The EASY way to prioritise ANY list

In my experience, one of the things people in the business world find most challenging is how to prioritise.

Theoretically, it should be easy. In reality, it often ends up in confusion, unnecessary complication, and, worst of all, delays in getting things done.

So how can you prioritise you ‘to-do’ list easily?

Here’s a simple method:

  1. make a list of your ‘to-dos’
  2. number the list, in numerical order, top to bottom
  3. decide on one prioritising question. e.g.: which needs doing first?
  4. compare all of the items on the list with all of the others, see below
  5. best of all, it takes justa  couple of minutes!

How to compare every item on the list with each other

Let’s say there are 5 items on the list.

Start with item 1, and compare it with item 2, asking (e.g.) ‘which needs doing first, 1 or 2?’. Put a tick against whichever item ‘wins’.

Do the same again, comparing 1 with 3. Then 1 with 4. Then 1 with 5. Each time, put one tick against which item ‘wins’.

You have now compared item 1 with each of the others.

Now move to item 2, and compare it with item 3 (you do not not need to compare it with item 1 as you have already done so above), and add the relevant tick. then compare 2 with 4, then with 5.

Now move to item 3, and compare it with item 4 (you do not not need to compare it with items 1 or 2  as you have already done so above), and add the relevant tick. then compare 3 with 5.

Then compare 4 with 5.

List Prioritised!

You now have a list of 5 items, and the number of ticks against each quickly and easily shows you the priority – the more ticks, the higher the priority.

It’s then easy to rearrange the list in order of priority.

TIP: you may end up with one or more items on your list with no ticks at all. So, these are obviously of a lower priority when compared with the other items on your list. However, it may also be a sign that they might not have any priority for you at all (double-chek by adding them to a list of different items, or by using a different prioritising question).

To find out more about how professional coaching, mentoring and consulting can improve your productivity, thinking, and decision-making, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

The essential 21st century leadership tool: emotional intelligence (part 1)

This is the first article (of 3) looking at the contribution emotional intelligence (‘Ei’) makes to leadership.

No doubt, you will have heard the term ’emotional intelligence’?

What do you think it means? Here are some common responses:

  • does what it says on the tin?
  • trendy psycho-babble that will disappear as soon as the next trend comes along?
  • new neuroscience that is yet to be proven?
  • or something else?

Firstly, let’s look at a very common misunderstanding about Ei: that is it ‘new’.

Of course, humans have always had ’emotional intelligence’, but did you know that the roots of our current understanding of it and when it  was specifically identified date back to the work of Thorndike circa 1920?

That’s right! Our knowledge of emotional intelligence is almost 100 years old! Certainly not new!

The term ’emotional intelligence’ was certainly being regularly used in American academia in the 1960s, and it reached the world of popular science in the early 1980s. Since then, research and our understanding has continued apace, not least as shown by the plethora of books on the subject (not all of them good, I hasten to add!).

So, it’s probably been around longer than you thought, and our understanding of Ei has now reached the point where we can accurately measure it, we understand how to change it, and we know how to develop it in making those changes.

The really ‘good’ news is that Ei is something you can continuously develop.

But what is Ei?

Whilst it has many measurable component parts, here’s a summarised description:

“Emotional intelligence is the awareness and understanding of the relationship between our attitudes (thoughts), or feelings, and our behaviour, how they influence each other, and the impact they have on our relationships with ourselves and with others.”

To think of Ei in graphical form, see the image at the top of this post – trying to keep the three elements (thoughts, feelings, behaviour) balanced is where we should aim to be.

But, how does Ei apply to leadership in simple terms?

As this is the first article in this series, I’m going to briefly look at the ‘cornerstone’ of Ei: attitudes. Attitudes are the core ‘building blocks’ from which our Ei is ‘built’, supported and developed.

For a leader to be successful, from an emotionally intelligent standpoint, they need to have their attitudes in balance.

By this, I mean how well they understand and develop the regard they have for themselves (how they truly and accurately accept themselves ‘warts and all’), and how they keep it in balance with how ell they understand and develop the regard they have for others (how they truly and accurately accept others ‘warts and all’ without judging them or ‘colouring’ they opinions of them).

As you can see, this is an essential part of leadership as any leader needs to be able to understand themselves and in doing so develop an understanding of the other people they work with and are being asked to lead.

For more information, please try this further reading – my earlier blog  articles:

“So, just what is emotional intelligence? (part 1)”

“So, just what is emotional intelligence? (part 2)”

“Emotional intelligence Trump style: how much Ei does The Donald have?”

(based on the Ei Model developed by JCA Global Limited, and the book “Emotional Intelligence @Work” by Jolyon Maddocks)

To find out more about measuring and profiling Emotional Intelligence, particularly in developing leaders and managers, and in assessing your teams and recruitment needs, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

 

Do or delegate: making better decisions

If you commit to just one thing in 2017: make better decisions!

Making decisions, any decisions, is a habit.

Like all habits, the more we do it, the ‘better’ (theoretically, at least) we get at it.

Equally, when we get out of the habit, the quality of our decisions goes down.

But the worst thing we can do, especially in a leadership or management scenario, is not to make any decision at all. Indecision represents one of the greatest risks to any organisation.

But, what if it’s a bad decision? Surely, that’s worse than making no decision at all?

Nope! Definitely not!

A bad decision can be corrected. No decision results in emptiness, vagueness, and a complete lack of direction.

Because, that’s the main outcome from making decisions: direction.

Whether it be a new direction, a change of direction, continuing the existing direction, or bringing the current direction to a halt, it is fundamentally dependent on decisions.

Now, the vast majority of leaders and managers (and business owners) will experience regular challenges in their ability and willingness to make decisions.

So, here is a simple tip to help you keep your decision-making on track:

  • every time something arrives on your desk, adopt the simple motto “do, or delegate”.

Either deal with it yourself (the “do”), or give it to someone else (the “delegate”) with clear expectations of when you need it done by and what outcomes you expect. Do not just let it sit there, or put it aside!

So, remember, the best ‘first step’ to making better decisions is to make a decision!

Do, or delegate!

To find out more about how I work with my clients to improve their decision-making, and help them build better, stronger and more profitable businesses, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.

Emotional Intelligence Trump style: how much Ei does The Donald have?

Now, there’s a question!

For the purposes of this article, and to keep it reasonably short, I will just look at three high-level ‘balance’ scales:

  • Scale 1: the ‘Attitudes’ scale, which looks at the balance between one’s self regard (the degree with which you accept and value yourself “warts and all”), and one’s regard for others (the degree with which you accept and value others as people (“warts and all”), distinct from liking or approving of what they may do)
  • Scale 2: the ‘Feelings’ scale, which looks at the balance between one’s self awareness (the degree with which you are in touch with your physiology, feelings and intuitions), and one’s awareness of others (the degree with which you are in touch with the feelings of others), and
  • Scale 3: the ‘Behaviour’ scale, which looks at the balance between one’s self management (how you manage your thoughts and feelings with your own behaviour in your relationship with yourself), and one’s relationship management (how you manage your thoughts and feelings with your own behaviour in your relationships with others)

Obviously, any interpretation of Mr Trump’s Ei can only be based on what we learn from the diversity of media outputs. So, taking these scales in order, here is my interpretation with regard to The Donald…

Scale 1: the balance between self regard and regard for others

High self regard

Relatively lower regard for others (in some cases significantly so)

Overall then, he puts himself first, ahead of others, thinks more highly of himself than he does of some others (at least).

This may manifest itself in potentially forceful/dominant behaviour, or a desire to be so, with some issues around delivering genuine equality.

However, this could also indicate someone who likes to be (or at least be seen to be) the ‘leader’.

Scale 2: the balance between self awareness and awareness for others

I suspect that he would score highly on both self awareness and awareness of others, but this is less easy to identify as it seems masked by a desire to appear ‘strong’ and ‘forceful’, or even, dare I say, ‘presidential’?

Scale 3: the balance between self management and relationship management

Certainly, Mr Trump shows signs of high emotional resilience, how much he believes he is in charge of and takes responsibility for his life, how well he connects with people (how could he build such a vast business empire if he didn’t?), and how focused he is on achieving his goals.

I am far from convinced, however, that he demonstrates particularly high levels of flexibility towards changing situations (rather, he becomes more forceful in order to take him closer to his aims), or that he is particularly authentic at times

In terms of how he manages his relationships with others, from an Ei perspective, it seems he may deal with conflicts in a rather ‘robust’ manner (see scale 1 above), that he’s used to being interdependent when working with others…to a point, that the way he expresses and controls his emotions is rather good (and rather appropriate given the pugilistic nature of this year’s election campaign).

But does he have a balanced outlook, based on a balance between realistic optimism and pessimism? Perhaps, but it seems he is used to (or has at least learned the behaviour for) getting his own way, and therefore he may have high levels of optimism – perhaps a believer in ‘you make your own luck’?

It also seems that he trusts others…again, to a point, taking on the responsibility for the final and most valuable decisions himself.

 

To find out more about measuring and profiling Emotional Intelligence, particularly in developing leaders and managers, and in assessing your teams and recruitment needs, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2016. All rights reserved.

How did that happen? A winning strategy from Mr Trump!

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So, on the day before the US election Donald Trump was given a “1%” chance of winning.

The rest, as the oft-used phrase goes, is history.

But how did he do it? How did he pull off one of the greatest surprises in US election history? What were the key parts of his strategy that turned the odds so unexpectedly (and seemingly so suddenly) in his favour?

Actually, as with so many unexpected successes, it revolved around something we should all do more of when it comes to developing a successful strategy: research!

In Mr Trump’s case, his team’s research clearly determined three key opportunities for success:

  • the profiles of those who were most likely to vote for him in the battlefield states
  • the profiles of those (in the same regions) who would vote for him if he appealed directly to them, and
  • the issues that these groups valued the most (and therefore would be most likely to vote in support of)

Now, whether you agree with Mr Trump or not, and thanks to the way the Electoral College system works, it proved a winning strategy.

Once this data was collected, his campaign focused on delivering clear, simple and easily understood messages over, and over, and over again. They poured their resources into the things they knew (or, at least, could be reasonably sure of) would deliver the outcomes they sought.

The result?

Well, we all now know what happened next.

But what does this tell us about building a successful business strategy?

Three key things:

  • keep it clear and simple (remember the equation: simple + clear = effective) so that everyone understands it (and so can easily ‘buy in’ to it)
  • focus on a clear and defined end result that you’re aiming for (of course, making sure it is realistic), and
  • every step between where you are now and where you want to get to will require clear decisions to be made, so make sure you make them whenever they are needed

And, above all, make sure you do relevant research beforehand!

To find out more about how to build a successful strategy for your business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2016. All rights reserved.

Having your own executive coach: Congratulations! You’re so cool!

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Are you one of the growing number of executives, directors, and business owners who have their own dedicated professional coach?

You are?

Then congratulations! You are now officially ‘cool’! A visionary! Insightful!

Above all, you have dramatically increased your opportunity for on-going success…by around 400%!

Here’s a quick stat for you:

  • around 80% of those who engage a dedicated professional coach achieve greater success in business. Fact!
  • around 80% of those that don’t, don’t!

It’s true: if you have a responsible position in (particularly) a business organisation, whatever its size, you have will have taken a significant step towards assuring your and your business’s success by recruiting the services of a professional coach.

Much as having your own therapist became ‘the’ thing to have in business on the 1990s, here in the 21st century having your own dedicated executive coach is rapidly becoming a sign of how ‘cool’ you are, and a clear sign of your dedication to making the best of yourself and your opportunities. Yes, really!

Coaching, through working with a professionally qualified and experienced coach, will help you to establish the best solutions for you and your business – it’s an entirely bespoke service dedicated to meeting and exceeding your needs, at the time you need it, in the way you need it.

What is more, a professional coach should effectively pay for themselves through the benefits they facilitate.

Remember to be very careful how you choose your coach, though!

Always:

  • make sure they have achieved a good professional coaching qualification from a UK university or management school, or one of the respected providers of coaching qualifications (N.B.: many, many providers of ‘coaching qualifications’ are not providing genuine qualifications at all, and are almost always of poor quality)
  • check out their post-qualification experience. It will help you to establish that they have a proven ability
  • look for a coach who focuses on the topics you are seeking help with, and meet with them before making a decision – if you can’t work well together, you won’t reap the greatest benefits from coaching
  • if your ‘coach’ wants you to follow their prescribed ‘programme’, walk away (as they won’t be helping you establish the unique solutions you seek)!

After all, would you use an unqualified accountant? Or an unqualified solicitor? No! So, make sure your coach is qualified too.

To find out how professional coaching can make a difference to you and your business, please call me on 01242-672440, or click here to email me.

Worried about ‘Brexit’? Read this first!

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So Thursday 23 June, 2016 will certainly be remembered for at least one thing – the day the UK voted to leave the EU.

Now, since then I have had many calls from businesses of all sizes, who have been tying themselves in knots over what happens next, and convincing themselves they have to rush into ‘doing something’ because of the Referendum outcome.

Well, first of all, let’s look at the facts of what has happened since the result was announced:

  • the sun is still coming up in the mornings, the world is still turning, the grass is still green, and Wimbledon is still being held in the wettest two weeks of the British summer – no change there whatsoever!
  • yes, the stock and currency markets have been up and down like the proverbial yo-yo, but there are already signs they are stabilising, even rising, so things are nowhere near as bad here as was widely predicted – remember the markets have a tendency to seek an opportunity for profit ahead of reflecting economic reality
  • interest rates have not changed, neither have tax rates, nor have most of the other key fiscal influences of our economy

So, broadly speaking, things are just the same now as they were a month, or six months, or even a year ago.

As for the next few months, here’s a simple plan of action:

  1. DO NOT PANIC! This will only introduce significant risks where previously there were none
  2. contact your business advisers, coaches and mentors (you do have a business coach or mentor, don’t you?), and begin assessing the ‘big picture’, how it specifically affects you and your business (if at all), and begin planning for the next steps
  3. reassure your team, your suppliers and your customers that it really is ‘business as usual’ until we have the actual hard facts to prove otherwise

There you go – simple!

Keep calm and carry on, as the infamous poster says.

Still not sure what to do next?

Then please feel free to give me a call on 01242-672440, click here to email me.

© Adrian Malpass 2016. All rights reserved.

The BHS tale: are YOU the best person to run your business?

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So…one of the high street’s best known brands, BHS, is no more. 11,000 people have lost their jobs, with many more effected in supporting businesses, and the mutual dislike between those responsible for owning and running the company has become rather distasteful, to say the least, and aired in public.

The previous owner, the most recent owner, and the accountants and lawyers involved in the administration process seem to be the few that have received anything from this sorry mess. But so many have suffered unnecessarily.

So, what can we learn from this sorry tale?

For me, the most obvious lesson is the reminder that owning a business does not automatically mean you are the best person to be leading and running it. Far from it.

In fact, in my experience, this is an error that too many business owners make – often they are not the best people to be running their businesses.

Yet, they diligently risk their and their employees’ livelihoods, or, at least, they restrict the performance and stability of the business by persisting with the view that they should have the ‘top’ job.

To use a sporting analogy, what they’re effectively saying is, “It’s my bat and my ball. Therefore, I automatically make the best captain.”

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Think about it. Most business owners first started their companies because they’re either good at something, or they had a really good business idea. They didn’t start a business because they’re good at running businesses. (By the way, the single biggest reason for business failure in the UK is because of poor leadership and management…just as it was with BHS).

Why do you think so many highly successful businesses of all sizes aren’t led and run by the people that own them? (Of course, there are exceptions). For the simple reason that successful business leadership and management requires a very particular set of skills and experience.

Allowing someone else to run your business will also have one vital benefit (at least): it will allow you to do what you do best, which provides most benefit to the company (and, therefore, you), and is what is most likely to contribute to its future success.

If this short article does one thing, let it be that it encourages you to ask, “Am I the very best person possible to lead and run this business?”

But please don’t try to answer it on your own – you’re biased!

Ask it of all those around you, especially your employees, but also your friends, family, accountant, business adviser (you do have a business adviser, don’t you!)…and insist they give you their honest opinion and reasons.

Don’t be offended if they say you’re not the best person – trust me, it will be for the best in the end.

But, either way, act now with the information you have gained. It’s gold dust!

Good luck!

To find out more about how I can help you improve how your business is led and managed, and ensure it is more resilient and more profitable, please get in touch:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2016. All rights reserved.

What ‘science’ knows, and what business does, are not the same thing!

What science knows and what business does 190516 1

Now, this might all sound a bit illogical, but there is so much high quality and, importantly, highly relevant data freely available ‘out there’ to business people, that it seems strange, to say the least, that so much of it is completely ignored by them.

This is not a new, or recent trend, but is something that

Let me give you a few, very basic examples:

  • 80% of start-up SME owners have no experience of running a business.
  • 80% of SME business owners agree they “can run the business”.
  • 80% of business owners never, and I mean never undertake any business management or leadership skills development.
  • Yet 80% of SMEs close before they reach their 5th birthday (long-term average)*.

Spot the link?

(* = the average closure rate in the last ten years is slightly higher!)

(Sources: ONS, HMRC, The Economist)

 

On a similar theme:

  • 80% of start-up SMEs who work with a professional coach/mentor will successfully reach their fifth birthday.
  • 80% of those that don’t, won’t.

(Sources: ICF, EMCC, LSE, and others)

 

When it comes to communication:

  • At least two-thirds of business readers of SME websites just want to find the phone number.
  • If your contact number is a mobile or 08- number, two-thirds of website readers will go elsewhere before they contact you.
  • It is estimated that 30%-40% of website views will be on a mobile device by the end of 2016, and this is expected to peak at 80% by the end of 2019.
  • Approximately 40% of SME websites don’t even have their phone number on their homepage, and/or do not have it visible on ‘first view’ using a mobile device.
  • Over half of SMEs agree that their websites “don’t generate enough enquiries”.

(Sources: Google, ONS, LSE, DBIS, BT)

 

When it comes to how our decisions are influenced by the options we have:

In 2009, the eminent behavioural economist Dan Ariely conducted a study of 100 MIT students by asking them to choose one of the following newspaper subscription options:

Option 1: paper only subscription $59 (16% chose this option)

Option 2: web only subscription $125 (0%)

Option 3: print and web subscription $125 (84% chose this option)

Option 3 is most popular.

 

He then took away Option 2 and asked them to choose again. This time:

68% chose Option 1

32% chose Option 3

Note how the least popular option has become the most popular, and vice versa, simply because the list of options has changed.

How could this influence how you communicate with others?

 

He (and fellow MIT colleagues) also conducted a number of studies in the fields of motivation, including this one in 2003:

Three groups were given a selection of games that involved creativity, motor skills, and concentration.

They were each offered one of three levels of performance based rewards (low, medium, high).

The result?

When the task involved just mechanical skills, the rewards worked as expected.

However, when the task involved even rudimentary cognitive skill, a larger reward led to poorer performance. Yes, really!

However, when this same exercise was repeated in a remote village in India, people offered the medium level of reward did no better than those offered the lowest level of reward.

But, and this is a big ‘but’, those that were offered the highest level of reward….did worst of all!

In 8 of the 9 tasks in these experiments, higher incentives led to worse performance!

 

So, what science knows, and what business does are not the same thing.

The point I’m making is the same as that old adage: if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got.

  • If people want to contact you quickly and easily, make it easy for them to pick up the phone to you (remember using email takes twice as long as using the phone (source: Harvard Business Review)).
  • If one of your USPs is that you’re a local business, then make sure your phone number is identifiable as a local (not an 0845) number.
  • If you give people too many choices, one of the options may get zero responses, but it might also serve to help the reader to make a decision that is better for them and for you.
  • Take care how you incentivise your teams – higher performance doesn’t necessarily come from higher rewards.

 

To find out more about how science can help your business, and how I can help you build a better, more resilient and more profitable business, please get in touch:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2016. All rights reserved.

FACT: great leadership = business success. So, why is it so bad, so often?

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Over the last month, I have been looking, as I often do, into the relationship between leadership and success, reviewing recent research from the likes of The Economist, LSE, McKinsey, Harvard Business School, and others.

The outcome is that not only is leadership the single biggest contributor to business success (something I have been championing for years), but that far too many people in leadership positions either have no leadership skills, or no leadership experience, and rarely engage the expert assistance of a leadership coach or mentor, or all three!

In the UK, the single biggest reason for business failure, or a limitation to business success, is because those businesses are not led and run well enough.

Leadership skills and experience are rarely properly developed, and most businesses are created by people who either have a good idea, or are good at something – not by people who are good at running a business.

The result?

More than 7 out of 10 new businesses in the UK don’t survive until their fifth birthday (ONS figures). What is worse is that this statistic over the long term doesn’t seem to be improving, clearly showing that no matter how good you are at something, no matter how good a business idea you have, it’s the essential skills of leadership and management that are fundamentally the reasons for business success.

A opportunity for our education system, perhaps?

Yes, some business founders will develop these essential skills as their business grows. But, these are very much in the minority, meaning the majority struggle on with the risks that brings.

My experience tells me that most people would say they can run a business. Right up to the point where they realise they can’t! Of course, by then it’s often too late.

Also, it rarely makes sense for those with important sales- and profit-generating skills to be spending their time struggling with leadership and management issues.

I readily accept that there are many times when this is necessary. But beware! This can all too easily lull you into a false sense of security, and end up being the start of a very slippery slope.

So, what’s the solution?

Well, first of all, try to remember these three ‘golden rules’:

  • Stick to what you’re best at, and how you can benefit the business most (financially, operationally, etc). Owning the business does not mean you’re necessarily the best person to be running it!
  • Never hesitate to ask for help – a delay could be costly! There is a great deal of very high quality, great value help out there (coaches, mentors, consultants, advisers, etc). The benefits of finding one that’s a good match for you will easily outweigh the cost. Click here to check out my blog post about how to choose the best business coach for you.
  • Do or delegate! We all have a tendency to delay doing something just because it take us out of our comfort zone. So, whatever is in front of you, whatever arrives on your desk, either deal with it there and then, or delegate it to someone who will. Do not ignore it, or add it to the ‘do later’ pile!

Also, if leading and managing is not where your expertise lies, and for the time being it really is down to you, keep it simple. Simple works!

To help, here are a few key elements for you to work on, that will enhance your leadership effectiveness (and so your business success), no matter how experienced you are:

  • Always make clear decisions and let your team/colleagues know what they are, what you expect the benefits to be, who will be involved in implementing them, and the timescales
  • Keep your ‘door’ open to all, especially when there’s a problem. Part of your responsibility as a leader is to solve problems
  • Engage with everyone. Encourage them to let you know their views and concerns. You’ll become a better leader as a result
  • Make sure you don’t create obstacles, or over-complicate things. You’re there to do exactly the opposite!

To find out more about developing your business leadership and management, and the benefits of dedicated professional coaching and mentoring, please get in touch – I’m here to help.

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2016. All rights reserved.