Last Of The Series – Leadership View #13: Balance Your Life

Last Of The Series – Leadership View #13: Balance Your Life

I began this series as a tribute to my friend, Marsh Carter, whose leadership has been an inspiration to me for at least 25 of the 45+ years covered in his View of Leadership. As I have written these blogs each week, using Marsh's topic lines, it has been interesting to me how relevant Marsh's large company experience is to the entrepreneurs  I work with each day. For the final post in this series, I decided it is fitting that Marsh author the post, drawing this time from his experience rather than mine.  Leadership View #13:  Balance your life – 3 legged stool analogy (balance between work, family and a strong outside interest for yourself) Many people we've all known, including ourselves at times, have a tendency to regard our careers or jobs as the most important aspects of our life---this is especially true the last few years where hand held devices link us 24/7 to the office, our bosses, our employees and coworkers.  It may...
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Leadership View #11: Hardest Task

Leadership View #11: Hardest Task

Leadership View #11: Hardest task – changing your leadership and management styles as your company grows or you go up the ladder.  I often hear entrepreneurs say, "I don't want to lose the culture as I grow this company" or "We are like a family, I want to keep this feeling as we grow". And yet as the company grows the culture inevitably changes and the owner no longer knows the name and the family of every employee. And, what the company needs as it moves from "go-go" to "prime" (to quote Vistage speaker Gerry Faust) is for the leader to change. In the go-go period, everyone is equal and it is all about getting the job done, getting the orders out, meeting the customer needs. Typically the owner is the chief sales officer and innovator. And, then as a company adds more people and moves to prime, management becomes necessary and terms like "building a leadership team" come into play. Suddenly the owner is...
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Leadership View #10: Take The High Risk…

Leadership View #10: Take The High Risk…

Leadership View #10: Take the higher risk / higher reward job. Much like when choosing investments, the higher risk choices lead to higher returns. And much like with investments, intentionality is the key. If you truly want the higher reward (or greater leadership role) and are willing to take the risk to modify both your behavior and your choices, go for it. And, along the way, gather feedback from your manager, your peers, and your subordinates so you know where your blind spots are and the modifications you will need to make. A great place to start is with Marshall Goldsmith's book, What Got You Here, Won't Get You There. Elisa K. Spain  ...
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Leadership View #9: An Absolute Skill Of An Effective Leader…

Leadership View #9: An Absolute Skill Of An Effective Leader…

Leadership View #9: An absolute skill of an effective leader is the ability to grow and adapt. So often we find that what has made us successful in the past, is not working for us today. From the entrepreneur who built a successful company what I hear is, "I got here because I know my product, and I know what my customers need. Along the way I added a team and now they need leadership and management and I don't have any experience doing that." From the key executive I hear, "I got to this level on my business knowledge; I have always been the expert. Now, I know I need to develop the experts below me, how do I do that?" For me the skill of an effective leader is first recognizing the need to grow and adapt and then finding resources to help us get there. Vistage members recognize this and look to their fellow members and chair to support them on this...
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Leadership View #8: Merging Two Organizations…

Leadership View #8: Merging Two Organizations…

Leadership View #8: Merging two organizations gives a leader an opportunity to form a new culture / leadership team / operating style.  A common mistake is to adopt one or the other, thereby creating winners and losers.   This leadership view is actually a continuation of Leadership View #7 where I talked about getting buy-in during a merger. Once we have that buy-in from the early majority, the next question to answer is:  what will be the culture, leadership and operating style of the combined group? Remembering that a "merger" can mean combining two companies, two groups, or simply adding a significant number of new team members. In my experience the culture bends. Last year, I added several new members to my Vistage CEO group and most of these new members came from other CEO groups where they had been members for some time. The groups they came from had their own culture, operating style and formal and informal leadership. Here is what I learned from...
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Leadership View #7:  When Merging Or Combining Two Organizations..

Leadership View #7: When Merging Or Combining Two Organizations..

Leadership View #7: When merging or combining two organizations, it has been estimated that 60% of the people will be relatively indifferent, 20% will be strongly supportive, and 20% will be strongly non-supportive.  Focus on the 20% that are strongly supportive and converting the 60% who are neutral. It is so easy to be drawn to want to "convert" those who are negative. Whether it's the one customer we can't seem to please; or the one person sleeping when we are giving a presentation; or the one person on our team of 25 who always has a negative comment. And the same applies when combining organizations. There is an old adage that mergers succeed or fail based on cultural fit. My experience when combining organizations or adding a significant number of people to an existing group, is the culture bends. The core of the culture remains and it bends to accommodate and subsequently grow from the additions or the merger. Those who are supportive...
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Leadership View #6: Some Problems Can’t Be “Solved”

Leadership View #6: Some Problems Can’t Be “Solved”

 Leadership View #6: Some problems can’t be “solved” (and, hopefully, made to go away) – they must be managed and may require the leader’s repetitive attention and time. As leaders and managers, we have been taught to find the root cause and fix the problem. This Leadership View seems to fly in the face of that. What do you mean "some problems can't be solved"? For me the key word here is repetition. For anything to be sustainable, it must be repeated. We humans get distracted, forget what we learned and have to be reminded. This is what Vistage is all about. Our members hear from a speaker 8 times a year. Do you really think each speaker brings something new to the table? Rather, they often are reinforcing a similar message. And, we hear the message differently depending on where we are in our lives and our businesses at the time. An entrepreneur leading a start-up will hear a leadership message differently 10 years...
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Leadership View #5: When Leading Change..

Leadership View #5: When Leading Change..

Leadership View #5: When leading change – get some early wins –this makes change irresistible to those that resist.  Getting these “early wins” may involve changing priorities or sequencing of events. How often do we begin an initiative by setting a goal with a date when everything will be complete? When starting a project we are excited to get "it" done. What if instead we focused on getting small wins and buy-in, how might we approach the project differently? One of my favorite visible stories of a leader who understood the importance of early wins is The Chicago Wacker Drive Project. Mayor Richard M. Daley began this enormous project, raised the funds for it and hired the team to lead it. It was a massive undertaking. The job required rebuilding both Upper and Lower Wacker, a primary downtown Chicago artery. What I remember most about this project is it began in early 2001 and was declared "finished" 20 months later in late 2002.  It was declared a...
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45 Year Leadership View #4: A Leader Must Balance…

45 Year Leadership View #4: A Leader Must Balance…

Marsh Carter’s Leadership View #4: A leader must balance between near-term and long-term leadership and management tasks.  Hmm.. last week's leadership view involved balance and here we are with the same subject line again. It does seem that balance is a key challenge for every leader. Most leaders have a sense of urgency, entrepreneurs especially. Often it is this sense of urgency that got us where we are. And, much like balancing the needs of the organization with the needs of our followers, we must also recognize which of our goals belong in the long term column and which belong as short-term. And it is certainly a balancing act, because for high urgency leaders, we sometimes move tasks into the now, when they belong in the future. If you are challenged with sorting between short term and long term initiatives, here is a suggested approach to get started. Begin by capturing all the ideas, tasks and goals. Next ask yourself the following three questions for each item: How much...
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45 Year Leadership View #3: A Leader Must Balance…

45 Year Leadership View #3: A Leader Must Balance…

Marsh Carter’s Leadership View #3: A leader must balance accomplishing the organization's mission with responsibility to followers. As Vistage speaker Rick Eigenbrod reminds us, the one thing all leaders have in common, followers. When we forget this is the most important characteristic of leadership, we look around and there is no one behind us. While the mission may be what is driving us as leaders, have we stopped and asked what is driving our followers? Remembering that all we humans act in our own self-interest, the organization's mission must resonate and must matter to each and every one of our followers if we are going to get there. It is a delicate balance between being out in front because we have the vision; and inspiring our followers to move forward because they see what is in it for them. In the best of circumstances, we as leaders inspire and our followers are the ones who accomplish the mission. My question for you is: What are you asking...
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