Ready, Aim, Influence!

“Join Forces, Expand Resources, and Transform Your World. “

I believe true leadership skills are developed when we are most severely challenged. And I believe most leaders today are facing unprecedented circumstances that place them at the height of their capacity. In this time of uncertainty in so many aspects of our lives, from financial markets meltdowns to corporate layoffs and housing market crashes – if you can lose the things you depend on the most without getting lost, you have reached the place from which you can be most influential.

We are balanced and fulfilled when we are able to take emotional risks, to open our minds to possibilities and follow our intuition without rational justifications. We are unbalanced when we hold on to old grief, when we insist on rational explanations for our emotional experiences, and when we close our minds to non-rational possibilities. When we deny the contribution of our feelings in making healthy choices, we can close ourselves off to new and liberating insights. The feeling of fulfillment and joy can only be experienced when our unconscious mind interacts clearly with our conscious mind. Setting goals, collecting resources, and developing strategies are all methods used in coaching, but these are only effective when the beliefs of the unconscious mind are aligned. Ready, Aim Inflience! is an essential guide to revealing crucial leadership techniques, motivational secrets and proven formulas as well as the life-changing moments from top visionaries and experts.

Click here to purchase Ready, Aim, Influence!

Ready, Aim, Excel!

“The Expert Insights Weekly Guide to Personal and Professional Leadership. “

Never before have we had to develop our inner and outer awareness at the same time at such intensity. Today’s organizations require of their people to perceive, process, synthesize and act on information from their environment, most often in novel ways, responding to unprecedented circumstances, far from being able to rely on habitual response patterns. Additionally, growing uncertainty in our careers, finances, safety and climate and have prompted us all in one way or another to reflect on and question decisions affecting our lives’ direction – our own and those of executives and political leaders. At this point in time, we can no longer rely on established institutions and circumstances to define our identities or shape our destinies.

Consequently, more and more clients seek coaching with a revived sense of responsibility for being the most that they can be, to foster their own innate wisdom and capacity to create a life and career most fulfilling for them. I see people wishing to transform, desiring to become less dependent on a specific status or context to define them, and more powerful in their own right as unique individuals directing their own lives and contributing as active participants in creating their circumstances. And they wish to understand the sources from which they derive their strength and rejuvenation to sustain this capacity.

Click here to purchase Ready, Aim, Excel!

Wounded? Survive! Thrive!!!

”101 Women share their journey from torment to triumph”

This book is a powerfully inspirational collection of life stories from successful women who have been through the darkest of days and found the strength to push through and create the life of their dreams. They confide their deepest fears and lowest moments and reveal how they eventually tapped into the courage and wisdom they never knew they had.  Now they THRIVE!


We’re changing… Our staff need to change too 

Financial Times, Money Section, Business Questions, January 13, 2012

Author: Katinka Nicou

Business Question: I run a growing financial services firm that is currently repositioning itself in the marketplace based on new client needs and added product and service offerings. This requires creating more consistency around how our sales people approach and manage client relationships, and improving their understanding of our full range of solutions. How do I ensure that our existing employees don’t fall behind this new strategy and that we hire new people accordingly?

Your question is a good sign that you are proactive in managing your talent to meet market demands. At this point in your firm’s development, it is critical that you review which qualities, i.e. skills and behaviours, your employees need to demonstrate in order to deliver on your new value proposition. A well-tailored competency framework aligns your talent with your firm’s strategic goals and reinforces its value proposition to clients. It does so by guiding recruitment, training, performance management and promotion of current firm employees and new hires. While a practical tool for managing your talent, consider it also as an ongoing internal communications campaign to remind employees at all levels of the identity of your firm, what it stands for, and the qualities that make a person successful within it. Key in fostering desired competencies within your culture is to weave them into your annual performance reviews and objectives, in which quantitative objectives (“what” is to be delivered) should accompany qualitative targets (“how” it is to be delivered). For example, integrity demonstrated and confidence gained in building a long-term client relationship could deserve equal acknowledgement to meeting short-term revenue targets. Further, who you promote and why sends strong messages to employees about what qualities you value in your professionals, and to clients about who you choose to make responsible for their relationships and business with your firm. The competencies demonstrated by employees beyond meeting financial targets should be considered in promotions, and consistently rewarded, to support your market position.

Katinka Nicou is founder of the consultancy Integrate OD.

Click here for the full article on FT.com

Founder’s shoes are hard to fill

Financial Times, Money Section, Business Questions, October 24, 2008

Author: Katinka Nicou

Business Question: “I have recently taken over as chief executive of a professional services company after the founder stepped up to the chairman’s role. Focusing on the growth of the business has been demanding, and I fear I have not made enough effort to establish credibility and solid relationships with the management team, which is starting to show signs in lowered morale. How do I balance my responsibilities and the expectations of the board while managing the people dynamics and culture that have grown out of the founder’s very casual management style?”

This is a common challenge for new chief executives in founder succession. In addition to the change of leadership, changes involved in taking the business to the next level will inevitably impact employee morale. To secure commitment from team members and their alignment with your new strategic goals, you will need to manage expectations and relationships at the individual and group levels. First, have your leadership style assessed. How is it different from the founder’s style? What shared strengths can you highlight and what new qualities do you bring? Then assess your team. At the individual level, identify the key drivers for each person. For example, what motivates them, how do they make decisions and what is at stake for them in this change? A framework for personality assessment can help you read and understand behavioural indicators of their values and thought processes. Third, map out a strategy for building and maintaining your relationship with each individual. When addressing the group, cater to as many of their collective drivers as possible to foster commitment. Such a personal communication strategy will save you tensions and strengthen your ability to actualise your commitments to the board.

Katinka Nicou is an executive coach and founder of Integrate OD, a consultancy.

Click here for the full article on FT.com

Time to Change

Legal Week, Management Section, April 24, 2008

Author: Katinka Nicou

In the move away from hourly billing, this article looks at various management practices that law firms can apply to become more efficient and hence enhance profitability from assignment and success based fees.

In response to client demands, large law firms are starting to offer alternatives to hourly billing, including fixed fees and success fees, and it is likely that others will follow suit in order to stay competitive. The Legal Services Act is set to further reshape the competitive landscape of legal advice, giving clients more options in the pressure to reduce their legal budget. This is the moment for law firms to ask themselves how they can become more efficient in acquiring and managing cases and transactions, talent and knowledge in the context of these industry changes. In answering this question, law firms can gain insight from what other professional services firms (PSFs) that bill according to assignment or performance, such as investment banks and consulting firms, have successfully implemented and refined for years.

Click here for the full article on LegalWeek.com

Accelerate Your Competitive Advancement

PLC Magazine, August 2009

Author: Katinka Nicou

The last six months have sparked unprecedented changes in the legal industry, shaking up established models of business and talent management within law firms. Never before has the legal industry come under such scrutiny, while infallible expert legal advice is ever more critical in business and government. This time of change is going to reveal which law firms are agile enough to meet new client expectations and anticipate demand for expertise, as well as foster an internal climate that promotes sharing of information, resources and client relationships. Success will depend on access to and development of the right talent for the job. In a business driven by knowledge workers, this is the time for law firms to ask themselves: How are we positioning ourselves in the industry moving forward? How does that guide our recruiting and professional development of Lawyers? And what aspirations drive the performance, success and loyalty of our next generation legal experts?

The current context in law firms makes it difficult for young Lawyers to develop their expertise in the same way that today’s Partners advanced in their careers. The leverage model, which has increased the average Associate-Partner ratio to 6-1, gives individual Associates less exposure to stakeholders and the processes of negotiation and legal reasoning that provide foundation for the work they are asked to deliver. Further, the increasing reliance on IT in execution is not conducive of the Partner-Associate mentor relationship and the legal reasoning skills that developed thereof, which were critical factors in the formative years and success of those partners who make up the senior layer of legal experts in today’s firms. Additionally, as the client landscape and scope of legal matters also grow increasingly global, teams of lawyers may work together from various countries and offices virtually, which further undermines this dynamic. Considering these developments, one Partner in an international firm recently stated the worst case scenario: “Our Associates will advance to become excellent technical Lawyers, but lack the ability to synthesise information and negotiate or solve complex legal matters that is required of our firm’s Partners, and which is the core of our firm’s value proposition.”For these reasons, it is not surprising that there is high emphasis on the need for professional development and mentoring in our surveys of law firms.

Click here for the full article

Capitalizing on Client Relationships

Legal Marketing Magazine, June/July 2009

Authors: Jane Black and Katinka Nicou

This article offers a strategic framework and effective tactics to Business Development in law firms in the context of the current business downturn and the need to respond to new client demands.

The current business downturn opens up a window to review how firms are building sustainable relationships with clients from a whole firm perspective. In equal partnerships specifically, it serves all equity owners to collaborate in client pursuits, yet few firms still do not subscribe to the most basic best practices in business development. It is our understanding from having conducted workshops with Lawyers at all levels and coached over 150 law firm Partners in 10 countries across Europe and the Americas that Business Development is largely a responsibility Senior Lawyers take on individually. This not only limits their capacity and potential to be successful in all client related activities, but it also inhibits identification of possibilities for cross-marketing.

In this market downturn, we believe there is tremendous opportunity for firms to strengthen their Business Development efforts and get ahead of their competition by reviewing the key factors that make them successful, and what expertise they need to build to meet new client demands. In making the most of their opportunities, this is the time for law firms to systematically share knowledge, experience, and best practices across practice groups. It is the time to coordinate Business Development efforts by identifying and leveraging individual Lawyers’ strengths and collaborate to identify opportunities for the firm. It is also high time to develop strong relationships with the media, as positive public recognition for newsworthy work that may result from the economic crisis is more valuable than any advertising campaign. Moreover, it is critical to ensure that marketing messages are consistent among individual lawyers and practice groups to create strong brand recognition among clients.

Tactical tools to win new business abound, but few of them are taken into consideration with overall business strategy in mind, or in a coordinated team effort. Our framework The Client Relationship Cycle offers a strategic approach to Business Development, supporting practice groups and individual lawyers in defining their unique value proposition, identifying new opportunities in current markets or emerging practice areas, capturing these opportunities, and gaining media exposure. It acts as a strategic planning guide, with very specific check points and action steps, and has been designed to ask some practical and challenging questions throughout each stage.

Click here for the full article on legalmarketingmag.com

Hidden Talents?

Solicitors Journal, May 26, 2009

Author: Katinka Nicou

Katinka Nicou explains the critical role that strategic talent management can play in professional and business development within today’s changing legal landscape.

The last six months have sparked unprecedented changes in the legal industry, shaking up established models of business and talent management within law firms. Never before has the legal industry come under such scrutiny, while infallible expert legal advice is ever more critical in business and government. This time of change is going to reveal which law firms are agile enough to meet new client expectations, anticipate demand for expertise and foster an internal climate that promotes sharing of information, resources and client relationships. Success will depend on the right formula for developing and deploying talent.

Click here for the full article on SolicitorsJournal.com

A strategy to ease growing pains

Financial Times, Money Section, Business Questions, May 17, 2008

Author: Katinka Nicou

Business Question: “I am the managing director of a successful IT outsourcing company. Over the last 18 months, we have more than doubled both our turnover and staff numbers. However, success has meant that I and my fellow directors have had little time to focus on strategy. This is causing tension at board level. I have heard that executive coaching can be an effective way to help with the situation. What does this involve and what type of programme would you recommend?”

You are describing a common phenomenon in growing businesses, and what is often a symptom of incongruence at three levels in the organisation – the individual, the group and the company. Similar to a sailing crew, it is critical that all members know their role and responsibilities in order to manoeuvre the boat in a synchronised way and in a direction towards specified targets.

Good executive coaching should address your issues at all three levels. I recommend a proactive effort to keep your management on the same page, as well as to identify and implement appropriate management systems to support your growth. This would typically include performance needs assessments, workshops to facilitate strategic planning and decision making, and executive coaching for individual managers through regular one-on-one meetings with a qualified coach to review actions and enhance management capabilities. It should also include documentation of ideas to allow for customisation of solutions that enhance both execution and client service. Your company’s rapid growth is a good problem to have, and proper executive coaching can allow you to reach the next level.

Katinka Nicou is an executive coach and founder of Integrate OD, a consultancy.

Click here for the full article on FT.com

Lonely at the top

Business XL, June 2008

“Though they may have similar goals, mentoring and coaching are very different in approach. Katinka Nicou, founder of organisational development business Integrate, explains.

‘Mentoring is usually done between someone who is an expert in their area and a protégé, while a coach will ask questions that help the executive come to a realisation they would otherwise have struggled to understand.’

Steven Miyao, CEO of New York-based financial consultancy Kasina, has used both mentors and coaches to develop himself and his team. ‘With a mentor you’re looking for specific advice from someone who has been there and done it themselves,’ he explains. ‘A coach’s primary skill is being able to ask the right questions, to identify issues that your business has and make you feel comfortable talking about them. They are very similar to a shrink in that respect.’

Miyao brought Katinka Nicou when his company began to struggle with internal communication. As the business grew, important information about clients tended to stay with account managers, rather than being disseminated across the company. Ms. Nicou interviewed key executives to ascertain where problems were, then ran a series of workshops in which the executives themselves developed appropriate solutions.

‘It was helpful to have someone come in and help us organise our thoughts,’ says Miyao. ‘The other benefit was that bringing the coach in was like a guarantee that something was going to get done – otherwise the issue could have been buried.’

A spirit of openness and trust is essential in coaching and mentoring. It’s particularly important when personal problems begin to affect business performance, as Integrate’s Nicou explains: ‘In many cases people are held back by something in their past – anger, fear or lack of self-esteem,’ she says. ‘You can sit down and evaluate every option and every possibility, but that’s not going to solve the problem.’

In such cases, Nicou uses an array of techniques including hypnotherapy and neurolinguistic programming (a form of psychotherapy) to get to the heart of the issue. ‘Coaching helps people to see more possibilities than they can see themselves, but also helps them feel more powerful to act on those possibilities,’ she states.”

Click here for the full article on BusinessXL.co.uk

The Complexities of CIO Leadership: What Makes a Successful CIO?

Whitepaper, July 2005

Author: Katinka Nicou

Advances in technology are seen by Chief Executive Officers (CEOs)as the single most important driver of change in today’s business environment. Yet, according to CEOs surveyed by the Economist Intelligence Unit, most Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and their organizations are not delivering the value expected of them by their businesses (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2005). Moreover, as technology and information needs vary substantially between organizations and industries, there is no clear definition of the CIO role and its responsibilities. CIOs who want to succeed in their jobs are struggling to strike a balance between delivering flawless operational support while offering strategic technological advantage for the competitive advancement of their businesses. Success in the CIO profession is becoming less about best practices and more about staying in tune with the business’ constantly changing needs and opportunities.

These challenges indicate that the performance expected of a CIO in today’s business environment demands a broad set of leadership skills and characteristics. Yet, the dynamic complexities of the CIO profession have received insufficient attention in Leadership research. Few empirical studies have been done to investigate what differentiates successful CIOs from their challenged colleagues in how they carry out their expanding leadership responsibilities. This study aims to investigate common practices and behaviors among successful CIOs, and whether Leadership and Adult Learning theories can be applied to help challenged CIOs be more successful in their organizations. The findings point to a need for both Chief Information Officers and their senior leadership peers to assume greater responsibilities in integrating IT with strategic business initiatives. This demands a complex set of leadership skills, mainly with regards to management and executive relationships.

Research Conducted at Columbia University. For an extract of the research paper click here.

The Implications of Leadership Succession and Strategic Change on Organizational Learning

Author: Katinka Nicou

This paper examines the implications of founder leadership succession and strategic change on Organizational Learning. It uses the frameworks of the Learning Organization and Knowledge Creation to identify ways of facilitating adaptation to change and sustaining innovation and competitive advantage. Strategic frameworks for designing such programs and tactical interventions for knowledge management, leadership development, and team focus are explored.

Research Conducted at Columbia University. For more information contact us.

Aligning Human Capital with Strategic Goals

Author: Katinka Nicou

Organizations, as networks of people, hold their ultimate potential in the relationships within and around the business and the way in which knowledge is utilized to support the achievement of the company’s strategy. In knowledge-intensive organizations, information sharing is critical because intellectual assets, unlike physical assets, increase in value with use. Moreover, when a company gains a knowledge-based competitive advantage, it becomes even easier for it to maintain its lead and ever harder for its competitors to catch up. Nevertheless, many organizations spend vast portions of their Human Capital Development budgets on organizational learning with few, if any, specified business objectives and without means to measure the impact of the learning on business performance.

Learning involves making use of information. By relying on experience, organizations use knowledge they have acquired, disseminated, and integrated. Learning acts to reduce transaction costs, support decisions, and shape behavior. It provides a link between the different functions, helps frame problems or opportunities, and guides decision formulation and implementation. Not surprisingly then, learning should be seen as a fundamental capability/competence of the organization, because it facilitates the various business processes, such as development of new products and services. This paper explores how Organizational learning can be applied to drive business strategy and results.

Research Conducted at Columbia University. For more information contact us.

Spirituality in the Workplace: What are the Implications on Modern Organizations as Society Embraces New Concepts of Spiritualism?

Author: Katinka Nicou

Today’s increasingly unpredictable environments, new technologies, and fluctuating economies are spurring the emergence of a new spiritual movement, that is having a strong influence on the way many organizations are run. The ever more prevalent forces of global competition, downsizing, and reengineering are increasing the levels of uncertainty in many aspects of people’s realities, and have generated a workforce of employees who seek value, support, and meaning in their lives. This finds expression not only at home but also on the job. Workers as well as leaders look towards greater spiritual and religious accommodation in the workplace as a source for achieving such meaning and support. This paper will throw light on the new concept of spirituality as experienced in the workplace and provide examples for the notable correlation between organizations’ levels of spirituality and their efficiency. As a case in study, this paper will focus on Southwest Airlines, as this company demonstrates a strong sense of spiritual-based values guiding its organizational goals and practices. A few suggested frameworks and models for practical application are discussed.

Research Conducted at New York University. For an extract of the research paper click here.