Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 150 – The Ten Essential Leadership Questions To Ask Each Other This Week

Dear leaders, there has been a lot made of disagreeing and committing in the recent macroeconomic times. 

The chances are you are in either of two camps;
(1) Survive at any cost: have had to reduce the size of your department or lose whole teams, you have likely lost some budget and have to revisit another 9-box exercise.
(2) Attempt to grow without spending the same budget you had at the turn of the financial year and requests for more headcount are not entertained. 

Either camp is hard, but you are being pressured to either get on board or disagree and commit to where you have landed or where the HiPPO is driving the business. 

The Backstory: The 13th Amazon leadership principle “have backbone; disagree and commit” has become a default principle in many boardrooms to ensure everyone is on the same page around the significant changes, whether that’s hiring, headcount freezes, company restructuring or mass layoffs. 

(Re)Connect With Leadership Colleagues 

In hard times, it can be a real challenge to be a manager, it can be a real challenge to continue to be a leader and support those around you.
You can become unsure of your role and your own future and connecting to these huge shifts can feel like a constant uphill battle. This is where I recommend you deepen your working relationships and keep improving the bonds within your leadership team.
(FYI here’s how to build better management teams with management pods). 

It is essential to refresh and reconnect with your colleagues when times are good but when they are at their most challenging I find a refresh is group therapy and can be group-defining.

Here are the 10 questions to ask each other:  

  1. What have you achieved in your career? 
  2. What piece of work are you most proud of working here? 
  3. What do you want to achieve here? 
  4. What inspires you every day? 
  5. What was the worst day of work here?
  6. What was the best day of work here? 
  7. Tell me about when you made a big work-related mistake and learnt the hard way? — And what was the lesson?  
  8. If you had to take three colleagues from three different departments to run a secret mission to save the company, who would you take and why? 
  9. If you were told to reduce your department by 50% what process would you take to do this? 
  10. If you were to revisit one project to optimise for better success what would it be and why? 

These questions can be asked in many settings and work from one to one, one to few (small groups of the management) but ideally in offsite settings as an exec leadership team. This is where open conversation will flow and your colleagues will want to connect with you on a personal and professional level. 

Why Ask And Answer These 10 Questions? These questions take real thought, a chance to show you can be vulnerable and a chance to create materials for the management team to onboard others onto the management team and add their experiences.  

This week’s focus action: Create a time slot where you and your colleagues run through the ten questions and learn about each other and what drives and motivates you and see how you could form a squad or SWORM to complete a secret mission within the company. 

Have a great week and remember IQ will only get you so far, EQ and PQ will take you and your business further. 


Danny Denhard 

Here are 3 other essentials tips to follow to improve leadership within your business this week: 

Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 149 – Can The Undercover Boss Act Work For Your Business?

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Dear leaders, a simple but big question this week: 
Could a stint of working undercover leadership help your business to improve? 

For years we have seen numerous press clippings, TV shows and social media accounts devoted to a high-level exec becoming an employee again and experiencing a number of reported and real common issues.  

PR Stunt Or Connection Builder?

It has always been seen as a PR stunt, “the big-time boss” goes back to getting their hands dirty to find out how their company operates outside of the boardroom. 

But can this tactic actually be a friction-removal exercise?

Want Recent Examples?
  • The Deliveroo founder (food delivery app) William Shu often references him going back to deliver food – this has rarely helped Deliveroo with recruitment (despite what the PR-driven narrative will have you believe)
  • GOJEK (Indonesia’s super-app) founders delivered services via their on-demand app for a month
  • Dara Khosrowshahi (Uber’s CEO) recently drove his own Tesla for Uber under an alias and then after the experiment, agreed with drivers (there were many issues Uber had to address for their drivers and ignored before this experiment) – this has landed well in the business press but the cultural press is having a field day on this tactical approach 

Marketplace For Change? Recently we have seen a number of marketplace CEOs take on the challenge and experience what their drivers or delivery drivers do and they have in short come to similar conclusions.

Sympthonising With Your Customers: 

The issue with marketplaces is, you always have to hear the two or three sides of the marketplace voice their opinions, it can be hard to understand which is more pressing and it is hard to see it or prioritise this question within the boardroom if you don’t have first or second-hand experiences.
Especially when you are attempting to balance demand and supply side feedback. 

The question you might be asking now is… Why take this big leap when you have teams dedicated to this? 

Internal Trust & Storytelling Matters

NPS surveys, user feedback sessions and customer support tickets are only as good as the story that is told by the Customer Support, UX or Product teams and the trust these department heads have within the leadership circle.
These can come down to the words on the PowerPoint presentation or the categorisation in the Excel spreadsheet.
Often these forms of feedback are dismissed if there is a weak story or no picture you can genuinely connect with showing the issues. Pairing this with a high cost per ticket attached to fixing these issues these are then deprioritised. 

Coachable Moment; Dive into these issues and understand how you can address these and embrace the power of video to see first-hand the issues.
Often these user stories are too long or too opinion based, match the user stories with insights before feeling like you have to put on the uniform or download the driver app etc. 

PR Or Product Improvement? Some CEOs will struggle with being part of this, others will embrace the opportunity to drive headlines, and others will want to experience what their employees are.   

Hint: Be the product improvement leader (not the PR-hungry leader), don’t seek this out for headlines, headlines work for and against you, seek this out to improve the product and understand how employees feel from the driver, to the internal team feeding back to the data analysis team struggling to get cut through from the way they might be retelling issues.  

One pitful to look out for; is when you experience something first hand it can seem to be much bigger than it is as you can become biased versus stack ranking all issues together.  

The Internal Question To Ask: Should you and can you as a leader truly embrace this type of deep research to understand how the company operates out of your view and spreadsheets and make a real material difference? 


This week’s focus action: Consider how you can fully embrace getting into customer problems and connect with both company problems but also the customers’ problems. 

The best leaders truly understand both issues and can then help to support from the front on these and then put the right prioritisation on them. 

Have a great week and remember leadership has many forms, either smaller steps of helping others story-tell better, listening more to quant and qual feedback or getting deep into research to experience issues first and second hand. 


Danny Denhard


Danny Denhard

Image source WSJ dedicated article on Uber CEO going undercover

Looking for a coach? I have limited slots available, find out more about my coaching services here
Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 148 – Have You Lost The Special Thing That Makes You Unique?

Dear leaders, a few weeks ago, I took my puppy to get his first groom. For me and my girlfriend, it was like sending off our first child to the nursery for the very first time. 

We were a couple of minutes late, I hate being late it’s one of my bug bearers, and picking him up and with a mad dash, we were only a couple of minutes late. 

The groomers were brilliant from the first micro-moment, they asked if it was ours by his name, they told us what they were going to do and not do and they asked us if we wanted a call halfway through with an update or a reminder call just before to make our way back to their shop. 

It instantly put us at ease, they gave us clear instructions and one option to select, reducing our choice fatigue and nervousness. 

The 90 minutes whizzed by and they called when they said they would, they were super friendly when we came through the door and explained the process and how our puppy got on. Thankfully, he got on very well and importantly it was an experience, a positive experience and it made us know we would be going back. It would be his spa. 

Special Touch: They gave great follow on recommendations and said how much they liked him and even put a bow on his collar as a little extra touch. 

The experience wasn’t just for our puppy it was for us too, the groomers knowing how we would feel, what we would want to experience and where we may feel anxious. The special little touches really stood out, the bow as a lite touch branded reminder of the experience. A product manager or UX expert would have been super proud if they had engineered this flow. 

Why was it special? They said hello to the puppy by his name, they made us feel at ease straight away, they did what they said and promised, they gave us clear instructions and an option to suit us, they communicated very clearly and gave our puppy an experience and a special treat. This wasn’t just a transaction, it was an experience for the three of us.  

To me, this is one of the biggest and simplest forms of leadership you can have.

Do You Still Have That Special Sauce? 

This got me thinking, so many brands have lost that special edge, that secret touch that goes over and above their competitors.  

A few more examples: 

Amazon’s Famous Strategic Flywheel Drives Their Core Customer Centric Decisions
  • Prime Expectations” – Amazon delivers when they say they will, in their simple packaging. They have set the tone for others to deliver within 24 hours at a fair price (mostly) and be given numerous prime perks like prime music, prime video etc. Their famous flywheel makes it difficult for anyone to compete at scale 
  • Zappos’ famously upgraded customers shipping on their first order 
  • Superhuman (the email client) 30-minute hands-on personalised onboarding (aka productivity coaching) for every customer 
  • Five Guys and their extra scoop of fries 
  • Jumbo (Dutch supermarket) introducing slow lanes so customers who want to chat at the checkout can

This week’s focus action: Work through how far away are you from what made your brand or service special?
Maybe it’s time to embrace that expert within your business as of leaders letter 146

How far away from that uniqueness you once offered are you? 

Alternatively, a personal quest: Ask yourself, have you lost that edge? How far away from your secret sauce or superpower are you now? 

It made me rethink a couple of elements and ensure I continue my special touches in my mentor process.

Thanks and have a good week,

Danny Denhard

Focus News Leadership

The Focus Coaching System Explained

Exec coaching is an essential area where managers become leaders, where founders go from operator to leader and where many find out they have a lot of work to take on.

What many c-suite execs are forgetting, exec coaching is for every c-suite member not just the CEO and COO.

Problem You’re Faced With: Many coaches follow the same ten points, they very rarely create bespoke systems, they very rarely are hyper personalised to you (as a lead, you will be bundled up with all other leads) and rarely take into consideration the nuance of your position and the business you are operating in.

Problem Addressed With The Focus Coaching System

This is why the new focus coaching system was created and built to apply for any c-suite member, any lead on their way to become a true leader and to take department heads from a manager to a business leader.

The coaching system was built from the ground up and proven to work across the c-suite to Department leads, from Founders and CEOs to COOs, CMOs to Product leads and the raising stars of organisations.

The Focus coaching system takes into consideration of the modern work environment, embracing in person, hybrid and fully remote coaching, so here is a run down of the system and why it is critically different:

The Focus Coaching System Explained

  • Built Differently: Proven system based on the foundations of sports coaching including sports drills and analysis of therapy and structuring around therapy sessions – this is to maximise your time and output
  • Workshops Not Chats: Coaching sessions are “workshops” (with drills) based training and 1-2-1 coaching – this is to ensure you are moving forward and have tangible outputs and is results orientated
  • Issues, Jams & Situations: We will workshop issues, and potential issues and revisit previous situations to improve your management skills and optimise decision making skills
  • Skills-Based Development: you will evolve in every session and adapt your training based on business needs and your personal profile
  • Manageable Time Slots For You: We are all busy, therefore the workshops are shaped around 1-hour workshop coaching sessions (typically based on 10+ sessions) to focus on your personal and professional development
  • No Wasted Time: Both hybrid and in person coaching, this is designed to help you maximise your time and have a personalised playbook to move your performance and the business performance forward
  • Homework! It is a homework based system, you have to be invested, homework is an essential part of your development and carrying on the training post workshops is critical in your investment and development
  • Partner Not Payment: The system is designed to be your long-term partner and support system not just a payment
  • IQ, EQ (emotional intelligence) & PQ (political intelligence) Based Coaching: IQ will be improved by traditional “hard skills” development, EQ will be developed on life skills (there is no such thing as soft skills) and PQ, improving how you operate and mature as a leader with your business
  • Yes, Hard Work: It will be hard work and I will hold you accountable at every step: You will receive clarifying questions, you will be challenged, you will receive kick back on answers and choices made
  • ROI Positive: You will see your investment returned from session #2
  • Proven Framework & Exercises: I provide proven frameworks and exercises to improve operational skills, improve situations you or your team are struggling with, helping to mature and up-skill you and those around you
  • Roll Out To Your Own Team: Coaching system you can then roll out to your team

Interested? Get in touch below:

coach @ or through

Company Culture Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 138 – David Siegel 5 Questions

Dear Leaders, this week I ask five questions to David Siegel. David is the CEO of & led Meetup through the pandemic, for a company that is built around connection and real-life community you can imagine the hugely negative impact and the fight for survival David and his team went through and how they bounced back, through brilliant and deliberate leadership.

David’s book is an essential read, it is my essential company culture books to reads, I also buy it for my exec coaching clients and when I run workshops I enforce the exec team to read Decide & Conquer: 44 Decisions That Make or Break All Leaders.

Onto the Q&A, this is fascinating and brilliant.

Q1. You led Meetup throughout the pandemic in near-impossible circumstances, what is the biggest lesson you took away as a business (and people) leader? 

When the pandemic hit, Meetup faced an existential crisis that could have destroyed our 18-year-old company. Until then, the focus of our business had always been about bringing people together IRL (in real life) to make connections.  When COVID-19 hit, we had to ask ourselves whether our mission was more about meeting IRL or about fostering connections. Our answer was clear: we are a connections company. For the first time in our history, we allowed groups to meet online. And it was so fortunate that we did. Online Meetup events and groups helped millions of our members get through the most isolating periods of pandemic. 

I won’t downplay how rocky that period was. Running a company called “Meetup” in a time when no one was meeting was a tremendous challenge.  We saw decreases in many key metrics including the number of events on our platform and event RSVPs, which negatively impacted our revenue. As a leader, my focus was on transparency. If the company had challenges, my job was to address those challenges head-on so we could find solutions. Building trust during a crisis by sharing the good, bad, and ugly was critical. The crisis is behind us, but our culture of trust and transparency will continue to strengthen the company.

Q2. You wrote brilliantly about your 44 decisions to make and break all leaders, which one do you feel are the most important to start with? 

First, thank you. Of all my decisions for new and seasoned leaders, I think I need to start with what I call “Decision 0,” which is deciding whether you should take the job in the first place. 

One of the most hazardous biases in decision making is the sunk cost fallacy. This is the tendency for people to be biased toward actions because they overvalue the time, money, or other investment they’ve “sunk” into an action. Most of us don’t appreciate that this time spent preparing for anything is gone. Our job is to make the best decision we can. People are often reluctant to reject a job offer after they invested so much time in interviewing. The fact is, the time spent interviewing is gone and it has no bearing on whether the job is a good fit.  

Before I became the CEO of Meetup, I went through no less than 27 interviews with WeWork (our corporate owner), followed by meetings with every Meetup vice president. After three months and hundreds of hours of interviews, it would have been easy to accept the position based on my time commitment alone, but I knew that time was gone. I needed to make a decision based on the facts about the role and the company I’d be working with, and I strongly considered not accepting the role in the first place. 

I caution all leaders (and even non-leaders) to make the right decision for you and not be influenced by how much time was spent leading up to a decision.

Q3. The power of community is a key message throughout your book, what do you think CEOs (and their leadership teams) should truly understand about community and then embracing community into their business? 

Hundreds of studies have found that community is one of the most important elements to both a happy work life and personal life. Yet, having a strong sense of community is also on the decline in nearly every country and age demographic. Early humans relied on community to survive and the need for community is hard-coded in us.

Meetup is the ultimate source for building community, whether it’s personal or professional. Many companies—IBM, Microsoft, Google, etc.—use Meetup to enhance their communities and build user networks. Community drives employee retention, motivation, collaboration and ultimately results in greater success. As more companies move to remote work, the importance of community is becoming more evident. It is incumbent on every leader to incorporate community building into their business.

Q4. What are your three leadership non-negotiables for your exec leadership team? 

First, no assholes. The members of my executive team are all kind people. We spend more time working with colleagues than we do our spouses in some cases. I only want to work with high integrity, empathetic individuals. Life is too short to do otherwise.

Second, they must have a data-driven approach. Leaders shouldn’t ignore their instincts when making a decision, but we always need to look at what the data tells us. We need data to size gauge the impact, priority, and opportunity of any choice.

Last, I look for the ability to embrace change. Leadership requires adaptability. And if a leader is not flexible then they won’t be able to steer the ship for their team during times of crisis. The ability to listen and change one’s approach based on data and experience is one of my top priorities when looking for a leader.

Q5. How has your professorship at Columbia university helped you to develop your leadership? 

I’ve always believed that when you teach you have the greatest opportunity to learn. For nearly ten years, I have been teaching undergraduates at Pace University and then graduate students at Columbia in the entrepreneurship and strategic planning program. My former students have gone on to found startups that have helped millions of people around the globe. Having even a small impact on their path to success is incredibly enriching. One of the reasons I wrote Decide & Conquer was due to my interest in helping people beyond the 70 students in my class. The book has now been read by more than 15,000 people and is being translated into Chinese and other languages. I consider the book to be an extension of the concepts we learn in class. I’m incredibly fortunate to have the opportunities to teach and learn that I do.


Go and have a great week and I’d love to hear from you about how you are going to take inspiration from David moving forward.


Danny Denhard

Be Inspired By More Leaders Letters

Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 136 – What Are The Factors At Play (With Free Framework)

Dear Leaders, the most under-respected and most under-discussed element within leadership meetings and around the boardroom is “what are the factors at play” and how do we influence and then action them. 

Knowing The Factors At Play: I recently discussed the forces at play with a new business unit with a large organisation’s leadership team and they struggled with being able to know what were their forces at play, how to find them and then understanding which were internal forces and then external forces. 

Forces at play are often out of your control, there are shifts within markets or industries that you can never influence but will greatly impact your business for a number of years ahead. 

Economic Factor: Right now we are all experiencing a tough economic environment and many customers have done the wise thing for them to cut their spending, there is a however, not understanding the nuanced factors at play is almost criminal to how you operate and how you then review teams performance and company performance.

Covid Chaos To Crisis: If you have read or listened to recent quarterly earnings (since Q2 of 2020) they have had to blame external factors, when then pushed many CFOs and CEOs struggle to articulate what the deeper factors were (apart from supply chain issues) and how they could change these and influence positive change without many layoffs or numerous rounds of layoffs. 

Layoffs for big tech have unfortunately been necessary for most, however, addressing the people side of balance sheet management only doesn’t often change the actual performance of a business, often just the spreadsheet view and you will bad practices, poor decision-making and other operating holes too late and then more misses for quarters to come.   

Action: Making Factors Work – Understanding the factors, then categorising them and creating a plan of action (applying to your one company-wide strategy) and then through each departmental plan helps you to reshape and reframe issues. 

Here is how you can categorise factors and work out how to reduce anxiety and friction and those you have to take action on:  

  • We Influence
  • Can Influence 
  • Want To Influence 
  • Don’t And Can’t Influence 

More Than Just Another Unactionable List

Company Factors Template

This framework works on whiteboards, spreadsheets, miro boards and notion boards, you should keep a running weekly to monthly record (often asynchronously works best) and this enables you to make smart decisions and address/readdress issues and lagging indicators more frequently rather than having to jump straight to headcount freezes and layoffs. 

Essential To Truly Know: Dashboards and your internal data often only tell you the surface-level information, the analysis section is imperative and this is where your factors come into their own. Storytelling takes you to the next level.

FYI: Executed right, these factors will appear on your transparent decision document, letting your company know you (and the leadership team have heard and acted upon ideally collaboratively) have made important decisions and then how you got there and why these factors matter, with the actions required to address said issues. 

This week consider how you add this framework and workflow into your management meetings, empower department leads and your business analysis (data insights etc) team to feed in weekly or even ad-hoc and discuss these factors regularly, 

Thanks and I’ll land back in your inbox next week

Danny Denhard 

Want someone to step up as a leader? Let them know to subscribe here 😉 

PS/ It is well worth reading how Charlie Munger refers to the forces at work and how he operates with or against them. 

Company Culture Leadership

The Corporate Buzzword Bingo Card 2023

Each year we adopt new words, new corporate jargon and buzzwords that we end up bringing into the business, not just being used but often many internal jokes made from the words we use and the style we say them in.

The 2023 corporate jargon card includes many that will be used in the boardroom, across multiple slack and team chats and often in leadership meetings, AOP and QBR meetings.

Read more

The new words for 2023:

  • Economic headwinds
  • Low performers
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Quiet Quitting
  • Return to the office aka RTO

Have fun and remember to share in your slack or teams (copy and paste –

Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 134 – 5 Leadership Essentials With Sharon Aneja

Dear leaders, happy new year!

This week I bring you an in-depth interview with Sharon Aneja from Humanity Works Consultancy, you may remember Sharon joined me on fixing the broken world of work podcast, where she shared her incredible back story and the great work she is doing in the burnout and wellness space.

Sharon and I go deep into how to improve your EQ, burnout, company culture and why apps won’t fix burnout.

Q1. What do you think are the 3 essential steps every leader should take to improve emotional intelligence throughout 2023? 

  1. Leaders need to think about the shadow they cast in terms of their leadership. There are two important elements: 
    (1) How self-aware are you of how your behaviour impacts others?
    (2) How do people experience your leadership?

    Your shadow is easily tracked: The important thing to do is to give yourself space, keep a journal, think about how you have reacted to situations and how you have come across to others.
    This will tell you a lot about yourself and improve self-awareness.
    Rethink and reevaluate the shadow you cast, think about how you make people feel. 
  2. Be aware of how your mood influences everyone around you. We talk a lot about the contagious leader, leaders have a lot more sway and influence on those around you than we realise.

    We should never be happy robots, but we should help to positively shape people and think about how we are shaping them with our daily interactions and gestures.
  3. Practise your listening skills, if you want to improve your EQ (emotional intelligence) skills. Give people space to express themselves, to feel safe and understand what’s happening to them.

    When you practise active listening this is a great way to listen and become more aware of those around you and you as a leader.

Think about the ‘stay interview’, not the exit interview – really listen to what people are actually saying – just listen and then decide on how you interact.

This is a really good method to understand and develop your EQ and improve the experience you and the team around you have.

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou

Q2. 2022 was a rollercoaster for so many, what is the best advice for leaders to handle their own burnout for this year?

What I always say to leaders who are experiencing burnout – check out the 12 stages of burnout 

Leaders really need to understand that to prevent burnout in themselves and in their teams, the solution is never just self-care, it’s mainly about caring for each other.

Burnout can never be fully addressed by the old advice of “Take a break” or use your annual leave or the more modern approach “use this app for this mindfulness” – to stop burnout we need to address the root causes of toxic workplace cultures that leave people feeling devalued, under appreciated and not respected. We need to change the narrative on burnout!

Checkout the six organisation causes of burnout to truly understand the value mismatch and if you’re exercising the sense of belonging that people need to feel appreciated and valued at work. 

The strongest leaders are those who bring out the best in their teams, remain curious, compassionate and are inclusive.

Really look at YOU:
How are you measuring success as a team and how are we showing up and how are we treating each other? How connected are we as a group? 

Also, importantly look at your own behaviours and the boundaries you set for the team. 

Look at the examples you set, and role model the behaviours to prevent burnout.  

As a leader within your business, use that power to create a better workplace – you have the power to push deadlines and how people experience work. Question: Am I using my leadership effectively to support my people and my team’s performance in a sustainable way?  

Remember to look at all of your options, get some coaching support if you cannot address these behaviours alone and work to change the narrative around burnout in the workplace.  

Q3. Culture is something we both press leaders on and help to reshape, what two areas of  business need to change to prioritise a healthy culture?

Question: How do you measure success within the organisation?

  • Is it projects over people or people over projects? If the main focus is just sales, delivery or performance and you’re not measuring how people feel, their wellbeing levels and how much you all trust each other, you will only ever end up with a narrow view of success and one that is not sustainable. This isn’t what it takes to build a modern successful workplace.
  • Look for the important signals: Turnover rates, sick rates, poor communication, low levels of psychological safety, etc these things are telling you that just focusing on the bottom line is harming your productivity and people and is a one way ticket to burnout. 

Question: are we holistically measuring the right behaviours in organisations? 

  • Promotions – are we promoting people with toxic behaviours? When we do this we normalise a toxic work culture and this creates burnout, disharmony and disunity. 
  • Accountability – how are we holding ourselves accountable as leaders within the workplace?

I was really disappointed by the letters from Mark Zuckerberg (Meta lay offs memo) and Patrick Collison (Stripe lay offs memo), how are we holding these tech leaders accountable for their so-called “over-optimistic” recruitment strategies and vital strategic business errors? How do we hold these people accountable for over-promising and not adding value back to the business? They made a lot of people redundant with no accountability for these leaders and certainly no consequences?

There would have been signs that action was needed before having to let all of these people go? Where was the board? Where were the other leaders calling out these signs?
Their letters were merely a PR show, and they don’t show that these leaders are going to change at all.

Q4. If you could change one area of bad work environments with a click of your fingers, what would it be and why?

  • Low trust without a doubt.
    Low trust work culture, where people cant be themselves, where cannot speak up without fear of recrimination, this creates bad and toxic work environments. 
  • Really work on the ladder of psychological safety and set up high-level trust environments. Letting opinions count and matter helps to reshape the work environment.
  • Really work on the important core factors: Trust and psychological safety.
    It is time to coach your leaders on how to create a psychologically safe work culture. That’s not a nicey-nicey culture. Safe is not the antithesis of high performance. It is the foundation of high performance. 
  • Work on cultivating belonging beyond just the EDI lens, focus on addressing psychological risks – that’s how you build a thriving work culture.  

Q5. What’s the one overhyped trend leaders should be mindful of for the year ahead?

A digital app won’t take away stress or burnout. You have to attack the causes, the primary causes. 

In our workshops and surveys, we find out the causes of burnout, no one is saying Ukraine, the cost of living, covid etc, the answer is always bad management, the management doesn’t understand my needs, there is no connection, I feel isolated, if you really want to be proactive in making a difference, don’t fall into the trap of wellbeing washing or the trap of sending people onto an employee assistance program or send people on mental health courses, work on the actual causes and the culture around you and the culture of your team, these all help unlock performance. 

You cannot yoga or mindfulness your way out of stress of burnout.

Think more carrot than stick and don’t fall for the trap of apps fix these problems. Default to: We are all in this together, how are we going to address the root causes of stress, anxiety caused by the workplace within our business.

Go and connect with Sharon on LinkedIn and see some of the great work her consultancy is doing.

Listen to Sharon and I discuss how we are fixing the broken world of work

Thanks and best of luck for the week ahead.

Danny Denhard

Read the other 5 leaders questions series with business leaders:

Leaders Letter 133 – Leadership & New Years Resolution

Leaders Letter 131 – 5 Questions With Tim Grimes

Leaders Letter 129 – Space-As-A-Service With Caleb Parker

Leaders Letter 128 – Leadership Lessons From CEO/COO William Phillipson

Leaders Letter 126 – Leadership Lessons From Agency CEO Paddy Moogan

Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 130 – You Don’t Have To!

Dear Leaders, I am going to make a number of ‘you don’t have to’ statements to go against the grain to ensure you aren’t following bad or the wrong trends for you: 

You Don’t Have To: 

  • Welcome every new employee via LinkedIn 
  • Always be available 
  • Have the most knowledge 
  • Know everything 
  • Be unavailable (that was terrible advice from poor timekeepers and low EQ managers)
  • Work 24/7 (hint; work smarter not longer) 
  • Be the expert on everything within your organisation 
  • Comment on everything happening outside of your business 
  • Write long-form articles on topics you do not have informed points on 
  • Appear on podcasts, video interviews and on social media 
  • Speak at conferences, be the keynote speaker or sit on every panel 
  • Have a social media presence 
  • Be on TikTok and dance (please don’t fall for this latest trap)

With each statement there will always be a but, here’s the important, however, it is essential for you as a leader to protect yourself and for those around you to get the best results with your guidance. 

Your Behaviours Have Influence: Remember almost every person underneath you as a leader feels like this is the example set and the actions and behaviours they feel like they have to mimic to be successful. 

Many execs struggle to change who they are and adopt new styles that go against their personality types and when uncomfortable it is not great to watch or experience. 

Breaking down that barrier can often mean you can struggle to build connections or are not then taken seriously when things start going badly.  

Respecting your own time, energy and focus are so important to driving your business forward. 

Knowing You Can Say No To The PR Roadshow: Coinbase went on the PR offence and ultimately impacted their business and their CEO has had to go on a PR show ever since the summer.
Unfortunately, a CEO who was recently removed was Bob Chapek from Disney and he was removed for poor company performance but also importantly for being bad in public interviews and badly representing Disney in the public eye. 

Many famous CEOs have gone out with their narrative and were called out for their previous behaviours and the bubbling under-the-surface stories come to light quicker than you will ever be able to control. 

Reduce Pressure: There is enormous pressure on team managers, all the way up to chief execs to co-founders to act in unnatural ways and go against the way they are engineered, going against what makes them thrive. Often focusing on your strengths will outperform trying to improve all of your weaknesses. 

If you have fallen for the trick of going against your strengths it is time to take back control and revisit what you are and are not going to do justice and build true connections and give direction to your team, your company and your industry.  

Remember you don’t have to be the first CEO dancing on TikTok, or the first leader in your business to keynote at the biggest conference, or appear on a high-profile podcast with forced and hole-filled stories. 

People connect with people (that’s the worst kept secret we forget) and their true stories, by all means, build your confidence, build narratives and stand out but in a natural way to you and remember once it is out there it is near on impossible to remove from the internet, so be you, be the you that can build relationships and can create strong connections with your people and your brand. If you are not comfortable, get training and help don’t force it for a new platform, there will also be someone else who will be better placed and create a better response. 

Go and have a great week and remember often saying no and delegating in leadership is best for everyone. 


Danny Denhard

PS I hope you have enjoyed the 5 questions series, there are a few more for the end of the year and the start of next to kickstart 2023 right!

Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 122 – My Mentor Process

Dear Leaders, this week I am going to share one of my proud secrets.

My mentor process, whether it is official or unofficial. 

Mentorship for me is one of the most important and responsible work streams I have, mentors have been incredibly important in my personal growth (not just professional) and it is something I feel is a privilege to be a mentor or when someone thanks you for being a mentor, especially when it is unofficial and goes undiscussed. 

Get To Know The Person Then The Professional

With my mentees, I like to get to know them, their motivations and understand how they are looking to evolve their careers. 

Very often many don’t know what they are looking for it needs to be something that is prized out and evolved over time. 

It’s A Gift

I will gift my mentees, with a book I know will help them (audible credits are quite common now) and a notepad, very often it is a ‘nice’ notepad they will write in with pride and want to use.
Believe it or not, it is an investment I feel is essential in building my relationships. Pad and pen connects far more for most people than writing notes, and this comes from a person who has over 5500 apple notes. 

I will ensure mentees tell me the rhythm they would like to follow, if they are routine based and how can we make it fit into both of our routines and then how frequent it will be. 

What You Are, What You’re Not

It is important a mentor is not a therapist and often not a coach, you can coach but you have to understand when you are going to be there to listen or there to guide, very often it is nudging or talking about your experience that will help. 

Remember Mentor Not Coach

Remember a mentor is about softer skills and long-term change often with a deadline, and a coach is about hard goals and skills change by a deadline.
If you are fixing skills and having training sessions you are likely coaching and that is a whole different responsibility you should formally sign up to. 

Shared Toolkit

I offer my templates, often I have shared them here and I push my mentees to try and share the knowledge and positive information they have gained, when I learn something I need to teach it, I find very often those who teach again not only help to make small improvements around them but help to share the dopamine rush you get from winning and co-winning. 

Most often I will receive a message or an email with quick check-ins and points they’d like to run through or the best ones are when you get a hey, I did x and y worked. These messages I keep these in my hype file (the file where I receive thanks, compliments and heartfelt messages) and I will always go back and re-read this when I am not having the best days or weeks. 

Not Everyone Should Mentor 

I am not saying everyone needs a mentor (I do however think you miss out without one or a team of mentors, more mentors more experience = better diverse thinking) and some people won’t want to mentor. What I love to see is when individuals feel like they can become a mentor and invest their time, effort and energy into others, I often say to start internally at your work and then look at your network and people will seek you out. 

The best mentors for me (personally) were the quiet ones, the ones who weren’t shouting on LinkedIn or speaking at every conference but the ones who could make a difference in their jobs and then accidentally stumbled across mentorship. These people take it as an honour and invest heavily in mentorship. 

There are natural ends to mentor relationships, something to keep in mind mentors learn just as much from mentees as they teach so if sessions are reserve, great! 

Have a great week and remember if you can mentor and you feel like you can add value to someone do it, it is so rewarding, if you are looking for a mentor check your network, ask friends for recommendations and importantly take micro-moments to mentor where it feels right. 


Danny Denhard