Top 10 Tips on Leadership

Top 10 Tips on Leadership

What’s the difference between leadership and management?   A manager tells people what to do and advises them on how to do it.  A leader inspires people to achieve great things, and encourages and motivates them to find ways to do it.  Yes managing is faster in the short-term, but leadership is the only way to leverage yourself and cultivate your ideas beyond what you can personally accomplish.

Here are 10 simple things, that you can do, starting today to be a better leader:

  1. TALK ABOUT THE FUTURE – Leaders think about the future and help others see the future. As Mark Collar says, “Leaders teach people to dream, not just execute”.
  2. TEACH SOMEONE SOMETHING – Leaders are engaged in their organization and committed to growing organizational capability. Nothing sends that signal stronger than taking a moment to teach someone something.
  3. SEEK OUT A NEW IDEA – Actively look for ideas and then champion them in the organization. This says a lot about your ability to accept change as a leader.
  4. TELL SOMEONE THEY DID A “GOOD JOB” – Leaders are not afraid to hand out praise when a job, large or small, is well done. This builds not only enthusiasm for the work, but trust in your management.
  5. GET MAD, THEN GET OVER IT – Leaders all have passion for the business and sometimes this passion turns to anger or frustration. This shows you are only human. An effective leader has the capacity to move beyond emotion into constructive action.
  6. MEET SOMEONE NEW IN YOUR ORGANIZATION – Get out of your office and say “hello,” to someone new in or near your group. It’s guaranteed that you will learn something and it is visible proof to your organization that you care.
  7. SAY “YES” – Leaders aren’t afraid to make a commitment, to make a choice, to move on. Find something where you can say “yes.” Nothing says you trust your organization more than the power of agreement.
  8. ACTIVELY LISTEN – Many of us talk about being good listeners, but few of us are really good at it. The next time you have the opportunity to listen to someone, use clarifying and confirming skills, but don’t offer a point of view until the presenter says, “What do you think?”
  9. BE ENTHUSIASTIC – Leaders have enthusiasm and energy. They transfer this energy to the organization and the business issues at hand. Practice being outright enthusiastic about an idea and watch how people change.
  10. HAVE FUN – Leaders typically enjoy what they are doing, no matter how tough the task. People want to follow someone who enjoys what they are doing.


Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is one of the pillars of our constitution.  What about freedom of listening? Effective communication relies more on good listening than it does on speech.  Both are key to the overall development and progress of your team. Without effective communication, your team and your business will lag behind in many areas, be less productive and less happy working for you.

If you want to improve communication skills for clarity and effectiveness, here are some vital tips for you to follow:

1. Listen Carefully

Let’s admit it, we all struggle with this.  Yet there is one very simple way to ensure you are truly listening.  Stop the voice in your head.  You know the one.  While you are listening to someone else speak, its constantly chattering to you about your retorts, answers, opinions, corrections and responses to what they are saying.  Stop it.  Stop planning what you are going to say back to them, and just listen.  When it starts up again, stop it again.  Focus all of the energy you can muster on listening intently on what they are saying, with the only objective being to really fully understand what the other person is trying to communicate and what they are feeling.

2. Body Language

Freedom of speech also includes body language.  Often, we don’t realize the significance of our body language, yet it is 70% of our communication. After all, actions speak louder than words. Your facial expressions, eye contact and gestures reveal everything, even though you do not utter a single word.

Exercise to improve your posture. Stand straight and smile to stimulate positive feelings. Always maintain eye contact when talking to someone.  Use open body gestures. Watch your facial expressions and the tone of your voice. At the same time, educate yourself about different non-verbal communication signals in different countries, cultures and societies. For example, a handshake is considered rude in some countries, whereas is it a common practice in the US.

3. Read and Write

In order to improve your verbal communication, read and write as much as you can. Read books, the newspaper, online news and articles, blogs or anything you want to boost your vocabulary and improve your writing skills.  Listen to audio books while you are driving or getting ready for your day in the morning.

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions helps clarifying things. It shows that you have interest in having a conversation by keeping them engaged. It shows you are truly listening with the intent of fully understanding what the person is trying to communicate.  It also helps overcome the fear of small talk in situations where you don’t know people.

5. Manage Stress

Stress is a major impediment to effective communication. Learn to manage it. Use humor in your conversations, keep calm, or be passionate.  Be healthy, exercise, go for walks, take breaks from your day and drink lots of water.

The ability to communicate  and listen clearly, concisely and coherently takes years of practice. Practicing these skills will not only improve your communication skills, but also improve your business results, and the quality of your life.

Do you inspire your team?

Inspire your team

Do You Inspire Your Team?

My experience shows me that a very small percentage of company presidents, managers and supervisors truly inspire their staff. They might build solid teams, set clear expectations and reach most of their goals, but they fail to inspire their people to reach and become better.

But if you’re building effective teams and getting adequate results, does inspiration really matter that much?

The answer depends on what you want out of your organization. If you are satisfied with your current results and don’t mind replacing your best people every few years, I would put down this article and get back to managing your staff.

However, if you want to create a remarkable culture that exceeds expectations, keep reading.

The importance of inspiration

In his book, “The 8th Habit–From Effectiveness to Greatness,” Stephen Covey points out that “Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.” In other words, he believes leadership is primarily about inspiring others to reach their full potential.

OK, so inspiring your team is an important part of leadership, but why is it such an essential component in creating an outstanding company?

There are three key reasons.

First, if you are able to effectively inspire the most valuable members of your team, you will keep them from leaving. Because it is their nature to continuously look for ways to improve, they get bored with the status quo–no matter how satisfying it seems to everyone else. In addition, you will need these team members to assume leadership roles in the future as you grow. Promoting average employees to key leadership roles because your best employees have left eventually will lead to low morale and anemic growth.

Second, as you face difficult times–which every great company does–it will be your best employees that help you push through to the next level. You will need their enthusiasm, ideas and brainpower when trying to determine the best way to deal with difficult challenges. These people will not put in the extra hours for a leadership team that isn’t helping them to develop new skills and improve. However, they will do whatever it takes for those leaders who are inspiring and supporting them to reach their full potential.

Third, you need these people to help your organization think “outside of the box.” The truth is that remarkable companies need remarkable solutions in today’s ultra-competitive marketplace. These answers are seldom found in the operations manual. They require a higher level of critical thinking; and the kind of dedication you get from a talented employee who feels that your leadership is exactly what he/she needs to excel. Chances are slim you will get this effort from employees who just finished updating their resumes.

How do you inspire your team? It’s not easy, but through disciplined effort, most leaders can learn to inspire their staff. The best way to get started is to focus on the following simple steps:

— Clearly communicate your company’s vision to your team every single day. Most people will put in the extra effort if they know where they are going.  If they don’t know where you’re going, they cant help you get there.

— Identify the potential leaders on your team and focus your efforts on these individuals. I am not suggesting that you ignore the rest of your staff, but, I am recommending that you dedicate the majority of your time to cultivating the individuals who will help take your organization to the next level.  Its easy to miss this one, since these team members are doing such a great job.

— Find out what these key employees want. That is, help them to identify their own vision. Once you know what it is, provide them with opportunities to develop the skills necessary to realize their vision.

In today’s work environment, most leaders feel overwhelmed. The need to produce immediate results forces them–or us, since I am right there with you–to focus on the now, instead of considering the future.

My challenge to you is to be clear about where you are going and remember that, every time you inspire a member of your staff, you likely have improved productivity, increased effort and helped to build the future of your remarkable company.

Get in touch to learn more about how to inspire your team.

What’s Your Why?

Your Why

What’s Your Why?

What’s Your Why?  When I hit the three-year mark in my own business, I did what many business owners and entrepreneurs do, I hit a wall.  No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to find my way around it, over it, or through it.  It wasn’t my sales or marketing skills, it wasn’t the delivery of my services, it was something bigger that I could not figure out.  It’s funny how the world works, but I ended up at a coaches conference at about this time and in the first hour of the first day of a 3 day conference, I learned what my wall was all about.  What was missing was that deep something inside of each of us that inspires and motivates us to keep going, to want to achieve more – I had lost contact with my WHY.

Your WHY is that internal motivator that keeps you going when the going gets tough – it is your personal inspiration that drives you to stay the extra hour, run the extra mile, make the hard decisions. It’s something larger than you.  So let’s take a look at what goes into your “why”.

For the engineers in the audience, the formula that I use is (T/G) + (Pa) + (Pu) + (F) + (B) + (V) +(C) = WHY, which is defined as follows.

Talents/Gifts – What are your natural talents and gifts?  How do you use them to make the world a better place?  We are all born with certain talents and gifts, and we are most fulfilled when we use them for the benefit of all around us. 

Passion – What are you passionate about?  What is your favorite cause, what stirs up your emotions and fills you with energy?  What makes you want to jump out of bed and get going in the morning?

Purpose – Your purpose is your intended outcome that guides your decisions and actions.  What is it that you intend to achieve in the end? How do you want to impact the world?

Faith – Faith is expressed in many ways, and includes both belief in a higher power and belief in humanity.  It is also described as complete confidence in a person, plan, power, etc…

Beliefs – Your beliefs are those ideas that you hold to be true.  They are not necessarily factually true, but they are the truth in your mind.  They can range from simple beliefs about yourself and your capacity to learn or achieve, to more complex beliefs about money, family and society.  We are all limited by our beliefs, and rarely achieve beyond them.

Values – Your values are those things and ideas which you hold to be important.  What are the concepts that are important to your core?  Values are the basis for your decision-making.

Courage – Courage is “a quality of spirit that enables you to face danger or pain without showing fear”.  It is the ability to rise above those around you who shrink at the slightest hint of risk to do what you know is right and good, to act with conviction of purpose and in accordance with your values, no matter how difficult it seems.

So take a look inside of yourself and rate yourself in each of the categories.  Spend some time acknowledging your talents and gifts, rediscover your passions.  Define your intended outcomes, your purpose.  Revisit your faith, identify actions to strengthen it, regardless of its source or destination.  Identify your positive beliefs about yourself and reinforce them, make a concerted effort to overcome your negative beliefs, replacing them with new positive beliefs to work towards.  Gain clarity about your values, and make sure that your actions and decisions are congruent with them.  Lastly, have courage, and continue to take the high road, do what you know is right whether it is popular or not, and never look back on what might have been.  Our futures are in front of us, not behind us.

Extra credit:  Read Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why”

Get in touch for more ideas on finding Your Why.

How To Create An Accountable Team, Part 2

I got such positive response to my last post on creating an accountable team that I decided to turn it into a series, so, welcome to part 2!

So why put into action an accountability strategy in your business?  What are the keys to putting it in place, what are the benefits and the risks?

First, creating an accountable team – one that holds themselves accountable for their results individually actually creates a congruent whole for everyone – an environment where what is best for the individual is also what is best for the company – how does that sound?

One of the keys to accountability is consequences – clear and significant consequences must exist, both positive, that you earn or receive, and negative, things that you won’t receive, based on results.

Benefits of An Accountable Team

A team that is accountable, knows what they are accountable for, so team roles are more clear and expectations are enhanced.  Gaps and overlaps are reduced, so tasks don’t fall on the floor, and you can staff efficiently.  Accountability creates room for developing decision-making skills and personal growth, and provides a context for goal setting.  It enables people to let go of what they are not responsible for, increasing their commitment to what they are responsible, and to their measured results.

Risks of Accountability

Building accountability with your team does have risks.  Because accountability requires public commitment – you and your team have to say out loud, and in writing, what you are committed to accomplishing and by when.  That commitment comes with consequences – if you are not truly committed to your results you will eventually experience personal loss – when excuses are no longer an option, it can feel defeating to not achieve the results you’re expecting.

Accountability means changing cultural for many organizations – those changes will require a change to expectations and relationships with other team members.  Excuses and reasons for why something didn’t get done, blaming managers, blaming other team members, blaming customers simply can no longer be part of the organizational conversation. This shift will naturally create friction with the hierarchy – as managers are expected to be accountable as well.

The Dark Side

Like any form of power accountability is open to misuse.  An unfair bargain can be developed where the unfairness is made non-discussible.  People can set unreasonable negative consequences for themselves or their subordinates.  Incomplete accountability agreements can be made to operate exclusively in a top-down fashion rendering the concept of accountability meaningless.  Be aware of these issues as you develop your culture of accountability.

The Leadership Challenge

As you create your new accountable team culture, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Leaders seek commitment, they do not settle for compliance
  • Leaders focus on results, not activities
  • Leaders learn and help others to learn from mistakes
  • Leaders encourage and challenge, they don’t over-control
  • Leaders reward courage not caution

Next time:  the Accountability Agreement and Lame Excuses Why an Accountability Strategy Wont work.

Questions on how? Get in touch.

How To Create An Effective Customer Relationship Management Strategy

CRM, Customer relationship management is a key to long-term success that successful business owners actively pursue, and continually improve.  A good customer relationship management strategy will help to increase your sales while ensuring that your store or business has a repeat and loyal clientele that will generate long-term profitability.

This can only happen if the employees, who work for you, are well-trained and follow your customer retention program when it comes to the organization’s customer relationship culture. You can achieve this by:

  • Develop your customer relationship/ retention program (you have one right?)
  • Allocate part of your marketing budget to CRM/retention
  • Develop a set of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to provide benchmarks for your team to meet on customer satisfaction and measure it frequently.
  • Develop a training program and provide ongoing training in areas that are important when it comes to delivering an exceptional personal service –
  • Reinforcing existing skills with systematic, ongoing feedback and coaching
  • Rewarding their performance through a combination of recognition and monetary awards

Working on Continuous Improvement

When it comes to running a service oriented business, a number of things can go wrong in a single day. Your products and services were faulty, resulting in customers becoming frustrated and demanding a refund, or some other compensation. In such a scenario, organizations that are efficient at ‘recovery’ will be able to resolve such issues. For this, you will have to:

  • Ask for complaints and customer feedback, directly from the source and often
  • Take ownership when something goes wrong, acknowledge the customer’s feelings of frustration
  • Provide effective training to staff when it comes to handling customer complaints
  • Train your staff on DISC and how to communicate with frustrated customers
  • Actively work on solving the core issue to eliminate reoccurring issues
  • Focus on prevention as well as effective problem solving when it comes to issues

Ensuring Managers are the Key Change-Agents

An effective customer relationship management strategy can only be derived if the middle management i.e. the managers of your store, office, or production area are actively involved in the change process. Your managers have the power to make or break your business; therefore it’s very important to:

  • Inform the management team regarding the situation immediately
  • Give them tools required so that they can articulate customer experience strategies as well
  • Provide effective training to managers so that they are an example to the people under them
  • Give reward to managers when it comes to monitoring, establishing and upgrading the service delivery process.

For more on developing an effective CRM and improving customer retention, feel free to get in touch.