Leaders: Filling the Talent Pool

Filling the Talent Pool

Startup Success: The 7 Most Common Mistakes New Entrepreneurial Leaders Make

Entrepreneurs bring a lot of self-confidence to the table. Most abandon careers, often lucrative careers, at which they excelled to become their own bosses. This is generally a boon to their young business.

However, their high confidence levels and competence at their previous careers can lead them to make a number of common, avoidable mistakes.

Here are a few to watch out for.

The 7 Most Common Mistakes New Entrepreneurial Leaders Make

1) Not Delegating

Many, if not most, entrepreneurial ventures start out as one-person operations. The entrepreneur does everything, from bookkeeping and marketing to product development. Once the business reaches a point where more staff can be brought in, a lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to let go of managing every detail; they insist on doing or rechecking everything.

This approach, no matter how understandable, is a waste of employee time. Even worse, though, it’s wasted time the entrepreneur could better spend on developing new products, making new industry contacts or closing new deals. One of the best pieces of advice on delegating comes from Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Media.

He said,

“The trick is to start promoting from within on day one. I’m not just referring to moving people to new positions, but giving all employees enough flexibility to take on new responsibilities within their current jobs.”

2) Avoiding Professional Financial Advice

Entrepreneurs frequently attempt to manage their finances themselves, and often with disastrous results. Unless the entrepreneur happens to be an accountant starting a company, startup owners shouldn’t try to manage their own finances. A good accountant can keep a startup on the right side of tax payments and help develop a coherent salary strategy.

3) Failing to Diversify

It’s easy for entrepreneurs to develop tunnel vision about their product or service offering. They spend vast amounts of time thinking about, refining, and pitching it. That hyper-focus, while advantageous in the beginning, can work against a startup after it gets established. Frequently there are opportunities to diversify products and services into closely related areas. One such company that managed to avoid this pitfall is Vivint.

The company started as a home security company. Vivint reviews and customer insights pushed the company to expand into home automation, home energy management and then into home solar power. Each move followed logically, or built on the experience, from the one before. Allow your company to evolve to what the customer needs, and you’ll ensure success in the years to come.

4) Trying to Please Everyone

Almost no product or service is right for every customer, yet startups often try to build products and services for everyone. In the long run, this approach leaves customers cold. A fully-fledged piece of enterprise resource planning software meant for large corporations is probably not the right software for a small business, and vice versa.

The entrepreneur that focuses on a specific target market and builds for that market stands a much better chance of making actual sales.

5) Rushing the Hiring Process

When it comes time to hire, entrepreneurs often take the first qualified person that applies. The reasons can seem very pragmatic. For example, the company needs someone for X process to free up the rest of the team to focus on business development.

While the business might get lucky with an ideal hire, rushed hires often wind up a bad fit for the company.

Startup organizational structures tend toward the horizontal. Someone steeped in the vertical structures common in established corporations may find the transition difficult and prove more disruptive than helpful. Taking the time to find the right personality, even if that personality comes with less experience, usually pays off in less stress and more productivity.

6) Launching Too Late

Trying to perfect the product before launching gives competitors time to put out a similar, less sophisticated product and capture an unassailable portion of the market share. Eric Ries, author of “The Lean Startup,” advocates for building and releasing the most minimal possible version of the product, soliciting customer feedback and refining based on that feedback.

While this approach works best with software, startups can apply it to other products. The company can always improve an existing product, but only one company launches first. Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, offers similar advice. As he told Kissmetrics, if you’re not embarrassed by the way your company looks when you first launch, then you are late to launch.

7) Ignoring Advice from Other Entrepreneurial Leaders

Everyone offers opinions, but some opinions matter more than others. Ignoring the advice of established entrepreneurs, or not seeking their advice at all, puts a new entrepreneur at a competitive disadvantage. Building up a support system of other entrepreneurs and business mentors creates a place to vent, bounce ideas and learn vicariously.

Entrepreneurs, out of overconfidence or inexperience, make a number of common mistakes. Those mistakes range from the annoying to the disastrous. By avoiding these common mistakes, the entrepreneur positions a startup for a much better chance of success.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————
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
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web

 

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5 Sacrifices A Leader Must Make

Sacrifice

You may believe that as a leader your job is relatively easy, where you simply watch over and manage the behaviour of your employees; this is not so. As a leader, you have a number of responsibilities including not only watching over your employees but ensuring that they manage their work effectively and that they are happy.

It’s also part of your job to make sacrifices for the company and for those that work below you.

Not all of these sacrifices have to be extravagant or draw attention to your person, but they have to be made for the right reasons.

5 Sacrifices A Leader Must Make

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sac·ri·fice [ sákrə f̄̀ss ]

  1. giving up of something valued: a giving up of something valuable or important for somebody or something else considered to be of more value or importance

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1) Sacrificing Time and Energy

Giving both your time and energy in order to help others and the company that you work for is a sacrifice that all excellent leaders make. This is an important sacrifice because you cannot regain the time or energy that you have expended; once you’ve given them to somebody else they become lost to you. By giving your time and energy it also means that you are working hard towards not only your future, but that of your colleagues and employees too.

2) Ambition

Another sacrifice that is often made by a leader in times of need is that of their own ambition. By prioritising the needs of others including your employees, you leave less time for you to focus on yourself; any parent will understand this situation completely and the same applies to any leader.

To truly look after your workforce, you must focus on their every need to ensure their productivity. By helping those around you to succeed, you may have to sacrifice personal pursuits but these actions will always have a positive effect going forward.

3) Authority

As a leader there will come a time within your job when you are asked to sacrifice your absolute authority in order to let others progress and develop the skills that are needed to reach a higher position. Giving up authority can be difficult and threatening but it is important for your workforce to feel that they are progressing and learning new skills.

4) Benefits

As a leader it’s your duty to protect those around you and ensure their happiness; even in times of difficulty and instability. If your company is suffering from temporary financial instability (as many have during the recession), as a leader you should set the example by forgoing any bonuses and if necessary taking a pay cut. An excellent leader would never ask of anything from their employees that they aren’t willing to do themselves.

5) Relationships

As a decision-maker, you will understand that you may not always be liked or favoured for making the right decisions. For example, if you feel that an individual is not pulling their weight and fails to heed your warnings, you may find that your only solution is to remove this person from your team.

There will also be other times where you have to reject salary increases or defend requests for additional work hours to meet a deadline but by being the leader, you will sometimes have to play the villain.

Become Your Best Self

You may find that during your time as a leader, there are many other things that you must sacrifice in order to become the best leader that you can be. However, try to be fair at all times and don’t ever ask anything of your employee that you wouldn’t ask of yourself.

So, how do you feel about the idea that leaders must sacrifice in order to succeed? Do you think that if you reach a certain position or status that you no longer need to sacrifice? Or do you embrace the steps above and think that you will be more fulfilled if you learn these lessons and apply them? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Georgina Stamp

Georgina Stewart works for Marble Hill Partners
She helps Organisations to Recruit for Executive Roles and Interim Management
Email LinkedIn | Twitter | Google+ | Web | Blog

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Articles of Faith: Who Do They Say that You Are?

Who Do You Say I Am?

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This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series here. Published only on Sundays.
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Have you seen the new movie Son of God? It’s an awesome display of interaction between leader and follower.

One of the most poignant bible verses regarding leadership is where Christ turns to His disciples and asks, “Who do the people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27-30)

A simple, yet significant question which should be asked by all leaders to those they are leading, whether first degree followers such as the disciples, second degree followers such as the apostles and believers, or third degree followers such as the Pharisees (yes, our enemies follow us, as well).

The Question: “Who do the people say that I am?”

You Are a Leader

You are a leader, therefore, you have followers. Who do they say that you are? Everyone who follows you, everyone you lead, everyone in your circle of influence and, possibly, everyone in their circle of influence, refers to you in some manner.

From your pet to your pet’s vet, your mother-in-law to your mother-in-law’s hairstylist, your virtual assistant to your virtual assistant’s assistant.

In your life, whether near or far, first or last name basis, direct contact or by virtue of association, these people have defined you, pigeonholed you, categorized you, promoted or demoted you, simply by what they call you.

The Question is this: “Who do they say that I am?

On Being Named

The Lion of Judah received several monikers in response: John the Baptizer, Elijah, a prophet, and so on.

He then turned the question inside out, exposing their sub-consciousness, asking this:

“What about you? Who do you say that I am?”

Gutsy Peter nailed it, “You are the Christ, the Messiah!”

The Finisher of our Faith’s response to Peter: “The Father must have told you. No one else knew.”

My Own Personal Experience

Now, this is by no means, a comparison, but recently, I serendipitously learned what “they” (the “they” being those as referenced above) call me.

A reporter from our local newspaper wrote about me, calling me a slew of predictable names, self-proclaimed names that I had keenly persuaded my community to call me: writer, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, trustee (of a community college), and volunteer.

But, there was another term she used, one that wasn’t included in my marketing repertoire.

When she called me this name, like Peter, she nailed it! And, I knew that the FATHER had given it to her because no one else had verbalized it, certainly not me. It was a truth I may have realized it; but, never actualized, never embraced.

Assuming that she was using the term in its most positive connotation, yet intrigued in her so doing, I picked up the phone and dialed her number. When she answered, I said – with half of my accusatory voice implying a TV courtroom libel suit, the other half venerating as I sensed an addendum to my dossier had just been signed off by the Creator of the Universe.

“What did you just call me?”

She was caught off guard; perplexed even.

“Did I get something wrong?”

You see, as I am constantly cheering her on for the fantastic, professional, neutral journalist that she is, she had never imagined such an encounter as this…from me.

Before I could answer, she began reciting her adjectives.

“Yes,” I interjected, “you said all that, but you said something else.”

She drew a blank. So much pressure!

Finally, I said, “You called me a ‘civic activist.’”

She explained with the sincerity of encouraging intentions,

“Of course I did. That’s what you are. That’s how I see you. That’s how I’ve always seen you.”

It was the sound of her voice traveling through the airwaves, but it was the Voice which I heard, just as Christ must have heard as He read Peter’s lips. The Voice said

“You are truly blessed. It was I who told her what you are because it is I who created you. You are a leader; a civic activist, a compassionate advocate who loves your fellow-man and yourself equally, and who loves Me with all of your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.”

And with His gift of infinite instruction, He said “Now walk ye in it!”

Getting Ready For Your Next Level

Has the LORD blessed you with such a revelation?  Do you sense He is preparing to do so?  If your answer is yes, I would suggest you grab the safety bar, and hold on!

Your leadership feathers, having been clipped by the dull shears of unawareness, are growing in.   And you are being instructed to “walk ye in it!”

Now let’s contemplate a few questions:

  • Who are your followers: first, second and third degree levels?
  • Who do they say that you are?
  • Have you even asked or are you waiting – like Chicken Little – for the words to fall out of the sky?
  • Who do you say that you are?
  • Who does the FATHER say that you are?

And finally, do you walk yet in it?

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Donna Clements

Donna Clements is a Professional Writer and Motivator
She inspires Positive Social and Individual Change
Email | LinkedIn |  Web | http://www.wordpearlspress.com/

Image Sources: preacherontheplaza.files.wordpress.com

Building Better Relationships, Building Better Business

Organizational Love

As an organizational communication professional, my goal is to help organizations do what they do, better. And I am very passionate about it!  

My earnest belief is that whether in a corporate, nonprofit, institutional, or government environment, employees are an organization’s greatest resource.

As such, developing and maximizing mutually beneficial relationships within and beyond the organization is critical to enhance satisfaction and effectiveness.

This is particularly true of leadership as their influence is so pervasively intertwined with the culture of the organization that it influences everything that occurs within that organization.

Types of Organizational Relationships

There are several types of organizational relationships:

  • Superior-subordinate
  • Peer-to-peer
  • Friendships

As well as the relationships with nonmembers, such as those between an organization and its various publics, including

  • Clients
  • Vendors
  • Contractors
  • And so forth.

Regardless of the level of connectedness, there are characteristics common to all relationships that must be considered to ensure that is rewarding to both parties.  Hon and Grunig developed guidelines for measuring relationships as a tool for public relations practitioners to assess the value of their programs.

These guidelines also serve as an excellent framework for examining our relationships, both organizational and interpersonal, to help reflect on areas which may need some attention to enhance the mutual rewards to all parties involved.

6 Components of Relationships

Hon and Grunig identify six components of relationships:

1) Control Mutuality

While balance in a relationship is key to its success, at varying times in the relationship one party will exercise greater control over the other. Control mutuality reflects the understanding between parties that this imbalance will occur, and recognizes (and accepts) that one party will exert greater control at given times.

For example, when a potential client asks you to present them with a solution to an existing problem, you control the situation through your selection of content, presenters and media which represents your organization and perspective in the best possible light.

Following the presentation, the control shifts to the client who, having several options from which to choose, can negotiate to their advantage.

 2) Trust

At some point in all relationships each party will open up to the other party, creating a level of vulnerability. Trust allows both parties to be confident in engaging in disclosures that help the relationship grow.

When pitching your presentation to a potential client whom you deem credible and desirable, you likely offer unique ideas and creative options. The client trusts that you will come through on the claims you are making and have the resources to do so.

Likewise, you trust that your ideas will remain proprietary and that the client will not use them to their benefit if they decide to go with another firm.

 3) Satisfaction

When both parties are happy because the positive expectations about the relationship are reinforced and outweigh the costs of the relationship, satisfaction occurs.

As the relationship with your new client progresses, satisfaction increases for the client as you continue to honor the conditions of your agreement by listening and responding to their needs and honor your commitments.

Your satisfaction increases when the client provides useful information from which to develop a plan; and also from the positive feedback received on the new project in your portfolio, as well as the potential for continued work or referrals.

4) Commitment

Relationships take effort, and commitment is indicated by a desire from both parties to continue with the relationship because they feel it is worth their energy to maintain and develop.

Even the best relationship experience challenges, but when a strong foundation based on trust and satisfaction is in place, it remains worthwhile to pursue. Communicating openly about concerns and disagreements help keep both the task and relational aspects in focus in order to achieve common goals.

 The remaining two components characterize the relationship more holistically.

5) Exchange Relationship

When one party in the relationship does something for the other party as reciprocation, either for a past or future service, it is considered an exchange relationship.

6) Communal Relationship

When both parties provide benefits to each other out of concern rather than payback, seeking no additional recompense, the relationship is communal.

For example, if your client moved up an important deadline to accommodate an unplanned visit from the CEO you might accelerate the schedule to meet the new deadline. As recognition for your effort you might request additional payment, or consideration for future projects (exchange relationship).

Alternately, you might make the necessary adjustments to meet the deadline simply because your client needs the assist (communal relationship).

Investments in Developing Relationships

While seeking compensation for services rendered is certainly reasonable, there may be occasions when building the relationship offers far greater benefits than would adherence to policy. As such, developing communal relationships should be an inherent organizational goal, particularly in key relationships, internal or external, that you would like to develop.

Beyond enhancing the relationship, individuals also experience positive outcomes such as greater self-esteem and satisfaction with life, further adding to benefits of engaging in such practices. Future posts will discuss each of these characteristics in more detail

Have you given thought recently whether your organization is (genuinely) people first or profit first? What practices do you employ that contribute to building communal relationships? Are these practices the norm within your culture, or “special circumstances?”

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Andrea Pampaloni

Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D is Professor of Organizational Communication at LaSalle
Her research focuses on Relationship-Building and Presentation of Image
Email | LinkedIn |  Web

Image Sources: healthnetpulse.com

6 Ways to Communicate Better With Employees

Of all the contributors to business success, the ability to effectively communicate with employees is essential. Organizations that understand the importance of good communication tend to have highly unified workplaces.

They also enjoy more motivated, productive, and loyal employees than those companies that take communication for granted.

Still for many businesses, implementing effective employee communication practices is often easier said than done. To that end, here are 6 proven ways to better communicate with employees that any organization can put into practice right away.

6 Ways to Communicate Better With Employees

1) Promote Genuine Face-to-Face Interactions

There’s no denying that there’s a number of new and novel ways for people to interact and communicate using technology. However, when it comes to communicating in the workplace, no technical tools are as effective as good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction with employees.

As efficient as texts and emails can be, their impersonal nature does little to strengthen working relationships the way that real-time, face-to-face communication can.

In addition, when managers take extra time and effort to talk face-to-face with employees, the employees tend to feel more valued and respected by the company, which in turn makes them more engaged and productive.

2) Promote Openness and Inclusion

Nothing motivates an employee more than feeling that what they do has a direct benefit to the company. Being open and inclusive with employees with respect to corporate objectives gives them a better understanding of the big picture and the role they play in moving the company forward.

The key is to communicate regularly, as this promotes engagement by keeping employees updated on how their efforts are contributing to the achievement of corporate goals.

3) Exchange Opinions and Ideas 

Along with feeling appreciated for their work, employees like to feel that their ideas and opinions matter. Companies where management solicits and listens to employee feedback—without employees fearing retaliation for negative comments—are making wise use of a valuable communication tool.

Comments made anonymously through surveys and suggestion boxes are also effective in making employees feel that they have a real voice in how things are done.

4) Break Down Walls 

By definition, there will always be walls between employees and management. More often than not, these walls can become real barriers to communication by making management appear more isolated from employees than may actually be the case.

Therefore, a vital role of management is to break down these walls so that employees can feel comfortable about approaching them with any issues or ideas they might have.

5) Action-Based Communication

Few things can stifle communication more in the workplace than management that fails to take action with respect to employee feedback. Employees who feel that their comments are falling on deaf ears will soon stop trying to communicate, because what’s the point?

This can lead to a drop in morale and productivity, which could potentially spread throughout the workplace like a virus.

Managers wishing to maintain a workplace of frequent and open communication need to act on what they hear—or soon they won’t be hearing anything.

6) Express Employee Appreciation

While many of the above communication techniques can help employees feel more appreciated, nothing takes the place of managers directly communicating employee appreciation for a job well done.

Open and ongoing communication in the workplace helps to ensure that, when the time for recognition comes, employees will be rewarded in personal, relevant and meaningful ways.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————
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
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web

Edited by Valentina Hoyos

Image Sources: 3.bp.blogspot.com

On Leadership, Effectiveness and Succession Planning

Succession Planning

When we explore the role of leadership, its application, expectation and outcomes, we find a number of interesting and interrelated functions to which all leaders should aspire if they wish to move from good to great.

These functions can be from the leaders themselves or from those who have direct or indirect influence with them.

What’s a Leaders Role?

If you ask leaders what they think that their role is, you are likely to receive a host of very different and even complex answers.

And although leadership is generally regarded by many as setting the strategic direction of group or organisation, there is another often-overlooked component that is one of the hallmarks of truly effective leadership.

This is something called “succession planning.”

Succession planning is an element of leadership that eludes a great number of organisations, both large and small. And is often only considered when someone is about to leave an organisation.

This happens whether or not it is a job that the person in question has been doing for some time.

So Somebody Leaves…

When somebody important leaves their position at most organizations, oftentimes the panic button is pressed and something of a scramble ensues to see who can fill the shoes of the incumbent. There is seldom any long-term thought or planning that precedes this hive of reactive activity.

There is no prudent and carefully thought-out change management plan that seeks to make the transition from “what was” to “what is” as seamless as possible.

This is true whether it be for the people within the organisation, or other important people outside of the organization.

Often, there is no one being mindful to inform partnership agencies or clients who would benefit from knowing that their preferred or hitherto single point-of-contact within that organisation is about to move on to new pastures.  And little assurance is ever given as well to the fact that they will soon be contacted by their highly trained and equally capable replacement.

The Sad Reality

Such things are rarely mentioned in some organisations. The preferred method of managing such departures seems to be that of the “suck-it-and-see” approach or the all too common “fingers-crossed and hope for the best” method of administration.

  • How often have you worked for an organisation that has sought to identify its future leaders through a well structured and comprehensive ‘talent management programme’?
  • Whether it is through training, mentoring, coaching or continuous professional development.
  • Add to that the number of leaders who are comfortable with the idea of training their potential future replacement.

For most people it is likely that the answers to these questions are: no, and one or two at best.

It is certainly not the wholesale approach to leadership that an overwhelming number of organisations and or leaders share.

The Leadership Process

As previously stated, leadership is a multifaceted and multi-layered process, one that can produce tangible results if leaders choose to embrace a number fundamental truths.

One of which is that in order to establish a robust and consistent method of organisational development there needs to be a comprehensive and visible method of talent management, one that demonstrates the importance of succession planning and actively promotes the legacy of a well prepared and forward thinking organisation.

Questions:

• What is succession planning?
• Identify some of the benefits that exist for an organisation that embraces succession planning?
• Why do effective leaders embrace succession planning?

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

———————
John Babb

John Babb is the author of “The Phoenix Leadership Programme”
He facilitates comprehensive and Bespoke Leadership Mentoring Programmes
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web

Image Sources: 2.bp.blogspot.com 

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