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Useful tools, tips and strategies to help your business learn, develop and expand.

6 Skills The Most Effective Business Leaders Learn

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A business can only be as good as its leader is. As the business owner or leader, your leadership skills are always being tested, whether that’s by your team, third-party organisations, customers/clients, or even (and hopefully) by yourself.

Leading a group of individuals is a constant and never-ending challenge, but for the most part, it is a learned skill which you can constantly improve on. And if you want your business to become better, then it is a skill you should be improving on.

Here are 6 of the skills I have noticed in some of my best clients, and ones that any business owner, manager or leader of any kind should be at least thinking about.

Skill 1: Connecting With The Team

As Richard Branson said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” Effective business leaders should learn to connect with their team as this is the most effective way which trust can be developed within a work environment. A working culture of trust and accountability is the first step in creating a loyal and fulfilled team.

In order for you to do this, you have to present your team with a leader who is human. This requires having and showcasing characteristics such as positivity, purpose, empathy, compassion, and humility.

Skill 2: Communicating in a Meaningful Way

As the old adage says, the key to any good relationship is communication, and this is no different in the work setting. As a leader, you need to understand how to effectively communicate to your team in all manner of scenarios, be it positive or negative. In order to do this, you need to spend time listening and speaking to your team to ensure that any queries or challenges they may have are always visible to you.

Meaningful communication allows you to break down barriers between you and your team. Some ways which will allow you to do so are to ask more open than closed questions, avoid providing defensive answers, and to invest in spending time with your team. Nurture your team’s ideas, by listening to them and challenging them.

Additionally, if there is something you are questioning, ask your team for feedback. This type of constructive communication will allow your team to be comfortable with coming to you for help, as well as building a culture of mutual trust and respect in the workplace.

Skill 3: Being An Example

An effective business leader is able to showcase what is expected of the team, by being the example, rather than just telling people what to do.

Every day, you need to step up and show your employees what you want them to do, by doing it yourself. If you want your employees to challenge the status quo, make sure that you strive to do the same, and if you want your employees to be able to come to you for your opinion and help, engage them when you need your ideas challenged.

There is nothing less inspiring than having a leader who is all talk and no walk. Be the person which your team looks up to and constantly thrives to match.

Skill 4: Delegating to Empower

One important skill which you need to develop, as a leader, is the ability to delegate. Ensure you do not fall into the trap of micro-managing and instead show that you trust your team by delegating tasks to them which are both meaningful and challenging. This helps your team feel trusted and empowered, and allows them to develop their own skills. Click here to download our tips for delegating effectively + a simple (and free) tool for keeping on top of projects with your team.

Business development coaches argue that delegation is not just the art of getting others to do work for you, it is the ability for an individual to help others around them contribute and develop themselves on a daily basis. Empower your employees with the ability to make real and positive change, and they will constantly strive to showcase that the trust you placed in them is well-founded, which furthers their own skills and career in the process.

Skill 5: Knowing When To Follow

One of the most important characteristics of a good leader is their ability to recognise that those around them may be more well-versed in some aspects of the business. You should be hiring team members that are better than you at the things you are weakest at.

Take the time to engage your team and learn from them. An effective leader is someone who surrounds themselves with talented individuals, and if you do so, there will be no doubt that these individuals will be able to teach you a thing or two.

Skill 6: Self-Evaluation & Improvement

It cannot be overstated how important it is for you to consistently take the time out to take stock of your own leadership abilities. The main thing about this activity is to not only understand what you lack, but to also celebrate the areas in which you excel.

To do this, you only need to try ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • Am I a good listener?
  • Do I take enough risks?
  • Do I take the time out to engage with and recognise those around me?

However, as always, the way you see yourself may be very different to how you come across to others, and this is the reason why you should always aim to gain feedback from those around you as well.

This does not mean just your employees, but your friends, associates, mentors, family, etc. Everyone who engages with you will be able to give you an opinion about characteristics and traits which allow you to be a more effective business leader.

Do you listen enough to those around you? Do they trust you enough to come to you with their issues? These are all things which are transferrable to being a leader in the workplace.

 

Running a successful business takes a great deal of hard work. However, if you are able to be an effective business leader, and develop a positive team culture from doing so, you will have won half the battle. Leadership is a skill which is in constant development throughout your career. You will always have gaps in your leadership abilities, however, as long as you understand what they are and constantly aim to improve that, your team will only respond to that positively.

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3 Rules for Hiring Your Business Number 2

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As the idiom goes, “No man is an island.” In any big business in the world, the person that visibly leads the company is almost always backed up by an equally powerful and motivated number 2 –  the ‘right-hand’ or the ‘second-in-command’ or the ‘wing-man’ or whatever you want to call them.

We’re talking about the Steve Wozniak to Steve Jobs, the Paul Allen to Bill Gates, the Robin to Batman.

Choosing this person in your business – if you haven’t already chosen them – is a really big step and one that deserves some very serious consideration. This person will likely play a large part in whether your business grows to new levels of success, or falters and plateaus.

Here are 3 simple rules of thumb that you can use to help guide your decision in hiring your business number 2 so that it is someone who is likely to be the best choice for helping grow your business.

1. Look Within

It has been widely demonstrated that the best practice is to hire a #2 internally.

Having someone who has experience in your organisation and knows how it works is an invaluable asset that usually cannot be found in an external candidate.

Hiring someone internally also breeds loyalty within your organisation, and while there are many ways to build a loyal team, this is often one of the hardest traits to maintain in employees. Witnessing a colleague ascend the career path within the organisation indicates there is room to grow and climb in your organisation and they are not stuck in a ‘dead end’ job.

2. Ambition is Key

During business coaching sessions with some of my clients’ senior managers, I find that there are some that are scared by the ambition of their team members. They see it as a threat to their position in the organisation. I often identify this because they are clearly ignoring or even diminishing the superstars in their team. There seems to be a fear that if someone has a lot of ambition, they will seek to take over.

This is quite usually an unfounded and damaging fear.

Ambition is the key to driving a thriving business. It is often more important than talent when it comes to getting good results. Think about it – ambition is what drove you to where you are now, and where your business is now. Ambition is energy and motivation to achieve success.

Identify someone who is willing and able to focus their energy into your business to help it grow, and you will find yourself with the kind of backup that takes initiative and goes beyond what needs to be done and instead looks towards what should be done.

3. The Lightning Strike Test

Here is the million-pound question: Does the person you are thinking of hiring pass the “Lightning Strike” test?

That is, if you were to be struck by lightning and were bed-ridden for 2 months, would you be able to rest knowing that this person was in charge?

It is as simple as a “Yes” or “No”, and it all comes down to trust, and the systems your have set up such that your business can run without you. That is one of our indications of a truly “successful” business.

If you have found someone who could handle your business for a few months without your attention, then you may have just found your pathway to the next level of success for your business.

Choosing this person is no simple choice for any business owner or decision-maker in a business. The growth of your business massively depends on this person’s skills and how well they fit into your company. However, if you are looking to set your business onto the path of growth, and take it to where you are no longer required to play a constantly active part in it, then this is one of the most important decisions that you absolutely must make.

Recruitment process taking up too much of your time?

From the moment you post a job ad to the moment you shake the hand of your newest recruit, there is always a level of uncertainty that lingers.

Use our tried and tested process to help find the right candidate with the least effort so you can be confident in your additions to your team.


What Is the Difference between Coaching, Mentoring, and Training?

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The corporate sector regularly brings individuals into contact with the concepts of coaching, mentoring, and training.  The problem which many corporate workers face is that their views of each of these concepts are often skewed by the fact that these models are often spoken of as being not only interchangeable, but identical.

The truth is that coaching, mentoring, and training are individual concepts applicable to differing situations.  Granted, they are all aimed at the betterment of certain individuals in terms of their outright performance, but their approaches and expected outcomes can differ greatly.

In order to best distinguish the differences between these three concepts, it is best to highlight the fundamental role of a coach, a mentor, and a trainer individually.

What Is an Executive Coach?

There are various different types of executive coaches.  That is to say, there are executive coaches who differ in their approaches.  But, while these coaches might approach their duties through diverse methods, one factor remains constant; coaches are coaches from the onset.

An executive coach is hired for a specific purpose, and thus the relationship between executive and coach is clearly defined from the beginning of their professional relationship.  Similarly, the executive being coached has a specific purpose for the coaching – a goal which must be reached.  Regardless of the time-frame required, this goal is as clearly defined as the coaching relationship.

An executive coach is brought in to provide technical expertise, but never in the role of a consultant.  A coach should never be seen as one to provide the answers in trying moments.  Instead, a coach helps executives refine their thought processes.

That being said, coaches don’t adopt a completely disinterested approach.  Sports coaches, for example, take an active role in bettering their athletes through providing proactive insights.  It is thus important to strongly consider the precise needs of the candidate when hiring a coach.

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What is a Mentor?

Unlike executive coaching, mentoring is a less formal relationship.  This type of relationship often develops between friends or colleagues working together at the same organisation, or in the same industry. 

This type of relationship will often form organically when the mentor comes to realise that he or she has a great deal of useful knowledge to impart and the recipient of the mentoring has an appetite for knowledge and the drive necessary for self-improvement. 

This type of relationship is often acknowledged, but rarely labelled.  As it takes its natural course it may evolve, or rather relax into a mutual respect between peers. 

What is a Trainer?

A trainer is a knowledgeable individual brought in to facilitate the learning of another individual.  In this case, there is a clear lack of knowledge or practice in a specific task on the part of the individual who requires training.

A trainer teaches an individual how to perform a certain task and monitors the individual’s progress.  Once the trainee can perform the task at a particular level of proficiency, the training is complete.

Coaching is Different from Mentoring and Training

In the cases of mentoring and training, a lack of knowledge is present on the part of the individual being mentored or trained.  Coaching, however, is not necessarily aimed at imparting knowledge.  Instead, coaching is aimed at leaders or people in important positions who are vital to their companies’ future success. 

 

This article was contributed by Shirish Agarwal from Flow20, who offer web design, SEO and other digital marketing solutions.

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How to Encourage Integrity in Your Team

Are you the kind of business owner who likes to surround him/herself with people who are full of integrity? The answer I almost invariably hear is, “Of course.”

People with high levels of integrity are the best people to have on your team, and they are the ones who produce the greatest results.

There are many definitions out there of this concept of ‘integrity’. In this video, I will give you a way of defining integrity in your team to make it a real practical concept that you and your team can use.

Prefer to read rather than watch and listen? No problem – here’s everything I said in the video as text:

Hi this is Shweta from The London Coaching Group. What I want to talk about today is a subject called ‘integrity’.

Now I’m quite certain that you do expect to see integrity and maybe higher levels of integrity from people around you. There are lots of definitions attached to this concept, but what I really want to do today is to give you a simple tip to make this concept a real, practical concept for your team and for yourself.

Now in business context, one of the definitions of integrity is that you expect your team to do what they have said that they will be doing. See through the commitments basically. So it’s like if you’ve said something, make sure you do it – that’s integrity. Now this is where people stop, and when they stop the issue is that if people are not able to do what they have said, then it comes as a surprise to the business owner. And it’s possible that you have been in those situations.

Now when you are communicating the definition of integrity to your team, make sure you add the third element to this, which is ‘Co’. Let me explain this, you basically tell your team that I expect you to do what you have said, and if you’re not able to do it then at the earliest possible – you need to communicate it back to me, or the line manager. This is where you are on top of this situation, this is where you’re able to provide the support or guidance to the team member who might be struggling to do what he/she has committed. Because at the end of the day, what you want is your team progressing rather than sitting in one corner and try to fight their own battle. It’s about coming together, and moving forward.

So working with this definition will hopefully get you more integrity from your team members around you.

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Give Your Small Business a Spring Clean

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With spring in the air many households across Britain will be engaging in some serious spring cleaning, which means plenty of decluttering and polishing.  It is a great idea for businesses to do the same, but not where buckets and mops are concerned.  Instead, small businesses should use spring as the perfect excuse to declutter their time-consuming processes.

The problem faced by small business owners lies in the fact that they wear many hats.  Having to be the backbone of productivity can lead to administration falling by the wayside, and, similarly, devoting too much time to administrative tasks can hamper overall productivity.

More importantly, if a business owner devotes all of his or her time to producing the business’s products or services, business growth can suffer.  Many small businesses tend to stagnate as a result of this.

If you are a small business owner that can relate to this, you’ll be pleased to learn that there is a way in which you can maintain your company’s productivity and still free up time to devote to business growth.  The answer lies in giving your business a spring clean, and decluttering your processes to create extra time in the day.

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How to Spring Clean Your Business’s Processes

If you want a crisp, clean, efficient day that is free of unnecessary distractions and time-sapping tasks, there are a few key areas on which to focus.  The following are few tips for decluttering your day: 

1. Monitor Your Time

It is important to take note of the time you spend on each task during your day.  Without this data, you can’t possibly pinpoint the time-consuming parts of your business, and you can’t make any positive changes.

2. Eliminate Unnecessary Parts of Your Day

Social monitoring, for example, is a perfect example of a time-waster.  If you spend an hour each morning browsing your social sites, you’re spending five hours a week on social media.  If you halved that at least, you’d be freeing up 2.5 hours which you could devote to business growth strategies.

You could also make a concerted effort to check emails less frequently, as this allows for fewer concentration inhibitors.  Screening your calls is also helpful in this regard, as is holding meetings on your own premises or via conference calls in order to eliminate travelling time.

3. Delegate

If you’ve built your small business from the ground up, you might be used to doing everything yourself.  This can create anxiety when it comes to handing tasks over to your employees.  However, it is important to remember that you hired your employees because of their abilities, so you just need to be clear about your expectations.  Don’t think of delegation as a relinquishment of responsibility, think of it as an excellent way to free up your time.

4. Outsource

If you are doing your own accounts, for example, you’re writing off half a day every two weeks.  This is time that could be saved through outsourcing your accounts to a freelance accountant.  The immediate cost might be hard to stomach, but it will be more than compensated by the profits you stand to make through expansion – which you will have time to strategize through outsourcing your accounts.

5. Plan

It is important to understand how you work, and plan your day to maximise efficiency.  If you have exhaustive tasks to complete on a given day, plan to do those when your energy level is at its highest, which is often in the morning.  You can then plan to do the more rewarding tasks later in the day.

Make Time Management Your Priority This Spring

You might feel that your day is so full that any extra time to devote to expansion strategies is nothing but a dream.  However, through decluttering, delegation, and outsourcing it is completely possible to free up enough time to devote to the improvement of your business’s reach.  And, if you orchestrate it well enough, you might just find that you are working less hours overall – the ultimate reward for your spring cleaning.

 

This article was contributed by Shirish Agarwal from Flow20, who offer web design, SEO and other digital marketing solutions.

Need help on balancing your company's productivity, with time to devote to growth?

business coaching london business planningGiving your business a spring clean is beneficial, however you would also have to utilise a way to declutter your processes to create extra time in the day, in order to further develop your business. 

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