Where did that extra energy come from?

February 22, 2016

Saturday afternoon I went out running with my youngest son Jonar, who’s 8. We got a bit lost round the woods – I’m not known for my sense of direction despite a Geography degree! – and ended up going quite a bit longer than I’d planned and than I thought he would be able to manage.

Understandably he was flagging as we headed for home. Quick check on the maps app – 1.4 miles from home. It’s raining. I have a very tired and increasingly unhappy child on my hands whom I have to coax home before he gets too cold.


The obligatory post-run selfie!

Something really interesting happened. A short way into that part of our run, Jonar recognised where we were. I had been saying it’s not that far and giving out all the right “You can do it” encouragement, but it wasn’t working too well.

Suddenly it all changed! When he knew where we were, he was on familiar ground, energy flowed in quite a remarkable way. We ran that last mile or so faster than I would have comfortably done it on my own! I was genuinely amazed.

Three lessons here that I think are important in how we lead ourselves and our teams in a way that galvanises that extra energy and effort that can make the difference between winning (or surviving) and not:

  • Being on familiar territory: create landmarks, familiar habits, systems and ways of operating that breed confidence even in challenging times.
  • Knowing exactly how far there is to go: define the end, or at least a definite staging post on the journey towards the end so people understand there’s an end in sight rather than just plodding on endlessly.
  • Make a big deal about getting there: celebrate small victories, take a picture, have a meal. It makes a huge difference.

Have a great week!




Learning from Sir Terry

February 2, 2016

It was sad to hear of the death of Sir Terry Wogan last Sunday. Often someone in the public eye passes on and I find that their undoubtedly significant contribution to the world somehow passed me by. Not so with Sir Terry.

Memorable Eurovision nights, not for the songs, but for the genius commentary! I got into Radio 2 well before my time, entirely down to the breakfast show host, Mr Wogan.

As I listened to and read the many tributes earlier this week, one thing stood out to me and is extremely insightful when it comes to leadership.

Everyone said Terry would brighten a room. His cheerful demeanour. His humour. His self-deprecation. His genuine interest in people. All these made him a delight to have around and person of significant influence.

It’s a simple but profound lesson. Learning from Sir Terry the simple truth that leaders who foster a cheerful, positive and humorous presence – not taking themselves too seriously – will have a hugely positive impact upon the feel of the entire workplace, group, team or company. Work is serious, but not everything needs to be taken seriously!

Making space for public praise

May 7, 2015

This morning I was with a company in the Midlands for the course end presentations / graduation of a group of managers and team leaders who were completing the LMI Effective Leadership Development programme.

For the last 18 weeks we have been meeting fortnightly for two hours, reviewing each set of lesson material, sharing goals, tracking progress, dealing with challenges and generally facilitating the process of attitude and behaviour change that leads to performance improvement. Some of the results shared by the participants were incredible – reports delegated that frees the manager up two hours of valuable time each week, 50% reduction in error on the production line, improved atmosphere in the warehouse that is noticeable to every visitor…I could go on but that’s not the main point of this blog.

After each participant shared their own development through the programme and gave examples of how they have applied new ideas, their line manager made some comments. It would be easy to think ‘old school’ and be worried about what your manager might say if you were in this situation. As it happens, each of the line managers present has also been through this same LMI programme and understood the power of public praise!

Their comments were incredibly affirming as each one shared how their direct report had, through the duration of the programme, made huge progress and achieved tangible, significant victories that have resulted in better performance of their teams.

This kind of thing doesn’t happen every day, but it’s incredibly powerful when it does. Each graduate walked out feeling a hundred feet tall – it feels good to receive honest praise and affirmation – but there’s something else I’ve seen happen when this takes place….the relationship between manager and their team member is deepened, trust built and hence their ability to work together effectively and harmoniously in the future is strengthened.

I’m not saying public praise should be an everyday occurrence – but it should be regular. How can you make space for this in a meaningful way? If you do, watch the impact it will have on your team!

Too many chiefs?

March 3, 2015

A quick reflection on what I heard loads over various media outlets last weekend. You may have heard it too if you’re into sports, or just happen to have the radio or TV on at the wrong time! The lament is a familiar one:

“This team needs more leaders!”

One pundit was going on about how when England won the Rugby World Cup in 2003, that was a team full of leaders. Another was adamant that the current England cricket team was ‘sadly lacking leaders’.

On the one hand, no team needs a whole load of ‘classic’ leaders – multiple people trying to set the direction, establish rules, assert their opinions above others. That’s where we get the common refrain “Too many chiefs….”. Too many people wanting things their way and not enough people being team players.

So what do we mean when we say that more leaders are required? It is something right at the heart of my work with organisations and core to the LMI philosophy. We assert that:

“The best organisations develop every person to become a leader. Leadership is not a position. It is a way of thinking, believing and behaving.”

This, and what I think the sports pundits are getting at, is about the attitude and character displayed by team members. Leaders take responsibility. They roll their sleeves up and put a shift in when the odds are stacked against them. They handle disappointment well and can maintain a positive outlook. They make it their role to encourage their teammates. They find solutions to problems rather than complain. They innovate. The do what it takes to get results. They are great people to be around.

Every team does, in fact, need more of these kind of leaders! This is Personal Leadership. It’s not the role you play. It’s the person you are.

Trust me, I’m a good kid!

April 3, 2014

Yesterday evening we’re sat round the dinner table, all five of us, having a chat about the day as we often do. Eden, who is 10, has just had a couple of friends knock at the front door: “Can Eden play out?”

We’ve said yes to this a couple of times, and sometimes we’ve said no.It’s a tricky challenge for any parent. How much freedom do you give and have much do you exercise control and parental authority?

We got into a conversation about how Eden might get more freedom and have mum and dad say yes to her more often, and also extend the boundaries of her freedom so she can travel further and stay out longer.

She’s a smart kid and she got it quickly.

“If I keep to the rules when I am allowed out (get back at the agreed time…call if plans change etc), then you’ll trust me more and therefore I’ll get more freedom.”

Spot on!

It’s exactly the same in life, work and business for all of us. If we deliver on what we promise, or what is asked of us, we build trust.That gains us more credibility and ultimately responsibility. If we want to expand the scope of what we do, build trust. There’s no point saying the equivalent of “I’m a good kid, trust me!” – we have to earn it.

This is true in relationships with our customers, the teams we lead and manage, our own managers and leaders…as well as our friends and family.

A few years ago I was hosting a leadership seminar and the speaker, who was extremely experienced as a senior leader in a major corporation said something I’ve never forgotten:

“The most important thing to being an effective leader is simply to always do what you say you’re going to do.”

Challenging words. Extremely important words.

3 years, 8 months…and I never knew

August 5, 2013

“I’ve been working here three years and eight months and I never knew how smart he is and what a fantastic job he does.”

Its The West Wing, Series 4, Episode 2. Friends of my wife and I recently got us into this gripping political drama set in the West Wing of the White House. You don’t need to know the story or the characters for this to make sense, but its a great series and well worth checking out.

Josh Lyman is the Deputy Chief of Staff. He, along with a couple of other senior White House staffers, has been stranded on a trip and so Sam Seaborne, Deputy Communications Director has to step in to cover Josh’s role which is to be with the President in his various meetings throughout the day. The meetings come thick and fast, and the variety of issues he is expected to know everything about is just astounding. Sam, who is usually pretty sure of himself, is out of his depth.

This day in his colleague and very good friend’s shoes is a real wake-up call for Sam. He suddenly got a whole new respect for what his close workmate does and realised the pressures they work under and the daily challenges they had to overcome.

The analogy is simple. Empathy is not ‘what would I do if I were them?’, or even ‘what do I think about the job that they do?’

What does it actually feel like to be them, to sit where they sit, to face what they face and to overcome what they overcome? What are their challenges, their hopes, their goals? What is it that obstructs and frustrates them…and why?

Such contemplation could transform many a team…a workplace…a relationship…a family. Worth a try.

Why I feel so passionate about…

July 17, 2013

OK, here’s a bit of an outburst about why I am such an advocate of the LMI Effective Personal Management course that I run and why I have decided to launch such a ridiculously good offer on this in order to unashamedly entice sensible, sane, intelligent and wise people like yourself to take the plunge and come try it out!

It’s an age-old adage that something everyone has in common is time. We all have the same amount of the stuff:

– 24 hours a day

– 168 hours per week

– 365 days each year

As someone arrived on a recent Effective Personal Management course they announced, “I did a time management course 15 years ago so I’m not sure how valuable this is going to be.”

That same person left four and half hours later with a very different thought about the value of the day. They had loved it!

You see, using your time well to accomplish this or that task using up as few of your 1440 minutes quota for that day as possible is all well and good, but who’s to say that it was the right task to be doing in the first place!

That’s where the focus must shift from time management to effective personal management, and that’s where this course comes in. It describes ‘personal management’ as:

taking personal responsibility to do the right things, the right way, in order of priority.”

It is so incredibly easy to actively blame others for what we have or haven’t done, or passively just accept that things will always be the same, and important, valuable things in our lives will never get done because of the myriad of other stuff that’s always leaping ahead in the manic scrabble for our attention.

Effective personal management is about taking time out, away from the pressure and intensity of your work, your family life, the 1001 jobs to do round the house…whatever it is that engulfs you… and starting to think about the following questions:

* what is most important to me in life?

* what do I want from my business / career?

* what are my dreams and goals?

* what activities are going to get me to achieve those dreams and goals?

* at work, what are my most important ‘high payoff’ activities and how can I work smarter rather than just throw more hours at it?

* how much time do I want to protect, at all costs, for myself, my health, my husband / wife / partner, my kids, my friends?

* what contribution do I want to make to my community? to the world? and what am I going to do about that this week?

* how much rest, and what kind of rest, do I need to function at my best?

Throwing these kinds of questions at you is easy. Anyone can do it. You’ve probably heard it before, tried some of, started out with good intentions, succeeded a little, failed a lot! That at least would be my autobiography of many years.

If only someone could help me with a way of keeping on going with these great ideas. Is there not some system out there that is more than just the latest tasks and to-do list app? Something which can really help me stop, think, plan, set goals, review goals, schedule time for the most important things, and the most important people, at work and at home?

I could write reams and reams more, but I think you get the picture. I love the LMI Effective Personal Management course because it not only looks at what you should be doing, it also provides you with the tools – a tried and tested personal success system – to start and keep on doing the right things on a monthly and daily basis to achieve the success that you desire.

For £49, with a 100% money-back guarantee, that’s gotta be worth a go!

There it is, I’ve spilt the beans with the offer. My usual price for the Effective Personal Management course is £389 + Vat. My offer is £49 + Vat  for the first person from any organisation to attend.

I mentioned the guarantee. Another client said to me this week, “I wish I’d come across this ten years ago, Nick.” I said I felt exactly the same myself. Therefore, in order to potentially swing just one more person to take up the challenge and come along, I’m doubling the guarantee. If you come along to one of these courses for £49 and don’t feel it was a fantastic use of your time and money, I’ll refund £98!

Find out more about upcoming dates and venues in Coventry and Warwickshire via the event booking page:


…and drop me a line on n.howes@lmi-uk.com to request your personal £340 off promo code.

That’s all. Rant over. Have a great day!