Leadership Matters More Than the Leader

Some people think that a CEO determines the success of a business; that it is their personality and style that is the decisive factor. However,  CEOs come and go, yet the business they are in charge of survives, so I would argue that it is not down to one person and how they do things, but instead it is the leadership strategy that is the key to a company’s longevity.

As Josh Bersin wrote in Forbes magazine: “Long term business performance comes from leadership culture and careful continuous development of leadership at all levels.”

And his research into the business performance of a number of companies with high profile CEOs, indicates that it is the development of leadership within all levels of the business that has the most impact.

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The enormous benefit of developing a leadership culture is that it protects the business against changes in ‘personalities’ at the top. The boat is not so easily rocked when a healthy strategy is in place and there are several ways of achieving this kind of stability.

It is noticeable that the best performing businesses link leadership strategy to business strategy. What this means is that operations at the mid and lower levels are aligned in a way that ensures a business thrives. This is achieved through coaching and training programmes that enable the best leaders in the company to rise to the top of departments, and all of them understand that strategy and team work are more important than personalities.

Leadership is not the same as management. For example, ‘management’ is concerned with the overall organisation, planning, integrations, budgets and development. But ‘leadership’ is focused on a very different set of activities, because it is, or should be, based on leading the people who work in the company to ensure its success.

Therefore, leadership develops the following attributes:

  • Motivation
  • Encouragement
  • Selection of talented people
  • Coaching and training
  • Building trust

You can see that these are quite different qualities to those valued by the management function of an organisation. They are all people-centred and focused on getting the best out of everyone, at every level, and on finding the best people for every job.

Leadership is about team building and creating loyalty. It is about making every member of the organisation feel that they have something of value to contribute, regardless of what level they are at. A strong leadership strategy embraces its members, and in a way replicates our notion of family. This in turn creates an emotional investment in the success of a business, which is invaluable to its owners.

When an inclusive and encouraging leadership strategy is firmly established, the business is well defended against any mavericks who might set themselves above the rest of the organisation and try to impose their personal whims on it. Leadership strategy trumps the role of CEO in any business; that’s why leadership is more important than leaders.

6 Steps to hiring a great web developer

Building your brand online requires stylish web design and a website that works seamlessly. To achieve this you need a highly skilled web developer. At first, you may think that finding a great web developer will be an easy task, because there are so many developers available, but it isn’t as simple as that, as many have found out at great expense. So, here are six things you need to consider when you’re hiring a web developer.

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  1. What do you need the developer to do?

You need to decide what their task is first. Do you want them to work on the front end of your website or the back end? Or do you want them to do everything from A-Z? Front-end developers are more skilled in design; they code for ‘good looks’ with HTML and Javascript.  Whereas those who are better at back-end stuff, know all about databases and programming languages like PHP. The developers who can handle both are usually more expensive, but the upside of this is that there are no communication issues; you only have one person to talk to.

  1. Freelance or full-time employee?

There are plenty of freelancers available and this is a more flexible option. You can hire them on a per project basis, which is more economical than taking one on full-time.

  1. What’s your budget?

Website budgets vary greatly and the more complex the site, the more it will cost. Figure out your budget first and talk to the developer about what you can achieve with that. Also, be prepared to wait 12-16 weeks for a site to be completed, some may even take six months.

  1. Will you work well together?

When you are hiring a developer to work with you and your team you must consider how the person will get on in your company culture, even if they are freelance. Happy employees are more productive, so take time to assess the developer’s attitudes, enthusiasm and adaptability; it will save you time in the long run.

  1. What is their skillset?

You need to establish where they are strong and weak. Give them technical tests to complete, such as their proficiency in HTML, and ask questions like:

  • What are the benefits of using Javascript?
  • How do you devise a timeline for your projects?

Also ask to see their portfolio.

  1. Do they understand what you want?

The last step is essential because you need to be sure that you and the developer are on the same page. You should go over the following:

  • Reporting structure
  • Deadlines
  • Expectations
  • Tools
  • Payment

Hiring is always hard work, but it is worth the effort to get the right person, because that will pay off in the end in every way; in saving time and money and in building the brand that you really want. So, take the time to decide what you need first and then follow these steps to get the best web developer possible.

 

 

 

Stop Focusing On Short-Term Results

Firms get very excited when their half-year results are good, but what does six months of great profits and soaring stocks really mean in the bigger picture. Is there a good reason to feel things are going so well that there is no need to consider a downside? I don’t think so. But, the short-term should not be your focus when markets are buoyant, or when they in a decline.

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Let’s say you look back at what was happening a year or two years ago. Perhaps your business was doing well, but did you make any changes as a result of improvements in performance. On the whole, large and small businesses tend not to do anything; they feel content with the status quo. And there is a good reason for this.

The media creates panic

Even political activity that makes the markets jittery is just a lot of noise in the media. The markets react in their own way. As I’m writing this, North Korea has just fired a test missile over Japan and newspapers report that the Dow Jones opened at lower average and buying of physical gold is up. Whatever happens, there will always be a short-term response to the situation. But that is just today’s story. There is another picture to consider.

Currently the markets are pretty strong –the response to North Korea aside –but everyone who invests knows that what goes up can also come down. I’m not sure when the markets might start to be more ‘bear’ than ‘bull’, but one thing is certain – it will happen.

The history of ups and downs

You only have to look at history to know this is true. For example, Capital Research produced an overview of market declines based on the Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1900 to 2016 and they found something interesting:

  • There is a decline of roughly 5% three times every year
  • About once per annum there is a decline of around 10%
  • Approximately every two years, the 10% decline will become a 15% decline
  • Every 3.5 years the market decline will reach 20%+

So, what does this tell us? First, that there are declines every year and that makes them ‘normal. The research also shows that 2015 was the last year in which there was a 5% decline, and this means, based on probability, that there will be one coming soon. And, finally, even though we have declines, things always pick up again.

Focus on the long-term

This is important information to consider when you’re investing for the long-term. Accept that there will always be a downturn and factor that into your investment plan. Don’t panic when a market starts to drop, and don’t suddenly pull out unless you really have to, because as the research shows, sooner rather than later, your investment will be back on track again.

I hope you enjoyed this and found it useful. Please subscribe to my blog if you’d like to receive an alert when I post new content.

 

 

Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in China

China is a very exciting country, both culturally and in terms of business. For foreign entrepreneurs it offers a number of interesting opportunities, although you will need to hold you nerve in this often volatile and diverse market.

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Some of the positives you may get in China are: cheap and reliable technology, cheap and highly productive workforce, fertile land and good weather. China is also the country that has the second highest purchasing power parity when compared to the rest of the world.

In my experience, the overseas entrepreneurs who have succeeded where others have failed in China are those who have really explored the opportunities and sectors that are most open to new businesses and I’ve put together some business areas where there are openings in this huge economy that is also the largest importer and exporter of goods in the world.

Education services

Native English speakers are in big demand in China. Clearly, just teaching in a school will not build a business, but if you explore the provision of online courses you have a chance of creating a business with real value, especially when you consider the numbers in the Chinese population.

Ecological and environmental products

China has a serious problem with pollution and it is looking at ways to mitigate this with projects that include new energy, clean and renewable energy, green technology, reforestation, gardens and landscaping.

An Internet business

Most Chinese have access to the web and it is not difficult for overseas entrepreneurs to start a small-scale business online for the Chinese market. You will find that there is less bureaucracy than you might expect and fewer licenses and certifications required than in other countries.

Mobile phone accessories

China made mobile phones cheaper for the rest of the world.They can also supply USB cords, memory cards, batteries and other accessories. If you can find a supplier in China and sell their wares to the rest of the world, you potentially have a very profitable business.

Trading platforms and online businesses

The technology available in China favours online business and trading platforms. The main advantage of owning an online shop is that you don’t have to own or possess all the products listed in your on-ground warehouse. Just talk to some manufacturers and have an agreement that allows them to list their products in your store.

I’d also advise anyone doing business in China to bear the following in mind:

  • Cultural differences – make sure you know your business etiquette
    · Language difference – find a good interpreter and this won’t be an issue
    · Loyalty – loyalty is very important to the Chinese
    · Getting qualified and reliable manufacturers – do your research and due diligence.

Anyone can overcome these by being prepared, getting an interpreter where needed and having credible Chinese partners to help you out. This is a country that will continue to go from strength to strength – explore it now and find your niche as a foreign entrepreneur. It pays to get into the market early on.

I hope you enjoyed this and found it useful. Please subscribe to my blog if you’d like to receive an alert when I post new content.