Life and Leadership – Roger Fairhead – 8
Interview series with leadership specialist, Roger Fairhead
What does success look like from here?
We should all take more risks. I had a conversation with a Director of a small company which had recently been bought out by a larger rival, and she described the difference in corporate cultures. The smaller company had a corporate culture that said, “if we’re 80% sure of being able to achieve something, then we’ll do it,” whereas the larger company had a culture that said, “if we’re 20% sure we could do it, then we’ll give it our best shot.”
Estimating bias can be the difference between success and failure. For several years I managed the proposals department for a sub-contract engineering firm. When putting a price together we had teams of engineers who would have to estimate the work involved in completing the project. I learned that some engineers would tend to overestimate the costs, and others would tend to underestimate. In this world of tendering, if we were 15% too expensive we would always lose the bid, yet if we were 15% too cheap we would win the business and make a loss. So, part of the proposals process involved applying a factor to each engineer’s estimates in order to take this into account.
Buy-in and belief are critical to success. A mistake I’ve seen people make is imposing objectives or targets that the client doesn’t buy in to. It is really important that the client is stretched, but that they also buy in to their own stretch goals. Similarly, it’s important to realise how far people can be stretched and still believe that they can achieve the result.
Failure isn’t final but it needn’t always happen as often as it does. I have seen people accepting failure when success could have been achieved with a little more focus. If we want to grow, we need to accommodate challenge from others if we don’t meet our goals so that we don’t let ourselves off too easily, but always on the understanding that failure isn’t final.
In leadership terms, success looks like achieving more while using the same resources. Anyone can achieve ordinary results with ordinary people and extraordinary results with extraordinary people. It takes a great leader to achieve extraordinary results with ordinary people.
Team goal-setting and achievement must align with organisational objectives. A great way to make this happen is to have a short term corporate thematic goal which can be revised each season (12–18 months). Whether the business objective is to make widgets profitably or provide a great service and make a difference, a thematic goal brings the team together on a particular aspect. The team leader can then bring intentional alignment in terms of results. Each team member will apply one of their goals to achieving the thematic goal.
Roger is a leadership specialist delivering Leadership for Business Achievement through Speaking, Training and Coaching to business leaders and entrepreneurs.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Leadership for Business also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.
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Life and Leadership
– is an interview series with leaders involved in the Global Leadership Network and the Global Leadership Summit. Interview by Will Salmon.