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Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 130 – You Don’t Have To!

Dear Leaders, I am going to make a number of ‘you don’t have to’ statements to go against the grain to ensure you aren’t following bad or the wrong trends for you: 

You Don’t Have To: 

  • Welcome every new employee via LinkedIn 
  • Always be available 
  • Have the most knowledge 
  • Know everything 
  • Be unavailable (that was terrible advice from poor timekeepers and low EQ managers)
  • Work 24/7 (hint; work smarter not longer) 
  • Be the expert on everything within your organisation 
  • Comment on everything happening outside of your business 
  • Write long-form articles on topics you do not have informed points on 
  • Appear on podcasts, video interviews and on social media 
  • Speak at conferences, be the keynote speaker or sit on every panel 
  • Have a social media presence 
  • Be on TikTok and dance (please don’t fall for this latest trap)

With each statement there will always be a but, here’s the important, however, it is essential for you as a leader to protect yourself and for those around you to get the best results with your guidance. 

Your Behaviours Have Influence: Remember almost every person underneath you as a leader feels like this is the example set and the actions and behaviours they feel like they have to mimic to be successful. 

Many execs struggle to change who they are and adopt new styles that go against their personality types and when uncomfortable it is not great to watch or experience. 

Breaking down that barrier can often mean you can struggle to build connections or are not then taken seriously when things start going badly.  

Respecting your own time, energy and focus are so important to driving your business forward. 

Knowing You Can Say No To The PR Roadshow: Coinbase went on the PR offence and ultimately impacted their business and their CEO has had to go on a PR show ever since the summer.
Unfortunately, a CEO who was recently removed was Bob Chapek from Disney and he was removed for poor company performance but also importantly for being bad in public interviews and badly representing Disney in the public eye. 

Many famous CEOs have gone out with their narrative and were called out for their previous behaviours and the bubbling under-the-surface stories come to light quicker than you will ever be able to control. 

Reduce Pressure: There is enormous pressure on team managers, all the way up to chief execs to co-founders to act in unnatural ways and go against the way they are engineered, going against what makes them thrive. Often focusing on your strengths will outperform trying to improve all of your weaknesses. 

If you have fallen for the trick of going against your strengths it is time to take back control and revisit what you are and are not going to do justice and build true connections and give direction to your team, your company and your industry.  

Remember you don’t have to be the first CEO dancing on TikTok, or the first leader in your business to keynote at the biggest conference, or appear on a high-profile podcast with forced and hole-filled stories. 

People connect with people (that’s the worst kept secret we forget) and their true stories, by all means, build your confidence, build narratives and stand out but in a natural way to you and remember once it is out there it is near on impossible to remove from the internet, so be you, be the you that can build relationships and can create strong connections with your people and your brand. If you are not comfortable, get training and help don’t force it for a new platform, there will also be someone else who will be better placed and create a better response. 

Go and have a great week and remember often saying no and delegating in leadership is best for everyone. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

PS I hope you have enjoyed the 5 questions series, there are a few more for the end of the year and the start of next to kickstart 2023 right!

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hybrid office Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 129 – Space-As-A-Service With Caleb Parker

Dear Leaders, this week I speak to the Space-As-A-Service (aka SPaaS) Pioneer Caleb Parker.

Caleb is one of those people who is on a mission to improve working environments and actually connect communities together within his co-working spaces.

Caleb and I connected last year and he is someone you want to collaborate with instantly.

I asked Caleb five questions to help you understand his driving force and why you can make positive changes too within your workspace and importantly in your working environments.

Q1. What is the space as a service movement you are leading on? 

Simply put it’s access versus ownership.

Space-as-a-service is space that is procured on demand. So instead of buying or renting space long-term, then going through the headache and costs to customize it, you pay for the exact experience you want it only when you want to use it. 

Like every other aspect of our lives, the sharing economy is changing the way people think about space. We share our cabs and holiday destinations. We stream our movies and music on-demand. 

Today convenience and accessibility are more important than ownership.

Because although we want things here and now, we’re less concerned with having them forever.

This change is making itself felt in the world of real estate too, where people are looking for convenience and flexibility. Instant access, with minimal commitment. Having a place to live or work, meet and share, only matters as long as you need it.

This enables people to choose the experience, or community where they feel they belong, and taken care of.

Q2. What are your essential tips to make the most out of workspace and offices?

Most of us don’t need an office to get our work done. We learned that through 2 years of lockdowns. 

But the value of face-to-face was felt by us all when we finally were able to come back together. 

Since we don’t need to be together every day anymore, what I believe people should look for when choosing a place for face-to-face is vibe.

  • How do we feel when we walk through the doors?
  • Is it cool?
  • What’s the service like?
  • Am I taken care of?
  • What’s the community like?
  • Can I be inspired here?

Ask how this place is going to help me better than my home office or local cafe. 

Q3. What is the trend you are predicting for 2023 that everyone should embrace or adopt? 

Authenticity

Q4. What is the one piece of bad advice you hear regularly that business leaders should instantly stop?

Say no. I believe we should say yes more. Because that leads to opportunities and learning.

Q5. Community is a hot topic and something you have promoted for years, what’s the key to a great community?

I believe a great community inspires us and offers opportunities to inspire. 


Go & Connect With Caleb: On LinkedIn // On Twitter: @caleb_parker // Listen To His Podcast & find out more about Bold and his SaaS service at WorkBold.co.uk

If you’d like to understand how to become a thought leader and drive change within your industry Caleb is a brilliant example of how to reshape your business as a modern-day media company.

Here is one of the most thought-provoking pods from Caleb and Bold

Are Brandlords The Future Of Office Real Estate? #WorkBold Podcast

Reviewing the Trillion Dollar Hashtag with Antony Slumbers Quote from Guest: “The difficulty with white labeling is you actually don't have, as you don't have enough of a brand” – Antony   Summary: Antony Slumbers, founder of ‘#SpaceasaService: The Trillion Dollar Hashtag‘, a course for those with ambitions to create great places and spaces. Antony was a guest on the first episode of the #WorkBold podcast and now joins Bold founder Caleb for the final episode of Season 8. In this episode, you will find out if his predictions and theories were true in our pre-pandemic episode.  Antony shares what questions he’s being asked by the supply side of our industry, what questions aren’t being asked that should be, and who is getting it right. Antony talks about some of the trends driving the future of office demand that he covers on his online course.  Antony and Caleb discuss a new phrase: brandlords, and they debate operator partnerships, management agreements, white labels and brands. Connect with Antony on LinkedIn Connect with Caleb on LinkedIn  If you have any questions or feedback on this episode, email podcast@workbold.co   Value Bombs: The notion of requiring a human-centric real estate and service-led real estate industry as opposed to a product industry, I think is spot on and becoming more and more important each and every day – Antony You'll never get to understand what is needed unless you dig quite deeply into the wants, needs and desires of individuals, teams, and the company – Antony We need to be working to a situation where actually real estate is the output, not the input, the input is the human need – Antony It's quite a scary thought for anyone in the real estate industry to look at their building and completely dispassionately ask the question, why would anyone come here? – Caleb Real estate isn't gonna be all things for all people anymore. We need to really focus and target customers. -Caleb Anyone running an office has to think about the things that you can do in an office better than anywhere else – Antony Every landlord's gonna have to say, well, actually for this building, that's the right op operator for here in that building. – Antony I think an owner of a building should be working very closely with their operator. -Antony The difficulty with white labeling is you actually don't have, as you don't have enough of a brand – Antony I think in 10 years you'll be picking from 40 different options. -Antony   Timestamps:  [7:00] Antony discusses whether his predictions in the previous episode he featured on were right. [9:30] The drive behind the demand for Space-as-a-Service. [18:26] What is this new way of working going to mean for the success of companies going forward? [21:11] The questions being asked by the supply side of the industry and how to accommodate these nuances [25:48] The characteristics of a good office. [29:26] The Chicken and the Pig analogy. [30:41] Antony’s opinion on white labelling or selecting a specific brand to partner with to attract specific customer targets into buildings.    Resources: What is the Trillion Dollar Hashtag? #WorkBold Podcast with Antony Slumbers Why is CBRE Forward cofounder ALL IN on Space-as-a-Service? #WorkBold Podcast with David Cairns How to finance the future of commercial real estate. #WorkBold Podcast with Dror Poleg #SpaceAsAService: The Trillion Dollar Hashtag – Version 2, Antony Slumbers, March 2022 This isn’t an acceleration, it’s a revolution, Antony Slumbers, March 2021 Remote work: A series of best practices for a remote workplace, GitHub, April 2020 How should Landlords respond to Flexible Workspace Demand? Are you a Pig or a Chicken? — Antony Slumbers The time is right for ‘brandlords’ to enter coworking/flexspace, Zoe Ellis-Moore, October 2022   Shoutouts:  David Cairns Dror Poleg GitHub Leesman Zoe Ellis-Moore JLL NewFlex   About Antony Slumbers: Antony is a  globally recognised speaker, advisor and writer on proptech and space-as-a-service. A serial entrepreneur, he has founded and exited several proptech software companies and now consults real estate boards on their transformation, technology and innovation strategies. In September 2022 he launched ‘#SpaceasaService: The Trillion Dollar Hashtag‘ course. Antony speaks internationally on ‘‘#SpaceasaService: The Trillion Dollar Hashtag’, AI, Innovation, and the future of work and the workplace. He also sits on the Advisory Board of Tenant Engagement leader Equiem and is a member of the Leadership Board of CRETech.   Connect with Antony on Twitter   Sponsors: Headline Sponsor: TSK TSK creates inspiring workplaces for some of the world’s biggest brands across the UK and Ireland. They've been working for 25 years to deliver the best employee experiences and the vision of their clients. Not only do they create great places to work, TSK share workplace content every week from the latest data to inspiring spaces they’ve designed and built. You can read their latest insights at www.tskgroup.co.uk or check out their LinkedIn and Instagram pages to become a follower, fan and friend.   TSK publish weekly thought leadership, research and content featuring their team, clients and partners about workplace, commercial interiors, hybrid working and how others have prospered from investing in workplace. You can check their latest publications and video content in the show notes by signing up to their weekly ‘work made better’ newsletter or visit tskgroup.co.uk.   Fortune Favours the Bold Bold merges property management & Space-as-a-Service to help office customers grow faster and drive asset value. Bold is a real estate brand owned and operated by NewFlex (www.workbold.co)  Future Proof Your Portfolio with NewFlex NewFlex delivers and manages a range of branded solutions for every type of building, in every type of location, for every type of occupier. Including the flexibility to develop your own brand. All enabled by flexible management contracts where we are invested in making money for you. (www.newflex.com) Launch Your Own Podcast A Podcast Company is the leading podcast production and strategic content company for brands, organisations, institutions, individuals, and entrepreneurs. Our team sets you up with the right strategy, equipment, training, guidance and content to ensure you sound amazing while speaking to your niche audience and networking with your perfect clients. Get in touch hello@apodcastcompany.com 
  1. Are Brandlords The Future Of Office Real Estate?
  2. Is The “Office” Asset Class Still A Good Investment?
  3. Can Physical Workplaces Still Inspire Innovation?
  4. Why Should We Repurpose Former Retail Space To Workspace?
  5. How A PropCo-OpCo JV Is Repurposing A 19th Century Building For Space-as-a-Service

I trust you will have a few valuable takeaways and apply them to your workplace to improve work for your company.

Have a great week and I’ll land in your inbox again next week.

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 128 – Leadership Lessons From CEO/COO William Phillipson

Dear Leaders, this week I want to introduce you to Will Phillipson, Will is one of those leaders who you meet and know he is someone you would love to collaborate with and learn a tonne from.

Will has been a CEO and COO of well known companies and is someone you will learn a great deal from his answers and feel inspired to make positive changes for the end of this year and kickstart next year off in the right way.

Leadership Lessons From CEO/COO William Phillipson

Q1. You’ve led and sold your own business and been COO at well-known businesses, what’s the one leadership trait you have to teach each leader?

Communication. When you’re in the details day to day – especially when you’re at the center of a business – you understand and feel the business like no one else (or at least very few others.) It’s also easy to assume that everyone has the same level of understanding. That’s not the case. So as a leader, you have to communicate, frequently and repeatedly. Explain to the team – with the right level of nuance and transparency for every level of the team – the vision, what’s going on right now, and how it relates to achieving the vision. People who understand the environment, their part in it, and how everyone is working together to make things happen are more effective.

Q2. One of your best traits is being a translator between management and the different departments – what’s the secret to getting everyone on the same page?

I’ve found the secret to be two-fold – first, taking the time to understand what the department / team / individuals do; and second, communicating and relating the vision and action plan to them in the context of their environment.
Doing this reduces misinterpretation – you “speak” the appropriate language to each team – and also gives each team confidence that you understand the value and contribution they bring to the overall mission.

Q3. Is there one common mistake you see company leads repeat over and over that you can share that you’d warn department leads on what not to repeat?

Accountability is huge, and often not thought about until things go wrong – then the blamestorming begins… Part of the communication – part of the vision – needs to be metrics that can be used to measure whether the vision/mission/project has been achieved. If that is part of the formulation, then those metrics can be used by each team – and the company overall – to ensure that progress is being made. And most of all, failures need to be identified, acknowledged, and particularly where the failures impact other teams, those responsible need to be held accountable.

Nothing demotivates team members more than seeing repeated failures go unpunished – or worse, being rewarded… (We all know of those cases where repeated failure has resulted in people getting promoted…)

Q4. What’s the biggest opportunity for businesses in 2023?

Big Tech is struggling. Thousands of high-quality people are available on the market. Consumers are demanding exceptional online experiences and seamless online and offline integration. This all breeds amazing opportunities for disruption and the birth of the next generation of super businesses. 

The businesses that survive will focus on the customer experience – better online user experience coupled with an offline fulfilment that matches the expectations set by the online experience.

Q5. What do you think every leader needs to teach in 2023?

Humility & patience coupled with purpose and vision. The world is chaotic at present and people are worried and often overwhelmed. Leadership will set the tone for the team – treating people with humility and patience will build a culture of respect; providing – and clearly communicating – a purpose will give team members a reason to show up, be present, and drive towards success.

If you’d like to connect with Will on LinkedIn.

Massive thanks to Will for answering these questions and adding a lot of value and a number of actions to move forward with. I’ll see you again next Monday.

Have a productive week!

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 127 – Mental Health Can No Longer Be A ‘Perk’

Dear leaders, this week I have a special Leaders Letter from Anish Hallan, Anish and I were colleagues, I really enjoyed working with him and sparing in making the best possible product.

Anish is now on a mission to remove burnout from organisations. Having experienced burnout and seen it first-hand at Facebook (and many other large orgs) Anish offers actionable tips to remove the perk approach to mental health and apply real change within your business.

Let’s dive into helping you remove mental health being missold as a perk.


  • Free membership to Headspace
  • Work from home 2 days a week
  • 1 day a year to volunteer at a charity of your choice

The three perks above are a sample of what mental health benefits a company may offer their employees. Whilst this is positive, it still classifies mental health support as a perk, just like a pension or life insurance.

The problem is a pension or life insurance plan are not critical for your employees being productive, healthy and content in the workplace but balanced mental health is.

77% of respondents to a survey said their productivity was negatively impacted by their mental health. — Mind Share Partners’ 2021 Mental Health at Work Report

That statistic alone is harrowing evidence of how much of a mental health crisis is happening in the workplace and ignoring it will only drive your employees to lost productivity, burnout and eventually churn.

Presenteeism is also on the rise, which is showing up to work but not being able to perform to your full capacity.

Deloitte found that presenteeism costs UK employers between £24-28 billion in 2021 alone.

What’s Changed?

Leaders can no longer sweep these issues under a rug and hope they disappear, the old rules don’t work anymore:

  • Older generations are leaving the workplace, ushering in the new generations below and propelling many millennials into leadership positions. They bring a new sense of expectations of what work should be and how people should be treated, but some companies are resistant to making changes from the top down. They’re happy to add more benefits to their HR package, but keep avoiding dealing with the innate cultural issues that perpetuate negative mental health culture at work.
  • The pandemic has accelerated the technological advantages of hybrid and remote working and has given employees a glimpse into healthier more balanced ways of living.
  • Employees care more about how their work brings meaning and purpose to their lives and want to work for a company where they feel part of a community, rather than just a transactional existence.
  • Employees no longer want to ‘leave their issues at the door’. They want to bring their real self to work and that means talking honestly about what they’re experiencing in their lives.

What Do Leaders Need To Do?

  • Start by creating a culture of transparency and openness from the top which demonstrates leaders and managers expressing their challenges and management of mental health.
    This doesn’t necessarily need to be through heartfelt speeches, but more in the day-to-day communication such as:
  • Letting your team know that you’re not working one afternoon because you need to rest and have been feeling a bit drained recently.
  • Promoting a culture of output rather than input. This manifests for example, through allowing people to have focus hours in their calendar where they don’t get disturbed.
  • Having mental health days that an employee can take if they do need extra time out.
  • Ensure employees take their time seriously off by encouraging them to disconnect when off work and take their entire allowance.
  • Through talking openly about some of the challenges they face, this sounds simple but will have huge effects.

It’s important that leaders have (EQ) empathy so they can connect with their employees, if your managers lack this, then some form of training should be undertaken to equip them with the skills to manage the modern workforce.

Why Will This Work?

We act in accordance with our environment and culture. If an employee sees their management team talking openly, then they feel they won’t be ostracised if they go through a mental health challenge at some point. 

This is tremendously comforting because they feel the workplace reflects their values, and they don’t need to waste precious energy pretending to be ‘great’ all the time. 

People feel like they belong…and that psychological need will help with productivity and cultural cohesion across the team.

Do you need help with burnout or mental health struggles with your business?

Interested in what Anish does? Watch this and find out his why

Get in contact with Anish via his website or on LinkedIn.

Thanks for reading and i’ll land in your inbox again next week,

Danny Denhard

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 126 – Leadership Lessons From Agency CEO Paddy Moogan

Dear Leaders, this week I am introducing a new interview series with leaders I have worked with and I asked them five important questions to help you with your business moving forward into the new year.

The first is a good friend of mine Paddy Moogan, CEO of Aira, an award-winning agency doing the agency model differently, where culture was a key and deliberate differentiator. As you will see from the questions Paddy has gone from co-founder to CEO and has some great gems and offers many wise words for you across your leadership journey.

Onto the Q&A:

Q1. You recently created an agency leadership programme, what do think are the next steps in shaping the future of digital leaders?

I think that digital leaders of the future need to be more emotionally intelligent than previous generations. Empathy is likely to end up being a superpower for managers and this can present challenges for managers too, but I think it’s an important area to develop.

We’ve been trending towards this anyway over the last ten years or so, but the pandemic and remote working has accelerated the need to understand the viewpoint and experiences of the people you manage.

Even if a manager isn’t a natural when it comes to emotional intelligence or empathy, they are things that can be learned to a good enough extent to be valuable. But it starts with a leader being open to the idea that it matters. If they’re not, they will struggle to lead the current and future generations of workers.

Aira’s recent conference at the Red Bull HQ

Q2. What is the biggest takeaway you learnt from your recent in real-life conference?

That conferences are hard! I have a huge level of respect for people who run large events because a lot can go wrong (thankfully, our event went great).

Aside from that, it was a great reminder of the value that face-to-face interactions have. I think that we’ve all forgotten about the benefits of being in the same room as a bunch of different people. So it was great to get that feeling back again and have conversations that just wouldn’t have happened via an online event. 

I do think that real-life B2B events are harder to make work (attendees-wise) than previously. But it will go back to where it was, just slowly. 

Q3. What’s the biggest shift you made when becoming the CEO this year?

The biggest shift was probably the change in mindset from co-founder to CEO. This was really interesting and a little unexpected. It’s given me a renewed focus on how I’d like Aira to operate and the things that are important to focus on.

That felt strange because things are going well and nothing felt broken. But having a bit of a reset and focus on my “new” job was really valuable and gave me some clarity that I probably didn’t have previously. 

It’s also made me let go (slowly!) of a few things that I’ve always kept hold of, particularly around people and culture. That’s a big shift for me personally, but it’s the right call and it will naturally always be something that I care about a lot anyway – even if I’m not working on the day-to-day of it.

Q4. What are the three best tips you can give leaders planning for 2023?

  1. Don’t underestimate the value of face time with your team. Remote working is here to stay, but don’t lean into it so much that you forget about the value of going for lunch or coffee with your team if the opportunity arises.
  2. Be prepared for churn. Remote working has opened up a huge talent pool for leaders to tap into. But it’s also opened up more opportunities for your team to continue their career elsewhere. Don’t take your team for granted and have a plan for team churn.
  3. Try and stay on the front foot. The economic climate is looking pretty grim and we’ve barely gotten over the impact of the pandemic. So it’s easy to batten down the hatches and go into survival mode all over again, but try to focus on leading in a positive way rather than being too defensive.

Q5. If you could click your fingers and address one big issue for 2023 what would it be?

If I could make the argument over remote / hybrid / office working go away overnight, I would!

I think it’s a flawed argument in all directions because there is no right answer. 

Of course, the world has changed and remote working has accelerated far quicker than expected due to the pandemic. 

But the real thing we should be focusing on is the change that has happened in people’s heads. Whichever working environment they prefer, they now have far more choices than ever before and expect flexibility. If they don’t get it from you, there are plenty of other companies that will give it to them. I think this is the real discussion point of this topic – not whether office or remote working is the future or not.

Go & Connect With Paddy

Have a great week and think about how you can reshape 2023 based on the great recommendations from Paddy,

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

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Company Culture Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 125 – Company Culture Lessons From Apple, Burberry, Google, And Uber

Dear Leaders, today I want to share tips and lessons directly from leaders from Burberry, Apple, Google and Uber. 

The Backstory: At the recent Masters of Scale Summit, there was a roundtable discussion that was shared as a podcast, it featured Former Burberry and Apple Leader Angela Ahrendts, Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi & Former CEO, then Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt. 

Three powerhouses all share their experiences that can help to change leadership behaviours to positively change the business around you. 

Below are my takeaways, I do strongly recommend you listen (embedded below) yourself as there are some real nuggets in here that will apply to your business specifically: 

Angela Ahrendts Culture Lessons & Tips: While at Apple and Burberry: 

  • Being authentic – demonstrating that work and life go hand in hand (a great story of when her daughter calls her in the middle of her first video message to the Apple team)
  • Going against the grain was difficult but essential when at Apple, one learning Anglea took from Burberry to Apple was often you have to go against old traits or behaviours to make real change within an organisation. 
  • Document culture in onboarding – responsibilities doc and report is essential to show how you work and act 

Dara Khosrowshahi Culture Lessons & Tips At Uber & Their Turnaround: 

  • Culture must be listened to but your identity has to be strong and enforced
  • People opt-in – they are default opt-out, to get everyone together they have to decide to opt-in 
  • You have to understand that face time and being seen to live and drive the culture change in a turnaround business like Uber (which had to reconstruct its culture) is so important, especially when you feel like you are forcing it 
  • There is a massive difference between management and leadership (leading with vision) – many managers will never be leaders 

Eric Schmidt Culture Lessons & Tips While at Novell & Google 

  • Having the right partners and partnerships is vitally important – it helped to drive $12m in revenue when a tech worker moved into his office (when he was CEO at Google) when Eric wasn’t there much (well worth listening to the story on audio)
  • Learn to understand the existing culture before implementing the change or inviting people to 30-minute meetings without an agenda (people might think they are being fired as that was the culture of non-agenda 30-minute meetings)
  • Hiring the smartest people isn’t enough, you have to guide them and then get out of their way – this is where I often disagree, culture has to be shaped and then ensure it is followed especially by influential people, when they are treated slightly differently when you are either deemed the smartest or best at what you do within the business, no a-hole behaviour should be tolerated. 

One main section that stood out for me was “permission to guide the culture” was something everyone agreed on.  This is my challenge to how to shape company cultures in most organisations whatever size you operate. 

Most of what you have likely heard me say in leaders letters over the last two years has been you have to create the company culture by creating the right environments to help to create the company compass for everyone to follow and ensuring everyone understands how to make the right decisions and act in the right ways to then be rewarded for the right behaviours. 

If you do not pair company culture and company strategy, culture will become a second-class citizen and become an afterthought, then an agenda item that is often deprioritised. In almost every business culture is being ripped apart from people leaving the business, from reducing headcount and making operational efficiencies that many cannot, unfortunately, explain away from a 9-box matrix. 

Often by suggesting you need permission to guide the company it suggests you need permission from everyone to do this, when there is no compass and no rights and wrongs formally outlined, often you have to create these and then adapt as you evolve. Very often the hardest and most challenging decisions by leaders are the people-first decisions and taking that first step to reshape how your business strategy can operate with internal customers (your people) as an essential pillar of your business. 

Listen and read the full transcript: 

Have a great week and allow some of these big companies’ stories to shape how you might be planning a change for the end of this year and into next year.

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Essential Follow On Culture & Leadership Reading

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 124 – 10 Quotes I Often Think About & Use To Motivate & Drive Change

Dear Leaders, this week I am going to introduce to you my favourite quotes I use and think about often. 

These are typically work-related and have been applied in the work setting many times. Often I share in presentations to emphasise a point, to peak interest and to make something land when you need external validation for a big idea or concept. 

“Be strategically patient, tactically impatient.”

— Jeff Bezos

Famous for its ten-year vision and brutal on following the ten-year roadmap this is a great quote for anyone in management.
Read my popular post the Jeff Bezos business lessons

“Being intentional is the ultimate integrity in leadership. It’s stating your values and your intentions clearly, then putting your money where your mouth is”

Fidji Simo Instacart CEO


I wrote leaders letter 61 around this quote and I couldn’t agree more with it 

“Success is a lousy teacher

Bill Gates, Microsoft Founder

Teach those around you that success is a bad leading indicator and keep your eyes open at every turn, resting on your loreals is never a good idea. 

“You can only do so many things great, and you should cast aside everything else.”

— Tim Cook, Apple CEO

Ruthless focus and prioritisation are essential for every leader. 

“I learned always to take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist.”

— Virginia Rometty, former CEO of IBM


I love this as it proves you have to have a growth mindset and drive yourself to evolve. 

“Leadership is hard to define and good leadership even harder. But if you can get people to follow you to the ends of the earth, you are a great leader.”

Indra Nooyi, former CEO of PepsiCo


Absolute truth from one of my silent mentors and someone who drove real business and cultural change at Pepsico. 

“If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”.

Marissa Mayer, Former CEO of Yahoo!


Unfortunately many still believe they are always the smartest and cannot learn from others. Marissa was famous for 100+ hour work weeks but one thing she was great at was rolling out process, bureaucracy and jams framework. If there was a process, a jam or politics in the way come forward on a fix and they’d work on it. 

“When you undervalue what you do, the world will undervalue who you are.”

Oprah


This is something I used with many team members and made them understand by devaluing what they were doing would impact how it was perceived or the influence of their work. 

“The stuff that matters in life is no longer stuff. It’s other people. It’s relationships, it’s experience”

Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO


When work is someone’s identity they often don’t understand why others act and work differently, this is a good quote to help people understand experience and connection are vitally important 

“I promise you, a lot of it is luck. But you make your own luck by working really hard and trying lots and lots of things”.

Kevin Systrom, Instagram Founder.


Instagram was a culture-changing app and saw rapid growth, the acquisition was questioned at the time but is an incredible piece of M&A by meta. The story is a great reminder that if you work hard and have an absolute focus you can change behaviour and build one of the most influential companies of the last twenty years. 

BTW “No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram Book” by Sarah Frier is an incredible read on deliberate the team was to build out their app and build it with habit changes at the heart of every decision. 

What are your favourite quotes to use at work? Comment below and let me know and I’ll share them a future leaders letter. 

Have a great week and remember focus, prioritisation, and self-worth are the most important themes for you to win. 

Go well,
Danny Denhard 

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 123 – Ask The Clarifying Question:

Dear leaders, there is something I learnt a few years ago that has always stuck with me, its a question to ask your team member (or mentee): 

“Do you need advice right now or do you need me to just listen?” 

Why is this important? 

Most people are engineered to get to a solution or an outcome, especially specific personality types, they are built for action. 

As humans we often don’t want solutions, we just want to talk it through. It is how we survived and evolved over time to stay in the tribe.  

I am a solution-driven person, when someone wants to vent to me or a colleague has a problem, my default was and often still is advice first. 

Very often this is a question I ask when someone wants to talk through something. It helps set me up and helps to frame the conversation.

A quick personal story: 

A former team member at most weekly check-ins or when we caught up (Adhoc – some of you remember not having full back-to-backs right) asked “the clarifying question”
– I am going to vent, I don’t need a solution, I want to talk it through and see if I am on the right path. 

These clarifying points were great for us and we would often get to a better place than my default action points and we would arrange check-in points or I’d have actions to get out of the way or where I needed to step in or step up to help them. 

I have recommended guiding department principles and leadership principles, and I would recommend adding this question as a principle. 

Hint: Gaining and providing clarity has to be a key role of a manager or business lead and clarifying questions should be stored and used regularly. Repetition is key! 

Tip – Remove Venting: 

One thing I make sure of is venting actually doesn’t help anyone, it might feel better but unloading can often impact both parties and can suck introverts and ambiverts energy quickly, being able to reframe to a discussion quickly and reduce venting to a discussion will help to preserve energy and make this interaction actionable.

Have a great week and I trust this helps you and your team. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

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Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 122 – My Mentor Process

Dear Leaders, this week I am going to share one of my proud secrets.

My mentor process, whether it is official or unofficial. 

Mentorship for me is one of the most important and responsible work streams I have, mentors have been incredibly important in my personal growth (not just professional) and it is something I feel is a privilege to be a mentor or when someone thanks you for being a mentor, especially when it is unofficial and goes undiscussed. 

Get To Know The Person Then The Professional

With my mentees, I like to get to know them, their motivations and understand how they are looking to evolve their careers. 

Very often many don’t know what they are looking for it needs to be something that is prized out and evolved over time. 

It’s A Gift

I will gift my mentees, with a book I know will help them (audible credits are quite common now) and a notepad, very often it is a ‘nice’ notepad they will write in with pride and want to use.
Believe it or not, it is an investment I feel is essential in building my relationships. Pad and pen connects far more for most people than writing notes, and this comes from a person who has over 5500 apple notes. 

I will ensure mentees tell me the rhythm they would like to follow, if they are routine based and how can we make it fit into both of our routines and then how frequent it will be. 

What You Are, What You’re Not

It is important a mentor is not a therapist and often not a coach, you can coach but you have to understand when you are going to be there to listen or there to guide, very often it is nudging or talking about your experience that will help. 

Remember Mentor Not Coach

Remember a mentor is about softer skills and long-term change often with a deadline, and a coach is about hard goals and skills change by a deadline.
If you are fixing skills and having training sessions you are likely coaching and that is a whole different responsibility you should formally sign up to. 

Shared Toolkit

I offer my templates, often I have shared them here and I push my mentees to try and share the knowledge and positive information they have gained, when I learn something I need to teach it, I find very often those who teach again not only help to make small improvements around them but help to share the dopamine rush you get from winning and co-winning. 

Most often I will receive a message or an email with quick check-ins and points they’d like to run through or the best ones are when you get a hey, I did x and y worked. These messages I keep these in my hype file (the file where I receive thanks, compliments and heartfelt messages) and I will always go back and re-read this when I am not having the best days or weeks. 

Not Everyone Should Mentor 

I am not saying everyone needs a mentor (I do however think you miss out without one or a team of mentors, more mentors more experience = better diverse thinking) and some people won’t want to mentor. What I love to see is when individuals feel like they can become a mentor and invest their time, effort and energy into others, I often say to start internally at your work and then look at your network and people will seek you out. 

The best mentors for me (personally) were the quiet ones, the ones who weren’t shouting on LinkedIn or speaking at every conference but the ones who could make a difference in their jobs and then accidentally stumbled across mentorship. These people take it as an honour and invest heavily in mentorship. 

There are natural ends to mentor relationships, something to keep in mind mentors learn just as much from mentees as they teach so if sessions are reserve, great! 

Have a great week and remember if you can mentor and you feel like you can add value to someone do it, it is so rewarding, if you are looking for a mentor check your network, ask friends for recommendations and importantly take micro-moments to mentor where it feels right. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 121 – Very Simple But Highly Effective Pieces Of Leadership Advice

Dear leaders, there are three themes for what makes leaders letters newsletters popular: 

(1st) The most popular are my free frameworks and templates (from clicks, downloads and replies to leaders letters

(2nd) Company culture advice (often I receive email replies months later suggesting the company culture articles helped a few months later when they can be rolled out or approved)

(3rd) The most important theme from newsletter shares is; snackable leadership advice you can copy and paste.    

Today I wanted to provide a blend of the three and offer extremely simple advice:  

  1. Visible Note Taking: Always have a notepad and pen where you can show you are taking notes and proving you are listening (the more basic the notepad the less you worry about writing in it) 
  2. Lessons You’ve Learnt: Keep a record of 1:2:1’s and the lessons you have learnt from your team and feedback these, this is a great feedback loop and offers ways to show you are listening and offering group development from their peers
  3. Effective Over Convenient: Always communicate on the most effective channels, not just the convenient channel for you (your audiences consumptions has to shape your comms)
  4. Use: Draft – Don’t Send: Draft that reply, draft that long team email then revisit the next morning and work out if you should hit send 
  5. Focus Your Time: Create slots in your calendar that are for you not for others to take away. Your time to focus, recover from poor meetings and planning is essential as a leader 
  6. Hand Write Letters: Write a quarterly letter to the team, hand write it and send it out via email or print and hand/send it out to the team. 
  7. Say Thank You: Manners cost nothing, saying thank you is often enough for people and works more effectively than many other methods  
  8. Ask The Stupid Questions: Very often you have to ask the stupid aka the clarifying questions for everyone involved. Ask them or pose them about the project or department’s success. Many team members won’t ask it. If need be create a template with the stupid question called out at the top 
  9. Two Eyes, Two Ears, One Mouth: Probably the most frustrating thing any manager can do is speak more than listen, especially when performance is down or people are struggling with morale. You have two eyes, two ears and one mouth, follow this
  10. Give, Give, Gain: Teach your team how to present and bring them into leadership meetings to present their area of expertise – give lessons, give opportunities, gain personal development through others 
  11. Seek Reserve Mentors: Enable reserve mentorships with 4-6 skip meetings per month – speak to the team, go two levels “below you” or two around you. Learn from the team, keep you up to date and evolving 

Over To You: Share these tips within your team and management team and help to remove barriers and internal issues.

Have a great week and sign up for the newsletter for this to land in your inbox next week. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

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