How often do you get the chance to speak out loud without fear of interruption?

How often do you get the chance to speak out loud without fear of interruption?

Our guest blogger Caroline Morris is a Data geek turned Leadership Coach who founded.  Having spent 20 years building databases, analyzing customer behaviour and leading teams of data scientists, programmers and analysts, she turned her love of “helping people to be the best they can be” into her new career, coaching business leaders and their teams. Caroline ran two Thinking Environment sessions with a lucky group of women from WTHub and has written about it for us. If you want to know more about joining one of Caroline’s workshops after reading this then do get in touch:

The Power of Thinking

It has been a wonderful experience working with some of you and sharing the Thinking Environment.  I am passionate about the power of Nancy’ Kline’s Time to Think on our ability to think and the impact it can have of on our interactions both personally and professionally.   The Thinking Environment is premised on the “The quality of our attention determines other people’s quality of thinking”.

How often do you get the chance to speak out loud without fear of interruption?

We spend a lot of time competing for air time, in a competitive dialogue trying to get our point across.  The Thinking Environment allows you the space and time to think without the fear of being interrupted.  It gives practical approaches and techniques to allow teams and groups to work more effectively together.  And I believe allows internal and external thinkers alike the opportunity to express themselves.  As one of the group shared:

“I think I will use thinking environment in my professional and personal life by listening more, and also remember to take my turn to be listened to.”

Our workshop took place over two days in May and July.  The first session we had in the board room, at first seemed like a great space very open and good views!  One of the key tenets of the Thinking Environment is the power of the Place.  Tess’s great feedback on how the Tree room was so much more informal and led to a more relaxed session was a brilliant reflection.

Time and space to think

The process gives us time and space to think, rather than having thoughts going around in our head.  I have always been amazed when coaching people how when given the attention and time they can often solve their own problems and issues.  Still, it is often an alien concept and I have become used to people not feeling comfortable with the opportunity to speaking without interruption, this feedback from a member of the group summed it up brilliantly:

“I enjoyed hearing people say, “I don’t really have much to say” and then speak for 5-10 minutes without a problem, it shows that they have so much more inside them (ideas, words, thoughts) than they have realised.”

When taken in to the workplace the Thinking Environment can be used in so many situations.  As a group, we posed ourselves the question: How could the Thinking Environment be used to solve problems?  I loved that one pair came at it from the perspective of trying to find a problem it couldn’t overcome and concluded it could be used in just about every situation.    The outcome was summed up by this wonderful reflection:

“On a professional setting, I think I could use the thinking environment as part of my web design workshops, a stage in which I involve my clients in the process of creating mockups of their websites. This will help communication in a respectful way, with no interruptions and everyone will have the opportunity to contribute (which aligns with the way I like to work).”

For further reading I recommend Nancy Kline’s More Time to Think; it was the book that got me on the road to my new career!

Caroline Morris


How to have a Difficult Conversation

How to have a Difficult Conversation

Have you ever had to have a challenging conversation and not known how to go about it?

Whether you call them difficult conversation or constructive conversations or courageous conversations, what we are really talking about is a conversation that you might normally want to avoid.

That might be giving someone feedback that’s a bit challenging, talking to someone where you have a different perspective, talking to someone who might come across very aggressively and just knowing how to deal with it.

Are you thinking, I am not sure I know what a constructive/brave or courageous conversation then it might be useful to reflect on the following:

Do you find you are having a conversation about someone?  If you are not talking to them but are spending time talking about them to someone else, then you are probably in a place where you are avoiding having a difficult conversation?.

If that is the case, the next step is to prepare for it.  As with most things making it feel more manageable and being able to prepare for it will not only make for something that feels less uncomfortable it will also have better outcomes.

Once you feel prepared, go into the conversation with a positive constructive mind-set.  If you are going to go in that anxious, stressed mind-set then the chances are that will then be felt by the other person and that might influence some of their behaviours.

Where are you on the OK- Corral (see below)?  For a conversation to be valuable and not descend onto an argument you need both to be in the top right hand corner:  Assertive or Actively constructive.  This means you are both OK and not one of you in defensive or aggressive places that can lead to destructive arguments.

The OK Corral


To allow for the other person to be prepared, ask for their permission, in a non-confrontational way ask if you may give them feedback.  Give the person enough time to recognise that it’s going to be a really helpful and constructive conversation.

When sharing your thoughts or feedback be mindful of your language, you can inadvertently say things you do not mean.  Watch out for the use of “but”.  For instance, “you have done a really great job, but there is something I need to talk about”.  Replacing the “but” with an “and” “you have done a really great job, and there is something I need to share”, means that you do not negate the first positive part and are building on that positive base.

And then avoid thing like passive aggressive phrases where as I have said before, or with all due respect.  Be truthful.  It it essential that the difficult conversation is constructive, that you’re honest and that you are thinking about how that person is going to receive your messge.   And then allowing them to provide their thoughts around it.

Finally think about it as a joint solution where it’s not about what they are going to do but what are you going to do together.

In summary:

  • Prepare your thoughts and be in an Active Constructive mindset.
  • Recognise where they are in the OK corral (see above).
  • Describe the situation as a problem to be solved jointly.
  • Don’t assume you know what someone else is thinking.
  • Encourage them to share how they felt about the situation.
  • Listen, give attention and ease.
  • Acknowledge what they said and the impact that the situation has had on them.
  • Ask open questions to help expand the conversation.
  • Ask for permission when providing feedback: “May I give you some feedback”
  • Respond don’t react: recognise your emotions, consider your response.
  • Avoid the use of: “BUT”, Why questions and “As I said before” phrases.


Consider doing these things.


  1. Build a rapport with the person, get to know what works for them
  2. Consider what you are going to say
  3. Ensure you seek permission before doing so
  4. Be impartial, this is not what about what you think but what you observe
  5. Be consistent and persistent
  6. Be willing to receive feedback


And avoid these to ensure you have a successful outcome.


  1. Make light of your feedback or undermine the feedback being given
  2. Be aggressive or passive aggressive
  3. Use it as an excuse to address issues you have, this should be about areas they wish to address
  4. Ignore the behaviour – you are therefore complicit in it!
  5. Treat everyone the same, people respond to different types of feedback


As with most things the more often you do the more comfortable you will be and therefore the better the overall outcome. Don’t let it become a big issue, nip things in the bud!


Realising Your Compelling Vision: Mini-Course

Realising Your Compelling Vision: Mini-Course

Turning theory into practice

Do you sometimes struggle to convert great sounding advice into practical delivery?  That was one of the things I observed both from my own experience leading and also working with my clients.  Often the training course or advice sounds fantastic but when we try to implement it, we start to flounder, and revert to our previous way of working.

To address this I created this mini-course, it expands upon the tips for creating a vision and introduces team development workshop activity that will help you to develop your team.

Real life examples and practical examples

The course includes real-life examples, client stories and practical exercises.  The objective of the course to help the team get behind the creation of the vision and then the execution whilst developing them into a high performing team.

If you are a leader or a member of a team that could do with a helping hand to start to develop your common purpose and way of working, this course will guide you through the process.

By providing practical examples and experiences, I can support you to transform good intentions into action!

Please click here to register for the mini-course:

Creating a Compelling Vision: Free Webinar

Creating a Compelling Vision: Free Webinar

Articulating what you do

Whether you are the CEO of your business or a leader of a team within your organisation, being able to articulate what you do and engage the team around your vision is essential to delivering your business success.

Unlocking your potential

As a leadership coach, I have worked with many leaders.  I have seen theirs and their team’s potential unlocked by working together to define their vision.  It is fascinating to see the change in the team once they have been able to define their joint purpose.

Creating a clear vision will move your forward

Making time to do it can be challenging and often it can get overlooked.  Perhaps you work in a large organisation and there is an overarching vision, but that it does not feel close enough to what you do.  Whatever your situation, if you or your team are struggling to connect behind a single goal, a clear vision will help you move forward.

In my webinar, I go into more details about the value you can achieve through working with your team to create your vision.

Mindful of your time, it is short, about 10 minutes, and will help you to get more from the Compelling Vision top 10 tips download!

Please click here to access the free webinar:

Thank you!

How to Be Present as a Leader

How to Be Present as a Leader

Present Empathetic Listening
Being Present


As a leader it is important that we are present.  We need to avoid seeming distracted.  We need to give them our full attention.  If we don’t do this they may feel unheard or not listened to.

I noticed when I was a leader that sometimes a team member would come and ask for my advice.  They would the share the problem with me and then go onto solve their problem. They would then thank me for the help.  I thought “I’ve not done anything” . But I realize what I did, was to give them the space to think through the problem giving them my full attention.  This was a powerful lesson for me.  I was being present.


Empathetic Leaders

When I work with leaders who are not engaging well with their direct reports, it is often that the Leader has become very transactional. They have become focused on the tasks rather than the bigger picture.  When I probe further, they start to acknowledge that actually they have stopped engaging with their teams.  They no longer ask them questions.  When their team  do engage with them, they can often be distracted or worse still, hurry them along to get to the point.

This means that they are not getting the best from each other.  They may start to withhold information or not seek support that they require.  The leader loses this vital contact with the team.  They may start to get involved in the detail to gain the answers they would normally get from their team members.  As a by product the leader then starts to neglect their strategic role.

This transactional relationship, leaves the team member feeling like they do not have a voice.  This will start to impact their sense of empowerment.  As this happens, they make seek more validation or ask questions, as their confidence has been knocked.  This becomes self-fulfilling.  The leader might start to believe the person isn’t up to the job, and this exacerbates their sense of need to be in the detail. This vicious circle could be avoided by the leader connecting with the team member.


My 3 thoughts to becoming a more present leader are:


  1. Avoid distractions: close the lid of your laptop, turn over your phone and keep your eyes on the person speaking
  2. Give full attention: clear your mind, feel easeful and relaxed and avoid hurrying them along with fast nodding or hand gestures
  3. Be absent:  If you are not able to do the above, recognize that you are not in the right frame of mind or have something you need to do, then schedule the session in for a more appropriate time.



By doing this we will both enhance our and our team’s experience.  Great leaders are present for their team and understand the impact that they have on others.