Identifying one word in my leadership vernacular, beginning with X, is an absolute challenge.

There are words, yet, I can’t honestly say, I use them.

Image: The X Factor Facebook

Image: The X Factor Facebook

I thought of X-factor – some people do have the leadership X-factor which I admire – they have all the elements which we talk about being required as a leader.

Then there’s the word X-ray. Some leaders use their hindsight, have foresight and insight to cut through the BS of what’s going on in the workplace, culture and climate and make a call of what’s really going on! They start the conversation to make corrections or unearth the unspoken rules which don’t add value to the workplace.

Today, I am really keen to seek your input.

What’s your X word?

And while you’re thinking about how you express your leadership, think of your Y & Z contributions.



OK, so I set myself this challenge in October write about my exploration of the language of leadership and today I am stuck.

It’s the day of N in the alphabet. I am struggling at identifying more than one word which I use in leadership. I need your help!

My one word is an activity which I am passionate about. I know many people who don’t do it or don’t enjoy it or I believe, don’t do it very well!

I’m an advocate for networking. I even started up my own local networking group to encourage women to get together to discuss their opportunities and challenges. I recall when we first met and discovered we all suffered from procrastination!

We forget to tap into the people and groups we know or lack confidence to meet new groups of people. And it’s more than likely we’re all experiencing the same dilemmas in their own businesses and organisations!

Genuine networking is paying it forward and connecting people. It’s listening to people and hearing for opportunities to help them or introduce them to people who have the solution to their problem.

I’ve learnt the importance of keeping in contact with people and letting them know what I’m working on. In this busy world, it’s easy to forget who we know and how they can add value to our life and business.

It’s not what you know, or who you know, it’s who knows you.
— Bill Potter - Business Maverick NZ

There’s this great saying by a cool dude in NZ: It’s not what you know, or who you know … it’s who knows you. That’s networking!

I will throw in one more important N. When I mentor leaders who are progressing into a new role, I advise that the first task is to learn everyone’s name. Yep, it’s critical. There are some great tricks I use to do this quickly which I’m happy to help you out with!!!

When people hear their name used, they are more likely to listen and they’ll quickly respect you for remembering their name. It’s what you want to achieve quickly in your practice of leadership.

Today, in particular, I need your help with your leadership language - what’s your N word?

The image above is a network map from a fabulous book, Do More Great Work by Michael Bungay Stanier. We use this map on our Driving Your Life programs.



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The Language of Leadership

Today we explore the letter - M. M stands for being a Mum - it’s a different style of leadership.

I became a Mum 14 years ago today. I had been a Step-Mum for a few years (and still am) and becoming a Mum presented a new type of leadership. We learnt very quickly that children watch and listen to everything you do and say. We started an experiment 14 years ago and choose specifically the words we would use and not use in front of our children e.g. not to swear, raise our voice or have a fight.

This experiment has paid off and our kids never swear, they are calm and know how to communicate. Parenting is a choice, and I chose to be a mother who was going to be a positive, confident and proactive role-model.

The key M words I identified are:

·       Movement 

·       Motivation 

·       Mastery

·       Mindfulness 

·       Memory

Image: N2Growth via Google

Image: N2Growth via Google


What about you? What M words show up for you when you think of, speak about and practise leadership?

So let me tell you about these words I use:

Movement – great leadership creates a movement, a cause is followed and people want to be part of it and what it stands for

Motivation – knowing what motivates you and your people is the key to leading relationships

Mastery –  learning, improving, changing, experimenting and attempting to master our leadership

Mindfulness – its what cuts through the complexity of personality, projects and processes – learn to breath and be in the moment

Memory – listen intently with no distraction and you should be able to remember what is said, who said it, what their name is and if and what action is required

I will enjoy being a Mum for the remainder of today. It’s life’s greatest gift and I need to ensure that I help my kids be the future leaders of tomorrow.

We’re almost half way through the leadership alphabet. You can catch up on A-L on my website – check out my Thoughts page.

And, I need your help to hear and learn your perspective as it helps me broaden my understanding of leadership.



Some of the books which have influenced my practice of Leadership.

Some of the books which have influenced my practice of Leadership.


How we choose to communicate magnifies our leadership.

Language sets the tone of our leadership.

Every word we say is supported by our body language; and we are being observed every moment to determine if our languages are consistent. Consistency helps people learn if we can be trusted.

Creating a trustworthy organisation is what successful leaders focus on; they know that their culture, climate and environment is what their people love to return to, every day. They know that when their people feel trusted to do their job, they are the best advocates for the organisation.

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Play our game, identify the words you use to express your leadership.


I am often confronted with people who appear to ‘live to work’ rather than ‘work to live’. Whilst this might sound contradictory, many people have found their calling, and are living the work which they love. Are you living the life which you love?

I have a learning mindset. I love learning. I learn from my clients; who learn from me.  And the best way to learn is to have a good laugh. Humour has an amazing affect in the way we learn and recall what we learn.

When people work with me, we face challenges and opportunities together. Their lack or loss of confidence is fixed as we test the unspoken stuff in their head and heart which possibly occurred when they traveled the Ladder of Inference. One of my self-awareness models.


To live, to learn, to laugh, to lead …

My mantra for many years.

Join me on the alphabet journey of leadership – let’s explore the Ls in your Leadership.



My copy of Working With Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman is 20 years old.

My copy of Working With Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman is 20 years old.

My use of words beginning with E, in my Leadership Intelligence Mentoring practice, is endless! I think of the enthusiasm we need to bring change alive and the effort required to adapt our approach and style of leadership if our default style isn’t effective or appropriate.

Emotional Intelligence takes the lead of the Es! The term has its roots in 80’s psychology, and today we are still experimenting with the exercise of connecting with our emotions in addition to our thinking.

Taking an extra moment to consider why people respond a way and listening to their language lifts the heavy weight of recognizing what’s going on in someone’s world. As Dale Carnegie said, when dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.

What differentiates people are those who can connect on an emotional level – those who can gauge the feelings people are experiencing and how this impacts their work and relationships. And even more importantly, it’s the ability to self-correct – to change your course of action mid-stream as you sense you’re not achieving the outcome being expected.

Experimentation is one of the most frequently used words I use. I encourage my clients to change their behaviour, to apply their learning and give it a go. We too often sit in meetings, seminars and workshops, we’re asked to change yet we don’t take it to the practice ground. Experimentation is normal, it’s expected, and it reeks accountability and leadership. Tell people that you are experimenting and seek their feedback. Maybe it doesn’t work and maybe it’s the missing link you’ve been searching for as a leader.

What can you experiment with today? Is it saying “No”, is it giving constructive feedback or is it ‘giving the work back’? Go on, experiment with a change in your leadership approach. And, report back on how you evaluate the outcome.

Evaluation is just as important as experimentation. If we don’t know how we’re progressing with our changes, adaptations and experimentation, then we don’t know how effective we are being.

Too often leadership and associated skills are the ‘soft skills. They have a lack luster following because we don’t show the impact, the difference that our personal and professional leadership does to grow business.

Self-Assessments, audits, 360-degree feedback and evaluations are all accessible and useful to lift your leadership to a new level which will have an impact on others, will help you inspire more followers and help you influence change.

What's your go to leadership word beginning with E?

You can catch up on my previous blogs on the The Language of Leadership - on this page. 

Rediscover the skill of DISSENT

Are you punishing the dissenter in the room? Professor Charlan Nemeth challenges us to think about how we make decisions and how we encourage decision making in the workplace. No! is a book which will polarise the workplace community as we operating in a world which wants to get along and makes decisions by consensus methods.

Read More

a Necessary Leadership Skill - Presenting

A necessary skill for every leader ...


We can survive a leader who has low Emotional Intelligence, extreme doses of extroversion or introversion, some grumpiness and we can even forgive those leaders who send 30 emails at midnight!

BUT, we cannot cope with a leader who cannot engage, inspire and move us 'to do' - yep, I'm identifying the ability to communicate in front of a group of people.

One of the necessary skills of a leader, is their ability to present. It's one of those skills which can easily be developed - in other words - there are no excuses for standing in front of a group, using a monotone voice, waving notes of paper, killing us with PPT and going on for more than 30 minutes without stopping and involving us.

Last week I worked with a group of self titled (confident) Geeks - yep, the IT guys of a big biz and we explored everything there is to know about getting started in presenting to audiences. 

This week - I'll share some of the components we covered - quick lessons for the leader who needs a boost of 'presentation skill'.


A simple way to immediately gain an insight to this still is to reflect on who is great at Presenting.

Activity One:

Consider people who you've seen present and identify what specifically they've done to positively capture your attention. Was it the message, the way they conveyed the message or their personal style?

One person who is respected by many is Sir Kenneth Robinson. His TED talk is very interesting however it's his style and approach to his subject which grabs your attention. Check it out.

Three Tips to get you focused:

  • Know what  you want your audience to do at the end of the presentation - make it clear & obvious.
  • Write the full script or record what you want to say - it's a test of your content and your approach to communicate.
  • Warm your voice up - use tongue twisters, hum and avoid coffee, tea, dairy and drink water.

If you're hosting a meeting this week, using Skype, launching new information spend some time making it purposeful and engaging, 

The next installment available Tuesday 18th August.

Follow The Leader

Follow The Leader

When I was a kid, I loved playing 'follow the leader'. We'd walk, skip or even run in a line and copy what the leader of the line was doing. It was so much fun. I found that my shy self always ran out of ideas of what to do and preferred following the others in the 'leader' role - it was much more fun and sometimes challenging to do what you were told.

I liken this to most people I meet. They prefer to follow others. They're not keen or interested to take the front of the line role and set the challenging tasks to be completed. However, they do like to be engaged and made to feel that they add value to what's been done.

I'm heading out in a moment to work with a client who plays  'Toe the Line' and they're concerned that their group of followers aren't committed to playing by the rules! They are continually told what to do and they're not following.

There are several reasons why they might not enjoy the 'toe the line' game.  So the client has called for guidance and we're 'work-shopping' the game with the followers. I'm going to introduce them to the game 'follow the leader' and see if they enjoy what it offers.

We can't push people to follow, however we can lead them and engage them to enjoy the game. Likewise we can't always be the leader in the game; it's worthwhile to play in the game to understand what's going on. 

Le't play!


The Productive Working From Home Movement

Just about everyone I speak with lately either works from home or spends a couple of days a week creating their home as their workspace.

I recall escaping the office 15 years ago to focus (note, key word) on a project or in particular, Performance Appraisals! However, as I ventured out the door with a borrowed lap-top and bundle of files, I felt so stressed that I had forgotten something or I hadn't left enough notes for the team.

Today with technology on our side and the expectation that working elsewhere is the norm, the question bubbles up, are we an effective and productive movement?

I enjoy the warmth and quiet of the home office (except for the talk back radio to keep me company) and the phone on mute while I focus on projects. I especially like the fact I can work around the kids school hours and control my diary to meet my needs.

However, I'm unsure if I'm more effective and efficient than those in an open plan workspace. If you can get in 'the zone', you can work.  

I am confident that I am super productive because there isn't the human factor. Our movement limits the personalities of humans which need our attention: interruptions, loud conversations and activities. We have more control of 'our zone'; I equate 3 hours of work to a whole day in a workplace!

Not everyone has the ability to work from home - there have always been reasons and excuses. Being capable to change the workspace, processes, rules etc to enable people to focus is your role as the leader.

May the movement grow and support others to experience the change.