Are you up for the next challenge?


When you take on a new role or a new responsibility, or you are giving a presentation or making a speech, you should be a little apprehensive.

If it is really new and you have not done it before, why wouldn’t you be apprehensive?

There’s a difference between being apprehensive and paralysed by fear!

If you are paralysed be fear (as many are by the thought of public speaking) that can be overcome. Practice, practice and practice again – ideally in front of an audience, but even practising to the dog will help! There are also plenty of people to help with presentation and/or public speaking skills.

If you are apprehensive that’s a good thing. We all need to be a little on edge, a little more aware of giving of our best. Can you imagine an athlete on the starting line being totally relaxed?

You can control your apprehension through preparation and be envisaging the outcome. What’s the worst that could happen, and why would it? Often just picturing that is enough to cut through the tension and help you do a better job.

All these same thoughts and feeling apply to the team member to whom you just gave a new role or responsibility or who is taking on a pitch to a new prospect.

It’s your job, as the business leader, to help them do their job and part of that may be to help them reduce the fear level. You can guide or coach them, you can help them practice and they will then do a better job.

A session preparing for a pitch for new business is a classic example. The team making the pitch will benefit from as much research as they can do, and benefit again from a rehearsal where other team members throw up possible objections or challenges. Imagine how confident the sales person feels if the real objection is one they have already rehearsed?


It’s not about the numbers


If you are successful in reducing your day to day responsibilities so that you have an empty diary occasionally, you may be wondering what next – what to do with all this free time!

The temptation is to dive back into the detail but that’s to be avoided.

The job and duty of the business leader is to provide direction and to enable other members of the team.

Providing direction is partly about having a good idea where you want the business to be in six months or more – the vision – but in my experience, most leaders have that.

The missing piece is communication.

Circumstances change and the business environment changes. When that happens it’s time to communicate your vision again – and this is where many people fail. You have discussed the position with your closest advisers and adjusted your strategy, but have you told the team?

Taking Brexit as a recent example have you reconsidered your strategy and have you told the team – even if the strategy is no change.

The other part of being a leader is the enabling of the team.

Enabling others to take on responsibilities and tasks is extremely satisfying, especially when they are not sure they are capable!

This too is about communication. You have to be very clear on the required outcome, offer support and be approachable for the team.

In short, you cannot over-communicate but you most certainly can under communicate.

Keep an eye on the numbers but always remember that they are the result of the efforts of the team. Improve the effectiveness of the team and the numbers will show the


Where are you investing?


Some time ago I visited the London Eye. It gives you a unique view of the capital.

I’d expected the attraction to be really busy – and it was! We had a voucher, but no one seemed to know to which desk we were supposed to go to redeem it. Eventually, I found the right desk and we took the ride and the obligatory photos.

Customer service was very poor – not enough staff, not enough signage and not enough training for the staff that were there.

On that same trip, we had lunch at a restaurant run by a Michelin-starred chef. Service was first class and the food was excellent, but for me, the whole experience was tainted when the bill arrived with service included and space for an extra gratuity!

I asked the waiter to take off the service charge so that I could choose how much to tip, but his immediate reaction was to tell me that I should have complained earlier!

I struggled to get him to understand that I was happy with the service but wanted to determine for myself how much I thought it was worth.

Both experiences were excellent, but both were let down by the customer service and I would not recommend either.

Both businesses have invested heavily – Wikipedia tells me the London Eye cost £70m and I don’t think there is such a thing as a low-cost rental in Chelsea – but both have lost sight of the need to delight every customer.

If you run customer satisfaction surveys, perhaps the most important customers are those who used to buy from you but no longer do so. Find out what changed – just as you would with a team member leaving, you would do an exit interview. You may be surprised to find it was something really small that caused the change.

A satisfied customer is only one poor experience away from being dissatisfied. Are you investing enough in customer service, or just focused on the internal workings of your business?