Tag Archives: leadership

Want to Grow as a Business Leader? Employ the BRAVE Model

By Jeffrey W. Foley

Jeffrey W. FoleyWilliam had never felt fear before. He had just been promoted to President of the company that had grown dramatically over the past three years and they were not ready for this rapid expansion. While he felt confident that he was the best qualified for this position, he lost sleep thinking of all the leadership challenges his people were expecting him to fix. He saw himself in the image of the Greek Titan Atlas holding up the globe. He was going to need help.

The good news is William was not afraid to ask for help, and had a mentor he could turn to for that assistance. His mentor happened to be a career army officer who had developed a simple, powerful, proven model for developing leaders in the business world. He titled it BRAVE—fitting for an army guy.

What keeps you up at night? What is causing you to feel pain?

Some of the most significant leadership pains business leaders suffer from include: the shortfall in achieving desired results, the inability to attract and retain quality talent, the lack of leadership skills in managers, lack of a values-based culture that enables bad business decisions and unethical behaviors, the lack of an engaged workforce, and the lack of an inspired high-performing executive team.

The BRAVE model helped William tackle his challenges, as his company is on track for a record setting year. The model can also assuage your fears as a leader, and put you on the path to running a more stable, profitable organization.Being a great leader is tough business. It takes courage. It takes bravery. Click To Tweet

Be a leader of character

Character is at the heart of being an effective leader. It represents who you are and what you stand for. No amount of leadership or technical competency can overcome a lack of character. It begins with a comprehensive understanding of yourself—a necessary condition before you can effectively lead others. Character is ultimately defined by those values or deep beliefs that guide behavior. For leaders to be followed, they must secure the trust and confidence of their followers. The best leaders of character define and communicate those values, then bring them to life through living them, and reward others who live them.

Reinforce leader competencies

Clearly-documented leadership competencies–and their associated behaviors—make it abundantly apparent what is most important to an organization. Core competencies highlight the fundamentals of solid leadership for everyone throughout the organization. There are additional competencies commensurate with a leader’s level of responsibility. As one progresses up in the organization, responsibilities and authorities change. At the executive level, the environment is characterized by increased complexity, higher risk, greater uncertainty, and less direct control over subordinate echelons. There is risk to any organization if expectations of competencies are left up to chance. Identification of them and gaining proficiency in them requires training, tireless practice, and feedback.

Attack with a leader development program

 Over the past 243 years, the army recognized the value in investing heavily in the development of leaders at all ranks. Good developments programs help prepare the current and future leaders to be prepared to lead teams and set the conditions for the organization’s future success. Once developed, rigorous execution of the program is paramount. The best leaders recognize the importance of sustained investment in the development of their people. Success stems from a culture where leaders are equipped with the mindset and passion for developing others. Leaders own the task of developing their people and cannot ignore it.

Value coaching excellence

One-on-one coaching is arguably the most important skill a leader must possess to be effective in developing others. The best leaders are great communicators who set the example for what right looks like. Great coaching skills do not come naturally to many leaders; they must be learned and practiced. When leaders ignore or short-change this critical task, their people fail to grow and reach their full potential. The consequences continue to expose themselves as their people will also fail to learn how to coach their own subordinates. The entire organization suffers. The keys to coaching success include creating a positive and open communication environment, agreeing of clear goals, and engaging in consistent dialog focused on assessment of performance and inspiring actions for the future.

Embrace trusted relationships

Trusted relationships between leaders and their people trump everything when it comes to effective leadership. A leader’s influence over others will not occur if their mutual trust is absent. For leaders to be trusted, they need to be leaders of character, competent in technical and leadership skills, genuinely care for their people, and exercise humility. The best leaders have these qualities. Trusted relationships remain in place for life. Soldiers will follow their leaders into the most dangerous places, under the most extraordinary conditions if they trust their leaders. Earning that trust is a critical task and must be mastered to be a leader in the army.

Why BRAVE? Francis Scott Key is the author of the famous words “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” He wrote those words in 1814, and since 1931, they have been sung as the national anthem of the United States. The word has powerful meanings. Being a great leader is tough business. It takes courage. It takes bravery. There are powerful lessons to be learned from the US Army. This model helped William achieve the success he was seeking, and can help you.

Jeff Foley is a recognized speaker, executive leadership coach, and author of Rules and Tools for Leaders. He is a West Point graduate and retired as a Brigadier General having served thirty-two years in the Army. Drawing on his unique military experience, Jeff uses his singular insight to build better leaders. For more information on Jeff Foley, visit www.loralmountain.com.

The Deeper, Engaged Way to Onboard New Employees

By Cordell Riley

The days and weeks after employees start at your company represent a time of unique opportunity. Can you teach them new systems and skills? Of course you can. But have you also stopped to consider all the other important goals you can reach during the onboarding period? To name just a few, you can…

  • Grow and encourage adoption of your culture
  • Get new hires to understand, promote and believe in your brand
  • Sow the seeds for outstanding customer service
  • Cultivate the kind of spirit and energy that customers will value and love
  • Hear creative ideas from new employees who have a fresh perspective
  • Build retention by proving that your company is a great place to work
  • Set up communication channels with new hires that will improve operations throughout your company

Those are only a few of the opportunities you have during employees’ first weeks at your company. But how can you take advantage of them? Here are eight approaches that work.

Start by Having a Well-Defined Onboarding System

Many companies just wing it, with negative results. Still other companies see onboarding as little more than filling out forms, setting up company email accounts and showing new employees to their desks. Because new hires start their jobs without a deeper understanding of what is expected of them, they make mistakes that quickly become costly habits that must be corrected later on.

Many problems can be avoided if you set up a structured onboarding system that functions as high-level training. On their start days, new hires can meet individually with HR representatives to fill out forms, for example, and then meet as a group to watch videos and learn about your company, its brand and its values. After lunch, they can be trained in the basic skills their jobs demand; watching training videos, engaging in work simulations and working alongside current employees can work well to reach those goals. And after day one, they should attend regular follow-ups to address problems and reinforce basic concepts and skills.

The operative strategy is to clearly define ahead of time exactly the skills and behaviors you need, and to create a concise mini-curriculum that tracks to them.

Set up Genuine Mentoring Relationships between New Hires and Successful Current Employees

Remember, mentors’ goals should not be to get new hires to imitate what they do, or even to adhere to company systems. Their purpose is to discover what new employees would like to accomplish at your company, and to help them reach those goals. In short, mentoring is not about the mentors or strictly about your company, but about the employees who are being coached.

Find Ways to De-layer and Free Up Communications

Invite new employees to brainstorming sessions where their new ideas are collected, posted, discussed—and put into action when appropriate. Also consider setting up de-layered systems—like virtual suggestion boxes on your company intranet—where employees at all levels can present suggestions directly to top company executives. If employees can only submit ideas to their immediate managers, you have created a communication structure that carries a risk of demotivating front-line and entry-level personnel; just one supervisor who stifles new ideas can do great damage to your company.

Unless you commit your efforts to becoming an “employer of choice”—a company that people talk about and would love to work for—you are damaging your profits, operations and ultimately, your success. Click To Tweet

Don’t Do Training on the Cheap

One thing is for certain: if you are only handing out employee handbooks and having new employees fill out withholding forms, you are missing out on some great opportunities. If you can train every new retail salesperson to sell just 10% more on every order, for example, that could result in hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of new business company-wide, maybe even more. Or if you can set up mobile training that sends out pings to remind employees to use specific skills they learned in training, you could increase your training ROI dramatically. The lesson? Spending a little more to deliver great training is a money-maker, not a cost.

Within Your Budget, Customize Training for Each Employee

Even”standardized” training can be enriched by creating individualized training elements for each new employee. You can evaluate the skills of your new hires during training and address them directly, for example, or help employees overcome anxiety about performing certain parts of their new jobs. Investing just a little time to give training extra value can go a long way toward getting new employees up to speed faster.

Stress and Reinforce Your Mission Statement, Vision Statement and Strategic Company Plan

The onboarding period is a highly effective time to share the big picture about your company and to get employees to buy into your most important goals and priorities. Instead of waiting for employees to discover these critical priorities, start talking about them soon after new hires come on board.

Consider Creating a Career Plan for all New Employees

You won’t want to do this for seasonal or short-term employees. But for employees whom you would like to stay with you for the long term, consider sitting down with each of them to create individual career-development plans that spell out what they need to do to be promoted within your organization. You could say, for example, that all retail salespeople can apply for management training after six months of employment, or that your company will provide technical training to help them move into their desired career path at your company.

Millennials, especially, are more likely to stay with your company for the long term if they know the ropes and understand what it takes to build a long-term relationship with your organization.

Evaluate Whether You Are Acting like a Great Employer

This is something you should always do, not only when you are training a new class of employees. So take the time now to benchmark your company climate, benefits, quality of work/life balance and other factors against other companies. Unless you have the best of everything, you cannot expect your employees to commit their hearts and minds to working with you for the long term.

You see, retention starts with you, not with your employees. Unless you commit your efforts to becoming an “employer of choice”—a company that people talk about and would love to work for—you are damaging your profits, operations and ultimately, your success.

Cordell Riley is sought-after keynote speaker, and the Owner and President of Tortal Training, a leading training development company he founded in Charlotte, North Carolina. Tortal uses strategic engagement methodologies and specializes in developing mobile training platforms for organizations with distributed workforces. A recognized training expert with extensive experience in the service, automotive and franchising sectors, Cordell has spent more than twenty years helping thousands of companies achieve outstanding success through training. For more information about Cordell Riley, please visit: www.Tortal.net.

Top Ten Tips to Lift Your Leadership

By Elizabeth McCormick

Lift your leadership by Elizabeth McCormickGood leaders are hard to find, and great leaders are even more elusive. Whether there’s a team reporting to you or not, you have the ability to lift your leadership, your level of respect with your peers while also improving your capacity for greater leadership opportunities.

To enhance your own abilities as a leader, begin with an intentional mindset of being open to new ways of thinking and new ways of interacting with your peers, your team, and your organization as a whole.

To lift your leadership, start with this list of “Top Ten Tips:”

1. Listen to Your Team: It’s not necessary for leaders to know everything, but you do need to know what the individual skillsets are in the members of your team, so you will know who to approach to get the answer you need.

It is also important to ask your team for input, and listen to what they have to say. They will appreciate being included in any decision madeespecially if it affects their workload, their department, their budget, or the amount of time they have allocated. When your team feels like a valued part of the process, it helps improve both their personal connection and overall commitment to the desired results.

2. Make Tough Decisions: Your team may not like every decision you make, but don’t let that scare you into not making the right decisions, or worse, no decisions at all. For any decision you make, do your research and get feedback from your team. If you are able, explain your decisions diplomatically and address the concerns.

At the very least, your team will feel informed, and be thankful the decision wasn’t theirs to make.

3. Delegate to Team Members: There are many leaders who diminish their potential by hoarding tasks and duties because they’re afraid of what others will think if they ‘can’t do it all.’  This is a misconception that can lead to burnout, and even worse, cause your peers and teammates to lose their trust, respect, and loyalty to you as a leader.

Great leaders are also great delegators. If you are not sure what you can delegate, here’s a general process for you to consider:

Make a list of your specific tasks and duties.

Put your name next to the ones that you absolutely must do yourself. For example: signing checks, attending executive meetings, and certain high-level approvals are not tasks and duties you can delegate.

For the tasks that are left, think of people on your team and their specific skillsets. If they are capable of doing a task at least 80 percent as well as youthen delegate that task.

Empower your team with delegated tasks and duties while also allowing them autonomy needed (meaningdon’t micro-manage them). Be sure to also give them the authority necessary to ask questions and get help if needed. People will surprise you with their skill and abilities when given the trust in an opportunity.

4. Admit When You’re Wrong: Everyone makes mistakes and leaders are no different. When you make a mistake, be up-front with your team. Your honesty and vulnerability will help open a pathway to better trust and communication.

When you show your willingness to trust them with your mistakes, they in turn will feel more valued as a team member and work with you to help correct mistakes, and ensure a lesson is learned for everyone involved. To lead a team effectively, you need to be a part of the team. Click To Tweet

5. Show Appreciation: When your team members do good work, make sure you let them know you noticed. Write a handwritten thank you note, give them a special gift card, and take time to recognize them publicly. To make an even bigger impression send their spouse a handwritten note sharing how important they were to the team’s success.

Appreciation goes a long way, and as you incorporate a culture of gratitude, your staff will reciprocate that appreciation through loyalty and a job well done.

6. Be Willing to Get Your Hands Dirty: The most successful leaders won’t ever ask a team member to do something that they aren’t willing to do themselves. People in general acquire much more respect for leaders who aren’t afraid to jump into to accomplish any task needed.  

This doesn’t mean you’re doing the work for them, but at those critical moments when help is needed, your assistance can help motivate your team to reachor even exceedthe goals set.

7. Mentor Your Team Members: If you can help your members to become more successful, the whole team will benefit. The more you invest into your team members, the more they will be willing to give in return.

As you lead by example in a mentorship role for those in your organization, others with similar skills and capabilities will follow your lead. This creates a culture where current and upcoming leaders develop a mindset of helping others succeed.

8. Bond Through a Social Cause: To lead a team effectively, you need to be a part of the team. Start a new social cause as a team-building activity and make sure you lead the way.

To add even more lift to your leadership, adopt a charity to support within your local community and get away from the office where you can get to know your team members on a more personal level.

9. Let Your Team See You Learn: Leaders are learners. Let your team observe you reading a book or a trade publication in the break room, and encourage them to do the same.

You could also start an optional book club focused on self-improvement and leadership books where you can discuss how those books have made an impact on you, and how they helped change the way you lead.

10. Keep Meetings as Short as Possible: Everyone generally has a list of tasks and duties that take up their entire workday. Although necessary, meetings can be seen as disruptive and non-productive, especially if nothing was essentially accomplished.

Meetings should have a specific purpose and agenda that involves everyone in the room. Therefore, the more you respect the time of your team, the more they will respect you as a leader. You will lift your leadership.

Improving your capacity to lead is something that will take intentional effort, and these tips will help you focus in on what matters most.  Your attention to detail is sure to be rewarded in the form of enhanced loyalty, higher respect, and increase the success of you, your team, and the overall organization.

Elizabeth McCormick is a Keynote Speaker specializing in Leadership, Sales and Safety presentations. She was recently named number four on the list of Leadership Experts to Follow Online.  A former US Army Black Hawk Pilot, and author of “The P.I.L.O.T. Method; the 5 Elemental Truths to Leading Yourself in Life;” Elizabeth teaches instantly applicable strategies to boost your employees’ confidence in their own leadership abilities. For more information, please visit: www.YourInspirationalSpeaker.com.

Four Ways to Combat Lukewarm Leadership

By Brian Braudis

The CEO of a software firm was tasked with a major change initiative after a large and lengthy acquisition. The Board of Directors wanted to see a definitive integration plan that included a timeline, and an organizational management plan that would ensure the merging of cultures and continued growth for the long-term.

What followed was a classic case of “lukewarm leadership.” The CEO appeared halfhearted, indifferent and his inconsistencies mounted. The Board would hear positive progress reports from the CEO and senior leadership team members would report the direct opposite. From his weak stance on commitment to the flurry of mixed messages, this CEO earned the moniker “Tepid Tommy.” He seemed to be waiting in the wings for the flawless change initiative plan to find him

Leaders Take Note: Followers pay attention and watch more closely than given credit for. Indifference, lackluster communications and lethargic efforts are often more conspicuous than appreciated. When change is at hand and the future seems unstable, a leader’s performance can either diminish chaos or enflame it. In the backdrop of uncertainty, a mere spark of ambiguity or apathy can ignite the pervading fuel of resistance among the masses. Leaders have a significant role in creating a calm and productive culture. Click To Tweet

Lukewarm leadership is not just a phenomenon of the C-Suite. From the top to the front lines, followers everywhere watch intently. They are tuned-in and sensitive to the message that leadership sends. The leader creates the climate. If an apathetic message is conveyed, the employee will respond in kind. Team members follow in direct correspondence with what they see and feel from leadership.

Here are 4 Ways to Combat Lukewarm Leadership

1. Set the Tone: What you do as a leader has tremendous influence throughout your team, your employees and even your stakeholders. People respond to what you initiate. Begin with the energy and gusto you want to see in others. Demonstrate how much you are willing to give and show that you are duty-bound early and often. Make your messages steadfast. When people see and feel your energy, enthusiasm and promise they will not only buy in, they will help spread your “all-in” message. When you show unbound energy, your team will give more energy. When you are engaged, unwavering and decisive, your team will follow with their engagement, unwavering effort and decisive action.

2. Communicate: Communication is more than a word. It is the standard by which leaders guide, direct, motivate and inspire action. Leadership quite simply depends on communication. Clear, confident, resonant communication will engender trust and followership.

  • Get Specific: Simple and concise is more effective than complicated and confusing. Attention is a precious commodity and time even more so. Hit the high points in your speeches and save the granular details for in person communications.
  • Get Face to Face: Nothing can substitute for face-to-face dialog. Yes, dialog rather than monologue. This does not have to be the top leader. Employees and team members know the demands on leaders and managers. They know the value of authentic live contact and informal dialog where they can see and feel that their message is being received. Your team appreciates being heard.
  • Demonstrate Beyond Words: What you do supersedes what you say. Remember Emerson and his famous dictum, what you do speak so loudly I can’t hear what you say. The proven formula for personal communication is 55 percent body language, 38 percent tone and 7 percent communication is through words. Body language and tone will validate everything that you say. Sending protocol out in a memo is not nearly as effective as walking around and informally sharing your thoughts and expressing yourself on the need for procedure. At bottom, lead at all times and if necessary use words.

3. Be the Island of Commitment in a Sea of Uncertainty: The new economy is well known to leaders. Increased global influence, more demanding customers and disruptive new players are challenges to be surmounted. But to your team members the new economy means uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to anxiety that makes people susceptible to stress, less productive and more vulnerable to conflict. During times of upheaval we need leaders who are anchored in commitment. Team members are quietly watching for the leaders who are islands of commitment in a sea of uncertainty. They bring commitment, a calming presence and their higher perspective to the context of uncertainty. There will always be some degree of uncertainty. But when leaders show resolute certainty in their commitment anxiety drops and morale climbs, team members take note and follow suit.

4. Show Consistent Enthusiasm: Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm. Leaders who show enthusiasm as a way of operating remove any hint of lukewarm. People can visibly see and feel your heart-felt passion, energy and commitment and they buy in. Your team wants to win and they want you to be successful. No one tries to be second. Show consistent enthusiasm and your team reciprocate with buy in and enthusiasm of their own.

Leaders have a significant role in creating a calm and productive culture. Most important, they have the power to conceive, articulate and inspire actions that lift people out of their fears and petty preoccupations. When savvy followers see and feel your energy, commitment and enthusiasm shining through the daily challenges and frustrations, there’s nothing lukewarm about that.

Brian Braudis is a highly sought-after human potential expert, certified coach, speaker and author of High Impact Leadership: 10 Action Strategies for Your Ascent. He has also authored several audio programs from executive leadership development to stress management. Brian believes “leadership” is a verb not a title. Brian’s passionate and inspiring presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of your position or role everyone is a leader. For more information on Brian Braudis, please visit: www.TheBraudisGroup.com

Five Pillars to Success as a Manager

By Jan Makela

Why does your organization exist, and why should anyone care? Organizations exist to perform—period. Be for-profit or non-profit, they all exist to do something, make a product, or supply a service.

Today, many employers say they’re having trouble retaining their younger employees—specifically Millennials. At 82 million strong, Millennials are the workforce of the future. Studies have shown they want to work where they can make a difference and contribute to something bigger than themselves.

It’s imperative to realize that the people in your organization—especially young people—are the fuel to your long-term success, and the one person who affects that outcome more than any other is the frontline manager. Fortunately, there are five defined pillars of success that managers can rely on to help them succeed in their aim to boost employee retention.

1. Engage employees with a compelling vision of what is expected, and provide the mission to achieve that vision. Why? What’s in it for the employee to want to achieve for you? People respond when they are doing or contributing to something bigger than themselves. When national crises such as earthquakes or hurricanes occur, people are driven to volunteer not because they have to, but because they want to. Your vision and the culture you create are the reasons you exist.

Tell your people that without them doing what they do you wouldn’t achieve the results that you desire. The way employees view a job and its role in their life is evolving. Employees don’t just come to work for a paycheck. They seek a purpose, the opportunity to do what they do best every day, and to lead a life they desire for their families and themselves.

2. Make decisions based on productivity. By keeping your eye on the goal and having your people similarly focused, everyone will understand why certain decisions are made and can buy in. If disagreements occur in discussions they are welcomed because they are focused on achieving a better outcome toward the end objective. When disagreements occur, be sure to ask what the ultimate goal is.

3. Motivate every team member to take action. People are more likely to take action if they know what is expected of them. When expectations are clearly defined, employees are less likely to disappoint their manager or their peers. Employees will work together without your direction or approval when they all know what is expected and have bought into achieving the desired results. Most people are going to live up or down to their perception of the expectations of them. If your people don’t know what is expected, don’t be surprised by what you get.Employees are not going to care if the manager doesn’t care. Click To Tweet

4. Have the assertiveness to drive outcomes. Are you more concerned with the process or the outcome? Managers are in place to strive for positive outcomes. Employees may find ways to produce an outcome that the manager never thought of. Provide employees the freedom to experiment and try new ways of doing things. Keep progress results in front of the employees. If they do not see the progress they are making as a team, they will lose interest over time and productivity will wain.

When your staff see that their work is making a difference they will continue to contribute. If you avoid providing appropriate feedback on your employees’ progress, you’ll immediate notice a decline in the contributions of team members. Remember, feedback is the breakfast of champions—be generous with your thoughts and expectations.

5. Create a culture that you want. Culture impacts every aspect of how you get things done, from hiring and developing the talents of the employees to customer service. Define your desired culture and then take it from words to actions. If you don’t like the culture you currently have or the results that you are currently obtaining, you are the only person who can change it. Your actions have to mirror what you desire. Do you allow the negative behavior to go unchallenged? Realize negative behavior brings down all your good employees. Your employees are watching and if they see you doing nothing, your lack of action has sent a powerful message. You don’t care!

Employees are not going to care if the manager doesn’t care. When employees know that the manager truly cares about them as a people, they will walk through fire for the manager. When people believe the manager doesn’t care the employees will let the manager walk off a cliff. This caring gets to the heart of employee engagement.

By creating a workplace where people want to come to work instead because they have to come to work managers will see positive changes. Most people don’t wake up in the morning and say, “I think I will do a bad job today.” Help them achieve the results necessary for the organization, but in a way that each and every employee’s contribution is recognized and appreciated.

Jan Makela is an executive coach, highly-sought after speaker, and best-selling author of Cracking the Code to Success and Be the Manager People Won’t Leave. Jan has a long and successful history of working with companies to ensure quality hiring and training practices. His specialty revolves around strength-based leadership development, with a particular focus on working with senior and mid-level executives, business owners, and professionals. For more information on Jan Makela, please visit https://strengthbasedleadership.net/