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Sally Phillips

Leadership Essentials

Tips to support the transition from manager to leader

Why don’t we just sign off on this and go and have a martini?


Made for existing managers and aspiring leaders, our Leadership Essentials pick up some of the more strategic aspects of leading a team. The collection includes ten e-learning courses and 33 short videos. Starring Sally Phillips, Robert Webb, Tony Gardner and Shobna Gulati.

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Available as video or e-learning courses



Changing things for the better and stuff

Identify enthusiasts, engage with them and make them your champions. Help them to spread the word and encourage others to get with the programme.



Toxic assets

Engage with gatekeepers. Identify those people that you have to convince to make change possible. Express the benefits of the change in the language each gatekeeper can relate to, and keep gatekeepers informed and address any concerns they may have.

Own the change

Own The Change:

I don't want to cause any panic, but-

Own the change in your organisation. Take personal ownership for the change programme. Show that you believe in what you are trying to achieve, and be the first to model the changes that you are looking to achieve.



Bury it with all the other projects we don't talk about

Persevere when the going gets tough. When you encounter obstacles, work through the problems and keep everyone with you. Be positive and believe wholeheartedly in the importance of what you’re doing. Learn and adapt but keep your sights fixed on the end result.



What has change ever done for us?

Address the concerns of resisters. Identify those people who are resisting the change and listen to them, taking their views seriously. If you can, try to get them involved as active participants.



Uh, there's a...mouse? And he' a submarine.

Give your team time to think, before you meet. Create a safe space for sharing, and don’t allow ideas to be shot down. Look for opportunities to combine ideas and create new and better ones.

Fostering Innovation

Fostering Innovation:

Sit down and tie yourself up again!

When fostering a culture of innovation, reward employees for taking ownership of their own problems and coming up with solutions. Encourage an outward view – looking for inspiration from the world outside the organisation. Give employees the scope to carry forward their own ideas as far as they are able.

Unleashing your creativity

Unleashing Your Creativity:

All the thinking has clogged up my brain pipe

Let your subconscious go to work – time pressure stifles creativity, which needs an incubation period. Be ready for ideas to flow at any time – always have a recording device or pen and paper with you, including during the night.

Act swiftly

Act Swiftly:

Confuse them! Distract them!

Act swiftly. Take prompt action to stop the problem getting worse, and take responsibility for dealing with the problem.

Communicate Fully

Communicate Fully:

Jimmy, let's keep this between us

Communicate fully in a crisis. Know who you need to contact. Keep your team, customers and suppliers informed if they will be affected.



Now that's insensitive

Consider how others are likely to react emotionally before you act. Recognise why and modify what you do accordingly. Encourage your team to be open about how they are feeling without responding to what they say negatively.



Three against one, you don't stand a chance

Be conscious of the impact that your emotional impulses have on your behaviour. Become more aware of your personal moods, emotions and drives and what causes them. Plan to avoid those situations which trigger negative emotions.




Recognise the effect your moods are having on others. Try to control disruptive impulses, perhaps by counting to ten or breathing slowly. Try to suspend judgment and think before acting. For example, don’t send emails when you’re angry.

How you behave matters

How You Behave Matters:

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Evil Club!

How you behave matters. Your team will judge their workplace as ethical or not based on the way that you behave. Don’t compromise ethics for the sake of pressing business goals. Weigh up your options daily and choose the most ethical course of action.

The only way is ethics

The Only Way Is Ethics:

But it's not against the law, technically?

Ethics are for everyday. Talk frequently about ethical values. Explain how these apply to the work of your team, and explain that being ethical means doing the right thing, even when you’re not required to.

Everyone's a teacher and everyone's a learner

Everyone’s A Teacher And Everyone’s A Learner:

We don't really have a mentoring culture down here

Encourage your team to share their expertise. Be open to reverse mentoring, and identify good potential partners for mentoring… encourage them to establish clear goals and expectations.

Learn from every success and difficulty

Learn From Every Success And Difficulty:

Why don't we just sign off on this and go and have a martini?

Encourage debriefs after every success. Mistakes are fine, as long as you learn from them. Look at the reasons for difficulties and plan to avoid them in the future.

Make formal learning work

Make Formal Learning Work:

Just send them all off on courses

Only schedule a formal course when it represents the best way to address the learning need. Don’t use them to abdicate your responsibility for staff development. Follow-up and check progress.

Avoiding conflict

Avoiding Conflict:

It's fine. It's just...banter.

A good leader is not afraid of conflict. Gather up the courage to tackle conflict swiftly – if you ignore the situation it will only get worse.
Remain calm and focus on the issues.
Listen to all sides of the argument, treating both parties with trust and respect.

Being loved

Being Loved:

Bezzies forever, love Bad Leader.'

A good leader is not desperate to be loved, so be prepared to make decisions that provide the best solution to a problem. Accept that you cannot be loved by everybody – this is one of the challenges of leadership. Look to improve the negative effects for people adversely affected parties but without compromising the decision.

Control freakery

Control Freakery:

Rachel will breathe when I tell her to breathe!

A good leader cannot be a control freak. Don’t feel you have to make all the decisions just because you are the leader. Involve your team in important decisions or delegate to them. Give your team the space to breathe – a sense of autonomy is a great motivator.



Don't tell them about the specials board now! I'm wrapping this up!

A good leader is not a ditherer – make a quick decision when the situation demands it. Don’t be autocratic – involve others as needed. Be open to modify your decision if better information comes available.

The importance of small talk

The Importance Of Small Talk:

But it's boring! There I said it.

A good leader can do small talk. Engage with the people you meet. Ask questions and show an interest. Look for mutual value from every relationship.



I now rule over you all from the fourth floor

A good leader is not vain. Be confident about your strengths but aware of the room you have to improve as a leader. Be open to feedback from others about your role as a leader, and give credit to all those who contribute to successful performance.

Deal with problems

Deal With Problems:

Couldn't you have blown it up a bit more carefully?!

Be prepared to deal with problems. When the chips are down, it’s you, the leader, who has to deal with the situation – don’t try and shift the blame down the line. When things go well, it’s the person who’s done the job that takes the credit. Find out what happened, why it happened and put it right.

Have a clear vision

Have A Clear Vision:

Face down in the river of regret

Have a clear vision. Recognise that if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re likely to end up somewhere else. As a leader you need a vision of where you want your organisation or department to go. Involve your team in clarifying your vision.

Show them how it's done

Show Them How It’s Done:

Clean up on aisle three please!

Show them how it’s done. You need to model the behaviour you want others to adopt. Be visible – not stuck in an office somewhere. Setting an example means not avoiding the unpleasant jobs, so show you can get your hands dirty.

Show you believe

Show You Believe:

If you were puppy, I'd put you DOWN!

Show you believe in your team. Look out for actions that deserve praise and be quick to do it. If you need to point out problems or mistakes, show faith in the person’s ability to get it right. Don’t give up on them – you’re always looking to build belief and confidence.

Avoid the ego barrier

Avoid The Ego Barrier:

I didn't go wrong! It was bad luck...

Avoid the ego barrier to decision making. Don’t take it all upon yourself. Your ego could be a big obstacle to team thinking.

Imagine the best and worst case outcomes

Imagine The Best And Worst Case Outcomes:

It's the coolest thing since roller skates

Once you have developed a sharply focussed question and given yourself choices, you need to assess your options. Imagine the future and the best, and worst, case outcomes.

One question, several possible answers

One Question, Several Possible Answers:

Any ideas?! Is not a sharply focussed question.

When you’re making team decisions, first develop a sharply focussed question. Then give yourself choices. Be flexible, avoiding rigor mentis – a rigid mind.

Forming and storming

Forming And Storming:

Ok. Call me when this gets a bit more strategic.

When forming a team, take a strong role in directing them. Establish objectives and responsibilities, and build good relationships. Storming will mean you must resolve conflicts, provide support and remain firm in the face of challenges.

Norming and performing

Norming And Performing:

Sorry - I get annoying when I'm nervous.

In the Norming stage, take a step back and help team members to take further responsibility. Share controversial views and address difficult issues.

During the Performing stage, give the team space to make decisions for themselves. Recognise contributions and award credit where due.


Our videos and e-learning courses come with handy infographics and workshop guides. Take a look at an example of the infographics from the Leadership Essentials…

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