Monday, December 20, 2010

Year-End Reflections

As we turn our sights toward 2010, it’s time to reflect on how your progress is going and how are you going to achieve your objectives. A number of significant events have taken place in our global environment that may be forcing you to look at your life and business much differently than you did a year ago. Take some time to reflect on the following questions and honestly evaluate where you are, where you are going, and how you plan to get there.

Did you achieve your 2010 objectives?

If you have not achieved your 2010 goals, what is standing in the way?

Are your marketing activities generating the necessary results?

Are you working with enough clients to achieve your goals?

Do you enjoy working with the clients you have?

What are your goals and key objectives for 2011?

Are you looking to expand into any new markets? Why or why not?

Careers and business are not just about numbers, activities, strategic plans, objectives, and revenue. All of these things are important and in many cases critical to build a sustainable living, but they are only one-half of the equation. The other half of the equation is you. Your personal ability to grow requires honest reflection. Look at yourself and your experiences this year with as much objectivity as you can. Reflect on you and your contribution to the success of your business.

What did I learn – new skills, knowledge, insights, etc? (List them all.)

How have my newly acquired skills, knowledge, and insights contributed to the success of my business?

What did I accomplish? (List all your wins and achievements.)

How did those wins or accomplishments impact the success of my business?What would I have done differently and why? (Be specific and honest with yourself.)

What were the most significant events of the year thus far? (List the top three.)

What did I do right?

What do I feel particularly good about?

What was my greatest contribution?

What were the fun things I did?

What were the not so fun things I did?

What were my biggest challenges, roadblocks, or difficulties? (Be specific.)

How am I different this year than last?

What will I do differently for 2011? (Be specific.)

For what am I particularly grateful?

Feel free to add additional questions that may provide meaning for you.

As you can see, it is very difficult to ignore the power of the I’s and the my’s in those questions. You are a critical component to the success of your business and an honest, objective evaluation of where you are could be the difference between success and failure. Your ability to achieve your desired goals and build a sustainable business begins and ends with you. There will always be outside forces generating obstacles or pushing and pulling your business in different directions. The most powerful asset you have is you. Make a commitment to honestly evaluate your contribution as a business asset and make the commitment to reinvest in yourself and grow. The success of your business depends on it!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Concept of Leadership

Throughout the years, volumes have been written which list and elaborate upon the characteristics of leaders. You need only check the literature on the subject to discover that there are many characteristics and combinations of characteristics as there are leaders. With all of their differences, however, leaders do have some fundamental similarities.

1. Successful leaders have mastered the art of self leadership and authenticity. Authenticity conveys genuine, reliable, trustworthy leadership.

2. Successful leaders have taken time to crystallize a personal vision of the future which will become the foundation or cornerstone for a shared vision. They are able to attract as well as inspire commitment among the people whose collective effort will make this vision a reality.

3. Successful leaders understand how to align and maximize resources to realize a vision. The leader’s role is to create alignment between vision, strategy, structure, processes, and people with focus on attracting and maintaining a loyal customer base.

As a leader, you must be many things to many people. First, you must have the ability to create a compelling vision. If your vision is to motivate people, it must take them to new levels of achievement. Then, you must be able to develop and implement the strategies that will guide people toward the vision, analyze the alternatives and possibilities, and set goals that will drive the organization to sustained success. To do this will require that you are able to function successfully in several areas. The first is your role as a visionary.

Leaders who are able to involve people in realizing a compelling vision provide a beacon for the future and a standard of excellence. Vision plays an important role in developing a winning organization. A compelling vision can play an important role in developing a winning organization. A compelling vision can motivate and empower everyone in an organization to seek higher levels of performance and achievement. People want to do a good job because realizing the vision is important to them. A compelling vision is inspiring and it is energizing. It provides an image of a better future that causes people to drive themselves to higher levels of achievement.

In the final analysis, you can’t really force people to be motivated. You can only create an environment in which people are motivated. A vision will release creative energies to successfully attain the desired results. It provides a reason for change and exploring possible uncharted waters with enthusiasm. It gives meaning to work and it encourages innovation. Individuals recognize the importance of their personal contribution to the overall whole. Vision helps everyone realize that their best interests are served by the success of the entire organization.

Vision alone is not enough however. Look for a future post on the Leader as a Coach.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Business Value of Developing Trust

Trust is one of the primary essentials to the success of any team.

Outstanding teams will inevitably deliver exceptional performance when the element of trust is present and strong within the culture. Trust is, of course, the belief that those who you depend on in your team will meet your expectations. When trust is present, your team members will work effectively together, share information freely, share challenges and mistakes, admit lack of knowledge, and commit themselves to the success of the team. It’s easier to build trust when working in the same physical environment because you will be exposed to many visual clues. Researchers say that people often take less than four minutes to make a trust judgment based on someone’s voice, body language, and words. However, in today’s business arena, there are times where a team is functioning remotely and developing trust can never be forgotten or pushed to the wayside.

When people fail to work well together, it is often because there is no trust. When there is no trust, there is fear and suspicion, and these are a major deterrent to innovation and results. Without trust, the best and brightest ideas never surface. Even worse, when there is fear and suspicion, commitment goes away. Commitment and fear are almost mutually exclusive.

Trust can never be mandated, as it must always be earned. There must be honest, complete, and open communication delivered in a way that fosters mutual respect. Your employees must feel free to ask questions with the confidence they will receive support and the necessary information. Each employee must also feel free to openly express his or her thoughts and feelings. There can be no hidden agendas or clandestine activities. An effective leader must become an expert at ensuring that everyone is kept informed and feels that they are in on things.

In his book, Building Productive Teams, Glenn Varney introduces what he calls the Trust Cycle as a means of showing how leadership can prevent cynicism and establish trust. The Trust Cycle shows “Trust is developed from adequate to total information so that the individual can influence or make decisions, which builds more trust.”

There are many factors and behaviors that build trust, and even though developing trust is a very individual experience, research has shown there are some common factors which help create an environment of trust. Trust can be enhanced when a leader focuses on building strong relationships with and among the team. Review the following categories and concepts as it relates to your department, team, or business unit. What can you do to build stronger relationship and deeper trust within your team? How will it impact the overall results?

Results: All team members are focused on and produce results, exceed customers expectations, meet delivery times, and measurable results are documented.

Integrity: Team members can be trusted to mean what they say when they say it, show commitment to the team, do what they say they will do, communication is essential, and behavior is in the best interest of the team.

Change: Team members are willing to change and adapt, open to other view points, and are flexible.

Empathy: Putting yourself in a team member’s shoes and showing care and concern are culturally sensitive, and sensitive to the impact of all decisions.

Trust is difficult to gain, but easily lost. Building trust requires consistent and ongoing commitment from management. It requires executive sponsorship in the form of authentic leadership. There is no room for missteps.

The results are worth it.