Leadership & Love 

Since my last blog, I have had the privilege of spending time with some amazing young people in Romania and North Tyneside. What I have seen, and listened to has not only inspired me but also confirmed even more my faith in love as a real gift of leadership. 

The world sometimes looks at the word ‘love’ and completely underestimates just how broad and how deep it is. Without love, any relationship is going to struggle to both survive and grow. Hence the importance of knowing intricately the members of the team you are leading, whether it be personal or professional.
Love and adversity is an amazing emotion and sight to behold. However, the pain of arriving at this point is a leadership education which very few of us have the capacity to understand. 

Two instances recently stand out; one which totally challenged my heart and opened up my vulnerability to a point so far in my life I have not reached. 

The other confirmed that if you persevere in love with a compassion lead wisdom, that person will eventually listen and believe that the gifts they have been given at such a young age can actually be used to change the lives of peer group and family. So much so that an open speaker telephone conversation with this person’s mother sharing the gifts of her daughter had her in tears, and asking for forgiveness that she had not given enough time to see the gifts her daughter has.

So I guess to wrap this up, what I’m really saying is; telling and showing someone you love them is one of the most important gifts of leadership at any level, and is certainly not a sign of weakness. 

Advertisements

‘Speak to the world of what I have done’

‘Life is a game of inches’, as Al Pacino once said in his famous team talk. For me, my life has been a game of injuries in the sports arena which have helped shape who I am and what I stand for.

The journey will incorporate joy, pain, agony, anger, wisdom, character and values.

April 1973

Two days before Sunderland’s legendary win over Leeds United at Wembley. As captain of the Sunderland Reserve team, four of the first team squad for the final were recalled to play in this game. On the night we kicked off against Middlesbrough, within two minutes I was lying on the turf fighting for my life, not knowing the incredible life-saving journey which lay in front of me. Serious internal injuries including a severely ruptured spleen were now beginning to take their toll and, within a matter of hours, could kill me. Our physio that night, Johnny Watters, and Coach Martin Harvey saved my life. The resulting emergency operation allowed me the 12 months recovery period required to pick up the pieces of a once flourishing career.

Life lesson learned: Even when you feel that everything in your life is totally planned out and you’re ‘on your way’, events beyond your control can change your direction in a matter of seconds. I learned that life is a very precious thing.

20141201_141103.jpg

February 1979 

Whilst playing in front of 23,000 people in Pretoria for Arcadia Shepherds, a badly broken right leg ended my professional playing career. Having been part of the first team to play a black player, and visit Sowetto Stadium where we were the first white team to win, I didn’t realise at the time that history was in the making regarding the apartheid in South Africa.

Life lesson learned: You live by the sword and die by the sword. Having been a very competitive player, and at times playing outside of the rules in terms of physical presence on the football pitch, it was only a matter of time before my life was challenged. This was the start of my faith journey.

20150712_224042.jpg

August 2001

Whilst playing in the over 40s squash final, I reptured my right achilles tendon. The pain from this injury was by far the most excrutiating to date. Having just started a new leadership role the week prior, I was under severe pressure to continue working and thanks to my boss at the time, who was incredibly supportive to me, I was able to continue the rehabilitation process which took seven months.

Life lesson learned: Even though squash is a one-to-one tactical game based on skill and resilience, I learned that team work from the people that really matter in your life is so important.

 

November 2014 

Having been a professional sportsman for 20 years, my left knee joint finally gave way and I had to have a complete knee replacement under an epidural anaesthetic. During the worst time of my knee injury, I was taking the maximum allowed in pain relief, gabapentin 1800mg, and this was catastrophic for me when I had to wean myself off them. It took me six months to recover from the severe side effects of the withdrawal, namely depression and mood swings.

Life lession learned: Hard work and resilience to get back to full fitness accompanied by a new realisation and understanding of mental health plus the issues it can throw at people.

dad knee

November 2016

Radical prostate cancer was diagnosed and immediate surgery to save my life took place.

Life lesson learned: Refer to my previous blog post here

 

For me my life is a constant journey of learning, receiving and sharing and is based around the famous J F Kennedy quote; “It’s not what they can do for you, but what you can do for them.”

 

Success to Significance…

I have had two phone calls in the past few weeks, both from head teachers whom I have been working with for the a couple of years.

Both their personal development and leadership skills were identified as particular areas of focus and mentoring also became a huge part of their journey.

The two phone calls were pretty similar really; both teachers had taken their schools from ‘Notice to Improve’ to ‘Good with Outstanding features’ in their recent Ofsted inspections.

One of the most pleasing aspects was that their leadership and management sections were extremely strong, showing outstanding empathy with both student and parental needs.

If I analyse my work in the last seven years at m.h Coaching & Leadership, I guess the real emphasis of what we do is all about relationships and people. Many thousands of books have been written on the theory of leadership and education, but in reality, success really comes down to trust, honesty, respect, humility, empathy and self-belief.

And of course never forgetting love.

Everyday in my business, it is a priviledge to be allowed into the lives of so many people and to be able to help build legacies for the future.

FB_IMG_1451730436449

 

‘Your protection will keep me safe’

I guess it’s time to pick up from where a very personal illness stopped me in my tracks.

Last year I was diagnosed with radical prostate cancer, which required immediate life saving surgery. Sitting opposite your consultant who has just informed you that unless he operates immediately, ‘you will die’, has a profound effect upon your immortality.

I realised that being a leader, being a husband, being a father and being a son all merge into one with the same principles applying at every turning point.

It was not fear that consumed me at this moment, but a knowledge of the impact this news would have upon my six children. As a father I know intimately how each of my children handle emotion and have always encouraged them to allow their feelings to be known. This, I feel, is a massive strength and as the reality of my personal situation began to unfold, how each one of them would react came straight to my heart.

One would listen, then refuse to believe, one would logically decide ‘this happens every day and you’ll be fine’, one would smile and say ‘it’ll be ok’, one would realise the enormity but look on the positive side. One would totally break down and for two days be unable to function, and finally one would follow me around like a lost sheep for two weeks whenever I was there.

In reality leadership is all about:

  • Love
  • Emotion
  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Listening
  • Story-telling
  • Transparency
  • Authenticity

So there it is.

I then went on to achieve a full recovery, thanks to the brilliance of my consultant, the love of my family, the prayers of my friends and above all my faith.

Being a small business, cash flow is obviously a huge part of its day to day operation. My clients pre and post surgery have been absolutely amazing. Two of them paid invoices twice; one for my business and one for myself – an unbelievable gesture which allowed me to recover without any financial worries.

Since my return to work in January 2017 my diary is full until April. For this I say a humble thank you.

Not what they can do for you, what you can do for them…

Currently at the mid-point of a running a unique life skills programme which envelops a whole school culture and ethos, working with the leadership team, one-to-one sixth formers, pupils from years nine, 10 and 11, and importantly delivering a mirror image values based learning opportunity to the parents.

This is allowing me the priviledge of observing and coaching values, beahviours and attitudes from top-down within the whole school environment.

 

 

 

Positioning People to Find Their Own Growth

2016 has seen both the consolidation of existing customers, as well as securing a number of new business opportunities.

Exciting new projects with Liverpool University, League Football Education and the Local Enterprise Project are progressing well with further meetings taking place within the next ten days, which will hopefully see the culmination of an exciting announcement.

Exisiting projects with SAFC Under 18s and Middlesbrough FC under 18s academies are now well under way with team work, leadership and the ‘Manager’s Team Talk’ already completed. Feedback has been very positive and already 2017/18 seasons have been renewed. Our unique careers programme has also been completed with the second year scholars at SAFC academy.

Education still plays a huge part in the growth of m.h Coaching & Leadership with established programmes such as, ‘Likeability Leadership for Head Teachers’ and ‘Vision, Values & Behaviours’, for both school and governing teams, continuing to develop and consolidate educational standards.

We have also completed a two day sixth form programme based around life skills with St Joseph’s School, Hebburn, and are about to embark on a similar project with the Year 10 boys of Churchill College School, Wallsend. Again, this will include development of both their personal and academic life skills, self-esteem, confidence, resilience and team work.

 

 

Listening and story telling – a huge part of leadership DNA

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been busy researching further into the importance and relevence of listening and story telling as part of individual leadership DNA.

The ability to understand the basic elements of listening and story telling, once mastered and understood, can lead to real advancement in both communication and relationship development.

I intend to introduce these skill sets into my leadership portfolio by the end of October, and see this as a real opportunity to help clients better understand not only themselves, but also the importance of these behaviours.

It will be an exciting close to the week for m.h Coaching & Leadership as I will be working in partnership for the first time with Stuart Blyth, CEO of From Pitch to Boardroom at UCFB Burnley, beginning with my ‘Manager’s Team Talk’ in the home dressing room at Turf Moor.

Next week’s blog will give you an update as to how my debut went with the students.

   images