Leader of the Future

Leadership is a game changer, the “magic ingredient” that can take a group of individuals, shape them into a team and then inspire some incredible achievements. I am lucky enough to work with, support and spend time amongst some amazing leaders both within Advisory.Works, the NZ Army and our client portfolio that includes prominent CEO’s, Founders and Directors from leading brands/companies in NZ, Australia and the USA.

Photo by: Visual Culture Ltd (www.visualculture.co)

Change and disruption are now just part of our new normal and we see business leaders actively seeking the leadership skills that can give them the edge. The ability to enable a culture that talented employees want to be part of and the ability to change and iterate so as to consistently stay ahead of their competition. Leadership is a lonely place and the skills a leader needs are not really taught anywhere. Influencing the future leaders is something I am passionate about and why I’m actively involved with MBA & Masters programmes at the University of Canterbury.

Our Strategic Business Partner John Spence recently spoke at the University of Canterbury Executive Leader Programme as part of the “Thought Leadership Series” and covered many of the current and emerging leadership trends he is seeing in his work globally with high performing organisations. You can check out his presentation here;

Let me know your thoughts?

Listening Very Hard: The Voice of Your Customer

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As a Consulting Company that has a Customer Intimate Generic Strategy (i.e. we understand what our clients want and we work closely to deliver it the customised way they need it delivered) we survey the Business Leaders we work with every 6 months. It is important that we get better and better at Strategy, Executive Leader Coaching and most importantly our core business which is ensuring the plan gets executed. We need to know our clients well, support their CEO’s to lead change and to develop and grow their people. It is a high trust relationship because we get to see the best and the worst of what goes on inside their organisation. Referrals are the absolute lifeblood of our business and where most of our new business comes from.

The survey we use (and we recommend our clients use)  is the Net Promotor Score survey. You can google this and find a huge amount of information about this globally recognised best practice survey which measures client loyalty. Two simple anonymous questions asked by an independent party gives a massive amount of valuable information.

Question 1: On a scale of 1 – 10 (1 being never and 10 being always) how likely would you be to recommend xyz business to family or close friends. This gives a number.

Question 2: If the answer is 9 or 10: What is your reason for giving this number? This information is taken down as it is said (i.e. word for word) and gives all the things the business does well and in fact are the reasons they are loyal and will refer business.

Question 2: If the answer is 1 – 8: How could company xyz move your score closer to a 9 or 10? These answers will give all the information about what things need to improve before they will refer others. They are the development areas.

Using the numbers you then ignore all the 7 & 8 Scores (these are deemed as satisfied clients i.e. just as likely to refer as not). You calculate the % of 9 & 10’s (the promotors) and subtract the % of 1 – 6’s (the detractors). This gives a number between -100 and + 100. That is your Net Promotor Score. You can access benchmarking data to look at industry norms if you wish.

As a professional services Company working in a high trust position you would expect that the NPS score would be well into the positive numbers. Our NPS score had moved from + 56 to + 75 over a six month period. More significantly we had no detractors (rating 1 – 6) something we had never achieved before. So what did the survey tell us?

1. It gives me as CEO a lot of confidence that we deliver upon and exceed our client expectations.

2. It tells us that we are getting better at what we do.

3. It tells us that we have a stable and loyal client base that will refer and that we add massive value to their businesses.

4. It gives us confidence to tell our story and know that it is backed by our clients & based on good data.

5. We know exactly what it is that clients value most about our services and exactly what problems we solve for them.

6. It tells us what we need to work on over the next 6 months as a team (training and new skills/expertise) in order to take things to the next level.

7. It gives us valuable information and confidence around how we price our services.

Most of our clients introduce this survey over time and it is very valuable information. The businesses brave enough to own the “Voice of their Customer” will significantly out perform others in their industry because they know what they need to improve and innovate in order to grow client loyalty. It does take courage to do it. If you have detractors surveying 1 – 6 you can actually put a dollar amount on the revenue your business has at risk i.e. if you don’t do something to address those things they seek then you will eventually lose them as a client.

We owe a massive thanks to all our clients for taking part in this survey……..Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Have you surveyed your client loyalty? What did you learn?

Read more about owning the Voice of the Customer

Case study: Voice of the Customer Workshop (link here)

Own the Voice of the Customer…….just Own it!! (Link Here)

Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast

Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast

Building a great company culture is a significant Strategic Advantage. Competitors can steal your ideas, technology and copy systems or the way you do business but they cannot steal your culture. Further if you have culture that your people love then your competitors cannot steal your people either.

I am often asked “How do we build a culture?’. There is no easy answer except to say it is a conscious decision, it is a process that is continually worked on, it is planned, it involves heavily the desires & input of those in your team. Leaders plan for and enable the culture by making it a priority and something they protect and actively encourage and grow. Your people are the culture so they have to buy in and be part of it.

I am lucky enough to work with clients who are iconic NZ brands, clients who are in the top 10 places to work in the country (year in year out) and many who have workplaces full of committed, highly engaged people.

What do they all have in common? Culture is a big part of their Strategy, they commit time and resources to it and they live and breathe it. They have fun, they work hard and they have very high levels of accountability. Their team helps deal with those who don’t fit or don’t perform.

Culture brings a common language and set of beliefs (values and purpose) to a group of people.

Click on this photo to link & hear John Spence talk about the “Elements of a Winning Culture”.

Culture absolutely eats strategy for breakfast. It is a strategy!

“Start with whe…

“Start with where you want to end up”

This McKinsey quarterly article is worth a read. Entitled “Managing CEO transitions” (link here) it outlines the opportunities (and lost opportunities) associated with the changes in leadership within organisations. Some great examples, discussion and learnings.