I am currently working on a global leadership and cultural change project with a major client. One of the goals: massive increase in sales with rising profitability - and all this in highly competitive markets.
The key to this lies not only in innovation and processes, but also - above all - in people's minds. In other words, people tend to stand in their own way with their current beliefs. (Doesn't this somehow seem familiar in your own life?)
From my point of view, the remarkable insight is the following: Many people in worldwide organizations love change. As soon as they are credibly encouraged to do so, the suggestions and ideas for sometimes substantial changes (especially in their own sphere of influence) bubble out of them.
It sometimes seems to me as if we have lifted the cap of the famous genie’s bottle: Once it is outside, it does not want to go back in.
There are things that we make more complicated than they are. In my view, leadership is one of these issues, because no matter which leaders you consider outstanding, it is most likely only a handful of characteristics that make a difference compared to the average.
So, why is it so difficult for many companies to implement outstanding leadership as a standard? I certainly perceive significant gaps in leadership in most companies.
The main reason for this is the fact that, on the one hand, leadership is made too complicated, and on the other, you almost always have to change your thinking and behavior in order to become a better leader. For the second reason, coaching is often a powerful accelerator.
The first hundred days are a sort of magical period: after a hundred days, a new president should have put a stick in the ground and made some important decisions. After the first hundred days in a new job, you should be clear about what you want to achieve, know the main stakeholders, and already made something different than your predecessor.
The sad truth is that the energy and inspiration often decline after this period.You probably know this effect from any major project: after some hype, the engagement decreases and routine settles in, sometimes even frustration. Obstacles that we surmounted with ease in the beginning seem to be insurmountable some weeks later.
No matter where you currently are, even if you have worked 20 years in the same job, I...
What are you getting upset about? What is annoying you? What irritates you?
No matter what your answer is, it is not the thing or the person that annoys you, but the connection to a story inside you.
"Whatever upsets you, reveals you" is old wisdom. In other words, you can only get upset or angry about something if you declare it important. And this importance usually comes from some "story" that we tell ourselves unconsciously.
Since it is rarely helpful for your success if you get angry (because it directs your energy to things that don't get you anywhere), I recommend that you get to the root of the problem - and then eliminate it if possible.
This insight is especially important when you are leading people. Their reactions are rarely to the actual thing, but rather to their inner reflections on it.
If you have been following my work for a while, you’ll know how much I like to break down complicated concepts into simple truths. One of these is what I’ll share today.
Think about it for a moment. I’m sure you’ll come up with things like customer focus, a powerful vision, motivated employees, a good strategy, and so on. And all these answers are correct. This is why I work on them with my clients in my programs.
However, the most essential business functions are just two. If you get these two things right, your business will have a hard time failing (even if this is not impossible). If you get them wrong (which most businesses struggling do), you are definitely in trouble.
When I talk to CEOs and division heads (for example, in my coaching sessions), I sometimes have the impression that the budgeting process eats up too much of their time and energy, typically in the fall. As a former large company divisional controller, I can tell you a thing or two about it (and I see the same tendency in medium-sized companies, too).
The problem is that budgeting is 100% unproductive when measured against the company's purpose (mission) and vision (because hardly any company will make "outstanding budgeting" part of its mission or vision).
In other words, managers - and usually many other people involved - are working on something that is a "waste" in the traditional sense. In addition, the budgeting process often replaces strategy discussion. Not only do we then not have a strong business strategy, but also high opportunity costs.
You may know the situation when parents encourage their children to go outside and play instead of always sitting at home. Why do they do that? Sure, because they want their children to gain experience and learn something outside.
Because we know that life experience never comes from studying indoors, but from getting your hands dirty.
When I'm working on strategy with my clients, I sometimes feel like the daddy who says, "You have to get out there to gain experience and test your ideas!"
What do I mean by that? For most people, the strategy process encounters a big bump when it comes to the transition from strategy creation to implementation. Often, they have developed great new value propositions and new business models, or have come up with new structures and requirements for the workforce or other innovations.
And what happens next? Many are now trying to perfect these results with more people. Other stakeholders are involved in the discussion of business models or HR managers...
If your environment is not the way you’d like it to be, whose responsibility is this? If your team is not acting the way you’d like it to act, who is responsible for this? If any of your relationships – professionally or privately – are not the way you want them to be, who holds the responsibility?
You guessed the answer: it is always YOU. Nobody else! And if you think now “well, I can’t control and influence everything!” then you are right. But you can always control your perception of the reality. For example, if you think your work environment sucks, there are two perspectives: your actual work environment and your perception. You can often change your work environment, and you can ALWAYS change your perception.
Let’s make it...
A while ago, I attended the Swiss Innovation Forum in Basel. That year the motto was “Play”. The guiding thought is that we could all be more innovative if we played more and allowed for more playfulness.
What do I mean by this? Well, if the guiding idea of any member in an organisation is to get through the workday and the workweek, then we are merely existing. This is about surviving the workday in order to thrive in private life (if at all).
The “play” state is already significant progress: people like what they do and they like to see it as a “game”, in the most positive sense. People are cheerful and truly support each other. These organisations are not only more productive than the “existing” ones, but also...
Here is a short business story with an important moral: two companies are successfully positioned in the market, operate in a similar segment and have moderately growing sales. Everything else is also very similar.
In good times, business runs very smoothly. But now, the environment is more difficult (maybe due to a pandemic, maybe due to a downturn, maybe due to changing customer demands). And here comes the difference…
In leadership meetings in company A, it is always stressed that the company is very well positioned and that it has enough experience to cope with the whole situation. In Company B, on the other hand, more people who have learned to think differently have their say: they develop the firm conviction that this is the opportunity to learn massively, to take on full responsibility and to use the difficult time to their advantage.
So, they study books and other material that will help each individual to progress. They devour biographies of successful...
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