NextAdvisor Jan Floyd-Douglass: ‘Art of War’ Author Would Be My Dream Mentor

Jan Floyd-Douglass, The 9 SituationsJan Floyd-Douglass is one of the fantastic NextAdvisors signed up to advise our community in The NextWomen's Business Advice Programme

Through her business, The 9 Situations, Jan advises organisations on their business growth and change strategies. Jan coaches and mentors business owners and corporate leaders, and is a ‘recognised coach’ under the Government Growth Accelerator programme.

Jan particularly enjoys the leadership training and development side of her business activity; she is a qualified Level 7 Executive Coach and Leadership Mentor (from the Institute of Leadership and Management, Europe’s leading awarding body). In this capacity, she trains individuals in ILM Level 5 and Level 7 leadership coaching and mentoring qualifications, and offers structured coaching supervision to coaches.

Jan is ready to start advising you on your business. For more details on The Business Advice Programme and to sign up, click here

Prior to launching The 9 Situations, Jan's career comprised senior corporate roles at Zurich, Barclays Private Bank and Citibank. Her accountabilities have included global strategic and propositional development, leading and embedding significant change programmes and the planning, delivery and evaluation of high growth and turnaround strategies.

Whilst pursuing her senior leadership career, Jan pioneered and led gender equality programmes and she continues to advise organisations on how to increase female leadership participation.

Jan inputs to various UN, EU Commission and UK Government consultative forums relating to achieving more 'balanced boards'. She is Vice President of UN Women UK, sits on the Board of International Women’s Forum UK and is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management.

TNW: Tell us about your current role/venture. What’s at the top of your mind with regard to your business?

JFD:

  • Top of mind re my business is to continue to provide ‘related diversification’ in our offering as a way of both responding to the growth green shoots we’re noticing and to have different recession-neutral income streams.
  • Developing a coaching supervision practice – currently circa 86% of organisations do not have their coaches formally supervised, and many independent coaches don’t either.
  • Further build the coaching advisory and coach training strut.
  • Advising organisations on how to increase their female leadership participation, and facilitating the programmes.

I’m much more interested in increasing the number of women in executive roles as I feel this is more impactful on the success of the business than the focus at the non-exec level.

  • On this point, I’ve just returned from Vancouver, where I’d been asked to speak at the 2013/14 IWF Leadership Foundation Fellows programme, which is partnered with Harvard and INSEAD.

TNW: Which business topics are you most interested in providing advice on?

JFD:

  • I really love anything to do with increasing or maintaining high performance or growth; ideally when linked! Doesn’t matter how big or small the business, as long as it has ambition, will and capability.
  • Mentoring women who are (have) moving from a senior corporate role to setting up their own business. I have developed a small initiative around the ‘First 30 days and the next 90 days of starting out covering the key components that must be done.
  • Not-for-profits with big reach and potential.
  • Leadership essentials, particularly helping people find their personal operational processes and models.

TNW: How should a NextAdvisee approach their relationship with you, to get the best out of you?

JFD:

  • Be clear about what they want to achieve re advice.
  • Be prepared to invest the time in the coaching relationship for six months at least.
  • Be honest about what their real issues are as this just saves time.
  • Be committed and accountable for taking the action they’ve agreed to.
  • Be able to evidence behavioural change as a way of measuring success.

TNW: What do you see as the benefits of an advice relationship, for the advisor?

JFD:

  • I always learn something interesting and new; it keeps me fresh and up to date.
  • It’s great to work in different sectors and I see as this as a key attribute for me and my clients; also so much is transferable from one to the other.

I really enjoy seeing people develop and grow their business (and themselves!) – it gives me a real buzz and great enjoyment.

TNW: Do you currently have a mentor?

JFD: Yes, I like to have different ones for different situations. Unlike my coach, I like my mentors to have direct experience either at my level, in my sector or with that particular challenge.

TNW: Which business matters have you most needed advice on during your career?

JFD:

  • Priority planning and managing for success. I have developed a couple of personal operating models as a result of this.
  • How to really achieve customer centricity and audit how well I/we do to this principle. If we don’t keep talking to prospects and clients we won’t know what they want and we need to deliver.
  • How to develop effective and productive distribution channel relationships.
  • Managing the sales cycle and pipelines.
  • Building the ’right’ teams for change or growth.
  • Managing difficult situations.
  • Selling skills (i.e. questioning types, listening skills, benefit presentation, neutralising objections, closing the sale, etc.). This is an essential tool kit for any person running their own business.

TNW: What is the most useful lesson you have learned from a mentor?

JFD: How building high performance to specific goals builds self-confidence as well as value. Lack of confidence is also the number one challenge I find lurking behind a lot of the coaching and mentoring work I do and have done

TNW: Who would be your dream mentor in a fantasy world (they can be living or a historical figure)?

JFD: It would have to be Sun Tzu, author of the ‘Art of War’, a 2000 year old military treatise and probably the most important one ever written. It is a brilliant business strategy and leadership manual too, and is where the ‘Know your enemy’ axiom first came from. I think I would learn a huge amount from him first hand and his incredible insights into winning.

Our business name, The 9 Situations, comes directly from Sun Tzu’s work, and describes the 9 different battlegrounds a leader may have to fight.

The nine situations themselves (visit our website to see them) provide another, very interesting perspective on how to recognise and neutralise critical leadership and business challenges.

TNW: Is there anything we haven’t asked you, but you would like to share with our community?

JFD: I think it’s important to have a few stock questions to ask anyone you are considering to be your mentor. This could be some examples of how they have mentored others in your sector or with your particular challenge. It would also be good to ask about their approach to mentoring and the time frames they work to usually. A lot of your decision will probably be based on the chemistry of the relationship, and this is important; essentially, the most defining elements of a successful mentoring or coaching relationship are mutual rapport and trust.

In addition, as mentoring may be successfully undertaken virtually, be comfortable that your prospective mentor is also able to articulate themselves concisely and quickly on Skype or the phone. Some mentors I coach find the absence of another person can lead to a bit of waffling!

Jan is ready to start advising you on your business. For more details on The Business Advice Programme and to sign up, click here

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