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Leading Your Team One Step At A Time

If you want to get far in business, one of the primary factors that you can’t afford to ignore is ensuring that your management team are as professional as possible. They are among your most important staff members, and it is vital that you hire people you think will succeed in leading your team in however they need to be led. Of course, there are always certain characteristics which you will need to look out for if you want your team to be led well, and it is worth looking into what those are. Let’s have a look at some of the more important qualities now, so that you can help to lead your teams as well as possible.

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article
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Confidence To Lead

People will generally have a much easier time following someone if they appear to have the confidence to lead. This is something that you can’t really overlook when you are thinking of who should lead your teams. You probably don’t want to put in charge someone who is unable to display confidence in front of groups of people. However, it is also true that sometimes less confident people have better ideas. It seems fair to try and draw a balance, and not to immediately dismiss those who might not be strongly confident in comparison to others. Confidence, after all, is something which can be learned, and it is good to give people the chance to prove themselves. Sometimes, you find real gems this way, and it favors your business massively in the long run.

Cool Head In Emergencies

Being prepared for the worst is a good idea in business generally and in leaders in particular. No matter what happens, you need to be able to know that your management team will be able to properly deal with it. It is therefore a good idea to choose managers who appear to have a cool head, and who would continue to do so in an emergency situation. There are all kinds of emergencies which can crop up in business, and preparing for as many of them as possible always puts you in a good stead. You’ll find that your managers are more adept at remaining calm particularly if you have a number of good emergency procedures in place – get business insurance online, have a risk assessment done, coincide with all safety laws. This all helps, and your management will probably appreciate it.

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article
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Easygoing Communication

The ability to communicate well with others is always going to be paramount for your management staff. When you can communicate strongly, it means that you are more likely to get things done properly and on time, and it also means that relationships in the working culture can be developed much more easily and fluently. Make sure your managers are all the kind of people that other can talk to easily – this really does make a world of difference when it comes to getting things done on a daily basis, and creating a positive working culture.

Is Your Business Heading For The Cliff Edge?

What exactly is a disaster scenario in business? A disaster scenario occurs when you are no longer able to sell your products or make a profit with your company. At that money, the engines for your business have faltered, and you’re falling fast. In cases like this, the best option would be to start completing damage control procedures. But, if we’re looking at the optimum outcome, you should not be controlling the damage at all. Instead, you should do everything you can to make sure it never happens in the first place.

You need to avert a disaster scenario in your business, and there are a number of ways that you can do this.

Keep Spending Under Control


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One of the most common disaster scenarios is caused by a simple case of overspending. By spending more than you make from your business, you will reach the point where you’re no longer making a profit. Once you get to that stage, you only really have two options. You must be ready to cut back. Of course, if you keep your budget under control from day one, you’ll never reach that point. So, you’ll have to think about how to manage your budget.

Outsourcing is a great way to cut the costs while still delivering a quality service to your customers. You can outsource almost any part of a business these days from logistics to HR. When you do outsource, you have to remember that you are essentially giving the control of that part of your business to another company. They’ll still work for you, but they will be responsible for maintaining quality levels. As such, you should choose a company very carefully.

Backup Everything


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Another piece of advice would be to make sure that you are backing up important data and files in your business. To do this, you can use a colocation service for your company. Colocation services provide data protection, handling and backup for companies and colocation pricing can be very reasonable indeed. For just a few hundred out of your budget, you can make sure that if your systems do break down you have a backup ready to go. This can allow you to avoid your business entering a period of disaster recovery that can take weeks or even months.

Hire A Legal Advisor


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Of course, one of the main issues that might cause a disaster scenario for your business would be a legal issue. That’s why you might want to think about hiring a legal advisor for your company. You can check in with your legal advisor every so often and ensure that you’re not crossing any lines that you shouldn’t be.

Legal issues can arise in any area of your company, but you should pay particularly close attention to employee management. It’s quite possible for an injury or complaint from an employee to send your business towards a legal case that could cost hundreds of thousands. An SME won’t survive this type of expense and neither will your business.

If you take this advice, you can steer your business away from the cliff edge before you get anywhere near it.

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article

Want To Be A Great Team Leader? Look On The Bright Side

Some entrepreneurs are great at managing their money or developing new deals with clients. But sometimes, they lack skills in the leadership department, mainly because they’ve not had time to practice them elsewhere in their lives. Some people believe that you’ve either got leadership skills or you haven’t. But, as it turns out, there are plenty of ways to improve your leadership skills that don’t require you to totally change your character. Here’s how.

Be An Optimist

It’s hard being a great leader while believing that the world is getting worse. It kind of takes a bit of the joy out of running a team of people and striving for a better life in the future. As a result, great leaders tend to be optimists in general, and this helps to keep their staff upbeat and on track. Positive thinking tends to go hand-in-glove with higher team output and individual productivity.

Get To Know The People Working For You

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article
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With the rise of internet working, it’s becoming more and more difficult for managers to get the know the people who work for them. But just because a lot of your interactions are digital, doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. Even if you’re just employing contractors on a temporary basis, ask them how their lives are going, whether they’re enjoying their work and what they want to achieve in the future. All these questions can help bring a team together even if they seem unimportant at the time.

Get Excited About Going To Work

In every job, there’s something worth getting excited about. That’s because all jobs are fundamentally about serving other people and helping to meet their needs. Even if your business does something mundane, like clean out septic tanks, it’s still possible to get enthused about what you do. After all, who wants a malfunctioning septic tank? It’s funny: the longer you work at something, the more passionate you tend to become about it. The best way to really get into a management role is to embrace it and make it an important part of your life.

Update Your Skills

The science of management has come along a long way since you last went to school and a lot has been learned. As a result, it might be a good idea to head back to school temporarily to update your skills. Thanks to things like FPU online degrees, there’s no longer any need to go to a physical college or school to learn more about the craft. It can now all be done over the internet meaning that you can organize your training around your day job.

Find A Mentor

Leading a team is never easy or a process because people are complex creatures. As a result, it can sometimes help to get a mentor to help you through the harder times – and there will be tougher times. Mentors are great for giving advice and well as sharing stories about the leadership trials they faced and how they got through them.

Hank Moore

Mentoring and Lifelong Learning

Professionals who succeed the most are the products of mentoring. I heartily endorse that find a great mentor. I have had many excellent ones in my long career and have in turn mentored hundreds of others.

The mentor is a resource for business trends, societal issues and opportunities. The mentor becomes a role model, offering insights about their own life-career. The mentor is an advocate for progress and change. Such work empowers the mentee to hear, accept, believe and get results. The sharing of trust and ideas leads to developing business philosophies.

The mentor endorses the mentee, messages ways to approach issues, helps draw distinctions and paints pictures of success. The mentor opens doors for the mentee. The mentor requests pro-active changes of mentee, evaluates realism of goals and offers truths about path to success and shortcomings of mentee’s approaches. This is a bonded collaboration toward each other’s success. The mentor stands for mentees throughout their careers and celebrates their successes. This is a lifelong dedication toward mentorship… in all aspects of one’s life.

The most significant lessons that I learned in my business life from mentors, verified with experience, are shared here:

  1. You cannot go through life as a carbon copy of someone else.
  2. You must establish your own identity, which is a long, exacting process.
  3. As you establish a unique identity, others will criticize. Being different, you become a moving target.
  4. People criticize you because of what you represent, not who you are. It is rarely personal against you. Your success may bring out insecurities within others. You might be what they cannot or are not willing to become.
  5. If you cannot take the dirtiest job in any company and do it yourself, then you will never become “management.”
  6. Approach your career as a body of work. This requires planning, purpose and commitment. It’s a career, not just a series of jobs.
  7. The person who is only identified with one career accomplishment or by the identity of one company for whom he-she formerly worked is a one-hit wonder and, thus, has no body of work.
  8. The management that takes steps to “fix themselves” rather than always projecting problems upon other people will have a successful organization.
  9. It’s not when you learn. It’s that you learn.
  10. Many people do without the substantive insights into business because they have not really developed critical thinking skills.
  11. Analytical and reasoning skills are extensions of critical thinking skills.
  12. You perform your best work for free. How you fulfill commitments and pro-bono work speaks to the kind of professional that you are.
  13. People worry so much what others think about them. If they knew how little others thought, they wouldn’t worry so much. This too is your challenge to frame how they see you and your company.
  14. Fame is fleeting and artificial. The public is fickle and quick to jump on the newest flavor, without showing loyalty to the old ones, especially those who are truly original. Working in radio, I was taught, “They only care about you when you’re behind the microphone.”
  15. The pioneer and “one of a kind” professional has a tough lot in life. It is tough to be first or so far ahead of the curve that others cannot see it. Few will understand you. Others will attain success with portions of what you did. None will do it as well.
  16. Consumers are under-educated and don’t know the substance of a pioneer. Our society takes more to the copycats and latest fads. Only the pioneer knows and appreciates what he-she really accomplished. That reassurance will have to be enough.
  17. Life and careers include peaks and valleys. It’s how one copes during the “down times” that is the true measure of success.
  18. Long-term success must be earned. It is not automatic and is worthless if ill-gotten. The more dues one pays, the more you must continue paying.
  19. The next best achievement is the one you’re working on now, inspired by your body of knowledge to date.
  20. The person who never has aggressively pursued a dream or mounted a series of achievements cannot understand the quest of one with a deeply committed dream.
  21. A great percentage of the population does not achieve huge goals but still admires and learns from those who do persevere and succeed. The achiever thus becomes a lifelong mentor to others.
  22. Achievement is a continuum, but it must be benchmarked and enjoyed along the way.

These are my concluding pieces of leadership advice. Know where you are going. Develop, update and maintain a career growth document. Keep a diary of lessons learned but not soon forgotten. Learn the reasons for success and, more importantly, from failure.

Good bosses were good employees. They have keen understanding for both roles. Bad bosses likely were not ideal employees. They too are consistent in career history. Being your own boss is yet another lesson. People who were downsized from a corporate environment suddenly enter the entrepreneurial world and find the transition to be tough.

Poor people skills cloud any job performance and overshadow good technical skills. The worst bosses do not sustain long careers at the top. Their track record catches up with them, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not.

Good workers don’t automatically become good bosses. Just because someone is technically proficient or is an exemplary producer does not mean that he-she will transition to being a boss. The best school teachers do not want to become principals, for that reason. Good job performers are better left doing what they do best. Administrators, at all levels, need to be properly trained as such, not bumped up from the field to do something for which they have no inclination.

Truth and ethics must be woven into how you conduct business. If you do not “walk the talk,” who will? Realize that very little of what happens to you in business is personal. Find common meeting grounds with colleagues. The only workable solution is a win-win.

Leadership and executive development skills are steadily learned and continually sharpened. One course or a quick-read book will not instill them. The best leaders are prepared to go the distance. Professional enrichment must be life-long. Early formal education is but a starting point. Study trends in business, in your industry and in the industries of your customers.

People skills mastery applies to every profession. There is no organization that does not have to communicate to others about what it does. The process of open company dialogs must be developed to address conflicts, facilitate win-win solutions and further organizational goals.


About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Steve Blue

Seven Lessons American Manufacturing’s Decline Can Teach Any Company

The United States destroyed its enemies in World War II because it out-produced them. Its manufacturing capacity was enormous and efficient. Its workforce was inspired and committed. The government, suppliers, and competitors all collaborated to produce the biggest manufacturing juggernaut the world had ever known. It seemed there was no end to America’s manufacturing might.

But there was.

The end to America being a manufacturing powerhouse began during the recession of 2008. Millions of middle-class manufacturing jobs were lost. And they never came back. In fact, since 1979, manufacturing employment has plummeted by over 33%. That is worse than the job losses during the Great Depression.

So what happened? How did the world’s mightiest manufacturing machine end up as the equivalent of room service to China? How did the nation with the workforce that won the war end up with a workforce outsourced to India? How did the most motivated, inspired, and productive workforce on the planet end up caring more about their bowling scores than their production numbers?

There is no shortage of explanations. Some experts claim China is to blame. Others cite United States trade policies. And still others say it is because of the rise of the Millennials.

However, very few people point to the real reason. And that is a failure of American leadership on an epic scale; a failure of government to work with manufacturing instead of against it; a failure of business to adapt to the global marketplace instead of running from it. But most of all, it is a failure of leadership to harness and unleash the remarkable potential of the American worker.

You can’t unleash this massive potential without creating a “culture by design, not default”. A culture by design has a bedrock of carefully selected company-wide values that motivates employees, delights customers, serves their communities and sparks innovation and creativity. But most companies have cultures “by default, not design”. They have what I call “bumper sticker” values. Bumper sticker values are created in boardrooms because they sound cool. But they don’t reflect the real, underlying values of the organization.

One has to look no further than the Wells Fargo bogus accounts debacle to illustrate this. Two of Wells Fargo’s key values are “ethics” and “what’s right for their customers”. And yet what they did was clearly neither. How can a company with those supposed ethics commit such an act? It can only be because while those values look good on a bumper sticker, the real, underlying values at Wells Fargo are “profit above all else”. Now don’t misunderstand me, profit has to be the number one goal. The problem with that as a core value, above all else is people will act that way. And when they do, relationships between employees and customers suffer, quality suffers, the books get cooked, and all other manner of bad outcomes.

That is why it is so important to build a culture by design. Cultures by design contain foundational values that drive organizational behavior toward remarkable outcomes. Cultures by default contain foundational values that drive organizational behavior toward bad outcomes.

The key point here is that you should choose values and not let values choose you. Here are some simple steps to get started:

1. Understand the values your organization currently has. Some, perhaps all, the values may be perfectly appropriate. Some may not be. But remember, the underlying values are probably different than the bumper sticker values. Conduct an anonymous survey of every single employee and ask them. Don’t make this a human resource exercise. It has to come right from the top to be taken seriously.

2. Once you know the underlying values of the organization, decide which ones are worth keeping, nourishing, and promoting and which ones need to be discarded. And then you and your senior leadership team can decide which new values need to be implemented. This is not a slogan exercise. It is a gut-wrenching soul-searching mission. Which values should you choose? It will be different in every company but you should choose values that drive organizational behavior toward remarkable outcomes. Don’t choose values that sound cool in the C-suite but stupid to employees. Choose values that everyone in the organization can get behind and feel good about. Sound like a tough job? It is. The last time I did this it took a year.

3. Declare to the organization the new values that have been chosen and why. If you have chosen well, people will applaud you when you tell them. If you have chosen poorly, you’ll be a water cooler joke. Be very deliberate and comprehensive when you announce the new values. Explain completely what each value means, why it was chosen, and what you expect from employees in terms of behavior to support the values.

4. Now comes the most crucial part. You must be certain your senior executives live these values day by day. You can’t expect “people from below to do what the top does not”. Some of your executives won’t go along with the new values. Ask them to leave the company. Yes, you read that right. One loose cannon on the values ship can scuttle the whole effort.

5. Align all organization policies and practices to support the new values. Make them part of performance appraisals, standards for promotions, and compensation increases. Don’t let this become a “check the box to keep human resources happy” exercise.

6. Once the values are firmly entrenched, don’t let anybody in the front door that doesn’t believe in them. Do a “values check” as part of the interview process.

7. And finally, this has to be a CEO initiative or it will fail. Think of this as a strategic culture plan, requiring years to execute, not months. And give it the same time, importance, attention, and resources as you do the strategic operating plan.


About the Author

CEO Miller IngenuitySteven L. Blue is the President & CEO of Miller Ingenuity, a global supplier of mission-critical solutions in the transportation industry and author of the new book, American Manufacturing 2.0: What Went Wrong and How to Make It Right. For more information, please visit www.StevenLBlue.com, www.milleringenuity.com and connect with Blue on Twitter, @SteveBlueCEO.