Leadership

Luckily, there is an alternative.

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Do you recognise this scenario?

You have an employee who’s been with you a long time. They’ve stuck with you through thick and thin, the team loves them, and you can’t imagine your company without them.

However, they’re failing to keep up with new demands on their role — and people are starting to notice.

What do you do?

In Ashlee Vance’s biography of Elon Musk, he tells a story about Musk firing his assistant of 12 years after she asked for a raise. That’s 12 years.


Management

If you want to help your team improve their performance, feedback isn’t always the best way.

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Photo by Takafumi Yamashita on Unsplash

Every leader wants to get the best performance from their team. In startups, the importance of learning on the job and continuous employee development can’t be overstated.

But how do you create an environment that helps people learn faster?

For many years, I followed conventional wisdom, which says that the best way to help a team improve is by giving them plenty of feedback. I spent copious amounts of time learning how to give ‘good feedback’. I described specific situations, pointed to concrete behaviours, and explained their impacts from my perspective, all in a caring and professional way.

Sometimes, my feedback led to behavioural improvements. But other times, it didn’t. The results were patchy at best. …


Management

Recommendations are often no better than a Google search.

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They say you find the best recruits, service providers, and investors by asking for recommendations. So I decided to test the theory.

I listed all my service providers and partners over the last three years, along with how I found them. Surprisingly, third-parties that came via a recommendation were less likely to succeed than those that came from other sources.

In fact, some of the worst people I’ve worked with came via my network.

What’s going on here?

Not all recommendations are created equal

Why do some recommendations work out, while others fail? …


Management

Round-robin retros can help all your team members feel truly seen and heard.

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Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly

Every time you don’t share how you’re feeling with a colleague, you’re taking out emotional debt. You’ll have to pay it back eventually, but it will cost you more to have the conversation later rather than sooner.

Emotional debt accumulates rapidly on every team, and your leadership team is no different. Sadly, there’s no Xero or QuickBooks keeping track of the debt and it’s pretty invisible, particularly to leaders.

What if I told you I could reduce the emotional debt in your leadership by 90% — and it would take just one hour of everyone’s time each week?

Stop it, Dave,’ I hear you collectively say. ‘That’s impossible.’ …


Psychology

Your business and your life might depend on it

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When successful people talk about their lives and careers, you’ll often hear them say one — or both — of the following:

  1. I worked my ass off.
  2. I was very lucky along the way.

You probably already work your ass off — especially if you’re working on something you truly believe in. The motivation of achieving a mission that’s bigger than you can keep you energised for many years.

But what about luck? That’s not quite as obvious.

From the outside, luck and skill are hard to differentiate. You’ve probably heard someone say something like, ‘Wow, they just raised £20M on an idea — now that’s skill.’ Except it may not be obvious that the founder went to school with the investor. Or maybe, ‘Wow, that app is taking off — now that’s luck.’ …


Leadership

Why most people can’t listen and what it takes to get better

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Whatever your field, one skill is more valuable more than any other: listening.

Want to improve your product? Learn to listen. Want to get better at marketing or sales? Learn to listen. Relationships, people management, fundraising, you name it — learn to listen and you’ll improve at them all.

‘What are you talking about?’ you might ask. ‘Anyone can listen, right?’

Actually, no. Like meditation, listening sounds easy but can be difficult to get right — staying focused on another person’s thoughts is often as tricky as trying to sit quietly, focused on your breathing. …


Communication

How workshop design can transform your group meetings.

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Workshops may seem like something only a professional trainer needs to worry about. However, the ability to run an effective workshop is a major asset to senior leaders.

There are many reasons to give a long presentation. Perhaps you’re unveiling a new strategy, onboarding a new recruit, or leading a discussion about culture with your leadership team. The problem is that long presentations tend to suck the oxygen out of a room.

On the other hand, a good workshop can leave people energised and excited, offering them an opportunity to participate, as well as receiving information.

How to Design an Effective Workshop

It takes more than sticky notes and coloured pens to make a great workshop. In The Workshop Survival Guide, Rob Fitzpatrick and Devin Hunt provide three simple principles to design powerful workshops. …


Leadership

Your toughest challenges may say more about you than you realise.

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Photo by Min An on Pexels

If you ask someone about the issues they face in their most important relationships, they’re likely to list a bunch of things they wish they could change about the other person.

The list flows effortlessly, as if they were giving directions to a place they visit every day. They might even have insight and explanations for why the other person behaves as they do — and the more they care, the more generous the explanation: ‘She didn’t have the best time growing up so she struggles with . . .’

However, it’s much less common to have the same level of awareness about our own behaviours. It’s as though we’re blind to them — and the reasons behind them — even when others can see them effortlessly. …


Communication

If you want to cultivate a growth mindset, you need to change the questions you ask.

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What do the following questions have in common?

  • Is this person experienced enough for the role?
  • Do we have the right strategy?
  • Am I a good leader?

Well, a few things. They are all common questions at a company and maybe you’ve asked yourself something similar recently. But more importantly, they are also generally perceived as binary questions.

Let’s look at what binary questions are, and why you’re better off reframing them whenever you spot one.

What is a binary question?

A binary question is a closed question with only two answers — for example, ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Hidden in the question is an implicit assumption that there are only two categories into which the subject can fall: good or bad, right or wrong, and so on. …


Leadership

A practical guide to giving your company the culture shock it needs to succeed.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexel

When a company is small, founders have a huge personal influence on company culture. Their behaviours, both good and bad, seep into the team fabric and provide a blueprint of what ‘good’ is supposed to look like.

However, this doesn’t last forever.

As the company grows, other factors influence team behaviours. Changes in business strategy, work environment, and exposure to new people inside (and outside) the company can impact people’s behaviours.

The adoption of new behaviours can even happen by accident. In a famous experiment, actors in a waiting room were instructed to stand up each time a bell sounded. When unknowing participants entered the room, they began to imitate the actors, also standing up when the bell sounded. …

About

Dave Bailey

CEO coach, 3X VC-backed founder, angel investor, speaker (DaveBailey.com)

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