Building the right team

Today starts with an exciting development – I’m finally interviewing for a vacancy that I can fill permanently within my team.

This is only the second time I have been able to decide if someone is the right person for my team.

The first time went really well – you can read through some of my posts from that time – sadly, that employee resigned earlier this week.

They will be missed greatly. They were a huge asset to the team and added so much.

But, I completely understand why they have resigned and wish them all the best for their future.

I am proud to be part of their career and personal development – and I am proud that they were part of my own.

Which brings me back to today.

Today is my opportunity to appoint another person who is the right person for my team.

Fingers crossed it goes as successfully as the last time!

P.S. To the person who has resigned, thank you for everything during the last few years – keep in touch.

Looking backwards to move forward 

Over the past few days I have been writing about my reflections on the last 21 months in my journey of leading my team towards becoming a ‘great team’. I have covered the topics of the importance of time and patience, how I became more vulnerable to build trust, and how I have been working on communicating towards trust.

And I want to finish this set of reflections with a look forward towards 2017.

2017 is looking exciting for my team – and for me as a leader.

We know we have some really awesome projects to deliver that will have a real impact.

Some of the things that we have done over the past few years have formed the ground work that we can now use to build upon. Some of the work has been a hard slog that has given us some small improvements and impact, and now the ground work is in place, we can move onto making a real difference.

We exist as a team to do that so now we need to crack on and deliver.

Its an opportunity that we must really grasp with both hands – I know I will be.

We know that other colleagues are starting to benefit from some of the bits we have been working on.

From those foundations, we are starting to deliver real change and benefits to our colleagues outside of our team.

And that’s essential.

As a support function we have to add value. We have to take the public funding that pays our wages and we have to add value to it, otherwise, why are we here?

And, as we end 2016, there are two key projects that will happen in the early New Year that will do just that. But, ,ore on those another day.

We have a new leadership team in place.

Probably the most exciting part of the end of 2016 was the new leadership team that was put in place from 1 December.

We now have a leadership team with a clear sense of direction, with real passion, and a clear purpose of why we exist as a service.

We have a leader in place that is driven by his WHY, and that makes it an awesome place to be.

Having the new leadership team in place is bringing change at pace, and we are at the heart of it. If we don’t make the most of that we will be the only ones who lose out. This opportunity is ours to waste.

Except, I wont let the team do that.

It’s my job to keep us on track with the team helping us to keep all our plates spinning. I plan to do just that.

And we have the opportunity to help develop two people at the start of their careers. 

Whilst having a new leadership team in place was the perfect finale to 2016, being giving the opportunity to help two people at the start of their careers to develop into high quality leaders of the future is the perfect way to start 2017.

Not only will they bring extra energy, extra bodies and a fresh approach to thinking through what we do & how we do it into the team, their year long internships with us will enable me to help them develop as individuals and as potential leaders for tomorrow.

And that’s a responsibility that I take very seriously – and I cant wait to get started.

But more than all of that, we have the foundation that we have created over the past few years to build on – and I’m confident that we will become a ‘great team’.

On paper 2017 looks like one of those years that should fill us with excitement. And, for me it does – I can’t wait to get started. And now it is my job to help my team to feel the same.

2017 is almost here – it’s going to be a good one…

Bye for now.

Here’s to progress.

Creating a recipe, collating the ingredients

In my post yesterday I set out what I believe a ‘great team’ looks, acts and feels like – in other words, what I see the main ingredients of a ‘great team’ are.

Like a recipe, this collection of attributes is created by bringing together a number of individual, yet connected, elements, or as I like to think of them, ingredients. And over the last couple of years I have been working on pulling these ingredients together within my team to help us on our journey towards becoming a great team.

Some of this has been straightforward. Some have been a struggle. Other bits have occurred organically and some have required conscious thought & effort every day. But all are essential if we are going to develop into a great team over time.

And I think the acknowledgement of the importance of time is key.

In fact, time was one of the first ingredients that I identified at the start of this journey – and I deliberately refer to it as a journey.

At the beginning I was impatient. I was expecting change to happen quickly and automatically. I thought that if I did a few actions early on, it would have a swift impact on the team and things would just happen. Well, life doesn’t work quite like that. I soon learnt that if I wanted to see change I needed to have a number of consistent actions that I repeated every day.


And I also learnt that, just like making a recipe, I needed to stagger the implementation of the ingredients. I learnt that if I just chucked everything in at once, nothing would set, and we would just have a mess.

I tried to take a number of actions early and quickly, but they didn’t stick. The team didn’t buy into them. In fact they seemed to cause confusion and inertia. Whats more, as I was trying to do so much at one time, I wasn’t sticking to the changes either. I too was getting bogged down in other bits, I was letting things slip, and I wasn’t be the leader the team needed.

If I wasn’t implementing the changes we needed consistently, how could I expect my team to do it?

Then it hit me, I was struggling to implement the changes as none of them had become habits for me yet. I still was resorting to my old habits – being a lone-leader, not delegating, not communicating properly – so I needed to change how I was implementing the changes. I decided to take one at a time.

The first change I set myself the challenge of tackling was being a lone-leader. Read how I did that with the help of my next ingredient – trust – in my next post tomorrow.

A Great Team – what does that mean?

In March 2015 I started writing in this blog about my journey towards becoming a better leader, and as a consequence of this, I wanted to lead my team to become a ‘great team’.

As we near the end of 2016 I’m taking time to reflect on what has happened within the team during the last 21 months, and then consider our progress towards becoming a great team. And then from this reflection, I will then consider what actions we need to take as a team during 2017.

But before I do that, I want to set out what I actually mean by a great team. What does a great team look like? How does a great team function? What feeling does a great team give you? How do you know that you are part of a great team?

Without answering those questions its impossible to review our progress and to identify our next steps. So, below I have set out what I mean by a great team:

For me, a great team is a collective group of individuals that are working together to achieve a shared purpose. The individual members of the team provide empathetic support to their partners whilst holding each other accountable for their performance and the delivery of high quality work. The team acts boldly through the good times and the times of adversity The team has a culture of continuous learning, refinement and improvement. Every day the team asks itself ‘how could we do what we did yesterday better?’.

This is what I see as a great team. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or drop me an e-mail.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to reflect on where I am as a leader supporting my team to achieve this, and where my team is towards becoming this great team. From this I will identify and publicly state a number of improvement actions.

More soon, I promise.

Unlocking my best self to leadfully

Recently I’ve signed to start using the new toy, sorry, tool from SYPartnersLeadfully.


Leadfully provides a system of tips, tools, and everyday actions you can use to activate your authentic leadership style.


As part of the daily challenges, thoughts & inspiration that they send out via e-mail, they sent a challenge to “turn impossible into possible”.


What does this mean?

Well, quite simply, it’s about engineering growth opportunities by raising the bar to encourage people to stretch beyond what they believe is possible.

And this is something that I am 100% fully committed too.

For us to be a great team, we need to be great people. And to be great people, we need to grow, stretch ourselves and tackle scary & challenging situations. You know, those situations that you don’t feel prepared for – but you go for it anyway. [As a side, Julie Felner wrote about her experience of this only yesterday].

As Richard Branson once quoted:

If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!


Except, that if a member of my team did this, I want to be there for them – to help, support & encourage. In other words, to be their leader.

And Leadfully has just challenged me to do just that!


The challenge

As part of the challenge, over the weekend I will be stepping back and thinking about the work my team is doing and how it’s assigned to make sure there is a meaty stretch assignment for each person.

This could be mastery of a skill, a new behaviour, or a task they’ve never had to handle before.

The goal is to make sure there is something new that’s a reasonable stretch for each person.

So that’s what I’m doing.


I’m pulling together my thoughts into a single place – which I won’t be able to share as it’s personal for each person – and will then sit down with each team member to then do the second part.

Although, here is a screen shot of the templates I am using:

Page 1 – 

Team development - goals, stretches and challenges_2016-01-08_Page_1

Page 2 – 

Team development - goals, stretches and challenges_2016-01-08_Page_3


The second part

This is then followed by the other key element of this challenge.

During my next one-on-one, I will be waking each person through how I’ve been thinking about new ways they can grow. And I will be asking them to think about their own ideas before the meeting too.

We will then work together to create a shared plan.

Thank you again SYPartners for making a tool that is helping me and my team aim towards greatness.

Join us on the journey – visit to sign up today.

Here’s to progress.

Book 4 – Superteams by Khoi Tu

This is the fourth book in my countdown of my top 5 books around leadership, personal development, and self discovery.

What’s the book about?

“In Superteams, renowned teamwork specialist Khoi Tu explains how to make sure your team delivers consistently superior results and emerges stronger from the inevitable crises you will face.

What do the SAS, Ferrari and the Rolling Stones have in common? Their success is about much more than talented individuals. They are Superteams.

Every organisation, whether a business or a sports club, lives or dies by the quality of its teamwork. No man can be an island for long; only great teams can face a crisis and emerge stronger. So how do you build the right team? Many people think of it like a rock supergroup: bring the best of the best together and magic will happen. Yet supergroups often flop, while bands of unknowns rise to the top.

In this incisive and inspirational book, renowned teamwork specialist Khoi Tu explains how to make sure your team delivers consistently superior results, whatever your aim: averting business failure or resolving political conflict, dealing with a hostage situation or leading your team to sporting victory.

Superteams takes seven legendary teams – including animation studio Pixar, Europe’s 2010 Rider Cup winners, and the people behind the Northern Ireland peace process – and analyses their inner workings, evolution and defining moments.

‘This book shows what people can do when the going gets tough and there’s a goal to be achieved. Nice one Khoi’ Jamie Oliver

– © Amazon


Why did I choose this book?

About a year ago or so, I set out my ambition to go on a journey to transform my team into a great team.

This book has helped me on this journey by providing experience, learning and ideas from some of the most successful teams that there has ever been. These are all teams that I have admired from a range of different areas of life. Sport, politics, the army, and others.

Each story provides valuable learning all brought together into a single book.

Has it made me a better leader and my team a great team? Im not sure we are there yet, but it has certainly helped me on the journey.


What does the book look like?



Why should you read it?

  1. If you are a leader in an organisation – this counts for everyone, not just leaders in a formal hierarchy – then Superteams provides page after page of tools, techniques and methods to make yourself a better leader
  2. The stories about the transformation of each team illustrates the different elements that need to come together to make a great team, including forging a common purpose, shaping the environment, building cohesion and mastering conflict
  3. The book is written in way that can be easily read in short bursts, like on a commute, and in a way that you can relate to with excellent story telling


Where can you buy it?

If you are in the UK, you can order Superteams from Waterstones.

Alternatively, you can download Superteams for your Kindle or as a hardcopy from Amazon, or download Superteams from iTunes.

Book 3 – The 3 Volumes to help you make ideas happen by 99U

This is the third book in my countdown of my top 5 books around leadership, personal development, and self discovery. Find out what was first and second in my list.

What’s the book about?

Book 1 –

“Are you over-extended, over-distracted, and overwhelmed? Do you work at a breakneck pace all day, only to find that you haven t accomplished the most important things on your agenda when you leave the office?

The world has changed and the way we work has to change, too. With wisdom from 20 leading creative minds, “Manage Your Day-to-Day” will give you a toolkit for tackling the new challenges of a 24/7, always-on workplace.”

Book 2 – 

“Can you step outside your comfort zone? Bounce back from failure? Build new skills? Tapping into your true potential is no idle endeavor. It demands creativity, dedication, and a whole lot of hustle.

With wisdom from 21 leading creative minds, 99U’s Maximize Your Potential will show you how to generate new opportunities, cultivate your creative expertise, build valuable relationships, and take bold, new risks so that you can utilize your talents to the fullest.”

Book 3 – 

Are you ready to “make a dent in the universe”? As a creative, you no longer have to take a backseat. In fact, stepping up and embracing entrepreneurship is the fastest route to impact. But where do you start? And what sets the businesses that succeed apart?

We tapped 21 leading entrepreneurs and experts to share their best practices for launching a purpose-driven business, refining your product, delighting your customers, inspiring your team—and ultimately—making something that matters.”


Why did I choose this book?

I stumbled across 99U a couple of years ago and just fell completely and utterly, head over heels, in love with them. Their philosophy. Their approach. Their purpose. Their website. Their conferences. basically, all of them.

99U is Behance‘s effort to provide the “missing curriculum” for making ideas happen by helping people make great ideas a reality, by encouraging everyone to act, experiment, fail, adapt, and learn on a daily basis. They offer and share an amazingly pragmatic, action-oriented insights from leading researchers and visionary creatives to empower people to make good on the ideas that have got.

And when I realised that they were publishing their own books, I just had to buy them.

So, when the third book was published at the end of 2014 I brought all three. And then I read them in the wrong order! But that didn’t matter. They didn’t need to be read from book 1 through to book 3. They could be read in what ever order you like.

I started with book 3 as this opened with the best chapter of the whole collection. The opening chapter was written by the brilliantly insightful Keith Yamishita, Chairman of SYPartners.  Now, readers of this blog will know that SY have had a huge impact on me and the person I am today, and the person I want to be tomorrow and in the future.

In this chapter, Keith encourages you to think about what your personal purpose is in life – and then share it with the world. So I did just that.

And since then, my personal purpose is guiding everything that I do.

But, the books are much more than that. They are built around 20 or so chapters of practical advice from people who have turned their ideas into actions. The chapters are action orientated, short enough to read on the daily commute, and focus on one thing – helping you be a better you.


What does the book look like?



Why should you read it?

  1. If you want to move away from talk to action, you just have to read the advice of the 60+ people who have been there and done it – and see how they wisdom and experience can help you
  2. You will learn how you can make an impact in the world and leave your dent on humankind by learning in practical steps how to step up and embrace entrepreneurship as the fastest route to impact
  3. The books will help you focus on how you can manage yourself and your team to be a better you by harnessing your dreams, personal purpose, skills and beliefs to make a difference by bringing your ideas to life


Where can you buy it?

If you are in the UK, you can order the three books from Waterstones.

Alternatively, you can download them on your Kindle or as a hardcopy from Amazon.

You can also download them as an audiobook from iTunes.

Book 2 – The Knowledge – Management and Leadership from A to Z by Carl Taylor

This is the second book in my countdown of my top 5 books around leadership, personal development, and self discovery. Find out what the first one was in my early post.

What’s the book about?

“The Knowledge Management and Leadership from A to Z provides a comprehensive development resource that you can access over and over again throughout your career. It contains notes on learning styles to assist you in developing your effectiveness as a learner, an opening story to set the scene for exploring your own experiences of management and leadership, and A to Z sections that cover topics and exercises for leaders, managers and teams seeking to continuously improve. As the demands made upon us become ever more challenging, and budgets become ever tighter, you ll find The Knowledge invaluable as a life-long guide and mentor.”


Why did I choose this book?

I was privileged to meet Carl over 10 years ago in my very first leadership course when I was in my early twenties – and have been lucky to stay in regular contact with him since then.

What Carl taught me in those 3 days – and another 2 courses following this, plus endless positive & supportive feedback outside the courses – has helped make me the leader that I am today – and the leader I want to be tomorrow.

Carl manages to squeeze 20 years of professional coaching, insight and relevant tools into 160 pages of pure gold dust. Coupled with Carl’s amazing storytelling, the book comes alive around the story of Wayne, Payne, Sayne and Jayne, and their journey to building the cathedral.

This book is quite simply a practical handbook for individuals, teams and organisations to help them develop both individually and as a collective. This is something that I promise you will refer to over and over again.


What does the book look like?


Why should you read it?

  1. If you are a leader in an organisation – this counts for everyone, not just leaders in a formal hierarchy – then this book provides 24 pages of tools, techniques and methods to make yourself a better leader
  2. The 26 sections of the book offer you 26 opportunities to reflect, 26 different team exercises, and 26 times to sit back and link the pieces together
  3. The story of Wayne, Payne, Sayne and Jayne, and their journey to building the cathedral, brings the book to life and makes it easy to link what you are learning in the book into your workplace as each character is an accurate archetype of people we have all encountered in our teams


Where can you buy it?

There are not many copies left to buy on Amazon; but, you can download the app – which has a pdf copy of the book – from iTunes.

A day of highs and lows

It’s been a day of highs and lows today.

My team ran a session to promote my Bromley MyLife website we we had some real, honest feedback. We then had a follow up meeting where we dug into issues, problems & negative things about the website – which was a necessary & much needed thing to do. Although it was also quite disheartening to do that task, we needed to do it to make the website better.

But, I did finish the day with my regular review of the performance targets for this year and, 8 months into the year, we have passed 2 of our annual targets & are on track to meet the other 2. It’s days like this that I am very proud of my team.

Here’s to progress.

Book 1 – Onward by Howard Schultz

This is the first book in my countdown of my top 5 books around leadership, personal development, and self discovery.


What’s the book about?

“In 2000, Starbuck’s founder and CEO Howard Schultz stepped down from daily oversight of the company and assumed the role of chairman. Eight years later, in the midst of the recession and a period of decline unprecedented in the company’s recent history, Schultz—feeling that the soul of his brand was at risk—returned to the CEO post.

In this personal, suspenseful, and surprisingly open account, Schultz traces his own journey to help Starbucks reclaim its original customer-centric values and mission while aggressively innovating and embracing the changing landscape of technology. From the famous leaked memo that exposed his criticisms of Starbucks to new product strategies and rollouts, Schultz bares all about the painful yet often exhilarating steps he had to take to turn the company around. Peppered with stories from his childhood in tough Canarsie, N.Y., neighbourhoods, his sequel to the founding of Starbucks is grittier, more gripping, and dramatic, and his voice is winning and authentic.

This is a must-read for anyone interested in leadership, management, or the quest to connect a brand with the consumer.”

– © Publishers Weekly


Why did I choose this book?

This book just had to start my list.

It changed me.

This book quite simply had such a big impact on me personally and professionally that it had to be the first book I shared.

I previously wrote about how I started reading the book and some of the impact that it had in my earlier post ‘Getting unstuck to make progress’. This book gave me so much inspiration, so much belief and so much to aim towards when I was feeling lost, with out a purpose and struggling to see how to go forward in my career.

When I started reading the book book, it just struck so many cords with me.

How Howard described Starbucks at the time was how I felt about my team.

How Howard described his feelings was how I felt.

And that created a connection which I have very rarely had with a book.

But, not only does Onward cover the problems, it also talks through the solutions, ideas and methods that were used. Real, practical and proven examples of what actually works. And that’s one of the things that I loved about it.

It helped relaunch me on my journey to do life, better. And, on top of all that, it also introduced me to the brilliant people at SYPartners.


What does the book look like?


[image from]


Why should you read it?

  1. If you are a leader in an organisation – this counts for everyone, not just leaders in a formal hierarchy – then Onward provides page after page of tools, techniques and methods to make yourself a better leader 
  2. The story about the transformation of Starbucks illustrates the clear benefits of putting the purpose, mission and vision of the organisation (or team) at the heart of all your decisions – and then letting this be your guiding star for everything that you do – and it gives you some brilliant ideas about how you can do the same thing [I should know, I have already done it!]
  3. The book is an inspiring story of how Howard and Starbucks built a circle of safety around their partners (or employees in other organisations) and rebuilt trust, belief and love across a huge, multinational organisation – and the benefits that this has on the company, and more importantly, those that come into contact with the company (their partners, suppliers, customers, etc.)


Where can you buy it?

If you are in the UK, you can order Onward from Waterstones.

Alternatively, you can download Onward for your Kindle or as a hardcopy from Amazon, or download Onward from iTunes.