Top tips to take control of your career

Interview with Alison McGregor, CEO of HSBC at WIBF Edinburgh Event, August 2017

Interview with Alison McGregor, CEO of HSBC at WIBF Edinburgh Event, August 2017

⭐️ Take Control of your Career

This week I saw an inspiring interview with Alison McGregor talking about her career at the Women in Banking and Finance event at RBS Gogarburn, Edinburgh.  Although she sees herself as a non-risk taker, Alison’s career can be summed up as a series of bold decisions from leaving school at 15 to her current role as CEO of HSBC Scotland.  Her insights include:

  • Change is good because it brings opportunities.
  • You grow when you are taken out of your comfort zone. Challenges teach you much more than easy situations do.
  • Get an ‘interfering mentor’ who will push and challenge you, help you to know what makes you stand out and help you make good decisions.
  • Look the part and behave the part of the role or person you want to be, and people will treat you accordingly.
  • Be strategic (for senior roles, it can be detrimental to your progression / time if you are constantly helping people with the details).
  • Recognise and respect your life stages – integrate your career and life plans so you don’t feel compromised.Eg when being a mum is your no. 1 priority, it is ok to resist suggestions from work for promotion that would compromise your ability to be a mum. Or negotiate the promotion to fit around your priorities or to increase your salary to enable your partner to reduce work hours to share parenting.
  • Once a year do a “Wheel of life” so you can see why your life feels bumpy and set goals to even it out. It makes you reflect and think about what you want.  Click here to get a wheel of life tool.
  • When you feel unable to take a risk, think “What’s the worst that can happen? This isn’t brain surgery. Nobody died – at least not at my hands.”
  • Prepare for the next role you want to do so that when you apply for it, you are the best person for the job.
  • To progress to more senior roles, develop your ability to influence outside your sphere of influence.You won’t have direct influence yet you need to be able to shape direction and activities without telling people what to do.
  • If someone wants you in a job and the job description doesn’t suit you, change the job description. You can add value to the new team or organisation this way before you even start.


Do you want to raise your game; choose your career direction and progress; feel more fulfilled; reduce stress and compromise; or improve your ‘work / life balance’?  Send me an email to be sent advance notice to register for my new open programme on Take control of your career.  After excellent feedback from the in-house staff sessions, the online programme is nearly ready for launch.  As it includes live sessions and Q&A conversations, numbers in the group must be kept low.  Anyone on the priority advance notice list will have first chance to register and grab a place before they’re all gone.

Email or call me to arrange a time for a free chat about whether 1:1 coaching or some of our training programmes will give you the impetus you are looking for.

Sue Mitchell    email:  telephone +44 1875 830708  or  use the contact form below – please make sure you spell your email address correctly for me to be able to reply to you.

Confidence can close the Gender Gap – for pay, promotion and possiblities

Confidence is something you can learn and you get it by taking action. Our programme gives you the process and practical tools to be more confident. When you raise your confidence, you raise your game not only in your career but in all parts of your life. You deserve it. What is it worth to you? What difference will it make for you – in work and out of work?

Despite all the regulation around equality, there is still a huge disparity between women and men at work. Women now tend to get better results in school and university, but in the workplace, men are often more successful, and women become a minority in more senior management, executive and board roles. Researchers conclude that confidence lies at the root of many typical differences in behaviour that play a part :

  • Women tend to wait until they are 100% certain they are a perfect fit for all the criteria before applying for a position. In contrast, men will typically apply when they have only some of the requirements.
  • Women often find it hard to fully believe in themselves. Successful women often say they feel like an imposter, that someone will ‘find them out’, that they are not really good enough for this role, or that they were lucky, in the right place and the right time to get the role. In contrast, a man will often say he got the role because he was the best person for it.
  • Women often give themselves a hard time for not living up to their expectations (especially when ‘only perfect will do’) and will often take poor results personally rather than recognising that external circumstances could have played a part too.
  • Men are more likely to negotiate a higher salary: men initiate negotiations four times as often as women do, and even when women do negotiate, they tend to ask for 20%-30% less than men ask for.
  • Women often underestimate their competence, are less confident in their abilities, and are more likely to turn down opportunities even though they are equally capable as their male colleagues who seek out the opportunities.
  • Women more often believe that if we keep our heads down, work hard and deliver excellent results, we will be rewarded. That worked well in school and university to get good grades and praise. Sadly, it doesn’t often work in the workplace to gain recognition, promotion, salary raises or other measures of your success. As one of my 1:1 coaching clients put it “It’s not fair. My boss is putting my colleague forward for promotion just because he talks more about his work. My boss acknowledges that the quality of my work is far higher than my colleague, but he doesn’t see me as being ready for promotion. You should be promoted on quality of your work not politicking about it.” We’ve worked on how she communicates authentically about the strategic importance of her work, so that her boss sees her as ready for promotion and she doesn’t feel like it is smarmy politicking. New opportunities have come her way.

Do you recognise any of those behaviours in yourself? Are you holding yourself back? Do you want that to change? If so, why not take action now and

  1.  Decide to become more confident and
  2.  Join our Confidence for Professional Women Programme
  3.  or Join the online Confidence Programme with 1:1 coaching to encourage you, give you impetus and challenge you when you need it.

Stop feeling afraid of presenting
You can step up to speak in meetings or in public

Stop holding yourself back
You can negotiate your promotion, pay rise or that new role
Stop avoiding difficult conversations and feedback
You can handle them
Stop feeling so stressed at work
You can manage all the change in your organisation
Stop feeling like someone will ‘find you out’
You can be confident in your abilities and competence
You can be confident about being you

by using the proven and powerful process you learn in the

Confidence for Professional Women Programme


Book your place now or

Email or call me to arrange a time for a confidential chat about whether the programme or 1:1 coaching will give you the impetus you are looking for.

Sue Mitchell    email:  telephone +44 1875 830708  or  use the contact form below – please make sure you spell your email address correctly for me to be able to reply to you.

Three tips to improve your focus in 2016

Do you find you have a to-do list that extends in all directions? Do you have great ideas but never have time to make them happen? It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed and it’s hard to focus on a few priorities in a world full of possibilities. Being focused requires dedication and commitment, one of the core components for Mental Toughness – which helps you be more successful in life. Here are some tips to help you focus on what really matters to you.


  1. Clarify what is most important to you – personally and to your organisation. Review your values and identify your top 5 non-negotiable core values, the examples of when you live these values and examples of how you don’t live these values and can do better. When you are living and working in harmony with your core values, you are more energised, motivated and effective. When your values are conflicted, you tend to become more stressed and disillusioned.


  1. Review all the possibilities you have on your plate at the moment. Identify your top 3 priorities, that align with your values, your strengths and your personal motivators – and in work context, that align with your role and organisational priorities.


  1. Keep a log of how you spend your time. How often are you doing things that contribute towards your priorities (the important quadrant in Steven Covey’s Important/Urgent matrix)? How often are you living your values? How often are you reacting to other people’s priorities that get in the way of your own priorities? How happy are you with the way you are spending your time? What do you want to do about it and what will that achieve? (Doing nothing is an option too – it also has consequences.)



Steven Covey’s Important / Urgent Matrix.

(Abridged from The Seven Habits of Effective People, by Steven Covey).


This is probably familiar to many of you and for those of you who haven’t yet come across it: Effective people organise and execute their activities around priorities and aim to stay out of quadrants 3 and 4 and ideally mainly in quadrant 2. Looking at your activities, where do they mainly fall. Which is/are your dominant quadrant(s)? What can you do to act mainly in quadrants 2 and 1, and spend more time doing things that are important and not urgent.


The results you get in life when your activities dominantly fall in each one of these quadrants are shown below.

Steven Covey's Important vs Urgent Quadrants

Steven Covey’s Important vs Urgent Quadrants


Which quadrant are you spending most of your time in?

How happy are you with the results you are generating as a result?

How easily can you make the changes you want?

If you want support to make changes, please do get in touch. Let’s see whether coaching will be the right support for you to make those changes and if we would work well together.



Email or call me to arrange a time for a free chat about whether 1:1 coaching will give you the impetus you are looking for.

Sue Mitchell    email:  telephone +44 1875 830708  or  use the contact form below – please make sure you spell your email address correctly for me to be able to reply to you.

Feel the fear and do it anyway!


In June, I was persuaded to submit an entry for one of the Association of Scottish Businesswomen National Business Awards because I wanted to raise the profile of the business and give it added credibility.  Looking through the different awards, it seemed I could work with the criteria for the ASB Outstanding Contribution Award.   I’ve never done anything like this before and I felt very much out of my comfort zone. It somehow felt wrong that I should put myself forward for something like this, despite other people persuading me that I really deserve to be recognised and should go for it!  So, I let it sit there, hovering over me as something I SHOULD do, until finally another conversation tipped the balance in persuading me to go for it.  Even so, I procrastinated for more than yet another week. Until on Sunday I suddenly realised that the deadline was Friday and if anyone was going to have a chance to write a reference to endorse my application, I’d better get my skates on.


Suddenly it was no longer something I should do, but something I wanted to do. And needed to do for the business. And was SCARED to do! Not only did I feel uncomfortable writing out how I fulfilled the criteria for the award, it felt scary asking my colleagues, friends, and clients from all the different areas of my life if they would mind writing a few words to endorse the application; especially as I was asking for it ideally by Wednesday so I could put everything together around other commitments by Friday. A HUGE thank you to everyone who dived in so promptly and wholeheartedly to meet that preposterous deadline.


I have to say that despite the trauma of starting and writing the application, it has been one of my most rewarding experiences. I felt so touched by the support everyone showed me and I really appreciated that they made the time to write such a valuable gift for me. Reading their words gave me such a boost of confidence and of feeling appreciated, that alone made it all worthwhile. And yes, there is an irony in that, as I spend much of my time supporting my clients to build their confidence. Yet we all feel the fear at times, in various guises and reasons, and we all deserve to have people around us to boost our confidence for the times and situations we need it. Even (or perhaps especially!) professional coaches. It is one of the reasons why we have regular ‘supervision’ sessions.



Dr Sue Mitchell is selected as a finalist in the ASB Outstanding Contribution Award 2014

Dr Sue Mitchell is shortlisted as a finalist in the ASB Outstanding Contribution Award 2014


As I submitted my application, the experience of  just putting it together turned out to be so rewarding that I felt happy that I’d made the effort even if nothing more came of it.  For me, this is a classic example of success not being about winning, but about getting stuck in and giving it all you have – and asking for help!  And now, the icing on the cake – I’m delighted to have been shortlisted as one of the finalists. I feel honoured to be in the company of so many amazing women. We have interviews next week and then wait until the awards dinner in October to hear the results.


So, I’d love to say to you, if you are thinking of maybe applying for an award – Go for it! You gain so much from the experience even before you (or if you don’t) make the shortlist.







Confidence for Business Women Course – 14th September in Edinburgh:


Choose to be confident

Choose to be confident



What difference will it make to you, in your life and at work, to be more confident?

Why not join the course in Edinburgh: (if you like Aeona’s facebook page you can get over 50% discount)

Confidence for Business Women is open to women who are managers, leaders, freelancers or business owners, or aspiring to any of these)

More details about the confidence course on




Email or call me to arrange a time for a free chat about whether 1:1 coaching will give you the impetus you are looking for.

Sue Mitchell    email:  telephone +44 1875 830708  or  use the contact form below – please make sure you spell your email address correctly for me to be able to reply to you.

How important is confidence?

I believe confidence is the foundation for success, in everything we do and in whatever way success is meaningful for us.  I believe confidence gives us the personal power to be authentic, true to who we really are and achieve our full potential.  For me, confidence is vital.  On a scale of 1 – 10, where 10 is extremely important, I rate confidence at 10!


When I did a quick Google search on “confidence” there were About 147,000,000 results.  That’s one hundred and forty seven million results.  That looks like an awful lot of interest in confidence!  So that could be evidence that other people also find confidence important.



What other evidence is there?

Confidence inspires trust and implies competence.  Think about people you know or know of who you believe are confident. What is it about them that makes you know they are confident?  Most people will say that is about the way they look, stand, speak and so on.  They dress and take care of their appearance in a way that shows self-respect. They look poised, stand or sit up straight, don’t slouch, hold their head up and eyes look up not down at the carpet. They look at you in the eye when they speak with you. Their voice sounds strong and positive, not strident and they don’t mumble.  They speak with conviction, knowledge and assurance.  They look comfortable not tense, anxious or nervous.   We read all this body language and from that we infer that they believe in themselves, and we tend to believe in them too.


Olympic athletes win more medals when they are confident in themselves.  Mo Farrah talked about how he used to want to win but in some part of his mind think his competitors were better than him and lose the race when they came up alongside him. Now he’s worked on his mindset and his inner knowledge that he can beat them and is going for it, he’s no longer focusing on the other competitors, he is focused on winning. He feels that confidence is like a weapon that gives you control, and you feel positive knowing you’ve prepared well. Andy Murray is another great example of a skilled athlete whose self doubts were the biggest barrier to winning. Self-doubt clouds your mind and focus with excessive negative thoughts about the outcome, not being good enough and so on. Andy’s ability in tennis was not the problem, he could pull marvellous shots out of the bag, but under pressure made more errors. Once he mastered his doubts and built his confidence, he could remain calm and focused under pressure. He won his first grand slam and then went on to win more.

confidence empowering beliefs

Confidence wins your job interview.  When applicants are all ‘equal’ on paper from their CVs, it is the confident person who can be themselves, assured, poised, calm, relaxed and unafraid of silence who comes across as most credible and wins the trust and respect of the interviewer.  The confident person is in a better state to contribute to a two way dialogue, ask questions and let their positive attitude, drive, enthusiasm, commitment and interest in the job and the company shine through.


Confidence wins your next contract and your next customer. Whatever your role in work – the business owner, project manager, sales person, retail  assistant, receptionist and more – your confidence in yourself, your work, your organisation and your products and services comes across in how you interact with people and influences their decision about whether they want to work with your or buy from you (or your organisation). For all the reasons described above.


Modern developments in neuroscience mean they can now record activity in living brains with imaging techniques.  The fundamental organising principle of the human brain is that we are designed to maximise rewards and minimise threats. Neuroscientists call this the ‘walk towards, run away’ theory.  Since the consequences of threats can be catastrophic, the ‘run away’ pathways operate much faster and stronger than the walk towards neural pathways in the brain, so we can respond immediately we detect any potential threat.  The neuroscience research shows that our thoughts of self-doubt and self-criticism create the same effects in our nervous system and stimulate the same ‘fight-fright-flight or freeze’ response as situations of physical danger.  This is the part of our brain that says ‘get me out of here’ and takes over from the part of our brain that controls our rational thinking.  It means we can’t think straight, make the best decisions, respond well or listen well.  Imagine the effect that has on how you present yourself and how effective you are in any situation – whether that’s sport, in work, in a job interview, with a client, doing a business presentation or in your home life and communities.





Confidence has a massive impact on how we enjoy life.  When we feel confident we are not beset with self doubt or negative self talk. The neuroscience research shows that positive thinking rewires your brain (the official term is neuroplasticity).  We can learn to focus our attention constructively and systematically alter brain circuitry underlying intrusive negative thoughts. Using mindful awareness, a self-observational skill, we can choose to respond rationally to emotionally stressful stimuli.  We create new connections and the more you use them the stronger those connections become.  After a while, you build a new good habit of positive thinking.  


So for me personally, how important is confidence? 

Well, confidence is what gives me the impetus to make things happen, to create new coaching programmes, to open up to speak to potential clients, to share my thoughts, and so on. Confidence and trust in my relationships allows me the strength to reveal my weaknesses and fears, to talk things through.  Confidence gives me the courage to embrace life, with all its risks and uncertainties and enjoy being me. That’s why I believe confidence is vital.


I’d love to hear how important confidence is to you.


Choose to be confident

Choose to be confident



What difference will it make to you, in your life and at work, to be more confident?

Why not join one of our courses in Edinburgh: (if you like Aeona’s facebook page you can get over 50% discount)

Confidence for Business Women” (open to women who are managers, leaders, freelancers or business owners, or aspiring to any of these)

Confidence for Business Owners” (open to men and women)

More details about the confidence courses on


Why not take the online course with coaching calls and webinars if you can’t come to the Edinburgh courses?  See more on  You also get over 50% discount if you like Aeona’s facebook page.



Email or call me to arrange a time for a free chat about whether 1:1 coaching will give you the impetus you are looking for.

Sue Mitchell    email:  telephone +44 1875 830708  or  use the contact form below – please make sure you spell your email address correctly for me to be able to reply to you.

What does confidence mean to you?

When you think of confidence, what comes to mind?  What do you think of?  What do you see in your mind’s eye? How do you relate to confidence for yourself?

How important is confidence to you, in your life overall, and in your work? How consistent is your confidence? Does it change over time – in the longer term or from day to day  or from situation to situation?  What difference does having confidence or not having confidence make for you?


The Oxford English Dictionary defines confidence as

  • the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something;
  • the state of feeling certain about the truth of something;
  • a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities; and also
  • the telling of private matters or secrets with mutual trust.

The word confidence comes from the latin word confidentia, from confidere  which means to ‘have full trust’.

When we talk about having confidence or being confident, we are usually thinking of the third ‘feeling’ meaning – self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.  Self-confidence is an attitude which allows individuals to have positive yet realistic views of themselves and their situations.

Our sense of confidence imbues us with the personal power to be all we can be – to do more, to do it better, to have a go at something new, to achieve our dreams and more.  Confidence is the foundation for our success – in whatever way success is meaningful to us.

Confidence makes the difference in life, as it gives us the means to be who we really want to be, to express ourselves with ease, to be comfortable with people and in ourselves, to stretch out of our comfort zone, to know that we CAN do what we want to do and to take the first step towards making it happen.  Luckily everyone can learn confidence, though it is not just a skill you can learn by applying a set of rules.  Confidence is an attitude or state of mind that sits at the very core of our being and transforms our life in a positive way. Confidence is the outcome of a whole lot of things including our experiences (and the way we think about them), personality, emotional well-being, self-awareness, and our thinking style which can include how we make decisions and solve problems or find solutions.  Learning confidence is a journey about changing your state of mind by raising your awareness and changing the way you think, the way you see things and interact with the world. 

confidence lights way

In my view,

Learning confidence leaves behind the “I can’ts” and opens the doors to your brave new world full of “I cans” and possibilities, where you SEE and seize the opportunities that come your way.

Learning confidence dares you to listen to your heart and tap into your motivation and ambition and only then let your rational brain work on how to achieve that.  Confidence opens the way for ‘I will’, ‘I want to’ and ‘I like to’ and leaves behind the ‘shoulds’, ‘musts’ and ‘have tos’.  Confidence lets you stop giving priority to your brain ‘rationally’ talking you out of what you want, to settle for an alternative option only because it is safer or expected of you or … the list can be endless and not always true!  Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not talking about absconding from responsibility or taking on a self-centred hedonistic life style where all you think about is you and what you want.  I’m talking about changing the way you think about your responsibilities so you want to do them and feel positive about them, rather than just complying and feeling you should do them but don’t really want to.  Maybe that also involves learning the confidence to say no in a positive way.  I’m talking about knowing yourself, assessing your strengths, your personal values and purpose and what you want from life and making sure you follow the road to make that happen by ensuring the things you do are in harmony with who you really are.  Assess whether you are in the right job for you – does it or could it ever give you fulfilment?  What do you need for fulfilment?  What do you give and get from your relationships?

Learning confidence gives you personal power to be yourself and let your own light shine.

Hello confident you!

If you let your own light shine it gives others permission to do the same” Nelson Mandela

If you would like to talk to me about coaching around being more confident, please do get in touch.  You can also check out our online confidence coaching programmes on or see the Aeona webpage for more information about what I do:

Sue Mitchell    email:  telephone +44 1875 830708  or  use the contact form below – please make sure you spell your email address correctly for me to be able to reply to you.

Be accessible, listen well and be consistent! 8 simple management rules from Google

The New York Times published a fascinating article about research at Google on what makes effective managers. Although it was published a few years ago, it is still useful today.

Google noticed that their best managers “have teams that perform better, are retained better, are happier — they do everything better” says Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice president for ‘people operations’ (HR).  It was down to the quality of the manager and how they made things happen.  Google collected masses of data to answer questions about “What if every manager was that good? What makes them that good? And how do you do it?”

Google’s data showed that managers had a much greater impact on employees’ performance and how they felt about their job than any other factor.  Poor managers are the biggest variable causing people to leave the company (the other two reasons people leave are i) are lack of feeling their work matters or a connection to the company’s mission and ii) not liking or respecting their colleagues).

Google used to think it was vital that managers had deep technical expertise and be more expert than their team members.  Their management philosophy was to ‘leave the engineers to get on with their stuff and they will ask when they need help’.

BUT their in-depth data analysis showed that people valued managers MOST when they made time for them, listened and were consistent.  Employees valued most their even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped them puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in their lives and careers.  They found that technical expertise is important but ranked last among Google’s eight key factors of great managers.

Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers

  1. Be a good coach
  2. Empower your team
  3. Express interest in team members personally and in their success.
  4. Be productive and results oriented
  5. Communicate well and LISTEN WELL
  6. Help your employees with career development
  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
  8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team – but you don’t need to be as expert or more expert than the experts in your team!

Three pitfalls of managers

  1. Have trouble making the transition to team / leader (from being an expert / individual contributor).
  2. Lack a consistent approach to performance management and career development
  3. Spend too little time managing and communicating.

Google makes the facts known to their managers, so they know what works and doesn’t work. They don’t tell the managers what to do, managers decide for themselves.   Google’s data for how to be a great manager in their company echo’s other research about what makes managers effective in other companies. These 8 rules are simple and probably applicable in most companies.

8 rules

If you can make yourself accessible, listen well and be consistent, and apply these 8 rules in the priority listed above, what difference will that make to your own and your team’s performance?

If you would like to talk to me about coaching around being a more effective manager, please do get in touch.  You can also check out the Aeona webpage for more information about what I do:

Sue Mitchell    email:  telephone +44 1875 830708  or  use the contact form below – please make sure you spell your email address correctly for me to be able to reply to you.

Leadership makes a difference

Abundant evidence shows that great leadership makes a difference both personally and to the organisation’s success and results in higher performance, productivity and profitability.  Great leadership also leads to higher performance in the triple bottom line – organisational health, people’s engagement in the workplace, how much they commit to doing the best they can, having a positive culture at work, long term sustainability for the organisation and the sense of responsibility to the community and environment.  It’s not just about work and making money, but also making the world a better place while you are doing it.


I believe everyone is capable of being a leader and my purpose is to liberate the leader within each one of us.  Leadership can be learnt and it is about mindset, behaviours and emotional intelligence.  I am currently part of the team delivering a massive leadership development programme for a global company that’s based in UK.  They are investing millions to secure their future sustainability and success through improving leadership at all levels throughout the company.  I want to make leadership development more accessible for smaller businesses and organisations because I believe it will make a real difference.  I’m offering discounted leadership programmes for women leaders and aspiring leaders in Scotland and for people in Midlothian and Edinburgh as many small businesses find it difficult to justify the spend.  These programmes are  eligible for FTO grant funding.  Also, I think many business owners don’t see how leadership would be relevant to them.  I often hear “well, I can see why it’s relevant in larger organisations but I just have a few people, we don’t need it…”  I wonder how much this is due to not really appreciating the difference good leadership makes in groups of all types and sizes – whether it is a family, a business, a volunteer group or a multi-national organisation.


Aeona’s summary combining concepts of authentic and centered leadership

I often encounter situations that resonate with my first experience of leadership.  No-one ever thought to mention to me that leadership is something you can learn, that it even exists as a subject.  I got a job leading an expedition to the South Pacific and my focus was entirely on the tasks required to deliver results and make it happen – logistics, planning, developing connections with relevant local people, designing the study projects, budgeting, raising sponsorship, etc.  I ran a team building event, where we all met each other for the first time and it went down very well.  If I ever thought about it, I assumed everyone was motivated for the same reasons I was and that what worked well for me would work well for them.  How wrong I was!  I’ve subsequently learnt that everyone brings their own perspective, own desires, own motivations, own personality and own ways of doing things to the table, and when you can recognise, understand, empathise and engage with all of that diversity, and connect their own meanings with the organisation’s purpose, then everyone will achieve tasks so much better, drive performance and have fun too.


Leadership happens in our relationships with people and differs according to the different contexts and situations we find ourselves in.  Yet how often are managers and other people in leadership positions focusing primarily on the tasks involved?  How often do people end up in leadership positions or running small businesses because of their expertise and knowledge, but don’t get any training in leading  and inspiring other people to do the work?  How many people have created processes and ways of working for the team, company or business because that’s the way that worked successfully for them in the past?  How much of your people’s skills, creativity, knowledge and capability remains untapped because you don’t know about it?  How often do you take time to discover what motivates your people and tie this in with their work?  How much more could your people be engaged at work and what difference could that make to your organisation’s performance?


If you can

  • be authentic, be yourself, be confident and live by your values,
  • create an inspiring purpose and meaning for the work in the organisation,
  • inspire your people so they know how they make a difference to the company success,
  • give them autonomy and encourage their desire to do their job to the best of their ability and maintain high standards,

what difference would that make to how it feels to come in to work and to your company’s future?

What difference would that make to your own future?



Please do get in touch if you’d like to talk about it.  🙂



Please contact me if you’d like me to send you some of the evidence for leadership making a difference or about the FTO grants for training in Scotland. email


For the specially discounted leadership programmes please see these links:

Women Leaders Special:

Midlothian and Edinburgh Leaders Special:




Is Coaching for you?

Coaching is not a panacea or cure all. It is a tool which can be extraordinarily effective to achieve a purpose. Like all tools, it is effective when used skilfully and appropriately, recognising the appropriate fit for the purpose, when, where, how etc.

Coaching is not for everybody – the approach simply doesn’t bring value for some people for various reasons, which may be related to attitude, the coaching style or approach, or the coaching relationship amongst other things. However, some people find it is possible to change perspective and discover value in coaching. For example:

• You are already using this thinking style so it feels like the coach is not bringing anything new or a new perspective. The value comes when a good coach makes a difference by asking deeper questions to push beyond the limit of your comfort zone, with the benefit that you gain new insights, such as to how to move forwards and/or achieve your goals.

• You are already spending time to think about these issues, so you don’t value the time out of every day work to explore these issues with your coach. The value comes when your coach introduces a different perspective that you haven’t considered and uncovers assumptions you are not aware of – which are present more often than we realise as we get used to doing something the usual “way we do things round here”.

• You don’t value being accountable to a coach to make the changes and you feel you would do these things anyway. The value of coaching comes when you recognise you probably would let some slide, or not stick to your timeframe as other tasks seem more important that those you just set for yourself. The benefit is you are more likely to do what you planned and achieve your goals, when you keep your coach updated on your progress.

• You are looking for a consultant who will advise on the best way forward. The value of coaching comes when you recognise that you don’t need to be told what to do in this situation and you feel you will be more committed to doing things that you have identified and chosen to do yourself.

• You are not comfortable at opening up and discussing issues close to your heart, that may be sensitive or things you would not usually discuss with anyone else. It may be because you don’t have the right coach with whom you can develop a relationship where you can comfortably discuss these issues, or it may be that you simply don’t like talking about it. In any case, it can be quite likely that the coaching will not get to the nub of the matter and address the underlying issues. Addressing only the surface manifestations is not as effective or long-lasting or transferable to different situations. The value of coaching comes when you invest time initially to find a good match with your coach so you can develop a good rapport. You also explore with your coach what it means to you to share these problems, or ask for help, if it doesn’t come naturally, and what would make it easier to talk about. You can choose to focus on one thing at a time so it doesn’t seem overwhelming and your coach can ask questions that will help you drill down to address the core issue.

• You are not willing (consciously or subconsciously) to commit to the process and actually make the changes you discuss, reflect on what you do or complete actions. The value of coaching is when you make a conscious commitment to the process and explore with your coach to raise awareness of any barriers that you feel might get in the way.

• You think (consciously or subconsciously) all this mumbo jumbo is not going to make a difference. You think real factual evidence and ‘task focused’ efforts are what counts. The value of coaching comes when you can acknowledge that thinking about deep personal issues is rather difficult and may take time, and it is ok that there are no right or wrong answers. You can also recognise that your feelings, values, and emotional state can be “factual evidence” about you. You recognise that being fully aware of who you are and how you feel is important as it influences how you make choices and decisions in your life and work.

• You find yourself being irritated or not engaged during coaching sessions, or perhaps rather ‘turned off’ by the language the coach uses. The value of coaching comes when you invest a bit of time and research upfront to find a coach who has an approach and style of coaching that you can relate to.

There can, of course, be other reasons too.

I speak with experience having been one of those people who didn’t value coaching, for some of these reasons, although I have subsequently come to value the experience of being coached and work now as a coach myself. I also hear and see all these examples in different combinations when talking with people about coaching, particularly those who have had a bad experience or have friends who didn’t get anything out of coaching. I often don’t take these people on for coaching as there is no point using the wrong tool when it won’t help someone achieve what they are looking for. It only ends in frustration and disillusionment. However, some of my clients have initially approached me believing that coaching doesn’t work, and I still took them on as they were willing to explore how to find the value as I have outlined above and came with an open mind, a desire to work with me and a commitment to their future.

Many people find coaching provides real value when they take the time to find a good coach with whom they can work well. It is about finding a good fit so you can build a good relationship with your coach.

Coaching isn’t a tool to force or coerce change. Coaching is a tool to facilitate a collaboration to unlock a person’s potential, clarify purpose and direction, unblock barriers, create new horizons, energise, motivate, challenge and support their commitment to achieve their purpose. When it goes well, coaching is fun and wholly energising. I love it and my clients love it and usually leave my session buzzing with enthusiasm, hope and commitment. It is contagious and gives me energy too and a sense of satisfaction as they achieve what they are looking for.

Why do values make a difference?

What happens if your boss or someone at work asks you to take short-cuts? Do you think this is a great idea and will save time and money?  Do you think this will compromise your work or other issues you think are important, such as safety, health, legal regulations and so on? Do you feel able to say no or discuss it? Do you think your boss recognises the implications? Do you feel they just don’t get it? Do you feel your job may be under threat so you just need to go along with what you are asked? How stressed would you feel?

Values play a fundamental role in how we perceive and interact with the world, how we interpret events and other peoples actions and behaviours. Its not always obvious. Our values and beliefs are often a sub-conscious filter through which we interpret everything around us and so play a fundamental role in how we respond – in our thoughts and behaviour. This sub-conscious influence sometimes leads to apparently irrational behaviour and decisions that are at best not constructive and often destructive or disastrous.

We acquire our values and beliefs over our entire lifetime, accepting the ways of our culture, our parents, our teachers and others around us. They may have been extremely valuable at the time we took them on board, but sometimes they outlive their usefulness and lead to behaviour that is no longer helpful in our current situation. Time spent reflecting on knowing our values and beliefs and evaluating how useful they continue to be to us right now, is time well spent.

Raising our conscious awareness of our values and beliefs gives us much more control over our personal thoughts and behaviour and makes us more aware of why we feel the way we do about a situation or person. It guides our choices and decision making at a conscious level and helps us to recognise when a choice does actually exist, even if the alternatives are somewhat unpalatable. We might recognise when our subconscious hijacks the decision making process when we feel there is only one way forward and no options.

So how does this extend to a team or whole organisation? Jeremy Darroch, chief executive of BSkyB, gave three great examples at the recent Institute of Directors Annual Convention. Fostering the mindset “Believe in Better” has created a culture where everyone at BSkyB applies innovative thinking to everything they do every day, right across the business from product development to accounts. Maintaining a consistent value set and core beliefs guided Procter and Gamble to move quickly and grow sustainably from a small enterprise selling soap up the Ohio River to a global company.

When values are a key component of strategy and are motivating – made real and alive from the executive team down, not just words on a page – they give people guidance in a way that rules and procedures alone do not. The strength comes from a clear value set that reaffirms the behaviour, actions and decisions made by all in the organisation. Getting everyone in the organisation involved and knowing how their role connects with the company success, focuses and guides everyone in one direction, even when facing new situations that rules and procedures do not (yet) cover. In contrast, consider Jeremy Darroch’s third example, the recent banking debacle – once people crossed the line beyond the rule book, they could and did go anywhere. In a rapidly changing world, consistent values and beliefs guide the way to sustainable success.

Values and beliefs are a core component of Aeona’s new open programmes for leadership development. Please tell us what you think is important to include in a leadership development course or programme. Enter our short survey here and you could win £50 in Amazon Vouchers.

Click through to our website for information on the short course, Inner Leadership, or 12 month Exceptional Leader Programme.