4 Guiding Principles That Serve as a Foundation for Leadership Success

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership Success|4 Guiding Principles That Serve as a Foundation for Leadership SuccessEarly in my business career, I worked as a team leader on a high-level project. I had what I thought were great ideas, and I was excited to jump in and get started. I immediately doled out assignments, telling everyone exactly what to do and how to do it. Unfortunately, one of my team members disagreed with the vision that I tried to share.

I didn’t spend the time I should have explaining my reasoning and collaborating with my team to ensure that we all felt we were moving in the right direction. As a result, this lone team member did all they could to sabotage the project, and it was ultimately a failure.

Since then, I’ve come a long way, leading many successful and profitable companies, and I’ve learned a few things about the best way to do it. In fact, I have come up with a set of 4 guiding principles that have been successful for me many, many times over.

1. Trust

Trust is perhaps the most important principle in leadership. If you build trust within your organization, then it will run smoothly. I’ve learned through experience that micromanaging doesn’t work. If someone can do the job, and build that trust with me, they deserve to play an integral part in the company. If they don’t build that trust, they probably don’t belong in our organization. While everyone needs self-discipline, it can’t come from the top down. It has to come from personal ownership and pride in what they’re accomplishing.

2. Vision

Clear business goals are almost always the key to success in both the short and long-term. You need a clear vision of where you want to go, what you want to accomplish and how you will achieve it. Stephen R. Covey, someone I admired greatly, said, “If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.” This is true in both personal and organizational goals as a whole.

3. Unity

As my opening example illustrated, if everyone in your organization doesn’t share a unified goal, you will have a much tougher time reaching it. If someone doesn’t believe in the vision, they won’t give their best effort to push for that final destination. That is why it’s critical to spend the time and energy necessary to truly sell your vision inside your organization. Build that trust, and keep the end goal in mind as you go, and everyone is more likely to get behind you.

4. Execute the Vision With Kindness

People respond to the best kind of treatment. As you move forward with your vision, keep kindness at the forefront of all you do. Employees that are treated with respect are employees that will continue to respect both you and your vision.

I truly believe in these principles. Last year in one of my current ventures, we made building trust our internal priority for the entire year. We focused on extending trust to every employee in their role – giving guidance, then empowering them with what they needed to get their job done. From there – we let them find the best way to accomplish the company vision. Without the burden of micro-management, our sales improved by around 30%! It’s difficult to argue with that kind of success.

Building trust takes time and energy, but it is always worth it in the long run. With a foundation of trust, sharing a unified vision becomes easier. Respecting your employees can turn into expecting more from your employees – and because they trust you in return, they will rise to the occasion.


About the Author

Glenn JakinsGlenn Jakins is a serial entrepreneur with a multi-decade track record of taking creative ideas and turning them into successful products that change lives. With a strong background in logistics and operations, he has helped launch multiple 8-figure companies and been instrumental in the increase of tens of millions of dollars in sales for many more. Currently, in addition to other investment ventures, Glenn heads Humless as CEO, pioneering reliable power systems based on clean energy sources.

3 Core Differences Between a Boss and a Leader

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leaders|3 Core Differences Between a Boss and a LeaderWhen it comes to management in the workplace, it takes a real person to be a leader for their employees. There is a big difference between the word “boss” and “leader,” as these two words do not mean the same thing. Below is a closer look at three characteristics a leader possesses and why employees look up to them.

What a Boss is

Simply put, some bosses are just a boss. They have attained a position in the management section of the corporate world with a nice office and a designated parking space. They sit back behind their desks and make decisions that affect the direction of the company and often dictate how money is spent. Although these aspects are needed, they are not enough to make the people holding those positions leaders. Fortunately, a boss can become a leader by learning the differences and applying them to the job.

Leading, Rather Than Pushing

Leaders motivate their employees and find practical solutions together to make sure the employees are inspired and follow their leader’s example. Bosses tend to push employees into doing something without really giving them much guidance. This not only forces employees to work without having clear directions, but the results will most likely be less than favored. A good leader will present ideas and work alongside their employees to demonstrate that communication is key and working together to achieve goals as a team is the way to succeed.

Leaders Listen

A good leader spends time listening to their employees instead of talking above them. True leaders see the value of asking employees about their opinions and incorporating those opinions into the decision-making process. On the other hand, a boss will dominate the conversation while expecting employees to listen attentively and carry out commands while giving them little or no direction. Listening will build a team of engaged employees who know they are valued for their skills and knowledge and will want to work harder and more efficiently to complete projects.

Invest Time in Their Employees

Some bosses tend to ignore the majority of their employees, giving those employees the sense of an uncertain future within the company. A leader does not ignore an employee. They invest time and effort in helping each employee develop in their profession, teaching them new skills and allowing them to advance in their careers. Not only that, but a leader will look at their management style and make changes where needed to ensure they are giving employees the attention and guidance needed to perform at their best.

Many people in positions of authority seem to think they only need to stand aside and supervise their employees rather than taking the initiative and working alongside their team. Employees that see their leader invested in the project will be inspired to do their best work as well as improving the team’s motivation, creativity, and collaboration. Good leaders in the corporate world lead their employees by example. Employees will respect their supervisor a lot more if they are relatable and make themselves approachable to the staff.

Supervisors at any level are only as good as the employees that work for them. If a supervisor does not respect their employees and treat them well, the employees will not perform to the best of their ability, and this will reflect poorly on that supervisor and the project they are in charge of.

6 leadership lessons I learned from running an organic meal delivery company

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership|6 leadership lessons I learned from running an organic meal delivery companyCooking the perfect meal takes time, planning and foresight — and so does great leadership.

My journey as CEO of Fresh n’ Lean, the country’s largest organic pre-prepped meal delivery company, began in 2010 when I was 18 years old.

The early years were the hardest. I consistently worked 20-hour days, tackling any task that was required, including cooking meals, washing dishes and customer service.

There were other challenges, too. I’d be sitting in meetings with older men, and they’d ask me my age (I’d feel compelled to lie and say I was 27). Or they would direct questions to my male colleagues instead of me.

People would question my decisions or my tone or my voice or my demeanor or the way I dressed. Constructive feedback can be so valuable! But much of the feedback I received wasn’t constructive and came from a place of insecurity — people’s own issues working for a young, female leader. It took me years to block out the negativity. And I was so much happier when I did.

Here are some of the other lessons I’ve learned while running Fresh n’ Lean, takeaways for other women navigating the corporate culture to become strong leaders themselves.

Find your deeper calling.

I was inspired to start Fresh n’ Lean after my father faced a life-threatening health battle. He was eating for convenience, so his diet was full of heavily processed foods. He recovered after shifting his eating habits to nutrient-rich, organic meals. His journey motivated me to find a balance between nourishment and convenience — and to help busy people lead healthier lives.

Breathe!

It’s stressful being a boss — you’re inevitably going to encounter difficult situations.

But instead of showing how overwhelmed you are, make sure to keep your emotions in check. Employees will look to you for guidance and stability, and if you’re visibly stressed, everyone else is going to be stressed, too. Be the steady presence guiding the team forward.

Be patient.

As a boss, it’s natural to want to make changes. But how will those changes impact your company’s day-to-day operations?

You may need to wait months — or even years — before your staffing, workflow or facilities changes are implemented. That was the scenario we faced when building our own kitchen and manufacturing area, a goal that had been in the works for a long time. Since Fresh n’ Lean didn’t rely on outside capital, we had to be pragmatic about growth opportunities and only moved forward when the timing was right.

It was so meaningful to fulfill that dream, and I’m glad we didn’t rush the process.

Trust your employees and empower them.

Believing in your employees and giving them opportunities to succeed will give them — and the team — a better chance of reaching full potential.

Too many people second-guess themselves, afraid to fail or worried about taking risks.

Employees should trust their judgment and follow their instincts. That culture of trust begins with the boss.

Lift up other women.

Women too often try to tear each other down in workplace settings instead of building each other up.
Look for growth opportunities for women, and empower younger women to be entrepreneurs and leaders. Go out of your way to showcase their talent. And help them recognize the leader within.

Don’t let the naysayers get to you.

As a strong female leader, it’s frustrating to face labels. Difficult. Loud. Moody. A man can act the same way and it’s celebrated. He’s passionate.

But don’t feel like you need to compromise your leadership style in order to get your point across.

If I’m in a meeting, I’ll often sit quietly and observe and wait for the right moment to speak up. Being the loudest person in the room doesn’t make you the most powerful. You’ll find the right moment, and the right way, to ensure that your voice is heard.


About the Author
StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Laureen AsseoLaureen Asseo is only 27-years-old, yet she has become a pioneer in leading the nation’s organic food craze. She’s the CEO and founder of LA-based Fresh n’ Lean, the largest nationwide organic meal delivery service in the country. It’s her mission to make eating organic easy, affordable and accessible – reclaiming the phrase “fast food”. She was inspired by her father’s ailing health due to his eating habits, and started the company from her one bedroom apartment.

Leaders: Stop Standing in the Way

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership Strategy|Leaders: Stop Standing in the WayCollege graduates often get the same career advice: be yourself, disrupt the status quo. Meanwhile, their future employers cling to status quo by putting people in boxes and telling them what to do, in the name of efficiency or team cohesion.

People are frustrated and exhausted, not from overwork but from a particularly demoralizing kind of “underwork.” They’ve got skills, ideas and talents that they want to use but can’t, because to do so would disrupt everyone who finds comfort in the status quo.

Most organizations and leaders say they want to empower people to contribute at their fullest capacity. But most leaders are never taught how to do that.

We’re stuck in the age of standardization – an age when organizations didn’t see the need to value one’s individuality or personal perspectives.

But as a society, we are more diverse than ever. We are more informed than ever. We are aware of and proud of our individuality. We’ve entered the age of personalization, but our leadership strategies have not caught up.

If we don’t interrupt ourselves the cycle will continue.

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | Leaders: Stop Standing in the WayStop emphasizing conformity.

People feel boxed in because they are boxed in. In our workplaces we have fooled ourselves into thinking we have welcomed diversity of thought (a phrase we love to throw around) – when in actuality we have built shrines to conformity. We hire people who think just like we do, and we reward and promote people only when they meet the standards set by someone else.

Does your organization have a system for training leaders to identify individual capability when hiring or forming teams, so that everyone can look beyond experience and education as the only indicators of potential and invite new thinking into the mix? Inclusion is an action that constructively interrupts the process of always seeking more of what’s familiar.

Stop hiring for ‘the right fit.’

That’s code for you need to be just like everyone else. Your individuality is not welcome here.

Sure, most people want someone who is easy to get along with, in the name of productivity. They want someone who is easy to work alongside, in the name of efficiency. They want someone who is easy to like, in the name of team cohesion. Those are all great things for a team to achieve.

But too often productivity, efficiency and cohesion become the goals themselves, and the pursuit of those gets in the way of the original objective – which might be better served by a wider range of personalities and working styles.

It’s easier to be with and work with people who are similar to us. But if we really want to expand the capacity of our teams and our people, we have to interrupt our preference for ease and invite the discomfort of working closely with people who think differently.

Gear up.

If you threaten the status quo, the status quo fights back. Hard. People who have made the rules and benefitted from those rules are not happy when those rules change – even if that change is good and necessary and just.

Most organizations operate in a certain way: follow this path, get this experience, demonstrate these skills, move up the ladder rung by rung. A subset of people have benefitted from this system the way it is, but they don’t see the system at work because they’ve never bumped up against it. When that system changes, they lash out.

But disrupting the status quo is worth it.

Leaders everywhere tell me they have felt restricted their entire professional lives, and they want to be free to be who they are and empower others to contribute at the highest levels of their individual capacity.

This is where to start.


About the Author
StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Glenn LlopisGlenn Llopis is a Cuban-American entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker and senior advisor to fortune 500 companies and organizations in healthcare, financial, consumer packaged goods and beyond.

5 Leadership Traits You Didn’t Need 50 Years Ago

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership|5 Leadership Traits You Didn’t Need 50 Years AgoThe role of a leader is always evolving, so it makes sense that the traits of a modern-day leader may be different from the leaders of half a century ago.

Of course, some traits have remained pretty consistent throughout the years, such as being a role model and having strong communication skills.

The following are some of the leadership traits that are important now that might not have been in the past.

1. An Ear for Employees

Perhaps one of the most drastic differences between modern-day leaders and leaders from the past is that today’s leaders are interested in what employees want and need.

50 years ago, managers simply had to be charismatic enough to bark orders at their employees to get the job done.
The goal was always to satisfy the company’s owner without paying too much attention to the employees. Leaders weren’t too interested in complaints, concerns, and feedback from their employees. That kind of leader will not work with today’s empowered workforce and may even be counterproductive.

Today’s managers encourage employees to express their points of view and discuss or bring up tough issues.
Leaders in the past would not talk about mistakes, but today’s managers are expected to highlight mistakes along with employees so that everyone can learn from them.

2. Ability to Change

CEOs, managers, and any other type of leader of today cannot be the kind of person who sticks to what works but rather a person who can change at a moment’s notice. The reason today’s authority figures cannot stay stagnant deals with the nature of modern-day business.

The internet has been creating all sorts of changes that affect business almost at lightning speed. A new internet-based concept could cause a chain of events that could break a company that refuses to change with the times.

Take video streaming, which basically has defeated regular DVD rentals and is taking a serious bite out of the entire movie-making business. Leaders in the past were taught not to rock the boat too much because it could disrupt a well-oiled machine, but that kind of leadership could sink companies today.

3. A Reflective Spirit

Another thing that is unique about today’s authority figures is their ability to be reflective. This sense of self-awareness is unique to modern-day leaders, and it helps them improve their leadership skills and work on weaknesses.

This skill also allows modern-day directors to hire employees that will actually complement them by looking for individuals that are strong where they are weak.

Leaders from the past were not too concerned about finding individuals who might help them become better because that kind of collaboration simply did not exist back then.

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership|5 Leadership Traits You Didn’t Need 50 Years Ago4. Aware of the People’s Heart

Generation X and Y employees are a different kind of workforce. These individuals know how important they are to companies and use that as leverage to get what they want.

This workforce does not mind jumping from job to job and a workforce that values experience more than pay.
A leader from the past might just alienate today’s employees so much that it might be hard to fill certain positions.

This is the reason contemporary authority figures need to be able to keep employees happy by listening to them and finding ways to create a good corporate culture.

Company culture actually helps keep employees in their positions and helps employees feel more invested in their positions, which increases productivity.

One way modern leaders do this is by rewarding the entire team instead of individual efforts, which makes employees collaborate better rather than compete with each other.

5. A Focus on Diversity

Another trait that is quite important for modern overseers is the ability to connect with all sorts of workers. The new age workforce is filled with all sorts of people as the country continues to become more diverse.

Being sensitive to all the cultural differences is important in order to make individuals feel welcomed and to respect other people’s customs. This is a trait that simply was not too important in the past.

Yesterday’s authority figures barely communicated with their workforce; the only thing that was important was getting the job done.

Leaders back in the day could have been offensive, yet they might have still been valued by their employers.
Well, new age authority figures definitely need to be more sensitive because failing to do so could not only alienate employees but could also put the company at risk of lawsuits.