“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.”
The men in my family have a history of boxing during their earlier years, so Muhammad Ali is well-known to me as a champion fighter and his quote has always been familiar to me. Until I looked again this week, however, I hadn't realised how rich this soundbite is in sage advice for company directors.
Good communication is a business-critical skill we all need to continuously develop for the benefit of effective daily operations, board level decision-making, strategic planning and fostering trusting relationships with shareholders and other stakeholders.
To express this another way and within a sporting context; Muhammad Ali understood the importance of good communication and used soundbites as his tool of choice to:
✓ engage his fans (your clients, customers, and staff),
✓ attract sponsorship (investment into your business),
✓ encourage corporate collaboration (your allies, partners and joint ventures), and
✓ protect and promote the reputation of his sport(your brand, your staff, your product or service).
It has been said that when he made this comment, Ali was telling people that he was prepared for his fight with Sonny Liston. He was focused on casting off anything unnecessary and unhelpful to him; picking up what he needed and was useful to him. The:
• butterfly was symbolic of the need to move effortlessly, in an agile fashion; and the
• bee, how to deliver a powerful punch.
Casting off and picking up: If you follow me on social media, you will have seen the overall theme of my posts this week highlighting various awareness days as (hopefully) user-friendly examples of some bigger picture issues, such as staff wellbeing (World Menopause Day), diversity and inclusion (National Gin & Tonic Day), and daily working practices (National Information Overload Day).
Did you know that there appears to be an awareness day for every day of the year? And each awareness day brings the challenge of perhaps educating ourselves on the issue, considering both sides of a related debate, deciding where we stand on it and any subsequent actions we may choose to take.
How do you gather so much information in order to determine what to cast off and pick up, and what your message is?
Butterfly: This cyclical review, assess, and determine pattern is the core of what it is to be a director. For example, when did you last look at your:
✓ corporate mission, vision and values,
✓ company policies and procedures,
✓ statutory requirements and obligations,
✓ corporate governance and social responsibilities, and really consider your
✓ shareholder expectations?
Does your messaging flow through? Is it engaging, attracting, encouraging, protecting, and promoting how you thought it was?
Bee: As a company director, you are an ambassador representing your business and whichever area of expertise and skill that you bring to the board of directors. Your communications at all levels need to have a powerful, consistent and informed punch both in their content and delivery.
By way of a personal example of how delivery can miss its target; in my first role as a company secretarial assistant for a small start-up, I was asked to talk to our global team about various matters. Now this was in dark ages of 2001 when there was no video conferencing …we had…the telephone.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a keen communicator and once I get going, I get going! On this particular occasion, I was in full flow covering off all my key points when the Managing Director leant in and took the phone from my hand. I know - you're thinking, ‘well, that was rude!’.
Without saying a word, he turned the phone around and placed it back into my hand to continue speaking. It turned out that I had in fact been talking into the earpiece of the handset for the first few minutes!
So, how do you hit your target with a powerful punch?
Float and sting: At CooperBurnett, we are a team of knowledgeable and pragmatic lawyers who can navigate you through the following areas of law and company life:
✓ commercial property and development,
✓ and dispute resolution.
We can help you to cast off and pick up by gathering the information and breaking it down for you. What would you like to know?
When it comes to ‘floating, stinging and hitting’ your target, you will find us to be many things. We are listeners, hand-holders, problem-solvers, advisers, strategists, risk assessors, fixers and a sounding board. How can we help? Contact Carla Loveday at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01892 515022 for an initial chat.
This blog is not intended as legal advice that can be relied upon and CooperBurnett does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of its contents.