How Much Do You Own Your Strengths?

We all have strengths and weaknesses.

But how much do you fully OWN your strengths?

If you don’t do this, there are likely to be good reasons here. These can include our earlier conditioning, fear of failure, and perhaps being in the grip of the imposter syndrome.

What I have come to notice is that there is a difference between just knowing your strengths and truly owning it.

 Perhaps you are still not convinced and are asking, “So – what does it matter, especially as we typically do roles that match our strengths. 

These are things we are good at, and they come easily. 

We can even attend to some of these tasks on automatic.

That extra juice

However, when we “own our strengths,” we add depth and potency to who we are and what we do. 

It enriches those we contribute to, including team members, colleagues, other managers, customers, and clients.

We become more grounded in what we know to be true (our authenticity) and the impact our strengths have in these exchanges.   

It also creates a positive self-reinforcing loop.

Here is an example

A client shared that no matter how he felt inside, he always endeavored to portray a calm and enabling influence on his team. 

So recently, when he received feedback about his presence and calming influence as part of his leadership development,   a significant shift happened for him.

His confidence and self-belief strengthened in a way he had not expected.

 The benefits of this had a ripple effect on his team and other work colleagues.

Managerial encouragement

As a manager and leader – a gift you can give your people is to recognize and acknowledge your teammates for who they are, especially their particular strengths. 

It fulfills the core human need of being valued, recognized and appreciated for what we bring to the table.

Furthermore, sharing how these strengths and their role contributes to the vision and purpose of the company is not only energizing but also helps grow engagement.

You are also not robbing others of your gems.

Organizational parallel

Companies who own and pride themselves in what they stand for also give a clear message in the marketplace along with serving their clients well.

Final thoughts

Of course, we need to own our weaknesses as well but that is a topic in another blog!

And I do love serendipity.  Just as I finished writing this blog, Taika Waititi, a New Zealand filmmaker, actor, comedian, and an Oscar Nominee was being interviewed on TV about his new movie, Jojo Rabbitt. 

“Here in NZ, we don’t fist pump enough, yeah!” (in the promo clip) and then “I am beginning to try and own that I am better at this job……”  Kia Ora, Taika.


P.S. If you would like to read more articles by me, you can also follow me as per above or sign here for your free monthly newsletter for further articles on careers, leadership, personal and professional development. 


P.S. Image from Pexels 


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I don’t have time for this bs…….

The other day I had coffee with a university friend I had not seen for a while.

In discussing what we were up to, I mentioned emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) as I was preparing a session on it.

He said, with a smile, “I don’t have time for all that bullshit!”  Continue reading

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Needing clarity? This will help….

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” ― John Dewey 

Last week we spent two days with some upcoming leaders who are committed to developing and growing themselves as authentic leaders.

We deliberately built-in time for reflection after their individual and team activities.

As per the quote above, this reflective process enabled them to cull out the nuggets and move forward more confidently.

Your reflections?

The quote above may also resonate with you. You are well aware that the reflective process enables us to have more of a “helicopter or balcony” view on matters.

However, like many other clients, you are perhaps musing, “Where do I find the time to do this?”

After all, your daily schedule of back to back appointments and meetings, managing teams, customers, and other stakeholders, along with all the unscheduled things that pop up, leaves time for little else.
Continue reading

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Finding Your Voice

I was recently working with a talented and empathic emerging leader who despite having all the required capability, was holding herself back.

What a loss this withhold was to her team and organisation, not to mention her sense of confidence and self-efficacy.  There was some work to be done here.

Her example prompted me to write this blog.

Are you an emerging leader who is struggling to find your voice?

Do you find it easier to communicate one on one or in small groups but in larger groups, you retreat. You let the vocal ones take charge.

You have the needed knowledge and information, and your contribution will help and yet you hold back.

Or perhaps you want to, but the right words just don’t come.

Where there is a conflict or some courageous conversations to be had, you retreat even more. Avoidance is your default strategy.

Afterward, you think all the perfect responses – especially those one-liners you could have delivered, but they are left smoldering inside.  The moment has gone.

The “lack of voice” can also be linked to confidence issues dating back to early childhood.  Second-guessing is not uncommon.

Some of us grew up with “you are to be seen but not heard” or worse, “you are neither to be seen nor heard!”  What a legacy this leaves.

And yet  find our voices we must.  It is critical in the workplace when we have to influence our various stakeholders.

The cost of not being able to say, express, and influence those we need to are high.

We are also left feeling disempowered, diminished, and not feeling so good about ourselves.

Can you relate to any of this? Has this or something similar happened to you?  For some, not having a voice, can be a default way of being.

If yes, what has helped you find your voice?

Finding your voice can also be difficult if you have introverted preferences; you need time and prefer to think things through before speaking.  Our extroverted colleagues, on the other hand,  think as they talk.

It could be compounded further if you were not encouraged, even punished for speaking up.

Here are some strategies you might like to try:

  • De-bunk the old conditioned messages about “who you are and what you should or shouldn’t say and do.”
  • Connect with what is in your heart and the message that you are ignoring
  • Know your skills, strengths, interests and passion and a commitment to sharing your gifts and contribution
  • Build confidence through small steps of practicing and speaking your truth/perspective, firstly in one-on-one than larger meetings
  • Find ways to get your thoughts heard in meetings even when you are not 100% clear on your decision. For example, a client who used to ask clarifying questions which not only got his voice heard but helped others as well.
  • Read and do courses on being assertive and public speaking
  • Join groups like Toastmasters
  • Find a coach, mentor or committed listener who believes in you so you can talk through scenarios that you find challenging
  • Deliberate practice of skills and techniques and the growth mindset of “I am learning, practicing, and developing myself as I go!”
  • And most of all, back yourself

Kris Carr, a New York Times and #1 Amazon best-selling author, puts it aptly, “It is not about finding your voice; it is about giving yourself permission to use your voice.”

Not sharing the best of you not only holds you back but robs others of your worthy contribution.

If you can relate to this, what has worked for you?

P.S. Want to learn more about coaching and leadership?

Check out the World Business and Executive Coach Summit  (WBECS)

Image courtesy of Pixels


P.S. If you would like to read more articles by me, you can also follow me as per above or sign here for your free monthly newsletter for further articles on careers, leadership, personal and professional development. 




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Leading with a sense of entitlement


Whether you are a manager, leader, or employee, having a sense of entitlement can be damaging to your career. It can be the start of a slippery slope which invariably ends in a hasty exit – being removed or fired from a previously respected position.

With the person’s name and reputation tarnished – regardless of the results they have achieved – unanswered questions, doubt, mistrust, a sense of shame and embarrassment typically arise for many including staff, organization, and family members.

In using the word entitlement, I am not referring to certain benefits we all have as per legal, contractual, or fundamental moral rights.

But more, the privileged sense that comes through one’s role and place in society, organization or political life, where one gets used to a level of position, power, privilege, and perks.

What I am addressing here is the egotistical and entitled thinking where “who I am” (an important person!) takes precedence over “what I do” (how I perform) and “what I can get away with” especially when transparency is lacking.

Organizational culture change

A sense of entitlement typically emerges in organizations when there is a call for massive structural and cultural change. With such impending changes, employees can feel challenged.

If there has been a culture of entitlement in the organization – such as a celebrity culture or where an organization has been a dominant player or market leader – the loss of entitlement hits even harder.

Employees and managers alike can experience pain and discomfort as they come to terms with a new standard and benchmark of doing things, a different set of values and emerging culture.

Where there has been a culture of entitlement, the pervasive expectation is for things to continue as they have been.

A sense of entitlement embodies within it an unquestioning “as of right” attitude, belief and behaviour – “I have always had it this way, I deserve it, and it should be mine.”

Leadership role

A sense of entitlement is present when a person in a position of power and privilege justifies their “crossing the line” such as infidelity, using work funds for personal reasons such as holidays or gambling and abusing a power relationship in some way.

A typical justification here can be, “I work hard enough; I am allowed to have some fun and that it is part of the leadership role.

When the line gets crossed, executive or not, career derailment is just around the corner.

Our unconscious bias

Our sense of entitlement – conscious or unconscious – can blind us to what we need to pay attention to and to what is going on around us.

A sense of entitlement often goes hand in hand with narcissistic personalities and arrogance. Conversely, empathy – the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes – tends to be low.

As one astute leader put it, “Entitlement sets in when a leader has been in the job too long. They also get more and more autocratic and cynical about people in their organization.”   It takes emotional courage for a leader to move on after some considerable years at the helm.

If you are coming from a place of entitlement, it can be hard to see what the fuss is about. It’s like fish in water – it’s hard to see anything else as this is the only known and pervasive reality.

Some people experience a sense of privilege and make much of their exceptional physical or intellectual attributes – yet these too change over time.

A sense of unconscious entitlement can be a privilege for those in a power position, such as being from the dominant culture.

It can be challenging when things change and it leaves one clinging to their sense of entitlement. Anger – a common reaction can take the form of, “how dare you…” or passive aggressiveness – “I will get you” or resistance in some other way.

Leadership Lesson

Given the engrained and automatic nature of a sense of entitlement, what is the lesson here?

The wise approach is to watch out and catch yourself when you are coming from a sense of entitlement.

This awareness may come in the form of an opposing viewpoint or feedback from a manager, colleague, caring friend, or loved one – if they can see what is going on.

Pay attention to where you may be tempted to cross the line or experience a strong sense of entitlement.

If you don’t pay attention and take the right action, long term, it could seriously harm your career.

To raise your awareness here, you could also make a note of the things you take for granted and have a sense of privilege and entitlement about.

A great question to ask is, “How might this look from the outside?” Fairness is a good abiding principle to be mindful of.

Or “How might I feel if I was on the receiving end of what I see as my sense of entitlement and the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that go with that?” Remember the golden rule!

If your moral compass is giving you a negative signal, however weak, then it is time to step back, re-think things and talk to someone you trust.

Be willing to have your opinions and world view tested from time to time.

Life is a great leveler, and one thing is for sure – the very things we hold on to with dear life are precisely the things where we get tested and challenged.  And this is where our growth edge lies.


P.S. If you would like to read more articles by me, you can also follow me as per above or sign here for your free monthly newsletter for further articles on careers, leadership, personal and professional development. 

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The Coaching Event Not to be Missed!

The WBECS Pre-Summit officially opens its doors today… And they’re kicking off the event with a selection of speakers that you will love.

Check out the Pre-Summit speaker line up and grab yourself a seat before they are gone.

Would recommend registering for their annual no-cost, and highly acclaimed Pre-Summit to learn from 40+ of the industry’s top experts. Reserve your seat for the free speaker sessions today.

Their Summit offers pure value!

You can expect powerful coaching techniques and the latest developments in our industry. You’ll discover innovative tools and wisdom covering a broad variety of coaching disciplines. And you can be certain that any live class you attend is 100% worth your time.

Let us learn from some of the best thought leaders in the world together!


P.S. If you would like to read more articles by me, you can also follow me as per above or sign here for your free monthly newsletter for further articles on careers, leadership, personal and professional development. 

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How Jacinda Ardern Sets a New Global Benchmark for Leadership and Why We Should Pay Attention

One of the criticisms I’ve faced over the years is that I’m not aggressive enough or assertive enough, or maybe somehow, because I’m empathetic, it means I’m weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong.”  Jacinda Ardern

There is so much written and discussed about what good leadership is.

Ultimately though, whatever the context, leadership is as leadership does.    And nothing demonstrated this as well as the authentic and emotionally intelligent leadership of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the last few weeks.

In the wake of the horrendous terrorist act and the massacre of 50 people innocently going about their daily life which at that moment was praying at their local mosques, one thing that did shine through and united us was the inspirational leadership of our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

What happened that Friday fifteenth of March left New Zealanders feeling shocked, personally and nationally attacked and moved beyond words, “How could this happen here?”

Our unsuspecting little paradise at the bottom of the world had been subjected to the horrors that other countries had endured many times and we had now lost that innocence. We were in a state of pure disbelief.

During these dark days of shock, unfathomable loss and despair, Jacinda Arden’s vision, values and genuine words of comfort and connection pulled everyone together.

So, what made our PM’s leadership stand out and touch so many?  This even more so in the current global context where some other leaders are driving and deepening the fears and divisions based on “us and them.”

Here are some of the signature strengths, qualities and values that she embodied in the handling of this tragedy which got the attention of people globally:

  • Empathy– She felt and connected with the pain of the victim’s families along with the Christchurch residents who had already been through so much already with the earthquakes along with New Zealand’s pain. These were not just empty words. The image of her giving comfort as she hugged a victim’s family member with a boy in her arms still resonates powerfully.
  • Compassion– Her kind, compassionate and “ego-less” approach to handling this terrorist attack has reverberated through the entire world. Her authentic approach conveys heart and care.  It is such a refresher from how politicians generally act and speak.
  • Fronting up– The PM availed herself and was on the ground the very next day meeting the families in their sorrow. This was followed up with further visits including mosques and vigils in other cities as well.
  • Cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity– She put on a hijab like it was second nature – a respectful singular act which spoke volumes; the image reverberating across the globe including being projected on to the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world in United Arab Emirates.
  • Decisiveness– She acted fast and almost within 48 hours she had declared that there was going to be a ban on the semi-automatic rifles which the terrorist had used. She later announced that a Royal Commission of inquiry was to be held about how the intelligence and security agencies had handled the situation leading to the events.
  • Composure, dignity and grace– She demonstrated grave sorrow while at the same time remaining calm and composed. At the National Remembrance Day today, with over 25,000 attendees, she spontaneously received a standing ovation.
  • Values based leadership Integrity– A very important point is that all of her above responses and behaviours did not that just get “turned on” but remain a true reflection of her authentic leadership. That is who she fundamentally is – she leads with her core values that she believes and lives by.
  • Vulnerability – She was not afraid to show her vulnerability – her sense of devastation and deep loss and being moved close to tears on occasions.Her face with the hijab said it all.  When asked by a student at a Christchurch school how she was feeling, her response was, “I’m very sad.”
  • Language– The PM used words that were inclusive, comforting and also clear. Her powerful speech included the following  … “This is not us. Many of those affected will be members of our migrant communities — New Zealand is their home — they are us. The terrorist is not us. He chose us but we did not choose him. You will never hear me mention his name.”  Powerful stuff that pulled us together and united us.

Through it all, Jacinda Ardern has highlighted a new blueprint for leadership – that leadership and politics can be done differently.

That care, compassion and kindness can be strongly partnered with strength, decisiveness and unity.

She has set a new benchmark for leaders everywhere to re-think things and step out of the fixed mind-set of “business as usual.”  Will others follow?

Here’s  one  analysis which  lays out the necessary  steps. It’s from  Guardian writer  Suzanne Moore who wrote:

Ardern has moulded a different consensus, demonstrating action, care, unity. Terrorism sees difference and wants to annihilate it. Ardern sees difference and wants to respect it, embrace it and connect with it. 

Here is an agnostic showing that love will dismantle hate. This is leadership, this light she shines, guiding us though to a world where we see the best of us as well as the worst.


Image: The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern speaking at the National Remembrance Day in Christchurch on 29 March, 2019.

Download your brief leadership development action guide here.


P.S. If you would like to read more articles by me, you can also follow me as per above or sign here for your free monthly newsletter for further articles on careers, leadership, personal and professional development. 


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An Invitation to All Coaches: Learn about Narrative Coaching

If you are a coach or have some interest in coaching – you will not want to miss out on this!

Next week, Dr. David Drake is offering 2 final immersion trainings on Narrative Coaching at no cost and there are still some seats available.

To register, simply click one of the links below and choose the session that suits your schedule:

March 12th, 2019 – 10am ET

Register for the session here

March 13th, 2019 – 6pm EST

Register for the session here

In the workshop, David shares his insights into a holistic, experiential coaching process that helps you to uncover, understand and change what drives human behavior. You will see how to work with your clients in a deeper, more meaningful way and how to create change that lasts far beyond your coaching session.

“One of the best coaching webinars that I have ever attended. And I have been a coach for over fifteen years now. Unbelievable levels of generosity and meaningful sharing. Thank you!” – Siddharth N.

“I feel I can breath more easily already, a breath of fresh air not to focus on goals first when clients are already in overwhelm. So helpful, thank you!” – Kizzy H.

Excited to dive in? I look forward to hearing your thoughts afterward!

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Looking back to look ahead….

How quickly 2018 passed, Time  now to pause, look back, reflect and ask what your priorities will be in the brand New Year!

Personally  I‘ve looked at the gains and achievements of the past year.  From that  I’ve also  tried to  find, and focus on a theme for the year ahead. There’s already an element here which needs more priority  – and it lies in the simple but neglected word,  gratitude.

Albert Schweitzer  put it like this “…at times our own light goes out and is re-kindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

Gratitude is a pillar of positive psychology and has a direct correlation on our own feelings of positivity and well-being. It helps maximize the potential benefits of positive experiences and emotions on our lives.

Research on the concept shows that people, who are more grateful have higher levels of subjective well-being are less stressed, less depressed and more satisfied with their lives and relationships.

We feel more optimistic, have lower blood pressure, have more positive thoughts and a robust immune system and are more compassionate and forgiving.

Our resourcefulness and capacity  is also believed to expands when we are in a more positive frame of mind and we are better able to deal with life’s challenges.

Gratitude is also about what we give – not just receive  – and this could not be better highlighted than during this festive season when giving and gratitude go hand in hand.

Wishing you and your family a safe, enjoyable and fulfilling Christmas and New Year!

Warm regards

P.S Image taken with the friendly  Skycity gnome! 🙂


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How organisations can support people transitioning back to work

I was recently asked as to how organisations can best support people transitioning back to work. A key in helping people ease back into the work routine is flexibility.

The reasons for employee time out can be many, including – parental leave, accident or ill health, looking after family members with medical issues and or redundancy.

Organisations who provide flexibility in their support for people transitioning back to work can win, as can the employee, by making the difference between a successful or an unsuccessful transition.

Setting things right from day one is a great place to start. Continue reading

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