By: Kathy Kent Toney, CEO & Founder of Kent Business Solutions
How many of you are trying to determine your next best steps during these ongoing, uncertain times?
You’re not alone! With so many unknowns plaguing business owners and leaders these days, it can be challenging to know how to best position businesses for success—to thrive, not just survive.
That’s why I interviewed Dawn Zerbs of Dawn Celeste. Her focus is on Executive and Leadership Team Coaching. I wanted to get some ideas from her on how we can best navigate the days ahead. And she's well qualified to speak on this subject! Her background includes a broad range of functions, including General Business and Leadership, Change Management, Communications, Strategy, Operations, Technology Implementations, Marketing, and Business Development.
Here are three areas or “buckets” she suggests business leaders focus on. If you’re leading a business or team, check out these three tips:
1. Determine What Your Customers Need
If your business has suffered from post-pandemic fall-out, the best thing to do is listen, ask and anticipate what your customers need during this time. They likely have needs that are entirely outside of your business. That's okay. Don't bother them, but also don't underestimate the power of being there and listening. Who knows, you may find that you know someone else that can meet their needs!
2. Focus on Your Core Competencies
Ask yourself how you might pivot your core skills to meet a current need. Many manufacturers and other businesses are pivoting to meet immediate needs as well. Get creative!
3. Think About Your Team
How you approach this depends on what you learn from your customers and a review of your competencies. If you can't pivot, think about how you can continue to help your people.
Some Bonus Tips
Take the Long View
This interim may be difficult, but think about what your business will look like after the end of the current challenge, e.g., do we start another business, pivot, etc. It's important not to make decisions while in panic mode.
Give Others and Yourself Grace
Dawn suggests that we all would do well to take it easy on others and ourselves as we navigate these challenging times. We are all dealing with situations we’ve never faced before! In the meantime, if we can make a daily decision to give ourselves and others grace, this will help us to keep pushing forward to figure things out. This will lessen stress and free up creative juices to find solutions to our challenges.
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Speaking of challenging times, could you use an outside perspective on improving your business? Then I can help! I’d love to be a sounding board or help brainstorm some solutions to your challenges.
If that would work, click the button below to schedule a time to chat!
A Lesson in Accountability
By: Guest Blogger Gordon Tredgold, CEO & Managing Consultant at Leadership Principles LLC
I always thought I knew what accountability was and what it meant to be accountable. To me, to be accountable was to take responsibility for the situation, to be committed to the outcome and to take ownership result. I always had a strong sense of self and looked to take personal accountability for the situations I found myself in or the results achieved. I never looked to blame anyone else or tried to find excuses for poor performance.
I loved the quote by Rudyard Kipling. We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse.
To me, that epitomized accountability.
But all that changed when I was made captain of my House Swimming Team at school. My House team had an excellent record. We competed against three other Houses and in my time at the school, we had always been the best.
I took my role as captain very seriously, ensuring that we had good candidates for each event and were well represented. One of the reasons we had a great team is that one of our swimmers swam for the county. He was head and shoulders above the others, and he would swim in and win at least five events.
On the day of the swimming event, sadly, he called in sick. It was a bit of a blow because now I had to find adequate replacements for all the events he would swim in, which would seriously jeopardize our chances of winning.
About an hour before the event started, Miss Etherington, our Head of House, called me to her office to update her on the team. She knew that our best swimmer was out and wanted to know how I was handling it.
I told her that I had managed to find a replacement for four of the five races Paul would be swimming in, but it was impossible to find someone for the individual medley.
She looked at me and said, “as captain of the team, I am sure you know what you have to do.”
I said, "Not really because we need someone who can swim butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and front crawl, and we don't have anyone that can swim all those four."
She looked at me again, smiled, and said, "as Captain of the team, I am sure you know what you have to do." I looked at her and said, "but I have never swum a length of butterfly or backstroke in my life, so I am not sure if I could do it."
She just smiled again and said, "as captain of the team, I am sure you know what you have to do."
The Buck Stops Here
The individual medley was the last event, and as I stood on the starting blocks waiting for the start, I had no idea what I was going to do.
I knew both strokes. I had seen them, and I had even tried them. But I had never successfully swum either for more than 5 meters, and here I was getting ready to start with 25m of Butterfly followed by 25m of Backstroke.
As the starter said, "on your marks, get set and go," I could feel the panic rise, but I just dived in, arms wheeling in what I hoped was a Butterfly motion. I somehow managed to complete the first 25m, but I was knackered. A combination of nerves and poor style meant I was a good 10 meters down on the leader. I had no energy left to try and make up the lost ground and barely enough left to complete the remaining three strokes.
I found the backstroke easier than the butterfly, but I still lost another 10-15 meters to the leader. By the time I was onto the breaststroke, I was a good length behind and effectively out of the race and knew I would finish dead last.
So I slowed down and just focused on finishing because I would still get points for the team if I kept going.
When I got out of the pool, Miss Etherington came up to me and said, "Congratulations."
I said, "Congratulations, but I finished dead last."
She said, "Yes, I know, but given that only two teams put swimmers in for the event, your second place gives us the points we needed to win the trophy. If you hadn't swum, we would have finished second. So, congratulations."
She smiled and said, "I knew I could rely on you to do the right thing, to find a solution, to be accountable and step up and do it yourself if you couldn't find anyone else."
This experience was probably the biggest lesson I learned in school, and it helped me redefine my definition of accountability, especially in terms of being a leader.
The buck stops with us; we should never ask someone to do something we are not prepared to do, and if there is no one else, then it’s up to us.
There may be forty million reasons, but there are no excuses.
By: Kathy Kent Toney, CEO & Founder of Kent Business Solutions
Many people are reeling with all the crazy things going on in the world and our business lives. It's not surprising many people are struggling with indecisiveness.
So how do you rise above these challenges to become more decisive?
Here are four tips:
Do a scan of all your responsibilities and determine what you can delegate to others. And if you're finding it hard to let go of some hands-on responsibilities, that may be part of the issue. Ask yourself:
Why am I reluctant to let go of _______?
More often than not, understanding and dealing with why you're reluctant to delegate makes it easier to start offloading responsibilities.
2. Develop and Use a Standardized Process for Making Tough Decisions
It's helpful to build a process that considers all variables. Here's an example:
When your team members come up with new ideas to implement, have them fill out a standardized form that includes:
That way, your analysis will be minimal, a simple "yes" or "no."
One of my clients followed this approach, and it made the approval process much more streamlined. As a result, more ideas became a reality, which benefited the company.
3. Construct Your Process to Prevent Repetitive Decision Making
When you create your standardized process, make sure it prevents the tendency to make the same types of decisions repeatedly.
Here's a real-life example:
I teamed with a brand-new Business Development organization to develop a sales process. Sales employees were making decisions based on "gut-level instinct," while they ignored significant opportunities. Pursuit decisions were one-offs, causing repeated conversations with the Director for approvals, even for low-dollar volume opportunities.
The team and I got to work. We created a robust process that allowed for some opportunities to fly under the radar with little oversight, while others required higher-level approvals and more monitoring. For example, a $100M opportunity would need approvals by a VP, while a 1st level manager could approve a $500K opportunity.
The results were outstanding! Over a period of nine years, the process resulted in an increase in sales from $85M to +$300M.
Another thing you can do to elevate your business processes to the next level is to automate them. Doing so can take even more manual decisions and activities out of the equation. A tool like the Accelerate Platform is an excellent example of this.
4. Take Good Care of Yourself
Taking care of ourselves is an area where many of us struggle. But what if we made this a priority? It's a known fact that taking better care of ourselves contributes to better decision-making. If we would do this regularly, could you imagine the positive impacts of all the decisions we'd make? That's a great foundation upon which to build a business!
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If you'd like to make that foundation even stronger by improving your processes, I can help with that!
Click the button below to schedule a virtual coffee. I’d love to learn more about your organization and explore potential ways to take it to the next level!