Leading Questions

The Power2Progress blog, Leading Questions, brings you intelligent debate, useful management tips and valuable insights into leadership.

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When we take authentic, value-driven action towards our destination or goal, life decisions seem effortless and challenges feel surmountable. We can be present to each moment and truly enjoy our journey.” Anjana Rajani

4 Top Ways to Motivate your Team

Motivate your people through your leadership Motivated people are what make a business. A team of happy, engaged employees will do wonders for your business, helping you progress and move forward. Many businesses understand that staff retention is important for saving money on recruitment bills. But it really is so much more than this. You must remember that your employees are your best business ambassadors. They are the ones talking to your clients every day. They are the ones telling their friends and families how they actually feel about their role. They are the ones who form your public image. It’s important you learn how to keep your staff feeling upbeat and motivated, performing in their roles to the best of their abilities. To help you, here are 4 top ways you can motivate your employees: Talk to employees openly and honestly. Communication is an essential ingredient of happy employment. Make sure your staff are adequately informed about developments within your business, as this will make them feel a valued member of the team. You should also talk to them on a personal level. Schedule in regular one-to-ones and don’t make them feel too formal or negative. This should be a platform for discussing anything that is on your employee’s mind, from a promotion to the latest football results! People want to feel like more than just a number, and this shows you care on a personal level. Be willing to listen carefully and take on board everything that is said.   Have a good company culture. This will make your business a positive place to be and will give your employees a boost when they think about going into work day in, day out. Forming your company culture is all about showing people what your business believes in and what it is like as an organisation. Make sure your staff know they are a priority by offering them incentives, or being flexible about their working hours. This will go a long way towards instilling a positive company culture.   Offer career progression. The kinds of people who want to progress in their careers are the kinds of people you want working for you. They will be dedicated, hardworking and energetic, putting their all into their work. Offer good opportunities for career progression to attract the right members of staff and to keep them motivated in their roles. Career progression is about much more than just a pay rise (although this does come into it too, as people should be paid what they are worth). It could be the chance to manage a team. It might be a new role within another department. Career progression will mean something different to every individual.   Give praise. People who work for you want to know that you appreciate what they do. It’s important that everyone within an organisation feels their role is important and that they can make a difference to the business. When people have done a good job, make sure you tell them. Let them know you are happy with their performance during appraisals and one-to-ones as well, making it a positive experience. It only takes a few moments to say ‘well done’ to someone who works for you, and it might just make their...

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5 ways to inspire your team

How to be an inspiring leader for your team If you want to succeed in business, it’s important to have a team who respect you. Your employees need to feel that you are someone energetic and motivating, who they can rely on to lead them to bigger and better things. Gaining their respect is essential. Inspiration might be a bit of a daunting word to think about. It suggests someone impressive, something big and important. Yet it’s not so difficult a concept to think about when you break it down into smaller chunks and really consider what it is that makes someone inspiring. Inspiration is about taking steps that will make someone feel happy, motivated and able to look up to you. What is it that will make your team feel inspired and really buy into your business?   5 ways to inspire your team   Taking the time to listen. Your employees will really respect the time you make for them. People who are truly inspirational remain receptive to new concepts and opinions. Talk to your employees on an individual basis and make it clear that you value what they have to say 2. Facing up to challenges with calm and dignity. Running a business is almost certainly one of the hardest things you will ever do and there will inevitably be multiple challenges involved. When you are overcoming difficulties, your employees will notice how you react to them. Set an example – be firm and strong in your approach, but don’t let this spill over into anger. People will respect you for dealing with your challenges effectively. 3. Show passion about your industry. A love for your area of business is essential if you want to inspire others. Talk about your business and bounce ideas off your employees, as your enthusiasm will begin to rub off on them. If you are feeling passionate and inspired, it will be easier to inspire others. 4. Focus on the tasks that will grow your business and ensure the wellbeing of your staff. These are the main ingredients for a successful company and the people around you will be impressed by your skills and business acumen. This also sets a great example for your team, indicating to them how leadership and management should be handled. 5. Always stay willing to learn. Keep on learning about your industry and pass on your knowledge to employees through ongoing training, workshops and general day to day management. They will enjoy being managed by someone who is so knowledgeable and who is happy to evolve to make the business more...

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Case study: leadership for transformation

MS Labs An independently owned laboratory that offers microbiological testing and chemical testing services to the food, drink and allied industries, MS Laboratories has been in business for nearly 30 years. Established by the Shah family, owners Sam and Manisha saw potential for growth.   The challenge As a family-run business, MS Labs’ leaders were accustomed to doing everything themselves. Founders and owners the Shah family saw the potential to expand the business, but they did not have the time or capacity to cope. And because the owners were focused on providing a personal service to every client and had so much business from clients, they started to notice they couldn’t do it all.   The Shahs knew they needed to find a better way of delivering and sustaining a great service. They also needed help for their great team, who were too busy and stretched in different directions.   The solution A two-day leadership residential course kicked off a Power 2 Progress coaching programme for all leaders, including MS Lab’s owners. Manisha Shah said, “The programme transformed my thinking about leadership. I realised I wasn’t at the level I needed to be to grow and lead the wider business. It pointed me in the right direction.”   The coaching and training programme Two day leadership residential Managing difficult people Difficult conversations Assertiveness Leadership coaching (individual and group)   Team building sessions were then introduced to open up conversation, show different perspectives and reduce conflict in the team – ultimately for a more cohesive and rounded approach to collaborating. Coaching sessions, including individual and group sessions, were designed to develop management skills and encourage the flow of ideas and inspiration, as well as improve productivity and focus.   Other elements of the plan included how to deal with difficult people, as there was a tendency to avoid managing others and blockages had started to form as a result.   In addition to coaching and executive development, Power 2 Progress developed a business growth programme to help the owners focus on their potential, and move to new testing areas and markets. The programme was also designed to reorganise its approach to people, culture and structure in order to deliver their growth strategy.   The growth programme Growth strategy Leadership reorganisation Appraisal process and training Engagement survey   To develop an inspired growth structure, Power 2 Progress led a reorganisation that introduced a tier of leadership and opportunities for staff development. As part of this, appraisals and engagement temperature checks enabled a two-way communication process, positively driving morale and culture.   The outcome Now, staff at MS Labs are at a level where they are free to get on and do more. With well-trained leaders who have the tools and techniques to inspire and lead their teams and manage performance, the culture is open, honest and confident. Staff morale and engagement has increased: “Our latest engagement survey has shown that we are in a completely different place now. We have developed a sense of camaraderie within our organisation and people feel valued, are more committed and see opportunities for their career, hand in hand with our business growth.”   A strategic people structure has been implemented, with key staff in new roles. New and existing leaders now feel mentally and behaviourally...

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Defining partnerships with your clients

What does being in a ‘partnership’ mean? A straight up definition search online of the word ‘partnership’ shows the definition: ‘an association of two or more people as partners’. However, a true partnership means much more than merely an association, especially when it comes to client relationships.   How should ‘partnership’ be defined? A true client partnership is about both people working together to help realise each other’s desired goals and outcomes. When a partnership brings mutually beneficial gains, whether financial, commercial or financial, there is opportunity for long-term business, personal and professional development.   And it can be an enjoyable experience. We may think a client partnership needs to be serious, formal or even difficult. Imagine what it could happen if were the opposite? One way of considering this is to look at how partnerships are similar to relationships: quite obviously because we are people, so whether in our business or personal life we still behave as humans and not emotionless robots.   Partnerships are relationships Let’s explore friendship as an analogy. When we make demands of a friend to organise a social event – instead of exploring options and sharing responsibilities – they tend to withdraw, complain to other friends or react negatively. Our reputation becomes affected, and the relationship suffers. If we apply this thinking to our client partnerships, and start to consider them as friends, things change for the better.   In it together Being in a partnership means being in the relationship cooperatively, whether it’s a verbal or contractual agreement, formal or informal. And when we are in the frame of mind of cooperation and collaboration, instead of expectation and assumption, even better outcomes can develop. When you consider the other person’s perspective and understand what they may be looking for, you show not only compassion and balance, new opportunities often emerge.   If you’d like to understand more about developing your client partnerships, visit the Northamptonshire Business Expo and join our seminar on Creating True Partnerships.   To join a one-day masterclass on Creating True Partnerships, click...

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Creating True Partnerships

Creating True Partnerships A masterclass on building relationships and business through trust 30th November 2017   Discover how to: Build trust to explore more oppportunities Share solutions for mutually beneficial commercial gains Be authentic to enjoy your business partnerships   Don’t miss out on the chance to win business and enjoy your relationships with clients. Join other business pioneers and ambitious owners on our one-day masterclass at Highgate House, Northampton, NN6 8NN. Book now to secure your place. Hurry, only a limited number available.   ...

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How to make it as an entrepreneur

Staying successful: what does it take to make it as an entrepreneur?   Lots of people have great ideas and can turn them into a business. And there is a lot of support out there for new businesses, with reduced business rates and government-backed start up loans.   The main challenge facing entrepreneurs isn’t getting started. It is staying successful.   The difficulties come when you’ve run your business for a while and you’re looking to take the next step. Changing your business model and expanding your team are big steps to take.   It’s not impossible at all. It just takes thought, consideration and careful planning. Successful entrepreneurs do the following five things:   Care about their business. Love to learn. Stay ahead of the game. Accept help. Adapt to change.   Caring about your business Above all, you have to be passionate about what you do. You need your enthusiasm to rub off on people so they buy into your products and ideas. You have probably heard people talk about having an ‘entrepreneurial spirit’. The phrase suggests passion and resilience – caring deeply about a business and doing what it takes to make it work. If you have entrepreneurial spirit, don’t lose it. As the challenges mount up, never lose sight of what you set out to achieve.   Love to learn Most people are not born and bred entrepreneurs. It takes a lot of hard work to become successful and you will probably have to pick up new skills and new concepts along the way. Whether you’re looking for ways to break into new markets or you need to learn how to manage a team, being willing is the first step. Take advice from those who have experience and learn as much as you can from them.   Stay ahead of the game As an entrepreneur, you may have a head filled with ideas. Deciding how to turn these ideas into a reality is essential, or they’ll remain in your head as background noise. It’s never too soon to start thinking about your future strategy. Plan, adapt and formulate new ideas, and explore all avenues. It’s a team effort – no good entrepreneur works alone. Devise strategies with the people around you and take all their advice on board. Everybody has different strengths, so draw on people’s abilities and use them to move forward.   Accept help Accepting help can feel hard when you’re a successful, standalone businessperson. You need to remember that there is absolutely no shame in it and if you are truly dedicated to growing your business, the input of others is going to be invaluable. If you are committed to expanding your existing business portfolio, now might be a good time to engage a professional business coach. Choose someone commercially minded who has a great track record for success. They know the world of business inside out and can provide solutions you could never have come up with alone.   Adapt to change In business, no two days are the same. A successful entrepreneur will be able to deal with change and adapt to it skilfully. The secret to success here is unlocking the potential in new situations. Your business coach could be just the right person to help you do this. Knowing...

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Creating true partnerships

Long term, reliable and fruitful business comes from trusted partnerships and building relationships with clients. Unfortunately, most business people focus more on the service or product, when in reality cultivating the relationship is vital to success.   There are 3 ways to create and maintain long lasting partnerships: Build trust Share solutions Be authentic   Build trust If you think you have a close, trustworthy relationship with your clients, consider how well you offer them generous service, a truthful response at all times and common ground.   Without these elements, trust is difficult. And sometimes businesses think there is more trust than is actually experienced by the client, so it’s important to take a step back and review how consistently this is delivered.   Share solutions Often, it’s tempting to make suggestions and offer advice before knowing the whole story. The best solutions come from seeing the full picture and providing choices, along with a recommendation after knowing more detail.   It’s important to think more like a coach than a business advisor, and help clients make their own decisions and choices. This is great for empowerment and for being seen as a trusted guide through the process.   Be authentic Just like a personal relationship, a business relationship is a two-way street. This means getting to know your client, spending time understanding them and being true and honest – always.   And just like a personal relationship, telling a client what you think they want to hear can be disastrous. Being authentically you, true and transparent is the only way to build trust and create a true partnership.   Become a master at creating true partnerships by joining a one-day exhibition and seminar on the 5th October in Bicester, Oxfordshire. Register here...

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Building trust, building business

Trust is a two-way street. And it can lead to great things in business. A successful business relationship is built on trust and will develop over time, benefiting both sides. There are three main areas you should work on to help develop your relationships and strengthen the partnership you have with your clients: Credibility Reliability Intimacy   Addressing these three areas can open up new possibilities for you and your business. Enhancing credibility Promoting your credibility with clients relies on your ability to be honest and reliable. Clients will appreciate openness – it’s okay to tell them if you don’t know the answer. Honesty is always the best policy. Talk to clients with passion and enthusiasm that is free from exaggeration. You love your business, so let it show. Your energy will encourage those around you and over time, will form part of an open and trusting relationship.   Showing reliability Reliability is based on actions. Only make promises you can keep – we are all inclined to remember the negatives. Do what you say you will, when you say you will do it. You can earn yourself some ‘reliability credits’ with everyone you meet, straight away. Make small promises and commitments and stick to them. Give people positives to remember.   Developing intimacy Intimacy happens with time and depends on your openness to it. Getting to know someone and building a stronger relationship over time can be rewarding, beneficial and actually very good fun. By showing more credibility and reliability on your part, you can pave the way to better relationships with clients. And once you’ve established a higher level of intimacy, it’s easier to keep it that way. Remember – winning business from a new client costs you 4-7 times more than earning new business from an existing client. Trusted relationships pay off. Learn more about trust and gain a deeper insight into building it up in a business environment. Take part in a seminar to explore your own partnerships on the 5th October. Find out more here. You can also visit us at our Creating Trusted Partnerships exhibition on 16th November by contacting us for more information at info@power2progress.co.uk  ...

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How being assertive can change your working world

In today’s busy working world, knowing the difference between how to say ‘no’ assertively and aggressively (or passive aggressively) can make all the difference.   We’ve all experienced aggressive, overpowering types – and we know what it’s like to feel pushed to the edge, to the point where you momentarily become angry or frustrated.   Likewise, sitting passively by, letting others walk all over you can be not only demoralising, it can mean being passed over for promotions and not being taken seriously. Passive aggressive won’t work either, because people understandably get fed up with games and now knowing what you’re really thinking.   It’s a tricky balance to strike. So how do you learn assertiveness?   The good news is: assertiveness is a learnt skill. It’s not something we are innately born with. It’s just that some people were fortunate enough to learn it from their parents, employers or in training and development.   In short, it’s down to learning the right language, and exploring the areas that you are finding challenging to be assertive in. When you understand the ‘how’ and the ‘why’, the rest is practice.   Join a half-day workshop designed for business owners, managers, supervisors and team leaders that develops confident communication skills.   Find out more...

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Three things you must do to manage difficult people

Following our post on difficult conversations, we’ve had even more interest in how to handle difficult people. While there is a lot more behind the scenes, the following three things are must-dos when it comes to improving a working relationship.   Get your state straight Managing your emotions and emotional reactions is vital for a positive outcome. By understanding how you can stop taking things personally and manage your own triggers, you’ll develop a much more balanced and productive relationship.   Preparation is everything Considering how you go into every meaningful conversation with your difficult person means you’ll be thoughtful and articulate, instead of haphazard and imbalanced. Practising or role playing your conversations makes a huge difference too.   Be willing to listen Sometimes we hear what we want to, or listen but don’t really hear what’s being said. By mastering techniques for active listening, you’ll show your difficult person you want a positive outcome and to involve them.   If you’re managing difficult people, join our Managing Difficult People masterclass on the 27th July 2017.   What’s hot about this course We asked people who attended our course how they’ll use what they’ve learnt. Here’s what they said:   “More positive manner.” “Use my new knowledge in real situations more.” “Listen more.” “Active listening.” “Asking more questions.” “Deal with situations in a good time frame.” “Think before I react.” “Practice.” “Use today’s course in my workplace.” “Try to stay calm and empathise...

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