By Paul Latham
We believe that 80% of straightforward, no nonsense, strategic advice can be summed up in just 6 Key Areas of Business Advice.
In this series we have previously covered:
Part 1. Add-Value? – More Efficient? – Separate?
Part 2. Only 4 Ways to Grow a Business
Part 3. 7 Areas of Business Waste & Inefficiency
Part 4. Are you Using the Right Resources?
Part 5. What you can Measure you can Manage
In Part 6 of this 6 part series of blogs – we are concentrating on the team. Remember – “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
In Part 4 – we said that the shift towards “intangible resources” represented the biggest single business change in terms of business strategic advice in the last quarter century. Similarly, in the same period, we believe that the shifting approach to the area of team and culture represents the second biggest change in business advice.
There was a time – in the 20th Century – when the business was managed through the organization chart. We usually had a “command & control” business. The business owner decided what they wanted to do – gave instructions to the team – the team “saluted” and said “yes sir” – and the team dutifully did as they were told.
Today – in the 21st Century – the influence of the organization chart is much reduced – and the most profitable and successful businesses are “collaborative”. Teams metaphorically “make decisions in the huddle”. Team members are no longer happy to be “told what to do” – they want to be engaged – they want to know why the business matters – and why their job matters.
For a business to be successful the business owner needs to work on ensuring that the team are predominantly actively engaged – rather than moderately engaged or disengaged.
If a business owner can engage their team – they can leverage their potential – they can grow profits significantly (research shows by about 13%) and build business value.
To do so, business owners need to change their traditional thinking – adopt a 21st Century leadership style – consistently applied by their management team – and concentrate on the 4 Key Leadership “Weapons”.
The business owner needs to establish Context. That means providing direction to the team so that they understand:
- The Purpose – Why does the business matter?
- The Vision – Where are we going and what will it look like?
- The Plan – How are we going to get there? What do I have to do?
Context does not mean using typical platitudes like – “we aim to be best blah blah blah” – these are meaningless platitudes to most team members and serve only to disengage.
Context requires leaders to provide the full picture. It means providing direction with confidence. It allows the team to subsequently say – “No, we are going in the wrong direction – it’s not that way it’s this way”.
Context means building from the future backwards. If the leader and the team know where they are ultimately going anyone can subsequently direct – “we are going this way- it will be great”.
Without values an organization has no “moral compass”. The team will struggle to know the difference between right and wrong.
Values provide a constant reference point. They help the team to understand the “rules of the game”. Sometimes it may be okay to “bend the rules”, empowering people to make decisions and innovate – but clear values will make it very clear where “bending the rules” is absolutely not allowed.
Values are a really important part of establishing a clear and consistent business culture. Values never change, whilst business culture can evolve over time.
The business owner must establish trust – or collaboration becomes impossible.
Trust allows business leaders to build a clear “business DNA”.
- We value business progress rather than “idea ownership”
- We value transparency and openness
- We are accessible to the team for help
- We value effort and will provide the benefit of the doubt
- We will build trust
Business owners need to openly encourage collaboration and in so doing they can harness the disparate talents and potential of their team.
4.Momentum & Action
Without momentum the business will stall. Momentum is essential to provide the “fuel” for action and stimulate team desire.
Leaders need to encourage constant action. Make fast decisions and move on. Make small gains very day. Don’t slow down in the quest for perfection. Don’t try to generate momentum from a standing start – keep moving!
If business owners can embrace the 4 “weapons” of leadership – they can build a “Navy Seal” Culture amongst the team. A culture where the team:
- Know the mission
- Know what they are doing is right
- Know they have each others back
- Know they will get the job done
Are you following the guiding principles of culture eats strategy for breakfast? It’s a key question if you want to engage your people and harness the talents of the team. If you can create that business culture, growing business profits and business value will follow – and will dramatically increase your chances of Maximizing Business Potential.