I’m a very driven entrepreneur. Always raring to go and full of ideas that have to be actioned. Constantly learning and trying out new things. But even I have days when I just don’t seem to have the energy to get stuff done. I’m sure you’ve also experienced such days. Whether it's a lack of inspiration, a feeling of burnout, or feeling paralyzed when facing too many options, sometimes it's hard to be anywhere near as productive as you normally are.
If this happens to you once in a while, it’s nothing to worry about. Maybe you just need a break or change of scene. But if this inertia goes on for days, weeks, and months at a stretch and business starts dwindling and there is nothing in the pipeline, it can be alarming!
Sometimes a hard knock, like losing a big client or not winning an important deal or a change in the business environment that puts us in a disadvantageous position can really impact our confidence and self-esteem – and we may not even be aware of it. It could linger at the back of our minds and slowly make us disengage from the work that we love doing. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of being judged negatively, all these can paralyze us.
Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely journey because we don’t feel comfortable talking about such situations with anyone – whether it’s our team or even our family members. We don’t want to spook our employees and we don’t want our families to worry about us. Somewhere deep down we also feel that if we talk about our inertia and lack of motivation, we will be judged negatively.
Inertia can show up in many ways. Sometimes you want to or must take some action steps, but you don’t take it? Sometimes you want to start a new business vertical or launch a new product, but something pulls you back to the current status quo situation. Sometimes you need to take an important decision, but you don’t decide? Sometimes you make your plan, and never implement it, in reality. Sometimes you need to reach out to an important customer but you keep avoiding it. All these are signs of entrepreneurial inertia.
So, what can you do when you find yourself stuck in entrepreneurial inertia?
Here are 5 simple actions you can take to bounce back from inertia and save your business.
When things are not going as you would want them to go and you find yourself lacking the motivation to forge ahead, the most important thing is to re-focus your attention on your long-term goal. Ask yourself these three questions:
If you take time to reflect on these three questions, it will help you align your thoughts and actions with your goals and get you back on the track of getting things done. Seeing your ambitions in black and white will refocus your mind effectively.
Often, the best way to give yourself a kickstart is to simply take action. It almost doesn't matter what this action is - it could be a piece of administrative work, some light research for a new project or even something completely unrelated to your business.
Once you start moving, your energy will usually begin to flow back and you can switch to something a little more intensive. However, don't begin anything that could turn toward displacement activity - avoid social media at all costs, for example, unless it is a necessary part of your work schedule.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the size of your to-do list, then it can be helpful to bring it back down to size by scrapping the less important and urgent items. Take a close look at which jobs really need to be done first. This will help give you a little more clarity and generate a burst of motivation.
There are many tools that can help you prioritize and stay focused. Try and keep your list of activities to just 2-3 important activities in a day and make them happen. Once you start seeing that you are able to tackle the 2-3 important tasks for the day, you will feel energized and motivated. You can even reward yourself to keep the motivation going.
When you know you've got things to do but you're not in the right frame of mind, it's easy to become frustrated and angry with yourself. This is unlikely to improve matters. If you’re not the type who can step back and reflect on your own, try talking to a coach or mentor.
A coach will ask you questions that will help you reflect and come up with answers that a really very personal to you. The coach will also help you with planning out your action steps and will help you with holding yourself accountable.
If you speak to a mentor, they may be able to share their own experience of snapping out of inaction and low energy situations. Some of those ideas might resonate with you.
Finally, sometimes it's really better to just step away for a while rather than allow yourself to become frustrated with your lack of motivation and results. Take some time off to recharge. Physical activity can be really rejuvenating – walking, running, playing a sport, etc can help revive your energy levels and make you feel better about yourself. Meditation, digital detox, short staycations, are some other options to explore.
Hope these ideas help you snap out of inertia if you’re experiencing one. While it is not humanly possible to be driven and energetic all the time, but as an entrepreneur, you can't afford to let your low-productivity days come around too often or stay too long . By using one or more of these tips, you can get back in the groove and start pushing your business forward once again.
Want to discuss a challenge you're facing with managing your business? Click on the Request Consultation button above or email email@example.com
Why do you need to stay relevant? What makes it important for business leaders to stay relevant, especially in times of crisis?
Well, the current COVID-19 situation is very telling about the times that we live in. While many businesses have been moving towards becoming more active online and using technology-backed tools to be more agile, this COVID-19 situation has really pushed companies to literally switch how they work within weeks, even days. Businesses that were not able and ready to make this switch have suffered tremendously during this period.
But at the same time, some businesses have made the transition quite smoothly and have been able to keep the business running remotely with employees working from home. This has been possible not only because of their use of technology-backed tools but also because of their ability to rejig their operating model quickly. More importantly, this has been possible because of the leaders at the helm.
In this post, I will share four specific steps for you to take to innovate your way out of this crisis. So, read on!
COVID-19 is a test case for leadership. While the leader’s primary responsibility is to keep the team safe, cohesive, and productive, what should the leader be focused on in the midst of a global disruption like this? I believe that every crisis is an opportunity for innovation. Crises present us with unique conditions that allow innovators to think and move more freely to create rapid, impactful change.
We are seeing this already playing out. Around the world, beermakers and distilleries have shifted production to hand sanitizers. In Italy, a start-up engineering company began quickly using 3D printers to create the valves used in ventilators. Fashion businesses are producing protective gear, gowns, and other supplies for hospitals.
When we look back to this health crisis, I am sure we’ll see the impact it had on innovation in many sectors – be it medical devices, healthcare processes, manufacturing and supply chain innovations, collaboration techniques, education, and so on. Service businesses in particular are likely to see a lot of innovation in how services are created, packaged, and sold.
If you believe the world will go back to being what it was before the pandemic, I’m afraid you are sadly mistaken. Once customers, businesses, and employees are exposed to a certain way of operating, it will be difficult for them to go back and work as if nothing changed. Actions taken during the crisis will shape how companies perform in the long run. Some companies may even continue to pursue opportunities first identified during the crisis.
A very important point to remember is that reputations are built — and lost — during times of crisis. Companies that are demonstrating good citizenship by helping with shortages, or by making major donations, are probably hoping that consumers will remember their actions when the economy returns to normal.
Companies that treat their employees or customers badly during a crisis will face major challenges rebuilding when the storm has passed. Similarly, if leaders in business segments fail to lead the way in terms of innovation and customer service, it is inevitable that other competitors will emerge with better products or platforms.
Eventually, how a business responds to such vast and dislocating change depends on how the leader views the situation – as an opportunity or as a disaster.
So how have you and your company tried to innovate and adapt during this time of crisis? How are you trying to stay relevant in the market? In the next segment, I’m going to talk about some specific approaches that you can adopt to manage this crisis and opportunity for innovation.
So, we were talking about how important it is for leaders and businesses to reinvent and innovate during a crisis. But remember, rapid change is an ongoing process – not just linked to a crisis. Change emanates from changing customer expectation, entry of new players in the market, the introduction of new-age technology, socio-economic factors, new laws, and also changes in executive management or structural transformation of organizations. A crisis only accelerates the pace of change. So these approaches that I am going to share now are relevant, whether you are facing a crisis or not.
One of the key leadership challenges in day-to-day organizational life is inspiring engagement and generating momentum towards the goals of the organization. This becomes even more important in times of crisis as there is a big jump in the nervous energy present in the workforce. Leaders who can harness this energy and focus it on a clear purpose in resolving the crisis will be able to lead the team to success. They will be able to tap into a wave of new ideas, as individuals feel compelled to share insights, they normally would keep to themselves. They will be able to lead their team from fear to a clear shared goal. After all, courage is defined as the ability to overcome fear for a good purpose. In this way, a crisis has the potential to create the organizational courage to take action in support of a purpose that would be unthinkable in times of calm. Also, know that this constant effort to get the team aligned around a purpose will pay dividends even in normal times.
When organizations want to find opportunities to innovate, they usually bring in an external consultant to get an outside perspective and fresh ideas. A crisis can actually play that role very well because it brings to the fore the vulnerabilities and problem areas in the organization which may have been ignored earlier in the drive to keep growing the way things are. When a crisis hits, we are compelled to confront the truth about whether our systems work or not. They make us question our disaster recovery plans and business continuity plans. Being able to zoom out and see things for what they are can suddenly throw up opportunities for operating more efficiently or serve our customers better. A crisis is a good opportunity for you as the leader to give a hard look at why you do what you do and whether you do it in the best possible way.
Organizations, over time, tend to fall into a familiar and predictable way of operating. The very rules that help the organization become more efficient can keep it from evolving and responding rapidly to opportunities thrown up by change. A crisis changes all that. Companies are forced to do away with bureaucratic overheads of review and approval and allow for fresh thinking to be applied quickly to address the challenge. So, how are you responding to this crisis? Are you still trying to stick to the old and familiar ways of taking decisions? If yes, then, believe me, the organization is in for some rough times. What you need right now is for communication to move upwards and downwards and sideways without any barriers of hierarchy because through these communication channels, you get valuable inputs for your strategic decision-making.
A crisis brings with it a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. This can lead to a paralysis of action as leaders and team members grapple with their worries about losing out on things that have been important to them thus far. But dealing with a crisis demands movement and change – the pace of ideation, decision making, and implementation all increase dramatically. If a leader gets trapped in focusing on how to protect what they have rather than identifying what opportunities the crisis is throwing up, they will remain stuck in the present – or an analysis paralysis situation. On the other hand, if leaders choose to focus on quickly creating experiments, seeing what happens, and experimenting some more, they will encourage the freedom to test different thinking, to fail fast, to learn, and to move forward – in short, to innovate.
So there you have it – four approaches to help you innovate and stay relevant despite a crisis. These are
#1 Align around a Purpose
#2 See Systems from Outside In
#3 Shake Up the Organization
#4 Create a Bias for Action
Times of crisis present incredible opportunities for learning and growth. It is a time for experimenting with new technologies and approaches to operating your business. We don’t know how long this coronavirus crisis will continue for or how it will impact our economies and businesses but if we use it wisely as an opportunity for innovating, for learning and growing, we will come out on the other side stronger and more agile.
About 37,400 international companies base their operations out of Singapore, including 7,000 multinational corporations, with more than half of those running their Asia-Pacific businesses from the city-state, according to the EDB website. This means that the regional leadership for many multinational companies sits out of Singapore. With the recent developments in Hong Kong, more and more companies are shifting their regional head offices to Singapore making Singapore even more important in the leadership map of the world.
Businesses today are grappling with the economic fallout of COVID-19 as also the continuing chaos of digital disruption, regulatory changes, demographic and consumer demands, labour shortages, and skill gaps, and more. Companies need their leaders to evolve and learn how to manage within this chaos. They also need leaders to learn quickly, and coaching can provide the targeted, personalized, and focused development that is required.
So, what is the scenario of Executive Coaching in Singapore? Before we get into that, let’s first understand what Executive Coaching is because sometimes it is mixed up with mentoring, consulting, or advising.
Executive Coaching is a one-to-one partnership between the coach and the executive or leader (‘client’) in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires the client to maximize personal and professional potential. Executive coaches work with leaders of various organizations (such as a director, vice president, president, or member of the C-suite).
The executive coach brings new eyes and ears to their situation and provides a safe and non-judgemental space for these leaders to understand their current challenges and aspirations, see how others perceive them, and focus on identifying and clarifying current goals as well as the appropriate action steps to reach those goals. Executive coaching is not just about problems and issues—it is about awakening consciousness to maximize potential.
Executive Coaching is not the same as mentoring or advising. In mentoring, the mentor shares their own experience and opens doors for the mentees. They tend to be from the same company or industry as the mentee because they need to have had a similar experience to be able to guide the mentee. Coaching on the other hand is a learning modality that taps into the inner wisdom of the coachee and helps them unlock their potential.
The executive coach need not be from the same industry as the skills of the coach are more around their ability to create a psychologically safe environment for the coachee to explore their innermost thoughts and concerns and to be able to get insights to move forward. Many individuals call themselves coaches and offer executive coaching services without having any coach-specific training or credential. This is why it is important to understand what coaching is and choose to work with only credentialed coaches.
ICF credentialed coaches go through rigorous coach-specific training and meet experience requirements before they receive their credentials. This ensures that they are able to provide the best coaching services to their clients and that they adhere to the internationally accepted global code of ethics for coaches.
For more details you can look at the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) here.
There are many reasons why an organization or business leader might choose to work with an executive coach. These reasons range from wanting to develop a leader to take on a bigger role in the organization, the transition to a new role, region or business vertical, enhancing their succession management efforts, improving the strategic thinking of leaders, or enhancing executive presence. Organizations tend to invest in coaching for mainly their senior leaders as coaching is a highly personalized and relatively premium leadership development modality.
Senior executives and business leaders make high stakes decisions on a regular basis. Their decisions impact not only the business performance of the organization but also the growth and work environment for their teams. Hence the investment in executive leadership coaching can have far-reaching positive outcomes for organizations.
Executive coaching also works really well for business owners, entrepreneurs, start-up founders, and young business heirs. While they may be experts in their field, managing people and other resources require them to polish their leadership skills and business acumen. Executive business coaching is an effective tool for this given its personalized and exclusive approach.
Over the years, we have seen executive coaching being embraced by more and more organizations, and its value appears to be growing across industries and for different leadership levels. The benefits of coaching match companies’ desperate need for developing leaders into leaders of the future.
Professional coaching has been around in the western world for close to a century, and in countries like the US or even the UK, having a coach, whether you're a middle manager or an executive, is pretty commonplace. However, it is still an emerging market in Asia.
International Coaching Federation (ICF), which is the largest coach credentialing organisation in the world with 30,000 members, offers an easy way to clients to find credentialed coaches. ICF has a Credentialed Coach Finder website where you can search coaches by their level of credential, experience, demographics, location and the services that they offer.
If we look at the number of coaches in Singapore in this platform, there are 419 ICF credentialed coaches based in Singapore. Of this, 58% at the Associate Certified Coach (ACC) level and 40% are at the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) level. The remaining 2%, i.e., 8 coaches are at a Master Certified Coach (MCC) level. ACC is at the foundation level and PCC and MCC are advanced and mastery levels for coaching.
While at a glance, the number of coaches in Singapore may seem large, one must understand that coaches tend to specialize in one or two areas. For instance, someone focused on life coaching brings in very different skills and services as compared to someone into executive coaching. An executive coach helps clients achieve professional goals and feel confident making bolder business moves. A life coach helps people achieve their life or personal goals, find happiness and improve their relationships.
Another thing to keep in mind is that a lot of senior coaches (PCC and MCC) tend to go into coach training, i.e., they focus on training others who want to become credentialed coaches. So, then their focus is not entirely on coaching clients, though they might continue to do so to some extent. Their main focus is into running their executive coach training companies.
Another segment of coaches is the internal coaches, i.e., credentialed coaches within organisations who support the coaching needs of their own organisation. These could be employees from HR and sometimes even from the business side. However, these coaches don’t work with clients outside of their own organisations in most cases.
Executive Coaching helps key employees within your organization build new skills and competencies, so that they are effective leaders when their leadership is needed most.
Ultimately, executive coaching has the potential to develop executives who feel confident and can make tough decisions, have improved capacity to deal with rapidly changing environments and develop a corporate culture where more motivated and productive employees contribute to the bottom line.
ICF Singapore offers an easy way to find ICF credentialed coaches in Singapore through their Find A Coach page.
While there are many coaches listed there, it is important to be clear about your goals from coaching and then chose a coach accordingly. Coaching can be especially beneficial in the current challenging times that we are in. If every individual has access to quality coaching, our world will be a far better and more sustainable place.
To experience a complimentary coaching session, click on the Request Consultation button above.
How do you manage people who have no interest in learning new skills, or advancing their careers?
When I talk about low ambition, I want to clarify that I am not referring to poor performers. I am referring to people who may be really good at what they do or may be in highly-skilled roles – but they are happy where they are in their careers - they've learned the skills needed to do their jobs well, and they don't wish to add to their responsibilities by climbing further up the corporate ladder. In fact, if you think about the people in your teams, you’ll realize that not everyone is willing to learn new skills even if it will help them advance their careers.
In this video, I share some insights to help you manage and motivate such employees.
You may ask, why should I be bothered if they are happy where they are right now. The challenge with managing people with low ambition is how to keep them motivated so that they continue to deliver high-quality work and not just go through the motions. Since they may not be motivated by learning opportunities, greater responsibility, or challenging projects, so you will want to have a strategy in place to ensure that they stay motivated.
Another challenge with such people is around loyalty and retention. If they have no ambition to build their careers or to progress through the organization, then they're more likely to jump ship if they're not enjoying their work. This can be disruptive for your organization. Employee turnover has related costs.
So, what can you do?
Start by examining your own assumptions about your team members, because your perception about them affects the way that you behave with them. For instance, if you believe that someone is simply coming to work to earn a paycheck, then you may unconsciously adopt an authoritarian management style with them.
To help you get a more realistic understanding of your team member’s motivation drivers, you would want to take interest in them and build a relationship. The more you know about their personal lives and goals, the better you'll be able to structure rewards that keep them motivated.
Understanding where their fundamental needs stem from in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs will allow you to customize your motivational approach for maximum impact.
I also find that McClelland's Motivation Theory works well. According to this theory, people have different dominant motivators. These are:• Needs for achievement• Need for affiliation• Need for power
Once you know which is the dominant motivator for your team members, you can structure their work and rewards effectively.
For someone who has low ambition, you may want to explore what they find meaningful and where they think they will enjoy their work more. For some people, moving up into roles with more responsibility may not be the best way forward. Instead moving laterally into a field that excites them and uses their talents better would be more beneficial.
Having control over what we do is a major source of job satisfaction for most people. Whenever possible, give your employees the opportunity to choose their tasks and projects. The more control they have over their work, the more they'll own, and take responsibility for, their tasks.
Another reason why someone is low on ambition could be that they lack confidence in their own abilities. Doing what you can to boost their confidence can be a great motivator, and can lead to significantly increased productivity. Recognition and appreciation for a job well done can be an incredible motivator.
People with low ambition are often responsible for doing work that everyone else in the organization considers "low status." If this is the case in your team, make sure that they are treated equally, especially when it comes to company perks and recognition programs.
Investing your time and energy in your team can help build their capabilities and also their vision of where they can possibly go. That’s a win-win situation.
Want to discuss a challenge you're facing with your management team? Click on the Request Consultation button above or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sensemaking has emerged as a critical skill for leaders in this VUCA world. In this episode, I cover:
Ask any CEO or Vice President about his or her management team and you are likely to hear about some managers who can't seem to make decisions soon enough; who can't give constructive feedback; who are reluctant to develop subordinates or to make employee changes when necessary. Basically, managers who aren't really managing or are reluctant in their role as a manager.
Now, the truth is that most employees are promoted into managerial roles for doing a good job in their area of expertise, and not because of their ability to handle people and resources. Although promotions like these are great for the individual because it’s a form of reward for them, having a manager who is reluctant or uncomfortable about being in charge could lead to a lot of problems for his or her team and the organization as well.
Newly promoted managers need to learn how to think, feel and behave as managers, rather than as individual contributors or "doers." They need to stop thinking of the "people" and "business" aspects of their job as two unrelated challenges. Their job is to get the people to work towards delivering business results which requires the ability to assert themselves, show initiative and influence others.
Unfortunately, reluctant managers tend to fall short in these areas. In most cases, the reluctance is not because the manager doesn't know what needs to be done. It’s because they are simply afraid of the responsibility of supervising people or believe that they are not going to be good at it.
Especially, high achievers in technical areas may tend to be competitive and loners and may not have well developed interpersonal skills. Reluctant managers often ignore problems because it's easier to just not deal with unpleasant situations. Subconsciously they hope the problem will simply go away if they ignore it.
Rather than helping people grow professionally by providing them with the training and tools they need to improve, reluctant managers tend to ignore low achievers and may even step in to do the job themselves. When this happens, everyone loses out because it impacts the morale and capabilities of the team and also its performance.
Sometimes the role as boss can be twice as hard for managers who have a strong need to be liked by everyone. Such managers are unable to assert themselves and hence not able to generate results.
So, what can you do as the supervisor or superior of a reluctant manager? How can you help them become empowered leaders? You could sit them down and explain that it is their job to make the team perform and that they need to be able to take hard decisions and influence people. But then, in most cases, they already know what they need to do. The problem tends to be at a deeper level.
As humans, we tend to limit what is possible by what we believe is true. Our perception becomes our reality and we actually look for evidence which supports this view and ignore the rest. It takes as little as one or two unfortunate experiences and a perspective is formed – which we then generalize across all facets of our lives. For example someone who froze on stage as a child might carry the belief that they can never be good at public speaking.
Applying this to the current topic, your reluctant manager may have had some experiences that made him or her believe that they will not be a good leader or that they are not a good leader. So even if you believe that they are capable of leading the team, and they take on the role, somewhere deep down they might be coming up against a wall – basically telling themselves subconsciously that this won’t work, and might even be sabotaging their own performance to conform to their belief that they can’t be a good leader.
Another possibility could be that they believe that good leaders need to behave in a certain manner – for example be loud, pushy, demanding, and extrovert and so on. This could be based on what they have been exposed to while growing up or at work. So, they may then try to fit into that mould and behave like that, even if that is not their natural personality type. This is bound to lead to an internal tussle or incongruence and eventually convince them that they are not good enough to be a leader or that they are better off being an individual contributor.
So, what you need to really do is to understand what is making them reluctant about their managerial role. What’s standing in their way to assert themselves and get work done? What are their beliefs about their own leadership capabilities? Once you understand this about them, you can help them change their perspective by opening their minds to new possibilities and ways of looking at themselves, their role and their impact.
Another way in which you can empower them is by understanding that managers are often reluctant to make a decision for fear of making a mistake. So see how you react when things go wrong. Do you back the manager and tell them to focus on how to resolve the problem or do you spend time analyzing their role in things going wrong? Your trust in them will empower them.
And finally, you can help reluctant managers by developing their capabilities through training and coaching. A good training program can change the way individuals think. A coaching program can help them overcome their internal barriers and develop their thinking capabilities. After exploring all these possibilities, if the manager is still reluctant, accept that they may fit better in another role. It is not worth losing a good employee if you can find a more suitable way to reward a job well done.
Want to discuss a challenge you're facing with your management team? Click on the Request Consultation button above or email email@example.com
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