In business effective communication is vital. Getting the desired results from your people will increase sales and drive up profits. Recently I heard Helen Treloar of Forward Momentum Coaching speaking about this. I wanted to chat with her and find out how coaching can help the Executive who is seeking to improve leadership skills.
Could you please tell me a little about your background?
As a CEO I was employed to drive sales, increase profit, evolve culture, develop product, and increase market share for the shareholders. The science of how to do this became my passion. I recall making many mistakes along the way. My belief that profit was built from product changed to become ‘people create profit’.
In my early CEO days I used to believe you needed the best product or something very different or unique or that you needed to be innovative and first to market to be successful. We (business owners) are told this all of the time. Go home if you aren’t the first, the best or different. I disagree with this. I believe that if you unite a group of people under one very clear vision to solve a specific problem for a specific group of people, then you can have success and there is room for a number of success stories in any niche.
Success often comes in a very crowded market because you become a voice that is so clear and relevant to a certain group, you stand out. You may not be the biggest or fastest or most unique, but you are consistent and clearly understood. You know what you are and more importantly you know what you are not. It’s as if all the other suppliers / retailers in your space become white noise. They are all busy looking at what each other is doing whilst you stand out with a clear message “this is who we are, this is what we stand for, this is our solution for your problem, this is how we will consistently deliver this solution or service to you, and this is what we are known for. You can rely on us.”
I believe this is really who you need to be in the market, and that people drive this more than product. You can have the best product in the world and still not be successful. It’s about the people. This is the joy of retail. You have products that are the same or similar to other retailers; how then can you sell more, consistently?
When I felt I had the technical aspects of leadership going well I sought the next level of leadership development and trained to become a coach. I studied for 2 years and became a Master Practitioner of NLP (the science of excellence) and an accredited life / business / executive coach. At the end of my coach training, I found that my real passion was sharing that knowledge with other business people rather than utilizing it in one business alone. The company I lead at that time was the leader in its field (and remains so today). We had a very established workforce and the culture was so strong that the only way people changed in the business was as we grew. The middle management tier was extremely strong and empowered to ‘do the do’ every day. I was lacking real personal and professional challenge and growth. So I decided to back myself and go out on my own and become an executive coach. Five years later I am a successful executive / business coach. I work with high-end executives to junior executives and SMEs and start-ups. It’s my passion and my joy, to empower others to succeed in business.
Could you please tell us about some of the services you provide for executives and businesses?
The executives I work with tend to fit into one of three categories generally speaking.
The first category is those who are seeking leadership artistry. What I mean by this is that the executives in this space have the technical aspects of their leadership under control. They also have the back-up systems to support them (KPIs, reporting mechanisms, and appraisals etc). It’s all working, and now they want to take their leadership style and outcomes to a whole new level.
The second category would be those executives referred to me by their superiors. The superior see’s more potential or a specific area of performance that can be evolved or polished, for example communication skills or people management.
The third category would be the executive who is somewhat disillusioned and looking for answers. They know what they are good at and what they are not, they have a successful career and solid income. It doesn’t fulfill them enough or they feel trapped by their own success.
For all executives I deliver a mix of behavioral science training, business coaching and personal coaching. No matter how aware of self we are; to push beyond the current limits of our thinking requires a coach. Our neurology just isn’t wired to push through alone and we don’t know what we don’t know. My style is frank, engaging, challenging, humorous and supportive. My mantra is ‘get in, get busy, get going.’
The businesses I work with are usually less than 100 employees. They are either SME’s who are seeking greater market share, higher ROI or a stronger culture with higher quality leadership; or start-ups who want and need an independent third party business coach / mentor who knows business, knows people and knows behaviour and how to positively influence all three. Often it will be owners struggling to move out of the day to day operations of their business and let go to enjoy the lifestyle they started the business for.
All coaching starts with ‘discovery’. This is where we go behind the curtain and map out the now versus the ideal. Client’s commonly report that this early stage of the relationship gives them enlightenment and empowerment and there’s a lot of “aha’s” throughout the discussion. To seek understanding (through discovery) of the current situation can open a client’s awareness to a whole new level.
The service inclusions will be specific to the needs of the client and can be one or all of the following: leadership, systems, communication, training, planning, human behaviour, learning strategies, teams, culture and so much more.
We have read in the Zappos story about the importance of culture. How can the right values and a clear vision for the company help to increase sales in a challenging retail environment?
Let’s start with the most important point which I believe is the vision. I’ll share this metaphor: to set off on a road trip to Darwin with no knowledge of the roads, no map, and no compass would make the trip extremely long and really arduous. It may be the case that you fail to reach Darwin. This metaphor is a business / retailer without a clear vision. Being clear on a specific outcome that the business or the team within the business / retail space is driving for, creates the specific road map. Sure there’s going to be diversions and speed humps along the way, however, everyone is in the same vehicle driving to the same destination; and even more important than that, they will know specifically when they have arrived at the destination.
Under a clear vision the leadership team can then link and streamline the sales and marketing messages, the client profiles, the service streams and support devices. All development conversations are aligned to a specific set of outcomes (the vision).
When clear on the outcome for the team or what the team within the business is driving for with that roadmap, a business should then look at the values they will employ to get there.
I commonly find that when a business talks about values, they use words like honesty and integrity. To me there’s a whole new level of values that needs to be discussed. The values of honesty and integrity in great organisations and successful businesses are the human values of the leaders and the owners. They don’t need to have these values written on walls and plastered around in posters. Every day THEY ARE BEING these values. They live and breathe them consistently. They therefore attract people towards the organisation as suppliers, employees, or contractors who have the same shared human values. That’s how values work, they are people magnets. These values don’t necessarily guarantee success. In my opinion you can have a hopeless businessman that is extremely honest and has great integrity.
The values to align your employees with, that drive success, need to be set by the leaders and clearly articulated and measured in the workplace. Does your organisation value innovation and creativity? Do you value challenging the status quo? Do you value high productivity and efficiency?
If you value innovation, do you therefore invest time, money and resources in product development? If an organisation’s leader is talking innovation, then driving cost cutting and speed of delivery to market, there could be a value’s mismatch that creates confusion and frustration for the workers. This can result in staff turnover, low morale and mixed marketing messages. All of this leads to dropping sales and profit.
I like to teach people “how,” rather than be the business or executive coach that is with you forever. I like to work on two levels all the time: the level that you need to get the outcome you want, and then the educator. I like to teach people how to do what I’ve done for them. They can then do it for themselves rather than running back to the coach every time they hit a brick wall. I teach the questions they can ask themselves and the formulas of success they can employ and adopt as they move forward.
The core values of people don’t change usually. The values you drive and measure your performance by should depend upon the outcome that you are driving for. Knowing when to change it up is important, and then how to change it up and retain the culture is what I love to coach.
In the ever-changing retail environment, the retailer who remains flexible to adapt to the needs of the buyer, by adopting the values that will best match the ideal clients needs, whilst remaining consistent in core values, will thrive. Apple is a leader in this field; they value innovation (business value) and client satisfaction (core value). Their products are designed to be easy to use whilst breaking new ground in technology.
Come back and hang out with us as we continue our chat with Helen. Learn how effective leadership affects the performance of the team and so much more…
To engage Helen Treloar’s services from Forward Momentum Coaching go to http://forwardmomentum.com.au.
Written by Penny Votzourakis