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Personal development

Gail Kelly Live Lead Learn

Thanks to Sue Davies for the loan of this book. Read in less than a week which is totally unusual for me! What a great read. Inspiring and humble.

She is open and honest about her challenges, but more importantly her vision and clarity of what was needed to change the banks is inspirational and exceptionally perceptive. Every CEO needs to have spent time in front line customer situations, without that experience business is too inwardly focused.

Her grasp of the challenges for bank tellers led her to restructure the banks to be centred around the customer and not the internal needs of business. Trust is king and you cannot build trust with your customers if you don’t listen.

In her book Gail quoted “I really battled to have commonsense changes imbedded. I encountered lots of ‘Yes, Minister’ behaviour with the team hoping my attention would move to other things and their lives would return to normal.

In my experience too often leaders are too busy “spraying the next initiative” to follow up and employees become fatigued and realise that they are better to lie low. Persistence in the same goal is uncommon, as when there is not gratification in an outcome, execs move on. The difference with Gail was it was imbedded in her personal values, she was never going to move on, until the customer was served in the way she needed them to be.

I loved Gails honesty about dropping the ball on a number of issues, just because she did not have the bandwidth to manage. Her openness is very refreshing and for anyone who is juggling a lot of conflicting priorities it is not surprising.

Her husband Allan was a rock, but also someone who encouraged Gail to step up with every opportunity and did his fair share around the home.

This is a book that inspires, in spite of Gail’s upbringing in South Africa during apartheid, she has tremendous humility and ability to seek out the truth. She never stops learning and that is something that is important to me today. A must read, regardless of you career, there are so many important life lessons in this brilliant read.

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Entrepreneurship Leadership Start up Strategy

In the kingdom of the blind

The favorite saying of my boss of 15 years and mentor Des Miller. I find myself quoting this saying more often these days and each time I recall the many amazing lessons I learnt from Des.

All to often business tries to many activities at once, leading to nothing succeeding. Focus and dominating a particular market, really allows excellent execution.

A few weeks ago I was speaking to someone I competed with in business nearly a decade ago and he recalled the outstanding success for the product and market, he said he would not even compete, even though he worked for a gorilla business, as the business I worked for owned the domain.

In the telco sector there are few that own a niche. Regional players, sector players ie hotels, schools and one that specialised in 1-50 employees in business and nailed the proposition. In a market where Managed service providers and Information technology providers are owning the customer, the challenge for the pure carriers is clear. Again the lesson is relevant: What piece of the kingdom are you going to own?

In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

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Personal development

Clean up your own back yard, before criticising others

It’s an easy path to take to criticise others when you are not doing well. However this always reflects poorly on you. I was reminded of this important lesson in a meeting recently where we were brainstorming and were asked to only look within the current year. I automatically only looked at the items that were within my sphere of control.

In a debrief after the session I realised I automatically look at only the things I can control, as beyond that the time and effort involved is significantly greater. My colleagues had a laundry list, very few were within the sphere of control.

Focusing on what you can control to create the right outcome is far more successful than being dependent on others. I use the analogy of a neglected back yard, the weeds are out of control and you cannot see the fence at the back of the yard. Focus on clearing up your yard, before looking over the fence at your neighbours and commenting on how neglected their garden is.

In a previous chapter of my career, I took on a underperforming sales team. I was constantly asked about what others were doing in other areas and always said, I have enough to sort out in my own backyard, that I don’t have the capacity or time to worry about everyone else’s.

That focus and strategy led to turning around an underperforming sales team. That focus has allowed my teams to flourish as we are always maximising what we have control of, instead of consuming time worrying about what everyone else is doing.

Dales Carnegie illustrates this lesson well in his How to win friends and influence people book, Chapter on don’t criticise, condemn and complain.

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Coaching Influence Judgement Leadership Personal development

Three key takeaways from Interview with Jennifer Palmieri

Three key takeaways from podcast interview of Jennifer Palmieri who was Communications Director on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign by Julia Gillard

This podcast was more than a review of the recent US election it was all about why women don’t make it to the top.

https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/a-podcast-of-ones-own-with-julia-gillard/id1466658814?i=1000494895703

There were three great takeaways from Jennifer in her interview related to commentary about women in leadership:

1. There is just something about her.

2. She’s too ambitious

3. Great Number 2

Do these words sound so familiar? The language of bias.

In the last decade the language of bias is being exposed and shamed in social media. Awareness and education is key as we all have bias.

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Personal development

Don’t trash the past

This is a key learning in leadership. Many leaders come in and to make themselves look good, they need to talk about the past in a disingenuous way. This is demoralising for staff who have been part of the journey.

Many years ago I managed a turnaround for an under performing sales team, I made the mistake of trashing the past, three years later I was reminded of how demoralising it was by my peer. I had no idea the impact I had.

With this approach you treating everyone the same, when it may be due to poor leadership, poor culture and any number of factors that the individuals have been subjected to.

Recently tasked with turning around a team, I recalled those important lessons, ensuring the team where recognised and that the transition was no reflection on the team. A critical lesson for taking people on the journey.

With a different perspective I could see the commitment and effort of each member of the team and appreciate their individual contribution. I felt for each and everyone of them, as the situation was not of their making.

Don’t ever trash the past.

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Personal development

Strong ideas loosely held is the path to success.

Often our opinions are not heard by leaders, whether bias, credibility or other reasons. In that moment when there is no acknowledgement or you are shot down or the conversation moves on to someone who is listened to far more than you, you know that you flogging a dead horse. One of my colleagues has a saying “put it in the drawer and dust it down in two years”. When she told me this, I was puzzled. The reason: when I don’t get heard I keep going in the hope the message will land. Repetition irritates others and hope is never a strategy, its better to take my colleagues advice and move on and put the suggestion in the drawer for another day.

Strong opinions are often based on bias, so we need to consider our first position as an initial hypothesis, until we uncover further information to develop an opinion. Source https://medium.com/@ameet/strong-opinions-weakly-held-a-framework-for-thinking-6530d417e364. We need to actively seek out contradictory information instead of clinging to an opinion.

In the words of John Gruber: Strong ideas loosely held is the path to success. The inference is not to cling to your original idea, decision, or forecast even in the face of contradictory information. In fact, actively seek the contradictory information — this provides you with data to iteratively improve the situation or forecast, until you get to the right answer.

If you have not disproved your original opinion, when the opportunity comes knocking, you dust down your opinion and off you go for round 2! However by now you may also have a greater groundswell of support and evidence, but what was implemented is not working.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book Blink: the power of thinking without thinking , makes the argument that people frequently make some of their best decisions in mere seconds. We think without thinking, sizing up situations and determining how we feel about someone or something based not on voluminous new information, but rather on our accumulated experience.

The alternative is that other facts or information have emerged, which demonstrates your opinion or idea was ill informed and its time to well and truly move on. This is also a great personal learning to reflect on what bias created the strong opinion in the first place?

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Book Quotes Coaching Entrepreneurship Influence Personal development Strategy

The Challenger Spirt

This book was given to me by one of my team. I love reading and learning, so there is no better gift.

challenger2_smaller

The Challenger Spirit book written by Khurshed Dehnugara and Claire Genkai Breeze, is a book written before its time. The key to being a challenger is ‘does it have to be like this?’ https://relume.co.uk/the-challenger-spirit/

Claire starts with two lasting influences on her life ‘your work is your love made visible’ by Khalil Gibran and the 5th century Philo ‘be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle’

The book is full of gems and sections of questions to ask yourself, very thought provoking. The highlights for me:

  • Our sales teams are service oriented with up selling and cross sale being a spin off from a conversation rather than the purpose of the conversation.
  • Establishment leaders v’s Challenger Leaders: Establishment leaders have four blindfolds: Arrogance, Avoidance, Agreement and Antagonism. The book describes each one and how it shows up.
  • Challenger organisations and their leaders are more likely to fail when they imitate rather than disturb their establishment competitors. They fail when they default to what is already known to be successful.
  • The process of constant feedback and alteration in your brain only begins to slow down in your eight decade
  • Once you have made some positive and bold choices created your dream together and engaged people in it, the uncertainty of the environment quickly becomes much easier to navigate

The chapter on growing old disgracefully is all about staying lean and hungry. And what good looks like: say what you believe regardless of political implications. The way you deliver it is the key to success as I have learnt over the years in corporate.

I have always been a challenger, in every aspect of my life. I live by the saying “if it not scary its not worth doing’ and my purpose is all about challenging others to operate outside their comfort zones.  

This book is all about how to challenge well and even when the norms of the establishment look like a better way to get on in your career, staying true to what you believe and your values is the right thing to do and always deliver the best outcome for your company.

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High Performing Teams Personal development Strategy

Strategy: how do you know you are on the right track?

When do you know strategy is working? When all roles in the business can articulate the goal and how they are getting there. At Salesforce Marc Benioff used the V2MOM https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2013/04/how-to-create-alignment-within-your-company.html to align individual and team goals to strategy. This method is the best I have seen in alignment in an organisation

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With Strategy, there are four scenarios that play out in a any organisation.

1. strategy from the top is non existent or is not delivering, so teams create their own.

2. Strategy from the top is interpreted in so many ways that teams are disjointed, failing to align to deliver the outcomes.

3. As of 1, but results from one section leads to strategy formation from the top, creating alignment and delivery of results

4. Strategy set and goal clear, driving teams to work together to get the outcome.

The sad truth is that many organisations try lots of tactical activity delivering nothing, it does not need to be this way

How do you know your strategy is on the right track?

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Book Quotes Career planning Entrepreneurship Influence Leadership Strategy

Your a CEO of business working for the owners of the business and you are ready to move on.

Your a CEO of business with non execs that own the business and you are ready to move on, as you feel stifled. You love the business and you believe the business has great potential. You are restrained by the founders and owners, you are ready to do something else.

Owners who create, built and grow the business after many years decide to step back due to retirement, other business opportunities, personal circumstance and appoint CEO. The CEO is limited by the law of lid. First chapter of John Maxwell’s book on the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership  https://www.amazon.com/21-Irrefutable-Laws-Leadership-Anniversary/dp/078528837621 irrefutable. Often the CEO is restricted in where he/she takes the business due to the founders expectations, thinking and interference in the daily business.

Over time the CEO becomes frustrated and look outside for a new career opportunity, when the answer could be to look at alternative ownership structures for the business. The owners may want to sell out, realise their investment and they are looking for exit, as CEO you can facilitate by an industry buy out, private equity sale or a management buy out.

Each needs a thorough understanding of the market and the opportunity for the buyer. It’s a time to call on your network for assistance, advice and introductions. Once you have researched the possibilities, then approach the owners for their support.

The worst that can happen is the owners are not interested in selling business, the only thing you have lost is time. On the other hand if they are keen you are now running your own business.

The alternative to leaving may very well be the best opportunity to back yourself and give back to the owners.

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Entrepreneurship Influence Intrepenuership Leadership Personal development Sponsor Strategy

Opportunity to work abroad

working abroad (2)At age 44 I had the opportunity to work abroad with an Australian company that I had worked for for 4 years. I set up the European arm of Quofore a mobiles apps solution for Consumer Goods field representatives and we had done very well, so I was invited to come to Australia and become Managing Director for APAC.

Personally I have grown as a result, especially the opportunity to expand in to Asia, where my team landed a large contract with Unilever in China for 10,000 mobile users across 2000 cities. Ten years on, this is the success I am most proud of.  The reason:

  • Setting up a business in China of which I am extremely appreciative of all the advice and support from Austrade.
  • Delivering one of the most successful ROI projects for Unilever globally
  • Delivering a complex project in less than 10 months.

In Quofore I had worked with the global CEO and CFO for over 15 years, I had extreme trust and I was treated always exceptionally well.

Since joining corporate which I did just over 7 years ago I have had similar opportunities. In July last year I was given an opportunity to drive a new segment of the business, something I had been doing as a side project. My new boss backed me gave me a team and said there is no one more driven than you to make it work. This opportunity was to grow a $300 million business from 0 in the next three years.

I was amazed at the number of people who said to me, why are you taking on this opportunity you had a far more prestigious role before managing a team looking after the larger accounts.  Seven months on those same people, now get it. Proving yourself through taking calculated risks that are high profile is a great way to get noticed.  I am indebted to my boss for supporting me and creating the opportunity.