2 Minutes on Strategic Execution

Recently I took part in a leadership panel with three other CEO’s. This is a short clip taken from the wider panel video (the link is attached).

The Leadership panel was held recently in Christchurch for a large group of CEO’s, their leadership teams and business leaders. The other CEO panel members were Shaun Maloney of ARANZ Geo, Lincoln Booth of Cookietime, Keith Jessop of EMDA.

You can link to the longer panel video here.

Lessons Learnt From The Army: How to Fight to Win

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Leading NZ soldiers is an incredible challenge, responsibility and privilege.

Much of my working life has been spent as an Army Officer, initially as a regular and later in the Reserves. I have found that the skills I learned and applied leading soldiers are very relevant and transferable for leading teams and driving business execution; especially in this increasingly dynamic and ever changing marketplace.

As you can imagine, the challenge of leading men and women who are working in dangerous roles in challenging environments requires a high level of trust, empathy and teamwork.

The Army places great emphasis on leadership skills and invests heavily in leadership training and development at all levels. Training courses to enhance leadership skills continue right through to those at the very highest ranks of the Army.

Here are six key things that the Army teaches their leaders in order to “fight to win”:

1. Remain calm under fire.

That’s not to say that fear is not present, in fact it is. However, to “keep calm and carry on” regardless of the situation is something you can learn. It is the golden rule for keeping your head and working through a logical process in order to respond to a hostile or changing situation. Being calm and thinking clearly are essential requirements to evaluate what is happening and to make effective decisions.

2. Any plan is better than no plan.

Without a plan you cannot inspire others to follow you. Having a plan is the starting point for successful execution. Even if the plan is not the right one, making a decision and creating a plan will save lives and generate positive activity. A good team will back itself to quickly adjust a plan so that it is effective.

3. No plan survives the start line.

The Army recognizes that in every situation there is another party that can influence the situation. Not just the enemy, but terrain, equipment, weather, civilian populations, and even animals can influence a plan. All the various scenarios that might happen should be considered and planned for so that the plan can be quickly adjusted if required. The fact a team has planned and engaged together allows it to quickly iterate the plan as needed.

4. Maintain momentum.

In any situation there needs to be swift action, and momentum needs to be maintained to ensure successful execution. Slowing or stopping any operation means it is difficult to get going again. It reminds me of the saying “When going through hell….keep going!”

5. Teamwork is a defining factor.

A group working together and supporting each other to achieve the defined goal will greatly lift the chance of success. Training together, working together, getting to know one another, and building trust all help to build teamwork. Good teams keep going when the going gets tough, and they overcome blockages in order to win.

6. Time is seldom wasted in planning or recon.

Taking the time as a leadership team to plan ahead for future operations, alternative scenarios, routes to be taken, areas of interest, and likely courses of action is seldom wasted. Planning and reconnaissance actually saves time, saves resources, and in many cases, people’s lives.

There are many situations in business where these skills can be applied. Strategic thinking, strategic planning, working together to build teamwork and trust, as well as incorporating a planning cadence that allows a business to quickly alter a plan and then change direction as required – are things a smart business leader does.

Influencing and inspiring people gets stuff done. That’s called “business execution” and by applying these six lessons from the Army you too can inspire your team to “fight to win.”

The Pivot: Staying at the Top of Your Game

How do the top performing teams in the world stay at the top of their game? Sports teams, racing teams, leading brands, innovative teams, military teams and many others? What do leaders at the top of their game do to stay at the top? What does this mean for business?

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The best teams change before change is needed. They pivot and iterate to stay ahead of the crowd.

Right now things in business are going pretty well. There is uncertainty in the medium and longer term as to what is going to happen in money markets, commodity markets, the Chinese/US or EU economies. There is a lot of technology disruption starting to show up on the fringes of even the least tech savvy industries. Change is coming and whether it is disruption, a softening economy, a total global meltdown or even a major political event we will all need to navigate it.

The RESULTS Group work with good companies and proactive leaders who want to get better at what they do. Our clients tend to be the long term brands that over decades have performed exceptionally well. They are actively seeking to stay at the top of their game.

In the next 5-10 years all of us leading (me included) are going to face more change than the world has seen in the last century. It will be fast, ongoing and relentless and will be an exciting and challenging time to lead. Some commentators say we are in year 2 of a 35 year technology disruption. How true is this and how will it affect our own business is open to interpretation but we are all starting to see the wave of change.

To stay at the top in any professional environment there is a need to develop a culture of continuous learning. If we look at the All Blacks (the most successful global high performance professional sports team/brand with a winning record of 86%, two back to back world cups & recently voted the best team in the world across all codes). In James Kerr’s book “Legacy: What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life” you will see Chapter 2 is entitled “Adapt”. In essence the commentary is all around “When you are at the top of your game, change your game.” This is about changing consciously before you need to, in order to stay ahead of the competition and to remain the best of the best. To keep an edge or a sustainable point of difference.

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A summary picture of the key chapters & topics of the book “Legacy” by James Kerr.

I like to refer to the term “pivoting”. I saw this in action during some work I recently did at the University of Florida, assessing entrepreneurial engineering teams and the projects they were completing for private business. They were presenting what they had achieved and were seeking feedback so they could iterate and improve their project. They were seeking a “pivot” through good insights and application of ideas.

The best leaders and companies we work with are already pivoting at a time when they are performing well. They know through experience that the good times won’t last. To stay ahead of their competition and to navigate change they must understand what success continues to look like. How do they do this?

Those CEO’s proactively keeping ahead of the crowd prioritise the following;

  • They invest in their own development and leadership skills so they can lead smart innovative people in a collaborative way.
  • They spend time in strategic and operational planning with their teams, senior leadership teams and functional teams. They continuously define the priorities and focus of action.
  • Actively build an aligned plan to execute continuous change and constantly reflect on it, revise it and iterate it to make it better. They empower their people to lead parts for the execution.
  • Focus on execution and getting the important things done.
  • Seek the best advice on technology disruption, the economy, competitors, new entrants and possible substitute products and services.
  • Stay very close to their clients and know what they value, expect and want improved. They build collaborative and close relationships through many channels including social media.
  • Invest in leadership development (and education) and focus on increasing staff engagement to build resilience and an ownership mentality. This aids the change process and brings innovative and collaborative thinking to the fore.
  • Focus on the numbers. What gets measured can be managed.
  • Actively disrupt the companies “business as usual” in a positive way so as to build capacity and capability in a continuous way. This allows the organisation and the team to scale up in a long term sustainable way.
  • Make the tough decisions early.
  • Learn the lessons of previous economic downturns and change projects so as to ensure the same mistakes are not made again, and
  • Recognise success and continue to have fun along the journey.

This all sounds simple (and it is) but it is not easy. It takes focus, good strong proactive leaders committed to ensuring the important things happen and not just the urgent things of modern business. It is about going beyond reactive firefighting and consciously picking & executing the plan for/route to success.

Staying at the top of your game is about changing before you are forced to change. This means having a good team committed to getting incrementally better at what they do.

It is about confidence and momentum.

Just start the journey.

 

My Memories of 20 Feb 11: Ground zero post the Christchurch Earthquake

20 February 2011 (5 years ago) at just after 1pm was one that shook is all, a major earthquake. Our office building evacuated & we headed for home. That in itself was going to be challenge with a full central city evacuation under way & bridges out. Short Texts came through to tell me my immediate family were alive & safe. My brothers house was hit by rocks I knew & Dad was in it…..but just how bad things were was to later be a bit of a shock.

I had left the Army in 2004 but was in the throes of rejoining the Army Reserve.

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Central CHCH 1.46pm 20 Feb 11

A call from the XO of the Battalion (the only one to come through in a jammed cell network) redirected me to Army duty. I parked my car and proceeded from Sydenham to the city centre. In my office attire I walked through liquefaction and what was a scene out of a movie. It was 1.30pm.

I walked past a building lying across a lane of Montreal st, stopped to hug a distraught older woman with half a hair dye and foils in. Distraught from watching a bus get crushed she was walking to Oxford 50km away crying.

I overheard builders discussing how they should secure their high rise site and get home.

My task from the Army was to find the Mayor, provide the NZ Defence emergency cell numbers and to proceed to the Civil Defence bunker on Kilmore st. Later I was to discover my wife’s bravery in getting Caetana from school amongst collapsing cliffs and then helping Dad who was trapped in my brothers house that was destroyed by rocks.

The mayors staff had been evacuated after an aftershock from the new gallery building. I passed on the info to Bob Parker & his Ops Manager, gathered a couple of soldiers who were there looking to help and pushed on to find the civil defence bunker, my next task was to fill in as a situation/operations officer until a regular Infantry officer could get in from Burnham. Little did I know it would take many hours for him to arrive.

My first job back in Army service for 7 years.

The bunker was hard to find in the chaos, I passed through the emergency aid station in Cramner square and through many police check points.

In the bunker I found my old Army boss, Baden Ewart in command. Baden was working in the medical world and was stepping up given that the civil defence staff were in Wellington the day of the quake.

I sat in on the briefing of the current situation and it was apparent that a lot of people were hurt and killed. Early sky TV reports showed the CTV and PGG building collapses and I could hear the fire and police radio traffic spelling out the terrible challenges they faced.

Andrew Howe was the ops officer (an ex army friend and colleague). I was put in an office with the fire liaison officer. All the Army assets were in Timaru in preparation for a large defence exercise and by chance HMNZS Canterbury had docked at Lyttelton minutes prior to the big quake. It was full of armoured and military vehicles and soldiers that would help.

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The Civil Defence Bunker, 20 Feb 11. Andrew Howe and others discuss the situation, approx 4pm

My role was to link between the civil defence command post and the Army command post in Burnham and to support military flights bringing high risk search teams, generators, water treatment units and medical assets into the city. We were coordinating fuel and power for the fire and police services to keep operating and prioritising transport heavy lift and military communications assets.

40 mins into it someone came into the command post and announced that it looked like the Copthorne Hotel might collapse on the bunker. With ongoing large aftershocks hammering the city it was possible although a bit dramatic I thought. Baden said “Langston go out and check that”. So out I went and looked at a 12 story building leaning over and definitely looking like a potential collapse.

My report ” I’m no engineer Baden but it’s not looking flash”. Someone did mention that the bunker was designed to withstand a building collapsing on it but then who would dig us out. WTF?

And so through the shock and chaos a lot of good people worked to make sense of it and to make a difference.

At a little after 7pm I was relieved by an Infantry Captain (he had to park in Riccarton and find the bunker) and walked the 7km around the cordon to my car in Sydenham. A full cordon was in place and with no ID the police made me go the long way through the park and around the 4 avenues. Our office was in the cordon (for 6 weeks) and I arrived at my car covered in mud.

My trip home to Sumner paused at my brothers place where I surveyed the damage, the rocks on his house, the tunnel my dad escaped the 2nd floor from and the boat that had caught fire. Ed was smiling but shaken. My family had tents on the lawn and Dad was quite badly shocked after his experience. We settled into a night of aftershocks, sleeping on the lounger floor and the start of months without water, sewerage or power.

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My brothers house suffering rock damage. My father was lucky to escape unhurt.

I will always remember that day, just how surreal it all was and the part we all played in a difficult situation and uncertain environment.

It was a fitting baptism back into our Army and Months later I received an unexpected letter of commendation from the Brigade commander thanking me for my work that day. Many people did what needed to be done and I was proud to play a small part for the NZ Army.

I never did get around to claiming that first day of army pay (it didn’t seem right) but it was worth it for the adventure & I’ll chalk it up as a donation!

……. And so we remember.

Some of my pictures of that day are attached. We were one of the lucky families that all survived although we were all affected by those who did not.

Leadership Lessons: Dr John Penno, CEO, Synlait Milk

Last week I hosted a peer group breakfast for 26 CEO’s. Every two months a group of CEO’s get together, away from their Board of Directors or staff and learn from others about the Leadership journey.

Dr John Penno, CEO of Synlait Milk gave his time to address the group with some of his key learnings over the 10 years. In this time he (and a talented team) has grown Synlait Milk to a large niche quality powder milk company exporting around the globe. I have known John most of my life having attended the same High School and played in the 1st XV rugby team together. I had asked him to share some of his insights into running a growing business. His key points on leadership;

  • Know your stuff and be confident in what you do.
  • People need to know where they are going. They expect it and your role is to create and share the vision.
  • A culture of learning will help you with change and change is constant in a growing, thriving business.
  • Deeply understand your market.
  • Deeply understand the mind of the customer so as to extract the most value from your market.
  • Remain very connected to your market.
  • The power and influence of social media is huge. Understand it and be part of it.
  • Get the detail right with good systems and processes.
  • Invest in your people.
  • Employ and lead people who are good at the things you can’t be good at.
  • Have good Governance in place.
  • The biggest issue is keeping up with growth (and change).
  • Make mistakes and then allow the people who made them to learn and grow from them.

One of the things that really stood out to all those listening was the depth of understanding John had of his key markets and the people who use Synlait Products. He was able to very quickly articulate what end users want, need, expect and what must happen to ensure it successfully gets to market.

I learnt a lot and the follow up questions and discussions were extremely valuable as others interacted and shared their experiences.

It is amazing where a farm boy from Waimate can end up!

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CEO of Synlait Milk, Dr John Penno shares his leadership journey with other Canterbury CEO’s.

High Performance Culture & Teams: What I learnt from Todd Blackadder

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One of the best things about my role is that as I work with high performance CEO’s and their teams I get to learn from them & those they know and work with. Last week I facilitated the annual conference for a Christchurch based client and all their staff. It was the third such conference I had facilitated for them and looking back over what they have achieved as they have set their Vision & Strategy and over as number of years engaged their team and actively executed the plan has been amazing. They are actively focussing on building a high performance team.

Todd Blackadder came into the conference and spoke candidly about how High Performance sports teams (in particular the Crusaders) set and build their culture and how it can be applied into Business teams. What did I learn or have reinforced from his workshop? A number of things. Namely;

1.  The importance of Culture: Culture is really measured by the way the team responds to your challenges. The very first time the team faces a major challenge is where you will truly see what you team culture is. Their reaction is your culture. Makes perfect sense when you think about that but I like the way he articulated it. Culture is a response you get back from people in relation to the challenge you pose.

2. Teams cannot be highly engaged all the time. There are times that engagement levels need to be really high and teams need to discuss and decide when they need to be highly engaged. It is natural for there to be highs and lows but when high levels of engagement are needed everyone needs to focus.

3. MIsaligned culture is your first competitor. This means that the process of alignment, having discussions and getting buy in across the team is fundamentally important to success. It is your first true competitor to overcome and comes before external competition.

4. Culture turns a person into a people. If you get the team or company culture right people will identify as a team or part of a bigger organisation.

5. Language is the lifeblood of any culture. This ties in with the previous point. Having a common language is part of building identity and “one people”. There is high value in having a common language.

6. Accountability starts with the leader. In this case it is the coach, but high levels of accountability means that leaders at each level own failure and also learn from it. Once a problem is owned and accepted then the team can work to overcome it.

7. High performance teams do not have “lifestylers”. Nothing kills a high performance culture faster than accepting mediocrity. Hard discussions around performance rather than making it personal (or about the individual not performing) allows a team to address problems fast. Play the ball not the man and you will find conversations get easier to have.

8. The good of the team comes before any one individual. This is regardless of what position or role you hold. Park the ego and focus on what the team needs to do to succeed and overcome problems, failures and blockages.

9. Train hard. Train, up skill, guide, mentor, coach and develop talent. This is the role a the modern leader. To be authentic and to walk the talk.

10. Celebrate the small wins as they happen. Take a moment to acknowledge all the small steps that start to feed into the bigger wins. Park up reflections that might ruin a small celebration until the best time to address it. Don’t be such a tough task master that you send the message of never being satisfied. Have some fun! Enjoy being with your people.

11. Trust is everything. It all starts with high levels of trust. This means getting to know people, what motivates them, how they live their lives, what formed their values, what experiences have shaped their lives. Get to know them, get to know their families. See the person. This is the anchor of a high performance team and a base for this is the work of Patrick Lencioni in his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a team.”

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I learnt a lot about how a high performance professional sports team sets about planning and training to win. How the team builds trust and how it develops the resilience to deal with defeats and blockages that are inevitable in the world of both professional sport and in turn the modern competitive world of business.

There are some subtle differences that separate business from sport too which need to be acknowledged. Things such as business having longer and less defined seasons meaning teams are together longer. The fact that professional sport has no second place whereas in business there is more “grey area” in terms of how success is defined. Strategy and tactics in business do not have to change as fast as in professional sport where it may change week to week.

There are however many similarities and it is possible to really look at how to build a culture that turns individuals into a people with both a common language, aligned goals and values. A team that reacts to challenges in a positive way and overcomes the big hits that temporary failure can deliver.

Some great learnings. Thanks Todd.

High Performance Teams: Foundations

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High performance teams…….great buzz words, a great aspiration, we’d all love to be a member of one and to lead one, but how do you actually achieve it? How do you take the concept and turn it into reality? I am lucky enough to be a part of one and to lead several. I also work day to day supporting and coaching High Performance CEO’s to develop, lead and enable their Senior Leadership Teams. There is a link to high performance sports teams and to tight military combat teams and there is no shortage of information on the subject. What are the foundations of a High Performance Business Leadership Teams? Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” is a great read and outlines some great concepts. But how do you really do it? Here are the 12 foundation stones of developing a High Performance Business Team;

1.  Lead yourself well. It all starts with a team leader being prepared to be vulnerable. To be self aware, open to change, being comfortable with their own strengths and weaknesses and to have the desire to change and get incrementally better as a leader. They admit mistakes and learn constantly from them. They model behavior for their team.

2. High Trust is key. High performance teams trust each other. In fact I believe they actually like each other and hang out together. They know how the team works, their part in it and constantly get to play to their strengths. Constantly communicate.

3. Set the Culture. High performance teams train and practice together. The leaders create the space for high quality conversations to occur, for high quality thinking to occur which in turn leads to high quality decisions be consistently made. The highest priority is placed on Strategic planning, team time, training and measuring success. During busy times more time is spent in planning and supporting the team.

4. Take the wins. Celebrate success as it occurs. Big and small it is important to recognize the wins, to see the first signs a strategy or initiative is starting to deliver results. Have fun, reward your team, say thank you and make your team members the hero.

5. Embrace failure. If things are not working, constantly iterate the plan and involving the team in capturing the lessons learnt. At Stanford Design school we had it drummed into us to “Go early, fail fast and iterate”.

6. Coach and Mentor. High Performance Teams have the best coaches and a network of mentors that keep them at the top of their game. A High Performance Leader guides, develops, mentors and grows their people or recruits their replacements. Investing heavily in developing the team and the individuals in it is a big job. The best leaders are the best coaches. those in the team are unable to grow or are not willing to engage they need to be removed before they hold the team back. It may be they are not in the right seat on the bus or even that they are on the wrong bus. Addressing poor performance fast is more about protecting your “A players” than anything else. No one at the top of their game wants to be in a team that includes non performers. Remember that everyone in a team knows who is and who is not performing and they are watching the leader to see what they will do about it.

7. Measure and Manage. Measure the right things to keep it on track. Building high levels of engagement and buy in is key to being able to hold people accountable. Check in every week on reality vs targets. Support your team to get and keep things on track. Set stretch goals that inspire and challenge your people.

8. Have a Bias for Action. Be more focussed on getting started and making things happen than talking about it. High Performance Teams make things happen. They love action, challenges and what they do.

9. Authenticity Rules. Be open, transparent and honest. Articulating the Vision, Purpose and Values and bringing them to life is the basis for the teams existence. Good authentic Values align and guide behaviors and allow for scaleable and consistent decision making. Walk the walk and do the hard yards.

10. Be Consistent. High performance Teams are consistent in all they do. Do the basics right and build on them. Tell stories and manage by walking around. Build on consistency by basing decisions on the reality of your people.

11. Hire slow. Have a team that is hard to get into and easy to get out of. Recruit for fit, train for skill and induct those joining the team.

12. Lead from the Front. The best leaders are the best managers. Lead, accept responsibility and genuinely care about those in your team. Perception is reality, which means if you are feeling it your team will be too. Constantly look over the fence at what others are doing because often the best solutions and ideas come from other industries and when applied to your own become a game changer.

There are many things that make a team perform at a high level. Many are very easy to do but require the right attitude, approach and the passion to not only start the journey but to continue on through tough times and periods of change and uncertainty. Leadership is the ultimate challenge and leading a team of people who are smarter, better and more capable is very rewarding.

How do you develop your team?

“Good Guys Don’t Win” …….A Tale About NZ CEO’s

Last week Psychologist and Leadership expert Dave Winsborough of Winsborough Ltd (Link Here) spoke here in Christchurch about some of his research relating to NZ CEO’s. Some highlights;

  • NZ business does not scale well.
  • Few NZ Companies go on to be global players.
  • NZ does not grow as fast (GDP) as many in the rest of the world.
  • NZ workers pull long hours but have low productivity compared to other like nations.
  • A good CEO makes a difference of 15% to the bottom line.
  • It is very hard for a CEO to replicate a similar success in another company.
  • NZ CEO’s are highly competitive, don’t do hierarchy and build soft, non competitive cultures.
  • CEO’s around the world are more cooperative than NZ CEO’s.
  • By nature our CEO’s take thing more seriously than their global peers meaning they don’t have as much fun.
  • There is a culture of the 3 B’s. Once a NZ business owner gets a bach, a boat and a BMW there is a culture of “relax”.

Some interesting points were made and backed by some good science, data and research. In fact with 26 CEO’s in the room none disagreed. So what is going on? Whilst some of the comments were deliberately provocative it can’t be denied that most NZ Companies do not become global players. We do seem to be a nation of SME’s, family businesses. In my experience NZ does indeed seem to be a little more relaxed when it comes to thinking big.

My experience (having supported CEO’s and businesses in NZ and oversees) is that we do not invest in the ongoing training of our people, leaders and future CEO’s. Our governance is often ineffective and little more than an extension of the management of the business. Certainly there are challenges for family businesses in terms of growth, leadership, governance and succession. Our cultures are indeed soft and where we like to create a place people love to work (nothing wrong with that) we will often not expect excellence from our employees and leaders in the business.

I’m committed to changing this over time so that NZ does punch above its weight and starts to take excellent NZ brands and products into the global arena.Image

Dave Winsborough of Winsborough Ltd

Dave Winsborough of Winsborough Ltd

Dave Winsborough spoke in Christchurch this morning about why “Nice Guys Come Last”. Dave was speaking to a group of 26 CEO’s & High Performance Leaders that I host in Christchurch. The purpose of the group is to provide a peer group for CEO’s which includes a number who travel from Wellington and Auckland.

Dave is a leadership expert and his company runs a number of large Corporate and Government Department Leadership Frameworks. His topic today was challenging us around the impact good CEO’s can have on a Company and explaining why New Zealand organisations do not go on (generally) to be large Global Players. I learnt a lot.

It was a good morning and generated a lot of discussion and interaction.

Leadership Lessons: The 7 Big Leadership Lessons learnt in 2013

I had a great break over Christmas and the New Year choosing to holiday in Western Australia. Hot weather, sun, swimming, wine tours and time with family and friends. Anyone in a leadership role needs time out to recharge (Link here for “Business Leaders need time out) so as to stop, pause, reflect, to do other things and most importantly to plan and refocus on what is coming up.

Last year I wrote about my 5 big Leadership lessons of 2012 (Link here) It was well read and I had a lot of comments back from others reflecting on what they had learnt.

Just prior to Christmas I asked over 200 CEO’s what they had learnt in 2013 and published the summary (link here) and I’m sure this will interest you.

Here are the 7 big leadership lessons that I personally learnt as a CEO, from working closely with other CEO’s and from leading a Reserve Army Infantry Company;

1. You are not in the role to make friends. When you are making consistent, ongoing business decisions there is a need for tough calls at times. It is impossible to please everyone and it is important that the best decision is made with the best information at the time. It is important to set expectations, have the tough conversations, to be consistent with people and to do what is needed for the business. If you communicate, plan, are transparent, guide, support and develop your people then they will respect you but ultimately you are not there to be their friend. You are there to lead. Respect and friendship follow once trust is established.Image

2. Spend more time in planning. I led a lot of change in 2013. Change in clients businesses, change within ours and change within the Army. There were many times that I had to make myself plan in more detail. There were many times I had to push those I was leading and working with to spend more time in planning. Time in planning is seldom wasted. Plan, plan, plan, delegate, plan. Even when the execution phase begins and the plan changes, the fact you did some planning will help in many ways to change the plan if needed.

3. Leadership is a lonely place. There were many times that I felt the need to talk to peers. Peers at the CEO level can be hard to find. 2013 was a year I learnt the true value of mentors, peers and hanging out with like minded people. In fact 2013 was a year it dawned on me just how big the need is for more formal peer groups. This year I plan to form a CEO leadership group to support both my own growth and the growth of others working in this space. Find smart people who want to see you succeed and ask for their support, help, advice or simply hang out with them.

4. Be completely comfortable in your own skin. I think authenticity is an absolute essential element of leadership. Being open, transparent, frank, including others in planning, decision making and problem solving makes things easier. It is easier to take others on the journey with you and it builds a high performance culture. I observe many leaders who like to keep a gap between their work life and personal life. I feel that if you are genuine and authentic then there is no gap. That does not mean you should not have privacy, rather I mean ‘be truly comfortable in your own skin.” Be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, be comfortable with them and most importantly play to your strengths. Be who you truly are and lead yourself well in the first instance!

5. Be tough on people. Be brave on the people stuff. Be clear in your expectations, lead the way, guide, support and mentor but be consistently tough on your team. Be tough on standards, performance, hitting agreed targets and KPI’s. People need toughness to get the best out of them. Doing their job for them or accepting poor performance not only lets those individuals down but it means the A Players in your team will lose respect for you as a leader and motivation in their work. It is the number one culture killer.

6. The importance of your own leadership framework. As a professional CEO (leader) you must be clear in your framework of planning, meetings, mentoring, communicating & leading through other clever people. It should be possible to drop any professional CEO into any organisation and for that individual to lead it. Take the time to identify and formalise your framework and constantly review, refine and improve it. High performance leaders commit to ongoing training, coaching, mentoring and a life of learning.

7. My heroes are people who get stuff done. I am not into movie stars or celebrities. Rather I respect and enjoy learning from leaders who make stuff happen, people who are brave enough to risk, experience and overcome failure to reach the top of their field. The likes of Mandela, Churchill, Hillary, Buzz Aldrin. I enjoyed reading a book over the break about Air NZ pilot and mountaineer Mike Allsop. I find they are genuine, tell of the fear, effort and lessons learnt and it is possible to learn something from each of them.

So as we line up 2014 as a busy year in business I think it is important for any leader to reflect on what they have learnt and to write them down. Discuss them with your team, peers or family. What did they learn? How can you build on your lessons learnt?

I’m looking forward to the year ahead and the opportunities and challenges that are already on the horizon. How is 2014 looking for you? What are you doing to grow yourself as a leader and in turn those you lead?