Here’s my approach to New Year reflection and planning ahead.

Screen Shot 2014-01-06 at 10.20.571. Reflect on the past year

I tracked back and looked at my personal achievements (not business) in 2013. This was enlightening, as I’d forgotten most of it or dismissed some of it as irrelevant. It also allowed me to identify what I hadn’t done and think about why. Doing this made me feel powerful and put me in a good frame of mind for thinking about 2014. This was really important for me, as I’m very future focussed, which is OK as long as you learn from the past!

2. Think Strategically

Whatever your goals or resolutions are, it’s important to align them to who you are (your values) and where you want to be (your dreams). For example, if you want to have a better work life balance, ask yourself why this is important to you and what you will get out of it. It might be because you want to be a better role model for your children and that you want to avoid getting ill again. The intention and driver will be different for everyone, even if the goal is the same. Make sure you pin point why you want this goal and what your outcome will be.

3. Be Operational

It’s no good having a great goal like have a better work life balance if you don’t have a plan for how to get there and how you will measure it. Being operational means being incremental, so plan out what your steps are and what your success will be along the way. Think about how you will measure your improvement and what the milestones are. Consider sharing your goal with someone you trust so you can share your progress and get feedback. By involving others you boost your commitment to the goal.

4. Plan for Obstacles 

Life, other people and your feelings will get in the way but if you anticipate what these might be, you stand a better chance of avoiding them. Be realistic and honest about what these could be and plan for them. Staying focused on your main purpose for doing this will help you navigate the difficult times.


I don’t find it helps just making a giant list for the year ahead. It can make you feel tired and inadequate. That is why it’s important to think strategically and pick perhaps 3 main items. There may well be many actions under each item, but at least they are grouped together under one area and it is clear why you are working on this.

Feeling powerful and under control are really important for your well being, so deciding what you want to achieve in 2014 is a healthy start to the new year. Call or email me if you want to talk over your goals for 2014.

Why are ineffectual teams so common?

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 09.51.29

I hear clients talk about their poorly performing teams and the stress this causes frequently. People assume that as adults, teamwork should come naturally, especially in the health service where everyone has the same goal. However, finding a role in your team, contributing positively and leading democratically do not come easily. More typically, the group dynamics are poor, there is conflict around decision-making, low levels of trust or the leadership is weak. This affects everything and it’s really difficult to move the team to a better position.

It can be more straightforward in clinical teams where there is a hierarchy and focus that enable people to understand the shared purpose. However put Doctors into managerial teams, research teams, projects teams, educational teams, peers groups etc, then the dynamics can be very different, much harder to navigate and can be constantly shifting.

I think the reason that ineffectual teams are so common is because people assume teams can take care of themselves or it’s someone else’s responsibility. They can’t and it isn’t. It takes planning and action by all to make them work well.  Here are some tips to think about if you are considering starting a new team or reflecting on a poorly functioning team.

Starting a new team:

  1. Be clear about the purpose of the team and what its’ objectives are.
  2. Be clear about the roles that you expect people to play in the team.
  3. Be clear about your shared values for being a part of this team.
  4. Be clear about how you will work, meet and get things done.

Remember, managing peoples’ expectations is crucial to getting off on the right foot. This is all common sense, but don’t take it for granted. Make sure you don’t make assumptions about other peoples’ motivations or willingness to contribute. Remember that all groups typically will travel through Tuckman’s stages of:

Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing

Developing an existing team:

  1. Draw a map of the team to get a birds-eye view of all the members and their positions. What does this tell you?
  2. In order to build trust, practice empathising with other members and get to know them a bit better.
  3. Accept that conflict is a part of any team and develop a strategy to manage the conflict safely.
  4. Acknowledge that everyone has an equal role to play and should be heard.

Remember, poorly functioning teams are usually driven by negative behaviour and behaviour is driven by feelings. Observe what emotions appear to be present, and why. Consider your own feelings and perhaps talk to other members about theirs. If you are able to pinpoint what emotions are contaminating your team, you stand a better chance of identifying the problem and doing something about it.

It’s uncomfortable to face these challenges, especially if no one else seems to want to take it on. But if you really want to be part of a better team, then someone has to make a start.

Team building does not happen on away days, it happens every day at work.


You may find a recent article in ‘Advances in psychiatric treatment’ – Teamwork: the art of being a leader and team player useful.

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Three NEW coaching programmes

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 12.21.09There are 3 common themes that many of my clients, Doctors, wish to focus on. Whilst the individual contexts are always different, I’ve decided to launch this brand new set of 3 coaching programmes that have been designed for people who want to target their learning on one of these subjects:

1. Managing Conflict      2. Managing Time      3. Effective Communications

A coaching programme on one of these themes will give you the opportunity to review, assess and improve your competency in these areas. Together we will identify your goal, assess your preferences and working styles, and use your professional situation to design new tactics and test them out.

Each Programme includes:

  • 1 x test and feedback session (e.g. TKI, MBTI or EI)
  • 3 x one-to-one coaching sessions lasting approx 90minutes
  • Post coaching session summary to aid your reflection
  • Programme learning resources

Each programme costs £350. To find out more about each programme, download the NEW programmes 2013 brochure here.

Call 0754 0593476 or email me on and book your FREE initial consultation.

Fully recharged? Or are you running on empty already?

Time is a finite resource. It’s an issue that almost always comes into sessions with my clients. None of us feel like we have enough of it and at the beginning of a New Year, we feel the passage of time more keenly. How we spend this valuable resource and how effective and efficient we are at it, is a common concern.

One-way of repositioning our relationship with time is to think about how energized we are when we are spending time. We cannot change how much time we have, but we can control how much energy we have.

…greater capacity makes it possible to get more done in less time at a higher level of engagement and with more sustainability.” Tony Schwartz.

Schwartz at The Energy Project describes a model of four energy dimensions that should be invested in:

  • Physical Energy – sleep, exercise, diet and taking breaks.
  • Emotional Energy – defuse negative emotions, fuel positive emotions, and review upsetting situations.
  • Mental Energy – reduce interruptions to important thinking tasks, stay goal focussed and switch jobs at healthy intervals.
  • Spiritual Energy – identify those task that give you more energy, allocate more time to those tasks that are really important to you and live by your core values.

For some of my Doctors they are aware of Physical Energy but less aware of their need to invest in Emotional Energy. It’s useful to reflect upon how you invest in these four areas as you may discover that only a couple of your ‘batteries’ are fully charged.

OK, so this is not going to ‘buy’ you more time, but it might help you feel more satisfied with how you spend the time you do have and give you some ideas about where you need to invest in yourself at this moment in time.


Click here to access Tony Schwartz’s Harvard Business Review paper.

You can take an online test to check out your relationship to these four energy dimensions by clicking here.

Click here to see 5 Top Tips for managing your energy not your time.

Call me on 0754 0593476 to talk over your relationship with time.

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When was the last time you thought about what you want to achieve, for you?

When I first meet clients one of the first things we start to discuss is what they want to achieve. Some Doctors are quite clear about their goals; a job opportunity, a project to lead, or improvements to their GP practice for example. Others need more time to define the development they want to make through communication style or understanding the group dynamics in their team.

Either way, goal setting is crucial. It’ s hard because goals are often set for us with clinical / management targets or career progression tasks. Actually setting personal professional goals is much harder. The distractions of daily life and professional pressures can really get in the way.

That is why I think it is so important to spend time exploring, testing and defining goals. And it’s OK if they evolve because coaching gives you the opportunity to reflect and evaluate regularly. Sometimes this means adjusting your goal as your thinking depends and your experience broadens.

Last week a client said to me “Am I still on track? I feel I’m constantly distracted by the issues that occur in the here and now.” Because this client has a clear and specific goal, I could say, “Yes.” If you know what you are heading towards and you have a plan to follow, then the here and now can be harnessed to help you. By having a clear vision of your future and using your immediate reality as a stepping-stone, you can link now with the future.

To live is to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to get there.

Kolfi Annan

I’m really enjoying watching the Olympics. It is inspiring to watch people reaching towards their goals and fulfilling their potential. Heartbreaking for them when they don’t, and fabulous to see the joy when they do. But what has really struck me over the last few days is how clear-cut it appears. You win, you lose. You get a medal, you don’t. I envy this with sporting performance. There is seemingly less grey area and it is obvious what you are aiming for so; all the hard work is directed at one point.

My clients are all Doctors and I think they know what this kind of hard work over many years feels like. They know what the step by step achievements mean, the sacrifices it takes and how it moves them that little bit closer to their goal of becoming a GP Partner or Consultant. It seems like an Olympic effort.

But after the Olympics are over, or you have got that Partner / Consultant post? What next, how do you take stock, redefine where next and what to do? How can you continue to develop your performance, judgement and practice for rest of your professional life and what do you aim for?

I believe coaching helps you identify, plan for and sustain your personal best.

There was a moment in sports when employing a coach was unimaginable—and then came a time when not doing so was unimaginable. We care about results in sports, and if we care half as much about results in schools and in hospitals we may reach the same conclusion.”

Atul Gwande (Endocrine Surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts)

For full article in the New Yorker Click Here


I often have Doctors say “It’s nice to talk about myself”. I see that as a healthy and productive use of time.

What can be really difficult about this though, is not the desire, but making the time.

Making time for coaching can seem like a huge and daunting commitment. It can also feel self- indulgent and a bit of a luxury which can be challenging for people that have been trained and educated to put others first.

What I see happening when working with Doctors is the realisation that by investing in yourself, you can reinvest back into the healthcare environment. Rather than being a victim of the system, swept along by the current and overwhelming volume of work, people can become more a-tunned to how they can cope with improved resilience and a greater sense of control.

The quote below struck me when I read it recently. All the Doctors I coach have goals and aspirations associated with the non-clinical parts of their work. They typically want to focus on task/time management, leading a new project, developing their skills with colleagues/group dynamics and improving their personal performance. Talking with friends, colleagues and family members can help. But only with a skilled coach can you really focus your thinking, outcomes and plan a course of action.

Studies comparing superb leaders with mediocre ones have found that the competences that distinguish the best from the worst in human services have little or nothing to do with medical knowledge or technical skill, and everything to do with social and emotional intelligence. Of course medical knowledge matters for health care leaders – but it’s a given, a threshold competence that every health professional must have. What distinguishes leaders in medicine gets far beyond that knowledge, into interpersonal skills like empathy, conflict resolution and people development.”

Daniel Goleman – Social Intelligence, 2007.

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