Category Archives: Teams

Three ways to be a great manager and leader

If you want to improve your management and leadership skills, here is an introduction to three tried and tested management models, with suggestions for further reading.

What I like about these three models is that they can all be understood and practiced at a simple level by new managers while also having a place in the more experienced manager’s toolkit. And, they complement one another and work together well.

One – Emotional Intelligence

I’m a firm believer that if you can’t manage yourself then you can’t manage others. It also seems obvious to me that as a manager you have to be able to deal with staff as ‘whole’ people with complex behavioural and emotional lives.

Therefore, the first skill a manager needs is that of emotional intelligence. Simply put, this means that a manager should have the ability to:

  1. understand their own emotional and behavioural lives, their motivations, reactions to situations etc.
  2. manage themselves, in the sense of being able to reflect on and moderate their behaviour
  3. understand the emotional and behavioural lives of others, and be able to manage staff in a way that takes this into account.

The traits and behaviours that result from emotional intelligence are good for everyone, not just managers. Think of it this way, wouldn’t it be great to have colleagues and managers who are:

  • confident, grounded and calm
  • thoughtful and considered
  • respectful and friendly
  • capable of avoiding emotional blackmail, passive/aggressive behaviour, defensiveness, unnecessary aggression etc.
  • not prone to panic or over-reaction
  • fair, and willing to acknowledge their mistakes.

Once acknowledged as important, the skill of emotional intelligence can be built through practice, through feedback from others, and through coaching. If you want to read more, a good starting place is: Daniel Goleman, ‘Leadership That Gets Results’, Harvard Business Review, March-April 2000. For a more detailed exposition, see: Daniel Golman, Working With Emotional Intelligence, Bloomsbury, 1998.

Two – Situational Leadership

When it comes to actually managing people, a straightforward and simple starting point is offered by the Situational Leadership model. What I like about Situational Leadership is that it is underpinned by some very simple and sound ideas.

Firstly, it says that every member of staff is different, with different levels of skill, knowledge and motivation – indeed, people have different levels of skill, knowledge and motivation in relation to different aspects of their work. Therefore, members of staff need to be managed as individuals, taking these differing factors into account. Managing someone with low skills and knowledge requires a management style that is very hands-on, while managing someone with a very high level of skills and knowledge requires the manager to be more hands-off and to delegate tasks and decisions etc. So, a manager uses different styles for different members of staff, but might also use a different style for the same person in relation to the different aspects of their work.

Secondly, Situational Leadership suggests that a manager has a responsibility to continue to encourage and enable the development of skills and knowledge, and to build or sustain a member of staff’s level of commitment. In other words, a manager’s job is to make staff more effective and efficient. How obvious is this? Yet it is so easily and often forgotten.

An easy introduction to Situational Leadership can be found in: Ken Blanchard, Patricia Zigarmi, Drea Zigarmi, Leadership and the One Minute Manager, Harper Collins, 1986. For a more advanced read, see: Ken Blanchard, Leading at a Higher Level, FT Prentice Hall, 2007.

Three – Transformational Leadership

What I love about the Transformational Leadership model is that at its heart is the idea of the manager or leader as the inspiration for the team, the agent of change. For me, this builds on the idea of the emotionally intelligent leader and manager, and fits well with the management methods of Situational Leadership.

A Transformational Leader is aspirational and dynamic, they bring about positive change and development in both individuals and teams. They are a role model for staff because they:

  • inspire and mobilize change through personal influence
  • show thought leadership
  • are creative in their approach to challenges
  • thrive on uncertainty and paradox
  • offer stimulation and challenge, intellectually and emotionally.


In order to develop their staff, these managers employ coaching and mentoring techniques, and give personal attention to individuals. They challenge staff to be innovative and creative, while encouraging and enabling them to make decisions.

In regard to the team as a whole, a Transformational Leader ensures that the team has:


  • shared values, in particular, ones that promote respect and cooperation
  • good team spirit
  • clear direction and purpose
  • aspirational goals
  • the necessary plans to achieve these goals.


For a more detailed overview of Transformational Leadership, see: Taneisha Ingleton, College Student Leadership Development: Transformational Leadership as a Theoretical Foundation, International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, July 2013, Vol. 3, No. 7 – available here


So, if you want to be a great manager you would do well to include these models and skills in your toolkit. And, if you want help in developing them, I offer one-to-one coaching and mentoring for managers and leaders, plus:


Introduction to Managing and Developing People Workshop – which includes an introduction to Situational Leadership, giving feedback, listening and questioning.


Coaching Skills for Managers Workshop – which teaches basic coaching and mentoring skills.


Team Development Programme – which helps team members to know themselves and others, and to develop shared values and have aspirational goals.


For more information see

Some things that football can teach us

I love football and read a lot of interviews with players because I’m interested in the psychology of competing and of team dynamics. And, I’m interested to hear of strategies, tactics and behaviour that can be transferred and used in a business context. Recently, two things have struck me that can easily be used to benefits all teams and all team members.

When we are a team member and things don’t go well, if we make a mistake or just don’t perform to our best ability, then we need to take responsibility for our short-comings. That’s pretty obvious! But I recently read about a way of taking this one stage further: if a colleague makes a mistake we can ask ourselves if there was anything we did that contributed, or we can ask ourselves if there was anything else we could have done that would have helped to avoid the mistake.

For example, in the context of football, if a teammate delivers a bad pass, fumbles the reception of the ball, or doesn’t react quickly enough, we might ask ourselves ‘could I have been in a better position?’, ‘could I have passed earlier?, ‘could I have passed better?’. It would be easy to find similar situations at work: ‘was I clear in my instructions?’, ‘would it have been better if I’d delivered the report earlier?’, ‘have I played a part in letting standards drop?’

People perform better when they feel confident and motivated. If a teammate performs badly the chances are they know it. The last thing they need is to be criticised, shouted at, moaned about, or in some other way made to feel even worse than they are already feeling. On the pitch, in the heat of the game, and if they are working hard and endeavouring to play their best, then encourage and support them.

You need your teammates to play their best game: what are you doing to help them?

Subtle ways to p*** off your colleagues

Neuroscience is providing some interesting insights into why we behave the way we do at work. 

An example is the SCARF model devised by David Rock. Amongst other things, it gives us a better understanding of why people get fed up, cross, uncooperative, stressed etc.

The underlying idea of SCARF is that our basic flight/fight/avoid mechanism kicks in when we are in various work situations. It suggests that the way we respond is subconscious – it’s automatic, not reasoned and we often don’t realise what we’re doing! Sometimes people get p***ed off but don’t know why.

SCARF (it’s an acronym) suggests that we react badly (we fight, flee or avoid) when we perceive a threat to our:

Status – when our standing, position in the pecking order, seniority etc. is or seems to be challenged or undermined. At work this can happen when a responsibility or task is taken away, and it can happen when someone has a younger manager.

Certainty – when something we believed was fixed, certain, stable etc. is or seems to be changed. At work this can happen when a new system is introduced.

Autonomy – when the degree of control we have over our work is or seems to be lessened. At work this can happen when someone is micro-managed.

Relatedness – we naturally bond and form tribes, teams, groups and don’t like it when there’s a real or apparent shift in the internal relationships. At work this can happened when someone is expected to work with a new colleague, or when there’s a restructure to a team.

Fairness – we don’t like to be treated unfairly or to be disadvantaged. At work this can happen when a colleague receives a reward (perhaps performance related pay) or is or seems to be getting favourable attention from a manager.

There’s lots of possible overlaps, nuances and subtleties in the above categories. However, they can help us to understand why people sometimes get p***ed off when seemingly trivial things happen. They can help to identify some of the causes of low morale.

What have you done today to p*** off a colleague?

If you want to know more about SCARF see


If you want to know about what I do and how I might help you, your colleagues or your organization, contact me on 07932 657925 or

‘I can’t work with that person!’

Have you ever found someone difficult to work with? Sure you have. We all have.

It’s a natural phenomenon because everyone has different character traits which show in their working styles and preferences. Sooner or later you’ll meet someone whose style is very different from yours, and that can be a problem.

At the moment I’m working with a team where my broad-brush approach and preference for quick decisions isn’t working well with some of the other team members. And my patience is being tested by someone who needs to thoroughly think things through before acting.

However, difference certainly isn’t a bad thing. On the contrary, if it’s understood and taken into account it has very positive advantages. A team or small business with a broad range of character traits and working styles can be better than one with a narrow range.

A spread of traits carefully deployed in a team is as important as a spread of skills.

I used to work with someone who had an attention to detail that was second to none. It drove me mad until I realised that their way of working complemented mine – where I’d be a bit slapdash they’d ensure, for example, no document left the office with even the smallest punctuation or grammatical error. I initiated, they finished – we made a great team!

It’s so easy in that type of situation to knee-jerk and say: ‘I can’t work with that person!’ It’s much better to ask: ‘what is it about their style of working that differs from mine, and how does their style and approach help the team?’ Once you’ve asked that you have the option to change how you work together to gain maximum benefit from your different approaches. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but when it does it can be very productive.

Some of the common opposites and clash points in working styles and preferences are:

Facts – Ideas

Change – Stability

Starting – Finishing

Big picture – Detail

Knowing what’s coming – Surprise

Thinking before acting – Starting then thinking

Decisions based on analysis – Decisions based on values


If you want to know more about character traits and working preferences take a look at:

Myers Briggs Personality Types at

Belbin Team Roles at

Team Management Systems – (by the way, I’m licenced to deliver this pofile)

Vive la différence!

If you want to know about what I do and how I might help you, your colleagues or your organization, contact me on 07932 657925 or