Thoughts, travels and inspiration

Tag: Leadership

Four reasons parenthood can make you a better leader

Father and son
Father and son by MarcelaHernouxPhotography

Who has never met somebody at work and say a couple of years after, he or she was a real father / mother for me… I grew up so much during my tenure during this role. He taught me so much.. She cared so much about me and our team…

Leadership is defined by the New Oxford Dictionary of English as: ‘the action of leading a group of people or an organisation’. However the range of actions included in this definition remains vague and left to the appreciation of many.

In this article, based on my recent experience as a father, I would like to offer you four reasons parenthood can inspire you to become a better leader.

1- Develop a clear vision of what to become as a family

As a family, we are all different and unique but we are also one living together good and bad moments. From birth we will all experiment happy and difficult moments where our family is the very first place we can search out for strength and comfort.

However, for this to work, an ambiance of acceptance and encouragement has to be put in place. Trust is key to travel together in this lifelong journey and parents must be the captain in charge of sailing everyday the boat to the right direction.

As parents, we must make sure our children grow in a certain structure that will make them ready to live in society while offering them the tools to think independently and make the right decisions.

We have to build a vision of what we want to become together and develop it with the support of all family members. We have to find what unites us and not divides us permanently.

In a business the role of the leader is to create the right culture for its talents to thrive and reach their objectives both professional but also personal to retain them over time.

The goal is to lead to a common objective where both businesses and talents will be better off. As parenthood, vision is what unites people together, make them stick and grow unanimously.

Photo by Askar Abayev from Pexels

2- Define the values that power you as a unit

Values are what allow us to take the toughest decisions of our lives. They are defined as the moral principles and beliefs or accepted standards of a person or social group like a family or a business.

While the vision of what we want to become as a family is the ideal we want to work for, the values are the guiding principles through how we want to achieve that.

We are all different as individuals and we value different things unevenly. However, when we face tough decisions, we need to find common ground to respond the right way.

For some, it will be based on religion, others on rules that have always been in place in the family. Above all, we all need to get the same rules to respond in the right way, learn and grow..

For corporate leaders, this is just the same. People come from different cultures, background, religions and have different priorities in life. The role of the leader is to define and convey over time the set of rules that will be used to grow the business overtime.

How to do it ? Jack Welch, the ex-CEO of GE developed a specific matrix called the Performance / Values Matrix. It clearly states that culture fit should always be preferred to performance fit to develop a business in the long-term.

Performance Value matrix from Jack Welsh as explained by AVA

From quality, to honesty or care, some are just examples that I value and carry on through my activities while hiring or joining new businesses. Think about what yours are and hire and retain only people that fit yours. You will save many hours wondering if you made the right decisions in your career..

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3- Deliver results through basic but powerful metrics

Numbers people, I have good news for you. Parenthood is also a lot about numbers. From numbers of baby’s bottles to give or the average volume a baby needs to drink from Mommy’s breast, to counting how much the little darling pees or poops to make sure everything is normal, there are a lot of metrics to keep in mind.

Sounds familiar ? Our way of working was to log everything to measure the progress days after days and months after months. The result? The capacity to anticipate baby being hungry at 4am, more comfort for him and longer(ish) nights of sleep for us.. Sounds regimental? People and businesses always go further, quicker and easier with systems in place. For more tips, ask your paediatrician 🙂

In business, many will have recognised the basics of a business plan and a forecast.. Look at the big picture, break it down in small steps, know the activities you have to do every day, measure them and act upon them. Fail fast, learn fast and grow quickly! In summary, be agile !!

Anybody can do a basic form of log tracking and bring more success to the growth phase of a newborn little darling or company. Take the time to review your market position per activity (the SWOT), think about micro / macro economics affecting your business (PESTEL / PORTER). Make sure to know what is your unicity or superiority in the market. Then, you’ll be ready for success.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

4- Prioritise what is important for growth

If parenthood can be described as something wonderful, it is also sometimes overwhelming, with the schedule of the new arrival added to the obligations of the house. From shopping to going out for a meal with the better-half or friends, everything becomes different and priorities must be reshuffled.

Like in business, parents’ days start early and finish late with sometimes (especially at the beginning) very little time to rest at night. Knowing and acting on what is truly important or or urgent becomes key.

For Eisenhower, we can assign tasks to four different categories depending on their importance and their urgency. Most importantly, if we should tackle first the important / urgent, we should focus most of our time in the important / not urgent to build a system for success.

The Eisenhower time matrix adapted from Business Savvy Mama

For parents to leaders, it is our duty to prioritise invaluable things and organise our days to make sure we tackle all roles in life. Nobody can do it for us and leaving the world running our priorities is a poor choice that will have one day or another an impact on our health and our career or lives over time.

The Wheel of Life as proposed by leading coach Tony Robbins can be a great place to start. Have a look at what matters to you in life, assess where you are today and set up the right development plan for growth in areas that matter to you and your happiness.

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Parenthood and leadership a human growth accelerator

Parenthood is a unique experience making you live all types of feelings on a daily basis. It also teaches you key values like patience, care and dedication. It places you in a way bigger spectrum than where you thought you were before. If forces you to understand how to make life better for you and your family everyday.

Leadership is a similar experience at the head of an organisation. From defining the vision to creating the right team to deliver the expected results, it challenges you on a daily basis to manage people like a family. It makes you take difficult decisions with the right values to grow and for everybody’s best interest.

Parenthood teaches you so much on how to become a better leader. But realistically, we should all become more leaders’ of our own lives. And to those wondering, isn’t great leadership also the perfect learning opportunity to become amazing parents ?

Feeling like in the same boat and want to share your experience, leave us a comment below or drop us an email at contact(at)guillaumehernoux(dot)com. Parents, leaders, followers, tell us what you think and let’s have a chat !

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Five things you should know before starting an MBA

Doing an MBA had always been a life time goal! “Why?” would you ask. Does it really make you a better professional? Does it change you as an individual? And actually, what is it really to do a Master’s in Business Administration?

After more than 2 years of studying, dreams come true. In September, I will graduate with an Executive Henley MBA from Henley Business School. At a time when I enjoy looking back and reflecting on it, here are 5 things you should consider before starting your own MBA…

1. Why do you want to do an MBA?

Doing an MBA is always an intriguing thing. Indeed, lots of people start to ask you questions to demystify it… Many of them will be linked to money and how much you might earn after it. Others will ask about your capacity to handle the volume of study and how it will definitely challenge your resilience. All well considered, the major question you should ask yourself is what do you want to achieve from your MBA?

An MBA is a generalist degree that offers a strong level of knowledge to develop, manage and scale a business or a team at a large and sustainable level.

Think in terms of career progression, what do you need to develop the most? Is this a generalist approach to business to grow your capacity to be part of larger projects and lead them to completion? Or do you need to get more specific knowledge in an area where a Master’s of Science (MSc) would be more appropriate? Do you even need a degree, or a certification is enough? Think well about this before committing to it.

A good way to discuss that is to talk to your colleagues, friends and family about how you see your career and what you need to move to a next stage. Your manager should definitely be part as well of the conversation and your career planning strategy. Feeling lost or unsure? A coach or a mentor can also help you in this direction.

2. What will you study during your MBA?

During your MBA, you will study practical business cases covering all company areas and impact on the wider society. In some Business Schools, like Henley, you also have a very good in-depth personal development module on top of the fundamental topics below.

The first year will be focused at looking inside of your organisation. Management of Systems and Processes, Finance and People is covered in depth with a particular application made on how to implement your suggestions.

The second year will be more strategic and will ask you to look outside of your organisation. Company strategy, international business, leadership and change and finally strategic marketing will be the core of your studies. You should also be able to pick an elective module and make a study trip somewhere in the world to develop your consulting skills.

Exams and assignments per modules will sanction your progress or will offer you another try to make it to the next stage.

Finally, the last six months of your studies will be focused on aligning your knowledge to an industry level challenge with a Thesis. I chose to focus on Leadership and Employee Retention in partnership with some Irish Associations like the Institute of Directors. Topics are free as much as you deep dive into one of the modules.

This is the best part of it as you can really undertake a full project, launch interviews and draw conclusions with the support of your supervisor. Be prepared all over the course to read a lot of books and take notes along the way in a development journal to be able to see your progress overtime!

3. How committed are you?

Doing an MBA is a long marathon with a few sprints at the middle with some yearly exams and some assignments to deliver every quarter or so. There is no right or wrong amount of work to do to get them right but you should forecast more or less 80-100 hours of study per module to get a pass grade.

As an example, from October 2016 to March 2019 I spent a total of 1,200 hours of study in total, and around 300 hours for the last piece of work, a thesis of 15,000 words.

I would advise to spend a minimum of 10 hours of study a week including a session of 4 to 5 hours non-stop (usually on the week-end) to deep dive into the materials and get the most of it.

Every module included for me an assignment based on my company and I spend around 25% of my time on gathering the right information, populating the models and writing my conclusions.

4. Which Business School should you pick?

Choosing the right Business School is very important to make sure you get the right quality level of teaching. My preference is to go mainly for triple accredited MBAs (AACSB, AMBA, and EQUIS). You can find a list of them on the different websites like Find-MBA.com.

You will be often asked to do a GMAT Test to check your analytical writing and your verbal, quantitative and integrated reasoning. You can find more information on the mba.com website.

Your professional experience and your English proficiency can also be checked so make sure to contact the different schools you are interested in and check all their requirements before making a decision.

Finally, Business Schools price MBAs very differently based on their reputation, their location and the prestige of their alumni. Cheapest ones start around €20,000 and can go up to €100,000 for the Top MBA schools.

Be aware that companies are more and more willing to participate in the education fees to contribute to employees’ professional development. They may also be interested in benefiting from your future assignments to review their whole strategy. You can start to be involved in more projects internally and grow your career quicker this way.

Always check as well incentives from Governments to understand what will be your real net financial investment in the programme. Ireland has put in place a tax relief for third-level fees that is worth studying on Citizens Information for anybody thinking in starting a new degree.

5. What is the real value of an MBA?

I often get this question. Is it really worth the price? It’s so expensive to do an MBA, isn’t just too much money for something you could gather yourself along the way…

There is definitely not a standard answer to this question but I do believe it has been greatly beneficial to me for different reasons.

  • The alumni network everywhere in the world is huge and with more than 28,000 members Henley Business School has allowed me to connect with leaders all over the globe.
  • The knowledge proposed by the school has been challenging and fascinating in many aspects to force me to think out of the box and manage successfully every component of a business or a division.
  • The international character of the school grants a diversified programme with study cases from all over the globe. It also offers another level of impact to different businesses and leadership styles globally.
  • The Executive aspect of the MBA, allowing me to apply my different modules to my company challenges, has allowed me to grow my business acumen and take better and more factual decisions over the course of the programme.

Final thoughts

Doing an MBA is not easy, it is a commitment to work hard with yourself, to get constant support from your family and understanding of your business during the 30 months of studies. Having the correct level of work / study / life balance is important and people we love are key to our success.

The support of your study team will be key as well, and taking the time to rest without guilt is capital to go through this transformation process.

Tracking my time studying was capital to me to make sure I was keeping myself stimulated to deliver results while allowing some breaks and exercises outdoors. Free tools like Myhours are great for that and super easy to use.

I would encourage you to think carefully about what motivates you to do an MBA and write exactly what you want to get from it.

It will help you celebrate better your successes and ease difficult times you may have along the way. If you need any help or have any question, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to share my experience and help you make the right choice for you!

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