One of my favourite phrases is “Life is a Mirror” … what that means is that all that surrounds you and affects you is actually simply a reflection of you.  This is truer in the life of a business owner or business leader that just about anywhere else. 

One of the burdens of leadership is that we all need to accept that our teams of employees will take the lead from you in just about everything.  If they see you giving great customer service, guess what they will aspire to.  Similarly if they see you bitching about a complaining customer behind their back, guess how they will talk about their next complainant.  And if they see you stressed and grumpy, guess how they will start to behave.  Leadership by example is a cliche, but – as with most cliches – there is a strong element of truth that goes with it.

Once we recognise that we set the tone, then what can we do to ensure that the working environment is one which delivers the result you want ?  One way to do it … and don’t laugh …. is simply to make sure that you start the day with a smile and a positive greeting.  No more “mustn’t grumbles”, not more grunted hellos.  Let your people know that all is alright with the world, and be consistent about it, and you will soon find that everyone’s performance starts heading up the scale.



I was introduced to Level Up through a local business networking group about 18 months ago.  Transitioning from an HR career to Executive Search in 1997, I set up my own partnership over five years ago.  Although loving what I do, I couldn’t help feeling that we needed a bit of a refresh and have more focus on why our offering was different in a very crowded marketplace.

As an HR professional by background, I have met many business coaches; some better than others.  Although admittedly a little sceptical, I met Graeme Crosbie for coffee and soon felt that he ‘got me’ and understood why I was at a crossroads. We talked about how we might work together and what his kick start programme could offer. 

Having spent my whole career In the corporate world, I found I missed having a variety of people to brainstorm with.  Graeme has proved to be a strong business mentor.  The fact he also had a corporate background and had not worked with any other search firms proved to be a real asset.  He challenged my thinking and assumptions; we went back to basics and talked extensively about business and personal goals and how these could be achieved within realistic timelines.  

The kickstart programme was extremely useful.  For the first time in years, I found I actually dedicated quality time to thinking about what it was I wanted Theron to be.  We focused on what actually made us different; I stopped apologising for being a “small boutique” but learnt to embrace the good things about offering a bespoke, personal service to a few quality clients.  Of course I already knew the theory, but having to articulate USP’s and strategy to someone else makes it more ‘real’ and something you do as opposed to just having good intentions and never getting round to it because work takes over.  

Apart from growing revenue, we have had many successes including the redesign and relaunch of the website with genuine USP’s; extending our client base; recruiting a new Partner and maintaining focus and momentum.  

We are now on an Ontrack programme; meetings are less frequent, but they prove a useful medium for staying focused and doing the things I committed to do.  Some things continue to stay at the bottom of the pile, but I’m not sure that will ever change.  

Some of my network did not understand why I needed to see a business coach, especially with my background.  I have found it incredibly refreshing, not least because Graeme has helped me to look at things differently and has help me to add real value to my business.  I would absolutely have no hesitation in recommend him to other business professionals but only on the basis you want to take a cold hard look at yourself and realise that growth and change will only happen if you want it to.  Graeme can help, challenge and give an alternative perspective, but it’s down to you to do it.  

Fiona Makowski Managing Partner, Theron LLP March 18, 2018