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Do people believe in you?

The success you achieve in the world of business depends on so many factors, including your tenacity and ability to solve problems. But one of the defining factors into whether or not your business plan eventually makes it through scrutiny, is how well you can convince people to believe in you. In fact, if you are failing in any area of your business, be it sourcing new customers or motivating your team, you need to ask yourself this very simple question:

“Do people believe in you?”

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Is your team ready for the future?

To be a leader capable of providing vision for an organisation, it is important to keep an eye firmly fixed on the future at all times. The famous former football manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who coached Manchester United to over 20 years of success, explained that the morning after his team had won a trophy, he immediately began planning for the next campaign.

But how do you engender the same forward thinking in your team? In this article, we look at some key considerations pertaining to long term vision.

Do they know where you want to be?

It is vital that you ring fence some time to map out your long term vision to your team. It won’t just take one presentation – this is something which you should be repeating in weekly and monthly meetings, and ideally record in a document which can be shared with all your team. You cannot over-communicate about your vision.

It’s good to talk

In both team meetings and one on ones, you have the chance to project what you see as the future to the members of your team. And it should be a two-way conversation; ask your team to challenge anything which they do not understand, and to offer their own input at appropriate junctures. It is accepted wisdom that ‘thoughts are things’ but a plan without action is just a dream, so make sure you are constantly communicating your long term vision to your team. There is nothing wrong with thinking out loud, getting and acting on the feedback!

Is that in line with where they see the future?

It is all very well having a long term vision as a CEO, but if this isn’t in tune with where your team sees its own future, you may end up with a disjointed strategy. For this reason, it makes sense to constantly gauge your team’s own ambitions and long term goals, so you can tap into what they really want. Once you know that, you can revisit your own vision and tweak it accordingly, ensuring it ‘hits the right note’.

So those are some tips regarding leadership, teams and long term visions – remember, communication is always key!

Image credit: 3D Team Success by ccPixs.com licensed under Creative commons 4

Bad News and Leadership – Part 2

Bad news girlIn the last blog article, I took at an example of best practice when bad news comes from within your team. However, bad news can also come from anywhere else. For example, it could be from external sources or the rest of the management team. Even changing business circumstances can (and should) make it obvious that action needs to be taken and change needs to happen. It doesn’t really matter what the nature of the change is, some will see it as bad news.

As before, you cannot avoid it and its potential impacts on your team. It is also highly unlikely that you are going to have all the answers at the outset. As always, honesty is the best policy. People will know when you are being cagey or hiding something. Being authentic as a leader is a vital quality that helps build loyalty and trust, particularly in times of uncertainty.

The other thing to bear in mind is that the bush telegraph in the office works very, very quickly. And on the back of very little information, some supposition and a whole lot of leaping to conclusions! This means that it is unlikely that you are likely to manage to keep things completely quiet. Therefore, communications and message management are going to become a key activities for you as events unfold.

As I said before, any change will be viewed as bad by someone in the team and you will need to explain what is going to happen. However, the key thing is the “why?” You must also describe the options you looked at, why the choice of that particular path was made and the benefits the change will bring. It is vitally important that your team appreciate that their leadership have explored all the options and made a rational decision, rather than one based on gut feel. It is also important that the team appreciate that the organisation is more important than any one member of it and that a fair solution to the issue has been sought.

Finally, you need to communicate all this:

  • use the most appropriate methods
  • present information in ways that all personalities can understand
  • be consistent with your message and be positive about the way forward

People look to their leadership for a sensible, rational way forward to a place that is better than where they are now. Your job is to communicate that vision and keep on communicating it. In fact, it isn’t possible to over-communicate about change, the rationale for it and where you are going as a team.

 

photo credit: Bad Girl via photopin (license)

Player motivation at the world cup – Part II

I found some of the over and under-achievement by various teams at the football world cup earlier this year fascinating. I am going to take a look at some of the issues that this raised, particularly around motivation, and also the impact on the management of teams in the UK Premiership.

As a non-football fan, I find the impact of teams such as Costa Rica incredible. It is a small country, who were fully behind their team and the players knew this. There didn’t appear to be any “rock stars” but there was a shared ethos, passion and team spirit that meant that meant that everyone wanted to raise their performance to avoid letting their team and their country down.

Let’s contrast that approach with those of Brazil or Portugal: both of these countries relied on superstars. This has some real risks: if the superstar is not playing at their best – everyone has off-days…. – then the whole team won’t get the results they want. Also, if they get injured or suspended, then the rest of the team need to raise their game which may not be that easy in the heat of a tournament. Another way this approach could cause problems is that the superstar can mask the shortfalls in performance of the rest of the team. Then, if they have an off day, the superstar can be working hard with no hope of getting the win they are looking for. This is very demotivating and also presents some physical risks around injury and fatigue.

So why is all this relevant to managers and leaders in organisations? Is your team heavily dependent on one key player who masks shortfalls in other team members? If they are having an off day, on holiday or even off sick, does the performance of your organisation sink? Will their motivation and performance dip if they feel they are not being supported by the rest? Another reason for this being important is that the reliance on one key individual or small group presents a real risk to the business: what happens if they decide to leave, or retire or are incapacitated long term? It is your job as the leader to look at the bigger picture and try and mitigate those obvious risks that could do the organisation damage at a later date.

There was an African side who, famously, had their appearance money flown to Brazil during the tournament. The incident raises a number of issues: is money really a suitable motivator for people to put their bodies on the line for their team or country. Bearing in mind the amount of money in football at the moment, and the massive amount that the stars are being paid then money really doesn’t make a huge amount of difference to them. This was really an issue of trust: the players didn’t really trust the parent associations to pay them what had been agreed to go to the tournament. Not a good way to encourage loyalty and high performance!

The issue of trust is a key one: you have to trust that your team are going to deliver for you and more importantly, they have to believe that you are going to deliver for them.

Finally, the Premiership season has just started again and there has been some discussion in the media about preparation and key team members’ readiness for the new campaign. Fatigue and injury before key activities and high pressure situations are not good things, so my question to you is: are there key people in your team that are permanently working under pressure? Who are so important that they are always busy and your whole team relies on them?

If there are, then what are you doing to provide them with the recovery time (and thanks) that they need to make sure that they are operating at peak performance when you really need them?