Global Leadership Thoughts
Conversational interviews with top business leaders and leadership experts from around the world.
The converstaion consis of 5-10 minutes of insights, experiences and know-how from members of the global business community (from virtually any industry), who open up a window to their business lives: what fires them up in the morning, what gets them through the day, and what keeps them up at night. Their insights will give you food for thought and motivation for your own business.
We will cover some of the hottest topics in the world of global business like IPOs, corporate social responsibility, business ethics, staff retention, sustainabilty,branding,digitatlization, learning and development, etc.
Leadership in a crisis: Your future relies on how you achieve your target
It was 2008, and it was apparent that the world would endure one of the biggest economic crises ever seen, but Michael was not scared - he took the situation as a challenge. As the CEO of an international company with 100 people and annual net profit of over EUR 200 million, he was still incredibly motivated as the chips began to fall. He saw his objective as achieving roughly the same level of profit, or, in the worst case, avoiding any severe losses.
All of a sudden, he was invited to his company’s parent headquarters, where his boss told Michael he must, at a minimum, achieve at least EUR 40-50 million in profit for 2009.
Michael was extremely shocked and scared by what he had just been told. But, then as now, he was the kind of person who is a risk-taker, and he has always loved challenges. “I can do this,” he thought.
Trimming and slashing
After a few months had passed, he realized that his only course of action would be to achieve that profit and the only way he could do that would be by making some deep cuts to the budget, starting with his operational department, also making cuts to the marketing budget; and funds for training and personal development were also slashed.
Many young people had joined his company two years earlier in great part because of the opportunities for continuous learning and the training they thought they would receive. Now it was just how the company used to do things, a relic of the past. Would those same bright and ambitious juniors stay with the company if they could no longer receive such development opportunities?
Then, at the end of 2008, Michael’s company recorded profits of EUR 49 million - he had succeeded.
Wow, he did it…?
As usual the company held its annual Christmas party. Michael’s boss arrived, flying in from corporate headquarters. Everyone congratulated Michael and they all wanted to shake his hand because he had achieved his target despite the tough times.
But Michael had deep misgivings at this holiday party. He could feel that his colleagues and staff at the company were not acting and behaving like they used to. He wondered whether they still had his back. Despite the strange feelings, Michael still felt accomplished that he had made a decent profit despite the tough times all businesses were enduring in the economic crisis.
Disintegration of the team
At the beginning of 2009, things seem to be humming along, or at least not much has changed for Michael, despite some small changes at the company. In February, however, there was a huge shock for him as a leader: two of his best sales managers decided to leave the company. Then, in March, two other leading managers - some key individuals at the enterprise, also left. Just when Michael didn’t think it was possible, in april, two young promising staff members also decided to quit.
In June, Michael was invited to corporate headquarters, where he, too, was fired.
What the hell had happened? He wasn’t sure. “How did it come to this?” he wondered.
Both 2008 and 2009 had been successful years under his leadership, but somehow the system had crashed.
But I hit my target, right?
As for the justification for his firing, the board told him that he hadn’t been fired for not reaching his monetary targets, but because so many key staff members had left in such a short period of time.
Distraught and unsure what to do or where to go next, that’s when Michael contacted me. He told me his story then, but I remember seeing that he had no idea what had happened to him.
Nowadays, when he thinks back to those times, he has told me he still has very strange feelings about what went down at the company he headed and why.
How leaders are reacting now...
The reason I am sharing all of this with you is, I have been getting the feeling from what I’m hearing in the corporate world nowadays that many similar situations are occurring like this across the globe at a wide variety of enterprises.
Here’s a clue: When those staff were asked in their exit interviews why they had decided to leave the company, the younger, promising employees said that were leaving because they had been attracted by the company’s development program, but because michael had cut costs it no longer existed; the sales managers also offered feedback: that Michael had completely changed as a leader and had become very arrogant; his key middle managers also weighed in, reporting that they had the feelings that they were absolutely alone and had no support with their middle management problems.
When there’s a crisis that has emerged from the inside of an enterprise, or from outside of it, that’s the time when upper management needs to provide a maximum amount of support to his/her employees. It’s not prudent to cut costs from the learning and development or training budgets, or even from mentoring, because while reducing those expenses may look like a temporary solution to the company’s problems, it’s definitely not the right approach for the long-term.
Think it over, and then again
That’s why I’d like to draw the attention of all leaders, that this type of outcome has happened at companies across the planet - and sometimes that’s a must - but please, don’t cut costs for the personal development of staff, because you need them and have to support them. Think it over before you act and place emphasis on the needs of your staff, as these are the people you’ll be needing in the future.
Careful consideration of what you cut
If you’re “like Mike,” an executive faced with huge challenges, and you decide to contact a mentor or a coach earlier in such a challenging period, perhaps you can and will retain your young, promising staff at the company. They’re likely to be very useful for the future of the enterprise and are more likely to stick around if they know they can count on training, development and mentorship. Maybe the situation could have been handled differently and had an entirely different turnout, so give your budget cut decisions a second thought, if not a third.
People and businesses are living in the past - are you??
#Businessleader, are you and your business able to escape from the past? Are you too attached to how things were? Do you believe it’s possible to go back to the way things were - “business as usual” - before the #covid19pandemic started?
For many (probably most) of us, that’s not going to happen.
Ask yourself these three questions: 1) What does your business look like? 2) What would you like your organization to look like? and 3) What will your organization look like?
Anything is possible, whether you’re an individual or an organization.
Focusing on the future: Courage, Scope, Capacity
Try considering these three FUTURE factors: COURAGE, SCOPE & CAPACITY.
Your future courage, for example, might be a personal ambition that drives you to do something unknown, to be a disruptor.
Future scope involves asking questions like: “Do we know where we are headed? Is it the right direction, or not? What is our range of opportunities?” When we have a scope defined, it is time to proceed and capitalize upon the opportunities we have identified.
Future capacity involves creativity, resources that are available to develop new mindsets that can help you to realize yourself and see a future that is loaded with potential.
One prime example is the Disney Company’s identification of their Disney Plus segment as the source of the company’s future potential, so they’re not reinventing a bunch of things but deciding where to focus their energy. This means they’ll be making a transformation in their business, not to mention pushing for some innovation.
This is the case for any size of enterprise, not just giants like Disney.
But they have to see the future potential, explore their strengths and weaknesses and what they are capable of performing to be able to position themselves. It’s also necessary to climb to be able to achieve something.
What leaders should do
As we’ve mentioned in our previous post, it’s really crucial for the leaders of a company to show up. They need to be influencers within the organization in the most positive sense of the word, putting communication in absolute focus. Leaders will have the mandate to communicate what kind of transformation their company will undergo, what kind of changes will be necessary in order to facilitate that, and where the enterprise is heading.
Meanwhile, upper management needs to align their business with the transformation. One of their key audiences will be the employees of the company.
Should you have a plan?
Some executives we’ve spoken to believe it is of utmost importance to have a plan, even if it’s not the best one. Your organization may have a number of options: Plan A, B, C, or D.
We believe that every company must somehow retain their business and figure out what aspects of their activities have been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A recent, compelling survey by McKinsey has isolated the types of businesses that they believe will perform well in the future in light of employees working from home. Among those were insurance companies, software enterprises, banking and other businesses whose services can be provided from home.
To the surprise of some, virtual banking has also worked during the physical lockdown periods in Europe.
What do I need for pursuing the future? How should I communicate?
How do leaders need to take the bull by the horns and push things forward in these times? A lot of energy, and courage is necessary to take steps forward.
Many times we see in the media that CEOs are eager to pursue redundancies, cutting staff numbers by 50% following a crisis, but some leaders do pursue other strategies.
Why not send a better message out to those who may like to work for you in the future? It is certain that future job seekers will also be searching for company heads who care about their staff, looked after their people during the Coronavirus pandemic, having effectively communicated what was going on.
While their messaging may change from day to day, the good news is that their keeping in touch with employees makes staff feel much more reassured than if there is little-to-no communication from their corporation’s leader.
And what will stay the same?
Getting to the #newnormal is going to take some time - many things will transform and change but a lot of things won’t change at all. If we’re speaking about doing business across the globe, travel is definitely set to change.It will be gradually allowed, step by step. Students are questioning the wisdom of paying full tuition for bricks and mortar university education, while the healthcare industry seems to be embracing telemedicine. These are huge changes, both for consumers and for business.
So, what should we be paying attention to now?
Leaders like yourself should be focused. Make sure you’ve set your own goals on which you’re focused: BE more, DO more and ACHIEVE more.
Look forward, not back at the past, as an individual or as a business. Make sure to have the courage, scope and capacity to achieve more.
Also, remember to be disruptive - you’ll need to try a lot of things. Every crisis brings something new.
What will these unprecedented times mean for you and your business?
The time to start all of this is NOW. Businesses need to move forward - change and innovate - and we can help you to initiate transformation of your organization.
“Normal” starts in 2022 - are you Surviving, Adapting, or THRIVING?
That’s what we’ve heard from corporate leaders in the UK, US, Poland, Slovenia, Ukraine, Abu Dhabi - that the new “normal” following the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, whose effects have changed nearly every aspect of our existence, will only show its face in 2022.
They say it’s not like the crisis in 2008, which was a financial crisis. This time, many more unexpected things have happened. People are never prepared for a crisis, and this one is absolutely a much more massive transformation than we’ve ever seen in our lives.
Seemingly, from one day to the next, business owners and the leaders of enterprise have had to understand and realize that “yes, this will not be something that lasts two days or two months - maybe it will last 2-3 years; two at a minimum.”
Others, who haven’t come to terms with the reality of the situation, are losing their minds in frustration. They don’t know what to do, how to manage things - regardless of their size. They could be small- and medium-sized enterprises as well. They are reaching the period when they’re beginning to question themselves: “Maybe we’d better do something to survive?”
Leading your company beyond survival - how others do it
Yes, they have to SURVIVE, but this is also an opportunity for enterprises like yours to THRIVE.
Case #1: More than 60% of the world’s leading companies like Apple, Microsoft, or McDonald’s have shown that they can thrive even during some kind of crisis. They thrive because somehow they try to change their mindset and adapt to the situation.
Case #2: Then, there are the so-called unicorn companies, which were able to triple their revenues even in 2008-09 during the time of the economic crisis, disrupters like Dropbox, Uber, or AirBnB, just to mention a few. Such enterprises saw the opportunity within an economic crisis and were able to double or triple their revenues in a very short period of time.
Three corporate coping phases for crises
In this COVID-19 pandemic #economy (and any other upheaval situation) there are three #strategies a business owner can choose from: 1) survival, 2) adaptation and 3) thriving.
For several months now, we have not known what will happen going forward.
#1: SURVIVAL is not just a challenge for business leaders, but for everyone. They have to protect their employees and their customers, but some clever ones embrace #innovation to modify their business, like Jameson Whiskey making hand sanitizer, or Tesla retooling their production line to manufacture medical ventilators - these companies both realized an opportunity where they could contribute to alleviating the pandemic through their business activity - a real “win win”.
#2: The ADAPTATION phase is the time to move forward.
During this lockdown we have not known how things will open up or how they will be in the #future. It’s very important to take note here that the CUSTOMER has fundamentally changed; they are still eating, doing sport, working, socializing, playing in their lives, but how they are doing these things has changed drastically, most times online and using #streamingmedia.
Companies need to find HOW they can adapt what they do - their products or services - to the customers’ way of doing things. They must take that factor into consideration. That means that this period is a crucial time for accelerating innovation.
#3: THRIVING involves being able to imagine a better future. This is all about companies’ ability to use the crisis as a catalyst for what they would like to achieve. Regardless of the size of the business, what can they maintain in their new business model? Transfer but not change 100%? How can they shift from A to B? How can they utilize #technology to do this?
EXAMPLE: The healthcare industry has been showing us how this is done. All over the world both state and private healthcare organizations are employing video check-ups: medical consultations that happen virtually over the Internet. This is REVOLUTIONARY, both for the industry and for patients.
SURVIVING takes 0-4 months. ADAPTATION 4-20 months. THRIVING 2-3 years.
Now’s the time for LEADERS to step up and ACT
Employees, customers and investors will all be looking to leadership to lead them out of the crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. This all means that this is the moment when a #management must “show up”. If someone’s a good leader, then this is definitely apparent during a period of crisis.
Just one aspect: Regarding #humanresources, as people seek job in the future, their focus will be looking for hopeful and optimistic corporate leaders who were able to pull their company out of this COVID-19 crisis successfully; job seekers won’t want to work for companies that are stagnating, jeopardizing their health(!) and not doing anything to move forward in times of crisis.
8 Conditions for Success as a CEO
If you compare what made CEOs successful just 10 years ago with what makes them successful today, you’ll notice some changes. There’s been an evolution in the way leaders think about their companies, employees, communities and even themselves. Regardless of what has driven these shifts, leaders can set the conditions for success in today’s workplace in 8 ways. Warning: Many of these may require you to step outside of your comfort zone.
- Your purpose is fuel. Nobody wants to work anymore for a company that says its No. 1 goal is “shareholder value.” While that may have been true in the past, running a business today is also about customers and employees. Unite colleagues and stakeholders around a clear purpose to energize them to work for your business. Employees want to do something great for the world and understand how their actions contribute.
- Drive the culture you believe in. Invest in your culture as a differentiator to attract and retain the right talent. Ten years ago, especially when the economy sputtered, the way many executives talked about their teams was almost as if people had no other options. That’s no longer the case. Employees are free agents. The most recent CEO survey confidence shows 56% of CEOs plan to hire in the next year. With unemployment at a decade low, finding and retaining talent is a critical challenge. It’s more important than ever to craft a culture that appeals to the type of employee who’s will drive your business forward.
- Bridge the generational divide. Nowadays, it’s common for a business to have five generations in the workplace. Trying to speak to every constituency with its own attributes is almost impossible. Communicate that your organization values collaboration and respect, and every generation will nod in agreement.
- Champion transparency and candor. Today, any reaction to what we say can pop up on social media in minutes. Leaders should embrace this feedback – good or bad – because it drives transparency. It signals where you and your organization may need to focus its attention. Your own candor also increases loyalty and alignment. Create an open environment where your team can celebrate the successes and learn together from the failures.
- Embrace vulnerability as a strength. Vulnerability now is a strength that leaders want to be open about. They want to be clear about their shortcomings and their mistakes. This is important because it shows your team (and your family) that you are trying to improve. A leader who thinks they must have all the answers—or else appear weak to their team—is not setting themselves up for success.
- Know the details of your business, but don’t get stuck in the weeds. Top executives can no longer get away with just being cheerleaders for their companies. Because you have ready access to data about every facet of your business, your board and leadership team expect you’ll use it. Your familiarity with the details doesn’t mean you should micromanage. A leader’s role is still to provide bold, strategic decisions. But leaders have to understand the details to provide relevant guidance and to keep up with data-driven competition.
- Challenge your perspective. Surrounding yourself with people who push you for clarity and offer differing points of view is a fundamental condition for success. This source of feedback should come from both internal teams and peers outside the office. It’s important to prevent confirmation bias, situations in which we’ve made up our minds and start asking people who we know will agree with our perspective. We have to be strong enough to open our mind to totally different ways of thinking. CEOs position themselves for better success when they implement a process to gain unbiased feedback on a regular basis.
- Then make a decision. In today’s environment, the inability to make timely, accurate decisions can cost the company and the leader. Nothing indicts a leader more than when they don’t make decisions. Execute your plan, then tweak based on the results. There’s no shame in making a bold decision that doesn’t work out as expected — as long as you learn from the experience and are open with your team.
CEOs who view themselves as unilateral decision-makers with little accountability will fail in today’s workplace and economy. Yes, your primary responsibility is to be the chief strategic decision-maker. The buck does stop with you. But employees expect to be active participants in your vision, and the complexities of a fast-paced, data-driven world mean you simply can’t make effective decisions without input from others. To be a great leader today, you have to learn to embrace this complexity, even when it means leaving your comfort zone.
By Sam Reese.
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Dr. Andreas Boettcher, a recognized sales professional who used to be an actual physician but built and sold a multi-million dollar wellness center from the ground up. He says that his advanced sales strategies grabbed people’s attention: entrepreneurs began to seek him out about his sales process and wanted to hear how he was able to attract so many clients, growing his business quickly every year.
Featured in numerous motivational podcasts (as a recognized motivational speaker), Dr. Andreas now gives speeches and travels around the globe, as well as working with some of the biggest brands in professional sports and hospitality in the US and Canada. He also works with bestselling authors like T. Harver Ecker and Brian Tracey, offering sales techniques, sales strategy and training sales professionals on the art of the authentic sales success.Great experience working with him.https://www.drandreas.com/about/ Listent here.
Maya Hu-Chan was recognized by Thinkers50, an international ranking of management thinkers, as one of the top eight Global Solutions Thinkers in the world. I am proud to know&work with Maya.
Maya is president of Global Leadership Associates, an international management-consulting firm based in San Diego, California. Since founding the firm in 1992, she has built a reputation for excellence in executive coaching, global leadership and cross-cultural communication.
Her charismatic and engaging style has made her a regular conference presenter and popular keynote speaker. She is the co-author of “Global Leadership: The Next Generation,” recommended by Harvard Business School Working Knowledge. She is also a contributing author of 10 business books. Among numerous awards, Maya was named one of the top 8 Global Solutions Thinkers in the world by Thinkers50.
A sought-after speaker, she has lectured at The Brookings Institution, the University of Southern California, Penn State University, The University of Chicago, Dartmouth College and the University of California, San Diego.
Born and raised in Taiwan, Maya received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and business from National Chengchi University. She was an anchor for the China Broadcasting Company, then moved to the U.S. to get a master’s degree from The University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications. She served as the CEO of a non-profit organization in San Diego before embarking on her consulting career.She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband and three children.http://mayahuchan.com/.Listent here.