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The Three Ingredients That Really Matter for Any Business, beyond Manpower, Money and Market

February 13, 2014

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We know how important it is for a business, any business, to have a market, access to money and people.

But beyond those obvious three, there are three ingredients that really matter that we must also have.

Let me give you a double case study to illustrate.

Peter started his business as a sole trader, an owner operator with a front end loader. Because of his work ethic, he began to land bigger contracts and had to employ other people.

Within a few years he’d built annual revenue of $20 million, a workforce of 180 people, and had brought in a fifty percent shareholder.

But Peter wasn’t happy. He found it increasingly hard to get and keep good people, projects costs began blowing out, making profits hard to get, and demanding twelve to sixteen hours a day of his time, often on weekends. He was burning out and getting angry. Can you relate to that?

He had the manpower, the shareholder funding and project cash flow, he had all the equipment he needed and the market was growing. But he had no sense of joy in his work; he was constantly worrying about the quality of work and overall productivity; he worried about equipment maintenance and overall operational efficiency. He had this great business opportunity, by all accounts growing, but he was stressed and felt very insecure.

Then he read an article in the BRW magazine about a local electrical company that had grown from start-up to having trebled profits in three years, won their industry award for three years in a row and had a list of qualified people seeking to join the business. The article described how that had happened and how happy the staff and owners were.

Peter decided to follow a similar path. Six years later Peter successfully executed his exit plan after having built the business to revenue of $200 million per annum with a workforce of 400.

Peter is now happily retired and enjoying life; the electrical company has gone on to be a prominent national group developing overseas opportunities.

They are both still my clients and my friends.

Peter achieved his results by ensuring three key ingredients were embedded in the business.

  • ATTITUDINAL COMPETENCE: the ability to adopt the best attitude for what has happened, is happening or might happen; and not be stuck with habitual attitudes.

    This learnable skill, if taught to all those in the business, enables people to deal with the two biggest risks that enable success: Decision-making and changing.

    Making the best decisions depends heavily upon your attitude in that moment doesn’t it?

    Yes, having the right information and having direction is also very important. But actually making the decision about what to do next is critical isn’t it? In that moment you must have the right attitude or your decision may be of lesser value. Do you agree?

    Having made a decision you must then enact the changes that align with that decision. We all know how difficult change can be in a business. We also know through long experience that one’s attitude towards the change will make it work or not. Do you agree?

    In fact the skill of decision making and then changing in alignment with that decision relies on attitudinal competence, which by the way embraces emotional intelligence.

    Just think for a moment on how important attitude really is.

    There are only three troubles we humans face and they are the cause of everything that goes wrong with us. Every single error, mistake or wrong decision, wrong action or misbehaviour is caused by these three issues – does anyone know what they are?

    FEAR, HABITS AND IGNORANCE – and the best antidote for them is Attitudinal Competence – that’s how important it is.

    With Attitudinal Competence we harness our courage, the courage to face our fears, to have flexibility of mindset to replace limiting habits with habits that work for us, and to experiment and learn quickly to overcome ignorance.

    Imagine how it would be if your whole workforce has the skill of attitudinal competence. You’d be surprised how easy it is to achieve.

  • AN APPROPRIATELY ENGAGED LEADERSHIP: too many leaders in all sectors of government and commerce are actually disengaged. They are busy stuck in front of a computer or in endless meetings that produce little results, or doing things that don’t really add value to the business.

    On the other hand, particularly in smaller businesses, the leaders are too hands-on. They don’t delegate well, they are stuck in the frontline and can’t develop the bigger picture and end up holding the business back.

    In both cases we end up with disengaged employees. In the first case employees feel neglected and under-valued. In the second case employees feel micro-managed and follow the model presented by the leader, for better or worse.

    Becoming an appropriately engaged leader is not rocket science, but it does mean developing new habits and some new skills. And they too are surprisingly easy to obtain.

    An appropriately engaged leadership is the best way to gain the third ingredient that really matters.

  • A FULLY ENGAGED WORKFORCE: A fully engaged workforce is a workforce emotionally committed to the business. When a workforce has that mind set, they can become sustainable high performers; they can adapt to change more willingly; they can innovate and produce more effectively. To get and keep a fully engaged workforce requires properly engaged leaders ensuring that the factors described by the Herzberg Dual Theory are in place.

We know that sustainable growth and profitability is the holy grail of any commercial business.

The pathway to that is through attitudinal competence, appropriate leadership engagement, and workforce engagement.

Together they give us performance; innovation; productivity and customer experience – and directly cause our sustainable growth and profitability.

It all begins with Attitudinal Competence; Appropriately Engaged Leadership and a Fully Engaged Workforce.

You can also measure, track and enhance the state and progress of these three critical ingredients. Easily, Efficiently and Economically.

What steps will you take to ensure these ingredients are present and being measured in your business?

(first given as a presentation by David Deane-Spread to the Subiaco Business Association on 12th February 2014)

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