Role delegation

The Important Role Delegation Plays in Business Success

By Gary Das, Founder and Director of Active Success

Five years ago, I was trapped in a mindset that many business owners find familiar: “No one can do it as good as me.”

I struggled with delegation, often confusing it with abdication. I failed to empower my team, and often resorted to reprimands rather than rewards. The truth is I am far from isolated in this experience. In fact, data from London Business School has revealed that just 30% of business leaders can delegate affectively, as affirmed by their workforce.

Those who delegate are not only able to rid themselves of a never ending ‘to do’ list but are also able to focus on the bigger picture of their business – driving future strategy, direction, and growth as a result.

However, the main challenge is not only shifting their internal narrative around the importance of delegation, but also taking the practical steps to achieve this on a consistent basis for maximum impact and results.

Why Delegation is a Game-Changer for Leaders

Amongst the successful business owners I work with, mentor and speak to, I hear a common theme – none of them are the smartest in their team, but they are all phenomenal at one thing: delegation.

Leaders that delegate well not only have an average 33% increase in revenue, but also a significantly lower employee turnover as their team members are made to feel empowered and valued through individual responsibility.

It’s a hugely challenging skill, but indispensable for business growth and can be achieved through one of the following top three delegation frameworks:

The 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule or the ‘Pareto Principle’ requires you to identify the 20% of your tasks that produce the highest impact and ensure you make them your main priority.

The rule was developed by Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto in 1896, who found that 80% of the land was owned by just 20% of the population, igniting his theory on power law distribution between two quantities, in which a change in one quantity results in a relevant change into the other.

In order to achieve the mighty 80/20 split in your workload, regularly review your calendar to focus on your ‘superpowers’ while empowering the rest of your team with 80% of the tasks you can and should delegate.

The 70/20/10 Model

The 70/20/10 Model is used in a multitude of ways, but when applied to leadership and professional development reinforces that we as individuals learn most effectively through challenging assignments and on-the-job experiences, with the split divided as follows:

  • 70% through challenging assignments and on-the-job experiences.
  • 20% through coaching and mentoring.
  • 10% through formal education and training.

This shows the majority of learning comes from doing and often failing or getting it wrong, so not only should leaders feel confident in delegating tasks to their teams as this will help drive and improve their performance – but the model will also improve their own performance through the act of delegating and increased focus on higher value tasks.

Eisenhower Matrix:

The Eisenhower Matrix enables individuals to categorise tasks that they should complete themselves, delegate or eliminate. I prefer to use my own adapted version of ‘do, diarise, delegate, or delete’, but the original version is listed as follows:

  • Urgent and Important: Tackle these yourself.
  • Important but Not Urgent: Schedule or delegate.
  • Urgent but Not Important: Delegate if possible.
  • Neither Urgent nor Important: Eliminate or delegate.

Not only does this help business leaders in understanding what tasks are the most important, but it also helps in effectively managing your team’s workload while driving the future growth and progression of the business.

Empower Your Team, Scale Your Business

Ultimately, improving the way you delegate is not just about offloading tasks, it’s about empowering your team, optimising productivity, and scaling your business to the next level.

There are only two things that will drive scalable business growth, being:

  1. More Leads.
  2. More Team.

To achieve this and to make the transition from a doer to a true leader and delegator, you need to master the art of delegation and unlock your full potential, together with that of your team and your business.

New Person

First-Time Managers: How to Develop the Skills You Need

Managing a team can be an exciting experience but it can also pose challenges, particularly for first time managers and those transitioning from a team member to a leader.

Statistically, managers promoted from within are more likely to be respected by their former teammates compared to an external hire – but there are still challenges ahead for those chosen to lead a team they were once a part of.

A manager requires a new set of skills and qualities, so how best to develop these and introduce them into your working day?

Here, the team at Impact, the world’s leading experiential learning company, offer their insights on leadership development for first-time managers.

Clarify What Your Responsibilities Are

When taking on a managerial role for the first time, it is crucial to gain a thorough understanding of what the role is and where your responsibilities lie.

In any aspect of running a business, knowing your responsibilities is key to successful performance. Think about how you would manage to run a project without knowing what you were expected to do – managing a team is no different.

It is important to establish your role as head of the team, as well as the responsibilities of the team members to allow efficient working and overall successful performance.

Speak to other managers, see how they manage their teams and don’t be afraid to ask for any advice along the way. Take on board feedback from peers, as well as team members. All of this can help you develop as a manager and grow into the role.

Communicate Effectively

Communication is a key part of any business, and as a manager you will need to communicate effectively throughout the team, and to the wider organisation. Part of the communication strategy as a manager involves listening as much, if not more than, as you talk.

A manager that shows the willingness to listen will find that employees are more likely to open up, and you may find that they are more likely to come to you with suggestions for the team, which could be beneficial for everyone.

Listening to employees and acting upon feedback will create an element of trust, as well as employees becoming more receptive to ideas that you communicate.

When communicating, especially a change of process or important information, it is important to make sure that staff find out from you as a manager and not second hand from someone else.

Where possible, try to gather staff and communicate any big announcements to all of the team, as information slipping out through office whispers can cause unrest and can make you lose respect as a boss.

Delegate Responsibility

A common mistake newly promoted managers make is still getting involved in the small, day-to-day tasks that they used to be responsible for. There are a couple of reasons this can happen, apart from just force of habit.

Managers can be keen to show that they are not afraid to get stuck into tasks, and that they are not above helping out at the level of the rest of the team – particularly of the team is short-staffed for one reason or another.

Alternatively, there is the chance that as a new manager, your old tasks are more familiar to you than the world of leadership and the things you are faced with there. While this can be appreciated, a manager working alongside team members is not a good idea.

When actioning tasks that should be undertaken by the team managerial responsibility can be neglected, resulting in negative consequences for the team and potentially the business.

There may be times where a manager must step in to help, in busy periods or where a staff shortage is causing severe problems, but these times should be kept to very much a rarity and a necessity, rather than a regular occurrence.

Set Boundaries

Related to the issue of delegation and being careful not to neglect managerial duties is the advice to set boundaries as a manager.

This is of particular relevance to those newly-promoted to managing from previously being part of the team – it can be easy for a new manager to become too friendly with staff, resulting in clouded judgement and an impact on overall performance.

While it is part of human nature to wish to be liked and popular, particularly if you were once part of the team, and it can be easy to put personal relationships before being a manager.

The nature of management means that employees may not always agree with your decisions, but as long as they are for the overall benefit of everyone, then you are doing the right thing.

Naturally, adding an element of friendship, especially approachability and making employees know you are a supportive boss, is fine – but do set boundaries and make sure your position is clear, that you are respected and that you don’t allow personal relationships to get in the way of the job you have to do.

Bad leader

The Red Flags of Poor Leadership We Must Learn From Following the Post Office & Other Scandals

By Thom Dennis, CEO of culture and leadership specialists, Serenity in Leadership

When something significant is going wrong, someone always knows the truth.  The Post Office scandal in the UK is the most topical example where many senior people knew what was going on but chose to collude while over 900 sub-postmasters were falsely prosecuted for theftfalse accounting and fraud.

When a Boeing 737 Max recently lost its plug door mid-air, this was on the back of two crashes involving 346 fatalities in the last six years. These crashes primarily occurred because an automated system known as MCAS, designed to prevent the plane from stalling, appeared to malfunction, and Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) worked together to manipulate the recertification of the aircraft. “The tragic crashes … exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial airplane manufacturers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General David P. Burns of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging … to cover up their deception.”

In 1954 the tobacco industry paid to publish the “Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers” in 448 U.S. newspapers. It was the first step in a concerted, half-century-long campaign to mislead Americans about the catastrophic effects of smoking and to avoid public policy that might damage sales. It stated that the public’s health was the industry’s concern above all others and promised a variety of good-faith changes. What followed were decades of deceit and actions that cost millions of lives.

Every human makes mistakes – we are fallible. But when businesses as a whole cultivate a toxic culture of cover-ups or fail to learn from their mistakes, the real responsibility always lies with the top; one function of leadership is the culture you create.  Can cover-ups and lying by Volkswagen officials who intentionally programmed around half a million diesel vehicles with defeat devices to provide false readings during emissions testing, be viewed as mistakes? We find there are numerous warning signs and red flags of poor leadership and a toxic culture when individuals fail to take responsibility for mistakes and terrible decisions and instead resort to concealment.

Not knowing is a guilty offence for leaders. The ostrich effect of not facing up to bad news or deliberately ignoring it means sticking our heads in the sand rather than asking questions, listening and choosing the path of integrity. It’s called Wilful Blindness.

Wilful blindness is dangerous. Why do we ignore the obvious?  Because it is so tempting to believe what you want to believe, and as Upton Sinclair, the American novelist said: “It’s very hard to get a man to believe if his job depends on not believing”. The BP Deep Water Horizon oil spill was made worse because on the rig they did not believe what the system was telling them, and the indicators were then misinterpreted. By contrast at the start of the Post Office Scandal, people blindly believed in the system, not common sense or the mounting evidence in front of them.

Stubborn immovability is a massive barrier to enabling any real change.  The mistakes of government and business delegations, as well as NGOs in the recent COP28, who are standing idly and knowingly by as we continue to comprehensively fail to protect the average global temperature increase below 1.5°C by the end of the century will be nothing short of catastrophic.  Neither goodwill nor good intentions will bring about the changes that are crucially needed via immediate action.

Having tunnel vision is harmful. I was once facilitating for the C-suite of a well-known organisation when one department head revealed that based on his research the chance of success of the project they were working on was zero per cent. Without hesitation, someone in the group ignored this intervention and carried on making their point. I had to stop the meeting and remind everyone of what they had just heard but were choosing to ignore because somehow it was being seen as an inconvenient diversion. 

A culture of fear. If the culture of the organisation makes you fear breaking the silence and getting in trouble and losing your job then it is very difficult tobe a whistleblower. So often they are considered a threat to the system. I am often asked what is the best response to an employee making a mistake.Don’t shoot the messenger. At the most basic level instead, thank them for coming forward, and ask them what needs to be done now and what can be learnt to prevent it from happening again. The moment you get into a punitive mindset you will prevent people from coming forward with the truth and this strangles the system.

Refusal to be open and transparent. In one company that I worked with, the CEO hid the truth of the situation from their investors and they lost about £900 million.  The investors weren’t innocent in this either because they knew things weren’t going well and appeared to choose to ignore the signals. In industries where safety is paramount such as oil and gas or nuclear, there is no rank when it comes to whistleblowing. They have found that the way to improve safety is to make it safe for people to speak up when they see something that is wrong or unsafe.  When you have systems that punish contraventions then what you tend to have is people hiding issues.  Without transparency, you can’t reduce the chance of things going wrong again.

Being institutionalised.  In organisations that are entirely made up of like-minded people there is a real potential for a head-nodding agreement which results in a group-think mentality, echo chambers where decisions are made without critical evaluation, blind spots, resistance to change and limited problem-solving all of which will affect the business’ growth, innovation and culture.

Burnout.  Overworking and information overload add to the problem because we are more likely to make mistakes. It then gets to a point when we are signed off and others have to pick up the pieces thereby adding to their workloads which breeds resentment.Burnout is avoidable andis a clear indicator of a poor culture.

Thom Dennis is a certified facilitator, change agent, leadership and CQ specialist, and professional speaker.

Leadership 2024

Top 10 Leadership Trends For 2024

For some, leadership has grown beyond building teams and ensuring ample profitability. Being able to hold your nerve was a necessary skill for 2023, in addition to the prioritisation of the much talked about skills of flexibility and nurturing the team’s good health. Thom Dennis, CEO at Serenity in Leadership reveals the top 10 leadership attributes and trends for 2024:-

  1. Courageous and Resilient In The Face Of Change. The last five years have comprised an unprecedented vortex of challenging times and change from Covid-19 to technological advancements like AI, war, social polarization, the cost-of-living crisis and the ever-increasing focus on corporate social responsibility. Making short-term decisions when there is much uncertainty is tempting. But rather than fearing the unknown or clinging to traditional processes and mindsets, good leaders will make strategic, bold decisions that align with the organisation’s long-term vision and purpose. The aim of being courageous in the face of change is to be a catalyst for growth; being resilient fosters that courage and inspires confidence in the face of uncertainty.

  2. Leading Through Uncertainty.  There are currently 32 theatres of war around the world, in no small part due to the parlous standards of leadership being modelled by those in positions of power. Short-termism, largely driven by commercial imperatives or personal agendas, is leaving key decisions forsaken, fear on the rise across organisations, and societies and stress increased, not least in the C-Suite. Fear is corrosive and fosters the opposite to what is needed, with the average age of companies continuing to fall. Leaders need to increase their attention on customers and other stakeholder relationships with a longer view directed by a statement of purpose and relinquishing a primary focus on shareholders. The steadier leaders are, the less fear will pervade, and the greater will be innovation and creativity.

  3. Tech Savvy.  The speed of change that you are experiencing now is the slowest it will ever be. The cracking pace of the emergence of AI is a global challenge as organisations try to strike a balance between using technology to all its advantages versus the potential cost to humanity. AI and technology acceleration will continue to dominate headlines. Will the advancements create extraordinary innovation, timesaving and growth?  Of course. Could there be a catastrophic cost to humanity? Maybe. The best leaders are concurrently planning the upskilling and reskilling of their existing teams whilst having a solid grasp of the issues, ethics and dangers. They are investing in the technology and tools that will enable them to collect, analyse and act upon data to inform strategic decisions and initiatives.

  4. Not Just Sustainable, But Responsible. Increasing recognition of the climate crisis, albeit not nearly fast enough, means 90% of executives say sustainability is important, but only 60% of companies incorporate sustainability in their strategy, and just 25% have sustainability in their business model.  Many will be working onambitious goals and targets but the demand for people with green skills is currently outstripping supply. As environmentalist, philanthropist and boss of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard pointed out years ago, the word “sustainability” is a misnomer in that no business is yet sustainable. Chouinard’s more realistic challenge was for Patagonia to become a responsible company.

  5. Self-Aware. Self-awareness is the cornerstone of effective leadership, it demonstrates emotional and cultural intelligence, mature decision making, and authenticity. Leaders who understand their strengths, weaknesses and stressors perform better and build complementary teams that are well-rounded and diverse. Leaders who model healthy stress management will also be attuned to the needs and concerns of their team members and will offer support and tackle any issues around culture, communication or engagement head-on.

  6. Valuing Vulnerability. When leaders are open about their challenges and flaws it creates a far more genuine and trusting environment. Being vulnerable fosters authenticity and promotes effective open and honest communication, allowing ideas to be shared more freely within the workplace. More than ever we need our leaders to be human, humane, and willing to show this.

  7. Relationship Builders. At the core of impactful leadership in 2024 lies the important skill of cultivating strong relationships and inclusion. The power to nurture flexible work conditions and interconnected relationships opens doors to seamless collaboration, unwavering trust, reduced conflict and heightened engagement and retention. Investing in uplifting team morale isn’t just a gesture, but a long-term investment with extensive benefits for businesses.

  8. Commitment To Delegation. Edelman’s 2022 Trust Barometer found that 29 percent of employees feel that their CEO does not trust them. Holding a leadership role means delegating and empowering other team members to do their jobs well and happily. The faster things change, the more leaders need to focus on what is most important, and so delegation becomes an increasingly important skill in resource management to build trust with a real focus on employee experience.

  9. Unwavering Transparency. Transparency isn’t just a buzzword; it is the foundation of trust and credibility. The Slack ‘Future Of Work’ Study found that 80% of employees crave insights into their organisation’s decision-making process. Transparency provides employees with the visibility of behind-the-scenes decision-making, revealing the rationale and decisions behind workplace actions. It gives them greater trust and helps them to understand the relevance of what they are being asked to do. Knowing the ‘Why’ is incredibly important.

  10. Conflict Resolvers. A Harris Poll report last month showed that more than two-thirds of American workers say they have dealt with a toxic boss and 31 per cent believe they currently work under one. Effective crisis management, conflict resolution, and handling instances of bullying and harassment must be taken seriously and done right. Around 20% of employees reported they experienced the most conflict at work with their supervisors and tellingly 12% said they also saw conflict frequently among leaders. An organisation needs creative conflict (as described in Patrick Lencioni’s “Five Dysfunctions of a Team”), so having a leader who deals with conflict positively rather than causing it is crucial.
Business Integrity

Ten Reasons Why Integrity Will Be Vital to a Business’s Success in 2024

Integrity goes far beyond having strong moral principles. We make better decisions when we stand by our values, are honest about our objectives and act with transparency. Having integrity means conquering challenges whilst understanding and taking into consideration the impact our decisions have on others and acting beyond our own personal gains. Thom Dennis, CEO at Serenity In Leadership, offers us ten reasons why, after a tumultuous last five years, integrity is all the more vital for success in 2024.

  1. Integrity Equals Responsibility. Being responsible, even when it’s difficult and being able to question the impact of our decisions, having high standards and possessing critical problem-solving thinking are traits of an attuned and accountable leader. AI is a good example. Good leaders of the future will stay on top of AI advancements while keeping a firm grip on what needs to be done to still value what it means to be human.

  2. Integrity Leads To Honesty. Trust is built on honesty, and both play a large role in having integrity. The Workforce Institute found 63% of employees and business leaders believe trust must be earned, so companies that consistently operate with honesty and transparency will be highly valued.  Trust has been an issue in 2023.  COP28 is a prime example where a conflict of interest was raised as a concern with news that hosts The United Arab Emirates planned to use meetings about the summit to pitch oil and gas deals to foreign governments.

  3. Integrity Means Choosing What Is Right, Even If It Isn’t Easy. Making a decision may mean doing what is right, even if it doesn’t come with gratitude or recognition. It could also be making a tough decision that may upset others but is still what needs to happen. Integrity goes hand in hand with resilience and strength of character, but in the case of bad news always comes with a compassionate delivery.

  4. Integrity Enables Us To Stand Up & Be Counted. Integrity reduces instances of people turning a blind eye or sitting on the fence. Being a passive bystander, for instance is not OK. This means injustices can be accounted for and resolved and a culture of support and openness is fostered. Respecting other’s values, time, and identity is a foundation of integrity and having this integrated into workplace culture can generate support and collaboration and put an end to conflict and unpleasant behaviour. The younger generations are showing themselves to be largely better at standing up and being counted. The rest of us need to learn from them.

  5. Integrity Fosters Accountability. Many of us are noticing bad habits creeping in such as not accepting responsibility for mistakes or letting things fall through the cracks which can create distrust and discontent. The Global Integrity Report found that 42% of respondents reported unethical behaviour being tolerated when coming from a senior employee or high performer. Taking accountability for actions and decisions reduces conflict and builds trust.

  6. Integrity Prioritises Equality & Equity. Giving everyone the space to express themselves respectfully, asking for collaboration of diverse ideas and points of view, and being equal and fair improves company outcomes, workplace satisfaction and the success of individuals.  When we walk in someone else’s shoes we can begin to understand the impact of our decisions. Many a CEO could do with trying the role and pay of a shopfloor worker.

  7. Integrity Is Dependability. Being dependable and having a reputation for being so, means return business and loyal staff.  Ensuring commitments are consistently honoured to a high standard, being someone you can count on and being trusted to do what is expected of you will go a long way in 2024.

  8. Integrity Shows You Are In Touch With Your Core Values (& Living Them). Integrity is aligned with a deep connection to core values, living by a moral code and remaining ethical and purposeful. Shortcuts and unethical practices can offer short-term gains, but they lead to long-term negative consequences and loss of trust.

  9. Integrity Increases Respect. Upholding a fundamental commitment to treating others with respect ensures different opinions are heard, encourages fairness, creates a better work culture and means that you too are more likely to be treated with respect.

  10. Integrity Develops Authenticity. Authenticity separates bad leaders from great ones.  Being true to who you are and what you stand for means congruence when looking in the mirror, speaking your truth to others and taking action, all the while being self-aware.
Happy people, laptop and meeting, marketing team and workflow

Can Leaders Admit Company Errors, But Also Keep Their Job?

  • Mistakes can harm an organisation but also the CEO’s job security, therefore many CEOs don’t admit errors when they happen
  • However, this risks leaders not learning from these errors, and the organisations not changing their practices too
  • New research from emlyon business school shows how leaders who collectivise errors are more likely to keep their jobs, as well as make amends for these errors too.

Leaders making mistakes can be costly not only to the organisation, but also to their own job security, which makes it difficult for them to admit when there’s been an error. However, new research from emlyon business school shows that there are some techniques CEOs can use to frame these mistakes, in order to ensure they keep their jobs, but also make changes in their organisation.

When there is this clear trade-off between admitting a mistake and potentially losing power and control in the organisation, it is important that CEOs use their language effectively to create a safe space for themselves in the organisation – but how can they do so?

This is the specific research question that Vincent Giolito, Professor of Strategy and Organisation, and Damon Golsorkhi, Professor of Strategic Management at emlyon business school, both looked into. To do so, the researchers conducted 21 in-depth interviews with CEOs and board chairs leading 900,000 people in large financial firms in Europe.

The researchers interviewed the CEOs and board chairs on strategic errors in the organisation, and how they were approached by senior management, as well as the dialect and narrative behind the communication of these errors to all stakeholders. Interestingly, the researchers found a number of key themes for framing these errors that CEOs used.

When discussing key errors with severe economic and/or reputational consequences for the firms and important strategy changes, many CEOs stated that there was a process in which communication follows. First the CEO will acknowledge and diagnose the error, then they will dramatize it to put it into context for stakeholders, and then they will showcase the solution and how they are capitalising on this error to make changes.

“Leaders make errors, they are human too. But, unfortunately an error at the top-level can be costly for both the organisation and them personally. Hence why many leaders often refuse to acknowledge they have made an error of judgement or a mistake publicly, as doing so risks their own position of power.”, says Vincent Giolito. “It is important that CEOs understand how to frame these issues, otherwise organisations will never move forward, and will simply keep replacing CEOs every time there’s an error”.

There still is, however, a lack of job security for many CEOs who do follow this path and admit these errors, hence why there are a number of tactics that CEOs used when communicating this path to their stakeholders, in order to keep them on their side.

Firstly, the researchers say that it is important to collectivise the issue, using terms like ‘we’, or ‘us’ when discussing the mistake and how to change to it, then there is less blame placed on one person – usually the CEO. Secondly, the researchers use the term, ‘temporalise’, which refers to CEOs showing that the error generates from the organisation not adapting or changing quick enough, and how there is a simple solution to solving the errors – adapting to today’s world quicker.

Thirdly, the researchers say that CEOS should generalise the issue, and showcase how all firms in the industry are making the same mistakes, it’s not a firm-level error, but one that many are facing too. And finally, CEOs should isolate the issue, and show that the error is an isolated incident and a rare one, not to happen again. 

“There are plenty of examples in both politics; where leaders refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing to keep their party in power, in sports; where managers do not admit errors to keep their job roles, or in business; where CEOs don’t own up to bad investments because of the risk of the sack.” Says Damon Golsorkhi. “However, in the grand scheme of things these leaders are likely causing more harm to the organisation, as a refusal to admit errors means there’s little to no attempt to learn from them. CEOs must learn how to balance both through good communication”.

The researchers say that this study can serve as an inspiration for top executives, on how to frame and proactively manage the errors in the organisation, acknowledging them but also learning from them in an effective way. The researchers state that organisations should develop a narrative approach for errors and failures in order to keep CEOs credibility, job security and power. 

Motivated Team

How to Keep Your Team Motivated in 2024

Managers and business owners have been told how to keep their employees motivated throughout the New Year after the festive break.

Business specialists at TelephoneSystems.Cloud have named five ways to keep teams stimulated and working hard throughout 2024.

Encouraging development amongst teams by offering incentives such as promotions and pay rises will remind employees of their value.

Managers should also allow for open and honest discussions to encourage others to speak about any changes or feedback they may have.

Another way to keep employees motivated is to implement new technologies and offer support in the form of training and industry tools to keep creativity flowing.

Juliet Moran, founder of TelephoneSystems.Cloud said: “After the festive break there might be a bit of a hurdle to face when it comes to getting your team motivated.

“It’s important to implement several strategies in the workplace to encourage motivation from the first day back and continue throughout the year..

“Offer active support and set annual objectives for teams to optimise workload once they’re back.

“Managers should also encourage honest feedback from their employees and actively implement any changes to acknowledge experiences from the past year that can be adapted.

“By investing in the latest industry technologies, employees will have the space and ability to embrace creativity whilst working to boost productivity.

“And by offering incentives such as promotions and pay rises to reward and recognise good work and valued employees, your team will feel appreciated and motivated to continue contributing the best they can.

“Here at, our staff get a bonus of 50% of the profits every year, showing our commitment to our team and how hard they work.”

Here’s how to motivate your employees in the New Year:

1. Invite honest feedback

Sit down with your team and invite an open and honest discussion about any changes that could be made in the new year, based on experiences from last year. Create a welcoming and casual environment to encourage employees to speak freely about any feedback and new changes they would like to suggest. Take on board these observations and consider implementing them into the workplace.

2. Encourage development

Remind your employees of their value and how their efforts throughout the past year have helped to shape the company. Actively rewarding hard work with promotions and pay rises will help keep your teams motivated throughout the year and encourage them to continue contributing to the bigger picture.

3. Offer active support and resources

After the festive break, it’s important not to set expectations too high for the first few days back. Offer up active support and productive resources such as additional training and industry tools to help others get up to speed.

4. Set annual objectives

Set clear objectives for the upcoming year so employees can optimise their workload throughout each quarter and understand priorities. Setting these expectations and goals will help your team settle back into work in a productive manner whilst staying focused.

5. Implement new technologies

Consider introducing some of the latest technologies into the office to foster an efficient workspace and encourage employees to feel engaged. Bringing in innovation can boost team creativity and motivate them to excel.

business girl heads a colossal corporate company alongside the executive chief

Female CEOs Issue Less Debt Than Their Male Counterparts

Female CEOs issue less company debt than male CEOs, because women are often more risk-averse than their male counterparts and therefore less likely to get the company into financial difficulty, according to new research by Durham University Business School.

The study also showed that the younger the CEO, the more pronounced the findings are, with younger female CEOs very conservative in their debt issuing, in contrast to younger male CEOs, who are more likely to rack up arrears.

Conducted by Dr Yeqin Zeng, Professor of Economics at Durham University Business School, alongside Qi Zhu, Central South University Business School, Yuxuan Huang, Hunan University Business School, and Cheng Yan, Essex Business School, the study examined the effects of a CEO’s gender on a company’s debt structure.

To do so, the researchers examined data from the S&P 1500 – the market index of US stocks – from the years 1993-2021. Using over 28,000 firm observations in this period, the researchers were able to monitor the changes in CEO appointments and over time, as well as the debt structure of each firm, and whether or not this changed dependent on the CEO’s gender and age.

The researchers found that for female CEOs, the average value of borrowed capital was 2.7% lower, as well as the average value of investing or trading in financial markets by 2.9% compared to companies with male CEOs. The researchers state that women’s risk-averse nature is likely the reason why. 

Younger CEOs, the research suggests, are more likely to have more extreme results compared to older CEOs because the potential rewards for risk-taking are higher.  This means male CEOs are more likely to take chances due to potential for a higher reward, whilst female CEOs are less likely to take the chances due to the potentially higher risks to their careers and companies.

“Over the past 20 years we’ve seen an increase from just 0.5% of CEOs in the S&P 1500 being women, to 7% in 2021.” says Dr Zeng. “Clearly it is a positive that the gender split of CEOs is on the up, but it makes for interesting new challenges for firms when they look at how their company is structured and performs. Our findings show that typically, female CEOs are less likely to get the company in debt, whilst men are more likely to be riskier CEOs”.

Interestingly, the researchers also found that the influence exerted by the CEO’s gender is much more pronounced when the level of market competition is higher, and the risk of litigation is higher too – due to the heightened risks and rewards. The researchers also found that the CFO’s gender has much less of an impact on how the firm structures it’s debt – it is the CEO’s gender that really matters.

The researchers say that these findings clearly show that gender does have an impact on how firms perform, and the decisions the wider company enacts on behalf of the CEO’s decision-making. The researchers say that this gives food for thought to companies when they are looking to hire their next CEO, giving them opportune time to manage their debt structuring too before doing so.

For more information, to speak with Dr Zeng or to receive the research paper, please contact Peter Remon at BlueSky Education – [email protected] +44 (0) 77 235 228 30.

Personalisation In Client Gifting: Making Every Gift Count

When it comes to client gifting, one size doesn’t fit all. Going the extra mile and making each present count is vital in a personalization-driven world. After all, a thoughtful, individualized gift could create a lasting impact on your clientele and improve your relationship with them.

Imagine receiving a mass-produced gift package from a company. How would you feel? Chances are, it won’t evoke any emotions or make you feel valued as a client. Now, what if you received a curated one that reflects your hobby, personal taste, or a shared experience with the sender? This shows that the sender took time and effort to choose the perfect present for you.

So, how can you ensure that your client gifting program stands out from the rest? Let’s explore some tips that’ll help you achieve it. 

1. Understand The Preferences Of The Client

Customizing your gift starts with knowing your client’s tastes and interests. Studying their preferences, favorite pastimes, and social media profiles could help you gather insights. Are they a golfer, a coffee addict, or an art lover? Understanding what makes your client tick lets you choose the best gift for them.  

For example, if your client is a coffee lover, a subscription to a gourmet coffee delivery service or a sleek coffee brewing set could make the perfect gift. On the other hand, if your customer loves golfing, consider getting a set of personalized golf balls. This considerate gesture shows that you cherish their individuality and take the time to customize your present.

2. Think Outside The Box

When it comes to client gifting, creativity goes a long way. Why don’t you think outside the box instead of settling for the same generic gifts everyone else is sending? This way, you prove that you’re willing to put the extra effort into making your present stand out.

Do this by choosing unique and memorable gifts to make an impact. Let’s say you plan to find the best thank you gifts for clients. Why not send a charcuterie board with cocktail-scented candles, gold foil matches, and wine stoppers? This set could be an excellent choice for celebrating, perfect for showing appreciation to your clients.

Another out-of-the-box option is an experiential gift. This could be tickets to a live concert, a spa day, or even a cooking class with a renowned chef. These types of gifts not only show your thoughtfulness but also provide an opportunity for your clients to create lasting memories.

3. Consider The Event

When selecting a gift, it’s essential to consider the occasion or event. Is it a milestone celebration for your client’s company, a holiday season, or simply an appreciation for their continued partnership? 

During the holidays, consider a festive present that catches the mood. Meanwhile, imagine gifting an engraved crystal plaque personalized with the client’s name and milestone achievement. It could say, ‘Congratulations on 10 years of partnership’ or ‘Celebrating USD$1 million in sales.” Understanding the event’s significance makes it even more meaningful for the recipient.

4. Use High-Quality Packaging

A thoughtfully selected gift deserves equally impressive packaging. After all, first impressions count, and quality and presentation set the stage for what’s inside.

Consider premium materials and elegant finishes, and pay attention to detail when packaging your corporate gifts. You may engrave a natural wood with your client’s logo or add a velvet lining to the inside of the box for a luxe feel. Can you visualize how the recipients would react during their unboxing experience? 

5. Add A Personal Touch

Some gifts are more meaningful when they have a human touch. Consider a handwritten letter or a personalized message to express gratitude or wishes. 

Additionally, why don’t you make the gift unique? For instance, engrave the client’s initials on jewelry pieces like bracelets or necklaces, or tech gadgets like Bluetooth speakers or headphones. This thoughtful act can make your gift stand out while making your clients feel cared for.

6. Be Mindful Of Cultural Differences

In a globalized business world, client gifting must account for cultural variances. What may be considered a nice present in one culture could be offensive in another.

So, take the time to research cultural norms and customs to ensure that your gift is respectful and well-received. Are you aware that some cultures have specific taboos or superstitions regarding certain colours or symbols? In China, it’s believed that white symbolizes death and bad luck. So, if you’re sending gifts to your Chinese clientele, avoiding this colour can save your brand from unintentionally damaging client relationships.

Mastering The Art Of Next-Level Gifting

Overall, personalization is the key to making every client gift count. Following these tips can create a memorable gifting experience that leaves a lasting impression. Remember, extra effort goes a long way toward showing your clients they’re appreciated.

Sustainable Business Leaders

How Business Leaders Can Support Sustainability and Achieve a Net-Zero Workplace

Reducing environmental impact means investing in the right technology, adopting effective initiatives and ensuring employees are invested in the process.


Sustainability has become a major focus for businesses in recent years, with a significant goal being to achieve net zero emissions status. There are a number of ways organisations can achieve this, some more obvious than others. Key to all efforts, however, is a steadfast focus on the most energy-intensive activities – such as printing – and figuring out how to reduce their environmental impact. This is according to Kyocera Document Solutions UK.


Steve Pearce, Head of Marketing, at Kyocera Document Solutions UK commented: “In recent years the emphasis on sustainability in businesses has grown enormously, with organisational leaders being held more accountable than ever before. Companies are no longer judged purely on basic initiatives such as recycling, but on areas such as resource consumption and carbon neutrality, with greenwashing a common accusation for businesses that only half-heartedly commit to sustainable causes.


According to recent research, 77% of people are influenced by a company’s environmental record when deciding to buy from them. Steve Pearce outlines some key steps organisations must take to get their eco-credentials in order.


Monitor energy consumption


Steve Pearce: “It is important organisations thoroughly understand their overall energy consumption, particularly the impact of their most energy-intensive activities. This should cover not just the energy you consume in the office, but emissions related to things like staff commuting.


“It’s very much a case of every little helps here. Engaging only with green vendors for office equipment such as printers is a good way to go, particularly if these vendors are fully carbon-neutral businesses themselves. This can be combined with other popular initiatives such as cycle-to-work schemes and carbon offsetting projects. The end goal should always be to reach carbon-neutral status, and to get there you have to make sure you’re sustainable in every part of the business.”


Educate your employees

“Sustainability initiatives can only achieve lasting success if your employees are fully invested and on board. Consistent and transparent communication is key to this: for example, programmes educating employees on responsible energy usage, recycling and carbon neutrality should be carried out frequently.


“These can be linked to awareness days or weeks that promote sustainability, such as COP28, Recycle Week or World Sustainability Day. When staff understand the part they play in the push towards net zero, they’re much more likely to engage fully.”


Enhance your print estate

“There are countless ways organisations can build a net-zero workplace through technology, but perhaps a lesser known way to achieve this is by having the appropriate print devices and print management policies in place.


“Moreover, organisations can look to invest in printers that have sustainability at heart. The most environmentally friendly printers function with low energy, are made predominantly of recycled materials and can themselves be recycled at the end of their lifetime, and are built with durable materials which reduce the need to frequently replace parts. Combining all of this into a carbon-neutral managed print service – covering after-sales care, device maintenance, engineer mileage and device disposal – will make a major difference.


“The correct print management software not only increases document security, but enables employees to significantly reduce how much they print. For example, quotas can be set for specific staff or departments based on needs, meaning energy isn’t wasted on unnecessary print jobs.


“Achieving a net-zero workplace won’t happen overnight, but it is vital business leaders integrate a sustainable approach into company culture. Purchasing in the right technology and committing to new initiatives are crucial steps in reducing energy consumption, but the greatest success will come when employees are fully included in the process”, concluded Steve Pearce. 

Gender Leadership

Impactful Strategies to Plug the Gender Imbalance in Leadership

According to government-backed research, nearly 40% of UK FTSE 100 board positions are now held by women, which suggests that British businesses are gradually getting female employees in higher, more influential roles.

While this is a promising statistic, it has also been found that 45.7% of these roles were in non-executive positions. So, it is fair to say that there is still significant work to do to plug the gender imbalance in leadership.

As well as hindering the career of individual women, the gender gap in leadership positions can limit a company’s potential, too. In fact, inclusive and diverse organisations are 50% more likely to make better decisions and 36% more likely to have higher efficiency levels.

With this in mind, as a business owner or HR director, what strategies can you put in place to plug the gender gap in senior executive roles? Impact, a world-leading expert in leadership development and experiential learning, shares some tips on how to start minimising the gender gap in higher roles.


Set up strengths- and skills-based development plans

One of the first steps you can take to tackle the gender imbalance in your senior board roles is to put professional, strengths-focused plans in place for emerging women employees. 

Generally, women are more likely to undervalue or underestimate their potentialities than men, meaning that they might find it trickier to self-promote themselves and express their true worth.

So, in this respect, setting up development plans that aim at identifying and leveraging people’s capabilities is an effective way to recognise individuals’ strengths.

As well as offering a platform to enhance their competencies, these plans should also include consistent, 360-degree feedback. This will help you spot your employees’ strongest assets and determine any areas for growth as future leaders.

Skills- and strengths-based development plans, in turn, can also boost women’s confidence and trust in their abilities. And thanks to increased self-awareness, they might be more likely to stand out and push for the higher role they deserve.


Educate senior executives about the importance of leadership diversity   

As a business owner, you should consider sharing with your seniors the wide range of benefits that come with having a diverse board of leaders within the company.

For example, diverse leadership can help attract new talent from all backgrounds and walks of life, as candidates want to see themselves represented at the top level. This way, as an organisation, you have a better chance to find the best fit for the role.

What’s more, diversity in leadership is crucial to retaining valid employees who are currently facing challenges. In some instances, female higher-ups might be able to relate better to women in their team and identify more adequate ways to improve work satisfaction and minimise turnover.

So, educating your current executive leaders about the importance of (gender) diversity in leadership can benefit the company.

With a more diverse and inclusive range of individuals in executive positions, you can ensure your staff is as happy as can be, which will then help drive your organisation forward.


Review paternity leave policies

Where possible, think about reviewing your internal paternity leave policy.

As things stand, employees on paternity leave in the UK are entitled to two weeks off work, but this doesn’t prevent companies from offering the new parent a more generous policy.

As well as allowing the new dad to spend more precious time with their baby, this can benefit the mother in a number of ways, both personally and professionally. In fact, it can have a positive impact on the fair advancement of women’s careers, as longer paternity leaves allow both parents to flexibly share their childcare responsibilities.

More balance in childcare duties can help ease the pressure on women, meaning they can allocate more time and energy to focus on progressing in their role and climbing the company ladder.  


Tackle gender bias in leadership recruitment

Another method to plug the gender gap in leadership and promote more higher-up opportunities for women is to actively tackle bias in the recruitment process.

To do so, provide your recruitment team with ample training on the existence and dangers of unconscious bias. This should cover anything from stereotypes to the importance of diversity in the workplace.

You may also want to consider standardising your job description. In what way? For instance, you could use gender-neutral language, focus on required skills and experience, and reduce references to gender-specific traits.

With a few tweaks in your recruitment process, you will be able to attract a wider pool of talented candidates and encourage more women to apply for leadership roles.

Office Culture

Creating a Thriving Learning Culture: Four Obstacles to Overcome

Embracing a learning culture in the workplace is a great way to help your business and people thrive. When companies get this right, it is estimated they are 92% more likely to be innovative and 37% more productive.

That said, there is no hiding that implementing organisational change by bringing in a learning culture can come with its challenges. For instance, you may find that some employees resist change at first, which can slow down the process and damage the team development.

As a manager or business owner, what are the barriers you might face when trying to create a thriving learning culture?

Here, Dominic Fitch, Head of Creative Change at team development specialist: Impact, identifies some of the frequent obstacles to employees’ personal and professional growth while highlighting ways to overcome these hurdles.  


Lack of support from leaders and managers

For team members to appreciate the importance of continuous learning and professional development, it is crucial for managers and seniors to support them throughout the journey.

Dominic Fitch, Head of Creative Change at Impact, explains: “The reality is that, if there’s a lack of guidance from leaders, employees might fail to understand the benefits of merging work-related learning opportunities with their day-to-day tasks.

“Continuous learning is a fundamental aspect of work life, as it allows people to enhance their skills and improve both on a personal and professional level. But without adequate mentorship, team members may be missing out on this opportunity, which in turn can hinder the efficiency and productivity of your business.

“So, leaders and managers should always act as role models, promoting the advantages of continuous learning and taking time to allocate resources for training programmes.

“What’s more, you may want to consider being involved in learning and training sessions, too. By showing active and genuine interest in the development of your team, you can empower your employees to invest in their growth and foster a successful learning culture.”


Limited time

53% of workers in the UK feel overworked due to packed schedules and hefty workloads.

With so many tasks to carry out during their shift, many employees often have little time to focus on learning activities and professional development. And especially with strict deadlines and targets to meet on a daily basis, they might feel obliged to prioritise scheduled work over training opportunities.

Of course, it may not always be possible to postpone urgent tasks, but it’s the manager’s responsibility to find ways to ensure their team enjoys much-needed learning opportunities. One solution could be to reserve specific slots each week for training purposes only.

This means that, say, on a Wednesday morning, employees will know that they are booked for learning activities. This way, they can confidently concentrate on enhancing their competencies without having to worry about neglecting other impeding tasks.


Poor or insufficient resources

Another significant barrier to creating an effective learning culture is not having access to valuable resources. Without the relevant tools, books, documents, seminars, or webinars, what are your people actually going to learn?

The truth is that unless your employees are equipped with adequate training materials, they will find it challenging to keep up with innovations and industry trends. As well as limiting their potential and skills, this can have a negative impact on the company’s overall performance.

To nip the problem in the bud, invest in tailored learning resources, including training platforms, digital libraries, and online courses.

Yes, it’s no quick fix, and you may have to set some money aside to build your portfolio of resources. But don’t worry – it will be worth it in the long run. In fact, it will provide you with an increasingly skilled team that can drive your organisation forward.


Resistance to new processes and change

Let’s be honest – not everybody has a soft spot for change. 62% of UK employees, in fact, admit they don’t like leaving their comfort zone.

Once people are familiar with existing processes and are happy with their current knowledge, they can be reluctant to adopt different tools or methods. This could be because they worry about failing or being unable to keep up. Whatever the reason, if your team is resistant to change, it can threaten the smooth introduction of new training activities.

So, what can you do to prevent this? The best medicine is clear communication. As a leader, it’s important that you guide your people through new initiatives, underlining how these changes will benefit them in the short and long term.

Also, encourage your team to share any concerns and address them individually. This will allow you to highlight the advantages of your new learning culture and, in turn, help reduce people’s worries and scepticism.