What is it about bad news? It sells well, travels fast and seems to catch our attention. Our 24-hour news cycle is unfortunately built on it. Despite all the views to the contrary there is nothing wrong with communication in most companies. All and every staff survey will put communication at the top of things to improve, and yet bad news will get around a team at the speed of gossip.
Organisations leak news and despite all the efforts to maintain secrecy, people inevitably know something about what is going on. Many leaders endeavor to cloak everything on a ‘need to know’ basis, as if there is a risk of everyone knowing what’s going on. The trouble with this is, people talk and if there is bad news brewing, they will automatically assume the very worst. So even if you have dire news, let people know, be transparent, go broad in your reach for ideas and input, and trust your team to handle it well.
Have one plan; make it very open and transparent, super simple...
People are human, would seem to be self evident; yet do we treat our teams that way? Are they just organic machines? Of course not! Sometimes as leaders we become so fixed on our goals and KPIs we forget we are hiring flesh and blood, flawed, inconsistent and subject to outside influences. They are not unlike you and I.
Occasionally I wake up and don’t want to do today, it’s not my usual good morning God, it’s more like good God it’s morning. We all have families and relationships that aren’t always perfect; or is it just me.
Build in some grace and some flexibility for your team. Don’t expect 100% performance all the time. Allow for some ups and downs. Have the conversation when it’s not going well, not from a ‘you should’ perspective but from a ‘how can we help’ stance. Who knows what others are going through? Asking the question...
The marketplace is moving at a staggering rate, digital disruption is everywhere. Your business model is under duress regardless of your industry. Business models used to fail every ten to twenty years now it’s every three to four years; sometimes less. Recently Spotify disrupted iTunes, the iconic disruptor of the music industry. “No innovation no business!”
To move fast enough organisations and their leadership have to be inherently agile, encouraging innovation to be in their DNA. Only in agility and innovation is there the likelihood of sustainability. If you don’t innovate, you die. Look at Nokia, absolute global dominance gone in less than a decade. They ignored the smartphone revolution and became irrelevant very quickly. Their response was to defend the status quo. This is a very natural reaction. Defend what you know, but now we have to embrace what will kill us.
The scale and...
Cutting costs is a simple way to improve profitability, in theory at least. However in the real world of a dynamic marketplace, imperfect people, unforeseen circumstances, collateral damage and unintended consequences, the spreadsheet seems to lie.
No one has ever cut their way to sustainable profitability. Then when the result isn’t met, a new round of cost cutting and the inevitable and perennial restructuring continues. The axe is not your friend.
How do we overcome this somewhat inevitable cycle?
Get more than the accountants on the job. The pure financial perspective is still only one view, albeit important. Whilst keeping costs flexible and under control is an important factor; investing in people, future capabilities, and bolstering your value proposition through innovation and service, are what will ultimately grow your business.
So it’s not “either or” it’s “both and”; now and the future, costs and investments, people and profit....
Do you find that small things slow you or your team down? Do you get dragged into issues that are really inconsequential in the scheme of things? What you need in momentum and lots of it! Momentum crushes problems.
John Maxwell has a great metaphor that I’m going to borrow, because it’s a great one. John talks about a train being in a station waiting for passengers. When it’s ready to go, a log of wood is placed in front of it. This seemingly small obstacle will make the train unable to depart; spinning its wheels, unable to move. Yet, if the same log were placed on a track when the train was moving at full speed, it would provide no resistance at all. Probably not even noticed, as the momentum of the train overcomes the resistance, of a now insignificant obstacle.
The same is true with our workplaces and teams. An organisation with no momentum stumbles over small issues, politics and...
Do you feel like you are always working working working, with little or underwhelming fruit? Does your workday leave you feeling tired, ineffective and unfulfilled? This is actually very common in leaders and their teams.
Sometimes we have to slow down to speed up; and build some white space into our hectic schedules. We are not wired for a sprint; we’re built for a marathon. Like all good runners we have to pace ourselves if we want to win. As the great piece of racing advice says, “to finish first, first you have to finish”.
There is a very good physical reason for this. Our physiology is built so that under stress we operate closer to the ‘fight or flight’ part of our brain, further done the brain stem. We stop operating effectively in the frontal cortex, where our ideas, creativity and higher thoughts are active. This is why we have great ideas and an almost constant stream of schemes and dreams, once we’ve relaxed on holiday. Or that good...
Is your team not operating well? Do you seem to have ongoing people issues in your business? Here’s some bad news, that may turn out to be good news.
Often your team is a reflection of you. Leaders set the tone and a team will take their standards and even their ethics from you. The standard you walk by will become the team standard.
We all have a need for self-awareness; especially as leaders. In my experience and opinion, high EQ and a willingness to be vulnerable goes a long way to learning how to be an effective leader. The core of that journey is embracing your authentic self.
As Dr Brene Brown eloquently puts it, “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be; embrace who you are.”
It behooves us to take personal responsibility, and recognise that our team’s seeming dysfunctions, may be rooted in our own behaviour. The team is watching...