Business leader behaviours to help you to implement strategy in your team successfully

Even the most brilliant of strategies need to be communicated and implemented effectively in order to be successful. You may have drawn up the grand plan, but is it understood and followed? Adjustments and tweaks to a leaders behaviour can sometimes make all the difference. We are very grateful to Floor Slagter, one of PRS’ newest associates, who has extracted some practical advice from her PhD research on the subject in the form of some top tips which we hope you will find useful.

What business leader behaviours help you to implement strategy in your team successfully?

Many organisations spend a lot of time formulating their strategy. However, a formulated, well-thought out strategy that remains unimplemented is worthless.

Also, if management has communicated the headlines of the strategy, but operational follow-up from the other parts of the organisation does not happen, the strategy becomes fragmented, creating misalignment throughout business units.

Consequently the image of management on the work-floor is undermined – How serious or professional are they perceived, if they don’t do what they set out to deliver?

If you are struggling to implement your strategy, you are not alone:
Research (1) points out that “two-thirds to three-quarters of large organizations struggle to implement their strategies”, and that often a majority of the employees are not aware, or do not understand the strategy of the company they work for.

If you are thinking “So what?”, maybe you should think twice. Companies that have no clear strategy implemented suffer from less employee commitment and satisfaction (2), hence more employee turnover or underperformance that simply costs you money. This is old news, since we discovered this fact over 60 years ago. However, we still fail to give strategy implementation the attention it deserves.

As a business leader you can start changing this tomorrow, by simply focusing on the following 4 categories of behaviours (3), you will be more successful in delivering strategy implementation within your team.

1. Provide the dot on the horizon

Communicate goals clearly. You can’t overdo this. An average person needs to see or hear a message 7 times before it sticks and he or she acts upon it. Often as a business leader you forget that employees have not been involved in the process of strategy formulation, so it will take time before the team has the same level of knowledge as you do. Inform your employees about goals, expected results and the importance, by tying the initiatives to the strategic goal it corresponds to. In this way, work instantly has more meaning for the employee.

Delegate… with all the consequences, so that employees feel ownership. Check up on progress and provide relevant information, facts, figures, and opinions.

Tip: Plan an OGSM workshop with your team (Objective, Goals, Strategies and Measurements) in which you link team KPI’s, activities and owners of these activities to the goals and objective of the company.

2. Enthuse people to participate

Tell stories! Talk positively about the initiatives that are taking place to your employees.. But also, confront and question: discuss when things are not working and learn from this. Call people to order if they get off track.
Identify threats and opportunities and discuss the pros and cons of new proposals.
Suggest problem solutions or brainstorm with your employees about the right solution and offer help where necessary.

Tip: As a business leader you don’t always have to come up with the solution. Asking questions (and preferably open questions) can be just as, if not more, powerful. Experiment with the power of questions during your team meetings and ask a minimum of 10 open questions (starting with “What?” “How?” “Describe?”).

3. Start the dialogue!

Ask your employees for their ideas, advice and opinions – and listen to these. As a business leader you don’t have to have all the answers. It is very powerful to involve your team in coming up with ideas. Simply ask the question “ What can we do better?”. Encourage your team to develop new ideas and use innovation. Give feedback, but also be open to receive feedback – both positive and negative. Lead by example and correct behaviour that is directed against the team.
Celebrate successes that are achieved, make these collective and communicate these. Do the same with failures. In this way you stimulate team learning.

Tip: Stimulate your team to experiment with their improvement ideas using the PDCA cycle (4) :

Plan

– Identify the problem, collect relevant data, and understand the problem’s root cause, develop hypotheses about what the issues may be, and decide which one to test.

Do

– Develop and implement a solution; decide upon a measurement to gauge its effectiveness, test the potential solution, and measure the results.

Check

– Confirm the results through before-and-after fact comparison. Study the result, measure effectiveness, and decide whether the hypothesis is supported or not.

Act

– Document the results, inform others about process changes, and make recommendations for the future PDCA cycles. If the solution was successful, implement it. If not, tackle the next problem and repeat the PDCA cycle again.

4. Don’t be the boss, be approachable!

As a business leader, make sure you spend time on the work floor, preferably every single day. Show interest in your team members and how your team feels when their work is accomplished. Show understanding and listen. If you make a mistake admit it and learn from it (again: lead by example). Don’t underestimate the importance of this sense of empathy and humanity you can add as a business leader to the workscape of your employees.
Reflect on your own activities and behaviour. Often as a business leader you get caught up in the daily, hectic ways of working and loose sight of the long-term goals, that are just, if not more, important.

Tip: Make sure that you reserve some time to reflect on your week, schedule this in your agenda, for example on the Friday morning. Simply ask yourself the question: How have I worked towards success this week in both the long term and the short term? And what will my actions be next week to be successful in both the short and long term?

(1) Sull, D., Homkes, R. & Sull, C. (2015). Why strategy execution unravels—and what to do about it. Harvard Business Review, 93, 57-66
(2) Drucker, P. F. (1954). The practice of management. New York: Harper & Row.
(3) Based on Floor Slagter’s PhD research at the Rotterdam School of Business, Erasmus University Rotterdam
(4) Langley, G., Moen, R., Nolan, K., Nolan, T., Norman, C., Provost, L., 2009. The Improvement Guide, 2nd Edition. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, page 24. https://theleanway.net/the-continuous-improvement-cycle-pdca

If anything you’ve read has struck a chord with you, or you would like to find out more please do not hesitate to contact PRS directly for a conversation.

PRS to Develop Business in US

We are delighted to announce that Gerry Cappelli is joining the PRS team to lead the business in the US. Based in New York, Gerry has a wealth of experience across financial services firms. Together with her coaching and mediation expertise she will be a strong ambassador for PRS. Andrew Pullman, CEO, says “I am pleased that Gerry has joined the team. Having worked with her for over 9 years at Dresdner Kleinwort, I know that she will bring strong leadership to our activities in North America.”

Gerry is an experienced HR executive who is spearheading our initiative to grow our business in the US. She has worked for several leading global financial services firms in a senior leadership capacity. Her expertise includes employee relations, litigation risk management, talent acquisition, talent management, reductions in force, change management and company reorganisations. Gerry is certified as a Conversational Intelligence Coach, an Executive Coach and a Master Career Coach. She is also skilled in administering a number of assessment instruments as MBTI, TKI, ELI and SEIQ. In addition she is qualified as an Arbitrator, Community and Workplace Mediator.

Leadership Lessons from Lions

It’s not coming home. Not yet, anyway. There is a sense of disappointment, but with it, an overwhelming feeling of pride. Despite losing at the semi final, the England Team’s journey to and through the competition has lifted the nation and also shown us some useful lessons about forming and leading a team.

As a relatively young team (and the least experienced in the competition) they have learnt a lot. They have been much more successful than expected. Cynics will point to the opposition they faced and their route to the semi final but anyone who remembers the game against Iceland in 2016 will know that in the past England have been capable of losing to any opposition placed before them.

This time was different. Why were they successful? There are many reasons, but I have identified five key approaches which I believe can be adopted by professions beyond football.

Being well organised and led

The coach, Gareth Southgate, created an environment where the team worked well together. He arranged teambuilding activities with the Royal Marines that helped bond the team. Interestingly, these were conducted without access to mobile phones and social media!

Making good use of specialist coaches

Employing a sport psychologist is nothing new but, in this case, the team identified a key challenge and used the appropriate specialist resources to address it. England are a team who have been accused of not caring sufficiently about international football, especially in comparison with their well-paid club competitions. This was not evident in 2018 and the different ways of working as a team that were introduced delivered a pride and passion not seen for some time.

Creating a safe environment, without traditional rules

Unlike in previous tournaments, family time was encouraged and had the result of keeping the team relaxed and calm. There are many, many people for whom family is the ultimate motivation for work (whether making them proud, providing for them or both). Erecting barriers to work/life balance may seem like a way to encourage focus but can have adverse effects on a team’s performance.

Practicing basic skills

The team focused on set pieces such as free kicks in order to optimise their opportunities. This is invaluable advice for any profession – a successful start-up restaurant will have a small menu of winning dishes rather than pages and pages of choice. For an inexperienced team, focussing on the basics and a few areas where you can really deliver is far more important than variety.

The demise of the prima donnas

The focus of the team was the team rather than individual performance. It could be argued that Neymar’s theatrics cost the Brazilian team their place in the finals, causing annoyed referees to give the benefit of the doubt to the opposition. Off the pitch (and in the workplace) diva behaviour can be equally destructive and was weeded out of the England camp. As Peter Sullivan, the former captain of the Australian Rugby Team said “A champion team will always beat a team of champions”.

Could your team benefit from developing key skills rather than always learning something new? Are you (inadvertently or deliberately) creating a strained environment by limiting people’s family time? How do you deal with the company prima donna? There’s plenty of food for thought. If something here strikes a chord, please feel free to contact PRS and speak with one of our associate leadership coaches.

The England Team were much more successful than expected, but there is no doubt that they will keep working to improve, as all good teams do.

The Final Frontier – a case study on coaching across cultures

executive coaching culture

Today we are featuring an article of interest by Ian Claffey about his coaching work in Mongolia. It is a fascinating look at the opportunities and challenges that working in a different culture presents, and the approaches required to meet them. Importantly, if you ever find yourself in this part of the world, Ian also provides a selection of top tips for doing business in Mongolia.

Coaching in Mongolia – The Final Frontier

Arriving at Chinggis Khaan International Airport on a cold winters day was always going to be a shock to the system, more so as I had left Thailand several hours earlier, which had been +38 degrees. I had known cold as a child in Glasgow, but this was different. Ulaanbaatar is one of the coldest capital cities in the world. It would be easy to think that an average 250 days of sun each year would bring warmth. However, temperatures range from -40°C in the winter to+40°C in the Gobi Desert in the summer.

My first contact with Mongolians was through their Embassy in London. I was invited to a function, and I was delighted to attend. It was there I was introduced to the leadership team from the Association for Development of Mongolian Women in Europe, (ADMWE) when they held a dinner to celebrate Mongolian Lunar New Year, ‘Tsagaan Sar’.

The (ADMWE) were planning their ‘Mongolian Woman of the Year’ awards to be held in Frankfurt. I thought I would show goodwill and offer to provide and pay for a leadership coaching programme for their fund-raising auction, not thinking they would ask me to attend the event in Germany.

coaching mongoliaMy coaching career has provided me with some interesting experiences over the years, including conflict mediation in Nigeria, team development on the Vaal River in South Africa, coaching Group Internal Audit Teams in Singapore, Tokyo, and Zurich, as well as supporting a Leadership Team, at Board level, in the mountains of Tuscany, none of which prepared me for being auctioned off to 150 Mongolians. At the auction the programme I provided was bid for by a CEO from a leading company in Ulaanbaatar, I was very happy the (ADMWE) made some money from the event. The proceeds from last year’s event provided a range of programmes for children in Mongolia. These included supporting girls to build confidence and leadership skills. Also, a strong boy’s initiative, helping to develop good interpersonal skills, along with providing 200 children with school bags and writing materials for the start of the new school year.

I have travelled extensively with my work in Asia, mostly in South East Asia, but arriving in Mongolia was like entering a new world. The more I got to know the people, the more I liked them. I read about their history, values, beliefs, and culture. I also noticed they are fiercely proud and have a unique presence – a quiet strength.

My professional career has been built, in part, trying to understand different cultures, to provide solutions for the clients, and organisations I work with, who are operating in new cultures, and who are often facing cross-cultural challenges or conflict.
In my experience, having empathic understanding is key to getting the best out of people when arriving in a new country. Depending on which part of the world a direct approach may also be needed. To be too inclusive may be seen as a weakness in some countries. I was interested to see what might work best in Ulaanbaatar.

One of the largest opportunities and cultural challenges facing Mongolia is the Oyu Tolgoi mine. The mine was given its name from the turquoise-coloured copper ore found in the Gobi Desert. Mongolia has an abundance of natural resources including coal, copper, gold, uranium, and rare earth minerals. This has made it a very attractive destination for international organisations. I suspect that doing business with international organisations, without losing their identity, will remain high on the agenda for Mongolians.

Mongolia joined the free market in 1990, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was followed by the introduction of a multi-party system and a market economy.

coaching UlaanbaatarOne of the few countries in the world not to have embraced executive coaching, I was keen to look at how coaching could work in Mongolia. I wanted to make sure it was set at international standard. When in Bangkok, I met with the Regional Director from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) for Asia to explore how we could ensure quality. We are now looking at getting an (ICF) Chapter set up in Ulaanbaatar.

Resource-rich in copper, gold and coal, Mongolia is in a very strong position to make the most from its natural wealth, in particular, Oyu Tolgoi mine and other mining projects. Strong leadership and direction from the MPP, The Mongolians Peoples Party, along with investment by the IMF, the Asian Development Bank, World Bank and input from China, Japan and South Korea will make it possible for Mongolians to reap the rewards.

Taking a corporate approach, with a long-term view of creating robust senior leaders, is where coaching can help. Developing local ‘talent’ will, in my opinion, facilitate better relationships when dealing with multiple stakeholders from a range of different countries, levels and disciplines. Building a goal-setting and solution-focused mindset, based on the ability to both give and receive constructive feedback, is critical when developing strong leaders.

I have put together a list of tips for doing business in Mongolia:

• Mongolians are very hospitable people. Try to accept any food or drink you are offered, even if you only take a little. They can be offended if you refuse. Having said that horse milk is an acquired taste!
• Accepting with two hands is the way things are done, the right hand supports the other at the wrist or elbow.
• Respect for elders is shown by greeting them first, try not to walk in front of an older person, this is seen as sign of rudeness.
• As you enter the meeting room, it is normal that your host will indicate when you are to sit.
• Your host may be late, this is part cultural and part Ulaanbaatar traffic. It is not meant to be disrespectful.
• Legal and business documents may be viewed as work in progress, rather than the finished item. A flexible mindset may be required from time to time.
• Giving or exchanging small gifts is often seen as part of the relationship building stage and a nice experience.
• The exchange of inexpensive gifts may also take place on the signing of contracts or agreements.
• It is sometimes customary to toast with a shot of vodka, be careful if you are offered Chinggis Khaan ‘Gold Label’ vodka, it is 39% Alc. Vol.
• My final tip and one that works in most countries is to behave as you would if you were a guest in someone’s home. This one has never let me down.

Ian Claffey MA – Executive Coach, APECS Acc, NCP Acc, MAC

A Brexit of sorts? Leadership lessons from Dunkirk

brexit
The United Kingdom is embattled, standing alone against all of Europe and trying to facilitate the best possible exit for its people. Is the 21st century Brexit the equivalent of 1940’s Dunkirk? There may be some comparisons to be made but it is perhaps not the most appropriate or tactful of analogies. However, what we can see in the events of Dunkirk that is of relevance today is truly effective leadership under extreme pressure.

Christopher Nolan’s film is currently retelling what is, to some, a familiar story. A new, younger audience may be learning about the dramatic escape of over 300,000 soldiers for the first time. All stand to learn something. Whether you’re conducting negotiations in Brussels or running your own business here in the UK, there are leadership lessons to be learned from the example of Captain Bill Tennant. As the Naval officer tasked with organising the beach evacuations at Dunkirk, he demonstrated the importance of:

1. Seizing opportunities
2. Innovating
3. Acting with grace and humility

Did the British get lucky at Dunkirk? Yes, to an extent. Hitler’s decision to halt his ground advance and allow Goering to finish off the trapped Allied forces from the air provided a window of opportunity. However, this opportunity could have amounted to very little had it not been fully seized. Up until this point, under 8000 soldiers per day were being evacuated. The opportunity of extra time alone would have only resulted in 45,000 men rescued (Vice-Admiral Ramsay’s initial estimate). Tennant recognised that they had been given a chance to lift many, many more.

Good luck might come your way or you might be given a great opportunity but remember this is just the beginning – what can you do to make the most of this chance?

To fully seize the opportunity of an extra few days, Tennant set about rethinking the evacuation strategy and repurposing the resources at his disposal. The East Mole breakwater – a structure never designed to be a jetty – was converted into a dock. Boats could moor alongside twenty-four hours a day, regardless of tide. Captains who had been waiting in the channel for troops to be ferried out to them could now directly rescue soldiers themselves. Nearly 18,000 men were evacuated the first day it was used; Over 47,000 the day after.

What could you do differently? Do you possess resources you could put to a new, more effective use or are there ways you could involve members of your team more directly?

The world remembers ‘the little ships’. Quite rightly, the civilians who risked everything to do their part and take their small vessels into a warzone and onto the beaches are the most recognisable image of the operation. However, of the 300,000 eventually rescued from Dunkirk, over 70% owed their escape to Tennant’s idea of using the mole. He was a Royal Navy officer though – he was doing his duty. The civilians were a small part of the operation but they were doing something extraordinary.

Your part in a great success may not always be obvious. Hopefully this doesn’t bother you – personal ambition shouldn’t come before the team’s result. Your initiative and innovation may be at the heart of a big win but if members of your team have performed exceptionally it is right that they receive the recognition.

The British see the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 as a heroic success, in the face of potential disaster; the Germans viewed it as the final victory of its Continental European conquests; and today the Russian media has said that Dunkirk was in fact all about cowardice. It is all about perspective. I am in no doubt that those days were an incredible feat of human endeavour, and remind us in business today that, actually, anything is possible!

High Performing Cultures – Five lessons from the All Blacks

leadership culture

This week we have a guest blog on leadership culture by PRS associate Richard Watts. As the pundits consider what we have learned on the pitch from the Lions tour, Richard explores five business lessons we can learn from the Lions’ hosts – a team with a winning mentality and high expectations.

In rugby, we have just witnessed the British and Irish Lions draw a series with the All Blacks. What struck me was that the All Blacks captain after the final drawn match said, ‘we lost’. From a population of under 5 million they ‘lost’ to the Lions nations with a combined population of 69 million. However, over the last decade, the All Blacks rugby team have epitomised high performance, their win rate is around 95%, they are without a doubt the iconic market leader.

Much has been written about the All Blacks culture and how it might be applied to business. Sport teams only have to perform for short match periods, they have time to train and rehearse before they execute. In the commercial world, you are always on the pitch and there is not a bench of substitutes. So, what can we in business learn from the high performing culture that the All Blacks have built? Below are some key tenets of the All Blacks culture.

1.High Performance is the combination of Capability and Behaviours. You need to focus on creating and maintaining, under pressure, the right culture to allow winning behaviours. People can have the right skills but need to apply them in the right way.

2. People will rise to the challenge if they own the challenge. Everyone needs to take ownership. Pass the ball, as a leader pass responsibility on. Ask the right inclusive questions of your team and they will feel empowered to respond more positively.

3. No egos. No one is bigger than the organisation. Select, promote and retain people for their values not just experience. Disruptive influencers need to change or be changed.

4. Better people make better All Blacks. Yet again select carefully, you can develop specialist skills to meet your business needs, you can develop and train your people but you can’t fundamentally change a person’s character. Your values need to be more than words, you must bring them to life with genuine behaviours.

5. Leave the All Blacks jersey in a better place. Talking about leaving a legacy in your business is much easier if you are a shareholder, so it is crucial to effectively engage your employees with your brand through: a clear purpose, authentic values, a shared vision and a transparent strategy.

There are many more great examples of high performance, team and leadership behaviours to be learnt from the All Blacks. If you want to find out more about how we can help you create a high performing culture please contact us at People Risk Solutions.

Richard Watts is a leadership and strategy consultant. He has spent over a decade helping global businesses build high performing cultures with a focus on operational effectiveness. He honed his leadership skills as a senior operational leader in the Royal Marines, a high performing organisation which was based on liveable enduring values.

Leadership across different worlds: Post-truth, facts and feelings

leadership worlds
2017 has been a strange year so far. There is a disconnect between how things are and how things feel. Last month saw a leadership contest where the winner felt like they had lost and the loser felt as if they had won. This weekend a rugby team felt like they had lost even though they had travelled to the far side of the planet, beaten the odds, come from behind in a series and achieved parity with the best in the world.

Elsewhere in the world, the G20 summit took place. Taking part was the man who had won the US presidential election, even though he had lost the popular vote and is under a Federal investigation. It may not feel as though he is particularly presidential, yet it is he with whom leaders must meet. In the Middle East, Iraqi forces retook Mosul; but the video images of a bombed-out and shattered husk of a city do not convey the feel of a victory.

There are two versions of the world – the world that is and the world that appears to be. Where should we focus our attention? ‘On reality, of course’ would be a likely answer, ‘on facts and truth’. But in a post-truth world, is there still room for fact? The General Election and the EU Referendum were certainly fought on feelings rather than facts. The Alt-Right in the US and the Alt-Left in the UK dominate the social media news space with their ‘alternative facts’. The stock market has always been based on confidence not evidence.

The truth is, as Twenty-First Century leaders, we need to be aware of both worlds. Truth may be unpopular right now, but it won’t go away. No matter how successful you may feel your business is, if the company accounts are telling a different story you may need to take action or seek assistance. If a star employee decides to move on or retire, it may feel like a disaster, but rational thought will remind you that other exceptional performers are out there just waiting for an opportunity. You may feel as though you’ve been particularly diligent regarding regulations such as the Senior Managers Regime, but you are either compliant or you are not.

When it comes to people, we need to remember that feelings are not always telegraphed. We need to develop our emotional intelligence and empathise with how the world feels to others. The records may show that an individual has achieved a great series of results recently. However, you can’t assume that they’re feeling positive about this – the effort may be utterly draining them. An analysis of requirements and skills could indicate that someone is ideally suited to their role, whilst they may actually feel great frustration in their current position and be deeply unhappy.

Leaders need to be able to keep track of multiple worlds. The way the world is – the cold, hard world of facts, laws and reality cannot be ignored. However, the way the world feels is important too – judging trends and gauging direction is how you recognise opportunities. Last, and by no means least, is the need to remember the personal worlds that people inhabit. Clients, competitors, employees, and partners all see the world through their own lens and it is a reality to be mindful of. A work culture is a reflection of how a leader leads, and cultures of understanding can evolve where these worlds can co-exist without friction.

Bearing these things in mind might not help make any sense of a strange year on a strange planet, but it may help you to navigate the strangeness more easily.

A Leadership Tale

May Corbyn Nuttall
Once upon a time there were three leaders trying to gain control of their country. One was a confident leader who was so determined to be strong and stable that she told everyone. Unfortunately she did not display other authentic leadership qualities such as some humility, a willingness to engage with her people and believed everything that her advisers told her.

Another leader focused a lot of his energies towards the younger voters. He promised lots of things that would appeal to them like minimum pay, scrapping of university fees and making the environment much more youth friendly. He also came across as authentic and relaxed when talking to voters. He also made good use of social media and communicated effectively.

Finally there was the leader who inherited a political party that was in complete disarray. He also had to try and sell an old set of policies that had already been achieved and there did not seem to be anything new to offer. He definitely came across to voters as someone who had been given a “hospital pass”.

So what was the result. Bizarrely, the person who won the election actually felt that they had lost – mainly because they were expected to win by a massive landslide and did not. The person who came second felt that they had won because they had not been wiped out. Finally, the leader is disarray remained In disarray and not only did not get voted in, but also resigned as leader.

So what is the key leadership lesson? It is all about trust – If all the other factors had remained the same, different levels of trust could have altered the fortunes of all three.

If the first leader had established a strong trust with people beforehand, they may have supported her decision not to engage with the process, maybe even seen it as a sign of superiority. But not enough trust was there. The second leader’s ideas were considered by critics to be too fanciful and optimistic. But many people ignored the negativity because they trusted him. The third leader had to rely on trust. Having been dealt an empty hand, he had to create belief for his followers in a new relevance and purpose. But the trust wasn’t there.

The moral of the tale? If you can persuade your people to put their trust in you then success is much more likely.

When to Stay and When to Go

arsene-wenger-39876

Managing Departure

You are not always in control of your own departure – just ask the miserable crowds stranded at Heathrow and Gatwick following BA’s global IT failure. However, some people’s departure from work is very much within their own control. Some leaders have and will face the prospect of deciding when to step down…or deciding not to.

The question of whether or not Arsene Wenger would stay as manager of Arsenal or leave was raised yet again at the weekend and answered this Wednesday with the signing of a new two-year contract. His story, though, remains an interesting case study.

Another Roll of the Dice

Wenger has been a leader for over 20 years. He has undoubtedly been a successful leader, with more FA Cup wins than any other manager. This weekend’s record 13th Cup win could have been a suitable occasion to ‘go out on a high’, but perhaps it was not ‘high’ enough. Wenger has unfulfilled ambitions – he has never won the Champions League and far rather exit with Arsenal as domestic league champions than cup victors.

Arsenal fans have ambitions too. They want the same successes as he does but, as each year goes by without them, increasing numbers call for a new leader to achieve them. It is a situation familiar to many beyond the world of professional sport – just when do you call it a day? Do you gamble on a last chance at glory and, should you fail, risk denting your hard won reputation from the years before?

Controlling the Agenda

In politics, Tony Blair engineered his departure before the 2010 election. Clouds had gathered surrounding his decision to invade Iraq and his popularity was on the wane. He chose to leave as PM, on his own terms rather than face a likely election defeat. Margaret Thatcher, on the other hand, clung on despite falling polls. The knives came out from within her own party and the end of her career was an ignominious one.

Parliaments are intended to last five years and a football season the best part of a year. The unexpected can and does happen, but there is often more time for strategic thought. In business the timescales are often much shorter and success can turn to failure very quickly. When should a successful leader step aside from their business?

Do you manage the agenda and pick your moment, or wait for the wolves to reach the door? Even if you’re not at that stage in your career it’s worth giving some thought as to how you would like to step away. The ‘stay or go’ moment may be thrust upon you by a sudden crisis or success and you may well be grateful that you took the time to think through the pros and cons beforehand.

French Lessons – Macron’s election from a leadership perspective

Macron
The election of Emmanuel Macron as the next French president comes as a relief to many, but presents France, Europe and the world with a series of unknowns. At this stage there is much speculation, in terms of policy at least. However, from a leadership perspective there are some interesting learning points.

Whilst our General Election may be framed as an individual leadership issue due to the Brexit negotiations, it is not designed to be so. The French presidential election, however, is all about the individual and therefore their leadership capability, as well as policies. When the French populace were asked to assess presidential capability, it appears that age and experience were no longer two of the essential leadership qualities required.

France seem to have broken the mould by not only voting in the youngest ever president, but also one who runs the newest political party. Created only a year ago, En Marche is not unlike a start-up company and has a staff with an average age of around 30. As people’s work and home lives are regularly transformed by similar, disruptive companies comprised of young individuals, it is not surprising that they place trust in youth, enthusiasm and drive.
french leadership lessons

The average age of CEOs is declining, and has been since the 1980s. As a leader, Macron seems to be displaying all the modern qualities needed in a social media age. More important than experience is authenticity. In his case, he presents himself as a man of the people, questioning the status quo but not wanting to destroy it. He has pledged to renewal and change; fresh faces and new blood.

Yet this change is likely to be tempered with continuity. Experience is still vital to meeting the demands of government. It will be interesting to see who he appoints as his key lieutenants in government. For all the benefits of youth and enthusiasm, many are expecting Macron’s cabinet to be balanced and anchored by some established political heavyweights. The fact that these individuals may be drawn from across the political spectrum makes the composition of this cabinet particularly intriguing.

Too many experienced old hands and his vision for change may be undermined, too few and his government may be underprepared for the task ahead. Getting the balance right will be crucial for him and reinforces an old lesson for us: That a capable leader is nothing without a capable team to lead.