Roy's Blog: Leadership

September 25, 2017

4 practical ways a leader can keep on growing

Once you’ve grasped the leader brass ring you’ve made it; now you can relax and ride the wave until you decide to do something else.

If that’s what you believe, get ready for a rude awakening.

What you’ve earned today, you must fight to keep tomorrow. It’s amazing to witness a leader in free fall who doesn’t stay relevant to their organization.

Every standout leader has a personal development plan; a strategy to continually build their value as an individual that can enhance the performance and long term survival of the organization.

Leader growing

A personal development plan should have these four elements.

1. New organizational capabilities. Defining the new skills and competencies that must be acquired if the organization is to retain its competitive position - and the current ones that must be abandoned because they’re no longer relevant.
Long term success isn’t about continuing to do what created past success; it’s about defining the course to be charted that will meet the challenges tomorrow of changing customer demands, disruptive technology and new competition.
The survivor leader must paint themselves a rich and detailed picture of what the organization must look like tomorrow if it is to continue to thrive.

2. Personal competencies. Given the new capabilities the organization needs to develop for future success, the leader defines the new skills they must possess and an action plan to acquire them.
If for example, their business faces much more aggressive competition brought on by new disruptive technology, a personal development plan to learn and practice new marketing skills would be very appropriate.
For leaders to grow, they must continually be morphing their skill set to be synergistic with the challenges facing the organization.

3. 360 degree feedback. Obtaining feedback from others on a leader’s performance is a vital element of a personal development plan.
Many organizations use this tool to measure performance; I believe, however, that it has the most powerful impact as a personal development tool.
Personally, the 360 was most useful in obtaining feedback from my peers; my boss and direct reports tended to rate me favourably and from them it was difficult to define a specific improvement action plan. My peers, in the other hand, had no problem hammering me on behaviour they thought inappropriate.
I used my 360 results to improve my performance and to identify developmental experience and skill gaps that I had to close.

4. A lateral move. Most leaders don’t give this element of their personal development plan the attention it deserves; in fact it is rarely mentioned.
As a developmental tool, however, negotiating a lateral move into a completely different position has invaluable growth benefits for the individual.
I moved from VP Marketing to VP Operations and it was the best thing I could have done. I applied my strategic skills to the operations role and took away an “in the trenches” practical experience that served me well on my way to a president position.
Moving around the organization is the most effective way for a leader to develop themselves and enhance their relevance to the organization.
And it gets them known in all corners of the organization as a leader who wants to learn all aspects of the organization.

A leader that doesn’t have a personal growing plan is at risk of being irrelevant sooner or later.

Don’t be a victim.

Cheers, Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 9.25.17 at 04:16 am by Roy Osing
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September 11, 2017

9 proven ways leaders can make their stories rock

Standout leaders are crazy storytellers.

How do you rank as a class act?

How can you tell if your story is a magical journey for your audience?

— You can see it in their eyes. Their pupils widen with excitement. They smile.

— They even laugh out loud on occasion.

— They never take their eyes off you.

They hang on your every word.

— They are on the edge of their seats leaning in to what you are telling them.


— Your words draw them out of whatever place they were in before your story began.

— They rush up to you after you finish, wanting to engage with you in some aspect of your story.

— They follow up with emails and text messages. They never want your story to end.

— And, they tell their friends about what they’ve experienced.

How does this happen?

First, it’s no accident. Your intention is to tell your story in a way that excites people and leaves them wanting more.

You have a strategy which you play out at each storytelling occasion.

Here are 9 ways to do it.

1. Talk to yourself before every storytelling event.
I would say “energy up” out loud to myself before going on stage to begin my story. This is my way to refresh myself with the energy needed to “infect” the audience.

2. Look into their eyes and hold them with your stare.

3. Pick someone out in the audience who is returning your energy; play off them to hold yours.

4. Tell a story which is different from what they’ve heard before, not the same-old same-old they have heard by dozens of storytellers before you.

5. Be passionate about your topic; it is infectious.

6. Mix up the cadence of your story; do anything to avoid a monotonous rhythm.

7. And vary your volume as well. I rarely need a microphone in some parts of my story and I force my audience to listen hard to the softer parts.

8. To stimulate curiosity and interest, create your own words. I use words like “CRAP” to drive home my message.

9. Know your stuff. No, I mean REALLY know it so it oozes from your veins as a natural expression of who you are.
People get it that way. Treat your story not as an intellectual exercise but as an emotional experience. Not knowing your story can really mess up your flow and detract from the aura of it all.

If your story “takes their breath away” you know you’ve done your job.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 9.11.17 at 04:42 am by Roy Osing
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August 28, 2017

What happens when startups avoid these 2 easy questions?

Some say 9 out of 10 new businesses fail.

Others say 50% will not make it 5 years.

Ignore the precision of the numbers and you are left with the inescapable conclusion that when you start a business there is a very good chance you will fail.

Why is the mortality rate so high for startups?

Startup survival

These four explanations are typically used to explain failure.

1. They don’t have sufficient financial resources; they run out of money. They are unable to attract enough investors who believe in their idea. The founder is no longer able to continue at “zero pay”.

2. They don’t have people with the marketing competencies required to turn the new “brave idea” into a market reality. They are unable to communicate a value proposition that captures the attention of their audience and entices them to support it.

3. Their product doesn’t address a compelling market need; the problem it is solving is not easy to explain. It doesn’t resonate with anyone. People have to think too much.

4. Their solution is basically the same as their competition. There is no differentiation; it’s not distinctive or unique. Cover your eyes and the solution provider could be any one of a number of players in the market.

All choices are contributing factors to be sure, but the main culprits are first, a product that doesn’t capture the imagination of the target market and second, the absence of clear competitive differentiation.

Without a compelling solution and a value proposition that stands out from the competition you will undoubtedly fall victim to the grim reaper sooner or later.

Two questions that startup leaders should ask themselves:

1. “What common problem (i.e. virtually everyone is aware of it) does my product solution solve?” How easy is it to explain?  To people “get it” right away? Is it intended for a large segment of the market, or a small specialized group?
If it takes an hour to describe how your solution “talks to” the problem, and if it is targeted to a small specialized niche, you could be in trouble.
People are attracted to products that have broad social appeal. It doesn’t take long to explain, for example, why a solution to “distracted driving” would be valuable to have.

2. “Why should a potential customer do business with you and no one else?” The world is full of hungry competitors; what makes you special enough to have potential customers consider you and ONLY you for the solution you provide?
If you can’t clearly separate your solution from the competitive herd, you will be invisible and go unnoticed - and your money will most likely run out.

If you offer a no brainer solution to a problem that the world understands and if you are the ONLY ones who offer it the way you do, you will have a long and rewarding business life.

If not, join the statistics.


Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 8.28.17 at 12:54 am by Roy Osing
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August 25, 2017

Air Canada: this is what happens when your policies are really dumb

Does this seem reasonable to you?

Air Canada flight from London Heathrow to Vancouver.

I am sitting with my granddaughter about to be served lunch.

I ask the flight attendant for 2 white wine when she delivers our meal — my motivation was to avoid her having to come back later to give me another bottle.

Air canada

She replies that she can’t give me 2 bottles because their policy is to offer only 1 wine at a time.

When I question her about the reason behind the policy, she tells me that “It’s to control drinking on the aircraft.”

I get the reasoning but surely such a dumb rule requires some common sense when it’s applied.

I was sitting with my granddaughter for heavens sakes; pretty obvious I wasn’t looking to party and not a threat to disturbing the peace onboard.

But the policy was the policy and it was clear the flight attendant was not empowered to bend the rule in my particular case. The assumption was that I was like every other passenger in the past who drank too much and caused them a problem.

My takeaways from this experience:

— Air Canada has no idea what serving people is all about;

— Air Canada believes that solving a potential problem requires that every passenger be treated the same regardless of circumstance;

— Air Canada doesn’t believe in empowering their people to do the right thing for the customer;

— Air Canada thinks they have the right to be a “big brother” and control the customer experience rather than try to accommodate a reasonable request.

Air Canada continues to talk about how great their customer service is, but they have no idea what they’re talking about.

My intent is not to beat Air Canada up but to emphasize how critical it is to have policies applied with reason to each customer circumstance and not carte blanche to everyone. And to empower frontline people to apply their own judgement in applying the policy.

It will be interesting to see if I hear from them, as I intend to send them the link to this article…


  • Posted 8.25.17 at 06:25 am by Roy Osing
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