Category: Business, Leadership and coaching
Publication date: May 11, 2021
Extent: 152 pages

Own Your Day

New light on the mastery of managing in the middle

Diana Marsland
Julie Nerney


Are you a manager, stuck between pressure from senior leadership and the needs of your team? Do you sometimes feel that you’ve been robbed of your power, your influence… and your ability to actually achieve anything?! It’s time to Own Your Day.

This practical collection of simple tools and techniques will enable you to successfully navigate the current environment. Based on first-hand experience from hundreds of organizations, Own Your Day provides an easy-to-apply mix of real-life case studies and specific guidance on the things that matter most to managers.

  • Balancing strategy and delivery
  • Preparation vs planning
  • Developing and using your influence
  • Being your authentic self
  • Getting the best out of yourself and others
  • Implementing change successfully
  • Reclaim your autonomy, step into your authority, and Own Your Day.

DIANA MARSLAND is a coach, mentor, lecturer and researcher focused on organizational behaviour and the impact of digital technology in the workplace. Her varied career has included roles in organizations as diverse as Halifax plc, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Fidelity Investments and the NHS.

JULIE NERNEY is a serial entrepreneur, transformation expert, CEO, NED, Chair, lecturer and public speaker. With experience of every stage of organizational life, from start up through to disposals and acquisitions, she is a passionate advocate for authentic, purposeful leadership.


Helpful management tool
This book is a great resource for managers who are expected to implement constant change initiatives whilst grappling with the realities of managing delivery.
The mix of theory & practice makes it easy to read & includes solutions to common issues – such as managing upwards as well as dealing with an uncertain work environment.
I like the reflective questions which get me thinking about what I’m doing & the way I’m doing it. The research quotes from managers reassure me that I’m not alone!


This book will remind any new and on-learning international manager of the importance of timeless themes for middle managers

Asia Pacific Business Review

Excellent guide for managers, new and experienced there is something for everyone. Cleary written by managers who have learnt lessons and are willing to share their learnings. Easy to read and follow, can refer to chapters of interest in isolation if you need to or are short of time, but i would recommend the whole book, look at it as self development.



This book is a treasure trove of ideas and practical actions for mid-level leaders. Often when you’re a middle manager, you feel powerless and under pressure from all angles; you are implementing policies and approaches set by people above you in the system and you are under pressure from people in your teams. You feel like you have to have all the answers and worry that if you are uncertain it will be seen as weakness. This book shows how it doesn’t have to be like that. It sets out how to take your power as a mid-level leader and make a difference. I’ve never seen a book like this before, aimed specifically at mid-level leaders. I am going to share it widely.
Dr Helen Bevan OBE – Chief Transformation Officer, NHS Horizons

Practical, insightful and exciting – the approaches and tools shared within will help any manager convert strategic planning and aspiration into strategic execution. It is engaging, informative and really accessible for people at every level to understand how to realize strategic improvements across their organization!
Jason Hookey – Chief Digital Officer, Groupe Atlantic – UK, ROI & North America Division

Practical, digestible and impactful, Own Your Day is rooted in real-life learning and experience and should be compulsory reading for any middle manager in any organization.
Alex Botha – Chief Operating Officer, Comic Relief

Working in the middle of an organization is about the most difficult challenge for any manager and this book presents a valuable way of understanding how to navigate these challenges. I like the way it explains why being in the middle is intrinsically difficult and then helps readers to figure out what to do about this. The authors have complementary experiences and present their insights and ideas in a very readable way. It’s a pleasure to find a book which is both very well-grounded in an understanding of the way contemporary organizations work and presents useful practical advice for those interested in the challenge of managing effectively.
Tim Morris – Professor of Management Studies, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

Faced with increasing complexity managers are constantly challenged to resolve multiple, competing priorities and pressures. This practical guide distils the best tools, frameworks and approaches to help the challenged manager balance competing priorities and simplify the ever more complex demands of the contemporary workplace.
Gareth Crawford – CEO & President, Carey Institute for Global Good

More than ever before, how teams operate in organizations is changing. The fundamental conventions of working life are advancing so rapidly that every manager needs a plan if they want to stay relevant. This book is that plan. Blending theory with practice, it’s a common-sense companion for anyone who wants to take control of their career. It deconstructs the working day, before inspiring the reader to reassemble these elements into a better, more coherent whole. The first step towards owning your day is to own a copy of this book.
Richard Sunderland – CEO Heavenly

Leading is a tough gig, but that middle management role is the toughest of all! Own Your Day gives hard-pressed managers loads of valuable tips to make their lives easier and help their teams navigate these difficult times.
Lucy Adams – CEO, Disruptive HR

Organizational life is complex, and especially for those in the middle of it. And finding your way to the best helpful solutions can feel equally complicated. Good news: Own Your Day gets straight to the point, providing contemporary, practical tools and frameworks to help rethink and rework the main challenges facing today’s middle managers. Its helpful structure means you can dip in, and take what you need, when you need it. A great way to break down the complexity and take control of the changes you need to make.
Diane Moody – Vice President Organizational Development & Culture, Royal DSM

A terrific read with practical tips and supportive tools that will enable managers to navigate today’s changing world. Refreshing to gear up in the middle, and to optimize leadership impact in organizations.
Dr Hazel McLaughlin – President, The British Psychological Society

In a year when our world has been turned upside-down, the opportunities for lasting and meaningful change are endless. To deliver on them successfully we need authentic, empathetic, people-centred leadership. This informative and engaging book sets out the practical steps you need to take to make it happen and ensure the best of you and your team is able to come to work each day. Recognizing that I have more power over what I prioritize than sometimes I feel I have, and that I can only achieve meaningful success through developing myself and the talent around me have been vital career learnings for me. As CEO balancing the demands of strategy and delivery is central to my role. Own Your Day has helped me to personally reflect on the tools and techniques I can use to make that balancing act a little bit easier.
Caroline Rainbird – CEO, Financial Services Compensation Scheme

A brilliant resource for managers. Comprehensive advice, written by people who’ve been there and done it.
Graham Allcott – Founder, Think Productive

In a world where everything has changed and the old norms seem woefully outdated, this book shines a light on how you can adapt and succeed. Instantly accessible and written in a style that engages, this will help you focus on what matters.
Rachel Blackett – Head of People Change, Royal Mail Group

People are at the heart of successful organizations and people are at the heart of this book. Packed full of simple concepts and practical guidance, Own Your Day provides the tools to bring out the best in yourself and others.
Steve Vine – Director, Defra

In a world where soft power and networks are more important than ever, it is vital that middle management understands how and why to look outwards as well as up (and down). This is a powerful, practical and personal read which gives us hope as much as guidance in these uniquely challenging times.
Michael Wood – Head of Health Economic Partnerships, NHS Confederation

Required reading for all those managers who aspire to be leaders and who have that rare capacity to translate vision into authentic practical plans.
Chris Connelly – Managing Director, Direct Rail Services

I don’t think I have ever witnessed a catalyst for change like the one 2020 gave us, and I am excited by it. Leadership will now change to a more people- and human-centric way of communicating and caring for the staff. Remote working will require a very different style in order to keep staff, they are closer to the door of other opportunities. The hygiene factors are far tougher to provide and the relationship between boss and employee must be stronger. It is wonderful to see this book, where soft skills are the order of the day.
Penny Power OBE – Founder of Business is Personal

This is an indispensable book for an often overlooked audience. While most business books focus just on leadership, Julie and Diana skilfully unpack the challenges faced by middle management who are the powerhouse of any organization. This book provides the vital, practical support that managers need to survive and thrive in today’s workplace.
Sara Tate – CEO, TBWA London


Table of Contents

Our focus groups with a representative sample of managers across all sectors have identified the common challenges they face where practical support would be the most valuable. These have been organised into two primary themes, each containing the four most common challenges, an overview for which is provided below. Every section will include practical takeaways – tools, techniques, frameworks, experiential learning from case studies and, for those readers who want to find out more, signposting to other resources such as articles, podcasts or other publications. It will be prefaced by a foreword and finish with a master reference guide for the content.

About the authors

Our grateful thanks to…





1.1 Context is King

1.2 Your mindset, their perspective

1.3 Creating your own permission

1.4 Don’t Fear Mistakes – it’s all about the Learning

1.5 Recognising opportunities for change



2.1 Being Future Focused

2.2 Your Personal Clarity

2.3 Dealing with uncertainty and setbacks

2.4 Clarity of Purpose and Outcomes



3.1 Old vs New Power

3.2 Knowing your Audience

3.3 Building Reputation and Visibility

3.4 Building a compelling argument

3.5 The Importance of Context and Timing



4.1 Understanding the Why

4.2 The How trumps the What in successful change

4.3 Changing Behaviours




5.1 Authenticity

5.2 Self-awareness

5.3 Self-care



6.1 Let’s Start with Your Boss…

6.2 Trust as the glue

6.3 Creating a high performing team



7.1 Feedback as the foundation

7.2 The Importance of Clear Expectations

7.3 Dignified exits: letting people go with clarity and kindness



8.1 Purpose

8.2 Preparation

8.3 Style







Paperback / 9781788602457 / May 11, 2021 / £14.99

Ebook / 9781788602440 / May 10, 2021 / £7.99

Paperback and eBook Bundle / £16.99


Diana Marsland

Diana Marsland’s varied career has seen her work in marketing, project management executive roles roles in the corporate, public and third sectors including Halifax plc, the NHS, Action Medical Research and City University. She believes that managers’ abilities are vastly underrated and that they can flourish with support and encouragement.

Julie Nerney

Julie Nerney, MBA, Chartered Director (CDir), Fellow of the Institute of Directors (FIoD)
Julie was a serial entrepreneur, starting, running and selling 14 business in the UK and overseas. She then had a successful interim career as a business transformation expert, spanning private, public and not for profit sectors. These ranged from complex change programmes through to whole organizational turnarounds and high profile projects, including a leadership role in the delivery of the transport operation for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. She has experience of every stage of the organizational life cycle from start up through to disposals and acquisitions, and has worked in dozens of Executive and CEO roles. Her transformation work is complemented by a varied portfolio of Chair and NED roles, she is a guest lecturer at Oxford Said Business School, public speaker and author. Whilst her experience has real breadth and depth, Julie is struck by the commonality across the hundreds of organizations she has worked with. Regardless of why there are there, how teams and leaders approach their work is a far bigger determinant than what they do. The what is important, but it is the how which is the game changer.