Mastering Leadership: When is the Right Time to Bid Farewell to an Employee?

Today, I invite you to join me on a journey into a topic that holds a crucial place in the realm of leadership – knowing when to say goodbye to an employee. It’s a decision that can shape the trajectory of your organization and define your leadership legacy. In this article, we’ll delve deep into the intricacies of this challenging yet essential aspect of leadership.

The Unspoken Dilemma

“I have never met a leader who told me their goal is to staff their organization with incapable, unmotivated, and incompetent misfits with bad attitudes. And yet look around.” These words from my book, “The Leader Launchpad,” speak volumes about a dilemma that often goes unaddressed in the corporate world.

Let’s begin with a story from my own journey. I once had a talented team member whose attitude eroded team morale. Despite my best efforts to mentor and support, the situation persisted. It became evident that, despite their skills, this individual no longer aligned with our organization’s core values. The decision was tough but a step towards preserving the team’s spirit and performance.

When is the Right Time?

Determining the right time to part ways with an employee is a skill every leader must master. Here are some key signs that it might be time to bid farewell:

(1) Consistent Performance Issues: When employees consistently fall short of expectations despite coaching and development efforts, it might be time to reevaluate their fit within the organization.

(2) Cultural Misalignment: If an individual’s values and behavior clash with your organization’s culture, it can negatively impact team dynamics.

(3) Toxic Attitude: A negative or toxic attitude can poison team morale and hinder productivity. Address it swiftly.

(4) Impact on Team: If one team member’s performance or behavior negatively affects the entire team, it’s a red flag.

Consider a case where a company I worked with had a star performer who displayed a consistent “my way or the highway” attitude. While their results were impressive, the team’s frustration and burnout levels soared. Eventually, they had to decide to let go of the star to save the team.

The Silver Lining

Every exit is an entry somewhere else. When you bid farewell to an employee, you open doors for transformation:

  • For the Employee: It can be an opportunity for them to find a role that better aligns with their skills and values.
  • For the Team: It creates space for fresh talent and new perspectives, breathing life into your team’s dynamics.

Actionable Steps

(1) Regular Performance Reviews: Conduct regular performance reviews to identify issues early and provide opportunities for improvement.

(2) Cultural Assessment: Continuously assess cultural alignment and address misalignment promptly.

(3) Open Communication: Create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing concerns and feedback.

(4) Mentorship and Coaching: Invest in mentorship and coaching to help struggling employees improve.

(5) Exit Strategy: When necessary, have a well-thought-out exit strategy that ensures a smooth transition for both the departing employee and the team.

Conclusion

In the world of leadership, knowing when to say goodbye is as important as knowing when to say hello. It’s a decision that requires courage and empathy but is essential for the growth and prosperity of your organization.

 

 About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., a company dedicated to helping executives and business owners accelerate growth and achieve their goals. With over three decades of experience in leadership development, Howard is the author of “The Leader Launchpad” and a sought-after speaker and coach in the field of leadership and business growth.

The Art of Success: Why C-Suite Leaders Should Put Their Goals in Writing

Today, we will explore a practice that can profoundly impact your leadership journey – the simple act of writing down your goals.

This article will uncover the remarkable effects of setting and documenting your goals, supported by real-world case examples and insights from my previous works, including “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket.” However, the focus here is on the transformative power of goal setting.

The Magic of Putting Goals on Paper

Clarity: Shaping Vague Ambitions into Clear Objectives

Imagine embarking on a cross-country road trip without a roadmap or GPS. The journey would be fraught with uncertainty, and reaching your destination would feel like a distant dream. Similarly, leadership without written goals can become a meandering path without clear direction.

Consider a client engagement where a CMO faced the challenge of boosting online conversions. She realized the power of clarity by crafting a specific goal: double conversions within a year. This precision provided her team with a clear destination. The result? A focused team that achieved impressive outcomes.

Focus: Directing Energy for Maximum Impact

As C-Suite leaders, you’re constantly pulled in multiple directions. Without written goals, it’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of daily tasks, diverting valuable time and energy away from your strategic priorities.

In my book, “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket,” we explore the journey of a CEO who grappled with time management. His turning point came when he began consistently writing down daily goals. This simple practice helped him regain control over his schedule, allowing him to concentrate on high-impact initiatives that propelled the company forward.

Commitment: Turning Dreams into Tangible Pledges

At the core of any successful endeavor lies commitment. When you write your goals, you’re not merely expressing a desire – you’re making a promise to yourself and your team. It’s a commitment to take action.

Throughout my coaching journey, I’ve encountered countless entrepreneurs who dream of revolutionizing their industries. One remarkable individual stood out by writing down her audacious goals and openly sharing them with her team. This act galvanized their collective commitment and reshaped their industry together.

Motivation: Keeping the Fire Alive

The path of leadership is often filled with challenges and setbacks. During these moments, written goals serve as a constant source of motivation, reminding you why you embarked on this journey in the first place.

I’ve had the privilege of working with CEOs who faced formidable adversity. Their practice of regularly revisiting their written goals set the resilient ones apart. These goals provided the strength and determination to persevere, even in the most trying times.

Conclusion – Put Your Goals in Writing

In conclusion, the seemingly simple act of writing down your goals can be the key to transforming your leadership journey. It brings clarity, focus, commitment, and motivation to your daily actions. These aren’t just dreams; they’re the active steps toward your aspirations.

So, I challenge you to grab a pen and start documenting your goals today. Let them be the guiding stars that illuminate your path to success. If you’ve experienced the transformative power of written goals or have questions about implementing this practice in your leadership journey, feel free to reach out in the comments section. Let’s continue the conversation and inspire each other to achieve remarkable success!

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., a leadership development and business coachingfirm. With over 25 years of experience coaching and advising C-suite leaders, Howard is passionate about helping executives unlock their full potential.

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.

Navigating the Talent Shortage: How Successful C-Suite Leaders are Rethinking Online Recruitment

As CEO of Activate Group Inc, I’ve been privileged to guide numerous growth-driven businesses through various market conditions. Over the last few months, we’ve noticed a trend that has caught our attention: a decline in the volume of online job orders. Why, might you ask? We are currently navigating one of the tightest labor markets in recent memory.

There is an adage in business that says, “A players hire A players, but B players hire C players.” However, in this ultra-competitive market, some companies have been forced to hire below their usual standards just to keep operations going. We’ve seen it firsthand. Some organizations tolerate poor performers or even overpay for them just to fill seats. A worrying trend but an understandable one given the circumstances.

In a recent example, one of our high-growth clients, let’s call them XYZ Corp, had a key position vacant for months. The management team was overloaded with work and lacked time to fill the position. So, they opted to hire an internal recruiter. This recruiter successfully filled the vacancy, but not before the management team had been stretched thin for far too long.

Another one of our clients, ABC Inc, desperate to retain their current workforce, decided to invest heavily in creating retention strategies. Despite their efforts, they faced a high turnover rate due to competitive job offers from competitors. It’s a classic case of companies having to work harder to keep the talent they already have.

So, what does this mean for the use of online job boards? In my view, it indicates that companies are exploring other recruitment avenues. The rising talent costs and urgency to fill roles have led to a heavier reliance on external recruiters and headhunters. While still useful, job boards are not providing the immediate results required in this demanding labor market.

But let’s be clear – this doesn’t mean abandoning online job boards. It means adjusting your strategies. Here are some actionable steps you can take:

(1) Expand your channels: Don’t just rely on online job boards. Network at industry events, use professional social platforms like LinkedIn and consider engaging external recruitment agencies if need be.

(2) Improve your employer brand: If you’re struggling to attract top talent, consider how your company is presented to the outside world. Is your vision, mission, and culture evident and appealing?

(3) Offer competitive packages: Ensure your compensation packages are attractive and competitive. But remember, it’s not always about the salary. Consider flexible working conditions, professional development opportunities, and other non-monetary benefits.

If you’ve been struggling to navigate this labor shortage, I invite you to contact our team at Activate Group Inc. We’ve helped countless businesses overcome their growth barriers and would be thrilled to help you do the same.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore, CEO of Activate Group Inc, is a renowned executive leadership coach and author of “The Leader Launchpad.” With decades of experience in assisting companies to achieve exponential growth, Howard’s proven methodologies have become the gold standard for businesses seeking to reach their peak performance. Through Activate Group Inc, Howard continues to guide C-suite leaders to navigate their business challenges, regardless of market conditions, successfully.

 

Breaking Free from the Recruitment Quagmire: A Guide for Overwhelmed Leaders

There’s no doubt that we are currently in the throes of an incredibly demanding job market. As CEO of Activate Group Inc, I’ve had a ringside view of how this has impacted businesses across various sectors. I’ve noticed a concerning pattern: leaders straining under the immense pressure of filling vacancies while handling their managerial responsibilities.

Consider the case of one of our clients, a high-growth tech startup we’ll call XYZ Corp. After one of their key team members left, the responsibility of filling the position fell squarely on the departed individual’s manager. Now, this manager was already short-staffed and had to take up the responsibilities of the vacant position. The added task of reviewing hundreds of resumes, conducting initial screenings, and formal interviews simply exacerbated the strain.

The example above occurs often. Many leaders find themselves stuck in a similar rut, battling to maintain operations with a depleted team while having to recruit new talent. It’s an unsustainable situation that calls for a change in strategy. Here’s how you can escape this quagmire:

(1) Delegate: Distribute some of your non-essential tasks to trusted team members to free up your time for recruitment. This doesn’t mean shifting your responsibilities onto an already overworked team, but rather, empowering them to take on new roles.

(2) Leverage Technology: Invest in applicant tracking systems (ATS) or recruitment software to streamline your hiring process. These tools can automate the initial screening process, filter out unfit candidates, and help you focus on potential hires.

(3) Training: Provide the necessary resources and training to your internal team to screen candidates effectively. Equip them with the skills to identify key traits and qualifications that align with your company’s values and needs.

(4) Engage Recruitment Professionals: If you find the recruitment process too overwhelming, consider getting assistance from external recruitment professionals. They can provide a shortlist of potential candidates, saving you valuable time and resources.

(5) Revisit your Hiring Process: Are your job descriptions clear and accurate? Are you utilizing the right platforms to attract the talent you need? Take a moment to audit your hiring process and identify any areas that need improvement.

We all know that filling a vacant position can be a time-consuming and arduous process, but it doesn’t have to be. By utilizing these strategies, you can reclaim time, focus on your managerial tasks, and still recruit top-notch candidates.

If you need further assistance, I invite you to reach out to our team at Activate Group Inc. Our goal is to provide businesses with the tools and strategies to navigate their growth and operational challenges successfully. Let’s overcome this hurdle together.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group Inc and author of “The Leader Launchpad.” His proven methodologies have guided countless businesses to break free from the barriers stunting their growth. Howard is passionate about helping businesses navigate their unique challenges and achieve their maximum potential. Through Activate Group Inc, Howard continues to empower C-suite leaders to overcome their business hurdles, no matter how complex.

Navigating Leadership Ego: Decision-Making with Humility and Clarity

Today we delve into a critical aspect of leadership – navigating the pitfalls of ego in decision-making. As C-Suite leaders, our egos can sometimes cloud our judgment, leading to biased and shortsighted choices. In this article, we’ll explore the significance of leading beyond ego, embracing self-awareness, and making decisions with humility for the organization’s greater good.

Understanding Leadership Ego: The Hidden Obstacle

Leadership ego refers to our sense of self-importance and attachment to personal beliefs. While confidence is crucial for leadership, an unchecked ego can close our eyes to alternative viewpoints and hinder collaboration.

Embracing Self-Awareness: Recognizing Personal Biases

Developing self-awareness is essential for mitigating the influence of ego on decision-making. Reflect on your biases and triggers, acknowledging that your perspectives may not always align with reality. A humble leader is willing to challenge their own assumptions and learn from others.

Seeking Diverse Perspectives: Expanding Your Vision

When faced with significant decisions, actively seek input from various stakeholders. Encourage diverse perspectives to challenge and complement your own ideas. Remember, a collective decision with a broader vision leads to more thoughtful and robust outcomes.

Balancing Confidence and Humility: Striking the Right Mix

Leadership requires a delicate balance between confidence and humility. Embrace your strengths while acknowledging your limitations. Displaying humility doesn’t diminish your leadership; it humanizes your approach and fosters trust among your team.

Putting the Organization First: Making Sacrifices for Success

A true leader prioritizes the organization’s success over personal glory. Sometimes, that means making decisions that might not be popular but are essential for the organization’s long-term well-being. Leading beyond ego requires making sacrifices for the greater good.

Actionable Steps: Decision-Making with Humility

(1) Daily Self-Reflection: Take time for self-reflection to identify potential ego-driven thoughts and behaviors.

(2) Create a Culture of Openness: Encourage feedback from your team and be receptive to constructive criticism.

(3) Step into Others’ Shoes: Empathize with different perspectives to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of your decisions.

(4) Consult Trusted Advisors: Seek advice from mentors or trusted colleagues to gain objective insights.

(5) Practice Servant Leadership: Put the needs of your team and organization before your own.

Leading with Humility and Clarity

Leadership beyond ego is a journey of continuous growth and improvement. Let’s commit to self-awareness, embrace humility, and make decisions that elevate our organizations to new heights.

 

 

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 M. Shore continues to inspire leaders worldwide through his unique insights and proven strategies.

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.

The Triumphant Trio: Mastering Quality, Service, and Cost in Your Business Strategy

Today, we’re delving into a compelling business conundrum: the challenge of providing high quality, high service, and low price all at once. Traditionally, businesses are told to pick only two of the three – quality, service, and cost. Usually, offering a premium product or service implies higher prices, and low-cost providers often compromise on either product quality or customer service. So, is it possible to excel in all three areas? Let’s explore with real-world examples.

Amazon, Costco, IKEA, Southwest Airlines, Xiaomi, ALDI, Google, Zoom, Spotify, and Trader Joe’s have all notably disrupted their sectors by providing a balance of quality, service, and price that is typically considered unattainable. From cost-saving online distribution models to strategic partnerships and economies of scale, these companies have leveraged various tactics to buck the conventional wisdom.

The key challenges in simultaneously combining high quality, service, and low price arise from economic and logistical factors. Economically, premium materials and top-notch service typically come at higher costs, which must then be passed on to the customer. Logistically, managing a broad supply chain and maintaining a consistent level of service can be complex and resource intensive.

What if a company chooses just two of the three? This is indeed a common strategy. The choice largely depends on the company’s core values and the market segment it targets. For example, if your target market values high quality and superior service, and is willing to pay a premium, focusing on these two areas would make sense. Alternatively, suppose your audience is price-sensitive but still demands quality. You might choose to offer high-quality products at a competitive price, while keeping customer service at a functional, rather than exceptional, level.

Size and scale are vital in achieving all three—quality, service, and cost. Larger operations often mean economies of scale, allowing companies to purchase materials in bulk at reduced costs or spread operational costs over a larger output, lowering per-unit costs. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, as some smaller, agile businesses can also excel in all three areas through innovative approaches and efficient operations.

Contrary to popular belief, significant funding is not always required to achieve the ‘trifecta.’ While funding can accelerate growth and provide a safety net for experimentation, what’s crucial is strategic investment and smart resource allocation. For example, focusing on technological advancements can lower costs and improve product quality and customer service.

So, how can you apply these concepts in your business? Here are three actionable steps:

Identify Your Core Competencies

Understand what you do best and leverage those strengths to deliver exceptional quality or service while optimizing cost.

Innovate Your Business Model

Look for unconventional ways to manage your supply chain, deliver your product or service, or structure your operations to decrease costs without sacrificing quality or service.

Scale Strategically

Plan your growth to maximize your economies of scale and maintain your commitment to quality and service.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to deliver value to your customers. Whether that’s through quality, service, or price will depend on your unique business context.

For a more in-depth discussion on optimizing your business strategy, reach out to Activate Group, Inc. We specialize in helping businesses identify and overcome their unique challenges to achieve sustainable growth and success.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore, CEO of Activate Group, Inc., is a top business growth expert, serial entrepreneur, and author of The Leader Launchpad. He specializes in helping businesses create a culture of accountability and foster innovation to achieve sustained success.

Mastering the Art of Listening: The Hidden Power in Leadership

In today’s fast-paced business world, where an avalanche of emails, messages, and meetings fill every waking hour, an essential leadership skill is often undervalued and overlooked – effective listening. As leaders, we tend to dominate conversations with our ideas, unintentionally stifling innovation, decreasing morale, and blocking growth opportunities. Now more than ever, it’s time to revisit our understanding of the difference between hearing and listening and recognize the profound impact it can have on our leadership style.

Critical Listening Techniques: Refreshing Our Skills

Listening, unlike hearing, is an active process. It requires concentration, understanding, and response. It’s the difference between the chatter in a crowded room and a focused conversation. As leaders, we often find ourselves in the former scenario, hearing but not truly listening.

The first step to correcting this lies in mastering critical listening techniques. This involves creating an open and empathetic space for communication, where you not only hear the words but also understand the underlying emotions, concerns, and ideas. Critical listening also involves knowing when to keep silent, allowing the speaker to express their thoughts without interruption.

Overcoming Assumptions: The Pitfalls of Presupposed Knowledge

We, as leaders, often enter interactions with presupposed knowledge or assumptions. Whether it’s a matter of experience, expertise, or ego, we assume we understand the full scope of the issue at hand, and worse, we believe we have the correct answer. This approach hampers our ability to truly listen as we filter out any information that doesn’t fit within our preconceived notions.

We would ask many more questions if we approached daily issues like scientists, with curiosity and the willingness to challenge our assumptions. This open-minded approach could lead to innovative solutions and deeper understanding.

Ego, the Silent Saboteur

Our egos often get in the way of effective listening. We fear listening might be perceived as a sign of weakness or indecision. This is where we need to realign our perception of power. The real power lies in gaining the trust and respect of your team, which comes from being a great listener.

Let’s explore further how ego can become a barrier to effective listening and, ultimately, sound leadership. Our ego often manifests itself in a variety of ways, subtly undermining our ability to listen and obstructing our path to effective leadership.

(1)   Intellectual Superiority: Believing you’re the smartest person in the room is one of the most common ego-driven behaviors. This mindset is harmful because it assumes others cannot contribute meaningful or innovative ideas, which discounts valuable perspectives and stifles creativity. It also creates an environment where others may feel intimidated or undervalued, leading to resentment and decreased productivity.

(2)  Overconfidence in Our Ideas: Falling in love with our ideas can be another side effect of an inflated ego. We become so attached to our notions that we tend to disregard other viewpoints, even if they could enhance our idea or offer a more effective solution. This limits the diversity of ideas and makes us blind to potential flaws in our thinking.

(3)  Infallibility Complex: Sometimes, leaders, in their overconfidence, develop a sense of infallibility. They assume that their experience or status makes them less likely to make mistakes. This perception can lead to an aversion to feedback, a critical component of growth and improvement. When leaders fail to listen to constructive criticism, they miss opportunities to learn, innovate, and adapt.

(4)  Need for Control: An ego-driven need for control can also hinder effective listening. Leaders who feel they must control every conversation, decision, or situation often fail to listen to others’ input. They rush to give their opinion, advice, or solution, leaving little room for others to contribute.

(5)  Fear of Vulnerability: Our ego may also cause us to fear vulnerability, viewing it as a sign of weakness. We may close ourselves to others’ opinions or ideas to maintain an image of infallibility. This fear can lead to a lack of open-mindedness, hindering our ability to truly listen and understand.

Ego can be a significant barrier to effective leadership. However, by becoming aware of these ego-driven behaviors, we can actively work to control them, opening the door to effective listening, better leadership, and a more harmonious, productive work environment.

The Cost of Not Listening: More Than Just Hurt Feelings

When we fail to listen, people know. It’s demoralizing, damages relationships, slows progress, breeds resentment, and impacts the team’s overall productivity.

A classic example is the demise of Nokia. Despite being a leading player in the mobile phone market, the company’s leadership failed to listen to the emerging trends and consumer feedback, leading to a significant loss in market share, and eventually its sale to Microsoft. The estimated cost of this failure to listen was over 40 billion Euros in lost market value.

Practical Steps to Effective Listening

It’s time to make a change. Here are some actionable steps to enhance your listening skills:

(1)  Acknowledge and Adjust: Recognize your current listening habits and make a conscious effort to improve.

(2)  Engage and Ask: Encourage open communication. Ask open-ended questions and challenge your assumptions.

(3) Practice Empathy: Try to understand the speaker’s perspective. This shows respect and builds trust.

(4) Take Time: Dedicate quality time for active listening without multitasking. This might mean fewer meetings, but more meaningful ones.

(5) Give Feedback: Summarize what you’ve heard to confirm your understanding.

Conclusions on the Hidden Power of Listening

It’s time for a leadership paradigm shift – from dominating to facilitating, from assuming to understanding, and from hearing to active listening. It’s not just a change of technique but a transformation of mindset.

To achieve the highest level of success as a leader, make a commitment to practice these actionable steps for effective listening daily. If you need help or guidance, feel free to contact us at Activate Group, Inc. Let’s ensure we’re not just hearing but truly listening.

 

About the author:  Howard M. Shore is a successful executive coach, business growth expert, and the CEO of Activate Group, Inc. He is the author of “The Leader Launchpad,” a comprehensive guide to achieving sustainable business growth. With his wealth of experience and relentless passion for helping businesses maximize their potential, Howard is your go-to resource for all things leadership and performance.

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.

Leading Through Disagreement: Navigating Tough Decisions with Grace

This article provides practical strategies for C-Suite leaders to handle disagreements, promote inclusive decision-making, and build a more cohesive and resilient organization. It emphasizes the importance of empathy, teamwork, and constructive feedback to lead gracefully and achieve organizational success.

As a C-Suite leader, you’ve undoubtedly faced situations where decisions were made that you disagreed with. It’s never easy to find yourself at odds with the choices being made within your organization, but how you handle these moments can define your leadership prowess. In this article, we’ll explore strategies to help you move forward and turn disagreement into an opportunity for growth and collaboration.

The Power of Perspective: Understanding the Why

When faced with decisions that don’t align with your vision, it’s crucial to take a step back and understand their rationale. Seek open and honest conversations with decision-makers, allowing them to share their perspectives. Remember, diverse viewpoints can lead to better outcomes, and appreciating different angles is essential for a healthy organizational culture.

For example, at one point in my leadership journey, I found myself at odds with a significant strategic decision to invest in a new market. Initially, I was skeptical about the move and felt it might divert resources from our core strengths. However, after engaging in candid discussions with the executive team and understanding their vision, I realized the untapped potential and strategic opportunities that the new market offered. Embracing their perspective, we collectively transformed the decision into a successful venture that strengthened our organization.

Fostering Constructive Dialogue: Communication Is Key

In instances where you didn’t feel properly included in the decision-making process, don’t let resentment fester. Initiate discussions with the relevant parties to express your feelings and concerns. Share your insights, and don’t be afraid to respectfully challenge the status quo. By encouraging open communication, you foster an environment of transparency and collaboration, which can help avoid similar situations in the future.

For instance, during a time of organizational restructuring, I noticed that the executive team had made decisions without consulting key stakeholders from different departments. Recognizing the potential for misalignment, I organized a meeting where all departments had the chance to share their perspectives on the changes. The dialogue allowed us to address concerns and integrate valuable insights into the implementation plan, leading to a smoother transition and improved teamwork.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Enhancing Collaboration

In an organization, unity is strength. Big decisions require a cohesive executive team that works together seamlessly. If your team lacks teamwork and struggles to implement decisions properly, it’s time for intervention. Consider team-building exercises, leadership workshops, or hiring an external facilitator to address underlying issues and build a strong, synchronized team.

One example from our own organization involved a challenging decision to restructure our departments. The lack of teamwork among the executive team caused confusion and resistance among employees. To rectify the situation, we invested in leadership development and team-building activities that fostered trust and collaboration. As a result, we saw a significant improvement in how decisions were made and executed.

Leading with Empathy: Avoiding Collateral Damage

When organizational decisions cause turmoil, leaders must empathize with their team’s concerns. Acknowledge the challenges and offer support to those affected. Be transparent about the steps being taken to mitigate any adverse effects. Demonstrating empathy will strengthen trust and loyalty within your organization.

I recall a time when a decision to downsize certain departments led to layoffs. The affected employees understandably felt upset and disheartened. As a leader, I made sure to communicate the decision with compassion, provide assistance with job placements, and offer support in their transition. Acknowledging their feelings and being sensitive to their needs fostered a culture of care and unity, even during difficult times.

Complaints vs. Constructive Input: Striking the Right Balance

Feeling exposed or disrespected by a decision can be demoralizing. However, before raising complaints, evaluate your intentions. Instead of simply venting frustration, focus on providing constructive input. Highlight potential pitfalls, suggest alternatives, and collaborate with your superiors to find viable solutions. Constructive feedback shows your commitment to the company’s success and enhances your standing as a valued team member.

For instance, when I found myself feeling left out of a critical decision-making process, I paused and assessed my emotions. Instead of complaining, I sought a meeting with the executives to express my concerns constructively. By presenting alternative approaches and aligning the decision with our organization’s long-term goals, I demonstrated my commitment to our shared success, leading to more inclusive decision-making in the future.

Actionable Steps: Turning Disagreement into Progress

(1) Reflect and Regroup: Take time to process your emotions and gain clarity about your concerns before engaging in discussions.

(2) Seek Dialogue: Initiate conversations with decision-makers to understand the reasoning behind their choices and share your perspectives.

(3) Promote Teamwork: Invest in team-building activities to foster a strong, united executive team.

(4) Demonstrate Empathy: Support and assist those affected by the decisions, displaying genuine care for your team’s well-being.

(5) Constructive Feedback: Present alternative solutions and insights when expressing disagreement, highlighting your commitment to the organization’s success.

Call to Action: Embrace Disagreement as an Opportunity

Great leaders embrace moments of dissent as opportunities for growth and innovation. By understanding different perspectives, fostering communication, and prioritizing teamwork and empathy, we can turn disagreements into stepping stones toward a more successful and united organization. Remember, it’s in these moments that we truly define our leadership capabilities.

 

 

About the Author – Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., a successful 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 M. Shore continues to inspire leaders through his unique insights and proven strategies.

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.

Crafting Your Corporate Dream Team: Harnessing the Power of Advisory Boards and Boards of Directors

In the world of C-suite leaders, the terms Board of Directors and Advisory Board often come up. However, effectively understanding the difference and leveraging each remains a mystery to many. Whether you’re piloting a small startup or steering a multinational corporation, the value of a well-structured board cannot be understated. For any business, from thriving startups to established multinationals, there’s often confusion in the boardroom – specifically, between the roles of a Board of Directors and a Board of Advisors. Both serve crucial but distinct functions within an organization. Understanding these differences can supercharge your company’s success.

A Board of Directors carries formal authority and is legally responsible for governing your company, making binding decisions, and appointing key executives. They’re your organization’s guardians, meeting legal and fiscal responsibilities. Their role carries significant legal and financial implications.

On the other hand, a Board of Advisors is the mentor to your organization. They offer strategic advice, industry expertise, and potentially lucrative connections, but their recommendations are not binding. The Advisory Board’s role is consultative, often comprised of industry experts, experienced businesspeople, or influential individuals providing valuable insights.

Consider Lisa, the CEO of an emerging tech startup. Packed with tech veterans, her Advisory Board provided invaluable insights to navigate the industry’s competitive landscape. Meanwhile, her Board of Directors ensured the company stayed compliant and financially healthy during its aggressive expansion phase.

What is the Difference Between Boards of Directors vs. Boards of Advisors

While the Board of Directors and the Board of Advisors might sound similar, they have different organizational roles, responsibilities, and legal obligations.

Authority and Decision-Making:

Board of Directors: They hold formal authority in an organization and are legally responsible for its operations. They make binding decisions about the company’s strategy, appoint and remove key executives (including the CEO), approve budgets, and ensure the company meets its legal and fiscal responsibilities. In a publicly traded company, the directors are elected by shareholders. They have fiduciary duties to the shareholders, and their decisions have significant legal and financial implications.

Board of Advisors: On the other hand, this board serves in a more informal and advisory capacity. They provide strategic advice, industry expertise, and networking opportunities to management, but they don’t have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the company. They have no fiduciary duties, and their role is often consultative. They’re usually composed of industry experts, experienced business people, or other influential individuals who can provide useful insights and connections.

Legal Responsibilities:

Board of Directors: The members of this board have formal legal responsibilities and liabilities. They must act in the best interests of the company and its shareholders. They can be held legally accountable for their decisions, especially if they lead to financial loss or violate laws or regulations.

Board of Advisors: Since they don’t make decisions on behalf of the company, they typically have no legal responsibilities or liabilities associated with their role. They are there to provide advice and counsel, not to oversee operations or make binding decisions.

Structure and Formality:

Board of Directors: This board tends to be more structured, with formal roles (such as Chair, Secretary, etc.), scheduled meetings, and official minutes that are recorded and maintained. There are often legal and regulatory requirements about how the board is run.

Board of Advisors: This board tends to be less formal and more flexible. There may be fewer scheduled meetings, and the format of those meetings may be more relaxed. There are typically fewer regulations governing this board.

Selection and Tenure:

Board of Directors: Directors are typically elected by shareholders and serve for a specified term, which can vary depending on the company’s bylaws. They may be re-elected for additional terms.

Board of Advisors: Advisory board members are usually selected by the company’s management or the board of directors. They serve at the pleasure of the company and can be removed more easily. Their tenure may not be defined, or they may be appointed for a specific period.

Pros and Cons

Each type of board comes with its pros and cons. A Board of Directors provides robust governance but may also bring regulatory complexity. An Advisory Board offers strategic insights without legal complications but lacks decision-making power.

When designing these boards, consider their size, diversity, expertise, and dynamics. Carefully select members who understand your industry and complement each other and your management team.

When to Use Which: Directors, Advisors, or Both?

Smaller or early-stage companies might prefer an Advisory Board for their strategic insights without the formal responsibilities that come with a Board of Directors. As your company matures and the governance needs become more complex, a Board of Directors becomes essential.

High-growth companies with aggressive expansion plans might find the strategic decision-making authority of a Board of Directors particularly useful. Conversely, those with a niche focus might value the specialized advice an Advisory Board can provide.

Some companies combine their advisory and directorial boards. While this might seem efficient, it often leads to confusion over roles, potential legal implications, and governance challenges. Maintaining separate boards ensures clear delineations of responsibility and function.

Best Practices for Compensating Boards

When it comes to compensating board members, the best approach varies depending on your company’s size, sector, and the board member’s role. Generally, Board of Directors members receive a combination of cash compensation and equity. The equity part aligns their interests with the company’s long-term success.

Advisory Board members, in contrast, are often compensated with a smaller equity stake, with or without additional cash compensation. Since their role is consultative rather than decision-making, their compensation is typically less than that of Directors.

Remember that compensation should be competitive enough to attract top talent but balanced against your company’s financial capabilities and objectives.

Actionable Steps and Takeaways

(1)  Evaluate your business’s needs, size, and growth plans.

(2)  Define clear roles for each board type.

(3)  Choose board members based on their ability to fulfill these roles and the value they add.

(4)  Regularly review your board’s structure and performance.

(5)  Balance compensation to attract top talent while aligning with your company’s financial capabilities and long-term objectives.

In Conclusion

Understanding and effectively implementing Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards can give your business a significant strategic advantage. Remember, these boards are not static – they should evolve as dynamically as your business.

Whether you need the legal oversight and strategic decision-making of a Board of Directors, the tailored advice and industry expertise of an Advisory Board, or both, choosing the right board structure can drive your organization to unprecedented success.

Corporate governance isn’t a ‘set it and forget it‘ concept. It needs to be as dynamic as your business, evolving with every stage of growth and challenge.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore, founder and CEO of Activate Group Inc., is a leading business growth expert. With an uncanny ability to help businesses unlock potential, Howard is your strategic partner in achieving exponential growth. He is the author of “The Leader Launchpad” and has worked with over 300 companies across multiple industries.

 

Why Your Business Should Be Prioritizing its Employee Retention Efforts

“Every employee is a cog in your business machine, and losing one can bring the whole system to a grinding halt.”

Allow me to introduce you to Middling Tech Inc., a mid-sized tech company on the brink of disaster due to high employee turnover. Amidst constant project delays and plummeting customer satisfaction, Middling Tech grappled with an impending meltdown.

The management mistakenly thought that all their employees cared about was money. They believed that generous salaries would keep their team loyal. But as I underscored in my book “The Leader Launchpad,” understanding that employees are not solely driven by money but seek to feel valued, involved, and yearning for growth is key to retention.

The Gallup study, in fact, highlighted that a staggering 75% of the reasons for employee turnover are directly under the control of management. Poor management practices like lack of recognition, insufficient development opportunities, and closed lines of communication made up the lion’s share of reasons for employee dissatisfaction.

So, how can you, like Middling Tech, turn the tide on employee turnover and transform it into a win for your business? Here are four concrete, actionable steps to prioritize retention:

Reevaluate Your Hiring Process

Don’t just focus on skill; instead, emphasize on cultural fit. A sense of belonging and alignment with company values significantly contributes to employee retention.

Encourage Open Communication

Foster a culture where employees feel comfortable expressing their ideas and concerns. Regular check-ins or ‘one-on-ones’ can provide a platform for this exchange and can act as an early warning system for employee dissatisfaction.

Recognize and Reward

A simple ‘thank you’ or a shout-out in a team meeting can go a long way. Rewards don’t always have to be monetary; recognition and gratitude can be powerful motivators and help employees feel valued.

Promote Development and Learning

Offer opportunities for career growth and continuous learning. This could be through in-house training, webinars, online courses, or mentorship programs.

By implementing these strategies, Middling Tech managed to navigate its way out of the retention crisis. Their journey wasn’t short, but the long-term benefits were well worth the effort, leading to decreased employee turnover, increased productivity, and improved customer satisfaction.

In “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket,” I wrote, “Every interaction, every project, every meeting is a chance to inspire and appreciate your employees.” If your business is struggling with high employee turnover, consider how you can transform each interaction into an opportunity for recognition, appreciation, and growth.

To conclude, it’s clear that prioritizing employee retention isn’t optional – it’s a business necessity. The respect you show your employees, the value you place on their contributions, and the investment you make in their growth can drive your business to new heights.

Your employees are your greatest asset – treat them well, and they will treat your business well.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group Inc., an organization committed to helping businesses unlock their potential. As an acclaimed author of “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket,” his mission is to inspire leaders to turn their vision into reality by engaging their teams, developing deep business acumen, and unlocking the hidden potential within their organizations.

Sources:

  1. Gallup, State of the American Workplace Report, 2017.
  2. Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Human Capital Benchmarking Report, 2016.

 

Breaking Barriers: Strategies for Middle Market Consumer-Based Businesses to Disrupt Traditional Industries

As a middle-market consumer-based business, it can be challenging to stand out in a crowded market and increase profitability. However, by adopting innovative strategies, these businesses can disrupt traditional industries, increase market share, and become more profitable.

One inspiring example is Thrive Market, an online membership-based retailer that offers organic, healthy, and sustainable products at affordable prices. They disrupted the traditional grocery industry by providing a unique value proposition to their customers.

Thrive Market achieved this by leveraging technology to reduce their operational costs and offer products at lower prices than their competitors. They also focused on customer experience by offering personalized recommendations, easy-to-use search functions, and a convenient online shopping experience.

Another way Thrive Market disrupted the industry was by focusing on social responsibility. They offer a free membership to low-income families, donate a portion of their profits to non-profit organizations, and source their products from sustainable and ethical suppliers.

So, how can middle-market consumer-based businesses apply these strategies to their business? Here are some ideas:

Leverage Technology

Look for ways to use technology to reduce operational costs, offer products at lower prices, and provide a convenient online shopping experience. Embrace innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation to stay ahead of the competition.

Prioritize Customer Experience

Focus on providing personalized recommendations, easy-to-use search functions, and a convenient online shopping experience. Build a loyal customer base by investing in customer service and support.

Embrace Social Responsibility

Develop programs that help your customers achieve their social responsibility goals. This could include sourcing products from sustainable and ethical suppliers, offering free memberships to low-income families, or donating a portion of your profits to non-profit organizations.

In conclusion, middle-market consumer-based businesses can disrupt traditional industries by leveraging technology, prioritizing customer experience, and embracing social responsibility. By following the example of companies like Thrive Market, these businesses can increase market share, disrupt the industry, and become more profitable.

Call to Action: If you’re a middle-market consumer-based business looking to disrupt the industry and increase profitability, consider adopting these innovative strategies. By doing so, you can break barriers and achieve new levels of success.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore founded Activate Group Inc., a consulting firm that helps businesses achieve their potential through strategic planning and leadership development. He is the author of “The Leader Launchpad” and has worked with over 300 companies across multiple industries.

How to Incorporate Accountability into Your Workplace Culture

Accountability is the backbone of any successful business. As a business leader and author, I’ve seen firsthand how fostering a culture of accountability can catapult a company’s performance and results. This article will explore what accountability means in a business, why it matters, and five proven techniques to infuse accountability into your workplace culture.

What Does Accountability Mean in a Business?

In business, accountability isn’t merely about pointing fingers when something goes wrong. It’s about nurturing a sense of ownership, where every team member takes responsibility for their actions and the outcomes they produce.

A culture of accountability fosters transparency, trust, and an environment conducive to growth and innovation. It empowers employees to work with a sense of purpose and commitment, directly impacting the company’s bottom line.

The Impact of a Lack of Accountability: Why It Matters

Neglecting accountability can lead to detrimental effects, such as time waste, inconsistent performance, and diminished team morale. It’s like sailing a ship with a hole in the hull; no matter how well you navigate, you’re bound to sink eventually, as I explained in my book “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket.”

However, when accountability is ingrained into the workplace culture, it paves the way for improved efficiency, consistent performance, and a higher level of engagement from the team.

How to Develop Accountability: 5 Techniques

Now, let’s delve into how to instill this vital trait into your workplace culture.

(1)  Lead by Example:  The best way to encourage accountability is by exemplifying it. Leaders must walk the talk. Admit mistakes when they occur, take responsibility for team outcomes, and show how you strive for improvements.

(2)  Develop Two-Way Feedback Skills:  A culture of accountability thrives on open communication. Cultivate a feedback-rich environment where team members can freely share constructive feedback, voice concerns, and present ideas.

(3)  Goal Setting:  Goals provide a clear path and end-point for employees to strive towards. Each team member should have a well-defined role with specific, measurable goals that align with the company’s broader objectives.

(4)  Develop Trust and Empower:  Trust your team to take on responsibilities and let them make decisions within their realm. This empowerment fosters a sense of ownership and drives accountability.

(5)  Recognize and Reward:  Acknowledge team members who consistently demonstrate accountability. This recognition sends a clear message about the behaviors and values your organization applauds.

Building accountability into your workplace culture doesn’t happen overnight. It requires consistent effort, clear communication, and above all, a steadfast commitment from leadership. Remember, as I stated in “The Leader Launchpad,” “Your people are your business. Treat them well, and they will treat your customers well.”

 

About the Author:  Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., an expert in business strategy and performance improvement, and a sought-after speaker. He is the author of “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket,” sharing his extensive knowledge and experience in leadership, team development, and operational efficiency.

Why Knowing Your Leadership Style is So Important

In today’s business world, successful leadership isn’t just about holding a high-ranking title and having your name on the door. It’s about your capabilities, your qualities, and, most importantly, your leadership style. As I often say, “You don’t want to be a leader who’s just filling buckets; you want to be the one who’s building pipelines.” Understanding your leadership style allows you to create these pipelines, leading to better team performance and overall business success.

What is Leadership Style?

Leadership style is the manner and approach of providing direction, implementing plans, and motivating people. It’s how you communicate, manage, respond to crises, and make decisions. Each style has strengths and weaknesses; understanding your own can help you be more effective and impactful.

There are several recognized leadership styles, but let’s focus on two: transformational and authoritative.

Transformational leaders inspire and motivate their teams to exceed ordinary expectations and achieve extraordinary results. They’re champions of change, often challenging the status quo and encouraging innovation. Shore aptly describes these leaders in “The Leader Launchpad” when he says, “They build a culture where every team member feels they’re part of something bigger than themselves.”

Authoritative leaders, conversely, are clear, concise, and firm in their guidance. They set high standards and closely monitor their teams. They command respect, and their word often goes unquestioned.

Discovering Your Leadership Style

Identifying your leadership style can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. An executive coach can be an invaluable resource in this journey. They can provide an outside perspective, helping you see your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.

Working with a coach involves self-reflection, observation, and feedback. They’ll help you understand your behavioral patterns and how they affect your team. Once you know your style, you can refine your approach, aligning your leadership style with your organization’s needs and culture.

Case Study: From Good to Great Leadership

Let’s consider a real-life example. A senior executive at a leading tech firm, Jane was well-respected but struggled with team engagement and performance. She worked with an executive coach to understand her leadership style.

Jane discovered she was predominantly an authoritative leader, which, while effective in some situations, created a barrier between her and her team. Her coach guided her to incorporate elements of the transformational style into her leadership. She began to foster a more inclusive, open environment, promoting innovation and encouraging her team to take ownership of their work.

Over time, Jane saw remarkable improvements. Her team became more engaged, productivity improved, and morale skyrocketed. The combination of authoritative and transformational leadership was a winning strategy for Jane.

How to Apply These Concepts

Now it’s your turn to make a change. Here are three actionable steps to find and refine your leadership style:

Self-Assessment: Reflect on your behavior, decision-making processes, and how you interact with your team. Seek honest feedback from colleagues and subordinates.

Get a Coach: Consider working with an executive coach who can provide valuable insights and guidance. They can help you navigate your leadership journey.

Experiment and Adjust: Try out different strategies and observe the results. Not every technique will be right for you, but through trial and error, you’ll find your unique approach.

By understanding your leadership style, you can become a more effective, respected leader, leading your team to new heights of success.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group Inc., a business and executive coaching firm. As a seasoned business executive and coach, he has helped countless leaders discover their leadership styles and unlock their potential. Shore is the author of two books, “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket,” providing practical strategies for business success.

Unleashing Leader Success: How Our Mental Models Shape Our Destiny

In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “I don’t like that person very much. I must get to know him better.” This quote encapsulates the essence of our journey into the realm of mental models. Join me on this transformative exploration as we uncover the secrets behind achieving remarkable success in today’s fast-paced business landscape.

Mental models are the lenses through which we perceive the world around us. They are our ingrained beliefs, assumptions, and frameworks that shape our thinking, decisions, and actions. Like glasses, our mental models influence how we interpret information and make sense of our experiences. They act as a lens through which we interpret the world, influencing our thoughts, actions, and outcomes. Just like a sculptor molds clay into a masterpiece, our mental models sculpt our reality and determine our level of success.

Shaping Decisions and Actions

 Our mental models have a profound influence on our success. They determine how we perceive opportunities, navigate challenges, and make decisions. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are trapped by negative mental models, limiting their ability to see possibilities and hindering their growth. They cling to the notion that what brought them success in the past will continue to do so in the future, only to find themselves hitting a glass ceiling.

Consider the story of Sara, a talented entrepreneur who had built a thriving business in the retail industry. However, her mental model was limited, focusing solely on the traditional brick-and-mortar approach. When e-commerce emerged as a disruptive force, Sara resisted embracing it, clinging to her outdated mental model. Consequently, she missed out on exponential growth opportunities that her competitors seized, ultimately leading to her business’s decline.

To overcome the shackles of limited mental models, we must be willing to challenge our assumptions and expand our perspectives. Start by identifying the mental models that govern your decisions. Are they empowering or constraining? Acknowledge that these models are not absolute truths but rather filters we can modify to align with our goals and aspirations.

Remarkable Success Stories

Let’s delve into the stories of three remarkable entrepreneurs who harnessed the power of reshaping their mental models:

Sara Blakely: The founder of Spanx, Blakely challenged the prevailing belief that shapewear couldn’t be comfortable and empowering. Her mental model of innovation and customer-centricity revolutionized the fashion industry and made her a billionaire.

Elon Musk: The visionary behind SpaceX and Tesla has disrupted multiple industries. Musk’s mental model revolves around the notion that “anything is possible.” His unwavering belief in the potential of sustainable energy and space exploration has propelled him to achieve groundbreaking innovations despite numerous skeptics and setbacks.

Oprah Winfrey: From humble beginnings to becoming a media mogul, Winfrey’s mental model centers around empowerment and authenticity. She embraced vulnerability, challenging the conventional wisdom that emotions have no place in business. This shift allowed her to connect deeply with her audience, build a media empire, and inspire millions worldwide.

Jeff Bezos: As the founder of Amazon, Bezos revolutionized the e-commerce industry. His mental model revolves around customer obsession and long-term thinking. Bezos understood that relentless innovation and a customer-centric approach would be the key to success in the digital age. By focusing on the customer experience and constantly reinventing his business, he propelled Amazon to become a global behemoth.

Reshaping Mental Models for Better Decisions

The good news is that we can identify and reshape our mental models to make better decisions and unleash our full potential. Here are some practical steps to help you on this transformative journey:

Awareness: Start by becoming aware of your current mental models. Reflect on the beliefs and assumptions that underpin your thinking and actions. Are they serving you well, or are they holding you back?

Challenge Assumptions: Question your existing mental models. Are they based on facts and evidence, or are they merely assumptions? Look for alternative perspectives and seek out diverse opinions to challenge and expand your thinking.

Embrace Growth Mindset: Adopt a growth mindset that values learning, improvement, and adaptation. Embrace the idea that your mental models are not fixed but malleable. Cultivate a curiosity to explore new ideas and be open to change. Engage in continuous learning, read voraciously, and surround yourself with a diverse network of mentors and peers who challenge your assumptions. Embrace failure as an opportunity for growth and experiment with new ideas to expand your mental horizons.

Conclusion – Why Mental Models Matter

Our mental models shape our destiny. We can reshape our mental models to make better decisions and unlock our full potential by challenging our assumptions, embracing new perspectives, and breaking free from limitations.

The time has come, my fellow leaders, to unlock the full potential of our minds and reshape our mental models for extraordinary success. It’s time to break free from the limitations holding us back and step into a future with boundless possibilities.

 

About the author: Howard M. Shore is a business growth expert who has helped numerous companies succeed in their industries. With over 30 years of experience in business growth and leadership, Howard is a sought-after speaker and advisor who has worked with companies of all sizes and industries. He is the author of the book “The Leader Launchpad: Five Steps to Fuel Your Business and Lift Your Profits.”

The High Cost of Poor Leadership: An Unseen Tax on Your Business

Imagine a company, let’s call it XYZ Inc., with the potential to skyrocket. They possess innovative products, robust financial backing, and a promising market. However, despite these assets, XYZ’s growth graph remains stubbornly flat. Employee morale is low, turnover rates are high, and productivity is waning. The culprit? Poor leadership.

Studies have shown that poor leadership can cost companies enormously financially and in their corporate culture. According to Topgrading guru Brad Smart, hiring the wrong leader can cost anywhere between 10 and 25 times the compensation. Moreover, Gallup found that 70% of the variation in employee engagement is attributable to managers.

What this tells us is clear: The price we pay for poor leadership is too high.

Identifying the Price of Poor Leadership

Poor leadership results in a deteriorating corporate culture. Employees lose faith in their organization, feeling undervalued and disengaged. This disengagement manifests in absenteeism, high turnover rates, and underperformance, creating a vicious cycle that saps a company’s vitality.

These issues were quite apparent in XYZ Inc. The symptoms were clear, but they struggled to diagnose the root cause. An unhealthy focus on short-term goals and neglect of employee development created a culture of disillusionment and detachment. This drove their most talented employees away, while those who remained were disengaged and underproductive. XYZ Inc. was, in effect, hemorrhaging potential.

Evaluating Leadership Effectiveness

So, how can we recognize poor leadership and, more importantly, measure leadership effectiveness? It comes down to three factors: employee engagement, productivity, and business growth. Engaged employees are more productive, and productivity drives growth. It’s a simple formula that can quickly become complicated by poor leadership.

Leadership is a tricky metric to measure. However, a good starting point could be regular employee feedback and monitoring productivity and employee turnover rates. In the words from my book, “The Leader Launchpad,” “What gets measured gets done. What gets measured and fed back gets done well. What gets rewarded gets repeated.”

Turning Things Around: Strategies to Improve Leadership Approach

After identifying the root of their problems, XYZ Inc. decided to turn things around. They embraced strategies that encouraged better leadership and cultivated a healthier corporate culture.

Firstly, they addressed the leadership issue by investing in comprehensive leadership training programs. They recognized the need for leaders who could inspire, motivate, and engage their teams rather than merely manage them.

Secondly, they began identifying emerging leaders within their organization. These individuals showed initiative, adaptability, and strong communication skills – all hallmarks of good leadership. These emerging leaders were nurtured, given further development opportunities, and gradually transitioned into leadership roles.

Additionally, XYZ Inc. shifted its focus from short-term wins to long-term growth. They understood the value of employee development and started investing in their people, which improved engagement and reduced turnover.

Turning Potential into Performance

Over time, the results of these interventions became clear. Employee engagement surged, productivity increased, and turnover rates decreased dramatically. Most importantly, XYZ Inc.’s growth graph finally started to climb. It’s not an overnight process, but any company can replicate this success with consistent effort and focus.

The case of XYZ Inc. illustrates the cost of poor leadership and the power of effective leadership to drive growth. In my book, “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket,” I wrote, “Just because you’re in the driver’s seat, doesn’t mean you know the direction you’re going or how to get there.” Leadership is the compass that provides direction and a destination for your business. Poor leadership will lead you astray, while effective leadership will guide you toward success.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., a leadership coaching company, and the author of “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket.” With decades of leadership experience, Howard has helped countless companies turn potential into performance. His work aims to help businesses optimize their operations and leadership, ultimately leading to improved productivity and growth.

Internal Recruitment: The Underrated Powerhouse for Staffing Solutions

In the bustling corridors of Alpha Industries, a multinational tech giant, there was a mounting sense of disarray. Despite the organization’s innovative spirit, it was losing its competitive edge. Staffing vacancies were as constant as the tick of the clock, with the HR department perpetually trying to fill seats. Their predicament stemmed from a critical deficiency – the absence of a coherent internal recruitment strategy.

Many companies find themselves in a similar predicament, unsure of how to leverage the power of internal recruitment, a potent tool often underutilized. It’s a scenario I frequently underscore in my book, “The Leader Launchpad,” where I explain that “Organizations, like rockets, can only reach their desired destinations by continuously adjusting their course.” The course correction we’re exploring today is internal recruitment.

Rethinking Internal Recruitment

Typically, internal recruitment refers to promoting or reshuffling existing employees. However, it’s more than just filling a vacancy with an insider. It’s a comprehensive strategy that encompasses developing an internal recruitment team or designating an internal recruiter, cultivating an environment that promotes employee referrals, and ensuring existing employees are continuously upskilled and primed for possible advancement.

An internal recruitment team can tap into the rich potential within your organization, identifying rising stars, understanding the skill sets available, and mapping potential career trajectories. It’s also responsible for fostering a culture that encourages employee referrals, which can uncover impressive candidates who can seamlessly fit into the existing company ethos.

Weighing Internal Recruitment and Its Alternatives

 Internal recruitment offers multiple advantages:

  • Employee Retention: Career progression opportunities within the company can enhance job satisfaction, reducing turnover.
  • Cost-Saving: With an internal team, expenses related to job advertisements, agency fees, and prolonged onboarding are mitigated.
  • Understanding of the Business and Culture: As existing members, the team grasps your company culture, facilitating a smoother transition and placement process.
  • Shorter Learning Curve: Current employees are already acquainted with the business operations, resulting in faster productivity ramp-ups.

However, like all strategies, it has its limitations:

  • Potential Stagnation: Relying solely on internal talent can limit the inflow of fresh ideas.
  • Limited Talent Pool: An internal focus could mean missing out on external professionals with the latest skills.

An Effective Talent Acquisition Strategy Requires a Mix of Internal and External Hiring Practices.

Here’s where different methods come into play:

  • External Recruiters: Best for unique or high-level roles that require a specific skill set or experience. They can find those rare gems worth investing top dollar in.
  • Job Posting Online: Ideal for roles with a broader candidate pool. It’s an inexpensive way to reach a wide audience.
  • Internal Recruiters: Perfect for continual or volume hiring needs, where understanding the organization’s culture and needs is critical.

The transformation of Alpha Industries is a testament to the power of strategic internal recruitment. They built a dedicated internal recruitment team, focused on employee referrals, and struck a balance with external hiring. The result was a richer candidate pool, a faster hiring process, and enhanced employee satisfaction.

As I stated in “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket,” “What gets measured gets managed.” Regularly assess the success of your recruitment strategies, adjust as needed, and remember that internal recruitment is more than a strategy – it’s a culture.

 

Howard M. Shore, CEO of Activate Group Inc., is a seasoned business consultant known for transforming organizations into market leaders. Author of “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket,” he guides businesses to enhance performance, develop effective strategies, and maximize potential. His firm is committed to building leadership capacity and driving growth.

 

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.

The Power of Focus: How to Achieve Maximum Impact with Less Effort

We live in a world that glorifies business. We often equate long hours and a packed schedule with productivity, but the reality is that being busy does not necessarily mean being productive. In fact, the key to achieving maximum impact is often to do less but do it better. In this article, we’ll explore the power of focus and how it can help you become more productive with less effort.

The Power of Focus

When we talk about focus, we’re talking about the ability to direct our attention and energy towards a specific goal or task. When we’re focused, we’re able to work more efficiently and effectively, which can lead to greater productivity and better outcomes.

One study found that people who were highly focused were 50% more productive than those who were not. This is because focused individuals are better able to manage their time and prioritize their tasks, leading to a more streamlined workflow and better use of their resources.

But how do we become more focused? It starts with identifying the one thing that we can do today that will have the maximum impact on all of our stakeholders.

Identify Your Key Objective

To achieve maximum impact, we need to know what we’re trying to achieve. This means identifying our key objective – the one thing that, if we were to achieve it, would have the biggest impact on our stakeholders.

For example, if you’re a salesperson, your key objective might be to increase revenue. If you’re a manager, your key objective might be to improve team performance. Whatever your role, there is always one thing that you can do today that will have the maximum impact.

Once you’ve identified your key objective, focus your energy and attention on achieving it. This means setting clear goals, prioritizing your tasks, and avoiding distractions that can derail your progress.

Case Example 1: The Power of Focus for Individuals

One example of the power of focus is the story of Tim Ferriss, author of the best-selling book, “The 4-Hour Work Week.” Ferriss was able to increase his productivity and reduce his workload by focusing on the key objective of automating his business.

By identifying the tasks that could be automated or outsourced, Ferriss was able to reduce his workload and free up time to focus on more important tasks. He was able to achieve maximum impact with less effort by working smarter, not harder.

Case Example 2: The Power of Focus for Organizations

Another example of the power of focus is the story of Basecamp, a software development company. Basecamp was able to increase its productivity while reducing the amount of time its employees worked by implementing a four-day workweek.

By focusing on the key objective of improving work-life balance for its employees, Basecamp was able to create a more engaged and productive workforce. Employees were able to recharge their batteries over the long weekend, which led to greater creativity and innovation when they returned to work.

In Conclusion

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of busyness. But being busy does not necessarily mean being productive. The key to achieving maximum impact is to focus our energy and attention on the one thing that will have the biggest impact on our stakeholders.

By identifying our key objective and focusing our efforts on achieving it, we can become more productive with less effort. This can lead to better outcomes for ourselves, our organizations, and our stakeholders.

 

References:

https://www.inc.com/john-rampton/the-power-of-focus-10-steps-to-sharpen-your-focus-today.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2020/07/27/how-to-identify-your-most-important-task-and-get-more

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is a business growth expert who has helped numerous companies succeed in their industries. With over 30 years of experience in business growth and leadership, Howard is a sought-after speaker and advisor who has worked with companies of all sizes and industries. He is the author of the book “The Leader Launchpad: Five Steps to Fuel Your Business and Lift Your Profits.”

Scaling Your Business: Strategies for Breaking the $50M Ceiling

In the world of business, growth is the ultimate goal. Every entrepreneur dreams of building a company that generates millions in revenue, employs hundreds of people, and dominates its market. But the harsh reality is that most businesses never make it past the $10 million revenue mark, and many end up selling in frustration before they ever reach that point. In this article, we’ll explore why this is the case, share some lesser-known case examples, and provide ideas on how a company can separate itself from the pack.

The Statistics on Scaling

Before we dive into why most businesses fail to break $10 million in revenue, let’s look at some statistics. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 32 million businesses in the United States, but only around 0.5% of those companies ever surpass the $10 million revenue mark. Even more startling, less than 0.1% of businesses reach $50 million in revenue. These numbers make it clear that the path to significant growth is challenging.

Reasons for Stagnation

There are many reasons why businesses struggle to grow beyond a certain point. One of the most significant factors is a lack of scalability. Many companies are built around a single product or service, which limits their ability to expand and diversify. They may also lack the infrastructure and systems necessary to handle rapid growth, which can lead to operational inefficiencies and customer dissatisfaction.

Another common problem is a failure to differentiate from the competition. In crowded markets, standing out and attracting new customers can be difficult. Businesses that fail to offer unique value propositions or exceptional customer experiences will likely struggle.

In some cases, businesses may be limited by external factors, such as regulatory barriers or a lack of available funding. However, more often than not, the biggest obstacles to growth are internal. Founders and leaders may lack the vision, skills, or resources to take their companies to the next level.

Some Case-Examples on Falling Short

While it’s easy to point to well-known companies that have achieved massive success, such as Amazon or Google, there are many lesser-known examples of businesses that have struggled to grow beyond a certain point. One such example is the DVD rental company Redbox. Despite achieving tremendous success in the early 2000s and expanding to over 40,000 locations, Redbox has struggled to compete with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. In 2020, the company’s revenue was just $564 million, far below the $2 billion it generated in 2012.

Another example is the grocery delivery service FreshDirect. Despite being one of the pioneers in the online grocery space, the company has faced stiff competition from Amazon, Walmart, and others. In 2019, FreshDirect’s revenue was just $752 million, well below the $1 billion mark it had hoped to reach by that point.

What Companies Can Do to Separate Themselves and Grow 

So, what can companies do to separate themselves from the pack and achieve significant growth? Here are a few ideas:

(1)  Build a Scalable Business Model: Companies built around a single product or service are unlikely to grow significantly. Businesses must be scalable and diversify their offerings to break through the $10 million revenue mark.

(2)  Differentiate from the Competition: Standing out in a crowded market is essential. Companies offering unique value propositions or exceptional customer experiences are more likely to attract and retain customers.

(3)  Develop a Strong Company Culture: A strong company culture can help attract and retain top talent, which is essential for growth. Companies prioritizing employee engagement and development are more likely to achieve long-term success.

(4)  Embrace Technology: In today’s digital world, technology is essential for growth. Companies that embrace technology and leverage it to improve efficiency, enhance the customer experience, and expand their offerings are more likely to achieve significant growth.

(5)  Focus on Customer Acquisition and Retention: Acquiring new customers is important, but retaining existing ones is equally essential. Companies prioritizing customer retention and loyalty are more likely to achieve sustainable growth.

(6)  Build Strategic Partnerships: Strategic partnerships can help businesses access new markets, technologies, and resources. Companies that develop strong partnerships with complementary businesses are more likely to achieve significant growth.

(7)  Invest in Marketing and Branding: Building a strong brand and investing in marketing is essential for growth. Companies that effectively communicate their value proposition and differentiate themselves from the competition are more likely to attract new customers and achieve significant growth.

In conclusion, while the statistics may seem discouraging, it’s important to remember that achieving significant growth is possible. By building a scalable business model, differentiating from the competition, developing a strong company culture, embracing technology, focusing on customer acquisition and retention, building strategic partnerships, and investing in marketing and branding, businesses can separate themselves from the pack and achieve their growth goals.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the founder and CEO of Activate Group Inc., a business consultancy firm that helps entrepreneurs and business leaders achieve their growth goals. With over 30 years of experience in executive coaching, leadership development, and business strategy, Howard has helped countless businesses achieve significant growth and success. He also authorizes two books, “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business Is A Leaky Bucket.”

Unmasking the Productivity Crisis: Is Your Business Suffering Silently?

Nestled in the bustling heart of Silicon Valley, there was a tech start-up named Velocity. It was a name synonymous with speed and direction, yet it had stagnated. The workforce was well-intentioned and diligent, logging extra hours and investing every ounce of energy they could muster. Despite their intense efforts, the firm’s output simply didn’t match the input; productivity was low. The impact was palpable; profits were dwindling, and staff morale and retention were at an all-time low. However, the course of Velocity’s journey drastically changed. But more on that later. For now, let’s explore the crux of a business productivity crisis and how to navigate it.

The Productivity Crisis

A productivity crisis has the power to stealthily slip into your business’s foundations, eroding the essence of your operations. It’s not just about the bottom line, though profits will undeniably take a hit. The ripples of low productivity extend to employee well-being and retention. Chronic overworking without achieving the desired outcomes can lead to employee burnout, further exacerbating the crisis. When employees feel their efforts aren’t resulting in meaningful progress, it creates a disconnect that drives them to seek fulfillment elsewhere.

Addressing the Productivity Gap

Addressing this productivity gap often starts with investing in two vital areas: comprehensive training and equipping your teams with the right tools. Training is paramount. It sharpens the workforce’s skills, aligning their abilities with the company’s needs. It’s not just about hard skills; soft skills like communication, teamwork, and time management are equally essential.

Moreover, the right tools in your arsenal can significantly streamline operations, saving time and resources. This could range from project management software and CRM systems to cutting-edge AI and automation tools. However, simply having the tools isn’t enough. It’s about leveraging them effectively and ensuring every team member knows how to use them fully.

In my book, “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket,” I wrote, “Even if you have the best people in the world if they don’t have the right tools and processes in place, you will have leaks.” Therefore, training and tool mastery become your business’s sturdy patches, sealing these leaks.

Transitioning to a High Productivity Environment

The transition from a low to a high-productivity environment often requires a paradigm shift in management style. Introducing a more flexible, empathetic management approach that recognizes employees as individuals can have a transformative impact. A culture that embraces autonomy encourages innovative thinking, prioritizes employees’ well-being, and fosters a conducive environment for productivity.

The Velocity story mentioned earlier brings these principles to life. They realized their struggle wasn’t due to a lack of effort or talent but a systemic issue requiring strategic changes. They invested heavily in industry-specific training, ensuring every employee had a clear understanding of their role. They introduced advanced tools, equipping their teams with everything necessary for peak performance. Moreover, they shifted towards a more participative management style, focusing on transparent communication and nurturing innovation. The turnaround was remarkable. Velocity saw a 40% increase in productivity within a year, translating into a substantial profit boost while their employee retention rate improved.

In closing, a business experiencing a productivity crisis isn’t destined to doom. With targeted training, appropriate tools, and a change in management style, you can transform this crisis into an opportunity for growth. I always say, “In every problem, there’s a hidden treasure of opportunity.”

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., a renowned executive coach, and a leading authority on organizational productivity. His experience of over 30 years in facilitating business growth culminates in his books “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket.” He is passionate about helping businesses optimize their productivity, thereby driving success. With a belief in the transformative power of potential, Howard continually guides businesses to unearth and harness their true capabilities.

Turbocharging Your Meetings: A Strategic Guide to Effective Preparation

Over the last 40 years, I’ve had the pleasure and sometimes the challenge of conducting and participating in thousands of meetings. I’ve seen firsthand that the difference between a productive meeting and an unproductive one often boils down to a simple factor: understanding the crucial distinction between being prepared and being informed.

When most people walk into a meeting, they have reviewed the provided materials and have a broad understanding of the topic at hand. However, this level of preparedness equates to merely being informed, and it doesn’t foster the strategic insights and critical thinking necessary for fruitful discussions and decision-making.

In a boardroom meeting with one of our prestigious clients, I recall a well-informed participant presenting an extensive report on potential business expansion strategies. The room was filled with nods of acknowledgment but also a tangible sense of confusion. The meeting concluded without a clear decision, and the team members felt disoriented rather than motivated.

In contrast, being prepared involves not just knowing the information but understanding the underlying decisions that need to be made, the necessary information for those decisions, and pre-thinking the questions that need to be answered. It involves challenging the real problem to be solved and reviewing the information to discuss interpretations, questions, and concerns, not just facts.

Imagine a meeting where all attendees have dissected the topics, pre-thought the questions, identified potential decisions, and critically analyzed the available information. The discussion would be far more productive, and decisions would have input and buy-in from all involved.

So, how do we ensure that meetings are not just gatherings of informed individuals but powerhouses of prepared minds? Here are some actionable steps:

Define the Purpose

Before every meeting, clearly define what decision(s) we want to make. Share this objective with attendees.

Identify Required Information

Once the purpose is established, identify and communicate the information required to make those decisions.

Encourage Critical Review

All attendees should review the information in advance, focusing on interpretation, questions, and concerns. Promote critical thinking over merely digesting the information.

Pre-think Questions

Invite participants to pre-think the questions that need to be answered during the meeting.

Challenge the Problem

Lastly, pre-challenge the real problem to be solved. Is it the most pressing issue? Is there an underlying problem that’s being overlooked?

In a similar boardroom scenario as above, but this time with the attendees well-prepared, the result was drastically different. The meeting led to a strategic decision on business expansion, with all participants clear on the reasons behind the decision and their roles in executing it.

It’s essential to remember that everyone’s approach to preparation will differ based on their behavioral style. Some people need more time to absorb information, consider alternatives, and research their thoughts before they are comfortable and willing to share their ideas. Others excel at thinking aloud and can be more fluid in discussions. Respecting and accommodating these differences will foster a more inclusive and productive meeting environment.

By implementing these steps, your meetings will become catalysts for action rather than mere information exchanges. And remember, the most valuable insights often surface in the meeting itself when people have come prepared.

Let’s eliminate post-meeting “aha” moments that lead to decision reversals. Let’s redefine our approach to meeting preparation and unlock the full potential of our collective intelligence.

Ready to supercharge your meetings and boost your team’s productivity? Dive into more insights and strategies in my book, “The Leader Launchpad.”

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., a growth expert, renowned speaker, and bestselling author of “The Leader Launchpad.” Known for his practical advice and real-world experience, Shore has dedicated his career to helping organizations develop their leadership capabilities and cultivate high-performing teams.*

State of Expansion: Key Steps for a Successful Business Transition to a New State

As the CEO of Activate Group Inc. and author of “The Leader Launchpad.” As someone who’s seen the intricate mechanics of business growth from a unique vantage point, I’m here to share some indispensable steps for successfully expanding your business to a new state.

Understand State-specific Laws and Regulations

Before setting foot into a new state, it’s essential to understand its laws and regulations – employment laws, taxes, permits, and licenses. Failure to comply can lead to penalties and tarnish your brand reputation. For instance, I once knew a small technology company that made a rushed expansion to another state without fully understanding the employment laws there. They ended up with a lawsuit that cost them dearly.

Actionable Step: Hire a local attorney who specializes in business law and can guide you through the legal maze.

Market Research

Understanding the market landscape in the new state is critical. Each state has unique cultural, social, and economic factors influencing consumer behavior. Remember Target’s failed expansion into Canada? It’s a classic case of neglecting market research leading to misreading consumer needs.

Actionable Step: Conduct comprehensive market research to understand local consumer behavior, needs, and competition.

Consider Logistical Requirements:

Moving to a new state means dealing with new logistical challenges. This includes supply chain management, transportation, and warehousing needs. Underestimating these can lead to operational bottlenecks.

Actionable Step: Build a robust logistical plan considering the geographical and infrastructural realities of the new state.

Assemble a Strong Local Team:

A local team understands the market pulse and can provide valuable insights. They can also help in establishing connections and building relationships.

Actionable Step: Prioritize local hiring. If you’re moving existing employees, ensure they have the resources to adjust and settle in the new state.

Community Engagement:

Integrating your business into the local community can significantly enhance your brand reputation. I recall a retail brand that launched in a new state and won the community by sponsoring local events and contributing to community development.

Actionable Step: Plan for CSR activities or community events that resonate with the local community.

Conclusion

With careful planning and execution, expanding your business into a new state can be rewarding. As a C-suite leader, understanding and executing these steps can turn this daunting task into a successful business adventure.  I invite you to click on the following link and check-out the short video I created for one of our trusted partners and just posted.  It will provide you with more comprehensive content and perspective. Additionally, following are the links to the first two articles in this series of three; Recognizing the Signals to Expand and Evading Common Pitfalls.

If you found these insights useful and want more such strategies, please consider subscribing to our newsletter at www.activategroupinc.com. Remember, a successful business is built not just on big leaps but on meticulous steps.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group Inc., a recognized authority on business growth, and the author of “The Leader Launchpad.” Howard has led countless businesses towards exponential growth with his unique insights and strategies. His passion lies in helping business leaders turn their ambitions into achievements, making him a trusted advisor for businesses on their path to success.

Harnessing The Power of Purpose-Driven Networking: The Untapped Superpower for Transformative Impact

“Unlocking Potential, Enabling Results” is not merely a catchy slogan at Activate Group, Inc (AGI). It encapsulates the essence of our Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG): to impact 500,000 lives. We believe in bringing people’s needs to the forefront because we are fully aware of the transformative power that lies in genuine, purposeful networking. As a natural networker, I’ve recently been reminded of this superpower and its potency, which often goes unnoticed.

Expand Your Purpose for Networking

Many of us have yet to realize that networking shouldn’t solely be for personal gain. It is about more than just expanding our professional circle or scoring business opportunities; it’s about facilitating opportunities for others. The time we dedicate to creating connections isn’t just an investment in ourselves but in others and the community at large. As I always say, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room” (The Leader Launchpad).

Why, then, don’t more people network this way? Misconceptions and personal inhibitions aside, if people realized the transformative power of purpose-driven networking, they would likely be more productive and might even work fewer hours. Last week, for example, I made 20 connections, each one a potential door opener for someone in need.

Purpose-driven networking has facilitated job seekers to find their dream jobs while assisting employers in filling essential roles. It has provided answers to pressing issues, allowed access to potential clients, and helped individuals find strategic partners. It’s like being a locksmith in a world full of unopened doors. Each key you provide could open up a world of opportunities for someone else.

Building a Networking Foundation

Integrating purposeful networking into our everyday routines can be simple and rewarding. Start by dedicating at least an hour a week. This could mean joining groups with like-minded individuals or inviting a new acquaintance for lunch or coffee. The idea is to expand your circle intentionally, aiming to be valuable to others.

Keys to Impactful Networking

Remember, the best kind of networking involves active listening and genuinely engaging with others. This, along with a little creativity, can lead to impactful connections. You could consider volunteering in community projects, joining online forums, or even attending local events. All these avenues give you an opportunity to connect with people who share your interests and values.

“Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge” (Your Business is a Leaky Bucket). Indeed, the ethos of purpose-driven networking is intertwined with the fundamentals of good leadership. By choosing to focus on others and their needs, we empower them, contribute to their success, and in the process, improve our communities and ourselves.

Take Action and Build Your Purpose-Driven Network

So, dare to unlock this untapped superpower. Let’s cultivate purposeful connections and create a transformation ripple beyond personal gains. Networking for the sake of others is not just a potent tool for social and professional success; it’s a profound way to leave a positive imprint in the world.

 

About the Author:  Howard M. Shore is CEO of Activate Group, Inc., and the author of the renowned books “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket.” An expert on business strategy and leadership, Shore is passionate about helping individuals and organizations unlock their full potential. His transformative insights continue impacting countless lives and propelling companies to unprecedented success.

 

Unfolding Opportunities: Recognizing the Signals to Expand Your Business to a New Location

I am Howard M. Shore, CEO of Activate Group Inc. and author of “The Leader Launchpad.” With years of experience strategizing and guiding businesses towards growth, I have gathered some key signals indicating it’s time to expand your business to a new location.

Consistent Business Growth

If your business has seen consistent growth over the years, it strongly indicates that you’ve developed a successful business model. Remember the story of Starbucks? They started with just one store in Seattle and noticed a steady rise in sales. Recognizing this as a sign of successful growth, they ventured into new locations and are now globally recognized.

Actionable Step: Conduct a thorough financial analysis to ensure sustainable growth.

High Market Demand

If you’re constantly turning down orders or your customers are traveling long distances to reach you, it’s a clear signal that there’s a high demand for your product or service.

Actionable Step: Conduct surveys to identify the demand in potential locations.

Healthy Cash Flow

Expanding to a new location requires a significant financial investment. If your business has a healthy cash flow and good profit margins, it might be time to consider expansion.

Actionable Step: Prepare a financial forecast to estimate the cost of expansion.

A Successful Team

 A confident, efficient team that can take on challenges is a great asset. If you have such a team and can replicate it in a new location, expansion could be on the cards.

Actionable Step: Evaluate your team’s readiness and willingness to expand.

Attractive Market Conditions

 If market research indicates favorable conditions—like a growing target audience, low competition, or advantageous real estate prices—in another location, it might be a sign to expand.

Actionable Step: Research and analyze the market conditions of the potential location.

 

In Conclusion...Recognizing and strategically acting on these signs can open new avenues of success for your business. As a business leader, it’s up to you to seize these opportunities and navigate the expansion journey confidently.

If you found these insights helpful and are looking for more business growth strategies, consider subscribing to our newsletter at Activate Group Inc. After all, recognizing the right opportunities at the right time is half the battle won in business.

 

About the Auther:  Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group Inc., a celebrated author, and a seasoned business growth expert. With a keen eye for recognizing business opportunities and a wealth of strategies at his disposal, Howard has been instrumental in turning growth goals into reality for numerous businesses. He continues to inspire and guide business leaders, making him a trusted name in the world of business growth and expansion.

Optimizing Your Recruitment Process: Attract, Evaluate, Hire, Repeat!

Once upon a time, a rapidly growing software company named Delta SoftCorp struggled with recruitment. Their process was unstructured, leading to wasted resources and a mismatch in employee-organization fit. This company had a great business model, dedicated employees, and top-notch products. Still, its recruitment process was like a boat with a hole – no matter how hard they rowed, the water seeping in through their leaky recruitment process was sinking their growth.

Fast forward three years later, Delta SoftCorp has successfully become an industry leader with a bustling pipeline of top-notch candidates waiting to join their ranks. What changed? They transformed their recruitment process. This article shares the steps they took to optimize their recruitment process and how you can do the same.

Common Recruitment Challenges and How to Overcome Them

There are common hurdles in the recruitment process, including attracting quality candidates, time consumption, and maintaining objectivity. Overcoming these challenges requires a structured and proactive approach. For example, Delta SoftCorp started using data-driven recruitment software to streamline the recruitment process, avoid biases, and ultimately hire better talent.

Consequences of Poor Recruitment

In my book, “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket,” I mention, “A business, like a bucket, is designed to store value. The holes are where value escapes.” A poor recruitment process is one such hole. It can lead to employee turnover, decreased productivity, wasted resources, and negative company culture.

Steps in the Recruitment Process and Best Approaches

(1) Identify the Hiring Need: Before posting a job, understand the responsibilities, necessary skills, and ideal personality for the role.

(2) Attract Candidates: Leverage social media, job boards, referrals, and talent pipelines. Delta SoftCorp implemented an Employee Referral Program, which boosted their candidate quality and quantity.

(3) Screen Candidates: Techniques to eliminate unfit candidates early include evaluating resumes against a checklist, initial phone interviews, and using pre-assessment tools.

(4) Interviews and Evaluations: Involve Human Resources and the team they’ll work with, giving you a rounded evaluation. Involving managers efficiently in this process means setting clear expectations and training them to conduct effective interviews.

(5) Offer and Onboard: Ensure your salary and perks are competitive. A successful onboarding process includes helping new hires understand their role and the company culture.

 

What Measures Tell You That Each Step is Operating Optimally

In an optimal recruitment process, positions are filled quickly by the right candidates. You can use metrics like Time-to-Fill, Quality of Hire, and Cost-per-Hire to assess efficiency, quality, and cost-effectiveness.

Hire for Your Culture

Hiring for skills is crucial, but don’t neglect cultural fit. Hiring people who align with your company’s values helps create a harmonious work environment. Delta SoftCorp now focuses on this as a major part of its recruitment process.

Fair Salary and Perks

Offering competitive compensation and benefits is vital to attracting and retaining top talent. A comprehensive industry standard research should be the base of your salary structure.

How to Optimize the Manager’s Involvement?

Managers are critical in hiring but are often burdened with multiple tasks. To optimize their involvement, streamline the process with structured interviews and training, and provide clear guidelines on their role in the hiring process.

By applying these strategies, Delta SoftCorp turned its recruitment process into a powerful engine driving its success. Today, they boast a robust talent pipeline, lower employee turnover, and a happier and more productive workforce.

So, take the first step towards fixing the recruitment process leak in your leaky bucket today and see the transformative effects on your organization tomorrow.

 

Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group Inc., a bestselling author, and a serial entrepreneur specializing in liberating C-Suite teams from the barriers holding them back personally and professionally. He is the author of “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket,” bringing his wealth of experience to guide business leaders toward success.

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.

Innovative Strategies for Middle Market B2B Companies to Disrupt Traditional Industries

Staying relevant and profitable in traditional industries can be challenging for middle-market B2B companies. However, with the right strategies, these companies can increase their market share, disrupt the industry, and ultimately become more profitable.

One example of a middle market B2B company that disrupted the industry is LaSalle Solutions, a leading provider of technology lifecycle management services. They achieved this by redefining what it meant to be a technology lifecycle management company.

One of the ways LaSalle Solutions achieved this was by focusing on innovation. They introduced new services, such as IT asset disposition, which helped their clients dispose of outdated technology in an environmentally-friendly way. They also developed a cloud-based platform allowing clients to manage their technology assets more efficiently.

LaSalle Solutions also focused on customer experience, investing heavily in customer service and support. This allowed them to differentiate themselves from competitors and gain a loyal customer base.

Another way LaSalle Solutions disrupted the industry was by embracing sustainability. They developed a program called “GreenNurture“, which helped clients reduce their carbon footprint by donating used technology to schools and non-profits.

So, how can middle-market B2B companies apply these strategies to their business? Here are some ideas:

Focus on Innovation

Look for ways to improve your services and processes by embracing new technologies and exploring new ideas. Invest in research and development to stay ahead of the curve and cater to evolving customer needs.

Prioritize Customer Experience

Invest in your customer service and support to differentiate yourself from your competitors. This will help you gain a loyal customer base and increase your market share.

Embrace Sustainability

Develop environmentally-friendly programs that help your clients reduce their carbon footprint and achieve their sustainability goals. This will not only differentiate you from your competitors but also help you connect with customers who prioritize sustainability.

In conclusion, middle-market B2B companies can disrupt traditional industries by focusing on innovation, customer experience, and sustainability. By following the example of companies like LaSalle Solutions, middle market B2B companies can increase their market share, disrupt the industry, and ultimately become more profitable.

 

About the author:  Howard M. Shore is a business growth expert who has helped numerous companies succeed in their industries. With over 30 years of experience in business growth and leadership, Howard is a sought-after speaker and advisor who has worked with companies of all sizes and industries. He is the author of the book “The Leader Launchpad: Five Steps to Fuel Your Business and Lift Your Profits.”

From EOS to the Next Level: How an Advisor Can Help CEOs and Business Owners Achieve More with Less Effort

As a CEO or business owner, you may have already implemented the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) or similar approaches like Scaling Up and experienced significant progress in improving your leadership operating systems, meetings, metrics, and priorities. However, there’s always a next level, and you may wonder if there’s a better, faster, and more comprehensive approach to take your business to the next level of excellence.

At Activate Group, we believe that evolving as leaders, teams, and businesses is crucial to success. Growth is like software versions, and there’s always a better version that can produce more output with the same effort. EOS is a great starting point for smaller companies, but you need a more comprehensive approach to scaling as your business grows and becomes more complex.

You likely need a different approach to take your business to the next level. Thanks to Marshal Goldsmith for pointing out that what got us here won’t get us there. We must go beyond EOS execution systems and look at the broader business ecosystem. We must advance soft systems, such as culture, team cohesiveness, and human capital management. And hard systems such as strategy and cash. We believe leaders need to shape and evolve their business ecosystem to grow with the company.

A challenge for successful CEOs is that they usually perform well in two of the six systems: strategy, execution, cash, culture, human capital management, and team cohesiveness. They must work on the other four systems to achieve significant growth and profits. Unfortunately, overconfidence in themselves and their teams can cause them to miss this critical development aspect.

Many people fail to get results with advisors because they don’t invest in the right type of advisor. There are coaches, consultants, and trainers, each with unique strengths and approaches. To succeed we must combine all three aspects into a customized formula focused on outcomes instead of processes. This comprehensive approach helps identify and address the gaps in your business ecosystem and help you achieve your goals with less effort.

Choosing the right advisor can be challenging, especially with so many options. Referrals are an excellent starting point, but your advisor may not be the right fit for you. You need to tailor the approach to your specific needs and goals, ensuring you receive the support and guidance needed to succeed.

It is important to focus on the desired outcomes and not just the process. Often, we confuse activity with productivity. I see many leadership teams following the selected approaches and experiencing less than desired results. And many coaches and consultants focus on the mechanics of the process and are blind to the lack of outcomes. The right advisor will help you see your blind spots and challenge you to address them.

A great example was our helping a leadership team see that there was an opportunity to improve their business model through pricing. After some resistance, the CEO saw an opportunity to change his pricing structure. They have a recurring customer model that increases average monthly recurring revenue by 20%, ultimately improving his business valuation by approximately $40M.

In conclusion, while EOS and similar approaches can be a great starting point for smaller companies, successful CEOs and business owners must look beyond basic execution systems to take their businesses to the next level of excellence. At Activate Group, we provide a comprehensive approach beyond EOS to examine all aspects of your business ecosystem. Contact us today to learn how we can help you achieve your goals with less effort and drive significant growth and profits.

 

About the author: Howard M. Shore is a business growth expert who has helped numerous companies succeed in their industries. With over 30 years of experience in business growth and leadership, Howard is a sought-after speaker and advisor who has worked with companies of all sizes and industries. He is the author of the book “The Leader Launchpad: Five Steps to Fuel Your Business and Lift Your Profits.”

Coaching vs. Consulting: Which One Do You Need and How to Choose the Right Advisor

Are you looking for guidance to improve your business? There are two main approaches to consider: coaching and consulting. While both aim to help individuals or organizations achieve their goals, their methods and outcomes differ. Understanding the differences and choosing the right advisor can significantly impact your success.

Coaching empowers individuals and leadership teams to discover solutions to challenges and develop their potential. Coaches are trained to listen actively, ask powerful questions, and provide constructive feedback. They encourage self-reflection, self-awareness, and both personal and team growth. Coaches often work one-on-one with clients but can also facilitate group coaching sessions.

For example, a business owner who wants to improve their leadership skills may hire a coach specializing in leadership development. The coach would work with the client to identify their strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and create an action plan. The coach would then support the client in implementing the plan, providing guidance and accountability along the way.

Consulting, on the other hand, is more directive and focused on providing expert advice and solutions. Consultants are typically subject matter experts with specialized knowledge and skills. They analyze problems, identify opportunities, and make recommendations based on their expertise. Consultants often work with teams or entire organizations, and their work may result in tangible deliverables such as reports or action plans.

For example, a company that wants to implement a new technology system may hire a consultant who specializes in that area. The consultant would analyze the company’s needs and capabilities, evaluate options, and recommend a specific solution. The consultant may also support implementing the new system and training employees.

So, how do you know which approach is right for you? Coaching may be the way to go if you need someone to help you develop your skills, overcome challenges, or achieve personal growth. Consulting may be the better option if you need expert advice, specialized knowledge, or a specific solution to a problem.

Once you have determined which approach you need, and the answer may very well need to be a hybrid, the next step is to choose the right advisor. Here are some tips to help you find the right fit:

Expertise

Look for an advisor with expertise in your area of focus. An advisor specializing in your field or industry will better understand your challenges and goals.

Credentials and Experience

Check their credentials and experience. Look for advisors who are certified and have a track record of success.

Style and Approach

Schedule a consultation. Talk to the advisor and understand their advising style and approach. Make sure you feel comfortable with them and that they fit your personality and goals well.

References

Ask for references. Talk to other clients the advisor has worked with to get an idea of their experience and results.

In conclusion, coaching and consulting are both valuable approaches to improving your business. Understanding the differences and choosing the right advisor can make a significant impact on your success. By following these tips, you can find an advisor who will help you achieve your goals and reach your full potential.

 

About the author:  Howard M. Shore is a business growth expert who has helped numerous companies succeed in their industries. With over 30 years of experience in business growth and leadership, Howard is a sought-after speaker and advisor who has worked with companies of all sizes and industries. He is the author of the book “The Leader Launchpad: Five Steps to Fuel Your Business and Lift Your Profits.”

The Power of Networking: How Building and Nurturing Connections Can Skyrocket Your Success

In today’s fast-paced and interconnected world, networking is crucial for career development, business growth, and personal fulfillment. And, likely, you are not doing enough of it. It is no longer enough to rely solely on our knowledge, expertise, or resources. We must expand our horizons, learn from others, and tap into diverse ideas and perspectives. Networking is an essential way to do this. Building and nurturing a network is not only a nice-to-have but a must-have skill that can significantly impact personal and professional growth. I have experienced this firsthand as a successful CEO and advisor to CEOs. My ability to build networks and maintain relationships has been a key factor to success, and I encourage everyone to do the same.

Networking is not just about meeting new people; it’s about building long-term relationships and creating a community of like-minded individuals. A robust network can help us in countless ways, from finding new job opportunities to getting feedback on our ideas, learning new skills, and expanding our knowledge. It can also provide emotional support, boost our confidence, and help us navigate challenging situations.

Staying Relevant and Informed

One of the key benefits of networking is that it can help us stay relevant and informed in our industry or field. Connecting with peers, thought leaders and experts lets us stay up-to-date on the latest trends, news, and insights. We can also learn from others’ experiences and avoid making the same mistakes they did. This can be invaluable in today’s fast-changing and competitive business environment. And having too narrow a network can have severe consequences.

New Ideas and Perspectives

Another benefit of networking is that it provides new ideas and perspectives. By connecting with people from different backgrounds and industries, you can gain new insights and fresh perspectives to help you make better decisions. I found that some of the best ideas come from people without experience in my industry or with my company. I often say that our ego is not our amigo and that we should be seeking as many ideas different from our own as possible.

Build Your Brand and Reputation

Networking can also help you establish your reputation and build your brand. Building relationships with people who respect and trust you can establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. This can lead to more opportunities and help you stand out. I am known for generously adding value to everyone I meet and am connecting with people daily. When introducing someone, I often hear, “If Howard says we should meet, I need to make time.” And, I find it much easier than colleagues to get key people to take my call.

Leaders with strong networks are more apt to be more effective, produce better results, and get things done faster. Networking can also help us expand our reach and influence. By connecting with a diverse group of people, we can increase our visibility, credibility, and authority. This can be especially beneficial for entrepreneurs, executives, and salespeople who must build a strong brand and reputation. A strong network can also provide new clients, customers, and partners access.

Be a Better Leader and Good Steward of Your Network

Another critical benefit of networking is that it can help us develop interpersonal and communication skills. By engaging in conversations, asking questions, and actively listening, we can improve our ability to connect with others, build rapport, and establish trust. These skills are essential for any leadership role, sales position, or collaborative endeavor.

Finally, networking can be a source of personal fulfillment and happiness. Building meaningful relationships with others can create a sense of community and belonging. We can also help others achieve their goals, which can be incredibly rewarding.

In conclusion, building and nurturing a network is an essential skill everyone should develop. It can help us achieve our goals, expand our knowledge, and create meaningful relationships. Networking is not just about meeting new people; it’s about building a community of like-minded individuals who can support and inspire us. Investing in our network can improve our career prospects, business outcomes, and personal fulfillment.

 

Howard M. Shore is an expert on building and nurturing networks. He has been advising CEOs and their teams for over 20 years and has helped numerous organizations achieve their goals through networking. Howard is the author of “The Leader Launchpad: Five Steps to Fuel Your Business and Lift Your Profits,” a book that provides practical strategies for building a successful business.

Disrupting Traditional Industries: Strategies to Increase Market Share and Profitability

In the fast-paced business world, staying relevant and profitable in traditional industries can be daunting. However, it is not impossible. With the right strategies, any business can increase its market share, disrupt the industry, and ultimately become more profitable. This article will explore ways to change your business in traditional industries and make it stand out in the market.

Let’s take the example of WhiteWave Foods. This company started as a small organic farm in Boulder, Colorado, and grew into a leading food and beverage company with a market capitalization of over $10 billion. WhiteWave Foods disrupted the industry by redefining what it meant to be a food and beverage company.

With an increasing number of people becoming health-conscious, WhiteWave Foods recognized the need for plant-based alternatives that could replace dairy products. One of the ways WhiteWave Foods achieved this was by focusing on plant-based dairy alternatives. They introduced their signature almond milk, which quickly became popular among consumers. This move not only helped WhiteWave Foods gain market share but also disrupted the dairy industry.

Another way WhiteWave Foods disrupted the industry was by embracing sustainability. They became one of the first food and beverage companies to publicly commit to sustainability goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and waste. This helped them connect with consumers who prioritize environmentally-friendly products and gain a competitive edge in the market.

WhiteWave Foods also focused on innovation, constantly exploring new ways to improve its products and processes. They invested in research and development and introduced new products such as non-dairy yogurts, plant-based creamers, and coffee creamers. This allowed them to stay ahead of the curve and cater to evolving consumer preferences.

So, how can you apply these strategies to your business? Here are some ideas:

Focus on Innovation

Embrace new technologies and explore new ways to improve your products or services. Look for ways to add value to your customer’s lives and make their experience more enjoyable.

Embrace Sustainability

Become more environmentally friendly by reducing waste, using sustainable materials, and investing in renewable energy. Consumers are increasingly aware of the impact of their purchases on the environment, and are more likely to support companies that prioritize sustainability.

Offer Alternatives

With an increasing number of people looking for options and choice, consider offering alternatives to your products. This could open up new markets and help you gain market share.

Collaborate with Other Companies

Look for opportunities to collaborate with companies in your industry or related industries. This could lead to new ideas, products, and services you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.

In conclusion, changing your business in traditional industries can be challenging, but it is not impossible. By focusing on innovation, embracing sustainability, offering alternatives, and collaborating with other companies, you can disrupt the industry, increase your market share, and ultimately become more profitable.

 

About the author: Howard M. Shore is a business growth expert who has helped numerous companies succeed in their industries. With over 30 years of experience in business growth and leadership, Howard is a sought-after speaker and advisor who has worked with companies of all sizes and industries. He is the author of the book “The Leader Launchpad: Five Steps to Fuel Your Business and Lift Your Profits.”