The Advisor’s Corner – How Do I Build Ownership?

How Do I Build Ownership?Question:

How do I build ownership of the team with the team so I don’t dominate as the leader?

StrategyDriven Response: (by Roxi Hewertson, StrategyDriven Principal Contributor)

It’s really good that you have the self-awareness to even ask this question. Too many leaders simply plunge into ‘task’ mode without even considering the dynamics of their teams or how to get them most from team members.

When you decide to put a team together, you need to have a reason. Explicitly identify WHY the team exists in the first place and why each individual is important to success. Make sure that everyone is connected to that shared purpose.

Then, make the time to create your team’s Ground Rules, or Rules of Engagement. This is one of the most ignored and yet one of the most important things you MUST do so that all the members know, not assume, what behaviors and actions are acceptable and not acceptable within the group. For instance, do the members care about starting and ending on time, silencing technology, making it an acceptable norm to pass in a ‘round-robin’? Of course, your team members must hold themselves and each other (including you) accountable to those Ground Rules or they will become meaningless.

Here are a few more things you can do as the leader:

  • Don’t speak first unless you have to. Rotate facilitation and/or process observer roles.
  • Ask more than you tell.
  • Develop your mission, vision and values with the team and for the team.
  • Be clear how decisions – each and every one – will be made. This will often vary based on the topic and the decision. It’s critical to be clear about who the decision maker is and how the decision will be determined and when it needs to happen.
  • Prepare – make the effort to ‘design’ the agenda and plan your meetings and gatherings so that everyone’s time is well spent. Check in regularly to find out whether improvements or changes are needed.
  • Always have an agenda and always send it out ahead of time – with input from the team about priorities and topics if at all possible. Make sure that info sharing is no more than 20 percent of the agenda and that most of the time is about discussion and/or decisions. This includes when you are building the team with various activities to assist members to know, trust, and work well with one another.

There is a great deal to learn about building high functioning teams. This is just a start – and it will get you a long way.


About the Author

Roxi HewertsonLeadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through AskRoxi.com, Roxi — “the Dear Abby of Leadership” — imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.


The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].

StrategyDriven The Advisors Corner Article

The Advisor’s Corner – Can Ethics Be Learned?

Can Ethics Be Learned?Question:

Can you teach ethics, or are we ‘hard wired’ and born with or without ethics?

StrategyDriven Response: (by Roxi Hewertson, StrategyDriven Principal Contributor)

YES you can teach the principles and importance of ethics. YES, you can model the ethics you expect within your culture. And… NO, you cannot be sure someone will behave and act in ethical ways just because you’ve taught or modeled ethics for them.

NO, we are not born with a particular set of ethics of what is right and what is wrong in every context.

And here’s why…

Whatever society you live within, its culture, your family, your peers, and the reward and punishment experiences you receive from all of them, shape your ethics. For example, consider China’s one baby ‘recommendation’ versus the Catholic Church’s no birth control edict. Each entity, made up of people, operating within their own culture, thinks they are doing the ‘right’ thing for the ‘right’ reasons. Therefore, what’s ethical in China is not ethical in Rome and vice versa.

We are so quick to pass judgment on other cultures’ ethics and ways of living and being that we might even convince ourselves that ‘those people’ whomever they are, are dead wrong, period. The reality is, their ethics are wrong based on your ethics. It’s just not as simple as we’d prefer it to be. This makes judgment about what is right and wrong a very personal issue and that means we aren’t born with ethics; we learn ethics.

Our personal values are formed in early family life and evolve as we get older. We might challenge our parents’ or cultural values or keep them. We may have an experience that shapes us and alters what matters most. Different stages of life may affect what we will ‘fall on our swords’ for.

And those values, whatever they are, drive our behaviors, even unconsciously at times.

For example: if integrity is high on my values list, I will pay far more attention to ethics than if my highest value is wealth. It’s that simple. And… If integrity and wealth are both on my top 5, then I will behave very differently in my business dealings than if they are not together in the top 5.

One more example:

Think about the ‘mafia.’ There are entirely different sets of ethical standards and ‘rules’ driven by different values and relationships. For ‘family’ life is precious. For strangers, life is indifferent. For enemies, life is worthless.

I believe we all know right from wrong within our own system and culture unless we have a very real mental health disorder that distorts reality. It is also clear that what is right for one culture, family, or society can be totally wrong for another. So if we are going to talk about ‘ethics’ we need to consider ethics within a cultural context and determine how much flexibility the culture we live within is going to permit before we deem something unethical.

In our workplaces, what is not acceptable behavior needs to be very explicit to everyone for all of the reasons we’ve just considered. If you want a workplace where your values and principles are honored and matter, then you must be crystal clear about what that means in decision-making, communications, and for managing relationships with people both inside and outside the organization.


About the Author

Roxi HewertsonLeadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through AskRoxi.com, Roxi — “the Dear Abby of Leadership” — imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.


The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].

The Advisor’s Corner – Are People Listening to Me?

Are People Listening to Me?Question:

Is it me, or are people listening less and less at work and at home?

StrategyDriven Response: (by Roxi Hewertson, StrategyDriven Principal Contributor)

I have observed a continuous degradation in communication skills among leaders for over two decades, and yes it IS getting worse. This may not surprise you, but it should get your attention. Poor communications skills are rampant in the workplace. We wag our fingers at politicians who are not listening to each other and yet, we are doing the same things in our own workplaces all around the country. The results may be less catastrophic (or not); never-the-less, the impact on our people, businesses and society is huge! While technology gets a lot of blame, I suggest that, like any tool, technology can be used in positive or negative ways. What really matters is HOW we CHOOSE to communicate, and use our tools.

Tools work well for:

  • sharing information
  • setting up meetings
  • keeping a record

They do not work well:

  • when we need to build a relationship, have a dialogue, or make a decision
  • when we copy the world to cover our bases or boost our egos
  • when there is emotion involved

A recent Development Dimensions International (DDI) study, Driving Workplace Performance through High-Quality Conversations: What leaders must do every day to be effective, accurately reflects my work with clients, and reminds us that leaders, peers and direct reports, need to hold more effective conversations to get more effective business performance. Since communication norms are deeply woven into the tapestry of every organization’s culture, this challenge starts with the CEO and involves all her/his leaders. The DDI study validates how important emotional intelligence competencies, particularly self-awareness and social skills are in human interactions.

Everything we do happens through our relationships – at work and in life. When communication is poor or stops, the relationship is poor or stops and vice versa. In the DDI study they point out that senior leaders have not mastered these (communication) skills any better than other less senior leaders, even though they have been at it longer. What happens instead? Take a few moments over the next several days to see if you notice any of these poor interaction habits in leaders you know, including yourself:

1. Jumping to task before understanding the full picture.
One Solution: Take time to gather information and listen carefully.

2. Unskilled at or choosing not to have, effective conversations.
One Solution: Learn this skill or get out of leadership.

3. Failing to engage others in decisions that impact them.
One Solution: Ask yourself, “Who is impacted by this decision?” and
engage them early on.

4. Failing to demonstrate authentic empathy.
One Solution: Slow down and truly put yourself in another person’s shoes. What might it be like to be them right now? Don’t know? Ask them.

5. Ego and personal agenda driven.
One Solution: Ask yourself, “Do I really need to be or prove I am right? Or do I want my team to succeed no matter whose idea it is?”

6. Unable to facilitate a productive meeting/discussion.
One Solution: Learn these skills and/or engage skilled facilitators to help you.

The systemic solution to improving interaction and communication skills in your organization, is to make it matter. It’s quite simple to do. What you reward, is what you will get. What you don’t reward, you will get much less often. Leaders generally know what a good conversation looks like.

Knowing is the easy part. Doing is the hard part. Since the leaders’ number one responsibility is to create and nurture the desired culture to get the desired results, every leader’s choices and priorities will roll downhill. This is particularly true for the behaviors we model to our direct reports – all the way from the C-Suite to the front line. At the end of the day, when we are not truly listening… we are not leading. Period.

Access the full report here, Driving Workplace Performance Through High-Quality Conversations: What leaders must do every day to be effective


About the Author

Roxi HewertsonLeadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through AskRoxi.com, Roxi — “the Dear Abby of Leadership” — imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.


The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].

The Advisor’s Corner – Leadership 101: 7 Key Reminders

Leadership 101: 7 Key RemindersQuestion:

I was just promoted into a role where I now supervise other people for the first time, so what do I have to keep in mind?

StrategyDriven Response: (by Roxi Hewertson, StrategyDriven Principal Contributor)

The basics of leading well have not changed since the beginning of human time, and are not likely to do so anytime soon. The lessons of Leadership 101 are not optional for any leader and yet, so many talented, smart people are struggling because somehow they skipped important steps or were pushed up before learning and integrating the BASICS of good leadership. The havoc that results from ignoring the basics cannot be overstated.

The problem is… the individual star player/performer often arrives on the job without the skills to be a star coach. Excellent leadership is the exception not the norm. Sadly, it’s more often by luck, than by design, that we have any good leaders at all.

The great news is that each of us who lead other people can make a big dent in this dysfunctional paradigm, and SHIFT it. Here are SEVEN BASICS that I hope will inspire you to become the leader your people deserve. I chose these because they are so foundational and yet, often forgotten.

1. Focus on what matters most and not on what matters least. People matter more than things. Values matter more than vision. Vision matters more than strategies. The end does not justify the means when core values are violated.

2. Reward what you want and not what you don’t. This is such a basic stimulus response no-brainer, yet leaders continuously fall into the trap of rewarding and giving attention to what they don’t, like giving a poor performer flexplace just to get them out of their hair instead of dealing with the performance issues.

3. If leading other people isn’t fun for you, don’t do it. Leading requires managing relationships well and people are messy. If you aren’t interested in the complexities of managing people including dealing with their conflicts, giving constructive feedback, and inspiring them, then leading people may not be for you. Do what you really love instead. You and they will be much happier.

4. Treat every person with dignity. The Golden is ‘treat others as you wish to be treated.’ That’s about fairness and our common humanity. My Platinum Rule is, ‘treat others as they wish to be treated.” That is about demonstrating empathy and that everyone has their own needs, personalities, experiences, motivators, and fears. Good leaders learn what those things are for each person, and pay attention to them.

5. Make time to think. If your calendar is littered with meetings you don’t want or need to attend, change it. If you are caught up in the ‘tyranny of the urgent,’ stop it. Over scheduling means you aren’t making time for thinking, and when you aren’t thinking you cannot lead well and do the things that are truly important – including developing your people and yourself.

6. Listen – Listen – and then Listen some more. If you are not listening, you are not leading – period. Notice the quality of your listening and dialogue skills. Yes, it is important that you share what you think and feel with your people. HOW you share, and how you truly listen to others’ ideas and concerns will help define your leadership.

7. Model what you expect and want from others. People are watching and listening ALL the time to every single thing you do and say. Your values, your behaviors, and your actions (including body language) send powerful messages to those you lead. You will receive your own words and actions in return from them – so consider what you model very carefully.

If ALL you do as a leader of other people is to pay attention to and deepen your skills within these basics, you will do well indeed.


About the Author

Roxi HewertsonLeadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through AskRoxi.com, Roxi — “the Dear Abby of Leadership” — imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.


The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].

StrategyDriven Advisors Corner Article

The Advisor’s Corner – ‘Strategic Action’ is better than just a Plan

‘Strategic Action’ is better than just a PlanQuestion:

My boss wants a strategic plan next month. It’s a really short window and I don’t know where to start. Any ideas?

StrategyDriven Response: (by Roxi Hewertson, StrategyDriven Principal Contributor)

Just saying the words, “We need a strategic plan,” often elicits a groan and eye rolls. This is the response because most strategic plans come to nothing or almost nothing.

I wish I had a dollar for every ‘Strategic Plan’ or ‘5 Year Plan,’ sitting on a dusty shelf in this country. Every one of those musty shelf-dwelling ‘Strategic Plans’ cost those leaders and their organizations a great deal of human effort and lost productivity. In fact, strategic planning has gotten such a bad name many people only do ‘it’ because someone tells them they have to.

And yet, everyone likes to have a clear sense of direction, a plan, and an end goal that they believe can and will be accomplished. That’s why we need to create a smart plan of action. I call it Strategic Action because it’s about doing, not just thinking about doing.

A plan is the precursor to the action to be sure. It can even be fun to plan. When done well, planning should engage people and generate fantastic ideas — and still it’s only half the loaf. So how do we get where we need to go?

I have walked many clients through this process and it works every time. It’s simple, makes common sense, and can be shaped to engage any and all stakeholders. This is a summary, but it will give you a good idea.

5 Steps to Strategic Action

Step One: The Mission, Vision, and Values of the organization must be clear, shared, communicated, and understood by everyone on the staff and with appropriate others (Board members, key stakeholders, etc.). Revisiting the Mission, Vision, and Values statements is essential to the process even if they are just being validated. If necessary, create new ones so a solid foundation is in place first.

Step Two: Test the Vision. For a vision to be effective over time, it must be inspiring, clear, credible, and create a strong commitment in everyone guided by it. Always test your vision to see if it meets those criteria well enough to be the overarching, driving force that a great vision needs to be.

Step Three: Identify those significant few (2-3) big strategies on which you will focus for the shorter term (1-3 years for instance) that are aligned with your mission, in harmony with your values, and most effectively advance your vision. In this step you may need to conduct a SWOT analysis and an Environmental Scan look at both the internal and external factors you should be considering. By engaging your stakeholders, you give them a voice in influencing the strategies that will ultimately chosen by you and your leadership team.

Step Four: Action plan the strategies! Once the strategies are established, ownership and accountability for each strategy must be determined and action plans must be put into place with deliverables and time lines. Good communication across the organization is an essential part of this step.

Step Five: Action plan the tactics! Determine what specific actions will ensure the 2-3 big strategies are accomplished on time, on budget, and with high quality. This work is led internally by those accountable for the execution of the strategies — individually and on teams. Pay attention to both the head and heart of this process, making sure the tactical goals are balanced with the impact on people.

If doing this well requires more time than suggested, try to bargain for more and explain why. When you follow all five of these steps you will have a ‘strategic action plan’ which should satisfy any boss!


About the Author

Roxi HewertsonLeadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through AskRoxi.com, Roxi — “the Dear Abby of Leadership” — imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.


The StrategyDriven website was created to provide members of our community with insights to the actions that help create the shared vision, focus, and commitment needed to improve organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. We look forward to answering your strategic planning and tactical business execution questions. Please email your questions to [email protected].