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Stop Doing, Start Thinking

Turn off your computer and phones. Sit back. Relax. Focus on your breathing.

Empty your head

Stay empty headed

Andrew B Morris

Andrew B Morris

Now allow yourself to reflect on what’s important today.

Look out of the window or at something that pleases you.

Ignore the weird glances from your colleagues.

If this isn’t working leave the office, find somewhere quiet and start again.

We all need time to stop and stare but sadly this behaviour is prone to ridicule.

If we’re spotted reflecting we may say we have a migraine.

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Are you Plugged into the Cognitive Economy?

- By Grant Leboff

Do you understand where your business provides value for its customers? Do you have real and tangible competitive advantage in your market place?

Although many companies with which I work initially assume that they have the answers to these questions, after some more queries and investigation, it often becomes apparent that this is not the case.

This can be down to a number of factors. However, it is often because a business is looking in the wrong place when trying to understand and create value for its customers. Continue reading →

Limber up your Limbic Brain for authentic Charisma

- By Nikki Owen

Bill Clinton, Winston Churchill, Eva Peron, Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela, Dr Martin Luther King. When they spoke, millions listened in awe. When they walked, millions followed devoutly. Six leaders, one powerful attribute – charisma.

So what is this the mythic power of charisma? I define it as something that captivates the hearts and minds of others. To put it another way, when you are being you and you love what you do, you shine.

Studies have found that charismatic leaders outperform their non-charismatic peers by up to 60 percent. But many people believe that charisma isn’t something that can be taught, that if you try to emulate charismatic behaviours that are out of alignment with the essence of who you truly are, you will come across as fake and lacking authenticity. Continue reading →

Case Study: What a Good Idea…

Sometimes all a business needs to transform itself is a really good idea. It was just such a brainwave that helped Richard Blanford, MD of Fordway, to re-position his technology business for a sustainable, long-term future.

Like many IT Systems Integrators, Fordway’s traditional business model was based on revenue from winning and fulfilling IT infrastructure transformation projects. This had worked well until the recession caused by the financial crisis in 2008/9 when the supply of potential projects requiring Fordway’s skills and expertise dried up. Continue reading →

Improve your Connections

- By Graham Jones

Whatever business you run, the Internet is central to your success. Even if you don’t use the Internet very much to engage with customers or sell things, your competitors might. And even if your sector is not Internet savvy as a whole, the Internet provides the opportunity for new competition that could transform your market.

It is worthwhile remembering that the dominant online retailer, Amazon, was not invented by the retail industry. The world’s leading online fashion website, ASOS, was not invented by the fashion industry. And the world’s leading B2B supplies company, AliBaba, was not even invented by someone in business – it was started by an English language teacher!

The point is that the Internet means that competition can come from surprising places. Just because your business is not that affected by the web today, doesn’t mean it won’t be tomorrow.

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The HR Director Goes to Heaven

A highly successful HR Director was tragically knocked down by a bus and killed. Her soul arrived at the Pearly Gates, where St Peter welcomed her:

“Before you get settled in,” he said, “We have a little problem… you see, we’ve never had a HR Director make it this far before and we’re not really sure what to do with you.”

“Oh, I see,” said the woman. “Can’t you just let me in?”

“Well, I’d like to,” said St Peter, “But I have higher orders. We’re instructed to let you have a day in hell and a day in heaven, and then you are to choose where you’d like to go for all eternity.

“Actually, I think I’d prefer heaven”, said the woman.

“Sorry, but it’s policy…” at which St. Peter put the HR Director into the downward bound elevator.

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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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