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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

The ups and downs of working with a narcissist – And how to survive it!

Narcissism is a trait that can be very difficult to live with as well as very tricky to work with. If you're struggling to cope with a narcissist in a business context, it is challenging and it isn't all bad. Here are the up-sides and downsides of working with a narcissist, and how to survive the experience.

Essential Insight for Managers – How to Challenge Well

As a manager, there's no avoiding it. You will, at one point or another, have to challenge someone's behaviour at work. So how do you successfully challenge somebody on what can sometimes feel like an intensely personal level, when the way they're performing or behaving is rocking the boat?

Minimalism – when less can equal more

What exactly is minimalism and the benefits it has to offer? Essentially, it is all about how less can really be more. The original minimalist movement is recognised as first beginning in the art world. Emerging out of New York City, in the late 1960s.

Charting our way through the storm – Part 1

You will probably be familiar with the following famous quote, shared at the beginning on the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just one oar.”

Post-traumatic growth (PTG) on the horizon – Part 2

I described the experience as a ‘collective trauma’, no matter which boat you journeyed in. Here, I explore what it means to describe the COVID-19 pandemic in these terms, exploring the lesser talked about side of trauma: Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG).

The Paradox of Luck

What are the chances of you existing at all? This was the question that Ali Binazir, the critically acclaimed author and self-described ‘Happiness Engineer’ asked himself. The answer he arrived at: 1 in 102,685,000. Or 10 followed by 2,685,000 zeroes.

Solution Circles – Harnessing Group Creativity

Solution-focused approaches to coaching advocate that people are inherently resourceful and creative. It therefore stands to reason that, under the right conditions if we can facilitate groups effectively and in a collaborative way, the potential for even better ideas and outcomes will follow.

Stages of Creativity and Coaching

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.

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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

The ups and downs of working with a narcissist – And how to survive it!

Narcissism is a trait that can be very difficult to live with as well as very tricky to work with. If you're struggling to cope with a narcissist in a business context, it is challenging and it isn't all bad. Here are the up-sides and downsides of working with a narcissist, and how to survive the experience.

Gathering around a roaring telly – The science of storytelling

In the 1970s parents told children they'd get 'square eyes' from watching too much telly. There's still some snobbery around the idea of hunkering down in front of the TV, which is seen as somehow less worthy than the theatre, opera, film, books, even radio.