“UNLEASHING YOUR VISION AS A CEO” – Driving Clarity & Alignment as a Leader
By REG ATHWAL, FPSA
World-Renowned Family Business Executive Advisor, Author & Keynote Speaker; Founding Partner & MD, RTS Global Partners
CLARITY CASE STUDY
It’s an early morning start, as I head down to the boardroom at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi…
A retained Family Owned Business (FOB) client has booked me to bring clarity to a room full of 20 executives, managing a conglomerate. Some have arrived and most are late including the owners, so the meeting will not start on time, it already gives me an insight into their culture and commitment towards meetings in this large conglomerate. We are eventually ready to start 45 minutes later. As I take the stage, I sense some tension in the room, some arms are folded and others distracted with their tablets and smart phones. Nobody is in conversation with each other. I question how many of them really want to be here. I need to bring communication alive here and immediately with impact; and disrupt them a little is what I am thinking.
When it comes to gaining clarity, open authentic communication is the starting point. The Chairman briefly introduces me. My bio was sent to everyone in advance but few I feel have read it. So I introduce myself formally and politely ask everyone to immediately place all their mobile (one executive has three) phones, and tablets into a brown box that I conveniently located as everyone arrived.
I get looks of complete disgust and slow buy-in with my request. Promising to hand them back after the session, the executives eventually agree, some finding is amusing now. I ask for the Chairman to do the same. Open communication starts with the need for all executives to be present, to be fully in the room both mentally and emotionally, to open up their ears and listen with full attention with no distractions. Our world has changed and sometimes going back to basics is essential. When was the last time you were being fully self-expressive and listened to every word of your peer group and team members?
To seek clarity one must first ask the right questions and understand the inner thoughts, real motives, deep underlying issues and cultural concerns of your team. We can then navigate the team to eventually be on the same page, have clarity and alignment. I start with an exercise called what’s your “V.I.P” and ask all the executives to imagine it is December 31st 2020. We imagine that we are back in the boardroom congratulating each other for a job well done for the past 5 years. The ‘V’ in V.I.P. is for Vision – Where are we going? I ask all the executives to write down the trophies they have won, the past significant achievements and accomplishments we are acknowledging, as if we are standing in the future and all looking back at the past.
Our communication starts with an open forum and grounds rules are set that no answer is right or wrong. As each executive shares their personal Vision2020, it becomes quickly apparent that we have 20 different versions in the boardroom. We are not aligned and not heading in the same direction as a company, and as a leadership team. If you are the owner of your company, are you clear on your Vision2020? And more importantly does your leadership team understand it, know it, repeat it, breathe it and unleash it to everyone else throughout the company?
No one in the company is going to bring the Vision2020 to life, unless there is a buy-in, as people are motivated by their self-interests. What’s in it for them? How will this vision benefit their career and personal goals?
As I work my way around the boardroom for a second time, I start asking WHY do they want to achieve the Vision2020 that they have communicated to their respective executive team members? This process brings communication to a deeper level, giving us an insight into the ‘P’ in V.I.P. called Purpose. Each executive member is motivated by different things; some because achieving the vision is compelling, some because of the career development opportunities, some because a promotion is possible, some because it will look great on their resume and secretly they want to move on, some because it will be a great journey and some because they want to tell others in their family and external circles they were part of this success story. For the owners and shareholders it may be to make a difference or build upon their reputation or grow or build financial muscle to go on and do more great things, and for some they are doing it simply for pride. There are many WHY reasons and motives. What’s your Purpose? What’s the Purpose of your executive team? How can everyone reach agreement with a Vision that creates massive buy-in and commonality but with a deep respect for WHY the other person and team members want to ride this wave, and be part of this exciting Vision2020?
As we drive more open authentic communication and create a new Vision2020 and/or re-align an existing one that members forgot about, it brings the executive dream team together. We now bridge the gap of Vision and Purpose with the ‘I’ in V.I.P. which is the Intention. Intention is more than a wish or a may be list of objectives. An intention has a powerful ‘must’ behind it, a higher-level of determination. The Intention is WHAT must happen in the short to medium-term to turn the Vision2020 into reality. In most cases executives focus more on the plan and end up with a long things to do list. My mantra to the team is ‘less is more’. What are the 3 Intentions each executive must achieve in 2015 and together we are on track for Vision2020. What are your Top 3 Intentions for 2015? Are the Intentions from one Executive to each other aligned? Or are people working in silos with no clarity?
Many years ago I interviewed a CEO responsible for billion-dollar corporation. He told me he delivered 200 speeches to his entire workforce over 365 days. He told me later on it was the same speech delivered 200 times. Eventually his entire organization knew the speech word-for-word; they knew exactly what he was going to say next. He was driving the process of repetition for the Vision and Intentions and re-confirming the Purpose to all involved each and every day.
In business we sometimes create a Vision Statement, place it up on a wall with a nice frame and then forget about it. The V.I.P. must be communicated each and every day with different mechanisms. It’s human nature that what we discuss today, is forgotten about or changed within 2 weeks of agreeing it. Your V.I.P. will give clarity to your teams, driven from open communication, repetition and remember ‘less is more’.
The executive team were handed back their mobile phones and tablets, and for once were completely present in the boardroom. The Chairman smiled and thanked me for a job well done…
To find out more about how RTS can be engaged to facilitate your private V.I.P. session, contact RTS Global Partners: firstname.lastname@example.org.
About RTS Global Partners
We offer leading-edge scientific and practical advisory, consulting, education and venture solutions to family owned businesses and conglomerates, as well as large corporates with an entrepreneurial DNA. We also provide superior management consulting services for businesses who want to transform their human-capital and grow into new markets across Africa and Middle East.
As a rapidly-growing advisory and consulting firm, we have members supporting 85 key clients in 7 countries and adding value to millions of employees with our collective knowledge capital, DNA systems and DNA processes. Our company is the creator of the ‘Unleash Your DNA’ brand and ‘The DNA Model’. 80 percent of our senior leadership team are client-facing professionals from different nationalities. We have plans to expand our Partner Network to 22 countries by 2022 across Africa and Middle East and service 22,000 clients, which is all part of our Vision 2022.
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