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Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 53

The Role Of The Rebuilder 

14th June 2021.

Dear leaders,

This week I was reminded of one of the more challenging roles I have held and some of you will be about to face.

I call it The Rebuilder.

The rebuilder is a manager who is taking over an existing team or department and their job to truly complete is:
To rebuild the team, rebuild the foundations, rebuild the confidence of the team or department and bring back performance throughout the team. 

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Leaders Letter 52

The Unfollow Button

7th June 2021.

Dear leaders,

Today I want to introduce you to a concept that many people have not really considered.

I call it the unfollow action.

Most important unspoken action in business – the unfollow

We are used to having to actively ‘follow’ colleagues, from a small number of colleagues to hundreds of colleagues in larger businesses.

You follow their work, you receive their emails, their reply all’s, you are pinged on internal chat tools, in countless work meetings with them, notified of their updates on your project management tool and in some cases, you follow their career and help to mentor and coach them

The unfollow action or in many cases, an unfollow/mute button is where colleagues actively choose to:

  • unfollow colleagues
  • unfollow goals
  • unfollow the mission they are set
  • and unfollow business leaders

This action goes unspoken but happens daily.

The ‘unfollow’ happens and can have huge impact

In 2020 into 2021 we saw a huge unfollow materialise, this as much by the situation and environment as much not being in proximity of people in the office, you had fewer interactions with acquaintances and fewer interactions with colleagues.

This can be a noisy work graph – too many connections

This all led to passive unfollows, this is not always a negative series of events, it does mean there is a conscious unfollow and unconscious unfollow.

2020 – 2021 we saw the great unfollow by situation and lack of proximity

In the coming months, we will likely see an increase (due to offices being reopened safely) in connections, this does not mean there will be more follows, it could mean there are more unfollows as the less relevant or the more frustrating colleagues become it can all lead to more unfollows.

Not being as close to the outer circle, the ‘People in the office’ will lead to fewer follows, it is up to you to ensure ‘people in the office’ are kept in the loop for important updates, important insights are shared and when required aware of their interaction levels with you.

The question for you to answer in the coming weeks is the unfollow a positive or a negative for your team, department or company?
How do you keep buy-in into your leadership, into goals and into your colleagues and team?

Have a great week and consider how the unfollow might happen within your business.

Danny Denhard

PS The images in this week’s leaders letter are part of my future of work keynote presentation on June 10th. For the full download click here or watch the video below

Read more about the future of work and improving your organisational health.

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Leaders Letter 51

Internal Podcasts

Dear leaders, 

I have had a number of conversations with business owners, founders and leaders about how they gain more cut through with their teams and how to be more open, more transparent, help everyone understand what they are trying to achieve. 

There are a number of businesses that offer AMA’s, I am a huge advocate of AMA’s and opening up, there are many ways you can gain more feedback and answer questions, but enabling open conversations and allowing people to relax podcasts are often the way many professionals open up.
So much so, there are specific media training courses covering podcasts alongside TV interviews. 

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Leaders Letter 50

Time To Answer: When was the last time you learnt from another company?

May 24th, 2021.

Dear Leaders, 

Something I have noticed over my career is many businesses just do not change their operating models or operating cadence. 

Why?

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Leaders Letter 49

The Catalyst

May 17th 2021.

Dear leaders, I trust you are ready for the week ahead. 

In hidden leaders and the company secret weapon, I introduced you to the concept that there are often a few people within your organisation that have a huge influence. 

Very often you have hidden leaders who you and most management and leadership teams do not understand their true value or the real role they play within your organisation. 

Today I want to introduce you to The Catalyst, they are the person in a team or a department that seems to be the colleague who kickstarts projects and has the foot on the accelerator regardless of their title and their experience level. 

The Catalyst is often found in teams that have too many thinkers and not enough delivers, they move projects and campaigns along when they see them falter or they understand the importance of the project and push the delivery forward effortlessly. 

The Catalyst is often deliberate, often sniper-like in the way they communicate and they do not always look for or crave the limelight or being called out.

The Catalyst is an essential but commonly the misunderstood part of your company culture and the company’s subculture.
Understanding how The Catalyst sets the standards and behaviours of the project is essential. Collaborating and developing their talents is imperative.

The Catalyst typically exists in every business, however, they are not often given the props they deserve or given the opportunity to grow as they are seen as a do-er. This is a big and common mistake. 

Some catalysts prefer to be under the radar but want to progress and feel they are in a good place to progress their career. 

Other catalysts are stuck under the wrong manager or blinded department lead to progress and they often leave the business because of this, if you do not have someone who springs to mind straight away you might be part of the developmental problem. 

Regular skip meetings and reviewing your managers reviews are critical ways to understand your teams and departments and understand how you can find hidden leaders, secret weapons and catalysts.

This week speak to your management team and uncover your catalysts, equally as important; if you are a catalyst arrange a conversation with your manager or department lead and ask to be considered to be coached or mentored by an internal or external coach and ask if there are fast track opportunities internally. 

Have a good week,

Danny Denhard

If you like finding out about high performers and what it takes here are five brilliant high performance podcasts to listen to or five podcasts to improve your business.


Watch The Hidden Leader 

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Leaders Letter 48

12 Lessons From The “Trillion Dollar Coach” Bill Campbell​ For You To Apply This Week.

Dear leaders,

I trust you had a good weekend. 

In 2016 I was told about a legendary coach in Silicon Valley named Bill Campbell who had just passed away. 

A TLDR backstory of Bill:

Bill was a coach of an unsuccessful sports team for Columbia, Bill then moved into the business world and had successes at Kodak and Apple before becoming the go-to c-suite coach. 

Bill’s coaching roaster is a who’s who of Silicon Valley. Bill helped the likes of:

  • Google’s former chairman Eric Schmidt, founders Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and current Alphabet CEO Sindar Pichai,
  • Apple’s leaders including co-founder Steve Jobs, long-serving exec Phil Schiller and even current CEO Tim Cook.
  • Ex CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer
  • The current COO at Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg
  • Alongside leading Intuit’s Brad Smith and business hero Amazon’s chairman Jeff Bezos (read the business lessons from Jeff Bezos).

Bill’s life and legacy are told in a brilliant biography Trillion Dollar Coach by Former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Google’s Comms leader Alan Eagle and SVP’s of Product Jonathan Rosenberg. 

I took a stack of notes and have applied a number of these lessons to a number of my coaching clients. 

So, here are the 12 most applicable lessons from the biography and you can apply daily: 

  1. Don’t be the hero 
  2. Don’t be a fixer 
  3. Ask questions and push those towards the answer 
  4. Don’t assume employees respect you because of your title 
  5. Lean into the hard problems 
  6. Guide people to opportunities – many don’t see it myself 
  7. It’s not about you – it’s about the team 
  8. Listen to what people want and give them a process to an outcome 
  9. Never give people the answer 
  10. Park your ego – constantly put it in check 
  11. Treat everyone with dignity, even in failure
  12. Get rid of people with bad attitudes. You need people that care about the outcome 

I highly recommend reading the full book, if you don’t think you have the time, this video from The Tim Ferriss podcast with Eric Schmidt is worth the watch. 

The message: Don’t think you do not need help, you will benefit from a coach.

Good luck with rolling these out and remember often it’s about guiding people and offering a light at the end of the tunnel than giving the answer in success and in failure. 

Thanks, 

Danny Denhard  – Focus Founder & Head Coach (I offer management and executive coaching, start your career development today)

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Leaders Letter 47

Virtual Interviews & Hybrid Hiring Tips 

3rd May 2021,

Dear Leaders, 

Over the past couple of months, I have been working with a number of businesses that are in a good position to grow and invest in their staff and ramp up hiring again. 

I have been lucky to interview a number of great candidates virtually, it was something I experienced before I created Focus, as a c-suite candidate you have a large number of rounds of interviews, with numerous committees, the experience was long, complicated and challenging for both parties, especially with time zones. 

Although I have not perfected the art yet, here are a few ways you can improve virtual interviews and hybrid hiring to improve the experience for both you and your candidates. 

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Leaders Letter 46

My Go To Operational & Organisational Tips 

26th April 2021,

Dear leaders, I trust you had a good week and ready for the week ahead.

Some of the most popular leaders letters are me sharing my way of work and the frameworks I use.

So here is a select series of my operational ways of work:

Split out your browsers, inboxes and messages 

  • One for work 
  • Home for another. 

Helps you prioritise, maintain and apply prioritisation. 

Take and keep notes but have a system  

  • I am a huge note taker and keeping a record, especially of micro-moments, select one way of taking notes, often in person pen and pad works best, type up (or scan and copy text), 
  • Categorise and link to other notes. Think of the 1:2:1’s, the department notes you have to keep and actions you have given and the ideas you have on an ongoing basis.
    These are all-important to take notes, check in on progress and revisit. 
  • Revisit the Decision documents, company typically only work when ‘centralised knowledge’ is kept, updated and shared. 

No pointless or boring meeting rules

  • Meetings always have an owner – clearly called out and run by said owner
  • No attendees leave a well organised intentional meeting – be intentional and explain why they should attend and what their role is in this meeting and moving forward
  • Always have a no leaving rule (no leaving early or no leaving because you were invited to a bad or unorganised) – roll this out company-wide so it sticks 
  • Meeting feedback is a gift – offer an open document for feedback. Many businesses can operate with silent start meetings, meaning they have centralised documents and share their thoughts and feedback and then discuss with one chair who updates and then the notes are reviewed and discussed.

Statuses Work

  • Have work statuses. The ones that typically work for my clients:  
    • Available
    • Away
    • In a meeting
    • At lunch
    • Deep work aka Do not disturb 
  • Ensure everyone understands what to use and when. This is not checking up on colleagues, this is to help understand how to support colleagues time and energy
  • Even if the most senior management team members or the HiPPO contacts you, follow the statuses to manage expectations. 

Clear Internal Comms 

  • IM channels for quick updates not long threads
  • Stories style video updates work, even think about replacing in-person standup (Work in progress meetings definitely can be replaced and shortened)
  • Documents for more in-depth deliberate conversations 
  • One dedicated project management tool (Notion, Monday or confluence all work well)
  • Email for external comms and important internal updates 

Good luck rolling these out, happily get in touch if you have any questions around these points.

Thanks and have a good week,

Danny Denhard


Other Great Leaders Letters:

One problem two solutions framework

Risk vs benefit framework

Three questions to build better relationships

Fewer managers, more coaches and mentors

Commitment: Communicate clearly

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Leaders Letter 45

Professional Injuries & Rehab 

Dear leaders, I trust you had a good weekend. 

As I have mentioned before, I love coaching and mentoring. I currently have two great coaching clients and it is the highlight of my week whenever we sit down, zoom and run through coaching sessions. 

Something that came up in a recent mentoring session was being conditioned by a previous experience and it having a lasting impact on their career. 

I for one know I have many battle wounds and mental scars from previous workplaces and I am open to telling many of these to help to share and show we all have them and let them know being vulnerable is part of the process with us. 

Something many managers forget is the professional injuries our team members suffer or have suffered at previous companies or under previous management.
Truth be told some might be impacted by our management styles today. 

Yes, being busy is a part of it, an (important) however, not being close enough to the team and choosing to be a coach or mentor vs not having to be specific people’s manager is not taught and rarely discussed in management books or courses. 

Like athletes, injuries take a tremendous toll on us, physically and mentally and are often triggered by repeat events or similar results from a similar approach. 

This is one of the reasons why I recommend more coaches and mentors than managers. Coaches improve performance and recognise weakness that needs more personalised coaching. Managers rarely have the skillset for this.

We need rehab, we need to retrain and strengthen, what is different in the workplace especially large corporations, this is often left to the individual to work through, professional assistance and training is not promoted or recommended by managers or management teams. 

It is the time to balance this, help your team or department members seek professional help or self start and find a coach or mentor to help work on their injuries and improve our reliance and our strength. Training budgets should be used to train and retrain. 

I highly recommend updating your leadership principles to include developing your colleagues with coaching and rehab.

This week consider how you can take forward your colleague’s professional injuries or scars and look to offer a chance for them to rehabilitate. It doesn’t have to cost a huge amount of money or time but the benefit for you, your colleague and the business in a short period of time will be huge. 

Have a great week and take the time to list of a couple of your own injuries and how you might rehab them.  Professional 1-2-1 coaching is only an email away.

Thanks, 

Danny Denhard 

Focus Founder 

Five Important Reads To Read & Share 

  1. Return to the office checklist – reduce the anxiety around returning to the office 
  2. Recording mico-moments – this should be a micro moment   
  3. Offsites to reconnect as a team – need to reconnect with your team? An off-site or on-site done well with help you win the next two quarters  
  4. Fight, flight or freeze – changing the default reaction of teams
  5. Time for a co-pilot? – Is it time to revisit whether you need more support or the team needs a different pilot?
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Leaders Letter 44

Risk Vs Benefit Framework

April 12th 2021

Dear leaders,

In my previous leaders letters, frameworks have been some of the most popular newsletters and most replied to newsletters. 

This week I wanted to introduce you to different pros vs con’s list I have used for a number of years that helped me to make better decisions, professionally and personally. 

Risk vs Benefit framework enables you to breakdown big decisions and questions in a repeatable framework.

RisksBenefit


  
   
  


You have two options.

Are you pen and pad or type and table? 

Pen and Pad: Write down on paper, half an a4 sheet, risks one side, benefit the other. 

Type and Table: Or in a table, excel, sheets, notion, apple apps and write down and explain in detail. 

Risk – Anything you face as a risk, anything that could be put at risk or a big red flag that needs to be called out. 

Benefit – Anything that will benefit you, the team, the company.

The more detail you include, the better in helping you to understand the first, second and third-order effects of your decision and the better decisions you ultimately make.

Simple yet effective. 

I tend to keep these risks vs benefit tables and revisit, optional but connected to micro-moments and making better long term decisions.  

This week, take a look at the risk vs benefit framework and consider how you will make better, more informed decisions. 

Have a great week and thanks for the recent replies to the newsletters.

Danny Denhard

3 Recent Must Reads

  1. Is it time for an off-site?
  2. Culture As A Service Movement
  3. Why The World Of Work Is Broken