Leading Success in 2014: Your 11-Step Checklist

New Year's Resolutions

The New Year 2014 is here. Now is the time that many leaders take the opportunity to reflect on the past year and to plan for the upcoming one.

But with a new year come new stresses and potentially frantic times for many.

A Less Stressful New Year

A great way to set yourself up for a less-stressful, less-frantic 2014 is to create a screening process to help you figure out which new projects make the most sense to go ahead with.

As enthusiastic, visionary people it is very easy to just jump into new projects and hope that everything works out along the way.

Unfortunately, this approach often wastes a lot of time and money.

This year, take the time to walk yourself through this eleven point checklist to make sure that you’re balancing your passion with the practical management responsibilities required to lead the project to success.

11 Resolutions to Make before you Make any Resolutions

11 Step Checklist To Set Your 2014 Projects Up For Success

1. Assess how much time your new project is going to take.

For me this is the big one. I always under-estimate how long something is going to take and then I end up stressing myself out because I have too much to do.

This is the rule-of-thumb that I use: get out a piece of paper and write out your best guess of how much time this new initiative is going to require and then gross it up by 50%. If you can still manage the time, go to item #2 on the list.

2. Assess how much money your new project is going to take.

This item is about the literal counting of the cost. It may be that your project doesn’t take a lot of money to run, but it is important to count the costs that you might not see.

  • For example, is this going to take more of your time (that you won’t necessarily be getting paid for) equalling lost earning potential?
  • Are there going to be an increased amount of personal expenses: gas in your car, long-distance phone charges, technological tools that you’ll need?

It might not add up to a lot but having a budget mapped out will help you manage expectations and not be so surprised when there are dollars going out of your (or your organization’s) pocket.

3.    Establish a realistic time line.

Different than item #1, setting a realistic time line is about how long you take the project to take. It’s one thing to have an ambitious goal; it’s another to be naive about how much work will be involved in seeing your project go to completion.

A great idea here is to gather your team around you and roll out the idea and see how long they think it will take.

Give yourself lots of time – under promise and over deliver is a great motto for setting a project completion date.

4.    Identify how many people and which skills you need on the team.

As a leader, we have a responsibility to look at all the variables that can and will affect our ability to lead our projects to success – the capacity of your team is probably one of the biggest pieces we need to consider when charting our course.

  • It is one thing to set a goal, but have you carefully looked at the people you have on your team to see whether they have the capacity to be a part of seeing this goal fulfilled?
  • If not, are you willing to adjust your goal to accommodate your team or get a new team to support your goal?

This is my biggest weak spot for sure. I’m notoriously one of those do-it-myself people (even if it kills me) even though I know that this is a terrible strategy. As I’ve grown in leadership I’m become a lot more intentional about making time to map out an organizational strategy i.e.) what people and talent do I need on the team who have skills that I don’t have and then I set out to recruit them.

I love the expression; scout out those who “play at” what you “work at.”

5.    Consider the potential challenges you will need to overcome.

Not to be a hater, but this one is really important. No project runs perfectly and it is critical on the front end to consider the challenges you may be facing: both personal and professional.

For example: whenever I start a project I consider first my family obligations. Being a mom of three kids, I have to factor in how much time doing child related tasks will take before I make any professional commitments.

In my case, to not factor in all pre-existing responsibilities that comes with having kids could potentially derail my project’s success and would be incredibly short-sighted on my part.

6. Get clear about “why” you’re doing it. Check your agenda against the agenda of your stakeholders. 

This one is harder than it sounds and a little bit tricky to discern. Before beginning any new project, take some time to yourself and really ask yourself why you want to go ahead with this project and outline how saying “yes” will not only help you but also help your stakeholders.

Maybe there is a great media opportunity that you want to commit to because it will allow you the chance to speak and make a name for yourself in your community (which is fine.) However, the return on investment in terms of how much it will increase your ability to serve your clients will be negligible.

Consider the needs of the huge range of stakeholders you have to please before you agree to anything: your donors, your board, your community, your clients etc. If the project is primarily self-serving, maybe “pass” on the idea or go ahead with it on your own time.

7.    Write up a tentative, simplified strategic plan.

I’m not really a fan of the elaborate 5 year strategic plan. Too much changed too quickly to really be able to commit to something that structured.

My ideal scenario when starting any new venture is to boil down all the big ideas onto one page so that any one on the team can know exactly what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it…you get the idea.

8.    Do your market research. Is there a real need for this project or are you hoping it will work-out?

This item really takes the fun out of launching a new project. I’m the queen of beginning something (that I think is a great idea) before really knowing whether anyone really wants it. Do you have an idea for a program that you think would be great? Before you commit resources to it, do some research and find out whether or not your idea is sustainable. 

Poll your client, members in your community, your competitors…Maybe a similar program was offered by a similar organization just last year and it totally bombed. That would be great to know before you try to do something like that too.

Get a few members of your core-team to form a mini-committee and being to ask around and gather some “intel” about the needs and wants are of those you serve and adjust your plan accordingly. 

9. Establish an advisory team to help you get to your goal (with a lot less headaches.)

The easiest way to save time and money when launching a new project is to develop a team of advisors who have walked this road already and can help you navigate the way to the finish line. I know I’m biased but the most effective support resource I’ve ever invested in is executive coaching.

Like you, I hate wasting time. I want to get to my goal in the most efficient way possible and I know that me trying to re-invent the wheel is a terrible use of my time and donor dollars.

Before you begin anything new, check out your operational budget and allocate a portion to hiring an executive coach who can stay with you every step of the way providing ongoing support and skills coaching.

If coaching is not a realistic option, check out your local community resource center, local networking groups or an online LinkedIn group.

10.    Establish your ideal outcome for the project.

This is one that I know is difficult in the nonprofit sector. Determine which “measurables” you’re going to use to see if your project is actually accomplishing what it set out to accomplish. Set a fixed goal.

For example: instead of shooting at a loose target “we want to help feed more people in our community this year, say “our goal is to feed 100 more families this year.”

In the nonprofit world, more and more donors are looking for a quantifiable return on the money they have given to your organization. Right from the get-go, get a target that you can track. It might not be as romantic and may feel a lot more mechanical but it will be easier for people to latch-onto your vision and support your work as they understand the outcome you’re working towards.

11.   If your project is going to cost money, research which (if any) grants may available to help fund your specific project idea.

Wouldn’t it be great to know where the money could potentially be coming from before you even started your project? Before you even being working on your project, start building relationships with the granting bodies you know you’ll be going to when it comes time to apply for a grant.

Take the time to figure out which specific projects they’re looking to support and begin networking to see if there are any foundations you could connect with that you may not have even heard of yet. Really take the time to short-list potential sources of grant money and identify ways you can help them hit their goals by them helping you hit their goals.

 Got a question about any of these ideas? Leave a comment below! I would love to hear your thoughts.

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———————–
Natasha Golinsky

Natasha Golinsky is the Founder of Next Level Nonprofits
She helps nonprofit CEO’s take their leadership skills to the next level
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Leading Customer Service

Leading Customer Service

Good customer service doesn’t begin nor end with the customer.  

It begins with the leader and, well, I don’t believe it ever ends.

Defining Customer Service

You may have heard the saying that, “customer service is not a department,” right.  You may have a department called Customer Service, but by doing so, you make it feel as though that’s where it’s all taken care of.

  • But what about you, the leader?
  • Aren’t you supposed to be involved?
  • Don’t you have some say in the matter?

Absolutely, you do!  

If you want to dig even deeper, you should see that it’s everyone’s responsibility, not just yours, not just the Customer Service Department’s, but everyone who works within the organization. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep the organism healthy and functioning well.

Leadership is Influence

But leaders influence.  Some positively, some negatively.  Either one of those effects others’ customer service abilities.  You need to treat every employee you come in contact with, with the utmost sincerity and respect.

If you don’t do it, your employees won’t do it.  Unless you’re dedicated to taking the reigns to develop superior service in your employees, it’s not going to happen.

Taking a customer service class here and there or reading quotes on a poster once a month, is not going to furnish that sustained motivation that your employees need to provide that WOW service.

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L2L Reader Quote: “Invaluable advice and encouragement!”

Doing Your Whole Job

“I don’t have time to take on anything extra.”  How many times have you heard that or thought it?  Well first, customer service is not “something extra.”

Customers are where your revenue and profit comes from.  In any organization, there’s typically somewhere else they could go, or at least just stop coming. So when you’re that dependent on something like customers, how can you call service, “something extra?”

In Lee Cockerell’s (former VP of Operations, Walt Disney World Resort) new book, The Customer Rules, he points out that:

 “Great leaders speak loudly and often about what they want their organizations to focus on and what employees are expected to do.”

Hello . . .  How many of you, or other leaders you know in your organization, speak loudly about customer service?  But you always hear about sales, production, etc.

Keeping Ahead of the Pack

Don’t wait for customer service to get bad before you do anything about it.  By then it’s too late.  The damage has been done.  Now you’re into damage-control mode – which takes a lot more effort.

Monkey see, monkey do, here’s an easy activity to do (didn’t mean for that to rhyme, but I’ll take it).  Go to a few local retail stores or restaurants.  Spend just a few minutes in each one, just observing the employees.  You’ll be able to tell what the management is like within just a couple of minutes because the employees walk the leader’s talk.

No matter how good the stores’ customer service “program” is, it won’t be successful unless the leaders walk the talk.

You can’t just focus on the everyday business stuff – products, marketing, sales.  In his book, Lee goes on to say that, “Managers have to recognize that sustained profits depend on their ability to generate consistent, ongoing, excellent service”.  You have to keep good service in the forefront of everyone’s mind if you want it to be consistent.

A Whole New World

We don’t live in a world anymore where we can focus on one product and be the only place to get it.  You may come up with a one of kind product, but you, very soon, will have competition.  You must lead the customer service attitude.

“But seriously, I have very little time.”  In Beverly Kay & Julie Winkle Giulioni’s newest book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, they say it so perfectly – “let’s get real.  You’re having conversations already . . . What if you could redirect some of that time and some of those conversations to focus on careers?”

In this case, bettering customer service is bettering a career.  A few words here, and a few words there.  Just be sure you’re backing up those words with what you do.

Leadership By Example

Most people aren’t going to personally try to get their teams to improve customer service.  It has to come from you.  If you bring the horse to the watering hole, the horse will have a drink.  But if you offer a trough, the horse will always be able to get a drink.

You’re always looking for new and better ways to increase sales, improve products, or streamline production.  If you can’t increase customers or keep the ones you have . . . none of that will matter.

Do you walk the talk when it comes to customer service?  How much time do you spend talking to employees?  How much time could you spend talking to employees? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Andy Uskavitch
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

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Hey Leaders: Get Curious!

Being Curious

What does “curious” mean?  (Exactly.)

“Curious.”  It’s a strange word.

If you read it over and over it doesn’t look like how it sounds, and it barely resembles what it means.  It isn’t an adjective describing something like a cure unless you refer to a fascination (“I thought the anecdote was curious myself”), and it isn’t a conjugated verb tense when referring to radioactive units of measurement:

1 Curie, 2 Curie-um, 3 Curious…

So What is “Curious?”

The Free Dictionary defines “curious” as:

cu·ri·ous [kyoor-ee-uhs]

  1. Eager to learn more: curious investigators; a trapdoor that made me curious.
  2. Unduly inquisitive; prying.
  3. Arousing interest because of novelty or strangeness: a curious fact.
  4. Archaic: Accomplished with skill or ingenuity OR Extremely careful; scrupulous.

And of course many of us in the USA have been touched by NASA’s Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory character on Mars for which this blog is namesaked.

But wait!  There’s more…

Curiosity Saved the Cat

Yes, I know, I know… you probably have heard that “Curiosity Killed the Cat“… But my version is more true than the original saying.

Anyone who’s owned a cat or even observed one knows that a cat is at least 80% curious during its few waking hours. The fact that the average domestic cat lives 12-14 years easily tells me that curiosity hardly “kills” a cat.

If it did, their lifespans would probably be closer to 6 months.

And so with that logic, curiosity and the characteristics that often come with it (tenacity, patience, resourcefulness, imaginative, solution-driven, etc) can lead to survival, utmost achievement, and a perpetuation of “living” that might be unparalleled to any other characteristic.

So why don’t we hear about more leaders being described as CURIOUS?

What led to my achievement?

“Oh that’s easy: I AM CURIOUS…”

When I was asked what has led to my achievement, my response was that I am curious. With my answer, all eyebrows went up as their complementary blank stares bore into my soul.  I felt compelled to say, “Nah, I’m just kidding!” so that I could move on to a far more lofty answer, the one they seemed to have expected in contrast to my simple adjective.

But… “curious” isn’t  a simplistic answer AT ALL. And it is almost never easy. I think it’s just underestimated, as though any fool can do it and do it well.

But let me tell you, being curious is anything but simplistic or something that handled well by fools.

Getting More Curious

And so I got curious.  Again.

And this raises some questions:

  • Why aren’t we getting back to basics when it comes to linking leadership traits and success traits?
  • During these times when companies are struggling to work differently, how many truly struggle because leadership cannot embrace a new way of thinking?
  • How many truly struggle because they have lost the wonderment of asking curious questions?
  • How many truly struggle because they have lost the imagination that got them into position in the first place?

Braniac is As Brainiac Does

Good ‘ol Albert Einstein said it best when he said…

“I am not more gifted than the average human being. If you know anything about history, you would know that is so–what hard times I had in studying and the fact that I do not have a memory like some other people do… I am just more curious than the average person and I will not give up on a problem until I have found the proper solution.

This is one of my greatest satisfactions in life–solving problems–and the harder they are, the more satisfaction do I get out of them.

Maybe you could consider me a bit more patient in continuing with my problem than is the average human being.

Now, if you understand what I have just told you, you see that it is not a matter of being more gifted but a matter of being more curious and maybe more patient until you solve a problem.”  ~ Albert Einstein, as listed in goodreads.com for “curiousity”)

Question, question, question… and Get Curious

And so as I leave you with those words, ask yourself how curious you let yourself get throughout the day?  How much do you allow yourself and enable yourself to ask questions and find everyday things interesting?  Just curious… what’s stopping you?

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Christa Dhimo
Christa Dhimo is President & Founder, via Best Practices
She helps clients by aligning human capital performance with business results

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On Leadership, Being Right or Just Making it Right

Make it Right

It took me a couple of years of being a leader to get to the point of maturity where I could readily admit this humble truth about “being right”:

It just doesn’t matter who is right (my company or the customer).

On Being Right

To get to this point, I had to ask myself:

  • Was it really worth it to me (and my company) to be right?
  • Was it worth it to lose a customer over a seemingly insignificant amount of money, just so I could be right?

The answer was a resounding, “NO!”

Now, one of the coolest questions that I get to ask our unhappy customers is this:

What can we do to make this right in your mind?

Most People

Once I started asking this question I realized a few different things:

  1. Most people don’t want as much as you are willing to give to fix the problem.
  2. Most people really admire you, as a company, for owning the problem, and fixing it.
  3. Most people are appreciative, and end up sticking with you for the foreseeable future.

I say MOST people, because you will inevitably get the customer that makes up the 1%, and decides to abuse you. You will encounter the customer that goes against all things human, and has unreasonable expectations in regards to a potential solution.

At this point in the relationship you, as a leader, get to decide if you are going to tolerate this customer abuse, or if you are going to fire the customer. I have done both.

However, any time you have the chance to excel in the eyes of the customer, it creates a win-win-win (customer-company-employee), and you get to reap the benefits!

You also create a raving fan.

On Making It Right

What is a “Raving Fan” you might ask? Ken Blanchard is an author of several books that speak about different business, leadership, customer service, and team concepts. In his book, Raving Fans he talks about creating a customer that is just satisfied vs. a customer that will bring that satisfaction to the next level by talking about your company to anyone that will listen.

Almost every sales trainer out there will talk about this concept. Gerry Layo & Jeffrey Gitomer talk about how satisfied customers are the scariest customers, because:

  • They never complain
  • They never call in for problems with their billings
  • They never call to discuss their concerns
  • They just leave
  • They go to the competition, because they perceive that you don’t care

Even if you haven’t done anything to offend them, directly. You haven’t done enough, in their mind, to give them a reason to stick around.

Opportunity to Lead Your Customers

Layo and Gitomer also discuss how dissatisfied customers provide the biggest opportunity for your company to grow. If you care for them in an exceptional way, you have the chance to gain a customer for life.

You have the chance to impress a customer so much so that they tell everyone they know about your efforts. These are the most enjoyable customers, because they look forward to hearing from you, for any reason! I’ve had some of these customers actually thank me for sending them a bill!

There are other variations of this concept, but you get the point.

So, how are you creating this type of customer for your company?

Have you gotten over yourself (and your ego) enough to ask an open-ended question like the one above?

You open yourself up to a lot of scenarios by asking a question like this. Are you ready for it?

What are you doing with the list of these customers? Are you keeping them a secret, or are you broadcasting them to your entire company, so they can see the type of company that they work for? You, in essence, are becoming a “Raving Fan” yourself.

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Lucas McAlpin is Director of Residential HVAC at Thermal Services
He enjoys contributing to leadership conversations via blog, FB, and LinkedIn
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Leaders: You Can’t Really Manage Change

Change Ahead

During a recent project that involved whole scale transformation of a client’s system to manage, hire, compensate, reward and recognize, 65% of their employees are who drive their profitability.

The concept of managing change really is a fallacy.

Traditional Change 

There are many statistics indicating that traditional change management is only successful in approximately 30% – 15% of all projects. With all of the money, time, and effort put into change, it is hard to believe that it is so “badly managed”.

The fatal flaw in our traditional approach, sometimes referred to as the LaMarsh approach, is that change is viewed as an event.

Traditional Change Management’s design is to push an organization through to the other side of an issue, problem or event – It’s as if we are saying:

But the truth is there is no there.

Change is Inevitable

Change is constant.  Once the organization makes it through one change, there is another.

The end state is not the end of the change but the beginning.

 

Two Important Things to Remember:

  • Change viewed as “an event that must be completed and then things will go back to normal” is daunting and causes fatigue.
  • Change viewed as a constant evolution moving from one change to the next does not seem so daunting (and could be exciting).

But…

It will still be tough. There will be some natural resistance, but if change is viewed as a constant, resistance will eventually become much lower.

If organizations are anticipating and prepared for change, there will be no surprise change event.   No one in the organization will be shocked about changing because they know that it is constantly happening.

Moving to “Optimizing Evolution”

1. Acknowledge that change is inevitable

It is imperative that leaders communicate that change is a constant occurrence within the organization. Due to globalization, technology, and competition, there is no organization that can survive without looking at both success now,  and what will enable future success.

2. Establish “Organizational Evolution” teams

Organizations need to establish central teams that are dedicated to anticipating and enabling change throughout the organization. Similar to an internal audit function, a “central evolution team” will increase the likelihood that the organization will not be surprised when there is a new government regulation, technology, or competitor.

Internal audit plays a vital role in making sure that the organization is what is should be so when a real audit occurs there are no surprises and no detrimental findings. In the same vein, a “central evolution team” will work to be aware of issues, challenges, and opportunities.

Being prepared will take the sting out of big changes.

3. Moving away from trying to “manage change”

The fundamentals of the primary models that have been used over the past quarter-century to “manage change” are still valid. It’s important to continue to use them.

Utilize internal resources, which not only have the most at stake, but also understand the current system better than anyone else, as the “Core Evolution Teams”.  Allow them to leverage a “weave” methodology.

In its simplest form:

Of course it is necessary to have training and communication embedded within the process, but that is nothing new.

4. Educate the organization

Critical Step: Education around this new mindset of change – organizational transformation or evolution optimization. In order for everyone to accept that change is constant, it’s important there is understanding it will be looking for opportunities to transform and improve all the time.

Each person in the organization must view themselves as change agents, actively seeking out better ways to do their jobs.

Employees have to be given some latitude to alter the way that they do things to improve performance, customer experience, or increase profit, and of course there will need to be checks and balances.

Become an Agent of Change

If everyone in your organization views themselves as an agent of change, when its time to change and transform, there will be less resistance and more buy-in and support.

There is no silver bullet to successful change. It is unacceptable that 70 and 85 percent of all change initiatives fail.  It is vital that a new way to make organization’s change is resilient.

Are you ready to leverage and embrace opportunities to become more efficient, effective and profitable? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Anil Saxena
 is a President & Senior Consultant Cube 214 Consulting
He helps organizations create environments that generate repeatable superior results
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | (847) 212-0701

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Top Gun Leadership: You Are Not Alone

Top Gun Leadership

From the 1986 movie Top Gun:

“- Maverick, call the ball.”

“- Roger.  Maverick has the ball.”

Even though you may think that you re in charge and that you are the only thing that matters, you need to take a look around you and think again . . .

Because you’re wrong.

You Are Not Alone

You didn’t get to where you are all by yourself and you sure aren’t staying there alone.  No matter how high you are, you are not “the one”.

No matter what your position is, you’re not calling all the shots.  You have people influencing you.

Many higher managers think they’re totally in charge – maybe like a CEO or some other top manager.  That’s not the way it is at all.  No matter how much you think that you’re in charge, you are not alone.

You didn’t get there alone and you can’t stay there alone.

Top Gun Leadership

How many of you have seen Top Gun or any other movie featuring fighter pilots?

Pilots couldn’t even get off an aircraft carrier without a myriad of people. I know this because I was in the Navy, so the example goes.  Most people don’t even realize, but the aircraft doesn’t “belong” to the pilot – he’s just the one who flies it.

The aircraft “belongs” to the Plane Captain – an enlisted person – not even an officer.  He (or she) is responsible for its upkeep and safety.

Then you have:

  • air operations
  • air traffic controllers
  • wingmen
  • landing signal officers
  • people to clean it
  • people to fix/install electronics
  • people to arm it
  • people to fix hydraulics
  • people to move it from place to place,
  • people to refuel it . . .

See where I’m going here…?

We Are All on a Team

Even the best and most capable leader isn’t an expert on everything.

If you look at some of the most successful leaders you’ll see that they realized this and that they needed assistance to lead effectively.

Sometimes you may have more support rather than advising, but look at Abe Lincoln or Ronald Reagan, or any other successful President for that matter.  They all had/have true advisors.  The President may have the final say, but he wouldn’t be able to come to the right conclusion without all of his advisors.

Currently there are 14 Secretaries of the Cabinets and the Attorney General.  Five other Advisory positions are not Cabinet members but are an important part of the President’s top team.

There are just over 20 adviser positions under the President of the united States . . . 20!

The Leader’s Advisors

There are many types of advisors.  They can be both formal and informal, subordinates, hired, teams, even your own leaders.  And you can pick them.  Chip Grizzard, CEO of Grizzard Communication Groups has 6 things he looks for in an advisor:

  1. Keep your promises
  2. Focus on others’ success
  3. Stay in it for the long haul
  4. Treat people right
  5. Persevere
  6. Never compromise

Even though Walt Disney was in complete control of his namesake company, who was always there advising him?  His brother Roy.  And because of that (even though there were ups and downs, as with anyone), Disney movies and Disneyland became instant successes and Roy was able to take over leading the building of Walt Disney World following Walt’s death in 1966.

On Leadership and Listening

What I’m really getting at here – if you haven’t quite figured it out yet – is that you have to be able to LISTEN in order to be a successful leader.

Ask questions and listen to the people around you.

Position people around you that will funnel you information you need to help you make the correct decisions.

Do you have a “support group?” Do you listen to your advisors?  When are you going to start listening?

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——————–
Andy Uskavitch is Leadership Development at Florida Blood Services
He develops and facilitates Leadership, Motivation & Teambuilding Seminars
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Blog |  (727) 568-5433

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On Leadership and Executive Blind Spots

Executive Blind Spots

We all have patterns, habits, and beliefs that limit us. The challenge is that we generally can’t see how those thought-patterns and beliefs hold us back and what we can’t see tends to sabotage our efforts.

“Blind spots can severely impact an executive’s strategic vision, their course of action, and their rate of success.”

They impact decision-making and creativity (or lack thereof) in solving problems and they act to limit the strategic initiatives we are willing to consider. They even affect how we relate to others – hampering our leadership effectiveness, our political adeptness, and our executive presence.

It doesn’t matter what our experience in life or in business has been, what our background is, our age, level of education, or intelligence.

“No matter who are are, what your credentials may be, or what successes you may have had in the past, all of us are subject to blind spots.”

Executives, like everyone else, acquire blind spots from life. But as leaders, we suffer more blind spots caused by our need to operate within corporate or organizational environments.

Putting on Our Blinders

Blind spots show up in our beliefs, our thoughts, and our actions. These beliefs are self-limiting and are often at odds with the goals we say we want to achieve. Our beliefs are formed – good or bad, limiting or expansive – as we develop from children into adulthood.

We formulate these beliefs from the stories we invent as we seek to explain events. Unfortunately, we view these events through the lens of immaturity and without having all the facts. These flawed stories act to limit us and sometimes even come to define us.

“The key to moving past these limiting beliefs is to replace them with beliefs formed from fresh perspectives.”

When it comes to our thoughts, the same thinking that got us where we are can’t take us further. If we keep thinking in the same way, we’ll keep coming up with the same kinds of solutions. Our thinking becomes stagnant without outside stimulation.

“The only way to expand one’s thinking is to seek out new perspectives…”

This comes from reading and seeking outside input.

Too Much Focus

When we get attached to the process of how we imagine success will be attained, we become blind to other possibilities. And when that happens, we’re like a fly incessantly beating its wings against a pane of glass trying to reach its goal.

It doesn’t matter how hard we try if we’re pursuing success in the wrong way. When we’re not willing to consider other courses of action, we limit our success.

“How does one distinguish between dogged determination and blindness?”

It usually requires input from an outside, unbiased source.

Blind Spots Arise From Two Sources

The first source is corporate culture:

Corporate culture in a general sense as well as the specific “culture” of an organization. We hold beliefs about how organizations should function, how they should be structured, and which behaviors are valued.

“Every organization has its own special culture – either by design or by default.”

And while a corporate culture can be an asset, it often acts to create blind spots with executives.

The second source is the need of leaders to achieve productivity through others:

This executive blind spot often arises in the corporate world. As executives, we run the risk of our thoughts and beliefs being influenced by the thoughts and beliefs of the people under our guidance.

Removing Our Blinders

“Breaking free of limiting thoughts and beliefs is essential for achieving the results we want.”

However, there are some inherent challenges in releasing blind spots. Many blind spots are so deeply ingrained within our make-up, we’re no longer aware that they control us. Without outside perspective, these beliefs appear to be truths.

It’s important to keep in mind that generally these limiting beliefs are YOUR truths and not THE truth.

It is critical that we identify and release the self-limiting blind spots which hold us back if real progress is to be made. To that end, it requires outside perspective and input from someone who can point out what we can’t see for ourselves.

What are your blind spots? Are you receiving outside perspective or input? Or are you so attached to your blinders that you stay stuck in your leadership ditch? What can you do in the coming year to help you expand your vision and enable you to be more effective in leading others? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Michael J. Beck is President of Michael Beck International, Inc
He helps leaders improve their personal effectiveness and productivity
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Web | Blog | Skype: xleaders | 866-385-8751

Image Sources: cdn2.content.compendiumblog.com

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