Clearing up one big misunderstanding about leadership

true leadershipEffective leaders do the right type of work and come in all shapes and sizes of personality. Some drive results, some collaborate. Some are extroverts and some are introverts. Regardless, leaders engage in a certain type of work and perform specific activities, not unlike any other role or position in an organization.

So let’s make something very, very clear – leadership is NOT about personality. Having worked one on one with 1000’s of leaders in dozens of different type of businesses and scenarios, I have seen wide varieties of personalities that are very effective in their leadership responsibilities.

I have also worked with many people in leadership roles that, based on their personalities, people might assume they would be effective leaders but they were not. In fact, they were terrible. They simply didn’t engage in the right type of work and do it well.

Effective leaders all have one thing in common…

They have enlisted and built a group of enthusiastic and focused followers.

Thanks for listening and thanks for leading.

Lead well.

The 3 Most Important Leadership Systems

leadershipEffective leadership is not about personality. Granted certain personalities enable leaders to be more natural at certain skills.

  • Those with more outgoing, task driven personalities, tend to drive change and innovation more comfortably.
  • Those with influencer type personalities tend to draw people in and communicate with greater enthusiasm and create buy in.
  • People that are more analytical tend to be more systematic and detailed when it comes to strategy development.
  • And those that are more stable and consistent tend to build a more relational environment.

But effective leadership is not about personality. And it’s definitely not about title.

It’s about the work the leader does. Effective leaders do the right work, the right way.

Effective leadership requires having an effective system.

The Three Key Leadership Systems

1- The system for understanding opportunities, market potential and people.

Intuitive leaders have an innate sense of trends and understanding product development, market needs, opportunities and people.

Walt Disney, despite naysayers, somehow knew people would drive to the orange groves of Anaheim, California and pay $1.00 to go to an amusement park. We now have Disneyland. Thanks Walt!

Steve Jobs was absolutely convinced that a market of computer enthusiasts would appreciate beautiful fonts and artistry when it came to computer design. He was right.

By the way, when I talk about markets, that also includes followers. In business, that’s employees. Great leaders understand employees and people. They understand what matters to them and will inspire and engage them.

Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos Shoes, seems to have an uncanny sense of how to inspire and keep employees. In comparison, a typical call center environment has roughly 150% annual employee turnover. Zappos experiences less than 39% which included turnover resulting from promotions. He determined that people want to be happy at work and created an environment that really supports that.

For some business owners they are very effective at understanding market opportunties, potential and followers. Some people THINK they are but really miss the boat.

In order to lead effectively, leaders – business owners – must be honest with themselves and consider how effective they are at really understanding markets and people.

Regardless, there is a system for this and it really comes down to knowing the truth. The Level 7 Principle of Knowing What’s True suggests we get objective information about our theories. So if you think the market might be interested in a product or service, do a little testing or investigating first. Do some research. Gather some data.

Over the last year or so I’ve been exploring the idea of launching a new, very laser focused implementation service centered on helping companies get systemized. It’s all about systems documentation and the systems development cycle. The idea of developing a systems driven business has become more mainstream and easy to understand.

I recently launched a 6 week training and implementation program specifically focused on walking businesses through the specifics of that process. It was very cool seeing the number of people who jumped on the opportunity to get involved in the process.

If you want information on the next launch, click this link to get on the early notification list.

2- System for establishing goals, vision and direction.

Most business owners I meet have a pretty good idea of the direction they want to take their businesses. It’s sort of floating around in the atmosphere and they pull nuggets of their vision out from time to time as needed. But often it’s not written down and laser focused. This lack of focus and direction hurts a business more than most people know or care to admit.

Great leaders are very clear and definitive about the vision, goals, culture, standards and objectives of their business.

There is a system for developing these as well. In virtually every case, when I support a business owner in the process, I have found that walking them through our system for defining and getting these elements in writing elevates their confidence and ability to lead their organization dramatically.

This process must following the steps behind understanding markets and potential however. It doesn’t make sense to create a vision based on a situation where there is no or limited market potential.

In our Level 7 Full Access or i2 Program, we have a whole series of systems that are designed to help business owners identify and clearly articulate their company goals and objectives.

3- System for Creating an Enthusiastic Collective Focus. (A clever way of saying – effective communication)

Good leaders figure out a way to effectively get their message – their vision – across to others. Some leaders are natural communicators. People literally hold onto their every word. In some cases people might have some challenges or hang ups communicating goals and objectives. To those types I say, your people are not mind readers. Figure out a way to get your message out in a way that will inspire and engage them.

Good leaders develop effective and consistent systems and forums for communication. The hold meetings. They send memos. They do a video. They enlist others to tell the story. But they get their message out until people get it and OWN it.

How will you know if you are leading well?

Very simply. You have followers. Not employees who are engaged cause they are being paid. It’s more than that. You have people that are engaged, enthusiastic, committed and understand where the business or organization is going. They want the result like you do.

If you don’t see evidence of that in your business, go to work evaluating and developing your leadership systems.

Specifically:

  • Understanding Markets and People
  • Defining Vision and Goals
  • Proper and Effective Communication

Do you need a hard lesson in leadership? This guy got one. Wow!

If you are a business owner, whether you like it or not, you have the role and responsibility of leadership. Some are gifted…other’s need support, guidance, tools and encouragement to be their best.

Like the guy in this video.

Do you need a push? Are you capable of more and know it but just can’t seem to get to where you want to be.

Maybe I can help. I rarely do this but I am currently accepting a few motivated business owners who are ready to transform their business and their life – get more free time, reduce stress and build a scalable, consistent and predictable business that grows well.

If you would like to explore what working together might look like, cost, the outcome and benefit, without any pressure or obligation – (seriously I only work with people who really want it), then click the button below, fill out the quick form and let’s start a conversation.

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Are You Performing the Leadership Dance?

Silly dance Several years ago a good friend named Scott was visiting from out of town.  My wife, Scott and I went bowling one evening for fun. There is no other reason for me to go bowling other than for fun because I am pretty bad at it. Kind of like golf too.

Anyways, at one point in the evening Scott threw a strike and proceeded to perform a rather silly little dance as he chanted, "Follow the leader, leader, leader." It became a running joke for several months.

We have had many conversations about leadership within the context of these Daily Messages. Becoming an effective leader is actually quite simple if you understand it's purpose and the work required of a leader.

What is the purpose of leadership? In it's simplest terms, leaders create followers. The difference between being an average leader and a great leader comes down to how focused, committed and enthusiastic their followers are.

The work of the leader is essential broken down into 3 parts.

1- Understanding the people you want to attract to your mission.

2- Casting a compelling vision for all involved.

3- Effectively communicating the vision to create excitement and focus.

Leadership is not a title. It, like any other work in your business, is a function. A person understanding the power and benefit of great leadership will engage in activities focused on the three elements listed above.

When you do that, you can't help but create an organization where people want to  "Follow the leader, leader, leader."

How Squirrels Impact Your Business Growth

One of my favorite characters from the movie “Up” was Doug the Dog. Doug had a very special collar that enabled him to speak to humans. He was enthusiastic, loyal and easily distracted. He would often lose focus when he heard or saw a squirrel. Mid-sentence he would turn and say “Squirrel“.

I’ve observed how many business owners and entrepreneurs love squirrels too.  I am talking about the shiny objects that distract our attention from action and activities that produce optimal results in hopes to find the latest, greatest gimmick that will catapult their business.

Understand, I am not against innovation and improvement. I am all for it; at the right time.

Here are some key strategies that will enable you to be much more strategic when you consider potential opportunities for innovation and improvement. Doing so will increase your likelihood of success by minimizing distractions and squirrels.

Know Your Numbers

Often entrepreneurs are not in tune with actual performance of their businesses in critical areas. They monitor their success by guessing.

A client and I were reviewing their marketing and lead generation efforts. When asked about the performance of his various efforts, he had no idea which channels were generating leads or had converted business. He was wingin’ it and making very subjective decisions about how to invest his marketing dollars as he was getting ready to renew some advertising contracts. I recommended that we do some data collection and forensics on previous sales over the last year. Interestingly, we discovered some surprising truths about his lead generation and conversion efforts.

Specifically, we determined that he was investing over $40,000 per year in a publication that only produced one lead for his company and no sales. Ironically, he thought the ad was working and getting ready to renew for the next year.

The good news is that we discovered that another publication was producing fantastic results and we diverted funds to that media.

Not utilizing good, objective information leads business owners to be in a constant state of innovation and often spending time focusing on the wrong thing.

Be Strategic About Innovation

Attention is the new currency. Marketers are doing everything they can do to capture your attention.

As I suggested before, entrepreneurs can be susceptible to distractions and offers purported to make your life easier, sell more, improve and innovate. When you know your numbers and the truth about your performance, it will help you temper and resist the constant demand for your attention.

In one of my businesses, I observed our leadership team considering an alternative to a software program that we currently have in place. The new potential vendor was offering a lot of bells and whistles that sounded very appealing.

I challenged our team to consider the results our current program was producing and asked if those numbers were acceptable. By the time we finished the conversation, we found that our current program offered all the functionality and efficiency we really needed to get the results we wanted. Yes, the other program was compelling, but didn’t offer any real tangible benefit that would enhance the business.

Monitoring numbers will tell you the areas of the business you need to focus your attention and stay focused on what matters most.

Plan Sand Box Time

Entrepreneurs by nature tend to be innovators. They like to improve things and make things better. It is part of their DNA and can’t be squelched. A simple solution is to spend time researching and learning new things at a very specific, designated time each week. Get in the sand box and play. As an example, spend two hours on Friday afternoons learning something new or researching an area of interest. The key is that you don’t have to take any action after you’ve played. Just satisfy your need to learn and explore. You can also use that time to look for ways to improve something that you’ve previously identified, based on the numbers, that is not working in your business.

In summary, being more productive starts with knowing your numbers, focus on fixing what is broken based on those numbers and watching out for the squirrels vying for your attention.