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True talent shapes business - True knowledge finds it

Written by Colin Thompson on 26 February 2016.

Tips for improving business survival and success

In order to be ready to lead a growing company, you need to have the foundations in place. Just as a house or a factory needs to be built on solid foundations, so do business leaders. Business leaders seldom arrive fully formed. They learn that leadership has at least three levels:

  • Leadership of self
  • Leadership of teams
  • Leadership of businesses

Leadership of self
In my view, personal leadership comes from taking responsibility for your own development and behaviour and most importantly, from taking action. Action is the step that achievers take and dreamers do not. Once you have begun a course of action, it often seems that the resources you need have a habit of turning up just as you need them.

Our beliefs may provide the impetus to take us forward into action but just as often (if not more often) it is our beliefs that hold us back. Limiting beliefs lead to limited action and limited action leads to a lack of achievement. Coaches often ask the question, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Too often we look at action from the opposite point of view – we expect to fail and therefore never try.

Goals are very useful in this context, so long as they are SMART, that is they are `Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Based`. The more you work on each aspect of the goal, especially on being realistic and setting target dates for each goal, the more you will begin to develop a winning habit of making and delivering goals. They must also be consistent with your own values if you are to commit fully to them and to go on and achieve them.

The consistency comes from your own inner compass and allies with the values that are central to your own spiritual values. These are moral and human values, sometimes but not always derived from religion. Operating at odds to these deeply held values can lead to stress and, in the long term, to failure.
Self-leadership is a continuing process and is unlikely ever to be complete in your lifetime. So achieving perfection at this level before moving on is not an option.

Leadership of People and team
Teams are an essential element of leadership in business. Without them, little that is worthwhile can be done. So, armed with your own direction and goals, you can begin to build your extended team, finding the right people to perform roles that complement your own skills and, thus, extending the capability of the unit over the individual. Not everyone in your team will be directly employed by you, indeed in today’s business very few may be direct employees. Thus communication and motivation are important elements in creating a high performance team. Recognising the style of leadership needed by each individual, in each situation, is also a key skill and one that is never fully learned in my view. Getting the most out of the team needs clarity of goals, acceptance of input and clear decision making.

As the team leader, one of your roles is to provide the inspiration that helps the team to overcome adversity. Communication is crucial and making the most of meetings, whether with individuals, groups or the whole team, is vital. The more that team members feel responsible for their element of the outcome and for the overall performance of the team, the more likely it is that the team will achieve their outcomes.

For a developing leader, and which of us isn’t developing, achievement is crucial, though there is likely to be failure, too, in the journey to business leadership. How you handle failure as well as success will be important in determining where the journey ends. Learning from our failures creates resilience and character.

Leadership of Businesses
When an entrepreneur sets up a business, the team may be small and easy to control. As the business grows, there will be a time when the team becomes too large to manage as a single entity and the business becomes a team of teams. The bigger it grows, the more teams there are within the business.

They may become divisions and even business entities in themselves. The business now has many leaders at many levels within it. Someone, however, carries the responsibility for leading the whole business and is accountable to shareholders, to staff and to customers for the performance and ethics of the business.
When things get complex, decisions taken within the business can have major, often unforeseen, effects on other areas.

Getting the chain of decision making right is the responsibility of the leader. Decisions need to be delegated to the appropriate level within the business, with clear procedures for escalation and with controls in place to ensure that any likely issues (problems) can be identified and mitigated. While the design of such systems is the day-to-day role of operational team members or consultants, it is the leader’s responsibility. Leading a large and complex organisation requires the ability to understand issues across the operation of the whole business and being able to make sound decisions based on that information.

Developing business leaders who can aspire to reach this top level whilst still remaining human and true to their own internal values, is the purpose and passion that motivates me and keeps me striving to improve my own performance.

What is your purpose and passion?

Colin Thompson
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The Cavendish Academy

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