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Are You A ‘Perfect’ Business Owner?

Have you been waiting for the perfect time of year to sit down and strategise for your business? Have you been iterating ideas over and over again, trying to perfect a marketing campaign?

They say that good is the enemy of perfection. But in this video, I challenge that concept – because what I teach my business coaching clients is actually the complete opposite idea.

I argue that there is something more important to be in your business than “perfect”…

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 perfection. I’m sure you’ve come across this statement that good is an enemy of perfection.

Now it might be possible that you’re looking for that perfect time to have team meetings, maybe you are looking for perfect time to do marketing, or seeking a perfect text, a perfect colour, a perfect logo, a perfect website. Maybe perfect time for you to sit down and get clarity as to what’s required in your business – the perfect prospect, perfect sales.

Now the question is when you are looking for these perfect moments, how many opportunities you are missing out in your business and in your life? Now what I teach my clients when I am working with them is actually just the opposite of perfection. What I believe in, and how my clients and I work together – is actually with the belief that perfection is an enemy of good. It’s all about doing many good things in the business.

My clients and I, we have good meetings, we have good marketing, good sales, good systems, good planning, good reviews, good discussions and good movement forward. And that’s the reason that they are actually getting double digit growth in their business, building the pipeline, moving forward way above the industry benchmark.

So what I really want to take away from this short and brief conversation is actually be prolific, and not perfect. Because that will help you move your business forward, and not the perfect moments.

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I Am The Greatest – Confidence Lessons From Muhammad Ali

business-coaching-london-ali-greatest-confidence

I sent out an email a few weeks ago to which I got a sharp response from one of the recipients. They said I sounded “conceited” and that the email was “totally off putting”.

So I went back to re-read the email and try to understand where this person was coming from, and I began to understand. And then I had a thought that I had to share with you.

Be Your Own Motivation

On re-reading the email, I could see where this person’s sharp response may have come from. There was a line I had written where I was talking about why I was offering the previous webinar for free that said, “It is because you may not yet have met me and therefore have no idea how good I am.”

I do accept that that sounds quite conceited and could perhaps have been worded better.

However, I also thought of one of Muhammad Ali’s greatest quotes,

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”

This quote is important for business owners to understand, because what he is talking about is a confidence mindset, which is one of the key ingredients of success in business, not just sports.

Muhammad Ali is talking about the idea that you, as a business owner, must have the strength and belief in yourself to push yourself to the top if you really want to get there, no matter what others around you say.

In the end, no one else – not even your business coach – is going to tell the world that you are the greatest. You are the one who has to do that for yourself, you have to motivate yourself, and you have to lift yourself up if you want to continue to achieve great things.

Beware The Confidence Vultures

This also links to another incident that happened to one of my business coaching clients recently. They had won an award and emailed their contacts about it. Someone replied to them with a tirade of why they were not good enough to have won that award. Obviously my client felt wounded and had lost all confidence in his product and business.

I explained to my client that there are some people out there that we refer to as ‘confidence vultures’. These are people who have learned that feeding off other people’s confidence can be a way to boost their own self-esteem.

As you climb in confidence yourself, you will face these people. There is no doubt that they will come out of the woodwork. You must be able to protect yourself, and that confidence that you have built, from such people.

The quote above from Muhammad Ali indicates to you how to do that: have the strength within yourself to say, “I am the greatest,” even when others try to tell you otherwise.

You can (and should) build your own confidence. And when you learn how to enter that cycle of building your own confidence, you can then push your confidence as high as you want it, regardless of what vultures swoop around and peck at you.

Remember, You Are An Iceberg

I have talked before about the Identity Iceberg. This is a concept I have used often in business coaching sessions to explain the idea of how what you show to the world – the “doing” that you do – is only really 5% of who you are. The “being” part of yourself – the skills, beliefs, values, and identity – is mostly invisible to those around you and often even to yourself.

And it is that 95% where you will find your strength and your confidence.

Not only that, but the environment in which you place yourself – the water in which you, as an iceberg, sit – dramatically matters in your personal and professional development. Continuing the metaphor of the iceberg, your environment can be warm and drain from your being, or the water can be a cold expanse from which you draw strength and continue to grow.

But unlike the iceberg metaphor, how the environment affects you is a choice that you can make. You can boost yourself and learn to absorb positivity from your environment, or you can allow the negative comments from those confidence vultures eke away at your strength and confidence.

You may not be able to control the environment itself, but as the adage goes,  you can control how you react to it.

Is It A Cultural Thing?

As someone who was not raised in Britain, I am constantly learning, understanding, and adapting to British culture. There are a lot of significant differences between India’s and Britain’s cultures I will tell you that!

What I find really intriguing is that the natural exuberance of Americans is often described by the British as “brash” or “gung ho”. Yet I must admit, when I have witnessed such brawny positive attitude it is in some of the most successful and driven people I know.

Perhaps it is natural for the British to be more reserved and respond more deeply to those around them. But perhaps there is some small learning to be gained from our brothers and sisters across the pond in learning how to boost our own self-esteem as well.

Affirmation Becomes Conviction

In the end, Muhammad Ali constantly talked about self-motivation and about creating your own drive and creating your own success. I think that is why his words so often deeply resonate with me – his mindset is something I fully agree with.

I think it only appropriate, then, to end this post with another of his quotes that all business owners should take note of:

“It is the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes deep conviction, things begin to happen.”

What convictions have helped you build yourself and your business? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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The Importance of Developing Future Leaders and How to Identify Them

Group of leaders

The challenging economy and the increased pace of modern business, thanks to global connectivity, has brought about a new era in business leadership.  Today’s CEOs are expected to overcome challenging financial hurdles and deliver better results at a faster rate, adding to the difficulty of their already demanding positions.

But, over and above the rigours of daily operation, much of the difficulty of modern business leadership lies in the fact that the reins of any company must be passed on at one point or another.  Knowing this, CEOs have to choose future leaders that will be able to cope with the stresses leading a company as well as be able to perpetuate the growth of the company when it comes time to pass the reins to yet another generation.

If companies want to avoid the pitfalls of poor leadership and a thinning talent pool, they must embrace the executive coaching of future leaders, and do it sooner rather than later.

The Dangers of Bad Leadership

Last year gave us a few shining examples of good and bad CEOs.  Those that excelled and those that imploded gave current organisations a great deal of useful knowledge – most notably that good leadership is everything to the success of a company.

In 2015 the CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich, did exactly what a good CEO should do; he broadened the future talent pool.  By making great moves to diversify Intel’s 100,000-strong global workforce, creating opportunities for minorities and female workers, Krzanich made sure that Intel will be spoiled for choice when it comes time to elect new leaders.  And, as an added bonus, his efforts were a PR dream, highlighting the company’s affinity for equal rights.  

On the other hand, Martin Winterkorn, the former CEO of Volkswagen, badly tarnished the reputation of the auto manufacturer by hiding data regarding vehicle emissions.  Winterkorn claimed to have no knowledge of this deceitful practice, which may or may not be true.  However, Winterkorn was well-known to publicly scold employees, which could well have led them to cover up data in order to avoid reprimand.  Whichever the case, Volkswagen’s crisis rests firmly on Winterkorn’s shoulders.  
 

woman standing

The Importance of Identifying Strong Future Leaders

When looking the two ends of the spectrum, the need for strong, empathetic, and creative leaders becomes clear.  But, with some reports indicating that potential leaders are in short supply at present, it would appear that these leaders need to be groomed as opposed to plucked.  

The demands, expectations, and pressure placed on the leaders of the future will only increase, making the need for leadership development all the more important.  The next generation of leaders must possess unrivalled tenacity, commitment to their goals, and the sense that any task, regardless of audaciousness, must be accomplished for the good of the company.  

Incompetence tends to emerge quickly in those who are promoted without the proper development.    And, with the pace of modern business, many companies tend to look to new leadership options when it is already too late.  The identification and development of young leaders possessing leadership abilities and strength of character is thus important for any company aspiring to posterity.  

Chart discussion

As we discussed above of this look at future leadership, tomorrow’s CEOs will have to possess both character strengths (credibility, caring, competence) and technical leadership skills in order to excel in an environment that is characterised by growing pace and increasing expectations.

But, how do current leaders identify these qualities in younger generations so as to start the executive coaching process?  The truth is that finding good leadership candidates is far less intricate than finding a needle in a haystack, and simply requires the identification of a few of the following qualities:

picking up a figure
 
How to Identify Future Leaders

1. Problem Solving

Some employees are full of excuses as to why a particular task failed.  Others won’t accept defeat, and use their failed attempts to create different strategies.  The latter are certainly leadership material.

2. Motivation

Some employees are so motivated that their motivation is infectious and they tend to inspire others.  These are the types of employees who should be short-listed for leadership positions.  After all, inspiring others to work hard is one of the integral roles of a CEO.

3. Empathy

The best leaders are able to listen to their employees, retain the information, and then offer thoughtful solutions.  The employees to whom other employees go with their problems are already exhibiting leadership qualities.

4. Learning Ability

Employees who give the impression that they know everything usually don’t.  If you value knowledge as a leadership quality, look instead at the employees who constantly go out of their way to learn new things.

5. Time Management

Employees who tend to adopt a short-term approach to their tasks – dealing with each one in a linear fashion, regardless of size or scope – are always under pressure.  Those that see each one in terms of its relevance over the long-term have a better ability to prioritise them and complete them without the threat of pressure.  This ability to prioritise is important for leaders tasked with long-term company growth.

6. Pinpoint Excellence

Employees that attempt to fulfil a variety of roles never master any particular one.  This is not a good quality for a leader.  Instead, look to employees who master particular roles and then seek assistance and knowledge concerning others.  These will be effective leaders by way of delegation and teamwork.  

Why Training Leaders Now Will Benefit Them in the Future

Risk is only real when companies don’t have a clear idea of what they are doing, both in the present and in the future.  So, any company that wants do decrease the risk of leadership upheaval in the future should be looking at developing future leaders in the present.

Executive coaching doesn’t have to apply only to current executives; it can be used to groom the leaders of tomorrow.  Thus, by developing the right qualities in potential candidates, companies can ensure that they have a continuance of leaders fit to cope with the increasing pressures at the top.  

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

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3 Key Figures For Your Mid-Year Review

If there’s three things you should be doing in the middle of the year, it’s reflecting, reviewing and remapping your next steps.

In this video, I give you pointers on key numbers in your business that you should know and track closely. In fact these numbers, are always included in the dashboard that I review regularly with my business coaching clients.

These are not only important for measuring your level of success, but they are also critical for helping you align your compass to point towards even greater growth for the rest of the year.

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, this is that time of the year when doing this one thing can help you actually have the corrective measure in your business or build on the momentum that you already have.

And that one thing that I am talking about is reflection, reflecting on your business performance through the number lengths.

Now three simple things – three simple things that you can do to analyse your numbers and to see what needs to be done. And I would specifically focus on income statement, also called P and L – Profit of Loss.

So the first thing you need to look at is look at the actuals of the first six months compared to your budget. And the first thing to focus on is the overheads – see what is the deviation, because that’s easy to correct or easy to identify the areas of focus.

The second thing that you need to straight away look at is your GM – Gross Margin. How are your margins looking? They should be looking better, compared to your budgets or pretty much on track.

And the final thing that you’d want to look at is the sales. You understand, and you obviously want the upside on sales to make sure you are doing well. Let me just peel another layer of sales – when you’re analysing your sales, look at two other things. Break it down into your existing customers, or clients/sales. Because you want to make sure there is good amount of retention, and ideally more build-up on that that they are doing more business with you as far as your existing clients are concerned.

So that’s an important distinction to make, rather than lumping the whole sales in one thing. And the second level of analysis you need to do is new business sales. How many new clients did you acquire? What has been the average pound value? It should be healthy. And once you look at these three fundamentals to start off and then peeling the layers of sales further, to make sure you have some very clear input for moving forward – it will help you have more confidence, that your first half of the year has gone well and you’re in control of the next half of the year.

But make sure you do something about it before another year just passes by and you’re left wondering saying, “Where did those twelve months just go?” Because I’m sure you would want to end this year with a high note, and with a good feeling.

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What CEOs Most Want from Executive Coaching and How These Skills Benefit Their Companies

Explaining benefits

The early days of executive coaching saw a fair amount of obstacles. The highest of these hurdles was certainly the fact that many CEOs saw the prospect of executive coaching as a negative – a figurative slight that suggested they were not performing adequately.

However, a lot has changed over the past few years; enough that this view has been completely reversed.

CEOs now understand the benefits of executive coaching and see it as a perk akin to a set of keys to a luxury company car. Executive coaching is now viewed as a reward for reaching their coveted echelon of management. But, why do CEOs feel so strongly about executive coaching and what do they hope to achieve through it?

What CEOs Want from Executive Coaching

Many business leaders are well aware of their own talents for steering companies. As such, those that approach executive coaching don’t wish – and don’t need – to learn how to lead a company. Instead, they wish to expand their leadership skills, knowing that once these are polished, company growth will follow suit.

With this in mind, the majority of CEOs wish to build their personal relationship skills through coaching.

ChartA survey conducted by Korn Ferry last year produced some very interesting results. It focussed on C-Suite-Level leaders, Business Unit Leaders, and Mid-Level Leaders and attempted to establish which skills these leaders most craved from executive coaching.

The findings were divided into three separate lists – one for each category. At the top of two of these lists, and runner-up on the third list, was the combination of interpersonal relationships, listening skills, and empathy.

 

What the Survey Says about the Current Skills of CEOs

That these skills might top the lists of required skillsets might astonish some onlookers. After all, is it possible to climb to the pinnacle of an organisation without developing these skills?

Well, aside from the fact that climbing the corporate ladder arguably depends more on ambition, technical skills, and intelligence than personal skills, there are some important factors that need to be mentioned.

Firstly, the list for C-Suite-Level leaders was actually topped with a desire for self-awareness. So, while interpersonal relationships, listening skills, and empathy featured high up on the list, the list still gives the impression that many CEOs generate a level of skill in these areas while climbing the ranks. This would also indicate why this particular category topped the lists of those involved in lower-level management, as they are still developing these skills as they move upwards.

Secondly, the lists don’t prove that these skills are completely lacking. While they feature highly, these skill areas are areas in which CEOs wish to improve, not areas in which skills are non-existent.

Many CEOs might have used these precise skills to reach their current level of management and thus want to continue improving them for future growth. But, while CEOs may already have varying degrees of interpersonal skills, the fact remains that many want to better these skills. This is because they see the value of developing these skills as being beneficial not just for their own careers, but for the companies that they lead.

ceo keychain
We’ve established that interpersonal relationships, listening skills, and empathy are very important to organisational leaders of various ranks, and that these are some of the skills that CEOs would like to improve through executive coaching.  Now the question is; ‘why?’

Of course, the business leaders involved in the study mentioned in Part 1 of this article would all have personal reasons for citing this as an area for desired improvement.  And, naturally, these reasons may differ drastically between leaders. 

However, one common thread uniting CEOs in the desire to improve their interpersonal skills is the fact that relationships can help dissolve fear, and fear is a major inhibitor of productivity.

 
Why Fear is a Bad Motivational Tool

History has shown us that if you place a perfectly competent person under duress, that competence can decline rapidly.  This is why bright students can go completely blank during exams and good drivers two man at the tablecan become jittery during their driving tests.

Similarly, using fear as a motivational tool can have the adverse effect in a corporate environment. Leaders that tend to lash out with anger can cause their employees to stay away from them, thereby eroding the important relationships that lead to productivity through teamwork and synergy.

In addition to this issue, the following are some of the negative connotations of motivating through fear:

  • Emotion Clouds Judgment: Leaders that create fear through angry outbursts should remember that, in addition to breaking down relationships, they are clouding their own judgment.  Anger limits a leader’s ability to think objectively, and this is never good for the effective management of a company.  
  • Anger is Disrespectful: Shouting at and belittling employees shows how little respect leaders have for them.  And respect is a two-way street.  Leaders that battle to maintain employee morale often don’t have their employees’ respect.
  • Fear is the Enemy of Success: Leaders that express displeasure in their employees’ failures will lead those employees to stop trying as hard.  Employees who are scared of their leaders will aim lower in order to guarantee success, but this success will be moderate as opposed to exceptional. 

 

The Importance of Good Relationships for Leadership

 

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As long as employees aren’t afraid to fail, they will be far more tenacious in their attempts to meet objectives, allowing leaders to set ever more ambitious objectives.  This is what stimulates company growth and success, and is certainly one of the reasons many CEOs wish to increase their listening skills and their empathy.

Simply put; encouragement is a better motivator than fear.  By engaging with employees in more social scenarios outside of the boardroom it is possible to lead a company far more effectively.  Executive coaching can certainly help with this, which is why so many CEOs focus on this aspect when approaching their coaching experiences.  

No company wants a tame kitten at its helm.  However, a level-headed, approachable leader can work wonders for his or her company.     

 

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

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