The Bottom Line: Lonely at the Top?

by Ann Orton We were pleased to see Executive Coaching profiled in Evan Davis’ R4 programme The Bottom Line: Lonely at the Top? with Evan and his three guests:  two very senior clients Melanie Richards, vice-Chair KPMG, and Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT Group, along with a coach or self-described ‘trusted leadership advisor’, Jonathan Bowman […]

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Andy Rhodes: The Thinking Policeman

Alliance Leadership Profile by Liz Gooster

DCC Rhodes pictureYour people are your best asset’ is a phrase often quoted by leaders. But it would be hard to find a leader who puts this belief into action more wholeheartedly than Andy Rhodes, Deputy Chief Constable of Lancashire Constabulary. Thoughtful, people-focused, entrepreneurial and irreverent, Rhodes is not your typical policeman. He has spent 25 years in the force so far and has risen up the ranks quickly, being promoted to Superintendent early in his career and continuing to climb the ladder since then. (more…)

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Achieving Peak Performance


By Liz Gooster

Alliance partner Juan Coto has been working closely with tennis player Johanna Konta for over a year. As Johanna soars from one achievement to the next – as I write she has just beaten Zhang Shuai to win herself a place in the semi-finals of the Australian Open – in The Alliance we are reflecting on some of the factors that contribute to peak performance, in business as well as sport. While it might sound counter-inuitive, once you approach the top levels of any field, success is not mainly due to technical ability or expertise. In a Grand Slam match, it’s unlikely you will lose because you don’t know how to serve. If you’re hired as a lawyer from a top tier firm, you’re expected to know the law. These skills are a hygiene factor, the price of entry if you like – they’re a necessary but not sufficient condition for success. (more…)

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The Softer Side of Strategy Days

Feather1Spreadsheets. Forecasts. Targets. Mission statements. These are familiar items on the agenda of many a strategy day, whether for a small business, a global organisation, or even a sole trader. But beyond the strategic thinking and planning – which I’m not belittling, because done well, these can invigorate both people and balance sheets – there is another element that’s often not part of a strategy meeting. And that’s the personal, people stuff. (more…)

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Leadership Profile: Tony Cohen, Chair of Barnardo’s


Leading a national charity ‘is about doing the best you can with the resources you have. If you get it right, you can do even more.’ As Chair of Barnardo’s and a Trustee on the Boards of the Arvon Foundation and the RSA, Tony Cohen takes his responsibilities seriously. With its 150th anniversary approaching in 2016, Barnardo’s has a long history and is a cherished national brand. Its purpose is to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and today it is an organisation that helps 240,000 children, young people, parents and carers each year¹. That’s a lot of lives to touch. In addition the charity has 8,000 staff, 16,000 volunteers and over 600 retail outlets.


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Financial Times Guide to Business Coaching


Business coaching: what it is, why it works, how to do it, when to do it (and when not to). Plus, critically, how to make money doing it. One of the Financial Times Guide to Business Coaching’s biggest assets is it covers all this and more in a single, elegantly written volume. It is genuinely a one-stop shop for relatively new players in the coaching game, and the more experienced coaches I’ve spoken to have also gained much from reading it. At this point, in the interests of full disclosure, I should reveal that I published this book, that the author, Anne Scoular, MD of coach training company Meyler Campbell, has since become a generous mentor and friend, and that The Alliance are referenced several times as a case study. Which brings me on to one of the book’s other outstanding hallmarks: Anne’s voice. (more…)

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Time to Think – review of Nancy Kline’s book


Create a particular environment and people will think for themselves. It is that simple.’ This statement encapsulates the underlying precepts of Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environment, elaborated in her marvellous book, Time to Think: Listening to ignite the human mind, which has become a classic of non-directive coaching. I make no apologies for beginning this review by saying I love this book. Nancy Kline’s work has made a deep impression on me. I am in awe of the powerful effect that concentrated, empathetic listening – what Kline terms ‘listening to ignite the human mind’ – can have in releasing ideas and insights from the person being listened to. As Kline says, ‘the quality of a person’s attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking’. It sounds beautifully simple. (more…)

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Leadership Profile: Richard Wilson, CEO of BMO GAM (EMEA)

It has been quite a time for Richard Wilson, CEO of BMO Global Asset Management (EMEA), after the Bank of Montreal successfully acquired F&C for £708m at the beginning of 2014. As those familiar with the financial world will know, a deal like this can represent the end-point of a long period of uncertainty and tense conversations. For many, the prospect of protracted merger discussions, the highs and lows of conducting critical negotiations while trying to minimise the stresses experienced by clients, employees and stakeholders would have been off-putting. But for Wilson, it was what swung him to accept the position of CEO of F&C back in January 2013, what convinced him to make the shift from his long history as a high-flying fund manager to a high-stakes role as a true business leader. (more…)

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Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader – Herminia Ibarra

‘How can I know who I am until I see what I do?’

Karl Weick, social psychologist

The title of Herminia Ibarra’s new book captures its key message: if you step up and behave like a leader, you will start to think and feel as if you are one. Even if acting like a leader feels uncomfortable and inauthentic at first, in time it will become more natural, part of who you are, the leader you’ve become. In Ibarra’s framework, the acting comes first, the thinking follows. It’s the old adage ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ writ large, and it flips round the more traditional approach, that you need to reflect and cogitate extensively before making actual changes. (more…)

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Richard Foley, Senior Partner, Pinsent Masons

foley_richard TO USEElected to the position of Senior Partner in 2014 following a hotly contested election process, Richard Foley has ultimate responsibility for the leadership of City law firm Pinsent Masons for at least a four year term. It is a mantle Foley seems to have taken on gladly, and he is ‘loving it’ so far. His ‘can do’ attitude (except perhaps in his quest to learn to play the guitar, which he asserts is ‘almost impossible’!) and his relentless (and refreshing) enthusiasm should serve him well given the plans he has to drive change and innovation in a sector that is notoriously conservative and primed to anticipate problems and risk. (more…)

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