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Nick Isbister

Read more about experienced executive coach Nick Isbister, who has been a trusted advisor to business leaders for 26 years.

Nick’s approach

For over 30-years, Nick has run a strength-based coaching business. He is the founder and Managing Director of the Listening Partnership. The company specialises in high-level Executive Coaching and Leadership Development for individuals and teams.

Nick has increasingly focused on working with senior executives and executive teams to sharpen their focus and achieve better traction. Nick helps them negotiate the pressures they face at the top of their organisations and work out what they really want.

He regularly works with: CEOs; CFOs; many ‘C-suite’ Executives; Executive Boards; partners of professional service firms; directors of charities and business owners.

Nick’s expertise

Nick has worked within a wide range of sectors as an executive coach and as a consultant. These include corporates, professional services firms, SMEs and charities. He has developed long relationships with many of his clients, and worked with them on many projects, and on many diverse issues over considerable periods of time: BT (28 years); BP (25 years); Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (20 years); Oxfam (15 years); O2 (11 years); Vodafone (10 years).

In addition to his extensive experience as a consultant and coach he was the Executive Chair of Turley, a role that builds on his 25-year relationship he has with them, helping them go from being a young, dynamic, regional player to being the largest Independent Town Planning Consultancy in the UK. Turley is an EO Business.

Nick has developed a powerful coaching methodology using a narrative approach that helps business leaders and others to make sense of their personal and organisational experience and be more effective. This approach to coaching he calls Transformational Narrative Coaching. In addition to being a practitioner, he also trains other coaches in the process.

Nick’s experience

Nick has extensive experience of coaching clients at all levels in organisations, as well as private individuals who are at transition points in their lives. He helps people know what they want; create new options beyond their existing constraints; supports and challenges teams as they work through the interpersonal dynamics to enhanced performance. Nick has also been a trusted advisor to many leaders and emerging leaders.

  • Diploma in Executive Coaching from Ashridge Business School
  • PhD in Psychology from Cambridge University
  • MA (Cantab) in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University
  • Member of the EMCC and adheres to their Code of Ethics
  • Published Author – Who do you think you are? (a ‘self-help’ book)
  • Published Author – Freud: an introduction to his life and work (critical biography)

If you are interested in discussing your coaching, supervision or consultancy needs with Nick, please contact us today.

Contact Nick now

‘I have worked with the Nick over the last 7 years and it’s been a fantastic journey of discovery, incredibly rewarding and at times provocative. I am absolutely convinced that my professional development, clarity of personal brand and overall career fulfilment have all benefited significantly since working with Nick and the team.’

Barry McNeill
Chief Operating Officer – Catapult Sports

Working with boards

Nick has considerable experience and talent at working with Boards. He ensures they are crystal clear about their strategic purpose and become guardians of their organisation’s long-term success. He will adopt either the role of an external consultant to the board or take on the Non-Executive Chair internal resource position. In both contexts, he brings a range of strong capabilities and astute personal leadership to the table.

Nick maintains that healthy boards lead and sustain strong, healthy organisations. He believes that clear board leadership is vital for any organisation’s ongoing viability.

Nick offers a range of board services:

  • Executive Coaching for CEOs – Nick provides a safe space for CEOs to download their thoughts and feelings. Time to stand back and strategise.  A combination of responsive attention on the pressing, immediate board topics and strategic input to the longer-term agenda. He offers a blend of robust challenge and calm support that is always determined by the concerns of the moment. This includes the CEO’s personal needs and the business-critical issues of the organisation
  • Strategic Governance Reviews – Nick can build strategic reviews for your Board.  Time to evaluate existing practice to see if it is fit-for-purpose. Time to go back to ‘first principles’ to determine if the organisation’s Governance cycles are robust, in place and working well
  • Team Dynamics – whether the Board is well-established, or relatively new to its task, Nick’s input builds strong foundations right from the start. He will focus on the fundamentals of board process and the relationships, as well as the utilisation of the group’s diverse talents
  • NED and Non-Executive Chair work – Nick’s track record as a Chair – both Non-Executive and Executive gives a depth of knowledge and expertise that will benefit any board looking for strategic change

If you are interested in improving how your board operates, get in touch, Nick will be pleased to speak with you about possible ways of working together.

‘I have worked with the Nick over the last 7 years and it’s been a fantastic journey of discovery, incredibly rewarding and at times provocative. I am absolutely convinced that my professional development, clarity of personal brand and overall career fulfilment have all benefited significantly since working with Nick and the team.’

Barry McNeill
Chief Operating Officer – Catapult Sports

‘I have worked with the Nick over the last 7 years and it’s been a fantastic journey of discovery, incredibly rewarding and at times provocative. I am absolutely convinced that my professional development, clarity of personal brand and overall career fulfilment have all benefited significantly since working with Nick and the team.’

Barry McNeill
Chief Operating Officer – Catapult Sports

‘Nick and Jude are perceptive, impactful and motivational at personal, team and corporate levels. Working with the Listening Partnership for over 20 years in manufacturing and third sector organisations has been a highly valuable experience.’

Stuart Leed
Interim FD – Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust

‘I saw Nick at a pivotal point in my career. His quiet wisdom and guidance helped me see my future in a very different light. I can’t recommend him too highly.’

Jay Hunt
Creative Director Europe – Apple

‘I have worked with Nick for over twelve years through major transitions in my career and challenges in delivering business outcomes. What I value most about Nick is his ability to reground me and get both perspective and focus into how to work through challenges. I appreciate the alternative approaches he brings to how to deal with issues and his pragmatism and practicality. As an executive coach he supportive, thoughtful and relevant.’

Laurence Milsted
Global Finance Director – London Law Firm

‘I have worked with Nick since 2002 finding his insights and help profound. Nick always helps me unpack my jumbled thoughts, helping me to be present as a leader, giving me the confidence I need to thrive and perform.’

Guy Mason
Cfo And Director – Bp Shipping

‘Nick has made a significant and lasting impact on my confidence and effectiveness. He understood the key issues and what would work for me. I feel better equipped to take on ever bigger challenges.’

Kelly Barlow
Commercial Director – Bt Consumer

‘Nick has injected impetus and direction into both my professional and personal life. A fantastic listener and facilitator, I genuinely feel empowered by the reflective process of discovery he took me on.’

Blake Wooster
CEO – 21st Club Ltd

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Your workplace could easily involve five generations. This is the first time in the history of work that this has happened. While everyone in a company is supposed to work together towards shared goals, people’s attitudes, feelings, approach and expectations differ slightly across the generations.

Matthew Dicks and the magic of Homework for Life

Homework for Life is a strategy that I originally began using to generate more story topics for the stage, but as I began to use the strategy daily, it changed my life. It made everything about my life so much more vivid and slowed my life down remarkably. It's a strategy I teach to my storytelling classes often, and I've had people tell me that it has replaced therapy and meditation for them. It truly changes lives. Powerful.

The importance of presence in coaching

What is ‘presence’ in coaching? It can be hard to define, although when you are with a coach with real presence, you sense it immediately. A coach with genuine presence is highly self-aware and they are mentally, and emotionally present. They have an open, flexible, grounded and confident style. There are interested and focused upon their client.

Self-Determination Theory – The Energy of Action

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) has made a significant impact to field of study of human motivation. SDT added a more multi-faceted understanding of motivation. This approach can be used to better understand yourself and others.

Covey’s Circle of Concern and Influence

Have you heard of Stephen Covey’s Circle of Concern and Influence? It’s extremely useful for coaches and managers, a powerful model to apply to both individuals and teams. So, what’s it all about, and how might it help you survive those downward mood spirals that sometimes hit a group of people, then spread out more widely to others?

The benefits of Reverse Mentoring for more inclusive working

Mentoring usually involves older or more experienced people passing information down to younger, less experienced people. But what if we turned that on its head? Could there be advantages around younger, less experienced employees mentoring older, more experienced colleagues?

Stages of Creativity and Coaching – Part 1

The idea of creativity having developmental stages is not new. It has been around for a long time. It is as relevant now though, as it was in the past. Creativity and innovative outcomes are always needed in business. Concepts that work in reality have great value.

Cultivating Deliberate Creativity in Teams – Part 2

In this blog, I continue to explore how creativity is best understood as a collective effort. One that always involves other people. I describe how this understanding can help groups to think differently and become more deliberately creative. Describing what they need do to get the creativity juices flowing.

Sparking Creativity by Joining the Dots – Part 3

In this blog, I take a closer look at the idea of creativity being seen as a process of ‘joining-the-dots’ and how this idea links to what we know about both individual and group creativity. And how you can use this understanding to bring creativity into your world.

Are you buckling under Allostatic Overload? What are the signs?

You’re stressed. You feel worn out, drained and flat. The future looks uncertain. You can’t keep hold of your emotions and your sleep is suffering. Your muscles are tense. You’ve become hyper-vigilant. Your body’s stress hormones are surging. And it is utterly exhausting.

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Nick’s approach

For over 30-years, Nick has run a strength-based coaching business. He is the founder and Managing Director of the Listening Partnership. The company specialises in high-level Executive Coaching and Leadership Development for individuals and teams.

Nick has increasingly focused on working with senior executives and executive teams to sharpen their focus and achieve better traction. Nick helps them negotiate the pressures they face at the top of their organisations and work out what they really want.

He regularly works with: CEOs; CFOs; many ‘C-suite’ Executives; Executive Boards; partners of professional service firms; directors of charities and business owners.

Nick’s expertise

Nick has worked within a wide range of sectors as an executive coach and as a consultant. These include corporates, professional services firms, SMEs and charities. He has developed long relationships with many of his clients, and worked with them on many projects, and on many diverse issues over considerable periods of time: BT (28 years); BP (25 years); Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (20 years); Oxfam (15 years); O2 (11 years); Vodafone (10 years).

In addition to his extensive experience as a consultant and coach he was the Executive Chair of Turley, a role that builds on his 25-year relationship he has with them, helping them go from being a young, dynamic, regional player to being the largest Independent Town Planning Consultancy in the UK. Turley is an EO Business.

Nick has developed a powerful coaching methodology using a narrative approach that helps business leaders and others to make sense of their personal and organisational experience and be more effective. This approach to coaching he calls Transformational Narrative Coaching. In addition to being a practitioner, he also trains other coaches in the process.

Nick’s experience

Nick has extensive experience of coaching clients at all levels in organisations, as well as private individuals who are at transition points in their lives. He helps people know what they want; create new options beyond their existing constraints; supports and challenges teams as they work through the interpersonal dynamics to enhanced performance. Nick has also been a trusted advisor to many leaders and emerging leaders.

  • Diploma in Executive Coaching from Ashridge Business School
  • PhD in Psychology from Cambridge University
  • MA (Cantab) in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University
  • Member of the EMCC and adheres to their Code of Ethics
  • Published Author – Who do you think you are? (a ‘self-help’ book)
  • Published Author – Freud: an introduction to his life and work (critical biography)

If you are interested in discussing your coaching, supervision or consultancy needs with Nick, please contact us today.

Contact Nick now

‘I have worked with the Nick over the last 7 years and it’s been a fantastic journey of discovery, incredibly rewarding and at times provocative. I am absolutely convinced that my professional development, clarity of personal brand and overall career fulfilment have all benefited significantly since working with Nick and the team.’

Barry McNeill
Chief Operating Officer – Catapult Sports

Working with boards

Nick has considerable experience and talent at working with Boards. He ensures they are crystal clear about their strategic purpose and become guardians of their organisation’s long-term success. He will adopt either the role of an external consultant to the board or take on the Non-Executive Chair internal resource position. In both contexts, he brings a range of strong capabilities and astute personal leadership to the table.

Nick maintains that healthy boards lead and sustain strong, healthy organisations. He believes that clear board leadership is vital for any organisation’s ongoing viability.

Nick offers a range of board services:

  • Executive Coaching for CEOs – Nick provides a safe space for CEOs to download their thoughts and feelings. Time to stand back and strategise.  A combination of responsive attention on the pressing, immediate board topics and strategic input to the longer-term agenda. He offers a blend of robust challenge and calm support that is always determined by the concerns of the moment. This includes the CEO’s personal needs and the business-critical issues of the organisation
  • Strategic Governance Reviews – Nick can build strategic reviews for your Board.  Time to evaluate existing practice to see if it is fit-for-purpose. Time to go back to ‘first principles’ to determine if the organisation’s Governance cycles are robust, in place and working well
  • Team Dynamics – whether the Board is well-established, or relatively new to its task, Nick’s input builds strong foundations right from the start. He will focus on the fundamentals of board process and the relationships, as well as the utilisation of the group’s diverse talents
  • NED and Non-Executive Chair work – Nick’s track record as a Chair – both Non-Executive and Executive gives a depth of knowledge and expertise that will benefit any board looking for strategic change

If you are interested in improving how your board operates, get in touch, Nick will be pleased to speak with you about possible ways of working together.

‘I have worked with the Nick over the last 7 years and it’s been a fantastic journey of discovery, incredibly rewarding and at times provocative. I am absolutely convinced that my professional development, clarity of personal brand and overall career fulfilment have all benefited significantly since working with Nick and the team.’

Barry McNeill
Chief Operating Officer – Catapult Sports

‘I saw Nick at a pivotal point in my career. His quiet wisdom and guidance helped me see my future in a very different light. I can recommend him highly.’

Jay Hunt
Chief Creative Officer – Channel 4

‘I have worked with the Nick over the last 7 years and it’s been a fantastic journey of discovery, incredibly rewarding and at times provocative. I am absolutely convinced that my professional development, clarity of personal brand and overall career fulfilment have all benefited significantly since working with Nick and the team.’

Barry McNeill
Chief Operating Officer – Catapult Sports

‘Nick and Jude are perceptive, impactful and motivational at personal, team and corporate levels. Working with the Listening Partnership for over 20 years in manufacturing and third sector organisations has been a highly valuable experience.’

Stuart Leed
Interim FD – Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust

‘I saw Nick at a pivotal point in my career. His quiet wisdom and guidance helped me see my future in a very different light. I can’t recommend him too highly.’

Jay Hunt
Creative Director Europe – Apple

‘I have worked with Nick for over twelve years through major transitions in my career and challenges in delivering business outcomes. What I value most about Nick is his ability to reground me and get both perspective and focus into how to work through challenges. I appreciate the alternative approaches he brings to how to deal with issues and his pragmatism and practicality. As an executive coach he supportive, thoughtful and relevant.’

Laurence Milsted
Global Finance Director – London Law Firm

‘I have worked with Nick since 2002 finding his insights and help profound. Nick always helps me unpack my jumbled thoughts, helping me to be present as a leader, giving me the confidence I need to thrive and perform.’

Guy Mason
Cfo And Director – Bp Shipping

‘Nick has made a significant and lasting impact on my confidence and effectiveness. He understood the key issues and what would work for me. I feel better equipped to take on ever bigger challenges.’

Kelly Barlow
Commercial Director – Bt Consumer

‘Nick has injected impetus and direction into both my professional and personal life. A fantastic listener and facilitator, I genuinely feel empowered by the reflective process of discovery he took me on.’

Blake Wooster
CEO – 21st Club Ltd

Nick’s latest articles

Self-Determination Theory – The Energy of Action

Self-Determination Theory (SDT) has made a significant impact to field of study of human motivation. SDT added a more multi-faceted understanding of motivation. This approach can be used to better understand yourself and others.

Sparking Creativity by Joining the Dots – Part 3

In this blog, I take a closer look at the idea of creativity being seen as a process of ‘joining-the-dots’ and how this idea links to what we know about both individual and group creativity. And how you can use this understanding to bring creativity into your world.