Meet Michael


Michael NicholasHi, I'm Michael Nicholas, a coach, corporate trainer and professional speaker, and the author of two books, Being The Effective Leader and The Effective Leadership Guide.

I work with leaders and teams from organisations ranging from medium size, entrepreneurial businesses up to leading FTSE companies, specialising in helping them to improve their business performance and release more of every individual’s potential. In addition, I have trained several hundred people globally to become effective coaches and occasionally provide one-on-one help for wealthy, private clients.

I didn't start out as a coach. I first gained extensive and varied leadership and business experience, including as an officer in the military and many years at senior levels in business. I'm also a Chartered Electrical Engineer and Member of the Institute of Engineering and Technology.


A Unique Proposition

As you can read in detail below, I have some pretty unique experience, making me the only leadership coach working in the UK today with my combination of front-line military expertise and 20+ years of demonstrable, extensive, relevant professional experience.

My considerable understanding of success principles is backed up by simple and practical tools and techniques that can easily be put into practice to deliver business improvement through leadership.

How did I get into Coaching?

In the mid-1990s I was instrumental in conceiving and launching a company-wide coaching initiative at Deloitte Consulting. My first hands-on experience was on a 4-day training course, where I had the great fortune of being trained in a small group by one of the founders of the coaching industry, Sir John Whitmore. It affected me at a deep level and I was immediately hooked on developing my skills in this style of working: my passion for coaching was born.

As my career progressed I became increasingly involved in and absorbed by leadership coaching. I attended both business-sponsored and voluntary training courses, devoured many books and CD programmes, and applied the lessons I learnt to my day-to-day tasks and interactions with my team and colleagues.

Ultimately, my interest in and passion for helping others to perform at a higher level led to the founding of my leadership coaching and training business, Optimal Track, in 2004.

Approach and Philosophy

My work is built around one central philosophy: that everybody has far more potential than they have demonstrated to date.

If you are reading this the chances are that you own your own business, are the leader of a team in a larger business, or recognise the vital role of leadership skills in achieving rapid advancement. I specialise in, and am committed to, helping people just like you to achieve greater success and to rapidly improve their results.

My approach works – and my clients are a testament to this fact, as you can see from my testimonials.

All my programmes are completely customised around the needs of my clients. By working at the level of the root causes of human behaviour, consistent and sustainable results are achieved.

My approach:

  • Shows people how overcome the so called “knowing-doing gap” – the easily observable behaviour trait whereby people frequently do not do things they know they could do, that they recognise would benefit them, and which they already know how to do. This is probably the most critically overlooked area of personal development and is certainly one of the least well understood.
  • Recognises the individuality of every person and situation and is tailored accordingly. I never assume that I already know what you need.
  • Is focused directly on delivering practical outcomes that your business can implement quickly and to maximum benefit.
  • Involves seeking regular feedback to ensure that your expectations are always met or exceeded. I do this by delivering commercial value and doing all that I can to support you in reaching your agreed goals.
  • Avoids creating dependency. I am committed to enabling your growth in such a way that you can continue to use everything that you have learned at any time and without ongoing support.
  • Adheres to the strict code of practice developed by the International Coaching Federation that is presented in the ethical statement below.

I believe strongly that it is vital for all leaders to behave with authenticity and integrity – walking their talk. Therefore, I also adopt this philosophy in my own life.

To stay at the very top of my game I continually work on developing myself, knowing that success comes at a price and always starts with personal development. I am committed to continually stretching my own boundaries and it is rare that a day goes by when I don't engage in some form of study or personal growth.

Leadership Experience throughout my Career…

After graduating from Durham University in 1985 I completed a 7-year short-service commission as an officer in the Royal Air Force (RAF). This led to my immersion in many challenging leadership situations. From the outset, my first role entailed responsibility for 35 people, ranging from a 16½ year old girl on the Youth Opportunities Programme to my Warrant Officer who had been in the RAF for 10 years longer than I'd been on the planet at that time!

As a result of this exposure, I quickly realised the importance of flexibility of style in leadership.

In 1990, I was one of the first 5 people from the UK (Special Forces aside) to experience live action at the start of the 1st Gulf War. Selected as the communications representative in the advance reconnaissance party, I was responsible for ensuring that once British squadrons did arrive in Dhahran a little later, it would be possible to communicate with them from the UK. My detachment numbered 50 RAF and Army personnel throughout the early months of the conflict.

…And a Firm Grounding in Business

Progressing rapidly after leaving the military, within a few years I was promoted to be a Director in the strategy practice at Deloitte Consulting. While there I was engaged in projects as diverse as:

  • Leading the multi-national, multi-functional team that ran, on behalf of the Austrian Government, the award process for the 2nd GSM mobile network operating licence in Austria.
  • Developing a mobile data strategy for Cellnet (now O2).
  • Advising the Board of a major global investment bank on telecoms portfolio strategy.
  • A strategic review for the International Petroleum Exchange (a futures and options exchange) on whether it should convert from open outcry to electronic trading and whether they should demutualise.
  • Acquisition due diligence work.
  • Leading the development of a new global competency framework for Deloitte Consulting’s strategy practice.

I later moved to Nortel, at that time the 2nd largest company in the world by market capitalisation. Initially this was as the Director of its professional services division in Europe, and subsequently in two other director level positions incorporating strategy, sales and marketing.

My final role before founding Optimal Track Ltd was at Energis as one of the leaders of the business and head of a large sales team.


Latest Blog Entries

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When Michael speaks, people listen. He has a strong and unique ability of holding people’s attention and gave our students new distinctions and life skills. I highly recommend Michael Nicholas, because he is a committed and extraordinary man.

Nicky Pool

Former UK Ambassador and Lead Councillor

The Anthony Robbins Foundation

Every so often something or someone comes along which challenges your thinking and makes you approach life in a different way. Michael is one of those people. His thoughts, ideas, stories, experience, and especially his use of powerful questions, gave me more than I ever expected and improved my performance more than I could have imagined.

Martin Jones

Head of Region, South London & Southern Counties

Marks and Spencer

Michael will challenge your thinking, stretch your sense of possibility, help you to lead yourself through your own pain barriers and enable you to be a better you…

Sue Round

Head of Learning and Development

Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd

Michael is an excellent platform speaker, teacher, and mentor. He has the ability to bring complex ideas across to his audience with coherence, pragmatism and immediate application. I strongly recommend him for developing and delivering instructional programs, executive coaching and professional speaking.

Alexandria Hilton


EUROUS Global Executive Development