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9 key takeaways from Business Strategy for Top Executives Masterclass

Business Strategy for Top Executives Masterclass with Costas Markides took place yesterday, March 23, 2021.

Read on to discover 9 key takeaways.

Yia sou*, world-changer!

I felt it was appropriate for me to welcome you in Greek, the world’s oldest recorded living language and the native language of Costas Markides, Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship at London Business School.

Prof Costas Markides delivered yesterday the Business Strategy for Top Executives Masterclass, a BRAND MINDS live online event.

Over the span of nine hours (breaks and Q&A sessions included) Prof Markides delivered a host of amazing insights, latest information and great storytelling.

He spoke with passion about strategy in a volatile world, how to become agile, how to mobilize your organization for strategy execution and how to overcome the latest challenges that new leadership is facing today.

Prof Markides’ high energy and to-the-point teaching style made it easy for everyone attending the masterclass to understand and assimilate the business strategy concepts he was talking about throughout the event.

What was the participants’ feedback?

The masterclass registered a high level of participant engagement. The chat was on fire with attendees asking questions, answering polls and writing comments on the topic at hand.

  • 90.3% of participants evaluated Costas Markides’ performance to be amazing;
  • 92.9% of participants said the overall experience has exceeded their expectations.

One participant said she felt “full of energy after masterclass:)” and decided she had new things to change in her work with a commitment to “make my team feel special”.

Another participant said attending the masterclass “confirmed some answers”.

Remember when you were a student, taking lots of notes in class? I guess one participant remembered because she told us: “I have filled in 2 A4 pages with notes and many takeaways”.

Another attendee shared with us a smarter way of taking notes: “I have selected 36 keywords that I think will help me structure the strategy of the division I lead”.

We are thrilled when participants tell us “All was above my expectations! Congratulations!”

But one particular type of feedback brings us the feeling of accomplishment: when attendees tell us they had “a great learning experience” and they “will brainstorm afterwards to implement what they have learned”.

Everyone stayed until the end wishing Costas could share one more insight, one more business concept, one more how-to.

As they say, you had to be there. But if you weren’t, you can watch four short cuts from the event with Prof Costas, that I have inserted below.

Without further ado, let’s delve into 9 key takeaways from Business Strategy for Top Executives Masterclass with Costas Markides or as the Greeks say, Pame**!

9 key takeaways from Business Strategy for Top Executives Masterclass with Costas Markides

1.The biggest mistake in a volatile world: believing that you don’t need a strategy.

The pandemic has disrupted the world and brought in a lot of uncertainty. This means companies are facing new challenges, but it doesn’t mean you should use uncertainty as an excuse to do nothing.

Use the information available to make choices.

These choices are your strategy.

Remain flexible and adjust your strategy as needed.

2. Strategy is choices: what to do and what not to do.

Strategy is about making difficult choices.

It’s about choosing who to target and who not to target; what to offer and what not to offer; use one tactic to achieve your goal over another.

What does Prof Costas say?

Stay clear of meaningless statements; they are not strategies. Also strategy should be written down in half a page and answer three questions: WHO-WHAT-HOW.

3. Why do companies fail to make choices? Fear of being wrong.

Companies fail to make choices because they want to avoid any risk that their choice might turn out to be wrong.

So they don’t make any choices at all. Don’t make the same mistake with your company!

Yes, making difficult choices requires a lot of courage. It takes strong leadership to make clear choices in the face of uncertainty and contradictory advice.

4. There are 3 ways of making a decision: analysis, experimentation and intuition.

Which should you use? Well, it depends on the situation.

If it’s about selling to a new type of customer, you could base your decision on a combination of intuition and analysis.

If you want to change your business model, you could experiment first. Ideally it’s a combination of the three, argues Prof Costas.

5. Agility is a by-product of behaviors.

Agility is not something you can ask people to do, said Prof Costas. It is the result of behaviors: questioning, experimenting, talking to your customers etc.

6. To become an agile company, create the right environment around your people.

What looks like a people problem is often an environment problem.

How can you make your organization more agile?

Create the right environment around your people.

Help your employees become more agile by giving them the autonomy to monitor the changes in the outside environment and take action. Find the little tweaks that fit your management style and local culture and introduce them.

7. You won’t win people’s hearts and inspire a change in their behavior through a PowerPoint presentation. Then, how?

The vast majority of employees are not committed to the strategy.

Help them visualize the reason why they should change.

Show your employees how your company’s products or services are changing the lives of your customers.

Reinforce the message through storytelling which is more likely to evoke emotion than a presentation.

There are four tactics to mobilize your organization: visualization, stories, actions that support the message, symbolism.

8. Disruption is a threat and an opportunity at the same time.

A Harvard study reported that the companies that approached disruption as a threat, failed.

The companies that looked at disruption as an opportunity also failed.

The successful companies are the ones that looked at disruption both as a threat and as an opportunity.

9. It is no longer enough to be a good employer, you need to make your people feel special for working for you.

How can you make your employees feel special?

There are 5 ways:

1) by providing them with a special purpose,

2) by surrounding them with special people through super selective recruitment and using unusual criteria (ie: passion),

3) by building a special working environment for them,

4) by selling special products, and

5) by treating people in special ways.

It’s difficult to translate nine hours of insights, statistics, case studies and other examples into ten takeaways.

On this note, allow me to conclude the present article with the following quote from Costas Markides:

Efharisto***, Prof. Costas Markides!

Yia sou* = Hello!

Pame** = Let’s go!

Efharisto*** = Thank you

Last days to join Business Strategy for Top Executives Masterclass with Costas Markides

Next week on March 23, 2021, founders and entrepreneurs, CEOs and investors, business developers and sales executives will participate in Business Strategy for Top Executives Masterclass with acclaimed Prof Costas Markides.

If you’re looking to turn your business from disrupted to disruptor and find innovative ways to thrive, then this masterclass is for you.

These are the last days you can get your tickets.

business-strategy-masterclass-costas-markides

The masterclass is held online through live streaming. It starts at 9 am and ends at 5 pm with a Q&A session which is a great opportunity to get answers to your questions. An outside perspective over your particular situation is invaluable. It could light a new pathway that you couldn’t have seen otherwise.

Here is the agenda of Business Strategy for Top Executives Masterclass:

Session 1: STRATEGY IN A VOLATILE WORLD

Success doesn’t come by chance or fall in your lap. It’s the result of a well-thought strategy and an excellent implementation plan.

You know how they say about overnight success?

This overnight success has taken ten years of hard work and perseverance.

That’s why you need a strategy for your business. And given the volatile nature of the world we are living in, even more so today.

Every successful business has a successful strategy. Remember: strategy before tactics.

Amazon’s main strategy is to focus on their customers. But the global leader of the ecommerce market doesn’t just listen to its customers.

Year after year, since 1997, Amazon sets out to delight its customers.

And that’s the drive pushing every improvement and product or service that the company has ever made: its search recommendation engine, AWS, one-click purchase, Alexa and so on.

Join the masterclass to upgrade and improve your business strategy!

Session 2: STRATEGIC AGILITY IN TODAY’S WORLD

There has never been a better time to go agile in business. Times are changing quickly and the business environment must adapt and keep up.

In 2014, consulting company McKinsey & Co introduced two new dimensions to their organisational surveys: speed and flexibility.

They described the companies that combined both as agile.

Companies that are agile can adapt quickly to new challenges and opportunities. They mobilize quickly and show a strong relationship between organizational health and the creation of value. They move to market faster than traditional companies and have lower costs.

Join the masterclass to discover ways to create strategic agility for your business!

Session 3: MOBILIZING THE WHOLE ORGANISATION FOR STRATEGY EXECUTION

Whether you lead a business of thousands of employees or a small team of five, you need to be aware that for the strategy to work, everyone must be on board.

Every employee, from front desk to product development to supplier quality has to understand the strategy, contribute to its implementation and be on the same page with everyone else.

Learn from strategy expert Costas Markides how to mobilize your organisation for strategy execution.

Session 4: NEW CHALLENGES FOR LEADERS

One of the abilities that successful leaders need to develop or acquire is the ability to see around the corner.

What does that mean?

It means to have one foot in the future.

It implies to be able to spot trends before they go mainstream and take steps to leverage them to the benefit of your business.

It’s called strategic foresight. Strategic foresight allows companies to prepare for the future.

What challenges do leaders have to face in the near future?

Is it employee high turnover due to low engagement levels in the context of the work-from-home situation?

Everything going digital and online?

Changes in customer behaviour?

Attend the Business Strategy for Top Executives to find out!

Join the Conversation

We’d love to hear what you have to say.

Get in touch with us on our LinkedIn PageFacebook Page, Twitter or TikTok.

Top 5 most in-demand soft skills you need to grow in 2021

Looking to develop your soft skills? Read on to discover the Top 5 most in-demand soft skills you need to grow in 2021.

Professional growth and career advancement hinge on the employee’s desire and ability to learn new things.

Whether you are looking to specialize in your field which means you’d want to go deep, or you are looking to diversify which implies going left and right (learn more about the T-shaped marketer), learning never stops. And it shouldn’t, rightfully so.

Over the past few years, LinkedIn, the 722-million member professional social platform, has been curating a list of the most in-demand soft and hard skills employers are looking for.

Here is LinkedIn’s list for the most in-demand soft and hard skills 2020.

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What are the Top 5 soft skills companies look for in their employees and new hires in 2020?

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Emotional intelligence

Let’s talk about each of them.

1. CREATIVITY

Creativity is now the #1 soft skill companies are looking for three years in a row.

Why is creativity in such high-demand?

Listen to creativity expert and BRAND MINDS speaker Denise Jacobs:

Can creativity be taught or is it an inherent trait?

I believe one of the most creative organizations in the world today is NASA. Going into space requires finding solutions to unique problems and even unknown situations. That certainly pushes the brightest minds at NASA to come up with creative and out-of-the-box solutions.

In the 1960s, NASA reached out to Dr George Land, a creative performance researcher and enrolled his expertise in devising a creativity test to help with the selection for innovative engineers and scientists. Dr Land accepted the challenge and devised a creativity assessment that worked very well.

Inspired by the results and curious to know more about where creativity comes from, Dr Land conducted a research study to test the creativity of 1,600 children ranging in ages from 3 to 5 years old. He re-tested the same children at 10 years of age, and again at 15 years of age. And then he extended the testing pool to include 1 million adults.

What exactly did Dr Land test for?

He tested for the ability to look at a problem and come up with new, different and innovative ideas.

Here are the results:

5-year-olds: 98% imaginative
10-year-olds: 30% imaginative
15-year-olds: 12% imaginative
31-year-olds: 2% imaginative

That’s quite a shock, isn’t it?

We are the most creative in our childhood and we lose our creativity growing up.

What is the reason?

Dr Land gave the following explanation in his book, Breaking point and beyond:

What we have concluded is that non-creative behaviour is learned.

Is there something we can do about it?

In his 2016 Tedx Talk, Dr Land says there is a way to undo this process.

Let’s hear from Dr Land (08:37):

First of all, we need to think about creativity beyond artistic abilities.

Artists are not the only creative people.

Professionals in every industry have the ability to be creative. Because in the workplace, being creative means looking at a problem from a different viewpoint and coming up with a fresh solution, as Dr Land explained a few years ago.

It’s not about waiting to be inspired; it’s about thinking creatively.

According to Martin Lindstrom, brand expert and BRAND MINDS speaker, the first step towards creativity is taking time off from your smartphone, observing the people around you and essentially allowing yourself to be present.

2. PERSUASION

In business communication, persuasion is the process of presenting arguments to move, motivate, or change your audience.

Persuasion is one of the most important skills that a leader needs. He has the vision and he sets the goal; he needs to move and motivate his employees to fulfil the vision and meet the goal.

It’s the leader who tells his colleagues Come with me and let’s accomplish the mission together. This is the authoritative leader who provides employees with inspiration, motivation, empowerment and a sense of accomplishment.

Or the visionary leader whose motto is Embrace my vision. This type of leadership is called visionary leadership. The visionary leader must hone his persuasion skills to inspire and motivate people to pursue a long-term vision. Learn more about leadership styles: 12 Leadership Styles for Successful Leaders (complete list) with Pros & Cons.

Persuasion skills are necessary for sales and marketing as well. With a 30-year career researching the science of influence, Dr Robert Cialdini is the world’s most renowned persuasion expert and a BRAND MINDS speaker.

His Theory of Influence is based on seven key principles:

  • Reciprocity,
  • Commitment and consistency,
  • Social proof,
  • Authority,
  • Liking,
  • Scarcity,
  • Unity.

Brands build on them to increase brand awareness and sales. Dr Cialdini’s latest insights on persuasion are in his 2016 book Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade.

3. COLLABORATION

We are living and working in a fast-paced environment.

Startups with a handful of employees that work as one are able to move quickly and more efficiently. Corporations with thousands of employees are slow and bureaucratic.

There are many examples of hundred-year-old brands outcompeted by new entrants on the market.

That’s where agility comes into play as a way of organizational transformation with one goal: adapt.

Want to learn more about agility? Read 22 benefits of the agile organization.

For an organization to become agile, its employees must form small teams. Every team member is expected to collaborate with each other. And that’s more difficult than you might think.

To meet the set goals, team members must learn to listen to each other, be supportive, be generous, learn to communicate clearly and openly, share knowledge and information, refrain from judgement, reject bias, debate and adapt.

The team leader must also be an example of effective communication and collaboration.

4. ADAPTABILITY

At the time of writing, the world has been fighting to end the COVID-19 pandemic for almost a year.

Our private and professional lives have been profoundly affected.

Many businesses are fighting to survive while others have already closed their doors. Adaptability has never been more important.

Why are companies looking for employees with a high ability to adapt?

Because these employees are a great asset to the company.

Highly-adaptable employees are:

  • Willing to experiment;
  • Undeterred by failure;
  • Use the failure as an opportunity to learn;
  • Resourceful;
  • Keep an open mind;
  • Have a growth mindset.

5. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Emotional intelligence is a new entry in LinkedIn’s Top 5 most in-demand skills of 2020.

Why are companies looking for emotional intelligent employees?

Let’s first find out what is emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to your own emotions and the emotions of others. It’s the skill that facilitates and nurtures the other four.

Daniel Goleman, one of the world’s leading psychologists and BRAND MINDS speaker, introduced the concept of EQ or emotional intelligence in his 1995 bestseller, Emotional Intelligence.

According to Daniel Goleman, there are 5 key elements of emotional intelligence:

  • Self-awareness;
  • Self-regulation;
  • Motivation;
  • Empathy;
  • Social skills.

Employees with high EQ collaborate better, are more adaptable, use persuasion for the right reasons, are motivated and able to motivate others.

The workplace benefits from increased engagement and the business are more likely to find creative ways to stay ahead of the competition.

Join the Conversation

We’d love to hear what you have to say.

Get in touch with us on our LinkedIn PageFacebook Page, Twitter or TikTok.

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