change management

Welcome to VUCA World

If the world of leadership development and change management was a theme park, it would be called “VUCA World”. A chilling place, laced with black humour; a bit like the Vogon constructor fleet in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity.  There are currently four revolutions happening around the world– in IT, Energy, Manufacturing and Life Sciences.

If you’re in a start-up you’re in VUCA world. If you care about the environment, you’re in VUCA World. The digital economy affects your organisation? Yep. You guessed it. You’re in VUCA world.

The good news is that no-one reads Vogon poetry to you. (It’s the 3rd worst in the universe, according to Douglas Adams)

“You’ll end up opting for the Vogon Poetry session.”

VUCA World is a theme park you may already have experienced: full of change, bright flashing lights and sudden, dark corners.

  • Volatility: The roller-coaster in VUCA World isn’t just fast-moving with huge highs and lows. It cleverly combines those features with the thrills of the Ghost Train, as you never know what’s around the corner.
  • Uncertainty: You think you’ve queued up for one kind of experience, only to find you’re asked to get out, mid-ride, and take another car of unknown destination. Or you thought you’d opted for the stately ‘London Eye’ style ferris wheel, only to be whirled around in a giant teacup full of anxious kids.
  • Complexity: In VUCA World they believe that you take responsibility for your own choices and your own journey; so they remove the signposts that might clearly direct you to the rides (or the exit). Tickets make UK train travel look like a model of simplicity; prices are weighted by time, length of the ride, your age and your shoe size. Good news! There’s no gender discrimination in VUCA World, everyone can experience it for themselves.
  • Ambiguity: VUCA World announces its ambiguity in its public advertising. Its strapline is “You need change, but you don’t want it and won’t like it”. The ticket sellers love to give you vague options; their motivational posters read “one the one hand this, might be best, but on the other….” And the friendly VUCANs (your black-uniformed hosts) are especially trained to give you at least three optional routes when you ask for directions.

“Since the solutions don’t lie in the problems, hanging out in VUCA World won’t help.”

You’ll end up opting for the Vogon Poetry session.

Many of our clients recognise that they’re already in VUCA World, and they don’t like it.

At Forton, we see our role as a trusted, reliable guide, equipping leaders and managers to succeed in this dynamic.

Since the solutions don’t lie in the problems, hanging out in VUCA World won’t help.

Personally, I love designing bespoke leadership development programmes (accredited by the CMI and ICF) for our clients. Particularly creating foundational leadership platforms so that participants have the confidence to explore and understand what’s happening. Then encourage them to apply their skills supported by 1-1 coaching and group action learning.

What we don’t do is give them a predictable list of situations and get them to think through alternative courses of action. Or help them to better argue against someone else’s ideas. Or develop their competitive spirit.

Success in VUCA world comes from collaboration, co-operation and co-creation. From developing, mentoring and coaching others. Relationships with others, our empathy, our resilience and influence matter more than power.

One client organisation increased their sales success rate and staff retention (within the 1st three months of recruitment) by introducing our leadership coaching method. They switched out their former method of promoting the best sales people into manager roles and expecting them to mentor their team.

VUCA World is a tough place. If you’d like to share your experience of trying to lead and manage in this dynamic, feel free to unload in the comments box below. Or share your expertise of what works; whether it’s a leadership or coaching tool. It would be great to hear from you.

Ignite course

A very good place to start

Leaders and managers are catching up with the benefits of coaching and mentoring their people.

It improves performance, builds better teams and supports peoples’ career aspirations.

It’s an obvious win-win too.  Managers tell us how good it feels when they ‘give something back’ to their team.  Remember all that talk about ‘making a difference’?  That’s the feeling they have.

Where to start?

The choice can be confusing however. Here at Forton we make it easy for you.

We were the first ICF accredited leadership coach training programme over 15 years ago.  Today we’re also recognised by the Chartered Management Institute, because we give leaders and managers practical skills that support their demanding roles.

For anyone who needs to mentor and coach business leaders, executives and managers, we recommend you start with the ***Ignite workshop: 19 hours of live, interactive, small-group learning.

Why choose Ignite?

  • Ignite develops a manager’s own leadership skills (Manager as Coach)
  • Ignite is the first step in the Professional Leadership Coaching qualification
  • Ignite is for coaches who want to add executive and leadership coaching skills to their portfolio (Bridging Programme)

Smaller groups mean more individual attention to the questions, concerns and – yes – cynicism about the skills and benefits of coaching and mentoring.  It means people are more likely to apply their learning.

Choose from –

Leaders laughs

Leaders and a laugh out loud moment

You may wonder why leaders and managers resist coaching their teams, when the financial and personal benefits of coaching are so well known.

We regularly hear some great ‘reasons’ from individuals within some client organisations, so I laughed out loud when I read an article on the five myths that prevent leaders from coaching their team members.

In summary these are:

  • “My team don’t want my questions, they just want me to give them the answer.”
  • “I’ll coach them when they ask for it. They can ask for help.”
  • “No one is complaining, so everything is fine.”
  • “Good people self-correct when something goes wrong.”
  • “Our best team members want to be left alone to get on with their jobs.”

I’ll leave you to read the full article by Marcia Reynolds PhD, and I’d be interested to know whether any of these resonate with your experience (you can email me on to let me know.)

The solution we offer is to integrate coaching into organisations at two levels:

  1. Leadership coaching methods as part of a consistent, ongoing, development programme

This means that the language of coaching is organisation-wide; peer learning supports the less confident to develop and the more experienced to mentor others.  This is the ‘manager as coach’ level.

  1. Accredited coaching qualifications for a core group who will create an in-house coaching team

These people can provide formal 1-1 coaching; for example, to support career progression; to help establish new teams and projects; or to address challenges and nip them in the bud.

And independently-verified Case Study Evidence demonstrates the benefits of these two approaches.  It’s not us saying this, it’s organisations like Gallup, the University of Queensland and a world-class NHS hospital group.

And if you want to know more about how the Forton Group maximises better leadership and management through coaching skills, get in touch.


Discovering Deep Diversity

Our Italian partners have invited me to present a keynote speech to their clients, and I’m very excited about the topic – diversity in leadership development.  Less excited about apologising for my poor Italian – but thank goodness they are gracious people.

Excited because this is an area I’m passionate about, and because presenting to a foreign audience means you have to get your arguments in line – and clear.  And it’s an area that continues to be a puzzle to people: there’s a willingness for greater diversity at leadership level, but there’s a glaring ‘say/do’ gap.

What we say we want is a cohort of diverse leaders.  In the words of one client “anyone who can deliver; is talented; is skilled; is a team-player and knows how to lead, coach and manage others”.

But at senior levels in organisations we overwhelmingly have older white men.  Now please; trust me when I say that I’m not anti-talented white men in leadership.  It’s just that when there are more men called John on British Boards than there are women, you know you’ve got a problem.

And you probably don’t need me to rehearse the business benefits: better results; higher engagement levels; lower staff turnover and absenteeism where you have balanced boards.  You know the arguments.  It’s also vital for your reputation that your leaders and spokespeople reflect the diversity of your customers, service users and their families.

If like me you coach women and minorities to present well at interview, you’ve probably heard the “not quite good enough on the day” argument given to outstanding candidates who lost out to those white men.

There’s an upside-down logic going on.  We say we want ‘talent and skill’ yet we see – and refuse to hire for – difference.  Whether that’s gender, race, culture, or social class.

I call this ‘deep diversity’.  To get the best people in leadership positions, we need to go beyond the superficial and dig deeper.  This isn’t to blame people for the state of today’s leadership teams.  It’s just that it’s time to move on and act positively for more diversity.

So, what’s happening?  What’s going on?

The problem starts in our brains with narrow thinking.  Our primitive (reptilian) brain is programmed to look for safety – which looks like “People Like Me”.  It’s called pattern matching.  And it’s time to outsmart our primitive brain behaviours.  It shows up in individual and collective bias; it can be both conscious and unconscious.  But it’s time to stop.

How do you teach 72 different types of bias? 

This isn’t positive discrimination or affirmative action.  It’s just doing what’s right.  I’ve been following the ‘unconscious bias’ research for several years now.  And like fellow colleagues in this field, the list was getting too big.

Adjust your brain’s behaviours in four simple steps:

  1. Outsmart your brain by accepting the need to consciously shift expectations.  You can do this individually, or systematically for groups, teams and departments.
  2. Practice noticing; be aware of the biases that crop up every day.
  3. Practice reflective learning: when you catch your brain indulging in bias, write it down, then forgive yourself – because we all do it.
  4. Act positively towards diversity: through awareness, training and hiring activities.

Balanced Leadership Teams

Then promote or hire for talent; for attitude; for potential; for values; and for diversity.  Let’s really take steps to get the best people in the role.  There’s a number of things that organisations already do that work:

We can achieve a balance between hiring (or promoting) for attitude and behaviours, not solely on past competence or skills.  We can have a broader interpretation of what “relevant skills” means:

  • Those life-skills that women bring when juggling budgets in growing families really help when thrift is vital in the workplace.
  • Or juggling the commitments of being a working wife, mother and daughter in law while holding down a senior technical, management or leadership role.

‘Blind hiring’ is on the increase

Just take out any distinguishing features from applications that may provoke bias: such as personal or university names; anything that indicates social class or confers status on a feature irrelevant to the role.  And let’s bring back the promotion board: so that, where possible, organisations set standards and promote on position-readiness, not putting unnecessary hurdles in peoples’ way.

You’re probably doing a lot of this already.  So if you’re ticking off each of these points and saying “Yep.  We do that” congratulations!

And if you think your organisation could use a nudge in this direction, get in touch.  We offer awareness workshops and short courses on ways to get the best people – and get the best out of people – regardless of their gender, culture or background.  Whether it’s increasing diversity, improving emotional intelligence, or outsmarting our brains, we can help.

Contact us at for details.

The Four Global Leadership Challenges

The recent International Leadership Association (ILA) conference in Brussels really was stimulating.  It was great to be in the company of people – and organisations – who understand the magnitude and importance of better leadership development.

My contribution was a chapter in the ILA’s latest book – Breaking the Zero Sum Game: Transforming Societies Through Inclusive Leadership – and talking to people about our ‘leadership routemap’ as a way of supporting peoples’ engagement in their leadership development.

One of the keynote speakers, General Petraeus, summarised the four global disruptive challenges we face as:

  • Energy
  • IT
  • Manufacturing
  • Life Sciences

Leading an action learning set yesterday, for experienced managers, I challenged them to think about the personal and organisational culture changes impacted by this disruption.

One member retold a situation involving 3D printers and how that’s transforming their organisation.  We looked at the ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘who’ factors, even exploring the implications for this business’s suppliers.

What came through most clearly is the enhanced role these changes bring for technical experts.  Often people who’ve operated happily in their own field, are now expected to step forward into leadership across the organisation.

We explored the difference between project management (the ‘what’ and the ‘how’) and the impacts on people (the ‘who’) and what that means for leadership.

  • Leaders need to feel confident in ‘biting the bullet’ and making decisions; having the courage to make change based on evidence, not gut feel.
  • Team members need to feel involved in decisions and believe that their contribution is recognised and valued
  • Their talent needs to be harnessed – easy to do when managers blend coaching and leadership with management

Technical experts are particularly hard to retain if they don’t feel recognised.  They also need support to develop their leadership skills, not just their technical strengths.

We develop confident leaders and support managers to bring out the best in technical experts.

The coaching approach enables smart managers to bring out the best in people – to lead with presence whilst empowering others.  Managers who run teams this way get more done, feel more confident and achieve higher engagement scores. When true leaders learn how to develop their team, people really feel they have buy-in.  They are better able to contribute directly; to deliver in the best possible way.

There’s a proven way to get team members behind the manager, the vision and the mission, at the same time as coming up with their own ways to achieve it. Our accredited training has supported the development of some of the world’s greatest business leaders in organisations like Shell, BT, Network Rail, the NHS and many more around the world. It’s proven in the classroom and in practice. I see the dramatic improvements our coaching approach makes across organisations, measurable and visible on the bottom line.

People come for the process, but stay because they are engaged by the nuances of blending leadership, coaching and management.

The evidence for our successful approach comes from client organisations, from independent bodies like Gallup, and from academic institutions. It works at all levels of an organisation, in all industries and countries. And believe me, I’m not sensationalising here – leadership coaching rather than just ‘managing’ is globally effective – because though cultures differ, human nature doesn’t.

And in disruptive times, when leaders need to feel competent and confident, our flexible approach is a great fit.

The first step in this transformation is by learning tried and tested leadership coaching methods to put this approach into practice effectively. We run a course called Ignite, which lasts for 2 days. The next one is available in the UK on 27th/28th of November this year, or 29th/30th January 2018.

You can try us out by booking a place on our public courses, or bringing our approach in-house for 6 people or more.

If you have a duty to manage others or indeed, oversee those who manage, Ignite makes life easier.  Your managers will boost staff engagement, get results and shape a cohesive team, with fewer conflicts and lower churn.

If you’d like to know more, just call or email to speak to arrange a conversation.

Class sizes are limited to protect the learning experience of each person, so if you’d like to be on November or January’s course, you’ll need to book soon, or show interest today by contacting us direct.

Disruptive leader

Who’s A Disruptive Leader?

As a child, I was the nuisance one in the middle.  Always asking “why?”  Trust me when I say that it doesn’t win you friends.  Teachers think you’re disrupting the class and challenging their authority.  And I’m sure I wore my parents out.

So it was a surprise and a delight to me when I got to university as a mature student.  They wanted me to analyse, argue and challenge.

In my leadership development career I also discovered that, throughout history, it’s the ‘outsiders’ who change paradigms.

It wasn’t the candle-makers who developed the electric light bulb.  Henry Ford was a farmer’s boy who adapted assembly line technology to create the first mass produced automobile.  And while Kodak staff had developed digital ideas, the market impetus came from elsewhere.  If organisations have processes that work ‘well-enough’, chances are they will make incremental improvements but not introduce radical change.

After all, it’s too disruptive.  Right?

Today we have a term for these people: disruptors; and the good news is, it’s now a compliment.

Listening to General David Petraeus at a leadership conference recently, he mentioned four revolutions in the global economy:

  1. IT
  2. Energy
  3. Manufacturing
  4. Life Sciences

So if you’re working in one of these sectors, the chances are you’re working alongside ‘disruptive’ people.  And if you don’t lead them well, the chances are even higher that they’ll leave.

I was interviewed about my thoughts on disruptive entrepreneurs recently for an article in The Guardian Small Business Network and these are often the people who have left a corporation behind to start up their disruptive venture.

Of course, I totally understand that someone has to deliver ‘business as usual’.  And this comes to the heart of the matter.  If that is someone’s strength, then help them deliver today’s operational needs to the optimum.

But if it’s not their strength.  If someone has the strategic capability, the design vision, or the creativity to innovate, then either find ways to harness that energy or watch them move on.

And every member of the supervisory, management or leadership team needs to understand how to recognise these strengths and how to harness them.

Here’s four tips for leading your disruptors:

  1. Accept them for who they are
    We use the metaphor of filling a jar with pebbles – you may have a few big rocks to start with, but then there are still gaps. So you use a different size pebble.  And then sand.  And if you really want to ‘fill’ the jar, add water. Different skills, strengths, talents and cultures are all part of who we are and what we contribute to the workplace.  Monochrome is an art form, not a practical way of running today’s workplaces.
  2. Listen to them
    Find out what drives, inspires or motivates all your people; not just your disruptors.
  3. Help them devise their career plan
    So that you and they can see themselves still productively contributing to your organisation in the years ahead.
  4. Observe where and how they are most creative and productive.
    Find ways to optimise peoples’ creativity and productivity – in ways that support delivery today, and innovation tomorrow.
  5. Create working environments for disruptors
    Some companies provide ‘personal project time’, so that ideas can be worked on without the day-to-day interruptions. Others provide creative working environments – where groups can innovate and critique new ideas.

At the Forton Group we help leaders to think differently, build their communication and coaching skills, and lead people more effectively.  From the bottom to the top of the organisations, we believe there’s a wealth of untapped leadership talent, ready to be unlocked in your organisation, to the benefit of your bottom line.  They may be the stabilisers, or the disruptors and it’s the leaders job to support their success today, to bring more success to the organisation tomorrow.

If you’d like to know more, contact me at

Leadership Development and training

The New Era of Abundant Leadership

In the fifteen years I’ve coached and developed leadership programmes I feel like I’ve seen it all. Those tired clichés of ‘here’s this unique thing I did; here’s a cute story. Follow my ten steps and magically you’ll be a leader too…’ Colleagues jokingly call it ‘leadership by lion taming’. I call it unrealistic.

There’s no magic bullet to better leadership. It’s a consistent high-level application of leadership behaviours. It’s about applying emotional intelligence to oneself and with others. It’s about flexing to the situation’s needs; not expecting the situation to bend to a single leadership style. It’s about delivering the kind of leadership needed right now, whatever the challenge.

And that’s why I developed the Leadership Routemap

It works just like the Tube or Metro maps. You find out where you need to go. You work out you’re going to get there. You work with leadership experts to strengthen your talents, address your development areas and coach you to your successful destination.

Let’s look at those high-performance behaviours for a moment. Developed by a research team at Princeton under Prof. Harold Schroder, they fall into four clusters: Thinking; Involving; Inspiring; Achieving

Let’s look at those high-performance behaviours for a moment. Developed by a research team at Princeton under Prof. Harold Schroder, they fall into four clusters: Thinking; Involving; Inspiring; Achieving. That’s pretty neat. They’re things we can all do. We can all get better at.

So what is it about ‘leadership’ that people make so darn difficult? It’s because we have a particular image of who a leader is, that gets in our own way.

  • Women tell me “I’m not a leader” yet they’re running multi-million projects involving hundreds of people.
  • People look to ageing white men as their leadership role models; when what they really admire is power, money or status.
  • People who talk about leaders as ‘heroes’ because they’ve fallen for the Hollywood myth.

It’s time for an era of abundant leadership. Where people at different levels in the organisation step up and take responsibility: men and women. Where the whole team succeeds. Where everyone’s contribution and effort is valued.

Where the secret to leadership development is to support people to do it for themselves. To get consistently better at the behaviours that make a real difference. Without telling them what to do. 

It’s time to let the real leaders emerge. So they fail and try again? They fall over and pick themselves up. So they make an idiot of themselves in front of the team? The combination of learning and persistence are powerful tools in the hands of a leader.

It’s time for the ‘Coaching for Leadership Behaviours’ programme. A blend of ELearning and Live-Learning for experienced coaches looking to build their skills.

Ours was the first – and still the best – leadership coaching programme to be accredited by the International Coach Federation. People love our learning environment. And where better than the relaxed environment of an Italian Summer School to experience it in? Because it doesn’t have to be hard or difficult. We’re deliberately making this a rich, fun, interactive experience – where you get to bring your wisdom and coaching skills to bring out the best in the leaders you coach.

It’s time to let the real leaders emerge. You can be a part of it. Sign up for the Coaching for Leadership Behaviours programme.

Our inaugural programme happens on the 9th/10th September 2017 in Umbria, Italy. Find out more at Be part of the new era of abundant leadership.

Leadership Development and training

How Cognitive Bias gets in the way of your career aspirations

I’m speaking at a Women in Logistics event this week to launch a study which my company, The Forton Group, supports. The idea is to explore how we can help businesses make career transitions easier for women and minorities without having to be “Bolshie” in this traditionally male-dominated sector.

I love the word ‘Bolshie’. It’s got enough humour to neutralise that whole ‘bossy woman’ thing. Because that’s how people have responded in the past – particularly in male-dominated work environments – to intelligent and ambitious women and minorities.

I’ll be talking about subconscious bias – what this is – how we believe it gets in women’s way of stepping up. I’ll also be helping participants to identify signs of bias and what to do about it. I’m looking forward to hearing peoples’ stories and experiences; capturing ideas on what works and what gets in the way.

What’s the theory?

There are three ideas behind the study:

1.   It’s more important to have a behavioural or performance focus in the workplace and then weave in the diversity and inclusion agenda. This means recognising and valuing skills, contribution, outcomes an impacts, over and above our bias and judgements towards someone’s gender, race, religion or culture. The reason behind this is that, paradoxically, when we focus on peoples’ strengths and what they actually deliver, diversity and inclusion levels rise. When we focus on the D&I agenda it increases bias against those ideas.

2.   Bias is about ‘judgement and non-judgement’.  High performance should be about How people notice and judge people by their actions. Yet their personality or our perception of their attitude, beliefs or intentions get judged too. Being seen to be ‘Bolshie’ is simply someone’s judgement on another’s actions – the way they speak or their body language – not what they deliver.

3.   It’s vital to identify the signs of bias. Self-awareness is key; when we see how we are all impacted by conscious and unconscious bias and have tips and techniques for dealing with our biases, then things can change. Trying to change others is a fool’s errand. “Being the change” – as Gandhi said – is the first step.

So what is ‘bias’?

I’ve been reading articles about cognitive bias for years now. And following the Wikipedia article that tracked the increasing number of common biases. When it got to 72 types, I realised – as did many colleagues in the learning and development field – that a simpler approach to the topic was needed.

This is my definition:

“Bias is a quick response, mixed with judgement about a person. It’s caused by information overload and snap judgements. It is over-simplification, and making stuff up, about someone.”

It was great to find that others shared my desire for simplicity. I’m indebted to Buster Benson ( Twitter: @Buster) for sharing his ‘Cognitive Bias’ cheat sheet, which I’ve drawn on. Again, put simply, Buster puts cognitive bias into four quadrants which I summarise as:

  1. The desire to simplify
  2. The desire to make stuff up
  3. The desire to take snap judgements
  4. The feeling of information overload

We simplify because we’re in a hurry. We look for pattern matches. People who fit ‘our pattern’ are friends. Therefore anyone who doesn’t fit our pattern isn’t our friend. Therefore, they must be a threat.

Notice how the pattern match takes us almost instantly to snap judgements, and to making stuff up about someone. When we feel like our brains are in information overload, this is what happens

What works to neutralize bias?

Play a different inner game

Although I’m saying that, at work, we should be judged on our behaviours and performance – not our personality, gender, colour or culture – what needs to shift is on the inside. Fundamentally, we need to reduce brain overload. Seek clarity. Give ourselves enough time to make better decisions.

Here’s some tips – notice how –

  • You judge yourself or others
  • Self-judgement holds you back: fear of looking stupid, or standing out are common.
  • Self-judgement gets transferred to others. What you judge yourself for, you’ll judge others by.

One way to shift your thinking is to look for the positive behaviour. How can you support yourself? How can you support others?

Choose presence over absence. Fears, uncertainty, jealousy, anger are all absences that leave us feeling without control. They fill a dark vacuum where clarity and presence should be.

Three steps

Every-day feedback is invaluable. Not the end of the week. Or the six-monthly or annual appraisal. Every day you meet a colleague or member of the team; ask for, and offer, feedback. It won’t always be accepted, by the way…

At the Forton Group we teach a method of giving and receiving feedback in our classes that supports higher performance and delivery levels, and helps people feel supported; especially in those all-important appraisal conversations.

Other things we can do to support peoples’ self-esteem is to remind them (and ourselves) about their track record. Keep a note of your successes; sharpen up your CV to remind you of your achievements.

Coaching and mentoring are invaluable workplace tools for reducing bias and improving performance. They can be transformational in peoples’ lives too. I recently created the Coaching and the Leadership Routemap™, so that every organisation can benefit from a better coaching/mentoring programme. Find out more at

Next Steps

The ideas set out here are tentative theories. The findings from the Women in Logistics event will form part of our study – the next step of which is to undertake a wider online survey. Our purpose is to uncover ‘how to’ steps for others, and to make these easier for others to walk along. The bigger context is diversity and inclusion: gender issues specifically, yet we do expect to touch on issues like culture, race, sexuality and age too.

If you’re interested in taking part – contact me via LinkedIn or at

talent development mindset

If everyone’s talented, what do you do?


I managed to catch an interesting programme on Radio 4 last week on the topic of ‘Talent’.  If you’re in the UK, you can catch it here.  It’s well worth 30 minutes of your time.

Like the presenter, I love the talent development projects we get involved in.  We get to work with a great mix of enthusiastic and committed people.  Highly intelligent.  Highly motivated.

And then they bump up against the filtering mechanisms and outright biases that get littered in their way, like tacks on the road to success.

Whether it’s a burst tyre, or simply a burst ego, their personal mindset can help them overcome most obstacles.

  • For some people these are the normal setbacks and challenges of life, where mistakes are genuinely seen as ways to learn and grow
  • It’s also becoming clearer that peoples’ inner values and emotional intelligence create tenacity, determination and resilience.
  • Then there’s the qualities that get the job done – the grit, hard work, sticking at it and building skill.

So great.  Mindset is important.

But how do you discern the best talent for the people, project or programme leadership roles?

The notion of ‘War for Talent’ results from a scarcity mindset, fuelled by people who profit from the churn in recruitment.  It over-values some people, and writes off others.  Both routes add to the expense of talent development

And there’s another hidden obstacle.  People of the generation that’s worked hard to pass exam hurdles all their lives, are more likely to be biased against the ‘lifelong learning’ mentality.

The good news is that intelligence is improving – as education becomes better and more widespread.

Educators know that people, young and old, in empowering environments, do better than those where no-one believes in them.

  • If we had a parent and a teacher who believed in us, we were doubly fortunate. Either one is better than none.
  • Today, our bosses and the workplace classroom tutors, facilitators and coaches are the teacher/parent substitutes.

The good news is that workplace learning challenges really add value – measurable in IQ and EQ – in our work lifetimes.

So what is the best way to develop talent?

I know that you have a development mindset.  Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this.  But that development mentality needs to run through your organisation like a stick of rock.

So it’s not enough for the HR or L&D department to identify people with talent.  Their line managers need to believe in them too.

The solution is to develop everyone.  Give everyone challenging things to do and see whether – and how -they succeed.

Just, not only for leadership and management roles.

Everyone can have a Personal Development Plan, and every leader and manager can have the role of developing their people.

The secret is to identify what potential people have, rather than identifying solely for leadership potential.

Some of your people may have a preference for technical excellence alone.  In which case, don’t give them people or projects to organise or lead.

Others may have more general, project management potential.  Great.  Because getting the day to day done is vital.

And some people may just have those crucial leadership qualities that organisations need to succeed beyond the day to day.

Of course, it does require that your organisation stops demanding everyone has to reach the same elevated section of your behavioural or competency framework, and lets people follow the direction that their talent profile points them towards.

In this way you don’t waste the talented resources you do have – you utilise them to their optimum.  Because when you do that, chances are you’ll be tapping into their discretionary effort.  Because they’ll want to take on the challenges that best suit their talents.

And you’ll get better results.

If you want to nurture your team’s talent 2017, just get in touch.


New Years Resolutions

Your guide to New Year’s Resolutions success!

Love them or loathe them – what you need to know about New Year Resolutions

It’s a great party ice-breaker – “What’s your New Year Resolution?” – but how many of your good intentions actually turn into reality?

We’re celebrating 15 years of leadership development and coaching at the Forton Group and this issue comes up every year, without fail.

Because people do want to succeed.  They do want to be happier, healthier, more fulfilled at work, and in relationships that work.

To turn that dream into reality – here’s what you need to know:

  1. Resolve is a finite resource, so tap into your values too.
    Keep your resolve for those make or break moments, like: “no thanks I won’t have another”, or “yes, I will get up now and go for a run”.
    Don’t expect your resolve to have any power at all when you are hungry, thirsty, tired or stressed.  In those moments, simply be kind to yourself.
    There’s something more powerful and enduring than resolve, and it’s your values.  Knowing what’s important about your resolution – why you are doing it – will stand you in good stead as you step towards your goals.
  2. Timing is everything.
    Find out what time of day you’re at your best, and do your highest-value work, or resolution-requiring effort, then.  Don’t go food shopping when you’re tired or hungry (notice the theme here?).
    Exercise at the time of day that gives you energy.  Meditate, pray or do yoga when you feel the most benefit.
  3. Making your life easier is not a crime.
    Where you can automate your life, or create systems that support your goals, do it.
    Whether that’s setting up an automatic transfer into your savings account for your holiday fund, or having a stock of cholesterol-lowering drinks in the fridge; or identifying the best cigarette substitute for your health.
    Invest your time in setting up these systems, so that you don’t have to think twice about taking the actions you need.  If it’s easy to do, you’ll be using less of your valuable resolve.
  4. It’s about what you don’t have around you, as much as what you do have.
    If there’s no chocolate in the house, you won’t eat it.  Which of course, does beg the question about what to do with those well-meaning gifts from friends and family.
    My personal plan is to gift these boxes to the local food bank.  Remove temptation and bring pleasure to others, at the same time.
  5. It’s about who you have around you.
    Many blogs on New Year Resolutions will tell you to socialise your goals.  Which is why we chat about them at parties, of course.
    My extra advice is ‘pick your buddies carefully’.  If you’re trying to go smoke-free, then your smoking or vaping friends aren’t necessarily your best supporters.
    Of course they want the best for you; yet you need to have the best people – for you – to give you the smoke-free support you need.
  6. It’s about breaking your goals down into easy steps.
    Unless you were given a magic wand for Christmas (and I’d check the small print in the guarantee if I were you), there’s no instant solutions.
    If your goals were that easy, you’d have achieved them long ago.
    Break each goal down into easy steps.  Use coloured pens, or sticky notes; anything to make this a fun activity.
  7. Write it down.
    Now you’ve had a think about your goals, write the steps down and answer these questions:

    1. What’s the first thing you need to do?
    2. What’s the easiest thing you do next?
    3. What’s the most challenging thing about your goal?

For this last point, spend time finding ways to overcome the challenges.

  1. Rewrite your goals as positives.
    Many people say “I’m not going to….(have another cigarette, eat that chocolate)”.
    Unfortunately, by repeating this you’re imprinting the idea even further into your mind.
    So state your goal as a positive: “I’m going smoke-free this week.”
  2. Know your triggers.
    So many of our clients are triggered by stressful situations to fall back on their undesirable behaviours.
    Whether it’s salty snacks with a drink before dinner; reaching for a cigarette after a stressful meeting; or falling onto the sofa after the children have gone to bed.
    Knowing what triggers you is an important step to cutting it out.
  3. Make it a habit.
    Going smoke free this week is an example of a great step, positively stated. And this week, and this week.
    Yes, there may be side-effects, which is why it’s important to know your triggers
    And yes, this is where your resolve is needed – or perhaps a lower-risk substitute to support you through your trigger points.

Do what it takes to support your new habit.

  1. Falling off the wagon.
    It happens to us all. I have met people with an iron will and determination to achieve their goals.  Yet most of us are all-too-human.
    A single step backwards isn’t failure; it’s just a slip.
    When we pick ourselves up, forgive ourselves and remind ourselves of what’s important about the goals, will help us to move forward in the direction we really want to go.
  2. This is about you.
    This is your life; each moment is precious and no one can live it for you.
    I know how trite this can sound, but when we combine ownership and control of our own choices, with the support and encouragement of those who care for us, wonderful things can happen.
    Those dreams can, and do, become a reality.

And if you need extra support in achieving your goals, a coach can really help make that extra difference.  Whether it’s a work ambition, or a personal goal, you can achieve your New Year Resolution.

Here at Forton we have coaches around the world, on tap in multiple languages to help you achieve your goals.

From all our colleagues, we wish you a happy holiday season and here’s to making 2017 your best year ever.