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...

Gardening Secrets for Leading a Team

  Regardless of the size, leading an organization is hard work. It is like gardening. You can’t just plant it and forget it and expect to receive a bountiful harvest. If you approach gardening with this mindset, you are in for a big disappointment. Being the leader of an organization and being a gardener have much in common. The results of your efforts can be rewarding but not always, no matter how hard you work. After hours of toiling in the hot sun, my two 4 x 4 raised garden beds were ready for planting. I had visions of summer vegetables just like Monticello. To my dismay, I did not harvest one thing. It did not thrive on neglect. Plus, a hot, dry summer did not help. To assure the best results, here are some guidelines from gardening to leading: 1)      Create an environment that is conducive to what you are growing. Till the soil; remove impediments such as roots, rocks, or construction debris. Make it as easy as possible for your team to work with the right lighting, proper tools whether those are software or jack hammers, and clutter free. 2)      Choose the right plant for your location. An orchid does not thrive in freezing temperatures. Hire the right people. Give them the training and support needed to do their job well. Do not put a shade loving plant in a place getting 12 hours of sun. 3)      Pay close attention. A wilting plant is screaming for water. With the right opportunities, your team can express what it needs to make a contribution to the success of your...

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...

Measurements for Success

We can find information easily and quickly today with the help of the internet, GPS navigation, and smartphone communication.  In your business, success hinges on having the right information about the right indicators at the right time. KPI (key performance indicators) are to business like points on the Leader Board at the Masters Golf Tournament are to sports.  KPI tell you if you are winning or losing.  A key indicator for almost any business is the cost to acquire a new customer.  Another key indicator is the value of an existing customer. If you don’t know your current reality or “the brutal facts” as Jim Collins says in Good to Great, how do you know how to plan or to make a course correction?  If you don’t know where you are, how can you make good decisions to go where you want? For example, I asked the CEO of a construction company what advice would he give to a business owner.  Without hesitation he replied, “Know where you stand.  I get a report every week on the progress of each job and where it stands.  A lot of contractors think when they have money in the bank they are doing well.  This isn’t the case.” If your business is not measuring KPI or measuring the wrong thing, you can be experiencing: Missed opportunities Bad, costly decisions Unachieved goals Confused employees Jeopardized long term sustainability Some underlying reasons a business does not face facts: Difficulty in knowing what to measure Challenge in creating the measurements Lack of understanding about the power of measurements Action not tied to measured results Inexperience...

Goals Trump Resolutions

Resolutions have a dismal track record of success. “Eighty percent of  resolutions are lying on the floor by the end of January,” said Alan Manevitz a psychiatrist at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan in an article in The State newspaper (January 14, 2008). In January memberships at gyms and fitness clubs increase and by spring the numbers have decreased to the faithful and the committed.  When I joined the YMCA several years ago, the instructors alerted us to expect an increase in the class size after the New Year.  We made room for those who had resolved to “get healthy.” However, very few stick with it. Some of the costs of broken resolutions Proof that we can’t and that we always fail An attitude of “Oh, why bother?” No real change in our circumstance The reasons resolutions fail to deliver are numerous They are vague and often grandiose They are easy to say and hard to implement They are all or nothing What can you do to develop a track record of success? First, take a holistic view of your life and your business.  Get above the frenetic activity to look at the whole landscape. Next, consider what the most important things to YOU are. For the moment, forget about what others are saying you “should” do. Finally, with complete integrity and flawless honesty, what is your circumstance at this moment? Seven Steps to Goal Success 1.  Be clear about what you intend to create. See the end result and use all your senses to experience it. 2.  Fall in love with it. Be emotionally involved with your...