Sunday Ruminations…

5 02 2012

I find myself drawn back to my blog for the first time in many many months!  It’s a very cold and snowy February day.  The Rugby’s on, my 7 month old daughter and her father are asleep on the sofa and a roast is cooking in the oven.  Bliss!

So what’s pulled me back and detracted me from indulging in a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Well I guess you could say it’s that Sunday feeling because like many of you, I’m sitting here wondering what this weeks work will hold as I begin the slow process of returning to work from maternity leave…  It’s a very strange experience after several wonderful months learning how to be a brilliant mummy to Amelie, and it’s got me thinking about all sorts of things.  The issue of time management, confidence, balance and finding work again…  Essentially the topics that crop up time and time again for so many of my coaching clients.  How ironic!

So whilst I chew the cud and ruminate on the importance of this, I’ll take some of my own advice and enjoy the moment.  More soon.

Have a good week.



So if “All the world’s a stage…” what about Age Discrimination?

26 07 2010

All the world’s a Stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages…”

As You Like It – 2/7

So if  “All the world’s a stage” what about Age Discrimination?

This question is one I’ve been mulling over a lot recently and particularly when talking to my coaching clients in the work I do.

It’s a fact**, and despite what a multitude of HR professionals/business leaders might tell you, we are all affected by the different stages that we’re at in life and the issues and challenges we face.

Here are some basics:

Figure 1. Adult Life Stages
Stage Key Issues Self-Image Goal Focus Relationships Community
Autonomy / Tentative Choices

(18 – 26)

Autonomy vs. Dependence

Tentative vs. Lasting Choices

Developing sense of personhood as separate from parents and childhood peer groups Defining self as an individual and establishing an initial life style Testing out new relationships (e.g., love interests, peer groups, and friends) Realigning focus from family of origin to new peers and groups
Young Adult


Turmoil vs. Certainty

Settling Down vs. Keeping Things Open

Questioning sense of self and who/what we want to become Re-assessing initial life style and making more permanent choices/ commitments Sorting out and deciding which relationships will become more permanent Re-thinking and evaluating commitments and connections
Making Commitments


Master vs. Apprentice

Permanent vs. Tentative Choices

Firming up/establishing a more permanent sense of self and who/what we want to become Deciding a life direction and defining/ aggressively pursuing a dream of what we want to accomplish in life Making more permanent commitments to love relationships, friends, and peers Establishing more permanent connections and community ties/ responsibilities
Mid-Life Transition


Resolving Key Polarities

Immortality vs. Mortality

Constructive vs. Destructive

Nurturing vs. Aggressive

Re-examining realities of projected ego and image vs. true self and struggling to define/accept true self Questioning the dream whether or not it was achieved and developing a more mature sense of what is really important Recognizing/ acknowledging one’s own negative, as well as positive, impact on relationships and correcting course for deeper, more authentic connections Disengaging from group and cultural pressures/norms to re-evaluate and restructure priorities
Leaving a


Contribution vs. Personal Benefit

Other vs. Self Centered

Social vs. Independent Accomplishments

Letting go of earlier inaccurate ego images and accepting oneself as a worthwhile being with weaknesses as well as strengths Making the best of the time one has left to help others and leave a positive legacy Settling into more realistic and rewarding relationships based on recognizing/ forgiving each other’s imperfections as human and helping each other grow Re-engagement on a deeper, more objective, less driven and more productive, level with family, friends, and society
Spiritual Denouement

(66 and beyond)

Hope vs. Despair

Survival of Spirit vs. Mortality

Surrender vs. Control

Accepting self as dependent on a wisdom greater than one’s own, recognizing that wisdom as benevolent, and submitting one’s self and life to that wisdom’s will Tying things up and completing the development of the person/spiritual being we want to become Accepting others and recognizing/ respecting humankind’s diversity as part of a greater wisdom’s plan Recognizing that life is only part of a larger, more enduring spiritual community and helping others understand that

Click here if you can’t view the above which was taken from

Of course, we are complex animals and often we weave our way through this path moving backwards and forwards between “ages”. Sometimes meandering back and re-working earlier stages and the choices we made, as we face unpredictable situations, achievements, traumas, and fluctuating career, family, or interpersonal situations.  But generally, it’s fair to say that we all recognise these stages.  We’ve all been through them.

And my point is this, to be better leaders and managers of your people.  In order to really understand them, it’s key to understand where they are in life, what’s driving them and what they are facing in their different life stages.  It’s about kicking the concept of Age Discrimination into touch – or at least putting it into some perspective.

So where are you right now in your life?  What challenges are you facing in or out of work that you’ve reflected on differently by thinking about your life in stages?  This is powerful stuff and something that so many of us put to one side.  I look forward to your your views.

Using this for Coaching Work

Some of you may like to consider using this in your own coaching or coaching work.  Here’s an idea of how:

  • Consider which Life Stage best outlines where you are today – pick the closest one for each column or more than one if that’s appropriate
  • What does that tell you about the choices you have in your life?
  • What values or beliefs do you have that are helping you stay where you are?
  • What values or beliefs do you have that will help you with your next stage?
  • How does thinking about your life like this help you?
  • What three (or more) things will you do now?

**For a more in-depth understanding of this area of social research, try googling the writings of Erikson, Levinson, Groeschel, Fowler to name a few…

What’s the Difference Between Mentoring and Coaching?

8 07 2010

I want to spend some time this week looking at the difference between coaching and mentoring, as this has come up a few times with coaching clients recently.

As a Certified Leadership Coach there have been occasions where my clients present their personal/professional challenges and expect me to tell them what to do.  They have confused the role of coach and the role of mentor – something which is very easy to do.

Let’s consider the academic definitions of the two first:

“Mentoring is the process for the informal transmission of knowledge, social capital, and psychosocial support perceived by the recipient as relevant to work, career, or professional development; mentoring entails informal communication, usually face-to-face and during a sustained period of time, between a person who is perceived to have greater relevant knowledge, wisdom, or experience (the mentor) and the person who is perceived to have less (the mentee)” Bozeman, Feeney, 2007


“Coaching is a partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has.” International Coach Federation, 2010

The differences between Coaching and Mentoring:

Some of the key differences are:

Mentoring Coaching
Focuses on the individual and the organizational context. Focuses upon the individual and their wider context.
The mentor is normally selected by the mentee The Coach often is given a specific agenda (usually to improve performance)
A mentor provides directional guidance, teaching and sometimes coaching through the mentoring process A coach uses open questions through the coaching process
The mentee develops their capabilities and often anecdotally their skills The mentee develops their skills and capabilities.
The relationship is driven by the mentee The relationship is driven by the coach
The mentor helps you with solutions The coach helps you to see where you went wrong

In essence a mentor is like a sounding board, giving advice which the mentee is free to pick and choose from, and in some instances giving coaching advice to the mentee. The context does not have specific performance objectives.  A coach however, is helping the person to some end result, the person may choose how to get there, but the coach is strategically enabling, assessing and monitoring their progress.

So, when considering whether or not you need a coach or a mentor ask yourself what you really need here.  Do you trust yourself as a Leader to be able to find out the answers to your challenges yourself with some help, or would you prefer someone else to tell you?

For more information about our coaching and mentoring services give Michelle a call today on  07786 622344 or email

One life…

10 06 2010

I just read this brilliant quote from Steve Jobs, co founder and CEO of Apple, and had to share it with you alongside some thoughts:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

It comes from his 2005 Stanford Commencement speech where he talks about his life and how he, and his business, evolved.  See it here (around 8m 20 in):

Seems to me that so many of us spend our lives doing things in auto-pilot.  We stumble into our work and relationships often accidentally and live day by day, week by week living life without really seeing what it is we’re doing.  It’s only when something stops us in our tracks – often a rite of passage like birth, death, change in circumstance or major life event – that we wake up and look around at where we’re at.  Sure, we have our gripes and our groans about day to day living, but very few people seem to do much about changing their circumstances, rather accepting what’s been apportioned.

So Steve’s advice is that we all need to wake up.  Ask yourself:

  • Would you be happy doing what you do now every day of your life?
  • If not, why not?
  • What’s stopping you from doing what you love doing right now?  Even only a small part of what you love?

Steve says, “There is no reason not to follow your heart…Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

New year plans and projects.

5 01 2010

First things first I want to wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2010!  A new decade eh!   What will this one bring?

From talking to people and observing the chitter chatter on various Social Media sites, many of you have been spending time writing out your strategies and vision statements for the coming year and I hope you’re already enjoying putting these into practise.

I must say, it amuses me that so many people have “resolutions” for the new year and I’ve lost count of the number of facebook status updates talking about how people have already failed to achieve their new year promise.  A question…why is it we rely so heavily on December 31st to decide on a new way of life?  What if you decided to do something differently every month?

I digress.

I have spent the past few weeks without internet at home due to an early Xmas present from my telco provider (now thankfully resolved) and it got me to experimenting with my Mac and discovering the webcam facility!  So Talent Management Matters, the Creative Leadership is now with added personality.  Check out our latest VLog – that’s ‘video blog’…I never imagined using that word even only 3 months ago!

So what does this year hold in store for Creative Leadership?  Well we hope more of the same and that we can continue to help more businesses with their HR and Talent Management strategies in 2010, although it would be good for the soul if there were more resourcing activities than redundancy initiatives please…

We’ve added 3 new products to the spectrum including:

  • Outsourced HR Services
  • Leadership Coaching
  • Social Media and Recruitment

If you know of a business that you think would benefit from these services, then please pass our details on. We’d be glad to help

I leave you with the BBCs word cloud for 2010.

Happy New Year!


Ten Tips to guarantee your Job Search success

4 06 2009

We’ve all been given hints and advice over the years for what to do when job seeking; “Your CV should only be 2 pages long,” “You should speak to no more than 3 recruitment agencies” etc etc… In today’s difficult recruitment marketplace, where candidates are ten-a-penny, we, at Creative Leadership, thought we’d get the low-down from some of our expert recruitment colleagues and associates. Here are their top ten Job Searching tips;

1. Work out what you like doing and why you like doing it. Employers are looking for people with a passion for what they do. You need to demonstrate it.

2. Network – get yourself out there, maximise, maintain and manage your network. Your little black book is critical to your success no matter what level of seniority you are looking to attain. Ask everyone in your network for at least two recommendations to speak to who can help you, take up drinking tea and coffee and meet people informally who might be able to help you. Remember to focus your attention not solely on what they can do for you, but what you might do for them too.

3. Tailor your CV to what a prospective client/job requires. In fact, have more than one CV! It should be no more than two pages long and invite the interviewer to find out more about you. Make sure the basics are right – no typos in CVs and letters/e-mails, no obvious ‘generic’ applications etc.

4. Have something that makes you different from the crowd, and that ought to be something that meets an employer ‘need’ or ‘want’. What is your unique selling point? 

5. Use your cover letter to match the company’s TOP requirements. Make sure it’s specific to the job you applying for, highlighting your strengths in relation to the advertised role and why you are relevant for that position. Emphasise what you can do for the company and how you can add value to the business.

6. Prepare, prepare, prepare! Research companies you would like to work for. Employers want to be persuaded that you want that particular job in their organisation, not just A Job! Go for jobs that you know you really want and have the qualities for. Don’t waste your time with others.

7. There are now between 2 and 5 times the number of applicants for each role so the ‘war of attrition’ is even more pronounced. This means you have to be even more prepared to apply for more jobs and therefore endure more rejections. Therefore, persistence will be a key factor. 
Also, don’t be afraid to send your CV directly into HR for large companies thus by-passing recruitment agencies. 

8. Be well presented – Shiny shoes and a suit always get you through

9. Prepare and practice answers to Competency based interview questions. Use the STAR model when answering interview questions. Talk about the Situation or Scenario, outline the Tasks you undertook, what Action was required and what the end-Result was.

10. Be an effective communicator. Don’t interrupt the interviewer! Smile and be confident! 

Now, more than ever, it’s essential that you represent yourself perfectly.

Maybe you don’t have a CV and want a formula to create one. Alternatively perhaps you want help with interview tips and practice. Either way, Creative Leadership can help you with 1-2-1 career coaching or group workshops.  Here’s what some of our clients have to say:

“The experience was positive and challenging. It made me look beyond my comfort zone and forced me to analyse what’s important to me. I got to know myself better and as a result I was more motivated. I have started my new role full of self-confidence, knowing what I’m good at, believing in myself and with the determination to make a difference.”  E Godwin, Career Coachee 2008

Thank you for pointing out that the job interview I was going for wasn’t really what I wanted. I think sometimes it takes someone else to remind you what you have achieved and just because you have been made redundant it doesn’t mean you have lost all your ability and you don’t have to settle for second best.  I am not only going to focus on PT and teaching but think of the wider picture – I still don’t know what that is and I am still winding my husband up throwing business ideas at him while watching football! Talking to you really helped, it gave me the buzz and lift I needed to make my decision – thank you.”  C Wheeler, Career Coachee 2009

Ensure your career success. Get in touch with us at Creative Leadership today on or 01202 853647. Alternatively visit the website

Helpful tips for people looking for work

28 05 2009 I’ve been really, really busy writing the second draft of my workbook for people looking for a new job. This is to coincide with the launch of our seminars on 16th July for people who’ve recently been made redundant.

Find out more soon.

As a starter for ten I posed this question on Linked In today:

What’s the best advice you’ve been given when you are job seeking?
We’ve all been given hints and tips over the years for what to do when job seeking. For instance, “Your Cv should only be 2 pages?” “You should speak to no more than 3 recruitment agencies” etc etc…But what are your top tips for job seekers in todays competitive market?

So far at least five people have responded, mostly recruiters, with their helpful tips for jobseekers. If you’d like to see what they’ve written then follow this link:

Alternatively, for more information about finding another job get in touch with us today on or 01202 853647. Alternatively visit the website