Tim Parker knows a fair bit about business.  

His career history reads like a who's who of blue-chip companies, and he's currently Chairman of the Post Office, Samsonite and the National Trust.

He says that...

...the ideal tenure of a CEO should be around six or seven years.

It takes a couple of years to properly get to grips with a complex organisation before they can really start to make a difference at a strategic level.

But then they...

...start to get into a rut, stop asking enough searching questions and actually they need a new challenge.    

That's why I'm...

...moving on from the Midweek BLT after 200 issues to create a new podcast series for this autumn called Beyond Leadership.  

In the podcast I'll be discussing with some of the leading thinkers of today, emerging trends in leadership, and how technology and changing ways of working will impact leaders of the future.

And my first guest...

...will be none other than Tim Parker, Chairman of the Post Office etc. etc.! 


Are there areas of your role where you've stopped

asking questions and are taking things for granted?   

Perhaps you need...

...to move on to a fresh challenge to get you looking at things from a new and different perspective.

How can you redesign your job to make it more stimulating, challenging and rewarding? 

What new initiatives could you try to gain fresh momentum and reinvigorate your enthusiasm?

Maybe it's time... 

...for some radical transformation and reinvention.  

If so, that's what I do.  Get in touch. :-) 




This one is all about how to build resilience into your goal-setting process.

Problems arise when we set our goals, forecasts and targets without thinking about the things that could derail us in our quest.

Things never...

...quite work out the way we plan.  So why do we plan for things to work out?  

We need to be looking ahead to the potential obstacles for two reasons: 

  1. To put in place plans to overcome them;
  2. And to visualise the overcoming process. 

When we expect...

...the path to success to be an effortless journey into the future, it means we get disappointed when they don't work out how we want and we can become demotivated as a result.   

But if we build in the expectation that there will be difficulties along the way, then we view overcoming those difficulties as part of the process rather than a sudden and undesirable roadblock.

In fact...

...I always tell my clients that change doesn't happen in a straight line.  There's always an initial dip where you fall behind the curve, before you build momentum and start to really feel the benefits of your efforts. 

Having that expectation at the outset means that, when the dip comes, the thinking is "We're on target," rather than "Oh no, we're falling behind our predictions."


Take a look at your growth plans.  

If they're looking like a straight line you're probably setting yourself up for failure.   

Recognise that...

...you might achieve less than you thought  in the short term, but make it up later.  Flatten your curve at the start and make it steeper later on.  

The great thing then is that, if you continue the curve, your growth starts to become exponential. And that's really motivating and inspiring for your people. 

As Bill Gates says:

"We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don't let yourself be lulled into inaction." 




It's very easy for us to simply get on and do things without really thinking about how we do them.  

And yet the HOW is so very important.

What happens is...

...we get given a job and we view it from a task perspective.

We focus on what we have to do.

But that's not...

...your job as a leader.  

Your job is to build relationships to get things done; to inspire others to do the achieving; and to set the tone and standards.  

When we get...

...focussed on task we often end up making all the decisions, getting caught in the detail and missing out on the warning signs that our team is disengaged and unmotivated.  

We risk becoming isolated, inward-looking and cut off from what's really going on beyond the doing.


How are you leading? 

Are you spending enough time relating to your people in way that inspires them to bring their best selves to work each day?   

If you see...

...team members who are doing the bare minimum to get by, put yourself in their shoes and imagine how they are seeing you.

Why are they not engaged?  

What could you do differently?

How can you engage their motivated skills?

You know full well... 

...that you need to feel valued, challenged and given the resources and autonomy to do a great job.  

Make sure that's what you're giving your people.  





High performance expert Brendon Burchard has a simple "5x50" formula for success.

One of those fifties is to get 50 minutes more sleep each night.

OK, so it could just...

...as easily be an hour, but that wouldn't sit in his 5x50 format!  

The key point is that we need our sleep for a reason.  If we ignore it and try to push on through, we actually become progressively less effective.  

You know what...

...it's like when you're heavily sleep deprived.

But it's harder to detect when we're just a little short on kip, and the effects of that can go unnoticed.

When we habitually get by on less sleep, that leads to us "getting by" in other areas of our lives - instead of being on top form.   

I'm sure you've... 

...had that experience of being well rested and feeling completely clear and in control.  

Well, shouldn't you feel like that all the time?  



Can you change your nighttime habits to accommodate more and better sleep?   

Try getting to bed an hour earlier for one week and notice the difference it makes.

But it's...  

...also the quality that counts.  

To set yourself up for a really good night's sleep you should avoid any screen time - TV, computer or mobile phone - for that final hour before settling down.  

And if you're worried...

...about your productivity, take reports, papers and other business documents to read in bed.

Then, in the night your brain will process all that information and you'll wake up not only fully refreshed, but with some amazing new insights to add value to your work!





That may sound daft: 

"How can it be negative if it's balanced?" you might well question.

But remember...

...when you receive negative feedback, it's very hard to focus on any positives.  

If someone is critical you simply home in on it and forget about all the great things people may have said about you.  

Which means that...

...if you give or get an equal (balanced) amount of negative and positive feedback, it will still feel like it's negative. 

So if you want to appear balanced you'll need to give at least three times as many positives as negatives.   

And to be seen... 

...as being positive you'll need to stretch this to a ratio of over four or five to one.  



Create a positive atmosphere for feedback.

Make sure you...  

...don't leave good things unsaid.  Give your team a constant stream of positive feedback.  

This will make them feel good about themselves and able to accept criticism in a positive and constructive way, instead of taking it personally and going off in a sulk.  

Don't take your...

...people for granted.  Be grateful and openly appreciative of their contribution.

Saying, "They're just doing what they're paid for," is not helpful when it comes to motivation.

If you keep telling them they're brilliant, they just might respond!





According to renowned Stanford Professor of International Management James G March, our decisions come from one of two places:

Identity; or Consequence.

And which one is at play is hugely important.  It's the difference between being proactive or reactive; between being strategic or tactical.

March's work looked at the psychology of organisations and how we make decisions in an organisational context.

So when we're...

...making decisions from identity it's a combination of the culture and values of the organisation blended with our own.  

And, likewise, when we're acting out of consequence it's both the consequences for our organisation and for ourselves.  

As with all things...

...we need a balanced approach.  We can't act totally out of our identity and values with no regard at all for the consequences.  

But, then again, acting to avoid consequence without any reference to how it will impact on the things that are important to us and our team is to risk disaster.

For example...

...taking a short-term view and pursuing an opportunity for making a quick buck to the long-term detriment of our brand, might be the wrong decision. 

Unless, perhaps, we're desperate for the cash and the business would crash without it.   

As they say...

...the first rule of long-term planning is to ensure there is along term!



Next time you have a big decision to make, check in: 

Are you coming from a place of identity or a place of consequence?   

If you're ...

...coming from identity, does it also take into account the immediate consequences?

And if you're more focussed on consequences, what are the long-term implications? 

Whichever way...

...you're approaching your decision-making process, make sure you're balancing the short-and long-term outcomes to optimum effect.  






Back in the '90s I worked for a very wise MD in the outdoor industry.

When, a few years back, I led an expedition to the Himalaya, I asked if he could provide me with sponsorship for some essential kit.

I wasn't ready for...

...his response, which completely blew me away, bearing in mind that he was the boss of the whole outfit.

He told me, "I can't make that decision; I can't spend my people's money for them."

The point is...

...once you've given them P&L responsibility you can't then start interfering with their spending plans.  

If you expect them to have complete ownership, you have to honour your end of the bargain 

As it happens...

...I did get the kit I needed.  But it wasn't his decision.  



Today's action point is really simple: 

If you're ever tempted to make decisions that will impact your people's spending, stop and ask yourself, "Am I doing the right thing here?"

Then talk... 

...it over with them and, unless it's business-critical, let them decide.  

You'll earn huge respect, and your people will feel incredibly empowered and motivated, which will reward you in shovel-loads.





Something I have always found to be a challenge for me is when I'm surrounded by people who think small.

When you're the only one who's got a big vision, or wants to aspire to high standards of excellence, it can make you feel like you're constantly wading through treacle.

And worse still...

...is when you have to deal with "Mood Hoovers" - people who suck all the energy and enthusiasm out of you and your team.

Then you're at risk of spending all your time and energy on trying to keep people positive and motivated.


...this will drain your batteries and leave you feeling depleted, leading to lower levels of concentration, reduced patience and impaired decision-making capacity.  

In short, you're in danger of burning out.  



The antidote is to make sure you spend time in the company of inspirational people. 

You may be lucky and have colleagues in your organisation who have great energy - positive people who make you feel good when you're in their company and you come away feeling energised.

Seek them out...

...and hang out with them regularly.  Not ​​​​​​​just when you need a recharge, but often enough to keep you topped up.  You become like the people you associate with, so their inspiration will rub off on you.

If you don't have someone like that, then try going to appropriate networking events to find the right tribe.  

And finally... 

...a great coach can be a brilliant way of keeping your enthusiasm high and your focus in the right place.  

If you'd like to try it, why not get in touch?






As human beings, we tend to pick up on feelings before we're able to vocalise why we may be sensing things in a particular way.  

This is linked to our primal survival needs.  We have to feel something is wrong and respond immediately to avoid danger, or risk death from a potential predator.  No time to sit and analyse what the danger is - just get the heck out of there!

Unfortunately we still...

...have the same fear response to situations of uncertainty.  Our primal need for safety kicks in.  

In the modern world, the reality is that most changes - for example, to the processes, procedures or structure of our organisations - are not life-threatening dangers. And yet our natural fear response treats them as if they are!   

This explains... 

...why so many people display a natural aversion to change, often undermining change programmes due to being unable to see the positive benefits - and the potential negative consequences of change-avoidance.



When you want to make changes, remember that there will almost certainly be an initial negative response, unless it is properly pre-framed. 

You have to sell the need for change before trying to sell the change itself.  

Draw up a list of...

...all the negative outcomes from not making the necessary changes, and a list of all the positives of your proposed changes.

Then weave all that into two stories and ask them what they think of the two different scenarios.  The answer should be obvious! 

[What we're doing here is using 'away from' motivation to create a desire for change and then 'towards' motivation to give direction and focus to the change process.]  

Here's a useful tip: 

I prefer to do the first part myself, and then work with my team to co-create the second story.  Doing it that way you get to build ownership and trust into the process from the outset.





This is something we tend to neglect in the rush and tear of business life.  And yet, in my experience that's when we do our best work.

Don't get me wrong...

...I'm not saying stress is bad and we should all go around in a perpetual zen state!   

What I have noticed though, is that when we're running on adrenaline we need to be careful to balance it out by keeping a sense of calm amid the busy-ness.  

When we fail to do that we end up completing the job and then finding all sorts of glaring mistakes.   

How often have you... 

...sent off that vital tender, only to notice a glaring omission when you take time to look at it later?

Stress overload gets us into an unresourceful state where we lose our sense of perspective and our external sensory awareness starts to shut down.  

And as leaders...

...like it or not, we set the tone.  If our people see us rushing around in a mad panic it will have the effect of destabilising the whole team. 



When things get hectic and you're under pressure, do you:  

a) go round to the team constantly checking on their progress;

b) offer them a reward if they get the job done on time; or 

c) take time out to get everyone relaxed, focussed and energised? 

It seems counter-intuitive, and yet (c) is far and away the most effective.

So this is how...  

...to do it.   Get the team together and run through what needs to be done.  Make sure everyone is clear on their roles and tasks.  

Then, before rushing off...

...to get into action, take a moment to pause and get relaxed. 

I find that simply getting everyone to close their eyes and take a couple of deep breaths makes a huge difference.

Now you're all focussed on what needs to be done, ready and able to do your best work in a happy relaxed and confident frame of mind!





It's true that we seem to have a natural in-born disposition to think and behave in certain ways.

If we didn't, there would be no real way of understanding and making meaning of personality, either our own or others.

That doesn't mean...

...that we're all victims and we can't do anything differently.  We're not doomed from birth to always behave in the same and predictable ways.

We have free will, we have a choice.

We can choose...

...in each and every moment how we feel.  Whether we're optimistic or pessimistic, happy or miserable, angry or calm, in each case we have a choice.

The key is self-awareness...

...recognising what we're thinking and feeling and how that's affecting our external mood and behaviour.  

Then we can choose to change it if we feel it's not appropriate or not serving us.

As leaders we...

...need to be aware of what's going on in our internal world, because our people look to us for clues about how they should behave.  

We set the tone - whether we like it or not - and that comes from the inside out.   



Notice how you're feeling right now.  

Are you happy, impatient, nervous, or contented?  Is how you feel having a positive affect on your mindset? 

If not...

...think of a time when you had the feeling you would find most beneficial right now.  Maybe you'd like to feel optimistic.

If you can't think of a time, then think of a person who demonstrates the feeling you'd like to have.

Now connect to...  

...that feeling inside yourself and imagine it displacing the one you want to change.  Then hold it there and notice how your physiology is changing.  Remember that.  

Next time you want to change that feeling, try simply changing your physiology, and notice how the new feeling is instantly triggered.  

It's practically impossible...

...to be sad with a smile on your face.  And we all know how good laughter makes is feel. 

So take control of your feelings and that will help you develop a mindset that will inspire and energise everyone on your team.




We have a real employee engagement problem in the UK: a shocking 70% of staff don't trust their managers; and 64% say they have more to offer their employers if they had the chance.

No wonder we have such a productivity gap!

In my experience...

...from 45 years in business, lack of engagement has two main causes:

  1. Disengaged leadership; and 
  2. Lack of meaning in their work.


These two factors are intimately related.

If we... 

...as leaders are not engaging fully with our teams, how can we possibly expect them to feel engaged?  

There is a way for us to address both these issues: 


When we lead on purpose - a purpose beyond profit - it creates a focal point that draws us all together.  It gives us a point of engagement and defines the meaning people attach to their work.  



What's your purpose?  

Who does your organisation serve, and why and how does it serve them?  

And how do you use this to engage and create meaning for your people? 

As an example...

...I once met a young lady who worked in a printed circuit board factory.  When I asked her what she did, she explained that she soldered the long yellow and the short blue wires onto the PCBs.

I enquired further and found out that the boards were used in the control panels of aircraft, including Concorde.  I then pointed out to her that her actual job was:

Ensuring the safety of millions of passengers.  

That's quite a big purpose! 

So that's your job as a leader: to define your purpose in real and meaningful terms, and use it to engage and inspire your team.




I came across this concept recently.  It comes from a Vietnamese monk called Thich Nhat Hanh.  

The quote goes like this: 

"Wash the dishes to wash the dishes."  

Simple yet pithy.

In our hurried...

...lives we get so caught up in things that we end up rushing everything, doing things just to get them done and tick them off our list.  We rarely take time to give thought and attention to what we're doing; we're already focussing on the next task.  We waste our time living in the future, never noticing or fully experiencing the present.  

And so often, this spills over to our relationships.  [We'll come back to this in today's Action Point.]

There's another...

...saying that is relevant to this: 

"One = All."

You see, it's about attitude: how we do one thing tends to be how we do all things.

If we...

...wash the dishes mindlessly, to what extent are we being mindless in other important areas of our lives?  

But if we do it with love and attention, what does that say about us as human beings?  

Which brings me to another saying I love: 

"We are human beings, not human doings."



How do you wash the dishes?  

In the dishwasher, I expect. But the point is, how do you approach those seemingly trivial tasks?  Do you give them your full presence and attention?  

Now ask yourself...

...to what extent are you guilty of not doing this in your relationships?

Are you fully present when you're talking with your people?  Or do you find them a distraction, stopping you from getting on and 'doing' your next task? 

Notice how... 

...you are 'being' in your interactions with others and, if necessary, bring your attention back to the present.  

If you're like me, it will take effort and practice.  But eventually it will feel a completely natural way of being.

What's amazing is... 

...how much richer it makes all your experiences.  

And you'll notice a huge difference in the way people respond to you.





This may sound obvious, but you'd be amazed just how much confusion there can be around the whole area of roles and responsibilities.

This is often...

...because we have a clear idea in our minds of who should be doing what, and we assume everyone else can see the same picture. 

This lack of a common understanding is highly dangerous.  It can lead to confusion, duplication and - worse still - important things being missed.

And sometimes... 

...it's just down to bad - or no - communication.

I well recall one situation I came across where someone was annoyed with a co-worker who suddenly started being really bossy.  It turned out that she had been promoted to manager but the boss hadn't told anyone!



Make sure you get clarity of roles fully understood with the whole team at the start of every project.  

This can't be done on a one-to-one basis.  Everyone on the team needs to know what they and everyone else is responsible for if it's going to work seamlessly.

You should also...

...make it part of the agenda and minutes for each and every meeting.  What are the action points, and who will take responsibility for making them happen, needs to be clearly set out for all to see.

And if you ever... 

...catch yourself assuming people know their roles, it's time to check in with them and make sure your understanding is mutually shared.  

That way, everyone can stay focussed and on task, and everything gets done.





When it comes to communication we tend to make one big assumption that can actually stop communication dead in its tracks.

We assume that...

...others like to receive information in the same way we do.

The reality is very different!  We all have our own preferred modes and quirks that can either help us take things in, or actually hinder our understanding.

For instance...

...some people love to get everything written down in an email, while others would prefer a phone call or a face to face.  There are people who need to understand the big picture context before any of the detail makes sense; whereas others may be turned off unless they've got a handle  on the 'nitty gritty' first.

If we...

...impose our personal preferences on others we can end up only communicating effectively with people like ourselves.  That could end up exluding a significant number of people we would like to reach!



Firstly, notice how you like to receive information.  

For example, I find it really hard to assimilate lots of facts buried within long paragraphs, preferring simple bullet points and no waffle.

Step Two is...

...start noticing how others are communicating with you.  That's a clear sign of what their preferences are.

Now see if you can meet them where they are.  

Next time... 

...you have to interact with them, try using their preferred style and medium.  

You should then notice a big positive difference in the way they respond.  

And communication is, after all, about what action people to take as a result.




This is such a fascinating topic: how we engage with one another to clarify things and then to reach decisions.

Sometimes we...

...don't even get to debate!  We don't want to risk upsetting the team or causing individual offence, so we leave things unsaid for the sake of an artificial sense of harmony.

This achieves nothing and causes more damage long-term if it results in us making decisions that don't work in everyone's interest.

Debate is usually...

...our default mode, where we invite everyone to contribute their views and then argue out the merits or otherwise of each idea.  

Whilst it's healthy for everyone to have their say, this approach can often lead to the feeling among some that they've lost the argument.  

And then you've got people with a vested interest in proving that their way was right and, "You should have listened to me."  They have no buy-in to the outcome and may even be just itching for an opportunity to say, "I told you so."

Dialogue is where...

...you can get to those win-win outcomes that are so desirable.

Here, we not only listen to everyone's ideas, but we actively probe to find out more about them and get a deeper understanding of the other person's thinking and to see if we can find ways of changing our own thinking so we can all get what we want.



Notice which of these levels your team's discussions are predominantly held in:

  • Artificial harmony
  • Debate
  • Dialogue


Do you need to dig down deeper?

Try this simple...

...experiment.  Write down the following words on a piece of flip-chart paper and display it prominently in all team meetings: 

  • Why? 
  • What? 
  • Who? 
  • When? 
  • How?


Make a point of using these questions to seek a genuine and full understanding of what's being discussed.

And, by the way, the question marks are important!  They open our minds in ways that mere words can never do.




This tip isn't as daft as it may seem...

What really makes you feel pi**ed off?

For most people it's...

...being ignored, not having their contributions recognised, and generally not feeling valued.

 Validating others by showing them respect, honouring their differences and not sitting in judgement of them is a genuine act of love.

There's no need to...

...get all lovey-dovey and start sending them flowers or chocolates!  

Treating them as individuals is all they want.

That and, maybe, a pay rise ;-)



Take 5-minutes to sit and think about how you like to be treated by others - especially your bosses, if you have them.  Then notice to what extent are you treating 

your people in the same way.  

It's a simple...

...case of giving what you want to get.  

Share the love!  

When people feel valued they are more motivated and life is better for everyone.



You already know how important celebrating success is to recognise, reward and energise your team.

But why not...

...include planning the celebrations right at the start when you're putting the project plan in place?

This has the effect of helping everyone envision the task being successfully completed on time and on budget.

That way...

...they start out with the mindset that it's already accomplished, giving them a sense of confidence in the project, the team, and their role (and your leadership too).  

They then bring a positive mindset and energy which is incredibly infectious and will enthuse everyone on the team, creating a 'virtuous cycle' of motivation.

This is a great...

...way to boost the resilience of your project team and keep them on a high - even through the rough patches you will inevitably encounter along the way.



Start planning now!  

What's the next project you've got coming up?

Think about how you can integrate the success celebrations into your planning process.

You could even...

...engage your team in the discussion to give them a real sense of ownership over both the celebration and the actual success.  

This is a great way to get them focussed and energised for the project right from the start.


The whole way we view our world and our work is based on assumptions.

We have assumptions over how people will behave, what's going on in our markets, what will motivate our teams, and so on.


What that does...

...is to create a kind of operating envelope where our assumptions set parameters and define the boundaries of what we believe is possible.  

Assumptions can be very comforting, but also very dangerous.


In an era of...

...accelerating change we can't afford the luxury of assuming things will carry on as they are.  Did the hotel industry expect AirBNB, or the taxi business expect Uber and the plethora of lift sharing apps now becoming available?

The only safe assumption we can make is that things will change.



Where do you feel most secure?

What are the assumptions you're making that ​​​​​​​cause you to feel that way?

Now imagine...

...you woke up tomorrow and those assumptions no longer held true.  

Consider how you could adapt: 

  • What would you do differently?
  • Who would you need to connect with?
  • What new resources would you need?


Are there any ideas there that you could act on to start the future-proofing process, or to simply do things better right now?  Or maybe there are things you could stop doing and save yourself valuable time and resource.

When you start...

...regularly questioning the assumptions you're making you'll open up a whole stream of new ideas and innovation.

And, as always, you may like to get your team involved in this discussion...


#179 Stand for Something BIG


Have you ever noticed how the people we are drawn to nearly always have a really big purpose that is driven by something beyond themselves?

We're not interested...

...in those who like to talk incessantly about themselves and their own achievements, and only appear interested in WIIFM: "What's In It For Me?"

It's the same...

...with leadership.  The best leaders tap into things that appeal to the higher interests of their people: their sense of purpose.  People want to feel good about themselves and will admire others who represent the kind of person they would like to be.

And yet...

...so much motivation focusses on the basic level "hygiene" needs of money, security and recognition.  And when we do that we fail to ignite their passion, so we have real problems trying to get them onside.



Who do you particularly admire?.  

Take a sheet of paper and start writing: I admire xxx because...  

Congratulations!  You've just created a blueprint for the person you aspire to be.


...close your eyes and take two or more deep breaths, then imagine yourself as this person.  Take time to really enjoy and revel in the experience. Imagine how great it feels to receive all the love and appreciation just for who you are!.


...open your eyes and walk around for a bit to get the feeling really embedded into your physiology, whilst also thinking about your next meeting or other interaction.  

Now you're ready to go and amaze yourself - and your colleagues!



I thought this would be a great tip to get you set up for success in the New Year.  It's all about deciding exactly how you want to show up and be perceived by others.  

You see, we all have a sense of what are appropriate standards and principles that we carry around in our minds.

The trouble is...

...we don't always live up to them as we don't have an organised process to, firstly verbalise what they are and, secondly to keep them front of mind. 

Without that we are liable to be blown in different directions depending on the latest thing we've come across.  

Lots of different...

...(and usually good) ideas come our way and so we keep changing what we're doing.  Ultimately that makes it hard for people to know what you stand for, which means you can't be an effective role model.  

And that, I believe, is one of the keys to leadership success...



 Write down your "Principles and Standards" to define how you want to show up in life - both at work and in personal relationships.

​​​​​​​I personally have a list of 18 things, including:

  • Start each day with a workout
  • Be professional and prepare like a professional
  • Always give outstanding value
  • Live a healthy, balanced lifestyle
  • Give everything your best shot

Get it...

...laminated and read it every morning to remind you of what you're about, and to set you up for the day.

You will find that you become more centred and others will start to better understand what you stand for.

It will...

...keep you in touch with your moral compass and make it easy for you to know what to say 'Yes' and what to say 'No' to. 

Ultimately, you'll become more focussed, more productive and a lot more relaxed in your approach to life and work.

Now isn't that something worth aiming for?