Phil on November 9, 2011
Well we are in the doldrums economically; however we are not going to remain there as the human requirement to drive forward to seek better times begins to take effect. Quite simply when you are the bottom of a well you have two choices drown or start climbing and I believe that we are now beginning our ascent. So as we emerge into a brave new world that will be very different from all that has gone before how are we preparing for it?
Most businesses are anchored in the world of current balance sheets, reducing overheads and expenses, laying off staff and acquiring investment. All of which can have a severe negative impact on a business and its ethos, few have had the sense to take stock of their position strategically and seize the moment. A former Prime minister who lived through harder times once said:
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”. – Winston Churchill
So how do we seize the current moment for sure the economic recovery will be slow and for sure the competition will be tough and getting tougher and better. So how do you stand out as an organisation that gives added value?
People buy from people, people do business with people so the answer is there: Develop your people in preparation for the new world, develop your people to take your organisation forward, develop your people to show that you care and are prepared to invest in their futures as well as your own. Customers not bosses are the ones who ultimately pay wages unless you are fortunate enough to have found a generous benefactor.
I am constantly amazed at the lack of preparedness of UK companies to train their staff to gain competitive advantage. UK companies normally train to conform to legislation. A bout 80% of training is paid for by government subsidies and the popular belief is that government funds training. Unfortunately most of this training is below NVQ level 3. Companies don’t train when they are busy- because there isn’t the time and don’t train when they are slack – because there isn’t the money. Yet if an organisation wants to recover or better its market position in the face of improving competition now is the time to train. Now is the time to give staff the tool set and the culture to provide an organisation with the competitive advantage. Particularly in a future world that is quickly looking very different from the one that took us to the current recession. We have to do something positive to seize the opportunity.
As that same Prime Minister said:
“For myself I am an optimist- it does not seem to be much use being anything else” Winston Churchill
Posted in: Leadership, Motivation, Organisational Change or Transformation, Recession Leadership
Dave on November 7, 2011
The question is posed in the context of the current economic situation and your business’ approach to ‘dealing’ with this. If your answer is “survive” I would suggest you are likely to be undermining your chances of success by adopting a limiting perspective and attitude. It is possible your thinking will be constraining your business options by the inflexibility of your view of the current situation. My view is success is all about achieving what you set out to do and avoiding failure is something very different. An approach Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, articulated well in his quote, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward…”
Beware of the power of ‘spin’ and guard against it! It was widely reported last week the UK achieved a third quarter growth of 0.5%; furthermore, the global economy grew by about 4.5% during the same period. Yet our economic news was still dominated by a ‘doom and gloom’ perspective. The reality is growth is neither recession nor regression and ‘good news’ does not make good news copy. As an aside, I know of one CEO of a regional chamber of commerce who was unable to get his good news publically aired last week. Given these growth figures and that we enjoy unprecedented access (and support) to the global market place, areas of opportunity must exist to explore and exploit.
‘Niche’ is not always nice and can be a barrier to flexibility. The business ‘We Only Press Green Shirts’ is going to suffer if there are insufficient people who want their green shirts pressing. The skills, assets and resources required to press green shirts are the same as those required to press shirts of all colours, not to mention a vast array of other garments. Overly simple perhaps but my point is clear; if your client base or market share is reducing what is it you do which can be applied in another way to make a profit?
Perception really matters when assessing the future of a business. If the diminishing client base of “We Only Press Green Shirts” is seen as being due to the real term reduction in disposable income available for a discretionary spend service, I suspect conventional thinking would most likely lead to assuming the business is destined to fail. However, if we consider the client base from a different perspective it may be possible to see an opportunity. For example, those who are working in the UK are tending to continue to work long hours and most working families are reported to be struggling to allocate the time needed for domestic work.
So, are you struggling to survive or trying to thrive? Do you possess the flexibility of perspective to recognise opportunity where others see only threat? Do you have the strength of mind and determination to succeed? What is your strategy for succeeding in the current economic situation and will it be sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of a dynamic market place?
Posted in: Motivation, Strategy
Phil on November 1, 2011
The Rugby World Cup brings us a fine example of how not to lead and how a team can be successful despite its leader. Leadership has to exist at every level within a team if that team is going to perform consistently well. Leadership will influence and inspire team members to ever greater deeds. But leadership is about ownership and responsibility as well as empathy and understanding
Imanol Harinordoquy summed it up when he said the French team ignored coach Marc Lievremont at the World Cup because he was “lost”. After Lievremont called some of his squad ” spoiled brats” because they went against his instructions not to celebrate their Welsh victory.
“He was lost, I will not miss him,” said number eight Harinordoquy. ”It was our adventure. It was meant to be the nice experience of 30 men. We had to free ourselves from his supervision. He cast the stone at us too often. When something goes wrong, we’re all in the same boat. There are no good or bad guys.”
Great teamwork requires leadership to be inclusive rather than autocratic, developing a feeling of us rather than me and them. To do that trust has to be earned on both sides. Trust is earned more easily during testing, difficult and fallow times than it is when things are easy. Just look at the UK’s national cohesion delivered by Hitler through the Second World War. Trust is hard earned but can be lost very quickly if empathy and understanding are missing.
The human phenomenon that is the catalyst of trust is effective communication. Effective communication is open honest and not in any way ambiguous. And communication is about the effect on the receiver rather than the intended message of the sender. So again Empathy and understanding of the receiver’s position is key to effective communication.
Teams are made up of individuals who are entrusted by the team to carry out the roles and duties they are responsible for. So individual responsibility for performance is vital to performance, yet there is also a corporate responsibility held by the team. This is particularly so in professional sport where fan bases and even nations are watching expectantly. Professional sportsmen are no different from businessmen in terms of responsibility. It is here where modern society has a good deal to answer for in terms of allowing the derogation of responsibility. Responsibility is about accepting blame and accepting feedback and using both to foster improvement; all too often responsibility is offloaded like a hospital pass to the nearest source of external influence attributable to the action or behaviour. Externalising protects the weak but also prevents individuals from the identification and self realisation of the key areas requiring development. Sportsmen need to shoulder both individual and corporate responsibility.
Sports teams must be held accountable for all their results, not just the good ones. Sir Clive Woodward is a fine example of someone who built a team around him to deliver success and in that delivery every individual knew their role and owned their individual and the corporate result good or bad. An outstanding team is results oriented and every individual owns their contribution to that performance and owns the whole performance; leaders just as much as any other direct contributor. For that to happen leaders need not blame and carry out retribution but instead they need to honestly identify failure and weakness and coach and develop to influence improvement.
Leadership is all about ownership and responsibility wherever that leadership may be exercised. Self leadership through to corporate leadership entail responsibility and ownership.
Posted in: Leadership, Sports Leadership, Team Building, Uncategorized