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Investing in your employees now for the road ahead

Making sure a business survives through the day-to-day, month-to-month, and year-to-year can be a challenge, but how do you make the move from surviving to thriving? Mick Yates writes this article to explain how investing in your employees now can create a positive effect for your business for years to come.

It is not easy keeping up with the current business market. With millennials taking over the lead, employers and business owners constantly need to search for new ways to keep their employees motivated and therefore retain them. Opportunity for millennial’s success are everywhere and if they do not feel content on their current position, they will easily move on to the next opportunity they see. Young people are highly confident in their career goals, and they have no time to spare in a place which gives them no room for growth. There is no better way to keep your staff engaged and motivated than to help them thrive and improve their skills. Here are some of the reasons why you should start investing in your employees’ growth as soon as possible:

1. It Boosts Productivity And Morale

Employees want to be recognized for their own qualities and talents. When an employee is confident about their work and knowledge they own, it directly affects their productivity (or lack of). Investing in their career and knowledge will show them that you, genuinely care about them. It helps to build a healthy and motivated working environment. Giving them space to rise and shine is going to make them more confident in their skills. But not only that they will feel confident, they actually will have a pretty good reason for it.

2. It Keeps Staff Turnover At A Lower Rate

With options lurking everywhere, the easiest thing for one Millennial with no, to little experience, is to walk away and find a position where their needs will be properly met. Younger employees are hungry for knowledge and they tend to lose interest quickly if you do not provide them with a constant chance of improving. It is your job as a leader to be interested in your staff and in their needs. Investing in their skills will not only make them feel more confident, but it will also prepare them for more serious positions in your company. That way, you do not have to start from scratch every time you need a new manager or a leader – you can offer the position to one of your existing staff members that already know the job. Believe me, they will most certainly appreciate it.

3. Fewer Mistakes

If you skimp on your employees’ training, you are most certainly going to face their failure or lack of skill. Undertrained or unskilled staff members are always the ones making most of the mistakes. Thankfully, with proper training/programme, your staff members will feel more in control over their own work and they will actually know how to do it (properly).

4. The World Needs Leaders 

Investing in training and leadership development is one of the leading ways of keeping Millennials engaged and loyal. Who would want to leave the job where opportunities for growth are endless? But even if they do, it is not that big of a deal. The world is in the need for strong, and young leaders, who can offer valuable leadership skills to the world’s job market. One of the first countries that seem to realize this, are Australia and Canada. Providing leadership development in Australia became almost mandatory in some business industries, and for some, training is at least once in a few months.

5. Reputation Matters, A Lot

A good leader who left your company for another opportunity should never be underestimated. Millennials will usually wander off to another workplace after 18-25 months of the same job (and position). Remember, wherever they go, they will take your company’s reputation with them. For every good employee you lose, you may gain triple – but only if you put your effort into engaging with your team. If they remember your workplace as a safe place for growth, they will most likely even come back after they have satisfied their need for change.

Coaching programs and leadership development training are slowly becoming almost mandatory in this chaotic business market that is spinning 24 hours per day. Keeping up with the current trends is not even a choice anymore – it has become crucial for the success of any comp

This article is written by Mick Yates, an executive leadership coach who is the founder and CXO level consultant for LeaderValues. You can find this post here.

If you need help getting started in a new business venture, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

ABOUT GREG LEE


The 2 Rare Skills You Need to be a Great Leader

 Looking to take the next step as a leader? Lolly Daskal writes this article for her blog where she lists two  of the skills needed to take your leadership abilities to the next level!

At some time or another, most of us have experienced a boss, manager, or leader who made us feel recognized and valued. And as a result, we were able to do more than we ever thought we could.

More than anything else, that’s the sign of a true leader—someone who makes you feel, think, act beyond the limits you imagined to your own capabilities and capacity. What’s more, they make you feel you are valued and that you’re part of something bigger than yourself.

What skills do these leaders have that allow them to help others become their best? Fundamentally, there are only two. Even the first is far from common on its own, and because the second builds on the first, it’s especially rare.

But here’s the good news: rare as they are, they’re attainable. You can learn them and practice them and master them, and go on to help and empower others to exceed their self-imposed limits.

First, great leaders have a strong foundation of self-awareness. All great leaders draw strength from a well-built foundation of self-awareness. To lead from within requires a comprehensive understanding of yourself. That includes the ability to identify your own strengths and weaknesses—in terms of skills, which you can leverage by hiring people who make up for your weak spots, and also in terms of emotional triggers. Managing these triggers  requires a high level of emotional awareness, plus the knowledge of how to be adaptable and the willingness to alter your behavior to be an effective leader. You have permission to be human—that is, sometimes flawed and vulnerable—but you must never allow inner turmoil to wreak havoc upon those you lead.

True leaders understand that their attitudes toward themselves set the tone to which others respond.

Second, they have the single-mindedness to instill power within others. It’s one thing to understand yourself and to be aware of who you are. But the highest leadership quality is knowing how to empower others. A true leader is able to inspire their team, to encourage them to go beyond excellence and accomplish far more than anyone expects of them—or than they expect of themselves. A good leader may take people where they want to go, but a great leader takes them where they don’t necessarily want to go but ought to be.

A true leader doesn’t create more followers; they create more leaders.

A good leader may ask, “Is this working for me?” But a great leader will ask, “Is this working for my people?”

Great leaders can change the world, but first they must learn to lead from within. It’s only after they’ve developed that level of self-awareness that they can they lead and others to greatness.

Lead from within: Leaders become great when they are able to find their inner power and use it to inspire, strengthen and empower others.

This article is written by Lolly Daskal, an executive leadership coach who is CEO and founder of Lead From Within. You can find this post here.

If you need help getting started in a new business venture, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

ABOUT GREG LEE


Employee Engagement 101: Creating a Culture of Commitment Versus Compliance

Working at the “Happiest place on Earth” means more than just providing a warm atmosphere for visitors. Jeff James writes this article for the Disney Institute blog about employment engagement and what it takes to create a magical place for employee and visitor alike.
The term employee engagement is often used in business today as it relates to how we employ and motivate employees. At Disney, we like to think about engaged employees (Cast Members in our terms) as a combination of those willing to “go the extra mile” as well as those who are committed to the organization.
“Going the extra mile” is not about working harder or longer—it is about discretionary behaviors that employees want to do versus have to do. When you have to do something you comply, meaning you do it because it is required as part of your job or role within a company. But, when you commit (to an organization or company), you do things because you want to do them.
Most often, when you do something you want to do, it’s because there is an emotional connection that has been created and nurtured between you and the company (or its leaders) which makes you feel like you are making a meaningful contribution to the betterment of the company. As a leader, once you are able to instill this feeling of “family” or connectedness within your team, the sky is the limit in terms of what you can accomplish.
Sometimes leaders within an organization get concerned when they hear the word “discretionary” related to their employees’ abilities to satisfy a customer. They usually think of how much money “discretionary” could cost their company. But, what they may not be considering are the longer term implications of NOT allowing their employees the ability to do the right thing in the moment.
These moments of truth, when there is either a transaction or what we like to think about as an “interaction,” can create a lasting brand deposit (or withdrawal) depending upon how a customer has been treated.
Getting your company or organization to this state, to form this type of culture within your team, can take years of steady, hard work—something we know well at Disney.
In fact, our consistent business results are driven by strategically focusing on certain business functions and opportunities in which other companies often fail the see the value and potential—and that is a key source of what differentiates us. We have learned to be intentional where others may be unintentional. 
So, this raises the question, how can YOU be more intentional in creating the type of environment where your people “go the extra mile,” not just because they have to—because they want to?

This article is written by Jeff James, Vice President and General Manager of Disney Institute. You can find this post here.

The opinions expressed here by Jeff James are their own, not those of Disneyinstitute.com.

If you need help getting started in a new business venture, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

ABOUT GREG LEE


The Difficult Day Every Leader Has to Face

Is this the year for change? If you can prepare for a move, then setting up the ground work can reduce the stress on you and your employer. Lolly Daskal writes this article for her blog where she lists the steps you need to take to prepare for a move.

At some point every leader has to face what is for many a difficult day—the day they are no longer the leader. Maybe they’re retiring or just slowing down or moving on to something new.

The reason for the departure isn’t as important as the work that precedes it. Every leader should have a succession plan in place. (Even if you’re young and plan to stay where you are, you should still prepare for the remote possibility of a sudden illness or accident.) If you haven’t yet made a plan, here are some guidelines that can help:

Take your time. A great plan can’t be put together overnight, but the time to start is today. Start by sketching out your areas of responsibility, the reporting and governance structure of your organization, and any parties—team members, colleagues, board members—you want to have input into your planning.

Groom those with potential. Identify the people in your organization you believe have the potential to be great leaders and begin to teach, coach and prep them. When you invest in your organization’s future leadership, your influence remains long after you’ve left.

Recognize your emotions (and understand they’re normal). As in many other areas, the best leaders are those who know how to manage their emotions. They don’t allow themselves to be blindsided; they give themselves healthy outlets for voicing and expressing what they’re feeling so when the day does come, the emotions aren’t overwhelming.

Map your second purpose. I believe our lives comes in stages. For many of us, the first purpose consists doing what’s expected of us, and our work life is driven by the arc of our career. When that stage is over we can move on to our second purpose, where things slow down and we spend our time on things that align with our values. It’s time to be intentional about where you spend your time and energy.

Let go and move on. Once you’ve decided to move on, the worst thing you can do is to not let go. Trying to keep hold of the reins leaves you—and everyone around you—in limbo. Especially if you’ve spent years or decades in control, it may be among the most difficult challenges of your life—that’s why you have to prepare far in advance.

Learn your lessons. Sometimes looking back can help you move forward. Reflect on all the struggles, the lessons you’ve learned, the strengths you’ve developed, all the connection and growth and regrets of your career as leader, and you’ll attain a greater awareness of yourself and where you’re headed.

When the day comes that it’s time to change seasons, it will be a much easier and more fulfilling transition if it’s handled with care for all concerned—yourself, your organization, and the new leadership.

Lead from within: Every succession plan will be different, but the only way to know what’s next is to be prepared long before the day arrives and it becomes difficult.

This article is written by Lolly Daskal, an executive leadership coach who is CEO and founder of Lead From Within. You can find this post here.

If you need help getting started in a new business venture, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

ABOUT GREG LEE


3 Leaders Reveal Their Hardest Conversations

Not all decisions are easy to make. How do you give a difficult talk to your teammate, boss, or even yourself? Andrea Williams covers this in her article for Michael Hyatt, on Nov. 27, 2018.

Building a successful organization requires interpersonal skills as much as knowledge of finance or marketing strategies. Perhaps the most important tool in the relational toolbox is the tenacity to have tough talks that lead to the sort of necessary change that makes growth possible.

Here, three individuals relate their most difficult conversations, revealing insights and advice applicable on a fairly wide scale. Their problems are likely to be yours at some point, if you are leading people.

Calling out a trusted team member

Addressing an individual’s poor decision making is never easy, especially if that person is a valuable part of the team and someone you want to continue working with long-term. The solution, says Shyam Krishna, founder of SKI Charities, is to empower that individual with more ownership over their role and the future of the organization as a whole.

SKI Charities supports local entrepreneurs in developing countries by providing microloans to women, giving them the necessary resources to lift their families out of poverty. In order the execute this mission, Krishna depends on project managers who are based in each country and are directly responsible for recruiting and developing entrepreneurs for SKI’s microfinance program.

During the organization’s growth in eastern Zimbabwe, Krishna discovered that one project manager was “overly-aggressive” in decision-making and enrolling beneficiaries who were not ideal for the program.

“She had been a stalwart member of our team and played a vital role in our early growth,” Krishna says, “so when I noticed this movement away from our core mission, I knew I had to speak with her about changing her mindset while balancing her continued engagement.”

Ultimately, Krishna reminded the project manager of SKI’s core mission, while also encouraging her to take an active role in creating and enhancing the company’s future vision. “With her involvement and ownership, she began to make decisions less as an employee and more as a leader herself,” Krishna says.

Giving the boss an ultimatum

While the onus for effectively tackling difficult conversation typically falls on leaders who need to address their subordinates, there are times when the need to initiate an important discussion starts at the bottom.

Before becoming the founder and CEO of business consulting firm Trebuchet Group, Chris Hutchinson was working under a leader who stifled his growth, taking over a number of his responsibilities once he had achieved success in those areas.

Hutchinson’s frustration was mounting.“I needed to help my boss do the role the business needed of him and let me do mine, or help transfer my responsibilities to him and leave the business,” he says.

Hutchinson presented his boss with two solutions: Either his boss would need to step back and focus on being the president of the organization, while Hutchinson exercised full autonomy as general manager, or Hutchinson would depart, transferring his responsibilities back to his boss.

“He chose the latter,” Hutchinson says. “Over the next few weeks, I coached him on how we would announce my transition…It was very difficult to leave my colleagues when I believed they would not be successful, yet I also felt I was in a no-win situation. The harder I tried to help, the less authority I had to be able to help.”

Hutchinson’s experience shows that not all difficult conversations will achieve an ideal result for both parties, but it’s important to have them nonetheless. His advice? Prepare in advance to ensure that your message is delivered with clarity and focus.

“A good friend gave me The Four Agreements book as I worked up the courage to present my boss with a clear choice and then follow through on that choice,” he says. “The book helped me make commitments to myself to do my best to be impeccable with my word, not make assumptions, and not take things personally. These lessons made a tremendous difference in that situation and have served me in other, difficult conversations with people at work.”

Owning up to your own mistakes

It’s estimated that one-in-five American jobs are held by contractors, and that, within ten years, half of the workforce will be comprised of contractors and freelancers.

For contract workers, the beauty of free-agent employment is the ability to assume full control over their schedule and work-life balance. But, in the face of poor time management and everyday life challenges, your schedule can quickly become an unwieldy monster.

As a self-employed attorney and mediator, Nance Schick has found that her most difficult conversations were the result of having to disclose her professional errors. This was certainly the case after a recent health crisis.

“I kept trying to work and thought I could get more done each day than I did, and this only made the work backlog pile up more,” Schick says. “This client’s project went further down my priority list each day, in part because I overestimated myself and made promises I couldn’t keep. Worse yet, I stopped communicating with her about my delays, thinking the project would be done before she even realized I was late completing it. I told myself this was okay because a lot of businesses operate this way, even if that is not how I run mine. But it was not okay.”

After recovering from laryngitis, pink eye, and a sinus infection, Schick was able to complete the project and submit it to her client for review. She also included and explanation, an apology, and a discount on her fees.

Since then, Schick has realized that it’s her responsibility to fully regain the trust of her client, but she’s also realistic in understanding that unforeseen circumstances may once again delay her productivity. Going forward, she plans to handle those situations with a different approach.

“First, I will be more realistic and honest about my schedule, even if it means I have to refer a project out to a trusted colleague,” she explains. “Second, I will notify the client immediately if I suspect a deadline won’t be met, and I will give the client a true opportunity to adapt, including by reassigning the project. Third, I will apologize by phone and allow the client to express her anger, disappointment, or whatever she feels.”

That may be a tough conversation to have but if she wants to grow, Schick believes it is a necessary one. “I must be the change I wish to see in others,” she says.

This article is written by Andrea Williams, digital content strategist, author, and journalist. You can find this post here.

The opinions expressed here by Andrea Williams are their own, not those of MichaelHyatt.com.

If you need help getting started in a new business venture, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

ABOUT GREG LEE


6 Things Leaders Should Be Thankful For Everyday

With Thanksgiving arriving soon, I thought I would share this article published on November 22, 2017 on jmalonde.com, written by Joseph Lalonde. Taking a moment to remember the little things can make a big difference, no matter how busy the holidays become:

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Because of this, I wanted to reflect on 6 things leaders should be thankful for on Thanksgiving and every other day.

There’s a lot of pain that comes with leadership. Struggles no one else ever sees. Betrayals by coworkers and friends. Business failures. And so much more.

Yet there are also things leaders should be thankful for. Let’s take a look at these today.

6 Things Leaders Should Be Thankful For Everyday

1. Success:

Yes, be thankful for your successes. Your successes mean you’re having an impact on the world around you.

Don’t hide your successes. Celebrate your successes and be thankful for them.

2. Failure:

Hold up… You mean leaders should be thankful for failures? Oh yeah, leaders need to be thankful for failure.

Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. You can examine your failures and see why they didn’t succeed.

Learn and grow from your failures. They’re a great stepping stone to your next success.

3. Influence:

If you’re a leader, you’re influencing other people. These could be team members, customers, even your vendors.

Your influence is guiding and leading people. Be thankful for the influence you have on others.

4. Team members:

Your team is a valuable part of your leadership. From leaders in training to the people working on the ground floor of your organization, these are the people who are the foundation.

Without your team, there’d be a lot more work for you, the leader, to take on.

Be thankful for your team members. They take a huge weight off of your shoulders.

5. The organization:

Sometimes it can be hard to be thankful for the organization you work for. There comes a lot of stress and frustration when you lead an organization.

There are times when you feel unappreciated. You begin to wonder why you’re there when no one values the work you do.

This shouldn’t negate the thankfulness you feel towards the organization. You have the opportunity to guide, build, and lead the organization in a new direction.

Be thankful for the organization you work in.

6. Your family:

Sadly, I’ve seen families get passed over by leaders more often than not. The leaders dedicate themselves to leading an organization yet forget to lead the most important organization they chose to join: Their family.

Your family is part of your mission. You chose them. And they’re a godsend.

Be thankful for your family every day. One day they may not be there.

Joseph Lalonde created JMLalonde.com to help inspire current and future leaders. You can find this post here.

The opinions expressed here by JMLalonce.com columnists are their own, not those of JMLalonce.com.

If you need help getting started in a new business venture, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

ABOUT GREG LEE


The 5 Skills and Behaviors That Make Entrepreneurs Successful, According to Harvard Research

In keeping with the theme of entrepreneurship, the following is an article published in Inc.com on February 27, 2017, written by Marissa Levin, Founder and CEO, Successful Culture, discussing the skills and attributes the Harvard Business School found in common in successful entrepreneurs:

Richard Branson has tremendous passion. Elon Musk sees no limitations. Steve Jobs was relentlessly focused on perfection and the customer experience. Oprah Winfrey and Tony Robbins were determined to build a life of abundance by overcoming poverty and abuse.

What is the secret to successful entrepreneurship? Is it passion? Vision? Focus? Intelligence? Grit?

Harvard Business School (HBS) set out to unpack the answer to this question, which hasn’t been easy.

HBS Professor Lynda Applegate, who has spent 20 years studying leadership approaches and behaviors of successful entrepreneurs, shared that it has always been challenging to capture the skills and behaviors of successful entrepreneurs.

“Part of the problem is that people usually focus on an entrepreneurial ‘personality’ rather than identifying the unique skills and behaviors of entrepreneurs who launch and grow their own firms,” she said.

To uncover the most common skills and attributes, the Harvard research team administered a self-assessment to 1,300 HBS alumni, and then a follow-up 360-degree assessment that collected data from the peers of the 1,300 participants.

To prepare for the assessment, the research team combined literary reviews and entrepreneur interviews. Through this analysis, they identified 11 skills and attributes that are common in entrepreneurs. These are:

  1. Identification of Opportunities. Measures skills and behaviors associated with the ability to identify and seek out high-potential business opportunities.
  2. Vision and Influence. Measures skills and behaviors associated with the ability to influence all internal and external stakeholders that must work together to execute a business vision and strategy.
  3. Comfort with Uncertainty. Measures skills and behaviors associated with being able to move a business agenda forward in the face of uncertain and ambiguous circumstances.
  4. Assembling and Motivating a Business Team. Measures skills and behaviors required to select the right members of a team and motivate that team to accomplish business goals.
  5. Efficient Decision Making. Measures skills and behaviors associated with the ability to make effective and efficient business decisions, even in the face of insufficient information.
  6. Building Networks. Measures skills and behaviors associated with the ability to assemble necessary resources and to create the professional and business networks necessary for establishing and growing a business venture.
  7. Collaboration and Team Orientation. Measures skills and behaviors associated with being a strong team player who is able to subordinate a personal agenda to ensure the success of the business.
  8. Management of Operations. Measures skills and behaviors associated with the ability to successfully manage the ongoing operations of a business.
  9. Finance and Financial Management. Measures skills and behaviors associated with the successful management of all financial aspects of a business venture.
  10. Sales. Measures skills and behaviors needed to build an effective sales organization and sales channel that can successfully acquire, retain, and serve customers, while promoting strong customer relationships and engagement.
  11. Preference for Established Structure. Measures preference for operating in more established and structured business environments rather than a preference for building new ventures where the structure must adapt to an uncertain and rapidly changing business context and strategy.

Five Standout Traits

Out of these 11, Harvard found that founders scored significantly higher than non-founders for:

  • Comfort with uncertainty
  • Identification of opportunities
  • Vision and influence
  • Building networks
  • Finance and financial management

Founders had significantly lower ratings for “preference for established structure.”

Men Versus Women

HBS also examined the differences between men and women founders:

  • Women ranked higher in the dimensions of “efficiently manage operations” and “vision and influence.”
  • Men ranked higher in “comfort with uncertainty” and “finance and financial management.”

Serial Versus First-Time Entrepreneurs

Not surprisingly, serial entrepreneurs have much more confidence than first-time entrepreneurs, having more confidence especially in the areas of “building networks, securing financing and financial management, and generating creative ways to identify and meet market opportunities.”

The Future of Entrepreneurship, According to Harvard

As more and more people participate in the assessment, Harvard will be able to tap into the data to learn what entrepreneurs and organizations need in terms of leadership to help them grow.

Researchers will be able to extrapolate data around criteria such as age, gender, country, size of business, industry, type of venture, pace of growth, and many other factors that will shed light on how entrepreneurs are similar and different.

This knowledge will help all business owners tap into their own strengths, and surround themselves with others that can achieve their greatest potential.

If you need help getting started in a new business venture, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.

ABOUT GREG LEE


The 5 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Going From Employee to Self-Employed

Focusing on entrepreneurship, I’d like to share an article published in Inc.com on February 16, 2017, written by Beth Doane, managing partner of Main & Rose, discussing what you should know what you are getting into before making the leap:

Thinking about leaving your cubicle for the thrills of the startup world? So have 27 million other people like you. The good news is that there are more resources now than ever to help you find success when making this leap. The bad news is that just one small misstep and you can end up right back in your 9-to-5 gig.

I never worked in a corporate environment, started my first company when I was 22, and made a slew of expensive mistakes in those first few years. I attribute being able to survive to the fact that I had great mentors along the way and met fellow entrepreneurs who I could lean on for guidance and support.

I recently caught up with one of these fellow entrepreneurs, Darren Humphreys, who now spends his time tracking lions across the Serengeti or lounging on a remote beach on a hidden corner of Madagascar, but his original career was the farthest thing from this lifestyle. Darren hails from the top ranks of Wall Street and walked away from it to start a travel company. Like me, Darren learned how to scale and be his own CEO through making mistakes.

Below, we compiled the top mistakes founders make and what you really need to know to make it as a true entrepreneur.

Not Finding the Real Niche

Knowing what you want to do — and are passionate about — is not enough to make it a business. Even having a business plan, a marketing plan and a whole lot of venture capital won’t cut it these days. You must dive far enough into your concept to find the niche within it. If you can identify this niche within your “passion” industry, you will be truly distinctive and it will set you up for success.

Budgeting Incorrectly

Don’t leave your career without a plan and enough money to get you through the first six months. A new venture always costs more than you think, and that includes “opportunity cost.” When Darren first started his company, he knew if he had to budget and without a plan, he wouldn’t get very far. It’s worth hiring an expert for your budgeting (and making sure to budget for that expert!).

Underestimating Timeframes

New ventures always take longer than you anticipate. Darren advises that you should aim for validation within the first 12 months, and profitability within the first three years. I found this to be true: The companies I see succeeding wildly are able to bring a simple product to market and test it quickly, so they can make adjustments and improvements on the fly.

Not Being Selective Enough

You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. Finding a co-founder who complements you is crucial, and if you make the wrong choices, it can tank you before you even start. We always eventually become what we are surrounded by, so choose your staff and partners very carefully. Both Darren and I learned to hire slowly (and fire swiftly) in our ventures.

Having Incorrect Definitions of Success

Not all success is measured in dollars and cents: Darren knows this to be true, because he sacrificed things to be able to call the ocean his office. It’s easy to forget that success is what you make of it when you are trying to survive and build a business. Quality of life and crafting your own path hold a great deal of value, so before you start on your journey, make sure to write out what is truly most important to you — like family, your hobbies, giving back and learning new skills.

If fulfillment came from cash, America would be the happiest place on earth. Instead, pay attention to what really inspires you — and make sure you include that in your daily life.

Beth Doane is an award-winning writer, speaker and social entrepreneur. She is the managing partner of Main & Rose.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

If you need help getting started in a new business venture, and you are in Chicago, Oak Brook or surrounding areas, contact us today if you feel you need some coaching on this topic!

Greg A. Lee is also available on Advicoach.

ABOUT GREG LEE


Happy New Year!

 

In our world of business, we enter 2017 with great hope and anticipation of an invigorated economy and yes, some trepidation about whether it will all come together once again to lift our businesses, big and small.

We know that in fixing our business climate here in the United State, we have significant hurdles to overcome.  Our labor force participation is at its lowest level in 40 years.  Our principal generator of new jobs, small business startups, is growing at a rate of 30% less than in 2008.  One million new startups have failed in the last 8 years, resulting in the loss of 7-10 million jobs; GDP growth has been less than 3% for 10 years running.  I can go on and on about the issues of our stagnant economy, but we all know that we now have a major opportunity to reverse these negative, confidence-draining trends.

The optimist in me tells me that this is a mountain not too steep and difficult to climb.  Here’s why – we are, at our heart, a nation of doers that want to make things better for all of us, individually and collectively, and when slapped down, we confidently and aggressively get back up, rebuild, innovate and work hard to find solutions that solve the problems that confront us and satisfy our customers’ needs.

To me, confidence and risk taking go hand-in-hand and make our country unique in history.  Here’s my logic flow:  If businesses of all sizes see a favorable business climate with less regulation, lower taxes and available financing, there will be the entrepreneurial and corporate confidence to invest, innovate and take the necessary risks to create new and better goods and services that our customers want and desire today and tomorrow.

It’s all about a business culture in our country that incents and rewards growth, risk taking, entrepreneurship, innovation and community.  If we are smart about it, the rising tide will lift all the boats.  Here’s to a great 2017!


3 Leadership Skills Critical for Driving Change

In keeping with the focus on leadership, I’d like to share the following article written by Brent Gleeson, Keynote Speaker and Leadership Coach, published in Inc.com on August 16, 2016.  This article proides some key takeaways from the book “Change the Culture, Change the Game” authored by Roger Connors and Tom Smith on the skills leaders need for improing organizational culture to drive better results.

All organizations experience periods of much-needed culture change in order to achieve the results they need to grow, compete and win. Changing or improving the culture of a company or team requires focus, accountability and consistency. And it must be led from the top. Without total and complete buy-in from the senior leadership team the desired culture will fail to be achieved.

Leaders either move actively through an organization or unconsciously. When an unconscious leader attempts to fake their way through culture change they will not create the necessary experiences required to instill the correct beliefs. Without the needed cultural beliefs, actions will not achieve results.

There is also a misconception that leaders driving significant culture change must be bold in nature, give inspirational speeches and take wild leaps at greatness. That is simply not true. They must be honest and sincere in their effort exhibiting true passion for change. They must take aggressive strides in mastering three critical culture change leadership skills. And most of the time the organization can’t wait for them to do so, it must be done in tandem with driving change. This requires a consistent and deliberate effort and places this ability within reach of leaders at all levels.

These three skills are: leading the change, responding to feedback, and having a facilitative communication style.

Leading the Change

Culture change initiatives are not something that can be delegated to Human Resources or any other department. This is a leader-led model which must start at the very top. Every experience a leader creates, communication they deliver and action they take will either support or undermine the effort. The senior leadership team must actively manage the process and make sure that it’s at the top of every manager’s priority list.

Some of the best practices leaders must own include: establishing accountability across the organization; defining the results needed from the culture change (what are we trying to accomplish?); developing a cultural beliefs statement (again, this shouldn’t belong to the marketing team); developing and communicating the case for change; and consistently ensuring alignment across the leadership team.

For leaders to master the ability to lead the change, it requires learning and practicing the tools, planning what to do and what to say, and internal and external coaching.

Responding to Feedback

Without the team there can be no leadership. During a change effort the team will scrutinize the leadership team more than ever. They will be hopeful for new change they have been craving for a long time, but they may also look for signs of potential failure.

Providing feedback

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

focused on supporting the desired cultural beliefs and desired outcomes to team members is critical for success. But it goes both ways. Senior leaders must ask their reports, or anyone for that matter the question, “What feedback do you have for me?” Leaders must create a culture supportive of managing up and transparency.

Some leaders are good at taking constructive criticism and other are not. Responding with an excuse or dismissing the feedback as irrelevant or incorrect will foster beliefs about that leader’s willingness to change. In times of culture change, leaders must usually be the first to change the way they think and act.

Feedback will not always be accurate or grounded in reality but it is the leader’s duty to ask for it, as well as respond to it. Letting the team know that their voice is heard and what you are going to do to take action when necessary is the most important component to mastering responding to feedback.

Facilitative Communication Style

When I speak to organizations or perform workshops with their leadership teams, communication is always a key component. As a former Navy SEAL, we used to evangelize the saying “move, shoot and communicate.” We work in highly chaotic environments which require effective communication in order to adapt to change.

Leaders must not just ask for feedback every now and then but create organizational experiences that foster ongoing collaboration and communication. It doesn’t happen on its own. These experiences will empower the team and involve everyone in being accountable for driving the positive change forward.

Needed change is usually created through many internal and external environments. Either way, it can be scary for the team. It is up to the leadership to drive the change, ensure alignment, and see it through. It can have revolutionary effects to the bottom line when done right.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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