CorporateCoach eNewsletter

Issue No. 80, 22nd November 2004


  1. Editorial: What do we expect?
  2. Coaching notes: What makes a successful consultant?

1.     Editorial: What do we expect?

Richard Winfield - editor and principal consultantI enjoy Sundays. Saturday is my recovery day. Washing and shopping, and maybe a film or a play. Sundays I enjoy because they are an opportunity to cook. During the week cooking is time constrained and tends to be meat or fish and two veg. On Sundays we eat at midday and I can spend the morning cooking something more leisurely and adventurous, a stew or a roast, and making soups for the freezer.

I am surprised how many of my male friends are also cooks. It is not what you expect of the pre-new man generation. But cooking, gardening and keeping animals for food are basic 'grounding' activities. Literally bring us down to earth.

This year I have missed a large number of weekends as a result of the many courses I have attended in my year of professional development. Next weekend I shall be with John Grinder refining my coaching skills, but I am delighted that this is the last one booked.

I was struck when we were at the CBI Conference earlier this month that director general Digby Jones announced that this was the first conference that did not include a weekend. He said "We talk a lot about work/life balance. We thought it was time we did something about it." It is a challenge to those of us who run courses. Should we expect managers to give up time outside the working week?

British railways have a bad reputation. but they have improved dramatically since they were privatised ten years ago. I hear that European railway managers are now turning to our companies as the leaders in the field! However, the legacy of a run down infrastructure and a massive increase in passengers means that our wonderful new rolling stock and ambitious train operating companies are often let down by track failures.

On Friday I travelled to Manchester to meet a favourite client. It was a beautiful day and the autumn light did some wonderful things with the colours in the fields. I was sitting on a stationary train when the driver announced that we were held up by a points failure. There was an alternative route being considered but there was a points failure somewhere along that as well. (I must point out that we were experiencing the first, unseasonal, snow and freezing conditions of the year). The conductor came through to talk to the passengers. Two ladies were sitting nearby. They said "We are not disappointed. We are so used to failures that it is what we expect."

What I don't expect is that our new rolling stock should fail – though it too frequently does. A train had failed at Birmingham. No problem. A train arriving at a similar time was actually two trains coupled together. The rear train was closed to passengers and then de-coupled from its leader so that it could be released for our use. Excellent solution, though each train might be a little crowded. However, there was a lot of standing around and waiting by the many railway staff. Even after the de-coupling had been completed there was more waiting before we were eventually allowed to board and the train to leave. Now outside its original schedule it would upset the timings of other journeys that needed to share track and the whole problem would snowball.

I wonder whether if such an incident had occurred in Switzerland, where it is expected that trains run absolutely on time, it would have been treated more urgently and dealt with more effectively. It is what you expect.

I understand that FedEx is committed to delivering every package overnight. It is a matter of pride. It is what customers and staff expect.

If you expect to succeed you will . . . because you will make sure that you do. If you expect to fail . . . .

Brefi Group is putting its full support behind the launch of Consultant Training to support successful professional and business people who are ready to move into consultancy. I am delighted that John La Valle has agreed to contribute an article on what makes a successful consultant.


NEW OPPORTUNITY : Train to become a successful consultant

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If so, Consultant Training Limited has an intensive six month programme that will set you up in business and give you the skills in consultancy, facilitation, coaching and training that will turn you into a successful and rounded consultant.

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Dear Editor

I continue to enjoy reading your weekly newsletter and find it a very positive start to the working week.

My reason for writing to you is to comment on Pikes Place Fish (CorporateCoach No 79) as I have both experienced their store and used their materials for development purposes. The whole concept is superb but I would have to say the of their videos the original Fish is excellent and the successive offerings are less relevant, especially in the European market.

Keep up the excellent work.

Best regards

Richard Brennan
Strategic Alliance Ltd

2.     Coaching notes: What makes a successful consultant?
John La Valle

The dominant characteristic of successful and charismatic individuals is clarity of purpose and strength of self belief that comes from being certain about who they are and what they are going after.

The question I've been asked is, "What makes a successful consultant, trainer, teacher, manager, entrepreneur, etc.?" because to me, whatever it is you're doing professionally, it helps to put yourself in the position, or role, of "consultant" at certain times, places and other contexts.

Based on my experience with many different people across many different professions, the ones that are the most successful have or do the following things:

They are driven - not just ambitious - driven by their passions, their abilities, their purpose. They know themselves so well that they do not need to explain themselves to others. Their behaviour "says" it all.

They are infectious - their above permeates a room, permeates all they meet, their environment. Some will call this charisma, others energy. Whatever you call it, know what it is because you have not only experienced it, but have it.

They are passionate about whatever it is they do, truly passionate – even when they have the opportunity to "sell" something. They don't have to because their passion spills over onto the people listening and/or in their presence. And most people want to have success.

They know the following that I have been saying for years and years - "No one is good at everything, but everyone is good at something". They know what they are good at, and they have built on that. They know what they are not good at and pass it up, or pass it along to someone else, when those opportunities come by. They know their niche and have developed their own "expertise" of it.

They are not afraid of hard work - as a matter of fact, it's not they are not afraid of it, they don't equate it with their passion - to them it's not work, it's their life; it's what they love doing. For years I've told people: "Do what you love and you'll never work another day in your life." And at the same time, working 24/7 is part of it for them. This does not mean that they don't make time away from their "career", but there is always that one small wheel clicking away in the back of their mind that keeps them on track.

They know that making mistakes is part of making decisions. They don't expect perfection, but they do expect optimization. At the same time, they also have high expectations for themselves, and for others, but they understand how to balance all these towards success.

They know how to say "I don't know" with confidence.

They are continuously learning - not just from seminars, books, tapes, etc., but from the experiences they are having. They are acute observers of their environment and can calibrate interventions well and the results of those interventions, whether theirs or someone else's, regardless of how subtle.

They have solid morals and values and their behaviour is consistent. They do not waiver. They may change their minds, but only after very careful consideration of new information.

They keep things simple - their communication, their strategies, everything possible is kept simple, but not at the expense of wasting resources, more appropriately, they keep things precise.

They are honest and they understand dishonesty and are prepared for it. They have a healthy scepticism of the business environment in which they are operating and have the strategies to evaluate opportunities.

How many of the above do you honestly have and/or do? Happy Consulting, or whatever it is you do.

©2004 La Valle, all rights reserved in all media. HYPERLINK "" Used with express written permission of John La Valle.


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We hope you enjoyed this issue of CorporateCoach. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together, then please contact me, Richard Winfield:

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