You are what you learn. As a business advisor who has worked with hundreds of businesses over the past 25 years, from startups and community-based nonprofits to large established organizations, I’ve observed patterns of behavior and thought that are recurring roadblocks for many leaders. After countless meetings, strategy sessions, and heart-to-heart discussions, here are the […]
In a world where divisions often dominate headlines and discussions, the concept of compromise shines as a beacon of hope, offering a path toward understanding and unity. From the political arena to the business landscape, the ability to find common ground and embrace differing viewpoints is essential for progress. I wrote this blog to […]
As a business owner, you’ve likely heard the saying, “The buck stops here.” This phrase, popularized by President Harry S. Truman, encapsulates the fundamental essence of business leadership – the responsibility to make the tough calls. However, this responsibility goes far beyond your immediate team or your traditional products and services. It reaches out […]
Growth is hard work. For the past 27 years, I’ve worked as an executive coach, Vistage Chair, trainer or management consultant with hundreds of organizations. They have varied in size from just under $1M to well over $1B. Some have grown aggressively while some have grown more methodically, and others have struggled to grow at […]
You need to score to win at anything in life, and to score, you need to play offense! I don’t know what’s happened to the mindset of the average business leader these days. I’m well aware that they’re bombarded with lots of information, most of it negative about the state of the economy, our […]
It has certainly been an interesting time to be a in a business leadership position these last few years. Every time you thought you had something figured out a new challenge arose. It was hard enough dealing with COVID-19 then we had to deal with a broken employer-employee model. In addition, economic conditions have been […]
There is a famous Jack Welch quote where he says. “Never miss out on an opportunity like a good recession.” I also like the Sam Walton quote, “I was asked what I thought about the recession. I thought about it and decided not to take part.” Both of these leaders understood the importance of keeping […]
I am asked all the time if there is a simple CEO success formula that every leader should follow. I believe there is and unfortunately few leaders have the discipline and commitment to consistently stick to it. The first thing you must clearly understand and mange to is your CEO role. Far too many leaders […]
Courage still matters in business and in life. Many of us avoid the difficult decisions or talk ourselves out of taking risks. We strive for comfort where only pain and discomfort exists. It’s better to bet on yourself and your business and accept the consequences then to live in someone else’s shadow or become another fish in the pond of mediocrity.
Leadership isn’t easy or everyone could do it. Some talented people make it look easy, but we often don’t see all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make it look this way. Most leaders struggle at some point and have to learn some difficult lessons along the way. Experience can be the best teacher if you are open to learning. I’ve observed the following 25 ways (in no particular order) that leaders tend to get themselves in trouble:
Time is short and markets are uncertain. As a leader, the time to act is now. Of course, you need to be thinking about the long-term and how your industry is changing. You also need to be building the foundation and pushing for these changes now. Every leader should constantly be asking themselves, “What is […]
Making the leap from entrepreneur to CEO isn’t always an easy journey. I’ve seen many people struggle with this transition. The ability to lead is not something you are born with; it is something you must constantly cultivate. And, the more success you have, the more leadership will be required. It is one thing to […]
I have the good fortune of working with over 50 businesses on a regular basis. I get to see the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to leadership challenges. Here are some observations that I hope you will find useful as you continue to manage through these challenging times.
If you are a CEO, the time to lead is now! It is a fact of life that the only constant in the world is change. You cannot resist the future you must only embrace it. In addition, as we’ve seen lately, the present can change course quickly. This is why adaptability is such an […]
“A lighthouse can symbolize various things, such as overcoming challenges and adversity or guidance. It is most commonly used to symbolize a way forward and help in navigating through the world. … The first is of the lighthouse itself, which can symbolize salvation and safety, especially in the face of adversity. – source: reference.com” The simile I like to use with my clients is […]
Leadership isn’t rocket science. Creating the conditions for business success is actually pretty basic: be clear about where you are going and why; define what success looks like and track performance; make sure all of your key people on the same page; don’t “wing it” when it comes to important decisions; ensure that every single employee knows how they fit in the big picture and what they are supposed to be doing; create a process for providing on-going performance feedback; hold people accountable for results (including yourself); be careful about who you hire and put in supervisory roles; provide extensive training and support; never stop communicating with your customers; and make sure everyone shares in the success of the business but also feels the pinch of nonperformance.
Leadership is not for the faint of heart. It certainly has its ups and downs and can test anyone’s emotional fortitude. However, this is the very reason so few people can do it well. If you take every small slight and failure personally, the job will eat you alive. Whenever you assume a position of responsibility, you automatically also assume a roster of critics and malcontents who aren’t always aligned with your leadership vision. Since you can’t realistically fire everyone who disagrees with you (nor is this advisable), then you need to figure out other ways to handle the pressures and scrutiny.
We all get in our way sometimes and leaders are no different. Just because we know we shouldn’t do something doesn’t always mean we won’t do it. However, not all mistakes are created equal. There are fifteen things a leader should strive never to do:
Leaders should be in a constant learning mode. Once you think you know it all give up the reigns of power because you will become detrimental to your organization. While some basic fundamental beliefs may remain true regardless of the circumstances, most of what takes place in business is in a constant state of flux. Your goal should be to stay ahead of the change curve not fall behind it. One way to do this is to keep asking questions and seeking answers. You can never be smart enough.
It is surprising and frustrating how many business leaders simply make it up as they go along. Entrepreneurs typically start with a core idea and then if they are lucky have some initial success which requires them to actually build a business delivery model. Most of them then get bogged down in the day to day operation and fulfilling their product/service promise to their customers. Since most companies typically start out undercapitalized and growth eats cash, they also get caught up in basic financial issues which can be a major leadership distraction. Next thing they know they have a company on their hands and employees who expect to have a boss with a clue about the future and a strategic plan of action. It can all be very challenging and easy to fall into a survival rather than success mode.
Focus on what you do well and then delegate everything else you possibly can. Many leaders spend far too much time on things they aren’t good at. Leadership is about effectively growing, leveraging and deploying assets. If the top personnel resource in the company is being used inefficiently or ineffectively what does that say about the organization as a whole? Time is finite and once it is wasted it is gone.