"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
• How to authentically adapt and find balance for the company, aligning personal and organisational
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.