Leading Blog: A Leadership Blog: 12 Behaviors You Can Practice to Make You a More Inspiring Leader

Jack Zenger, Joe Folkman and Scott Edinger conducted a four year study of over 200,000 responses describing 20,000 leaders to determine what makes an outstanding leader. The results pointed to the fact that the ability to “inspire and motivate to high performance” was the single most powerful predictor of being perceived as an extraordinary leader…..read more at the link below.

Leading Blog: A Leadership Blog: 12 Behaviors You Can Practice to Make You a More Inspiring Leader.


Wisewolf Consulting now offers coaching and mentoring through Wisewolf Coaching for people at all levels to ensure they reach their full potential, particularly those coming to terms with change or charged with leading or managing change.  You can find Wisewolf Coaching at this link

G&W Consulting now provides MPM Reviews – evidence based contract performance reviews, peer reviews and healthchecks across the lifecycle of service contracts, services , projects and programmes; this includes advice and guidance on handling the follow-on business improvement issues and related assurance & risk governance mechanisms.  You can find out more at this link.


If you are managing a change team you may work with a number of contractors – finance and HR service providers for example. It is surprising how few clients and contract managers bother to get to know their contractors and suppliers. Oh yes they engage during the procurement process. But quite often the teams that actually manage and deliver the contract will be quite different to those who negotiated it. The marriage has been arranged and now both parties need to settle into a new life together. And like a marriage the contractual relationship will develop better with good communication. The contract gives you a skeleton for the relationship – you both now need to put flesh on the bones! Every organization has its own unique culture and way of doing business. You can help your supplier deliver successfully if you help him to understand the culture of the organization you expect him to deliver in. If you understand the culture of your supplier’s organization you will understand better how to get the best from him. For example, if yours is a distributed organization, can you expect the same level of service from all of your supplier’s regional teams? Perhaps there are extra services available from your supplier in particular regions to meet your own regional team needs.

When things go well!

It is surprising how few contract managers actually tell their suppliers when they are pleased with the service being delivered. Many seem anxious that if they do so they be thought soft and will be taken advantage of as a result. If this happens, quite simply you have wrong supplier. You can, and should, be able to praise your supplier without appearing weak. Reinforce and reward good performance with praise and advertise that performance within your organization. Remember, good supplier performance reflects well on you as contract manager.

When things go wrong

The first message is to tell your supplier exactly what your problem is as plainly as possible. Don’t ramble – be as precise as you can in presenting your evidence – times, dates, statistics, complaints! Then give your supplier an opportunity and enough time to investigate and respond. Ask for action and if the matter is urgent, let them know and explain why. Be scrupulously fair in judging their response regardless of the internal pressures within your own organisation – this is part of your responsibility as contract manager, If the supplier’s explanation is reasonable and they can make restitution – let them do so. It is rarely advantageous to invoke the contract if the service can be restored and you can use your own communication skills to reassure your internal customers. However be clear about the failure resolution clauses in your own contract. The majority of suppliers will not want a contract to fail – never underestimate the value of talking. The issues may need to be raised at more senior level in your organization and in that of the supplier. CEO to CEO telephone calls are a better result than contract failure and expensive legal action. Remember your supplier’s failure is your failure and with good communication on most occasions this can be avoided.

Leading With Kindness: How Good People Consistently Get Superior Results By William F. Baker, Ph.D. and Michael O’Malley, Ph.D.

“By now, many leaders have realized that when it comes to business, nice guys often finish first. Old-fashioned images of corporate callousness and greed have been replaced by a gentler, more human conception of great leadership. But how does one define “kindness” in the context of business? And what is the best way to “use”this deceptively complex notion as a guiding principle to lead an organization successfully into the future? Far from presenting a naive idea of kindness, this eye-opening book identifies the surprising attributes successful “kind” leaders share. This realistic book shows leaders how they can use sincerity, honesty, and respect for the good of their organization……  For more follow this link


This is post is going to be concerned with, what John Nettles’ character described in a recent edition of Midsomer Murders as, ‘the delicate art of delivering bad news’   We covered giving feedback in a recent post and this is closely related, so you may wish to read that as well.

On most occasions when you give feedback your hearer is expecting a message of some kind – good or bad.  Where as bad news often comes as a shock! Even if is it expected in principle – the reality and the details may be hard to bear!  There is, and should be,  a lot more  to it than just saying or writing the words!  If you want to ensure there is the best possible out come then you will need to prepare and to follow-up, as well as delivering the message well!   The advice given here is based on that usually given to medical students in the UK as part of their training.  But it applies equally well if you are giving seriously bad news at work,  for example,  about redundancy!


Preparing to give bad news is almost as important as actually giving it. For instance, where are you going to  have the meeting?  Where you’ll sit or stand in relation to the hearer and even what you will wear is important if the news is seriously bad.  If you are going to write, then you need to think about the medium – this is not the time for a very brief email!

When choosing a place, you should make sure it’s quiet with little or no chance of interruption. Make sure it’s some place you can make the person feel as comfortable as possible.  If possible, sit close to the person at eye-level with no barrier between you.  Studies have shown that many people feel isolated and alone if you sit behind a desk or some other barrier. They may also perceive you as cold and uncaring if you sit too far away.  Knowing how you should comfort really must come from what you know about the person!  For instance,  if you’ve found they don’t like people sitting too close this may make them feel uncomfortable rather than at ease.

One thing that is important is for you to be very clear about the facts, the explanation behind a decision, for example, before you begin.  You also need to know the options open to the person.  In case of redundancy, what support can the person expect from HR?  In this example, identify an HR contact that you can pass onto the individual?   The worst thing you can do when giving bad new is to give the individual the impression that you didn’t even care enough to find out the facts.  Know your material and don’t work from notes,  if you can, on this occasion!  Notes can provide a barrier and you will not be able to fully judge their reactions so well!

Work out what your own feelings are about the situation and how to deal with them before the meeting.  You want the person to know you are sorry but it isn’t fair to overwhelm them with your own grief!

Giving the news

Watching the person’s reaction and listening are very important while actually while giving bad news. Just from body language or the extent of eye contact, you can tell if they understand and accept what you’re saying and what emotions they are experiencing.   Be prepared for anger or despair with serious news.    It is really important to remember to speak clearly and slowly.  Don’t jump straight into the news – go through the usual courtesies at the beginning of the meeting.  In a letter warn them that you have bad news and say that you are sorry about it!

Throughout the meeting, ask them if they have any questions and if they understand what you’re telling them.    Your own feelings should be dealt with before the meeting and should not weigh on them!


After you’ve given the bad news, don’t end the meeting abruptly. Ask again for questions or if they need any information repeated. Offer additional sources of information like pamphlets or the names of support groups if they are available. Make sure to pass on the name and  contact details for HR.

Most of us feel somewhat lost after receiving very bad news.  One way to deal with this is to schedule  another meeting shortly afterwards or to ring them to discuss how they are going to manage the time ahead.  At the very least you will want to make sure  they processed what you told them. Then you may want to allow them some time alone!. Just don’t rush them out of your office or wherever the meeting is taking place.  Take time to be kind – compassion costs us nothing!


In all kinds of situations we may need to give feedback to someone about something they have said or done.  This may be an employee, a work colleague, a business partner.    But it may  equally well be a close friend or relative.  In my view the same principles hold good and they certainly work for maintaining a positive approach in change teams

McGill and Beatty (in “Action learning: A practitioner’s guide”, London: Kogan Page, 1994, p. 159-163) provide useful suggestions about giving effective feedback:

1. Clarity — be clear about what you want to say. Think before you speak!

2. Emphasize the positive —  this doesn’t mean you are endorsing the present behaviour!

3. Be specific — avoid general comments and clarify pronouns such as “it,” “that,” etc – be as clear and simple as you can!

4. Focus on behaviour or the words spoken or written rather than the person.

5. Refer to behaviour/approaches that can be changed.

6. Be descriptive rather than evaluative. Try to stay in the neutral ground emotionally!

7. Own the feedback — Use ‘I’ statements. This is your view!

8. Generalizations – be wary of word like “all,” “never,” “always,” etc., be more specific — often these words are arbitrary limits on behaviour.

9. Be very careful with advice!  People rarely struggle with an issue because of the lack of some specific piece of information; often, the best help is helping the person to come to a better understanding of their issue, how it developed, and how they can identify actions to address the issue more effectively.

I would add one further piece of advise – always put yourself in the other person’s shoes!  Think how you would feel receiving the same information!  No room here for humiliation!


Team behavior theory ( Tuckman) and leadership theories (Hershey and Blanchard, Adair) can be brought together to into a simple model  to show how different Leadership styles are required across the life cycle of an activity.

At the start an activity, task or project , the individual, team or group can be confused and uncoordinated!  The leader needs to be more directive; focusing on the task at hand and promoting ownership by the individual or team member and promoting their confidence.  As they develop, the leader focuses on coaching to get them into the normative stage!  Here it is agreed how they will behave to complete the task!  There may be conflict and a leader may need a facilitative approach to lead them to resolution.  As the individual or team becomes more confident and self managed the leader concentrates on leading the team overall and develops a delegating style!

This leaves most leaders with a challenge – how do I develop the competence and confidence to use a wide range of leadership styles?  Working with an experienced confidence coach makes all the difference. I would like to help you.  Email me now to arrange a free, half-hour, coaching session by Skype.

Wendy Mason is a career coach working mainly with professional women who want to make that jump to senior level while having a life outside work. Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR. She now divides her time between face to face coaching, and coaching and blogging on-line. Wendy is a trained confidence coach. You can contact Wendy at wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com and find out more at http://wisewolfcoaching.com

Coming shortly – Getting There With WiseWolf, the Career and Personal Development Programme – if you would like to know more email wendymason@wisewolfcoaching.com

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In the present climate business performance is key to business survival.  You and your organization cannot afford to underperform.  But how do you ensure your performance management system actually works and works well!

Follow these steps to develop and implement an effective performance management system

1. Show leadership from the top

Those at the top of the organization must be committed to a performance culture and be prepared to change their behavior if necessary to reflect this.   the performance management framework  must be operated throughout the organization from top to bottom.

2. Develop business plans

Business planning must be realistic – what can be delivered with the resources available.  How will those available resources change over time?  Take into account the people management implications – if you invest in training – how will that effect your business plan?   Once plans and priorities have been established, they need to be translated into department, team and individual performance plans through out the organization.  Can you see the the organization’s objectives reflected in the most junior employee’s performance plan?

3. Establish what good performance looks like and how it can be measured

All performance indicators and other criteria used to measure performance must be clearly communicated to staff and all in the organization. Think about what really matters and focus on measuring that.  Keep the number of measures to a minimum.  Want to know more about performance measures – follow this link

4. Monitor and evaluate

Systems need to be set up to ensure that performance, and its effect on service delivery, can be monitored and evaluated throughout the year.

5. Agree specific performance objectives

The organization’s plans and priorities must be translated into department, team and intividual perforamnce objectives, usually by using performance appraisal and staff devlopment processes.  Individula plans are most effective when both manager and employee agree them.  Objectives should be SMART

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Agreed
  • Realistic
  • Time bound.

6. Develop an internal communications approach

Effective messages should target the intended audience in the whole range of ways available to you.   Develop a plan for how you will use them to target different communities within the organisation using for example:

  • email
  • intranet
  • newsletter/house magazine
  • notice board
  • team brief
  • video and in-house TV.

In addition, regular surveys and suggestion schemes are important ways of ensuring that employees have the opportunity to feedback on a wide range of issues that impact on  performance.

7. Ensure that performance framework systems are truly in place

A performance review/appraisal system is traditionally used to set objectives, identify support needs and measure progress against objectives. For it to work effectively, it must be clearly understood by both managers and employees. This requires that:

  • managers have access to guidance and training to ensure they manage performance effectively throughout the year
  • all employees have the necessary support, guidance and training to actively engage in the performance appraisal process.

If you don’t have these in place it is unlikely that you can become a high performing organisation

8. Support employees to succeed

Effective induction and probation processes for new employees are extremely important in setting the right expectations of performance for both the employee and the manager. Personal development plans (PDPs), resulting from the performance review process, should explain how development needs will be met.

9. Encourage performance improvement

Occasionally, performance does not meet the required standard. At organizational level, this should be addressed by identifying what the barriers are to effective performance and putting in place a plan to deliver improvement.

The principle is the same at both the team and individual level: there must be clear procedures for dealing with inadequate performance.

10. Recognize and reward good performance

Good performance needs to be recognized and, where appropriate, rewarded.

Recognizing performance is also about sharing success stories and knowledge across the organisation and highlighting how good performance helps the organisation as a whole.

If you would like to know more about how your organisation is performing follow this link to find out more about Making Performance Meaningful Reviews


Remember building self esteem is about valuing and feeling valued! Why don’t you be generous and start a value chain – your team will reward for your endeavor!

Be generous with encouragement
It may sound trite, but if a member of your team does a good job, let them know you have noticed. You know what looks like good and when you see it say so! Let the team know what you have seen and that your recognize a job well done and value it!

If a someone makes a mistake but they are doing their best, let them know that it’s okay. and back them up.  They already feel bad about letting you and the team down and what more can you expect than their best effort? It’s fine to give them pointers on what they can do better next time to help succeed, but don’t berate them just because they fail occasionally – value them.

On the other hand, if they are not giving it their best, point that out, and let them know that you expect more – and that they should, too. Your team members will respect you for this, especially if you apply this standard to the whole team (star players should never be exempt).  Make sure each link in the chain knows they are a diamond!

Be generous with rewards
We all  love to get rewards.  Think about what might be the right kind of rewards for your team – might not just be money?  May be its a a meal out occasionally or going to a sporting event!  What about shopping vouchers or tickets for a show?  What do they really enjoy?  So long as you have set some clear standards – give rewards when these are exceeded.    Don’t underestimate even the power of a certificate or plaque for “Team Member of the Month” !  A simple award ceremony over coffee and a recounting of the achievement can make the whole team feel good.

Be generous with your social time
Sure, you’ve spent hours at  work this week but the work is over and you are ready for some relaxation time.   Maybe one Friday a month you could spend the evening together with a quiz night or even just bowling.  Make sure you spend some time with each member of the team getting to know them away from work.  Le them know they matter to you as people.


In managing change as well as projects and programmes, we all talk a lot about quality and quality standards but how to you establish a standard.  Here are some tips

  1. Do you already have quality standards in your organization. Do you work in a large organization.  If so, someone has probably done the job for you.  If you have a central programme or portfolio office or Centre of Excellence they should be able to guide and advise you. If you have a central unit the chances are, you are required to use their standards anyway.   Even if you don’t have a central unit ask other managers what they use and consider using their’s as a starting point from which to develop your own ideas!
  2. Set up a quality group. Assemble a team from those with an interest in your work or your  project .  Start out by asking them what they think acceptable standards would be for the area they are interested in.  Then use them to monitor as you go to make sure you achieve the standard.    You’d be surprised how willing people are to help with this kind of activity!
  3. Understand how others perceive quality. You can conduct interviews with interested people and your stakeholders to ensure you understand the expectations for what you are trying to deliver.  For example, for an IT project, you could discuss expectations with managers about  usability and support. Ask them what they think is needed to deliver a successful project. You may think this is an obvious question, but some responses may give you a very different perspective on your stakeholders’ values, and also what isn’t important to them. Don’t underestimate the power of these interviews: they can help to align your perceptions of quality with those who have the major interest in what you do!
  4. Start with a template. There are lots of standard quality plans and templates out there – trying searching on the internet!  So you shouldn’t have to start with a blank sheet of paper. Use a good, robust template with options to pick and choose what might apply to your organization and project.
  5. Develop a consequence for each quality standard. For each standard you should identify what will happen if you don’t achieve it!  If the answer is not much, then it isn’t a real quality standard .  Don’t throw everything in – focus on what really counts.
  6. Review. Putting standards in place is a great way to ensure the quality of what you are delivering.  But you need to make sure they continue to be right!  Include a regular review.   Find whether or not they were used and what happened as a  result.  Revise and up date them as necessary to ensure they continue to  meet your organization’s needs.