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 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

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

Philip was engaged specifically to help the Board grow the business. He also did some work with me personally which has changed the way I approach my role as Managing Director. The outcome of the work we did with Philip meant that we grew the business by 7% last year which surprised some of us, and we expect to grow in excess by 10% this year and 25% to 30% next.
Philip Purver, Managing Director, The Working Manager Ltd

Philip was able to enable us to clearly identify the current issues we faced. At each session he constructively challenged our discoveries, and provided expert support, in-depth knowledge and mentoring to help us address these. We now have a trusted mentor who truly understands our business and its challenges.
Alan Krause, Director, SAM7 Ltd

As a result of our work with Philip, our growth this year is on target to deliver a 12% increase over last year. Our growth target for next year is +40%. Additionally, the senior level expertise within the company has developed exponentially enabling more effective decision making.
Pat Nice, Managing Director, Reconnix Ltd

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 skilful 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. I’ve deliberately chosen to make this page more “human” than the rest of this website. Hence the use of the first person everywhere on this page.

What Have I Done?

A former serial entrepreneur, I’ve built and directed many companies over the last 35 years. I’ve founded more than 11 companies worldwide, in various industries such as the motor trade, advertising and PR, software development/IT and telecoms.

I’ve been non-executive Chair of several companies (including VC and private equity backed ones), and the former Chair of a small charity working with children. These have given me the understanding and acumen to work with the diverse opinions, cultures and focus that comes from working with a Board of Directors.

All this has provided me plenty with of experience, and I’ve got a lot of scar tissue from the mistakes that I’ve made! I’ve got a proven track record of

  • Formulating and implementing strategy
  • Delivering growth
  • Risk management
  • Compliance
  • Identifying new markets
  • Increasing sales and profitability
  • Focusing on potential problems and creating suitable solutions
  • Improving efficiency and looking for economies of scale

I now use these to help companies grow, which often leads to a profitable exit for their owners.

What Do I Do?

So how did I find myself, though my current company Enhancing Clarity Ltd, mentoring CEOs, board level directors and senior managers both in the UK and abroad?

After I exited my last business, I joined a number of networks wondering what to do next – I was too young at that stage to retire. Through these networks people asked me to share my knowledge of strategy, planning, company management (i.e. compliance, risk management etc.) to help them improve their performance, their team’s and that of their companies. I suppose you could say that this role found me.

So what do I actually do you may ask? I don’t really “do” anything. I’m not a consultant so don’t expect me to write a report for you or come up with a sales strategy – that’s your job (or one of your team’s) because it’s your company not mine. I’ll help you figure it out by asking probing questions and challenging your thinking. According so several clients I give them “head space” to really think about what they want for themselves and their company.

I’m incredibly lucky because I love what I do. I get a real buzz when clients have that “ah ha” or “lightbulb” moment. Sometimes this isn’t what I expected and that’s when I learn something. I still can’t quite believe that I get paid to do this!

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. It is 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. And 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 using a tool called Core Process.

Other Stuff I Do

I regularly speak and lecture internationally on several “How To’s”:

  • How to buy companies
  • How to invest in companies
  • How to exit companies
  • How to implement change so that it succeeds

I also deliver leadership programmes and strategy planning workshops.

I’ve written several articles for 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.

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

Media Showcase

To get a flavour of who am I and what I can do for you, I’m including some links to videos and podcasts that I have either participated in or been referenced by others.

  • Get Ready for Investment
    In this webinar Rob Goddard of EvolutionCBS interviews me about how to get ready for external investment.

  • Mentorship for Creative Agencies
    This podcast is a discussion between the two owners of one of my smallest ever clients discussing how they found me and how I had helped them. It is included here with permission.
  • Beermat Radio Interview
    In this edition of Beermat Radio I’m interviewed by Mike Southon, co-author of The Beermat Entrepreneur, about by career and mentoring. It is included here with permission.

And Finally…

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 practised. 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.

I’m confident that I have the expertise, experience and focus to help you and your company identify your path forward into an exciting future. Big words I know, but what a journey …