Leading Insights. Stuart Says…

…part of the Diamond Dozen series

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Stuart Gilbert, Secure Logiq talks about

business  .  resilience  .  communication

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Elaine… You are a successful global business developer with extensive sales experience.  What advice would you give to a technical professional who wishes to move into a more commercial leadership role?

Stuart…  Firstly, understand that this is not a move to “The Dark Side”.  You are not giving up your integrity by moving to a commercial lead rather than a technical lead!

It is clearly a different business perspective and one where, hopefully, you will see why there may have been frustrations expressed by sales guys in Opportunity Reviews.  They completely get that there is a technical solution, they don’t get why it has to cost so much or take so long; and you will understand why the sales guys were such arses in those reviews asking you for quick and easy solutions when clearly there was a better technical solution if only they would wait.  Here is your opportunity to bring your experience to bear, but understand that sometimes if the customer is driving the price then close enough is good enough – and that is a tough thing for an engineer to hear.

Your ability to plan, stick to a plan, if needed, or adapt a plan as required are key skills in leadership, but remember the customer has an annoying habit of changing his / her mind (and expecting you to read it!) and that does make for hard commercial decisions that always have a knock on effect technically.

That said – be prepared to hold your ground; if your technical team are telling you that cutting corners or costs will ultimately lead to failure back them up, especially in front of the customer, and show why you can be trusted to provide solid solutions.

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Elaine…  Although it’s several years since you left the military, what leadership lessons did you learn during your time in the British Army that have helped you to be successful in business?

Stuart…

  • Be Fluid – Flexible is too Rigid!
  • Calm Down – no-one died!
  • If Plan A fails – there are another 25 letters in the alphabet
  • The only easy day was yesterday

I know these come off as a little Gung Ho! but the biggest thing I learnt from the military is to plan, communicate the plan, accept the plan will change, but stay focussed on the end objective.  If you have a great plan make sure everyone knows it; communication is key.  There will be casualties along the way so make sure your team is multi-skilled and capable of picking up the slack.  The plan will change.  Ensure everyone knows it has changed as there’s nothing worse than someone wasting time on yesterday’s plan.  Acknowledge success and failure in equal measure and learn from both.

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Elaine…  We have known each other for many years and I know you are a chap that is not easily fazed, what are your 3 top tips for handling adversity or when the best laid plans go pear-shaped?

Stuart… 

1.  Be Prepared:  You know it is going to happen at some point; has it happened before? (Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst)

2.  Ask for help:   Too often when things go wrong the temptation is to tell no-one and hope to god no-one notices.  Pretty much every time that plan will fail you, publicly.  Admit you have an issue, as early in the process as possible, as history has shown if you admit the problem early it is rarely as dramatic as you think it is, and someone out there will have the solution – Ask!

3.  Be Calm:  Flapping your arms and shouting rarely gets the job done, and especially not when it is all crashing around your ears.  If you, as a leader, are calm then your team will remain calm and this will help everyone get to a solution.  Plus if you are calm in front of your customer when it is all going wrong they will believe that you have a solution – whether it is true or not at that moment in time is irrelevant – stay calm.

 

Diamond_DozenLearn more about my Diamond Dozen…

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