What does your business boil down to?

Apr 13, 2017Padraig's Insights

Start by figuring out your why


I’m very involved in ‘The Complete Leader’ program that we’re running with Ron Price, so I’m reflecting on leadership a lot at the moment.

I noticed that there are certain gaps in my leadership style, so I committed to myself that I would improve my performance in these areas.

However, as I started trying to improve my performance I realised that I really wasn’t interested in improving my performance!

I wanted everybody else around me to change instead. At the very least I wanted people to put up with me the way I am.

So I thought about this for a while and I realised that the missing ingredient is why. In Simon Sinek’s (LINK) book ‘Start With Why’ he talks about why, how and what.

In our ONEThing planning process we talk about why, how and what. And in the hedgehog we talk about it too. The why is the passion, the what is the talent and the how is the economic driver.

Goal setting 101 really starts with why. I believe that the single most important question that you can ask yourself in the arena of developing yourself as a complete leader is ‘why?’

Why do you want to do it? If you don’t know why you want to do it it will be a struggle. If you do know why and if you have a compelling reason for it, it will be much more effective.

Most people change behaviour when they come across a significant catastrophic event in their lives.

We tend to learn a lot more from failure than from success. People make changes because their ‘why’ changes and they see what they want to accomplish differently. When the why changes, everything else follows.

Think about this as a concept for your own personal development. Everytime you go to do something – it could be going for a run or going out for a nice dinner – ask yourself ‘why am I doing this?’

Try to understand why you do what you do. I found it very helpful and I hope you do too.


Is it time to rewrite your story?


I have talked many times about the notion of explanatory style and how I believe that we write our own stories.

I had a conversation yesterday with a colleague who is repeating the same story again and again and having the same result, again and again, which isn’t surprising!

I keep trying to get this colleague to reword the story to the extent that in fact I sat them down yesterday and I told them to get very comfortable in the chair because they wouldn’t like what I was going to say next.

I really gave it to them in a very direct way regarding gratitude and the absolute need to rewrite their story. It wasn’t a particularly pleasant conversation for them but I felt that it was the only way that they’d hear the message.

I believe that as leaders, we have a responsibility to be story writers in our organisations and in our teams.

We need to write the narrative a certain way so that people get behind it and see things a certain way, because everything is self-fulfilling.

We see things a certain way, do certain things and get certain results.

So, how do you explain things to yourself and to your team? How does your company explain things to itself? Is it time to rewrite your story? Think about this.


The importance of resilience


Resilience is a key competency that successful leaders have.

We define it as the ability to bounce back, to persevere in tough times. I think it’s worth asking the question: ‘where does resilience come from’?

I’ve spoken previously about the importance of asking yourself why you do the things you do. I believe that resilient people are people who have a very clear vision and sense of purpose.

They know what the big goal is and what they’re trying to accomplish. They know the reason they’re doing what they’re doing, so when things get tough their why gives them the courage, the confidence and the resilience to persevere when other people give up.

Resilience is a really important attribute for anybody in any leadership position, because as we all know, things don’t always work out as we expect.

In fact, things often take twice as long and cost twice as much as we expect.

There’s a great saying which says that success is just on the far side of failure.

My old chairman used to say to me that the secret is to be there at the end, which is often just one stop past the point where you’re ready to give up.

The ability to bounce back is a critical competency of a leader and it really comes from knowing your ‘why’.


Bent or broken


I was at a talk yesterday evening where technology CEOs talked about their businesses. There were a few guest speakers, and one was particularly brilliant.

He talked about a seminar he went to some time ago. In the seminar, the speaker suggested that there are two types of problems people face in organisations: one is something that’s bent and the other is something that’s broken.

You could spend your entire life trying to come up with tools, plans or processes to fix the thing that’s bent, but it will never actually be fixed, because our priorities are always the things that are broken.

The point he was making was the importance of identifying the difference between something that is bent and something that is broken.

Find a problem that’s broken that you can fix in a way that you can replicate and scale.

I just thought it was a really interesting concept, and I found myself straight away thinking about some bent problems that my clients are having. What I need to do is to identify the things that are really broken which I can really help with to help drive the business forward.

So, think about the difference between problems that are bent and those that are broken.


What does it all boil down to?


I received a great note from an advisor of mine recently. I was talking to him about the program we are launching on leadership, and he suggested a few questions that I should answer around our value proposition:

1. What are you selling? Make it as simple as hell.
2. What makes it different?
3. Why would anybody be interested in buying it?
4. What problem are you fixing?
5. Who is the buyer?
6. Can you come up with a half a dozen references showing how the program worked?
7. Do you have a what does it all boil down to statement?

I really liked these questions. Anybody who has ever sold anything knows that this is really simple stuff but I think for me it was really interesting in the context of things that are bent and things that are broken.


Final thoughts…


Discovering what your business boils down to starts with finding your why. Why do you want to make certain improvements or make certain changes?

Having a compelling reason for making changes to your leadership style, for example, will make it a lot easier when things get tough.

Really think about the notion of explanatory style. If the stories you’re telling yourself aren’t working, how could they be changed?

Resiliency is one of the most powerful skills of a leader, and it comes from knowing and understanding your ‘why’.

To decide which problems you need to tackle first, think about which are broken and which are bent, then tackle the broken ones first.

Finally, ask yourself the above questions to gain  some clarity on your business and what you’re trying to sell.

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Discover Your Leadership Style TODAY!

  • First step to being a leader is knowing yourself. If you don’t understand yourself how can you understand others? Learn to understand others better.
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  • Identify what leadership competencies you are strong in and where you can improve.



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