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Company Culture Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 101 – Opinions Vs Feedback & Pixar Pluses

Dear leaders, I want to be clear in my message this week, language and words matter more now than ever before.
We are going to dive into Opinions Vs Feedback. 

Hybrid Challenges: In the hybrid work world we are mostly operating in, landing that message, providing feedback and offering insights have to be clearer and more deliberate than ever. Many are missing the mark with hybrid communications. 

It’s time to review small tweaks to have bigger impacts. 

Sad Over Mad? 

In Product teams, you often have retros, it is “a safe place” to review the last sprint. Often the safe place or space (in hybrid working) can be hostile. 

Many frame it with Mad (things that made you mad), glad (things you are glad about and for), and sad (things that make you sad about the release/product). 

In almost all retros like this, mad and sad overtakes glad and kills the celebrations, kills micro-moments, and concentrate on what could have been. 

Even with great business results, you will see a negative impact on the product subculture and creates an internal cultural bleed.

When I temporarily took over a Product team a few years ago, I instantly removed mad, it was simply sad and glad, you would start with glad (always start with a positive) and end quick fire with sad. 

Removing ‘mad’, removed venting and negative opinions helped bring the teams closer and celebrate each other’s victories for longer and celebrate cross-functionally.  

Just by removing one element – you can have better framing and better conversations. In some good news, some teams are now reframing this into (a) what worked, (b) what could have been better. 

Why words and framing matters

I am a believer that opinions really cut up organisations, feedback helps to reshape products, people and progress.

You should not look to remove opinions, after all, we all have them, however, opinions are often just what you think or how you might be biased for or against something. Opinions rarely help guide you forward and can be your opinion versus someone else’s. 

Feedback is action-orientated, it is built to add value not take value. Feedback should be constructive and a spin on improvement(s). 

By being deliberate and adding a focus on feedback over an opinion you are setting the framing in a better light and encouraging improvement. 

Pluses Focused Feedback? Pixar have ‘pluses’ in their review process of movies, all the company attends and can add a plus which adds value, the famous example (from Dan Coyle’s book the culture code the company culture playbook) is in Up and someone from outside the creation studio suggested a tweak (a joke) and it landed so well this plus was added into the movie. 

Could you reframe feedback sessions to be pluses focused and frame feedback as a plus each time? 

In the coming weeks when H2/2H is firmly in sight and essential you review how the previous six months have gone and how you need to reshape or optimise Q3 and Q4 can you remove opinions and add feedback and could these be framed as pluses not just as “plain feedback?”. 

Thanks and have a great week ahead,

Danny Denhard

Essential Reading

  1. How to fix toxic company culture
  2. What really is company culture
  3. Why it is time to hire a culture community manager
  4. The ultimate hybrid work guide
Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter Leadership

Leaders Letter 99 – Leader & Cheerleader 

Dear Leaders, this is the 99th leadership newsletter I have sent out. It’s been a pleasure landing in your inboxes each week 

It has been 99 consecutive letters helping you to fight the battles that come thick and fast at leaders every day. 

This week I am going to show you why cheerleading is the hidden pillar of leadership. 

I set myself on a quest in 2020 to speak to as many leaders as I could.

I actually do something similar every year, however, when we were in lockdowns and trying to navigate that evolving landscape I wanted to speak to leaders who were driving their company forward. 

I spoke to leaders from as many industries as possible, including; secondary education, the military, sport, FMCG, creators, finance and fintech and there were three themes that arose from the calls and zooms:
(1) leadership evolves every day
(2) know when to lead and know when to get out of the way
(3) communication is key – but it’s how you deliver the message that is so important to landing that vital message. 

When I checked in with a few of these leaders recently, I revisited the themes and a fresh theme bubbled up to the top: knowing when to be the leader and when to be the cheerleader. 

The role of the leader regularly changes, but the core principles are often the same. 

Many learnt throughout the last three years that being leader changes but what was required most recently was being ‘the cheerleader’. Cheerleading the strategy, cheerleading the culture, cheerleading teamwork, cheerleading great work, cheerleading the pending business pivot, cheerleading change when many were proactively feared change. 

The issue many leaders cited was when their middle management and their leadership team struggled to rally the teams or galvanise change, it was on them to step up and cheerlead not always just force leadership decisions and change. 

Are you cheerleading enough? Are you embracing the role of the cheerleader and the impact is has on your team? 

This week consider how you can embrace this pillar of leadership and cheerlead more to help drive positive change.

Thanks, 

Danny Denhard

Are you interviewing? Here are the company culture interview questions to ask 

Here are the 7 leadership tips to win 

Struggling with the hybrid work shift? Read the hybrid work guide 

Categories
Leadership Podcast

Leadership Masterclass Podcast

It is rare that you find a priceless podcast on leadership that you should pay for. This is one of those you feel you should have paid for.

This podcast with General Stanley McChrystal on the Knowledge Project podcast (I highly recommend signing up for their newsletter) with Shane Parrish.

Watch Or Listen Below

Quote of the podcast:

“When I was a brand-new lieutenant, I asked my father, “How would I know if somebody that I worked for or worked for me was going to be a good commander in combat? … How would you tell in peacetime?” He says, “You won’t. You won’t know because people have capabilities or coping mechanisms that in peacetime look fine, that doesn’t play well in war.”

Then I asked him, “Okay, when you’re in combat, how do you know?” He said, “Some people keep asking for more information and what they’re trying to do is drive uncertainty to zero so that there’s really not a question on the right course of action because you know everything.” But you can’t do that. It’s not achievable. So they become hesitant.

They become tentative, and they become focused on getting more and more information to ratchet the uncertainty out of the situation and they don’t act.”

General Stanley McChrystal & Shane Parrish

Why listen to this masterclass with General Stanley McChrystal:

  • Commander’s intent
  • Threats vs. vulnerabilities framework and maths
  • Detecting and avoiding threats
  • Decision making framework
  • Why tiredness is making us more risk averse in 2022
  • How to make decision’s in moral dilemma’s
  • Why money and bonuses hurts the cilivan leadership and workplace (and helps in the military)
  • Why person and organisational values need to work together and the who they are is so important to perform
  • Training Matters: Military takes average talents and drive way above average results
  • War time decisions are big time decisions but is rarely needed in peace time (due to laws and rules)
  • Why history will help
  • Why stress management is personal but there are guides you can follow
  • How to develop mental toughness
  • How to teach self discipline

Like This?

Listen to the fixing the broken world of work podcast.

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 92 – What Questions To Ask This Month To Improve Your Performance For Your People?

Dear Leaders, 

March is often the most important month in the year to review how companies are progressing, how the morale and the performance of teams are going and preparing to review the five-year plan. 

Remember my motto;
Think 5 years aheadPlan 3 years aheadAction the year ahead.

So here is a list of questions you will want to ask internally and ask your fellow leaders, answer and then address: 

Strategy & Performance 

  • Do we trust the plan ahead?
  • If we were to change one part of the plan what would it be? 
  • Are there new market conditions we did not plan for or consider?
  • Have we returned to normalised seasonality? 
  • Can we ramp up our spending to accelerate growth? 
  • What would be the best investment to improve company-wide performance? 
  • What do the next six months look like if performance stagnates? 
  • What one hire would positively improve our leadership team? 

Company Culture & People 

  • How are our people doing?
  • How are our people reacting to ever-changing conditions? 
  • If we were to make one change to make people happier at work what would it be? 
  • How is our hiring going? 
  • Do we need to implement any company-wide training? 
  • Are our people in the right internal roles? 
  • Do we need more coaches and mentors?

Important Resources To Help You Answer These Questions 

I trust you work through these with your fellow leaders and consider how you could remove barriers for your performance and your people. 

Have a great week ahead and remember that your leaders should always think action, plan, think model to help address performance people issues alongside leading your business to success years for the next five years. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 91 – The First 100 Days Plan

Dear Leaders, Recently I asked what leaders would like to read on leaders’ letters to help them specifically. 

Here is the first instalment, what should you do for the first 90/100 days or three months in a new leadership role. Thanks to the three leaders who asked this. 

As ever, this will be broken down into the focus mantra = performance (strategy) and people (culture).
If people and performance are not directly connected you will not win the short or mid-term battles.

In most leadership roles in most good businesses you will be onboarded before the first day, you will likely be supplied documentation and insights to help you shape your thoughts. 

For those who don’t do this and those who are a little nervous, here are the steps I recommend you take 

The steps to take for a successful 100 day: 

Days 1-5 

  1. Get settled, onboard properly with HR, your direct colleagues and get comfortable for the first 48 hours. 
  2. Meet as many people as possible, remember one fact or snippet and note it down if need be. People first performance second in the first few days 
  3. Start to understand the tools the company uses, the cadence of updates and ask what are the most important tools.  
  4. Take notes and revisit every morning 
  5. Ask for the company wide strategy, not the strategies, be deliberate in understanding the metrics and the build of the strategy  
  6. Understand the company culture, what roles people play and what role leaders play here 
  7. Understand if the company is hippo led – if yes, build relationships around this
  8. Ask for a glossary of internal terms – if this doesn’t exist create one. Internal language is often so entrenched they do not know they are using it. Being able to speak the internal lingo is often a leap to success  
  9. Understand what communication works best within the business 
  10. Understand how the business actually makes money and what is the current state of play 
  11. Understand the known knowns and etiquettes, what behaviours are rewarded, which are considered negative and those which are just wrong inside the business. What is rewarded in your last place might be punishable in this. 
  12. Set out how you work with your department – how you like to work, how you like to communicate, how you best work, give a few strengths and weaknesses. Plan a speech if need be, often they are sprung on you 
  13. Find out if your company is in crawl, walk, run, stagnation phase. If you are entering a startup understand how mature they are, if you are entering a large company, understand if you are entering a business that is actually stagnating. If you are in a company at run phase from the outside but really is struggling internally the job is very different 
  14. Connect with HR and set up monthly meetings 
  15. Set up your 1:2:1 with your boss, set up what works for you both, monthly might hinder you if your first two months are not going well from their perspective 

Days 5-15

  1. Get to understand the unknown knows – what is the business hiding or is under the surface but not discussed or addressed 
  2. Ask for department leads to take them through their annual plan and performance so far 
  3. Get to know the people in your department, groups activities and one to ones. Make time, find time, don’t move these slots and meetings for others. 
  4. Set up 1:2:1’s cadence – be consistent, be there, be prepared and don’t cancel them! 
  5. Set out your expectations on meeting requests and how people want to use your time 
  6. Understand the team’s abilities and shortcomings and create a team SWOT (include your own), and then integrate into your 1:2:1’s and their grow plans
  7. Get to know how decisions are actually made with the business and within your teams. You will be surprised 
  8. Build a GANTT or equivalent to map out your first 100 days, this helps you stay on track and drive change. Evolve this for the first month 
  9. Understand what your department leads need from you, a coach, a mentor, a manager, a micromanager (yes some want micromanagement) and importantly if some need a fresh start. 

Day 15-50 

  1. Find out what has worked, what has not worked, what could work via the recent ideations sessions 
  2. Understand the current cadence of management team meetings, what format has worked and what hasn’t. If you are operationally smart you should look to optimise the meetings after 4-5 weeks / meetings. Never allow management teams to be a time drain or unproductive 
  3. Understand the performance of the business and the momentum and recent performing months/quarters/years. If there is a theme step up and discuss this openly. 
  4. If you go in a department leader develop your department hierarchy and build out your supporting team. Find your co-pilot quickly
  5. Understand if your role is a rebuilder role and build accordingly, understand the business need, the pain points and the problems you have to solve for the internal and as important the external customer.   
  6. Create grow plans for your team and the team members 
  7. Build your open-plan (open roadmap to all to see) – what you are going to be doing and the needles you will be moving 
  8. Plan the hiring budget and hiring business case, you may have been promised a number, however, these plans change quickly 
  9. Involve the existing team in hiring and the hiring plan. Bring into interviews and develop their hiring skills 
  10. Be proactive – Book time to get to know the leadership team. If they do not come to you, go to them, especially in leadership roles 
  11. Find out the internal influencers, the secret weapons, the hidden leaders and understand the dynamics at play 
  12. Befriend the CFO / FD, despite what you think this is often the most important relationship, trust by relationships and performance 

Day 50 +

  1.  Hire for the right long term roles not for the pain points or just the skills gap 
  2. Set up internal mentoring sessions for your team 
  3. Build cross-functional connections and arrange time slots for team leads and unofficial leads to collaborate (informally or formally) 
  4.  Look to invest time into other departments and the up and coming team members, this information shouldn’t be hard to find 
  5.  Gain feedback as often as possible 
  6. Develop out your longer-term plans, look to develop the 365 plan 

These steps should help you make the most out of the first quarter of your new business and will help guide you into the following quarters. 

Thanks and have a great week.

Danny Denhard

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 89 – Learning From Olympic Sports Psychology

Dear leaders, this week I am going to share with you something that was sent to me by one of my former team members. 

This (pic) is a Japanese curler, Satsuki Fujisawa, she is Olympic level, meaning she is one of the top three or four athletes in her field from her country, she has dedicated years to the craft and competing at a once in a lifetime event against the best the world has to offer. 

The message was written on her hand before she went out and importantly it was in view while she competed. 

The message reads:
“I’m a good curler.”
“I have confidence.”
“Let’s have fun”. 

I love these: 

  • I’m a good curler” – reminder this is what you are and what you are doing and you are good. Good is a better-placed word than great, good guides you, great can mislead.   
  • I have confidence” – keep reminding yourself you are confident and keep it front of mind even if you have one off-moment when performing.  
  • Let’s have fun” – helps to remove some of the pressure off you and helps to remind you that having fun while playing sport helps you to perform well. 

Why was this sent to me? 

I was and am fascinated by the world of psychology and the impact short messages can have on people, particularly on high performing athletes and colleagues.
I have loosely studied psychology throughout my career and it has helped me coach and mentor many great people. 

I might have said about my love for the TV show Billions and why I believe many businesses would benefit from having their own Wendy Rhoades, a psychology-based performance coach ensuring high performing traders hit record goals and pick up their confidence when second-guessing decisions.   

This particular team member and I worked together on developing their perceived weaknesses and there were three areas that they struggled with and needed some coaching around. 

  1. Standing in front of a large audience and delivering a message that hit.  
  2. Being able to concentrate on delivering an important message to senior people.  
  3. Confidence. 

Our Process 

  1. We worked on breaking down the messaging, always having a single post-it note with the messages in their hand when delivering a message.
    Small, subtle and keeps you on track. 
  2. Always have a specific small notepad with the core takeaway on for when they were delivering messaging to the leadership team and cross off when completed the message like a task.
    This works well pairing with presentations and if you are in external crisis situations (which we were from time to time from the company we guided) it really helped to reduce panic.  
  3. Writing down feedback given and keeping a record of the positive messages and comments from the meeting. I am a huge advocate of having nice, positive and good feedback records. The power of re-reading on down days or bad days can be priceless.

The trick is to keep a series of the same small notebooks and see the journey you went on. Ensure you have the date written down and the context of the meeting included, this will be great to read back through and provide you with confidence and a timeline of how you have evolved. 

I have to admit this specific person was and is a secret weapon and were brilliant, collaborating with them was great and all they needed from time to time was a little nudge or reassurance. 

I learned a lot from them and I am proud to still be able to help coach and collaborate with them. 

When you are developing leaders is in your department or company, these little exercises are ones they will pass onto others and tiny acts of psychology really do help the day to day and the careers of those around you. 

Have a great week and consider how you might leverage something as small as a note written on a team members hand to help them progress. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard


Essential Reading This Week

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

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 82 – The 4F Framework: Feel, Fascinate, Future, Flourish

Dear Leaders, Happy New Year. I trust you are rested and prepared for the year ahead.

The first leader’s letter of 2022 is:

The 4F Framework: Feel, Fascinate, Future, Flourish

In a keynote presentation from Q3 2021, I presented the idea of fan clubs, tribes, communities and herds

I created what I called a formation flow, it is 4 F’s that are easy to remember and a flow of importance. 

It was:

It’s a flow through from: Feel => Fascinate => Future => Flourish.  

The 4F Flow is how you enable people to feel part of a “formation” and in this case your community; it is why we see herds of people come together around a big cause or a movement, it is why people build tribes within workforces and around ideas and why fan clubs are created around a club or a person. 

4F Framework For Work 

This also applies to how people within your business operates and see their role within the business. 
It’s part of the Focus 2P’s (people (company culture) & performance (1 x company-wide strategy))

  • Feel: How the people Feel within a team or a project 
  • Fascinate: How people are Fascinated about a problem or a solution they are working on.
    Often teams will be fascinated by the cause or the mission of the company and need to be fascinated in the future. 
  • Future: Seeing their Future within the company and having a clear picture of what their future looks like and their long term within the business.
    The most common reason for smart people to leave a business is feeling like they do not have a (mid to long term) future within the business 
  • Flourish: How people’s career is going to Flourish within the business and how you are building a future for them 

The 4F’s go in order, make someone feel connected and heard, create fascination around their role and build a vision of their future alongside the future of the business and show how they will flourish and be part of the company flourishing in the future. 

Question to ask and answer this week:

Are you ready to roll out the 4F formation to your team members?

Have a great first week back at work.

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Categories
Anonymous Career Advice

What three actions to take to kick off 2022 well?

In the end of the year instalment of anonymous career advice, a leader asks an important question to kick off 2022 well.

Dear focus, I want to kick off 2022 well. What are three things I can do as a mid-sized business leader? 

In most businesses the leader has to show the direction you are headed, why you are looking forward to the year ahead and how the departments and teams will be leading from the front and where they will be collaborating. 

In all of the businesses I have worked in, worked with or consulted on, there are a number of selective characteristics that are run through. All involving direction setting, thanking and ensuring you reference the importance of your people and their performance (collectively and individually).

Remind yourself of the two P’s when creating the 3 action points below: 

The Two P’s 

The people (company culture) and the performance (strategy). 

The three actions below can be live or can be pre-recorded. Pre-recorded allows you to practise and get it to where you are happy. Powerpoint, Google Slides and Keynote all offer recording and inserting video per slide or across the presentation.

Live is great for connection building, pre-recorded will benefit those of you looking to manage the time and asking for Q&A and being able to prep. 

Only you as the leader will know what works best for you and your style (personality type). 

Have notes and links to hand to send across post three actions. 

1/ Personal Statement 

A quick statement of the company, what you are looking forward to seeing, what you are excited for and what behaviours you love to see and are agreed across the business that will likely be rewarded. 

Slides will help you here.

FYI: There is nothing more awkward than asking for each member of the leadership to have comments or offer their one minute to ten-minute statement.

2/ Quick Positive Review Of 2021 

Here is a breakdown of what to include and flow through:

  • A reminder of the journey you went on (timeline) 
  • What did the team do well? 
  • What made you proud? 
  • Any stand out examples of cross-functional collaboration and delivery 
  • Was there any big campaign, releases or launches? 
  • Were there important milestones hit and which milestones were hit? 

Remove all mad and sad parts of the review, glad (happy and proud) is the most important to concentrate on and start with a micro-moment

3/ Walkthrough the company-wide strategy for 2022  

Here are 4 steps to include and run through quickly. Double click on the elements you were weaker on in 2021 and requires more work. This should be informed from the staff feedback throughout 2021:

  • Strategy: What beliefs do you have, what bets are you making and what pillars are going to guide the teams 
  • Action points ahead: The key sections of work from different departments 
  • Product roadmap overview: top level don’t go into long details just key points and what you are looking to release or deliver by when (use the think big, act small, by when framework if required) 
  • Milestones: The milestones you would like to hit and how you are looking forward to the teams developing this out 

Remember To Resight Metrics: If you have a number of metrics you have signed off on and agreed upon, share this on one slide presentation or a short image you will share post-presentation / speech, this way you will create a guidepost to allow the company to understand their targets and what they are building towards. 

Remember the longer it takes to sign off-targets and north stars the more difficult it is for the teams to hit the ground running and get ahead of the hard tactical battle ahead. 

Something to keep in mind, Steve Jobs was the ultimate internal sales and marketing person for Apple and this role is vital for success any year, none more so with such uncertainty people look for leadership with direction and trust signals. Drive this by driving the business forward on day 1.

Best of luck and have a good end to 2021 and a successful 2022. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Ask your own

Categories
Leadership

21 Leadership Lessons To Take Away From 2021

Here are 21 leadership lessons to take away from the rollercoaster that was 2021, below have a number of great examples of rethinking problems, solving staff issues and addressing concerns. Other examples included is how not to do leadership and proves all leaders need coaching and mentors. 

  1. Leadership is hard, many of the large businesses got it wrong including Alphabet, Amazon and Apple. We all get it wrong from time to time, in the hybrid work world it is going to be harder. Owning mistakes and communicating the resolve is most important.  

  2. Every leader does it differently, from command and control from Mark Zuckerberg, to principles style discussion-based leadership from the likes of Ray Dalio and manage by press release like Bob Iger. In 2021 going into 2022, we are going to see a continued need to be flexible and provide leadership in the form team members demand, some will need to follow one leader, some will require and be led by compassion, others will need a hierarchy to follow and understand they are being heard and appreciated. Leadership Coaching and Management Team Training are going to be imperative.

  3. Relentless Impact: 2020 and 2021 have been relentless for everyone, particularly for managers and leaders of businesses. The unspoken toll on leaders is an important lesson to coach throughout organisations and help managers of all levels to know you have to be able to handle stress and ask for help and importantly put your own health first.

  4. New Rules: When letting go 900 staff members, rip off the bandaid early and be respectful of the impersonal nature of zoom meetings – Better.com CEO has since gone on a break, the ripple effects, however, have continued and has set a bad precedent that many others will, unfortunately, replicate when PR and leadership teams tell others you have to be the alpha and set the tone for the business moving forward.

  5. Local Leadership: As the world adapted to different cycles of covid, local leadership became more important, local leadership roles can be difficult, however across 2020 and 2021 local leaders have usually developed the best plan for their teams locally. Successful and vigilant local GM’s and HR leads have to be given more respect and leadership opportunities in 2022. 

  6. Hybrid Years: Hybrid work has divided everyone, it has highlighted many flaws in companies and management, especially leaders who rely on seeing their teams aka proximity bias and businesses not listening to their staff or customers. 

  7. Smarter Approaches: Many companies took a smart approach to reposition working hybrid and working remotely, Dropbox Studio approach looks at how to know the office is about collaboration but you don’t have to be in the office to be effective.

  8. Rethink Identity: Slack’s digital first identity is clever and future-leaning, it enables their teams to understand they will operate in a digital-first manner but also that it is the future they are seeing and co-building with their software businesses.

  9. TW&T Days? Many businesses started to state they were opting for three days a week hybrid schedules, unfortunately, this led to numerous issues, viral TikTok’s and having to retract numerous statements. Learn to listen, react and stipulate when you will be providing a safe environment and how you are expecting your people to act and perform in and out of the office environment.  

  10. Deliberate Actions Matter: “Being intentional is the ultimate integrity in leadership. It’s stating your values and intentions clearly, then putting your money where your mouth is” — Fidji Simo. CEO – Instacart, Instacart’s leader leading from the front and offering the way we should lead in 2021 and 2022 and agreed that President Carolyn Everson who joined Fidji from her previous company Facebook to leave for the best for both parties. Being open and understand that something is not working out for both parties early on is essential.

  11. Good Comms Wins Every Time: Internal communication is essential and setting up communications and expectations from moment one is imperative – Andy Jassy first memo is a masterpiece that is well worth the read.

  12. New World Of Work: Total commitment from your teams and leadership was always a non-negotiable, although across many businesses this is still a pillar of demands, there are smart business leaders who are seeing the signals and cutting through the noise of the great resignation and knowing that sitting on the fence is ok.

  13. 4 vs 5: Four Days A Week Vs Five Days A Week: Front app took a smart test to introduce flexible Friday’s, Front’s 4 days a week take, allowing their teams to work, take off and work on and off each Friday. When you are looking to help teams with burnout and consider how you rethink the work day and the structure of your work week.

  14. Mental Health Days & Weeks: Bumble allowed each team member to take off an extra week paid vacation this year, this was a move Airbnb have followed allowing each employee to be off from 22nd of December until the 3rd of January. We are likely to see more time off and forward-thinking businesses using mental health breaks as ways to help their staff but also recruit staff. 

  15. Calendar & Time Management: We are set to the same number of hours in a day, many senior executives allowed their calendar to be filled with meetings and did not audit and this behaviour filtered through businesses. One of the most popular newsletters this year was how to run a calendar audit and offered a framework to follow and apply a scoring matrix to get back many hours per week.

  16. PDP Vs 3×3 Matrix: Likewise, personal development plans have always been a struggle for managers to keep up with and influencer their team members to be proactively updating, this two up two across matrix was the most feedback newsletter of 2021.
  17. Manager Vs Director: HubSpot’s co-founder and CTO Dharmesh Shah rightly stated that doubling down on your strengths and not having to be a people leader is a smart move for your business. Leaders have to lead, whether that is with direct reports and being a good people manager (many just aren’t) or that’s directing the future of the company without having dotted lines and big lines of reports.
      
  18. Metawhat? The metaverse is a narrative big tech is trying to be associated with, even the likes of Microsoft went early and painted the Microsoft metaverse stake.
     
  19. Show You Know: Google’s it’s ok to manifesto highlighted how one company can get it so right and then so wrong within a matter of days. The Google it’s ok to manifesto is a good base to create your own (this manifesto was influenced from an old NHS manifesto).
     
  20. DNA Docs? There is a movement towards setting out the DNA of companies, sports clubs are creating DNA documents to set out expectations and the behaviours of the club. Many businesses are starting to learn again from the sports world and apply to their business.
  21. New Intelliegence? Many businesses are not set up to train and prepare their staff for the modern world of work, especially in a world of external review sites, social media posts being written up and embedded, PQ (political intelligence) might just be the skill businesses need to teach their leadership teams. 

Best of luck for 2022 and remember to take these good, bad and ugly lessons forward and share them with fellow leaders to ensure you have a successful 2022.