Refocusing me – my new working day challenge

A great initiative from a dear friend and colleague …

Michael Watts

I have written a lot before about how I want to be a better me, and as part of this, I continually look at myself and see what I can do better.

And I did just that this morning!

I was on the train to work, sitting down, without a paper to read (I was running too late to stop at the shop!) I was thinking and reflecting – and I started to feel stuck again. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, I just wasn’t feeling that I was going anywhere – not literally, the train was moving! I was feeling overwhelmed with stuff I have been reading about all things that I just do in life – stuff like design thinking, digital living, user needs, reframing, and challenging the status quo.

So I turned to my iPad and found an app that has been a constant companion to…

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A to Z of Management and Leadership: ‘Coach’

For my brief explanatory video on ‘Coach’, go to:

To download a free (pdf) workbook, follow the link below:

As a leader, adopting a coaching style to support and challenge your staff can be one of the best investments you make. By asking your staff the right questions, challenging their actions and supporting them to make changes, you will be engaging in the most effective way to improve their performance. One approach to coaching that has been successfully adopted by many managers and professionals utilises the GROW model. GROW stands for:

Goal, Reality, Options, and Will

My free PDF looks at this in more detail.

Why not download your free copy and discover how you can use coaching to significantly improve the performance of your staff? It also includes a range of exercises that will help you develop your coaching style, with the help of your friends, colleagues, team members, and team as a whole.


Download your copy by following the link below.


A to Z of Management and Leadership: ‘Balance’

For my brief explanatory video on ‘Balance’, go to:


To download a free (pdf) workbook, follow the link below:

By definition, balance is achieved when different elements of a whole are equal or in the correct proportions. With that in mind, you may be wondering why balance is so important in business…

Well, one of the ways it’s needed is to maintain a balance of perspectives when assessing how well a business is doing. Managers and leaders must be able to consider balance within the context of an evolving set of organisational aspirations, market forces, social changes, and economic realities. One way businesses can explore diverse perspectives on performance is by using a tool called the Balanced Scorecard. This looks at how the organisation is performing in relation to their mission, focussing on 4 key aspects; Finance, Customer, Internal Processes, and Learning and Growth.

If you’d like to discover the 5 essential principles for creating and maintaining a balanced, strategy-focused organisation, download your free copy of the ‘Balance’ workbook  –

A to Z of Management and Leadership: Aspiration

For my brief explanatory video on ‘Aspiration’, go to …

To download a free (pdf) workbook, follow the link below:

Aspiration, by definition, is a strong desire to achieve something. What many organisation’s don’t realise, however, is that a clearly identified aspiration is its most important asset. The aspiration of an organisation is typically stated in a vision or mission statement, and is often associated with delivering their service to the highest possible standard.  But in order to succeed and achieve, an organisation’s people must share the same aspiration.  There are three key elements behind an individual’s desire to achieve:

• How clear they are about what they want to achieve,
• How realistic it is for them to achieve it, and
• How much they value achieving it.

It is the combination of these fundamentals that determines a person’s level of motivation. Therefore, it is vital that an organisation provides a clear picture as to where the team is heading and, as importantly, why.  This gives individual’s something to work towards within the context of the desired end result.
If you believe you or your team could benefit from exploring the concept of ‘Aspiration’ more fully, simply download my free workbook. It contains some thought-provoking ideas and an exercise to further develop you and your team.
To download a free (pdf) workbook, follow the link below:

Transactional Analysis and Leadership

At the core of the theory of Transactional Analysis (TA) is the belief that from early childhood we develop the ego-states of Parent, Adult and Child. All three ego-states (and their sub-categories) are present within us during our lives and will feature to a greater or lesser extent depending on how we interact and socialize with others. The ego-states display themselves in our attitudes, emotions and in our language. When we are being supportive we may use the language of the Nurturing Parent: “Let me help you”. When we are in control we may use the language of the Critical Parent “I need you to do this”. When we are rational, aware and free to choose we will tend to use Adult language: “So, here’s the challenge, what are our options here?”. And, when we are feeling insecure or perhaps playful or rebellious, we may use Childlike language: “Please give me some heIp”; “I’ve just had a great idea” or “Who are you to tell me what to do?”.

It is worth noting that when we refer to the use of certain styles of language, this might be either private (our “inner voice”) or public (expressed in our interactions with others). In some circumstances, the inner voice and the expressed communications are unaligned … i.e. we are playing a role that is unauthentic to our natural self. This may be functional or dysfunctional.

None of the ego-states (Parent, Adult or Child) are good or bad and all have a role to play in building and maintaining effective relationships with others. Sometimes, we need to take the lead and enforce standards (Critical Parent); sometimes support others in difficulty (Nurturing Parent); sometimes be intuitive and pick up the unexpressed words and/or emotions of others (Primitive Adult); sometimes be logical, fact-based and self-aware (Rational Adult); sometimes openly express our vulnerability or joy (Free Child); sometimes break some rules (Rebellious Child); sometimes ‘please’ others (Adapted Child).

Though none of the ego states are intrinsically good or bad, each might present problems if overused or inappropriately applied. For example, if overused, the Critical Parenting ego-state might result in becoming over-bearing or domineering; the Nurturing Parent might become stifling or disabling; the Primitive Adult might suffer paralysis through analysis; the Rational Adult might result in emotional detachment or a lack of imagination; the Free Child might lead to narcism or unrealistic optimism; the Rebellious Child might result in aggression or sabotage; and the Adapted Child might lead to dependency or exploitation.

We use these ego-states in a dynamic way, as we interact and are influenced by others. If a manager uses a Parenting style, it is likely to trigger either a Childlike response from a staff member or a confrontational riposte from a peer. If, however, an Adult style is adopted, it is more likely to trigger a “parallel” Adult response.

It is the implications of TA in group dynamics and in human development that make the subject such an important one for organizational leaders.

The crucial point is firstly to recognize our own ego-states. Here are some questions that may help in your personal explorations:

  • What ego-state predominates in your personal thoughts and interactions with people?
  • What triggers a change of state in you as a leader?
  • How are you different with certain people?
  • What particular situations lead to a shift in your mind-set and/or behaviour?
  • What are the implications of these patterns on your success as a leader?
  • What can you do to improve the leadership you provide to your team?

Next, you might consider what’s going on in your team. What language do you hear? Are you hearing the language of Adults who are problem-solving and making confident and functional decisions? Maybe you are hearing the language of Children who are trying to please at all costs (Adapted Child), or fighting against every attempt at change or improvement (Rebellious Child). Or maybe you are hearing Critical Parents who are blaming others for the ills of the operations.

Next, think about your work culture. Is your organization kept in check by a powerful directive leader (Critical Parent)? Is it ‘looked after’ by caring and supportive leader (Nurturing Parent)? Is it continuously developing and improving through a leader that empowers (combined Primitive and Rational Adult leader)? Is it allowed to run like a country-club (Free Child leader)? Is it overly influenced by a leader who is in conflict with external forces (Rebellious Child leader)?

Here are some further questions that may help in your explorations:

  • What is the impact of the organizational leader’s style on the way work gets done?
  • What behaviours are encouraged/discouraged by the organization’s over-riding culture?
  • What can you do to most effectively work within the organization?

An awareness of TA ego-states can make us become better leaders by increasing our awareness of the hidden “scripts” that shape our mind-sets and behaviours. A presumption underling TA theory and practice is that increasing the amount of Adult-to-Adult interactions we have accelerates the growth and development of ALL individuals involved in the interaction.

Adult-to-Adult conversations are indicated by four main competencies:

  1. The readiness to listen to others in order to build awareness;
  1. The use of questioning to generate options and choices;
  1. The exchange of frank and open feedback to build mutual understanding;
  1. Taking ownership for decisions and outcomes.

If you’ve found this article interesting, here are some of the other places that I make resources available:

My website …

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