Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny.
As the new year approaches, we should reflect and learn from our mistakes of the past year (as well as those of others). So, let’s get ahead and meet 2023 head on.
Here are some of my views on what we need to focus on, to thrive, not just survive.
- Cultivate optimism
Fostering optimism in our leaders and our businesses is critical for the future. It’s been proven that optimistic people benefit from better mental and physical health; they suffer less anxiety, they adapt better and recover quicker, and they live longer. Nurturing this mindset among your people will ensure a healthy, positive workforce, and a healthy, positive business. Furthermore, optimistic people tend to be more productive and resilient. They accept failure as part of their learning journey.
Cultivating optimism is about being open to alternative ideas, identifying what you can change, and focusing on what you do well.
- Find the right people
There are many factors that contribute to business success, but your people are so important. Those businesses that look after their employees are the ones that have fared the best through the Great Resignation, Re-evaluation and beyond. People are having difficult times and business leaders must listen and focus on creating stable businesses to be able to support them.
A people-based business has a culture that nurtures its people first, as well as customer relationships. It focuses on the human element. People do business with people, but they must be the right people. Employing an ex-Google employee doesn’t guarantee success; employing someone who shares the values of your organization and attitude is the key to success.
- Invest in your culture
In attracting and retaining the best people for your business you need a culture that you can live and breathe, as it is at the top of people’s agendas, for both current and potential employees.
That culture needs to consider people’s feelings and adapt and change with their needs. It’s not about instilling an immoveable mantra or sticking to a rigid process. In stressing the importance of culture, the physical environment has its part to play (a pub and a treehouse, for example) and remember that the little things play just as significant a role.
- Follow your own path
Do not be a sheep. Trust your gut, be bold, make decisions based on your market, your product, and your data. Don’t feel bad about it; if it feels right, then do it.
I am a huge advocate of trusting your gut. We’ve all had those moments where our gut was telling us to do one thing and we didn’t listen to it. That elusive hindsight. In history some people just seem to have this unspoken wisdom; an inner compass that guides them to make the right decision. From Bob Lutz turning around the lagging Chrysler company in the 1990s with the introduction of the Dodge Viper, based on it ‘feeling right’, to Steve Jobs attributing his invention of the iPhone to ‘not letting the noise of others drown your inner voice’.
- Maximise what you have
Invest in the relationships you have with your people and your customers. Communicate, actively listen, and talk to clients about what you do. Never assume anything, as one size doesn’t fit all. It’s always best to foster long term relationships rather than thinking of short term gains, so treat your clients like the celebrities that they are. Put them at the centre of your strategy, and provide excellent customer service, tailored to them.
- Emphasize empathy
Empathy inspires understanding and knowledge in team members. When people are open, they can be more creative in solving problems, driving productivity and long-term success. As a CEO it is hugely important to surround yourself with brilliant people who are full of ideas.
Empathy is crucial externally as well. The only way to get to know your customers is to communicate with them, as true business partnerships are a two-way street.
7 Integrate and focus on what you do best
Finally, I am a firm believer that people should ‘stick to their knitting’, in other words, do what they are best at and get others to fill in the skills gaps. This applies to leaders being self-aware and building a team around them that makes a great whole. But it also applies to organizations too.
Today, many things can be outsourced. The future is in working together in close partnerships, simply being an integrated extension of the business. The service or solution may be based in a different building or country, but it will simply be an extension of the new way of working… together.