Richard Medcalf, Author at Xquadrant
    Richard Medcalf

    Author Archives: Richard Medcalf

    Richard Medcalf is Founder & CEO of Xquadrant. Having held senior positions in both the professional services and tech sectors, he's committed himself to improving the quality of leadership and organisational performance around the world. The way to his heart is through curry.

    The New Leader’s 100 Day Plan

    18 powerful questions you need to ask

    If you’re taking on a new leadership role, your first 100 days are critical. As you’ll be aware, the stakes - for you and your organisation - are high. Check out this graphic from McKinsey, a consultancy:

    New leader 100 day plan - McKinsey

    As you can see, 90% of leaders who had a successful transition deliver on their three-year performance goals. But when leaders struggle through a transition, the performance of their direct reports is 15 percent lower than it would be with high-performing leaders.

    The problem with most advice on 100 Day Plans

    The idea of a new leader 100-day plan is common. There are plenty of articles and books on the topic. Whilst I’ve benefited from these myself, they tend to fall down in two ways:

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    4 Pitfalls of High Performers

    How to avoid the common traps that limit C-suite leaders' future success

    You’re a high achieving founder/executive with an impressive track record.

    You’re a quick-thinking strategic problem solver. You love the challenge of fast-moving, complex situations. You’re always among the first to catch a vision.

    But despite that, you don’t feel that special inside because of the deep sense that you could achieve so much more. You know you’re playing too small a game.

    Sounds familiar? You’re not alone.

    In my coaching and consulting work with incredibly impressive founders/C-Suite leaders and their teams, I’ve found four main pitfalls keep high performers from achieving their potential.

    In this document, I describe these pitfalls.

    You won’t necessarily find all apply to you. But my clients have demonstrated that when you overcome your top 1-2 issues on this list, your world and your legacy transform.

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    Recalibrate your leadership skill set

    Many leaders stop growing because they’re getting great reviews from their boss and strong feedback from their people.

    Unfortunately, they don’t realize they’re still only in the first phase of their leadership journey.

    Perhaps you’re getting results from your team that bolster your company’s bottom line. Your people respect you and look to you for direction. You know you’re an effective leader – maybe you’d even rate yourself as, say, an 8 out of 10.

    However, you might be using a scale made for people with more modest ambition.

    It’s time to recalibrate that scale to reveal the tremendous opportunities for growth--and to inspire yourself to reach for greater heights.

    How Coca-Cola recalibrated its idea of what was possible

    Look at how Coca Cola recalibrated its concept of what it had the ability to achieve. The company had already cornered over 65% of the international soft drink market – the height of success, one might say. However, instead of just patting themselves on the back for a job well done, executives realised they’d only cornered a small portion of the total drink market.

    Meanwhile, Pepsi dominated 77% of the sports drink market and 88% of coffee drinks. Now, Coca Cola too is focused on becoming a “total beverage company” that dominates in many different categories of drinks where it has boundless room for growth.

    The lesson: Don’t just luxuriate – and languish – in your success, and 

    • Re-calibrate your idea of what is possible for you to achieve in your own journey 
    • Evaluate yourself on a new leadership scale; a scale calibrated for people who want to leave behind a legacy of success
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    Scaling a company: Why leaders in tech fail to capture the market

    • Warning: This article has the potential to change your business and your personal leadership forever. If you’re looking for a quick piece of content candy, I advise you to skip this article and get back to work. However, if you know that what got your organisation here won’t be enough for its next phase of growth then you’re in the right place.

    The ugly truth is this. In fast-moving sectors like tech, 90% of smart and experienced business leaders - like you! - are going to fail to achieve the incredible results they envision.

    • Their organisation either fails to execute fast enough to fully seize the opportunity - and competitors capture the growth instead.
    • Or they experience fantastic growth but fail to put in place the foundations to sustain their success. The Kauffman Foundation found that 2/3 of the Inc. magazine’s list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies had shrunk, gone out of business, or been disadvantageously sold after 5-8 years.
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    Team Meetings: How to have better discussions

    Do you know this issue? You have very capable, strong performers on your leadership team, but team meetings and discussions are… unsatisfying!

    It’s so frustrating because you know the calibre of people in the room and you know the team could be accomplishing so much more together.

    Well, I’ve been working with a couple of really strong, high-performing leaders recently who had similar issues with their leadership team meetings.

    The problems?

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    How to avoid the common error that creates cynical and stagnant teams

    Time and time again leaders watch as pivotal moments get forgotten and real opportunity to play at a new level fades away. Here’s how to stop that from happening.

    How most leaders cripple team development

    We’ve all been there. You turn up to the annual team offsite meeting. You suddenly remember what happened at last year’s meeting.

    Or rather, what didn’t happen.

    The team had enthusiastically written a bunch of “game-changing” actions and initiatives on the whiteboard. And now, a year on, practically nothing has changed.

    Or perhaps you did some team development work, but the new behaviours the team committed to are completely forgotten.

    This can happen with the best of intentions. I’m working with a fantastic, senior leadership team. We made significant progress over a three-month period, and we were seeing gains in collaboration, alignment and stronger ownership of key business goals.

    But - year end happened, there were some contractual delays, then there was the start-of-year kick-off season. Before we’d noticed, four months had passed without any follow-up.

    Of course, momentum and focus took a huge hit.

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    How strong, powerful leaders actually undermine their own success

    Strong, strategic leaders are an incredible asset - but they can easily and permanently undermine the long-term success of the team. Here’s how you can avoid this common but often unseen pitfall.

    Superstar leader, strong team - but growing disengagement

    I was working with the Senior Leadership Team of a UK company.

    10 experienced people around the table, including a phenomenal, brilliant high-performer as their leader.

    Two people were taking up 50% of the “airtime” and engaging in vigorous debate. Add another two people, and 80% of the airtime was accounted for.

    That meant that six people’s contributions (60% of the team!) were squeezed into the remaining 20% of airtime.

    A recipe for disengagement, silo-thinking and underperformance.

    Now, we solved the issue but it’s important to understand what the dynamics were that created this problem in the first place. I’ll explain that in a second - but you need to understand the power of the Conqueror vantage point first.

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    How your team can start punching above its weight

    You might have a focused strategy, a great product and relentless execution, but if you fail to harness the power of one key leadership perspective in your team, your impact will remain moderate.

    In this article we’ll cover the key to skyrocket your team’s influence and achieve your goals faster than ever.

    But first, a quick story.

    How we rocketed to CEO-level visibility and impact

    At Cisco I was in a very strong leadership team, in an incredibly strong ‘elite’ business unit. However, our team’s impact soared and eclipsed many other parts of the business unit for one key reason: our team’s leader, my manager.

    Not necessarily the greatest at delivering detailed work, he was a master…. I mean MASTER… of networking and communication. He was promoted through the ranks at astonishing speed, leveraged his vast internal network to catapult the visibility and impact of the team, and ended up becoming personal friends with Chairman John Chambers and CEO Chuck Robbins.

    This relational strength allowed our team to have an impact far and beyond most other groups in the company, becoming the go-to resource for some of Cisco’s highest-visibility marketing campaigns and work with customers.

    Our manager was a multiplying factor… a true catalyst for our team’s impact.

    Ignore the Catalyst at your peril.

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    How to turn your team into an execution machine

    If you’re an entrepreneurial, visionary leader but are frustrated at your team’s performance or their reluctance to ‘get on board’, the good news is there’s a huge opportunity to increase performance.

    There’s an essential leadership perspective on your team that you may actually feel is holding you back, but in fact can make all the difference.

    A board of directors in conflict over future strategy

    I was on the board of a non-profit several years ago and there was tension in the air! The market had changed dramatically over the last couple of decades and signs of decline were starting to appear. As someone inclined to look at the world through a lens of innovation and growth, I had rather bold ideas to reimagine how we functioned and raise our game. A number of other people shared my perspective.

    Others on the board, however, were strongly opposed to what they saw as ripping up the success formula that had got us to where we were. They argued that we needed to get better at what we were already doing, whilst tightening our budget to reflect the facts of the situation.

    The situation got heated. We were at risk of splitting into factions.

    This is a classic progressive/conservative situation. In my clients, this often shows up as “visionary CEO vs pragmatic COO”.

    But before I explain how we resolved the situation, let’s step back and understand the leadership perspective that held the key to unlocking this situation.

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