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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 199 – Scoring To Win

Dear leaders, have you ever sat in a meeting and stagnated, whether that’s with your team, in middle management or at the senior executive level?

The one way most likely way to move forward for most is parking it and revisiting it. That’s long, frustrating and slows down decision-making. 

Others like to grind it out and then meeting recovery syndrome is brutal and sends shock waves through businesses. 

I prefer scores…

I have a sports background, I played almost every sport I could, I played basketball, tennis, soccer, cricket and even lost a few fights in Muay Thai as a kid. 

Scoring Systems

  • Almost all of these sports have dedicated scoring systems for each version, even when playing soccer with friends you create a score or ongoing system to know who wins and loses.
  • Martial arts are great at scoring, as you know the quality of your opponent by the belt they wear, they are graded and scored regularly. 
  • In MMA (UFC) and boxing they both use scorecards, both disciplines have versions of the same scores but they are private until the end of the fight. Who wins is based on the judges’ scorecards – this is always hotly contested when it is close but a winner comes out of it and has their hands raised at the end.
  • Cricket is a sport where you track every single ball, you have it logged and basically you could understand the momentum shifts, from a bowler losing confidence to a batman hitting their first boundary (like a home run in baseball) and then it’s up to them to concentrate and continue scoring. 

Momentum, Mindset, Winners Mentality 

In tennis, it’s easy to know who is winning, by the game, by the set and by the match. 

My brother and I would basically play until we were too tired to ride back home, but my brother is ultra-competitive and always wants to win, especially when I would go up a set and he would typically come back. 

He was always the better player (pains me to say) but momentum in sports is a huge thing and when I had true momentum I would out-battle his quality advantage and beat him. 

Momentum: This is the same in business. Momentum often swings and beats the incumbent without them noticing and without having a scoring system away from metrics and how they are progressing towards their Northstar metric. 

Winner Mentality: Some of the greatest ever tennis players are naturally gifted and super athletic but the top 1% of the 1% is down to their mindset and having the winner mentality. 

In business solo players like this can struggle to influence enough people to have the same elite winners mentality. 

Scoring To Win

Something you will notice is the importance of winning and the importance of keeping score.  

If you are not keeping a record of the score, how do you know how you are doing? 

Scores in business are often the run rate, the costs or the flow of the business. 

Often we ignore scoring our campaigns, our people and our product performance until layoffs or 9-box exercises are given to us. This is then a hard job and when you need to explain decisions it can be extremely difficult to explain something others understand and accept. 

This is where many businesses can make better decisions by applying scoring and having a scoring system that allows everyone to know the metrics and the guidelines for success.

Audit Scoring 

I always encourage all product teams to audit and audit aggressively. 

By scoring and using an open-to-for-all scorecard. I created a scoring system to apply across the user journey to know where to work and what is going to have to be improved to keep customers happy and remove product decay. 

Do you formally audit and keep score? If not, why not? 

The Exec Netflix Score

At Netflix, they created a scoring system -10 to +10 on big business decisions, this came after their very early call to switch business models to go super early on streaming when a large percentage of customers were DVD only (the famous Qwikster business). 

This is a recent quote from Reed Hastings the co-founder of Netflix from the Tim Ferriss podcast that I love: 

Listen to the full podcast below

My important question for you today is – Do you have your own scoring system? 

This week’s focus action is – Can you make smart decisions by asking your team to score and score regularly? Not like eNPS or other metrics that are too situational.  

Remember: 

  • The best managers energise their teams by person-to-person management and ensuring they have a personalised target that energises them towards success. Everyone is engineered differently, the best managers know this and can press that button. 
  • Whereas, the best leaders can inspire teams of people when the chips are down with a rally cry, or a great way to re-think to move forward or they unlock a way to score others just haven’t seen.

Will a scoring system be that for you? 

Have a great week ahead!

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 198 – Who Do You Serve & What’s The Prioritisation?

Dear leaders, who do you serve? 

And in what order do you serve them?

I remember an all-hands I attended and the EVP stood up and read from a very simple slide:

“We serve the shareholders first, then customers second and then the staff” 

It stuck with me, I was in a follow-up meeting and the same priorities were repeated, followed by:  

“We have to remember who we are serving”.

Whenever I brought this up with leadership colleagues they failed to remember this, not just because we were clearly saying we serve two other layers of the business before the staff but because it was quite subtle, despite the slide being clear for all to consume. 

This prioritisation isn’t uncommon but isn’t spoken enough in businesses.

Survive — Thrive 

Survive: As a business when you are trying to survive you do everything you can with conversion rate optimisation (CRO), take rate (if you have a checkout) and inside of the CFO’s spreadsheet including its complex formulas to drive the most value for the shareholders (or for the owners).  

Thrive: When you are thriving you do the same, however, you do have the luxury to add more value through your product or pricing to make it more equal, and the customers tend to get a slightly better value exchange.

CVO aka Customer value optimisation was a trendy phrase towards the end of last year and at the beginning of this, it’s essentially how you get the most amount of value from your customer, increasing subscription prices, creating surge (demand-based) pricing or reducing down the basic packages to drive upgrades. 

Some brands will use shrinkflation (making items smaller) to drive up efficiency. 

Rightly or wrongly – all of this is business first and as a business performance is paramount.

Netflix Competing Priorities

Netflix has been doing this for the last few years and it’s worked wonders for their share price but not necessarily for their customers. 

Netflix is even trying to remove the basic entry-level package and recommending downgrading the user experience (yes making it a worse experience) to fulfil their advertiser numbers – adding ads for £3 less per month. This tactic has proven price elasticity studies lower quality tariffs improve subscriptions numbers.

Advertising is a way these platforms make more money, paying a high subscription to move away from ads was the way streaming enabled customers to move away from the burden of ads and cheap/low-quality content. 

Netflix is now TV (adding live content like sports into your schedule) without it calling itself TV now. 

Is this smart? Or is this market dominance pushing for more that may lead to less for consumers? 

Managing Expectations & Packaging Prioritises + Problems

Having led Product teams, a startup within a company, big company changing pricing projects and helping subscription businesses to switch their business models, the common theme is putting the business first and constantly trading what you can do for your customers, your external customers through product improvements and your internal customers (staff) by helping them manage workloads and managing their expectations on the tradeoffs. 

It’s now Q2 and most businesses start to find out where they are and what they need to do to improve the business or push harder on what’s working. 

Enter Answer Engine Vs Search Engine 

I am a user of perplexity answer engine, it’s not replaced Google completely for me but it has replaced the need to refine my searches for the right answer. 

In a recent podcast (embedded below – start at 13:45 “The Importance of Aligning Shareholder and User Interests” if prefer the audio-only experience) their CEO Aravind Srinivas calls out why Google isn’t incentivised to always offer the best answers and why their business model isn’t geared towards their customers. 

This Google example is a great example of how businesses set out on a mission and then when successful, they diversify. 

Once this shifts you then serve different stakeholders in different orders. 

Google was released in August 1996 and then went public in 2004. = Shareholders had to come first. 

>> I have an upcoming post breaking down the evolution of search engines and what we will see in the near future with “engines” and why Google’s business model is under intense threat. Teaser below 

This week’s focus action is to: Consider the prioritisation of your business and associated priorities. If you are a smaller business how can you look to serve your customers first and improve your service to a point that they will continue to use you and keep recommending your product or services. 

Thanks and have a great week, 

Danny Denhard 

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 197 – Ask Me Anything Part 2

Dear leaders, this week I am going to answer a few follow-up questions I received this week. Thank you for your thoughtful questions and those who fed back – thank you!

The leadership questions I cover this week to help you include helping with: 

  • You or your colleagues to re-think where they think they are in their careers 
  • Quick wins for leaders wanting to improve their leadership skills 
  • Address challenges within companies 
  • How to build your executive edge (not just your ‘exec presence’)
  • How to reboot your career 
  • You to learn from hard lessons in my career 

Sharing Is Caring: Copy and paste this URL https://focus.business/blog/197 to help a colleague or team member who will benefit from this advice

» If you missed my AMA Part 1 read today 


What are 5 of the hardest lessons you have had to learn from in your career? 

  1. Leaving a workplace can be like a breakup with a long-term partner, everyone has that one former workplace, you can grieve, you will receive some unconstructive feedback, someone will always have something to say about you after you leave, you will receive some nasty comments and you will lose some “friends” in the process. If you feel this could be a case get some help through therapy, this will become more and more common in years to come. 
  2. Words and actions are often so disconnected you have to learn to dissect the words from the actions and drive the change yourself. 
  3. Colleagues will decide between professional friendships and their salary, salary almost always comes first and don’t be surprised. 
  4. A bad manager will put your career backwards if you are under them for six months – they’ll put you back a year. I have had two or three terrible managers and thankfully I learnt to get out in under six months. I thankfully had great people around me to guide me into a move for my mental health. 
  5. A company on the up is great to work in generally, a company on the way down (especially being hidden) can be an impossible company to operate in and personal development is limited

Bonus: However much you look out for your team members, department heads or senior colleagues you won’t be seen as doing enough for everyone


Are there any quick wins for leaders to get better at leadership? 

  • Learn how to present well, from creating a deck (or editing a deck) to presenting with confidence away from reading it word for word, slide by slide  
  • Learn storytelling basics and principles – capture attention and imagination, the more you compellingly tell the story and garner engagement the sooner you will improve as a leader  
  • Hard decisions have to be made – put yourself in a place where you can make hard decisions and know whether this is a quick or long process 

What are the biggest challenges companies are currently facing today, and how do you recommend the company addresses these?

  • Profitability and efficiency targets – hard for most employees to impact directly and have very little visibility. Show staff members how they can move the needle and be more open around performance and ownership. Move away from the spreadsheet view, it’s terrible for storytelling and connecting people to performance  
  • Culture – companies are dealing with social networks dividing people, political unrest and political opinions are being shared more loudly and many feel they have to have a side or pick a side. Aligning any of this and attempting to drive a positive work environment while building a culture around performance is particularly challenging. Unfortunately, I don’t have all of the answers on this one, what I do recommend is creating guidelines around topics for discussion within the work environment. Coinbase and 37Signals (Basecamp) were called out by recommending this at the time (and didn’t execute it well) but there are some valid points in helping to reduce external factors impacting the workspace 
  • Keeping staff happy – while losing colleagues and having to pick up their work. This is common until the headcount is replaced in the old normal but in today’s business landscape, this just isn’t going to happen. This needs leadership to step up, help readjust priorities and remove roadblockers 
  • Hard economy – for many it is tough and it’s hitting them harder than expected, while some big companies are cutting back on perks and some smaller firms are asking staff to return to the office, travel, food and drink prices increased. There is no fix here but there are ways companies can support their staff, help with travel or proactively help with reducing high prices. 

What are the best methods of career progression when you feel your career has stalled? 

  • Go and interview, get the experience back under your belt and understand your worth 
  • Build your own personal development plan – take control, write out the areas you have to improve, you want to improve and the areas you have always wanted to go into and set milestones. One follow-up recommendation: partner up with someone who will keep you accountable – this way you aren’t attempting to do too much and not celebrate the progress 
  • Get more experience – if that means helping other companies, helping a startup, or creating a side hustle you need broader experiences to help restart how you think and how you view your current situation 
  • Start learning again – most people in their career stop learning and stagnate, whether you are a specialist or a generalist you should be able to learn quickly. Reading a recommended book, listening to podcasts, downloading workbooks, signing up for a cohort course, and watching lectures on YouTube are all low-cost ways to learn and ways your company will pay for your development 
  • Write a professional SWOT and highlight where you need to improve and where you have the opportunity to drive your career or gain help driving it forward 
  • Get a mentor – someone who you look up to or people who will share their experiences and help put you first not just tell you how they did things 
  • Get a coach – this is biased advice however a great coach will help improve your skills, help to boost your own confidence and shape your near and long-term future. The best coach won’t just push you, they’ll help to reshape your ‘now, next and future’.  

I have read you need an edge as a leader, what do you recommend?

  • Be known for something important (not just your title) 
  • Be relatable and approachable (this goes a long way with the layers below you)
    Or be unavailable (time-constricted people’s time seems more valuable – don’t be the exec who celebrates with a busy badge of honour) 
  • Operate well under stress – if not you will struggle to drive positive change and the higher you go the more stressful it can become 
  • Be additive not defensive – add more than you create slowdown or stoppers 
  • Have a catchphrase or a look that sticks in people’s minds – this should reflect you authentically but it can also be crafted 

This week’s focus action is to create a list of actions to help you and your leadership development and the steps you will take moving forward and then help your team members create their own plan.

Have a great week and remember to sign up to the newsletter below

Danny Denhard

  • Leaders Letter 199 – Scoring To Win

    Leaders Letter 199 – Scoring To Win

    Dear leaders, have you ever sat in a meeting and stagnated, whether that’s with your team, in middle management or at the senior executive level? The one way most likely way to move forward for most is parking it and revisiting it. That’s long, frustrating and slows down decision-making.  Others like to grind it out and…


  • Leaders Letter 198 – Who Do You Serve & What’s The Prioritisation?

    Leaders Letter 198 – Who Do You Serve & What’s The Prioritisation?

    Dear leaders, who do you serve?  And in what order do you serve them? I remember an all-hands I attended and the EVP stood up and read from a very simple slide: “We serve the shareholders first, then customers second and then the staff”  It stuck with me, I was in a follow-up meeting and…


  • Leaders Letter 197 – Ask Me Anything Part 2

    Leaders Letter 197 – Ask Me Anything Part 2

    Dear leaders, this week I am going to answer a few follow-up questions I received this week. Thank you for your thoughtful questions and those who fed back – thank you! The leadership questions I cover this week to help you include helping with:  Sharing Is Caring: Copy and paste this URL https://focus.business/blog/197 to help a colleague…


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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 192 – How You Will Know You Are On Thin Ice As The Leader

Dear leaders, I have recently written a number of leaders letters that you have told me have resonated with you, from: 

Today’s leadership newsletter will make you take the time to analyse and your improve leadership skills. 

It makes my day when I receive feedback on the newsletters, I will always invite replies to my newsletters, to discuss the topic, and see where you have rolled something out or where you might be struggling and need a quick pointer. 

Since the turn of the year, there has been a theme of replies and they can be bucketed as:   

How Do I Know If I’m On Thin Ice As A Leader? 

Although each environment is slightly different; there are common themes that come up and there should be a series of warning signs you’ll spot or worryingly you could be blind to. 

From experiences here is a breakdown of the standard signs:  

  • Performance
    • Poor company performance 
    • Poor performance from direct reports
    • Bad decisions or poorly timed decisions leads to poor performance 
  • Communications
    • Waiting for everyone else to catch you up on the important updates
    • When you are days behind in communications (email, slack etc) and it impacts how the business operates 
  • Offbeat
    • When you are not in the same rhythm as the company
    • When decisions drive larger heartbeats jumps and is like a shock wave through the business   
  • Stagnation
    • Status quo from your team (if department lead) 
    • Projects and product(s) stagnate from decisions or lack of clarity 
  • Trust
    • Lack of trust among your colleagues 
    • Being uninvited / removed from meetings 
  • Feedback
    • More feedback from colleagues 
    • No feedback from colleagues and direct reports 
  • Discipline
    • HR issues and common HR issues 
    • Team members misbehave as they have seen others being rewarded for these behaviours in previous promotions 
  • Crisis Mode
    • Everything seems to be the highest stake meeting 
    • Everything is urgent or a crisis 

Leaders Duty

There is often a blend of the eight themes above, most often leaders are undone by their miscommunication and the lack of clarity and repetition of their important decisions. It is the Leadership Team’s duty to address the misfiring of the teams below them and build trust between internal customers and external customers constantly. 

Leadership IS

Leadership is incredibly challenging, and making the right and smart long-term decisions comes under the microscope of the business frequently especially the larger the business is, the more investors, advisors and shareholders evaluate you, one shift in the market and you will be under fire. 

Your Decisions To Delivery Hole 

In business leadership roles, there are thousands of ‘micro-decisions’ you make every day as a leader, you make what feels like small decisions and your business then gives them inflated weight, you are often judged on bad decisions part of your core team makes and frequently the disconnection between your leadership team and their department and team heads cause big directional shifts. 

AUDIT TIME! 

It is how you understand and improve: 

  • What is happening (not just the numbers – this is issue number one of bad leadership)    
  • The behaviours of you and the teams below you – if key individuals are causing the problems or allowing bad behaviours you will need to make hard decisions of keeping and improving them quickly or removing them to ensure improvements 
  • How you got to this situation as a timeline is critical to turning the problems around and addressing the majority of the issues 

Most leaders do not dedicate the time and then the resources to address the issues and core traits within the business, this is what makes the top 10% of leaders. Move into the top 10% and address the issues and audit performance of the business, the teams and the people. Get under the skin and inside the culture of the business to drive positive change within the business. 

This week’s focus action is to: 

  • Short Term: Dedicate the time to audit what is happening and not happening within the business and in your leadership 
  • Mid Term: Create an action committee from around you and your trusted team members to create the next steps and hold everyone accountable 
  • Long Term: Admit things were not perfect and present the actions under the 5 pillars you are changing and why these are changing 

Have a great week stepping up and being the leader you want to be and need to be, I will land in your inbox next week

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

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Leaders Letter 185 – Free Metrics Masterclass From Jeff Bezos

Dear leaders, I have an ongoing loathing of bad metrics. 

Whenever I speak to companies the first thing that is often brought up is performance and then, their associated metric(s). 

My dilemma; is how quickly I tell companies they have bad metrics and often how rotten their OKRs (or equivalent systems) are. 

You will have heard me rant about noise vs signal many times in Leaders Letters. 

Many professionals allow noisy metrics to: 

  • Influence their decision-making process 
  • Confirm their biases 
  • Misunderstand what of the noise is driving significance and which signals are contributing to success or leading to failure. 

Usage Vs Chrun Metrics: In an app company I worked with, the big obsession was usage metrics, there was no metric for successful usage, just if they were a DAU (daily active users), a WAU, or a MAU. 

Churn was almost exclusively ignored. Yes ignored, retention and churn was not something they ever looked at, let alone discussed. 

Imagine if the user opened the app and most days they had a bad experience with the app and ended up using your competitor. 

An example would be Google Maps providing a bad experience and users churned after a couple of uses over to Apple Maps and their daily trips and memories (maps products aren’t just A-to-B products, they help you plan and live important memories) they were arranged and guided by Apple Maps. 

Yes, this does happen and is happening more frequently. 

What I have learnt over the last 22 years is metrics can be good and bad, and the worst metrics are often what senior people obsess over and distress others over. 

Enter Jeff Bezos And His Unknowing 3-Minute Metrics Masterclass On Lex Fridmans Podcast: 

  • Why metrics are mostly good but not great
  • Why metrics can become outdated and mislead companies and their leadership teams (this is common, many ELTs and SLTs never revisit original metrics and understand what I call the metric decay)
  • Why metrics are often just proxies 
  • How the world shifts and metrics do not (and many do not proactively change)
  • Why old metrics are often why day 2 companies struggle  (a day 2 explained by Jeff is “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”)

Watch The Masterclass 

» Scroll down to the bottom of this newsletter for the transcript

This 2-Minute Exchange Is Critical

“The proxy for truth. Let’s say in this case it’s a proxy for customer happiness, but that metric is not actually customer happiness. It’s a proxy for customer happiness. The person who invented the metric understood that connection. Five years later, a kind of inertia can set in and you forget the truth behind why you were watching that metric in the first place. And the world shifts a little and now that proxy isn’t as valuable as it used to be or it’s missing something. And you have to be on alert for that. You have to know, “Okay, I don’t really care about this metric. I care about customer happiness and this metric is worth putting energy into and following and improving and scrutinizing, only in so much as it actually affects customer happiness.”

And so, you’ve got to constantly be on guard and it’s very, very common. This is a nuanced problem. It’s very common, especially in large companies, that they’re managing to metrics that they don’t really understand. They don’t really know why they exist, and the world may have shifted out from under them a little and the metrics are no longer as relevant as they were when somebody 10 years earlier invented the metric.”

The whole podcast is a business masterclass and something you will want to grab your caffeinated drinks of choice and your notebook or notes app and take copious notes to action. 

More, Cheaper, Free & Stagnation

We live in a world of choice, cheaper products, more competition than ever before and in many companies they allow poor leadership and bad metrics to stagnate. 

I have been in a handful of incredible QBRs (quarterly business reviews) and AOPs (annual operating planning), I have also been in some time and energy-draining QBRs and AOPs which many would have paid to leave. 

  • In the best, we discussed the metrics, the actual signals creating real business impact and the actions we were taking forward and the optimisations we would make. 
  • At the worst, we never discussed what the signals were telling us, what the missing links were and how we would truly fix the rot, despite many of us attempting to force the change many executives are happy for BAU and status quo. 

I cannot imagine Jeff Bezos allowing Amazon, Blue Origin or The Washington Post to have bad meetings, QBRs or AOP cycles and not taking competitors seriously and focusing the rest of the exec team around positively obsessing over the customer. 

This week’s focus action is for you to review your metrics, understand which are working to improve your business, which are there just because they always have been there, which are actually limiting your company and the metrics that are negatively impacting you and your business. 

Have a great last week and get in touch if you would like to

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

.

The Transcript (source)

Jeff Bezos

(01:24:36) Well, I’ll talk about… Because I think it’s the one that is maybe in some ways the hardest to understand, is the skeptical view of proxies. One of the things that happens in business, probably anything where you have an ongoing program and something is underway for a number of years, is you develop certain things that you’re managing to. The typical case would be a metric, and that metric isn’t the real underlying thing. And so maybe the metric is efficiency metric around customer contacts per unit sold or something like. If you sell a million units, how many customer contacts do you get or how many returns do you get? And so on and so on.

(01:25:30) And so what happens is a little bit of a kind of inertia sets in where somebody a long time ago invented that metric and they invented that metric, they decided, “We need to watch for customer returns per unit sold as an important metric.” But they had a reason why they chose that metric, the person who invented that metric and decided it was worth watching. And then fast-forward five years, that metric is the proxy.

Lex Fridman

(01:26:02) The proxy for truth, I guess.

Jeff Bezos

(01:26:04) The proxy for truth. Let’s say in this case it’s a proxy for customer happiness, but that metric is not actually customer happiness. It’s a proxy for customer happiness. The person who invented the metric understood that connection. Five years later, a kind of inertia can set in and you forget the truth behind why you were watching that metric in the first place. And the world shifts a little and now that proxy isn’t as valuable as it used to be or it’s missing something. And you have to be on alert for that. You have to know, “Okay, I don’t really care about this metric. I care about customer happiness and this metric is worth putting energy into and following and improving and scrutinizing, only in so much as it actually affects customer happiness.”

(01:27:03) And so you’ve got to constantly be on guard and it’s very, very common. This is a nuanced problem. It’s very common, especially in large companies, that they’re managing to metrics that they don’t really understand. They don’t really know why they exist, and the world may have shifted out from under them a little and the metrics are no longer as relevant as they were when somebody 10 years earlier invented the metric.

Lex Fridman

(01:27:29) That is a nuance, but that’s a big problem. Right?

Jeff Bezos

(01:27:33) It’s a huge problem.

Lex Fridman

(01:27:34) There’s something so compelling to have a nice metric to try to optimize.

Jeff Bezos

(01:27:38) Yes. And by the way, you do need metrics.

Lex Fridman

(01:27:41) Yes, you do.

Jeff Bezos

(01:27:41) You can’t ignore them. Want them, but you just have to be constantly on guard. This is a way to slip into day two thinking would be to manage your business to metrics that you don’t really understand and you’re not really sure why they were invented in the first place, and you’re not sure they’re still as relevant as they used to be.

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Leaders Letter 184 – The Important Themes Through My Coaching Sessions In 2023

Dear leaders, throughout 2023 I have coached, CEOs, founders, COOs, CGOs, CMOs and VP & Director level of Product, Growth and Marketing. 

It has been a highly rewarding year, especially with my passion for coaching and through my consulting (I have especially enjoyed the dedicated workshops and problem-solving-based hackathons this year). 

Professional Reflection & Retro 

In my annual review I ran earlier this week (I run a review every year, why? retrospectives are critical parts of improving as a professional), I reviewed the common themes from my coaching notes and wanted to share the themes that came up throughout coaching sessions and matching calls (the process to see if the “coachee” and I are a good match) to help you move forward with the end of 2023 and use the themes to help guide you in 2024. 

.

Confidence 

In themselves and in the team’s ability to deliver what’s required for success. This came up across all roles I coach and many CEOs and COOs are struggling with the confidence, in (1) making core decisions to drive the business forward and (2) ensuring the long-term success is actually taken care of – knowing they might not running the company. 
Confidence is something that is broken down are often performance and numbers-based, however, most are not recording and then celebrating smaller wins and micromoments to enable you and the team around you to understand wins and reflect to remind the team(s) of great moments and wins to promote confidence and delivery. Without knowing what helped success and what blocked it – how can you address confidence issues? 

Recommendation: Start to keep track of the wins and losses throughout the year, have a quick retro on each item and call out (1) what went well and the triggers of this, (2) what could have been improved and how potentially this can be removed in the next phase and (3) what went wrong and if you needed to go again or you could have stopped earlier for the same result.  
This is very similar to an after-action review and something I commonly recommend.  

Boundaries 

When I searched my coaching notes, boundaries came up in almost every session review, boundaries are often hard to set when you are not confident, you are not hitting targets or a new department lead or in a promoted role. 
Boundaries are crucial for owning your time, controlling how and when people can contact you and ensuring you can deliver work. Boundaries aren’t just for you, they are for your department, team leaders and for the business to know how you operate. As I tell many, think of boundaries like the guardrails at ten-pin bowling, not perfect but help to train and guide. 

Recommendation: Create a working schedule, that starts around X, finishes around Y and blocks out time for your own work and regular breaks. Many suggest they do not take a lunch break daily. Have a list of ways to contact you in emergencies out of hours (if business critical does it have to be a phone call, a SMS or on the emergency group chat) and use messaging scheduling as a way to control how and when you are contactable and how you communicate to your business, departments and teams to set boundaries for you and them. 

“Owning My Time” 

Every person I spoke to this year and coached brought up how they struggle to own their time and find the time for deep work. Without deep work you are not completing your role and critically thinking deeply (or thinking through first to third-order effects) If you do not own your own time, you are giving away the most precious items to us. Owning your time doesn’t mean you stop every meeting request or set too strict boundaries, it means using time blocking, setting non-negotiable requirements for meeting requests and being ruthless with requests. A title requesting a time slot or ‘got a quick five minutes’ shouldn’t mean you have to say yes. The best executives own their time and create barriers to getting any time on their calendar.  

Recommendation: Time block sections of your day where you are unavailable, and create statuses where your colleagues know you are in deep work (for example agree on instant messenger statuses green = contactable, orange = in a meeting, red = do not disturb / deep work etc) and creates requirements for others to complete for you to join their meeting requests. My focus recommendations for meeting requirements include – every meeting must have 
(1) a clear agenda 
(2) why was this not an email 
(3) what does success look like 
(4) what question(s) do we need to answer 
(5) owner of the meeting and a few others. 

Meeting Overload 

Many department leads and c-suite are blocked out with meetings, many suggesting they are booked in back-to-backs and then just about have time for lunch and to grab water or a coffee. I know every executive says this but often this approach can be confused with wearing the busy badge of honour, many knowing if in back-to-backs they are seen as working. One issue that many are unaware of is MRS (meeting recovery syndrome) and the knock-on effects bad meetings have and the mood you will carry into the next interaction and next meeting. Meetings are significant parts of most businesses, they have however caused a disconnect between getting work done and making decisions away from a Zoom room, a team call or being in a meeting room. 

Recommendations

  • Be clear in meeting requirements, what type of meeting is it (a brainstorming, a decision-making session that is needed versus an email chain, a workshop or a 1-2-1), what decisions have to be made, who has the sign-off for important decisions, what are the expected outcome from requested “meeting”.
  • Default meetings from 30 to 25 minutes, 60 to 45 minutes and any recurring meeting have a cadence of updates that everyone follows to ensure these aren’t just status updates, leaning more towards collaborative working sessions. 
  • Lastly, consider how a walk-and-talk or a standing meeting (if possible with all parties) can speed up the meeting. 
    Here are 25 meeting recommendations to improve your meetings and reduce overload

Struggle With Management & Leadership 

  • Team management is hard and from all the feedback, it is getting harder. This is something many need support with and something I am recommending more and more if creating a management style and approach that is unique for you versus just following what others are doing. 
  • Leadership is interrupted in many different ways. Being a department or division lead isn’t enough to be seen as a leader and knowing what type of leader you want to be and what the needs of your business are – is the only way you become a better and effective leader and executive. 
  • The demands of being both manager and leader take a toll even on the best and well-known CEOs with the best teams around them. There are times when the two blur together and times when inexperienced or time-poor struggle with management particularly of team members and many aren’t ever taught to be a manager of managers and taking on the extra responsibility of being a Head of Team/Department. Others struggle to know when to bring HR into conversations and when to bounce off issues with senior colleagues. 

Recommendations

  • Create your own management profile and work through what you need to work on and what you need to proactively learn and lean into more 
  • Create your own leadership profile and work through learning how to be the leader you need to be and want to be. Focus on communication and ‘holding a room’ if you are looking to become a CEO or have aspirations of becoming a founder. 
  • Understand when you can speak to colleagues with potential team issues and when to go directly to HR with everything logged. The best executives have a unique feel for what the issue is and who is best placed to help problem solve people issues or performance issues. 

Goal Setting 

Many leads stated how they despise goal setting, particularly how hard it was to set and track OKRs. Digging deeper most struggle as they are fully aware the goal is almost impossible to hit and they understand the constraints the team are under or how much additional work or headcount is required. Once breaking down the goals into more manageable and achievable steps most coaching collaborations end up in a different model, whether that’s using SMART goals methodology or moving across to think big act small by when framework understanding how to set goals and break these down into manageable tactical attacks.  

Recommendations

  • Review how you are setting goals and the framework you are using. 
  • OKRs are confusing without real training and are often rolled out and takes 12-18 months for them to make sense to a business, many opting to remove them. 
  • Most companies set goals from the top and often use spreadsheets with formulas to understand what the business needs, create strategy ~10 weeks before the end of the year and then ask the departments to build their departmental plans into the company-wide strategy to ensure they are realistic and review tactics regularly and then review plans quarterly. You can then revisit strategy up to twice a year by being informed by the business metrics and the leading indicators rather than looking to change everything all the time. 

Ongoing Costs Of Bad Decisions 

Everyone makes decisions, often in the most positive way possible, a common theme in bad decisions is selfish-based decisions, and political-based decisions (Me before the We decision) but never keeping track of decisions and whether they were bad decisions or decisions that were right at the time but need addressing with a market shift or reacting to a new market condition. What is key is to understand the cost (whether in £/$ or in headcount losses or motivation and performance). Also, have retros on whether decisions were slow or fast and if this impacted the business – most businesses come to understand slow decision-making is detrimental to performance and can have real long-term impacts.  

Recommendations

  • Create a decision document that shows what the major decisions were, why they were made, and how and who made these. You can then share across the business and receive feedback and questions. 
  • Taking this one step further is reviewing within your QBRs and reviewing if the decisions were “good” or “bad” and any impact they might have had. 

Bonus — Strategy 

Strategy is baking a better cake’ – this is a statement I say to almost every coaching client. Strategy is something we have forgotten its actual role within the business, strategy is often misunderstood, misinterpreted or misdiagnosed. 

Strategy takes time and dedicated resources away from just a room with execs and the CFO’s spreadsheet in mid-December or in an away session. 
Through Q&A I uncovered most professionals do not make the time to think and build the long-term strategy, they do not think about who has to be invited to contribute and how to gain the right level of investment needed.  

Recommendation: Have a clear idea of what strategy is and what it is not, arrange a kick-off meeting inviting department and discipline heads and work through 2-week window where they will be blocked out to work through strategy, the department plans to roll up into the strategy and where their teams co-create the tactical elements to use and roll out. Throughout the year block of time to review department plans as a leadership team and block out 2 sessions to review strategy but ensure you are incorporating QBRs and recent updates to guide you and not to guide biases. 

» Are You Or Your Business Struggling With Strategy? Here is my free strategy cheatsheet

This week’s focus action is to run your annual review, understand where you did well, where not so well and where the seven themes will help you for next year. 

Thanks for reading again this week, have a great break and for those celebrating enjoy Christmas and have a great week ahead. 

Danny Denhard

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7 Recommended Following On Reading: 

  1. Do You Need A Refresh, A Reset, A Reboot Or A Restart?
  2. The Difference Between Mission, Vision, Strategy, Plans & Tactics
  3. The 5 Recommended Roles For 2024 Success 
  4. Community Your Next Competitive Advantage
  5. Your Leadership Superpower – Your Leadership Kryptonite
  6. Time For A Calendar Audit 
  7. Improve Company Culture With The Right Company Activities
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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 178 –

Pirates Overthrowing The Ship’s Captain

Why Department Leads Needs Active Management, Coaching & Effective HR Partners

Dear leaders, I heard a statement on a consulting call earlier this year that I can’t shake. 

We are about to experience “the pirates overthrowing the ship’s captain”.

It was a phrase that I remember when I started my career when it was an internal leadership battle but I hadn’t heard it again in many years. 

The context this time around was very different but the end message is still the same. 

Pirates Vs Captain Or Was The Captain The Problem

The pirates overthrowing the ship’s captain statement was referencing a department that had enough of the existing department lead and had done everything to have them removed from their role. 

By all accounts, the removal was well deserved. The lead hadn’t been a leader, they let performance drop to an all-time low, they let the majority of one-to-ones slip and rarely attended the department and team meetings. They left it to the team(s) “to sort out between them”. 

Some of the circumstances explained: 

  • Poor management had hindered the team’s subculture and was impacting how the team were interacting 
  • The situation had hindered the trust of the business in that department 
  • The leadership team asked the Department lead what was happening within the team and large campaigns and they were unable to answer and struggled to follow up 
  • HR was fully aware of the implications and decided it best to allow it to play out 

Semantics Matter 

The turn of phrase was interesting, implying the team members were pirates. Oddly enough pirates are almost exclusively seen as bad, often focusing in on “attacks and robs”. 

Imagine finding out you were referred to as pirates and semantically you were attacking and robbing the department lead of their role… that really wasn’t what happened and it’s essential we are crystal clear in our communications as leaders.

Through all of my brief interactions, the team seemed to be super switched on, they wanted to hit targets and were looking for some direction from the business, not just their department head. The team Heads of were lost due to bad communication and issues were pushed between heads of departments and HR. 

Pirate Lessons

The biggest lesson here is some smart people make bad department heads (especially those without training and coaching) and often act in ways they feel are allowing the team to breathe, however, the micro lessons here are important too: 

  1. The lack of communication caused problems from their boss, throughout the department and cross-functionally – meaning their own department was being seen as incompetent and unable to help colleagues  
  2. Dropping 1-2-1s caused bigger interpersonal issues and hurt trust within the department. Team leads would complain to each other and their teams but felt unable to make real progress. HR didn’t want to intervene too quickly – creating another layer of distrust – this grows and spreads quickly 
  3. Communication needed to flow effectively between the leadership team and heads of teams and throughout their teams. This is where skip meetings could have uncovered some of these issues (with open communication between the Department Lead boss and the Heads of Teams) and sped up the process of the Department lead being replaced. 

One of the ongoing issues that are rarely addressed within businesses is the lack of management accountability and reviews of their managers and then review of their team members. 

Step Up Leaders! 

The number of times senior leaders could remove issues by simply connecting with their report’s team members and by asking for regular feedback you then should be able to spot patterns and not rely on “pirates”.  

This week’s focus action is to check in and meet with important members of your middle management and see where Department leads are struggling or falling short, especially with the pressures of November and December. 

Have a great week ahead! 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 175 – The Good, Better, Best Trap

There’s A New System In Town – Good Enough, Good, Better, Best & Greatest

Leaders Letter 175

Dear leaders, if you have worked in a corporate environment, you will likely hear the phrase: good, better, best. 

For those unfamiliar. The concept is easy, you have three quality categories to fall into: 

  • Good (or good enough for the users) 
  • (slightly) better (than others), 
  • best (the best in the market) 

Many still need help to use simple ways of comparing themselves or features (or disciplines like Marketing) into scores or categories. 
This is a super simple way for anyone from the most junior to the most senior to understand where they are. 

These categories are easy to apply to yourself and your competitors in a table or matrix and then go a layer deeper when reviewing your own products and features.   

Making Good, Better, Best Work In A Plan

What is more challenging is to say why there is a difference and the steps to take from good to better and then to best and then provide a dedicated timeline to get there.

Product teams especially can struggle to provide this on their roadmap and know with confidence their competitors aren’t doing the same or accelerating away. 

Over the last few years, we landed in a place where good could have been a barrier too high, good enough likely could have been added especially since 2019.

Let’s be honest, there are two other categories on the scale: 

1/ Good Enough

Being ruthless, “good enough” is where many market leaders truly are, they leverage their huge ecosystems or heavily invest in core features that make them seem much better than it is. 

2/ Greatest

There’s a layer that many don’t talk about and that’s greatest. 

The reason why greatest matters, best is sometimes not enough, even with the greatest tools or apps as a company you can still struggle to make it pop or become an industry leader. 

Being seen as the greatest is often a tag you won’t really want once given externally. Let’s dive into why…

Better Or Best Is Powerful For Market Leaders Currently  

Many products have shaped our experience and our reference point into a market we see as the best. This is often flawed but we rarely go looking for the greater product or switching cost is so high we just don’t. Here are a couple of examples: 

  • Facebook has struggled to develop their own hit since the big blue app went live in 2008. They have had to buy the best in the market to continue their growth, including their acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. Threadshaven’t set the world alight since launch and are proof Meta can acquire or drive users quickly but can they keep users on a “good enough product”. 
    There are many better products on the market but this is the social media leader and knows how to port users and gain huge buzz. 
  • Many Apple products are believed at best but aren’t the greatest. I love my Airpod Pro headphones, they changed my working style and enabled me to seamlessly shift between iPhone, iPad and my Macbook without any issues and kept me connected (alongside the great battery life). The microphone is terrible being Bluetooth-based and doesn’t help with calls without Apple’s update on background noise reduction (and some echo reduction) and podcast interviews. The issue for most customers we haven’t looked for, seen, used/experienced or heard of the greater products or are extremely expensive – we won’t ever purchase them. 
  • Google is often seen as the (only for some) best search engine and search experience but it isn’t, it is often the only one have used and most often is the default search engine across their browsers (paying billions to Apple to be the default on the Safari browser), on their phone (if you have an iPad and use safari and use Gmail, see how hard google pushes its search and downloading chrome to own search) and on their devices at home and work. 

The Potential Trap Of The Greatest 

We have seen the “greatest” products launch and then bomb quickly. 

They launch and either don’t have enough marketing budget, they haven’t promoted the app enough, don’t gain traction with the early adopters or they have sold quickly understanding funding won’t ever be enough. 

Greatest is often a trap for startups and challenger brands. If you believe you are the greatest when you are at a large brand, you will likely need to revisit the scoring… 

Audit To Know Where You Really Are

If you were to audit your product features or marketing efforts, how would you audit your business efforts? 

  • Good enough (0-3)
  • Good (4-6) 
  • Better (6&7) 
  • Best (8&9)
  • Greatest (10) 

Hint: By adding in the score you can show how you move the needle and be honest that you might be a 1 on good enough and can only get to a 6 as better. 

The scoring and associated timeline will be invaluable for the business to understand your development and Marketing decisions. 

And if you are higher on the scale (better or above), what do you need to do not to lose against competitors with bigger ecosystems, better distribution and strong moats? 

This week’s focus action is to audit your Product and Marketing to understand where you are on the scale and what you need to do to really improve your performance and build for the next 18 months. If you default to AI – you need to run better auditing 😉 

Thanks and have a great week! 

Danny Denhard

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 171 – Which Do You Need, A Refresh, A Reset, A Reboot Or A Restart?

Dear leaders, I have a little secret, away from the leaders newsletter and focus, I run a dedicated offering for Execs, Growth and Marketing leaders

When people ask me what I do, I used to say – I am a coach, consultant and advisor. 

When people ask me what that means I tweaked it recently to ask a question, “Which do you need, a refresh? A reset? A reboot? Or a restart?”  

It’s the 4 R’s you didn’t know you needed but everyone is in this phase. 

Over the last two decades, I have actually had a lot of jobs that aren’t on my LinkedIn and aren’t specifically broken down on my resume so here are a few stories to help to frame reset, refresh, restart, reboot. 

A Reset Story

When I worked as a Project Manager (in today’s world it would be a Product Manager releasing software) in finance I actually had to do a stint of work in commissions (in the finance team) when we were really struggling and my job in that period was to talk on the phone and over email with finance brokers on why their payments were late or missing. 

It was at the brutal end of customer service. I learnt a lot in that period with mortgage brokers coming to the office to find out where sometimes 100k was missing from payment runs. 

The owners didn’t know how to stop this business from going under in the middle of the major subprime mortgage crisis (2007 to 2010) but with a little hindsight, I believe we could have reset the business by removing more of the complexity of the processing department and helping our partners and brokers to remove numerous friction points and understanding how to reject applications more quickly. 

Hindsight is a wonder thing, isn’t it?  

A Refresh Story 

In another job I had to shift the focus of the sales packages from one discipline we were known for (there were white and black hat associations) to broadening out the offering with a super talented internal department lead who had to package up solutions on the fly (sometimes in the morning of big pitches) with hardly any time as a bolt-on to bigger pitches to offer a better more holistic Marketing solution. 

We built sales packages, built bespoke tools and hired an insanely talented person to come in and service clients, build reports and be the face of the new offering and we expanded that offering 4x that year. 

It worked really well and diversified the business. The refresh helped the company refresh the offering when pitching and have a broader influence on the marketing teams of the companies we were working with and being introduced to. 

A Reboot Story

There is something I don’t share often, I joined a company and for me, despite all of the interviews, great conversations smart people within the business and negotiations, it didn’t work out within a week. 

This company had a top-tier product (this was why I reached out to them directly), had high loyalty and was a utility (for many it was essential to check before work) and it had powerful sets of data across the globe (it was not quite a moat but close enough to to be excited of what we should do). 

Speaking to the founder and the leadership team I could see what was missing to kickstart the company’s new chapter and it was a reboot around brand side and stories connect to the product, a fresh product positioning and the business could make significant money with the right investment. 

The vision I had to reboot and drive ultra focus the business wasn’t shared by the founder and their vanity-based KPI wasn’t exactly what the brand needed, what the non-users craved and that’s not what the hundreds of thousands of daily active users would ever care about. 

Like I have said before big ideas rarely hit home, especially with founders, cofounders and CEOs as it means big shifts within the business and often has large time and business costs they just cannot commit to. 

A Restart Story 

In March 2020 I left a leadership role, I poured my heart and soul into the business and through five years of being connected to the company first as a consultant and then employed I knew in late 2019 after annual planning and discussions that I needed a full restart. 

I knew from the internal coaching and the work that gave me energy, I had to start my mission to fix the broken world of work, I knew companies weren’t placing the right emphasis on creating a company-wide strategy where people (company culture) and performance (company strategy) were rarely connected or aligned that this was the focus that businesses needed. 
I knew this was the restart I needed. 

What I didn’t think would be a two-year battle (thanks to the pandemic) was a long restart and many still are catching up to the concept of bringing people and performance closer together and understanding that the way it has always been done isn’t working in the 2020’s and those leading industries (away from big tech) are tackling this in more progressive ways… 

A Hard Reboot Story

A business I have been advising this year needed a hard reboot. 

Their business is large, they are a national favourite, however,  they were being chopped down piece by piece and broken down by numerous new competitors and their features were no longer unique or value-driving vs. cheaper or free options. 

My recommendation was: 

  • To revisit their annual strategy and rethink it from a fresh perspective 
  • To rethink how their product should work for existing but also for the new use cases appearing in the market and in products adjacent to them  
  • To understand the lite product hacking (when people use your product in a completely new way you never considered)  
  • To consider how they showed up with their pricing. 

We had a number of sessions and took a hard reboot approach, to go back to if they were a startup, review their own product be brutally honest and run a keep, kill, core and copy approach to the product and run a set of pricing surveys. 

Looking Back With Fresh Set Of Eyes

None of these was fun to me, it was incredibly hard work and took a number of painful conversations but one was an enlightening business lesson for me, one has helped me understand the lay of the land in businesses and agencies and has been a brilliant foundation to my career and another enabled me to be part of an IPO, numerous M&A deals and drive positive change for people I coach and the businesses I help to reshape. 

This week’s focus action is to down and think about how you are performing and consider which R phase are you in and what you need:  

  • A Refresh 
  • A Reset 
  • A Reboot 
  • A Restart

Have a great week ahead and if I can help you on your 4R journey happily email me directly danny@focus.business

Danny Denhard

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 170 – Leadership Lessons With Jo Bird

Dear leaders, how has the start of September gone? Are you ramping up for Q4 or are you in the middle of reviewing what has happened this year? 

This week I am continuing the 5 questions theme by interviewing Jo Bird. 

So who is Jo?

  • Jo is the creative lead at Lounge (the underwear brand) 
  • Powerful creative, being responsible for a number of powerful campaigns 
  • Conference speaker (has spoken at TEDx watch below)
  • Authentic Social Media Leader – Jo is one of my go-to examples of how leaders can show up authentically on social media, particularly on LinkedIn. 

» Please do connect with Jo on her website or on LinkedIn


The Q&A 

Q1. You share some incredible pieces of advice and insights with your connections and followers on LinkedIn, What’s the most valuable piece of advice you would give anyone progressing on their leadership journey? 

Ask yourself: ‘why do I want to be a leader?

A lot of people are chasing a job title so that they feel better about themselves. 
Or to gain respect. 
Or to challenge themselves in their own career. 
But the ‘me, me, me’ approach is a big fail at the first hurdle. It can also be incredibly disruptive to your team in the long-term. Trust me… I’ve had those bosses!

Being a great leader is about serving other people. It’s about standing in the shadows and applauding your team while they’re in the spotlight. It’s about empowering others to be their best selves. It’s about inspiring the team to reach a shared goal, together.

So, my advice would be to ask yourself why you want to do it. 

And then go from there.


Q2. The creative industry is likely going to experience big shifts with AI, what are the three pieces of advice you give fellow leaders on how to navigate the upcoming changes? 

  1. Be curious. You need to ask questions, do research and speak to industry professionals in order to make discoveries, learn and then subsequently inspire your team to also explore new technology, too.
  2. Be open-minded. Technology might not be your forte, or newness might feel uncomfortable, but great leaders do not stand still. 
  3. Be honest. It’s ok if you don’t have all the answers. AI will continue to develop at a rapid rate, which can feel overwhelming. If you are uncertain in any way, your team will appreciate your honesty.

Q3. You’ve given big conference talks, including a TEDX talk. Do you have three tips for other leaders who want to deliver brilliant presentations to their peers or at larger conferences? 

  1. Record yourself. Honestly. Self-awareness is the BEST tactic for developing as a speaker. Once you get over the ‘cringe’, you’ll start to notice your bad habits. ‘Ums’ and ‘ars’, awkward body language, lack of charisma. Only then can you start to practice.
  2. Practice! It’s true that preparation prevents p*ss poor performance! Do your research to make sure your presentation is air tight. And then rehearse in front of a mirror as many times as you can. When you feel like you can deliver the talk without looking at your notes, you’ll be so much more confident on stage.
  3. Treat it like a conversation. People think that being a presenter means being a robot or foghorn. It’s the opposite. The best, most captivating presenters are the ones who have built the courage to be themselves on stage. Like they’re speaking to a friend. To include their quirks, charisma and invite the audience in to their conversation.

Watch Jo’s Tedx video here


Q4. You’ve been a creative lead at both Lounge and Gymshark, both influential and culture-based brands, how do you inspire your teams when every campaign is expected to make a direct impact on the business? 

I have a few techniques that are working really well at the moment:

  1. Empowerment: I believe that creatives need to feel trusted, inspired and enabled to do their best work. For them, it can feel exhausting to constantly share their true, emotive, creative selves at work when pitching ideas. Especially if not all ideas are received well. So, they really need a leader who creates a safe space and continually champions them. Someone who ‘has their back.’
  2. Lead by example: I like to get my hands dirty, do great work and make it known to my team. If they are inspired by me – both inside and outside of the business – then they are more likely to respect my instructions as a leader.
  3. Communication: I am a high communicator. I am as transparent as I can be with my team. If there are business updates, if they have concerns, if they need more direction. I will speak to them as much as I can to make sure they feel supported and included. If they understand the bigger business goals, they are more likely to perform well.
  4. Humility: Working for rocketship brands means that the leaders can’t possibly know everything. The brands are growing at such a rapid rate, the leaders are learning and figuring things out all the time. So, I like to show a lot of humility. To leave ego at the door and encourage a ‘let’s learn this together’ attitude.

Q5. What’s the best piece of career advice you would give to C-suite leaders who don’t quite understand the power of creative (teams) or it’s just not landing right with them currently? 

I would quote Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar. In his book Creativity Inc he said: 

“You’ll never stumble upon the unexpected if you stick only to the familiar.”

Creatives are the most curious kind of employee. We’re the ones who like to turn left when everyone else turns right. We’re the ones who thrive in problems and strive to break patterns. 

I don’t think creatives should take over the boardroom (we’d spend all the money on games machines and slides in the office), but I 100% think creatives should be in the decision-making room.

We see the world differently. And that is what every business needs in order to stay relevant, stay inspiring and stay profitable.

(And if that didn’t work, I’d probably just hit them with a research study like: 70% of companies that engage with creativity had above-average total returns to shareholders – McKinsey & Company.)


I think you’ll agree Jo offered some incredible tips and you can apply them this week. 

This week’s focus action is to ensure you embrace your creativity and ensure you enable your team to integrate creativity into their work. 

Have a great week if you haven’t subscribed you will miss out on with the big question you need to answer: 
Which Do You Need, A Refresh, A Reset, A Reboot Or A Restart? 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

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