Are you a manager or a leader? Three essential lessons from Inspire CA

A manager is someone who does exactly that — manages. They’re the people who give employees direction when they come to work every day. They answer questions, offer guidance and provide insights to help staff achieve goals.

A leader, on the other hand, is someone different. Someone who is inspirational, passionate, innovative and empathetic. A leader is someone that encourages their staff to challenge the status quo, come up with their own solutions, problem-solve and work towards their goals.

Ben Walker is someone who knows a thing or two about just how important leadership can be. As the director of Inspire CA, Ben founded the company himself in 2013 at the young age of 22. After many years of working within the boundaries of a traditional accounting firm, Ben began looking for newer and more innovative ways in which he could serve his clients. That was how Inspire CA was born. Because Ben’s instinct to do more than just manage was and will always be a powerful one. Something that cannot be contained or restricted.

As you move throughout your own career, it’s important to come up with a definitive answer to that very question: ‘Are you a manager or are you a leader?’ If you fall into the former category and want to do whatever it takes to move into the latter, there are a few essential things to keep in mind.

Defining one’s leadership style

The most important thing to understand is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to leadership. Different situations require different leadership styles, as a business is essentially a living, breathing whole that needs to be nurtured in its own unique ways. Remember that 46% of all startups fail due to general incompetence in leadership — meaning, people are trying to manage in a situation where something more is required.

There are a few different leadership styles for you to choose from depending on your needs:

• Facilitative leadership is a people-centric approach to leadership. It puts the work process and the company culture first, which is ideal for environments that are both creative and high-pressure.

• Laissez-faire leadership, on the other hand, is a more ‘hands-off’ style. It puts the members of a particular team in control of their own destiny, ideal for exceptional employees and teams that excel in self-motivation.

• Coaching leadership fosters a much more ‘give and take’ atmosphere. It puts a heavy emphasis on two-way communication, ideal for individual development long-term.

• Authoritative leadership is essentially the business version of a dictatorship. The leader is in complete control, which is great for undisciplined environments.

• Democratic leadership is all about the free exchange of ideas, perfect for a balanced working environment.

When learning how to lead Inspire CA, Ben Walker also had to learn how to think outside the box. He had to adapt his leadership style to implement new technologies to change the way the business communicated with its clients. During this process, he learned exactly how difficult leadership could be — particularly when you’re trying to control too many things. On the ‘leader vs manager’ scale, Ben started out a manager. The situation demanded that he became a leader, sooner rather than later.

Build that management team

It’s also important to understand that a leader is nothing without a strong management team by their side. In fact, according to one study, only about 2.5% of companies successfully complete 100% of their projects. The average cost overrun of all projects is about 27%. 57% of all projects that fail do so because of a substantial breakdown in communications.

What does this tell you? Simple — you could be the best leader in the world, but without the right management team at your side, you may well be finished before you ever had a chance to truly start.
Nobody can run a business single-handedly, which is why communication with your management team is so important. But this is about more than just making sure everyone is on the same page — it’s about the free exchange of ideas that lets everyone operate at their best at all times.

In those terms, The Executive Connection was instrumental in helping Ben Walker understand the importance of a team to assist the leader. Leaders may be the captains of their ships — but they’re not the ones down in the engine room stoking the fire. They not people whom they can trust to help make that happen.

All focus, all the time

When you’re starting (and eventually running) a small- to medium-sized business, every day is a new challenge. You invariably meet a lot of different obstacles that don’t just test your resolve — they also start forcing you to question whether you’re on the right path in life in the first place.

How common is this idea in terms of leadership? More common than you probably think. According to a study conducted by the Small Business Administration, about 1/3 of businesses that begin today will fail within the first two years. Of those that remain, another 50% will fail over the course of the next five. Not knowing what to focus on and when and why are major contributors to this.

Being a part of TEC helped Ben Walker not only learn how to become a better leader, but also underline the importance of focus. TEC helped Ben gain insight into not just that focus was important, but what he needed to be focusing on: namely, developing his business, his leadership skills, and his team.

Taking leadership to the next level

There is nothing wrong with being a manager. Managers are an essential part of any business. But to really take your own development to the next level — to become the best possible version of yourself you can be — you need to learn how to think, eat, sleep, and breathe like the leader you’ve always dreamed of becoming.

Leaders don’t just know how to adapt their own style to fit the needs of the situation. They know how to surround themselves with the best possible people and maintain the type of hyper vigilant focus that allows everyone to do better. They’re masters of the approach of putting the pieces in place to turn a business into the well-oiled machine it was meant to be.

If you’d like to find out more information about building leadership skills, or if you have any additional questions on related topics that you’d like to see answered, please don’t delay — contact TEC today.

4 Insights into what great CEOs do differently

When less-than-optimal leadership costs businesses as much as 7% of total sales each year — what’s the difference between a good CEO and a great CEO? A good CEO is an important part of any successful business. A great CEO, on the other hand, doesn’t just lead — they inspire and contribute to an impactful business.

Here are the four key traits in particular that separate the good CEOs from the great ones. 87% of professional leaders, who either become or aspire to one day to become a CEO, deliberately develop the following four qualities. They may seem simple, but the key lies in the consistency of application that delivers the best results time and again.

1. Great CEOs make decisions with conviction

A great CEO understands that more often than not, it’s not about making the best decision possible — it’s about being decisive with conviction. It’s less about making the perfect decision and more about making decisions when they’re needed and acting without doubt.

A common trait among CEOs with the highest IQ is that they often struggle with making fast decisions as they’re much more likely to weigh the pros and cons of every situation. This leads to indecision and ambiguity, which invariably creates a bottleneck.

Great CEOs know that the expectation of ‘perfect information’ is an unrealistic one on the best of days; you need to make decisions quickly with conviction. If any signs of doubt are exhibited, employees will quickly start to lose faith in their leaders.

2. Great CEOs know how to measure impact

Regardless of the business you’re running or even in the industry you’re operating in, success more often than not comes down to your ability to deliver results. A great CEO never focuses too much on their vision without understanding the precise impact of that vision and which metrics will ultimately be used to measure its success.

To that end, it should come as no surprise that CEOs who are deftly able to engage their stakeholders’ needs are 75% more successful in their role than those who aren’t.

To be a great CEO, you need to be aware of not just the impact of what you want delivered — but also the impact you’re making when you deliver the results or engage with the people who have a stake in the game.

This idea even plays a role in how you interact with people on a daily basis. Remember that employees will always magnify your reactions. If you grimace when someone is telling you their ‘next big idea’, they might immediately think you hate it — or worse, think they’re being fired.

Along the same lines, good CEOs will allow employees to vote in the direction of the company. Great CEOs will allow them to have a true voice in the matter, albeit with the understanding that the consensus-driven decision is not necessarily the one that will be made. Knowing how to measure impact — in this case, the difference between listening to the input of employees because you’re afraid of being disliked versus making an unpopular move because you know it’s the best one — is something you’ll need to focus on if you want to move up to ‘great CEO’ status.

3. Great CEOs adapt proactively

Everything about your business is changing regularly — from the marketplace you’re trying to serve to your industry to your organisation at a basic level. CEOs who are able to adapt to changing times and evolving needs are roughly 6.7 times more likely to succeed than those who do not.

For a great CEO, adapting proactively is less about being able to successfully handle today’s challenges and more about dividing your attention between short and long-term thinking. Devoting as much of your time as possible to thinking about the long-term direction of things makes it easier for you to not only recognise signs of change and mitigate risks ahead of time, but it also creates a business that operates with a growth mindset as well.

4. Great CEOs deliver reliably

Good CEOs make promises. Great CEOs keep them.

To be a great CEO, you need to demonstrate results. This means that you need to show you cannot only recognise what needs to be done to move a business forward, but actually do it. It should come as no surprise that CEO candidates who are twice as likely to deliver results than average are much more likely to actually be picked for that role.

To get better at this, learn how to set realistic expectations upfront. Focus on establishing business management systems including dashboards, accountability, performance monitoring, and more. All of this allows you to build a much more stable bridge between where you are today and what you promised you would do tomorrow.

One of the major reasons that CEOs sometimes don’t deliver expected results is because they don’t have the tools in place when they need them the most. In fact, 60% of CEOs make the rookie mistake of not having the right team in place quickly enough. Words are cheap — actions are more expensive. From the business management solutions you employ to the teams you surround yourself with, all of this helps you deliver what you need, when you need it, no exceptions.

From good to great

The fact of the matter is that the gap between a good CEO and a great one is often created less as a result of any one major move and more because of a series of small ones. Knowing how to make decisions with conviction, knowing how to measure the impact of actions both large and small, being able to adapt to a naturally fluid environment, and knowing how to deliver what you promised are all major leadership traits that you should be focused on.

If you’d like to find out more information about the major qualities of a great CEO, or if you’d like to learn more about similar leadership insight topics, please don’t hesitate to contact us today. 

 

5 Leadership styles and when to apply them

An effective leader motivates and guides employees, targeting their strengths and weaknesses so that both the employees and the organisation can succeed. The relationship between leadership styles and employees, therefore, plays a crucial role. Despite of this, surveys have shown that 75% of employees voluntarily leaving their positions leave because of their bosses, leading directly to issues of talent retention and churn.

Surprisingly, 36% of organisations don’t have a formal leadership development strategy — considering that to be a good and effective leader, one needs to be highly adaptable. Depending on a project, the environment, and even the psychology of the employee involved, leaders may find themselves switching between leadership styles quite frequently.

It all starts with a solid knowledge of the five major leadership styles.

Facilitative leadership

Facilitative leadership is a people-centric leadership style that puts the work process and company culture first, ideal for creative and high-pressure environments.

A facilitative leader works to build trusting relationships between leaders and employees in order to achieve their mutual goals. Facilitative leaders learn as much as they can about their employees and how they work, give clear expectations of their employees, and encourage them as they achieve these goals. Facilitative leaders are positive and motivational.

Ideally, employees should feel that they are valued and that their work matters; they should feel as though they are being listened to and that they know what to expect.

Facilitative leadership is often used best within creative and skill-based industries, in which a more rigorous or structured type of leadership style could lead to roadblocks and stress. Facilitative leadership puts people first and thus ties very strongly into people-first company cultures. It is best used when employees are already invested in producing the best work that they can for the organisation.
 

Laissez-faire leadership

Laissez-faire leadership is a hands-off leadership style that puts all members of the team in control, ideal for exceptional employees and self-motivated teams.

In a laissez-faire leadership, a leader provides very little guidance to their team. Instead, they trust that their team understands their own roles and will be able to perform their best. Statistically, laissez-faire leadership is often considered to be the least productive type of leadership — but this is usually when it is improperly applied. When applied correctly, laissez-faire leadership actually reduces much of the red tape surrounding organisational administration and can produce very rapid and effective results.

A tightly connected team full of self-starters may thrive under laissez-faire leadership. All individuals need to be personally motivated and highly competent. Laissez-faire leadership is best used when each individual member has an expertise and skill set that the leader themselves may not necessarily grasp. In this situation, over-managing employees could become more disruptive than helpful.

 

Coaching leadership

Coaching leadership creates a give-and-take atmosphere that puts a heavy emphasis on two-way communication, ideal for developing long-term and stable communication.

Sports teams are an excellent example of how a well-balanced coaching leadership style is put into effect. In a coaching leadership, the leader sets out clear goals and responsibilities for their team. However, the leader also listens to their team and provides constant communication. Leaders will provide feedback regarding an employee’s role and accomplishments and will listen to any concerns that employee has. This fosters a very strong employee-and-leader relationship, which is more likely to yield stable and consistent results.

When competent and capable employees don’t seem to be giving their job the attention that’s needed, a coaching leadership can be used to delve into their psychology and to inspire and motivate. Coaching leaderships drill down to any potential issues within a team and inspire the team to work together. They are best used to develop long-term team structures and goals.

 

Authoritative leadership

Authoritative leadership is essentially a dictatorship that puts the leader in complete control, ideal for undisciplined or high-stakes environments.

Authoritative leadership is one of the least preferred by employees, but nevertheless, it can become necessary in a variety of situations. In authoritative leadership, a leader makes all the decisions and rarely considers the opinions of team members. Team members may rebel against this type of leadership style unless they feel that the consequences of rebellion outweigh the benefits. All the team’s goals, initiatives, and strategies will be developed solely by the team leader, with very little input. The psychology of authoritative leadership can be a bit rough, with employees feeling devalued and ignored.

Though it may sound like a bleak atmosphere, authoritative leadership can become necessary when there has been a complete breakdown in structure. During times of transition or crisis, an authoritative leadership style may be necessary to make rapid-fire decisions and to keep a team together. Authoritative leadership is generally not intended for long-term use but instead as a short-term tool.

 

Democratic leadership

Democratic leadership is a type of leadership that puts an emphasis on the free exchange of ideas, ideal for most balanced working environments.

This is one of the most versatile types of leadership style. In a democratic leadership, team members are consulted regarding major decisions and projects. Communication consistently occurs between leaders and team members, and input from every individual is considered valuable.

Many teams have a tendency to default to some form of democratic leadership policy. However, it isn’t without its flaws: a democratic leadership process does take longer, and projects and teams can be stalled by a weak link.

Democratic leadership works best in strong, homogenous teams of accomplished and competent individuals. This is a solid ‘default’ leadership style, though it is particularly useful when time is not at a premium. It may need to be abandoned in times of crisis or looming deadlines.

 

All about the balance

There is no one leadership style that is going to carry you through all the teams, projects, and environments that you will encounter. Instead, the ability to effortlessly switch between these leadership styles as necessary is what makes for an effective leader. A business with satisfied and motivated employees will be able to retain the best talent and experience limited churn.

But merely knowing about these leadership styles is not enough: you also need to be trained in them. Contact TEC today to get started.

How important is emotional intelligence in leadership?

Leadership isn’t just about IQ or technical skill – in fact, these are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. When 58% of all success in jobs are accounted for by emotional intelligence, it’s a clear sign that emotional intelligence has a vital role in the workplace. It has also been discovered that people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make an average of $29,000 more per year than people with lower degrees of emotional intelligence.

What is ’emotional intelligence’?

In the 1990’s, psychologist Daniel Goleman coined five main components of emotional intelligence that affect leadership:

1. Self-Awareness
Self-aware leaders have a clear picture of their strengths and weaknesses. This skill also allows them to be aware of how they’re perceived by others. Having this knowledge, better equips them to respond in a way that delivers the results they need.

2. Self-Regulation
Self-regulation allows leaders to control their emotions when making decisions or responding to certain situations. Leaders with self-regulation rarely verbally attack others; make rash decisions or compromise core values.

3. Self-Motivation
Motivation is passion that goes beyond the material of money and status. This is about being fundamentally driven by a purpose deeper than something that might not last. Self-motivated leaders consistently work towards their goal with a high standard for the work they produce.

4. Empathy
Leaders lead people. Empathy is the ability to successfully manage a team of people by understanding their drivers and emotions. It’s through empathy, that a leader can help develop the people on their team, challenge them and give constructive feedback.

5. Social Skills
Social skills relate to conflict resolution, communication skills as well as forging strong relationships with others. Leaders with strong social skills are good at managing change and set an example to others with their behaviour.

Aside from these five core characteristics, there is also: charisma, confidence, the managing of relationships, and the regulating of one’s own expectations. These all fall under the banner of emotional intelligence. To be truly inspiring and memorable, a leader has to be able to display these characteristics.

How Jeff Bezos (Amazon) displays emotional intelligence

In 2015, Amazon found itself in the cross hairs of The New York Times, following the publishing of a lengthy critique about its rigorous employee standards and harsh working environment. It may have gone even further, if it wasn’t for the swift intervention of CEO Jeff Bezos.

Jeff Bezos was able to use the opportunity to turn the criticism around, by announcing changes within the company and directly addressing the concerns that had been raised. Rather than fighting the claims, he leaned in, and was able to deliver the changes that his employees and the public desired.

How Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google) display emotional intelligence

 One of the best examples of overall emotional intelligence comes from Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the two initial founders of Google. Now one of the largest organisations in the entire world, Google still reflects the atmosphere of a spunky start-up. Much of this has to do with their emotional intelligence. As a business grows, it’s often normal for the culture to dilute or change radically. It’s only through emotional intelligence – an understanding of the drivers of their employees, of the context of the business – that Google has been able to retain their playful company culture.

Well-known for their corporate code of conduct, “Don’t be evil” Google has developed an entrenched reputation as a well-meaning and forward-thinking corporate entity. The success behind their strategic initiatives also relates back to the emotional intelligence of their executive team and their ability to be ‘ahead of the curve’.

(Since the inception of Alphabet, Google’s motto has been replaced by “Do the right thing.”)

Do you possess emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence may very well be the line in the sand that separates a “boss” from a true leader. Through emotional intelligence, CEOs and entrepreneurs are able to inspire confidence and motivate others to follow in their footsteps. And, just like any other skill, it can be learned.

With over 21,000 members, The Executive Connection has turned the development of emotional intelligence into a science. Contact us to find out more.

 

Authentic leadership and what it means for culture

promote an authentic culture

Authentic leadership: An approach to leadership that emphasises building the leader’s legitimacy through honest relationships with followers which value their input and are built on an ethical foundation. Authentic leaders are positive people with truthful self-concepts who promote openness.

Authenticity has been at the centre of the leadership conversation for some time now. So much so, that the Harvard Business Review (HBR) dubbed it ‘the gold standard for leadership.’ However, HBR notes that when we simplify our understanding of authentic leadership we can reduce it to something that is counterproductive.

Yes, authenticity is about remaining true to yourself and your principles but it doesn’t mean a complete lack of growth. It means you will evolve and adapt new leadership skills and practices that are in-line with your core values – it’s a more authentic growth.

We know what authentic leadership is and what it is comprised of but we don’t always explore how it affects bigger picture items – namely culture. At the annual All TEC Day event this year, we had a chance to explore not just authenticity but its role in shaping culture and what this means for businesses.

How does it affect culture?

The short answer is that authentic leadership has a very strong positive effect on culture. When an organisation is led by a leader who not only talks the talk but walks the walk, the staff is more engaged and more creative.

Authentic leadership breeds an environment where people know they are empowered to take their own paths. When people are allowed to comfortably be themselves and work in their own ways they are more willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Think of it this way – are people more drawn to confident self-assured people or individuals who can’t quite find their footing? We’ve all had friends who are one way around you and then act completely different around others. It’s not an attractive energy.

When a business is run by a leader that is open, honest and strong in their convictions, the culture follows suit. Not only is the company stronger for this reason but it created an inherent competitive edge – no one can duplicate your unique brand of authenticity because they don’t have the same staff members with the same unique skill sets to create your particular flavour of success.

How do you consciously promote an authentic culture?

So, how can you consciously promote authenticity as a leader? It all starts with defining authenticity as a main pillar of your company culture. Be open and honest with your team about what authenticity looks like. Vocally encourage and praise out-of-the-box solutions to solidify that creative means are supported through your organisation. Instil accountability in your team, let them know how their individual position helps push the company’s bottom line forward. This kind of responsibility helps promote authentic investment in the business.

Above all else, trust your team. Authenticity stems from honesty and conviction. You cannot support an authentic culture without having complete faith in your team and their skills. Let them know you believe in their work and success will follow.

Leaders should aim to be the most authentic version of themselves when they are steering their organisation in any direction. When a company breeds this type of authenticity it allows people to remain true to themselves while working towards a common goal. Authentic leadership is the pathway to an authentic culture which ultimately leads to an engaged workforce and a successful business. This is the ideal pathway for success.


BHelen-Wisemany: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Helen Wiseman

 

4 ways to improve the people elements of strategic planning

Strategy and people

This is a great time of year for you to either come up with or review you professional objectives or personal goals and how they fit with some of the grander strategic goals for the business. It’s a chance for you work out which of your priorities are really critical for yourself and for the organisation.

Planning for an organisation’s future involves not just creating a strategy but also managing the human resources necessary to actually implement it. However, you also need to take responsibility for yourself.

  1. Sit, reflect and be still

When asked what the first thing he will do when he leaves office, Barack Obama simply said he wanted to be still and reflect, and I think that’s something we need to do as well. From time to time, we should give ourselves the chance to reflect and think about priority goals for us and our businesses.

That includes – although it may sound cliched – thinking about things like what we need to do to stay innovative, what could disrupt us and how could we disrupt our own industry? Consider the steps you could take to prepare for these concerns and work out what you would have to do to start achieving them.

  1. Coach your direct reports

It’s all well and good for you to be across your strategy, but communicating that to your direct reports so it can cascade throughout the rest of the organisation is an ongoing discussion, not a one-off meeting or presentation.

Each month, you should sit down with these people for a coaching session where you’re not just telling them what to do, but actually providing guidance, listening to their concerns and helping them meet their goals. It’s an approach that links personal and professional goals, helping your team understand the options open to them and which ones are worth focusing on moving forward.

  1. Understand that there’s a deficit of trust in the world

Without getting too political, a few events over the past year heavily publicised an issue that’s affecting people at all levels: There’s a shortage of trust between people and their leaders.

I think the thing that’s really going to separate regular organisations from great ones over the next year or two will be the sense of trust they can cultivate. Employees and customers have lost trust in leaders on all fronts, from those in their place of work through to politicians and media leaders as well.

Each company will have to investigate its own unique concerns, but in general business leaders should be asking how they can ensure their employees trust them and what they need to do to grow and maintain that. The days of people listening to you purely because you are the boss are over, so you’ve really got to work to overcome that trust deficit that’s out in the world at the moment.

  1. What did you overlook last year?

Creating, communicating and implementing a strategy demands a significant personal investment. Not only have you got to manage your own personal productivity, you need to be on top of how the rest of the organisation is engaging with your strategic plans.

Consequently, it’s easy to let thing fall by the wayside. One of the first things that’s often neglected is communication because it seems like it’s just easier to do everything yourself. That’s an unwinnable game, because you just can’t take on that amount of work, you have to delegate to people you know can dissipate the message throughout the organisation.

The more you overload yourself and forget to communicate, the quicker it all spirals down to impact the rest of the people you rely on, consequently eroding that trust that’s so difficult to create in the first place.


Jerry KleemanBy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Jerry Kleeman

 

How to break free from tradition when setting goals

goal setting
Each time a new year begins it seems to trigger a wave of realisation for many business leaders. It sparks a need for people to both look back at what they achieved over the past year while also encouraging them to focus on their goals for the impending 12 months.

When you’re leading a medium sized business or establishing an empire as an entrepreneur, it can be difficult to step back for long enough to set some goals.

If you are personally driving your business on all cylinders, as an SME, here’s how to get the best out of your goals starting now.

  1. Know your business cycle

Many businesses are at their busiest at the start of the year. So the traditional approach of taking a step back at the start of the year won’t suit every business.

Your business cycle will offer a logical window for the best time to set your goals.  Find the most suitable time for yourself, your team and your customers to set goals.

Drawing up the goals and visions for your business is an activity based on passion, rather than process.  Think about your objectives in the context of upcoming opportunities, current market conditions or the changing circumstances of your business. This can bring breakthrough moments of setting goals in context.

  1. Focus on drive and dynamics

Leaders bring their own signature style and tempo to the business. It is time to switch on your own drive, vision and to build the aspirational goals for the business. Your goals need to be dynamic and driving, a source of motivation rather than something you have to find the energy to complete.

To do this, you need to be aware of the drive behind these goals. Leaders who really understand the purpose of their organisation and focus on why your business exists, often come up with the most meaningful goals.

To create a series of achievable goals that gain true satisfaction, it is worth your own drive, time and attention.

  1. Take your time

You can set a goal in thirty seconds. But is that objective one that’s been considered thoroughly? Does it show an understanding of where the environment is heading or what disruptions may take place over the next 12 months?

These are the types of questions that are easily overlooked if you treat goal setting as a mandatory process that you rush through. It’s important to be aware of both the challenges and opportunities that lie down the path that a goal may set you on.

This links back to the need to be aware of your purpose as well, as you may need to take the time go all the way back to questions of why you first started the business and what you were trying to achieve.

  1. Be prepared to reframe your goals

Your likelihood of being completely correct when setting goals may as well sit at zero per cent. You can never be fully sure what the future holds, so it’s important to be able to reframe your goals as the year goes on.

For example, I like to frame goals as being either aspirational, satisfactory or objectives you would be disappointed to not complete. This grading system means that as time passes, you don’t risk being demotivated by marking something that could be considered aspirational as a complete failure.

Knowing how to break free from tradition and find your purpose makes it much easier to stay motivated throughout the year.


By: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach AAllyn-Wasleyllyn Wasley

 

How to stay motivated and stick to your goals

stay motivated when goal setting
Goals are priceless if you have tools in place to keep you motivated and ensure you are accountable throughout the year. The more you can return to them, measure your progress and see how you’re tracking, the more likely you are to achieve them.

The key is to find out what motivates you. It’s a personal process, which means not every technique will necessarily speak to you. Here are some ways that might help you build a stronger focus on your goals in 2017.

  1. Set aside quality time

Many people rush through their annual goal setting, yet this is a precious exercise for yourself and your business. If you are able to turn your attention to the process, it really pays off.

Take the time to find value in the process, and understand what a greater focus on personal and professional goals could mean for your future success.

To stay motivated, you want your goals to hold meaning and give you a clear purpose. By using this time to understand your purpose, your goals are more achievable when life gets busier later in the year.

  1. Break goals down

Start with the broad goals, and break these down into smaller objectives that you can work towards. Then be sure to reward yourself and your team along the way to avoid losing motivation.

For example, if you want to build a new website for your business and don’t have the skills or resources to do so, the fear of failure can be off-putting. Instead, break the overall goal of having a new website down into milestones you can start to achieve.

Focus on what you can do today and ensure you reward success, even for the steps as you go. The ability to reward yourself as you make progress is a great motivator, and means a bit more than just ticking something off a list.

Also be sure to measure how far you have travelled, not how far you have to go.

  1. Work with the experts

With your list goals, you can enlist others to help you achieve them and keep track of how they are going.  This applies in both your personal and business goals.

Work out who will be the most helpful in working towards specific goals, whether that’s your partner, a colleague or an external advisor.

For example, say your personal goal is to set up a self-managed super fund. It is likely this will take a lot of unnecessary leg work to get right, so rather use your time to find a professional to make the most of your efforts.

If outsourcing helps you achieve your goal, do it.

  1. Be resilient

Like everything in life, meeting goals involves sticking it out and dealing with the challenges that will inevitably arise along the way. Ideally, to stay resilient you’ll want to try and keep your emotions in check and avoid getting flustered if things don’t go exactly to plan.

How flexible you are able to be with your goals will also affect how easy it is to stay resilient. Be prepared to put some goals aside, add new steps or refocus altogether, as long as they continue to align with a key purpose or vision, you will keep heading in the right direction.

Staying motivated is first and foremost in finding your purpose to achieve your goals. Be sure to have clearly laid out plans and a realisation that you can’t do it all on your own. And you will be well on your way to creating achievable goals to keep you motivated throughout the year.


BRichard-Applebyy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Richard Appleby

Effective goal setting: 4 common mistakes to avoid when setting goals

Effective goal-setting

Now is the ideal time for leaders to sit down to think about what they want their business to look like in a year’s time. Effective goal setting is not as simple as writing down large-scale objectives and hoping you achieve them.

Many people consequently make mistakes in this process, forgetting that goal setting is actually the first step in the process, to achieving desired goals. With this in mind, here are some of the most common mistakes that are easy to avoid with the right guidance:

  1. Don’t forget your personal goals for effective goal setting

The goals you have for your business aren’t the only directives that should shape the months ahead. All too often, senior executives make a plan for the new year that doesn’t account for their own personal goals.

Most leaders spend the majority of their time working tirelessly on the company, to ensure it achieves greater value for shareholders or competes better in its particular market. It’s easy to neglect your personal investment in these goals, the impact on your life as well as that of the company. Answering the question of why, will help you to find a balance.

  1. Misunderstanding your needs

Most of you will be familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but how many of you are confident applying it to your everyday lives? As a leader, you need to be aware of how your position dictates your needs and shape your goals accordingly.

It’s almost a given that some of the lower levels of the pyramid such as physiological and safety needs will be taken care of, which means you can focus on more of the self-fulfilment needs that sit closer to the top. Achieving your potential through self-actualisation can really help you understand why you do what you do, and how you need to shape goals accordingly.

  1. These are not just your goals

Take the time to talk through your goals. Whether it’s your spouse, your children or other family members, talk through your ideas for the future. As these people may be just as affected by your decisions as you and have an invested interest.

For your personal goals, it can be as simple as regular date nights for you and your partner, or as grand as meeting savings goals and travelling more. The point is that it builds on that personal element mentioned above, and helps to build that why that links your objectives with that of the business.

For your business goals, you may want to find a mentor or business advisor to talk through your goals.

  1. Forgetting to be accountable

The other positive that stems from bringing family into the goal-setting process is that they can help you stay accountable. It’s not just you ticking off a list by yourself, it’s important people in your life asking ‘how are we going with our goals?’. This is especially important with regards to personal goals, as these people add just a bit of extra motivation and ensure your progress is being tracked.

It’s not just family that can keep you on your toes either. Sharing personal goals with a peer group or mentor, means you have yet another audience that isn’t afraid to ask you tough questions about your achievements as the year progresses. Maybe the friendly pressure of a surprise interrogation every now and again will result in the motivation you need to keep on track with your goals.

Overall it easier to set up goals that are achievable and to follow through on your promises by creating personal connections and genuine measures of accountability as the first step.


Ian NealBy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Ian Neal

Supercharge your goal setting with these tips, apps and hacks

goal setting tips
Find the right tools to help you stay accountable and achieve your goals

You can now boost your business and personal life by matching goal setting guidelines with the best online productivity tools and apps. By selecting the most effective goal setting tips along with collaborative apps you can keep track of your progress. In fact, it is an excellent way to keep momentum in your business and personal life. This could make you and your business unstoppable.

To ensure your goal setting for your business actually creates results, you need to track progress towards achievements as you go, rather than simply writing them down and stepping away.

Whether it’s self-directed or assisted by others, it’s essential you have processes in place that help you to remain accountable. Seeing your progress is an essential source of motivation, and means there are consequences if you’re not doing the right things to achieve your goals.

  1. Get organised

The first step to ensure you’re able to remain accountable is to be organised. This means being well aware of what you want to achieve, and creating a method to list and track your progress towards the eventual goal.

Investigate the many solutions that can make quantifying goals easier. There are many popular productivity apps, and the people I mentor often use Trello which tracks all the various projects they have on at any point in time. You can monitor tasks and set target dates for completion to ensure you are making progress.

Project management apps like Trello are not limited to a professional context either, one of the people I mentor added projects he wants to complete around the house. Essentially, it’s a tool for time management that can help you focus on both personal and professional goals.

On a side note, Trello has recently been acquired by Atlassian, you can read more about here.

  1. Find someone to hold you accountable

Depending on the type of goal you are focusing on, there are a number of people who can hold you to account and request regular updates. A board of directors will have one set of expectations to meet, which may differ from those of your financial controller who has a more operational focus.

In some cases, however, you may need someone more impartial like a business coach who is aware of what you are trying to achieve but doesn’t have the same emotional attachment to your business. They can hold you to account in a non-judgmental way while still ensuring you’re being pushed in the right direction and tackling that “too hard basket”.

Alternatively, get your family involved. This is a way to have a positive balance of personal and professional goals, while focusing on objectives that will add to your relationships. Again, they offer a valuable perspective on your goals that’s separate from people based within the business.

  1. Review your goals to ensure they’re achievable

Create goals that you can confidently work towards. Frequently, your first attempts at listing goals are closer to a draft than a working guide. Often these goals are about 90 per cent complete, so it’s important to come back and refine them after a bit of reflection.

Be sure to understand yourself first, determining what drives you. Think about the things that you intended to do last year, but didn’t. Are those things still important? Then determine what you want for this year. Draw up your goals and prepare an action plan. Then review these regularly.

Some of the questions that can help to refine the goals in the early stages are:

  • What is the big picture?
    • Clarifying your big picture becomes your theme
  • What are the best opportunities to pursue?
    • Opportunities give you the milestones you want to meet
  • Are these goals achievable?
    • Achievable goals become your targets
  • What steps do I need to take to achieve what I want?
    • Each step can become your mini projects
  • How do I track the progress of these goals?
    • These become actions you can carry out
  • Can others help me to achieve and check in on how I am going?
    • This helps to clarify who is your support, and if you need a mentor.

All of these questions can distil your goals into a plan that’s easy to account for as the months pass.

  1. Find motivation

A bit of extra pressure is good for keeping you on track. That’s part of the reason why it’s so important to enlist other people who are invested in your progress. I found there’s a way to encourage motivation with an app called Crew Mojo, which empowers individuals and teams to get stuff done with a culture of commitment and real-time feedback.

Knowing other people are keeping an eye on your promised deadlines helps you take the process a bit more seriously while also creating a channel whereby you can update invested parties ahead of time if you think a certain timeframe is going to be particularly tough to meet.

Using traditional goal setting along with apps to keep track of your progress is an excellent way to keep momentum in your business and personal life. With the right balance, you can stay accountable and achieve your objectives for the coming year.


Graham JenkinsBy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Graham Jenkins

Adding the why back into goal setting

goal setting tips

When it comes to goal setting, people are more likely to have business goals rather than personal ones.

My approach is to ensure leaders are able to recognise and manage the inevitable imbalance between achieving both work and life goals. People use popular frameworks such as SMART or Objective Key Results (OKR), often missing an important step, which is the why.

Whether your aim is business or personal goal setting, these tips are framed to help seek clarity and understanding the purpose behind goals.

It doesn’t matter which framework you use, as long as you know your reasons why your goals are important to you.

Clarity of vision

Goals are short term, visions are not. Goals are specific and quantifiable, while visions are broad, all-encompassing ideas of how you want your life or business. Visions capture how you want your goals to look, feel and even be.

Goals lack a deeper meaning if they are not paired with visions that provide purpose and significance. Setting goals without a vision is crazy.

Firstly, you should have a compelling vision that your goals are embedded within, which will drive more lasting and meaningful achievement and progress.

Inevitably, goals can become self-defeating if there is a myopic focus. Holding fast to a single vision enables adaptability and resilience to what is important in this fast changing and distracting world.

Clarity of purpose

One integral question we need to start off with when undertaking goal setting and goal achievement is why. This could be answered by your organisation’s mission statement or clarifying your own role.

There are two main reasons that setting a clear and compelling why is so powerful:

  • The first is inspired and purposeful action. Which means getting clear on why you are doing what you are doing. When you have a powerful why attached to your goals, you know exactly what and whom you are doing it for.
  • The other is sacrifice. When you have a powerful and compelling why, you will be much more likely to pay the price to achieve the goal.

The quote by Friedrich Nietzsche sums this point perfectly: ‘He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.’

If you have not defined your purpose then you are missing one of the most important motivators for goal achievement. As entrepreneur Peter Voogd said: ‘Reasons come first, results come second.’

Some of the questions to ask yourself include:

  • Why is this goal important to me to achieve?
  • Why am I willing to make the necessary sacrifices?
  • Why am I able to keep going in the face of adversity?

Answering these questions will begin to craft your why, which becomes your purpose, and helps to give you clarity.

At all levels of organisations, role clarity is critical. Team members need to have a perfectly clear understanding of everyone’s role expectations of them and the reasons their roles exist in the organisation in the first place.

The responsibility to ensure the understanding of roles and create an effective team structure rests squarely with the leader.

Most importantly, however, especially for personal goals: Share them with family. A number of people use vision boards and all sorts of great tricks to direct their personal goals. Too many times when asked what their partner thinks, they’ve said ‘Oh no I haven’t shown them’.

These decisions and your goals affect their lives too. By having a joint purpose you gain an extra level of investment, and a new sounding board for further ideas and support.

Clarity of importance

The point of goals is not to successfully complete tasks we blindly set ourselves, nor is it to tick off goal checklists or bucket lists of trivialities.  What truly counts is the ability to master the right kind of big goals, by embedding your goals within your business vision and purpose.

Angela Brown Oberer said ‘You’ll never leave where you are until you decide where you would rather be’. Without knowing the purpose behind your goals and what the end result should look like, you’re stuck with objectives that don’t mean anything in the long run.

The harsh reality is that your true goals, the ones that are most important to you, take the most effort, dedication and sacrifice to achieve.

Your compelling why will allow you to endure the challenges and obstacles that are sure to arise. When others quit and give up, you will develop the agility, resilience and fortitude to keep going.

You can only accomplish those kinds of goals when you’re willing to question assumptions regularly and re-evaluate as necessary, so you achieve what counts in a handful of major elements that really matter.

Clarity of how

Bringing together clarity of vision, purpose and importance to then determine how you will approach your goal setting and achievement is the final step.

There are lots of goal setting frameworks such as SMART and OKR that turn the exercise into a process that’s easy to follow. However, you can easily follow the mantra of Steve Covey: Begin with the end in mind.

This reminds you to begin each day, task or project with a clear line of sight of your desired ultimate direction and destination. You then have to be agile enough to constantly flex and be proactive, which means as long as you are making the right things happen, you’re getting close to achieving your goals.

A personal mantra (what I live by) or a personal legacy vision statement (what people would say about me at my funeral) is a simple but powerful way for keeping you in check.

Clarifying the vision, the purpose, importance and method, helps to turn your goals in to actions.

 


Trent BartlettBy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Trent Bartlett

Building new vision for business in 2017

new-year-resolutions
Looking back over the year allows us the chance to put the year in perspective.

This year in particular perspective seems to be the operative word, with local decisions in the United Kingdom and United States having a ripple effect across the globe. These events have reminded me of the value of personal and business leadership, and the responsibility on the shoulders of those in leadership positions. Continue reading