To Succeed as a Leader, Share the Big Picture

By Walt Grassl

Walt GrasslMike worked for a medium-sized business and went to work every day happy to have a job. But he wasn’t too enthused about his work environment. Employee morale was so-so because most long-time employees were merely going through the motions.

Greg was a friend of Mike’s from college. They both went to work, but in different industries. They stayed in touch on social media and decided to get together for lunch.

Mike picked Greg up at his work place. He felt inspired when he entered Greg’s building. There was an energy that was hard to describe. It was definitely not the same as at his company. He was warmly greeted by the receptionist and waited in the pristine lobby for Greg.

At lunch, Mike asked Greg about his job and what he liked about working there. Greg mentioned that the company has a management philosophy that every employee is important, like the links in a chain. They believe in sharing information that reinforces that message.

Every employee plays a role in the company’s performance. It is important that they know their role. This gives them a sense of purpose. It answers the question, “Why does it matter?” Some people always take great pride in their work. They know it reflects on them. Some people only push themselves when others are relying on them to do their part. Sharing the big picture helps to get the most out of these people. Getting the small things right leads to bigger success.

Here are five different strategies a leader can use to foster a workplace where every employee feels valued and can contribute to the overall vision of the company.

  1. Include all employees in strategy meetings: To the extent possible, involve employees in strategy meetings. When you are contemplating a change in the company’s direction, modifying one or more processes or seeking new methods to improve delivery, involve the people who perform the tasks before decisions are finalized. They are liable to push back. When they do, use your wisdom and judgement to determine if the push back is valid. If it is valid, figure out a better path forward. This will prevent mistakes that save time and reduce waste. If it is the natural reaction to resist change, deal with it now. You will avoid passive-aggressive behavior that will sabotage the path forward. Done right, you will earn the respect and buy-in of your team members. However, things like impending job actions (layoffs, promotions, transfers) must never be shared until it is time. When you are otherwise open, the need for discretion will be respected.
  2. Stress the importance of every position: A good leader knows how every employee contributes to the overall performance of the company. Some employees interface with customers. Others provide a clean and safe work environment. Some create the finished product. All the employees play a part in the success of the company. Good leaders praise the individuals and the teams, both in public and in private, for the significant contribution they make to success of the organization. This is important. Over time, people who don’t deal with the finished product may forget the significance of their role. They need to be reminded.
  3. See the Big Picture: There is a common fallacy in the workplace that one job contributes more than others to the success of the project or company. It is a great thing when employees realize that what they do is important. It is not so good, however, when the needs of the other employees and other affiliated organizations are discounted. Local optimization can result in less than optimal total performance. Explain to your teams the bigger picture. Look at the needs of the other teams and individuals. Understand the other’s position. Explain your organization’s role and the roles of your internal suppliers and internal customers. Keep focused on the end-to-end process, not only your link in the chain.
  4. Your Business Story: The most powerful story for any business is the story of why the company exists. Who founded the company? What problem did the company originally solve? How did the company evolve into its current state? This works for businesses of all sizes. This is effective in external sales presentations. It is also effective in keeping employees motivated. When that story is known and repeated, employees will realize that they are part of growing or preserving a legacy.
  5. Maintain an open-door policy: When you involve employees in strategy, communicate the importance of the roles of each employee and see both the big picture of the company and the reason why the company exists, your employees will see you as someone who not only talks communication, but communicates. You can further enhance that relationship by having an open-door policy. Set boundaries and let people know, but invite people to approach you with their concerns or questions. Maybe they come to you. Maybe you walk around and catch them doing things right.

When you share the big picture, every employee feels valued. They know they play a role in the success of the company. Job satisfaction increases. It costs little to do this and brings back big returns.

Driving back to work, Mike realized that this aspect of work culture was missing from his company. He thought about his role and how it fit into the bigger picture. He felt better about his job. He vowed to look for ways to help his fellow employees understand their roles in the bigger picture, as well.

Walt Grassl is a speaker, author, and performer. He hosts the radio show, “Stand Up and Speak Up,” on the RockStar Worldwide network. Walt has performed standup comedy at the Hollywood Improv and the Flamingo in Las Vegas and is studying improv at the Groundlings School in Hollywood. For more information on bringing Walt Grassl to your next event, please visit www.WaltGrassl.com.

An Integrity Self-Test For Leaders

By Dave Martin

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower

Integrity:

  • It is essential for every leader.
  • It cannot be bought.
  • It cannot be delegated.
  • It is recognized across all cultures, races, and eras.
  • It is wholly unassociated with economic status.
  • It is the ultimate measure of a leader.

Although many people struggle to completely define integrity, most everyone can recognize it. You know someone you trust completely. You know someone whose word is his or her bond. You know someone who would not compromise. You know someone who would tell the truth, would stand by their promises, and would keep their agreements, even when it hurt them. Integrity is doing the right thing. The question we all ask ourselves is, “Are we that ‘someone’ other people think of when asked to name a person of integrity?”

The following self-test has five questions to ask yourself. These answers are for you alone, and the only way for the test to work is for you to answer the questions honestly and transparently. It is not about perfection. It is not about comparison. Integrity is personal. If, as you read the following questions, you begin to think that your initial personal integrity evaluation was perhaps optimistic, do not despair. Integrity is built over a lifetime of doing the right thing. Appreciate that your attention has been drawn to these areas and let it make your future decisions more considered and intentional.

How would you react in the following scenarios?

  • You have just heard an extremely compromising—but unfounded—bit of information about the guy at your office who has the position you desire. Should he move on, you have a very strong possibility of being promoted to his position. This move would almost double your current salary. Furthermore, you have never liked the guy. Do you casually share the gossip?
  • You were delayed at the office, then you were stuck in traffic for an extra 45 minutes, and you have a dinner engagement that is pressing. As you walk in the door, the phone rings and your teen says, “It’s for you. It’s that insurance guy that talks forever!” You say, “Just tell him I was delayed, and I’m not home yet.” Yes or no?
  • You have a small team of direct reports, and you are responsible for their reviews, salary raises, and bonus amounts. Last year, you told your sales guy that if he doubled his sales, you would double his bonus. To your surprise, he showed up at today’s review with a documented increase in sales of twice his number from the previous year. Although you clearly have not kept up with his monthly sales, you do know that the bonus amount you were allocated is not enough to cover his increase without decreasing your own. Do you explain that you are delighted with his work, promise great things in his future, and give him a moderate increase? Or do you keep your word and double his bonus, even though you are personally left with a fraction of what you had anticipated?
  • On your way back to the office from an early meeting, you stop for coffee. The line is long, and by the time you have your latte, you sincerely wish you had opted for the drive through. You hand the barista a $20, and she gives you change. As you are leaving, you realize that instead of giving you a $10 and change, she mistakenly gave you a $20 and change. Do you go back to return the extra $10, or do you consider it your lucky day? After all, you did have to wait.
  • Your child desperately wants to play in the city soccer league, and the teams are based on your geographic location. The team roster for your area is full, but the team where your sister lives has one remaining opening. Do you put her address on the application so your child can play soccer this year?

Integrity. It is a quality of being—not of doing—but the great paradox is, it is completely based on what one does. It has been said that unless a leader has integrity, they are just a manager. This statement may be viewed through many lenses, but certainly, the true determination of a leader is in the loyalty of his followers. To engender that willingness to follow, integrity is indeed essential.

Integrity is doing the right thing, every time. It is being upstanding and honorable. Great leaders have integrity. This means they will do exactly what they say they will do. Circumstances may change. New situations may arise. The agreement may no longer be beneficial. Nevertheless, the great leader will keep his word. He will not compromise his principles for convenience or advantage. Are you a leader of integrity?

Dave Martin, Your Success Coach, is a world-renowned speaker and the international best-selling author of 12 Traits of the Greats and Another Shot. For over 25 years, Dave has been a mentor, inspirational speaker, coach, and business leader. Using these experiences, Dave shares timeless truths, wrapped in humor and delivered with passion, teaching people how to pursue and possess a life of success. For more information on Dave, please visit www.davemartin.org.

Twenty-First Century Leadership Intelligence

By Magi Graziano

Magi GrazianoBeing an effective leader of people in today’s world seems to be much more complicated than in years past. In the previous century, for the vast majority, work was approached as a means for survival. The level of employee engagement did not dictate how long they stayed in the role. That’s different today, however. Working class people are always looking for more stimulating and rewarding work, as well as inspiring work environments where they can make a difference and grow themselves and their careers.

Global workforce surveys report that highly qualified, motivated people chose to work for companies that build a strong, inspiring culture and that monitor and address both workplace culture and climate issues as they arise. If recruitment and retention of highly qualified, motivated people is one your organization‘s initiatives, leadership intelligence ought to be another. They go hand in hand.

Leaders in the early twenty-first century face unprecedented challenges. They must be able to lead three completely different generations of people, all with different operating contexts and outlooks on what work is all about. Today’s leaders must not only understand their competitors for customers, they must also understand their competitors for the talent. Twenty-first century leaders must have well-honed human awareness acumen and call on it moment-by-moment to inspire, enroll and engage their employees. These leaders must understand the systemic impacts of their company ‘climate’ and be willing to look deeper to understand cultural norms that are impeding agility and innovation. They must have the finesse to weave the day-to-day task work into the big picture and inspire their people to give it their all for the sake of the mission. Today’s leaders need to understand people at their core like never before.

Leadership Intelligence relies on your ability to grow, learn, and master new ways to lead people, and there are three tenets to consider when boosting it: Self-awareness, Executive Brain Function, and Response Agility.

1) Self–awareness: Self-awareness begins with the curiosity and courage to hear what works and does not work about your leadership and the culture that exists in the organization. Once you become aware of your competitive talent advantages and your talent barriers from the eyes of your people, you are equipped to take powerful action. Self-awareness allows you to leverage your talent and intervene when and where necessary to remove those personality ticks that are in the way of your true leadership potential.

Culture and climate awareness opens the door for you to see what is really going on and intervene in the cultural norms and barriers that are in the way of employee engagement, innovation, and synchronicity. When you are curious and courageous you begin to ask the tough questions and hear the tough answers. When you do this, you begin to see what “blind spots” may be hidden from your view and you learn what you to that sabotages or impedes your leadership effectiveness.

Self-Awareness is the doorway to emotional intelligence and it gives you access to real improvement as well as personal and professional development. Self-Awareness is not always easy. In almost every case with every human being there are aspects of personality or behavior that has a negative impact on others, and with an authentic look in the mirror an aware leader can begin to take responsibility for that negative impact. Being aware of our negative behaviors, alone, is insufficient. Taking responsibility for the impact of those behaviors, asking for forgiveness and working to shift those limiting ways of being is where Leadership Intelligence begins. Once a leader has mastered self-awareness they optimize their ability to leverage situational awareness; which is fundamental to assessing, evaluating and intervening if need be, in the ebbs and flow of the climate and culture of their organization.

2) Executive Brain Function: Optimizing your Executive Brain function is a secret weapon of Leadership Intelligence. The PFC (prefrontal cortex) is where the executive brain operates; it is like the controls in a cockpit. This is the part of our brain where strategic thinking, collaboration, reasoning, and creativity come from. The problem is most leaders learn over time to depend and lean on one hemisphere and become complacent in allowing that hemisphere to run the show. This limits the airplane’s ability to navigate through storms and soar to new heights.

The left hemisphere of our brain is where our organization, categorizing, reasoning, and strategizing come from. It is in the right hemisphere where brainstorming, innovation, collaboration, and relationship abilities are housed. When a leader is aware of their goals and visions as well as in control (conscious) of their thoughts, responses, and well-being—and the leader uses both hemispheres of their executive brain through right/left hemisphere integration—their leadership intelligence and effectiveness skyrockets. When a leader is utilizing all of their capacities, they see things they might not see and are more equipped to respond to climate and culture barriers and infringements.

3) Response Agility: Response Agility is the ability to respond in an appropriate, controlled manner—regardless of the current stress or breakdown the leader is facing. Being agile with response and reaction is key to effective leadership. Flat line reaction is not appropriate for all situations. Screaming and yelling is not appropriate for any situation. Anger and frustration might be needed at times, and curiosity and collaboration may be needed at other times.

Agility in your response means that you have trained yourself to think before reacting. Effective leaders ask themselves, “What is needed now?” This has everything to do with situational awareness and appropriate reaction. When stress hits the fan at work, a leader who has a handle on how they respond, and can coach others in this manner, is a leader who is positively contributing to a healthy company climate and culture. Response agility takes discipline, awareness, new habit formation, and commitment and is a core component of Leadership Intelligence.

Being a mission-driven leader who inspires people to give their best in service of a compelling vision is a key element of today’s most successful leaders. They know that most people they hire are not coming to work simply for a paycheck; these leaders have a keen awareness that many people they hire are coming to work to fulfill their individual purpose in a way that supports the organizational purpose. Today’s highly effective leaders understand how to inspire spirit de corps and leverage their communications with people to do so. They utilize their people intelligence to tie work responsibilities and tasks to the overall intention for and strategy of the business. Last, these leaders understand the difference between climate and culture and have the aptitude to know how and when to intervene in both.

Learning the fundamentals of how people operate and how to inspire them is the easy part. Mastering those skills is leadership intelligence. Turning your leadership intelligence into your competitive talent advantage is the number one way to impact recruitment and retention of the best people.

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of Conscious Hiring® and Development, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provides her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than 20 years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information on Magi please visit www.keenalignment.com.

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5 Traits of Great Business Leaders

By Dave Martin

Dave Martin“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” – Ray Kroc

Two people can grow up in the same town, attend the same schools, hold the same social status, have parents with very similar incomes, beliefs, and family values, yet one individual will excel in business far beyond the level of his peer. One will succeed; one will settle. One will rise; one will remain. One will control; one will conform. What is the difference? What makes one an outstanding business leader and the other an average employee?

There are five traits that are common in uncommon achievers, and all five are actions and attitudes that set apart the individual of accomplishment and success. The best way to identify these traits and be able to recognize them in yourself, your peers, or your employees is to understand the actions that are a product of the characteristics. The following five actions and accompanying traits portray the exceptional manager and great leader.

1) The great business leader will BELIEVE. He believes in his mission, he believes in his plans, and most of all, he believes in himself. Throughout history, the people who have achieved success are the people who have been sustained by a strong, unshakable belief in themselves. They believed in their own talents and abilities. They believed in what they felt called to do, and these great men and women believed in themselves—even though others around them opposed them or failed to support them. Their MINDSET was the greatest factor in determining their outcome.

Each person has the power to choose what he will believe about his own potential and what he will think about his own life. Beliefs shape attitude, and one’s attitude determines whether life is seen as an ongoing series of obstacles or opportunities. The greats choose to believe in themselves and choose to have a positive mindset, anticipating and seeking out challenges, with the confidence and unwavering belief that they have the ability to win.

2) The great business leader will THINK big. He has the consistent habit of imagining a solution that has not been tried, of devising an explanation that has not been proven, or of creating a result that goes against conventional thinking. He has the ability to dream and to move away from the expected into the realm of experiment and discovery. Whether this is a new battlefield tactic, a medical breakthrough, or a fresh marketing strategy, the great leader is open to change and is willing to challenge what currently exists for the potential of a revolutionary discovery.

Great business leaders are people of great IMAGINATION. They are pioneers, and they dare to dream. Discoveries and inventions are made because people dare to dream and intentionally think bigger than their current surroundings.

3) The great business leader will LOOK intently and with total focus. They have complete attentiveness on the results they are working to achieve. Focus equals direction. A person with driving focus is able to let go of everything that does not move them toward their goal. He can say ‘no’ to extraneous distractions and does not let the opinions of those around him deter him from his purpose.

The average person tends to be busy rather than effective and stretched to the limits rather than focused. Great leaders have extraordinary FOCUS. They possess a clearly identified goal, and they move toward that objective with single-mindedness and intense concentration.

4) The great business leader will DO what he says. Great leaders have INTEGRITY. This means they will do exactly what they say they will do. Circumstances may change. New situations may arise. The agreement may no longer be beneficial. Nevertheless, the great leader will keep his word. He will not compromise his principles for convenience or advantage. Because of this, his people trust him, and for a leader to be effective, he must have the trust of his people.

The brilliant Albert Einstein summed up this trait well when he said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”

5) The great business leader will STAND up, stand out, and stand strong. The world does not pay you for what you know; it pays you for what you do. The world does not pay you for your dreams; it rewards your actions and achievements. Great leaders stand up and take action. Great leaders also stand out. They choose not be average; they choose to be exceptional and extraordinary. And great leaders stand strong and lead with COURAGE. Even in the face of doubt and uncertainty, knowing that failure may come, they continue to stand. They endure against the fear of criticism, the fear of failure, and the fear of the unknown. Their courage is greater than their fear, and they prevail in the face of disappointment and setbacks, becoming outstanding mentors and leaders.

So, what is the difference in the two people from the same town and same background? One chose to discover the characteristics of greatness, to develop and practice them, and make them part of his DNA. The other chose to be a spectator in the game of life.

Great leaders believe. They think big, look with focus, do what they say, and stand with courage. These traits and actions are neither acquired nor accomplished by accident. They are the product of diligent effort and concentrated purpose. Winning is intentional. Success is earned. And great leaders are marked by their actions.

Dave Martin, Your Success Coach, is a world-renowned speaker and the international best-selling author of 12 Traits of the Greats and Another Shot. For over 25 years, Dave has been a mentor, inspirational speaker, coach, and business leader. Using these experiences, Dave shares timeless truths, wrapped in humor and delivered with passion, teaching people how to pursue and possess a life of success. For more information on Dave, please visit www.davemartin.org.

6 C’s of a Visionary Organization

By Eliakim Thorpe

Eliakim ThorpePeter and Christine are co-owners who’ve now been in business for more than ten years. They have experienced tremendous growth but recently decided to schedule a meeting to discuss the current state of their organization and how they can remain relevant, competitive, and sustainable in an ever-changing economy.

What began as a meeting to discuss the past successes and current state of the organization turned quickly into a dialogue about an organization not simply driven by revenue margins but a company governed by an organizational vision which becomes the living and breathing force behind its every action.

Vision is the tension between what was, what is, and what will be. It reaffirms an organization’s reason for existence, identifies who it serves, and creates products and services to solve a societal or humanitarian problem. A visionary organization lives in two-worlds: one of purpose and one of profit. This type of organization celebrates it past, embraces its present, and is fueled by its future. It is an organization that is not shackled to the past or its traditions, but is willing to abandon organizational norms to reach its organizational destiny.

Peter and Christine concluded that sustainable, long-standing organizations have a well-developed vision that is ahead of its time, along with a powerful plan for change to remain competitive in a fluid and changing business climate.

Visionary organizations have a ‘roadmap to radical change’. Every successful visionary organization realizes that radical change cannot occur unless an enterprise has a roadmap to successfully reach its destination. To become a visionary organization, there are six elements to create a powerful blueprint for change.

A powerful vision for change must be:

1. Clear: A powerful vision is clear—it creates a mental picture in the mind of your workforce of what it would be like to achieve it. A clearly articulated vision becomes the masterpiece the organization is the painter and the world its canvas. A clear vision uses direct, transparent, straightforward language and meaningful visuals to convey a sense of the desired future state that is easy for the staff to understand and internalize.

2. Compelling: It is important that every organization identifies and articulates a compelling story to ignite change. The story must be able to capture the heart, mind, and soul of its employees. It should create a sense of urgency based upon the changing marketplace and shifting societal winds; not urgency simply based on financial factors or fierce competition. This isn’t simply a matter of showing people poor sales statistics or talking about increased competition. It is a transparent view of a current undesirable state that paints a picture of what would happen if the organization doesn’t change. The story should connect to the soul of the company and its very reason for existence. It should be so compelling that it creates a type of constructive tension in the heart, mind, and soul of its employees to initiate a profound change for growth. The story becomes the catalyst for change. In its essence, a compelling story inspires the whole organization!

3. Concrete: A concrete vision is defined where an organization is skilled in giving form to a formless and shapeless future reality. A concrete vision awakens the five senses of every employee that produces a tangible and substantial reality that is achievable. It is analogous to being a potter actively shaping the clay, molding it, and transforming it into something tangible that the organization can understand. In the end, a concrete vision uses descriptive, present-tense language and visuals to convey a believable future and desired end state of the organization.

4. Communicated: A well-developed vision may begin in the mind of the organizational leader as an abstract idea but turns into a powerfully communicated vision throughout the company so that everyone understands and can articulate where they are going. To effectively communicate a vision requires an established communication infrastructure that has verbal, written, visual, behavioral, and system components that convey and manage the barriers and progress of the vision. Leadership must regularly communicate and reinforce the vision so that momentum is sustained while undergoing this radical organizational change. Visionary organizations don’t simply see the vision; they become the vision

5. Consented: Every vision articulated must have the ability to mobilize the workforce to accept the idea of the leader. Consensus is in summary taking the idea of the one and making it the idea of the many. It is the ability to use persuasive language to create a vision that is inclusive, open, honest, transparent, and mobilizes the workforce to accept the needed organizational changes to remain relevant in today’s business landscape. Consensus creates a shared responsibility, beginning with the leader, but embraced by all levels of the company. The most powerful visions happen when an entire group or organization is mobilized, unified, linked, and of one mind to ensure that the enterprise reaches its goals.

6. Committed: For a vision to become a reality, people throughout the organization must be willing to voluntarily invest their time, talent, and resources. Leadership must not only cast the vision, carry the vision, and support the vision, but the staff must catch the vision to propel the organization forward in a very profound way.

Whatever the business age of your enterprise, organizations must be more than economically sensitive to the changing business landscape. Companies must be consciously aware of the ripple effects that vision creates. When businesses begin the transformation process, they must honestly appraise their current and present state. Does the current state of the organization align with its future goals? Enterprises must understand the reasoning for why it’s necessary to undertake radical change that is more than prioritizing organizational structures, process, products, and profit, but must include and clearly state the imperative of people and communities as being at the center of any visionary activities.

Throughout history, the catalyst for change has always begun with individuals who foresaw the benefit of developing a visionary organization. The development of a visionary organization resulted in inspired employees, new product innovation, higher revenue margins, increased sales, profit increase, greater market competitiveness, stronger organizational culture, and strong organizational outcomes.

Eliakim Thorpe is a sought-after speaker, consultant, thought-leader and entrepreneur, author, and a leading authority on organizational transformation. He is the creator of the T.H.R.I.V.I.N.G. Organization: A New Philosophy to Transform Organizations, which is both a philosophy and a systematic process to help businesses create frameworks to become transformational—internally and externally. As an IT professional, Eliakim has worked with and consulted for Fortune 10 to Fortune 500 companies such as IBM, Whirlpool, and GM