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How to Reboot Your Business and Make Changes Work in the New Year.

business

How to Reboot Your Business and Make Changes Work in the New Year.

When business leaders set annual goals, reaching them requires a collective commitment by their team. But when significant changes are thrust into the equation as a necessary component for the business’ survival and growth, the challenge can be more difficult as some team members may resist or struggle with new processes, roles, or expectations.

Many change initiatives fail because of a lack of proper tools, techniques and a sound roadmap for forward progress, not simply because commitment is low, says Rick Simmons, who with his wife, Amy Simmons, is the ForbesBooks co-author of Unleashed: Harnessing the Power of Liminal Space.

“Leaders – especially now in a turbulent time, when change is basically mandatory – have a great opportunity to improve their business by creating roadmaps for success,” Rick Simmons says. “Those include necessary changes and shifts that are designed to benefit all involved. Real leaders offer rationale and compelling invitations to change. Others simply try to convince people to change.”

The Simmonses are co-founders of the telos institute (www.thetelosinstitute.com), which helps business leaders embrace change as a strategic advantage. The word liminal, part of the Simmonses’ book title, comes from the Latin word limen, or threshold. “It is a point of transition,” Rick Simmons says, “a space where what has happened in the past no longer applies and what will come hasn’t yet arrived. We define liminal space as a period of discontinuity that creates an openness to change.”

The COVID-19 era, Amy Simmons says, has epitomized the oft-used word “disruption” in the business world, and how leaders respond in spearheading change is critical.

“The key to reaching new heights is how we manage periods of disruption, and how leaders manage their people throughout that process,” she says. “Change is essential but never easy. Adopting a successful roadmap implies that one simply needs to see a plan and a rationale that illustrates why change is needed and what it’s in service of. This allows people to do the very things they would choose to do themselves given the proper information and context.”

Rick and Amy Simmons offer these tips for leaders to help their workforce navigate and embrace change in the new year:

Surround yourself with a strong leadership team. Steady leaders who are anchored in different parts of the organization can form a strong foundation for deciding on the correct changes, allowing necessary changes to be thoroughly discussed, studied, and coordinated. “Leaders who have been with the company a long time have perspective on where the company has been and how it can stay true to who it is,” Amy Simmons says. “At the same time, others who haven’t been with the company that long offer a fresh perspective. Thinking about change from different angles among the leaders is vital in sifting out the things that cause stagnation or backward movement and building consensus on changes that will create growth.”

Engage in consistent communication, encourage open dialogue. Rick Simmons says getting across to all the departments the importance and benefits of changes depends on clear communication that has a respectful and positive tone – and welcomes feedback. “A commitment to change as a company means maintaining a commitment to each other,” he says. “Leaders communicating in a purposeful but fair way will effectively cultivate an openness to change among workers during a transitional period – while also remaining open themselves to consider ideas brought by the workforce.”

Stay rooted: Encourage “letting go” without losing core values. Successful growth and expansion requires rootedness, Amy Simmons says. That means sticking to the company core values, to which the leadership and employees at all levels can continue to hold fast, even when it seems everything else is up in the air. In order to go forward, you have to get people to let go of old, ineffective ways,” she says. “You have to be willing to change your entire business and strategy, but what should never change are your core values. It can be a struggle to help people parse out that it’s OK to change the way they think through and do things, but you can reassure them that making those adjustments doesn’t change who you are as a company. Sticking to your core values while connecting the changes to them creates a safe space as the transition takes place.”

“It’s never been more clear: No matter how good you were in recent years or even last year, you can’t rest on your laurels,” Rick Simmons says. “Change means opportunity, and the new year is a great chance for you as a leader, your business and the people that make it work, to be better than ever.”

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Rick Simmons and Amy Simmons, the ForbesBooks authors of Unleashed: Harnessing the Power of Liminal Space, are co-founders of the telos institute (www.thetelosinstitute.com), which helps leaders in business and industry hone their leadership skills, optimize their business strategy and embrace change as a strategic advantage. Rick Simmons is the chief executive officer at telos. Prior to founding telos, he spent 10 years in various senior strategy and sales leadership positions within the financial services industry. Amy Simmons is the chief experience officer at telos. Prior to the company’s founding, she spent 14 years in various coaching, training, career management, and recruiting roles.

pdf

Benefits of Using PDF in Your Organization

With all document information easily saved in a digital picture, PDF allows for basic viewing, browsing, printing, forwarding, as well as editing and enhancing. It is a common document format that everyone will use ultimately. Thanks to their flexibility and straightforwardness, PDF files are used worldwide in different areas as well as for distinct purposes. Company use is just one area that will benefits from creating and collaborating using the PDF format. Let’s take a look at how.

Leading advantages of utilizing PDF documents

Advantages of making use of PDF apply for any sort of company are numerous but the most crucial ones are gotten here. Reap the benefits of PDF file frameworks in your business today.

Courtroom integrity

Not all digital documents are produced equally—especially if they must be presented in any type of court or legal procedure. Regulations call for the use of an unalterable document that does not create an electronic footprint. PDF documents can be developed into a “read-only” record that satisfies that demand and others for legal objectives.

E-signed documents

One of the biggest hassles of pen and paper signatures is the tedium of moving paperwork – and paperwork getting lost. E-signatures are much simpler; you can sign a document electronically no matter where in the world you are. All you need is access to a computer or laptop or your mobile device. For many businesses, this capability is of huge value because there’s no need to wait for paperwork to turn up when trying to close a deal.

File safety and security

Protection is a big variable to think about when working and even more so if handling sensitive data, such as charge card information. With encryption, authors can determine who can open their documents and what actions they are allowed to perform – for example, they can read but not edit. Authors can also share documents but safely redact any confidential information within them. This enables the secure sharing of documents between people or facilities.

Compatibility

Creating PDF data is different than just reviewing one. Reading PDF documents requires no unique hardware, operating system, or application. It works with any kind of platform which offers individuals additional freedom when transferring files. Compatibility throughout several systems is a big plus for any company.

Substantial compression

Electronic data compresses into as little as 25% of its original size when converted into a PDF document. This substantial compression is extremely important for conserving disk room, meeting add-on limitations, emailing, and more. Compression produces faster accessibility to the document, saving time and its smaller size saves storage space as well.

Long-lasting format

As discussed previously, the PDF format is globally recognized. It’s used by numerous governments at all levels, including federal. You can feel confident that your business will be using a preferred document format for the foreseeable future.

Non-text elements compatibility

PDF data allows you to include images, footnotes, links, and other media content in your files. Hyperlinked materials can be opened directly from the PDF document. These advantages are unattainable with paper documents of any kind.

Search engine friendly

PDF documents are SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly. Internet search engine such as Google easily find PDF documents because they’re in a reputable digital file format and can conveniently be integrated into any type of website.

If you’re not regularly using PDF files or haven’t experienced the full range of features and benefits the PDF format can bring to your organization, there’s never been a better time to try it.

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Frank is the Chief Marketing Officer at Foxit Software Inc. Foxit is a leading provider of innovative PDF products and services, helping knowledge workers to increase their productivity and do more with documents.

strategy

How and Why Your Business Strategy Eats Your Business Culture for Breakfast

Global leaders across the globe have found that corporate strategy is critical to business success. Corporate strategy could be the most important component of success in the ever-changing business environment of today.

Executives evaluate the success of corporate strategy. Corporate strategy reflects the degree to which a company can expand and determine the right pathway to success. The key function of a corporate strategy is to help executives utilize it for goal achievement. In this context, corporate strategy is becoming the forefront of success in corporations worldwide. Success, therefore, is dependent upon how executives formulated their organization’s strategy. Corporate strategy has been a focal point of the executive span of control but has not been associated with leadership enough to make it an integral part of organizational success.

One outcome of corporate strategy is to connect knowledge with other companies that want to share successes and failures. Leaders can inspire organizational members to network with more successful competitors by sharing successes to build alliances and not only enhance competition but communicate best practices as a way of keeping the highest standard of operation in the industry. In doing this, leaders implement a corporate strategy to develop relationships with external environments to identify new opportunities that occur in an ever-changing hypercompetitive marketplace. Leaders, in fact, implement a corporate strategy to expand the growth opportunities available to organizations that may be challenging, but, important to close the gap between success and failure. This leads to converting acquired knowledge into organizational processes and activities to improve or discontinue processes that contribute to success.

Furthermore, executives focus on individuals as the major source of knowledge and show how follower’s ties together so that they can affect the sharing, storage, transfer, and apply knowledge within organizations. Executives, therefore, see these connections, and the related shared knowledge and memory, as central to the effectiveness of corporate culture. Executives know that corporate strategy through sharing individual knowledge around the organizations can positively contribute to building a strong corporate culture. Therefore, executives should build an atmosphere of trust and openness and use corporate strategy to convert individual knowledge into valuable resources for their organization to close the performance gap and help organizations prosper.

The key is for executives to inculcate corporate culture within organizations so that information can be found and used instantaneously. Corporate culture enables organizations to promote the depth and range of knowledge access and sharing within companies.

Corporate culture is enhanced by providing further opportunities and information sharing. Executives can enhance knowledge sharing by providing access to knowledge, and stimulate new ideas and knowledge generation, transfer an individual’s knowledge to other members and departments, and improve knowledge capturing, storing, and accumulating, aiming at achieving organizational goals.

Executives that employ corporate strategy can propel knowledge sharing in the company to generate more innovative ideas and solutions for new and demanding issues that come up constantly in our hypercompetitive economic environment. In doing this, executives can employ corporate strategy through implementing coaching and mentoring practices by sharing experiences gained by imitating, observing and practicing. Executives that use corporate strategy have found that it builds a strong corporate culture through facilitating knowledge sharing throughout all levels of the organization.

Corporate strategy focuses on defining and recognizing core knowledge areas, coordinating expert opinions, sharing organizational knowledge, and scanning for new knowledge to keep the quality of their products or services continuously improving. Corporate strategy, therefore, is an essential requirement of corporate culture by which knowledge is shared among people.

However, executives may lack the required corporate strategy to interact with other organizations or distrust sharing their knowledge. Executives are, therefore, clearly the right focal point for developing networking with environmental components by adopting corporate strategy to develop relationships and interactions. The key here is to inspire their organizations as a whole to develop networking with more effective enterprises through employing corporate strategy directed at connecting knowledge with other companies. Executives are finding that corporate strategy creates a shared understanding of problems which can develop an effective corporate culture that enhances the knowledge sharing process.

Through the corporate strategy, executives could build a climate inspiring followers to share their knowledge, and facilitate the knowledge sharing process. Thus, executives can apply corporate strategy to enhance knowledge sharing among human capital and stipulate knowledge to be shared around the organization and with other companies.

Global leaders can now see how they not only can directly support corporate strategy, but it can also cultivate an effective strategic decision-making process, which will enable corporate culture within organizations. Executives can also see that cultivating an effective strategic plan coupled with cultural issues requires developing leadership within organizations—not only at the higher echelons of the organization but at every level. Thus, in light of the increased pressures of the global workplace that inspires leaders to exert effective change at the organizational level, this article points out the vital importance of business leadership in reshaping an organization’s strategy to have access to higher performing culture within organizations. This article also suggests that corporate strategy and corporate culture constitute the foundation of a supportive workplace to improve business success and reduce operational risk.

Standing on the shoulders of scholars before us, I indicate that corporate strategy and corporate culture are major resources for business success and support the positive impact of these two vital factors on business success.

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Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.

company

How To Build A High-Performance Company

There are some executives that like to look at academic journals but unfortunately, the crossover literature has not reached them enough. I attempt to blend scholarly concepts with real-world applications. For the executive’s corner, I place a great deal of emphasis on the literature of leadership and information technology as two significant indicators for financial performance. This article adds to a relatively small body of literature but pays homage to the scholarly contributions. I highlight the direct impact of leadership on financial performance, and also simultaneously portray the indirect contribution of leadership in improving organizational outcomes by implementing information technology as another important component of organizational performance. This article actually investigates the crossover potential of scholarly research and how it can be applied in the organizational boardroom.

Executives will also see that cultivating effective technological initiatives requires developing leadership within companies—not only at the higher echelons of the company but at every level. In light of the increased pressures of the global workplace that inspires executives to exert effective change at the organizational level, this article points out the vital importance of leadership in reshaping and, in some cases, manipulating a company’s internal resources to have access to higher performing technology within firms.

The focus of this article is based upon the critical role of leadership which allows a rich basis for understanding the mechanisms by which knowledge management and financial performance are influenced. Scholars repeatedly uncovered leadership impacts on knowledge management and financial performance. This article articulates a different approach. I simply extended the current literature by showing how executives can contribute to knowledge management and financial performance by fostering effective technological platforms. These two factors coupled with leadership are presented as a new approach for executive implementation.

I also suggest that executives embrace leadership. Leadership influences some of the spans of control of executive responsibility. My primary focus is on one factor (i.e. information technology) but there are many more important components of the managerial function that can be enhanced when leadership is embraced. The key here is that there are positive effects of information technology on knowledge management and financial performance.

Executives will also see that I expand upon the subject matter of a company’s internal resources. Through articulating the impacts of leadership on information technology, I add to the current and extant literature. Insufficient consideration of the impact of leadership on the companies’ internal resources has been exposed and I attempt to address this concern for the first time. For executives, this article can portray a more detailed picture of the effects of leadership on information technology, knowledge management, and financial performance that have been mentioned but not placed in a model in the past.

Leadership and Information Technology

The only thing we know is technological change is on the rise. With the inception of new technology, while services become obsolete so quickly today, executives are staid with managing the future that is somewhat evasive.

Executives can develop relationships and interactions within companies, set desired expectations, and inspire employees to identify further opportunities in their business environment. When executives view information technology as a vital important organizational resource that facilitates organizational communications and improves the search for knowledge, they begin to see opportunities for successful business ventures.

Executives also spend a great deal of time conceptualizing strategic endeavors. Scholars affirm that the strategic role of leadership is enhanced when the implementation of information technology successfully occurs at the right time and place. Thus, executives raise the levels of awareness on the importance of technology and empower employees to improve the effectiveness of information technology implementation within corporations. Therefore, executives can positively affect information technology implementation within companies. Executives must understand that leadership can highly support information technology to improve knowledge management and financial performance and, therefore, remain competitive.

Leadership and Financial Performance

Executives develop organizational communications aimed at providing valuable resources for all employees. Thus, executives can enhance knowledge sharing among employees and stipulate knowledge to be shared around the company. Sharing the best practices and experiences could positively impact some aspects of organizational performance such as innovation, providing learning, and growth opportunities for employees. Empowered employees can also enable a firm to actively respond to environmental changes and collective-interests. The key idea is to identify employee’s needs and show concern for both organizational needs and employee’s interests concurrently.

When executives show concern for the employee’s individual needs, individuals begin to contribute more commitment and they become more inspired them to put extra effort into their work. This extra effort improves the quality of services, customer satisfaction, and impacts the return on assets, sales, shareholder value, and improves operational risk management.

Executives can also inspire employees by setting highly desired expectations. The higher level of follower expectation can enhance productivity and perhaps decrease organizational costs. Scholars agree that executives positively affect financial performance through improving the price of stock, decreasing costs, increasing sales, improving innovation, increasing the rate of responses to environmental changes, improving the quality of services, along with a stronger customer focus and developing learning opportunities for employees. Thus, leadership is positively associated with companies’ financial performance.

Information Technology and Financial Performance

Information technology significantly contributes to corporations’ financial performance. Scholars acknowledge that information technology is an important enabler to effectively implement organizational processes. Communication technologies can, in fact, reduce paper-based transactions for companies that can potentially decrease costs and subsequently improve profitability for companies. Furthermore, it can be seen that communication technologies contribute to companies to effectively identify opportunities in the business environment that leads to identifying the best opportunities for investment in the industry that potentially leads to improve financial performance for companies in terms of return on investment (ROI).

Decision-aid technologies as another kind of information technology can also help companies to effectively create more innovative solutions for their organizational problems. Executives can, therefore, build a high-performance company through implementing information technology.

Information Technology and Knowledge Management

Information Technology is the new competitive advantage, and the companies that embrace it will survive while those that do not will find their companies facing possible acquisition. Information technology is a resource for knowledge management. With knowledge management, executives can sustain current operations while preparing future endeavors. Information technology, as a competitive resource, encourages employees to embark on technological facilities such as shared electronic workspaces to provide new ideas and possible solutions for solving problems. Problems that may leave a company to debunk and less competitive.

Scholars found that the lack of innovative workplaces adversely impacts on the company’s capability to manage knowledge, and they suggest that companies use information technology to successfully facilitate knowledge management. Information technology plays a critical role in managing knowledge by executives and is also aligned with the knowledge-based view of the firm which not only builds upon the dissemination of information but also how it is restored and retrieved.

The following figure provides a snapshot of how executives steering information technology enhances goal achievement.

 

Some Lessons for Executives

This article theorizes that leadership has significant effects on information technology. It follows that cultivating effective impacts on information technology is assisted by developing leadership within companies. The practical contribution of this article lies in explaining how executives influence information technology.

This article suggests that information technology constitutes the foundation of a supportive framework to improve knowledge management and financial performance. In fact, it can be argued that if information technology is not completely supportive of knowledge management, companies cannot expect to benefit fully from knowledge management projects. Both in theory and in practice, information technology is depicted as an important enabler for knowledge management and financial performance.

Scholars noted that a strong alignment exists between the success of knowledge management projects and information technology implementation and found that knowledge management projects are more likely to succeed when companies develop and use broader technological infrastructures. This article goes further and provides elaborative insights for executives by modeling how information technology mediates the relationship between leadership, knowledge management, and financial performance.

This article reveals that executives actively deploy this organizational resource (i.e. information technology) to improve knowledge management, and it is quite understandable that leaders are better suited to enable knowledge management projects within companies through channeling knowledge management efforts into employing supportive information technology. Therefore, this article suggests that it is critical that executives understand that leadership supports information technology implementation to effectively manage knowledge management projects.

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Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.

Reinforcing Your Technology Infrastructure to Handle the Unexpected in the New Normal

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted virtually every area of our personal and professional lives. The virus has changed everything from the way we shop for groceries to the methods used to perform our jobs. In some sectors like the restaurant and retail industries, the immediate effects on businesses and the workforce have been devastating. If these establishments can continue to operate, many new restrictions and practices need to be adopted to keep both employees and customers safe.

Many businesses that do not rely on face-to-face contact with their customers were able to rapidly shift and continue operations by instituting remote work. These companies have not been negatively impacted to the same degree. This is not to say that there haven’t been substantial challenges to implementing and supporting a remote workforce. In many cases, flourishing corporate cultures were upended overnight by travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines put in place by local governments.

As the initial panic over COVID-19 settles down, businesses are faced with navigating a new normal if they hope to survive. From the look of the current global landscape, it appears like this new normal is here to stay and that we are not likely ever fully return to a pre-pandemic mindset. There is a strong possibility that the new normal will just morph into the regular normal leap-frogging the way things were in the past into a future full of virtual collaboration, global cloud platform enabling business processes and expecting the unexpected.

Winning Technology Enablement Strategies for the New Normal Virtual Organization

We were well on our way to virtual organizations before the pandemic; however, COVID-19 certainly accelerated us further down this path. There are tremendous technology options available to assist companies that have transitioned to a nearly 100% virtual organization. Major business application cloud platforms such as MS Dynamics, Salesforce and ServiceNow enable global collaboration and business process enablement.

Analytics platforms such as Azure and AWS provide robust solutions that enable improved visibility and better decision-making. Collaboration suites like MS O365 and Google’s G-suite allow global teams to operate effectively. However, these platforms all have very different capabilities and require a robust implementation and support plan. Selecting the right platform that is the best fit for your needs and proceeding with a robust implementation and support plan can make a huge difference in the business outcomes. At the very least, using the wrong solution will require retooling at some point to address a lack of features or provide enhanced functionality. This type of change can adversely affect productivity, as everyone needs to become familiar with new tools and processes.

Three characteristics are critically important when implementing technology solutions in the business world. Ensuring that these criteria are met will go a long way toward allowing a business to compete during a pandemic or economic downturn and handle the uncertain times that lie ahead. These characteristics are essential in providing the tools for a remote workforce and will continue to demonstrate their value as the future unfolds.

1.  Flexibility and Scalability

Solutions that are adopted to meet the challenges brought about by the pandemic should be flexible enough to handle the current circumstances, as well as any permanent changes in the way business will be conducted. They also need to be highly scalable, in order to scale up and down efficiently to handle the possibility that offices may reopen and then be forced to close again in favor of remote work. Employees should be able to use the same set of tools to get their jobs done whether working from their cubicle or a home office. As business needs evolve, so too should the toolset used to meet new requirements.

2.  Reliability

Technology solutions are always important. This importance is heightened by the difficulties of supporting a remote workforce. Unreliable tools will hinder productivity and hurt morale as businesses and employees struggle with negotiating the challenges of the new normal. The beleaguered IT departments of small businesses will be hard-pressed to address the problems of applications that fail to provide the promised functionality to a workforce spread out over multiple locations.

3. Security

Security needs to be the top priority in any technology solutions that are introduced to enable a remote workforce. There are the normal concerns associated with having data resources available remotely. These include the increased potential for misuse of sensitive data and providing new and possibly unsecured access to enterprise IT systems.

An additional security risk is that hackers are actively using COVID-19 as a lure for phishing campaigns designed to gain entry into corporate systems by preying on the reduced defenses of remote workers. A breached network can lead to ransomware or other forms of malware that can cripple a business.

Evaluating Technological Solutions and Choosing the Right IT Partner for Your Business

While some companies were well-prepared for the shift to the new virtual organization, many had to scramble and implement ad-hoc solutions to keep their businesses running. In many cases, this resulted in less than optimal security and choosing software tools that may be inadequate for long-term enterprise usage. Stop-gap measures and decisions that needed to be made quickly may now need to be reevaluated and modified. Since it seems as if COVID-19 and its impact on society will be with us for the foreseeable future, now is the time to conduct this evaluation.

Public cloud providers offer numerous solutions that furnish the security, flexibility, and reliability needed to successfully negotiate the challenges of operating a business in these challenging times. Their expertise can help augment a company’s IT resources or provide them to organizations that lack technical skills. Making wise use of cloud computing services enables an enterprise to be ready for whatever the future holds. As the corporate world attempts to cope with COVID-19, taking advantage of cloud computing offers a promising strategy.

While these enabling are robust solutions, it’s not just about the product you select, but also the implementation methodology you follow. For example, Salesforce and MS CRM are both great CRMs, one which may be a better fit for certain types of businesses than the other.  However, the most important key to success is choosing an implementation partner that has a robust methodology that will enable the changes you seek. Most failure happens due to a poor implementation process, not because an organization chose the wrong product.

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Tim Britt is the CEO and co-founder of Synoptek, a global consulting and IT services firm focused on delivering results for its customers. Britt has served as a strategic executive in the capacity of CEO and CIO for the past 25 years. He has provided strategic consulting both in his current role at Synoptek and with dozens of prior strategy and operational consulting firms serving Disney, Levi Strauss, Home Depot, Jusco, and others. 

Britt holds an industrial engineering degree from Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University. He lives in Irvine, California with his wife and four children, and enjoys skiing, hiking, biking, running, fishing, and other outdoor activities as well as dedicating himself to philanthropic interests in the areas of conservation and education.

optimistic

In this COVID-19 World, Be realistic, But Optimistic.

As business leaders, our goal is always to lead our teams to success. During these challenging COVID-19 times, it’s critical to strike the right adaptive mindset and not over- or under-react. We need to find a way not to be pessimistic, but also balance realism with optimism. As William Arthur Warn said: The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. The balance of optimism with realism during these challenging times is the way business leaders can win.

James Stockdale, the United States Navy Vice Admiral and aviator was awarded the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War, during which he was a prisoner of war for over seven years and survived when so many others did not. Stockdale explained his significant insight as the following: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

This is indeed a paradox. Although we’re not prisoners of war, we relate to Admiral Stockdale in not knowing how long we’ll be wrestling with the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 Pandemic.  As business leaders, if we ignore the challenges on our teams, the leader will be naïve and out of touch. If the leader mires in the challenges, they risk creating a culture of pessimism that will demoralize and demotivate the team and undermine its effectiveness.

To promote Stockdale’s prevailing mindset as leaders of a team there are two helpful strategies.

The disruptive nature of working remotely 100% of the time while balancing personal and family challenges during COVID-19 requires a team to learn how to ruthlessly prioritize with more structure and pace without slowing the team down.

Rally team members around short-term goals to ensure “quick wins” and build morale.

Realistic business leaders will excel by keeping emotion out of the equation in business decision making. Adding optimism to realism allows leaders to see the brighter side of things demonstrating to team members that things will get better day by day. As Edwin Bliss stated: “Success doesn’t mean the absence of failures; it means the attainment of ultimate objectives. It means winning the war, not every battle”.  

Winning leaders and teams make things happen, plan, and prepare instead of hunkering down and waiting. Winning leaders see potential were the less successful dwell on the past. Winning business leaders might not know “how” they will excel and achieve their goals, but they always believe that they will figure it out. They know that effort is the great equalizer. If they do not already know what to do, they will learn it and perfect it. Successful leaders during this COVID-19 pandemic understand that worry, fear, action, and gratitude are all choices you get to make and that apathy is the enemy of achieving something great. Use the difficult times to realize as a leader of a business, this is the second chance your team has always been asking for. It’s critical to make decisions quickly during this difficult time. However, a business decision that is easy or guaranteed is bound not to be highly successful in the long run.

Overly optimistic business leaders believe in their soul that nothing — absolutely nothing — is impossible. However, unrealistic optimism and accepting that you are more likely to experience pleasant events, and less likely than others to experience negative ones can lead to disengagement of a team and hamper trust. A team that is blinded by optimism will not be able to change course when trouble is encountered. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure realism keeps optimism in check.

Pessimist business leaders tend to believe that bad situations are the fault of others or the internal team, and that good business outcomes are not caused by anything they or others have done, and most likely cannot be repeated.

So, when it comes to optimism or pessimism, “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” is an ideal motto. To achieve that, you must be honest with yourself about your approach and outlook.

Whether you believe the world is conspiring against us, or if you believe that the world is conspiring in our favor, it doesn’t make it any more or less realistic.

A business leader can be optimistic or pessimistic, but there is a also third state of mind called, Being A Realistic Optimist. This means that in general and for most business situations, a leader is an optimistic thinker. However, in particularly challenging conditions (e.g., before and during very complicated negotiations with many unknown and unfavorable variables) a leader might apply a more conservative style.

Optimism balanced by realism shines when faced with extreme challenge. Optimists choose to look for positivity in the situation, and most importantly, they always take action towards a better outcome, regardless of the problem.

Let’s take a moment to define optimism:

A tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and expect the most favorable outcome.” -Courtesy of Dictionary.com

What’s so unrealistic (or unhealthy) about that? Optimistic leaders believe that things will work out because in their minds believing in the alternative makes absolutely no sense. No matter what a leader’s goal, they have no control over the future. There is no one reading these words which can predict the future. And because of that, we have a genuine choice that we need to make about our expectations.

Since none of us know what will happen next, wouldn’t it make sense to always focus our expectations on what we want to happen in our lives instead of what we do not want to happen?

The word “Optimism “is originally derived from the Latin optimum, meaning “best.” Being optimistic, in the typical sense of the word, ultimately means one expects the best possible outcome from any given situation.

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle (Albert Einstein).

Research has found that positive, i.e., optimistic thinking can aid in coping with stress, in becoming more resilient, in being more courageous, and plays a significant role in improving one’s health and well-being.

According to Martin Seligmann, people with a so-called optimistic explanatory style tend to give themselves credit when good things happen and typically blame outside forces for bad outcomes. They also look at adverse events as temporary and atypical.

Albert Bandura, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology, argued decades ago that optimism is the basis for creating and maintaining motivation to reach goals. And that an individual’s success is mostly based on the fact of whether they believe they will succeed. The results of his findings have yet to be proven wrong.

Unrealistic optimists (I also refer to them as naive realists), on the one hand, are convinced that success will happen to them almost automatically and that they will succeed effortlessly. Some of them even think (and hope) that only by sending out positive thoughts, the universe might reward them by transforming all of their wishes and aspirations into reality.

Realistic optimists are vigorously optimistic, too. They firmly believe that they make things happen and that they will succeed. They do not doubt it. Saying that, on the other hand, they perfectly know that in order of being successful, they have to plan well, to access all necessary resources, to stay focused and persistent, to evaluate different options, and to execute in excellence.

Being both optimistic and realistic, i.e., combining the two into one behavioral style of realistic optimism, creates a special breed of very successful people. Natural optimists stay positive and upbeat about the future, even – and especially – if and when they recognize the challenges ahead. As such, realism and optimism are not diametrically opposed. The contrary is true: They compellingly complement each other!

In case of doubt – and mostly if you want to achieve something very unique and impactful – the optimist in you should outwit your realist. Why? The realist might be too prone to anxiety. The optimist, however, if stimulated and guided well, will activate your fantasy, imagination, and boldness.

But there is an important caveat: to be successful, you need to understand the vital difference between believing you will succeed and believing you will succeed easily. Put another way, it’s the difference between being a realistic optimist and an unrealistic optimist.

Realistic optimists believe they will succeed, but also believe they have to make success happen — through things like effort, careful planning, persistence, and choosing the right strategies. They recognize the need for giving serious thought to how they will deal with obstacles. This preparation only increases their confidence in their ability to get things done.

Unrealistic optimists, on the other hand, believe that success will happen to them — that the universe will reward them for all their positive thinking, or that somehow they will be transformed overnight into the kind of person for whom obstacles cease to exist. (Forgetting that even Superman had Kryptonite. And a secret identity that took a lot of trouble to maintain and relationship issues.)

Believing that the road to success will be rocky leads to tremendous success because it forces you to take action. People who are confident that they will succeed, and equally confident that success won’t come easily, put in more effort, plan how they’ll deal with problems before they arise, and persist longer in the face of difficulty like the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Unrealistic optimists are only too happy to tell you that you are “being negative” when you dare to express concerns, harbor reservations, or dwell too long on obstacles that stand in the way of your goal. In truth, this kind of thinking is a necessary step in any successful endeavor, and it’s not at all antithetical to confident optimism. Focusing only on what we want, to the exclusion of everything else, is just the naïve and reckless thinking that has landed industry leaders (and at times, entire industries) in hot water during this difficult period.

Cultivate your realistic optimism by combining a positive attitude with an honest assessment of the challenges that await you. Don’t visualize success — visualize the steps you will take to make success happen.

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If you have any questions or would like help in the area of Compliance and Controls please do not hesitate to contact Frank at frank@ationadvisory.com or visit my website at www.ationadvisory.comAtion Advisory Group has expert financial and operational experience in development, manufacturing, distribution, and sales spanning 55 countries and, six continents, delivering individualized, proven methods to build out and implement highly successful and sustainable country-specific goals.  All executed with 100% FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) compliance.

leaders

How Strong Is Your C-Suite Bullpen? Preparing The Next Generation Of Leaders.

About $350 billion a year is spent on leadership development, but many companies aren’t getting much bang out of their buck. Studies indicate that lots of senior executives don’t think the next wave is prepared well enough to assume larger leadership roles.

With many companies in a transitional phase, either due to people retiring or radical changes prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, having ill-equipped leaders taking over can compound problems. Some businesses will suffer if they don’t make major changes in how they develop leaders, says Jennifer Mackin (www.jennifermackin.com), ForbesBook author of Leaders Deserve Better: A Leadership Development Revolution and a leader of two consulting firms.

“With baby-boomer leaders nearing retirement, there are fewer people in the workforce that are capable of doing the work required,” Mackin says. “Generation X has smaller numbers of people and hasn’t been invested in leadership development like boomers have.

“Many CEOs complain that their people aren’t ready to lead into the future. The source of the problem is leaders don’t know what to do differently to strengthen their people. A leader’s primary role is to coach and to create an environment that perpetually develops new leaders. There are ways they can refocus on that.”

One of those ways, Mackin says, is for executives to align business strategies with their people strategies. She offers these tips on how senior management can link the two and develop leaders in the process:

See the need to prioritize people strategies. Strategic plans, Mackin says, must address more than the financial component. “Too often CEOs and senior leaders put their people at the bottom of their strategic plans and fail to connect their business strategies with their people strategies,” Mackin says. “People are the most integral component of your strategies. If you decide, for example, that your organization will enter new markets, you have to connect that objective to your people. Maybe you will need 500 new people or 10 new leaders with certain skills to achieve your objective. How do you prepare for that?”

Know the key components of a people strategy. “Your people must fully understand the business plan for the next one to three years,” Mackin says. “Broad strategies for people have been identified to execute the business plan. There’s a plan for succession for all key roles. Gaps in knowledge, skills and abilities have been identified, and an overall development plan for the organization’s leaders addresses those gaps. Once you have the people strategy, companies can acquire the right talent based on well-defined roles, measure the outcomes, and adjust the plan as needed.”

Continue to scrutinize leadership readiness. These are questions CEOs must ask regarding where both their business and their leaders are today – and how to get them where they need to be tomorrow. “This must start with a plan that compares current state to future state,” Mackin says. “What are the gaps and how are you going to fill those with business and people strategies?”

Build a clear line of sight. Once the alignment is determined, Mackin says it must remain in sight for all leaders and their direct reports. “The leader knows where the organization is going, and direct reports understand their role in getting there,” Mackin says. “A clear line of sight means there is a connection between leaders’ objectives, the business strategy, and individual contributors’ work. It is also important for direct reports’ engagement and feeling of purpose that they understand exactly how their work and objectives add value to the business.”

“All senior leaders should be involved in the business strategy and people plans,” Mackin says. “It is critical that executives prioritize the development of leaders who can drive strategic change.”

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Jennifer Mackin (www.jennifermackin.com) is a ForbesBook author of Leaders Deserve Better: A Leadership Development Revolution, and a leader of two consulting firms – CEO of Oliver Group, Inc. and president and partner of Leadership Pipeline Institute US. As an author and speaker with over 25 years of consulting experience, she is a recognized leadership development influencer, having worked with CEOs, human resources managers, leadership development leaders, entrepreneurs, and other senior leaders in healthcare, hospitality, distribution, government, manufacturing, higher education, banking, financial services, and social services. She earned her BS in marketing from Indiana University and her MBA from Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt University.

covid

3 Approaches to Continuing Operations through COVID

COVID has impacted every aspect of our personal and professional lives. Businesses across different industries and verticals are adjusting their strategies and day to day processes in an attempt to make the best of this unprecedented moment. For this reason, different types of technology have become more prominent as they allow businesses and professionals to maintain the pace of business in light of how COVID has transformed the way we work.   

A recent survey from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that half of Americans are currently working from home. Along with these changes in work come new challenges regarding problem-solving, engagement in work tasks, and productivity. But as the trend of working remotely is here to stay – especially for Dev teams, for whom this was already somewhat the norm. In fact, in a recent IBM survey, 80% of respondents want to work remotely occasionally, and over 50% want to work from home primarily.

In particular, businesses within the logistics industry need to be able to address the logistical issues of keeping employees safe and aware of the risks, as well as maintaining internal operations so that business can continue. Here are three tips and suggestions for technology and process shifts that can help logistics businesses continue operations through COVID. 

Large Scale Consent with COVID Waivers

As employees at all levels of the supply chain continue to work, and as plans to reopen the office are being built out, there needs to be a way to keep everyone safe and healthy. This involves letting employees know about risks associated with COVID. Using liability waivers – legal agreements that must be signed before a particular activity is undertaken – can be a good solution for this. But rather than use pen and paper contracts (which require face to face contact) or traditional eSignature (that does not scale, especially when there is a high volume of signers), consider one-click contracts. They allow for rapid and seamless acceptance and still carry the same legal weight as a normal contract. They can also be accepted via text or email.

Use Clickwrap to Present Standard Agreements

Because of COVID, businesses are seeking ways to improve their current processes by cutting down on the time or money spent completing them. When it comes to contracts, many use pen and paper or eSignatures to send agreements and collect acceptances. However, these old processes have no place in this new world. One solution is to use clickwrap agreements to present your standard agreements, or market terms. A clickwrap agreement removes the necessity of signing and replaces it with a box or button that users can check or click to signify acceptance. That way, there is no need for face-to-face contact, and contracts can be executed remotely as necessary. 

Automate Everything 

With the changes in business priorities, logistics teams will no longer have the bandwidth for some repetitive tasks that previously received a lot of attention. Instead of hyper-focusing on them or ignoring them altogether, automate those processes so you have time to focus on others. Workflow and Content Automation (WCA) is a growing category of technology that businesses should leverage. After identifying the repetitive processes, WCA enables you to identify high volume, low-value transactions and automate the document workflow associated with them such as implementing clickwrap agreements. This includes standardized agreements like terms and conditions, privacy policies, and NDAs. 

As these constant changes require businesses to make changes to their current internal processes using technology that helps them adapt better to the ongoing circumstances. Using clickwrap agreements can help significantly reduce the amount of contact between transacting parties. It can also be a massive internal lift as it helps with workflow and content automation, thereby enabling you to reduce repetitive processes. Finally, using COVID liability waivers that scale with your business is a sophisticated way to ensure that your business minimizes physical contact and protects its best interests in this new world.

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Brian Powers is the founder and CEO of PactSafe and a licensed attorney. As the CEO, Brian leads the strategic vision of the company’s high-velocity contract acceptance platform.  Prior to founding PactSafe, Brian’s law practice focused primarily on representing the transactional needs of tech companies. Brian is a frequent speaker, instructor and author on topics ranging from clickthrough contract acceptance to privacy-related consent management.

GT Podcast – Episode 122 – Craig Reed with Avalara

In this episode, Global Trade Magazine speaks with Avalara’s, Senior Vice President of Global Trade, Craig Reed about the tips and trends of e-commerce, and how their technology is helping companies streamline their taxation compliance.

An Economic Recovery From COVID-19 in 2021 Is Possible – But Massive Uncertainty Remains

COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on human life. But it has also caused widespread economic upheaval for both advanced and emerging market economies as countries shut down to try to stop the spread of the virus. The U.S. for instance is set to see the most severe economic downturn since GDP was first tracked in the 1940s.

This means deep hardship for many businesses of all sizes and across all industries. Shutdowns caused many firms to entirely cease operations for a time. Now, they are grappling with plummeting demand as a result of rising unemployment and uncertainty, on top of supply chain difficulties and uncertainty as to financing resources.

Bad Timing for a Global Crisis

Although there is no “good” time for a pandemic to strike, business conditions in 2020 were already a little shaky prior to the outbreak. At the beginning of the year, the global economy had just finished its weakest year since the Great Recession, global trade was turning sour, trade finance had become more restricted and continued uncertainty from the U.S.-China trade war weighed on businesses everywhere.

If the outlook was stormy at the beginning of the year, it’s now outright bleak. Atradius economists are now forecasting that global trade will decrease approximately 15 percent in 2020, while global GDP will decline about 5 percent. The U.S. will perform below average, with a 6.1 percent decrease in GDP – largely due to its lag in controlling the virus and subsequent record high in number of COVID-19 cases, in addition to soaring unemployment as well as pressure on incomes, leading to a drop in consumption.

Will Government Intervention Be Enough?

Governments and central banks the world over have enacted measures to counteract the pandemic’s economic devastation. Early in the crisis, for instance, the European Central Bank put in place a Long Term Refinancing Operations III program, while the U.S. Federal Reserve increased quantitative easing.

Countries have also put together aid packages, such as the U.S. CARES Act and a number of packages from individual EU economies and the UK. Similarly, China is providing tax relief, state-backed credit guaranteed, and delayed loan and interest payments. Altogether, global government stimulus measures amount to approximately 9 percent of global GDP, or around $7.8 trillion.

But will this be enough? Atradius economists suggest not – not unless countries also enact vigorous policies to revitalize the economy at every level. The EU Pandemic Fund provides a good example: the $750 billion initiative will bestow loans and grants to the areas and sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, allowing for a more even recovery rate across the entire EU.

Although stimulus measures are necessary, soaring government debt levels are also cause for concern – even before the outbreak, many countries had worryingly high debt levels. The most recent baseline scenario from Atradius economists has the U.S. federal budget deficit, as a proportion of GDP, increasing by more than 10 percentage points this year. The UK will fare even worse, seeing a 13 percentage point increase in deficit growth rate. China and India are the only major economies likely to maintain moderate debt ratios through the pandemic.

All that said, low interest rates will likely stick around through the end of 2021 at least – this should help offset some of the concerns over high government debt levels. Moreover, central banks like the Fed and ECB will continue purchasing government bonds, suppressing any financial market stress.

What’s Next?

While the global economy is under undue strain at the moment, Atradius economists predict a recovery could begin as early as this year, continuing into 2021. Our baseline scenario has global GDP rebounding by 5.7 percent in 2021, with the U.S. coming in just under that, with GDP growth of 4.2 percent.

This scenario, however, is shrouded in uncertainty and hinges on a few key assumptions:

-That researchers are able to develop a successful vaccine in the near-term

-That lockdowns will be limited throughout the remainder of the outbreak

-That oil prices will remain low

-That the U.S.-China trade war will remain at a standstill

-That the rise in financing cost for firms, if any, remains limited

Should these assumptions not play out, the global economic recession could be much worse than anticipated – contraction rates could be twice as damaging as those currently predicted, with global GDP contracting 12.2 percent in 2020 and U.S. GDP seeing a 7.9 percent drop. Recovering from a contraction of this size would be a slow, painful process, although we would expect 2021 to see similar growth rates.

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John Lorié is chief economist with Atradius Economic Research. He is also affiliated with the University of Amsterdam as a researcher. Previously, he was Senior Vice President at ABN AMRO, where he worked for more than 20 years in a variety of roles in commercial and investment banking. He started his career at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. John holds a PHD in international economics, master’s degrees in economics and tax economics as well as a bachelor’s degree in marketing. 

Theo Smid is an economist with Atradius Economic Research. His work focuses on business cycle analysis, insolvency predictions, thematic research and country risk analysis for the Commonwealth of Independent States. Before joining Atradius, he worked for five years in the macro-economic research team of Rabobank, focusing on business cycle analysis of the Dutch economy. He holds a master’s degree in economics from Tilburg University.