Practical insights for leaders

Positive Conflict

Relationship issues and conflict are frequently tabled by leaders in our coaching sessions. If one looks at best practices from hostage negotiation, mediation, or psychotherapy, the building blocks of reaching a mutually agreeable resolution are often the same; active listening, showing empathy, staying curious, and withholding judgement. Easier said than done, but a learned skill nonetheless…


VIDEO: Building a Psychologically Safe Workplace | Amy Edmondson | TEDx (11 mins)

Brilliant quick video. Amy Edmondson’s ground-breaking research on high-performing teams found that the most effective teams had “psychological safety”, which she describes as a belief that it is OK – indeed expected – to speak up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes. This relates to the openness of the team climate. How do you build psychological safety? 1) Frame work as a learning opportunity not an execution problem, 2) Acknowledge your own fallibility, 3) Model curiosity – ask questions. 

ARTICLE: Changing Someone’s Mind | Adam Grant | NY Times (10 mins)

Regular readers will know that I’m a huge fan of the organisational psychologist, Adam Grant. In this NY Times opinion piece, Grant looks at the ‘science’ of changing someone else’s mind.  Instead of trying to force other people to change by preaching and prosecuting (“I’m right, you’re wrong!”), you’re better off helping them find their own intrinsic motivation to change. You do that by ‘interviewing’ them – i.e. asking open-ended questions and listening carefully – and holding up a mirror so they can see their own thoughts more clearly.

PODCAST: Preventing Alzheimer’s | Dr Chaterjee & Dr Lisa Mosconi (50 mins)

Did you know that the onset of Alzheimer’s begins in mid-life (your 40’s or 50’s), that the disease affects twice as many women as men, and that one-third of cases could be prevented as a result of lifestyle changes (i.e. diet, exercise, stress management, and sleep)? In this podcast, neuroscientist Dr Lisa Mosconi details how the latest brain imaging techniques show the onset of Alzheimer’s c.20 years before the symptoms of cognitive impairment and memory loss are apparent and, importantly, what we can do to prevent it. Promoting this message is a subject close to my heart. I watched Alzheimer’s steal my mother’s final years. 



Delegation can trip up even experienced leaders. Firstly, delegation is not uniformly good, especially if your team does not know what to do and how to do it right.  Your focus should not be on delegating more; it should be on delegating more effectively. With effective delegation, accurately diagnosing what your colleagues need from you is essential. 

A process to delegate with INPUT: 

Go through a direct report’s key areas of responsibility and ask: 

  • Are there areas that I am doing too much? Get too involved?
  • Are there areas that I could do more? Where you need more guidance or help from me?

If you don’t ask these questions, you might be delegating without input – and literally without a compass. You will be flying blind.


Lesson 1o1 from conflict mediation… find common ground.