Small Companies Need Clear Values

Mowing-250x114

Springtime reminds me of fruit trees and the power of values-driven companies – or more accurately – the cost of NOT being one.

Small companies often think they don’t need to bother with things like mission and values – that those are things for large companies. Big mistake.

It’s why our tree service company lost our business.

They were very nice people, dependable and a good price. But they did not communicate guiding values to their employees, and one of them endangered my son’s health. That was a show-stopper.

Here’s what happened.

One lovely spring afternoon, one of the technicians stopped by unexpectedly to spray our fruit trees. The contact allowed them to come without calling first, which normally would not be a . . . → Read More: Small Companies Need Clear Values

To Be a Better Leader You Must Kill Your Darlings

KillYourDarlings

According to Faulkner, Ginsberg and many great writers, if you are particularly proud of a piece of writing, chances are it’s self-indulgent, stands out, and does not serve the greater good of your work.

The saying goes: “you must kill your darlings” – delete them. The overall intent of your work is more important than a particular piece that doesn’t fit, no matter how special you think it is.

So what does that have to do with business?

In today’s world, leaders are under great pressure to find new opportunities for growth. Ventures into new territories, product, channels of distribution, etc. are typically evaluated by short-term profitability and not strategic alignment.

These “darlings” become the focal point, rather than a coherent organizational vision, . . . → Read More: To Be a Better Leader You Must Kill Your Darlings

Think You Can Lead Without a Vision? Think Again

LeadershipIsGoingSomewhere

Think you can lead without a vision? Think again. Leadership is about going somewhere. How do you know where you’re going if you don’t have a vision?

Vision makes work meaningful. Vision helps us feel connected to something larger than ourselves. A shared vision helps us feel connected with others because we trust we share the same goals and values.

An organization without a clear vision is like a river without banks—it stagnates and goes nowhere.

A leader without a vision to serve is in danger of becoming self-serving.

Do You Have a Blah, Blah, Blah Vision or a DRIVING Vision?

Blah blah blah vision

Does your vision sound something like this? – Our vision is to provide aggressive strategic marketing with quality products and services at competitive prices to provide the best value for consumers.

Bad news. You have a blah, blah, blah vision. Do yourself and everyone on your team a favor – take it down.

You have two choices. You can decide you don’t need a vision and get on with your work.

Or… you can engage with your team in creating a DRIVING vision – one that lives in the hearts and minds of everyone and naturally drives behavior and decisions.

A DRIVING vision is a clearly-articulated, results-oriented picture of a future you intend to create. It is a dream with direction.

When it is shared, . . . → Read More: Do You Have a Blah, Blah, Blah Vision or a DRIVING Vision?

Why Your Company Values Might Not Matter

Company Values Blocked

Why are so few companies values-driven? Even when they start down that path, why do they wind up dead-ended?

A 2012 study shows “employees want their organizations to display honesty and integrity in business activities,” and “when leaders behave consistently with the core values, they earn employees’ trust and confidence.”

More so, it makes good business sense – research shows high-trust companies significantly outperform those that aren’t in the marketplace.

So why do so many companies fail in their effort? Here’s a true story and the 5 common errors they made that will derail any effort, including yours.

A True and Typical Story

This is a true story, but the name has been withheld to protect… well, frankly, me. It is an organization I am . . . → Read More: Why Your Company Values Might Not Matter

4 Steps Toward Collaborative Leadership

Ferguson Protest

If you are tired of “us vs. them” attitudes… if you are feeling frustrated or hopeless about those who don’t agree with your views… if you are concerned about the polarization in this world today… if you are waiting for leadership that unites instead of divides…

… the best place to start is by taking responsibility for yourself.

Polarization is Self-Reinforcing

If you only talk with people who agree with you and only read and listen to news sources that hold your own viewpoint, you will get distorted, filtered information that simply reinforces your viewpoint.

Unless we let go of foregone conclusions, only looking for proof of what we already believe, we are doomed to be stuck at deeply opposing, unresolvable poles.

Set your viewpoint . . . → Read More: 4 Steps Toward Collaborative Leadership

The Two Faces of Leadership

Two Faces of Leadership

There are two faces of leadership.

One face looks forward – because leadership is about going somewhere.

That face of leadership focuses on questions like:

1. Where are we going?

2. Why? What is the purpose?

3. How will we get there? What are our key strategies?

4. What will guide our journey? What values will guide behavior and decision-making?

The other face of leadership looks back at who’s following – at building organizational capacity and ensuring people have what they need to move forward easily.

That face of leadership focuses on questions like:

1. What skills do people need and how can we support development?

2. What resources do people need? (e.g. . . . → Read More: The Two Faces of Leadership

Let Go of Control But Keep Responsibility

Connection and Reflection

 

Last week I had the honor and pleasure of co-chairing the Berrett-Koehler Authors Cooperative annual retreat, attended by over 70 people – ranging in age from 25 to 83, and enriched with authors from Slovenia, Singapore and Australia.

Each year I look forward to this retreat where I gather with fellow authors and community members to exchange ideas, connect around issues, and deepen friendships.

Although we focus on many different topics and approaches, we are joined by a shared commitment to the mission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers – to create a world that works for all.

I had assumed I would be working instead of participating in this year’s retreat. Although I frequently design and facilitate these kinds of large-group, interactive meetings, there’s more . . . → Read More: Let Go of Control But Keep Responsibility

5 Questions That Will Help You Be a Better Leader

Iceberg

Do you think you’re an effective leader? Feedback is one good way to find out, especially through “360 feedback.”

But there’s another, equally powerful way. Take a serious look at your beliefs – your “assumed truths” about yourself, others and how the world works.

Your beliefs dictate your behavior. And unexamined beliefs are like icebergs. Unseen below the surface, they can undermine your good intentions without your awareness.

Instead of believing everything you think, think about what you really believe.

Taking some time to reflect on these questions will help uncover some assumptions that might be interfering with your ability to align your behavior with your intentions to be a better leader.

1. What are you are willing to take a stand for?

When . . . → Read More: 5 Questions That Will Help You Be a Better Leader