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

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 




Career Health Check


As we are still at the start of the year it’s a good time to take some time out to review career health alongside any lifestyle or well being audit you may have already done.

In my work as a career and performance coach my discussions with clients often centre around how they can either

  1. Change careers
  2. Get more enjoyment out of their work
  3. Get better at their work
  4. Minimise the amount of stress they are experiencing at work
  5. Hand some difficult characters at work
  6. Raise their profile at work
  7. Progress to the next level in their company, industry etc
  8. Be brave and make some drastic changes e.g. like number 1 above or setting up their own business

The people who I love to meet are those people who really love what they do in both life and work. As most people spend a large percentage of the week at work its important that if there is something not quite working right in this aspect of our life that you first identify it and then put in place some actions to make improvements

So, in this first month of the year ask yourself the following questions?

  • Looking back at 2017 how happy am I with my work out of 10 (1- not happy at all, hate it to 10 – happy and enjoy it a lot)
  • Which bits of your working life do you love? Make sure you keep doing this.
  • Which bits are you unhappy with – what action can you take?
  • Do you feel you are using your full potential at work? If not, which skills are you not using? How can you plan to utilise these more?
  • Did you undertake any training or development work for yourself in 2017? Have you got anything else planned for this year? Often leaders spend so much time developing their team they forget about themselves.
  • Do you have clear goals or areas of focus for 2018? If not identify at least one
  • How is your work/life balance and stress levels – any work needed here in 2018 – what small habits can you change.

Take an hour out this month and conduct a mini career health check on yourself, pick a couple of actions and then repeat the process half way through the year.


Sandra works as a coach for Businesses and Private Clients. More information can be found at She is also author of the self development book Own It available from Amazon




New Challenges Mean New Frustrations


Anyone who knows me or has read my book Own It will know that I always like to be working on a new challenge however sometimes I do wonder why I do this as it is not always easy.

 I love the initial phase when a new idea bubbles up or just comes completely out of the blue in what I call a moment of clarity! It’s happened to me many a time e.g. Deciding to qualify as an accountant in the 1980’s, setting up the business in 2000, doing my first triathlon and then an Ironman! Well the challenge that came up from nowhere this April while on holiday in Lanzarote was I want to learn Spanish and be above average.

 So, the familiar pattern starts, and I secured a Spanish teacher before the return flight landed at Bristol airport and I was telling everyone this was my new “non-work” project. I discovered a brilliant app Duolingo thanks to a client who recommended it and initially everything was great.

 Now nearly eight months later reality has hit learning Spanish is hard and requires a lot of time and effort. I keep meeting an amazing amount of people who I didn’t realise can speak Spanish well some who did A levels or degrees in it. I have also met a lot more people who have embarked on a similar project, maybe with a different language, who have given up when they got to the stage I am currently at. It’s not as easy as I thought it was going to be. I am myself at that decision point, how much do I want this? Is my reason for doing this strong enough?

 Well at the time of writing yes, I am still fully committed to learning this language even though it’s not going to be as easy as I originally thought. I am going to have to put more effort and time into this if I want to achieve my goal however you will notice I didn’t put a timeline on this challenge and this was for a reason I wanted it to be a fun, non-work-related pastime. I certainly know an awful lot more Spanish than I did in April of this year and I need to remember this. My understanding and recognition of words is much better however there is still a lot more work to be done in pronunciation and understanding what is been said by the natives rather than a slower paced Spanish lesson.

 So, it’s a challenge you bet it is and it’s tougher than I thought but that is ok it just might take a bit longer than I originally thought and I have now got great respect for those people who can fluently speak a second language.



 Sandra works as a coach or Businesses and Private Clients. She is also author of the book Own It regain control and live life on your terms available from Amazon



Inspirational First Impressions


We are all familiar with the phrase “first impressions are important” and it is so true still. What is it that creates that positive first impression when we meet someone that means we go away from this initial encounter saying how inspirational this person was to anyone we meet. Over the past few years I can vividly remember a few people I met briefly that left this impression on me and I have been trying to work out what were the qualities these folks had.

Firstly, the people I have in my mind were all very passionate and knowledgeable about their profession or had a clear purpose to their enthusiastic about wanting to share their experiences, knowledge and expertise with others.

The other trait these people had was they looked after themselves and took time to do this. They were all varying ages and physiques however they had healthy habits prioritising their self-care and daily wellbeing regimes. A saying “you can’t give what you haven’t got” comes to mind here as these individuals were helping others in some way by being of service, teaching or helping develop students and clients.

They all showed genuine interest in me from that first encounter, they went out of their way to try and work out areas of difficulty or subjects that were important to me. They weren’t in a “one solution fits all” mode, their approach and their listening skills enabled them to tailor their offering to my circumstances.

Continual learning was a priority, and this was evident quickly in that they weren’t standing still, they all had new projects they were working on or new countries they planned to visit. In each of their chosen professions they knew there was a lot more to learn and they were hungry to first take on this learning themselves and then share it with others.

Finally, they were all generous with their time and their knowledge demonstrating the ability to identify people, books or resources that they thought might help each individual and they then facilitated those connections which demanded their own personal time and commitment to action,

None of this stuff is difficult however rarely is it all packaged together which makes this a winning cocktail of behaviors that creates such a positive first impression. Think back over the year who has created this impression with you? Any other qualities to add to the above list?

Sandra is professional coach working with Businesses and Private Clients