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Strategic Leadership

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
George S. Patton said, “Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” As a business leader you need to be in control of your business BUT you don’t need to be a control freak. Taking that route leads to being overwhelmed. As a sole entrepreneur you, of course, need to control everything but once you decide to grow being a control freak will hold you back. Once you hire employees your job becomes managing results of others rather than doing everything yourself. If you don’t do that effectively you will spend all of your time driving the fire truck and putting out fires. You’ll worry about how to do every detail but you will lose sight of the big picture. Why is this problematic? If you hire a new employee but continue to try to do everything without delegating,...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
In previous blogs I have discussed by belief that leaders are made. But not all are made the same. When I speak with my Westchester County NY business leaders about traits that make a good leader no one can agree. The only trait that is agreed upon is having empathy. What do successful leaders have if they don’t have similar traits? All successful leaders have the ability to set goals and achieve results. Here is a results based model of leadership proven to produce success.   It begins with setting goals through your organization's strategic plan that are focused on your vision. In this process you define the desired results from your team members. It continues by aligning the people and the processes to ensure its realization. The goal is to have all of your operations linked to the plan. Then virtually everything that happens should work toward achieving that Plan (Vision)....

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Doing a business plan is more than putting together a document. I needed to point that out recently when a Westchester County NY business owner asked me about the need for a business plan document so that the business could raise cash. But a smart business needs more than a document. It needs a strategic plan. A strategic plan will consider the business today, look into the future, and have the way set out to create the future. In order to remain successful a business must have that plan to be successful now and in the future. Here are some of the things I discuss when helping my clients with a strategic plan: 1.        Make sure you know what business you are in. Whether you are in real estate, construction and contracting, graphic design, or consulting you must define what you provide to the customer. For example, Kodak should have realized...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Leaders are not born, they are made! The good news is that you have the potential to become a great leader. There are events that appear to make the leader or, perhaps, the person assumes the role at the right time. Such a time was 9/11/2001. Were Mayor Giuliani and President Bush leaders who appeared at just the right time? Or were they shaped and created by circumstances long before 9/11 and had the resolve do what needed to be done? What about George S. Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower? They were both considered to be great leaders because they got the results that were needed from the role they filled. Patton charged at lightning speed across the battle field. On the other hand Eisenhower was a great consensus builder who melded a very difficult military and political alliance of cantankerous personalities. At the moment of birth do we know whether...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Although there are different leadership qualities here are seven habits seen in effective leaders. Proper business leadership is crucial to the success of any business of any size. No company can be more successful than the effectiveness of its leaders. If the head of a company lacks positive leadership qualities, he or she will be unsuccessful motivating and leading the staff. This in turn will result in lost customers and business opportunities. Leadership is complex and what works well in one environment may not be a good fit for another. When a leader is focused on results he or she will adapt to the environment. However, just as there are habits of highly successful people there are also habits of highly successful leaders.   Here are seven habits of highly effective leaders. A Leader always does the right thing. That is one of the principles of Dave Thomas who founded Wendy’s.   The...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Just because a person is a boss and people follow does not mean that person is seen as a leader. A boss has the authority by virtue of the position. However, the leader has the real power which is granted by those led. Perhaps you have noticed people in your company who exercise influence over others although they are not managers. People have given them the power through respect of their opinions and advice. A boss has the authority but a leader has the power. The goal is for a boss and leader to be the same person. The leader’s power is earned through empathy for the team, clear direction, trust, and other factors. People are not born leaders. Leadership is developed and there is not one set of leadership traits. In fact there are examples of two very effective leaders with highly contradictory traits. The leadership in the US Armed...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Some people feel that being a control freak or a micro manager is necessary when managing a project team where accuracy or compliance is required. I disagree. There is a much better way to get desired results and hold people accountable. Yes, you must have accuracy and compliance but you could stifle your company growth, have high turnover, and end up working way too many hours when you decide to micro manage. Let’s consider some actual examples. I have worked with a person owns a business that includes insurance and real estate. He has a dozen employees involved in the process of sales and contracts. Each person has a job title but not a job description. Things change quickly as does the mood of the owner. To make matters worse people are asked to do a task but then later the owner comes by and says, “stop doing that, I want...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
The biggest dilemma for business executives is finding a manager with the correct skills to manage a team. In most cases the skills these executives seek are not the ones that lead to success. They will choose people who have the same skills as the people they manage. Or they will promote a top performer. That will not necessarily work because a manager is paid to do different things than an individual performer. Lawrence Peter wrote The Peter Principle in which he stated that, “in a hierarchy people tend to be promoted to the level of their incompetence.” In most companies employees are rewarded for great performance by being promoted. There are good reasons for promoting from within including, motivation and engagement of the staff. However, companies make a flawed assumption that because the employee did well in the previous job he or she will adapt and perform well in the...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Is your leadership style all fluff and now beef? In other words are you talking the talk but not walking the walk? You may be practicing all the right management and leadership styles but real beef is in the RESULTS. If you start by defining the results needed or the goals you wish to accomplish you can then grow the people and processes to ensure those results! This common sense leadership style is called the Result-Based Model of Leadership. Here is an example of how you can align your entire team to your goals. It begins with setting goals through your organization's strategic plan that is focused on your vision. Here is where you can define the desired results from your team members. It continues by aligning the people and the processes to ensure its realization. The goal is to have all of your operations linked to the plan. Then virtually...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Building a high performing team is more about motivation and inspiration than it is about attaching blame. In order to have a high performing team you need to look in the mirror and ask, “Am I a person who inspires and encourages others?”   In other words what type of leader are you. If you are not sure why not ask the people around you to give you some guidance. And if you have employees make sure you ask them.   Ask them what they feel is your biggest leadership challenge and what you can do to improve it. Asking others for their opinions conveys respect, shows that you value their feedback and increases your credibility as a leader. Of course that’s assuming that you are open to the feedback and will actually commit to making changes. It’s easy for people to not feel comfortable giving you the total “honest” truth at first,...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
I am not one to suggest that there are certain leadership traits that are required to be a great leader. That being said, I also don’t believe that people have been born with something that makes them a good leader. One trait of a successful leader could be a liability in someone else’s leadership. A great leader is effective and effectiveness means understanding the situation, the team, and the desired results. Rather than being born with certain traits leadership can be developed. However, just as there are habits of highly successful people there are also habits of highly successful leaders.   Here are seven habits of highly effective leaders. A Leader always does the right thing. That is one of the principles of Dave Thomas who founded Wendy’s.   The leader has a high code of ethics. A Leader has a vision. Clearly stated, the leader must have a clear cut idea of...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
There is a very big difference between a well-run restaurant and one that is only average. An average restaurant can have great food and a great location, but if the employees and the leadership team are not doing a good job the restaurant will never become that very successful restaurant that wows its guests. A well run restaurant has a clear vision and values, a focused leadership team, and engaged and loyal employees. The ultimate result is more loyal guests, increased guest counts, and greater sales and profits. I would like to share an example of a good restaurant company that benefited from the following leadership processes and has propelled itself into becoming the premier restaurant group in its area. Spahr’s Seafood Restaurant is a multi-unit restaurant company headquartered in Des Allemands, Louisiana. It has 3 Louisiana locations— Thibodaux, Houma, and Des Allemands. Owners Donald Spahr and Brent Roger have a...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
The most common question a new manager is asked by direct reports is, “What is your leadership style?” And of course the answer is always, “I am participative.” Or, “I have an open door.” Rarely does anyone define what they mean by that. For that reason and others the failure rate of managers is higher than for individual performers. Today I had the opportunity to be part of a group invited to listen to Ken Blanchard discussing building trust, creating positive work cultures, customer loyalty, leadership and organizational change. Ken reinforces some of the values and beliefs that been proven to create positive corporate cultures. You have it wrong if you consider yourself a leader because you have been placed in charge. On the other hand a person with no direct reports can be a very effective leader. The reason that is so is that you need to learn how to...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Creating high performing teams is a critical component to building a successful organization and maintaining a competitive edge in a rapidly changing market place. High performing teams begins with the leadership of the organization. Leadership’s role is to create the environment that allows teams to be successful by creating and providing a clear vision that empowers employees to succeed. When leaders of an organization provide a clear vision, their employees are more excited and passionate about accomplishing the organizational goals because they can see that they are an integral part of making the vision a reality. And, by encouraging employees to think outside of the box, to do things differently, to be creative and innovative, leaders empower their employees to accomplish the organization’s goals. To illustrate the importance of teams let’s consider a flock of geese. A flock of geese has a common goal – fly south for the winter. They...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Achievers are always accountable for results. Conversely, leadership fails when the leader does not hold all team members accountable. Creating a culture of accountability requires collaboration, communication of goals, and understanding the nature of motivation. Having conversations about accountability with your staff requires several things. You need to communicate the goals and the desired outcomes. You must practice open book management and be totally transparent regarding challenges and obstacles. Your team should not fear making mistakes but should learn from them. Honest and direct conversations need to occur if you expect the right outcome. When a team member is part of those conversations collaboration will occur. How does this help a manager who is responsible for team performance? Consider what happens if you have an employee who needs to speak up and offer opinions but fears doing so? The results can be devastating when we fail to have these accountability discussions....

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
In management which is more important—Doing things right or doing the right things? The answer may surprise you because it depends on the situation. Both of these behaviors are required to lead a team or manage a business. In Doing Things Right you establish detailed steps and timetables for achieving needed results, establish structure, monitor results, and execute specific plans. On the other hand, Doing the Right Things includes establishing direction, aligning people, and motivating and inspiring people. In short, management (Doing Things Right) is important but will not succeed without leadership (Doing the Right Things). In the case of an entrepreneurial leader this would be described as the difference between working IN your business and working ON your business. Let’s take an example. There are numerous great cooks and chefs that feel that because they understand how to create a great meal that, therefore, they would be a natural to...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Leaders of high performing teams say what needs happen then rely on the team to get it done. "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." -- Gen. George S. Patton   "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it."                -- President Dwight D. Eisenhower On this Independence Day it might be appropriate to recall leadership quotes from some of our past military leaders. It is not surprising that many great civilian leaders that we have known have received their leadership lessons in the US military. The leadership in the US Armed forces inspires and demands that each person does his or her very best. Now that doesn’t mean that everyone has to have a management style like Patton. Those were his traits. People with totally...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Good leaders need to hold the members of their team accountable for performance. The best way to accomplish this is by motivating them to be accountable. Dwight Eisenhower said, “Leadership is getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.”    Many times we fear having a discussion about results and performance because we feel we will not change behavior and we might create alienation. However, you will have continued failure if you do nothing and refuse to hold people accountable for results. How does a manager hold members of the staff responsible for performance? What about an employee who needs help but fears asking for help? The results can be devastating when we fail to have accountability discussions. The book, “Crucial Confrontations”, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzer really talks about this topic. How do we handle missed commitments, failed...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
A high performing team is always created by an effective leader. Conversely, if an organization is full of performance issues you need only to look at leadership to diagnose the cause of the problem.   An organization is only as good as its people and as leader your first duty is to select the best people. After you have hired the best people your challenge as a leader is to keep them engaged and producing results. Engaged employees will lead to loyal customers and loyal customers will lead to a sustainable business. In our business climate it is not enough to be good, you must exceed customers’ expectations. This takes a coordinated effort of individuals that work together toward a common goal. You may have heard it said that there is no “I” in team. This is true and it means that individuals who are qualified and intelligent but do not work...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
An effective leader does not simply hand out jobs for others to do. The effective leader first puts the structure and processes in place to assure the successful execution by others. In other words, an effective leader knows how to delegate with confidence. Consider an example. Let’s say you want to open a restaurant because you are a great cook and really love to cook. If that is your primary reason I would suggest that you get a job as a chef at a restaurant. If you want to open a restaurant you need to manage and understand all elements of that business, but primarily, be able to manage and hold your employees accountable. I have a client who had built a very successful home services business. He did the sales and his wife did the bookkeeping. He hired service staff to work with him. He has a successful business but...

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