StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article

Strong Leadership Is the Foundation of Any Successful Business Strategy

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership ArticleWhile your company may have a think tank of brilliant strategists devising new inroads into your market, what you will soon learn is that any strategy is doomed to fail if it isn’t executed as brilliantly as it was conceived. It is at the point of execution that most strategies begin to fall apart, and a huge part of the problem is a lack of strong leadership. If you have sat by while strategy after strategy failed to hit the mark, perhaps you failed to recognize the importance of leadership training.

Do you have strong leaders in key areas within your organization? If not, it’s time you invested in your key players to raise up a leadership team by department. This is where you can see the benefits of several leadership courses that will offer a bigger return on your investment than you can imagine. Don’t let another strategy fall by the wayside when it may only be a matter of giving your team leaders the training they need.

Great Managers Are Not Always Strong Leaders

One of the problems which many corporations encounter is in thinking that great managers are also strong leaders. Actually, the two are not always synonymous. A manager is able to deliver results but isn’t always going to offer any major breakthroughs other than an occasional new product line or finding a new market.

A great manager will also be effective at reducing production costs, but they aren’t necessarily strong leaders. Leaders, on the other hand, are able to drive strong performance at all levels of the operation and that is what fuels a strategy forward – performance. Bear in mind that great managers are not always strong leaders and every company should have a good assortment of both.

Leaders Are Needed at All Levels

Another key area which is often misunderstood is that leaders don’t reside only at the top of the corporate hierarchy. Strong leaders are needed at all levels of an operation because each level is a link in the chain. In fact, any company should have approximately 5 percent of their employees in leadership positions. These are the key players that will drive performance upwards and onwards to bring strategies to fruition.

This is why you are apt to hear so much emphasis being given to appointing team leaders. These are the key people who are able to motivate their teams. Why settle for team building exercises and events if they return to their posts without a strong leader to guide them ever forward? It makes more sense to budget some of that money towards professional leadership training courses once you’ve identified your employees with the potential to be strong leaders.

Who Are These Future Leaders and How Can You Identify Them?

A big part of the problem in trying to identify future leaders is that management tends to look at performance rather than potential. While past and current performance are, indeed, an important factor, there is much more to leadership potential than historical data. The first thing to be accomplished is to define specific roles your company needs leaders to fill. Then you can begin matching skills and personality traits to those roles.

Assessing leadership potential should always be focused on the future and whether the individuals you are rating have the ability to execute strategies within each predefined role during the assessment period. It is suggested that you use an assortment of personality assessments, questionnaires, and simulations which can help you replicate a variety of scenarios a leader might be confronted with on the job.

Coaching Skills Are a Top Priority

In her book, Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others, Cheryl Bachelder says that coaching is one of the most important competencies for today’s leaders. Since Millennials are looking to leaders who are able to coach them along to success, this is a skill which every leader should exhibit. As the CEO of American chain restaurant, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, Bachelder found that today’s leaders are often looked to as mentors.

Is there anyone in your company not already in a leadership role that other employees seem to seek out for advice or help when needed? These are often the people with the inherent coaching skills who can benefit from leadership training. These are the ones you will surely want to assess going forward for leadership potential and will offer a high ROI on the cost of training them for their future roles as leaders.

In-House Talent Is Where Your Search Should Begin

Another of the major problems many companies face is employee retention. This is one area you should take the time to analyze. Sort through your HR records to find those employees who have been with the company for any length of time and exhibit a high level of loyalty in keeping with the company’s mission.

Not only is it cheaper and more cost effective to train in-house personnel for leadership positions, but they have already proven to be valuable company ‘lifers.’ These are the leaders who believe in what it is you are doing and are willing to bring others along with them. Leaders need to be loyal to the company’s goals.

Interview Anyone Who Has Worked Closely with Your Potentials

As you begin to identify those employees who you believe have the potential to be trained as leaders, it’s always a good idea to see what others say about them. This is the time when you speak with present and past team leaders, bosses, managers and directors who have had direct contact with your prospective leaders. Also, talk to their peers who have worked side-by-side with them over a period of time. You are looking for honest input from those who know them best.

Give Them an Opportunity to Expand

One of the ways in which many of the major corporations assess potential leaders is to give them the chance to prove themselves on the job. These possible leadership candidates are rotated through various departments and jobs within the company.

Not only can you see how quickly each person adapts to new roles and tasks, but you are also giving them a better background into the corporate machine. Few departments really understand what it is that a company does as a whole, and since they are only one cog in the wheel, it pays to show them other cogs in a well-oiled machine. This can be huge in driving them forward as future leaders.

Seeing Leadership Training as an Investment in Your Company’s Future

In the end, it is surprising just how many companies out there have all the talent they need to raise up a team of leaders from within their own walls yet fail to see it. Altogether too many seek outside talent who may be better educated but don’t have what it takes to step into leadership roles in line with the company’s vision.

Many of these new recruits will leave within the first few years while there are key people from within who could easily step into leadership roles with a series of leadership training courses. If you are seeking to grow your company beyond your current capabilities, you might look in the direction of investing in leaders from within. They are there. Isn’t it time you sought them out?

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Quote

Leadership Inspirations – The Buck Stops with the CEO

StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Quote“Don’t blame the marketing department. The buck stops with the chief executive.”

John D. Rockefeller (1839 – 1937)
Industrialist and Founder of the Standard Oil Company

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article

6 Common Leadership Mistakes in Business

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article

Running a business requires a certain skill set. Whether you are a CEO of a major corporation or a manager at a store, you need to have leadership skills, and you need to know how to use them. Even if you have these skills, you might find that you fall prey to common mistakes that leaders in business environments often make. If you want to be an effective leader, it is important that you be aware of common pitfalls and avoid small mistakes that can undermine your authority. The following are six examples of errors that can derail you.

In addition to avoiding common mistakes, focus on fostering the qualities that make leaders effective. Work on fostering trust and loyalty in the workplace between yourself and your employees. Prioritize transparency and accountability at all levels of your staff. These ideals—in addition to awareness of the following common missteps—will make your leadership endeavors much more successful.

Trying to Be a Friend

It’s a common debate whether an employee can truly be friends with their boss. When you come to work and enjoy the company of your staff, that might seem like a friendship, but the power imbalance created by your role as a leader makes it a little bit more complicated. Regardless of whether bosses and staff can be friends, this should never be your motive when you come into work. Do not approach your employees as potential friends and social buddies. Approach them as your professional colleagues and collaborators. This can help you avoid any emotional complication and blurred boundaries.

Playing Favorites

Playing favorites is yet another dangerous endeavor that too many leaders mistakenly engage in at work. Of course, it is only natural that you will have a better relationship with those employees who exhibit better performance and are productive employees. To make a professional preference known, however, only serves to demoralize the rest of your employees. If you want your whole team to succeed, make it known that you value them all equally. Do not give any preferential treatment to a single staff member. Doing so will only cause strife and frustration throughout the workplace.

Lacking a Major Strategy

The day-to-day minutia of running a business can be overwhelming, and it may feel as though putting out little fires prevents you from focusing on any major strategy. If you do not center your efforts strategically, though, you cannot expect to get much accomplished. It is vital that you develop a specific approach to your leadership responsibilities and maintain that focus throughout your work. This is the approach that professionals such as Don Gayhardt have built successful businesses with. Rather than getting caught up in little issues, focus on the big picture with a professional strategy.

Lack of Direction

It is important to be very clear with your employees regarding what is expected of them and how they should complete their job. If you develop a definitive strategy for your work but do not impart this strategy to your staff, it is essentially useless. As a leader, you should always be directing and leading the rest of your company to ensure everybody is on the same page and working towards the same goals. To this end, schedule daily or weekly meetings to establish goals for all staff members. This eliminates ambiguity regarding responsibility and ensures everybody is treated equally.

Setting Unclear Standards

Professionals such as Don Gayhardt have excelled in business for more reasons that one. Perhaps the biggest catalyst, though, is a set of consistent leadership principles that guide business actions and decisions. One of the most important leadership principles is the responsibility you have to maintain clear standards for your employees. There should be no ambiguity when it comes to what you expect from your staff and how they should be performing in the workplace. If there are questions, you should always make yourself available to answer them and provide professional clarity to your employees.

Delegating Too Much or Too Little

Delegating is one of the most basic tasks leaders must engage in. You cannot possibly do everything you are responsible for, and that is why you have a team of capable professionals to help and report back to you. Too many business leaders, though, make the mistake of either delegating too much or too little—and these are equally problematic offenses. If you put off all of your responsibilities on staff, they will notice and become resentful. On the other hand, if you hesitate to share responsibilities, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work.

No leader is perfect, but there are some essential principles you can follow to become better. More importantly, you can avoid common mistakes and pitfalls to ensure that you are not sabotaging yourself with simple errors. Familiarizing yourself with the aforementioned six common mistakes is a good place to start in your pursuit of effective leadership techniques.

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article

An Important Leadership Lesson

The need to effectively manage others becomes increasingly important as our businesses start to blossom, yet it’s often difficult to balance your position as leader, teacher and every other hat you have to wear as an entrepreneur.

Indeed, some business owners consider undertaking an online masters of education in order to feel confident and competent enough to train their staff and lead their team by equipping them with the right knowledge and strategy to go out and deliver, yet this often isn’t necessary.

This article offers two important leadership lessons for small business owners, and encourages you to quickly learn new employees motivational style in order to manage them effectively.

1. BE THE BOSS

There is of course a fine line between being a leader and being a dictator.  It’s important to remember that whilst you are the leader of the company your role is more that of a director, in that it is directional rather than dictatorial.

Nobody likes being dictated to, and few people actually enjoy or respond well to being directed unless they have complete confidence in your decisions and leadership skills.  It can therefore be a psychological minefield to get this balancing act right.

The best approach is to remember that you are the captain of the ship, and that captain’s unapologetically give orders to their crew.  Now, in a business context, it’s of course much more important to be civil and respectful, than the captain of a ship, but it’s equally important you take the wheel and lead this project to its final destination.

2.  USE THE TWIN FORCES OF MOTIVATION

You may have heard of the metaphor with regard to the carrot and the stick which describes the polar forces of motivation theory.

In psychology there are two broad groups of people; they are known as “toward” and “away from” people.  This means that some people prioritise moving toward pleasure whilst others prioritise getting away from pain.  Of course, most people have a mixture of both, but there is normally one predominant force that motivates a person to take action.

The person that is motivated toward pleasure tends to be the more committed and advancement focused employee, whereas the person motivated away from pain, tends to be the type of person that will do what it takes to keep their job and not all that much more.

You want to get to know your team and see what motivates each team member; is it the possibility of praise and reward or is it the fear of loss, such as missing out on a staff incentive or even losing their job?

By applying both of these psychological forces, in your leadership style means you will be able to manage most people effectively.

The carrot could, for instance, be a cash incentive, public recognition, or simply some one-to-one verbal praise for doing a good job.  The stick, meanwhile, could be the fear of dismissal or having a penalty imposed such as having to stay late at the office in order to get things finished.

If you think back to school, there were gold stars (to acknowledge good behaviour) and detentions (to acknowledge bad behaviour).  Some people would be motivated toward getting a gold star whilst others would be motivated by staying out of trouble.  The same remains true in modern business leadership.

Getting On The Right Side Of The Team

A business is more than the brand or the products and services it sells. The business is also the people who make it and the company culture that forms as a result of their interactions, their cooperation or lack thereof. A business owner who gets on the wrong side of their team might still have the power in the relationship, but they can risk the future of the company by failing to use it responsibly.

Build a better environment

The physical workplace is just as much of an asset, too. The value of that asset is in creating a safe, comfortable, and motivating space for you and the team. By focusing too much on cost-effectiveness in designing your space, you can miss out on both the practical and mental needs that it needs to fulfill. Updating the surroundings, improving lighting, creating workspaces that allow for communication, and implementing access for employees with disability all create a much more positive office space.

Lead by example

You want your employees to be good members of the team, but to improve your chances of getting that, you need to be a good team member, too. For instance, you want employees to take responsibility for their successes and failures, so it starts with you. When a project fails, don’t pass the buck because it’s convenient. Similarly, don’t be afraid to hold others accountable without turning it into a public haranguing. By demonstrating the qualities you want to see in your employees, they are more likely to follow suit.

Ensure their concerns are addressed

Things don’t always go well in the workplace. Arguments, harassment and bullying do happen and are concerns you should be mindful of. Create a set of HR standards and practices with the help of lawyers that deal with employment issues. Ensure that your company policies are up to scratch and that your team has channels by which they can safely report toxic behavior in the workplace.

Develop your team

You want more than just a labor force. You want people who are willing to invest energy, thought, and creativity into the business. But if you’re not investing in them, why should they return the favor? The easiest way to invest in your team is to help develop them. Give them opportunities to try new responsibilities, offer training for them, and even consider setting up a mentorship program within the business.

Encourage and accept feedback

Just like you must be able to accept reports on harassment and other unacceptable behavior, you should be willing to accept feedback from the team, as well. Create feedback loops that allow employees to share their criticism of processes and standards, not just team members or personal interactions. You can encourage it by setting specific agendas for the team meeting taking a closer look at different aspects of the business.

Your people are your most valuable asset when used right and to use them right, you have to treat them right. Create a positive workplace culture and watch as motivation, engagement, and productivity soar.