One of the biggest challenges for any manager or leader is the relationship they have with their team members.

We often read about the need for leaders to be open, self-aware, honest and possess similar traits.

But what about the employee? What is their responsibility?

Managing people and teams is challenging, there is no doubt. Understanding why people do what they do and behave in certain ways can reduce the challenge and assist in managing situations as they arise.
The responsibility to influence outputs amongst different roles may vary, however the level of responsibility and commitment required from a manager or employee remains the same. It is the context of the role and associated tasks that differ, not the degree of ownership that is required. I remain certain that this is not how accountability and ownership is presented and reinforced in most organisations. I sometimes see employees manipulating, displaying passive-aggressive behaviours and generally playing games to get what they want or influence their peers.
CoachStation: Leadership Development, Coaching, Consulting and Mentoring
Passive-aggressive behaviour is the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination, stubbornness, sullen behaviour, or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible.(1) This is not always the employees ‘fault’. As organisations and leaders we are required to clearly establish the standards, expectations, culture and support to give the best opportunity for success of the individual and business.
When coaching and consulting, I encourage my clients to first look at themselves and the world they have created to see if that is in fact, the reason why an employee is ‘misbehaving’. The risk is that we hold others accountable for things that were not clearly established or understood in the first place. In my experience, very few people wake up in the morning with the attitude that they intend to ruin everyone’s day.
As leaders we need to be able to comfortably acknowledge that we have created the best chance to get the best out of every employee. Looking at ourselves first is important, however ultimately these behaviours are a choice and often reflect character flaws and sometimes other, larger issues.

Who is managing who? Remember, a manager is an employee too – we are all part of a team. These behaviours are not restricted to entry-level employees only!

A recent Forbes article highlights ways to manage these situations through your own awareness and development. I learned how to “control the controllable” and not get side-tracked by other people’s agendas that could have thrown my career off-course. Instead, I disciplined myself to invest in my own development and associated myself with people that I could trust and build momentum around. You must have wide-angle vision in today’s new workplace to avoid the traps that may hinder your path towards career success…you may not be able to always avoid them, but you can always learn to navigate through them along your journey.(2)

I am certain that most of you reading this can associate with and have observed people behaving in these ways. Understanding why people are making these choices can help you to know how to manage through the challenge. Some of the behaviours and related triggers in my experience are:

  1. Fear: the fear of the unknown; risk of losing a job; risk of not being given a pay-rise or bonus; pride and many similar triggers for fear drive the behaviours of us all, not just your team members. Taking the time to understand what people are feeling and why offers the opportunity to reduce or allay their fears. It might seem a simple approach and even obvious, yet what we know is not always what we do!
  2. Resistance to change: managing the beliefs and reasons why change remains predominantly a negative aspect of business is a core leadership task. Apart form the strong link to point 4 below (clarity and context), it is also often about finding a trigger for individuals and teams that helps them to see the reasons why the change is of benefit.
  3. Just plain nasty: although it is rare, some people are quite simply not wired correctly and inherently create and look for trouble. Sometimes this is sociopathic behaviour and no matter what you do, little will change. Don’t allow yourself to overstate how common this type of person and behaviour is, however, as it can be one way that people let themselves off the hook by attributing their own flaws or blaming others for their own failures.
  4. Lack of clarity and context: providing background information and helping your team members understand how what they do contributes to something bigger really does matter.
  5. Mental health issues: genuine issues can exist that require external counselling and support. As a leader your role is to understand people and recommend assistance elsewhere if it is required. Having a good Employee Assistance Program is a great benefit and has helped many people.
  6. Earn the right: in all relationships, both in and out of work, the effort and desire must exist to truly get to know people. Along with trust, empathy and other attributes detailed in this blog and my other writing, you must ‘earn the right’ to have whatever conversation is required. This cannot be achieved by meeting with someone once every 3 months, for example!

The responsibility to own development sits with each of us individually. Hopefully you work for a leader and organisation who genuinely supports your development goals and sees the obvious benefits of investing in you and how that assists everyone involved. If not, this should not stop you from taking your own steps towards developing yourself, both personally and professionally.
Looking at this another way, if you don’t take the initiative to develop yourself, who do you expect will?
Let me know your thoughts.


Many of us are reflectors.
We take time to think about what is happening in our worlds and understand that self-awareness and development matter.

Reflection: to think through the implications of action, or non-action; what went well; and the things we might have changed or may alter in the future provides opportunity for growth and change. Developing as a person and leader requires this type of reflection and consideration. Taking the time to reflect is an important step in development. If we continue to ‘just do’ and get caught up in the routines and day-to-day details it is easy for time to pass us by and miss the chance for growth. Making the time to reflect matters!
During the coaching relationships developed with many of my clients I have learned how important it is to allow people the time to think through the implications of our discussions; the challenges presented; and potential actions or solutions. Many people are unwilling or unable to commit to the initial thought and require time away from the moment to ponder the opportunities and options that exist. Working within your preferred space and style, doing what is both intuitively and consistent with what you know works, provides the greatest opportunity for growth. A lack of self-awareness about who you are will limit the benefits of reflection.

Reflection, or the process of critically thinking about our behaviors, attitudes, beliefs and values, has been identified by numerous researchers as an important part of any learning process, be it formal or informal. Although professionals may have learned a body of knowledge and pattern of practice, it may be difficult to apply them in unique, complex or uncertain situations. Continuous learning in practice occurs through reflection-in-action (thinking on one’s feet) as well as reflection-on-action (thinking upon completion of a project or particular activity). (1)

To reflect on what has been helps to understand your own strengths and potential development areas. To not consider these alternatives and opportunities to build self-awareness is limiting personally and inherently negative for your leadership development. Developing your leadership skills takes time and effort. There are no short-cuts or ‘tricks’ that are going to make you more aware or capable as a leader. But, there are steps you can take that enable meaningful growth.

Most authorities on leadership development understand the importance of assisting managers and leaders to engage in self-discovery and self reflection.

Recorded statements from philosophers about the need for self-awareness and reflection for those in leadership positions goes back thousands of years to ancient philosophers and teaches like Confucius, Socrates, Plato, Jesus and Mohammed. However, research has shown that self-reflection is possibly a manager’s least favourite activity.
There are two good reasons why managers and leaders should be concerned about learning about themselves. First, while some people, because of personality flaws, like narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychological personality disorders should never be allowed to lead others, most people can improve their leadership potential and performance by engaging in self-reflection. Second, research has shown there is no better bedrock for effective leadership than a secure understanding and sense of oneself.
Self-understanding also provides a sound basis for understanding other people – how could a leader be conscious of another’s need or have empathy with others without first having awareness of their own self? In other words, you must first have a mature understanding of who you are and why you behave in the ways you do, and to be secure in self-acceptance, before leading other people. (2)
Beyond reflection in the moment, one of the processes that I find very useful is to think through the last 12 months. This is a timely process to perform now, as 2015 draws to an end. So, what have I learned about myself, people, my business and the world around me throughout this year?

  • The most successful people I know are more likely to be ‘givers’ rather than ‘takers’. We all have needs and a degree of selfishness in what we do and want, however those who are truly successful (with success measured more in a spiritual way rather than through wants such as financial, status, and tangible preferences) for the most part put others needs and desires ahead of their own.


  • I am at my best when my relationships are solid and I work on them in practice. As an extrovert it is very important for me to maintain regular contact with my friends, colleagues and clients. Working from home has many pros and cons, however understanding what works best has allowed me to build a rhythm that minimises the risks and makes the most of the opportunities. Regular reflection and self-analysis has enabled this knowledge and various actions in response. The energy and benefit gained from these relationships is difficult to quantify as it is so significant, but I know in my heart and head that they matter greatly and I would be less of a person without these relationships.


  • Development takes effort! The friends and clients who I see real progress and self-development in make the time to focus on learning. There is a deliberateness to their actions. They delve, challenge themselves through reading widely and learn deeply. The people I know who actively pursue new thinking; discuss their thoughts with trusted friends and colleagues; are curious and open-minded about alternatives beyond what they already know; and seek to extend their understanding through application of effort, take the greatest steps forward. This success and progress is measured through their own self-analysis and most importantly, through those closest to them – others feel, see and note the change.


  • Authenticity, honesty and comfort in self are key to effective leadership. I still hear and see to many managers who remain deeply uncomfortable in who they are and what they represent. We all have moments of self-doubt and uncertainty. Perfection is unachievable. Bravado and insincerity provide little to relationships and trust. Yet, these attributes and traits remain common in management. Ultimately, the only person you are kidding with these types of behaviour is yourself and it has little long-term benefit or return.

Gaining wisdom from an experience requires reflection. In thinking back on the significant events of my life, experiences good and bad, it was the act of assigning meaning that has made all the difference for me. Reflection requires a type of introspection that goes beyond merely thinking, talking or complaining about our experiences. It is an effort to understand how the events of our life shape the way in which we see the world, ourselves and others. And it is essential for any leader. (3)
Do you make the time to regularly reflect on yourself and your world?
What have you learned during 2015?

(1) Developing Future Leaders: The Role of Reflection in the Classroom
(2) Self-Reflection: The Key To Effective Leadership
(3) Leadership Character: The Role Of Reflection

To genuinely succeed in business, leaders must know their role, continuously develop their skills and be constantly supported to achieve the best they can as a leader and employee.

Finding your own development pathway takes ownership, effort and clarity. However, it is not something you need to do on your own. Whether it is developing yourself or your team, coaching and mentoring can be a powerful tool to enable change and growth, both personally and professionally. When it comes to leadership development, however, one of the keys to success is to start developing deliberately and early.

It is problematic to concern yourself with focusing on developing leadership skills after they are needed.

Setting up leaders to thrive through a development program both prior to and during their tenure is key to the success of your leadership team and business. Training in itself is one source of development, however this learning must be supported and reinforced in practice based on individual situations, needs, understanding and capability. Ongoing support ‘makes the learning real’ within the work environment, reinforcing the content and context provided during training.

CoachStation: Coaching and Mentoring Pathway

Image by Nick Scheerbart, Unsplash

As referenced on my CoachStation website, there are many reasons why organisations and people seek coaching and mentoring solutions, with a variety of benefits and outcomes accessed depending on individual needs.

Coaching and mentoring are increasingly sought after tools, accessed by business leaders and organisations eager to dedicate development time and resources at an individual level. Organisations are finding that this form of development is both good for business and employees.


Benefit and improvement is seen in areas such as: improved work performance; better client and customer service; increased confidence; effective leadership; enhanced relationships; more robust succession planning and increased goal achievement. Additionally, personal development improves self-esteem, self-awareness and other attributes which provides a stronger platform for you to succeed at work and at home.

When I am coaching and mentoring, the coachee and I work together on both a professional and personal level. It is virtually impossible to delineate between the ‘home’ and ‘work’ person, with situations, personalities, values and other traits being a consistent influence on coaching success. The benefits and rewards are often significant, however being coached and mentored takes effort and accountability. I recently read an excellent blog by Joanna Maynard which highlights the importance of ownership and accountability in self-development:

I like Ben Franklin’s idea about not giving others advice: “Wise men don’t need advice. Fools won’t take it.” I think this highlights a cornerstone of coaching. Unlike consulting, where the consultant is an expert who gathers information and then gives advice, the coach is more of a facilitator. A large part of a coach’s role is to draw out wisdom already inside the client so that the client may discover solutions for themselves.

I often hear people talk about what to consider when shopping for a coach. They may want a coach who has worked in their industry, or in a similar role to theirs, or at their level of management. I don’t think these should be the only—or even the top—criteria.

In fact, one of the most important factors in whether a coaching experience is successful centers on a quality that must be present not in the coach but in the client. Some call it coachability: the client’s willingness to discover their own wisdom and, once found, to act on it.

Effective coaches employ strong skills to facilitate client-discovered wisdom. Coaches help clients focus on their most important area of concern, define what they want, and determine what that looks like. Coaches ask questions that aid the client’s own discovery—questions that expand the client’s perspective and inspire them to take risks. To accomplish this, effective coaches create a safe, trusting environment in which their clients can do this important work. But the client also has a major role in creating this environment. They need to be coachable. Here are just a few ways you can enhance your own coach-ability:

  • Be willing to think and act differently in the future, even if your current ways of doing things have resulted in success.
  • Don’t hesitate to break free from old habits.
  • Take the time, and make the effort, to clarify your values and the parts of yourself you would like to develop.

Trust yourself enough to take action—sometimes bold action—as a result of your newly discovered knowledge. Since being coachable means being willing to be vulnerable, it must be noted that coaching is not the same as therapy. A coach is not going to ask a client to delve deeply into their past personal life. There is a real possibility that this concern stops some people from hiring a coach or using one fully.

Also noteworthy: in coaching, the client not the coach drives the agenda. This means the client doesn’t have to talk about anything they don’t want to talk about. They must, however, be coachable—willing to explore, discover their own wisdom, think differently, and stretch themselves. If they do this, most of the time the reward will far outweigh the effort.

So when interviewing a coach, think less about the coach’s track record and more about whether you want to take this person with you on your journey of growth and discovery.You might be thinking I’m not planning to hire a coach anytime soon—how does this apply to me? Allow me to challenge your question with a few questions of my own:

  1. In terms of your own growth, are you actively creating an effective learning environment?
  2. Are you open to expanding your thinking, clarifying your values, and taking bold action?
  3. If you answered no, what are you going to do about it? (1)

There is a genuine need for the person being coached and mentored to take ownership of their own development. Interestingly, this can sometimes be a bit of a surprise to some coachees. There is no ‘silver bullet’ or fast-tracking, but the benefits can be very worthwhile when accountability and effort become part of the coaching and mentoring process.

There are a few discernible differences between coaching and mentoring, however the core development and outcomes remain consistent. In coaching it is primarily about understanding the coachees situation and then facilitating and guiding to discover potential actions and goals, mostly derived from the coachee. When mentoring, it is often about the mentor providing advice and using their own experiences to help the person being mentored. Slightly different skills and inputs, yet in both cases the focus is on the future aspirations, goals and actions of the person being assisted. In my experience, the most successful coaching and mentoring environments are created when a person:

  • is committed to the program
  • is willing and able to develop trust between the coach/mentor and themselves
  • is committed and works on the content in practice between sessions
  • has a leader who actively supports them in their development
  • recognises that there are no short-cuts
  • understands that coaching and mentoring are just part of the story or journey.

One of the additional paybacks is that as a participant, your own coaching and mentoring skills develop along the way. This improved skillset provides an excellent resource for you to help others in a similar way, whether they are your direct reports, peers or others within or external to the organisation. When applied well, coaching and mentoring can:

  1. Inspire shared learning: Leadership can be lonely. Leaders often feel isolated, unable or unwilling to share information with team members and they feel as though they need to have all the answers, which can be quite stressful.
  2. Encourage people to understand themselves: The CoachStation Coaching model works through the coachees situation, identifying development areas and opportunities for growth and improvement. We use many different tools and resources, all designed as triggers for self-awareness, discussion-points and clarity – targeted and individualised programs focus on the ‘right’ area that will provide the most benefit.
  3. Inspire and enable honesty: In the workplace, employees are often allowed to avoid confrontation. They sidestep challenges, procrastinate and sometimes actively or passively refuse to address things that matter the most – few people like confrontation, but when avoided, problems continue to build.
  4. Support change: During inductions, for newly promoted staff and other business needs, change can be supported through coaching and mentoring – the commitment to develop each persons skills and competencies.
  5. Create opportunity for self-development: Leading to confidence and strength in developing others, a critical step in a leaders development.

When I am coaching the focus of the program is quite often leadership development, however each client has their own unique situation, personality, challenges and other elements to be considered in the process. Experience has shown me that through a structured coaching and mentoring program you will see and feel a difference…and so will those around you.

It is a great time to consider whether you or one of your team would benefit from participation in our coaching and mentoring program. 

I am more than happy to be contacted if you wish to discuss how I can assist you, your organisation or members of your team. In the meantime, reflecting on your own development opportunities and accountability is a great place to start. After all, self-development can only happen because you care enough to take the first (or next) steps.