, available on their website, which researched the topic of wellbeing 
  • Young people joining organisations today have completed their studies virtually, have been hired virtually and are now often still working virtually. 
  • The Pandemic coupled with the earlier work to attract diverse graduate pools has created the perfect storm. More than ever programs need to address belonging and mental wellness. 
  • Organisations are also seeing the wisdom of putting some of the budgeted spend for graduates into management training for managers who have graduates on their teams. 
  • Josh hopes that organisations do not swing back to how things used to be before the pandemic. Virtual does work. Hybrid working does work and can achieve more by providing a level playing field for all learners.
  • Josh would argue that base line training is delivered virtually and augmented by premium in person training when it is warranted. 
  • Investment in the future work force is going to mean more human development not less. In terms of our ever changing world it is important to bring graduates and interns through the organisation with human skills fit for purpose and value creation
  • The 100% human initiative will support young talent emerge through the workforce with the skills to help navigate complex issues, work together really well, have humility help organisations be human. 

Resources shared 


Jul 01, 2022
Teams in Trouble - A Conversation with Kathryn McEwen
Introduction: Kathryn McEwen is the Global Lead at Working with Resilience. She is CEO and Founder of Resilience at Work (R@W) Toolkit and Team APP. The App is the world’s first team resilience App using tech, scient , real time data and powerful questions to help teams better together in pressure, complexity and uncertainty. Kathryn’s background is an organisational psychologist, coach, leader and mediator. She is also author of three books, Building Team Resilience, Building your own Resilience; how to thrive in a challenging job and the Resilience at Work Toolkit. 


Podcast Episode Summary This episode features the work of a Team Coach working at the intersection of social justice, common ground and resilience for teams in trouble using a strengths based approach. Kathryn describes how she understands teams in trouble and the approach she adopts to support teams thrive. She also shares what teams can expect to see by employing her R@W model, toolkit and App. 


Points made over the episode

  • The red thread that weaves through Kathryn’s life is social justice. This theme shaped Kathryn’s research and approach to work. 
  • Kathryn grew up in Wales on a council estate and can remember petitioning with her Mother on issues she was too young to comprehend. 
  • At 16 years of age she moved to Australia. 
  • She works with teams at the coal face, often teams in trouble, facing very difficult work. 
  • Teams in trouble means “stuff has gone down” there is a history on the team that can include bullying & unresolved issues that make it difficult for the team to do meaningful work together. They cannot find a way out without assistance
  • The referral source will often indicate the health of a team that can include bullying, stress leave, complaints about the Leader etc..
  • Teams in trouble often require a restorative piece of work in advance of what we might traditionally see as team coaching. 
  • The first step requires the setting up of a Leadership team that will work alongside the Team in Trouble and one that will take up or assume responsibility for organisational themes that surface
  • Education is often required to make clear the multi-faceted and multi-layered plan that needs to be fulfilled. Kathryn is keen to understand all the pieces of work that are taking place to support people such as mediation, stress leave, performance management etc
  • The next step is the discovery piece Kathryn conducts 1:1’s with all members of the team and stakeholders. She is careful not to set out a plan prematurely. 
  • It is important that the Team Coach is positioned as a resource not an assessor. 
  • Buy-In for the Teams work happens when the team believes you are going to work on their concerns and needs and that stuff is happening with the parallel team on some of the process structural pieces. 
  • Team Coaches are holding hope for the team. They are definitely not giving a perception that the team is hopeless. It is important to focus on strengths and the idea that strengths can be over played. 
  • As a Team Coach don’t advice on anything, instead shore up the themes and offer suggestions for approach but allow the team to self-determine what is important 
  • The notion of a Tipping Point is something Kathryn looks out for, that is where people on the fence can be pulled down into a negative space with those that are detractors. Kathryn works to create a space where people who might not normally speak up or who have not been willing to speak up before can call out bad behaviour and begin to help the team course correct. 
  • Holding Trust is a vital component of the team coach’s work-holding confidences can be tricky but it is important to be able to do so to see the whole. 
  • As practitioners we must not over complicate our work with teams. Learn to dance in the moment, don’t worry about content instead learn to work with people
  • Humour is vital especially when life on teams in trouble can be so miserable 
  • Kathryn shares a story about a particular team in trouble. It is memorable by way of the ugly behaviours the team members displayed. Team members wore sunglasses in meetings so they did not have to look at the Leader and some confessed that “we eat our own” 
  • Kathryn shared that it would be so easy to run down the avenue of performance management and codes of conduct, instead she focused on strengths. This particular team were amazing at advocacy and creativity but they used those same skills against their work system. Kathryn helped the members see how they could influence for change and fight battles where they were particularly passionate. 
  • Resilience on Teams looks at the ingredients that enable teams to thrive. Essentially they comprise practices and actions that are a flip of teams in trouble. 
  • There are 3 facets to Kathryn’s model. At the individual level a person is held accountable for the way they show up, adapt and be proactive especially with the challenges they face. 
  • It is a misnomer to consider that working at the individual level with respect to resilience will mean team resilience. Team Resilience is about alignment. Aligned Purpose, Aligned Values, Aligned Work load. 
  • The Leadership facet looks at how a Leader can create a subculture where the team can thrive 
  • This is a systemic approach where the model supports what the individuals are doing, with the team and leader to create a mini microcosm of the entire system to be the bests it can be. 
  • There are many practical actions involved in the use of this resilience model. Team resilience for example includes a sense of connectedness, care and asks questions like “what does it look like when we care for each other?’ 
  • Kathryn is very proud of the Network that has been built out of her work, a network that is global. 
  • Kathryn’s parting words included nuggets for team coaches to trust intuition and judgement, to be able to dance in the moment and not overcomplicate things. 


Resources shared 

  • Building Resilience at Work by Kathryn McEwen
  • Building Team Resilience by Kathryn McEwen
  • Building Your Resilience: How to thrive in a Challenging Job by Kathryn McEwen
  • Whitepaper: resilience at Work A Framework for Coaching and Interventions 





Jun 15, 2022
The Power of Marketing & Inclusive Story Telling - A conversation with Margaret Molloy

Introduction:  Margaret Molloy is the Global Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Business Development for Siegel & Gale. Siegel and Gale is a brand, strategy, design and experience firm headquartered in NYC. Siegel and Gale believe in the power of simplicity and essentially believe Simple is Smart. 


Podcast Episode Summary

This episode explores the Power of Marketing and the Power of Inclusive Story telling for Organisations, Teams and Brands. Margaret eloquently shares her wisdom leading teams, building brands and the journey she has been on to break down and unlearn some of the myths & biases she may have unwittingly absorbed from her background and training. She also shares the values and experiences that have shaped her and have grounded her ability to be open, influential and inclusive. Her last story epitomises her work and her ability to navigate the tensions across two countries, two countries she loves and calls her home. 


Points made over the episode

  • Margaret grew up in County Offaly, Ireland on a diary farm. She was the eldest of six siblings. She enjoyed values of hard work, community, respect and dignity for others. She studied Business & Spanish in Coleraine in Northern Ireland and attributes that time as being formative, shaping her appreciation for cultural differences.  
  • Enterprise Ireland sent her to NYC for her first role with them and Margaret has never looked back. She loves the energy and chaos of NYC. Margaret lives in the Middle of Manhattan, NYC with her two teenage boys and her husband.
  • As a lover of two countries USA and Ireland, Margaret recognises that everyone has an identity and it can be multidimensional. Sometimes we are too quick to label people and put them in boxes. Margaret identifies equally as both American and Irish and she use the image of Janus, the God of all beginnings,  to explain her thinking. 
  • Inclusive Story Telling is best explained in a story. Margaret shares receiving feedback from a guest after a Panel Interview she held in Boston, an event she thought went well but to the writer failed to show case inclusivity.  Margaret’s focus had been on gender diversity but she learnt that she was exhibiting colour blindness. The feedback she received turned out to be Margaret’s inclusive awareness moment. 
  • Space for Reflection is an important consideration. Every strength for example has its shadow. Good to think about using time to reflect and to apply questions or frameworks to get at learning. Important too to remember to upgrade our mental models. Margaret has learnt from her own experiences to be colour brave as opposed to colour blind. 
  • Curiosity and Judgement are two phenomena that cannot co-exist. Margaret shares how she unlearnt the supposed criticism that to be nosey was wrong. For Margaret one of the greatest gift you can give someone is to ask a generous question
  • Simple is smart is a principle Siegel and Gale adopt. Being a simplifier pays. The worlds smartest brands understand the power of simplicity, whether that is through visuals, plain language or their promised experience. Research has shown that the customer will pay more for simplicity and will pay brands with loyalty. The Capital markets reward brand simplicity too. 
  • Simplicity is the intersection of Clarity and Surprise. Clarity in the use of plain language, easily understood messages, smart visuals and the surprise component is the antithesis of dull, that ahah moment when a customer appreciates “this is exactly how I would have wanted it”  
  • Siegel and Gale search for simplifiers. The beauty of simplifiers is that they know what to strip away and what to leave behind, such that a customer is clear on a brands intention and has a frictionless experience. 
  • Management is a privilege & a responsibility. Siegel and Gale are extremely thoughtful about the entire employee life cycle and how it carries through on its promises. Onboarding for example comes with robust mentoring. 
  • Psychological Safety is an important construct and Margaret pays attention to the culture she develops by encouraging people to speak in draft form, have constructive input and provide feedback. Margaret creates process, questions and frameworks to encourage psychological safety. 
  • We cannot confuse Psychological safety with group hugs. Group hugs are great and humane but Psychological safety is about business, inspiring people is a precursor to profitability.  
  • Getting at Psychological Safety is a journey. Many of us have been trained in ways that have encouraged command and control and hierarchical structures. We have been taught to value efficiency and much of the language used in corporate life is machine like. 
  • Homogenous teams are a recipe for blind spots, especially for marketeers trying to communicate with audiences that have not had the same experiences as us. Our mental models need to adjust. We need to think in terms of our impact as well as the outputs we are generating. 
  • Margaret shares how she cultivates Psychological Safety on her teams. After a project is completed she will ask what people liked and what they would wish for differently. This thinking framework evokes less defensiveness. She also uses affirmation with her team members-giving affirmation that is sincere, succinct and specific. As humans we are starved of affirmation.  
  • Criticism is an oft used tactic. Our propensity to offer criticism is grounded in our quest for efficiency. We want to fix things. The culprit is often time. We need to prioritise ruthlessly. 
  • In marketing things are changing so rapidly, there are so many new tools and processes for doing things. It is easy to get caught up in shiny new objects as opposed to being curious about what matters and impact. 
  • Simple rules for teams include; Preparing rigorously, contributing wholeheartedly and safeguarding your own trustworthiness. 
  • Important to mind your reputation and be curious to understand what people say about you when you are not in the room. 
  • Margaret shares a few more thoughts on Leadership & Teams- consider the old practice of apprenticeships. Margaret hires for attitude and builds for aptitude. 
  • Infuse Purpose, as leaders we can be quick to tell people how and what to do but sometimes we neglect the why for their work. 
  • The purpose for meetings is a topic that is often overlooked. Consider the meetings purpose, manage the context, type of meeting, how you dress the room and the theatre of meetings. Consider the roles people have in meetings such as facilitator, moderator, scribe, equal colleague etc…We should think about meets as strategic devices not as something you have to show up at. The Pre-read and Post-read should be considered as part of the meeting. 
  • In closing Margaret shares a story, a story that showcases the power of inclusive story telling. She shares how her passion for fashion and aesthetics and her love of her two countries served as an idea to create an event in 2019 to show case 10 Irish (unknown fashion designers) in NYC.  


Resources shared 


  • How CMOs Commit Podcast with Margaret Molloy-
  • Future of Branding CMO panel series 
  • Twitter: @margaretmolloy @siegelgale
  • Instagram: wearingirish Margaret Molloy
Jun 01, 2022
The Light and Shadow of Coaching - A Conversation with Tunde Erdos

Introduction:  Tunde Erdos holds a PhD in Business and Organisational Management, A Masters in Executive Coaching, A Masters in Translation & Simultaneous Interpreting and a Bachelor’s degree in Law. She is an author of 3 books, a prolific speaker at conferences and has published articles in peer reviewed scientific journals and professional coaching magazines. Tunde’s latest endeavour is a documentary on the Light and Shadow of Coaching and she produced this to raises funds for a Social Impact Initiative in Kenya. 

Podcast Episode Summary

This episode explores the many facets of Coaching, our relationship to it and the often and many unexamined shadows that exist for coaches and the coaching profession. The phenomenon of Coaching Presence and our collective understanding on what Presence is and could be for coaching is discussed. The words, curiosity, relationality, power, presence and energy surface several times across this provocative conversation. 


Points made over the episode

  • Tunde when asked to share a different story of her than the one I introduced is quick to share that she is joy, playful and full of expansion more than the knowledge perspective I shared with the listeners.
  • There are so many facets to a person, so many selves that we approximate a diamond. Coaching does too. 
  • We are interactional human beings resonating, being stimulated and responding differently to whomever is present and in differently too depending on the contexts we live
  • Tunde was quick enough to notice her own shadow operating her in the moment, where she was walking away from the direct question posed. 
  • Tunde recalls a dark moment, shameful moment in Coaching where her client was more present than she and it prompted her to explore Presence, Movement Synchronicity, and non-verbal communication in coaching through her PhD
  • Some of the results from her research were surprising. Coaches with more education, more advanced training are more reactive and defensive of their practice. 
  • Tunde’s process research, which  looked at the energy between coach and client, the coaches self-regulatory capacity after a coaching session, and the many interviews with coaches and feedback sessions given on various noted observations from video recordings, showcased this phenomenon that was surprising. 
  • Another research finding and a shadow of coaches, Tunde calls the Snow White Phenomenon where she reframed the famous expression the queen uses in the movie, Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all to, Mirror Mirror on the wall who is the most present of them all.  
  • The light of coaching is well documented and researched. We know Coaching is a powerful tool for growth, development, learning, change and transformation. We know and understand this. 
  • We are in love with Coaching, so in love that is too is a shadow. 
  • We have to be willing to be curious about our attachment to coaching in this direction.
  • Some coaches like to think they know the “Ideal Client” but Tunde’s research found that often the energy between coach and client in an “ideal” scenario was asynchronistic. 
  • In terms of our understanding of Presence, it diminishes over time. Coaches put a lot of effort at the beginning of a session to be present but they confuse the relationality of presence. 
  • Curiously the effort we expend in this way to show up creates a lot of energy but also a lack of dissonance. 
  • The ICF Ignite program aims to anchor coaching beyond 1:1 Coaching, beyond Team Coaching to be seen as a social impact tool 
  • Tunde’s documentary’s main purpose is to raise funds for a Social Impact Initiative she is developing to support women in Kenya, through coaching to become entrepreneurial.
  • The documentary also serves another purpose, to shine a light on the shadow side of coaching by way of several hundred interviews,  exploring the contributions made by coaches and leaders in the field. 
  • Interestingly one contributor shared that he thought Coaches were too serious and then he himself refused to have a vignette of him practicing joy and presence be featured on the show. A Shadow, what we espouse we do not live. 
  • We are not very trusting of ourselves in this field. Another Shadow. 
  • We are also very disconnected from our humanity, from ourselves and whilst we are starting to use this wisdom we are very pre-occupied with ourselves as Coaches, trying to understand it from a cognitive space. 
  • We underestimate or we do not understand the power we wield in organisations and the negative consequences of our work. 
  • We do not fully appreciate the dynamic nature of organisations, the living systems we enter despite using several slogans in our literature. 
  • We have to question how responsible we are as Coaches in the way we use our power in systems. 
  • Some examples of this power include team members leaving a team when they discover they don’t fit, or a team dissolving after coaching. Other examples of power include coaches asking clients to “take a deep breath’ or similar when the same understanding around presence and mindfulness is not shared. 
  • There has been a huge growth in the use of internal coaches in organisations and a corresponding growth in the building of coaching cultures. Often these cultures do not protect internal coaches from the very systemic issues they are dealing with in coaching,  parallel process for example.  Supervision by an external supervisor is required. 
  • Tunde shared many wishes she would want for coaching and coaches. 
  • To have conversations and be curious about our shadow side
  • To watch our pre-occupation with the future when the present is not well understood and where our understanding of concepts like presence are burgeoning. 
  • Words create worlds, are we too attracted to the future instead of the present, what drives this preoccupation?
  • We pay attention to language in coaching and the words a client uses but we also need to pay much greater attention to the ways we are with each other. 
  • Tunde left the conversation grateful for the opportunity to share the social impact initiative she is about to launch for women in Kenya for my interest in it and also for the relationship we developed over the conversation. 

Resources shared 

May 15, 2022
Strategic Teams & Development: A Conversation with Daniel Wolf

Introduction:  Daniel Wolf is the President of Dewar Sloan, a consultancy group with expertise in strategy & Governance. Daniel advises executives and governance leaders on the direction, integration, oversight and execution of strategy. He is the author Strategic Teams & Development, a field book for People Making Strategy Happen. He is also the author of several other books including, Prepared & Resolved, The Strategic Agenda for Growth, Performance and Change. 


Podcast Episode Summary

This episode explores the value of making a clear and practical case for strategy as a team sport, with talent built for the intentions and challenges of the organisation. The raw ingredient or material for Strategic Teams is talent housed in what Daniel terms Talent Blocks and Beams. This podcast takes a deep dive into Daniels book and his wisdom about teams. 


Points made over the episode

  • Daniel has always enjoyed a curiosity and craving for different experiences in different companies to see him fashion a Strategic & Governance Consultancy Practice called Dewar Sloan. 
  • He works best as an organiser & designer of teams, as a Coach co-ordinator of teams and as a Provocateur of teams & Individuals 
  • As Provocateur he sees his role as helping others to step up to express their strengths and to engage with others in ways that might seem like conflict but are in fact catalysts for the work. 
  • The Gift/Pain trade-off of working with really difficult people is the value they can provide. The challenge is to sit in the discomfort long enough to appreciate the value this person might bring to a project and or to partition this person from the team is he/she is too destructive without having to “off board” them. 
  • The Rationale for writing this book came from appreciating what Strategy, Talent and Culture means for an organisation and how these three concepts hang together. 
  • Strategy is not something you do once a year or is a form of thinking 
  • Strategy is the whole body of thought and behaviour that surrounds the formation of strategy such as the direction, focus and choices a company wants to make, the integration effort this requires including thinking about all of the processes, systems, resources, capital, networks & people that enables a company deliver on its strategy and then to complete the execution or action and impact necessary to deliver. 
  • The Constraints and Disconnects with Strategy are many
  • Most companies have a strategic plan but it is a rare company where people can explain it. The complexity of all of the moving parts in an integration plan means acceptance of the realisation that there is never being enough. Organisations are dynamic and complex, resources are never complete. 
  • Organisations are remarkably blithe about holding people to account for execution. 
  • Talent blocks and beams are the raw material for Strategic Teams and Development. Many of us can quickly identify the six intelligences/capacities that comprise the talent blocks, technical, analytic, creative, resource, problem and relational. 
  • The beams are, what are often considered the biggest complaints made by organisations of their people, he soft skills they see lacking. 
  • Talent Beams include Individual Talent Beams such as self-awareness, contentment, character, self-governance, confidence, moral compass, resilience, motivation and attention 
  • Team Beam Development alludes to social intelligence, role awareness, maze sense, influence, perspective, engagement, conflict management and context appreciation 
  • These talent blocks and beams ask of an organisation to recognise the details of their talent in the blocks they have available, the significance and context of where the beams need to be developed.
  • Culture is two things. It is the companies foundation and principles that guide everyday thought and behaviour and it is the companies expression of these foundations and principles , where people come together to learn, engage, develop and grow and advance together the principles and foundations of the company to deliver on its strategic agenda. 
  • The book is about three things; The Strategic Agenda that makes sense to people, the talent blocks and beams that fit with the strategic agenda and the culture built on foundations & principles that are routinely and truly acted out in micro expressions of thought and behaviour daily. 
  • This synchronicity is denied by the lack of a leadership mentality. There are four levels of Leadership. Individual, Group or Team, Enterprise and Social or Systemic. 
  • What gets in the way of Group or Team Leadership is the old premise that Leadership is housed in one heroic leader. A new form of thinking about leadership would have leadership taken up in different roles, formal and informal by the team. A collective effort is harnessed when everyone assumes leadership for the well-being of the team. 
  • Mindsets that could be missing to make this symphony work; one where people forget the dynamic and complexity of organisations today. A mindset that is not ready for change, is not anticipating change or accepting the ubiquitous nature of change. An expectant mindset is needed. Similarly while much is said of resilience, a mindset of resilience is the notion that as a principle we are engaged, steadfast and resolute to persevere & be flexible.
  • Organisations have 10 or more needs and two stand out for Daniel in this conversation. One is the need for organisations to have a very active developmental laboratory for talent, individual and collective. The second is the idea that organisations need to think differently about their structure. They should embrace the idea of an eco-system of teams rather than the traditional vertical model of layers and spans of control with white space in between, that is the traditional organisational chart. 
  • This latter need suggests that an organisation would have to dissemble the traditional constructs of organisational life, the innovators dilemma, and prize a system comprising talent housed in teams. It would also have to acknowledge and mine three different Leadership temperaments, Compliance, Integrator and Discoverer. 
  • This thinking unnerves organisations and it is where opportunity lies. 




Resources shared 



  • Daniel Wolf; Strategic Teams and Development 
  • Prepared and Resolved as well as The Strategic Agenda for Growth, Performance and Change. 
  • The Innovators Dilemma, by Clayton. M Christensen
  • Mindset by Carol S. Dweck 
May 01, 2022
Creating a Mentally Healthy Work Environment with Petra Velzeboer

Introduction: Petra Velzeboer is a renowned mental health expert, TEDx speaker and CEO of Mental Health Consultancy, PVL. Petra was born and raised in the infamous Children of God cult, conditioned to believe she was born to save the world. Having escaped that world, she now talks to audiences about her ultimate rock bottom and her subsequent transformation leading her to found a flourishing mental health business. Petra is a psychotherapist with an MSc in Psychodynamics of human development and is a qualified ORSC & CTI Certified Coach. Petra lives by her values of lightness, bravery and responsibility    Podcast Episode Summary This episode explores the value of Mental Health at Work. Petra shares what it takes to build an environment where Mental Health is valued and discussed. She shares her vision of a world where every organisation can be the rising tide that lifts and sustains mental health for every employee. Bizarrely the Pandemic has helped shift the awareness & importance of this topic and also helped bust the misconception that by talking about Mental Health the floodgates will be opened and work will suffer. The opposite is true.    Points made over the episode

  • Petra shares her journey starting with her birth in a cult, her escape and demise into addiction and battle with depression and her subsequent transformation leading her to found a flourishing mental health business. 
  • Many people, including this host, held the view that Mental Health was really a misnomer for Mental illness. Petra shares the Mental Health Continuum where Mental Health, thriving and excelling is at one end of the Spectrum and crisis and struggle is at the other with surviving in the middle. 
  • Thriving and excelling is informed by positive psychology. 
  • Sean Achor talks about organisations falling into the trap of providing Mental Health weeks where only illness is discussed. We can however develop a whole other narrative where Mental Wellness, meaning thriving and excelling is discussed. 
  • The environment where mental health can thrive is one which is open, where emotions are acknowledged and welcomed, creating a space where we can talk about our mental health openly. 
  • Leaders need additional training and skills to deal with the whole person, not just the tasks necessary to succeed. 
  • Evidence suggests that paying attention to this topic will support talent retention 
  • Leaders could employ classic skills like empathy and active listening. 
  • They could do well by modelling. 
  • Leaders could be so much more compelling if they talked about how they safeguard their own mental health rather than simply telling others to manage their boundaries. 
  • Can we get comfortable asking leaders how they protect their mental health and how they share this information with others. 
  • This provides a bridge for people where they can feel they have permission to invest in their mental health. 
  • A powerful approach is storytelling.
  • Intent evolves over time. Education, experience and the space for people to be fully themselves helps cultivate an environment of Mental Wellness. 
  • Petra sees a lot of fear on teams. The fight or flight reaction on teams is prevalent especially after the Pandemic. It is hard to be empathetic if we are in survival mode. 
  • Petra also sees conflict and polarisation on teams. There is a nervousness to be open and to share feelings, believing erroneously that a pandoras box will be opened. 
  • It is important to name fears. 
  • The conflict in Ukraine is activating a myriad of emotions and often leaving us feeling bereft and hopeless. Important to check your news intake. Have a conscious relationship with the news. 
  • Remember Victor Frankl and his book Man’s Search for Meaning, that despite the horrendous conditions he endured in the Holocaust and the things that were denied to him he lamented that his captors could not take away his ability to respond and the attitude he adopted with respect to his situation. 
  • This wisdom sounds incredibly simple but it takes practice. 
  • The Pandemic has opened minds about mental health even if some teams are still cynical and believe this discourse is a tick box exercise to complete. 
  • Asia and parts of Europe are now where the UK was 10 years ago in appreciating the value of Mental Health at work. 
  • Petra shares a client story about implementing an integrated approach to Mental Health across an entire global concern. 
  • “Mental Health is everything” and research says so. Thriving at Work report by the UK, Business in the Community and the WHO workplace recommendations all point to the crucial links between mental health and business success. 
  • There is lots of passion at the top for this work. 1/4 people have experiences of this topic -much more work to be done. 
  • Psychological Safety on Teams, research by Google (Project Aristotle in 2014) is one of the top principles supporting success on teams 
  • Petra shares several ways she incorporates Psychological Safety in her teams 
  • Lightness and fun are key elements supporting Mental health
  • We need to normalise Mental Health and our vulnerabilities. 
  • We could consider a few practices to shift our relationship with Mental Health including practices to complete the stress cycle such as a 20 second hug, connecting with our somatic selves instead of only relying on our thinking brains. 
  • Consider for example having a walking meeting. 
  • Remember language creates meaning so be careful the language we use. Instead of pathologizing people recommend brave acts. We can use language that is too intellectual making it elitist and alien to many. 
  • A lot of trauma research shares that trauma sits in our body
  • 3 Tips to conclude 
  • Knowledge is important around mental health and work can be a protective sanctuary. How can we create work environments where people want to show up and thrive. Have conversations on teams about how we work and not just about the work 
  • Create space to connect, use check ins, downtime in chunks of time and walking meetings 
  • Positive Accountability ask “how will you complete your stress cycle” 


Resources shared 

  • Viktor Frankl: Man’s search for Meaning 
  • Thriving at Work: a review of mental health and employers -GOV.UK
  • What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team(published 2016) 
Apr 19, 2022
How To Radically Rethink Inclusion For Sustainable Business Results with Alison Maitland and Rebekah Steele

Introduction: Alison Maitland is a writer, speaker, advisor and coach. She is the co-author of two previous books, Future Work and Why Women mean business. She is also a co-author of the book we illuminate here on this show called Indivisible: Radically rethinking inclusion for sustainable business results.

Rebekah Steele is a business strategist, innovator and speaker with deep expertise in Diversity and Inclusion. Rebekah spent two decades in the corporate world including as a senior leader in Fortune 500 Companies. Rebekah launched her consultancy focussed on the intersection of diversity, inclusion, and human centred design thinking. Rebekah employs her signature D&I innovation labs and distinctive ecosystem design process to support leaders bring progressive strategies to life. Rebekah is also a speaker, a senior Fellow and Council Director with the Conference Board.

Podcast Episode Summary

This episode put simply explores the idea of radically rethinking inclusion for sustainable business results. Alison and Rebekah make the case that inclusion is a business driver and offers so much more to organisations who can connect the demands of a widening  stakeholder base as well as in advancing solutions to the many systemic challenges society faces.

Points made over the episode

  • The question how can organisations do better with respect to Inclusion, motivated Rebekah and Alison to bring their collective wisdom, their research and knowledge to write their book called Indivisible: How to radically rethink inclusion for sustainable business results
  • Leaders are not questioning why inclusion matters but they are frustrated by not knowing how to define Inclusion, how to cultivate it and how to measure its impact
  • Alison and Rebekah developed a whole new approach, an eco-system approach that they describe in their book to help leaders address the gap between the promise of inclusion and the practice.
  • Radically rethinking inclusion means that organisations need to be much more ambitious in their approach to building inclusion at work. The challenges organisations are facing made more pronounced by virtue of the War in Ukraine, Climate Change, The Pandemic, The systemic inequities highlighted by Black Lives Matter, have amplified the need for a much more ambitious approach to inclusion.
  • Where do organisations start? First off organisations must recognise that Diversity and Inclusion are distinct, are two different concepts that are complimentary
  • Diversity is about the vast mix of different individuals, their experiences, talents, perspectives and the ways you harness this collective superpower is through inclusion
  • Conventional approaches to inclusion are too narrow to harness the potential of this collective superpower.
  • An expanded view of inclusion is about employing a strategic eco-system that you could liken to a traffic management system such as a roundabout to ensure safety outcomes. That system is much more than how drivers feel or behave but includes road signage, signals, licensing, penalties and maintenance.
  • Many myths prevail about inclusion and some include the idea that results can be achieved by using piecemeal approaches. Others include the replication of best practices used by other organisations that in fact fail. An example of such is implicit bias awareness training
  • Organisation set up inclusion practices as optional if Inclusion is not indivisibly linked to business outcomes, profitable growth and business decisions
  • Simple solutions to inclusion like asking for a silver bullet do not work, instead a rigorous and practical eco-system is required.
  • Overcoming conventional approaches is critical especially when ever widening stakeholders are demanding resolutions to societies inequities.
  • Unless Leaders can break through ineffective piecemeal initiatives where inclusion is glossed over and is disconnected from the heart of the business then organisations will never reap the benefits inclusion provides as evidenced in the research.
  • Businesses are facing huge challenges such as Artificial Intelligence, Climate Change and now War. To find sustainable innovative solutions requires more thinking and from a greater pool of heads.
  • Indivisible talks about 3 P’s – Performance, Preparedness and Purpose to get at inclusion and an inclusive work environment.
  • Organisations can fail to recognise market opportunities as evidenced by an example of a tech company whose design failed to consider left handed people and people with smaller extremities, mostly women.
  • A whole approach works. Alison and Rebekah describe their eco-system model and approach used in organisations.
  • Integration looks like people being rewarded for inclusive behaviour, behaviour that helps fulfil business goals. Employees are really astute at including alternative perspectives and calling in others views. It is important to paint a picture of what an inclusive environment looks like.
  • Schiphol airport is an example of an integrated inclusion eco-system at work described in the book.
  • There are many unintended and often invisible systemic biases at work in organisations, organisations who might ordinarily consider themselves inclusive. Consider the case of Carla a case described in the book.
  • The book was written for all functions in the organisation and often it is the case that particular functions, such as procurement, are delighted to know that they can consider inclusion in decisions and thinking
  • Teams can start by creating a really safe environment to discuss what might be being excluded on their teams. Important for teams to be really present so that they can readily start to notice the ways they are invisible to excluding people, ideas etc.
  • Create Psychological Safety through the practice of crafting team agreements and expectations of each member. Discuss how inclusion and inclusive practices could achieve the teams purpose and goals.
  • The 10 enablers of inclusion housed in three clusters; connection, common cause and opportunity goes down well in organisations
  • The team can look across these 10 enablers to see what they are currently doing well and what gaps could be managed to create a consistent culture of inclusion
  • Practices such as listening without interruption,  collaboration equity such as that provided by a company called Powernoodle and using or instituting a role for a person to notice barriers to inclusion on a team are all ways to further the dialogue on inclusion.
  • One of the main points of the book is that inclusion is about everyone and everyone is responsible for making inclusion happen.
  • There are many useful resources provided in the book to help people navigate this important topic. They include; the Inclusive Eco-System, 50 practical actions stakeholders can take, innovation metrics and a questionnaire as well as a free guide for Indivisible readers to create action circles and further their knowledge and insights on the creation of an inclusive workplace.


Resources shared

Indivisible: Radically rethinking inclusion for sustainable business results by Alison Maitland and Rebekah Steele.



Apr 01, 2022
Collaboration Equity for Remote and Hybrid Teams with Nigel Vanderlinden

Introduction: Nigel Vanderlinden is the CEO and Board Member of Powernoodle, a structured collaboration platform for remote and hybrid teams. Nigel is a seasoned business leader with 20 plus years in the tech industry. Prior to joining Powernoodle, Nigel was Chief Revenue Officer for Plum and has held senior roles for StarTech.Com and Blackberry. Nigel Currently lives in Waterloo, Ontario Canada with his wife and two children.  


Podcast Episode Summary

This episode explores the meaning of Collaboration Equity, why it makes sense for the new world of work and how timely Powernoodle and the technology it provides is to support drive the motive for collaboration equity across different forms of teams and knowledge based entities. Powernoodle and the technology it provides enables distributed team work, allows collaboration to operate at scale and institutionalises and sustains equitable collaboration. 


Points made over the episode

  • Nigel believes he was destined to be an entrepreneur and in the business of start-ups focused on technology.  “He got the bug”
  • He particularly enjoys the freedom, scope for direction setting and not knowing that this environment provides 
  • He is particularly pleased that Powernoodle is of a time where his company can help solve a complex problem that is facing the world of work, a combination of remote and hybrid teams 
  • The Paradigm of the past working world is broken
  • Remote and Hybrid working requires new ways of working and new tools to support people collaborate equitably
  • Collaboration is much more than an exercise of itself for its own ends but a means to get a better business outcomes 
  • Collaboration is often seen in two narrow of a focus. 
  • Some of the traps teams fall into with respect to collaboration comprise being too adhoc, and or failing to align on a purpose for the collaboration need. The worst decisions are those you did not know you made. 
  • Teams need to declare the decision need, be intentional about their purpose and engage a design that allows for inclusive participation, evaluation and then execution
  • Nigel likes the Bain & Co. framework called R.A.P.I.D to which Powernoodle adds impact and proximity 
  • Collaboration Equity was a term coined by companies such as Google, Microsoft & Cisco. Powernoodle uses this term for their product vision and purpose. Essentially Powernoodle enables individuals, teams and others to contribute inclusive of all the ways that make them different including, gender, race, age, seniority, tech savvy or not, work preferences and work styles, language etc. Powernoodle sees it role to remove the barriers to collaboration and provide a landscape at work that is meaningful & equitable 
  • This involves five distinct categories or steps. 
  1. Create a purpose for collaboration and design a process
  2. Engage diverse perspectives 
  3. Design for inclusion -considering Psychological Safety
  4. Work to mitigate bias 
  5. Create Information Equity. 
  • 3 things to consider when understanding technology and its use; People/Process and Workplace Tools 
  • The Role of Powernoodle and the technology it employs is threefold
  1. Powernoodle is an enabler of Collaboration 
  2. It allows for a scaling process
  3. It sustains good practice
  • Resistance often presents in ways that are familiar to many change endeavours. The need to preserve the Status Quo. Change Fatigue. Change requires energy and fatigue is very real, especially after the Pandemic. Power, power comes in many guises such as HPPO (Highest paid performers in an organisation) assertive personalities, loudest voices in the room. These kinds of players often exert a disproportionate influence on the outcome of a decision 
  • DE&I & Collaboration Equity are two signs of the same coin. Collaboration Equity is often considered more focused and specific to an activity of collaboration and the organisation of people/process and technology to achieve a business outcome 
  • Nigel has read the book Indivisible by Rebekah Steele and Alison Maitland and he was stuck by how similar the two themes are. 
  • An Ideal Customer Profile for Powernoodle includes large organisations who house knowledge workers, who contain critical information often missing information that can be employed for better business outcomes. In practice this looks like organisation in Insurance, Financial Services, Energy Utilities, Government Agencies etc..
  • Nigel wishes that teams and organisations seize the opportunity, a critical moment in work history, to rethink how work is conducted together in the new paradigm that has emerged since the Pandemic. He hopes people will not be too quick to rush back to the office centric habits of the past. 


Resources shared 

  • INdivisble: Radically rethinking inclusion for sustainable business results by Rebekah Steele and Alison Maitland.
Mar 15, 2022
The Story Of A Merger Between Two Top Teams with Andrea Linehan

Introduction: Andrea Linehan is listed as one of the top 30 most influential Marketeers. She is a regular speaker at conferences and universities on subjects such as Marketing, Branding, Financial Inclusion, Social Entrepreneurship, Fintech start-ups/scale-ups and many more. After 10 years in Oman she returned to Ireland to join, as CMO, a FinTech start-up  called GRID Finance.  After 5 years she joined Currency Fair. Currency Fair Enterprises and Assembly Payments merged in April of 2021 to form the new company called Zai. Andrea holds a BSc(HONS)in Finance and is a Postgraduate of the Chartered Institute of Marketeers. She hold an MBA from Trinity College Dublin and is a Chartered Management Accountant. 


Podcast Episode Summary

This episode explores the Merger of two scale-up companies, Currency Fair Enterprises and Assembly Payments, and the work involved in bringing two top teams together. Conscious of the anaemic success rates of merged entities Andrea shares how her company and especially because of her CEO Paul Byrne, committed the time, multiple workshops across a diverse population of representatives to get aligned on the fundamentals: Purpose, Mission, Vision, Attributes and Personality. This work was completed against a backdrop of business as usual, Covid and the regulatory/legal machinations of combining two entities. Much of the work was completed over zoom. 


Points made over the episode

  • Andrea shares how she started her academic life studying computers but by year three discovered she needed to pivot to Finance and Accounting. 
  • Andrea initially figured she would join one of the big four but after exploring what these entities might mean she joined Aer Rianta and a role in the Middle East 
  • She moved to Oman without a job and quickly found her footing. She found herself too in Oman. She was shaped as a woman and learnt so much about different cultures 
  • Fintech found Andrea. When Andrea returned to Ireland, after 10 Years in the Middle East she was curious to know what direction to take her career. She chose to do an MBA at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. 
  • She was fortuitously introduced to the two founders of a FinTech start-up by her Professor, Eoin O Neill of TCD. 
  • She joined the FinTech company called GRID Finance and worked there for five  years
  • Andrea then shares the story of the merger of FinTech Currency Fair, where she joined as CMO and Assembly Payments, made in part possible by the investment of Standard Chartered Ventures. 
  • The Merger was announced in April 2021. 
  • Andrea describes how the Merger made two scale-ups slow down when so much else about the company was moving at pace. 
  • Two macro forces, The Merger process and Covid meant a lot of moving parts and added complexity. 
  • All of this work was happening over zoom 
  • The two top teams, the task force and many colleagues had to build trust over zoom
  • The success of this process was in large measure down to the willingness of the companies to take the time to form a task group and do the work necessary to peel back the layers to determine what really mattered for each entity in terms of values, mission, visions, attributes &personality 
  • The two companies, Currency Fair and Assembly Payments realised they were enormously aligned.  
  • A proposal made by Andrea to the Board to look at the Branding for the merged entities made these various conversations meaningful and possible. 
  • The process involved bringing the two top teams together along with representatives from both sides of the business from different parts of the business to form a task team. 
  • Importantly the two entities did not go at this work alone and instead brought in an independent expert from Human Dynamics to support the work. 
  • The new company name emerged as Zai. 
  • This first piece of tangible work completed by the two merged entities instilled a lot of confidence for the future. 
  • Andrea shares what the work entailed. 
    • The work to create a Minimum Viable Brand. Work was completed on creating a value set and company characteristics. The Human Dynamic expert, Adam, helped align the values set with a potential North Star or Purpose for the company. 
    • Multiple conversations and workshops were had to iron out inconsistencies, fears, concerns and areas of mistrust.  
    • The members had to be willing to refine their work several times over many workshops and this process, where people showed up and were vulnerable sharing their concerns helped people understand each other’s drivers/motivations, personalities and thinking and helped forge a team identity. 
    • Laughter was a big factor and contributed to the success of the project on zoom. 
    • Time for these workshop was preserved by respecting some non-negotiables included blocking out time, the “Golden Hours” of 7am to 10am in the morning. 
  • After two years of working together via Zoom, Travel to Australia served to foster relationships further. 
  • The Zai Leadership team met in London last week. Despite the obvious distractions of needing to work on a strategy and road map, the team was disciplined enough to spend the majority of time getting to know each other. 
  • The Human Dynamic Expert flew to London to join the team for the week. 
  • The team revisited the Mission, Purpose, Values, work of the previous year to assess it for its currency and fit for purpose. 
  • The team used Hogan Psychometrics to get to understand each other better, to appreciate the gaps in personalities and needs each person had and to consider what that might mean for the team. 
  • Two things stood out as making this work possible. 
  1. The CEO Paul Byrne wholly believes in the work of establishing Vision, Mission, Purpose and Values to build a foundation from which to operate. 
  2. The team itself was hand-picked by Paul for their commitment, passion and interest in working together as a team. 
  • Andrea loves the work of professional development and did not expect to go on a transformational journey of her own. Over the week she was with the top team. she discovered, surprisingly, that she had a trust barrier she did not know existed. 
  • Andrea believes the trust factor on teams unlocks so much. Finding a way to be in conversation with your colleagues about Trust is important. 
  • Andrea did not envisage she would be so proud of the culture that Zai is creating and she is excited to embark on the next piece of work to bring an Employee Brand to life. 
  • The company will certainly be busy in the near future. Zai expects to enter 7/10 new markets. It also expects to develop several new products and to grow its employee base from 200 to 450
  • A busy few years ahead. 

Resources shared 

Mar 01, 2022
The Conditions For Great Thinking On Teams with Ruth McCarthy

Introduction: Ruth McCarthy is an extreme listener and thought provoker. She is faculty at Time to Think, is a Time to Think Coach & Facilitator. Ruth’s business is called Think it Through and she operates from London. Formerly a Student from Trinity College Dublin where she studied Modern Languages. She has a Master’s degree in Critical Thinking and Cultural Studies from Birkbeck, University London and of course several Licenses and Certificates from Time to Think LTD. 


Podcast Episode Summary

This episode explores the conditions necessary for generative thinking. 10 principles housed in the Thinking Environment are brought to life across this episode. Ruth shares the material developed by Nancy Kline, work introduced to the world by her books, Time to Think in 1999, More Time to think in 2009 and just lately the book, The Promise that changes everything as well as the many course offerings and bespoke trainings provided by the company Time To Think LTD where Ruth is a Global Faculty Member.  


Points made over the episode

  • Ruth shared how she believes she has lived her life backwards. Somehow in her late 50’s Ruth discovered the work of Nancy Kline and was struck by the provocative nature of what she was discovering about how we as humans think
  • She essentially created a career at a later stage in life on material new to her. 
  • Earlier Ruth had a career in book publishing. 
  • Ruth shares the conditions that create a thinking environment. 
    • Place- Producing a physical environment-the room, the listener, your body, that says you matter
    • Attention-Listening without interruption and with interest in where the person will go next in their thinking 
    • Equality-Regarding each other as thinking peers; giving each and equal time to think 
    • Ease-Noticing and discarding internal rush 
    • Appreciation-Noticing what is good and saying it
    • Encouragement-Giving courage to go to the unexplored edge of our thinking by ceasing competition as thinkers 
    • Feelings-Welcoming the release of emotions 
    • Incisive Questions-Freeing the human mind of an untrue assumption lived as true 
    • Information-Absorbing the facts, data, denial, social context
    • Difference-Championing our inherent diversity of identity and thought
  • The thinking environment is a beautiful paradox. Its seeming simplicity is the other side of complexity 
  • It is as simple as saying I will listen to you and I promise not to interrupt you. 
  • I promise to be fascinated by the fact you are thinking rather than focusing on your content and employing my meaning making. It is a promise that says I will not derail your thinking by providing you with exquisite attention 
  • In the presence of this benign generative force (you the listener) the brain of the other can wire and fire
  • The conditions that support a generative thinking environment are available and yet often unpractised. In fact the presence of a thinking environment is often exceptional 
  • To experience the ease that says I will not interrupt you calms your internal system and allows you to think freely. Encouraging the thinker, made implicit by attention, allows the thinker to go far and wide with their thinking. 
  • Encouragement means shutting down competition between members of the team
  • It says you are in a place that matters. 
  • Appreciation is a great unsung hero. We are often taught to be cynical of appreciation and yet it is a hard psychological reality that if we are told what is good about us it creates the neuro chemistry for good thinking 
  • Information and disinformation. We are in an age of mis-information. To think well we need to be presented with the facts, to be able to absorb the data, which is why rounds on teams gives the team an opportunity to hear all the available data
  • Hierarchy and inequality can be a tipping point for teams. Ruth often asks how it would be for a team if it shared the time equally. 
  • Resistance often comes in the form of assumptions. It is the work of a Time to Think facilitator to surface assumptions 
  • Urgency destroys good thinking. Ruth often acts as an agent for ease knowing that in the presence of ease thinking is allowed. We are habituated to compete, to collapse into urgency and reactive ways of being. Interruption and competition are time wasters 
  • Funny that we will pay a professional to show us how to play a sport better and we know we will have to go through the process of feeling uncomfortable holding a new grip for example. The same is true in learning new on Teams. 
  • Trust is an outcome. We need a consistent and recognised way of being with each other to engender Trust. Ruth shares an example of using the 10 components to begin to manifest trust 
  • Paucity of appreciation on teams. The world is rife with ridicule and stuff that we call banter that only supports to contract another. It is important to notice what is good in another and to say it. Appreciation works. There is enough research and evidence to support its efficacy. Consider the Gottman Institute and Heart-math from California. 
  • In order to hear what is difficult the brain needs to hear first what is good. There is a precise proportionality for that and it is 5:1.
  • What works best is to hear a quality, one or two words reflected back to another that ring true. It needs to be a quality rather than a product. This distinction is profound 
  • The Brain is programmed to avoid pain and it will avoid. Emotions like fear, anger, disgust, shame help us to move away. Emotions like joy, love and Trust, emotions that give meaning to life support us to move towards. 
  • You have got to give people the confidence to do their own thinking to get great results. 
  • Nancy Kline is a brilliant and humble leader who models the idea that we can never be sure of being right. Being anti-fragile has got to be a top skill for Leaders today
  • Consider 2 minutes of uninterrupted thinking and how far the brain can go in that time. The average standard is 9 seconds before we are interrupted. Interruption is akin to an attack, a violent act. Unless we have a contract for difference we will no doubt perpetuate a vicious cycle which only means a re-hashing of old thinking 
  • It is worth noting it is kind to practice a Time to Think environment but it is comforting to know that it is also a rigorous practice. 
  • Ruth explores a case where a client of hers employed a Thinking Environment and continues to employ the practices today. She shares how the brain behaves differently in the presence of a question as opposed to a topic. 
  • Nancy Kline’s new book, The Promise that Changes Everything discusses in even more detail the 10 conditions and includes topics like polarisation, denial, digitisation and “conformconomics”. 
  • Curiously now that we have moved to a blended form of work where much is conducted online, Ruth believes that two dimensional way of communicating is enhanced by employing the principles of a thinking environment. 


Resources shared 

  • Nancy Kline: The Promise That Changes Everything: I won’t interrupt you
  • Nancy Kline: More Time to Think: The power of independent thinking 
  • Nancy Kline: Time to Think: Listening to Ignite the Human Mind 
Feb 15, 2022
The Thin Book of Trust with Charles Feltman

The Thin Book of Trust an Essential Primer for Building Trust at Work 

Introduction: Charles Feltman is the founder of Insight Coaching based in California where his work concentrates on two main areas: Coaching Individuals and Teams and developing Leadership Team & Leadership Development Programs. Charles completed his coach training program with Newfield in Colorado. He holds a BA in Psychology from U.C. Santa Barbara and a Master’s in organisation development & communication from the University of Southern California. Charles is also an author. He has written a book on Trust called The Thin Book of Trust ; an essential primer for building trust at work. 




Podcast Episode Summary

Charles Feltman illuminates the four distinctions of Trust that comprises his framework, working with Leaders, Teams and Individuals. The episode discusses how trust is eroded, the many strategies that are deployed on teams and in organisations when trust is absent and how to rebuild trust effectively. 

Points made over the episode

  • Charles discovered the subject of Trust early on in his college years when he was often asked to mediate issues on campus
  • So many issues he entertained at work had something to do with Trust. 
  • When he launched his own Consulting and Coaching Business clients often came with issues where trust was often problematic. 
  • His coach training program at Newfield introduced him to 3 distinctions of Trust; Sincerity, Reliability and Competence and even then he felt something was missing
  • Charles stumbled on the academic literature pertaining to trust and there he found the term “benevolence” He added Care as his final distinction for his framework on Trust 
  • People often fail to understand that Trust is an assessment related to our standards with respect to behaviour. 
  • People often fail to communicate their standards for behaviour and immediately assume the other as untrustworthy. Communication is missing 
  • We tend to operate with an on/off switch when it comes to determining whether someone is trustworthy. 
  • Sometimes we are in the land of gradation with Trust and we are suspicious of its absence. Then we tend to look for all the ways our suspicion can be confirmed. This is called confirmation bias 
  • “Trust is defined as choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions” Charles Feltman
  • Trust is behaviour laden. The Academic World had a very complicated definition that Charles made more accessible 
  • “We are never so vulnerable then when we trust someone and paradoxically if we cannot trust neither can we find love or Joy”  Walter Anderson 
  • Love and Joy should be part of everyone’s work life and it is the reason Charles works in the arena of Trust 
  • Often the work of Coaching is helping a client be vulnerable to themselves 
  • Wise Trust is choosing to make a wise risk assessment to trust – knowing that an on/off switch does not hold much wisdom


The Four Distinctions of Trust 

  • Care: Is the assessment you have my interest at heart or at the very least we have shared interests and when we care like this we are free to work easily with each other. The most important behaviour associated with care is listening. 
  • Sincerity: Is the assessment you are honest and integral in your actions. Every interaction is an opportunity to build or damage trust. The assessment of sincerity is that I trust your intentions and know that you are open and honest with me not simply in terms of your logic but emotionally as well
  • Reliability: Is the assessment that I can trust your commitments. I can trust the strength of your commitment. Reliability is the domain that is often most problematic on teams 
  • Competence: Is the assessment that you have the capacity, skill and knowledge to do what you say you will do. This domain has a lot to do with standards and getting really clear on our respective standards often limits the speed by which we race to mistrust. 


  • We often collapse the four distinctions of trust and simply rush to mistrust. 
  • Whilst there is a huge degree of interdependence between the four distinctions it is helpful to take them apart first to really become familiar with the distinctions
  • Distrust is often talked about more on teams than trust. Teams need to have the conversations about trust 
  • If teams engage in trust conversations to understand the difference between assessments and assertions mileage can be made 
  • If the Leader is deemed the person who is creating distrust on the Team, Charles will coach the leader before he works with the team 
  • Trust is a precondition for Psychological safety and for belonging. 
  • Working through a complex issue requires of teams to be uncomfortable but if the team doesn’t feel safe it will likely not show up fully and engage in strategies for protection, strategies like resistance, avoiding, arguing, ignoring or direct attack 
  • As a Leader and member on a team is important to become aware. Notice if we are engaging in confirmation bias. 
  • Distrust uses the same brain structure, circuitry, biochemistry associated with the Fight/Flight/Freeze patterns. As human we have to learn to manage our knee Jerk reactive patterns 
  • Curiously both networks, The Trust Network and Distrust Network in the brain can operate simultaneously. By paying attention we can deploy wise trust 
  • Remember Trust is a two way street. It is not an off/on switch. It can be built and rebuilt through intentional conversations.   

The Resources shared 

  • The Thin Book of Trust: an essential primer for building trust at work available at 
Dec 01, 2021
How Volunteer Teams Really Work with Maria Mileder

Introduction: Maria Mileder is PayPal’s Global Head of Innovation. Maria owns the innovation strategy and its execution, she oversees the Global Innovation Ambassador Program and she is responsible for driving PayPal’s contributions within the financial services industry and the field of innovation in general. Maria’s prior professional background is in Regulatory Compliance & Risk Management. Maria lived and worked in her native country Austria, Ireland here in Dublin, The USA in California and The UK in London. She holds an MSc in Economic Policy from Trinity College Dublin and a BSc in Sociology from Karl-Franzen’s University in Graz Austria. 


Podcast Episode Summary

PayPal lives by four values, Innovation, Collaboration, Wellness and Inclusion. Maria gives us an incredibly candid insight into the ways PayPal emplys its Distributed Innovation Model to bring this value of innovation to life. The episode is littered with insight and gems for any team.  Maria shares her immutable laws for teams, best practice insights she has gleaned from the many Volunteers who have participated in her Innovation Labs over the last six years.  


Points made over the episode

  • Maria starts our conversation by sharing her passion for innovation and how she accidentally fell into this field
  • Curiosity, Empathy and Resilience are core skills that most people have and can be learnt & cultivated to support innovation
  • PayPal wants to be different in the Innovation space. It employs a model it calls the Distributed Innovation Model 
  • PayPal has a belief that everyone has what it takes to be innovative and it also shares a desire that innovation be everyone’s business
  • Practice is key. In the innovation lab innovation skills are discovered, trained and practiced. 
  • 30,000 employees at PayPal. Harnessing the innovation power of every employee is part of PayPal’s mission. 
  • Three engines support the delivery of the Distributed Innovation Model at PayPal. There are Innovation Champions with innovation sites or Labs, The Innovation Ambassador Program and the Global Innovation Tournament where all employees can participate. 
  • The Innovation labs started about 6 years ago and at any given time about 10 teams are working to solve Innovation problems all manned with Volunteers
  • Why Volunteers? PayPal takes innovation very seriously and believe innovation is everyone’s business to cultivate. Volunteers get an opportunity to practice the skills of innovation 
  • The first condition of success for Volunteer teams is passion. Passion helps people prioritise and be sufficiently energised to connect, contribute and be willing to fail. 
  • Some Immutable laws exist for teams to flourish. 
  1. The context needs to be clear, getting clear on Mission & Vision for a project. Teams do not necessarily find the exercise of clarifying their mission and vision as sexy and often it is lofty but it provides a North Star that gives direction 
  2. Humans expect to be led, especially at the start of any initiative 
  3. Team Dynamics exist and are important to understand. The Volunteers are not obliged to work with each other, they volunteer their time so it is important that they are set up for success. This means helping everyone know each other, their motivation for the project, their strengths and weaknesses and their desires. 
  4. In the Voluntary space (and I would add in every space) you have to display empathy, to be curious to get to know your colleagues. 
  5. Empathy is frustrated by a bias for action, premature action, it is frustrated by fuzzy expectations or unspoken expectations  -Maria shares an example of the difference between experts coming onto a project and novice learners. 
  6. Recreate the physical space in the digital space. The virtual space has become transactional
  7. Encourage fun on teams-Maria shares an innocent Team Building Exercise where asking a team of 15 people to come up with the things they all have in common facilitated openness and energy, a currency that lasted the life of a project and beyond. 
  8. Give time and space for teams to learn, to grow and also to rest. Allow time for being off. 
  9. Silly or being silly is a great skill in innovation. The innovation lab encourages this spirit. Important that Leaders show the way, model behaviours that give people permission to be silly. Similar norms or ways of doing things are important to be shared. 
  • What surprised the most was the amount of personal development people, volunteers got from the various programs they have been a part & how people have been able to use that Personal Development as a by-product of the program. 
  • Volunteers have been able to share the skills they have learnt with their colleagues in their professional teams 
  • The Innovation labs and other engines together comprise an important part of a cultural transformation at PayPal. 
  • Helping the Professional and Volunteer worlds to collide means remembering we are human. Team dynamics are essential to the success of a team. Time and space has to be given to the practice of what Maria calls a team’s immutable laws. 
  • As a final thought Maria shared how she has learnt to become outspoken and to be vulnerable. Teams are not going away and they take time and work to make them successful. 
Nov 15, 2021
What Lies Beneath: How Organisations Really Work with Ajit Menon & Trevor Hough

Introduction: Dr. Ajit Menon is a business psychologist and consultant and co-founder of Blacklight Advisory a specialist organisational consultancy to a diverse range of clients. Ajit is also faculty of the London School of Economics, Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. He is also co-author with Trevor Hough of the book this podcast showcases; What lies beneath how organisations really work. 

Trevor Hough is a clinical psychologist, executive coach, and organisational development consultant. Trevor is a self-confessed nomad, living all over the World furthering his interest in diverse cultural experiences. Trevor works with Ajit as a Principal Consultant at Blacklight Advisory outside of his own consultancy practice. Trevor’s great interest is in the outdoors especially the African Bush where he has recently trained as a field and trails guide.  

Podcast Episode Summary

Eight crafted stories about Organisational Life are illuminated in the book What Lies Beneath: How organisations really work, by the authors Trevor Hough and Ajit Menon. They show how problems of Culture, Succession, Transition & Leadership Team Alignment are often masked by underlying and often unconscious emotions of fear, anxiety, envy, uncertainty and abandonment. The resulting defences of denial, blame, splitting, pairing and collusion blur the view of the “real” problem which needs to be solved by the client. Ajit and Trevor share how tricky this terrain can be in the eight stories they share in their book. The work of organisational development is complex and it serves a Coach/Consultant to not only be paired in the work but also to have regular supervision.  

Points made over the episode

  • Ajit and Trevor share an interest & history that could be described as nomadic 
  • Important to appreciate difference in the many cultural contexts the work entails. 
  • As an organisational consultant, working in and out of organisations all of the time it behoves the consultant to be able to sit “at the edge of the system” & not collude by a desire to belong. 
  • Ajit shares that one of the first question he & Trevor often ask clients is “what else?” or What else is going on?  so as to resist the temptation to prematurely rush to solution 
  • Clients are very rarely completely right and it takes considered contracting to scope a solution or potential solution to a presenting issue. 
  • Problems lie at a human level even though we would like to think they are all technical
  • Working with a client system is never just about the client alone,  it is about the consultant as well. What you bring, your views, the lens by which you see the world etc. are all played out. 
  • The book while a slim product is full of depth in how it explores what lies beneath in an organisation and by what it evokes in the reader. 
  • How can we as coaches and consultants impact and influence the system? Ajit and Trevor responded by saying often the coach has to be willing to use self as instrument and notice what is being evoked. The story about the client in the fashion house in Paris, explored later, is an example of such. 
  • Question what draws you to do the work-looking beneath can often mean an uncomfortable enquiry. 
  • A big part of the work is about understanding our own process. Awareness is key. 
  • Peer supervision is not to be feared it is a different type of workout. 
  • Supervision is about doing work on the work 
  • The yearning by coaches to be liked is dangerous. Often Clients do not like what we have to say. That’s OK 
  • Our role is asocial -we have to think about what is good for the client and not our ego. 
  • Ajit & Trevor are called into client systems to consider topics like, A CEO in Transition, Culture Change, Succession, Leadership Team Alignment and they are both apt to ask “If that is the answer why is coaching the solution? If team building is the solution what is the problem it can help address” 
  • Inquiry is a positive intervention and can serve to illuminate some of the complexity up front. 
  • Example of the story of Hong Kong where two founders purported to want to leave but in reality that was not the case and they returned 
  • The work is tricky & not easy to spot but with supervision and dialogue without attachment we can begin to see patterns, themes, dynamics -often you require the lens of an outsider to help you see how you might be colluding. 
  • Another story with a private bank in London shows how speaking up and being straight with a client can still backfire. 
  • The unsaid remains under the surface and it takes courage to speak the unsaid. 
  • Trevor explores how at the end of an assignment the client was disappointed the client felt they had done all of the work. If you are injured by that as a consultant you are in danger. Clients often want to give you the “ball of fire” the problem for you to solve. 
  • Our work is to encourage the client to put the “ball of fire” on the table and through inquiry be able to piece out what is going on. 
  • The Drama Triangle is a useful concept to keep in mind when doing organisational consultancy and why supervision is important 
  • Trevor explained repetition compulsion and how often it occurs. He told of a client in HR who kept moving between organisations and kept ending up working for Narcissists – “what is your story of origin?” “What are you trying to solve?” What are you thinking is going to be different this time?” are just some of the questions he asked instead of trying to solve the problem of working with Narcissists 
  • The idea of helping a client build a great team might simply be feeding the fantasy a team is the ultimate concept. Question why you want or need a team. Teams are often an overvalued concept when a peer group set up might equally serve or do better
  • Do we really appreciate what it is to get into a communal mindset? The story of Nairobi highlights these tensions. 
  • What needs to be illuminated at the contracting stage to aid the work? Question why a client has chosen you. How you get into relationship will often predict how you will be in that system -what does the client desire?
  • In order to have a clear focus of where the work really is,  it helps to ask; What is the problem you want to solve? What have you done so far? What keeps getting in the way? 
  • The case in Paris resulted in Ajit and Trevor acting out the very dynamic being experienced by the client- strong presence and awareness coupled with peer supervision helped them see what was happening and how they needed to be with the client to explore their findings. 
  • This example exemplifies the danger of working alone in a system. Meta perspective is crucial. 
  • Important to start as  you mean to go on and to forever be authentic. 

Resources shared 

  • What Lies Beneath: How organisations really work by Ajit Menon & Trevor Hough. 
Oct 30, 2021
Undisruptable: A Mindset of Permanent Reinvention with Aidan McCullen

Introduction: Aidan Mc Cullen is best described as a Transformation Consultant. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Trinity College Dublin where he runs a module called Emerging Trends & Technologies and the host of the Global Innovation Show Podcast. Last year he emerged as must read  Author publishing his book called Undisruputable. Aidan exemplifies the very mindset he describes in his book that of permanent reinvention. He is a former International Rugby Player, turned Innovator in the space of digital media before reinventing himself again as a transformational consultant, business advisor and board member. He studied French & German at Trinity College Dublin. He lives in Dublin, is married with two boys, whom he mentions a few times in his book. 

Podcast Episode Summary

This episode put simply explores the idea of permanent reinvention for individuals, organisations and life in general. Aidan’s book uses Mental Models, Analogies, Nature and Stories of exemplars who perhaps defied logic to answer two important questions:

 1. How do we navigate a world that is changing at breakneck speed, as business leaders and as individuals? 

 2. What can we do to minimise the impact of disruption on our careers in our organisations and in our lives. 

Hopefully this podcast will go some way to bring Aidan’s book to life and to tease this same questions. 


Points made over the episode

  • The red thread that weaves through Aidan’s life is one of transformation. Aidan starts by describing his experiences, the experiences that resulted in life lessons, lessons that informed his book -he makes the case for why we must reinvent ourselves in the face of continuous change 
  • As humans we can fall prey to what is known as The Spotlight Bias, a belief that others are paying more attention to us than what is true. Two emotions in particular Fear and Shame can be the consequence of this bias and stymy progress in life. 
  • Life is too short and if you find you are not satisfied don’t sit there=that is the big message Aidan communicates throughout this podcast and in his book. 
  • Too often we achieve stuff in life and become seduced by the Success Trap. With achievement we often move to employ a defensive mindset-in our brain chemistry alters and we miss new information that could serve to enlighten
  • A disposition towards continuous learning and a dash of humility are two conditions that feed a mindset of permanent reinvention 
  • Aidan shares stories from his rugby career that bring the above points to life. 
  • The book Undisrubtable was born out of Aidan’s life experiences, the many books he read and reads, he reads a book a week for his podcast show as well as his keen interest in Innovation.
  • He describes a mental model as a pair of lens, like the ones you put on in an Optometrist’s office – as humans, which to Aidan negates the permanent reinvention mindset, we often forget to clean our lens, to purge them when they become redundant or even to clean them when they are smudged. 
  • The book starts by sharing how we resist change, a natural phenomenon. The book shares how to reframe resistance and fear as milestones rather than millstones. In these few chapters & across the book we learn about the biases we succumb to that block change 
  • The book then moves to describe different mental models we can adopt to endure the change we are experiencing at breakneck speed- Aidan uses analogies, stories from Nature and real life exemplars of change to disrupt the reader. 
  • Kintsugi thinking for example  is a mental model that we could employ to allow for the full range of our human experiences. Kintsugi is a form of Japanese art . The premise being that mistakes or flaws are celebrated by painting the cracks with Gold Lacquer. 
  • The  author believes that bad experiences we have in life can be reframed to mean that certain things were not meant for us. Aidan encourages us to think of our less than positive experiences as the minds way of employing a lightning rod, determining what is useful and what can be let go. 
  • Entrepreneurs often think in terms of failing fast but really the lesson could be to learn fast and learn safely
  • The first act in permanent reinvention is awareness, you have to be able to catch yourself in the act to learn. You have to question your choices. Sometimes you might even notice you have picked up a lens or mental model that is not yours
  • Become a Master of your own vision. This means customising your own lens instead of following a script
  • The book describes a set of repeatable actions,  housed in a simple framework that maps change, learning, products & services a framework called the S curve. He then describes the infinity curve as a more accurate lens from which to deal with continuous change.  
  • Do not drink poison and wish the other dead – A snake bite will not kill you but rather the poison you hold onto. 
  • Aidan describes the meaning of an S curve, as an heuristic that is a short cut for the cycle of productivity, learning etc..
  • He then goes on to share how he landed on the concept of permanent reinvention through the discovery of an Ouroboros in a dream. An Ouroboros is a snake eating itself. 
  • With the speed of change as we know it, often described in terms such as VUCA, there is no safe harbour for an individual, a business model or an organisation. We have to be able to look out and respond to change and live with the inevitable uncertainty change at breakneck speed generates.  
  • Aidan uses mental models and the rich source of stories from nature to build his case for permanent reinvention. His book is littered with research and evidence based facts to ground his many ideas and ways to be with change.  He closes the book by sharing many example of real life heroes, people and companies we can all recognise. The Story of Arnold “S”chwarzeneggar typifies the many lessons Aidan has shared throughout the book. 
  • Aidan ends the podcast  by sharing the Coconut Trap Story. Essentially unless we are able to let go of the past, let go of our many resentments, let go of tightly held accolades we will not become the change that is possible. 


Resources shared 

  • Undisruptable by Aidan McCullen
Oct 15, 2021
The Four Fields of Leadership with Tom Goodell

Introduction: Tom Goodell is  the President and Founder of Linden Leadership. His company offers Executive, Management and Team Coaching as well as Leadership Development and Culture Programs for a wide variety of Organisations. Tom is an author and has written several books including, Linden’s Leadership Cycles of Leadership, Three Practices of Collective Performance, Six Practices of Personal Performance and most recently The Four Fields of Leadership. 


Goodell received his CPPM certification in ontological coaching from the Newfield Network, inc, in Boulder Colorado. He also studied somatic coaching with Richard Strozzi Heckler, founder and director of Strozzi Institute in Petaluma, California. 


Podcast Episode Summary

This episode explores the impetus for Tom’s latest work The Four Fields of Leadership. John Baldoni puts it well when he says of Tom’s book “Leadership is an ageless proposition. What has changed over the millennia is context. Goodell places Leadership with the context of our times in ways that make it accessible and actionable” The podcast underscores the importance of understanding self in a quest to be with another, others and to thrive in organisations. Tom shares how he combines his many, seemingly disparate, interests in an intelligible whole to understand human systems. 


Points made over the episode

  • Tom’s story began for him when he as 5 years of age and he can remember playing the game called Go. It is a game that challenges a player to cultivate his whole brain because of the amount of possibilities -Chance is not involved but a person is minded to develop intuition, form & aesthetics as well as logic and analytics 
  • Tom’s early interest in Eastern thinking, spirituality has been an integral part of this own thinking. 
  • His early experience in organisational life taught him that no matter how elegant the enterprise architecture if human beings were not getting along the organisation was impacted. 
  • Tom’s interest in human systems saw him study with Newfield in Colorado and with Richard Strozzi Heckler at the Strozzi Institute in California to become a Coach and Facilitator
  • Declarations are an important constituent part of the training at Strozzi and as a consequence and honed over many years Tom is able to say that his declaration says he is “a commitment to awakening the full power of the human spirit in organizations everywhere” That declaration has been his guiding light ever since
  • The human spirit is what makes a life worth living and work worth working. 
  • We are all connected and have always been connected but we forget. The space between us and the quality of our relations determine whether we thrive. 
  • Tom began to recognise the “Tower of Babble” he encountered in organisation with many multiple interventions/modalities of learning and leadership that spoke different languages. He found that many omitted the unifying principles on which their theories are founded. His book attempts to illuminate these unifying principles to squash confusion and allow for real conversations. 
  • If you understand the Four Fields of Leadership everything becomes coherent. 
  • The four fields of Leadership include the Field of Self, The Interpersonal Field, The field of teams and the Enterprise field. There is a huge degree of complexity, subtlety & fragility across each field as well as an amount of wisdom and intelligence 
  • Everything starts with an understanding of the Field of Self. That means understanding and having an appreciation for awareness in three minds, The Physical, The Emotional and The Analytic, our responsibility to be in Choice and to take Accountability. 
  • Humility is required to know that we are not always in control of our state. It takes humility to step back and say “ I have some work to do on myself” 
  • Tom’s approach with teams is present based. He always listens carefully and senses into the field of teams. He often speaks with each individual member of the team to see how they experience the team. He simply starts where the team is and doesn’t lead with content or theory. 
  • Tom notices patterns of behaviours on teams and intervenes to help the team see its dynamic. 
  • He makes an important distinction between context and content. If you can notice the context and work with that the content is often that much richer. 
  • Tom shares The Cycle of Leadership suite of conversations-a model for how effective conversations can happen. 

-The first being a conversation for possibilities where a leader taps into the wisdom of the community or those around who might be impacted by his decisions. 

-The conversation as Declaration. This is where a future is declared, Conditions of Satisfaction are shared so that everyone is clear about the COS that need to be met for success. 

-Conversations for Requests- sharing the who will take responsibility for what. 

-Finally and importantly Conversations for reflection This is where the team asks questions of itself, not just the project. Questions like “how are we?” This can serve as a healing conversation before a team gets too distorted. 

  • As Coaches and Practitioners we can be more influential on teams if we are willing to be courageous and call out that team members need to do work on themselves. 


Resources shared 

Oct 01, 2021
Compassion and Compassion Practices with Alister Scott

Introduction: Dr Alister Scott is all about making big change happen. He has dedicated his career to this pursuit. He is the Co-founder of The One Leadership Project with his colleague Neil Scotton. The One Leadership Project is a strategy and leadership firm that supports those making big change happen. Alister and Neil have co-authored a book called The Little Book of Making Big Change Happen. Alister is also Co-founder and Director of the Knowledge Bridge LTD and Chair of the Cuckmeres Community Solar Project. Alister is a certified Coach and holds a doctorate in Science and Technology. 

Podcast Episode Summary

This episode explores the impetus for Alister’s latest project, a passion to bring Compassion Practices to the world. His website Compassion Practices hosts 6 compassion practices and protocols for practicing compassion that anyone can download. In this episode we explore the meaning of compassion the principles that underpin the exercise of compassion practices and the impact of these practices on culture in organisations and on teams. 

Points made over the episode

  • The Pandemic had only just begun and Alister felt compelled to write material to support teams get support in times of enormous stress. He wanted his offerings to be accessible and timely. 
  • His colleague and friend Andrew Bradley contacted him about his writing to think about combining his work on Compassion with that of others to build out a website
  • The six practices, essentially an ecosystem of practices are pragmatic with dedicated protocols that anyone can follow. The practices are basically informed by the work of Nancy Kline and Alister and Andy along with a few other colleagues have pared down her work to offer six distinct principles 
  • Essentially if a person equips themselves with the six principles espoused they will not go far wrong in conversation 
  • Compassion is the ability to be with another as they suffer. It is kindness in action. It is not sympathy. It means you are providing a space for someone to be with their suffering without feeling alone. 
  • Teams all too easily become task focused and forget to commune or connect with each other. 
  • Nancy Kline’s work is borne out of decades of research and writing to help people think better. She has written some brilliant books including Time to Think and More time to Think. By applying the principles housed in Nancy’s work people disrupt their habitual communication practices -Listening without interrupting for example when practiced can be transformative for relationship and on teams. 
  • The principles described on the website include the following; 

-Identify the question that matters 

-Give each person time to think on their own 

-Listen without interruption 

-Appreciate from the heart

  • Appreciation and cultivating a culture of ERA (encouragement, recognition and appreciation) creates an environment where the experience of work is changed for the better 
  • In order to practice the receipt of Appreciation you have to employ 3,As Acknowledge that the giver & what they have shared is true for them too. Allow the appreciation in -especially for those who have been emotionally starved and finally accept it. 
  • Our ability to be compassionate is often forgotten. Indicators such as Global Poverty, Our Environmental Crisis, War and conflict all point to the lack of compassion. Our inability to feel and that as human beings, being the dominant species of the world, we are experiencing the worst form of extinction since the dinosaurs 
  • Our practice of shutting down feelings, of indulging adrenaline induced activities, action addiction and our fear of others perspectives all contribute to a narrow vision where we are not able to be kind.
  • The Practice involves the following steps
  1. Involve 2 people a host and facilitator 
  2. 1st Round asking how are you arriving and name one thing that is going well outside of work?
  3. Name the question that matters such as “how are we doing as a team”
  4. Everyone prepares first alone and then speaks in a round going from left to right to provide some measure of predictability 
  5. Followed by Thinking pairs (with clear instruction)
  6. Finally a round where everyone reflects on their latest thinking and feeling on the same question 
  • The mindset shift needed for teams to employ compassion practices is multifaceted. People need to matter. The idea of expert only where we do not ha`ve time for this sort of soft stuff. 
  • We live in a society that indulges a conspiracy of silence about grief, failure and feelings that might be labelled as negative. 
  • Alister shared the story of losing his wife five years ago and how few people, even his close friends could be with his grief. 
  • The website is being officially launched on the 15th of September 2021 and people are invited to sign up on the website to access the practices and be involved in many facilitated community practices for professionals 

Resources shared 

Sep 15, 2021
Leadership Lessons from the Pub with Irvine Nugent

Introduction: Irvin Nugent is a recognised Executive Coach, Internationally recognised Trainer in Emotional Intelligence and Top-rated speaker. He is also the Author of the book Leadership Lessons from the Pub: Harnessing the Power of Emotional Intelligence to Build a Fully Engaged Workplace. Irvine earned his PhD in Management from Capella University where his thesis focused on Leadership in times of crisis. He is a former Catholic Priest and CEO. 


Podcast Episode Summary

This podcast episode showcases the work Irvine does in the world to make Emotional Intelligence accessible and to make Emotional Literacy more common place. In our discussion we explore the many lessons for Leaders, Irvine brings to life in book, lesson like how to build bridges instead of walls, how to create the space to allow others excel, how to set the tone and to utilise the skill of storytelling. The episode is replete with anecdotes and practical suggestions to bring emotional intelligence alive. 


Points made over the episode

  • Irvine Nugent was born in Northern Ireland and grew up in a period known as “the troubles” He lived with a question “can life be better” and this question saw him move first into Priesthood and then into the world of Teaching and Coaching to support others live richer lives 
  • Becoming a Priest was the way he could express his inner desire to help others heal
  • Leaving the Priesthood was one of the hardest decisions he has ever had to make but it became a question of Authenticity for Irvine -the confinements of the Church no longer suited him
  • The book was borne out of the many armchair encounters Irvine has had with Leaders trying to wrestle with questions such as “how do I lead a team?” “How can I create a workspace where people can be themselves?” 
  • The Space of The Pub is fascinating and whilst it has not been the subject of Sociological research it is a place where people feel comfortable to share their troubles to build community and to feel included
  • Leaders similarly need to be able to build community to allow the diversity of workplaces to commune, to allow for tough decisions to be made in service of the whole. 
  • Lessons from the book are often overlooked by Leaders. One such lesson is the potential to influence the mood of an organisation or team. Moods and Emotions are contagious-be careful with yours. 
  • It is important for Leaders to be self-aware, to reflect and make choices about the Presence they wish to convey. 
  • Our VUCA world often makes unconscious as Leaders. We have to be intentional with our practices. 
  • Ideas like a 7 second reset are useful to be able to self-regulate 
  • The Pandemic has resulted in a lot of teams suffering from Anxiety. An emotion that is craving clarity. The role of the Leaders becomes even more important in these time to offer the role of a “step-down Transformer” Calm and assuredness is required 
  • When people lack clarity it is very hard to commit to action 
  • It is important to find our Trigger Print. To become knowledgeable about what triggers us, the patterns we fall into etc.. So we can course correct. 
  • When we are triggered we lose our capacity to be curious to be humble we rush to seek solutions which can often result in poor decision making 
  • It is often hard to be instantaneously aware of our triggers we are simply transparent to them. We need to investigate their source. History often shares information about where these prints were laid down. 
  • One way of moving out of being triggered or re-triggered is to get physically moving. 
  • Our bodies are vital to our knowledge base on emotions and the body will signal to us our concerns and worries; get curious about our somatic discourse 
  • Emotions provide information which gives us choice
  • The sacredness of silence is often misunderstood. By giving people our full attention in silence we can create a space for real and generative thinking and alter the space between people 
  • Silence is also a gift to ourselves 
  • Creating a “Thin Space” is about connecting to that inside of us that is bigger than ourselves and is a way of expressing what Presence is really about 
  • Irvine’s work see him be invited into a variety of groups and Leadership settings. He is currently working with Police Officer in the United States helping them access their emotional intelligence when often they are triggered. 
  • There is always the space to learn with emotions and by using emotional intelligence 
  • Build the capacity to cultivate two particular mindsets; one of Curiosity and Humility
  • People express emotions very differently but it is important to recognise that we do have range. Irvin is often very curious when he hears people use a limited range of words to describe emotions. 
  • The more people can name their emotions, the depth and range they experience the more they are able to enjoy interpersonal relations & connection 
  • People have a rich deposit, richer than Gold in the range of emotions they have by which to navigate their circumstances. 
  • Emotions are messages. They tell us what is happening in our lives, what concerns we might be having and what is not in play. 

Resources Shared 

Sep 01, 2021
Culture Matters: The Four Values to Supercharge Your Business with Alan O'Neill

Introduction: Alan O Neill is a Consultant, Author and Keynote Speaker specialising in Change Management,  Organisational Culture & Customer Experience. He is a visiting Professor with ESA Beirut and for more than 30 years he was worked with some of the most iconic brands from around the world. His latest book, Culture Matter, The Four Values to Supercharge your Business makes an overwhelming case for a carefully designed Culture. 

Podcast Episode Summary

This episode explores the importance of calling out values for Organisational health and success. Alan helps me and I hope the listeners get crystal clear on why Culture Matters and what you can do to further improve business success. In particular he explains why he chose the four values he describes in his book, Customer Centricity, Respect, Accountability and Agility. 


Points made over the episode

  • Alan O Neill started his career in Retail and at the age of 24 opened his first jewellery store. After a change in the business climate he moved into training 
  • He built Harvest a well-known training company here in Ireland 
  • He recognised that training is only one subject of change and he wanted to add more value to clients across the entire supply chain. He started his own company Kara 23 years ago offering Organisational Change, Culture Change and Customer Experience Programs 
  • Every Organisation has a culture and only a very few actually work hard to define theirs. 
  • Culture is articulated by repetitive behaviours, often ones that were never envisaged. 
  • Culture is always being nibbled at and it is important to recognise that Culture shapes strategy and not the other way around. 
  • Important that Leaders are brought on a journey to understand the impact of their culture. 
  • Alan identified the 4 values he calls out in his book after 30 years in business and by noticing the ones that were consistently absent. 
  • Customer Centricity is important today given our global connectivity and the speed/visibility by which customers can accept or reject product. Customer Experience is the leveller. It is the new battle ground not Product Differentiation of old. 
  • Respect is the second values Alan cites. He remarked on how wonderful it was that Joe Biden called out respect as a value he wanted to see in the Whitehouse as a way of delineating the significant difference from the previous administration
  • Accountability is the third. This is a value that helps people take “real” responsibility and ownership for their roles. 
  • Agile is an almost must have in business today to support the frenetic pace we are living
  • Companies very often have values, they are on their websites and are on the walls. They are very often not lived. Good practice is to check, design a survey, conduct a focus group or 1:1 to see what is living in the minds of an organisations people 
  • Values are often unseen, even unconscious but they are part of our DNA and instinctively will guide our behaviours. That is why it is important to call out the values you want to see lived. 
  • Calling out particular values will set the tone, provide an organisational framework for Leadership, Processes and the way things will get done. 
  • Alan does not agree that people are resistant to change he believes they are more resistant to coercion. Culture Change requires time and it is important to be contextual share the “Why” for a culture refresh
  • The risk that employing Alan’s 4 values will mean that companies are cooky cutters of each other is a nonsense. Values are interpreted differently by different companies and Alan shares the example of Selfridges and Primark where both would call out Customer Centricity as being a core value. Their approach and interpretation of Customer Centricity is entirely different 
  • Teams need to live the values set by the organisation and as a practice they should regularly reflect on how they are living those values and how they are behaving with each other. 
  • Top Teams need to role model Organisational Values and the CEO is responsible for this activity. 
  • Alan describes how he would support an organisation do a Culture Refresh and it boils down to three phases-Discovery-Launch-Roll Out. 
  • The Launch is incredibly important as it creates an iconic memory in the minds of the people working in the company and makes a cascade of values that much easier. 
  • Culture is a well-known phenomenon but Alan would love if more people understood the impact a current culture is having on an Organisation. He encourages business owners and Leaders to get their hands around Culture and call out the required behaviours otherwise they will be assumed. 
  • He also warned that if Companies and Organisations have a set of values and they know they are not living them then they should gently take them down because they are doing more harm than good. 
  • His book is a lovely and memorable read 

Resources shared 

  • O’Neill. Alan: Culture Matters: The Four “Must-Have” Values to Supercharge Your Business. Open Press 
Jul 15, 2021
Can you Rise to the Top without Losing Your Soul with Douglas Board

Introduction: Douglas Board has enjoyed a backstage pass into Britons power bases for over 30 years. As a head-hunter he was a gatekeeper for some of the country’s high places working for a leading Executive Search firm called Saxton Bampfylde, where he later became deputy Chairman. Douglas holds several board positions one of which was as Treasurer for the Diana, Princess of Wales Trust. In 2010 he received a doctorate looking at how we chose Leaders. Douglas is also an author and his latest book is called Elites, How to rise to the top without losing your soul. 


Podcast Episode Summary

This episode explores the journey that Douglas has been on over the last 15 years. A serendipitous encounter with migrant construction workers in Mumbai in 2006 disrupted Douglas enough to consider jumping off his hamster wheel of work and his rather rarefied life  to consider what he might not be seeing of the world and life. He pursued a Doctorate, employed Coaching as a way to make a living and wrote several books including his latest called. Elites. 


Points made over the episode

  • The last 15 years of Douglas Board’s life have been an exciting journey of exploration & discovery
  • In 2006, a study trip with Leaders Quest saw him face to face with migrant construction workers in Mumbai
  • That encounter altered the trajectory of his next 15 years
  • A Doctorate in 2010 awakened him to the subject of power & politics and how the way we are taught to think about these two topics is unhelpful 
  • Douglas was keen to learn how to offer his learning to others which motivated him to write and in particular write Elites. 
  • Douglas shares how the book was written and what it purports to share. He shares the 3 symbols he uses to delineate the subject matter under discussion. A mountain symbolises the reality of a senior level executive, a magnifying glass the ideas he shares and a squiggly arrow the journey Douglas is on
  • Elites was written for a number reasons but mostly to reach hidden heroes and heroines in organisations and then to bust some myths and illuminate the wizardry of corporate life
  • The book starts by sharing a survival guide for work over 10 walks. Douglas goes further to reveal the players in organisations and in particular the hidden heroes. He questions our definition of success and he offers the possibility that we may have been educated, certainly in the West, by the wrong idea of what it means to be human
  • We think too much in individualist terms by our solitary minds “I think therefore I am” when we are in fact much more connected 
  • Ubuntu is an African belief that says “ I am because you are” so our existence emerges and does not precede the social and the group
  • A team is either a collection of individual decision makers who chose to collaborate or It exists in the complexity of multiple human interactions, of which Team is one form, that human beings find their existence. 
  • Ubuntu says that parts of us are buried in other more diverse people and by implication means that we ought to be encouraged to explore and be curious to meet other people because you never know when you might meet part of yourself. 
  • The notion of Power changed for Douglas by year two of his Doctorate. 
  • Our typical definition of Power is often voiced as meaning the resources or techniques we use to get what we want 
  • If we assume the notion of Ubuntu that definition becomes very stupid indeed
  • We are a very anxious society. We know that connection is important for our survival and we seem to have forgotten how to be in connection 
  • One way is to master the skill of listening
  • We also have to dismantle our thinking about Power – accept that we know a lot already and getting to the top might not be the answer, it also might not have to be a selfish act
  • Douglas offers the ideas that we can be in more choice, we can look deeper into our organisations and recognise the heroes that exist and when we do get to the top to think about rolling on and give space for others to make a contribution before hubris sets in 
  • The question about dreaming about a world without politics is adeptly answered
  • There is beauty in a team making decisions using the triple lens of Science, Politics and Intuition 
  • We could think about Power as an incredible way of discerning patterns and dynamics and using that to inform new possibilities 
  • We need to open up the conversation about Power, accept it exists and employ it usefully for its potency for navigating trends/patterns/dynamics 
  • We assume our organisations are based on merit and often we protect that thinking. Power has often been silenced when instead it is a natural phenomenon. 
  • Douglas ends by sharing his optimism for this new way of thinking about Power and likens this shift to the open discussions about Sex that happened in the 1950s 

Resources shared 

  • Board, Douglas: Elites; Can you rise to the top without losing your soul? 
Jul 01, 2021
Unstuck: How To Unlock & Activate The Wisdom Of Others with Craig Lemasters

Introduction Craig Lemasters former CEO of a $5bln Fortune 500 subsidiary Assurant Solutions, is an author, entrepreneur, investor and board member with more than two decades of success in executive leadership positions. He is now CEO of GXG an advisory company dedicated to helping other senior leaders get unstuck on the major growth challenges to their businesses 


Podcast Episode Summary

This episode illuminates what it means for organisations and in particular top teams to get unstuck with respect to the major business challenges they face. Craig shares his deceptively simple formula and steps to help others get unstuck. Wisdom is a combination of Knowledge and Experience and when businesses face into growth outside of what is core they often fall short of critical wisdom Craig helps readers and clients appreciate there is an alternative to being stuck. The first step on the journey is humility. This conversation explores not only the methodology but the many themes about Leadership, Biases, Stereotypes and Patterns that keep us stuck. The book is littered with gems of wisdom, models, knowledge sources and references to critical and timely research. The book is 108 pages long and while seemingly short is anything but.  


Points made over the episode

  • Craig Lemasters now runs a company called GXG, an advisory boutique to help organisations get unstuck on the major growth challenges to their businesses. 
  • He started his company 6 years ago and after working with several clients it was suggested he write his methodology in a book. This book is called Unstuck, how to unlock and activate the wisdom of others 
  • Craig defines wisdom as a combination of Knowledge and Experience 
  • He shares that it is OK to be stuck but we have to be willing to admit it to ourselves and have the humility to ask for help. 
  • The circle of stuck is an example of the many activities people identify with at work where busy, like the many meetings we have and the many voices we copy in emails etc… is confused with momentum and activity. 
  • Leaders have to pick a destination. Strategy is not the destination and not the end game it is only the beginning. 
  • By putting B in the middle of a flip chart we can begin the work of identifying wisdom gaps. 
  • Craig walks us through the digital transformation challenge he faced at Assurant and describes the process he engaged to breakthrough his self-imposed stuck. 
  • It is extraordinary how often people in business at the start of this process deny their current reality. -Humility is key
  • These first few steps raise awareness about the number of wisdom gaps a team might face in pursuing a particular growth strategy. 
  • Leaders need to address the wisdom gap and very often that wisdom is housed in personas outside of the business and often in unrelated industry’s.
  • The importance of humility and being able to hold the truth are some of the lessons Craig shares from his experience working with organisations willing to explore his methodology. 
  • Leaders still suffer many biases and stereotypes that keep them away from considering this methodology. 
  • The belief “ I should know”
  • Not realising that the job of Leadership is to make choices and create a culture that lifts people up
  • An over identification with self interest
  • A capacity deficit to dialogue 


  • GXG source and locate advisory boards full of people who have the necessary wisdom to advice boards. This is a critical part of his methodology and it works because these people do not have an agenda but have the credibility and knowledge to impart. 
  • There needs to be an instance of candid conversations, conversations without internal wrangling and agendas for his process to be a success. 
  • Boards were originally conceived to support Leaders with operational issues they now assume a far greater governance role. Some of Craig’s clients are now developing shadow boards to get at the required wisdom necessary to compete in a VUCA world. 
  • The last chapter of Unstuck focuses on the idea of accessing Joy at work. Craig Lemasters sees no reason why we cannot be happy and lead dignified lives at work. 
  • Covid-19 has taught Craig a few things that we would like to see continued. 
  • Know people more than just knowing about them. 
  • More priorities does not mean better. As Leaders we need to de-stress people by making better and tighter choices so that fewer priorities are appropriate 
  • Flexible working is a paradigm that has been shattered and proven to work 
  • Let’s stop the game of 10 year plans and instead focus closer in and execute. 


Resources shared 

  1. Lemasters, Craig. Unstuck: How to Unlock and Activate the Wisdom of Others, Front Edge Publishing, 2020 
  2. Collins, James C. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap & Others Don’t. New York: Harper Collins 2001
  3. Kanter, Rosabeth Moss. Think Outside the Building: How Advanced Leaders can Change the World One Smart Innovation at a Time. New York: Viking 2013
  4. GXG.
Jun 15, 2021
The Amazing Journey-Transformational Team Development with Peter Bluckert

Introduction Peter Bluckert is the founder of Courage & Spark, pioneers & thought leaders in the Gestalt approach to Leadership Development. He is also the founder and has led and grown four successful coaching & Leadership Development consultancies. Peter is a prolific writer. He is the author of several books & articles including; Psychological Dimensions of Executive Coaching, Gestalt Coaching-Right Here Right Now and Gestalt Coaching: Distinctive Features. He also co-founded the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC). Peter’s other passion is music and for this episode, he asked the acoustic musician Ed Boyd, band member of Lunasa and Flook to compose an outro to simulate team coaching. I sincerely hope you enjoy both the conversation and this music piece. 


Podcast Episode Summary

This episode illuminates what is involved in a transformational team development journey. Peter explores the role of a Team Coach and shares some important distinctions & capacities that Team Coaches need to possess to support team development. The episode is littered with gems, words of wisdom and stories that bring to life Peter’s approach and the value of his offer. I particularly enjoyed his football story at the end of this episode where Peter demonstrates his skill in genuinely helping a team transform. 


Points made over the episode

  • The reason for entitling this episode as The Amazing Journey is explained 
  • Peter Bluckert’s model and approach often takes anywhere between 18 months to 4 years with a team. 
  • It is not uncommon that a team will approach this work with some order of anxiety and trepidation even resistance. 
  • Team Coaches can have influence and impact with a team.  They can improve the quality of conversation, help the team offer deep levels of sharing, disrupt dysfunctional patterns, improve team mood, spirit and belief & accelerate personal and leadership development. 
  • Important that a team coach has the ability to create conditions of deep trust and psychological safety. 
  • Openness, Trust and Safety are critical success factors in team development 
  • Often Team Coaches meet their own anxiety by over structuring events and relying too heavily on content. 
  • Our role is to create enough space for the Team to do their work 
  • Team Coaches need to possess a holding presence, they need to grade their experiments and not go too fast. They need to invite team members to stand in the metaphorical swimming pool and take a dip
  • Context is such that we have to manage our own anxiety and help the team see that slowing things down is the work to reflect, to notice self to notice self in relation to others -all requires a different pace
  • As Team Coaches we have to hold the tension and not react to a client by giving them an approximation of their world. 
  • Process versus Content is an important distinction Peter learnt early on in his career. Most of us have only a partial awareness of this important distinction. 
  • By being overly focused on content we miss each other, we miss communication issues, we miss team dynamics and relationship issues. We miss a lot. 
  • Peter shares how he introduces a team to group process work. 
  • He then described his model and approach to team development. He shared it is a combination of individual work and team work as well as a focus on the Leader. 
  • He invites the team to declare their current reality and to determine what it needs to learn and change to deliver its stated mission. He determines if the team has a clear and compelling Purpose, Values and Team Behaviours as well as Group Norms that team members will buy into. 
  • In addition he will afford the team skill development as well as teaching moments, including the ability to self -reflect, build awareness, take personal responsibility  & regulate emotions. He works to uncover team dynamics and finally he supports a team consider their immunity to change using the work of Kegan & Lahey. 
  • The work Peter does with a team could be described as Truth Telling. 
  • He helps the team develop their capacity to dialogue, to notice their own patterns, bias’s and habits. 
  • Team Coaching is complex and  as an external intervener we never know all that is going on in a system. We can get lost, blind- sided by a team and in those moments we have to be patient to allow the fog to clear and gently see what might be figural. We have to be careful how we share and put into the team. It is wise to   offer stuff lightly with humility. 
  • Working with teams Peter will check for the kind of support that is available for team coaching and the level of real commitment for the work 
  • Peter closed the episode by sharing a piece of pivotal work he did with a football team in Ireland that was in danger of being relegated. In this we hear his approach and success with the team. 
  • Finally Peter shared the reason for the change in outro that listeners will experience by listening to the end of the episode
  • The Outro has been composed by Ed Boyd an Irish acoustic musician who play for two bands Lunasa and Flook. This piece was created to approximate team life. A beautiful composition. 


Resources shared 

  • Bluckert P. Psychological Dimensions of Executive Coaching, 2006, Open University Press
  • Bluckert P. Gestalt Coaching; Right Here, Right Now. 2015, Open University Press
  • Bluckert P. Gestalt Coaching-Distinctive Features, 2021, Routledge
  • Ed Boyd, member of the Lunasa band, a traditional Irish Music Group named after Lughnasadh an ancient harvest festival, provided the Outro music to this episode. 
Jun 01, 2021
The Long Win with Cath Bishop

Introduction: Cath Bishop is a three-time Olympian, World Champion and Olympic Silver medallist in rowing. In her career as Diplomat, she specialised in stabilisation policy for conflict affected areas of the world. In business Cath acts as a Business Coach & Consultant, advising on Teams and Leadership Development. She also teaches on the Executive Education Programs for Judge Business School at Cambridge University. 

Podcast episode Summary: The book, The Long Win is a deep and rewarding exploration of human motivation, in sport, politics, business & our personal lives. This episode explores Cath Bishops alternative approach to a zero sum approach to winning. Her approach is housed in an alliterative 3 C’s, developing Clarity, Constant learning and Connection. Cath’s passion for a different approach to success and in solving our  worlds complex issues is palpable across this conversation. 

Points made throughout the Episode: 


  • The book served as vehicle to make sense of Cath’s experiences, failures and wins.  Cath looked at the common themes that could get at sustainable performance
  • She observed our collective obsession with defining winning on narrow terms 
  • Her aim for this book is to challenge our definition of success, challenge the simple metrics on which we so depend & to begin to define broader success criteria that matter. 
  • A meaningful purpose is one that offers a contribution outside of ourselves, is meaningful, it allows us have agency and connect more widely to be part of something together. 
  • Having broader aims allows us to be resilient, to be creative in the face of setbacks and to be involved not just from a head space but from a heart space too. 
  • She invariably challenges metrics to wonder what might not be housed in a metric that also matters. 
  • In her experience as an Olympian athlete especially for her first two experiences Cath noticed a very dominant theme. Toughness. It took failing on a big scale for Cath to ask some tough questions of herself. She took a year out. 
  • Cath’s third experience in Athens was different.  Cath appreciated the change in sport psychology.  It wasn’t necessarily about “fixing athletes” that led to performance gains but to an appreciation of the Culture and environment in which athletes trained. Removing fear and separating out performance from results. To an understanding that more things about an athlete, like mindset, behaviours, relations with others contributed to the performance. 
  • These learnings underpinned what became for Cath her 3 C’s, Clarity, Continuous Learning and Connection. 
  • Cath is often invited into Corporate Settings to explore her wins and help others be winners. She explains that this is not the question. Instead she asks how Leaders can share why their organisation exists, the difference it makes to society and then to go about connecting and making links with every employee. 
  • Start what Success means to the team on a broader level. Cath shares a story of where a team was facing into miserable results but with her help they were able to mine the real learning they had achieved over the year. 
  • She extols a Growth Mindset made famous by Carol Dweck. Cath asks teams to look at what went well, to leverage learning and be prepared to do consistent reviews. This gets people away from having only one metric the outcome. 
  • Cath learnt the capacity of connection as a Diplomat. She notes that it is a little bit mad that it took a Pandemic for organisations to give themselves permission to ask people how they are. Importantly we should take stock about why that was the case. 
  • In her capacity as a Diplomat Cath was keen to make connections before the content of her assignment. Who am I speaking to beyond the title? Knowing a person helps you tap into the their better part. 
  • The Brexit negotiations are really forged out of an archaic system of Zero sum games. Competition and politics where someone has to lose. 
  • Complex collaboration is required to solve some of our more wicked social problems 
  • For teams Cath suggests that each team define what success means to them, to put people first and to value the team ethos in addition to the metrics. She suggests people on teams need to take responsibility for what matters and to challenge entrenched thinking. 
  • Make sure the conversations about Purpose are not outsourced as a Comms initiative but spoken to everywhere. 
  • Cath’s biggest discovery in writing the book was the realisation that a lot of our more systemic issues and inability to collaborate are borne out of our education systems. She admires the work of Alfie Cohen in the US and his thinking on Co-operative learning as well as the approach adopted by the Nordic countries. 
  • We do not have a lot of cognitive diversity much of us have learnt the exact same curriculum. How can we allow for more choice? 
  • Begin by defining success on your own terms and lose the “should” 


  1. Bishop.C; The long win; the search for a better way to succeed
  2. Cohen.A; Punished by Rewards
  4. @thecathbishop
May 15, 2021
Team Perspectives Through The Lens Of Leadership Development with Pedro Angula

Introduction: Pedro Angulo is the Head of Leadership Development at AIB where he leads the design & implementation of enterprise wide Leadership Development initiatives. He is also a Program Director of the Diploma in Strategic HRM for the Irish Management Institute, Board Member of Green Sod Ireland and Past President and Chairman of the EMCC in Ireland. A graduate from Minnesota State University (USA) and holder of an MBS in Management and Organisational Studies from University College Dublin. He is a prolific writer and much sought-after motivational speaker. 

Podcast episode Summary: How to put attention on the Team as an important if not the most important unit of currency in Organisational Life. This episode speaks to the organisational lag in recognising the need to put attention on team life and teaming skills. Too often organisations assume you can put a bunch of talented people together and they will become a team, the reality is often very different. Listen to the many tips Pedro litters throughout this episode, emphasising attention, energy, clarity and measurement. 

Points made throughout the Episode: 

  • Pedro opens the conversation by sharing his “Why” He is passionate about people and genuinely interested in helping people be at their best 
  • He immediately illuminates the gaps that exist with respect to teams and teaming in organisations of which he is apart 
  • Little real attention given to team effectiveness. Much is spent of team development and confusion exists about what it takes to make teams great. 
  • Organisations tend to invest at the Individual level and on the enterprise level but pay scant attention to teams. 
  • They often assume that by putting bright people together they will work it out. Invariably that is not the case and the result is a group
  • Team effectiveness is working out why the team exists, what is its purpose, how to collaborate, solve for conflict and make decisions as well as working on its dynamic to get at flow. 
  • People are often promoted because of their individual contribution and not for their teaming skills 
  • To address the gap we have to put attention on teams. Help Leaders create the conditions that allow teams thrive. Call it and or get external help if the capacity for teaming is weak or poor. 
  • Develop a standard framework or model of team effectiveness that can be scaled and measured. Great at illuminating landscape data from which development can be a resource. 
  • Organisations have individual sophistication when it comes to psychometrics and coaching but less so when it comes to Team Development 
  • Pedro has experienced Irish teams as very collegial but often that collegiality can stand in the way of constructive dialogue. As well there is too much focus on the now and not enough on Horizon level 3 thinking 
  • Too much “vanilla” exists on Irish teams not enough or sufficient diversity especially in terms of diversity of thought risking a maintenance of the Status Quo.
  • Pedro would love to see more inclusivity, much greater challenge on teams, innovation and psychological safety. 
  • To help a team think team a Leader needs to believe he needs a team and ask for a  team. Too often a Leader is focused on his stalk of work or on individual concerns to promote a team culture. 
  • We continue to promote people on individual performance and to wit we often tie that performance to individual goals. 
  • Leadership Pathways are often constructed in a way that misses the opportunity to provide real transitional leadership development 
  • Enterprise Leadership thinking and skills are bereft. 
  • “Values are like posters” we could do better to nurture what is important to an Individual and speak those to the teams of which they are apart to appreciate what could be supportive and what could detract from the team’s performance 
  • Covid-19 imposed a strict regime of virtual working and by and large the Bank fared well. More is required to really support Leaders in this domain. The Bank has provided guidebooks, toolkits to support leaders get at continued engagement, motivation and clarity in a virtual way. Pedro is not convinced they are doing enough. 
  • In a context such as the Pandemic Clarity, Check-ins and Energy is what is required. Energy means showing you care & are interested in helping others manage their energy. 
  • Funny that people are suffering from Zoom fatigue. Maybe they are but maybe the right level of energy and psychological safety is missing 
  • Leaders often assume they create high levels of psychological safety but do they? 
  • It is sad that we have to hire external consultants to point out what we are seeing already every day. 
  • Leaders need to take ownership for their part in the creation of the culture where people are afraid to speak up. 
  • Pedro shared examples of where a Leader could disrupt high levels of agreement when really disagreement could be valued. 
  • Organisations keep rewarding A when they are asking for B
  • We keep rewarding individual performance when we are looking for team collaboration 
  • We need to stop promoting people for their technical competence and solo runs
  • We need to change the definition of what it means to be promoted in organisations.
  • We have to focus on the team as an entity and work on incremental team norms of performance 
  • Everybody contributes to the team dynamic important to discuss what it is
  • Role of Leader to up the teams performance norm. 
  • Net Promoter Score is a valuable measurement often used with  Customers. It could easily be used in teams as well 
  • Important for a team to think about its own context and to share a purpose that is relevant to the team. Pedro asks teams to think about their legacy and what they want to be known for and how they would like to be seen. How are you going to be different? 
  • Pedro’s closing remarks were really a call to action. 
  • Be ruthless with measurement
  • Go to where the team is at 
  • Teams work in context of an organisation alignment is key
  • Teams evolve and are often fluid
  • Don’t forget the complexity inherent on teams 
  • Too easy to think about changing the structure – look at the practices get close to teams 

Resources shared 

  • Simon Sinek: Together is better
May 01, 2021
Re-thinking The Human Dimension Of Teams With Geetu Bharwaney

Introduction: Geetu Bharwaney is the founding CEO of Ei World. Geetu’s specialism is the advanced application of emotional intelligence which focuses on the awareness and development of emotional resilience & the associated micro-skills of understanding, managing and switching emotions. Geetu, is recognised as a thought leader & speaker and is a prolific author. Her chapter in The Practitioners handbook of Team Coaching expounds her approach. She is also renowned for her book on Emotional Resilience: how to be agile, adaptable and always perform at our best. Published in 2015. 

Podcast episode Summary: Geetu Bharwaney introduces us to a framework developed by Professor Vanessa Druskat & Dr Steven Wolff, a methodology employed by Ei, that helps teams understand the characteristics of outstanding team performance and the work necessary to cultivate this level of performance through the rules of engagement within a team. She further explores the human dimension of teams and the core emotional & social needs of a team, belonging, shared understanding and control, that have now become primary since Covid-19. Geetu litters the episode with vignettes, words of wisdom, takeaways as well as Ei’s framework that make this episode a must listen. 

Points made throughout the Episode: 

  • Geetu’s career was highly influenced by her own struggles with Cancer and her need to explore the intersection between health/emotional wellbeing/life patterns & general lived experiences. 
  • Outstanding team performance is first served by getting 3 fundamentals in place, setting clear goals, having effective meetings and clear roles and responsibilities
  • Research shows that these 3 fundamentals while critical only amount to average performance. 
  • To move the needle, outstanding team performance can be achieved by first understanding and then developing 9 team norms. 
  • These 9 team norms sit under 3 categories which include; Team members as individuals with each other, The team as a unit and the Team with its stakeholders 
  • We can think of these norms as expectations and when well delivered can achieve outcomes such as Psychological Safety, A strong sense of belonging and an ability for robust dialogue. 
  • By managing the emotional dimensions of a team, the team is effectively building a culture with very specific sets of norms. 
  • The individual category: Team Understanding, Addressing Unhelpful behaviour on a team (different from individual feedback) and how to demonstrate caring on a team
  • The team as a unit: Review the team in terms of its process and achievement of intended outcomes (not outputs), Support expression on the team, Building Optimism and Solving Problems Proactively
  • Team with its Stakeholders: Understand Team Context & proactively build external relations. It is important to get at the perspectives held by the team & others in terms of how they are doing against all of these norms. This engages dialogue on the team 
  • Everything is VUCA. We are in an accelerated mode and we need to cut through the noise to get at what is meaningful and at the heart of true performance. 
  • One practical tool to employ with a team is the idea of exorcising team ghosts, the ghosts of a team’s history, the ghost of the Leader, and all of the ghosts that are in the way of a team being clear about how they want to work with each other
  • This exercise normalises the ghosts on teams and makes the undiscussables discussable. 
  • Tools like the one above help free and also release the many pent up emotions that exist on teams 
  • Ei’s approach with a team starts by getting clear on the business imperative and then moving to the pains experienced by team members. Ei, then moves to educate the team on the Emotional Framework explored above and it helps the team to quickly benchmark itself and then chose the work. 
  • A more in depth approach is detailed in Geetu’s chapter in David Clutterbucks book, The Practitioners Guide to Team Coaching. 
  • Covid-19 has brought the human dimension of teams to the foreground. 
  • What was known about the core emotional and social needs of a team is now centre stage. Three core needs include belonging, shared understanding and control or the autonomy to have a modicum of control in a very uncertain world. 
  • If more Leaders can understand this human dimension they will be in better service of a team
  • A reset is needed if we are to explore our collective trauma and psyche on teams. 
  • It starts with the self. Selfcare, Self-reflection and self-responsibility – means put self -first if we are then to tend to others 
  • The ART of self-leadership means building self-awareness, resilience and then my contribution in the team. 
  • Geetu, implores us to mine the opportunity 2020 has afforded the planet-don’t act with yesterday’s thinking, instead use the wisdom gleaned in 2020 and the wisdom we already know to rich dialogue. 
  • Now is the moment 


  1. Team Emotional Intelligence Framework
  2. Geetu’s book “Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best” and Audiobook
  3. Dr. Geetu Bharwaney’s company website, Ei World:
  4. Accreditation in Team Emotional Intelligence framework:
  5. Bharwaney, G, Wolff, S.B. and Druskat, V.U. (2019). Emotion and team performance: team coaching mindsets and practices for team interventions. In Clutterbuck, D., Gannon, J. et. al (Eds). Practitioner’s Handbook of Team Coaching, Chapter 13, pp 192-209. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.
  6. Bharwaney, G. (2015). Emotional Resilience: Know how to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education.
  7. Bharwaney, G. (2009). Coaching for emotional intelligence in international business environments: Challenges and opportunities. In G. Abbott, & M. Moral. (Eds). The Routledge Companion to International Business Coaching.
  8. Susan Fiske; Social Cognition: Selected Works of Susan Fiske, 2018  
Apr 15, 2021
Building High Performing Teams

Introduction: Lucy Widdowson is an Executive, Team & Leadership Development Coach. She is also a Director of Performance Edge and a lead Tutor on Team Coaching at Henley Business School. Paul J. Barbour is an Executive, Team & Leadership Development Coach. He is an award winning student on the Henley MSc in Coaching & Behavioural change. Together they have written a book to be launched early in 2021 called Building High Performance Teams. 

Podcast episode Summary: The book, Building High Performance Teams informs much of the conversation across this episode. It speaks to Team Coaching, the role of the Team Coach and importantly the “why” for collaborative teams. Paul & Lucy share their combined passion for their work, their unique framework Creating the Team Edge, developed by Lucy & many vignettes to bring the book and their work to life. 

Points made throughout the Episode: 

  • Lucy and Paul both met at Henley studying for an MSC in Coaching & Behavioural Change
  • For her Thesis Lucy researched the impact of using “Creating the team edge” with teams
  • A passing comment about writing a book together became a reality after much dialogue and contracting 
  • Initially Paul was interested in writing a book about conflict resolution given his background and experience working in Northern Ireland. 
  • Paul & Lucy became a mini team writing the book together but what surprised them was how frequently they brought in the wider system, their respective families and their network to support some of the ideas for the book. 
  • Paul’s girls were instrumental in creating titles for many of the books chapters. 
  • The book was revelatory and confirmed for the authors that connection before content is paramount. 
  • Important always to set time to confront vulnerabilities & concerns upfront even in times of extreme deadlines. 
  • The importance of the books Purpose and how it shaped the strategy and collective objectives 
  • The book is a grounded book that takes in the research and literature on teams and team coaching but it also is extremely practical
  • Some favourite tools do standout for the authors; Personal tools, asking people to go away from their desks to identity something personal and meaningful can be a gateway  for real understanding on teams. A constellation of a swimming pool, an exercise in the book can help a team ask deeper and get more openness and understanding of the team & its dynamics. 
  • The book is a book of two parts. Chapters 1-4 situate readers in the domain of team coaching. Chapters 4-11 describe Creating the Team Edge Framework. 
  • 7 Chapters describe, Purpose, Identity, Values & Behaviours, Awareness, Relatedness, Ways of Working and Transformation
  • Of the 7 characteristics; System Awareness, Identity and Transformation are perhaps the least discussed on teams 
  • The authors were keen to impress that  Team Coaching is not about the use of Tools and techniques and they devote an entire chapter to that theme. It is so much more. In fact the role comprises there states, being, knowing and doing. 
  • In terms of being a Coach or Team Coach needs to consider their quotient of Courage, Connection, Confidence and Continuing development. 
  • Whilst the book outlines the approach that informs the authors framework it is not to be considered a mechanistic process. Paul & Lucy provide a bespoke per team approach that combines some combination of Diagnostic, Co-design of the program, combination of 1:1coaching, Observation, Team Interventions and Evaluation at the end the program. 
  • Contracting and re-contracting is an important feature of Team Coaching & it comprises one of the called out competencies as provided by the International Coaching Federation. 
  • Teams are often too embroiled in task and short term delivery to notice the wider system in which they operate as well as the need to step back and notice their collective mindset. 
  • What does the team believe about collective learning, creativity & innovation, inclusion & diversity and wellbeing? These are some of the questions addressed in the books final chapter. 
  • Team Coaches are vulnerable and apt to make mistakes in complex, adaptive systems. Lucy and Paul both described situations where they felt they made errors in judgement with a team
  • Lucy and Paul are about to commence a new Team Coaching Program at Henley Business School in 2021. The program addresses three themes; The Foundation of Team Coaching, Applying Theory and Practice and becoming an Advanced Team Coach Practitioner. 
  • Essentially this program brings the theory and practice together. 
  • How do we play in the world of today and tomorrow. So much need exists especially in the realm of collaboration. 
  • The book and their program at Henley is for now providing both authors with considerable excitement and joy. 



Apr 01, 2021
Lessons from the River with Joe Jacobi

Introduction: Joe Jacobi is an Olympic Gold Medallist, winner of America’s first ever Olympic Gold Medal in Whitewater Canoe Slalom in Barcelona in 1992. Joe is also a performance coach with Valor Performance Inc. helping Leaders & Teams perform at their best without compromising their lives. Joe writes and has a blog called Sunday Morning Joe where he shares his wisdom, insights and lessons learnt from the river in a post every week. 

Podcast episode Summary: How to transfer ideas learnt on the river operating as a high performance athlete to Leaders, teams and organisations looking to improve performance. Joe uses the River as a metaphor either on the river in rafts or in a conference room or both to build better performance, to encourage the adoption of better mindsets, strategies and ultimately cultures of excellence. Joe often employs unconventional paths to learning, counterintuitive frameworks for rethinking approaches in a manner that is easily transferable. 

Points made throughout the Episode: 


  • Joe opens the conversation by sharing that he is currently writing on a very particular theme and will do so for the next six months. The theme is “The Pursuit of contentment on the River of Uncertainty” 
  • Joe shared his knack for being able to check-in with himself to wonder about his performance in the pursuit of objectives from a very early age. 
  • Joe was fortuitous enough to have grown up in Washington DC, the home of top performance culture for Whitewater River Slalom Canoeing on the Patomic River
  • He grew up surrounded by top performers and coaches. 
  • He was never attracted to the Olympics in fact the sport was only reinstated as an Olympic sport in 1989. That allowed him experience the river with a focus on being the best he could be along with friends who were interested in paddling against the backdrop of the amazing culture on the Patomic River. 
  • Today the sport is very attached to the Olympics and the values of winning and results. 
  • Joe enjoyed a long career in his chosen sport and returned to the Olympics in 2004 when he was aged 34. He also ran a Gold Medal Kayak Camp that allowed him grow as a teacher and coach, giving voice to the River in a meaningful way. 
  • In 2008 he was the Olympic commentator for the sport for NBC, a position that kept him connected to the sport and to the many top performing athletes. He was the Global story teller for the sport. 
  • The River,  Joe shares has been his best life coach and his C2 partner (Scott) his best relationship coach. He learnt how to communicate, mostly non-verbally, how to respect difference and leverage their combined difference with respect to other Olympic teams. The work was often hard and testing and they did rely on a sports psychologist.
  • Today Joe talks about Rocks as the challenges we face in Corporate life and the counterintuitive task of befriending them. 
  • This lesson is not just philosophical but grounded in an understanding of Maths, Science and Hydrology. 
  • Another idea or lesson is the use of the “paddle” Joe explains that it is important to assess where you can draw energy without overusing the power of the paddle and shares how that approximates in corporate life in the patience, posture, understanding of physiology and mindset. 
  • Teams often want to be synchronised and that means going slower, certainly initially to see “the paddle strokes” Not an easy lesson to practice. 
  • By paddling slowly and together teams can respond to uncertainty appropriately. 
  • Teams have to understand how they operate at lower cadence and at higher cadence when needed but importantly not to always operate at one speed. 
  • Teams therefore have to get honest with each other and figure out how to navigate the “River” of their businesses effectively. 
  • Important to appreciate how to rest, how to use down time and to manage energy. 
  • Joe would like to see workplaces be more compassionate, to allow people to be vulnerable to share what is going on outside of the hours of work so as to manage their energy over time. 
  • How do Leaders encourage people to have the confidence and trust to say when they are “off” to nurture reciprocal kindness. 
  • Love, safety and belonging are basic human needs on teams. Yet many Leaders practice Fear, Control and Duality thinking. 
  • Leaders need to be congruent between what they espouse and how they act. 
  • River Mapping is an exercise that Joe employs to provide a powerful way to explore a team’s approach to business objectives. The River allows for a different language and way to communicate that is often more open and honest. 
  • Covid-19 saw Joe lose a parent, his Father died in May of 2020 and Joe had to manage that loss from afar. It also saw him work with a group of High Performing Surgeons 
  • Joe reminds us of the need to see the human in front of us and to remember the lost art of connection and communication. 
  • Covid has meant remote working and zoom life for many of us and that has often blurred the buffers we used to rely on. In parting Joe shares some simple tips to manage energy while using zoom and to find ways to create buffers for energy restoration 

Resources shared 

Mar 15, 2021
Smart Conversations with Teams

Introduction: Irial O Farrell is the owner of her own company called Evolution Consulting which will soon merge with a company called Pebble, an Irish Consulting company. Irial is an accredited Master in Change Management and distinguished in other disciplines such as Learning and Development, Emotional Intelligence, Organisational Design and Executive Coaching. She is also the author of two books; Values; Not just the office Wall Plaque and SMART Objective setting for managers, a roadmap.  

Podcast episode Summary: The book, SMART objective setting for managers: A roadmap, unpacks many of the conundrums faced by managers in managing others. This episode explores the content and relevance for SMART objectives on teams. Irial helps us understand why SMART objectives are often outsourced, overlooked & misunderstood. The book is a roadmap to substantially improve the design and setting of effective objectives including behavioural objectives to really drive increased performance.

Points made throughout the Episode:


  • Performance & our behaviours at work is a consequence of the systems we are apart that are often unconscious or blind to us.
  • Part of the work of performance management is making those systems clear and aligned.
  • Building better business is primarily about clarity, clarity of design and alignment of many parts of the business, including Purpose, Vision, Strategy, Plans & Processes as well as the human capabilities needed to execute against these design initiatives.
  • The interface between system sight and capabilities is where things often go wrong
  • Performance management is the subject matter about which Irial choses to write.
  • Her first book was born in 2011. Values only made sense to Irial after a coaching course she attended in 2006.
  • Understanding the role & purpose of values can provide enormous relief and avoid the potential for conflict and emotional turmoil. The same is true for teams organisations
  • In 2019 the book SMART objective setting for managers was written to help managers have meaningful conversations with others around performance
  • Objective setting is often seen as something important to HR and not as a sacrosanct Manager tool- as such the potency and richness of dialogue is lost
  • The tasks involved in a managers role are often misplaced. More definition and clarity is required.
  • SMART is a framework that has endured and it is especially potent as an individual tool. When it is brought forward in a 1:1 capacity or with a team it is the communication that is critical and often lost. We have to be careful about our unspoken expectations and assumptions in order to have meaningful dialogue
  • SMART objectives can enhance team behavioural norms. Some of the letters in the anacronym are particularly useful especially if things do not go to plan. The A in smart is helpful to course or chart alternative strategies for example in Covid.
  • Some of the traps that managers and teams fall prey to include work being done at the wrong level, managers afraid to let go some of the more tangible tasks about which they are comfortable to engage in less tangible conversations -management conversations like feedback, development conversations, coaching conversations.
  • Covid-19 has for sure thrown teams into a virtual reality that works for those who know their roles but for others it is problematic. New hires for example need to be onboarded.
  • Important that managers actively think about the conversation they might need to have with people who ordinarily used informal channels to seek out information. Not as easy today.




  2. Irial,O Farrell. Smart Objective Setting For Managers: A Roadmap
  3. Irial,O Farrell. Values- Not just for the office Wall Plaque-How personal and company values interect
  4. Ram Charan; Leadership Pipeline: How to Build the Leadership Powered Company
  5. The Arbinger Institute, Leadership and Self Deception
Mar 01, 2021
Brain Science in a Pandemic with Dr. Melissa Hughes

Introduction: Dr. Melissa Hughes is the Founder & President of the Andrick Group. She is also the author of happy hour by Einstein, Happier hour by Einstein and the Happier Hour with Einstein companion journal on Gratitude. Melissa holds a Phd in Curriculum and instruction and she is a self-confessed Neuroscience Geek. Melissa delivers keynote speeches and workshops geared to help organisations and individuals work smarter.

Podcast episode summary:  Melissa shared her passion for understanding how the brain works and what we can do to support greater cognitive functioning. In this episode we focused on two particular topics for optimum brain functioning on teams,  stress as an inhibitor to great thinking and cognitive bias as a way of shut-cutting excellence.


Points made through the episode:

  • The overproduction of Cortisol weakens our brain cells, eventually erodes them and makes us more stupid
  • Jaak Panksepp conducted some seminal research to understanding brain functioning and his subjects were rats, because the construct of their brains is similar to the human brain
  • He found that when a cat hair is thrown into a rat play area the rats stop playing (read learning) immediately and worryingly sometimes for days
  • Every team has a cat hair, maybe an unconscious bias that gets in the way of team performance
  • Psychological safety and emotional intelligence & personal awareness help us get better at sharing and educating the collective
  • A companies culture can unwittingly erode great thinking. A genius mindset for example can prevent people from being vulnerable because of the competitive nature of winning and showing brilliance
  • A Growth Mindset as espoused by Carol Dweck helps us all by adopting an open sharing mindset full of learning -collective intelligence can grow
  • Make mistakes normal and not secrets to be ashamed of
  • Our number one emotional need as humans is acceptance
  • Our number one emotional fear as humans is rejection
  • Pay attention to what you pay attention to because the brain looks for confirming patterns
  • Neuro Plasticity is a real phenomenon -intense, prolonged and repeated experiences chemically and physically change the brain- in other words we can continue to grow our brains
  • The brain works on the principle of use it or lose it.
  • Our inner critic needs an alternative voice if we do not want to cultivate a vicious cycle of activity.
  • Gratitude gives the giver a bigger does of neurochemicals then the receiver so on a down day remember to genuinely thank someone
  • We pay insufficient attention to cognitive bias -we all biased and much more than we think
  • There are in excess of 200 biases available to the human brain. Melissa shared a few and paid particular attention to group think. Group think erodes critical thinking and challenge. We need challenge to surface the best ideas
  • Work to play with the Neurological seesaw. Instead of focusing on reducing Cortisol or worrying about stress look instead to increasing Oxytocin, Serotonin and Dopamine


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  2. com/in/melissahughesphd
  3. Jaak Panksepp Affective Neuroscience
  4. Happy Hour with Einstein: Dr Melissa Hughes


Feb 15, 2021
The Art & Science of Facilitation with Marsha Acher

Introduction: Marsha Acker is a professional facilitator and executive coach with 25 years of experience. She is the founder and CEO of TeamCatapult, where she uses systems thinking, structural dynamics, dialogue, and agility to help teams collaborate and align with  greater clarity, purpose, and vision. Marsha is also the author for an upcoming book called; the Art & Science of Facilitation. Marsha lives in the USA and works globally.


Podcast episode summary:  In this episode Marsha shared how she bridges the use of Systems Thinking, Structural Dynamics, Dialogue and Agility in her work with teams. We explored her thinking on Facilitation and the 5 core beliefs she holds about Facilitation that comprise her stance. We talked about collaboration theatre and the work it takes to get a true collaboration. Marsha is a huge advocate for Facilitation and Team Coaching and she shared her definition between both disciplines. She left our conversation reminding us of the art of conversation & how like Margaret Wheatly the art is often undervalued for real & lasting change.


Points made through the episode:

  • Marsha has two degrees in software engineering and she has made her own journey from the very technical world to the world of Leadership
  • She is still conscious about building the gap between developers and users of content and that informs her work with teams in a systemic context
  • Systems Thinking. Dialogue, Structural Dynamics and Agile is the thinking she uses to inform her approach to client engagements
  • Dialogue and Structural Dynamics enable to movement towards wanting agile and systems sight.
  • Many teams that she works with notice the ground hog or mini groundhog conversations with which they are engaged. Dialogue principles and structural dynamics often provide the gateway to true collaboration
  • Many ways that Leaders unwittingly sabotage collaboration. She calls this collaboration theatre. Wanting difference but acting in similar ways.
  • Oppose for example is one of the moves you can make in structural dynamics and is part of healthy dialogue. Many teams avoid the discomfort of oppose or are primed not to use it. This makes for lopsided conversations and often poorly thought through conversations or ideas for decision making.
  • Marsha’s book is really about the stance Facilitators take in the room. There are five beliefs that Marsha explains & expands in her book.
  • So much of facilitation is an inside game. A good facilitator gets very familiar and comfortable with the 5 beliefs inherent in facilitation
  • Marsha claims that 21st century leaders need to become artful facilitators and coaches of teams
  • Our distributed nature of work, the networked societies in which we live mean there is a lot more complexity of which to make sense. Facilitation by leaders allows for differing voices, inquiry, innovation and collaboration
  • We have to disrupt the narrative about what it means to be a leader. Leadership of course still has a value it is just operated in a different way.
  • Marsha is invited into team systems when teams want to “up their game”, are high performing and want to continue on the same trajectory, have a stuck challenge, are having ground hog day conversation and require support to shift their patterns and where organisations are moving to an approach where more facilitation and coaching is required of Leaders
  • Marsha shared her distinction between Team Coaching and Facilitation.
  • Team Coaches can often get tripped up between the use of both or either.
  • Marsha stressed the importance of upfront conversations with teams, speaking to all of the voices or members of the team and contracting well.
  • Supervision is important to be able to unravel the complexity often met on teams
  • Team Coaches can have their own blind spots/agendas/preferences and biases that can get in the way of pure team coaching
  • Marsha now values the notion of emergence & innovation in the moment where previously she might have preferred neat team designed approaches. Important to be able to rely on support mechanisms for the many issues that can present on teams
  • Important to remember that teams are generative, creative and resourceful and even in the greatest of perturbance can find their own answers. Teams have what they need already.
  • Marsha reminded us of Margaret Wheatleys work and her book “Turning towards each other. Like Margaret, Marsha believes that human conversation as an ancient art has the power to cultivate change.
  • We can as leaders come back to the beauty of connection, to value collaboration and authenticity as well as vulnerability and still be leaderful.
  • Being vulnerable and Leaderful are not mutually exclusive concepts.



Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  2. M,2020, The Art of Facilitation: How to lead effective collaborations with Agile Teams. First Edition, Free 1st chapter can be downloaded on Marsh’s website
  3. M. 2002, Turning to One Another
  4. B; Transforming System Blindness into system sight U-tube clip
  5. F. 2014, Reinventing Organisations


Feb 01, 2021
Virtual Teaming with Jennifer Britton

Introduction: Jennifer Britton is a coach, author, award winning program designer and most recently a podcaster. Her podcast remote pathways is co-hosted with Michelle Mullins a coach in the US. Jennifer works with groups, teams and organisations in the areas of Leadership, teamwork and business success. Her own success has been borne out of the many books she has authored on Group and Team Coaching. The focus for this podcast centred on her book Effective Virtual Conversations


Podcast episode summary:  In this episode Jennifer shared her background and her connection with remote working long before the idea of remote working was even popular. She talked about how teams need to connect and how very important this is in the digital space. Jennifer illuminated for us how much of what we experience in the physical space is replicated online and often magnified. There are distinctions working remotely. Context shapes what is needed and how a team might need to adapt. Jennifer is a question mongrel she filled this episode with some tantalising questions about what teams might need to consider if they are to be called a team. The nature of remote is not going away if anything with climate change and invisible immigration it is harder to move around the world and yet our teams are global. Enter Team Coaching Online.


Points made through the episode:

  • Working remotely has been an anchor for Jennifer Britton almost throughout her entire career.
  • Worked in humanitarian realm for the UN where the mode of communication with teams in the field was a long -range radio.
  • A few experiences shaped Jennifer’s view on teams and helped her wonder about the interplay between experience, the needed pause to reflect and retool
  • The Pause today is as important especially in our VUCA world.
  • Most people are pressurised in so many ways. How can we crate micro moments for teams to reflect and redeploy effectively?
  • Her book Effective Virtual Conversations fuses the different modalities available to coaches to effectively support a team; Facilitation, Training, Coaching and Teaching.
  • Reality of our context shapes what we do & what is accessible
  • What does it take for a team to thrive and leverage that knowing with technology?
  • How do you work across boundaries, often disciplines and cultures to bring people together to serve a common cause? Trust and Connection paramount
  • Foundations for all teams still the same. Go back to work of Katzenback or Richard Hackman to surface what all teams require.
  • The remote pathway for teams means a Team Leader needs to more readily move into a role of influence and coaching.
  • In the remote space a team needs to be proactive. They do not enjoy the same luxury moments teams that occupy the same space do-such as water cooler conversations
  • Instil shared practices and shared agreements so people get comfortable with the medium of online coaching
  • Team Culture becomes even more real in an online setting. Who are we? Relationships are key. Remote does not and should not mean disconnected.
  • Create a team identity. Infuse team practices with short bursts of intense dialogue.
  • Jennifer often starts a team intervention with a team diagnostic. The data helps the team identify the pathway they may need to go down.
  • The team looks at its fundamentals and from the data chose what gets focus.
  • Questions surface about the identity of the team, the team culture, shared agreements and shared norms-much as you would in a physical environment.
  • Tricky moments occur and the team coach uses one of its tenets to know that what is needed shows up and the team is resourceful and whole and will resource a resolution
  • As team coaches we are with our own assumptions and beliefs. We need to have a toolbox to deal with the myriad of situations and contexts in which we find our client teams.
  • Keep it simple is one mantra Jennifer opines
  • Another is be visual.
  • Jennifer shared a team story where she was unable to see the team, but they could see her and with the use of one single visual and two questions she was able to help the team have conversations with each other.
  • Trust what shows up. What is happening is what is needed to happen.
  • Lean back into the basics of team effectiveness. Are you a team or a group?
  • Do you have a shared purpose? how are you interdependent? How is your work measured? How are you operating? Should you be a team or a group?
  • The role of a team coach will be oriented in the direction that best serves the entity a team or a group. Her book one to many illuminates and clarifies these questions .
  • Trust is one of the most important areas we want to put focus on to have meaningful dialogue. Without trust we are engaging in surface type conversations. Trust and trust based relations is a very dynamic area.
  • Trust is behavioural so what are the behaviours we want on this team? What are our expectations of each other to honour the individual and their difference but also to honour the needs of the team.
  • What does trust mean to us across the entire team?
  • What part of the culture is getting activated on this team if trust is an issue?
  • Jennifer closed by speaking to her own podcast. Remote Pathways.
  • In our connected always on world where climate change is asking different questions of us in terms of mobility the idea of remote working is gaining increasing currency.


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  1. Jennifer Britton: From One to Many
  2. Jennifer Britton: Effective Group Coaching
  3. Jennifer Britton: Effective Virtual Conversations
  4. Katzenbach and Smith: The discipline of teams
  5. Richard Hackman: Leading Teams & Collective Intelligence
  6. Jennifer Britton & Michelle Mullins
Jan 15, 2021
A Conversation with Janet M. Harvey, MCC

Janet M. Harvey, MCC, is a visionary, writer, speaker and coach. She is an  early adopter of a coach centred approach in the workplace. Janet works with global organisations and teams of Leaders to establish a generative, resilient and high performing culture. Janet Harvey brings her executive and entrepreneurial experience as CEO of InviteChange, Leaders in sustainable excellence through a signature generative coaching and learning process, The Generative Wholeness Way. As an ICF Master Certified Coach, Certified Mentor Coach, Accredited Coach Supervisor and ICF Global past president customers and audiences around the globe speak of Janet as a bold curious, provocative and compassionate Leader.

*Exclusively for listeners, you can download a sample chapter of Janet's new book, Invite Change, from the Game of Teams website, right here

Podcast episode summary:  In this episode Janet illuminates the potency of Team Coaching for teams. She shares her wisdom in creating the groundwork for teams to deepen the learning with each other before they dive into action. Often teams and organisations get seduced by the task of things  & the reactive nature of daily requests but forget to focus on the day to day experience of teaming, understanding the work they have been authored to do and take responsibility for and of being together. Team agreements are an essential component of a team’s success.  By missing this vital consideration teams often fall into politics and drama and get stuck. In addition ,Janet discusses the role of a team coach, the role of a sponsor with their team and the work it takes to help teams become self-sustaining.  Every sentence Janet speaks is loaded with juicy questions and thought-provoking ideas. As a Leader or Coach, I dare you not to listen.


Points made through the episode:

  • Coaching and Team Coaching is not a “job” for Janet but an opportunity to live her bliss everyday
  • In her early career working with a large financial institution Charles Schwab Janet first experienced what it meant to team across a whole organisation
  • She impresses that we often lose sight of the brilliance of our team colleagues -we must see our team members as more than the moment we are in and ask instead how is the climate that has been created contributing to the inability for a team member to show up?
  • Creating the climate for people to shine is the Leaders job.
  • Important to figure out what is in the “collective field” of a team, perhaps keeping its team members from full authorship
  • Team members are rarely asked or get to declare how they wish to contribute and what their value is to the team’s endeavour.
  • There are several important steps in a team engagement. In fact a number of steps that in Janet’s words comprise the anatomy of a team engagement.
  • Consider the Sponsor relationship – as a coach ask what the meaningful work is that the team is here to accomplish?
  • Dialogue with the Sponsor about their role, what they have granted authority to the team. Understand what they are examining is the evidence that the team is performing. Consider too how the team is being resourced and supported.
  • Then there is the important same engagement with each member of the team to understand their understanding of their remit. How do the team members negotiate for their work with the sponsor and the system for what they need?
  • Important for coach to not over work but to allow the team to reveal itself to itself
  • Janet employs a process at InviteChange when working with teams that she calls Team Sovereignty -It ask 4 seemingly simple questions
  1. What brought you here?
  2. What is the team expected to deliver?
  3. What agreements are necessary for you to accept responsibility?
  4. How would you like to approach delivering the expectation while honouring the agreements made between us?
  • Janet explored an experience I had with a team around the first question and suggested as a coach I had missed the opportunity to coach a team member. I could have asked in the vignette shared:
  1. What makes being on this team important to you?
  2. What is it you want your team members to know about you that is satisfying to you about your contribution?
  3. What are you really frustrated about in terms of what you know you can bring to this team, why you are here that if the team knew would bring you satisfaction ?
  • Janet encourages us as Leaders and Coaches to find compassion for the behaviour we are witnessing. How we have been together and the conversations we have missed is revealed in how a person shows up.
  • Team members often enter a team in full protection mode. It is palpable when you enter a team or group of people. Anxiety is high. Important for us as team coaches not to solidify this protection and amp anxiety by the creation of “ground rules” but rather we need to work to create team agreements.
  • We can unwittingly fall into Parent-Child dynamics when what is required are courageous conversations about how we will work together to accomplish what is often complex, challenging and consequential work.
  • Janet employs metaphors a lot on teams to help distance the often emotional tension that can exist with this work.
  • Team agreements when worked through in a reasonable fashion, conscious of the body of work a team has to do can build confidence between team members for the times when things get tricky.
  • Every member of the team is account-able for the team agreements.
  • The work of a coach is to monitor the collective field of interactions on a team when you are present.
  • Leaders need to be clear. Have they been clear about the level of authority they have granted the team? Of their role? Of the boundary between?
  • Leaders can often fall foul of the Request/Promise distinction and collapse the beauty of a request with the idea of delegation. Often information is missing.
  • We have to vigilant of the assumptions we are making on teams
  • Important to ask if the sponsor has skin in the game and similarly does the team have skin in the game for this work?
  • Clarity is important -what are the organisational outcomes expected of this team, what are the conditions of satisfaction by which this team will be measured, how has the team been authored to complete its mission, how has the team been set up? What is the productivity and positivity you are evidencing on the team? Where are the team agreements?
  • Janet reminds us that too often organisational life is about revering, competence, analytics and objectives by being great stewards of resources all of which requires astute acumen but what we forget is our consciousness and humanness in our endeavour.
  • We forget to ask how we are experiencing the system of which we are a part and we fall prey to politics and drama.
  • To conclude Janet shares her own experience of team with her team at Invite Change and how she radically altered the nature of questions she asks team members to get at their commitment.




Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  2. Professional Coaching Principles and Practice edited by Susan English, Janet Sabatine & Philippe Brownell.
  3. The fearless organisation by Amy Edmondson
  4. Generative Team Coaching, InviteChange


Dec 15, 2020
A Conversation with Richard Boston

Introduction: Richard Boston is an Author, Coach & Advisor: Leadership and Team Performance. Richard has written The Boss Factor, ARC Leadership and his latest book Upgrade which he has co-authored with Karen Ellis. Richard has also contributed a chapter to the Practitioners Handbook on Team Coaching. Richard is well respected as a psychologist. He is the MD of Leaderspace and a faculty member of Henley. To my mind he also has a wonderful if not wicked sense of humour.


Podcast episode summary:  In this episode Richard shares the key messages from each of his books and spends a generous portion of the episode illuminating the components of his Systems Wheel a tool he has generated to support individuals, teams and organisations deal with systems thinking.  The focus in exploring the systems wheel concerned teams.


Points made through the episode:

  • Team are complex & Richard is interested in looking at the many patterns often common patterns you see on teams
  • Teams are evolving less than we think-as Homeo Sapiens we have not evolved that much
  • The book ARC is about Authenticity, Responsibility and Courageousness essential ingredients for Leaders and members of teams, The Boss factor is about your manager, but it is as much about managing adult to adult relationships. Similarly, Teams often fall into unhelpful Parent Child dynamic rather than adult/adult pattern . Upgrade speaks to our respective operating systems and how to upgrade using 4 key capacities, Sense-Making, Perspective shifting, Self-relating and Opposable Thinking
  • The Systems Wheel is a good that generates lots of useful questions to help teams make sense of the systems in which they operate.
  • The centre comprises 3 concentric triangles. The smallest in the middle is “SELF”, surrounded by “Team” and then Organisation
  • The corners of these triangles are marked by 3 core capacities , Direction, Commitment and Capacity- essentials for Teams
  • The first ring comprises the 3 disciplines described in ARC, Authentic, Responsible and Courageous- these need to work in concert

The next ring names habits, needs and mindset which can act as enablers or inhibitors on a team

  • Needs can encompass a whole range of things from the more prosaic like budget to the more profound, an example of a team that was stuck because it needed to grieve a bereavement on the team.
  • One useful tool to explore needs is a psychometric called FIRO-B
  • FIRO-B explores 3 needs, Significance, Control and Openness
  • Mindset includes Beliefs, Assumptions and Expectations and provide a useful terrain to explore for teams for example “What is this team assuming that limits our flexibility around the direction we are going to take?
  • The idea behind the wheel is that you can spin the wheel in any direction and link up the different components on different rings and string a sentence or question such as “what needs do we have to meet to secure the commitment of our board with respect to the direction we want to take?”
  • Important for teams to be able to put themselves in the shoes of their stakeholders including the members of the team as many team members are also members of other
  • Sometimes it is difficult for team members to admit their real needs – you have to build trust and build healthy conflict to get at the order of commitment that allows for a needs conversation.
  • Richard shared an exercise he did with a team in Romania, where the team leader wasn’t a Romanian, but the members were. Each team member shared pictures from each decade of their lives and the stories that impacted them. A profound and very meaningful exchange that helped the team see itself as a collection of humans rather than task completers.
  • The outer ring focuses on the macro forces at play on a team, Time, Pace and Exchange. All teams are in flow of time. They have a history a present and a future. All members occupy a place on a team and Richard explored place through the lens of Barry Oshry’s work -what does it say about a team member needs or mindset when he/she is a middle? Exchange is an important concept. What is the give and take between teams for example that limits the commitment each shows?
  • Richard shared a number of examples of teams he has worked with sharing some failures as well as one he is very proud of and it cited in the Chapter, he wrote for The Practitioners Handbook on Team Coaching- Southampton FC.
  • Finally ,Richard shared his own personal commitment to manage the polarity between contentment and fulfilment. His work now is to thrive more and strive less.



Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation




  2. Boston, R. ARC Leadership :From Surviving to Thriving in a Complex World
  3. Boston, R. The Boss Factor: 10 Reasons in managing up for mutual gain
  4. Boston, R. Ellis, K. Upgrade: Building your capacity for complexity
  5. Clutterbuck, D. The Practitioners Handbook of Team Coaching
  6. Reinventing Organisations by Fredric Laloux
  7. Oshry,B. Seeing Systems
  8. The Systems Wheel: Turning the magic of systems thinking into a practical tool for team coaching, a chapter written for the Practitioners Handbook on Team Coaching by David Clutterbuck and a host of contributors.


Dec 01, 2020
A Conversation with Micheal O Driscoll

Introduction: I interviewed Micheal O Driscoll, Managing Director at FDC, Financial Services LTD. FDC is the Farm Development Co-op headquartered in Cork Ireland. It employs 300 people over 30 locations in Ireland.


Podcast episode summary: This episode was recorded as Ireland was moving out of lockdown as a result of Covid-19. Micheal shared how he and his team responded by being early adopters of technology and deciding early on that it was business as usual. We discussed what distinguishes FDC as a Financial Services service provider from some of the bigger players and how culture is so important to inculcate in the business. In addition, Micheal shared his passion for Epic Cycling, Triathlons and the fact that he has completed 5 full Iron man distance races.


Points made through the episode:

  • Micheal joined FDC 25 years ago after a thorough grounding in Financial Services in London working for Grand met and Pall Mall Wealth Management.
  • He joined FDC when it already had a well -established Agricultural consultancy business, started in 1973 by Jack Murphy. His role was to build out the financial Services business.
  • He impressed on me that unlike other Financial Services businesses FDC supports the sustainability of inter-generational wealth management.
  • Relationship Management is paramount to enduring relations.
  • Give a service and Repeat-Repeat-Repeat
  • Impact of Covid-19 on portfolio of clients was significant. FDC was quick to make sure it stayed in contact with everyone.
  • Learnt how to navigate online quickly and FDC was lucky it had already moved to purchase technology to support all staff
  • Communication was a challenge -FDC needed to learn how to communicate with each other internally first. A huge learning and it served to bust some myths about remote teamwork.
  • Working from home in a structured way is possible even with the demands of home life.
  • FDC learnt that capability of staff is such that staff can be trusted to work without supervision and deliver.
  • FDC made material adjustments to its business and will continue to operate a blend of remote working and in office working post Covid-19
  • Other benefits included getting a deeper insight into his own staff that ordinarily might not have proved possible.
  • People will hide in plain sight and that is true whether you are working in or out of an office.
  • FDC realised that they can meet future challenges with the talent of staff they possess.
  • The digital journey for FDC and their clients has simply been accelerated and many myths and biases have been blown away.
  • Magic Intimacy is what FDC aims for with its clients -The fintech of the world will always be a threat which underscores importance of a trustworthy brand and the service it provides.
  • Management by control, order and exactness only goes so far and is insufficient if a company wants to grow.
  • Micheal accepts that his earlier management style was too controlling, and he needed to learn how to trust and empower others
  • Sport helped. He learnt quickly on some of his Epic cycling journeys to know when he had done enough and when he could allow someone else to take over the reigns
  • He also learnt that a race across America is simply a large project broken down into portion sized segments. That meant everything was possible
  • Self -doubt is a momentary faze.
  • The race totalled 7 days, 2 hours and 70 mins or 24/7hr shifts
  • Important to always remember to be in a learning environment -human behaviour is universal so key is to look out and observe trends and biases.
  • FDC supports learning and is building an Academy in Cork – A centre for Graduate Training
  • Micheal looks to industry for inspiration -he looks at the behavioural sciences and heuristics.
  • He recommended “Nudge” as a simple text worth reading.
  • FDC will continue to explore the digital world and AI for future trends.
  • Important to stay relevant not only for your clients but for your employees as well.


  • Resources: the following include the resources I alluded to in this episode


  2. Richard, H.Thaler Nudge Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness


Nov 15, 2020
Bruno Doutrelepont: The  Purpose and Value of the Family Office

Introduction: Bruno Doutrelepont is a Private Investor and CEO at Even Keel Partners Investment Office. He is also a director of Genius Evolve and Non-Executive Director for Winterhaven holdings.  Bruno is a regular keynote speaker at International Conferences for Family Offices and Institutional Investors in places like Monaco, Geneva, London and Dubai.

Podcast episode Summary: There exists a lot of confusion about the nature and purpose of a Family Office Business. Bruno shared his definition.  To safeguard the capital of the family business and enhance the quality of life for all members of the family. Essentially Bruno is integrating a very fine balance between the team that is the family and his team at Even Keel along with the many other suppliers who are involved to support the mission of the Family Business.

Points made throughout the Episode:


  • Important to distinguish the purpose and mission of the family office. It is not well known or established here in Ireland.
  • At Even Keel the mission is to safeguard and enhance the capital of the family while at the same time advancing the quality of life for all members.
  • Varied and complex skill set required to serve a family office. It is a finely balanced integration of multiple teams, the Family, the Financiers and many suppliers.
  • Important to have a thorough understanding of Family and group dynamics. Each family is unique.
  • Various and important issues have to be dealt with in the course of managing a Family As an example the wealth creator often finds is hard to “let-go” even when he/she is keen to share wealth with his/her family
  • Habitual story or worry that the first generation will make the money, the second generation will spend it and the third will have none left.
  • Important to remember that the Family takes precedence over almost any consideration. A Family Office has to be able to navigate family values and dynamics
  • There is a definite process and often a long one to establish a rhythm of working with a Family.
  • This often means many and several 1;1 conversations to help all members of family express their desires.
  • The international nature of the World widens the considerations involved especially when Children travel, study abroad etc. This degree of globalisation impacts the selection of services providers and the appropriate investment strategy to be deployed.
  • Extremely challenging to select people to be part of the Family Business. One quality is paramount; Emotional Intelligence
  • Emotional intelligence supports financiers to be with the varied and sometimes exasperating twists and turns in decision making. Excellent work does not always amount to a decision made
  • The Family has the prerogative to change its mind. It can feel like rejection and it is important that the team within the family office do not take things personally.
  • The business is varied, compelling, complex often with a steep learning curve. It is not for the faint hearted.
  • Covid-19 has meant some investment decisions have been stalled and significant pivoting has been required.
  • The SME sector has been particularly affected. Bruno admires the loyalty and dedication to staff seen by many business owners here in Ireland.
  • Even Keel is used to working remotely. Covid-19 has however contributed to fatigue, exhaustion and emotional overwhelm for some. Important to be able to flexible and allow people determine their own rhythms in these times.
  • Circuit breakers are often required. Humour is too.
  • The conversation pivoted into Leadership. Bruno shared his thinking and practices to ground his approach. Important to disconnect, find nature, taking time out to appreciate small things and enjoy conversations.
  • Every day relations often provide stimulus for ideas.
  • Bruno concluded conversation by sharing story of his two daughters aged 6 and 12. They are burgeoning entrepreneurs in their own right- he shared how they created Christmas Baubles to sell for two charities and raised over €10,000
  • Family is everything.


Nov 01, 2020
Peter Cosgrove: The Future of Work Episode

Introduction: Peter Cosgrove is an expert in the World of Work & Future Trends of work. He is a renowned keynote speaker on topics such as the future of work, the future of skills and talent, recruitment, diversity & inclusion, Artificial Intelligence & the negative effects of the rapid technology acceleration. Peter is also a best -selling author of two books; Fun Unplugged and family Fun Unplugged. These books were designed and written to help families get off screen time and communicate & interact better together. Peter is a board Director on the 30% Club which promotes gender diversity and he is also on the board of Aware. 


Podcast episode summary: This episode started with a reflection on our  relationship to work and moved into thinking about our habits and assumptions  about work that often go unexamined for individuals, teams and organisations.  It also spoke to the future of work and how more entrenched companies might have to  learn to pivot to survive. Peter believes that Covid-19 provided an opportunity to really look at our priorities and to re-shape our thinking about remote working, flexibility, talent and how to motivate talent as well as some behavioural concerns such as listening, empathy, and our use of time. This episode was searingly honest and provocative. The importance of critical thinking, dialogue and empathy between all citizens and intergenerationally was emphasised.


Points made through the episode:

  • Peter grew up in a family of 11 children, four brothers and four sisters
  • When people ask Peter what skills or career their child should pursue, he answers with the refrain “just do something” There is a misnomer that people will know or will have a Eureka moment when in fact often work is about finding and figuring things out.
  • Peter moved through a few career choices before he himself adopted a freelancer lifestyle.
  • We are still not quite comfortable as a nation to understand when people want to do something a bit differently from the 9-5 routine or when they do not subscribe to conventional titles for roles
  • Huge positive impact of Covid-19; Speed of Digital acceptance /Innovation and adaptation
  • Some people did however learn how to retire early.
  • Work is often so much of our identity and we can look to our Culture/Attitudes/Ideas about Achievement and Peer Competition for why it is often a race to the top.
  • Peter believes many of us do not question the why of work or our why for work.
  • We have not mastered the world of remote working -be smarter about using zoom, shorter time frames/using the phone/making connections and building connections and not just task.
  • Trust is a big challenge and continues to be a big challenge for more traditional concerns.
  • We have to question some of our assumptions about how work is working in the first place.
  • Be wary of employing software and technology that essentially means you are spying on your employees.
  • The Leaders Peter’s see in team situations are often not able to let go, see the culture they are creating and to allow for change.
  • The team dynamic on many of the teams he observes consists of teams who rarely engage in healthy debate, defer to seniority, do not listen and participate in group think and run with  many errant assumptions.
  • Young entrepreneurs and younger generations entering the field of work have many answers regarding culture/technology/ways of working but they do need to be listened to.
  • Peter shared some simple practices to encourage innovation at work.
  • Some big trends that Peter sees happening include ;
  • Change in how real-estate is consumed, Cities are not going to die but they will be consumed differently
  • Air Conditioning at work – many bigger concerns may be allowing people to remain remote working because Air Conditioning is proving a big issue in bigger edifices
  • Access to Global Talent will mean a further appreciation for remote working but also an increase in competitiveness between talent.
  • Decrease in bureaucracy; amazing how the HSE and Lawyers responded with Doc-sign for example
  • Employers need to pay attention to burn out and encourage employees to manage boundaries appropriately. Be smart about shorter zoom meetings, zoom mania and the use of time generally.
  • Encourage single task focus. Too much multi-tasking masquerading as productivity
  • Explore opportunities to give remote workers the same experience as workers working in the office. Be creative.
  • Basecamp and Automatic are examples of companies getting it right.
  • Important to acknowledge how innovative people can be when they have to be.
  • Companies need to look out 5 years from now and begin the work now of helping employees gain skills and experience to keep them relevant in the dawn of AI
  • Refocus by tapping into what gives employees energy and see productivity soar. Consider more mentors and budget for ideas and projects.
  • Peter’s books were born out of a big bug bear with technology. Technology is fabulous but it can also be addictive. Peter wanted to write a book that would encourage Parents and Children to start communicating together.
  • These books are used to support Children learn about the importance of reading, understanding philosophy, what it means to have rapport with another and general life skills. Our over dependence on technology is seeing many of the current generation of children lose important life skills.


  • Resources: the following include the resources I alluded to in this episode
  1. Herminia Ibarra: Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing your Career
  2. Peter Cosgrove
  5. Fun Unplugged and Family Fun Unplugged by Peter Cosgrove




Oct 15, 2020
A Conversation with John McCusker on Friday 24th of Jan 2020

Introduction: John McCusker is the VP Global Head of Talent management for Bacardi. He sees himself as the fitness coach for 7300 colleagues or as Bacardi says cousins, to help people grow professionally and personally. John has spent most of his career in talent management working for Kraft Foods and Dixons in the UK. John has travelled extensively and has picked up a fluency in Spanish, Portuguese and French. He believes himself to be a reforming Imposter and this part of his being has informed much of John’s purpose.


Podcast episode summary:  In this episode John explored the Bacardi approach to Leadership, Culture and Team & Individual development. We discussed formal and informal approaches to development at Bacardi. John spoke to the many who have influenced him and some of the more dynamic practices he has employed to get at Creativity and Innovation and organisational wide buy-in. We discussed topics like Mindfulness, Presence, Conversational excellence,  creating moments that matter, Psychological Safety, Authentic Leadership, Emotional Intelligence & relational support. Bacardi is intent on creating a culture based on three curated pillars; Fearless, Founders and Family. Bacardi wants to be a catalyst for magical moments in peoples lives. 


Points made through the episode:

  • Travel has been a big part of John’s life-learning French, Portuguese and Spanish along the way.
  • His parents exercised a huge influence on the choice of career that has become his passion
  • John confessed to suffering from Imposter Syndrome. A huge part of his way was in pleasing people and not being conscious about what he wanted.
  • This being has influenced how he is towards others and the purpose he has set himself to help more people plan and unlock their own potential both professionally and personally.
  • At Bacardi John is the self- professed “fitness coach” Bacardi knows that if it wants to have the next best 10 years it needs to engage its people and culture to be the very best.
  • John has done his own personal work to acknowledge the imposter within him and to understand & appreciate his own emotions in a way that helps him manage conflict constructively
  • John is endeavouring to build a culture at Bacardi where people feel appreciated for who they are, and not what they “should” be in order to unlock potential and performance
  • Bacardi encourages Coaching, Team Coaching and Development to help people work collaboratively and across boundaries rather than towards a title.
  • Bacardi has employed concepts like Hackathons to unleash energy and commitment to company-wide ideas – doing so has improved company engagement scores by 10%
  • Bacardi wants culture to be owned by everyone and not just a few
  • As a Talent Manager John has learnt to appreciate being less attached or attracted to Avant- Garde ideas & more focused on execution & simplicity
  • He is also keen to slow down and to allow the organisation to really implement well
  • When John thinks team he thinks the following; Laughter, Cohesion, Irreverence, tightness to support each other professionally and personally
  • We spoke about Patrick Lencioni and the work he has created around the 5 dysfunctions of teams. John uses the corollary of the dysfunctions to engage hearts and minds.
  • John is not keen on labelling or classifying people. He uses models and frameworks lightly and is more interested in the conversation for possibility
  • Amy Edmondson introduced the Bacardi Leaders, 50 who were on a bespoke leadership program to Authentic Leadership. She spoke about creating a fearless organisation. He liked how she spoke about framing work for people ,so they understand what is expected and how to create a culture where mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn
  • We are so busy being busy that even though we are extremely connected we are disconnected. How can we build the pause to be present to each other?
  • Bacardi is working hard to be relevant in a society where people are interested in drinking less but drinking quality drinks. The company is doing a lot to self-regulate. It is promoting slow drinking in France, Drink Driving campaigns in Russia and Portugal.
  • The Cocktail business is growing by virtue of people wanting less but better.
  • Bacardi is also moving into the business of no and low alcohol
  • What matters now to John is the idea of promoting mental wellbeing at Bacardi. He was taken by a presentation given by a former Unilever executive, Jeff McDonald who spoke passionately about encouraging discourse on mental wellbeing at work.


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  1. Amy Edmondson: The Fearless Organisation
  2. The GOT Podcast episode 25 with Sarah Hill
  3. Patrick Lencioni: The 5 dysfunctions of a Team


Oct 01, 2020
A Conversation with Dr. Marcia Reynolds

Discount link to Marcia's coaching course:

Introduction: Dr. Marcia Reynolds is a Master Certified Coach; she helps coaches and leaders make every conversation a difference-making experience. She has provided coaching and training in 41 countries and is on faculty for coaching schools in China, Russia, and The Philippines. Marcia was the 5th International Coaching Federation (ICF) President and only recently she was inducted into ICF’s Circle of Distinction for her contributions to the global coaching community.

Marcia is also the author of several bestselling books including Outsmart Your Brain, Wonder Woman and the Discomfort Zone. Her latest book Coach the person not the problem, a guide to reflective enquiry, is the subject for this podcast.

Podcast episode summary:  This episode focuses on the art of coaching and in particular the critical importance of reflective enquiry as part of the Coaching process. Dr. Marcia Reynolds shared her reasoning for writing another book on coaching.  Marcia felt it was important to impart her 25 years of coaching experience to share what is often missing in the coaching conversation and  to remind coaches and leaders how to help people think & think differently for change. Marcia is passionate about the value of Coaching and notwithstanding her enormous contribution to the field already she has decided to launch a 6 month program called Breakthrough Coaching in partnership with WBECS .It will commence in October 2020.


Points made through the episode:

  • Marcia was a self-confessed obsessive. She was obsessed about understanding what it took to get at real behavioural change.
  • Her quest saw her work to source those answers and combined to inform her choice to pursue a Doctorate.
  • She explains the difference between telling and asking and what it does to our brain
  • Curiously Feedback, although well intended has the affect similar to that of a person holding a gun to your head. The stress is that great.
  • Most people do in fact know what they want, they simply do not do the reflection required to understand their thinking.
  • We live in stories; we are meaning making machines. It is important to be able to see our stories and the frames that hold our identity, including beliefs and assumptions that are often flawed.
  • As coaches we have grown to misunderstand the coaching competencies. Coaching Competency 2, getting at the coaching agreement is confused with solving problems.
  • We are missing the art of reflection and we focus too much on the beautiful or powerful question.
  • By way of her own research Marcia discovered the work of John Dewey in 1910. It explained the power of reflection
  • “When you deprive a client from feeling you stunt their growth”
  • Curiosity, Care and Courage form the important trilogy to get at whole person coaching
  • Marcia wrote her new book; Coach the Person not the problem to dispel some myths about good coaching and to help coaches erase some bad habits, she has seen in the profession
  • Being a coach is more about the being than the doing. Coaches need to appreciate the value of being wholly present to a client to notice the energic dynamic between two people or more.
  • She implores coaches to get out of their own heads-“overthinking is the enemy of the coach” “just be with your client”
  • In addition to her book she is about to Launch a new program in Partnership with WBECS called Breakthrough Coaching. A program designed for experienced coaches to genuinely upgrade their coaching to have a real impact with clients.
  • Marcia shared an example of using Breakthrough coaching with one of her clients who was concerned about having a difficult conversation. She helped her client see what was really going on and what was presenting as the topic was really about personal responsibility.
  • Covid-19 has amplified how we are experiencing emotions. We need to be able to self -regulate. She shares a lovely vignette with her own coach that demonstrates the power of reflection.
  • Marcia shared some practical tips for Leaders of tips as we parted the conversation. She reminded leaders that “People want your presence more than they want your perfection” She shared that her book is also for Leaders; it is a real manual for helping leaders help others think about their thinking.
  • As a parting thought Marcia reminded us that change is not just a conceptual construct. It is real phenomenon. It means we have to be comfortable with “not knowing” we don’t know anything for certain right now and that is OK.


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  3. Reynolds.M;Coach the Person, Not the Problem: A Guide to Using Reflective Inquiry,
  4. Outsmart Your Brain; The Discomfort Zone; and Wander Woman all by Dr. Reynolds.M.
Sep 15, 2020
A Conversation with Stuart Lancaster on the 15th of May 2020

Introduction: Stuart Lancaster oozes passion for his sport-Rugby. For those who do not know Stuart he is a Rugby Union coach and he is currently coaching the Leinster Rugby Team in Dublin Ireland. He was former head coach of the England Rugby Team between the 2011-2015.

Podcast episode summary:  In this episode Stuart illuminates the work of Team Coaching and how so much of what we know in Corporate teams is played out on the rugby pitch. . Stuart is passionate about the sport of Rugby, bringing out the best in others and pushing himself to always be improving.  His humility, courage and passion comes across so ably in his conversation.  We spoke about handling pressure, he shared the loss the England team suffered in the World Cup in 2015 that cost him his job, resilience and what got him back and of course team leadership and his current love of the work at Leinster where he is excited to return. Of course,  we are in Lockdown so that is not to come for a while. Covid-19 featured as a discussion point through this conversation and  Stuart shared how he and the team are managing  through this period.


Points made through the episode:

  • Stuart was brought up on a farm in Cumbria. His father and ethics around hard work played a significant role in Stuarts approach to work and life.
  • His schooling at St. Bees in Cumbria taught him a lot about resilience
  • He took every opportunity and often stuck his head above the parapet to go for opportunities that perhaps we wasn’t ready for
  • He attributes getting his Level in 5 in coaching and his time at Ashridge College as being critical to support his leadership and coaching
  • His time as a PE teacher was also informative helping him understand how to conduct planning/do/review sessions
  • Always driven
  • Only have one shot-at life-“be the best I can be”
  • Fear is lessened by competence and confidence
  • Shared what happened at the World Cup and the job he lost as Head Coach in 2015
  • His first reaction was to go home- to the farm. Stuart reflected by walking the mountains, running, reading and thinking and by travelling across to New Zealand and to South Africa where he spoke to several coaches who had experienced similar losses
  • He found his new purpose. He met Jim Collins the author of Good to Great and was inspired to “pick himself up off the canvas”
  • He joined Leinster and they have enjoyed 3 trophy wins and 19/19 games
  • Self-Awareness is very important to Stuart. He uses psychometrics with himself and the team, feedback and deliberate thinking sessions for reflection
  • His huge drive means he is constantly looking at ways he can improve and improve the lot of others too
  • Important that team learn and give feedback but do not drag mistakes around for a week or more.
  • He shared his classic 100 days approach with a new team which is then followed by a call to arms speech where he paints a picture of what the future can look like for the team-this engenders self-belief.
  • Culture- is about alignment, with a Values based approach. Leinster work with 3 values Brothers-Humility and Ruthlessness
  • Stuart shared his definition of what culture means which he summarised in a metaphor. Culture is an invisible thread between coach/team members and between each other that thickens as the relations build.
  • Identify is important. Leinster enjoy and incredible identity where 96% of the players come from some part of Leinster and they play for Dublin
  • Leadership is about being even keeled although sometimes it is important to how you feel about something. He employs a breath of style to support what is needed.
  • Inclusiveness is paramount for team dynamic.
  • Failure is part of the dance.
  • Covid-19 has put the team in a holding pattern and he and the team are keen to re-group and pick up the game.
  • Important to stay in the present.
  • Stuart has communicated with the team by using his voice. He has made small videos where he overlays his voice on the recording. Important for players to have his voice in their heads
  • Players are appreciating regular but small communication bursts.
  • “What is means for your Son to be playing for England” was an exercise in culture building that supported the team build connection
  • The secret sauce to coaching a team like Leinster is for Stuart “pretty simple really” Make sure the team is connected/train intensively together/have cohesion/a combination of variety and repetition in training methodologies is important for habit building and engagement


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. Stuart shared his own LinkedIN profile which offers an amount of articles and posts sharing insights on Leadership -
  2. Jim Collins: Good to Great
Sep 01, 2020
A Conversation with Dr Alister Scott

Introduction: Dr Alister Scott is the co-founder along with Neil Scotton of a company called The One Leadership Project. The one Leadership Project is a strategy and Leadership firm that supports those making big change happen. Alister and Neil have also co-authored a book called “The Little Book of Making Big Change Happen” This is a book aimed at teams and leaders to inspire catalytic leadership. Alister is also Chair of Cuckmere Community Solar, is a certified coach and holds a Doctorate in Science and Technology policy.

Podcast episode summary: This episode seeks to explore the subject of change and in particular organisational change as teams and organisations face into the  worlds new PAID reality (Pressurised, Attention-deficit, Information Overload ,Distracted) Alister shares how he and Neil help teams make big change happen. Alister shares many gems and useful concepts for Leaders and teams to practice.


Points made through the episode:

  • The Human race has to adapt we are growing exponentially and pretty soon we will be housing more than 9/10 billion people on the planet.
  • How does the human race build its capacity to be in partnership with nature?
  • Alister’s mission is to be useful in the realm of big change
  • Teams are the unit of currency supporting organisations make big change happen.
  • Organisations are being compressed by huge forces of change like technology change, social media, resource depletion, policy change, immigration, globalisation and they find themselves stuck in the middle between these forces for change and their clients and stakeholders wanting them to respond appropriately.
  • Big change is upon us, change or be changed. In order to do that Leaders ‘need to be on the front foot, to think, be more purposeful and engaging to inspire and retain the best talent
  • Important that teams create and live a shared purpose that is inspiring and beyond self.
  • A purpose needs to be clear and the team needs to stay connected to its meaning and let it pull out of the team the required answers to questions, dilemmas conflict that inevitably occur
  • Alister describes the model that he and Neil use working with teams in organisations wanting to make big change happen.
  • The model comprises six dimensions for making big change and these include
  1. Purpose-a clear shared, inspiring purpose
  2. Team- a cohesive, committed team with a range of capabilities
  3. Engagement- how well are you engaging your key stakeholders
  4. Culture-you need a culture that matches the scale of your inspiring purpose
  5. Results- you need to be clear about the results you want
  6. Inner Journey – you will go on an inner journey that matches your outer journey
  • Alister shared how in his work big change requires a big commitment of a team of approximately a year or longer.
  • His program involves a diagnostic, 3/4 big team events plus ongoing individual coaching
  • Teams are drowning in task; they are not taking the time to think together, and they are not aware of the degree to which they are not focused on team or on the individual.
  • Alister described John Adair’s work sharing that teams need to pay attention to task, team and the individual in an evenly distributed fashion
  • Alister introduced a valuable concept called ERA, Encouragement, Recognition and Appreciation. Leaders would do well if they build a solid foundation of ERA
  • Alister shared some pertinent advice for listeners, especially leaders of teams wanting to change
  • Embrace big change, best around big change is through
  • Face up to the radical reality we are in
  • Build leadership courage
  • Notice your fear-based behaviours
  • Aim as a leader to inspire and delight


Quotable quotes “Thinking something about someone and not sharing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it”


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  1. Scott, Alister. Scotton, Neil. (2017) The little book of making big change happen. Available on Amazon & Kindle
  2. Kline, Nancy. More time to Think (2009)
  3. The One Leadership Project,
  4. Action Centred Leadership by John Adair


Aug 15, 2020
A Conversation with Dr. Brigid Nossal on the 22nd of November 2019

Introduction: Dr Brigid Nossal is the Director of Nioda Consulting and Deputy CEO. She is also a co-founder of the Institute. Brigid has worked as a consultant to organisations for over 25 years. She specialises in leadership development, business improvement and work culture diagnosis & transformation through Executive Coaching, Role analysis and action learning oriented consulting interventions. Applied systems psychodynamics is central to her work.


Podcast episode summary:  In this episode Brigid explains what is meant by Applied Systems Psychodynamics and her approach with clients and especially teams. She shared an important framework that is readily available online by The Grubb institute called the Transforming Experience Framework . Essentially what presents as an issue on teams is really a symptom masking  important other considerations such as context, the system and an individual’s experience of their role.  Brigid talked about structural defences, anxiety, role clarity and what might be unconscious to a team.


Points made through the episode:

  • 3 Pillars comprise Systems Psychodynamics- Group Behaviour, The Unconscious and Systems thinking
  • Often teams rely on Brigid and Nioda when other more obvious or tried practices have been employed. They do their best work when it is felt that there is something more going on that needs a fuller exploration
  • Clients need to be curious and willing to explore or led into a deeper enquiry. Often art is employed as is particular forms of questioning
  • She might ask “draw a picture of your experience of your role” or draw a picture of your experience of this team etc..
  • The Transforming Experience Framework looks at roles by considering 3 dimensions, a person’s individual context, the wider context and the system in which a member plays with the intersection representing how they occupy their role
  • Brigid shared an example of a team where they were troubled by stress in conflict but under examination realised that their system was inhibiting performance
  • Similaraly structural defences can unwillingly contribute to a decline in performance when designed for a positive impact
  • Material to consider below the surface can often mean confusion about roles, clarity about purpose or direction that have yet to be made explicit.
  • Often very basic questions on role clarity are missed at induction. People are asked to assume their roles with little orientation or expectation management
  • Brigid finds it uncanny how often team members do not know how the other conceives of their role, what they actually do, and what capability they bring to the team and organisation. More enquiry is needed
  • Humans operate with a level of anxiety. Our fear of fear is often greater in our imagination than in reality. We cook up a lot of imaginary fear as humans.
  • There is always a child in us that never grows up and it is important to appreciate that our  stories can have us, especially in high stakes.

Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  3. A case study on the functioning of Social Systems as a defence against anxiety by Isabel Menzies and available online at
Aug 01, 2020
An Interview with Karin Hurt and David Dye

Introduction: I interviewed Karin Hurt a Leadership consultant and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders,  author &  Inc Magazines list of great leadership speakers and David Dye, President of Let’s Grow Leaders, author and speaker. Together they have written 5 books the latest of which is called Courageous Cultures: How to build teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers and Customer Advocates.


Podcast episode summary: This episode was recorded against a backdrop of racial tension and the very real & ongoing threat of Covid-19 across the Globe.  This episode felt extraordinarily timely as the  need for Courage and a Courageous Culture seems even more important  today when society and organisations need to think creatively and innovatively in terms of how to emerge for a new world. Karin and David shared the auspices of their work and book and shared many great insights & practical suggestions for igniting a culture of courage. 


Points made through the episode:

  • The mood in Maryland is mixed with many feeling, angry, tired and sad
  • Hope is also present as people consider what is important and what needs to change
  • David and Karin shared their story and how a mutual interest in Leadership and thought leadership brought them together over work to collaborate on a book which led to them marrying and producing 3 children together.
  • We moved then to the work that produced the book Courageous Cultures, to be released on the 28th of July but available now to pre-order.
  • The difference between the work conducted by Amy Edmondson in her book The Fearless Organisation and the work that produced Courageous Culture was explored. They really are two sides of the same coin.
  • David shared the research conducted by the University of Colorado56% of people will not speak up because they are not credited for their ideas
  • 49% shared that they are not asked for their ideas
  • “this is the way we always do it” is an answer that prevents 75% of people sharing ideas
  • 50% of team members will not share ideas because they are not confident, they will be seen through
  • This is the prevalent mindset in many organisations. What is needed is Clarity combined with Curiosity-Clarity that people know the strategic direction in which the team or organisastion is moving and that you really want peoples’ ideas and Curiosity in the way you ask-humble and specific
  • An example of a courageous questions might look something like: “what is one thing that is really ticking off our customers?”
  • We are often wired to focus on inputs rather than outputs. What is the most important thing here?
  • Start with a focus on outputs. What best practices are employees currently using for example that we can scale?
  • Remember right now there are all kinds of micro-innovations going on as people try to do the best they can in an environment where remote working might be new, minding and teaching children must be done simultaneously and or caring for elderly and sick is happening in the same household.
  • David suggested that people are realising that the crisis may last for some time and change is inevitable. Start asking your teams some questions for innovation like; What is one thing that is working?
  • What is one thing that never needs to come back once we re-emerge?
  • What are we capturing ?and can we convene to capture ideas like this every 4-6 weeks?
  • Karin shared the concept of Workaround workshops- convening a meeting to explore ways people are having to work-around stuff when the ideas of doing so are absent or fuzzy- the premise is you declare amnesty and openly discuss work arounds to glean creative ideas that could be scaled or improved
  • Why Courageous Cultures? How do you become effective in the middle of a crisis where people are working remotely with all kinds of concomitant pressures? How do you create psychological safety and humility so that people can connect and share?
  • What Leadership is working in this crisis? One that shows vulnerability, understands that no-one really knows but together there has to be some answers on which we can draw. Leaders need to; Get real with their own narrative, being open and comfortable being vulnerable and authentic
  • Leaders need to show up with curiosity
  • Canned messages and over scripted answers will not curry a human response
  • David shared some guidelines that support the building of a courageous culture
  • Navigate the narrative
  • Dance between Clarity and Curiosity
  • Respond with regard
  • Practice the principle
  • Galvanise the genius
  • Starting from a mindset of Gratitude is often tough in a world of urgency and distractedness, how do Leaders learn to pause and notice the human in front of them?
  • Equally for ideas to spawn it is important that they are well curated. Sometimes idea generators can be clumsy in the communication of their ideas. David and Karin teach the building & the positioning of ideas in their Leadership Program. I-Ideas must be interesting and align with the strategic intent of the organisation
  • D- ideas need to be doable.
  • E-Ideas need to be engaging-consider how others might respond?
  • A- action what are a couple of starters for possible action?
  • What most surprised David & Karin in the research of their book was the fact that 56% of people withhold their ideas because they will not get credit for them-
  • In closing Karin and David shared that it is important that organisations be judicious about squashing Courageous Crushers, people who bully etc..
  • Leadership does not need to be lonely. Find a few people who share your ideas and build a community of practice.
  • Build a Culture oasis- people will notice




Resources: the following include the resources I alluded to in this episode.

  3. Courageous Cultures: How to build teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem solvers and customer advocates by Karin Hurt and David Dye available now to pre-order and on Amazon on the 28th of July
  4. Fearless Organisations by Amy Edmondson
  5. Winning Well: A managers guide to getting results without losing your soul by Karin Hurt and David Dye.  


Jul 15, 2020
A Conversation with Marita Fridjhon on the 4th of October  2019

Introduction: Marita Fridjhon is the  CEO of CRR Global Incorporated. She has 25 years’ experience as a therapist, mediator, OD consultant and executive coach working across the globe. Maria is best known for her work as a Relationship Systems Intelligence advocate. She is passionate about modern systems thinking and working with the relations and information available at the systems level. She excels in facilitating client systems discover the solutions that already exist.

Podcast episode summary: This episode illuminates what it means for teams to think and see systemically . Marita artfully shared the learnings from her work  and her book, Creating Intelligent Teams in a way that I imagine anyone listening to the show will want to immediately adopt or at a minimum examine. Marita shared some excellent examples, resources and tips on the subject of Relationship Systems Intelligence.


Points made through the episode:

  • Marita shared her journey into the world of systems thinking and her work with CRR Global in helping teams and Organisations create systemic change
  • She described systemic thinking as a moderns systems approach to change, where the focus shifts from concentrating on the individual or bunch of individuals to focusing on the relationship between things.
  • CRR is clear that there is always rich information from the system that is different from the information from individuals. Both need to be heard
  • Get into the habit of hearing from the Voice of the System (VOS)
  • The question becomes “what is trying to happen in this team?
  • Research shows that biggest challenge for Organisations still organised in clicks and sticks or levels and spans is that execution is happening across teams and between teams -need to rethink our structures
  • Sport is a great example of how to think systemically -no one player is able to win the game alone- it is always a team endeavour a collective
  • This “knowing” often breeds a sigh of relief with Leaders and team members as it is never one individual fault or need to have all of the answers
  • One ground condition for change is to get used to hearing all the voices of the system
  • Important to remember that not all systems are intelligent some are toxic
  • Shared example of Redwood forests in the US where forest needs a fire to be able to rejuvenate and grow.
  • Systems Intelligence is about staying the distance long enough for the system to reveal itself
  • That does not mean we do not take action and we never know all of the time whether a decision we make is right or not but wise to reflect and ask “ what was trying to emerge with that wrong decision”
  • Some teams and organisation have deliberate “failure days” not to catch someone out or to blame but rather to learn
  • Striving for perfection or being right is often an antagonistic approach to take to change
  • Key message from her book “Creating Intelligent Teams”
  1. Make sure the system is able to ventilate -ask team members to share their complaint for 2 mins each Speak to the centre as opposed to anyone individual
  2. If you do not get at the VOS individuals will stay in premature state of attack or flight
  3. Put a chair in the room to become the Voice of the Team
  • Some key principles of systems thinking
  1. Relationship is in constant state of emergence
  2. Pay attention to the change that is happening and create from there
  3. Each system has its own unique identity
  4. Practice deep democracy -get all stakeholders voice in the room
  • 3 Phases of Engagement with CRR-
  1. Meeting: the client where they are -do a simple check in
  2. Revealing: This is where challenges, problems or things that are not working are voiced and with CRR that means a lot of experiential work
  3. Align and Act this is where a meeting, team or organisation can now see all and then decide how to figure things out
  • Marita offered 3 pieces of advice for Listeners
  1. Shift your focus from one to many
  2. Recognise that systems are in a constant state of emergence nothing is fixed
  3. Trust the system it knows



Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  2. Rod, Anne. & Fridjhon Marita. Creating Intelligent Teams
  3. Peter Hawkins & Peter Senge excellent authors who explore moderns systems thinking
  4. Sinek, Simon. The Infinite Game -How to lead in the 21st Century
Jul 01, 2020
A Conversation with Tony Melville on the 27th  of September 2019

Introduction: Tony Melville is co-owner of Dialogix with Sarah Hill his business partner.  Dialogix facilitates powerful conversations across boundaries working with top teams globally. Tony Melville is a former Chief Constable of the UK Police Service  where he spent 34 years of his career. In 2010 he was chosen to lead the National Transformational Change Program for the entire UK police service. Tony is skilled  in behavioural change and organisational interventions, hostage negotiation and crisis management.

Podcast episode summary: Tony appreciates the skill inherent in productive conversation and how being unskilful as a Leader working in organisations can lead to harm. This conversation ,by way of understanding Structural dynamics and dialogue , deconstructed & demystified the often-nebulous nature of our conversations to provide a lens for seeing what is or is not taking place. Tony described the first level of structural dynamics and explained dialogue to show that in combination we can have very different conversations on teams. 


Points made through the episode: 

  • As a hostage negotiator Tony valued the importance of face to face communication and more importantly skilful communication 
  • He also realised the harm unskilful communication can have on organisations and the people who inhabit them 
  • Important to grasp insight on self, your behavioural repertoire, adopting a mindset that allows for the collective wisdom to shine and the nature of complex systems 
  • Structural Dynamics helps a person understand their preferences in communication, what they might avoid and why and where that story started. 
  • Structural Dynamics reveals, by way of the four levels David Kantor describes in his theory of communication , the structure of what is happening in a conversation. 
  • It is a complex theory, but it is also easy to comprehend. Level one comprises four action stances, Making Moves, Follow, Oppose and Bystand. All four are necessary in a productive conversation and the use of one or two can lead to inaction and worse dysfunction on a team 
  • Being able to read the room, decipher what is happening, notice what is missing, see where participants are getting stuck is a fantastic skill for a leader /team member to possess
  • Dialogue is a shared enquiry, a way of thinking and reflecting together where people suspend judgements, voice their ideas and respectfully listen. It is infinitely more generative than debate, winning or being preoccupied with solo runs or monologues. 
  • Dialogix approach is to conduct behavioural profiles with individuals on teams, interviews and interventions that typically run over a period of time to allow for real behavioural change
  • Useful resources to consider as a leader/team member include David Kantor’s book “Reading the room” Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together by William Isaacs and The Tso of Dialogue by Sarah Hill and others just published. 
  • Leaders need to unlearn the habitual use of skills and practices that got them to their new role and instead focus on what the organisation needs of them now. Leaders need to develop and grow to fulfil needs of new roles. 
  • Tony gave examples of what he had to unlearn, skills that proved very effective as a detective & hostage negotiator were not the same skills required as Chief Constable 
  • Important to recognise there is always a hierarchy in systems and organisational life no matter how seemingly flat. 
  • In Policing it is often much more evidenced by way of for example the symbol of the police uniform. People can and were extremely deferential. To get at more oppose in the organisation , necessary for the order of change required Tony and his top team needed to change and create a safe place for people to feel OK to challenge. 
  • Fear is real in a hierarchical situation and important that fear is addressed, and safety is cultivated 
  • Get practiced at noticing conversations, start noticing your own team meetings, who is making moves, who is following, who is doing the oppose and is there anyone offering a bystand? Notice the quality of the conversation when any of these actions are missing. Adust accordingly and notice the results. 
  • At its simplest if anyone or everyone could grasp the concept that in any conversation having these four action stances improves the productivity of the conversation in terms of decisions, discussion and alignment. 
  • Find the time to pause and slow down to get perspective 

Quotable quotes “Finding the way to bring the stakes down for you & others is likely to lead to better interaction, decision making & productive conversations”  


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  1. Kantor, David. Reading the Room: Group Dynamics for Coaches and Leaders 
  2. Isaacs, William. Dialogue and the art of thinking together 
  3. Hill, Sarah ,Lawrence, Paul. The Tao of Dialogue 
Jun 15, 2020
Creating the one team and considering the one planet with Janet Harvey, Neil Scotton and Alister Scott

Introduction: Covid-19 struck like a thunderbolt and has thrown the world upside down. Many are still reeling as we grapple to right side for a new order. All of us have been forced to wake to a new reality, to pause and immediately assume a virtual reality for most of the population. Teams have been beset too. Episode Six is an invitation to look at how we re-emerge as a collective, what we chose to  embrace and reflect on what we can generatively create with grace and gratitude.

Podcast episode summary: To answer these and several more questions I interviewed Janet Harvey, Neil Scotton and Alister Scott primarily because of their bold interest in sustainability, climate change and the business of big change. This episode was littered with big existential questions such as what is growth ?and how might we want to think about what it means to have a livelihood. In addition, the panel questioned how we have lived and suffered in the past and what could we do as a species to creatively destruct for the better of all.


Points made through the episode:

  • What is necessary? How do we let go some of the unconscious habits and get out of our comfort zone? We have lots of cognitive food about Growth mindset and yet we don’t do it.
  • There exists an opportunity to come back to self, to know we are not alone, and that 7+billion people are experiencing the same conditions. We have everything available to us to re-imagine our relationship to life
  • Our professional and personal lives have never been so merged.
  • We have an opportunity to see our humaneness – and we cannot take anything for granted
  • Undeniable our interconnectedness. Globalisation has demonstrated some real negatives
  • Seems like mother nature has sent us to our rooms to think about the damage we have done to the planet.
  • There is a positive to this “lock-down” we are now appreciating the slow, the simple the beauty in our connections and connectedness
  • Important that we are mindful of the consequences of ignoring reality
  • More permission now to notice what is not working and to say it.
  • We will emerge so much stronger and resilient as teams. Teams are like an antibody. Huge capacity to bring forth disparate views to imagine and vision a new reality. Teams have unique advantage of not needing to know it all but as a collective to allow something to emerge -the collective is the engine.
  • There is a falling away of old structures, constructs, egos and silos- crystal clear we are in a crisis and we need to contribute. The sense of shared purpose will embolden teams and organisations will find it hard to return to old ways.
  • Not all leaders will be suitable for the new forms of teams that will emerge.
  • There is a strong desire currently for purpose to sit above profit.
  • Some assumptions will need to be busted. Growth for example is questionable the way we currently view growth at all costs.
  • We don’t yet understand how to operate a Global Citizenry.
  • In order to access a “One team” notion allow people to bring whole selves to work
  • Make teams your focus.
  • Our vision has formerly been too myopic- we will get back to planning and prioritising
  • Heretically nothing has changed. There certainly exists more courage to name what is not working but essentially team life remains the same. We are so swept up in the drama that we need to allow people to pause and feel the grief, the Global Grief.
  • Important not to assume that what I am feeling you are too.
  • The Zen and Art of Motorcycling says “we grab a handful of sand from the vast plains of awareness around us and we call it reality”
  • Growth can happen in many ways not least in terms of learning and developing as human species.
  • The panel is hoping that we allow :
    • Creative destruction and cited Joseph Schumpeter
    • We see the wisdom of giving space for reflection and thinking
    • To build a culture of ERA (Encouragement, Recognition and Appreciation) to buld confidence against a very uncertain future
    • The three G’s Generativity, Grace and Gratitude
    • To know and respect that everyone matters.
    • To know we are already enough.

Resources: the following include the resources I alluded to in this episode.

  • Janet Harvey:
  • Neil Scotton and Alister Scott:
  • Neil Scotton and Alister Scott: The little book of making big change happen.
  • Joseph Schumpeter: The theory of economic development
  • Otto Sharmer:
Jun 05, 2020
The Covid-19 Special Series 5: New Game with John Baldoni, John McCusker and Richard Boston

Introduction: Covid-19 struck like a thunderbolt and has thrown the world upside down. Many are still reeling as we grapple to right side for a new order. All of us have been forced to wake to a new reality, to pause and immediately assume a virtual reality for most of the population. Teams have been beset too. Episode Five is an invitation to look at how we make meaning and how we re-emerge as a collective. I was curious about  what we chose to  embrace and reflect on as we experience Covid-19  & what we can generatively create with grace and gratitude.

Podcast episode summary: To answer these and several more questions I interviewed John Baldoni, John McCusker and Richard Boston. The conversation spoke to the very real uncertainty and grief that exists in society and the huge variability that is evident in terms of how people are responding. The panel spoke about societies polarities, the swift change in orientation to value people and connection and the many assumptions around organisational life that are being questioned. The pause had put a lot into perspective and the panel left the conversation being hopeful that as a resilient species we will figure our way out and hopefully make some meaningful changes to the way we relate to life.


Points made through the episode:

  • Enormous focus and engagement is evidenced in organisational life
  • Witness to huge variability and different phases people are at with respect to Covid-19
  • Wide array of emotions from panic initially to overwhelm to expediency and focus to now hope and encouragement
  • “Nobody knows anything” a great deal of grief being witnessed in the world-the question is what next?
  • The difference between business and life has been collapsed. We are allowed to show up as real humans. This is an incredible time to reflect, do some self-discovery and be inquiring of self and others
  • Important that the tone from the top echoes need for compassion and understanding to know that people are in complicated and difficult situations dealing with family life and role expectations of an order that is unprecedented.
  • Important that businesses look after the physical and mental needs of their people and the business will follow. This message has been communicated before, but it is now real.
  • Huge amount of pressure on employees right now and the imposter syndrome if it existed is now exaggerated. Leaders need to lead with Grace, Generosity, Respect, Action, Compassion and Energy
  • Leaders cannot project fear , but they can show concern
  • Two strong values are emerging in corporate life include Gratitude and Goodness
  • Assumptions about team life and organisational life are being questioned. Can we continue to be more questioning with our assumptions ?
  • We need to invent new normal and we do not know how long this pandemic will last creating considerable ambiguity.
  • Our mortality is being questioned.
  • We are in the process of rehumanising our workplaces putting purpose and empathy centre stage.
  • Purpose or our higher level purpose is now front and centre. This crisis has shown teams can operate in a very purposeful and creative manner. In some ways decision making is timelier and team work more expedient. Shines a light on purpose, our humanity and need for empathy.
  • We cannot make excuses for not knowing we have never known. Probably only 6/7 possible choices from here. We need to sit down and start planning and same goes for teams.
  • Practice anti-fragility
  • This pandemic may be a dress rehearsal for future crisis as climate change continues. Are we ready to be with this new reality?
  • In any uncertainty be with what you can control to square the circle. Important to act and change if we get things wrong. Perfection is the enemy
  • Sad that it has taken Covid-19 for us to appreciate our humanity, our connectedness and our frailty
  • The panel hopes that leaders and teams will find a way to collapse societal polarities
  • When times are good Profit hides a lot of flaws Covid-19 has shown us the cracks.
  • Virtual is Okay. There is an acceptance that video and connection virtually is powerful and can remain
  • Virtual does not distract from our connection
  • Zoom etc is same as physical and in some ways better, we can focus more and be discerning in how we ask questions and how we relate. A greater sensitivity is called for over virtual.
  • Consider Purpose more often and ask about the purpose of organisational life.
  • We have been reminded of the beauty of nature can we nurture it?
  • The panel left the conversation with a few things they know and can rely on:
  1. We are stronger and more resilient than we think
  2. Trust your teammates for their support
  3. We will get through this-look internally for resource
  4. Be mindful of our narrative. Some of the language around Covid-19 is defensive. Can we be in choice about the story of recovery and our identity post Covid-19

Resources: the following include the resources I alluded to in this episode.

May 29, 2020
Covid-19 Special Series Ep 4: Leadership in response to Covid-19

Introduction: Covid-19 struck like a thunderbolt and has thrown the world upside down. Many are still reeling as we grapple to right side for a new order. All of us have been forced to wake to a new reality, to pause and immediately assume a virtual reality for most of the population. Teams have been beset too. Episode four is an invitation to look at how can be in this crisis and what is necessary in a time of great uncertainty.

Podcast episode summary: I spoke with Dr. Ruth Wageman, Dr. Simon Western and Conor Brennan to hear their perspectives on the ask of Leadership in the face of Covid-19. I have interviewed each of my guests separately on the Game of Teams Podcast  and you are welcome to check out their backgrounds and views on teams in those episodes. This conversation proved to be a very rich and varied conversation covering emotions, behaviours, perspectives, the opportunities to rethink and reimagine the future as well as the very real and positive opportunity for sustained interest in Climate Change, The distribution of wealth and ways of working that may prove fortuitous for many. There is also a clear and present danger that we as a society build walls and boundaries when what is required is greater social cohesion & collaboration.


Points made through the episode:

  • The mood is mixed. There exists a determination to be of service along with a real concern regarding the viability of enterprises and employment. Really hard to see the future with the current level of uncertainty. Mood also takes different phases with many at the start in denial and extreme activism-many are for example in Zoom mania. The variability of moods and emotions is considerable daily. Not enough to check-in on people once, sometimes it requires repeated calls.
  • We may be moving into a period of a quest for understanding and acceptance and yet for some are drowning in emotional overwhelm.
  • Important for Leaders to provide containment. To allow people to express their many emotions so that they get the space to then think.
  • It also critical that leaders think about systems thinking to be placed paced to serve in an eco-system. Covid-19 is a pure example of an eco-system in operation
  • Tendency for leaders in uncertainty to contract and to try and control. The opposite is actually required. We are in a huge experiment of distributed leadership and it is helpful if leaders can think in term of allowing for roles to be handled by others, to share Leadership or the function of coaching where necessary and to lead at the edge.
  • Leadership Presence is a quality that is necessary for Leaders to possess in order to help people be with the enormous fluctuations in moods and reactions to the crisis. Their needs are now at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy Pyramid. People and employees need security, some level of assuredness if leaders are able to give it and the presence of their Leaders
  • Leaders have an opportunity, a greater opportunity than perhaps existed before to be present and to resist taking the reins that could be assumed by others.
  • Presence can also show up in other ways like more informal ways of communicating. WhatsApp etc.
  • The crisis is helping people re-evaluate and appreciate the quality and use of time. There is a real opportunity to reconsider the use of time as we consider re-entering the workplace.
  • The crisis has thrown people into isolation and a real sense of dislocation. It is imperative that Leaders think about social cohesion
  • Critical that leaders work out how to motivate and engage as well as bring people together virtually.
  • Making meaning and connecting to a higher purpose is still a relevant conversation and maybe even more so today. The pause is allowing people to re-evaluate and re-imagine what is meaningful and values laden.
  • It means that leaders need to create the space for people to have these important conversations
  • For some it might sound indecent to consider having these conversations when there is so much suffering and it could look non-empathetic. There is a real tension between the energy for creation and the energy of people who are withdrawn and uncertain
  • Coaching is a necessary service for Leaders in this crisis. Often it is assumed Leaders have all of the answers and are sorted when often the opposite is true. Examples were shared of Leaders being torn and lost. Coaching provides a refuge and real place of containment
  • The Leader-follower dynamic is important to trust and remember. They are two side of the same coin.
  • Ruth and Simon shared their wisdom on the kinds of support they are providing for teams through Covid-19 examples include
  • Helping teams to rapidly form, even where team members have never met
  • Guidance to team leaders on how to cultivate team resilience and getting the mutual support required by both team members and Leader.
  • Practical tips about how to hold conversations for Purpose and tips about the necessary rhythm and cadence of various meetings
  • Helping Leaders distinguish between the desire for activism and re-activism. Helping leaders to be able to contain the vast array of team emotions and reactions and needs in this crisis.
  • Remembering that Leadership and followership is an interchangeable dynamic and both require an ability to sense, listen and respond productively.
  • Purpose and the question of purpose is a big ask and in order to do that people have to have time to think first. Space is required
  • There was a debate about the idea or timing of thinking about opportunity.
  • Major disruptions provide huge opportunity to re-think and change routines. Consider the drop in our reliance on fossil fuels, our commutes, working remotely and virtually.
  • The question becomes; What are we learning that will enable us to take a great leap forward?
  • The social inequity that is being amplified is a great challenge that a purpose conversation could solve.
  • Leaders are wonderfully placed to influence these debates and discussions
  • The conversation concluded by each panel member sharing their “knowing” and what emerged included the idea that we can all contribute to sustainability-it is not such an abstract idea. Zoom works-we don’t have to be egotistical and take planes to NYC for meetings we can have them virtually. This is a great reset.
  • We are however on a tightrope between building walls and fortresses nationally or grasping opportunity to build a good society. Out of the London plague a sewage system and infrastructure emerged.
  • All of our biggest challenges will only be solved by working collaboratively. We can mobilise to forge social cohesion and some of the planets other wicked problems.


Resources: the following include the resources I alluded to in this episode.


May 22, 2020
Covid-19 Special Series Ep 3: Mindset & our collective need to adapt in response to Covid-19

Introduction: Covid-19 struck like a thunderbolt and has thrown the world upside down. Many are still reeling as we grapple to right side for a new order. All of us have been forced to wake to a new reality, to pause and immediately assume a virtual reality for most of the population. Teams have been beset too. Episode three is an invitation to look at how teams can use this big pause to disrupt our patterns of thinking & working, the use of time and space,  real-estate and technology to innovate and to build structures to support social cohesion through eco-systems.

Podcast episode summary: I spoke with Sari Van Poelje, Jennifer Britton and Fin Goulding. We spoke about what it means to be virtual, how to adjust for a new “abnormal” and the mindset shifts required to remerge on a yet uncertain  other side. All of the speakers spoke about possibility and the opportunity this pause affords us. Many questions were posed and answered in a rich conversation that spoke to some meta concepts and some practical takeaways for teams. The question became how we can let go the old, grieve appropriately and embrace the new. This has ramifications for Leadership, how we live and work and how we connect across boundaries and how we think of work. This pause like many other conversations is reminding people of our humanity and of what is important.


Points made through the episode:

  • In answer to the question “how are you feeling” the guests almost equivocally responded positively sharing that in their worlds they have been operating virtually and using agile for years. The physical threat of Covid-19 is for sure scary
  • All have welcomed the time out to pause, reflect and to consider their purpose.
  • The crisis has brought many people together in a knowing like none other
  • Remote does not mean disconnected. Technology allows for us to be connected.
  • Virtual is imperative. Hopefully people can continue to get comfortable in their home lives to rework how they work- we are living a paradigm shift.
  • Covid-19 has asked us to acknowledge our interdependence. Need to remember to bring in the human dimension to our conversations on zoom etc. Sari shared her ideas on bringing Yoga and DJs to punctuate her trainings. Other ways of socially engaging were shared
  • Curiously meeting online has some positive benefits. People are more pointed, judicious with their time and careful to listen. There is a skill to facilitating and convening online.
  • Use the technology creatively and strike a balance between the visual, auditory and full meeting space to breakout rooms.
  • Leaders are not coping well in this transition. An old model of leading is being imposed on a new platform. The Leader as coach is required. We as coaches have to support leaders to lean into this way of working
  • Similarly, we need to support leaders to deal in the emotional realm & to understand the usefulness of emotional expression over technology.
  • People are ready for agile. Much confusion abounds about Agile it is often seen as belonging to the world of tech. Sari explained that it is not a mindset but a way of structuring business.
  • We are experiencing various shifts simultaneously, from the physical boundaries to the virtual unbounded, from the global to local, from hierarchical to the eco-system.
  • Leadership is needed with Agile. Leadership needs to embrace interdependence and accept the accountability for stuff is often deeper in the organisation.
  • Businesses need to invest to reconsider the Leadership imperative, to strategize ,maybe not for the long term but for the immediate term and to learn how to pivot.
  • Leaders need to comfortable being disruptors.
  • Collaboration is a word that is easy to say much less easy to practice. We as coaches have a role to play to help leaders and teams collaborate, thinking differently and accepting trade -offs.
  • The work/home dynamic needs to be re-evaluated and supported. Time and the use of space will be re-imagined.
  • Perhaps things have to be conceived of much more simply and equitably. We have to be able to cope on an individua/family/community level as we share our humanity and our new landscape
  • Conversations around Brexit for example have stopped. How will Europe look when we re-emerge?
  • The panel shared some practical tips to close the podcast.
    • Leverage the tools available to allow relations as well as focus
    • Practice and get practiced having efficient meetings this is a learnt skill
    • Take time to pause, reset and consider what is working and what can be let go
    • Honesty, integrity and a degree of psychological safety will be needed to speak up and voice what is not working
    • Learn new skills online
    • A team is a musical instrument, it needs to be played and tuned. The need for retrospectives is even more pronounced
    • People need to establish new routines -and be allowed to do so
    • Every crisis brings opportunity -use this one to go for new possibility
    • Consider this new reality and ask yourself the question -what can I offer
    • Focus on what is important and how you can contribute to mankind
    • Have the varying and various conversations the path will reveal itself.
    • Be willing to reinvent yourself.


       Quotable Quote: “There is the past and there is the future we have only two choices, Vanilla or Chocolate- the future, as chocolate holds possibility” Sari Van Poelje

A team is like a musical instrument; it has to be played and tuned” Fin Goulding

“rapid experimentation and learning needed right now”Jennifer Britton


Resources: the following include the resources I alluded to in this episode.

  • Jennifer Britton: Effective Virtual Conversations
  • Jennifer Britton: Remote Pathways Podcast
  • Jennifer Britton:
  • Fin Goulding: Flow, 12 steps to Flow
  • Fin Goulding:
  • Sari Van Poelje: Back to basics Executive Coaching Series-
  • Soon to be published: Agile Innovation Business & Design

Sari Van Poelje:

May 15, 2020
Covid-19 Special Series Ep 2: Rehumanising Teams-Amplifying Connection and Communication with Sue McDonnell, Paul Lawrence and Dan Newby

Introduction: Covid-19 struck like a thunderbolt and has thrown the world upside down. Many are still reeling as we grapple to right side for a new order. All of us have been forced to wake to a new reality, to pause and immediately assume a virtual reality for most of the population. Teams have been beset too. Episode Two is an invitation to look at how we allow for emotional expression and how we use emotions intentionally in our conversations. The worldwide experiment in distributed work has put into question many of our old rituals and practices as work. How can we use the pause to reassess?

Podcast episode summary: To answer these and several more questions I interviewed Sue McDonnell, Paul Lawrence and Dan Newby for their perspectives. This conversation proved to be a very rich and varied conversation covering emotions, behaviours, perspectives, the opportunities to rethink and reimagine the future as well as the very real and positive opportunity for sustained interest in Climate Change, values based Leadership and the practice of reflection. The general consensus over the course of this conversation was the need to practice emotional agility, to allow space to think and connect and to give agency to every person's version of empowerment.


Points made through the episode:

  • The mood is variable on teams. Some are thriving others are languishing in anxiety and uncertainty
  • The structure afforded in the physical domains of work is absent and contributing to anxiety and overwhelm
  • We live in various stories about this crisis. It has been described as apocalyptic and like a roller coaster, a tsunami of emotions. The question we can ask is how we want our stories to influence our actions? If you change the narrative, you can intentionally shift your emotion.
  • What will support you right now?
  • As a leader you can check-in with yourself and observe your somatic reactions. We are great at prepping for task related conversations and less good at the emotional conversation. As a leader ask how do you want to impact your team? How do we wish to leave the team feeling? And during the meeting check-in to see what is happening?
  • Huge tendency right now to max zoom meetings. Need to recognise that over stimulus is exhausting. Important to vary and shift orientation of meetings between Zoom, chat, email phone and use them purposefully for emotional conversation as well as task conversation.
  • Teams need space-create the space for teams to think together and work out or figure out how best to progress.
  • Irreverence as an emotion allows us to laugh. There is a difference between employing irreverence productively and mocking or denigrating others.
  • In the physical world of work, we moved around. In our homes we need to manage our boundaries and our energy. Energy can be accessed by having conversations for laughs. In Australia there is a practice called “Hanging shit on each other” a humorous and light way to connect with team members.
  • Remember as leaders that looking after your mental state is not an act in selfishness. Our moods are contagious so be careful with yours.
  • Ask what is giving you energy and what is draining you of energy?
  • For Leaders the pressure of believing you have to have the answers is being thrown into question In a distributed workplace. Those who hold on to that Leadership standard will find themselves exhausted and will frustrate the work of teams in this space.
  • Silos for example have collapsed. Our environment has changed such that silos cannot exist. Its usefulness is in allowing for Trust, Transparency and Empowerment to grow.
  • Some assumptions about Leadership have been disabused in this environment. The idea that any one leader can know in this environment is absurd. Instead allow for vulnerability and openness.
  • Encourage different perspectives and allow people to author their own version of what empowerment means.
  • Leaders need to be less directive and more enquiring. Curiosity as an emotion is undervalued or used in team dialogue. Two roles Leaders and team members can adopt. One of detective and scientist. The first allows for self -discovery and the second allows freedom to experiment and get things wrong.
  • Strong correlation between Psychological safety and innovation and performance. See real room for kindness, forgiveness, vulnerability and acceptance to pervade teams.
  • We often only get as far as naming emotions, but we miss a next step. The next step is to ask if the emotion is in fact of service. Humility for example is probably needed right now and it then allows a person to ask for help.
  • People are using the space and time to think to be creative. One leader has introduced videos, mindfulness, somatic practices and dancing as invited parts of his team meetings.
  • The space has been a great leveller and an opportunity to reflect.
  • The panel ended the conversation by hoping that this time for reflection and self -reflection will stay, that the introduction of distributed work practices may stay and  new rituals will be harnessed and that the permission to employ more heart thinking into conversations will also progress.


Resources: the following include the resources I alluded to in this episode.

  • Sue McDonnell:
  • Dan Newby: and The field guide to emotions: A practical orientation to 150 emotions by Curtis Watkins and Dan Newby
  • Paul Lawrence: The Tao of Dialogue: Lawrence, P. Hill, S. Priestland, A. Forrestal, C. Rommerts, F. Hyslop,L. & Manning,M. (2019), The Tao of Dialogue, Routeledge. UK
May 08, 2020
Covid-19 Special Series Ep 1: Trauma & our collective need to Pause in response to Covid-19

Introduction: Covid-19 struck like a thunderbolt and has thrown the world upside down. Many are still reeling as we grapple to right side for a new order. All of us have been forced to wake to a new reality, to pause and immediately assume a virtual reality for most of the population. Teams have been beset too. Episode one is an invitation to look at how teams can use this big pause to be with what the environment and threat is forcing upon us and to rethink our ways of working.

Podcast episode summary: I spoke with Krister Lowe, Melissa Hughes and Alexander Caillet to hear their thoughts and ideas to support teams through Covid-19. Essentially the panel echoed the sentiments expressed by so many in different systems .We are all experiencing extraordinary levels of uncertainty and anxiety, oscillating between polarities simultaneously. Teams are no different. The panel suggested that teams  need to take stock, to reform & re-norm to  delight in the fact that our current levels of kindness & humaneness is not impacting productivity. There was an  acknowledgement that it took something like Covid-19 to stop 8bln people on a runaway train of 80+ hours of work, an erosion of the planet and consumption and travel at unstainable levels.  The gift of Covid-19 is the opportunity to transform.


Points made through the episode:

  • It is normal to feel so discombobulated. There is huge variability in our state of minds, oscillating between despair and hope, action and rest, reflection and analysis. Mindfulness practices and centring practices can bring these polarities closer.
  • Melissa suggested the book title “Permission to feel” and instead of beating ourselves up or feeling guilty about lack or gaps in productivity to instead get creative about stuff that is good for us right now.
  • Remember from our evolutionary psychology that emotions are good for us. They serve, so it is important that we don’t resist what they are sharing as information hits & be with what is needed.
  • There is a huge creative force being unleashed -The world is poised and pregnant with possibility. Krister, reminded us of a quote from Laozi- “Our highest virtue does nothing, yet nothing needs to be done, the lowest virtue does everything and much remains to be done”
  • By doing nothing right now or very little by staying at home we are actually helping beat Covid-19 and similarly at work or virtually with our teams we can use this pause to think about what needs changing rather than trying to get into endless activity.
  • Alexander pointed out that Teams need to first get familiar with the technology of working virtually, then consider the security and viability of various options as well as the ergonomics for remote working. Then teams need to consider ways of working given virtual , the nature of teaming and for a new identity
  • There are silver linings to be had from this this extraordinary change, including our appreciation of humanity, the dynamic between task and relationships with a rebalancing of both- it is also challenging some previously unquestioned assumptions like working from home and what that can do for the planet, commercial real estate and a rebalancing of our personal needs
  • One norm that is being appreciated by the panel that they wish not to be lost is the idea of slow is fast. How do we relish more with less? Forever forgetting the runaway train of relentless productivity and consumerism to which we were all attached.
  • Danger that we will consume zoom like we used to consume meetings. Advice to be judicious with the forms of meetings we chose, to consider phone, email, IM along with zoom. To allow for a default for 15 minute meetings with an option to extend, or to consider ending zoom meetings at 25 mins or 50 to allow the brain to rest.
  • Consider Agile practices like Kan-ban and options like Mural for team meetings.
  • The panel shared some tips for teams including limiting number of things you attempt to get accomplished in a day, having four hours -worth of meetings in a day for example. Consider boundaries. Consider all the many informal ways people used to connect and approximate them in the virtual space.
  • Replicate the physical space in a virtual reality with some obvious adjustments. Balance task and relationship orientation and consider getting support with conversation facilitation.
  • Important to keep in mind the huge suffering happening in the world. Many of us with work are lucky.
  • We are experiencing a VUCA world on steroids.
  • The brain is less able to cope with uncertainty than it is with predicable threats. Aim to bring some structure and control into your daily rhythms
  • We are in-between two ports. We continue to need to get stuff done and we have the opportunity to reflect and change. Encourage your teams to get innovative.
  • The panel concluded by sharing some wisdom and hope for teams. We will emerge and we will figure this out. We are a creative species so allow for creativity. Teams are the unit of analysis so find a team. Get skilled in conversational facilitation, an imperative to navigate virtual teaming.


       Quotable Quote: “the highest virtue does nothing, Yet nothing needs to be done. The Lowest virtue does everything. Yet much remains to be done” Laozi


Resources: the following include the resources I alluded to in this episode.

  1. “Why you should ignore all that Coronavirus inspired productivity pressure” Aisha Ahmad, Associate Professor Toronto University -The Chronicle of Higher Education March 27th 2020
  2. Permission to feel: The power of Emotional Intelligence to achieve well -being and success.


May 01, 2020
An Introduction to a Special Series on the Game of Teams Podcast - A Panel Format to Support Teams Through Covid-19

Introduction: Covid-19 struck like a thunderbolt and has thrown the world upside down. Many are still reeling as we grapple to right side for a new order. All of us have been forced to wake to a new reality, to pause and immediately assume a virtual reality for most of the population. Teams have been beset too. I noticed my immediate reaction was to want to support. I got into a frenetic productivity race with myself to convert my programs to be available online, to support teams think and be virtually minded, to reach out to my many clients to offer help. I was simultaneously feeling the underbelly of anxiety of worry. Would my small business survive? I only stopped when I read a very compelling article in the Chronicle of Higher Education written by Aisha Ahmed, an assistant professor at Toronto University. On reading I exhaled. I realised I too has succumbed to a  maladaptive response of delusion and denial to the enormous change I was battling. I stopped my frenetic productivity goals and stepped back. Instead I chose to do something I knew I could and decided to put out a series of podcasts dedicated to teams going through this unimaginable period of change.

Podcast episode summary: This introduction episode is my introduction to a special series of podcasts for a limited period to support teams through Covid-19. I intend to interview 18 guests I have already interviewed on the Game of Teams Podcast but this time they will gather in a panel format. I will host 6 conversations to be published over six weeks starting on the 1st of May. I will interview 3 guests to comprise my panel. I intend to follow the schema introduced to me by Aisha in her article.  The six episodes will be chunked down into 3 segments. 


  1. EP1 will speak to  our current situation and the challenges teams are facing through Covid-19. I intend to interview Dr Krister Lowe, Dr Melissa Hughes and Alexander Caillet as my guests for this episode. 
  2. EP2 will speak to the emotional overwhelm & communication issues we as humans have and continue to experience by virtue of Covid-19 and what this means for teams. In this episode I will interview Dan Newby, Dr Paul Lawrence and Sue McDonnell
  3. EP3: This episode will discuss the mental models or mindsets teams need to adopt to thrive. I will interview Fin Gould, Dr Sari Van Poelje and Jennifer Britton. 
  4. EP4: As we shift to accept our new normal what are some of the Leadership challenges this crisis poses and how can adapt or practice for difference? I will interview Dr Ruth Wageman, Dr Simon Western and Connor Brennan 
  5. EP5 will consider how we begin to embrace our new condition. What does this mean for teams and Leaders? How will business respond? In this episode I will talk to John Baldoni, Richard Boston and John McCusker
  6. EP6: Bringing it all together. What is the one team response? How do we embrace our new normal? What is the opportunity exactly and how can teams move forward? 


Points made through the episode: 

  • It is normal to feel so discombobulated. This is a seismic shift. 
  • We are moving on the change curve of a magnitude many of us have never experienced. 
  • Aisha Ashmad helped me stop and catch myself succumbing to the seduction of productivity as an antidote to denial and delusion.
  • We are going to go through 3 stages which requires of us to 1. Find Security, 2. Find new mental models and 3. Embrace the opportunity for creativity & innovation that this change provides 
  • The six panel interviews are my offer to the world vis a vie teams and Covid-19 


Resources: the following include the resources I alluded to in this episode. 

  1. “Why you should ignore all that Coronavirus inspired productivity pressure” Aisha Ahmad, Associate Professor Toronto University -The Chronicle of Higher Education March 27th 2020 
Apr 15, 2020
A Conversation with Nadja Taranczewski on the 13th of March 2020

Introduction: Nadjeschda (Nadja) Taranczewski has a Master of Psychology accreditation, is a Master Certified Coach and works as a coach, author and keynote speaker. Nadja is the author of the book Conscious You: Become the hero of your own story and she is currently working on her second book the Conscious Tribe Playbook.

Podcast episode summary: This episode talks about Nadja’s focus in the world to support leaders reinvent their organisations to become conscious tribes. 4 meta competencies infuse her work: Self Reflection, Self -Compassion, Ownership and Deep Dialogue. The conversation on the Game of Teams Podcast spoke predominantly to two of those competencies Self Reflection and Deep Dialogue. Nadja also described her blended learning program, a six-month program that cuts across boundaries and allows for individual and organisation learning simultaneously.


Points made through the episode:

  • Nadja is fiercely independent and her strong value for freedom has informed how she navigates life and with whom she chooses to connect for meaningful relations. She transports this degree of clarity into her work helping clients become self-aware and conscious of the choices they are making
  • Asking questions, reflecting back and listening are the tools to develop deep connection
  • Nadja wants to ignite the “flame” buried deep in every individual to become the Heroes of our own narratives.
  • She believes the principles of deep dialogue and listening to each other can fuel the flames of potential we have in each of us
  • Any place where 2 or more people come together is complex. Relationships are messy and armed with our vulnerabilities we can fight proxy wars that mask what is truly going on for us inside. We need rituals and practices to stop hiding.
  • Nadja helps teams by employing four “Meta-Competencies” Self-Reflection, Self-Compassion, Ownership and Deep Dialogue
  • Nadja helps teams talk about what matters from a place of compassion, deep listening and co-creation principles
  • In a world that can suffer ADD where we are impatient for results Nadja shares that it is important for us to reframe the work. Self-Reflection work takes time. Changing the structure of a team’s operating model or culture takes time. It is not a quick fix.
  • Nadja and her company CU offer six -month programs of blended learning to afford individual development and organisational culture change simultaneously
  • Deep Dialogue is supported by a principle of buddying, often across functions. Doing so affords immediate psychological safety and an opportunity to learn widely
  • The same buddying system can be employed on teams where deep dialogue can support real understanding and removes the need to fix or provide solutions but instead allow team member really to see and hear each other. It is a transformative practice
  • Nadja describes deep dialogue as a space where time slows down, where it is not about a destination but a conversation for understanding. She offers scripts to people to help with the practice but largely the advice is not to discuss, not to interrupt but to chew over a question for example and allow 3 mins each side to simply be received by another
  • Source Energy: Nadja explains the origin and writer of this concept Peter Kreunig which explodes the myth that purpose is co-created.
  • Principle of energy means there is someone who had the original spark for an idea or project and took the first risk. He/she is infused with the import or purpose and values of that same idea. Nadja describes her process in getting at collective buy in and shared understanding for the source energy.
  • Leadership according to Nadja has a lot more to do with the willingness and capacity of a leader to do deep inner work more than what used to be regarded as leadership with a focus on technical work.
  • Nadja describes her first book Conscious U: Become the here of your own story -How to have a self -authored life, which often entails rewriting an old narrative.
  • Her new book that is soon to be released is called the Conscious Tribe Playbook. That book will share ideas about how to reinvent organisations to become a thriving community where people invest their inner work, understand the big picture, invest in deep relations and cultivate conscious rituals.
  • Conscious U offers a blended learning coaching program which makes cultural transformation scalable by promoting employee engagement and conscious development across all levels of the organisation
  • Covid 19 despite the obvious emotional field of fear, uncertainty and in some cases panic, offers the chance for all of us to adapt to a more digital knowing and appreciation that can allow for greater productivity over time and still allows for connection.



Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  2. CU*I a blended learning program for organisations
  3. Conscious You: Become the Hero of your own Story by Nadjeschda Taranczewski
  4. Chapter 4, The Transformation Map:

  1. Two free resources:
Apr 01, 2020
A Conversation with James O Callaghan on the 27th of September 2019

Introduction: James O Callaghan is the Performance Director for the Irish Sailing Association a role he has held for over 14 years. In that time ,he has seen Irish sailing secure World Champion Medals, European Titles and of course an Olympic Silver Medal. 

Podcast episode summary: This episode reveals the indomitable spirit, resilience and mental toughness required  by Irish Sailors to perform at World Class Sailing regattas and to qualify to participate at the Olympics. James O Callaghan shares his experience of being the performance director for the Irish Sailing Association, the role he has played in building the structure for ISA and in facilitating a performance environment in which the athletes can thrive. Lessons on learning, teaming, managing the mind, energy management, perspective making, priorities, decision making and the importance of self- awareness litter this very engaging conversation. 


Points made through the episode: 

  • James’ project at Trinity College Dublin –“how to manage peoples Olympic campaigns was instrumental in positioning him as a burgeoning entrepreneur. He set up Sail Coach straight out of college-where he coached two Olympic sailors from South Africa and the Seychelles -this project was hugely successful from a performance point of view and enabled James to learn loads-Joined ISA (Irish Sailing Association) as their Head Coach and quickly assumed role of full time Performance Director. 
  • Tokyo 2020 will be James’s sixth Olympics 
  • At the start Role was about defining Vision for ISA and building the structure to support the development of World Class Athletes. His role now is about guiding their strategy and challenging assumptions made in the  past. James also instrumental in guiding the associations foundation to raise ongoing funds for the sport. 
  • Team has won 27 international medals, two of which comprise Olympic medals for Annalise Murphy, 4th at 2012 Olympics and 2nd at Rio in 2016
  • In sport you cannot look back or rest on your laurels “you are only as good as your last race” 
  • Metrics vital to objectively assess how athletes are doing against the benchmarks generated 
  • The dream goal is a medal, but Athletes do not go to work every day talking about medal making instead they follow a precise pathway to build performance 
  • Sailing cycle is relentless 
  • Organisation comprises ever increasing circles, the core team an athlete and coach, surrounded by head coach, the performance director and then the many stakeholders like Sport Ireland and the Olympic Federation 
  • James is buffer between the sport and the agencies; he has to strike a keen balance between allowing athletes train and helping them promote their own disciplines on a PR train. 
  • James described the Performance Pathways the athletes enter at a very young age, helping talented sailors understand what it means to be a performance athlete
  • Talent is of course a key requirement but not a distinguisher -attitude is essential 
  • The Performance Pathway teaches resilience, responsibility and self -responsibility 
  • Important for James and his colleagues who are supporting the athletes to be match fit. Olympics and the preparation required is an intense experience 
  • Energy management is vital. You can do a good job but don’t leave all of your energy at work 
  • The inner voice & self-awareness is that 5% that has to be trained. 
  • Olympics for sure is a pressure cooker environment but important to remember it is not predictable, that is not reality. 
  • Those who respond best to variability are the ones who will end up being an Olympian Champion 
  • An athletes success will depend on their level of self -awareness, self -regulation, how they decide to react to situations and control the controllable. 
  • James described the big decision Annalise made recently to quit the 49erFX category , a new campaign for ISA and to attempt to return to the discipline for which she won a medal. His message; if you have to make a decision make it and don’t expend energy pondering. 
  • Some significant life lessons shaped & continue to influence James O Callaghan. The death of his father, a drowning accident while he was sailing, has helped James deal with adversity and has shifted his perspective on setback and failures 
  • The courage shown by his Mum has inspired James and has shaped a lot of his views on life-family is extraordinarily important to James -talking about the “real” stuff
  • With Tokyo looming James is busy working with athletes but also with the Foundation and the Olympic Steering Group. 
  • James described the auspices of the OSG and the setting up of the Foundation. 
  • Earlier this year with funding ISA was able to build its first ever Performance HQ in Dunlaoighre and that has been a game changer for the Association. Athletes are now housed together and not flung across the globe, Coaches live close to the HQ, Coaches can now share ideas across the teams and a performance culture is now evident 
  • The 3 containers that comprise the HQ are a very efficient use of money and the time. They are of course mobile and will be shipped to Tokyo for that “Home from Home” purpose important to the team. 

Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  1. Irish Sailing Association 
  2. Sport Ireland 
  3. Olympic Federation of Ireland 
Mar 15, 2020
A Conversation with Dr. Sari Van Poelje on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: Sari is a renowned expert in the field of Agile, Business Innovation and Change. She is Managing Director of her own company Intact Academy that teaches 6 accredited programs for Leaders, Consultants and Coaches. A lot of her work is informed by her background in Transactional Analysis. Sari has worked for over 31 years, over 5 continents with in excess of 2000 Alumni from her programs. She has also worked in various director roles for companies like EMI Music, Shell, KLM and ASML. Sari is a prolific writer with 14 publications to her name. She has just completed her first book called “Agile Business Innovation & Design” which will be released later this year. 


Podcast episode summary: Sari shared her wisdom on teams, her approach to team coaching and her definition of agile and how she supports companies adopt an agile model for business innovation. Sari populated this episode with numerous anecdotes and nuggets of wisdom for both leaders and practitioners of team coaching. Her insight into teams and what makes them great makes this a must listen. 


Noteworthy points of discussion

  • Agile is not about leadership characteristics or psychological factors it is more about  how the business is structured, how leadership is created to have the energy of a start-up and to be coach like and how the business co-operates with its customers and how innovation is married to a commercial orientation. 
  • Sari consults business to adopt an Agile Business Innovation design in 28 weeks. Business must want to change to think and be Agile. 
  • Intact Academy offers a very comprehensive Team Coaching Program. Based a lot around TA (Transactional Analysis) using concepts like Voice Dialogue, Constellations, Group Dynamics all used to support the team change
  • Sari reminds listeners it is important to distinguish between Groups and Teams many people confuse the terms and forget what it means to work on a team
  • Members have to accept Interdependence and Collaboration. Also, it is important that people understand the roles of Leadership and Followership 
  • Sari described the approach she uses to support coaches learn about team coaching. She is adamant about the order in which team coaches approach teams. 
  • Level One is all about the Structure of a team -boundaries/hierarchy/Roles
  • Level Two is about relations on a team -how to improve the dynamics and improve social ranking between members 
  • Level Three is about the team Imago or perception of the team and its culture 
  • Sari shares an example of how Social Ranking when it is not equidistant can derail a team 
  • Story is an important feature of teams and important to attend to the narratives teams hold and whether the current narrative will yield the change required for the team
  • Some trip wires novice team coaches fall prey include assuming the role of the leader, mixing up the order described above, being there “merely to help” as opposed to speaking the truth and helping the Leader and team get really clear about what is expected to innovate and change
  • Sari believes love is a wonderful energy for teams and helps a team change its story once care, attention and respect are in place 
  • Sari uses the Hero’s Journey with teams. Joseph Campbells book is about the story of stories -all stories can be seen as 12 steps -Vogel’s work with the Hero’s Journey is perhaps more accessible 
  • Finally Sari after over 34 years as a practicing consultant, coach and leader is returning to what she calls the essentials, helping create meetings between people/sense making of relations-this is what is needed in todays’ world – she is also going to do a lot more with stories and story -telling using dance and singing 
  • Sari shares the resources she uses to inform her practice with teams ‘ but she also shares an invaluable resource, the everyday happenings. She suggests that we become better at everyday observation. Teams reveal themselves in the same way. Observation followed by conceptualisation to understand that behaviour means for change. 


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation 

  2. Agile Business Innovation and Design to be published later this year 
  3. Mary Beth O Neil: Executive Coaching with Back Bone and Heart 
  4. Joseph Campbell: he Hero with a Thousand Faces 
  5. Vogel, Christopher (2007) The Writers Journey 
  6. Morton A, Lieberman, Irvin Yalom and Matthew Miles: Encounter Groups First Facts 
Mar 01, 2020
A Conversation with John Baldoni on the 12th of October 2019

Introduction: John Baldoni is an internationally recognised leadership consultant, coach, keynote speaker and author of 14 books on leadership. In 2018 named John a Top 100 Speaker and in 2019 Global Gurus ranked John # 9 on its list of the top 30 Gurus in the world. John is a highly acclaimed executive coach and is in much demand as a leadership educator. I had the pleasure of interviewing John about his new book Grace, A Leaders Guide to a better us. 

Podcast episode summary: John Baldoni has a lot to say about Leadership and his latest book is really a call for more Grace in Leadership. He explores this topic with me on this podcast and really makes the case for humanising the workforce by applying the virtues inherent in GRACE. Grace as a Leadership Mindset is a catalyst for positive change to enable the greater good. It is an antidote to the disconnected way a lot of us live and work today. Baldoni helps us distinguish the attributes of grace in Generosity, Respect, Action, Compassion and Energy. Put simply this podcast reminds us what wonders we can accomplish when we work together for the greater good. 


Points made through the episode: 

  • Leadership has not changed radically over the Millenia, two noteworthy changes however include Velocity of change and global scope of Leadership with Leaders on call 24/7 which erodes boundaries, downtime and family time and two the introduction of women in Leadership 
  • 40,000 plus definitions of Leadership but for John, Leaders do what is needed to be done for the greater good of the whole. 
  • Some problematic assumptions are when Leaders conflate management and leadership -an effective Leader needs to be both
  • Baldoni has written extensively about Purpose, our why for doing things which leads to the creation or co-creation of a vision and mission. Values then create our sense of belonging. 
  • GRACE is the facilitative lubricant that brings it all together 
  • We live in contentious times Grace cuts through all of that and builds connection, Grace is critical to our time, a time where we are divided by separateness and contempt. 
  • Grace dissolves contempt and is catalyst for greater good 
  • GRACE as an anacronym means: 
  • Generosity- open hearted sharing of authority
  • Respect – non -judgemental acceptance of others 
  • Action- Staying a stand and doing good 
  • Compassion- understanding humanity of another 
  • Energy – keeping fit and mobilised for action 
  • Why is it missing- all of us suffer shortcomings, many of us are too busy, metric focused and short-sighted, some of us are afraid to be vulnerable 
  • Scott Moorhead of a company featured in Johns book talks about giving people permission to care
  • Part of caring is insisting on responsibility it is not mushy.
  • Grace is a mindset shift-more deeply we have an altruism gene so we have to let-go some misconceptions we have about Leading. 
  • As a leader ask yourself if you are generous in spirit, are you genuinely respectful of others, do you act for the benefit of others, do you go out of your way to show compassion and do you work to bring people together for the better good
  • As a manager and leader you do care about getting results but there is a lubricant that could get there in a more engaging manner- GRACE


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  1. John Baldoni: Grace, A Leaders Guide to a Better Us
  2. John Mattone: Intelligent Leadership
  3. Markus Buckingham’s latest book Nine lies about work 
Feb 15, 2020
A Conversation with Alexander Caillet on the Game of Teams Podcast series 

Introduction: Alexander Caillet is renowned for his pioneering approach to team coaching and his state of mind research with organisational Leaders. He is an organisational psychologist, consultant, executive coach and team coach, working internationally. Alexander is CEO of Corentus, a coaching and consulting organisation dedicated to transforming teams. He is also faculty at Georgetown University, He is a frequent international speaker on subjects such as  change, Teams, Team Coaching and Leadership. Alexander has co-authored a mini book called Corentus Team Coaching, a fascinating read. Alexander is a dual citizen of France and the US and he lives in Boston with his wife and 3 beautiful daughters.


Podcast episode summary: In this episode Alexander Caillet communicates with enormous clarity & passion his approach to team coaching, the power of this methodology and the gift it can afford teams and organisations especially in answer to our VUCA world. Alexander describes the company’s approach to team interventions, the models he deploys and the role of the team coach. He shares many vignettes to illuminate the power of team coaching and how by way of this work the teams work is sustainable. 


Noteworthy points of discussion

  • Alexander Caillet saw the power of Group Dynamics in his studies at Columbia University and he wanted to bring this power into his work with teams. 
  • Team Coaching is the product of integrating a real time approach in group dynamics in a business or organisational setting with the team is doing its work so that they can adapt and get at improved performance 
  • Teams and groups today are brought into the work using tools to support the building of team charters, defining a purpose, clarifying goals understanding roles etc. but they stumble on communication, trust and respect and although we have tools for these ideas they are seemingly insufficient when the team is back in the workplace. 
  • The real translation of those tools around communication trust, psychological safety happens in the moment when the team has a breakdown back at work and they can see how to navigate these issues with real time coaching. 
  • There is almost an implicit assumption at work on teams that “we don’t do that kind of work it is too dangerous” but group dynamics in terms of norms/patterns/outcome are unavoidable and without it we lose opportunity to get a HPTs. 
  • There is a role with teams for Team Facilitation, Team Building, Team Teaching and Consulting and there is also room for Team Coaching. 
  • Corentus offers a customised approach that is a combination of all four modalities
  • Team Coaching is an engagement over time sometime a year-that allows for team observation and analysis of its processes and patterns to further sustained difference 
  • Corentus employs a definitive model to support teams engage with their work: The model is described as Sensing/Being/Making moves. 
  • Being describes the way a Coach shows up-important to be fit for the work as this work is not for the faint of heart-essential to be grounded and to understand triggers – being calm and clear gets noticed and helps the team
  • Sensing is about gathering data either quantitatively or qualitatively and then feeding it back to the team in a neutral manner . Corentus uses many tools but important to them is the idea of the relationship between norms/patterns and outcomes or the OPN model – all teams have patterns laid down by norms, assumptions and beliefs that generate definitive outcomes 
  • Making Moves is about using the data in the various domains of decision making/accountability etc for difference 
  • Having data and asking powerful questions in the moment when the team is doing its work can often be a real turning point for a team and the real value of Team Coaching 
  • We walk into systems very quickly and often we become blind or go native to the system we are in. Team Coaching allows us to pause and notice and ask the team to do the same- to notice what is happening, what patterns are emerging and what needs to be changed if anything? 
  • Important to this work is Leadership Coaching in addition to working with the Leader and team publicly, Corentus will work with the Leader and their impact offline over time. 
  • We are living in a VUCA world 
  • Volatility represents the relentless speed & pace of change, Uncertainty meaning things are harder to predict, Complexity making things difficult to analyse and Ambiguity making things harder to interpret. 
  • VUCA drives a lot of overwhelm. 
  • Corentus and Alexander sees a real need for teams to focus, for teams to invest time together, to come together to work things out. 
  • Alexander sees the work of Team Coaches as  instrumental and of value in this VUCA world if we can transfer  the knowledge and skills we use with teams so that they can sense/be and make moves for themselves. 
  • Alexander shared a powerful story of work with a with a well-known NGO and how his approach and models supported the Executive Team of this entity ultimately make decision four times faster than they ordinarily were able to do. This ability and skill learnt over time  was of enormous value when in reality the NGO was faced with a humanitarian crisis after the Tsunami in 2008. 
  • Alexander is intent on building Corentus Globally , writing and speaking more, stepping out of delivery and having an impact in terms of increased global collaboration and collective intelligence . I wish him all the success in these endeavours 


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  2. Introduction to Corentus Team Coaching by Alexander Caillet and Amy Yeager
Feb 01, 2020
A Conversation with Sarah Hill on the Game of Teams Podcast series 

Introduction: Sarah Hill is the co-owner of Dialogix and she describes herself as a dialogue facilitator and behavioural dynamics interventionist. The focus of her work is on tackling some of the toughest and most demanding behavioural challenges. She works with CEOs and senior leaders from a range of different cultures and countries.  She designs & delivers accredited training programs on structural dynamics, generative dialogue and childhood story. Sarah is the Author of “Where did you learn to behave like that? A coaching guide for working with Leaders. She has also co-authored the book The Tao of Dialogue. Sarah holds a PhD and has published articles on collaborative research working with invisible realities & issues of integrity through the lens of Structural Dynamics. Sarah’s ambition as a thought leader is to help Leaders recognise that their unresolved childhood stories not only adversely impact themselves but the teams and whole systems of which they are a part. 


Podcast episode summary: This episode explores the methodology of Structural Dynamics and Childhood Story. Sarah explained how the behavioural components of structural dynamics can help a team understand their communication patterns and resolve some stuck patterns. She distinguished between the 4 levels of structural dynamics and how practical a model it can be for teams. She also explored the very real invisible realities of childhood story and how shadow behaviours in high stake situations can impede constructive dialogue. Between us we shared our own childhood stories and the work it takes to re-narrate internal narratives. 


Noteworthy points of discussion

  • Sarah ‘s interest and passion for change and generative dialogue came after a chance meeting with an organisation called Prison Dialogue. There she witnessed the power of these processes to exercise change even in tough cultures. 
  • Exposed to the work of David Kantor and her PhD “Separate Lives silenced voices” is a theme through all of her work 
  • Sarah referenced the podcast I had with Dr. Paul Lawrence, episode 13 where he explored Structural Dynamics with me 
  • Sarah illuminated the 4 different levels of Structural Dynamics
  • Level One: speaks to our action propensities in conversation through four different acts, the move, the follow, oppose and the bystander
  • Level Two: These are the operating rules governing our behaviour, open, closed or random
  • Level Three: describes the communication domain we use or attend to and they include, Power which is about action or task, Affect is about intimacy or a focus on relationship, Meaning is about sense making, thought or knowledge 


  • Level Four: relates to your childhood story that is often invisible
  • If I were to self-assess using this model, I might consider that I am naturally inclined towards Move/Random/Meaning/
  • Sarah shared her story about being uncomfortable with oppose having been in a family dynamic where oppose was used and where for Sarah as a child it was dangerous to oppose or be opposed. That was her internal narrative 
  • In high stakes we can react in ways that are embarrassing & shaming. Often something else is playing out behind the shadow behaviour, a fear or old narrative that is now not helpful
  • The work involves understanding what happens in high stakes, what are the triggers that induce shadow behaviour? what are the themes or fears that lie behind our behaviour in high stakes? what are some of our formative experiences? The work is not to dwell on the story but to recraft a new narrative, knowing that the story does not change
  • Structural Dynamics helps to make the invisible visible. It provides a way to understand what might be appearing in conversation and why often there exist model clashes between individuals on teams or in organisations 
  • Structural Dynamics is very proactive. It equips teams to change the nature of their discourses by having a common language to explore together. 
  • Sarah is of the mind that the work of Structural Dynamics and the associated behavioural change work necessary is still not central enough on teams 
  • Sarah appreciates that to do the work teams need to slow down to speed up. 



  2. The Tao of Dialogue by Paul Lawrence and Sarah Hill 
  3. Reading the Room by David Kantor 
  4.  Dialogue the art of thinking together by William Isaacs 
  5. Where did you learn to behave like that? A coaching guide for working with Leaders by Sarah Hill 
  6. Where did you learn to behave like that Podcast series on itunes 
Jan 15, 2020
A Conversation with John Hill on the Game of Teams Podcast series 

Introduction: John Hill is an accredited Executive Coach and Training specialist. He is a faculty member with the Academy of Executive Coaching and teaches on their Master Systemic Team Coaching Diploma. He has two particular interests in his work, 1. Build awareness systemically and 2. Develop personal and collective psychological capital in groups, teams and organisations. 


Podcast episode summary: John illuminated the important systemic nature of teams. He littered this show with many references and stories showcasing what it means to think systemically. He shared why he thinks thinking systemically is important and how it shapes the work and behaviours on teams.  He also demonstrated the interlink between emotions, psychology and transformational change. Sometimes, according to John we simply have to look awry and with curiosity to get at different results. 


Noteworthy points of discussion

  • We are all each of us affected by the many and varying systems in which we live
  • Maybe we have to do a better job of reintegrating the many disparate ways we look at the world
  • John cited the increasing need for teams today, teams are the units of currency or building blocks for great organisational performance 
  • John shared a metaphor that describes his approach to team coaching. He sees teams as rivers in flow with a direction and many influences in the form of tributaries. As a team coach he is the rock that the team needs to navigate, be with and be disrupted by. 
  • John described his process of engagement with teams, a model used by Professor Peter Hawkins called the CID-CLEAR model. 
  • John uses himself as an instrument of change. He is pragmatic, down to earth and real and he helps the team clarify their expectations together, the outcomes they wish to achieve in a very vivid manner. 
  • All teams are complex. “There is nothing more complicated than when it is looked at with fresh eyes doesn’t become more complicated” Donella Meadows 
  • A survey conducted by Conference Board of New York showed how job satisfaction and engagement at work was affected by feelings, how we feel about our manager and how we feel about the people with whom we worked largely impacts engagement. 
  • John helps teams become intelligent about their emotions; he also helps people become adept at looking at their thinking. 
  • He often employs a CBT approach to thinking about thinking. He described the Ellis model or ABCDE model, where if we can dispute the beliefs (the B in the model) we can change our thinking. 
  • Similarly, John shared the work of Lex Sisney, an organisational coach who says, “it is not a problem to be solved but a polarity to be managed.”
  • John described his approach to team engagement which often encompasses some form of somatic work and embodied work for insight and thinking 
  • Team Coaching is a blend of facilitation, coaching, teaching and systems sight
  • According to Professor Alice Roberts the evolution of Homo Sapiens versus Neanderthals amounted to an ability by Homo Sapiens to collaborate. The degree of change happening today requires greater levels of collaboration. 
  • Teams need to come together to explore the skills, experiences and judgements that they can better use together than apart. 
  • Katzenbach and Smith is a good book and great primer for people to consider the work of teams. 
  • John shared his view that teams need to treat their purpose as if it were a baby to be nurtured. He also said we could think about changing the word purpose from a noun into a verb and start thinking about how we are purposing in our meetings, time together etc…
  • Teams need to think more systemically and ask questions such as “what would our stakeholders ask of us” what does the future generation require of this team today?” 


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. Donella H. Meadows (2008) Thinking in Systems:  A Primer 
  2. William R. Torbert, Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership 
  3. Peter Hawkins, CID -Clear Model as described in Leadership Team Coaching 
  4. Albert Ellis ABC theory developed into an ABCDE framework found at 
  5. Johari Window created by Joseph Luft and Harrington Inghram in 1955
  6. Lex Sisney, The science of growing businesses 
  7. Professor Alice Roberts. Tamed, Ten Species that changed our world 
  8. Katzenback, JR. Smith, K. The Wisdom of Teams 
Jan 03, 2020
A Conversation with Donal Courtney on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: Donal Courtney has married an incredibly successful commercial /corporate as an Executive and now Independent NED career with an equally impressive career in Rugby refereeing.  Donal started his career as a Chartered Accountant, was practice Manager for Author Anderson, held various CFO/Executive board positions for companies like Airbus, Orix and GMAC Bank. He is an independent Non-Executive Director for Dell Bank, IPUT, Uni Credit and Permanent TSB. His is a former International Rugby referee and Head of European refereeing and he is now World Rugby disciplinary panel member. 


Podcast episode summary: This particular episode shared Donal’s insight working/leading and managing teams both on the pitch and off the pitch in corporate life. Donal peppered this conversation with numerous examples & lessons we can learn from the world of sport.  As many of my guests have shared & Donal agreed the demands on people at work are increasing, regulation has increased, governance is tougher, there is a greater focus on culture in a good way, pace & the speed of change is relentless. We are living in an increasingly digitised and networked society and this ask for new Leadership and a collective approach to solve some of our more wicked problems. Much can be learnt from the world of sport. 


Noteworthy points of discussion

  • Whether you are leading a 2-man team or a 10 -man team, Leadership is critical. Leaders need to think in terms of not just the resources available to the team but about the right skills, the right balance & mix of people making sure people feel safe to contribute and be part of a collective 
  • Regular check-points and feedback is required -Seagull management is a misnomer 
  • Continuous discussion and a process to surface issues, escalate concerns and have the conversations that matter. This means more agile ways of working.
  • World is more complex, Brexit for example creating uncertainty, banking change and regulation has heightened, Culture and creating a culture that allows for Diversity and Inclusion is important -belonging matters 
  • Everyone one is different, and people need to feel OK to bring themselves to work 
  • Huge opportunity for innovation and learning but that requires a willingness to adapt & learn
  • In sport players are encouraged to look at videos to see their play and their patterns we spoke about how this approach is akin to coaching effectively in organisations 
  • Donal’s approach at the Irish Rugby Union is coach like-he asks questions because he knows he is not close to the action the players are. 
  • People have to move away from the idea of failure and embrace continuous learning and experimentation -a lot of it comes down how you communicate and the values you model
  • Best team in Donal’s opinion as an example of great team work is the All Blacks. He shares how the All Blacks stay on the pitch after a match to practice their routine. They have about 7-8 different Hakas that they need to perform. They demonstrate togetherness, organisation, shared or distributed leadership, clear purpose, co-ordination and an ethos of belonging to a bigger cause. It is all about the Jersey. 
  • Joe Schmitt brought that ethos to the Irish Team-Joe is committed to practice, planning and clarity of play. 
  • Donal loves the Adidas logo “Impossible is nothing” and he shared many examples of teams who came from obscurity to becoming winners by virtue of their belief & commitment, witness Japan versus South Africa in the last world cup, Leicester City a few years ago, The Europeans in 2012 at Medina in the US. 
  • TEAM acronym to mean Togetherness, Empathy, Attitude and Management 
  • His lesson from his transition from Executive to INED is to know your role and understand you are working on a team and not as a sole trader.
  • Things will go wrong on teams but it is how you deal with the fallout that is important 
  • Golf is often thought of as a very singular sport but Donal commented on the very important role the team plays in a professional golfers career. The relationship between caddy and player is vital. 
Dec 15, 2019
A Conversation with Professor Amy Edmondson on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: Amy Edmondson is a renowned expert in the field of Leadership and Management.  She is the Novartis Professor of Leadership & Management at Harvard Business School where she teaches courses on Leadership, Organisational Learnings and Operations Management on the MBA and Executive Education Programs. She is a rigorous researcher and prolific writer. Her books on Teaming:  how organisations learn innovate and compete in a knowledge economy, Extreme Teaming: teaming where you are exploring teaming in dynamic organisational environments and her latest book the fearless organisation: creating psychological safety in the workplace for learning innovation and growth are all must reads. 


Podcast episode summary:  Amy’s latest book The Fearless Organisation: Creating Psychological Safety in the workplace for learning, innovation and growth is the focus for this podcast episode. Amy expertly guides us to understand what  Psychological Safety is, why it matters and what it takes to build in organisations. She shares that Psychological Safety is an enabler and affords organisations a real competitive advantage in a knowledge economy . She also shares that it is incredibly rare. Amy explains why and discusses some of the organisational learnings she writes about in her book. 


Noteworthy points of discussion



  • Amy started by sharing her real interest in workplace learning. She stumbled on teaming and psychological safety in her field -based research
  • Psychological Safety describes a climate, technically an interpersonal one where we size up our environment and assess whether it is safe enough to speak up on work relevant content at all times. 
  • Psychological Safety matters because we are engaged in knowledge- based work that relies on our interdependence, creativity where we have to use our brains to think and co-ordinate together
  • The messy and constantly changing nature of work means that it is necessary to speak up or the work will suffer
  • “Excellence rests on our willingness to come forward” 
  • We have two jobs at work, our job and then the job of looking good
  • At some unconscious level all of us are deeply afraid we will be found to be inadequate. The fear may be trivial and unfounded if we were to pursue its logic but as humans we don’t -we act as if we could be fired. 
  • Psychological Safety whilst a competitive advantage in organisations is missing because it is hard. Our default state for humans is to be a little afraid and to hold back for fear we will be judged
  • The research shows that it is easier to find places and organisations where Psychological Safety does not exist than ones where it is healthy. 
  • NASA is an example shared in her book where an engineer had a supposition that something was not quite right with the shuttle but felt he could not speak up because he could not substantiate his findings. The result was a fatal tragedy. 
  • In another example Amy shares how, Pixar cultivated a rich culture of psychological safety. It took a dedicated institution of processes, structures and norms to make speaking up easier. 
  • Leaders behaviours and attitudes often erode Psychological Safety; the belief you are supposed to know and its cousin, you have to be right making  it difficult for others to want to participate. 
  • Amy describes some antidotes and practices for Leaders


-Be explicit about the nature of the work, the inherent uncertainly and the need for ingenuity and teamwork 

-Create explicit structures and norms 

-Enquire more, ask genuinely curious questions 

-Respond productively in other words be conscious your response has implications for the future participation of your colleagues. 


  • Amy advises leaders and members of teams to keep mindful of what is at stake -consider why your work matters. She also suggests that Leaders force themselves to be curious because if you adopt a curious mindset you will ask questions, you will learn, especially if you listen. 


Resources mentioned on the show


  1. Amy C. Edmondson, Teaming: How Organisations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy
  2. Amy C. Edmondson, Extreme Teaming: Lessons in Complex, Cross Sector Leadership
  3. Amy C. Edmondson, The Fearless Organisation: Creating Psychological Safety in the workplace for Learning, Innovation and Growth. 
Dec 01, 2019
A Conversation with Olivia McEvoy on the Game of Teams Podcast Series

Introduction: Olivia is a Director of EY’s Diversity & Inclusion service in Ireland. She leads a team to help clients achieve their D&I ambitions as a key driver for Talent Acquisition, employee engagement, and ultimately success in the market place. Before joining EY, Oliva ran her own successful practice, consulting to Government, State Agencies and to the Voluntary sector on stakeholder engagement and the business of cultural participation.  Olivia has worked on some incredibly important projects for Children in care in Ireland. She has been instrumental in driving strategic change as part of her role as Chair of the Board of Directors of the national LGBT Federation. Olivia holds a M.SC in Interactive Digital Media, a B.A (HONS) in Sociology and Philosophy from Trinity College Dublin and she is also an accredited life coach.


Podcast episode summary: This episode packs an enormous amount of practical information/insight and wisdom into the business for Diversity and Inclusion as a strategic imperative for Organisations. Olivia believes this work is not the work of a few passionate champions but a deliberate and well thought trough strategy, a strategy that impacts systemically. Olivia shares stories and her wisdom working in this field and builds a strong case for more Leadership Inclusivity training and practices that support companies be future fit.


Show highlights:


  • Olivia grew up in rural Ireland and is from Cavan. At age 17 she left to move to Canada where she discovered philosophy and went onto study Philosophy and Sociology in Trinity College Dublin -her ideal is to contribute to society
  • She describes the state of the nation of D&I in Ireland as a disconnect where 100% of participants in organisations say D&I is important but only 53.1% have a strategy in place, where only 25% have conducted a diagnostic and where only 16% are actually measuring the ROI
  • There needs to be a gear change and that gear change will only come about if we consider D&I as a strategic imperative and where we tackle the concern systemically
  • Companies needs to have a D&I lens that that covers the entire business
  • In early 2000’s in Ireland it was rare for Children to have a voice or to be able to influence decisions that were made about their welfare. The Ryan Report changed that. Olivia worked on that project and whilst harrowing to listen to some of the Children’s story she was proud that Ireland implemented the recommendations from the report
  • Olivia describes how the word Diversity is perhaps the easier of the two words to understand and implement in D&I. Inclusiveness is harder to implement.
  • Sometimes it is simply about starting.
  • Trick is to blow open the notion of Diversity as being broader that just a “women’s thing”
  • Diversity is made accessible when it is described in broader terms to include everything you see and maybe don’t see, such as age, race & ethnicity, gender, LGBT, ability, neuro diversity, personalities and different cognitive patterns or perspectives
  • D&I is about performance, decision making, risk taking, interpersonal risk taking and risk excellence. D&I on teams can lead to greater degrees of innovation, knowing your customer, challenging norms and narrow biases.
  • Important to recognise that being inclusive is about developing skills-it is a skillset. EY teach or train for Leadership Inclusivity. They start at foundation-what is D&I? What is business case for D&I?, What are the required behaviours and skills and end by defining some real goals and measures.
  • Olivia reminded us of the lost art of knowing our people, helping people understand their role and how it connects to the higher purpose of the organisation, noticing and seeking out diverse perspectives
  • Olivia reminded me of the Key Note address given by Andrew Keating, Group CFO for Bank of Ireland. Andrew very poignantly remarked that if he had been born Andrea rather than Andrew, he would not have enjoyed the same meteoric rise to success as he has enjoyed as a man.
  • Neuro diversity is the next big insight. 85% of people who are considered Neuro Diverse or on the spectrum are unemployed. Olivia and EY believe we can change or help change this statistic by changing our approach to recruitment for one but also how we view these people.
  • To be future fit organisations need to embrace D&I holistically. Important to remind ourselves that Millenials who comprise over 51% of our work force & generation Y are choosing employers not only on the basis of reward and recognition but also on the basis of the company’s reputation, brand, social media practices, ethical practices and D&I programs
  • Smart working and the gig portfolio are ways of working that are only increasing and curiously they are gender neutral. What is missing is the training to support team leads be with teams who work remotely, or work in a gig fashion.
  • Some nuggets on parting;

- Simply start,

-Do not cut and paste the approach taken by Google instead companies would do well to develop their own bespoke D&I strategy

-Conduct a diagnostic and work out what is working and what employees think about the company’s inclusive practices

-mine the Data and finally ensure Leadership accountability and Executive Leadership buy-in

  • Olivia ended our conversation by pondering the word “belonging” and questioned whether we do in fact need to belong at work. Is it not better to remember we have outside lives and that people are holistic -we need to nurture environments that allow for that.



Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  1. EY Ireland 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Survey Report
  2. The Ryan Report
  3. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs-TACTIC (Teenagers and Children talking in Care) Project-
  4. Growing up in Ireland Project -a longitudinal study, studying 9 month old children and children 9 years of age in terms of what it means to grow up in Ireland
Nov 15, 2019
A Conversation with Terrie Luperger on the Game of Teams Podcast Series

Introduction: Terrie is a bit revolutionary and evolutionary in her thinking and approach. Terrie coaches and advises leaders and teams worldwide. She uses innovative change processes to help individuals and teams improve  the results they get without having to sacrifice well-being Terrie is a Master Certified Coach, she is a pioneer in the field of coaching and was one a number of professionals who codified the Core Coaching Competencies used today as the standard of Coaching Professionalism worldwide. Terrie is currently chief disruptor at her own company, Terrie Lupberger and associates, senior director at Altus Growth Partners, Program Facilitator for the Executive Circle for Women who Lead and Director of Training for the Coach Partnership (formerly Newfield Asia)


Podcast episode summary: This episode illuminated the many conversations that are missing on teams and spoke to the need for Leaders and members to be cognisant of the promises they hold for the sake of the team, the mood they live and the shape or quality of their team standards. Terrie spoke of some team myths, debunked the notion that teams simply exist to work but instead exist to fulfil a promise. She also communicated her desire for more teams to enjoy their time together, to be enlivened by the work, to be nourished and fulfilled by the work they do together. There is too much suffering & wasted energy going on in organisations. Conversations could change the shape of work life. 


Show highlights:


  • Terrie started life working in Washington DC as a manager in the treasury department
  • A program designed to help people re-locate changed how she saw change management
  • Teams exist to fulfil a shared promise
  • Emotional intelligence and Somatic intelligence inform a lot of the work she does with teams
  • She helps teams navigate, manage and expand their emotional literacy at work
  • She discussed how the way we show up as leader determines whether people chose to follow us, be repelled by us or move away
  • She pays attention to the shapes of conversations-context matters, setting & environment matters, linguistic ability matters etc..
  • One myth we need to debunk is the notion that we can ask for certainty in a world that is VUCA, instead we need to equip leaders and teams to be resilient, to be flexible and agile not just intellectually but emotionally as well. We have to be able to pivot
  • Understand Politics and Power do not be blindsided by both
  • Terrie described her approach working with teams. She engages the leader first, then she has interviews/conversations with individual members and then with the team as a whole to work out their shared promise, their ways of working and the kinds of conversations that are missing between members.
  • She is minded that the team need to understand what will satisfy their customers and stakeholders-do they know?
  • Teams form but they do not necessarily have the conversations to shape their interactions or how they will be together, especially in times of breakdowns
  • There is a sort of take it for granted approach to team norms
  • She encourages teams to take a look at the missing conversations the members are not willing or are uncomfortable to have together
  • She shared a word coined by Chalmers Brothers “Carefrontation” as a substitute for difficult conversations, asking how we care about our promise, our working agreements, our care for a supportive environment, our missing conversations
  • She opined that there is too much suffering in our organisations that could be resolved by better quality conversations.
  • Often individuals on teams need to question their own patterns, beliefs about teams, how they self-sabotage, what stores they live etc..this awareness can improve the quality of team life
  • Terrie shared the work of Judith Glaser, called conversational intelligence and how science shares that our emotions precede us and impact how another reacts to us. We need to be mindful and aware. This is a great book to understand how to learn new and effective powerful conversational rituals that primes the brain for trust, partnership and mutual success.
  • Terrie shared 3 nuggets for teams to consider-What is the shared promise for the team? Watch your mood and do a self-analysis on the conversations this team will not engage.


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  1. Chalmers Brothers; Language and the Pursuit of Happiness
  2. The Institute for Generative Leadership Https://
  3. Judith Glaser; Conversational Intelligence



Nov 01, 2019
A Conversation with Conor Brennan on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: This episode showcases the business of Leadership and what good leaders need to notice in our current VUCA world. Conor Brennan is CEO of Arachas Corporate Brokers in Ireland. He says his role as a CEO, isn’t just to make sure we have the expertise and resources to make good on the promises we make every day, it’s to make sure our people truly understand the role they play in being there for our customers when they need us most. Conor was formerly  CEO of Zurich UK General Insurance & CEO of Zurich GI in Ireland. He held roles as Deputy CEO Chambers Ireland and roles in print and media with a BA Hons, Commerce and Communications from Dublin City University.


Podcast episode summary: This episode discussed Leadership and some of the needed competencies for leaders today. The conversation spoke to the importance of societal change and its impact on business, especially the war for talent. The insurance business of which Conor is apart can be seen as traditional and hierarchical often with a legacy of heroic leaders. That way of leadership is changing. 

  • Conor did not dream of being in Insurance he almost fell into Insurance after a significant period working as Deputy CEO for Chambers of Ireland
  • He loved his degree in college, it was new and exciting to be in communications in an Ireland that was a two station TV nation, a country governed by the Church where much of Ireland was really insular. 
  • He quickly appreciated the power of reading and reading voraciously to equip him in Business
  • To him the construction of business leaders is broadly governed by societal changes. 
  • Generational understanding is critical. Important to be able to listen, the new generation of workers expect this as a minimum, it also allows for collective intelligence leading to better decision making 
  • Leaders have to be mindful of the generational mix in business and to ensure the wider system is respected. 
  • Quality of debate seen in recent Brexit talks by our Taoiseach, Simon Coveney and Helen McEntee was inspirational & speaks to the brilliance and educational minds of our young leaders
  • We are not having harmless conversations about climate change anymore and people like Greta Thunberg and our own young protesters are heralding a sea change in our response to this crisis-shows how the opinion of the next generation is feeding into our contemporary conversations 
  • Impact of Brexit is having an impact on the war for talent. With companies choosing Ireland over the UK as a centre along with Direct Foreign Investment means tightness with respect to labour. 
  • Demands of younger generation & what appeals to them from a career perspective much different to what was. Purpose paramount, ethics essential, continuous learning, flexible work conditions/terms and older workers mean a lot to consider over financial remuneration 
  • Leaders have to be congruent and you have to believe in your intentions -audio has to match the video
  • Behind language is action-tough challenges in a competitive market means much greater need for mature conversations on the top team
  • Norms are important, respect, integrity, an ability to dialogue and appreciate difference
  • Leaders need to mind their inappropriate use of EGO
  • Conor’s Leadership Style is inclusive, and he works hard to bring diverse opinions into the room to form better decisions. He ensures the conditions on his team allow for mature and respectful conversations where a common and shared view of the business is held. 
  • Conor shared his journey into Leadership and how preparation, passion and a willingness to invest in himself and change his style including getting coaching meant he could then assume greater and more responsible roles in Zurich. He was well resourced by Zurich in terms of leadership development 
  • In hiring for his top team, he looks for attitude first. Technical skills are necessary but can be taught
  • In terms of our VUCA world Conor helps leaders especially younger leaders to look less for perfection and encourage other intelligences including listening to their gut
  • Conor draws inspiration from many sport’ teams and he is especially proud of the Dublin GAA. He cites a story where a player came off the pitch after a major win and in the moment did not recall the point win, instead he noted the team’s performance. 
  • Conor admires the naturalness, connected nature of high performing sports teams who do the right thing. He sees harmony and symphony as necessary prerequisites to teams’ performance in our complex networked world. 
  • Conor is a big fan of coaching and he employed team coaching for his top team at Arachas. Getting team members to get at mutual goals is hard work and a continuous practice 
  • Culture change is hard and rewarding but it must be worked with commitment and effort. 
  • Conor’s top 3 tips or nuggets for teams include 
  1. Be appropriate with your ego 
  2. Work with people that stimulate you and challenge you
  3. Have fun 


Quotable Quotes: “helping people do their best work elsewhere” “Be appropriate with your ego” 


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  1. Prisoners of Geography 
  2. Unauthorised Biography of Tiger Wooods 
  3. Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood 
Oct 15, 2019
A Conversation with Sue McDonnell on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: Sue McDonnell is an Irishwoman working in Sydney Australia. She is an Executive Coach, Team Coach, Facilitator and Energy alignment practitioner. Sue holds a degree in Sociology from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, a Postgraduate diploma in Business from University College Dublin, Ireland and she is also a qualified psychotherapist. 


Podcast episode summary: This episode is a fascinating listen into the life of a Practitioner who is able to be vulnerable and open and as a consequence raise the consciousness of her clients. Sue McDonnell shares her approach to team work, speaks to real issue of trauma on teams and how she helps teams heal. She discusses dialogue and how she helps teams connect their being with their doing. Sue is honest about subjects like feedback, real conversations and our capacity to be truly honest with each other. This episode is packed with stories, anecdotes and practices that are practicable. A very real conversation I hope you enjoy


Show highlights:



  • Sue shares how she was a naturally sensitive child and was almost born into facilitation 
  • She has an amazing manager in Eircom in the guise of Yvonne McWey who helped Sue really hone her passion for OD and Leadership Development 
  • Sue decided to pursue a course in psychotherapy in a guest to really understand why for her she could not work with just anyone. 
  • Journey from Head to Heart is often the longest one
  • Sue suffered from Chronic fatigue and in her healing discovered that she was living in indecision which was tearing her. Teams often live the same way
  • In Australia there is a cultural need to be mates. Teams often chose harmony over conflict with the shadow being that often team members are not able to have the robust and necessary conversations for change. 
  • In Australia she finds that there exists a hierarchical and deferential with respect to power in culture s
  • Sue employs the Adaptive Leadership Approach to her team work and approach she learnt from Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linksy in the US. 
  • Their approach is to give the work back to the team and this message is essential as often teams project onto facilitators their need to be led. 
  • Sue often starts a team engagement by simply asking “where do we begin?” 
  • Upfront part of contracting is vital, and Sue conducts it with every member of the team. She is looking for the members appetite for the work, their measure of accountability and also a relationship so the work can start on a sound footing 
  • Often our work as Coaches is to raise the heat on teams so that the team can see their stuck patterns and or have the conversations that are necessary
  • Sue is very conscious that as facilitators and as coaches we need to do the work on ourselves first. 
  • Team often have a vague idea of why they need support but often that comes by doing the work as is often the case with individual coaching 
  • Sue used to work with teams where it was not prudent or wise to call what she was doing as mindfulness or meditation, now both of those terms are ubiquitous. Today she is seeing trauma in evidence on teams and in the work place and she imagines that in 5 years’ time that word will be commonplace too. Stress/Redundancies/ Fear/ are creating the conditions for the ego to be live. Competition between members is often acute. 
  • Sue works on an individual basis with team members when she is doing team coaching and as part of that work, she helps members understand their biases/beliefs/behaviours in terms of their story of origin. This then helps more mature conversations on the team. 
  • Biggest problem people have is believing their thoughts. She helps team members reframe, get curious, be conscious and she does that through skilful questioning. 
  • Sue shared some of her work on energy alignment and the practices she employs to help teams operate from a more open space. 
  • She spoke to the continuum between selfless to selfish and how she encourages members to become self-full 
  • Our work as coaches is to help team’s step back, reflect and pause which can often be counterintuitive in a fast -paced world. 


  • Sue questions the veracity of feedback when she opines, we are not very self -aware or emotionally intelligent. She is keen to read a recent HBR article called feedback is flawed. 
  • Much of our work is about disruption today. She was working with a team whose purpose it was to help other organisations disrupt themselves but curiously that same team had a very high score in “pleasing” the message is clear we need to be conscious of our own drivers/biases and patterns before we can help others. 
  • Sue does use tools and she respects that many tools serve a useful purpose and for her are gateways to more powerful conversations. She uses Lominger, the Leadership Circle and Kantors dialogue model. She explained how she helps teams get confortable in the use of her models and tools 
  • What she particularly loves about Kantor’s model is that for her it is practical, easy to teach and an approach that is non-judgemental but enormously helpful for teams to see their communication patterns and preferences. Often by its use Teams get comfortable in their increased appreciation for difference and the consequence is not only behavioural change but a growth in psychological safety. 


Quotable Quotes: “Journey from the head to the heart is often the  longest” “Our role as facilitators is to first wake up” “working with teams from success to significance” “95% of people come to work to do a good job” “often our biggest problem is believing our thoughts” “there is nothing more protecting that an open heart” 


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  1. The practice of Adaptive Leadership, Tools and tactics for changing your organisation and the world by Ronald A, Heifetz, Marty Linksky and Alexander Grahsow 
  2. The Leadership Circle, a profiling tool for Leadership Development 
  3. Lominger Assessment Instruments and the Lominger Competency Model 
  4. Kantor Institute 
Oct 01, 2019
A Conversation with Curtis Watkins and Dan Newby on the Game of Teams Podcast Series

Introduction: Curtis Watkins and Dan Newby are the Co-Authors of the book Field Guide to emotions a practical orientation to 150 essential emotions. Curtis is a Master Certified coach; a Master Somatic Coach and his focus is primarily dedicated to supporting individuals and teams be more connected to a purpose and meaningful work. Dan is an educator, facilitator and Coach and also author of several books on emotions. He is a global champion of emotional literacy working with teams and individuals to leverage a gift available to all as part our human condition

Podcast episode summary: This episode looks at a domain of learning that is often overlooked, Emotional literacy. Over the course of the conversation Dan & Curtis explained the auspices for their book, the usefulness of emotions as a domain for better decision making and congruence for individuals and teams. Dan explained that emotions are energy and they speak up for met or unmet needs in a person. Using personal stories and their own experience in compiling this book Dan & Curtis helped demystify the nature of emotions, the connectedness to our bodies and our mind and shared practical tools and exercises to decode emotions for more aligned choices. 

  • Dan & Curtis joined forces to share their respective expertise in Somatic intelligence & emotional literacy to write the book called a field guide to emotions, a practical orientation to 150 essential emotions. 
  • The choice to write the book as a field guide seemed appropriate as a tool for discovery because emotions are interpretations and can register differently for different people. 
  • Emotions are not discretionary you do not have a choice about having emotions, but you can design to visit more or different emotions more frequently. You can learn and design your life 
  • The invitation is to notice, observe how emotions arise in our bodies, watch for the intelligence they share & the possibilities they present and ultimately build a vocabulary of emotional understanding 
  • Emotions are invisible to us. The only way we know to know them is by the sensations they create in our bodies or through the thinking we have around them. 
  • One reason why you might begin to appreciate their usefulness is to think about the persistent woeful Gallup results produced year on year about engagement at work. 87% of employees are disengaged and 13% of that total are actively disengaged or sabotaging work efforts. The lesson here is that if we are not in touch with our emotional states, we can walk around in a disengaged manner not fully appreciating why. 
  • A leaders’ role is to create the context for enthusiasm to be present 
  • You can practice and design emotional states to have a better life. 
  • We need to bust the myths that emotions are fixed and not learnable or malleable 
  • A huge proportion for our emotional state is learnt. 
  • Advice to be curious about emotions and to appreciate they are indicators of needs being met or unmet
  • Two emotions that the authors visited were Faith and Prudence. In fact, the authors had fun deciding what classified and met the threshold to be a genuine emotion. 
  • There are no universal definitions of emotions, the authors had to agree what fit an emotion and they determined emotions had to have 3 characteristics, A story, an impulse and a purpose this then made the field guide a very practical manual for readers to decipher their own emotions 
  • Emotions also have a time orientation so we can group emotions in 3 ways, emotions that fit the past, present and future
  • In terms of their use with teams Dan and Curtis shared exercises and conversation that they both have with teams where the ultimate goal is to normalise emotions and be in choice about what decisions to take and what direction in which to move. 
  • Joy is an emotion that is often absent on teams -there is no regular celebration of moments, achievements or milestones. There tends to be a wait for the seismic moment and the predominant mood or emotion is about being serious. 
  • Curtis would love to see more teams be connected to a cause or purpose greater than the individuals concerned. Enthusiasm, or connection to the divine, which is deeply connected to cause or mission for a team. 
  • Emotional literacy is not common place although It might make eminent sense. The first trick is to notice, name the sensation or suspected emotion and then build understanding and finally navigate -all of this is a commitment to a process that over time yields emotional literacy. 

Quotable Quotes: “Emotions are non-discretionary” “Everything about emotions is an interpretation” “Emotions are invisible to us “ “Huge proportion of our emotional identity is learnt” Emotions are that which put you in motion or want you to move” 


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. Newby, Dan., Watkins, Curtis. (2019) The field guide to emotions a practical orientation to 150 essential emotions. Available on Amazon & Kindle 
  2. Newby, Dan. Nunez, Lucy. (2017) The Unopened Gift: A primer in Emotional Literacy
  3. Newby, Dan. Nunez, Lucy. (2018) 21 days to Emotional Literacy: A companion workbook to the Unopened Gift. 
  4. Marshall Rosenberg founded the centre for non-violent communication 
  5. Rosenberg, Marshall B. (2003) Nonviolent Communication: A language of life 
  6. Gallup Employee Engagement Survey, 
Sep 15, 2019
A Conversation with Adrian Gostick on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: Adrian Gostick is a New York Times best-selling co-author of The Carrot Principle and All In, which are sold in more than fifty countries around the world. He is the cofounder of the global training firm The Culture Works, with a focus on Culture, Team Work and Engagement. As a leadership expert he has been called “fascinating” by Fortune Magazine and “creative and refreshing” by the New York Times. Gostick has appeared on NBC’s today show and on CNN and he is often quoted by the Economist, The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek. In addition, if you google the 30 Top Leadership Global Guru’s he is ranked number 3, behind Tony Robbins and in front of Simon Sinek. I was thrilled to host him on the Game of Teams Podcast Series. 


Podcast episode summary: This show illuminates the five disciplines Leaders need to deploy on teams for high performance. Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, NY times bestselling authors for their books “all in “and “the Carrot Principle “researched over 850,000 engagement surveys to determine just what is takes to drive performance and improve engagement in organisations. Adrian shared many vignettes and stories to reveal the new proven methods leaders can use to build productive teams despite the distractions and challenges every business is facing. Managers and Leaders need to embrace the “soft stuff”


The Five Disciplines revealed from the Book the Best Team Wins include: 


  1. Understand Generations–There are real differences in how generations like to be motivated that is perilous for leaders and organisations to ignore. 
  2. Manage to the One. This might sound counterintuitive to organisations and leaders that for ages have been treating people as the same. In today's world especially for Milllennials and for Generation Z they want to know that their motivations and needs are met. 
  3. Speed Productivity means helping teams and new people work faster and smarter
  4. Challenge Everything it is important the everyone has a voice and is able to inspire innovation through healthy discord. 
  5. Now, don’t forget your customer which is really about creating alignment around serving them. This breaks down silos and reminds people who the real customer is. 


Adrian described his work and the work The Culture Works is asked to do for organisations. He was quick to point out that there is a lot written on teams, work that is still very valid and relevant, but he and his co-author Chester Elton wanted to find out what was new and different given the VUCA & digitised world, we live. They wanted to understand how engagement could be improved on teams to drive productivity. He spoke to the five disciplines described above and how deceptively simply they seem on paper but how often they are not practiced in reality. He urged managers and leaders to be comfortable and intimate with the soft stuff. 


Adrian and Chester have just completed their latest book, a title on Gratitude in Business. They found some new science to show how a leader’s style can be improved by some very simple yet profound techniques. 


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. Gostick, A. Elton, A. The Best Team Wins 
  2. Gostick, A. Elton, C. The Carrot Principle
  3. Gostick, A. Elton, C. All In
  4. Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2018, citing the percentage of Millennials in the workforce. 
  5. Hackman, J.R. Leading Teams 
  6. Lencioni, P. The five dysfunctions of teams 
  7. Google's Project Aristotle, 5 keys to team Success 
  8. Edmondson, A. Teaming, Extreme Teaming, and the fearless organisation
Sep 01, 2019
A Conversation with Georgina Woudstra on the Game of Teams Podcast Series

Introduction: Georgina Woudstra is an ICF Master Certified Coach (only 1% of coaches are qualified to this level) and she specialises in chief executives and senior leadership. Georgina has more than 20 years’ experience and a proven track record coaching CEOs, executive boards and other senior individuals and top teams.Georgina has been described by clients as having “strong presence and credibility”, as being “experienced and wise” and a coach who “has extraordinary empathy” allowing her to be “challenging but gentle” This show and conversation reveals Georgina as she is found by clients. 


Podcast episode summary: In this episode Georgina Woudstra MCC, shares her thoughts on the world of teams, the challenges they face given our VUCA reality. She opines that leaders need to develop a more sophisticated model of Leadership whereby they can step back and pause & have the courage and presence to help their teams step back as well. Georgina goes onto expand on the role of Team Coaches, clarifying the distinction between Team Coaching and Team Facilitation. Her story illuminates that distinction with alacrity. There is of course a role for team facilitation but there needs a wiser alignment between the outcomes a team is seeking and the intervention chosen. 

  • Our VUCA world is real. It shows up in our being overstretched, reactive, under pressure where it is hard to pin down long term strategy and it contributes to our being filled with anxiety
  • Leaders need to cultivate a stance where they have the confidence and presence to pause and reflect rather than persist with blind devotion to a plan or pace of current business activity-they need to have confidence to create intentional interruptions 
  • Georgina would love for teams to be set up for success. This means the team being well designed 
  • Coaching and Team Coaching is a journey over time- often times Team Coaches get a distress call from a sponsor to help a team get unstuck. Too often Team Coaches are tempted to start to fix rather than contract for a better way. 
  • Georgina shared her approach to team coaching and the steps she takes in the initial engagement. This involves resisting urge to simply provide a half -day intervention but to influence for appropriate amount of time, to seek to influence Leadership and to understand the authority power dynamic on a team. 
  • She often aims to work with the team leader first to understand style, decision making and how accountability is honoured
  • Her quest is to determine who is responsible for the Coaching Journey
  • She urges Coaches to slow down & invest more time upfront in contracting phase
  • Team Coaching is about transitioning a team to take ownership for their outcomes and their process so that they absorb the team coaching over time. 
  • Georgina shared a story where her team coaching style, presence and the competencies involved in team coaching were evidenced. 
  • She emphasised the importance of a team coach cultivating their capacity to work in an emergent way, to work in the moment using team coaching competencies rather than in a pre-planned or pre-determined way. 
  • Important to work with team in its own context –context affects behaviour and often team away days are more of an abstraction. Hard for team to mine learning’s back in the day job. 
  • Georgina shared her 3 pieces of wisdom for Team Leaders and Team Coaches. She encouraged us to –
  1. Move from doing to being- drop our attraction to tools and models and instead cultivate a capacity to be present to what is. 
  2. Embody team- coaching competencies. Her studio has identified 15 different competencies that need to be fully integrated. 
  3. Practice-Practice-Practice 


  • Georgina ended our conversation sharing how she is enjoying the work of collaboration. She sees a world that is moving towards a greater degree of collaboration over competition, which she believes, is both powerful and graceful.

Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. International Coaching Federation 
  2. ITS 
  3. Executive Coach Studio 
  4. Georgina Woudstra 
Aug 15, 2019
A Conversation with Dr. Simon Western on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: Dr Simon Western is CEO of Analytic Network Coaching, Adjunct Professor University College Dublin and President International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organisations. Simon has international experience as an academic, leadership coach and strategic consultant. He delivers numerous keynotes on the topic of “New Leadership for new Times” He has authored 3 acclaimed books, Global Leadership Perspectives with Eric-Jean Gautier, Leadership a critical text (3rd Edition), and Coaching and Mentoring a Critical text, 2nd edition. Simon challenges conventional wisdom and offers insights into how leadership is changing in light of the digital age


Podcast episode summary: In this episode Simon speaks to the need for a more humanitarian approach to leadership remembering to put the Human at the heart of any project. He shares his analysis of Leadership and in particular the 4 discourses of leadership encountered over the last 100 years. The Eco-Leadership is necessary for our digitised and networked society and to address the many complex challenges we face today, such as Climate Change.


Noteworthy points of discussion

  • Simon adopts a very practical approach to his work. He considers himself an anthropologist in organisations looking and listening for what needs to emerge.
  • He adopts a critical questioning approach, informed by his understanding of Critical Theory, Networked Theory, Social Movement theory and Psychoanalysis.
  • Because of the frenetic pace of work and the demands made of us many people are struggling to find their authentic selves.
  • Simon supports clients to really “experience their experience” and his methodology can be described as a process of journeying through 5 Frames of analysis: The Depth Frame, The Relationship Frame, The Leadership Frame, The Networked Frame and finally the Strategic Frame. This approach disrupts people’s conventional way of doing things, too often rational, linear and flat.
  • Simon shared the evolution of leadership over the course of the last 100 years to comprise Four distinct discourses. These discourses include, The Controller Leadership discourse, which often dehumanises the workplace, the Therapist Leadership discourse, making work more democratic and looking at what motivates people to the Messiah Leadership discourse as a way of leading that asks for a transformational leader, someone who is visionary and can signal a purpose for the entity, that others follow to finally the last discourse called the ECO Leadership discourse. This discourse is a Meta theory, which is about getting the other three discourses in balance in an organisation.
  • Progressive leaders and organisations see the need for understanding Eco Leadership, they appreciate we are living in an Eco-System, a networked society but making the transition from the other leadership discourses is not easy. It is a mindset shift.
  • Often pressures on teams’ forces people inexorably back to the controller leadership discourse of the comfort of the Messiah and Therapist discourse. Important to hold the tension, to pause, reflect, question and look awry
  • We are not taught in a way to appreciate systems, to think spatially and to question. Our education system encourages individualism and siloed thinking.
  • We are experiencing a paradigm shift forced on us by digitisation and it is important for us to adapt, for Simon this means people need to put themselves into the world and not retreat, to “experience the experience “and to be real.
  • Curiosity is key.


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  2. Leadership a Critical Text (3rd Edition) 2018, by Western, Simon
  3. Coaching and Mentoring, a Critical Text (2nd Edition) by Western, Simon
  4. Global Leadership Perspectives, Western, Simon and Gautier, Eric-Jean, 2018
Aug 01, 2019
A Conversation with Dr. Paul Lawrence on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: Paul is a significant contributor in the fields of coaching, supervision, team coaching, systemic thinking and research. He has written 3 books and numerous articles and blogs. He lectures on the Masters of Business Coaching Program at Sydney Business School and presents regularly at conferences, workshops and webinars.  In 2018 he founded the Centre for Coaching in Organisations. In his spare time Paul writes “rather gory historical fiction”


Podcast episode summary: This particular episode with Dr Paul Lawrence illuminates the complexity and dynamic nature of teams and how teams are part of a nested system. Paul shared his wisdom and work with teams. He spoke about the importance of Dialogue and how dialogue is fundamental to change. Similarly he spoke about structural dynamics and how this thinking can be taught with teams to help the team see their engrained patters and importantly their stuck patterns. Team Coaching is still in its infancy and not to be confused with Team Building, Team facilitation or Consulting. Team coaches need to be robust enough and able to contain their own anxiety and help the team learn from the creative tension that is almost always present. This show was very honest and real where Paul communicated his passion and excitement for his work with teams.


Noteworthy points of discussion

  • Coaching as a discipline is still nascent and Team Coaching is in its infancy. Much confusion about around what it entails and how to distinguish it from Team Building/Team Facilitation and Team Consulting
  • Dialogue between practitioners is helpful to share what is most useful for teams
  • Dialogue is central to change and is at the heart of sustainable change. Change requires leaders adopt a mental model that is curious, respectful and without agenda-that is often challenging
  • Dialogue is simple to articulate more difficult to practice because it asks of Leaders to suspend judgment, be open to understanding others and to be hugely aware of their own internal biases.
  • Dialogue is not just about listening it is also about saying what needs to be shared in an open, honest and respectful manner and that is often tougher especially as you go higher up the organisation where power dynamics are at play.
  • Team Coaching is a tough gig. Team coaches need to be robust, able to hold anxiety and able to look for tension on the team. Tension is always there and if mined can provide real insight and learning
  • Structural Dynamics is a methodology that can empower the team to manage its own dynamics and stuck patterns. The 4 player model is described and demonstrates what is necessary in vital conversation but what is often missing
  • Contracting with the team and the team leader is imperative and will help understand what the real work is for a team.


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. Lawrence, P. (2014) Leading Change how successful leaders approach change management. Kogan Page. UK
  2. Lawrence, P. & Moore, A. (2018). Coaching in three dimensions. Meeting the challenges of a complex world. Routeledge .UK
  3. Lawrence, P. Hill, S. Priestland, A. Forrestal, C. Rommerts, F. Hyslop,L. & Manning,M. (2019), The Tao of Dialogue, Routeledge. UK
  4. Lawrence, P. Whyte, A. What do experienced team coaches do?
  6. Hawkins,P. Leadership Team Coaching and the five disciplines model
  7. Bohm, D. On Dialogue (1990), Amazon
  8. Kantor,D. Reading The Room, Amazon
Jul 01, 2019
A Conversation with Professor David Clutterbuck on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Professor David Clutterbuck is a scion in the field of coaching, mentoring, team coaching and research. He is one of Europe’s most prolific and well-known management writers and thinkers. He has written in excess of 70+ books and numerous articles and blogs. He is the co-founder of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council and is now a lifetime ambassador of the association. He is a visiting professor of the faculty of coaching and mentoring at Henley Business School, Sheffield Hallam, Oxford Brookes and York St. Johns Universities. I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak with him today and I hope you enjoy this episode on the Game of Teams Podcast series.  

This particular episode with Professor David Clutterbuck illuminates the systemic nature of teams and how teams are part of a nested system. The terrain is complex, often messy and fraught with issues like a team’s history, unspoken expectations, power dynamics, team dynamics and competing priorities and often a misguided sense of why the team is a team.

Professor David Clutterbuck shared many vignettes, ideas for engagement, a framework called Perill and his explanation of a powerful question hidden in an acronym called Prairie. David spoke to his passion for teams because they are so complex and replete with learning and also his passion for writing. He has just written a new book adding to his portfolio of 70+ books called A Practitioners Handbook of Team Coaching, which is launching in the last week of April. A must read for any team Leader/member/coach or practitioner wishing to support teams be great.

Noteworthy points of discussion

  • Stand-up comedy was by far the most scary thing David has every tried but he recognises that laughter is a huge remedy and can be helpful in providing the “fizz” and “buzz” on teams
  • He often asks of teams to tell him the most ridiculous positive thing that happened recently to connect people with their humanness and to improve the quality of conversations.
  • Important to see teams as a part of an ecosystem and to appreciate the complexity of the system of which teams are apart
  • Teams need to understand their history to know their future
  • Psychological safety is very closely linked to high performance
  • David Clutterbuck advises more time spent in upfront preparation and getting to know the team than in actual team coaching. Really important to appreciate the complexity of teams/the dynamics of interrelations not just within the team but also with their interfaces.
  • Many reasons to engage in team coaching. Conflict, A new Leader, Project teams needing to move faster and be a real team, working out interdependencies, all kinds of transitions, learning skills/process management and how to collaborate or dialogue effectively together.
  • Important too to get clear agreements between all parties to a team coaching engagement to understand expectations
  • Fundamental role of Team Coach is to be redundant over time, to get to a place where the team has absorbed the coaching process.
  • Learning is a critical dimension for teams. Top teams must be able to answer the question “Is this team adapting, evolving and changing at pace ahead of or at least abreast of pace of change around them?”
  • A team must work with a team development plan. What is the learning the team must achieve together to cope with their environment and to get at the performance required.
  • David Clutterbuck shared his PERILL Framework for teams. P stands for Purpose and Motivation, E stands for external relations and processes, R stands for relations, I stands for internal processes like decision making, L stands for learning and L stands for Leadership not the person but the 15 or so functions a leader needs to negotiate with the team to distribute effectively.
  • This model is inherently the first Complex Adaptive Systems thinking framework for teams.
  • Too often teams reach for the simple solution but David Clutterbuck explained the peril of this way of simplistic thinking. Teams needs to understand their system sufficiently well to put in place solutions and ways of working that are sustainable
  • The simple question “who are your stakeholders” is often a mystery to many teams
  • Other similarly provocative but helpful questions include “what is the unique contribution this team can make?” and “who would care if you were not hear?”
  • David explained his formula for powerful questions housed in the acronym Prairie. P is personal, R is resonating, A is acute, R is reverberating, I is innocent and E is explicit. The key is to ask short/sweet questions that are to the point with emotional impact.
  • David Clutterbuck spoke about endings in a team coaching and more specifically about his process with teams.
  • David reminded me that the team has to be responsible for their process.  He often asks and repeatedly asks two questions. 1. What is going on in this team right now and 2. What would you collectively like to do about it?
  • He ends when teams have absorbed the habit of coaching.


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. Clutterbuck, D. (2007) Coaching the team at Work.
  2. Clutterbuck, D. (2004) Everyone needs a Mentor
  3. Clutterbuck,D. (2013) Powerful Questions for Coaches and Mentors
  4. Clutterbuck,D. (2019) The Practitioners Handbook of Team Coaching

Jun 15, 2019
A Conversation with Neil Scotton on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Neil Scotton is an award winning Coach, Writer and Consultant and also a co-author of the acclaimed book “The little book of making big change happen” Neil is a Chartered Engineer, A fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, FRSA, an NLP Master Practitioner and a Professional Certified Coach (PCC with the ICF) In 2011 he founded the One Leadership Project with Dr. Alister Scott, an organisation that enables teams untangle complexity, unlock innovation, bring people together,  clarify strategy, provide structure, strengthen self belief by unleashing passion. They do this in a very real way.


This particular episode spoke to the human condition that craves connection and the need in people to connect with their world, communities, organisations or work places and themselves in a meaningful sense of oneness. Neil shared his own philosophy, his passion for human transformation and the conditions necessary to make big change happen. He shared that catalysts are those who make big change happen often greater than their job title says they should  because they surround themselves with 3 teams, a work team the doers, a support team often comprised of family and friends and a team of influencers. This episode is packed full of ideas, questions and Neil’s model the 5+1 for teams as well as a parting challenge. Listen and be inspired.


Noteworthy points of discussion

  • Neil made the journey from Chartered engineer working on building large Cryogenic plants and pressure systems to working on human transformational change. He described how his own epiphany on Leadership happened as a works engineer
  • Great leadership is not about being great but bringing the greatness out of others. We know this we simply forget.
  • Important to ask the right question not look for the solution
  • The one Leadership Project where big change happens focuses on cultivating a one-team mentality in a one organisation serving a one planet.
  • Important for Leaders to be at one with themselves. Part of the human condition is to be in pieces. Neil and Alister work at the relational level with all members of the team both as a collective & on an individual level.
  • Catalysts very often surround themselves by 3 teams, a doing team, a support team and an influencers team
  • Importance of engagement on teams. Often by asking the question “What do you stand for?” can yield energy and passion for the work. Organisations have to ask if there is anything standing in the way of people being able to think for themselves to enable the leader with-in
  • 5+1 model for team leadership means 1. Having a Purpose that is clear and compelling, and is connected to the teams everyday meetings, 2. How the team works together. Think about the John Adair Venn Diagram. How much time is focused on task, the team or the individual? 3. How are you engaging with others, your stakeholders? 4. Culture and how do we embody work? And 5. Results, are the  results the team is making connected to their stated purpose
  • More appreciation needed on teams to evoke flow and forward momentum. Think in terms of working beyond self. When teams can think beyond self great stuff happens
  • Important to reveal the team to itself, the dynamics but also the stuff that is going on. “What’s going on here” is a great question to help the team see their reality and get out of the trance of everyday stuff.
  • Neil shared practices that he and Alister routinely do on teams, pair work, reflective practices, ERA, Encouragement, Recognition and Reward helping people get good at giving and receiving appreciation.
  • Neil described the ways learning does not happen well in organisation and how their approach is integrative and often light touch.
  • Neil is impacted by our ecology and the world in which we live. He is keen to help share his thoughts on the systemic issues we are facing. His thought leadership piece for Coaching at Work will be headed Earthquake, Chasm and Puzzle.
  • Finally by way of an anecdote Neil shared how we are all human, wanting to be heard, to be safe and to give back. When you meet people in a human way everything changes.


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  2. The One Leadership Project
  3. Scotton, Neil and Scot, Dr. Alister, (2017) The little book of making big change happen


Jun 01, 2019
A Conversation with Donna Zajonc & David Emerald on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: David Emerald and Donna Zajonc are a husband and wife team and also business partners & founders of the Bainbridge Leadership Center. David is the author of the best selling book The Power of Ted and has recently published his second book called 3 vital questions, transforming workplace drama. Donna is a Master Certified Coach and together they teach, facilitate and speak to the power of TED and the 3 Vital Questions framework to transform workplace drama. 

Podcast episode summary: This episode describes what it means to be human and how we succumb to drama.  Stephen Karpman described a social model of human interaction called the drama triangle. As humans in reaction to problems we often jump onto the drama triangle and assume one of three roles, the Victim, Persecutor or Rescuer. The antidote is another triangle, called The Empowerment Dynamic or TED, which speaks to our inherent capacity to be creative. Three roles comprise TED, the Creator, Challenger and Coach. David’s next book Three Vital Questions is set in an organisational context and speaks to how we are thinking, relating and acting in our business, often informed by our way of being in our personal lives. TED can be described as a self-Leadership book and the 3 Vital Questions an answer to our Leadership and teamwork choices in work. David and Donna share the auspices of their books, the motivation behind the writing and share what each involves through the course of this episode. Each book is a very digestible fable that perhaps masks the inherent complexity and nuances behind the material. This is not a Pollyanna type answer to drama but a conscious consciousness and call for us to wake up to our patterns and begin to exercise choice. 

  • Donna and David liken themselves to translators condensing complex human conditions into digestible and applicable frameworks
  • David started by sharing our very essence is as creators. We have the capacity to be in choice about the outcomes we want, to think about how we are thinking and to raise our awareness about how we are relating to others and ourselves. We then create by taking baby steps. 
  • The core of what David and Donna teach is shifting from a set of relations/roles and dynamic in the dreaded drama triangle or DDT for short when we are in the dance of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer to a more empowering set of relations/roles or dynamic called TED. 
  • In order to develop our inherent capacity as creators we can cultivate the antidote roles of Creator, Challenger and Coach called TED. 
  • We have an internal DDT triangle and TED available to us as well as these roles in relation to others. 
  • A good start is to self diagnose how we relate to ourselves and then learn to pause, stop and allow for the whisperer creator to emerge. 
  • Do not be numb or seduced by the inherent simplicity of the models they belie a lot of unconscious unravelling and neurological wiring. The roles are dynamic but the triangles serve to depict a static depiction of dynamic reality. Once we can notice we have the capacity to shift and alter our operational models. 
  • These roles can be enacted by organisations in the culture they create, between sub-groups or functions and of course on teams as well. 
  • Donna shared a story of a team who once they understood the DDT and the choice to pursue TED they were able to first change the language on their website that was predominantly problem focused. 
  • The work moving from DDT to TED is not simplistic or “Pollyannaesque” The work is often beset with problems. The trick is to first outline what outcome/purpose/mission the team wants to achieve and then enumerate the problems to be encountered in service of an outcome
  • Problem-solving is still part of the work but the difference is we are not reacting to problems coming at us. 
  • The important role of Coach on TED. People are very able to tell you what they don't want but less able to articulate what they desire or really want. A Leader or leader as a coach can learn to help people get on the balcony and not be subject to persistent reactivity. 
  • Two different mindsets are explored in TED and 3 Vital Questions. The first is in a continuum of focus on problems. The second is an orientation towards outcomes supported by facilitation and enquiry to get at the creator essence in all of us. 
  • Not an easy step for many Leaders to become leaders as coaches, especially when we have been brought up in organisations were expertise is prised. 
  • 3 Vital questions are shared in a fable. 3 questions are supported by a subtext of questions to bring the TED framework to life. 
  • 1st Question: Where are you putting your focus? The subtext is whether your focus is on problems that evoke an inner state of anxiety or whether you are tapping into your passion and care that is outcome oriented. 
  • 2nd Question: How are you relating, which speaks to David’s first book TED. Are you relating from a problem mindset or an outcome mindset and from the archetype roles, which accompany, Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer or Creator, Challenger and Coach. 
  • 3rd Question: What actions are you taking with the subtext of in the moment problems or creative and generative actions in service of a bigger purpose. 
  • The work in teams and in organisational life is about awakening our inner observer. 
  • We have to be mindful that regression is part of the work-the question why can’t we do this all of the time requires compassion and an understanding that we are fallible human beings. 
  • Our neurology is organised in such a fashion that we are wired, not hard-wired, to keep ourselves safe. This explains why the DDT is live in all of us. 
  • Our work is to upgrade our human operating system
  • It is also worthy to note that the DDT roles are not always bad or unhelpful sometimes they are needed but the idea is not to stay in them. 
  • Conscious consciousness is required along with practice. 


Quotable Quotes: “We are always at a point of choice” “Our essence is as Creators” “When we pause, stop and breath, the whisper of Creator, Challenger and Coach can rise” “Value of model of DDT and TED is static depiction of a dynamic reality”  “Get to the balcony and not in subject to persistent reactivity” “Compassion is fuel for upgrading our Neurology” 


Resources: the following includes the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation


  1. The Power of Ted,, 
  2. 3 Vital Questions,
  3. Subscribe to Free Friday Newsletter on both websites
  4. Books available in Print through Amazon, Audible and as an e-book on Kindle also on Amazon
May 15, 2019
A Conversation with Cara Farrelly on the Game of Teams Podcast serie

Introduction: Cara Farrelly leads the Vodafone Supply Chain Operations teams across New Zealand, Portugal, Ireland, Greece Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Albania, Malta and London. She is credited as a highly committed leader with an inherent ability to establish highly respected relationships with both internal and external stakeholders.  This episode demonstrates her attention and care. She is passionate about people and about cultivating inclusive cultures and connected communities that support and challenge each other to achieve exceptional results. She is also a soccer Mum. Her son Gavin Bazunu aged 17 has been signed to Manchester City from Shamrock Rovers here in Ireland. She is extremely proud of Gavin and Todd her sons who mean the world to her. 

Podcast episode summary: This episode is about Leadership and team leadership. Cara spoke about her career trajectory and how certain people had an incredible influence on her ability to lead. She learnt early on that “vulnerability can be your strength”. She cites the importance of trust on teams but also a leaders ability to be vulnerable. She wishes she could have been braver sooner to allow herself to show up and lean into her various roles.  

  • Sports teams can help organisational teams think about team spirit and the importance of understanding each other for strengths. 
  • Trust is essential and trust between members augers well for future performance 
  • Cara’s role is as leader as coach she believes it important to give people space & bandwidth to allow team members to learn and innovate. 
  • Some leadership myths we can bust: Leaders do not need to know all the answers, coaching is probably better than telling, Organisations are not looking for a particular type, you can be yourself at work
  • The best way to control is to give it away!
  • Launch well. Cara’s team of 10 countries came together to divine a collective purpose and to work out how to work together. This launch ignited their passion to work together
  • In addition they have weekly huddles where everyone is visible, present and engaged. 
  • Care & Kindness are two qualities Cara believes to be important. Listening is an important skill to allow people to really show up –it also supports mental well being when people can talk to their concerns. 
  • AAR, after action reviews which is a process from the US army, really helps the teams to learn together
  • Not everyone can survive on a team and it is important to help people be with their limitations and not let them suffer in silence. Important too to call out early what is not working 
  • Dysfunction on teams is partly to do with not knowing how to work together. Competition and suspicion can erode a team’s confidence. Having a collective or common goal and building trust are just two ways of mitigating dysfunction. 
  • Teams at Vodafone are being asked to work in an agile way, to work across boundaries and to partner over the entire ecosystem. This means teaming well. 
  • Cara and her team have invested time to get experiential and learn together in ways that are not usual but allow the team to see each other away from the day to day or the office. 
  • Cara’s own coach training is supporting her learn the need for structure and also the importance of climate in a coaching relationship. For her coaching is about forwarding the action and deepening the learning. 
  • Cara ended by reminding others and me that her purpose is to help others. 

Quotable Quotes: “Vulnerability is your strength” “best way to control is to give it away” “Care & Kindness is important for leaders” “Competition is not inside the team” “forward the action and deepen the learning” 


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  • a coach training course run by June Duffy 
May 02, 2019
A Conversation with Professor Peter Hawkins on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: This show illuminates the challenges facing leaders and teams as they move further into the 21st century. The challenge becomes how do we work with the future and how to we work in systems. Professor Peter Hawkins shares his research and argues the case for a revolution in how we think about teams, how we think about Leadership and how we operate as Team Coaches. Professor Peter Hawkins is a professor of leadership at Henley Business School, Visiting Professor University of Bath, and the University of Oxford Brookes and Chairman of Renewal Associates.  He is a leading consultant, coach, writer and researcher in organisational strategy, leadership, Culture change and team and board development. He is a prolific writer and author of many best selling books and papers in the fields of Board and Team Coaching, Leadership and Change. His books include Leadership team Coaching (3rd Edition), Leadership Team Coaching in Practice and Coaching, Mentoring, and Organisational Consultancy a book he co-authored with Nick Smith.  


Podcast episode summary: This conversation started by talking about eldership, beyond leadership and how we enable others. He spoke about how important and critical it is for teams to think in terms of collective leadership. He opined that Leadership development is still stuck in the 20th-century building 20th-century leaders rather than 21st century Leadership. Heroic Leadership is dead long live the team is one of the many articles we discussed to shape a conversation around the need for collective leadership. 


Noteworthy points of discussion

  • The days of the CEO being the only point of contact with the various interfaces of the organisation are over –it is a collective job
  • In the next five years, organisations are going to be employing fewer people, but the number of people they are partnering with will increase – how to get at collective leadership across boundaries? 
  • Increasingly leadership is moving away from how to lead “my team”, “my function”, “My organisation” and more about how to partner well
  • Brexit is an example of doing it wrong- How PM May spent two years in a win/lose framed argument asking the wrong question
  • MIndset  change required to think in terms of living on multiple teams simultaneously 100% of the time
  • All challenges lie in the connections between interfaces and not in the parts
  • The Pace of Change is such that strategizing and managing changes is a perpetual process
  • It is the purpose that creates a team and not the team creating a purpose
  • Teams must ask “what can we uniquely do that the world of tomorrow needs?”


Peter described his model: The 5 Disciplines of successful Team Practice

  • Discipline OneCo-Missioning: Ensuring a clear commission for the team and contracting on what it must deliver-The WHY
  • Discipline Two- Clarity: What can the team do together that is added value in service of the declared purpose. Here the team articulates clear team KPI’s, Objectives & Roles –The WHAT
  • Discipline Three-Co-creating: - How the team will be together, team agreements, norms etc. 
  • Discipline Four- Connecting: Engaging with all stakeholders
  • Discipline Five- Core Learning: Building individual and collective capacity to be future fit. 


Several case studies and clients were referenced in this episode where Professor Peter Hawkins described his approach to working with Executive Teams and Boards and their nested systems.  


There needs to be a revolution in coaching and as team coaches, we need to “get out of the closet” and stop thinking with the boundaries of the team. 


Resources: the following includes the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. Hawkins,P. (2017) Leadership Team Coaching, Developing Collective Transformational Leadership Kogan Page 
  3. Hawlins,P. Leadership Team Coaching in Practice 2nd edition, Kogan Page
  4. Hawkins,P., & Smith,N. (2013) Coaching, Mentoring and Organisational Consultancy; Maidenhead, Open Press University
  5. Hawkins,P. Creating a Coaching Culture. Maindenhead, Open Press University
  6. Youtube video about  the Five Disciplines
  7. Systemic Team Coach Training Diploma Training Program with the AoEC: 
  8. Hawkins,P. Beyond the heroic CEO, an article written for Henley Business School, 
Apr 16, 2019
A Conversation with Bob Dunham on the Game of Teams Podcast series

A Conversation with Bob Dunham on the Game of Teams Podcast series 


Introduction: Bob Dunham is the founder of the Institute for Generative Leadership based in Colorado. The Institute delivers Leadership development programs and resources designed to enable leaders business owners, managers and professional coaches take their performance and the performance of their teams and organisation to the next level. Bob is the co-author of the book The Innovator’s Way, the Essential Practices for Successful Innovation, which he wrote with Dr Peter Denning.  

Podcast episode summary: This episode describes what it means to be human and what it means to practice being a Leader and Team member in organisational life today. Bob discusses the important distinctions he learnt in his quest at Motorola to get at Performance. He shares his ideas on Generative Leadership and discussed questions like what is action? He reminds us that Leadership and teamwork is a performance art and that art is housed in conversations. To be congruent we need to develop skills and practices that support committed conversations. Bob illuminates 5 blind spots that I suspect most of us suffer in one form or another. This episode is a must listen if you want greater satisfaction and results on teams.  

  • Every culture has its history, stories, behaviours & patterns and every culture has its blind spots. In our culture, one of our blind spots is that we think we know what action is and we think we know what a human being is and we might even think we know what a team is but when we ask more deeply there is confusion. 
  • Bob shares his own story at Motorola and the quest to get at excellence. 
  • On a course called communication for action, Bob was asked -what is action? He Learnt that we don't have a clear operational, shared interpretation of what action is. The first blind spot. 
  • Commitments are made in conversation. Commitments are made in language and yet curiously we often labour the idea that conversations are a waste of time. Commitments are acts, acts we do in language that evoke commitment. Acts of requests, promises, offers, assessments, assertions and declarations. 
  • All results come from prior conversations. Generative Leadership is leadership held in conversations that are observable, executable and learnable that gets at commitment. 
  • Leadership is about getting at a shared promise that we can all trust and people can really own. Get real about the power of conversations, be in a culture that values conversational excellence. Reframe what it means to be in a meeting. It is the conversation stupid!
  • This means becoming aware of our bodies, our fears, and hesitations, contractions that are internal states that are the edge of learning for leadership. To wit befriend emotions, they are precursors to action. 
  • Anything non-trivial will have changes and breakdowns and team members need to navigate conversations that are honest, maybe fearful but open. 
  • Generative Leadership is a leadership discipline that takes leaders into new territory, the body, emotions, habits and triggered tendencies. The learning & practising to support Generative Leadership is deep but transformational 
  • At the Institute for Generative Leadership, the programs speak to a list of blind spots Leaders suffer. For this show, 5 Blind Spots were enumerated. 1. Our culture really does not have a good definition of action. 2. Our culture teaches us that learning is understanding.  Learning is an embodies practice in performance art- you are your practice 3. The question of what is a human being is a blind spot. 4. Choice, people live like they do not have choices. 5. What is a good life? 

Quotable Quotes: “it is the conversation stupid!” “Conversations are not just words they are full body contact sports”  “Hope is s positive irresponsibility” “ Emotions are a predisposition to action” 


Resources: the following includes the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

Apr 01, 2019
A Conversation with Dr. Ruth Wageman on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: This show illuminates the conditions that are necessary for Team Effectiveness and discusses the nature of Authority Structures. Ruth Wageman is one of the foremost scholars and practitioners studying and working with teams, mostly senior leadership teams. She is the co-author of the book Senior Leadership Teams, what it takes to make them great. She designed the Team Diagnostic Survey with the late Richard Hackman and Erin Lehman. This is a powerful assessment that measures team effectiveness against the 6 conditions Ruth described on this podcast. Ruth is undoubtedly an authority on the work of teams and I was delighted as a fellow team coach to have her as a guest on my show. 

Podcast episode summary: This conversation started by talking about collaboration and how important and critical it is for teams today. Most members want to collaborate and find they are stymied not by their behaviours, focus on their particular silos and or interpersonal relations but more because of a lack of attention to the structure and design of the team. 

Ruth described 3 essentials and 3 enablers that comprise the critical components for team success. 

  • Real Team –The need for the team to be bounded, stable and interdependent
  • Compelling Team Purpose- where the purpose is clear, compelling and consequential 
  • Right People- with the right mix of capabilities and diverse thinking to deliver on their purpose
  • Sound Structure- a small number of people, explicit norms of behaviour and a few critical team tasks that only this team can complete together. 
  • Supportive Context- Where the team has the requisite resources, information in an accessible manner and appropriate materials and training to support their endeavour 
  • Team Coaching- Someone or some people who manage the process of the team 

Over the course of the conversation, we opined how tough it is to not trip over some real power dynamics or power authority structures that exist on teams. There are often mixed expectations over the extent of responsibility Leader shoulders or team members share. Team Coaches, especially external team coaches can be blind to their beliefs about shared responsibility and risk the very real chance of alienating the team leader or Chief Executive holding authority. 

Ruth discussed her passion for working with teams real self- governing teams, whose power and authority is distributed and who exist to solve complex wicked problems that have real consequence in the world. She described working in systems such as healthcare, business and social services whose purpose it is to transform their ecosystems for societal benefit. 

Quotable quotes: Ruth recommended that teams be mindful to create “norms with bite”. 

Resources: the following includes the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. Senior Leadership Teams, what it takes to make them great by Ruth Wageman, Debra A. Nunes, James A. Burrus and J.Richard Hackman
  2. The Team Diagnostic Survey by Ruth Wageman, J. Richard Hackman and Erin Lehaman
  3. Who’s in charge here? The Team Leadership Implications of Authority Structure, by Ruth Wageman and Colin Fisher
  4. An article was written by Ruth Wageman and Krister Lowe on Authority Structures and teams
Mar 19, 2019
A Conversation with Jeff Turner on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: Jeff Turner is International Director for Facebook working in Dublin, Ireland. He has spent over 20 years in L&D knowing that to be his professional home. He has worked for a number of organisations including Lloyds Bank, BOI, AOL and O2.  He holds a Masters in Performance Management from Leicester University. He has spent the last eight or more years working with Facebook. This conversation illuminated Jeff’s passion for Learning and for making an impact. Facebook’s core philosophy internally is to connect those who have something to teach with those who are ready to learn, making learning Just in time, just enough and right for the receiver.  Jeff discussed Facebook’s values, Focus on impact, Move fast, be open and build social value. These values give freedom and authenticity to team members and leaders. 

Podcast episode summary: This episode describes the role assumed by L&D professionals and their approach to team development at Facebook. It also shares the research conducted by Facebook of 24 Teams across EMEA  showcasing the most pertinent qualities/characteristics of high performing teams. The research team along with the support of Professor David Clutterbuck discovered eight characteristics, which were described in the show. The following bullets highlight the conversation elements of this important episode. 

  • Change is a constant, people need to be out of their comfort zones to learn and have an impact- his question “when was the last time you volunteered to go outside of your comfort zone? 
  • Teams are complex adaptive systems a pattern illuminated by David Clutterbuck consultant to Facebook. Understanding this concept can help teams be more connected and productive 
  • There is a big difference between team facilitation and one off interventions and team development. Jeff and his team focus on the latter to support teams
  • There needs to be a modicum of tension for the team to get any real value from an interventionist approach. “the truth lies in the tension” 
  • Jeff and his team understand and appreciate that in order to be of any value they need to be willing to be fired to do Team Development. 
  • Jeff is cognisant of the degree of change his teams face and is mindful that some team development methodologies are too linear to be meaningful. 
  • He sees team development to a process of working with the team over 3-12 months and not a one off workshop or intervention
  • Facebook conducted significant research on their HPTs ( High Performing Teams) with the help of Professor David Clutterbuck. He helped Facebook decode the essence of teams and determine their  “secret sauce” He named 8 distinct qualities that support success and performance. 
  • He likened the 8 to a wheel with 7 spokes and a leaders confidence at the centre.  The seven spokes include, Hiring the right people, managers and leaders setting goals at the right level, a positive view of failure, working to individual strengths, Trust that teams mean to deliver, change is like breathing, Enjoyment for the work and the people and finally confidence of the leader. 
  • Facebook does use a diagnostic for teams focusing on 3components, Purpose, People and Practices. 
  • Not all teams can access the service provided by L&D which is why they have developed a sort of self service offering a diagnostic and exercises as well as a repository online
  • The L&D team at Facebook have developed their expertise to support teams, they use their weekly meetings as places for supervision and learning together. 


Quotable Quotes: “You have to be willing to be fired to do Team Development at FB” 

“The truth lies in the tension” “Change is like breathing” 


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux. 
Mar 19, 2019
A Conversation with Fiona Carney on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: Fiona Carney is a Senior Director of Business Operations for Asia at Microsoft. Her background is in Consulting, where she worked with KPMG and Accenture in Business Strategy and Change Management for over 10 years. In 2007, Fiona joined Microsoft and has worked in numerous roles and led functions of the business- including Customer Experience, Sales, Operations and Account Management. She has worked with Microsoft partners for her entire career at Microsoft in EMEA and globally. Currently, she leads a large cross-functional organization supporting the business in Asia. Fiona sits on the Diversity & Inclusion Council for APAC and is passionate about the development of people and ensuring a diverse workforce.

Podcast episode summary: This episode covers Fiona’s passion for teams, for people development, technology and the impact it can make on society as a whole. Fiona discussed her recent Master's program where she researched resilience and the impact of group coaching on resilience. In addition, she shared her insights on what it takes to get at team performance citing the importance of leveraging peoples strengths, giving and being clear about purpose and mission, listening and looking for bright spots, having a shared context that is understood and remembering that behaviours are contagious. The following comprise the summarised bullet s of our conversation


  • Resilience is important in a world that is global, challenging, ambiguous and ever-changing
  • In terms of building, teams start with strengths-Microsoft use Strengths Finder –leaders need to be able to look under the “Iceberg” and understand what motivates their people
  • Not everything is governed by processes encourage people to seek clarity & link that back to your team's purpose 
  • Encourage your team's effort to look for “bright spots” places where best practice is exhibited
  • Shared context is essential-what are we trying to achieve together, how do our roles need to adapt, how can we make each other succeed in that effort
  • Psychological safety is important to get at the trust and to enable risk-taking and learning. Simple to say hard to make happen
  • Role modelling is an important component of Leadership-model the behaviours you seek to see happen
  • Understand people and their cultural differences –Fiona describes her best team experience where a team of global experts were thrown together on a critical issue with wide stakeholder impact.  Their success was predicated on investing in time together, forming quickly and relinquishing the need to be right or precious, size of team was small and the mindset they adopted allowed for trade-offs to be made easily
  • Microsoft has been going through its own cultural transformation and a lot of work has gone on to make their three values come to life, Energy, Passion and Success. A big focus is on having a growth mindset – where people can fail fast, learn and be empowered
  • Fiona is very interested in learning more about psychodynamics or the currents that flow beneath a team. She is reading books by Manfred Kets De Vries. 
  • Artificial Intelligence is really big and Fiona’s interest is in helping people be with that change and be relevant 
  • Fiona summarised by saying that Leaders of teams need to listen, provide a shared context, break things down into manageable meaningful goals, help people to look for “bright spots” and remember that behaviours are contagious. 


Quotable Quotes: “shared context is important” “safety, belonging and mattering” “Energy, Clarity and Success- 3 Microsoft values easy to grasp, easy to remember and easy to role model” 


Resources: the following includes the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. Strengths Finder by Gallup 
  2. Psychological Safety and Amy Edmonson 
  3. The hedgehog affect and The Leadership Mystique by Mandfred Kets De Vries 
Mar 19, 2019
A Conversation with Dr John Krister Lowe on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: Dr Krister Lowe is an organisational psychologist, team coach and creator of the team coaching zone podcast. Krister is a specialist in team coaching and his passion is working with teams of teams and on enterprise level coaching. This episode discusses how important teams are in the 21st century in dealing with some of the societies wicked problems. Collaboration of an order we have yet to witness is key. Krister laments how we are not well versed in Teaming skills and many of us have never really operated on a real team. The episode goes on to discuss how teams can help themselves perform well together by emphasising the structure and design of a team as well as the discipline & focus required for sustainability.  There are many ways to access potential on teams and Krister is not afraid to work with embodied techniques, our many intelligences, agile techniques and of course psychological safety as the bedrock norm for innovation and performance. 


Podcast episode summary: 

  • 60-30-10 Rule means doing significant pre-work on the part of the Leader to determine the team's purpose and the right people to support that purpose and after and quickly allowing for a team launch before a teams culture gets too enmeshed and finally doing some light tweaks to support the team stay on course or course correct as appropriate 
  • Most teams are not designed well. Krister really appreciates the Agile philosophy and believes in its efficacy for most teams especially in a world where we need more distributed leadership 
  • Agile can support Leadership teams as well using meetings more productively helping the team mine the wisdom of the team members, doing real work together as opposed to presenting information that wastes time and depletes energy
  • Using psychological safety and agile to get at faster thinking and acting –Krister describes our five intelligences and how often we overuse our analytical problem solving and consensus building rituals over the use of other forms of information and knowledge sources such as the body, our gut, heart and groin as the seat of our passion. 
  • Krister shared a story where he used his own emotional intelligence to access what was really going on a for a team in the moment, this noticing enabled the team to speak to their loss and then move into action with greater degrees of energy
  • Krister described his work working on teams of teams and the power of 5 teams being in the room together to get at synergies and interdependencies understanding the nested nature of their system 
  • Krister helps leaders move along the leadership continuum from Team Manager, through Leader of strategy and orchestration to the Leader as coach. 
  • Some nuggets: 

-Double down on team design

-Get at & focus on a few mission-critical goals 

-Have a good Team Launch

-Practice together over time  

Quotable Quotes: 

“Structure drives behaviour and culture” Krister Lowe

“Most teams are not designed well” Krister Lowe

“I have no question that when you have a team the possibility exists that it will generate magic producing something extraordinary, but don't count on it” Richard Hackman

Plans are useless but planning is indispensable” Eisenhower


Resources: the following includes the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. 2018 Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte report.  
  2. Senior Leadership Teams, Ruth Wageman, Richard Hackman, Debra Nunes & James Burruss
  3. The Team Coaching Zone Podcast 
  4. The Team Coaching Zone website 
Mar 19, 2019
A Conversation with Fin Goulding on the Game of Teams Podcast series

Introduction: This episode showcases some practices & principles that support teams be agile and adopt Flow principles in the digital world.  Fin Goulding is an expert in business and technical agility having worked as a CIO or CTO in some major organisations like Aviva, PaddyPowerBetfair,, HSBC and Travelocity. Fin is the co-founder of Flow Academy with Haydn Shaughnessy and has co-authored two books, Flow and 12 steps to Flow. Flow is a book for changemakers, mavericks and innovators. It demystifies the business of digital transformation. Fin is a prolific blogger, public speaker and social media enthusiast. He is also a keen marathoner. 

Podcast episode summary: This conversation spoke to the work Fin now does in helping teams and organisations navigate digital transformation.  Fin described the essence of his book, Flow, which is really a metaphor for work and how it should be, frictionless.  Fin shared how people can be with change through visualisation techniques, stand-ups and the like where meaningful work and outcomes are discussed rather than problems. He admitted to stumbling across Agile and how it now informs so much of his thinking regarding Leadership, Teams and the business of providing value for clients. 


  • Fin is not just an IT geek but a cultural expert in terms of business and technical agility, he is also a keen motivator and communicator 
  • His work concerns people and how they could work together and collaborate better across teams-its all about improving the way people work together to get at better outcomes for clients. 
  • Leadership can be a misnomer especially when teams are self-managing, Leaders need to find their purpose and place with teams 
  • The best teams forget hierarchies and find ways to work together to get the work done 
  • Toxic members can sabotage team performance and the Leader can support the person or individual do their best work elsewhere. 
  • Get good at working outside of your job description, think broad as well as deep
  • Respect diversity and look to hire for diversity 
  • Often getting at team performance means unlearning  and learning to be open to new ideas and ways of working 
  • A leader needs to create the conditions for psychological safety which for Fin is about being genuine, humble and about telling stories
  • He encourages team members to continually learn, to listen to things like podcasts to widen their perspectives. It is important to continuously learn
  • Don't be a Vampire, the kind of leader who sucks the energy out of a team
  • Finally, Fin shared some nuggets for listeners to consider –Employ visualisation techniques, find your purpose and work to identify your values and strengths to be best deployed on a team


Quotable Quotes: “helping people do their best work elsewhere” “As a Leader don't be a Vampire, sucking the energy out of a team”


Resources: the following includes the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. Flow, by Fin Goulding and Hayden Shaughnessy 
  2. Designing your life; how to build a well-lived joyful life which applies design thinking to the most pernicious of life’s problems by Bill Burnet and Dave Evans 
  3. Lean Enterprise by Barry O Reilly 
  4. Teaming by Amy Edmonson 
  5. FGoulding on Linkedin and Twitter 
  6. for Fin’s blog
Mar 19, 2019
The case for Team learning

Introduction: I am now trading as a Team Coach and Leadership Coach in Dublin Ireland. I haven’t always been a coach and in fact have had three distinct careers. I started life out as an Investment Banker screaming for the best deals, morphed into becoming a Head Hunter and in 2006 I studied to learn how to be a coach, what I now see as my passion & career. This podcast series is to my mind an important contribution to the practice of “Teaming” I am hoping that this series helps Leaders and team members or anyone supporting teams to develop gain massive traction on the things that matter most to them from the insights and wisdom shared over these series of conversations.  That is my purpose. 


Podcast episode summary: This Launch episode serves to orient the listener on what the show is about, why I believe it is important and the kinds of conversations I hope to have with invited guests. The show also speaks to the flow of the conversation leaving the listener with some practical takeaways and nuggets they can apply for affect. This episode is designed to give you the listener an insight into me your Podcast host. You can also visit my own website if you are keen to know more at The following comprise a rough summary of what I shared on this launch episode 


  • Welcome to the show by me Tara Nolan, Team and Leadership Coach
  • My professional career spanning 30 years where I have been an Investment Banker, Head Hunter and now Top Team Coach and Leadership Coach
  • My experience working on 2 fabulous teams and also a woeful team where I existed only to survive
  • My business case for putting out a show of this nature. I see the world as VUCA-volatile uncertain, constantly changing and ambiguous. This is a tough place for many. How to navigate and still be productive 
  • Our wicked problems such as Healthcare, Climate Change, Homelessness and loneliness are real concerns and need to be solved by teams who can collaborate
  • Over the last 100 years we have gotten very used to working in hierarchies and used to working up and down that construct. We are less good at teaming. 
  • Many have not worked on a real team or understand what that means.
  • I want to create a learning lab where people can listen to my podcasts and glean pertinent information to help their team life be more fun, engaging and productive
  • I want my guests to share real stories. I want my listeners to be in a conversation with a leader a leader who has worked through the same challenges and whilst their context is different the listener can leave the call with some pertinent nuggets and some inspiration
  • This is a podcast designed to reveal the secrets to increased performance on teams, increased innovation and emotional engagement 
  • This is a podcast where Leaders and practitioners can share their methodologies, models or frameworks that helped development 
  • Each episode will start with an introduction by me, a discussion of my guest’s backstory and then dive into their experience working with or on teams. I will attempt to glean real stories and to ask for real nuggets and perhaps a pertinent book or topic that they find interesting.
  • My aim is to build a repository of great wisdom in a digestible format so that leaders and team members do not have to be blind to the work it takes to build great teams. 
  • Here is what I would love to cover, the basics, design and structure to support teams, types of teams, Assessments, models and frameworks that can be used for teams, psychological safety and what it means for teams, systems thinking, mindfulness, team dynamics, team coaching and toxicity on teams. 


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

Mar 14, 2019