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Why do some new leaders like to “shake it up?”

By | Leadership | No Comments

Everything is working well in your eyes, perhaps some minor adjustment could happen if there was time, and then a new leader comes into position and –WHAM – everything changes. 

 What drives a new leader to want to makes changes?  


New leaders that have been hired internally do not have the same opportunity to build a reputation from scratch the way external candidates do.  They have “history” and in some cases this can create a desire to launch into a new role vigorously in order to prove themselves (or dis-prove any concerns of others).    

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Why Managers need to take time to reflect

By | Leadership | No Comments

Year End!

I can easily recall a time when myself and the managers around me found ourselves in the joys of October to December (Q4) where performance reviews, budget completion and preparation, annual objective planning, salary assessments and goal evaluations all merged into weeks of lengthy emails, complex spreadsheets, endless meetings, discussions, videos and debates.     There never seemed to be a period of “winding down” towards the end of the year.  In addition to the increased expectations and multiple deadlines, managers also had to think about resources and talent pipelines or redundancies or recruitment plans and make sure they kept their “manager” happy and approachable face on at all times.

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Can “something for nothing” be part of every workplace?

By | Leadership | No Comments

something for nothing – phrase [PHRASE after verb]: If you say that someone is getting something for nothing, you disapprove of the fact that they are getting what they want without doing or giving anything in return.

My ideas for my blogs usually start with an experience or a memory and then I look around various social media sites to make sure no one else has written about the topic the same way I am thinking – from there I just let my thoughts flow.  This blog was inspired by a comment someone said to me last week “what do you get out of this”?

I am at the phase of my career where I spilt my time between working for clients and then volunteering my time to companies or individuals that I feel need a helping hand and may not have access to resources.  This month I launched anything is possible ltd 2017 social responsibility projects because I wanted to also bring it more formally into my business.  Don’t get me wrong – I need to work and so does my partner but we choose to work differently for this part of our careers after having been in a very busy, corporate job for decades and experiencing personal events that gave us great perspective and clarity on what is important to us.

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10 Clever Things Great Managers Do

By | Uncategorised | 2 Comments

When I run courses for line managers or speak one on one with line managers I nearly always talk about the line manager sandwich – it’s not a pleasant analogy because it relates to the fact that line managers often “sit” in an almost impossible place in-between senior leaders and direct reports.  With everyone wanting something from them but not always getting much in return.   It often must feel like a no-win situation.  It therefore takes a special person to fill that sandwich.

A line manager is the first port of call for their reports; their supporter, motivator, teacher, counsellor, communicator and font of all knowledge.  The expectation is that a line manager knows everything that is going on but in reality, they often have to spend time extracting what they need to know from senior leaders, pushing for information and news, protecting their staff from unrealistic deadlines and impatient leaders and walking a precarious tightrope to manage everyone around them.

Senior leaders sometimes believe that line management isn’t a full time, dedicated job, or that line managers cannot manage people if they are too removed from “the business”.   This often results in line managers having dual responsibility for people and for business projects, activities, systems or processes.   Their sandwich then becomes a triple decker!   I could write an entire blog on the pitfalls of such an approach but suffice to say whatever approach an organisation takes they must follow one simple rule:  A line manager has to be able to put their line management accountabilities first.

In my experience expert line managers, comfortable in the sandwich do 10 very clever things:

  1. Proactively network with other line managers – because of their own challenges around access to information and timely communication they happily give and share information openly with each other. For example, when one has discovered the timelines that HR have set for goal assessments they quickly and expertly make sure everyone has the details.  Knowledge sharing and networking saves time and that’s the most precious commodity for a line manager
  2. Actively listen – not just acting as a sounding board (although this remains a regular occurrence) but listening attentively to what is being said and what is not quite being said, and demonstrating they ARE listening
  3. Treat people as unique individuals – when it comes to line management there is no “one size fits all” model. Employees are unique and have very different needs that change at different stages of their lives. Expert line managers know that and continuously adapt.
  4. Invest in employee engagement – the single best predictor of employee engagement is the employee’s relationship with their immediate line manager. When line managers are given time to manage effectively then they can demonstrate they care, they can show interest in their repots lives, they can care how their report feels and they can support their health and well-being.  They can show a genuine interest which fosters a strong relationship.
  5. Understand their role in managing change – change in organisations isn’t an event it’s now a way of working. Managing through constant change takes resilience and that is what great line managers have.  They can be agents for change and help others to explore and commit to change
  6. Create trusting relationships through vulnerability – this is with those more senior than them. By expertly talking about and describing the impact behaviour, lack of information, poor communication, ineffective change leadership or other challenges are having on people in the organisation, the line manager can be the eyes of the organisation for senior leaders.  By carefully sharing the reality rather than trying to fix or hides things very powerful, trusting relationships are created.
  7. Remove obstacles – understanding what is keeping people from moving forward to do their job or increase their knowledge or progress their career and put in place a framework to overcome the obstacles that can mean direct reports can move forward (however small the steps may be)
  8. Adopt a growth mindset – line managers that ensure their direct reports maintain a growth mindset (believe that failures and setbacks always provide an opportunity to learn and improve) help develop employees with perseverance and a passion for long term goals (both personal and professional).
  9. Understand the importance of delegation – creating an environment where the line manager is actively relying on others to help carry projects/business goals.  Still informed, but letting others lead so they can grow their abilities and perspective
  10. Laugh – It may well be a coping mechanism to survive the roller-coaster world of line management but successful line managers I have worked with don’t take themselves too seriously and make sure fun and humour is part of work. People like to laugh and it’s good for wellbeing so strong line managers never forget to bring fun into the work place.


I know from personal experience when I was a leader my global departments greatly benefited from the partnerships I had with the line managers I was lucky enough to have alongside me.  At times of expansion they had to drive the recruitment and training of new team members and yet in times of reorganisations then had to play key roles in redundancies or restructuring.

My managers were well positioned to identify problems with our strategic planning and their input was essential for organizational learning when planning for and executing organisational change initiatives.

Now working at Anything Is Possible I strive to make sure the leaders I work with appreciate sandwich they can create for their line managers and make sure they appreciate the clever things they do.


Jacqui Spencer

Feeling Under Pressure? Start the Year Being Kind to You

By | Reflection | 2 Comments

I have come to the conclusion that starting a new year is seriously bad for your personal health and wellbeing.  We are only on January 4th and already the majority of the Tweets, Facebook Posts, LinkedIn comments, online communication and articles I am seeing are about how you must focus on being better, stronger, lighter, happier, wealthier or something even more ambitious in 2017.

I’m overwhelmed by the level of expectation already and I work for myself and have no kids and a very happy partner!   I completely sympathise with people that already have to juggle so many aspects of their day to day living to get by and now are faced with advertising campaigns and online communication that may not inspire and motivate but instead, for some, place them under even more pressure.

So my advice for January (and maybe even February) is “just be” – try and be kind to yourself each and every day but not with rules, targets or goals or looking critically at areas that need to radically change, instead with simple things that help you “be”.

I’m talking about reading that book that’s been on the shelf since last Christmas – just for 15 minutes a day by going into another room, sitting in your car at lunchtime or going to bed a little earlier.

Rather than gym routines and calorie counting start the year with a short walk 2 or 3 times a week and enjoy your own company – if you have manic mornings then try 10 minutes at lunchtime.  Remember time is not divided into one hour or 30 minute chunks and we can be put off by not being able to “find time” – you can do something for 10 minutes if you want.

Have peppermint tea and water as your afternoon and evening drinks and use nice mugs or cups and glasses.

Whatever your relationship status is have your own date night at least once a month. Cook a nice meal, take time thinking about a film you’d like to watch and even wear your favourite outfit.  You need to be special to yourself and that doesn’t always mean you need company.

Make a lasting impression on a stranger and be kind to people you meet – smile a lot and always say thank you.  When you are being served by someone in a hotel, bar or restaurant use their name when you thank them.  Be genuine, make conversation and give compliments.

Buy a dozen cards and each month think about the people in your life you don’t see enough of and send someone one of the cards – “thinking of you and just wanted to say hello” is a lovely message to find on your doormat in the cold winter months.  Texting doesn’t count.

If you like flowers – buy them (even if you can only afford a single stem).  If you like music – listen to it.  Sing as much and as often as you can however bad you feel it is.  If you have clothes for special occasions – wear them regularly.  Make yourself feel special.

Eat something you’ve never tried before or visit somewhere you’ve never been before – new experiences or changing everyday things can make a real difference.  Drive a different way to work, wear your watch on your other wrist.  Make things a little more awkward so you sense the differences that are around you.  Embrace how it makes you feel and feel something new.

I truly hope you find something early in 2017 that will help you “just be” – once you’ve started maybe the pressure will fade from your shoulders and the weight of expectation will ease and you’ll want to focus on more ambitious plans but if not then let the world go by at its pace and stay kind to yourself.  Make 2017 your year.


Simplicity – are you being too complex for success?

By | Leadership | No Comments

Albert Einstein

Recently I have been reflecting on why some leaders and managers shy away from simplicity.  Why do some people find it necessary to use complex language and unnecessary business speak?  What I am talking about is nicely represented in this gloriously complex statement “to support our strategic direction we need to proactively utilise scalable methods of empowerment”.  If you are trying to engage people, then confusing them with how you communicate is guaranteed to have the opposite effect.  They simply won’t listen let alone act.  Read More

Facing our fears at work with courage

By | Self Awareness | No Comments
Take Courage S Khan

Take courage to face fears at work

Facing our fears at work

During my interactions with others through my work it is clear that fear is still a massive barrier for many regardless of their age, experience or job.  It’s a topic that many experts have addressed and you can find thousands of resources on thousands of fears but it still comes down to it being very personal.

There is no shortage of fear.  Wikipedia lists phobophobia as a fear of phobias — a fear of fear itself and there appears to be new fears being discovered all the time.   I still find selfiephobia (fear of taking a photograph of oneself) a little hard to accept – surely it’s a new name for not like being photographed (fotografizophobia)! Read More

Can we make SMART goals CLEVER?

By | Performance Management | 3 Comments

I have to hope the title of this blog hasn’t already turned people away because it contains the word “goals”.  In the corridors of many organisations across the globe there are a highly motivated bunch of people who love goals so much that the first quarter of the year brings rich excitement as they think about how to document what they want to achieve in 2016.  However, in the dark corners of many office blocks there sits in the shadows people cowering under the pressure of this hideous time of year when once AGAIN they have to try and think of something to show their Manager that hopefully somewhat resembles a personal, organisational, team, project, individual or other descriptive “goal”. Read More

A new year, a new life? Things are changing…..

By | Changing organisations, Self Awareness | One Comment

In case you hadn’t noticed life has changed but some organisations haven’t yet caught up and I am becoming more and more intrigued by why this is the case. Because from what I have seen our behaviour has changed in many areas of our lives and whilst our approach and attitude to work hasn’t yet been as impacted as some other areas I believe it won’t be long.

Let me explain myself. I met colleagues I used to work with for lunch today and pretty much everyone had done Christmas shopping on line.  One person had completed 100% of their purchases without stepping into a single shop.  You see the reputation of the retailer or the ability to know the staff or having previous experience buying from them is no longer a priority for us.  We no longer care how companies are structured, or how they operate – we only care about trusting them to do what they promise.  We don’t want to waste our time going somewhere to only find the things we want are not in stock – we can do it much my effectively online.  We want to save ourselves time and hassle and we are more than happy to take risks doing it.  When a service provider offers you next day delivery and they meet that promise with no extra charge we eagerly place that order without even knowing how they are going to meet their commitment.  We don’t know them but we trust them. Read More