ball logoWelcome to the Harvey McMillan Blog.  We’ve created this space to have conversation with you about Leadership topics, emergent thinking, and Harvey McMillan’s views on that complex arena called Leadership, or more accurately the art of Leading.

Leadership is a messy, contested, challenging space.  It is like balance, it is not a fixed point. We hope you’ll enjoy the Blog.

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Excited to be delivering another Convers

Excited to be delivering another Conversational Intelligence Introduction Day tomorrow in Aberdeen… If you want to join us this is your last chance to reply… or email Jillian at Actually delivering two separate days this week. Early adopters catching the wave! #conversationalintelligence #leadership #buildingtrust

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CIPD Scottish Conference

CIPD Scottish Conference

We were delighted to be exhibiting at the CIPD Scottish Conference in Edinburgh yesterday.  It was a great day and we really enjoyed all the conversations we had.

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Great day yesterday delivering another C

Great day yesterday delivering another Conversational Intelligence day in Aberdeen. Don’t you just love reading the Feedback/Evaluation forms? One participant said “Very inspiring and interactive. This should become mandatory for all existing and potential leaders.” Changing the world – one conversation at a time… If you missed the day look out for more dates. If you want to know how to improve your Conversational style invest in a personal Conversational Catalyst survey and personal feedback session. Know how to make your conversations more effective! And if you join us on a future day we can guarantee (apart from the learning and tools to use immediately) and lot of fun!

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All set up and ready to go for our full

All set up and ready to go for our full day Introduction to Conversational Intelligence. Changing the world one conversation at a time!

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Speaking at the Business Women Scotland

Speaking at the Business Women Scotland Event in Aberdeen this morning at Norwood Hall. Hope to see you there!

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Wisdom of the 5 Brains

It has been fascinating to ask people in our Introduction to Conversational Intelligence® events if they can think of a time when someone really pressed their buttons, or if they can think of a person who seems to have this skill in abundance!  Go on, have a think about it yourself.  Can you think of a time?  Who presses your buttons?

As we explore these occurrences, it is astonishing to hear the strong emotions that are identified.  Emotions like anger, frustration, betrayed, annoyed, confused, shocked.  What is equally astonishing is that some of these instances which remain a trigger for strong emotion took place years ago!

And just as interesting, as you will see from the list above, most people default to a negative memory… not one filled with joy, hope, positive anticipation, and feel good.

Knowing how to build conversations that create space to transform, trigger more useful parts of the brain, and be self aware about our own conversational style and its impact on others is at the heart of Conversational Intelligence®.

The brain is of course not easily represented in a picture as we lose the dynamic three dimensional complexity.  As a result of all we are now learning in the field of neuroscience, we now know a great deal about the neurochemistry of the brain when in different kinds of conversation, and know how to get the best out of our conversation by giving the brain the best chance of an effective conversation.

5 Brains

In Conversational Intelligence® we are interested in these 5 areas:

  • The reptilian brain – the most primitive part of the brain
  • Heart brain – enables us to connect all our internal systems and connect to others
  • Limbic brain (Amygdala) stores a history of all emotional experiences, nurtures and builds relationships
  • Neocortex – hardwired for language, storing information, basic reasoning
  • Prefrontal Cortex – the executive brain, hardwired for higher level co-ordination of the whole brain

This is a tiny peep at neuroscience.  When we link all that we know about neuroscience and the opening up of more and more information about the brain – we can use this powerful body of work to look at how to have the most effective conversations, how to identify our own conversational style through using one of the survey tools, and equip ourselves with effective skills and behaviours for great outcomes in relationships, teams and organisations.  Conversational Intelligence® (C-IQ) tools and models also allow us to be more skilful at navigating conflict in a more productive way.

Our clients and participants in our one day Introduction to C-IQ events are learning the skills to transform relationships and organisations.  We hope this blog will give you a glimpse of the possibilities of Conversational Intelligence®, confidence that the work is based on evidence based research, and a desire to join us in applying the tools and models to our mutual future success.

For dates of forthcoming Introduction to C-IQ days drop us an email.  We are also happy to travel for groups of 6 or more.  We are also in the process of setting up a closed online group for further development and discussion for those who have attended one of our days to embed the learning and share experience of using C-IQ.

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This conversation is going nowhere!

You know the kind of conversation I mean.  You’ve probably been part of one… where every new sentence adds a new layer of complexity, frustration, and helplessness as each person seeks to have his or her point of view heard to the extent that no one is actually listening.

Taking a position in a conversation can be useful, but it can also become a block to further dialogue and resolution.  At that point you are simply looping the loop together until someone either escalates it, walks away from it, or gives up the will to live.

Conversational Intelligence® gives us a number of frameworks based on the latest neurological evidence, to understand how to have better conversations.  And since every relationship, team and organisation is built on relationships, sharpening up you C-IQ is a very good thing.

We are delighted to be among the first Leadership Development companies globally to be certified to deliver learning and development using the full range of C-IQ models, tools and assessments.  Initially we are running 3 Introduction to Conversational Intelligence full day learning experiences in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh.  We expect to continue to run these on a rolling programme.  Be the first to learn how to skilfully get more out of your conversations!   Full details from Jillian at

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Shifting Culture through Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ)


“Culture has become the secret sauce of organizational life:  the thing that makes the difference but for which no one has the recipe.”              Margaret Heffernan

I’ve been reading Margaret Heffernan’s little TED Book on things which are Beyond Measure: the big impact of small changes.   As a coach I have often drawn two lines on a page to form a wedge  to demonstrate that a small change on a consistent daily basis will achieve a huge change over time.

However, going back to the question of culture in organisations, over the 10 years I’ve been working independently as an Executive Coach, and facilitating Leadership Development for senior teams, the most frequently raised topics have revolved around organisational culture and organisational communication.   At last I believe that the body of work known as Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) developed by Judith E. Glaser has the potential to transform organisational culture through having intelligent conversations.

Two years ago I read Judith’s book, and have been using some of her work with clients ever since:  the simplicity of her tools when combined with the latest research in neuroscience form an impactful and intelligent body of work which profoundly impacts on client’s ability to improve conversations at individual, team and organisational level.  This has the ability to transform organisational culture.

The links are described well in this quote by John Allman et al, quoted in Judith’s book:

“To get to the next level of greatness depends on the quality of our culture, which depends on the quality of our relationships, which depends on the quality of our conversations.”

Everything begins with a conversation.  So here’s a challenge for you to undertake over the next week… On a scale with 1–10 with 10 being high, rate at least three of your conversations every day and start to think about how you could improve your conversations, your relationships, your culture and your overall outcomes.

Martha was so impressed with Judith’s work that she decided to be at the front of the queue if the opportunity came to be accredited.  She has been studying in the first cohort with Judith for most of this year and is now delighted to be part of a small global team of high level coaches and consultants about to be accredited.

This will allow Harvey McMillan to use the full range of C-IQ tools, and to deliver Conversational Intelligence training and development for our clients whether that is through Executive Coaching, Team Coaching, Focus days, Strategic away days for Senior Teams, Revisiting Conflict Resolution and Handling Difficult Conversations through C-IQ.   This gives a few examples of where we will be integrating C-IQ into our work.  C-IQ is beginning to transform conversations and cultures globally… be an Early Adopter on this and join us at the front of the queue.

We will be happy to talk with you informally about how C-IQ can shift your conversations, relationships, culture and outcomes.  Call 07789 1721 for more info.”

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The value of trust

ball logoWhat is the value of trust?  Who you can trust? How do you know? What happens when you loose it?

Harvey McMillan is proud to say that it has a strong value base as a company.  As the business owner that means that the values are close to my core personal values – you would expect nothing less.  One of our core values is trust.  So we work towards building trust with all our stakeholders:  clients, associates who work with us, employees, colleagues we network with, other fellow businesses, and even suppliers.

Our values in Harvey McMillan are:

  • Trust – high levels of trust and openness
  • Integrity – at every stage of our partnership
  • Quality – in every area of our delivery and relationships
  • Respect – for difference, culture and the needs and rights of each person we have contact with
  • Creativity – designed for you
  • Innovation – new thinking new tools
  • Yarak – alert and ready to respond
  • Making a Difference – clear measurable outcomes

The value of trust cannot be under-estimated nor can the ease with which it can be lost.  Trust and integrity are the building blocks on which all our other values stand, and our whole value proposition leads to our global value of making a difference!

So what trust value do you have in your organisation, with your staff, your partners, your clients and customers?  How do you know?  What are you doing day by day to build and strengthen trust?

Are you a leader that people trust?  Create high trust in your team and in your organisation and you will be amazed at the outcomes, rewards and the value of Trust.


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What is the authentic leader?

ball logoI was smiling at some biographical details which were provided for a presentation I was giving at a women’s conference where I was answering the question: How can I be an authentic leader and still retain my female self?  The question suggests implicitly that authentic leadership leans more towards male characteristics than female.

Authentic leadership requires the best of all that we can bring to it including but not restricted to the following:  our best intelligence, our best emotional intelligence, our best conversational intelligence, our best values, our best sense of self, and our best mission and passion.

None of the above characteristics are exclusively male or exclusively female!

For me, authentic leadership begins with the authenticity of the leader.  We are best served by leaders who are clear about their mission and vision, and work hard to be the best they can be in the role. Imitations have never been high on my list of attractions… paper roses, plastic flowers on garden centre tables (!!), fake decorations that look glitzy and cheap.  So my best advice to leaders everywhere is be your essential self, and then look at the talents you have that you can develop, the skills that you can learn, the knowledge that you can acquire and last but not least the people you need on your team to challenge you, complement you, and share the journey.

So whatever else you do today – be yourself!

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