Are you currently a member of a board of directors, or do you hope one day to take the role as a board member?

I came across this short video from the Irish Institute of Directors sharing 10 common mistakes made by company directors. George Bartlett shares from his 25 years of experience as a board member.

George Bartlett, over 25 years experience as a Corporate Director

The top 10 Errors of Corporate Directors

  1. Acting solely in the interests of shareholders, not in the interests of the company as a whole
  2. Lack of independent judgement – falling into Groupthink – Not having strength in your own convictions, not willing to be a minority of one.
  3. Not seeing the risks facing the business
  4. Failing to stand up to dominant or highly influential board members. As a board members you have “joint and several liability” you are both jointly and individually responsible for all board decision making. If you see risks, bring up those risks.
  5. Making promises you can’t keep – not maintaining integrity in all you do and say
  6. Not empowering employees – forgetting the power of a few encouraging words from you to any individual employee
  7. Not Challenging – challenge everything – assumptions, thinking process, risk analysis… and even your own strong opinions and assumptions. (Video: how to give feedback that is both authentic and respectful of the other)
  8. Losing sight of the big picture – micromanaging details. As most board members spend much of their career in executive roles, it can be hard to let go of details.
  9. Not being a Custodian of the corporate standards – quality of governance, quality of service, quality of discussion, quality of recruitment, quality of people development…
  10. Not Listening – to all voices with a role in the company’s future. (to listen well, you need to learn to ask great questions)

Are you currently a board member? What lessons have you learnt? What tips and guidance would you share with someone who has interest in becoming an effective board member?

More Corporate Governance tips from George

George Bartlett shares some corporate governance tips.

Digital affects every area of my life, yet I am often an idiot when it comes to online security.

Hacking is not just something just for the US Government and large banks to worry about. Lots of companies and people have been hacked in 2018 with large data breaches or shutdown of their services.

A question we must all address is our preference for either A) security or B) ease of access. Most increases in security have an impact in your personal ease of access. For some lesser important services, ease will be most important. For your critical digital services (email, banking, credit cards) security might take the upper hand. For social media profiles some balance between security and ease is probably right.

I have 2 requests of you to make your (online) life more secure:

#1 Use Two Factor Authentication

The most important step for you as an individual is to set up Two Factor Authentication (2FA) for your email. 2FA is a security process in which you provide use 2 devices to verify your identity. In my case, I use my iphone as the second factor. Everywhere that gives you an option of 2FA… I’d switch it on.

#2 Use a Password Manager

…and create different passwords for every site that you use. I use Lastpass. It runs on my laptop, my ipads and my iphone. It will run on most devices.

The Basics of Cybersecurity

I don’t intend to write a full post on personal cybersecurity. Here is a basic introduction from the US Government: How do I protect myself from Cyberattacks?

Setting up 2FA on my Most Used Services

  1. Gmail email.
  2. Google account.
  3. Dropbox.
  4. Evernote.
  5. Twitter.
  6. Facebook.
  7. LastPass: Open LastPass on the web, click Settings > Multifactor Options

A Full Guide to Personal Cybersecurity

Here’s a much better In-Depth Guide to Personal Cybersecurity from Nick Rosener. I used it as a source for some of the ideas here, and also to do a fairly extensive audit of my current cybersecurity risks. Thanks to Nick for putting this guide together.

Did Netflix kill Blockbuster?

or did Blockbuster forget about customers?

Did Amazon kill Sears?

or did Sears forget about customers?

One of my early business mentors told me “you have to be half the price or triple the value for someone to switch from their current provider”.  People don’t switch from Sears to Amazon for a couple of pennies… the new had to be much better than the old.

If you were competing with yourself, or competing with your business – how would you attack?  Where is that weakness?  Fix that.  Don’t wait for the customers to discover that someone else does it for half the price or triple the value…  because it will be very hard to get them back.

If you liked this post you will also like 12 Questions for Any Business and 6 Keys to Leading Positive Change in Organisations.

Nothing brings more opportunity into your life than speaking well in public.

I have been teaching for 16 years on many leadership programs at IESE Business School. Today I’m sharing a playlist of a series of videos that we put together as an introduction for participants of future courses.

There are 10 videos in the full playlist with a total duration of about 60 minutes.

There are 4 steps to speaking with impact:

  1. Have something to say
  2. Say it well
  3. Say it with Intensity
  4. Connect with the people in the audience

Here’s the link to the Leadership Communications video playlist

 

“Progress is impossible without change. Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything” 

George Bernhard Shaw

If you can’t change your mind, then you’re not using it.

Adaptability is important.

If you don’t change and update your world view based on new information and new perspectives, you are dangerous.

If you tend to fight to be “right”, you are dangerous… mostly to yourself and your future.

How to open up to change?  Ask great questions: Read How to ask great questions? and 15 Great questions to ask your kids

If you are to build a great business, you need to know how to hire great people.  There are 3 things you want to see in a person to know that they will make a lasting positive impact on the organisation.

  1. Can they do the job today
  2. Will they do the job long term
  3. Do they fit with the team

What do you look for in people when you are deciding whether to make an offer?  What red flags have you identified?

In his TED talk, Stephen Duneier explains that what defines him are not titles, but an approach to decision making that transformed him from someone who struggled with simple tasks to a guy who is continuously achieving even his most ambitious dreams.

For thirty years, he has applied cognitive science to investing, business and life. The result has been the turnaround of numerous institutional businesses, career best returns for managers who have adopted his methods, the development of a $1.25 billion dollar hedge fund and a rapidly shrinking bucket list.

“Every one of my report cards basically said the same thing: Steven is a very bright young boy, if only he would just settle down and focus.”

“What they didn’t realize was I wanted that even more than they wanted it for me, I just couldn’t. And so, from kindergarten straight through the 2nd year of college, I was a really consistent C, C- student. But then going into my junior year, I’d had enough. I thought I want to make a change. I’m going to make a marginal adjustment, and I’m going to stop being a spectator of my decision-making and start becoming an active participant.”

“And so, that year, instead of pretending, again, that I would suddenly be able to settle down and focus on things for more than five or ten minutes at a time, I decided to assume I wouldn’t. And so, if I wanted to achieve the type of outcome that I desire – doing well in school – I was going to actually have to change my approach. And so I made a marginal adjustment. If I would get an assignment, let’s say, read five chapters in a book, I wouldn’t think of it as five chapters, I wouldn’t even think of it as one chapter. I would break it down into these tasks that I could achieve, that would require me to focus for just five or ten minutes at a time. So, maybe three or four paragraphs. That’s it.”

“I would do that and when I was done with those five or ten minutes, I would get up. I’d go shoot some hoops, do a little drawing, maybe play video games for a few minutes, and then I come back. Not necessarily to the same assignment, not even necessarily to the same subject, but just to another task that required just five to ten minutes of my attention. From that point forward, all the way through to graduation, I was a straight-A student, Dean’s List, President’s Honor Roll, every semester.”

“I then went on to one of the top graduate programs in the world for finance and economics. Same approach, same results. So then, I graduate. I start my career and I’m thinking, this worked really well for me. You know, you take these big concepts, these complex ideas, these big assignments, you break them down too much more manageable tasks, and then along the way, you make a marginal improvement to the process that ups the odds of success in your favor. I’m going to try and do this in my career. So I did. I started out as an exotic derivatives trader for credit Swiss. It then led me to be global head of currency option trading for Bank of America”

Mr. Duneier teaches graduate courses on Decision Analysis in UCSB’s College of Engineering. His book, AlphaBrain is due for release in early 2017 from Wiley & Sons. Through Bija Advisors, he helps business leaders improve performance by applying proven, proprietary decision-making methods to their own processes. His artwork has been featured around the world and is represented by the Sullivan Goss Gallery. As Commissioner of the League of Professional Educators, Duneier is using cognitive science to alter the landscape of American education. He is the former Head of Currency Option Trading at Bank of America and Emerging Markets at AIG International.

For more on achieving goals, check out 6 Reasons we Give Up on Goals and Finding Purpose and Defining a Vision for your Life.

The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain.  As it tires, your brain looks for shortcuts.  The 2 most common decision avoidance tactics are:

  • to act impulsively (without seeing the consequences of the decision)
  • to procrastinate (do nothing)

Taking decisions takes willpower.  Willpower is a form of mental energy that can be exhausted. It is like a muscle that gets fatigued with use.

There are a limited number of good decisions that one can take in a day.  You might be a more effective decision maker than those around you, but you will still have a finite limit on the number of good decisions you can take in a day.

Decision Fatigue for Leaders

How do you Ration your decision making?

In the toughest days of my life as a CEO – dealing with the fallout from the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the collapse in bank lending at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, I hit my limits of decision fatigue.  In order to get through the weeks and have energy to deal with the things that would allow us as a business to get through these tough times, I rationed my decision making.

The first step was to specify when and where I would take decisions.  (Initially… when: on a Friday; where: only in my office).  Previously my team would approach me at any time in the day, over coffee, over lunch, via email, via sms to request budget for small projects or permission to do some new activity.  I felt responsable as leader for providing an immediate answer.  It was killing me and leaving me with no energy to dedicate to building our future once we survived the immediate crisis.

“That’s great, bring it on Friday…”

I decided that I would take all budget decisions on a Friday between 9-12.  If someone came to me with a request, I learnt to say “that’s great, bring it on Friday and we can take a decision”.  It was hard at first, people were frustrated and angry and didn’t like my lack of willingness to engage at the time and place that they wanted.  Over the following months, the people around me learnt to plan ahead and bring the information necessary to take a good decision on the Friday before they needed the decision.

It gave me peace at lunchtimes, in the break area, even in my office when someone opened the door on a Tuesday.   It was a challenge to remove my sense of responsibility to decide at all moments.  I learnt to be able to have a conversation where I could contribute ideas, but allow it to be clear that no final decision would be taken during this discussion.

When One decision is not really One decision…

My wife realised that one of her struggles with going to the gym is that it was never just one single decision.  Each trip to the gym was a series of decisions: do I change at home or at the gym? do I shower at the gym or at home?  will I eat there or not?  which t-shirt will I bring? which trainers will I use today? which bag will I use?  As the idea of gym came up, her brain knew that it would be exhausted by the series of 20 decisions.  Her solution?  She wrote down all the questions that she used to ask herself and wrote the answers.  She make going to the gym become one simple decision, with a written template of pre-decided answers (shower=yes, trainers=blue, eat=there…)

In Vistage one of the first processes of change that we see in a new CEO member, is a greater awareness of which decisions they should be taking and which decisions they should not be taking.

Are you taking €10,000 decisions, €100 decisions or €1 decisions?  

If you are taking the €1 decisions, your brain’s decision willpower will be depleted before lunchtime.

If you are taking the €1 decisions, your €10,000 decisions will not be receiving the analysis and impact that they deserve.

Jack Welch spoke about the size of decisions that he allowed himself to be taking.  GE is a multi-billion business.  As leader Jack allowed himself to only be taking decisions that could affect at least $50M of the market capitalisation.  

Steve Jobs is famous for having a wardrobe full of identical blue jeans and black t-shirts.  It was not a fashion decision, it was a conservation of decision willpower for the important decisions of Apple.  Barrack Obama speaks about a similar challenge as President of the USA.  He set up a structure around him that ensured that he would take no more than 5 important leadership decisions in a day.

The Structure of Leadership Decision Making

The Vistage Decision Model captures 60 years of experience of working with CEOs as they take operational and strategic decisions to lead their companies and their lives.  There are 3 levels of Decision “skill” – Instinct, Judgement and Perspectives.  There are 5 areas of leadership decision: Talent, Operations, Financials, Customers and Leadership Style.

The Vistage Decision Model

Learn More about the Vistage Decision Model

Jeff Bezos of Amazon has a very clear view on how to dedicate his time as a leader of his business:

  • Time working on the Future
  • Time working in the Present

How does Jeff allocate his time?

50/50?  80/20?  90/10?…

What do you think is the allocation of time that Jeff aims for himself?  What is the allocation of time in your life as a leader?  Watch the video for Jeff’s answer.

(If you want to skip all the introduction and go straight to Jeff’s answer, go to 3:05 in the video or click Jeff Bezos’ ideal allocation of CEO time)

If you liked this idea from Jeff Bezos, check out Amazon: Why Jeff Bezos banned Powerpoint and Jeff Bezos on High Standards (and why you don’t achieve your goals).

“Sincerity is not a test of truth; only truth is a test of truth” Jim Rohn

This video is about Trust and 3 things to look for in another person in order to determine if they are worthy of your trust.

The three things to look for:

  • Self Aware: They recognise their own failings
  • Feedback: They tell you things you don’t want to hear
  • Trust: They are quick to support you in your plans & projects

Based on a video from Pep Mari (in spanish): ¿de quién puedes fiarte?

If you liked this post, you will also like The Trust Equation and How to build trust, improve relationships and enhance the quality of your life (video).