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    Entries in Organizational Leadership (7)


    Your Workplace Culture Sucks

    If you are like most small and medium-sized businesses, that it's true...but don't take my word for it, ask your employees.  If that sounds like a daunting task, chances are...I'm right.

    Unfortunately, most business owners and their key managers are so out of touch with their staff that the idea of fixing it is scarier than the conclusion that it's not-so-hot.  Here are 3 ways you can size up how strong (or weak) your office culture is;

    1. Hierarchy -
    Organizations have levels of hierarchy, that is a fact.  However, a hierarchy can often detract from workplace culture, limiting teamwork, innovation and business growth.  Whether it is practically instituting a management open door policy, having regular employee functions and incentive programs or building into the employee calendar mutual learning times, these all build into human capital and against uneccessary and bureaucratic hierarchy.

    2. Turnover - Losing people is not always a bad thing.  This comes back to the idea of "Strategic Quitting."  When you find people that aren't a fit, it's time to let them now.  It's losing good people, frequently, that should cause you some concern.  Generally speaking, people want to be a part of a winning team.  When Vince Carter & Tracy McGrady wanted out of the Toronto wasn't because they didn't like's because the team sucked, and they wanted to win!  Build a winning team by (a) Attracting winning people (b) Practice winning together.

    3. Relational Depth - How well do you know your staff? How well do they know each other?  This is not to suggest that introducing Wing-Night-Wednesday is a good idea...because it's likely not.  But understanding the challenges your staff face on a day-to-day basis, and some of their interests outside of work will allow you to build relationship capital inside of work.  Increase your attentiveness to your staff's strengths/weaknesses and likes/dislikes and I assue you that you will make better decisions in charting a course for each of them in your organization.


    Be True...Be Consistent

    Words that most people would agree with...unfortunately, like most things worth doing, easier said than done!

    I'm not an avid hunter by any means...And by "not an avid hunter" I mean...I've never been hunting, but I do have a huge respect for the patience, discipline and consistency that is required to be a strong hunter.

    One of the specifics of hunting that I regularly think about and use in my own life is the importance of having the right tools.  Big game hunting requires the right weapons, gear and clothing, but consistent in any type of hunting is the need for your weapon to be "true."  Your aim could be perfect, but if the sight of the weapon isn't true, you will miss the target every time.  That's a perfect analogy for leaders and true.  Set a vision and plan for your business and life...and be true.

    I was reminded of this when speaking recently with one of my staff, in our need to constantly be bringing ourselves back to our original business plan and our core values.

    New Business Verticals: We enter new business lines or change existing ones and lose track of our "main thing."  If we stray to far from what made us successful in the first place...we will lose it...somethings all of it.

    Hiring: It's easy to hire around difficult situations.  A few staff leave...and we rush to replace them, often making mistakes and hiring outside of our core team values.

    Consistency plays along with the core value of "being true."  Jim Collins regularly talks about doing the same thing (hopefully the right thing) over and over and over.  Success is consistent.  It's difficult to fake and you can only pretend for so long.  If we commit to doing the right things consistently, and our plan isn't flawed (which is a whole different discussion), then success will come. 

    The biggest mistakes in life and business are made in haste and off the path of our core values.


    Blog Stats Overload...Be DECISIVE!

    I don't often look at the stats of this site.  Overall traffic, keywords, geographic breakdown of visitors, etc, but recently I spent a few minutes looking through a bunch of stats and analysis.  Here are the 3 conclusions that I drew:

    1. There is a statistic for everything - Hey "Apple Computer, using Firefox, in New York State, on August 11th @ 7:52pm." I'm super thankful for your visit...I really feel like we connected!

    2. Good Content is Timeless - Blog posts that I wrote over a years ago still get regular hits.  If you write about stuff that matters...people will not stop finding use for it.

    3. Be Decisive! - The number 1 post was THIS ONE on being Decisive.  From the number of visits, to the keywords in Google (multiple spellings, contexts, etc).

    I was immediately struck with the conclusion that being decisive is difficult, and as such is rare.  In a manager/leader, in a friend/partner in a parent, sibling, name it!

    It's so refreshing being around decisive people.  Thankfully, the team that I get to work with regularly is decisive and pushes me to be as well.  I always say that I would rather have a decisively bad plan, that can be adapted and refined than an indecisive good one, that takes too many people, too much time to implement.

    A lesson that isn't as much learned, as it is committed to fighting against...Be Decisive. Be Intentional.  It's what everyone let's give it to them!


    How to Lead: Influence By Relationships

    Leadership is influencing and motivating others to work towards an established goal that furthers their organization and/or movement. Where there is any strong leader, there is a group of followers willing to be led. As such, it is the leader ‘s responsibility to establish goals to measure the progress of their leadership, in turn allowing those being led to evaluate themselves within the context of the group.

    The use of autonomy and ownership harness group enthusiasm and allows group members to work towards a mutually established goal rather than the goal or solution assigned by the leader. Motivation allows leaders to use the skills within the group, freeing them up to oversee the group and cast a continuous vision as progress is made. A leader is ultimately measured by is effectiveness, and because of that, the team surrounding them must be equipped and managed to support the goals of that leader.

    The act of managing fulfills many principles of leadership. Motivating and mobilizing workers, bringing out team strengths and working through team weakness ‘ are just two small aspects to the role management undertakes. The role of the manager can often be overlooked in the name of team leadership, as teams breakdown barriers and help to balance the disbursement of duties. Although effective, teams without a central vision and visionary behind it risk losing focus and developing large inefficiencies.

    One of the key oversights that leaders fail to release is their responsibility to cast vision and set organizational goals. Although managers require leadership skills to motivate subordinates to complete the task at hand, leading as a concept maintains a much more macro view of any given situation of conflict.

    The responsibility of a leader is to maintain a ‘trailblazing ‘ attitude, paving the way for others to follow, casting vision that sets the direction for organizations ranging from 10 to 10 million people. Leaders must have a diverse skill set and have the ability to prioritize and conceptualize solutions in order to maximize and define their role as a leader, differentiating themselves from managers who focus more on keeping teams on track and motivating employees. Servant leadership essentially elevates others to greater levels and motivates the team as a whole, increasing employee moral and developing inter company relationships.


    Stress Is Inefficient

    The issue of stress in the workplace is becoming a growing concern amongst managers and organizations everywhere. Workloads are on the rise, and in order to accommodate, so are the hours being put in by employees. Organizational structure prevents managers from addressing stress in high levels outside of the realm of the organization.

    By increasing workflow and communication within the organization, managers can limit workplace stress, attempting to isolate employee stress to issues within their personal life. Maintaining a low level of workplace stress is vital to the success of an organization practically in that is minimizes health concerns of employees, saving the organization potential heath benefit costs and lost hours to allow for recovery. By minimizing both physiological and psychological symptoms, managers can work with employees to address the issues at the source, breeding relational community at multiple organizational levels.

    Managing the needs of employees (both at home and at work) is vital to the longevity of any organization. Designing programs to help alleviate workplace stress, and assist in employee efficiency is a necessary step to successful management and a healthy workplace. As each employee comes from different situations and circumstances, it is important that these programs take into consideration the varying degree of employee values and expectations. The degree to which employees embrace the ideals of a healthy workplace directly relates to the ability to the organization to decrease workplace stress and increase productivity.

    One of the keys to minimize workplace stress is instilling order within the organization. It is important for management to take the initiative in breeding a stress-free work environment, using both programs and positive reinforcement to break stressful habits and encourage workplace community. Lower levels of workplace stress decrease employee turnover, boost morale and increase productivity, essentially helping organizations to become better equipped to run much more effectively. Career planning is a commonly utilized management tool, as it removes the barrier that upper-management often faces between their employees, and allows for a sense of worth an importance to be maintained at every level of the organization.