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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.

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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.

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Influence Leadership Legacy Strategy

All the focus on rebuilding trust, when the focus should be on how not to lose it in the first place.

Corporate’sTrust need execs to be coin operated to achieve the results, however, this behaviour can completely destroy trust with the customers, so how do you reconcile the situation?

The Royal commission uncovered some awful truths about sales cultures in the big banks. How is this different from any large corporate?  As a non executive director how do you really know the culture of the sales organisation?  As a CEO how do you address keeping shareholders happy by delivering results ensuring the Sales culture is not damaging your reputation and losing business in the long term.

Here are 4 key areas to focus on:

  1. Is there diversity in the Sales Leadership? Without diversity norms can be created that are totally unacceptable.
  2. What are customers saying about the experience?  What are they really saying?
  3. What are the Sales people saying about the environment? What is the staff turnover?  Another key indicator to how individuals feel, are they under pressure to behave in a way that does not sit with their values.
  4. Does it attract graduates?  Graduates are vocal on all fronts about Sales teams and are an invaluable gauge to how a sales team is functioning.

Trust is destroyed quicker than you can build it, ensuring that the sales team behaviour is aligned to a culture that builds trust is critical.

in an article by By Aaron SkonnardCEO, Pluralsight https://www.inc.com/aaron-skonnard/why-sales-commissions-don-t-work-in-the-long-run.html, Aron states: If you’re not doing what’s in your customers’ best interests, your business will ultimately fail. That’s why it’s important to look at the conflicts of interest that arise from driving short term sales v’s delivering life time value of a customer.

One of the many graduates I have hired reminded me the other day of a conversation I had with her about selling. The story was a boutique drinks company in Melbourne who wanted us to modify the code of our mobile application to replication SAP pricing. I explained to the CEO that the cost would be high due to the complexity and the maintenance with every release would also be costly. I can do it, but you will never be happy. My recommendation is that you use a XML call to the pricing in SAP so you are using the standard pricing algorithm in the SAP application, this would be cheaper to develop and lower cost to maintain. The CEO said XXX a competitor said they could do it. I responded, I would love to take the money from you to do the work, but I know you will never be happy with the ongoing costs and overhead, therefore I respectfully decline to bid. The call ended. My Sales person Ryan was in the room when I had the conversation, he was mortified, we have lost the deal. I responded, he would never be a happy customer and he would continually lose money on the deal, believe me we are better off without the sale.

Thirty minutes later the CEO of the drinks company rang, we want to work with you. You are a trusted partner, I want to work with someone who will do the best for the company.

Its time to rethink how we motivate sales teams if you want to build the life time value of customers.

All the focus on rebuilding trust, when the focus should be on how not to lose it in the first place.