Tips for Leaders for 2016 – Tony Frost

2016 is tipped to be a challenging year. Isn’t every year challenging? Of course this is true but the challenges vary in type and intensity.

Here are some ideas which may help you to build your business in 2016, help it to thrive and not merely survive.

  1. Create a clear Vision of the Future

Nothing truly worthwhile has ever come from dreaming small dreams. Dream big dreams, deep into the future and then share your vision with everyone as often as you can. Invite people to join you, to improve the vision. Make this picture of the future a compelling, exciting and worthwhile dream to realise! This is a critical key to success. An unshared vision is as useful as a balloon in a furnace.

  1. Focus, focus, focus

The vision becomes real when execution and implementation starts. This is when people begin to believe, when they actually start to see action that points towards the end picture. Execution will only occur if there is clear and visible focus by the leadership. Leadership that is distracted or has multiple interests may serve to confuse rather than enlighten. The clearer the focus, the more certainty there will be about the journey and destination. People who have a clear sense of direction are for more likely to join the journey especially if the vision is compelling and excites interest.

  1. Be Courageous

Leadership is not for sissies! It is often lonely and leaders are known to feel alone and exposed. Sometimes they are both of these. Therefore an important ingredient of great leadership is the capacity for courage.

Courage is required to lead, but it is equally important for the energy required to be creative. Leaders are responsible for innovation. Innovation means taking risks. Taking risks means exposure and sometimes failure. But without these there is no growth and development. Leaders are not maintenance mechanics. Their job is to make change happen. Creativity, risk, change, exposure, courage are all parts of the fruit salad of leadership.

  1. Encourage Creativity

A critical leadership task, and a thoroughly challenging one, is the pressure for positive change.

This only happens in an environment which encourages and rewards creativity. The more the leader builds an environment of trust where everyone is encouraged to challenge and recommend, the greater will be the creativity in the business. Reward the curious abundantly, watch them carefully, question them, encourage them. They are a fount of new idea and outrageous dreams!

  1. Lead

Leadership is about leading. It is why one is called a Leader. If you don’t provide active visible leadership then you are not a leader, but something else.

As a leader your job is to make things happen. As a leader the most important resource you have is your team. In tough times it is super critical to surround yourself with a small talented team that tells you what you need to hear not what you want to hear. Choose the very best, most talented, vitally diverse team you can find and then lead them to be the very best that they can be. The obvious things like race, gender, religion and so on are important politically but they don’t count for a row of beans when it comes to creating the best team you can assemble. What counts most in this scenario is diversity of thought and perspective and a passion to succeed together.

  1. Culture is Critical

Create a culture of ownership. Equity, psychological and sociological ownership. When the team feel a sense of ownership they are likely to be more motivated to participate in achieving the vision and the objectives that flow from it. The aim should be to have everyone in the business owning a piece of it. And everyone should aspire to be an owner and work increasing the size of their shareholding. Make ownership easy. For everyone!

  1. Really Love what you do and those around you

This may sound soft and fluffy. Those things that are difficult to define often leave this impression. However this is actually the most difficult and the hardest stuff for leaders. It does not mean anything soft at all. Love is tough. Tough love is even tougher. Real leaders are good at making their people feel that they and their opinions are valued just as they are good at demanding a lot from those that they lead.

  1. Engage strongly, continuously

Crucial to good leadership, but particularly in 2016, is the absolute necessity of engaging actively, vigorously, regularly. It will be even more necessary to talk about the vision and why it is so important and how important it is for everyone to strive to be the very best that they can be! Note this is not about urging people to work harder but rather a strategy to inspire everyone, and teams to work smarter and as innovatively as possible.

The winning organisations this year will be those that find new ways of doing old things.

  1. Explore the world

Following directly on the notions above is the imperative to build a culture that encourages a desire to explore. Explore everything. What can we do better? What can we do differently? What should we stop doing? Who is doing interesting stuff? How can we be more adventurous? What can we learn from very young kids about the way they explore their world? How do we set about learning from them, emulating them in our world?

  1. Show Abundant Enthusiasm

Nothing really worthwhile happens unless there is enthusiasm; or passion if you like. The world’s best at anything, including leadership, are passionate about what they do, how they do it and who they do it with!

Encourage this, reward the enthusiastic and passionate. Do so often.

  1. Generosity is priceless

Do not under any circumstances steal the successes of others. Never. The most important generosity has little, if anything, to do with material things; mostly it has to do with generosity of the spirit and of the heart! Great leaders give a lot of themselves. Especially, they share their sense of hope and enthusiasm and excitement and belief in the future. And they sacrifice of themselves willingly to do this.

Of course, generosity also means sharing the abundance that the organisation creates, with joy and the thrill of sharing.

  1. Ethics

There is no point in achieving great ‘success’ and wealth if it is at the expense of others. It also has no meaning if the gains are ill-gotten. Good ethics will always win out in the end. The people in the organisation will always find it easier to strive for something with a higher meaning and something that contributes to the well-being of society than one that doesn’t.

  1. Think Globally

The world grows larger and smaller every day; more accessible and less accessible. Information technology has much to do with this. Social media has given unprecedented access into every aspect of our lives. No-one and nothing is immune. Any event, any issue, any new idea is immediately accessible by pretty much everyone, everywhere, 24/7. Because of this there is really no such thing anymore of only operating locally. If you are in business of whatever sort, no matter the size, you are in a global business. You must make sure as far as possible that this permeates all the thinking in your business.

  1. Act Locally

Thinking globally does not mean you should ignore local realities. What will give your business its market differentiation will be the way it lives out its mission in all of its markets. The more your customers feel that your product or service suits their particular and parochial needs and that you are a ‘local’ the more they will see your relevance and importance to their community.

  1. Do Good, it’s good business.

Doing good is good business, and good for business. The more your customers feel and see that you and your company care about them as people that count, the more likely it is that they will continue to positively endorse your licence to operate. This means encouraging everyone to be involved in and contribute to the community of which the business is an integral and important part. The more local people you employ the more important this becomes.

  1. Build Trust

At the heart of the world’s most successful teams and organisations is a deep implicit trust. This is not something that can happen by accident. It requires perseverance, passion, and patience. It needs you to listen, really listen to those around you and to show that you have. Trust is something truly sacred. It is difficult to build and earn and can be lost in eyewink. It is a massive responsibility but one that leaders should embrace with joy. It will be what makes the difference between you and the rest.

The year lies ahead. Make it your most memorable, most adventurous year ever!

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