Unleash Series 1: Reconnecting with our PLP Learning

Edition 1

I am delighted to launch the ‘Unleash Series’, a monthly reminder of some of the material that we covered when you completed your Personal Leadership Programme. The idea behind the series is to support you in remaining connected to the material and in integrating the learning into your behaviours. As we know from the programme, ‘behaviour breeds behaviour’ and by modelling what we have learnt, it can have a profound impact on our lives and equally, inspire those around us.

So for the month of June, lets all focus on the skill of really listening attentively as we defined and experienced it on the programme. Listening to someone with our full and undivided attention, and demonstrating genuine interest in their thoughts, are two of the most empowering things we can do. It means much more than simply listening with our ears. When we are truly attentive and listening to someone, all of our senses are fully engaged, giving that person our undivided concentration and regarding them with total fascination. We need to listen with our ears, our eyes and our heart, relinquishing our own thoughts and agenda.

We can all remember a time when we felt listened to. We may not remember what we were talking about at the time, but we can remember how it made us feel. We know intuitively whether we are being listened to or not. It is a mistake to think we can disguise when we are not listening or attentive to others. Such inattention or ‘half-listening’ can fundamentally undermine the quality of our relationships. Linking this back to ‘behaviour breeds behaviour’, if you want people to listen to what you have to say, then make sure they feel you have listened to them. When we feel we are being listened to, we know we are being taken seriously.

In his book, The 8th Habit, management guru Stephen Covey tells a true story about the importance of asking other people their opinions. Covey recounts how J.W. ‘Bill’ Marriott, the chairman of the board of Marriott International, told him “the biggest lesson I have learned through the years

“It is to listen to your people – I find that if you have senior managers who really gather their people around them, get their ideas and listen to their input… you make a lot better decisions”

The benefits of having and utilising listening skills when interacting with colleagues and associates are many. An authentic listener can and does evoke a higher level of trust within a relationship. Such trusting relationships are priceless. Leaders who practice these listening skills are much more effective at inspiring professional development and overall performance.

So for the month of May, let us focus on Unleashing… Listening. The best of luck!!

Maurice Whelan,
Founder and Managing Director
Unleash Potential

The Impact Of This Speech Is As Powerful As The Day It Was Made

“…And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”



The Way We Teach – The Way We Learn!

logo_DSPCAA friend of mine Mary McCarthy sent me this recently and it really hit home. Maybe it is because we adopted two dogs from the Animal Rescue Centre, Mo & Lulu  (brother and sister). It has been challenging training them, and in fairness we had a rough start, Mo broke his leg in two places, just one week after we got him, he slipped while chasing Lulu across the decking. So this certainly hit home and gave me food for thought!!

“The finest professional animal trainers never punish their animals, except as a last resort or to prevent injury. They know that punishment only suppresses undesirable behavior temporarily. Once the punishment is withdrawn, the behavior tends to return.

They also know that punishment teaches their animals to hate and fear them – the last thing a trainer wants. If you’ve ever watched the “dog whisperer”, Cesar Millan, you will understand.

MO with dogThis is no different for people. Just think about it: How well do you learn from someone you would much rather avoid? How well do you respond to someone who is trying to get you to do something by threatening or hurting you? How much do you learn under adverse conditions, and how quickly do you forget what you have learned? Chances are the one thing you will remember is how you managed to avoid anything to do with this person.

In a vast majority of situations, we can best teach others by praising their efforts, no matter how faltering or incomplete, and building their confidence, step by step.

For young children, be sure the learning task is within the child’s capacity, ignore mistakes, focus on successes, and be patient. In fact, patience goes a long way in most situations. We can goal-set all we want, but some situations we simply have no control over. This is where our resiliency and option thinking abilities come to the forefront.

So, focus on the end-result you want, gather your positive self-talk, and let your natural creativity find the answers to the challenges you face. You generally will be pleased with the results.”

More Good News From Amarach Research.

November 28th 2013    

Unleash Potential Ltd_v5The good news is getting better: our Economic Recovery Index has reached another  record high this month, indicating real momentum in the wider economy. Even better, we’re starting to see improvements in related measures of consumer spending intentions and perceived financial wellbeing in the same survey. Up until now, consumer indicators remained flat even as the consensus on the economic outlook improved. At last there’s evidence of a macro-micro convergence, which bodes well for the much anticipated pick-up in consumer spending next year.

Amarach Research gives us some good news

eri-sept-cover-300x224It feels like we have been waiting for ages, but the latest forecasts from the ESRI, Central Bank, EU and IMF are all agreed on one thing: Irish consumers will finally start spending next year.

We have updated our forecasts for consumer incomes and expenditure, incorporating the most recent projections for 2014 – extending them out to 2016. Consumer spending is forecasts to jump next year by a whopping €2.6bn to €86.1bn. By 2016 the level could return to that of 2007. That’s certainly something to look forward to. Build momentum: what are you planning, developing and doing now to make sure you gain from the upturn next year? It’s only two months away…

What Does It Mean To Be A Living Leader

Penny Ferguson, Author of The Living Leader.

Penny Ferguson, Author of The Living Leader.

Some years ago I attended a training course given by Penny Ferguson to the organisation I worked in.  Penny is a forthright presenter with very strong views about leadership. I thought it would be useful to review Penny’s book The Living Leader to gain a greater awareness and understanding of leadership in the context of coaching. Also I thought it would be apt to remind myself of what leadership in business means today and what particular skills are needed to achieve success. Penny tells the reader that she has completely changed her opinion on what leadership is actually about.  She once believed it was primarily about developing skills and acquiring more knowledge around the various theories on the subject of leadership. She believed that success was essentially about learning these skills and putting them into practice. She has changed her whole way of thinking in recent years. This change emanates from her experience of dealing with many International companies and global Chief Executives. She now believes that Leadership is not primarily about what you do, it is about who you are and who you choose to be. Or to put it in philosophical terms, leadership is more about being rather than doing.

“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without strategy”.   
Norman Schwarzkopf

Penny’s concern is about achieving organisational success and leadership is a fundamental part of that ongoing success. Every organisation must have a clear vision to be successful. To make that vision a reality, organisations need Leaders with the right skills, attitudes and character. The key learning for me was just how important questioning was to the successful leader, something Leadership has in common with coaching. “You can tell a man is clever by his answers. You can tell a man is wise by his questions.” Naquib Mahfouz Penny states that outstanding leaders recognise that asking the right questions is critical, not least because leaders require all the pertinent information before making a decision. So, for Penny, becoming a listening leader is essential to success.

It is interesting that She focuses heavily on the skill of questioning, which of course is a fundamental requirement of the executive coach. She underpins the importance of incisive questions and urges her reader to use the ‘who, what, where, when and how’ questions to uncover the information needed to make executive decisions. The incisive question needs to become second nature to the leader. Penny’s book highlights for me the fundamental role that incisive questioning play in excellent leadership, and indeed in many aspects of life, including coaching. It reinforces for me the central role of questioning in my coaching work and the need to bring this skill to the clients awareness and encourage them to use open questioning within their business life.

The book is an articulate, informative and inspiring read and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in the subject of leadership. Better still, if you ever get an opportunity to attend an event where Penny is speaking, grab it with both hands!

Maurice Whelan.  www.unleashpotential.ie

Having “The Edge”

charismaticHaving The Edge Owen Fitzpatrick is author, broadcaster and co-founder of the Irish Institute of NLP. He also happens to be the person who taught me NLP many, many years ago and has become a firm friend. I recently attended the book launch of Owens latest creation “ The Charismatic Edge “, and I had the chance last weekend to final read and learn from Owens latest observations. Owen tells me the aim of the book is to answer two fundamental questions namely, how can you become the best version of yourself, and how can you express yourself in an engaging and memorable way.

Owen makes the point that the vast majority of people are not living up to the best versions of themselves.  He suggests that most people do not come across as remotely interesting or engaging, instead their personalities are on life support. He adopts the view that in modern society we make loads of excuses to justify why we do not strive to be better versions of ourselves. He makes the point that the excuses we tell ourselves permit or justify a lack of effort to strive to get the very best results. He has observed that the most successful  people  make fewer excuses for themselves.

He suggests that many of us are afraid of contact and fearful of real deep interaction. We are terrified to make a fool of ourselves. We are petrified of what others think of us. This stifles us, traps us,  and limits us. Owen suggests that we must look deep within ourselves and become our authentic self.

The book offers practically exercises for the reader to undertaken with a strong focus on “the attitude factor “and Owen brings to our awareness that Attitude has a key part to play in becoming a charismatic leader.

The Charismatic philosophy that Owen talks about in this book is about looking at life and the world from the viewpoint that accepts your wonderfulness as a person and all the potential that exists inside you. Since you’re not what you do but everything you can become, it’s important to remember to concentrate on improving and developing your qualities to help you reach more and more of your potential.

One chapter in the book struck a core for me personally and that was Chapter 2 on the “Attitude Factor”. The author proposes that attitude has a huge impact on your success. Owen reminds us that our attitude determines how we handle what happens, and what you do as a result of what happens. It filters our world in such a way that it frames it in either a useful, or unhelpful way.

The book is a really great read and I love the honesty that Owens brings to the subject. A must read for any one he wants to have “The Edge”. Check out his website here.

Maurice Whelan

Is Anyone Moving Your Cheese?

WhoMovedMyCheeseI recently re-read Dr. Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese. It is a book about 4 characters  – Sniff and Scurry (two mice), and Hem and Haw (two little people).  The book explores how these characters confront and deal with the reality of change in their lives. The story is set in a maze.  This maze represents where you spend time, looking for what you want. It could be the community in which you live, the organisation in which you work or indeed your family or other personal relationships. Each character spends time in the maze looking for  ‘Cheese‘, a metaphor for the various things we want from life: a job, money, love, health, peace, contentment etc.

In Johnson’s story, the mice fair better than the little humans when it comes to change because they take nothing for granted and they keep things simple. The two little people tend to over-complicate the situation by over-analysis and emotionality. As you read through the story, you realise that each of the 4 characters represents a different part of us and you get an insight into the different approaches that one can take when faced with the inevitability and reality of change.

I really enjoyed re-reading this book and once again appreciated its disarming simplicity. Yet this simplicity masks some hard-hitting messages about change in our everyday lives.  As a professional coach, I encounter clients who want to change some aspect of their lives in order to increase their sense of fulfilment. Some clients, like Sniff and Scurry, will embrace change and be aware that it is coming. They prepare for its inevitability. Others like Hem and Haw, are resistant to change and are taken by surprise.

As a coach, it is important to recognise the character of each client and their particular perspective on change. Once this is understood, the client can be supported in their journey by helping them to recognise the best way to approach change and its unsettling effects.

A key learning for me is the importance of surrounding ourselves with quality, forward-thinking people who can give us an enlightened and proactive perspective on change.

If you have not yet read this book, I would highly recommend it.. You can buy it HERE. Remember that sometime, somewhere or somehow – Someone WILL move your Cheese!

Only 18% of employees trust their leaders!

Maurice Whelan, Managing Director of Unleash Potential examines the impact of this lack of trust on the customer experience

When it comes to Leadership in Contact Centres or indeed in business I have observed that people respond best and Leaders get the greatest buy in to their vision when they are their authentic selves.

In a recent survey carried out in the States only 18% of employees said that they trusted their Leaders. The conclusion from some observers of the Research was that Corporate America had chosen Charisma and Image above Character and Integrity.

So how do people react in organisations where there is no trust in the Leadership?

People will give you their heads, but they will never give you their hearts.

By heart I mean “Passion” for the business that is the life blood of an organisation, that “can do”,  “we are all in this together” attitude. Without trust people will give you their effort, but will never give you their discretionary effort, that extra, that defining moment in a Customer Experience that Frontline Teams can give, that turns a customer into an advocate. And they will give you their time, but not necessarily their “presence”.

So what are the Core Characteristics of an Authentic Leader?  Well I have coined the phrase “SALTE” ….. They need to possess and focus on SALTE.

  • SA = Self Awareness; you need to be self-aware, and be able to look objectively at your behaviour and its impact. To be able to admit that you do not have all the answers and to learn from and ensure that others learn from your mistakes in order to build a stronger business.
  • L= Listen; to actively listen to the concerns, challenges, and ideas that come from the team. There is nothing more demising to the human spirit they to feel that you have not been heard.
  • T = Trust; You need to capture the teams heart as well as their heads. The heart is that connection that we don’t talk about in business but is the most impactful. You may never remember exactly what a Leader you admire said to you in the past, but you will always remember how they made you feel.
  • E = Empower; to fully and truly empower someone unleashes not only their potential but also the potential for your business, it builds confidence, and confidence and execution build profits.

So the challenge for all of us in Leadership is to be “ SALTE “ and continue to be our unique and powerful selves for the benefit of those we lead and for our businesses.

This post was kindly contributed by Maurice Whelan, Managing Director of Unleash Potential.  Unleash Potential is a new and dynamic Irish Company which specialises in Executive Coaching. The company also provides services in Customer Experience Consultancy, Personal Development, Psychotherapy and Conference Speaking.

Please see CCMA Blog for original article:


Follow me on Twitter

Share This