Guest Author: Graham Southwell, National Director - BNI New Zealand
A topic that has been of interest to me for some time now is the idea of Leadership in as much as it relates to running a National “people based” organisation. I am sure that like me, most people in business will have read any number of books on the subject of leadership, after all the key to the principle of ‘leverage’ is about getting the best out of one’s team.
The book shelves are full of books offering advice along the lines of “What Great Leaders Do” however to me they all fall short of what true leadership is really about. How do you really get the best out of your team? Do great leaders have their finger on the pulse of everything that goes on - should everything be systemised in the fashion of Michael Gerber or is it ok to have a more free flowing management style. Many of the books I have read seem to have their feet firmly planted in the basis of fear based - hierarchical leadership. How to make sure your “team” is doing what you want them to do - How to stay in control!
As part of an international franchise operation - I am told every year at our annual conference that “It is better to ask permission than to beg forgiveness” - however in his recent book “Tribes” - Seth Godin tells us that in fact the opposite is true. In “Family ,Village, Tribe - The Story of Flight Centre” we hear of a different approach to leadership - one where each office is given a degree of autonomy and a sense of ownership. Rather than seeking to try to get people to fit into the ever changing mould of an international company - individuals are set up to succeed by allowing them to work in the way that they want to work - based on an anthropological model of small family like teams.
Guest author: Tim Roberts
I remember running a leadership workshop on values. I wrote on the whiteboard: -
“If I tell you something I am aware of I am telling you the truth.
If I tell you something contrary to my awareness I am lying.
If I don’t tell you something I am aware of I am withholding.”
A man said “Yes but you can’t tell the truth to everyone all the time can you?” A woman said, “I heard somewhere that we have to lie several times a day to prevent being alienated socially.”
We explored how leaders must hold the truth as a precious commodity. Yet every leader in that group admitted bending the truth or withholding information regularly. Amazingly, every leader also expected 100 percent truthfulness from their reports, even if that truth was not what the report thought the leader wanted to hear.
I was struck by the hypocrisy and asked, “What are you modelling that those around you are emulating?” Silence filled the room. One of the most powerful effects of leadership is to set up conscious and unconscious behaviour copying.
Guest Author: Jasbindar Singh
There is so much rhetoric in leadership but occasionally we get to see what great leadership looks like. Like many, I am touched by the historical event of the selection of United States of America’s first African American President. I feel there are so many salient points here as to what good leadership is that it is worth reinforcing.
1) Great leadership embodies a spirited vision, which transcends current circumstances and is able to instill a legacy of hope, be a guiding light and give its followers something to aspire towards. Think of Dr. Martin Luther King’s heartfelt speech, “I have a dream….” A dream, which many, many years later has now come to be realized.
2) Great leadership is able to inspire and motivate. It’s able to touch the hearts, minds and spirit of everyday people. The Obama campaign began at the grassroots level with little funds but his followers willingly dug into their pockets, got the ball rolling and did what they could. People were so inspired; they also turned out in record numbers to vote. In our organizational context, think employee engagement and the discretionary effort that is waiting to be tapped.
The career challenges of the 21st Century….
My grandfather was a stonemason, trained in the days when building with stone was a craft which took many years to learn, yet enabled him and his peers to build houses and churches which would stand for centuries. He learned his skills on the job and was taught by master craftsmen.
In the later stages of his career, houses became mass-produced and stone went out of favour as being too expensive and too slow, and my grandfather and his wonderful skills became virtually obsolete. He found himself working out what was left of his career as a labourer on a building site under the supervision of engineers half his age, building what he considered, to be sub-standard houses. These were a new breed of ‘builder’ - young men with degrees who had learned their skills at university. A serious clash of codes.
My grandfather never swore and rarely lost his temper; however, one day in utter frustration at the way he was being treated, he was heard to mutter, ‘These folks with fancy degrees, they could find the square root of a banana and wouldn’t bloody know how to peel it!’
Guest Author: Tom Poland, Founder and Director, The 80-20 Circle, www.8020Preview.com
Not everyone wants to make their business worth millions but if you seriously like the idea of having a larger organisation tap you on your shoulder and give you millions of dollars to go away then please read on as I share the two keys that many of my clients have used to unlock the door to financial independence.
In 1995 I discovered that there are two things -and only two - that you need to need to do in order to make your business worth millions of dollars: you need to create a better strategy and you need better execution of that strategy.
Since 1995 I’ve shown literally hundreds of clients how to do these two things and many of them have gone on to sell their business for millions of dollars.
But please understand that without exception the clients who have gone on to sell for millions have followed the following 5 steps…
Step 1: Figure out a better strategy
Choose a small niche - either a product niche or regional niche or a target market niche - that is not specifically targeted by other organisations.
Step 2: Execute your strategy and become the market leader
This means that within that niche you make more sales than anyone else and you do that because you do a very good job of finding out the specific needs of your niche and targeting your branding, your packaging, your marketing and your product to the needs of that niche.
Step 3: Expand your niche
Once you have established yourself as the market leader then it’s time to get more sales by expanding geographically or expanding your product line or expanding your target market or expanding all three.
Guest Author: Yvonne McLaren
I entered into business late in my career path after a successful run in education…many ask and are surprised to find out there isn’t that much of a difference between helping a teenager to succeed in academia and helping a young start-up company drive their business onto the global arena.
They both take a lot of time, patience, commitment and a whole lot more money than you imagined when you started out!
After 10 years in business and starting from a not-for profit background as a fund manager, then founding Valentine Addis in 2000, I have learnt that companies seeking venture capital or private investment are often not looking for money in isolation.
When I first meet with a company the last document I ask for is their financial documents. There are far stronger signals than a good looking or disaster ridden end of year result that tells an experienced advisor if the company has growth potential or indeed is under performing.
The key issues are:
- Are you creating cash flow out of the business in its current form?
- Do you continually prop up the business financially, rather than make it pay for itself through income producing activity?
- How much time do you actually spend on your company’s core business?
- Who is responsible for your company’s growth? (If you are the owner director or the majority shareholder who is working in the business, then the answer is simple - YOU!)
Guest Author: Ed Bernacki
Thinking is crucial in business to solve problems, develop new strategies, deal with customers and manage staff issues. It fuels creativity. It improves decision making. It creates value. So when do you think?
- 58% say at home,
- 50% say commuting to work,
- 45% say at the office and
- 38% say during brainstorming sessions.
Would the results differ for New Zealand executives? I doubt it. It’s staggering to consider that so many executives believe their businesses are unsuitable places for thinking. If this reflects your reality, consider how you can harness your thinking when you actually do it. You won’t be sitting in front of a computer. Therefore, what tool can capture your thinking to create value for your organization?
Forget the electronic toys and invest in a quality note book and turn it into your ‘idea journal’.
Use the first two or three pages to answer this question: where do I need innovative thinking? Write down a version of this question in big letters on the first page to prompt you to pick the problems in need of solutions, the products waited to be created, the staff issues needing to be resolved, and so on. Think of this as your contents pages. Number each challenge.
Guest Author: Hayley Nicholls
Do you wake up in the morning thankful that you are still breathing? Or does your mind immediately kick in with the day’s to-do list or wish-list? Really, we have so much to be grateful for in life. We live in a free and beautiful country with a lot of opportunity. We all have people in our lives that we love and who love us. On the world stage we are all extraordinary wealthy.
When I need to be reminded of this, I think of my friend Radmila. I met Radmila when we were both living in Melbourne. She arrived in Australia as a refugee with her husband and two teenage kids. They had fled Bosnia during the civil war and had been living in Serbia for 8 years in a refugee camp. She described the place that they lived as an old hotel that had been resurrected to provide refugee accommodation. The four of them lived in one room. In Serbia they didn’t have the right to work so they survived selling black market goods. It was a difficult life. When she described it to me I found it difficult to comprehend such intolerable circumstances. She said she considered herself lucky. At least they were all together. Her husband, Goran has been forced to fight in the war and they had been separated for a year not knowing if each other were alive.
Guest Author: Wilma Ham
As a woman in business you need to watch your ability to build ‘infrastructure’ in your life.
A good example of a bad infrastructure is a congested motorway system.
However what I noticed is that women are not good at building good infrastructures; so we lose out on having a life when we run our own business.
To illustrate what I mean I tell you a little story.
We all know that having a cleaner is bliss and I’d say it is a good infrastructure for busy women.
But for a long time something in me refused to give up the hard life I had created for myself with a business, a social life and providing for a clean house full of clean clothes.
Often after busy weeks my partner and I sit in bed on Sunday morning sipping coffee and then a voice, my voice, snarls; “Fine for you to slouch around in bed” followed by a big sigh.
The partner, knowing better, continues drinking his coffee, still hoping all will be well, until my voice snarls again: “If you stay in bed all day I can’t change and wash the sheets. We have to get up.”