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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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    why

    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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    10 Key Questions for Leaders – Part 1

    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.

     

    1. google imageDisruption. What is the disruptive threat to your business model? Leaders should be constantly aware of ongoing threats to their business model and its products or services, and take action to address it. Jim Kennedy, Chairman and former CEO of Cox Enterprises provided a great example when he diversified his business away from classified ads to leverage the growing role of the internet, by successfully launching Autotrader.com. So make a list of all the products and services provided by your organization, your team, and even you, based on your skillsets. Now for each one, think about two or three ways that your product, service or skillset can be provided faster, cheaper or differently. What technological advances might make your current products or services obsolete? How might consumer preferences shift away from your current model? Believe in the possibility and probability of those ideas, then focus on how you’ll anticipate the future and address that threat. Shift your business model to where the customers are going, instead of where they are now.
    2. Purpose. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Many organizations and teams shift into automatic mode as their activities become routinized. They assume that demand will continue for their products and services, and evolve into placing more focus on what they’re doing, or how they’re doing it, instead of WHY they’re doing it. But asking the question WHY, connects you to the purpose of your activities. It’s the motivator and driving force that inspires the team to the appropriate behaviors that will support it. Once they understand your WHY, an emotional link can form as they pinpoint their contribution to accomplishing it. The underlying WHY or purpose of an individual, team or organization typically does not change, because it’s a fundamental belief and value. According to Simon Sinek, the how and what changes as necessary to continue to support the WHY. When you know your purpose or your WHY and communicate it effectively, this clarity attracts others to you who recognize a benefit from it.
    3. Failure. Where have you failed, and what insights have you learned from it? If you’ve never failed, you’ve never attempted something of impact and significance, relative to your abilities. Failure can add value when we learn something from it, and build upon it. Thomas Edison failed many times in trying to develop a light bulb. The Wright brothers failed initially before leveraging their underdog status to become the first in flight. J. C. Penney was sick and bankrupt before he built his namesake store into a retailing giant. But they learned from their failures, kept trying and eventually succeeded. The only bad failure is if you fall into shame and shut down afterwards. Instead, find a stepping stone to move forward. Failure is a requirement for growth. It’s accompanied by exploration, curiosity, pursuit, action, and flexibility. And most importantly, reflecting on and learning lessons that can be constructively shared with others.
    4. Curiosity. What are you curious about? Curiosity is a precursor to learning. Though it’s easy to be consumed with the daily challenges of leadership roles, it’s important to take time to explore insights in related areas to stimulate thought processes, and spur new ideas. Research shows that successful CEOs are curious, and this curiosity leads to growth. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook started his Year of Books online reading club to encourage discovery about different beliefs, cultures and technologies. And Richard Kinder, Chairman and CEO of Kinder Morgan reads about 50 books a year. He learns from how other leaders have confronted challenges, particularly overwhelming ones for which they had few ready answers. His curiosity in reading is linked to his interests, and fuels his passion for learning. So dig into those areas that you’re curious about, and your learning will form the basis for future growth.
    5. Service. What does my team need from me in order for them to be successful? As a leader, your responsibility is to serve your employees, enabling them in turn to provide value to customers, investors, and the community. You serve your team by creating a compelling vision, and providing the processes, tools and structure to support innovation, recognition, teamwork, and success. Service requires a continual focus on others to understand their needs, motivations, and aspirations, and to provide them with opportunities for growth. This includes a measure of humility to steer the focus from your own, to the teams’ accomplishments, and to ensure that your decisions serve them and not yourself. Service also provides a greater connection to the team as you partner together in the organization’s success. Leaders who focus on service take responsibility when things go wrong. Leaders who focus on service empower their team. Leaders who focus on service attract, retain and develop talented people.

    Continue reading

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    Lead With Your Why

    In his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, Simon Sinek describes our why as “our driving purpose, cause or belief”.  This why never changes, no matter what we do. A critical role of leaders is to define and communicate the why of their organization in a way that unites the leadership team and all employees around it. A shared why among the leadership team translates into alignment and consistency in decision making regarding the company’s products and services. It drives brand marketing; financial and legal matters; and treatment of employees, customers and shareholders. A shared why will also keep the organization focused on what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. This becomes a standard or benchmark against which all strategies are measured to ensure they deliver on the brand promise.

    Start With Your Why

    When Bill and Melinda Gates we seeking a new CEO to lead their $40 billion foundation, they led with their why when they enticed Susan Desmond-Hellmann to accept the position. At the time she was passionate about her role as chancellor of the University of California at San Francisco, thus wasn’t initially interested. But after two months of conversations, she decided to accept the role because their vision, mission and plans gave her an opportunity to be a part of a team that could change the world. The interview process between the Gates and Desmond-Hellmann cinched the deal because it brought out the shared why that motivated each of them to action.  While it was possible for the Gates to find someone capable of performing the role as CEO of the world’s second largest foundation, it was even more important to find one who shared their why, who shared their passion for improving the lives of women and girls in developing countries, and eradicating disease. And sharing that why made all the difference.


    Rapper and music producer Dr. Dre (Andre Young) champions the why for the Beats by Dre brand, and Beats Electronics, which was co-founded by he and music mogul Jimmy Iovine. They produce the high-priced Beats headphones and provide a streaming music service. Dr. Dre maintains a focus on what’s “cool” by ensuring they have the best quality sound, and overseeing marketing strategies in minute detail. He’s known as a perfectionist, a workaholic, and eschews market research in favor of his gut instinct, which has paid off handsomely for him in past music endeavors. This was reinforced when Apple recently purchased Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion.

    Steve Jobs was similarly known for avoiding market research because in his opinion, the customer doesn’t know what they want until someone shows it to them (yes, I didn’t know how much I needed my iPad until I got one). Jobs was famous for his product launches where he educated customers on the capabilities of new products and how it would help them. He spoke from the passion of his why instead of using a hard sell mode.

    Know Your Why

    The leadership of the Gates, Dr. Dre and Steve Jobs to define and communicate their company’s why attracts others who share the same why, and want to help them bring it to life. The why attracts customers to products and employees to positions. We identify with companies and brands that share beliefs similar to ours, that support causes we believe are worthy, and that provide services we feel are valuable. It takes focus for leaders to be clear about their why and to continuously steer their organizations in that direction, avoiding distractions and seemingly logical arguments to veer off track.  It requires a deep-rooted understanding of what you want to accomplish, and a personal belief in your ability to do so. It requires the ability to block out the glittering lights of other leaders’ why, that may look cool, but doesn’t match your passion and motivation.

    The driving cause or belief of your organization should evoke emotion and passion. It should be motivational. Sinek says that making money is the result, not the cause, and companies should think, act and communicate starting with their why. It engages employees and customers. So though you may think is obvious to all your stakeholders, take a moment to query those around you. If you’re not hearing consistent responses there’s an opportunity to provide clarity to your team and begin to drive that through all their decisions.  

    So know your why. Show your why. Grow your why

    Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.

    Copyright Priscilla Archangel 2014

    Read about Dr. Dre and Apple here.

    Read the interview with Melinda Gates and Susan Desmond-Hellmann in Fortune here.

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