Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Strategy Definition that Can Make You Money

This is a very practical and very short blog.  There are many definitions for strategy and many people implementing tactics they call strategy.  So, what is strategy?  Strategy is a unique and/or sustainable competitive advantage.

Ask the question “Is this a unique and/or sustainable competitive advantage?  If it is you have a strategy, if not, keep working.  It may take you longer than 10 minutes:))

Monday, January 30, 2017

Want Leadership Training that Actually Works?

According to the American Society of Training and Development, U.S. businesses spend more than $170 billion dollars annually on leadership-based curriculum.  The return on investment (ROI) for most of this training is small.  Why?  87% of the learning from one-time programs is gone in 90 days.
Want to have leadership training that pays off?  Work with training and development companies that focus on creating habits and making the leadership behaviors part of your corporate culture. 
Make sure the training is phased, focuses on practicing and creating habits and includes coaching.  Make sure your program is at least 6 months long (preferably 2 years or more and ongoing).  This is the amount of time it takes to change behavior and create habits and this is also where your highest return on investment per training dollar spent will come.

It’s 2% knowing and 98% doing.  Find a training provider that focuses on the doing part and take your time.  The payoff is worth it.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

How to be One of the World's Best Bosses

The picture above is from the show "The Office".  This is not what you want to do to be the World's Best Boss.  

On the other hand, the former CEO of Delta Airlines, Richard Anderson outlined what he did to be one of the best bosses in the world.  What he consciously did, led him to get incredible outcomes for the employees at Delta first and then for the company.  Delta went from bankruptcy to become one of the 50 Most Admired Companies in the World in Fortune Magazine in just a few years.  As you lead a family, church, small or large organization think of doing the steps below in the order specified. 

      1.  Culture - Set, know, communicate and live the company values – Be Culture-Driven
      2.  Structure - Run a Meritocracy structure where people are there based on performance
      3.  Strategy - Set the overarching strategy by finding sustainable competitive advantages
      4.  Communication - Take the messages of the 3 items above to the Constituents (employees, suppliers, customers, Wall Street, Washington, DC, etc.). 

Starting with people (culture) then structure and strategy answers the why, how and what questions in the right order.  Communicating it all keeps people working together and helps avoid silos.  It is the order and importance you put on each of the above steps that differentiates the good leaders from the great ones.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

How to Create a Culture-Driven Company

Improving employee engagement and performance comes from being culture-driven.  If you work for a true culture-driven company you are probably happy.  A culture-driven company tends to have high morale, low turnover, and excellent results.  Culture driven companies tend to be best places to work.  Companies like Zappos, Chik-fil-A, Google, Delta Airlines and others are culture-driven companies.

What is a culture-driven company?  A company led by people who “live” the attitudes, values and behaviors of great people/leaders, and hire, retain, train and hold people accountable, tend to be culture-driven companies.  They are companies with people who have good values and the right behaviors and attitudes.  Most important, they are the companies where the leaders focus on the people and care about them.

What is the easiest way to tell if you are at a culture-driven company?  If you are generally happy with work and the people you work with actually like and respect your leaders, then you are probably in a culture-driven company.  If you do not like going to work, you may not be in a culture-driven company.

Why are most companies not culture-driven?  Most leaders in companies focus on strategy and structure.  Although these areas are important, the people are the most important and not enough attention is paid in this area.  Strategy and structure are rational items.  Dealing with people involves dealing with emotions.  This is an area where many leaders underachieve.

So if culture-driven companies are so much better than others, then what can company’s do to change?  Leaders need to understand the importance of culture first and be willing to get trained or retrained in culture.  Corporate culture consultants and trainers are best suited to do this type of work.

As you go through 2017, think about finding out and investing in culture training for your leaders.  It will improve your employee engagement and performance and even your bottom line. 

How to Solve 5 Common Leadership Mistakes

Leadership can be difficult, and for inexperienced leaders, it can lead to failure.  We promote our best salesperson, engineer, accountant, etc. to a leadership role and many of them fail.  Why do they fail and what can we learn from the mistakes made?  Below are 5 key leadership mistakes.

1.  Doing everything yourself.

One of the biggest mistakes new managers/leaders make is trying to keep doing their previous job and the jobs of the people on their team.
Avoid this pitfall by learning to let go and training, coaching, delegating and empowering your people (in that order).


2. Not providing feedback or balanced feedback.

Leaders are there to give feedback.  That is a huge part of the job.  On a basic level, leaders need to provide positive and points of improvement feedback. 

When giving feedback always start with the positive and then move to points of improvement (not negative) feedback.  Negative feedback focuses on the past (you did this wrong).  Points of improvement, focuses on the future (you can do this better tomorrow) and helps the person improve.  Start by asking, “What did you do well?” and then “What can you improve?” in that order.  The order is key.  Always, always start with the positive.

3.  Not being clear on purpose and vision.

Without a purpose you lack a clear end-point and do not answer the key question “Why?”  Start by saying, the purpose or “why” of our work is… 

Some examples of specific purposes are:  “We are here to wow customers”, “”We believe simple is better” or “We save lives”.


After having a clear purpose, define the vision for that purpose.  The vision is a picture of the purpose that is more specific (you should be able to make a poster of the vision).  In the examples above visions could be “We wow customers with attention to detail”, “We keep it simple by keeping it short and easy to undersatnd” or “We fight for the best patient result”.

4. Lacking clear goals.

We are not natural goal setters.  We do not write our goals down and usually do not make them “”SMART”.
Make sure you work on goals top/down and bottom/up, write them down, and make them SMART - Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound.  Make sure everyone knows the goals and you review results frequently.  Praise the effort often and it will better guarantee the result.

5. Being rude and impersonal.

As people rise in companies some leaders tend to get more arrogant.  They bark orders, treat people poorly and withdraw and get impersonal.  Do not do this. 

Get to know your people and show them you care about them and their families.  Send personal notes, involve yourself in getting to know their hopes and dreams and most important, treat them well (they are your most important concern).