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Business

Part 3 – The 4 part model that will transform your business success

How to get off the hamster wheel

Today’s article will explore part 3 of the successful model for change – Implementation. Below is a reminder of the model I use when helping aid change in organisations and the foundation for this series of articles.

If this is the first article you have read in this series, I highly recommend going back to read part 1 and part 2. The reason being is that too many companies start here in implementation and this is the reason why change fails and is not sustained. 

How to know if you’re a business or leader who heads straight to implementation: 

  1. You have been trying to find a solution to a fix a problem for years, yet year on year the same issues keep arising 
  2. Your team are fed up of trying new ways of working as they do not believe the change will stick – so what’s the point of trying
  3. You use language like ‘we need to get this done’, ‘we need to do this faster’, ‘just make it happen’.

This level of thinking is why so many businesses get caught up in the hamster wheel of ‘doing’ and why ‘doing’ doesn’t create lasting results. 

How does this affect businesses in the long term:

  1. Money lost on projects that do not have a chance of succeeding
  2. A lack of trust amongst the team and a belief that change isn’t possible
  3. Loss of good employees
  4. A culture of frustration, exhaustion and blame
  5. Client dissatisfaction 

Valuing the time spent in Environmental (part 1) and Structural (part 2) thinking is what is going to set you up for success for all your change initiatives – large and small.

How implementation works effectively

So, you have created your vision, goals, standards, aligned on your beliefs as a team, you have your categories, benchmarks and a roadmap to success and now implementation is what actually makes these things happen.

Step one

Start by looking at what is happening now in your business and what new actions need to be introduced following the work you have completed in Environment and Structure.

The actions to begin focusing on are:

  • Decision making
  • Delegation
  • Reporting
  • Short term and long term thinking
  • How you do things
  • What you focus on 

For example:

If you have agreed your standards for decision making is to keep the leadership team informed so they can be united but current standards are that the leaders say one thing and do another…then this is an action that needs to change.

Step two

You need to identify what you ‘do’ as an organisation.

Here are some key questions to ask:

  1. How do the team make decisions?
  2. How well do they plan projects?
  3. How well do they action a project?
  4. Do they complete what they start?
  5. Do they live the values they say they do?

Question 5 really starts to highlight the difference between what people say they do, versus what they actually do.

It’s your role as a leader to uncover these gaps and discover what is missing that is causing this behaviour. 

Step three

The final step is to identify the balance of short term and long term thinking within the team.

Are people thinking short term and doing work that is needed now and to solve the problems of today, or are they able to see the bigger picture that their actions ladder up to?

People tend to be stronger in one of these areas. It’s quite unusual to be strong in both and this is normally a learned behaviour that comes with experience.

Identifying your team’s strengths in both short and long term thinking will impact how they ‘do’ and the success you can achieve as a team and organisation.

Moving forward

I hope I’ve been able to demonstrate that jumping to implementation and ‘doing’ is risky business and the reason why so many companies fail to make even the simplest of changes work.  

It really does start with awareness and taking a step back to view the bigger picture. You have to understand what the first step looks like before you take the first step.

The time is now to stop being a leader that just has a team ‘doing’ lots of stuff. Don’t make being ‘busy’ a benchmark for productivity.  It is a false assumption that busy means progress.  

It’s time to get off the hamster wheel and be a leader who can elevate your teams thinking to set them up for success. You can be a leader of the future who creates high performers who innovate and drive sustainable business results. 

I have created a very simple pdf guide that takes you through this exact process and a case study to show the power of the thinking and it is currently available for FREE from my website. Grab your copy here.

If you would like know more about how I can bring this model to life within your organisation please email me on hello@joannahowes.com

Joanna Howes is an international award-winning high performance coach and bestselling author based in London. She’s been featured on NBC, FOX and MSP News Global. If you want to lose the limits that are holding you back, book in for a free introductory call right here.

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Business

Part 2 – The 4 part model that will transform your business success

The thinking of a great leader

In my first article of the ‘Making Change Work’ series I introduced the power of the Critical Alignment Model and shared the importance of starting in Environment thinking to build alignment for successful change.

Critical Alignment Model

We are now going to dig deeper into the importance of the second stage of thinking which is entitled ‘Structure’. Now, this isn’t organisational structure, for example org charts, it is a level of leadership thinking and most importantly a method of thinking in categories and measurement. 

Structure is a big dimension of thinking and truth be told, where the power lies to set you up for success.

This is the thinking of great leaders.  

Let’s start with some of the benefits to thinking in Structure:

You will be able to:

So what is Structure thinking?

Structure is the quantitative characteristics of the organisation. It is the content we can impact and influence.  

Structure includes (is not limited to):

  • The divisions of the business
  • The departments within the business
  • The strategies
  • The physical environment
  • The equipment
  • The systems
  • The checklists and manuals
  • The politics
  • The best practices
  • The KPI’s
  • The benchmarks
Step one – Categories

Structure allows you to organise your thinking and goals into categories and priorities. 

Imagine categories as buckets of content for which plans need to be built.  The content will be the things you have to deal with, things that need to be addressed.  This isn’t starting the implementation, it’s prioritising the plan. 

Case study example: 

A company wanted to introduce project management roles into their company.  

At first the team had polar opposite beliefs on what they believed the role of project management was, and the perception of project management.  So we made time for the team to become aligned on the vision, goals, beliefs, standards etc.

We didn’t move into Structure until we had educated the team to be aligned on their beliefs.

We then agreed the categories within Structure:

  1. The department set up
  2. The roles
  3. The new ways of working
  4. Client communication
  5. Commercial impact
  6. Talent audit and hiring 

We assigned an owner from the leadership team for each category to drive ownership of the change.

Next, we ensured the categories were in priority sequence, so that we focused on the top three, and maximised effectiveness. 

Finally we ensured the team was aligned on the goals for each of the categories. For example, the goal for ‘the department set up’ was to establish the feeling of one team made up of both the account and project managers.

Step two – Creating Strategies

The next critical step is to design your strategies for each category to achieve the desired outcome. 

I witness too many companies setting their goals, and then regressing to the daily routine.  So the team just keeps working as they have always been with blind hope the goal will be met.

This happens because the goals do not have any strategies.  This step is often passed over.

I just don’t have time

If you are reading this and thinking – I just don’t have the time, we just need to get on with it, read on

STOP now

Think about how much time and money you lose when your change initiative doesn’t work.  The pain to the culture of the business that re-enforces the belief that it’s ‘all words and no action’.

The upfront work that is required to make change happen is the demonstration of great leadership and leaders understanding their role.  Remove yourself from the weeds and elevate your thinking to Environment and Structure, and you will finally get off the hamster wheel and achieve sustainable success. 

Step three – Benchmarking.

When I question the majority of companies what their benchmarks of excellence are, I am often met with a prolonged silence.

If you do not have benchmarks, how do you know what you are aiming to achieve and if you have succeeded?

Action is not always sufficient, we need to question whether it was carried out in a way that achieved the desired outcome.

Benchmarks are best practice habits that help you succeed. They allow you to measure performance with facts, not with feelings or personal bias.

A simple example would be:

What is your benchmark for how your company phone is answered? 

  1. Within how many rings
  2. The greeting
  3. Returning call time

Now you can track the progress, impact and consistency of hitting this benchmark of excellence for your company and your teams can manage their own productivity.

Some of the area’s you must have benchmarks for are:

  • Sales 
  • Customer service
  • Talent
  • Communication
  • Ways of working
  • Delivery
  • Employee experience
  • Innovation

I’m hoping this is helping you to see how important it is to spend time thinking in Environment and Structure before you just start DOING.  

Without this level of leadership thinking, you will see your change ideas weaken. You really do need this solid foundation to build change that is effective and lasts.

Join me next week for part 3, where we will explore how to make implementation productive and seamless.

I have created a very simple pdf guide that takes you through this exact process and a case study to show the power of the thinking and it is currently available for FREE from my website. Grab your copy here.

If you would like know more about how I can bring this model to life within your organisation please email me on hello@joannahowes.com

Joanna Howes is an international award-winning high performance coach and bestselling author based in London. She’s been featured on NBC, FOX and MSP News Global. If you want to lose the limits that are holding you back, book in for a free introductory call right here. 

Categories
Business

Part 1 – The 4 part model that will transform your business success

I’m going to share with you today something that has the potential to change how you work and transform the results you get.

PLUS it’s totally awesome and simple. I’ll give some context first.

I have worked in Operations for Advertising agencies for over 20 years. 

Working in operations you have to have a birds-eye view of the entire organisation and you are the master of bringing all the jigsaw pieces together to build a high performing business.  A challenging but a very exciting and varied role.

In this role, I noticed most organisations fail in being able to change behaviour to align and introduce new initiatives for the business, whether small or large changes across roles, departments, services and ways of working.  

A typical conversation looked like this:

“We need to work faster and save money”

“Can you introduce a new process or streamline the layers”

“Come back and tell me what you are going to do in 2 days”

The ideas are presented back and the response is…

“Great go for it and have it done by the end of the month as we have a pitch we need to say we can do this for”

Sound familiar?

So full implementation starts and this new way of working begins.

It starts off well but within a few weeks you see old habits start to creep back. 

You rally around trying to keep momentum but, as this change was imposed on the team, they do not fully understand why it’s happening and cannot see the long-term benefits, so they default back to their existing behaviours. 

With me?

So this is now the awesome bit….

Introducing the four dimensional blueprint for business success for ALL change initiatives. 

The Critical Alignment Model

This model was created by Sharon Pearson the founder of The Coaching Institute and my mentor who I credit along with her team for transforming my life.

This model was designed after extensive research into what needs to be attended to in all businesses for sustainable success.  The research highlighted a pattern of four dimensions that all leaders need to address to achieve their goals faster and easier than ever before. 

ENVIRONMENT

STRUCTURE

IMPLEMENTATION

PEOPLE

The beauty of this model is it stops the hamster wheel of ‘doing’ and wondering why you seem to have the same recurring problems year-on-year. 

The many other benefits of this model:

  1. Builds trust, teamwork and alignment
  2. Saves you time and money
  3. Drives collaboration
  4. Creates a leadership team of critical, strategic and consequential thinkers  
  5. Turns words into action that lasts
  6. Enables consistent business growth and progression

It really is transformational.

To begin we are going to review the Environment stage and next week I’ll explain the second phase – Structure. 

So how does it work?

At the heart of the model is ‘Purpose’. You must always start by knowing what your purpose for change or for a project is, otherwise you can end up dancing around in the small details without being able to see the bigger picture and the direction you want to head in.

Then you begin in ‘Environment’ – this is the step that is currently missing for a lot of organisations.

You start by bringing together your key decision makers to align on the vision for the change. You then begin identifying what ‘needs’ to be in place to achieve the vision and then move onto comparing this to the realities of today. 

The areas you are looking to identify the first level of gaps to address are:

  • Your culture
  • Your values
  • Your beliefs
  • Your attitudes 
  • Your standards 
  • Your expectations 

For example: 

To achieve the vision of expanding the companies services into data, you all ‘need’ to believe the right thing to do is hire the roles and build a new department. 

However, you identify that some of your team believe that this is the right thing to do to grow new services and revenue. You also find out that a lot of your team believe this is going to put too much pressure on the business to maintain the quality of service, so it is a risk and they think an acquisition is a stronger strategy.   

If you don’t address the gap between these beliefs then it can potentially cause the new department to fail.

The magic is in the gaps

The ‘Environment’ thinking allows you to discover how to close the gap of where you are today, to be closer to where you want to be tomorrow. It reveals the focus of where your change work needs to start – and it’s very often not where you think.

This is where the magic is. Building a team of future-fit leaders who can think at the right level to make change work.

Your leaders will feel they have ownership of the change to build the momentum that is required to deliver it.

You may be thinking ‘We just don’t have time to do this level of in depth analysis and bring everyone involved. We just need to get on and DO it.’  

I can tell you now that ‘just do it’ costs businesses millions of pounds every year in lost hours, talent leaving and clients not sticking around. 

Stop letting money fly out the window and invest the time and thinking up front to make sure you have sustainable growth and be a business that is still around in the next ten years. 

The more you use this model, the more it becomes how you see the world going forwards, and you become faster at seeing the gaps to elevate your business to the next level.

I look forward to seeing you in the next article for how to build the structure for change to work.

I have created a very simple guide that takes you through this exact process and a case study to show the power of the thinking and it is currently available for FREE from my website. Grab your copy here.

If you would like know more about how I can bring this model to life within your organisation please email me on hello@joannahowes.com

Joanna Howes is an international award-winning high performance coach and bestselling author based in London. She’s been featured on NBC, FOX and MSP News Global. If you want to lose the limits that are holding you back, book in for a free introductory call right here. 

Categories
Business Leadership Potential Self Development

Why so many leaders do not see themselves as a true leader

Why so many leaders do not see themselves as a true leader

There is so much information out there about what it takes to be a great leader, so why is it that we see so few of them?

The big problem I believe and am witnessing over and over again is that some leaders are not identifying and seeing themselves as a leader.  

They have the position, the title, the paycheque and the team, yet inside they still let the 9-year-old child inside themselves direct their belief in their own abilities. 

This is very common and if you resonate with this then I hope it helps you to know you are not alone. However, by not viewing yourself as a leader, and allowing the 9-year-old to lead instead, you are impacting on the results you can achieve for the business, your team and your own career goals. And more often than not, it’s not a positive impact.

So, how do you know if this is you? See if any of the points below resonate with you.

  1. Imposter syndrome – You feel that your peers and those above you are all smarter than you and that you are going to be found out. The voice in your head tells you that you are not good enough and self-doubt delays your decision making.
  1. Avoiding conflict – You stay clear of conflict in the fear of not knowing how to handle it and making the wrong call. Reassuring yourself by claiming ‘how could you know what really happened as you weren’t there?’
  1. Procrastination – You put off the stuff that really matters and you allow it to overwhelm you.
  1. Being busy – You stay in the weeds of the day-to-day to show you are needed and can add value. You wouldn’t know what to do with your time if you let go and handed it over to others.
  1. Control – You need to be in control, make the decisions for your team and have an understanding of everything that is going on. 

It’s time to step into your identity 

Your ‘identity’ is the key to being who you need to be in order to achieve your personal and professional goals.

You must change the way you think about yourself.  

I’ve been there

I know this is possible as it’s exactly what I had to do. I started my own business 3 years ago and was running it with my old identity of the 14 year old girl in the third set of maths (I didn’t realise this at the time but looking back I can see this is what happened). 

This meant I wasn’t putting myself out there, I wasn’t reaching the clients I really wanted to work with and I was very good at finding constant excuses as to why I wasn’t making that call or going to the networking event.  

Luckily, my passion for the work I do wouldn’t accept this. So after reading more books and watching mastermind events the penny dropped as to why I wasn’t where I wanted to be.

I needed to adopt my new identity to run my business if I wanted it to be a success. I needed to be Joanna Howes, the award-winning coach, best-selling author and CEO. I said this out loud quite a few times and the mind-set shift was huge.

Standing in my identity of who I am today has transformed my business and I’m achieving my goals faster and easier than ever before. And having a lot more fun and joy along the way (with not a maths class in sight!).

Being a great leader is so much more than what you do.  It’s who you are.  

Own your leadership. See the world through your leadership eyes of who you are today. and not the child who just wanted to fit in and please people. Who you are is so important to your leadership style, the way you communicate and the way others react to you. 

Honestly, this work is transformational. I’ve been there and I’ve witnessed others successfully go through this process too.

Don’t you think it’s time to find out how you can achieve your ultimate success – not only for your business but for yourself?

I have released a FREE guide – ‘5 steps to stand in your power as a leader’ – if this article struck a chord with you, you’ll find my quick to apply strategies in this guide super helpful. Grab your copy here.


If you found this article of value and you’d like access to more insightful and inspiring articles and resources, visit Joanna’s website here. If coaching is something you’d like to explore to help you achieve your goals and drive personal and business success, book your free discovery session with Joanna here

Categories
Business Teams

The moment I realised I’d lost my spontaneity and how it’s time to bring it back to business

The moment I realised I’d lost my spontaneity and how it’s time to bring it back to business 

I’m currently reading for the 8th time ‘You2’ by Price Pritchett (incredible book) and one of the key learnings is how our tendency is to default to our familiar behaviours and ‘what we do best’ vs. taking a quantum leap and breaking our patterns to create the extraordinary.  

We are creatures of habit and routine, so when we are presented with a world of uncertainty and lack of clarity, it forces us even more to fall into those habits, which can be both productive and unproductive. The problem is even the productive one’s may not be the right thing to be doing.

“It really doesn’t matter how well you do something, if it’s the wrong thing to do”

So, why am I sharing this with you?

Breaking the familiar

It got me thinking, what are my familiar patterns that if I continue doing them will prevent me from reaching new heights of success.

A very simple one came up.

Email vs Picking up the phone.

I have defaulted to email vs. picking up the phone for years, and a very wise person asked me the question why?  

Great question. 

Here’s my answer:

“I worry that I will interrupt someone’s schedule as I can’t remember the last time I phoned someone or someone phoned me and we hadn’t pre-planned a time, It almost feels impolite these days to just pick up the phone”

As I said this out loud it made me think how sad it was that communication and building relationships has become so scheduled and formal.  

On a side note: I was also shocked (and then I wasn’t) to find out that: 81% of millennials feel they need to summon up the courage to make a call.  

This is frightening as I think of all the skills that are being lost and ‘what if’ email suddenly didn’t exist (anything is possible), we would have a huge group of people who do not know how to communicate confidently with each other and businesses would plummet. 

Bring back spontaneity

Okay, back to the story: the lightbulb moment struck and I realised that not only have we lost our spontaneity in lockdown, we lost our spontaneity years ago with email.  

Ask yourself “when was the last time within a business context, did you just pick up the phone and check in with someone”?

We think we are maybe helping by emailing but all this is doing is clogging up an already overwhelmed inbox and potentially causing more stress as you have now added a ‘reply’ on their ‘to do’ list.

Also, do we really get to know someone over email?  I know I’ve got at least 10 people I’m in contact with that I’ve never met or spoken to and yet we converse over email regularly and start with the wonderfully polite greeting of ‘nice to e-meet you’.

Now I’m not saying stop emailing and start calling.  It’s finding the right balance, I just feel we have gone too far one way and I believe it’s time to bring some spontaneity back to life and business.

The benefits of picking up the phone:

  1. You make decisions faster
  2. You can pick up tone on a call and gain clarity of meaning
  3. You can actually solve things faster as it’s achieved in the call not back and forth on email
  4. Reduced anxiety as you’re in the space with the person. You’re not repeatedly clicking ‘refresh’ on your emails second guessing what is going on
  5. You build stronger relationships
  6. You can build on ideas 
  7. You receive an answer in the moment 

I do understand efficiencies and tracking conversations, especially coming from an operations background, however business was once achieved without email and I wonder for all we have gained, what have we lost that would right now be so wonderful and productive to bring back.

We are all searching for connection and community in these strange times, so how about you join me in my quest this week to phone at least 5 people and see how they are and how you could help.

I’d love to know how you get on.


Joanna Howes is an international award winning coach, behavioural expert, and No 1 best selling international author, who specialises in leadership and business operations. If any of these have resonated with you and you would like to explore how a coach can guide you to achieve your success, please book your free discovery session with Joanna here. Joanna also shares free resources on her website which you can access here.

Categories
Business Leadership Potential Self Development

The 3 things that led me to my success and can lead you to yours

The 3 things that led me to my success and can lead you to yours

A lot of people say to me ‘I couldn’t do what you do, Jo’. I have always been baffled as to why people believe that. It’s like they think I have something special or a secret skill that allows me to do what I do…

…and truth is, there really isn’t.

So, I spent some time thinking about what it is I do, or how I think, that has allowed me to transform my life and fulfil my dream.

I want to share them with you now in the hope that you realise it’s never too late and you too can achieve your dreams. 

It’s all about choice and making a decision on how you want to live and the person you want to be.

Number 1 – Drive

I have valued drive since I was 18 years old.  Before then I just sort of wandered through life. I followed the popular gang around, kept my head down and did what I needed to do to get by.

My priority was to fit in, not to excel.

It was at 18 that I then saw how fragile and short life was when my father suddenly passed away in front of me. 

This was my life starting all over again. 

I often wonder, to this day, who I might have been if that hadn’t happened.

After the grieving process and the running away from pain, something ignited in me. I was always a hard-worker – having worked for my dad in a restaurant from the age of 12 – but now there was something new, which I now know as ‘Drive’.

Nothing was going to stop me from being a success. 

I didn’t get the qualifications expected at school and I didn’t pursue any further education, but this just fuelled my drive even more. 

I would show the world that I could be somebody and do well.  

3 ways to ignite your drive:

  1. Visualise the life you want for yourself 5 years from now
  2. Know your why and make sure it is bigger than you – this will get you out of bed
  3. Keep moving forward one step at a time (they can be small steps)

Now, drive on its own wasn’t enough.

Number 2 – Resilience

The second factor that I valued and have built on a daily basis.

Seeing your Dad pass, your Nan have 3 heart attacks in the same night and continuous tragedies over the following 6 years…

I had a choice: To be a victim or to dig into my resilience.

The mental commitment I had made to my dad to make him proud (even though he wasn’t here anymore) enhanced my ability and purpose to build my resilience.  

Don’t get me wrong, I can still get knocked down, and I did when I moved to Australia and very quickly found out the ‘dream job’ wasn’t going to work out. Now though, I am able to quickly rebuild myself to keep going, and with each knock my resilience just gets stronger and stronger. 

What is resilience? 

By definition it means: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

It’s also very important to understand that resilience is a state; it is not a personality trait. You can build your resilience levels and learn the tools and techniques to manage stress, uncertainty and adversity resourcefully to ensure your performance levels remain high. 

3 ways to build your resilience:

  1. Keep promises to yourself with your self-care
  2. Know how to be in charge of your own mind
  3. Realise that you are in control of how you see the world – no one else

Resilience has been one of the most important factors in being able to run my own business. 

Going from 20 years in corporate to being on your own in business is massive, especially when you find out as you go the amount of different hats you need to wear!

Being awarded International Coach of the Year 2020

Number 3 – be a continuous learner

I fell in love with learning again 5 years ago.  I was told I was average at school, which gave me the belief that everyone else was smarter than me.

This was very limiting and once I learnt how to let go of those limiting beliefs, the joy for learning flooded back into my life.

I cannot stress enough how doing just 15 minutes of learning everyday will move you towards the life and results you want. 

I do an hour every morning and I read every day. 

The world is full of the answers you are looking for and the inspiration to be the person you want to be.  

Don’t settle. 

It is proven by neuroscience that the brain can change, adapt and learn new ways of being.  Leverage this and fuel your drive, raise your resilience and learn what could be possible for you.

It won’t happen overnight. But if you really want it, then it can be yours. 


Joanna is an award winning international coach who is passionate about helping people achieve success. Combining 10 years of operational experience with her behaviour expertise and leadership coaching, Joanna has worked with leading companies like Getty Images and the BBC to increase performance and results. If you’re interested to learn how Joanna can help you and your team, book your free discovery session with Joanna here

Categories
Business Leadership Self Development

3 proven strategies to make this year ‘Your Year’

3 proven strategies to make this year ‘Your Year’

We all tend to enter into a New Year with the mindset of it being an opportunity to reset, start again and achieve those goals we have been striving for.

How many of you have said to yourself ‘This is going to be the year’.

When I sat down to write this article, I knew I had a choice. To write the things that will stop you from making this your year (trust me, there are a lot!), or to give you some strategies to help set you up to achieve your goals and targets in 2021.

We are also coping with a 3rd National Lockdown and our initial motivation may have been somewhat knocked.  It’s all too easy to write and talk about what we do badly, so I’m going to share with you 3 strategies that will not only give you a head start, but help you to stay on track with both your business and leadership success this year.

Number 1 – The power of the decision

When someone decides to climb Everest, they don’t start by planning the ‘how’, they start by making the decision that they will get to the top. Once the decision is made, the path of ‘how’ will start to emerge.

For example, if you are thinking of taking your business from £10m a year to £15m a year, don’t start with ‘how’ you are going to do it.  

You first need to decide – with all your body and mind – that you will achieve £15m. If you start with the ‘how’ you can fall into the trap of finding so many reasons why you can’t do it or why it will be hard.

By starting with the committed decision to do it, you will start to find the natural energy and strategies that will help you achieve that goal.

So this year, make the decision on ‘what’ you are going to achieve and the ‘how’ will take care of itself.

Number 2 – Mindset first

STOP DOING! Start thinking. Your mindset is what will make this year great or average.  

“Everything begins inside your mind. With the right mindset you will succeed.”

To change your results you need to change the way you think.

Look back over the last year and reflect on your levels of thinking and how you thought about various situations.

For example: if you are currently resisting change and trying to keep things working the way you like them – yet you are not seeing the results you expect – then you are currently in a fixed mindset and will become stuck.

We are certainly in times of change and the key is to accept and adapt to what is being given to us.

Change your mindset to being curious and open to ideas and suggestions for alternatives.

Be okay if they don’t work straight away or need tweaking.

This is all part of growing and elevating the results you can achieve.  

A business or leader who doesn’t embrace change will get left behind and fade away.

Take charge of your mind and set it to the right place in order to move towards success.

Number 3 – You don’t need to be liked and you don’t need to be right

Too many leaders stay average because their core needs are to be liked and to be right.

It’s part of the leadership journey, but if this is to be ‘Your Year’ then this level of thinking needs to upgrade.

Set yourself up for success by backing your ideas, finding your signature voice and not falling into the trap of people-pleasing and wanting to fit in.  

Be totally okay to not know everything. It’s fine. You are human. Having a leadership title doesn’t mean you become a walking encyclopedia! It’s just not possible and putting this expectation on yourself will distract you from what really matters.

The best kind of leaders are open to learning and continued development. 

Be the difference that makes the difference. Your business and team will thank you for it.

So there you are. My gift to you for the start of the year – three manageable yet proven strategies to help set you up for success in 2021.  


Joanna Howes is a leading coach, behavioural expert, and No 1 best selling international author, who specialises in leadership and business operations. If any of these have resonated with you and you would like to explore how a coach can guide you to achieve your success, please book a free call using this link to discuss how Joanna can help you achieve your goals faster and easier than ever before. To see how else Joanna can help visit her website here.

Categories
Business Leadership Self Development Wellness

Are you a hidden leader?

Are you a hidden leader?

It’s an oxymoron right? A leader reaches the position that they’re in because they are marked out as someone who can guide others – they are the decision-maker, the figure in the spotlight. For all intents and purposes they are visible and accountable. But a huge swathe of leaders I have met recently  seem to feel like who they are as a leader, and the potential of what they can be or what they can achieve with their teams, exists in a parallel universe to the one they’re currently in. Outwardly they are performing and hitting the right notes, but their internal world is at war.  Enter, the ‘Hidden Leader’. 

In my experience this affects some of the most highly skilled, well-liked and tenacious leaders out there – and with the state of the world currently, Hidden Leaders seem to be multiplying. Leaders I am working with are telling me that they question their conviction in decision-making and they wonder about their ability to lead their teams in the way they need to be led during this period of time. The time to change this is now. As businesses face further uncertainty, we need leaders who can lead their teams from a place of certainty. I believe it’s time for Hidden Leaders to emerge from hiding, into a space where they can fully step into their power – if any of this resonates with you, here’s how you can start the process.

I constantly felt like there was more in me 

This topic is an easy one for me to write about because I completely relate to anyone who feels like this. I had a call with a prospective client last week who listed all of the obstacles in the way between where she was now and where she wanted to be and it was like having a conversation with my former self. Before I moved into leadership coaching, I was a Director of Operations for some of the world’s biggest creative agencies – and I spent a lot of this time feeling really disconnected with my leadership style and doubting the decisions I was making. I constantly felt like there was more in me, that I was taking a detour away from my potential.  It was only when I began to look inwards, and started to focus on the self-limiting beliefs I had and the habitual thinking patterns I had developed that I discovered that I could learn to shift these and make real change in my professional and personal life.

How to take control 

After reflecting on my own journey, the research I have undertaken as a behavioural and resilience expert and the case studies I have pulled together from my work as a leadership coach, I have discovered four key growth areas for leaders who are ready to begin this journey to work on. I guarantee if you invest the time in this, you will see the results. So let’s dive in. 

1. There is no such thing as failure it is feedback

We all put limiting beliefs on ourselves and these beliefs are the first blockers in place stopping you from progressing forward within your role and developing your leadership style. Changing your limiting beliefs is possible and the good news is you have full control to do this. It is time you called them out and challenged them.

A common limiting belief I encounter in leaders is: ‘I better not do that as I may fail and be judged’. This is a huge obstacle, as it immediately moves leaders out of a place of learning and growth into safety, and ultimately, inaction. When you shift the thinking around this, re-word it and instead deliver it as: ‘There is no such thing as failure it’s feedback’, it is transformed. This new belief creates huge potential for growth, risk taking and innovation. 

If you need an example to anchor you to this new belief, look no further than some of our greatest leaders, from Richard Branson to Tony Robbins to Oprah. These leaders all have the same thing in common, they have learnt their greatness from the things that didn’t go right.  

Ultimately, you have a choice, one is the path of safety, this will give you a comfortable and okay life, which suits a lot of people. However, if you are reading this, then it’s clear that this isn’t what you’re after. You are hungry to explore your own potential, and this means you need to challenge the beliefs you have about yourself.

One of the best books to get you started with this is, “Feel the Fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers.  The key take out from the book is ‘what is the worst that can happen?’. If you can identify the worst thing, then ask yourself if you can handle it. 

2. Raise your standards

Our personal standards set the benchmarks for who we can become. Although many leaders feel like their personal standards are their driving force in how they conduct business and lead their teams, there are day-to-day behaviours many exhibit that can seriously undermine this. Look at the following and notice if you did any of these in the last two weeks:

  • Turned up to meetings late
  • Agreed in a meeting and then disagreed with a smaller group afterwards
  • Avoided difficult conversations
  • Treated all your team the same and expected them to deliver
  • Used your phone in meetings
  • Cancelled your 1-2-1’s with your team

Although these are seemingly small moments, they can have a big impact on your ability to advance in your leadership journey. Each one of these represents a low personal standard that you have displayed not only to yourself, but to your team. These standards will maintain the status quo, and keep you moving along at the same level. 

Instead, look at the people who are having the success you want to be achieving and delve into the standards that drive this success. This is called modelling excellence, and is an easy way to identify what personal standards you need to make central to your leadership. As an example, the standards below are some I have identified and modelled to achieve the success I now have:

  • Show up 100%
  • Commit to what I achieve to do
  • Be fully present when someone is talking to me
  • Give feedback to help people grow
  • Keep promises to myself
  • There is always a way

3. Be kind to yourself

To change and grow you need to ensure you have self-care rituals in place to look after your mind and body.  

The essential self-care step when it comes to being kind to yourself, is to notice how you talk to yourself. The voice in your head can have a lot of power over the decisions and choices you make for your life and career. The voice can completely determine the success levels you can achieve.

Being aware that you can control the voice is your starting point. You are then able to understand that the voice is ultimately trying to keep you safe. When we are trying to change, our ego (our subconscious brain), doesn’t want us to. It’s very happy with where you are, as you have taught it that this is what is safe for you. The biggest thing to note is that the subconscious brain doesn’t know the difference between what is good and bad for you, it learns that what you do on a repeated basis must be what you want. 

Begin the process of changing the voice and letting it know you are okay to grow. As you and your inner voice become more adept to change, you will start to reduce the anxiety around expanding your comfort zone.

4. Take action

It’s time to stop looking at the water and jump in the pool. Everything is in the action.

The previous steps we’ve looked at are very important but without taking action and starting to change how you show up and changing your strategy, you will remain a Hidden Leader.

It doesn’t need to be a big dramatic overnight change. The process of emerging as a courageous leader, one who operates with certainty, courage and resilience, is an evolving process. Start by focusing on small areas that you’d like to change. Below are some that could be relevant:

  1. Speak up in a meeting if you disagree with what is being said
  2. Have the difficult conversation and not find reasons to be busy to avoid it
  3. Share your ideas 
  4. Give feedback to peers if they are misaligned to the culture of the company

So, are you ready to trust yourself?

Yes your to-do list is endless and the pressures on your time may have increased. But this work is truly worth it. It will not only improve your performance as a leader but it will directly drive up your fulfilment in the role you are doing – you will be able to feel the ease that comes when you truly trust yourself and your decisions. And let me tell you, having experienced both sides of it, it’s wonderful to have stepped out into the light – come and get your Vitamin D hit, it’ll do you the world of good. 

If you want to explore your potential, I invite you to book your FREE 30 minute discovery call with me by clicking this link: https://calendly.com/joannahowescoaching/30min

Categories
Business Leadership Self Development

STOP SETTLING, it’s never too late to activate your full potential and get BIGGER results

STOP SETTLING, it’s never too late to activate your full potential and get BIGGER results

‘I know I am capable of more, but it’s like it’s trapped inside and not coming out’, is a repeated statement I hear from a lot of leaders. Firstly, let it be said – these are not leaders who are underachieving. They have climbed the ranks at an accelerated rate moving into Partner and Executive roles at hugely acclaimed companies, and are, by all accounts, knocking it out the park career wise. 

However like many who have led their teams through the changes of the last 5 months, not only has it been testing, but it has rattled perspectives, shaking them into something new. Leaders I speak with discuss the challenging balance of work/life, the fast-paced, high pressure business demands, team dynamics and how this has increased the feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction; in the role they’re doing and how they’re doing it. 

What this ultimately boils down to is… potential. Navigating what you need to do so that you feel like you’re achieving what you want to be achieving in your leadership, is more vital than ever. Here I will argue that for many leaders right now, it’s make or break. 

It’s so much more than leadership skills

If you attended my future-fit masterclasses – you’ll know that a huge challenge facing business leaders over the next ten years is remaining on the pulse of innovation. The fact that 85% of roles in the industry that people will be doing in 2030 have yet to be created according to Dell, in partnership with the Institute for the Future, sets the scene. Courses for upskilling yourself are huge right now; no surprises there. But here I am going to go against the grain, controversially perhaps, with a new call to arms. 

Leaders, hold back investing in your skillset at the moment. Yes, your business needs new strategies and expanding your understanding of what those are and how they will help you hit your targets are important. I am just asking you to put a pause on those plans or conversations momentarily. They’re important, but there are more pressing things that you’re facing. Until we focus on how to address the feelings of inadequacy or the lack of confidence and conviction, even the slickest new skills are not going to stick. Leaders will get left behind, not because they don’t have the skills the business needs, but because their own inner world is holding them back.

Stop being frustrated and learn how to achieve more

Instead right now leaders need to pause, breathe and focus on the deeper reasons why they are feeling unfulfilled or inadequate. Where are these feelings coming from? It’s striking that even the most confident leaders I work with, who originally came to me so I could help them tighten up their business and operational processes, are now finding that their foundations are shaken. 

This is not surprising, given the year that we’ve faced, it is a natural outcome. What it means though is that it’s having a knock-on effect. Leaders are stopping themselves from advancing in their careers and reaching the roles and earnings they want. 

When you feel like there’s more in you but you just can’t get to it, not only is it massively frustrating, but it’s a self fulfilling prophecy. The discord is going to hold you back and stop you from thinking innovatively, from leading boldly and from landing your next role. You must learn how to use the voice that is telling you that you can do more and achieve more, and do exactly that. 

Your Potential

Leadership coaches like myself refer to potential a lot, and for lots of people the concept of potential can feel totally intangible (often because it is!). We can write about it poetically, a fire in the belly, an internal restlessness; but what does it actually mean and how can you make sure you’re aligned with yours. 

My view of activating your potential is being connected to all of you and feeling completely centred and certain in who you are and what you stand for. The transformation that took place for me was knowing I could handle anything that came my way. I felt so whole and free in my thinking that I could embrace challenges with confidence, conviction and courage. And at the same time enjoy the moment, as I was bringing all of me to the table and allowing myself to shine brighter than I ever did before.

It’s fully liberating and the progress you can make in your life accelerates tenfold. 

If any of this strikes a chord with you, here are a few things you can do today to start activating your potential:

1.Understand you are not your mind, your mind is a tool you use to take you where you want to go

2.Notice your thoughts and how many are helping you vs keeping you stuck. Try and work out what the limits are that you are choosing to put on yourself – these limits are beliefs you have decided to have about yourself. Beliefs are not real and you have the ability to change them to achieve your goals

3.Raise your standards – if you haven’t read my article on standards then do so now. I deep dive into why raising your standards is essential for increasing your potential

Do the work. It is your greatest shortcut

Personal development work is something that so often gets funnelled into the ‘I’ll get to it when I’ve ticked off all these other things’ list. Unsurprisingly, it rarely gets much air time. But really, this is the area that holds the key to career progression. It always amazes me that leaders don’t invest more time in it – but also, I totally get it. I ignored this work for 15 years, and chose to feel frustrated, doubting my ability and my decisions, envisioning a version of myself as a leader that was always out of reach. 

Feeling disconnected from where you want to be or where you believe you should be, only grows. The path that leads to your success is actually much clearer, and it’s already waiting in the wings to make an appearance. You just need to figure out how to remove all the obstacles that you’ve built up over the time that are now blocking your way. Doing this is your quickest route to achieving the results you want.

I am obsessed with this topic. ‘Transformational results’ is bandied around left, right and centre at the moment – but helping leaders discover the model to activate their potential is an area that really delivers on this. 

If any of this resonates with you, I’d be delighted to hear from you. I offer a FREE 30 minute discovery call and you can book yours here.

Categories
Business Leadership Self Development Teams Wellness

The business crisis just got personal

The business crisis just got personal 

The conversations I am having with leaders and witnessing online have dramatically changed in the last few weeks.  For me, it has been most marked by the shift in language I am seeing people using. No longer are we talking about ‘pivoting’ or ‘survive and thrive’ instead, ‘fatigue’, ‘overwhelm’, ‘stress’ and ‘burnout’ are the new words. (In fact these conversations have driven me to create a 30 minute masterclass for leaders who are worried about their teams to get some practical solutions to help them – if you’re interested you can find out more here). 

What I find most interesting though is that this shift in conversation marks a move from putting the professional impact front and centre, to discussing the personal toll this period of time has taken on the individual – an, quite rightly may I add. It is short-sighted to not recognise how undeniably interlinked the personal and professional effects are. Here I am going to explore why businesses need to shift their focus to solving this, the top reasons underpinning burnout, and why most of the new initiatives leaders are trying are falling short.

Mental Health is a conversation in business that can no longer be ignored 

Covid aside, stress is the number one cause of disease and has unfortunately been the currency for a lot of high-performing teams well before the events of 2020 unfolded. So, in the last few months, it has been heartening to see discussions around mental health become woven into the narratives of leadership and company policy. I have seen this byproduct of the pandemic as being an overall positive move in business. Clients have told me about a new wave of honesty in the conversions they’re having in 1:1s, of wellbeing articles landing in their inbox, and, virtual mindfulness sessions organised for lunchtimes and after work. 

However, for those who are already up against it managing childcare alongside full-time hours, increased workload due to a depleted team or increased levels of anxiety (which is a normal response by the brain to extended periods of uncertainty), they are simply not able to take advantage of added initiatives. And for those that do take part, these offers are good painkillers and most definitely a step in the right direction, but they are not going to heal the root cause of the problem. 

We’re stuck in a loop

Not only that, the big worry that I have is that the leaders I am speaking to are so stressed and overwhelmed themselves that they can’t be there for their team in the way they want to be. They recognise they are falling short, but they simply don’t have the time, nor the headspace to do anything differently right now. In trying to keep their heads above the water and keep their team in a functioning state, the consequence is that everybody feels like they’re at best, treading water, and at worst, sinking.

When the impact is affecting leadership level, we see a dangerous loop emerging. Teams are struggling to adapt to changes, they turn to their leadership team for guidance and they see their experiences being reflected right back at them. Certainly there is a levelling that happens when different ranks in business are united behind a shared experience, not ideal though when the experience is a negative one that impacts personal and professional success.

Businesses truly have a responsibility to help. Not only will a team who are struggling with overwhelm or motivation be more likely to be affected by anxiety and low mood, they will also struggle to make decisions, stay focused and perform well. Burnout is the word of the moment and suggests that teams and their leaders are not simply under-performing or struggling, they’re at a point of crisis.

So how did we get here?

There are, of course, many reasons that have led to the current landscape. Below are the top take-aways from our findings over the last few weeks.

1.People are being expected to do two people’s roles due to the depletion of teams

2. People are taking on tasks they are not skilled in or do not have enough experience of

3. Leaders are in a survival, short-term reactive mode and therefore are causing panic amongst their teams

4. Investment in training and development has gone – or budgets have been frozen 

5. Leaders are not skilled in coaching or human behaviour patterns, so do not know how to help themselves their teams, with stress and anxiety 

6. With the increased pressure of childcare, employees are having to now do both with the expectation that their work outputs should remain the same

7. Team members who thrive off connection and interaction are struggling to stay motivated and find fulfilment in a virtual working set-up

The key is shifting your thinking 

Another interesting thing to note is that burnout is also caused by the ‘fear of not being good enough’. This fear is undoubtedly amplified right now due to people seeing loss of jobs happening all around them and wondering if they will be next. Most leaders I am speaking to are experiencing a level of uncertainty in their future. This is leading to confidence and worthiness issues in personalities who have never previously experienced this before. Let alone those who were prone to this before the pandemic.

Now more than ever we need leaders who can be there for their team and give them the level of support they deserve. Teams need leaders who can understand how to best manage their own levels of burnout so they are able to help others do the same. This process can only begin when leaders start to shift their thinking.

Here are some quick tips on what you can do to be there for your team:

1. Become a leader who is comfortable with mindfulness practices – it is proven that taking 60 seconds out every hour to do a slow stretch, yawn or perform a conscious breath improves focus and motivation – In your meetings, start or end with a stretch or a yawn. Have fun with it and don’t be embarrassed, you and your team will see the benefits if you make this part of your daily workings.

2. Know your team on an individual level – We are all different and need different things to help us be okay. Find out what each of your team members needs are and let them be heard. For some of them it will be a simple feedback call once a week, others will want to have fun to release stress and some people will just want to be left alone to be able to focus on their work. It is not a one size fits all model.  Know your team and then you can manage your time better to be where they need you to be.

3. Be mindful of your language – If you as the leader are using pressure language like ‘it’s a nightmare’, it will increase your stress and your team’s stress as it releases cortisol, which will affect their ability to come up with a solution. Instead, choose a phrase like, ‘it’s an inconvenience’ – this will not only make you smile (as it’s a bit daft), but it defuses the intensity. This allows you and your team to think of how you are all going to support each other to find a solution forward.

These are 3 simple tips to get you started. If you’re interested in learning some further proven exercises you can do with your teams to discover how to keep their energy levels charged up and increase motivation, then download my free guide from my website here.

Or discover more more about my programmes and team coaching here.