Anonymous Career Advice

Is there a better way of quarterly planning?

In this week’s anonymous career advice column we tackle the dreaded planning phase, a team lead asks how to improve their planning

Dear Focus, When it comes to planning my team hate it, they struggle to complete the required documents and prefer just to do it. Is there a better way of planning? 

Almost every company has a slightly different approach to planning, whether thats campaign, projects, monthly, quarterly, annual or long range planning. 

Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 49 – The Catalyst

The Catalyst

May 17th 2021.

Dear leaders, I trust you are ready for the week ahead. 

In hidden leaders and the company secret weapon, I introduced you to the concept that there are often a few people within your organisation that have a huge influence. 

Very often you have hidden leaders who you and most management and leadership teams do not understand their true value or the real role they play within your organisation. 

Today I want to introduce you to The Catalyst, they are the person in a team or a department that seems to be the colleague who kickstarts projects and has the foot on the accelerator regardless of their title and their experience level. 

The Catalyst is often found in teams that have too many thinkers and not enough delivers, they move projects and campaigns along when they see them falter or they understand the importance of the project and push the delivery forward effortlessly. 

The Catalyst is often deliberate, often sniper-like in the way they communicate and they do not always look for or crave the limelight or being called out.

The Catalyst is an essential but commonly the misunderstood part of your company culture and the company’s subculture.
Understanding how The Catalyst sets the standards and behaviours of the project is essential. Collaborating and developing their talents is imperative.

The Catalyst typically exists in every business, however, they are not often given the props they deserve or given the opportunity to grow as they are seen as a do-er. This is a big and common mistake. 

Some catalysts prefer to be under the radar but want to progress and feel they are in a good place to progress their career. 

Other catalysts are stuck under the wrong manager or blinded department lead to progress and they often leave the business because of this, if you do not have someone who springs to mind straight away you might be part of the developmental problem. 

Regular skip meetings and reviewing your managers reviews are critical ways to understand your teams and departments and understand how you can find hidden leaders, secret weapons and catalysts.

This week speak to your management team and uncover your catalysts, equally as important; if you are a catalyst arrange a conversation with your manager or department lead and ask to be considered to be coached or mentored by an internal or external coach and ask if there are fast track opportunities internally. 

Have a good week,

Danny Denhard

If you like finding out about high performers and what it takes here are five brilliant high performance podcasts to listen to or five podcasts to improve your business.

Watch The Hidden Leader 

Friday Focus

Friday Focus – Friday 18th December

Today’s Friday Focus is how to get ahead for 2021 with five quickfire tips.

  1. Write down a list of all the important tasks you need to pick up upon your return to work. Create a list, categorise, write a due date, a priority and an owner, this ensures you don’t forget the essentials and the agreed owners over the festive period.
  2. Write a thank you note to your team, quick, snappy, witty if you can and thank person by person. Celebrate the note together.
    Write your team a letter is a good read if you need inspiration.
  3. Arrange personal development plan meetings for the first week of January, this ensures your teams know you are thinking about their progress and enables you to check in on their breaks personally. Ensure you book a 45-minute slot with an agenda shown so there will be no anxiety for an unspecific meeting in the new year.
    Optimise your meetings will be an important read to help with poor meeting etiquette or management
  4. Manage your 2021 calendar today: Block out times in your calendar for the new year, habits start small and you create habits by starting early, building a prompt and creating the behaviour. Start by blocking out times for deep work (if you are a morning person book out 90-minute slots in the morning, if you are an afternoon person block out 90 minutes after 15.00).
    It’s also a great time to start planning the Q1 2021 offsites and management team training.
  5. Annual reviews re-reviewed: Annual reviews can be productive or counterproductive, what makes one party happy often makes the other frustrated. Book in a re-review session in the new year to review the annual review and offer three clear steps for the more negative elements more proactive for your team member or team. It is essential that you build trust and set expectations from your leaders to make everything proactive and actionable.
    A good follow up to read is: what leadership is
    Hidden leaders is a good read if you would like to understand your teams and your people better and uncovering your brilliant secret weapon.

End the year in the right way, start the new in the new way that will help your colleagues and teams deliver excellence and feel like 2021 is their year.

Read the 21 actions for 2021 to help you get ahead and enhance your company culture for 2021 and improve your business performance.

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.