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The following is a mentor-mentee collaborative blog between Paul Shaw, former England Cricket Coach, winner of back to back Ashes and founder of Inside Leadership and Ashish Kundi, Head of RS and PSHE at Bridlington School and Leader of Yorkshire RE.

On our journey we have discovered that there are so many similarities that Leading, Parenting, Coaching & Teaching have in common. The skills, knowledge, experiences and insights required in homes, the workplace, the sports field and classroom are all consistent and relevant.

Whatever the role we take on, we are all striving to enable individuals, families and teams to grow, develop and fulfil their potential and achieve their goals. Our personal philosophy has always been to enable people to go beyond what they believe to be possible.

Creating a pathway that enthuses, inspires and offers appropriate support and challenge to individuals, teams and families to succeed on their journey is a real pleasure and privilege.

Part of our role or position as leaders, parents, coaches and teachers is to build excellent relationships with managers, children, players, pupils, staff, in a nutshell, people. Strong connections and excellent relationships are crucial within any environment. To build this, being authentic and showing interest in the whole team’s development and demonstrating real confidence in the abilities with the people that we are connected to by whatever means is key.

Several areas that are key whether leading, parenting, coaching or teaching:

Clear Vision

A vision enables us to look ahead and perhaps start with the end game in mind. No one uses a train without having a destination in mind first. Having a clear vision that teams emotionally connect with, enables people to enjoy each step of their journey and strive towards achieving goals and realising their vision together.

Peter Drucker says that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ if a strategy is a road, culture is the engine in the car that gets you there’. We have to let our teams dream by doing this we provide them with the opportunity to gain perspective and go beyond what they believe is possible.

 Three key questions to consider are:

What do we want to achieve?  Why do we want to achieve it?  How will we achieve it? – this leads strategy  – These three questions will give your teams a mantra-like vision that hits the very core of your teams’ being. You’ve got to feel, what you do!


A good strategy is the road map that helps us on our journey towards realising our vision. Clear goals and objectives need to be measurable where possible and are at the heart of any strategy. Planning ahead also identifies any potential speed bumps, hurdles or challenges that individuals, families and teams can think through and offer solutions too. An opportunity to get ahead of the game.

Sir Ken Robinson, uses the analogy of Death Valley in America, where nothing grows. In the winter of 2004, it rained, as a result, in spring 2005 for a short while it was carpeted in flowers. What it showed was that Death Valley is not dead but dormant. That given the right conditions, it will thrive. Our strategy should do the same. Provide the right conditions, for teams to achieve the shared vision and thrive as individuals as well as the collective.

Role Model

Gandhi once said “Be the change you want to see in the world” this is a message very close to our hearts. Whatever behaviour we want to see in others, it is important to demonstrate regularly ourselves. Communication is important but demonstrating the required behaviour is crucial. “Actions speaks louder than words” s  prings to mind. An example is that Gandhi demonstrated this through the boycott of British goods and non-violent resistance.

To many Gandhi was a genuine hero. Tony Robbins explains that the Latin root of the word hero is servo which means to serve. The servant leadership model, which is also promoted by Ken Blanchard is crucial to unlocking the power of influence. As a parent we call it monkey see, monkey do! The teams we look after need to be inspired by our actions as well as our words.


Regular, clear, effective two-way communication is required in the household, classroom, gym and office. Two important skills firmly housed at the very heart of communication are questioning and listening. Great leaders, teachers, coaches and parents listen actively and ask great questions regularly which generate thoughts, a sense of personal responsibility and solutions to challenges. How much do we make our teams think?

Offering direction is also important as this helps with setting expectation and can offer clarity where required. Offering too much direction can result in individuals becoming stifled and perhaps more dependent on the person continually offering direction. Perhaps in a similar way we have become more dependent on the sat-nav in our cars. Consider the end game – do you want people to be dependent on you or independent?

Relationships and Emotional Intelligence

In the communication section, the importance of questioning and listening is shared. The ability to listen and to ask questions is key in the building of rapport and the development of relationships. Positive relationships are vital and fundamental in any role we may play in many of our life roles.

The common phrase “know me, before you teach me”. Is key to this branch of leadership. We must get to know our team’s mindset and ticks that motivate as well as what actions would demotivate our teams.

Daniel Goleman states that emotional intelligence (EQ) is “managing feelings so that they are expressed appropriately and effectively, enabling people to work together smoothly towards their common goals”.

Whatever the environment we find ourselves in or whatever role, getting the best out of ourselves and enabling others to do the same is key. Goleman states that four areas of EQ are important – Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management.


There are clearly times when leading, parenting, coaching or teaching we need to identify ways of engaging, enthusing, motivating and inspiring individuals and teams to do things, problem-solve or flip their thinking for themselves. The path of least resistance is to tell them what to do or to do things for them. This isn’t easy nor should it be. However, having positive relationships with individuals gives us the best chance of motivating and inspiring others.

“When we treat people merely as they are, they will remain as they are. When we treat them as if they were what they should be, they will become what they should be.”– Thomas S Monson

To show your team you believe in them share short, sharp and purposeful praise of when they get things right and encouraging them to savour it. Saying things like, ‘you were so brave to attempt the stretch and challenge task, what made you go for it?’ , ‘ I really appreciate you taking a risk and allowing the kids to walk around your classroom, how would you suggest I go about it if I did the same in my class?’ or ‘you handled the pressure of today’s game really well, what was your process?’


Trust is at the very heart of any positive relationship and is important when leading teams. When trust is absent it is very difficult to maintain a relationship and enable people to get the best out of themselves. We tend to go the extra mile when we have a positive trustworthy relationship. Think about the teacher that encouraged

you to go the extra mile…. I wonder why you did go the extra mile? I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a great relationship with that teacher and a strong trust in them and them in you. This is same with families; trust is so crucial within any household.

Simon Sinek speaks of the importance of allowing a team to be vulnerable. We have to encourage a culture within teams to be open and independent and be willing to respect

the successes and failures that come with it. Teams need to know that they can be open about their areas of development with you, without fear of secret judgement. This links to role modelling when you demonstrate that you too are fallible, vulnerable in areas, in a nutshell, human! You encourage those around you to do the same. This openness leads to goals, which lead to strategy, which ultimately then leads to growth.

Mistakes or Learnings

There is so much research available currently that suggests that we learn the most through mistakes. With this in mind, I wonder if we can flip our mind-set (Re-frame) a little and see mistakes as opportunities to learn rather than negatively looking at them. Let’s imagine that as leaders, teachers, parents and coaches we embrace the mistakes as learnings and respond positively and reinforce the learnings. I wonder if individuals and teams would be more creative and more willing to try things.

Just a thought, if you have ever parented a toddler you may relate to this. They will climb anything! Climbing frames, furniture, their parents! However, when they fall, you can guarantee that within 5-10 minutes they will go at it again. Toddlers are prepared to fail and they are not frightened of being wrong, this bravery is what allows them to grow and learn. When we create a culture where failure and getting things wrong is perceived as a step towards the end goal, growth will happen rapidly.


We can all remember a time when someone close to us said they would do something for us or perhaps promised us something and didn’t follow through. Can you remember how you felt at the time? I certainly can and I use those feelings to drive me to follow up anything I communicate with action and full commitment. If we talk the talk, it is crucial, we walk the walk and fully commit to doing what we said we would. This also sends a strong message and positive behaviour that others follow.

The engine that helps people maintain reliable behaviours is their sense of purpose, their purpose should be rock solid. Confidence is different to purpose and it will go up and down and this can at times impact your level of commitment. If your purpose is firmly fixed and hits you on an emotional level then through the really challenging times you will pull through and fulfil your commitments.

Support Networks

There is an old African proverb that states- “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

We all need support networks with people who we trust, who are willing and able to support us, challenge us, offer feedback and stretch us. As a parent, leader, coach or teacher, who is in your support network, what do they offer? What do you offer them? I wonder how often you tap into your network and for what reasons? Perhaps it’s worth thinking about who you need in your support network? Les Brown uses the phrase, “Birds of a feather, flock together”, ensure your flock inspires both personal and professional growth.

Are you creating a pathway and enthusing, inspiring, offering appropriate support and challenge to individuals, teams and families to succeed on their journeys through life and work?

Whether you’re a leader, parent, coach or teacher why not take on the exciting challenge of challenging common perception and enabling people to go beyond what they believe to be possible.

It has been a pleasure and honour working with Paul and it continues to be a great journey which has led to both personal and professional growth.

This mentoring has been supported by Activfirst with funding through Activbusiness, take a look at the support we can offer to Bridlington based businesses and employees.