Posts Tagged ‘management’

Four lessons in leading people as a young entrepreneur

Posted on: February 4th, 2014 by admin-kablooey No Comments

Three years ago I started DigitLab, and with it I began leading people. I wanted to lead a team instead of manage them.  I believe that people are at their best when they are happy, challenged, inspired and a part of a bigger vision. I have always believed it – now was my opportunity to test the theory.

I have been able to operate DigitLab with a utopian mindset of leadership, free from the challenges of historical management and old business process. I was allowed to build a business that valued people before process.  I have learnt a lot over the years and wanted to share four principles that I have found invaluable in leading people. These are not always easy to make happen, they require trust, humility and faith in the people you have in your team, which leads me to my first principle:

Hire people who get excited about your vision

We hire based on two main principles; can you do the job (capability) and do you dream about the same things we do (chemistry).  After intensive interviews and tests to make sure people are capable of doing the job, our final interview with potential employees is dedicated to finding chemistry. We drive hard to understand what drives this person, what excites them and what they see as their value to add to a team. What I am looking for at the end of the day is simple but difficult to find. What are your dreams and can I make them come true as we both pursue the DigitLab vision? This has helped me build a team of like-minded, multi-skilled people who are passionate about the vision of the company.

Delegate ownership not responsibility

Responsibility is over-rated. When people are given responsibility they often feel it has been delegated to them. So they very often look for ways to delegate the work themselves, which in essence abdicates them from the responsibility. In essence, they look for someone else to blame when it all goes wrong but are ready to take the credit when it goes well.

Ownership is different. I’m not talking about business ownership, I’m talking about people being given ownership over their roles in the business. People being held accountable for the problems, being given the resources to solve them and ultimately a clear directive about how to succeed in the position they now own. It has been so encouraging to watch people in our business take ownership over each and every aspect of what we do. People are passionate, dedicated and resolved to succeed when they know its up to them to see the success happen. Ownership means everyone in the team is contributing to the business success and choosing the road we take to that success.

Clarity not job descriptions

I have spent a lot of time talking with our people, trying to make sure they are clear about what it means to succeed in their area of ownership. I don’t write job descriptions because they tend to write themselves when the focus is finding clarity.

Job descriptions tell people what they should be doing with their time. These are often coupled with targets which tell them if they are doing their task well or not. Job descriptions are limiting, they limit people in achieving what they need to, they box people into a mould and create an expectation for delivery in a specific way.

Clarity is very different. When you make sure an employee has clarity in their role, you are showing that you are clear about what you are expecting from them. They know what they need to achieve, and because they own it they can choose how to achieve it. They are aware of what their role means to the entire business and how they can make an impact. This kind of clarity takes your vision and shows people their part to play in it.

Employees need to be heard

I am constantly in search of great people in my business and we are blessed to have many. I have learnt that the hardest part of leading great people has been to listen to them. As leaders we tend to present our vision and create the means to make it happen. Great people who buy into that vision very often want to contribute to it, to add their flavour and make their mark.

In business, leaders need to take the time to help the great people they’ve hired so that they can find their own greatness inside your business.  Otherwise they will leave you and join the team that challenges them. As leaders we need to be humble and consider all ideas from our team. We need to work out how their ideas fit with our vision and look for opportunities to collaborate within the business. We need to open the door to resources to help their idea come to light.

The more leadership experience I have, the more I am impressed by people and what they can achieve when you set them free with a voice that is heard, a clear directive to succeed and a passion for a common vision.

An Open Letter To Boomer Bosses Everywhere:

Posted on: October 20th, 2010 by Keith Coats 2 Comments

Dear Wally, (if the name fits or even if it doesn’t…)

I need to speak to you on an important issue.  For some time I have been watching a tsunami looming large on the horizon and it seems that the majority of corporate leaders I get to engage with remain oblivious to the impending danger.  It seems that they continue to believe that the impressive sand castles they have been building on the beach will remain untouched by this looming threat. They won’t.

May I suggest that, regardless of whatever name you go by, that for now you consider ‘Wally’ to be the name that fits best – and I will do the same. Whilst I don’t regard myself as some sort of contemporary Paul Revere, his mission certainly comes to mind as I write to you. Thankfully my means of getting the message out is not dependent on a horse (in his case several horses), my riding skills and ability to navigate the route. Yet, with the same urgency and earnestness of Mr. Revere I write to warn you of an impending danger to the way you live your business. And like Paul Revere, I hope that this too might contribute to a tipping point of awareness that saves the day!

For some time, many have peddled the attraction and retention of  ‘Talent’ as the most significant corporate strategic challenge. The ‘war for talent’, as originally framed by McKinsey’s, was as recently as last year verified as the number one challenge by a global survey and research project done by the Boston Consultancy Group. Of course, this agenda item has played out in different ways and forms depending on where exactly in the world Wally finds himself. This undoubtedly remains a significant strategic challenge and is fuelled by a generational demographic shift that needs to be understood if the threat is to be countered.

But it is not this challenge that I wish to warn you about, although the new threat is not entirely unrelated to the generational shift that is taking place. (more…)

The modern business plan (by Seth Godin)

Posted on: June 9th, 2010 by Graeme Codrington 1 Comment

I’m a big fan of Seth Godin. I recently signed up to get his daily blog entry sent to me by email – these are often just thought bullets, but sometimes he writes a longer piece that’s very insightful and incisive.

A few days ago, he suggested a new approach to business plans. I have long been a critic of the type of strategic sessions that companies engage in – taking management teams away fr a few days to come up with a tweaked “vision”, “mission” and “purpose” statement, and a long list of strategic objectives. Watch a video of me having fun with this at a conference.

Seth, in fact, talked about this recently as well, saying:

But you’re not saying anything – [this] is the problem with just about every lame speech, every overlooked memo, every worthless bit of boilerplate foisted on the world: you write and write and talk and talk and bullet and bullet but no, you’re not really saying anything.

It took me two minutes to find a million examples. Here’s one, “The firm will remain competitive in the constantly changing market for defense legal services by creating and implementing innovative and effective methods of providing cost-effective, quality representation and services for our clients.”

Write nothing instead. It’s shorter.

Most people work hard to find artful ways to say very little. Instead of polishing that turd, why not work harder to think of something remarkable or important to say in the first place?

But, back to his thoughts on business plans, Seth suggest that we abandon the traditional headings in our plans, and develop them under five new ones.

(more…)

Free video course: Global trends shaping the new world of work

Posted on: June 5th, 2010 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

The team at SuccessTV do a great job of providing “bite-sized” video resources on hundreds of different topics. And all for free. Check their website out, and use the resources they make available.

I recently recorded a short video course on the key trends shaping the new world of work. This is part of my “TIDES of change” programme (click here for more information).

You can access the following videos at SuccessTV’s ManagementSuccess website:

If you’d like to book me to speak about these trends, and other disruptive forces shaping the new world of work, please contact me using this form.

You're going to have to change your management style

Posted on: March 17th, 2010 by admin-kablooey No Comments

I spend a large part of my year in conversation with managers working hard to try and understand today’s younger workforce. The pain they’re feeling is palpable. The evidence of change is overwhelming. Making the necessary changes, at times, seems impossible. The hope is that the challenges are being interrogated and slowly but surely acted on.

Business Week has a great article called, Working with China’s Generation Y. It’s a well written article that does a fantastic job describing a younger workforce entering today’s business world in China.

In urban China, Gen Y is a group of exceptionally talented people. No other generation in Chinese history has received such high-quality education for so many people. Chinese Gen Ys are single children born under China’s one-child policy. According to studies such as those by Posten and Falbo of the Guttmacher Institute, China’s solo children perform significantly better academically than peers with siblings. These single children have grown up in traditional extended families (including four grandparents and two parents), under pressure since kindergarten to pass entrance exams. This means that the child’s educational performance has been a top priority for six adults.

The article describes the different approach of this younger set and the challenges that face today’s managers (Baby Boomers and Generation X).

For Gen Y, the good boss is like a kung-fu master who stays in the background, teaching through small hints. The good boss is highly available to his employee and has trust in them. He is balanced and nonemotional. He knows how to share his skills without talking much but rather expresses himself in the right dose, at the right time and place. It is not about telling workers what to do but waiting for the right time to drop by their desk and ask: “Have you asked yourself X? Perhaps you might have tried Y?” Difficult to achieve? Yes, but it is important to show Gen Y why they should respect their boss—and then they will.

I often get the sense that the current set of managers are caught between the reality that they will have to adapt their management style, but also hoping (pleading) that this younger set will do the the adapting, instead of the other way around. Attachment to ‘how it’s always been done’ is a powerful anchor for many managers not wanting to do the work required to make the necessary changes.

Bottom line is that change is required in order to ensure a successful business into the future. It may take some time, but it will have to happen. Today’s younger set will not, and can not change sufficiently. For one, they don’t have a view of ‘how it’s always been done’. They only know who they are, and are going to need those older than them to do the shifting.

You’re going to have to change your management style

Posted on: March 17th, 2010 by admin-kablooey No Comments

I spend a large part of my year in conversation with managers working hard to try and understand today’s younger workforce. The pain they’re feeling is palpable. The evidence of change is overwhelming. Making the necessary changes, at times, seems impossible. The hope is that the challenges are being interrogated and slowly but surely acted on.

Business Week has a great article called, Working with China’s Generation Y. It’s a well written article that does a fantastic job describing a younger workforce entering today’s business world in China.

In urban China, Gen Y is a group of exceptionally talented people. No other generation in Chinese history has received such high-quality education for so many people. Chinese Gen Ys are single children born under China’s one-child policy. According to studies such as those by Posten and Falbo of the Guttmacher Institute, China’s solo children perform significantly better academically than peers with siblings. These single children have grown up in traditional extended families (including four grandparents and two parents), under pressure since kindergarten to pass entrance exams. This means that the child’s educational performance has been a top priority for six adults.

The article describes the different approach of this younger set and the challenges that face today’s managers (Baby Boomers and Generation X).

For Gen Y, the good boss is like a kung-fu master who stays in the background, teaching through small hints. The good boss is highly available to his employee and has trust in them. He is balanced and nonemotional. He knows how to share his skills without talking much but rather expresses himself in the right dose, at the right time and place. It is not about telling workers what to do but waiting for the right time to drop by their desk and ask: “Have you asked yourself X? Perhaps you might have tried Y?” Difficult to achieve? Yes, but it is important to show Gen Y why they should respect their boss—and then they will.

I often get the sense that the current set of managers are caught between the reality that they will have to adapt their management style, but also hoping (pleading) that this younger set will do the the adapting, instead of the other way around. Attachment to ‘how it’s always been done’ is a powerful anchor for many managers not wanting to do the work required to make the necessary changes.

Bottom line is that change is required in order to ensure a successful business into the future. It may take some time, but it will have to happen. Today’s younger set will not, and can not change sufficiently. For one, they don’t have a view of ‘how it’s always been done’. They only know who they are, and are going to need those older than them to do the shifting.

Free video course on Managing Generation Y at work

Posted on: January 6th, 2010 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

In December 09, Graeme Codrington recorded a series of short videos on Managing Generation Y at Work. This was done with Success.tv in London. These videos are now available for free:

The videos are:

You may also find value in a four minute introduction to our “Mind the Gap” programme for managing multinational and multicultural teams. You will find it here.

Feel free to use these videos in your companies. But, if you’d like more details or have one of our team speak live at your next event, why not contact us and make a booking enquiry.