Tag Archives: Strategy

The EASY way to prioritise ANY list

In my experience, one of the things people in the business world find most challenging is how to prioritise.

Theoretically, it should be easy. In reality, it often ends up in confusion, unnecessary complication, and, worst of all, delays in getting things done.

So how can you prioritise you ‘to-do’ list easily?

Here’s a simple method:

  1. make a list of your ‘to-dos’
  2. number the list, in numerical order, top to bottom
  3. decide on one prioritising question. e.g.: which needs doing first?
  4. compare all of the items on the list with all of the others, see below
  5. best of all, it takes justa  couple of minutes!

How to compare every item on the list with each other

Let’s say there are 5 items on the list.

Start with item 1, and compare it with item 2, asking (e.g.) ‘which needs doing first, 1 or 2?’. Put a tick against whichever item ‘wins’.

Do the same again, comparing 1 with 3. Then 1 with 4. Then 1 with 5. Each time, put one tick against which item ‘wins’.

You have now compared item 1 with each of the others.

Now move to item 2, and compare it with item 3 (you do not not need to compare it with item 1 as you have already done so above), and add the relevant tick. then compare 2 with 4, then with 5.

Now move to item 3, and compare it with item 4 (you do not not need to compare it with items 1 or 2  as you have already done so above), and add the relevant tick. then compare 3 with 5.

Then compare 4 with 5.

List Prioritised!

You now have a list of 5 items, and the number of ticks against each quickly and easily shows you the priority – the more ticks, the higher the priority.

It’s then easy to rearrange the list in order of priority.

TIP: you may end up with one or more items on your list with no ticks at all. So, these are obviously of a lower priority when compared with the other items on your list. However, it may also be a sign that they might not have any priority for you at all (double-chek by adding them to a list of different items, or by using a different prioritising question).

To find out more about how professional coaching, mentoring and consulting can improve your productivity, thinking, and decision-making, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

The essential 21st century leadership tool: emotional intelligence (part 1)

This is the first article (of 3) looking at the contribution emotional intelligence (‘Ei’) makes to leadership.

No doubt, you will have heard the term ’emotional intelligence’?

What do you think it means? Here are some common responses:

  • does what it says on the tin?
  • trendy psycho-babble that will disappear as soon as the next trend comes along?
  • new neuroscience that is yet to be proven?
  • or something else?

Firstly, let’s look at a very common misunderstanding about Ei: that is it ‘new’.

Of course, humans have always had ’emotional intelligence’, but did you know that the roots of our current understanding of it and when it  was specifically identified date back to the work of Thorndike circa 1920?

That’s right! Our knowledge of emotional intelligence is almost 100 years old! Certainly not new!

The term ’emotional intelligence’ was certainly being regularly used in American academia in the 1960s, and it reached the world of popular science in the early 1980s. Since then, research and our understanding has continued apace, not least as shown by the plethora of books on the subject (not all of them good, I hasten to add!).

So, it’s probably been around longer than you thought, and our understanding of Ei has now reached the point where we can accurately measure it, we understand how to change it, and we know how to develop it in making those changes.

The really ‘good’ news is that Ei is something you can continuously develop.

But what is Ei?

Whilst it has many measurable component parts, here’s a summarised description:

“Emotional intelligence is the awareness and understanding of the relationship between our attitudes (thoughts), or feelings, and our behaviour, how they influence each other, and the impact they have on our relationships with ourselves and with others.”

To think of Ei in graphical form, see the image at the top of this post – trying to keep the three elements (thoughts, feelings, behaviour) balanced is where we should aim to be.

But, how does Ei apply to leadership in simple terms?

As this is the first article in this series, I’m going to briefly look at the ‘cornerstone’ of Ei: attitudes. Attitudes are the core ‘building blocks’ from which our Ei is ‘built’, supported and developed.

For a leader to be successful, from an emotionally intelligent standpoint, they need to have their attitudes in balance.

By this, I mean how well they understand and develop the regard they have for themselves (how they truly and accurately accept themselves ‘warts and all’), and how they keep it in balance with how ell they understand and develop the regard they have for others (how they truly and accurately accept others ‘warts and all’ without judging them or ‘colouring’ they opinions of them).

As you can see, this is an essential part of leadership as any leader needs to be able to understand themselves and in doing so develop an understanding of the other people they work with and are being asked to lead.

For more information, please try this further reading – my earlier blog  articles:

“So, just what is emotional intelligence? (part 1)”

“So, just what is emotional intelligence? (part 2)”

“Emotional intelligence Trump style: how much Ei does The Donald have?”

(based on the Ei Model developed by JCA Global Limited, and the book “Emotional Intelligence @Work” by Jolyon Maddocks)

To find out more about measuring and profiling Emotional Intelligence, particularly in developing leaders and managers, and in assessing your teams and recruitment needs, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

 

Do or delegate: making better decisions

If you commit to just one thing in 2017: make better decisions!

Making decisions, any decisions, is a habit.

Like all habits, the more we do it, the ‘better’ (theoretically, at least) we get at it.

Equally, when we get out of the habit, the quality of our decisions goes down.

But the worst thing we can do, especially in a leadership or management scenario, is not to make any decision at all. Indecision represents one of the greatest risks to any organisation.

But, what if it’s a bad decision? Surely, that’s worse than making no decision at all?

Nope! Definitely not!

A bad decision can be corrected. No decision results in emptiness, vagueness, and a complete lack of direction.

Because, that’s the main outcome from making decisions: direction.

Whether it be a new direction, a change of direction, continuing the existing direction, or bringing the current direction to a halt, it is fundamentally dependent on decisions.

Now, the vast majority of leaders and managers (and business owners) will experience regular challenges in their ability and willingness to make decisions.

So, here is a simple tip to help you keep your decision-making on track:

  • every time something arrives on your desk, adopt the simple motto “do, or delegate”.

Either deal with it yourself (the “do”), or give it to someone else (the “delegate”) with clear expectations of when you need it done by and what outcomes you expect. Do not just let it sit there, or put it aside!

So, remember, the best ‘first step’ to making better decisions is to make a decision!

Do, or delegate!

To find out more about how I work with my clients to improve their decision-making, and help them build better, stronger and more profitable businesses, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

How did that happen? A winning strategy from Mr Trump!

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So, on the day before the US election Donald Trump was given a “1%” chance of winning.

The rest, as the oft-used phrase goes, is history.

But how did he do it? How did he pull off one of the greatest surprises in US election history? What were the key parts of his strategy that turned the odds so unexpectedly (and seemingly so suddenly) in his favour?

Actually, as with so many unexpected successes, it revolved around something we should all do more of when it comes to developing a successful strategy: research!

In Mr Trump’s case, his team’s research clearly determined three key opportunities for success:

  • the profiles of those who were most likely to vote for him in the battlefield states
  • the profiles of those (in the same regions) who would vote for him if he appealed directly to them, and
  • the issues that these groups valued the most (and therefore would be most likely to vote in support of)

Now, whether you agree with Mr Trump or not, and thanks to the way the Electoral College system works, it proved a winning strategy.

Once this data was collected, his campaign focused on delivering clear, simple and easily understood messages over, and over, and over again. They poured their resources into the things they knew (or, at least, could be reasonably sure of) would deliver the outcomes they sought.

The result?

Well, we all now know what happened next.

But what does this tell us about building a successful business strategy?

Three key things:

  • keep it clear and simple (remember the equation: simple + clear = effective) so that everyone understands it (and so can easily ‘buy in’ to it)
  • focus on a clear and defined end result that you’re aiming for (of course, making sure it is realistic), and
  • every step between where you are now and where you want to get to will require clear decisions to be made, so make sure you make them whenever they are needed

And, above all, make sure you do relevant research beforehand!

To find out more about how to build a successful strategy for your business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2016. All rights reserved.

Choosing the best business coach for you

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Let’s face it. Choosing a good coach to work with you and your business is a potential nightmare!

After all, what makes a good coach?

How can you be sure you’re getting a genuine professional?

How can you minimise the risks in choosing one and what should you expect from them?

Whilst none of these have straightforward answers, there are a few things you can do to minimise any potential risks, and dramatically improve how you find and select not only a good coach, but a great one.

To start with,  remember this ‘golden rule’: always, always, always do your research before you choose your coach.

In doing that research here are a few simple steps to focus on:

1) Ask the ‘coach’, “What is “coaching”?”

Can they clearly and simply explain the key differences between coaching, mentoring, counselling, training, teaching and telling?

TIP: make sure you know what “coaching” actually is. If you’re not sure, click here to ask me for a definition.

If the ‘coach’ cannot give a detailed and correct answer to this simple question, move on to your next candidate straightaway.

N.B.: most so-called ‘coaches’ cannot answer this question correctly!

 

2) Are they genuinely professionally qualified in coaching?

It is estimated that over 85% of so-called ‘coaches’ are not professionally qualified in coaching.

Alarming, isn’t it?

So, beware! An unqualified ‘coach’ could do untold damage to your development and the success of your business. It also means they probably do not have professional indemnity insurance for delivering coaching services (I am yet to come across an insurance provider who wouldn’t require a professional coaching qualification).

Sadly, there are a vast number of flaky (to be diplomatic) ‘coaching courses’ out there, almost all of which are well below acceptable professional standards, let alone being robust enough to be genuine qualifications.

Establishing the credibility of any ‘coach’s’ professional qualification can be tricky, but a few simple checks can make a big difference and bring much greater peace of mind to the selection process.

In my view, the best professional coaching qualifications in the UK are obtained from UK universities and management schools. Clarify whether the qualification was classroom-based (good) or distance learning (not so good).

There are also a small number of professional bodies and dedicated coaching qualification providers who deliver good quality qualifications. e.g.: the CIPD (predominantly HR focused, for delivering coaching within an organisational development programme), the International Coaching Federation (a dedicated coaching skills qualification provider who has improved the quality of their programmes considerably in recent years), Eurocoach (again another dedicated coaching skills qualification provider who is gaining in reputation for the quality of coaches they produce), to name but a few.

Note: many ‘coaches’ have completed in-house coaching skills programmes from when they were working within large organisations. Be careful! These are rarely genuine qualifications or aimed at developing coaching skills to a professional standard (of course, there are a few exceptions). These programmes are usually designed for the ‘coach’ to be working within the organisation, rather than being independent. If your preferred ‘coach’ has been trained in this way, establish how they have adapted to being a professional independent coach before going further.

(TIP: if you’re thinking about qualifying as a coach, remember the simple ‘rule’ of coaching qualifications – on the whole, you get what you pay for!).

 

3) Check-out their specific post-qualification coaching experience.

It may sound like a contradiction, but the professional qualification does not ‘make’ the coach in the fully rounded, competent professional sense.

It is their post-qualification experience that really defines a coach’s credibility and expertise as a genuine coach.

When I qualified as a coach back in 2004, I completed around 150 hours of post-qualification coaching with a very wide range of business clients before I felt I had reached a level of professional competency and ‘rounded’ coaching ability required in a professional, independent coach.

All professional coaches will understand the need to continuously and pro-actively review and develop their skills and abilities throughout their careers, learning from every coaching session they deliver. As such, an experienced coach tends to work in specific areas of delivery that reflects their skills and experience (as this will provide greater empathy with the subject matter). In my case, for example, I concentrate on working with business clients around their leadership, business strategy and growth management requirements.

So, look for a genuinely qualified professional coach with a delivery focus in the areas you are seeking to change or develop.

Remember, it is not unusual to enlist the expertise of more than one coach in order to make sure their collective expertise is aligned with all of your requirements.

 

So, that’s it!

Three, hopefully, simple steps to help you find the best coach for you.

Just remember to do your research first.

If you’re unsure about anything here, or if you have any questions about coaching, please get in touch – I’m here to help.

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2015-17. All rights reserved.

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Drop your obsession with ‘being in busYness’!

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Have you noticed there’s something of an obsession among ‘business people’ to be seen as constantly, and dare I say chaotically busy?

There seems to be an almost unwritten ‘law’ that telling everyone you meet how excessively busy you are is somehow good for their business.

But what does it actually do for their business? What messages does it send out? Is it really what current and potential customers want to hear?

Most importantly, are these people just busy being busy, or are they actually busy being productive? There is a huge difference!

I’ve made a study of over 100 micro businesses over the last 2 years, and here are the conclusions.

Unsurprisingly, the people who are busy being productive are very much in the minority – typically just 1 in 10 at best.

The remainder are, quite literally, busying themselves with what they consider is ‘being busy’, yet have very little output to show for their efforts.

In many of these cases, they have a firm belief that filling their time with what they consider to be “essential” or “important” tasks is good for their businesses, sends out a positive message, and as a result they are “too busy” to do other things (which would improve their productivity).

But what are the causes of this obsession with busyness?

Well, from the businesses I have looked at, it’s fundamentally about being disorganised – poor diary/time management, not prioritising the necessary tasks, not thinking clearly about being productive instead of just being busy, and consistently not understanding the full requirements of each task (including what they would deliver, how long they would take to complete, what the whole task requires, and so on).

So, how can you improve your productivity and free-up more of your time in the process?

Try these 3 steps:

  1. Make a list of your essential tasks first. Then note down everything you need to complete each task (and I do mean everything): whose help/input you will need, what materials and other resources you need, deadlines, etc, then work out how long it will take to complete fully.
  2. Prioritise these tasks – simply compare each task with all the others, and decide which task in each comparison is most important. The number of ‘wins’ from each comparison that each task gets, gives you your prioritised list – the more ‘wins’, the higher the priority.
  3. Give yourself feedback on how successfully you increase your productivity – do you estimate enough time, do you remember everything that each task requires, how is it benefiting your customers and your business, and so on?

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2015-17. All rights reserved.

What Makes Customer Service So Difficult (for so many)?

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How many organisations, not least the ones we all have to deal with (e.g.: utilities, local councils, etc), just can’t wait to tell us how good their customer service is?

Or should that be how good they think their customer service is?

In reality, just how good is it?

Remember – the most important ‘rule’ of customer service is simply…give your customers exactly what they want.

Because? Because they want what they want!

I know that sounds obvious, but how many companies (of all descriptions) actually do that?

Answer: not enough!

Achieving genuine excellence in the field of customer service really is not difficult.

It may be an old, and well-worn adage, but little things really do make the difference. Solid, simple, clear thinking is vital to success – one of the easiest things to do, and yet is so often not done!

No doubt you remember K.I.S.S.? Keep It Simple (Stupid)!

Some years ago I was being spurred on to create a new attitudes, behaviours and skills development programme simply called ‘Customer Connected®’ – driven by my frequent poor experiences, as a customer, when dealing with all sorts of organisations.

Here’s an example of poor service I received recently:

I am a member of a certain health and fitness organisation (yes, tough to understand I know!).

As always, they let me know, in a letter in the post (!) a few weeks in advance of when my membership is up for renewal. Thanks for the reminder. Well done.

Now, you would think that letter would let me know the best membership deal available for my needs and, just for a bit of further information, what other membership options are available, wouldn’t you?

After all, it’s a great opportunity to grab a bit of ‘one-to-one’ with the customer and show them how much you want to meet their needs, and is so easy to do.

But no!

Firstly, the letter contained two spelling mistakes, four simple grammatical errors (commas and apostrophes in the wrong place/missing, etc). Inexcusable!

But even worse was that the letter contained absolutely no information about what my membership renewal options were, didn’t actually tell me when my current membership expired, and then asked me to contact them to discuss it!!

In other words, the emphasis was on me, the customer, to do their work for them to get what they should be providing me with in the first place!

Appalling! Bad move on the customer service front! Very bad!

Important: the company failed the simplicity test – as one deal runs out, letting the customer know of the best deal they can provide, rather than writing to them with no information at all, takes exactly the same amount of effort! So do it!

So, I checked the company’s website, only to find I cannot renew my membership online! This is 2015! The world is online! By now I, as a customer, am distinctly unimpressed!

So I grab the phone. After a few minutes of being ‘held’ in a telephonic abyss, I eventually get to speak to a human being. Who promptly enters into a written ‘script’, and tries to explain all sorts to me, absolutely none of which was of any relevance, instead of actually listening to what I wanted! Dear, oh dear!

It turns out that the staff who are directly interfacing with their customers cannot, repeat CANNOT attend to anything that the customers might want if it doesn’t fit with the very limited range of services that are available on their computer.

Yet two-thirds of customers ask for something different!

To cut this story short, it turns out that the ‘best’ membership deal is actually one of their standard products. Great. So why doesn’t your website and your letter say that?

Another addition to my poor customer experience!

Can my membership be renewed there and then? Yes. Great! At last!

So, what infathomable reasons are there for me being forced to experience this level of poor service when providing all of the information in the letter would have made me a happy customer straightaway?

Goodness knows what the real answers are to that question, but, in essence, they missed a major and so simple an opportunity to deliver great service.

Somebody, somewhere in that organisation approved the letter, designed the website (or, rather, didn’t design it), purchased and configured the telephone system, employed the customer ‘service’ personnel, and trained them not to serve the customer – all of which costs considerable amounts of money!

Or, to put it another way, adds enormous cost to the business. Cost which has to be recovered through their charges to customers, let alone the frustrations inflicted on the customers themselves.

So, if the original letter had simply advised me of their best deal, instead of nothing at all, quite a few of those additional costs could be avoided, allowing lower charges for customers or more money for investment, and, most importantly of all, much happier customers.

The lesson from all this?

However much your customer spends with you, however much interaction you have with them, and however valuable they are to you and your business, keeping them happy really isn’t difficult! Just think clearly from their position and give them exactly what they want!

For some reason, so many organisations have an overwhelming and inexplicable desire to take something really simple and make it as complicated as they possibly can. Madness!

If you really value keeping your customers happy (and happy customers tend to be profitable ones) – please, please, please don’t do it!

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2015-17. All rights reserved.

Networking: the centre of the onion!

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I am often asked what networking is ‘about’.

Needless to say, there are as many views on networking as there are networking events,  just about everyone wants to get more from their networking, and those who say it ‘isn’t working’ for them are usually the ones who go about it the wrong way.

So, here is a very quick selection of hints and tips I have picked up over the last 28 years…

Firstly, let’s look at how networking goes wrong.

Networking is NOT:

  • About collecting as many business cards as you can
  • About selling there and then!
  • About constantly blowing your own trumpet
  • About dominating conversations
  • About being a robot

 

Now, the simple, easy things you can do to get your networking right!

Networking IS:

  • About building mutually effective, productive relationships
  • About listening and being genuinely interested in the people you meet!
  • About reminding people you exist (N.B.: they WILL forget from time to time!)
  • About getting to know others and letting others get to know you
  • About being ‘real’

 

The most effective networks contain these (at least) – which ones are you?:

  • Highly respected, well-connected, pro-active referrers
  • Regular, repeat customers
  • Great value, reliable suppliers

Remember, building a great network that works for you and those that are connected to you is like being in the centre of an onion. Try to build layers of people you know – get to know 10 people well, and let them get to know you well too, and they will each remember you to 10 others as they network.

So spending the time and effort to build 10 really good relationships, could increase your network by 100 connections.

Especially remember most of all that networking isn’t all about you! Refer and connect those in your network who you have good reason to.

Good luck!

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2015-17. All rights reserved.

Your Business Growth TEST

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Are you ready to grow your business?

Do you really want to grow your business?

Let’s see!

Simply answer YES or NO to the following questions:

1) Do you readily accept and learn from both successes and failures? YES or NO

2) Will you change your business habits and practices if doing so will secure your growth? YES or NO

3) If required, are you committed to employing others and/or recruiting suitably skilled and experienced associates? YES or NO

4) If justified, are you willing to borrow money, or put in more of your own money, to grow your business? YES or NO

5) Are you completely committed to giving your customers exactly what they want (at the very least)? YES or NO

6) Will you strengthen your business by investing some or all of its profits back into the business? YES or NO

7) Will you invest in appropriate professional services to bring the necessary skills and experience into the business and enhance your success even further? YES or NO

How did you do?

If you answered YES to every question, you are definitely ready to grow your business now – and I can help!

If you answered YES to at least four questions, you might well be ready to grow very soon – and now is the time we should work together to plan your next steps.

Of course, I’m just a phone call away, and ready to help you and your business succeed.

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2015-17. All rights reserved.

The elephant in the room: Engagement!

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Engagement.

Perhaps one of the most important skills for anyone in business, or any other part of life for that matter, is the ability to genuinely engage with our fellow humans.

For the purposes of this article, I will look at what is required for great engagement from an emotionally intelligent aspect.

The understanding of emotional intelligence (‘Ei’) and its influences continues to develop apace.

There are key, measurable elements of Ei that contribute significantly to our ability to thoroughly engage others, and I have described four of these below.

Firstly, let’s look at awareness – how aware we are of our own feelings telling us what we want, like and need, and how well we balance that with how aware we are of others’ feelings telling them what they want, like and need. Keeping our ‘self awareness’ and ‘awareness of others’ in balance is essential to high levels of engagement, and key to developing our Ei.

Can you tell when you’re ‘having a bad day’? What effects does it have on you in terms of your emotions, your thoughts, and how it influences how you behave?

Now, can you tell others’ emotions, and adapt your thoughts and behaviour accordingly in order to engage them successfully?

The next to look at is your ability to connect (sometimes called ‘personal connectedness’ in Ei journals) – how well you create and build significant connections with others by sharing yourself with them. Really, this is self-explanatory, although the ‘sharing yourself’ is more about letting the listener know you’re a ‘genuine’ human being with interests, habits and foibles, just as they are.

Then there is authenticity (sometimes called ‘invitation to trust’) – how well you invite others to trust you.

If you analyse what builds trust, it is mainly because the other person displays their principles (which they stick to), they are reliable (they do what they say they’re going to do), they’re consistent (in terms of their views and their behaviour), and you get a chance to ‘know’ them (reassuring you that they’re a ‘real’ person, not a robot!).

How well do you demonstrate your principles, your consistency, your reliability and let others get to ‘know’ you?

Your success at engaging others depends on it!

Finally, for this article, is how you build trust with others accurately.

In simple terms, we should build trust in others based on the evidence they present to us. The key is to start from a ‘neutral’ point – neither mistrusting, nor over-trusting, but allowing trust to build based on the evidence.

This ‘carefully trusting’ position allows you to build trust more accurately in others. If you trust them appropriately, your willingness to openly engage with them is higher.

So there you are, four relatively simple elements of Ei, all of which, with practice, will substantially enhance how well you genuinely engage others, and, essentially, how engaged they will feel with you and how much more effective that relationship will be.

 

(based on the Ei Model developed by JCA Global Limited, and the book “Emotional Intelligence @Work” by Jolyon Maddocks)

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, including using emotional intelligence, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2015-17. All rights reserved.