In business, they say timing is everything. According to Bill Gross, the US’s most prominent bond investor, timing is the single biggest reason why projects succeed or fail. Quoting his incredibly famous TEDTalk, Mr Gross believes that the other four elements tied to launching a business – being the idea, the team, the business model and funding – are rarely as pivotal as timing.
Having said that, it takes experience, vigilance and intuition to make the right decision – at the right time. This does not necessarily mean moving around with an endless air of bravado to shoot quick and fast decisions. It is more about hitting the sweet spot, to know when it is important to go ahead, and when to retreat and hold onto ammunition.
Individuals in top management may sometimes avoid the topic of timing as it is very much an indicator of their own ability to deliver. Yet, it is more than just about delivering on promises or taking timely decisions, but more about “recognising which ideas are ready to be explored, which ideas are not, and which ideas are past their prime.”
Vigilance goes hand in hand with timing, as it is the ability to keep abreast with all that is going on in the world – politically, economically, socially, technologically, legally, and environmentally.
Let’s take a look at some typical scenarios encountered by CEOs and top management on a daily basis.
The role of directors is to pose the right questions as well as to challenge the assumptions of strategies and plans put forward by the CEO and the C-suite to provide tangible value to the shareholders.
Actualising strategies requires the footwork of the CEO and the leadership team, where resources are deployed, and time is to be dedicated. Is it the right time to deviate resources from the current operation to be devoted to a new project? Tied to this, what is the risk appetite of the shareholders at the given point in time?
When gaining new customers and landing contracts, timing is once again of the essence. Nurturing relationships takes time, and the ability to meet the right business prospects is also dependent on correct timing.
Negotiation is also a mix of the right timing and the use of the right tactics – not to disclose too much too soon yet knowing when to strike a deal, so as not to lose out on a sale which could bring significant value.
Planning for meetings and strategising on how they are to pan out also guarantees saying the right thing at the right time.
Before presenting a new product or service on the market, one would have gone through all the ins and outs and necessary testing to ensure the project performs at its best. Yet, besides having a flawless project, does the welcoming market contain the right conditions to embrace it?
There lies a happy medium between being first on the market, creating the right noise, and entering a saturated marketplace which has already hopped onto the next bandwagon. Striking it right the first time makes all the difference.
This also applies when seeking to internationalise a service. Global marketplaces are in a constant state of flux, and having a close ear on the ground, perhaps also in the form of local partners, can really make all the difference.
Corporate culture takes years to build, and it is a well-known fact that change is feared by many, so when it comes to shifting behaviours and ways of doing this, sensitivity and the right timing is everything. Whereas the CEO may have a clear vision, employees, particularly those who have been there longer than you have, may resist the change, simply because ‘they’ve always done it that way’.
It would benefit company leaders to communicate in a timely manner the benefits of making such changes, and to identify the internal movers and shakers, or better described as ‘opinion-leaders’ who can help you get there. In such cases, patience is a virtue, as it is important to give people the time to adjust and help create the company culture they feel comfortable in.
Your management team and their employees have their own career aspirations. Most aspire to be given added recognition yet upon noticing potential, some leaders dive headfirst into offering responsibilities that even the most promising of candidates struggle to fulfil. Think of consistent growth rather than bursts of progress that could be counteractive. Having middle management progress to C-Suite comes with its own period of adjustment, whilst on the other hand, although some members might show potential, they still need to go through all the motions of fulfilling their current roles before moving up. Likewise, be patient with results and allow progress to take place gradually to avoid overwhelming talented employees.
Decision-making is a key leadership trait. When occupying a leadership position, colleagues and employees look towards you for direction, and ultimately to make decisions.
Whilst sometimes not taking a decision is a decision, when the buck stops at you, vigilance, intuition and the ability to listen and gain the right information will enable you to call the right shot – when it is ultimately time to pull the trigger.
No matter how much you love your job and how accepting your family is of your long hours, remember that we are all human, and no one is immune to the effects of burnout. It is therefore important to take the necessary time to rest, unwind and focus on self-development besides your professional life. Indulging in a healthy hobby or taking a short weekend break away from home can really do miracles, allowing you to go back to the office a revitalised person, full of inspiration.
Have you met Nadia Pace? Malta’s ultimate business mentor. Having been a CEO herself, leading companies through restructuring whilst occupying Director roles in myriad companies, her frank, down-to-earth and informal mentoring programme can help you assess your current performance and set you on the right path to success. Visit www.nadia-pace.com for more info.
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