So, what are you doing to support your team through Covid-19? Right now this is a crucial question facing leaders the world over. Amidst the lack of clarity over the future, one thing is certain: leaders must take constant action to care for their teams, help them deliver value and thereby safeguard long-term business recovery. If you help them, your team will not only deal with the current situation but will also help you and the business to find the way forward. Because this is not just a question of surviving the present, it’s also about thriving in the future.

So how can we best help our teams? According to MIT’s Kristine Dery, leader of an on-going study into remote and distributed work at 280 firms, leaders need to move beyond the rapid decisions and acute task-focus of crisis mode and use “sustaining” leadership to help employees to re-balance, re-focus and start planning for the future. Put simply, it’s a move from “hardware to heartware”. We know this is not always easy, but here are some tips to help you support your team effectively along this difficult journey to a brighter future.

Six Steps to Sustaining Leadership

1. Expect ups and downs

Though lockdown is easing, and the move back to the office has begun, a glance at news headlines is a harsh reminder that we are still nowhere near business as usual. And though we are farther down the road, we still don’t know how long it is or where it is actually taking us. In this situation it is totally normal for us to cycle through different emotions such as shock, anger, denial, sadness and fear of the future. Team members may be also be dealing with grief at losing a family member. We all react differently, and though some team members may be more affected than others, sooner or later everyone will hit down days when they feel sad, restless or worried.

Keep a close lookout for how your team members are feeling and search for warning signs such as sudden changes in performance, or uncharacteristic behaviours like not answering messages, not contributing in meetings or sounding irritable or apathetic. Be ready to step in early to help. Often just being there to listen is enough. Other times you may need to ease or flex people’s workload or partner them with other team members to help motivate them.

2. Check in with, not check up on

Stop checking up on your team members and instead start regularly checking in with them on an individual basis. Task-focused micromanaging wastes time and hinders growth—take this opportunity to replace it with more useful one-on-one conversations. Personal dialogues build trust and allow leaders to better understand personal or business challenges or even generate ideas for the future. And that’s not all. According to another MIT survey of over 400 organizations to measure the effectiveness of company initiatives in response to Covid-19, regular one-on-one check-ins by managers to see how their employees were doing personally and professionally were the most effective step to battle isolation, scoring much higher than other initiatives such as virtual coffees, lunches and team happy hours.

Remember though that one size doesn’t fit all. While extroverts may be happy to share their feelings, introverts may not want to have such close conversations. Allow people space if they need it, but let them know your door is open—and that they are free to drop you a line when they like.

Ask team members: How are you doing? What’s one thing you‘re happy about? What’s weighing on your mind right now? What one thing can I do to help? The very act of listening shows your team that you care for and value them.

3. Enable your team—look out for obstacles!

Whether it’s dealing with home schooling, an uncomfortable chair or problems accessing company systems, there’s no doubt about it, office working has suddenly got way harder for everyone. Remote working has quickly shown up new problems, but even more importantly, it has also highlighted existing issues, such as slow decision-making, silos or hoarding information. Things that people were able to influence via informal corridor conversations have now become much harder to resolve. But as a leader your primary responsibility is to scan for and smooth out the obstacles or “speed bumps” that are preventing your team from getting their job done.

Show that you are there to help: Set clear priorities and leave the rest; delegate and avoid being a bottle-neck. Now is not the time for perfection. Hold short daily team meetings. What’s going well? What’s not going well? Tell me one thing I can do to help?

Allow the team to help each other by strengthening informal channels. For example, some companies set up Slack channels or WhatsApp groups, deliberately excluding the boss so that they can discuss things or ask each other for tips—all things that would normally happen at the coffee machine or over lunch.

4. Help your team avoid burn-out

And whether out of a sense of duty or a desire to be seen pulling their weight, many people are not doing just their best – they are actually overperforming. A study by NordVPN found that remote workers in Europe have been logged on for two more hours per day during the quarantine than they were before the lockdown. This is quite simply unsustainable. Overworking leads to careless mistakes, destroys creativity and will eventually damage productivity, and worse still, cause burn-out. Take proactive steps to end Permawork. Agree priorities with your team, allow flexibility and help them understand that they need to say No in order to balance their professional and personal lives.

Major organizations such as Google and Cisco recognize the real dangers of burn-out and have taken the unprecedented step of giving all employees extra days off. As Cisco Chief People Officer Francine Katsoudas said in her mail to all staff, “There are so many reasons not to take a day off— there are few places to go, people need us. Yet there is one reason to unplug: ourselves”. Make sure your team is aware of support services your company offers such as internal coaching or tele-counselling services.

5. Be positive and maintain team morale

While being honest and transparent in your communication, try to remain positive. Remind your team that you are still pursuing the same business vision and mission of serving customers and society—you are just taking a detour. Reinforce morale by recognizing new skills and learnings gained from the situation, celebrating achievements, and sharing positive feedback. Boost endorphins through humour or team events and have a “no politics” rule to avoid escalating discussion. Be extra careful to keep your team united as some members stay at home while others return.

Remember that little things can make a big difference. One of our clients has sent all employees a company mug, another sends Deliveroo vouchers every Friday, while another sends employees a basket of fruit every month. All small, relatively inexpensive actions that can transmit a real sense of belonging and being cared for. The message, as Arne Sorensen, CEO of Marriot hotels expressed so movingly to his staff, is that “together we can, and we will overcome this, and we will thrive again”.

6. Look after yourself as leader

Your first and foremost job as a leader is to take charge of your own energy and then help to orchestrate the energy of those around you”.
― Peter F. Drucker

No one expects leaders to show no emotion about the current situation. In fact the opposite is true—showing vulnerability is a sign of shared humanity and fosters connection. Bear in mind, however, that your teams are “watching” you to follow your emotional cue and see how confident you are about the future. If you find yourself “stuck”, then activities like Mindfulness, listening to music or any physical movement are good to help you transition to a more positive state. Avoid burn-out—model the positive behaviours you want to see! Make sure to sleep, get exercise and free up time for strategic thinking and contemplation. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. And remember you are not alone in this; talk to other leaders inside and outside your organization to share lessons learned or brainstorm solutions.

Take the opportunity

Finally, though these times pose an unprecedented challenge, they are also an opportunity for you to build trust and help your team grow. Supporting your people through adversity means better performance now, more loyalty in the future and better readiness for recovery. As Eric McNulty of Harvard’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative says, “The actions of executives and their teams now, in the midst of this crisis, will significantly determine their fate”. So, think about it: What will your team say when asked how their leader helped them during Covid-19?

Find out more about our leadership and coaching programmes.


reuniones virtuales virtual meetings conference calls

Working from home has become the order of the day for most of us in recent weeks as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. And that means more and more of us need to quickly learn how to lead and participate in video and telephone conferences. 

Meetings of any kind are a challenge at the best of times, but virtual meetings bring their own special difficulties. Even under the best circumstances, as soon as the first one or two attendees dial in, productivity can begin to suffer. A recent survey of 1000 UK/US workers found that up to 33 percent of a conference call is wasted with distractions and disruptions!

That old joke about meetings has never been truer: The best ones are with just two people…and the other guy couldn’t make it! But it doesn’t have to be like this! If you follow some basic meeting rules and take advantage of easy-to-use and inexpensive technology, you can make a success of your virtual meetings…even if the other guys are all present!

Five top Tips for Productive Virtual Meetings

1. Use video conferencing whenever possible

Communication is so much easier when people can see one another. Facial expressions and hand gestures play a crucial role in communicating what we want to say and how we feel. To recreate the feel of a face-to-face meeting and get the full benefit of video, ask everyone to sit close to their webcams so their faces are easily visible. Video conferencing is also a great way to build closer bonds among team members by making it possible to ‘put a face to a name’.

Platforms like ZOOM, GoToMeeting, Skype, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts are all easy to use…and some of them are even free!     And just in case not everyone has a fast enough Internet connection to support video, always offer an audio dial-in option.

2. Follow Best Practices for meetings

Inform everyone in advance of the meeting’s objective, agenda and any preparatory reading or thinking that is needed.

Limit the number of attendees and the duration of the meeting as far as possible. In our experience, five or six attendees is the maximum for discussion-type meetings in which everyone is expected to participate actively. Any more than this number can be difficult to manage—or increase the chances that quieter people will ‘get lost’ among more talkative participants. And limit your meeting to a maximum duration of 45 minutes. Virtual communication requires us to concentrate harder than normal and is very tiring. If you really need longer than this, be sure to take ‘bio-breaks’ to keep everyone fresh and engaged.                

3. Short and simple communication works best

If ‘Keeping it Short and Simple’ is good advice for face-to-face meetings, it’s even more important when the communication is virtual! Keep your interventions to the point. Say it once…say it clearly…and shut up! Always make sure you have finished speaking before the other attendees have finished listening! In virtual meetings this time may be shorter than you think. It’s also a good idea to speak a little more slowly than normal to make yourself easier to comprehend. And if you don’t understand what someone has said, don’t be shy: Ask for clarification (after all, you may not be the only one who didn’t understand what was said!).       

4. Actively manage the meeting

Virtual meetings are tough to control, so it’s vital that someone facilitates the discussion. The chairperson’s many responsibilities include: keeping the discussion on track; encouraging participants to get to the point; enforcing conversational turn-taking to prevent traffic jams and giving everyone an opportunity to speak (which may require diplomatically interrupting more long-winded and repetitive speakers).

All of which is a tall order indeed! One way of encouraging everyone to participate in a disciplined manner is to go round the virtual table periodically and invite everyone to give their opinions (briefly!). Avoid generically asking, ‘Any comments?’  Instead, call on people by name and in order (e.g., ‘Let’s hear from Carlos first, then Ana, then Antonio’).    

A great way to move discussions along is the ‘Just Three Words’ technique. This requires attendees to sum up their positions in three words. For example: 

Chair: ‘John, what do you think of the proposal?’

John: ‘Unnecessary, expensive, complicated’.

Chair: ‘Susan, what about you?

…and so on.

5. Keep participants engaged

According to an article by the Harvard Business Review, a whopping 65 percent of people are doing other work on conference calls, while another 55% are eating, 25% are playing video games and 21% are shopping online. So is the battle totally lost? Not if you keep your videoconferences focused, sharp and interactive!

Give your voice energy! There’s nothing like a monologue delivered in a monotone to get people sneaking off to check their What’s App in-box. Use lively intonation and good volume to transmit energy and enthusiasm.

Visuals will help people concentrate on the message, so they’re less likely to be distracted by email or other things going on around them. Always use screen sharing to present detailed information via charts, infographics, etc. so that everyone can follow the discussion and be ‘on the same page’.

Collect feedback on specific topics in real-time with survey tools like Poll Everywhere. This phone-based tool works independently of the conferencing platform and allows participants to deliver their feedback without interrupting the flow of the virtual meeting. Platforms like Webex and Adobe Connect also include functions that allow attendees to give immediate responses via virtual hand-raising and thumbs-ups and thumbs-downs. All useful functions to engage your virtual audience, especially with larger group meetings.    

Be a great meeting host!

Meetings are events, like a dinner party. When you lead a virtual meeting, you are the host of the event and you need to look after your guests by ensuring that it is facilitated in an efficient and productive manner.

And let’s face it, meeting virtually is the only option open to many of us during these difficult days. But the reality is that once things get back to normal, virtual meetings will continue to be the communication tool of choice in a post-Covid 19 world of budget cuts and travel restrictions. So if you and your team can strengthen your virtual communication skills, it will pay dividends for you now and in the future.    

If you’d like to get up to speed on leading remote teams, check out our leadership course offerings.

remote teams

Remote teams are nothing new. Although globalization has popularized the concept, some argue that remote teams started with the expansion of the Roman Empire. What’s different right now is that the Covid-19 crisis has catapulted thousands of organizations into working from home literally overnight. And while some multinational organizations have the experience and tools in place to quickly adapt, for many other companies the move from traditional office to home office is a dramatic change.

While there’s no doubt that we are living in turbulent times, with each day bringing fresh challenges, the good news is that remote teams can be extremely successful. In fact, research by MIT shows that remote teams can actually outperform teams operating in the same location! Our experts have set out 10 essential Best Practices to help you and your organization meet the challenges of leading remote teams and maintain business momentum in the current environment.

1. Clarify and adapt goals

First and foremost, an event as disruptive as the Covid-19 pandemic could radically change business goals and priorities. As with any change, some doors will close and others will open. What do you need to prioritize? Are there any opportunities here? Maybe this is the time to focus on urgent short-term goals like guaranteeing the supply chain and making processes more agile. Or perhaps it’s the time to work towards long-term initiatives such as product development or taking services on-line. Put simply, what do you need to STOP doing, do LESS or MORE, or START doing?

2. Clarify changes in role or activities

Now bearing in mind your new priorities, what skills do you have on your team? Who is best suited to do what? Involve the whole team in this discussion—you may well discover hidden strengths and abilities in these new circumstances. Do you need different ways of doing tasks in this new scenario? What tools do you have or need? Who can help you?

3. Agree your Team Charter

What are your goals, values and rules as a team? A framework of agreed rules will boost effectiveness and prevent conflict. Examples of teamworking rules include: What are our working hours?; What are our agreed response times?; How will we communicate?; How often will we meet?; etc. Get to know everyone in the team. What work environments do they currently have? Bear in mind that under lockdown, many workers may be sharing resources such as computers with other family members. Others will be constrained by having small children at home, which will inevitably bring interruptions. Flexibility, empathy and a sense of humour are key attributes right now.

4. Trust your Team 

More good news! Remote team working is a drastic cure for micromanaging, an outdated management practice which at best can generate dependence and at worst demotivation. For leaders used to sharing an office with their teams, suddenly not seeing their team can be one of the biggest challenges. But if you equip your team in the right ways, clarify tasks and objectives, and check in with them at regular intervals, people will come up with the goods. Now is a good time to take on board Ernest Hemingway’s advice: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them”.  

5. Monitor progress

While larger companies will have intranets and customized internal tools for sharing information and tracking progress, there are also plenty of easy and effective cloud-based tools available for smaller companies. Examples include Slack, Trello, Workboard, Google Drive and Hub Planner. Look here for even more ideas.

6. Boost Communication – Schedule regular meetings

When it comes to virtual team success, effective communication is the number one deal maker or breaker.  We are social beings. So while remote working can sometimes boost concentration and productivity, team members—particularly extroverts—can feel lonely and disengaged. Without daily face-to-face exchanges, your team must make an extra effort to communicate effectively. 

Fix regular weekly or twice-weekly virtual team meetings; it’s much easier to cancel an unneeded meeting than to organize one at the last minute. If you don’t deliberately make space for this, you run the danger of the team losing sight of what others are doing and ultimately drifting apart.

7. Limit e-mail

While e-mail can be a convenient tool for transferring relatively straightforward information or making simple requests, it often lacks impact and can result in misunderstandings. Team-members swamped with hundreds of e-mails and corporate What’sApps are much more likely to pay attention to your request or engage in meaningful debate if you ring them. Follow up important issues with a brief written reminder of what was agreed.

8. Put a face to a name!

Use video conferencing tools such as Face Time, Skype, Google Hangout and Zoom whenever possible. These visual communication tools harness the power of body language and voice; they allow team members to read one another’s emotions and build closer bonds. According to research by Zoom, 82% of users said they felt greater trust with video, leading to more accountability and less multitasking. Video can also improve decision making by allowing people to discuss ideas in depth.

9. Keep meetings short and meaningful

Most meetings are way too long, leading to distraction and disengagement. Silicon Valley giants Google, Apple and Amazon limit many meetings to just 15 minutes to encourage participants to get to the point. Less is more! The Agile/Scrum approach of daily meetings works well for monitoring on-going operations. Ask questions like: What are your top three tasks right now?; What is going well?; What are you having difficulty with?; How can I help you? If you really need a longer meeting, limit it to 45 minutes. Teleconferences (without video) can be particularly tiring, so be sure to use your voice to transmit energy and enthusiasm! 

10. Boost Team spirit and Morale

Lastly, even at the best of times remote working isn’t a bed of roses. According to a recent survey of 3500 remote workers, 20% of respondents said their biggest struggle was feeling lonely, another 20% struggle to communicate/collaborate, and 12% get distracted at home (a figure likely to soar for workers confined with their families).

Right now, it’s vital to look after individual and team morale. People are concerned about what the future will bring. Make sure your team knows you are there to listen if they need you. Acknowledge these feelings while trying to avoiding dwelling on the negative. Build positivity by focusing on what is possible. Look for what you can do and celebrate successes.

And try these additional ideas to build and maintain team spirit:

-Create team bonds: Get people to work on joint projects whenever possible.

-Create the virtual coffee machine: Set aside time at meetings for personal updates to build camaraderie. Try virtual coffees and lunches.

-Have fun as a team: Celebrate birthdays; start an on-line notice board; use Slack or HipChat with photos, jokes or challenges; play on-line games or do virtual works-outs together via YouTube. If you use your imagination the list is endless, the idea is just to have a little fun together!

Finally, despite the current difficulties, we live and learn from every situation. With patience, positivity and a little help from our best practices, we truly believe you and your team will emerge stronger, closer and better equipped to face future challenges!

If you’d like to get up to speed on leading remote teams, check out our leadership course offerings.


I’m on my way to a client meeting. After inching through traffic and driving around and around looking for a parking space, I’m now walking towards her office. I take out my mobile, glance at the screen and put it back in my pocket. But…what time is it? I get my mobile out again, read a Whatsapp that I’ve just received, and put it back.  Hang on, what time was it? I check my phone yet again and see that I’ve got ten minutes spare.

I start going over my notes from our last meeting, but suddenly remember I was supposed to call the painter. While dialing I fumble in my pocket for a coin for the vending machine. With the rush this morning I didn’t have time for breakfast and my stomach is grumbling. Phone jammed against my shoulder, I stir my coffee and push the button for some biscuits which promptly get stuck. I give the machine a hard nudge to make the biscuits fall, but only manage to spill my coffee, drop the phone and crack the screen. What a disaster!

Stress affects our work, family and health

Home at last, worn out from an exhausting day, I’m longing to relax. But not a chance! My 8 year-old son comes crying because he’s just fallen, and his 10 year-old brother wants me to help him revise for an exam tomorrow. Meanwhile, my wife grabs her bag and announces that she’s on her way out to dinner with some friends (“I told you. Don’t you remember?”). My stomach is starting to churn,  my head is starting to throb and I think out loud, “What did I do to deserve this?”

Sound familiar? Lack of concentration; failed multitasking; unexpected situations that overwhelm you… It happens to all of us.  It all adds up to stress that over time can seriously affect our physical and mental wellbeing.

Retrain your brain

Faced with the challenges that every day brings, our thought patterns are often unhelpful. According to an article from the US National Science Foundation, 80% of our daily thoughts are negative, and 95% are repetitive and identical to those of the previous day. And in the words of Mahatma Gandhi:“A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes”.

So, what can we do? Retrain our brains of course! As Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Nobel prize winner for Medicine, once said: “If we try, we can all can become sculptors of our brains”. Neuroplasticity is the term neurologists use for the capacity our brain has to evolve if we train and stimulate it in certain manner.

So how can I retrain my brain? A simple and effective way  to do this is via the practice of Mindfulness or full attention. Mindfulness is a type of body and mind training that helps reduce stress, boost concentration, and improve our wellbeing. It’s all about focusing our attention in a non-judgmental way on the present moment. Our goal is to calmly decide on the correct course of action and avoid getting carried away by automatic responses.

Address your daily challenges more effectively with Mindfulness

Mindfulness can help us work more effectively on our daily challenges—whatever they may be.  It helps us to regulate our emotions, get things in perspective and take better decision, for instance. Like a ‘steroid’ for the mind, mindfulness allows  us to find the best versions of ourselves and boost our performance. Incredibly, as outlined in the Harvard Business Review, researchers from the University of British Columbia showed that Mindfulness can literally change our brains and even increase the density of our grey matter.

From Ronaldo, Federer and Madonna to Elon Musk and LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner, many sports stars, artists and entrepreneurs have incorporated Mindfulness and meditation techniques into their daily routines. As Bill Gates says, “I now see that meditation is simply exercise for the mind, similar to the way we exercise our muscles when we play sports. It’s about taking a few minutes out of my day, learning how to pay attention to the thoughts in my head, and gaining a little bit of distance from them”.

Mindfulness in the workplace

But how can I do this in the office (which is where I most need it!)? Easy!

Although Mindfulness is “a recent science”, it is based on age-old techniques of meditation. You don’t need to shut yourself away in a monastery to practise it, however! Simple meditation or full attention exercises are all you need to do to enjoy the benefits of Mindfulness.

In recent years, firms such as Google, SAP, Apple, Bosch, Goldman Sachs—even the Bank of England and the US military—have been using Mindfulness to improve work performance, as described in this report by the Boston Consulting Group. Likewise, 64% of 102 firms certified as Top Employers in Spain have already launched Mindfulness programmes.

Practise Mindfulness with the STOP Exercise

If you want to practise a simple Mindfulness technique that you can do anywhere, try the STOP Exercise. You only need a couple of minutes to do it – just find a quiet place and follow these steps:

S: Stop.

T: Take some deep breaths: Breathe in; Breathe out.

O: Observe yourself. How do you feel? What emotion are you feeling? What thoughts come to your mind? How does your body feel?

P: Proceed. Continue doing what you were doing before performing this consciousness exercise.

You’ll see that investing just two minutes of your time in this way will make you feel calmer and better able to choose the appropriate response to the situation you are facing. Practised regularly, Mindfulness can strengthen our capacity to adapt to change and learn new things. It makes our minds more agile and helps us find answers within ourselves. Vaccinate yourself against stress with Mindfulness!

Finally, we can’t solve all your problems, but we can promise that an introductory session of Mindfulness in the workplace will set you on the right path to finding solutions that work for you!



dar y recibir feedback, give and receive feedback

I saw her coming from the back of the room. She had looked disengaged throughout my presentation. Try as I might to stir up the audience, a disquieting air of Sunday sermon had slowly but surely crept over my talk on diversity. And now my boss was making a beeline in my direction.

“Can I give you some feedback?” she said when she reached me.

“Hell no!” I thought. “Of course you can” I replied brightly, bracing myself. Maybe she could enlighten me as to how and when I had lost my initially enthusiastic audience. It sure as hell wasn’t going to be a fun conversation.

I am not alone in welcoming feedback about as much as a visit to the dentist. Receiving “constructive” feedback is something most of us struggle with.

And yet, leadership experts and successful business people the world over seem to unite around the words of Daniel Goleman, best-selling author of “Emotional Intelligence”, who famously asserted that “feedback is the breakfast of champions”. But what do the real champions have to say about that?

Feedback, key ingredient to success for word-class athletes

Acclaimed tennis champion Rafael Nadal, who boasts no fewer than 19 Grand Slam victories, still seeks constant feedback. Says Nadal: “It’s important to have people around you with enough confidence to say if you are acting in a good way. Normally, when you are at the top, people say everything is fantastic. Probably in that moment it is what you want to hear, but it’s best to be reminded how to act properly.”

Similarly, world number 1 tennis champ Selena Williams surrounds herself with a team to help her in all aspects of her game: “I tell my coach and my image team, don’t tell me what I’m doing right. I want to hear what I’m doing wrong so I can improve and become better”.

The world famous All Blacks rugby team also embraces frank feedback as a key ingredient to success. Win or lose, following each match, every player watches the recording  of their individual performance before a team review to discuss performance. Following their shock defeat to England in the 2019 World Cup, coach Steve Hansen said, “I don’t think you gain anything by not looking at it (failure) closely. You might think you’ll feel better, but you really don’t. The only way to move on is to be clear in your mind what the solutions are. That’s a mindset we’ve always had as an All Black group”.

“Aha!” I hear you say. “So feedback for breakfast = victory. And back in the world of business, I can tell it like it is to my colleagues. And of course, the more we need to learn, the more we welcome feedback, right?” Well no actually!

What type of feedback works best?

However, according to a study by the Journal of Consumer Research, “Tell Me What I did Wrong: Experts Seek and Respond to Negative Feedback”, we need to be careful about what breakfast we are dishing up to whom. The study reveals that how people react to feedback depends on their level of knowledge and experience. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people just starting out, or with less knowledge, are more likely to prefer positive comments. For this group, positive feedback is an important tool to build confidence and reinforce the desired behavior. Sometimes constructive feedback can trigger defensiveness and excuses rather than reflection and progress. Take a look at Nadal and Federer talking with Fabio Fognini in the 2019 Laver Cup.

On the other hand, people who are experts on a subject tend to be more open to hearing negative feedback and advice. Just compare Roger Federer taking on board the advice of friend and rival Nadal to snatch victory during the same tournament. For experienced veterans, negative feedback is important to advance and move their skills to the next level. As Nadal says: “Even if I have already peaked, I have to believe I can improve. I wake up every day and go to practise with the belief that I’m going to get better that day.”

So champions present and future should welcome feedback, but how should we dish it up?

The truth is that while positive feedback can motivate people to continue to do what they are doing well and gain confidence, negative feedback delivered in the right way and with the right people can generate powerful change. We’re talking different strokes for different folks—bacon and eggs and waffles for some, just a quick coffee for others.

Apart from balancing praise and criticism, we need to deliver our feedback with care—particularly when it’s negative. And while receiving feedback doesn’t always feel great (sometimes triggering the brain’s defense mechanisms), giving it doesn’t always feel much better.

Quick Feedback model

So to help you successfully serve your feedback, here’s a simple four-part formula recommended by LeeAnn Renninger, TED speaker, social psychologist and author

  1. Obtain the ‘micro-yes’: Begin by asking the other person for permission to give them some feedback. For example: “Do you have five minutes to talk about how that last meeting went?”
  2. Give your data point: Describe specifically what you saw or heard, avoiding any language that is not objective. For example: Instead of saying, “You need to be more reliable”, say, “You said you’d deliver the report by 12 and I still don’t have it yet”.
  3. Show impact: Explain exactly how your data point impacted you. For example: “Because I didn’t get the report on time, I couldn’t move forward with my work”.
  4. End on a question: Excellent givers of feedback end with a question to involve the other person. For example: “This is how I see it. What do you think?” Or “ I think one way around this could be X or Y. What do you think?” Renninger believes that finishing with a question like this helps build commitment rather than simple compliance.

Practise giving feedback

Finally, whether you’re a budding world champion or you make the best coffee in the office, it’s clear we can all benefit from effective feedback to be more successful. So, start putting these tips into practice and you’ll soon start to feel more comfortable and see the results. Bon appetit!

And as for the feedback from my boss? Well I learned from my boss that I need to use a little more intonation and smile a bit more to keep my audience engaged. Actually pretty useful tips for next time around!

If you’d like to learn more on giving and receiving feedback with the help of our expert coaches, then sign up for our new Skills Pill SMART objectives & Giving feedback.



líder, leadership, team , decisions, líder, equipo, decisiones

On 13 January 1982 Air Florida Flight 90 from Washington D.C. to Fort Lauderdale crashed into the Potomac river, killing 74 people.  As often occurs in airplane crashes, human error played a major part in this avoidable disaster.  In this case, it was down to poor communication between Captain Larry Wheaton and his First Officer Roger Pettit.

Crash investigators listening to the cockpit conversations between Wheaton and Pettit heard the following final exchange:

First Officer Pettit          God, look at that thing. That doesn’t seem right, does it? Uh, that’s not right.

Captain Wheaton           Yes it is…

First Officer Pettit          No, I don’t think that’s right. Ah, maybe it is.

And moments later:

First Officer Pettit          Larry, we’re going down Larry.

Captain Wheaton           I know it.

So what went wrong?

What exactly happened in the cockpit of Flight 90 that day? First Officer Pettit clearly saw something on an instrument that didn’t look right to him, but quickly deferred to the greater experience of his captain. Unfortunately, he was right and his captain was wrong – a classic example of how members of teams often ‘follow the leader’. And how leaders often fail to see how their perceived status and expertise can influence those around them.

Research indicates that ‘follow the leader’ is not confined to air travel. It frequently occurs in hospitals, where nurses often defer to the instructions of senior doctors, even when all their experience and knowledge tells them that the doctor can’t be right. And, of course, it happens in offices with managers and their team members.

Good leaders know when to keep quiet

Managers need to be aware that team members often stay silent and follow their leaders. Good leaders know that an important part of their job is asking for and listening to the opinions of others . They need to create an environment where people feel comfortable giving their points of view. In offices where managers do not receive or listen to this input, poor decisions and avoidable errors quickly multiply. Two pairs of eyes are always likely to see more than a single pair.

Great leaders have never been afraid to surround themselves with the best and brightest talent available – or with people who may disagree with them. Managers, then, should not see collaborative leadership as a threat to their authority, but rather as the mark of a competent and confident leader. And it also happens to be the best way of getting most decisions right!

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Every evening the owner of the restaurant asked me and the rest of the regulars: ‘How was your meal?’ And despite the slow service, cold food and mistaken orders, every evening we lied and replied: ‘Very good, thank you.’ When the restaurant went out of business at the end of the year, the owner was mystified. ‘I just can’t understand it!’ he exclaimed.”Whenever I asked you and the rest of the regulars for feedback, you all always said, ‘It’s great, thank you.’

Sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind and tell people what you really think. After all, it’s hard to get better at anything if no one tells you where you are going wrong. But most of us don’t enjoy receiving feedback, unless it’s entirely positive! Participants on our courses, for example, are always invited to give us their comments. Although the positive comments far outnumber the negative, it’s the less favourable ones that stick in the mind and help us improve! Without these, we’d never know what people really think and would run the risk of going out of business just like my mystified restaurant owner.

Feedback is a gift

And feedback, of course, doesn’t always need to be solicited. It’s quite alright to offer friends and colleagues unsolicited feedback, as long as the reason for it is a genuine desire to help the other improve. Just remember to follow these rules:

  1. Be immediate: The best time to give feedback is as soon as possible after the event.
  1. Be direct, but not rude: Tell people clearly what you think –this is not rude, it’s honest.
  1. Focus on something fixable: Don’t ask the impossible (No pidas peras al olmo).
  1. Offer specific suggestions: Make sure the other person knows exactly what they can do to improve.

So, the next time I see someone in need of some honest feedback, I’m going for it. Be cruel to be kind! I don’t want to be responsible for closing any more restaurants!

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, then why not sign up for our new Skills Pills workshop: SMART Objectives and Giving Feedback ?