Tag Archives: leadership

Wield the Five Keys to Leaving a Positive Leadership Legacy in Your Life

By Jeffrey W. Foley

Jeffrey WoleyMany successful business people have pondered their leadership legacy—how do they want to be remembered. And many of them struggle to find the answer.

Your legacy is defined by the impact you have on the lives of others after you are gone. It is how you will be remembered. We are all leaving a legacy, there is no escaping it. If asked, how would you respond to the question of, “What do you want your leadership legacy to be?”

However old or young, you have the opportunity to raise the bar on the legacy you are leaving. Whether you are a senior executive, in a new position in your business, a new parent or grandparent, a student or recent graduate, you can choose your legacy. Or perhaps you have had a setback in your life, it is never too late to refocus on what you can change—your legacy.Being a person of character is at the foundation of building trust with others. Character is who we are and what we stand for. Click To Tweet

The most effective business leaders are people who ultimately pursue five separate but related behaviors. These five can provide the framework for you in your pursuit of creating a positive leadership legacy in life.

Character

Being a person of character is at the foundation of building trust with others. Character is who we are and what we stand for. It is comprised of many things but its foundation is values; those deep beliefs like integrity, loyalty, and respect. Values do not change overnight; rather they are forged in one’s heart and soul over time. They ultimately drive how we behave. When you think of those people who left a wonderful legacy for you, was not character the essence of the memory?

Attitude

Your attitude can change everything you do and everyone you meet. No one enjoys hanging out with chronic complainers or naysayers. A positive attitude can be a force multiplier in daily interactions or long term strategies. A positive attitude creates passion, enthusiasm, and a call to action. It can change outcomes. You have a choice in your attitude. Make it positive!

Vision

We all need a vision, or a plan, for our future. A saying attributed to the great Yogi Berra goes: “If you don’t know where you are going, you are likely to end up someplace else.” A vision provides clear direction for your future. Create your future by putting a mark on the wall of where you want to be one, two, five years from now. Craft an action plan that identifies your objectives and critical decision points. Establish a set of milestones that will help you achieve your objectives, and then celebrate each of their achievements as you progress along the way!

Excellence

Both championship teams and successful businesses do not drift to greatness; they commit themselves to excellence. Commitment means tireless pursuit of doing your absolute best, every day, all the time. Excellence matters in everything you do. If you don’t commit to excellence yourself and demand it from others you will create a culture of mediocrity. Most people are not interested in mediocrity.

Relationships

Building trusted relationships with others trumps everything else when it comes to leaving a positive leadership legacy in your world. Serving the needs of others builds trust in relationships. You serve by knowing your people, genuinely caring for them, reaching out to those in need, sacrificing and celebrating with them, exercising humility, are all important aspects enabling strong relationships. Nowhere is trust between leaders and followers more profound than in the military. You can learn, just like US Military Academy graduates at West Point are required to learn, that is Schofield’s Definition of Discipline. Major General John Schofield in his address to the Corps of Cadets in 1879: “The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an Army.” You know you will have achieved the goal of building trust when you can feel the spirit of cohesion that permeates the hearts of who serve together.

These five keys will provide a framework for establishing your approach to leaving a positive leadership legacy in your life. On a scale of one to five, with one being not so good, and five being great, how would you assess your behavior in each of the five areas? An action plan should follow your assessment that focuses you enables you to grow your ability where needed.

I wish you the best in your leadership journey.

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.

Eight Elements That Comprise a High Performance Enterprise

By Sue Bingham

Wake Up

It’s no secret that the workforce and the nature of work itself are rapidly changing. Many organizations, particularly large ones, are like an ocean liner that can’t turn on a dime. If an organization is not actively promoting and integrating the following eight elements, that organization is already behind and will experience negative impacts as the workforce shrinks and traditional management practices continue.

The root cause is that traditional management practices and H.R. policies have been created to catch the “bad apple”.  Let’s start with the premise that the vast majority of employees are good people—we might even say 95% fall in this category.  That leaves the small minority of five-percenters or bad apples.  Often this group occupies a much larger percentage of managements’ time and attention.  To try to rid the organization of these people, penalizing and insulting policies are created that often catch good people in their net. When treated the same as a five-percenter, ninety-five percenters feel embarrassed and de-valued.  What’s worse, they create a bureaucratic system that makes it nearly impossible to get rid of those for whom the policies were created.

The following eight elements are common sense and uncomplicated; and, the absence of them will seriously hurt organizations in the near future.

#1—Positive Assumptions about People

Dealing with the five-percent unconsciously taints your assumptions about people.  If leaders have spent time dealing with someone who lies, lays out, does the minimum required and tries to get away with as much as possible, that experience can create a distrust and desire to micromanage and control everyone.  Evidence of these assumptions is seen when there is restricted access to specific areas for certain groups; doors, cabinets and tool cribs are locked; managers accept performance minimums vs. maximums; information is guarded; and self-management is a distant concept.  It becomes irrational for employees to feel like valued adults and in return, the organization receives compliance, a lack of passion and a check the box performance.

Leading with positive assumptions about the quality and integrity of the majority of the workforce promotes pride, passion and accountability.It’s valuing employees and doing the right thing that leads to exceptional performance. Click To Tweet

#2—Identification and Elimination of Negatives

A negative is defined as “anything that minimizes vs. maximizes a person’s feeling of VALUE to the organization”.  Many of these are almost invisible to the people who have the power to eliminate them.  Examples include:  free water or coffee in some areas and not in others, reserved parking for executives, punitive policies that apply to one group of employees but not another, differences in holiday and vacation schedules, late performance appraisals and wage increases, etc.

Most of these negatives are easy to eliminate.  Leaders only need to put themselves in the shoes of their hourly-paid employees to see and feel them—and then get rid of them.

#3—Mutual Trust and Respect

Major headway in creating an environment of mutual trust and respect can be achieved by doing the first two elements.  And, if a company wants to be able to unlock supplies and equipment and treat people as responsible adults, there must be recognition that there will probably be some theft and deceit until the five-percenters are gone. However, it will be worth it to have created a high trust environment for the rest of the workforce.  In addition, create the standard that trust is a required attribute in order to receive a job offer.  Clearly communicate trust as a core value and treat any violation of trust as a dischargeable offense.

#4—Open, Two-Way, Adult-to-Adult Communication

In essence, share information, be open, and avoid secrets.  Speak to everyone at every level as you would a neighbor you like.  Remember that people, regardless of the type of work they perform, have the same desire for involvement and respect as managers and senior leaders do.

#5—Employee Engagement

Visionary experts in areas of organizational development predict the end of hierarchies—at least as you know them today. If it can be agreed that the people doing the jobs are the ones who know the jobs the best, why aren’t leaders empowering employees to solve problems and create continuous improvement in every organization?

#6—Training

A company’s investment in training reflects its value for people and a clear belief that good people only get better and produce greater results with an investment in their development.  Manufacturing companies often have a substantial budget for preventative maintenance on equipment, but limit (or even reduce if revenue is low) the necessary dollars for maintaining each person’s potential capacity.

#7—Competitive Wages and Benefits

In a high performance culture, the objective is to make wages and benefits a “non-issue”.  If people are challenged, valued and fairly compensated, they are reluctant to take another job for more money.  Fairness is perceived and achieved by regularly checking the market value for all jobs and paying competitively (meaning around and often somewhat above the market midpoint), sharing the survey data if someone is interested and being transparent about ranges and the compensation structure.  If a company is providing competitive pay and benefits, there shouldn’t be any mystery around this topic.

#8—High Expectations

Many leaders will admit that they have employees who are only doing the “minimum”.  In most traditional companies, job descriptions are specific with regard to the tasks to be performed.  Instead, write job profiles that set high expectations for the results versus the tasks involved.  And replace that common phrase at the bottom of those descriptions that says, “All other duties as assigned” with “Proactively support the team and company in achieving its objectives”.  Now the person who just waits to be told what to do is no longer meeting the minimum.

When leaders don’t set high expectations, they shouldn’t be surprised when average results are achieved.  Further, high expectations give people a purpose for their work along especially when their leaders’ believe they will be successful.

Start Now

There are many applications under each of these elements that convert the words to tangible actions and practices.  If any of these eight elements is missing within an organization, it’s time to take action.

It’s valuing employees and doing the right thing that leads to exceptional performance.  It really isn’t complicated.

Sue Bingham is the founder of the HPWP Group, a master coach, speaker, and author of the forthcoming book, Creating The High Performance Work Place: It’s Not Complicated to Develop a Culture of Commitment. At the forefront of the positive business movement, Sue supports leaders as they achieve their vision of success, and designs common-sense systems that make people and organizations more effective. For more information about Sue Bingham, please visit: www.HPWPGroup.com.

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.