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  • Writer's pictureSusannah Brade-Waring

Leaders: How do you know you're doing it right?

Updated: Dec 5, 2022

Welcome to Take an Aspirin, the Business Leaders' newsletter from Aspirin Business Solutions! This is a monthly release containing our best practice, tools, and advice to help develop stronger businesses, motivated teams, and confident leaders.

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In this month's Newsletter:


Ethical Capitalism

For a long time, I’ve been torn between the commerciality of business and the contribution it makes to our society. And I’ve found my own way through that by becoming the best version of myself, so that I treat everyone with respect and kindness, whilst being clear and consistent about what I expect from them. So it was a relief to pick up a book that’s been gathering dust on my shelf for a year, The Ethical Capitalist by Julian Richer (of Richer Sounds).

In these turbulent times, it’s important to reconsider what’s driving our behaviour and choices as leaders, employees, and suppliers. There isn’t a simple solution and it’s all a little messy. But we can try to be fair and considerate, and we can get the basics right. Yesterday I got a coffee on the beach in Bournemouth, and I overheard an employee saying he’d just found out he was being laid off. He’d been told in an email. And yet he turned around and served me with a smile and professionalism. I felt a lot of respect for him. When we manage our own behaviour, we create strong foundations of self-respect and self-belief, which will eventually pay off despite the things we can’t control.


Confident Leaders - How Will I Know If I'm Doing It Right

“How should I behave? How will I know if I’m doing it right?” When we are promoted, we gain a new identity. Whether that’s becoming a team-leader or a parent, most of us want to know the answers to these 2 key questions. Knowing the answers, provides confidence and clarity. And that makes a huge difference to productivity, motivation and retention.

Firstly, when you accept the role of leading and managing others it’s important to understand the responsibility you’re taking on. The responsibility of setting and communicating clear goals and expectations, of providing just-in-time feedback, of developing skills, providing resources and creating a motivating culture. Being a leader or manager of other people is a privilege. It’s not for everyone and it’s much more than a title. And when you do it well, you’ll know you’ve changed people’s lives, you’ll enable them be more than they thought they could be and you’ll have made a huge difference to them, their families and the business.

It’s about setting the tone, bringing the energy and self-belief, clarifying expectations, creating a rhythm and momentum, speeding things up and slowing things down, being supportive and challenging, recognising effort and making tough decisions. It’s about behaviour, consistency and communication (verbal and non-verbal). And, for me, the biggest difference between leadership and management is certainty. Leaders create visions and goals, and managers implement them. And yes – we often wear both hats, especially in small and medium businesses.

The Rights and Responsibilities of Leader-Developers and Team Members, from our Liberating Leadership Programme, summarise these beautifully:

Responsibilities of a Leader:
  • Creating a high-performance team, one which is capable of delivering what will need to be done tomorrow, as well as today.

  • Providing a clear sense of direction to the people I lead.

  • Enabling people to achieve their full capability, even though this might not be immediately popular.

  • Being genuine, saying what I mean and meaning what I say, and treating others with respect and frankness.

  • Giving of myself and my support to enable the people in my team to succeed, and being delighted when they do.

  • Letting people know how they are performing, continually, through strong feedback.

  • Causing people to stay 'fit for their role', for their sake as well as mine, in today's competitive world.

Rights of a Leader:
  • Demanding the same level of courtesy and frankness that I give.

  • Telling people what is expected of them, clearly and explicitly.

  • Letting them know when they are not performing through direct, unambiguous feedback.

  • Setting the vision for the team and driving for its attainment.

Responsibilities of Team Members:
  • Respecting the Rights of the Leader.

  • Treating the Leader with courtesy and respect, equal to that given.

  • Performing highly and meeting the standards expected of them.

  • Continuously striving to learn, grow, and improve their capability.

  • Doing all they can to enable the team, as a whole, to succeed.

Rights of Team Members:
  • Being treated with courtesy and respect.

  • For there to be a clear sense of direction - including knowing what is expected of them and the standard required.

  • Not following my vision, if they cannot agree with it - but to follow their own vision elsewhere.

  • Being regarded as a fundamentally OK person - who has the inherent ability to succeed and perform highly.

  • Knowing how they are getting on - regularly.

These rights and responsibilities are taught as part of our Liberating Leadership Programme. Adhering to these ensures that everyone knows what is expected of them, and presents a clear and effective framework that develops strong working relationships, teamwork, high performance, and trust.


Motivated Teams - How to Motivate Teams with Purpose

Throughout time, people have turned away from high-paying prestigious jobs in favour of a more purposeful, meaningful career. And this increased when the Covid-19 pandemic gave people the time and opportunity to reflect on what’s most important to them.

In Motivational Maps terms, we call this the ‘Searcher’ motivation, and our research shows over 80% of the people who’ve completed a Motivational Map are highly motivated by ‘Searcher’. The Searcher motivator is about purpose, meaning and making a difference. It’s customer-focused and drives continuous improvement – which are both crucially important to developing happy customers, happy profits and strong businesses. It brings people together and enables them to focus on a longer-term, bigger contribution and that’s crucial during these turbulent times.

So, how can you use the ‘Searcher’ motivator to increase motivation and employee retention with your teams?

  1. Talk about the purpose of your organisation, and the difference your teams make by being a part of something bigger.

  2. Help each person understand the difference they’re making through even the smallest actions. (The coffee guy at Bournemouth beach didn’t know I’d had a family bereavement, and that I needed his smile and professionalism rather than his anger!)

  3. Help them make that difference – through timely decision-making, adequate resourcing and treating your team with respect.

  4. If there aren’t enough resources or time, redefine the expectations. Believing it’s impossible to make a difference no matter how hard you try, results in hopelessness, despair, anxiety, and resignation.

  5. Provide just-in-time feedback. Say ‘thank you’ and provide direct evidence of the difference being made, e.g. customer feedback or statistics.


Strong Businesses - Keeping Cash Through A Crisis

Whilst I love being optimistic, even I have to be realistic about the challenging times ahead. Increased costs of living, borrowing and tax coupled with supply issues and reduced support from the government and council will have an effect. However, where there are challenges there are also opportunities and, as an example of this, we’ve seen how some industries and businesses have thrived through Covid. Covid was a bigger challenge though, because of the unprecedented degree of uncertainty and the scale of impact across every person, every organisation and every country. If you can be reassured by a recession, it’s that there’s more certainty about how it will affect us. And that’s crucial in allowing you to plan and prepare.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it because it’s so crucial. Cash is king! So getting your cash flow as positive as possible, and reducing your borrowing, will strengthen your business.

Here are a few ways how:

  • Credit check your customers and your key suppliers. Your accountants can help you do this and you can check everything’s been filed on time on Companies House for Limited Companies.

  • Agree staged payments to ensure the cash is coming in during your work, not just at the end. It also helps to get your business on your customer’s accounts system, so that payments aren’t delayed.

  • Review and reduce unnecessary costs. Vanity costs that don’t actually make a difference to your sales, your customer's satisfaction, your employees’ performance or the proper and effective running of your business, must be reconsidered. Unprofitable customers must also be reconsidered, although they can help cover the overheads.

  • December is generally a very busy time for businesses, whatever their trade. So make hay while the sun shines, but also be aware of the approaching ‘dark quarter’ as we enter 2023. Concentrate on being focused, lean and in touch, so that you’re well-prepared to ride out the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities.

According to a report commissioned by RSA Insurance, in October 2022, Cebr conducted a study of 500 small to mid-sized businesses, including 250 mid-sized companies. Despite significant economic headwinds, the majority of mid-sized businesses (71%) and small businesses (58%) expect to have a ‘good’ or ‘very good' next 12 months. Their biggest challenges include rising energy costs and the impact of cost-of-living increases on customer demand. Their common strategies include increasing prices, cutting costs (including laying off staff) and reviewing investments.


Take an Aspirin - Liberating Leadership

We’re running another open course for our award-winning Liberating Leadership Programme to accelerate the confidence and capability of 8 leaders and managers.

"Before this programme, I was a bit a lost, as a leader without the tools. Now I, and my Management Team, have alignment, structure, and a framework. We’re singing off the same hymn sheet and have a process of what to, do that enables me to be more objective, specific and focused on getting the best from our people."

Dr Joshua Smith, Principal and Co-founder of Life Balance Chiropractic Centre

The programme is based on 25 years of research into the beliefs and behaviours of high-performing leaders of all kinds of organisations. The research discovered the shared beliefs and behaviours that create high-performance, and captured them into a framework of 4 Steps, 15 Skills and a ‘high-performance’ mindset, that has courtesy, respect and high expectations at its core. Supported by 4 diagnostics to compare your own leadership beliefs and behaviours to the research, this programme is delivered over six weekly, 2.5-hour online workshops. Not only does it fit more easily into busy schedules, and enable remote leaders to learn together, it provides time between each workshop to embed new knowledge and implement what’s been learned. We believe in providing high-quality development at affordable prices, so click here for more information! P.S. We also offer a fast-track option for 1-2 people who just can’t wait to get going! Just enquire now via the link above.


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