professional development

Taking Your Business & Yourself to the Next Level

A chance meeting happened in the crowded courtyard restaurant of an Italian palace where a man waiting for his tab allowed us to share his table.

We spoke.  The man is an architect.  We both had watched the show “Grand Designs.” I told him of my grandfather, who was the first municipal architect of Tel Aviv. When he asked about my work, I explained   “people ask to speak with me.”

Without further prompt, he told me that he wanted to take his business to the next level and we exchanged contact information.

How am I to frame the conversation we just agreed to have?  I see framing it as my responsibility given that he has already asked his question.

Here, then, is the first step of taking your business to the next level.

Typically when a client asks for help moving up to the next level, they are thinking of strategies and tactics: e.g. “To reach my goal of having a business of “x” size what do I have to do vis a vis staffing, marketing, offerings to clients? How do I fund these new activities? Where do I start?”

While these business questions matter and will be answered, they can often be a distraction from the type of inquiry needed to foster true growth.  The art of consulting is to cast aside the cafeteria line of cookie cutter solutions and to skillfully draw forth the fullest expression of self that your client can muster.  Understanding the self is core.

As professional observer, it’s already clear that this man in the Italian palace sees “more” but doesn’t know how to attain it.  He has at least an intuitive sense that he’s missing something.

What he might not yet know is that his current business is the manifestation of him.  It’s impossible for his business to be anything other than him.  If he pays attention to something and acts upon it then he has already realized it.  His hiring and managing of staff, it comes from how he interacts with people.  Much of this is probably innate.  Same for his marketing and how he deals with regulations and regulators.  We could think of his business as the sum total of his habits.

This man asks a near stranger to help him take his business to the next level.  As receiver of his question, I know that to realize his goals he has to look inside.  My role is to help him take that look.  I help him understand his habits.

It matters very much how this man came to feel that there is “something more.”   Where did he get the idea that there is a next level for his business?  Such an idea can be inspired by another’s business but his next level cannot be borrowed.  It must come from him.

Along the way to the next level, I will help this man prepare the way not only for the challenges and joys that change will bring to him but also for the effects of his changes on his family, his employees, customers and competitors.

Many an attempt at moving to the next level has crashed into the resistance of these important others.  To ensure successful change, all stakeholders must be a respected part of the process. My role with this business owner and visionary is to help him lead his change with as much grace as possible.

But, moving up is not all about grace.  It takes guts.  It takes passion to play on a bigger stage. As consultant, I help you honor your passion.

This has been an introduction to the mindset required for managing a change up to the next level.

Understanding yourself drives a robust change process that is centered on your vision.

Jonathan Magidovitch works in the US, Europe and Israel as a coach/consultant for individuals, families and family businesses. He is the principal of Yosef Meged Consulting.

Leadership Best Practices: Respecting Multiple Perspectives

Leadership Best Practices:  Respecting Multiple Perspectives
January 2015
by Jonathan Roth Magidovitch

The best leaders do more listening and less telling.

But to what do they listen?

We all are accustomed to hearing multiple accounts of the same events.  What parent hasn’t heard, “But, Mommy, he started it.” What CEO hasn’t heard that the problem comes from another department.

To deal with multiple accounts of the same event, there are tools to guide parents, CEO’s and all leaders.

One such guide is probably already in your house.  Open the family Bible.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the four Gospels, are each telling the same story.  They are each biographies of the life of Jesus and they are not the same. Each disciple has his own take.

You might expect that we would be hearing a lot of sermons about which Gospel gets it right, but that doesn’t happen.  Instead all four perspectives stand as authoritative and worthy of respect.

From a Jewish perspective, we have the adage “two Jews, three opinions.”  It is part of the culture to disagree, often vociferously, on everything, and at the end of the day, everyone is still part of the family.

As leaders, it is our job to hear out various perspectives and process the entirety into an overall understanding.

There is a caveat:  this processing is not just about facts.  The leader’s job is not as simple as determining who is correct.  Perceptions and feelings and agenda are significant parts of the picture.  As leaders we understand that each perspective represents some element of the target population for whatever product or service our business is offering.  As parents we understand that each perspective is part of the unified vision for our family.  We may personally differ with what we hear, but choosing to hear it anyway makes our decisions robust.

The leader’s job is to hear multiple perspectives and understand from them how to proceed with real actions in the real world.

The leader responds to each voice with respect and gratitude.  Having been part of the conversation is what matters about the team members.  The leader is ultimately responsible for making the decision.  That decision being correct or not accrues to the leader having properly understood the various inputs.

Furthermore, it is the work of a good leader to make sure that the voices around the table do actually represent crucial aspects of the target population.  Ten voices saying one thing could signal unanimity in the target population. However it could also mean that there is something wrong with the team or the management processes. That is, “Is dissension allowed?  Have people with various perspectives been brought to the table?”

Going back to Scripture, there are actually more than four Gospels.  The others did not make it into the Bible. Instead they are found elsewhere in New Testament as apocrypha or pseudepigrapha.

These other Gospels did not pass whatever review.  And, perhaps there are yet other gospels that did not pass muster even to the level of being preserved at all.

Not all voices get heard and that is an issue.  It may be a moral issue or a validity issue.  And, there are procedural issues here as well.

Who gets to speak at our table?  That is the question. A fact of human capacity is that we don’t have time or treasure enough to hear all the possible voices.  How we determine who gets to our table matters.

Here are some considerations:

  1. Is someone knocking on our door?  If someone has expressed a desire to speak in our group why have we declined them?  If it’s racism or sexism or any other “ism” this is a moral failure which will lead to a business failure.
  2. Have we searched for team members broadly enough?  In business we have a sense of our target audience.  It is important that audience is represented in the thought process of our business.  To assume we know people’s thoughts and preferences especially across cultural lines is taking on unnecessary risk.   ***   Furthermore, have we understood our target audience?  Maybe people in addition to those we’ve already identified could be in our target population.  Find ways to discover new segments.  For example, look at your sales records for outliers and find out who they are.  Or, talk with other leaders or experts.
  3.  Are we listening only at certain times and in certain places?  Being a leader is 24/7 work.  Listening at meetings matters but it also matters that off chance of hearing something in a song lyric or in a phrase caught from the conversation of passers-by.

Wherever we stand as leader, be it home or office, a key part of our role is processing correctly multiple understandings of events.  Each input represents some part of the picture.  The points presented here will increase your clarity in deciding the right thing to do.

Jonathan Roth Magidovitch works in the US and Israel as a coach/consultant for individuals, families and family businesses. He is the principal of Yosef Meged Consulting.