Insights Blog

Useful tools, tips and strategies to help your business learn, develop and expand.

The Lesson from Tongues in Tennis

You may be wondering what on earth tongues and tennis have to do with business coaching. One of the big differences between business coaching and business consulting can be that business coaches will teach business owners the how and why of important business actions and concepts – so that you can make the right decisions – whereas a business consultant often will just lay out the work that needs to be done.

One of the snippets of teaching I recently delivered involved an anecdote about tennis players Andre Agassi and Boris Becker…

You see, earlier this year, Agassi told the press about a bizarre-yet- crucial observation that had enabled him to defeat Becker (whom he had lost against in all three of their previous matches) from 1990 onwards. He had spotted that Becker’s tongue gave the player’s game away every time.

Whenever Becker was about to serve, he would unconsciously poke out his tongue as he tossed the ball into the air. Agassi had realised that every time Becker’s tongue went to the left side of his mouth, he would serve the ball wide; if it stayed in the middle, he would keep the ball in the central parts of the court. This subtle tick meant that Agassi was able to adapt his game accordingly and stay one step ahead of his rival in crucial moments. However, he had to also keep a fine balance so that Becker didn’t cotton on to his discovery! In the next 11 games, Becker achieved just one victory – with Agassi taking the glory for the other 10.

So what on earth has this got to do with business? Well, there are two major learnings to be had from Agassi’s revelation.

Lesson 1: Who is Helping Watch Your Plays?

Agassi learned about the tick that was the source of Becker’s downfall by carefully analysing Becker’s game and realising that this was a chink in his armour. Really, Becker’s coach should have been watching Becker’s game and identified this as a flaw in his game.

As a business owner, you could be Becker, and Agassi could potentially be your competitors. So who is helping you make sure that you aren’t giving away your next move? Who is checking your business for the holes where you could trip up, or the gaps where you are missing an opportunity to hit that metaphorical ball in the right direction?

Lesson 2: Are You Watching Your Competitors Closely Enough?

On the flipside, you should be keeping a close watch on your competition, so that you can match their moves and stay one step ahead at all times.

In my business coaching, I am frequently reminding clients that it is not enough to focus just on what they are doing as a company – they need to be acutely aware of what other businesses are doing, and keep on top of what the market is responding to. This is crucial to achieving growth and winning market share.

By sussing out the ‘Beckers’ of business, and identifying their weak points, you could develop growth strategies that are as strong, forward-thinking and undefeatable as Agassi.

Are you on top form in your game?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionSo many London business mentors and coaches are talking about how they can help you play a better game in business – the metaphor is definitely apt.

Book a free strategic review with us and find out how we can help be that real ‘coach’ in your business, and help you train to be harder, better, faster and stronger!

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A Boy Walked Into the Business Excellence Forum…

The London Coaching Group team, along with most of our clients, attended the Business Excellence Forum and Awards (BEF) last month – and our group took away 38% of the accolades.

The event was not just about awards, but also about coming together with over 1000 entrepreneurs and their coaches to learn from some notable figures. Among others, these included influential authors Dr. Marshall Goldsmith and Professor Steve Peters, as well as inspirational entrepreneurs such as Baroness Michelle Mone.

One of my clients, Stephen Reynolds from the award-winning Christmas Tree business Evergreen Christmas Trees (which took away a finalist award on the night for Best Marketing Campaign) has one of the youngest team members I have ever had the opportunity to coach. At just 14 years old, Stephen’s son Alfie Reynolds helps his father and older brother in the family-run business, and is clearly a bright and motivated young man.

Given my interactions with him, I knew that he would get a lot from the BEF so I extended an invitation to him to join his family at the event.

He was likely one of the most engaged people at the conference, and in the video below, he explains what he got out of the two days of talks…

The experienced entrepreneur may not find anything revolutionary in Alfie’s top learnings. However, you can see how invaluable it was for him to immerse himself in this environment to fuel his entrepreneurial drive.

Alfie proves that it’s never too early to start laying the foundations for becoming a great business owner.

You might want to ask yourself now – when was the last time you consciously put some effort into your business education?

Alfie has started investing in his business education already – and he’s already booked in for the 2018 Business Excellence Forum!

What can you commit to learning before this time comes around next year?

Ready to Kickstart Your Learning?

London Business Coaching Strategy SessionA large part of business coaching is about education – or ‘re-education’. Part of learning is finding out what you don’t know that you don’t know.

When we sit down with you for a complimentary strategy session, we take a close look at you and your business before you arrive and identify areas where you could improve – completely obligation free.

Why not find out where you could be doing even better than you already are?

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Super Achievers Are Incompetent

Most business owners feel some sort of pressure or stress from their business. Most of my clients feel the pressure because the business is growing and moving forward, so there is a strain they have to deal with.

How one deals with that pressure is the key distinction between those who achieve more and those who constantly struggle with no results.

The model that I share in this video is one that helps to explain where that pressure comes from, and also how to deal with that pressure.

It all has to do with how aware you are of your incompetence…

When you start to recognise the areas where you can go to a new level and that you don’t know everything – finance, marketing, sales, team management, planning etc. – then you can start to work on that area.

And then when you feel that growing pain – and you are conscious of the result you are gaining from that pressure – you can actually start to enjoy it as you take your work to the next level.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

Hi, this is Shweta from the coaching group. We want to talk about today is something called pressure. You might have heard of it or you might be familiar with it. Now the point is that when you are running a business there’s always a pressure. Pressure could be from the growth of the business or the lack of growth in the business. Now most of my clients they feel pressure because their business is growing, it’s moving forward and therefore they can feel the strain in their team management side of things sales, marketing, planning, you name it.

Pressure Always Exists

So recently last week some of my clients actually verbalize it and they’re like, sure, I’m feeling the pressure because it’s the core trend it’s the march right? So I’m like that’s good. That’s really good. That was my instant response. That’s really good that you’re feeling the pressure, because pressure always exists, but how you deal with the pressure is the key distinction that one needs to make.

The Key to Dealing with Pressure

What I did was I shared with them this model, because that helped them understand why there is pressure and therefore also gave them a perspective of how they need to deal with that pressure. And I’m really hoping it will help you as well. You might be familiar with this, but let’s let’s just pay attention to this once again, understand the fundamentals. Now, in business or in life if you think about it there’s some something called unconscious incompetence. It’s like a four year old kid who might not know that he or she does not know how to drive a car.

Conscious & Unconscious Incompetence

Right, so unconscious about the fact that the person is incompetent in driving a car. Then as the kid starts growing, you realize that there is this conscious incompetence.  The kid understands that a 12 year old or 11 year old wants to actually drive that car, because the person knows it is not allowed to drive a car, and does not know how to drive the car.

Now at the right age then, this person starts learning how to drive the car and think of your days when you started learning how to drive that car. You know you can, you’re so conscious of everything every movement on the road, holding on to the gear. It’s like changing the acceleration, changing the gear. It’s like if you’re in every maneuver, this light maneuver looks so stressful and magnified and you’re present in that moment. And you can feel the pressure, the strain on your body by the time you finish it off. That drive was finished.

Now think about when you are so comfortable driving you could listen to the music, could change the channels. You know you could look around comfortably, maybe reach out to your coffee mug. You can do these things because there is this unconscious competence which is sitting there.

Now let’s bring that analogy to the business. So when business owners are working on their business, take an example when my client is working with me, clearly they are not in the zone. Although there are a lot of business owners out there who are in a state of denial. They don’t even know that they’re incompetent in many areas and it’s totally unconscious effect. Sometimes a blissful state, but not really a good situation for the business. Once the client is in this zone where they understand that there is the next level for them and they don’t know everything, they want to become better in lots of areas like, as I said, sales, marketing team, systemization planning, finance, you name it. They are humble enough to say “I need to learn here.”

Building that Conscious Muscle

This is where, for example, I come into the picture. My team comes in the picture. And the client is actually working on that in that area. This is where they are. This is the muscle that they are actually building consciously, they’re becoming competent. But think about the strain that you felt when you were learning to drive that car. It’s the same scenario. You’re conscious of everything, you’re testing and measuring and applying different things. The business is growing, which strategy will work or will not work. The team is expanding and therefore you feel that growing pain in your business. Now. It’s very easy to kind of say “Oh it’s too much” but again I’m very lucky to have clients who are absolutely willing people who want to see through it and want to have breakthroughs in their business.

Enjoying Pressure

I think they enjoy pressure to a large extent because they know that it’s a pressure of the growth. It’s taking them to the next level. And then they reach here, which is beautiful. Unconsciously they are becoming Camberton in lots of areas things which were difficult become easy for them become very natural second nature. And then once again I’m coming into this picture. By the way, even this picture is where we are working with a client, but this is where again what we say is that come on let’s redefine your next level, let’s redefine. What are the next areas where you know you’re not still there, and it will help you achieve even more, become even better. What does that next level?

And then for the business owner on schist see defines the next level of incompetence, works on it, comes to this level and this level and therefore it’s a constant cycle. And that’s what super achievers do. They don’t just reach out and say “Yeah I’m done.” There’s always a next question saying “What’s next?”, “What’s my next level of competence which I need to build?” And therefore I want you to understand is that if you’re too comfortable in your business, either you are here or you are here.

For me they are dangerous zones. The areas that you need to be in are these and these. And if you are in these two areas of growth, then the pressure is bound to happen, but how you deal with that pressure is the distinction between average people and super achievers.

Think these frameworks could be useful?

These are the classic sort of frameworks that we use to help our clients to put their work in a light that makes sense, and ensures they are focused on real, sustainable growth.

Attend the next Web Event to discover more of these frameworks, and to find out how they could be helping your business discover new opportunities for growth.


The Silent Complexity of Your Growing Team

You are running a successful business, you have been working long hours, and now it is time to expand your team to manage the extra work.

This is a familiar scenario to most of my clients. Unfortunately, what often transpires is that when the team expands to meet the demand, the complexity issues that arise seem disproportionately extensive.

This can lead to you questioning your skills as a manager, a breakdown of company culture, and sometimes even less productivity than when your team was smaller.

In this video, I explain a formula that I share with my clients to help them get to grips with where this background complexity comes from. Once they understand it, they are far more in control and are better equipped to keep the team, the work, and the culture of the business intact.

When you view each new team addition as a set of relationships with your existing team members, rather than just an individual, you can prepare for that level of management.

Once you understand this formula, you can then employ the strategies that we teach to manage complexity that comes with growth.

That means looking at induction strategies (like knowing the best day to start a new hire) and maintaining team management systems (such as not being a “got a minute boss” and setting up a strong company culture), which ensure that your new team hires can slide into place with minimum fuss and maximum satisfaction and productivity.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

What I want to talk about today is the silent complexity that exists in your business. Now, when I’m working with my business clients and their business is doing well, it’s growing invariably, and they end up extending their team size because they need more capacity. Now at that point, of course they are focusing on the size of the team, whether it’s gone one and a half, two times, three times, but what really reminds them most of the time is that it’s not just that number of team members. It’s that there is another factor which is silent, which is there in background, but very critical one. And that straight away gives sense of complexity to our clients and therefore how could they best preempt those issues in the future and how to deal with those issues to make sure that the culture is right and the team stays absolutely productive at its best level so that they can move forward.

Business Formula

What I wanted to do was to share with you a simple formula and it might be interesting for you to calculate and to use that formula in your business. Now this formula is N squared minus N by 2. The N here will be the number of team members that you have in your business including yourself, and the output of this formula gives you the number of relationships that exist in your business.

For example, if it’s you and just another team member, so N is equal to 2 here. Now let’s put this formula and there is one relationship in the business, make sense right? Now imagine there is this new team member who comes on board because the business is growing and you have not two but three relationships here. Now let’s look at another level. Imagine the team is growing so they’re looking at 25 minus 5 divided by 2 which is 10 relationships in this business and the business is growing even more, in this case it goes to say 19 members so you’re looking at 81 minus 9 divided by 2 and it’s 36 relationships. The point that you need to understand and really focus on is that though from this stage to this stage it feels that the team has gone 3 times, of course it is right? From 3 to 9, but then if you look at the numbers of the relationships they have jump from 3 to 36 which is 12 times. Can you imagine the level of the complexity? Can you imagine the issue that can occur in this business if one is not aware of that?

And that’s what I wanted to convey that if you are facing this level of complexity because of the way your business is performing or something that you want even to get better. Then please feel free to reach out because if you don’t deal with this it has a potential to sabotaging your business growth and its potential.

Need a Team Alignment or Induction Process?

Business coaching is about so much more than working with the business owner. A large part is aligning the team and ensuring that the whole organisation is clicking together like perfectly shaped puzzle pieces.

If you want to know more about how we could help you with your team, book a strategic session with us and ask us about our Engage and Grow program.

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Stop Adding Value

One of my coaching clients was visibly upset at our coaching session recently. He was having an issue with how his team didn’t seem to be responding well to his feedback. They didn’t seem invested in what they were doing and were not giving 100% to their job.

We did some quick roleplays to find out how he was delivering feedback to his team members. In one scenario the team member’s work wasn’t very good, in another it was ok, and in the final one it was very good.

What these roleplays revealed was a big learning for this client and I thought I would share it with you…

In the end it is important to remember that people do not work hard because of you or your leadership. They work hard because they strive for what success means to them – and that often involves ownership over their work, and pride in their achievements.

So let them shine, and give them value by not adding value to their tasks.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

I’ve just come out of my coaching session by the client and a very interesting one, so I thought I’ll straightaway share some learnings from that.

The Problem With His Team Members

Now I’m sitting down with the director of the company and he clearly looks upset. And he’s like, Shweta, I’m so tired of, you know, giving feedback to my team members and it seems that there is no attention to detail, and you know they’re not really passionate about the work that they’re doing. In fact, it feels that they don’t have the sense of ownership of what they’re doing. And what do I do, I just don’t understand. I’m trying to help them, but it’s just not making sense. So I was like, OK that’s interesting and yes I do come across those situations sometimes in my coaching meetings, so tell me a little bit more about this.

So I was like, OK that’s interesting and yes I do come across those situations sometimes in my coaching meetings, so tell me a little bit more about this. Let’s, in fact have a roleplay, or some roleplays, and tell me how you go about those meetings.

Team Management Roleplays Revealed The Answer

So we did some quick roleplays. Okay. In which maybe my work was not that good in one roleplay it was okay. And the other roleplay was pretty good. And I saw and experienced how my client was going about that discussion. And on reflection, I said there is one thing you need to become better at. Which is stop adding value.

You can imagine to that comment he was like “What do you mean? I’m the director of the business. You know I’m the line manager they expect me to add value, what do you mean don’t add value?”

What Do You Mean Don’t Add Value?

And I was like, yeah, no actually it makes sense for you to not always add value. Because think about it like this. Once it becomes a habit that whatever the level of work is, if you are feeling the pressure of adding value just because you are the managing director or the line manager. It’s like the habit formation for the team, that I can never please this person, every time I’ll go to that person will actually add value or make changes or make additions.

And by the time they leave the room it’s no more their work. It’s your version of the work. Think about the ownership. What happens to that level of ownership? It just goes down with every point that you make. Every new suggestion that you’re adding in that document.

The Highest Compliment You Can Give to a Team Member

So the question that I really want you to reflect on is, say you say, do I really need to add value in all the scenarios? When is it best to add value which will give you that incremental upside? And when is it really good to say, “Well done. I can’t think of anything else. This looks good, go back and focus on implementation and obviously keep me updated.”

Now that is the highest form of complement a team member can get from you when you say “No, I don’t want to add any value. It just looks really good. You’ve done a good job there.”

Think about the sense of ownership. Think about what they would want to do next time. They want to have another scenario next time, similar scenario where you’re not able to add any value or you don’t feel the need to add any value.

But the main point is just because you’re the business owner doesn’t mean that you have to keep on adding value. Sometimes, you know, the best way to add value is not to add any value.

Need more team management strategies?

Managing your team is one of the typical things that our business coaching clients have issues with – so we have become very skilled at helping resolve.

If you’d like to find out if we could add some value to your business, then request an obligation-free review with us:

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