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Making a Crisis Less of a Drama

At some point in our careers and as business leaders, turbulence will turn to crisis. That’s when our leadership skills are truly tested. Since it is well worth being wise before the event – planning how we would react to a crisis before one happens – here are some thoughts to help navigate a stormy period.

Andrew B Morris

Andrew B Morris

Tone and Pace need to be adapted to suite the situation.

Morale and Mood are boosted in direct proportion to honesty.

Be Visible, don’t hide.

Project calm, considered confidence, but not courage.

Keep a Log for the next time something like this happens.

Use Humour to break the tension but with care and in context.

Create a War Cabinet in extreme circumstances.

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The Letter of the Law

Few things are more unsettling or disruptive for a business than being embroiled in a crisis with employment law-related consequences. Being on the receiving end of an Employment Tribunal (ET) claim feels like being under attack. But having at least a basic understanding about how to handle these sorts of organisational crises can go a long way towards providing a degree of comfort.

I’m never short of material to illustrate these, so here are three relatively recent examples of organisations being thrown into crises which have employment law implications and what we can learn from them. Continue reading →

Calm in the Face of Adversity

Many of us are suffering from an unprecedented rate of transformation, information overload, noise pollution and the increasing tendency to exist on ‘auto-pilot’ that goes hand-in-hand will high levels of stress and low levels of well-being. By developing resilience (mental toughness and emotional control) business leaders are not only able to better deal with the day to day challenges but are also better positioned for unexpected and complex situations which would benefit a more mindful approach.

As a steady stream of articles in the Financial Times in recent months illustrates, interest from the business world in the art of mindfulness has been growing steadily in recent years. There are now thousands of research studies into the benefits of Mindfulness. Companies such as Google, Twitter, IBM, Transport for London and Unilever are among those working towards more ‘mindful workplaces’ in which individuals experience higher levels of employee well-being and resilience, lower levels of stress and illness-related absenteeism; more employee engagement; greater productivity; less conflict; higher levels of job satisfaction; lower levels of employee turnover; and higher levels of creativity and innovation. Continue reading →

Case Study: Stepping Down to Step Up

MSM Software is a UK-based software company providing bespoke software development and support of business-critical systems. Founded 16 years ago, the company has offices in Exeter, Bristol and London.

Whilst MSM weathered the first half of the recession well, the completion of a number of long-term contracts in 2012 came at a time when the market was still in the doldrums. As a result, there was a significant drop in turnover.

Drastic action was required and an innovative plan was hatched by Managing Director, Thomas Coles, and his Academy Group Chairman, William Waddington.

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The Six Most Common Negotiating Mistakes

Whether it’s a multimillion pound contract or just deciding where to meet for lunch, life is full of negotiations. The negotiation process is a lot like a chess game where strategy reigns supreme – one thoughtfully-considered move at a time. Make a careless, short-sighted, ill-conceived move and you could suffer some perilous consequences.

Even when faced with the most daunting of deals, regarding the act of negotiation as a ‘game’ may alleviate the apprehension and give you the confidence to make power plays that will ultimately facilitate your desired result. Unlike strategy games like chess, however, the most effective deals are a win-win proposition for all parties rather than a winner-loser result.

However, things don’t always go according to plan. Here are the most common mistakes and pitfalls to avoid during a negotiation. Continue reading →

Don’t just hope for the best

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Three Keys to International Expansion

- By Mark Fritz

Thanks to today’s communication technologies, businesses can operate wherever they choose in a way they simply couldn’t have imagined three decades ago. This means that your competition at home could be just as easily be based across the world as across the street. But equally, you could be the competition in someone else’s back yard!

Many of the barriers to international business are either coming down or no longer exist. Today, expanding internationally is all about addressing three main areas: opportunity, focus and leadership. And it is no surprise that they are the same areas you need to address at home. Continue reading →

Why you need Cultural Intelligence

- By David Livermore

If you’re operating internationally – be it the other side of the world or just the other side of the Channel – you are going to need to cultivate a degree of Cultural Intelligence (CQ). At its core, CQ is about viewing and treating people from various cultures with respect and dignity and developing the capability to function effectively across national, ethnic, and organisational cultures.

cq_002_240CQ is obviously a critical component of organisational effectiveness, for companies expanding internationally. But it also enhances interpersonal interactions in a wide range of social contexts. And like these other forms of intelligence, CQ complements IQ by focusing on the specific capabilities that are important when operating in culturally diverse settings.

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Technology: the Great Leveller

- By Wayne Turmel

As the leader of a small or medium enterprise looking to expand internationally, the questions never stop. Should you open offices and hire in areas you’re targeting, and how would you manage the people if you did? How can you visit all the potential customers in a profitable way that ensures building the relationships necessary for long-term success?

The good news is that technology enables us to address many of these conundrums. Tools such as WebEx, Microsoft Lync, Basecamp and many, many others promise it’s easy to reach out to employees, customers and partners around the globe at the touch of a button and the blink of a webcam. The somewhat-less-good news is these tools seldom deliver what they promise.

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Case Study: How Rotary Moved into the Premiership

Rotary Watches is a fourth-generation, family owned, mid-market Swiss watch brand which competes against global luxury giants with a range of affordable classic Swiss watches.

Three years ago, the decision was made to re-shape its growth strategy to focus more on consumers in emerging markets, with Asia Pacific being a key region. Whilst Rotary had already started to spread its risk by diversifying internationally, the size of that business was still tiny.

In 2010, 12% of Rotary’s turnover was overseas. That increased to 25% last year and in 2014, the target is over 30%. Continue reading →