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Drawing a line under 2020 and how we can grow in 2021.

Leigh Howes smiling summers day flowers in foreground

2020 for most, hadn’t quite worked out as planned.

That initial prime minister briefing that sent us into lockdown also kicked us off on the starting point on the famous change curve model by Kubler-Ross – ‘denial’.

The following steps on this curve are anger, bargaining and depression before we are even able to move into acceptance and meaning.

This process is similar to that of grieving.  How quickly we move through each stage depends on how many times we are dealt even more change, personal circumstances and our resilience.

I am a huge advocate that as leaders; the more self-aware we can be, the more likely we are able to respond positively to change.  As referred in the accountability ladder model, if we are able to see clearly the triggers that move us from our path of possibility into our path of limitation, we empower ourselves to move from ‘victim’ state, where things happen to us, and into the accountability mode ‘where we make things happen.’

We cannot be accountable and take ownership without awareness and curiosity in the first instance.

Covid is unprecedented, granted.  It has had catastrophic impact on us personally, in our businesses and across the global economy.  But it isn’t unlike other trauma or adversity that others have suffered before us.

How do I know this?  Because in March 2017, I was told I had an aggressive breast cancer and hit one of the darkest moments in my life.  I had to allow myself to sit with the news, to process it and dig deep to find the resilience I knew I had to move through the stages to reach the point of acceptance; so that I could look for the solutions where I still had control.

How you deal with most trauma, change, loss, adversity will be dictated by your strength of mind and your curiosity and openness to accepting the reality and taking ownership of your reaction to the situation you find yourself faced with.

Much of the emotions I have felt through Covid have been similar to those I experienced through my journey with cancer.

The good news; I truly believe with some insight and effort, it is possible to grow through adversity.  It could start with a reflection of what 2020 has shown you:

Acknowledge how you have felt and feel

It really is ok to not be ok.  The key is not to stay there.  Lean into the emotions.  When you have a bad day, accept it for what it is, a bad day.  Get curious about what made you feel this way.  Was it something that triggered you?  Was it an external event that made you feel this way or was it your own internal system that created it?  Listen out for the lessons about yourself but give yourself permission to sit with the emotions and let them be.  Tomorrow really is a new day.

Seek out and leverage your strengths

Perspective is a brilliant catalyst for positive change.  What have you learnt about your leadership, the way your business runs, those you support, your team, the way in which you work, where you work?  As a Strengths Coach, I define strengths as where you naturally draw your energy (rather than your competencies) – studies show that your performance can increase by a whopping 36 per cent when you are doing more of what you love in your work.  What can 2020 teach you about what makes you happy in your work and where you draw your best energy from?

What else makes you happy?

We have been forced into strange situations and environments that we may not have chosen.  Home schooling, sharing our home office with our partners, working remotely.  What have you hated? What have you actually enjoyed?  Do you want to do more of your work online?  Do you actually see the value in less of a commute to deliver for your clients?  How could you change this in your business model moving forward?

What else impacts your performance?

I know that the great outdoors is a tonic for me.  I need fresh air and daily walks to clear my head, close down the tabs and allow my creative juices to flow.  Therefore, it was imperative that I built this into my time during lockdown more than anything else.  Equally important is water and 7-8 hours sleep.  What about you?  What can you reflect on from 2020 that tells you more about how you bring your best self to your work?

Reward and Recognise YOU

Maybe 2020 didn’t work out as well as you had liked.   Maybe you operate in an industry badly hit from the pandemic.  Perhaps you decided that you would step aside from your work and concentrate on yourself and your family.  Whatever the reason, don’t compare yourself with others that you believe have achieved more.  We may be in the same storm, but we are all in very different boats.  Simply making it to the end of 2020 in one piece (even with some battle scars along the way) may be just enough for you.  Be sure to recognise the progress you have made, do not compare it to others.  Give yourself a pat on the back and maybe a little reward to acknowledge you made it through!

You may not have chosen 2020 and its lessons, but like a quiet wind it is whispering in your ear something that will be valuable to you as you navigate and plan out your strategy for 2021.  Will you listen and grow through it?


Should Mobile Phones be Allowed At Work?

An interesting question and an interesting debate.

I was delighted to have been asked in December to speak  live with Roberto Perrone on his Roberto Perrone Show on BBC 3 counties today chatting over whether  mobile phones be allowed at work?

Take a listen and it would be great to hear your thoughts.



Self Leadership

Leading your own business isn’t the easy option. It is highly possible that as yet, you do not even consider yourself a leader. But as the decision maker and CEO of your business, I promise you are and it is critical that you conquer this inner game of self-leadership; getting clear on how you want your business and your role within it to look and feel, to not only maximise your performance but most importantly drive your happiness and fulfilment alongside.

If you want to grow and scale a business that for the most part, you love, here are a few tips to get the foundations laid so you can scale and grow a sustainable business:



Simon Sinek talks about starting with why before you even venture down the how and the what. Darren Hardy in The Compound Effect also discusses the impact your why can have on your motivation.

Your business is the vehicle to achieving your why; but your why is the fuel in that vehicle, so you really need to get clear on this as part of your foundation setting, so you can build from the ground up.


If we strip back the layers and get to the core of you and your business, what is there? What is most important to you?

If you value honesty, integrity, compassion and time with your family; but you end up working with others who are ruthless and unethical and require you to work in the evenings and weekends; then you will end up resentful and drained as you are completely misaligned with what matters most to you.

Therefore, getting clear on this and aligning every decision, hire and new product gives you the best possible chance of achieving your best performance. This is as important when it comes to the hours that you work and the boundaries that you set yourself to ensure that you make time for you and those you care about the most.


When I discuss strengths; I mean what gives you the greatest energy in your work. When you are energised by it, you are likely TO already have it as a competency or have the potential TO be great at it. This doesn’t mean that every competency you have is a strength. You might have been in accounts for 20 years and be competent in data entry into an excel spreadsheet; you can still hate it – this therefore isn’t the strength I mean.

Research has shown that when you leverage your strengths (aka your energisers) in your work, you give yourself a whopping 36% chance of improving your performance.

Therefore, I urge you to get curious with yourself and understand more of what your strengths are – you can sense check this simply by seeing what you enjoy doing the most and look at how you can best leverage them in your work to help increase your joy factor and your performance.

Dream Clients

If the courtship is a nightmare, then the marriage will be a disaster!

You do not want to work with less than ideal clients. Instead of moulding yourself to who wants to work with you, figure out who you most want to support who is in alignment with your values, your beliefs and enables you to leverage those strengths we discussed too.


Your business model is the way you generate your profit, who you work with and the products and services that you sell.

Get clear firstly on the revenue you NEED to generate to pay yourself and to cover the costs of running your business.

Then comes the reverse engineering. You need to figure out how you will deliver your products/services.

Eg: if you are a service based business; how do you prefer to work? 1:1/group/online/in person. How many of your products/services do you need to sell and how often in order to hit your revenue goal?

Getting clear on your business model and product mix will then enable you to start to take steps to carve out your strategic plan to build and nurture your audience, generate leads into your pipeline through effective marketing and to get clear on your sales process in order to convert your leads into happy clients. Ultimately, it is these initial steps which will enable you to execute your business in a way that is fully aligned to what YOU have decided is most important.

Meaning that you have every opportunity to lead, grow and scale a business your way.

Leigh Howes


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