The Entrepreneur’s Need for Nimbleness

Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Often there is a false assumption that a good product or service idea will be a guaranteed success. The “If you build it they will come” mindset is a great cliché for a movie but seldom plays out as a winner in real business.

Nimbleness

No, success and long-term sustainability require a whole host of ever-changing variables. The truly successful entrepreneur figures out how to navigate these choppy waters, making changes as frequently as they might be required. Plus, when the demand is for them to change, they will accept the proverbial writing on the wall and go with the change.

Nimbly and gracefully making the right changes is what differentiates the highly successful business owner/founder from the rest of the wannabes (as in I want-to-be successful). Wanting and doing are wildly different positions to be in.

Key Management Factors

Several factors, which change in importance as the business grows and develops, are prominent in determining ultimate success or failure.

A study done by the good folks at Harvard Business Review identified eight such factors in a research project(1). Four factors relate to the enterprise and four to the owner. The four that relate to the company are as follows:

1. Financial resources, including cash and borrowing power.

2. Personnel resources, relating to numbers, depth, and quality of people, particularly at the management and staff levels.

3. Systems resources, in terms of the degree of sophistication of both information and planning and control systems.

4. Business resources, including customer relations, market share, supplier relations, manufacturing and distribution processes, technology and reputation, all of which give the company a position in its industry and market.

The four factors that relate to the owner are:

1. Owner’s goals for himself or herself and for the business.

2. Owner’s operational abilities in doing important jobs such as marketing, inventing, producing, and managing distribution.

3. Owner’s managerial ability and willingness to delegate responsibility and to manage the activities of others.

4. Owner’s strategic abilities for looking beyond the present and matching the strengths and weaknesses of the company with his or her goals.

Small businesses are built on the owner’s talents: the ability to sell, produce, invent, or whatever. This factor, in the early stages, is of the highest importance. The owner’s ability to delegate, however, is on the bottom of the scale since there are few if any employees to delegate to.

As the company grows, other people enter sales, production, or engineering and they first support, and then even supplant, the owner’s skills—thus reducing the importance of the owner’s personal skill set. At the same time, the owner must spend less time doing and more time managing or even leading the enterprise.

He or she must increase the amount of work done by other people, which means delegating. The inability of many founders to let go of doing and to begin managing and delegating explains the demise of many businesses during the latter stages.

As a business moves from one stage to another, the importance of the factors changes. We might view the factors as alternating among three levels of importance:

  • First, key variables that are absolutely essential for success and must receive high priority;
  • Second, factors that are clearly necessary for the enterprise’s success and must receive some attention; and
  • Third, factors of little immediate concern to top management.

If we categorize each of the eight factors listed previously, based on its importance at each stage of the company’s development, we get a clear picture of changing management demands.

Entrepreneurship

The changing role of all of these factors clearly illustrates the need for owner flexibility. An overwhelming preoccupation with certain factors is quite important at some stages and less important at others. “Doing” versus “delegating” also requires a flexible management mindset.

Holding onto old strategies and old ways will not serve a company that is entering the growth stages. Failure to find the nimbleness to make these changes can even be fatal.

If you run your own business but are feeling the pressure to make some changes, perhaps you need a Master Coach to come alongside and guide you through the thought process. That is what I do. I’ve been doing it with successful entrepreneurs for decades. I’ve seen businesses of many types. You are not alone. Leave a comment or write an email

(1) To read the whole study, visit https://hbr.org/1983/05/the-five-stages-of-small-business-growth Please note that the study’s findings were written in 1983. Some may argue the findings and recommendations are therefore irrelevant just because of their age.

However, ask any businessman who has made one of these mistakes along the way. They will affirm the need to be this kind of nimble in order to make the best possible changes for the true good of the business. The principles are timeless.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Do Your Problems Seem Bigger Than Actual Size?

Do you sometimes make things bigger than they really are? When you face a challenge, can you see it in proper perspective? Or do you have a tendency to make things bigger than they really are?

The great social activist Chicken Little was quoted as saying “The sky is falling” when he had merely been struck in the head by a falling acorn.

Big Problems

Blowing things out of proportion can be a problem if you are the one in charge. Yes, that would be a challenge if you do it on a regular basis. Leaders must keep things in proper perspective.

One of my clients introduced me to a new term “catastrophizing”. This means making a situation far greater than it really is. The way we entered this discussion was talking about limiting thoughts. I had asked the client to give me some examples of limiting thoughts they suffer. While a few of the answers were the usual, this one surprised me.

Catastrophizing

As an executive, you are confronted with problems almost daily. Things happen; often not as planned. You have to field questions, hear the news, and make decisions.

What if everything you were given was turned into something far more tragic? What if something someone on your team failed to do was declared a disaster when it is really just a setback or a simple honest mistake?

Think about the energy both emotional and physical you would spend dealing with such catastrophes.

Through my client’s own vulnerability, I was able to add a great word to my coaching. If you act like Chicken Little you will get yourself worked into a panic. You will be running around in a frenzy, stirring up others to join your panic party. Doing this is catastrophizing. Even if you leave others out of it, your own waste of energy and emotional effort can cause conflict and confuse the situation.

Why do people do this?

I don’t practice psychology, so I cannot even venture a technical argument as to why some are prone to act this way. However, I can share an observation from years of leadership experience on the job.

People who catastrophize often do so for several reasons.

  1. A Sense of Dread –  They are convinced life has been mean to them. The proverbial cup is half empty all the time. Therefore, any new event that arises must be bad. They are blinded to any possibility of a favorable outcome.

  2. Lack of Trust –  People who lose trust in mankind look at problems as people problems, all the time. Their way of thinking says the other person is the reason these things are bad.

  3. No Hope –  Theirs is a world of doom and gloom. They are convinced things are hopeless. In their minds, blue skies are really just a funny shade of gray.

Sadly, I have run into these kinds of co-workers and professionals most of my career. Thank goodness they are not everywhere, nor are they in leadership very often. But when they are, look out.

The biggest problem I see with catastrophizing is the waste of energy and resources. Whether the energy is emotional or physical, the expenditure of energy trying to avoid the catastrophe is great.

The Solution

One of the wisest words I ever heard was the phrase “The problem is not the problem.” Think about that. Whenever you are confronted with what seems like a problem, check first see if what you are being told is a problem is really the problem. Here’s an example.

Missed deadlines are usually a problem anywhere. Unless that deadline is a life or death situation, most missed deadlines are bad, but not the end of the world. Having a missed deadline, though it seems big and real, may not be the problem at all. Rather, the real problem may be with the process, procedure, or people. Are the deadlines even reasonable considering the mix of the above elements? Or has someone failed at their task?

Being able to properly discern the root cause of an issue is preferable to simply catastrophizing and running around like Chicken Little.

The sky is not falling. It’s just an acorn.

Question: How do you prevent yourself from catastrophizing your circumstance? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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It’s No Fun Casting Pearls at Mules

You know when you’ve been trying to help someone? I mean really help them, but they refuse to hear what you say? We’ve all faced the moment when we realize that someone is being a stubborn mule. I don’t mean to be cruel or harsh, but face it, you know what I am talking about.

Maybe the person is an employee or a boss. Or worst case, they are a family member, maybe even your spouse. Ouch! Regardless of the situation, there is an emerging reality that all of your valuable insight or suggestions are going unheard. The precious pearls of wisdom you try to share are falling on deaf ears. Here’s the solution.

While it is very easy to spot stubbornness in others, sometimes we are guilty of acting that way too. As a leader in any situation, you must at times deal with personalities that act stubborn. But what do others have to do when you are the stubborn one?

If you, the leader, are the one being the mule, the team will stop wanting to be open with you. They will pull back from the interaction. It’s human nature to avoid confrontation of this kind. In other words, it is easy for those around you to start asking themselves “why bother?”

What is Stubbornness?

Stubbornness is the tendency to resist any form of change.The person with stubbornness is driven by a fundamental resistance to being forced to do anything or experience anything against his will. The basic stance is, “No, I won’t, and you can’t make me.”

The personality with stubbornness is over-sensitive to the possibility of having sudden or unwanted change imposed upon itself and sees the threat of it everywhere. Anything new or different or involving change is perceived (subconsciously at least) as a direct threat—even if the change in question is positive and in the person’s best interests.

Like all character flaws, stubbornness involves the following components:

  1. Early negative experiences
  2. Misconceptions about the nature of self, life or others
  3. A constant fear and sense of insecurity
  4. A maladaptive strategy to protect the self
  5. A persona to hide all of the above in adulthood

Stubbornness is the most prevalent character flaw there is. We all have some degree of stubbornness within us, but more people have stubbornness as their chief feature than any other.

As with every chief personality feature (or flaw), the key is becoming conscious of how stubbornness operates in oneself. If you have stubbornness, you can begin by observing your outward persona in action:

  • Do I have a tendency to justify the status quo?
  • Do I generally argue against change or newness on seemingly logical grounds?
  • Do I often deride new ideas or suggestions?

The Deeper Dive

To fully eliminate stubbornness, you have to do more. You must agree to dig deeper.

  • Why do I resist change, newness? What am I afraid of?
  • What do I fear would happen to me if I allowed uncontrollable changes to happen?

Approaching the deepest level you may need outside help in the form of a counselor, therapist, coach, or at least a close friend:

  • Where does this fear of new situations come from?
  • How was I hurt in the past?
  • Can I let it go?

By genuinely exploring the source of your concern, you can calm the fears and doubts that cause the need to be stubborn. Yes, rigid rejection of change can look like stubbornness, yet it is usually tied to a deeper concern for facing change. If you agree to explore your inner resistance to change, you can begin to unwind the tangled views and actions that come out of being stubborn.

As you reduce the need to resist change, you can inspire others to be more open to bringing you ideas.

Question: What have you done lately to avoid being the stubborn one? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Portions of this text come from writings of Barry McGuinness

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Why Entrepreneurs Need To Move Away From FOMO

The ‘Fear Of Missing Out’, mainly known by its acronym FOMO has become a much talked about behavioral phenomenon ever since social media has taken over our lives. The word itself became so popular that it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013!

Until now, FOMO was a term that was applicable to the Internet junkies. However, given its psychological impact, it is now also commonly used to describe a human tendency. Surprisingly, FOMO has taken even the community of entrepreneurship in its grip.

Before we delve further into how entrepreneurship and FOMO are related, let’s first understand what exactly FOMO is.

study titled ‘Motivational, Emotional and Behavioural Correlates of Fear Of Missing Out’ defines FOMO as

the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you.

In this study, nearly three-quarters of young adults reported that they had experienced the phenomenon.

People who are experiencing FOMO are always craving for more and possess ‘I want that or I want to know too’ attitude. If they don’t get what they want, it instils anxiety and depression in them.

Now, let’s understand FOMO in the context of entrepreneurship.

The first FOMO that entrepreneurs experience is related to opportunities. Entrepreneurs are wired to think that there is nothing worse than missing an opportunity that could have changed their life. This opportunity could be an idea, an investor or anything that matters to launching or growing the business – if only I had an opportunity to put my idea into action, if only I could have one meeting with the investor, and so forth.

As an entrepreneur, you should accept that entrepreneurship is all about success, failure, and missed opportunities. It’s good to be ambitious and seek opportunities, but don’t let this become an obsession. Sometimes, you just need to turn down an opportunity and wait for another one. You have to take a leap of faith and learn to say ‘no’. Like Kenny Nguyen, CEO-Founder of Big Fish Presentations and co-author of the book ‘The Big Fish Experience’ did.

He refused to attend the popular reality show ‘Shark Tank’ which gives aspiring entrepreneurs a platform to make business presentations to the investors. Of course, it was a big opportunity but somehow he felt that it was not the right time for him to participate in his venture was only a year old.

Instead, he focused all his energy on making his startup the best among the others. Today, Big Fish Presentations is one of the fastest growing companies in the startup ecosystem. Kenny Nguyen advises his peers to focus on the right opportunity, not every opportunity.

Entrepreneurs also suffer from FOMO on success. Agreed that every entrepreneur wants to become a winner, but success takes its own sweet time to give its taste to you. It’s one thing to have a vision and another thing to forget the journey that takes you there.  You should not let the fear of ‘what my successful business look like’ to stall your today’s efforts to grow it.

Keep the success in mind, but do not expect an instant win. Sometimes, it is better to adhere to the maxim ‘Slow and Steady Win The Race’.  Anu Sharma, the founder of HR Practice firmly believes so and says, “It’s not always the big leap which is needed to start off – it’s fine to take small steps and begin your journey.”

Then, there is also FOMO on a commitment to the company. Give the time, energy, money and emotions that they have invested in their business, entrepreneurs fear of exiting it even if they know that it is heading south in terms of expected targets, revenue, and profits.

This kind of behavior is also known as ‘sunk cost fallacy’ which make them continue running their company even when it is not the best thing to do. They fear on missing out on the possible success the business can bring if they stay invested.

The millennial entrepreneurs are believed to be the worst sufferers of FOMO syndrome. In fact, a report on the millennials cites that FOMO is not a cultural phenomenon, it’s an epidemic. Entrepreneurship is a trend for the millennials.

Everyone has (at least they think so!) or is looking for the billion-dollar idea that will put them in the league of Azim Premji, Sachin Bansal, Sergey Brin or Mark Zuckerberg. They want to experience entrepreneurship just for the thrill of it, without thinking it through.

FOMO in entrepreneurship is good as long as it does not make you depressed, stressful or restless. It can have a serious impact on your mental and physical well-being. Every entrepreneurial venture has its own story and journey. You can’t guarantee success or avoid failure – you can only keep working on specific goals and recognize the tradeoffs.

This article contributed by Vijay Shekhar Sharma. It first appeared in Inc42.

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Merry Christmas: Are YOU the Gift?

Soon will be Christmas, December 25. I’m not really ashamed to admit that I still celebrate Christmas. It has been in my family tradition for many decades. I respect the needs of saying ‘happy holidays’ to those who may not be of Christian descent and choose not to celebrate in the tradition of Christmas, but for me and my family, today still has special meaning on several levels.

I would like to ask you a somewhat personal question.

Since the Christmas season often is associated with the giving of gifts, what have you done to be the gift for someone?

Yes, I mean you, personally, unashamedly, and individually, being the gift for someone in your life. They could be family, work, or community members.

It seems we don’t think about that personal, really personal touch anymore. There are so many great technological gadgets to buy for one another. We share things that have material value, maybe a special meaning, or other reasons for identifying a material gift. Yet I find it interesting that it is difficult to think of ourselves as being a gift for someone we care about.

Last year the virtual mentor, Michael Hyatt, wrote a new book called “Living Forward”. In that book, he and his co-author, Daniel Harkovy, introduce a continuum of human existence that goes like this. In their model, Michael and Daniel talk about three distinct phases of life. The first phase is drift.

DRIFT

If you have found yourself in a period of your life that feels uncertain, without direction, and maybe even without purpose, you, my friend, are drifting. You wake up each day and you allow the day to pass just living through the circumstances and situations that arise on their own. There’s really not a plan. And there’s certainly not a goal. Drifting is a state of our existence that happens to all of us. It’s not uncommon to experience a little bit of drift at some point in your life.

Clearly, it would not be a good thing to live your whole life in a state of drifting. You want to be able to identify a goal or an outcome that has positive meaning for the purpose in your life. So we have to get out of drifting. You need to be able to stop the drift and begin making some more intentional forward progress.

SHIFT

That leads us to the second phase which is the shift. Once you’ve recognized you might be drifting and you agree that you want to stop, you have to make a shift. You have to find a focus, a new goal,  and a plan to get you onto a path for forward momentum.

Making a shift can be as simple as changing your mindset. Instead of waking up each day with the thought of repeating yesterday, you start the new day with an intentional statement of purpose. You say I’m going to do something different today. You set the course and you choose to do things differently.

Albert Einstein is attributed with the famous quote that says doing the same thing and expecting different results is the perfect definition of insanity.

Making a shift allows us to break the cycle of monotony and repetition that causes drift. By agreeing to shift, we find a new focus, a new strategy, and a new direction.

LIFT

Once the shift has begun, you find yourself beginning to experience lift. You experience new accomplishments. You have a sense of progress. Goals are starting to be achieved. You find a new direction and you find levels of success.

The lift in our lives is what gives us the energy to begin to be able to influence those around us. As you experience lift, you have an energy that can be shared with others. Lift is a very interesting physical force. Lift is the principle by which birds fly and airplanes are able to rise into the sky.

Many years ago I decided to tackle a bucket list item that I had carried for some time. I wanted to get a private pilot’s license. I enrolled in a local flight school where I began taking the courses and learning the principles of aerodynamics. There is a very interesting undeniable force that happens with flight.

When a wing is moved forward there is a dynamic of the wind passing over the wings. The variation in pressure that occurs with that forward momentum, we call that thrust. But as the intensity of the wind flowing over the airfoil increases, there is this notion of lift that occurs.

In essence, as a plane gains ground speed during takeoff, there is no denying the force of the wing wanting to lift the whole plane off the ground. If you apply enough power and begin the forward momentum, that wing can do nothing but lift you off the ground. So the essence of flight is the ability to control that natural lift that is occurring.

I see great similarities with having a lift in our own lives. If you begin experiencing lift, there will be an undeniable force that you create. You will have an attraction to you that others cannot deny. You will have the ability to influence people.

The next question is, could there be a fourth phase of human experience? I say yes. I call it the Gift.

GIFT

As you move away from drifting and you start to shift your life and your presence, you achieve this lift in life. Ultimately you become a gift. With the momentum, you create by shifting and lifting you get to the point of being able to start gifting. This is the stage when you can help others. You can influence them with your thoughts, your ideas, and your compassion.

As you experience lift in your life, you become a gift to those around you. Your families can be enriched. Your workplace can be influenced. Your whole community can receive value and benefit from who and what you are. As you become a gift to the world around you, you become a thing of value; you become an inspiration.

This Season

Yes, this is Christmas. But while the rest of the world is thinking about gift giving with boxes and bows, I ask you again, have you been the gift to those around you?

It’s a great time to be that person, be that influence, and bless those around you with the power and the privilege of you being who you are. Now if you’re stuck in a drift, obviously your gifts not going to be that special. Maybe you won’t even feel like doing anything. But if you found a shift in life and you’ve begun to lift, you can become a precious and wonderful gift.

I wish each and every one of you a very blessed and Merry Christmas. Happy holidays. All my best to you, your family, and your business.

 

PS – Many of my clients consider me their closest confidant. We discuss things that they feel they cannot discuss with anyone else. It’s a tricky balance to build the kind of rapport and relationship that can have the level of trust you may want. If you are looking for just such a confidence, think about giving me a call. Let’s discuss where you are right now at work, with your family or in your community. Perhaps I can offer some encouragement.

CONTACT

6 Great Questions to Lead Your Team

Being a leader requires the ability to build rapport with your team. Those following you must have good reason to do so. Every time you have a one-on-one, you have a big opportunity to add to and build that individual rapport.

Here are six great questions to structure those one-on-ones with your team. Use this in some form or another every time you get that golden opportunity to sit with each individual on your team.

The 6 questions are:

Where are WE going?

Ask this intentionally so that the employee or follower is able to express in their own words their understanding of the current state. Let them tell you what they understand to be the mission and direction. If the answer catches you off guard, then maybe you have a big disconnect that needs to be handled immediately.

The “we” here is about the team. Be sure to gauge whether the individual’s understanding is in step with the team direction you hope for.

Where are YOU going?

This is a logical follow-up to #1. If the person expresses a correct team direction but shares a personal variance in what they think is happening, then you have another opportunity to connect and correct.

The where are you going question also measures engagement. When an individual has begun to disengage with the team, they must be offered the opportunity to reconnect.

What do you think you are doing well?

This is a great opportunity to let the individual team member express their pride foro what might be working for them. Let them share their focus. Again though, if there is a bit of misalignment, this is the perfect opportunity to realign, recalibrate the role and the duties to set the path for better performance.

By allowing the person to share, you open the communication letting them state in their own words the accomplishments they view as significant.

What are some suggestions for improvement?

Open the door for individual dialogue about ways to improve things. The people who are on the frontlines see things differently than you. Be open to listening to these observations. You just might get the next great idea.

How can I help?

This may be the most powerful of all questions a manager/leader can ask a follower. Letting them know you are there to help is the biggest proof of your commitment to seeing them succeed. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it, but use it sincerely and you will see team commitment rise significantly.

If something is suggested, you must follow through to get it resolved or delivered. Don’t let this golden opportunity fall flat on its face from your inability to deliver. If the ask is too big, then say so. Explain what the limitations are, but be real. Let the person know they were heard and that you understand.

What suggestions do you have for me to be a better manager?

This is last but by no means the least of these 6 questions. Again, your hope should be to receive sincere feedback. Your response should be an open acceptance of what you get told. If all you do is ask the question but recoil, then you’ve missed the opportunity.

However, if you take the suggestion and do something with the feedback, you build great rapport and trust.

Speaking of Trust

Trust is at the root of the best performing teams. Building an atmosphere of high trust keeps the whole team engaged with you as the boss. Having the rapport through regular, recurring one-on-ones with your team, using these six questions, will keep the trust growing.

Team Trust

Team Trust

When trust is present, people can accept bad news. They won’t necessarily like it but they can better accept it when they know you have their backs. They get to that end by seeing you make the effort to build the rapport at each chance you get. As rapport improves, so will the trust they have.

Call to Action

If you are a manager or executive who needs a little help with any of these ideas, perhaps a coach can help. To learn more about the coaching I do, schedule a call to speak with someone about the programs and ways we can help.

Also, let me introduce you to the Big 5 Performance Management process. This system revolutionizes the old, inefficient annual performance review systems. It has been implemented in dozens of companies, plus it has already won awards for innovation in HR circles. Big 5 sets the framework for fast, simple, and efficient employee feedback, guaranteeing your get the opportunity to ask these 6 questions monthly with each and every employee. Big 5 is a big winner, highly regarded by employers and employees everywhere who have started using Big 5.

To Learn More 

Leadership Powered by Common Sense

This is a tagline I like to use. However, it seems that common sense is truly an uncommon commodity. Common sense is a bit like beauty, as “in the eye of the beholder”. What seems like common sense decision making to some may be totally foreign to others.

common sense

Have you ever met someone who is so incredibly smart, but has little if any common sense? They could quote you facts and stats, explain very complex interworkings of molecular structure or other things, yet they cannot decide what they want for lunch.

It can be frustrating living with or knowing someone who operates this way. When you get a manager or boss like this, watch out!

A good friend once shared the thought that good leadership is equal parts of art and science. The science is the technical knowledge and understanding of details, subject matter, and process/procedure. The art is where the so-called people skills come in; being able to flex your leadership style based upon the person or group with whom you may be dealing.

I have to agree. The best leaders balance the art and science in their approach. The bridge between the two spheres is common sense. It is a proven idea when you think about the common sense being the switch that toggles between the art and science of leadership in a delicately orchestrated flow as circumstances dictate.

A good leader can gracefully shift when they sense the need to do so. The person lacking common sense tends to get stuck in one gear. If the question at hand is a technical one, they leader lacking common sense will tend to press hard on the merits of the technical debate, completely ignoring the people side of the matter.

The Conundrum

Common sense is not an absolute. That is why it can be so hard to realize. What might be common sense to some is a bad idea to others. Therefore, what I believe works best is to keep things simple. When the matter at hand is starting to get increasingly complex whether, by technical merit or deep subject matter expertise, it is valuable as the leader to take a step back.

Stop the detailed discussion and ask more objective questions like how does this feel? Is my gut sense right? What has my experience told me?

If you’ve ever had the privilege of working for a good storyteller leader, they have a gift of taking the deep science of a situation and boiling it down into an easy to understand story. The story often has nothing to do with the terms or vocabulary being batted about. Rather it has to do with the principles that are driving the choices under consideration.

That is an art. That is common sense.

The Uncommon Commodity

When I sat down to pen my first book, I was focused on what I thought I could share with new, first time managers to help them be more and do more in their new leadership roles. As the manuscript came together, it was time to decide on a title. I really felt drawn to this notion of common sense being such an uncommon commodity. I was sharing this whole idea with my wife. She said well, why don’t you just call it that. BOOM!

“The Uncommon Commodity: The Common Sense Guide for New Managers” was born. As it turns out, my more seasoned business leaders have found the book helpful to them too. The content addresses major areas of leadership and management using short, to the point stories and principles that get presented in a common sense way.

In my coaching business, I still see clients who struggle with being able to apply common sense thinking to problem-solving. On one hand, it seems they feel it is too easy to just make a common sense decision. They feel obligated to over-engineer the solution. It’s as if they were afraid of being found out for their simplicity.

On the other hand, over-thinking because of some sense of intellectual superiority never works very well either. The best scenario is one of balance. Let the facts come together and make a decision, whether by simple common sense or some other more elaborate thought process.

It takes a leader who has a capacity to do both; someone who can nimbly swap between the two as the situation dictates. But hey, that seems like common sense!

Leaders: So Much for Good Intentions

There’s an old saying in management and leadership training. Good intentions make sense, right? However, there’s a problem with that. People don’t know your intentions, only your actions.

action-speaks

For someone in a leadership role, your day to day action speaks far louder than the words you say or the emails you write. If you are responsible for a team of fellow workers, the way you conduct yourself is the first, and sometimes only measure the crew will use to judge you.

Remember, being a leader involves being able to influence others. Influence comes from a complex blend of many things, but the first item on the list is the respect you can earn from those around you. When you are placed in a management role (or take one on as in opening a business) you have a position of authority that only lasts for a flash. As soon as the team around you sees how you are going to operate, choices get made. If the team decides they cannot respect what you do, you will forever suffer the inability to influence them.

You can have the best of intentions to be a good boss, but you can miss the mark daily. All you need to do is step out of your office and do something that runs contrary to everything you say you stand for.

I’ve known some wise people and otherwise good managers who tripped along the way. One bad action lost them almost everything they had gained in terms of human capital; the respect of their team. One bad goof wipes out everything else. Here are some of the areas where these fatal flaws can emerge:

Character

It’s a bit old-fashioned, but people still look for solid character. If your actions set off everyone else’s BS meter, you are in trouble. Character is about your word. Can people trust exactly what you say you’ll do? Say one thing but do something different, your character suffers.

Integrity

When I look at the definition of integrity, it’s defined as a “concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions.”

Consistency is about being the same regardless of the situation. For example, do you know of leaders whose mood changes by the day and make rash decisions on certain days, yet calm and engaging on other days? This would be an example of the inconsistency of actions and outcomes.

Integrity stems from the Latin word ‘integer’ which means whole and complete. So integrity requires an inner sense of ‘wholeness’ and consistency of character. When you operate with integrity, people should be able to visibly see it through your actions, words, decisions, methods, and outcomes.

When you are ‘whole’ and consistent, there is only one you. You bring that same you wherever you are, regardless of the circumstance. You don’t leave parts of yourself behind. You don’t have a ‘work you,’ a ‘family you,’ and a ‘social you.’ You are YOU all the time.

Honesty

Honesty or accuracy of one’s actions requires intentionality and thought. How honest or accurate are your behaviors, actions, and words with other people that you lead? I was at a meeting recently with a CEO who cares deeply about values yet is out of integrity because there is a lack of honesty and authenticity in how he behaves.

While he says that he cares about teamwork, he doesn’t listen to others and gets defensive when challenged with different views. He believes in creating a culture of love but publicly berates and belittles junior employees.

Wrap Up

In today’s world, all the social unrest about workplace conduct is warranted. Too many people in positions of influence have abused their power by making inappropriate advances. It seems years of pent-up violations are coming to light almost daily. The headlines are filled with named celebrities or community leaders being accused of something.

While physical or sexual aggression is clearly the worst of all possible behaviors in the workplace, there are plenty of other failings that undermine a leader’s ability to lead. Fooling yourself into thinking your intentions are good enough pales in comparison to the actions you take each and every day.

Your action becomes the standard by which you will be measured. It begs the question, what was the intention anyway?

Question: What actions have you taken that might undermine your otherwise good intentions? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Living a Legacy

What does the word legacy mean to you? For some, it means following in the footsteps of your forefathers as in being a “legacy” at a college. If your parent went there, and you decide to go, then you become a “legacy”.

family legacy

For others, as the aging process sets in, it means “was this all worth it?” What am I leaving behind? More importantly, did my life matter to anyone?

I am not convinced people think legacy as much as they once did. It seems living in the fast-paced modern world has pushed us to do more, be more and somehow miss the journey. There is no denying I am part of the Boomer generation. By some accounts, that places me at odds with the anyone younger than 50. I respectfully disagree.

My wife and I are blessed to be the proud parents of 5; four boys and a girl. They are grown now and have families of their own, treating us to 7 grandchildren. When we gather as a family it is easy to see the legacy unfolding. I think about that a lot. What can I say and do today that will have an impact on those generations after me?

Throughout my life, I have chosen to be a perpetual learner. I love studying management and leadership theory. The more I read and learn about my chosen topics, the more convinced I am that there are timeless principles of leadership. To be timeless, something must not be subject to the changes in mindset with each new generation. Being a voice for a timeless subject helps create a legacy.

Leadership is just such a topic. Yes, we might change the terminologies we use, but the principles remain unchanged. I want to share with you my shortlist.

Key Principles – My Elite 8

Whether you are leading a team at work, at home with your family, or an organization in your community, I like these 8 leadership principles. I call them my “Elite 8”. They have proven time and again to be rock solid.

Always Be Honest –  In a world plagued with situational morality and dog-eat-dog competition, it is rare to find the totally honest business person or neighbor. Honesty, or lack thereof, is soon found out. There is nothing so valuable as a leader who has a reputation for honesty.

Leaders who are honest earn far greater respect; they are sought out, and they create loyalty in their spheres of influence.

Forgive and Forget –  People make mistakes, decide on poor choices, and sometimes just goof. As a leader, how do you handle those situations? Do you condemn and ridicule or can you forgive and forget? I’ve written about grace becoming one instrument in a leader’s toolbox. The ability to forgive and forget is the totality achieved with the ability to give grace.

Be Kind Hearted –  When you are dealing with people one-on-one and face-to-face, do you exhibit a personal warmth? Is there a kind heart that sparks that warmth that is palpable? This is a trait you can neither mask nor fake. Do you have the heart to be a leader?

In his book “The Heart of Leadership”, Mark Miller tells a story of a young businessman named Blake. Blake is struggling at work with his duties as a team leader. He seeks some counsel from a close family friend. I won’t tell all of the stories, but the core value comes down to this simple acrostic.

H.E.A.R.T.

The initials stand for:

  • Hunger for wisdom –  keep learning new and different things to improve yourself
  • Expect the best –  set a high standard and maintain your expectations for it
  • Accept responsibility – stop the blame game, take your ownership seriously
  • Respond with courage –  be bold with your decisions
  • Think others first –  be willing to be more of a servant rather than a boss

Keep Your Promises –  Expectations can make or break relationships. The promises we fulfill serve to grow trust, respect, and reliability. However, broken promises do the most harm. When you promise someone something then fail to deliver, there is a damaging break in the relationship. The next time a situation arises and you must make a promise, the person with whom you broke the last promise will be very skeptical.

Work Hard –  Every “overnight success” I have ever met or read about worked tirelessly to achieve their status. The equation is really that simple; work hard and achieve or don’t work and flounder.

Lessons from ants have been taught since time memorial. From the proverb instructing us:

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
provideth her meat in the summer,
and gathereth her food in the harvest”

Then again in Aesop’s fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper, ants have appeared throughout our life stories (and on our dining tables!). (1)

Be Thankful – Giving thanks can do so much to lighten anyone’s load. To your work team, give them thanks and praise for the efforts they show. Give recognition when it is in your power to do so. Also, being thankful helps sustain the kind heart in #3. After all, how can you have a kind heart if you never recognize the good things that might be going on around you?

Research has linked gratitude with an increase in self-esteem, resiliency and overall life satisfaction. It can also help you build new friendships and strengthen the relationships you already have. “There are two processes at play here,” Acacia Parks, Ph.D, chief scientist at Happify, a website and mobile app that provides games and activities geared towards improving mental wellbeing, told CBS News. “The person expressing the gratitude is thinking about their gratitude more, so they themselves feel better and their gratitude is stronger. And it’s also good for the person receiving the gratitude because they feel appreciated and it makes them want to express the gratitude back.” (2)

Never Give Up –  Persistence usually wins the day. Similar to working hard, being willing and able to forge ahead when all things are not going your way signifies a leader. Turning back or giving up when the first sign of resistance occurs will never get you through. You must stay strong; persevere.

As Sir Winston Churchill said in 1941 (before he was “Sir”) –   “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” (3)

Love One Another – I find this principle to be the hardest. In our daily routines, it is easy to cross paths with people we find we just don’t like very much.

As a leader, you must seek to find ways to build love with those closest to you; the team, your tribe, your family, or your community.  The power of love can overcome the worst of conditions. Great achievements come from the love and passion for being together, working a cause, and knowing you are loved.

Summary

Remember, having principle-based leadership is like setting a deep and strong foundation. The principles you choose to guide you will shape the character and substance of what you decide to do. In addition, operating from a solid core set of guiding principles will create for you a reputation of integrity and trust.

Principle based leadership

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