15 questions

Congratulations – 15 years of Excellence in Leadership, from strength to strength! What was the spark that ignited the work you do and has that stayed as sharp throughout the years?
I have a genuine desire and passion to develop people and I fundamentally believe that I can help people with what they need.

I still have the same values and passion today – if I work with someone I’ll do what they need and it will be genuine. I will know I can help even if I don’t immediately know exactly ‘how’, I’ll know that I can and that I will. I won’t do anything just because I can but I’ll do what’s right to help when there is a genuine need. I don’t do this work because I have to but because I want to – I love it!

15 years on – what are you proud of?
I have such a genuine desire to help that I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing my clients, many of whom are still with me, grow their careers so significantly. I’ve really enjoyed seeing so many grow and being able to help them develop their careers. It has been great to see people go from beginning their leadership careers to CEO, CFO, CMO, CTO and more. My business has grown significantly and it’s all been through referral often my clients get promoted and then take me with them and I then begin to work with their teams and peers so it’s an ongoing cycle.

I’m really proud of this 100% referral rate – that just shows that together we are achieving excellence and developing leaders, teams and cultural change through growing their talent. I’m proud of my team at Excellence in Leadership, still working with the same great committed partners.

Also I take great pride in seeing the cultural development of teams and organisations that we’ve worked with and I’m really proud to have published two books with my co-author, Elisabet. This enables me to share all this wisdom more broadly than I ever could otherwise. The reason I got involved in writing the books was to enable me to reach a bigger wider audience and share more with them. If it makes the immense amount of time that everyone spends at work easier, happier and more fun then that is enough for me.

Can you share some examples of work with clients?
Of course.click here

Where did you predict the business going?
Growing – I knew there was a need in developing leaders, teams and culture and that I could really help. The challenge has been continuing to do what I love but also getting other people in my team more involved and helping them so that I can meet the need of the referrals and still keep giving the same value – and keep my own personal balance too. That is very important to me.

What might the next 15 years bring?
Both books that I have written with Elisabet are a series of 6, so there are more books to write – I want to reach as many people as I can with these valuable tools and share the knowledge. I expect we will continue to grow and I want to keep the balance that I have of doing what I love, bringing others on and helping them to do more and spending time on the other parts of my life that are important to me.

One piece of advice you’d give Mandy of 15 years ago?
Trust yourself – your gut and your passion. I learned to trust this through personal experience and I give clients this advice now, every day, don’t over analyse but trust your instinct and it’s ok not to know the answers from your logical analytical intellectual mind, sometimes just trust yourself. The more you do it the more you realise and I want to share “how” that works with others

How do you choose who to work with? What do you expect from clients?
Good question, I don’t mind who they are or what level, they just must be interested in learning and growing, even if they don’t necessarily know yet what they need. If that learning desire is there I believe I can help and we can find out what to work on by reflecting and asking others.

What’s the biggest challenge facing your clients in 2015?
That great quote springs to mind ‘money rich, time poor’ and that’s how many leaders find themselves – getting the balance can be hard and it is getting harder.

The pace of change is ever quickening and many are being asked continually to do ‘more with less’ so the pressure on time is high. Many teams are geographically dispersed and so managing virtual teams can be a challenge and is increasingly so.

While technology can be a great enabler it too brings challenges – it’s great to use different tools but we must realise that they will bring different results. Sometimes we really need space for people.

What would you do with one wish for yourself?
I’d wish to keep doing what I’m doing as I love it and to keep managing the balance between my work and my other passions – my home, family, relationships and horses.

What gift would you give your clients?
As I mentioned in my advice for my younger self, I would have them trust themselves and their gut feelings and to let go of the need to have to know everything, it’s ok to let things develop while trusting your instinct and acting upon it. Let go of the need to be right.

What inspired you to become a writer?
I realised that I could only ever reach a certain amount of people around the world and I wanted to get the message/knowledge/wisdom to reach further than that. I want to share this wisdom and pass on my experience and knowledge. I still pinch myself sometimes to think that I’m an award winning author published by the FT! I love storytelling and wanted to translate that to the business world. I wanted to share the intellectual side but also the emotional and behavioural links. I want to share “how” you do that and translate the intellectual to the emotional links and become the bridge to the business world – using language they understand, engaging people emotionally so that they really ‘get it’

Is a leader or team or culture ever ‘done’?
No, it’s always growing – I learn something every day so it’s the same ethos with client development plus things are always changing aren’t they? The environment, the market the team the world… You always have to ask yourself “how” are we progressing “what’s working well, what’s not working so well?” You have to do that just to keep up.

What excites you about the future for EIL?
Writing more and sharing the wisdom more broadly, someone once asked me if I wasn’t afraid of giving all my secrets away but that’s just the point – they aren’t secrets! If I can share and make things easier for people then why wouldn’t I? The how I do things will always be a differentiator but not everyone will be able to experience that real time. Even if it’s not the same experience there is still plenty of value and learning that comes from the books, and I want to share that as broadly as I can.

Also I’ve really found it refreshing to be working with people who are new into leadership too. I spend a lot of time with very senior leaders and I love that and I’ve also found it really refreshing working with people who are new into leadership. I love developing people and I’ve really enjoyed getting to do that in other ways too. I got involved with RBS Young Women in Leadership as I was asked as an ‘inspirational woman’ to spend time talking to young high potential women at an event. My Mum, Dad and Husband all say that “it doesn’t matter who they are – you don’t care, you have no hierarchy you just love to develop people! You are the same authentic “you” with everyone no matter if they are the CEO or a new leader or team member”. I guess that’s true, for example I sponsor an amazing para rider and I loved giving her my horse to ride rather than choosing a more established rider and it’s going so well – all of us are getting lots from that.

Have any outcomes surprised you in your work?
Well I will take my clients to where they need to go, sometimes telling them what no one else can or will and my relationships always stay strong, originally that used to surprise me but I know it’s testament to my value of doing what’s genuinely needed to help. It’s a position of privilege and I need to ensure that my clients get authentic and valuable insights. Sometimes that might mean realising that it’s time for change of direction.

You never know where a relationship will take you. One client, who was fairly “whatever” about coaching, attended a session I ran for a chief exec and their direct reports at a very large organisation. He subsequently asked me for support and we worked together. He went to become one of only two people ever in his industry to make the move and change from a technical leadership to a Chief Exec position – something he never would have predicted before we met and began to work together. I knew he could do it the moment I met him!

So what’s different about Mandy Flint and Excellence in Leadership – what’s the USP that you bring and instil in your team?
One big advantage is that I’ve been in my clients shoes and been a senior leader in a large corporation. I enjoyed that time, every now and then I get a twinge of temptation to do it again but I always remember that I love to do this via my clients and working through them to draw on my experience.

I also believe in focussing on authentic strengths not just developments with clients. Being your best you is great and it’s what will drive your success – don’t be an imposter!

One of my great values is equality for all and so I don’t adjust myself to work with clients at different hierarchical positions. I believe my clients deserve the best me and so I partner on equal terms with a CEO and also with a newly appointed leader. I stop myself to ensure that I always bring the best “ME” into the room, after all the clients deserve it. I bring my full and best self to all interactions that means I have to take time out to be my best me, running at 100 miles an hour all the time does not bring the best person into a room!

I don’t give answers either, after all it’s not my answer that’s needed. I believe the client has all the answers and all the resources to get to the right place – be that an answer or a realisation that the whole answer doesn’t need to be reached yet and they can put steps in to get to what they need to discover. I ask questions and always try to think of the coolest questions to provoke deeper insight. They need to get the answer from within themselves to create the greatest change. I let go of my ego as it would be sooo easy to just tell them the answer! That is not going to lead to their own awareness and realisation.

What I do is simple but powerful – I try to find the simplest but most effective way to get the result. It’s never about how smart I am it’s about getting to the best outcome. I love working at a very deep level with my clients and I can bridge the gap between the intellectual answer and the emotional/behavioural response with the business world in a language they understand.

I suppose a recent client conversation might sum it up.

“Can you come in and do that Disney Magic for us please?”

“What’s that specifically?”

“Oh you know that thing you do so that everyone changes and gets behind stuff… come and do that” “Get them to get the leadership bug!”