Hi Malcolm,

Hope you’re well. Just wanted to let you know that I heard today from my boss that I have been promoted to Senior Director, effective February!

Thank you for all of your help in driving me to be more strategic and to frame my interactions so that I can achieve what I need, I greatly appreciate it.
— Current client, International software company

A Wonderful Afternoon...

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A fantastic afternoon for a client's leadership team hosted at Staffs University with Prof Marc Jones and Dr Matt Slater from the Faculty of Health Sciences talking about the scientific background to behaviour, Andy McCann who organised, provided seemless continuity, insights  and contributions and David Radford-Wilson MBE talking about his experiences co-leading the army expedition up the west face of Everest. 

Great learning.

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In today’s complex and uncertain world, how can you use coaching and mentoring to untangle messy problems and find solutions that will help you – and your staff – to survive as well as thrive? What strategies can help you to enhance the potentials and overcome the pitfalls of the leader-as-coach?

This online course will show you how to apply eFIRE, a unique coaching model, to increase your impact as a leader, reflect on your experiences and receive peer feedback. You’ll explore a variety of coaching cultures through vignettes and the lens of leaders who are experiencing challenges with staff.


Latest Internet of Things Community blog: Does your Resilience match the requirements of IoT Age Leadership?

I’m here to help IoT business leaders achieve great results in this fast moving environment. 

The demands on leaders is growing exponentially. As Robert Kegan said in his book of the same name, we’re “In Over Our Heads”(1) Now, leaders have to have an understanding of biosystems & constructive depolarising!

Passive reaction is no longer an option. We can’t we just bob along with the current as they have a habit of taking you to places you don’t necessarily want to go. Suddenly, there’s a roaring noise in your ears as you approach a fall (which could be a physical health, mental health, career, or relationship fall). How then can you maximise your impact on your business?

A great starting point is checking your own Resilience. This is your mental toughness; your ability to think clearly and bounce back after adversity. It is a quality that is essential to develop. You may recall I referred in a previous article to Stoneage 1.0 - our operating system, which hasn't evolved to deal with the nuances of ‘threat’ with which most of us nowadays have to deal. ( ‘A report to be read by 4:30’ as opposed to ‘A dinosaur coming into our cave’!) Consequently we go through the same reaction to a threat as if it were a dinosaur.. we prepare for fight or flight. 

Conversely, “A Challenge State reflects a positive mental approach to pressure situations where our mental resources meet the demands of the situation. … Blood is delivered to the brain efficiently, and this highly important for mental functions such as concentration, decision-making, and having control over thoughts and emotions.” (2)

The differences in how we approach and react to situations have big implications for both our personal performance and consequently our business’s performance. 

Why not contact me to find out more about your own Resilience and how you can improve it? The results will not only impact you but your business. malcolmnicholson@aspecture.com or + 44 (0)1932 267597.

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 (1) Kegan, R. 1998 “In Over Our Heads; The Mental Demands of Modern Life” Harvard University Press; New Ed edition
(2) Turner, M. Barker, J. 2014 “What Business Can Learn From Sport Psychology: Ten Lessons for Peak Professional Performance” Bennion Kearny

Morzine, 7-10th September 2016


I am just looking back on a wonderful 4 days in Morzine with Andy McCann and DNA Definitive working with NEOMA Business School and a fantastic and truly international group. 

Culture, Wellness & Toxicity

I have been receiving a lot of positive comment from my most recent International Coaching News article, “Wellness – Where does it fit in a leader’s priorities?” (See http://www.aspecture.com/publications/ )

This pulls together the implementation of Wellness programmes and an organisation’s culture. Whilst wellness programmes make good business sense, the article concludes “For the investment in wellness and wellness coaching not to be an expensive folly, leaders need to ensure … that they act with integrity and compassion.” Coaching too must up its game and make sure that leaders are acting with the best of intention and with greater awareness of their impact.

The misaligning of actions and their interpretation can subsequently lead to the toxification of a culture that I’m calling ‘Toxicity by Omission’ or its shadow, ‘Toxicity by Design’.

Toxicity by Omission occurs when a leader doesn’t take into consideration how their actions - or lack of them - will be construed or misconstrued. It could be omitting to communicate; omitting to address performance or behavioural issues; omitting to challenge or omitting to create clarity. This creates a void between intention and interpretation. Omission is the most common way that a toxic culture is inadvertently created. It is often a reflection of the time pressures that leaders are under.

To give an example. I was speaking with a European HRD who was telling me their business was going through a merger. There was only minimal risk of job loss to the staff for which this person had responsibility. However, the HRD was so busy dealing with the merger issues that they didn’t put through the annual salary increases and bonuses. It was only after we discussed it that they realized the potent impact this would have on moral. Toxicity by Omission.

Toxicity by Design is (hopefully) less common and occurs when a leader knows what the consequences are but continues for the wrong reasons. It could be driven by narcissism, greed, ambition, need to dominate or believing their own publicity. So the business that was ruled by a narcissistic leader forced good people to develop the wrong behaviours – falsifying, pressuring staff and miscommunicating.

Executive coaching must create the framework for leaders to challenge the status quo. Leaders may not be able to solve all the issues affecting their business, but must address the environment, workload, politics and culture within which their people work. There is no room for complicity in poor peoples’ decisions. This will then enable the full ROI of wellness coaching to be felt throughout the organisation.




Ring any bells in your organisation? Contact me to discuss on malcolmnicholson@aspecture.com or +44 (0)7968 763312.