For New Leaders


For anyone new into a leadership role or for anyone who has taken over the leadership role of a new team taking the time out to build up a pen picture of each team member is a good first step.

One suggested approach is to create a grid with team members name down the vertical access in the first column and then create a number of other columns across the page where you can note useful information that can help you flex your leadership style in order to get the most out if the individual. Effective leaders have the ability to adjust their approach and leadership style regularly to adapt it to differing situations and the unique differences of team members. Firstly however you need to understand these unique differences and this grid exercise is a way of doing this?

The sort of information that could be useful for the new leader to collect in a systematic way would be

  •  Personality preferences eg Myers Briggs extrovert/introvert sensing/intuitive/ feeling/thinking judging/ perceiving .
  • Motivational and de-motivational indicators for each person
  • Development level eg their current way of working from dependent to interdependent
  • Have they got a clearly defined and understood job description
  • Key objectives
  • Key areas of development
  • Any other useful misc notes

If this grid is compiled and used as a management tool it is useful as a “My Team on a Page ” part of your leadership tool kit . It  can be a useful refresher prior to 1-1 discussions.

Another useful activity to schedule with each team member in the initial few weeks is to allow them un- interrupted time to talk about their personal goals long and short term, for them to share how they prefer to receive feedback and also how happy they are with their current personal development plan. Are they in need of more challenge or more support in their current role. How can you as the new leader be helpful for them.

By taking a genuine interest in what makes each person tick and also how things are currently working out through their eyes it will let them know that you care about them all individually.

Armed with all the above information it will not only allow you to adjust your leadership style accordingly it will also help you understand which developmental opportunities are best suited to which individual in your team. As an effective leader the development and growth of your team should be a key objective.


Sandra works with both businesses and private clients as a coach and trainer. She is also author of the book Own It – regain control and live life on your terms. More information can be found at or 



Taking The Lead In Adapting


Adapting behaviours in order to build better relationships with others is a subject that regularly comes up in both the coaching work I do and also the training workshops.

Regardless of the originating subject matter the topics of relationship building or improving communication between specific individuals is routinely discussed as one of the challenges faced by people in and outside of work regardless of age, gender, sector or situation.

So why is it we often need to take the lead and adapt our approach to improve our interaction with others?

  •  The first thing to realise is that, unless the other individual has done a lot of self-development work in the area of understanding and respecting the individual differences, we can’t rely on the other person in the equation to change or try a different approach
  • If they do then great but we have to assume the adaptation has to be down to us.
  • The second thing after realising some changes are necessary is that you have to WANT to experiment with a different approach and you have to WANT to try and improve the relationship. If this isn’t genuine then any adaptation from your standpoint might come across as false or inauthentic.
  • The third thing is be prepared to experiment with a few different approaches until you find one that works. It helps if there is a strong reason as to why you want to improve the communication or relationship so that the persistence in trying a few times or with a few different techniques is worth the effort in the long run.
  • Try looking at any situation through the eyes of the person you are trying to improve the relationship with. If you were them what might you be thinking, what would you want to change?

I have seen many times relationships between two parties that initially have been very strained and difficult move to a completely different harmonious level once one person has taken the initiative to either be very brave and confront the situation with a very honest and open discussion or tried a different approach (often a few) until a breakthrough was achieved. Often having worked through this initial difficult beginning strong partnerships are forged with much greater appreciation of the differences each party brings to the relationship.


Sandra works as a coach in businesses and with private clients. For more information look at

Being Brave


Anyone who likes inspirational quotes will be familiar with the one that encourages us to always push the boundaries and move outside our comfort zone. Why is this a concept important for us to consider in terms of developing a mindset of high performance in either ourselves.

High performing teams or individuals are always adapting to change, evolving and looking to deliver more. Growth comes from exposing ourselves to different situations, learning new skills or behaviours and the personal satisfaction of achieving new things. This is where the concept of pushing the boundaries and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable links in.

The easy and safe option is to carry on in the comfortable world we are already in however anyone who is interested in high performance knows that staying in this zone isn’t good for our personal growth.

When people set themselves goals an easy trap to fall into is to set targets that they know are well within their capability. The good thing about this is that it won’t take a lot of effort to tick the box and achieve these goals, the downside of this approach is there maybe a niggling doubt when you get there that it wasn’t that difficult so the sense of personal satisfaction isn’t that high.

Taking the being braver, high performance route would mean that when setting yourself or your team goals then more risk should be taken. The goals should be a lot more stretching or “ scary” as I suggest in my book Own It . In the goal setting Chapter I suggest that we all need a scary goal, one that makes us feel uncomfortable, one that is definitely outside of our comfort zone, in that by just thinking about it there is a slight feeling inside that means we are not 100% sure this is something we want to push ourselves to do. This is where the personal growth and reward comes when we set ourselves such a goal and then actually achieve it, a brilliant feeling.

So do you have a scary goal at the moment? If you haven’t got one start thinking what could it be then define clearly, tell the world and go for it.


Sandra works as a coach for both businesses and private clients, find out more at

Persistence & Accountability


So how are you doing with all those good intentions, resolutions, goals or new habits that you decided to commit to at the beginning of the year?

If I look at myself then I would say I am doing better with some than others, there are certain actions that are proving more difficult to embed as habits than others. When I work with both business and private clients keeping the momentum going over a long period of time and working out how to embed certain behaviours or habits that the individual wants to work on is by far the hardest part of the change process.

So let’s take a work example to illustrate a couple of things that can help embed new ways of improving or creating new actions moving forwards:

 A leader I have been working with for several months was struggling to commit her time to holding regular Team Meetings and hold monthly 1-1,s with her direct reports. She had had various attempts at putting the meetings in the diary and had also managed to keep the momentum going with a few meetings but it never lasted more than a couple of months. She began to think it didn’t matter as she sat quite close to the people they all chatted every day and they were having the occasional meeting. Deep down however she knew that the regular pattern she had originally set out to achieve hadn’t been embedded to become routine practice plus the fact that these two activities in my view (as her coach) were key to maintaining individuals motivation, aiding consistent communication and managing performance issues. It took a couple of events to refocus the leaders attention back to the important “why” did she want to work on improving this area in the first place. The two events were a high performing member of the team handed in her notice as she felt she wasn’t been challenged or developed enough in the role plus in the end of year appraisal feedback the Team commented that they often didn’t know what was going on in other areas of the business. When we discussed both of theses events at a coaching discussion it was clear that if the regular 1-1’s had been happening with everyone and team meetings were a given part of daily operations then these two events might not have occurred.

 So this illustration shows there has to be a solid reason behind why you want to embed new behaviours or change the way you do things.

 Ask yourself the question for anything you intended to do at the beginning of 2018 what was your “why” was it strong enough? Is it still there?

 Also who are you accountable ? It really helps if you share what you would like to work on with someone else and ask them to be your accountability buddy until the new habit or action becomes embedded in your routine.

Sandra works as a coach to both businesses and private clients – more information can be found at She has also written a book called Own It which can be found on Amazon at

How Well Do I Lead My Team?


For some companies the end of the calendar year also coincided with the annual appraisal process in which, if done well, each person comes out the other end of the process having had a really good discussion with their line manager on areas in which they are doing well, some areas where improvements need to be made and with a new set of very focussed goals that are both meaningful and motivational for the individual and to support business strategy.

Conducting a meaningful appraisal is just one of the skills any leader needs to learn. A leader should also have as part of their appraisal a discussion about how they are performing in the leadership role and ask the question of themselves throughout the year “how well do I lead my team?”

In some of the companies I work with we go out and collect feedback for leaders prior to the annual appraisal process and ask both direct reports, peers, customers, senior managers and other key stakeholders. This feedback is summarised and then discussed with the individual leader to ratify things that are working well and areas of development.

If you can get this type of feedback either via a systematic online generated questionnaire and report (360 degree feedback) or a more informal process it is hugely valuable. I have seen leaders transform their leadership ability based on such feedback as they didn’t realise how important their behaviour was on a day to day basis and what their team expected of them.

The type of actions that can result from a critical review of your leadership style on a regular basis can range from instigating  or reinvigorating regular team meetings, scheduling meaningful 1-1’s on a monthly basis with each member of your team to redefining entire team structure and clarifying roles and responsibilities.

The important thing to realise that it doesn’t matter if you are a leader with years and years of experience or if this is your first leadership role there are always areas where improvements can be made and also its nice to know what you are doing well!


Sandra works with numerous businesses across the UK and runs workshops on Leading and Developing High Performing Teams. Find our more information from either or 




Celebrate Success


As we are about to enter the season of festivity and celebration it reminded me of the need to ensure we celebrate success, achievements or just continuous hard work throughout the year rather than just at set times.

In the work I do coaching leaders at all levels of the organisation I encourage them to routinely catch people when they do the right things and behave in the right way as this has a dual benefit. Firstly, everyone feels good when they get some positive feedback and recognition plus when we acknowledge that we have noticed someone getting good results, behaving in line with company values or in a professional way it reinforces the message that we want to see more or similar in the future. Most of us have experienced the way that if you laugh or acknowledge a small child behaving in a certain way they keep doing it to get a similar response. As adults it is no different we still like to please those around us.

The way in which you choose to celebrate success however must be individual and meaningful to the recipient and this is where the skill lies. It takes time for leader to get to know each member of the team especially if they have a wide span of control. In my experience this is time well spent understanding each person’s individual personality, building a picture of what is important to that person’s life inside and outside of work plus also identifying their motivational mix; what makes them tick. Once you have built a pen picture of each person it is much easier to work out what type of reward or recognition would likely work for that person when it comes to celebrating success or a period of hard work and dedication. Some people will like to be publicly recognized in front of their peers or senior management while others would like a simple thankyou behind closed doors.

This type of tailored approach is equally important regardless of the size of the team or business. In my work across all sectors and size of company it is most often the individual leader that makes this happen and it becomes part of their leadership toolkit they can take with them throughout their careers.

So, I challenge you how good are you at recognising the efforts of others? is this something you are naturally good at and just need to continue in the way you are or is this something you could do a better job of in 2018. We need to look after our high performers and encourage the growth of future high performers


Sandra is a professional coach who works with both organisations and private client. More info can be found at

When Things Don’t Go To Plan



The 12 Emotional Steps

I am a planner by nature and whenever I embark on a project the first thing I do is draw up a master plan. This normally works in my favour enabling me to manage workload, meet deadlines, engage other involved parties and set up contingencies in case things go wrong. So when I think I have planned for every eventuality and something happens that blows the plan completely out of the water it is quite a shock and an experience that isn’t that familiar.

  • The first emotion is shock – wow I wasn’t expecting that!
  • The second emotion is disbelief – how did that happen, events that were completely unpredictable with the knowledge at that given time.
  • The third is anger – how can this be happening to me?
  • The fourth is disappointment – the master plan didn’t work and I thought it would
  • The fifth is uncertainty – now what do I do, I thought this was going to happen and now it isn’t
  • The sixth emotion is annoyance as others try and rationalise and suggest alternative courses of action to the one you wanted.
  • The seventh – bouncing between acceptance and disappointment gradually more days of acceptance rather than any other emotion
  • The eighth – learning and questions, so what did I learn about the plan, the process and myself and what do I want to do now
  • The ninth – possible alternatives come into mind and get serious consideration
  • The tenth – acceptance of situation, acceptance of any personal learnings and the acceptance of an alternative way forwards
  • The eleventh – uncertainty again during the evaluation of all alternatives and decision on one way forwards – will it be as good as the one I originally planned for
  • The twelfth – enthusiasm around the new alternative chosen

Now the big question – how much planning do I do for my new option? – should I be less attached to the outcome and more fluid with my planning. Should I trust in what will be will be rather than planning things with military precision and going through the twelve emotional steps above or is that just life?