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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 100 – 10 Lessons From 100 Leaders’ Letters

Dear leaders, it is the 100th leadership newsletter I am sending out, it is the 100-week streak, where I share lessons on company culture, ideas on leadership and frameworks to help improve your people and performance leadership. 

Today I wanted to share 10 lessons your feedback, questions and requests to collaborate. Here are the ten most popular alongside supporting content to help you make a difference to your career and those around you. 

  1. Leadership is getting harder 
    1. 7 great leadership traits 
    2. 21 leadership lessons
    3. Write your team a handwritten letter
  2. Management is getting harder but getting more rewarding 
    1. Record micro-moments to celebrate as a team
    2. Questions to ask to improve people’s performance 
    3. Three ways to connect with your department
  3. Many leaders were not taught the difference between strategy and tactics 
    1. Strategy is like baking a cake
    2. Strategy cheatsheet
    3. What mission, vision, strategy and tactics actually are
  4. Creating a long term vision is hard 
    1. What is company vision
    2. Why some people have vision and others don’t
    3. The future of business is community 
  5. Hybrid is hard work and many are unprepared 
    1. Hybrid work guide 
    2. Google’s Hybrid Manifesto – its ok manifesto 
    3. How to remove proximity bias (how to beat the managing in person is best)
  6. The great resignation is the great awaking for many middle to senior leaders 
    1. The 3p’s keys to winning business in 2022 and beyond 
    2. The 3 stages of your business, what it was, what it is and what it is going to be 
    3. Have you stepped too far away from your customer’s problems?
    4. Why it is ok to be on the fence for your company
  7. Meetings are taking over 60% of managements time 
    1. 25 proven recommendations to improve meetings 
    2. Would a Bill Gates get away week work for you
    3. Time to audit your calendar
  8. Communication is hard to gain any traction 
    1. Andy Jassy’s communication masterclass
    2. The first and last ten seconds is vital to winning communications
    3. How to kill constant internal noise and gain cut through
  9. Company culture is not given enough of a focus and is only ever an agenda item 
    1. Improve company culture with department principles 
    2. The 4f framework – Feel, Fascinate, Future, Flourish  
    3. Create management pods to connect leaders to company culture
  10. Team management is a struggle, especially in Hybrid or remote-first companies 
  1. Always re-onboard your teams to the office
  2. A simple game to connect with your team
  3. The hand over and hand back process

Have a great week and you can get in contact at any point by emailing me directly. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

BTW I am taking on a limited number of clients, do you need a coach? 

Other great helpful resources 

Be Inspired By Others 

Jeff Bezos’s business lessons 

7 business rules from Elon Musk

Stripe’s communication masterclass

Think Differently 

Time for a performance panel

Annual strategy playbook template

Two up two across framework for career development

Categories
Company Culture Leadership

11 Common But Unspoken Hiring Mistakes 

In recent months, we have seen an increase in hiring mistakes.

Rushing to hire, rushing to counter offer and in many cases hiring the wrong candidate because there is no clear understanding of what you want, what you need and why you are hiring this role for long term success. 

Truth is, very few people are good at hiring for the long term success of their department.

Hiring has been a challenge for many, however, the question should be asked:

Are you setting yourself and your company up to fail with bad processes and bad practices?  

Here are 11 common but unspoken hiring mistakes many are making and it is setting you and your company up to fail. 

Being led by recruiters, not by hiring managers
– are you allowing recruiters to filter CV’s and profiles based solely on one conversation with the hiring manager? It’s important to build that trust and relationship between hiring managers and recruiters before allowing this process to happen.

Asking bad questions leads to bad answers 
– are you and your teams asking bad questions that only promote and accept bad answers? Have you reviewed your interview questions recently and given interview training?

Hiring those that interview the best vs hiring those who will do the best job  
– this has been happening for years, however, it has not been addressed and this is down to lack of time, lack of training and lack of awareness of how people interview vs how people work. Create more working environments vs more interview questions.

Not having a clear understanding of what you need from the role not from the candidate 
– I recently asked ten hiring managers what they are hiring for and their process and 8 of the 10 suggested they just copied and pasted another company’s job description and did not materially change for their workplace, they didn’t have time to consider the goals to make this role successful. The role and the job spec sets you up to succeed or fail. Consider what you need from the role not specifically from that idealistic candidate you have in your mind, consider the goals and the 12-month plan ahead, not just the job spec highlighting what you might want.

Hiring managers coming in too late in the process
–  many hiring processes remove the hiring manager from CV/resume reviews and LinkedIn profile reviews and then miss one to two rounds of interviews before interviewing the candidate directly, this means many hours of wastage and interviewing badly fitted candidates

Too many colleagues in the hiring process 
– hiring is an art form, hiring processes vary greatly, and many now opt to bring in colleagues and teams into rounds of interviews, very often there are too many colleagues involved in the hiring process and is extending the time scales. This is the hardest element to get right, however, ensuring the right colleagues are part of the process and provide good feedback is an essential balance.

Too many interview rounds, especially hybrid recruitment.
– are you hosting too many rounds of interviews? Can you hire in three rounds, not six or seven which is now a common number of rounds of interviews.
Have you learnt how to interview virtually effectively?  

Being too narrow on what a successful candidate looks like and in turn what will make them successful 
– unlike many businesses leads and department heads I believe being ultra-narrow and overly specific in what a successful candidate will look like actually hinders your hiring process and will impact your existing team and bias your hiring. Having an idea of what a successful candidate will look like is great however often when you interview someone and they lead the charge, you can feel empowered to change your view of what a successful candidate is.

Hiring for a team skill gap not for solving the existing and upcoming customer problems 
– there are many reasons why you are hiring; backfill, hiring to demand, hiring to grow your team or reshaping your department. What this is often missing is hiring for the future and most hiring is focused around the current skill gap in the team rather than the customer problems and helping to hire to fix these not just hiring for a digital specialist in your Marketing team as you don’t have an expert. Where some will have to and want headcount here is where freelancers, coaches and agencies can add a lot of value and you can then evolve your department based on customer problems for now and the future.

CV/resume hires, hiring based on brands people worked at. Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple etc
–  the repeated mistake many make is hiring from some of the largest companies in the world. Typically, some in the hope of hiring up (“hiring higher calibre”), some to bring the experience, others in hoping these hires can bring the perceived successful operational frameworks with them or in hope to bring the same level of performance to their own business.
The truth is these companies operate in magnitudes of £$/x’s and 0’s bigger than you and often have numerous others who perform the same role, so in your org, you will have one senior-level Ops lead, in Google they will have a series of Ops leads.
These hires rarely scale well and expect large teams and hiring is rarely an issue in larger businesses, in smaller businesses and startups this just isn’t an option. Operationally too, larger companies have much more status-driven games and long hierarchical battles, these politics will also come into your business and will impact the culture and subculture of your business.

Hiring for cultural fit when you are unaware of what cultural fit is at your company 
– the unspoken hiring mistake is suggesting you are hiring for cultural fit when you do not have a culture defined or understand what culture is within your business. Cultural fit is often referred to by mistake as skills or “observed” ability. These misunderstandings will cause numerous headaches when looking for the right fit or explaining what cultural fit is within your department (subculture) and cultural fit within the business. If a candidate asks what cultural fit you are looking for and you cannot answer it in one to two sentences, you likely do not have your culture defined or cultural fit written down, agreed upon and shared throughout your business.

Not having a clear view (roadmap) and a potential 3-year plan for the role
– the topic I speak on most with hiring when asked to support hiring mid to senior-level roles. Thinking through and supplying a career roadmap for this role is essential for all roles, particularly those looking to join you and who need to map out their career. Most outstanding mid to exec level candidates have a plan and a long term roadmap they are building on top of.

Very often long term success of the role is considered at numbers levels and then potentially job titles are considered, however, what the next two to three steps are and what the two up two across matrix is for this specific person. Yes, often this has to be considered when probation is based and you have an understanding of their performance, however, to give you a competitive advantage when you interview you should be interviewing for the next three steps for this role and within the business and evolving with each catch-up and 1:2:1.

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 97 – Your Infected Moat Is An Internal Disease

Dear Leaders, Over the last decade, a moat (business moat / economic moat) is what every business has been searching for and attempting to build. Believe it or not, it is a lot harder than most executives think. 

“A company's moat refers to its ability to maintain the competitive advantages that are expected to help it fend off competition and maintain profitability into the future.” - Source

As someone who has been an operator on the Product, Marketing and Growth sides, I have heard and used moat hundreds of times. 

In a recent coffee catch up, a couple of industry friends and I discussed an important area that goes unspoken, and what I dubbed “the infected moat”.

When the believed competitive advantage blinds your company-wide strategy, it infects your internal messaging and affects your company so much it starts to hinder the business performance and your company culture

Misleading and blinding your people is one of the most damaging aspects of company culture and can cause decay to the foundation of the business. 

You stop building, you rely on optimising the final steps of the funnel and you reduce your budgets and hiring based on infected beliefs and data. 

One of the most common infected moats is believing you have network size or quality of data which means you have the best product in the market. 

You rely too heavily on your data, you rely too heavily on the algorithms and you become a Blackberry (vs Apple), Yahoo (vs Google) and most recently an Instagram (vs TikTok).  

This comes down to the management of the company, the misunderstanding of the influence of the brand, the power of the product and the state of the market or a blind obsession with competitors versus being informed by your customers and competitors. 

Something I recommended is to audit your business, audit your product, audit your marketing, audit your growth activities and go deeper than reviewing just top-level insights and competitors’ actions. 

Don’t allow your moat to become infected, impact your people and performance and don’t develop a blind spot that is of your own doing. 

This week focus on reviewing your moat, auditing it and planning to evolve. 

Thanks and have a great week,

Danny Denhard

Essential Strategy Reading

Categories
Leadership Strategy

Can the Stripe community letter create guidance for you and your company?

Stripe released a brilliant and smart seven-page letter for their community, it was an update on the company, what they drove In 2021 and where their next steps are and where they see opportunity. 

At first glance, you can tell this has taken a number of iterations but the most impressive element of the letter is how detailed and directive it is, not just for Stripe (taking a leaf from Bob Iger’s book: lead from press release), its partners and those wanting to be in the fintech community but for the industry as a whole. 

A letter is a format I have written about before, the letter of writing a letter is personal, intentional and provides a map for those who struggle to see a vision through presentations and videos. 

Everyone can create a presentation or a deck with aesthetically pleasing graphs and numerous words but a letter is a statement of intent, a way to appeal to many without death by PowerPoint and donning their caps to the likes of Jeff Bezos who mastered the art of the shareholder letter and Warren Buffett’s excellent shareholder letters, read the four giants section from 2021 letter

What can you take inspiration from for your letter? 

Impact

A brief look back at what you achieved, the product solutions shipped with mentions of partners you are proud of and the impact you’re having. 

Stripe 2022 shareholder letter

Direction

Setting clear product and industry direction is vital for any letter, internal or external. Stripe sets a direction for the industry who have built on its piping and for those wanting to grow moving forward.

Reduce the fears

Cybersecurity and hacking are areas many have unfortunately experienced issues in and are a fear every online business has. Acknowledging the problem and highlighting how you are working on this briefly shows you know your customer and offer peace of mind for your partners. 

Show you understand the future

The creator economy is something many businesses are desperately attempting to be part of and Stripe is part of the foundational layer, be inspired by how they reference and show their part of the largest subscription shift in history. 

Ability to focus

Despite being one of the only companies in the world that can be the partner, the piping and the platform, Stripe has an ability to connect the dots like very few and focus their community on their two core business sides the consumer and the businesses playing their space. The way they word their letter is something to analyse and implement in your writings. 

Reference what people know

Unlike many, the Collison brothers are self-aware and reference what others know and discuss and are an important anchor point for many other founders and leaders to leverage. Turn a perceived negative into a positive. 

Stripes mission

Mission

Stripe’s mission is to grow the GDP of the internet. That means both helping existing economic activity migrate to the internet an$ enabling completely new undertakings that couldn’t exist in an offline world.” Stripe’s mission is aligned with business growth and making everyone successful, if you are a marketplace or offer products with solutions for the customer this is something you will want to borrow and drive people towards. 

Moving forward be inspired to get into a room or shared document and write your thoughts, reference the past, highlight the future and showcase your work while celebrating other successes. If you cannot show your mission and vision know you are going to be looking in the rear mirror and the likelihood is you will struggle to bring the company and potential partners into the future with you. 

The TLDR: Inspire the internal and external customer by writing a brilliant letter showcasing your achievements, your past and the provide a bright future for you and your ecosystem.

Read the full letter below

Read other essential leadership lessons

The-focus-corporate-buzzword-bingo-card-2022
Read the buzzword bingo card
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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 96 – Remove Constant Content & Content Noise!

Dear leaders, are you an inbox zero or 100s of unread notifications person? 

It appears we fall into these two camps, the one common theme is the constant stream of noise, notifications and content. 

With the constant noise and demand for our attention, how do you cut through with essential information? 

Many businesses have adopted more = better. 

More slacks, more calls, more meetings, more decks, more…more…more. 

A quick why: I believe this has happened:
(1) the chat-ification of work happened and we have been conditioned to message more and
(2) we are hit with more noise and more notifications as we live in a feeds driven world and we believe what most companies and departments are doing – sending more. 

More doesn’t mean better. 

More comms is more noise and means your message won’t land. 

Like the person in meetings who just talks without saying anything and constantly has to add their opinion, not their feedback. 

Let’s commit, to being better, not more. 

Focus on sending better communications, get everyone together and has rules on what is important communications, where you send them and what communications you will have to read. 

Gone are the days every email is read from the big boss, from your own boss and not every important document with essential information is read, therefore, create a process that everyone understands. 

Deliver the most important message with fewer comms, not more. 

Use a blend of storytelling techniques; audio, video and written numbers to hit the right message. 

Ask for confirmation of reading/viewing and ask for feedback, not opinion. 

In the very near future, less is more. Especially in the world where asynchronous work and hybrid work are what many demands and few are really delivering. 

This week commit to communicating more effectively, improving performance and culture by improving your internal communication.

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Be inspired by the stripe letter

Essential Reads This Week

Cultural Reads

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 95 – Time For A Performance Panel

Good morning leaders, a quick pondering for you today. 

After speaking at a conference pre-pandemic, I was asked if I could join a panel discussion around how to improve business performance. My “role” was from a Growth perspective as there was already a CEO and a COO on the panel and the original panellist couldn’t make the event. 

A theme of questions arose from the attendees, what do you do to improve performance or receive fresh ideas and perspectives when performance maybe stagnates. 

The others on the panel provided good answers and offered ways to trust internal staff and double down on what got them there. 

I recommended something different.

A performance panel

The panel is not too dissimilar to what you likely have internally, a group of people who analyse and discuss performance, review the data and make recommendations on the next set of actions. 

My difference, you introduce formal external advisors to your panel. 

Why? 

  • Not stuck to doing it way its always done 
  • Not restricted by knowing details of the roadmap constraints
  • Help with getting out of the weeds 
  • External intel, often knowing what others are struggling with and if there are changes your internal team are unfamiliar with 
  • Less panic = less stress. Calmer environment to review and attack potential issues 
  • New ideas – fresh approaches often help 
  • If you are a department lead you spend too much fighting on behalf of your team, external assistance and expertise will greatly help support or guide 

This can work across the board, it can work from adding Operations, Marketing, Growth, Product, Technical, HR and company culture representatives.  

You will have to onboard the panellists, you will have to brief them well and allow access, the formal agreements can work like non-executive directors and can be formalised to a few days per month. 

For the existing department leads, ensure they are prepared to share insights, they are comfortable in asking for help, curious about what is recommended, and take some time to build the connection and trust, this will be key when they look to roll out the recommendations of your panellists. 

This week consider how you could improve not only performance when there is a dip but company-wide performance when there are opportunities to grow, hire smarter and develop departmental plans and your company-wide strategy with external advisors. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Categories
Strategy

The Mission, Vision, 5x Principles, Strategy, Departmental Plans, Tactics Cheatsheet  

The one word that confuses so many companies is strategy, what strategy is and is not and who sets strategy, plans and tactics.

In one of the most popular and most shared leaders newsletter, WTF is strategy we shared how you build strategy, simply: you have one company-wide strategy, departmental plans rolling up into the strategy and then tactical layers underneath.

Simple right?

Well, it should be, however, with so many demands to have longer plans and missions to complete, here is a free breakdown and cheatsheet to build the right framework for your company’s strategy journey.

The Mission, Vision, 5x Principles, Strategy, Departmental Plans, Tactics Cheatsheet  

Mission

The incompletable mission your company is on. The biggest of achievements.

Missions can be revisited every five to ten years or in big times of world change.
Set by leadership (founder + board)

Vision

The ten-year vision for the company, vision is what you will strive to become.

Vision is to be revisited every 3 years. 
Set by leadership and supporting panel

5x Principles

The guiding principles to make decisions. If there is confusion or your strategy is going off course, your principles make decisions easier and guide you into the vision and the mission.

These principles should be re-visited each year but stay the majority the same to keep the company on track
Set by leadership and supporting panel

Annual Strategy

The annual company-wide strategy, the things you are going to do and the things you definitely will not be doing. It should fit on one page and everyone in the business should be able to tell you what it is and what success looks like.

The annual strategy should be re-visited but rarely ever change significantly.
Set by leadership

Departmental Plan

No company should have departmental strategies, your department plans have to roll into the annual strategy. Your plans have to be cross-functional and understand the overlap and how you work together with other departments to make the company successful. If there are no cross-functional elements to part of the plan, you have to revisit.

Departmental plans can evolve and change but when they do it has to be known across the business.
Revisit the plans every month, these unlikely should significantly change quarterly
Set by the department (lead+) and their panel    

Tactics

These are the number of activities you will take, including the channels and the levers the teams are going to pull to roll up into the plan, that rolls up into the annual company-wide strategy.

Tactics can change regularly, fortnightly/bi-weekly to quarterly. The more you change, the more you will struggle to keep everyone updated and believe in long terms plans.
Set by tactical discipline team

Supporting Resources

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 90 – 3 Out Of The Box Ideas To Create Team Connection

Dear leaders, I trust you have had a good and productive week. 

This week I am going to offer three ideas for you to consider. 

Why? I am often creating ideas for others to implement, my iMessage and WhatsApp is often pinged with someone asking for a framework or idea or new concept to try out. 

Over the last few months I have offered three or four ideas for friends and business owners to try out, so I thought I would share those with you. 

Podcast Clubs 

You have heard of book clubs and film clubs, this is podcast club, I have actually seen this work and it really helps people form a connection, in and out of work. 

It is important to find a podcast you connect with the host and theme and discuss the episode together. Some approach it like a listening party, so all listen together, others use time like a book club do to listen separately and then come together to discuss. 

Importantly, works in person, remotely and hybrid

Story-based podcasts work best, I would recommend masters of scale if you are in tech. 

Team Wordles

Wordle became a phenomenon and is an activity some tend to do alone, one company I recommend this to actually tackled it together, it made one activity every morning something to collaborate on and work through together. It becomes a competition and one to bury the rivalry.
TriviaHQ was another app that was something I remember a previous team loved playing together and made 15.00 their time and importantly time they blocked out and stopped everything for. It was a joy to see them collaborate, laugh and create together. 

This idea also works in person, remotely and hybrid. 

Rock Paper Scissors

A few years ago I ran a workshop with a great brand, there was an issue, many of the team who attended the workshop didn’t know each other and had never really worked as a unit. 

It was a group that should have collaborated but the company were not set in the way to enable this. At the start of each session, we would have different objectives to hit and teams would swap over. 

At the beginning of each session, I would make the teams play a quickfire Rock Paper Scissors and the winner would be the leader of the group.
One factor of this day of workshops: All decisions had to be agreed upon before they moved forward. 

If a decision couldn’t be agreed upon, we would then make them play Rock Paper Scissors to get to the answer. It would show competitiveness but also it created a glue between them. You will be surprised by how a quick game will connect people, personalities shine through in games, you learn a lot quicker through games and stories. 

This idea also works in person, remotely and hybrid, just be careful of lag times and cheaters.

FWIW these ideas can help with teamwork, company culture and with tactical enhancements, but can also show the competitive natures, the cheaters (the win at all cost team members) and can identify those who just aren’t podcast fans.

This week why not consider using these or tweaking to work within your business. 

Thanks for reading and have a great week. 

Danny Denhard

Book me to improve your company culture today


Be Inspired About The Future Of Work

The Future Of Work

The Work Metaverse

Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Briony Gunson 🧘‍♀️ – Focus Podcast With Danny Denhard Fixing The Broken World Of Work Podcast

This episodes guest Briony Gunson (https://brionygunson.com/) is a business + mindset coach, meditation teacher + trauma-informed breathwork trainer, Briony helps individuals and businesses to improve.  Follow Briony across social – LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube.  The Links:  Briony's Introduction Video On YouTube Podcast: Aubrey Marcus – not about the world of work but psychology, spirituality, human potential + behaviour Book: Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art  by James Nestor Newsletter: Brain pickings AKA The Marginalian has a free Sunday digest of the week’s most mind-broadening and hear Sign up to Briony's Friday Feels newsletter: https://bit.ly/3AiEOv9 – Briony archives them on her blog.  Listen to Briony's guided meditations on Insight Timer, e.g. this is a popular one: https://insighttimer.com/brionyg/guided-meditations/letting-go-meditation-12-minutes Briony also recommended Kirsty Hulse's work (Kirsty is great and gets my co-approval) Briony takes us on a journey of: Mental health and why it is so important to be aware of How mental health is evolving How your mental health can help to transform physical health Why early morning open-air swims have been so important Therapy and therapists role in peoples lives Why breathwork is so important Why our bodies are driven by our breath and controlling our breath Why Yoga is vital to so many of us Personal development starts with you Everyone is facing similar challenges – it's how you find the best course of action Why retreats are going to so popular and a necessary part of life and work You are the expert of yourself – why starting to listen to yourself and your body is so important
  1. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Briony Gunson 🧘‍♀️ – Focus Podcast With Danny Denhard
  2. Fixing the broken world of work podcast with Colin Newlyn 🏴‍☠️
  3. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Peter Hopwood
  4. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Andy Reid
  5. Fixing The Broken World Of Work With Jo Twiselton
Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 86 – What Does 2027 Look Like In Your Business?

Dear Leaders, I have a pondering for you this week.

Picture this, it’s January 2025 and you are planning for the next 18 months for your business. 

Will 2027 look very different or will it look like a tweaked version of today.
For many, it will look a slightly different version of today. 

Is this good or bad, I will let you decide…

Journey: You have survived everything 2022 threw at you, you and your business started to progress in 2023 and in 2024 you saw good growth rates and the full-time shift hybrid work feels like the best move for your business in the last five years.

Vision: This is how many of the biggest and most successful businesses operate.
They scenario plan, they are meticulous in detail and they have a vision they set out and sculpt the company towards.  

They are built for the long term, they have the next three years designed in their playbook and they have teams operating on three-year cycles. 

And yes, they will be re-forecasting and revisiting department budgets and realigning depending on some of the nuances happening. 

Questions To Answer:

  • What do 2026 and 2027 look like after this picture is painted for you? 
  • How are you going to plan the next 5 years? 
  • How are you going to design the next 3 years to put performance (strategy) and people (company culture) first? 
  • What is your focus metric? (The metric that focuses all other metrics in your business)
  • What are your beliefs and what are your strategic bets
  • Do you have this skill set within your business?
    Is there a future seer you need to bring onto the planning cycles and help you to shape and rethink how you see three to five years ahead?
  • How are you going to keep the teams engaged and stop them from hitting the unfollow button on the company and leadership teams?

Remember my framework:
– 💭 Think 5 years ahead,
– 🗺 Plan 3 years ahead,
-🚦 Action 1-year head.

That way you will have the right plan and focus metric, which you can review and tweak regularly rather than constantly changing in annual planning cycles and in long-range planning sessions don’t seem like a huge waste of time and resources. 

This week:

  • Consider how you are going to optimise your processes,
  • How you are going to shape your business for your company culture (your people),
  • How you will shape your product,
  • How you will shape your external messaging
  • And how you optimise your performance.

With 2022 likely going to be more seasonal again and operate closer to prior years, think ultra long term and book time with your leadership team to create a culture of growth mindsets, focusing on the long term while making changes more frequently and allowing this behaviour to positively influence your business. 

Have a great week and whatever department you are in have 2027 in mind for your decisions, however hard and impossible it may seem.

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Categories
Leadership

The Seven Greatest Leadership Traits 

The Seven Best Leadership Traits From Leaders Throughout My Career

This is the 21st year of my career and I have worked across the full spectrum of business. 

From running two of my own consultancies, tiny three-person businesses, family-run businesses with multiple interests, startups at different phases from post sell through to IPO and seeing the exec team ring the opening bell, through to working in M&A and acquiring other businesses and integrating them into the organisation, and I have worked within large listed businesses that operate so differently to all of the other business.

I wanted to share the best leadership traits and lessons from my experience. 

Time Management ⏰ – Ruthless prioritisation over time blocking, time management and being able to remove time as a barrier or being able to move projects and campaigns on with managing time. 

Those in back to back meetings and not owning their calendars often struggle with other core leadership traits. 

Knowledge Retention 🧠 – The best execs and leaders work at an incredible pace and retain important pieces of information alongside deadlines as if it is the only piece of information provided to them that day. Being able to handle and remember important points per project to keep colleagues accountable. 

Very often driving a project forward with the information provided and understanding so well they can discuss at many different levels. 

Knowledge retention helps with time management and communication. There is a correlation between those who retain knowledge and keep their own notes. 

Communication 🗣 – From handling how to communicate clearly in every situation especially when in writing and in person, to having objectives around each interaction. Poor leaders are bad at communicating and putting across their vision to teams. The highest 1% of leaders work hard on communication and continuously improve their communication skills. 

Communication is very often the difference between those who buy into the leadership and those who don’t. 

Objectives & Interactions 🥅 –  Something that stood out from one incredible COO of a listed company was their ability to understand and retain information from many different technical departments and she was able to create clear objectives and interact with numerous stakeholders. This particular COO learnt from every interaction to big moments in QBR’s.  

Many exes struggle with interacting with those they do not work with regularly, the best have a great way of talking to anyone from any level and create objectives from these conversations. 

Objectives are often the best method leaders have to keep their people accountable and drive interactions. 

Organisation Design 🕸 – Org design is often the most challenging for startups and upstarts, building out the organisation and hiring the right people to develop these departments challenges even the most experienced and often is the difference between short and mid-term success. Don’t hire and build an org on a pain point or skills pain point, build around sets of problems. 

Org design is often seen as a way to build more hierarchy and grow (or reduce) headcount but also is a way for leaders to reshape trust, organisational health, culture and develop people in the business and those around them. 

Cutting Through BS 🔪-  Even the best leaders within businesses are often so busy they struggle to manage direct reports and cut through BS especially with long term colleagues. The elite leaders can cut through excuses, misdirections and very often drive change by cutting through others BS, particularly underperforming department leads. The elite also from experience drives change, from not accepting weak and vague answers. This often results in loyalty not being rewarded but change and growth being rewarded instead. 

Being able to cut through BS at any level is essential, if your BS radar does not improve with experience you are likely not learning lessons or losing important political intelligence battles around you.  

Long Term Vision 👩‍💼 – The very best leaders show they understand where the business is going, how their industry will change and be focused on the long term, they ensure departments action 1 year ahead, they plan 3 years ahead and plan for the 5 pending years. They are almost unwavering in the vision and allow others to build into the vision while trusting those around them and beneath them to plan and deliver the plan.   

Without a focus on long term vision and being in the driving seat, often executives, founders and co-founders lose their influence and can often misalign the departments. 

Learn From Successful CEO’s

Learn From Jeff Bezos

Learn From Elon Musk