Category Archives: Thinking

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.

Be ‘real’! Be emotional! Be a better leader!

Your ‘human’ side can enhance your credibility.

From b³ August 2013:

“Never apologise, mister, it’s a sign of weakness.”, so said the late John Wayne (and NCIS’ Jethro Gibbs).
Goodness me! How times have changed!

The more traditional view of ‘leaders’, particularly in the business world, is that they tend to be seen as ‘strong’, powerful, decisive, and never backing down.

Yet, the very best leaders of today are those that are almost always recognised for their human qualities – being trustworthy, genuine, honest, open, show their emotions and, yes, vulnerable at times too (among others).

Of course, the most important quality a leader still needs hasn’t changed much – the ability to make, often complex, decisions.

However, whether your leadership ‘role’ is as the owner of a single person start-up, or as the global head of a £multi-billion business conglomerate, the way you connect with the people around you is key to your success.

One of the most valuable ways to develop how ‘real’ other people perceive you is to reflect on your own experiences in meeting others. How many times do you meet someone, often who has a high ranking position in an organisation, who is intent on presenting themselves as ultimately professional, and presenting a rigid ‘mask’ to you? Being understood as a ‘professional’ is great, but have you noticed how time spent with those people leaves you feeling that the vital ‘connection’ sometimes isn’t there?

This is simply because the ‘mask’ they put in front of you is not allowing you to connect with their ‘real’, personal qualities – something which we, as humans, intuitively want to do.

So there you have it – by all means be seen as a professional, but make sure you allow others to understand you as a real human being and not some sort of robot.

The higher up the business ladder you go, the more important it is to be ‘known’ by those around you, and reassure them of your principles, reliability and consitency, all of which significantly increases how you invite others to trust you.

Click here for an article from Doug Sundheim on Harvard Business Review on ” Good Leaders Get Emotional”.

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.

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.

‘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.

2% Is All it Takes

Being ‘World Class’.

Often heard, but what does it actually mean?

Or, more importantly, what does it cost?

If you were setting out to create a ‘World Class’ organisation, what would you say are the additional costs to get there?

10% of your sales?

40%?

80%?

Even more than that?

If I said it was just 2%, what would you say?

If I then said I don’t mean 2% of your sales, I just mean 2% of your total staff costs, then what would you say?

Hard to believe, isn’t it?

Well, I have news for you!

It really could take just 2% of your total staff costs to transform your organisation into one that can genuinely compete on the world stage.

The first and most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be big to be World Class. In fact, far from it. I have been fortunate to work with many World Class organisations, some of which were single person businesses.

Being ‘World Class’ is fundamentally about the Knowledge, Attitudes, Skills and Habits (behaviours) – or K.A.S.H. –  of your workforce. Whether that workforce is just you or numbers in the thousands, the route to excellence is just the same.

Remember the Pareto principle? Better known as the ’80/20 Rule’?

Well, it is estimated that around 80% of the benefits your personnel bring to your organisation are down to their ‘soft’ skills – K.A.S.H.!

Yet around 80% of UK organisations develop their personnel’s ‘soft’ skills through just 2 days of training per year or less!

Crazy isn’t it? And they wonder why progress is so slow or even non existent or, worse, that they are getting left behind by the competition!

The reason most often cited for doing so little? You guessed it – cost! Please bear in mind that a day’s training to a high quality need only cost around £100-£150 per person.

So the message being sent out is effectively that something that brings 80% of the benefits to an organisation isn’t worth investing in.

Just where is the sense in that?

You look at any World Class organisations, of any size, in any sector, and you will see one thing in common – they continuously invest in developing their people.

So, back to this ‘2%’ then.

If developing the things that bring 80% of the benefits to your organisation were to cost you just 2% of your total staff costs, that’s a pretty good return on your investment, isn’t it?

So what makes so many organisations cut corners when it comes to developing their people, especially if all it takes is just 2%? Goodness knows!

Let me show you a simple calculation as an example:

An organisation pays an average annual salary (taking into account everyone in the organisation, including the Directors) of £30,000

Additional costs directly associated with employing each person, employer’s National Insurance, benefits and so on, typically equate to around 40% of their salary.

So total average annual employment costs per employee (in this example) is:

£30,000 + 40% = £30,000 + £12,000 = £42,000

Now take this amount and calculate just 2% of it as a budget for learning and development = £840/yr

So the annual average budget per employee for developing their skills is £840.

Or to put it into training days, that’s somewhere around 6 to 8 training days per year, every year.

Just imagine the impact on your orgainsation if every employee had (on average) 6 to 8 training days every year?

If the training plans are properly developed (and most training companies worth anything can easily help you do this), your organisation could easily achieve World Class standards within 5 years.

And all for just a measly 2% of your total staff costs!!

Amazing isn’t it?

So what are you waiting for?

Get in touch! T: 01242-672440

To return to my main website, please click here.