I was watching my son’s rugby game on the weekend. They took a hammering. And I reckon I know what happened.

First, there were the ‘set pieces’. That’s where the game pauses for a bit, usually due to a penalty being given, or a try being scored. The team with the ball takes a moment, gathers its wits, and makes a well rehearsed move that they’ve practiced in training. Both teams were evenly matched when it came to their set pieces.

On the other hand, the team that won owned the moments between the set pieces. The plays that weren’t rehearsed or planned. Those moments were raw talent, initiative and boldness combined. They were the moments that the team become an unstoppable force. That’s what won them the game. They completely owned the moments between.

You might experience the same elements in your leadership context. Here’s the set piece: the senior management team does its weekly stand-up for all staff. Slide decks prepared. Presentations rehearsed. Question replies scripted. All schmick and shiny.


We need a more real approach. And real leadership lives in the moments between.

Here’s what that looks like.

I was working with a senior management team at a leading tech company last week. They’re facing some big changes and they, rightly, felt the need to engage with their staff in conversations about what’s happening and what’s ahead. A couple of them started to talk about organising a stand-up, and began to script what they’d say, in what order, and what visuals they’d use. Uh-oh.

Eventually one member stood up and wrote on the board: #nodecks.


This move ignited a passionate conversation about the importance of simply sitting down with people and exploring the issues together, human to human. Get rid of the slides. The scripts. The set pieces. #nodecks.

For sure, set pieces have their place. Sometimes we need to know exactly what to say, and how we’ll say it. But those moments are becoming less and less in demand.

We’re all yearning for more authenticity, belonging and connection. We want more high quality touch-points on the fly. It’s time to dial down relying on the set piece, and dial up stepping into and owning the moments between.

Here are three things you can do now to own the moments between:

1. Make yourself available.

You can’t own the moments between when you’re busy scripting your next move. Like being in a ball game, you’ve gotta be where the action is. Or at least move to where it’s going.

2. Shut up and ask.

People want to be heard. So meet ‘em where they’re at. Ask what’s on their mind. Find out what’s happening in their world, what’s driving them, what’s exciting them. See what can you learn before you tell them what you think they need to know.

3. Share your humanity.

We want human to human interactions. Enough with the Slack channels, the sound bites and the packaged messages. Share a bit of you. Let us know what you’re struggling with, what’s hard, what you’re hoping for and what you’re wondering. Come down from the stage. We want your humanity.

Armed with those tips, go own a moment or two.

Here are two more posts you might like along this theme:

This is Hard

Stepping Into Complexity



Like this post? When you’re ready, here are three ways I can help you further:

  • Sign up to my ‘Thinking from the Edge’ newsletter to get tips, insights and early release information that I don’t share on the usual social channels. Delivered fortnightly to your inbox.
  • Get my new book, Change Makers: How to make your mark with more impact and less drama. It’s available now.
  • Come along to one of my Change Makers breakfast sessions to learn more about how this game-changing programme can amplify you and your people’s change making ability.