Breakthrough with Making Great Leaders.

Ok – so you’ve been working for ten years. Your education is finished, you’re getting along fine, but inside there is a frustration. How to get to the next level? Play corporate politics? Push your boundaries internally and externally?

Breaking through to the next level of your career can be difficult, especially if you are not sure about the best way to develop yourself.

  • You want personal success, but also to deliver for the business.
  • You have had ideas that you are sure will work, but getting them accepted can be daunting.
  • You want to develop your personal life, to be healthier, but haven’t worked out how to make professional and personal ambitions compatible.

With Breakthrough from Making Great Leaders, you will be in a position where you can make all those decisions successfully. The coaching is personal. You are not sitting in a lecture theatre, you are engaging with a maximum of 9 others. Tim Taylor knows you are not the same as everyone else. There is not a one size fits all solution, there is individual attention to what you need from the coaching.  

And when you walk out of the formal coaching sessions, you are not walking away from Making Great Leaders. Tim Taylor will be arranging to meet you for follow up sessions, and you will have each other’s numbers on your phones. Tim regularly supports his clients with help and advice, and sometimes just an independent ear to talk things over.

To find out about the Breakthrough Development Programme in October Click Here.

Which company would you like to lead – Apple or Samsung?

Two great companies - two very different leadership styles...

Tim Cook is the leader at Apple. He is up there alongside Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos as a famous tech leader. He had the unenviable task of replacing perhaps the most admired and loved innovator of the past 50 years, Steve Jobs.

This week he has had the enjoyable task of telling the stock market that Apple has delivered above expectations, always a welcome message for investors. They are seeing double-digit growth in almost every market, and their latest iPhone X has not sold quite as many, but they are getting a better price. The elasticity of demand in action.

Meanwhile, Samsung has seen a decline in their sales of the direct competitor for the iPhone, the Galaxy S9. Who announced it? Samsung. Not a person, but the company, Not one person but “executives” are quoted.

I Googled the same question about each brand. Who Leads Apple/Samsung. Look at the results.


The Apple results show the people, the Samsung results show leads.

What we are seeing is a difference in leadership, culture and branding. The leadership in Apple is visible. They are easy to find. They are also prepared to carry the can. If Apple makes a bad move, the shareholders will be gunning for people they can see. But they are also cheering and clapping those people when they make the right decisions, and Apple make more right than wrong moves.

You can find out who is the leader of Samsung if you dig about a bit, and in South Korea, they are public figures (particularly as one, Lee Jae-yong is in the slammer for corruption).

There are two types of leadership going on here. The visible, responsible, engaged, public leader that is Tim Cook, and the invisible and corporate leadership of Samsung.

If you were given a choice of leading either company, which would you select? There is no right or wrong, it might be that your personality suits one more than the other. You might be thrilled by the opportunity to stand on stage and get wowed to the rafters, or that might be the last thing you ever want to do.

Leaders do not have to fit one category of person, but they do need to decide what type of leader they will be. Breakthrough Leadership Coaching helps you uncover your strengths and how to maximise them to be the best leader you can be. Working with Tim Taylor and a small cohort of fellow leaders, you will be given the tools to lead effectively.

The next Breakthrough Leadership Programme is in London in October, three days leading to three months of engagement and learning how you can use your skills and experience to become a leader.

Find out how to Breakthrough to the next Leadership level here.

No one wants to tell a CEO-owner that their baby is ugly

separation = feedback powerful

Building a company is a very personal matter. Anyone who has ever started a business from scratch knows that they feel sensitive about every aspect of the business, like a parent you are proud and protective. Good feedback is welcomed with a smile. Bad feedback, on the other hand, is usually met with a defence.

No one wants to tell a CEO-owner that their baby is ugly, or even that they have some blemishes because they don’t want to deal with the defence mechanisms, usually displayed with at least a touch of anger and aggression.

As a leadership coach and development consultant, it’s my job to go in and do just this, to fearlessly point out the good, the blemishes and the plain ugly. To do this well, I have had to adopt numerous strategies to get past the angry stage. In one case I start feedback sessions with “we need to go to lunch” which has become code for “I have some ugly feedback, and if we go to a restaurant you’ll think twice about getting angry.”

It is not that my clients don’t want to hear feedback, it’s that it feels very personal because they are all working so hard to build a good company and a great place to work.

This issue is not one that only founders face, many caring executives running businesses or institutions feel the same pain when confronted with feedback that is not as good as they hoped.

Everything and everyone is connected. What happens in one area has a butterfly effect in another, this can make the possibility of creating a great company seem too complicated.

The power of separation

There is power in stepping back periodically and separating yourself from your business. Developing this ability is key to using feedback to maintain the good and address the ugly.

It requires a mindset shift created by checking into your beliefs about you and the business.

  • You are not the business, and it is not you.
  • Your actions matter and so do those of your leaders.
  • You don’t have to fix everything yourself.
  • Your leaders will take responsibility for the culture and performance.
  • People come to work to do a good job.

Overseeing the leadership behaviours of your leaders should receive the same attention as your financial performance. Admittedly, the data sets are not as clearly defined or as well organised as management accounts, but it is still possible to collect and assemble data on leadership and use this to make decisions and build strategies to grow the business into a great company.

Tools, Values, Language, Artifacts, Myths, Stories and Rituals

Leadership is an experience people get working inside a company. It is experienced through the interactions people have with their manager and other leaders.

Tools and Language

We use tools every day; spreadsheets, PowerPoint, Word, email, SLACK, meetings, briefings, conference calls, and so on, but it how we use these tools to share information, collaborate and manage that provides that basis of the leadership experience we give to others.

It is therefore essential to also adopt leadership tools to enable you to get the most out of your interactions with others. These can include tools that allow you to understand your people to tailor your approach to their needs. Tools that enable your managers to build a shared vision that aligns their objectives and priorities.

Adopting leadership tools will allow your leadership team to create a language about leadership and strategise together about building a sustainable performance culture.


Values are the foundation stones to build a culture that supports your business ambitions. These exist within everyone that comes to work for you. Creating a healthy culture requires values to be acknowledged, talked about, understood and lived, this is not something managers do to their people, quite the contrary, this is something a leader does for their people.

Leaders need to address values continuously to ensure they create the DNA they want for their business. It is healthy to allow values to be interpreted uniquely by each group within the organisation; this is an organic and fun way that helps people find real meaning and connection to the company’s culture.

Stories, Myths Artefacts and Rituals

Humans have been using storytelling to communicate concepts and complex ideas since the dawn of language. Cave painting was the antecedent of PowerPoint and used to teach, record history and inform a community. From these stories and artefacts, we can determine a lot about our ancient ancestors.

Similarly, the people working in your organisation can determine a lot about expectations through the stories they hear, the images that are used to teach them and how history is reported.

Leaders (and leadership teams) that pay attention to the stories they promote, the rituals they use and the artefacts they create are superior to those that allow these crucial elements to exist by accident.

Your baby never need be ugly if you take leadership development seriously.

Humility = Great Leadership

Becoming aware of Ego


To develop humility in leadership you have to learn about you and become especially aware of your ego. The ego is your sense of self.  Your boundaries; a feeling of being you. Ego gives all of us definition in the 3-dimensional world:

”This is my body. This is my mind. This is me. These are my preferences, my limits – my, me, mine.”

Ego is a necessary component of human life. It informs you of your choices in the world and it prevents you form being harmed. It gives you the power to act and keeps you feeling independent and strong.  It allows you to value your uniqueness and, when properly tended to and channeled, prepares you for greater service to others.

However, ego is by definition limiting.  Its function is to keep you safe, to contain you. The ego understands only that which it can grasp; “I am safe because I have a house, money, food in the fridge” is typical ego reasoning. Putting security in that which can be seen is what the ego does.  Also the ego thrives on comparison. ”Why does he get that and I don’t?” is a familiar phase from your egos repertoire.

For these reason the ego it finds it easier to generate fixed mindsets.  “When I have X I will be a success.”  “When I have Y I will be more important.” These limitations create rules and belief systems that can make it hard to become a great leader.

Why is it difficult for senior executives to form teams?

Most people believe teams outperform individuals. However, this is not always the case, and certainly not when it comes to top teams.

I have met many CEOs who have told me about their frustration trying to get their top executives to act as a team.  They talk about silo thinking and lack of the four C’s; cooperation, collaboration, communication and compromise.  Listening to their stories, I understand why they want teamwork, but I am always struck by their misunderstanding of teams.  The fact that how they work together depends on the structure and purpose of their meetings and the choices they make implementing a work-group process or a team process.  I think the four C’s might make life more enjoyable, but I am not convinced that these behaviours alone can improve the performance of a team.


Solving your dilemma


Watch a few meetings, and note two things; the purpose, and the way members are asked to participate.  After a short period of observation you will notice a number of similarities. Notably, most executive meetings tend to fall into a one of a number of categories; readouts, where members give each other information; governance, where members discuss specific propriety issues; policy, where members decide on principle actions to be adopted by their organisation; and strategy reviews, which examine planned versus actual.  The nature of these meeting and how they are structured makes teamwork unnecessary to achieve the outputs required, therefore trying to force the participants of these meetings to be more of a team is counterproductive. 

These types of meeting are designed to use a Working-Group, not a TEAM.   They require a strong, focused leader to manage the agenda and work through each topic.  Individuals are accountable for their piece of the work, whether that’s a report, a policy update, or information regarding strategic decisions.  The group’s purpose is the same as the broader organisational mission and individuals produce separate work products that add value to the agenda.  These meetings need to run efficiently, and the measures of effectiveness indirectly influence others (such as the financial budgets, headcount, benefit schemes etc.).  Inside these kinds of meeting senior leaders use the 4Ds, they discuss, debate, decide, & delegate.

This working-group was defined in ’93 by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith in the HBR article The Discipline of Teams.  A Working-Group is highly effective and appropriate for senior executive meetings.  Time is at a premium; everyone is a competent professional in charge of their piece of the pie, and required results are well understood.


Is it ever appropriate for senior executives to act as a team?


The answer is yes when the propose requires teamwork; this is when it is important for CEO’s and other senior leaders to be precise about their definition of a team and what they are trying to solve.   I always remind CEO’s that a team is only required when there is no obvious solution to a problem and no single person can solve it.

Let’s define a team.

A team is a small number of people with complementary skills and knowledge who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and an approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.

The discipline required for effectively forming and operating as a team is very different to that needed to run a work-group.

Each element needs to be in place.

Small means between 2 and 7.

Complementary skills is a diversity of skills such as creative, process, people, task, financial acumen, visioning, sales and production.   A diverse and complementary skill-set aims to ensure that the team can see the problem from many perspectives, all with equal merit, and can find a solution that is a product of the team’s thinking, not one dominant player.

Being committed to a common purpose encompasses two elements, commitment to stay with the team and work through issues, and common purpose means a shared goal or objective.

Performance goals are agreed amongst the members and measure outputs as well as the quality of the team’s interactions.

Lastly, an approach for which they hold themselves accountable means that the team agree on the way they will work as a team.  This is a mixture of values, rules of engagement and the problem-solving models they plan to utilise.

Successful teams spend time considering how they work together and make adjustments to improve performance.  They review how each person is contributing; asking each other for suggestions to improve; talking openly about feelings and performance without blame, and they understand that are subjugated by their purpose, not my organisational hierarchy.     Each member knows that they win only when the team wins.

Where to begin?

Once everyone understands the definition of a team, the CEO, or Executive taking the lead, lays out the problem to be solved.

The next step is critical.  Who is needed to solve this problem?  Forming a team that can be successful, requires members with complementary skills and the capability to make decisions.

Once the problem has been defined, and the team has been selected, they will need a process for working together. Team meetings are very different from work-groups.  Firstly, the leadership is shared amongst the members.  Secondly the meetings are messy, the agenda is open; teams value conflict, and are comfortable letting topics lie unresolved over multiple sessions.  Not every meeting ends in resolution, and it may be necessary to start over several times to find the most valuable solution.

Once the team is formed allow them to progress without interference, offer coaching and mentoring but not drive the solution.  The solution must belong to the team so that ownership and accountability remain shared within the team.   While oversight is always important,  trust is more important; teams need to know that they are trusted to find the answers this is the only way to build the capability of teams.

Think before you choose


Many meetings are designed to use a workgroup because of the structure used the outputs required.  Choosing to work in this fashion is a perfectly acceptable approach to executive leadership.  Individual leader structures are fast and efficient and work well when one person really does understand what is needed.

The most important consideration is the time/value equation. Establishing a top team requires time to build high performance, so it’s always worth asking if the rewards merit the investment.  The next consideration is whether your top team is aware of the diversity of the members and is willing to value the mix of complementary skills and knowledge. Organisational status, as in job titles, are not part of team working. Next, consider if the mix is fit for purpose, i.e. can this group of individuals  deliver the goal?

Lastly, consider the long-term benefits.  Building the leadership bench strength in your organisation requires opportunity.  In teams, the leadership role shifts among the members giving opportunities for less experienced executives build up their knowledge of what works and what doesn’t when enabling a team to achieve its goals.  The collateral benefit is that executives who learn to use teams in this way are more likely to cascade the practice inside

their part of the of the organisation, thereby building the overall leadership capacity of the organisation.   They will also learn how to make the crucial choice between workgroups and teams and deploy the right organisational structure appropriately.


Where do executive teams find opportunities for teamwork?

Complex issues where the answer is not an extension of, business as usual, is a great place to mine for opportunities.  These include business turn-a-rounds, vision building, new business model creation, value proposition design, new product strategies, integrating acquisitions, market disruption, and innovation projects.

These types of challenges have common characteristics:

  • The solution is not obvious, and obvious solutions will not deliver the paradigm shift required.
  • The solution requires a complementary skills-set
  • There is an urgent need to find a solution
  • There is a clear advantage for using a team over a workgroup
  • The rewards are worth the risk of investing time and energy

The answer to why is it difficult for senior executives to form teams comes down to the choices they make about what model fits the purpose of their meetings.

There is no doubt that teams need time together, they need to work on real issues and learn how to be a successful team by following the deceptively simple rules of the discipline of teams.

A workgroup is fit for purpose.   A team acts differently from a workgroup, and that is good when that is the most appropriate choice.   Remember, the events in life and business will continue to challenge all of us, the response we chose creates the outcome we experience.


We are the masters of our destiny










Abolish the myth of THEM

The tip for success in 2018.  

The myth of THEM leaves you believing you are separate from the problems you see in others. For 20 years, I have been a witness to, and party in, this delusional story that always begins with this sentiment, “When these people show better leadership we will be able to……….” this is what I call the myth of THEM.

Back in 1950 Albert Einstein had noticed the same behaviour and wrote these words in a letter to Robert S. Marcus. “A human being is part of the whole, called by us “universe,” limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness”.

Because we experience looking out upon the problem, we see it separated from us. I have noticed that the observers are often delighted with themselves for noticing the issues, which in turn reinforces the most seductive part of the delusion, It’s not me!

The question to ask after hearing the myth of THEM begin is;
What part do I play in all of this?

As Einstein posits, we are all connected in what we call the “universe”; therefore, we are all connected to the company where we have observed the challenges.

This leads to the irrefutable truth; there is no THEM there is just US.

Einstein goes on to warn that the delusion of separation is a prison that restricts our personal desires and limits us.

As a leader, you must free yourself from this prison by widening your circle of compassion to embrace all the people connected in your company and beyond. You must learn through personal awareness that the whole has more value and that the behaviours you see are, in part, created by you.

Your power to create change and build a better company begins when you tear down the delusion of THEM and take your place in US.

good luck in 2018


“The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are.”

― Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi 13th century

Advanced Management Program

give your managers the tools they need to align their talent

Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash


You have taken the first step towards joining a powerful global community of leaders who are committed to defining the future.  Leaders who know their imagination and dedication can shape the future

MGL’s Advanced Management Progam is a 3-day Masterclass with a Six-month follow-through process that will culminate with you implementing leadership tools and techniques that will measurably change your life.

When you complete the Masterclass, you will recognise what makes you exceptional. You will understand how to leverage your strengths and harness your emotions to maintain a laser focus on your goals.

You will be on your way to developing the kind of clarity of purpose that has been the foundation of all great leaders.  You will have the tools to create a shared vision with your team and understand how to maintain your confidence and a leadership mindset.

Ask a Question Make an Enquiry

What participants say….

“MGL inspires managers to embrace leadership and implement change.”

– SVP Abu Dhabi



“The challenging ideas enabled me to grow my teams and deliver greater results.”

– IT Executive based in NYC




“ The MGL team demonstrate visionary leadership.  They connect effectively with each individual and make relevant actionable proposals for leadership improvement.”

– CEO Hong Kong

Blaming Kills……

productivity, innovation and competitive advantage.....

Some years back we built a tool to help managers understand Mindsets and how to maintain, what we termed, a leadership mindset – i.e. focused on vision, values and goals.

 The premise being, everyone’s mindset shifts because of emotional triggers. Great leaders counter this natural phenomenon by creating a vision they are committed to, by defining values to hold themselves accountable and setting goals to maintain momentum.  Without defining these elements, leaders are just as prone to following their emotions as anyone else.  In effect, triggers cause a shift in mindset, moving us from a flexible, open mindset to a fixed, closed mindset.  A tell-tale sign that this mindset shift has happened is an outbreak of blaming.

 When leaders blame or allow others to blame productivity takes a hit, as does morale and culture.

 Blaming kills productivity because it diverts energy away from the important work of delivering the vision to unproductive work, such as defending yourself, playing politics, inventing proof, worrying, stress, distracted thought patterns, gossip and extra-long breaks to ruminate on the problem of being blamed.


Why do people choose to blame others?

 The first reason is blaming is an excellent way to defend yourself. Blame helps you deflect attention to someone else or something else, which in turn allows you to deny the reality of the situation and displace the accountability. By doing this, you can avoid examining your flaws and maintain your self-esteem even though you are probably damaging someone else.

 Secondly, blame is an attack tool. It is often used to hurt colleagues and partners, by calling their competence or motivates into question.

 Thirdly, it is much easier to blame others than it is to assess the situation objectively, to develop an informed picture of what is happening, and assign accountability and responsibility to all the parties involved.

 Blaming requires less effort and gives you an emotional win – like a jolt of cocaine, you feel good fast but only for a short time. The real problem lives on after the blaming stops.

 Everyone lies! Read Feldman’s “The Liar in Your Life”, and you’ll be both surprised and sobered by the reality of lying in everyday life.

Feldman’s work shows how easy it is to lie and blame someone else even when you know you are at fault. He also notes that the more you play the blame game, the more you lose.

What has this to do with leadership?

One of the cornerstones of great leadership is awareness. If you accept that everyone lies at some point and everyone blames to attack or avoid responsibility, you must develop tactics to counter the effects of this behaviour in both yourself and others close to you.

The Performance-Life-Cycle is a tool that helps you notice your behaviour and recognize the emotional triggers cause you to lose focus on vision, values and goals. This tool also provides a safe way for those close to you to talk about their triggers and behaviour.

Unlimitedly, the cure for blaming is open dialogue in a safe environment that allows people to explore what is happening for them and to build trust in resolving problems openly

Centred Leaders

It is so easy to begin your day rushing frantically to work. However, that perceived value of getting in early is often lost because of the stress you experience.

Choosing a different path will help your productivity precisely because it reduces feelings of stress and overwhelm.

Being centred brings you to a calm place within yourself, where you can notice your inner-self, your energy and your connectedness to the energy around you.

When you take time to acknowledge you as a being without labels, without tasks, without obligations, you will find a calm serenity that will help you keep your perspective on what truly matters in your life.

Noticing that there is a space between hope and disappointment, success and failure, joyfulness and sadness, between passionate and indifference, where you can be still, reminds you that calm can exist within the chaos of daily work.

This sense of tranquility will help you be more productive, make better decisions and better choices.