Leadership part 2: what it takes to win

Dom and I set aside two Tuesday mornings each month to focus on the big picture, and our game plan. It’s easy to get bogged down in the detail, so we make a conscious effort to continue to refine our offering, develop our team and adapt to trends. We set goals and KPIs, and we also remind each other about how much we have already achieved.

This approach has stemmed from what I’ve learnt as part of the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Accelerator Programme, where I attend a quarterly learning day. Each time I savour 10 hours of no contact with the outside world, engaging conversation and tools to help me apply my mind to our business strategy.

My top strength is ideation, so as you can imagine, I walk away with dozens of ideas and opportunities to explore. Finding the time and head space to distil them down to a few key points is always the challenge! It’s not always possible to set aside big chunks of time for strategy, but even a few hours here and there is valuable. Understanding what it takes to win is at the top of my list for Q4. And I think it’ll be a work in progress for a while!

As a leader this is a constant juggling act – I have to balance my ambition and what I want to accomplish with an investment of time and energy in a company culture which will enable us to execute this strategy.

If I had to answer the question ‘what does it take to win’ right now, I’d say we need to have an engine room firing on all cylinders – from the productivity of our team to streamlined processes and creative input from our consultants. We have to stay on top of our SWT analysis (strengths, weaknesses and trends) and live our values .

But most importantly we need to slow down, celebrate the small wins and focus on the journey rather than the destination. This will enable us to inspire our clients and add real value to their businesses.

So, what does it take to win in your business? And what’s your game plan to get there?

Leadership part 1: what I’ve learnt so far

About 15 minutes in to the first episode I realised why I was hooked (and falling for the main character, which may come as less of a surprise) – it was actually all about leadership. About leading by example, inspiring people and asking one simple question: ‘how can I help?’

The script writer has created a character that I aspire to be like every day. So in this blog post series I plan to reflect on my own leadership journey, what I’ve learnt so far and the impact this has had on Yellow Door. I’ll also explain why developing my leadership style is something I look forward to working on in every chapter of our business, and how I go about this.

But let’s start at the beginning. Soon after we established Yellow Door in 2014, I began to understand the distinction between being a manager and being a leader, and why both are essential in any business.

Dom and I quickly learnt to wear multiple hats , and how important it is to play to our individual strengths. As the team grew, we also realised that she is a far more patient and hands-on manager than I could ever be! In fact, her top five strengths couldn’t be more relevant: relator, communication, positivity, includer and woo (read more about each one here ). So we developed a structure where I support her in this management role, and am happy to step in when needed, but it’s not a primary focus.

When it comes to leadership, we work best as a team. Despite having different leadership styles, our values are aligned, and we make time to connect and ensure we are on the same page every week.

At a stage when I was feeling pretty over my role and questioning whether all the stress and hard work is really worth it (yes, we have those days too!) I booked a one-on-one session with our happiness coach Tammy Godsall . She did a few exercises with me to really pinpoint my purpose, pushing me to identify one word that sums up why I do what I do. And that word was to INSPIRE.

A day when I inspire a team member, a partner or a client energises me and gives me a sense of satisfaction that is hard to beat – even if it’s after a focused four-hour strategy workshop and I’m ready to fall in a heap!

So much of life is about working together towards a common goal, and at Yellow Door our mission is to add value to the brands we work with and to develop the people we work with, even if they are only here for a season or two. But that’s enough rambling for one post… I will leave you with a quote by Madiba, one that isn’t always an easy pill to swallow, but certainly a sign of a true leader:

“There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.” – Nelson Mandela