Help to Grow: Management Course | Kingston University

Leading with Purpose and Authenticity

Mastering your capacity to be the best business leader comes along with finding your purpose, being your authentic self, and most importantly, not worrying about what others think.

But living in a world where performance and competition are rewarded from a very tender age, it becomes increasingly challenging not to get affected by the opinions of others. So, when your concept of self is inherently built on the preoccupation of what others think of you, often individuals, who are leading a workforce of hundreds and thousands, get on an inauthentic, mediocre, and joyless road; a path that only takes one to ineffective leadership.

So, how do high-performance coaches help their clients achieve what otherwise seems incessantly difficult and how do Fortune 500 companies still thrive in high-stakes environments? Mindset-training.

In his book, Finding Mastery, Michael Gervais talks broadly about why training our minds is the most important step in designing, building and strengthening a self-concept that we think truly matters to us. Not to others, but to us.

He explains, that our mind is our constant companion, accompanying us wherever we go – to the pitching deck or the boardroom. It serves as the unifying thread, weaving together our feelings, thoughts, and ability to concentrate on the tasks at hand. Whether grappling with emotions due to losing clients or tackling an internal company conflict, our mind is the ever-present tool that guides us through. Here is how you can also train your mind to master any area of your life or your business. The three things it comes down to are,

Identifying the principles that matter most to you in your life. Be radically committed to it. Once you know what those are, hydrate them and keep them alive in your action.

Mental Training: The greatest trick you could play on your mind is to tell it what you want it to hear. Imagine it for it to manifest.

Deep focusing is what many neuroscientists and Yoga practitioners recommend, but it is another way of refocusing. Keep coming back to what your purpose is and bring the focus back to it. Every time you get side-tracked by life’s or business challenges, deep focus and realign your mindset and actions with core principles.

In the end, mastering leadership comes to tune into your signals and strategically refusing to entertain noise by others.

We explore more about leadership and Innovation in Help to Grow Management:

Help to Grow: Management Course | Kingston University (

Start-up to Scale-up – Business world

You may have successfully established a start-up but now awaits for you an entirely different ballgame which you wouldn’t be able to win if you don’t know how to retain the main ingredients that initially helped your business started in the first place.

Let’s explore.

Ranjay Gulati, a Harvard Business School Professor calls it ‘a soul’. His recent research explored what mature companies would require to retain as they continue to grow intro larger and long-lasting organisations.

He says that all successful organisations have one thing in common: a soul. Their businesses have an essence which distinguishes them from others and oozes an energy with which a business attracts long-term growth and success. He warns that three components that compose a soul of any business, if not retained, can jolt the foundations of a company.

Those three elements are, business intent, customer connection and employee experience. By strategic business intent, he means to say, it is something intangible in start-ups whose presence company founders sense it. This ‘something essential’ translates into their offerings; service or products, which is eventually felt by employees, customers, and stakeholders they work closely with. This energetic enthusiasm which is felt at the beginning helps companies continue to inspire others. If the spirit is there, organisations can leverage engagement, remain agile and innovative. In the absence of a soul, everyone feels the loss.

Ranjay Gulati extensive research on more than dozen fast-growth venture and over 200 interviews with their founders and executives pointed out towards the second element of the soul, ‘Customer Connection’. He observed all successful companies shared a close bond with their customers. One of the company’s founders were so passionate about their brand, they even got a tattoo on their feet or legs. The idea behind customer connection is to intimately understand the needs of the people company’s offerings are targeted for and create a sense of belonging – what they feel and need, then offer them solutions to make their lives easier, better, recognisable.

The third element of a business’ soul is employee experience. This goes far and wide. Companies that create a space for autonomy and creativity fosters greater engagement and faster growth. First establishing the business intent, companies then create a space for employees to innovate within frameworks and guidelines.

To learn more about the Strategic innovation and organisational design:


Winning New Markets

Winning new markets is all about innovative and strategic thinking. It’s obvious to look at what your competitors are doing, but do you also know what your business’ substitutes sectors are? You understand who you are selling to, but have you also explored across the chain of buyers?

Back in 2011, UK’ biggest book retailer was struggling to keep its head up, drowning in the sea of defeated sales and entering the blackhole of bankruptcy, until something happened.

James Daunt, an investment banking professional, owner of Daunt books then took charge of the book retailer chain and rewrote the story of Waterstones’ success.

What did he do to combat bankruptcy and how did he do it?

Along with several changes as small as the presentation of a bookshelf and as big and complex as rethinking the business model and cutting head office cost; Waterstones was competing with the then-emerging phenomena of eBooks readership. As the eBook sales were soaring, the physical books sales were dropping. It is then Daunt identified an untapped market which was looking across complimentary products and services.

This untapped market was comprised of cafegoers and coffee-drinkers.

So, Daunt focused on opening their own independent-looking cafés and kissed-goodbye to costa. This alone has attracted a big and consistent influx of people into their bookstores and saved Waterstones from the brink of bankruptcy. In the last decade, Waterstones has expanded to over 300 bookstores and hundreds of its own cafes. This has been an important yet un-highlighted strategic offerings of food and beverages of Waterstones.

There were questions which required innovative solutions.

How can we bring a potential buyer inside the bookshop who wouldn’t normally go? Rethinking ways to get to customers.

Who is our customer? Reimagining the potential target market.


How can we add value to existing visitors who are buying our books but due to an added value, they would be willing to spend more, buy more, connect more? Looking across the emotional appeal to buyers.

The famous high street book retailer has also opened several independent bookshops without using its branding to expand its target market from book-buyers to small and independent bookshop supportive buyers. It has expanded dramatically and has also gone international.

So now the questions for you being an SME leader,

Where is your business standing?

Have you explored creating a new market for your business?

Learn more about internationalisation and winning new markets in our Module 3.


Good Friction vs Bad Friction


The very sound of it says stop, re-evaluate, reimagine.

Like Yin and Yang, opposite but inter-connected forces, friction can disrupt and change the direction of a workflow, business-relationships, and balance sheets. Strong leaderships know how to spot it, when to use it and which one to use. But despite all the intended goodwill and a claimed good strategy, business leaders often overlook it and misuse it.

So, what really is a good friction?

How can you spot it?

How can you introduce it?

And last but importantly,

How can you use it to fix the potholes of low performance, disengaged teams or a bad sales month for instance?

Good friction is a deliberate intervention means to help your taskforces, your clients and your stakeholders move towards a happier work culture and stronger businesses. As soon you identify the gaps and disengagements in processes, you gently but firmly create a friction and make a space for changed systems to come alive. This might bring discomfort at first, but once you hit at the right spot, it creates ripples affect. For example, if delays are seen in a project delivery due to lengthy chain of bureaucracy.  Why don’t you enable easy, quick and autonomous pathway of decision making to have engaged, confident and happier workforce?

Think about the problem and ask yourself how I can help.

Now bad business leaders, use friction to exercise their authority, mask their incompetence or use it as a coping mechanism to hide from their own burning out and workload. Instead of incorporating agile processes, they use complex ones; instead of enabling an agency of working well and feeling good to have well-built clientele and a sturdy business, they insist on deploying rigid and tiresome processes.

Choose your friction wisely and choose it empathetically.