The i4b Podcast show with – Alexis Powell-Howard
Matthew McSharry

Matthew McSharry


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A fresh perspective for Organisational Improvement with Business Owner, Psychotherapist, TEDx Speaker and Systemic Practitioner Alexis Powell-Howard, putting people first – imagine that!? From serving up fish and chips to serving up large scale organisational development we discuss the life-changing events, vision and drive which has pushed Alexis to create a forward-thinking, multi-award-winning, people-centred organisation at Fortis Therapy and Training Ltd. The Fortis team not only help at the individual level, but through couple and family dynamics to organisations, considering all the systems and interactions which are at play in these complex structures. Whatever the approach, they are all underpinned by the aim to create a GOLD STANDARD in mental health therapeutic services. Fortis Therapy and Training have created a unique approach called TRIBE (Thought, Reflection, Identity, Belonging, Empower) as a whole organisational approach to psychologically informed culture change and wellbeing.
We’re here at Fortis Therapy and Training Headquarters in Grimsby and I would like to welcome the amazing and multi-award-winning Alexis Powell-Howard to the insight4business podcast show thank you for joining us Alexis thanks for having me so a nice easy start to the show today as per usual Alexis and I think of an idea of the answer but what was the first job or gig you did and got paid for and I know you know the answer to this because it got pretty similar background I think yeah so my first paid gig was working in my family’s fish and chip shop we had the seaway fish and chip shop on alexander road in Cleethorpes which had a takeaway in 130 covers well and my yeah and my first role was dishwasher and mushy peas extraordinaire gravy was pretty good and curry sauce all that jazz and then gradually worked my way because I got older and was probably more legal to be actually doing this stuff to taking orders and take away and spud room rumbler chipper all that jazz and I think I remember you saying about running that 130 covers is no mean feat at all no anyone in F&B will know that but you had that as the you’re sure to run at times as well yeah so we had that we had a t-shirt around the corner as well which had about 60 covers so I ended up being a director at the age of 21 over both of those businesses as well and was running the team and obviously very seasonal business so trying to generate income out of season as well and retain the staff out of season he’s a toughie as well as until you can train people up and thEn yeah and so it was it was it was a massive training ground really great for me actually I learned a lot I still now think when I say something I think how do I know that I think it’s because I remember doing you know x y and z at the seaway that’s how I learnt it and because there were no systems and you know we had to have to figure it out I didn’t know anything so I had to figure out how to do systems and processes and inductions and stuff training programs did you get to the point of detailing those as a standard option right yeah really yeah I didn’t know what they were yeah yeah but I did it made sense it’s a great starting point isn’t it yeah and then somebody comes in it’s here’s the starting point and I worked for M&S after that I went and got a job as a manager at Marks & Spencers which was completely blew my mind was totally different I remember hearing the story but I realized that I knew stuff I didn’t know what you called it but I knew it because it just I’ve naturally kind of just done things because I felt it made the business better and more efficient and the quality was different and you know we retained staff and all that kind of stuff so yeah it was a really good training ground for me brilliant and it is great to develop that naturally yeah I think that that shows something of the of the calibre of manager or leader you can be when you grow that naturally and then if you get the validation through educational resources such as a business degree that I did alongside working in business the two that could that can be really powerful when they’re too close yeah I did an HNC in business and finance at night school two nights a week so I was working full-time and doing that as well and again it was just kind of understanding the things around the LAW and around HR and systems and just everything that I was going along and learning and at the time probably thought I’m not sure how relevant this is to what I’m doing now but it’s massively relevant for everything so yeah well I did exactly the same working full time and I was two nights away at Leeds University learning business worth it but worth it yeah looking back really set us up brilliant.   One area of the business that we’ve worked on this year insight for business is the governance and structure they’re in starting with our mission and vision statements which have then shaped our policies the procedures and wider decision making Fortis will be 10 years old in the summer of 22 next summer what was your vision when you started out and has it changed over the years I think when I started out I wanted to have a therapy service that that did it well I didn’t really know in terms of aspirations if you said will you still be doing this in 10 years’ time I would have said I have no idea because it was really hard work and you know again learning as I’m doing it and trying to figure out what we need and how to keep people safe ethically and safeguarding and all that all that stuff so the vision at the beginning really was to get a viable business going that was really what I had in mind and over the years that’s formulated into far more understanding of what drives me you know why I do what I do and also leading to wanting it to be the gold standard in therapeutic services and well-being services that’s what we aim to be so our language is very different now we’ll say is it well is that the gold standard is that what we’d expect no well okay we’re not doing it then or we’re going to do it differently or we’re going to evolve it or whatever it might be so it’s a language that we now use in the business and that’s as you said when you from when you started out to where you are here there’s been a growth this is there’s been that continual learning continual development yeah definitely I think I as a business owner when it’s you and it’s on your head you can’t stand still you can’t get stuck in you know your own limitations you’ve got to be open I think this is just my take on it you’ve got to be open to developing and being open to that development and sometimes that’s painful sometimes it’s amazing but the business doesn’t grow if you’re not growing you know and for me getting to that stage of complacency where some businesses do get to where they kind of go well we’ve been here for years and we do a good enough job and it’s fine and that’s just not me you’ve lost it yeah for me I would feel that it’s time to go if I get to that point yeah and you see that as personal learning and the business or organizational learning comes from your personal learning and development as the leader plus that of your team are you pushing your teams to continually learn as well yes it’s quite funny actually one of my leads was seeing a client the other day and she said look the client said to the someone on my lead you look a bit tired she said it’s because Alexis is making me do something I don’t want to do because it because I know it will stretch her I know she can do it so yeah I do I do push people and not to the point of you know not being able to function but I know we think we’re limited and we have those limitations and actually sometimes it’s just having a go taking a risk testing ourselves you know and that’s what we all need to do so the business grows alongside my growth if I look back 10 years ago to where I was as a business owner then and what I didn’t know and what I’ve learned now where I’m at now is massive I’m massively different you know things that the business is in a different place but so am I for sure super thank you.   In your TEDx talk you tell us about a life-changing event in your life and the aftermath of that focusing on your mental health journey where you negotiated unethical and simply shocking treatment was this a big reason for you to get into the fields of psychotherapy counselling and psychology so you could make a difference and was this decision part of the sassy strong world fearless and invincible part of Alexis you talk about before the accident yeah I think the accident and the subsequent kind of really poor treatment that I received I i went the reason I went down the route of starting to do counselling training was because I thought I need to know if what my if my expectations of the treatment I think I should have received are right if I’m being fair or if actually I’m way off base that’s kind of what I start how I started it and I just kind of did a six-week course that’s how I started and I loved it and then I thought oh no a bit more and I just and so there wasn’t really a point until I’d actually qualified right I thought actually I could do this now right I did it because I was learning again it was that yearning to know and I see there’s a little bit of that analytical basis there, of was it wasn’t it let me find out yeah and I didn’t don’t get me wrong when I you know had a therapist who made it several passes at me and I didn’t go into detail and the ted talk was there was much more to it and also the one that fell asleep I think I came I was very vulnerable at that point and I was very anxious I was very low in mood I wasn’t functioning very well at all and it was almost like that was my default that sassy part of me stepped in and went right hang on a minute let’s go and figure out what this is supposed to be about and if you’re being unreasonable or not in your expectations but yeah you need that opportunity to find the new person the new person who deals with what’s gone before yeah because you can feel very lost at that time and I think one of the things I realized was I’m never going to be who I was because I know too much so once I accepted that I thought well I can use those experiences in the future and I can develop from that point but I’m never going to go back to being that that 18 year old yeah that that came out and shone through to me and it was almost like a light bulb moment of it you make it like there is no point saying I want to be what I was no there is no changing it no and it’s not a bad thing either no we have a lot of clients that say well I want to get back to where I was a year ago you’re not going to get back to where you were a year ago and there’s a sadness in that and there’s there is something about being of losing something but the reason you’re in the place you’re in now is because of where you were a year ago so you need to leave you need to leave some of that behind and move forward from that point and you touch upon the broken jar, is it the, yeah the Kintsugi jar it’s a beautiful yeah metaphor isn’t it really is I think one of the things when I was doing my TED talk and I kind of looked at the audience and said if I had a Kintsugi jar that represented each other they’d be different there’d be different colours it’d be patched in different ways and I really believe that you know and actually if we accept that life took stuff matters and it affects us and it does sometimes damage us and we’ve got to learn how to fix ourselves or to at least accommodate it then that’s a different approach to mental health I think definitely and I always I take lots back to business and operational organizational environments and after listening and after listening to that to think that an organization we have different people in an organization yet almost we expect people to act in a fixed prescribed certain way and that’s not taking account of individuals that make up teams no businesses no and that’s part of when big businesses lose good people because you’re trying to channel people who might be creative and innovative and there might be a bit of a maverick they might have different ideas that maybe challenge your approach and you know if you haven’t got a system that accommodates that growth and creativity you’ll lose those people and then you end up with this is nothing wrong with people who like to know where they stand and this that regime and it’s comfortable and it’s secure there’s nothing wrong with that but it’s not for everybody so how as a business do you actually accommodate all those differences and all those different experiences a lot of the things that have come out over the last couple of years over covid has been actually knowing more about people who work in our businesses we know more about their circumstances what they’re holding what they’re responsible for how they feel because we’ve not been able to avoid it you know we’ve had to think about how to do it and it’s de-skilled a lot of managers and leaders as to how do we actually how do we do that how do we keep checking in with people and how what skills do we need how do we do it differently yeah imagine that a system to handle growth and creativity   You know there’s something you talk about therapy as a process of allowing clients to be able to recognize embrace and accept their vulnerabilities as part of who they are and this led me to think about the individuals who make up teams and that we don’t perhaps see the person or even discuss who we really are as individuals in the working environment as we’ve touched upon and suddenly this seems limiting to me the fact that we may show a different version of ourselves at work to fit a particular dynamic how do you see this I think we have different personas that we use to survive different environments or to thrive in different environments so you know who you are at work might be very different who you are at home but the difficulty with that and we’ve talked about you know kind of different hats you might wear different personas you might put on we talk about different masks you might wear is that you’re constantly filtering who you really are behind that so when you then come under stress for example in the workplace it’s very difficult to switch that persona off and step back in the home and then be whatever role you are at home whether that’s a partner or a parent or whatever and I think that bit for me is how help people to actually be more authentic to be more able to be themselves and less that becomes less threatening in a way and that’s the exact point that’s it’s been almost a light bulb moment for me recently as I’ve mentioned the work-hat versus home-hat and that’s the clarity you’ve given me right there when you when you get under pressure that switching becomes an issue and because you haven’t fixed I’ve been there fixed in a mindset that was worrying about issues in the workplace and taking that home and yeah and it affects your boundaries around your roles as well so you might be in the workplace trying to look for external validation looking to please others you know all of those things that we fall back into when we when we’re feeling actually we haven’t got very shore footing because we’re not sure who we are in that environment and our boundaries start to get less well they become very unclear and then you go home and you do the same thing there and then those relationships get affected by what’s going on so for me if you are working hard to be who you are in each of those environments it becomes far less stressful because you don’t have to switch from one thing to another and that is about being clear about your identity but it’s also being clear about what your boundaries are and what you’re prepared to accept and not accept and all of those things but that all comes from self-awareness yes a bit of work yeah it’s not a lot of work years of work yeah a still continual work completely but I love that I think some people find that quite stressful that we’re never done in terms of development you might what it might feel safer to feel like actually I’m done now I’ve got to where I want to be and I’m happy and I’m going to stick there and contentment there’s nothing wrong with that at all I think it’s a brilliant place to be but actually we are revolving all the time our life stage stages evolve we change our roles change our relationships change we can’t really stand still it’s just not what we need to do I certainly feel similar to you in that outlook of seeking development and pushing forward although you make a good point that some people maybe feel more comfortable that they don’t want to push that but who knows what lies beyond if you do push yourself there’s maybe more out there and further yeah certainly further development and further joy to be gained from pushing oneself yeah I mean I always think about untapped potential so what there’s always something yeah and but there is but it’s also okay to take your foot off the gas and sit back and kind of be like I’m okay for the minute and regroup and consolidate but it’s if you stick there yes so that’s not a problem taking the foot off the gas as you say and just taking a view of the maybe that wider environment yeah absolutely I think you know you’ve got to know when to do that otherwise you end you know we see people burning out and running you know running out of energy and self-care is massive I’ve been talking about self-care for the past however many years but more so than recent times because you know looking at what we actually need as individuals and how we look after ourselves within that as well thank you and maybe that leads on to my next question when I lead teams I naturally want to be open and trusting so that I can provide honest feedback and develop developing relationships but that takes time is there an approach to developing trust within teams you have found most useful yeah definitely I think for me it’s about being very genuine I’m genuine I was working in a school yesterday training at the training and leadership team and I was also training their administration team on golden goal service what that means for them and I’m just me I’m just this this is what you get so I think that’s the thing that I’ve found really works and I think relationship building is massive you know when we’re when we’re developing teams trust honesty relationship building and that sounds naive and I’m not naive at all I’ve worked in you know with very I do mediation I walk into situations people want to kill each other and help them with that so I understand those dynamics but if you genuinely want the best for someone and you want the best for your team and you want to be able to work with them then people read that and they pick that up and I know in my team yeah I’m all about the feedback is great but the feedback comes both ways you know I made a decision the other day and it was a bad decision and I when I did it I knew it wasn’t right and we had a leadership meeting they were all like what was that about why did you do that and yeah I’ve been somewhere similar recently maybe your gut tells you no, this isn’t quite right some alarm bells ringing but yet I don’t know maybe it’s that central dynamic that perseverance that drive that pushes you no I’ve got to yeah I should do this yeah and then we’re like well so basically the question was how are we going to sort this [ __ ] out that was a conversation but there was no it wasn’t about giving me a hard time or blame it we were laughing because you know it’s okay for us to make a mistake but it’s important to do this not to hold your hands up when it doesn’t have that conversation you do I’m not perfect I’m never going to be perfect so none of us are so that’s the bit where I think in terms of managing teams it’s been okay to be vulnerable it’s okay to get it wrong it’s okay to you know be unsure you know there were times in lockdown where I would send the guys an email and say this is what I’m holding what are you holding and they would have no idea some of the stuff I was doing and involved in because I was working from home and they were working from home but sharing that information and them saying right well I can take that can you take this for me and you know you have that kind of collaborative approach that works really well yeah I’d imagine that being open imagine that talking about exactly sharing and looking for wider opinions yeah and but I think as well we put in a lot of things to support ourselves so you know I have clinical supervision every month I’ve had coaching when I’ve needed it I drop opt into therapy when I need it as a team we have reflective practice sessions we talk about where we’re at with things and how we’re doing in cases and all that kind of stuff we prom we can’t promote what we’re doing out there if we’re not doing it in here so we have to model it that’s any way we can talk yeah brilliant   I had the chance to speak with you at BizHive Live recently after your I’VE session picking up on your drive and the persistence you have to drive through your ideas how do you manage this drive personally so that you’re not overreaching and pushing yourself or your teams too hard well sometimes it’s about other people noticing that I’m doing that if I’m honest so my husband my husband will say are you know you seem tired or are you all right because I’m just like anyone else sometimes you’re in it and you don’t see it or I don’t see it but I think I like to push my limitations I do and I do and part of having thought is part of my struggles working in businesses was that constantly felt my wings were being clipped and that’s the only way I can describe it like I was like let me go let me go and do it let me you know and they would not want me to do that or people would be threatened by it or you know it was a wrong time or whatever and I don’t do that I thought if I if I want to do it we’ll do it if we figure out a great way of doing then that’s what we do if it’s not the right time we hold back but I’m in control of all of that so you know I don’t want to clip my wings and be limited but by the same token I’ve also got three children and lots of responsibilities outside of work that I need to be available for as well and they’re all teenagers so teenage friendships is a big topic of conversation or fall outs that should be more accurate and so I’ve got to be able to create space and time for that as well so what people see on social media and what we put out there in terms of what I’m doing yeah I’m doing all of that but I I’m not managing my social media accounts somebody else puts that out for me and you know so it’s what it looks like out there and what it looks like in here can be two different things yeah I did sort of want to ask that question at one point because it’s here you know there’s so much and yet yeah and you’re part of a family there’s the home to think of and it’s almost you can run away with the other things you’ve got you’ve got to make time I suppose and you’ve got to be disciplined in keeping that there yeah but also they ground me you know that’s a big part of my self-care you know sitting down and watching suits with my 17 year old son who is six foot two and says are we watching some tonight or what that I love it you know I absolutely love that treat night on a Friday night we get loads of bread and cheese and we get loads of sweets and we sit and watch movies like the fire you know we have rituals that mean we land and we get grounded with where we’re all at and you know that becomes almost from necessity because we’re all busy everyone’s all at school and everything’s going on husband works full-time as well you’ve got to factor it in yeah that makes sense again as you as you say that you you’ve got something to look forward to that’s not just that the not the grindstone but you know the hard work and the graft that’s running the business and the operation there is that switch off there yeah and maybe a little bit of a reset where you can go with contentment and it’s joy and it’s all that love and affection and all that stuff that’s the bit that you know with my family we went out at the weekend with my girls my son was working and we’re out you know at Christmas fair and having the fun and that’s the bit where I think this is my this is the bit where I come back down to earth and it’s this is what’s important not that what I do every day isn’t important because it massively is it’s part of my identity but I can’t do that [ __ ] yes and that’s right unless you send it understood brilliant thank you.   At insight for business we work with organizations to improve their systems and processes to generate more revenue and we can’t do that efficiently and effectively without people changing their behaviors the ways they work and how they think about their roles we start with the systems and processes speaks more of my background you like numbers yeah exactly and I don’t but you know but I understand you work with organizations in a different way and you look at the people first I do imagine that I know yeah I do I you know I have in mind the context from a systems perspective you know so it might be about production or it could be about absenteeism rates presenteeism and leavers and all that kind of stuff but I want to know what the people are saying and people are our biggest resource in any business they they’re always going to be if your business grows it’s the right people in the right places isn’t it and with the right approach and attitude they’re your best asset completely so if they’re not okay it doesn’t matter whether your systems it’s your culture if your systems and your strategy can be in place but if your people aren’t okay it’s not gonna work because they won’t do what you’re asking them to do because there’ll be all sorts of reasons as to why not and if often when there’s difficulties in cultures and in systems with people in businesses it’s because people aren’t feeling heard they’re not they don’t feel valued or the values of the organization have slightly shifted so they’re not in line with the people in the organization either so you know the way that I would approach that is to go in and look at where are the where are the pinch points and who do I need to speak to who do I need to listen to how can I feed that back to management in a way they can receive it how do we create a plan to be able to help move that forward if the people are moving in the right direction and people are feeling like they’re connected to what’s going on in that business all those other things will take care of themselves the systems need updating and the sops all that stuff needs to be developed but if you’re doing that and you’re not listening to what people are saying about how they actually do things it’s pointless it’s a waste of time and money yeah so that’s the way I see it because I’m very people orientated yeah well that that’s what we do we got listen to ‘Gemba’ we go where the work is done yeah we go to the place where work happens but in my background it was always the systems and processes first I remember being a studying business at Leeds, I was in my maybe I was 23 / 24 and I’d learned about organizational behaviour, I came back to work I rewrote a process I took 10 hours a week out this process got it down to got it down yeah 10 hours of work out of the process five hours went on to John yeah and I gave john a process and said there you go here’s the new process he’d been given a load of work I was quite naive but then I just I didn’t understand the value of people that’s something that engagement it’s engaging you totally got to get the engagement and if I’m going to do even if it’s a mediation I’m looking to how can I help these people that’s I’m curious and I’m looking to how can I help I’m not looking to say to push the blame about or to listen to what someone else has told me about what might be going on in this circumstance from going into engagement sessions with teams again that’s a perspective I’ve already heard let me hear your perspective and almost bracket that off and then you get people who want to be invested in what they’re doing and you might have businesses we work in where you know people are there until retirement they’ve got a good retirement package not going anywhere they’re really not very happy and they might have another 20 years left yet really yeah so why would as a business why would you want to continue working in that way and have someone who’s actually just really just doing clocking in clocking out that’s not what any of us want there’s no graph there is there no we want and we want that you know the extra that’s what we want we want people that discretionary effort that we know we can get from people if they’re engaged so yeah I love it I love it I do I do it blew my mind when I understand it makes sense I’ve just come such a long way from systems of process oh yeah the people as part of that but almost to look at it from that people point of view first yeah it’s completely different yeah definitely I recently found out what a systemic practitioner is and I wondered if this practice informed any of your wider organizational approaches such as the tribe thought reflection identity belonging empower approach which I understand has been shortlisted for an innovation award does tribe have its roots in systemic practice and can you explain the tribe approach please yeah so my training my background I’ve got lots of different types of training but one of them I did a post grad to play room systemic practice and that’s about family systemic therapy and couple therapy so but you can apply those thoughts those ways of thinking those ways of working into organizations so you look at the whole system I have to put a picture of a car engine on my slides when I’m talking about it so I look at the whole system and then think about the subsystems within it so which bits are working which bits aren’t which as I said about which the pitch points which bits aren’t being looked after and nurtured and what’s the historical context in the organization all of that kind of thing so the idea of looking at things systemically and we do this when we’re working with families or we’re working with clients we’re not just looking at that one individual view we’re looking at the impact in the wider system so how does that buffer off other people how does that ripple out and so if you’ve got leaders for example who aren’t invested in people who aren’t actually interested just want the production or they just want the outcome it’s just blinking yeah it’s very linked yeah and you’re not going to get you’re not going to get what you could get out of yeah fixed mindset you’re not going to you’re not leaving you’re leaving yourself for a great and we know that the research tells us that you know even from a well-being perspective if people on the management team don’t believe it then it’s going to be tick box rather than it actually being something that’s embedded and invested in so tribe is around an approach for each organization so we don’t have like a an off the off the peg this is what’s going to work we go in and listen to management we listen to what’s going on and then we help them so he’ll take what we’ve done in the police for example we’ve we listened we do a lot of therapy for police officers we went in and did some training and listened to some of the kind of middle leaders then we developed more training so that came with keeping the peace and then we’ve done keeping the peace two, we’ve done trauma informed training that’s come from listening to what’s going on the force put in reflective practice that they do internally so before you know it you’re injecting different pieces of support for different layers and different roles for people and it shifts the system and it’s the same thing in a chemical plant we do a lot of work and have worked in for five years you know we did all this piece of work put coaching in for leaders I coach the senior leadership team every month somebody else coaches them the engineers and the shift managers we’re now just putting in coaching for senior operators and senior technicians I’ve done all engagement sessions with them so we’re just pacing the change as we go through is the pace as well that’s fantastic again looking at the whole organization not just looking at coaching the senior leadership but through top to bottom absolutely yeah brilliant.   At insight for business we love to work with businesses who want to be the best provider our supplier their clients have ever had and to assist them on the journey to get their by creating measuring and using the right data I see a similarity here with fortis where you are aiming to create the gold standard of mental health therapeutic services what are the metrics for you to hit the goal standard and how do you measure outcomes success and progression day-to-day and longer term within Fortis yeah so we look at things like the referral route so the time it takes for somebody to be referred for whatever piece of work not just for therapy because we do lots of different types of services to them actually being seen so we aim for people to be seen within seven working days of contacting us and that’s to be seen with a therapist whichever site they’re on whether that’s in a workplace even if and if it’s I don’t know critical incident or something like that we aim to be in same day or next day if we can if we’re going into debrief a tragic event and so we measure that we measure the feedback from clients from training from coaching and we ask not just for quantitative but for qualitative as well so that we can understand because a lot of what we do is hard to measure yes and you can’t stick it on a graph but so we want to know the experience and the feelings of people who’ve been through whatever we’ve worked with them on so we gather that information we look at our associates and we measure their CPD we make sure that we’re doing internal training which our next lot starts in January so we do internal training to develop people and we measure who comes to that we measure who comes to the peer support we look at their levels of engagement as well because we want the best people to work with us we have regular conversations as a team to track against the plan that we have for the for the year and you know my overall kind of strategies if you like in terms of my exit plans and everything else so we we’re looking at it on in lots of different ways if we’re working in schools we have regular meetings with schools we have regular feedback from clients and from parents so we’re constantly listening and monitoring asking questions communicating and if we have say new therapists working with us we will ring those clients within the first six sessions and say how’s it going is everything okay we always ask about everything from finding information about us to the manner that someone took the phone call right through to seeing your first session and then the outcomes from the work as well so I’ve seen you bringing top quality people don’t you into the business you’re looking for that high level of experience yeah absolutely I want the best people yeah so yeah at the minute we’re advertising I think five different regions because we’ve got work in all of those regions and obviously do work online so that’s across everywhere so the level so we have people who work with us who we develop into being able to work as therapeutic coaches as well as doing therapeutic work who might facilitate reflective practice groups online for teams we have a lot of that going on just had a whole multi academy trust who have commissioned us to do that for all their head teachers and all their designated safeguarding leads we’ve got other businesses where we do reflective practices for every member of their teams you know that they’re big commitments that’s really thorough it’s very big pieces of work yeah so we’ve got to we’ve got to be as competent as possible and evolving all the time to be able to support people in their development as well so yeah the whole thing goes around in a feedback loop really yeah one thing that comes to life from my study this summer looking at the old-fashioned if you will or the historical causal route to planning which is which is where you plan every single step to get to an outcome and something you described there about how you engage and how you assess the teams and develop that it fits in with the more effectual strategy which is around looking at who you’ve got available what this what skills are needed for uncertainty in the future what skills do I need here and now to help me move forward yeah without on without actually planning every single step yeah I don’t plan every single step yeah you put the people and teams and strategies in place to allow you to be able to develop move forward and yes shift it’s fluidity so you know if I haven’t got the right people I’ve got I’ve got to recruit the right people I’ve got to recruit the people in the right way there’s no point you know often when we haven’t got the right people it’s because we haven’t recruited in the right way so that system has to be right and then if we’re looking at what we might need to do in the future so for example in our area therapists who work with children young people are very hard to find because there isn’t any local courses to be able to do that now we have a course we could run but we’re running CBT Diploma at the minute we’ve got a lot going on so that might be something we do in the future but I’ve also got to get the balance right with not educating people to then be directly in competition with what my business does so there’s a strategic part to that but I can develop the people I’ve already got in the business to be able to help them to bridge that gap so I’ve got expertise already here so why not use that to be able to support them we also work within all the ethical frameworks for everyone’s different membership bodies so everybody who works in different ways therapeutically has different ethical frameworks very similar themes though so that’s our that’s where we go back to that’s our kind of line in the sand if you like that’s not GOLD SERVICE, that’s just what we should be doing and anything above that what we strive to do in terms of being effective in the way we work so people are more integrative in their ways of working they’re more confident in how they work you know all of those things it means that we’ve got something that fits everyone not just a one-size-fits-all approach.   It does appear to me having chatted briefly before the show started that that GOLD STANDARD and the standards you have, they seem to me to be really pushing where therapy should be and where it can be yeah and it’s potentially is that the case that you would like to push those boundaries first I think we do I think we do push them you do but wider would you like to see that wider I think yeah definitely I mean we get you know people only complain when things are wrong they don’t necessarily we’re not very great in terms of society of shouting when things go well and there is a lot that can be done in services to be able to treat people as people not as a number and that’s something I always come back to I’m not you know I don’t I don’t want us to be forgetting that these people are individuals or parts of families or parts of businesses you know what’s the wider story whereas if you start to get into right we’ll give them a number and we’ll process them as a number that makes it very easy to not make decisions to make decisions that aren’t in line with what a person actually needs so just as a very simple example if we get somebody who has to support in whatever way we make sure we give them to the right person with the right skills we don’t give them to the person who’s got the gap because that’s the way that services usually run so those things I think are fundamental really to making sure that the business that the business and the service meets the needs of the people who are accessing it rather than the people accessing it needing to meet our needs what yeah what a great way to start again the voice of the customer in lean and continuous improvement start with what the customer your client needs and let that inform how you are going to operate as a business that’s fantastic music to my ears. I would like to finish on a leadership theme and so maybe I could ask in your experience Alexis what do you see as key a key factor or factors in successful leadership when managing and developing teams or projects so I think it’s knowing your people I don’t just me know what they can do in the workplace knowing them and understanding where they come from knowing how to stretch people and also allowing them to stretch you as well and to challenge you being open to that it being a two-way process so in terms of the way I see leadership it’s very much in line with Stephen Covey’s idea around you know being the person who’s in the tree looking at where the path goes and people behind kind of helping to lay that path and yeah absolutely but I don’t always know the right direction I don’t always you know where I might want to take things might not be correct so you know having those challenging conversations and that open and honest communication is really important that doesn’t mean to say it’s easy it doesn’t mean they don’t get offended sometimes and feel upset by things but actually if people are doing things for the right reasons and the right intentions and you know that and you trust that then that’s gonna be that’s massive so I would say the trust and the relationships and stretch as well I think you know if I look at my team and I know if they were sat here now that I’ll be rolling their eyes because I actually did in my ted talk I saw them at the back of the room I’ll go yeah she does do that so that bit for me there’s no point in just putting someone in a position and hoping they’ll stay there for five years because it’s convenient you want succession so you know who’s coming into that next and that’s the other thing I think succession planning is massive it’s huge when I talk to businesses who’s the next person who’s going to come into that role and do a great job or are you going to lose all those skills when that person leaves or retires or whatever so yeah all of that superb thank you very thank you very much for being on the podcast show today being a real pleasure and lots of learning to take away thank you very much!