10 Ways to Outsmart the Saboteurs of Your Vision and Goals

Having an inspiring vision and well-crafted goals are no guarantee your business will achieve them. It is often the norm to put a vision and goals on the shelf so you can get back to work. This frustrates people, especially if they have been part of the process to craft the vision and define the goals. Nothing changes. People you need for your business to succeed lose heart. This is expensive and leaders lose credibility. The root of the problem is people, even smart people, are willing to tolerate the current reality rather than experience change. Asking someone to change, even if it’s beneficial to them and the organization, is losing something. This is scary. When people are afraid, they do what is necessary to return to “normal.” Recently I worked with a division in a large organization. We created a vision and the objectives, goals and strategies to achieve the mission and to move closer to the vision. It is hard to do this important work. The management team and staff did a remarkable job. At the conclusion of our second day together, I asked them to answer the following question, ”In order to move closer to our vision and to achieve the goals we have set, what is it ‘we must do’ and what is it ‘we must not do?’” The following are their responses: WE MUST DO……… 1. Embrace the direction of change with honest display of values 2. Review the goals, objectives and strategies monthly to stay on track 3. Be disciplined and focus on the work and time frames that are set 4. Listen...

Leadership’s Underside

Carrying the mantle of leader may look glamorous. It is hard work. Much of what a real leader does is hidden. Another thing about leaders—they exist at all levels in an organization. Not all leaders have prestigious titles. All of them are not at the top of an organization. Here are 6 characteristics of leaders:       Self-awareness. There is no mistaking your weak points and your strong points. Don’t forget the blind spots that we all have, too. Self-mastery. The ability to practice self-discipline. Honor your word. It is your bond. Leadership is built on trust. You can rely on leaders to be accountable to themselves and others. Understanding change is the key to growth. To keep the status quo stymies not only personal but professional development. Change for the sake of change to chase the next shiny object does not count. Willing to do things differently. Even in the face of long standing traditions that once served a purpose, embrace a new way of behaving, thinking and doing. Courage. It takes bravery to release old beliefs. This is especially true when these beliefs are held strongly by people you love and respect. It may feel disloyal to adopt new beliefs that are counter to previously held ones. Wisdom. It’s true in cards as well as leading, “…know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em.” Some ideas are ahead of their time. Some ideas are past their expiration date. There is no one right way to lead. Behavior, not fancy words, and results, not lofty ideas, are key indicators of leadership. Where are the leaders in your business?...

The Main Thing Leaders Should Know About Focus

Businesses limit success by losing focus on what is most important. Businesses suffer from ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), too. For example, this week at a member recruitment reception at a business club, a new member introduced himself. He is an entrepreneur with nine start-up businesses. He is interested in meeting investors with capital for start-ups. That is not a place where I would invest my money – too many irons in the fire to make success look promising. The cost of spreading your resources so thin is that everything suffers. With so many objectives, nothing is done well. In addition, people are confused about what is important. People find it difficult to make good choices about the action to take. It also sets up a fight for precious, limited resources. It is easy to understand why ADD is prevalent in businesses: Seems risky to have a short list Requires discipline to say “no” to the newest idea Believes the myth that everything is important Unaware of what is working Bored with business as usual The solution is simple. Be very clear about the business you are in. Know how you create success. Say “yes” to the main thing Keep score Change course wisely Communicate throughout and at all levels so everyone knows Use the grapevine to spread “true rumors” The focus of my Toastmasters club is building our membership. We currently have 17 members. At our executive committee meeting, we discussed various ways to recruit new members. We meet weekly in a 25 story office building. The focus of our recruitment efforts is the people who work here. We...

Forget Strategy Unless You Are Committed to Execution

Without execution, a brilliant strategy is only a brilliant strategy. I am an advocate of brilliant strategies. However, most of the work in an organization is executing strategies not creating them. Consider a strategy to take care of your car. It is an important part of your job and you want your car to last for a long time. Now consider the work to execute your strategy–the hours to clean out the garage so you can park your car there. Remember regular oil changes and maintenance are part of the execution. Take into account the consistent effort to keep the interior clutter free. I’ll bet your customers that ride with you prefer this too even if they don’t say it. When there is a significant gap between thinking and doing, it is understandable why many organizations fail to execute strategies. I heard the office manager of a small firm announce cost saving measures. Her strategy was for all independent contractors to carry personally the notebooks, handouts, recording equipment, and electronics for onsite projects instead of shipping the materials. No question that would save shipping costs. One project manager said to his colleague, “If she ever had to haul that stuff, she wouldn’t suggest such a thing. We look like pack mules, not executives.” UPS shipped the materials. More reasons why execution of strategies fails to happen: People charged with executing the strategy do not understand its value Planners do not listen to what executors learn in the arena It is out of the question to change a strategy, even if it proves ill conceived The results of a strategy...

The Best Change Agent Is You

Many people attend events and leave inspired to make changes.  Often there is so much to do that they are defeated before they even start. Marshall Goldsmith, author and leadership thinker, spoke to 800 women entrepreneurs from around the globe in Dallas at the annual Women Presidents’ Organization conference.  He shared strategies to develop individually to go to the next level.  He did not say one word about how to change others.  Not one. In fact, he told the audience “No one who doesn’t want to change will change.” So much for changing your business partner, spouse, sibling, offspring or friend. As for changing yourself, Goldsmith said, “If you do not care, do not bother.” For example, if your colleagues think that you are rude, disrespectful and condescending, do not bother to change if you really do not care about your reputation with them. Change is an inside job. Imposed from the outside, it rarely lasts.  There may be short bursts of improvement only to return to the same behavior. In Mojo:  How To Get It, How To Keep It, How To Get It Back If You Lose It (2009), Goldsmith states that finding happiness and meaning in life is the basis for mojo.  His definition is “Mojo is that positive spirit toward what we are doing now that starts from the inside and radiates to the outside.” The solution to go to the next level, however, you define the next level, is to engage in activities that are meaningful to you and that make you happy. Sounds simple.  It is simple but may not be so easy. To...

Leading with the ABCs

  When the ABCs are missing, leaders undermine the success of the team and the organization they are leading. The building blocks of success include these basics: Accountability – expect employees to honor commitments Boundaries—have a clear understanding of what is acceptable and what is not Consequences—determine the outcomes that are expected Recently I met some talented employees of a small organization. They are frustrated because the same standards do not apply to everyone on the team. Resentment is building because one employee consistently misses deadlines and does not complete assignments. Her projects are last minute scrambles that engulf the teams in other departments, consume resources, and reflect poorly on the service of the organization. The best I can determine, they are not practicing the ABCs and it shows in tension, stress and inefficiencies. Without the ABCs, there are significant costs to the organization and its employees: • Low morale is pervasive • Projects stall • Customers are unhappy • Teamwork suffers • Responsibility rests with the manager • Inefficiency prevails • Costs escalate It is easy to understand how leaders find themselves in this predicament. It is faster to tell someone what to do, how to do it and when to do it—at least initially. The problem with this approach is that the “commander” still has all the responsibility. Employees have no stake in the outcome. They had no hand in creating the process and no voice in the deadlines. In the end, this approach takes more time and energy. Employees who could otherwise contribute are disengaged. The ABCs start with these steps: 1. Create a culture of...