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Active decisions

The issue

Making decisions that really change a business

How it feels

“The company has grown to a size where I’m working further from the action than I used to. I’m finding it harder to make decisions that reach through the business and really have impact. How do I change that?”

How and when it affects a business

Often when there’s a sudden burst of rapid growth. You employ people in a rush to fill the gaps but they’re not really the right people and you don’t have time to train them. You feel bogged down in the day to day, ever further from the front line. You’re interminably fixing problems but nothing appears to be improving. Your decisions don’t seem to be having much effect on the parts of the business that need to change. In short, you’re pushing water uphill.

How do companies respond?

When there’s a clear leadership structure, the person at the top may feel the burden is solely theirs and they have to solve this. However that extra stress can mean their decisions become increasingly rash or emotional as they search for anything that could make a difference. When the leadership structure and responsibilities are more ambiguous another type of problem can raise its head – nothing’s happening because there are actually several businesses running under one roof, none going in the same direction.

What should business leaders do?

“Change the way you make decisions,” says Winning Pitch coach Bob Evans. “More of the same will only get you the same. You need to get help and organise your way out of this. Stop working five days a week in the business and take one, then two, then more to work on the business.”

What Mindset do you need to do that?

“One of the exercises I do is to write down three titles – doer, manager, leader,” continues Bob. “One to manufacture the product, one to ensure everything’s working productively, and one to think about generating profit and how the business can make more for less. Then I ask business leaders how their day-to-day job fits into those categories; what percentage of their time they’re spending on each. It almost always turns out to be wrong – the opposite of what they know it should be. When they realise how badly adrift those percentages are, that’s when they start moving towards the right mindset.

“To make active, effective decisions you have to realise it’s about you, as the leader, being paid to think, not to do or build or manufacture. If you want to grow a business, grow a team – bring in somebody who can do those things ten times better than you so you’re free to lead. And don’t be afraid to spend the money to get the right person.”

Why not try

The boardroom genius exercise

Imagine you need to replace your board and you have on tap the finest business people on the planet: Alan Sugar on sales, Richard Branson on marketing, whatever… Fill the board up with the greatest you can envision. Now consider what it is about each of those candidates that made you allot them the responsibilities you did. Work out what you admire about how they work, the skills they possess, the decisions they make. Now you have a benchmark of the very best against which to judge your own leadership team and you can start filling the skills gaps to fashion the team your enterprise really needs – the perfect team you pictured in your head.

How Winning Pitch can help

“For business leaders who find themselves stuck, or who are having problems making decisions that create an impact, I think peer-to-peer workshops are great,” says Bob. “Sharing a problem with eight other MDs in a room, realising you’re not alone in your frustrations, and hearing how other leaders dealt with it can achieve real breakthrough moments. It’s one of the best things we do and business leaders love it.”

For more information give us a call on 0161 952 4350.