For the last few months, I’ve been working on a book that will introduce some of the core ideas that I’ve developed during my years as a leadership consultant and now deliver through Potential Squared. It’s been an exciting and challenging process, as I expected it would be. What I wasn’t necessarily expecting was how far it would cause me to reflect on the insights I’ve gained so far.

A few years ago, our leadership team performed an exercise in which we named the six core behaviours that defined our business. It was a valuable exercise for guiding us and explaining our offering to our clients, and we still stand strongly behind all six. However, it became clear right from the start that one stood out as the most important to us.

If you follow Potential Squared’s blogs then you’ll have read about Refreshingly Direct. It’s the way we talk to our clients, how we encourage them to talk within their organisations, and how we encourage them to talk to us. It wasn’t until I started working on the book that I really broke it down and realised that Refreshingly Direct is actually not a single behaviour, but a combination of styles.

What I found was that ‘direct’ is about the style of communication, which is meaningful, open and brings value and connection. The ‘refreshing’ part originally acknowledged that too many working interactions lack this impact. Digging further into this I discovered that this is because ‘refreshing’ is really about innovation. It’s about having conversations that challenge people to think and act in new ways.

So Refreshingly Direct is about creating a constructive tension: on the one hand it’s about bringing people together, while on the other it’s about pushing them forward to take risks. This links closely with our three products as a business - leadership, change and innovation. In fact, promoting Refreshingly Direct leadership really is about developing heroes and heroines who drive change and innovation in organisations.

Being Refreshingly Direct with our clients helps them be front-footed in their business, and it has a strongly positive effect for us as well, because it helps us to iterate around our approach. We’ve been told by clients that our innovative style of delivery helps them be more innovative too. That’s why I’m proud to say that Refreshingly Direct has become the defining trait of our company.