The Lessons I have learnt as a CEO & Consultant to CEO’s in 2014

This year has been a very busy and professionally rewarding year. As a Company The RESULTS Group has grown and moved into a different area. Our core business as “The Business Execution Experts” has remained the same and we have proven our “5 Pillars” framework (Vision, Strategy, Engagement, Accountability and Cadence) across every industry and every sized company imaginable. Ranging from the small 20 person company, the family held medium sized company through to larger NZ & foreign listed Companies, Government organisations and into several big organisations with a Billion or more in revenue. From the straight forward to the incredibly complex, from construction to the professional services (law, accountancy, survey, HR, Banking) to the technical world of IT and fast growth IP.

Realistic
Ambiguity leads to mediocrity but then so too does continually benchmarking and being realistic.

 

Our consultants have been challenged and pushed as they have focussed on our purpose of “Making a Difference” and ensuring our clients get the clarity so they they can execute their plans and lead change. It has been a year of change for us as a company and we have truly lived our core value “Live What we Teach” as we have sought to execute our own plan in amongst the busyness that “Business as Usual” presents. We have had to challenge ourselves to focus on the important rather than just the urgent which is the constant challenge of every CEO. So what have been my big lessons across 2014 as a Consultant, Executive Leadership Coach and professional CEO? I keep a journal reflect on the work I do and what I have learnt most days which makes it easy to look back and to reflect on the important stuff over the year. In no particular order;

  • Better, faster, cheaper: These are  most common approaches that Companies have. These are not Strategies. Own the voice of your customer and look after them. Ask them often for feedback and listen to it. The magic will start.
  • Hope is also not a Strategy. You have to be deliberate and decisive in order to avoid being a victim of the market or dealt to by competitor moves.
  • A CEO adds at least 15% to the bottom line. (Research shared by Psychologist Dave Winsborough) by being inspirational, creating culture, expectations, a Vision and driving execution. The impact of good leadership is huge and measureable.
  • The number of senior leaders seeking to leave Corporates and the Public sector so they can have autonomy and so they can actually make a tangible difference is truly staggering!  A sense of purpose is critically important to people.
  • A lot can happen in a year. Good & bad. Roll your sleeves up and make good stuff happen.
  • CEO’s are often afraid to be human. The soft skills, the least talked about and trained for are the most important ones. Being able to be vulnerable, to make mistakes and learn from them……so important for leaders and so often missing.
  • Making clear and concise powerful decisions is often a missing skill. Making good decisions based on the best information at the time and backing yourself to alter them if they need it is a really critical skill especially in times of constant change. Just make a decision!
  • The potential talent pool in women leaders is massive. I feel this is one area that is truly undervalued. We created a woman leadership group this year to address and discuss this and have also included a woman speaker (Melissa Clark-Reynolds) at our John Spence” Leadership event planned for 25 March 2015 in Christchurch (Link here for details).
  • The value of having a massive network of people who you can support, ask for advice, learn from and add value to is truly priceless. I have so many people who support and contribute to our business and it is humbling to be able to support them in their roles and in their companies.
  • Any leader needs many mentors. Business and personal to grow in the complex world of modern business.
  • Formalising network Hubs or groups of people who can give you ongoing referrals and support is of high value.
  • John Spence taught me “you become like the 5 people you hang out with the most” Choose them carefully.
  • Hang out with those who know and ask a lot of questions. Learn from people with experience and acumen.
  • Lead from the front. Just lead and learn. People want to be led well. Make it a passion and never stop getting better at it.
  • As a CEO you need to make the big things happen. Get the rocks or cornerstones in place and make the things happen that move the Company in that direction happen. This is what CEO’s do.
  • Don’t seek to change people, seek to influence their activity, their behaviour and how they make their decisions. Seek to create an environment whereby they make consistently good decisions.
  • The art of reflecting and making clear observations and to be able to take an overview of the situation allows for better clarity. Practice it or have your team challenge you to do it.
  • Be tough. Firm, fair and consistent, but be tough in your standards and expectations of people. Be restless, seek excellence and constantly ask “Have I done enough?”. If the answer is no then step up and do more. Be the toughest on yourself……with power comes great responsibility.
  • Culture is king and Cash. No one can steal your culture. In fact thought leaders such as Tom Peters, Collin Powell, Richard Branson and John Spence all say that your culture is really your only truly defendable and significant point of difference. No one can steal it and if you get it right it will attract and retain top talent who in turn will look after your products, services and deliver excellent service to your clients. get that right and the magic begins!
  • Sadly in most companies the culture is just adhoc. No one plans it, discusses it and if they get it right it is by getting lucky. The best cultures in high performing companies are planned, a priority and protected by selecting only the best and by dealing with mediocrity very quickly. Leaving your company culture to luck means you are leaving a critical component of your “mission” success to chance.
  • Planning the year ahead in detail on a year planner (Sounds basic but try it) remains one of the activities that CEO’s rate as “most valuable”. Map out key dates, board meetings, reviews, training, holidays etc and plan the year ahead. Insist your team plans and gets clear around the year ahead.
  • Meetings are your number one leadership opportunity. Make them high value, fast, refer to good data/KPI’s and have fun. Most meetings in business today sap the energy from those who attend. Flip that around because leaders do people, leaders communicate and meetings are your number one opportunity to influence and live your culture.
  • Have more fun. Enjoy the ride. Its not a rehearsal.

Its been a big year and I have loved every minute of it. I’d like to thank my team and our awesome clients for everything. I can’t wait to be a part of the work we do in 2015 and all the challenge, fun and learning it will bring.

Keep safe out there.

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