top of page

Ordinary Leadership Week Note: Keep leadership simple

Week of 22.09.23

What leadership themes stood out this week

Keeping coaching and leadership simple.

The idea that coaching requires complicated questions is something I’ve always pushed back on. I think most coaches do. You don’t need a long list of questions, just a focus. Coaching should be about helping the other person surface ideas and make their own decisions about where they put their attention. It’s the same when you are playing a leadership role; your job is to help your team or the people around you decide where to place their attention. The GROW framework is a tool often talked about in coaching, and in reading Coaching for Performance this week, I was reminded of how simple it can be – just four broad questions: 1) What do you want? 2) What is happening? 3) What could you do? 4) What will you do?

Building teams where everyone can speak up.

It is easy to agree with the statement but much harder to do in practice. I keep thinking about team power dynamics and how easy it is to make people feel they can’t speak up. You might have a physical environment that creates separation, or you may speak over someone or discount their opinion, diminishing their willingness to engage. I liked the HBR summary of building a culture where everyone can speak up by Timothy R. Clark. The key points were: Prioritize unconditional inclusion, making it clear that everyone’s view matters. Don’t cut people off. Give everyone airtime. Give people permission to disagree – take visible action when you make a mistake or acknowledge when disagreement helped get to a better outcome. Recognize employees who speak up – acknowledge everyone for speaking up. Creating an open environment is critical to team success, yet it is much harder than just repeating a mantra.

Three interesting ideas/quotes from the week

#culturechange - “Values clashes require leadership of the many, not the few.” From When Everyone Leads, it’s a critical point if we want to address the fundamental challenges we face in the world today.

#focus "Arguably, the most important skill is controlling your attention. This goes beyond merely avoiding distractions. The deeper skill is finding the highest and best use for your time, given what is important to you. More than anything else, controlling your attention is about being able to figure out what you should be working on and identifying what truly moves the needle." - James Clear.

#teamdynamics Stop playing the blame game – a nice series of blogs from Fearless Culture on how to get your teams to stop playing the blame game. Here ( and here (

Helpful leadership links from the week

This is a good, interesting article on AI and large language models. The key point, I think, is that we don't know exactly what these models do. "Naive anthropomorphism can give us an inflated view of what they can do. It can also lead us to underestimate them by blinding us to complex and inhuman ways they have of being intelligent." It's well worth a read if you want to understand AI a bit better.

A good podcast on creating new narratives in order to create change. In short, the story of your business needs to change if you want to create change.

The secret to leading highly collaborative teams, is to focus on understanding the people you work with.


Let's connect.


If you found this blog engaging, have questions about ordinary leadership or want to chat about leadership in general, it would be great to connect.


I set aside two weekly hours to make new connections and renew old ones. We have half an hour to discuss whatever you want - how we could work together, your projects and ideas, or something else. It's space for connection.

You can book a slot here, and there is more background here.

bottom of page