How do you prepare your business for the year ahead?

A guest blog by Grant Ashfield

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It’s 2021 and the storm is still blowing.

The new year kicks off with the same uncertainties (and dangers) that we experienced in 2020.

The question on every leader’s mind right now is:

  • How do I prepare my business for the year ahead?

Now, more than ever, it’s necessary to manage a few things well.

These are the ‘few essential things’ to ensure you lead with impact in 2021.

1 Identify and win the right battles

Time, energy, and resources dictate now that you have to pick the right battles.

Select three. The three you must achieve with excellence or nothing else this year will really matter.

Use them to rally the business.

To align resources, energy, and action.

To sweep aside inertia. To build hope.

Selecting which three means making sense of your world.

Being truly in touch with reality… with your customer. Can you detect patterns in what’s happening around you? Patterns that put your business on the offensive.

Can you even go on the offensive in 2021?

Are you currently strong or is your business vulnerable? Honest, penetrating, inclusive discussions about what you must do and what you can do are essential right now.

It also means making choices.

You can’t do everything – not at the same time. Even if you want to. Too many priorities mean none at all. This is a general principle – but it’s never more true than in 2021.

Make choices and then make those things happen.


2 Create an effective top team

To make things happen you have to mould a true team.

A team that is able to focus all its efforts and resources on winning these battles.

This means submerging egos, eliminating politics and dismantling silo thinking. It’s time to go all in.

Remove all barriers that impede the team from coordinating seamlessly.

It’s also important to adopt the mindset that you will improvise, adapt and overcome. Whatever happens.

The leader – the Chief Executive – has a big role to play in setting the tone.

The most important action to take in 2021 is to ensure you have the right people in the right seats on the bus.

This is the only true antidote to an uncertain future.

People who respond quickly and know how to get things done.

Who are team players.

Who bounce back and rally others.

Who act with the right big picture motivations in place.

The team at the top includes your next layer of leaders. Work very, very hard to get the next 20, 50 or 100 people 100% committed to winning the battles.

Please don’t leave your next layer of leaders behind.


3 Over-invest in your culture

Now is the time that cultures get tested.

How you deal with customers, employees and other key people matters right now. These actions offer deep insight into the soul of your business… into who you really are.

This is what will be remembered long after the storm blows over.

Find opportunities to celebrate successes publicly. Or recognise employees who are living the values in the midst of the crisis.

Reinforce what you stand for.

The idea is to take positive action to reinforce what you stand for… the cultural values that underpin what you believe in.

It’s also worth remembering that 2020 showed us how resilient people are.

But there’s still a long way to go. Empathy, encouragement, authenticity, truth (told with kindness) is still the currency of our relationships.



A crisis creates a situation one can take advantage of. More so than when things are going well. It’s easier in a crisis to rally people in a single direction.

What’s more, opportunities abound in bad times as well as good times. Perhaps even more so.

The stage is set for change.

I hope you are able to make of this critical time a defining moment – one that will shape the future for many years to come.

We look forward to sharing the journey with you…

Grant Ashfield

Grant runs a leadership consultancy in South Africa. With Alex, Renias and the team he’s devised an amazing interactive documentary package to help:

  • Revitalise your team – for the tough road ahead
  • Re-energise your leaders – and refocus on what’s important
  • Build team spirit – with interpersonal relationships and trust

Intrigued? See the video clip here. And sign up here for the free taster session on Friday 29 January at 11am, hosted by our sister company Maximum Performance.

Categories: Boardroom, Training

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