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The Power Of Empathy
Alex Marks was working as Head Chef at Maze in London, part of the Gordon Ramsey Group, having already worked in a range of Michelin starred restaurants. 
By some people’s definition he was already successful, but Alex knew that he was not happy with all aspects of his performance. He wanted to be successful, but by his own definition of success.
What Alex knew he wanted to do was to better understand his weaknesses and to improve on areas where he was already good.  Having been introduced to Mike Duckett by his line manager at Maze, he had a preliminary chat with Mike which really fueled his interest.  Testimonials provided, particularly relating to Heston Blumenthal, only added to the likelihood of Alex starting to be coached – understanding what others had achieved from the coaching process was very helpful to Alex.  He then took advice and guidance from others, both inside and outside the world of catering, and took the advice he got from all sources – go for it!
Looking at his goals was Alex’s key objective for coaching sessions. 
It was quickly identified that while Alex had been very focused on working within a major corporate within the world of catering, what would give him more satisfaction and a greater sense of personal achievement would be to work for a small group of restaurants (a goal which has now been achieved).
Within that overarching objective, work with his coach helped Alex to identify smaller goals which were much more to do with what was going on inside his head. 
He wanted to become a better manager, better understanding other people involved with the business (staff, management and customers alike). 
One tool he used in coaching sessions was to visualise himself in the role of his staff to try to feel what they may be feeling with him as their manager – challenging, but valuable work which he is 100% sure has helped him manage people with significantly more empathy, enabling them to be more successful which in turn brings more success to both him and the group.
Reflecting on the coaching process, Alex feels it is important to work with a coach who quickly grasps the ideas and concepts raised by the client and who has the flexibility to change tack when circumstances change, which certainly happened for Alex when a short time into the process he parted company with Maze. 
Alex likes the fact that he does most of the talking in a session and subsequently got significant benefit from the sessions which dealt with interview techniques.
Looking back at “the old Alex”, the new Alex is really quite surprised by how much the coaching process has changed him, with those changes certainly being for the better.  He realises that the onus is completely on him to put into practice what he works on within his coaching sessions.  There are times when he is faced with a challenging situation and can clearly hear Mike’s voice in his head saying “Stop and think about how you’re going to handle this.”.  He likes that voice, and listens to it.
For the new Alex, goals seem achievable, rather than unachievable.  His delegation skills has improved immensely.  The old Alex would have done many tasks himself which could and should have been delegated – he is now comfortable delegating to (for example) his Sous Chef.  As a result of this the Sous Chef has grown and feels more trusted and valued while Alex has had time freed up to deal with other aspects of his job.
Over the year or so he has been coached, Alex has developed a ability to implement what he focuses on in coaching sessions.  He spent some time looking at how some of the people he works with are naturally positive while others are naturally negative.  It is now second nature for him to internally evaluate into which of these categories people fall and to change the way he works with them accordingly.  This enables him to help others to get the best out of themselves, whether those people are his staff, his managers or indeed people with who he has relationships outside the work environment.
Alex has learned not to doubt himself as much as he used to – he now has a firm belief that everything is achievable if tackled in the right way.  He’s definitely not the same Alex Marks as a year ago.  That Alex Marks was usually tired and frequently negative.  The Alex Marks of today has far greater confidence, is far better able to manage his frustrations and to plan, delegate and manage more effectively.  All of this means he’s less stressed which means he’s less tired and has led to significantly better relationships both inside and outside work.

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

To act or do nothing?
Lessons from penalty shoot-outs!

So another penalty shoot out ends in defeat for England. What can this tell us about anything - other than perhaps England need to practice more!

Well, this interesting piece by Ian Lesley draws on previous research by economics psychologists looking at the outcome of penalties where the goal keeper either moves one way or the other OR stays still. This analysis showed more success in making saves when the keeper just stays in the middle.

Lesley extrapolates to the world of decision making leaders and wonders if sometimes the desire to be seen to be doing SOMETHING is the wrong thing and perhaps doing nothing is best.

Read more.........

Wholesome Foods - Wholesome Morals?
Organic Food Can Harshen Moral Judgments!

More intriguing research on the link between physical experience and personal thinking styles

We know from recent research that sweet tastes can induce pro-social behaviour and that bad tasting food can harshen our moral judgments.

What about the mere sight of different types of food?

Read more.........

Want To Be An Inspirational Leader? Just Act Like One.
This piece from Richard Wiseman in The Guardian takes us back to William James in the 19th century who realised acting can change thoughts and feelings in line

with the action. 

Wiseman reminds us here that whilst thoughts drive feelings, which drives behaviour, it isn't always so. If you change your behaviour or even just your stance or smile this will feedback to your emotional and thinking self.

I have a number clients who are developing their leadership style and the simple idea of 'acting as if you were already the leader you want to be' is very powerful in changing their perception of themselves and their abilities.

A note of caution when reading this; wiseman is critical of visualisation to change thoughts first. Notice that he's talking about either daydreaming or visualising stuff other people suggest - never a good idea in my book!

Read more.........

Does The Availability of Men Affect Women's Career Choice?
An intriguing series of experiments here, designed to tease out possible causes behind the statistic that in US states with lower proportions of men, women tend to have higher paid careers.

Is it that fewer men means a better labour market for women or that difficulty in finding a mate changes women's life priorities?

Follow the link and find out!

Read more.........
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