Self Awareness

Authentic leadership

By | Leadership, Mentoring, Self Awareness | No Comments

Last month I posted on LinkedIn my top 10 leadership behaviours using the info-graphic below and followed it up with a short video .  The first posting reached over 1700 people and the video over 400 so I was pretty happy with the reach and I received a number of messages and emails and one in particular stood out.

One person contacted me and said they would like to challenge the leadership behaviours I had published – in particular he asked me why I had not included authenticity.  Our conversation was so engaging I asked if it would be OK if I wrote about it and here, we are 😊

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Are you holding out for your holiday from work or worrying about it?

By | Leadership, Self Awareness | 2 Comments

Photo by Ethan Robertson on Unsplash


As I am sure you know there is lots of research that demonstrates the value of sunshine, being outdoors and basically enjoying the summer months.  There is no doubt with the vast majority of people I talk to their spirits are lifted with the lighter mornings and longer days.  Just the simple option to sit outside after a day at work makes it feel like you aren’t working 24/7 and there is more to life.  It’s a more positive time of year for many.

However, I have also noticed with a number of leaders I have mentored they appear to be “holding on” for their planned summer break.  They have placed a significant amount of importance on “getting away for a bit”, or “spending quality time with family” or “not having to do the commute”.    They talk about their vacation/holiday as if it is a magical period that once they leave work and embark on it somehow that short period of time will not only replenish their energy levels and allow for more positive relationships but it will rather miraculously make everything at work be better when they return.

In addition, there is a third category in an even more difficult place.    These people work even more ridiculously long hours on the run up to their holiday (business standards organisation Investors in People report 51% of people work extra hours before their holiday), they explain why they absolutely have to take a couple of critical calls when away and why their mobile phone will be used to check their emails so they can stay “on top of everything”.  They are completely convinced all they need is a week (or 2 if their family insists) away physically but need to stay connected “a little”.  If asked what happened last year, many will repeat the same story – explaining it’s just the way it has to be “working at this level” or “working here”.  To be honest I can hear myself saying very similar statements in the past and finding it difficult to break away.  I had amazing people around me so there was no real need to stay connected and it took my a few years to bring in the change to take a real break.  What tipped the balance was being hypocritical when almost insisting others forgot about work while on holiday when I didn’t – it became a credibility issue and appeared as a lack of trust in my teams so I wasn’t helping myself or others.

This is not just a seniority or UK issue but I can comment more on the UK as I’ve seen the statistics and according to a YouGov/Croner poll report, only one in three UK employees take their full holiday entitlement. Many people are reluctant to take annual leave because of the challenging economic climate, feeling compelled to work longer hours and take less days off.     Add to that heavier workloads (because employee levels are kept lower) and tighter deadlines and the pressure to perform to the highest standards builds – even if this means not taking necessary breaks from work.

Let’s be clear – everybody needs a break to relax and unwind.   The best thing you can do for yourself, researchers suggest, is look at time off from work as a necessary component of a healthy lifestyle.

Sounds logical – should be easy but still so many people struggle to get the balance right and to leave work alone for a short period of time.  If you can’t convince yourself that your health is the most important thing, or your friends and family need time with you or that you’ll actually be less impactful by working more, then connect with me.  I will happily book a session with you to talk about your challenges this summer (or any holiday period) and how it is possible to overcome any obstacles to taking time off even it means planning now for your next holiday!

Facing our fears at work with courage

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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

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

Appreciating the importance of understanding me

By | Self Awareness | 2 Comments

I’ve figured out over the years that if I understand me and then try and appreciate how “me” works (or doesn’t) with those around me there is a greater chance of something good happening. During my corporate life it became the basis of my leadership approach and I became a fan of Myers Briggs. Not to the degree that I became a practitioner but enough so that I understood my profile and the profile of those I worked with so I could not only be the best I could but also so I could understand people as individuals and therefore hopefully be a better colleague, team member, line manager, leader….. Read More

Can you really be YOU at work?

By | Self Awareness | 9 Comments

I get many questions about how it’s best to “turn up” at work – how should you be with peers, leaders or people that report to you. I also get asked a lot about leadership presence – people worried about giving the right impression as a leader or commenting that they don’t think they work for a “strong” leader. Read More

Motivated or Inspired?

By | Self Awareness | 6 Comments

As I started to write about my new company – Anything Is Possible – I found myself drafting text for my future web site explaining that I want to motivate and inspire people to believe that indeed anything is possible. My focus was on convincing leaders and/or owners of small companies that if they spent time understanding the people that work for them, invested time in appreciating differences and diversity then they could build a fantastic team, deliver incredible results at the same time as motivating and inspiring others. My own words then made me think – what makes us do something or act in a particular way? I have now found myself a little confused as to whether it’s about being motivated or being inspired or indeed something else and thought this would be an ideal topic for a blog. So here we are. . Read More