Showing posts with label director mentoring. Show all posts
Showing posts with label director mentoring. Show all posts

Saturday, 12 December 2015

How to move forward as a leader

Leaders Must look beyond the Horizon for Success: 

(Five Tips For Moving Beyond Certainty in Business)

It is always easy to look backwards and see how a business has evolved to where it is today, than to look at where a business is today and predict where it will go in the future. Looking backwards from essence of an idea, to the formative stage in which it was created and how it has evolved to where it is now, journeys look logical and rationale. When leaders look at their business, the rational behind the direction setting they took seems obvious today and makes perfect sense, but the truth is that at the time of making those vital decisions it was not.  

Making decisions about the future is never easy and certainly not simple. The lack of information about the future, the uncertainty of what will happen within any sector and the singularity of ownership of the big decision weight on leaders minds often leads to procrastination and delay.

Seeing beyond the horizon, to what the world will look like in three to five years time requires leaders to look beyond today's certainty over the horizon into uncertainty if they wish to succeed. What makes some leaders succeed in moving beyond the known is not just having an idea, but to create sustain and drive towards their passion. Being willing and able to think beyond the known an visible to see a world which does not yet exist.

I am sure you have seen the list of six famous failures, from Albert Einstein to the Beatles. All of whom ended up succeeding, but at the time of their big decisions they were unknown, from Walt Disney who was fired from newspaper for "lacking imagination" or Oprah Winfrey who was demoted from being a news anchor because she "wasn't fit for television".  If they had listened to only those voices where would they be today. Would the Beatles have bounced back from Decca records, would Steve Jobs have fought back to success having been fired from his own company by the man he hired, had they not had the determination, advice and courage to make tough decisions about the unknown future.    

Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs,

There is a simple phrase which I often use when talking with directors as a mentor, "What's your Vision" and within that simple three word question I am asking a whole series of questions about the leadership I am talking with. Who are they, where are they going and most importantly of all why do they think they are right?

Here are five business tips to help leaders move beyond the certainty of their role.

Five Business Tips for Moving Beyond Certainty

1. Create your Vision!  (Define your destination, goal or dream which you believe you can deliver)

2. Collect people to believe in you and your passion and abilities. (Successful leaders surround themselves with people who believe in them, challenge them and keep them on the ground throughout their journey)

3. Keep being curious and challenge the status quo. (Its Not why, but why not?  Success as a leader is always about challenging, to see new and emerging opportunities).

4. Stretch the limits and push beyond your comfort zone. (If you believe in something you must push beyond the known to open up new possibilities, you can only do this if you stretch yourself)

5. Keep researching your vision (Leaders too often create a vision and then stop developing, stop redefining and stop seeing how the market is changing until their vision fails)

These five #businesstips will help leaders see and move beyond the certainty of what they can see in business and develop the #mindset and #robustness as a leader. Leadership is not a natural gift, its takes time and continual investment in development and redeveloping your skills to face and succeed in leading people to face new challenges beyond the certainty of what already exists.


Richard Gourlay

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Deconstructing Leadership Development

Developing leadership is the most effective investment any enterprise can make in its people. It is the most effective investment any organisation can invest in, but it is also one of the most misunderstood investments organisations often make. 

For organisations to achieve success across the complete basket of performance measures, from top-line sales growth, operations through to shareholder returns, developing the current and next generation of leadership is the core driver of tangible and intangible success.

The challenge for organizations is to understand the context of the leadership they need which varies over time. This is one of the key challenges I face when working with organizations, what type of skills do they need to develop within their organization; all depend upon where they are today and where they are trying to get to tomorrow. That context defines organizations immediate and foreseeable skill needs in its leadership, which once delivered, will open up the next set of leadership skills, which an organization then needs to deploy.

There are a huge number of leadership skills which leaders will need and use at differing times, these can be broken into three main groups.

Strategic Leadership Skills

The traditional skills leaders are most often selected for by shareholders to deliver and therefore need to develop are in defining the vision of the organization and in shaping the organization to achieve that vision. These primary role of the leader as a strategic business developer are often the most challenging to leaders as it is the most difficult role to deliver, mainly because it is the one undertaken the least and the most high risk to undertake.

Operational Leadership Skills

The second set of leadership skills based around day-to-day operational skills include acting as a role modeling, decision maker, situational leadership, and shaper create leaders who are good at adapting to changing circumstances.

Advanced Leadership Skills

The third set of leadership skills often defined as the soft skills, which always include communication at there core, are have been defined under skill sets such as emotional intelligence, motivation skills and succession planning. These skills, often seen as higher skill sets are often the defining ones in what makes leaders stand out in their field and why some organizations become benchmarks of success.

By redefining leadership skills into these three sets of strategic, operational and advanced skills, it helps leaders see what skills they need to develop to be effective in context to their needs and the organisations requirements. Leaders are not only real people, but they operate in real time within their organizations business cycles. Where the business is in that cycle drives the types of key performance characteristics, which the leadership skills need to deliver. That makes the definition of what skills a leader needs to deliver harder to define; it all depends of where the organization is in terms of performance results.      

Too many leadership support programs are sheep dip sessions of theoretical skills rather than bespoke packages focused around defined needs at stages of organizational and person needs.  This is often why leadership and development programs don’t deliver the anticipated results. The second reason why many leadership programs not deliver results is because they are theoretical in nature, rather than practical in application. So leaders don’t get to apply what they have learnt relative to their precise situation. This is compounded by a third failure of leadership development programs is that too many are in reality mutual support clinics, piling leaders into a mixed group of leaders and potential leaders all with differing skill development needs.

In constructing leadership development programs it is therefore important to put the context of where the organization is within the business cycle as well as the individual needs to the leaders themselves. The range of skills which leaders need across the three types of skill sets are significant, and while all are important, recent studies by McKinsey and others show that the most effective four skills that ultimately define leadership effectiveness are:-

1. Diverse Network Perspectives   

Successful effective leadership relies upon being outward looking by establishing effective networks with other leaders in differing sectors, differing cycles, sectors, and personality types, this provides leaders with the ability to base their decisions on sound outward viewing analysis and avoid the many biases to which inwards decisions are often prone. 

2. Being Results focused

Nothing succeeds like success in business; successful leaders follow through their plans with a passion and determination, by being results orientated leaders drive their people forward improving other aspects of their organization to support results through efficiency and productivity towards those results.  

3. Effective Problem Solving

The skill in in gathering relevant information from the tidal wave of data and converting it into intelligence necessary through effective analysis to be able to solve problems effectively is a vitally effective skill. This skill set enables effective leaders to take control of situations with one touch decision making.

4. Supportive Leaders

Giving time to listen to others, with an open mindedness to understand others challenges builds trust and is seen to inspire subordinates in their performance. Investing time in people and teams providing them with ideas to overcome blocks and supporting progress, is the final vital skill leaders need to have to be effective.  

These four core skills make the biggest impact upon leadership effectiveness, but do not distract for the need to focus on the context in which the leadership operates.  Different business situations require different styles of leadership, but the four core leadership behaviours above are a constant across all leadership situations and transcend the three sets of leadership skills which all leaders face in their role, strategic, operational and advanced. 

By developing diverse networks leaders build core skills in understanding strategic perspectives. While both being results focused and effective in problem solving leaders drive their operational skill sets and through being supportive as a leader, they enable themselves to develop their advanced leadership skills in getting the most out of their people at every level. So these four core skills drive the top-line behaviours of leaders under which all other skills can be developed and delivered. Without these four core skills todays and future leaders will struggle to be truly effective leaders.

If you are looking to develop leadership skills then click here 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Leadership is about YOU

Leadership is about YOU

Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” John F. Kennedy

Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in.
Who you are as a leader

When ever I look at any organisation I am in effect seeing the style and type of leader who runs it, their character shows through.

From the first online impression the brand portrays, to the real impression I feel when I walk through is front door and meet the people, the impact of the leadership is everywhere. Good leadership makes a good impression throughout, it should be seen and felt at every level.

I recently arrived at a new client to see that their disabled parking was at the other end of the car park from the front door, while the executives had named parking bays right next to the front door.

My first question to the directors was why? Followed up with the obvious second question, what first impression do you want to make to people about your values as a business? After a pregnant pause (and implausible excuse that HSE said we needed to keep the front area easily clear so the fire brigade could quickly be deployed), the directors looked at me and said 'we do have a written equal opportunities policy in place' and 'no-one has ever complained'. I then asked what impression this first impression gave to their staff, customers and suppliers? They said 'no idea, but now you mention it there are always a few staff comments when it rains about them and us culture'.

I often see great leadership happen through the delivery of small details which great results can be achieved. For any leader making change happen successfully relies as much on the big picture plan as the implementation of the minute detail. That detail delivery can only be achieved through the character of the leaders themselves. Recognising and using that individual style to mould and shape how leaders decide to lead is fundamental to leadership success.

Great leadership is about making change by demonstrating character-based leadership skills, in other words, leading from “who you are” and not from power or position. Everyone is different and that makes every leader different. Who you are is something you cannot change, successful leadership is about developing your style, based around who you are not on trying to be something you aren't.  Trying to be someone else, from Richard Branson to Steve Jobs maybe fashionable, but its not who you are, so learn from them but don't try to be them.

The idea of character-based leadership resonates with leadership advisors today. Why? Well in my example earlier the leaders were impressed by vehicles, thats how they valued their status, hence their focus as leaders was on highlighting that attribute of who they were. When they thought about what was really important to them they immediately realised what impression they wanted to provide and the impact their current focus was making. Reflecting to my observation and then positively responding to it, told us more about who they are and what was really important to them.

By the time a visited my car obsessed customer the following week, the personalised director parking places at the front door had been replaced by disabled parking area, and the directors cars were parked alongside everyone else in the general parking. They recognised their characters as leaders were being reflected in their business, and not for the best. The result of that simple change was that staff started to engage with them more openly and the staff survey a few months later reported that people felt more valued, when questioned further staff reported that everyone was now seen to be treated equally. 
Great leadership is always about change, not just making it but really understanding it and how to pre-empt where possible and react where necessary to it. Forward planning is the most obvious way in which leaders pre-empt their market. Planning for tomorrow as an inherent culture is one key attribute which sustainable successful organisations possess, but it has to be matched by a culture of implementation. Planning is only a dream if nothing changes. The ability to see that and make that simple immediate change, reflects an openness to change and an approach to listening and implementing change, not just talking about it.

What changes?

In business, everything changes all the time, innovative new products and services become mainstream, then classics then legacy then discontinued. Change is the law of life as John F. Kennedy said, great leadership is about looking for change.

Some changes can be strategic, such as new markets or new products etc but play to who leaders are come from soft leadership skills by playing on who you are as a leader. Playing to you and your style is often as important in delivering effective leadership.

Like to know more about how to lead your business successfully? then see How to Take the Guess Work out of your Business Success

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Do you have a plan for Growth?

Do you have a plan for GROWTH?

Do you have a clear vision of where you are going to take your business? Are you sure that everything you do today to increase turnover, acquire more clients and reduce the amount of time you work in your business is actually working? Successful businesses develop strategic plans to move their business forward, to grow and succeed.

The first role af any owner or director is to have a plan, from star-up onwards (not for the banks) but for you to own and deliver. That plan needs to be kept alive, fresh and driven to focus on success and succeeding.

GROWTH needs a strategy!

A strategy is a researched approach supported by a detailed plan of continual action steps. The reason strategies are so vital is they keep things moving, and in business, if you are not going forward, you’re going backwards, and that can happen very fast. So, if you want your business to be successful and/or pay you more, having a strategy that focuses on growth is a must!

If you have no formal strategy to take your business to the next level you need to refocus your priorities right now to create growth, here's the first stage of a growth strategy framework:

Step 1 Create a clear vision of what you want to achieve:

There’s an old saying that you can’t hit a target you can’t see. Well your vision is your target. Your vision needs to be very clear in terms of what you want from your business, by turnover, profit, customer type or all three? What’s your ideal position in that market, do you want to be known as the premier supplier of your product or service, or a low cost or niche player?

What about your personal goals to support your lifestyle?  You need to be very clear about what you want and what you don’t want. Have a clear focus that will keep you aligned with your long term goal for you and your business. 

Cowden Consulting provides Strategic Planning Workshops which enable owners to create their vision of what they want to achieve. Our SPW faciliated workshops provide the opportunity for owners to work on their business not in their business. To learn more about Strategic Planning Workshops (SPW's) or contact us by clicking Cowden Consulting to discuss your needs, or go to our website to learn more about us.

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