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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.

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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.