Monday, 27 July 2020

Did you and your business Pivot, Furlough, Hibernate of Fold during Covid19?

Business Leaders Did you and your business Pivot, Furlough, Hibernate of Fold during Covid-19?

Everything is easy in hindsight. In history everything is clear and simple, some would say obvious to the point where the reader is left thinking what was all the fuss about. Well off course Britain would be on the winning side at the end of World War 2! How could they not be with the Americans and the free world all supporting them against a deranged megalomaniac.
  • Except that in 1939 after the collapse of France that was not the perception. 
  • The rescue of The British Army of the beaches of Dunkirk that was not the perception.
  • At the beginning of the Battle of Britain that was not the perception.

History is only in Hindsight

History of anything only tells you want happened from the view point of hindsight, that 20 / 20 vision in which all things are clear, simple and obvious.  For those who lived through those difficult times would have seen the debate first hand things would have looked very different. Requiring difficult decisions against conflicting advice to be made with uncertain outcomes from each step they took. When things are tough its easy for leaders to say dig-in, but the real challenge for all leaders is not just when its tough, but when we are in the unknown and it's tough. That's when leaders will show their true colours in leadership.

Unexpected Wave Compilation (CRAZY!) - YouTube

The Covid19 era, March to July 2020 is one of those occasions. In January and February we saw a disease far away causing small problems. Like a huge wave approaching a calm beach, we stand and look not realising its impact upon us until it is too late.

Shock and Horror 

When it hit us in the west at first we stood in disbelief, a pandemic had arrived. Some seemed oblivious to it. The daily commute did not change, the polite conversations were around isn't a shame. Then came the realisation phase that a pandemic was like the black death or the Spanish Flu (which was not Spanish at all, just before anyone things it was, it came from the USA). Having seen the initial impact of Covid19, overwhelm northern Italy then came the sobering understanding that this was now everywhere and we all had to change our behaviours.

Leaders to look for certainty 

Few leadership teams had prepared their risk model to include pandemic (despite Bill Gates's 2015 TED talk forecast). They had in their risk model locker room, Millennium bug (2000), Terrorist Attack (2001) and financial crash (2008), and so had contingency planning in place for those such activities, but not for a pandemic. This meant that for many, form politicians, to health professionals down to business leaders they were stepping into the unknown and with no experience of anything like it. The Black Death and Spanish Flu being too long ago to fit with modern economic thinking.

For business leaders this pandemic has and is outside the rulebook. There is no this is how we deal with this one.  The response of business leaders has been a real eye-opener for us all, and if you worked in a company how your company reacted tells you a lot more than you might expect about the leadership within your company.  Many carried on as if nothing was happening until told to stop. Others ran for the hills (Caribbean or such like) to find shelter leaving their underlings to hold the fort. Some froze, some panicked, some just buried their heads and carried on until told to stop.

Leaders Speed in Response 

The speed with which businesses leaders responded to Covid19 depended upon several factors, but being a unwon meant everyone started on the Backfoot. Those financially over-stretched or totally depended upon current markets were left with fewer options, so closing or furloughing were their only realistic options.  Airlines, pure retail shops, pubs and event businesses immediately went into hibernation.

Many will have to wait until their market re-opens for they can be brought back and their leadership teams are left modelling how do we re-emerge and what world are we likely to re-emerge into? The new normal, won't be normal, instead we are most likely to see  paradigm shift has occurred in every market. As Barclays and Twitter have already identified, why do we need offices if our people can work better at home? Technology, lifestyle and the customer prefers our people to work from home, so why not change the success we are now finding.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, who is going to want to spend money on locked-in white elephant buildings, when they have learnt how to work remotely, butting the 2 to 3 hours commuting to zero. Why go back if you don't need to. The agile and flexible business models are where people want to be. Technology has made the shift happen and while people want to be part of a physical team they will not be doing that 5 days a week.    

Opportunity is there if you look for it.

For many business leaders there is always opportunity if you look for it, and I don't mean toilet roll manufacturers.  There are many businesses which pivoted, some overnight, some took longer. From making medical PPE, to pubs doing takeouts and some becoming pure mobile pubs, the rate of change, the pivot has been impressive to see how quickly leaders have responded to the adversity and looked for and seized the opportunity.    

The people who looked and worked out how to survive in the short term also have the first mover advantage in developing their model for the future.  If you can be agile then you can adapt quicker. Huge potential markets for loungewear have opened up. The home group exercise market (think Joe Wicks and Davina McCall), and the clothing, and paraphernalia around these areas are seeing huge growth.  

Change has happened, it was not just a short nightmare

As individuals, families, communities and businesses all adapt to what some have called the new normal, or bounced back as their channels to market have reopened, the requirement for leaders is not to just go back to what's there before. The world has changed for good. It will not be life as before it will all be new. It might look the same and even feel the same (with facemarks), but this pandemic has accelerated, magnified and accelerated changes that were happening. 

Shops did not just suddenly stop trading, they were already struggling to deal with market changes, Covid just accelerated that change. Restaurants that have not adapted were unlikely to adapt to changing demand patterns of home eating which Just eat etc have developed. Change is always happening sometimes we see it, once it becomes mainstream, but change is always with us. 

Covid has accelerated and magnified those changes that were happening. from home working, which was 14% before the lockdown is likely to stay either as a permanent move, or become part of a shorter office working week for many, some believe that over 60% of people will not come back. Major companies such as Twitter and Barclays are not planning for everyone to ever return.         

Covid has (and is) a step change Prepare for it.

For leaders of any business, they need to understand that there is no new normal, only a new way of working. Now is the time to make step changes to keep up with changes as they impact upon your longterm future. Your business plans for 2021 onwards need to reflect the world we are likely to operate within towards 2025, not the world in 2019.

Build your model for tomorrow built upon what you can see and feel today, not what happened last year.  

Learn more at and learn how Richard Gourlay supports leaders grow and develop their skills though his online mentoring support.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Working ON Your Business NOT IN Your Business

Working ON Your Business not IN Your Business

The pressure on directors and leaders to be not only great role models but also to be involved in every aspect of the business is relentless. But successful leaders in any sector, no matter their personality or background, can't be everywhere and know everything. Those that try quickly suffer from stress and burnout. Trying to be everything to everyone is exhausting and futile.

Successful leaders have the ability to focus ON their business rather than IN their business. What that means in reality is that they do not loose sight of their most important role, that of leading their people and organisation. Here are some of reasons why directors get sucked into their business so easily, and what to do about it. 

Directors: Being Pulled from Pillar to Post

The urge for directors to jump in to your business as the chief fire-fighter or executive management is the most natural reaction any director or owner has when it is under pressure to demonstrate their leadership. 'Keep calm I'm in charge' is the key message leaders want to portray. That position of fire-fighter extraordinaire (superman without the lycra) the man (mainly) who can, is a powerful pull to keep leaders hands on, but its also one main reason why companies don't succeed.   

Directing is what a business expects directors to do in demonstrating their leadership skills. From making the big decisions through to setting an outstanding example to others, the pressure is always on to be seen be in the control and to be the ultimate arbitrator of problem solving. The problem is that while firefighting looks and feels vitally important, spending time working out why things have gone wrong is actually what is ultimately important, and what we directors should be investing our time and energies on solving.   

The hardest task in doing the right thing as a leader is to know how and when to stand back and not get drawn into the day-to-day stuff in any business. By ensure they stay directing, not doing, and making the future happens successfully. It's always easier to pick up someone else's ringing phone rather than educate them to do do it.  But in doing so you've just become a firefighter rather than a director directing. Successful leaders have to learn how to stand back and understand what is happening and why. They must learn that their actions in directing people lead to the results they can see. To change their people's behaviour which leads to a change their activity and outcomes requires leaders to change their behaviours first.

Being a director is an official role, often a badge of great success and a role of not only legal significance but also as a role model of leadership. Leadership, the act of leading is about directing others towards an agreed shared goal, and that is where leaders deliver results. Leadership is a action, an interaction in how leaders support and serve their people, not a title but a series of actions which impact upon others.

The best leaders are the not the ones people see, but like great teams, from sports teams to kitchen chefs, where everything happens as if by magic and no-one can see how it is done. But like a great orchestra everyone knows their place, their role and how they contribute to the overall success of the business. 

Directors: On It! Not In!

Working ON the business, deciding where the organisation is going and why rather than IN, getting stuff done, is where people really see the value of an effective leader. That requires leaders to focus on both where they are going as well as how they a business is operating in getting to that destination. 

The biggest mistake leaders can make is wanting to be seen to be busy in the business. Being seen as doing something within the company process, directly adding to the value chain, while it is being seen can lead to the leadership looking sight of its real role, that of leading not working in. Being a 'hands on' person is one of the classic perceptions which people inside a company feel they need to deliver to be valued. 

While stepping in to pacesetter is a good tool, it most often pulls directors out of their role and means they become a boss not a leader.

Directors Need to Be Seen 

I've just worked with an advanced manufacturing client to develop an operations director who said in response to my suggestion: "I can't be seen to sit down and read how to do something new, I have to be busy doing something so all my people can see me working hard." This classic trap, of having everyone working IN their business leaves no-one working ON their business. It's an example of the classic challenge for leadership of being seen and being seen to be busy.

Being seen and involved in everything is part of being in charge, and able to offer advice, make decisions and drive people towards their objectives. The effect of having to be always seen is that directors have to be first to arrive and last to leave, draining the batteries of many directors particularly in rapidly changing companies.

Where being seen becomes the culture of leadership, suddenly everything has to be run past them which leads to vertical management structures, creating a lack of empowerment throughout the organisation which results in reduced moral and hierarchy control, putting further pressure on directors and undermining ownership as deference to authority becomes the normal acceptance. This change makes all decision making hierarchical, creating control and in result reducing flexibility to respond to changes, which no-one, the leadership, is now looking out for.

The other common problem with being seen all the time, having your door open at any time is that directors become the only people able to make decisions, resulting in increased pressure on directors to know what is going on. This pull factor into the day-to-day and the politics of micromanagement eats resources and kills innovation.  

Successful leaders understand the importance of being seen effectively in business today is more about communicating when you are available and that you are available to them to provide dedicated support not just being there for people. Being seen therefore in today's business world is about being able to provide quality of time support not just volume of time. Keep your distance from the day-to-day, don't walk all over the management process and respect people's talents to solve problems rather than tell them how to do things.  

Leaders must 'Know What's Going On'

Directors have to know what's going on.  But the danger is that if you are working in your business as a director, then you can be a bull in a china shop, wildly spinning round treading all over other people, who aren't directors, and their roles.

Directors getting involved in every detail of every process within the business can lead to a culture of  micro-management. Micro-management, where every decision is analysed and scrutinised by directors, not only undermines good employees but often leads to reactionary and damaging over-rullings of effective processes and procedures. Which leads more often than not on the process breaking down.                                                                                                                                              

Knowing the process and how it works is vital for success, but micro-managing processes often lead to confusion on decision-making and the over-ruling of the existing tried and tested process.

What makes successful knowledge of what's going on, is the ability to see the process happening and recognise where it is under-pressure and where it needs resources to deal with the pressure points.

Being able to step back and see what is happening while not being dragged into the process is a vital ingredient for directors to lead from a position of overview knowledge not micro-managing detail, leave that to those who run each section. Let them own their area then they will care about it. Review how people are delivering and working out what support they nee rather than walking all over what they are doing unless things are going seriously wrong is the best behaviour leaders can demonstrate. 
Hidden problems which leaders do not see.

Leaders MUST Lead By Example

'Lead from the front, lead by example,' is first rule of any leadership development course.  But it is also a phrase which is poorly understood, here's why:

'Leading by example' is one of the most commonly misunderstood terms leaders fail to appreciate and causes the biggest mistakes directors make in doing their job. When directors are told to lead by example they look at  the role of the person they are demonstrating their leadership skills to and then they lead them by doing that person's role, not theirs. That 

In doing that person's role they are not leading but replacing that person in doing the role. The result is that in leading by example directors do, but don't lead. Doing someone else's job is not leading or directing it is doing, the trap which anyone can of fall into, particularly when we are busy, under pressure or when we see someone not doing it as they should.

'I'll do it so it gets done,' mentality is the quick fix, but not the right solution. How will they learn unless they do it, not only in theory but day-to-day. The best help you can give someone is to train them how to do a job and ensure that they know why they are doing that job, reward them for doing it and motivate them to do it even better, but don't do it for them (unless you want to swap roles).

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Richard Gourlay

Monday, 4 November 2019

How to deal with a Toxic Work Culture

or How to Create And Sustain A Positive Workplace Culture

Culture at work and how to improve it by Richard Gourlay #sheffield, #chesterfield, #Rotherham

I was working with a new client last week they asked me about how to deal with a poor workplace culture. 

The MD said it had started with a several months ago when he heard a few slights and a couple of individual negative comments between team members Then he looked into it and he saw that this negativity had spread throughout the company, from a minor issue it had exploded into a "real storm in a tea cup." Suddenly everything had become an issue, some people not speaking to other people, or only under duress with backbiting, a general lack of trust and a lowering of morale throughout the whole business.  
He was amazed at how fast this toxic culture had spread and created such a hostile environment in which to work. His first question to me was how do you banish toxic workplaces and foster a positive culture in your business? 

Here are some key tips which leaders find as effective ways of resolving toxic cultures.  

Take ownership of the Problem.

Culture starts at the top. It is caused by leaders not leading. Owning the company culture is at the very heart of leadership skills.  That requires leaders to continually feel the pulse of their company culture and not forget that leaders lead people to get results. 

Negative environments need to be resolved by creative mechanisms to hear, take ownership and resolve employees grievances across departments. Identify the relevant real underlying concerns is a vital first stage for leaders to take ownership of the company culture. Leaders need to be seen to be taking charge of the culture and not expecting it to be someone else's responsibility. 

Find the root of the problem

Root problems are not usually the people, but situations which drive the wrong behaviours in those people. How those root problems manifest themselves in establishing a negative culture are the symptoms which you can see and feel. Identifying common root causes fostering and driving a toxic culture enables leaders identify and correct their leadership style while developing an appropriate action plan to change the cultural environment and build morale through positive actions.   

Positive action must start from the top. It starts by leaders taking ownership for the current culture. Changing the dialogue at the top, and throughout the organisation, is the first stage of culture change. Change has to start with the leadership, this is the essential part of leading change, but it takes everyone to step up, but do not do it until you have all the staff, particularly senior staff to be fully engaged. 

Staff engagement is the solution

Ensuring engagement throughout the organisation is the cornerstone to shifting cultures. Not just engaging with department heads and the 'vocally aggrieved.' Staff engagement requires everyone seeing the impact of a toxic culture and how it impacts upon their personal and the whole business performance.  Key to this stage is engagement with the solent majority, not letting the client or directly unaffected duck out of making change happen. 

Don't tell, always sell the solution to the problem. Ensuring that everyone is bought in to change is best achieved when it is the people inside the organisation who come up with solutions, which resolve issues. Moving workloads, skills development, shifting responsibility for outcomes down the line all support culture shifts as it is employees who are driving change, but those actions only happen if people are engaged and understand why those changes will benefit everyone. That ownership and engagement, even the collective recognition of the need for change ensures that you have whole team engagement with your desire to make change happen. 

Make a plan of action

Now you have everyone onside with removing the toxic culture it is now the time to devise a plan. Involve everyone in making a small first step (quick mentality) this promotes engagement, supports action and delivers change. It is in effect a team building exercise ensuring everyone is part of the solution. 

Don't do the hard stuff on day one, build up changes in behaviour you want to see. Start with the end in mind, but don't expect a one day team building exercise to change the culture of an organisation. It could be something as insignificant as instigating a clean desk policy (led by the leadership team) through to supporting a charity event throughout the company. Whatever it is it must be a step together in the right direction, that everyone sees and feels.

Owning behavioural standards 

Once you have the first step forward together, then it is the time to to lead the culture shift. This is where you carry the momentum forward with energy and enthusiasm to shift how the company behaves. How people treat each other is at the heart of a positive cultural shift. That starts and finishes with the leadership team.

Own the behaviour means that leaders have to walk the walk with everyone and show them how to behave both publicly and within private groups. Thinking about the impact a leader wants to make is at the heart of leading culture change. Do as I do is vital in building trust in a new culture.  

What does good culture look like and feel like needs to be clearly experienced. It is not an email or a piece of wall art, but a feeling people experience. Managers need to be managing to the positive culture and recognising in their people good cultures at work, what is called soft skills analysis and measuring that, not just the hard KPI's of department. People falling short must be brought to account immediately, privately and given guidance and support to achieve the behavioural standards that have been established.

Positive behaviour role models

Identifying champions of change is an exemplary way of driving change. Creating champions within and across departments to take ownership and drive individual initiatives ensures that change can be embedded at a local level. 

Enabling these people to support (not drive) culture change means they need to be recognised as role models in delivering good behaviour. This recognition by everyone to see the positive behaviour standard and measure themselves against it. Leaders need to provide recognition for role models who are leading the change in behaviours within the company. 

This shift is at the heart of driving positive cultures, from the top down, so that effective leadership behaviours cascade down to sub-ordinates and across departments. 

Establish strong company values

A company's core values need not only exist, be seen and lived from the top down.  The fundamental beliefs of any business need to be clearly defined and relatable to everyone's individual role and reflected in their behaviours. That correlation between those core values and people's personal positive behaviours have to connect. 

To make values stick they need to be transparent across an organisation. That requires people to see those values in other people so that they can feel that everyone is living those fundamental values. That shared appreciation of values ensure that they exist in every else's role. 

Company values are the guiding principles that govern how the business operates, an unseen language which everyone shares. Strong values matter, but they need to be more than a lip service or wall art. They need to be lived, re-enforced and therefore owned from the top down. 

Traditionally that meant when people were not following those behaviours they were held to account by their senior management, today that has been reversed so that people self diagnose what the right behaviour and their colleagues guide and re-enforce them.    

Bring those values to life

Living values, bringing them to life every day is something which leaders need to focus on. Leadership teams need to define clear touch points with employees on how can they demonstrate the values they want to see in others. Living company values matters today more than ever before.  

Connecting company values to everyone's role seems an extravagant exercise, but it is an essential investment. Positive cultures have to live within an organisation.  So creating tangible touch points for values brings them to life.

Keeping values alive requires total involvement of employees, in reviewing their living of those values in ensuring they are kept alive.

Measuring what Matters

Removing negative behaviours requires people to measure what matters in culture.  Leaders need to ensure that what they expect the organisation to do does not conflict with but actually compliments those values. 

Often measuring the wrong outcomes means driving the wrong behaviours. Classic errors include bonus payments and other incentives for individual performance which may be detrimental to the company culture. Growth drivers particularly those around sales are often the most damaging to company cultures. 

Measuring what matters requires leaders to focus on the long-term culture and strategy, not the short-term tactical drivers. If leaders focus on short-term tactical goals, it is often at the expense of culture, damaging the long-term success of the business.

Culture has to be measured, how do people feel, how much do people work for each other, is everyone pulling together. It is often the quiet and unsung people who set the tone of how a culture is being lived throughout the organisation. 

Leaders must measure the culture throughout the organisation and ensure that strategies and tactics fit within the cultural framework you have, and how leaders implement new strategies within the positive culture framework you want to have.      

Leadership: the importance of soft skill development

Creating and instilling behavioural standards of what leaders and managers need to demonstrate in every action and interaction is the essential soft skills development leaders need to invest in. Creating clear demonstrable standards of positive culture they need to sustain to ensure that best practice by everyone is driving and supporting that culture. 
Cultural behaviours should also be linked to your appraisal process, so that their role and personal objectives are tied to developing and and supporting others in driving a positive culture.

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Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Do LESS Be MORE Leadership

Do less be more as a leader by Richard Gourlay #Sheffield leadership development consultant and trainer, mentor and coach.

The art of Leadership: do less and BE MORE.

The challenge for leaders today is that expectations about leaders are so high. They are in charge, and that means that they must know everything that is going on, being able to wave magical wands to fix anything at a drop of a hat. This expectation acts like catching hooks on leaders, pulling them into doing rather than leading their business. 

Leaders to stay leading, must therefore member the golden rule that any business is a group of people delivering something. If you want them to succeed then the leader must create the successful conditions for that success to happen. Leaders therefore must design and build the environment for success, and then make it sustainable, so the environment becomes a stable one to continue that success. 

Leaders need to therefore focus on their people leadership skills, not task or output.  

Leadership skills by Richard Gourlay in Chesterfield, Sheffield and East Midlands learn how to lead better.

Leadership Vision 

For leaders to lead they must first identify their core purpose in leading, or as Simon Sinek calls their WHY, why are they running this business? What is their vision for their business, which defines them as a leader, who are they, what do they stand for and ultimately what difference do they intend to make. That clear and shared vision drives the purpose and establishes the direction of travel for everyone. Without a clear vision and purpose leaders are often left dealing with internal politics between differing factions pulling the organisation in differing directions. 

Creating balance between work, home and self is an important aspect of leaders. Avoiding being overdriven, having time to think and reflect is vital for leaders to be able to research opportunities, evaluate options and balance their work within their life. Taking on too much, juggling too many competing elements will lead to poor leadership decisions, personal pressures and often leads towards burnout.  Balancing your life is a key skill in being a effective leader.   

Two Key Skills in Stepping Back

The first key skill of all leaders (except the one-man band business) is that you need to make yourself redundant from all operations. This statement often shocks leaders I work with, but if you are in the business you cannot be working on it, and you cannot be leading it effectively. Do less within the business enables you to do more for the business.

If the business can operate fully without you then you can lead it effectively. This means ensuring you are not critical to how it works, from sales to delivery, from operations to overtime you must not be essential. That means empowering your people to run everything, with the autonomy and responsibility to deliver what the customers needs. The more you empower the simpler the business becomes, and the more rewarding it is for its employees. 

Empowering people and letting them fly in their role, frees leaders to walk the floor and see how their people are performing, removing the blockages of the flow (the smoothness of operations) is an important first leadership stage in what is called the servant leadership role. 

The second is in looking at developing people, from praising people for doing a good job, and challenging them to develop their own solutions to their problems. Called safe failing, it is allowing people the freedom to try solutions and see what works rather than having to wait for something to fail before it is escalated up to the leadership. While praising people is a positive human touch skill, challenging people to solve their own problems within safe boundaries is a real leadership skill. It takes trust and a changed mindset to encourage people to try to create solutions rather than always asking what to do.  

Challenging people to come up with solutions to improve their role, changes the dynamics of employees perceptions of their leaders. How many solutions have you tried is a great way of suggesting that they have not yet find the right solution, and even better might be to  point someone in the right way by offering them a resource to go to, or providing a mentor to support their development into a solution. 

Leaders work through their people, so how a leader positively influences them is the success of their leadership of that person. Developing a variety of ways to influence people is a key skill of leaders in today's world. having a variety of ways and tools to influence people requires leaders to keep learning how to influence people to drive and support them to do try and do new things. 

Leaders must therefore build an effective management team around them who can deliver that vision. Developing an effective team is vital if a leader is to succeed. 

Leadership is about being future-focused, hence the requirement to create and sustain your inspiring vision as a leader.  Leaders are always looking forwards, assessing tomorrow's market, where and how it is changing and then engineering the business to exceed within tomorrow's business environment. 

Leaders are visionary architects, focusing on the big picture and the long-term future. It is for others, the management to do the building. Leaders create the problem, here is where we are going and why, now get us there. It is for the managers and Senior Leadership Team  (SLT) to develop the execution.   As your business grows and you have employees it has different needs of you. The proportion of your time spent on doing is likely to need to decrease as the business grows.

Many business owners find it difficult to let go of the control and to pass on the operational doing to others enabling everyone to learn and grow. Letting go means that you are sustainable and thriving in your own role as the leader and are able to create the conditions for others to thrive as your business grows.

When you create the time to lead you are able to stand back from being involved in doing and identify what the business needs to continue to be successful in the future. Thinking about the challenges ahead and orientating the business to take advantage (or avoid) of them is the ultimately role of a leader. 
Stepping up as a leader first requires you to trust yourself and secondly to trust others to deliver instead of doing it all yourself. Doing less and being more is a mindset which leaders must develop. As you build trust in the capability of the person you are empowering and as they become more confident in the task they are being empowered to do, your involvement will become less. This frees you up to grow as a leader and add more value to the business.

Having a growth mind-set is key to sustainable leadership. If you and your people don’t continue to grow as the business grows there will come a stage where the business has out grown your capabilities. So making time to be coached and to coach your people so that they develop and grow creating the space for you to grow is vital. 
As a leader you need to take people on the journey with you in such a way that they feel they have played their part and that the outcome is one of mutual success. 

Change is emotional. It is often seen as a threat so people go into fight, flight or freeze modes, and many employees will resist change. Your job as a leader is to connect with them at an emotional level and help them to identify their own reasons as to why the change is necessary. Move everyone forward , not just the laggards, but the whole body forward together, so that they can all see the trajectory that they need to follow. 
So as your business grows are you doing less and being more, if so you maybe on your way to be a successful leader.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Leadership Measuring Outcomes

Leadership: Measuring Outcomes 

Many leaders struggle with leading people effectively. One key challenge that leaders struggle with is in creating key results focus attitude that measure outcomes instead of outputs.  

So what is the difference between an outcome and an output? Why does that matter and why is it difficult to differentiate between the two? And why is it crucial for leaders to focus on Key Results measures of outcomes and not just outputs? 
Leadership Skills by Richard Gourlay Chesterfield, Sheffield, Derbyshire,

Outputs vs Outcomes

An output is something that people do, while an outcome is something that happens as a consequence of that doing activity.  “I have made 50 calls to prospective customers” is an output, “I’ve closed a new customer” is an outcome. 

Measuring the activity, the output, tells you how busy someone is, measuring the outcome, the result tells you have effective they have been at the task in hand. Outputs, being busy always start out as the simplest measure to activity, but they are a false measure of success. Outputs are activity measures, while important in their own right, they are not what leaders should be measuring, these are measures which management should measure activity through. 
A strategic thinking leader might ask to their line manager, “Why have you made 50 calls and not generated  new customer from those calls? What are you saying to people?”

Being busy is simple; being effective is what matters; for a successful leader. Strategic leaders focus measuring outcomes towards the end goal. Effective leaders start with the end in mind, measure what matters, is what differentiates successful leaders in leading their organisation from others.    

Most people naturally focus on outputs, being busy. It’s relatively easy to come up with a list for what you need to do today, this week and this month. However, as Stephen Covey explains in his book The 7 habits of highly effective people, outputs always come last. In order to be successful, you need to start with the end in mind, by focusing on the outcomes you want, and then work backwards to outputs that lead to the outcome(s) you are focusing on.

For example if you want a new customer, that is a outcome. How you achieve that is to identify what are the steps to getting a new customer. 

1.     Defining a target audience.
2.     Prospecting that audience with a call to identify likely suspects
3.     Gain a meeting with suspects, present a solution / offer.
4.     Close the sale and confirm the customer is on-board.  

The objective, one new customer is a clear outcome. The outputs to get there, steps 1 to 4 above are all activity-based outputs, which the team focuses on delivering towards that outcome. The outputs are measurable activities, which are supported by operational initiatives, such as who is going to do what to deliver them. 

Leadership Strategic Approach
  1. Where do I want to go? Is an OBJECTIVE: the outcome.
  2. What are the results that lead us to achieve in order to get there? KEY RESULTS outputs towards the outcome, steps 1 to 4 above.
  3. What do other people need to do to achieve those results? Theseare the operational INITIATIVES, task activities.

If leaders start with activities (i.e. the Initiatives) they take themselves out of control of where they are going. Leaders must focus on the objective, the outcome to be accomplished. Anyone can be operationally busy, but it leaves the operation unfocused on the end objective. Initiatives such as writing the script, recording the stages in the CRM system and who to call back are all operational activities, which are important to achieving the objective, but are overseen by the management not the leadership.  

Successful leaders define the outcome and resource the outputs to their management team and then focus on leading the team to achieving the outcome.

Activity-based or results-driven?

Leaders must obsessively focus on the objective, from its inception through to its completion. By focusing on the outcome leaders, lead their people relentlessly towards the objective. Define the outcome you want to achieve before you define the outputs that will get you there. 

For many leaders, focusing on outcome achievement instead of outputs requires a significant shift in culture and thinking. Defining outputs is easy, focusing on doing things. Doing something makes people feel good, but doing the wrong thing can still feel good until someone steps back and sees that they have not moved towards the objective, they have just been busy. 

Doing things to achieve a specific outcome is a lot more complicated, and now success is not measured anymore by, being busy or by the percentage completion of your output, but by progress towards the end goal.

This shift can be a challenge for many leaders, but the results demonstrate the consequences of your actions and learn what you can do to achieve certain results. The faster you learn, the better you get, as an individual, a team, and a company.

Leaders must measure performance towards objectives within your business? Are you activity-focused or results-driven? Are you happy when 50 prospects or 100 prospects have been called this week or is what really matters to you how many customers you closed? The latter measure of outcome achievement is more informative to the business KPI than the former. As long as Key Results are on track, leaders should not get involved at the Initiative-level. If the business is off-track, then it is sensible to review the initiatives with the relevant management and operational staff to ensure they have a clear output plan that supports the objective outcome. This is where leaders can help the team to figure out what or why it’s not working, and brainstorming what other initiatives we could try to get things back on track. 

KPI’s: measure outcomes
KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators, just in case you don’t know) are the reporting  indicators which drive decision making. For KPI’s to drive business results then they must indicate outcome performance, not work rate outputs. 
One big advantage for leaders of measuring outcomes rather than outputs is that it enables them to step back and allow management to manage more effectively. Giving space for managers to manage, removes the accidental tendency to micromanage operations. The risk for leaders in any organisation is that they struggle to define where they should get involved and where they should not.  By stepping back leaders can retain their overview rather than being drawn into operational activity.

To improve your organization, then leaders need to focus the whole team on outcomes instead of outputs. Focusing on outcomes puts the end in mind first, tracks the progress of what really matters, and enables the leadership to learn about company capabilities.

Focusing on outcomes will not only boost performance, but it is also a natural protection against micro-management. Don’t tell sales reps how many outbound calls they need to make today (output), instead make them responsible for closing a certain amount of customers each month (outcome).

Like to learn more about leadership? Then buy the book Strategy: the Leader's Role by Richard Gourlay 

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