Reading the amazing growth stories of Dana’s fellow entrepreneurs inspired us to think about how the behaviours that have led to their success can be equally useful when adopted by in-house leaders.
#1 Connect with your purpose
Virginie Charles-Dear, founder of toucanbox – a “through the letterbox” children’s craft box – has grown a business with a turnover in excess of US$5M thanks to her mission to connect parents and their children over educational craft activities. As a legal leader, you are in a unique position to understand and reinforce your company’s purpose and bring your values and ethics to bear on how business gets done. Finding a compelling purpose to your activities as a team is also a great way to motivate your staff and increase productivity, whether it’s “creating happy family memories” like toucanbox or “making legal work better” like us at Obelisk.
#2 Look for learning opportunities
SafeToNet is an AI-powered software that parents can install on their children’s devices to help them stay safe online. To make sure they stay relevant, Richard and Sharon Pursey, the company’s founders, have created a youth advisory board, including a 16-year-old CEO who gives them open and honest feedback on what they get right and wrong. Make sure you are scheduling time to listen and learn through similar encounters, whether that’s through reverse-mentoring with more junior colleagues (that’s a meeting where they give you advice!), volunteering or coaching outside of work or spending time with your customers and suppliers.
#3 Live and breathe your customers
So many of the “Future Shapers” started their businesses with their own great idea, but what has helped their businesses to thrive is relentless focus on listening to and acting on their customers’ ideas. Beryl is a company on a mission to get as many people in cities on bikes as possible. To that end, founder Emily Brooke asks for customer feedback at every opportunity, whether that’s through the company’s app or their design workshops and feedback sessions. Challenge yourself and your team to ask for feedback from your internal and external customers more frequently, organise secondments or office swaps and set mutual objectives so that you can find ways to work together more effectively and deliver better value to your business.
#4 Embrace technology
Unsurprisingly the ELITE “Future Shapers” are a tech-savvy bunch, finding opportunities to disrupt existing business models by harnessing new technologies. John Mccallion, founder of GroundScope, which connects business users with taxis worldwide, has invested in behind the scenes technology to make the process of booking a cab as seamless as possible, thanks to complex behind-the-scenes integration with other business software. Similarly at Obelisk, we have made substantial investments in developing our own software to help match legal consultants with our clients’ projects, so they can start work sooner. Think about where the opportunities are for you to use technology to help with the heavy-lifting in your company, whether that’s document automation or simpler compliance processes, not only can you save money but more importantly you can make working life more straight-forward and more productive for you, your team and your colleagues.
#5 Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Leadership can be lonely, whether you’re leading a team or a small business. Most of the ELITE “Future shapers” reflected on the importance of making time to get help and advice from their peers and supporters in the network. It can be tempting to skimp on the time you spend networking, especially when your work is piling up. However, tapping into the knowledge and encouragement of those who are in a similar position is vital to replenish your energy and motivation. Creating a culture in your team where it’s OK to ask for help, by role-modelling that behaviour in the office, also leads to better results and less stress, so don’t feel tempted to always go it alone.