Tag Archives: leadership

A Business with a Soul Inspires and Motivates Its Workforce

By Pat HeydlauffPat Heydlauff

Some businesses are born out of ideology and conviction. Others spring up out of necessity, to fill a void or meet a burgeoning need. Then there are those born out of innovation with a vision for the greater good that have soul – companies like Apple, Disney and Ford. 

  • Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple wanted to produce products so imaginative and appealing that people didn’t even know they wanted them until Apple released them, not just another computer.

  • Walt Disney, founder the Disney Empire wanted to create the happiest place on earth for children of all ages with Disneyland and Disney World – not just another amusement park.

  • Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company wanted to build a horseless carriage that would be affordable by every family in America, not just the wealthy.

What is a Business Soul? A business’ soul is well defined by Henry Ford who said, “Business must be run at a profit, else it will die. But when anyone tries to run a business solely for profit … then the business must die as well, for it no longer has a reason for existence.” He did not want the Ford Motor Company to be a soulless giant business, known for its coldness and aloofness.

A business with a soul is built on principles that inspire, bring to life and permeate thought, action and end-user products. It is the driving force that propels a business innovatively and creatively forward.

Does It Matter? Research in the late 1990s of 3,000 of the largest U.S. businesses reported in the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America showed that businesses with a soul averaged 5.5% more annual profits. A business with a soul was defined as those having a meaningful purpose and a proportional relationship between bottom-line profits, people relationships and products. A business with soul not only nurtures and grows human talent and the human spirit, but sees healthy profits as a facilitator and by-product of achieving other worthwhile ends.

Businesses with soul yield an inspired workforce with higher productivity and job satisfaction, increased brand and customer loyalty, and increased productivity and profitability with sustainable results.

Begin Here: Be who you claim you are. Soul is authenticity, which comes from being who you are, not what you say you are. Itis about being sincere and honest in a way your workforce and customers feel, see, touch, and experience your business to be what you say it is.

Determine your reason for existence: Creating a business soul begins with soul searching by leadership. Determine the “who, what, why and how” of your business and how you can make a difference in the lives of your workforce, community and customers through your business. Do you have a meaningful purpose for existing other than bottom-line profits? 

Once you have drilled down so far that you cannot get more succinct, develop a one sentence description of your soul. Then drill down once again to get that sentence into a three- to five-word statement. This is your business vision and everything you do should be measured by this statement. Then, share this new vision with your workforce.

Create Genuine Connections: Share your new soul/vision with your workforce. Only once you share it can you determine its accuracy and whether it properly reflects who your business really is. Encourage feedback. There is a natural circular flow to the soul of a business which needs to be in harmony at all levels. If the workforce perceives a facade harboring a different reality or the creation of a fake soul, their productivity will drop and chaos will erupt.

By asking for their input you will create genuine connections with your workforce and complete the circular flow. Incorporate their input and republish your soul/vision to see if it resonates. When this process is finalized, don’t just put this nice new statement on the shelf and continue as before. Take the necessary action to make it a reality. Then implement collaborative decision-making as the rule not the exception.

Incubate Human Potential: After discovering and applying your soul in your business, unleash the human potential of your workforce by creating a physical workplace environment that is representative of your new soul/vision. Keep the enthusiasm flowing by removing or eliminating things (unwanted paperwork, stashed boxes, items for storage) and old thoughts (industrial age thinking and organizational charts) that clutter the workplace environment – they will stand in the way of focus, growth and expansion if left unchecked. 

By creating a workplace environment that engages and unleashes the focus of your workforce, and maintaining a circular motion of communication and nurturing, you will inspire and empower your workforce. This results in increased productivity, employee buy-in and profitability.

It is easy to overlook the importance of or discard your company’s soul because of the economy, the desire to expand, increase market share or simply the pursuit of the dollar.  But if you desire sustainable growth, an inspired workforce and an empowering workplace, discovering and nurturing your business soul is a significant key to success. 

Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She works with organizations that want to create an environment where employees are engaged, encouraged and involved, and with people who want to be in control, anxiety-free and confident. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage: How to Lead with Power, Productivity and Promise and Feng Shui: So Easy a Child Can Do It. She can be reached at 561-799-3443 or engagetolead.com.

Hooked on Experience

By Eric J. RomeroEric J Romero

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein

How much experience do you have is a question that is often posed to job applicants, and lack of experience is the main reason why many applicants do not get an interview. It also prevents entrepreneurs from getting access to capital to start new businesses and current employees from being promoted. The over-reliance on experience as a selection criterion results in missed opportunities for individuals, organizations and society.

Poor Old Experience: Experience is a poor indicator of what has been learned in the past and what can be done in the future. Driving is a good example of how experience often fails to lead to learning and expertise. Many people who have been driving for years, and therefore have ample experience, are still poor drivers. The weak relationship between experience and expertise is evident in many organizations as well. Anything that you do admirably today, you at one point did not know how to do, so experience was not a valid predictor of your future success. Therefore, for the same reason, it is unreasonable to use experience indiscriminately as a selection criterion.

Organizations depend on new ideas and innovation for survival. Since innovation is by nature something new, prior experience in often irrelevant. Some of the most creative and successful entrepreneurs had no experience at all in their fields when they started their firms. For example, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream was started by two friends who knew nothing about the ice cream business. In fact, they learned how to make ice cream from a $5 correspondence course. Despite their lack of experience, they built an American icon with unique ice cream products such as Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey. Perhaps the secret of their creativity was their lack of experience based barriers to limit what they could do. If they would have applied for jobs at a mainstream ice cream producer, they would have likely been rejected due to a lack of experience. Ben and Jerry illustrate the notion that work experience is a poor measure for future creative performance. Personality characteristics and behavior patterns are far more reliable predictors.

The global economy makes change occur far more rapidly than in the past. Furthermore, change is occurring too rapidly for prior experience to be used as a selection criterion for many jobs. Even if people consistently learned the maximum possible from past experience, knowledge becomes obsolete rather quickly in a rapidly changing environment. This is particularly true at technology firms like Google, which was formed by two Stanford graduate students who had no business experience at all.

While prior experience is important for technical jobs, such as nuclear power plant engineers, or medical doctors, it is not required for many of today’s jobs. This is particularly true for jobs that require personnel to develop new products, work independently, use their knowledge in new ways, create new markets, etc. For example, Richard Branson has created numerous unrelated ventures (Virgin Record, Virgin Airway, etc.), which have made him one of the richest men in the world, despite the fact that he did not have any experience in many of these areas.

Hooked on Experience: Why does the over reliance on work experience persist? Dependence on work experience is like a crutch on which employers and financers have come to rely. It is measurable, easy to use and it has long been used as a selection tool. Since most organizations do not measure personality characteristics, skill levels or assess behavior patterns, using experience is a convenient, although often inappropriate, surrogate for more valid criteria. Additionally, using experience is often arbitrary (i.e., minimum 5 years of management experience) and helps decision makers lose cite of far more reliable predictors of success. It ignores that fact that some people learn little, even if they have a lot of experience, and other people can learn much in a short period of time. When one uses experience as a selection criterion, one assumes that everyone learns at the same rate, which is obviously false. The result is poor hiring, promotion and investment decisions and missed opportunities for individuals, organizations and society.

Just Try Something New: One may ask, what are good selection criteria for selecting unconventional thinkers who can work in a dynamic environment where personnel are expected to figure stuff out? Seeking people who are open to new ideas, have a vision similar to the company, and are comfortable with ambiguity is likely to yield better results than focusing on how much work experience applicants have or whether they have a university education.  The ability of learn quickly and adapt are particularly important.  Each organization should devise its own selection criteria and process that is matched to its culture and strategy. Keep in mind that the process you create is not static, it should be tweaked and adjusted over time. Experiment with new ideas that come from almost anywhere; movies, military, psychology, etc. Below are some general ideas that one can use as a start.

Finding and Selecting Unconventional People

  • Do no use “professional attire” during interviews and encourage people to be themselves, you want to learn about the real person in an interview

  • Have people do a creative activity as part of the selection process

  • Hire people from diverse backgrounds (music, arts, sciences, etc.), unconventional ideas will emerge from a mix of heterogonous people

  • Using psychometrics to measure personality characteristics

  • Use job previews for select candidates so you can see how they actually work

  • Hire people who are good listeners

  • Hire some people who have no education or experience, but have a lot of energy, ambition, great ideas, etc.

  • Hire people who are a little weird and wouldn’t fit in most organizations

  • Hire people who have traveled extensively or lived overseas

  • Have a debate with the candidate to see how he or she hold up to conflict

  • Hire self-motivating workers (described in the next chapter)

  • Use team interviews for people who will join a team

Summary: Kicking the hooked on experience habit is hard. As an unconventional leader, you will have to do some convincing and selling of the ideas presented here. It will take time for a company to devise a new custom designed system and to refine it.  When using an innovative selection process, you might spend much more time searching for personnel. That is the price to pay for doing things differently. For example, Google interviews are a day long affair, or more. Google is also one of the most unconventional companies in the world. A customized and innovative selection process will help you to find and select more unconventional thinkers who can help your company beat the competition.

Eric J. Romero, PhD is a speaker, consultant, and coach. He helps managers become unconventional leaders who beat the competition. Eric teaches them how to create competitive advantage based on innovation, flexibility and risk-taking. Eric has written over 20 articles and presented his ideas around the world for over 14 years. Originally from Brooklyn, his presentations are delivered with a sense of humor, 100% unedited honesty and street smarts! For more information, go to competeoutsidethebox.com.

Leaders Play a Major Role for the Employee

By Gregg GregoryGregg Gregory

Think of the best boss you have ever had in your adult work life. Now what are the top three reasons you said this is your best boss? If you are like many you answered with statements like:

  • Lead by example

  • Encouraged everyone

  • Rewarded fairly

  • Held me accountable

  • Empowered me

Now either go see or call this person (do not email) and tell them you just thought of him/her. How do think they will feel when you tell them this? Pretty awesome I would think. These are just a few of the things employees said are important to them. What is interesting is that these are leadership traits and not management traits.

When you take a training class what are you looking to learn? Many of us want to learn ‘the how’ to do the things in our jobs – which translates into managing things. Have you ever given thought to what your team members look for and are they getting what they expect. Leadership from the top down in essence dictates the culture of an organization. If the leadership is empowering then this will breed future leaders that too empower others. On the other hand if the organization is one that keeps a stronghold on everyone then that too will result in breeding future leaders of the same style. Think about it this way. Have you ever noticed how much a child resembles the parent?

Not just in physical appearance either. This includes mannerisms and communication styles. Here are four quick tips on breeding a successful legacy in your organization:

1. Treat everyone fairly – and fairly does not mean equal – it means fairly. This is one of the strongest ways to build a respectful team and a respectful team is generally a trusting team.

2. Lead from a position of integrity – How do you expect to breed others if you are not leading the pack. This goes beyond walking the walk – it means you must live the part you are portraying. This means be consistent between word and deed at all times.

3. Develop the right track for everyone to run on – Have you ever had an employee that shared in the vision but could not perform at his or her position? Get the right person into the right job and do it fast.

4. Show a genuine interest in your team members – Everyone likes to have some attention shown to them. This means that even if you are not the extroverted leader develop the skill set to make sure the employees know you care about them on every level.

If you are lucky you will be like the legendary San Francisco 49er head coach Bill Walsh. When he was asked about his career he said he was proud of his super bowl rings but he was even more proud of the number of head coaches he developed over the years. One day five years from now you could be sitting at home and answer the phone. The voice on the other end says, “Hey boss – I just read an article about best bosses and when I thought about my best boss I thought of you and wanted to just give you a call and tell you how much I appreciated everything you did for me back in 2007.” Imagine that…

Gregg Gregory, of Teams Rock, works with organizations to create a culture where people work together and perform at peak levels. Through his interactive workshops and consulting, Gregg’s clients achieve greater team focus, cooperation, productivity, and impact. His experience includes more than two decades of human resources, real estate, mortgage banking, as well as radio and television broadcasting. Please contact Gregg at 866-764-TEAM or greg@teamsrock.com see how his keynote speeches and breakout training sessions can help your company or organization.

Become a Better Leader: Commit to Continuous Learning

By Joelle K. Jay, Ph.D.

Joelle K JayIn order to excel in your work, in your life, or as a leader, you need to commit to continuous learning. Many leaders know this, but many more are missing the opportunities for powerful learning that could really help them get ahead on their goals.

Leaders are encouraged to learn “on the job.” The problem is that many of us don’t. Either because we’re too busy, we forget, we don’t know what we need to learn, or we don’t have the resources we think we need, we end up learning by chance or command. Neither one is very powerful.

Learning by chance means you take opportunities to learn whenever they show up, but you don’t necessarily go looking for more. A conference brochure arrives; it seems interesting; you go. A friend recommends a book; it looks good; you read it. You take opportunities to learn as they come to you – in other words, when it’s convenient.

Learning by command means you learn when someone else demands it. When your colleagues tell you that you need to learn to be more decisive, or when your profession requires that you get an advanced certification, or when your boss sends you to a workshop to learn specific skills, you are learning by command.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with these approaches to learning. Anylearning that advances your expertise and builds your capacity may be worth your time.

Or it may not, and that’s the problem. You have so much potential, and there are so many opportunities to learn, and there is so much to be gained by learning that it simply doesn’t make sense to relegate your learning to the whims of chance and command. You need to learn by choice.

Learning by choice means carefully setting up your own learning opportunities based solely on what you need to get better results. Learning by choice is based on a number of assumptions.

Learning is leadership: Learning is an essential component of leadership. Some experts go so far as to say learning is leadership, a leader’s constant quest for the improvement of the business, people, and results. As a leader, what do you need to learn? What leadership skills, strategic practices, or management techniques will help you be more effective? Look at your results, and notice where there’s room for improvement. What do you need to learn in order to improve those results? This is the kind of learning that supports powerful leadership.

Learning is profit and competitive edge: The soul of business is innovation; the soul of personal leadership is the innovation of the self. You can’t have one without the other. If you want to have, run, or be part of a business that succeeds in a time of change, you need to be willing to change, as well. Think about it. If another company is doing better than yours, what do you need to learn to be better able to compete? If you personally are stuck in a rut in your career, what do you need to learn to get a more competitive edge? Without asking these questions, you will start to languish in mediocrity, and that’s no place for a leader. Refuse to buy into the assumption that the economy, the market you’re in, or your products are creating your results. If you’re not happy with what you’ve got, go out and learn what needs to change. You’ll feel more in control, and you will learn to lead the way to a more powerful and profitable place.

Learning is life: In addition to learning for all of the practical and rational reasons that contribute to your effectiveness as a leader, there’s one more: learning is part of the fun of life. When was the last time you picked up a new sport, game or hobby? We learn these things not because we have to, but because we want to. Your vision and goals will be infused with a new sense of exuberance when you commit to learning what you need to learn in order to achieve them. You will know that you can do anything you want to as long as you know how to learn.

Learning is an essential component of leadership, but not all learning experiences are equally powerful. Learning by choice means understanding exactly what you need to learn in order to achieve your vision.

Try this simple exercise to sharpen your approach to learning.

  • Think about your vision or an important goal.

  • Brainstorm. What do you need to learn in order to achieve this vision or goal?

  • Choose one area in which to focus your learning, and choose the one that is likely to have the biggest impact.

  • Ask yourself, “What’s the most powerful way I can learn in this area to get the best and fastest results?”

This approach will steer you away from learning by chance and help you choose your learning, so it’s more strategic and leads directly to your vision.

If you really want to lead well and live well, you must learn to learn well, too.

Joelle K. Jay, Ph.D., is president of the leadership development practice, Pillar Consulting.  As an executive coach, author and speaker, Joelle helps leaders achieve top performance and business results. Her clients include presidents, vice presidents, and C-level executives in Fortune 500 companies. Joelle is the author of “The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership.”

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The Engaged Workforce: Who is Responsible?

By Pat HeydlauffPat Heydlauff

Walt Disney once said, “Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.” He understood perfectly whose responsibility engagement was – it was his. He was a hands-on leader, personally involved and engaged with his workforce.

Engagement is a leadership necessity. Once hired, it is leadership’s responsibility not Human Resource’s to keep employees engaged. When the leader of an organization is not engaged on a regular basis, trust and productivity rapidly erode. According to recent research being truthful and connected are huge factors in engaging, maintaining and increasing workforce productivity and loyalty. When a leader is totally involved and committed to an engaged workforce, everyone’s efficiency and productivity improves and profitability increases.

Where Engagement Begins: Experts often say engagement comes from the top down and permeates the workforce. Others say no, it’s a bottom up process. The answer is – it is both and then some. Engagement comes from inside out. If it only comes from the top down all you need is one mid-level leader to drop the ball and the game is lost. If it begins at the bottom, as soon as a member of the workforce runs into resistance from their management the chain is also broken.

There is a natural flow to the engagement of the workforce and it must flow from the inside out – from the heart and soul of an organization to the workforce in order to permeate it. It doesn’t matter if your business is a three-person accounting firm or a Fortune 500 organization, the natural flow of engagement is the same.

Engagement begins with a decision within the core operating culture of a business to make an engaged workforce a top priority. If not created at this level, the results will be mediocre at best with average productivity and reduced profitability instead of exceptional productivity and increased profitability.

The Flow of Engagement: Engagement flows through the workforce in a circular movement, not linear. When leadership at all levels becomes engaged with their workforce, productivity continues as is. When the workforce is in return engaged with leadership, productivity skyrockets.

Understanding that this is a circular flow is critical to successfully creating a workforce that is focused on the best interests of the business or organization.

What’s Next?

Get into the game by recognizing the need for creating an engaged workforce, discovering where it begins and how it works. Create a leadership roadmap that includes developing, promoting and participating in a full-time circular engagement program.

Crunch the numbers to see how much your productivity will increase with a more engaged workforce. Recently released research by Gallup shows that only 33% of the surveyed workforce is engaged in what you want and 49% are disengaged. Even worse, 18% of the workforce is actively engaged in causing failure.

Industry research analysts believe that up to 95% of employees are unaware of their company’s top objectives. Without understanding how important their contribution is to the company’s overall goal and what role their contribution plays, they will disengage, missing deadlines, dropping production levels and negatively affecting profits.

It will be obvious when you crunch the numbers; even a slight increase in the engagement of your workforce will yield significantly increased productivity.

Schedule Road mapping time to unleash the potential of an engaged workforce. If you do not plan to succeed you are by default planning to fail. Evaluate the circular flow of engagement energy in your workforce to see where it needs improvement. If you don’t have an obvious flow to the engaged energy of your workforce, create a roadmap to get your there. Then, take action and make it happen. Start today.

Walt Disney’s legacy lives on because he knew he was responsible for the engagement of his workforce and took an active role in creating the future he envisioned. The circular flow of engagement is evident in every aspect of the Disney Empire and was one of his success strategies — a strategy you can apply to create the results you envision.

Pat Heydlauff speaks from experience. She works with organizations that want to create an environment where employees are engaged, encouraged and involved, and with people who want to be in control, anxiety-free and confident. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Engage: How to Lead with Power, Productivity and Promise and Feng Shui: So Easy a Child Can Do It. She can be reached at 561-799-3443 or engagetolead.com.