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John Maxwell Team

John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    Priorities

    What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

    away-1019745_640As a leader, the “buck” for certain decisions stops with you. You’re responsible for outcomes impacting your team, your organization, your career, your family and friends. Sometimes the choice is clear, but frequently, it’s not. Ambiguities are the norm, and while there is pressure to make fast decisions, you know that it’s more important to make timely decisions. Meanwhile, stakeholders press you because they have their own motivations and need to know how your decision impacts them.

    Good decision-making isn’t based on the quantity of information you’re able to review, but on the quality of information you’re able to comprehend and process to the right conclusion. Good decision-making brings together intuition and systems understanding of the many networks impacted by the choices you make. It incorporates intellectual agility to draw conclusions from a broad array of facts and data to reach desired outcomes, with the political savvy to navigate varied perspectives and power dynamics. Thus, decision-making is not only a science but an art.

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    Who Owns You?

    CEOs and individuals in business leadership roles are frequently confronted with the dichotomy of making decisions to ensure the long term health of their companies, while maximizing short term profits. Their management roles compel them to lead the organization as if they are owners, but in reality, these organizations are owned by and at the mercy of investors and customers who determine the value of their products and services.

    Business women fighting over the boss attention

    In a recent survey conducted by Fortune Magazine, 77% of CEOs said it would be easier to manage their companies if they were private¹. This feedback comes in a climate of increasing numbers of activist investors who purchase a significant amount of company stock, then proceed to make recommendations to the board and company leadership on how they should run it to increase value. To be fair, all such suggestions are not bad, and some have led to considerably positive results in the bottom line of these companies. But these CEO owners may find that their company’s mission and purpose are no longer aligned with where others want them to go.

    Customers also have a powerful voice in shaping corporate strategies and decisions. Pepsi worked hard over several years to reformulate its diet cola to remove aspartame, thereby meeting the needs of people who wanted to move away from artificial sweeteners. However, many other diehard Diet Pepsi drinkers didn’t like the taste with the sucralose replacement, and complained loudly. So Pepsi recently announced that the old aspartame formula would return to the market, and they will sell both versions to meet the needs of all those customers. Oh, and did I mention that their sales volume slumped more than 10% during one of the quarters that the aspartame formula was off the market?
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    Discovering Your Leadership Purpose

    We frequently talk about purpose in the context of individuals or organizations, but there are other areas where identification and understanding of purpose is critical. One such instance is in the context of leadership, and Isadore Sharp, founder and Chairman of the iconic Four Seasons Hotel brand provides a great example.

    Sharp finished college with an architecture degree and joined his father’s construction business in the Toronto area. After building several motor hotels, he recognized that his passion lay not in constructing and owning hotel buildings, but in providing a premier guest experience and level of customer service.  He wanted to “welcome customers and treat them like guests coming into our home.” 1  So Sharp shifted from being a hotel owner-operator into managing hotel properties. His priority is a commitment to the Golden Rule, where employees and guests alike are treated with respect. Along the way he had to examine the behavior of his senior leadership team and part company with those who couldn’t lead by example. As a result, with 96 properties in 41 countries and annual revenues in excess of $4B, both customer and employee retention is high, and they’ve been on the list of 100 Best Places to Work for 18 consecutive years.

    Young determined businessman with big hammer in hands standing on ruins

    IStock Photo

    Sharp understands that his leadership purpose was to provide a premier level of hospitality and service. And over time, he recognized the importance of building the right team around him, whose perfomance aligned with that purpose. He fulfills his purpose based on leadership strengths of treating guests with respect and sincerity, and providing the right location and environment for a first class stay. He consistently embeds it into every aspect of his organization’s processes, rewards and behaviors; and believes that a true leader influences not from a position of power, but from a position of respect.2  His leadership purpose and strengths, then work together to accomplish his leadership goal of generating a reasonable profit that benefits the company, hotel owners, customers and employees.

    Leadership purpose forms the “why” of your leadership. Are you seeking a leadership role simply because of the power, position, people or profits? Or are you leading because of the purpose, mission and vision that you are pursuing, no matter the size of the role? Leadership strengths are the capabilities and critical success factors necessary to operate in your purpose. And leadership goals are the results you accomplish in your work. Continue reading

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    Invest in Yourself: A New Year’s Commitment

    Many years ago there was a leader and queen of the country of Sheba. As the ruler, she had many people and resources under her command. But rather than simply take pleasure in her obvious wealth, she pondered how to better lead her people, and how to handle the challenges of her country. Someone told her about another leader named Solomon who was the king of Israel. Solomon was known to be very wise and might be able to help her figure out how to manage some of the problems she was dealing with.

    She must have been very concerned, frustrated, maybe even desperate to find a better approach to her leadership issues, because she planned a major trip to visit him and talk about it. Sheba gathered the currency of her country (many camels carrying spices, gold and precious stones), and along with numerous servants, traveled to meet with Solomon.

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    When she arrived and sat down to talk with him, the understanding she gained was overwhelming. The advance reports of his wisdom didn’t even come close to matching her actual experience. Solomon not only understood her issues, he answered every question she had. His perspective and wisdom were so very great that he became a valuable consulting resource for her. She observed his leadership style and capabilities, the engagement of his employees, his organizational culture, and the mission and focus of his team. Solomon’s perceptiveness was so helpful to her in leading her country more effectively that she gave him an abundance of the expensive gifts that she had brought.

    While it’s difficult to measure her gifts in the context of her overall wealth, we do know that it was the best of her country’s resources, because no one else ever gave him such costly spices in so great a volume as she did. And in return, Solomon gave her all that she asked for.

    Here was a leader, someone already accomplished enough to lead a large organization, but who recognized the need and opportunity to learn more. She knew that she had to continually improve her competencies to more effectively build relationships to influence her team, and accomplish her organization’s goals and objectives. She yearned to talk with someone else who understood leadership challenges and would support her in her initiatives. The queen’s perspective on the resources she devoted to this was not about cost, but about making an investment in her own growth, that would pay off in many ways in the long run. Continue reading

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    10 Key Questions for Leaders – Part 2

    Leaders are faced with a myriad of issues each day, but one of their most critical responsibilities is to step back from the urgent and focus on the important. They must achieve a balance between the reactionary crisis mode and the proactive planning mode. This means pausing and reflecting on how they’re influencing behaviors to ensure the right outcomes. To accomplish that, there are 10 key important questions that, properly addressed, will strengthen both their leadership and their organizational effectiveness.

    10 Key Questions - Pt 1XI posted the first 5 questions in Part 1 several weeks ago on this blog. Here are the last 5 questions.

     

    1. Engagement. How do you engage your team in what you’re trying to accomplish? Engagement is based on an emotional connection that energizes those involved to work toward a common goal. Competitive rowing teams, known as “sculling in crew” require all rowers to move in exact cadence with the leader for an efficient stroke. The leader is responsible for steering the boat, encouraging the crew and monitoring the rate of progress. Everyone knows their role and knows who to follow, and engagement is an important key to winning. Contrast this with a scenario where everyone is rowing at their own pace. They’re working at it, and they’ll make progress, but not nearly as fast because their behaviors aren’t aligned. Similarly, as the leader you must ensure that your team clearly understands the goal and that their efforts are coordinated, collaborative, and complimentary. This means making sure they buy into why the goal is important, and contribute their ideas on how to best accomplish it.
    2. Innovation. Are you creating an environment that encourages new thinking? Innovation involves taking existing ideas, processes or products and combining them in new and different ways to meet customer or market needs. For example, electric vehicles are innovative. Some companies have innovation labs, or innovation hours (i.e. hackathons), but this approach ultimately needs to be embedded in the culture of the organization. New ideas must be nurtured and encouraged. Carl Winans, Co-Founder of Mega Tiny Corporation asked a good question at a conference I attended recently. “Are you creating or merely consuming?” In other words, do you just take in information and knowledge and use it, or do you integrate it to provide new and different output that is beneficial to others? Leaders’ interactions with employees should incorporate discussions on innovative topics, soliciting ideas, encouraging them to investigate the potential for success, and when appropriate, giving them a leadership role in operationalizing their ideas. This rewards innovation and reinforces the skills requisite for success.
    3. Power. Do people follow you because of your power and position, or because you empower them? If you were no longer CEO, VP, or holding your current leadership position, who among your team would still want to follow you? John Maxwell’s book The 5 Levels of Leadership explains that at level 1, people follow you because they have to. But as you move to level 5, people follow you because of who you are and what you represent. You only have power over others to the extent that they grant it to you, whether through an employment relationship, or because you meet a financial, emotional, social, psychological or physical need. Once you cease to fulfill that need, or they find someone else to fulfill it, you become effectively powerless. On the other hand, as a leader you can empower others, or give power to them, by providing them with responsibility, enabling them to do something, or equipping them to accomplish a challenge. Giving power to others generates a virtuous cycle of enabling, growth, commitment and engagement.
    4. Performance. What is the correlation between your effort and your outcomes? This is a sensitive issue, because all leaders like to believe that they’re exceeding the expectations of the individuals or groups to whom they’re accountable (and we’re all accountable to someone). But there are enough situations where no matter how intellectually capable or strategic the leader, their best efforts don’t move the needle forward as much as is needed or expected. Is their skillset incomplete? Is the internal business challenge too great? Are there insurmountable external economic or market forces that can’t be overcome? Marissa Mayer joined Yahoo in 2012 amid great fanfare about how she could turn the struggling company around. Three years later, the company has had to scrap its plans to spin off its extremely valuable stake in Alibaba Group Holding, and the market is currently valuing Yahoo’s core business at less than its cash on hand. While Mayer has upgraded content and worked to boost mobile revenues, some are publicly wondering how much longer the 6th CEO in 8 years will last. Opinions vary on how to return Yahoo to success, but the performance question is one that every leader grapples with at some point. And if the effort is not producing the right outcomes, it may be time to find a new opportunity where the leader’s contributions will align with strong results.
    5. Change Leadership. Are you leading your organization to be nimble, flexible and open to change? Change doesn’t happen unless the leader makes it a priority. Nikesh Arora, formerly responsible for all of Google’s revenue ($29B), and currently CEO-in-waiting at SoftBank Group of Japan, demonstrated this when he was first hired to run Google’s European operations in 2004. He doubled his initial 5-year revenue projection for the region, and created the analytical tools that were eventually implemented to track the financial condition of the global business. He’s known not to suffer fools, but his enemies respect him. Instead of changing his leadership style to fit into the company, Arora shrewdly changed the leadership perspective to mirror his own. He tells entrepreneurs “Anytime you can predict your trajectory, you should change it.” Change leaders don’t wait for external forces to drive internal business strategies. They anticipate the market, technologies, economy and customer needs; develop a flexible framework and goals for the future; then ensure that the right processes, strategies, technologies, and tools are in place to get there. Change leaders hold their organization accountable for results.

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