Identifying and Promoting Your Company’s Purpose is Vital to Success

Clarity of purpose has never been more critical. Companies that identify and promote a clear purpose not only attract loyal customers and top-tier talent but also achieve remarkable business results. Bottom line, purpose-driven companies excel. Here’s how you can identify and promote your company’s purpose to achieve success and why it’s vital for your organization.

Why Purpose Matters

Unifies the Team: A clear purpose acts as a North Star, guiding every team member toward a shared goal. It aligns everyone’s efforts, creating a cohesive and motivated workforce.

Enhances Decision-Making: When a company knows what it stands for, decisions become simpler. Purpose acts as a filter for strategic choices, ensuring that each decision aligns with the organization’s values.

Builds Customer Loyalty: Customers today are discerning. They are more likely to support companies that share their values and are transparent about their purpose. When customers believe in your purpose, they become brand advocates.

Attracts Top Talent: A compelling purpose attracts high-caliber employees who want to be part of something meaningful, providing a foundation for your employer brand. People want to work for companies that positively impact the world.

Drives Innovation: Purpose gives employees a reason to think creatively and go the extra mile. They are more inclined to innovate when they feel they are contributing to something significant, which provides a why they clearly understand.

 Identifying Your Company’s Purpose

(1) Reflect on Your Founding Vision: Consider why your company was created in the first place. What problem were you trying to solve, and what impact did you want to make?

(2) Assess Your Strengths: Identify what your company does well. This could be a specific skill set, technology, or unique market position.

(3) Engage with Stakeholders: Talk to your customers, clients, employees, and partners. Understand what they value about your company and how they perceive your brand.

(4) Define Core Values: Outline the principles that guide your business. These values should resonate with both internal and external stakeholders.

(5) Craft a Purpose Statement: Combine your vision, strengths, and values into a concise purpose statement that inspires and guides. For example, Procter & Gamble’s purpose statement is as follows, “We will provide branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world’s consumers, now and for generations to come.

Promoting Your Company’s Purpose

Lead from the Top: Leadership needs to embody the purpose daily. Every decision and action taken by the leadership should reflect the company’s purpose.

Align with Strategy: Purpose should not be a separate entity. Incorporate it into your business strategy to ensure every objective and KPI reflects the purpose.

Communicate Consistently: From internal emails to marketing campaigns, your purpose should be woven into every communication. Highlight it on your website, social media, and marketing materials.

Empower Employees: Ensure every team member understands the company’s purpose and how their role contributes to it. Provide training, resources, and recognition to empower them to live the purpose.

Measure Impact: Establish metrics that align with your purpose and measure your impact. This could include customer satisfaction, employee engagement, or environmental metrics.

Share Success Stories: Highlight how your purpose is making a difference. Share stories of employees, customers, or partners who have benefited from your company’s purpose-driven initiatives.

Collaborate with Purpose-Driven Partners: Work with other organizations that share your purpose. This not only amplifies your impact but also strengthens your brand.

Call to Action – The Why Matters

Your company’s purpose is not just a statement but a strategic tool that can transform your business. By identifying and promoting your company’s purpose, you can unify your team, inspire innovation, and achieve remarkable business success. Remember, the true purpose statement must be authentic, believable, engaging, and have clarity; it is not PR… it will be words to live by.

 

About the Author:  Larry Rutkowski is a Senior Executive and Business Coach at Activate Group Inc. With years of experience in leadership and business management, Larry specializes in guiding leaders to unlock their team’s potential through effective communication, strategic thinking, and performance-driven strategies. He is dedicated to helping companies identify and achieve their purpose, driving transformative success.

Empowering Success: How CXOs Can Enhance Their Assistant’s Effectiveness

A CXO’s success is often as good as the team around them. At the heart of this team is the trusted assistant—a pivotal role that demands efficiency, foresight, and exceptional organizational skills. However, the productivity and effectiveness of an assistant are greatly influenced by the leader’s ability to empower and support them. Here are some actionable strategies CXOs can implement to ensure their assistants are set up for success.

Clear Communication

First and foremost, clarity in communication is crucial. CXOs should regularly share their goals, expectations, and preferences with their assistants. This open dialogue helps assistants anticipate needs and manage tasks more effectively. Regular check-ins can further streamline workflows and reinforce priorities, ensuring both are aligned on objectives and deadlines.

Provide Necessary Tools and Training

Investing in your assistant’s professional development is an investment in your own productivity. Provide access to training that enhances their skills and introduces them to the latest technologies that can aid their efficiency. Whether it’s project management software, advanced scheduling tools, or leadership training, equipping your assistant with the right tools not only boosts their competence but also their confidence.

Delegate with Trust

Delegation goes beyond merely assigning tasks; it involves entrusting your assistant with significant responsibilities and trusting their discretion. Empower them to make decisions within defined boundaries. This trust not only develops their skills but also frees up their time to focus on strategic decision-making.

Constructive Feedback and Recognition

Constructive feedback is key to professional growth. Regularly provide your assistant with honest, constructive feedback on their performance. Celebrate their successes openly and acknowledge their contributions to your success. Recognition not only motivates but also reinforces their value to the team.

Foster an Inclusive Environment

Encourage your assistant to voice their ideas and opinions. An inclusive environment where assistants feel valued and heard can lead to innovative solutions and enhanced job satisfaction. When assistants are actively involved in problem-solving and decision-making processes, they are more engaged and committed to their roles.

By implementing these strategies, CXOs not only enhance their assistant’s effectiveness but also foster a supportive and efficient working relationship (the assistant truly becomes an extension of the leader they support) that can significantly impact the overall success of their business. Remember, a successful assistant directly contributes to the success of the executive they support.

 

About the Author: Amanda Vargas is the Chief of Staff at Activate Group Inc., a trusted advisor specializing in helping businesses develop effective management systems and leadership strategies. Passionate about empowering teams to reach their full potential, Amanda combines her operations acumen and motivational style to deliver actionable insights that spark meaningful change.

The Power of Having Crucial and Candid Conversations

In business, effective communication is the cornerstone of successful teamwork and leadership. One of the most impactful communication strategies that leaders can harness is the art of having crucial and candid conversations. These conversations—often seen as uncomfortable and avoided—can significantly elevate the performance of a team, transform relationships, and cultivate thriving team players. It is crucial to enable the conversation, understand the immense power behind them, and utilize them to unlock your team’s potential.

The Importance of Crucial & Candid Conversations

Crucial conversations are high-stakes discussions where opinions vary, and emotions run strong. They often involve addressing sensitive topics such as performance issues, conflicts, or unmet expectations. When handled effectively, these conversations create clarity, strengthen relationships, and foster a culture of accountability.

Why Have Crucial & Candid Conversations?

Foster Transparency and Trust: Open and candid discussions reduce misunderstandings and build a foundation of trust within the team.

Enhance Accountability: Clear communication of expectations and consequences leads to increased accountability among team members.

Encourage Growth and Improvement: Constructive feedback helps team members recognize areas of improvement and take proactive steps to develop their skills.

Efficient Conflict Resolution: Addressing issues directly prevents them from festering and becoming more significant problems.

Strengthen Relationships: When handled with empathy, these conversations can deepen relationships, making team members feel valued and understood.

The Impact on Thriving Team Players

Increased Engagement: Teams that engage in open and candid communication are more likely to be deeply engaged in their work. They understand their role in the bigger picture and are motivated to contribute their best efforts.

Higher Performance: When expectations and goals are clear, and feedback is timely, individuals align their efforts with the team’s objectives, leading to higher productivity and performance.

Elevated Problem-Solving: Teams that can freely express their concerns and ideas without fear of judgment are better equipped to identify and solve problems collectively.

Resilience in Challenges: Teams that communicate openly can navigate challenges with agility, as they can quickly adapt to changing situations and support each other through difficult times.

How to Have Effective Crucial & Candid Conversations

(1) Prepare Ahead of Time:

Define the purpose of the conversation.

Identify the desired outcome and gather relevant information.

Be ready to listen actively and empathetically.

(2) Create a Safe Environment:

Choose a private setting where team members feel comfortable.

Set a positive tone by expressing your intent to support and collaborate.

(3) Be Direct and Compassionate:

Use clear and respectful language.

Focus on behaviors and outcomes rather than making it personal.

Acknowledge the emotions involved and show empathy.

(4) Encourage Dialogue:

Ask open-ended questions to understand the team member’s perspective.

Listen actively without interrupting and validate their feelings.

Collaborate on finding solutions and setting clear action steps.

(5) Follow-Up:

Schedule a follow-up meeting to assess progress and provide additional support.

Recognize improvements and encourage continued growth.

Final Thoughts on Crucial & Candid Conversations

Crucial and candid conversations are not easy, but they are essential for building thriving teams. They require courage, empathy, and a commitment to growth. By fostering an environment of transparency and trust, you empower your team to reach new heights and create a culture of accountability and continuous improvement.

 

About the Author: Larry Rutkowski is a Senior Executive and Business Coach at Activate Group Inc. With years of experience in leadership and business management, Larry specializes in guiding leaders to unlock their team’s potential through effective communication, strategic thinking, and performance-driven strategies.

Accountability vs. Responsibility: Understanding the Differences and Their Impact

In the landscape of business and leadership, two terms frequently emerge: accountability and responsibility. While they are often used interchangeably, understanding their distinctions can significantly enhance organizational performance and individual effectiveness. As management it is critical to clarify these concepts and illustrate their importance in driving action and achieving results.

Defining Accountability and Responsibility

Responsibility refers to the tasks or duties that an individual is expected to perform. It’s the assignment of specific roles within a team or organization. For example, a project manager is responsible for overseeing project timelines, delegating tasks, and ensuring the project stays within budget.

Accountability, on the other hand, is the obligation to answer for the results of these responsibilities. It’s about ownership and the commitment to follow through with the consequences of your actions, whether positive or negative. In our earlier example, the project manager is accountable for the project’s success or failure. If the project goes off track, it is the manager who must explain what happened and why.

Key Differences

(1) Nature of Obligation: Responsibility can be shared among team members, while accountability is typically individual. Multiple people can be responsible for different parts of a project, but one person is accountable for the overall outcome.

(2) Scope: Responsibility is task-specific, focusing on completing assigned duties. Accountability has a broader scope, encompassing the ownership of both the process and the result.

(3) Timing: Responsibility is ongoing, part of day-to-day operations. Accountability often comes into play after a task is completed, during evaluations or when assessing outcomes.

(4) Direction: Responsibility is usually assigned from the top down, while accountability is often peer-enforced and can also be self-imposed.

Why It’s Important

Understanding and differentiating between accountability and responsibility is crucial for several reasons:

Clear Expectations: When roles are clearly defined, team members know exactly what is expected of them. This clarity reduces confusion and increases efficiency.

Enhanced Performance: Accountability drives individuals to perform at their best, knowing they will need to answer for their results. This motivation can lead to higher productivity and better outcomes.

Improved Trust: Organizations that emphasize accountability foster a culture of trust. Team members feel more confident in their colleagues’ commitments, leading to stronger collaboration.

Better Decision Making: Accountability ensures that decisions are made with the consideration of their impacts. This leads to more thoughtful and strategic choices.

Growth and Learning: Being accountable for actions encourages learning from mistakes. It creates a feedback loop where individuals and teams continuously improve.

Practical Steps to Implement

(1)  Define Roles Clearly: Ensure that every team member understands their responsibilities and who is accountable for what.

(2)  Foster a Culture of Accountability: Encourage open communication and regular check-ins to discuss progress and obstacles.

(3)  Use Tools and Systems: Implement project management tools that track responsibilities and outcomes. This transparency helps everyone stay on the same page.

(4)  Provide Feedback: Regularly review performance and provide constructive feedback. Recognize and reward those who demonstrate strong accountability.

(5)  Lead by Example: Leaders should model accountability in their actions and decisions. This sets the tone for the entire organization.

Impactful Outcomes

By distinguishing between accountability and responsibility, organizations can create a more structured and productive environment. Teams operate more cohesively, knowing who is responsible for tasks and who will be held accountable for the results. This clarity drives action, fosters a sense of ownership, and ultimately leads to higher performance and success.

 

About the Author: Albert Noa is a seasoned management coach with over 20 years of experience in process excellence, change management, and organizational strategy. He is passionate about helping teams and individuals unlock their potential through clear communication, inclusive collaboration, strategic planning, and effective accountability frameworks. Albert has worked with a wide range of industries, from startups to Fortune 500 companies, guiding them towards achieving their goals and driving development and sustainable growth.

Overlooked and Underrated: The Importance of a Daily Huddle

In the fast-paced world of business, one often overlooked meeting can often make a difference.

The daily huddle—a quick, no more than 15-minute meeting that brings teams together each morning—is one of the simplest yet most powerful tools for enhancing productivity, communication, and organizational alignment.

Let’s delve into how and why this daily ritual has such a significant impact on organizations.

Boosting Productivity

Time is money, and productivity is the currency. Daily huddles cut down on wasted time and refocus teams on immediate priorities. They offer:

  • Clear Priorities: Every team member leaves with a crystal-clear understanding of daily tasks and goals.
  • Actionable Next Steps: Each member commits to their daily must do / actions, ensuring execution.
  • Accountability: With each person’s progress highlighted daily, teams are more likely to follow through on commitments.

These focused, quick conversations help teams shift into productive mode right from the start, turning objectives into results.

Strengthening Communication

Breakdowns in communication can slow progress and cause confusion. Daily huddles:

  • Foster Transparency: They allow team members to share progress, roadblocks, and updates in real-time.
  • Encourage Collaboration: When challenges arise, quick solutions are often provided directly by peers, reducing the need for lengthy follow-up meetings.
  • Create Inclusion: Every member, regardless of role, gets a platform to be heard.

Effective communication creates a culture where information flows seamlessly and everyone is on the same page.

Identifying Challenges Early

Problems are best dealt with before they become full-blown crises. Daily huddles:

  • Expose Roadblocks: Issues surface early, allowing teams to devise immediate solutions.
  • Mitigate Risks: By quickly addressing challenges, the team minimizes potential negative impacts on project timelines and outcomes.
  • Promote Problem-Solving Culture: Teams learn to tackle challenges collaboratively and proactively.

Teams that confront issues early foster a culture of continuous improvement, preventing small snags from derailing entire projects.

Enhancing Alignment

In today’s dynamic work environments, ensuring alignment among diverse teams is crucial. Daily huddles:

  • Reinforce Mission & Values: Frequent reminders of the overarching mission and values align daily activities with broader organizational goals.
  • Gain Awareness: Each member receives a broader picture of what is happening in the organization and better understands how their daily tasks contribute to larger projects and goals.
  • Strengthen Cohesion: Teams develop a sense of unity and shared purpose by coming together daily.

Organizational alignment ensures everyone moves in the same direction, working toward the same goals with consistent motivation.

Implementing Your Daily Huddle

To maximize the benefits, follow these tips for an effective daily huddle:

(1)  Keep It Short: No more than15 minutes to maintain focus and energy.

(2)  Stand Up: Encourage standing to promote brevity and attentiveness if in person. Enable participation and consistency through virtual attendance.

(3) Follow a Structure:

  • Yesterday’s Wins: Share accomplishments from the previous day (Good News – professional or personal).
  • Today’s Goals: Outline the day’s key task or objective (what is the one thing that you must do today to have the most impact).
  • Potential Roadblocks: Highlight challenges that may arise and seek support if needed (blockers preventing forward movement).
  • Collaboration / Shared Ownership: Rotate meeting leader (leads / facilitates huddle) across team members daily.

Encourage open communication and transparency, and always finish on a positive note to inspire action.

 

About the Author: Amanda Vargas is the Chief of Staff at Activate Group Inc., a trusted advisor specializing in helping businesses develop effective management systems and leadership strategies. Passionate about empowering teams to reach their full potential, Amanda combines her operations acumen and motivational style to deliver actionable insights that spark meaningful change.

The Bigger the Goal, the Sharper the Focus

Have you ever noticed how aiming for something extraordinary crystallizes your focus in ways that more modest ambitions can’t? It’s as though the bigger the goal, the clearer your vision and path to reach it becomes. This concept aligns perfectly with Dan Sullivan’s and Ben Hardy’s insights, “10x is easier than 2x,” and Dan and Ben’s philosophy, “Who Not How.”

The Power of “10x is Easier Than 2x”

“10x is easier than 2x” is a paradigm-shifting concept popularized by Dan Sullivan. The premise is simple but profound: making a 10x improvement requires a complete overhaul in thinking and execution, while a 2x improvement often leads to just tweaking existing strategies.

Why 10x Goals Sharpen Your Focus:

(1) Forces Innovation: When aiming for 10x growth, old solutions and strategies won’t cut it. You must think differently, innovate, and reinvent yourself.

(2) Eliminates Distractions: Big goals make it easier to ignore non-essential tasks and focus on high-impact activities.

(3) Inspires Relentless Execution: With a bold vision in place, you’re compelled to pursue relentless execution, aligning all efforts toward that singular objective.

Applying “10x” Thinking to Your Business:

Set an ambitious revenue target (e.g., $100 million instead of $10 million).

Align your marketing and sales strategies to this goal.

Prioritize key performance metrics that support 10x growth.

The “Who Not How” Mindset

Who Not How” complements the 10x concept by emphasizing the importance of finding the right people to achieve your goals instead of focusing solely on how you’ll accomplish them.

How “Who Not How” Enhances Focus:

Leverages Expertise: By finding the right experts, you eliminate the learning curve, freeing you up to focus on strategic tasks.

Enables Delegation: Identify “Whos” for operational tasks, giving you more time to strategize.

Builds a Team Culture: A clear understanding of roles and responsibilities enhances collaboration and goal alignment, while fostering accountability within the company’s culture.

Integrating “Who Not How” into Your Strategy:

Build a network of “Whos” to handle specialized tasks like marketing, operations, or finance.

Delegate execution to capable team members and trusted external service providers while you focus on strategy.

Invest in building a culture of ownership and accountability within your team.

Execution Tips: Focus and Action Steps

(1) Define Your 10x Goal: Clearly articulate a grand vision that inspires and challenges your team.

(2) Create an Actionable Plan: Break down your 10x goal into smaller milestones. And establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress.

(3) Identify Your “Whos”: Recognize the roles and skills needed to achieve your goal. Delegate or recruit team members who can take on critical tasks or hire third parties outside of the company. Shed everything else.

(4) Prioritize High-Impact Activities: Regularly evaluate tasks to ensure they align with your vision and eliminate or outsource low-value activities.

(5) Cultivate a Relentless Execution Culture: Celebrate wins to build momentum and foster accountability by tracking and reviewing progress regularly.

Final Thoughts on Bigger Goals and Sharper Focus

When the goal is big enough, the focus sharpens naturally. Adopting the “10x is easier than 2x” mindset compels you to think beyond limitations, while “Who Not How” helps you build the right team to bring the vision to life. Commit to the journey and remember execution is everything.

 

About the Author: Mo Rousso is a Business Coach at Activate Group Inc. With a passion for helping leaders break through barriers and transform their companies, Mo empowers businesses to achieve exponential growth through strategic planning, leadership development, and execution excellence.

Elevate Your Business with Proven Management Systems

In today’s fast-paced and complex business environment, having a robust management system is not merely an option—it’s a necessity. Systems like Scaling Up, Metronomics, and the Business Acceleration System offer structured methodologies that can transform the way your organization operates. These systems are designed to streamline processes, foster growth, and enhance leadership capabilities. Let’s delve into how these systems function and the distinct advantages they offer.

Scaling Up: Focusing on the Four Decisions

Based on Verne Harnish’s Rockefeller Habits, Scaling Up centers on mastering four key business decisions: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash. This framework helps leaders to identify and leverage their core strengths, define strategic goals, optimize operational efficiencies, and manage resources effectively. For leaders, Scaling Up acts as a blueprint to build a well-rounded and resilient enterprise.

Metronomics: A Harmony of Metrics and Rhythms

Metronomics combines rigorous analytics with periodic business rhythms to create a cohesive strategy for sustainable growth. By integrating key performance indicators (KPIs) and regular review cycles, this system ensures that every layer of your organization is aligned and focused on achieving shared objectives. It’s particularly beneficial for leadership as it provides a clear, measurable path to success and helps in making informed decisions swiftly.

Business Acceleration System: Speed and Adaptability

The Business Acceleration System emphasizes speed and adaptability, allowing companies to respond to changes in the market dynamically. This system advocates for rapid implementation of strategic initiatives and fostering a culture of innovation and agility. Leaders benefit by developing an environment where quick decision-making and continuous improvement are part of the organizational DNA.

Why Implement These Systems?

Implementing any of these management systems brings about profound benefits:

(1) Clarity and Direction: Clear frameworks and guidelines that help in simplifying complex decisions.

(2) Alignment Across the Board: Ensures that everyone in the organization is moving towards common goals.

(3) Enhanced Decision-Making: Empowers leaders with data and structured processes to make effective decisions.

(4) Sustainable Growth: Provides the tools to scale operations while maintaining quality and culture.

Spark Action and Drive Execution through Management Systems

As a business coach, I encourage you to consider how a structured management system could be the catalyst for your business needs. Start by evaluating where your organization stands in terms of people, strategy, execution, and cash. Choose a system that aligns with your core needs and organizational values. Remember, the goal is not just to implement a system but to foster a culture that embraces continual improvement and strategic thinking.

 

About the Author: Larry Rutkowski is a Senior Business & Executive Coach at Activate Group Inc., specializing in helping leaders transform their organizations through effective management systems. His practical advice and real-world examples have inspired countless individuals and organizations to unlock their full potential and achieve operational excellence and sustainable growth.

Leading with Conviction: Non-Delegable CEO Duties for Lasting Success

The role of a CEO encompasses several indispensable responsibilities that cannot be delegated. Inspired by Patrick Lencioni’s insightful work in “The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive,” this article delves into these non-delegable duties vital for any effective leader.

Lencioni’s Framework: A Guide for CEOs

In his book, Patrick Lencioni outlines key areas where a CEO’s direct involvement is critical. We’ll explore these along with additional duties essential for a CEO.

Duty #1: Building a Cohesive Leadership Team

According to Lencioni, the cornerstone of effective leadership is creating and maintaining a unified executive team. This responsibility is not just about assembling talent but fostering a culture of trust and collaboration, which is critical for any organization’s success.

Duty #2: Creating Organizational Clarity

A CEO must clearly define and communicate the organization’s vision and values, what our business is, who our competitors are, how we are unique, what is expected from each person, and our priorities.

Duty #3: Over-Communicating Organizational Clarity

Lencioni emphasizes the importance of over-communicating this clarity to ensure alignment across all levels of the organization. A CEO’s role involves relentlessly reinforcing the company’s vision and objectives, ensuring every team member understands and embraces these goals.

Duty #4: Reinforcing Organizational Clarity through Human Systems

Implementing systems and structures that support and reinforce the company’s direction is another non-delegable duty. As Lencioni suggests, these systems should be robust yet adaptable, reflecting the organization’s core values and objectives.

Additional Non-Delegable CEO Duties

 –  Setting Strategy and Direction: The CEO must be the primary strategist, determining the course for the company’s future.

 –  Modeling Company Culture, Values, and Behavior: The CEO sets the tone for the company culture through their actions and decisions.

 –  Allocating Capital to Company Priorities: Effective allocation of resources is critical for achieving strategic objectives and ensuring organizational growth.

Embracing these non-delegable duties is crucial for any CEO committed to leading their organization towards enduring success. For CEOs seeking to master these essential responsibilities, consider a coaching session tailored to enhance your leadership effectiveness.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is an author, CEO coach, and founder of Activate Group Inc. With his deep expertise in executive coaching, Howard empowers business leaders to excel in their roles, drawing upon proven strategies and industry insights.

Bridging the Gap: How CEOs Can Ensure Their Message Is Heard and Understood

A common challenge for CEOs is ensuring that their vision and directives are communicated, understood, and internalized throughout the organization. This article explores the concept of overcommunicating clarity – a critical practice for any effective leader.

The Importance of Overcommunicating

Overcommunication is not about redundancy; it’s about reinforcement. It’s ensuring that your message cuts through the noise and becomes a guiding principle for every team member.

Where Overcommunication Often Fails

(1) Assuming Once is Enough: Many CEOs believe stating their vision or strategy once is sufficient. However, messages are often lost amidst daily operations.

(2) Lack of Consistency: Inconsistent messaging can lead to confusion and misalignment within the team.

(3) The Echo Chamber Effect: Sometimes, senior leadership only fully hears and understands a CEO’s message, failing to permeate the entire organization.

Understanding the Gap in Communication

The gap between what a CEO communicates and what the organization comprehends can be substantial. This disconnect often arises from a lack of repetition, unclear messaging, and the absence of a feedback loop to ensure understanding.

Case Example: Satya Nadella at Microsoft

When Satya Nadella took over as CEO in 2014, he initiated a significant cultural shift within Microsoft. Nadella repeatedly communicated his vision of a more collaborative, innovative, and growth-mindset-driven Microsoft. He used various platforms and repetitive messaging to ensure this new ethos was understood company wide. The transition from a ‘know-it-all’ to a ‘learn-it-all’ culture, as he often emphasized, required consistent reinforcement to take root effectively.

Strategies for Effective Overcommunication

(1) Repetition with Variation: Regularly communicate your message through different mediums and contexts.

(2) Engage in Dialogue: Encourage feedback and discussions around your vision and directives to ensure understanding.

(3) Lead by Example: Demonstrate your message through your actions. If your team sees you embodying the communicated vision, they are more likely to understand and embrace it.

Conclusion – Assure Absorption and Action

Closing the gap between what is said and what is heard is a vital skill for any CEO. Overcommunicating clarity is not about saying more; it’s about ensuring that what is said is fully absorbed and acted upon.

Consider a coaching session to explore strategies tailored to your unique leadership style and organizational needs.

 

 About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the founder and CEO of Activate Group Inc., a growth-focused coaching firm for business leaders. With decades of experience, as a CEO Coach and the author of The Leader Launchpad and Your Business is a Leaky Bucket, Howard is dedicated to empowering leaders to unlock their potential and propel their organizations to new heights.

Vision, Values, and Victory: A CEO’s Blueprint for Organizational Clarity

One of the most critical roles of a CEO is to create and maintain organizational clarity. This clarity encompasses everything from the company’s vision and values to understanding competitors and defining clear expectations for each team member. Let’s explore how CEOs can effectively cultivate this clarity.

Defining the Organization’s Vision and Values

(1) Craft a Compelling Vision: Your vision should be inspiring and provide a clear direction for where the company is headed.

(2) Establish Core Values: These values should reflect the essence of your company’s ethos and guide every decision and action.

Understanding and Communicating the Business Landscape

(1) Know Your Business: Clearly articulate what your business does, its products or services, and its value proposition.

(2) Identify Your Competitors: Understand who your competitors are and how they impact your business strategy.

(3) Highlight Your Uniqueness: Clearly communicate what sets your company apart from the competition.

Setting Clear Expectations and Priorities

(1) Define Roles and Responsibilities: Ensure every team member understands their role and how it contributes to the larger vision.

(2) Communicate Your Priorities: Set and share organizational priorities so everyone is aligned and working towards common goals.

Leading By Example

Indra Nooyi, Former CEO of PepsiCo: Indra Nooyi is renowned for her role in redefining PepsiCo’s vision and strategy. She led a significant shift towards healthier products, aligning with emerging consumer health trends. Nooyi’s vision, ‘Performance with Purpose,’ aimed to deliver sustainable long-term growth focusing on more nutritious products, a smaller environmental footprint, and empowered people. Her ability to communicate this vision and drive organizational change was vital to PepsiCo’s success during her tenure.

Conclusions on Organizational Clarity

Organizational clarity is not a one-time effort but a continuous process. As a CEO, it’s your responsibility to revisit and reinforce these elements regularly.

Consider scheduling a coaching session to explore further how you can develop and maintain organizational clarity within your company.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is an accomplished CEO coach and the founder of Activate Group Inc. He specializes in assisting leaders to maximize their potential and build high-performing teams, drawing upon a wealth of experience and proven methodologies.

 

Leadership by Design: A CEO’s Strategy for Building a Winning Team

As a CEO, one of your most critical responsibilities is assembling and nurturing a leadership team to drive your company toward its strategic goals. This article provides insights and actionable strategies for selecting the right individuals and fostering an outstanding leadership team.

Understanding the CEO’s Role in Team Building

The CEO is not just a decision-maker but also a visionary who sets the tone for the team’s dynamic and performance. Your role involves identifying potential leaders, aligning them with your vision, and creating an environment where they can thrive.

Strategies for Selecting the Right Team Members

(1) Look Beyond the Resume: While experience and qualifications are important, also consider candidates’ alignment with the company’s values and culture.

(2) Diversity: Often, leaders like to hire people who are more like themselves. A diverse team brings varied perspectives and fosters innovation.

(3) Emphasize Emotional Intelligence: Leaders with high emotional intelligence can navigate complex interpersonal dynamics and foster a positive team environment.

Building an Excellent Leadership Team

(1) Foster Open Communication: Encourage transparency and open dialogue within your team. This builds trust and ensures everyone is aligned with the company’s goals.

(2) Develop a Shared Vision: Involve your leadership team in shaping and owning the company’s vision. This creates a sense of shared purpose and direction.

(3) Invest in Professional Development: Regular training and development opportunities help your team grow and stay engaged with the company’s evolving needs.

Consider how Satya Nadella transformed Microsoft’s leadership team, focusing on collaboration and innovation, which was key in revitalizing the company’s culture and business.

Conclusions for Leadership by Design

Selecting and building an exceptional leadership team is a critical and ongoing process. It requires a strategic approach, a keen understanding of people, and a commitment to nurturing talent.

For personalized advice on building your leadership team, consider scheduling a coaching session to explore strategies tailored to your company’s unique needs.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is an accomplished CEO coach and the founder of Activate Group Inc. He specializes in assisting leaders to maximize their potential and build high-performing teams, drawing upon a wealth of experience and proven methodologies.

Measuring a CEO’s Success: Beyond the Income Statement

Traditionally, a CEO’s success is evaluated based on hard financial metrics reflected in the income statement – revenue growth, profitability, shareholder returns, etc. However, this narrow focus can overlook critical aspects of leadership that significantly impact an organization’s long-term health and sustainability. This article delves into the often-overlooked areas of CEO performance evaluation: Culture, Human Capital Management, Team Cohesion, and the effectiveness of Strategy and Execution.

Evaluating Culture and Human Capital Management

The culture of an organization is a direct reflection of its leadership. A successful CEO nurturing a positive culture fosters an environment of innovation, collaboration, and employee satisfaction. But how do we measure this?

Employee Engagement Surveys: Regular surveys can provide insights into employee morale, belief in the company’s vision, and their perception of leadership effectiveness. We use Gallup’s survey around their renown 12 questions.

Turnover Rates: High turnover can indicate issues with the organizational culture. A successful CEO typically sees lower turnover rates, especially among high performers.

External Employer Ratings: Platforms like Glassdoor provide unfiltered employee feedback, which can be a valuable measure of a CEO’s effectiveness in culture-building.

Assessing Team Cohesion

The ability of a CEO to build cohesive leadership teams is crucial. Cohesive teams are more likely to implement effective strategies and achieve organizational goals.

360-Degree Feedback: Feedback from various organizational levels can highlight how well a CEO fosters collaboration and teamwork.

Team Performance Metrics: Evaluate the performance of key teams within the organization. Successful teams often reflect effective leadership at the top.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team Survey: We administer an assessment developed around Patrick Lencioni’s best-selling book. It helps teams self-assess their effectiveness in the areas of trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and results.

Measuring Strategy and Execution

A CEO’s prowess in strategy formulation and execution is pivotal to organizational success. This is measured by:

Alignment of Strategy with Outcomes: Assess how well the CEO’s strategic decisions align with the outcomes. This includes looking at long-term growth, market expansion, and product development successes.

Innovation Index: Evaluate the company’s investment in innovation and its returns. This could include new product launches, patents filed, and market disruptions.

Adaptability and Crisis Management: How a CEO navigates challenges and unexpected market changes is a critical measure of their strategic acumen.

Measuring CEO Success Conclusion

While the income statement provides a snapshot of financial health, it doesn’t fully capture a CEO’s effectiveness. By incorporating measures of culture, team cohesion, human capital management, and the success of strategy execution, we gain a more holistic view of a CEO’s performance. These soft skills are as crucial as financial metrics in ensuring the long-term success and sustainability of an organization.

For organizations and boards, it’s essential to broaden the criteria for CEO performance evaluation. This comprehensive approach not only enhances the accuracy of performance assessments but also encourages CEOs to focus on these vital areas of leadership.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the founder and CEO of Activate Group Inc., a growth-focused coaching firm for business leaders. With decades of experience, as a CEO Coach and the author of The Leader Launchpad and Your Business is a Leaky Bucket, Howard is dedicated to empowering leaders to unlock their potential and propel their organizations to new heights.

The Paradox of CEO Leadership: Decoding CEO Success

In the ever-evolving landscape of corporate leadership, the role of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) remains pivotal and perplexing. Through my journey as a CEO Coach, I have encountered a spectrum of leaders who, despite their diverse approaches, have steered their companies with varying degrees of success. This article delves into the intricate maze of CEO leadership, debunking the one-size-fits-all myth and offering actionable insights for C-suite leaders.

The CEO’s Diverse Faces

The role of a CEO is not monolithic. I have witnessed CEOs who create a thriving company culture and others who lead successful organizations despite creating a toxic work environment. Consider the case of Company X, where the CEO’s narcissistic tendencies and singular focus on profit yielded significant financial success, albeit with a high employee turnover rate. Contrast this with Company Y, led by a visionary CEO, whose lack of operational finesse was balanced by a strong executive team, leading to sustained growth.

The Misconception of a One-Size-Fits-All CEO

Success as a CEO does not always follow a conventional script. Some leaders check all the traditional boxes of effective leadership – charismatic, empathetic, strategic – yet their companies struggle. This was evident in the case of Company Z, where the CEO’s exemplary leadership traits failed to translate into market success due to external factors like market volatility and competitive dynamics.

Team Dynamics and Leadership

A CEO’s approach towards team building and management can significantly influence a company’s trajectory. Some CEOs are disciplined in crafting exceptional teams and promptly addressing non-performance. Others adopt a more laissez-faire approach, leading to varied outcomes. The success story of Company A, where deliberate team optimization led to breakthrough performance, stands as a testament to the power of effective team management.

Actionable Takeaways

(1) Embrace Flexibility: Adapt your leadership style to your company’s unique context and challenges.

(2) Build Strong Teams: Invest in building a diverse and capable executive team.

(3) Focus on Sustainability: Ensure that success is not just a flash in the pan but sustainable over the long term.

As we navigate the complex realm of corporate leadership, it is essential to learn and adapt continuously. I invite you to reach out for a personalized coaching session to explore how you can enhance your leadership journey.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the founder and CEO of Activate Group Inc., a growth-focused coaching firm for business leaders. With decades of experience, as a CEO Coach and the author of The Leader Launchpad and Your Business is a Leaky Bucket, Howard is dedicated to empowering leaders to unlock their potential and propel their organizations to new heights.

Unlocking Team Success: The Imperative of a Leader’s Commitment to Meetings

In my years working with leaders, a recurring theme has emerged: meetings are seen as both a blessing and a curse. When done well, meetings can drive results. When done poorly, they can bring entire organizations to a halt. The key differentiator between these two outcomes? The leader’s approach.

The Heart of Leadership: Commitment to Their People

The number one job of a leader is to make time and be present for their people. Even though it is evident, leadership must be committed to participating and engaging in the established meeting rhythms for organization and team effectiveness. Commitment differs from a decision. We can decide to have meetings but not be committed. Commitment is the higher standard of dedication to meetings because it will improve communication, teamwork, and decision-making.

Meetings are not about you; they are about the organization and the team. Frequently missed meetings send a message that you care most about yourself and are not committed to being a vital team member.

The Power of Precedent – The Secret Sauce of Effective Teams

Let me share a story: Rachel, a senior executive, prided herself on her team’s agility. However, she frequently shifted meeting times, causing havoc in her team’s schedules. Over time, this inconsistency led to missed targets and a frustrated team.

Consistency of active participation from individual team members is critical. When consistency drops, so does priority focus, agility, and timeliness of decisions. Missing meetings unconsciously causes silos and reduces the effectiveness of the organization.

Top leadership has a higher burden to set the right example. Their actions set precedents and can often be the deciding influence between adoption, engagement, and success; or resistance, withdrawal, and disappointing results – the rest of the team takes their direction from them. Leadership must always be mindful to avoid the Do as I Say, Not as I DO trap.

When leaders aren’t consistent in their approach to meetings, focus wanes, agility diminishes, and the timeliness of decisions suffers. As silos build, the organization loses momentum.

Reframing the Meeting Narrative

Yes, there might be too many meetings. But the real issue? Too many bad meetings. Instead of eliminating meetings, focus on improving them. Engage the right stakeholders. Set clear agendas. And ensure each meeting serves its purpose.

Actionable Steps for Leaders:

(1) Evaluate Your Commitment: Reflect on your meeting attendance and engagement. Are you truly committed?

(2) Prioritize Consistency: Stick to scheduled meetings. Reschedule only when absolutely necessary.

(3) Set the Tone: Remember, your team is watching. Model the behavior you want to see.

(4) Seek Feedback: Regularly ask for input on meeting effectiveness and be open to making changes.

Conclusion: Your Call to Action to Unlock Team Success

Your team’s success rests heavily on your shoulders. But remember, you don’t carry that burden alone. Your team can and will thrive with a committed and consistent approach to meetings. It’s time to recommit, be present, and unlock your team’s true potential.

Activate your leadership potential and make every meeting count. The success of your organization depends on it.

 

About the Author:  Howard M. Shore, CEO of Activate Group, Inc., is an acclaimed leadership coach and author of “The Leader Launchpad.” With decades of experience in guiding leaders and organizations to success, Howard specializes in unlocking the full potential of businesses by driving actionable strategies and fostering effective leadership practices.

Inspiring Beyond the Transaction: Elevating a Value-Centric Workforce in Today’s Business Landscape

In an age where mere service delivery is no longer the golden standard, businesses across the board find themselves navigating a transformative shift. The challenge? Transitioning from transaction-driven operations to a holistic, value-centric ethos. So, how can modern organizations embed this paradigm shift into their DNA? Let’s explore.

Company Culture: The Double-Edged Sword

Every organization has its unique culture, the invisible thread weaving its ethos. While it’s the bedrock of all great companies, a misaligned culture can inadvertently become a straitjacket, stifling innovation and creativity.

Case Example: A client in the financial sector shared a tale of procedural rigidity preventing a groundbreaking solution that could have streamlined a complex customer journey. Instead of breaking boundaries, the firm’s culture erected them.

Actionable Step: Initiate periodic culture assessments. Pinpoint outdated or restrictive practices. Engage teams in suggesting areas ripe for rejuvenation.

Leadership: Pioneers or Gatekeepers?

Leaders wear multiple hats, from guides to decision-makers. But those who limit autonomy or appear unreceptive to diverse solutions might be unintentionally sidelining innovative strategies.

Case Example: In a prominent marketing agency, a newbie strategist proposed an out-of-the-box campaign. Instead of applause, she encountered resistance because she deviated from the “norm.” Such attitudes hinder more than they help.

Actionable Step: Leaders champion open-mindedness. Implement open-door policies and encourage individuals from all ranks to pitch their insights. Leadership isn’t about micromanaging but nurturing and igniting sparks.

Cultivating the Right Employee Mindset

To evolve from transactional thinking to value creation, employees should:

  • View each interaction as a steppingstone for stronger relationships.
  • Constantly scout avenues for refining processes and offerings.
  • Identify revenue potentials, even in seemingly mundane tasks.

Actionable Step: Host regular workshops emphasizing relationship building, critical thinking, and proactive problem-solving. Celebrate value-driven successes to foster a culture of recognition.

Revamping Role Descriptions

Critical thinking must feature prominently across all job roles to truly democratize innovation, not just the higher echelons.

Actionable Step: Reevaluate job descriptions to incorporate proactive problem-solving, critical thinking, and a commitment to continuous learning.

Compensation Strategies: More Than Just Money

While monetary rewards are effective motivators, it’s essential to understand that employees today value more than just their paychecks. Recognition, growth opportunities, and autonomy often outshine financial incentives.

Case Example: One of my clients introduced an “Employee of the Month” title. While the financial reward was symbolic, the esteem and recognition it conferred led to a marked uptick in proactive initiatives.

Actionable Step: Diversify your reward mechanisms. Engage with teams to understand what truly drives and inspires them.

To conclude, the business landscape, be it service or consumer-driven, is dynamically evolving. It beckons organizations to move beyond mere transactions and sow seeds of genuine value.

 

Call to Action: Are you geared up for this transformation? Let’s chart this journey together. Connect with Activate Group, Inc. for a strategy tailored to your organization’s aspirations.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., and the voice behind “The Leader Launchpad.” A beacon in the realm of organizational excellence, Howard’s mission is to provide guidance and help sculpt companies that deliver and inspire.

Empowering Your Team’s Input: The Key to Inclusive Decision-Making

As leaders, we are often responsible for making critical decisions that impact our organizations’ future. While it’s tempting to rely solely on our own expertise, there’s immense value in embracing inclusive decision-making. In this article, we’ll explore the transformative power of incorporating diverse perspectives and empowering your team’s input in decision-making.

The Strength in Diversity: Embracing Different Perspectives

As a C-Suite leader, you’ve assembled a team of talented individuals with unique backgrounds, experiences, and expertise. Leveraging this diversity can be a game-changer. When you invite your team to contribute to decision-making, you tap into a wealth of knowledge and creativity that can lead to innovative solutions and better outcomes.

Fostering a Culture of Openness: Encouraging Input

Creating an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas is crucial. Encourage open discussions and actively seek input from all levels of the organization. Emphasize that each voice matters and their contributions are essential to the decision-making process.

Building Consensus: Aligning Towards a Common Goal

Inclusive decision-making doesn’t mean making decisions by committee. Instead, it’s about finding common ground and aligning toward a shared vision. When diverse perspectives come together and reach a consensus, it strengthens the team’s commitment to executing the decision effectively.

Transparency and Communication: The Cornerstones of Success

Transparency is the foundation of inclusive decision-making. Communicate the decision-making process clearly to your team, outline the factors considered, and explain how their input influenced the final decision. Transparent communication fosters trust and shows your team that their opinions are valued.

Actionable Steps: Empowering Your Team’s Input

(1)  Cultivate an Inclusive Culture: Create an environment that celebrates diversity and encourages open dialogue.

(2)  Active Listening: Listen actively to your team’s input, ensuring they feel heard and valued.

(3)  Diverse Decision-Making Forums: Establish various channels for input, such as team meetings, suggestion boxes, or online forums.

(4)  Training and Development: Invest in training to enhance communication skills and problem-solving capabilities.

(5)  Recognition and Appreciation: Recognize and appreciate team members whose ideas contributed to successful decisions.

Unleashing the Power of Inclusive Decision-Making

Inclusive decision-making unleashes the true potential of your organization. As leaders, let’s empower our teams, embrace diversity, and harness collective wisdom to lead our organizations toward sustainable success.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., a renowned leadership development and executive coaching firm. With 20 years of experience guiding organizations to achieve their full potential, Howard empowers leaders to overcome challenges and achieve transformative results. He is passionate about helping executives navigate complex decisions, build high-performing teams, and create thriving workplace cultures. Howard continues to inspire leaders worldwide through his unique insights and proven strategies.

Leadership vs. Management: The Symphony of Organizational Success

In the vast business world, two distinct roles often stand head and shoulders above the rest, guiding the fate of organizations: leadership and management. While they intertwine, their differences are what make businesses thrive. Let’s break down these roles and amplify our understanding with a story from the corporate trenches.

The Spark and The Blueprint: A Real-life Account

Imagine a bustling tech firm. At its helm was James, a charismatic leader, constantly illuminating paths to groundbreaking innovations. His team revered him for his vision, but there was a palpable disconnect: those visions weren’t translating into actionable outcomes.

This changed when Maya joined the ranks. Her meticulous planning and execution-focused mindset became the blueprint for James’ spark. Together, they showcased the dynamism of leadership and management. With his ability to inspire and see the unseen, James was balanced by Maya’s knack for transforming vision into actionable steps.

Leadership: The Beacon

Leadership is the heart and soul of an organization. It’s the ability to envision what’s beyond the horizon, inspire, and kindle passion. Leaders are the beacons, shining light on new directions and possibilities. They answer the question of WHY, driving motivation, and setting the bigger picture.

However, a beacon alone can’t set the course; it requires a map and a strategy.

Management: The Navigator

Management is the brain behind operations. It’s grounded in the present, anchored in the HOW. Managers create strategies, allocate resources, and ensure daily tasks align with overarching objectives. They are the navigators, taking the light from the beacon and plotting the best course forward.

Without navigation, even the brightest beacon can lead a ship astray.

Taking Action:

(1) Introspect: Understand where you naturally lean. Are you the beacon or the navigator? Recognizing this can help you strengthen your role and collaborate better.

(2) Collaborate: Pair visionaries with executors. This balance is vital to ensure that inspiration translates to action.

(3) Educate & Grow: The world of business is dynamic. Embrace continuous learning to refine both leadership and managerial skills.

Wrapping Up:

In the grand orchestra of business, leadership, and management are the two hands that play the piano, each vital, each unique. One sets the tone and the other ensures harmony. When businesses understand and respect these roles, they create a symphony of success.

Reflect on your organization. Are you championing both vision and execution? Harness the power of leadership and management; and let your business sing.

 

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc. His decades-long journey in business has seen him help organizations, guiding them from challenges to milestones. Howard’s expertise in both leadership and management has been a transformative force for countless businesses.

Steering the Ship: Navigating Organizational Changes with Teamwork and Clarity

Today, we’re diving into the world of organizational structure decisions and the challenges they bring. When executive teams fail to work in harmony and proper communication is lacking, the organization can face unnecessary collateral damage. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to steer the ship and guide our teams through these turbulent waters. This article explores strategies to avoid pitfalls and help everyone move forward productively.

A Clear Vision: The Foundation of Successful Decisions

Any significant organizational change requires a clear and compelling vision. As leaders, we must communicate this vision effectively to our teams, ensuring everyone is aligned and understands the purpose behind the decisions. When the vision is embraced by all, it becomes the guiding light through the transformation process.

Unifying the Executive Team: Embracing Collective Responsibility

The executive team plays a pivotal role in implementing changes. It’s crucial to foster a culture of collective responsibility where all members work together towards common objectives. Encourage regular meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and celebrate achievements. Strong teamwork among executives sets the tone for collaboration throughout the organization.

Transparent Communication: The Bridge to Success

One of the biggest reasons organizational changes fail is due to poor communication. Open and honest communication is essential during these times. Share updates, be transparent about the reasons for the changes, and actively listen to employees’ concerns. Embrace feedback and address it constructively, creating an environment of trust and respect.

Mitigating the Impact: Prioritizing Employee Support

Big decisions can create uncertainty and stress among employees. As leaders, we must prioritize supporting our teams through these transitions. Offer training and resources to equip them for the changes ahead. Acknowledge the challenges they might face and provide a safe space for them to share their apprehensions. Be accessible and approachable to address their needs.

The Art of Accountability: Learning from Mistakes

Organizational changes may not always go as planned, but that doesn’t mean failure is the end result. Leaders must take accountability for missteps, learn from them, and adapt the approach accordingly. Use these experiences as valuable lessons to refine the decision-making process and strengthen the organization’s resilience.

Complaining vs. Constructive Problem-Solving: Channeling Discontent

During times of significant change, emotions can run high, and complaints may arise. However, leaders must differentiate between mindless griping and constructive problem-solving. Encourage employees to share their concerns with a focus on finding solutions. This approach cultivates a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

Actionable Steps: Guiding Your Organization Through Change

(1) Craft a Compelling Vision: Develop a clear and inspiring vision for the organizational changes and ensure everyone understands and embraces it.

(2) Strengthen Executive Teamwork: Foster a culture of collective responsibility among the executive team to lead the way through the transformation.

(3) Transparent Communication: Keep employees informed through open, transparent communication, and actively listen to their feedback.

(4) Supporting Employees: Prioritize employee well-being by providing necessary training, resources, and a safe space for sharing concerns.

(5) Learn and Adapt: Take accountability for mistakes, learn from them, and adapt your approach to improve future decisions.

Call to Action: Leading with Grace and Resilience

As leaders, we have the power to steer our organizations through tumultuous times with grace and resilience. Let’s embrace transparency, foster teamwork, and prioritize employee support as we navigate the path to success.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., a renowned leadership development and executive coaching firm. With 20 years of experience guiding organizations to achieve their full potential, Howard empowers leaders to overcome challenges and achieve transformative results. He is passionate about helping executives navigate complex decisions, build high-performing teams, and create thriving workplace cultures. Howard consistently inspires leaders through his unique insights and proven strategies.

BOOK SUMMARY – The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues, by Patrick Lencioni

The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues,” by Patrick Lencioni*, presents a game-changing model for organizations striving to achieve harmonious teamwork and superior performance. The author encapsulates this in the triad of virtues: Humble, Hungry, and Smart.

Let’s delve into these virtues (Humble, Hungry, and Smart):

  1. Humble: Lencioni believes humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player. Humble individuals are quick to point out the contributions of others and slow to seek attention for their own. They share credit, emphasize team over self, and define success collectively rather than individually.
  2. Hungry: The hungry ones are always seeking more. More things to do. More to learn. More responsibility. They’re self-motivated and diligent. Their work ethic keeps them going when others drop their pace.
  3. Smart: Here, ‘smart’ does not refer to intellectual capacity. Instead, it refers to a person’s interpersonal intelligence. Smart people are intuitive in social situations. They understand the nuances of team interaction, how to handle others, and how to say things in a way that doesn’t upset or confuse them.

Lencioni illustrates the importance of these virtues through character profiles.

  • Pawn – Humble but not hungry or smart, leading to passivity.
  • Bulldozer – Hungry and smart but not humble, causing them to steamroll over others in their pursuit of goals.
  • Charmer – Smart but lacks humility and hunger, making them likable but unreliable.
  • Accidental Mess Maker – Humble and hungry but not smart, which means they unintentionally create issues.
  • Lovable Slacker – Humble and smart but not hungry, resulting in complacency.
  • Skillful Politician – Hungry and smart but not humble, leading to manipulative behaviors.
  • Ideal Team Player – Embodies all three virtues, aligning their personal ambitions with the team’s success, inspiring and uplifting others, and acting with intelligence and empathy.

How do we implement the Ideal Team Player model in our organizations?

  1. Hiring: During the recruitment process, look beyond technical skills. Incorporate behavioral interview techniques and scenario-based questions to identify humble, hungry, and smart traits. Remember, skills can be taught, but character is intrinsic.
  2. Assessing current employees: Use the model as a lens to evaluate your current team. This helps identify who may be lacking in one or more virtues. Everyone can have an off day, so consistent patterns should guide assessments, not isolated incidents.
  3. Developing employees: If you find team members lacking in any virtue, create personalized development plans. Coach and mentor them, providing actionable feedback to help them grow.
  4. Embedding in the organization’s culture: Make these virtues part of your company’s DNA. Celebrate and reward examples of humble, hungry, and smart behavior. Make them part of performance reviews, goal-setting, and team-building activities.

The key to embedding these virtues into your organization is consistency. Talk about them, live them, and hold each other accountable. This book’s brilliance lies not in a new concept but in the simplicity and clarity with which it refines what we already know to be true about effective teamwork. Lencioni’s model doesn’t just transform teams—it transforms entire organizations.

In summary, “The Ideal Team Player” is more than a book; it’s a road map to individual growth and organizational success. So, let’s all be humble enough to accept our shortcomings, hungry enough to keep growing, and smart enough to foster positive team dynamics. Together, we can build a culture where everyone is an ideal team.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group Inc, a distinguished business performance expert, and the author of best-selling books “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket.” With his wealth of experience, Shore helps organizations unlock their potential by putting people at the heart of their strategies. His motivational and positive tone empowers leaders to transform their businesses through his innovative techniques and thought leadership.

(*) Footnote: Lencioni, P. (2016). The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues. Jossey-Bass.

BOOK SUMMARY – Think Again by Adam Grant: The Power of Cognitive Humility and Scientific Thinking for Personal and Professional Growth

“Think Again” by Adam Grant is an enlightening book that encourages readers to embrace the power of rethinking. The author, a top-rated professor and researcher at Wharton, argues that by challenging our assumptions and being open to new ideas, we can improve our lives and contribute positively to society.

Grant begins by discussing the concept of “cognitive humility,” which is the willingness to acknowledge that our beliefs and opinions may not always be correct. He stresses the importance of seeking out diverse perspectives and being open to feedback, which can help us learn and grow.

The book also delves into the dangers of sticking to one’s convictions and the negative consequences of closed-mindedness. Grant provides numerous examples of individuals and organizations that have succeeded by being willing to reconsider their assumptions and make changes accordingly.

One of the key takeaways from “Think Again” is the idea of embracing the mindset of a “scientific thinker.” This involves adopting a curious and skeptical approach to information, gathering evidence and testing hypotheses before drawing conclusions. By doing so, we can avoid falling prey to confirmation bias and making decisions based on flawed assumptions.

The book also explores the importance of effective communication and the role that listening plays in fostering constructive dialogue. Grant provides practical advice on approaching difficult conversations and engaging in productive debate, highlighting the value of curiosity and humility in these interactions.

Overall, “Think Again” is a thought-provoking and inspiring read that encourages readers to embrace the power of rethinking. By adopting a curious and open-minded approach to life, we can become more resilient, adaptable, and successful in all areas of our lives.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group Inc, a distinguished business performance expert, and the author of best-selling books “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket.” With his wealth of experience, Shore helps organizations unlock their potential by putting people at the heart of their strategies. His motivational and positive tone empowers leaders to transform their businesses through his innovative techniques and thought leadership.

Why the Key to Employee Retention is Engagement: Unleashing the Power of People for Organizational Success

When Michigan-based manufacturer Acme Industries noticed a disturbing trend of dwindling employee morale and escalating turnover rates in 2022, they knew it was a wake-up call. The company, recognized for its innovative solutions, was suddenly grappling with a pervasive issue plaguing many organizations today: a disengaged workforce. This article explores why employee engagement is crucial for talent retention and how to create a thriving workplace environment that cultivates this engagement.

The Unseen ROI of Employee Retention

Retaining skilled employees goes beyond mere cost savings on recruitment. Experienced employees deliver superior productivity and work quality, thanks to their extensive understanding of their roles. Further, their deep-rooted knowledge about the business plays a significant role in nurturing customer relationships and driving business growth. A consistent workforce builds a culture of loyalty and commitment, fortifying the company’s stature as an employer of choice.

Essential Drivers for Retaining Talent

The crux of employee retention lies in grasping what motivates your talent pool. At the top of the list is fostering a culture of appreciation and recognition. In my book, “The Leader Launchpad,” I emphasize, “If you want to increase performance, start by increasing recognition.”

Secondly, availing growth and development opportunities is critical. In today’s dynamic business landscape, employees crave learning experiences that guarantee relevance and contribute to their career advancement.

Lastly, promoting a healthy work-life balance and a supportive work environment is vital. Employees stick around where they feel their personal lives and well-being are esteemed.

Effective Employee Retention Strategies

(1) Employee Engagement: Engaging employees is about inspiring them to align their energies with the company’s mission. Advocate open communication, solicit their thoughts, and acknowledge their input.

(2) Competitive Compensation: Ensure your pay scales and benefits package align with industry standards. Employees feel esteemed when they perceive they are justly compensated.

(3) Learning and Development Opportunities: Institute training programs and mentorship opportunities help foster careers instead of jobs. This move will enhance their skill sets and manifest your commitment to their professional progress.

(4) Promote a Positive Company Culture: Foster a workplace that respects diversity, encourages collaboration, and cherishes work-life balance.

It’s essential to remember, as I expounded in “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket,” “Processes are important, but people make the business.” Investing in employee engagement will undoubtedly reap long-term benefits.

Acme Industries embraced this philosophy. They focused on boosting employee engagement, prioritized open communication, and launched comprehensive training programs. The result was a dramatic turnaround – improved productivity, higher retention rates, and a stronger bottom line.

It’s not just about products or services; it’s about people. Organizations that understand this flourish. Implement these strategies to keep your top talent and build a high-performance culture that drives your business toward success.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group Inc, a distinguished business performance expert, and the author of best-selling books “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket.” With his wealth of experience, Shore helps organizations unlock their potential by putting people at the heart of their strategies. His motivational and positive tone empowers leaders to transform their businesses through his innovative techniques and thought leadership.

Leaders Get Out of Your Own Way

The CEO of a manufacturing company recently approached a business coach because he was frustrated by his organization’s performance. He knew it was underperforming, failing to achieve his objectives, had never had positive cash flow since he took the helm, yet he could not put his finger on why all this was happening. He thought that implementing a good leadership operating system would make all his problems go away. Little did he know that poor leadership was the cause and everything else was effect… Leaders Get Out of Your Own Way!

Without boring you with too many details, the coach facilitated a three-day retreat with the executive team, and it was clear why this company was having trouble. While this company did need a leadership operating system that could help guide them to make better and faster decisions, create winning strategies, limit focus on a few key priorities, align everyone, and hold people accountable, this company faced a bigger problem. The main issue was the dysfunction amongst the leadership team itself. Worse, the CEO could not see that his behavior was the center of it. He loved to argue every point, even when it did not matter, hated to lose more than he loved to win, belittled his leaders at every turn, and had to put his stamp on everything.

After several working sessions with the coach, the team came clean and told the CEO how they felt. Rather than taking this as an opportunity to grow and shift, the CEO’s ego took hold. He told everyone in the room that he did not believe he needed to change, and if they could not stand the heat they should find another place to work! As his coach tried to work with him to see how his people had become “yes” people, the opposite of what he told them he wanted, he became even more adamant that maybe they were just the wrong people. We call someone like this un-coachable. While the coach could help implement the leadership operating system, the effectiveness of the system was severely compromised by the inadequacy of the CEO, leaving an enormous amount of profit and growth potential on the table.

Are you concerned about how to get more out of your team? Have you wondered why one team functions better than another? Have you noticed that your team members are not contributing much in your meetings, but you know they have valuable ideas? Or worse, are you now questioning their capacity to grow.

I share this story right from the start because much of our success as coaches depends on how coachable our clients are. The tools and processes are only as good as the people we work with. Most companies have a lot more growth and profit potential staring them right in the face. Having a great team is right around the corner, but they can’t see it. Less stress, more control over the business, less drama, and happy customers can be more simply attained. The secret can be found in their “Leaky Bucket.” I discuss this in detail in Your Business Is a Leaky Bucket: Learn How to Avoid Losing Millions in Revenue and Profit Annually

The Leaky Bucket concept is very important. The leaks covered in the book will not be found in your financial statements. Yes, they impact the results, but not in ways that are easily measured. I used the Leaky Bucket as a metaphor to help you visualize cash pouring out of a bucket through lots of various sized holes. You can also imagine water flowing over the top because the bucket has not grown fast enough.

I mention my book because this whitepaper, goes deeper into the issues related to profit leak number 1, “poor leadership.” When you make allowances for poor leadership, you are deciding that a substandard leader has more to offer than everyone else put together, which is a fool’s bet. Your ineffective leader causes everyone else to perform at lower levels. You lose access to a lot of great ideas, and people are less apt to willingly give extra effort.

In this whitepaper, I want to address three issues that I have found that have the biggest effect on our ability to maximize success with a client. All three factors can be addressed through training and coaching as long as the “student” is a willing participant.

  • Ego Traps – It is obvious to most people that having too big an ego is not an appealing trait, and nothing good comes from it. Therefore, it is amazing how many leaders are unconsciously walking around daily suffering from an ego problem and inflicting harm to their careers, their team, and their organization.
  • Strength in Dealing with People – A lot more attention needs to be given to soft skills in the college setting. Too many people are walking around the workplace with little idea on how to properly work in teams, how to communicate effectively with others, and just practice simple people etiquette.
  • Learning How to Say “No” – I am sure you will agree that people are too conditioned to say “yes.” Learning how and when to say “no” is crucial to the success of your organization.

Ego Traps

After 35 years in the workforce, I am convinced that the number one hindrance to peak performance is ego. While you would no doubt agree with me, and are probably saying to yourself “duh”, ego problems are the least dealt-with issue and are the most severe the higher up we go in organizations. This is significant because leaders have more of an impact on their organizations than their subordinates. When you have a senior leader with an overinflated ego, business life is a train wreck!

If you have not read it yet, The Ideal Team Player, by Patrick Lencioni, must be at the top of every leader’s must-read list. In this book, Patrick recounts a story about leaders that discover the three virtues that are necessary to avoid having assholes working for them. Sorry for the language, but that was the story line. While it seems obvious in hindsight, he was right to identify that you are not an ideal team player if you do not possess humility, hunger, or common sense about how to interpersonally deal with people. I am going to deal with the last item later in this whitepaper. In his book, they describe people who lack humility and interpersonal skills as “bulldozers.” Imagine what this does to employee engagement, turnover, productivity, and so on. There is no way your organization could operate near its peak performance. Worse, it would be hard for you to recruit top talent or talent in general. Who wants to work for a “bulldozer?”

Are You Even Aware That Your Ego is Causing a Problem?

You may find this difficult to believe but many people do not recognize when their egos are clouding their judgment, swaying decision making, causing favoritism, inciting organizational strife, stifling teamwork, and causing high turnover rates. They refuse to consider the ideas of others, and in many cases, do nothing because they are afraid to be wrong. Ego is a blinder and a form of self-sabotage. It stops them from processing information and seeing the world as it is. In some cases, they are more concerned about themselves and blinded by the beauty of their names in lights that they fail to realize that it is not all about them, that others contributed to the results, that others are not there to serve the leader’s greatness, and that their job as the leader is to bring out the best of others.

“Being average means, you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.”John Wooden

The number one job of a leader is to make their employees’ jobs easier! I recently had breakfast with a CEO I am coaching, and he had mentioned that the COO seemed overloaded. He had wondered if he had hired the wrong person. As we talked, it became clear that they had never established clear priorities together. In other words, everything was important! When I started asking him questions about what he believed the top priorities where for this person in the current quarter, he paused. It was obvious that he was unsure. A great example of setting a good clear priority was an advertising agency that had too much complexity in its client intake process. It took two weeks and six different people to onboard a new client! After proper focus and attention, that was reduced to one hour and one person. That could not have happened had they not focused on a clear priority and de-emphasized other things to get that done.

You Can Reduce Complexity by Saying “No.”

A great example of a company that benefited from saying “no” is Southwest Airlines. They say “no” often. If you want reserved seating, you do not fly Southwest, because their boarding process does not allow for it. Southwest Airlines, unlike most of the competition, does not charge for bags. All of their planes are 737s. This simplifies their fleet, reduces the time it takes to train mechanics, and drastically improves inventory management. In addition, they do not provide onboard amenities. Also, you will notice they fly to just 101 destinations. They choose airports with lower gate fees. Additionally, you can only book flights on their website. The culmination of these “no” decisions is that they have remained one of the most profitable airlines in the industry. As of this writing, they are second only to Delta Airlines in market capitalization with approximately half the number of employees.

Saying “No” Will Simplify Your Life

Typically, leaders push back on the concept of saying “no”. To that end, make it a priority NOT to schedule any meetings or calls in the first three hours of each day. Use that time to work on one key task to move the rocks (your main priorities) out of your way. If you finish in less time, use the leftover time to go after the gravel, sand, and water tasks in that order, the lesser priorities that also fill your daily bucket. This ensures you are working on at least five key motivators each week. You have been trained since you entered the workforce to please your customers and your bosses. They make you feel as if you always have to go the extra mile and exceed expectations! The problem with this mentality is that by trying to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. You set yourself and others up for failure. You might think it takes courage to say “no”. In reality, it takes brains to say “no”. And the better practice is to prioritize your time commitments and always put thoughtful productivity at the forefront of your mind.

In Conclusion

Strong leadership is essential to maximizing the success of your organization. Failing to address a poor leader in your organization is the equivalence of leaking money out of your bucket. I encourage you to coach each leader in your organization to check their egos at the door. We all falter. When you notice colleagues faltering, reach out in a positive manner to help them see it so that you can all grow as leaders. Don’t assume that just because someone has poor people skills that it must stay that way. Recognize that they have never been taught or required to be any different. Take responsibility to help them see a new way of interacting with the team. Work hard as a leadership team to say “no” more often. Help everyone see what is most important and get better at letting the rest wait. In the end you will find an organization that will grow more profitability with a lot less drama.

 

Howard Shore is a business coach who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm, contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216.

 

“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”John Wooden

Our society is notorious for seeking immediate gratification. The benefit of better health is a long-term goal. In the short term, however, a person is apt to avoid the pain of sore muscles and the loss of self-esteem that goes along with confirming one’s own bad physical shape by not going to the gym. In other words, they feel better about not going to the gym than they do about going. This is immediate gratification, even though the decision is a bad one for long-term goals.

To change behavior, you must identify the immediate gratification you get from your bad behavior and the thought patterns that cause you to continue to practice it. Once identified, you must find something more motivating to replace them. For example, many people would exercise if their doctor told them, “If you do not start to regularly exercise tomorrow, you’ll have only six months to live. If you do exercise regularly, you will live another twenty-five years.” That is quite a carrot to dangle.

An additional aspect of using time is that most people do not have a good sense of where their time goes. At least once every six months, executives should track their time to see where they really spend it. Once you have a solid understanding of how you spend your time, you can redirect time you control and use it more productively by delegating activities to others.

Are You Chasing Revenue Everywhere?

A key area where leaders have the hardest time saying “no” is when it comes to revenue.  This is critical. Not only is this a critical strategic conversation, it is also an issue that can destroy a significant amount of your organizational resources; both time and money. Not all revenue is good revenue. In addition, the more market segments target, geographies you try to conquer, product and services you offer, and distribution channels required, the more resources required. It is important to be prudent in how you go about building your revenue. It is very important to know when and how to say “no”!

Your strategy will help you consider the best type of revenue to target. The predictability and consistency of your revenue growth rate are important measures of the health of your business. A key to driving your growth is targeting the right market segment, not aiming to be all things to all segments. You might love pie, but you’d likely not be feeling too well if you ate the entire pie at one sitting. The same is true regarding the health of your business. You must pick the right slice and exercise moderation. Targeting every source of revenue can leave you spread thin, the proverbial jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Profit leaks result from not focusing your efforts on the most valuable and sensible avenues for revenue.

What does this have to do with saying “no?” Positioning your company in a growth industry, market segment, or sector is crucial to the continued success of your company. To have future growth, regardless of how you are doing in this quarter or year, there must be a target market that your products/services are focused on and that is regularly growing. When businesses mistakenly chase revenue anywhere it leads them, they wind up with less of it. Great companies quickly learn that by segmenting the marketplace, they can perfect their business model around owning their segment or slice of the pie.

Without Saying “No”, Everything Is Equally Important

You set your employees up for failure by saying yes to everything. When everything is important, nothing is truly important! Perfection does not exist. Simple math dictates that the more things you randomly throw on someone’s plate, the less time they have to spend on each thing. Overloads cause leaks in company buckets.

A domino effect occurs when leaders cannot say “no” to anything. Let’s take the people ramifications. The more complicated your service model, the more talented your service staff has to be. They have to be smarter than the average employee in the marketplace while also maintaining specialized skills to handle your customers. That said, when you overload them with responsibilities, you’ll find they cannot reach all your original projected goals.

“Being average means, you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.”John Wooden

The number one job of a leader is to make their employees’ jobs easier! I recently had breakfast with a CEO I am coaching, and he had mentioned that the COO seemed overloaded. He had wondered if he had hired the wrong person. As we talked, it became clear that they had never established clear priorities together. In other words, everything was important! When I started asking him questions about what he believed the top priorities where for this person in the current quarter, he paused. It was obvious that he was unsure. A great example of setting a good clear priority was an advertising agency that had too much complexity in its client intake process. It took two weeks and six different people to onboard a new client! After proper focus and attention, that was reduced to one hour and one person. That could not have happened had they not focused on a clear priority and de-emphasized other things to get that done.

You Can Reduce Complexity by Saying “No.”

A great example of a company that benefited from saying “no” is Southwest Airlines. They say “no” often. If you want reserved seating, you do not fly Southwest, because their boarding process does not allow for it. Southwest Airlines, unlike most of the competition, does not charge for bags. All of their planes are 737s. This simplifies their fleet, reduces the time it takes to train mechanics, and drastically improves inventory management. In addition, they do not provide onboard amenities. Also, you will notice they fly to just 101 destinations. They choose airports with lower gate fees. Additionally, you can only book flights on their website. The culmination of these “no” decisions is that they have remained one of the most profitable airlines in the industry. As of this writing, they are second only to Delta Airlines in market capitalization with approximately half the number of employees.

Saying “No” Will Simplify Your Life

Typically, leaders push back on the concept of saying “no”. To that end, make it a priority NOT to schedule any meetings or calls in the first three hours of each day. Use that time to work on one key task to move the rocks (your main priorities) out of your way. If you finish in less time, use the leftover time to go after the gravel, sand, and water tasks in that order, the lesser priorities that also fill your daily bucket. This ensures you are working on at least five key motivators each week. You have been trained since you entered the workforce to please your customers and your bosses. They make you feel as if you always have to go the extra mile and exceed expectations! The problem with this mentality is that by trying to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. You set yourself and others up for failure. You might think it takes courage to say “no”. In reality, it takes brains to say “no”. And the better practice is to prioritize your time commitments and always put thoughtful productivity at the forefront of your mind.

In Conclusion

Strong leadership is essential to maximizing the success of your organization. Failing to address a poor leader in your organization is the equivalence of leaking money out of your bucket. I encourage you to coach each leader in your organization to check their egos at the door. We all falter. When you notice colleagues faltering, reach out in a positive manner to help them see it so that you can all grow as leaders. Don’t assume that just because someone has poor people skills that it must stay that way. Recognize that they have never been taught or required to be any different. Take responsibility to help them see a new way of interacting with the team. Work hard as a leadership team to say “no” more often. Help everyone see what is most important and get better at letting the rest wait. In the end you will find an organization that will grow more profitability with a lot less drama.

 

Howard Shore is a business coach who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm, contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216.

 

“You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes.”John Wooden

The Multiplier has a completely different way of handling people. Where Diminishers cause people to underperform, Multipliers can get the very best out of people and some believe exceed expectations. They are considered “liberators” as they create an intense environment that requires people to tap into their best thinking and work. They are considered “challengers” as they define an opportunity that causes people to stretch rather than the directive that limits the outcome. The Multiplier wants to make sound decisions, so they encourage vigorous debate on important decisions, usually staying quiet during the debate. After all, they know their own opinion. They really value the opinions of their team. They are “investors” as they invest in people to take ownership of results and are invested in their success!

Learning How to Say No!

In my book, Your Business is A Leaky Bucket, profit leak number 12 is dedicated to “being allergic to saying “no”. Rarely do I meet someone that tells me that they have mastered the use of time! If you are one of those people, you primarily work only those things that will contribute the biggest impact to your organization and role, and you are good at deferring, delegating, or discarding the rest. As a leader, you are communicating well, and you are emphasizing messages you really want your team to hear. Most importantly, you are clear on the right type of opportunities you expect your team to aggressively pursue and those you want them to defer, delegate, or discard. To a very large degree, your success depends on it.

Do You Use Your Time or Does Your Time Use You?

You cannot manage time itself, but you can manage how you choose to use your time. We are under more time pressure than ever, and those little gadgets like cell phones may make our lives much harder than easier.

Time is the great equalizer. Everyone gets the same amount of time: 24 hours in each day. You cannot buy more time, and no one can give you more of it. Thus, the most important question you can ask daily is: “How can I and my team use time more wisely?”

One of the essential keys to maximizing success as an individual or an organization is to effectively determine where your time should go now and into the future. Where you used time in the past only serves as a guide, a learning mechanism for your decisions as to where time should be used in the future. One person in your group losing focus on congruent goals can impact everyone’s time and even create a huge barrier to success.

Too often people search in the wrong places when trying to understand why they are not achieving their goals. They think there is something wrong with the time management program they’re using, so they buy a new one. The real problem is not what program or process they currently use. Rather, it is what habits of thoughts and attitudes they use to decide how they will use their time.

To do that, you must pick and choose which opportunities and tasks to undertake. Time and priority management is a skill few people master, but every person needs. One of the greatest mistakes many leaders make is to say “yes” too often. In many cases, time management is more about what you decide not to do, rather than what you do. Does your leadership team fail to say “no” often enough? Or does it choose to chase fires rather than identify and address the real issues staring them in the face? While there is no exact percentage, you should be passing on at least 25 percent of the opportunities and responsibilities that come your way. Otherwise, you will find yourself spending far too much time on tasks you never should have agreed to take on in the first place.

Belief systems lead to actions that cause results, which then impact your time management. If you or your people behave in counterproductive ways, try to identify what the belief systems are that cause that behavior. For example, let’s say you decide you should exercise three days a week to improve your health. Your primary belief system, however, is that exercise is boring and painful. What do you think the chances are you’ll implement that “decision” to exercise three days a week?

Commonly, I hear CEOs complain that they spend little or no time on their strategic priorities. Instead, they spend their days putting out fires and dealing with their employee issues. They are usually insistent this is just part of business as usual. However, a closer examination teaches us that some people like to put out fires. They enjoy the immediate gratification of handling the daily emergencies, want to be the ones with all the answers, and have trouble saying “no” to others. These habits directly impact their ability to manage their time effectively.

“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”John Wooden

Our society is notorious for seeking immediate gratification. The benefit of better health is a long-term goal. In the short term, however, a person is apt to avoid the pain of sore muscles and the loss of self-esteem that goes along with confirming one’s own bad physical shape by not going to the gym. In other words, they feel better about not going to the gym than they do about going. This is immediate gratification, even though the decision is a bad one for long-term goals.

To change behavior, you must identify the immediate gratification you get from your bad behavior and the thought patterns that cause you to continue to practice it. Once identified, you must find something more motivating to replace them. For example, many people would exercise if their doctor told them, “If you do not start to regularly exercise tomorrow, you’ll have only six months to live. If you do exercise regularly, you will live another twenty-five years.” That is quite a carrot to dangle.

An additional aspect of using time is that most people do not have a good sense of where their time goes. At least once every six months, executives should track their time to see where they really spend it. Once you have a solid understanding of how you spend your time, you can redirect time you control and use it more productively by delegating activities to others.

Are You Chasing Revenue Everywhere?

A key area where leaders have the hardest time saying “no” is when it comes to revenue.  This is critical. Not only is this a critical strategic conversation, it is also an issue that can destroy a significant amount of your organizational resources; both time and money. Not all revenue is good revenue. In addition, the more market segments target, geographies you try to conquer, product and services you offer, and distribution channels required, the more resources required. It is important to be prudent in how you go about building your revenue. It is very important to know when and how to say “no”!

Your strategy will help you consider the best type of revenue to target. The predictability and consistency of your revenue growth rate are important measures of the health of your business. A key to driving your growth is targeting the right market segment, not aiming to be all things to all segments. You might love pie, but you’d likely not be feeling too well if you ate the entire pie at one sitting. The same is true regarding the health of your business. You must pick the right slice and exercise moderation. Targeting every source of revenue can leave you spread thin, the proverbial jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Profit leaks result from not focusing your efforts on the most valuable and sensible avenues for revenue.

What does this have to do with saying “no?” Positioning your company in a growth industry, market segment, or sector is crucial to the continued success of your company. To have future growth, regardless of how you are doing in this quarter or year, there must be a target market that your products/services are focused on and that is regularly growing. When businesses mistakenly chase revenue anywhere it leads them, they wind up with less of it. Great companies quickly learn that by segmenting the marketplace, they can perfect their business model around owning their segment or slice of the pie.

Without Saying “No”, Everything Is Equally Important

You set your employees up for failure by saying yes to everything. When everything is important, nothing is truly important! Perfection does not exist. Simple math dictates that the more things you randomly throw on someone’s plate, the less time they have to spend on each thing. Overloads cause leaks in company buckets.

A domino effect occurs when leaders cannot say “no” to anything. Let’s take the people ramifications. The more complicated your service model, the more talented your service staff has to be. They have to be smarter than the average employee in the marketplace while also maintaining specialized skills to handle your customers. That said, when you overload them with responsibilities, you’ll find they cannot reach all your original projected goals.

“Being average means, you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.”John Wooden

The number one job of a leader is to make their employees’ jobs easier! I recently had breakfast with a CEO I am coaching, and he had mentioned that the COO seemed overloaded. He had wondered if he had hired the wrong person. As we talked, it became clear that they had never established clear priorities together. In other words, everything was important! When I started asking him questions about what he believed the top priorities where for this person in the current quarter, he paused. It was obvious that he was unsure. A great example of setting a good clear priority was an advertising agency that had too much complexity in its client intake process. It took two weeks and six different people to onboard a new client! After proper focus and attention, that was reduced to one hour and one person. That could not have happened had they not focused on a clear priority and de-emphasized other things to get that done.

You Can Reduce Complexity by Saying “No.”

A great example of a company that benefited from saying “no” is Southwest Airlines. They say “no” often. If you want reserved seating, you do not fly Southwest, because their boarding process does not allow for it. Southwest Airlines, unlike most of the competition, does not charge for bags. All of their planes are 737s. This simplifies their fleet, reduces the time it takes to train mechanics, and drastically improves inventory management. In addition, they do not provide onboard amenities. Also, you will notice they fly to just 101 destinations. They choose airports with lower gate fees. Additionally, you can only book flights on their website. The culmination of these “no” decisions is that they have remained one of the most profitable airlines in the industry. As of this writing, they are second only to Delta Airlines in market capitalization with approximately half the number of employees.

Saying “No” Will Simplify Your Life

Typically, leaders push back on the concept of saying “no”. To that end, make it a priority NOT to schedule any meetings or calls in the first three hours of each day. Use that time to work on one key task to move the rocks (your main priorities) out of your way. If you finish in less time, use the leftover time to go after the gravel, sand, and water tasks in that order, the lesser priorities that also fill your daily bucket. This ensures you are working on at least five key motivators each week. You have been trained since you entered the workforce to please your customers and your bosses. They make you feel as if you always have to go the extra mile and exceed expectations! The problem with this mentality is that by trying to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. You set yourself and others up for failure. You might think it takes courage to say “no”. In reality, it takes brains to say “no”. And the better practice is to prioritize your time commitments and always put thoughtful productivity at the forefront of your mind.

In Conclusion

Strong leadership is essential to maximizing the success of your organization. Failing to address a poor leader in your organization is the equivalence of leaking money out of your bucket. I encourage you to coach each leader in your organization to check their egos at the door. We all falter. When you notice colleagues faltering, reach out in a positive manner to help them see it so that you can all grow as leaders. Don’t assume that just because someone has poor people skills that it must stay that way. Recognize that they have never been taught or required to be any different. Take responsibility to help them see a new way of interacting with the team. Work hard as a leadership team to say “no” more often. Help everyone see what is most important and get better at letting the rest wait. In the end you will find an organization that will grow more profitability with a lot less drama.

 

Howard Shore is a business coach who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm, contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216.

 

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”John Wooden

The degree of assertiveness you use in dealing with people provokes fairly predictable reactions by others, which in turn help determine how effective you are as a leader. Assertive communication is characterized by honesty. It enforces rules, requires results, and is a direct approach that shows concern for yourself and others. It communicates the message that “you are both okay.”

This communication style could be construed as treating all the individuals involved as equal, each deserving of respect, and no more entitled than another to have things done their way. You feel connected to others when you are speaking to them, and you are trying to help them take control of their lives. You address issues and problems as they arise and create environments where others can grow and mature.

The reason assertive communication is so effective is that it combines the positive dimensions of both aggressive and passive communicators. The assertive communicator is goal-oriented and direct, and at the same time is a good listener, considerate, and thoughtful. Thus, the assertive leader bridges the most positive aspects of the two other styles of behavior while at the same time avoiding the negative aspects of those two styles. The assertive style is both a good human relations style and a good team-building style for any organization. The assertive leader is viewed as someone who is strong, energetic, and is both able and willing to fight for resources needed by the department. Further, the assertive leader does not appear to play favorites, since he or she does not bend rules or fail to enforce rules in an effort to be liked by others. This leadership style is most admired by team members and employees.

Leadership Biases

As I mentioned above, there are some biases that I believe leaders have that severely hamper their interactions with people. While there are many I could discuss, there are two biases that cause some significant lost opportunities in organizations.

God Complex

I have met too many leaders, particularly founders, who believe everyone in their company exists to serve them. While it is true they started the business, and at one point you could say they were the business, at some point the organization must grow up and operate as a business, not a bunch of serfs working for their master. Everyone in a successful business, including the founder, exists to provide products and services to customers.

Each person in the organization has a role in the process of providing products and services. As a team, we help each other to do a better job than our competition so that we can operate more profitably, and thus enable everyone to earn their fair compensation and the business to expand and create more jobs. The leader’s job is to make the subordinate’s job easier so that all are in a better position to serve our customers well. Not the other way around!

I have witnessed servant leaders on average get two to three times the productivity of those that have the god complex. Their employees give extra effort, work efficiently, and spend extra time looking after the customer. Ironically, they spend more time looking after their leaders than subordinates of leaders with a god complex. I believe the reason is that the latter secretly resent their boss and do the minimums to stay out of trouble.

Leaders with this complex cause everyone else to be inefficient. Employees spend their days readjusting their schedules from best serving customer to best serving the leader, resulting in severe organizational inefficiency. Such leaders misuse resources and do not even recognize it because they are so selfish.

Others Will Not Figure Things Out Without Me

In a world where most jobs require people to use their brains, and each situation is a little different, most roles are filled with knowledgeable workers. Ironically, many leaders do not treat them as such. In Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, Liz Wiseman identified the difference between leaders who access and revitalize the intelligence in the people around them (Multipliers) and those whose view of intelligence is based on elitism and scarcity (Diminishers). The Diminishers believe that intelligent people are a rare breed and that they are one of those few smart people. They then conclude that other people will never figure things out without them.

Here is the rub! We are all Multipliers and Diminishers. The questions are how often are we multipliers and with whom? Leaders that have huge ego problems are most often Diminishers. I know of one CEO that terrorizes the leadership team and other employees daily with emails micromanaging their every activity. This CEO’s team loses tremendous daily productivity in order to respond to those emails, provide reports to show what is being asked for, and attend update meetings so the boss can show them what to do.

Diminishers have other traits that cause them to get far less productivity than their people are capable of. The “tyrant” creates a tense environment that suppresses people’s thinking and capability. We have all been around that leader who loves to debate everything, hates to lose, and loves to win. It takes too much energy to get our own points across, so we just don’t even try.

Another Diminisher is the “know-it-all” that gives directives that showcase how much they know. Then there is the “decision-maker” who makes centralized, abrupt decisions that confuse the organization.

“You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes.”John Wooden

The Multiplier has a completely different way of handling people. Where Diminishers cause people to underperform, Multipliers can get the very best out of people and some believe exceed expectations. They are considered “liberators” as they create an intense environment that requires people to tap into their best thinking and work. They are considered “challengers” as they define an opportunity that causes people to stretch rather than the directive that limits the outcome. The Multiplier wants to make sound decisions, so they encourage vigorous debate on important decisions, usually staying quiet during the debate. After all, they know their own opinion. They really value the opinions of their team. They are “investors” as they invest in people to take ownership of results and are invested in their success!

Learning How to Say No!

In my book, Your Business is A Leaky Bucket, profit leak number 12 is dedicated to “being allergic to saying “no”. Rarely do I meet someone that tells me that they have mastered the use of time! If you are one of those people, you primarily work only those things that will contribute the biggest impact to your organization and role, and you are good at deferring, delegating, or discarding the rest. As a leader, you are communicating well, and you are emphasizing messages you really want your team to hear. Most importantly, you are clear on the right type of opportunities you expect your team to aggressively pursue and those you want them to defer, delegate, or discard. To a very large degree, your success depends on it.

Do You Use Your Time or Does Your Time Use You?

You cannot manage time itself, but you can manage how you choose to use your time. We are under more time pressure than ever, and those little gadgets like cell phones may make our lives much harder than easier.

Time is the great equalizer. Everyone gets the same amount of time: 24 hours in each day. You cannot buy more time, and no one can give you more of it. Thus, the most important question you can ask daily is: “How can I and my team use time more wisely?”

One of the essential keys to maximizing success as an individual or an organization is to effectively determine where your time should go now and into the future. Where you used time in the past only serves as a guide, a learning mechanism for your decisions as to where time should be used in the future. One person in your group losing focus on congruent goals can impact everyone’s time and even create a huge barrier to success.

Too often people search in the wrong places when trying to understand why they are not achieving their goals. They think there is something wrong with the time management program they’re using, so they buy a new one. The real problem is not what program or process they currently use. Rather, it is what habits of thoughts and attitudes they use to decide how they will use their time.

To do that, you must pick and choose which opportunities and tasks to undertake. Time and priority management is a skill few people master, but every person needs. One of the greatest mistakes many leaders make is to say “yes” too often. In many cases, time management is more about what you decide not to do, rather than what you do. Does your leadership team fail to say “no” often enough? Or does it choose to chase fires rather than identify and address the real issues staring them in the face? While there is no exact percentage, you should be passing on at least 25 percent of the opportunities and responsibilities that come your way. Otherwise, you will find yourself spending far too much time on tasks you never should have agreed to take on in the first place.

Belief systems lead to actions that cause results, which then impact your time management. If you or your people behave in counterproductive ways, try to identify what the belief systems are that cause that behavior. For example, let’s say you decide you should exercise three days a week to improve your health. Your primary belief system, however, is that exercise is boring and painful. What do you think the chances are you’ll implement that “decision” to exercise three days a week?

Commonly, I hear CEOs complain that they spend little or no time on their strategic priorities. Instead, they spend their days putting out fires and dealing with their employee issues. They are usually insistent this is just part of business as usual. However, a closer examination teaches us that some people like to put out fires. They enjoy the immediate gratification of handling the daily emergencies, want to be the ones with all the answers, and have trouble saying “no” to others. These habits directly impact their ability to manage their time effectively.

“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”John Wooden

Our society is notorious for seeking immediate gratification. The benefit of better health is a long-term goal. In the short term, however, a person is apt to avoid the pain of sore muscles and the loss of self-esteem that goes along with confirming one’s own bad physical shape by not going to the gym. In other words, they feel better about not going to the gym than they do about going. This is immediate gratification, even though the decision is a bad one for long-term goals.

To change behavior, you must identify the immediate gratification you get from your bad behavior and the thought patterns that cause you to continue to practice it. Once identified, you must find something more motivating to replace them. For example, many people would exercise if their doctor told them, “If you do not start to regularly exercise tomorrow, you’ll have only six months to live. If you do exercise regularly, you will live another twenty-five years.” That is quite a carrot to dangle.

An additional aspect of using time is that most people do not have a good sense of where their time goes. At least once every six months, executives should track their time to see where they really spend it. Once you have a solid understanding of how you spend your time, you can redirect time you control and use it more productively by delegating activities to others.

Are You Chasing Revenue Everywhere?

A key area where leaders have the hardest time saying “no” is when it comes to revenue.  This is critical. Not only is this a critical strategic conversation, it is also an issue that can destroy a significant amount of your organizational resources; both time and money. Not all revenue is good revenue. In addition, the more market segments target, geographies you try to conquer, product and services you offer, and distribution channels required, the more resources required. It is important to be prudent in how you go about building your revenue. It is very important to know when and how to say “no”!

Your strategy will help you consider the best type of revenue to target. The predictability and consistency of your revenue growth rate are important measures of the health of your business. A key to driving your growth is targeting the right market segment, not aiming to be all things to all segments. You might love pie, but you’d likely not be feeling too well if you ate the entire pie at one sitting. The same is true regarding the health of your business. You must pick the right slice and exercise moderation. Targeting every source of revenue can leave you spread thin, the proverbial jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Profit leaks result from not focusing your efforts on the most valuable and sensible avenues for revenue.

What does this have to do with saying “no?” Positioning your company in a growth industry, market segment, or sector is crucial to the continued success of your company. To have future growth, regardless of how you are doing in this quarter or year, there must be a target market that your products/services are focused on and that is regularly growing. When businesses mistakenly chase revenue anywhere it leads them, they wind up with less of it. Great companies quickly learn that by segmenting the marketplace, they can perfect their business model around owning their segment or slice of the pie.

Without Saying “No”, Everything Is Equally Important

You set your employees up for failure by saying yes to everything. When everything is important, nothing is truly important! Perfection does not exist. Simple math dictates that the more things you randomly throw on someone’s plate, the less time they have to spend on each thing. Overloads cause leaks in company buckets.

A domino effect occurs when leaders cannot say “no” to anything. Let’s take the people ramifications. The more complicated your service model, the more talented your service staff has to be. They have to be smarter than the average employee in the marketplace while also maintaining specialized skills to handle your customers. That said, when you overload them with responsibilities, you’ll find they cannot reach all your original projected goals.

“Being average means, you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.”John Wooden

The number one job of a leader is to make their employees’ jobs easier! I recently had breakfast with a CEO I am coaching, and he had mentioned that the COO seemed overloaded. He had wondered if he had hired the wrong person. As we talked, it became clear that they had never established clear priorities together. In other words, everything was important! When I started asking him questions about what he believed the top priorities where for this person in the current quarter, he paused. It was obvious that he was unsure. A great example of setting a good clear priority was an advertising agency that had too much complexity in its client intake process. It took two weeks and six different people to onboard a new client! After proper focus and attention, that was reduced to one hour and one person. That could not have happened had they not focused on a clear priority and de-emphasized other things to get that done.

You Can Reduce Complexity by Saying “No.”

A great example of a company that benefited from saying “no” is Southwest Airlines. They say “no” often. If you want reserved seating, you do not fly Southwest, because their boarding process does not allow for it. Southwest Airlines, unlike most of the competition, does not charge for bags. All of their planes are 737s. This simplifies their fleet, reduces the time it takes to train mechanics, and drastically improves inventory management. In addition, they do not provide onboard amenities. Also, you will notice they fly to just 101 destinations. They choose airports with lower gate fees. Additionally, you can only book flights on their website. The culmination of these “no” decisions is that they have remained one of the most profitable airlines in the industry. As of this writing, they are second only to Delta Airlines in market capitalization with approximately half the number of employees.

Saying “No” Will Simplify Your Life

Typically, leaders push back on the concept of saying “no”. To that end, make it a priority NOT to schedule any meetings or calls in the first three hours of each day. Use that time to work on one key task to move the rocks (your main priorities) out of your way. If you finish in less time, use the leftover time to go after the gravel, sand, and water tasks in that order, the lesser priorities that also fill your daily bucket. This ensures you are working on at least five key motivators each week. You have been trained since you entered the workforce to please your customers and your bosses. They make you feel as if you always have to go the extra mile and exceed expectations! The problem with this mentality is that by trying to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. You set yourself and others up for failure. You might think it takes courage to say “no”. In reality, it takes brains to say “no”. And the better practice is to prioritize your time commitments and always put thoughtful productivity at the forefront of your mind.

In Conclusion

Strong leadership is essential to maximizing the success of your organization. Failing to address a poor leader in your organization is the equivalence of leaking money out of your bucket. I encourage you to coach each leader in your organization to check their egos at the door. We all falter. When you notice colleagues faltering, reach out in a positive manner to help them see it so that you can all grow as leaders. Don’t assume that just because someone has poor people skills that it must stay that way. Recognize that they have never been taught or required to be any different. Take responsibility to help them see a new way of interacting with the team. Work hard as a leadership team to say “no” more often. Help everyone see what is most important and get better at letting the rest wait. In the end you will find an organization that will grow more profitability with a lot less drama.

 

Howard Shore is a business coach who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm, contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216.

 

 “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”John Wooden

Do you easily compliment or praise teammates without hesitation? Do you easily admit mistakes? Do you easily take lower-level work for the good of the team? How easily do you defer credit to the team for accomplishments? Do you easily acknowledge and seek help for your weaknesses? Do you offer and accept apologies graciously? If your colleagues do not indicate that for each of these questions you “usually” act in that manner, you have an ego problem.

There are Two Types of Ego Issues

There are two primary ways in which Ego manifests itself. The first is when someone thinks too highly of themselves. This person spends a lot of their time making sure everyone knows how great they are, making sure they get their time on stage. You get to hear their incredible opinions, taking all the credit for success, posting their picture every two minutes on Facebook and Instagram to show you everywhere they are, who they’re with, and their latest recognition. We will refer to this as false pride. The second type, is fear or self-doubt, which is when you think less of yourself than you should and are consumed with your own shortcomings. In many cases, these people can be more damaging than the false pride folks as they can significantly erode their effectiveness or the effectiveness of their departments.

One of the hardest challenges for leaders is to remain grounded in the face of their success. When everyone defers to you, it must be tempting to start believing your own press releases. It must be easy to think: I am smarter, more charismatic, and more powerful than everyone else. As leaders reach a point where they believe their opinion matters more than yours, they stop listening. And that means they stop learning.  Leaders dominated by false pride are often called controllers. Even when they don’t know what they are doing, they have a high need for power and control.

As an Executive Coach, I’ve encountered many controllers who really believe their people cannot possibly decide without them. They act as bottlenecks to their organizations because everything has to flow through them. They honestly believe they are right every time; every change they make to a document was crucial to its success; they are the best at selecting new employees; and they are expert at every function in the company. This is, of course, buffoonery, but they cannot see it. They can see everyone else’s mistakes but their own. The organization ends its days cleaning up their leader’s messes, doing double and triple the work, and keeping their ideas to themselves because there is no way around it.

At the other end of the spectrum are the fear-driven managers, often characterized as do-nothing bosses. They are described as never around, always avoiding conflict, and not very helpful. They often leave their team members alone, even when these individuals are insecure and need help.

Do-nothing bosses don’t believe in themselves or trust their own judgment. They value others’ thoughts more than their own, especially thoughts from those to whom they report. Thus, they rarely speak out and support their own team members.

Solutions to the Ego Barrier

The great thing about the “ego” trap is that it is a coachable issue. Now keep in mind, one is only coachable if they desire being coached and want to change. If not, you can stop reading because the person you’re dealing with is not going to change.

In The Ideal Team Player, Lencioni suggests we make the three virtues mandatory in our organizations. If someone is not willing to be coached and does not address their humility problem, I would remove them from the organization. In the long run, such people will cost you far more than they can possibly be worth. They cause everyone else to be less effective, and no one person is worth more than the many. If you happen to be a subordinate of this person, and there is no chance they will be replaced (because they are the owner or CEO), then my recommendation is to leave. You will never receive the appreciation you deserve. They will always cause unnecessary drama for you and other teammates, and there will be more pleasurable places to work. Life is too short, and you deserve better!

Now if you want to address the ego barrier here are some practical suggestions for developing your humility:

  • If you suffer fear or self-doubt, it is important identify the cause of your insecurity. I would work backwards in time to discover when it started and how it manifested. Whatever the cause, it is often helpful to share your issue(s) with teammates and manager and ask them for help to overcome it/them. While this seems counterintuitive, it is often liberating when you share with others. You will often receive a lot of empathy and support, and it makes it easier for others to coach you through it when they realize you are aware of your issues and want help.
  • Practice giving credit to others. Giving credit to others helps break your habit of taking credit for everything. A great exercise every leader should practice is to find a least one genuine compliment you can give to at least one employee daily. Keep track and see how many times you give praise versus criticism daily. It is instructive. Leaders that lack humility really struggle with this one at first. I can remember one client with more than 60 employees that refused to do this exercise after their culture survey came back indicating that employees felt they rarely if ever received praise from any managers in the company. In this person’s mind, it was the equivalent of giving everyone a trophy for showing up to work. The CEO felt that it was not appropriate to compliment someone for doing their job. You will not be surprised to know that this organization receives very low employee engagement scores every year and has a serious problem recruiting new employees.
  • Be vulnerable. People cannot relate to superheroes. Recognize and acknowledge your weaker points. On a piece of paper, identify the skills you are weak at. Identify the behaviors that get in your way. Next, I want you to draw 4 squares on a piece of paper. In Square 1, list the activities in the company that you love to do and are great at. In Square 2, list the activities you do that you are great at but don’t like to do. In Square 3, make a list of the activities that you are involved in that you are not good at but like to do. In Square 4, list the activities you are involved in that you are not good at and don’t like to do. If you do not have a fair number of items in 2, 3 and 4, you were not brutally honest. Now sit down with your team and share with the team what you have learned. Show your humility and immediately delegate everything in boxes 3 and 4 to others because there are people who can do those items 5 to 10 times faster and better than you. Stop meddling. Ask your teammates if they agree with you in terms of your strengths in boxes 1 and 2, and be willing to hear them out. Anything that you should have put in boxes 3 and 4, delegate to others. Then figure out what from Square 2 you can give to someone else.
  • Seek mentorship. Find three people you trust to serve as mentors. Choose mentors you can trust to tell you the truth even when it hurts. Make a commitment to listen to their opinions with an open mind.

Strength in Dealing with People

The second most crucial issue I see holding back organizations is how leaders treat their people. In Lencioni’s The Ideal Team Player, the essential virtue of “smart”, which he describes as a person’s common sense about people and their ability to be interpersonally appropriate and aware in individual and group situations. I agree with Patrick that this is an essential component in teamwork and being a leader. However, there is another dimension I want to address, namely the leader’s biases toward how they view subordinates and colleagues in general.

Let’s first address the leader’s common sense about people. Much has been written about emotional intelligence, but not enough has been done to apply it. Let’s face how most leaders have been selected in your organization and others. The people that are the hardest workers, with the most industry knowledge, highest technical acumen, people you may feel comfortable with and have been with the company the longest are usually given the most attention. Soft skill qualities are usually identified as important but, let’s face it, are usually considered secondary.

After all, how often have you seen people in companies that are horrible communicators, cause tons of drama, directly cause the most turnover, and survive year after year because they deliver results or are coveted for the reasons I described above. They are considered irreplaceable because of their customer relationships, contacts, institutional knowledge, etc. In the end, they are horrible with people and are severely holding your company back because you have decided that this one person is more valuable than the many they are infecting.

Worse, once you have tolerated one person treating other people badly, you are telling others that being a jackass is okay. You are indicating to all your employees that treating people with dignity, respect, and character does not affect results. You are indicating that we should not care about the feelings of others. Just focus on results because that is all we care about. If you deliver results, you are untouchable.

The Key Is Assertive Communication

You probably wondering where I was heading with the above. I am sure if I audited your company, I would find at least one leader that has poor emotional intelligence, and you are tolerating it. As an executive and business coach, I witness this issue daily in every organization. What I find frustrating is that leaders allow the dysfunction to continue. I have found that improving your decision making, leadership team chemistry, and organizational effectiveness

can be achieved simply by helping that leader understand how to use the right communication style. An assertive communication style rarely has the issues I described above.

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”John Wooden

The degree of assertiveness you use in dealing with people provokes fairly predictable reactions by others, which in turn help determine how effective you are as a leader. Assertive communication is characterized by honesty. It enforces rules, requires results, and is a direct approach that shows concern for yourself and others. It communicates the message that “you are both okay.”

This communication style could be construed as treating all the individuals involved as equal, each deserving of respect, and no more entitled than another to have things done their way. You feel connected to others when you are speaking to them, and you are trying to help them take control of their lives. You address issues and problems as they arise and create environments where others can grow and mature.

The reason assertive communication is so effective is that it combines the positive dimensions of both aggressive and passive communicators. The assertive communicator is goal-oriented and direct, and at the same time is a good listener, considerate, and thoughtful. Thus, the assertive leader bridges the most positive aspects of the two other styles of behavior while at the same time avoiding the negative aspects of those two styles. The assertive style is both a good human relations style and a good team-building style for any organization. The assertive leader is viewed as someone who is strong, energetic, and is both able and willing to fight for resources needed by the department. Further, the assertive leader does not appear to play favorites, since he or she does not bend rules or fail to enforce rules in an effort to be liked by others. This leadership style is most admired by team members and employees.

Leadership Biases

As I mentioned above, there are some biases that I believe leaders have that severely hamper their interactions with people. While there are many I could discuss, there are two biases that cause some significant lost opportunities in organizations.

God Complex

I have met too many leaders, particularly founders, who believe everyone in their company exists to serve them. While it is true they started the business, and at one point you could say they were the business, at some point the organization must grow up and operate as a business, not a bunch of serfs working for their master. Everyone in a successful business, including the founder, exists to provide products and services to customers.

Each person in the organization has a role in the process of providing products and services. As a team, we help each other to do a better job than our competition so that we can operate more profitably, and thus enable everyone to earn their fair compensation and the business to expand and create more jobs. The leader’s job is to make the subordinate’s job easier so that all are in a better position to serve our customers well. Not the other way around!

I have witnessed servant leaders on average get two to three times the productivity of those that have the god complex. Their employees give extra effort, work efficiently, and spend extra time looking after the customer. Ironically, they spend more time looking after their leaders than subordinates of leaders with a god complex. I believe the reason is that the latter secretly resent their boss and do the minimums to stay out of trouble.

Leaders with this complex cause everyone else to be inefficient. Employees spend their days readjusting their schedules from best serving customer to best serving the leader, resulting in severe organizational inefficiency. Such leaders misuse resources and do not even recognize it because they are so selfish.

Others Will Not Figure Things Out Without Me

In a world where most jobs require people to use their brains, and each situation is a little different, most roles are filled with knowledgeable workers. Ironically, many leaders do not treat them as such. In Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, Liz Wiseman identified the difference between leaders who access and revitalize the intelligence in the people around them (Multipliers) and those whose view of intelligence is based on elitism and scarcity (Diminishers). The Diminishers believe that intelligent people are a rare breed and that they are one of those few smart people. They then conclude that other people will never figure things out without them.

Here is the rub! We are all Multipliers and Diminishers. The questions are how often are we multipliers and with whom? Leaders that have huge ego problems are most often Diminishers. I know of one CEO that terrorizes the leadership team and other employees daily with emails micromanaging their every activity. This CEO’s team loses tremendous daily productivity in order to respond to those emails, provide reports to show what is being asked for, and attend update meetings so the boss can show them what to do.

Diminishers have other traits that cause them to get far less productivity than their people are capable of. The “tyrant” creates a tense environment that suppresses people’s thinking and capability. We have all been around that leader who loves to debate everything, hates to lose, and loves to win. It takes too much energy to get our own points across, so we just don’t even try.

Another Diminisher is the “know-it-all” that gives directives that showcase how much they know. Then there is the “decision-maker” who makes centralized, abrupt decisions that confuse the organization.

“You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes.”John Wooden

The Multiplier has a completely different way of handling people. Where Diminishers cause people to underperform, Multipliers can get the very best out of people and some believe exceed expectations. They are considered “liberators” as they create an intense environment that requires people to tap into their best thinking and work. They are considered “challengers” as they define an opportunity that causes people to stretch rather than the directive that limits the outcome. The Multiplier wants to make sound decisions, so they encourage vigorous debate on important decisions, usually staying quiet during the debate. After all, they know their own opinion. They really value the opinions of their team. They are “investors” as they invest in people to take ownership of results and are invested in their success!

Learning How to Say No!

In my book, Your Business is A Leaky Bucket, profit leak number 12 is dedicated to “being allergic to saying “no”. Rarely do I meet someone that tells me that they have mastered the use of time! If you are one of those people, you primarily work only those things that will contribute the biggest impact to your organization and role, and you are good at deferring, delegating, or discarding the rest. As a leader, you are communicating well, and you are emphasizing messages you really want your team to hear. Most importantly, you are clear on the right type of opportunities you expect your team to aggressively pursue and those you want them to defer, delegate, or discard. To a very large degree, your success depends on it.

Do You Use Your Time or Does Your Time Use You?

You cannot manage time itself, but you can manage how you choose to use your time. We are under more time pressure than ever, and those little gadgets like cell phones may make our lives much harder than easier.

Time is the great equalizer. Everyone gets the same amount of time: 24 hours in each day. You cannot buy more time, and no one can give you more of it. Thus, the most important question you can ask daily is: “How can I and my team use time more wisely?”

One of the essential keys to maximizing success as an individual or an organization is to effectively determine where your time should go now and into the future. Where you used time in the past only serves as a guide, a learning mechanism for your decisions as to where time should be used in the future. One person in your group losing focus on congruent goals can impact everyone’s time and even create a huge barrier to success.

Too often people search in the wrong places when trying to understand why they are not achieving their goals. They think there is something wrong with the time management program they’re using, so they buy a new one. The real problem is not what program or process they currently use. Rather, it is what habits of thoughts and attitudes they use to decide how they will use their time.

To do that, you must pick and choose which opportunities and tasks to undertake. Time and priority management is a skill few people master, but every person needs. One of the greatest mistakes many leaders make is to say “yes” too often. In many cases, time management is more about what you decide not to do, rather than what you do. Does your leadership team fail to say “no” often enough? Or does it choose to chase fires rather than identify and address the real issues staring them in the face? While there is no exact percentage, you should be passing on at least 25 percent of the opportunities and responsibilities that come your way. Otherwise, you will find yourself spending far too much time on tasks you never should have agreed to take on in the first place.

Belief systems lead to actions that cause results, which then impact your time management. If you or your people behave in counterproductive ways, try to identify what the belief systems are that cause that behavior. For example, let’s say you decide you should exercise three days a week to improve your health. Your primary belief system, however, is that exercise is boring and painful. What do you think the chances are you’ll implement that “decision” to exercise three days a week?

Commonly, I hear CEOs complain that they spend little or no time on their strategic priorities. Instead, they spend their days putting out fires and dealing with their employee issues. They are usually insistent this is just part of business as usual. However, a closer examination teaches us that some people like to put out fires. They enjoy the immediate gratification of handling the daily emergencies, want to be the ones with all the answers, and have trouble saying “no” to others. These habits directly impact their ability to manage their time effectively.

“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.”John Wooden

Our society is notorious for seeking immediate gratification. The benefit of better health is a long-term goal. In the short term, however, a person is apt to avoid the pain of sore muscles and the loss of self-esteem that goes along with confirming one’s own bad physical shape by not going to the gym. In other words, they feel better about not going to the gym than they do about going. This is immediate gratification, even though the decision is a bad one for long-term goals.

To change behavior, you must identify the immediate gratification you get from your bad behavior and the thought patterns that cause you to continue to practice it. Once identified, you must find something more motivating to replace them. For example, many people would exercise if their doctor told them, “If you do not start to regularly exercise tomorrow, you’ll have only six months to live. If you do exercise regularly, you will live another twenty-five years.” That is quite a carrot to dangle.

An additional aspect of using time is that most people do not have a good sense of where their time goes. At least once every six months, executives should track their time to see where they really spend it. Once you have a solid understanding of how you spend your time, you can redirect time you control and use it more productively by delegating activities to others.

Are You Chasing Revenue Everywhere?

A key area where leaders have the hardest time saying “no” is when it comes to revenue.  This is critical. Not only is this a critical strategic conversation, it is also an issue that can destroy a significant amount of your organizational resources; both time and money. Not all revenue is good revenue. In addition, the more market segments target, geographies you try to conquer, product and services you offer, and distribution channels required, the more resources required. It is important to be prudent in how you go about building your revenue. It is very important to know when and how to say “no”!

Your strategy will help you consider the best type of revenue to target. The predictability and consistency of your revenue growth rate are important measures of the health of your business. A key to driving your growth is targeting the right market segment, not aiming to be all things to all segments. You might love pie, but you’d likely not be feeling too well if you ate the entire pie at one sitting. The same is true regarding the health of your business. You must pick the right slice and exercise moderation. Targeting every source of revenue can leave you spread thin, the proverbial jack-of-all-trades and master of none. Profit leaks result from not focusing your efforts on the most valuable and sensible avenues for revenue.

What does this have to do with saying “no?” Positioning your company in a growth industry, market segment, or sector is crucial to the continued success of your company. To have future growth, regardless of how you are doing in this quarter or year, there must be a target market that your products/services are focused on and that is regularly growing. When businesses mistakenly chase revenue anywhere it leads them, they wind up with less of it. Great companies quickly learn that by segmenting the marketplace, they can perfect their business model around owning their segment or slice of the pie.

Without Saying “No”, Everything Is Equally Important

You set your employees up for failure by saying yes to everything. When everything is important, nothing is truly important! Perfection does not exist. Simple math dictates that the more things you randomly throw on someone’s plate, the less time they have to spend on each thing. Overloads cause leaks in company buckets.

A domino effect occurs when leaders cannot say “no” to anything. Let’s take the people ramifications. The more complicated your service model, the more talented your service staff has to be. They have to be smarter than the average employee in the marketplace while also maintaining specialized skills to handle your customers. That said, when you overload them with responsibilities, you’ll find they cannot reach all your original projected goals.

“Being average means, you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.”John Wooden

The number one job of a leader is to make their employees’ jobs easier! I recently had breakfast with a CEO I am coaching, and he had mentioned that the COO seemed overloaded. He had wondered if he had hired the wrong person. As we talked, it became clear that they had never established clear priorities together. In other words, everything was important! When I started asking him questions about what he believed the top priorities where for this person in the current quarter, he paused. It was obvious that he was unsure. A great example of setting a good clear priority was an advertising agency that had too much complexity in its client intake process. It took two weeks and six different people to onboard a new client! After proper focus and attention, that was reduced to one hour and one person. That could not have happened had they not focused on a clear priority and de-emphasized other things to get that done.

You Can Reduce Complexity by Saying “No.”

A great example of a company that benefited from saying “no” is Southwest Airlines. They say “no” often. If you want reserved seating, you do not fly Southwest, because their boarding process does not allow for it. Southwest Airlines, unlike most of the competition, does not charge for bags. All of their planes are 737s. This simplifies their fleet, reduces the time it takes to train mechanics, and drastically improves inventory management. In addition, they do not provide onboard amenities. Also, you will notice they fly to just 101 destinations. They choose airports with lower gate fees. Additionally, you can only book flights on their website. The culmination of these “no” decisions is that they have remained one of the most profitable airlines in the industry. As of this writing, they are second only to Delta Airlines in market capitalization with approximately half the number of employees.

Saying “No” Will Simplify Your Life

Typically, leaders push back on the concept of saying “no”. To that end, make it a priority NOT to schedule any meetings or calls in the first three hours of each day. Use that time to work on one key task to move the rocks (your main priorities) out of your way. If you finish in less time, use the leftover time to go after the gravel, sand, and water tasks in that order, the lesser priorities that also fill your daily bucket. This ensures you are working on at least five key motivators each week. You have been trained since you entered the workforce to please your customers and your bosses. They make you feel as if you always have to go the extra mile and exceed expectations! The problem with this mentality is that by trying to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. You set yourself and others up for failure. You might think it takes courage to say “no”. In reality, it takes brains to say “no”. And the better practice is to prioritize your time commitments and always put thoughtful productivity at the forefront of your mind.

In Conclusion

Strong leadership is essential to maximizing the success of your organization. Failing to address a poor leader in your organization is the equivalence of leaking money out of your bucket. I encourage you to coach each leader in your organization to check their egos at the door. We all falter. When you notice colleagues faltering, reach out in a positive manner to help them see it so that you can all grow as leaders. Don’t assume that just because someone has poor people skills that it must stay that way. Recognize that they have never been taught or required to be any different. Take responsibility to help them see a new way of interacting with the team. Work hard as a leadership team to say “no” more often. Help everyone see what is most important and get better at letting the rest wait. In the end you will find an organization that will grow more profitability with a lot less drama.

 

Howard Shore is a business coach who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm, contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216.

 

7 Keys to Working Smarter and Being Highly Successful

 

After observing thousands of leaders in companies from startups to over $20B in revenue and helping create over $1 Billion in business value, I noticed one superpower in highly successful people. They worked smarter, not harder, and derive much higher results in less time than almost everyone else. These very successful leaders tended to value highly the Management Strategies and Learnings obtained through Business and Executive coaching channels.

For clarity, I deem someone to be successful if they can accomplish three times more than their peers,  have more joy and happiness, and do all of this in less time.  Now, I have to draw a line as many of us are highly ambitious, driven, and are classic workaholics. Most workaholics do not commit to reducing the hours they work and find work exhilarating. Regardless of your view, it would help if you wanted to achieve three times the results and earnings in less time. What you do with the extra time is your business.  But everyone should want to work smarter and not harder.

I am often exposed to CEOs in the same industry and have always been amazed at how varied leader’s approaches are.  To me, the right approach is the one that produces three times the results with a similar effort.  Let’s take the restoration industry.  I have met many CEOs who started their business 20 years before and are stuck at $5M in revenue or less. Also, I have met others that were in the industry for just a few years and had revenue over $5M.   I do not only find revenue disparity. I also find profit and time gaps.  While the average company earns a net profit of 5% of revenue, we have helped companies generate over 20%.  Would you rather be a $10M company that produces $500K of net profit or a $5 Million company that produces $1M in net profit?  That was a trick because you should want to be the $10 Million company generating $2 Million profit, expecting the growth and the profits.

The most successful CEOs build far larger companies, have higher growth rates, have more free time, and have 3x the net profit margin. And, yes, there are other measures of success. I want you to consider that working more hours than everyone else, regardless of what you earn, is a fool’s choice! All I want to do is challenge us to work smarter continually.

Which leads us to the big question: “How can we make it easier to achieve our success goals faster?”  How can a person make far more, achieve their intended impact, and work a lot less? Not only is this possible, but others are already doing it. After watching these leaders, I noticed they were not necessarily smarter, more creative, lack ethics, or privileged.  I have met many highly successful people, some ultra-wealthy, and found that they were formerly homeless, living in trailer parks, had no college degrees, and so on. I am sure all of us are capable of high levels of success.

Achieving success is simpler than you think but not easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it.  The strange part is that we are familiar with the concepts but not living them. Here are the principles you must follow to work smarter and not harder:

(1) Manage Your Thoughts

(2) Have a  Strategy

(3) Be Strategic

(4) Work a Plan

(5) Be Disciplined

(6) Resilience Rituals

(7) Build Wealth

Manage Your Thoughts

There are three dimensions to managing our thoughts: awareness, intention, and perseverance. Our mind is a potent tool. How you think will change your outcomes for better or worse. Thus you need to be aware of what you are thinking. For example, if you make up your mind that someone cannot do their job, your words and actions will differ from those based on the premise they are capable of. Your thoughts need to be congruent with your intentions. If you intend on accomplishing something and focus your thoughts on contrary purposes, you will fail. Imagine you plan to have a good day but your spend most of your day angry about something. 

Once our thoughts and intentions are in unity, we need to have perseverance. When was the last time you set out for something new and challenging, and it worked out exactly as planned? Most often, we find we run into unforeseen difficulties and roadblocks.  If you allow your mind to waiver from the finish line, you may not get there in a practical manner.

Have a Strategy

Too often, I find driven people are in constant motion. They confuse activity with productivity. When they see a problem to solve, they are off to the races.  Often leaders are solving the wrong problems or not taking the best route to solve their problems.  By doing so, you may feel better in the short term, but it could have long-term negative consequences.

I recently witnessed a senior leader get angry with a subordinate because he felt they were taking advantage of the company.  He immediately launched into attack mode and let the employee know how he felt.  While the concern was merited and the employee course-corrected, there were longer-term consequences.  You see, the leader was so busy being right that he lost one of the highest-performing people in the industry. That employee decided to quit his boss.

In the end, the leader was not strategic.  Had he been, he would have waited until he wasn’t angry and would have developed a strategy to course-correct the employee in a manner that was okay for both parties involved. Instead, he may need two people to do the work the one accomplished, and his reputation may cause other competent people not to want to work for him.

While I used a personal situation, the same goes for taking on projects, lofty goals, and conquering the competition. One thing we have all learned is that there are many ways to accomplish an objective. Being strategic requires you to consider achieving the ideal outcomes, choosing what “not” to do, using the least amount of resources, and within the desired time frame. It is usually best to consider expanding your options before choosing a path.

Work A Plan

We are working on a plan ties to being strategic.  However, the critical difference is that the strategy is the vision of where you want to go, and the action plan charts your course from beginning to end—many of us are big picture people. We can see what is possible and have a “can-do” attitude.  The problem with visionaries is they believe everything is simple and underestimate what it takes to achieve the outcome.  Taking the ball down the field is usually someone else’s problem.  To achieve grand visions, I recommend the following project management techniques:

(1) Be specific – The objective has to be clearly stated so that anyone could step in and know what needs to be done.

(2) Make it Measurable – Identify the measurable milestones and deadlines that indicate you are on track.

(3) Action Steps – Identify the action steps necessary to achieve each milestone.

(4) Monitor Progress – There must be processes and systems in place to monitor progress.

(5) Course Correct – When progress is insufficient, it is essential to revisit your plan to get back on track.

Be Disciplined

Whether you are working on getting healthy, achieving your sales goals, accomplishing a major project, it takes disciplined action.  Too often, we like the idea of the outcome but are not disciplined enough to achieve it. Think about dieting. If I eat healthily and eat the right amount of calories for three days a week but overeat unhealthy foods the other 4, it will take a lot longer (if ever) to lose the weight. Where if you ate properly every day, that takes discipline.

My brother Matt is the President of Steven Douglas, one of the fastest-growing recruiting and staffing agencies in the US.  Matt has been a top producer every year since he entered the industry almost 20 years ago.  Most people in his industry only dream of producing his revenue production.  Matt shared with me that he has hundreds of employees, and none of them produce as much as he does. Given that he is President, he spends far less time than full-time salespeople. This caused me to ask his secret. Matt has a list of 300 key contacts he calls every sixty days.  He does this by setting aside one hour daily for outbound calls.  This single disciplined activity has helped him achieve more in 5 hours a week than others can produce in 60 hours.  Successful people are willing to commit to such discipline. I have shared this technique with at least 100 people over the years, and none has had the discipline to implement it.

Resilience Rituals

The airlines taught us a very important less when they told us that we must put our oxygen masks on first before helping others. I have found that highly successful people have a regimen of activities that they use to recharge themselves.  Here are my resilience rituals:

 – 1/2 hour of daily exercise

 – 15 Minute breaks between meetings

 – 15-30 of Meditation

 – 15 Minutes of Quiet reflection

 – Spending time with friends and family

 – Take 4-6 weeks off on vacation throughout the year.

 – Monitor and control my work hours

 – Weekly Massage

It would be best to have the same level of committed discipline to your resilience rituals as your business routines.  For example, if you work out 4 hours in one day, it will not have the same effect as 1/2 hour per day.

Build Wealth

Too many of us are so busy working that we don’t spend the right amount determining how to build wealth. Every very wealthy person I met has at least three streams of significant income.  It is essential that you identify, develop, and give enough attention to your various income streams.  Most people will tell you that the most significant part of wealth came from income streams outside of their day job.  The day gave them the financial start in investing in other activities. Still, many of those activities require learning about and developing strategies and plans to develop each stream. 

In Conclusion

While you can be highly successful without practicing the above activities, it does not invalidate them.  However, by managing your thoughts, being strategic, working a plan, being disciplined, practicing resilience rituals, and building wealth consistently, you will find your path to success with less friction.  Now I challenge you to determine how to use these principles to work smarter and not harder, so you have more time to do the things that are most important to you.

 


 
Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm, please visit his website at Activate Group Inc or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216.

 

Why is your business attracting the wrong clients?

Recently, I facilitated a meeting for one of the most innovative companies I work with. The leadership team is one of the smartest I have ever worked with, and there is a clear vision about solving gaps in their market. Moreover, they arguably have the best SAAS platform to serve their target segment. Yet, they have struggled to grow.

Have you ever wondered why some companies seem to grow with ease while others don’t? I have pondered this question because I have seen far too many organizations struggle to grow. For the SAAS Company, the secret showed up in a strategy session I recently facilitated. The conversation centered around one key question, “Why is this SAAS company finding it so difficult to acquire new customers? The answer was not what you would expect.

Are You Answering the Right Question?

Often, leaders are trying to solve their growth issues by centering on the wrong questions and problems. Typically if you asked the question, “How do we increase sales faster,” you would hear answers like:
• We need more revenue.
• We need more leads.
• We need higher quality leads?
• We need better salespeople.
• Our sales manager is not doing her job.
• We need better marketing.
• We need more marketing.
• We need more salespeople.
• Our customers don’t understand why we are different.
• We have failed to articulate our value proposition well.
• Our salespeople need a better process.
• Our salespeople need better training.

Have You Identified the True Problem?

While the above may be components of solving your growth issues, it is likely not your problem. I often see companies spend significant money and time addressing all the above. After years of frustration, they find themselves right back where they started from. They find other companies in their industry growing far faster, and some started much later and far larger. Your company has likely developed great products and services, cares about your employees and customers, works very hard, and has many loyal customers. In addition, your company might have implemented best-practice execution processes like EOS and Scaling Up, and yet the growth outcomes are not getting much better. What gives?

The right approach is to change your question. In my client example, we changed the question from “how do we increase revenue” to “why is it so difficult to acquire new clients ?” I asked the leadership to answer the question with a question. We brainstormed for 10 minutes until we complied with enough inquiries related to the initial question. Here are some of the questions they came up with?
• How do we remove sales friction?
• What would we need to do to increase market share dramatically?
• Why can’t we sell product “A” to our target market?
• Why is there so much friction in acquiring new customers?
• Would it be easier to sell a product that is on par with our competition?
• What do we need to shift in sales and marketing?
• Who is our real target customer?
• What is the evolutionary path for customers?

After developing 25 questions, I asked the team to narrow down the list to one critical question that would address almost all of the questions. The answer was, “why can’t we sell product “A” to the masses?”

By using the new question as a focal point, we were able to discover their real problem. The market was desiring a product they were not offering. Worse, they had the perfect product, and it was bundled into their more sophisticated product. In the long run, their product was more complete and would better serve their target market. The problem, most companies were not ready to consider their full suite, and they were trying to force it on them.

While there is a lot more to this story, I was hoping you could recognize that these extremely smart leaders were essentially trying to sell an apple to people looking to buy chocolate. When the prospect did not see the chocolate, they moved on to the competitors. We realized that we had to metaphorically get the customer into the supermarket and sell them chocolate before they were willing to consider the apple. Chocolate was their primary need. Once they loved our chocolate, we could take them down more isles and sell them more of what they needed.

Stop Trying to Convert the Heathens?

Are you guilty of ignoring the market? This is a common mistake. My client was a great example. They had the perfect product but were so enamored with their complete solution causing them to ignore the market expectations. While they are correct, their product can and will solve bigger, more complex problems, there were too few leaders that were aware and ready to solve them. They were getting ahead of themselves. And, like a good priest or rabbi, they were delivering sermons to inspire and convert the heathens. The problem was that the disciples were not listening. When this occurs, the sermon is white noise. Their best approach was to get the easy win, earn the customer’s trust, and use that as a platform to cross-sell later.

Conclusion – Ask Yourself… and Take Action!

If you are like many leaders, you know that your company can and should be growing much faster. Have you found the right question to answer? Do you know the primary problem? Are you spending enough time facing the brutal facts?


 
Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about Howard Shore or the firm, please contact Activate Group or call (305) 722-7216.
 

How Does Impatience Affect Leadership?

Every leader has a behavioral style that defines how they are seen by others. No matter what that behavioral make-up is, you will find that it has positive and negative traits. Some of those negative traits can have a significant impact on one’s ability to lead others. One trait I have found prevalent among people that need to get results quickly is that they also tend to be impatient with others. If you know yourself to be impatient you may want to read further as you may also have some other leadership traits that are holding you back as a leader and having severe consequences to your organization.

You might be thinking that there are positive aspects to being impatient. In December 2014, there was an article to that effect in Forbes: For Entrepreneurs, Impatience Might Just Be A Virtue. Many entrepreneurs believe it is their sense of urgency that causes them to succeed. By instilling this sense of urgency in others, they are able to push others through barriers in ways that otherwise might not have happened. This “just do it” mentality causes people to not overthink decisions and have a penchant toward action rather than inaction. After all, isn’t action better than no action? While there is some truth that we need this sense of urgency to move forward, it is only an ingredient, and when overused (and it often is) it causes far more damage than good.

Many of the CEOs I work with use high urgency as a management tool. They are the organizational “drivers” that push others to get things done. They are also known to get things done themselves, which in many cases has been a key factor in achieving success. There is no challenge they feel they cannot conquer, and they sometimes take things on themselves when they feel like the game is on the line because they relish the challenge. They are highly driven, bottom-line oriented, have high expectation of their people, and have vision that many of their team members lack. They get things done that others believe it is impossible to do. So you might be wondering what’s the problem?

The Impatient Leader Tends to Be Aggressive Instead of Assertive

Often organizational drivers tend to be impatient and have been known to be aggressive instead of assertive when communicating with others, not understanding the critical difference between the two styles. The key difference is that an aggressive communicator is perceived as someone that is more concerned about their own feelings and show no regard for the other people they are communicating with. They will enter a conversation or meeting with a specific agenda and will make that agenda happen regardless of the ideas, opinions or feelings of the others. Ironically, they may realize afterwards they have done this, but the damage is done.

When you communicate aggressively toward colleagues, their reaction (and of others who witness the exchange) is usually negative (resentful, angry, hurt, etc.). You may even go back to them and ask if they were okay with your aggressive style, but do not expect to get an honest response. If they did not address you at the time of the exchange, they are either passive-aggressive or passive communicators and just want to avoid a confrontation with you, particularly if your position of power is superior to theirs!

The aggressive-style leader will almost always get compliance from subordinates, but often at the expense of long-term loyalty, enthusiasm, creativity, extra effort and motivation. In extreme situations, a highly aggressive leadership style can result in other negative outcomes, such as passive-aggressive behaviors, resentment, alienation, dissatisfaction, high turnover rates, sabotage, and in some cases litigation (e.g. hostile work environment).

When you have a direct report that is not performing and you are in aggressive mode, the initial response is to be sarcastic, hurtful and/or use threatening comments. You believe that to motivate people you should show them that you and others are better than they are, tell them that the work they did was inferior, give them crazy goals that no one would be able to accomplish, and tell them they will not make it at the rate they’re going. Nothing you tell them is helping them understand how to perform or indicating that you want them to succeed. In fact, they most likely believe you are going to hurt their career and cannot possibly succeed if they stay on your team.

Coaching Can Help You With Negative Behavioral Tendencies

As you can see, someone with positive behavioral attributes needs to be careful because they also have negative behavioral tendencies. It is important to note that everyone can learn to adapt their behavioral styles to different settings to overcome their natural negative tendencies.

Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

3 Lessons Learned from the Penn State Scandal

The Penn State scandal has been all over the news these past few weeks and it got me thinking. I wondered how such a respected and seemingly professional establishment could have allowed this situation to go so far. How did these secrets stay buried for so long and how could an organization with such moral conviction let these decades-long accusations fester in the dark without follow-up?

Looking from the outside in, I can only assume that the internal communications and processes for handling crises are severely flawed on many levels. Here’s what I think we as business leaders can all learn and apply to our own organizations after watching the Penn State scandal unfold.

1. The truth will always come out.

It’s the golden rule of public relations: attempting to hide a negative, potentially damaging situation within the company only makes it worse. By trying to bury the accusations against Sandusky, Penn State made the entire situation far worse by being exposed after it festered beneath the surface for years. I’ve seen it happen in many organizations. If someone in your organization—I don’t care who it is—is involved with something unethical or illegal, it must be dealt with immediately. Damage control processes need to be activated with your corporate communications folks and a crisis plan needs to be created. Because the truth will always come out, even if after many years in hiding.

2. The open-door policy must be lived, not just talked about.

Most companies have an open-door communication policy but many don’t live up to it. In the Penn State situation it was clear that Sandusky’s improprieties were witnessed and reported to superiors. Nothing was done about it. But something made the whistleblower stop there. Was he told to let it go? Was he made to feel like a detractor for blowing his whistle? Whatever the case may be, we can all learn that when an employee comes forward with something it must be taken seriously and there must be absolutely no element of discouragement or retribution for being the one that came forward. An open-door policy that is lived is one that instills a sense of comfort and safety for employees that need to bring bad things to light.

3. No one is immune from responsibility.

Joe Paterno is probably the most loved college coach of all time, and clearly a pillar of the Penn State organization—not just the football team. Yet even he is not immune from doing the right thing when faced with a difficult situation with one of his employees. All leaders should take this to heart. As a leader, you are responsible for the wellbeing of your company first. Personal relationships must take a back seat to the law.

Have you ever faced a difficult legal or ethical situation in your professional life? How did you choose to deal with it?

Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please visit his website at activategroupinc.com or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.