Start less, finish more

The challenge for many ‘leaders’ is the fact that they are naturally entrepreneurial and as a result like to get stuff started and turn their ideas, lots of them, into action.

On average it takes 66 days for something to form a habit and approximately one false start, to mean that a human being says to themselves “it was easier the way things were”. 

There are only so many hours in the day and if you don’t follow up on each initiative you’ve started, recognising ‘compliance’ and success and providing feedback where opportunities exist to improve, you’ll see a lot of false dawns and in turn a lack of the very success you seek.

So as it says in the title you need to start less; finish more. Remember you only get the prize when you cross the line; not for the number of races you’ve entered.

Of course…

Starting less and finishing more requires three things:

  • Prioritisation 
  • Sticking to the plan 
  • Holding onto your nerve 

All three are littered with torment for the ideas generator. But if you’re eye is on the prize, you are committed to the cause and you have people around you reminding you of the prize, you just might make it.

It isn’t all about holding back…

Keep on generating ideas but ask others to review them; building a committee of idea evaluators you trust. Once agreed, schedule phased roll outs and ensure you’ve agreed who will see each initiative through to fruition and BAU.

No matter what you do, don’t start more than you can follow up on; what gets monitored gets done as one of my old mentors used to say.

Questions to consider:

  1. What really is wrong with what you’ve started already?
  2. What makes you think your new idea will work any better?
  3. What would those you trust say, the ones who’ll give you an honest answer, not the thing they think you’ll want to hear? 

If any of the above applies to you or someone you know…

If any of the above applies to you or someone you know; get in touch. I’ve a track record of helping leaders bring initiatives to fruition and seeing the results they desire.

Whether you’d like me to listen to you, collaborate with you, advise you or a combination of all of the above. If you’re open and committed to excellence I’ll happily work with you.

Contact me here…

  • Twitter: @stefanpowell
  • E-mail: 
  • Phone +44 (0) 7736942382

Who am I? Stefan Powell…

I am yourleadershipcounsel, a father, husband, part time rock star and passionately bonkers about helping leaders get the most from themselves and their people.

What my clients have said…

“Stefan is a very skilled and talented coach who is able to use a broad range of techniques to get to the heart of any issue. He has a very reassuring, confident and diplomatic manner that instantly builds trust and respect whilst still remaining impartial. Having worked with him recently I felt fully engaged and energised throughout ,and he helped me to rationalise some complex business issues using multiple perspectives. A powerful and inspirational motivator- don’t hesitate to work with him!” 
Rav Bagri – Business Development Director – Santander UK – Corporate & Commercial


The 7 things your people must believe in to perform 

So you know you’ve got a great organisation, your senior team are the best you believe they could be and you’re pretty confident that you’re set up to win. 

You’ve taken the time to get all of your ‘ducks in a row’ but things still aren’t changing as quickly as you’d told your shareholders. 

Why? You ask. Well the fact is you probably know why. The question is do your leadership team, middle and front line managers? 

Here’s something to share with your people ahead of your meeting with them (I know you’ll already have booked one) and a few questions to get them to reflect ahead of the meeting too.

The 7 things…

  1. Your Mission 
  2. Your How
  3. You
  4. Your Leadership Team
  5. Their Colleagues
  6. Their Customers 
  7. Your Products and Services

1) Your Mission

A mission is your companies reason for being, what it does, who it serves and the difference it seeks to make to them and the wider world.

If your people don’t believe in your mission, believe that it’s attainable or recognise the part they do and can play in achieving it. You could have a long term problem.

People need a compelling reason to proactively leave their families behind at home and to do great work for you and if that reason isn’t big enough they’ll feel and act like and a number.


  • What’s is your companies mission and how compelling is it?
  • What evidence do you have to suggest your people understand and believe in your mission?

2) Your how 

You have a mission and a vision of what life will be like when you get there but how inspiring is the way in which you intend to do it? What Values will you live by and what behaviours will this promote?

Too often we state values and then behave in a way that is incongruent with them. Be the change you wish to see and ensure that your people believe in the way you (and ideally they) have decided you will get from where you are to where you want to be. 

If they don’t believe in your strategy, the methods by which you attract, engage and deepen relationships with customers and the platforms by which you do it; they’ll do a half hearted job.


  • How well are your values and strategy understood and bought into?
  • What evidence do you have to suggest your people understand and believe in your strategy and approach to doing business?

2) You

You must be considered by your team to have a strong C.O.R.E: This means being seen as Competent in your role, Open to the views of your team and their needs, Reliable and consistent and Equitable and fair in your approach.

If your people don’t believe in you, you’re in an interesting place. It is rescuable but it will require a considerable amount of openness and honesty on your part and considerable amounts of collaboration to earn trust.


  • How strong is your C.O.R.E?
  • What evidence do you have to suggest your people agree with you?

3) Your leadership team 

Your leadership team must be committed to the attainment of your mission and truly loyal to your strategy. They are the internal and external embodiment of your values and must ‘walk’ as well as ‘talk the talk’.

If your people don’t believe in your leadership team, believe that it has theirs, their colleagues and your customers best interests at heart you have an issue.


  • How aligned, believable and capable are your senior leadership team?
  • What evidence do you have to suggest your people believe in your leadership team?

4) Their colleagues 

Who we work alongside is so important. After all most of us spend more time with our team than we do with our families.

If your people don’t believe in why their colleagues do what they do and how they do it, divides will occur. Conversations behind closed doors will happen and you’ll see inefficiencies galore.


  • How strong is the bond between your team members and departmental teams?
  • What evidence do you have to suggest your people agree with you?

5) Their customers 

As human beings we like to associate with likeminded people. Recognising and believing that we can interact with and connect with people we understand, have affinity with and want to serve, will make the days fly by.
If your people don’t enjoy the company of your customers, be it internal or external, life will feel like a slog.


  • Who is your ideal customer and what are the benefits of focusing your efforts on these customers; to your customers?
  • What evidence do you have to suggest that your people understand and believe in your choice of customer and the fairness of your approach to customer segmentation?

6) Your Products and Services 

If your people don’t believe in the product they design, manufacture, market, sell and service then why should your customers.
If your people aren’t intrinsically motivated to eat their own home cooking then they will always fall one step short of truly advocating what they do and the products and services they provide.


  • Are your people truly advocates of your products and services?
  • What evidence do you have to suggest your people agree with you?

7) Themselves

Finally, your people need to believe in their own capability to deliver what is asked of them and that in turn the recognition and rewards you espouse can be realised by them personally.

If your people don’t believe that they have the required knowkedge, skills or resource to achieve success; you’ll be pushing boulders up hills.


  • Do your people have the knowledge, skills and resource to succeed?
  • What evidence do you have to suggest your people agree with you?

So there you have it, the 7 things my experience tells me you need your people to believe in. The starting question is: Do you?

If you’ve enjoyed this and would like more insights…

If you’ve enjoyed reading this and/or would like help with any of the above elements of leadership; I’d love to work with you. 

Twitter: @stefanpowell


Phone: +44 (0) 7736942382

Who am I? Stefan Powell…

I am yourleadershipcounsel, a father, husband, part time rock star and passionately bonkers about helping leaders get the most from themselves and their people.

What my clients have said…

“After Meeting Stefan it was his passion to understand the business and work with us as a partner…Stefan has been really valuable in guiding us as a company on our journey of cultural change, his passion to ensure we succeed as a company shines through…Thank you, we look forward to our continuing journey” Paul Hunt – Managing Director – Phoebus Software Ltd

7 Must Do’s for leaders… 

7 Must Do’s for leaders… 

If you want to be a leader it’s important you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Not for the faint hearted or for those that are only focused on what they can get out of it for themselves; leadership requires the determination to improve, no matter the personal cost and significantly more than innate ability alone.

Anyone can go on a course, apply for a leadership role but in order to become a leader you need to assure yourself you can do the following and then some:

1) Commit

Leadership isn’t a mantle you pick up and put down as you clock in and clock out; it’s a way of living and breathing.

It’s about living and breathing your values in the search of truth and delivery of outcomes for the common good and being at the end of the telephone ready to answer questions or pose them; day or night.

Leadership is about keeping your head when all around you are losing theirs (whilst inside you might be screaming); striving to be better than you were yesterday because you believe in being the best you can be and setting the best example.

Leadership takes absolute commitment.

2) Learn

Leadership is about learning about the world around you, in front of you and behind you. It’s about understanding people, processes, cultures, strategies and your arse from your elbow.

Learning takes time, reflection and an openness to being wrong and learning from it. Asking for help and ideas from your people just as much as seeking support from mentors or ‘elders’.

Leadership is about hiring people whom are better than you; having the self belief that you can provide an environment in which they will flourish and you will learn and grow too.

Leadership is about learning from yourself and others.

3) Practice

Leadership is about practising what you preach and striving to refine and improve what you do and how you do it. Not just what you say and how you say it.

It’s about putting in more hours practicing your speech, 1:1’s and board meetings than you took practicing to pass your driving test (anywhere between 20 and 40 hours).

Leadership is about asking for feedback and acting on that feedback, practicing until you’ve got good enough to show and develop others to walk beyond theirs and your weaknesses.

Leaders know that practice makes perfect and practice, practice, practice themselves.

3) Reflect

Leaders don’t just act they reflect and reflection is tough when you feel like you’ve little time to breath let alone pause and consider; what’s working well, what isn’t and what’s the best thing to do about it.

It’s about reflecting on the impact of a decision today, tomorrow and in the future. On your customer, your people, your performance and your organisation before and whilst making a decision.

Leadership is about reflecting on how far you’ve travelled and how far you have yet to go; reflecting on whether you and your people can make it the whole way or whether one of you has to go, for the greater good.

Leaders reflect to ensure they start faster and finish stronger.

4) Plan

Leadership involves planning and not because someone says so; because you know it really does lead to P.P.P…

It’s about identifying what good looks like, your current reality and identifying what you need to do to bridge the gap; not just tomorrow but the next day and the next day and the next.

Leadership is about recognising that there is always pressure to act, but only the weak lash out; the strong bide their time.

5) Prioritise

Leadership is about recognising that there are only so many hours in a day and miles in a mind.

It’s about starting less and finishing more and knowing what to start, what to stop and what to continue.

Leadership is about knowing who to invite to the table and who not; picking the individual over the many and the many over the few.

Leadership is picking your battles to ensure your people and customers win their war.

6) Put people first

Leadership is about people not processes, policies or machines and the recognition that without people you are nothing is paramount.

It’s about winning hearts as well as minds and helping people to be who they wish to be whilst helping you and your customers on their own journeys.

Leadership is about recognising that we all have wants, hopes, fears and needs and knowing that only when these are addressed are we able to deliver on our promises and not fall on our knees.

Leadership is about people becoming who they were destined to be.

7) Juggle tomorrow

Leadership is about tomorrow; poor management is about today.

It’s about recognising that tomorrow is effected by a single misplaced action whilst holding onto the pragmatic; all is not lost today.

Leadership is creating a tomorrow worth fighting for and a legacy beyond bricks and mortar and sometimes that requires putting off until tomorrow that which cannot be git right today.

Leadership is executing today and tomorrow in the same breath.

It’s not a complete list…

This list isn’t a complete list of attributes, skills or a crib sheet for success; I’ll save that for another day. But If you can step up to the plate and really embrace these elements and believe you can do them you can without doubt be a leader.

The question is do you want to…enough

Questions to consider:

  • How are you measuring up?
  • What would it mean for you to be able to stand confidently against each of these elements
  • What will it mean for you if you don’t?
    If you’d like more insights…

If you’d like help with any of the above elements of leadership; I’d love to work with you.

Twitter: @stefanpowell
Phone +44 (0) 7736942382

Who am I? Stefan Powell…

I am yourleadershipcounsel, a father, husband, part time rock star and passionately bonkers about helping leaders get the most from themselves and their people.

What my clients have said…

“Stefan has been fundamental in bringing about behavioural change in the leadership population”. Paul Waters – Leading Retail Transformation Programme – Santander

How to deliver a G.R.E.A.T presentation

How to deliver a GREAT presentation

Presenting; one of life’s great emotional roller coasters. The request to stand in front of other human beings and talk is enough to strike fear into the hearts and minds of even the most experienced senior managers and leaders.

Ask some of those I’ve worked with and they’ll tell you. “I can’t believe I’m 53 years of age and still scared of standing up in front of people…” said one to me.

Having been asked for presenting tips on many occasions, I thought I’d take a few moments to write down the one tip that has helped more people present than any other; even the good ones. The tip? It’s the foundation structure of a great presentation.

During the best presentations I’ve seen my clients complete there have always been 5 stages:

  • Grab attention
  • Relevance
  • Engage
  • Action
  • Test for commitment

Grab attention

Identify and practice how you will grab your audiences attention and make the focus of the time before them you and on what you’ll present.

For example; Good morning or hello and welcome or play music, clap your hands or even stand silent waiting for those around you to pause and listen.

The most important part is to stop the room dead and create anticipation for what you’re about to say next.


Now you’ve got the attention of your audience; help them to understand the benefits of listening to you as quick as possible. You do this in three parts:

  • Aim
  • Itinerary
  • Meaning


State the aim of your presentation. For example; by the end of this presentation or session I want you to be able to…


Share with your audience the topics you will cover in the order they will come. Expressing the agenda you will cover you will ensure your audience know what’s coming and recognise it’s worth staying until the end.


Now it’s time to share what you want the presentation to mean to your audience. Knowing your audiences wants and needs helps co spiders my here. For example; What I want this to mean for you is that you feel…we are able to…we are all clear…


Having expressed the relevance of your presentation to your audience now you need to identify engage your audience.

By engage I mean interact with your audience. Insert questions to get group participation. Ask the audience to stand and for half the room to sit down if you want to represent “…50% of all people…”.

Show visuals, play music, provide handouts (being careful not to hand them out at s time that will distract from what you’re saying), move purposefully around the room or towards the crowd; resist the temptation to do a Michael McIntyre and pace back and forth.

The most important part is to make your audience feel part of the journey and want you to succeed by being part of it.


Having grabbed attention, hooked your audience in with relevance and engaged your audience throughout its time to ask your audience for action.

If you don’t want your audience to think, feel, do or ask someone else to do something differently why are you presenting?

The number of times I hear; I’m just giving information. My question to you is why are you giving the information if it’s not to create change you might as well talk to the wall.

If you don’t want to specify the action you want ask the audience what they will do as a result of your presentation and then look to agree consensus.

The most important part is to make your audience want or choose to act. The presentation you deliver before asking should be designed to create the momentum for that request.

Test for commitment

Having asked for action; the most effective presenters I’ve seen and work with test the commitment of their audience before they leave the stage.

For example; whose with me? Can we do it? Who’ll be the first to complete this?

You’ll tend to find that the quickest to respond (genuinely) are the more committed.

A significant benefit of testing for commitment is that it can prevent you having to go back weeks later and ask for it again or…

This will ensure you can challenge why not if they’re not committed and focus your whole session on gaining commitment.

Overarching tip

In my experience a lot of the fears of presenting can be reduced significantly by a) knowing what a good presentation consists of and b) writing a presentation to that structure and practicing, practice and practicing again.

Having structured your presentation in the way outlined and practiced it; now it’s time to:

  • Trial your approaches with smaller audiences to increase your comfort and confidence levels.
  • Score yourself for each of the letters of G.R.E.A.T after you’ve presented and identify what you could have done under each letter to make your score higher by one.

Questions to consider:

  • How are your presentations measuring up?
  • What would it mean for you to be able to stand and deliver presentations with confidence?
  • What will it mean for you if you don’t?
    If you’d like more insights…

If you’d like help with putting a presentation together or help with the remaining nerves once you’ve practiced get in touch; I’d love to work with you.

Twitter: @stefanpowell
Phone +44 (0) 7736942382

Who am I? Stefan Powell…

I am yourleadershipcounsel, a father, husband, part time rock star and passionately bonkers about helping leaders get the most from themselves and their people.

What my clients have said…

“I spent two days working with Stefan after which I came away feeling very motivated and eager to try out my new found presenting skills and techniques. Stefan is a master of his art as well as an excellent t coach and I would recommend him to anyone looking to improve either their own presentation skills or those of their team.” Ian Bradley, UK Business’s continuity and resilience manager Santander UK.

Customer experience Lost: My train journey today

Customer experience lost: My train journey today.

I and another gentleman have just helped a lady onto the 16:24 train (from Sheffield to Reading) with her bags and small child. We helped rearrange luggage to move her suitcase out of the aisle and then made sure that three other women had a seat; two of whom had children.

As I walked down the aisle one of the women we’d helped said there should be one of you on every train and I smiled and said thank you.

And then I sat down and thought for a moment…

Do you know what?

Do you know what; I agree with her, BUT, it shouldn’t have to be another passenger; although I’m grateful it is because it demonstrated that a sense of community still exists.

In my view, it should be one of the team employed to deliver service and customer experience. Can you imagine that?

It wouldn’t cost anymore money than is spent now; as kindness is free. There were only two of us who helped our fellow passengers. On the train there is often a conductor, driver and refreshments attendant on hand – one more than made up our number.

Conductors role

Now imagine if the conductors role was to walk down the train and check that everyone was ok, had found a seat and that their luggage was stowed in a safe and secure way.

Imagine if their role was to speak to children and then and only then asked for payment. What would that mean for customers and in turn job satisfaction and commercial growth?

Imagine how different the experience would be if railways had to give a 50% refund if you’d paid for a ticket but couldn’t sit down; a 25% reduction for having to sit with luggage on your lap and a 10% refund if the toilets, restaurant of wifi was out of order. Imagine that; what would be different?

I have seen great stuff; don’t get me wrong

Now before anyone says that they individually provide much of what I’ve said; I would like to recognise that I have seen wonderful behaviours by train crews on my travels. Indeed, the refreshments attendant was kind courteous and accepting of those people gesturing what they wanted, rather than speak to her, because they were too focused on their phone calls.

My question is does the ‘imagine’ state happen enough and if it did what impact would if have for customers, commerce and in turn (aspirationally) for our national sense of community.

Consumer revolution

I say let’s start a consumer revolution and demand more of what costs nothing; showing you truly care.

This revolution must begin with train companies engaging, supporting and challenging themselves and their people; changing what they measure and the behaviours they seek in line with truly customer centric values; only then will their people be empowered to show how much they care for their customers and people.

In turn, people like me wouldn’t feel the need to spend a part of their journey typing posts like this instead of relaxing after a wonderfully challenging week.


Who am I? Stefan Powell…

I am yourleadershipcounsel, a father, husband, part time rock star and passionately bonkers about helping leaders get the most from themselves and their people.

Read more testimonials here: Testimonials

I’m tired of the leadership/management debate…

I’m tired of the leadership/management debate…

Yet another Linkedin post; what’s the difference between leadership and management? Arghhh!!!!

I cannot help but be struck by the continued confusion that many in our profession – ‘leadership’ – development create where they seek to create clarity. 

By continuing to define a difference between leadership and management we lose the opportunity to create a new overarching term for those with the responsibility for achieving predetermined outcomes with and through others. 

The reality in practice…

The reality in practice is that in the modern world anyone with that responsibility, must in order to be truly effective, possess the competence and capabilities of both. For some reason we continue to create an impression that they are so very different that they are functions of different people. Worse still, on many occasions, this approach exacerbates the limiting belief that management is subservient to leadership and we in turn disenfranchise those with ‘manager’ in their title, raising on a pedestal those deemed to hold leadership positions. 

Starsky without Hutch…

Your truest test are your people and they recognise that their greatest ‘boss’ ever, empowered them when they were ready and drew them in for counsel when it was needed. In my words leadership without management (in the same person) is like Starsky without Hutch or Sherlock without Holmes. 

It’s less about the what and more about the how…

I believe that we need a new overarching term and wish we’d spend the countless hours we do debating the differences on solving, instead, the conundrum of how we help people to actually do both. It’s less about the what and more about the how.

And yes that might mean a change of brand name for me – what does it mean for you?

Who am I? Stefan Powell…

I am yourleadershipcounsel, a father, husband, part time rock star and passionately bonkers about helping leaders get the most from themselves and their people.

What my clients have said…

“Stefan has been really valuable in guiding us as a company on our journey of cultural change, his passion to ensure we succeed as a company shines through…Thank you, we look forward to our continuing journey” Paul Hunt – Managing Director – Phoebus Software Ltd

12 ways to inspire…

12 ways to Inspire…

One of the greatest feelings in leadership has to be being told that you have inspired others. It’s a magical feeling that brings an incredible sense of achievement and pride and shines a light on the impact you have on others.
Long after the bricks and mortar you helped to build have been bulldozed, the policies and processes you oversaw been replaced and the shareholders you appeased found a new focus for their investments, your ability to inspire will enable you to leave your greatest leadership legacy.
Being inspired makes people reach for the unattainable, try harder than ever before, and stand up for what your organisation stands for in the face of adversity. It means that your people talk about the lessons they learned from you, the responsibility you empowered in them and that your values and approach live on. Think about your best boss…
That’s great, but how do you do ‘it’
That’s great, but how do you do ‘it’; inspire others? Here’s 12 ways that I’ve seen work wonders on the inspiration front. Let me know if you can think of more.
1) Do what you say you will do
Too often we promise things in the heat of the moment to appease and maintain credibility. When we fail to fulfil our promises we begin to erode the belief your people have in everything you say.
2) Treat people equally but differently
Your people have an internal sense of what is right and fair. The treatment of others in a way that creates the impression of favourites within your people, for example, will create a divide. When your people feel that they will be treated equally but that they will be considered as individuals with individual needs, they will come together.
3) Provide quality time
Nothing says more to your people about how much you value them than the amount of time (no matter how busy you are) that you are willing to spend with them; especially when it adds value.
4) Discuss your own weaknesses and your journey to overcome adversity
We tend to share less about ourselves, when we feel that we have done all of the opening up. As a leader the ability to share your journey and the challenges you have faced means that your people will believe that they can fulfil their potential and that you won’t judge them on the road to success. 
5) Listen to your people
When you take the time to listen to your people they feel valued, you learn, they learn and you connect to a much greater level. Think about how you feel when someone listens to you and how different it feels when you’re talked at. 
6) Help people overcome the barriers they face
People feel great when they are doing something they feel good at and it feels like nothing can get in their way. When you help your people to unlock the door to their success they and you feel great and you will have empowered the individual or team to deliver the value they seek. In turn, you will have created a connection with those you’ve helped that will last a lifetime.
7)  Ask other people for their suggestions
None of us have all of the answers and to pretend otherwise is fool hardy. When you seek the suggestions of those around you, you say I value you and believe in your capability.
8) Demonstrate belief in others by giving them responsibility for important stuff
Remember how it felt the first time your parents let you go into town on your own? Your people feel this way every time you empower them to make decisions and take action – no matter how senior.
9) Thank others for making mistakes
This recognises that your people are human, that they had the bravery to try and that you value initiative. What’s more it means they’ll try again and no doubt succeed beyond even their wildest dreams.
10) Invite feedback from your people
This demonstrates openness, respect and a lack of ego and you’ll get some valuable insights into how you can be an even better leader too.
11) Be your values
It’s easy say what you stand for and far less to act congruently at all times, but you have to or at least acknowledge when you haven’t. To act in a way that flies in the face of what you say undermines everything you say. For o leader there is no such thing as “do as I say, not as I do”.
12) Hold people to account

It is a human trait to choose the path of least resistance and it’s far too easy to say “if you want it bad enough you’ll make it happen”. We all fall off the horse sometimes and (maybe not in the moment) in the long term we’re usually grateful that someone challenged us to get back on it.
13) Let people be they best that THEY can be

I thought I’d throw in an extra one for free – you’re unlucky to be in the end of this one.

Its one thing to develop and empower your people; quite another to seek to create mini me’s. The very thing that stands out about you inspires others is your individual character. So bring out the best in them and let their light shine. 

If you’d like to talk through…

If you or your people would like to talk through any of the above, drop me a note or a call, I’d love to speak with you

Who am I? Stefan Powell…

I am yourleadershipcounsel, a father, husband, part time rock star and passionately bonkers about helping leaders get the most from themselves and their people.

What my clients have said…

“I always come away from a meeting with Stefan re-energized, re-focussed and brimming with enthusiasm for the world. Not only is he insightful, provocative and intelligent in his comments & questions … he’s also great company!”

Joanna Moyle – Director – Iviva Consulting

Read more testimonials here: Testimonials