Company Culture Uncategorized

Isolated Talks – Hidden Leaders

In our second video for Isolated Talks, here is a build on Hidden Leaders.

Find out:

  • If you are a hidden leader
  • What hidden leaders are to their companies away from performance metrics
  • Why hidden leaders are so important to companies
  • Why, when they leave companies, companies really struggle to understand why

Hidden Leaders Video

If you are in the position to help today, please consider helping those who are someone struggling in isolation.

Hidden Leaders Presentation

If you prefer a presentation to flick through, this is the presentation for the video.


It Is Ok To Want To Move On As A Leader

There has been much made for many years around company loyalty, the job market and being a leader and looking to move on. 

Leader Loneliness

As a leader, you are under so many more pressures than your team and colleagues realise and will even know. 
You keep it bottled up and find one or two people you can vent or download on to.

Team Before Me

Many times as a leader you have to make calls that are best for the team.
Rarely are you given the opportunity to make the calls that are good for you specifically.

Obviously bad and inexperienced managers do put themselves first.

As a leader (not a manager) you make decisions to empower those around you and move towards the department or company targets. 

Often as a leader, it can feel like you are too busy to think about your career, you often end up neglecting opportunities to develop your own career, you tend to put those around you or the business first. When you get a chance to look up it can feel like you are going backwards. 


There comes a time when almost all leaders have that realisation. You will often realise the company is just not what it was or going where you want it to go or it’s just not for you anymore. 

This can feel more daunting the higher up you go. Especially in more recent times with lockdowns and pandemics. 

Questions From Leadership Team

You might have experienced this first hand or likely have asked it as a leader…are you committed to the company?

There is also only so many times someone can truly disagree and commit. 

Knowing when it’s your time

When you realise it is your time to leave, you are actively making the decision to improve the company culture, often when we know we are looking we have the tendency do drop the ball or have passed to the wrong player. It is also completely fine to look to leave for a better company fit for you.

So a new year can be a fresh start, you can look to leave and as many won’t suggest it is good to understand the market, understand or remember your value or worth, remember in no rules rules, Netflix actively encourage you to go for other interviews and understand your value. 

Leaders Lead

Do not let questions from other leaders or do what people expect to hold you back. A leader has to lead, and typically it has to start with yourself. So yes, it is always to leave, even if you are the CEO.

The important thing to remember is to leave your company or organisation in a great place and set them up to succeed for as possible.

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 24 – Turning Being Strategic Into A Company-Wide Playbook


Dear Leaders, Happy Monday.

Over the past six months, I have written to you weekly on important topics, leadership, company culture, trust and strategy.

I truly believe that beliefs and bets (leaders letter 5 is a great read on why beliefs and bets are essential) are the best way to frame and building a long term successful company-wide strategy.

A strategy is supposed to be hard but reworking work for the year ahead, in short, the strategy is the act of deciding what not to do, it’s agreeing on the actions you are going to take, the steps you will take and the tactics you will follow.

As soon as you add in layers and layers of tactics you are moving away from the top-level leadership piece a strategy has. Details are essential at a department and team level but sharing all of this information makes a strategy a detailed playbook, and this is actually a great way to breakdown a complicated business for everyone within the business to understand the steps you and fellow teams are taking. This also ensures everyone knows the next steps forward and where it all aligns, and if the playbook needs updating it can be and send out notifications tactical elements have changed.

Recently I have heard be strategic, being strategic and strategically minded as ways to explain acts of being deliberate or making the time to think clearly and plan.

This is not directly bad, however, allowing teams to hide behind being strategic by planning means many take this as a strategy when it is being deliberate and rolling up or into one company-wide strategy.

A strategy is not a list of tactics or channels its the action plan for the business, a strategy is being able to:

  • 🧠 Think 5 years ahead, understand the lay of the land,
  • 📝 Plan 3 years with firm bets and beliefs of where your market and products are going
  • 💪 Act 1 year, being absolutely ruthless for the year head and the exact actions you will take.

The playbook is an essential part of connecting this all together.

Moving forward focus on removing the confusion around strategy and tactics.
Enable teams to understand they are part of the bigger company-wide strategy, their plans of actions are essential in company success, however, ensure they roll up and align with the core pillars you have to serve and hit and should all be found and updated in the centralised playbook.

An action to take is to write the beliefs and bets out, serving a small number of pillars and then ask the teams to create their plan of action and ensure it reads simply for the wider business so it can fit into a company-wide playbook for the year ahead.

One recommendation I have for all of my consultancy clients is to have one person who leads the playbook project and ensures update are made and communicated.

Thanks and have a good week,


PS, Take a read of its time for management pods.

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 23: Remote Work Influences On Company Culture


Dear Leaders, 

I trust you had a good weekend and feel refreshed for the week ahead. 

Company culture is difficult, it is a process and something we all strive to improve. 

In what company culture is I dive into what company culture is and what company culture is not. 

A framing and a guide are always going to be helpful to businesses setting out to improve their company’s culture and embrace the important journey you and your colleagues need to go on.

Numerous leaders have commented that remote work feels more transactional. This negatively impacts the company culture and productivity.

What leaders mean by this is having meetings and getting straight to the point and onto the next meeting.

You miss the hallways conversation, you don’t get those brilliantly timed breaks between meetings, you miss that time with the team where you might spitball an idea and it turns into a campaign or a product tweak. 

You have less time and opportunity to talk for three minutes before or after a meeting and you often have to virtually dash between back to back videos calls without making time to talk to your colleagues outside of the product or project you are working on.

I have heard from leadership teams outside of SMT’s, their team meetings and 1-2-1’s leaders are not getting to check in with those who they might have spoken to or actively sought out when in the office previously. 

One manager commented they haven’t spoken to someone they used to see daily in six months. 

A handful of leaders have said they have felt time and work shift to “being more transactional” less personal. 

On the surface, this might have sounded like a proactive step taken from some organisations to ensure work while being at work, but diving into transactional, what professionals really mean is they are not checking in those they were close with. 

Those who might provide a different opinion or perspective or given a guide on what the impact might be to the group of users they might look after. 

With the way you are working currently, are you alienating a number of team members or stifling cross-departmental collaboration? Or is it personally decreasing your ability to make quick and important decisions away from email or a chat tool? 

Is there a solution to checking in or battling back to back transactional meetings?  

Yes, a couple of simple ideas. 

The first dedicate a section of time to be open in your calendar where you have an open room (Zoom/Meets etc) where people can drop by or bump into you. 

The second would be to book in coffee breaks and buddy up, 10-20 minute slots where you find time to chat, discuss projects and enable different conversations. 

A third might be to use an open document (think shared PowerPoint, Google Slides), a mural or miro where you can have some ideas or post-it notes. 

I trust this is food for thought for you and your leadership team.

Thanks and have a good week,

Danny Denhard

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 14 – Your Secret Weapon

Your Secret Weapon


Dear Leaders,
A short and sharp letter for today.

There is something I run through in every organisation I work with, it is called find your secret weapon.

In every organisation, there is a secret weapon. It can be micro-behaviours, a specific person, it can a department, it can be the unprompted coffee and snack break teams just do.

A number of times it is a behaviour but more recently it actually is a person, an internal influencer (as I call them) who really and truly drives people forward.

In a recent conversation, I asked a business leader to go find her company’s secret weapon, she found out by speaking to her leadership team it was the number of rising stars they had and that came from “great recruitment” and “great internal coaching”.

When I challenged the leader if they could scale (or power) up the secret weapon she replied with a huge YES!  
Have a guess what they are now concentrating on for the next 15 months?

It is more internal coaching, identifying internal talents and developing more rising stars through more coaching.

I challenge you to go a step further: I highly recommend you add a further proactive step, decide how you will then turn your these internal influencers into your next leaders, maybe reread letter 1, develop leaders.

This week focus on finding your business secret weapon and then identifying and developing the next phase of leaders.
It will be the best investment of H2 2020!


P.S. If you are a sports fan, I highly recommend Spurs’ All or Nothing on Amazon Prime (i’m an Arsenal fan and I shouldn’t say this, but, it is great) to understand how the sports world have these and how coaches leverage their secret weapon(s) too.

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 12 – Idiot With A Plan?

Idiot With A Plan?


Dear Leaders,
Are you ready and raring for this week?

I recently started creating a list of quotes, it got to over 60 and many of them are actually well worth sharing, so I started to tweet them daily at 8.30. Quotes can have many reactions (they either resonate or they flop) but one that will always stand the test of time in business is from Warren Buffet.

For all of the strategic sessions, I have sat in, proactively participated in the earlier phase of my career, to co-creating on leadership teams, to leading company-wide strategy is; everyone within organisations needs a centralised plan, they need to access it and feel they were a part of it and be connected to it.
“An idiot with a plan can beat a genius without a plan.”
-Warren Buffett

I have a strict rule when consulting with businesses, you have one (yes just one) company-wide strategy, you have three pillars you are going to concentrate on for the year and then a series of bets that are driven by a number of beliefs.

These are all driven by one Focus Metric that guides you through making decisions to reviewing are we on track?  
Each team then have their own action plan that rolls up into the company-wide strategy and must connect with the other teams regularly to ensure they are all on the same page throughout creating the action plan to rolling these out.

This connection and co-creation are essential. Surprises are what hits business hardest. Believe it or not, some businesses do not operate with a formal plan and do not share formally with their teams. Many leaders talk about their plan to their leadership team and forget to share and talk through.

Surprisingly one meticulously created company-wide plan can shock even the most experienced leaders, often responses are ‘everyone knows the plan’ or ‘we just get on and do it’ – well as Buffet states an idiot with a plan can beat a genius without one. Are you an idiot with a plan (I hope not) or a genius without a plan?

This week focus on starting to plan for Q4 and 2021 and putting together a meticulous plan. If you would like to discuss strategy and adopting the Focus approach to Strategy happily reach out.

Danny Denhard

PS – If you missed leaders letter 5 beliefs and bets newsletter it is well worth a read regarding bets and beliefs.

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 11 – Bad HiPPOs

Bad HiPPOs‍


Dear Leaders,

I trust you had a refreshing weekend.

I know from speaking to a number of leaders recently they felt like August used to be the slow period but August 2020 has been unrelenting. With this, there is a lot of onus on leadership teams.

Unfortunately, there are many management teams that are top-down or CEO/founder lead aka led by a HiPPO (a reminder a HiPPO is “highest-paid person’s opinion” or the “highest-paid person in the office.”).

There are many people within organisations that suggest they do not know why they are asked to do the work that they are or the way they “have to” work as the boss told them to do it or do it this way.

I have worked in organisations where the most senior by title feels like they have to make the decisions and they want to be seen to lead so they refuse to listen, these organisations fail for many reasons but one of the main long term reasons they fail is HiPPO’s acting like this.
They kill the business by their actions.  This inspired me to break down the ten (yes ten) HiPPO’s that are ruining your business.

I recommend you review the 10 HiPPO’s and hopefully find out you are not one of them. I highly suggest you look out for if you are “The This Is My Way HiPPO” or “The Dominant” as you are likely killing morale.

As a bit of fun I recommend sharing this post to your leadership team and wait for feedback, if you do not receive any, you are likely one of the ten.

This week focus on: Connecting with your team, understand if they believe they are a HiPPO and how they are impacting your business. Consider how you can delegate more effectively and if there are decision-making frameworks you can introduce to take the onus off you and improve trust across the business.

If you need some HiPPO training or you need management team training, happily reach out by replying to this email or emailing here by clicking here

Thanks and have a great HiPPO free week,

PS I have written two important posts, traits of a good manager, and the traits of a bad manager.

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 9 – Personal & Professional SWOTs

Personal & Professional SWOTs


Dear Leaders,

I trust you had a good weekend and have made some time to find those future seers and your internal motto has been rolled out.

This week I took a couple of mornings away from creating workshops to focus in on personal and professional SWOTs.

When leading a previous business, I would often make the time to take a step or two away from delivery and dedicated into planning and reflection.

Reflection is great to understand where you are currently, why you might have missed something and what can be improved and what you should ultimately improve on.  
Planning is vitally important especially when the world is in constant flux.
Jeff Bezos didn’t get to his famous ten year strategy by not reviewing his personal and professional life.

I personally find frameworks help me and frameworks help many people frame problems in different ways and allows adjustments in their approach to a task or important future decision making processes.

We all strive to improve but until we can review and decide to either build new skills or products or double down and excel at something we are often in limbo.

So why personal and professional SWOTs?

SWOT’s aren’t just for executive presentations and analysing a specific business situation, they are opportunities to honestly review yourself and your professional work.

Personal and professional are interconnected, although many experts suggest you are not different, many people want to be and act differently at home and at work.

Personal SWOTs are great to review where you are at, what you see as achievable opportunities and where you can remove any weaknesses or threats.

The trick I have found is to think two fold, the first as you and the second as your critic. This will enable you to address the differences between the two.
If they aren’t very different I’d suggest you have a start over.

SWOTs always start out easy but should be challenging to complete and action.

Professional SWOTs are great to drive you forward as a leader and helps to drive the team forward.

Right now professionally you will likely have a few more negatives than positives however this is to be expected and is an opportunity to address and pick sections of your business that might want to optimise or drive forward.

As remote management is vitally important, take the opportunity to focus on personal and professional development.
This can be exercises you go through with your team.

Here are ten remote management tips to improve your remote management experience and help guide your team.

Thanks and have a good week.
Danny Denhard

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 4 – Commit To Communicating Clearly

Commit To Communicating Clearly


Dear Leaders,

I trust this week has started off productively and you have identified your future seers.

This weeks point to focus on is communicating clearly and building a clear communicating culture.

The lack of information and ‘transparent’ communications often leads your teams to assume or fear for the worst outcome.
Agree to create a culture that enables and ensures you communicate as clearly and kindly as possible.

As a manager and a leader you will be well aware that the fear and panic amongst your people, your teams and department is often when an important piece of information is not communicate to the group, it is not clear and often sent without second order effects considered.

Focus on speaking to your organisation and the managers around you to ensure you cut through poor communication and create an agreed internal principle you will communicate as clearly and as timely as possible to remove anxiety and fear around the company, particularly with the near future in mind.

This will reduce the amount of questions you will receive, you can encourage improving internal communications and reducing the internal chatter via instant messenger.

Until next week, focus on building clear communication templates you and your teams can use and agree as a company wide principle you will have clear communications across the business.

Danny Denhard