Help to Grow: Management Course | Kingston University

Growing into a Senior Manager

Advancing from mid-level to senior management and leadership can be challenging, even for talented and ambitious professionals. External factors like limited organisational needs, budget constraints, or long-standing incumbents in desired positions can slow progress and this applies to all industries from the automotive industry to health. These challenges were recently discussed in the Harvard Business Review Podcast, Women at work, hosted by Amy Bernstein.

The insightful conversation explored ways to overcome mid-career stagnation, especially for women. Despite some factors beyond your control such as limited higher-level positions available, being seen as the person you were when you started, not who you’ve become, and lack of opportunities to gain the required experience for higher roles, there are still some aspects you have full control over as rightly pointed out by Lauren Reyes and Megan Bock.

Some of the takeaways from the podcast are,

  1. To move up, it’s important to:
    • Clearly articulate your desire for advancement to leadership.
    • Make a business case for your promotion or a new senior role.
    • Build relationships and visibility with influential people inside and outside your organisation.
  2. Be willing to take calculated risks:
    • Apply for roles you may not feel 100% qualified for
    • Consider moving to a new organisation that sees your potential.
    • Relocate if necessary for the right opportunity.
  3. Strategies for advancement include:
    • Hiring an executive coach.
    • Completing leadership development programmes such as Help to Grow Management at Kingston University.
    • Proposing new roles or projects that showcase senior leadership skills.
    • Building a network across your industry.
  4. To change perceptions:
    • Take on high-visibility projects outside your usual role.
    • Identify and solve organisational problems proactively.
    • Build relationships with leaders outside your direct chain of command.
    • Showcase your expertise through speaking, writing, or social media.
  5. Be strategic about career moves:
    • Create a long-term career map to guide decisions.
    • Ensure each move aligns with your ultimate goals.
    • Consider both short-term opportunities and long-term fit.

Moving up requires leaving you comfort zone but untapped opportunities both internal and external may value your potential more than what you are receiving now. By following these strategies and being willing to take smart risks, middle managers can position themselves for advancement into senior leadership roles.


Navigating the Maze of Multichannel Marketing Strategy

Let’s face it: marketing today feels like trying to juggle while riding a unicycle for many small and medium-sized businesses. We’re bombarded with countless ways to reach our customers, from the good old TV ad to the latest TikTok trend. It is hard not to make your head spin. But here’s the thing – this multichannel madness isn’t going away. So, how do we make sense of it all without losing our minds or our customers?

First off, plastering your message across every platform known to mankind is not any useful. Instead, think of it like hosting the perfect dinner party. You want to create an experience that feels seamless and welcoming, no matter how your guests arrive.

Now, let’s talk about personalisation. We’ve all got those emails that start with “Dear Valued Customer” but in 2024, that just doesn’t cut it. People want to feel seen and understood. You can use the data you have responsibly to tailor your message. It is the difference between shouting into a crowd and having a conversation with a friend.

Speaking of friends, let’s not forget our trusty sidekick: the smartphone. These little devices have become extensions of ourselves. If your marketing isn’t mobile-friendly, you might as well be sending smoke signals. Run a test on all your proposed marketing channels to see

Here’s where it gets tricky: measuring success. With so many channels, it’s tempting to focus on vanity metrics like likes or views. But at the end of the day, what really matters? Sales? Brand loyalty? Customer happiness?

Of course, this marketing strategy using multi-channels isn’t without its bumps. Data privacy is a hot topic, and rightly so. We need to be responsible with the information our customers trust us with. And let’s be honest, keeping up with every new platform that pops up is exhausting. The key is to stay curious and adaptable, without chasing every shiny new trend. You don’t necessarily need to adapt to every emerging digital tools, be it for operational use or for marketing.

Looking ahead, voice search is becoming huge (hey Alexa, order more coffee!), and augmented reality is blurring the lines between digital and physical even further. But no matter what fancy new tech comes along, the fundamentals remain the same: understand your customer and their problem, be where they are, and offer genuine value.

At the end of the day, multichannel marketing strategy is all about understanding your customers’ needs, meeting them where they are, and creating experiences that connect.

Disruptive Innovation: Yay or Nay?

In today’s fast-paced business world, the mantra for small and medium-sized enterprises and businesses (SMBs and SMEs) is clear: disrupt or be disrupted. But what exactly is disruptive innovation, and why does it matter so much?

Coined by Clayton Christensen in “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” disruptive innovation refers to a process where a smaller company with fewer resources successfully challenges established businesses. These innovations often start in low-end or new market footholds, initially underperforming established products in mainstream markets. However, they gain traction by offering more suitable functionality—often at a lower price—and eventually move upmarket to challenge industry leaders.

To understand disruptive innovation, it’s helpful to contrast it with sustaining innovation. While sustaining innovation improves existing products for current customers, disruptive innovation targets overlooked segments, often with lower initial quality but at a lower price point. It introduces new business models and carries higher risk, but with the potential for industry-wide change.

Some of the real-world examples abound; Netflix disrupted traditional video rental with its DVD-by-mail service and later streaming, transforming entertainment consumption. Airbnb created a new market for private accommodations, challenging the hotel industry. Tesla’s electric vehicles and direct-to-consumer model accelerated the shift to sustainable transportation. Uber’s ride-hailing app revolutionized urban transportation, disrupting the taxi industry.

So, how can SMEs foster disruptive innovation? Here are key strategies:

  1. Create a culture of experimentation, encouraging risk-taking and learning from failures.
  2. Focus on unmet customer needs through extensive market research and design thinking.
  3. Invest in emerging technologies and consider partnering with or acquiring promising startups.
  4. Prioritise long-term success over short-term profits; means sustainable business model and practices.
  5. Embrace open innovation by collaborating with external partners and diverse perspectives.

Innovation experts emphasise the importance of this approach. Clayton Christensen warns, “Disruptive innovation can hurt if you’re not the one doing the disrupting.” Steve Jobs asserted, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Jeff Bezos advocates for customer focus, allowing for more pioneering work. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings notes, “Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.” Ignoring disruptive trends can result in loss of market share, obsolescence of core products, and declining revenue and profitability.

For those wanting to dive deeper, recommended reads include “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen, “Zero to One” by Peter Thiel, and “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries.

It’s important for us to realise that the change is constant and disruptive innovation isn’t just a buzzword—it’s a survival strategy. By understanding and embracing it, small and medium sized business leaders can stay ahead of the curve, create new markets, and drive meaningful progress. The choice is clear: disrupt or be disrupted. Do you agree?


The Power of Customer Referrals

In business world, finding new customers can be tough and expensive. Yet, one of the most effective strategies is often right in front of us: customer referrals.

Recently a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article ‘Research: Customer Referrals Are Contagious by Rachel Gershon, Zhenling Jiang, Will Fraser and Jitendra Gupta enfolded some compelling reasons why customer referrals are so important, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and those focusing on growth leadership within limited resources.

Referral Contagion

The magic of customer referrals lies in trust. According to the authors, when a potential customer hears about your product or service from someone they know and trust, it carries much more weight than any advertisement. For SMEs, which often rely on word-of-mouth to build their brand, this trust can be a game-changer. Referred customers are not just more likely to trust your brand—they’re also more likely to make a purchase.

But this goes beyond one purchase according to the authors. Backed by the data from over 4 million customers, they discovered that those who join through referral make more purchases than those customers who purchased using other methods. They also found out that a whopping 30% – 57% of new customers get in through those who joined through referrals. The authors coined the term “referral contagion — the tendency for referred customers to bring in more referrals.”

They investigated it from the lens of homophily, a concept that describes the tendency of individuals to build social networks with those who are similar to them. It leads to the phenomenon that if a customer likes a brand, they may have friends who would also like it.

Furthermore, the authors also discovered another key driving factor of referral contagion using controlled experiments. They found out that referred customers are more likely to refer to others as compared to non-referred customers.

If you would like to read more on this, go to the original article:

Impactful communication: In the world of AI, ChatGPT

Businesses are still struggling to create an impact and establish strong connections with their customers despite the available help from emerging AI-powered digital tools such as ChatGPT, etc. So what is missing?

Recently, Jude Faultless has delivered a session on impactful communication at Kingston Business School. The session was part of the Future of Work Summit, organised by Kingston Chambers of Commerce.

The overall session was insightful, but it particularly brought forward some interesting perspectives on how communication could create a far greater impact if the needs of a buyer are kept at the heart of a business. Yet some of us fixate on what we want to sell instead of what needs there might be of a person who is going to buy. We can change that and do the opposite instead – find where our customers are and know what problems they are facing. With this reversing, we can create a value in our product that our customers need.

Some of the other takeaways from Jude Faultless’ session are, assessing what communication strategies, tools and frameworks are working and also realising what needs to go. One of the ways to test is by checking, Who stops scrolling when we want to speak to them? We can invest hundreds of pounds targeting larger sections and bring our marketing content in front of the queue but if a user still scrolls past our call for action post, what value does the reach have? Measuring reach and regularly assessing organic and paid socials are important in understanding fast-moving and disruptive trends and the implications for a business.

Another interesting factor discussed in the session was to create a bigger impact requires staying relevant. Relevance is a bridge between a business and its customer. If a business is not relevant to its customers’ needs, there is no quantifiable success; no matter how exceptionally great a product or service is.  This applies to all aspects and stages of a business. From content creation to the delivery channels, choosing what problem is a product solving for its user is the key. Find out why they need it, where they need it, and where they might need it. If a customer is watching Tiktok, don’t use email marketing. Jude Faultless emphasised on staying relevant.

Lastly, nearly all products and services have an emotional value even if it may not look like there is. What problem is your business solving and what strings of emotion is it touching?

Leading by changing the rules of the games

In the quest to create new wealth, world top businesses  have applied unconventional strategies and innovative approaches. This would not have been possible without questioning the existing business strategy frameworks and radically changing the basis of their competition in their industries.

But what motivates a leadership team to get on a strategic transformation in the first place?

For some businesses, it is a threat from a disruptive competitor or environment such as Covid-19 and sometimes, businesses get on the bandwagon of global megatrends – one of those roadblocks when you are forced into a certain direction to survive.

However, strategic thinking and systematic planning for the future are perhaps one of the most imperative driving forces for wealthy companies why they introduce a core business to disruptive transformations while paving a path for new growth. It is surely an uncomfortable place for a business and its people to be  in but it is also the most fertile.

In order to better understand the transformations and the derivatives behind them, the Innosight research team came up with a methodology to evaluate strategic change efforts. In their research, they aimed towards the best practices across industries instead of being blindfolded by the metrics such as market value, revenue, or subjective and generic assessments such as ‘most innovative’. They name 3 methodologies to determine the legitimacy of innovation and transformation a business has achieved.

The first of them is New growth. Investigating quantifiable growth and questioning, has the business achieved measurable success at creating new products, services, markets and new business models? Using their primary metric which is the percentages of revenue outside the core, they look at the percent of revenue that falls out of their existing core growth areas.

Second of that is Repositioning the core. As the title suggests, it is to investigate whether the transformation reflecting from what the numbers has come from the applied change or is it still stinking old? An important question, how effectively the company transformed its old and core into a disrupted and new.

Lastly, Financials. If the numbers are not proposing the new growth, we may have a problem there in the long run if not the short. Has the return rate been reflected in the new areas? What is their market performance?  Have losses been recovered? Is it on a slow growth to revive the business? How are their new products or services performing on their balance sheet?

What questions are you asking?