Category Archives: Knowledge

Business Alphabet: A is for…(Core) Attitude

(from my b³ newsletter June 2013)

Our success at building relationships is closely related to our attitude towards ourselves and towards others. These need to be in balance: accepting and valuing yourself (‘warts and all’) equally with how much you accept and value others in the key.

This doesn’t mean you have to like or agree with what others do or say, but when you can accept them ‘as they are’ and engage with them on an ‘equal’ basis your chance of building an effective, productive relationship is much, much higher.

So watch out for what that inner voice might be saying (in Coaching terms, we call it a ‘Gremlin’) and learn to turn it off if you need to!

Leadership: Better Today, Even Better Tomorrow

Every leader typically will have a number of tips that are similar to others, and many more that are very different.

No wonder excellence in leadership is such a challenging target.

As you might expect, there are many articles written, podcasts made, and websites built that are full of these hints and tips. But with leadership being such a vital skill for success, whether you run a brand new single-person start-up, or are head of a FTSE100 multi-national, sorting the proverbial ‘wheat’ from the ‘chaff’ can create more confusion that it’s worth.

So here are a few simple tips that I have found very useful, and links to a couple of easy-reading online articles that might be of interest:

  • practice your leadership skills – both of yourself and others – every day. Remember to reflect on your successes and difficulties, learn from them and try again
  • communicate, communicate, communicate. Your communication can always get better, and it’s a vital skill
  • clearly understand your ‘big picture’ and communicate it to all. Review and update it regularly
  • make decisions. Decisions that don’t work out can be corrected. Dithering, and delaying decisions helps no-one
  • ensure every decision achieves commitment from those it effects
  • clearly establish the actions associated with every decision – who has committed to doing what, and when
  • set out to achieve excellence in everything you do – it’s another of those things that has ‘no finish line’

Leadership for Introverts, part 1

The best kept ‘secret’ in business?

I’d like to bring up the oft-ignored topic of leadership. Specifically, leadership for introverts.

There’s a well-kept ‘secret’ in the business world: introverts make really great leaders too!

Did you know that over half of the adult UK population are ‘introverts’ according to Karl Jung’s definition?

First things first: being an introvert and being shy are very different things. Introverts can often be spotted among crowds of people, at a party, and giving talks to large audiences (yes, many of the introverts I know happily do this). How can you spot them? Easy! Just look for the ones who tend to be talking to one or two people at a time, who happily sit with a cup of tea and a book, and those who seem refreshed after some ‘quiet time’.

Introverts tend to be great listeners, thoughtful, and noted for their considered and balanced decision making.

So what about taking on a leadership role if you’re an introvert? There is a perception that people with extrovert characteristics (outgoing, highly social, quick at making decisions, etc) make the best leaders. Wrong! Both introverts and extroverts make excellent leaders – it fundamentally depends on the working environment and how that leadership is facilitated in the workplace.

Think of making leadership decisions (as that is vital for successful leadership) as connecting two points – where you are now, and the destination where your decisions need to take you. How the line that connects the two looks is likely to be very different depending whether it’s an introvert or an extrovert making those decisions: both introverts and extroverts are just as likely as each other to make the same final decision in the same timescale. However, typically speaking, an extrovert is likely to make many quick decisions along the way, while an introvert is more likely to take a step back, consider all of the information collectively and make many fewer decisions.

This is just one example of how introverts can make just as good leaders as extroverts (although, in my experience, introverts often make slightly better leaders). If you’re keen to understand more about this valuable topic, I have created two social media pages specifically about it: click here for the Facebook page or the Google+ page.

Watch Out for the Holiday Blues in Your Business!

As I write this, there’s still another couple of weeks of the school holidays left, plus the following few weeks when there will still be many going on holiday.

However, despite this ‘holiday season’ coming around every year, a vast majority of businesses have their daily operations severely disrupted, and often even put at risk, simply because they haven’t thought ahead and carried out a little planning and management.

So here are a few tips:

  • Plan ahead to avoid payment delays. Remember that when staff are away, customers will be too. So managing your cashflow is critical.
  • Ensure supplier invoices are paid on time or you could damage your credit rating and limit your access to supplies on credit.
  • Make sure enough authorised signatories for BACS payments are still at work throughout the holiday period. The same applies with cheque signatories (if you still use them).
  • Make sure that staff complete a proper handover, and in good time, to cover their holiday absence. Particularly ensure those involved in raising sales invoices and chasing customers payments must properly brief the staff standing in for them; especially on any payment commitments already made by customers. They must also be aware how to follow up customer invoice queries so that disputes are resolved quickly.
  • Make sure that suppliers and customers are aware of any alternative holiday period contacts to ensure a smooth handover, and ensure those standing-in have access to a list of supplier and customer contact details.
  • Make sure recording and forecasting cash flow is maintained maintained if accunting staff are away.
  • Debrief people on their return to ensure they’re back up to speed as soon as possible.

To see all headline articles from previous editions of my b³ newlsetter, please click here.

They’re Flat on the Bottom for a Reason!

The importance of keeping ‘grounded’ should not be underestimated…

Staying ‘grounded’. Its a phrase most of us have some understanding of what it means, but how many of us actually make the effort to work out just how ‘grounded’ we really are?

For me, working in the fields of professional executive coaching, mentoring and consulting is one continuous learning experience (no pun intended). It also tends to pull you in all sort of different directions, often at the same time. Occasionally, perhaps after a particularly crazy month or two, I am left with a sensation of ‘looseness’ – that my ‘grounding’ has come unstuck.

In coaching, a professional coach has a responsibility to the client to retain neutrality and I have found that the better my ‘grounding’, the easier it is to maintain and deliver that neutrality to the highest quality.

As for how I keep my ‘grounding’ or even ‘re-ground’ myself, I find that asking myself some reflective, challenging questions works for me (I guess it’s the coach in me coming out). Perhaps they might work for you too?

So, below are some of the questions that I make sure I answer (obviously, you can add your own too).

Here we go (not in any particular order):

What is the likely outcome of my current focus?

How am I?

What am I doing to support my core values?

What, that is completely within my influence, should I change and how?

What am I responsible for and to whom?

How open am I being to the questions the universe is asking of me, and how am I responding?

What positive contribution(s) have I made today/this week/etc?

If I re-ran today/this week/etc, what would I change?

What have I learnt from today/this week/etc?

How do I know (for sure) who I really am?

Obviously, there could be many, many more!

So, you see it’s not just those things on the end of your legs that help keep you grounded.

Although, your feet really are flat on the bottom for a reason!

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2014-2017. All rights reserved.

Tune-Up Your Thinking – 5 Books

If you work anywhere near the fields of coaching and mentoring, or even if you just have a passing interest in them, then you probably appreciate the importance of not just facilitating developing your client’s thinking, but also your own.

Here are five books that have had interesting influences on my own thinking – and they’re not necessarily about thinking!

If you decide to give any of these a go, please let me know what you think.

As always, this is just a list of some of the books that have helped my thinking – there are many, many others, and if you have any favourites, please feel free to add them through the comments box below.

Happy reading!

  • Think! Before It’s Too Late – Edward de Bono, this book helps you to think about thinking, particularly how historical influences have guided our thinking today, and what we can learn about how to change it
  • Wikinomics – Don Tapscott, Anthony D. Williams, in this social media world, this helps us to consider and understand the influence and changes that mass collaboration can have.
  • How To Have Creative Ideas – Edward de Bono, a great fun book, full of exercises to develop how your creativity works, and, importantly, how to make it effective
  • How To Be Brilliant – Michael Heppell, this book is another and, in many ways, different view on changing your ways (or when you are working with clients to change theirs). Particularly, it focusses on how to do these quickly, economically and with fun
  • How To Have A Beautiful Mind – Edward de Bono, yes, I know, de Bono yet again! This is one of my favourite books of his. It closely works on how to develop your thinking to be ‘irresistible’ – a great ‘rapport building’ contribution

To return to my main website, please click here.

Positive Thinking – It’s Easy! Really!

OK, I know, I know.

I bang on and on about it, don’t I?

Endlessly even!

People who know me will no doubt agree, and be rolling their eyes skywards!

Yes, I’m often heard extolling the virtues of positive thinking.

But does it really work? Or is it mumbo-jumbo?

OK – here’s something to think about:

How many people do you know who take a positive attitude towards everything, or at least almost everything, they do? How often do they succeed in whatever they set out to do?

Have you noticed that whether they succeed or fail, they rarely become negative or indecisive or ‘down’ – or, if they do, it isn’t for long?

How many successful people do you know, or know of? How many of these show that they think positively?

How much do they all seem to enjoy life?

Positive thinking really does make a substantial contribution to how people conduct themselves, the decisions they make, and the way their lives turn out.

But how?

Surely it’s not just about ‘thinking’, is it?

How much effort does it take?

Thankfully, successful positive thinking is actually quite simple and takes just enough effort to change your thinking habits – it really is that easy! That’s all!

Firstly, let’s explain how it works….

If you have something you want or need to do, what is your attitude towards doing it? Good/positive/enthusiastic, or poor/negative/can’t be bothered/I’ll do it later?

Don’t worry, we all have our good days and not-so-good days!

When you set yourself a target, whatever it is, and however much you’re interested in it (or not!), you’re actually starting up the opportunity for your own positive thinking. How you choose to move forward from there is the simple key to a successful and satisfying outcome.

Even better, if you really, genuinely, completely ‘buy in’ to achieving a target, you’re already moving forward.

By being positive and committed towards something, you automatically start to change the way you think. The more positive/committed you are, the more substantial and, potentially, more permanent the change.

Because your focus has moved to a particular target, you automatically start to change what you do, the decisions you make and the information and people you seek out to move closer to that target.

The closer you get, the more you do it – simple! Importantly, the more you do it, the less effort it takes too!

But the first step is to change your thinking habits.

Try this exercise – for the next week, wear your watch on your other wrist. Next week change it back. The week after change it back again. After a few weeks, you’ll automatically look at whichever wrist has the watch on it automatically, and what you will have done is change your thinking.

So, in terms of creating and keeping a positive pattern in your thinking, try changing your thinking habits by asking yourself a few simple questions whenever you have a target to meet.

For example:

  • What will it be like as you take the steps towards your target?
  • Visualise this in as much detail as you can : How you will feel? What sights, sounds and smells will be part of getting there? What other people might think or say (if that’s important to you)?
  • How will you feel when you achieve the target?

(Obviously, you can add your own motivating/enquiring questions)

Be as detailed as you can – take particular note of all of the elements that energise you and return to these regularly, and especially important when you get moments of poor motivation.

Identify key milestones along the way – this is easier for bigger/more time consuming targets, but the principle is always the same – and give yourself a pat on the back for achieving each and every one.

Once you have been through this a few times, your thinking will automatically sort it all out for you without you having to think it through as a conscious effort.

Keep your thinking positive, understand where you’re going and what you’re aiming to achieve, and before long, no matter what those around you or the good old British weather is like, you’ll feel happier and achieve more – you may well even be healthier too!

Above all, remember that this is a choice.

Your choice!

To make your thinking more positive, achieve more, and enjoy your life more…….or not!

Good luck!

To return to my main website, please click here.

Customer Connected….Or Not!

Soap box time! (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)

How many organisations, especially the ones we all have to deal with (e.g.: utilities, local councils, etc), just can’t wait to tell us how good their customer service is?

Or should that be how good they think their customer service is?

In reality, just how good is it?

Achieveing genuine execellence in the field of customer service is only as difficult as you want to make it.

It may be an old, and well-worn adage, but little things really do make the difference. Solid, simple, clear thinking is also vital to success – one of the easiest things to do, and yet is so often not done!

Remember K.I.S.S.? Keep ISimple (Stupid)!

Within the last few weeks, an associate and I have been spurred on to create a new attitudes, behaviours and skills development programme simply called ‘Customer Connected’ – driven by our collective, and frequent poor experiences, as customers, when dealing with all sorts of organisations.

Here’s an example of poor service I received recently:

A year ago, I signed up for the best dual fuel energy deal I could find. At the time, the well known energy provider made it quite clear that the deal would expire on 31 July 2010. Fair enough.

Last week, I received a letter from said energy provider reminding me that my current deal was about to expire – thanks for the reminder, well done.

The same letter also advised me that my supply of gas and electricity was being moved to their standard, most expensive tariff – no details of what other deals are available whatsoever! Bad move on the customer service front! Very bad!

Important: the energy provider failed the simplicity test – as one deal runs out, letting the customer know of the best deal they can provide, rather than the worst deal they can provide, takes exactly the same amount of effort.

So, I checked the energy provider’s website, only to find that there is a much better deal available (which actually turns out to be the best deal for me, whatever the provider) – by this time I, as a customer, am becoming increasingly unimpressed!

The website only allows new customers to sign up for the deal – the implication here is that it isn’t available to existing customers. At this point, that little voice in my head says, “Well, we’ll just have to see about that, won’t we?”. By now, again as a customer, I’m pretty miffed to put it mildly!

So I grab the phone. After 3 minutes of being bounced around in a telephonic abyss, I eventually get to speak to a real human being. Well, when I say ‘real’….!

To cut this story short, it turns out that the ‘best’ deal is actually available to existing customers too!!! Great. Why doesn’t your website and your letter say that?

Another addition to my poor customer experience!

Can it be organised there and then? Yes. Great! At last!

So, what infathomable reasons are there for me being forced to experience these instances of poor customer service when providing all of the information in the letter would have made me a happy customer straightaway?

Goodness knows what the real answers are to that question, but, in essence, they missed a major opportunity to deliver great service.

Somebody, somewhere in that organisation approved the letter, designed the website, purchased and configured the telephone system, and employed the myriad of customer ‘service’ personnel – all of which costs (more) money!

Or, to put it another way, adds cost to the business. These costs have to be recovered through the (higher) charges to customers.

So, if the original letter had simply advised me of being moved to their best deal, instead of their worst deal, some of those additional costs could be avoided, allowing lower charges for customers and, most importantly of all, very happy customers. (If they can move me to their worst deal by just writing to me, then they can just as easily move me to their best deal!)

The lesson from all this? Whatever the amount your customer spends with you, however much interaction you have with them, and however valuable they are to you and your business, keeping them happy really isn’t that difficult!

For some reason, there has become a desire to take something simple and make it as complicated as we possibly can.

If you really value keeping your customers happy – please, please, please don’t do it!

To return to my main website, please click here.

‘Tip’ Your Business….Towards Success!

Ever noticed how sometimes, just sometimes, something takes off?

And I mean really takes off?

Such as Twitter or Foursquare or Hush Puppies or Sesame Street or Air Travel and so on, and on, and on?

But what makes these, generally unlikely products or services ‘tip’ into a position of such popularity and success?

What do they all have in common?

What qualities brought about their dramatic rise to popular use and acceptance?

Strangely enough, they really do all have some common characteristics.

If ever you have read the classic book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, you will already be making the connections.

Consider these three characteristics and see if you can identify them in the examples I have given above:

  • The original idea was contagious – it was ‘catchy’, something new or distinctly different in its market place, or it created a whole new market or area of interest by itself, such that it caught on with many, even if those interested parties were originally in the minority in terms of their interests, habits or activities
  • Small changes have huge effects – if the Wright Brothers’ original single-seater design for an aeroplane had stayed as it was, would air travel ever have taken off? (No pun intended). Unlikely! What if the originators of Sesame Street hadn’t carried out lots of research to find out how kids liked to be entertained (their early attempts at the programme were nowhere near as successful as they are today)? In all the examples above, somebody, somewhere had the awareness to make the small changes that took the ‘good’ idea and turned it into a ‘great’ one
  • Change happens in one dramatic moment – where, after years and even centuries of happily doing without any of the examples above, they suddenly become incredibly popular. They become desirable to many, many people through their benefits being easily understood and discussed, spreading the ‘word’

So, how can you apply this to your business?

Ask yourself these questions and see where you get to:

  • Of all the things that my business delivers, which one gets the most interest and is most talked about (by people outside the business)?
  • How can I develop it to make it more appealing to more people?
  • How, where and when could I test it to see how the development is going?
  • What is my plan for letting the world know about it and how practical and achievable is that plan?

That little lot should keep you busy for a while!

However, if you’re interested in taking it further, let me know.

Good luck!

Special thanks to Malcolm Gladwell and his excellent book ‘The Tipping Point’ for helping me work this out!

To find out more about how I work with business executives, leaders and owners to maximise their potential and success, and the benefits of professional executive coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:

t: 01242-672440

e: click here

© Adrian Malpass 2014-2017. All rights reserved.