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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 132 – 22 Leadership Lessons From 2022

Dear Leaders, every year I write a dedicated newsletter from lessons to take the year closing. This year is no different, with 22 lessons and lessons to learn from. 

The 22 are from conversations with company leaders, department leads struggling or parts of AMA or talks I have given to companies through 2022. 

Where there are free frameworks or supporting guides I have linked, so do click through, download and apply internally.  

Bad Practises 

  1. PR Not Leadership: Leadership PR became a political tool both externally and internally, with very few coming out looking good. Especially helping their internal teams with mass layoffs.
    > Lesson to learn: If you have been told to use spin and PR, learn how to use and when to use otherwise it will blow up in your face. 
  2. Bad Leadership 101: Elon Musk highlighted what is wrong with outdated management ideas and approaches. Elon might have numerous fanboys, however, he really isn’t helping his or big tech cause(s).
    > Lesson to learn: Understand what is really needed within your business and provide updates directly to the company and the teams. Any big changes needed to be communicated internally, especially with firing and hiring. 
  3. Professional Ghosting: Ghosting is a real issue within business and many defaults to ghosting because they are not trained to deliver bad news.
    > Lesson to learn: People do not forget bad behaviours, especially from brands they interact with. Deliver bad news or if you have no update you should keep people updated. 
  4. Leadership training or development is not happening: Many are finding leadership is getting harder and without coaching and support it is going to become harder and you will then have more reliance on HR.
    > Lesson to learn: Invest in yourself and spent dedicated time slots where you develop and train. Hire a coach (either yourself or through the business) and develop as a professional and as a manager. 
  5. Over-communication is not smart: Most are not using templates and frameworks to help others improve and keep communication flowing in the right direction.
    > Lesson to learn: Help everyone be smarter, help the teams to develop frameworks and share across the business, stop bad meetings early and have detailed agendas to help everyone align.
    Request my group meeting template here 
  6. Lack Of Effective Planning: Many business leaders this year have fed back that their planning has not been and is not effective and often is ignored by April. Effective planning and understanding of what strategy is and is not, is imperative. Strategy is understanding what you are not going to do and packaging strategy so everyone understands and uses as the compass is the difference between a list of tactics and tick box exercises and a strategy that departments (and the teams) can build their annual plans into.
    > Lesson to learn: Whatever your planning cycle is truly understand your beliefs, the bets you will make from your informed beliefs and build into pillars so these act as important navigation points when people feel like they need to challenge these. 

Hybrid Working 

  1. Same Office Same Bad Environment: The office is a place where most didn’t redesign, change or make a place for collaboration – this has led to default to bad behaviours and many not wanting to go into the office. 
    > Lesson to learn: Improve your office environment to produce the best environment to work in for everyone, tailor your office design for library rules, collaboration stations or areas and remove the friction of meeting rooms create. 
  2. “Proximity Is Power”: Proximity bias is still a real issue for many, particularly for middle managers and untrained managers who did not enjoy forced working from home.  
    > Lesson to learn: Embrace hybrid work, understand the cadence you need to check in with your team members and ensure you fully commit to the 1:2:1’s and look to book in sessions where you as the leader can meet up in person. An organised or arranged coffee together or grab a lunch together in person will help rather than forcing people into the office.  
  3. Old Habits Don’t Die: Conditioning runs deep, old habits beat out new habits as it was easier to conform than inform and improve work 
    > Lesson to learn: Create a list of old habits and new habits and review them as a leadership team and say which are rewarded behaviours and that are bad behaviours. Call these out and create leadership principles to take ownership and hold the leadership team accountable. 
  4. Hybrid Work For Most: Hybrid is a work in progress and most did not drive change when embracing hybrid work, many reporting it doesn’t work for them. Whereas the real issue is when there is a divide between those who go into the office and those who don’t regularly, you create a tiered system, this has to be removed and difficult choices will have to be made by the leader to embrace hybrid work or look to place in the structure.  
    > Lesson to learn: Remove the “them vs us” with hybrid work, you either have to embrace it and create structure and guidelines or you reduce it down and have firmer companywide guidelines. Those who decide you are 3 in +2 or 4 in +1  you will likely see this impact you when hiring and especially in core areas like Engineering, Product and Marketing. 
  5. Real Time Everything: Real-time work and meetings are default hindering time to get work done. This has created busy as a badge of honour and stolen hours of time and working time from colleagues. Especially those with pressing deadlines.
    > Lesson to learn: Remove the demand for attention to every meeting, remove having to work in real-time and in person and move to async work that enables more thoughtful work and collaboration across schedules and time zones.  
  6. Async Is Not Happening: Asynchronous work has been ignored by the majority of companies. For years many companies have struggled to invest in training to help move people towards writing documentation to help those around them, aysnc work and creating documentation is often a very different operating system. Many have become so accustomed to having working meetings they struggle to work more effectively within documents and canvasses.
    > Lesson to learn: Really audit your time in meetings and work out how much time you are wasting in real-time status updates and trying to force working sessions into meetings, this can be done async and have documentation to improve future campaigns and refer back to. They also will have the opportunity to run before-action review and after-action reviews, constantly improving work and approach to work. 
  7. Playbookless: There is no template or playbook for many companies to copy-and-paste with hybrid or remote first work so it became the wild west for many companies. Companies need to own hybrid to make it work for them. Assign an owner and build into company culture
    > Lesson to learn: Build out playbooks and templates for your people and teams to roll out and introduce cross-functionally, without this many will see essential work streams take longer and negatively impact the business 

Coaching 

  1. Confidence Low: Throughout my coaching, confidence is at an all-time low and many do not know what is going to work – this is something we can work on and have small wins to help rebuild. If you are a confidence low or dropped lately, find out what you can do to improve performance or ask for feedback on something you and your team have delivered that had a true impact 
    > Lesson to learn: Confidence changes throughout the year, especially towards the end of the year, work on positively influencing your own confidence and teams around you, and build up collective confidence with small wins and micro moments
  2. No Actual Strategy: Many Department leads do not know how to build a plan and connect it to the company goals. Many leads struggle to build a plan that sparks inspiration throughout the team, especially when pushed on why are we doing this. Build out your beliefs, bets and pillars, this will help your team to buy in and see a why when they are told performance is falling behind   
    > Lesson to learn: Not everything can be a strategy, not every department should have their own strategy, they should have their departmental and team plans that roll up into strategy not just a list of tactics
  3. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: Many CEOs struggle with repeating the same x pillars to keep the teams on track, and many struggle to be confident in their plan that flows through the organisation 
    > Lesson to learn: Each year and every quarter create a schedule to replay and repeat your strategic pillars and why they are important. Don’t wait for quarterly events, be a little ad-hoc, vary the channel of comms to enforce the message. When you are bored of being bored about repeating these, know you have to change the words to make this stick. If the teams cannot repeat it and make a little joke about it you aren’t doing it enough. 

Culture  

  1. Bad Behaviours = Culture: Bad behaviours have crept back into the office and hybrid work, especially in working sessions that are disguised as meetings; with no or bad agendas, no explanation of why this is a meeting, what success looks like etc  
    > Lesson to learn: Remove bad behaviours and roll out change with meeting agendas, tell people why they are part of meetings and what type of session or meeting this is.
    Request access to my personal guide 
  2. Remember Culture Never Stops Evolving: Many are finding out that Culture is always on, always evolving, not a workstream that has to be managed, understood regularly and checked in on   
    > Lesson to learn: Have a culture community manager, ideally away from HR that is trusted and can feel the change happening and helps to shape and reshape culture. 
  3. Bad Tech = Bad Progress: Many are defaulting to old and bad technology and are force fitting to work in old ways not finding better software for hosting workshops etc 
    > Lesson to learn: Stop blaming old tech and bad tech choices for force-fitting old behaviours into existing tools. It is time to review your tools and toolkits and either invest or remove bad use cases and bring in better tools for the jobs to be done. 
  4. Burnout Happening Everywhere: Burnout is a continuing theme many are not addressing and refuse to get to the root cause. Most leaders experience this more often than they realise and the negative impact is huge.  
    Lesson to learn: Stop making burnout something people do not know exists and stop relying on mental health apps. Burnout is a much bigger theme within all businesses, be smarter and get ahead by building programs around the triggers.
    > Learn from Burnout Coach Anish Hallan on addressing why mental health cannot be a perk and ways to address it 
  5. Misselling Perks Business: “Perk-based culture” has died for almost all companies and many haven’t attempted to address this and actually reconsidered what company culture is and is not
    > Lesson to learn: Although perks are an important part of differentiating many companies, perks = culture ideology has to stop and stop from being pushed from the HR and management teams. Learn to grow your company culture, look at how you can be different and better and grow up as a business as the perks as culture movement is going to limit companies progression and stop internal hiring referrals  
  6. Time Is Being Stolen: Time is precious, we are told this from a young age, yet many are struggling with time management and many leaders have influenced those around them that sitting in meetings is work and a good use of time. Meeting Recovery Syndrome (MRS) also impacts how time is spent or wasted post-meetings. The ripple effect is much bigger than people realise. Your time is your time, learn to time block or remove bad recurring meetings, poorly planned working sessions and over-emphasis in real-time status updates that only add value to one of the people joining the meeting. This also happens when people believe slack or teams chat is work 
    > Lesson to learn: Remove your time being added into your calendar that doesn’t have agendas, remove recurring meetings that add no value to you and the business and reduce other people’s frustration when you are not caught up with performance as you have not prepared or looked at their updates. Hint: If you want a new years resolution, you should consider scoring every meeting and understand how useful it was for you and the attendees. 

Thanks for reading again this year and I look forward to adding more value to your day every week.

Danny Denhard

Focus Frameworks to check out 

One Problem Two Solutions Framework – how to frame problems and pitch the solution and a backup solution 

Companywide Decision Document & Framework – how to explain decisions to the company and receive better questions on decisions made by leadership 

Get To Know Each Other Framework – struggling to get to truly know your team or colleagues, this will help set a base of questions and understand others’ triggers 

25 Meetings Recommendation – How to optimise and improve your meetings within your business 

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Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 116 – Go Back To Basics

Dear leaders, you would be surprised how many businesses are struggling with who they are, what they should be offering and why they should be offering their product or services. 

In recent weeks, I have spoken to a number of CEOs and Marketing leads and they are at a crossroads, unsure if they are in the right market, messaging the right way and actually adding value. 

Something I recommend all businesses to go through is a super simple six-question process. 

This is something I typically run through right at the beginning of workshops but in this current climate and the number of fears people have, here are the six questions you will want to visit and gain alignment over. This is particularly useful if you are due a long-range planning meeting or you have your annual operating plan meeting coming up. 

You would have seen iterations of these questions in popular business canvas, something to keep in mind, canvas are completed and then forgotten about, this is why you should record the decision-making process and then summarise at the end of the session (importantly remember to add this to your decision document

(And yes, these are deliberately simple to make you think and revisit your core fundamental beliefs and you have to answer these questions in order 1 down to 6) 

  1. Problems: What are the top 3 problems you are actually solving? 
  2. Needs Solving: Why are these problems solving your customer’s needs? 
  3. Customers: Who are the target customers? 
  4. Selling Problem Solves: How are you actually selling the problems you’re solving? 
  5. Unique: What are you uniquely offering? 
  6. Find: How are customers going to find or discover you? 

Something to keep in mind, these questions are deliberately simple questions to focus business leads, the more simple the questions are, the better the answers tend to be, the trick with this exercise is to ensure it fits on one a3 piece of paper and the document to act as a compass moving forward. 

So this week, your action plan: plan this session with your leadership team and even give the 6 questions a go and see where you land, if you cannot answer these questions I would suggest you really drive this session forward as quickly as possible (if not everyone can answer this the same way you have a real alignment issue)

Thanks and have a great week ahead, 

Danny Denhard

Essential Reading For The Week Ahead

Categories
hybrid office

Future Of Work Inspiration – Farming

Why Farming Is Working From Home / Hybrid Go To Example We Should Be Using

Farmers were one of the first and only industries that worked from home and then adopted hybrid work.

For thousands of years, farmers have been effective and operating in hyper-competitive markets.  
Alongside this, farming is a seasonal business, that can wipe their business in days. There are many more comparisons.

Farming is comparable to most office work and office reliant companies. 

Why? 

  • Ever-changing workforce / staff 
    • Full time, Temp and remote workers all are commonplace in farming
  • Working with local and international suppliers
    – similar to most businesses, their produce has to be sold internationally and across multiple timezones
  • Offering samples of products – 
    either in person or sending out to potential partners and reviewing together online or remotely
  • Covers all business areas and often has to pivot based on seasonal changes and demands from suppliers (like supermarkets). Farming covers all business types including:
    • B2B  
    • Wholesale
    • B2C
    • B2B2C
    • DTC
  • Have to leverage network effects
  • Have to drive and build Product, Marketing, Ops and Logistics 
  • Hybrid has been a default for years  
    • Finance often managed hybrid 
    • Analysis and analysts off-site are essential to improving performance and selling the right product
    • Collaboration (in the cloud)  
    • Management team meetings are often hosted remotely, particularly when investors are involved or international family members are part of the SMT
    • Growth plans are often collaborated asynchronously and discussed across zoom and video calls
    • Working on the road – Farmers have often had to work on the road and from anywhere, especially when working on their land or when commuting to partners and suppliers
  • Bot and human collaboration – farmers have trusted robots and automation for a generation and this is an area to ensure operational effectiveness and drive business scale and growth
  • Working with and trusting new technologies before mass adoption
    – new automation, new equipment, new forms of delivery, adopting drones and software. All areas where farming evolves faster than what many consider more advanced industries

All of these factors have helped farming to evolve with and ahead of the times. Next time you and your leadership team misunderstand hybrid work and moving with the demand, embrace the way of the farmer.

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Strategy

How To Present Annual Strategy & Leadership Vision

Every business has a variation of creating strategy and creating a vision for the company, everyone does this slightly differently, particularly in the hybrid work era.

The Rules Of Vision 

As previously written in the company vision cheatsheet, the vision is a ten-year top level achievable driver for the company, vision is what you will strive to become from successful strategic steps. 

You can revisit your Vision every 3 years. More revisiting means it is not a vision it is a tactics based strategy. 

Vision should be set by leadership and the supporting panel.

With the many options available in today’s work environment, there are a few steps to ensure you take to ensure the strategy or vision lands well.  

A/ You have to make the presenter comfortable, they have to know their content and be able to feel like they have landed their message the best way they can
 
B/ Ask for specific feedback and questions in set time frames to ensure you have covered those who have attended and those who were absent.

C/ Set guidelines of what is negotiable and timelines to review and drive these steps forward. 

A company vision is a great step and long term compass, however, the likelihood is the team needs to know they are co-pilots and there are steps they can drive forward with. 

The Most Effective Way To Land The Presentation 

Pre Record: 

  • I recommend pre-recording the video of the presentation (that way stick to a time schedule – 10-30 minute max) and taking the Q&A in real-time. 
  • Consider how you can add (cc) captions for those who may have disabilities
  • You can now embed videos within videos across PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides and Canva 
  • Ensure all links or reference points are linked to and available (HBR articles, big reports and articles are often behind paywalled and inaccessible) 
  • Allows team members to download the presentation deck to review after the presentation
  • You can also ensure the presentation is something people can watch back (for those who cannot attend or on annual leave etc)  

Call To Actions

  • Leverage the forms of tech available now and ensure you encourage engagement and CTA’s 
  • Leverage QR codes and links to create an open discussion. 

Connective Chairperson 

Consider a chairperson to ensure it is a true Q&A format with the “leader” and the team and then people can ask follow up questions and is managed away from the founder or CEO presenting. This step is important as they chairperson will be the bridge between the founder and the staff members. 

Tip: Something that works well is keeping a couple of pre-planned or “pre-approved” questions as many don’t want to be the first to ask a question and can spark conversation or create ideas in the team’s head.  

Tools To Leverage: 

  • Slido is easy to organise Q&A and can gain votes on questions. This covers introverts, extroverts and ambiverts. 
  • Chat Apps – If you use slack or teams you can leverage the anonymous bot and settings to ask questions or give feedback. 
  • Forms – Google forms can work but fails with threaded conversations. Microsoft forms are an option too however they can be
  • Spreadsheets – Some use Google Sheets or Excel to 
  • Consider votes – 
  • If you have a company wiki or internal knowledge centre ensure you record the event and post the presentation and Q&A to ensure it is accessible to all. 

Ensure Clarity

Many smaller companies and startups enjoy the open approach and ability to add specific emojis to reach or show support, however, these emojis and reactions are hard to interrupt and very often any follow up is not anonymous leading to some frustrations. 

Departments & Future Teamwork

Your company culture is a crucial element to consider and keep front of mind, especially when presenting a company strategy that many have not been involved in or if you have changed the company vision you will be painting a picture that could seem like a huge shift, businesses struggle with big change without a detailed plan they are can add into.  

Remember Vision & Strategy Are Very Different  

Vision and strategy are very different streams of work, it is imperative to ensure these two streams are clearly defined and the audience knows the difference and clearly shows how the strategy rolls up into a broader vision. 

No connection will cause a disconnect and ripple through the business. 

Timeframe 

Always offer 24 hours for those who like to digest the information and then come back to ask questions, this often enables smarter discussions and follow up workstreams. 

If you have not presented in this style before, expect it to land well quickly or be something many feel they will require time to digest and then come back with questions. 

Best of luck presenting your company vision and supporting company-wide strategy and remember to ask for feedback and insights to improve for the follow-up sessions. 

Essential Strategy Resources

Categories
hybrid office Leadership

The Future of Work – Is The Forced Return To The Office (3+ Days Per Week) A Modern Day Loyalty Test? 

Apple’s three day return to the office recently came under scrutiny when their Machine Learning lead Ian Goodfellow announced he was leaving Apple stating
“I believe strongly that more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team.”

The question many are not asking is, is this part of the company’s strategy to add control back or is it a test to work out whether hybrid can work?
Or is this part of a company-wide strategy to add more guardrails (less chance of interviewing, harder to organise interviews etc) to control the great resignation from impacting their business?

Apple is a notorious company for keeping projects secret and it is well documented their internal secrecy around new projects. Brand and products are a huge competitive advantage for Apple.

Is this really the reason for Apple’s non-flexible stance? Unlikely. 

There is often an argument and firm belief that the best talent leaves first, especially in a market that is weighted towards candidates. 

To be clear, this is not the first or last example of talented individuals leaving however it is the first that publicly suggested working styles and returning to the office is the main factor. 

We will see many more high calibre individuals leave for the same reason, whether they are in the same position to make this statement we will have to see. 

Loyalty Doesn’t Work Both Ways?  

Is this today’s CEO loyalty test, is it suggesting to employees this is the way you show your loyalty to the company by working within the office environment? 

Most likely yes, however, only certain companies would be brave enough to try this approach, Apple, Google and very few others have the brand equity, stock options and base salary to do this. 

Especially in a market where Uber, Meta and other previous powerhouses have hiring freezes and only backfilling essentials. 

With high wages being paid by cash-rich companies and from the web3 space, we are seeing a systemic shift towards flexible work and companies that understands the demands of modern work. 

Many businesses are allowing managers to set their own working schedules with their teams and in some rare situations at individual basis, this always comes under scrutiny, however, with most large businesses setting the tone for other businesses who blindly copy, the one rule of returning to the office three days per week, is likely causing cracks and creating sub cultures within your business. 

Google’s it’s ok manifesto received huge support across LinkedIn in 2021, however, Google has been clear about the move back to the office and its continued investment into the likes of London Kings Cross is clear their long term future is in person first. 

Rename Home To Workplace

Right now the best thing any business can do is rename home to workplace, remove the conditioned work that happens in the office and remove the pandemic PTSD around forced work from home is the same as working from home in a more open work world. 

The questions many are not answering: 

  • Is three days the right amount?
  • Why do we need teams in the office? 
  • How do we adapt our office for hybrid working?
  • Does collaboration actually happen effectively in person? 
  • When most work is in real-time (in meetings) and over zoom is being in the office offering the best work experience? 
  • How do we improve our hybrid tools
  • What is the best possible hybrid work experience? 

The other issue many are encountering has allowed poor management practices like internal policing from bad and middle management. Proximity bias is slowly killing companies inside out.   

Think Differently: 

Digital First & Work From Anywhere Movement

Airbnb has been bold to suggest in the US you can work from anywhere and your salary won’t be affected, is this a PR play or does the Airbnb management team truly believe they learnt enough and listened to feedback to suggest this is the best way to keep talent happy and attract talent. 

The answer is both, it is a PR play and it is a move the management team back, so the winners are those who want flexibility and those who believe in their vision of the future of work. 

In a recent Forbes interview, CEO Brian Chesky suggested Airbnb had over 800000 visitors to the career pages. Airbnb famously went over and above in 2020 for the teams they had to lay off and opened up their careers hub to help their employees find new work.   

Slack’s digital first approach is winning over many, it centre’s around enabling a change of thinking around what identity is within a business and in person is the old way of working. 

Twilio announced they are approaching work as a remote first company, potentially this way you can improve the way people interact and consider working from different workplaces like “home” and other offices.

Slack’s parent company Salesforce is now listing job roles by timezone, not by location emphasising the importance of flexible approaches. 

Dropbox has redesigned its offices and rethinking what in-person work looks like is a good reminder of what smaller companies are doing to improve work and stay competitive. 

Easy Question: Simply ask your teams why they used to work from home in 2018/2019/early 2020? 

It is most likely they worked from home to get their heads down and get their work done. 

If you couldn’t make the office environment work before 2020, you will struggle to make the office work in 2022 and beyond. 

It is time to rethink, reshape and rebalance the office/work environments. 

Other ways to consider reshaping work are to: consider satellite offices, hiring workspaces based on the commute of your employees, hiring workspaces based on the projects they are working on and moving to asynchronous work versus real-time work. 

Will 4 Days Per Week Work Better?

In the next hotly debated topic will a move to four day work weeks help? Unlikely, however, smart companies like front have tested and rethought what 4 days per week might look like and why flexible Fridays at Front are working.

4 days per week only work if you can work in a new constraint and have rethought what work works like and what success looks like in 4 days, not 5. 

Consider, is it 40 hours of work per week you can rethink rather than working a set 4 day week (like Wednesday are non-work days), as logistically this will be a much harder shift in mentality. 

The Future Of Work Is…

It is clear the future of work has evolved past even the smartest business operators and past the way many conditioned leaders can envision the future. The future of work is what we make of it, so make it better, make it flexible and create environments where output is valued more than location and hours worked. 

Supporting Resources To Help Make Smarter Decisions 

The A-Z Of Leadership in 2022

The importance of DNA documents and agreed principles

5 smart ways to rethink the work week 

Will a strict return to the office help my team get back together?  

How to handle back to back meetings?

How to rethink perks in hybrid work?

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 100 – 10 Lessons From 100 Leaders’ Letters

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

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

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

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

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

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

Other great helpful resources 

Be Inspired By Others 

Jeff Bezos’s business lessons 

7 business rules from Elon Musk

Stripe’s communication masterclass

Think Differently 

Time for a performance panel

Annual strategy playbook template

Two up two across framework for career development

Categories
Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 98 – Why Do Some People Have Vision And Others Don’t

Dear leaders, in letter 3 future seers I discuss embracing those who can see the future and have the rare ability to understand where the future is going. 

In many recent conversations and hosting coaching sessions, I have been asked about professionals who have ‘vision’ and those who don’t. 

There is not an exact formula for those with vision and those without, however, I have listed out the skills and abilities I have experienced with those with vision and those lacking vision. 

Subject matter knowledge, not expertise

Most colleagues and leaders with vision have subject matter knowledge, they understand the vertical or matter but do not have to be experts and often this is what helps them not be constrained or have bias through too much experience or expertise. 

Understand how the market operates

Many understand how the business of their market works and how their rivals make money. You don’t have to know down to the processing fees or salary breakdown but understanding the economics of the market and the factors involved helps to shape some thoughts and build a plan. 

Product direction

For me, this is what separates those with vision and those looking to shape the near future. Product is hard, understanding product nuisances and where the products within your market are going is a trait that very few have and can envision. The real vision here is to know the products are likely to be shaped in a way that you can lead or you can follow. 

Themes

Many understand what is a trend and what is going to be a (longer) theme. This who chase trends very often highlight they do not see long term. 

Understand the gaps

Gaps are generally opportunities or weaknesses to exploit, understanding gaps within the market and then what are routes to build a wedge becomes essential. 

Gaps ➡️ Wedges

Following on from gaps, those with vision know how to build a wedge within a competitor’s gap and build out to create a large opportunity and start to make or take market share.  

Storytell with words or imagery

It’s not just the way to have a vision, the best at vision are those who can sell with words or by imagery, by painting a picture of the future others can then see the same or similar picture and want to join 

Ability to envision the future

This is a rare ability to not only see a future state but a way to envision it and the steps you need to take not just a big idea from an aha moment. 

Knowing a timeline and time matters

Those with vision know that timing matters and know how important a timeline is to create and deliver on the vision

Chance and Change

Understand there is a chance to build something. Or a chance to make a change or change something to make a bigger impact. Often starting small to take a chance to make that change. 

Risk & Reward

Those with vision are not blinded that there will be an associate risk to the upside and the reward of this bigger vision. 

More isn’t vision

The smartest people with vision know that more is not the answer, it’s unlikely just to sell more, just to build more or to just rely on optimisation. 

How do you stack up? How do your colleagues stack up? Does the founder or CEO of your business show these elements to prove they have vision? I hope so. 

This week consider how you can develop some of these skills and share your vision. 

Thanks,

Danny Denhard

Essential Follow Up Materials

The Strategy Cheatsheet

The Difference Between Mission, Vision, Strategy & Tactics

Your Business Moat Is Infected

Stripe’s Inspiring Vision (Aka The Stripe 2021 Letter)

Can You Confidently Say What 2027 Looks Like?

What Is TikTok Competitive Advantage? Executing Its Vision

What is the metaverse?

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.

Categories
Strategy

Annual Playbook Template For Company-Wide Success

Every year businesses set up their teams to fail by asking them to build their action plan or playbook for the year ahead.

Why? Because often it is no one’s specific job to own or the owner has only ever done it one way in this business and do not know the ingredients to list on their recipe, aka the right template for the company strategy.

Remember how the best companies win is by having one company-wide strategy, not departmental strategies.

Time For The New Template

Without specific guidance or a template every department across a business does it differently, they rarely collaborate and the business then has 5-10 different departments with different formats making it nearly impossible to understand what the teams are doing and why their actions are important.

OKR’s Fail

Many companies have moved to the OKR model, OKR’s work for some, however, OKR’s do not go into the how or generally the why, this creates frictions at KR levels and individuals are faced with the choice of selecting the company or team OKR or having to select their own KR to hit their targets.

This quickly impacts company culture and introduces “me before we” – individuals putting themselves first before their team, department and the company.

This is just one way the system does not enable you to support your team with the right template and creates instant friction from the start of the year.

7 Step Template

This year I wanted to create a free 7 step template for you and your teams to use and help to shape the year ahead for success and provide a chance to present to each other to enable each department to understand the actions you are going to be taking and the demands on that team.

There are two templates available for you to scroll through and then download for free.

To download once in the Google interface, go to:

File >> Download >> Select your format to download.

The Free Strategy Templates

Docs Template

Slides Template

If you are struggling to build your company strategy get in touch below.

Or read these essential guides to strategy

This is essential reading for company strategy
Essential reading for those struggling with how to build long term plans
Find out what your business should operate as, a partner, a platform or the piping
The common mistakes businesses make when becoming successful, fighting internal politics and internal problems not the customer problems
Imperative for those who have a struggle with different levels of the company and why the company is evolving
Considering rethinking how you operate, considering a 4 day work week or getting pressure to move to full time hybrid, this guide are for you
The complete free hybrid work guide
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

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