Before the Goldrush

5 key learning points from Rio

It is hard to get your head around the achievements of Team GB these last couple of weeks.  Those of us who are old enough may remember getting up early in the morning to watch David Hemery win Britain’s solitary gold on the track in Mexico, and the stir that created.  20 years ago in Atlanta the haul was one solitary gold medal for the whole games.  The role of the eternal also-ran seemed ours for the taking, GB were simply not able to compete with others.  Set against this backdrop, the performances at these games and the sheer dominance in some events, seem unreal.

These changes haven’t happened overnight though and it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise when tracking each subsequent games up to London 2012.  It takes time to develop greatness.

So what is needed to achieve high performance?

  1. Investment – the correlation between lottery money and success is undeniable, if we want to be successful we need to invest. For business this could mean money but it also means investing time and effort to help people excel.
  2. Knowing what Good looks like – setting targets and goals has helped Team GB and the teams within.  Setting out clear expectations of individuals and making tough decisions when needed.  Business follows exactly the same principles (or should do).
  3. Going from Good to Great – Dave Brailsford is widely credited with the success in Cycling and you may have heard him talk about “marginal gains”. That means having 1-1 conversations with people to find out all the tiny adjustments that can be made to their environment, that cumulatively lead to success.  Business should do that too, creating optimum conditions so people can be great.
  4. Values – at the heart of the cycling team is a set of core principles, things like “ownership” and “commitment” and these are coached and lived and breathed to create professional athletic behaviours.  Businesses also have core values and the very best ones believe in them and use them to drive professional behaviour.
  5. Feedback – our athletes are possibly the most observed and critiqued people you will ever see, every performance and nuance of performance will be played back, each time providing instant feedback on how to improve.  Business should provide, if not the same level, at least regular instantaneous feedback and conversations about performance.

Of course it isn’t all as straightforward as that and it may take time in business to begin to see a return on all of the above.  But if we start now with our people we may well see some quick wins and, in the words of BBC commentators who insist on turning nouns into verbs, they may even eventually “medal”.

I will be talking more about this on our “Performance Management: Courageous Conversations” at St Helens Chamber on 8th September and there are significant discounts for Chamber members.

Posted by John Drysdale
19th August 2016
John's Blog


NEW: Heriott Watt University

We are delighted to announce we are now working with Heriott-Watt University to deliver the Welcome to Leadership programmes for their managers. The university has a large international presence with an ambitious strategy and we are looking forward to working with their Professional and Organisational Development team. Heriott-Watt is the latest University to join our growing list of valued customers within Higher Education and we are grateful for this amazing opportunity.

New ILM Coaching & Mentoring Programme – May 2022

Due to the ongoing success of our ILM Coaching & Mentoring Programmes, we have now scheduled in a second cohort for 2022.

The programme is already receiving plaudits and as a result we are growing our community of ILM Coaches and Mentors progressing towards an internationally recognised qualification.

Watch out also for our special preview events ‘Take Your Coaching To The Next Level’ running throughout March, April and May.

Information on the programme can be found here.

ILM Coaching & Mentoring May 2022

Contact us on:   or call 0844 873 1226


ILM Coaching & Mentoring September 2021

We are looking forward to starting our new cohort joining The Coaching Programme, leading to qualifications in Coaching & Mentoring from ILM at Level 5 and Level 7.

The programme begins on Friday 17th September 2021 with our ‘Coaching Foundations’ session.  All learning is done remotely, making our programme accessible wherever you are.



John's Blog

Why be a coach or mentor?

I am a little biased but I love both coaching and mentoring. I used to enjoy being the ‘trainer’ which satisfied the performer in me but as I get older there is something that I find deeply satisfying in being a coach or mentor.

More than that, I find it a privilege to work with people.  People that trust you enough to share their greatest challenges, dearest hopes, deepest fears and core beliefs about life. I can think of few professions in business that afford you such intimacy. I feel lucky and grateful each and every session I get to spend with my clients. (more…)

Speaking Truth to Power

For those afraid of speaking …

(But) TED is a tough, pressured, hugely stressful gig, even for experienced public speakers, and I’m not that. Standing in the wings waiting to go on, I told the stage manager that my heart was racing uncontrollably and in an act of great kindness, she grasped both my hands and made me take breath after breath. And what you don’t see in the video – deftly edited out – is the awful, heart-stopping moment when I forgot a line, followed by another act of collective kindness, a spontaneous empathic cheer as I composed myself and found my cue. “That’s when the audience came onside,” an attendee told me. “You were human. That’s when you won them over.”  Guardian April 2019


This from Carole Cadwalladr, a journalist at the Guardian who has in this last year investigated the role of tech corporations and their platforms in influencing the workings of our democracy.  What makes her TED talk so compelling is because here she is facing those very same technology giants on their turf.  And speaking truth to power.


Coaching: Deep Impact

This week I had the chance to attend a seminar at the Leeds Coaching Network featuring renowned coach, writer and speaker Julie Starr.  You may be familiar with some of Julie’s work including; ‘The Coaching Manual’, ‘The Mentoring Manual’ and ‘Brilliant Coaching’ and the session was everything you expected it to be. (more…)