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Business Leadership

My journey of leadership beyond the job title

You have the leadership title, yet do you see yourself as a leader or feel you are being the leader you know you can be?

Take a moment to think about what your leadership title means to you.

I’ll be honest, I admit that when I started my career, it was all about getting to the top as fast as I could.  A big driver for this was feeling the need to prove that I was good enough – to myself and my family.

I was chasing the job title and the salary.  I wasn’t thinking about who else this involved. I just wanted to prove I could do it so I could tell my family and friends I was a leader. I was only thinking about ME. 

Then one day, I was introduced to my team.  In that moment I knew it was no longer about me and the RESPONSIBILITY hit me out of the blue.

No one had ever shown or told me what it REALLY meant to be a leader.  

Yes, I’d had leaders lead me, but I didn’t know how to think, act or be a great leader.  I suppose I took it for granted that I was being led.

All I was focusing on was the job titles and promotions. 

I needed to get my act together

I knew I needed to learn the skills of being a leader, especially as quite a few people in my team were older than me and, at that time, weren’t too keen about that.

I found a training course I believed would help and signed myself up for it.

It was the best decision I made.  Not only did I learn more about the business as a whole, I also understood the key skills of leadership.

Luckily, I’ve always been able to instinctively support people and create a safe environment for people to be open and share how they are.  This was my strength as a leader.

However, dealing with conflict, finding my voice in the leadership meetings and knowing who I really was as a leader didn’t come straight away and needed work.

Getting out of my own way

The moment I decided to learn about who I am, was the transformation I had been waiting for.

I knew there was more in me to give, yet I didn’t know how to access it.  I was constantly getting in my own way and getting stuck in my own head. 

The key that unlocked my potential was learning how to be in charge of my mind.

This was more powerful than any practical leadership training I’d ever had.  This breakthrough allowed myself to drive forwards to where I wanted to go.  

It all starts with knowing who you are and how you think

You CAN be the leader you know you can be.

You CAN access what’s in your mind to propel you forwards.

The change for me happened when my mentor said to me ‘Are you committed or are you interested in being the best version of you?’

I knew I was committed and the rest is history.

Did I think this learning would take me to running my own business? No.  

Am I living my dream? Yes, as I can now spread the message of how to be a great leader and activate your full potential.

‘Do something today your future self would be proud of’ is a saying that has helped me so much.

So, what can you do to be the leader you want to be and one your team deserves?

If you’re committed to be the best version of you and you are ready to stand in your power as a leader, you can access my FREE GUIDE – 7 ways to be in charge of your mind.


Joanna is an award winning international coach who is passionate about helping people achieve personal and business success. Combining 20 years of operational experience with her behavioural expertise and leadership coaching, Joanna has worked with leading companies like Getty Images and the BBC to increase performance and results. If you’re interested to learn how Joanna can help you and your team, book your free discovery session with Joanna here

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Business

Part 4 – The 4 part model that will transform your business success

Look after your people, and they will look after your business 

Today’s article will explore the final part (part 4) of the successful model for change – People. Below is a reminder of the model I use when helping aid change in organisations and the foundation for this series of articles. 

Read previous articles here:

Part 1 – Environment

Part 2 – Structure

Part 3 – Implementation

You may be wondering why it is only at part 4 that we start to plan the ‘people strategy’ for the company.

Isn’t it always people first?

Yes, it is.

In order to put people first, you need to do the groundwork to align thinking, identify what needs to change and present clear actions on how these changes will be made. Your teams will only be open to adopt the changes if there is a clear strategy that they can get on board with. 

Usually the first steps aren’t considered and your teams are thrust into change that hasn’t been carefully thought about and therefore are resistant to it.  

By completing the parts 1-3, you are setting your team up for success and making sure their time is valued.

When I work with teams, the repeated requests I hear time and time again are, they just want a clear plan so they can understand what the expectations are from them. 

The CAM model helps organisations put clear steps and communication in place. You can provide your company the certainty they seek, that there is a vision, goals, alignment, strategies, clarity, structure and a roadmap for change.

What does the People section involve:

Depending on how small or large your change project is will determine how much time needs to be spent focused on the list below.  Some change projects may not require training and mentoring, just clear communication and leadership and some will require all 8 listed below.

  1. Communication
  2. Leadership
  3. Mentoring 
  4. Coaching
  5. Training
  6. Purposeful conversations
  7. Capabilities
  8. Support

Here’s a bit more detail on the ones that tend to always be required;

Communication

Communication is a two way process.

You need to be able to clearly communicate the Environmental and Structural thinking to your company and you need to be able to actively listen to their feedback.

You will find that some of the feedback you receive will build and make your ideas better.

Other feedback will be from people who are resistant to change. Therefore it is so important to have spent the time in Environment and Structure to present clear reasons as to why these change initiatives need to be adopted for the benefit of the business and employees. 

Within the communication stage you also want to try and identify your ‘early adopters’. These are the people who are most open to change and will be the people the rest of the company will feel good about following – more so than following the leadership team.

Leadership

It is vital that you all support each other on the leadership team.

There should be no ‘corridor conversations’ or any suggestions to the wider team that you are not all on board. If there are any disagreements, this will have been identified at Environment stage and worked through, so you now approach the rest of the company as an aligned team. 

It is so important to know that your teams will not embrace change unless they can see the leadership team are united and they see you as a leadership team adopting the change first.

This can take up to 3 months if you have low trust in your organisation and have tried ‘change projects’ before that haven’t lasted.

As a leadership team it is critical that you take responsibility for keeping momentum and holding each other accountable to keep the change active and not be disheartened that you do not see immediate adoption from your teams. 

Support

Naturally, people tend to resist change. However, they welcome change if it doesn’t directly affect them. 

Your role is to provide psychological safety so your teams feel they can share how they feel without being judged or for fear they will lose their job or be seen differently.

You need to ensure you have thought of all the questions your teams may have and be aligned in your responses.  

Every single person on your team will respond differently to the change and you need to be patient and see it from their perspective.

Be available for 1-2-1’s and team talks to provide reassurance, clarity and to be fully present to your team so they feel heard by you.

This level of consistent support is the difference between the companies that can make change work and the ones that don’t, which also results in losing good people. 

Support each other as a leadership team and then be there for your teams.

Final thoughts

The CAM model provides a new framework to change, but a framework that is proven to succeed. I have personally used this within many organisations – large and small – and the results have been transformational. 

The CAM model will also:

  1. Save you time and money
  2. Help you build high-performing teams
  3. Help you build aligned, motivated teams
  4. Ensure you stay relevant as a business
  5. Ensure you meet the needs of your clients and employees 

And… if you are worried about time, let me explain that you will spend the same amount of time reinforcing change over and over again, as you will if you adopt the CAM model and work through each part. 

You will just have very different outcomes.

So make the choice today. Become the leader who actions effective change to benefit your work and your people and lead a successful company that people will want to work with and trust.

Good luck & go forth. 

If you would like know more about how I can bring this model to life within your organisation, please email me on hello@joannahowes.com

I have created a very simple pdf guide that takes you through this exact process and a case study to show the power of the thinking and it is currently available for FREE from my website. Grab your copy here.

Joanna Howes is an international award-winning high performance coach and bestselling author based in London. She’s been featured on NBC, FOX and MSP News Global. If you want to lose the limits that are holding you back, book in for a free introductory call right here. 

Categories
Business

Part 3 – The 4 part model that will transform your business success

How to get off the hamster wheel

Today’s article will explore part 3 of the successful model for change – Implementation. Below is a reminder of the model I use when helping aid change in organisations and the foundation for this series of articles.

If this is the first article you have read in this series, I highly recommend going back to read part 1 and part 2. The reason being is that too many companies start here in implementation and this is the reason why change fails and is not sustained. 

How to know if you’re a business or leader who heads straight to implementation: 

  1. You have been trying to find a solution to a fix a problem for years, yet year on year the same issues keep arising 
  2. Your team are fed up of trying new ways of working as they do not believe the change will stick – so what’s the point of trying
  3. You use language like ‘we need to get this done’, ‘we need to do this faster’, ‘just make it happen’.

This level of thinking is why so many businesses get caught up in the hamster wheel of ‘doing’ and why ‘doing’ doesn’t create lasting results. 

How does this affect businesses in the long term:

  1. Money lost on projects that do not have a chance of succeeding
  2. A lack of trust amongst the team and a belief that change isn’t possible
  3. Loss of good employees
  4. A culture of frustration, exhaustion and blame
  5. Client dissatisfaction 

Valuing the time spent in Environmental (part 1) and Structural (part 2) thinking is what is going to set you up for success for all your change initiatives – large and small.

How implementation works effectively

So, you have created your vision, goals, standards, aligned on your beliefs as a team, you have your categories, benchmarks and a roadmap to success and now implementation is what actually makes these things happen.

Step one

Start by looking at what is happening now in your business and what new actions need to be introduced following the work you have completed in Environment and Structure.

The actions to begin focusing on are:

  • Decision making
  • Delegation
  • Reporting
  • Short term and long term thinking
  • How you do things
  • What you focus on 

For example:

If you have agreed your standards for decision making is to keep the leadership team informed so they can be united but current standards are that the leaders say one thing and do another…then this is an action that needs to change.

Step two

You need to identify what you ‘do’ as an organisation.

Here are some key questions to ask:

  1. How do the team make decisions?
  2. How well do they plan projects?
  3. How well do they action a project?
  4. Do they complete what they start?
  5. Do they live the values they say they do?

Question 5 really starts to highlight the difference between what people say they do, versus what they actually do.

It’s your role as a leader to uncover these gaps and discover what is missing that is causing this behaviour. 

Step three

The final step is to identify the balance of short term and long term thinking within the team.

Are people thinking short term and doing work that is needed now and to solve the problems of today, or are they able to see the bigger picture that their actions ladder up to?

People tend to be stronger in one of these areas. It’s quite unusual to be strong in both and this is normally a learned behaviour that comes with experience.

Identifying your team’s strengths in both short and long term thinking will impact how they ‘do’ and the success you can achieve as a team and organisation.

Moving forward

I hope I’ve been able to demonstrate that jumping to implementation and ‘doing’ is risky business and the reason why so many companies fail to make even the simplest of changes work.  

It really does start with awareness and taking a step back to view the bigger picture. You have to understand what the first step looks like before you take the first step.

The time is now to stop being a leader that just has a team ‘doing’ lots of stuff. Don’t make being ‘busy’ a benchmark for productivity.  It is a false assumption that busy means progress.  

It’s time to get off the hamster wheel and be a leader who can elevate your teams thinking to set them up for success. You can be a leader of the future who creates high performers who innovate and drive sustainable business results. 

I have created a very simple pdf guide that takes you through this exact process and a case study to show the power of the thinking and it is currently available for FREE from my website. Grab your copy here.

If you would like know more about how I can bring this model to life within your organisation please email me on hello@joannahowes.com

Joanna Howes is an international award-winning high performance coach and bestselling author based in London. She’s been featured on NBC, FOX and MSP News Global. If you want to lose the limits that are holding you back, book in for a free introductory call right here.

Categories
Business

Part 2 – The 4 part model that will transform your business success

The thinking of a great leader

In my first article of the ‘Making Change Work’ series I introduced the power of the Critical Alignment Model and shared the importance of starting in Environment thinking to build alignment for successful change.

Critical Alignment Model

We are now going to dig deeper into the importance of the second stage of thinking which is entitled ‘Structure’. Now, this isn’t organisational structure, for example org charts, it is a level of leadership thinking and most importantly a method of thinking in categories and measurement. 

Structure is a big dimension of thinking and truth be told, where the power lies to set you up for success.

This is the thinking of great leaders.  

Let’s start with some of the benefits to thinking in Structure:

You will be able to:

So what is Structure thinking?

Structure is the quantitative characteristics of the organisation. It is the content we can impact and influence.  

Structure includes (is not limited to):

  • The divisions of the business
  • The departments within the business
  • The strategies
  • The physical environment
  • The equipment
  • The systems
  • The checklists and manuals
  • The politics
  • The best practices
  • The KPI’s
  • The benchmarks
Step one – Categories

Structure allows you to organise your thinking and goals into categories and priorities. 

Imagine categories as buckets of content for which plans need to be built.  The content will be the things you have to deal with, things that need to be addressed.  This isn’t starting the implementation, it’s prioritising the plan. 

Case study example: 

A company wanted to introduce project management roles into their company.  

At first the team had polar opposite beliefs on what they believed the role of project management was, and the perception of project management.  So we made time for the team to become aligned on the vision, goals, beliefs, standards etc.

We didn’t move into Structure until we had educated the team to be aligned on their beliefs.

We then agreed the categories within Structure:

  1. The department set up
  2. The roles
  3. The new ways of working
  4. Client communication
  5. Commercial impact
  6. Talent audit and hiring 

We assigned an owner from the leadership team for each category to drive ownership of the change.

Next, we ensured the categories were in priority sequence, so that we focused on the top three, and maximised effectiveness. 

Finally we ensured the team was aligned on the goals for each of the categories. For example, the goal for ‘the department set up’ was to establish the feeling of one team made up of both the account and project managers.

Step two – Creating Strategies

The next critical step is to design your strategies for each category to achieve the desired outcome. 

I witness too many companies setting their goals, and then regressing to the daily routine.  So the team just keeps working as they have always been with blind hope the goal will be met.

This happens because the goals do not have any strategies.  This step is often passed over.

I just don’t have time

If you are reading this and thinking – I just don’t have the time, we just need to get on with it, read on

STOP now

Think about how much time and money you lose when your change initiative doesn’t work.  The pain to the culture of the business that re-enforces the belief that it’s ‘all words and no action’.

The upfront work that is required to make change happen is the demonstration of great leadership and leaders understanding their role.  Remove yourself from the weeds and elevate your thinking to Environment and Structure, and you will finally get off the hamster wheel and achieve sustainable success. 

Step three – Benchmarking.

When I question the majority of companies what their benchmarks of excellence are, I am often met with a prolonged silence.

If you do not have benchmarks, how do you know what you are aiming to achieve and if you have succeeded?

Action is not always sufficient, we need to question whether it was carried out in a way that achieved the desired outcome.

Benchmarks are best practice habits that help you succeed. They allow you to measure performance with facts, not with feelings or personal bias.

A simple example would be:

What is your benchmark for how your company phone is answered? 

  1. Within how many rings
  2. The greeting
  3. Returning call time

Now you can track the progress, impact and consistency of hitting this benchmark of excellence for your company and your teams can manage their own productivity.

Some of the area’s you must have benchmarks for are:

  • Sales 
  • Customer service
  • Talent
  • Communication
  • Ways of working
  • Delivery
  • Employee experience
  • Innovation

I’m hoping this is helping you to see how important it is to spend time thinking in Environment and Structure before you just start DOING.  

Without this level of leadership thinking, you will see your change ideas weaken. You really do need this solid foundation to build change that is effective and lasts.

Join me next week for part 3, where we will explore how to make implementation productive and seamless.

I have created a very simple pdf guide that takes you through this exact process and a case study to show the power of the thinking and it is currently available for FREE from my website. Grab your copy here.

If you would like know more about how I can bring this model to life within your organisation please email me on hello@joannahowes.com

Joanna Howes is an international award-winning high performance coach and bestselling author based in London. She’s been featured on NBC, FOX and MSP News Global. If you want to lose the limits that are holding you back, book in for a free introductory call right here. 

Categories
Business

Part 1 – The 4 part model that will transform your business success

I’m going to share with you today something that has the potential to change how you work and transform the results you get.

PLUS it’s totally awesome and simple. I’ll give some context first.

I have worked in Operations for Advertising agencies for over 20 years. 

Working in operations you have to have a birds-eye view of the entire organisation and you are the master of bringing all the jigsaw pieces together to build a high performing business.  A challenging but a very exciting and varied role.

In this role, I noticed most organisations fail in being able to change behaviour to align and introduce new initiatives for the business, whether small or large changes across roles, departments, services and ways of working.  

A typical conversation looked like this:

“We need to work faster and save money”

“Can you introduce a new process or streamline the layers”

“Come back and tell me what you are going to do in 2 days”

The ideas are presented back and the response is…

“Great go for it and have it done by the end of the month as we have a pitch we need to say we can do this for”

Sound familiar?

So full implementation starts and this new way of working begins.

It starts off well but within a few weeks you see old habits start to creep back. 

You rally around trying to keep momentum but, as this change was imposed on the team, they do not fully understand why it’s happening and cannot see the long-term benefits, so they default back to their existing behaviours. 

With me?

So this is now the awesome bit….

Introducing the four dimensional blueprint for business success for ALL change initiatives. 

The Critical Alignment Model

This model was created by Sharon Pearson the founder of The Coaching Institute and my mentor who I credit along with her team for transforming my life.

This model was designed after extensive research into what needs to be attended to in all businesses for sustainable success.  The research highlighted a pattern of four dimensions that all leaders need to address to achieve their goals faster and easier than ever before. 

ENVIRONMENT

STRUCTURE

IMPLEMENTATION

PEOPLE

The beauty of this model is it stops the hamster wheel of ‘doing’ and wondering why you seem to have the same recurring problems year-on-year. 

The many other benefits of this model:

  1. Builds trust, teamwork and alignment
  2. Saves you time and money
  3. Drives collaboration
  4. Creates a leadership team of critical, strategic and consequential thinkers  
  5. Turns words into action that lasts
  6. Enables consistent business growth and progression

It really is transformational.

To begin we are going to review the Environment stage and next week I’ll explain the second phase – Structure. 

So how does it work?

At the heart of the model is ‘Purpose’. You must always start by knowing what your purpose for change or for a project is, otherwise you can end up dancing around in the small details without being able to see the bigger picture and the direction you want to head in.

Then you begin in ‘Environment’ – this is the step that is currently missing for a lot of organisations.

You start by bringing together your key decision makers to align on the vision for the change. You then begin identifying what ‘needs’ to be in place to achieve the vision and then move onto comparing this to the realities of today. 

The areas you are looking to identify the first level of gaps to address are:

  • Your culture
  • Your values
  • Your beliefs
  • Your attitudes 
  • Your standards 
  • Your expectations 

For example: 

To achieve the vision of expanding the companies services into data, you all ‘need’ to believe the right thing to do is hire the roles and build a new department. 

However, you identify that some of your team believe that this is the right thing to do to grow new services and revenue. You also find out that a lot of your team believe this is going to put too much pressure on the business to maintain the quality of service, so it is a risk and they think an acquisition is a stronger strategy.   

If you don’t address the gap between these beliefs then it can potentially cause the new department to fail.

The magic is in the gaps

The ‘Environment’ thinking allows you to discover how to close the gap of where you are today, to be closer to where you want to be tomorrow. It reveals the focus of where your change work needs to start – and it’s very often not where you think.

This is where the magic is. Building a team of future-fit leaders who can think at the right level to make change work.

Your leaders will feel they have ownership of the change to build the momentum that is required to deliver it.

You may be thinking ‘We just don’t have time to do this level of in depth analysis and bring everyone involved. We just need to get on and DO it.’  

I can tell you now that ‘just do it’ costs businesses millions of pounds every year in lost hours, talent leaving and clients not sticking around. 

Stop letting money fly out the window and invest the time and thinking up front to make sure you have sustainable growth and be a business that is still around in the next ten years. 

The more you use this model, the more it becomes how you see the world going forwards, and you become faster at seeing the gaps to elevate your business to the next level.

I look forward to seeing you in the next article for how to build the structure for change to work.

I have created a very simple guide that takes you through this exact process and a case study to show the power of the thinking and it is currently available for FREE from my website. Grab your copy here.

If you would like know more about how I can bring this model to life within your organisation please email me on hello@joannahowes.com

Joanna Howes is an international award-winning high performance coach and bestselling author based in London. She’s been featured on NBC, FOX and MSP News Global. If you want to lose the limits that are holding you back, book in for a free introductory call right here. 

Categories
Business Leadership Potential Self Development

Why so many leaders do not see themselves as a true leader

Why so many leaders do not see themselves as a true leader

There is so much information out there about what it takes to be a great leader, so why is it that we see so few of them?

The big problem I believe and am witnessing over and over again is that some leaders are not identifying and seeing themselves as a leader.  

They have the position, the title, the paycheque and the team, yet inside they still let the 9-year-old child inside themselves direct their belief in their own abilities. 

This is very common and if you resonate with this then I hope it helps you to know you are not alone. However, by not viewing yourself as a leader, and allowing the 9-year-old to lead instead, you are impacting on the results you can achieve for the business, your team and your own career goals. And more often than not, it’s not a positive impact.

So, how do you know if this is you? See if any of the points below resonate with you.

  1. Imposter syndrome – You feel that your peers and those above you are all smarter than you and that you are going to be found out. The voice in your head tells you that you are not good enough and self-doubt delays your decision making.
  1. Avoiding conflict – You stay clear of conflict in the fear of not knowing how to handle it and making the wrong call. Reassuring yourself by claiming ‘how could you know what really happened as you weren’t there?’
  1. Procrastination – You put off the stuff that really matters and you allow it to overwhelm you.
  1. Being busy – You stay in the weeds of the day-to-day to show you are needed and can add value. You wouldn’t know what to do with your time if you let go and handed it over to others.
  1. Control – You need to be in control, make the decisions for your team and have an understanding of everything that is going on. 

It’s time to step into your identity 

Your ‘identity’ is the key to being who you need to be in order to achieve your personal and professional goals.

You must change the way you think about yourself.  

I’ve been there

I know this is possible as it’s exactly what I had to do. I started my own business 3 years ago and was running it with my old identity of the 14 year old girl in the third set of maths (I didn’t realise this at the time but looking back I can see this is what happened). 

This meant I wasn’t putting myself out there, I wasn’t reaching the clients I really wanted to work with and I was very good at finding constant excuses as to why I wasn’t making that call or going to the networking event.  

Luckily, my passion for the work I do wouldn’t accept this. So after reading more books and watching mastermind events the penny dropped as to why I wasn’t where I wanted to be.

I needed to adopt my new identity to run my business if I wanted it to be a success. I needed to be Joanna Howes, the award-winning coach, best-selling author and CEO. I said this out loud quite a few times and the mind-set shift was huge.

Standing in my identity of who I am today has transformed my business and I’m achieving my goals faster and easier than ever before. And having a lot more fun and joy along the way (with not a maths class in sight!).

Being a great leader is so much more than what you do.  It’s who you are.  

Own your leadership. See the world through your leadership eyes of who you are today. and not the child who just wanted to fit in and please people. Who you are is so important to your leadership style, the way you communicate and the way others react to you. 

Honestly, this work is transformational. I’ve been there and I’ve witnessed others successfully go through this process too.

Don’t you think it’s time to find out how you can achieve your ultimate success – not only for your business but for yourself?

I have released a FREE guide – ‘5 steps to stand in your power as a leader’ – if this article struck a chord with you, you’ll find my quick to apply strategies in this guide super helpful. Grab your copy here.


If you found this article of value and you’d like access to more insightful and inspiring articles and resources, visit Joanna’s website here. If coaching is something you’d like to explore to help you achieve your goals and drive personal and business success, book your free discovery session with Joanna here

Categories
Business Teams

The moment I realised I’d lost my spontaneity and how it’s time to bring it back to business

The moment I realised I’d lost my spontaneity and how it’s time to bring it back to business 

I’m currently reading for the 8th time ‘You2’ by Price Pritchett (incredible book) and one of the key learnings is how our tendency is to default to our familiar behaviours and ‘what we do best’ vs. taking a quantum leap and breaking our patterns to create the extraordinary.  

We are creatures of habit and routine, so when we are presented with a world of uncertainty and lack of clarity, it forces us even more to fall into those habits, which can be both productive and unproductive. The problem is even the productive one’s may not be the right thing to be doing.

“It really doesn’t matter how well you do something, if it’s the wrong thing to do”

So, why am I sharing this with you?

Breaking the familiar

It got me thinking, what are my familiar patterns that if I continue doing them will prevent me from reaching new heights of success.

A very simple one came up.

Email vs Picking up the phone.

I have defaulted to email vs. picking up the phone for years, and a very wise person asked me the question why?  

Great question. 

Here’s my answer:

“I worry that I will interrupt someone’s schedule as I can’t remember the last time I phoned someone or someone phoned me and we hadn’t pre-planned a time, It almost feels impolite these days to just pick up the phone”

As I said this out loud it made me think how sad it was that communication and building relationships has become so scheduled and formal.  

On a side note: I was also shocked (and then I wasn’t) to find out that: 81% of millennials feel they need to summon up the courage to make a call.  

This is frightening as I think of all the skills that are being lost and ‘what if’ email suddenly didn’t exist (anything is possible), we would have a huge group of people who do not know how to communicate confidently with each other and businesses would plummet. 

Bring back spontaneity

Okay, back to the story: the lightbulb moment struck and I realised that not only have we lost our spontaneity in lockdown, we lost our spontaneity years ago with email.  

Ask yourself “when was the last time within a business context, did you just pick up the phone and check in with someone”?

We think we are maybe helping by emailing but all this is doing is clogging up an already overwhelmed inbox and potentially causing more stress as you have now added a ‘reply’ on their ‘to do’ list.

Also, do we really get to know someone over email?  I know I’ve got at least 10 people I’m in contact with that I’ve never met or spoken to and yet we converse over email regularly and start with the wonderfully polite greeting of ‘nice to e-meet you’.

Now I’m not saying stop emailing and start calling.  It’s finding the right balance, I just feel we have gone too far one way and I believe it’s time to bring some spontaneity back to life and business.

The benefits of picking up the phone:

  1. You make decisions faster
  2. You can pick up tone on a call and gain clarity of meaning
  3. You can actually solve things faster as it’s achieved in the call not back and forth on email
  4. Reduced anxiety as you’re in the space with the person. You’re not repeatedly clicking ‘refresh’ on your emails second guessing what is going on
  5. You build stronger relationships
  6. You can build on ideas 
  7. You receive an answer in the moment 

I do understand efficiencies and tracking conversations, especially coming from an operations background, however business was once achieved without email and I wonder for all we have gained, what have we lost that would right now be so wonderful and productive to bring back.

We are all searching for connection and community in these strange times, so how about you join me in my quest this week to phone at least 5 people and see how they are and how you could help.

I’d love to know how you get on.


Joanna Howes is an international award winning coach, behavioural expert, and No 1 best selling international author, who specialises in leadership and business operations. If any of these have resonated with you and you would like to explore how a coach can guide you to achieve your success, please book your free discovery session with Joanna here. Joanna also shares free resources on her website which you can access here.

Categories
Business Leadership Potential Self Development

The 3 things that led me to my success and can lead you to yours

The 3 things that led me to my success and can lead you to yours

A lot of people say to me ‘I couldn’t do what you do, Jo’. I have always been baffled as to why people believe that. It’s like they think I have something special or a secret skill that allows me to do what I do…

…and truth is, there really isn’t.

So, I spent some time thinking about what it is I do, or how I think, that has allowed me to transform my life and fulfil my dream.

I want to share them with you now in the hope that you realise it’s never too late and you too can achieve your dreams. 

It’s all about choice and making a decision on how you want to live and the person you want to be.

Number 1 – Drive

I have valued drive since I was 18 years old.  Before then I just sort of wandered through life. I followed the popular gang around, kept my head down and did what I needed to do to get by.

My priority was to fit in, not to excel.

It was at 18 that I then saw how fragile and short life was when my father suddenly passed away in front of me. 

This was my life starting all over again. 

I often wonder, to this day, who I might have been if that hadn’t happened.

After the grieving process and the running away from pain, something ignited in me. I was always a hard-worker – having worked for my dad in a restaurant from the age of 12 – but now there was something new, which I now know as ‘Drive’.

Nothing was going to stop me from being a success. 

I didn’t get the qualifications expected at school and I didn’t pursue any further education, but this just fuelled my drive even more. 

I would show the world that I could be somebody and do well.  

3 ways to ignite your drive:

  1. Visualise the life you want for yourself 5 years from now
  2. Know your why and make sure it is bigger than you – this will get you out of bed
  3. Keep moving forward one step at a time (they can be small steps)

Now, drive on its own wasn’t enough.

Number 2 – Resilience

The second factor that I valued and have built on a daily basis.

Seeing your Dad pass, your Nan have 3 heart attacks in the same night and continuous tragedies over the following 6 years…

I had a choice: To be a victim or to dig into my resilience.

The mental commitment I had made to my dad to make him proud (even though he wasn’t here anymore) enhanced my ability and purpose to build my resilience.  

Don’t get me wrong, I can still get knocked down, and I did when I moved to Australia and very quickly found out the ‘dream job’ wasn’t going to work out. Now though, I am able to quickly rebuild myself to keep going, and with each knock my resilience just gets stronger and stronger. 

What is resilience? 

By definition it means: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

It’s also very important to understand that resilience is a state; it is not a personality trait. You can build your resilience levels and learn the tools and techniques to manage stress, uncertainty and adversity resourcefully to ensure your performance levels remain high. 

3 ways to build your resilience:

  1. Keep promises to yourself with your self-care
  2. Know how to be in charge of your own mind
  3. Realise that you are in control of how you see the world – no one else

Resilience has been one of the most important factors in being able to run my own business. 

Going from 20 years in corporate to being on your own in business is massive, especially when you find out as you go the amount of different hats you need to wear!

Being awarded International Coach of the Year 2020

Number 3 – be a continuous learner

I fell in love with learning again 5 years ago.  I was told I was average at school, which gave me the belief that everyone else was smarter than me.

This was very limiting and once I learnt how to let go of those limiting beliefs, the joy for learning flooded back into my life.

I cannot stress enough how doing just 15 minutes of learning everyday will move you towards the life and results you want. 

I do an hour every morning and I read every day. 

The world is full of the answers you are looking for and the inspiration to be the person you want to be.  

Don’t settle. 

It is proven by neuroscience that the brain can change, adapt and learn new ways of being.  Leverage this and fuel your drive, raise your resilience and learn what could be possible for you.

It won’t happen overnight. But if you really want it, then it can be yours. 


Joanna is an award winning international coach who is passionate about helping people achieve success. Combining 10 years of operational experience with her behaviour expertise and leadership coaching, Joanna has worked with leading companies like Getty Images and the BBC to increase performance and results. If you’re interested to learn how Joanna can help you and your team, book your free discovery session with Joanna here

Categories
Business Leadership Self Development

3 proven strategies to make this year ‘Your Year’

3 proven strategies to make this year ‘Your Year’

We all tend to enter into a New Year with the mindset of it being an opportunity to reset, start again and achieve those goals we have been striving for.

How many of you have said to yourself ‘This is going to be the year’.

When I sat down to write this article, I knew I had a choice. To write the things that will stop you from making this your year (trust me, there are a lot!), or to give you some strategies to help set you up to achieve your goals and targets in 2021.

We are also coping with a 3rd National Lockdown and our initial motivation may have been somewhat knocked.  It’s all too easy to write and talk about what we do badly, so I’m going to share with you 3 strategies that will not only give you a head start, but help you to stay on track with both your business and leadership success this year.

Number 1 – The power of the decision

When someone decides to climb Everest, they don’t start by planning the ‘how’, they start by making the decision that they will get to the top. Once the decision is made, the path of ‘how’ will start to emerge.

For example, if you are thinking of taking your business from £10m a year to £15m a year, don’t start with ‘how’ you are going to do it.  

You first need to decide – with all your body and mind – that you will achieve £15m. If you start with the ‘how’ you can fall into the trap of finding so many reasons why you can’t do it or why it will be hard.

By starting with the committed decision to do it, you will start to find the natural energy and strategies that will help you achieve that goal.

So this year, make the decision on ‘what’ you are going to achieve and the ‘how’ will take care of itself.

Number 2 – Mindset first

STOP DOING! Start thinking. Your mindset is what will make this year great or average.  

“Everything begins inside your mind. With the right mindset you will succeed.”

To change your results you need to change the way you think.

Look back over the last year and reflect on your levels of thinking and how you thought about various situations.

For example: if you are currently resisting change and trying to keep things working the way you like them – yet you are not seeing the results you expect – then you are currently in a fixed mindset and will become stuck.

We are certainly in times of change and the key is to accept and adapt to what is being given to us.

Change your mindset to being curious and open to ideas and suggestions for alternatives.

Be okay if they don’t work straight away or need tweaking.

This is all part of growing and elevating the results you can achieve.  

A business or leader who doesn’t embrace change will get left behind and fade away.

Take charge of your mind and set it to the right place in order to move towards success.

Number 3 – You don’t need to be liked and you don’t need to be right

Too many leaders stay average because their core needs are to be liked and to be right.

It’s part of the leadership journey, but if this is to be ‘Your Year’ then this level of thinking needs to upgrade.

Set yourself up for success by backing your ideas, finding your signature voice and not falling into the trap of people-pleasing and wanting to fit in.  

Be totally okay to not know everything. It’s fine. You are human. Having a leadership title doesn’t mean you become a walking encyclopedia! It’s just not possible and putting this expectation on yourself will distract you from what really matters.

The best kind of leaders are open to learning and continued development. 

Be the difference that makes the difference. Your business and team will thank you for it.

So there you are. My gift to you for the start of the year – three manageable yet proven strategies to help set you up for success in 2021.  


Joanna Howes is a leading coach, behavioural expert, and No 1 best selling international author, who specialises in leadership and business operations. If any of these have resonated with you and you would like to explore how a coach can guide you to achieve your success, please book a free call using this link to discuss how Joanna can help you achieve your goals faster and easier than ever before. To see how else Joanna can help visit her website here.

Categories
Business Leadership Self Development Wellness

Are you a hidden leader?

Are you a hidden leader?

It’s an oxymoron right? A leader reaches the position that they’re in because they are marked out as someone who can guide others – they are the decision-maker, the figure in the spotlight. For all intents and purposes they are visible and accountable. But a huge swathe of leaders I have met recently  seem to feel like who they are as a leader, and the potential of what they can be or what they can achieve with their teams, exists in a parallel universe to the one they’re currently in. Outwardly they are performing and hitting the right notes, but their internal world is at war.  Enter, the ‘Hidden Leader’. 

In my experience this affects some of the most highly skilled, well-liked and tenacious leaders out there – and with the state of the world currently, Hidden Leaders seem to be multiplying. Leaders I am working with are telling me that they question their conviction in decision-making and they wonder about their ability to lead their teams in the way they need to be led during this period of time. The time to change this is now. As businesses face further uncertainty, we need leaders who can lead their teams from a place of certainty. I believe it’s time for Hidden Leaders to emerge from hiding, into a space where they can fully step into their power – if any of this resonates with you, here’s how you can start the process.

I constantly felt like there was more in me 

This topic is an easy one for me to write about because I completely relate to anyone who feels like this. I had a call with a prospective client last week who listed all of the obstacles in the way between where she was now and where she wanted to be and it was like having a conversation with my former self. Before I moved into leadership coaching, I was a Director of Operations for some of the world’s biggest creative agencies – and I spent a lot of this time feeling really disconnected with my leadership style and doubting the decisions I was making. I constantly felt like there was more in me, that I was taking a detour away from my potential.  It was only when I began to look inwards, and started to focus on the self-limiting beliefs I had and the habitual thinking patterns I had developed that I discovered that I could learn to shift these and make real change in my professional and personal life.

How to take control 

After reflecting on my own journey, the research I have undertaken as a behavioural and resilience expert and the case studies I have pulled together from my work as a leadership coach, I have discovered four key growth areas for leaders who are ready to begin this journey to work on. I guarantee if you invest the time in this, you will see the results. So let’s dive in. 

1. There is no such thing as failure it is feedback

We all put limiting beliefs on ourselves and these beliefs are the first blockers in place stopping you from progressing forward within your role and developing your leadership style. Changing your limiting beliefs is possible and the good news is you have full control to do this. It is time you called them out and challenged them.

A common limiting belief I encounter in leaders is: ‘I better not do that as I may fail and be judged’. This is a huge obstacle, as it immediately moves leaders out of a place of learning and growth into safety, and ultimately, inaction. When you shift the thinking around this, re-word it and instead deliver it as: ‘There is no such thing as failure it’s feedback’, it is transformed. This new belief creates huge potential for growth, risk taking and innovation. 

If you need an example to anchor you to this new belief, look no further than some of our greatest leaders, from Richard Branson to Tony Robbins to Oprah. These leaders all have the same thing in common, they have learnt their greatness from the things that didn’t go right.  

Ultimately, you have a choice, one is the path of safety, this will give you a comfortable and okay life, which suits a lot of people. However, if you are reading this, then it’s clear that this isn’t what you’re after. You are hungry to explore your own potential, and this means you need to challenge the beliefs you have about yourself.

One of the best books to get you started with this is, “Feel the Fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers.  The key take out from the book is ‘what is the worst that can happen?’. If you can identify the worst thing, then ask yourself if you can handle it. 

2. Raise your standards

Our personal standards set the benchmarks for who we can become. Although many leaders feel like their personal standards are their driving force in how they conduct business and lead their teams, there are day-to-day behaviours many exhibit that can seriously undermine this. Look at the following and notice if you did any of these in the last two weeks:

  • Turned up to meetings late
  • Agreed in a meeting and then disagreed with a smaller group afterwards
  • Avoided difficult conversations
  • Treated all your team the same and expected them to deliver
  • Used your phone in meetings
  • Cancelled your 1-2-1’s with your team

Although these are seemingly small moments, they can have a big impact on your ability to advance in your leadership journey. Each one of these represents a low personal standard that you have displayed not only to yourself, but to your team. These standards will maintain the status quo, and keep you moving along at the same level. 

Instead, look at the people who are having the success you want to be achieving and delve into the standards that drive this success. This is called modelling excellence, and is an easy way to identify what personal standards you need to make central to your leadership. As an example, the standards below are some I have identified and modelled to achieve the success I now have:

  • Show up 100%
  • Commit to what I achieve to do
  • Be fully present when someone is talking to me
  • Give feedback to help people grow
  • Keep promises to myself
  • There is always a way

3. Be kind to yourself

To change and grow you need to ensure you have self-care rituals in place to look after your mind and body.  

The essential self-care step when it comes to being kind to yourself, is to notice how you talk to yourself. The voice in your head can have a lot of power over the decisions and choices you make for your life and career. The voice can completely determine the success levels you can achieve.

Being aware that you can control the voice is your starting point. You are then able to understand that the voice is ultimately trying to keep you safe. When we are trying to change, our ego (our subconscious brain), doesn’t want us to. It’s very happy with where you are, as you have taught it that this is what is safe for you. The biggest thing to note is that the subconscious brain doesn’t know the difference between what is good and bad for you, it learns that what you do on a repeated basis must be what you want. 

Begin the process of changing the voice and letting it know you are okay to grow. As you and your inner voice become more adept to change, you will start to reduce the anxiety around expanding your comfort zone.

4. Take action

It’s time to stop looking at the water and jump in the pool. Everything is in the action.

The previous steps we’ve looked at are very important but without taking action and starting to change how you show up and changing your strategy, you will remain a Hidden Leader.

It doesn’t need to be a big dramatic overnight change. The process of emerging as a courageous leader, one who operates with certainty, courage and resilience, is an evolving process. Start by focusing on small areas that you’d like to change. Below are some that could be relevant:

  1. Speak up in a meeting if you disagree with what is being said
  2. Have the difficult conversation and not find reasons to be busy to avoid it
  3. Share your ideas 
  4. Give feedback to peers if they are misaligned to the culture of the company

So, are you ready to trust yourself?

Yes your to-do list is endless and the pressures on your time may have increased. But this work is truly worth it. It will not only improve your performance as a leader but it will directly drive up your fulfilment in the role you are doing – you will be able to feel the ease that comes when you truly trust yourself and your decisions. And let me tell you, having experienced both sides of it, it’s wonderful to have stepped out into the light – come and get your Vitamin D hit, it’ll do you the world of good. 

If you want to explore your potential, I invite you to book your FREE 30 minute discovery call with me by clicking this link: https://calendly.com/joannahowescoaching/30min