Leona Bishop - International Sustainable Leadership Coach
Leona Bishop, CEO Dare to Care Leadership and managing director of Functional Fluency International, is an expert on leadership development, executive coaching, team development, change management, organizational development, training and facilitation. She has the experience and knowledge to help companies build capacity and succeed in today’s constantly changing, competitive marketplace.
Tony Radford 0:00
Hi, everyone, and welcome to another episode of small business heroes podcast. Today I have with me Leona Bishop of daretocareleadership.com.
Tony Radford 0:00
Leona, how are you today?
Leona Bishop 0:14
I'm very well, thank you, Tony. Fine, yes.
Tony Radford 0:19
Okay, why don't you tell us about your business?
Leona Bishop 0:23
Yes, well, my business. Actually, I started my own coaching and training company. And that was about 12 years ago in 2008. And I've ever since been working internationally for clients in the Netherlands and South Africa, UK, and also the Dutch Caribbean, I moved to Curacao about five and a half years ago. And I'm actually in the process of moving back to the Netherlands. So I love to work internationally. And I coach and I train leaders and teams and organizations, and basically people who are struggling with leveraging their potential. And you could say it's the people development business I'm in. So that's just to start off by a quick description of what I do.
Tony Radford 1:10
How did you get there? What's been your story?
Leona Bishop 1:15
Well, before starting my own business, and we all have a story, of course, you know, that we all start off doing something. And then maybe there's a certain point that we we decide, okay, well is this from Is this the thing, what I'm doing is this for me, and actually my generation, I'm 56.
Now, you would say usually around 40 to 44 years old, you know, things sort of starting to go, well maybe get some butterflies and say, okay, is what I'm doing, really what I want to do. And that happened for me when I was about 44.
So before starting my own business about for 20 years, I've been working in various roles in the public sector that was basically at the city of Rotterdam. And that's quite a large city. So it was lots to do. And a certain point, I was working as a program manager in one of the departments. And, you know, at that point is a number of events really happened. And they prompted me to reflect on what I was doing and why I was behaving the way I was behaving, actually.
And I was at that point, managing change, a big change program, which involved a merger of three large local government departments. And I was just struggling getting the decision makers on board. And that was really a big challenge. So how can I get these leaders to actually get get on board and, and do what I had emphasized, you know, this, and it was so obvious for me, like, this is what we need to do. So I just really got very frustrated, and I was internally blaming management, you know, that they were really lacking vision, and they weren't, didn't have a clue what was going on in their organization. So I really had a hard time dealing with these managers. You know, from my perspective, they were very dominant personalities. So it came to a point that one of them really belittled me and I just exploded.
And at the same time, I was also having difficulties in managing my eldest daughter, I, you know, she was having some problematic behavior and actually also showing some performance anxiety is at school.
And this confrontation, and also the information I was getting from this performance anxiety I just looked at, I remember looking at the brochure and thinking, Oh, my gosh, it really looks like me, you know, this is something I'm just going after all these results, and why am I doing it and actually feeling that feeling very anxious.
So, my work, private life was really totally out of balance, and I wasn't getting the outcome I wanted in my job. And yeah, I just thought, Okay, so what am I going to do now, and also a friend of mine at that time said, "Leona, you know, you're beavering away at this organization, but what is your true north?
And I just really felt, you know, I felt completely silent. I just had never thought about okay, but what do I really want.
So, that really prompted me to find out more about myself and I went into training, and I signed up for a course to improve my personal effectiveness. And as a change manager, because it was bit funny, here's me a change manager and finding it hard to get people on board to change and I needed to change myself first.
So I learned about all kinds of things, neuro linguistic programming, spiral dynamics, organizational constellations. So that really brought me into the whole idea of coaching and training. And then I decided to do that as a profession.
So after a year, I left my job, and I started my own business. So it's very personal story. I also remember, I was in a workshop once and somebody, the person who was leading the workshop asked "What do you complain about most?" And I was complaining about leaders who, you know, who didn't know what they were doing and everything?
And then she said "So then you should really make the complaint, you know, you could change around and make that your passion and your purpose."
And why was I complaining? Because I thought, well, as a child, even and growing up, I never felt the support I needed to develop. So I have actually turned it into a passion and a purpose.
Tony Radford 5:55
That's interesting. Where are you now? What are you currently working on right now?
Leona Bishop 6:01
Currently, I'm working on well, you know, because of the whole COVID situation, of course, we're in and also having to go online a lot to do the work online, because you were not allowed to meet in groups, etc. So the whole idea of doing more coaching and training online, I was doing that already.
So this is a taking that a step further. And actually one of the concepts that I learned in my coaching world develop developing as a coach was the model of functional fluency, which was created by Susannah temple. And she's brilliant lady. And it was a brilliant model, it's behavioral model. And it's about building effective relationships, both in professional and private life. So I've really embraced this. And together with three other colleagues, we have now registered to where we set up a new company Functional Fluency International.
So that's what I'm working on now. We work internationally. And, yes, there are about 136 people who use the model and the instrument around the world. So we're aware, we're now in about eight to nine countries. And that's what I'm working on. Now, to make that more professional, I have set up and create an online platform for people to exchange ideas. And yeah, to see if we can get that going.
Tony Radford 7:34
That's quite a story, you have the long progression from where you were to where you are now. Thank you for that.
Could you tell us what your biggest business challenge has been so far?
Leona Bishop 7:51
Yeah, so the biggest challenge was actually, being totally struck down in business. And that was very soon after I'd set up business that was in 2008. And then this great recession that was caused by the financial crisis in 2008, you know, and I had really good contracts going, but I was just sort of, you know, people saying, "No, we can't, we can't have professionals like you working anymore, we have to take care of home people". So they're really closing doors, to all consultants and coaches, people like me.
So that was the biggest challenge, actually, and I you know, between 2010, 2012, I had hardly any work. And I actually had to sell my house.
So you know, that a lot of adversity happened then.
And luckily, my partner then who's now my husband, he supported me through it, and, but also, it really did give me time to think also about myself and reinvent myself and really become clear on who I am and what I want to do in life. So I really did become clear on my mission, and how I wanted to show up in the world.
Tony Radford 9:01
Yeah, that's very challenging time for a lot of people, isn't it? But for you, you know, some good came out of it?
Leona Bishop 9:11
Yes, I suppose the same thing is happening now for a lot of people. Because it's happening again, you know, there's a lot of work not that I was going to do that's not you know, to be all being postponed and everything. So I'm feeling but I'm doing exactly the same thing.
And I just have a really high trust that it will sort itself out and focus on what you think is gonna work. So that's why it's also given me time to set the whole Functional Fluency International organization up because without it, I would have been very busy doing what I was doing.
And now I thought, okay, so I'm going to use this time effectively, and see what I think could be an opportunity. And, yeah, I'm happy somehow and I'm happy I have the time to do it. Otherwise I wouldn't have done it.
Tony Radford 10:01
Looking back, you know, what would be one thing you wish someone had told you when you start running your own business?
Leona Bishop 10:14
Well, I think in the beginning, I was really trying to do everything myself. So you know, it's... I have a certain expertise, but I had to market it and I had to, you know, get the business going, etc. And it worked a bit.
But I really would say, it would be very handy, if you're the beginning, you get people in like a business coach, or a branding experts to help you figure out, you know, what it is, what you what it is you have to offer, but especially think of the people you are trying to reach out to.
So who are your buyer personas? What is their experience? What's their customer experience? You know, what is their biggest dream? What are their worst nightmares? What are their needs, etc? So this is something I would recommend? Definitely.
Tony Radford 11:10
Yeah. So really, really good advice, actually, it's very easy for people to try to do everything all at once. And often, you know, people think 'I'm going to save money', I'll read a book or something about a certain thing they need in my business. I fallen victim to that myself.
And when I had my software company, I only really experienced significant growth when I got other people working for me. And I partnered with other people, because I'm actually complete loner by nature completely. But it's only when I joined with other people, both for the services and for working on projects together, the whole thing became bigger than me. Yeah, it was very successful.
Leona Bishop 11:57
So yeah, that really, it really does help me really out because, you know, I was, I can do quite a lot. I've learned to do quite a lot. But it's was so time consuming. And at the end, I thought, "Oh, my gosh, why am I doing this? You know, like, dude, I've made my own website, and I did the whole marketing program."
And I don't know what, but it just took it and I didn't, I wasn't getting any energy out of it, because it's not my expertise. So you know, I was also losing energy. And what I really wanted to do is just do what I do best. So that's, you know, it's really essential to surround yourself with people who just do these, these activities for you.
And also what I remember that I was so focused on Oh, gosh, what are other people doing? You know, so that was also very time consuming, trying to learn what other people are doing. And in the meantime, just actually procrastinating, because I wasn't getting my thing done.
So I would also advise people not to look what other people doing too much. Just really do your own thing. Because, you know, we know, we all know
Tony Radford 13:00
What do you mean 'we all know'...
Leona Bishop 13:02
That we know that we know what we need to do.
And at the same time surround ourselves with people who can do it. So instead of wanting to do it yourself, so that's it. I mean, I know at the end of the day, I do know what, what I need to do, what I need to focus on is a sort of, yeah, it's my intuition, but I know what's right and what's wrong for me. And as soon as I lose energy doing something I know I shouldn't be doing it.
Yeah. And what I've also discovered is if you really have a very compelling message, and attractive, and also it depends on your mindset, because we are very much moved to, you know, this idea of abundance, and sharing.
And so what we're realizing now is that people in the network as soon as we share, and people are also, you know, inclined to share too. And when we share we co-create.
So this is this is something that's been been happening this past year, that more and more people are just stepping in and actually volunteering and say, Hey, can we help?
So, yeah, that's great, but I really, it really has to do with the way we're thinking and, and that also had connects with values and, and purpose, etc. So also get very, you know, especially if you're working together with people get really clear on on values and see if they're aligned. They have to be aligned.
Tony Radford 14:36
Yeah. I'm not actually working with many people because I'm in my comfort zone when I'm alone, but I definitely need to step out.
Leona Bishop 14:45
Oh, maybe we could do the TIFF for you - 'Functional Fluency' test. Not that it's not a test. It's your story. And find out what your story is. Where you're effective in where you're less effective.
Tony Radford 15:01
Yeah, I've always done quite well, where I've set out on my own I, I started my business by going to Romania, did a bit of charity work there, but I went out there on my own in 98, it was still pretty pre-post revolution. And I didn't know any Romanian, I didn't know anywhere, anybody. Where I went to the city Timisoara and just managed to carve out one connection and hang on to that and then build something from there. And I did that in other things as well. Obviously, in the UK, I was the only person in my office, I don't have any employees in the UK. And 20 odd in the in Romania.
Leona Bishop 15:37
So yeah, so but you worked internationally together to so. And remotely. So it's very, very modern.
Tony Radford 15:43
Yeah. I had a hard time selling it. At a time I was going round to companies saying 'If you are short of developers give the work to me'. 'Where's your office', 'Well it's in Timisoara?' 'Where's that?' 'Romania'. 'Where's that?'
And how are you going to do that? What happens to software? And I would say, and what, you know, what, operating system operating systems using a computer? Windows? I said, Well, where was that built? Well, you know, it wasn't built in America or India. So it's very difficult. And then within a few years, it became normal to outsource, at a micro-scale.
Unknown Speaker 16:17
Tony Radford 16:19
Yeah. Anyway, it was it was an interesting time. I was going to ask you about something, actually, you use the phrase earlier, which was energy in and energy out?
Leona Bishop 16:35
Yes, energy gain, energy drain.
Tony Radford 16:37
Because in the context of doing other jobs that aren't really natural to you, I think you mentioned
Could you explain that a bit more. What that means,
Leona Bishop 16:48
Well, that's, it's very much related to Functional Fluency. And actually, I've just, I've really incorporated it into my life.
So it's the central to the model is accounting. And accounting is something we do. So taking stock of the situation and making sense of what's happening.
And from there, we can choose our behavior.
So I just become very aware. Part of it is being very alert and understanding what the situation is and evaluate what's going on. So I've really focused on does something give me energy or not, and as soon as something feels energy draining, then I know I shouldn't be doing it.
And very often, I can see my my behavior become less effective. So my energy goes to ineffective modes of behavior. And I'm so aware of what I do that I can really very easily say, okay, change it.
And so what will make me feel that I just, I gain energy instead of lose energy, so that the model gives me tremendous amount of help to, to make the right choices for myself and also for others, because it's about do I benefit and do others benefit?
And am I achieving my goals? Am I achieving what is important to me? So it's very often our body just, you know, tells us just listen to your body and just feel like, you know, I get people here in here, coach, my coaches, and I'm just so tired. So you know, there's something that what they're doing isn't effective, and the energy drain you feel in your body? Yeah.
So or just being you know, there's something happening and you just go over and over again, in your mind without taking action, very often we get into this impasse, this internal dialogue, which isn't helping us at all. And it's also energy draining. And that's very often when you have things complicated things happening or adversity coming your way or there's a difficult.
I have a difficult landlord now at the moment and it really invites me to do become very ineffective in my behavior, but every time Okay, don't go there early on, don't go there. So that's it that's just from you can use it in your business too.
Tony Radford 19:23
In what way?
Leona Bishop 19:25
Well, actually,what I explained earlier, as soon as I feel I'm doing something that's really draining my energy. You know, and then I can find myself doing getting upset or they'll be getting annoyed or frustrated or whatever. And then I know Oh, no, don't go there.
Just find another solution for this. So that also Okay, that's when I started to say, right, I'm not going to do this anymore myself. And I'm going to do I'm going to invite other people in to do it. Now that time, it really changed my mind. way of doing business to? Yeah. Yeah. And also with clients, you know, you can just say, Hey, this is not what I like. So some clients, I don't like to work with the energy draining, so I don't know.
Tony Radford 20:16
What would be the next step for your business?
Leona Bishop 20:21
Well, what we're doing actually now is we're scaling up. So I'm scaling up my business. And it's not so much the Dare to Care Leadership, but I'm going to focus on Functional Fluency International.
And scaling up means both quality and quantity.
So together, we have quite a large network of people, professionals who all have kind of all have their own expertise. So it could be in the educational field, or just in the retail in hospitality, or parenting, or just organizational business, whatever. And all these people use functional fluency.
And very often, they also use the behavioral tool to go with it, the tempo and its functional fluency. But it's a beautiful model to combine. So we have a lot of products that we can actually develop and further or co create products.
So it's scaling up and using the online platform to do it to share.
And yeah, just offering high value products and services for people who are needed in need of them. So it's scaling up more. So going globally, globally. And I already said we're about we have about nine countries, we're active and soon Poland and Turkey will probably join. So I'm out there to go out there and have have conversations around the world actually.
Tony Radford 21:57
interesting and exciting as well.
Leona Bishop 22:02
Very exciting. Yeah.
Tony Radford 22:08
Just a micro question, though, if somebody gave you 500 pounds to spend on marketing, how would you spend it?
Leona Bishop 22:17
Yes, I've already spent, I've already spent 500, I've spent much, much more. It's pretty difficult, because I've actually found that 500 pound doesn't really get you very far. But I would actually I would, yeah, I would actually hire somebody to help help myself, you know, so it could be a business coach, or, or somebody who's in a branding expert, especially if you're starting out, but you can also rebrand because actually, that's what we're doing with functional fluency. We're rebranding.
So that's, that's what I would do. Because I've found is working with a branding company, that, you know, very often we just set up when we say, Oh, yeah, website, this is what we're gonna do. And and then, you know, hopefully, it's gonna, it's gonna work and we're going to sell our products, and we were going to get the conversion we want. But I really, I really believe now that you have to have your fundament in the right place.
So I would actually spend it on making sure that I know, you know what I am, who I am working for what I'm what I am offering what my values are. Yeah, so branding is for me very important. Right?
Tony Radford 23:32
Yeah, you're right, 500 pounds isn't very much, But for microbusiness, that might be all they have, you know?
Leona Bishop 23:39
Yes, yes. And that's what happened in the beginning for me, but then I did actually, I took a loan. My husband said, You're crazy. And I said, Well, you might think so but I can't do that. I need this help. I need to be helped. So I took a loan. And that was at the time, that was a 15,000 euros. And I hired a business coach, and I did branding. And I earned it back within three months.
And then my and then my husband said, Wow, okay, I didn't believe you could do that. I said, Well, I did it.
So, you know, it depends on how you how you think. I think if you say, Oh, I have I haven't gotten enough money. And that's it or you just invest in you take risks, I suppose. And you know, as an entrepreneur, that's what entrepreneurs do. They also take risks.
Tony Radford 24:41
Even sometimes, just for the thrill of,
Unknown Speaker 24:45
It wasn't a thrill always for me. Because, you know, I've been, but maybe because I've been bankrupt you know, and I've experienced it and I know and I got out of that.
So yeah, I'm a lot like my father, I think I take risks now and again, but up till now it's always worked. It's worked. It's it's always been solved. So, yeah.
Tony Radford 25:10
Excellent. That's very interesting. And can you give us one actionable sales too?
Leona Bishop 25:18
Yes, well, I'm, I'm just looking at it from my perspective and the business I'm in. But I do think you can use it in all kinds of branches. And that really is about understanding your buyer persona. So it's really having meaningful conversations with people, and not for the sake of selling. I'm not salesy person, you know, because I really want to understand what's you know, what's, what the other person is going through, I'm talking, just be really very curious and ask great questions and listen, you know, be an active listener.
And then if, by doing that, you know, you show your expertise anyway, in the conversation, somehow or another, it shows up.
So when I have meaningful conversations, then I'm at my best, and that's when I sell the most, even though I'm not out there to sell. It just happens. So but I know, it's very, it depends probably on who you are as a person, I don't know. But we have to understand what people are going through and understand. And also to make our own products better, because, you know, you're trying to solve a problem for somebody.
And that's, you know, that's very nice and very, and I'm always very grateful. And I actually can do that. But that's also because I understand. Yeah.
Tony Radford 26:44
Okay, thank you very much for that. And also, thank you for being such an interesting guest on this podcast, actually. Thank you. How, what would be the best way for people to get in touch with you?
Leona Bishop 27:02
Well, they could email me or send me a WhatsApp.
That's I'm very very quick, quick in responding if they send me a WhatsApp.
Tony Radford 27:11
What's your email address?
Leona Bishop 27:14
email address is Leona@daretocareleadership.com Okay. Yeah. Or Leona@functionalfluency.com
Tony Radford 27:30
Okay. Leona, thanks so much. Thank you.
Leona Bishop 27:39
Okay, Tony. Thank you for having me.
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