Golden Rule No 9: Stop it – it’s not about you!

We thought for this blog we’d give you a flavour for our book by sharing one of the personal stories / examples we included.  It is also a great example of where we have personally got it wrong as leaders, which is where the Golden Rules originated from in the first place!


This particular story, which is an excerpt from the book,  perfectly highlights Golden Rule No 9: Stop it  – it’s not about you!



Martin and Frankie


One of the things I prided myself on throughout my leadership career was that I made sure every month, every member of whichever team I was leading at the time would get a dedicated hour with me to talk about how things were going.


In my wisdom I used to hold these one-to-ones out of the building at the local Starbucks, knowing that we were less likely to get disturbed there. It was a great way of demonstrating to the team the importance of their one- to-one time, but if I’m really honest, it was also a perfect opportunity to get an extra hot skinny cappuccino.  Of course, I’d always buy the coffees.


Most of the team seemed to really appreciate this and would joke about which coffee they were going to have depending how well the month had gone, everyone that is except Frankie.


Often the life and soul of the team back in the office, Frankie was especially quiet during her one-to-ones at Starbucks and they were usually shorter than those of the rest of the team. But to my shame initially I didn’t think too much about it. 


One day, a couple of hours before we were due to meet, Frankie caught me in the corridor and said that she had booked a meeting room in the building for her one- to-one rather than our usual coffee shop rendezvous. I was surprised and more than a little worried: why did she suddenly need a meeting room; what bombshell was she going to drop on me?


As our one-to-one started, it quickly became apparent that Frankie didn’t have any big news or sensitive information. What I did notice was that she was doing much more talking than she had in any of her recent one-to-ones.


At the end of our discussion I thanked Frankie for being so open with me and mentioned that I thought it was one of the best one-to-ones’ we’d had. I had to admit to being a bit curious as to why she had decided to book a meeting room for this particular one-to-one rather than Starbucks. Sheepishly, she admitted she wanted to try something different because she was really uncomfortable going to Starbucks. As Frankie lived locally she really didn’t want be seen or heard by people she knew talking to her boss about how she was getting on at work. She hadn’t said anything before as she knew how much I enjoyed it and didn’t want to seem ungrateful for the free coffee.


What a wake-up call for me! I’d been making the decision about where to meet for my teams one-to-ones because that’s what I liked and unconsciously I’d been making it ALL about me – just because I loved a chat in a coffee shop and would have liked it if the one-to-one’s with my boss had been held there. I had just assumed everybody would feel the same; another great lesson learnt!



This is just one of many real life examples we’ve included in the book.  If you’d like to read the others, and find out more about the ten Golden Rules of Leadership, please click here to order your copy today


Many thanks for reading


Martin and Elizabeth 

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