Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sharing More

"If you have knowledge, let others light their candles with it." --- Winston Churchill

One of the biggest communication faults of leaders is the inability to share what is in their heads and heart in regards to the direction of the business. While the owner or business leader may know where they want the business to be in one, three, five, and ten years, they often have difficulty completely disclosing that information to their team members.

Employees are left wondering if what they are doing is exactly what the boss wants them to do. Some employees think they have an idea of the direction the business is heading, especially immediately after one of the monthly meetings, but that thought eventually goes away because of the lack of reinforcement and encouragement by the leadership team.

Here are four steps that can be immediately incorporated into the way you communicate to your team members so that they have a better understanding of the pressures you face, the challenges ahead, and the direction of the business:

1.) Tell them what you know. It is really that simple. At your weekly meetings or conference calls, tell the troops what it is that you found out about a particular client, the competition, the financials, etc. Don't keep all of the worries inside. Share the pain.

2.) Restate your Mission Statement. Or, in some cases, reinstate it. Remind your team weekly or monthly what the company stands for. Remind them about what was promised to one another and to the customers as outlined in the Mission Statement. Have them not only memorize it, but live it.

3.) Criticize your employees. At least the ones you have a beef with. Do this in private and as frequently as needed. Obviously, this goes against what you know and certainly what you read here frequently, but the point is that if you have an issue with an employee, call that person out in private. Let that person know that you have an issue with them. Explain what it is, how it affects the bottom line, and ask what the person is going to do about it. Then, coach them by cheering them on with their idea for the correction or help them to see another way. Either way, don't hold these things inside and then blow up and regret what you might say or do.

4.) Finally, tell your team about your goals. Share with them about where you see the company down the road. Where you see the team years from now and what you would like to do with the company.

When these four points are suggested to businesses, business leaders are later thankful and amazed with what this does for the morale of the company and how it builds cohesiveness in the business. A little sharing goes a long way!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lead with Speed

Too often I am called in to consult with a business leader about issues that are urgent in the client's mind--- at least when I get the call.  After hours of investigation, interviews, analysis, and pondering, findings are presented to the business leader, and recommendations are made.  Then, amazingly, many of these leaders hold off on making key moves that will not only solve the immediate issues, but will help to prevent similar issues in the future.

After years of experiencing this type of behavior, I think that I am now beginning to understand some of the reasons for the procrastination.  First, these business leaders want to know why the problem exists.  They want to understand how such issues flair up out of nowhere and why they never see them coming.  Second, they want to have some type of validation a problem or challenge even exists.  They want to be sure that what they are feeling, seeing, or sensing is indeed real.  Finally, these leaders want a shoulder.  They want someone to listen to their woes and hear them out.  I get that.  I understand all three of these reasons for initiating the call.

When it comes to pulling the trigger on suggested remedies though, it is tough for some leaders to do.  Leading with speed in this area is a wee bit out of their comfort zone.  Like most of the people they lead, they fear change.  They don't want to implement something that is different from the way they've always done things.  They don't see that if they keep doing what they've been doing, they will continue to get the same results.  Sometimes it takes a good scare or a good kick in the seat of the pants to get them to move on making the necessary changes.  I've discovered that once they do, they are glad for it.  They just needed to dive off the rock to know that they won't be killed when they land.  Leading with speed does get easier, but it is getting past the first challenges of change that gets the momentum going. 

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