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Riots and Rapport

Mayday, Oxford Circus London | 2001

Riots and Rapport

Mayday Protests, Oxford Circus | 2001

It’s May day 2001 and the march has reached it’s end point. To avoid the violence of the previous year, Police section off the tens of thousands of marchers into small groups, and gradually drip-feed them out of central London. For the three-thousand people at Oxford Circus, walled in by four-deep lines of riot police, their wait lasted eight-hours. Over that time, a blend of small talk, rapport and a couple of molotov cocktails coloured the scene.

Riots and Rapport


Out of three-thousand people, three skinheads sipping on Special Brew chucked a couple of molotov cocktails at Police – both failing to explode – yet, what was really interesting was the play of rapport, a function of our social brain. Conversations sparked-up in a few spots along the line between police and protestors; conversations that were calm, polite and dotted with small talk. And when the police were ordered to push-forward in to the crowd, you could hear them tell their newly met acquaintances, ‘relax, go with it, it’ll be alright’. Other places along the line – void of rapport – were less generous.

With investment and skill, this is the power of rapport, the effect of reducing strong emotional temperature and creating possibilities other than conflict.

About this blog

Leadership Through The Lens. I'm combining my passions for photography and coaching to explore purpose-driven leadership, give it a real-world context and illustrate it’s many different faces.


Before I became a Coach in 2003 I was a photographer. I travelled with my camera and met people living in very different realities to our own. It taught me that there are many different faces of leadership, it taught me about human endevour and it taught me to keep-it-real in the training room.


I write for purpose-driven people who want to develop their leadership and use it to drive-change and achieve good in the world.

I write on three themes: (1) Know who you are to grow who you are, (2) leading with purpose and (3) dealing in possibilities (not problem or drama).



Chaos, Collaboration & Sustainability

Chaos, Collaboration & Sustainability

There’s a short exercise I often run when I’m speaking and training. I give twelve to fourteen volunteers a simple brief to create a certain formation together but without communicating. When I ask them how they think it’ll go, “Chaos” is the word that normally arises from what they perceive is an impossible task. However, in less that two minutes, they complete the task and it’s mind-blowing!

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