Martin Farrell

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Wild Waters Good Leaders in Bad Trouble

‘You have to write a book about it’ said a third sector Chief Executive I had been coaching. ‘You have all that experience of coaching CEOs though crisis and you have to share it.’

That was just the spark, in October 2016, that I needed. Having been coaching CEOs since 2002 the time had come to share.

A couple of years later, after researching and pondering, I asked her advice. How do I start writing? I won’t share her exact words, but in summary she said I should just get on with it. So I did. That was January 2019. To my surprise the words started trickling on to the screen (I’m a slow writer so ‘flowing’ would be an exaggeration) and a shape began to appear.

That shape is of a magically realistic story, created from the harsh reality of the real-life experiences of the many hundreds of ACEVO members I have coached over two decades. The story is supplemented by ‘A Way of Coaching’ and self-evaluation exercises to help readers understand what’s happening around and in them and, crucially, to decide what their next step will be.

As at today (6th May 2022) ‘Wilds Waters’ has 110 nuggets of advice (grouped as ‘Watch Out’, ‘Do This’ 'Remember This’) served up in a story of six CEOs with five supporting characters, told over some eight years (Something’s Brewing - a Tuesday a year before’ … Fire – Wednesday 2am a year after the Tuesday before … ‘A Coffee Shop Close To You – a Thursday one year later’ and Life Goes on – A Friday five years later’. The story is complemented by a self-reflection chapter ‘Take A Good Look In The Mirror - Yes You’

Sir Nick Young (former CEO British Red Cross and Macmillan) says ‘Every senior manager in the voluntary sector should have this book on their bedside table, for those nightmare times when it all seems to go horribly wrong‘ and ‘…this book is the real deal, and a priceless guide for those doing a challenging but incredibly worthwhile job, and who just want to do it better’. Full quote and more here

We learn by stories, always have, always will. This story is a real one, of many and for the many third sector leaders who are navigating the turbulent and sometimes dangerous waters swirling around CEOs, chairs and boards. The ‘good leaders’ are all of those who lead organisations which deliver social benefit and their ‘bad trouble’ is the drama between CEOs, chairs and boards.

’Wild Waters’ mixes the fantastical with the mundane, the real and unreal, weird night happenings with waking life. It’s a business how-to book delivered by means of an engaging story. It will captivate leaders who have a short attention span while facing big challenges.

*Have you been in ‘wild waters’? What do you know now that you wish you had known then? What have you learned and what would you like to pass on to third sector leaders? I’d love to hear from you. (And if you’re in wild waters right now, contact me too)

It all starts with a simple conversation, like it did in October 2016. Our stories are still being written ...

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Page last modified: 06 May 2022 11:11:02