Posted in: Interviews

Leading the leaders

Mark sits down with Ian Kinnery to discuss aligning their brand with their high quality business coaching and the importance of an intuitive and personal name.

26th February 2020

Mark Easby

Mark Easby

Mark Easby

Written by Mark Easby,
Managing Director

Kinnery deliver results focused business coaching for the humble and the brave, with a focus on growing the business by growing the business leader.

The organisation is led by Gazelles International Coach and former European Coach of the Year, Ian Kinnery, who has over 35 years’ experience of leading successful businesses. He talked to Mark about the evolution of the Kinnery identity and the relationship between brand and commercial growth.

Ian Kinnery from Kinnery

Ian Kinnery from Kinnery

Tell me a little bit about what Kinnery do?

We are all about transformation. Personal, team, leadership and business transformation.

We follow a scale up methodology as we believe all businesses are capable of growth, but often that growth stalls or fails because the business isn’t capable of leveraging its senior leadership team. These teams are often unclear about where they’re going and how to get there, and because they lack the systems, disciplines and structures, frustration and dysfunction sets in.

Who do you work for?

Business owners and business leaders.

They are invariably entrepreneurs, business people who have made a start. They can therefore be any age and any gender. They all do seem to share one thing in common which is a growth mindset. In other words they are all driven and have an intention and commitment to grow, or the seeds of a growth mindset.

Many clients are referred to us by an existing or previous client. Often they have a pain that needs solving, some are not even aware of that pain. They might be stuck in their business not knowing where to go next, they may have an organisational structure where the buck stops with them with no team or colleague to discuss those issues and opportunities with.

Often, it can be a lonely place at the top.

What’s the Kinnery WHY?

We help leaders flourish.

‘Helping leaders’ represents our process; whether that’s delivering proven business advice and systems, or guidance on a more personal level to help reignite the entrepreneurial spark, deal with professional relationships and manage stress and time.

‘Flourish’ is what sets us apart. We understand the pressures of leading a business can leave you in a lonely and sometimes vulnerable place. But we aren’t just satisfied with helping leaders survive these challenges; we want them to overcome, flourish and ultimately enjoy leading their business and their lives.

Mark chats to Ian Kinnery

Mark chats to Ian Kinnery

What are Kinnery famous for?

The world of business coaching can often be viewed as a murky landscape. It’s filled with buzzwords, bullshit and a real lack of serious business background. I deliver real results and real insight, all informed by real world experience.

It’s critical to the process that I have been there…owning, running and growing businesses of all sizes. Using my extensive real world business experience coupled with my high level coaching accreditations allows me to offer effective expert guidance with a truly empathic approach.

Fusing this expertise and empathy allows me to promote behavioural change in leaders that allow businesses to prosper. I am able to assimilate the challenges of any scale of business. I can join the dots to translate solutions for my clients’ unique situation, helping them and their business reach their full potential.

I don’t know another coach who has run significant businesses, owned significant businesses, scaled significant businesses, been there and has the failures and successes to prove it. Who has led teams, marketed, competed and come out on top. Who is as experienced, widely read AND able to coach people to successfully change.

I have no contract with the clients I am working with so I have got to deliver value. When I look at our client retention information I’m looking at relationships that span four, five and often six years. I am very proud of that. I believe that the average coaching engagement for most coaches is about three months, and sometimes less.

For me this is a real affirmation and I believe this proves that we do things differently and effectively.

How has the Kinnery brand evolved?

Recently we’ve been through a transformational brand evolution with Better.

Up until late last year we operated under the ‘Team Massive Results’ brand. We had a growing feeling that the brand didn’t reflect us, how we do things, the way we work and our expertise. We talk to clients all the time about being brave, embracing change and personal learning.

The branding process took us on a journey to define our character, beliefs and most importantly our ‘why’ which in turn helped to redefine our story.

Taking the decision to invest in the brand process was, in a way, us taking our own medicine. The process itself was very good, it actually felt fundamentally like a coaching process itself. We were challenged to hold a mirror up, be honest about our business, the marketplace we’re in, our values and beliefs.

We know there’s lots of different opinions on business coaching and there’s certain perceptions about our industry. Sometimes it feels like there’s a ‘coach’ popping up on every corner. It’s critical that we can articulate why we’re different and feel authentic and unique.

John was really challenging and at some points quite blunt with us, but we appreciated that. That is a real asset to your process. Your ability to see things we hadn’t and articulate our proposition was incredibly valuable. Importantly is was a process of validation for us to a degree.

New Kinnery logo
This wasn’t just a new logo for us. The brand team, based on all the discussions, insight and research, recommended a name change.

Kinnery was the right choice, the day the team presented it was a watershed moment. This became the cornerstone of the new brand and helped inspire a new identity and visual brand.

The suggestion to rebrand under the ‘Kinnery’ name was a brave one. For me personally the name had lots of connotations from past businesses and personal experiences, not all positive. After some personal consideration and some initial doubts I recognised the business needed a more intuitive and personal name.

There’s an old saying I live by. “What’s gets you here won’t get your there”…it’s all about evolving and learning. The ‘Team Massive’ brand was of its time and served us well. The new Kinnery brand however is more personal, solid, self assured and more sophisticated which, for the first time, really reflects who we are.

You share lots of knowledge through your blog and host free events to help business leaders, why is this so important to you?

The blog has been going weekly for over seven years now and I’ve never missed one. The seminars are the same. It started as lead generation but actually it goes much deeper than that.

The seminars and events work on a couple of levels.

Firstly it’s about helping other people learn. Anyone who reads my articles on the blog should get something out of it. The same for the seminars. Lots of people come along that maybe can’t afford our services or don’t intend to become a client, but all go away with four or five things that can help them or their business grow.

Of course some are potential clients coming along to see if I can add value to their business their team and their life. It gives them the opportunity to sample how I work and see how I can support them.

There’s no substitute for putting things out there. New ideas and fresh content.

Secondly, it helps me test ideas.

It helps me constantly remain fresh and it is always interesting to see how the audience reacts. It’s like a top flight comedian doing the comedy clubs. Road testing materials and testing the response. It’s important to know what’s working and what’s bullshit. Leaders are a discerning lot. They will soon let you know.

I suppose it often helps change someone’s perception of ‘business coaching’ if they’ve had a negative experience, or gives them a taster if they don’t know what to expect.

We’ve revisited our ‘marketing’ approach a number of times but keep coming back to it. It works for us. The blog also shows our ‘back catalogue’ as such. We’ve been around for long time, it shows we’re committed long term to helping business leaders and showcases our depth of expertise.

How is your brand and marketing activity linked to commercial growth?

It’s difficult to look at commercial ROI on the brand project however it’s fair to say we rarely have enquiries just drop in but we’ve had three or four in the last couple of months since the rebrand. We’re certainly as busy now as we’ve ever been and the increased maturity of the brand is more appropriate to the level of work we’re attracting.

We’ve had universal positive feedback about the new brand. It’s much more relevant, everything is now aligned and all joined up.

Kinnery newspaper advert

Kinnery newspaper advert

What does the future hold for you and Kinnery?

One thing that the brand process has made overt is that Kinnery is about me. I mean this in the sense of when people buy ‘Kinnery’ they buy me, my expertise, my experience and my delivery.

Back in the day when we were Team Massive Results we had a team of coaches but being honest they were not as effective as I am. Kinnery is much more personal and each client get the same calibre of coaching.

The game plan is to continue to focus on quality rather than quantity. We want to work with scaling and high growth business. We would much rather affect small number of people more deeply rather than larger numbers of people at a superficial level. The impact increases and the ripples stretch further.

In addition to your role at Kinnery you are involved with other organisations such as the Entrepreneurs Forum and Daisy Chain. Why do you feel organisations like this are important to you?

The Entrepreneurs’ Forum Scale Up Academy was an initiative we launched three years ago to help ambitious business owners to prepare for sustainable high-growth. I’m very passionate about helping business leaders so it’s a chance to empower and enable business leaders to scale sustainably with the support of peers and a clear strategic plan. The events we run, the coaching methods, our peer-to-peer mentoring support and action-led workshops mean it’s also very much aligned with our values and approach to coaching. And it works, very well.

In regard to our charitable work with Daisy Chain, we first got involved in 2005. With so many charities and great causes out there we took the decision as a business to choose one to support. It wasn’t about writing a cheque, it was about committing pro bono support and expertise to help them as a charity and as a business. We felt this was the best type of support we can offer and means we’re adding long term value that goes a lot further than a financial donation. Interestingly Daisy Chain became the fastest growing charity in the region. It has the first charity superstore, and is now financially stable and sustainable. Since we started working with them I’ve been asked to become a trustee and now chair, which is both challenging and rewarding. In almost all respects Daisy Chain is a scale up and it’s important to me on a number of levels. As a board of trustees we’re helping the charity to grow and transform, we’re future proofing and helping support its significant ambitions. I’m proud to be part of the success story.

What is the best thing about your job?

I’ve said this from the outset. I only work with good people who want to get better.

I get to see clients grow as people. They become more confident, stronger, more settled and ultimately happier. It can have far reaching implications in all areas of their life.

Genuinely, when I see how far the ripples go it’s priceless and it’s by far the best part of the job.

And finally, what are you most proud of and why?

Hearing stories of business success is rewarding but watching individual success makes me really proud.

Another quote that’s very close to my heart is: “Coaching is not about breeding dependence, it’s about developing independence.”

When a client becomes truly independent, it’s job done. That’s what makes me proud.

You can read more of Mark’s chats with business leaders from across our region, discussing their organisations, the importance of brand and more. Features include SPURR’s Jonathan Lamb, Active’s Karl Pemberton and Ben Murphy from NECS.

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