Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Your 12 Gifts for Christmas Here

It’s now less than a month to Christmas and I have decided that I have so much fantastic content in e-books, presentations and articles that help professionals and business people with strategic thinking, strategy and leadership – that I’ll give some of it away.  You get all 12 gifts.

The gifts you’ll receive  include:

  • How to have an awesome strategy
  • What to do if you think your organization’s strategy is wrong
  • Special book of quotes to inspire work and life
  • The 3 strategic thinking attitudes
  • How to lead by example
  • The problems with being strategic
  • Plus much more!

Reply by 8th December to ensure you receive all 12 gifts!  Go now to

(And if you like that I am giving away this content, please like my blog, or my facebook page, or my linkedin company page!)


What should you look for in a coach?

It seems to me that these days everyone is a coach – or being advised to have a coach. It’s one of those business ‘fads’ – or is it? It isn’t a fad in sports – people have been coached for decades and I suspect will continue to be for decades to come. The same in the arts – they tend to call them tutors or teachers, but it’s basically the same thing. Academia as well, they tend to call them professors. And that leads me to where, I suspect, the business world has gone wrong – or at least is being lead astray by the great mass of people wanting to make a living as coaches. You see, I think a coach should be a tutor, teacher, adviser of the best and most inspiring kind. The type who is an expert themselves, and is able to help their coachee develop expertise. Not by telling them what to do, but not by asking a few questions and leaving them to figure it out themselves either. The coach should know about up-to-date practices and research in all aspects of business, and be making sure the coachee has considered everything they should have considered, and has accessed the information they need to access. A great coach is a teacher, inspirer and supporter.

Would a sports player be happy with a coach that got to practice and said “Now what did we agree you would do last practice? How did that go? What did you learn? What would you like to do in the next month between our sessions?” I think they might be slightly miffed at how much they were paying to get that. And yet I have seen business coaching programs that are exactly that. Sports coaches are expected to be experts in their sport and managing practices, overseeing and consulting about player nutrition and fitness, and attending all the ‘matches’. What about college students? Would they be happy with a Professor who asked of their thesis “How do you think that went? Oh good, well all the best with that.” and then they fail because they haven’t followed correct research practices, and they haven’t found the right references for their topic etc etc. No, the fact of the matter is, sports people, artists and students expect far more from their ‘coaches’ than some business people have been lead to believe they should expect.

Now I know this view won’t make me all that popular with some coaches out there, but frankly that doesn’t bother me. I’m much more concerned about business people paying for coaching that won’t work, and will end them up not accessing the coaching they actually need. Because there are many fantastic coaches out there who can deliver what you need. So if you are thinking about getting a coach, or you already have one whom you would like to assess for value, what should you be looking for? Here’s a checklist to make sure you are getting a great coach –

  • Offers coaching in a specific industry or field in which they have considerable experience and expertise (beware generalist coaches who can supposedly coach anyone or whose only qualification is that of being a coach)
  • Has broad and in-depth experience in that industry or field rather than being a specialist in only one area (beware a coach aiming to secure your exec or CEOs as clients who has only ever worked in one type of role eg accounting)
  • Has significant business and life experience ie been around the block a few times and learnt from mistakes (beware the young, attractive and trendy coach straight from coaching school)
  • Offers a complimentary first session so you can assess whether this is a good fit for you (beware the coach sold by their superior or agent and whom you only meet at your first paid session)
  • Offers on-going contact between formal sessions so that you are never without support (beware the coaching programs that are simply a monthly session)
  • Is comfortable pushing you into taking action, and challenging your views (beware the ‘too nice’ coach who won’t really make you think, learn or grow)
  • Ensures you take responsibility for your decisions and actions (beware the coach who instructs you what to do)
  • Does not have ‘shelf’ products, systems or processes to sell (beware the coach who wants to provide you with other products and services related to issues that come up in coaching)

One of our coaching clients (a CEO) recently told me that she was renewing her coaching contract because “I can raise any topic, and you are able to understand, relate and ensure I get a good perspective on it.” That’s the type of feedback we expect from *Apex clients, but wouldn’t get if the coach had no significant relevant experience.

If you use the checklist you are much less likely to find a ‘lemon’ coach, and much more likely to find one of the many skilled, fantastic coaches out there who can really make a difference to your career and business.

Jenni is an Apex Coach providing coaching within the Professional and Services industries. *Apex is one of many excellent coaching programs available and is provided by Strategies Direct.  You can find out more at

Categories: Coaching, Leadership

How to make your business strategy easy to implement

How to make your business strategy easy to implement

Heard about not putting your eggs in one basket? That might work for investments, but if you want to make it easy to implement your strategy, put your business in one basket ie niche! Once you stop selling to everyone, and define your market, it becomes easy to target your marketing and achieve success. Calico the Strategy Cat recommends you get your free report “How to think strategically” to find out more….click on Calico to access the report

Categories: Business and Strategy

How to make change happen

Last week we spent a day at the beach, and as I walked along in the shallow waves, I was surprised at the strength of the water going opposite the tidal direction.  At the time the tide was going out, and certainly the water pulled back out to sea strongly.  But equally strong it seemed, were the waves heading into shore.  To the extent that a range of lovely shells, seaweeds and other not-so-lovely debris headed in on each wave and some was left on the beach for us to find.  In each set of waves, there was only a small difference in how far back to sea the water actually moved.  And yet the tide does goes in and then out to schedule. It struck me that this was an excellent analogy for strategy implementation (and usually that means change!).

When you are implementing something new, it often feels like those waves.  For every movement forward you make, there are many actions and behaviours pulling in the opposite direction, or just clinging to the existing ways of doing things.  It seems that for every piece of progress you make, there are equal areas of resistance.  This can be frustrating – especially if you have a time frame you are working to.

Most change management theory, in a nutshell,  works on persuading the people affected by the change that it is a good idea, and doing lots of communication about why you are changing and how it will all work.  This is all validated stuff and I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t do it.  However, in my experience, no matter how well this is all managed, there will be pockets of resistance and it will take longer than you would like to get things implemented.  So what can we learn from the sea about making change happen?  Here are my thoughts:

  1. It takes persistance over time.  Assume you will need to keep communicating about the changes for some time, and plan to keep monitoring behaviours and practices well into the future to ensure things do not slip back in the wrong direction.  I encourage clients to keep strategy actions in their plans until such time as they are able to be regularly monitored somewhere else in their day to day processes.
  2. You might feel like half the time you are going backwards. Progress might seem small at times, but as long as you are generally moving in the right direction you will get there.  Think the old class tale of the rabbit and the tortoise.
  3. There’s likely to be benefits from resistance.  Often the questions asked, or issues raised, are matters that could cause problems down the track or result in better outcomes.  I was recently  involved in a project where a recommended action was going to cost double the usual amount.  It seemed the best idea to the project team for various reasons, but when some resistance arose and questions were asked, it prompted some looking at alternatives and a far superior option was uncovered.  At the time it appeared to be slowing things down and putting at risk some of the timeframes, but actually the resistance turned out to be beneficial.
  4. If a massive force of nature like the sea can change direction every few hours, creating and implementing change in our organizations ought to be a doddle, oughtn’t it?  Of course it rarely is!  But take heart that if the sea can keep  moving and changing, surely your people can.  Keep insisting on the actions and behaviours you need from them and over time it will happen.

Don’t GPS Your Strategy

There has been some media coverage in past months about a relatively new road hazard – GPS systems. Actually it is not the GPS systems themselves that are proving a hazard, but rather the way in which some drivers have been using them.
Apparently some drivers, often tourists, have been following their GPS so religiously, they have not actually looked at the road ahead of them. Consequently they have had accidents when the road has been altered temporarily for road works and the GPS has not had the temporary change recorded.

This seems a ridiculous thing to do, but it is how many businesses approach budgets, plans and strategies. Quite often planning sessions are held once every 12 months, and at that time, strategies, project and budgets are finalized. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief to have that done for the year, and off they go, back to ‘business as usual’.

From then on, month to month, managers monitor spending against budgets and report on progress towards any goals that are being measured. Too often there is no looking up and around, to see what is actually happening for customers, other stakeholders and in the industry generally, and therefore whether these plans and budgets are still accurate. In other words, there is little strategic thinking going on in between the 12 month planning times. As a result, organizations are sometimes missing opportunities and threats that become apparent, or if someone does identify them, they are told that it is ‘not in the budget’. That might mean being behind competitors, missing opportunities or facing greater risks that needed to be the case.

So why bother doing the plan? Maybe you shouldn’t!! However there are some benefits to an executive team spending time on the process of planning. For starters, it ought to encourage strategic thinking at that time. It forces executives to take time away from business as usual to think about the operating environment, key stakeholders and other strategic issues. By doing this together, they build ideas and strategies that all parts of the organization can understand and support.
Having planned though, everyone needs to look out the window and see what might now be coming towards you and prepare. By the time you’ve finished the plan, it may need to change. That’s the process of on-going strategic thinking!

Another recession in 2013?

I just read in Forbes that economic factors could collide in mid-2013 and the recession deepen again, apparently predicted by Peter Schiff, who has an accurate track record in predicting economic falls. But he’s not the only one. I have read a number of commentators recently predicting that if this or that intervention does not happen, we are in for more economic trouble in 2013. This has to be potentially bad news for most organizations, no matter whether you are privately owned or government funded. There are government employees in Europe currently living off the goodwill of their friends and families while they wait for many weeks pay owed to them, and still unpaid. There are businesses everywhere struggling, restructuring and closing. So should you, and how do you, prepare for that?

Many people I talk to are fully expecting the economy to take some years to recover and ‘boom’ again. So it might be wise to plan for that scenario. However, it would also be wise to plan for both scenarios, on a business and personal level. If the economy continues to slowly recover, what ought you to be doing and committing to? If the economy goes back into a severe recession, what would that mean for your business or your job? By considering different scenarios, you can mitigate risk and be ready to exploit opportunities.

The economy is not the only factor you can consider in your scenarios. Anything out of your control that could have a major effect on your organization is worth applying scenario consideration to. This requires some strategic thinking, and some systems thinking to understand how different scenarios could impact different elements of your business.

We can’t really know for sure what the future holds. Not taking the time and energy to consider the possibilities though is foolhardy at best, and at worst might mean the demise of the organization or career you have worked hard to help build.


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Categories: Business and Strategy

Strategic Thinking really can be learnt!

It’s not often I find an article about strategic thinking that is not about strategy development and is worth reading (apart from my own, I suppose I ought to note!), but I found this one. The author makes the point that thinking strategically can be learned and gives some research links as well as ideas about how to teach it. You can find it at

Categories: Uncategorized
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