Don't Wait for Financial Difficulties Conduct a Strategic Review Today!

9/11/2014 posted in Business, Leading, Not Managing

We have seen over the last few months that many well-known businesses have been conducting strategic reviews.  Tesco (including a new CEO who interrupted his holidays), Marks and Spencer and Mothercare come to mind.  There are many more. We constantly emphasise to our clients that they should constantly conduct out strategic fitness tests. Very often, when this is done against a backdrop of falling revenues and profits and market share loss, it is probably already too late.

Strategy matters! Far too often Boards neglect those discussions because the Board agenda is already full of other important items. We therefore constantly question our clients on how much time the Board is spending on real strategic issues. Are the real difficult questions being asked?

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3 Keys Things to Remember When You’re Fired by Your Best Customer

9/8/2014 posted in Business, Leading, Not Managing, Sales

You were just informed that your company’s best customer sent an email saying they are not happy and are taking their business elsewhere. What do you do next?

Before we answer that question, let’s reflect on what led up to this point with the customer. Most of the proactive interaction with your customer probably involved things that we would never think of doing when they are unhappy. For example, you might regularly send them group emails via BCC saying that you hope they are doing ok. You might have another department call them to up sell additional services. Perhaps you may even send them gifts. Of course, if those “gifts” are in the form of your own branded merchandise, then that’s marketing… not a gift.

As a business leader, you know how to jump into action when a disaster occurs. But, what you do when the customer is almost out the door also offers insight into what you can do to avoid that situation all together.

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Holding-On to Your High Potentials Without Breaking the Bank

8/22/2014 posted in Business, Leading, Not Managing, Recruitment, Employee Motivation

Are you in a position where you have identified high potentials within your organisation but the reality is, there’s really nowhere for them to go? If you don’t review what your strategy is for identifying and nurturing high performers many will leave before they get an opportunity to join your leadership or senior executive team, and the reasons will be humdrum.

If you able to retain your high potential employees you know that this will strengthen the organisation at its core, and what’s more you will start building a robust leadership pipeline. If not, your talent pool becomes stagnant and you end up with, as Jim Collins puts it; “the wrong people on the bus”. If you have an office full of C players how can your organisation be performing at your true potential? It’s just not possible.

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Turn the Ship Around: A Book For Frustrated Leaders

8/15/2014 posted in Leading, Not Managing, Life At The Top

Our annual global spend on leadership development is estimated to be around £30bn. With this size of investment you would expect to see a demonstrable improvement in leadership capability. However, one indicator suggests that this may not be the case - levels of employee engagement have remained largely static over the last 20 years. That could be seen as a pretty damning indictment of the effectiveness of leadership and therefore leadership development overall.

There is no shortage of leadership advice out there - 21,000 books available through Amazon, a multitude of executive leadership business school programmes and a healthy private sector provision. Yet despite this, we still struggle to see a good return on investment from these resources.

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Technically an Expert but You Can't Run Your Own Business!

8/14/2014 posted in Business, Leading, Not Managing, Life At The Top


I meet plenty of so-called experts. Right now, I keep encountering SEO and SEM experts, digital consultants, social media experts, marketing agencies. They really do know their stuff but often they seem to struggle to run the really great businesses they want to run.

Ask them to score their business out of 10 for operational excellence, doing what they get paid for doing, and they will score themselves at least 8 out of 10. They say things like, ‘I have been on all the courses… there’s little we don’t know about our subject… if clients want to talk to people who really can help them then we are the ones they should be talking to’. Excellent.

While their skill at ‘doing the doing’ is not in dispute, many are not so great at running a business. Just because you are great at putting together a digital strategy for your client doesn’t mean you know how to actually run a business yourself. Just because you are great at creating an effective social media campaign for your clients doesn’t mean you know how to market and promote your own business.

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How to be Better at Conflict Resolution in 4 Simple Steps

8/7/2014 posted in Leading, Not Managing, Life At The Top


As a leader, you’re going to face conflict. It comes with the territory. But before you try to deal with a conflict, you first need to stop and ask yourself the following question: what is your perfect outcome?

The preferred result is almost always a calm and positive one.

It is best to approach these situations in an personable and approachable manner rather than an emotional one.

While there is more than one way to resolve any conflict, there are certain processes that will enable you to manage the differences in open and honest ways without damaging the relationships at stake.

Here are four simple steps that will allow you to make the transformation from you against me to us against the problem. This model has evolved through my work on conflict management in many organizations and couple counselling.

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To be a Great Leader You Need to Take a Heli-View

8/5/2014 posted in Leading, Not Managing

Picasso once said we are all born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up. And he’s right.
In this risk-averse first world in which we now operate we have been forced back into left-brain thinking – simply ‘doing things right’. This protects us and makes us feel safe in an uncompromising world.

But as leaders surely we are on a journey where questions need to be asked? It is said that great leaders ask eight times more questions than ineffective leaders – so start asking some, such as ‘does this really add value?’ Taking a heli-view requires courage and challenges us to think about ‘doing the right things’.

Imagine you’re running seven businesses. Somebody might cut their finger off in a factory you’ve got. It's your fault. You go to prison. You’re the director responsible. But you can't possibly know about the finite details of the health and safety regimes of that factory.

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The 8 Core Principles of Exceptional Leaders

7/31/2014 posted in Business, Leading, Not Managing

Incredible leaders have a different understanding of their role than average leaders. They get these things right from the offset. What common principles do you share with them?

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An effective leadership team won’t just happen – you have to work at it!

7/24/2014 posted in Business, Leading, Not Managing

Effective teams make a dramatic difference in terms of reducing costs, improving employee engagement and improving customer satisfaction – moreover, an effective management team is required to execute a business strategy and develop competitive advantage.

Despite this, most companies do not have effective leadership teams!

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How to Achieve More Without Spending Even Longer in the Office

7/4/2014 posted in Business, Leading, Not Managing, Life At The Top

How many hours have you worked this week? 40 hours? 60 hours? Rather not think about just how many hours?

Nearly a third of UK professionals are now working 50 or more hours each week, up from 19% in 2011. And, despite this extra time put in, only 21% of survey respondents said they received formal overtime.

But, actually, the number of hours you spend at the office isn’t the important metric here. What really counts are your achievements during these hours. Think about it this way, if you’re at the office for 8 hours a day, how much of that time are you actively working on the tasks and projects that you’ve decided are your business priorities? How many of those hours can you confidently say are completely productive? Or, do you find you get distracted? Emails come in, the phone keeps ringing and your sales director wants some support on a big new contract.

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