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Strategic Leadership

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
A sustainable organization is a healthy organization. A healthy organization is in alignment. Organizations that are in alignment are sustainable, innovative, customer responsive, and proactive. How healthy is your organization? Are your employees working in their own individual silos or is everyone in sync with the goals of the organization? Organizations working in silos are often faced with many challenges. And these silos often cause a rippling effect throughout the entire organization. That rippling effect has a negative impact on the entire business including loyal customer base and business results. Ask if these elements of your business are in alignment. Strategy – What’s your game plan for the next 18-24 months? How has your organization defined success: where do you want to go, what do you want to accomplish, and how are you going to make that happen? How will you measure it? A key to accomplishing your strategy is that...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
If you and your team are not aligned the wheels are going to come off! Before you look at the employees on your team ask yourself this question: “Have I clearly communicated the objectives, the goals, or the destination?” On the other hand, a focused leader who empowers engaged employees who in turn create loyal customers will create alignment leading to growth and success. It starts with the focused leader. You may be the owner, the manager, or CEO but that does not mean you are seen as the leader. You may be the manager but your team will follow you if you are the leader.   As managers we can influence the process through which people recognize our leadership by creating an environment where people will join “the team” because they see the purpose of what they are supposed to do and understand the vision, the “big picture” as well as...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
When hiring, although it is important to know a person’s acquired skills, it is probably more important to predict the person’s future performance and behavior. If you are not looking at behavior when you are interviewing you should be. Jim Collins and his team laid out the principle in the book Good to Great. It is as simple as “Getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” It may be simple but it’s not easy. You will need to change the way you hire people. Here is a simple fact. I have found that many employers in Westchester County NY tend to make hiring decisions by looking at background in the industry, jobs held before, and job history. Many companies even do background checks. They spend a significant amount of time looking at a candidate’s skills and knowledge...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
There is a difference between being a great performer and leading a team of great performers. In fact, a great leader does not have to be the best performer or even a performer at all. That is hard to understand if you are a newly appointed manager who had mastered the individual roles of your department. Because of you great work you have been promoted to manager. But the qualities that made you a star performer are not the same qualities that will make you an effective leader. Here are leadership philosophies from two well-known management consultants. “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” —Peter Drucker “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” —Kenneth Blanchard You can learn the skills of a leader just like you learned...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
In order to lead others you must first be able to lead yourself. Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked, “Am I a person who inspires and encourages others?”   If the answer to that question is no then you may not have the power to lead. You see there is a difference between power and authority. If you are a manager or you own your own business you have the authority by virtue of your role. However, your power is granted by those on your team or those you supervise. You may have noticed in your workplace that people without titles have been sought out by others for advice and approval. They have been granted power by others by virtue of their leadership skills not their job title. When working with leadership teams here in Westchester County NY I ask the question, "How much power do you have?" If...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Technology has changed the way we work. Today there are more teams that work virtually than ever before. People work from home and a working team can be spread out geographically. A team could consist of employees with a manager leader or it could be a group of associates who are independent contractors. It could even be all volunteers in a volunteer organization. Regardless of the composition of the team, the things needed to create traditional high performing teams also apply to virtual teams. It needs to have a visionary and motivating leader combined with engaged and dedicated team members. These team members need to have a strong motivation for achievement of their goals. Moreover, the team’s goal AND the members’ individual goals must be aligned. Just because people don’t meet together in a physical location does not mean that there can’t be a culture of accountability. Every team and every...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Show me an organization that functions very well and I can show you a positive engaged leader. Last month I worked with a Westchester County NY organization that was having difficulty with its people. I asked some employees what they thought was the problem. They replied, “We need positive leadership. We need leadership with people skills.” What does your organization need? Does it need more sales or more profits? Does it need updated marketing that get results? Does your organizational structure need to change to get business to the next level? Regardless of how you answer these questions one fact is abundantly clear. It is your people who achieve the results. That is true for any size organization and it is also true if you are a sole practitioner.   Let’s start with you and your personal leadership. Ask yourself these questions: •          Am I the best I can be? •          Am...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
The reason that many great ideas never become reality is lack of commitment to get started. It is a law of physics. It takes more energy to start a car or turn on a light than to continue operating them. This is also true with starting a project or starting a business. It takes more effort to get started. For that reason people over analyize and tell themselves the don’t want do it until it is perfect. A coach colleague of mine has coined this habit “Getting ready to go to work”. I cannot start until I get my brochures, business cards, website, 2 number 2 pencils—you get the idea! I have heard that 80% of people who say they want to run a business of their own don’t follow through. Why? One possible answer is the rewards aren’t sufficient enough to motivate them into action. Another probable answer is procrastination...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Have you ever heard someone describe a leader that they admire as a “born leader”?   But really, what is a born leader? Are leaders born?   If I were to ask you to tell me what qualities you think of when you think of a great leader each of you would probably answer with totally different qualities and attributes. I have just read some blogs remembering events on the anniversary of 9/11. Did born leaders appear at just the right time? 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? Let’s take two military leaders from World War II. George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower were both considered to be great leaders. Their attributes and their personalities, however, were very different. Patton was in the face of...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
There is a distinction between management and leadership. Management is a matter of job title that is given by your organization or by yourself if you are the owner of the company. On the other hand leadership is recognition by those whom you lead. Expressed in different terms a manager has the authority and a leader has the power. 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 forces inspires and demands that each person does his or her very best. A military leader does not have to possess the traits and style of George S. Patton to be an effective commander. People with totally different traits...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
In 1969, Lawrence Peter wrote a humorous book titled The Peter Principle in which he postulated that, in a hierarchy people tend to be promoted to the level of their incompetence. He noted that although this is not planned it is the unintended consequence. In most companies employees are rewarded for great performance by being promoted. The very good reasons for promoting from within include, among others, 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 new job. Inevitably, according to the Peter Principle, the person ends up being promoted to a job where they are no longer competent. This is referred to as their "level of incompetence". The employee has no chance of further promotion, thus reaching his or her career's ceiling in an organization. We can...

Recent Comments Show all comments

  • Larry H. Maxey
    Larry H. Maxey says
    My View Grant, Thanks for the article. I have never agreed with the premise of the Peter Principle. While ...
  • Grant Schneider
    Grant Schneider says
    Good Point Larry - the manager is responsible for the results of subordinates. I think we need to to put more ...
  • Larry H. Maxey
    Larry H. Maxey says
    Tough Sell Grant, We should follow that advice. However, in our "slash and burn" business mentality that seems...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
How are you managing? What are you being paid to do as a manager? In the earlier times of business the role of a manager was not that complex. The manager oversaw what employees did. People performed or were fired. This traditional boss is no longer effective and no longer welcome. Management today is more complex. As manager you are responsible for the performance of your team, your business, or your company. In essence, the buck stops with you. That does not mean that you do everything yourself. It also does not mean that you offload your responsibility to your employees. It means that you get results with your people. That means that you must delegate with confidence. You must be confident because you can only delegate tasks and even authority but you can never delegate your responsibility. An effective manager must successfully perform these five functions. Planning involves establishing and...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
One of the biggest challenges for a person becoming a great leader is the tendency to be a control freak. Some of the symptoms of this challenge are a business that is stumbling, a frustrated owner, or employees who are not on the same page. This does not start out as a problem. In fact, it starts out as strength. Let’s consider this scenario. A person has talent in home repairs. He does great work and he has loyal customers. He begins to get busy to the point that he cannot do all the work himself so he hires others. Bear in mind that he has developed a quality brand based on his individual work. In this scenario it is only natural that he wants to protect his brand so he very closely supervises the work of his helpers and employees to the point that he could almost do the work...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Creating a successful team requires skillful leadership. Let’s assume that we all agree that an organization is only as good as its people. It is important 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. That is not going to happen if you have a lot of highly qualified but individual performers. You need cohesive and effective teams to make it happen, not people in individual silos. Everyone has different talents and it is important to leverage those talents. The power of your team is only as effective as your weakest link. Creating a winning team begins with creating a culture that allows...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Getting top performance from your 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...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Most businesses say yes but do not know what that means. First of all you need to know where your business is now. You have to have a starting point. Then you can see where you want to go. Businesses like people go through growth stages and many drop off along the way.  Some businesses may survive due to external dynamics and timing but they will become stagnant and the owner will feel like a hamster on a wheel. There is a lack of entrepreneurial leadership. 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 open a restaurant. They open the business and make sales. However, the owner is usually consumed with running the business and catering to...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Do you know the key to great leadership? When I do an introductory session on leadership I ask the group of participants to list the characteristics that they believe make a great leader. They are next asked to give some examples of great leaders and leaders that they admire.  You probably would not be surprised to learn that there is a considerable difference in the lists. Some are even opposites of each other. One person may say that a great leader is steady and predictable while another person may say that a leader is unpredictable and thinks outside of the box. One may say tough minded while another may say soft spoken. As a further example to this point I received a number of challenges from readers to my recent blog 7 WAYS TO IDENTIFY A BULLY FROM A LEADER. When people gave examples of great leaders and those they admire...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
A new book suggests that a very successful CEO, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, used bullying tactics. While that may be in dispute how many bosses take management by objectives to this level? If I had a room of people and I asked the question, "what constitutes an effective leader" I might get as many answers as people in the room. There are many traits that make a successful leader. I believe that effective leaders and managers do get results working with other people. But there is a difference between a boss and leader. Someone can appoint himself boss because he signs the paycheck or a manager is the boss because he was given that title from above. But just because someone is given a title does not guarantee that he can manage effectively. To be truly effective a manager or leader must make appropriate use of their granted authority and earned...

Recent Comments Show all comments

  • Anna Tanneberger
    Anna Tanneberger says
    They are ignorant or lack emot... It is not as if bullies choose to be bullies, instead of being leaders. Some parents, teachers, CEOs...
  • Nick Rotolo
    Nick Rotolo says
    Good points of views 1 - 7 is a must in todays world. They are all workable. It’s a given and a must do. Looking at it d...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
What are the habits of an effective leader and why are they important?   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 at motivating and leading the staff. This will not allow the entire business to impress and lure new business to their company. That said what are those traits and habits of successful leaders. Well, that depends. Many of the traits that have been attributed to leaders are different. What works well with one leader may not work will with another. Many of the leadership traits can be developed. One successful trait is the ability to lead by focusing on results. We call that Fail Safe Leadership discussed in one my previous blogs. However, just as there...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
One of the fundamental requirements for organizational success is that all people in the organization are on the same page. The CEO or leader of the organization must demonstrate the ability to get results. But what results? What does success look like to the organization? That needs to be defined in the strategic plan under corporate vision and the corporate values. When the organization knows these things it can find people with shared values and grow the people and processes to ensure those 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....

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