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Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
People debate what makes a good leader. Some feel that there are traits that make good leaders. But 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. Well then, what do have successful leaders have if they don’t have similar traits? All successful leaders have the ability to set goals and achieve results. This really what is meant by “management by objectives.”     Start with a clear strategic vision—a strategic plan that inspires. Then create goals that support that vision. Next, what are the desired results from your team members? Define them. Align your people and your processes and make sure that everyone understands the goals and the plan. All of your operations should be linked to your plan. Then virtually everything that happens should work toward achieving that...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
What is good about your business and what could be improved? Would you like to know? Before you answer that question, I have another. Can you handle the truth? Sometimes when an organization asks for help and receives feedback it could be surprised to learn some inconvenient truths. If you really want to improve your organization you will want to learn the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you can’t handle the truth you won’t have an opportunity to make things better. If you want to learn how to improve your organization, you will want to have an organizational assessment of your business. There are very effective assessment instruments available to generate a fact-based picture of organizational performance. However, it is important to have a mutual understanding of the process first. So, before I begin the process I want to make sure that it will have a meaningful impact. I...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
It is important that a leader exercise proper control. However, if you exercise too much control you could hurt your business. But it can be tough to let go. Here is how it can happen. A business is started by an owner with a vision to create a great product or service. The owner must spend much time working in the business to make sure that the product or service gets out, the money gets collected, and the bills get paid. That is very important for business survival. The owner works hard IN the business. He or she must attend to every detail and, if he forgets one thing, it could be a disaster. The business owner spends most of his or her time working IN the business and virtually no time working ON the business. Why is this problematic? When the owner starts the business he or she needs to...

Posted by on in Improved Business Results
How can you tell if your business is growing? Very simple, you measure it. You may have heard the expression, “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it” In my consultation with my business owners in Westchester County we work on success through focusing on their vision, their values, and goals. Then they execute their goals and measure results. You need to have a strategic outlook on your business. Another way of saying this is that you look at the whole rather than the parts or you must work ON your business rather than IN your business. What you measure is just as important as having and plan and executing it. For example, many business owners are familiar with the acronym EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization), or more simply said profit. That, however, is a measure of what has happened in the past. It may not predict...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
All results, good or bad, are the result of the leaders. Think about organizations in the news, both good and bad, and the leader of the organization is heralded or blamed. Yes, the leader sets the tone, the direction, and also models behavior. Positive results are the result of positive leaders. Show me an organization that functions very well and I can show you a positive engaged leader. I recently asked a group of employees in Westchester County NY what was wrong with their company. 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 an updated marketing plan that gets 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...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Are you doing the job you are paid to do? If you were promoted to management recently this is a fair question. There a large difference between being a great individual performer and a great manager and leader. 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. Companies make a flawed assumption that because the employee was a great individual performer in the previous job that he or she will adapt and become a leader of the team. 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,...

Posted by on in Employee Engagement
What is the best was to see your business grow and have a sustainable business? The answer is this. It has been proven time and time again that a manager who empowers his or her staff by giving them authority to make decisions and control outcomes is many times more successful than a manager who holds the control. Management teams in Westchester County NY that have been following this advice have been seeing their sales increase and their employee turnover decrease. Clearly empowerment of staff creates better outcomes. Unfortunately, managers and executives find it very hard to let go and allow their staff to drive results. In some cases, the need to be right prevents the manager from trusting his or her employees. If you have a trust or fear issue you might want to ask yourself these two questions. First of all, have you provided your staff with all of...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
What makes a great leader? Many people debate that there are certain leadership traits. Even if that is true these traits have most likely been developed. The development of your leadership depends on the environment such as type of organization, team demographic, and nature of mission. 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 a leader the traits needed can, most of the time, be developed. Traits like knowledge and skills, however, do not guarantee success. It is necessary for a leader to develop successful habits. 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...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
What causes the difference between a high performing team and one that is dysfunctional and full of performance issues? There could be a number of causes but one cause for sure would be poor leadership. An organization is only as good as its people. Your first role as leader is to select the right people. After you have hired the right 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
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
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 Employee Engagement
Exercising strong control rarely leads to better performance. In fact the opposite is true. Micro managing will actually create poor performance because it stifles development of the team. Without an empowered team you as the manager will end up doing everything yourself. Of course, as sole entrepreneur will need to control everything. But once you decide to add just one new employee your main job is not control but getting others to do what needs to be done. Now being in control will be seen as being a control freak in the eyes of your staff. This behavior also known as micro managing will actually demotivate your team and guarantee that you will do everything yourself because no one does it as well as you do. Or so it seems. Why is this problematic? Let me ask another question. Why did you hire another person to begin with? The answer is...

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 Employee Engagement
Many companies do not understand why their turnover is so high. Some think that it is all about money and benefits. But unless you pay below standard it is not about money. Sure, an employee will tell you that he or she left for a better opportunity. You might, therefore, assume that it had to do with money but don’t be fooled. There is much more going on than just money. You cannot treat employees as commodities assuming that they will come to work just because they are getting paid. Some vendors of perks may even tell you that if you offer special perks then your retention will be better. You would need a very large amount of those perks to try to buy loyalty. And what would you gain in loyalty or performance? You might even entice poor performers to stay when you would be better off with retaining only...

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...

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