Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Free networking & boosting event

Spring clean your CV and find new business opportunities!

Many independent consultants, management development advisers, trainers, researchers and other knowledge workers are feeling the pinch right now. There are far fewer business opportunities in both private and public sectors than there were a few years ago. Moreover there are many people who have recently entered the market and set themselves up as independent advisers / consultants etc. Times are tough.

We have arranged this FREE day to help you stay (financially) afloat and (psychologically) keep your head above water. The focus is on revitalising your CV, taking a fresh look at your business development plans and exchanging ideas on where to find business opportunities. If you are like us, you will have realised the value of having someone take an objective look at your CV and other aspects of your business – and ask you some questions and give you some straight, supportive feedback.

We are planning to hold an informal workshop for seasoned self-employed, local consultants, researchers and management development professionals to provide a CV ‘carousel’ where each person's CV (and other plans) will be reviewed by at least two others to offer advice and ideas about improving content and also discuss possible areas of work that you may not have previously considered. And of course there will be time and space to network, grumble about business and share ways to keep on keeping on!

We have booked a village hall in North Buckinghamshire on 30th March from 10.30 to 14.30.

Please contact Marion Cole ( or me ( to find out more and, indeed, book a place. The session is free although we would appreciate any contribution you can make to covering the cost of hall hire. We will provide some milk, instant coffee and tea bags. Please either bring your lunch with you or there is a good pub just across the road from the hall we have booked. Thanks.

We look forward to seeing you. 

And please do forward this link to people in your networks who you think might be interested also. Thank you.

Marion & Jon

Saturday, 18 February 2012

A Chronicle of power corrupting?

Chronicle is the latest in that sci-fi genre which concerns people gaining super powers and then documenting the consequences. They don't usually have happy endings. This film is about three American lads who discover something mysterious and then use their new telekinetic powers to do miraculous things like building a Lego space ship. It then gets more complex. It is reasonably gripping but I won't be buying the DVD to see it again. But if I come across Chronicle 2 on ITV 3 in a few years time, I might watch it out of curiosity.

So does power always corrupt? Just as in life, there is no clear answer in the movie. It can do both.

The phrase "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely" is often quoted on its own. But the second part is less well known: "Great men are almost always bad men". (Attributed to John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton: with more information here) The second part could well be a nod towards believers in an omnipotent God who might challenge the idea of absolute power corrupting all beings absolutely.

Or is it the other way around: do you have to be bad to gain power? 

Leadership brings power by its very nature. I would assert that all leaders need to understand the power and influence that they wield. 

So my questions to you: 

How well do you understand the intricacies of the power you have? 

How do you know that you are using your power wisely and fairly? 

What do you have to stay hold of and give up in order to use your power well?

Friday, 17 February 2012

Finding an eye in the storm

Predictions by public bodies and economists warn that 2012 will be even more austere than 2011. The Economist Intelligence Unit ( is predicting with very high probability and very high impact that the global economy will fall into recession. They declare that “lacking the scope for more fiscal stimulus, developed countries could level off into a lengthy period of deflation and stagnation”.

The skies are darkening: there are turbulent and stormy times ahead. At moments like this, all leaders make a choice. Leaders can choose gloom and (to continue the metaphor) batten down the hatches as the bad weather approaches. Other leaders will choose to look beyond the clouds and acknowledge that whilst this will be a time for careful action, it is still a time to look forward. And it is in these moments that these great leaders paint pictures of what can and must be.

Pictures are very powerful. It is said that when Turner painted “Slavers throwing overboard the dead and dying — typhon coming on" he was assisting the abolitionist cause. Equally there are many pictures that have inspired people to do more than they would ever thought possible. And these can be word pictures as well: “we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches...”

My suggestion is that it is your job to paint a picture (in words or colours or both) of where you expect your team and organisation to be once the storm has passed. It is our view that having such a palpable vision will help you and your colleagues weather the storm and emerge stronger on the other side.

What is in your picture?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Tender: Create amazing leaders in a day!

Advanced Leadership Skills Training Course

Blankpolis City Council invites organisations to provide a quotation for delivering a one day “Advanced Leadership Skills” for senior managers in the ‘Making a Positive Difference’ Directorate (for 26 delegates).

Learning outcomes: by the end of the workshop delegates will
  • Refresh current skills.
  • Be able to develop their empathy, trust, strategic insight, communication, candour, resilience, patience, ethics, personal hygiene and time management skills.
  • Move to higher level leadership skills to engage, influence and/or reach agreement or compromise without upsetting anyone including local councillors, community activists and the Daily Mail.
  • Use more creative leadership techniques (including juggling, high wire walking, appropriate clowning about and diving into a bucket from 20m high).
  • Handle awkward situations such as having to be candid and self-disclosing about leadership with a group of relative strangers in a crowded room.
  • Present confidently to large or small groups, using videoed role play with detailed feedback for each delegate.
  • Lead with style, flair and presence (via intravenous transfusion).
  • Practise a range of techniques.
OK. I admit it, this is not a real tender specification. But it is fairly closely based upon one I saw today asking for a one day course in advanced facilitation skills for sixteen people. Speaking as someone who has spent most of his adult life honing his facilitation skills (and I am still learning loads), the advert roused me (shall we say) to create this parody. 

But it also saddens me as well. Here is a large public authority, needing to help some key people become better facilitators but all that the budgets will allow is a one day course... In my view, more than a quart is being poured into a pint pot. 

And in the end, will value for money be achieved? Resources are tight I know. But, is this the answer?

What do you think?

Sunday, 5 February 2012


There has been a rather irritating trend on Twitter of late to list the day of the year in this format. I am really not sure why. It feels rather intrusive - as if we counting out the year already. And we have only just begun it.

This is especially irritating to me as I made a resolution at New Year: I have resolved to live life in 2012 in a way that means it doesn't zip by in the way that 2011 did! I am not sure how to go about doing this. But one thing for sure - I do not intend to count the days of the year out!

In this context, I came across an interesting article the other day which was referred to me by someone who was on a leadership programme that I ran last year (thank you Chris). The article can be found by clicking here. It is called:

Making our minds more agile - The implications of 'thinking fast and slow' (written by Daniel Kahneman)

It is a great article and I commend it to you.

One of the messages I took away from it was the importance of both kinds of thinking. Yes there are times when leaders need to think fast, on their feet, intuitively. But there are also times when we need to go a little bit slower and think in longer loops. The article says we also need to think about our thinking too.

So maybe this is part of my solution to ensuring this year does not rattle by... I need to make time to think slowly, to mull, to cogitate and chew the fat. Sometimes I don't give myself enough time to do this...

Do you?

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Ten questions for potential police and crime commissioners

Guardian Public published my article on this a couple of days ago - and you can read it here:

If you would like to respond to the article (as the Guardian article is not open to comments) - please post them below. I, and perhaps others, will be interested to read what you say. Thanks