We all need a virtual or actual boost in our businesses now and again. It’s too easy to become complacent, comfortable or afraid of making any changes that might make things “different”.
What many successful businesses do is harness a culture of continual evolution never settling for the status quo. This can be massively helped by recruiting staff who don’t fear change and have their own streak of entrepreneurism. If this is harnessed to a leadership team with clear goals and a strategy to enable attainment of the objectives the future will look bright.
Unfortunately certain sectors contain more than their fair share of risk averse personalities and they can in turn keep a business locked into a mode that ensures it fails to capitalise on new trends and seek out opportunities.
Smaller organisations can rely on the owners far too much and expect them to feed the company through their efforts to win new customers. For a large number of proprietors the challenge of running a business alone is enough to fully occupy them and the additional responsibility of bringing in revenue gets consigned to a “to do” list that rarely gets actioned.
So what can be done for these many ambitious but largely stagnant businesses? How can they rekindle the pioneering, energetic and challenging spirit that formed them?
There are any number of resources available to the average business – but this in itself can prove to be an inhibitor as too many options can prove confusing and ultimately fail to deliver the desired result.
The same may be said of certain third party agencies who approach business owners direct and feed their anxieties. They make promises to provide the solutions sought but end up costing the company an expensive fee and wasted time in pursuing false hopes.
On a more positive note I’ve recently had the opportunity to work with the Growth Accelerator programme. The phrase “Growth Accelerator” for some seems to conjure up rather dubious pills that might be promoted via spam e-mail but I can assure you it is no quack solution. This is a well organised and effective initiative for commercial enterprises covering three core areas:
Growth Accelerator provides access to finance to assist the companies in achieving their agreed goals.
What is reassuring about this programme is the assessment and selection of coaches and clear focus on quality service and the ultimate delivery for the businesses taking part.
Growth Accelerator is available to businesses registered in the UK who have fewer than 250 staff and a turnover less than £40m. Essentially they must be looking to grow their business by 20% – turnover or profit.
The Growth Accelerator process uses template guides that are introduced by experienced coaches offering a highly visible and effective tool to help the business see their future growth over a 3 year period.
It’s certainly not the only option but it is currently one of the most popular initiatives sought out by businesses wishing to grow but to do so in a manner that is both practical and sustainable.
If this is something you would like to explore further please feel free to drop me a line and we will put you in touch with your regional Growth Manager.
Have you ever faced the dilemma of thinking how best to phrase the opening line of an e-mail? The trend appears to be for the “hope all’s good with you” or “hope this finds you well”. Nothing wrong with this, it’s polite and shows an interest in the well-being of the person you’re engaging with. But on the receiving end of such an e-mail are we ever tempted to tell it how it really is?
That would be rather “awkward” and put the recipient in an uncomfortable spot as to how to answer such a statement. But in one way this answer to the original e-mail is refreshing as it’s truly honest.
The difficulty of course is that no one wants to admit to fragility or weakness, stress or worries suggest failure. The reality is at some time or another we all suffer from varying degrees of stress and have genuine doubts over either a business or personal direction and our own capabilities; especially when we’re up against it and under pressure.
The media regularly reports on the trend of business confidence sourced from trade and sector specific surveys. I’ve always suspected that they are very heavily skewed, with a positive spin put on the answers. Respondents will want to talk up their own position and only express genuine concern when it is a globally recognised issue such as the height of the recent recession. After so much gloom we’re desperate for good news and we don’t want to disappoint. But it’s easier to consider business buoyancy over the rather more personal and potentially painful analysis of our own self-confidence.
So is our level of personal confidence that important?
The answer is clearly “yes” – A leader’s self-confidence is at the heart of business success and growth. Through the recessionary period many tens of thousands of business owners have faced tough decisions and trading conditions which impact on their personal outlook and mood. With shoots of recovery appearing there’s an expectation that these entrepreneurs and owners will simply click back into overdrive and quickly return to their super confident persona.
The truth is it is not that easy to turn on confidence, it relies on a number of factors and will differ for each person depending on their own leadership skills, life experience, measure of success and management capability.
Optimism and confidence are crucial attributes for business leaders as those who work for them look to the signals from the boss to determine their own feelings of security. It’s not hard to see that a forward looking buoyant and confident business owner will engender a positive atmosphere throughout their organisation. Not that it’s entirely all down to the one individual but if they’re not confident and positive in their communications it will send an uncertain message to others and lead to discontent and discomfort amongst the workforce.
Ironically for certain senior executives their outward view is often believed to be positive whilst the reality is far from that perception. Body language and tone of voice might seem minor elements compared to the content of any communication but we know that as humans we take in a wide range of signals and are naturally very adept at translating them.
If not sure how you’re perceived ask a few trusted colleagues for their unbiased appraisal, it might be quite an eye opener.
Without a clearly understood vision for the future, business owners will be likely to react to situations as and when they arise leading to “knee jerk” responses. This will not breed confidence amongst the workforce no matter how well a leader presents their decisions. A lack of management consistency often creates feelings of uncertainty amongst staff heightened in times of trading difficulties and increased competitive pressures.
At the heart of the corporate confidence issue is the conviction of a clearly articulated and implemented strategy to take the organisation forward. Whilst insecurities and concern still exists in many sectors those who’ll survive will have calm, assured captains steering the business on a course to deliver a strong and sustainable future. With plans in place and everyone understanding their role all who share the journey can themselves grow in confidence and far more readily contribute to the success of the business.
Below are 5 suggested tips to assist leaders develop a stronger feeling of self-confidence.
5 Tips to Build Self Confidence
1. Pragmatism over Perfection. Don’t get hung up on the felling that every decision and act you make must be perfect and borne out of your instinctive powers as a leader. Making the right decisions can often prove difficult but remember there are frequently situations in business where there is no right or wrong response. Be logical and gather the data you need to make an informed decision.
2. Commit to your Decisions — Communicate with conviction and provide details of the outputs from the decision.
3. Failure is an Option – Mistakes will happen and that’s life but make sure that lessons are learnt from any failure and not repeated. The best leaders freely admit to shortcomings and can identify how success was often borne out of projects that didn’t initially deliver.
4. Body Language — We all have moments of fear and trepidation in our lives but if others are looking to you for direction you need to show courage and calmness especially when under pressure.
5. Enjoy the Moment and your Work – We can spend a great deal of time at work especially if you’re the owner or senior manager of a business. There will be good and bad moments but make sure you celebrate the successes with your team and be there to pick everyone up when a deal fails to materialise.
Won’t be long and the House of Laud’s doorbell will be getting its annual Halloween workout from the local sweet-toothed, short-person, and some not so short invasion squad. When did we start parading the pumpkin and craving candy? It’s yet another US import that along with “Prom” has the younger generation hooked.
Not that I’m against US imports, I quite like the Apple iPad, a blast of Nirvana always improves my driving and Disney do make great “feel good” movies but not all things US leave me with a warm comfortable feeling.
Politics, now there’s something we shouldn’t import from the US. Or are we too late? The personality driven style of campaigning has worryingly been adopted by all parties. We can only count our blessings that the budgetary decisions are not as the US system and used as an American Football where gaining yards against a team can actually cause global recession part II.
My hope is that those in power and who finally found an answer to America’s “shut-down” will stop playing games in future and find sensible solutions that in some way retain the laudable aims of President Obama’s Health Care Reform Bill.
For the Republicans to be able to wield such a huge political stick and continually seek to beat the President with it is nothing short of a scandal. Of course these are my own opinions and others may well disagree but the basic position is surely one we cannot support. If the US “Shut-down” and budgetary stalemate had not been resolved and they were seen to default on their loans it wouldn’t have just been trick or treaters in the good old U.S. of A. crying at their lack of candy….we’d all be left short and can we afford to face such a dilemma just at the point we looked to be turning a corner?
As I write this Obama has announced a settlement and a compromise appears to have been reached. I applaud his stance with the Health Care Reform but managing a country is really no different to managing a business. When faced with an inevitable and catastrophic outcome that can be avoided through a mediated solution you need to put ego and personality to one side and negotiate to take matters forward. It was more than time to lay the cards down and stop playing political poker.
By finding a solution however the political momentum appears now to be firmly with Obama with the US electorate both angry and shocked at the tactics used by the Tea Party representatives and others within the Republican party.
Whilst not pretending to be an expert on US or Global politics it does strike me that the time has come for such activity to be scrutinised under a process similar to the 7 principles of Nolan Group’s suggested approach to public service.
For me the above are a pretty good rule of thumb for anyone in a public position of authority. From school governor to senate representative to the President himself.
We can all agree to disagree on points of principle but when stubbornness and point scoring prevents progress it’s time to step in. My preference now would be to undertake a review of the process that led to the crisis to put in place measures to prevent such calamities in future. Without this we could be back at exactly the same point in just a few months.
Of course I’m all in favour of balanced mediated non confrontational or posturing approaches but…..if any sticky fingered haribo horror tries to mug me for a sugar rush be warned. I may just say trick… 😉
David Laud Managing Partner – i2i Business Solutions LLP tweet @davidlaud
A few years ago a client turned to me after a meeting and said he would hate to have my job. At the time and as you might expect this took me by surprise not least because the individual making the statement was himself a very successful lawyer and partner in a successful firm and actually the meeting had been very positive.
When asked to qualify why my role might present as a poisoned chalice to him he referred to the constant pressure to deliver results. One winning strategy or campaign would never be enough and that there was a constant demand for positive outcomes borne out of successfully winning work from the competition.
That might sound a bit odd certainly now we’re in such a competitive climate and expectations for delivery are not only directed at the marketers but each and every facet of the business.
What’s interesting is that this conversation stuck with me over the years. The reason is that it made me, for the first time, seriously question my own career path and if indeed the suggestion of unrelenting demand for results would make for a happy working life in the long term.
The reality of course is that there are stresses in everyone’s job from CEO, entrepreneur, director manager, homemaker, carer, doctor, parent, journalist you name it there’s pressure to be found. We can all question ourselves as to our performance, relationships, success and failures and when times have been tough with the economy many of us have been hard on ourselves or had others make unrealistic demands leading to unnecessary stress.
When I have a bad day and let’s face it we all have them, I revisit that conversation and remind myself why I do what I do and why over the years it’s proven to be a good career choice. That technique helps keep me focussed on the positives and avoids dwelling on negative thoughts that can seriously damage your working life MOJO. We all need a healthy dose of self-belief and confidence but it can be a greater challenge when events really turn against us and at those times a little external help might be required.
Questioning our own abilities can be caused by our mood and often the actions of others which can frequently be outside of our control. That doesn’t stop us worrying and spiralling into a feeding frenzy of stress as we think back to the minutiae of our working days or projects in a negative post match analysis that either finds you coming up short or blaming everyone else for their failures.
How do you overcome these thoughts and loss of confidence?
Wherever you are in your career, just starting out, at a mid-point crossroads or towards the end you deserve to be making the very most of that time you spend on it. Re-discovering your MOJO, the element which drives you, makes you stand out from the crowd and defines who you are can provide the all-important spark to re-ignite your work life. It can also help you realise your ambitions and life goals by providing a fresh focus to the time you’re spending at work and your priorities and more effectively counteract those negative forces.
Are you happy with your role? Content with the position you find yourself in at this point in time? Do you encounter many frustrations in your day to day work and find it difficult to manage them?
If the answer to the above is yes, yes, no in that order then congratulations but if not or you know someone who isn’t quite so satisfied with their life you might want to consider this short blog on looking at life afresh.
For many of us work is more than a means to an end, it’s a passion and something we take very seriously but all too few of us take the time to review where we are and focus on what we truly want to achieve.
Too many of us find ourselves trapped in careers or situations that limit the scope of achieving our potential. Overlooked for promotion or unable to grow the business; frustration builds until a day arrives when it may be too late to change and the opportunity has passed you by.
But that’s far too depressing and of course it’s never really too late. What’s important is seizing the moment, identifying that you have far more to give and working through the possibilities that could lead to a rejuvenated approach to work and life as a whole.
As part of the human condition we can at times find ourselves drifting through life. Be it our own personal relationships or career, a common failing is that we settle, let things remain unchanged because change represents a challenge and a challenge can make you uncomfortable.
Rather than being caught asleep at the wheel of your life it might be time to turn up the music, open a window and see what is really happening around you.
Make time for reflection and re-assess your priorities. The past 5+ years of recession and painfully slow recovery has led many to take a bunker mentality. Keep the head down and think “hopefully when I look up I’ll still have a job and/or a business”. The risk is that whilst you’re taking this “safe” option life is moving on a pace and others are seeking out opportunities around you.
So what can be done to bring things into sharp focus? Ask yourself these questions and be as honest as you can in answering them.
• Who are the positive influences in your life and why?
• Who are the negative influencers and why?
• What is most important to you, what could you not live without?
• Who do you admire and why?
• What do you like to do? (For work and leisure)
• What don’t you like doing?
• What would you like to achieve from your life? What does success look like for you?
• What is preventing you from achieving this goal?
• What steps could you take in the next 6 months to work towards the goal?
Being surrounded by negativity can be a very draining experience and in time can turn you into a negative force yourself. Identifying positive influences and spending time in their company can be a big step in helping boost your own morale. Finding a suitable mentor to support you in the quest to find the path to your goals can also be hugely rewarding. If you are in danger of waving at life as it passes by, decide to do something and decide to do it this week. You owe it to yourself and those around you to be the best possible version of whoever you are and the positive influence you can bring to bear on others can be infectious.
Good solid support and advice in the shape of an experienced and qualified mentor can be just the sat nav you need to put you back on course.
If any of the above resonates with you and you’d like further information to help move matters forward drop me a line email@example.com