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Why the best business leaders care about philanthropy

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Corporate philanthropy makes sense and more businesses than ever are involving themselves and their employees in charitable activities. But it doesn’t stop there.

Many of the world’s top business leaders have made philanthropy part of their lives; entrepreneurs such as Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia of Dominvs Group, Leonard Ainsworth of Aristocrat Leisure and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou of Easy Jet, to name just three.

But why do great business leaders care about philanthropy, especially when they’ve reached the top? Here are just a few reasons why giving back is something that the best entrepreneurs genuinely care about.

The world is changing and their support is needed fast

Often business leaders are some of the first to understand that you can only affect real change by tackling the root causes of a challenge. That means many are focused not just on supporting disadvantaged people but understanding issues such as climate change, its effects on our environment, and its long-term impacts on the people’s everyday lives.

Australian companies gave $867m to charity last year, and in fact, according to the CAF World Giving Index, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand are the top three giving nations on earth. So it should come as no surprise that some of the world’s top individual philanthropists are living in the region.

Business leaders who do step up to the plate worldwide are impressive. One such philanthropists is Sir Stephen Tindell, founder of New Zealand’s largest retail group. His foundation is helping to reconnect New Zealanders to their natural environment. Since its foundation in 1982, the fund has donated more than $145m and supported initiatives including donations to develop sustainable farming and plant millions of trees.

We sorely need more people like Sir Stephen right now because when you look across the board, environmental philanthropy lags way behind other forms. In fact, it’s estimated that in the UK, only 3% of all giving goes towards the environment.

Giving back as a duty and responsibility

Many business leaders are self-made and have been on a very long journey to success. Some were immigrants who fled violent regimes as children; others worked their way out of extreme poverty.

These experiences often give them a sense of duty and responsibility to help others and the planet. John Paul DeJoria is one of the world’s richest people but his early life was a huge struggle. In foster care, in street gangs and homeless, one point he was so poor that he lived in his own car. But despite the odds he went to build a series of successful businesses including John Paul Mitchell Systems, Patron Spirits Company and the House of Blues nightclub chain.

DeJoria says: “People say you give away all these millions, but I don’t give them away. I invest it, in people,” he says. “I don’t mean I get the money back, but our planet will. We have to take care of one another. And that’s what we do.”

Setting an example for their peers and the next-generation

One of the most fascinating developments over the last 10 years has been the number of ultra-rich who are prepared to talk openly about their philanthropy. It’s easy to speculate about why they have begun to do this, but one of the reasons is likely to be that family business owners especially are looking to inspire the next generation along with their peers.

The Giving Pledge is the most visible example of this. Created in 2010 by three of the world’s most outstanding philanthropists, Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, it encourages billionaires to sign a pledge to give away the majority of their wealth over their lifetime. To date, 204 of the world’s wealthiest individuals, couples, and families have signed the Pledge including Elon Musk, Brian Chesky and Mark Zuckerberg.

One signatory to the Giving Pledge is long-time Scottish philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter, a self-made entrepreneur who started his first business by selling sports trainers from the back of a van. He built the business up to be Europe’s largest retailer. His written public pledge reads: “We don’t want to be the richest guys in the graveyard we want to “do good” while we are still alive. Why let others have all the fun? For those who are thinking about this. All I would say is seeing a project we have helped work is a bigger sense of achievement than any business deal I have ever done.”

Business leaders give vast amounts of their own money to good causes for a huge variety of reasons but it’s clear that the majority do so because they care a great deal about using their business experience and wealth to help others and the planet. For business leaders, philanthropy makes sense not just on a corporate level but on a personal one too.

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Mindset

10 Ideas To Properly Engage Your Business Employees

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Teamwork is critical to the success of all businesses and organisations. Proactively engaging with your workers and team members takes time and resource, as well as a plan.

While your goal as the leader is to drive the business forward with improved productivity, sales, and more market share, it’s your workers who are ‘operational’ aka at the coal-face. Your workers are part of the production, marketing, sales, tech, accounting and customer service. In this post, we’ve put together our top ten employee engagement techniques that take are really to do with how you engage with your team, including relationship management, collaboration, and inclusion.

10 Ways to Engage Your Business Employees

The first principle of engaging employees is quite similar to an everyday activity you go through in your business. Like audience discovery, you need to perform employee discovery. This means building a persona for your ideal employee with relevant demographics like age, location, likes and dislikes, hobbies, life goals, and lifestyle will help you lead them better. This is an excellent start to understand your employee’s work.

After all, you cannot motivate a person without understanding what ticks them. But, to use the potential of this step, you need employee engagement ideas that can penetrate deep into the psyche of your team members and create a positive impact on them.

Quality time equals quality performance

Time and again, researchers have displayed leadership behavior to be the key differentiator between high-performance versus low-performance teams. This means anyone who plays the role of a leader at any level, maybe your team manager or you as a founder, cannot compromise on interactions with employees. But be cognizant of how you come out in front of your teams here. Don’t just stick to work conversations. Talk trivia. Have a coffee or lunch with your team. It is the admixture of professional coaching and performance management with the informal time that makes the difference.

Great leaders create a sense of purpose

It is one thing to engage a person physically and entirely another to drive them emotionally. Creating value for your employees doesn’t end with providing them with tangible monetary compensations and perks. You need to add more. If your employee lacks a sense of fulfillment at the end of the day, it is not suitable for your team’s health.

In a job market where 42% of new job seekers feel underused at their current work, you at least need to create a workspace that feels more than just a job, if not a mission. Help your employees reach a personal goal, be a part of their growth.

What you preach, you should practice

Great leaders lead by examples. This means the next time you ask your employees to be punctual in meetings starts with you. If you do not carry out the same principles that you preach to your teams, the day is not far when your leadership attempt will fail. What follows here will be a low cohesive, unproductive team.

The only motivation that could drive them now is the month-end monetary remuneration that your company renders them with. In the tough days, you are snatching away their reasons to stick around. A perfect start to this strategy is to show empathy to your team members.

Schedule monthly time to have one-on-one conversations with your teams to take feedback. Considering their opinions is a crucial driver of motivation in your team. You will create a sense of belongingness in them.

Ditch exit meetings, instead have ‘stay’ conversations

As you may have guessed by the term, a stay meeting is precisely the opposite of an exit meeting. It allows you as an employer to create an opportunity to alleviate the pain points of your existing employees that caused them to take such a massive decision. This can impact your employee retention rate exponentially. Take this opportunity to revisit your journey together and consider how you can restart it.

The future team is cross-functional

Having an agile, T-shaped team at your disposal is the biggest asset in today’s global economy. It not only helps to keep your business at its dynamic best but creates an opportunity for collaboration amongst your employees.

Think of it like this. If each of your team members had the same skill set, it would be very challenging to cope with a situation that came utterly impromptu.

Cross-functional teams keep your business ready for challenges at all times. Each of your team members fulfills a need and complements each other. This means you create a sense of competition but in a healthy way. They learn to support each other and create a vision for the future. This structure also helps in conflict and stress management, ending the silo working model for good.

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How good is your team bonding?

Relationship management with coworkers is an absolute need for developing a high-performance team. This means if your team members don’t see an extension of themselves at the workplace, you fail to meet the basic need of socializing.

Feeling positive and happy is crucial for the mental health of your teams. You can promote multiple programs and activities to boost this culture.

Create programs like happy hours or Friday fun where your team engages with each other for reasons other than work. Bootcamps, open hours, and team conferences, and parties also are great ways to achieve this. Milestone parties are a good concept for engagement too.

Flexibility is your game changer

What would you choose for your employee to do for your startup, perform a 10 hours workday with 70% efficiency levels or an 8-hour workday with 98% efficiency?

A flexible work culture encourages more focused and productive hours at work. Promote the idea of fulfillment not busy. You can experiment with establishing a flex-hours to remote work.

Change your daily goals to mid-week or weekly goals. Flexibility comes in all shapes and sizes. This means it holds different definitions for each of your employees. Before making a final decision, don’t forget to take the opinion of all your team members.

Consider a 20-percent program

Eat sleep and work might look like the go-to motto of the fast world. But ask for honest feedback from your employees. Everyone hates it.

Create room for your teams to spend resting times inside the office campus. You can use the 20 percent program model famously coined by Google, where employees spend 20% of their work time as they like. This means your team will be at their peak performance if you stop micromanaging them.

Spend time to firm your core values

With 90% of professionals considering the culture to be an integral part of an organization, creating a strong ethics and company culture is no more a vanity drill.

Your company’s leaders at all levels need to establish a clear set of values that every stakeholder of the company abides by. Be it the founder or the vice president, or a product manager, everyone must be essentially tied by the same set of beliefs and values.

One of the hidden benefits of establishing values is the kind of message you give to prospective talents. Remember, the goal is simple here. Attract the right type of talent to create a high-performance team.

Creativity is your new identity

If you attributed creativity with wasted productivity, then it’s time to think again. Your teams already have hard problems to solve daily. Giving a creative window keeps your teams engaged while ensuring they have time to develop creative solutions. Include a tinge of art and artistic spark to the daily drill of monotonous work.

Promote and encourage design thinking amongst your team. An excellent example of this is gamifying your brainstorming sessions. This will not only speed up productivity but boost the quality of work produced.

Hitachi President Barbara Dyer says the key to fostering creativity is creating a landscape that promotes it to breathe freely.

Parting Advice

Your employee engagement at the core should have one goal: build a team with a mindset and motivation to create the future. Just depending upon trending ideas will not help you sustain in the long term. Sure, it will resolve your pain points with human resource management for now. But what about tomorrow?

Staying closely connected with your employees is the primary job of any founder. If you can successfully alleviate their problems, you are indirectly helping to remove your startup’s problems.

Remember, teamwork makes the dream work.

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Mindset

Excel As A CEO By Developing Your Soft Skills

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Reaching the dizzy heights of an executive position like an MD or CEO takes years of hard work. It would be best to have the education and qualifications, and years of leadership and management roles. Putting that aside, there are other skills you can acquire and use to excel as a CEO or executive, and the good news is you can develop them while you’re in the role.

Soft Skills

To start a company, you bucket loads of confidence. Having belief in yourself and what you and your company do is a prerequisite to acquiring customers. As the business grows, your role also includes developing a company culture, providing inspiration and motivating workers to aspire to greater heights so they too can take on leadership roles.

Confidence

Confidence is developed through personal success in education, sports, arts and culture, and business. It can be what separates you from your peers. There have been many successful CEOs who rose to the top of enterprises without a degree. Some of these high profile leaders include:

  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Steve Jobs
  • Bill Gates
  • Larry Ellison

These people are just some of the tech founders who got to the top without a tertiary qualification—many other CEOs in industries like transport, e.g. Virgin’s Richard Branson and iHeartMedia’s Bob Pitman.  All successful CEOs have a community of followers, and to get it, they have used communication.

Communication

Expert communication skills are a prerequisite for all leadership roles. The ability to articulate complex information, so your audience understands and appreciates your viewpoint secures the right team, advocates and customers. To hone your communication skills work on:

  • empathy – for example, how to deliver bad news
  • compassion – being sensitive to setbacks and adversity
  • negotiation – seeing both sides, being objective, fair in your route to getting what you need

Always be Open to Learning More

The first tip can apply to any person, really, and that’s to be open to learning more. Just because you have reached the top of the career ladder and finally have your dream job, it shouldn’t mean that the learning stops. It’s essential to keep growing, asking questions, digging more profound, and enhancing what you have to offer.

Understand the Importance of Listening

Driving the conversation is pivotal for any leader, and some may believe listening takes a backseat.  Successful leaders have learned how to listen.  They listen to everyone from staff to customers and people they meet throughout the day.

Ideas come from feedback, so we all can improve our effectiveness when we do more listening than talking.  As the saying goes:  seek to understand, then to be understood.  There are different types of listening:

Passive listening

You’ll know when you’re in passive listening mode when you’re present and may even be looking at the person talking, but you’ve zoned out, and you’re not taking in what the other person is saying.   Nor do you give a response that shows you understand, agree or disagree.  While passive listening may seem antisocial, it has its place.  For example, you can have music playing, but your focus is writing a blog post like this one. 🙂

Active listening

Giving something or someone your full attention when they are talking is a sign of active listening. Paraphrasing what you’ve heard and responded with your feedback confirmed not only have you listened actively – you’ve also understood the message or content.

Create a Personal Brand

While it may seem like the only brand that matters is that of the company you work for, in reality, you’ll want to spend some time defining your brand image too. This is all part of successful CEO positioning, all of which is meant to ensure you represent the company properly and come across positively as a thought leader. This helps the business to build authority, recognition, and trust.

Change Doesn’t Have to be a Bad Thing.

Top executives don’t fear change but embrace it.  You are what you think, and change is inevitable, so the leaders who ‘love’ change and look for the positives that lead the transition successfully.

Leading by Example is the Ultimate Tip

Then there is the final tip, which is one you’ve probably heard many times by now. Making sure you lead by example is truly the best way to inspire employees. By showing them what you expect from them and making sure you live up to those expectations yourself, you create a much more cohesive workplace, work ethic, and culture.

By using these tips, you’ll be able to excel as a CEO and truly knock it out of the park.

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Mindset

How To Avoid Burnout

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If there is a time that’s more likely to tip you to burnout it’s right now. Every year ending we get busier with projects ending, management keen to close off customer-related tasks so the business can start afresh in the new year.

Yes, you might love your job but there is only so much anyone can take right? What makes it harder to tolerate in November and December is the coldest months are still ahead of us!

Therefore burning out is a real condition that affects workers in different ways.

The troubling signs you may be heading for a breakdown or burning out include:

  • more irritable
  • increase in negativity
  • trouble sleeping
  • snapping at others
  • lack of empathy or caring
  • always tired

There are many more symptoms to look out for and when you realise all is not well with your mindset it is important to find healthy ways to avoid a full-on burnout!

Unplug Completely

Taking yourself out of the situations that led to burnout is a great way of avoiding it. Unplugging or even taking a holiday gives you the chance to leave everything behind and instead focus on your mental and physical well-being.

An added advantage of doing this is that you will get back with increased energy and be able to achieve much more than you would have if you kept going.

Reduce Mental Fatigue

A common reason for burnout is mental fatigue brought about by having an excess workload. When this happens, we are unable to think through what we want to get done first or what is more important and warrants our attention right now. When this happens, we get stressed, which leads to mental exhaustion and eventually burnout.

A good way to reduce this mental fatigue is to start working on the things that are leading to stress.

Since you already know what you need to do but are stuck due to being overwhelmed, start by taking the right kinds of actions. As you cross over from knowing into doing, start with smaller tasks that have the most impact on reducing your stress.

Once you are done with these, go down the list of things you need to do until you are left with a manageable workload. By doing this, you will have moved from a stressful state and into one where you can manage your stress and avoid burnout.

Take a Nap

Naps are a great way to disconnect and refresh and recharge the brain. Many people turn to coffee or energy drinks when they feel exhausted but that is the wrong approach. Opt for a 20-minute nap instead and you will be much better off than if you took coffee or an energy drink.

Exercise Regularly

Did you know you feel more fatigued when you’re not exercising enough each day?

Exercise helps reduce stress and promotes a state of mental and physical well-being. Exercise can also make you feel a lot more energized, which can help you increase your productivity.

Regular physical training can also help you sleep better, which is another important way of avoiding burnout.

Instead of spending an extra inactive hour on the desk at work, why not go to a gym and work out? Or get a dog and then you have to go walking with it every day!

Find a Hobby

A hobby should not just be something you do at the weekend but something you are passionate about.

A hobby gives your body and mind a much-needed break from the weekly grind and allows you to reset for the coming day or week.

Nature is invigorating. Create a Zen garden or meet a friend and walk trails to get back to nature and feel instantly refreshed.

Summary

Avoiding burnout is much harder than it seems because of how we live our lives now. Remote working has relieved some of the stress of commuting however don’t fall into the trap of spending more time at your desk and on the computer.

Take the time you’ve got back doing something just for your wellbeing including some of the suggestions mentioned in this article.

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