Authentic Leadership

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

authentic leadership MIY March 2019 We had the pleasure of delivering a workshop on Authentic Leadership in partnership with Make it York last week and I thought I would share with you this fabulous flipchart which was pulled together by the group which captured many of the thoughts on what they think it takes to be an authentic leader.

We all agreed that to be a truly authentic leader of our life, our family and our colleagues takes focus, reflection and time and is a commitment to ourselves to learn and grow.

The lovely people who attended the session gave themselves the gift of a day to consider this important area and I was so impressed with all of them for their honesty, openness, willingness to share together and learn from each other! Great leaders in my book and all inspiring in their own way!

Thank you to each one of you for a superb day ❤️ and also for their amazing feedback. It was clear that they got a lot from the event and you can read their feedback on our testimonial page.

Let us ask you a few questions … answer honestly!

So, how many of the areas from the flipchart can you say you are demonstrating as a leader?

When was the last time you asked others for feedback on your leadership?

Which are your top 3 to focus on in 2019?

Are you Inspiring people to be their very best?

Are you building an environment of honesty and trust?

Are you communicating and leading your people towards achieving business goals?

If you or a colleague would like to be the very best Leader or Manager that you can possibly be, you may be interested in Pro-Development’s Leadership and Management Experiential Development Programme which has received huge acclaim. It has been described as both game changing and life changing. Click here for more information or contact us if you would like a chat.

The business of rugby – Part 2

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

legacy book 1 2019Last week we shared our tips for developing yourself and your team following reading a great book, Legacy by James Kerr all about how the All Blacks became one of the world’s most successful sporting teams! We were quite excited that much of what we read is how Pro-Development approach individual and team development.

This week, in part 2, we focus on the steps that leadership teams need to take to engage your teams and ensure they help them to be their most productive and become a winning team.

Leading through change and Responsibility

The need for a strategy for change is crucial. The ability to adapt to the environment and not just accept what is, sets your business and leaders apart from the rest. But then, taking people with you on the journey providing a clear sense of purpose, vision and values and deliberately handing over responsibility will create an engaged team who are able to adapt to the change around them.

Do you have an inspiring purpose, vision and values? Is everyone in your team connected to this?

Create the right Environment

Successful teams create a learning environment where people are encouraged to take risks and try things out. This is what empowers people to give their very best every day. The key is to support your teams to have honest and healthy conversations with each other and you.

Do you empower people and support risk taking?

Are your teams sharing feedback and helping each other to develop?

Rituals and stories

What rituals do you have? What’s your Haka??

Our approach to employee engagement help to establish if your vision and purpose are inspiring your teams and we can help you to understand if your environment and culture are bringing out the best in people. If you are interested in finding out more, why not come along to one of our monthly workshops on the 1st May or 18th June.

The business of rugby – part 1

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

legacy book 1 2019 Following a cheeky holiday at the start of the year, I had the opportunity to read a book I have been wanting to read for ages, and with the 6 Nations over the last few weeks, it felt timely to share some insights. What I found most exciting about Legacy by James Kerr was how much of what we do at Pro-Development was reflected in how the All Blacks became one of the world’s most successful sporting teams!

This week, in part 1, we share the areas that are all about developing yourself and your team and then next week, we focus on the steps that leadership teams need to take to engage your teams.

Knowing yourself

The key to great leaders and teams is knowing yourself, well. Having a strong sense of identify and respect for yourself creates great character and a level of authenticity that inspires others!

Do you and your team really know yourselves? Are you all authentic and inspiring to each other?


Then, all of you, aim high! Aspire to world class and be ambitious. Inspiring leaders and teams help each other to achieve things you didn’t even think were possible. But also, embrace the fear of failure – it’s not always a bad thing and use this to positive affect.

Are you all supporting each other to aim high? Do you talk about this in 1:1s and team meetings?


What gets in the way for many teams is a lack of resilience when things do get tough. Prepare yourself and your teams to be emotionally resilient. Make a long-term commitment to develop and train your teams to win. Give people the tools to control their attention and help them to notice the right things by being in the moment (mindfulness). Do you find your teams crumble under pressure? Are you developing emotional resilience? Our approach to our coaching and leadership programmes, are all based on these leadership lessons. If these have resonated with you, then call us and we would be happy to discuss how we could help.

Putting people first!

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

richard branson 2019 We were asked to speak at a CIPD event last month on employee engagement, a topic very close to our hearts and something of which we are truly passionate about. But let’s face it, this isn’t a new area and as someone pointed out, it’s something we’ve been talking about for over a decade. Their question was “why is engagement not improving?”. Great question, and one which raised a great discussion within the group.

Some of the thoughts from the group were that business owners and leaders do not have enough time to focus on this. They are too busy and not making time. Others, that business leaders do not see the importance and are more focussed on the bottom line of the business. One HR professional shared that he felt the issue was down to HR not challenging business leaders enough. That HR are often been asked to undertake and implement changes which were not in the interest of people and that without challenging this more, the problem is magnified.

Our thoughts from what we are finding discussing this topic, is that it is a mindset shift. The key is to help businesses understand the positive impact such an investment will have on both people and the bottom line. And that is the key, thinking of engagement as an investment not a cost. With the cost of replacing talent now being equated to 12-18 months of a person’s salary, an investment into employee engagement will often be a fraction of this and is something that will positively impact on everyone.

The great news is, we have been running lots of employee engagement/colleague surveys with businesses in Yorkshire and the Humber so there are many companies that are putting people first and are keen to understand what they can do to help make their business a great place to work. And here are the outcomes they are finding from running a survey with us:-

• Encouraging open and honest communication with their teams

• Building trust and engagement by listening to what their people have to say

• Showing that the business cares about their people and wants to make a difference to them

• Highlighting what their strengths are as a company and building on these

• Identifying the gaps and creating a plan to address these

• Supporting employee wellbeing and improved mental health

• Improving overall productivity and profit by identifying what is getting in the way

So, if you would like to know more about employee engagement, why not come along to one of our events on the 1st May or 18th June or click here to read more about our approach to employee engagement.


Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

vlog 2019 We were talking the other day about Vlogging and agreed to write a blog. Then we laughed when we realised the irony “why don’t we just do a VLOG on VLOGGING”? Then it got us thinking, actually vlogging is changing the way we communicate with each other, particularly on social media, so why is it so popular and why does it appeal to such a wide audience?

Whilst we are no experts on it (in fact we have only just started vlogging recently ourselves) here is our take on it.

1 – You get to see a face of the company – the truth is we all want to make connections, and we can more easily make them when we can hear someone speak and see someone’s face and body language. For us it makes the person more human somehow.

2 – You can share more on a video – whether we are taking someone on a journey with us, showing something visual or simply doing some heart felt talking, you can share so much more on a video.

3 – It is pretty instant – we can get out thoughts and share our knowledge and its pretty instantaneous. We can also get some useful and quick feedback or help if we ask for it and our contacts can share the VLOG so we get further reach.

4 – It can help to build trust – we believe that VLOGs help viewers to build trust in either a brand or a person or both, it can be harder to do this in a BLOG.

So should we all be VLOGGING?

I appreciate that it might not be for everyone and it isn’t always easy to complete a VLOG if you get tongue tied or forget exactly what you want to say. But at Pro-Development we say give it a go, because we all know the benefit of making connections on a more personal level.

The Walkie Talkie Challenge

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

walking pic 2017

So, this month we are taking another group outside, walking and talking! See how the two rhyme, they were meant to be together. We’ve been talking for years now about the benefits of getting outside and having walking 1:1s and allowing for thinking time, but are you doing this?

Ummmm, our research would suggest not! Why ever not? We know we do our best thinking at 1.8 miles an hour, and believe us, that’s just a nice steady amble.

It would seem many of you are not convinced? So, this month we would like you to take the Pro-Development ‘walkie talkie challenge’. We want to see pics and hear from all of you that have broken away from the office, said no to the meeting room and got yourselves outside! Come on Yorkshire, we can do this!

If you think you or your team would benefit from a walking and talking team event, having honest conversations and breaking down barriers, get in touch and we can tell you all about the team events we run in our glorious countryside. Contact us at

Emails – Is it just me?

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

email or call Is there anybody else out their who spends ages composing an email, reads and re-reads and then hovers over the send button mustering up the courage to press the button? It is so difficult to send some emails knowing that the words we use can be interpreted in so many ways, often dependant on the mood of the receiver, the grammar and mis-use of grammar, the size of font and is it appropriate to use bold? Dare I underline? Red font means trouble, but what does blue font mean?

Why oh why are we reducing our use of the telephone? We used to use it before the advent of email and text and rarely hovered over the key pad. Is it time to bring the phone back into our lives more? Well we think so, not to replace email but to be used in conjunction with.

We often find that communication is an area that scores low on employee engagement surveys, and an over reliance on emails to communicate makes a regular appearance in the comments.

So, I would like to challenge you all today, to make a call where you would normally email. Note the difference it makes to the quality of the communication. If you find it has a positive impact, try and make a phone call part of your daily routine, just as email is. Email does have its place, no doubt, just leave a little room for a conversation … it’s good to talk!

If you would like to know more about Employee Engagement, click here. If you would like support with communication in your business, you could email us on and don’t forget you can always pick up the phone and call us on 01904 628838 for a good old fashioned chat!

Respectful Feedback

Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

treat people with respect Only the other day we were with a manager who said, “I just tell them as it is, they just want it straight, none of this softly, softly approach”. Our heart sank, but in the grips of despair, and working on our value of honesty, we decided to challenge this attitude.

No matter how ‘thick skinned’ you believe an individual to be, or how straight talking your team are, everybody deserves to have some quality and respectful 1:1 feedback. You just never know how people will react out of your sight. And we speak from experience as we often see the impact that very direct and personal feedback can have and how many people take this home at night and carry it around with them for a long time!

But let’s not get away from the importance of being honest. Too many people skirt around the edges of feedback and it is important to be honest with people. But do it in a considered way, with specific information that people can connect to, and in an environment where people can explore the feedback further without fear of colleagues listening in. We believe feedback should be done with RESPECT!

Our challenge to you…

In an Honest Conversations workshop we recently delivered, we asked 30 people to put their hand up if they had spent more than an hour thinking about a difficult conversation and then not had it. Everybody put their hand up! We also asked the same people to keep their hand up if they had spent more than an hour thinking about a positive conversation. Everyone put their hand down!

So, this week deliver some respectful feedback to your team members and remember feedback is positive as well as developmental!

If you or your team members would like support in delivering honest conversations, contact us at also click here to see how else Pro-Development can support your business.


Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

vision jan 2019 “In order to carry out positive action, we must develop a positive vision”

Dalai Lama

When we come back after a break over Christmas, it can often feel a bit lack lustre. The weather is dark and dreary and it is back to business as usual. Sometimes it takes a few weeks for us to get back into our flow and rebalance our energy levels.

We may have set ourselves some goals for the New Year, hopefully we have set some goals for the company and for ourselves. But with the best will in the world sometimes goals turn into things we talk about doing, but we don’t ever seem to complete. Do you feel like that? You are not alone.

So, what about vision? How can having a vision for ourself and our business make a difference? A vision is a picture in our mind that we have about ourself, our company or anything we may wish to pursue. Without a vision we can lack clarity of how we can pursue our dreams. Without a vision, goals can seem meaningless and we may question why we set them in the first place.

How can we create a vision?

It can seem a little daunting to create a vision, whether this is for our self or for our company. To begin with it can be really useful to ask to questions like:

• Who do I want to be?

• What impact do I want my company to have on the world?

• What difference do I want to make to my customers/clients?

These questions can help to create some clarity of our vision and of course they can be amended to suit the purpose of the vision statement. The questions may not be the vision, but the key is to energise ourselves to begin the creative process. So, begin by creating a list of really great questions that help you to craft your vision, if your vision is about your company, bring in other team members to answer the questions with honesty.

Achieving meaningless goals that are not linked to vision and purpose can be difficult and sometimes when we are further along in our journey of running a company every day can feel like an adventure and some days, we may question why we are doing it, particularly in January. It is on those days when the vision can really help us to reconnect to the passion and purpose of why we do what we do.

If you would like help in bringing your vision to life, please get in touch or, if you are available, we are running a vision board session at our REFRESH monthly leadership boost event on the 12th February. To book your place please get in touch with


Written by Michelle Mook on . Posted in Sunflower Diaries

appraisals January is the time for many businesses to undertake appraisals (performance reviews). When we talk about appraisals, does it make your heart sing or fill you with dread?

We quite often find it’s the latter! The main reason we find is that people are driven by the process and paperwork, and often, form completion and return is how managers are measured. So, no wonder this is people’s experience – is this the case for you?

When this is the case, generally the appraisal process has added little value (other than a tick in a box to say the form is complete).

However, the appraisal and indeed the whole performance management process is really just about having a good quality conversation.

The conversation should focus on the period since the last appraisal and talk around what went well, what was challenging, what has been learnt. The conversation should then focus on the future, setting new objectives and identifying any support and development the individual may need to help them to deliver. Also consider career aspirations and what steps can be taken to support career growth and succession planning.

Now I am sure you will agree, that’s a lot of talking, but wow what a great conversation to have. Even better, if you are having monthly 1:1s with your team, then this conversation is more of a summary and a celebration of key areas and a lot easily than trying to recall everything from the last year! Once the conversation has taken place, it makes sense to capture the key points, after all, we struggle to recall information after a few months, that’s a fact. This is where the main part of the paperwork comes in, capturing the key points, objectives and development plans.

So, if your appraisals are too focused on the paperwork, this year why not switch it around so the conversation drives the process. You will gain so much more value, and highly likely you will enjoy the experience. If you think your appraisal process needs a rethink or maybe your managers need some support in having good quality conversations, why not get in touch to see how we can help. Click here on our site to find how we can support your business.