Meet Our Founders

Meet Our Founders

by neillthew


Trevor Cousins and Neill Thew are the Founding Directors of Cru Leader Development Ltd.

Our mission is to support leaders in becoming more effective at leading in the complex and uncertain situations that so many of them are facing right now. We want to help leaders grow so that they can match their complexity of thinking with the increasing complexity of the situations they are required to address.

Our journey to this point ….

  • we have 40 years’ joint experience in people development
  • we have held senior management and leadership positions in commercial and public sector organisations
  • we have successful track records in developing leaders and supporting people in making lasting adaptive change across a range of industries including finance, higher education, engineering, mobile telecoms, property, public health, hospitality, creative industries, charity/not-for-profit, and heritage.
  • we have been trained in Immunity to Change coaching by Dr Robert Kegan and Dr. Lisa Lahey of Harvard University
  • We have trained in Adaptive Leadership – we are graduates of the Art and Practice of Leadership Development executive development programme at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, led by Ronald Heifetz

About Trevor

Trevor loves global wandering; self-improvement; going out for supper; playing Scrabble and walking the beach in Hove.

Clients describe Trev as genuine; insightful; empowering; optimistic; reflective; wise; grounded; trustworthy; innovative; and sensitively challenging.

+44 (0) 7906 947564


About Neill

Neill loves having six books on the go; cooking; exploring the world; and Japanese logic puzzles.

Clients describe Neill as one of the most inspirational people they have ever met; warm; empowering; creative; positive; big-hearted; widely read; knowledgeable and fun.

+44 (0) 7515 516540

Why call the company Cru?

It was important for us that the company name reflect the work we do and the experience we want our clients to have. The company name has two important parts –Leader Development AND Cru.  We believe that clients who understand the thinking behind our choice of company name will have a deeper understanding of what motivates us and what they can expect from us.

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Many organisations provide leadership development that supports leaders in generating the leadership characteristics and behaviours that their organisation advocates.

“Leader development” is different. Cru takes the approach that the leader is a human being on a journey of growth from cradle to grave. Everyone is developing constantly and Cru supports leaders in their journey of growth and maturity as an human being within an organisational context.

We focus on the bigger picture of who the leader is by paying attention to the most important change they need to make in how they show up as a leader. We ask the leader and their colleagues: “what is the one big thing this person needs to get better at, to be more effective as a leader?

Experience has shown us that in all organisations, people know what other people’s key developmental edges are but they don’t talk about them. They produce pages of 360-degree feedback which highlights many areas of development but does not always focus on the one, most significant area of development. For example, Steve’s colleagues know that he needs to be more polite with people if he is to engage them and  Jenny’s team know that she needs to be braver in how she communicates with her senior stakeholders. But often, because changing these behaviours requires growth and adaptability in the person, it can seem like too big an issue to deal with or too personal.

By focusing on the one behavioural goal that will produce the greatest pay back, we see transformation in leaders rather than incremental shifts.

So, working with Cru enables leaders to develop and grow by addressing their biggest and most fundamental areas of improvement and overcoming what is holding them back. In the process, they grow as a person and become an upgraded version of themselves.


Cru is a French word which has multiple meanings that relate to the impact of our work.

  • Cru means raw. When we work with clients on their adaptive challenges, we take them to places that can generate “raw” emotions. Raw emotions are the deep feelings that are new to us, that we have not had awareness of and which we have not had the time or opportunity to process and make sense of. Exploring Unacknowledged Blockers taps into these emotions in a positive way. Our coaches are trained to help clients work safely and quickly through the raw emotions in a professional context. The process is practical and focused, not counselling or therapy.
  • Cru also refers to high quality in relation to wine. The Cru approach causes clients to gain traction on previously elusive goals and to produce higher quality outputs and outcomes.
  • So, the Cru experience deals with raw emotions and creates traction on previously elusive goals.