In the busy world of business seniority tends to over rule in decisions that have no data. The more experienced and senior members of teams have more sway in decision making as they offer opinions and ideas and too often they are incorrect. They are assumptions based in history, bias or a lack of new thinking.
I work with senior teams all the time and see this pattern. The founder, CEO or “old heads” will refer back to what happened or didn’t happen in the past or what they think. This is often driven by the desire to avoid change because as humans we all hate having to get uncomfortable. New team members voice their views and ideas that are worth exploring but are simply dismissed and at its worst this creates a culture that resists change. It creates a significant risk that the organisation will be irrelevant in the near future.
At its worst countless hours are spent talking about opinions as if they are facts. One of the lessons I have learnt is that “Data wins Arguments”. Data takes the discussion from “I think” to one of “Let me show you”. It shifts the conversation to one that will get a good solid outcome. It takes emotion and bias out of the equation. It leads to data driven and robust business decisions. The role of a leader is to disrupt business as usual in a good way so that the company adapts and thrives in the future. Data can create a huge mandate for change by exposing current & future reality.
This is the impact of KPI’s, financial trend graphs, research, analysis of patterns and numbers. A simple exercise of graphing the monthly, year to date and lifetime revenues of your top 20 clients and having your team sit together and discuss what they see can have a huge aligning effect and can completely shift thinking, perceptions and provides clarity of the actual reality.
This video is worth watching as it outlines just how wrong we get it if we don’t seek data about what media shows us. The gap can be huge and in fact chimpanzees can be more accurate if we don’t look for the numbers and validate our perceptions.
High performance leaders go well beyond emotion, perception. They are aware of the impact of data and seek it to get better business decisions.
Every day and every week our team of clever leaders are lucky enough to influence and support some iconic brands and high performance leaders. As a premium brand focussed on making a significant impact we work with selected organisations across New Zealand, Australia and the USA. This video outlines some of our recent work and I am proud to lead it.
Earlier this month we won the AUT Business Excellence Award for Management Services. It was a fantastic night and the culmination of months of work as we provided client and business data to show the results our company and team were achieving as we actively make a difference.
As with any team it is important to pause, celebrate the win and regroup as we move forward. Our clients are fantastic and trust us to provide true trusted Advisory in the area of Strategic Execution and Executive Leadership Development.
The same week we changed our Company name and logo after 24 years as we continue to position ourselves as category leaders as we disrupt the Business Advisory Space.
A new partnership with Leadership Expert and Business Influencer John Spence which he outlines in the video below.
I am often asked what we do and why we do it. A few weeks back I spent some time working with my good friend & Leadership Expert John Spence in Florida. We took the opportunity to shoot a few videos and I thought it was time to articulate this starting with this Introduction to The RESULTS Group.
Why do we do what we do?
The RESULTS Group exists to make an “intentional difference” to peoples lives. We love what we do and are very good at it. We work with leaders across many organisations and industries as they seek to make a true difference in their lives and the lives of those they lead. We work with good companies seeking high performance results. We keep them ahead of disruption and support them to grow capability and capacity……to execute the important things. The connection we have with people inspires us to go that little bit further, to do what it takes to make a significant impact on people and the organisations they choose to lead and to be part of.
Our Mission (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is to disrupt Business Advisory (to redefine Advisory in a good way) by 2020 for High Performance Businesses and Leaders.
What gets under our skin?
We hate that Advisers provide average advice and charge a lot of money. We are sick & tired of the fact that the advice is generally just Accounting advice from people who have no understanding of how to implement change or to apply the advice to real life situations. These same people are being significantly disrupted in their own industry and are often not living what they are teaching.
Other advisers make it a dark art and seek to charge as if they have the “magic bullet.” Often their work is not tangible nor the difference they make measurable. Sometimes their clients struggle to apply it and in frustration don’t get the break throughs. Further those dispensing the advice have not led at a high level themselves. They have not made real life mistakes, earned a few battle scars nor dealt with the behavioural challenges of leading people. They can’t tell real stories that bring things to life.How can you give advice if you have never done it? Worse still these advisers rarely ask for feedback from their clients.
It is not good enough and we are doing something about it.
What do we do?
We work with good Companies to support them to execute their strategy. We are their “Strategy Execution Partners.” We collaboratively work with our clients as the “generalist” in their business. They are after all the experts and have achieved a lot over many years.
We ask the questions, we create the discussions within their teams, we apply a framework to bring it to life. Further we don’t keep it a secret. In fact our frameworks and tools are freely available and based on the research of the worlds experts. The value is not in the tool but in the discussions and alignment of the leaders in the business. It lies in the application of theory into the current business reality.
Our clients are privately held established Companies seeking to intentionally get better at what they do.
Core Business is getting the important things done which means supporting Business Leaders to disrupt the day to day Business as Usual Operations of the Business to grow capability & capacity. This means supporting them to change and adopt new ways of leading and focus. We help them to “Simplify their Business” by ensuring they have a simple Strategic Plan that their people can execute.
Often we support Leaders to develop their skills to lead at the next level or to grow and develop the leaders in their organisation so they can step back or bring the Company under management. This may be at the Governance, Advisory Board, CEO, GM or Senior Leadership Team level.
It sounds simple (and it generally is) but it is never easy to make a commitment to incrementally get better & better in an ongoing way. It takes focus and requires the important things to be done rather than the urgent.
This is about building a culture of high performance, learning, growing and coaching. The best leaders are the best coaches, managers, mentors and life long learners.
We know it works too. Our clients tell us each 6 months exactly what difference it makes in their lives & businesses. We also measure it so we have the data to show a very good return on their investment of time and money. There are no magic bullets either. It takes focus, hard work, clever thinking, tough discussions and a “try new things, fail fast & iterate the plan” approach to leading smart people.
Taking a long term approach to working with client companies we know they never leave our networks. They may disengage as a paying client but they re engage when they need us. We often work with clients for 3, 4 or 5 years (longer with many) and they come back as they need to grow to another level.
We also have fun, apply the same frameworks to our own business and live our Purpose and Values each day. Our people have been there and done it. Sure they have the academic qualifications but more importantly they have the real life experience of leadership & they love what they do. We make a difference & that it is valued by those we choose to work with.
But don’t take our word for it either…….ask any of our clients & as you join our networks there is plenty of opportunity to do this.
Last week I spent time in Florida doing some work with Top 100 Leadership & Business thought leader John Spence. I spent time working with him and a number of other business leaders on “Purpose”. Most people (and organisations) know “What” they do and many know “How” they do it. Not many take the time to work through “Why” they do it.
Even more importantly very few people take the time to talk this through with their business team. This process starts the alignment process & inspires like minded people. It is the beginning of “Tribe” and the “Being of team.”
A great start point is the book “Legacy” by author James Kerr. In this video John Spence talks a bit about the subjects.
I along with others in my team have been lucky enough to work with and support one of New Zealand’s best known and loved companies, Cookietime Ltd. You can link (here) to read a recent case study of that journey.
We get to work with many Advisory Boards and Boards of Directors as we facilitate Strategy & support Strategy Execution & support business owners to either initiate, restructure or optimise their Governance. This requires us to facilitate meetings, sit on a number of Advisory Boards and I currently act as Chairman on one Board of Directors. Sadly I would have to generalise that Boards are, in the main, either ineffective or not as valuable as they could be. In fact one of the big opportunities that will ensure Business success I see is to successfully implement highly functional governance. Those that do have it in place have the opportunity to get the maximum return on their investment by taking it to the next level.
Here are what I call the 7 deadly sins of Ineffective Governance;
1. Undermining the CEO: Unknowingly they get in the way of their CEO by getting involved in the workplace, not supporting or trusting the CEO’s recommendations or initiatives. In fact many do not trust or have confidence in their CEO full stop and worse still do nothing to address it.
2. Discussing the “how” but never defining the “what”. Many Boards Spend most of their valuable discussion time dealing with management decisions ie How should this be done? Yet they never pose & define the big questions such as what are we building? Where are we taking this? What could and should we become as a Business?
3. Not understanding the sacred relationship between Chair and CEO. It is a special relationship and the most critical one. It is an employment relationship and one in which the Chair should coach, mentor, guide and support the CEO to succeed. This includes professional development and tough conversations around delivering outcomes. It involves building trust and confidence and aligning the Board to support their CEO.
4. Never altering the composition. The Board should regularly change or include leaders with the skills the company needs as it develops and grows. As the company grows and evolves so too should the BOD as they keep the CEO and Management ahead of the game.
5. Sweating the small stuff. Particularly prevalent in family businesses is the tendency to never get breakthroughs on the sacred cows. The same conversations, fears, egos repeat at every meeting. The elephants in the room are never addressed and therefore they never go away.
6. Focussing on the negative. It is very easy to see what is going wrong but never acknowledging what is going right. Negativity kills culture and creativity. Problems must be addressed but seeing the good stuff and encouraging more of it is a key role of any leader and Directors are leaders. Negative meetings that focus on what has not worked and never inspire what could be great are unfortunately common place.
7. Not defining success. Clever strategy, KPI’s & metrics must all be measured and success defined so the CEO knows he/she is on track and so that management measures can also be clarified. Too much time in Board meetings is dedicated to historical results ie they can’t be influenced. Whilst reviewing the results and banking lessons learnt is very important, so too knowing the business is on track for the the future is arguably more important and productive. You can’t influence the past nor be inspired by it. The role of Governance is to take a business forward and to help Management to navigate the ambiguity of the market.
By getting the agenda right, tweaking the composition, by becoming future looking and building complete trust in the CEO, a BOD can very quickly make a massive impact on business performance in a very short timeframe. Sadly it is poorly done and this inspires mediocre results.
How is your Governance? Do you have any? How effective is it? What could it achieve for your biggest investment?
I have recently spent a lot of time with our clients. In particular really listening to understand what they expect from us. We officially launched the Executive Leadership Programme. This programme is already becoming a significant part of their business. In a little over six months we have 26 CEOs and five “Emerging Leadership development teams” on the programme.
Over the last week I spent a long time with my friend and meet with John Spence. I’ve worked with him as he delivered workshops to my senior team, a large event at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch and within a number of CEO leadership forums.
Reinforced to me: you become like those you spend time with and what you focus on. It’s not about what great ideas you have it’s about what you execute and actually do.
The secret to success is extreme focus & being excellent what you do.
Great team mates are the key to any culture and business. No one person is a team and no one person can manage the complexity of leading in modern business. Team and culture are the outcome of good leadership, clear communication and honest robust conversations. They are the result of a conscious decision to invest in people and to work together collaboratively.
Too often this critical aspect of business is left to chance and stagnates at a certain level. The reality of business today is that really the only significant point of difference and Company can have is it team culture. Everything else can be copied, reverse engineered or improved upon. Competitors can take individuals but they cannot take nor easily replicate your team culture. If you get the team culture right then client service and great products innovation will follow.
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.
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.
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 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.