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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.

‘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

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 – Part 1

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.

Maximising return on luck – Part 2

In this blog, I take a closer look at what Jim Collins and Morten Hansen, the American researchers, authors, and consultants have contributed towards our understanding of luck. Then in turn, how we can apply this understanding to recent events related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adopting A Lucky Perspective – Part 3

In this blog, I will take a closer look at examples I have already touched upon in the last two blogs, to help us understand and shape events before they happen in the future.

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.

When the solution is in the listening. The gift of being heard – Part 4

In this series of blogs I have discussed what Solution-focused coaching looks like, including some of the common techniques associated with this approach and why it works. When it works, it feels like magic. Whilst these techniques are key ingredients of this magic, there is a danger that it can overlook a more fundamental element that is needed: Listening.

Leading with Solution-Focused Eyes – Part 5

In this series on the Solution-Focused approach, we have explored the underlying principles and some of the techniques that flow from working in this way. We have also described why they are useful. One of the key aspects is that a coach grounded in solution-focused principles can more readily and effectively support clients in moving towards achieving their goals.

Know the signs – Does your client need coaching or therapy?

Life can be extremely challenging at work and at home. It can get the better of us all at one time or other. As a result the World Health Organization says that depression and anxiety disorders, including stress-related psychiatric issues, are set to become just as prevalent as cardiovascular diseases.

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.

‘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

Leading: the conductor as an archetype

Leaders come in every shape, size and flavour, but one of the most common leadership archetypes is the conductor of an ensemble or orchestra. Just as there any many types of leaders, there is also a wide variety of conductors, each of whom fulfils their role differently.

About Wigs and Pigs – And how to survive the Whirlwind – Part 1

So many great ideas, so little time... what do you do, as a leader, when there’s a multitude of inspiring ideas flying around but you simply don’t have the resources to make them all happen? When everything seems equally urgent in the whirlwind of everyday working life, where do you focus your energies? You need to be able to see the wood for the trees.