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    A leadership secret appreciating the difficult people

     

    PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: [email protected] Word count: 1117 For decades, every summer, welcoming his scholarship players, Alabama coaching legend, Paul "Bear" Bryant, asked: "Have you called your folks to thank them? No one ever got to this level of excellence in football without the help of others." Bryant didn't just appreciate the importance of other people in the development of a young athlete; he wanted the athletes to appreciate it too. Such appreciation is also a lesson in leadership. Nobody becomes a successful leader unless others want you to be; you need help; and part of your growth as a leader is to recognize and show appreciation for that help. But you'll give your leadership and ultimately your career a real boost by extending your appreciation not just to the people you like and who are on your side but also to the people you may dislike: the difficult people in your life, those people who for right or wrong reasons cause you grief. One of the most effective ways of dealing with them is to appreciate them. I mean truly appreciate them. When you do, you may find that you are dealing with them in surprisingly productive ways. The word "appreciation" comes from a Latin root meaning "to apprehend the value." In other words, your appreciation of difficult people must be centered on your genuine understanding of the value they offer you and your organization. You are not just understanding their point of view. You are actually appreciating it; and you are using that appreciation as a tool to get more results, more results than if the difficult people had not entered your life. Otherwise, your appreciation, at least as far as leadership is concerned, is a waste of time. Here's a four step process to make appreciation a results-generator. (1) Team up. To get appreciation rolling, know that you must be a team, you and the difficult person, in the development of it. Mind you, you're not trying to get the difficult person to appreciate you. You have little control over the other's appreciation. You do, however, have control over yours. So, focus on cultivating yours. That cultivation happens only in a relationship -- a team relationship with the other person, not necessarily a personal relationship. In a team-relationship, you don't have to like the other person. You simply have to work with them -- actively and wholeheartedly, irrespective of personal feelings. And the goal of your team is to forge out of the difficulties you're having with one another a leadership process that achieves results. (2) Identify. When you're dealing with a difficult person, you're often entangled in strong emotions. The first thing to do is, with the person's help in a face-to-face meeting, get at the precise causes of the difficulties. Try to remove yourself from your emotional entanglements. "Break down" what's happening the way football coaches break down the plays of opposing teams studying game films. This breaking down is a collaborative process, and it should go like this: First, have the person describe the exact moments when you were having trouble with each other. It's important to keep focused simply on the physical facts of those moments. What were the specific actions and words that triggered the emotions? When the person gives h/her side of the story then and only then can you give yours. Only when both of you are clear as to those moments and agree on what took place can you start to talk with each other about your feelings connected to those moments of physical action. For instance, that person may contend you are not listening to what h/she says to you. Have the person describe the exact moment when you were not listening. Where were you? What was being said? Precisely, what gave that person that impression? (3) Agree. You and the person must agree on what is important in regard to the difficulties you are having. A gap between what you think is important and what the other person thinks must be closed. The test in closing it is results. Does the difficulty you are having with the person go right to the heart of the results you need to achieve? The person says you don't listen. Do you agree? Is that person's perception important? Until you can come to agreement as to whether you were or were not listening and the importance of that, you'll continue to have difficulties. Which means you won't be able to go to the next, and most important, step. (4)Transform. Transform the specific into a results process, a process that will get you increases in results. Without such a process, the previous steps are useless. For instance, let's say you both come to an agreement that you need to be more attentive when the person is speaking. Then, you might develop a "listening process." Such a process may involve applying "continuers." This is a process taught in medical schools to help overbearing doctors be more empathetic with their patients. When interacting with patients, the doctors are taught to say, "uh huh" three times when the other person is talking before saying a word. Of course, "continuers" are one of many listening processes you can draw on. And clearly, "not listening" is one of many problems one might have with the people you lead. Whatever process you come upon in whatever difficulty you are having with people, that process must achieve specific increases in results -- more results than if you had not used the process. As for the "not listening" example: You may pick out one actionable item from what was being said that can lead to results increases. I worked with a leader who did this. Several people he led accused him of ignoring them, and consequently those people were bucking his leadership. They all sat down around a conference table and went through this four-step process. They developed a process to actively and systematically listen to one another and come to agreement on what was spoken and what was heard. Then they selected actionable particulars that came out of their communication. They made sure they followed through on implementing those particulars to achieve increases in hard, measured results. Like the poor, the people who cause us difficulties will always be with us. No matter how experienced and successful you are as a leader, difficult people will always be lined up outside your door, wanting into your life. Moreover, there are probably a lot of them inside the door too, trying to cut you down to size, thwart your plans, besmirch your reputation. Instead of clashing with them or avoiding them, try appreciating them. When you use this process, you may find that they're not liabilities but assets. 2006 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

         
    A leadership secret replace goals with processes using the shared dream

     

    PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: [email protected] Word count: 1082 I bring leadership processes that help leaders get more results faster continually. The results will come in a specific length of time. The results will go beyond what the leaders are achieving now. The results can be measured, validated, and used as springboards for even more results. The results can be translated into money saved/earned. The results can't be achieved without the help of Leadership Talks. And yet ... Yet ... getting this big jump in results scares many leaders and can lead to burn out in the people they lead. You'd think leaders would welcome such results. No such luck. Here's why: They see results as a point not a process. Seeing results in this way prevents you from getting the more substantial results you're really capable of. Look, results are limitless. Those who don't know that don't know much about leadership. Those who believe that must believe in the process-reality of results. Let's look at the difference between a goal and a process. You've been dealing with goals and processes your whole career, but it's important to your success to see the difference in leadership terms. A goal is the result or achievement toward which effort is directed. A process is a continuous series or actions or changes. A goal can hinder results. (The word goal derives from an Old English word, "gaelan" meaning "to hinder.") A process can multiply them. I worked with the head of the head of manufacturing of a global company. Responding to relentless cost cutting pressures, he was continually setting formidable quarterly stretch goals on quality and productivity. The line workers were meeting the goals; but upon reaching one summit of goals, they inevitably faced another (the next quarterly goals) and were getting burned out. I suggested that to avoid this burn out, they look at the results not in terms of quarterly goals but in terms of processes. I gave him a two-step process to do it. (1) Define your goals. The manufacturing division had to deliver numbers to corporate, productivity increases, quality advancements, etc. Those numbers were goals they had to absolutely meet. Meeting them was vital to their jobs and careers. Viewing them as the right goals and adhering to their commitment to meet those goals are necessary first steps in translating those goals into processes. 2. Apply the Shared Dream. The Shared Dream can be one of the most powerful tools in leadership. Yet few leaders I know are aware of it, if not in name at least in activity. Leadership processes are the best processes, and the Shared Dream is one of the best of the best. Because it is one key way we can translate results into processes. Translating results into processes involves: *a team effort; it cannot be done simply by fiat. * the ardent commitment of all parties concerned, people can't be left out or left behind. *continual and systematic support, evaluation and monitoring of the processes. *the application of the Shared Dream. What is the Shared Dream? It is simply the uniting of your vision as a leader and the dream of the people you lead then using the union to get great results. For instance, the manufacturing division was supposed to get 3 to 5% reduction in costs per year, irrespective of inflation. To make the yearly goals, the division had to meet quarterly benchmarks. The problem was that the cost reductions were the division's and the company's vision, not really the line-workers dream. The employees dream, we found out through a number of facilitated on-the-site meetings, was predominately job security. (That was a pretty obvious finding but one we needed to nail down with interactions with the employees.) Lower cost overseas manufacturing was cutting into the company's margins. The threat was real that they would close shop in the states and take the manufacturing overseas. So, there was a gap between vision of the division leaders, constant cost reductions, and the dream of the division workers, job security. Of course, you might say that cost reductions were in fact all about job security. But the employees didn't see it that way. "That's the malarkey the suits feed us," said one worker. The idea was to have them move from being goal-oriented to being process-oriented. That change of viewpoint needed a change of commitment. Without a Shared Dream, with the goals not transformed into processes, people were getting burned out, going through the motions, anger, suppressing, tired, wanting out. The division leader got together with the employees in a number of on-the-job meetings and talked about their dream. They came up with the idea that if their manufacturing was competing in the world market place, the best way to compete was to become "world class" manufacturing enterprise. The people researched the requirements of being world class manufacturing, using top world manufacturers are benchmarks. They came up with eight quantitative measures that defined "world class." These measurements included continual productivity and quality increases, speed of throughput, etc. By the way, when I say "people" I mean this came from the rank and file. Representatives of workers groups participated. Together, the leaders and rank and file, put together action programs to meet those targets. Those action programs were processes. In essence, they put together a Shared Dream. They changed results into processes. "Let's meet those targets together!" is a Shared Dream if they and you want it badly. It's not a Shared Dream if it's your vision — you have to get quarterly decreases. Your vision is not motivational unless it matches their dream. Just because it is your vision does not mean it is their dream. Don't confuse your order for their dream. A gap between vision and dream handicaps organizations. Here is the Shared Dream process. -- Define Your Vision -- Define their dream. -- Combine the vision and dream to get the Shared Dream. -- Test the Shared Dream. -- Describe the rewards and punishments of achieving or failing to achieve the Shared Dream. -- Make the final cut at describing the Shared Dream. -- Implement the Shared Dream as a trigger for turning goals into processes. -– Monitor and evaluate the progress. One might say, "That's a lot of trouble to go through. Why don't you just tell them what they have to do and make them do it?" But that's the point. Your ordering them is far different in terms of results outcomes than their motivating themselves to make it happen. And it won't happen unless you go through the rigorous process of turning their goals into processes using the Shared Dream. 2006 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

         
    A monster of a leadership challenge the creature that ate your career

     

    PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: [email protected] Word count: 815 In the 1964 movie, "Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster", King Ghidorah was a gigantic, dragon-like creature that came from outer space. It had three heads on long necks, bat-like wings, no arms, and twin tails. It terrorized Tokyo until Godzilla, in a role reversal as protector rather than destroyer, defeated it in a terrible battle and chased it back into outer space. As a leader, you don't have to go to the movies to face Ghidorah. You do it every day. Ghidorah is the three-headed monster of fear, failure, and self-doubt. How you deal with the triple threat will determine to a great extent how your career develops. Though fear, failure and self-doubt are each separate, they cannot be separated: The prospect of failure can lead to fear of failure, and fear of failure can lead to self-doubt, which closes the cycle by leading back to fear of failure. Of course, this is not strictly linear. Three-headed Ghidorah is comprised of any number of combinations. For instance, self-doubt may lead to failure or failure may lead to self-doubt, which leads to fear. Don't concern yourself with the combinations that can afflict you. Concern yourself instead with how to deal with Ghidorah. The first thing to understand about how to deal with the monster is that if you're NOT dealing with Ghidorah, you're doing something wrong. Leadership is not about living an easy life for ourselves but a hard life for other people and for the organizations you serve. Fear, failure, and self doubt are a natural outcomes of good leadership. That's especially so for leaders who are trying to motivate people to meet extraordinary challenges. You'll never know how good you are as a leader unless you are motivating others to be better than they think they are. In that endeavor, you'll inevitably get at least some of the people angry. Most people are settled into a comfortable status quo and resist and resent being challenged to break out. But if you aim to get great results, people not only have to be pushed but more importantly, they must be challenged to push themselves. So, if you're not getting some people angry with you over the pushing, you're doing something wrong as a leader, you're not challenging people enough. The second thing is that if you face Ghidorah head on, you'll find that fear, failure and self-doubt are your benefactors; for Ghidorah can be your partner in achieving limitless results. For instance, I worked with the CEO of a company that proved results are limitless. In the 1930s, the company was making tea bag paper. Over the years, they kept changing and improving their products so today they are making high tech thermoplastics. Going from making tea bag paper to high tech thermoplastics involved innovation, hard work, and great leadership. My bet is that fear, failure and self-doubt were driving factors in that three-generation, results-are-limitless evolution. Don't simply overcome Ghidorah. Instead, use Ghidorah -- use fear, failure and self-doubt as your results-partner. To do so, you need to cultivate your inner, submerged strengths. An assault by Ghidorah is an opportunity for us to manifest strengths we did not know we possessed. "I'm afraid I might fail." – We can manifest perseverance. "I doubt if I can do this." -- We can be innovative. "I have failed." -- We can evince patience, tenacity, and resilience. My leadership processes, which today may look simple, clear, and robust, were developed with my grappling countless times with Ghidorah. There is not a process I teach that did not have its birth in a failure of one kind or another. Often, I really didn't understand the process until I first failed in trying to put it into action. I have to give Ghidorah much of the credit for their success. Over time, as we keep manifesting our strengths in the face of Ghidorah's assaults, we tend to avoid getting carried away by appearances or our mercurial desires but instead will gradually actualize a centered leadership. The more we assess our strengths in times of affliction, the more easily assessable those strengths become. But that's not all. Here's the final secret: We manifest these strengths not just for ourselves but also for the people we lead; for when we face Ghidorah, we show others the path; and in doing so, help them tap into their own inner strengths, creating a motivational bond between you. King Ghidorah was brought to life on the movie screen by a stunt actor inside an elaborate costume, with a team of puppeteers controlling the beast's many appendages. When tough challenges call forth Ghidorah in your leadership, you may see that the creature is, similarly, not substance but the dazzle of our minds and emotions, reminding us that leadership begins not when we grasp at outward appearances but when hold to our center and the resources flowing from that center.

         
    A powerful leadership tool delighting in the people you lead

     

    PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: [email protected] Word count: 685 Leadership entails getting results, and getting results entails human relationships. The more closely the people and the leader bond, the more results will usually accrue. However, most leaders and the people they lead look at those relationships as a one way street: charismatic leaders being commonly defined by sentiments bestowed on them from the people. But great leadership is really a two-way street, also involving sentiments going from the leader to the people. We never know how good we are as leaders until we are delighting in the people we lead and, through that delight, leading them to get continually better results while they become continually better as leaders and as people. For instance, I recently received an email from my old company commander inviting me to a reunion. He wrote, "I was the luckiest rifle company commander in the Marine Corps when I was surrounded by the best group of infantry officer lieutenants I ever knew. And they were all in our company!" I had not heard from him in many decades, but I remember not so much what I did but what he did. He went against the grain of the leadership style and conduct of some officers I knew -- officers who got the job done by being pretty much focused on themselves and their careers. My ex-company commander, however, got the job done by being inspired by the troops, not by himself. Out in civilian life, I've seen other leaders take a similar delight in and be inspired by the people they lead, and I have come to realize that this penchant is really a powerful, though rarely used, leadership tool. However, to use the tool properly, three things must be kept in mind. 1. Delight must happen within the context of high results-expectations. In your delight, don't be hampered by the bigotry of low expectations. My company commander was known for having his men undergo the most difficult training and take on the toughest assignments. He delighted in his troops not just for what they wanted to do but what he challenged them to do. After all, leadership is not about having people do what they want to do. If they did want they wanted, you wouldn't be needed as a leader. Leadership is about having people do what they may not want to do and be committed to doing it. 2. Delight must be truthful. Don't try to manipulate people through your delight. When the circumstances called for it, my company commander was brutally honest with us. If we weren't measuring up to his high standards, we'd know about it from him in forceful and vivid ways. His honesty was a leadership lesson: have the troops see themselves as they should be seen, not as they want to be seen. Sure, he riled us up many times. But because his honesty helped the troops become better Marines, it was eventually accepted and even welcomed. 3. Delight must be practical. My company commander was always linking the delight he found in the troops with lessons learned in accomplishing missions and best practices that came from the lessons. His delight wasn't meant to have people feel good about themselves but to motivate them to take actions to be continually better. In that striving to be better and, getting better in the striving, we bonded. Clearly, going where we had to go and doing what we had to do, we were often miserable; but through it all, there was, in the back of my mind at least, the compulsion not to let him down -- and not to let each other down. You may not have thought about delight as a leadership tool, but it is one of the most effective because it goes right to the heart of getting results through the cementing of right relationships. Keep these three factors in mind when expressing your delight, and your leadership will be blessed daily with new opportunities.

         
    A vital leadership question what does our organization really reward

     

    PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: [email protected] Word count: 900 Boost Your Leadership Skills Simply By Answering The Question, "What Does Our Organization Really Reward?" By Brent Filson The difference between leaders is ears. Good leaders not only ask good questions, but they actually listen to the answers. Ask people in your organization: "What does our organization REALLY reward?" Listening to the answer may help you achieve marked increased in results. Rewards and punishments make up the drive shaft of any organization. But my experience of working with thousands of leaders during the past 23 years reveals that most of their organizations reward the wrong things. Such organizations may pay lip service to rewarding people for what is viewed as the right things: getting results, getting the right results, getting the right results in the right ways. But what they may really reward, often in terms of promotions and job perks, are such things as the care and feeding of top leaders' egos, political conniving, tyrannical leadership .... Here is a way to transform wrong rewards into right results. (1) Ask people in your organization what your organization REALLY rewards. The answers may surprise you. But don't get caught up in those answers. Don't make value judgments. At this stage, you are just an observer. Simply compile the list. (2) Gauge each item on the list against results your organization really needs. Does it help get results? Does it detract from results? Do it this way: Pick out a single item from your list. Describe the problem in the item and identify who controls its solution. Execute a "stop-start-continue" process. What reward do you stop, what do you start, and what do you continue? You'll get results, but don't expect overnight success. Not only are many of these wrong rewards ingrained habits but changing them seldom achieves quick results. Still, keep asking, What does my organization really reward? In the long run, when tackling the challenges that comes with listening to the answers, you'll be getting more results as well as sharpening your leadership skills. (3) Ask, "What does your leadership really reward?" When your leadership rewards the wrong things, you're getting a fraction of the results you're capable of. However, since we see the faults of others more clearly than our own, it may be more difficult identifying and dealing with your own issues rather than your organization's. Do a 360 degree assessment. Select a single item from the list and apply the start-stop-continue process. Don't simply eliminate the item. Such items can be grist for the results mill. Identify the problem in the item then have the solution be a tool that gets results. Guaranteed you will get results. After all, you are eliminating a negative aspect of your leadership and replacing it with a results-producing one. When you make this a long term endeavor — going from item to item — results will come to you in new and often unexpected ways. (4) Encourage the people you lead to question the rewards aspects of their own leadership. Be aware of their reactions to your encouragement. Do they see the questioning as meaningful to their jobs? Do they want their colleagues involved in such questioning? Do they want to have senior management question their own leadership? If people want the questioning to be a regular part of their daily work, continue it. If they feel it has little value, call a time out. After all, if people believe they are powerless to change things in the organization, seismic questions like this will only frustrate and anger them, creating a hot house environment for cynicism to flower. As you go forward: --Cultivate among the people a common, self-reinforcing fervor for the questioning. Don't force things. Be an observer and a supporter. Observe their reactions to the questioning and support their efforts to make it succeed. --Encourage the development of networks of people taking the initiative to engage in the questioning together. --Now and then, and especially in the beginning, set aside special times and places to have them focus exclusively on such questioning, making sure they continually link the answers to getting increases in results. --Keep that linkage alive. This is not an academic exercise. It's not meant to simply have people feel good or, on the other hand, vent their frustrations. It's sole objective is to get MEASURABLE INCREASES IN RESULTS. If results are not forthcoming, have people refocus on the need for the questioning; and if you still are not receiving results, curtail or even eliminate it for awhile. You can always reactivate it when the time and the environment are more conducive to having it succeed. --Avoid having the process deteriorate into name calling and finger pointing. The idea is not to use the questioning to get the goods on people or as a platform for emotional outbursts against the organization but instead for what it is meant to be, a powerful tool to get more results continually. Mind you, people shouldn't be spending inordinate amounts of time on the questioning. Nor should it be seen as a major, discrete effort, like an operations or marketing program. Just the opposite: It should be a natural part of everybody's leadership activities. Constantly asking, Are we rewarding the right things? should eventually come as second nature. 2006 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, THE LEADERSHIP TALK: THE GREATEST LEADERSHIP TOOL and 101 WAYS TO GIVE GREAT LEADERSHIP TALKS. He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. – and for more than 20 years has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: "49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results," at actionleadership

         
    A whack up long side the head of human resources the leadership obligation

     

    PERMISSION TO REPUBLISH: This article may be republished in newsletters and on web sites provided attribution is provided to the author, and it appears with the included copyright, resource box and live web site link. Email notice of intent to publish is appreciated but not required: mail to: [email protected] Word count: 1600 When we perceive the simple center in the seemingly complex, we can change our world in powerful new ways. Albert Einstein perceived the simple E=MC2 in the complexities of physical reality and changed the history of the 20th century. Big Daddy Lipscomb, the Baltimore Colts 300 pound all-pro tackle in the 1960s perceived the simple center of what was perceived to be the complex game of football. "I just wade into players," he said, "until I come to the one with the ball. Him I keep!" — and changed the way the game was played. Likewise, human resources, despite its complex activities, should have a fundamentally simple mission, yet it is a mission that is being neglected by many HR professionals. I call that mission the Leadership Obligation — helping the organization recruit, retain, and develop good leaders. Clearly, without good leaders, few organizations can thrive over the long run. What characterizes a good leader? A good leader consistently gets results — in ethical and motivational ways. Because they interact with all business functions and usually provide education and training for those functions, human resource professionals should be focused primarily on recruiting, retaining, and developing leaders that get results. Any other focus is a footnote. Yet working with human resource leaders in a variety of companies for the past two decades, I find that many of them are stumbling. Caught up in the tempests of downsizing, compliance demands, acquisitions, mergers, and reorganizations, they are engaged in activities that have little to do with their central mission. Ignoring or at least giving short shrift to the Leadership Obligation, they are too often viewed, especially by line leaders, as carrying out sideline endeavors. Many HR leaders have nobody to blame for this situation but themselves. By neglecting the Obligation, they themselves have chosen to be sideline participants. Here is a three-step action plan to get the HR function off the sidelines and into the thick of the game. Recognize. Link. Execute. Before I describe each step, let me define leadership as it ought to be. For your misunderstanding leadership will thwart you in applying the Obligation. The word "leadership" comes from old Norse word-root meaning "to make go." Indeed, leadership is about making things go — making people go, making organizations go. But the misunderstanding comes in when leaders fail to understand who actually makes what go. Leaders often believe that they themselves must make things go, that if people must go from point A to point B, let's say, that they must order them to go. But order leadership founders today in fast-changing, highly competitive markets. In this environment, a new kind of leadership must be cultivated — leadership that aims not to order others to go from point A to point B — but instead that aims to motivate them to want take the leadership in going from A to B. That "getting others to lead others" is what leadership today should be about. And it is what we should inculcate in our clients. We must challenge them to lead, lead for results with this principle in mind, and accept nothing else from them but this leadership. Furthermore, leadership today must be universal. To compete successfully in highly competitive, fast changing markets, organizations must be made up of employees who are all leaders in some way. All of us have leadership challenges thrust upon us many times daily. In the very moment that we are trying to persuade somebody to take action, we are a leader — even if that person we are trying to persuade is our boss. Persuasion is leadership. Furthermore, the most effective way to succeed in any endeavor is to take a leadership position in that endeavor. The Obligation applies to all employees. Whatever activities you are being challenged to carry out, make the Obligation a lens through which you view those activities. Have your clients recognize that your work on the behalf of their leadership will pay large dividends toward advancing their careers. Recognize: Recognize that recruiting, retaining, and developing good leaders ranks with earnings growth (or with nonprofit organizations: mission) in terms of being an organizational necessity. So most of your activities must be in some way tied to the Obligation. For instance: HR executive directors who want to develop courses for enhancing the speaking abilities of their companies' leaders often blunder in the design phase. Not recognizing the Leadership Obligation, they err by describing them as "presentation courses." Instead, if they were guided by the Obligation, they would offer courses on "leadership talks." There is a big difference between presentations and leadership talks. Presentations communicate information. Presentation courses are a dime a dozen. But leadership talks motivate people to believe in you and follow you. Leaders must speak many times daily — to individuals or groups in a variety of settings. When you provide courses to help them learn practical ways for delivering effective talks, to have them speak better so that they can lead better, you are benefitting their job performance and their careers. Today, in most organizations, the presentation is the conventional method of communication. But when you make the leadership talk the key method by instituting "talk" courses and monitoring and evaluation systems broadly and deeply within the organization, you will help make your company more effective and efficient. Link: Though such recognition is the first step in getting off the sidelines, it won't get you into the game. To get into the center of things, you must link your activities with results. Not your results — their results. Clearly, your clients are being challenged to get results: sales' closes, operations efficiencies, productivity advances, etc. Some results are crucial. But other results are absolutely indispensable. Your job is to help your clients achieve their results, especially the indispensable results. You must be their "results partner." Furthermore, you must help them get sizable increases in those results. The results that they get with your help should be more than the results that they would have gotten without your help. For instance, when developing company-wide objectives for leadership talks, you should not aim to have participants win a speaking "beauty contests" but instead to speak so that they motivate others to get increases in measured results. When you change the focus of the courses from speaking appearance to the reality of results, you change the participants' view of and commitment to the courses and also their view of and commitment to you in providing those courses. So have the participants define their indispensable results and link the principles and processes they learned in the course to getting measured increases in those results. Execute: It's not enough to recognize. It's not enough to link. You must execute. "Execute" comes from a Latin root exsequi meaning "to follow continuously and vigorously to the end or even to ‘the grave.'" Let's capture if not the letter at least the spirit of this lively root by insuring that your activities on behalf of your clients are well "executed," that they are carried out vigorously and continuously in their daily work throughout their careers. If those activities are helping them get results, you are truly their "results partner." For instance, in regard to the leadership talk courses, HR professionals can lead an "initiative approach." At the conclusion of the course, each participant selects an initiative to institute back on the job. The aim of each initiative is to get sizable increases in their indispensable results by using the principles and processes that they learned. The initiatives and their results should be concrete and measurable, such as productivity gains, increases in sales, operations efficiencies, and reduced cycle times. The participants should be challenged to get increases in results above and beyond what they would have gotten without having taken the course. They should be challenged to get those increases within a mutually agreed upon time, such as quarterly reports. In fact, if the participants don't achieve an increase in results that translates to at least ten times what the course costs, they should get their money back. Don't stop there. Getting an increase in results is not the end of the course, it should be the beginning — the beginning of a new phase of getting results, the stepping up phase. The more results participants achieve, the more opportunities they have created to achieve even more results. The leadership talk course should have methods for instituting results' step-ups. One such method can be a quarterly leadership-talk round table. Participants who graduate from the course meet once a quarter to discuss the results they have gotten and provide best practices for getting more. Human resources should organize, direct and facilitate the round tables. In this way, the results the leaders are getting should increase quarter after quarter. When HR professionals promote such leadership talk courses, courses that are linked to getting increases in indispensable results and that come with the "results guarantee," those professionals are truly seen as results partners in their organizations. I have used the leadership talk as an example of how you can greatly enhance your contributions to the company by applying the Leadership Obligation. Don't just apply the Obligation to such courses alone. Apply it to whatever challenge confronts you. When you recognize how that challenge can be met through the Obligation, when you link the challenge to getting increases in measured results, and when you execute for results, you can transform your function. You don't have to be as distinguished as Einstein or as awesome as Big Daddy Lipscomb, but you will in your individual way perceive the simple, powerful center of things. You'll be in the thick of the most important game your company is playing — helping change your world and the world of your clients. 2006 © The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

         
    Abe lincoln an extraordinary leader

     

    Perhaps noted as one of the greatest United States presidents of all time, Abraham Lincoln’s early life may not have reflected his potential greatness. He failed in business. He lost election to the state legislature, Speaker of the House, nomination for Congress, appointment of land officer, U. S. Senate twice and nomination for Vice President. After those eight major failures, Lincoln was elected President of the United States. How many of us would have kept going like Lincoln did? Many problems that we think of today pale in comparison to what happened in the late 1850’s and middle 1860’s. Lincoln dealt with eleven southern states that had seceded from the Union. Eleven states formed the Confederate States of America during his presidency. Americans may think that there are divisions among our country today. There was an enormous division during the Civil War era. Americans literally died on both sides of the war: North and South. There were several key challenges that Lincoln faced as U. S. President: 1. Lincoln was president during the American Civil War, which lasted four years About five weeks after Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th United States President, the American Civil War began. Lincoln was president when the country was literally falling apart. Division may exist between families. Unfortunately, some family members may go years without talking to one another. Are problems within families really that terrible compared to the unrest during the Civil War? Some families were divided so much by the war that one son may have fought for the North while another son of the same family fought for the South. 2. The most American casualties happened during the Lincoln Administration 600,000 to 700,000 Americans died in the Civil War. The American Civil War casualties exceed the United States’ losses in all of its other wars from The American Revolution to the present. Do any of us think that we have such an enormous responsibility? Lincoln had an insurmountable responsibility of having the most American casualties during his term as president. More Americans died from war during Lincoln’s presidency than all of the other American presidents combined. 3. Lincoln suffered from Depression Lincoln, who lived in the nineteenth century, did not have access to antidepressants, such as Prozac, to take as prescription medication nor could he go to a drug store and purchase St. John’s Wort over the counter. Lincoln never had the luxury of having access to modern treatments. Lincoln’s job was to deal with a country that was divided by war. At times, your problems may seem as monumental as Lincoln’s struggles, mainly because you are the one who is currently enduring a particular problem. All of us have common and unique problems. Can you imagine if you weren’t so lucky and had limited access to treatments like Lincoln? Fortunately, we do have the luxury of modern medicine. 4. Lincoln was assassinated The North, The Union, defeated the South, The Confederacy. The South surrendered to the North on April 9th, 1865. Lincoln was assassinated five days after the Civil War ended and died the morning after he was shot. Do you think you feel unappreciated by the work you’ve done? Lincoln united his country as president, issued the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery, inspired numerous people while suffering from depression, was one of the most kindest and good-hearted presidents our nation has ever had and what was the thanks that he got? He was killed. Numerous times, Lincoln was a leader. He kept America together so we could still be called “The United States of America.” He led by example. In his second inaugural address, Lincoln said that he wanted “malice toward none” and he wanted “to bind up the nation’s wounds.” Unfortunately, Lincoln never got to see any of his efforts and results implemented. The United States owes Lincoln a huge debt of gratitude. Like Lincoln, every one of us has overcome problems and has achieved greatness in our own way. You may not remember some obstacles that you overcame, such as when you learned to walk or talk. There are challenges you overcame that you probably do remember very well, such as finishing a project, winning a race, graduating from school or establishing a career. Every one of you has a potential for greatness like Abe Lincoln. It is up to you to find the greatness within yourself.

         
    Act on some of the facts

     

    Making any decision without having all of the information and facts beforehand can be very tough. I spoke with a young man recently and he told me that some of his professors had changed the rules on him in the administration of his classes. The syllabuses of a couple of his classes had been altered, which switched exam dates. He was also notified of these changes after the semester’s grace period. The grace period in which he could get his tuition money back after dropping a course had passed. Because of the changes, he would have two to three exams on one day. I agreed to him that it was not a fair thing for them to do and that he wasn’t given all of the facts in order to make an adequate decision. This young man had to make a decision to take the courses the way they had been altered or to drop the courses, forfeit his tuition money and delay another semester until graduation. It was interesting because I was about the same age as this young man when one of my undergraduate professors told me that you are not going to have 100% of the facts needed to make a decision in the real world. He told the class that if we’re lucky, we might have 50% of the facts in order to make a decision. I had told this young man about what my marketing professor had said and he thanked me for this piece of advice. Months later, I had thought about one of the most drastic decisions anyone has had to make in the 20th Century without having all of the facts before him. Harry Truman became president of the United States in April, 1945 after Franklin Roosevelt died. Roosevelt never informed Truman about the Manhattan Project. Suddenly, Truman had access to three atomic bombs and the authority to use them in World War II against the Japanese. And you think that making some decisions can be tough? Truman had the fate of history in his hands while pondering what to do. The point is that Truman, like many other decision-makers, was faced with very limited information and had to make a decision and follow-through quickly. At some points in our lives, this happens to us all. But even if you do not decide to do something, your indecision is your decision. Not to decide is to decide. So, how do you make a decision when you do not have all the facts? Follow this process: 1. Review the facts that you do have. Truman had access to three atomic bombs. Each bomb had enough power to destroy an entire city. 2. Analyze your facts. Truman witnessed the testing of one of the atomic bombs in the desert and was made more aware of the actual intensity of the bomb. 3. Analyze how your facts will affect your future decisions. Truman was given an estimate about the number of American soldiers that might perish in another major battle with Japan. Truman’s option was that the atomic bomb could be used in lieu of attacking a Japanese city and would avoid excessive American casualties. 4. Take action. Truman ordered that the remaining two atomic bombs be used against the Japanese on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Using both bombs in battle ultimately ended World War II quicker and avoided additional American casualties. Great decision-makers, like Truman, act when necessary and take full responsibility for their actions. Although the outcome may or may not have been what Truman had planned, a decision was carried out. If Truman did not make a decision, the war would have lingered and more American lives would have been lost. Although the decision may not have been a popular decision at the time, Truman knew it had to be made. None of us have crystal balls and have access to future information and events. Truman was no different. Although we don’t know the exact outcome of a decision, we can take conscious action and make a decision. If we don’t decide, someone or something will decide for us. We decide by decision or indecision. Which one will you choose?

         
    An effective style to use in public speaking audience participation

     

    An effective public speaker should be able to utilize devices that will be able to capture the attention of the audience. One effective means for them to give you that much needed interest is this: get them to go on stage. Make them participate. When someone is on stage and he or she happens to be a member of the audience, the rest will almost always stay attentive. Why? Because they would like to see what you will be doing to one of them. Also, because they are thinking they could be up there themselves and so to save their precious egos from embarrassment they at least need to know what is going on. No matter how good or excellent you are as a presenter or as a public speaker, nothing beats the excitement of getting someone to be on stage who really should not be there in the first place. What is going through their minds at that moment when you pull an unsuspecting someone from their complacency is that, “Oh my god, what if the speaker selects me to go up there next? What am I going to do?” Then later, “I need to pay attention to this.” A little bit later as you go through your presentation, the audience will then most probably think, “What point is he/she making?” And then as you take your point across, the audience will then get to think, “Now I get it.” Because you made them pay attention, you have forced them to listen and respond to your statement in the privacy of their minds. However, there are those extremely shy and very sensitive members of the audience who might withdraw from going through the rest of your presentation if they hear you will be calling on them up on the stage. The objective is to gain an audience and not to lose any of them. Make it clear prior to your asking someone to come up on stage with you that you are asking for a volunteer and that no one will be forced if they do not want to. Notice that if the majority of your audience are shy, once you finally get someone to be on stage, all of them will almost always heave a sigh of relief that you would actually feel a breeze pass you by, really. Another way to get the audience to participate as well as pay attention is by giving them due recognition. Try to acknowledge a single member of the audience for a specific achievement or a moment of a good performance, or also acknowledge a group of the audience.

         
    Are you a leader or a slacker

     

    Do you claim to be a Leader in your business or your field of expertise? I have noticed that many people claim to be Leaders, but I consider them Slackers instead. A Slacker is someone that basically likes to give instruction or direction, but takes no action on advancing themselves or their business. Does this describe you, your up-line or someone else on your Mastermind Team? Here are some clues that might help you out. Leader: Praises his/her team and offers encouragement Slacker: Quick to find fault and slow to give praise Leader: Holds himself/herself to a higher standard that his/her team Slacker: Has a high level of expectation for his/her team but doesn’t hold himself/herself to that same standard Leader: Leads by example and is a role model for his/her team Slacker: Blends in with crowd and never steps up to take a leadership role Leader: Has deep rooted belief in his/her business and leads new teammates through the growth process (learning the business and facing obstacles) Slacker: Convinces a person to join his/her team then pawns them off on someone else or simply pushes them to the side (Referred to as “sign and drop”) Which of these characteristics, best describes you and your teammates? Be honest with yourself. Just remember, that a leader must lead and nourish others through the growth process. If he/she loses integrity and fails to take action, then this same failure mindset will ripple down to his/her teammates. A team will duplicate their leader and their leader’s actions. Let me ask you one last time…Are you a Leader or a Slacker? Find Your Why & Fly, John Di Lemme FindYourWhy

         
    Are you a victim of vagueness or a champion of clarity

     

    It is estimated that our brains receive information through our senses that result in some four billion neuron impulses per second. Of these four billion pieces of information we are only consciously aware of about 2,000. That’s only 0.00005%. It’s happening to you right now. I bet, until I mention it now, that you were not aware of the feel of your clothes on your skin. Or, be aware of the noises in the background. Or, be aware of the object just inside of your peripheral vision. Until I mentioned them you were paying your full attention to something else. If you had to be fully aware of all the information that you receive all of the time you probably would be so overwhelmed that you wouldn’t be able to function. The unwanted information is filtered out through a process of Deletion, Distortion and Generalisation. This filtering process is driven largely by our Beliefs of how things are at that time. Whilst this can be hugely helpful in avoiding our brains from exploding it can lead us into making assumptions about given situations that might not serve us well; we can easily become victims of the vagueness that we accept as fact. To make matters worse when we communicate with others we pass on our assumptions, with the additional assumption that the recipient makes the same assumptions. Our assumptions create gaps in our communication that we expect the other person to fill with the SAME understanding. All too often because of our assumptions we do not deliver what was expected. Here are some examples of vagueness. What assumptions are you making when you interpret them? “Go and increase morale in the team” “Make sure that they fully appreciate our efforts” “Spend more time on customer relations” Being a Champion of Clarity First off, to be a Champion of Clarity you have to recognise that communication is full of assumption. A Champion of Clarity recognises the pitfalls of assumption both as a speaker and as a listener. As a listener they are only too aware of the following phrase: “The meaning of your communication is the response that you get” As such a Champion of Clarity takes responsibility for ensuring that their communication is fully understood. As a listener they recognise that they often interact with Victims of Vagueness and they take steps to avoid relegation from a Champion of Clarity by ensuring that they fully understand the intention of the communication behind the words that they hear. Good ways of ensuring understanding is getting sensory cues that provide the evidence of the successful future desired outcome. In response to the vague statements above a Champion of Clarity would ask something like: “And when I have increased morale in the team, what will let you know that it has been done well?” “What is it that will let them know that we put in effort in a way that should be recognised?” “And when we are spending more time on customer relations, what will you see and hear?”

         
    Ask don t tell leadership how do i create accountability as a leader

     

    Dear Coach, Question: I own and run a company, but my leadership skills are sometimes lacking. My Senior Team refers to me as “Mr. Softy,” because I fail to discipline those who breach company policies. I am having particular difficulty with my VP of Sales. While he does bring in new accounts, he consistently enters them incorrectly and causes all sorts of problems for production staff. My team keeps telling me to “let him have it,” but I am not sure what to say. How do I make him accountable without simply firing or threatening to fire him? Answer: Congratulations! You are already demonstrating great leadership wisdom by seeking solutions aside from threatening job loss. The accountability you want would never develop from firing or threatening to fire, anyway. Exceptional leaders build accountability and empower their employees by asking them questions. My philosophy of leadership is “ask, don’t tell.” Although you have identified the VP of Sales as causing the current problems, make sure you have all the facts. This could be a great opportunity for you to build accountability – not just in this employee, but in all your employees. I suggest holding a company-wide meeting, focused on the big picture of how sales orders are processed. Use the situation with the VP of Sales as an example, and ask, “Is this order representative of how this company functions?” Either everyone will agree, or an interesting discussion will ensue between the disagreeing parties. Sometimes, your role as a leader is to stay out of the middle and simply facilitate. The managers of your various departments likely understand the facts better than you do, and it is perfectly ok to admit this. Enter the meeting with an open mind. Even if your employees begin by arguing and finger-pointing, they will eventually work through to the facts. You may need to pepper the conversation with questions, but try not to give answers. Once the group has pinpointed the actual problem and the individual(s) involved, begin discussing solutions. Ask simply, “How would you like to solve this?” Even if you have solutions in mind, great leadership requires you to trust others to develop their own answers. Given this is the first time you have undergone this process, I suggest you stay in the meeting. Continue to only ask questions, and if asked your opinion, refrain from giving it. Remind your managers that you trust them to run their departments and make money for your company, so surely you trust them to solve issues, such as this one. Initially, this entire process may be extremely time-consuming and frustrating for everyone involved. Be confident that you are moving in the right direction! Your employees will soon become more energized as they feel empowered, and the time will prove well worthwhile. By the end of this process, you too will find your power and realize you built accountability by merely asking questions. Remember: Ask, don’t tell.

         
    Ask don t tell leadership what if i lose control of my staff as a leader

     

    Question: I am a sales manager for a business services firm in Minneapolis. I am responsible for all new business revenue for my company and I have 5 sales people that work for me. Of the 5 sales people only one is a star performer. The issue I am having is he breaks all the rules and creates really bad relationships with all the other people in the company. I am on the senior team and the rest of them are angry that this keeps happening. While I don't like to hear the comments from the senior team, I am aware that I cannot make my numbers goals and the company can't make there's for the year without him. What do I do? Answer: I call this a terrorist! A terrorist is someone who knows what they have on you and they use it to hold you and everyone else in the company hostage to their behavior. I like to take my clients through an exercise of understanding the Goal, Position, and Strategy Questions to determine what actions need to be done. The first question I ask is, "What is the goal around the problem?" This is to ensure that we are aiming at the right issue. What I invite my clients to do is to first reflect on the organization's overall goal. Then link that to the current situation. This way what ever you do, you will be in total alignment with what is best for the business overall. In this situation you have identified the fact that in order to make your business unit's goals and the company's, you need this employee. That is a big step and oftentimes leaders become so emotionally charged by such situations they act before they consider the goals and objectives of the company or the department. I commend you for your forethought. Typically leaders who do this are considered high in emotional intelligence. This has been shown to be one of the key components in assessing one's long term success in their career. The next step is to understand the position you and your company are in. Elevate to 50,000 foot level to see the whole situation. Go beyond yourself and ask, "How did this begin to happen? Sometimes we might find the root cause built into the culture of the organization. Is this type of behavior is tolerated here? In the case of Enron when the CEO learned that two of the traders were stealing from the company he did nothing and then soon after said, 'keep making us money.' What they were stealing was minor compared to what they were making the company. He knew that if he took action, he would stop his revenue machine that he needed because it was his end goal. It also gave permission to the others that if they were that good at making money for the company they could steal from the company as well. It was the outcome they got, should not have been a surprise. This is the extreme case of the terrorist working for the company - and it was exaggerated by a lack of moral compass by the leadership. In the case you present, it is apparent that this behavior is contrary to what the leadership tolerates is searching for from a behavior. Once you go up to the 50,000 foot level and see if the company has had complicity in the situation, then it is good to come down to 10,000 foot perspective and see if "you" have complicity in the situation. To be frank, and I hate doing this in a column where I can't ask qualifying questions, but it is hard to imagine that you did not allow this to happen. It is not about absolving the terrorist from his behavior because that is wrong, however, if you had stopped the behavior cold, this would never have happened. I say this because the solution, whatever one you choose, will need to involve your being mentored or coached into creating boundaries for your team. Without these boundaries you will be faced with this issue again. The third part of our position investigation is to go to ground level – the situation itself. When we find ourselves in this type of situation with an employee we only have two choices, we can either fire or teach. If an employee makes a mistake, it is because we did not teach them correctly or because they are not capable to do the function. Ask three questions to determine what choice to make. The first, is the employee capable of learning? Secondly, does the organization or I have the time and resources available to train this employee? Lastly, is this employee motivated to learn and change? If you answer anyone of of these questions is NO, the decision is chosen, you need to let this person go. The decision is, as Donald Trump would say, You're Fired! It is unclear from your description if the employee has the capacity to change behavior, so I will assume that he is rather good at what he does for your organization and likely has the ability to change. It is clear that for your number one producer you should have the resources and time to help him come into alignment with the company. The bigger issue is that of motivation. Often times a terrorist does not feel the threat of what can happen to them if they don't start falling in to line. They have become fat, and happy and arrogant! This arrogance is what blocks their ability to realize that they need to change. The company has reached a point where it can no longer tolerate this kind of behavior. Unlike Donald's TV Drama we live in the real world, and just letting him go is not a great first choice given the company's dependence on his revenue. In almost all other circumstances the move would surely be to fire, but because this employee mean so much to the organizations health as far as revenue. The last part of understanding our position is to understand whose decision is it to make, and what needs to be done. If the consequences of your actions will compromise the strategic direction of the company, I would invite you to consider involving the senior team and that the responsibility is yours to deal with it, and the final decision may actually be the team's or the CEO's call, given its importance to the organization. This is truly a strategic decision then, it is not simply letting one person go, it is letting many people go, if one presumes in a service firm, lower revenue means fewer employees needed to service the customers. At this point I would coach you to have a conversation with your CEO and the rest of the strategic team and tell them the steps that you are considering and ask these strategic questions: At what point as an organization are we willing to take a principled stance on the issue over that of revenue? Are we clear what the outcome of this will be to our other employees? Will we need to do cost cutting to compensate for this move? What will the industry see from losing our most talented sales person? Will he go work for our competition? What impact will that have on your company? By working through these strategic issues as an organization and lifting this issue to its proper place the senior team - you will be aligning everyone to be part of the process and stop complaining about it. By going through these questions the conclusion you may arrive at the end of this process is that you use a three pronged approach to dealing with this situation. Executing three plans simultaneously. Plan "A" You will need to continue coaching the employee towards the behavior that is in alignment with the firm’s values, beliefs, and rules. Plan "B", at the same time I would highly recommend moving the rest of the sales team to a higher level to loose your dependence on this terrorist, and operationalize Plan "C" and start the recruiting process for the possible if not probable replacement of the employee. It is important that the others on the senior team and your sales team know that you are coaching this employee in these areas of behavior and that it is not sitting OK with you. But no more information than that - it is inappropriate to say more than that in a public setting. It will build your credibility as a leader and not allow one persons behavior sink the culture the company wants to build.

         
    Ask don t tell leadership when to start your own business

     

    When to start your own business? Q: After working at one company for 10 years, I would like to begin my own business. What issues do I need to consider, and how do I know when it is the right time to take the “big step?” A: Almost 20 years ago, my roommate asked me to spend a day of my vacation in New York spying on his competition at a tradeshow. I made up a story to tell the vendors at the show -- I was planning to start a fundraising call center for politicians and wanted to implement the most advanced technology in the industry. Eighteen years later, my business partner and I were running one of the largest outsourced call center operations in the world! With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, we made it, but there is no way to eliminate the risks of entrepreneurship. There are, however, several key questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you are prepared. 1.) Do I have a business plan? A clear business plan is essential, and the lack of a plan is a frequent cause of business failure. A business plan helps you assess, in advance, how you are going to address key issues. I have found planning software, such as BizPlan, to be very helpful. It may take weeks or even months to develop a quality plan, because your ideas may need a gestation period before fully coming together. Throughout planning, it is important to find a source of objective feedback -- ideally, someone who clearly understands the process. 2.) Do I have the energy and physical stamina for the venture? Owning your own business typically requires long hours, and stamina is essential. It is common to work 12 to 16 hours a day, particularly during the first several years. Be prepared, and be honest with yourself. If you do not already have an exercise regimen, begin one now. 3.) Can I get the money I need to support the business and myself? If your business plan is interesting and enticing, money will be available. Although most banks have little interest in financing a start-up these days, they can help you secure an SBA (Small Business Association) loan. An SBA loan can be valuable, even though it may require repayment before you can raise money elsewhere. Another approach for financing your business is the “family and friends” model. If you go this route, do not overlook the strings attached. Your family dinners and get-togethers can quickly turn into shareholder meetings, particularly when your business is struggling! There are numerous other options. Couples with two incomes may be able to independently afford the transition of one spouse into business ownership. You may be able to fund the business yourself, especially at the outset. Several years ago, I left my call center business, because it no longer filled my passion. I began my new business, executive coaching for entrepreneurs, by using money earned from my first venture. 4.) Does my family support this? It is important that your family truly understand the demands of business ownership. There are subtle differences, for example, between working long hours for someone else and working long hours for yourself. "My boss needs this done by tomorrow; I have to miss Johnny’s game" becomes "I need to get this done by tomorrow; I have to miss Johnny’s game." Before writing your plan, make sure all your stakeholders are aware of the details. 5.) How do I feel about making critical decisions and being responsible for others? Owning a business requires constant decision making, often with no time for self-reflection or opinion gathering. Depending on the business, you may become responsible for other people’s livelihoods. Their families will count on their incomes, and your decisions and behaviors will significantly influence their lives. You will no longer be responsible for your family alone, but for all families supported by your business. From experience, I can tell you that this is more stressful than you might imagine! 6.) Am I willing to do things I have no business doing? Owning a business may force you to learn subjects and perform tasks that have never been your forte. Aside from French, accounting was my worst subject in school. Today, I am quite good at understanding numbers, purely because accounting skills are critical to successful business ownership. Similarly, I quickly learned to repair computers when we could initially not afford a service contract. If you resist doing things that you do not know how to do, reflect hard on your decision to start a business. 7.) Is your soul calling you? I have always admired those who just “knew” it was their time, almost as though their souls were calling them. They reached a point when they could no longer work for someone else. Your soul may be calling you. Have you begun arriving to work with your body, but not with your mind? Are you working to earn money, but dreading every moment of it? These are potential signals that it is your time. Just remember, however, your soul does not give a “Get out of writing a business plan” pass. Remember, your business plan is essential.

         
    Ask don t tell leadership why do i need a business plan

     

    Why you need a business plan!!! Q: In last week’s column, you gave advice about starting a business, and you kept preaching about writing a business plan. I own a business, I don’t have a plan, and I’m doing just fine. What’s the big deal? A: How do you know your business is doing “fine” if you do not have a business plan? This is like a runner stating that he is “fast” when asked his running pace. Quality and success cannot be measured without having benchmarks and goals. A business plan provides both, allowing you to compare your outcomes to your goals. Without a plan, it is all too easy to keep moving the bar for yourself. In the words of Alan Lakein, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Business owners may neglect planning for a variety of reasons. They may dislike making decisions, or they may worry about how the plan will reflect their success. An owner may feel anxious about documenting (and making “official”) job descriptions, lines of authority, budgets, and marketing plans. An entrepreneur may dread such control measures, feeling that a business plan is just like having a boss! If you build a house without a plan, however, you may find yourself living in what looks like a child’s play fort. Every stage is based on a sudden inspiration, and your new home becomes “curiosity run wild.” A quality architect begins with his or her final product in mind. To build a secure business, you must plan. According to the Small Business Center at Bradley University, 70 to 80 percent of new businesses fail in their first year, and of those that continue past a year, only half survive to five years. Similarly, statistics from Dun & Bradstreet reflect that only 37 percent of businesses with fewer than 20 employees will survive four years, and only 9 percent will survive ten years. In light of such daunting statistics, it seems foolish to take unnecessary risks – like failing to plan. You may still be thinking, “I can’t make a plan, because things change too quickly.” Although constant change is inevitable in any business, a good plan can be your key to dealing with change. As a sailor, I view a business plan as similar to a centerboard on a small sailboat. Thanks to its centerboard, the boat can continue moving forward, as the winds shift direction; without its centerboard, the boat would flail around and eventually crash. A good plan keeps you consistently moving forward – sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but without crashing! While writing your business plan, you may feel frustrated. After all, you will be writing your goals, without taking immediate action to reach them. You must understand where you are and where you are going, before going anywhere. Writing a plan can be exhausting, too. I guarantee, however, your listless feelings will disappear, as your business transforms from “doing just fine” to “doing very well.” I hope my response to your question is sufficient and gives you an understanding of why I believe a business plan is critical. Below are some questions to consider while developing your plan: • Why do I want to start my own business? • Have I found the right business for me? • Who are my customers? • What do these customers need that the market is not currently providing? • How will I reach them? • What will it take to reach them? • How much will it cost to provide for their unmet needs? • How much are they willing to pay to meet these need? • Can I make money at this business?

         
     
         
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