Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 70 – The Fear Of Your Discipline Moving Ahead Of You 

Dear Leaders,

For a recent keynote presentation, I created a dedicated list of fears leaders go through and stack ranked those fears. 

When I create leadership lists and content for larger presentations, I always run it through a group of c-suite connections who then suggest what they are going through.

One of the agreed-upon biggest fears leaders had was the fear of their discipline moving on ahead of them.
This is something I know many department heads struggle with, you have team management, getting your work done, being an executive and then juggling the work admin. 

I recently spoke to a group of Product and Marketing leaders and when I raised the fear of being left behind, many had not considered it but almost all admitted they hadn’t been in a place to keep on top of the latest moves. 

Losing Subject Matter Expertise?

One of the biggest challenges for department heads is how to be the best department heads (ensuring the right work is being delivered + internal politics), and how to keeping on top of your industry and the movements. 

This is one of the juggles many professionals go through and is rarely discussed. 

How do you know how to prioritise, keep up and lead from the front with so many challenges?

Hint, collaboration and internal training and coaching from your team and those around you. 

The question for you to ponder this week is: 

How far removed from your discipline are you and how do you intend to get back on track? 

Or do you believe you are serving the team best by being removed? 

Actionable Recommendations 

Something I recommend is to have monthly sessions where you discuss the industry changes with your department, what those in your market and importantly outside of your market are rolling out and how they did this. 

For your own personal development, I would recommend you create a list of five news sources you trust and create a list to block out time to keep up to date with their content, if not daily then weekly. 

Lastly, always have an ongoing and updated inspiration board/wiki/note to help you (and the team) rethink problems and be inspired by what others are doing and how you could apply this to your business.  

Thanks for reading today and have a great week,

Danny Denhard 

Helpful Resources

Read or watch my recent presentation 

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 69 – Why It Is Ok To Be On The Fence

Dear Leaders, recently we have learnt the lesson that life is often too short. 

Something that is often questioned in upper management is people’s commitment.
Is our team fully committed?
Are they on the bus?
Do they bleed the company colours?

For years I was a BIG believer in this, I was a big advocate of: are you in or are you out? 

Until a few years ago when I had to really consider what it meant to be in the middle, not fully in or fully out.
And you know what, it was and is ok. 

My Experience: 

On one occasion, in an away long-range planning session, I was called out “for being on the fence”, a set of the leadership team were not convinced I was fully committed. 


I was fully committed to doing my job and getting the best results for the business, however, I had pushed myself to the brink, I pushed my colleagues to step forward to take on important projects and I knew we were up against a challenging period and I knew deep down I was not going to be able to give my usual 110%. 

I was however aware at that business I was not progressing at the same velocity I had for a few years before, the company openly couldn’t match my ambition and importantly, I was not 100% brought into the lack of vision and I would often question a number of decisions we as the leadership team were making. 

I was often pushing for different (in mind much smarter) outcomes vs wanting to just “disagree and commit” as the others did. 

What this made me realise was this and something I teach in my coaching sessions

  • Commitment is a two-way street – you and the company have to show you are both committed 
  • You can be a professional and disagree with decisions but still get your job done right and keep pushing and developing those around you 
  • Some companies will never match your own ambitions – this is for you to work out or work through — or leave 
  • Being all in or all out is more poker than real working life, having the right beliefs and making the right sets of bets is best for the company 
  • Companies evolve, as do professionals, sometimes you drift apart – this does not mean you do not want the best for the company 
  • Vision is a big part of leadership, if some struggle with vision or sharing a long term vision, then that’s a personal discussion to have or a point to discuss as a management team 
  • It is then natural for people to assume you are interviewing, hearing about other roles and taking other opportunities when you take a step back from being in every conversation or taking on more projects others who know you will notice – you must deal with this and a challenge coming
  • There are risks and benefits to being in a company for a prolonged period of time – on many occasions salary is just not going to be enough for your sanity
  • It is ok to know there is more out there and for you to pursue opportunities – as an individual you have to decide if you discuss this with your line manager or CEO, be wary this will 99% of the time play against you.

Unfortunately, my commitment being questioned did ultimately help me decide to leave for another opportunity that was right for me and my future.
However, when someone is on the fence in your business, it doesn’t mean they are working against what you want, or what your business needs to achieve, it can mean they are opening up potentials for them and the business. 

This week I recommend you think about your own situation, you consider how you and the company might be pushing people to consider their options and lastly, ponder how you could actually benefit from different discussions and reconsidering leading with paranoia when your colleagues are considering their next steps, it could be the best for the company and enable you to bring in someone else to refresh the management team. 

Have a great week. 

Danny Denhard 

PS if you and the business are always doing strategy and AOP the same way, you have to read this strategy article.

Other Leadership Articles To Improve You As A Leader:

Why the next big business will be people-powered 

Why Management Pods will help you improve your leadership

Why a rotating contrarian role will help your leadership team 

Why Microsoft CEO thinks Hybrid is a paradox

Watch my keynote presentation on fan clubs, communities, tribes and herds

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 68 – Take A Mental Health Day

Taking A Mental Health Day 

Dear leaders,

Something I am a firm believer in is a mental health day (or what some still refer to as a duvet day), the last 18 months has been testing for so many of us.

I wanted to practise what I preach and take this week’s letter off as a mental health day. 

With that said, the focus site has had some great content to read the last few weeks and today, I recommend you take a read of three articles and listen to the focus podcast this week.

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 67 – Would A Bill Gates Think Week Work For You?

Dear Leaders, 

This week I learnt that Bill Gates takes a week off every year for a ‘think week’. 

Bill went so far in going to a wood cabin miles away from anyone to think. 

Although not all of us have this luxury or set up, it is something we could, maybe should consider.

One think week (in 1995) was so famous it helped him to think of Internet Explorer. 

As a huge believer in making and taking the time I truly believe that these weeks would be ideal for many of us. 

Replacing Old Habits

As I suggest in the recent unspoken costs of a leader, it can take so long to relax or fight to find some time, these weeks might just be great to replace the numerous offsites we all have to attend at certain times where you have likely wasted previously. 

Daily Breaks 

One of the best things I built into my previous schedule was to block out three times in the day to think, (1) deep work for the morning, (2) a long walk in and around lunch and (3) coffee break(s) away from the office, generally outside to refresh the environment and take in the fresh air.  

Another tactic I employed was arranging walk and talk meetings where the majority of it was one problem and discussing the possibilities. 

Mini Breaks 

Many large company executives openly looked forward to air travel so they would be offline and could either catch up or have time to think and develop out their thoughts. 

Last summer I spoke to a retiring CEO who would book the same hotel every couple of months and would tell people he was away, the fun part was it was only fifteen-minute walk from his home. 

3 Day Breaks

At a business I consulted with, the leadership team would take a long weekend every quarter, Thursday, Friday and Monday’s, they would take 36 hours to work independently and then the final day would come together, present and create solutions that further collaborate on with their company. 

Think Week For You? 

With the right planning, would a ‘think week’ work for you?  Five days away from the office (or home office) or remote workspace where you dedicated time to thinking and creating a solution or two. 

I know my extra-large Moleskine (pic), three different colour pens and regular walks have created some of the best ideas and business shaping solutions I have had and many others have suggested a similar process works for them.

So this week, consider how a think week might work for you, or you and a few select individuals who would benefit from time off the grid. 

Will you be trying it? 

Thanks and have a great week.  

Danny Denhard

Important Must Reads

Why Not Try Out Our Podcast?

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 66 – The First & Last Ten Seconds

Dear Leaders,

In Mixed Martial Arts (like the UFC) the last ten seconds of the round can be the most important seconds in the five minute round or on occasions for the whole fight. 

The judges are often swayed by the final push, a lasting impression when scoring that round or that fight. 

The difference between that last push or that last punch can mean the difference a hard-fought victory or heartbreak for the fighters. Months of fight camp, of planning and training gone in seconds.  

In business this is often the case too, the first ten seconds of a speech and the last ten seconds will be the difference between a rallying call, a cry for help or losing your people. 

The first ten words and the last ten words on a company-wide email are often the difference between action, reaction or many times status quo.  

There is nothing worse than being called into a companywide meeting, attending an all-hands and it is flat and having another email sent to the business and it flops, or worse still you receive more questions than provide answers or direction.  

I wanted to share three tips for you to have the best impressions possible in the hybrid way of work the majority of us are working.  

Tip 1: Learn To Storytell 

The 3 step narrative storytellers use is the difference between being fully immersed and engaged or drifting off. 

The 3 rules in a TLDR format 

  1. The Set Up – Strong attention-grabbing opening – set up hero journey 
  2. Goals – Conflict or confrontation – Longest part, build anticipation and the turning point 
  3. Resolution – Shortest phase – twists short and clear, build tension until the wrap-up – give your audience that moment

Tip 2: Use The Right Message Medium 

In the hybrid work world, choosing the right medium to deliver your message is essential. 

When it is trickier to write a long message, a quick video message will have more impact, it can be delivered by slack, teams or via email. The first few seconds will get more buy-in than a longer intro. 

Tools such as loom (or Canva) will help you present a quick deck if you’re like me and prefer to talk through things vs just freestyling or reading a script.
Tools like teleprompter, however, will help you read a script or deliver a speech as the big CEO’s do.

Tip 3: BLUF Emails 

I have referenced the military method of BLUF – bottom line up front as a great way to communicate. Grabbing attention and asking upfront helps to get quick buy-in.
Placing the most important information front and centre and explaining the context underneath. 

I’ll leave you with a particularly accurate TikTok for how all hands are really seen: 


It’s truly a blessing to hear from leadership #tech #startups

♬ original sound – SillyConValley

Have a great week and concentrate on the first and last impression you make. 


Danny Denhard

Recent Leaders Letter That Will Help You

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 65 – The Unspoken Costs Of Being A Business Leader 

Dear leaders, 

This week I wanted to offer up a personal story that has been reinforced a number of times whilst speaking to different leaders over the last three years. 

There are many unspoken costs of being a business leader. 

  • The sleepless nights 
  • The restless weekends 
  • The fight that no one sees, the fight inside the board room to protect your team and the team members who have worked their tales off 
  • The constant exhaustion you feel 
  • The continued burden of another politically fuelled discussion taking more time away from completing your actual work 
  • The fight to find five minutes to yourself to get your thoughts together 
  • The way you may struggle with relationships outside of the work 
  • The fear and paranoia you feel around the business and your role 
  • The feeling of being alone in your role and not having someone to really have your back 
  • The number of days you eat badly because you are in a rush and then the days you rely on caffeine-based drinks to get you through 
  • And lastly: The three days it takes to relax while you are on holiday/vacation and then the day of dread worrying about what has happened, even if you check emails and slacks.  
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 64 – Leveraging Your Edge

Dear Leaders, 

In the recent weeks we have read numerous stories about returning to the office, how some have thrived working remotely, how others have really struggled working from home and I have banged my own drum about the future of work is hybrid and then most recently answering an anonymous career advice question on how Google got it wrong with their it’s ok to manifesto

We have heard from managers struggling, teams screaming loudly they are close to burnout and it has even been suggested it is the hardest phase for leaders of businesses in decades. 

Today I think it’s only fair to make it about you specifically. 

We all have that one thing, our edge, in many cases, it is the competitive edge that makes us stand out over our colleagues, other candidates at job interviews or hopefully as leaders.
For the record: I’d recommend it should be a good edge, not a nasty characteristic you may have. Ruthlessness is a two-edged sword.

In my coaching sessions, one of the most important questions I ask is “what is your edge?” 

Many answer this question too quickly and rarely do I think they have it right the first time around.
Why? Many answer the question with what they tell themselves not with the true answer. 

I will ban ‘Hard Work’ and working the hardest as hustle doesn’t scale when you need to bring others up around you.

After being told this on a handful of occasions and in a mentoring session, my own personal edge:
An ability to explain things simply and act as the translator in the management team and with leadership teams

A good friend’s competitive edge is being the best internal communicator I know, particularly in writing, they understand how to write something compelling, challenging or complex in such a way it is an art form and just gets cut through. 

Today it’s time to ask yourself and find out what your edge is and how you can leverage this again (and again)? 

The questions to ask yourself:

  • What is your edge? 
  • What would others say your edge is? 
  • Where do you get your edge from? (Hint therapists always point to your childhood)
  • How would you choose to turn it up when required? 
  • Is this an edge you want to teach those around you? 

In the week to come, I’d love for you to answer these and consider how you might help teach your edge to one or two people around you. If you have a team this can be an exercise you try out and ask for input from the team around them.

If you feel comfortable, you can always reply and tell me your edge, I’d love to connect more. 

Have a great week, 


Danny Denhard

PS Thanks for making 40 tips to improve work as the most read Leaders Letter to date, consider copying and pasting this into slack or teams to help leaders letters grow.

Need More Inspiration?

Other Important Leadership Reads

What is strategy

The difference between mission, vision, strategy and tactics

Why Google got it wrong with their manifesto

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 63 – 40 Tips To Improve Work For Everyone

Leaders Letter 63 

Dear leaders, 

This week I am going to be offering up 40 tips to improve your working environment and a number of these tips can be rolled out easily within minutes. 

A number of these tips are connecting to bigger ideas and frameworks, so do click through to find out more information. 

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 62 – WTF Is Strategy

Dear Leaders,

It’s coming towards the end of the Summer here in the UK which typically means it’s long term planning and/or annual planning review cycle. This is likely the second time you are not in the board room or in a basement of a hotel planning your company’s future.

From recent feedback, many are finding asynchronous or hybrid planning sessions a challenge.

There are common questions that are being asked within businesses that leadership teams (and senior management teams) rarely address, through not knowing these questions that are being asked, but, also because the management team is not connecting to the “floor” and are rarely delivering Q&A to the business.

The usual questions being asked are:

  • What is our strategy?
    – This happens multiple times a year
  • Why are we doing what we do?
    – This is usually a follow up to what is the strategy?
    Or we do not support the strategy still
  • What does success actually look like?
    – A list of targets rarely helps employees to understand what success is and how to build towards it.

The word that stands out above the rest but confuses so many people within businesses is: STRATEGY

Strategy can mean so many things to so many people, everything became strategic.

I have recently experienced every team in a large department creating their own ‘strategy’. That was nine (yes 9) different teams, within one department with their own “strategies” that did not connect at all!

FYI: This is not ‘strategy’, these are actually plans of action, that should roll up to departmental action plans, rolling up into the company-wide strategy. (see image below)

The reason I am being so pedantic and why being deliberate is so important; when everyone has a ‘strategy’, the company strategy is commonly ignored and is then questioned as soon as there are disagreements or performance dips.

On the Focus blog, I recently wrote a detailed post about the difference between mission, vision, strategy and tactics.

The way to think about the bigger picture: Mission sits over & across the top of vision, strategy connects directly into the company vision. Strategy guides each department action plan, with team plans rolling into the department action plan. Tactics sit at the bottom and are often interchangeable but never dictates strategy!

The TLDR framework explainer I used for strategy in this framework:

  • Operating Principle: Strategy  
  • Explainer: One company-wide plan for everyone within the business to understand, everybody throughout the company should be able to repeat without any thought and all departments follow when crafting their own plans.
    No team or department should deviate from the strategy. 
    • Your Company Strategy build should be thought about in this simple way:
      • 💭 Think: 5 Years
      • 🗺 Plan: 3 Years
      • 📦 Deliver: 1 Year ahead
      • It is imperative: No department should have its own strategy. 
  • When To Review Strategy: Up to twice per year 
  • When To Change Strategy: Once a year, every year  

It is well worth reading what is mission, vision, strategy and tactics framework.

⬆️ This is an explainer of what mission is, what vision is, what strategy is, what departmental actions plans are and an explainer of tactics.

The mentioned issues are why you have to be so precise and deliberate with your company or organisations plans.

Are You Struggling?
Run A Strategic Audit Recommendation: If you struggle with strategy or how to answer what your company-wide strategy is, what I recommend regularly is running a strategy audit and then creating a one-pager to reexplain your company-wide strategy to the company.

This newsletter is to help guide you through your leadership journey, if you consider yourself a decision-maker within your business, it should be part of your role to improve your company and introducing and creating frameworks and guides for your teams to follow to be successful within your department and the wider company.
And, importantly, when team members move on to the next challenge.

Help those around you build the team and departmental action plans and roll them up into the actual company-wide strategy.
If you do not have a company-wide strategy or struggle with them or get gain buy-in, get in touch today.

Thanks and have a great week.

Danny Denhard

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 61 – Be Deliberate

Be Deliberate 

Dear Leaders, I trust you are well. 

I have a confession: while writing the hybrid work guide, I used a tool to review the keywords I used and word count the number of times I used certain words. 

One word I overused is deliberate. 

Deliberate is also mentioned by me a number of times in the focus podcast aka the fixing the broken world of work podcast.

It is often intentional for me to overuse deliberate to reinforce why being intentional is essential for the companies success.

In recent years a worrying trend has occurred:  

More ambiguity = More problems = Performance drops of the teams and individuals.   

I came across a quote from the new CEO of Instacart, Fidji Simo (who was the ex Product lead at Facebook Blue aka the original app) and I wholeheartedly agree: 

There is nothing more frustrating when leaders are not intentional, they operate in a scattergun way and everything is of the highest importance.

Leaders should set out a framework, an imagined roadmap and often a template for the company to follow, blending the near term work and the long term future. 

A few non-negotiable areas for leaders to be deliberate with: 

  • Leaders have to be deliberately focused on the company’s vision, especially when explaining themselves and the leadership teams intentions, this has to be clear and concisely explained – often winning with an internal motto 
  • Leaders have to be intentional in explaining what leadership is and what they expect from their leadership team and then flowing through to their teams (unfortunately this is often the breaking point in larger companies than 10) 
  • Leaders have to help those around them to be deliberate in being crystal clear in being deliberate in
    (a) what the objective is,
    (b) what your expected involvement is,
    (c) how teams are expected to work together (obvious but without being called out cracks appear in those who do not respect or trust each other)
    (d) enabling the internal experts to take the lead but
    (f) show what success looks like 
  • Leaders have to be informed about what the future of work looks like and how the future of their workplace is going to operate and be unwavering when required to lead.  
  • Leaders have to be responsible with the power of their own influence and not deliberate in not misusing their control 
  • Leaders have to know the power of internal communications – especially with the internal influencers and how to work alongside and leverage the connection and trust built with the internal influencer 
  • Leaders should be deliberate when taking a step back and removing themselves, often stepping aside or bringing in those around them to help them to develop, help to evolve business lines or importantly help to coach and mentor them to develop themselves and the success of the company 

Being deliberate in your leadership is a process you have to be aware of and constantly remind yourself of. 

Being deliberate helps you to make better, fewer decisions not more decisions.

This week review how you are being intentional, consider creating a personal and professional SWOT assessment and be more deliberate in your actions. 

Have a good week being deliberated. 


Danny Denhard  

PS – Do go and listen to The fixing the broken world of work podcast to help improve your workplace for those around you!