LISTEN TO MY LATEST PODCAST EPISODE:
Gareth Turner/ The Courageous Leaders Club Podcast. Released 2022.
Gareth Turner: Creating Environments of Psychological Safety

what we do

Categories
Business Leadership Self Development

High Functioning Depression in Leadership

High Functioning Depression in Leadership

Now, more than ever, it is likely that we know and indeed work with someone who is living with a mental health condition, and so recognising days such as a World Mental Health Day is an important step in starting conversations around mental health and supporting those that need it.

And no, it is not always easy to recognise when someone is struggling, especially as our perception of mental health may not always be accurate.  When we speak about mental health problems, we picture people who are sad and withdrawn, or simply not their usual self and can easily mistake smiles for being ok.

Earlier this year I interviewed Brie Stewart for my podcast, and during the episode she spoke very openly about her journey with High Functioning Depression, a term that I wasn’t previously familiar with.

Brie is an award-winning Creative Director with over 13 years’ experience including working at esteemed Public Relations Agency Edelman, and the advertising agencies Ogilvy, Clemenger BBDO, and most recently Wunderman Thompson.

When you read her bio, it’s certainly impressive and so it was fascinating to hear her experiences about how she was doing publicly; she was going to work and had a successful career, and under the surface she was living with depression.

During the interview Brie explained that she has lived with High Functioning Depression for years and while her introverted side was thriving during the isolation, she was also inspired to share her story. 

I Feel It Too, We’ll Get It Done was Brie’s way of starting the conversation about those mental health issues that are easier to overlook or miss. She wanted to highlight the ‘behind the scenes’ part of HFD: the internal struggles, the severe tiredness and the complete and utter lack of motivation. She was fine. But she wasn’t. Her message was so powerful, it really is ok not to be ok and that we need to create cultures where we all feel comfortable to speak out about it, no matter our level of seniority.

It wasn’t an article that Brie wrote lightly; she acknowledged that it felt risky. Working in an industry that is so competitive and where busyness is worn as a badge of honour, to admit that she was struggling to stay afloat, was a real risk that she would be seen as weak and not resilient.

However, the reality was that the article was met with an outpouring of support both publicly and privately; showing that speaking out and working through our struggles is the strongest and bravest acts we can take.

In fact, Brie actually credits her vulnerability as making her a better and more courageous leader, and I was moved by some of the points she shared as to why, including:

Being comfortable with not being perfect builds trust

When you’ve shared a difficult moment, you demonstrate that we are all human and we all have to move through difficult times.

Having the courage to say “I’m not ok” opens up conversations

These conversations then create an atmosphere of honesty and integrity where people feel comfortable showing their own vulnerability.

Practising what we preach about the importance of rest

This is especially true at times of great pressure. When you show that you prioritise rest it sets the example that you can achieve, but not at the expense of your health.

Understanding that there is a ‘no’ in every ‘yes’

Every new commitment we make takes time and energy away from other things. Getting comfortable with saying ‘no’ demonstrates the importance of setting clear boundaries.

Accepting that you will not always be liked

Being comfortable with the fact that it is more important to speak your truth than to sit in silence encourages your team to speak up too.

It was truly inspiring listening to Brie talk about High-Functioning Depression and how being open about it has freed her up to be a stronger and more effective leader.

To learn more about how our own vulnerability can help us become better leaders listen to the podcast here

Categories
Business Leadership Self Development

How to Build A Successful Team

How to Build a Successful Team

One of the most important things we do as leaders is to build a team, as these are the people who will become responsible for delivering your ideas and projects.

It’s not surprising then that it is also one of the most challenging things we will do as a leader, because the hard truth is that not everyone will be capable of taking your vision into the world and making it happen.

Which brings me to the million-dollar question in leadership – how do you build a successful team and what key elements do you need to keep in mind that mean you can attract the right people in the first place?

Below I’ve delved a little deeper into the three core areas that will help you do this.

1. Prioritise values and mindset as highly as you do skill set

It is often no longer your responsibility to deliver on your ideas and projects, but to inspire and empower others to do so. This means that everyone in your team must be aligned on the vision and be able to take that out into the world and make it their own. 

A key part of your role will involve you needing to be able to bring your ideas and projects to life to create buy-in and momentum; and so, when you build a team, you need to be confident that you can create a vision for them and know how to build alignment to that vision.

After all, there is no vision without alignment, and teamwork will not happen without shared values. 

Before attempting to build a team you, therefore, need to be clear on what it is you need; and you must remember that it’s not just about the skills and experience of your team members, it’s also about mindset, values and connecting the right people. 

By spending the time at this early stage honing in on what it is that you need from your team as a whole and as individuals you are far more likely to bring together those people who can make what we want to happen, happen.

2. Be clear about your expectations

Once you know what you’re looking for, you need to set clear expectations with those you are looking to bring onto your team.

You must give potential new team members the opportunity to understand the type of organisation they would be joining and how they would need to work; and once your team is in place it is your role to provide clarity and set clear expectations.

This is about more than just a job description; it is about being clear about what values and skills you need from your team, what tasks they will be responsible for and how they show up and respond to challenges.

If you need people who can be flexible within the team, work with fluid structures and not need to be told what to do, you need to tell potential team members that. Do not fear scaring people off, instead reframe your mindset to ensure you bring the right person on – not everyone will be suited to your organisation and that is ok.

Recruitment is a collaborative effort between you and the candidate to ensure you find the right fit, but neither of you can do that unless you tell them exactly what you are looking for.

Of course, this may mean that you will reduce the number of candidates and in some cases it may take longer to find the right person or people for your team. But the key is not to panic; not to lower or shape your expectations based on who you meet.

We all know, many of us from personal experience, that it is much more costly in the long run to hire the wrong person than to wait a little longer to hire the right person. The most successful teams often take a little longer to build but the impact they make lasts far longer.

3. Remember building a team is a creative process

It is easy, when building a team, to become bogged down in the challenges and minutiae of the process but creating a team is and should be a creative process.

Just like creativity, building a team is a blank piece of paper and it enables us to move beyond the thinking and into the doing.

Using those creative skills that make you a successful leader when creating and building your team – imagination, vision, originality, inventiveness – you will be able to bring together a group of people that not only succeed as individuals but as a team that is greater than the sum of its parts.

After all, our teams are our most creative tool and the one by which we will present and deliver our ideas to the world, and we should approach the process of creating it as such.


The key to an effective team is trust, and it is your role as a leader to help them get to know and understand each other so that the trust can be built. Be courageous and curious in the questions you ask and the time you give to really know who your team members are and understand their needs, get to know them as individuals and then support them to come together as a collective.

Putting our team together is one of the most challenging aspects of being a leader because we know how important it is to get right, and how easy it is to get wrong!

This means it can be a very daunting process and comes with a lot of pressure – but with my Courageous Leaders Club, it is not something that you need to do by yourself.

By joining my community of leaders from within the creative industries, you will be part of a safe, supportive (and successful) team created just for you. It is a space to learn, share ideas and overcome challenges together, giving you the confidence to go forward and create the team you need to succeed.

To find out more about the Courageous Leaders Club and to apply to join visit https://thechangecreators.com/courageous-leaders-club/Ho

Categories
Business Leadership Self Development

The Importance of Expanding Not Just Elevating As Leaders

The Importance of Expanding Not Just Elevating As Leaders 

Speak to any business leader and they will tell you that the workplace is changing and the pace of that change is only getting faster. In fact, according to a report by Dell Technologies in 2018, 85% of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet.

For many of us that can be a difficult prospect to grasp, so what is the key to thriving when the future of our workforce is unknown? 

Clearly it is time to revisit that long held belief that empowering our employees to climb up the ladder is the only way to succeed and instead look at widening said ladder to enable our teams to expand their skills as well as elevate them.

If we are to be effective and courageous leaders we need to make sure we are providing the working environment that supports everyone to be brave in their pursuit of success, however that looks.

Here are three key ways to achieve this:

Reskill As Well As Upskill

Gone are the days when career paths within businesses were a simple linear path from junior employee to business leader and those who completed this path the quickest were lauded as the winners in business.

Now we must recognise that it is not a race to the finishing line and often the most successful of those in our team are the people who take their time, veer off in one direction to return a little later and enjoy the journey as they go. A speed boat may reach the other side of the lake quicker but the yacht that zig zags across at its own pace reaches the same destination and has more adventures to tell of when it arrives.

The future of leadership needs to be more people centered rather than career centered. We need to listen to our team and treat each one as individuals, taking the time to learn their individual interests and ambitions.

By developing and supporting people to achieve what they want to achieve rather than forcing them to follow a predetermined career path, you will be building a more resilient and deft individual capable of taking on the challenges of their yet undetermined future.

Giving people permission to move out of their lane and explore what interests them will also be creating an environment where people feel empowered to take risks, to make bolder and braver decisions and move your business forward with passion and integrity.

Be Prepared To Share Your Team

For too long, leadership was seen as a way to build mini-empires and opportunities for growth and development within the team were seen as a threat. This thinking no longer has a place within modern leadership. If we continue to be protective and defensive of our teams we will be denying them the opportunities to harness the skills needed in the future.

A good leader isn’t one who’s team knows their place and doesn’t step out of line, but one who encourages those they work with to look beyond the team. 

We have to be open in our approach to supporting people, even if that means they ultimately find a place somewhere else. As leaders we should seek success in watching those we once led outshining us and carving their own path beyond the confines of our territories. Over protectiveness in business leads to stagnation and that spells disaster in the modern business environment.

It is important to remember though that as leaders, we do not exist alone. Being committed to sharing our teams in order to maintain creativity and innovation only works if other leaders around us are doing the same. It is all well and good recognising that a member of our sales team has an interest and flair for marketing that should be encouraged, but if the leader within the marketing team isn’t as open then there is little chance of achieving success.

Recognise Leadership Is A Skill

Nearly all of us as leaders, at some time or another, will have fallen into the trap of neglecting our leadership responsibilities in order to achieve a goal, complete an important project or simply keep on top of our workload. Often the duties that come with leadership are given to us on top of existing responsibilities to get work done.

But, as a leader it is imperative we acknowledge that our most important role is to facilitate the team to do their job better, not to do their job ourselves. Listening to and helping solve the problems within our team isn’t a distraction from our job, it is our job and like with any role it requires skill and a determination to succeed. 

Simply being promoted to a leadership role, whether that involves leading people or not, does not make us a leader. We have to learn how to do it so we can be the courageous leader that businesses need if they are to survive beyond the present. But we can’t do that alone. 

That is why I set up my Courageous Leaders Club to provide a community for leaders within the creative industries to learn together and from each other, giving you a safe, supportive space to reflect and recharge with like minded individuals to help you become the best leader you can be in these fast moving times. It may feel lonely at the top sometimes but with the Courageous Leaders Club it doesn’t have to.

To find out more about the Courageous Leaders Club and to apply to join visit https://thechangecreators.com/courageous-leaders-club/

Categories
Business Leadership Self Development

How To Lead Unapologetically As Yourself

How to Lead Unapologetically As Yourself 

“He that thinketh he leadeth when no one is following, is merely taking a walk.”

John. C. Maxwell

 

When we commit ourselves to being the best leader, it is all too easy to lose ourselves in the noise; to become what we believe a leader should be rather than the leader we can be.

 

Being a leader should never be at the expense of being ourselves, especially as authenticity is often what inspires trust and loyalty from those we lead. 

 

That is why I am passionate about leadership being a journey of continuous personal and professional development. Opening yourself up to self-reflection, change and improvement is essential if you are to inspire the sense of conviction and confidence in those that follow you that expands their idea of what they are capable of achieving. 

 

So how do we lead positively and unapologetically as ourselves in the modern business world?

 

Below I have outlined five key ways that have helped me in my leadership, that I wanted to share with you in this blog.

 

1. Overcoming the fear of failure

As young children, we don’t consider our actions will result in failure. We would build a tower of bricks not expecting it to fall and then when it did, we would simply rebuild it, without self-doubt preventing us from believing that this time it would rise taller.

Yet as we grow older and we experience the inevitable setbacks in our lives and careers, the fear of failure begins to influence our decisions, making us indecisive and cautious. Even when our tower is at its highest, we can become overwhelmed by the voice in our head telling us that it will fall if we add another brick.

 

But, failure in itself isn’t bad, it is how we deal with it that ultimately determines the ongoing influence that moment has in our lives. We are in control of how we approach those moments and the internal voices we decide to listen to.

 

Do we listen to the voice that tells us we can do something or the one that says we can’t? The one that makes us doubt ourselves in the face of failure or the one that gives us the confidence to dust ourselves off and learn from it?

 

No one can completely banish the negative voices in their head but we can learn to make friends with them. By recognising them for what they are – a reflection of our fears and doubts – we can start to relinquish the power those voices have on us. It’s not about ignoring those voices but attaching the right level of significance and volume when they speak to us. Knowing that those voices are a part of us, but they are not all of us.

 

Once we let go of the notion that failure is the worst possible outcome, rather than just one outcome out of many, we can begin to lead from a position of inner confidence and truth.

 

2. Recognising the power of gratitude

Starting from a place of gratitude allows you to take a step back from any negativity or stress that is consuming you and move forward with more clarity.

By taking a moment to stop and think about all the parts of yourself and your life that you are grateful for, you are putting your arms around yourself and reminding yourself that there is a lot of good in who you are and what you’re doing.

Anxiety and gratitude cannot exist in the same moment, so practicing this simple act can help to refocus you and reinvigorate you for the challenges of leadership and allow you to reconnect with yourself.

3. Remembering Feedback is Not Always the Truth

We all understand that receiving feedback is part of our professional lives. Even, or perhaps especially, as leaders we must be prepared to listen to feedback, both negative and positive, and reflect on what it means for us going forward.

However, just as being open to receiving feedback is an important part of leadership, recognising what feedback is helpful and what will only drag us down in the opinions of others, without providing clarity is an equally essential skill.

The most important thing to remember is that feedback is not the truth, it is the truth of the person speaking it. That means that just because someone calls you arrogant or bullish or too sensitive it doesn’t mean you have to believe it and doesn’t mean you should change to fit their idea of who or how you should be.

Ask yourself what the person who is giving you the feedback has to gain from doing so. What is their motivation? Are their words more a reflection of where they are and their own insecurities than a true reflection of you?

By understanding and keeping hold of the fundamental beliefs about yourself, such as “I am a good, kind person” you can start to filter the feedback you receive and let go of those comments that do not serve you.

That’s not to say all negative feedback should be ignored, but it is about being objective about your thoughts following that feedback. You can see your faults but you are not them. By doing that you can work on reflecting and improving, without second guessing and losing yourself in the process.

4. Letting Go Of The Labels

Often with feedback comes labels. We become known both by ourselves and by other people by traits or behaviors used to sum us and our leadership style up. Bossy. Confident. Outspoken. Decisive. Defensive. They can trap us in a box that restricts our growth and ability as leaders and as human beings, but the good thing about labels is that you can unstick them as easily as they become attached to you. You do not need to submissively accept a label that does not serve you. 

Your job is not to make other people’s lives easier or for them to feel more comfortable, it is to be you. Claim your identity and let go of those labels you no longer want and then make room for new ones. Go back to those fundamental truths you know about yourself, attach those labels and wear them with pride. It’s time to invest in your strengths, not focus on your weaknesses.

5. Leading By Example and Embracing Vulnerability

Finally, and arguably most importantly, we must lead by example and let ourselves be vulnerable. I’ve spoken before about how allowing myself to be vulnerable when my team was offering me feedback, by admitting I found hearing it difficult, helped to create an atmosphere of trust and respect that hadn’t been present before.

Often as leaders we’re told to ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ and that to be strong is not to show weakness, but vulnerability and showing that you too are human is a powerful tool in inspiring and leading our teams and keeping in touch with our own inner selves.

However, it is important to remember that as a leader our team looks to us for solutions, so whilst we should share what is troubling us we have to also show how we are overcoming them. By demonstrating how we deal with challenges and reminding people that even in a bad week, not every moment is bad we are helping our team to become more open yet resilient.

In my mind, the most courageous leaders are those that care and are sensitive to the world around them. The Coronavirus pandemic gave us all an unique opportunity to witness and appreciate the humanity of those we worked with. We saw into their homes, met their partners, children and pets, we learned they played the guitar and collected snowglobes, we saw them drop their games faces and gained a greater understanding of their everyday pressures and stresses as our team did with us.

Despite being more physically further apart than ever, we all became more connected with what made each of us who we are both in and out of work. Now that we’re moving beyond the pandemic and returning to the office, it is important not to lose touch with the quiet humanity that we witnessed and shared for all those months. By dropping the mask and allowing others to do the same, we not only lead as our authentic selves but we show others that they should too.

It is not always easy to keep hold of our true self as leaders. We are bombarded with opinions, feedback and advice on how to be strong and confident, much of which can lead us to believe that we must wear a mask that never drops. Yet authenticity is strength and by keeping hold of what makes us who we are and using that as our foundation from which to lead we become better, more inspiring and more effective leaders as well as healthier, happier people.

When you lead from a place of truth, others will follow and ensure you are not walking alone.

If you’d like to lead confidently as your true self, build courage and certainty in your leadership and get access to high-level monthly training and a supportive community, I’d love you to join me as a member in the Courageous Leaders Club.

You can find out more and apply here

 

 

Categories
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. 

Categories
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.