On Leadership, NASCAR and Changing Gears


Race car driving is a potent metaphor for leadership.  Watching any NASCAR race shows how many people it takes to keep the car running and get it over the finish line. 

An efficiently running business is no different…

The Leadership Lane

True leadership develops when organizations can unite behind a common purpose that serves their unique customer base.  While “winning” in business doesn’t involve high-speed left turns or checkered flags, it does incorporate some of the techniques that have steered NASCAR drivers and their crews to success.

A powerful exercise for many businesses is to simulate a “pit crew challenge” where they change the tires of a car in a timed challenge.  This forces teams to work together and communicate effectively.

In an actual work environment, team members may be less apt to work together, as they are more concerned with their own ego and position within the organization.

Teaching them about the power of a pit crew offers a different perspective on what it means to work together.

Manual Management

No one gets into a high-powered race car without a great deal of training, but we don’t always view our own businesses this way.  Although many businesses have NASCAR-level equipment, they may not have NASCAR-level drivers leading the way.

Whether through online business courses, seminars or specialized in-house curricula, making sure managers have adequate training and skills before putting them behind the wheel is a hallmark of excellent leadership.

CSR Sets the Pace

One area that is new to NASCAR and the business environment is the focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), which encourages businesses to get out in the community and help others.   By employing CSR, leaders can use what they have to leverage good publicity.

Think of the Daytona 500 when Tide was used to clean the track after a fire.

Proctor and Gamble thought outside-the-box and offered a solution that worked.  They couldn’t have paid for advertising that equaled the trusted exposure they received in those tense moments.  Effective leadership is using every situation as a way to give their team positive attention.

Strategize Like These Guys?

Did you know that NASCAR drivers don’t drive to win every race?  Sound counterproductive? Perhaps not.  NASCAR drivers want to be in the top 12 at the end of the season to be part of the final race series, but they don’t need to be No. 1.

Business leaders, too, need to develop strategies for staying ahead of the competition and getting to the final race series.

Leaders may not win every lap but they must plan to win the race.

Evaluation Nation

NASCAR has not been immune from the recent economic downturn.  Like any business, it has worked hard to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses in order to increase attendance.

Businesses need to do the same:

  • Changing Gears 

One way NASCAR has increased its appeal is by participating in community issues.  By having car sponsorships that highlight social issues, such as hunger among the elderly, NASCAR has opened itself up to new fans.

Businesses that get involved in the community and refuse to stick to traditional demographics will also benefit from a new base of support.

  • More Horsepower

NASCAR is enjoying a new influx of fans and appreciation for the sport, partially due to its focus on effective research and strategy, which proved to its partners that it was serious about increasing profits.

Businesses that take time to do the research and create effective partnerships by leveraging online, social media and community involvement create an environment where business is revved up.

NASCAR’s high-powered environment offers many lessons that can help leaders fine-tune their own business.  Whether reaching out to the community, having a team emulate a “pit crew” or giving managers additional training, businesses can get fueled up by repeating the strategies that brought NASCAR success.


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Jason Monaghan is Specialist at Notre Dame Online Executive Education
He serves his clients with development and distribution of content strategies
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5 Ways A Sports Mentality Helps Leaders

Olympics Gold

Many of the analogies used in business refer to sports in some way. Indeed, many of the attributes needed to be successful in business are shared with team sports.

Whether or not you have played sports, there are several ways that effective sports strategies can be applied directly to your role as a business leader.

The 5 Ways

If you find yourself striving to build a more cohesive and motivated team, consider the following 5 ways the sports mentality grooms effective leadership skills points borrowed from the sports world:

  • Role Playing
  • Resilience
  • Competition
  • Variety
  • Inspiration

Role Playing

Everyone on a Team has a Role to Play

Great coaches make sure their teams have the best tools, quality training and regular practice time. Athletes know their role, want to succeed and give their all to the team effort.

Effective business leaders set their teams up for success in the same way, securing the best possible tools, training and mentoring necessary to increase effectiveness. Each team member needs to have a clear role complete with team goals and personal expectations in order to monitor progress over time.

Effective teams are involved in their own assessment and feel comfortable enough to voice needs and concerns openly and honestly.

Teams start with trust. Just like the best coaches, the best business leaders establish authenticity and trust before all else.


Elite Teams are Resilient

Athletes know that winning means being responsive to change. A teammate’s injury, an unexpected weather delay, or an opponent’s surprising strategy all mean one thing: be resilient or perish.

Effective leaders teach resilience and creative problem-solving by example.

Tough times can bring increased team cohesion. Rewarding innovation increases the likelihood that someone on your team will offer up a winning solution when the clock is running down in the fourth quarter.


Competition Makes for a Stronger Team

Team players understand that competition is part of the game. Individual challenges, team benchmarks, and organizational records are motivating forces with varying degrees of rewards.

Smart business leaders know that setting challenges that stretch but do not defeat a team can be a strong motivator for ongoing success.

Establishing rewards that make the team feel valued, recognized and appreciated is part of what makes the team strive for excellence. Coaches know there is a balance in the give and take that must be respected and nurtured if the team is to keep up momentum.


Variety is the Spice of Life

New challenges and fresh ideas in training and coaching are vital to the longevity of excellence. High-powered teams need variety, ongoing and engaging professional development and a creative approach toward tasks.

Effective leaders mix it up to keep the team from being bored.

Visualization, journaling, and keeping records of practice time are among the ways to shoot for success in sports. Business leaders can provide parallel strategies to help teams review progress and set goals.

Providing “lunch and learn” sessions with other industry speakers, offering a series of webinars and making online courses available are ways to keep employees engaged and can also offer new perspectives on the familiar.


Effective Leaders can Find Inspiration in the World of Sports

Taking inspiration from top coaches and elite athletes can help business leaders find creative strategies to motivate employees. Establishing trust and integrity with your team may be the first step toward gaining support in order to take calculated risks and try new ideas.

In intercultural business settings, drawing from some basic diversity training the knowledge of areas such as sports can bolster your management skills.

Providing quality tools, education, and training shows your team members how much you value their contributions of hard work and problem solving.

Rewarding innovation helps leaders strengthen team resilience and promote team excellence to secure success over the long haul. Ongoing professional development for leaders and team members allows each party to feed the other with fresh knowledge and ideas.


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Jason Monaghan is Specialist at Notre Dame Online Executive Education
He serves his clients with development and distribution of content strategies
Email | LinkedIn | Web 

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On Leading Like a CPA: A Lesson in Ethics

Got Ethics?

As in most professions, CPAs can run into ethical dilemmas on a regular basis. However for CPAs, the process for handling the ethical dilemma and the outcome must follow specific guidelines as established by the CPA profession and its regulatory agencies.

The AICPA has a Code of Professional Conduct its members, and most other licensed CPAs, must follow. How a CPA manages ethics in accounting is often dictated by these guidelines, although it is obviously up to the individual CPA to implement the proper method.

On Leading With a Code of Ethics

CPA firms and other businesses often have their own code of ethics or conduct as well, either for their entire staff or specifically for CPAs.

These ethics and conduct rules guarantee all CPAs and employees act in an exceedingly consistent manner.

Whether your firm does or doesn’t have their own specific set of ethics and conduct, be sure you’re following the necessary professional standards and review your actions to make sure you’re following commonly accepted principles.

CPAs have the unique responsibility to provide their clients and the public with the security of knowing their advice carries the basic tenants of the CPA profession: integrity, objectivity and independence. Each of these qualities ensures the CPA operates on a higher level and is able to provide the necessary advice that removes them from the situation.

On Leading With Integrity

Integrity is a vital basic part of the CPA profession

Integrity requires CPAs to be honest, candid and forthright with a client and how their financial situation is presented. In order to ensure integrity, CPAs should prohibit themselves from personal gain or advantage using confidential data, such as insider trading.

While there may exist variations in opinion to how an accounting standard is applied, a skilled CPA can avoid being the victim of an unethical decision by following the proper guidance.

For example, any intentional deception or manipulation of financial statements is not ethical.

What is every leadership position had this standard?

On Leading With Objectivity and Independence

Objectivity and independence are also vital moral values within the CPA profession

CPAs should stay free from conflicts of interest and questionable business relationships when providing CPA services. Failure to stay objective could hinder a CPA’s ability to supply an honest opinion. The CPA profession usually limits the types of services a CPA firm or individual CPA can provide so they do not conflict.

Accounting services embody general accounting, auditing, tax and management advisory services. CPAs who perform any of these services for a client could be compromising their objectivity and independence if they also perform other conflicting services.

For example, a CPA cannot perform accounting services and audit services as it would involve them auditing their own work.

As such, CPAs need to be independent in their services.

On Leading Like a CPA

No matter your profession, if you do run into an ethical dilemma, be sure to consult the ethical standards that apply. If you have a mentor they may also be able to advise you.

Ultimately, the decision on how to handle the ethical dilemma is yours.

If you chose to be swayed by the prospects of hiding accounting errors or using your inside knowledge to gain monetary rewards, and you are caught, you will be subject to fines, loss of your license and even jail time.

The consequences of failing to abide by your ethical standards are much worse than the work it may take to follow them.


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Jason Monaghan is Specialist at Notre Dame Online Executive Education
He serves his clients with development and distribution of content strategies
Email | LinkedIn | Web 

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Leaders: Creating Next-Generation Leaders Online

Online Learning

Leaders take note: On-demand, online learning meets employer’s needs with staying power.

Are you tapped in to win?

Generational Workforce Trends

Every generation brings a new culture with them as they enter the workforce. In order to retain the best employees, companies need to evolve with generational workforce trends.

One of the biggest new trends over the last decade is the wave of quality online education opportunities for workforce employees

One of the most promising aspects of on-demand online learning is that it addresses many training needs all at once. With its versatility, it appeals to many sectors of the workforce and at the same time its cost-effective nature appeals to company executives.

Looking at the application of on-demand online learning across the workforce population reveals interesting insight into the strengths of its staying power as a cross cultural management tool.

Understanding the Workforce Generations

The Millennials

As the Millennial Generation (born between 1981 and 2000) continue to enter the workforce, they expect the technology at work to mesh synergistically with all other areas of their professional experience.

The Millennials that were born in the 1980’s are currently in their 20’s and early 30’s and bring an intrinsic understanding of current technological trends with them to their new jobs.

In order to stay ahead of the competition, many hiring executives desire employees like the Millennials who tend to have a wider range of technology skills.

The trick is how to keep them happy.

For employers looking to retain skilled professionals at all stages of career growth, offering on-demand online learning is one important way to increase employee satisfaction. On-demand online learning is catching on in the workplace for a wide range of intriguing reasons and remains a hot business trend to watch.

While the Millennials are a growing sector of the workforce, many in the generation are still too young for full-time jobs; overall they currently make up just over 10% of the working population.

While their soft skills often requires more development and according to a recent governmental study they do have a disproportionate amount of run-ins (requiring hospitalization) with inanimate objects due to texting and walking, Millennials are nonetheless a formidable competitor for many Gen Xer’s.

Gen X

Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980) make up approximately 40% of the current workforce and are an established group of professionals mainly in mid to upper level jobs.

With the recent economic upheavals, many comfortable, stable and mid-career Gen Xers found themselves out of work and competing with recent college graduates for jobs (especially for career changers or those who needed to take a job at a lower skill level in order to gain any full time employment).

Originally entering the job market at a slow time, they find themselves sometimes torn between going out on their own and staying put.

This group of job seekers and career changers are also actively looking at online education as a way to polish off a skill set, acquire new credentials, or stay engaged in a positive learning curve while seeking further employment.

At the same time, when they do obtain a job they enjoy, they want an employer to provide ongoing development opportunities as competition for top jobs is tough and being proactive is the name of the game.

Baby Boomers

To top it all off, the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946-1964) are not as eager to retire as previous generations. Still comprising about 45% of the workforce, many in this group lost retirement funds in the stock market crash and need to work to recover lost funds.

In addition, retirement packages may not be enough to cover increasing medical costs, and living expenses over an extended period of time, so many retirement age workers are choosing to stay employed as long as possible.

In order to bridge the gap in technology training between the newer and the more well-seasoned workers, employers are also finding on-demand online learning a cost-effective way to meet worker’s needs.

With on-demand online learning, they’re doing this in a way that allows the older employees to engage in new material at an individual pace, integrate their extensive skill set with new technology, and master new skills that are most relevant to a current job description.

Creating Win-Win Scenarios

On Demand Online Learning a Win-Win for Everyone

On-demand online learning in the work setting is great for addressing the needs of a variety of learners across generations. Investing in online learning options for workers is a cost-effective way to retain employees and meet individual needs at the same time.

Whether an employer is looking to train the sales staff on a new software platform, introduce new diversity training topics to existing employees, or engage a new team in information geared toward attaining a specific goal, online learning offers the versatility needed to make employees feel comfortable in the learning process.

Learning On The Go

Personal mobile devices make the education available nearly everywhere and at a time of day that is conducive to an individual’s personal preferences. Not only does on-demand online learning make it easier for employers to offer training to employees more effectively, it also allows a learner to engage in learning that offers the most relevance to a specific situation.

For professionals all across the age spectrum, on-demand online learning remains a powerful career development tool.

For effective leaders, on demand learning meets the needs of a diversified workforce in a fiercely competitive global marketplace making it a smart long term investment for everyone involved.

How are your skills?  Are you getting fed up constantly trying to replace quality people within your business? What are you doing to insure your team gets the best training they need to help advance their performance and interest in staying on board? I would love to hear you thoughts!


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Jason Monaghan is Specialist at Notre Dame Online Executive Education
He serves his clients with development and distribution of content strategies
Email | LinkedIn | Web 

Image Sources: bayuadhitya.files.wordpress.com


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