Tag Archives: Coaching

Invest In Setting Up Your Leaders to Succeed

To succeed as a leader, significant support is required.

This starts before the opportunity to lead begins…or at least, it should.

CoachStation: Leadership Success

Setting up your leaders to thrive through a development program both prior to and during their tenure is key to the success of your leadership team and your business. Training in itself is one source of development, however must be supported in practice through a developmental culture, coaching and mentoring. Ongoing support ‘makes the learning real’ within the work environment, reinforcing the content and context provided during training.

How many of you support this development through an in-depth and formal induction process?

An induction is not simply an introduction to the business, its history and elements of purported culture. It should be a tailored set of tools that provide context, responsibilities, accountability and other relevant points that provide the leader with every opportunity to hit the ground running and flourish in the long-term. This should be the case no matter what level the leader is employed at. In a recent article Norah Breekveldt highlighted various points related to the investment required to ensure leaders succeed.

Businesses invest heavily in attracting and hiring the best executives the market has to offer. However, despite the best recruitment or search processes, success is by no means guaranteed and many new hires don’t make it – in fact around 40 percent of new hires derail in the first 18 months – that is, they are demoted, are fired, resigned or failed to be as successful as expected.

Can you imagine a business installing some new technology or investing in a piece of highly complex equipment and accepting a 40 percent failure rate? *

There are many reasons why a new hire fails in their role. Unfortunately, too often this is not the fault of them. Informal power bases, politicking, underestimating the challenges of the role, overestimating skills and capabilities, along with other influences are all elements that can derail an opportunity.

When leaders derail their problems can almost always be traced to complex chains of events that developed early in their appointment…Derailment emerges typically over a six to twelve month period as forces conspire against the leader and the impacts of misjudgements or poor decisions start to be realised. The consequences of these failures can be catastrophic for the individual and costly for the firm.

All new leaders require a proactive and supportive approach to their integration in order to succeed and excel. Leading firms recognise that investing in proactive support minimises the risk of outright failure, stems the potential loss of key staff and clients due to missteps that could have been avoided and ensures the new leader becomes productive and flourishes in the shortest possible time. *

The points raised above are logical and seem simple to apply. Yet, in practice few businesses truly succeed at maximising the opportunity for their new leaders, not to mention the existing leadership team.

To genuinely succeed in business, leaders must know their role, continuously develop their skills and be constantly supported to achieve the best they can as a leader, based on each individual. It is worth taking a moment to consider where your organisation succeeds or fails in this area. Take stock and make adjustment where required. The benefits will be felt by all!

 

Source:

Take Your Investment In New Executives One Step Further: Norah Breekveldt, Business First Magazine, July/August 2014 www.businessfirstmagazine.com.au

 

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Character and Personality Contribute to Leadership

Is a strong personality an asset or a hindrance in leadership and how does it compare to character?

In my current role we have been recruiting quite a few new team members to our business in recent months and it has me thinking about the impact of character on business and team success. Personality and character are regularly referred to in similar terms and sometimes interchangeably, but I think the difference is most stark when looking to find diversity and the right mix for your team. That has certainly been my experience.

What is the difference and does it matter? Read the most recent blog on my CoachStation website to see my view…Character and Personality Contribute to Leadership

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Ownership of Your Employment Status

What is is about perception and reality that influences what we see, what we think and our subsequent choices?

This question can be applied to many aspects of life, including job security, employability and self-awareness. We do not always see things clearly. Assumptions, partial facts, bias and other traits can add value to decision-making however can also skew and negatively impact our choices. The things that motivate an individual do change over time. Circumstance, educational opportunities and advancement of knowledge, personal situation, economic environment and other factors are taken into account when weighing up the options between seeking or taking on a new role and remaining with their current employer.

Many of these aspects are intrinsic, driven by the person from within and others are extrinsic, influenced by external factors. It is the intrinsically driven motivations, beliefs, attitudes and choices that we all have control over. But, they are different for each of us. Keeping a ‘real’ attitude and preparing for the future based on fact, not assumptions helps if the situation arises that a job change is required, no matter the incentive or reason.

There’s a disconnect between managers and employees about why people want jobs

CoachStation: Creating A Vision For The Future

Leaders remain one of the greatest impacts on the level of comfort employees have within an organisation. The leader is often the face of the business, providing opportunities and relationships that either grow or hinder the perspective of employees. Clarity regarding what each employee values the most is one way to build this relationship and related elements such as trust, accountability, role structure and advancement.

Bosses think people are attracted to new jobs primarily for career advancement but over the past two years money in the bank has become the biggest motivator for people to change employers. Five years of financial shock, redundancies, business collapses and frightening headlines have taken their toll and Australian workers now just want to pay down debt and find a haven to ride out the storm. Opportunities for paid time off, bonuses and flexibility have been pushed aside for a preference for large base pay.

According to the Towers Watson Global Workforce study 2012, the top global “attraction drivers” (or what encourages people to work for an organisation) are, in order of importance:

  1. Base pay
  2. Job security
  3. Career advancement
  4. The convenience of location
  5. Career development

What employers think they are is:

  1. Career advancement
  2. Base pay
  3. Challenging work
  4. Job security
  5. An organisation’s reputation as a great place to work. (1)

The above data reproduced from a recent BRW magazine has some merit, however is not the whole story and neither does it apply the same way to everyone. Additionally, the picture presented in the article has not always been the case. It was only a short while ago that many of our Gen Y employees were unaware of what it was like to work during a time where job cuts and redundancies were frequent; roles of choice were difficult to find; and it was predominantly an employer’s job market.

I have several family members and friends who are working through their employment options right now. Each person and situation is different. Each person has their own beliefs and needs and are at various stages of acceptance of their situation, financial requirements and employability. Being clear about what you want from life, including as an employee, helps an individual make appropriate decisions based on want, values and need and not simply situation and opportunity. Even when current roles appear stable, understanding of yourself and focusing energies on the next step or options is a worthwhile exercise. Seeking a coach and working through this detail can be valuable.

Knowing what you want and how it fits into the real labour market is important

This may not be a clearly defined promotion or future role defined by a position or title, but may include features, traits and expectations that a role should include to be of interest.

None of us know what the future holds, but being prepared for what could be, whilst balancing the needs of ‘now’ is a sensible approach. Where does this sit with you?

(1)   Business Review Weekly: Issue August 23-29, 2012

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Personal Values – One View

Understanding your own set of personal values can be a powerful tool. Increased self-awareness and knowledge of what is most important to you can help to identify how you act, what motivations drive you and better understand why you react to particular events or situations more than others.

What are personal values?
Wordnetweb defines values as beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something). Values exert major influence on the behavior of an individual and serve as broad guidelines in all situations (BusinessDictionary.com).

Values can and do change over time depending on environment, parental influence, teachers/schooling, friendship groups, specific situations and many other contributing factors. Importantly, values can be shaped through both negative and positive experiences. An individual may hold a core value based on something that has happened in the past that they regret, have unhappy memories about or the same value can be important to an individual because of positive stimuli.

An example I use regularly in training is the 9 year old boy (let’s call him Jack) playing football with his Father. Now, Jack may describe respect or trust as core values in later life. Either of these values and many others could be shaped by Jack’s experiences growing up. In the football example Jack may be criticised, chastised and ridiculed by his Father as they practice, almost certainly influencing Jack’s enthusiasm, self-belief and other personal attributes.

In contrast, Jack may have experienced a supporting, encouraging and rewarding environment as he and his Father practiced football. In either case, the values of trust and respect may be important to Jack as he continues to mature and develop, however the original triggers and influences that provide the platform for these beliefs and values derived from completely different experiences.

Since becoming more aware of what values are and the place they hold in my life I have discovered a stronger sense of comfort that was missing previously. Let me provide a personal example that I often use regarding the impact of values and the benefit of a deeper understanding on how they can influence an individual.

In the past I would sometimes be driving home at the end of a day feeling frustrated, angry, disappointed or some other negative emotional response. I would often dwell on these emotions and the events that triggered my responses. A short time later, due to the build-up of my emotions, I would start to become angrier and more frustrated reflecting my lack of ability to understand myself and why I couldn’t let the moment pass. In a sense I was getting annoyed about being annoyed in the first place. Sometimes this inability to simply ‘let it go’ became a bigger issue for me than the events that triggered my response in the first place.

Since gaining a better understanding of personal values and my own responses I began to recognise that in the vast majority of cases when I was most frustrated or disappointed it was due to one or more of my core values being breached. Understanding my responses and the reasons why has provided a more solid platform for me to move through those moments more readily. I am not saying that I don’t have negative responses or reactions – simply that I understand my responses better and as a result, can more effectively manage my own emotions relative to the situation.

Values are deeply held convictions which guide behaviors and decisions. When honoring values a person feels right, in-tune with and true to themselves. Stress often results from being out of alignment with values. Examples of personal values might include integrity, generosity, diligence, persistence, and humor. There are hundreds of words in the English language describing personal values, though each individual might hold dear to a handful. Values are deeply held beliefs that guide our behaviors and decisions. They reside deeply within the subconscious and are tightly integrated into the fabric of everyday living. We make decisions and choose behaviors, friends, employment, and entertainment based, in large part, on our values. (1)

Real Deal Values Card: Peak LearningTo provide greater insight and understanding through coaching and in order to develop a deeper knowledge regarding personal values, I have conducted an assessment of personal values amongst almost forty team member’s, leaders, clients and acquaintances since 2009. The tool I use is the Real Deal Values cards created by the external company, Peak Learning. This tool consists of eighty cards with a value-based word or phrase printed on each.

The process is a facilitated discussion that provides an opportunity for each participant to sort through the cards numerous times, gradually removing those values that are less of a priority, eventually identifying the essential and core values. The process includes several stages and seeks to create greater awareness for each participant regarding their own value set. This can assist in identifying why an individual reacts more strongly to certain decisions, situations and environments through an improved level of self-awareness.

The values are aligned to one of four groups:

  • Relational – requiring at least one other person to be valid.
  • Intrinsic – those values driven from within i.e. not requiring a significant external stimuli
  • Extrinsic – values deriving from external sources/inputs i.e. requiring an external stimulus
  • Achievement – aspirational or outcome based values.

In many cases, these values had never been consciously articulated or verbalised by the participant. Bringing these thoughts and ideas to the surface allows for greater opportunity to manage situations and emotions based on higher self-acceptance and self-reliance.

The discussions regarding why each value card has been kept or rejected provides insight into what motivates an individual, adds value to the session depth and ultimately the participants growth and development. We then discuss why the participant has selected these particular values, investigating why these are most important to them. There are no right or wrong responses – the values that an individual holds close are for their reasons alone. The discussions seek to delve into what the values are and why they are defined as a higher priority for the participant.

It is relevant to note that by discarding the initial cards, the participant is not stating they are unimportant values, simply that they are less important than those remaining. The process focuses on prioritisation, self-awareness and depth of thought.

Although due to the number of participants to date and relative scale, conclusive results cannot be drawn, there are key observations that should be of interest to us all:

  • Trust made it into twenty-three of the participant’s top 10 core values and thirty-one (79%) of the top fifteen values for all participant’s.
  • The following Relational-based values were also prominent, listed within the sample groups top fifteen values, as reflected in the percentages provided:
    • Honesty (71%)
    • Respect (68%)
    • Loyalty (44%)
  • Good Leadership (39%) was the predominant Extrinsic value listed
  • The Achievement based values highlighted Being Challenged (39%)
  • Relational Values made up 47% of the total
  • Intrinsic Values made up 32% of the total.

Of the Intrinsic values the most prominently listed were:

  • Learning/Growth (70%)
  • Enthusiasm/Passion (59%)
  • Making a Difference (54%)
  • Health/Strength (46%)

So, what does this all mean? Simply stated, personal values matter!

This research clearly shows that trust is a key value that is prominent for many (or at least the candidates I have worked with!). This value is reinforced by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. In a 2009 international study, the majority of people said that they trust a stranger more than they trust their boss. Think about what this finding means if you’re a manager. It means that there’s a good chance that the people you lead are less likely to trust you than to trust someone they simply walked by on the way to work. Think about what this means to your credibility. Credibility is the foundation of leadership…and trustworthiness is an essential component of credibility…Think about what it means to the organization’s performance. High trust organizations have been shown to outperform low-trust organisations by 286 percent in total return to shareholders (2).

However, trust is not the only relevant value here. As detailed above, there are many consistent patterns and trends in personal values stemming from the results. If we can assume that this sample is reflective of the broader population then there is much we can take from the findings.

Interestingly, when considering the group trends, Relational and Intrinsic-based values made up over three-quarters of the values selected. Admittedly, this could be a reflection of the people I know, industries that participant’s work within or other contributing variables, although it is a compelling trend.

Another alternative is that this sample could well reflect the values and related wants and needs of more than just the participant’s involved, in fact possibly those of people you work with today. Maybe some of the people are even in your own teams.

There are two key points worth reflecting on:

1. If you do not understand what each of your team member’s core values are, you could be potentially missing the ultimate success of growing and developing your team to be the best they can be. This could be impacting the business bottom line, morale, relationships and other key elements.

2. If we can assume that this sample is reflective of the broader population then we should ask ourselves as leaders: how well do we meet the needs of our team members to provide both the environment and opportunity to excel every day?

Values are not the only component of effective leadership, understanding an individual and team building. However, they are a core element and if overlooked are likely to lead to a series of assumptions about what drives and motivates, potentially leading to a missed connection with your people.

Is this something that you can afford to ignore?


(1) Personal Values and Core Beliefs

(2) The Truth About Leadership: 2010, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner

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11 Key Leadership and Customer Experience Mantras

CoachStation: Leadership & Customer Experience

This week I am attending the IQPC Customer Experience Management Conference in Sydney. I was fortunate enough to be invited to be a guest speaker during the Focus Day on Monday and presented on the subject of ‘Building Customer Experience Frameworks From The Inside Out’.

The comments and quotes highlight some of my key themes and concepts that I feel are most important when developing a Customer Experience philosophy and strategy:

  1. Unless your business sees Customer Experience as a culture, not a tool, then your customers will feel the pain of what is not being provided by your customer-facing employees.
  2. Leaders should create a culture of employee engagement, empowerment and buy-in that ensures your customers benefit. When we get our leadership mantra right…our employees care about their roles and our customers ‘feel’ the difference.
  3. The so-called soft-skills that differentiate management from leadership are most commonly the key to driving the change in our employees that we are looking for. Leadership is not a tick-the-box exercise. Effective leadership, relationship-building, coaching, connecting, understanding employee motivations, empowerment are all possible – but they take considerable strategy, effort and application.
  4. Foundation values such as empowerment and employee satisfaction cannot be given to an individual but creating an environment that has a higher likelihood towards meeting these needs is possible.
  5. Assumptions are regularly made regarding leaders capability to enact change and employees willingness to make it stick. It is a mistake to assume that employees can and will automatically apply change just because they are asked to.
  6. Businesses exist primarily to provide a product or service that ultimately maximises profit. We, as leaders and business owners have an obligation to our employees greater than simply using them as tools to increase profit.
  7. Employee engagement, buy-in, effective leadership and an ability to coach can be the difference between a transactional, short-term outcome and real, sustained transformational change.
  8. There is a gap between intent and behaviour when it comes to leadership, development, employee engagement, empowerment and related activities in many organisations.
  9. In my experience too often a business runs a workshop, sends an employee to a training session or takes some other well-intentioned step to rectify a perceived or real gap. In itself, attendance at a session such as this will make little difference in behaviour or output for most people. People generally do not have the ability to interpret all of this information and make meaningful change. An employee may also not be working in a culture that reinforces or drives change as a result of this ‘new knowledge’. Post-training follow up and reinforcement through coaching are key.
  10. A bottom-up approach for providing a great customer experience only takes you so far. A genuinely effective customer experience approach requires a top-down strategy based on broad and extensive cultural change.
  11. Leaders often focus on the tangible process, systems and technology aspects of business. The challenge is to ensure we provide more than a cursory input into our employees and the link between engagement and customer service.

…and the presentation was sealed by elements from Ken Blanchard’s recent blog, worth repeating:

It all starts with the leaders of the organization creating a motivating environment for their people to work in. When that happens, it’s no surprise when the workers go out of their way to serve their customers…and the good word gets around. The organization’s best salespeople are the customers they’re already serving. The end result of all of this good news is that the organization becomes sound financially.

So often we think business is all about making money and that customers are the most important thing. But if you don’t treat your employees well and give them a reason to come to work, they aren’t going to be motivated to give excellent service to your customers, and customers who aren’t treated well have lots of other places they can go.

Think of your organization as a stagecoach. Upper management might be the drivers of the stagecoach, but your people are the horses—the ones who create the forward movement. If the leaders get knocked out of the stagecoach, it keeps moving. But if something happens to the horses, everything comes to a screeching halt. So serve and help each other, and then reach out to your customers with the enthusiasm and desire and fabulous service that will make them raving fans…

Don’t forget that without your people, you’re nothing.

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Developing and Empowering Leaders – Richard Branson (Part 2)

Richard Branson in South Africa, 2004 - Leadership, Coaching and EmpowermentRichard Branson recently stated that coaching senior managers can be difficult for various reasons, not the least of which is the difficulty in finding an uninterrupted period of time to conduct and review.

In Part 1 I noted the first three guidelines Richard Branson highlighted in a recent article in the Business Review Weekly magazine titled, 7 Rules For Managers, focusing on effective leadership, coaching and empowering leaders.This post concludes the guidelines, consisting of the final four points.

Who’s In Charge? It’s Up To You?

A good manager provides clear roles for members of his team, which enables everyone to get on with the job of running the business. Once you’ve made these choices, do not micromanage. If you make a habit of diving in and changing a major project’s direction or otherwise intervening, your employees will learn to be dependent on you, and they will not reach their full potential.

CoachStation Thoughts:

Setting key objectives for yourself, your team and business is important to ensure a focus on the aims and strategy is maintained. Providing context and standards allows your team member to understand where they fit in and ensure they work within the ‘rules’ and expectations. However, flexing between providing enough context and suitable parameters without constricting performance and innovation is a balance that must be established. Responsibility, accountability and empowerment are only ‘buzz-words’ when they are not applied or unfamiliar – there is power in their application. I wrote more about expectations in an earlier post: Expectation Setting – Who Cares?

Champion Your Employees’ Ideas

When your team makes a judgment call, you need to follow through with conviction. If you cast doubt and let their project languish, your team will not have the impetus or confidence to take the next steps. If you insist on making every big decision yourself, you will create a terrible log jam. Do not fall into the trap of asking for further reports in order to justify moving forward. It is always better to act; it is debilitating to dither.

CoachStation Thoughts:

Employ the right people, support and develop them and give them the freedom to make their own mistakes and revel in successes.

Learn From Your Mistakes and Move On

It is impossible to get every decision right. When things go wrong, review with your team what happened and learn from it together. But don’t linger – dust yourself off and tackle the next challenge.

It is important not to keep tinkering with a project in hopes of delaying its end. At Virgin, we have not always got this right – for instance, we hung onto our Megastores longer than we should have.

CoachStation Thoughts:

We all make decisions every day – none of us get it right all the time. Holding people accountable is key to development and building trust. Looking for or portraying perfectionism, for example, has little benefit, however the ability to provide and receive feedback reflects well on you as a leader and the rapport you have with your team. Learn from mistakes because they are not insurmountable – ignore them and they will continue.

Celebrate Successes Every Day

When someone on your team has a big success, celebrate it and tell others. This is something that should be part of your everyday work – you should try to catch your team doing something right.

CoachStation Thoughts:

Developing a team and employee brand can be enhanced through supporting and advocating, when earned. Catching your team doing something right is not always a natural or easily applied trait for many leaders. It is a very powerful relationship-builder when applied well.

As stated, Richard Branson claimed that these guidelines hold true in almost any situation. Do you agree?

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, whilst possibly providing your own guidelines you believe are key in leadership.

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Developing and Empowering Leaders – Richard Branson (Part 1)

Sir Richard Branson at the eTalk Festival Part...

Sir Richard Branson at the eTalk Festival Party, during the Toronto International Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Richard Branson recently stated that coaching senior managers can be difficult for various reasons, not the least of which is the difficulty in finding an uninterrupted period of time to conduct and review. Branson and his senior leaders spend time together each year at his home on Necker Island to discuss the opportunities and challenges the Virgin business group and leaders currently face. I am certain this is a great opportunity to solve the business issues, share and learn from each other, however equally sure this is only part of the development story for individuals and future of the Virgin group and other companies in general.

Sharing and learning from others is one aspect of coaching and leadership development, however knowing something or having additional information about a situation or about oneself does not equate to a change in behaviour or enhanced skill in application.

The purpose of this blog is to draw upon and respond to a set of guidelines Richard Branson highlighted in a recent article in the Business Review Weekly magazine titled, 7 Rules For Managers, focusing on effective leadership, coaching and empowering leaders.

Keep Your Team Informed

It is crucial to set objectives for each period according to your business’s strategy – and then make sure all employees know about them.

Sally told us that when she was working for the British government, every summer, ministers appointed to cabinet received a note from Blair that outlined his strategic approach for the year and set clear objectives for each department. Cabinet met for a week to discuss these before members of parliament returned from holidays and had the chance to analyse and challenge the approach. Thereafter, the team received a note from Blair every Sunday, which was discussed at a meeting next morning to agree on key actions.

Communicating your objectives regularly will help ensure your team has a framework for making decisions. It is important all feel welcome to discuss the group’s objectives – that open debate is encouraged – because everyone will have a responsibility to follow through.

CoachStation Thoughts:

The ability to strike the balance between providing objectives, context, setting standards, parameters and keeping your team members informed as progression occurs is a fine line. I believe that the best outcomes derive through providing more detail rather than less, always balanced between keeping confidential information confidential, but sharing what is appropriate providing context and clarity.

  1. People respond more openly to feedback, accept change and are generally more willing to contribute when they have the necessary detail and information to feel connected to the business, engaged and empowered.
  2. Alignment to/with direction and goals is critical, although too often a company vision, mission statements and goals are seen as just words written on a page. Appropriate detail and context can help to make the vision a reality.

Define The Rules Of The Road

It is important to define core values for your business, which you and your employees can refer to when making decisions. In assessing investments and new directions at Virgin, we have always considered whether the proposed business meets our core values, which helps us manage our diverse portfolio and maintain consistency. We look at whether it will do something different to most or all companies in the industry or sector; whether it will provide real value, great customer service and retain the sense of fun and pride that distinguishes a good from a great business. Recently we added a new core value: we test whether a new business will have the legs to go overseas and can be scaled up within about three years.

CoachStation Thoughts:

Values are critical for both individuals and businesses. Values provide a base for alignment between yourself and the business that employs you. They allow an individual to feel connected and maintain a clear view of the reasons for doing what they do. Understanding what is important to you personally and at work also assists to motivate or re-clarify, providing direction. For an organisation it is important to be nimble, efficient and flexible in structure and design however it should also be clear in its identification and delivery of its core values. This clarity provides a clear view of what employees, customers and other stakeholders can expect when working with the organisation.

  1. Core values are most often ‘non-negotiables’, meaning that you are most likely to walk away from a relationship, workplace or situation when there is a disjoint in alignment.
  2. Shared values encourage a high level of trust within a team and organisation, strengthening commitment and the likelihood for higher levels of equity, honesty, fairness, sharing, respect and other positive aspects.
  3. Values are core to a brand – that of individual’s and businesses. Most importantly, to be effective and meaningful, values must be more than words!

Focus, Focus, Focus

It is tempting to try to do too much; for ambitious managers and their teams, there are always too many projects and too little time. But successful organizations know what their priorities are: They tackle the really important projects and the rest falls into place.

CoachStation Thoughts:

One of the most important skills for a manager or leader, particularly when starting out is to know where to spend your time. Often time management skills are emphasised or provided as a necessary development area during feedback sessions, however few people actually find the optimum balance. The ability to prioritise is even more crucial. In most roles an individual could work 24/7 and still not achieve all that is possible (or sometimes expected!), so identifying what are the most important tasks and strategies that will provide the ‘biggest bang for your buck’ has to be one of the first steps.

  1. One tip is to consider the Pareto Principle or what is more commonly known as the 80 / 20 rule to assist in determining the ‘right’ things to focus on.
  2. The ideal situation occurs when you think ahead and have a strategic mindset, tackling issues before they become urgent. The ultimate control occurs when your time is being spent on tasks and actions that are high impact but low urgency.
  3. Many people will make demands on your time – it is important that you control where you spend this time, not have it dictated to you by others.

Next week I will conclude this blog with the final four guidelines highlighted by Sir Richard.

Let me know what you think of the points made in part 1 of this blog and whether you believe they have relevance in modern business and leadership development.

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