Transformative Power of The Leadership Coaching Journey

Scaling the summit of agile leadership isn’t a walk in the park. It’s a challenging trek, requiring preparation, resilience, and a trusted guide who understands the terrain. At Humble Associates, we are your trail guides on this transformative journey, using our expertise to help you navigate the path of leadership development and organisational agility. 🏔️

Base Camp: The Humble Approach 🏕️

At Humble Associates, our approach to coaching is like preparing for a major expedition. We provide a base camp — a safe and supportive environment where leaders can gather their resources, understand the journey ahead, and align on the mission. The first steps on this journey involve understanding the International Coaching Federation (ICF) competencies, which form the bedrock of our coaching philosophy. As ICF-accredited coaches, we are equipped with a robust set of tools and techniques to guide leaders on their trek towards the peak of their potential.

The Trail Ahead: Agile Leadership and Cultural Change 🧗

The journey towards agile leadership is a steep climb, but one that promises vast vistas of productivity, creativity, and organisational well-being at the summit. However, reaching these heights requires more than a shift in working practices — it demands a cultural transformation.

Leadership, in essence, shapes the culture of an organisation. Hence, the adage: “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You can’t teach culture change; you have to coach it. We believe that coaching is the most effective way to effect this change, particularly for those at the helm of organisations — the leaders. Whether at the middle, senior, or top levels, leaders can greatly benefit from coaching, amplifying their impact and effectiveness.

The Leadership Circle: A Compass for the Journey 🔄

Like any significant trek, the journey to agile leadership is best undertaken as a team. Leadership can be an isolating activity, and our aim is to create a community of leaders, a team that is invested, excited, and committed to the cultural shift towards agility.

This is where the Leadership Circle Model comes into play. This model is our compass, guiding us as we navigate the complex terrain of leadership development. It connects patterns of action with the underlying habits of thought, revealing the relationship between behaviour and the internal assumptions that drive it. It’s a tool that aids leaders in reflecting on their leadership style, understanding personal biases, and recognising how they can mould their approach to fit within the agile culture of work. It’s a tool that helps reveal the treasure trove of information that often remains buried, bringing the key issues to the surface instantly.

Scaling the Peak: Our Empathetic, Invitational Approach 🌄

The Leadership Circle Model is not only a compass; it’s also a climbing aid, assisting leaders in scaling the steep slopes of change. It provides the framework for understanding and shifting leadership patterns, thereby enabling leaders to more effectively meet their complex and critical challenges.

Finally, the last leg of our trek involves reaching the summit — achieving organisational agility. Our approach here is based on empathy and invitation. We understand that agility is a choice each leader and organisation must make. With the Leadership Circle Model as our guide, we can help leaders make this choice confidently, understanding that the journey is as important as the destination.

The View from the Summit: The Impact of Agile Leadership 🌅

At the summit, leaders experience the transformative power of agile leadership. The view from the top is breathtaking, showcasing the vast vistas of productivity, creativity, and organisational well-being. But the journey doesn’t end here. The climb equips leaders with the tools and experiences to navigate future challenges and to lead their teams to new heights.

8 conditions for effortless collaboration

Innovation rarely happens alone. It’s when minds come together that real change, growth and ideas flourish.

Finding willing collaborators is just the start. But without the right conditions, going head first into a collaboration is not guaranteed to succeed. In fact it could even end up in a negative position.

Through our client work at Humble Associates, we’ve learnt that 3 basic conditions are a must have for any effective collaboration (and subsequent innovation) to take place.


Collaborations only truly work if each person involved is both providing and receiving value​. It doesn’t have to be monetary or transactional value, just make sure there’s a balanced exchange of some description.


Collaborations require vulnerability. With this, trust is built and a safe, open space is invited to appear.

Don’t kid yourself that it will always be rosy. If you fall into the fallacy of self-censoring the relationships risk becoming based on a distorted image of reality​.

As for giving and receiving feedback – without trust, forget it!

Authentic human connection

Authentic connection is like charisma, quite hard to define but you know it when it’s there.​ Without it, a collaboration can quite quickly becomes stale even if there’s value and trust.​ It’s not that people have to be besties to collaborate, sometimes healthy competition can be great grounds for collaboration.

Here’s a quick story about collaboration…

About 6 months ago TK and I met Carolyn and Fiona, co-founders of the Hustle House. At first we were quite excited to vent and share stories with other small business owners with similar challenges to us. Our chats were fun and had lots of value. But then we started thinking about collaborating, possibly even co-hosting an event.

Now, both of our companies actually operate in the same market so there was a risk we could end up stepping on each other’s toes when it comes to existing and potential new customers. Trust and vulnerability were necessary to have a frank conversation about how to avoid muscling in on each other’s clients. We had to figure out if there was mutual value. We knew we already had the authentic connection, but that in itself wasn’t enough. Luckily we decided to offer trust and find a way forward.

Last week we ran an event together – Innovation through collaboration, demonstrating first hand exactly what the event was about. Ours wasn’t the only great collaboration that came from the event. We helped the attendees create the top 3 conditions before facilitating them towards a shared outcome of collaborating and innovating around even more conditions for collaboration. Here’s what they came up with:


I love this one and completely support the idea that being willing to actively give would absolutely contribute to a great collaboration.

Common purpose / Shared values

Do you all want the same thing? Are you aligned on the ‘why? Are your intentions joined up?

Mutual respect

This suggests a level of extra depth to the relationship and something that would enable even more trust and generosity.


The ability to put yourself in one another’s shoes and to accept different points of view is a key that can unlock innovation.

Ready to take action

This final condition is a great way to end this list. Agreeing that action is wanted and considering the speed at which the collaborators want to move and progress is absolutely vital.

In knowledge work the ability to work well with others towards a common goal is paramount. If you run your own business, clients need to know they’re working with you in a collaborative partnership.

The next time you seek a collaborator, or you’re invited to collaborate, consider these 8 conditions and when they exist, enjoy this becoming effortless!

Which is the most important to you? What would you add to the list?

8 ingenious ways to start your dream collaboration…

Do you have people in your network who inspire you, have engaging opinions, and talk about things you’re interested in? Maybe you’d love to team up on a project, but are struggling to find reasons to invite them to collaborate?

At Humble Associates we love taking the pain out of problems and making change less challenging. So, this post includes 8 ingenious ways to start a collaboration conversation (you’re welcome 👍🏼)

Knowing if someone is willing to collaborate can be tricky to figure out. This could mean your ideas get buried or projects don’t start. Relationships that could blossom, don’t get seeded. Not on our watch! Pick your favourite from the list below to strike up conversation, and send it to them . Then let us know what happens next 😉

  1. Do you agree that people are stronger together? If we were to collaborate on <topic> I believe we could create something really powerful.
  2. I see that you’re interested in finding out more about <topic>. I’d love to help you connect the dots and maybe even create something together in this space.
  3. I’m intrigued by what you’re doing with <topic>. I’d love to be part of it – are you open to a conversation to see if there’s a way I can add value?
  4. I love how you speak about <topic>. It’s something I’m also passionate about and have recently done <add something related>. Are you up for a chat to share ideas?
  5. I’d love to discuss your views on <topic>? I have a slightly different opinion that might add an interesting dimension to the conversation…
  6. I have an idea about <topic> that I would really value your input on.
  7. During <event /conversation> your enthusiasm and passion for <topic> was impressive! For that reason ….
  8. I wonder if our combined skills would compliment each other to <idea>. How about an exploratory chat?

Keep in mind that these conversation openers are just that… its then up to you to decide what conditions you’ll need to make the relationship flourish (more on that in a future post 😉😉).

These are specifically focussed on starting to connect with potential collaborators on a human level. So have some fun with them, you never know what could happen!

Good luck -and don’t forget to let us know how it goes!

The number 1 threat to your business growth in 2021 (and it’s not what you expect!)

The single most consistent theme we were asked to help clients with last year? – Being able to communicate and work effectively together.

In other words, navigating the different working styles of colleagues and the clashes that occur when these are misaligned. Underestimate the significance and impact of this at your peril!

Start-ups, scale-ups, decades old established businesses, global retail brands you name it – they suffer from it.

Your ability to communicate with others will account for fully 85% of your success in your business and in your life. – Brian Tracy – Best selling author

Often when starting a business or forming a new team we seek out people we know to join us. Our underlying assumption is that because these are people we know, have maybe worked with before, or they do similar stuff to us that when we come together to collaborate on something new and exciting the drive, motivation, speed, quality will match ours.

Alternatively, when joining a new organisation or team of unfamiliar faces we make assumptions that we will quickly fit in with our like minded new colleagues. However, one of the biggest challenges is figuring out how our new peers work. Most likely this will be different to our own.

Whilst there’s a tonne of evidence that diversity of thought is a positive thing, when colleagues act and communicate in a way at odds with what you hope for it’s difficult, awkward and slow to navigate through. Not being able to find common ground has a negative effect, reducing motivation and employee engagement.

Common symptoms we’ve observed include:

  • Slow decision making – difference of opinion or a lack of understanding (and not articulating it, or accept other ideas without judgement) causes unnecessary delays
  • Conflicting priorities / difference in urgency – some are keen to get this thing done immediately, others think it should wait
  • Quality vs speed – taking time to improve the quality of work vs. a focus on getting something out the door to test and get early feedback

When considering the different working styles that exist in your team or organisation, there are loads of different models designed to help us understand ourselves and each other by putting us in boxes and giving us labels. But in reality humans act based on a combination of our established patterns of behaviours, the situation at hand and our relationship with the other person.

All models are wrong, but some are useful. George Box – British statistician 1919 – 2013

Given it’s such a common and widespread challenge, here’s our 3 top tips:

Tip 1 – Gain self awareness of your own working style and share what you learn. Doing some honest personal reflection, accepting what you find and then being vulnerable and sharing this – that’s leadership. The personal user manual is our go-to tool to help you understand and articulate this.

How does it help? – Increasing empathy and compassion for one another at a neurological level. Encouraging more open conversations. Showing a willingness to be pro-active and move things towards something better.

How to do it? – Find (or create) a template you like. Fill it in. Share it with your team (in a forum where you can talk through it). Ask “Who’s gonna share theirs next?”. We originally discovered this here.

Tip 2 – Seek alignment on the bigger picture. Taking a step back from the day to day grind to create a shared understanding of why you’ve come together, how you want to work and what you’ll do to enable that has a huge impact, and becomes a catalyst for positive change. A simple team charter is something we’ve used with 5 people scrum teams all the way to 18 people senior leadership teams.

How does it help? When there’s a clash of communication styles, personality types or general misalignment this allows you to hit the pause button. To stop focussing on individual differences. To reflect on why you’re all there in the first place. This tool’s super power is the alignment it creates as a result of an open conversation about what’s collectively wanted and needed. It changes the conversation from “I don’t like what you said or how you said it” to “Does this help us achieve our purpose” or “Is this conversation in line with our values?”

How to do it? Find (or create) a template you like. Organise a team workshop to co-populate this. Publish it somewhere where everyone can see it. Review it every so often (especially when someone new joins the team).

Tip 3 – Discover how you can support each other to grow and improve, collectively and individually. Shifting the attention towards continuous improvement and growth quickly changes the dynamic of relationships. To learn about others existing skills and what new ones they seek is easily done through the Market place of skills format.

How does it help? It moves people away from what they disagree on, towards what they can learn from each other and how they can support their collective development.

How to do it? There’s a very clear explanation in this video by our buddy Carsten Lutzen.

These 3 tips are not only powerful, but easy to implement with very little pre-work. If you find yourself facing a challenge in communicating and working effectively with others, or struggling to navigating the different working styles of colleagues and the clashes that occur through misalignment, then start with tip 1- ASAP!

If you’ve already tried these type of activities and problems still persist, of if you want to fast track this for your company then please get in touch with us –

Some of our favourite things are helping leaders and teams to find alignment through:

Individual coaching – Open to anyone looking to explore their growth and development. No matter where you are in your career, and whether or not you’re in a leadership role, we’re here to help.

Team coaching – Whether it’s a shiny new team, or one that has lost its way a little, you can look to us to get their mojo back.

Group Leadership coaching – Our leadership coaching is especially designed for groups of leaders looking to increase alignment.

The Retro with Humility

Having the courage to acknowledge flaws, admit mistakes and resolve differences are key to a strong working relationship.

This is especially true when you are starting a new business, working as a team, or going through tough times.

So after eating plenty of humble pie over the last year we at Humble Associates decided to make a retrospective on it…

🥧🥧🥧Feel free to download it, and let us know how you get on with it! 🥧🥧🥧

#Facilitation #Teams#Humility #Leadership

Saying NO! A humble guide.

One of the most prevalent challenges that’s come up this year from my 1-1 coaching clients relates to time management, and the stress and overwhelm associated with a lack of attention to it.

Through asking lots of questions to help them navigate through this, some common themes bubbled up. I combined these with some research on the good old interweb and found that it typically relates to not saying no enough.

To stop taking on more that you have capacity for, and enable you to manage your time better, you need to put your big girl pants on. I’ve come up with a simple model to help. Feel free to use it if you find yourself in a pickle about this.

Step 1 – Remember

What’s everything you have in your current backlog and workload?

  • How much stuff has already been started (work in progress)?
  • What projects are coming to an end?
  • Do any colleagues have planned leave coming up – you may need to take on more for a short period?
  • Do you have any planned leave?
  • What personal commitments do you currently have?
  • Where are you in the release cycle at work (for IT folk)?

It’s up to you to decide what happens next.

You have the power 🦸🏿‍♀️. We sometimes forget who’s really in charge of our destiny – us.

Step 2 – Qualify

Before jumping to ‘Yes’, or even to ‘No’, slow down and get more info. Taking a brief pause to understand what is actually being asked and why can only help inform your decision.

  • What are they asking for?
  • When does it actually need to be done?
  • What’s the impact / outcome / the ‘Why?’

Step 3 – Decide

OK – so you’ve considered what you already have going on / coming up soon, and taken time to fully understand the ask it’s crunch time. But there are nuances to how you could respond.

  • Not all but some – Maybe you have some capacity that allows you take on a small element of the request?
  • Not now but later – Will you have more capacity in a couple of weeks from now? In a month?
  • No, but – you know someone else who is better placed to help, or who you know has capacity to help
  • Not unless – the workload you already have can be re-organised. A good question here is “Is there anything you’d like me to stop doing in order to start this?

Bonus option

  • Pre-emptive no – Where you are open and let everyone know well in advance that you’re fully loaded and have no capacity or option to take on anything more (great before meetings where you often end up with actions)

If this topic is of particular interest to you or your organisation then give me a shout for a chat, or to find out more about my 1 hour workshop on this topic 😃.

In the mean time here’s a handy infographic to download it and keep. Enjoy!

Establishing a trusting relationship

In times of unprecedented uncertainty and disruption, leading with humility and authenticity is needed more than ever.

But how can we do this when we may not have the right support for ourselves?

Leaders that create trusting and safe environments know that investing the time to build strong relationships makes them more effective overall. It can be tough at the top, but having deeper relationships with individuals in your team can go a long way when challenges arise.

A simple and effective way to cultivate trust in your relationships is to take time to form a Listening Partnership. Based on Nancy Kline’s Thinking Environment®, the Listening Partnership is a brief but sublime routine to feel heard, give the gift of your attention, and deepen your understanding of each other to bring resilience to your relationship.

Agreeing the Listening Partnership

With a partner, agree to spend 10 minutes together each day (5 minutes each) to listen to each other. (The start of the day is best as it is a great way to help you clear out unwanted thoughts or blockers).

Find somewhere quiet where you both won’t be disturbed or overheard. It is preferable to be able to look at each other (so sit opposite or turn your cameras on). Then, when you are ready, use the following instructions as a guide to listen to each other.

Having a Listening Partnership

As the listener, explain the following:

“I will give you my full and undivided attention.”

“I will not interrupt you until you say you are ‘Done‘.”

“I am here just to listen, not to comment or pass judgement”

“Take your time to share what comes up, just enjoy this time to be heard”

“I will only ask 2 simple questions during this time; I will not be commenting on what you say. This time is just for you”

“I will start the clock when I ask the first question and we will stop when we get to 5 minutes”

Repeat: “To confirm, I will not say anything until you say ‘Done’.”

Now you are ready to ask the first question…

“What are your thoughts and what would you like to think about?”

When they say “I’m Done“, then you can ask the next question as many times as you need to during the 5 minutes.

“What more do you think, or feel, or want to say?”

Bringing it to your leadership team

Introducing this as an experiment to your team is a simple way to get started.

Agree on partners (or Triads if you have an odd number), and rotate your partnerships each month. This will allow you to gradually get to know all your team members, strengthen your listening muscles, and really get to appreciate those around you.

Just 10 minutes, 2-3 times a week to get started can have a significant impact on the group.

Having used this technique over a period of months with different people, I have formed some amazing relationships. You really get to learn so much about them, as you build up mutual gratitude and trust.

We would love to hear from you if you would like to know more about ‘Time to Think’ or ‘Listening Partnerships’ please get in touch.

Why Humble?

Words have different meanings for different people. We choose to interpret things we read or hear based on our own background, culture and beliefs.

So why choose to set up a company with the word Humble front and centre when this could be interpreted in many ways – including some with negative connotations?

Because humility is our core value. Something in our hearts and ever present in our work.

Being humble doesn’t mean we’re self-deprecating or submissive. That we aren’t experienced agile practitioners with tangible experience and wide ranging skills. That we don’t deserve to work and collaborate with you. It means we provide expertise, without the ego.

For us it means that our focus is always on you. Your goals and the people in your organisation. With humility and care. Always.

So whilst in its purest sense the word “Humble” is defined as:

having a modest estimate of one’s importance

In the context of Humble Associates we define this as:

holding our client needs as our most important focus

A humble approach is backed by research which evidences that:

  • Humility helped to repair relationships and built stronger bonds between groups of people Davis et al. (2012).
  • Those who are more humble were more likely to offer help, and offered more of their time, to those in need (LaBouff et al. 2011).
  • Being honest and humble is a good predictor of people’s job performance (Megan et al., 2011).
  • Leaders of all ranks view admitting mistakes, spotlighting follower strengths and modelling teachability as being at the core of humble leadership. And view these three behaviours as powerful predictors of their own as well as the organization’s growth (Owens et al., 2011).

If you would like any more information about our approach, get in touch.