Why Great Leaders Value Reputation Before Revenue

How to Put Principles Into Practice

Reputation

In 1996, I walked away from my first million-dollar client. Anyone looking at my company’s profit and loss statements would have questioned my sanity.

We were less than a year old at the time, and this was by far our highest-profile customer. I made this seemingly crazy decision because I value my company’s reputation over its revenue.

Making Business Decisions

Many leaders rely on Excel spreadsheets to drive their decision-making. They think something is only worth doing if the numbers add up and the price is right. My company, on the other hand, uses a set of five core principles to gauge every business decision it makes:

  • Employees come first, always.
  • Work as a team; win as a team.
  • Reputation comes before revenue.
  • Commit to safety.
  • Make it happen!

Our big client didn’t share any of these values with us. Further, he was overly harsh with my team members and set unrealistic expectations. Our weekly status meetings with him became sources of dread because it didn’t matter how well the previous week went; it was never good enough.

The entire office’s morale suffered, and I had to make a decision:

Do I put my principles first, or do I put my revenue first?

I quickly realized that if I put revenue first, there didn’t seem to be much of a point in having principles. If I sacrificed our core values in the name of profit, how could my team ever respect me or our values again?

The decision became easy — we walked away.

Money is Fleeting. Reputation is Forever

As leaders, we’re often tempted to compromise things — be it ethics, principles, or happiness — to maximize short-term profits. While compromise might immediately boost our portfolios, it doesn’t necessarily help build our reputations.

I’d argue that a company’s reputation is all that really matters, and having a good one is the only way to ensure long-term success. It’s the reason my company has so many great clients today, and it’s the reason they constantly refer new business to us.

This is a philosophy that was instilled in me during my youth in the Midwest. We had a folksier way to sum it up, though:

Pigs get fat, and hogs get slaughtered.”

Everyone has a right to a living, but greed yields guaranteed downfalls — and I’m not interested in being a hog.

Staying on Course

The benefits of this approach aren’t just lasting. By removing immediate profits as sole drivers of business decisions, you’ll no longer be tempted to veer your company off course to accommodate difficult clients with deep pockets. This will solidify your brand as a stable, upstanding, and moral institution — and that reputation alone will drive your growth today and tomorrow.

The great corporate scandals of the world (think Enron) typically involve companies that value short-term revenues over all other considerations. And what does that earn them? Bankruptcy, bad press, and prison time.

Putting Principles Into Practice

Having personal principles is one thing, but having company-wide shared principles that guide every level of decision-making — from the corner office to the reception desk — is something that requires practice, patience, and communication.

Here are a few tips to help you instill this reputation-centric mindset into your company:

  • Provide mentorship and coaching. Look for opportunities to mentor, coach, and train your employees to make sure they have clear understandings of your company’s core values. Show them what it looks like, and feels like, to do the best quality work in your industry while maximizing your company’s reputation.
  • Ask great questions. There’s a management style called “inspect what you expect” that involves asking your employees quality questions to ensure the things you want completed are, in fact, being completed. It’s a low-impact form of oversight that’s more trusting and less stressful than full-on micromanagement — and it will help you determine what’s going on outside the walls of your office.
  • Align expectations. Meet with every employee and client to make sure they understand what your company is all about and how you got to where you are. Also provide them with a list of your core values, as well as specific examples of those values in action. This will give everyone a clear understanding of what to expect, and it will also show employees how to exceed expectations.
  • Make happiness your success metric. Don’t look at your bottom line to assess whether your company had a good year. Instead, look at the quality of your work, the happiness of your employees, the contentment of your clients, and the state of your recurring

Don’t let that one difficult, deep-pocketed client turn your business into something it isn’t. If you stay true to the values near and dear to your heart, the right clients will find you.

So, do you have a client or supplier that has dramatically different values than your organization? If so, would you give them up despite the cost to save your reputation? How important is your reputation you? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Steve Randazzo is the founder and president of Pro Motion Inc
He builds deep emotional connections with consumers to create lifelong relationships
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Employee Development: Who Should Take Responsibility?

Training Development

Having been on both sides of the manager-employee equation, I sometimes wonder who should take responsibility of an employee’s growth and development.

This because I am a firm believer of self-awareness and constant growth of an individual.

Finding the Way

The process of identifying a development area and then working on it is now ingrained in me and I consciously work on it. However, some aspects of an individual are harder to identify and work on, than others. Some habits if not identified and worked on in the nascent stage can become an annoying trait.

These annoying traits can come back to bite an individual in the most crucial times.

I believe that in addition to an employee taking responsibility for their growth, managers should also take the time to give timely and appropriate feedback.

On Strengths and Weaknesses

Of all of my personality traits I have worked on over the years, some were easily identifiable by me. However, there were a couple of weaknesses that if not pointed out by my manager, I would never have identified the root cause and possibly never worked on them.

From my experience, each and every aspect of an individual can be worked on by carefully identifying the root of the problem and then coming up with appropriate steps to correct it. Having an understanding mentor or coach is the key to this process especially for those problems that are harder to work on.

Sometimes a couple of different solutions may have to be tried before one can completely fix a problem but the key is to keep trying.

Performance Reviews

What I have often seen is that most managers (if not all) dread when the time comes to giving performance evaluations to their employees.

This begs the question why?

  • Evaluating an employee’s performance should not be such a fearful process.
  • After all aren’t managers are also supposed to be coaches for their direct reports?
  • Isn’t annual review the time for employee growth and development?
  • Shouldn’t performance evaluation be the time where managers can be proud of their coaching skills?

Well, there is only one explanation of why this happens. These managers don’t give direct feedback to the employees all-year-round and wait for the yearly performance evaluation cycle. Some companies conduct mid-year evaluations. Even if companies don’t mandate a mid-year performance evaluation, managers should make it a habit to give feedback to their employees throughout the course of the working year.

Be Wise, No Surprise

Another important aspect of the review process is that any feedback should not come as a surprise to the employee at the performance evaluation time. If the feedback is a surprise, it would certainly make the process difficult and dreadful.

Coaching employees is one of the most rewarding skills for a manager and they should make it work to everyone’s advantage.

I would urge all managers to not let any annoying habit fester in an employee. Help them identify the root cause and work with them to correct it. It is quite possible that they may not be fully aware of the issue and simply need an empathetic guidance.

So how are you doing at identifying your personal and professional needs for growth? And better yet, how well are you doing this same thing for the people that you lead? What can you start doing TODAY to provide the helpful feedback your people need to help them learn, grow, and develop better performance? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Aditi Chopra
Aditi Chopra is an experienced leader in the software industry
She is a consultant, writer and a leader
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Imaginary Leadership (Part 2 of 2)

Ending the Persecution of People, Productivity and Profit

Empty Suit

Many leaders may be imaginary, but the pain, problems and privation they cause to people, productivity and profit are all too real!

In part one of the two-part series, I compared the profile of Imaginary Leaders to that of Real Leaders—a distinction with a profound difference—and introduced what I consider to be the top three practices of Imaginary Leaders:

  • The persecution of people by proxy
  • The persecution of productivity by process
  • The persecution of profit by policy

Now I want to spend some time breaking these down a bit, so they’ll be easier to spot for Real Leaders and those who endeavor to make the transformation to Real Leadership.

Persecution of People by Proxy

A “proxy” has the authority or power to act as a substitute and, in this case, it is the Imaginary Leader playing the part. It could also be the Manager who confuses his roles and supplants Real Leadership with Managership. In either case, the persecution of people occurs when their:

Personal strategies related to aspirations and conduct

Interpersonal strategies related to one-on-one interactions with others

And organizational strategies related to using systems, structures and resources to influence the thinking, behavior and performance of others actually promote a defensive/unadaptive operating culture.

Punishing Pratices

I’ve written elsewhere about these types of unhealthy cultures and the damaging effects they have, so I won’t go into detail here other than to reinforce the idea that they devastate people through the Leadership-Culture-Performance Connection.

Below are a few of the more popular punishing practices that emerge in a cause-effect layout, along some ideas on alternatives for your consideration:

Personal

  • Withholding information from someone who could learn, change and grow from it or could actually fix/ improve the system as a result of having it.
    • Effect: “An individual without information can’t take responsibility. An individual with information can’t help but take responsibility.” – Jan Carlzon
    • Alternative: Follow Meg Wheatley’s advice in Leadership and the New Science: “…create much freer access to it….everybody needs information to do their work….it is no wonder that employees site poor communication as one of their greatest problems. People know it is critical to their ability to do good work. They know when they are starving.”

Interpersonal

  • Using fear to manipulate performance (e.g., annual performance/ merit review, management by numbers/ objectives, as well as outright threats, intimidation, bullying, etc.) or allowing fear to be propagated by others.
    • Effect: Personally, fear is an extremely limiting emotion. According to Dwoskin in The Sedona Method (Chapter 3), it is just above Apathy and Grief in the hierarchy of suppressed emotions, limiting our energy to the point it is mostly painful. Organizationally, it creates loss from “…an inability to serve the best interests of the company through necessity to satisfy specified rules, or…a quota” and “…where there is fear, there will be wrong figures.” – Deming, Out of the Crisis (Chapter 8).
    • Alternative: Deming suggests driving out fear (Point # 8 of 14, Chapter 2) through embracing new knowledge—to discover by calculation whether performance deviations are out of control with respect to other conditions—for improving the system and also eliminating annual performance appraisals/ merit reviews (Deadly Disease #3, Chapter 3).

Organizational

  • Applying extrinsic motivators, otherwise known as reward and reprimand or “carrots and sticks.”
    • Effect: Destroys intrinsic motivation and any value in the work itself, as well as pride and joy in workmanship.
    • Alternative: Commit to removing the demotivators (e.g., micro-managing the down-line, telling them that their “job is to make you look good” and holding them accountable for things they can’t control) and barriers to successful work that exist. Use the Deming/ Scholtes-style of MBWA—not just walking around, but knowing what questions to ask and stopping long enough to talk to the right people and get the right answers (e.g., Genchi Genbutsu or Gemba)—as a strategy for finding out what those demotivators are. This “go and see at the real place” approach will provide feedback from the voice of the customer (i.e., the employees) and the voice of the system (i.e., the process) that will invariably require something the leader must work on improving, whether related to him/her self or the system.

Stop and ask yourself this:

To what extent am I relying on these strategies as part of my personal leadership platform?”

Then yield to an awareness that produces learning, acceptance that produces change, action that produces growth and achievement that produces new levels of Real Leadership.

Persecution of Productivity by Process

The persecution of productivity (and I include quality and competitive position in my use of the term) occurs when Imaginary Leadership doesn’t understand the work that they or their down-line are responsible for and, as a result, can’t do much of anything to measure or improve performance.

Deming once quipped:

If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.”

He also said in The New Economics:

We should work on our process, not the outcome of our processes.”

The Heart of Quality

As Scholtes taught in principle number two of his six Principles at the Heart of Quality:

Leaders must understand their systems, processes and methods in terms of capability and variation. Data gathered on the variation of systems and processes over time will help leaders understand the characteristics of work performance in their organization.

When managers don’t understand the variation inherent in their systems and processes, they make themselves vulnerable to some serious problems:

  • They miss trends where there are trends.
  • They see trends where there are none.
  • They attribute to employees–individually or collectively–problems that are inherent in the system and that will continue regardless of which employees are doing the work.
  • They won’t understand past performance or be able to predict future performance.”

Understanding Process

But how many leaders today still don’t understand processes—not to mention the system; what Deming defined as “a network of interdependent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system—or, if they do, still focus more on process outcomes (results) than on the process (effort) itself?

This isn’t a hard question to answer. Just check to see how many of your current metrics are defined around outputs vs process or inputs. Better yet, just think about where you spend most of your time.

Is it truly on understanding characteristics of work performance like variation around materials, methods, equipment/ machinery built into the end-to-end process or on trying to improve certain outcomes of a sub-process (usually by focusing on the attentiveness, carefulness and speed of individual workers) that you know “the boss” is going to ask about?

Deming would again suggest that this invariably leads to optimizing the sub-system at the expense of the total overall system.

Persecution of Profit by Policy

This may seem harsh, but research and reality suggest that, as mission and operating philosophy (e.g., goals, strategies and policies) emerge as part of any organizations maturation and development process, ways of people relating to each other and their work are collated into a comprehensive framework of “the way to do things,” and much of that operating philosophy is not conducive to improving financial performance.

The persecution of profit occurs when Imaginary Leadership continues to deploy policies that constrain organizational value-creation for customers, whether related to innovation, quality/ service, speed or cost.

These include policies that are intended to govern/ control who, what, where, when, why, how and how much a company purchases in products/ services, attracts/ trains/ retains talent, measures/ improves performance, et al., and the outcomes typically effected include things like teamwork, turnover, earnings/ sales volatility and net profit after taxes (NPAT).

For what to do instead, I’ll simply refer the reader to an article on The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog by John Hunter: Nobody Gives a Hoot about Profit, which includes an incredible video with Dr. Russell Ackoff about Values, Leadership and Implementing the Deming Philosophy.

Ending the Practices of Persecution

It is not going to be easy, but it is worthwhile. It starts with changing your point of view and I’d refer the reader back to Continual Improvement (CI) in part one of the two-part series. This commitment to transformation must come from you, personally…there is nothing anyone else can do.

Personal transformation can’t occur without your permission. It is a choice, and herein lies a danger that both Deming and Drucker pointed out. It is not mandatory. No one has to change. Survival is, and always will be, optional.

Choose wisely!

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Richard Dillard

Richard S. Dillard is Founder/ Managing Partner at Dillard Partners, LLC
Pursuing Success at the Speed of Leadership!
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5 Ways Entrepreneurs Use Time Inefficiently

Stop Wasting Time

Becoming an entrepreneur is a dream that many people have. However, it is more difficult than many people on the outside understand.

There are a lot of different things that people who start their own business must do in order to succeed. Learning how to manage time efficiently is one of the most important aspect of owning your own business. Here are five ways that entrepreneurs use time inefficiently.

5 Ways Entrepreneurs Use Time Inefficiently

1) Urgent Issues

Many business owners spend all of their time on the urgent issues of the day. Although it may seem important, many issues that are faced are really more urgent than anything. Understanding this difference is a huge step forward for anyone who wants to improve their time management.

There are a lot of people who want to have more time during the day. If this is something that applies to you, start by concentrating on things that are important more than urgent. Over the long-term, this will make a huge difference in the amount of time you have to use on other aspects of your company.

2) Social Media

Another area that many people waste time in is social media. Many business owners understand that social media can be a great tool that drives in a lot of business. However, many people who own their own business get distracted in what they do on social media.

Instead of doing this, make sure that you set time limits in the amount of time that you spend on social media.

If you are a business owner, you do not have time to waste. If you want to take your business to the next level, this is an essential element of the time management process. There are many people who simply take breaks from social media for several weeks at a time. This may be something that applies in your situation.

3) Worrying About Minor Issues

Worrying about minor issues is something that many business owners deal with. Anyone who has the ambition to start their own business probably has a personality where they want to be perfect. However, worrying about minor issues detracts from other things that you could be working on.

Taking on a mindset that is more long-term is something that is essential.

Anyone who wants to start getting more done needs to quit worrying about minor issues in the business.

4) Not Enough Training

Many entrepreneurs feel as though they do not have enough time to train workers. However, when looking at this over the long-term, influence training is one of the most important aspects of running a business. No matter how talented an entrepreneur is, they need to have help in various areas of their life.

There are many people who are interested in training within various companies. Use the talents of people who are naturally inclined to train other people in order to ensure maximum effectiveness.

5) Valuing Money Over Time

There are many people who say they value time over money, but there are few people who actually practice it. Many entrepreneurs have a really bad habit of valuing their money over their time. Although this will lead to more money in the short-term, over the long-term it will decrease the effectiveness of your business.

There are many people who are unable to build companies that scale.

As a business owner, it is important to concentrate on the process that is going to be used in order to take your business to the next level. Instead of just running around trying to sell customers on your products and services, take some time to get above the issue and build systems that scale.

Although this will take time and energy in the short-term, over the long-term this will lead to more free time that you can use to concentrate on other areas of your business.

So, how many of these five time-wasters are you guilty of? What can you do to rearrange your thought patterns so that you can get out of these type of traps? Do you see other areas in your business that could be changed to be more efficient? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Dennis Hung

Dennis Hung is a Business Consultant specializing in Mobile Technology and IoT
He’s spent most of his career consulting for businesses in North America
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Imaginary Leadership (Part 1 of 2)

Ending the Persecution of People, Productivity and Profit

Imaginary Leader

Have you ever met an Imaginary Leader or experienced the displeasure of working for one?

Unfortunately, it is altogether likely that you have, and it is a foregone conclusion that you didn’t like it.”

It also follows naturally that the group/ company suffered as a result. The reality is, there are a lot of Imaginary Leaders (defined below)…many occupying positions of authority, but all wreaking havoc on people, productivity, and profits.

Punishing Practices

Perhaps you can relate to one of the following based on your experience with leaders in your professional walk:

  • The persecution of people by proxy
  • The persecution of productivity by process
  • The persecution of profit by policy

There may be others, but these are the top 3 punishing practices of Imaginary Leaders that I’ve identified over the past 31 years. In contrast, these are practices that Real Leaders avoid. Not only that, they make a habit of identifying where and when they occur and go out of their way to stop them, every chance they get.

Imitating the Imaginary or Getting Real

Today, Imaginary Leaders not only abound, they continue to grow; mostly because future leaders tend to lead how they were led and since many have served, and been promoted, under Imaginary Leaders…well, you get the point. I should clarify, however, that while their leadership is imaginary the problems (e.g., negative impact/ results) are very real and should be stopped.

But before we can identify and bring an end to these punishing practices, we need to understand a little more about who we’re talking about and the proximate causes that create the persecuting effects.

Two Leadership Profiles

Following is a basic profile of both Imaginary and Real Leaders.

Imaginary leaders are Leaders-in-Position—entitled by promotion to a position (granted by someone higher in the organizational structure).

The Leaders-in-Position is characterized by one or more of the following:

  • Exert mostly positional power (i.e., legitimate, coercive, reward) and often abuse it
  • Have “direct” reports, but only imagine they are being followed
  • Followership is “voluntold” (not voluntary) and motivated by fear, desperation
  • Use authority as the principal source of social, political and professional influence
  • Employ more restrictive than prescriptive leadership strategies
  • Fix the blame when things go wrong
  • Place a primary, if not exclusive, focus on short-term results (and behaviors/ attitudes)

Real Leaders, however, are Leaders-in-Person—earned by appointment to a provisional role (regardless of position, ‘Leader’ becomes a title given by those who choose to follow, regardless of where they are in the organizational hierarchy).

The Leaders-in-Person is associated with the following characteristics:

  • Rely mostly on personal power (i.e., expert, referent, informational) and use positional power judiciously
  • May or may not have direct reports, but actually garner a large following
  • Followership is voluntary; motivated by respect, inspiration
  • Use authenticity as the principal source of social, political and professional influence
  • Employ more prescriptive than restrictive leadership strategies
  • Fix the system when things go wrong
  • Place a primary, but not exclusive, focus on long term results (and effort/ thinking):

Let me add that every leader has a choice to make here; whether our leadership will imitate the imaginary or get real. So before moving on, I want to challenge you to stop for a few minutes and perform a quick self-evaluation against these two distinct leadership profiles.

How have you been led? Where do you fall?”

What “Lies” Behind the Cause

Hidden safely behind the proximate cause(s) are a host of assumptions and theories that undergird and support this contrast. But for the sake of time and space—running the risk of oversimplifying—it can be reduced to basic differences in the following equations when it comes to the performance of people, productivity, and profit:

Command & Control Model

McGregor’s Theory X + Skinnerian Behaviorism + Taylor’s Scientific Management = Command & Control [CC]

Continual Improvement Model

McGregor’s Theory Y + Kohn’s Model for Motivation + Deming’s System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK)/ 14 Points = Continual Improvement [CI]

While generalizations are not always accurate, the following may help add some much-needed color inside the lines for better contrast:

I’ve embedded some links for further study, but what’s important to understand here is that these combined theories-in-use (i.e., CC and CI) are incompatible and irreconcilable.

A Situational Leadership Dilemma

It may be fanciful to suggest that situational leadership dictates which approach gets applied, but the reality is that this never happens.

Here are a couple of illustrations to support this point.

  • If you hold a CI frame of reference, you won’t ever need to adopt a CC approach to resolve performance problems related to people, process or profit, and the reasons are simple: (a) SoPK has already revealed to the Real Leader that 94% of the performance problems they will encounter are built into the system as a common cause of variation and they’ll seek to reduce variability around these causes in order to improve, and (b) the other 6% of the time that performance problems can be attributable to special causes, they’ll be able to constructively resolve without abandoning CI as there is simply nothing about the CC approach that is more helpful in these situations.
  • If you hold a CC frame of reference, you won’t ever choose to adopt a CI approach to resolve performance problems with people, process or profit. I’ve never seen this occur. In a crisis or performance problem situation, I’ve never seen an Imaginary Leader fix the system after already fixing the blame…NEVER! The reasons are equally simple: (a) they lack Profound Knowledge, so how could systems thinking, a knowledge of variation, the theory of knowledge, and psychology ever inform their actions, and (b) their theories-in-use have convinced them that the performance problem is effectively resolved once “accountability’ firmly fixed the blame, so there is nothing else to do.

The Practices of Persecution

Every leader will engage in certain practices when approaching others and their daily work as a natural consequence of the assumptions they make and the theories they adopt.

It is unavoidable in the thinking-knowing-doing-performing cycle.”

The problem is that, while all theories, by definition, are valid, some are simply more useful to leadership when it comes to improving individual, group and organizational performance.

Even though mounting evidence continues to suggest that the CI approach is based on more useful theories, CC is still extremely prevalent. Compounding the problem is the simple fact that an Imaginary Leader using CC can still get promoted, make more money, and experience all the trappings of success—at least in the short-term.

We see it all the time. Tragically, the longer a CC theoretical framework remains entrenched—both in Academia and in Business—the more likely it is that misattribution of success  (borrowed from Human Synergistics® International’s original defensive misattribution† description) will occur/ recur and the harder it becomes to abandon.

Misattribution of Success occurs when an Imaginary Leader actually begins to mistakenly attribute their success—at least from a short-term perspective and based on certain financial and business-process measures of merit—to CC (and the assumptions/ theories that support it) rather than to other internal factors like a defensive organizational culture (where CC flourishes) or substantial resources with minimal demands (where the group/ organization can succeed in spite of CC).

† Cooke, R.A. and Szumal, J.L., Handbook of Organizational Culture and Climate, pp. 152-159, Copyright © 2000 by Sage Publications.

This is why we find ourselves where we are today with Imaginary Leaders and the corresponding practices of persecution mentioned above, which you can read in greater detail here: Imaginary Leader (Part 2 of 2).

In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Richard Dillard

Richard S. Dillard is Founder/ Managing Partner at Dillard Partners, LLC
Pursuing Success at the Speed of Leadership!
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Leaders: Be a Mirror Unto Yourself

How to Create More Mental Space to Drive Success

Mindfulness

As leaders, we are encouraged to meet people. You know, network, get close to key influencers and difference makers. 

This makes sense. And I do believe a vast personal and professional network is important.”

However, I would suggest that in order to grow, the most important person you need to get familiar with is yourself. Self-knowledge can be transformational.

On Personal Mindfulness

My favorite place to hang out is in my head. I find it an interesting place to be. It can be funny, crazy and, every once in a while, heavy. I spend this time both formally and informally. I consider myself a student of my own mind and the thoughts that it produces.

Mindful MirrorI feel this is a great use of my time. I know there is a real benefit. I am more in tune to the way I will react in a given situation. I’ve recognized the things I meet head on and those from which I retreat.

I’ve learned that a thought is merely a passing cloud and not a real construct from which I must act. Most importantly, I have created space in my head.

I have learned how to catch myself in a thought, before acting on it. The side benefit of doing so is that I take myself far less seriously. I find the workings of my mind and the habits it churns out very funny. Being able to laugh at those captured thoughts has loosened the grip they could have on me.

On Powerful Routines

I have a daily meditation practice. I would encourage everyone to add this to their routine. To sit and watch your mind is far more entertaining than any reality TV show. When you realize that a thought, regardless of how visceral or powerful it may feel, is no more than a wave, rising and falling away, it can be truly liberating.

We you recognize that it is your choice whether or not to feed that thought with the energy needed for it to manifest, it is really powerful.

I find casual “mind time” in a myriad of ways. For example, while driving, walking or just sitting out back. It is my place of refuge, my sanctuary.

I go there when I need to step off of life’s merry-go-round.”

As an introvert, I sometimes retreat into the inner sanctum of my mind in large social settings when the cacophony of conversation becomes too much. Oddly, doing so has also helped me to recognize this behavior. I have become more mindful of this tendency and, therefore, less likely to just check out.

Your Mind’s Own Reflection

I believe that spending time, looking at your mind’s own reflection makes you a better giver of time to others. It helps you listen more fully. You are more aware of your habit driven reactions or those propelled by ego and insecurity.

You become more present, which is a wonderful gift to offer another.”

We are just so frequently not there, in that moment. It is something the receiver will undoubtedly notice.

I have been working on this for years. In terms of catching my thoughts before acting on them, my batting average is far lower than I care to admit. But, I understand that it is a practice because habit energy is hard to break. Creating space and slowing things down is difficult, yet, over time, I see it happening more and more frequently.

I emerge from the time spent inwardly able to more fully meet this moment outwardly. I am more present for those I interact with and a better giver of my time. By being a mirror unto myself, I’ve become more effective in my interactions with others and frankly, I like myself a bit more.

So how are you doing at being mindful with yourself? How could the right kind of “playing around in your mind” help you become a better person who can lead others better? What steps can you take now to settle into a mindful routine that helps you learn, grow, and become a better leader? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Elliot Begoun

Elliot Begoun is the Principal Consultant of The Intertwine Group, LLC.
He works with companies to Deliver Tools that Enable Growth
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+GROW | Website

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How Leadership Is Evolving In 2015 and Beyond

Millennials CollageAs the Millennial generation comes of age, there are changes happening in the workplace that are revealing just how Generation Y will leave their mark on society in the decades to come.

When it comes to the workplace environment it has becoming clear that factors like diversity and making sure everyone has a voice are crucially important to this new wave of employees.

But that’s not all.

Millennials are also looking for new styles of management to match their unique approach to the workplace. And with Millennials already overtaking Baby Boomers in prominence in the workforce, the winds of change are going to continue blowing for a long time.

Here are some of the environmental building blocks that management should be using in 2016.

Humility

It may sound strange to old-school management, but leadership in 2016 is no longer about creating an environment that caters to the rock stars within the company. Today’s Millennial workforce grew up on television shows like The Office, where faux-Type A leaders like Michael Scott and overeager disciplinarians like Dwight Schrute were mocked.

Meanwhile, the show’s characters gravitated naturally toward employees like Jim Halpert, with his easy-going confidence and a sense of low-key humility. Cultivating a similar mix of humility and confidence in your office can create a synergy and a collaborative spirit that will help lift productivity and keep your employees around longer.

Transparency

The days are long gone when management could keep a closed-door to employees and hide key information like expected salary range and how the company is performing financially.

Employees nowadays are smarter and have more potential mobility than ever before.

Sites like Glassdoor.com make it easy to compare salaries, both within a company and for similar positions in different companies. They can also reveal warts about a company’s leadership or divulge how the company is managing hiring and layoffs. And, frankly, with fewer benefits like pensions to keep employees around for life, generation Y is looking to know the companies they work for more intimately than ever before.

The company behind social media tool Buffer has set an incredible precedent for transparency, posting their salary formula for each and every position at the company as well as how each dollar a customer spends is used to fund the company. While I’m not saying you have to go quite that far, don’t hide the type of information that your employees need to know in order to decide whether they want to invest themselves in your company long-term.

Flexibility

With more and more companies adopting a more mobile workforce, questions that surround managers today include allowing employees to bring their own devices to work and whether or not they will require remote access through a VPN or the cloud when they are offsite.

In some organizations, the worksite has become more like the incubator office where employees can meet up when needed while working primarily offsite. Look for this trend to continue in 2016.

This idea was echoed by Kevin Brogan, VP at Meadows Casino.

He says this:

Whether it is a workflow or an end result giving your team the freedom to create more efficient ways of working has allowed the US to help bring back some jobs that were previously moved overseas.”

It also helps workers take advantage of their natural focus and energy ebbs and flows and cuts down on commute time, “getting ready” time, etc. It also incentivizes “staying in the zone” and working as efficiently as possible instead of pacing one’s self to make sure that everything takes exactly 8 hours to complete.

Putting your employees in control of their schedules tells them that they are responsible for getting results by any means necessary.

Empathy

In customer service, the maxim used to be: Feel, Felt, Found. It was a way of empathizing with the customer so that one could say, I know how you feel. I have been in that situation myself before, and here is how we can resolve this. Applying that to your employees in abbreviated form is an area of being a manager that should pay dividends in 2016 and beyond.

After years of being hit by ‘toughen your emotions for the war’ in the media, it is now okay to show your emotions and feelings about something.

Of course there is really no need to be maudlin, but showing that you are alive and empathetic will be appreciated.

2015 has been a pretty good year for business in the United States. Employment is up and management trends continue to emphasize a more humanist approach as a means of motivating and building productivity.

By correlating details of the environmental desires of your workforce with your management style, you can be in position in 2016 to reap the benefits.

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———————–
Tayven James

Tayven James is a Freelance Business and Tech Author
He focuses on Emerging Trends and the Marketing Methods behind their Success
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L2L Infographic: Emotional Intelligence and Your Career

Emotional intelligence helps us manage stress, it is vital for enhanced co-operation and teamwork, and it helps us to learn in relationships. Studies have found that 67% of all competencies deemed essential for high performance are related to emotional intelligence. Leaders who score higher in emotional intelligence are more likely to be highly profitable in business.

Emotional Intelligence and Your Career

Infographic Courtesy of Brighton School of Business and Management

 

How to Ensure Motivation Trickles From the Top Down

Water Trickle

Motivation is considered to be one of the most important contributing factors to high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction.

However, as illustrated below, motivation must start from the top in order to be most effective.

Executive Engagement

Research shows that the modern work environment has drastically changed. To illustrate, workplaces are more complex, markets are more volatile and younger generations are more demanding. Therefore, executives must carefully manage their company culture.

Industry icons, such as Apple’s Steve Jobs, were famous for their charismatic ability to inspire employees and customers alike to seek excellence and pursue their dreams. Consequently, executives must play a regular, proactive role in communicating with employees.

Visionary executives who non-invasive methods to appeal to their employee’s emotions will enjoy higher levels of teamwork, production and employee satisfaction. Thus, executives must make constructive motivation a top priority for management.

Motivation from Management

Research from Gallup clearly shows that managers influence almost 70 percent of critical business variables such as productivity, performance and profitability. Even more disheartening, approximately 70 percent of employees are not engaged at work.

This means that the majority of employers are disengaged and indifferent to their work.

Managers play a key role in determining employee engagement and satisfaction levels. Gallup’s research shows that accurate and meaningful communication is extremely important to employees. A healthy business relationship will include daily face-to-face communication, not randomly vague emails.

Clearly, executives must set the expectation that management will invest time and energy into daily interaction with their subordinates. This will identify and resolve many problems before they become serious issues.

Proper Performance Management

Members of upper management rarely receive formal performance reviews like regular employees. Therefore, they often fail to understand how annual performance reviews can affect an employee’s motivation and job satisfaction. Annual performance reviews can create intense emotional pressure and apprehension.

Managers tend to view performance reviews as just another task to complete.

However, performance reviews are an important opportunity to review progress, set goals and get excited about work. Executives should model engaging and productive performance reviews through formally meeting with management and helping them to set their own goals.

Nevertheless, performance reviews are of little worth without quarterly follow-ups with employees. Regularly meeting with employees will reinforce their commitment to growth and the company.

Data Analytics

Executives need factual data in order to better understand their employees. Fortunately, there are excellent ways to glean insightful data about employees. For example, HR software programs can create customized reports that detail important employee metrics.

First, there are financial reports such as:

  • Cost per hire
  • Turnover cost
  • Training investment
  • Recruiting cost ratios

Turnover costs equal the total amount accrued through separation, vacancy, replacement and training. High turnover and hiring costs can financially weaken a company because every hire may cost between five to 10 thousand dollars.

There are other important metrics, such as turnover, absence and vacancy rates. Turnover rates exemplify the state of employee engagement and satisfaction. Executives should consider also performing quarterly employee satisfaction surveys.

Public Perks

Executives should consider unique employee appreciation ideas. While they do not have to be expensive, perks are an excellent way for upper management to demonstrate their commitment to employees.

For instance, flexibility is an abstract concept that matters a lot to employees, who may be single-parents or returning to school. Management should embrace flexible scheduling as a way to motivate employees to increase efficiency and production.

Once employees understand that they are empowered to manage their workload, they will be more responsible and willing to go the extra mile.

Motivation is a deciding factor between high employee engagement and high turnover rates. In order to properly increase motivation, executives should use customized reports created through HR software.

So, how are you as a leader allowing your strengths in motivating your followers work to influence them to motivate others? What are some of the steps you can take today or tomorrow to step back from your daily routine and think about how you can better increase you motivation for others to follow? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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Leading in the Wrong Direction

Wrong Way

Leadership is a gift given. It comes from the belief of others, in you.

It should be viewed as an honor and a privilege.

With it comes a responsibility to use that influence to move people, organizations and society forward. But sadly, we have far too many leaders who are leading in the wrong direction. One need only to listen to the rhetoric emanating from the political campaigns to understand what the misuse of leadership influence sounds like.

I want to be clear that is not a political commentary, rather it is a leadership commentary.

On Responsible Leadership

There are fundamental requirements to responsible leadership. Leaders should help people reach beyond their fears. They need to inspire and bring diverse people together.

Leaders should enable others to see the potential that they were blind too. They should work to open eyes, minds and hearts. Had not JFK helped us to see and believe in the potential, would we have put a man on the moon?

Leading Through Fear

Turn on the news, read the paper and it will quickly become obvious that our leaders are not honoring their responsibility.

They are leading people into their fears.

Rather than helping them overcome them, they are encouraging them to build walls around those fears. They are serving to solidifying them, making them more real and concrete. These same leaders aren’t expanding our vision; they are narrowing it.

They aren’t facilitating our ability to envision our true potential. Instead, they are aiding our retreat. They aren’t bringing us together; they are dividing us. We aren’t celebrating diversity; we are running from it and I for one, am disgusted. We should be revoking their leadership cards!

Going the Wrong Direction

Our politicians are an almost satirical example of leadership in the wrong direction. We should, however, use them as a reminder. We ought to be looking at ourselves in the mirror and asking, “Am I leading in the right direction?”

Hopefully, your business challenges aren’t as frightening or as daunting as those that we face geopolitically. But, we do face fears, and it can be difficult to keep that future potential in sight. The same leadership risks exist, albeit on a slightly different scale.

A Brave Future

We should be looking to see if we are actually encouraging our organization to circle the wagons or, if in fact we are pushing through that which scares us. We must be painting a picture and connecting the dots so that everyone, including ourselves, sees and believes in that future state.

We want to be sure to bring people together, encouraging diversity of thought, of beliefs and personality. We need to be expanding horizons, making people feel better about what they do and how they fit into the greater organization. We should inspire others to reach their full potential. If we do all of these things, we will be leading in the right direction.

Leading Responsibly

I am a realist. I recognize that the vitriolic and myopic nature of politicians is unlikely to change in the near future. Yet, I am also an optimist. I believe that if each one of us takes the personal responsibility to lead in the right direction, then just maybe in aggregate, we can inspire change.

To me, this is such an important conversation.

Social media gives us an unbelievable platform from which to have one. Please, use the comment section below to share your thoughts on leading in the right direction and what we can do to inspire change.

So what type of leader are you? Do you tend to rely on a fear-based approach, or do you lead your followers through fear and on to a better picture of tomorrow? What can do you to know the current obstacles and find better ways to lead in the right direction? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
———————–
Elliot Begoun

Elliot Begoun is the Principal Consultant of The Intertwine Group, LLC.
He works with companies to Deliver Tools that Enable Growth
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Google+GROW | Website

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