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Looking Ahead to 2023

Graham is joined by fellow coach Jed Hassid from Purple Performance to look ahead to 2023 and discuss what challenges leaders might expect this year and what to plan for.

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Graham: As we go full speed into 2023, I'm joined by my great friend Jed Hassid, and we're going to look forward and share our views of what the next 12 months may bring for all of us in the business community and in the leadership coaching community.

Jed, we've known each other a long time, worked together for years and years. You have a very successful coaching and marketing advisory practice. Could you just perhaps give an insight into the work that you do and the people that you help so that our audience can understand who you are?

Jed: Yes. I typically work with curious owners and senior leaders with a curiosity in small to medium-sized companies who are really questioning how they can go to the next level, and how they can drive growth, even in these challenging times in which we are operating. They are typically looking for help in gaining a different perspective or two through which to consider their growth options and the way that they allocate their scarce time and money to achieve the best returns.

Graham: Are your clients in any particular sectors? Did or do you work across the economy?

Jed: My background is typically in the service industry, and therefore I tend to spend most of my time in the service industry. I work to a point with manufacturers, but there is a level beyond which my knowledge and experience go. I tend to work for the most part in the service industry.

Graham: So can you remember what Christmas was like in your household and indeed what the New Year's celebrations were?

Jed: Was all that just a big haze now - it was, it was great fun. It was great to be back with people as opposed to, respectfully, meeting people on Zoom and Teams and all that kind of stuff. So, actually being with people was just fantastic.

Graham: As you go into 2023, do you have any New Year's resolutions?

Jed: Yes, to work on my own mental health. Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I've been active in sports and physical activity and so taken care of my physical wellbeing, but mentally, I've started to be more conscious -as I think a lot of people have - about one's mental health and wellbeing. I really enjoy my work, but there is a balance and we just need to be far more (or I need to be far more) conscious of getting an appropriate balance.

Graham: I think it's interesting, that definitely is less taboo now than ever. I think we're stronger for it. I think it does give us an opportunity for people to say I need help. I've got a problem, or to seek help in the sense of finding their own solutions. And in the way that you just mentioned in terms of trying to address, balance and making sure we are aware of the need to focus on their own wellbeing as well. It is definitely a shift that I've seen in my practice, I've seen amongst my clients and obviously in my own private life as well.

Similar to yourself. It is definitely something that's now much more out there and much more received.

So as we go into 2023 - which couldn't have been any more uncertain, any more unpredictable, or any more difficult in the business world - What do you see for 2023?

Jed: Well, you and I have chatted about Ukraine and energy prices and inflation in the past and unfortunately, I can see that each of those issues is going to a greater or lesser extent continue to play out and affect the business environment.

I think there are some interesting signs of improvement at a macro level - it appears that the inflation rate in the USA has passed its peak. That genuinely leads to an improvement in their economy, which hopefully improves the global economy. I think in the USA there will be a degree of challenge as they gear up for their presidential election, and who knows where that will lead. So clearly there are some uncertainties there.

I think there are some other macro shifts knocking around that also might lead to medium-term opportunities that we should start to be thinking about. So for example, I was reading recently that next year India will become the world's most populous country, exceeding China. And if one thinks about that in terms of exporting, but also perhaps maybe accessing some of their technical skills and digital technology skills in India, that could offer a number of opportunities for us here in the UK.

The other thing that comes to mind as we've been talking about energy prices and we've all seen be it business or be it personal, the huge increase in our bills. As you know, the prices of oil and gas have affected us, but that is likely to develop a movement towards net zero and, and carbon neutrality and renewables. So there are for some of us in certain sectors of the economy, there are some substantial opportunities to help in that shift towards a more 'sustainable' future.

Graham: Do you see any emerging trends amongst your clients? Any emerging themes, common, common situations, albeit in very different businesses?

Jed: I work with a fair number of family-run organisations and a theme, a trend that has been around for a number of years is the transference between the founding generation and the second generation - the ability to give the second generation a level of experience, a breadth of experience, a breadth of perspective, continues to be something that is really important. That can be delivered through coaching, but it can also be delivered through a number of mechanisms.

I was chatting with one business and suggesting that the owner's daughter took a job in the European Union within the same industry just to get an understanding or a better understanding from a different perspective of their particular industry. So, you know, I think those trends will continue.

I think the other really interesting thing is the return to work. We touched on zoom and teams meetings and being remote, but I am seeing a number of companies really encouraging people to return to the office. Now in financial services, the term encouraging people to return is perhaps slightly more by edict, but for a number of other industries and some of the clients that I'm working with, people are encouraging people to return to the office for obvious reasons - in terms of improving or trying to improve productivity - but also for mental health reasons. Returning to work boosts that level of human connectivity that is so important and the empathy that people have, the importance of that human connection.

Empathy, the water cooler conversations, and looking out for people, I think increasingly seen to be really important and ultimately that will flow through into business performance.

Graham: Yes it's interesting. I think it's difficult as a business coach, it's difficult not to put everything in the context of macroeconomic events or situations. So, for example, none of us knows exactly how Ukraine will unfold during the course of 2023, and that could be that one end hostilities come to an end and at the other end they just get right out of hand. And who knows what knock-on effects that will have, whether it's energy, prices or anything else for that matter. You can't ignore the fact that we will still be living with inflation for the rest of this year, albeit hopefully having peaked and slowing down. But nonetheless, prices will have shifted enormously from where they were in 2021.

You can't ignore all of those big-picture things. They are there. And as a coach, you need to make sure your client is seeing things in those sorts of contexts, but at the same time, as an individual business leader, as an individual business, your personal circumstances might be wildly different. You might be looking at some kind of liquidity where you want to retire. You might be looking to pass on to the next generation. You might be wanting to make an investment and grow your business. All sorts of things could be going on, which are completely contrary or contradictory to that. Picture the context that you've just explained and painted, and I'm seeing increasingly in my practice, the sorts of things that you are seeing.

Definitely, the return to work is becoming higher on the agenda. Not necessarily nine to five, five days a week, but definitely whatever hybrid is beginning to get a shape for people. And what they need, what the team members need from the relationship, as well as what the organisation needs from the relationship beginning to make some kind of solid sense.

I'm also seeing that business leaders are coping well with quite extreme levels of change, whether it. Need to drive efficiency through labour costs, need to drive efficiency through energy costs or whether it's fine new markets because Brexit has damaged existing markets or made difficult trading relationships even more difficult.

Whatever their context is, they are now absolutely resigned and strengthened by the experience of the Covid Pandemic and all of the things that have happened since that, they've developed more agility, they've developed, more responsiveness and almost thicker skin to some extent. So those are the sort of things I've seen.

If I look ahead into 2023 from my client's point of view, I don't think it's more of the same. I think it's going to be let's make the most of what we are being given and deal with the things that we can deal with and everything else will just have to unfold as it will because I can't control it.

I think that's an increasingly strong sign that we will as an economy, and as a nation, get through this period, this difficult time as successfully as we can. I think that's really interesting.

Jed: Graham, one thing that does go through the mind is that these pandemics come around every 50, 60, 70 years. I think the frequency with which these types of health, global health events, take place is going to increase. And so I think we, we need to be able to maintain that level of resilience and, and agility to be able to cope with the next event of a hopefully not so severe, but nevertheless, a global health event, not least because of the, of the global nature of the economy. So it's not a question of 'that's over and that won't affect us for another 50 odd years'. Actually, keep that ability to move quickly and with agility, reasonably close to the top of your capability, and activity.

Graham: There are benefits of all of the uncertainty of the last two or three years that I think business owners and leaders have learned to take stuff in their stride. That doesn't mean that they haven't wished it hadn't happened, it doesn't mean it hasn't been difficult. That's not to underplay it, but I do think people have risen to the challenge very successfully, and I think that we can see more of that in 2023.

Are there any other big themes you think for your clients for 2023 that that may well come down the hill at them from where you are seeing it and they might not yet be aware?

Jed: I think the short answer to that is no. The longer answer is I think some of the themes that we are aware of at the moment will continue to impact our economic and business lives. So for example, the economic relationship that the UK has with the EU needs to be sorted at a governmental level, not making a political point, but it does need to be improved. Having said that, if you are doing business in the European Union, there are things that are happening in the EU, for example, around corporate sustainability, that will mean that you are going to be affected by the need to report on what you are doing in that area of corporate sustainability because you are trading with the EU and operating within its borders.

So, whilst we might be out of the EU - we are still affected by their rules and regulations whether we like it or. So, being aware of net zero and carbon neutrality, and sustainability within the UK all if we are wanting to trade and take advantage of some of the economic opportunities that exist outside of the UK then we absolutely need to be able to demonstrate our resilience and our sustainability from an ESG perspective. I think that will become increasingly important through 2023.

Graham: Yeah, I agree with that. I think it's an interesting perspective and this is not a political point in any way at all, but anybody who owns and runs a business knows that they have to meet what their customer demands. And if that is a particular product in a particular way to a particular standard or a particular price in a particular format, then that's what you've got to give them. And in the context of trading with anybody, whether it's the EU, whether it's India, whether it's China, whether it's Australia, whatever you're doing, you're going to have to meet their needs. And their needs may be regulatory, it may just be local market needs, but if you don't meet them, then you will find it very difficult to sell your product or service.

And as was always the case, adapting what you've got for your customer will always be the highest priority, and I can see more of that during 2023, particularly as you've already mentioned around ESG in the same way that the pandemic is beginning to pan out and hybrid working is beginning to become a bit more pragmatic and a bit clearer, I think the truth around ESG in 2023 is that what is really ESG and what businesses are really going to want to do need to do to demonstrate their movement in responsibility sharing. I think it's going to become increasingly clear as we go through 2023, and that could be another one of these topics that gets higher up the agenda.

Jed Hassid is a performance coach at Purple Performance.


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