Richard Lees is the subject of our latest Icehouse coaching profile. As well as being an expert coach, Richard has extensive governance experience and has held senior roles at CEO and GM level.
Richard is a relatively new addition to The Icehouse coaching stable, first working with us in 2019 following a recommendation by fellow coach Derek Young.
‘The Icehouse is very much aligned with how I like to work – in terms of understanding the needs of a business. The ultimate goal is, of course, for every owner to be much better off after you’ve finished working with them,’ says Richard.
One of Richard’s many strengths lies in the fact that he can appreciate the everyday complexities and long-term challenges owners face – having managed businesses through several successful mergers and acquisitions, being a business owner himself, and having worked across a diverse range of sectors around the world.
| Coach and business owner experience
‘Having seen and experienced a lot of things in business, and being able to navigate through them, counts for a lot. Owners appreciate that I can take something complex and narrow it down very simply. I can look at business and come back quickly with five things they need to do to make them better.’
Richard’s calm and considered approach also strikes a chord with clients as they take tangible steps towards change – even if it means facing up to the tough questions.
‘As I’ve been on both sides, I believe they appreciate the empathy. When an owner sits down with a coach and is told that something they’ve had the courage to build up from scratch is wrong in certain areas, it can be hard to take. But you have to have that discussion.’
Richard explains that businesses often end up at The Icehouse when they hit a wall. Some owners, through no fault of their own, believe they can solve a problem by themselves – until they work out that it’s got a bit too big for them. That’s where business coaching can provide incredible value.
‘Where The Icehouse is different is that we really understand what it is business owners are trying to do and what they go through.’
| Developing leaders and their teams
A good coach is flexible, possessing an abundance of people skills due to the myriad of different personalities that exist in businesses – of any size. Richard is passionate about developing individuals and teams and empowering them to take ownership and lead for success.
‘An owner may need a mentor to sit alongside them or just require a sounding board. They’ll have different needs from the CFO, for example, so in every business you need to adapt to each need, and sometimes find more than one solution to a problem.
‘Having a good business financial background and a good grounding of people, process and method, enables me to challenge clients and ask them; ‘Where do we want to be?’ and ‘How do we get there?’.
Another of Richard’s passions is working with family groups and Iwi Trusts and developing indigenous trade between NZ, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. Experience around acquisitions came to the fore recently when he had to oversee the merging of a number businesses into one entity.
He enjoys the coaching challenge of working with the specific cultures found in all businesses… ‘understanding how an individual works, the value that each of them has, the role they play in the business and helping them through the process of working towards a common goal, is very satisfying.’
| The value of coaching reassurance
Richard makes himself available seven days a week to answer the urgent calls he receives from owners needing guidance and reassurance during these current challenging times.
‘Instead of focusing on the one to two-year plan, more businesses should be focusing on the next ten years. Things change so fast in business and what an owner believes they are now, isn’t what they are going to be in a decade.’
So successful business owners need to take a step back and reassess the big questions regularly. That’s why ‘realism’ is another facet to coaching which many owners appreciate when they begin working with a coach.
‘We all need to focus on addressing what we need to do to keep moving, and what we can do to take the next step. There are also plenty of positive stories out there – which no one hears about.
‘It’s a great chance. Businesses and owners have the opportunity to do something different and own their own space. It’s important to spend more time understanding where they are, and what they have to do to succeed, and less time talking about the impact of COVID.’
Click on the link for more information about Richard Lees, his coaching services and areas of expertise.
For more coaching profiles, business ownership and leadership advice, check out more of our blogs.