So you want to be a better leader. At leading what? where? when? and why? These are the questions I started asking clients when I established the People Development Co. nine years ago. I quickly realised that in order to develop leaders and managers they needed a roadmap defining why they were in business (Purpose), where they were going (Vision), what principles would guide them (Values), etc. essentially a strategic roadmap. This roadmap would be a reference for the business but also for me and my client for their leadership development.
My approach with SMEs is to develop the leadership and management culture through the execution of the business strategy. The win win here is that the business gets the focus it needs and the management team are consciously developing their capability in the process. The end goal for me is for the business to prosper and for the people to develop the capability to continue developing the business without support from people like me.
Consider the following example: George is struggling in his business. It seems to have outgrown him. It’s not the business he started five years ago where he was in control of everything. Now he has a management team of five. Good people, but. His sales & marketing manager (Mark) doesn’t give the attention to detail that George did when he looked after sales. The financial controller (Mary) doesn’t have the commercial acumen George needs to support him on critical commercial decisions. “She doesn’t seem to show much interest in developing this skill either” according to George, “I just can’t understand it” he says.
And so the story goes on, we could tell similar tales about Una who manages operations and Derek and Gavin who manage procurement and design respectively.
So what’s the problem George? “well there are many problems, we don’t sing off the same song sheet for one, communication within the team and the wider business is bad, teamwork is poor to say the least, AND, the business is facing serious challenges that I don’t think some of the team appreciate the severity of”. “And what’s more, I’m stressed to the nines”.
-> -> Fast forward eight weeks -> ->
George decides to book himself and his family a weekend away in a really nice hotel in Galway on the west coast of Ireland! “George, we can’t afford this” says his wife Beatrice. “Yes we can” says George. ”The team and I have worked really well over the past two months. We’ve learnt more about our business over the past two months than we have in the past three years.
We’ve now have a really clear purpose; we know why we need to continue to work so hard, we are aligned on the vision for the next three years. We have a really exciting strategy to get there that will leave the competition in awe. We’ve all agreed a set of values that will align our behaviours and way of doing things. Plus, we have a set of clear tangible goals that can be measured so that we know what progress we’ll be making. It’s also clear who is responsible and accountable for what. My business coach calls this CLARITY for the business. I now also have CLARITY for my leadership as I know what I need to do and be as leader to make all this happen. The team also has clarity both individually (like me) but also as a team in terms of what we need to do and be in order to make this plan a reality”. “Beatrice, for the first time in a long time I have peace of mind going away for a weekend with you and the kids knowing that I’m on top of my business and not the other way around”.
As you can see George sounds upbeat. He hadn’t been away with the family like this for three years since he celebrated winning a major contract with a global customer. The sad reality is that he only realised a fraction of the value he could have with that customer, mainly because he and his team didn’t have the type of CLARITY described above.
These days we are all facing a lot of noise, there is so much information coming at us, a lot of complexity. We need CLARITY for ourselves as business owners/leaders, for our business and for our teams that are managing the business.
This is what I do. Help develop CLARITY for YOU, Your Business and Your Team. Call me to discuss how I can help you get peace of mind knowing you’re on top of your business….
The Strategy Health Check involves a review of the direction you are currently taking with respect to market conditions prevailing, competitors, and customer needs. We assess your capability in terms of talent, resources, finances, facilities, etc and how these measure up to the needs of your business and what you want to achieve.
Request your FREE Health Check now. Best three requests as to why you need a Health Check will win.
I hear a lot of confused discussion around ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ especially when talking to staff not familiar with this territory. I wonder if it would be helpful to start such a conversation (and possibly even finish such a conversation) with ‘personality’. I’m aware ‘brand personality’ is a commonly used term by the branding experts, meaning a set of human characteristics that are attributed to a brand name to which the consumer can relate.
So here’s a conversation starter for the layman (like me)
If your business was a person what personality would it have? or what personality do you want it to have?
Here’s an example. My wife and I took our daughter to Ard Bia in Galway city for her birthday breakfast last Saturday. It’s our favourite spot in town for breakfast. Why? everything on the plate tastes delicious; great local food with an unusual twist with some exotic influence (the owner Aoibheann is a travel junky who seeks out interesting recipes). The other reason we really like Ard Bia is that its bursting with personality which either connects with you or it doesn’t. Based on the numbers of people who are there every time I’m there it connects with a lot. What caught my attention on Saturday was the notices on the blackboard (see below). These few basic lines tell you so much about this businesses personality which is an extension of the owners personality. ‘Croiadh has teeth now’ what a classic share, these are real people.
Our personality is something unique to all of us. We are all looking for differentiation. Where better to look than ourselves, express your own authentic personality through your business. You are much more likely to connect with people (that’s what we want as humans is connection), and you develop a relationship with your customers that touches them emotionally. Bingo!
I’m currently working on expressing my own personality through my business in a more authentic transparent way. Watch this space?
Well done to Aoibheann and staff. Galway is proud of you.
Check out Ard Bia’s website which tells you lots more about their personality.
Simon Sinek author of “Start With Why,” talked to a Vistage audience about the need for business leaders to cultivate dynamic, honest relationships with staff and clients. It reminds me of the saying ‘People are the business’. Simon’s own big Why (purpose) is to see a world where people get up in the morning inspired to go to work and return home fulfilled by the work that they do, and that loving our work is an entitlement. He defines loving our work being about how we feel when we do our work. I also like his suggestion regarding how we should treat hiring someone as if we were adopting a child! Video time = 14 mins.
If you haven’t seen Simon’s talk (Why would anyone want to be led by you?) that shot him to fame then check it out on one of my previous blog posts here.
I love this from the School of Thinking, see post below.
VIRTUAL BOARD: Who can I ask for advice?
Most large institutions have the guidance of a Board of Directors.
THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: Why not use a Virtual Board of Directors for
your own guidance?
Your Virtual Board is happy to meet in your mind whenever you want.
You can appoint anyone you want, as a non-paid Director, from the past,
present or future.
You can choose board members for different reasons; for speech coaching,
for dress, for conversation, for decision-making, for wit, for compassion,
for looks, for stimulation, for provocation, for encouragement,
for sentimental reasons or for inspiration.
You can get advice, support and guidance, free of charge, and on-call
anytime, any place.
It’s also great fun to do!
Note: If this doesn’t work for you and you want an actual board to meet with every other month then check out the Power of VII groups. New group starting in April for Social Entrepreneurs. Contact me for more info.
For a New Beginning
by John O’Donohue
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
Thought this appropriate for the new year. Love the line Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning, That is at one with your life’s desire.
Check out my CLARITY Programme in April.
Helping you get work & life aligned. Ideal for a new beginning!
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