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Coaching for Success
Ashley Palmer-Watts:
Always Developing
Way back in 2005, when in his mid-twenties, Ashley Palmer-Watts had already achieved in his career that to which many might aspire – he was Head Chef at a restaurant with three Michelin stars.  And not just any restaurant, but The Fat Duck.
So what next?! What was his next achievement to be and how would he stay focused?

For him, the trigger was being invited to present the Royal Institute Christmas Lecture.  Heston Blumenthal, Ashley’s manager, addressed Ashley’s doubts about his ability to do this by recommending he get some coaching!
Despite some doubts, applying the Fat Duck ethos of trying new things to see what happens, Ashley decided to give it a go.

At his first session it became clear that apart from the 'technical' skills of presentation, he needed to work on his confidence in front of an audience.  Ashley believes that you have to invest in something in order to get outcomes, so worked hard, both with Mike Duckett and between sessions, to achieve his objectives and in return received much acclaim after the Lecture.
Ashley is aware that coaching should not be perceived as a blunt instrument for tackling a narrowly defined problem, but as a subtle tool to help clients achieve broader objectives.  He therefore had further sessions with Mike after the Lecture, with the broad aim of becoming a superb Head Chef.  He wanted to be a leader, a role model and an inspiration.  Most of all he wanted to earn those things, not to expect them just because he had the job title.
He therefore worked on management techniques, problem solving and how to grow professionally to become the Head Chef he wanted to be.
He also wanted to learn how to free his mind, to become more creative.  He needed to avoid getting bogged down with dealing with problems in the kitchen and fire fighting, instead focussing on his creativity. (Familiar issue?!)
Mike gave Ashley a number of tools to help him achieve this aim.  Just one of these tools was specific pieces of music to listen to while he goes for a half hour walk.  Ideas are not necessarily generated during that half hour, but his creativity is stimulated and he is confident that the results justify the time investment.  Before opening 'Dinner' at The Mandarin Hotel, Ashley did this every day.  The rigours of service mean that this is no longer possible, but he still uses this technique as often as he can – if it works, keep doing it!
Sometimes Ashley doesn’t really know what he wants to achieve in a coaching session – there’s no immediate ‘problem’.  It never takes long though to draw out what’s not quite right, what’s not working, what needs improvement, and the next two hours then fly by!  Ashley appreciates that Mike doesn’t put things into his head, he gives him tools to help him “crack the code”, to see how simple things can be. 
Looking back on what he has achieved so far, Ashley is now comfortable with the fact that he (and anyone else) can develop further than he thought, given the right tools and the right support.  He is a driven person who wants to become even more successful.
He does perceive himself as being very lucky to work for a company which also believes this and which is prepared to support him to achieve his aims, and who clearly see this as being of benefit to the company.
Ashley's advice is that however successful you already are, and however you define success, you can and should work on yourself in order to either maintain your success or to become even more successful

The Dark Side of Charisma
Many clients set themselves a goal for their leadership style that relates in some way to 'charisma'.

It is a piece of performance that can be developed and involves subtle behaviour changes, driven by changes in thoughts about self and others.

We tend to think that charismatic leaders are the perfect role model....BUT here are some thoughts about the 'dark side' of that character. This blog includes ideas such as charisma dilutes judgment: it influences through charm rather than logic.

The conclusion also makes an interesting point that the last people we should appoint as leaders are those that are coming forward for the role (In the same way that Politicians should be the last people we put in control)!
Read more.........

Why Giving Up Email Is The Way To Go
I regularly have cause to moan about the misuse of email and text - indeed i have been know to blog about it. Now at least I'm not alone in urging caution.

Lee Timmins, in Management Today has listed 10 top reasons for getting rid of email; they include:

  • Time: The average employee spends around 32 days / year simply managing emails (not acting on them etc, just managing them!
  • Poor prioritisation: starting the day by just looking into the infamous inbox can get you distracted and off on an unplanned day.
  • Stress: A study is quoted showing that heart rate increases to a 'high alert' status whenever checking emails.
I could go on....and so does Lee!
Read more.........

Why Businesses Should Listen To The Rolling Stones
In case you missed it, here's an article from The Daily Mail drawing lessons from the continuing success of the band.

Some years ago I had the idea of writing a book on The Rock & Roll of Leadership, cooperating with Steve White who has had a long and distinguished career playing drums in the Paul Weller band and standing in for his brother in Oasis. I think we would have drawn the same conclusions including:
  • Having a clear vision
  • Handle conflict positively
  • Adapt & innovate
Read more.........

Coaching for Success
Release creativity; develop your leadership; make confident decisions; perform under pressure.

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