Nils Leonard / The Courageous Leaders Club Podcast. Released 2022.
Nils Leonard / The Courageous Leaders Club Podcast.

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Business Leadership Self Development

The Underestimated Superpower You Need in Your Leadership

The Underestimated Superpower You Need in Your Leadership

Type ‘what is good leadership’ into Google and you’ll be met with about 36,300,000 results.

Your screen will fill with lots of articles telling you that you need to display qualities such as being assertive, self-assured, logical, and confident to take risks. You will read all about how good leaders have grit, resilience and are mentally tough.

You will probably see mentions of empathy and other traits that have traditionally been seen as softer skills, but there will be very little focussing on them, or more specifically, on the importance of kindness.

Of course, I’m not saying that the things listed above are not important, but for far too long, understanding the power of kindness and other ‘soft’ skills, such as being nice and caring in business and in leadership has been underestimated, and worse, it has come with negative connotations such as being weak, ineffective, or naive.

It’s time to change the narrative, because I know from experience that being a good leader and a nice person are not incompatible. I am confident that it is not only possible, but essential for us to work in a demanding industry, lead with authority and be able to do so with kindness. 

The future of leadership is already starting to see the ‘softer’ skills as the ones of power, and we must adapt with this and recognise the benefits of both.

Going forward, a good leader will need to combine the two, where traits like compassion, empathy and kindness play a much more pivotal role.

So, what does this look like in practice?

If we take the dictionary definition, kindness is ‘the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate’, not hard to argue that these are all qualities of a good leader.

Being friendly can be as simple as operating with a meaningful smile, showing you enjoy what you do and who you are doing it with. The saying ‘smiling is infectious’ is not wrong and leading with that kind of warmth will build trust and make people feel safe.

Being considerate may take a little more thought than a simple smile but can still be relatively easily achieved. As leaders’ part of our job will inevitably involve things like giving feedback, having difficult conversations, and managing change. These elements of our role can be tough, but when we stop to be considerate of the individual, and how these things might feel on the receiving end, then we can approach them through a lens of kindness, and in the process, we can build trust.

Finally, let’s take the aspect of generosity in kindness. Being generous as a leader is a little more multifaceted than the first two, but there are three main approaches that I want to talk about here.

1. Being generous with your time

As a leader you need to take time to actively listen so that your team feel heard and you need to invest time to understand where people are coming from, so that they feel safe and cared about. When you do this, they will trust that you have their best interests at heart, and this will show in their productivity and results.

However, I know this is not easy, because if I asked any leader what they wish they had more of, I bet time would be right up there!

Key to getting this right is understanding the impact and value of your time and knowing that to be generous with it, you also need to protect and be precious with it.

Fundamental to achieving this is learning to relinquish control and delegate, which leads me to my next point on where you need to be generous – with your trust.

If you’d like to hear more insights around how to be generous with your time, please tune into my podcast, where I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Sergio Lopez, EVP. Global Head of Production at Publicis Groupe on my podcast, who shared some incredible wisdom on his experience of doing this.

2. Being generous with your trust

To get the best out of others, you must be able to confidently delegate, and in doing so empower your team to learn and give things a go in their own way. Whether you are training your graduate trainees to be an Account Manager, or you are onboarding a new team member, you need to be generous in your trust with them.

Trusting your team will empower them to shine, so long as it is underpinned that you will be their safety net if things go wrong.

When people feel trusted to do a job well, and have trust that you will support them and have their back when mistakes happen, they will give their all, and feel safe to ask for help – and that really is the golden key in leadership.

3. Being generous when building relationships

It is easy to fall into the trap of seeing building relationships and networking as a means to an end, and so when you don’t see immediate results from it, you can get frustrated and give up. 

However, when you approach doing this generously, and without any expectation that anything is going to come from it, or hoping for something in return, then it becomes so much more meaningful and rewarding.

Building relationships because you are genuinely interested in that person will always come back to you, even if it is years down the line. You will build your reputation as an authentic leader and a kind person, both traits that you as an individual, our industry, and the wider world will always benefit from and needs to see more of.

In summary, never underestimate the impact of being kind because it can be the superpower that activates your team’s full potential; and showing kindness in your leadership will be a gift that allows you to unfailingly get the best out of everyone you work with.

So, who wants to join me in building a future of kind leaders?

If you answered yes, I’d love you to join me as a member in the Courageous Leaders Club, where you will receive monthly training and support, keep expanding your courageous zone and be part of a growing community of leaders who are helping to shape the future of leadership in a way that they want to see it progress.

You can find out more, and apply here.

Joanna Howes is the CEO of The Change Creators. She is an award winning international coach, behavioural expert, and No 1 best selling international co-author, who specialises in leadership and performance coaching. If this has resonated with you and you would like to explore how a coach can guide you to achieve your success, please book a free call using this link to discuss how Joanna can help you achieve your goals faster and easier than ever before. 

Business Leadership Self Development

How to create the right environment for courageous action

How to create the right environment for courageous action

When I work with companies, one of the first things I always like to talk about is their environment.

And by that, I don’t just mean what they put in their creds, or what they go out and say they do. I mean the unwritten grapples that exist in every business.

For me, the real ground rules of a company are the things people say about it as they meet in the communal areas or chat via DM. That’s where the environment of a business can truly be found.

And the environment is so important, because it is the very foundation of where courageous action begins!

Here’s 3 ways that, as leaders, you can create the right environment to inspire courageous action:

1. Have an opinion

As a leader if you’re not sure about something or if you disagree with something, it’s so important that you can stick your neck out and say so. Being able to go against the consensus or popular opinion is often not only important, but necessary when you are considering the bigger picture. Doing so will show that you have courage in your convictions and that you’re not afraid to challenge the status quo – and it will also make your employees feel like they can do the same!

2. Putting yourself out there

Following on from the first point, one of the most courageous things that you can do as a leader is to create an environment where it’s ok for people to disagree with you, and to challenge the people around them, in a constructive way. Everybody has a right to have their opinion heard at work, and allowing an environment where people can honestly and boldly say what they think, even when it may challenge the norm, is one of the most powerful things you can do to inspire courageous action! You will earn respect, loyalty and perhaps most excitingly, even create some genius out of the ideas that are a little bit more out there.

3. Understand who people are as human beings

Leading a work environment that allows people to feel valued is so important – and if you don’t understand who your team are as human beings, you will never achieve this. Finding out what motivates the people who work for you, what they value and what makes them happy will unlock a wealth of opportunity for you to truly nurture the environment that they work in, and allow so much potential for courageous action to take place.

And that really is where the true magic begins!

What do you think? Do you do any of these? Or do you have anything else you’d add to the list?

Let me know in the comments.

Joanna Howes is the CEO of The Change Creators. She is an award winning international coach, behavioural expert, and No 1 best selling international co-author, who specialises in leadership and performance coaching. If this has resonated with you and you would like to explore how a coach can guide you to achieve your success, please book a free call using this link to discuss how Joanna can help you achieve your goals faster and easier than ever before. To see how else Joanna can help visit her website here.


From Employee to Entrepreneur and now the CEO of The Change Creators

From Employee to Entrepreneur and now the CEO of The Change Creators

Do you feel there is something lacking in your life and career right now?

Do you have the feeling that there is more inside you but you can’t figure out how to access it and what your next step should be?

Are you too focused on what others think rather than what you really want to achieve?

4 years ago I would have answered ‘yes’ to all the above. 

Now I’m writing this article as the CEO of my own company – The Change Creators. 

If you had said to me back then that I would be running my own company, supported by a team of four and working with some of the most exciting brands in the world to create change, I would have laughed – awkwardly. 

So for me to be writing this and celebrating the evolution of my company in becoming The Change Creators with you now is a huge milestone in both my life and career.

4 years ago, I didn’t believe this journey was possible. Outwardly I was at the highest level of success in my career, the pinnacle of what I had worked for over the last 20 years. However, inwardly I was at rock bottom with no confidence and a sense of losing who I was.  

Looking at yourself in the mirror and feeling like a fraud, a failure and having no clue as to what you are going to do next is something I do not wish on anyone.

All I knew was that I was starting to feel the need for a change. I had a restlessness inside me, a feeling that I wasn’t living fully or authentically and that I had to explore it. I didn’t think for a minute that it would be what it turned out to be.

A new door opened

I had experienced some coaching in my last corporate position and loved it. It made me realise that in my operations role, you can only make changes if you understand why humans do what they do. So I made the decision to ignite my passion for learning and focus on human behaviour by pursuing my coaching training. I felt this would be a good way for me to learn about myself and then use it in my next corporate role to help elevate how change works.

Upon starting the training I fell in love with everything I was learning and began having a vision of building a business that was focused on creating change for others so they can be their true selves. So they never have to feel they need to be what they think they ‘should’ be or suppress their character to fit in. Just as I had once felt.

I wanted leaders to feel fearless and safe to bring out the best version of themselves and activate their full potential.

To do this I knew I had to back myself first. I had to work on my own self-belief and start to address that feeling inside that I could do and be more. 

This feeling still drives the business now. I want to show all the leaders I help that if I can do it, anyone else can.

31st May 2018 

On this day I opened the doors to Joanna Howes Ltd, coach, consult and trainer.

I was nervous, excited and also had no idea what was going to happen.

As an introvert, picking up the phone and reaching out to my contacts was a cocktail of butterflies and trepidation (now I’m a big fan of cocktails, however, this one? Not so much!). 

The realisation of having to wear all the different hats, becoming a marketer, accountant, sales person and course designer in a very short amount of time was a challenge.

But, using my training, I learnt that small steps lead to huge leaps both for myself and for the companies I’ve been honoured to help. The breakthroughs and transformation we have witnessed over the last 4 years have been incredible and very moving.  

Becoming The Change Creators 

My priority has always been people and have focused on helping create change in individuals, teams and businesses to help them grow and achieve their vision and goals easier and faster than ever before.  

To achieve this and keep our clients evolving, it’s important that both myself and my business evolved too. Being ‘Joanna Howes Ltd’ was great but with both my team and clients growing, I felt the time was right to grow further. 

It’s not a buy-out, merger or takeover. The core is still me.

Becoming The Change Creators is allowing us to expand our offering, grow our team and become the go-to brand to help you activate your full potential and be fulfilled in your life and work. 

One day or Day one?

I will be forever grateful that I took that leap and decided to back myself and create my change for good. Mine turned out to be building my own company. For you it may be securing a promotion or living more authentically in your work and life. 

My main message to you is that if you feel something strong enough, don’t ignore it. Go out and explore it!

I did 4 years ago and it’s got me to where I am today which I still have to pinch myself about. 

If you have ever felt the same then maybe today could be your day of change? 

How would you feel if you became the leader and business you know you can be?

So don’t keep thinking ‘one day…’ – Make today your ‘day one’. 

I’d love to hear from any of you who this resonates with. I’ve been there and can fully relate. Drop me an email here I’d love to know your story, what you’d like to achieve and help you fulfil it.

This is a very exciting time for us all. Thank you for being part of our journey and we hope you continue to do so.

Stay posted for new product launches and surprise gifts that we will be sharing to celebrate our growth. 

Business Leadership

My journey of leadership beyond the job title

You have the leadership title, yet do you see yourself as a leader or feel you are being the leader you know you can be?

Take a moment to think about what your leadership title means to you.

I’ll be honest, I admit that when I started my career, it was all about getting to the top as fast as I could.  A big driver for this was feeling the need to prove that I was good enough – to myself and my family.

I was chasing the job title and the salary.  I wasn’t thinking about who else this involved. I just wanted to prove I could do it so I could tell my family and friends I was a leader. I was only thinking about ME. 

Then one day, I was introduced to my team.  In that moment I knew it was no longer about me and the RESPONSIBILITY hit me out of the blue.

No one had ever shown or told me what it REALLY meant to be a leader.  

Yes, I’d had leaders lead me, but I didn’t know how to think, act or be a great leader.  I suppose I took it for granted that I was being led.

All I was focusing on was the job titles and promotions. 

I needed to get my act together

I knew I needed to learn the skills of being a leader, especially as quite a few people in my team were older than me and, at that time, weren’t too keen about that.

I found a training course I believed would help and signed myself up for it.

It was the best decision I made.  Not only did I learn more about the business as a whole, I also understood the key skills of leadership.

Luckily, I’ve always been able to instinctively support people and create a safe environment for people to be open and share how they are.  This was my strength as a leader.

However, dealing with conflict, finding my voice in the leadership meetings and knowing who I really was as a leader didn’t come straight away and needed work.

Getting out of my own way

The moment I decided to learn about who I am, was the transformation I had been waiting for.

I knew there was more in me to give, yet I didn’t know how to access it.  I was constantly getting in my own way and getting stuck in my own head. 

The key that unlocked my potential was learning how to be in charge of my mind.

This was more powerful than any practical leadership training I’d ever had.  This breakthrough allowed myself to drive forwards to where I wanted to go.  

It all starts with knowing who you are and how you think

You CAN be the leader you know you can be.

You CAN access what’s in your mind to propel you forwards.

The change for me happened when my mentor said to me ‘Are you committed or are you interested in being the best version of you?’

I knew I was committed and the rest is history.

Did I think this learning would take me to running my own business? No.  

Am I living my dream? Yes, as I can now spread the message of how to be a great leader and activate your full potential.

‘Do something today your future self would be proud of’ is a saying that has helped me so much.

So, what can you do to be the leader you want to be and one your team deserves?

If you’re committed to be the best version of you and you are ready to stand in your power as a leader, you can access my FREE GUIDE – 7 ways to be in charge of your mind.

Joanna is an award winning international coach who is passionate about helping people achieve personal and business success. Combining 20 years of operational experience with her behavioural expertise and leadership coaching, Joanna has worked with leading companies like Getty Images and the BBC to increase performance and results. If you’re interested to learn how Joanna can help you and your team, book your free discovery session with Joanna here


Part 4 – The 4 part model that will transform your business success

Look after your people, and they will look after your business 

Today’s article will explore the final part (part 4) of the successful model for change – People. Below is a reminder of the model I use when helping aid change in organisations and the foundation for this series of articles. 

Read previous articles here:

Part 1 – Environment

Part 2 – Structure

Part 3 – Implementation

You may be wondering why it is only at part 4 that we start to plan the ‘people strategy’ for the company.

Isn’t it always people first?

Yes, it is.

In order to put people first, you need to do the groundwork to align thinking, identify what needs to change and present clear actions on how these changes will be made. Your teams will only be open to adopt the changes if there is a clear strategy that they can get on board with. 

Usually the first steps aren’t considered and your teams are thrust into change that hasn’t been carefully thought about and therefore are resistant to it.  

By completing the parts 1-3, you are setting your team up for success and making sure their time is valued.

When I work with teams, the repeated requests I hear time and time again are, they just want a clear plan so they can understand what the expectations are from them. 

The CAM model helps organisations put clear steps and communication in place. You can provide your company the certainty they seek, that there is a vision, goals, alignment, strategies, clarity, structure and a roadmap for change.

What does the People section involve:

Depending on how small or large your change project is will determine how much time needs to be spent focused on the list below.  Some change projects may not require training and mentoring, just clear communication and leadership and some will require all 8 listed below.

  1. Communication
  2. Leadership
  3. Mentoring 
  4. Coaching
  5. Training
  6. Purposeful conversations
  7. Capabilities
  8. Support

Here’s a bit more detail on the ones that tend to always be required;


Communication is a two way process.

You need to be able to clearly communicate the Environmental and Structural thinking to your company and you need to be able to actively listen to their feedback.

You will find that some of the feedback you receive will build and make your ideas better.

Other feedback will be from people who are resistant to change. Therefore it is so important to have spent the time in Environment and Structure to present clear reasons as to why these change initiatives need to be adopted for the benefit of the business and employees. 

Within the communication stage you also want to try and identify your ‘early adopters’. These are the people who are most open to change and will be the people the rest of the company will feel good about following – more so than following the leadership team.


It is vital that you all support each other on the leadership team.

There should be no ‘corridor conversations’ or any suggestions to the wider team that you are not all on board. If there are any disagreements, this will have been identified at Environment stage and worked through, so you now approach the rest of the company as an aligned team. 

It is so important to know that your teams will not embrace change unless they can see the leadership team are united and they see you as a leadership team adopting the change first.

This can take up to 3 months if you have low trust in your organisation and have tried ‘change projects’ before that haven’t lasted.

As a leadership team it is critical that you take responsibility for keeping momentum and holding each other accountable to keep the change active and not be disheartened that you do not see immediate adoption from your teams. 


Naturally, people tend to resist change. However, they welcome change if it doesn’t directly affect them. 

Your role is to provide psychological safety so your teams feel they can share how they feel without being judged or for fear they will lose their job or be seen differently.

You need to ensure you have thought of all the questions your teams may have and be aligned in your responses.  

Every single person on your team will respond differently to the change and you need to be patient and see it from their perspective.

Be available for 1-2-1’s and team talks to provide reassurance, clarity and to be fully present to your team so they feel heard by you.

This level of consistent support is the difference between the companies that can make change work and the ones that don’t, which also results in losing good people. 

Support each other as a leadership team and then be there for your teams.

Final thoughts

The CAM model provides a new framework to change, but a framework that is proven to succeed. I have personally used this within many organisations – large and small – and the results have been transformational. 

The CAM model will also:

  1. Save you time and money
  2. Help you build high-performing teams
  3. Help you build aligned, motivated teams
  4. Ensure you stay relevant as a business
  5. Ensure you meet the needs of your clients and employees 

And… if you are worried about time, let me explain that you will spend the same amount of time reinforcing change over and over again, as you will if you adopt the CAM model and work through each part. 

You will just have very different outcomes.

So make the choice today. Become the leader who actions effective change to benefit your work and your people and lead a successful company that people will want to work with and trust.

Good luck & go forth. 

If you would like know more about how I can bring this model to life within your organisation, please email me on

I have created a very simple pdf guide that takes you through this exact process and a case study to show the power of the thinking and it is currently available for FREE from my website. Grab your copy here.

Joanna Howes is an international award-winning high performance coach and bestselling author based in London. She’s been featured on NBC, FOX and MSP News Global. If you want to lose the limits that are holding you back, book in for a free introductory call right here. 


Part 3 – The 4 part model that will transform your business success

How to get off the hamster wheel

Today’s article will explore part 3 of the successful model for change – Implementation. Below is a reminder of the model I use when helping aid change in organisations and the foundation for this series of articles.

If this is the first article you have read in this series, I highly recommend going back to read part 1 and part 2. The reason being is that too many companies start here in implementation and this is the reason why change fails and is not sustained. 

How to know if you’re a business or leader who heads straight to implementation: 

  1. You have been trying to find a solution to a fix a problem for years, yet year on year the same issues keep arising 
  2. Your team are fed up of trying new ways of working as they do not believe the change will stick – so what’s the point of trying
  3. You use language like ‘we need to get this done’, ‘we need to do this faster’, ‘just make it happen’.

This level of thinking is why so many businesses get caught up in the hamster wheel of ‘doing’ and why ‘doing’ doesn’t create lasting results. 

How does this affect businesses in the long term:

  1. Money lost on projects that do not have a chance of succeeding
  2. A lack of trust amongst the team and a belief that change isn’t possible
  3. Loss of good employees
  4. A culture of frustration, exhaustion and blame
  5. Client dissatisfaction 

Valuing the time spent in Environmental (part 1) and Structural (part 2) thinking is what is going to set you up for success for all your change initiatives – large and small.

How implementation works effectively

So, you have created your vision, goals, standards, aligned on your beliefs as a team, you have your categories, benchmarks and a roadmap to success and now implementation is what actually makes these things happen.

Step one

Start by looking at what is happening now in your business and what new actions need to be introduced following the work you have completed in Environment and Structure.

The actions to begin focusing on are:

  • Decision making
  • Delegation
  • Reporting
  • Short term and long term thinking
  • How you do things
  • What you focus on 

For example:

If you have agreed your standards for decision making is to keep the leadership team informed so they can be united but current standards are that the leaders say one thing and do another…then this is an action that needs to change.

Step two

You need to identify what you ‘do’ as an organisation.

Here are some key questions to ask:

  1. How do the team make decisions?
  2. How well do they plan projects?
  3. How well do they action a project?
  4. Do they complete what they start?
  5. Do they live the values they say they do?

Question 5 really starts to highlight the difference between what people say they do, versus what they actually do.

It’s your role as a leader to uncover these gaps and discover what is missing that is causing this behaviour. 

Step three

The final step is to identify the balance of short term and long term thinking within the team.

Are people thinking short term and doing work that is needed now and to solve the problems of today, or are they able to see the bigger picture that their actions ladder up to?

People tend to be stronger in one of these areas. It’s quite unusual to be strong in both and this is normally a learned behaviour that comes with experience.

Identifying your team’s strengths in both short and long term thinking will impact how they ‘do’ and the success you can achieve as a team and organisation.

Moving forward

I hope I’ve been able to demonstrate that jumping to implementation and ‘doing’ is risky business and the reason why so many companies fail to make even the simplest of changes work.  

It really does start with awareness and taking a step back to view the bigger picture. You have to understand what the first step looks like before you take the first step.

The time is now to stop being a leader that just has a team ‘doing’ lots of stuff. Don’t make being ‘busy’ a benchmark for productivity.  It is a false assumption that busy means progress.  

It’s time to get off the hamster wheel and be a leader who can elevate your teams thinking to set them up for success. You can be a leader of the future who creates high performers who innovate and drive sustainable business results. 

I have created a very simple pdf guide that takes you through this exact process and a case study to show the power of the thinking and it is currently available for FREE from my website. Grab your copy here.

If you would like know more about how I can bring this model to life within your organisation please email me on

Joanna Howes is an international award-winning high performance coach and bestselling author based in London. She’s been featured on NBC, FOX and MSP News Global. If you want to lose the limits that are holding you back, book in for a free introductory call right here.


Part 2 – The 4 part model that will transform your business success

The thinking of a great leader

In my first article of the ‘Making Change Work’ series I introduced the power of the Critical Alignment Model and shared the importance of starting in Environment thinking to build alignment for successful change.

Critical Alignment Model

We are now going to dig deeper into the importance of the second stage of thinking which is entitled ‘Structure’. Now, this isn’t organisational structure, for example org charts, it is a level of leadership thinking and most importantly a method of thinking in categories and measurement. 

Structure is a big dimension of thinking and truth be told, where the power lies to set you up for success.

This is the thinking of great leaders.  

Let’s start with some of the benefits to thinking in Structure:

You will be able to:

So what is Structure thinking?

Structure is the quantitative characteristics of the organisation. It is the content we can impact and influence.  

Structure includes (is not limited to):

  • The divisions of the business
  • The departments within the business
  • The strategies
  • The physical environment
  • The equipment
  • The systems
  • The checklists and manuals
  • The politics
  • The best practices
  • The KPI’s
  • The benchmarks
Step one – Categories

Structure allows you to organise your thinking and goals into categories and priorities. 

Imagine categories as buckets of content for which plans need to be built.  The content will be the things you have to deal with, things that need to be addressed.  This isn’t starting the implementation, it’s prioritising the plan. 

Case study example: 

A company wanted to introduce project management roles into their company.  

At first the team had polar opposite beliefs on what they believed the role of project management was, and the perception of project management.  So we made time for the team to become aligned on the vision, goals, beliefs, standards etc.

We didn’t move into Structure until we had educated the team to be aligned on their beliefs.

We then agreed the categories within Structure:

  1. The department set up
  2. The roles
  3. The new ways of working
  4. Client communication
  5. Commercial impact
  6. Talent audit and hiring 

We assigned an owner from the leadership team for each category to drive ownership of the change.

Next, we ensured the categories were in priority sequence, so that we focused on the top three, and maximised effectiveness. 

Finally we ensured the team was aligned on the goals for each of the categories. For example, the goal for ‘the department set up’ was to establish the feeling of one team made up of both the account and project managers.

Step two – Creating Strategies

The next critical step is to design your strategies for each category to achieve the desired outcome. 

I witness too many companies setting their goals, and then regressing to the daily routine.  So the team just keeps working as they have always been with blind hope the goal will be met.

This happens because the goals do not have any strategies.  This step is often passed over.

I just don’t have time

If you are reading this and thinking – I just don’t have the time, we just need to get on with it, read on

STOP now

Think about how much time and money you lose when your change initiative doesn’t work.  The pain to the culture of the business that re-enforces the belief that it’s ‘all words and no action’.

The upfront work that is required to make change happen is the demonstration of great leadership and leaders understanding their role.  Remove yourself from the weeds and elevate your thinking to Environment and Structure, and you will finally get off the hamster wheel and achieve sustainable success. 

Step three – Benchmarking.

When I question the majority of companies what their benchmarks of excellence are, I am often met with a prolonged silence.

If you do not have benchmarks, how do you know what you are aiming to achieve and if you have succeeded?

Action is not always sufficient, we need to question whether it was carried out in a way that achieved the desired outcome.

Benchmarks are best practice habits that help you succeed. They allow you to measure performance with facts, not with feelings or personal bias.

A simple example would be:

What is your benchmark for how your company phone is answered? 

  1. Within how many rings
  2. The greeting
  3. Returning call time

Now you can track the progress, impact and consistency of hitting this benchmark of excellence for your company and your teams can manage their own productivity.

Some of the area’s you must have benchmarks for are:

  • Sales 
  • Customer service
  • Talent
  • Communication
  • Ways of working
  • Delivery
  • Employee experience
  • Innovation

I’m hoping this is helping you to see how important it is to spend time thinking in Environment and Structure before you just start DOING.  

Without this level of leadership thinking, you will see your change ideas weaken. You really do need this solid foundation to build change that is effective and lasts.

Join me next week for part 3, where we will explore how to make implementation productive and seamless.

I have created a very simple pdf guide that takes you through this exact process and a case study to show the power of the thinking and it is currently available for FREE from my website. Grab your copy here.

If you would like know more about how I can bring this model to life within your organisation please email me on

Joanna Howes is an international award-winning high performance coach and bestselling author based in London. She’s been featured on NBC, FOX and MSP News Global. If you want to lose the limits that are holding you back, book in for a free introductory call right here. 


Part 1 – The 4 part model that will transform your business success

I’m going to share with you today something that has the potential to change how you work and transform the results you get.

PLUS it’s totally awesome and simple. I’ll give some context first.

I have worked in Operations for Advertising agencies for over 20 years. 

Working in operations you have to have a birds-eye view of the entire organisation and you are the master of bringing all the jigsaw pieces together to build a high performing business.  A challenging but a very exciting and varied role.

In this role, I noticed most organisations fail in being able to change behaviour to align and introduce new initiatives for the business, whether small or large changes across roles, departments, services and ways of working.  

A typical conversation looked like this:

“We need to work faster and save money”

“Can you introduce a new process or streamline the layers”

“Come back and tell me what you are going to do in 2 days”

The ideas are presented back and the response is…

“Great go for it and have it done by the end of the month as we have a pitch we need to say we can do this for”

Sound familiar?

So full implementation starts and this new way of working begins.

It starts off well but within a few weeks you see old habits start to creep back. 

You rally around trying to keep momentum but, as this change was imposed on the team, they do not fully understand why it’s happening and cannot see the long-term benefits, so they default back to their existing behaviours. 

With me?

So this is now the awesome bit….

Introducing the four dimensional blueprint for business success for ALL change initiatives. 

The Critical Alignment Model

This model was created by Sharon Pearson the founder of The Coaching Institute and my mentor who I credit along with her team for transforming my life.

This model was designed after extensive research into what needs to be attended to in all businesses for sustainable success.  The research highlighted a pattern of four dimensions that all leaders need to address to achieve their goals faster and easier than ever before. 





The beauty of this model is it stops the hamster wheel of ‘doing’ and wondering why you seem to have the same recurring problems year-on-year. 

The many other benefits of this model:

  1. Builds trust, teamwork and alignment
  2. Saves you time and money
  3. Drives collaboration
  4. Creates a leadership team of critical, strategic and consequential thinkers  
  5. Turns words into action that lasts
  6. Enables consistent business growth and progression

It really is transformational.

To begin we are going to review the Environment stage and next week I’ll explain the second phase – Structure. 

So how does it work?

At the heart of the model is ‘Purpose’. You must always start by knowing what your purpose for change or for a project is, otherwise you can end up dancing around in the small details without being able to see the bigger picture and the direction you want to head in.

Then you begin in ‘Environment’ – this is the step that is currently missing for a lot of organisations.

You start by bringing together your key decision makers to align on the vision for the change. You then begin identifying what ‘needs’ to be in place to achieve the vision and then move onto comparing this to the realities of today. 

The areas you are looking to identify the first level of gaps to address are:

  • Your culture
  • Your values
  • Your beliefs
  • Your attitudes 
  • Your standards 
  • Your expectations 

For example: 

To achieve the vision of expanding the companies services into data, you all ‘need’ to believe the right thing to do is hire the roles and build a new department. 

However, you identify that some of your team believe that this is the right thing to do to grow new services and revenue. You also find out that a lot of your team believe this is going to put too much pressure on the business to maintain the quality of service, so it is a risk and they think an acquisition is a stronger strategy.   

If you don’t address the gap between these beliefs then it can potentially cause the new department to fail.

The magic is in the gaps

The ‘Environment’ thinking allows you to discover how to close the gap of where you are today, to be closer to where you want to be tomorrow. It reveals the focus of where your change work needs to start – and it’s very often not where you think.

This is where the magic is. Building a team of future-fit leaders who can think at the right level to make change work.

Your leaders will feel they have ownership of the change to build the momentum that is required to deliver it.

You may be thinking ‘We just don’t have time to do this level of in depth analysis and bring everyone involved. We just need to get on and DO it.’  

I can tell you now that ‘just do it’ costs businesses millions of pounds every year in lost hours, talent leaving and clients not sticking around. 

Stop letting money fly out the window and invest the time and thinking up front to make sure you have sustainable growth and be a business that is still around in the next ten years. 

The more you use this model, the more it becomes how you see the world going forwards, and you become faster at seeing the gaps to elevate your business to the next level.

I look forward to seeing you in the next article for how to build the structure for change to work.

I have created a very simple guide that takes you through this exact process and a case study to show the power of the thinking and it is currently available for FREE from my website. Grab your copy here.

If you would like know more about how I can bring this model to life within your organisation please email me on

Joanna Howes is an international award-winning high performance coach and bestselling author based in London. She’s been featured on NBC, FOX and MSP News Global. If you want to lose the limits that are holding you back, book in for a free introductory call right here. 

Business Leadership Potential Self Development

Why so many leaders do not see themselves as a true leader

Why so many leaders do not see themselves as a true leader

There is so much information out there about what it takes to be a great leader, so why is it that we see so few of them?

The big problem I believe and am witnessing over and over again is that some leaders are not identifying and seeing themselves as a leader.  

They have the position, the title, the paycheque and the team, yet inside they still let the 9-year-old child inside themselves direct their belief in their own abilities. 

This is very common and if you resonate with this then I hope it helps you to know you are not alone. However, by not viewing yourself as a leader, and allowing the 9-year-old to lead instead, you are impacting on the results you can achieve for the business, your team and your own career goals. And more often than not, it’s not a positive impact.

So, how do you know if this is you? See if any of the points below resonate with you.

  1. Imposter syndrome – You feel that your peers and those above you are all smarter than you and that you are going to be found out. The voice in your head tells you that you are not good enough and self-doubt delays your decision making.
  1. Avoiding conflict – You stay clear of conflict in the fear of not knowing how to handle it and making the wrong call. Reassuring yourself by claiming ‘how could you know what really happened as you weren’t there?’
  1. Procrastination – You put off the stuff that really matters and you allow it to overwhelm you.
  1. Being busy – You stay in the weeds of the day-to-day to show you are needed and can add value. You wouldn’t know what to do with your time if you let go and handed it over to others.
  1. Control – You need to be in control, make the decisions for your team and have an understanding of everything that is going on. 

It’s time to step into your identity 

Your ‘identity’ is the key to being who you need to be in order to achieve your personal and professional goals.

You must change the way you think about yourself.  

I’ve been there

I know this is possible as it’s exactly what I had to do. I started my own business 3 years ago and was running it with my old identity of the 14 year old girl in the third set of maths (I didn’t realise this at the time but looking back I can see this is what happened). 

This meant I wasn’t putting myself out there, I wasn’t reaching the clients I really wanted to work with and I was very good at finding constant excuses as to why I wasn’t making that call or going to the networking event.  

Luckily, my passion for the work I do wouldn’t accept this. So after reading more books and watching mastermind events the penny dropped as to why I wasn’t where I wanted to be.

I needed to adopt my new identity to run my business if I wanted it to be a success. I needed to be Joanna Howes, the award-winning coach, best-selling author and CEO. I said this out loud quite a few times and the mind-set shift was huge.

Standing in my identity of who I am today has transformed my business and I’m achieving my goals faster and easier than ever before. And having a lot more fun and joy along the way (with not a maths class in sight!).

Being a great leader is so much more than what you do.  It’s who you are.  

Own your leadership. See the world through your leadership eyes of who you are today. and not the child who just wanted to fit in and please people. Who you are is so important to your leadership style, the way you communicate and the way others react to you. 

Honestly, this work is transformational. I’ve been there and I’ve witnessed others successfully go through this process too.

Don’t you think it’s time to find out how you can achieve your ultimate success – not only for your business but for yourself?

I have released a FREE guide – ‘5 steps to stand in your power as a leader’ – if this article struck a chord with you, you’ll find my quick to apply strategies in this guide super helpful. Grab your copy here.

If you found this article of value and you’d like access to more insightful and inspiring articles and resources, visit Joanna’s website here. If coaching is something you’d like to explore to help you achieve your goals and drive personal and business success, book your free discovery session with Joanna here

Business Teams

The moment I realised I’d lost my spontaneity and how it’s time to bring it back to business

The moment I realised I’d lost my spontaneity and how it’s time to bring it back to business 

I’m currently reading for the 8th time ‘You2’ by Price Pritchett (incredible book) and one of the key learnings is how our tendency is to default to our familiar behaviours and ‘what we do best’ vs. taking a quantum leap and breaking our patterns to create the extraordinary.  

We are creatures of habit and routine, so when we are presented with a world of uncertainty and lack of clarity, it forces us even more to fall into those habits, which can be both productive and unproductive. The problem is even the productive one’s may not be the right thing to be doing.

“It really doesn’t matter how well you do something, if it’s the wrong thing to do”

So, why am I sharing this with you?

Breaking the familiar

It got me thinking, what are my familiar patterns that if I continue doing them will prevent me from reaching new heights of success.

A very simple one came up.

Email vs Picking up the phone.

I have defaulted to email vs. picking up the phone for years, and a very wise person asked me the question why?  

Great question. 

Here’s my answer:

“I worry that I will interrupt someone’s schedule as I can’t remember the last time I phoned someone or someone phoned me and we hadn’t pre-planned a time, It almost feels impolite these days to just pick up the phone”

As I said this out loud it made me think how sad it was that communication and building relationships has become so scheduled and formal.  

On a side note: I was also shocked (and then I wasn’t) to find out that: 81% of millennials feel they need to summon up the courage to make a call.  

This is frightening as I think of all the skills that are being lost and ‘what if’ email suddenly didn’t exist (anything is possible), we would have a huge group of people who do not know how to communicate confidently with each other and businesses would plummet. 

Bring back spontaneity

Okay, back to the story: the lightbulb moment struck and I realised that not only have we lost our spontaneity in lockdown, we lost our spontaneity years ago with email.  

Ask yourself “when was the last time within a business context, did you just pick up the phone and check in with someone”?

We think we are maybe helping by emailing but all this is doing is clogging up an already overwhelmed inbox and potentially causing more stress as you have now added a ‘reply’ on their ‘to do’ list.

Also, do we really get to know someone over email?  I know I’ve got at least 10 people I’m in contact with that I’ve never met or spoken to and yet we converse over email regularly and start with the wonderfully polite greeting of ‘nice to e-meet you’.

Now I’m not saying stop emailing and start calling.  It’s finding the right balance, I just feel we have gone too far one way and I believe it’s time to bring some spontaneity back to life and business.

The benefits of picking up the phone:

  1. You make decisions faster
  2. You can pick up tone on a call and gain clarity of meaning
  3. You can actually solve things faster as it’s achieved in the call not back and forth on email
  4. Reduced anxiety as you’re in the space with the person. You’re not repeatedly clicking ‘refresh’ on your emails second guessing what is going on
  5. You build stronger relationships
  6. You can build on ideas 
  7. You receive an answer in the moment 

I do understand efficiencies and tracking conversations, especially coming from an operations background, however business was once achieved without email and I wonder for all we have gained, what have we lost that would right now be so wonderful and productive to bring back.

We are all searching for connection and community in these strange times, so how about you join me in my quest this week to phone at least 5 people and see how they are and how you could help.

I’d love to know how you get on.

Joanna Howes is an international award winning coach, behavioural expert, and No 1 best selling international author, who specialises in leadership and business operations. If any of these have resonated with you and you would like to explore how a coach can guide you to achieve your success, please book your free discovery session with Joanna here. Joanna also shares free resources on her website which you can access here.