Executive Leadership Solutions

I heard John Maxwell say, “Anyone can find a problem, but it takes a leader to find a solution,” (or something along those lines) for the first time nearly twenty years ago. In fact, I remember him sharing a story about the time he started requiring anyone on his team bringing him a problem to present at least three possible solutions to that problem. He went on to explain that there were a few team members who never brought him a problem again!

Whether we’re leading a small group of people or an entire organization, we’ve likely all experienced something similar to what prompted John to take that stance. As a supervisor, manager, or owner, our team often expects us to have all the answers! To that end, have you ever heard anyone who wasn’t in a leadership role say “they don’t pay me to think”? Each time I hear something like that, I’m flooded with a mix of frustration that anyone is willing to accept such a low level of...

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What’s Driving Your Team?

Last time, I shared an example that I hoped would help make the case for the clear difference between managing and leading an organization. One is just as important as the other and neither can be overlooked, but we cannot mistakenly consider those two very different actions to be one in the same! That said, I’m sure you’ve seen that exact thing happen just as frequently as I have…

Let me be clear here; I don’t believe the terms - leadership and management - are interchanged with the intention of creating confusion (most of the time). In the majority of the scenarios I’m picturing, supervisors and managers definitely hold responsibility for leading their teams. But all too often, they’ve never been provided with the tools necessary for combining any kind of effective leadership with the technical steps of managing the outcomes of the processes they’re overseeing. We’ll circle back to that shortly…

Before that though, I want to...

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Who’s Really Leading?

The entire time I was in manufacturing, nearly twenty years, the facility I worked in held a meeting each Tuesday afternoon that was often referred to as The Leadership Team Meeting. The plant manager led this meeting and each of the department managers participated, reviewing the metrics they were each responsible for tracking, discussing issues they were facing, and whether or not they were within budget to that point in the quarter. If one of those managers happened to be out of the plant, they would tap someone on their team to attend in their place…

Sound familiar? I expect it does since nearly every company I’ve interacted with in the years since holds similar meetings. But are those really leadership team meetings?

When Cindy and I had a conversation with Carly Fiorina a while back, she shared this with us regarding the difference between managing and leading, “Managers produce results within existing constraints and conditions. Leadership CHANGE or ...

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Show’em Who’s Boss!?

I closed last time by promising to share some things that just about anyone can apply to earn genuine influence and lead the team they supervise or manage more effectively. While that may seem like a pretty lofty promise, I really believe it’s much simpler than it’s usually made out to be…

Just to make sure we’re on the same page though, let’s start with a few examples…

You recently finished up some classes in your off time while working your full time role. You apply for and are offered a position managing the department that you’ve been a part of for the last several years. You’ve always gotten along well with everyone you worked with but they’ve never had to follow your instructions. But starting next Monday, you’re going to need to establish some boundaries and make sure they respect you in this new position. The work environment has always been fairly relaxed but you know productivity could be better if there was...

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Leadership In Management

As we looked at some of the most Essential Qualities of Leadership recently, I made a few references to things we’ve likely all seen folks with authority do that pushes a team away from them rather than earning the kind of influence necessary to truly lead. While I believe possessing leadership qualities, and being very intentional about actually using them, can help anyone in a position of authority be more effective, holding a title alone does not equate to being a leader!

I can’t count the number of times over the last twenty years where I’ve heard an organization’s senior managers referred to as the leadership team. There are certainly plenty of examples where the folks in management roles have also earned the kind of influence necessary to truly lead the people reporting to them but I’ve seen just as many scenarios where someone supervising or managing a department has struggled leading silent prayer. In many of those situations, it only takes a...

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Communication Skills in the Workplace

We closed the loop on Why is Effective Communication Important? by looking at how quickly we can see the results show up with the team members around us. It’s rare for me and Cindy to have a conversation about the importance of effective communication with any of the business leaders we support and not reference the Salesforce.com study citing that “86% of the executives surveyed attributed lack of collaboration and ineffective communication as the primary reasons for workplace failure.” Couple that with the detail shared by the Harvard Business Review showing that an engaged employee contributes up to 57% additional discretionary effort yielding as much as 20% great individual performance and the reasons for building strong communication skills into an organization’s culture becomes far more than just a neat idea… Developing communication skills in the workplace rapidly turns into one of those things that can’t happen soon enough! 

Before I...

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Listening, Not Just Hearing...

In the last post, I mentioned one thing I saw mentioned in every article I dug into as being essential to developing effective communication skills; listening. There was certainly a point in time where I would have argued that idea but I’d like to think my head isn’t in that part of my body all that often anymore… In fact, Cindy and I stress how important listening for building influence is as a leader in multiple spots of our Emerging Leader Development course.

First, consider just how much effective listening can impact the influence someone in a leadership role earns with us… Here’s where we draw the line between a person who has authority over us and a person we’re willing to follow! The person who’s simply in charge can probably get away with bark demands without paying any attention whatsoever to what’s on our minds - at least for a little while. Sooner or later, most of us will have had a belly full of that. The one who...

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Simple to Understand, Simple to Apply!

Over the last decade or so, I’ve heard dozens of pitches on how the latest, greatest thing will change my life! Watch any info-mmercial and you’re likely to feel like you’re losing money if you don’t buy in the 10 minutes - even if that fancy contraption has no place at all in your life… Along the lines of the example I used in the last post about how my plain old hammer drives nails far better than the most amazing cordless circular saw on the market, great features don’t matter much when they have nothing to do with the task we need to accomplish!

When it comes to effective communication skills, there are just about as many magic pills being pitched to solve that issue as there are info-mmercials! An internet search of the term effective communication skills yields all kinds of solutions - at a cost of course… You’ll see things like “Top 10 Skills to Learn...” or “5 Hacks to Develop…” and so on. ...

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Effective Communication Skills

Effective Communication Skills is a frequently searched phrase on Google. But why? What’s the big deal? Shouldn’t this be simple to address?

I frequently reference a study done by Salesforce.com that showed “86% of the executives they surveyed cited lack of collaboration and ineffective communication as the primary reason for workplace failure.” That seems like a big deal to me! I read another study done by SIS International Research showing that “the cumulative cost of annual productivity losses due to communication issues alone were more than $26,000 per employee.”

If this were indeed something simple to address, would these numbers really be so high? At the risk of confirming any suspicion you may have about how dense I actually am, I’m going out on a limb here and suggesting that it’s extremely simple - and that’s why so many individuals and organizations struggle mightily with it!

I began learning carpentry when I was around...

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Action Speaks Louder Than Words!

When we’re truly interested in learning how to improve the recruiting process in our organization, we need to be willing to commit to taking action quickly with potential candidates. If we prove unresponsive from the very beginning, some of the best potential team members may quickly get the impression that this is what they can expect even after they join the company. When we paint a great picture of all the opportunities we can provide but don’t back it with the action to match, all our effort crafting that message can be lost.

Before we go deeper into that though, let’s circle back to something from the last post. I mentioned how smaller companies often need team members to develop quickly since each person represents a larger percentage of the total. This can have a significant impact on career growth and retention, and ties very closely with improving the recruiting process. But when the management team in a bigger organization really accepts leadership...

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