Category: Uncategorized

Is hiring based on instinct a risk?

BA have a newly promoted CEO. Appointed, presumably, due to his long-standing tenure and track record. He’s popular with staff. Something, allegedly, his predecessor wasn’t. I wonder what other evidence confirmed his suitability for this step up? Was there a rigorous system in place to identify his leadership qualities for this high-profile role? Let’s hope so. Not employing an evidence-based process has consequences. TSB have just announced their 6th CEO in nine years.  

What can we learn? 

Appointments made on instinct and gut feel are commonplace. But using these alone is fraught with danger. There are many supplementary tools and methods to help. Challenge initial thoughts with facts and knowledge. Gather evidence before deciding.

Are you prepared?

It’s true. The older we get the more comfortable we become. But if we’re not careful this leads to complacency and missed opportunities. Because we feel in control, we don’t bother to prepare. We simply rock up and do our thing, when we should pause and think. What’s this meeting really about? What result do we want and how can we get it? 

What can we learn? 

Investing time in preparation pays dividends. Whether a coffee, a pitch or an event.
Listen to a Frontline Story from David’s career about the need to prepare (two minute listen)

Should we all be buying shares in WPP?

WPP’s CEO Mark Read has moved fast, leveraging adversity to create a more dynamic business. Often attacked as an irrelevant company of the advertising old school, assets have been shed and debt reduced. The company appears on the front foot. Dividends are back and the board is on the hunt for scalable businesses to buy. 

What can we learn?

You don’t need to wait for a crisis to hit your business to change it for the better. If you’re not in a crisis, invent one. Take a dispassionate look and identify what you should do.
Recommended Revolutionary Reading: Only the Paranoid Survive (two minute read)

Business Leaders Podcast featuring David Mansfield

Listen to David Mansfield, Founder of The Monday Revolution, discuss the power and impact of highly effective working. A believer in going ‘back to basics’, David encourages his clients to step back and ‘re-set’ their working week so they focus on the things that really matter.

Time to act…

Navigating challenging times requires clear thinking and a developed sense of purpose. Waiting for normality to resurface is not the best option. The survivors and winners in this unprecedented moment will be those that recognise the need to change. Reassuringly, there are early examples of businesses re-purposing their capabilities and creating different routes to market. Innovative leadership seeing opportunity beyond survival, or adversity kick starting actions that have laid in waiting – often for too long.

There are endless stories of hardship and loss. Whether corporate leaders, business owners or sole traders it is our duty to help, support and protect our colleagues and workers wherever we can. Society will review the responsibility of businesses, setting new expectations and priorities. We will be held to account. Our companies need to reflect and embrace this new paradigm.

Our customers are expecting a response from us beyond the well intentioned, but cynically viewed email shot of “we’re there for you”. Practical advice and thought through questions are a much better order of the day.

Stronger organisations and new opportunities will surface from this unplanned, left field moment. Now, not later, is the time to act.

Evidence always helps…

I recently was part of an interview panel for a candidate who’d applied for a management role. We asked about using evidence in decision making versus experience, intuition and gut feel. After some thought, our candidate preferred the latter. Interestingly most people do. Our candidate was thinking of examples where “it feels like the right thing to do” had worked well. And this of course was evidence itself of previous successful decision making, even if not quantified specifically.

But decisions are rarely clear cut. They require facts, introduced early on to help our thinking. They shouldn’t be ignored or deemed irrelevant if they don’t suit the answer we’ve already settled on. Experience and intuition have a critical role, but not exclusively.

For example, evidence of customer preferences, purchasing history and demographics is the lifeblood of successful companies. Analysed and used wisely it is the key to areas such as loyalty, pricing and customer care. Evidence should always be the starting point. What do we already know about our customers? It’s an important question and the answer is more than we think, in virtually every case.

When we weighed up the evidence of our candidates suitability, he was offered the role.

Deliver new business through introductions & recommendations

Business is hard work. Anything that makes it quicker and simpler, is generally a good thing. When Booker T and the MGs sang Time is Tight, they were right. And it doesn’t seem to matter where you are in business. The sales KPI is never far away. Not surprising. No sales no business.

When it comes to new business, we often we make it hard for ourselves. The first place to start is with who we know and who they know. Not cold calls or emails. Successful companies who fast track sales know it’s their network that can open doors to buyers. Building out a cohort of potential clients through introductions works.

Don’t be afraid to ask. Get out there.

If you want to succeed – find better ways

The art of failure is alive and well. When you say you’ve tried, what sort of ‘try’ was that? Anybody who takes up running will tell you the only way to hit 10K is to build up gradually. It’s just not possible from a standing start.

I reflected on this with a CEO struggling with finding new clients. Like the runner, she was trying to do too much too quickly. And morale was sinking.

I advised her that she should apply herself daily to short periods of focussed activity. She did and good progress was made. Taking just a few minutes a day became a winning habit.

If you want to succeed, find better ways.

Good things happen when you meet people you don’t know

“There’s someone you should meet, I’ll introduce you.” Familiar words, I hope. Because you want to be that person. “That person” your friend wants to introduce to their contacts because they think both will benefit.

So, if you’re always too busy, hiding behind a cluttered diary or wanting a written proposal before agreeing, forget it. Your response should always be “of course”. Always.

Once in touch you can exercise judgement on whether it’s simply an initial call, to establish common ground. You don’t have to have high tea at the Ritz. Although in certain circumstances you might.

Good things happen when you meet people you don’t know. Serendipity. It’s time spent wisely.

Are high performers born or made?

Are high performers born or made? A common but useless question. The question should be what are a person’s talents and how can we unlock their potential? The world treats everyone in linear way. “If you don’t fit, you’re fit for nothing at all”.
A formulaic approach to hiring and development often isn’t the answer. We teach our children to pass exams. We don’t help them discover what they’re really good at. Exploring different ways of hiring and creating the environment for talent to show itself is what every leader should be thinking about.