Archive for November, 2017

Decision Time

November 29th, 2017

‘Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision’

– Peter Drucker

Great leaders make great decisions – both for themselves and the businesses they lead.

When the founder of Walmart – Sam Walton – was asked ‘How did you become so successful?’ he replied ‘I’ve made a lot of good decisions’. When asked how he learned to make good decisions, he replied ‘by making lots of bad ones’.

Whilst this doesn’t sound all too encouraging, the reality is we will never make the right decision at the right time 100% of the time. The key is in understanding that learning to make good decisions takes practice. Just as we build up our strength and agility with a fitness regime we build our ability to recognise and make good decisions confidently through increased understanding and practice.

We all know that great decisions energize, enable and move us forward. They provide us not only with the fuel to go further but to do so with greater nimbleness, purpose and momentum.  They don’t always guarantee great outcomes but they do create opportunity and progress.  Conversely we know that poor decisions inhibit, stifle and slow us down. They take simple things and make them complex, distract us, and limit our influence, capability and capacity.

In a recent talk, Marcia Blenko, head of Bain’s global organizational practice and co-author of the book Decide & Deliver highlighted 4 critical components to decision-making effectiveness: Quality, Speed, Yield and Effort. Whilst she was discussing these from an organizational perspective there is great applicability to how we build and manage our own leadership and career pathways. Take a moment to consider:

Quality: Have I made high quality, effective decisions that provided value?

Speed: How timely am I in making decisions that provide my team and me personally with a competitive advantage?

Yield: To what extent do I actually execute decisions as intended?

Effort: Have I applied the right amount of effort with not too much or too little angst, energy or cost?

To truly maximise our performance and opportunity we need to ensure that we are operating with all four elements in our decision making process. Making poor quality but quick, well-executed decisions is not going to position us for success. However making high quality decisions in a slow, high cost manner is also going to ultimately limit our impact, success and future growth.

So how do we as individuals make these decisions count – for both the people we lead and ourselves as leaders?

As we enter a time of the year where many of us will be making some decisions about what we want from the year ahead I would encourage you to think about the following:

What do I want to achieve? Get clear about what you want both long term and short term. What do you personally want from your role and career – all too often as leaders we spend 98% of our time designing and executing business and growth plans for others but not for ourselves. Take the time to get clear about how you are using your talents, knowledge and skills to build your own career.  When you do, not only will you achieve more but also operate with a higher degree of energy and fulfillment.

Why? Understand why you want this and remember your ‘why’ is unique to you. Is it setting you up for what you really want or is it what you have been told you should do, could be good at or what is typically the next step? Aligning your purpose with what you do is critical to building long-term momentum and impact.

Define the key actions: What decisions can I make today to help me move closer towards my goal or to clear the path so that it isn’t so difficult to move down in the future? Is it about delivering on the current opportunity; growing the capability and potential of your team; or investing in new learning or networks to educate you on your market, challenge thinking or heighten awareness of what is possible?

Who can help me get there? Identify and build your circle of influence. Conduct an audit on your network – have I got the right people to support me with where I want to go. Do I have a good mix between internal champions and external networks? Identify who you should be engaging with and what the mutual exchange of value would be and then make it a priority to engage.

Identify the critical milestones and timelines: All significant decisions need key measures and timelines to build momentum, energy and enthusiasm. It helps us not only stay the course but test the decision itself and overcome roadblocks along the way. Find an accountability partner who you can share your goals and ambitions with to further support your aspirations.

Failing to make a decision is still a decision. AND it is one that is almost guaranteed to hurt us if not in the short term then most definitely in the long term. Why not use this time of the year to stop and reflect on how your decisions have effected where you are today and what you can stop, start and continue to do in 2018 to grow your personal and leadership success.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Margot

 

The Power Of Momentum

November 13th, 2017

‘It is significantly easier to cross a gap when you have direction and momentum’

– Seth Godin

Momentum is a funny thing. When you’ve got it you feel as though anything is possible and you can confidently take on new challenges. Other times it can seem elusive and a struggle to develop. A lack of it can leave you feeling uninspired, sluggish and if we are not careful, ‘stuck’. It’s often hard to describe and yet it is nearly always our secret magic weapon to achieving success.

Momentum can’t be faked… you’ve either got it or you haven’t. Most of us have experienced that feeling of procrastination, avoidance or just dread at starting something some new. How many of us though have embarked upon a new project or business strategy only to find that once we actually started, it really wasn’t that hard or tedious. Why? Because it was actually the thought of having to start that was the hard bit. Once we got the proverbial ball rolling, the ideas came; we found our flow and discovered that it was significantly easier and often more rewarding than anticipated.

Understanding that it is far easier to create momentum when things are already in motion is critical if we are to successfully manage both our careers and the teams and businesses we lead. It is also a great motivator for keeping the momentum alive. Creating momentum will not only help us overcome the challenges that invariably come up but it will help us remain focused, clear minded and forward thinking rather than stagnating. It doesn’t mean that we will always have a straight and easy path to navigate but rather our ability to nimbly move, adjust and grow along the path will be greatly enhanced.

It only takes a loss of momentum for us to realize just how critical it is. Without it we are far more likely to find ourselves distracted and doubting our ability to actually achieve what we set out to do. As Jocelyn Glei so aptly points out in her article The Art Of Momentum: Why your Ideas Need Speed: “Our inner critic awakens and we start second guessing ourselves. Other people’s demands creep in, vying for our attention and focus. We start to generate shiny, new ideas that seem even more worthy of execution, tempting us to move onto the next big thing without ever finishing”.

And herein lies the danger – we can’t actually create momentum if we aren’t ever really finishing anything. It is in the success of delivery, implementation and review that we find new ways to grow and improve and innovate on what we do.

In understanding how momentum drives this cycle of success we need to understand the benefits it delivers:

  1. Momentum creates success by enhancing performance
  1. Momentum dilutes obstacles and issues
  1. Momentum creates energy
  1. Momentum opens us up to possibility and makes change easier

 

To create career and leadership momentum we need to actively engage and invest in ourselves. We need to reflect, assess, re-assess and plan with consistency. Failing to do so can be costly as we can all too easily find ourselves ‘stuck’ in roles or organisations that no longer provide us with the challenge or fulfillment we once craved. It is then that the thought of having to change can seem overwhelming and all too difficult.

So what can we do to ensure we ‘keep the ball rolling’ and create momentum? I would encourage you to consider the following seven areas:

Take Action: Do something. Define what you want or need to do; make decisions (indecision is dangerous and paralysing); focus on creating solutions rather than the problem itself. Sometimes it is in making the wrong decisions help us to understand what will work and determine the right course of action.

Build Consistency: Consistency builds belief, ensures relevance and creates accountability and stability. It is essential that we build consistency in our actions that drive performance, engagement and learning – both internally and externally.

Focus on Your Strengths: When we focus on and leverage our strengths we operate with a higher degree of productivity and efficiency. We make decisions faster, reach out and ask for help earlier and attract opportunities that capatilise on our talents and skillsets.

Embrace Learning: Learning doesn’t finish when you graduate or when you pass the probation period of a new job. It is an ongoing, life-long process that needs to be planned for, invested in and created. By being proactive in educating yourself, you are much more strongly positioned to act and react with greater speed, clarity and confidence.

Identify The Building Blocks: All too often we focus on the final destination as our first and only measure of success. As a result when we fail to recognise and celebrate our achievements incrementally we find ourselves discouraged and tempted to quit the whole game. It’s important to set realistic yet challenging milestones that help us build both momentum and confidence.

Collaborate: The quickest way to slow or kill momentum is to insist on going it alone. Learning how to leverage the knowledge, talents and time of others is critical to producing a productive and efficient outcome.

Connect: Invest in the right relationships – both internally and externally – and dedicate time and energy to them. Identify your key influencers and thought leaders, and identify a meaningful pathway of how to approach and engage with them.

Building career and leadership momentum takes time. It is not a tap that you can just turn on when you decide that you need to make a change or commence a new project. It is however something that you can choose to invest in building today – is now the time to get the ball rolling?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

 

Margot BLACK Signature

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