Monday, February 21, 2011

Three Things Leaders Do Better Than Anyone

The worlds most successful entrepreneurs and executives use fundamental leadership qualities to achieve success. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that leadership is not about having command and control over people. Successful people focus on having command and control over themselves. By taking a very honest look at their vision and capabilities, successful leaders take more control of their destiny than most of us even think about exercising.

1. Leaders have strong self awareness.
Success is closely tied to an ability to practically and objectively identify their own strengths and weaknesses. They have a strong awareness as it relates to their performance, their passions, and their perspectives. They evaluate themselves in a brutally honest way and with clarity. That clarity allows them to manage their strengths and weaknesses very effectively. They will adjust their goals and approaches to match. They will seek assistance or self improvement in order to achieve success. They know what they can do, what they can’t do, what they should delegate, and when to seek help. Tied into this self awareness is having strong self esteem, which is not the same as ego.

2. Making the most of mistakes.
We all make mistakes. We are all human. However, some of us do more with our mistakes than others. Mistakes are the most important aspect of the life experience. These are the experiences where we glean our most important lessons. Sure, success is more fun, but we do not learn the most important lessons from success. Mistakes are also a strong indicator that we pushed an envelope somewhere, either in a process, or in people. Pushing and moving boundaries are how we create exceptional results, and ultimately success. Leaders use mistakes to learn and grow and motivate.

3. Adaptable and amenable.
Leaders are never emotionally attached to anything. Everything and anything can be changed and turned upside down when the need calls for it. Comfort zones usually don’t last long enough to actually bring comfort. A leader has an open mind and questions everything, including themselves. This is especially true when things are not working as planned or delivering the expected results. This aspect of leadership makes it possible for individuals and organizations to reinvent themselves as needed. Given the pace of change in the world today (socially, politically, economic, etc), reinventing oneself has almost become an essential function. Success is closely tied to being able to quickly respond to the changing realities in the business and market landscapes.

There are other factors and characteristics necessary for success, but I often find these three are among the most common weaknesses in entrepreneurs and business leadership.
How strong are you in these areas?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Team Building is not Rocket Science

It is amazing what people can accomplish when it doesn't matter who gets the credit.   –Harry S. Truman

Team building is a critical part of organizational success. You would be hard pressed to find anyone that would disagree with this notion. Regardless, it seems that most organizations have yet to figure out what it takes to successfully build great teams. The good news is that it is really not very difficult. The bad news is that it does require a sustained commitment of leadership.

Get Feedback as if they Were Customers: Think of your employees as customers, albeit internal customers. You need to get feedback from them in order to proactively identify issues and disconnects. Employee surveys and feedback are also a great way of encouraging contributions and innovative thinking. Finally, it reinforces the notion that employees are important to the success of the organization.

Relax the Formal Communication: Try to step away from the formal employee-boss interaction to foster a little free speech. Giving employees reassurance that they can speak frankly about issues that might be interfering with success creates opportunity to be proactive. Encouraging open workplace communication will develop healthy and productive work relationships.

Organize Team Building Events: Taking a day trip out for "R and R" can do wonders for breaking through the ice and developing relationships. Some great places to visit are the local Paintball field, or a sports/entertainment complex. Those centers that have the rock-climbing wall are magnificent. End a day of great team building activities with a late lunch. Give out one or two awards at lunch. I have seen this type of endeavor work wonders for a team. The inroads made at these events translate immediately over to the workplace.

The Team’s Success is Everyone’s Success: Make a habit of vocally and publicly appreciating and acknowledging each other’s efforts. Even small celebrations of jobs well done or projects delivered ahead of schedule build powerful relationships and reinforce motivation. Team members are more incented to stay engaged on the vision, and each other.

Successful team building in the workplace translates into success for everyone, including the organization. But remember, it all begins and ends with leadership.
How is your organization building great teams?