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Collaberation Influence Leadership Personal development Strategy

Why context is so important in delivering a message

My coach always reminded me “context equals meaning”. Without context you message is lost and we leave the audience confused.

Context is so important in conversation and in delivering a message. I observe it in others but rarely identify when I am not doing it! It struck me when seeing one of the leaders from our company talking about having the critical conversation the conversations we avoid, it was a great message to leaders, but it lacked authenticity and context as there was no personal story. 

From this I learned  what was missing from my presentations. When delivering the vision for my team for the year ahead at a recent kick off I used a story to describe a customer who has mortgaged their house to set up their business, the stress of a growing payroll and the responsibility of collecting enough cash to ensure all your staff get paid, they have a billing issue that drags on for 6 months and the stress of this large bill which is incorrect. The message: Take extra special care with your customers, get the wider team involved to resolve critical issues for the customer. The feedback from the team was incredible, they said no one has made them think about the customers perspective and what they are dealing with.

Key learning is always spend more time on the scene setting, background and why you want the audience to listen, all these give context to your message.

Categories
Coaching Entrepreneurship Influence Intrepenuership Leadership Strategy

How do you construct and deliver strategy ?

Over the years I have experimented with the construction and delivery of strategy.  In the fast changing world we live in, we must always be prepared to revisit or evolve our strategies.

Here are the 6 steps to setting a strategy and delivering a strategy:

  1. Seek Feedback. Seek feedback from your peers, boss, Prospects, Customers and Suppliers: What do you need to focus on?  What is the CEO’s vision for the business in the years ahead? How are others responding to the vision?  Seek out their inputs into what you need to be focused on. What are the priorities by stakeholder? Where is the overlap?  Distil into 3 to 4 key areas. If you can note a couple of key activities required for each.
  2. Run a strategy session: Go to the widest audience possible to share the key areas and flush out the detail.  I sent a note to hundreds of employees across the business on the basis only 40% would turn up. That was true, but even better the spread across the business and the delight of being invited to participate was overwhelming. I was told I was mad to invite so many, but my strategy was validated with externals who knew the value of engagement early.  The input and energy in the room was incredible and my Strategic plan when I walked away, had been challenged in way not possible if you are limited to your immediate peers and team. The credit team had never been involved in this way before in building strategy and felt they could influence the direction and support what was happening.
  3. Develop plan on the page. You have now got enough on your 3-4 pillars of strategy to have a high level plan and what you expect to achieve.  This is not a final version, because has you navigate each pillar you will continue to learn and develop the strategy.
  4. Check in with stakeholders (peers, boss, Customers, Suppliers) Check in with the plan on the page, understand from them data points, potential risks, so that you go to the next stage which is putting the plan into action.  Continue to check in quarterly with stakeholders to ensure you are on the right track and also get feedback on progress.
  5. Monthly bulletin/ Webinar Once you are underway, you need to communicate, communicate communicate. How your team is progressing? What are the insights? What help you need?  Go far and wide, as people in large corporate are so removed from what is happening in other areas, they are keen to know and often keen to support.  Don’t limit your thinking, as the inputs and support can come from far and wide. Continually reference the 3-4 pillars. It helps people understand where the activity and insights fit into your strategy.  The structure helps everyone understand what your team is doing and how it fits into the overall plan.
  6. Your Team The most important part of delivering the strategy. Working closely on their plan how it aligns to the pillars of the strategy. Empower them to lead initiatives in the strategy, including evolving with peers. This is a great stretch for your team.

Remember no one expects you to have all the answers, the reason for sharing strategy far and wide is for it to be challenged and it to evolve into a highly successful vehicle for delivering a key strategy to the business.  Sharing as you learn with your wider audience takes everyone on the journey, easy to digest in small chunks of learning, as opposed to brain dump when you have worked on a pillar of strategy for over 6 months.

Being able to develop and delivery strategy to a business is a key leadership skill.

Categories
Coaching Influence Strategy

Why I can’t get cut through on my strategy?

strategy4This is a question I am often asked by mentees . My answer today is very different to a few years ago.

When we are attached to an outcome our strategy, we are so focused on ourselves we don’t listen to others, we don’t hear the objections and therefore don’t address the concerns head on. Ignore objections at your peril, as these are the opportunities to engage and path the way to cut through.

Here are the 5 things you need to do to sell your ideas or strategy:

1. Connect with stakeholders, build trust. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Understand their drivers and needs before sharing your strategy. As Dale Carnegie wrote in how to win friends and influence people ‘first seek to understand before you are understood’.

2. Ask questions of stakeholders, present your thoughts on the strategy, draw out their concerns, what they like and what is not clear. Collaborate to evolve the strategy. No one person can come up with a strategy on their own, its always the culmination of many inputs, experiences and knowledge

Don’t present at a Fait Accompli

3. Address every objection. Ignore objections at your peril. Objections show an interest, but never move on, without enquiring, why are you asking this question? go deep, as the objection raised often masks the real concerns.

4. Challenge your own thinking. Attachment without being open to others views can be career limiting.  Thank others for their contribution and ensure you acknowledge individuals for their valuable input and evolution of the strategy

5. If you are unsuccessful, learn and move on. I mean move on, let it go, what did you discover along the way.  Journal or share your leanings .

Success takes patience and time.  Take others on the journey, collaborate, acknowledge inputs of others into the strategy.