Tag Archives: occupational psychology

Happiness, Laughter Yoga and Wake up London, Heart of London Sangha

To begin thank you again to all the people, who give me encouragement and inspiration to write this blog.  Sometimes I think I am lucky, I get to choose how I spend my time and where I put my energy.  Last week I was asked to volunteer at the Museum of Happiness, second event on ‘Exploring Happiness: An Afternoon of Talks, Workshops and More!’.  I  have been to quite a few workshops in my time.  One of my values is learning, so I can overdo it and go to lots of events.  These days I try to go to less events and try to do more by writing, and sharing my work with others instead.  So I debated going to this event on a Saturday.  I was asked by my friend Shamash one of the co-founder’s and author of 7 books, including the latest one  The Mindful Way through Stress .

10714399_10152725248900983_8866355716824582720_o I decided to go and I was surprised that about 60 people turned up, motivated and really wanting to be there.  I got to work with all the volunteers who were interesting and compassionate people, I was thankful to be part of the team.  I listened to the two main talks from TEDx speakers.  The first one was Susanna Halonen ‘Screw Finding Your Passion: Unlock It & Find Happiness at Work’.

She calls herself a happyologist, in the introduction of her book she says:

“ stop chasing your passion.  Instead look inwards and you will see that passion is right there, within you…you’ll notice that people have been engrained with the message that they must find their one and only passion.”  

She goes on to share the five keys that unlock the passionate way of being:

  1. Be the Authentic You
  2. Understand Your Why
  3. Master the Art of Learning
  4. Connect with Your Tribe
  5. Play with Your Strengths

These are the key points for being authentic-

  1. Identify what your values are, what is important to you and why.  Awareness and fully embracing your values is the first step to unlocking your passion. If you want to do this you can take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths.
  2. Have the courage to carry your values in your everyday life.
  3. Acknowledge that being the authentic you at work is what helps you to be your best performing, most passionate you.

If you want to explore this area further this is another interesting resource by Neil Crofts to help you explore What is my purpose?

The second TEDx speaker was Marisa Peer ‘The Happiness Code: Three secrets to make your brain work for you’ with internationally acclaimed  therapist, multiple bestselling author.  From her experience she shares a fundamental rule that all our emotional and personal problems come from us believing that we’re not ‘enough’ and she explains how to overcome it.  She teaches people to say ‘I am enough’ and get’s people to write this on their mirrors and put on their fridge doors.  She shares the stories where this has worked.  To find out more you can watch her TEDx talk-

I got to also meet Esteban there a friend of a friend Ben Rodrigas, who I met at the Wisdom2.0 conference in 2014.  Here I am with some face painting by Livi Lollipop with the wise Esteban.


Later in the week I was going to be running a post-lunch energiser with Julie Whitehead on

Laughter Yoga.  Last year I trained for two days to teach laughter yoga so I suggested it to TMSDI to have this as part of their yearly networking day.  They said yes, so we delivered a surprise Laughter Yoga session to the delegates.  Julie began by asking whether people have enough laughter in their life?  The room was silent and the answer was no.  So they were ready to give it a go.  We shared a little bit about laughter:

LAUGHTER – ho ho ha ha ha
Laughter releases endorphins, giving us the ‘feel good factor’, acts as aerobic exercise providing internal jogging, unleashes inhibitions, encourages better communication.  Great team building tool for colleagues. Helps boost our immune system which fights disease.  Tones muscles, improves respiration and circulation.  Encourages positive thinking and creativity.  Relaxes the whole body by reducing stress and tension. laughter yoga at TMSDI

We practiced quite a few laughter yoga exercises to encourage childlike playfulness, helping us all to let go and connect with the present moment.  There were 40 of us laughing together, there is something about the group energy that makes the laughter experience together even more special than when we laugh alone or with one other person.  We had an extra nice group, ready to give it a go and participate, it was a pleasure to be able to do this, so thank you to the wonderful Julie for saying yes and giving it a go to run the session with me.

This is a poem Julie shared at the end of our session:


“Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu.When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too. I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin. When he smiled I realised I’d passed it on to him. I thought about that smile, then I realised it’s worth. A single smile just like mine, could travel round the earth. So, if you feel a smile begin don’t leave it undetected Let’s start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!”

Also at the TMSDI network event was Dr Charles Margerison one of the founders of the Team Management Profile.  I have been accredited to use this team psychometric since 2006 and it is always great when you get to meet the creator.  I think his major role from the profile is a ‘creator-innovator’, the same as me.  His presentation was deep and thoughtful around the concept of existentialism and how we use our time.  He shared stories of people that had been successful, bringing to light ‘perception’, people that noticed something of more value than was already there.  For example, Heinz tomato ketchup was made from all the left over tomatoes that were going to be thrown away, Heinz found a different more valuable use for them.

Charles is an advocate of action learning.  He used to think you had to learn to act.  Professor Reginald Revans the originator of action learning said to him “why don’t you take some action and you will learn something.”  Most of the learning we acquire is from our experiences.  What new experiences can you have today, tomorrow, next week?  He ended his talk with saying:  “think about the right thing to do“, sometimes the right thing is not appreciated straight away or even during your lifetime.  He encouraged us all to be a little more daring and take some risks.  He is a unique character and really got into the laughter yoga exercises! maxresdefault

To close the day, I had been invited by Esteban to an evening talk in Covent Garden close by to where I was in Leicester Square.  I went to ‘ A Wake Up and Heart of London Sangha event for Mindful Entrepreneurs: Practising Together’.  This was facilitated by the two leads of the two groups Carol Wilkins and Joe Holtaway.  They both follow the teachings of Thich Nhat Han, a favourite teacher of mine. He encourages people to practice mindfulness meditation together through a sangha:

“In practicing together as a Sangha, as a community, our practice of mindfulness becomes more joyful, relaxed and steady. We are bells of mindfulness for each other, supporting and reminding each other along the path of practice. With the support of the community, we can practice to cultivate peace and joy within and around us, as a gift for all of those whom we love and care for. We can cultivate our solidity and freedom – solid in our deepest aspiration and free from our fears, misunderstandings and our suffering.”

I enjoyed the meditation together and it was interesting to hear about how people are running their business with mindfulness and some of the difficulties they are having and how as a group we could encourage and support each other.  This was the first meeting they had together, with a wish to continue.

Enjoy your weekend and leave any comments you have on my blog if you would like to.

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Glow at Work was delighted to host a masterclass on Political Astuteness in leadership with Professor Clive Fletcher of Occupational Psychology at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, where he still holds the title of Emeritus Professor after leaving to work in in private practice.   Clive is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist and one of the relatively few psychologists to be elected to Fellowship of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and Fellowship of The Royal Society of Medicine. He is formerly chair of the occupational psychology section of the BPS. Clive has published extensively on psychological assessment in work settings. He is author of a standard text on Performance Appraisal and on Psychological Testing.

The aim of the masterclass was to give participants an understanding on how thinking of political astuteness in organisational leadership has developed over recent years.  Clive spoke about the need for political astuteness in leadership development-

Greater priority needs to be given to developing leaders with the capacity to manage the political dimension. They need an ability to see and communicate the big picture, make connections, be credible with different groups and broker relevant political and strategic relationships.”  (Charlesworth et al, 2003)

Are politicians born geniuses or are they just trained to be leaders? This question remains a source of debate, although the dominant school of thought would support the latter. Political Astuteness provides evidence for this view.  Moreover, Political Astuteness actually provides leaders in organisations with the skills that they need, as well as helping them to improve those skills in their daily leadership. However, what are the qualities that a fine leader truly needs?

The Framework for Political Astuteness

Political Astuteness highlights five different skills that a good leader should possess:

  1. Personal Skills. This relates to self-awareness of one’s own motives and behaviours and the ability to exercise self-control. It also pertains to being open to others’ opinions and being proactive, initiating action as opposed to waiting for things to happen.
  2. Interpersonal Skills. These are often ‘soft’ skills, as they denote the ability of the leader to negotiate, cope with pressure from others and handle conflict in a manner that is likely to achieve the most productive outcome. These skills also signify a capability to influence the thinking and behaviour of others through getting others’ buy-in and making them feel valued.
  3. Reading People and Situations. This requires leaders to have strong analytical skills and the ability to recognise the wider dynamics, interests, processes, systems and agendas of people and their organisations.
  4. Building Alignment and Alliances. This denotes the ability to recognise and work with difference and conflicts of interest in order to forge new opportunities as well as collaborative action. It is distinct from consensus-building as it relates more to integrating differences as opposed to minimising them.
  5. Strategic Direction and Scanning. The two major components that make up this skill are, firstly, having a long-term vision for the organisation and, secondly, foreseeing the longer-term issues which could potentially have an impact on the organisation. In essence, this skill relates to long-term strategic aims and threats. In other words, it is a specific domain of leadership – Leading with Vision.


The Political Astuteness in Leadership Questionnaire is designed to be a development questionnaire enabling an individual to rate their Political Astuteness through self-assessment. It is not only a tool used by individuals and leaders to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in a leadership and management context, but also serves as a guide on how to perform as effective leaders in political situations in organisations. Exercising these skills in real life is essential, as the way to develop and improve leadership skills is through modelling, shadowing, and mentoring. It is completely experience-oriented.

In sum, Political Astuteness requires several qualities as a leader: knowing yourself as well as others, having a clear vision of a long-term plan, paying attention to details to recognise the dynamic around you, and leading the team with purpose and determination. It does not seek to separate different types of leadership, but integrate these differences so as to develop an outstanding, well-rounded leader.

Furthermore, Political Astuteness also indicates four domains of strength a leader should have: Leading to Deliver, Leading through People, Leading with Drive, and  Leading with Vision.

Four Domains of Leadership

The idea of the four domains derives from Lumina Leader, a psychometric developed by Lumina Learning, in which we can clearly see the four leadership domains in Political Astuteness:

  1. Leading to Deliver. A leader must know how to remain calm under pressure. They need to be self-aware, pay close attention to the data and evidence, and follow through on a detailed plan.
  2. Leading through People. This is an interpersonal skill that denotes building rapport with people at different levels of an organisation, and empowering them with integrity and trust so as to achieve a win-win situation.
  3. Leading with Drive. This relates to providing members of the organisation with clear direction and leading with energy and determination. It also signifies a desire to lead them to ever higher levels of excellence.
  4. Leading with Vision. The willingness to gain a wider knowledge of institutions, political processes and social systems, as well as inspiring and leading others through vision and long-term strategic thinking.

Leadership is never an easy concept to explain and the skills and competencies it requires are never simply tasks to achieve. Continually striving to develop and improve qualities in different domains is vital. This is the case not merely at a personal level in terms of the benefits of greater individual self-awareness, but also given that it can lead to dramatically improved productivity and efficiency across the organisation as a whole. In essence, through transforming leaders, one can transform organisations.

Feedback on the masterclass from some attendees:

–  “thank you once more for a wonderful event. Topical subject of growing importance with a growing Occupational and Organisational Psychology evidence base, great speaker and facilitator, and great hosting and organisation.” David Beech

– “thanks for arranging an awesome evening this Thursday.” Michael Webster

The next Glow at Work masterclass is with Professor Rob Briner on ‘Developing Evidence Based Skills’, on the 21st November from 6-9pm at the Queens Club, London.  To book your place go to http://www.meetup.com/Glow-at-Work-Masterclasses/events/115742012/

Lulu Tang  – Intern at Lumina Learning LuluTang@luminalearning.com



Charlesworth, K., Cook, P. & Crozier, G. (2003) Leading change in the Public Sector: Making the difference. London: CMI. Advisory Panel chaired by Sir Michael Bichard.

Hartley, J., and Fletcher, C. (2008). Leading with Political Awareness: Leadership across diverse interests inside and outside the organization. In Leadership Perspectives: Knowledge into Action Eds. K T James & J Collins. London: Palgrave

Hartley, J., Fletcher, C., Wilton, P., Woodman, P., & Ungemach, C. (2007) Leading with Political Awareness: Developing Leaders Skills to Manage the Political Dimension Across All Sectors. Chartered Management Institute: London


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Glow at Work Masterclass – Sustaining Engagement at Work on 20th JUNE 2013 with Emma Donaldson-Feilder

Being an occupational psychology (OP) Master’s student, Harpal’s Masterclasses were among the highlights of this year. I really enjoyed the different topics the masterclasses offered and the fact that these topics were delivered by experts.  I also managed to network at the masterclasses with some fantastic people from the field and beyond.

Once again, inspiring Harpal has organised a fantastic masterclass, which was delivered by Emma Donaldson-Feilder, a renowned researcher and practitioner Occupational Psychologist who specialises in wellbeing and health at work, she is also a director of Affinity Health at Work and a coaching psychologist (I have been secretly looking forward to meeting Emma for months, at last it happened!).

Emma’s masterclass was about sustaining employee engagement at work. She started by generating discussions about what engagement meant to us, which resulted in plenty of suggestions, Emma then gave us her comprehensive definition, which congregated almost all the suggestions! Emma suggested that employee engagement has three components: thinking, feeling, and acting. Thinking referred to employees focusing on what they do, feeling referred to employees feeling good about themself in their role and the organisation, and acting referred to employees acting in a way that shows commitment to the organisational values and objectives.

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Emma then went on to give us some remarkable findings from her research on sustainable engagement, while keeping the session very interactive.  First of them was that engagement alone was not enough! Engagement teamed with wellbeing resulted in sustainable employee engagement and productivity. The second finding was the important role of managers in employee wellbeing and engagement. To illustrate this point, Emma sparked discussions about examples of managers from our work experiences and how effective they were in the three dimension of engagement, And whether those behaviours helped with stress levels too. We then learned that 5 Manager competencies were vital for sustaining employee engagement;

(a) fairness and consistency,

(b) conflict and problem handling,

(c) knowledge, clarity and guidance,

(d) building and sustaining relationships,

(e) supporting development.

These findings have implications for managers, employers, and public policy.  Managers need to identify which of those behaviours they already have and which they need to develop. Employers need to support managers to develop those competencies through for example, learning and development with upward feedback.  Implications for public policy included the promotion of sustainable engagement by the ‘Engage for success’ movement, and the possibility of bringing sustainable engagement into skills policy and management training. She also gave us a glimpse of exciting future research affinity at work had planned on the subject starting in September this year.

Emma’s sustainable engagement masterclass was refreshing! I recently attended three employee engagement workshops by three different international OP consultancies, all of them said that they advise their clients to sustain engagement through conducting engagement surveys once every 12 months. It is obvious that sustaining engagement through developing manager competencies is at least more cost effective, than costly and time consuming engagement surveys once a year!

Thank you Emma and Harpal for a lovely thought provoking evening!






Siham Bentaleb


More information:


Preventing Stress in Organizations:  How to Develop Positive Managers-


Engage for Success –


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I recently learned about Glow at Work through LinkedIn. I contacted the chief executive, Harpal and was kindly invited to the Glow at Work masterclass given by Neal Gething on “Cultivating Personal Wellbeing and Resilience.” During the masterclass, Neal informed us that he wasn’t going to be talking about wellbeing; however, we spent a fascinating two hours learning about resilience.

As an aspiring Occupational Psychologist I had read briefly about resilience, but I hadn’t researched it in detail nor had I had any academic teaching on it.  Neal was a great speaker; he was engaging, informative and welcomed questions or comments. My favourite definition of resilience that Neal gave was that it is the ability to bounce or spring back into position. In particular, Neal highlighted the fact that it wasn’t just springing back but springing back into position.

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One of the particularly enjoyable parts of the masterclass was the practical exercise that we all did. We were asked to describe on paper, a challenging interaction, which could be in the past or present. Neal emphasised that resilience takes place in the context of a relationship but this can be a relationship with anything, e.g. your body. Neal then guided us through a series of questions about the interaction, culminating in us finding an alternative ego-state or way of thinking. Most people seemed to benefit from doing the exercise, even if the outcome in the past wasn’t the desired one or if the situation was currently ongoing and therefore not resolved. I found this exercise encouraging and the general consensus seemed to be that the exercise was helpful. It appeared it was beneficial to be able to put the particular situation onto paper.

The masterclasses take place in The Queen’s Club, which is picturesque and a lovely setting. The atmosphere was very welcoming and friendly. It was really easy to network and I look forward to attending another one.


I think if I was only able to remember one thing from the masterclass it would be to remember that resilience is choosing who you want to be in a situation, and that if you don’t choose who you want to be in a situation then the unconscious will choose for you. I found this idea of choosing who I wanted to be in a situation rather empowering, so I left feeling both enlightened and empowered. Perhaps it was this feeling that made me decide to go for a beverage with Harpal and some others after the masterclass….

Thank you Harpal and Neal for such a great first masterclass.  The next masterclass is with Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic on ‘Identifying & Developing Entrepreneurial Potential at Work on the 23rd May 6-9pm  http://www.meetup.com/Glow-at-Work-Masterclasses/events/115740162/

Kate Godfree



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Glow at Work Masterclass- Mindfulness at Work- Gary Born – 21st March 2013

Gary Born’s ‘Mindfulness in the Workplace’ session was truly fantastic for three reasons. Firstly, the session did not involve bells, bare feet, sitting on the floor, or unknown and unexplained words (really make us feel like outsiders). While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the above, it’s exactly these more ‘exotic’ elements of mindfulness and meditation that can be off-putting or alienating for some of us. Indeed – as a woman from the workplace, being asked to sit cross-legged while wearing stockings and a skirt can create immediate embarrassment and awkwardness! Gary’s practical approach reminded us all that practising mindfulness can actually be integrated into our daily lives very naturally.
Secondly, the session involved several actual practices of mindfulness exercises. I felt more calm, present and centred after these. In fact – the real point of this focus on the breath hit me. Why the breath? Why are meditation and mindfulness exercises always talking about ‘the breath’? Well – the way I understand it is that that the breath is always there. The fact that it is always there is rather calming. It’s a constant presence in every minute of our lives. In fact, taking this a little further – we are always here. Odd as that sounds (!) – how often are we so involved in the emails on our screens, the PowerPoint slide we are battling with, and the voices of others all around us, that we forget that we are here, too? We are often ignored, avoided or simply de-prioritised in the busyness of life and work. Mindfulness, as I understand it, is about remembering that we are here, and that being aware of ourselves is valuable. In this way, we can develop greater self-awareness – a benefit to ourselves and others.

Thirdly, Gary showed us how mindfulness has really reached the consciousness of the western world in the last decade or so. Since the start of this century, research into mindfulness has increased exponentially, mindfulness-based therapies are now available on the NHS, and mainstream media have featured it frequently. Far from being something remote and exotic, mindfulness is becoming much more common, understood, and valued. This brings to mind two big messages for me. Firstly – how wonderful that mindfulness is now more commonly understood and accepted, with all that it can offer individuals and workplaces. Secondly – what other ideas, philosophies and approaches are we currently aware of but hiding for fear that they are ‘remote and exotic’? What value could those ideas bring to individuals and the workplace? In another decade, the world will have moved forward either way. We can take heart from the story of mindfulness; there are many valuable ideas yet to be brought to light. We just need the courage and awareness of them to do so. Mindfulness seems like a good place to start…


Thank you to Gary and Harpal for a fantastic session!

Lisa Pobereskin – lisa_pobereskin@hotmail.com

Lisa Pobereskin

Organisational Psychology MSc student at City University, Intern at Thompson Dunn, Business Psychology Consultancy

References & Further reading from the masterclass:

• Organisations that offer Mindfulness Training:

  • Oxford Mindfulness Centre – http://oxfordmindfulness.org
  • Mindfulness Works- http://www.mindfulness-works.com
  • Mindfulnet- http://www.mindfulnet.org
  • Workplace Prosperity- http://workplaceprosperity.com
  • The Mental Health Foundation- http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/podcasts/ – http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/training/be-mindful-online-mindfulness-course/ – http://bemindful.co.uk

• Books, articles and videos

  • Michael Chaskalson, The Mindful Workplace: Developing Resilient Individuals and Resonant Organizations with MBSR
  • Mark Williams and Danny Penman , Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World
  • Chade-Meng Tan, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever you go, there you are
  • “Mindfulness,  Meditation,  Wellness  and  Their  Connection  to  Corporate   America’s  Bottom  Line”,  Huffington  Post,    18th  March  2013
  • Wisdom 2.0 (2012 videos): http://www.wisdom2summit.com/Videos
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