Do You Avoid Difficult Conversations?

Do you avoid difficult conversations? What are the conversations that you dread? Are they awkward pay conversations with the boss? Standard / accountability conversations with your team? Interviews? Performance management? Are they as awkward as the image below (apologies – do you know how hard it is to find a difficult conversation image without someone yelling? ?‍♂️?)

Many people struggle with difficult conversations. They either:

? Avoid them (just pretend it didn’t happen)
? Stress over them (make them much bigger that they have / need to be)
? Get caught up in the moment (let the emotion of the situation take over)
? Say something they didn’t want to say (often due to the emotion, but also because of what the other person might have said), and
? treat like it is a 100% win / lose battle (when even 65% would be OK)

Today’s Diploma of Leadership & Management workshop is all about the art and science of having a difficult conversation.

I must admit, this is one of my favourite workshops. Not because I love having difficult conversations (I dislike them just as much as anyone!), but because of the changes in emotions and confidence experienced by those that do the workshop.

This workshop breaks down your side – your 51% – of the difficult / crucial conversation, and introduces the DRIFT model for separating the important things that need to be said by you in the conversation. It also explores how to deal with the other 49% – the others persons reaction – and how to stay on track as well as listen.
As I said, one of my favourites!

If this type of workshop sounds useful for you or your team, get it touch! IMLD offers this workshop both as part of the Diploma, and also as a targeted group session for teams and businesses looking to build their skills.


Accountability – A Cornerstone of Effective Leadership

Accountability is a cornerstone of effective leadership. I am very grateful to the team at Housing Hub and Summer Foundation Ltd and to the participants who attended the Accountability workshop on 11 Nov 2021.

It takes something to challenge your leadership, your team, your business and yourself when discussing accountability, and considering the questions:

? What does it take to hold others to account?, and
? What does it take to hold yourself to account?

I am so thankful to Alecia Rathbone and Joanne E Mear – you are both amazing people to work with. The leadership and care you have shown to your business and team in the last 18 months is highly valued. A huge thanks as well to the members of the Emerging Leaders Program who not only helped shape this workshop, but delivered your own sessions as well.

It has been a pleasure to work with you all and I look forward to continue to work together in the future developing your high performance team culture and leadership dynamic.
#leadership #leaders #culture #accountability #team #IMLD #developingleaders

Related Articles:

Are You A More Responsible Or Accountable Leader?

The Top 25 Leadership Behaviours That Define Great Leaders


Leaders Inspire Others To Dream, Learn, Do and Become More

Great leaders inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more. A wonderful quote! John Quincy Adams was onto something – almost out of touch with the time and well before his contemporaries in society.

True leaders give their teams the opportunity to:
? dream big and fulfil goals – both their and the business,
? take opportunities to learn and grow – and provide opportunities to learn and grow – both from each other, internally and externally
? motivate, encourage, drive and sometimes push to do more than expected, and become more efficient and effective, and
? develop skills (both specific and related to leadership) to a level that the individual might not have thought possible.

I would humbly add one addition:
? Care more. If you actions inspire others to care more – for the business, for a cause, for each other’s welfare, for your own personal and psychological safety and wellbeing – you are also a leader.
In the space I get to work in of executive coaching and leadership development, watching a leaders ‘care more’ – about their work, about their people and what they are seeking to build – is one of the purest joys.

Thanks for sharing Leadership First – one of my favourite quotes – and one with a hell of a standard to live up to!

Are You Looking To Be The Type of Leader That Inspires Others?

The Institute of Management & Leadership Development has a range of leadership programs and workshops designed to help you develop your leadership skills and strengths, no matter where you are starting from. Take a look at the programs and workshops that might suit you:

Emerging Leaders Leadership Program

Supervisor / Team Leader Leadership Program

Executive Leadership Program

Diploma of Leadership & Management

Related Articles

Great Leaders And Managers Are Critical Thinkers


The 7 Questions To Ask When Hiring An Executive Coach

Building a relationship with an executive coach is all about trust. Trust in their expertise, trust in their ability to tailor their knowledge / content to you, trust in their ability to help you achieve results. When choosing an executive coach to work with, you want to make sure that you are going to get results!

In an unregulated industry, it is very easy to get caught up in the hype of a savvy sales pitch or a professional looking website from a prospective executive coach. But there are some simple questions to ask that can differentiate the good from the average, the true partner in developing your skills as a leader as opposed to an expensive waste of time and effort. So we put together 7 tips to help you find your best executive l coach to work with someone worthy of your trust.

1. What is Your Experience as a Leader? 

During my first meeting or call with a potential client, I have found that most leaders don’t know what to ask to determine if I am the ‘right fit’ for them. Often they are looking for someone who they feel comfortable with and have the right chemistry. While that is certainly important, there are many other things you can ask to get the right leadership coach for you. Here are 7 key questions you can ask a potential coach to determine if they are effective and more importantly, the right coach for you.

This might seem obvious, but many consultants calling themselves executive coaches (or executive leadership coaches) have actually never lead people in a team. For all of the learning and reading a person has done, nothing can substitute having experience in a leadership role – making decisions, counselling / coaching and performance managing team members, holding other accountable for results, setting a clear vision – all of the things that you have to do as a leader. Do you want someone who has learned from a book, or someone who has learned what works and what doesn’t from their own trials and experiences?


  • ‘What experience have you had leading a team?’
  • ‘What industries have you worked in and for how long?’
  • ‘What was you toughest experience as a leader managing people?’

2. What is Your Own Coaching Style? 

Many leadership coaches follow a formula, a step-by-step guide to coaching that they have learned through an institute, school or other coach. Having a system or a process is important – but you don’t want to work with someone who can’t adjust their format / process / style to meet your immediate needs. If you want to work on a pressing issue that impacts you right now, you shouldn’t have to wait for Session 7 to discuss what you need right now.

In addition, have they developed their own lessons from experience? An effective executive coach has learnt from what they were taught, adapted from their experience and developed their own material. Would you rather work with a leadership coach that can adapt to your needs and discuss an appropriate lesson from personal experience, or someone that needs to refer and check with the book?


  • ‘What models do you use to aid your coaching?’
  • ‘Can you outline the type of lessons / learning we can cover?’
  • ‘Have you written your own models / lessons from experience?’

Listen to how they discuss their work and consider the following questions for yourself:

  • ‘Does this sound like it will aid in my development as a leader?’
  • ‘Will this person’s style compliment my own’

3. Who Else Would You Recommend?

Deciding on an effective executive coach is a personal preference – you have to feel comfortable that the person will work with you, guide you, encourage you as well as challenge you. If you decide that the persons style doesn’t suit you, can they / will they recommend another executive coach more suitable? An effective executive / leadership coach knows that they don’t appeal to everyones style and that fit is important. An effective executive coach in the industry will personally know several other effective executive coaches of different styles that they can refer you to. Anyone that can’t is looking more for the sale and less for your welfare and development.


  • ‘If you aren’t my best fit as a coach, who else would you recommend and why?’

4. What Recommendations and Success Stories Do You Have?

This question seeks to get past the fancy website and the sales pitch. An effective executive coach will have many recommendations from previous clients that are happy with the work that was completed, and even happier to tell others about it. Look to the person’s website for testimonials and see what they have said about the process, where they started and what they learned.

LinkedIn – A Trusted Resource

Look up some of the testimonial names on LinkedIn – are they real people in leadership roles? Do they work for the person ? (I know, yet several coaches I sought for myself had a small number of reviews, and those were from peers, not clients). Look up the reviews of the business as well as the leadership coach on Facebook, Google reviews and alike – can you find recommendations?

If the person doesn’t have 20 or 30 clear and identifiable recommendations or reviews, they haven’t yet proven themselves as an effective executive coach. It is also important to separate the executive coach from the business – while the business may have many reviews for their stable of coaches, the one in front of you may not. Also ask if you could speak to a previous client about what they got from the coaching process. There is nothing wrong with this! An effective executive coach will not only be able to provide you with names, they will have at least 5 clients they could willingly provide you the phone / contact details of to discuss their coaching. 

To be safe (and sure):

  • Check their website or LinkedIn profile for 20 to 30 recommendations and reviews
  • Check reviews and people giving them are real and not from their own business
  • Separate the reviews of the business from the specific coach


  • ‘Can I speak to one or two of your previous clients to discuss what they learnt?’

5. What Resources and Tools Do You Have at Your Disposal?

This is a broad question, and it is seeking to understand the depth of knowledge of the executive coach you will be working with. An effective leadership coach talks about their field of expertise – either publicly in keynote speaking or webinars, online through videos or tutorials, or written in blogs / posts and articles.

Take some time to read, listen or watch what they talk about and see if it resonates with you. Does this person talk about leadership / leadership skills / executive coaching in a way that appeals to you? If you can’t find your chosen executive coach speaking about the topic of leadership in at least one of these mediums, walk away. Effective executive / leadership coaches have a body of work that should be easy to find and demonstrate their understanding of the topic.

In addition, ask to review or discuss their coaching outcomes documents and their confidentiality policy – it should be clear and easily understood. You want to know before you undertake a coaching process who the information you discuss is going to be shared with, how long notes are kept and what the records process entails.


  • Their website for articles, tutorials and videos
  • Look for Youtube or Vimeo videos speaking on the topic
  • ‘Google’ their name and search for things like ‘leadership articles’


  • ‘Where can I find articles or videos of you discussing and explaining leadership and / or coaching?’
  • ‘Can I have a copy of your Coaching Outcomes documents?’
  • ‘What is your policy on confidentiality’

6. What Leadership Assessment Tool Do They Use?

An effective executive coach / leadership coach will use some form of leadership assessment tool to assess the level of skill / behaviour you have at present, and highlight how they will help you develop from that baseline. If they don’t, they will often be guessing and probing in your first couple of coaching sessions – which is OK – but should you have to wait for them to learn about you when they can do it more effectively?

There are a myriad of effective tools in the marketplace, just make sure that the tool provides useful information for you in its own right – it should be in plain language and discuss leadership behaviours. It should also measure behaviours that can develop and grow, that you can easily relate to specific behaviours to improve. The tool used should be more than a personality test, which are often generically written (4 types, 4 colours etc) and not designed to change over time.

Ensure the tool being used can be used again in several months time so that you can have a tangible measure of growth – after all, ‘what isn’t measured, isn’t done’. Most effective leadership coaches can provide you with a PDF of a standard report from their chosen leadership assessment tool, and many will provide an assessment / short debrief as part of their introductory process. 


  • ‘What leadership assessment tool do you use?’
  • ‘Can I have a copy of a standard / example leadership report’
  • ‘Do you offer an assessment prior to committing to a coaching contract / process’

7. How Will You Challenge Me (and Yourself)?

While rapport and connection is very important through a coaching process, an effective executive leadership coach is not your best friend. While they will encourage you and cheer you on through your successes, they also need to be able to hold you to account for behaviours that aren’t helping you succeed and challenge your thinking and actions.

An effective leadership coach understands the difference between what you want to hear, and what you need to hear. They won’t be cold and emotionless – an effective leadership coach will discuss your development needs clearly and specifically, identify a path to develop and grow and guide / help / push you towards action to address shortfalls. Don’t get me wrong, coaching can be a fun process! But fun is a welcome by-product; learning and growth is the main objective.

Further, ask about their own coaching process. An effective executive / leadership coach knows that they don’t have all of the answers and are developing and growing themselves. They will have experienced the process of coaching for themselves, they understand the impact, the sticking points in their own development and can discuss it clearly with you. If your chosen coach doesn’t believe in the coaching process, why should you?


  • ‘How will you challenge me to develop my skills?’
  • ‘What is the process if we disagree on a way forward?’
  • ‘Do you have a coach at present?’
  • ‘What did you learn through your coaching process?’

Through asking some or all of these questions, you will be able to make an informed decision about your coach being the ‘right fit’ for you. Not only will you know if the person in front of you is an effective leadership coach, but if they are the right leadership coach to assist you in growing and developing as a leader.

Looking to Work With An Executive Coach or Executive Leadership Coach?

The Institute of Management & Leadership Development has worked with hundreds of small business owners, supervisors, team leaders, managers and senior executive to develop their leadership skills through Executive Leadership Coaching. Not only do we have some fo the best coaches in the business, but as stated in the article, we know many other highly effective Executive Coaches that we can recommend if we don’t quite ‘click’.

If you aren’t sure, why not complete our Velocity Leadership CheckPoint? The 25 minute questionnaire and 1 hour debrief of your results will not only provide you with a greater understanding of your strengths and areas of development, it gives you an hour to ‘try before you buy’ and assess the Executive Coach working with you. We havre great faith not only in our coaching process, but also int he ability fo our coaches to adapt their style / process to meet your immediate needs.

Other Useful Articles on Determining an Effective Leadership Coach:

What Do Executive Coaching Clients Say About The Coaching Process?

7 Reasons To Engage An Executive Leadership Coach


Want To Know How To Avoid Working For An Incompetent Leader?

Can you avoid hiring an incompetent leader? ? While the term ‘incompetent’ sounds harsh, the reality is that poor leadership is a root cause of poor performance and culture within teams and businesses – and the behaviour that causes it is often overlooked until too late.

The costs of hiring a leader that is more focussed on self, doesn’t achieve outcomes and creates negativity are enormous – both on the team (that often leave), the peers (that get frustrated or leave as well) and the business (which is damaged by poor results and negative/toxic culture).

In his HBR article ‘How to Spot an Incompetent Leader’, Tomas Chamurro-Premuzic states that there are 9 questions you could ask to determine whether you are potentially hiring an incompetent leader. The premise is that incompetent leaders are often narcissistic, and rather than hide their narcissism, this type of leader will often embrace (and revel) in their narcissistic tendencies.

Here are the 9 questions:

1️⃣. Do you have an exceptional talent for leadership?
2️⃣. Would most people want to be like you?
3️⃣. Do you rarely make mistakes at work?
4️⃣. Are you blessed with a natural charisma?
5️⃣. Are you able to achieve anything you want, just by putting your mind to it?
6️⃣. Do you have a special gift for playing office politics?
7️⃣. Are you destined to be successful?
8️⃣. Is it easier for you to fool people, than for people to fool you?
9️⃣. Are you just too talented to fake humility?

Is it that simple? Ask these questions and check in with the responses? I must admit, I haven’t ‘field tested’ these questions myself (the author has), but when I think of the incredibly poor, incompetent leaders I have worked for in the past (who also happened to think they were fantastic leaders by the way), I can imagine them answering them in a particular way.

As well as asking these questions, another simple way to avoid working with an incompetent leader is get them to complete a leadership self-assessment, such as the Velocity Leadership CheckPoint. Leadership assessment tools such as these help identify strengths and weaknesses in leadership behaviours, and provide teams and senior leaders with an understanding of the development they may need to assist in developing a leader further. An effective debrief of tools such as this can provide senior leaders with an understanding of the types of behaviours that leadership skills sets will bring – as well as the consequences for negative behaviours.

Have you worked for an incompetent leader? What impact did they have on you and your business / business culture?


How Do You Spot An Incompetent Leader Before You Work For One?

How do you spot an incompetent leader before you work for one? Or worse, before your promote one to wreak havoc on your business? ?‍♂️

So many of us have worked for a poor leader in the past (and I sympathise with those working for a poor leader now) – but how can you spot a poor / incompetent leader before you work for one?

As written in the HBR Article ‘How To Spot An Incompetent Leader’ , the author Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic states ‘the essence of incompetent leadership is easy to define: it is a function of the detrimental effects a leader has on their subordinates, followers, or organisation.’

The HBR article focusses on the understanding between competence and confidence – a greater focus on competence is more likely to produce a good leader, whereas an over-reliance on confidence (not the best indicator of leadership skill) can produce poor leaders. This is also a trait over-represented in men compared to women.

How can you avoid promoting or hiring an incompetent leader?

There are a few simple ways I have identified in working in this space in the last 20 years:

1️⃣ Look at the culture of the team they currently lead. The cultures of teams are often the product of the values and behaviours of their leaders – if the team is ‘off’, there is a good chance it is due to the leaders behaviour.

Leadership Assessment
2️⃣ Get them to complete a comprehensive leadership assessment. Understanding the strengths and skills of the leader is important, not only so you can determine if their strengths and weaknesses suit your culture, but also to help determine what development activities you may need to assist them in. Using a good tool like the Leadership Circle or the Velocity Leadership CheckPoint can assist greatly in determining strengths and skills.

Velocity Leadership CheckPoint - Leadership Assessment Tool for Leaders
The Velocity Leadership CheckPoint Is The Start Point For Executive Leadership Coaching

Attitude to Learning
3️⃣ What is their attitude to leadership coaching and training? In my experience, the worst / incompetent leaders have a narcissistic streak that results in a ‘I already know it all’ attitude, and they are unlikely to accept any form of training for themselves. The best leaders almost always seek further coaching / training to develop their skills.

As the article highlights – ‘it is easy to be seduced by incompetence’. That said, the tools and options are there if you want to look and ensure that you hire and work with competent rather than incompetent leaders. That little bit of research could make the world of difference to your team, your business and your culture.

Have you worked for an incompetent leader? What impact did it have on you or your business culture?
#coaching #leadership #leadershiptraining #incompetentleaders #IMLD #developingleaders

Related Articles:

Can You Admit When You Are Wrong?

The 5 Leadership Behaviour That Drive Great Business Cultures

Are You Too Lenient As A Leader?


The Standard You Walk Past Is The Standard You Accept

They say that ‘the standard you walk past is the standard you accept’. The principle that follows is that you shouldn’t walk past a poor standard (in your business, your team, your life) – you should take responsibility for it and do something about it.

What is Exoneration in the AIR / BLEEDS model? It is exactly the opposite. It is becoming aware of behaviour or task that isn’t at the correct AND walking right past it, behaving as if the behaviour didn’t happen. This isn’t a case of not seeing it or having your head ‘buried in the sand’, it is choosing to ignore the behaviour and letting it go.
Exoneration is more prevalent than you think in business and life.

You don’t have to look very far in either State or Federal politics to see exoneration at work.
Someone is known to have committed a crime, a rort, an improper behaviour – and there are no actions against the behaviour and there are little consequences. The person doing it takes no responsibility, and the leader / boss does not hold them to account – and the improper behaviour continues because it has been tacitly approved. Exoneration is hope that the behaviour will be ignored and others will forget about it.

Exoneration can have a huge negative impact on a business – just as much as the other BLEEDS components of Blame, Excuses, Leniency or Defence. When a standard is walked past by a leader – you tell every other person in the organisation that it is OK.

Why do people exonerate others for poor behaviour? In my humble opinion, it is often down to fear. Fear of consequences, fear of a difficult conversation, fear of being seen as ‘management’, fear of not being liked and probably most often – fear of being ‘called out’ for exactly the same behaviour.
What can you do if you thin you might be exonerating others rather than holding to account?

1️⃣ Get very clear on what standard you want to uphold in your organisation / business. State very clearly what they are, and why they are important to you.

2️⃣. Hold yourself to those standards – and be very clear and upfront if you miss them. One of the key reasons people exonerate others is because they find themselves wanting in the same area and don’t want to be seen as a hypocrite – so they let both people (themselves and the other) off.

3️⃣ Be clear on the consequences of actions in advance.

If you would like to know more about exoneration – how to set, develop and communicate standards as well as hold yourself and others to account, send me a message. Setting clear standards and behaviours for yourself, your team and your business is not as hard as it might seem.

Related Articles:

AIR/BLEEDS Series – Responsibility. Are You A More Responsible Or Accountable Leader?

AIR/BLEEDS Series – Blame. Does Blame tarnish Your Leadership Ability?

AIR/BLEEDS Series – Leniency. Are You Too Lenient As A Leader?

AIR/BLEEDS Series – Excuses. Is Your Leadership Hampered By Your Excuses?

AIR/BLEEDS Series – Exoneration. The Standard You Walk Past Is The Standard You Accept?

AIR/BLEEDS Series – Defence. Can You Admit When You Are Wrong?

AIR/BLEEDS Series – Shame. Shame Is A Common Leadership Behaviour – Is It One of Yours?