As the severity of the global economic crisis becomes more
evident, particularly in the EU, how will New Zealand business
owners respond? Will we continue to place our bets on improving
conditions for our survival or are we witnessing the emergence
of a new order? If so, what options are available to us to
mitigate the challenges in order to generate growth or will we
view growth as unrealistic and opt for further cuts to boost
While we as a nation are not entirely exposed to the EU’s woes,
we are not completely immune to their predicament either meaning
we need to figure out how we will not only survive the next
round, but how we will prosper over the longer term.
Despite the fact I am neither an economist nor a futurist, there
is more than enough evidence to suggest the world has changed
and changed for good. The implications of these changes are
profound and yet it seems too many at the helm are waiting on
the side-lines for things to come right rather than configuring
their businesses in light of the current market for today.
There is no doubt constrained or retracting markets are not
necessarily bad for all as they force us to examine our
businesses in ways we may otherwise be disinclined to do.
However leaving things as they are for as long as we can given
what we are facing, as many seem to be doing, may not be the
I find it interesting that while the majority of leaders are well
aware of the challenges, too few seem willing to explore in
detail more pragmatic and appropriate solutions.
Economist Raghuram Rajan, Professor of Finance at the University
of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, alluded to this when
invited to comment as a member of Time’s panel of experts at the
World Economic Forum in Davos by saying a key to our economic
recovery is ‘to improve the capability of our workforce in order
to improve their productivity.’
While this isn’t new, the problem for many is they seem to
believe the only way to improve their productivity (once the
inefficiencies have been addressed) is to invest in new
technology rather than thinking about how to improve the
performance of their people through deliberate, performance
focussed intervention – achieved through better leadership.
Having enjoyed the best economic conditions in history (only a
few years ago), most companies became comfortable with their
performance – not because it was necessarily good, but because
it satisfied shareholder expectations. As things began to
tighten up, it became evident to most they could squeeze out a
reasonable return by improving their efficiencies. However, as
many are now discovering, they have found themselves in the
unenviable position where there is little more they can do
without seriously large scale investment. While such a
realisation may be unnerving, it is vital we accept it was never
the entire solution.
During the past couple of years an increasing number of the world
‘s leading companies have said improving the performance of their
people has become so important to their success, it is now their
number one priority. Unfortunately here in New Zealand this idea
tends to sit far lower on our list of priorities. Why, when so
many of the world’s best are explicit in their views that this
is the next big thing, are we so reluctant to engage in this
debate – that is, the debate about ‘how to enable our leaders to
do it’, not the preceding debate about whether we should
‘consider’ it. Having observed such discussions over the years I
believe the reason most would prefer to put it off if they can
is because they are afraid they will fall short of expectations
and thus expose their limitations.
The fact of the matter is most productivity gains achieved during
the past 100 years can – according to experts – be almost
entirely attributed to technological advancements alone. What
this means, assuming it is true, is that we have failed to make
any meaningful headway in terms of increasing our people’s
ability to perform, we have simply given them better tools to do
their job more quickly i.e. it implies our leaders are no more
capable of influencing the performance of their workforce today
than their forebears were a century ago. It is interesting to
note however that employee engagement levels are continuing to
fall and yet their need for greater security is continuing to
rise. If managers joined the dots between the two they would
recognise their workforce is in a position where it is perhaps
more receptive than ever before to be challenged and developed -
or put another way, to be led.
I believe improving our workforces’ effectiveness – and thus the
value of their contribution – is the new frontier. By that I
mean I am of the view that improving people’s ability to add
greater value to their employer is where the money will lie in
the future. If we were to agree with American economist Paul
Krugman’s notion that improving profitability is largely
dependent on our ability to improve productivity, we have to
consider our managers’ ability to increase their team’s capacity.
In other words, until we recognise that our ability to improve
our people’s performance and productivity is the key to our
success, we will be unlikely to improve our organisations
results let alone our nation’s prosperity.
Regrettably, most managers I have spoken with over the years tend
to assume the only way to improve their team’s effectiveness is
to either improve their ability to manage their time and
resources more wisely or up skill their workforce with better
technical capabilities in order to become more able. While these
things are of course vital, they tend to support the incremental.
The change I am suggesting we explore is different. It is notable
and in terms of outcomes often radical. I am talking about the
idea of equipping people with the goods to not only step up to a
new level of performance, but to equip them with the skills
(tools and know-how) to excel.
It is this change, the change in one’s mind-set and capacity that
separates those who win from those who try. It is the
diffrerence between you being at your very best versus turning
up and falling short. It is the difference between your people
producing results that deliver growth versus meeting the budget
for no material benefit. It is the difference between Michael
Campbell winning the US open or missing the cut yet again. It is
the difference between the All Blacks winning by 30 points and
being upstaged in the final quarter. It is the difference
between the Black Caps winning by 40 runs or capitulating
throughout the order. It is the difference between the Breakers
winning the Championship or being out done by those below them.
In other words, the difference between a person’s very best
performance (based on their potential) and their average
performance is the difference between success and failure. If we
focussed on ‘enabling’ our people to excel, in the truest sense
of the word, our organisations would produce a different outcome
as alluded to by Raghuram Rajan.
To give you an example, the first company we were ‘officially’
invited to assist increased their sales by over 400% in three
months. What is interesting about their particular situation is
they were the only franchise out of a total of 40 in New Zealand
to increase their sales that quarter. The question one might ask
is why was this team able to produce such an extraordinary
result when their colleagues around the country – all 100% of
them – fell short of expectations? The fact of the matter is,
they were selling the same products in the same (economic)
market to the same demographic and yet they produced a result
that not only stunned the organisation, it caused them to search
for justifiable reasons as it was presumed impossible based on
the market conditions.
In simple terms, what this company did that their compatriots did
not was to explore how they could enable their people to advance.
After examining the challenges, they came to believe their
people had the potential to improve and that if they managed to
achieve this, it would make an enormous difference to their
bottom line. In fairness it was the organisations change in mind
-set, as a result of their improving leadership, that instigated
the development process that made the real difference. By that I
mean the directors had both the foresight and wisdom to reassess
how they viewed their people given they knew they could be more
than just a resource they required in order to operate, they
could be the key to their company’s success. As a result, they
started to engage their people in a very different way than
previously and as a result, drove an entirely different
conversation that built a more distinctive and formidable
The net result of this intervention was that they improved their
workforces’ ability to perform their tasks in a vastly different
manner than their colleagues which in turn led to them producing
an entirely different outcome.
When we think about the term ‘performance’, we often associate it
with sport, yet we tend not to think about the things that would
enable ‘our’ people to perform in a business sense beyond their
technical skills and experience. In other words, it is easy to
appreciate the need to equip an athlete with the goods to excel,
yet we may not think about the difference those things would
make to those we employ. The reason this is important is because
many organisations make the mistake of benchmarking their
performance against the competition rather than thinking about
how well their people are performing against their assumed
For this reason I would encourage you to take another look at
your team in the hope it may prompt you to commence a deeper
conversation amongst your leaders about what could be done to
enable your people to become that much better at what they do -
because there is no doubt a team with greater skills than their
competitors will have a meaningful advantage, however a team
with greater skills and increased capacity i.e. a winning
mind-set, will ultimately become the champions.
Next month we will examine the correlation between business and
sport in order to explore how you can leverage some of the
strategies utilised by leading coaches.
If you would like to know how we can help your leadership team
commence a new era in terms of performance, call us, we will
equip you with the tools to achieve it.
Congratulations to Kane Radford for winning the Taupo open water
event and in doing so, securing the opportunity to qualify for
On the 2nd and 3rd of April we will be running our first
Leadership Performance cp ’group’ programme of the year.
If you would like to attend this programme, or consider
joining us on one of our other ‘group’ programmes later
in the year, please refer to the programme schedule on our
website or call us for details.
Working with Craig has been outstandingly beneficial for myself and my business. Craig’s skills within sport are totally transferable to business where leadership, responsibility and focus are prime requirements
Since completing Craig’s programme four months ago we have achieved the best sales results in our ten-year history. We exceeded our quarterly sales target by 407% and improved our nationwide standing from tenth position to first
Completing this programme will make a permanent change to the way I perform.
Craig’s impact on our business has been invaluable. Our sales are at an all time high and our profitability the best it has been in years. I highly recommend any organisation seriously committed to developing the performance of their people take the time to speak with Craig.
This is without question the best leadership course I have ever come across.
Completing Craig Steel’s Strategic Performance Template enabled our partnership to identify and align around a unified strategy as well as providing a mechanism to successfully communicate and implement that strategy: this process has helped us generate a real change in focus as we move towards a high performance culture.
Improving the performance capability of our leaders has been a key strategic driver for us in recent years. Craig’s extraordinary process and obvious ability have proven such an effective combination, we have made it our primary leadership development tool.
Craig’s coaching ability and depth of understanding allowed us to achieve the ‘almost impossible’. A major culture change has occurred within our company.
We completed Craig Steel’s Strategic Performance Template under his guidance and achieved a fantastic outcome. The simplicity and clarity of his template enabled us to gain rapid alignment around a coherent strategy and goal set.
Thoroughly enjoyed it – an invaluable, and life changing experience.
Even though we have a lot of talented people here, Craig has helped us to be better than we would otherwise. People are a lot closer to the business, a lot more focused. We’ve had more than tenfold worth of benefit out of him.
Craig Steel’s performance improvement programmes are profound as they address the very essence of human performance
The potential for Craig Steel’s process to improve an organisations performance is staggering.
Completing this programme has definitely given us a competitive edge. There is no doubt the programme will pay for itself over and over again as a result of the improvements we make. We certainly recommend it.
Craig Steel’s Strategic Performance Template is an extremely effective process while simultaneously being very straightforward to execute. It has provided us with an efficient way to connect the dots between our long term strategic vision and our short term goals, thus allowing us to clearly communicate our priorities and motivations to our team.
As a top level coach for the past 20 years I have not worked with anyone, sports psychologist or other, who has had the effect on athletes that Craig has had.
Of all the training tools I have ever used, Pro-Sport has had the biggest impact on my performance by far. I consider Craig to have been a key factor in my success this season.
Working with Craig on an on-going basis provides me with the additional performance tools necessary to succeed.
Craig challenged our perceptions of what is, or could, hold back our performance. The simplicity, relevance and empowerment of the tools he gave us exceeded our expectations.
I consider myself extremely fortunate as an elite member of the national swimming team to have had access to someone of Craig Steel’s calibre while living and training in New Zealand.
Unlike most management training programmes I have seen, Craig’s process deals with the real issues that inhibit performance.
Craig Steel’s programmes are not for the faint hearted. They are not designed to help enthusiastic amateurs improve. These are world-class programmes designed for companies who are serious about performance become true international champions.
Craig.s performance improvement programmes have been of immense value for our people whom we recognise as the ultimate foundation and drivers of our business.
Over the past 8 years in real estate, I have made a conscious decision to attend as much training as possible. The two day compact programme I attended with Craig Steel was by far the best training course I have ever experienced. If you want to progress with a career in sales, attend this programme.
The programme was fantastic. I take my hat off to our management team for putting us through it. I think it is the best thing they have ever done.
Working with Craig was an instrumental factor in my return to form.
This is without question the best performance training programme I have ever encountered.
Craig Steel is by far the most thought provoking presenter I have ever listened to. When he speaks his words resonate a depth of understanding that is instantly recognised. He not only provides the wisdom but gives you the ‘how’. Craig has a presence and knowing that is rare. His message was both inspiring and exciting in its simplicity and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to excel.
Craig’s process has given me an exceptional set of tools that enable me to deliver on my potential. The impact these tools have had on my performance is phenomenal
The result we achieved from the two day strategic planning process Craig Steel ran for our Executive team was remarkable.
Craig’s programme is brilliant and offers an incredible insight into the secrets of human performance.
Having Craig engaged in our business has been transformational – not just for my team and business performance, but in delivering the kind of capability shift in individuals that is fundamental in today’s increasingly competitive environment. His insights and tools offer profound opportunity for change.
I used Craig’s performance improvement process in order to further myself as an international athlete. During that time his principles enabled me to improve my mental attitude (and understanding) tremendously, while my results improved dramatically.
The potential for Craig Steel’s work in the business world is enormous
Craig Steel’s work is an essential point of difference to how our company does business.
Craig Steel is the best kept secret in New Zealand business.
Craig’s process has shown us how to think differently. The performance results we have achieved are both impressive and permanent.
Craig’s understanding of performance is impressive. This understanding serves him extremely well as a performance advisor for myself and my leadership team
Pro-Sport is the most logical and powerful mental training programme I have ever seen. The impact it has had on my top students is dramatic. I highly recommend coaches use Craig’s programme to prepare their elite athletes for competition.
Completing Craig Steel’s performance improvement programme has definitely lifted our performance. We have tripled our historical growth rate in the past year.
Craig’s programme was immensely valuable and will return us significant long term benefits.
Exceptional – every motivated business leader should do it.
The two day Sales Manager programme we completed with Craig Steel was in my opinion (after twenty two years in real estate), the most thought provoking and inspiring I have attended. The wisdom, knowledge and ‘know-how’ is something that will affect all facets of my life. If you have a desire to succeed in sales, this programme is a must.
Succeeding at the highest level in sport requires more than just physical ability; athletes have to be equally as strong mentally. Craig’s extraordinary insight and understanding of performance makes this process achievable.
You have created a product others in the leadership training and development arena either can’t or won’t attempt to enter … immensely valuable.