What Makes an Effective Chairman of the Board?

I was chatting recently with Dermot Hill of Intramezzo who posed this question. Given my experience as a Chairman and my love of this role, it set me thinking. Note that I’m going to use the word “Chairman” in a non-gender specific context in this article.

Companies appoint a Chairman for a variety of reasons. If they are about to float, or are seeking external investment, they may pick someone who is acceptable to the “money men” and who has contacts in that arena rather than going for someone who can add real value to the companies proposition. But I suspect Continue reading

The Pygmies are Taking Over the World

As an entrepreneur, I have created many businesses. And these businesses need certain advisers like lawyers and accountants. Like many of you, these “species”, and I use the word advisedly, are not my most favourite people as they cost me lots of money and don’t appear to deliver much value.

Recently I was with one of these advisers and the conversation was not pleasant. In fact it made my blood boil. In a nutshell, I was asked, point blank, why I wasn’t making more money currently. Notwithstanding the incredible rudeness of the question, I was appalled that this came from an adviser that Continue reading

What Clients Say

image of Philip de Lisle standingMany people have been kind enough to provide feedback about my mentoring and business coaching work. My thanks to them all. This is a selection.

I retained Philip to facilitate strategic development with the high powered board members of a multinational association. He quickly grasped the key issues, and used his Slaying Dragons process to enable 40 people from 27 countries with competing priorities to consider the issues and develop future plans effectively. I was concerned that the strategy workshop had the potential to fail spectacularly. However Philip swiftly picked up on the interpersonal relationships and politics, and handled some hard issues that emerged on site well. He faces difficulties head on and assists his clients with insight and good business nous.
Ermine Amies, European Managing Director, International Council of Shopping Centers

I have used Philip as a mentor and facilitator for key strategic decisions. His expertise in business development and mergers and acquisitions is substantial and he uses it well through asking great questions and inputing into discussions in a sensitive and highly effective manner. He is supportive, empathetic and yet never flinches from challenging and demanding conversations where they are needed. A thoughtful and engaging mentor at senior level and someone entirely trustworthy and reliable.
Professor Chris Bones, Dean of Henley Business School

Philip is a towering intellect and one of the finest mentors I have known in the last twenty five years. I have worked with thousands of people, but quite frankly, Philip is the governor!
Shaz Quereshi, Key Accounts Director, Thomas International UK

Philip is a brilliant executive coach who provides the right balance of pragmatism in his approach to helping you unlock the potential in your business. His style and approach is not to give you an answer to a problem, but to challenge your thinking and make you really reflect on what you need to do. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations and always came away reflecting on new ideas and doing things differently.
Darren Briggs, Managing Director, Flametree Communication

Very clear and insightful, Philip has the ability to both reflect what you don’t know you are thinking and clearly deliver what is needed for clarity in your own thoughts.
Ian Plumbley, Managing Director, Roth Kase USA, Ltd

Philip is a knowledgeable and skillful businessman and a valuable addition to any Board, however, his talents as a teacher/trainer, coach and mentor, particularly within the field of digital/Interactive communications, are, without doubt, amongst the finest I have come across. Highly recommended.
Chris Clarke, Clarke Associates and formerly Eisner Communications Inc.

Philip is, without doubt, the best business mentor that I have ever had. He is able to direct thinking towards a natural clarity that removes the fog that so often gets in the way of creating strategy. I would recommend Philip’s technique, expertise and generosity in the way he mentors people to discover their own direction and to anyone wanting to achieve huge results for themselves.
Stephen Harvard Davis, Assimilating-Talent

Philip has an excellent quality. He listens. He has great insight, questions effectively and has the patience & skill to mentor. He holds up a mirror of truth to you and you may not like what you see. But that is where he can help you begin to change what’s not working.
Marcus Cauchi, Managing Director, S.A>L.T (Europe) Ltd

Philip is a great entrepreneur who combines technical, management and leadership skills. He is a leader of leaders, a fine human being and I get inspired and motivated when I talk to him.
B Hari, CEO, Ontrack Systems Ltd, India

Philip is an outstanding mentor and an extremely knowledgeable businessman. He has unrivalled experience in building companies and in exiting them. His charming, efficient and seamless approach to business solutions is a refreshing change. The only problem is that he is immensely talented so there is a great demand on his time!
William Alexander, Entrepreneur

Mentor, Mentoring & Mentorship – Grasping the nettle

image of Philip de Lisle seated with clientMost, if not all, board level directors and senior management can benefit from mentoring. All of us at one time or another have found it useful to discuss things with an outsider who can critique (rather than be critical) and not judge.

Using skills honed over 25 years as a serial entrepreneur growing (and exiting) companies from zero to over US$1billion valuations, Philip is adept at understanding the problems faced by senior executives and helping them find solutions. It’s not about knowing the answers but thinking and asking questions together about the problem in hand so that the solution presents itself.

Philip firmly believes that it is his job to “ask the unaskable and say the unsayable”. He challenges, taking people far outside their comfort zone because, in his view, it is one of the surest ways to effect change – change which helps to develop the individual but, more importantly, improves the bottom line. He is passionate about inspiring people to perform.

When you engage Philip as your mentor, don’t expect him to solve your problems. He believes that a good mentor “works on the business through the individual” (TM). He will, as he puts it, “clear away the weeds so that you can find the path” – you must discover the answers for yourself otherwise you will not “own” them. But when this happens, the return on investment can be significant for both you and your company.

Philip is also represented by TXG Ltd.

About Philip

image of Philip de Lisle seated

“My name is Philip de Lisle and I’m a professional mentor and facilitator to and for company directors and senior management.”

No, I’m not in therapy, but I’ve deliberately chosen to make this page more “human” rather than adopt the corporate style that is used for the rest of this website. Hence the use of the first person everywhere on this page.

A former serial entrepreneur, I have founded, built and directed many companies over the last 25 years. Having founded over 11 companies worldwide, I’ve got a proven track record of identifying new markets, focusing on potential problems and then taking or initiating the appropriate action to create a suitable solution. I’ve also made plenty of mistakes! These companies have been as diverse as the motor trade, advertising and PR, software development/IT and telecoms. Through them I have gained a breadth of experience of business situations and solutions that has won many commissions of work for Blueprint for Exit (a division of my current company Enhancing Clarity Ltd) that helps and enables company owners to exit their business profitably.

It was this experience which drew me into the world of mentoring CEOs and board level directors professionally, as more and more people started to ask me to share my pretty extensive knowledge of company management (i.e. compliance, risk management etc.), strategy, planning, and my network to help them improve their performance and that of their companies. I didn’t seek this role – it sought me; but I found it increasingly attractive due to the number of people that asked for my help in creating strategies to enable their businesses to improve and grow. It’s fun work that I love – and I get paid for it which is a major plus! Recently a number of clients have used the same phrase to describe my impact on them and their businesses – I give them “head space” to think about what they want for themselves and their company, helping them to understand people (themselves, staff/colleagues and clients), their motivation and their fears.

As part of my one-on-one work, I help people to discover their unique gift – we all have one – using a “tool” called Core Process. The effect of this on people’s lives is dramatic and it is a real privilege to be part of that discovery. I urge you to think about your special gift and to understand it as it will make a huge difference to you. For what it’s worth, my Core Process is “Mapping Beauty” which means everything to me (see the bit below about thinking).

I’ve been non-executive Chair of several companies, and the former Chair of a small charity working with children, all of which has provided me with the experience and acumen to work with diverse opinions, cultures and focus that comes with a Board of Directors.

I’ve been published on a number of occasions in the IoD Herts magazine and contributed the chapter on Mentoring for Growth in the 9th edition (2007) of the Growing Business Handbook published by Kogan Page. I’ve also delivered leadership programmes and strategy planning workshop, and regularly speak and lecture on how to exit companies and how to implement change so that it succeeds.

Finally I’m an accredited legal expert in IT with Crown Court experience having worked for the defence against the likes of the DTI, SFO and FBI.

So What Drives Me?

I am passionate about building teams and helping people to succeed. I want to inspire people to perform. As a mentor, I believe that my role is to challenge and to help people discover solutions for themselves and not to tell them what to do. For me leadership is about ideas and strategy, and discovering and nurturing other leaders – it is not about command. I hate seeing talent wasted.

I am particularly interested making boards and teams work effectively. To do this I use mentoring and careful listening to understand the “fit” of the individuals in the team, often by way of their Core Process.

One of the things I’ve come to realise is that people are increasingly afraid to think. We glibly use phrases like “thinking outside the box” in planning and strategy meetings without actually trying to do just that. For me, thinking is a skill which has to be practiced. I want to help people rediscover that skill, and if they are receptive, to teach them to think differently so that problems actually become fun and easy to overcome.

In fact I believe that I have the ability and focus to help you and your company identify your path forward into an exciting future. Big words I know, but what a journey …