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How to break free from tradition when setting goals

How to break free from tradition when setting goals

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.

Allyn WasleyBy: TEC Chair, CEO mentor and coach Allyn Wasley


Building new vision for business in 2017

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.

I am privileged to be part of a flourishing network of business leaders who make business critical decisions that have wide ranging impact. I spoke to a few local members of The Executive Connection in Australia about their reflections on 2016 and their business resolutions for 2017.

We asked a few or our members to give us their New Year’s resolutions for 2017 and how they can make it even better.

Here’s what they had to say:

Salvatore Malatesta, CEO, ST. Ali

The past year has been very kind to us.  We made some bold acquisitions and investment decisions that have delivered some real gains.

Next year we are focused on improving more regular and meaningful communication to all our people and implementing a one-page plan.  We will introduce an optimal organisation chart and ensure that all our interests are aligned.  All decisions will be referred back to our three-year plan and if it doesn’t fit it will require a strong case to loop it in.

In essence we are more focused than ever on the one thing and won’t be distracted, unless of course, as in this year the opportunity is too good.

Angie Paskevicius, CEO, Holyoake

In early 2017 we will be developing our new Strategic Plan for the next three years knowing that those years will be years of significant change and uncertainty in the external environment. Re-clarifying our key purpose and aligning the organisation with this will be critical.

Strengthening connections with existing and new organisations will be a priority.

Continuing to measure our social outcomes and impact on the communities in which we operate remains a strong focus.

Erica Westbury, Managing Director, Norwest Recruitment

Something I’ve learnt this year, after 15 years in business is to take lots of mini breaks and holidays.’

2016 was a year of short holidays, with a number of long weekends away and some extended conferences, and as I sit and talk to business, I realise I’m feeling optimistic and refreshed.

This is reflected in my goals for next year – my number projections are high.  Feels good!  Another resolution is to find a Mindfulness Coach.  I’ve read about Mindful Leadership and I’d love to implement it into my business.  Best of Luck everyone and here’s to a fabulous 2017.

Peter Wallace, Managing Director of Endeavour Capital

Whilst we are living in a period of high technological, economic and political change, it is important to focus on what we can control and not be obsessed with what we cannot control. Great business leaders have ability to adapt and take advantage of change, poor businesses leaders blame change.

The 2017 economy will probably be very different from what you might expect, I just don’t know how it will be different.

Capitalism thrives on creative destruction.  If you are not reinventing your business, someone else is.

This article was originally published online, you can see the original article at: Business Insider .

Marketing vs Sales: What's the drama

Marketing vs Sales: What’s the drama?

Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street got me thinking about Sales vs. Marketing. During one of its scenes, the main character – played by Leonardo DiCaprio – tests his colleagues’ understanding of customers by handing each of them a pen and asking them to sell it to him.

The challenge is an attempt to identify his associates’ grasp on the key drivers that underlie sales. In most instances, people believe they need to make this pen more attractive or appealing. To sell the pen, they need to create an elevator pitch about the pen’s features and attributes.

However, one of his associates realises that it’s not so much about the pen. Instead, it is about the buyer; it’s about understanding what makes the buyer tick and motivates them to act. The scene ends with the associate not describing the pen as others had done, but instead asking: ‘Write this down for me’. To which DiCaprio’s character replies, ‘I do not have a pen…’

Marketing is?

The vignette above is an example of how marketing can drive sales. When I talk with business leaders about the value of marketing, I am often met with indignation: ‘I already invest in sales, why should I spend on marketing?’.

This attitude stems from the fact many are unaware of what marketing actually is. As such, its value can be confused with that of sales.

What many do not realise is that marketing has a strategic outlook. It involves understanding what the client wants and what drives them to act. Marketers aim to reduce the barriers to sale, allowing BDMs and other sales-centric roles a much easier ride. As Howard Gossage put it, people only see what interests them most; everything else is nothing.

So why the hesitation, why are many business leaders unable to identify the value of marketing and why are they not putting a budget behind it?

Sales and marketing working in tandem

One of the major challenges that business leaders face is bringing together the efforts of both sales and marketing and orientating them around the same goal. Getting strategic marketing and tactical sales working together is a challenge that when mastered makes the top line sing.

However getting these two jealous twins to actually play in harmony is like trying to break up a turf war.

The sales people think marketers are theoreticians who live in an ivory tower, while the marketers think that sales group are a bunch of cowboys- used car salespeople.

Getting them to work together involves finding a common goal, taking them back through the ‘Why’ conversation and then getting them focused on achieving the entire organisations business plan. The departments are two sides of the same coin; one side tactical, one side strategic. Building a regular and respectful dialogue is essential to harnessing their strengths, and facilitating that dialogue is the prerogative of the organisation’s CEO.

This does not mean they should have the same KPIs or identical metrics. This would not only be an indication of  misunderstanding the value of both departments and is also a waste of time.

Measuring a return on investment for each area of expertise requires different approaches, methods and techniques. Marketing needs to be measured through the lens of a company’s brand: What is the awareness and how easily can a customer/ prospect identify the brand? Does the marketing spend actually deliver an easier sales path? These are the key questions that should shape your measurement approach. And sales, well that is pure dollars in different segments of the funnel and actual dollars sold.

Marketing is not a add-on to your sales team. It has its own destiny, techniques and benefits, all of which complement sales. If these two functions are not behaving in harmony then the CEO should see an easy path to improving the top line by solving this issue.

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

Culture Vs Strategy? Why not Culture+Strategy?

Culture Vs Strategy? Why not Culture+Strategy?

I recently wrote that one of my favorite sayings is ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’. Today it is proposed that developing, implementing and living strategy can and should be a prime contributor to the culture of any successful organisation.

I do quite a bit of work helping enterprises set and achieve their strategies and through this have discovered many unsuccessful ways to establish and embed a strategy. There are lots of problems and the biggest is the business as usual tornado which we all face. Does anyone know an organisation that has surplus people? Everyone is full up and operating in excess of capacity…there’s just too much to do and not enough time. We all know and we all live this dream everyday.

So how to develop a meaningful strategy that can actually be lived which is a positive cultural enabler and has a chance of driving a successful enterprise?

The first step is that the CEO must live it as a key part of their life. Remember the three roles of the CEO?

  • Chief team builder
  • Chief salesperson
  • Chief strategist

Then it needs to become part of the conversation at all levels within the business. Don’t have the senior executive ‘DO strategy’ and then have the business execute – get people through the organisation to commit and own their part.

A couple of years ago I was introduced to ‘Playing to Win’  (Laffley and Martin), by one of our TEC speakers. So I went off and bought the book, not expecting much. To my surprise it interested me so much that I bought a hard back copy for each of the CEOs in my TEC group for Christmas that year as my present to them. The catch was that they were asked to read and digest over the Christmas break as we would be dedicating a meeting to it early in the New Year. This was of course greeted with groans all round!!!

The session went well and a number have adopted the framework for strategy and I ask all new members to read it as part of their onboarding into the group. It forms part of our language and is part of the language for those members whose companies are using it.

What I particularly like about Playing to Win are two things:

  • There is a simple 5 question cascade that forms the backbone of the method
  • These five questions can and should be posed at every level and to every function within an enterprise – even down to an individual.

The questions are:

  • What is our winning aspiration? (talk in terms of customers needs to be met)
  • Where will we Play? (markets, segments, geographies etc)
  • How will we Win?
  • What capabilities MUST we have in order to win? (unique or at least different from competitors that form a basis of relative strength in the market place)
  • What management systems do we need? ( data, measures and systems to keep track of what we are doing)

Once the method is understood there is plenty more and most find that the more is difficult going…and of course, that is where the biggest power lies- once you can get your head around the ideas of ‘reverse engineering’ and ‘specifying those conditions which must be true’ then any team will be well on its way to getting maximum value from the framework. From my experience these pieces take a while to get the CEO to really understand and embrace and then longer to get team members into a similar frame.

Like life, it is a journey!!

What impressed me most though was how, when implemented well, this approach to strategy does move the culture needle, it becomes part of building a successful enterprise and answers quite well the culture eats strategy challenge.

Ian NealBy Ian Neal, TEC Chair

Is the pursuit of success getting in the way of your happiness

Is the pursuit of success getting in the way of your happiness?

It’s easy for leaders to get caught up in their professional pursuits and ignore other parts of their lives that some would say are more important. In these cases, it’s easy for them to not only lose track of what it takes to be successful, but also how these achievements create happiness in their daily lives.

I recently saw a YouTube video that really resonated with me, it was about staying positive by Andrew Matthews. We all want to be successful, but some of us are guilty of getting discouraged or disappointed when we don’t reach our goals or hit targets as soon as we expect to.

Thankfully, as Andrew reminds us, it’s not difficult to adjust your mind set to a positive one. It’s simply a case of knowing what to look for and what to ignore.

Happiness is not an accident

It’s easy to look around at other happy, successful people and assume it’s something they stumbled upon or walked into. This isn’t the case, and it’s this type of mind set that won’t help you to be happy.

What happy and successful people do is focus on what they want, and think about how they can go about achieving it, rather than what other people have.

Tennis offers a simple analogy to reinforce the point. If you’re coming up to serve and start thinking about what will happen if you double fault, guess what? That’s exactly what you’ll get.

If we decide what we want and are able to focus our will on it, chances are we’ll be able to achieve that and be successful.

If you promise something, do it

I’ve encountered people before who talk about how important their family is to them, but rather than act on these assertions, they do the opposite, throwing themselves into work and travel and forgetting what they said in the first place. The result? Everyone ends up being miserable. People pursue success but ignore happiness in the meantime.

In my experience, it’s because people go about it backwards. Instead of taking stock of what they have and thinking “what do I need to succeed?”, they look at what other people have and get disheartened.

Success is not something that happens overnight

While creating the mindset necessary to be successful is simple, this doesn’t mean the results occur quickly. It’s one thing to be focussed on wanting to be successful and looking at what you need to do, but you also need to be persistent.

The other barrier to success, aside from not being able to put the effort in over a long period of time, is a fear of failure. It is a daunting prospect, but a true leader knows there’s no success without failure, especially as many pursuits will require risks and experimentation as they develop.

Even some of the world’s most famous leaders have been through this. Everyone remembers Abraham Lincoln for his effect on American politics. What they often don’t realise, however, is that this success came after years of failings, any number of which could have crushed his spirit and taken his mind off the goal.

For example, he failed in business a number of times, had his wife pass away, suffered a nervous breakdown and lost various congressional races, all before he turned 50. At 60, however, he succeeded in becoming not just the President of The United States, but one of the most well-regarded leaders in all of human history.

The moral of that example is that he stayed positive. Sure, there were setbacks, but his focus on the overall goal and continued tenacity saw him become successful.

Success and happiness don’t always go together. But with the right mindset, and a persistent focus, leaders can put the two together.

Richard ApplebyBy Richard Appleby, TEC Chair 

Is your business agile enough

Is your business agile enough?

For business leaders, the challenge is now to develop a strategy that is agile enough to meet the demands being placed on them and adjusting quickly.

The world economy is changing at a pace that has never been seen before – we can now do more things than ever before and complete them faster than at any other time in recent history.

In fact, PricewaterhouseCooper’s most recent CEO survey has found that more than half (54 per cent) of CEOs have seen their company move into a new sector over the last three years. What’s more, the pace of technological change has become a key area of concern, with 58 per cent citing this as a challenge to their business.

While this continual change is a sign of the times, it also presents a clear challenge that business leaders need to adapt to. For companies that want to thrive in this environment, the challenge is now to build an agile business that can respond to these challenges.

This was cited in a study by Ovum research on behalf of TalkTalk Business, and covered by CBR online. The research revealed that although around 80 per cent of large firms and 90 per cent of SMEs recognise the importance of agility, very few are achieving it.

The research went on to highlight just one area which is holding companies back from achieving greater agility – IT investment. According to the study, 40 per cent of Chief Information Officers feel that legacy technologies are preventing their organisation from moving quickly.

Of course, it isn’t just out-dated technology that is holding companies back – agility is something that businesses will need to consider at every level, not to mention being something leaders will need to commit to.

For business leaders, this also means taking the time to develop a strategy that can close the ‘agility gap’ within a company between the demand for greater agility and a business’s ability to meet these demands.

Elaborating on this issue, TEC speaker Mike Richardson‘s presentation at TedxLaJolla addresses how companies can address and close this agility gap within their operations.

Why corporate social responsibility is so important

Why corporate social responsibility is so important

Stories of companies neglecting the environment, mistreating their employees or misleading their customers are rife in today’s business world.

Corporations of all sizes are therefore coming under increasing scrutiny with regards to how their businesses activities are affecting society at large, and for good reason.

In light of numerous corporate scandals throughout the years, the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) has sprung up and is steadily becoming an important facet of any business’s strategy.

Just what does CSR entail, though, and is it worth the extra investment in implementing it into your strategy?

What exactly is CSR?

Corporate social responsibility is a business philosophy that stresses the importance of keeping the best interests of the wider society in mind.

Although turning a profit every year and taking your business to new heights is likely to be your main goal, it is important to consider the societal impact you are having as well.

Perhaps one of the most well-known examples of companies taking a CSR approach is through donating a portion of their profits to a charity of choice, to prove to the public they are working towards the good of society as well as of the business.

However, corporate social responsibility isn’t just about picking a charity to donate to every year.

A CSR mindset should be ingrained into every fibre of your business, from reducing your fleet’s carbon footprint to ensuring the welfare of your global workforce and ensuring products are built to the high standards that consumers expect and deserve.

The benefits for your business

You may be wondering whether it’s worth all the effort. Does the typical consumer actually take note of and care about what CSR strategies companies are employing?

In turns out they do. According to a 2013 study by Ipsos Australia, eight out of ten Australians believe that corporate social responsibility is important.

Additionally, 77 per cent of respondents thought that companies should be doing more to contribute to society.

It’s clear to see that the modern consumer expects businesses to take a CSR approach, and the benefits of doing so are manyfold.

One of the strongest arguments for adopting CSR into your wider business strategy is the boost it brings to your organisation’s brand image and reputation.

A good public image is a crucial marketing asset and its importance just cannot be underestimated.

In turn, this can lead to increased customer loyalty and sales. One of the findings from the Ipsos study was that 76 per cent of Australians said corporate social responsibility was an important factor when it came to making a purchase decision.

Corporate social responsibility isn’t just beneficial in maintaining a strong relationship with your customer base, however.

One of the tenets of CSR is that the interests of all stakeholders in the business are taken care of, and this includes one of your company’s most important assets – your staff.

Having an effective and transparent CSR strategy in place has been consistently linked with increased employee satisfaction, productivity and retention.

There is no denying that in today’s business world, those that look outside the sphere of their organisation and consider its social impacts are the ones that succeed.

If you’d like an insight into how other Australasian businesses are upholding their integrity while recording successful businesses results, you might want to consider joining an executive leadership program.