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Assess Your Leadership Qualities By Answering These 7 Questions

leadership

Assess Your Leadership Qualities By Answering These 7 Questions

A leader is supposed to be out in front, pointing the way toward whatever is ahead.

But, as we begin a new decade, too many business leaders are facing backward rather than forward,  says Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com), a global thought leader and consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and is author of the new book Leaderology.

“The future can’t be met with backward-thinking and old leadership methods that are no longer effective,” Konovalov says. “The leader’s duty is to open a door into the future for people and explain how things should be considered and managed in that new reality.”

“Leaders face more responsibilities and much higher expectations in terms of the execution of their roles,” he says. “The leader’s responsibilities are expanding enormously, demanding much stronger competencies and skills than before. Everyday learning and continuous improvement need to be the norm.”

As a result, Konovalov says the modern leader needs to combine meticulous planning with flexibility.

“Combining these attributes is necessary in an ever-changing and hyper-competitive market,” he says. “The wrong decisions and actions can lead to the whole organization losing sight of customer needs as well as quality, harming the long-term sustainability of the organization.

“Making the right decisions means thinking of more than the company. It means considering the values and needs of customers and employees as well.”

He suggests leaders assess where they are in their abilities so they can define areas where they need to improve.

To begin that assessment, Konovalov says leaders should ponder how they would answer the following seven questions. He offers a more detailed 38-question self-assessment on his website:

-What are the most typical mistakes from the past that hold you back from becoming an extraordinary leader?

-How clearly can you define your customers’ needs? Can you envision them as clearly as your personal needs?

-How do you care for your people as a leader?

-A strong culture is not about me, but about what I do for others. What do you and your colleagues do in terms of investing in others on a regular basis?

-What is your leadership style? Are you a leader who takes care of people or a boss taking care of yourself?

-What were the aims and results of the most recent changes implemented in your company, and what were the employees’ reactions to those changes?

-What lessons have you learned in the course of your leadership journey?

By answering these questions, Konovalov says, leaders can begin to gain insight into whether their leadership style is one that is pointed confidently toward the future, or one that’s stuck perilously in the past.

“Bad leaders build barriers for people,” Konovalov says. “Strong leaders build barriers to problems, accidents, and stagnation. We have more than enough mediocre or bad leaders. We need strong leaders for real progress and to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

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Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com) is a thought leader, author, business educator and consultant with over 25 years of experience operating businesses and consulting Fortune 500 companies internationally. His latest book is Leaderology. His other books are Corporate SuperpowerOrganisational Anatomy and Hidden Russia. Konovalov received his doctoral degree from the Durham University Business School. He is a visiting lecturer at a number of business schools, a Forbes contributor and high in demand speaker at major conferences around the world.

 

strategy

Latest Bayer-Monsanto Trial Reminds Us that Culture and Strategy Must Stay in Sync

What does culture have to do with the latest challenges at Bayer and Monsanto?

Since culture goes hand in hand with strategy, quite a lot.

But this fact — that strategy and culture are interrelated — has gotten lost in the current zeitgeist where culture is viewed as the last piece an organization puts in place, something you can just create or layer on.  An afterthought of sorts to innovation, product development, sales, marketing, teamwork, and strategy.

From the minute an organization comes to be, if not sooner, culture is there. It’s the basis on which founders and leaders express their purpose, their vision, and mission. It shapes the way decisions are made about what to produce and sell, to whom, and how.  Workplace habits and standards, behavioral consistency — even rituals and language — all flow from culture, not vice versa.

In other words, culture is a starting point for all of these things and more, beginning above all with an organization’s strategic agenda. Culture defines the who and the why behind strategy.

As companies grow and evolve, they tend to lose sight of the fact that culture and strategy go hand in hand, and forget that culture was initially embedded in everything they did. Culture gets reduced to a statement hanging on a poster in the office kitchen, conference room or front lobby. The connection between culture, strategy, decision-making, and behavior gets lost. The two are no longer in sync. That puts the company’s strategic agenda and intentions at risk.

This might seem disappointing yet harmless. Not so. Because a disconnect between culture and strategy and everything that flows from them can result in exactly the sort of conflicts and miscues we’re seeing with a range of organizations, large and small. Corporate strategy gets muddled and culture gets confused. The organization gets shackled in decision making, risk management and problem-solving. This has been a challenge with Bayer and Monsanto, as well as for GE, P&G, Boeing, a host of big retail companies, and across the healthcare sector.

As explained in my new book Strategic Teams and Development: The FieldBook for People Making Strategy Happen, culture should inform and help determine every decision leaders take and every action taken throughout the organization at every level, across borders, from executive group and staff directives to day-to-day choices and behavior within teams.

How can you make sure culture and strategy continue working hand in hand, and that culture doesn’t devolve into a string of empty buzzwords staring up from a culture deck that teams and individuals glance at without following through on?

The following four questions will help you assess whether and how your organization’s everyday thought and behavior is aligning with its culture — and make sure you’re not heading down the slippery slope of letting actions and decisions drift away from their cultural drivers:

1. Does the decision we are about to make reflect our values and culture around caring for our customers and their needs in a way that treats them as the assets that they are?

2. Will this decision contribute to our profit and sustenance in a way that remains true to our culture and to the purpose, vision and mission it has led us to shape?

3. Does this decision help us maintain our competitive advantage and differentiate us meaningfully in a way that aligns with our culture and values?

4. Is this decision in line with the ethics and values of service and integrity our culture embodies and is this meaningful stewardship for our full range of stakeholders?

To be a good corporate steward you have to have your eyes wide open for the needs of all types of stakeholders: customers, employees, investors, partners, and suppliers.

These questions intersect with one another in multiple places, forming a complex lattice. Decisions that impact competitive advantage or corporate stewardship will have implications for profit and sustenance. All choices will ultimately impact customers and the way your business meets their needs. There may be conflicts between one category and another, too.

Most companies check in on how they’re doing with culture every year or two at most. But given culture’s crucial foundational importance to strategy and all that flows and is expressed from it, much more attention is needed.

These four questions should be asked regularly and rigorously at all levels of operations and decision-making. They should form the basis for decision-making protocols and policies about everything from risk management and safety standards to financial management and personnel matters.

And if the answer to any of them is “no” it’s time to stop and rethink before taking action.

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Daniel Wolf is President and Co-founder of Dewar Sloan, a consulting group focused on  strategy direction, integration and execution. For more than 25 years Dewar Sloan has served hundreds of corporate, healthcare, technology and nonprofit organizations. Author of Strategic Teams and Development: The FieldBook for People Making Strategy Happen and Prepared and Resolved: The Strategic Agenda for Growth, Performance and Change, Dan has held management and governance roles at Fortune 500 companies, SME ventures and in private equity ventures. He lives in Traverse City, Michigan.

culture

What Happens When Leaders Forget the Culture That Made Their Company Great?

Many business leaders view their corporate culture as so important that they make it a point to hire people who are a good fit for that culture – and jettison any employees who aren’t.

But what happens when it’s the leaders themselves – for profits, for expediency, for getting the next deal done – who toss aside the culture and plow ahead with decisions that go counter to what made the company a success?

Trouble, that’s what happens, says Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture and the ForbesBooks author of the Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business (www.culturecodechampions.com).

“Your company’s culture should inform everything you do,” he says. “When you start straying from the practices that got you where you are, you run the risk of making decisions that will cost you in the long run.”

One example that surfaced recently involved Boeing, which posted its first full-year loss in more than two decades. The company was already reeling from two Boeing 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 passengers in Indonesia and Ethiopia, and forced the company to ground its entire fleet of Max jetliners.

According to news reports, the origins of the company’s woes can be traced all the way back to 1997 when Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas, a merger that immediately led to a clash of cultures. At Boeing, engineers were king. At McDonnell Douglas, the bottom line ruled.

In the end, the McDonnell Douglas culture prevailed.

“Mergers and acquisitions are always fraught with danger both financially and culturally,” says Higgs, a founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering who recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast. “Financial concerns get the focus while management figures, incorrectly, that culture will just work itself out.”

But in any organization – with or without a merger – it’s paramount that the leaders take charge of maintaining the culture. Higgs says some steps crucial to establishing a company culture and keeping it on course include:

-Encourage communication. Higgs is fond of saying that all problems ultimately are communications problems. In any organization, there can be communications breakdowns. “The most important way to improve execution and efficiency is to foster and maintain a spirit of inclusion, where everyone who has any contact at all with a particular project feels they are involved and is kept in the loop,” Higgs says.

-Knock down silos. Too often silos emerge in large organizations where departments become insulated from each other. They fail to share ideas and resources, and an attitude of competition replaces a spirit of collaboration.

-Make sure employees know they are respected and valued. This is the real key to building a successful organization and making sure your best people stay with you, Higgs says. Leaders should communicate regularly with employees to make sure they understand how valued they are. He says employees should also know it’s all right to speak up if they see something problematic.

“When I was at Mustang Engineering and we had grown from a small to a huge company, I still had drafters who were comfortable jumping five levels in the organization to let me know they would have to put out substandard work if the schedule or cost were not changed,” Higgs says.

“I always told them I would handle the issues internally with engineering and externally with clients or suppliers, but they should stay the course on quality.”

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Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture, is the ForbesBooks author of Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. He recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast (www.culturecodechampions.com), where he has interviewed such notable subjects as former CIA director David Petraeus and NASA’s woman pioneer Sandra Coleman. Culture Code Champions is listed as a New & Noteworthy podcast on iTunes. Higgs is also the co-founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering Inc. In 20 years, they grew the company from their initial $15,000 investment and three people to a billion-dollar company with 6,500 people worldwide. Second, third and fourth-generation leaders took the company to $2 billion in 2014. Higgs is a distinguished 1974 graduate (top 5 percent academically) of the United States Military Academy at West Point and runner up for a Rhodes scholarship. He is an Airborne Ranger and former commander of a combat engineer company.

company

Are Growing Pains Afflicting Your Business? How To Successfully Scale Your Company.

Ambitious entrepreneurs often are determined to grow their businesses by expanding into new areas, adding new products, and increasing the size of their workforce.

But growth comes with potential hazards, which is why one of the leading causes of business failure is overexpansion – growing too much too fast.

“There are so many complexities involved with growing a company” says Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, and founder and CEO of PFSbrands, the parent company of Champs ChickenCooper’s Express and BluTaco.

“If you’ve been a parent and raised kids, you can relate it to the various ages of kids. Much like your kids need different things at different ages, your business has different needs at different stages of growth.”

To stay on track with those needs, Burcham says business leaders need to:

Constantly evaluate employees. When a company is growing and improving, employees need to do the same, Burcham says. He’s an advocate of lifelong learning and expects employees to commit to continual personal improvement through reading, seminars or other educational efforts. In addition, while Burcham likes to promote from within, he will look elsewhere when necessary. “Scaling requires your team to evolve, but it also requires new blood,” he says. “As a company is growing, sometimes you have to go out and recruit the talent to help you get to that next level.”

Protect the brand. As the business grows, it’s crucial to adhere to standards and have quality controls in place. Otherwise, the business won’t build brand loyalty. “If you go into McDonald’s and you get a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder, you want that Big Mac or Quarter Pounder to taste the same in every location,” Burcham says. “That’s ultimately what every national brand is working toward.” In his own business, he has seen competitors of PFSbrands locate in supermarkets and convenience stores with loose standards.  “In some cases, we lose business to these competitors who are lenient and have lower standards,” Burcham says.

Embrace the future. Scaling is all about embracing the future, and that includes understanding millennials who will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, Burcham says. “Younger generations want to know why they’re doing something, and that makes a lot of sense when you think about how they grew up with their electronic devices,” he says. “They have been able to get answers anytime they want them.” Burcham’s company uses an open-book management approach that fits well with the transparency younger workers desire, he says. “Personal growth, education, and continuous learning are also things they are looking for. If companies today want to scale, then they need to embrace millennials and work to create an environment where they are engaged.”

Take their time back.“To be an effective leader as your business grows, you need to consistently work on time management,” Burcham says. He has five steps for doing this. 1. Decide what’s important and focus on two or three top priorities each day. 2. Stop doing some tasks. Instead, delegate or automate them. 3. Start on the most important thing first. 4. Learn to say no. 5. Block out time for self-improvement and life needs.

“Scaling is a process, not a destination,” Burcham says. “If you really want your business to grow, you need to be constantly moving, constantly evaluating and constantly improving.”

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Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, is the founder & CEO of PFSbrands, which he and his wife, Julie, started out of their home in 1998. The company has over 1,500 branded foodservice locations across 40 states and is best known for their Champs Chicken franchise brand which was started in 1999. Prior to starting PFSbrands, Burcham spent five years with a Fortune 100 company, Mid-America Dairymen (now Dairy Farmers of America). He also worked for three years as a Regional Sales Manager for a midwest Chester’s Fried chicken distributor.

Blijleven

Total Produce – Haluco Appoints Dirk Willem Blijleven as Chief Commercial Officer

Total Produce – Haluco is pleased to announce the appointment of Dirk Willem Blijleven as Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) and member of the Board of Directors of TP Haluco, effective February 1st, 2020.

An accomplished leader with significant experience working across the supply chain and diverse markets, Blijleven, 42 has worked in the food & fresh industry for more than two decades. Most recently Manager Buying for Aldi Netherlands, having spent nine years at Aldi Nord GmbH & Co. in senior leadership roles, Blijleven’s previous experience includes Sales & Marketing positions in the Greenery, the Dutch Flower Group and Driscoll’s.

Speaking of the appointment, Lorcan O’Connor, Total Produce Regional Managing Director for the Netherlands welcomed Blijleven to TP Haluco: “Dirk Willem has a demonstrable track record in delivering efficiencies and synergies from scale and in embracing change; meeting challenges, harnessing market opportunities and delivering growth. I wish him every success in his new role at what is an important juncture in the evolution of TP Haluco.”

Jan van der Lugt, founder and co-owner of TP Haluco adds: “Dirk Willem joins TP Haluco during a period of considerable change across the wider horticultural sector in the Netherlands. Customer-focused, Blijleven is a strong communicator and a consensus builder with strong leadership skills and a clear vision. As such, the Board and I are confident that Dirk Willem is the right person to deliver value to our customers and shareholders as our company enters its next chapter of transition and growth.”

On assuming the position, Blijleven says: “I am honored to have been appointed TP Haluco’s CCO. Ours is an organization dedicated to bringing together the collective resources and core competencies of diverse growers in the Netherlands and worldwide. I will do my best to serve all of our stakeholders by helping to empower our growers and our people to fulfill their ambition and their passion to make a difference.”

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About Total Produce – Haluco Holding BV
Total Produce – Haluco Holding offers an extensive range of Dutch open field- and glasshouse vegetables grown by an unrivaled network of exceptional, experienced local producers. Committed
to bringing the grower and the consumer ever closer together, Total Produce – Haluco Holding point of difference lies in the passion of our people, the efficiency with which we bring product to market and the consistency and quality of our produce. As part of the Total Produce family, we are uniquely positioned to meet customer expectations of 52 week supply; complementing local supply with exceptional produce from across the globe. Serving the retail, wholesale and foodservice sectors, Total Produce – Haluco Holding is a complete fresh produce solution provider – offering a comprehensive menu of services to our customers ranging from simple service provision to complete Category Management.
www.haluco.nl

About Total Produce Plc.
Total Produce is today one of the world’s largest and most accomplished fresh produce producers and providers. Local at heart, Global by nature, Total Produce operates out of 39 countries while serving many more. Our industry leading vertically integrated supply chain extends across the globe incorporating over 260 facilities including farms, vessels, manufacturing facilities, cold storage warehousing and packhouses. Growing, sourcing, importing, packaging, marketing and distributing over 300 lines of fresh produce, Total Produce’s range extends from the more familiar to the truly exotic. www.totalproduce.com

visionary

Are You A Visionary? 6 Traits Every Strong Vision Shares.

There’s a reason many of the most successful businesses in America – Apple, Amazon and others – had a visionary leader behind them, propelling them to achieve their goals at the highest level.

“A vision pushes people not just to do more, but to do more than they think they are capable of,” says Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com), a global thought leader and consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and is author of the new book Leaderology.

Yet, even though everyone does a lot of talking about the importance of vision, he says, it’s not easy to fully grasp just what it is.

“I’ve discussed vision with CEOs of big companies, serial entrepreneurs, creators of unique software, and many others,” Konovalov says. “Every single person with whom I have spoken viewed vision differently. But in the course of all these discussions I discovered that there were some properties of a strong vision that remained constant.”

Vision reflects the highest purpose of leadership. A leader’s vision should include actual benefits for those affected by the vision, such as employees, customers, the leaders themselves, employees’ families and society at large. “A main stimulus of vision is people and the care of their needs,” he says. “If a vision is not formed around people and their needs, then it is not vision but personal ambition.”

Vision doesn’t lead to dead ends. A vision is always scalable and should show multiple potentials for expansion, Konovalov says. “But to be able to scale the vision you should maintain an appropriate cognitive distance from it,” he says. “This allows you to see the broader picture while keeping the important details in sight. Stand too close and you see the details, but lose the whole picture. Stand too far away and you lose the important details from which the vision is created.”

Vision reveals a path to success. As you pursue your vision, watch for the signs and clues that will help lead you to success. “They will be easy to follow if the vision is strong,” Konovalov says. “Those signs are always around in different forms – words of encouragement, expressions of real need from strangers, and answers to critical questions coming from unexpected perspectives.” Paying attention to such signs helps people spot opportunities while crafting the most effective path to success, he says.

Vision means taking on responsibility. If you’re the person with a vision, you are taking on a responsibility that will have an impact on people’s lives.  “And the greater the vision is, the greater the responsibility,” Konovalov says. “But this huge responsibility also comes with incredible opportunities, the kind of opportunities available only to pioneers. It may be intimidating to take on all that responsibility, but it will reward you in return.”

Vision should be easy to understand. “Vision involves elegant thinking about complicated things,” Konovalov says. But that doesn’t mean the vision itself should be so complex that everyone is left puzzling over what you’re saying. Just the opposite. “Great vision is genuinely easy to understand,” he says. “The simpler the vision is in its core meaning, the easier it can be shared with employees, customers, and partners.”

Vision generates excitement. A person with a vision isn’t nonchalant about it. Strong vision is always accompanied by excitement. “Actually, vision is a strong emotion itself,” Konovalov says. “If someone tells you about his great vision and he sounds ho-hum about it, then most likely he is lying to himself and others. Such a person might have a goal, but they don’t have a vision.”

Vision is a great leadership ability and success instrument, Konovalov says.

“Vision defines and explains why and where effort should be focused,” he says. “And while vision is normally created by a single person, it quickly becomes the property of many, and that’s important.

“No one can accomplish something great on his or her own. Vision is what attracts the people needed to take what you want to accomplish and turn it into a reality.”

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Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com) is a thought leader, author, business educator and consultant with over 25 years of experience operating businesses and consulting Fortune 500 companies internationally. His latest book is Leaderology. His other books are Corporate Superpower, Organisational Anatomy and Hidden Russia. Konovalov received his doctoral degree from the Durham University Business School. He is a visiting lecturer at a number of business schools, a Forbes contributor and high in demand speaker at major conferences around the world.

 

military

Looking to Hire a Top-Notch Executive? Think Retired Military.

Anyone responsible for guiding a large corporation should be actively recruiting retired military officers. And here’s why.

Commanders are proven leaders. They’ve typically mastered the interlocking skills of how to resource, equip, and train an increasingly large number of troops for combat. Lieutenants start out guiding a platoon of 40 soldiers. Next comes leadership of a company, equaling four or more platoons. The units keep combining, and the number of troops keeps growing.

At the top, the numbers are staggering. For instance, as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1993-97), Gen. John Shalikashvili sat atop all branches of the U.S. military, then totaling 1.7 million active-duty personnel. As SACEUR, the military head of NATO (1992-1993), he directed a mind-boggling 2 million troops, 2,300 tanks and 5,200 warplanes from 16 countries.

What enables leadership at that level? Using Shalikashvili’s career as an example reveals a wide range of skills in high demand at any Fortune 500 company.

For one, military leaders dedicate their careers to learning how to master complexity. For artillery officers like Shalikashvili, this includes keeping track of an eyebrow-raising number of variables—like powder temperature and projectile weight; compensation for tube wear, the effects of nonstandard weather conditions, and even the earth’s rotation; the resupply of ammunition, fuel, and rations; as well as working together in support of other combat units.

Yet leadership requires the ability to simplify complex tasks, which the military often does by setting standards and communicating them clearly to others. These skills are especially prevalent in the Army. As the largest service branch, its core strength lies in putting boots on the ground. It’s also the most diverse—in terms of education level, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. And on average it has the youngest, and thus least experienced, members.

The gravity of the warfighting trade also engenders the skill of precision. For example, fielding nuclear weapons, Shalikashvili’s focus particularly during his early career, requires constant vigilance, setting rigorous standards, and enforcing strict discipline. One crisis, one accident, or even one failed inspection has typically resulted in commanders all along the chain of command being relieved from duty. “In the field of tactical nuclear weapons,” explained Lieutenant General “Dutch” Shoffner, once the Army’s assistant deputy chief of staff for operations, “when you ask an important question you expect a specific answer. And people trained this way take that attitude into other areas of their professional life.”

The military also often affords officers the opportunity for creative leadership. As the two-star commander of the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis in 1987, Shalikashvili oversaw a “high technology test bed” tasked to integrate three brigades—one heavy armor, one light infantry, and one “experimental mechanized”—into a new type of fighting force. This meant designing a division over 10,000 soldiers, building the actual organization, designing and procuring equipment, and both creating a corresponding doctrine and training soldiers how to fight under it.

And finally, while the Patton leadership style is popularized in movies, it is far from the norm. “You can’t be a designer of confrontation within the U.S. military,” noted Jack Walker, once the youngest general officer in the U.S. Army, “It just won’t work.”

The best officers use their power sparingly. “The strongest people don’t need confrontation or anger—but [instead they] know their stuff, their position, and when necessary will not budge,” notes former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, who worked closely with Shalikashvili in the 90s. “Confrontation leaves scars—which over a long-term relationship can leave scar tissue that gets in the way. Shalikashvili did things in a way that people don’t have to lose. He created goodwill.” Walker agreed: “Shali wouldn’t get too strong … until it was really necessary.”

Putting all these diverse skills together can result in astonishing leadership ability. Take Shalikashvili’s command of Operation Provide Comfort. In the aftermath of Gulf War I, some half a million Kurds became trapped along the deadly mountain border between Iraq and Turkey, with 1,000 refugees dying per day. It was an unprecedented crisis, and it created an unprecedented response: Without any pre-existing agreements to provide institutional structure, over 35,000 soldiers from 13 countries and volunteers from over 50 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) came together—many of whom had never worked together and even had outright distrust of each other.

Under Shalikashvili’s leadership, in a mere 90 days, the task force was able to first stop the dying and then managed to move the Kurds peacefully back into Iraq. No wonder Chief of Staff of the Army General Gordon Sullivan would later liken Shalikashvili to the great jazz improvisational artist Dave Brubeck: highly trained in the classical approach but able to operate successfully, almost magically, in new conceptual territory.

In sum, retired military officers offer a wide array of leadership skills—including, but not limited to, understanding complexity, setting and communicating standards, precision, and creativity. Recruiting among their ranks is a low-risk, high-reward approach to injecting experienced leadership into the upper ranks of any large organization.

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Andrew Marble is author of  Boy on the Bridge: The Story of John Shalikashvili’s American Success (University Press of Kentucky), the first-ever biography of Gen. John Shalikashvili. Marble has a PhD in political science from Brown University, an MA in law and diplomacy from Tufts University’s Fletcher School and a BA in East Asian studies from Middlebury College. Heis outreach editor for the Taiwan Journal of Democracy and a reviewer for the Washington Independent Review of Books. For more information, visit andrewmarble.com.

employees

5 EFFECTIVE WAYS TO IMPROVE EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE

One of the things you will undoubtedly want to do as a leader is to improve the productivity of your employees. While technology has certainly made things a lot easier over time, employees are actually spending more and more time in the office and the typical workweek of 40 hours is getting rather stretched. So how can you improve the productivity of your employees and get them to save more time? Here are a few tips I learned while working at AssignmentMasters and a few other places.

Delegate

It might seem obvious that you should delegate, but a lot of leaders and managers somehow find themselves in the micromanagement trap. It’s actually quite difficult to train yourself to delegate more in practice. You will often feel that your company and business is your baby and that you want to have full control over everything that goes on at the workplace

There is nothing wrong with wanting to see everything going according to plan. It is, after all, what guarantees that no one will hijack your ideas and that your business will be successful. However, you don’t have to check every little detail of what’s going on at your company while you’re at it. You are better off delegating as many things as you can to other qualified people. If you try to do every little thing yourself, you’ll just end up wasting everyone’s time. 

The most important thing you will have to develop is trust in your employees. Start by employing only people who are well qualified at what they do, and then trust them to do it well. You will not only take a huge load off of your back, but you will also give your employees the chance to put their skills to work, to learn problem-solving, to learn how to work independently, and also to learn some important leadership skills. These skills can then later be used to grow your company even more than you could ever have managed to do yourself.

This is actually common in the most successful companies. Zipjob, for example, is very large on delegating and as a result, can even afford to have a lot of employees working remotely. 

Think back to when you first hired your employees. You saw a lot of potential in them and that’s why you brought them on board. Now, give them the opportunity to prove your judgment correct!

Tasks Should Match Skills

While we’re on the topic of delegating, it’s also important to know what to delegate to whom. You should have an intimate knowledge of all of your employees’ skills and their different levels of skill. That way, you will be more efficient in your delegation of tasks to the employees. Some are extroverted and creative, who can think on their feet and are very charming. Allowing these employees to pitch to your clients makes a lot more sense than giving that work to your more introverted and methodical employees. On the other hand, if you have any work that is big on following the rules, then you’re better off delegating that to the more shrewd and methodical employees.

At AustralianWritings, different employees with diverse skills are hired and the work delegated to them according to their skills. As a result, this company has consistently beaten its rivals.

It would be unreasonable to expect your employees to do everything perfectly. Instead, always ask yourself who is best suited to what task before you delegate the tasks. If you can’t find them among your existing employees, then you can either hire someone new or outsource that piece of work to someone else.

Communication is Key

We all know about the importance of communication. It makes the workforce productive overall. With technology, it’s even easier to communicate in the modern office. However, just because more channels of communication are available to us doesn’t mean that communication has become more efficient. Sending emails, for example, takes up more than a quarter of the average employee’s day. That’s a huge portion of the day to dedicate to sending emails!

As a leader, you should look for the most efficient way to communicate with your employees. There are numerous technologies on the market, including collaboration software and scheduling software with direct video conferencing and voice to voice features. You can use these to carry out quick meetings or a speedy paper review and communicate with your employees. That way you will make sure that no more time is used on correspondence than is necessary and your employees have more time to do what you actually pay them to do. 

Have Clear Goals

The whole essence of efficiency is that you are trying to be efficient while trying to achieve some goal. Your employees can therefore not be efficient if they do not have a goal to work toward. You need to give them something to aim for. 

If you don’t define your goals clearly enough, and make them reasonable enough to be achievable, your employees will not be as productive as they actually can. This applies both the goals of the individual tasks you assign to employees and the overall goals of the company as a unit. 

You should always let your employees know, in no unclear terms, what your expectations of them are and what kind of impact the assignments you are giving them will have on the overall goals of the company.

There is a mnemonic for the perfect kind of goal: SMART. 

-Smart

-Measurable

-Attainable

-Realistic

-Timely

Your goals should not only be clever and attainable, but also realistic, easy to measure, and achievable within the given timeline. Always check if your goals meet these criteria before you assign any tasks to employees.

Best Essays and EssayWritingLab are two companies known for this. They pin their weekly goals on the bulletin boards for all employees to see and act accordingly. Each employee is also assigned individual goals so they know what to aim for.

Train Employees

Your employees are one of your greatest assets, if not the greatest assets themselves. You should, therefore, be eager to train and develop them, making sure they get all the skills they need to do their jobs even better. While it might seem like a good idea to cut costs on training and forcing your employees to learn on the job, it has a massive potential to backfire.

Take some extra time and invest some extra money to train your employees in the skills they require to do their jobs. That way, they will be even more independent and competent with the tasks you assign them. 

To prepare training material, you can outsource the work to a writing service like AussieWritings or AssignmentMan to do it for you expediently.  

By making your employees more productive, you maximize the value you get from your business and improve your bottom line. The tips on this list are certainly not exhaustive, but they are a good starting point on the road to making your employees and company more productive. 

This guest post is contributed by Kurt Walker who is a blogger and college paper writer. In the course of his studies he developed an interest in innovative technology and likes to keep business owners informed about the latest technology to use to transform their operations. He writes for companies such as Edu Birdie, XpertWriters and uk.bestessays.com on various academic and business topics.

management

5 Traits Today’s Leaders Need to Revolutionize Their Management Style

The rapid rate of change and innovation brought about by the digital age is putting many large corporations in peril as they realize they are in an “adapt-or-die” era.

But for a business to change, its leadership must be willing to change as well, and that doesn’t always happen, says Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com), a global thought leader and consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and is the author of the new book Leaderology.

“Old strategies and approaches are not sufficient anymore,” Konovalov says. “Unfortunately, we are stuck in the Dark Ages of management, in which we fall back on the old ways of leading people, rooted in the patterns, metrics and expectations of the past. We are in desperate need of a management revolution.”

Put simply, he says, a leader’s hesitation to learn and adapt to new realities kills any chance of spotting opportunities and being innovative.

“We have memories of such giants as Kodak and Borders,” Konovalov says. “Both used to be on the Fortune 500 list, but passed away because they were stuck in the old paradigm of thinking. A dogmatic way of thinking and acting won’t get anyone far in business.”

Konovolav says over the years he has learned numerous lessons about what separates extraordinary leaders from the ordinary. Here are just five of the traits true leaders possess:

They are involved with their teams. Managers who just monitor from afar what employees are doing tend to think they are good leaders as long as everything seems to be going well. “This is wrong,” Konovalov says. “Are you giving input to the team? Are you present when things are going well or only if things go poorly? The amount of effort and energy the leader puts into the work defines the actual role and status of the leader.”

They are a coach and receptive learner at the same time. “This is a good combination because, on the one hand, you help people to grow by sharing your expertise,” Konovolav says. “On the other hand, not learning from other people is equal to ignoring them.” In the best scenario, he says, there will be experts on the team from whom the leader and everyone else can learn.

They understand leadership is not a dictatorship. People in leadership positions possess power and influence, but they should use that power to serve people, Konovalov says. “If you do that, you’ll be paid back threefold with respect, support and loyalty,” he says. “Make your leadership worth following. Be an example by working for others, rather than acting like you’re king of the mountain in a kids’ game.”

They over-deliver on promises. When true leaders pledge to do something, they are able to calculate the risk and understand the effort needed to achieve what they have said they will do. “Real leaders know they will be judged against actual deeds and fulfilled promises,” Konovalov says. “Unfulfilled promises work against them and people who counted on them will leave. Promising too much is for incompetent leaders.”

They know that winners breed winners. It’s a leader’s duty to help people feel like winners even in small achievements, and to convince them of their ability to succeed despite past failure, Konovalov says. “People trained to win will win,” he says. “People trained to fail will fail.”

“The modern leader needs to combine meticulous planning with flexibility,” Konovalov says. “The wrong decisions and actions can lead to the whole organization losing sight of customer needs as well as quality, harming the long-term sustainability of the organization.

“Making the right decision means thinking of more than the company. It means considering the values and needs of customers and employees as well.”

________________________________________________________

Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com) is a thought leader, author, business educator and consultant with over 25 years of experience operating businesses and consulting Fortune 500 companies internationally. His latest book is Leaderology. His other books are Corporate SuperpowerOrganisational Anatomy and Hidden Russia. Konovalov received his doctoral degree from the Durham University Business School. He is a visiting lecturer at a number of business schools, a Forbes contributor and high in demand speaker at major conferences around the world.

Want Employees To Love What They Do? Here Are 4 Ways To Get There.

Bosses might want to take notice if employees view their jobs as “the daily grind.”

A disgruntled and disengaged workforce can undermine production and harm customer relations, while a happy, engaged workforce does the opposite.

“If you take care of your employees, they will be better prepared and far more motivated to take care of your customers,” says Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), founder and CEO of PFSbrands and author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success.

“Ideally, you want employees who think and act like owners.”

Burcham says one of the first steps toward cultivating such an environment is to communicate openly with employees. And that may be even more crucial today because newer generations entering the workforce want to know the “why” of what they are doing.

“Millennials value truth and honesty,” Burcham says. “They also are looking for personal growth, education, and continuous learning. If companies want to scale, then they need to embrace millennials and work to create an environment where they are engaged.”

He suggests four ways leaders can help their employees love what they do:

Have fun at work. People spend more hours at their jobs than doing just about anything else, Burcham says, so the time might as well be enjoyable rather than drudgery. Some simple ways people can have fun at work include cracking jokes, decorating their work areas, or celebrating employee birthdays. For Burcham, the work itself is fun. “As a leader, I want to provide an environment conducive to having fun,” he says. “I also let our employees know that it is up to them to make having fun a reality within their job and their department.”

Coach them up. All employees must be willing to learn at a pace consistent with the company’s growth, Burcham says. “Usually, we hire people with a skillset that enables them to scale with us,” he says. “Sometimes, though, we have employees who are challenged to ‘make the leap’ with us. When that happens, we work with them to find a role on our team where they can excel. We want to provide them with every opportunity and tool we can to help them adapt.”

Maintain a positive attitude. Most successful people exude a positive attitude, are optimistic, and have a never-quit personality, Burcham says. “Who wants to work in an environment of doom and gloom?” he asks. One way to cultivate an upbeat workplace is to strive to hire only “A” players, people who want to be the best at their jobs and take pride in making positive contributions.  “But anyone can be or become an A player,” Burcham says. “It simply revolves around having a positive attitude along with a desire to learn and constantly improve.”

Show appreciation. Employees want to know that the bosses – and their coworkers – appreciate them, so it’s important to find ways to show them. Burcham says at his company new hires are welcomed by dozens of emails from their team members before they even arrive for the first day of work. When they start, two or three dozen employees gather to greet them with a high five. “For our team, it’s all about gratitude,” Burcham says. “It’s not, ‘I have to go to work today.’ It’s, ‘I get to go to work today.’ ”

“I think the real key,” Burcham says, “is to hire people who are already motivated and then put them in an environment where they can excel. Engaged employees are fun to work with and they will go the extra mile for their customers as well as their peers.

 

Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, is the founder & CEO of PFSbrands, which he and his wife, Julie, started out of their home in 1998. The company has over 1,500 branded foodservice locations across 40 states and is best known for their Champs Chicken franchise brand which was started in 1999. Prior to starting PFSbrands, Burcham spent five years with a Fortune 100 company, Mid-America Dairymen (now Dairy Farmers of America). He also worked for three years as a Regional Sales Manager for a midwest Chester’s Fried chicken distributor.