Being an Authentic Leader

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

authentic stamp Just take a minute yourself and think….why should anyone be led by you?

Umm…not easy is it!

It’s quite a difficult question to answer and one we ask people on our Management Development Programme quite often! However to help people find their answer we introduce the theory of Authentic Leadership developed by Goffee and Jones. Here’s what Goffee and Jones have to say:

Selectively show your weaknesses

Nobody wants a perfect leader – they don’t appear to need help. Besides…who’s perfect? We often hear leaders saying “one day I’m going to get rumbled”! What is wrong with showing you’re human?

Become a sensor

What do you hear, see, feel? What is this information telling you? Use your intuition and trust your instincts. To do this, you need to hone your ability to be present, listen and understand what is happening, what is being said but also what is not being said. It’s about collecting and interpreting subtle clues, detecting what’s going on without others spelling it out.

Practice Tough empathy

empathy This is about respecting the individual whist balancing respect for the task at hand. Leaders empathize fiercely with their followers and care intensely/even passionately about their peoples work. They’re also empathetically tough. This means giving people not necessarily what they want, but what they need to achieve their best. This could include giving feedback and making tough calls.

Dare to be different

Capitalizing on what’s unique about YOU. Doing this, lets you signal your separateness as a leader but also motivates others to perform better encouraging people to take risks and be different.

Distinguish yourself through qualities like imagination, expertise, adventure.

Goffee and Jones still believe leaders need vision, energy, authority and strategic direction, but to be a truly inspirational leader you should – Be yourself – more -with skill. Our Management Development Programme focusses on being authentic, so if you want to be yourself, more, with skill why not book on the programme today. It could be your game changer!

Are your Employees Engaged and Motivated?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

We do a lot of work with businesses who contacted us because they were worried about losing some of their most talented people.

Recruiting the right people with the right attitude, values and skills is extremely difficult and the costs associated with replacing people has been said to cost between 12-18 months’ salary!


So, here’s some questions for you:-
  • Do you know if one of your best people is considering leaving?
  • Are you doing everything you can to ensure that people want to stay in your business?
  • Do you know what is motivating and engaging your teams to ensure they are giving their best?
  • Do you know what is getting in the way of people doing their best work?

These are difficult questions to answer, and the holy grail of employee engagement and staff morale can feel a mystery at times! Employee engagement is not about specific skills or individual talents. It is more than mere job satisfaction, and greater than simple motivation. Engagement is not something you can demand; it is something both you and your employee must contribute to.  Managers have a key role to play here and yet worryingly, 62% of employee’s leave their job as a result of their manager. Real, tangible economic benefits to engaging your employees are very clear:-
  • Increased retention
  • Reduced sickness
  • Greater customer satisfaction
  • Higher levels of creativity and innovation
  • Improved productivity
  • Optimum business performance
So what are the reasons why people decide to leave? Could these be some of the reasons?
  1. Lack of recognition for their achievements How many of us forget to give recognition to someone who has done a great job? Usually because we’re too busy and forget that it’s the right thing to do!  In a recent survey for a client, feeling valued and recognised was identified as the most significant area that needed to improve.
  2. Insufficient compensation and benefits This may or may not be in your control but it is worth reviewing regularly and ensuring that you are offering people competitive packages to help retain them.  Lots of our clients are finding it isn’t about salary either, it can be about flexible working or perhaps holidays.
  3. Infrequent growth and development opportunities You may not be aware, unless you ask, that your people want to progress and develop in their current role or into another role in your organisation.  Many of our surveys highlight that people do not have access to appropriate training and development.
Pro-Development can help with all these things, we can work with you and offer solutions to help you retain a great motivated team of people who are engaged in your business.  We are always happy to come in and have a chat about any of your concerns or challenges and share some of our ideas and experience of helping to raise employee engagement in your business.

Here’s what one of our clients said:-

Having been a sceptic of using external business advisers and personal developers, even though throughout my career I have been exposed to such individuals with many levels, and degrees of both interest and success, I have had to re-think my views. With Pro-Development our business has seen and experienced a totally different approach and a very positive level of results, both financially and in the progress of the business. Pro-Development have worked with our teams in their unique way with a programme of activity to support our employee engagement including events and training across a variety of job specs. They have the ability to work with both people who have sometimes to be cajoled to take part as well as those who are willing, with an enormous amount of success. Pro-Development’s programmes and continuing developments at all levels of the business, including directors, has given a new perspective to people’s approach to business life within our group of companies, even if I say the business had a solid work ethic and ethos before life with Pro-Development. Dare I say, even I have been exposed to Michelle’s and Sue’s ideas and methods which I feel have helped to build a solid workforce. Without doubt, any business wanting to grow and develop should have no reservation in working with Pro-Development, and I would strongly encourage you to at least have a look at how they can help you.   Roger Bodill, Chairman, DriveSpeed Group

Setting Goals

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Have you thought about setting your goals for 2016 yet? goals for 2016

Is it one of those things you know you should do but never get around to?

Well it’s time to break the habit and write something down as according to a study done at Dominican University, those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not!

So how do you start?

Think about

  • Your biggest learning in the last 12 months.
  • What are you going to do differently in 2016?
  • What you want to achieve next in 2016?
  • What do you want to be saying about your achievements in December?

Challenge for you!

Once you’ve reflected, take some time out to write down some personal SMART goals for 2016.

Then ask yourself …
  • Have I limited myself?
  • What could get in my way?
  • Am I excited by the goals?
  • How can I make sure that I achieve my goals?

Quote It’s a dream until you write it down, and then it’s a goal. -Anonymous

Leadership through horses

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Bringing out the best in your team

“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man”. – Winston Churchill

We’ve just had an amazing day working with some brilliant team members. Let us introduce them……

horses from leadership


Why horses?

Because your ability to lead others is put to the test! A horse can weigh more than 500 kilos and speaks in a foreign tongue, and unless you can attract and hold his interest, he may not be very interested in interacting with you. Believe us, they will also provide you with immediate, honest feedback on how you are doing!

The Directors on our Management Development Programme were certainly put to the test. They found it frustrating, rewarding, surprising and thought provoking! And it paid off, as by the end of the day they all influenced and motivated a horse (team member) to follow them by choice. What an achievement!

leading a horse






So what did our Directors learn from the team?

  • Take the time to build trust and build relationships
    • How often do you take the time to connect with people?
  • Be focused and set a clear direction
    • Do you know where you are heading?
  • Be purposeful
    • Does lack of confidence, hesitancy or indecision get in your way?
  • Keep things interesting
    • How are you engaging the team?
    • If something is not working, do you try something different?
  • Different situations require different levels of energy
    • Is using too much energy startling the team or draining you?
    • Is too little energy slowing the pace?
  • Be present and observe what’s happening
    • When did you last observe the team?
  • Step back
    • When things aren’t going as planned, do you come out of the detail?
  • Give people space
    • Are you overpowering, over focusing or micro-managing them
  • Strike the right balance between task and relationships
    • Are you so focused on the task that you forget about the people?
  • Communicate
    • It’s not just what you say, its often about non-verbal communication

Partnering with horses is an effective and impacting method to develop communication skills, increase self-awareness, inspire teamwork, collaboration and trust through genuine leadership. All attributes which are readily transferable to the workplace.

Celebrate your success!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

time to celebrate          

As the year draws to a close its time to reflect on all that you have achieved and celebrate your success, but how many times do we forget the latter?

At Pro-Development we believe one of the most important parts of goal-setting is celebrating success. Taking the time to celebrate success, no matter how big or small the achievement helps to motivate the team, builds individuals confidence in their ability, builds customer confidence in the business, encourages continuous improvement along with creativity and innovation. It also says a lot about what a great employer you are. So celebrating success is good for people and good for business too. So go celebrate in style.
  1. Write down your success and put it where it can be seen every day
  2. Reflect on the key factors that helped you to get to success
  3. Recognise all those who contributed
  4. Thank everyone involved
  5. Accept and enjoy the compliments
  6. Share the news with those close to you such as friends, family and colleagues
  7. Share the news wider via twitter, blogs, newsletters, emails. You may just inspire someone!
  8. Cross it off your list of goals
  9. Treat yourself to something lovely
  10. Have some fun!
And there’s no better time to have fun than Christmas, so happy Christmas to you all.

prodev christmas do

Christmas Advent Calendar!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

DEC 2014 Newletter tree

Happy Christmas from Pro-Development! Its that time of year again!

This year, for a bit of fun, we have created an advent calendar with relevant hints, tips, quotes and information for each day of December!

Click on the date below for todays suprise! If its a video it will open in YouTube on our Pro-Development Channel. Click the back button on your browser to return to this page.

1st December 2nd December 3 advent 4 5 6 advent 7 advent 8 advent 9 advent 4 11 12 12 12 12 12 12 12 19 20 21 21 21 21

The true recipe of Authentic Leadership

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

mdp cookery school croppedThis dish, if served as team portions, provides the following nutrients:-
  • Meaning – to help others to make sense and connect with what is happening
  • Direction and communicating with the team
  • Information to enable the team to feel empowered and accountable
  • Establishing how the team work together and value each other
  • Trust and an atmosphere where people feel able to be open and honest
  • Structure and order in ever changing and confusing situations
  • 6 Amazing Directors
  • 1 Cordon Bleu Chef called Hilary
  • 2 Doctors
  • 3 clipboards
  • 1 Tender
  • Loads of Food
  • 1 pan full of enthusiasm
  • Herbs to garnish

To make truly authentic leaders you must thoroughly prepare and make a great plan. Investing time in planning can avoid a good roasting! All plans have key deliverables, but always keep the end game in mind and plan to achieve the whole. Make sure everyone has understood the task and its meaning, and all the connections are made so that everyone is cooking from the same cook book.


  1. Preheat the team to a good degree of engagement.
  2. Every team member brings something different to the table, be it sugar or spice. Identify your team member’s strengths and provide opportunities to use them. It might just be the secret ingredient you need.
  3. Many of us took the approach of “working together” as a team, this worked very well, but remember not to get too much into the detail, use everyone around you to make sure that where possible, you are being a sensor (This may mean not intervening directly but if you don’t take the time to stand back, you may miss subtle clues or end up with a smoking oven!).
  4. Know what works well in the team; however don’t miss opportunities to try something new and different that could create an even better recipe.
  5. Define roles and accountabilities – who is in charge of chopping, stirring, cooking, presentation, delivering the meal!
  6. Check-in with the team regularly, letting them know progress against the goal, how they are doing, and listen to and value their contributions.
  7. Ask great questions, it can cost you if you don’t!
  8. Listen to what is said (as well as what is not said), you might just learn something!
  9. Remember that positive energy is there to be harnessed; with it you can create some great things. Don’t turn off the energy because you think you’re being undermined.
  10. You don’t ‘knead’ to know it all! Be aware of your limitations and when you should bring in the expertise.
  11. Finally pour the mixture over the team and sprinkle with some magic leadership dust.

The Great Giant Sunflower grow-off 2015

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

My goodness me – what a bumper crop we have had this year! Thanks to everyone for sending in your pictures of your whoppers!

The competition has been tough; over 30 people have been competing for this esteemed title, and once again we saw the return of the scoundrel squirrel. But none of this affected the steely determination of our growers.

So we are proud to announce the winner of “The Great Giant Sunflower grow-off 2015”as OWEN TURNER from United by Design ( with his amazing 9ft 8 sunflower.

.... to this!

…. to this!

From this .....

From this …..

Here’s what Owen had to say ….

“What a fun and insightful thing to do over the summer! Not only was it great to be a little green fingered and be inspired by such a wonderfully vibrant plant but doing the Grow Off allowed me to take time out, reflect and focus. Although competitive by nature doing the Grow Off became more about nurturing growth literally and metaphorically in life and at work! I shared the experience with friends and colleagues but more importantly enjoy the enriching experience at home with my wife and 2 young children. This, I think was the best part of the whole experience in all honesty. We shared, giggled, measured and discussed together from the initial planting to seeing the plants reach the heady heights they achieved. Fun, educational and of course satisfying – I recommend anyone to grow not just a sunflower but other plants too!’

Owen, we congratulate you on this life changing achievement and we look forward to you defending your title next year!

Think you’re up for the challenge?

Do you have what it takes?

Are you green fingered enough?

If so email us at with the message “Bring on the seed” and we will send you your seed in the spring. In the meantime, get mulching!

First Line Manager Programme

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Through our employee engagement reviews we often uncover that line managers are a contributing factor for people feeling less engaged in their work. Research supports this, reporting that 62% of people leave their job as a result of their manager!


But save a thought for the manager!

hmmm thinking

Many of the managers we meet have never had the new expectation of the role made clear to them; in fact, sometimes the leaders themselves don’t truly know what they expect from their managers. Often the manager has been promoted because of their technical ability within the role, and not on their ability to manage and motivate a team to be their best. On top of this, there is then the delicate nature of managing changing relationships with team members. Those who were once peers are now reporting into the new manager, finding the right balance and managing this with skill and grace is not easy.

In response to the issues we are finding, we have developed a First Line Manager Programme which explores essential elements of management and leadership to help managers become effective in their role. The programme covers a range of topics including:

sunflower dev you
  • Understanding you and your role
  • Understanding teams
  • Honest and effective communication
  • Performance Management
  • Bringing out the best in your team
  • Dealing with difficult situations
  • Delivering through others
  • Developing you and your team

There are numerous outcomes too:

  • Describe their own management style and the impact on others
  • Explain the factors which contribute to a high performing team
  • Evaluate team behaviour, taking appropriate action
  • Develop tools and techniques to communicate more effectively
  • Describe the manager’s role in performance management
  • Construct smart objectives and monitor performance effectively
  • Conduct appraisals that add value to both individuals and the business
  • Identify ways to motivate and empower individuals
  • Apply techniques for praising and rewarding people in the appropriate way
  • Explain how to manage under performers
  • Empower the team and delegate tasks effectively
  • Explore the difference between conduct and capability
  • Explain the processes in place to manage absence
  • Recognise the importance of knowing strengths and aspirations of individuals
  • Identify development opportunities and provide opportunities for growth
  • Build personal self – belief

In addition, to help embed learning we offer support including 1:1 sessions, coaching or action learning groups where managers can focus on specific challenges and issues.

Here’s what previous delegates on an in-house programme had to say:

“Overall I have enjoyed the whole experience; it has certainly been an eye opener! I did not realise there was so much to it” (Lauren – DriveSpeed)

“At times a challenging experience but unbelievably beneficial for management teams to work together” (Sabrina – DriveSpeed)

“An amazing programme. Sue and Michelle are thorough and tough when they need to be, but it’s only because they want to help you to be the best leader you can be!” (Kirsty – DriveSpeed)


This programme has a flexible approach and can be adapted to suit business need, so if you think this programme might be part of your solution to having inspiring managers why not get in touch and we can tailor a solution that’s right for you. Don’t forget – you may qualify for match funding for this programme. Click here to find out more

Can you afford to lose your good people?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

Can you afford to lose your good people?

We’ve been working with some amazing companies recently who have all engaged with us because they are worried about losing some of their best people – and with recruiting the right people with the right attitude, values and skills becoming increasingly difficult, they can see that now is the time to understand how they can retain their most talented people. What’s really concerning businesses though is the costs associated with replacing people. HayGroup estimated it can cost between 12-18 months’ salary to replace an employee!

cost of losing staff
  • Do you know if one of your best people is considering leaving?
  • Are you doing everything to ensure that people want to stay in your business?
  • Do you know what is motivating and engaging your teams to ensure they are giving their best?

These are difficult questions to answer, and the holy grail of employee engagement and morale can feel a mystery at times! Employee engagement is not about specific skills or individual talents. It is more than mere job satisfaction, and greater than simple motivation. Engagement is not something you can demand; it is rather something both you and your employee must contribute to. Managers have a key role to play here and yet worryingly, 62% of employee’s leave their job as a result of their manager.

Yet the real, tangible economic benefits are all too clear: increased retention being a key one. And there are others including reduced sickness, greater customer satisfaction, improved productivity, optimum business performance; the list goes on. So, clearly, in a recovering economic climate and an increasingly buoyant job market, the need to have an engaged workforce has never been greater.

So if you can’t afford to lose good people why not come along to our workshop on 4th November from 10.00-12noon (only £10) where we will share tools, techniques and ideas for helping to engage and connect with your teams. Click here to book a place