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Strategic Leadership

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Many great individual performers are rightfully promoted to manager. But you need to understand that there is a difference between being a great performer and leading a team of great performers. In fact, a great leader does not have to be the best performer or know the individual jobs at all. That might be hard for a newly promoted manager to understand. After all if you are a newly appointed manager who had mastered the individual roles of your department you feel that knowledge makes you a better manager. Not so. The qualities that made you a star performer are not the same qualities that will make you an effective leader. Here are leadership philosophies from two well-known management consultants. “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” —Peter Drucker “The...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Fear of change is an emotion that can become paralyzing.   But change is inevitable and all businesses must expect it. You have probably heard it said that what you did to get you to where you are now will not get you to where you want to go next. Changing the right things and taking the right action is crucial. Here are 5 beginning steps to take in the process of change for better results: 1.        Make sure you know what business you are in. Whether you are in real estate, construction and contracting, graphic design, or consulting you must define what you provide to the customer. For example, Kodak should have realized that it was not in the film business but in the image and impression sharing business. In real estate are you selling houses or assisting buyers in improving their lives? 2.        Get in front of change.   The best...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
A high performing team is always created by an effective leader. Conversely, if an organization is full of performance issues you need only to look at leadership to diagnose the cause of the problem. Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great” talks about great companies being great because they are led by what he defines as a “Level 5” leader. Such a leader has all the essential abilities including contributing team member, competent manager, effective leader, and great leader. However, he or she also possess the unique blend of humility and will which is required for true greatness.   Start by hiring the people that fit the mission and vision of your organization and possess shared values. You then must keep them engaged and producing results. Engaged employees will lead to loyal customers and loyal customers will lead to a sustainable business. In today’s world, it is not enough to be...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
If you were just appointed manager what is now your new responsibility? In the earlier times of business and industry the role of a manager was not that complex. The manager oversaw what employees did. People performed or were fired. This traditional boss is no longer effective and no longer welcome. Management today is more complex. There are really two parts: management and leadership. As manager you are responsible for the performance of your team, your business, or your company. In essence, the buck stops with you. That does not mean that you do everything yourself. It also does not mean that you offload your responsibility to your employees. It means that you get results with your people. That means that you must delegate with confidence. You must be confident because you can only delegate tasks and even authority but you can never delegate your responsibility. An effective manager must still...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
All results, good or bad, are the result of the leaders. Think about organizations in the news, both good and bad, and the leader of the organization is heralded or blamed. Yes, the leader sets the tone, the direction, and also models behavior. Positive results are the result of positive leaders. Show me an organization that functions very well and I can show you a positive engaged leader. I recently asked a group of employees in Westchester County NY what was wrong with their company. They replied, “We need positive leadership. We need leadership with people skills.” What does your organization need? Does it need more sales or more profits? Does it need an updated marketing plan that gets results? Does your organizational structure need to change to get business to the next level? Regardless of how you answer these questions one fact is abundantly clear. It is your people who...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Fear of change is an emotion that can become paralyzing.   I am reminded of a story relayed to me by a Westchester County NY CEO. The business has had years of successful sales and profits. Although the long standing business model had produced great sales and profits, lately there had been a small decline in sales and profits. Since the business was making money the CEO reasoned let’s just see what happens. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. Unfortunately, with this business and others there are constant changes in the economy and market. You can wait for change to force you to do something and then react. But that is not the best option. The best option is to predict and get in front of change. These are some of the things you should you should be doing proactively: 1.        Make sure you know what business you are in. Whether...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Are you doing the job you are paid to do? If you were promoted to management recently this is a fair question. There a large difference between being a great individual performer and a great manager and leader. In 1969, Lawrence Peter wrote a humorous book titled The Peter Principle in which he postulated that, in a hierarchy people tend to be promoted to the level of their incompetence. He noted that although this is not planned it is the unintended consequence. Companies make a flawed assumption that because the employee was a great individual performer in the previous job that he or she will adapt and become a leader of the team. Inevitably, according to the Peter Principle, the person ends up being promoted to a job where they are no longer competent. This is referred to as their "level of incompetence". The employee has no chance of further promotion,...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Are you running as fast as you can but finding that no one is following you? Worse than that, are they running the other way? C, that you empower your engaged employees, that they will in turn create loyal customers leading to growth and success. Focused Leader - You may be the owner, the manager, or CEO but that does not mean you are seen as the leader. You appoint yourself CEO but your team will follow you if you are the leader.   As leader you will create vision, model behavior and inspire results. With your inspiration people recognize your leadership. You will be creating an environment where people will join your team. They see the purpose of what they are supposed to do and understand the vision as well as the values of the organization for which they work. Today’s fast-moving business environment demands that the effective leader be both,...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
What makes a great leader? Many people debate that there are certain leadership traits. Even if that is true these traits have most likely been developed. The development of your leadership depends on the environment such as type of organization, team demographic, and nature of mission. One trait of a successful leader could be a liability in someone else’s leadership. A great leader is effective and effectiveness means understanding the situation, the team, and the desired results. Rather than being born a leader the traits needed can, most of the time, be developed. Traits like knowledge and skills, however, do not guarantee success. It is necessary for a leader to develop successful habits. Just as there are habits of highly successful people there are also habits of highly successful leaders.   Here are seven habits of highly effective leaders. A Leader always does the right thing. That is one of the principles...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
What causes the difference between a high performing team and one that is dysfunctional and full of performance issues? There could be a number of causes but one cause for sure would be poor leadership. An organization is only as good as its people. Your first role as leader is to select the right people. After you have hired the right people your challenge as a leader is to keep them engaged and producing results. Engaged employees will lead to loyal customers and loyal customers will lead to a sustainable business. In our business climate it is not enough to be good, you must exceed customers’ expectations. This takes a coordinated effort of individuals that work together toward a common goal. You may have heard it said that there is no “I” in team. This is true and it means that individuals who are qualified and intelligent but do not work...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
If your team is not following you then, perhaps, you are not leading them. When I consult with business owners in Westchester County New York often I hear comments about getting the staff to do the right things. Sometimes an owner is willing to place all the blame on the staff being lazy, unmotivated, or the like. Fortunately, most will ask how they can improve their ability to get the team behind them. You can change things by learning how to become a focused leader. A focused leader empowers engaged employees who in turn create loyal customers leading to growth and success. A Focused Leader - You may have the title of manager but that does not mean you are seen as the leader. As managers we can influence the process through which people recognize our leadership by creating an environment where people will join “the team” because they see the...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Are you spending so much time working IN your business that you never get around to working ON your business? Michael Gerber discusses this in his book “The E Myth Revisited”, discusses the reasons. The e-myth or the entrepreneurial myth as described by Gerber incorrectly assumes that the desire of the new business owner or entrepreneur, plus capital, plus a profit goal will result in success. But this has not spelled success for business and the lack of the true understanding of what it takes has caused businesses to fail. Some businesses may survive due to external dynamics and timing but they will become stagnant and the owner will feel like a hamster on a wheel. There is a lack of entrepreneurial leadership. For example, in the restaurant industry there are numerous great cooks and chefs that feel that because they know how to create a great meal that that they...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
According to a Harvard professor, William George effective leaders are authentic leaders. Authentic leaders are self-aware, practice their values and principles, seek criticism and “stay grounded.” Above all, they empower others to become leaders themselves. Strong leaders have courage to challenge the status quo and point out failures in the organization. They develop and coach others and build positive collaborative relationships. Teams that are high performing are collaborative. To illustrate the importance of team collaboration let’s consider a flock of geese. A flock of geese has a common goal – fly south for the winter. They can get where they’re going much easier by using the strength of the group – they fly in a V formation in order to add 70% greater flying range. They stay in formation – if a goose falls out of formation, it immediately feels the drag and quickly returns to the formation. They take turns...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
You want the truth? “You can’t handle the truth!” This well-known line was uttered by Jack Nicholson in the move, A Few Good Men. This line hits a little too close to home for some organizations. While some organizations ask themselves what they can do to help their organizations align there are others that this it is always the wrong people and that they (the organizational leadership) know what is right. Would you get defensive if an outside consultant asked you questions to get to the root cause of your problems? It is easier for companies with retention problems, for example, to focus on compensation issues. But, according to Gallup around 30% of employees are engaged at work. That means that 70% are not engaged in their jobs at your company. Recently Gallup released a new survey on employee engagement. When I read the commentary I could see that engagement is...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Does your leadership lack inspiration, innovation, and the ability to adapt to change? As a leader your role is to navigate your organization or your team through the uncertainties. Sometimes the good and necessary management skills such as planning, directing and controlling create roadblocks because they are missing the inspirational leadership. The reason that a group of employees is not achieving desired outcomes is usually traced back to the leadership. That’s right. If all of the students fail the exam, then the fault lies with the teaching. Like students you and your staff may not be on the same page. You may be a great manager but you may fail as a leader. We can influence the process through which people recognize our leadership by creating an environment where people will join “the team” because they see the purpose. They understand the vision and the “big picture” as well as the...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked, “Am I a person who inspires and encourages others?”   If the answer to that question is no, then you may not have the power to lead. You may have the management role with the authority but there is a difference between power and authority. As the owner or manager you have the authority by virtue of your role. However, your power is granted by those on your team or those you supervise. Have you noticed there are always certain people who are sought out or considered “go to” people. They may have no title at all and people seem to value their opinions and respect them. These are individuals who have been granted power by others by virtue of their leadership skills. How much power do you do you have? Why not find out. Ask your colleagues or employees to give you...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
George S. Patton said, “Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” As a business leader you need to be in control of your business BUT you don’t need to be a control freak. Taking that route leads to being overwhelmed. As a sole entrepreneur you, of course, need to control everything but once you decide to grow being a control freak will hold you back. Once you hire employees your job becomes managing results of others rather than doing everything yourself. If you don’t do that effectively you will spend all of your time driving the fire truck and putting out fires. You’ll worry about how to do every detail but you will lose sight of the big picture. Why is this problematic? If you hire a new employee but continue to try to do everything without delegating,...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
In previous blogs I have discussed by belief that leaders are made. But not all are made the same. When I speak with my Westchester County NY business leaders about traits that make a good leader no one can agree. The only trait that is agreed upon is having empathy. What do successful leaders have if they don’t have similar traits? All successful leaders have the ability to set goals and achieve results. Here is a results based model of leadership proven to produce success.   It begins with setting goals through your organization's strategic plan that are focused on your vision. In this process you define the desired results from your team members. It continues by aligning the people and the processes to ensure its realization. The goal is to have all of your operations linked to the plan. Then virtually everything that happens should work toward achieving that Plan (Vision)....

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Doing a business plan is more than putting together a document. I needed to point that out recently when a Westchester County NY business owner asked me about the need for a business plan document so that the business could raise cash. But a smart business needs more than a document. It needs a strategic plan. A strategic plan will consider the business today, look into the future, and have the way set out to create the future. In order to remain successful a business must have that plan to be successful now and in the future. Here are some of the things I discuss when helping my clients with a strategic plan: 1.        Make sure you know what business you are in. Whether you are in real estate, construction and contracting, graphic design, or consulting you must define what you provide to the customer. For example, Kodak should have realized...

Posted by on in Strategic Leadership
Leaders are not born, they are made! The good news is that you have the potential to become a great leader. There are events that appear to make the leader or, perhaps, the person assumes the role at the right time. Such a time was 9/11/2001. Were Mayor Giuliani and President Bush leaders who appeared at just the right time? Or were they shaped and created by circumstances long before 9/11 and had the resolve do what needed to be done? What about George S. Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower? They were both considered to be great leaders because they got the results that were needed from the role they filled. Patton charged at lightning speed across the battle field. On the other hand Eisenhower was a great consensus builder who melded a very difficult military and political alliance of cantankerous personalities. At the moment of birth do we know whether...

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