My Purpose and Background

My Purpose and Background

My Purpose

Is to transform the face of leadership to one where leaders and their teams are FOR each other, open to learning and willing to show their humanity. I want leaders to role model  empowerment and inspire their teams.

My Journey – Career

I started out in accountancy many years ago, working initially in public sector and then KPMG.  Working for KPMG was a big grounding for my career – I learnt a great deal of professionalism and skills which (to this day) serve me well.  I then went into retail and moved into leadership (still in finance), followed by another move into the music industry where I changed my path to project management.  I got made redundant in 2005 and this is when my entrepreneurial journey started!

I started a social enterprise focusing on team building activities, particularly working with corporate companies and contributing to their corporate social responsibility initiatives.  I then started training and then coaching – delivering many courses over many years including leadership style, time management, equality & diversity, communication, self esteem and purpose .

My Personal Journey

Around the same time that I got made redundant I felt very dis-satisfied in myself.  Somewhat uncomfortable in my own skin as it were.  At the time I was a Trustee with a counselling charity and I embarked on a recommended self esteem course run by a More to Life mentor.  This course radically transformed my awareness of myself and how I perceived others and life.  

This was quite an awakening!  It was a big shock for me that, at times, I did not think very highly of myself.  To this day I am truly grateful for this wake up call – I learnt how to transform my perception of myself, others and life.  I learnt how to build my esteem and intrinsic qualities based on who I am rather than who I thought I should be or what I did or didn’t achieve.  This was life changing!  I still use the tools from this course to this day.

Following this I completed the More to Life weekend and a number of further courses and coaching.  I learnt how to support myself on a daily basis to get back on track with myself when my leadership or life was challenging.  This has transformed my willingness, emotional resilience, ability to be 100% in, responsiveness, self care, self mastery…the list is endless.  Then the much bigger piece (or game as my coach used to say) was to go for being a Spiritual Warrior.  This was a massive shift in self mastery and connection with myself.  You can read/hear more about this in My Journey.

I am feeling grateful and in awe of what is possible as I type this.  It is now my passion to share myself, my knowledge and my learning to grow myself and others.  And enjoy life!  Especially a radically different quality of life…

This ongoing journey has and continues to transform my facilitation and coaching skills, equipping me with the knowledge to understand, teach and empower others through becoming aware of – and then changing their behaviour.  I have LIVED a number of the challenges my clients have and I am continually proud of the leadership growth I have seen.

I have and continue to design many leadership courses and individual/group coaching programmes primarily focusing on powerful self leadership, self mastery, emotional resilience, transforming confidence and behaviour change.

What I Stand For

I stand for being FOR myself and others, being open-hearted, compassionate, bold, honouring and empathetic.  I am committed to doing my own work to ensure I am clear, present and real with my clients.  It does not support them or me to be anything less.

I LIVE what I teach and trust on a daily basis that everything is exactly how it is meant to be – because that’s how it is (or was!).

Which is why my style and approach is based on the principles of real life, real professional challenges – which simply means leadership transformation on your terms.

So if this is the way you would like to develop your leadership then you’ve come to the perfect place.


My Experience 

I am a highly incisive executive coach and trainer, having brought together many years of corporate, public and third sector experience with my expertise as a skilled facilitator.

I am passionate! Particularly about transforming individuals and their business culture through role modelling authentic leadership and sharp, powerful self awareness.

I work with a range of executives and business owners – specialising in the legal, finance and property sectors. I generally work with executives, partners and emerging leaders who want to achieve one or more of the following:

• Develop their engagement and relationship building skills with clients, staff, peers
• Grow and/or change their leadership behaviour to improve performance
• Develop their confidence and/or transition from a technically led role to a leadership role
• High achievers who want to significantly reduce stress and improve peace of mind
• Step-up their leadership skills to be more at ease with overcome challenging clients, staff, peers

I truly believe there is no better way to create an empowered environment (and reduce barriers) than to role model this through leadership practise and behaviour. This is where individuals and organisations can become high performing, innovative and responsive.

In addition to my work here, I volunteer on a regular basis as a Community Youth Panellist in both Essex and Hertfordshire and I am trained in restorative justice practice and techniques.

I live in Ware, Hertfordshire and spend much loved time with my family, practising yoga and dancing at any given opportunity!
You can view my LinkedIn profile   to see my experience and background in more detail, including client recommendations.

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New Year…New Inner You?

New Year…New Inner You?

Wow the New Year can be such a catalyst can’t it? For me the build up to Christmas and that momentum of switching over to a new year has created a fire in me to change!! How about you?

I spent quite some time during the build up to Christmas reflecting on what behaviours I wanted to develop, master, enjoy. Yes enjoy! The major theme for me has been about focusing more on the quality of the moment – the NOW, each present moment. As ever my focus is on how I am BEing, not what I am DOing. 

It’s very easy isn’t it to focus on changing things external to us – getting into New Year’s resolutions that focus on the DOing to improve our lot or indeed fix something that we perceive to be a failure or weakness of how we are.  

So for me development, personal and professional, is predominantly focused on BEing not DOing. How do I want to BE different, how do I want to create or change a behaviour.

‘Our attitude is like perfume…people can smell it’. And we get what we get as a result.

A few insights occurred to me during my period of reflection:

  • Fixing – the momentous amount of time I’ve spent trying to ‘fix’ something about myself has been huge! This is all good because it has lead me to where I am now. However, acceptance of me as I am and where I am is really where I can propel myself to come alive and step forward
  • My Experience – EVERYTHING that I experience is happening on the inside, not outside of me…particularly my perception of myself, others, the leadership context. This perception dictates how I behave
  • BEing – I can DO a lot of things, however how I am BEing whilst I am doing them is what makes a real difference to me, my leadership and the resulting impact

Thus right now, in the context of behaviour change, I realise some of my biggest learnings in all the 20 plus years I‘ve been proactively developing myself comes down to 3 fundamental things:

  • Willingness, openness, acceptance – this is never ending…
  • Getting off self condemnation…again…and again…and again…
  • Challenging…my beliefs…perceptions…assumptions…

I shared in my last article about the ‘Building Inner Confidence for Professional Impact’ on-line course that I have spent the last 18 months developing. At the crux of this are some of these insights…especially the approach that the course isn’t a sticking plaster. It’s a combination of the last 20 years of self insight and learning.

It’s not about telling yourself that you are this or that or indeed that anything external is going to give you the confidence or assurance you want. The course is asking you to be willing to go inside, dig deep and see what’s there. Pick at the uncomfortableness, see what your perceptions and beliefs are about yourself. See that those negative beliefs and perceptions are fundamentally complete rubbish! And the real truth is something only you can discover because that is inside you – or is yet to be revealed. That’s empowernment my friends…

Writing this I remember how scared I was to go inside me and take those first steps. So I have a huge empathy with anyone who may be feeling terrified, apprehensive, scared, anxious about doing so. I was so fearful that I’d find something awful, something fundamental about me that was just life changingly terrible. Or something that would mean all my concerns and fears were actually true. I was a liability, a burden – and essentially not good enough. Well of course I didn’t find anything like that. It was all hot air, fears, complete crap, self created illusion. Hard to know that though right? Unless you take that courageous first step…

So here we are…a New Year and the golden opportunity to use this catalyst, this energy to fuel change. Take the plunge to invest in yourself and your ongoing journey that is your life and leadership… 

What’s the worst that can happen? Or more importantly what’s the amazing BEST of you that could emerge?

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Building Inner Confidence for Professional Impact

 

This is a 6 module course designed to transform your inner confidence.  This course shares a wealth of information and transformational tools for you to practise over time – increasing your inner confidence and mastering that sometimes negative inner voice.

Getting started with delving into and learning to master your inner voice may seem daunting, but with Nicci’s expert guidance you’ll be building your inner confidence more radically than you could have ever dreamed of.

Learn transformative knowledge and techniques to handle the most challenging situations with ease.

Pretty soon, your inner confidence practise will be the most empowering part of your working week!

To find out more about the course please click on the above link.  If you have any questions at all or would like to explore what you would get from taking the course please email me: nicci@awareleadership.co.uk or call me on 07817 246930.  OR you can pop a question or comment into my live online chat box!

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Obligation in Leadership – Does it Serve you Well?

Obligation in Leadership – Does it Serve you Well?

There’s a motivational state that has been evident around me the last few weeks and months – and in myself sometimes – obligation.

Do you know this one? It’s the state of mind we can get into with a commitment that sounds like:

  • I have to go along, see this through, keep going…
  • I can’t say no – or what I really think…
  • I’m bored…frustrated…tired…distracted
  • This isn’t working…this isn’t what is should be…this should be…
  • So-and-so doesn’t know what they are doing…
  • I’ve tried to change it but it doesn’t work, if I say anything it won’t make any difference
  • Here we go again…
  • I have no choice…

So you show up for a meeting and this is your state of mind. ‘Going through the motions’ comes to my mind as I’m writing this. I have done this many times! Something at some point may peak my interested, but other than that I’m 50% – sometimes – 25% in.

At some point I said YES to this commitment and now I’m acting out a NO.

And then what most likely nicely piles up is resentment and/or resignation. We then go about (consciously or unconsciously) playing this out with some of the following behaviours:

  • Distracted, disengaged, not giving our full attention (playing with our phone is a popular one)
  • Withholding of information, knowledge or contribution
  • Acting bored or indifferent
  • Not really fully participating or speaking up about what one is unhappy or frustrated about
  • Moaning, complaining – we do like to do that don’t we!
  • Colluding with others outside of the meeting to diagnose ‘what’s wrong’
  • Mentally justifying one’s own disengagement, inactivity or lack of attention

We are literally rejecting or resisting the situation right now – AS IT IS. Well we have tried haven’t we?

The thing is when we show up in a state of obligation, not only are we not taking responsibility for our part – we have also already condemned the situation as ‘over’.  We have closed the door our willingness to see possibility, get creative or be open to the conversation as it is happening. There is nowhere to go after that. Obligation is the path we are on and there’s a perceived self preservation in that – and a nice familiar place to hide out – being a martyr or a victim or ‘knowing better’.

There’s a big fat NO in us and the essence of that will trickle out affecting the atmosphere.  And of course the ensuing resentment is like poison, slowing sucking the life out of everything. This may sound dramatic but it’s very real when it happens and can be extremely toxic in an organisational culture.

As Nelson Mandela said:

‘Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die’

My question is: Would you really want to keep this going? We all play a part in the context, what’s created in any given moment. You have the absolute power – at any time – to choose something different.  To choose a different way to BE and behave.

Don’t underestimate how much one person’s willingness – yours – can affect the atmosphere and outcome. As a very wise person once said to me ‘your way of being, your behaviour are like perfume – people can smell it’.

People in high performing, empowered cultures show up much more in a motivational state of willingness. A willingness to be open, to say what is so for them – even if this is uncomfortable. There’s a willingness to be honest, fully participate, focus on the quality of their own experience and that of the team. There’s a willingness to be uncertain, creative, uncomfortable, collaborative. They take personal responsibility for the part they play and how this contributes to the bigger picture.

So here are five suggestions and insights that I’m hopeful will support you (and indeed the bigger picture in your own organisational culture):

  • Purpose – what’s your purpose for being there? For saying yes in the first place. Is your purpose still valid or true? Are you and/or the team getting what you came for? Is your purpose big enough to see you through when things don’t go how you would like? Sometimes admitting to ourselves that we don’t want something anymore or it’s not working out is tough. And letting go can take huge amounts of courage…however it can also create room for discourse, something else, other ideas, people or possibilities…
  • Choice – Is it really true that we have no choice? There may be consequences to making a different choice – however I put it to you that this is not the same as not having a choice. What we can always choose is how we are with the choices we make. There is a big psychological difference and impact between and attitude of ‘obligation’ and ‘willingness’
  • Are you IN or OUT – in light of your or the team’s purpose, do you really to keep going? Is it serving you, others or the purpose to keep going? Are you contributing in the way you want to? Are you creating the results you want? What needs to happen for you/the team to be more engaged, committed…fully IN…100%
  • Tell the TRUTH – if you are not happy or don’t what to be there. Speak up, leave, say no, let go. Tell the truth about how you are feeling and what you’d like to see change. No guarantee of course that you will get what you want! Have your voice though, even if it is not what others want to hear. You do yourself and others a disservice by not speaking up. I can’t count the times I have been fearful to say something and then when I do there are countless others who say ‘yes, I thought that’. And then we have course corrected or cleared up what was in the way. Your willingness to be open and truthful creates the space for others to do the same
  • You – by being in a state of obligation the person who loses out most is YOU. You diminish your voice, you minimise your wants and needs, you minimise that fact that YOU matter and your contribution matters. Avoiding taking responsibility for yourself in this way also diminishes the part YOU can play in creating something different – whether that’s staying where you are or not. Contexts shift constantly – you can choose to change yours proactively and consciously or ‘ride along’ in obligation.

So, as always the choice is yours…

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Leadership Development – What do YOU stand for?

Leadership Development – What do YOU stand for?

I’ve worked with many clients, particularly public sector, who want to transform their stakeholder engagement results, predominantly staff engagement. They want a higher performing culture – a culture where staff are much more empowered, forward thinking and engaged. They want this to transform their organisation, solve their retention or HR issues and lead to significant improvement of services. The ‘golden alchemy’ if you will.

What I’ve noticed is that there’s a big piece missing for me in how this goal is tackled or even debated. I see a kind of flatness, blandness, sometimes a lot of resignation and particularly individual leaders with-holding their individuality. I rarely see a leader truly engaged in their own strategy – where’s the passion, where’s the emotionally compelling vision for a transformed future? For me sometimes there’s a big disconnection in HOW the vision and strategies are put forward.  I want to see leaders take a stand.  I want to see leaders authentically sharing what they stand for and engaging me into a compelling vision for the future – because they are engaged and fired up themselves.

As with all hopes for change, this starts at home – in all of us as leaders. How are you being? What do you stand for?

In the same respect, I have huge compassion that this may not be the ‘done thing’, showing one’s self in this way. It takes courage and the willingness to stand out. It’s more common to portray a ‘persona’ or a culturally accepted norm – to maintain a conscious or unconscious consensus. Completely understandable .

My question is, how can you as a leader expect your teams to BE something which isn’t role modelled in your own behaviour?  Isn’t that confusing and incongruent? The most powerful way we can engage and transform is to role model the courage and willingness to do this ourselves.  Engage yourself first, transform your attitude first.

I hear a lot about different organisational development strategies, all brilliant initiatives that will be part of this or improvement journey.  I am a passionate believer however that creating a coaching culture is one of the most effective and sustainable ways to transform cultures, particularly for organisations that are going for higher performance, empowerment or engagement.

This is something I have a great deal of experience in. Some years ago I created a ‘coaching for culture’ programme with an awesome educational client. This was a powerful way to not only develop leadership and teams but also create a more purposeful, open, empowered culture where the emphasis shifted from ‘telling’ to ‘learning’. The starting part of course is to role model this through the executive team – through their own journey of empowerment and development. Who knows what’s possible after that!

So here’s my four key steps to creating an empowered coaching culture:

– Live it – have your own coaching, be empowered, see how this transforms your own performance or engagement. This could even be the purpose of your coaching

– Creating a Vision and Purpose – intentionally create a powerful, compelling vision and purpose that engages YOU and sets the context for coaching

– Coaching Strategy – underpinned by your vision and purpose, create a strategy or framework that is going to bring about your coaching culture

– Tipping point – be clear about the ‘how’ in your strategy, how are going to create a tipping point in coaching culture? Who are you going to enrol into your vision, how are you going to engage internal and external stakeholders, how are you going to create the context which will bring about your results (particularly how staff will keep practising and keep their learning going).

There you are. Go create!

 

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Legal Leadership – Visionary or Vacant?

Legal Leadership – Visionary or Vacant?

I was just reading a Forbes article about the top 3 burning issues in law firm’s – highlighted in 2017. I’ve worked with a number of legal professionals and this top 3 really resonated with what I’ve been experiencing and hearing. Here’s my take on the key challenges:

  • Vision and Strategy – gone are the times when being the top fee earner was all a firm is strategically focused on – or indeed extremely reactive leadership which only reacts to day to day events. MORE is required these days to engage firm staff, clients and other stakeholders in a meaningful strategic vision and aspirational brand values.  More forward thinking firms are moving into this evolving paradigm because they recognise the world has moved on. People want a more common purpose, inspiration and fulfilment. Being technically excellent is no longer enough
  • Succession Planning & Developing Talent – many firms are in a new era of leadership transition. They are looking at one or two years ahead where managing partners who have been in the firm for 10-20, sometime nearly 30 years are about to retire. Reflection on the old paradigm of this kind of term is bringing about a realisation that in order for firms to grow, their leadership needs to be more fresh, creative and forward thinking. The old paradigm of long serving partners may be consistent and solid but can also create stagnation and client silos. Firms need emerging partners, associates who have the strategic engagement skills to deliver client development AND bring about a compelling strategic vision
  • Cultural Congruency – the practise in many law firms has been to segregate departments and recruit laterally based on industry groupings or areas of law. However cross cultural alignment can be a big issue across firms. Employment law departments can foster a very different culture in comparison to say conveyancing which can be far more transactional. Firm leaders need to have the aptitude and adaptability to engage and serve clients across the firm. It’s a real challenge for firms to create a common culture when head of departments may be at odds in both their leadership style and their willingness to invest in the firm’s strategic leadership development

I’ve recently been doing some research for a leadership programme – with varied feedback from legal firms of different sizes and complexity. The themes I’ve pulled from this so far, plus feedback from clients, has reflected similar challenges. I think it’s immensely positive that some firms are aware of their barriers to growth – the next step is doing something about it! And of course engaging their firm is key – enrolling themselves, teams, clients and other stakeholders to ‘get on the train’ as it were.

Here are 3 top tips then to reflect on…

  • Leadership Capacity – invest the time to look at where the firm’s leadership is in relation to both current growth and challenges, where’s the gap? What are the challenges telling you? I’m a great believer in challenges being the biggest opportunity for growth. Is the leadership resisting challenges or getting aligned with the reality of change – and most importantly what clients needs are
  • Pro-active Leadership – engage partners and stakeholders in developing a vision for the future – one which is not just about technical or financial growth but HOW this vision is going to be lead. What is it going to take in the existing (or up and coming) leadership to build the firm’s evolving world? Making the time and investment to consciously choose how to lead is very different from batting off challenges as they arise
  • Collective Leadership Vision – invest in the development of both existing leadership and emerging talent. Review how the firm can commit to empowering and harnessing talent, those who are going to be leading the firm into the distant future. Create openness and honesty about the existing capabilities and barriers of current leadership behaviours. Develop both individual leadership visions and a collective leadership vision which inspires, creates clarity and ambition

So there you go! I’m passionate about individual and collective self awareness in firms, mostly because self awareness = choice. The choice to respond differently. The choice to be pro-active rather than reactive. How powerful would your firm be if you were consciously choosing how to behave? Wow!

Want to create that vision or proactive leadership in your firm?

Ask me about a FREE leadership group taster session to propel your greatest challenges into a powerful strategic vision.

I can’t wait to hear from you…

Book FREE Leadership Group Taster Session

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Mark, Director of Commercial Development, FE Sector

Mark, Director of Commercial Development, FE Sector

‘I have worked with Nicci to develop my Leadership skills- I have enjoyed our sessions together and the style of developmental faciltation that Nicci developed. The training has enabled me to become a more reflective individual and increase understand my strengthens and weaknesses from all perspectives – mine and others. I strongly recommend Nicci’

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Charlie, Director/Analyst at Panmure Gordon

Charlie, Director/Analyst at Panmure Gordon

‘Superb coach. I work in a technical role and engaged Nicci to help me develop my client skills. Over a 6 month programme, she gently helped/pushed me to identify and address my tics and issues enabling me to build my client skills. She has a great sense of timing – knowing when to and when not to push. She tailored her approach to my needs. I would recommend her to anyone.’

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Sue, Business Owner, The Resource Centre

Sue, Business Owner, The Resource Centre

‘Nicci has made a positive and valuable impact towards helping me to change my way of thinking and is like a breath of fresh air. I have enjoyed talking to Nicci on a wide variety of subjects would recommend her coaching skills on both a personal and professional basis.’

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James, Chartered Financial Planner

James, Chartered Financial Planner

‘I can thoroughly recommend Nicci and the coaching process that she takes you through. At times, especially in the beginning, it can be a difficult process as you have to discuss how you currently behave and face the truth of what you are doing. However, with time and practice, Nicci shows you how you can change your behaviour and its great when you see it working.’

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