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  1. 1. "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans." - Woody Allen Challenging Business Leadership The life of a modern-day business leader isn't easy. In today's volatile world of unrelenting change, ever increasing complexity and constant competitive pressure, plotting a steady course through such turbulent, uncertain times can be a daunting challenge. Planning and managing growth whilst de-risking and mitigating against the unexpected can stretch even the most competent of senior leadership teams. Recruiting, retaining, motivating and aligning such a team of top talent whilst maintaining a healthy culture and community through periods of change, is in equal parts difficult and essential. It is no surprise that many leaders feel ill-prepared to tackle so many difficult challenges. Recent research by Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and Heidrick & Struggles entitled 'The CEO Report' highlights some of the paradoxes faced by business leaders and summarises the personal challenges of 150 international CEOs as: • How to thrive and continually grow in an environment marked by uncertainty and change? • How to manage energy and doubt, staying attuned to the speed, scope and significance of each challenge faced? • How to authentically adapt and find balance for the company, aligning personal and organisational purpose? Whether leading a private, family-run or FTSE100 business, the challenges are universal, as are the pressures to achieve sustained performance in a complex role where change, ambiguity and uncertainty are the norm. 1
  2. 2. The Ultimate Leadership Challenge? According to The Harvard Business Review, the brutal fact is that around 70% of all change initiatives fail. Why? Guiding change may be the ultimate test of a leader—no business survives over the long term if it can’t reinvent itself. But, human nature being what it is, fundamental change is often resisted mightily by the people it most affects: those in the trenches of the business. Thus, leading change is both absolutely essential and incredibly difficult. The main reasons for failure are cited as: • Error 1: Not Establishing a Great Enough Sense of Urgency • Error 2: Not Creating a Powerful Enough Guiding Coalition • Error 3: Lacking a Vision • Error 4: Under-communicating the Vision by a Factor of Ten • Error 5: Not Removing Obstacles to the New Vision • Error 6: Not Systematically Planning for, and Creating, Short-Term Wins • Error 7: Declaring Victory Too Soon • Error 8: Not Anchoring Changes in the Corporation’s Culture 2
  3. 3. Embracing The Future How do you guarantee success where others often fail? How do you reliably enhance your capacity to continually adapt, grow and thrive? How do you equip your people to embrace the future with enthusiasm and confidently engage with change as a positive continuous process? A disconnect between strategy and execution is at the heart of why so many initiatives fail. Human nature, politics, inertia, miscommunication, distractions and staff turnover are just a few of the factors that can cause a company's best efforts to go wrong. Identifying all these factors, defining reliable strategies to overcome them, aligning your people to make those strategies happen and communicating clearly throughout, whilst at all times remaining true to the vision and values of your business, are key to success. Language, clarity and alignment – it's that simple!. We call it 'Aligning The Stars'. So... What would it take to 'Align the Stars' in your organisation? What is the cost of inaction? What would happen if critical issues were allowed to go unresolved? How do you quantify the benefits of getting it right? How do you make sure you succeed? Progressive organisations often enlist the help of an outside resource to help solve these issues. The stimulus and perspective of an unbiased and experienced professional can provide the energy, impetus and insight to guide you through to a successful outcome. They can challenge you and your team to deal with all the relevant issues fully and openly and help you speed up the assimilation of new ideas and processes throughout the organisation. A blend of consultancy, mentoring and coaching is required to support business leaders through their toughest challenges and help them achieve clarity and alignment. Add to this the requirement for the powerful set of practical knowledge, business tools and specialist skills needed to better position businesses for the future, embracing change as a continuous process within their strategy and adopting consistent, effective communication throughout the organisation. 3
  4. 4. Minding Your Language Many highly successful firms are structured to operate well as interdependent teams at a project level but often fail to develop a culture of powerful, open and honest dialogue amongst senior leadership. Force of habit, fear of the consequences, politics or simply treating a dominant leader with too much respect and diffidence are common causes. Symptoms often reveal themselves through structured, careful meetings where reports and presentations are polished but 'real' issues sometimes remain unsurfaced. And inattention to real issues can be at best costly, at worst catastrophic. The capacity of a business to manage change effectively, to compete, to move confidently into the future and thereby fully achieve its aspirations, are intrinsically linked to the strategic alignment of its senior team. And true strategic alignment only occurs through powerful, open and honest dialogue. People need to feel able to talk straight, differ publicly, raise different ideas and express themselves fully through open dialogue. This ability is founded upon building a solid and trusting team. Being careful doesn't work. But being straight is not easy or without risk. Progressive, open organisations seek to improve strategic alignment of senior teams through the framework of a common language. Such a framework can be used in all situations and everyone will understand how to talk about the issues – and how to work effectively to resolve the problems that can be created when people have different perspectives or views on an issue. 4
  5. 5. Clarifying Your Business Clarity is the bedrock of alignment. Without clarity it’s impossible to be aligned. And clarity needs to be present at all levels within a business. The further you travel away from senior management, both status-wise and geographically, the less clarity there tends to be. For this reason, larger businesses often invest heavily in internal communication teams in an attempt to ensure that messages are interpreted throughout the business in the 'right' way. Businesses thrive when there is absolute clarity of purpose and focus as well as alignment of strategy and goals. A common language is needed to guide execution, monitor progress and allow for course correction along the way. Leaders need to willingly share their intellectual capital and everyone throughout the organisation needs to value teamwork and the breaking down of silos. A well thought-out, clearly defined and communicated business strategy, particularly when it involves change, is where leadership is put to the ultimate test. Organisations that are open to challenge invest in transforming the way leaders think, feel and talk about their business. They thrive on being challenged on every aspect of their company, their business model, their aspirations, their strategy, their people and their perceptions of success. Thus they achieve optimum levels of clarity and momentum throughout their business for today, tomorrow and into the future. 5
  6. 6. Aligning Your Stars Achieving optimum levels of clarity, alignment and a healthy dialogue throughout an organisation requires a balance of dynamics and team building (soft skills) as well as an unwavering focus on competitive strategy, clear deliverables and effective implementation (hard skills). CoachDirectors is an executive coaching talent agency with a unique 'company coaching' approach and a team with just such a blend of skills. By understanding the DNA of truly exceptional coaches and by actively training and nurturing those with just the right blend of soft skills (underpinned by robust psychological training) and hard skills (directly relevant business leadership experience), we can provide unsurpassed support in aligning the stars of your business. CoachDirectors works with progressive organisations who are open to challenge to build momentum in realising the full value of their business and fulfilling their professional and personal aspirations. This is no ‘airy-fairy – touchy-feely’ service. This is world-class, practical, hands-on business support delivered by a team of highly experienced business executives with a passion for performance and a keen eye on your bottom line. Their input into your strategy will deliver valuable insights and clear, actionable steps for implementation. Improvements in clarity and alignment will reduce resistence and deliver better productivity, cost and time savings and increased profitability. Healthier dialogue will deliver better attention to real issues and measurable behaviour change across the whole business. We understand all the obstacles that need to be overcome and the tools we employ are specifically designed to help organisations get the best from the process of change. We mitigate against failure by creating a framework for setting vision and aligning business planning and strategy with the internal and external drivers of change that affect an organisation. We help your people to fully understand why some projects deliver with very little resistance and why others meet huge blockages and push-back from across the organisation. Leadership, clarity and alignment are all dramatically and enduringly enhanced in the process and the organisation's ability to successfully manage change is fully assimilated and assured. What are the next steps? Call us now on 020 7193 1246 to set up an appointment for a FREE, confidential discussion with absolutely no-obligation on your behalf. 6