Do you know a David Brent?

David Brent is a cultural icon of how not to do leadership. Deluded. Irritating. Arrogant. Sexist. Foolish and above all utterly ignorant to the fact that he was totally incompetent. Ring any bells?

Even though he is a caricature of many business leaders, it is still astounding to me that in many well known and successful companies we still find ‘Brentitus’ sweeping the board rooms and plush offices up and down the country.

It’s about time as business leaders we stop, look around and take stock because the world continues to change at a rate of knots, and we will soon be left in the dark ages of the 1980s leader if we don’t act. With this in mind I want to introduce the 5 core leadership qualities that I believe are critical to bringing us back to a level of ability that truly means business in the modern age.

Humility – the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.” – Andrew Carnegie

Humility is something that is almost impossible to learn but is one of the major factors in influence and inspiration. We all want to be led by someone who knows that we are the most important element within the whole process of succeeding and they will inspires us to find our best selves. Gone are the days of shouting and screaming orders – thank goodness. Bullying in the workplace has surely had its day. Today is more about empowering others to achieve and grow plus understanding that employee engagement is more important than ever.

Visionary – thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom.

New age leadership needs people to know where the organisation is going today, this month, this year and beyond. They need to be able to bring this vision to life in the form of a mission or purpose plus a simple set of strategic actions that everyone can relate to and feel compelled to deliver in each and every moment. Put aside tasks and lists. We need to be outcome focused and action orientated. Lets make company culture at the forefront of our thinking.

Engaging – charming and attractive

“An organisation’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” — Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric

Employees need to believe in something and someone. They don’t come to work simply to do a job. They enjoy being connected to something that has a purpose. They like friendships that are formed and the colleagues they share their purpose with. And they demand a level of flexibility in their working practices. Smart leaders create movements – not jobs. They encourage cultures of learning – not outdated training course where in the first week we are crammed together in a over heated box and disengaged within the first 20 mins.

The world now allows us to work from anywhere so the 9 – 5 desk job is dead. Remote working is here so embrace it! Modern leadership is knowing how to leverage trust and be trustworthy. It’s about knowing how to be mindful. Its also knowing how to lead in these new virtual worlds. Leave your fear of change at the door.

Agile – able to move quickly and easily.

Allow freedom in your business. Micro managing simply does nothing but irritate and frustrate the very people you are supposed to be inspiring. Empower people by aligning the new culture to their personal role and showing them how vital they are to the big picture. Give them autonomy and allow space for failure. Yes – that’s correct – I did say failure. Success cannot happen without falling a little. Being flexible enough to know that to learn something we need the confidence to try first and then use creativity and grit to pull through.

New age leadership is also about knowing that we can no longer just force people to focus and work-hard, especially when there are so many distraction around us. If you stop people using YouTube and Facebook you are removing major opportunities for staff to learn and grow. Become more time constructive – not time destructive. Take stuff away and people will still find a way plus they’ll be less inclined to tell you.

The modern workplace should be designed to allow people to find new ideas and solve problems. Give them space and yes – a sense of freedom.

Collaborative – produced by or involving two or more parties working together.

People want to work with you – not for you.

Lets bring our team members and departments together. Communication is now more fracutured than ever as we rely on emails, texting and whatsapp. These shortcuts mean we are failure ourselves and above all the relationships we need to build, be it with our people or our customers. We rush around thinking that time is the problem when actually it’s our communication and strategy. If we could actually sit down and plan where our time should go, then we could find the discipline to make each day count. We need to invest in more agile learning and coaching so that our skills and awareness can improve. We need to review our approach to meetings and not see packing each day with 5 or 6 group disucssions as productive. Don’t just talk at bewildered individuals who are looking at every opportunity ot leave the room so they can go and do some ‘real work’.

Create tribes of winners. Individuals who like to talk the talk and walk the walk. People who understand consequences and how these can impact on their colleagues.

The good news is that there is so much opportunity out there. To find new talent. To gain access to new ideas and to learn anything. To meet interesting people and to expand your social circle. To create more awareness and build your cognitive muscles. The world is now almost limitless so lets change it for the better.

As you read this article and feel you want to know more about how to adopt some of these qualities into your leadership programme for next year and beyond, then feel free to join my Facebook groups Oliver Thompson Training and mindsethacks for entrepreneurs and business owners or simply get in touch.

Pursuing the Impossible

Roger Bannister is a true legend of sport and specifically someone who utilised failure as a powerful force towards greater things. At the 1952 Olympics he was a hot favourite – but failed miserably. And he was gutted – so much so that he spent the next two months deciding whether or not to quit running.

In the end, he decided to prove to himself, and to everyone else, that he could do better. He decided to use his pain and humiliation to drive himself forward and push his limits.

Read his compelling story here

It’s not working out! Keep trying

The inventors and aviation pioneers ORVILLE & WILBUR WRIGHT battled depression and family illness before starting the bicycle shop that would lead them to experimenting with flight. After numerous attempts at creating fling machines, several years of hard work and countless failed prototypes, the brothers finally created a plane that could get airborne and stay there.

Business Brains know that our mental landscape and what we believe can limit our effectiveness, whether as communicators, leaders or, equally, as parents, coaches or teachers. These limiting ‘maps’, if you like, may have been created from experiences we’ve had.

Some maps don’t quite work out how you would hope they will. They were painful or embarrassing so they shape how you anticipate things will be from now on. Success doesn’t often happen immediately. In fact most Business Brains know that everyone makes mistakes and experiences setbacks.

But you have a choice. You can…

a) think like an resourceful adult – give up and decide that you are now incapable or

b) think like a baby learning to walk – be free from negative mapped experiences and persist until you succeed. Babies treat each effort as a learning experience. To achieve their success winners also explore their results, they try to understand what they have learnt and apply it to every new attempt. These experiences are simply feedback and therefore if treated as such have immense benefits.

Questions: What have you failed at but persisted with so you eventually achieved what you set out to do?

Name three things you did specifically to make this happen?




Want to learn more about resilience and grit? Then simply visit our website and book on our programme click here

Upping Your Business Game

Upping Your Business Game: Bringing Leadership into 2017

Core Growth Topic 1: Increased attention on curiosity.

Curiosity has topically been a leadership trend throughout 2016 and will continue into 2017. The beauty about curiosity is that it fosters creativity and innovation; it incites opportunity and sparks growth potential. To stay competitive, companies must be willing and able to move out of the complacency of success that defined them today and continually question the status quo so they can create a better tomorrow. Organisational curiosity does just that—it feeds people’s innate desire to know more, and when you know more, you can be more by doing more.

The Difference between leadership and management explained

The top 4 causes of stress and how to overcome their effects

I don’t believe I’ve met anyone who at one point in their life has not experienced stress. It can show up and be experienced in different ways and if you’re aware enough you may be able to feel it in a certain part of your body.

Here’s the interesting science stuff

When faced with a stressful situation, the human body responds with the fight-or-flight response. The sympathetic nervous system reacts, resulting in symptoms such as a racing heart beat and increased sweating. After the stress goes away, the parasympathetic nervous system activates, returning the body to normal. Certain events cause high levels of stress in people, such as major life changes.

There are four common places stress comes up for most people that you need to be aware of.

Work: A person’s job can be a source of stress, especially because of the amount of time spent there each week. Evidence states that an overwhelming workload or a difficult boss can increase the level of stress. If a person does not like her job, has a long commute or has altercations with her co-workers, she can experience even more stress. Apparently getting fired from a job is the eighth most stressful life event.

Relationships: Strained relationships can add stress to a person’s life. Divorce is the second most stressful life event on the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, followed by marriage separation. Abusive relationships can add even more stress. However, positive relationships can result in stress as well. Marriage is the seventh most stressful life event on the Holmes-Rahe list, and marriage recollection is the ninth.

Life Changes: Certain major changes in a patient’s life can cause large amount of stress. Note that both positive life changes, such as a pregnancy, and negative life changes, such as the death of a loved one, can result in stress. The death of a spouse is the most stressful life event on the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, and the death of a close relative is the fifth. While a positive event for many people, retirement is considered the tenth most stressful event.

Some environmental factors can cause or add to a person’s life of stress. Two environmental factors, noise and excessive light, can induce stress. These environmental stressors can be worse if they are not controllable.

Self-Generated: Stress also can be caused by a person’s inner thinking. For example, unrealistic expectations and perfectionism can make events in which a person did not realize his ideals even more stressful. Pessimism and negative self-talk also can cause stress

So, with all this stress around – what can you do to keep calm and positive when everything is working against you? Try mindfulness practice

Mindfulness is a very effective tool for creating inner peace and balance. Mindfulness calls us to live in the present moment, which is the only moment we have. It is a form of non-judgmental, relaxed awareness.

When we are mindful, we are purposely paying attention to the current moment, from our emotions to our environment. Through mindfulness, we learn to allow things to simply be, rather than trying to control, resist, or fix everything around us.

Here are few key elements to cultivating mindfulness in your life.

1) Learn to observe rather than judge.

Most of us operate from a place of worry, anxiety, and judgment of ourselves and others. This state of mind is preventing us from accepting, receiving and enjoying life. Observing or witnessing teaches us to relax, accept, and drop judgment. As a result, our state of being sifts to a more peaceful one.

2) Notice your “reptilian brain.”

Our reptilian brain is part of our defensive self. It is relentlessly commenting on everything we come in contact with. It pushes us to file things in drawers according to categories. We have the “good” drawers and “bad” drawers in our minds. There, we collect our likes and dislikes.

As we go through life, we are constantly bouncing between rejection and attachment, jumping from the future to the past and back again. This reactive way of being does not allow for observation, awareness and peace.

It is most important to begin to observe this kind of obsessive and compulsive thinking. If you are a meditator, you know how hard it is to relax the reptilian brain element. It takes practice. But the first step is to notice it and identify the action and impact of it. As your mindfulness practice grow, you can learn to slow and relax your mind.

3) Learn a healthy detachment from the inner drama.

The twin of the reptilian brain is emotional drama. Emotional drama is the inner turmoil of contradicting, conflicting, and painful emotions that swirl around and torment us. This can happen in relation to a past or present event. Most of the time, emotional drama touches on pool of unresolved emotional experiences of the past.

What about you?

How do you deal with pressure, stress and anxiety? Why not learn how to activate tools you already have to make yourself more resourceful and happier.

Join other like-minded professionals, coaches, business owners committed to activating their business brain and ready to start the journey to personal greatness.

How to overcome the fear of failure

The fear of failure is a crippling vice that keeps many from starting and achieving their personal goals. Our past, the perception of others, the wrong advice giving by those who mean us well but don’t have our ambition and much more.

All of these in one word form a belief. A belief that either enables and dis-ables our willingness and commitment to act. I won’t pretend that for everyone what I’m about to step will be easy or if applied could change your reality and experience from this moment. That’s a choice only you can make.

I want to share a litte on the power of self talk.

In order to be successful you have to also believe that you are capable.To tell yourself that what you want is possible. To create purpose within your own thinking.

Let’s imagine now. Who is it today that you most want to be in order to do the things you need to do and achieve the results you want? Hold that picture, words or image as you read the rest of this article.

We all know that self-talk can be disempowering especially if your own commentary includes phrases like…

I wish I could….

I don’t know how…

I can’t believe that this….

Why doesn’t it….

But I……

Everyone who has achieved a level of success has faced adversity and obstacles: no support, lack of funding, poor resources, mental or physical pain, poor working conditions, strong opponents to your ideals, mental fatigue. The only way you can succeed in the face of these difficulties is to have powerful self-belief, drive, passion, focus and self-worth. Positive self-talk is one tool that is vital to making things happen.

Changing your self-talk

There are three steps you can add to your mental tool kit to changing your self-talk so it works for you rather than against you:

1.    Identify. Self-talk is often so habitual that people are unaware that they are doing it at all. If you are going to change your self-talk, you need to be aware of these thoughts as they happen. Take some time to notice the things you say to yourself during your day.

2.    Assess. Is it negative or positive? If it is negative, ask yourself these questions:

  • What evidence is there to support this thought?
  • What evidence is there against it?
  • Is this the way I would talk to a friend who was in my position?
  • What are the positive ways of viewing this situation?
  • Am I really keeping things in perspective?

Even if there is some validity to this thought, how useful is it spending your energy thinking about it?

3.    Change. If you decide that your self-talk is unhelpful or wrong, replace the negative thoughts with a more positive alternative.

Changing self-talk requires some time and practice, since our ways of thinking tend to be quite ingrained. You will probably need to keep working on the three step process above for some time before it becomes second nature.

What about you?

What thoughts have you changed that have enabled you to do great things?

What image of person did you create earlier?