Management vs Innovation: Take Your Pick

I cannot help fearing that men may reach a point where they look on every new theory as a danger, every innovation as a toilsome trouble, every social advance as a first step toward revolution, and that they may absolutely refuse to move at all. ~Alexis de Tocqueville

On Innovation

Let’s look at innovation. It’s uncertain, difficult to control, diverts staff from tasks and can be expensive and is the antithesis of what tends to drive managers. Don’t get me wrong I understand organisations can’t deliver on their existing commitments without strong and clear management.

However, experience shows us that without new ideas, products, or services companies soon become irrelevant as the market and society marches on.

Remaining Relevant

Consider for a moment if you will some of the big name companies who dominated the end of the 20th Century and are no longer with us. Innovation comes in many guises and although physical inventions tend to dominate our impression of what innovation consists some of the most important innovations are in the way we do things not just the products we make.

Whist you might be sleepwalking to perfecting your management system others are wide-awake innovating – check out The Idea Connection to see what is happening out there.

Even though every leader and every company knows they must keep moving forward and support innovation even the best can end up doing a poor job of supporting it. We blame “bad luck”, ”the R&D team wasn’t strong enough” or even “government intervention”.

Remaining In Control

However, we should look closer to home for addressable levers we can control directly. Often it’s the very managerial culture we have created which interferes with innovation the most. When management system are perfect companies enlarge but when they companies innovate they grow, adapt and thrive in a changing business environment. The effect is continued resilience and profitability in a volatile world..

“Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.” ~Peter Drucker

Essentially management is all about maintaining the status quo by enforcing budget control, time efficiency and certainty. They want immediate quantifiable results they can present to the board.

Not So SMART

This behaviour is encouraged by creating limited SMART objectives rewarded by incentives. When you throw into the mix the uncertainty of a creative process which needs time and money, managers start to sweat and find ways to prevent their reports from contributing; unless it’s in their spare time. Managers will say they believe in and want innovation, but their immediate concerns prevent them backing it up with concrete resources.

As shown by Johan Fuller and his University of Innsbruck team, a major inhibitor of innovation comes from a battle between motivational rewards and barriers arising from fear of exposure and a negative benefit-effort trade-off. The balance of this equilibrium flexes our intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to innovate or to play safe. Identifying which levers stimulate innovation and which stifle it are key to growth.

“I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.” ~Bill Gates

Effective Innovative Teams

Effective innovative teams draw their members from multiple disciplines and company sectors. When they join they take of their “management hats” and are invited to contribute based on their personal expertise, knowhow and networks. Why not create company “hacker spaces”  where playing to discover may create your next massive product or service? Even if it doesn’t the mutual trust generated will be worth the effort.

To successfully engage managers in the innovation process, concrete value-based objectives and clear yet flexible outcomes must be identified. Finite affordable resources must be allocated and an agreed time-frame adhered to. Most of all, you have to be seen to value the Innovation Team. It’s their effort which needs rewarding not just the wins. For every ten ideas maybe one makes money. It does not mean the effort invested in the other nine was wasted (see The Edison Principle).

“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.” ~Milan Kundera

As Dale Dougherty says in his TED talk, ”Makers are in control” I would add a rider that, “Users are under control.” Do you want your company to be in control or used?

Your Actions Today

  • Were you involved directly today in your organisation’s innovative process?
  • How much resource and time have you given the innovation team?
  • Did you overtly value and affirm effort as well as wins?
  • Talk to your managers and try to sense their attitude to innovation and the pressures placed on them to resist it.
  • Reflect on your personal relationship with risk and innovation.

Recommended reading

The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge (Harvard Business Review) – Vijay Govindarajan & Chris Trimble

Gary Coulton is the author of the upcoming book “Your personal leadership book of days – avoid cookie cutter solutions by using your Adaptive Intelligence”. Get your free mini-version at HERE.

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Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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Spiritual Leaders Fight Against Intolerance

Intolerence

These days we cannot switch on the TV or web without having to confront intolerance. We see it internationally, nationally, and locally.

It even affects our relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers.

An Increasingly Intolerant World

We live in a world that is increasingly intolerant, one in which violence, untruthfulness, hate, mutual criticism abound, and people constantly and deliberately do hurtful things to others.

People’s approach to other is frequently one of:

  • Opposition
  • Confrontation
  • Rejection
  • Polarization
  • Widespread intolerance

People are paid lots of money to be intolerant, and they gather around them a large following of insecure people who delight to find their own intolerant attitudes supported by celebrities and leadership figures in politics or religion. These political, social, and religious “leaders” whip their followers into a frenzy over issues that are not central to their original vision, leading to catastrophes like ethnic cleansing, or even to the deliberate, destructive intention of labeling others to demean or destroy them.

People develop skills that foster intolerance, challenging people and especially leaders to be equally skilled in opposing it.

Ignorant and Uninterested

Intolerant OrganizationsIntolerant people are generally uninformed or ignorant, either by force of circumstances or by a deliberate closed mindedness—a desire not to learn what other people think or feel. Their deafness to others’ views and their unwillingness to search for common ground give rise to hatred for anyone who thinks differently than themselves.

Closed mindedness atrophies thought, but since knowledge is the basis of love it also stunts any ability to grow in understanding and love. Closed mindedness is not a normal characteristic of human beings who innately search for meaning, understanding, and enlightenment.

But, people are trained and initiated into closed mindedness generally by social, political, educational, or religious figures.

Some local groups or entire nations are known for their open-mindedness, and others for their closed mindedness. However, intolerant behavior is now a serious cultural problem that demands the attention of spiritual leaders who should model and teach tolerance

Rejecting a Bigger Picture

Most people do not think they are intolerant. Rather, they have false justification for their behavior. Many think they are being principled, consider their views the only acceptable ones, and see any attempt to understand others as weakness. Our society is riddled with extreme fundamentalism in politics, choice of political parties, judicial practice, approaches to foreign policy, and all sorts of issues in religion.

Litmus tests are everywhere, and any divergence from the acceptable, myopic views is rejected, and those who hold different views are despised.

Some of the most complicated contemporary issues receive simplistic answers from people who will not or cannot think things through. Such people often act like bulldozers, flattening all other ideas in their path.

Rejecting Intolerant Behavior

People who seek spiritual depth in their leadership need to reject all forms of intolerant behavior. This will mean first and foremost accepting the need to constantly learn anew, to appreciate that some change and adaptability guarantees the genuineness of values we hold. Never to change means always to live in the past.

We must have exceptional listening skills to understand others’ words, their deeper yearnings, their struggles, and their hopes.

We will need to be people of genuine dialogue, even with others who lack such skills. We can read and study with the desire to be more informed. From time to time we should rethink our own views, either to conclude in reaffirming them or to change them when we notice a loss of focus.

So many drag along behind them ideas from the past, emphasize what dedication used to be two thousand years ago. Intolerant behavior that closes the door on new ways of thinking and doing leads to myopic approaches that quickly destroy society—civic and religious. Spiritual leaders must react to this and give birth to tolerant behavior in every aspect of an organization.

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Dr. Leonard Doohand

Dr. Leonard Doohan  is an Author and Workshop Presenter
He focuses on issues of spiritual leadership
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On Leadership and The Value You Bring Your Followers

Value Proposition

So Leaders: What’s your value proposition to your followers?

The employee is regarded by the employer merely in the light of his value as an operative. His productive capacity alone is taken into account.” ~ Leland Stanford

Compelling Value Proposition

In the world of modern sales and marketing, providing customers and clients with a compelling value proposition is the maxim.

  • Companies strive to engage by enticing potential customers with a vision of what life might be like if their pain were removed or they could achieve their dream.
  • Every effort is expended to nurture the customer until they beg to find out how this dream can be realised.
  • Then and only then is the solution provided and heaven help the company that fails to deliver the promised value.
  • This is not an equal exchange of value because modern consumers expect value greater than the money they pay.

Why then do many employers not have the same value proposition approach to their most valuable capital, their employees?

Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning.” ~ Warren G. Bennis

Making Value Choices

All organisations want to recruit and retain high potential internally motivated staff to achieve the company mission.

>>> So what’s in it for the employee and why should they choose you over other opportunities.

>>> More importantly, what is it you do for them that would make them want to stay? (It is not just about money…)

>>> What is your value proposition for them and how do you intend to deliver it persistently and consistently?

Making Monetary Choices

To paraphrase Vernon Hill at Metro Bank, how do you turn your staff into fans not just your customers?

Telefonica O2 said, “An organisation that does not enlist its own staff to its ‘fan base’ is not maximising its long-term value.

Does it make a financial difference?

Towers Perrin-ISR’s 2006 findings four:

Those companies with a highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2 per cent over a period of 12 months, whilst those companies with low engagement scores saw operating income decline by 32.7 per cent over the same period.

Over a 12 month period, those companies with high engagement scores demonstrated a 13.7 per cent improvement in net income growth whilst those with low engagement saw net income growth decline by 3.8 per cent.

Making Value Propositions

You can find much more on the business benefits of a values proposition to employees in a report to the UK Government “Engaging for success: enhancing performance through employee engagement

So, let’s look at the employer/employee relationship at its most basic.

An employee offers their effort and expertise to an organisation and in turn they gain reward most usually but not always in the form of money. Balancing the equation is the hard part. The employee wants a fair reward for a certain level of input and the employer wants the maximum amount of input from the employee for as little as is reasonable to pay them.

It might be expressed as:

Motivation = Perception of benefits minus Perception of costs

The ideal situation arises when an employee invests “above and beyond the call of duty” just because they are motivated to do so by other factors outside of remuneration. Somehow their internal motivation has been triggered and they are self-sustaining. What value can you the employer give to your staff which would likely catalyse this behaviour or at least create the environment for it to develop? Peter Drucker said:

The true business of every company is to make and keep customers.” ~ Peter Drucker

But he also said:

Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.”

If we synthesise the two we might get:

The true business of every company (organization) is to make it easy for its staff to make and keep clients

The Tangible and Intangible Factors

The value given to followers comprises both tangible and intangible factors.

Key contributions might be:

  • Authentic listening
  • Identification of direct interferences restricting employees’ capability to achieve goals
  • Mitigating or removing such interferences

This is essentially the same thinking used daily by sales people to convert a prospect into a customer. Warm the prospect up first with sincere enquiry to identify their pains and dreams and then explain how the pain can be removed or their dreams achieved by your product or service.

You can find a compilation of the personal visions of 12 TED speakers on the subject of inspiring, values proposition-based leadership here.

Sellling The Vision

Ask yourself tehse questions:

  • So, how might your task as a leader alter if you considered your purpose was to “sell” the vision of working (and staying) with your organisation as a value proposition?
  • What value would they receive in “buying” into your offer?
  • How can you maintain, nuance and increase the value they receive in order to keep them?

This does not mean you roll over and give more than you can afford but we are not just talking about the money here. As has been proven so many times the last thing you talk about with sales prospects is the cost the first is what will change for them and by how much. Why would you expect the mindset of your staff to be different?

Your key actions for today

  • In today’s conversations with staff did you add value or take it?
  • Are your organisation’s job adverts value propositions?
  • Review one report’s job description today – on a scale of 1 to 10 is this a value proposition or a description of demands (i.e. tasks and responsibilities).

Further Reading

Drucker on Leadership: New Lessons from the Father of Modern ManagementWilliam A. Cohen PhD

For those will an interest in basic research on the psychology of business:

Harter, Hayes and Schmidt (Gallup, U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and University of Iowa) Business-Unit-Level Relationship Between Employee Satisfaction, Employee Engagement, and Business Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

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——————– 
Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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On Leadership and Reaching Beyond Wonder

Wonderment

Leadership is understanding the balance between the push for purpose and the need for action. Human beings are drawn to thoughts of what’s possible and what could be. We are built for a focus on a brighter future.

But a critical leadership skill is to the ability to link today’s actions to that possible future.

It’s an ongoing dance between helping people get excited about the wonderful future possibilities while not getting stuck in a “wonder” mode.

 Anchoring to the Future

Highly successful leaders are exemplary at creating a cultural anchor to aspirations for a better future. This is where the organization is successful as a result of a philosophy or guiding principle.  Successful leaders speak about it every chance they get.

Creating a culture where people are thinking about how to get things done through the lens of that philosophy is exemplified here:

  • Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes.” ~ Tony Hsieh
  • Connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, low-cost air travel.” ~ Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kellarher
  • “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” ~The first of Google’s “10 things” (that are the foundation of their culture)

What all of these statements/sentiments have in common is they are guiding principles or the guard rails of how decisions are made in these organizations.

  • Nothing is done at Zappos that would ever undermine the customer experience.
  • Southwest will seldom hire someone that is not fun or has a good sense of humor.
  • Google won’t tolerate people that don’t abide by their “10 things.”

Leaders in these many other organizations work very hard to speak about and act on these principles or “purpose.” Each of their actions emanate from them.

So why isn’t it easy just to say things like this and every company turn into Zappo’s?  Don’t most organizations have “guiding principles” or Mission Statements?  Why don’t people just get on board and make it happen?

Linking Actions to that Future

Many  leaders don’t take the next logical step.  They forget to create causal links between the future they’ve been sharing and the actions necessary to take to get there.

There is a a tendency to believe that people should just understand why an action, task, or project is necessary to get to that intended future.  But the truth is they do not.  If leaders don’t intentionally make that causal link, then people will make up their own meaning.  Usually this meaning is neither powerful nor is it attached to an intended future.

This can lead to outcomes that are not in line with that intended future:

  • Irate customers – My wife’s recent interaction with a car dealership while trying to get a refund. She dealt with the folks from the “back office” until she wrote a letter to the owner of the dealership and put something out on Yelp that she got no service.
  • Lost sales – Ron Johnson’s failed strategy at JC Penny. SO many employees didn’t know how to act or what they were to do differently in the new paradigm.
  • Bad publicity – As evidenced by the recent recorded call regarding a customer trying to cancel their Comcast account

The list is really endless.  But the bottom-line is that when people don’t know how their role, action, task or project fits into the bigger picture, they are left to wonder.  The result is almost never that good.

So…

So what can a leader do?

A simple and direct method is to make sure that every role, task, or project links directly to the future that the leader has envisioned.

If the leader’s vision of the organization is to revolutionize how people buy clothing products on the internet by delivering the best customer service, then each process that is developed needs to be in line with that intention.

A Great Example

For example, the new employee training must be grounded in delivering a unique and powerful customer experience.  This training should be so intense that at the end of it people are given the opportunity to leave the company with pay.

You can imagine that the conversation about developing that new employee training was something like this:

“We need to create an on boarding experience that ensures the people we hire understand that every action they take should be in support of the customer experience.  At the end they should be able to determine if they see themselves in that future.

As opposed to this:

“Okay, we need to create an on boarding program that gets people in and out in about a week.  It should teach them all our most important processes and make them aware of our employee code of conduct.”

Leaders must not only create the vision of the future, but tie everything back to it. Without anchoring and linking, leaders can leave people in a state of wonder.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

When people are left in a state of wonder they do things like this:

I was checking out at a big box store with my elderly Mom and some small kids in tow.  A pair of $8 shoes I was buying rang up for $10.

I questioned the clerk on the price.

She said “No they rang up for $10. You can go back there and check it yourself.”

I wasn’t about to do that, so I just settled up for the $10 and left the store frustrated at the experience. Grrrrrr… 

When I got home, I pulled the shoes out of the box and guess what. The actual price tag on the shoes said $8! I was right all along! Grrrrrr… 

The next day I went back to the customer service department for a refund and happened to be waited on by the same sales clerk that insisted the shoes cost $10.

When I showed her the price tag on the shoes she said, “That wasn’t my fault; it was the cash register. I can’t help you.”

Uuuuummmmmmm………

The moral of this story: Don’t leave your team in a state of wonder.

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Anil Saxena

Anil Saxena is a President & Senior Consultant Cube 214 Consulting
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
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Leading Value to Your Target Customer

Leading Technology

Leadership metrics are almost always visible from an organization’s bottom-line. And nowhere is this more clear than in sales and growth figures.

But how does a leader retain existing customers and grow with new ones?

Reeling in a new customer and getting them to commit to buying a product or service takes time and money, and it can be kind of tricky since customers can be forgetful, finicky and often have no loyalty to a business.

It is really up to an entrepreneur or business employees to create that loyalty and make sure a great long-term relationship with the customer.

Re-Targeting Your Target Customer

If you’re looking to do this, make sure to re-target any potential customers in a tactful, inexpensive and efficient manner. Of course, this is easier said than done as it is not that easy to do without the possibility of causing some strife with the customer.

With this in mind, here is a quick guide on re-targeting a customer.

Follow-Up Phone Call or Email

When selling a product or service, a business should not stop at this point. No, instead, an employee should call the client and ask them if they have any questions, need any help or want to buy any more products. Now, when doing this, it is important to make it sound genuine and not like a sales call.

Customers will catch on and will grow frustrated with a sales call in the middle of the day.

However, when making it about the customers’ needs and wants, a business will go a long way in closing another sale and creating a better relationship with the customer. There are massive amounts of data available on when to do a follow-up call or email.

Mail

With a simple postcard, flyer or letter, a company can reach out to a current satisfied customer. With a target direct mail list, an entrepreneur will be a step ahead of the competition who is lost when looking for clients. In the postcard or letter, a company should send a coupon discount code for the current client.

At the same time, it is wise to stay cordial, respectful and informative.

To do so without spending a lot of money or using much effort, one should also keep it personal and put the first and last name of the customer on the letterhead. Otherwise, with an informal and indirect approach, one will possibly anger the receiver of a letter. Remember, a wise customer will sniff out a promotional flyer, and a business that can fly under the radar will enjoy a higher conversion rate when using direct mail.

Email

In this day and age, email is popular and most people will have an address or two. For this reason, this is a cost-effective and easy medium for one to communicate with clients. Now, it is important to avoid sending out spam messages as people will quickly tire of sales pitches or marketing material. Instead, when sending out emails, a business should opt for a calm approach and try to give value to the client.

The easiest way to do so is to offer free shipping or a coupon code for a discount on a future purchase.

By doing this, and complying with all spam regulations, a company can reach out to clients without spending much money or time. At the same time, customers will appreciate freebies or discounts as most people love a good bargain.

Social Media

Now, more than ever, one should use social media to communicate with current and potential customers. Just like with email, it is wise to avoid annoying or otherwise bothering customers. However, when offering true value or support to a client, one can go a long way in securing another sale.

Since social media is relatively new, most people will not have a problem receiving marketing messages as it is a cool and unique way to communicate. Of course, a company should keep it tactful and avoid sending out too many messages to followers.

When running an organization, it is crucial to re-target old customers. Without this step, a business will have to spend too much money on marketing and will likely have a hard time finding success in its niche.

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Robert Cordray

Robert Cordray is a freelance writer with over 20 years of business experience
He does the occasional business consult to help increase employee morale
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On Leadership, Feedback and the Fuel of Achievement

“True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes.” ~ Daniel Kahneman

The experience of giving and receiving feedback at best is a wonderful and enlivening experience, and at its worst can de-motivate and drive wedges between managers and their reports.

As Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman said “People join companies but leave managers.

So is it the sole responsibility of managers to look after feedback? This theme invites you as a leader to take a more global view of feedback by fundamentally re-framing why it is needed, how it is done, what might be the overall benefits, consequences which can arise and what is everyone going to do about it?

Leaders cannot work in a vacuum. They may take on larger, seemingly more important roles in an organization, but this does not exclude them from asking for and using feedback. In fact, a leader arguably needs feedback more so than anyone else. It’s what helps a leader respond appropriately to events in pursuit of successful outcomes.” ~ Jack Canfield

Feedback Gone Wrong

A major Achilles heel of typical feedback is that it is only viewed as an interaction between a manager and an individual report or possibly a team. It’s often one-way traffic and an unpleasant experience for those receiving feedback. Reasons for this may arise from poor manager awareness, poor training, pressure, etc. but perhaps the most pernicious is patchiness in the quality and quantity of feedback.

Interpersonal feedback functions best as an integral component of an organisation’s overall multidimensional communications system. The intention is to establish an atmosphere where senior management elicits information, opinion and perceptions from their staff, acts on them and reports back on their actions.

6-Stage Process for Feedback

Jack Stahl’s (Revlon’s CEO) 6-stage process for feedback aligns organisational conversations and manager – report feedback.

 

  Individual & Organisational Feedback
Stage 1 Value the person/people
Stage 2 Identify personal/organisational challenges
Stage 3 Provide targeted meaningful feedback
Stage 4 Identify and agree areas for improvement/development
Stage 5 Identify and agree benefits and consequences of improvement options
Stage 6 Commit your support and reaffirm person/staffs effort and value

 

Feedback is generally most effective when considered as part of staff engagement efforts as described by Gruman and Sacs in their research published in Human Resource management Review.

Setting the Tone

It’s vital for leaders to set the tone by encouraging an overall culture of open information exchange to develop (supported by robust and accessible HR & IT systems) making it possible to:

  1. Provide safe environments to build trust based on knowledge and rapport.
  2. Exchange authentic criticism and affirmative feedback
  3. Establish a cultural norm based on accepted feedback behaviours.
  4. Create feedback based on personal and organisational accountability

Steve Jobs says it all in his interview on managing people and the Apple ideas-based ethos.

He said, ideas always beat hierarchy.”

Re-framing Our Perceptions

If we re-frame our perception of and intention for feedback to mean honest, authentic, empathic, creative, effective  and productive conversation across an entire organisation then great things will follow.

Your Actions Today

  • Does your organisation have a communication system aligned with interpersonal feedback practices?
  • Do your reports get to provide feedback on you do you listen and do you act on it?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 most effective) do you know how effective your feedback to reports actually is?
  • Does your organisation act upon synthesised from all staff feedback?

Recommended Reading

Feedback Revolution: -From Water Cooler Conversations To Annual Reviews — HOW TO GIVE AND RECEIVE EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK – Peter McLaughlin

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Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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On Leadership and Morning Routines

Businessman Breakfast

Hey Leader: Does Your Morning Routine Matter?

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs

Successful CEOs and business leaders have different ways of starting their days. Some depend on established routines, mapped out almost minute-to-minute, in order to extract the greatest productivity out of every day.

Others take a more chaotic approach, believing that winging it actually gets more done than some preordained system.

Top 3 Things in the Morning

The sheer variety by which CEOs and others start the day begs the question — does your morning routine really matter?

Yes, says corporate wellness coach Mike Iamele, and here’s why:

Three compelling reasons for a morning routine

  1. This is ideally the time to focus on yourself (there may not be another chance to do so all day). This is when you “consistently remind yourself that you’ve got to take care of yourself first before you can possibly be effective at helping others.” Those who adhere to a regular routine generally get more done because their morning routine acts as a reminder to first of all, take care of yourself.
  1. An established morning routine doesn’t have to be perfect — you don’t have to run five miles every day, your eggs don’t have to be perfectly cooked, etc. What truly matters is your willingness to get up and get moving according to a set pattern that propels you through the day. As Iamele says, “The fear of failure can’t hold you back, because if you do it every day, you’re inevitably going to fail once in a while. But that’s OK. You’ve got a routine, so you just get up the next day and do it again.”
  1. The previous day may have been difficult, overly demanding, even a bit traumatic. A solid morning routine acts as a “reset button” — a time to pause, meditate and shake yourself free of yesterday’s distress.

Breakfast Counts

Not everyone needs a big breakfast to get moving in the morning. But health experts generally agree some type of breakfast is important for your physical health.

If preparing breakfast seems to take too much time, consider doing some prep work the night before. Slice up the fruit you intend to eat and store it in the refrigerator. Set out dishes you plan to use. Do everything you can to hit the ground running come morning.

Keeping things simple is another no-nonsense approach. For many people, a cup of coffee and an oatmeal muffin will suffice — or some other easy option like yogurt with fruit, a frozen fruit smoothie or a peanut butter breakfast bar.

Exercise Makes a Big Difference

Exercising at the crack of dawn isn’t for everyone, but even a little bit of physical movement can help clear your mind for the day ahead.

The good news is you don’t have to do the same type of workout every day.

Running, push-ups, swimming laps — whatever you choose, some strenuous activity boosts your energy level and helps you stay charged and focused throughout the day.

Start the Morning the Night Before

Some business leaders incorporate a brief evening ritual into their daily routine. At the end of the day, for example, Kenneth Chenault, CEO of American Express, writes down the three top things he intends to accomplish the following day.

He uses that list to get started in the morning.

Tackle the Hardest Stuff First

Once you’re in the office, don’t waste valuable creative time looking over emails or listening to voicemails. “In many ways, these are among the worst ways to start a day,” says Kevan Lee of Buffer.

Both activities hijack our focus and put us in a reactive mode, where other people’s priorities take center stage.”

A growing school of thought proposes that CEOs tackle their most challenging task or project at the beginning of the day. Proponents cite the fact that for most of us, the early hours of our workday are our most creative, energetic and productive (or have the potential to be). Why waste that precious time and energy on niggling administrative matters or chitchat with others that gets nothing done?

Corporate trainer Jennifer Cohen urges business leaders to start the day by focusing on what they least want to do.

Instead of anticipating the unpleasantness of it from first coffee through your lunch break, get it out of the way,” she says. “Look at this way, your day will get progressively easier, not the other way around.

What’s your tried-and-true morning routine? Do you have a favorite breakfast item to start the day? What’s the first thing you do when you get to the office? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay
She serves in Sales, Operations, coordinating, and Business Development
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