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Leaders Letter 66 – The First & Last Ten Seconds

Dear Leaders,

In Mixed Martial Arts (like the UFC) the last ten seconds of the round can be the most important seconds in the five minute round or on occasions for the whole fight. 

The judges are often swayed by the final push, a lasting impression when scoring that round or that fight. 

The difference between that last push or that last punch can mean the difference a hard-fought victory or heartbreak for the fighters. Months of fight camp, of planning and training gone in seconds.  

In business this is often the case too, the first ten seconds of a speech and the last ten seconds will be the difference between a rallying call, a cry for help or losing your people. 

The first ten words and the last ten words on a company-wide email are often the difference between action, reaction or many times status quo.  

There is nothing worse than being called into a companywide meeting, attending an all-hands and it is flat and having another email sent to the business and it flops, or worse still you receive more questions than provide answers or direction.  

I wanted to share three tips for you to have the best impressions possible in the hybrid way of work the majority of us are working.  

Tip 1: Learn To Storytell 

The 3 step narrative storytellers use is the difference between being fully immersed and engaged or drifting off. 

The 3 rules in a TLDR format 

  1. The Set Up – Strong attention-grabbing opening – set up hero journey 
  2. Goals – Conflict or confrontation – Longest part, build anticipation and the turning point 
  3. Resolution – Shortest phase – twists short and clear, build tension until the wrap-up – give your audience that moment

Tip 2: Use The Right Message Medium 

In the hybrid work world, choosing the right medium to deliver your message is essential. 

When it is trickier to write a long message, a quick video message will have more impact, it can be delivered by slack, teams or via email. The first few seconds will get more buy-in than a longer intro. 

Tools such as loom (or Canva) will help you present a quick deck if you’re like me and prefer to talk through things vs just freestyling or reading a script.
Tools like teleprompter, however, will help you read a script or deliver a speech as the big CEO’s do.

Tip 3: BLUF Emails 

I have referenced the military method of BLUF – bottom line up front as a great way to communicate. Grabbing attention and asking upfront helps to get quick buy-in.
Placing the most important information front and centre and explaining the context underneath. 

I’ll leave you with a particularly accurate TikTok for how all hands are really seen: 

@naijanomad

It’s truly a blessing to hear from leadership #tech #startups

♬ original sound – NaijaNomad

Have a great week and concentrate on the first and last impression you make. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Recent Leaders Letter That Will Help You

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 65 – The Unspoken Costs Of Being A Business Leader 

Dear leaders, 

This week I wanted to offer up a personal story that has been reinforced a number of times whilst speaking to different leaders over the last three years. 

There are many unspoken costs of being a business leader. 

  • The sleepless nights 
  • The restless weekends 
  • The fight that no one sees, the fight inside the board room to protect your team and the team members who have worked their tales off 
  • The constant exhaustion you feel 
  • The continued burden of another politically fuelled discussion taking more time away from completing your actual work 
  • The fight to find five minutes to yourself to get your thoughts together 
  • The way you may struggle with relationships outside of the work 
  • The fear and paranoia you feel around the business and your role 
  • The feeling of being alone in your role and not having someone to really have your back 
  • The number of days you eat badly because you are in a rush and then the days you rely on caffeine-based drinks to get you through 
  • And lastly: The three days it takes to relax while you are on holiday/vacation and then the day of dread worrying about what has happened, even if you check emails and slacks.  
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Leaders Letter 64 – Leveraging Your Edge

Dear Leaders, 

In the recent weeks we have read numerous stories about returning to the office, how some have thrived working remotely, how others have really struggled working from home and I have banged my own drum about the future of work is hybrid and then most recently answering an anonymous career advice question on how Google got it wrong with their it’s ok to manifesto

We have heard from managers struggling, teams screaming loudly they are close to burnout and it has even been suggested it is the hardest phase for leaders of businesses in decades. 

Today I think it’s only fair to make it about you specifically. 

We all have that one thing, our edge, in many cases, it is the competitive edge that makes us stand out over our colleagues, other candidates at job interviews or hopefully as leaders.
For the record: I’d recommend it should be a good edge, not a nasty characteristic you may have. Ruthlessness is a two-edged sword.

In my coaching sessions, one of the most important questions I ask is “what is your edge?” 

Many answer this question too quickly and rarely do I think they have it right the first time around.
Why? Many answer the question with what they tell themselves not with the true answer. 

I will ban ‘Hard Work’ and working the hardest as hustle doesn’t scale when you need to bring others up around you.

After being told this on a handful of occasions and in a mentoring session, my own personal edge:
An ability to explain things simply and act as the translator in the management team and with leadership teams

A good friend’s competitive edge is being the best internal communicator I know, particularly in writing, they understand how to write something compelling, challenging or complex in such a way it is an art form and just gets cut through. 

Today it’s time to ask yourself and find out what your edge is and how you can leverage this again (and again)? 

The questions to ask yourself:

  • What is your edge? 
  • What would others say your edge is? 
  • Where do you get your edge from? (Hint therapists always point to your childhood)
  • How would you choose to turn it up when required? 
  • Is this an edge you want to teach those around you? 

In the week to come, I’d love for you to answer these and consider how you might help teach your edge to one or two people around you. If you have a team this can be an exercise you try out and ask for input from the team around them.

If you feel comfortable, you can always reply and tell me your edge, I’d love to connect more. 

Have a great week, 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

PS Thanks for making 40 tips to improve work as the most read Leaders Letter to date, consider copying and pasting this into slack or teams to help leaders letters grow.

Need More Inspiration?

Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Peter Hopwood Fixing The Broken World Of Work Podcast

This episode of fixing the broken world of work is with Peter Hopwood, Peter is an executive coach, TEDx Coach & Global Public Speaker What Peter and I discuss: How to step up as a leader Why leadership is often the smaller unspoken steps we take, such as mental nods, gestures and the tone we use when speaking Why storytelling is more than a buzzword and will take leaders up many steps Bias – how we can overcome bias in our team's minds How to rebuild trust when may have lost trust from your team How to tackle remote and hybrid work leadership differently Connect With Peter on LinkedIn or watch his TED X talk  Connect with me (host) Danny Denhard on the fixing the broken world of work site, LinkedIn, or twitter  
  1. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Peter Hopwood
  2. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Andy Reid
  3. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Jo Twiselton
  4. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Sharon Aneja
  5. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Luke Kyte

Other Important Leadership Reads

What is strategy

The difference between mission, vision, strategy and tactics

Why Google got it wrong with their manifesto

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 63 – 40 Tips To Improve Work For Everyone

Leaders Letter 63 

Dear leaders, 

This week I am going to be offering up 40 tips to improve your working environment and a number of these tips can be rolled out easily within minutes. 

A number of these tips are connecting to bigger ideas and frameworks, so do click through to find out more information. 

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Leaders Letter 62 – WTF Is Strategy

Dear Leaders,

It’s coming towards the end of the Summer here in the UK which typically means it’s long term planning and/or annual planning review cycle. This is likely the second time you are not in the board room or in a basement of a hotel planning your company’s future.

From recent feedback, many are finding asynchronous or hybrid planning sessions a challenge.

There are common questions that are being asked within businesses that leadership teams (and senior management teams) rarely address, through not knowing these questions that are being asked, but, also because the management team is not connecting to the “floor” and are rarely delivering Q&A to the business.

The usual questions being asked are:

  • What is our strategy?
    – This happens multiple times a year
  • Why are we doing what we do?
    – This is usually a follow up to what is the strategy?
    Or we do not support the strategy still
  • What does success actually look like?
    – A list of targets rarely helps employees to understand what success is and how to build towards it.

The word that stands out above the rest but confuses so many people within businesses is: STRATEGY

Strategy can mean so many things to so many people, everything became strategic.

I have recently experienced every team in a large department creating their own ‘strategy’. That was nine (yes 9) different teams, within one department with their own “strategies” that did not connect at all!

FYI: This is not ‘strategy’, these are actually plans of action, that should roll up to departmental action plans, rolling up into the company-wide strategy. (see image below)

The reason I am being so pedantic and why being deliberate is so important; when everyone has a ‘strategy’, the company strategy is commonly ignored and is then questioned as soon as there are disagreements or performance dips.

On the Focus blog, I recently wrote a detailed post about the difference between mission, vision, strategy and tactics.

The way to think about the bigger picture: Mission sits over & across the top of vision, strategy connects directly into the company vision. Strategy guides each department action plan, with team plans rolling into the department action plan. Tactics sit at the bottom and are often interchangeable but never dictates strategy!

The TLDR framework explainer I used for strategy in this framework:

  • Operating Principle: Strategy  
  • Explainer: One company-wide plan for everyone within the business to understand, everybody throughout the company should be able to repeat without any thought and all departments follow when crafting their own plans.
    No team or department should deviate from the strategy. 
    • Your Company Strategy build should be thought about in this simple way:
      • 💭 Think: 5 Years
      • 🗺 Plan: 3 Years
      • 📦 Deliver: 1 Year ahead
      • It is imperative: No department should have its own strategy. 
  • When To Review Strategy: Up to twice per year 
  • When To Change Strategy: Once a year, every year  

It is well worth reading what is mission, vision, strategy and tactics framework.

⬆️ This is an explainer of what mission is, what vision is, what strategy is, what departmental actions plans are and an explainer of tactics.

The mentioned issues are why you have to be so precise and deliberate with your company or organisations plans.

Are You Struggling?
Run A Strategic Audit Recommendation: If you struggle with strategy or how to answer what your company-wide strategy is, what I recommend regularly is running a strategy audit and then creating a one-pager to reexplain your company-wide strategy to the company.

This newsletter is to help guide you through your leadership journey, if you consider yourself a decision-maker within your business, it should be part of your role to improve your company and introducing and creating frameworks and guides for your teams to follow to be successful within your department and the wider company.
And, importantly, when team members move on to the next challenge.

Help those around you build the team and departmental action plans and roll them up into the actual company-wide strategy.
If you do not have a company-wide strategy or struggle with them or get gain buy-in, get in touch today.

Thanks and have a great week.

Danny Denhard


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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 61

Be Deliberate 

Dear Leaders, I trust you are well. 

I have a confession: while writing the hybrid work guide, I used a tool to review the keywords I used and word count the number of times I used certain words. 

One word I overused is deliberate. 

Deliberate is also mentioned by me a number of times in the focus podcast aka the fixing the broken world of work podcast.

It is often intentional for me to overuse deliberate to reinforce why being intentional is essential for the companies success.

In recent years a worrying trend has occurred:  

More ambiguity = More problems = Performance drops of the teams and individuals.   

I came across a quote from the new CEO of Instacart, Fidji Simo (who was the ex Product lead at Facebook Blue aka the original app) and I wholeheartedly agree: 

There is nothing more frustrating when leaders are not intentional, they operate in a scattergun way and everything is of the highest importance.

Leaders should set out a framework, an imagined roadmap and often a template for the company to follow, blending the near term work and the long term future. 

A few non-negotiable areas for leaders to be deliberate with: 

  • Leaders have to be deliberately focused on the company’s vision, especially when explaining themselves and the leadership teams intentions, this has to be clear and concisely explained – often winning with an internal motto 
  • Leaders have to be intentional in explaining what leadership is and what they expect from their leadership team and then flowing through to their teams (unfortunately this is often the breaking point in larger companies than 10) 
  • Leaders have to help those around them to be deliberate in being crystal clear in being deliberate in
    (a) what the objective is,
    (b) what your expected involvement is,
    (c) how teams are expected to work together (obvious but without being called out cracks appear in those who do not respect or trust each other)
    (d) enabling the internal experts to take the lead but
    (f) show what success looks like 
  • Leaders have to be informed about what the future of work looks like and how the future of their workplace is going to operate and be unwavering when required to lead.  
  • Leaders have to be responsible with the power of their own influence and not deliberate in not misusing their control 
  • Leaders have to know the power of internal communications – especially with the internal influencers and how to work alongside and leverage the connection and trust built with the internal influencer 
  • Leaders should be deliberate when taking a step back and removing themselves, often stepping aside or bringing in those around them to help them to develop, help to evolve business lines or importantly help to coach and mentor them to develop themselves and the success of the company 

Being deliberate in your leadership is a process you have to be aware of and constantly remind yourself of. 

Being deliberate helps you to make better, fewer decisions not more decisions.

This week review how you are being intentional, consider creating a personal and professional SWOT assessment and be more deliberate in your actions. 

Have a good week being deliberated. 

Thanks, 

Danny Denhard  

PS – Do go and listen to The fixing the broken world of work podcast to help improve your workplace for those around you! 

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Leaders Letter 60 – Danny Meyer’s 6 Qualities

Dear Leaders, Happy Monday!

Today I have a Leadership Lesson(s) from the chief executive officer of the Union Square Hospitality Group Danny Meyer’s.

Danny is well known for having some of New York’s best restaurants and is well known for creating Shake Shack.

Fun Fact: Danny spent $1m searching for the perfect freshly cut fries and found out frozen were best.

Danny has spoken openly about his successes and failures, I want to share the 6 qualities Danny Meyer’s and his team look for when hiring.

FYI this interviewing training and practise letter pairs very well.

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 59 – Beware the empathy trap!

Happy Monday leaders.

This week’s leaders letter comes from a friend of Focus and Positive Psychology coach Sharon Aneja. Sharon will be breaking down the empathy trap and why you should put on your own mask first.

Have a great week and over to Sharon’s gems:


Leaders: Beware the empathy trap!

By now you will have heard a million coaches telling leaders to be more empathetic, show more emotional intelligence and practice active listening.

You’re expecting me to say the same. I’m not here to do that.

Why?

Well, there’s an old adage: “Nice guys finish last”.

OK, I don’t totally subscribe to this loaded statement. Besides, Alan Sugar’s style of 80’s leadership has that pretty much covered.

What I am saying is that there is such a thing as being too empathetic a leader which can be detrimental to the team.

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Leaders Letter 58

Fear of ‘not’ having the right conversations

Leaders! How is it Monday again?

This week is the first guest leaders letter, we are going to bringing you one every few weeks to help provide better leadership advice and guidance.

This week’s leaders letter is from Matt Roberts, the CEO from Zokri, Zokri is on a mission to help companies to create better goals with agile execution gaining faster growth through their software.

So over to Matt and his brilliant leader’s letter:


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Leaders Letter 57

Keep It To Post It Note Communications  

Dear Leaders,

Recently I have been down a rabbit hole on how effective and elite leaders communicate.

Their styles and approaches are very different. There is, however, a common theme. 

Many are brilliant at pushing messages out, most are not very good at receiving them, this is down to a few things typically, time and cognitive bandwidth.