Ideas and Insights

From clinician to leader



Recently we had the privilege of spending a day with clinicians working in emergency departments from across Australia and other countries.

They identified one of their greatest challenges, as in many other professions, is the transition from working as a technical specialist to a leader of technical specialists.

Read more…


Questions are more powerful than statements


One of the most powerful means of engaging people is to ask a series of high quality or powerful questions.

What makes a powerful question?

      • It is simple and clear
      • It is thought-provoking
      • It generates energy
      • It focused inquiry
      • It surfaces assumptions and clarifies meaning
      • It opens new possibilities

Questions to clarify outcomes:

What do you really want? What is important about the outcome for you? Is it possible for you to achieve?

Questions to stimulate reflective and deeper level thinking:

What is it about our working relationship that you find most satisfying? Why might it be that our working relationship has its ups and downs?

Questions to clarify meaning:

What or how specifically?

Questions that begin with WHY?

Remember to use caution when asking  questions that being with WHY.

Unless carefully crafted they can illicit a defensive response in others or force them into a mindset of post-hoc rationalization, both which are usually not very helpful if good communication is desired.


Trust: cause, effect or process?


Trust is an emotion based on past experience. In many circles people say “trust is low”, we must fix it and then the team will perform. This view sees trust as a cause of something else, i.e. low trust causes low performance, usually.  Put simply, this is a logical fallacy – if trust is an emotion it arises from something else, not causes something.


Trust is effect more than cause – the level of trust people have with one another arises from a whole host of factors, including expectations and experience, to name but two. Therefore working directly on improving trust is a futile endeavor. One needs to work on other things that result in the effect or increased trust. Read more…


Not stepping up – pitfalls in making assumptions



Like many other phrases, “stepping up to the plate” has entered our lexicon from the sporting world.

Literally it means for a batter in baseball to move near home plate in preparation for striking the ball when it is pitched. Figuratively it has come to mean  —

To move into a position where one is responsible and ready to do a task. Read more…


Stepping up to the plate – tackling the un-discussables



Stepping up to the plate – surfacing an “un-discussable”

There is one way of stepping up to the plate, that isn’t for everyone, yet reaps huge rewards. It’s by exposing the silent taboo subject, the ghost issue that is impacting and hindering an individual, a group or perhaps an entire organization.     Read more…


Better conversations with your teams – Part 3


This is the third part in a series of 4 articles on a step by step guide to improving conversations with your team. After you have thoroughly prepared and got the conversation underway there are 4 important aspects to actually guiding conversations with your team.  Read more…


Handling the grey


When someone does something that is blatantly wrong, most leaders know what is asked of them in how to respond. If it is very serious then the usual consequence is that the person responsible is removed from employment.


But when someone does something that is borderline how should you respond?


There are many guidelines within well-established companies on how to handle both the blatant and the borderline. We offer you one simple model that can help you in your decision-making and may be a good adjunct to that which your company already uses.


The table below is derived from the work of Royal Dutch Shell Company.  It was originally developed as a map for handling safety decisions but can in fact be used for guiding managers and leaders across a wide range of situations.






Consequence for the individual


1 Compliance Did they follow all procedures and best practices? Receive encouragement and recognition for good working practices Provide praise and recognitionEnroll person as a coach to guide others
2 Unintended Did they think they were doing it the correct way? No blame and receive training to raise awareness of correct practice Provide simple guidance re techniques
3 Routine Other people here do it the same way. Whole team to receive coaching for condoning rule breaking and not intervening Coaching for improved performance around techniques and expectations
4 Situational I can’t follow the procedure and still get the job done! Receive coaching on the need to speak up when rules cannot followed and explain why that had not happened and work had continued Coaching for improved performance around expectations, consequences, boundaries and KPI’s
5 Optimizing I thought it was better for the company to do it that way. If the violation was to improve performance or to please the supervisor then should receive coaching or discipline if repetitive. Coaching for performance for the individual and their supervisor re expectations, consequences, boundaries and KPI’s
6 Personal Optimizing I thought it was better for me personally to do it that way Formal discipline and formal warning. This is beyond coaching
7 Reckless I meant to do it my way & I thought I would get away with it! Final warning or dismissal for willful and reckless violations This is beyond coaching.


If the behavior or event falls into the range of Level 2 – 5 then, as a leader or manager, you are required to intervene and become a coach for the individual concerned and possibly his or her superior. If the event falls into Levels 6 or 7 then you should probably be asking for direct assistance and support from your superior and the HR function.


Tim Dalmau


An end to hallucinating.


Ongoing conversations in organizations are more important today than ever, due to the dynamic environments in which we find ourselves.  Whilst being so much more connected to the wider world has proved invaluable in so many ways, it has not been without its challenges: changes in far away countries have far reaching consequences on many scales be it large business, small business or our day-to day lives. Read more…


Better conversations with your team – Step 2

Master-for-Ideas_and_Insights_700px_group_of_3In the last newsletter I introduced a 4-step process for improving the quality of your conversations with your teams. I then covered the first, and perhaps most important step, PREPARATION.

But once that is done and you are about to get underway how do you start the conversation?

Step 2 – Starting the conversation

  1.   Welcome
  2.   Setting context and expectations
  3.   Check-in Read more…

Talk, Inc.


Talk, Inc. How trusted leaders use conversation to power their organizations by Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind, was named the Best Business Book for 2012 by the magazine, strategy + business.


For this reason I thought it was worth a read, and it may be of interest to some of you.


This book is aimed more at large organizations, and how they can recapture or simulate the cohesiveness of many small companies, who benefit from proximity between all in the company, and from clearer line of sight by employees to plans and priorities. Read more…


Buy Tim & Steve’s Book

''A truly useful and practical book'' Rich Shapiro, EY

Value Added Free Training

Sign up to receive regular training and insights to further your business