Is your team on the way down?

Is Your Team On The Way Up or the Way Down?

How the Mighty Fall is one of my most treasured business books.  It’s a Jim Collins classic.

The central idea is that companies (even great ones) can and do fall.

The book emerged from his curiosity. How did those who were once invincible, slip from dominance to irrelevance?

It’s an intriguing idea. You’re strong today. Gone (or irrelevant) tomorrow.

Collins calls it the ‘silent creep of impending doom’. He likens it to a disease like cancer. A disease that begins to grow on the inside while you still look strong and healthy on the outside.

The difference he concludes is that organisational decline, unlike cancer, is largely self-inflicted.

It’s something we do to ourselves!

This book is preventative medicine for leaders. It’s why I can never read it often enough.

How the Mighty Fall book cover

It reminds me that vigilance (Collins calls it Productive Paranoia) is one of a leaders most valuable attributes.

He identifies 5 Stages of Decline. The early stages are hard to detect but easier to cure. The latter stages are the opposite. Easier to detect but much harder to cure.

(Click here to learn more about the 5 Stages).

Stage 3 interests me the most – the Denial of Risk and Peril.

Here leaders fail to act on key messages and alarm calls.

Negative signals from the workplace and marketplace are discounted. Positive data gets spun and amplified. Setbacks are blamed on others.

What fascinates me is how the Executive Culture enables this.

In Collins’ words …

Jim Collins on Executive Culture

Here’s where it gets real.

He offers 8 indicators that the Executive Culture is in decline. Here they are …

Teams on the way down

  1. People shield those in power from grim facts, fearful of penalty and criticism for shining light on the harsh realities.
  2. People assert strong opinions without data, evidence, or a solid argument.
  3. The team leader has a very low questions-to-statements ratio, avoiding critical input and/or allowing sloppy reasoning and unsupported opinions.
  4. Team members acquiesce to a decision yet do not unify to make the decision successful, or worse, undermine the decision after the fact.
  5. Team members seek as much credit as possible for themselves yet do not enjoy the confidence and admiration of their peers.
  6. Team members argue to look smart or to improve their own interests rather than argue to find the best answers to support the overall cause.
  7. The team conducts “autopsies with blame,” seeking culprits rather than wisdom.
  8. Team members often fail to deliver exceptional results, and blame other people or outside factors for setbacks, mistakes, and failures.

Do you recognise any of these in your team?  If so it’s a sign.

An alarm call if you like. Something to urgently attend to and to act upon.

Alarm call - it's time to act

If it’s the team at the top that’s on the ‘way down’ there’s a lot at stake.

The silent creep of mediocrity begins at the top. The ripples of dysfunction make their way into every corner of the organisation.

Seeds of decline are sown in its wake.

It’s why building a healthy organisation – which always starts with the team at the top – is not a nice to have.

It’s mission critical.

Collins also offers 8 indicators for “Teams on the Way Up”.

This is a helpful and practical guide to what a healthy Executive Culture looks like.

You can download both here.

Ultimately How the Mighty Fall reminds me of two important things:

  1. No company has an automatic right to exist. That right is earned daily. In the end, it’s the marketplace that decides.
  2. Decline is not inevitable. It is rather, as Collins reminds us, largely self-inflicted. It’s a function of the choices we make, the things we tolerate and the actions we fail to take.

How is your Executive Culture?

Is your team on the way up or the way down?

It’s vital that you know the answer!

Further resources:

  1. Sean Summers / Biznews interview: Sean is the recently appointed CEO of Pick n Pay. In this telling interview he talks about how this once great company lost its way and what it needs to do to find its way back.  Watch here.
  2. I worked with Jim Collins when How the Mighty Fall was published. Don’t miss the interview I did with him. Click here to read.  

We love to hear from you! Please comment below …

High Performing Teams … Is Yours One?

High-performing teams are the aspiration of almost every organisation I work with.

It’s no wonder … 

  • High-performing teams excel in problem-solving, adaptability, and resilience.
  • Relationships on the team are healthy and energising.
  • Active listening, healthy debate and constructive feedback is the norm.
  • Accountability is ingrained. Team members take ownership of their roles and responsibilities. There are no passengers.
  • Challenges are embraced as opportunities to excel and grow.

These are wonderful qualities.

And so it’s surprising, how few teams, especially in large organisations, actually meet the standard.

High-performing teams, for many, remain elusive – despite being so admired.

With this in mind I sat down with Ian Thomas.

Ian is a wildlife expert and the best-selling author of The Power of the PrideHow Lessons from a Pride of Lions Can Teach You To Create Powerful Business Teams.

It’s a classic.

He is sought after all over the world for his views on lions, business teams and leadership.

The result of our time together was a series of videos. These delve into lion behaviour and most importantly … what we can learn from them to make our teams perform better.

Video 1: Team membership and team size. (3 mins 44s)

It all begins with who is on the team. The qualities, mindsets and skills of the people on the team define what kind of team it will become.

It’s also ensuring that the team is small enough, (not large enough.)

Most teams are too big – it’s a major reason why so few are high performing.

Video 2: Setting goals, creating focus and building trust. (3 mins 14s)

Here we draw our insights from lion prides who pursue big dangerous quarry like the African Cape Buffalo.

Goals create focus and they concentrate effort. Breakthroughs happen when committed people direct their energy and effort on a few big things.

Many teams however have too many priorities. This is a real problem.

Too many priorities actually mean none at all.

Many teams make this mistake. It has a direct impact on their performance and success.

We also explore the practical role trust plays in high performance.

Video 3: How do lion prides deal with passengers? (3 mins 5s)

This is the most vexing question of all.

It’s well known that the 1 thing leaders don’t like doing is confronting people about poor performance and / or bad behaviour.

This has a direct impact on team performance … and the ability to keep your best people engaged.

In a lion pride the issues are so much sharper and real.

Here, contribution and performance defines membership. If you don’t contribute you don’t share in the rewards of the hunt. It’s stark but it’s true.

Ultimately the sustainability of the pride relies heavily on the contributions of each individual.

But the individual is not more important than the pride.

We hope you enjoy the videos … and that they get you thinking about your team?

Here are 10 questions to help you do so?

  1. Do you have the right people on your team?
  2. Is your team small enough?
  3. Does your team have too many priorities?
  4. Do your team’s goals concentrate energy and inspire commitment?
  5. Do your team members respect you and trust one another?
  6. Do the members of your team have their ego in check?
  7. Does your team have high standards that everyone buys into?
  8. Is membership on your team defined by contribution and performance?
  9. Do you see performance or behaviour on your team that does not meet the standard?
  10. Are you avoiding a difficult conversation?

Download the 10 questions here

We love hearing from you. Please comment below. If you’d like to contact Ian he can be reached on

We equip leaders with the tools to build high performing teams.

What is the purpose of a business?

I ask this question a lot and there’s a surprising amount of confusion about the answer.

The purpose of a business is to create (and keep) a customer.

This is not a new idea of course. Peter Drucker 1st wrote about it in the early 1950’s, but its one that’s so quickly and easily forgotten.

It’s important to get the starting point right.

Every business exists to serve someone else, not itself. To do so we have to care, listen and get out into the marketplace. We have to get close to the customer.

Not, to quote Satya Nadella of Microsoft, as ‘know it alls’, but as ‘learn it alls’. Full of curiosity and wonder.

If this is the purpose of a business, what then is the purpose of your leadership?


To watch the blog … click on the video above

It’s to create the right environment inside the organisation … one where that value to the customer can be delivered.

The environment has to be one where people can thrive and grow. Where we tap into people’s resourcefulness, initiative and creativity. Not merely their diligence and obedience.

We want people to …

  • Think for themselves.
  • Ask questions and to innovate.
  • Solve problems and take charge of what’s in front of them.

Not just to arrive on time and do as they’re told!

This then is the essential formula that has to be enabled by leadership … people working together, to deliver great value, to create and keep the customer.

It starts with the customer. But all 3 have to be in place.

  • We have to know, care about and value the customer.
  • We have to unlock people’s potential and be able to quickly spot and grow talent.
  • And we have to design and deliver things that add value and solve problems.

Doing these 3 things right gives you the right to exist.

It gives you the opportunity to win in the marketplace. And without a marketplace there is no workplace.

The business that is unable to master this simple formula faces a perilous fate. That organisation begins the slippery slide to irrelevance and mediocrity.

It’s a tragic fate actually. So much value and promise laid to waste.

Those that do stand out.

They become attractive, valuable … precious.

Not only do they deliver superior results. They also make a distinctive impact in the world.

Leadership, at every level, as always … makes the difference!

We love to hear from you. Please comment below or mail me at




Is your team fired up?

Is your team focused, fired up and fully engaged?

“Can you help us build a high performance team” is the question I am most often asked.

Almost every organisation wants their teams to be more resourceful, innovative and adaptive.

  • They want team members to be fired up and fully engaged.
  • They also want these teams to play well with other teams in the organisation too.

As one Executive told me; “we want to do business with our customers, not with ourselves.”

He’s right. Shifting the focus of the team to its customer is the most important thing.

Who wouldn’t want this?

Why then are so many teams not creating value where it’s needed the most?

Building a high performance team requires the courage to get a few basic things right. Starting with the Team Leader. This is where the journey to high performance begins.

The effect this person has on morale and productivity is profound.

A wise friend once told me; “to the fish the water is most important” It’s the quality of the water that determines whether the fish will flourish and grow.

To the fish the water is most important

And so it is with a Team.

The Team Leader’s main job is the water. It is to create and sustain the conditions for team performance. If these are not favourable, people and performance suffer.

A lot goes into this.

At the outset the Team Leader must believe that teams are not machines.

They consist of people. People have values, emotions, dreams, fears, biases, insecurities and past experiences.

These uniquely human qualities must all be harmonised into one distinctive identity. An identity to which people feel they belong.

People must still be able to be themselves within the framework and purpose of the team.

All this is part of the water. Part of what makes people flourish and grow.

The team’s purpose is vital too.

People may have differences but PURPOSE is the unifying force

A demanding performance challenge separates a great team from all the others.

When the team’s purpose explains what this challenge is – and people buy into it – the team is well on its way to being formed.

Talented people relish solving big, worthy problems, with people they respect and admire.

The Team Leader has other important things to do too.

  • They must mould the team by getting people to submerge their egos and co-ordinate seamlessly.
  • They must create safety … and set the standards.
  • They must know how to match people’s talents with the requirements of the job.

All these we’ll deal with in future posts.

For now it’s important that the Team Leader keeps themselves in check too. For a high achiever this is often the hardest part.

It’s so easy to interfere and disempower.

Chief controller


It’s often true that the Team Leader does know more than others. They can spot problems sooner. What’s more, deep down, they like control and feel insecure without it.

But when the Team Leader is the Chief Controller & Problem Solver, there are problems.

It disempowers. People stop thinking for themselves, become lazy, go silent and wait to be told. They stop taking risks and trying new things.

Anxiety (and fear) often rears its ugly head. People become unwilling to admit weaknesses and mistakes. The team retreats … afraid to make decisions.

The result is a few people do all the work while everyone else waits for orders and instructions.

There are no winners here!

At the end of the day it is the water that matters.

Unleashing the potential of the people and the ability of the team to perform depends on it.

To this end, the Team Leader makes the biggest difference.

Get the leader right and watch what happens.

You start doing business with your customers and stop doing business with yourselves!

Video: What we really care about. 1 min 30 s

For the next few months our focus will be on the Team Leader. Helping you to build a toolkit to unleash the full potential of your team. This is vital, especially when talent is so mobile and the future is so unclear. Stay tuned.

To start, downloadDo We Work Well Together?

Please comment below. We love hearing from you!

4 Essential Leadership Disciplines

Do you want to build a healthy organisation?

Reading Time: 2 mins 20s

The pandemic has forced us to focus on our health.

Many of us are now exercising more, eating better, and reducing stress.

But what about our organisations? Are they healthier?

What are we doing to make them fitter, stronger, more able to weather future storms that lie ahead?

Four Disciplines

Building a healthy organisation (like our person) involves disciplines.

Four actually, and each one is essential.


Discipline 1: Build a cohesive team at the top.

To overcome dysfunction the Top Team must master a small set of behaviours.

Building Trust is key. So too is Mastering Conflict.

Achieving Commitment is also vital. That’s a commitment to One Plan for the business. To collective results that please customers, stimulate change and lead innovation.

And then Accountability.

Without accountability (for results and behaviours) you’re not yet serious about building a healthy organisation.

None of this is touchy-feely or theoretical.

It’s about doing what works and setting the standard for others to follow.

Discipline 2: Create clarity.

The Top Team must agree to the answers to a few simple questions.

We call them the 7 Essential Clarity Questions. They provide purpose and direction.

The questions start with why the business exists. And they range from how people should behave to what is most important in the short term.

Sadly most executives don’t possess the kind of clarity that organisational health demands.

Many can’t even precisely articulate the aim, scope, and advantage of their business.

If they can’t do so (in a simple statement), no one else should be expected to either.

Discipline 3: Over-communicate clarity.

Clarity must be shared.

Sharing is the keyword. Telling only takes you so far.

Asking and listening are essential tools in the hands of the leader.

Hence this discipline often involves talking less and listening more.

The payoff is massive.

Asking and listening builds confidence and morale.

It increases understanding and empathy. And it increases other people’s trust and confidence in you. Essential for your licence to lead.

Wise leaders also understand how important it is to communicate inspiration too.

  • They make it personal
  • They tell stories
  • They construct metaphors
  • They make themselves vulnerable.

These build the necessary emotional connections that a healthy organisation thrives on.

Discipline 4: Reinforce clarity

Finally, healthy organisations make sure their human systems reinforce what is most important.

This means how …

  • New hires are recruited and initiated into the culture of the business …
  • People are developed and grown in the company …
  • Performance is managed and rewarded.

This discipline is about embedding clarity deep into the fabric of the organisation.

Too often it is not.

There’s 1 more thing!

To be truly healthy an organisation must also get better at meetings.

Yes, meetings!

Read: Making Meetings Great Again.

Making these changes will ensure you maintain what you’ve worked so hard to build.

Finally … 

Most organisations are not struggling because they lack good products, market opportunities, or bright people.

Rather they are struggling because they are unhealthy.

It’s up to leaders to fix this. 

When you do, people will be released to work together. To solve problems, design products, and serve customers in ways that your competitors can only dream about.

That’s worth putting effort into … don’t you think?

What to do next?

Please comment below.

I’ll send you a copy of our Organisational Health Checklist and the 7 Essential Clarity Questions. Like everything we do – it’s always simple, clear, and actionable.

Or, to start a conversation, please contact me at

References and Credits: The Advantage – Patrick Lencioni

Is your team having enough conflict?

Reading time: 2 mins 3s

This was no ordinary Leadership Team. 

Their discussions flowed quickly to the most important and difficult issues.

There was very little of the fake harmony that characterises the dynamics of so many teams.

Their conversations were passionate and unguarded. Team members voiced their opinions and views even if this meant disagreeing with each other.

All this happened inside their meetings. There was no corridor talk about each other to third parties.

Loyalty to the absent was one of their most sacred rules. This set them apart.

Many teams prefer to talk about one another. Not about what is really going on. Not this one!

I also noticed the team was very respectful and human with one another.

What was the result?

  • They solved real problems.
  • They made decisions.
  • Bottlenecks disappeared.

But it also had another effect.

  • There was no politics.

Making the best decisions for their organisation became an obsession.

The focus of the business shifted to where it needed to be … winning the hearts and minds of customers.

This set the tone for the next layer of leaders and their teams.

They fixated on not becoming complacent.

Competitors and technologies were threatening and disruptive.

They could not afford for hubris and mediocrity to take hold.

A new Executive who joined the team found it very difficult at first.

He was uncomfortable with this level of transparency and candor. He was used to sheltered, conflict-averse environments, and to navigating corporate politics.

But the leader of the business was clear.

He liked to say … “if you’re not regularly pushing one another outside of your emotional comfort zone, you’re not making the best decisions for the business.”

This set the tone and he was unapologetic about it.

It was often a little messy.

Sometimes he pushed too hard and it felt personal.

But his motive was always consistent and transparent. It was always about making the best decisions for the business.

At the same time, I noticed how hard he worked to build trust and respect in the team.

The team really valued this.

The new Executive quickly realised that being on this team was good for him too. It represented a critical growth point in his career.

He told me it was like waking up after a very long sleep.

My journey with this team has been an absolute highlight of my consulting career.

Their environment remains disruptive and ultra-competitive. Big players with deep pockets and massive ambitions are encroaching on their space. It will always be that way.

But I’ll bet my money on them making it.

I bet they will continue to figure out ways to innovate and solve problems faster than their competitors.

That’s because they have done what few teams ever manage to do.

They have mastered conflict.

What’s the lesson? 

  1. Passionate, Unfiltered Debate (PUD) is necessary for building commitment and making good decisions.
  2. Trust and respect build loyalty. It also removes the personal risks, and makes PUD a possibility.
  3. Confusion, politics, and ambiguity have a high cost. Eliminating these is the #1 job of the Leadership Team.

We love hearing from you. Please comment below. Do you think mastering conflict is critical on a team? What happens if you don’t?

Would you like to build a great leadership team? Contact me to find out how …



Trust is a superpower. Does your team have it?

Trust is a Superpower. Does Your Team Have It?

Reading Time: 2 mins 20s

A few years ago I found myself working with an Executive Team where the levels of trust were low.

The lack of it was thick in the air.

People hid their mistakes and weaknesses from each other.

No one dared ask for help.

Team members avoided spending time together.

There was very little spontaneity and banter. I noticed how each person managed their words and actions. They wasted precious time and energy on self-protection.

Being guarded was normal for them. Conflicts and discontent were disguised by fake harmony and humour.

Meetings were ineffective, rigid, stuck-up affairs, which everyone disliked, even dreaded.

The organisation craved leadership – but this Executive Team was unable to provide it.

The effects seeped into the business.

Politics and silo’s slowed everything down. The culture was inward-looking. Internal competition was the way to get ahead. Several of the company’s most talented people in key positions left.

This was a real wake-up call for the Chief Executive.

Something had to change.Trust is the highest form of human motivation

Stephen R. Covey

Trust is a precious commodity on an Executive Team.

It boils down to the willingness of individuals to be vulnerable.

This is hard for Executives.

It means asking for help. Taking risks in giving feedback. It means admitting mistakes and weaknesses.

Being vulnerable is a special kind of strength. A superpower if you like. It transforms relationships. And it has a huge impact on group norms and team dynamics.

When you work with people who;

  • Offer and accept apologies without hesitation
  • Accept questions and input into their areas of responsibility
  • Tap into each other’s skills and experiences
  • Focus time and creativity on important issues, not politics and sideshows
  • Spend very little time protecting themselves and undermining each other

… life on the team is never the same again.

All the internal noise goes away.

Now, it’s possible to do the real work. To be resourceful and innovative. To create value.

What happened to the Team?

Over time, the Chief Executive came to see that he played a vital role in building trust.

  • At first, it was hard, but he showed courage. He took risks and was vulnerable without guarantees that others would respond.
  • He was authentic. He acknowledged the mistakes he’d made and apologised. He asked for the team’s support. Because he was consistent and sincere, people responded well.
  • He also showed empathy. He put his phone away. He started paying attention to the people around him. He concentrated on serving the needs of other people. Not himself!

The CEO’s actions allowed for new conversations to take place.  

It also earned him the right to expect more from others.

This set the scene for change.

Now conversations on the team are different. People speak up. They tackle issues and they make better decisions, faster than before.

In the next level of leaders, there is more collaboration, less silo thinking, and much less politics than before. Critically, their attention has shifted to solving problems, not just talking about them.

What’s the lesson here?

  1. At the top, trust is not a nice to have … it’s a requirement to lead.
  2. Without trust, there is no Executive Team … at least not one with the credibility to lead, inspire and transform.
  3. Trust can be restored … but it takes a determined effort and some risk.
  4. One person willing to take the risk gets the ball rolling.
  5. Two people willing to move forward allows new and exciting things to happen!

We would love to hear from you.

Do you have the Superpower called Trust in your team? Please comment below.

+ Download our Trust Checklist for Teams by clicking here.



How to emerge from COVID with your culture strengthened?

How to emerge from COVID with your culture strengthened?

Reading time: 2 mins 50s

Covid-19 has changed our way of work. The ‘Zoom-i-fication of Society’ as some are calling it is permanent.

Two or three-day office work weeks are rapidly becoming the norm.

Some of my clients say they will only return to the office in March 2022. That’s a long way away. What we hoped would be a sprint now turns out to be a triathlon

Waiting for the Triathlon to start

So, in this hybrid world of work …

  • How do you build winning, happy, motivated teams … and sustain performance for the long haul?

This is the Management Challenge of our time  

To emerge from Covid with the spirit of your organisation alive and well. With the culture and performance of your business strengthened, not depleted.

It’s a big ask.

How you rise to the challenge will define your success this year.

Here are a few practical thoughts on how to do so with the team you lead.

A. Purpose

  • Everyone is experiencing challenges right now. Don’t assume that people feel the same way about their work as before.
  • Anticipate this. Talk about the purpose of your team. Much more than normal. Discuss the relevance and impact of your work on others. Remind people why your team is important.
  • Make it personal. Remind team members why what they do matters and to whom.

B. Focus

  • Create hyper-focus. This means your team goals are clear, simple, and ambitious. 7, 8 or 10 goals are too many. Concentrate your team’s energy on doing a few things really well.
  • Break big goals down into smaller ones. Radically re-prioritise work and consider which goals should not be worked on at all!
  • Keep your team in the loop on decisions being made in the wider business. It’s the unknown that unsettles people. Make time for discussion, so people can process what these decisions mean to them.

C. Recognition

  • Ensure people are seen and heard. This is a basic human need – amplified by isolation and remote work. People want to be known and valued for who they are. Not treated like machines.
  • Celebrate small wins … for goals achieved and for conduct that reinforces your culture. Recognise people who help others. Ensure you too are a positive inspiration to the people around you.
  • Make sure team members know what a good day means to them. Help them to develop a simple set of criteria so they know for themselves … and not because you tell them.

D. Care

  • Give your attention. Access to you is important. Be mindful of your own busyness. Trust is built on empathy and authenticity. If you’re unavailable, distracted (or absent emotionally) trust is compromised.
  • Burnout is real. Be vigilant because it’s on the rise. (See Beyond Burned Out, a must-read article). Feeling overwhelmed, drained, and unable to meet constant demands are clear signs. Be an expert in recognising burnout and intervene early.
  • Know what flexibility means to team members … and build flexibility into your team’s way of work. Develop a system together that promotes healthy habits, fosters creativity, and delivers performance.

E. Meetings

  • Decide which meetings must happen in-person. Get commitment to be at the office for these. Make these meetings valuable. Don’t use them for routine work that could be done virtually. Use these meetings to give people a reason to come to the office.
  • Keep your weekly 1:1’s consistent. This gives structure and stability. Remember to ask your 2 guiding questions; “What are your priorities this week?” “How can I help you?”
  • Consider only starting meetings at 9.00 a.m. With all meetings finished by 4 p.m. Take the bold step and make 1 day a week a meeting-free day.

I encourage you to start working in all of these 5 areas. To get active.

The world of work has changed forever. The forces driving this are out of our control.

What we can control is our response.

The best managers are already hard at work …  determined to not miss the opportunity presented by this time of disruption and change!

Please comment below: What are you doing to sustain performance for the long haul? To emerge from COVID with the spirit of your organisation alive and well?




Storm ahead

How do you prepare your business for the year ahead?

Reading time: 2 mins 50s

It’s 2021 and the storm is still blowing.

The new year kicks off with the same uncertainties (and dangers) that we experienced in 2020.

The question on every leader’s mind right now is:

  • How do I prepare my business for the year ahead?

Now, more than ever, it’s necessary to manage a few things well.

These are the ‘few essential things’ to ensure you lead with impact in 2021.

  1. Identify and win the right battles.

Time, energy, and resources dictate now that you have to pick the right battles.

Select 3. The 3 you must achieve with excellence or nothing else this year will really matter.

Use them to rally the business.

  • To align resources, energy, and action.
  • To sweep aside inertia. To build hope.

Selecting which 3 means making sense of your world.

Being truly in touch with reality … with your customer. Can you detect patterns in what’s happening around you? Patterns that put your business on the offensive.

Can you even go on the offensive in 2021?

Are you currently strong or is your business vulnerable? Honest, penetrating, inclusive discussions about what you must do and what you can do are essential right now.

(See our related post … Getting Through the Storm)

It also means making choices.

You can’t do everything – not at the same time. Even if you want to. Too many priorities mean none at all. This is a general principle – but it’s never more true than in 2021.

Make choices and then make those things happen.

  1. Create an effective top team.

To make things happen you have to mould a true team.

A team that is able to focus all its efforts and resources on winning these battles.

This means submerging egos, eliminating politics, and dismantling silo thinking. It’s time to go all in.

Remove all barriers that impede the team from coordinating seamlessly.

red Tape

It’s also important to adopt the mindset that you will improvise, adapt and overcome. Whatever happens. 

Be a Leader. Play your part in setting the tone.

Perhaps the most important action to take in 2021 is to ensure you have the right people in the right seats on the bus.

This is the only true security for an uncertain future.

It’s about people who respond quickly and know how to get things done.

  • Who are team players.
  • Who take ownership and fix problems.
  • Who bounce back and rally others.
  • Who act with the right big picture motivations in place.

The team at the top includes your next layer of leaders. Work very, very hard to get the next 20, 50 or 100 people 100% committed to winning the battles.

Please don’t leave them behind.

  1. Over-invest in your culture.

Now is the time that cultures get tested. 

How you deal with customers, employees and other key people matters right now. These actions offer deep insight into the soul of your business … into who you really are.

This is what will be remembered long after the storm blows over.

Find opportunities to celebrate successes publicly. Recognise employees who are living the values in the midst of the crisis.

Reinforce what you stand for.

The idea is to take positive action to reinforce what you stand for … the cultural values that underpin what you believe in.

It’s also worth remembering that 2020 showed us how resilient people are.

But there’s still a long way to go. Empathy, encouragement, authenticity, truth (told with kindness) is still the currency of our relationships.

Finally …

A crisis creates a situation one can take advantage of. More so than when things are going well. It’s easier in a crisis to rally people in a single direction.

Opportunities abound in bad times as well as good times. Perhaps even more so.

Opportunity in a crisis

The stage is set for change.

I hope you are able to make of this critical time a defining moment – one that will shape the future for many years to come.

We look forward to sharing the journey with you …

Please comment below: How are you preparing your organisation for the year ahead?

Build commitment and focus for the year ahead

Do you need to build commitment, set expectations and focus your team?

Get everyone on your team heading in the same direction

Reading Time: 2 min 30s

Last time we wrote about clarity …

Making choices to focus and simplify your business. This is the most important work of the Executive Team.

The key lies in answering the 7 Essential Clarity Questions.

Then it’s about over-communicating the answers to these questions through all the layers of your organisation.

Focus, discipline and simplicity are key. So is trust.

In short …

  • The team’s in your business must know what to focus on.
  • They must know and understand their purpose.
  • People on the team must trust one another and be willing to perform together.

There must also be a well-established meeting discipline. One where facts and data get on the table and everyone on the team knows what’s going on.

Success does not happen in isolation either. Sales depend on Manufacturing, Operations on Supply Chain, and so on.

This means your expectations of other teams must be clear and your relationships healthy.

What’s surprising is how often they are not!

All of the above takes work, coordination, and intention.

It’s all part of the discipline of execution.

  • Translating high-level strategy into actionable goals creates focus.
  • Ensuring every team has a purpose and knows how to contribute in a meaningful way gets people engaged.
  • Setting clear expectations and guidelines for how departments will work together and behave removes friction and confusion.

It’s all part of getting people fired up, focussed and fully engaged. 

A tool I have found very helpful in making this happen is the Team Charter.

It’s organised under 3 main headings … Purpose, Results, and Behaviours.

The Charter captures why a team exists, how it will succeed, what it’s highest priorities are and how people will behave.

We’ve used this simple format with teams over many years with great success. The key is that it’s simple.

Simplicity is vital.

Everything is on a single page and everyone on the team is part of creating it.

This makes the buy-in so much higher.

The Charter is also used to set expectations with other departments.

Too often ‘Department A’ has no clue what ‘Department B’ is working on. In most cases, very little attempt has been made to clarify goals or synchronise activity.

Sharing the Charter and using it to set expectations solves this problem.

Finally, the Charter helps with team meetings. It offers a template for a simple, yet effective weekly meeting structure.

Teamwork, at the end of the day, is not complicated or hard to understand. 

The hard part is showing up every day and doing it.

For a busy team, the Charter makes the hard work much easier to do.

Ultimately, it also does the most important job of all. It gets everyone onto the same page and it keeps them there!

Would you like to use the Team Charter for your team?

Please mail me at I’d love to share it with you!