Five Detrimental Leadership Habits

Successful leaders develop as a result of good habits! Take the time to “clean up” poor business behaviors and attitudes before they derail your desired career direction.

Flavor of the month. Using jargon to manage others or projects does not make you sound knowledgeable. Many times terms used out of context simply gives your employees or business associates the impression you don’t know what you are talking about. Hire a business coach to help you effectively elicit the actions and results required.

Me-ism. Self-focused commitment on the numbers in your paycheck or procurement of perks (at the expense of others) does not create loyalty or desired results within your enterprise. Leaders who thrive make commitments to the organization, employees and people they serve (aka customers), first. They talk the talk, and walk the talk, creating win-win outcomes.

White lies. Trust is a decisive factor in whether or not others will follow your lead. Lies will eventually be uncovered and can be costly to your self-esteem and business opportunities. Those who fear the consequences of telling the truth should remember “your integrity is forever.” Talk with a trusted advisor on how to navigate sensitive issues to cause rewarding outcomes.

Self-Denial. Many leaders falsely believe they know themselves well. True self-awareness and knowledge of how others see you are important in creating a good reputation.  A true leader is always growing and learning from the inside out. Being clear and communicating clearly conveys your leadership abilities. Use qualified assessments and 360-degree tools to ensure valid and reliable information to support your professional development.

False Expectations. Honor business etiquette; it determines others’ respect of you. Return phone calls and come to meetings prepared and on time – these are two examples of unwritten business expectations. Explicit promises made to an applicant or employee also needs to be followed-through. Failure to do so can be costly, such as being denied an award or contract. As a busy person, do not rely upon your memory! Write down and review with the other person(s) to ensure promises are fulfilled.

Question: What challenges have you faced as a leader, or when following a leader? What did you do to overcome the issue? Leave a comment below ….

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

Jeannette Seibly delivers “straight talk with immediate results” to business owners and executives of $1MM to $30MM enterprises, creating dynamic results. You may contact her at JLSeibly@SeibCo.com for an initial free consultation.

Be Grateful for Conflict

There are many articles written about conflict: the good, the bad and the ugly. The truth is when we fail to listen to others’ ideas and respect individual opinions, conflicts naturally occur.

Why? We have an illusion that our perceptions are the right way to think, behave or interact with one another. We are taught to speak up against someone who does not agree with us, or quietly dis them to others, negating the value of their contributions. The yeller that everyone complains about is actually no different than the silent screamer who fails to notify someone in authority of a problem.  Both cause loss of customers, low morale, poor quality of products or services and profitability. It is disrespectful toward others inside and outside the organization.

The time is now to put aside your preconceived judgments of others’ ideas and develop persuasive listening skills. Be open to hearing thoughts you would normally dismiss, learn to build upon these viewpoints and use them to create new systems, products and/or services. Often, there is a hidden gem of genius in many ideas. To determine the value, you need to develop the potential worth. Exercise facilitation skills that bring out each person’s opinions.  Listen to differing facts about the workability of internal and external factors – these can add to or hinder financial results.  In the end, whether your nugget shines, is used to create a better solution or set aside, be grateful for the “conflict” or differing mindsets that helped build a viable outcome.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2013

Jeannette Seibly is a business advisor for business owners and executives of $1MM to $30MM enterprises creating million dollar results. Contact her at JLSeibly@SeibCo.com for a free consultation on how to achieve amazing results.

When has “conflict” helped resolve a problem or open up a new product or service for your company? What did you do to facilitate it? Please share your ideas!

Is Impatience Hurting Your Results?

Envision yourself driving down the highway. You have a driving lane and a passing lane. The speed limit is 75 miles per hour. The challenge? Many drivers are only going about 60 to 69 mph in the driving lane. Those in the passing lane are zipping along between 65 and 75. The problem? You are impatient. You want to bypass the slow-pokes, zoom ahead and arrive at your destination quickly. You ignore any warning signs to slow down.

It’s a great analogy of how we run our business systems and practices. We live in a fast-paced global market. Opportunities happen quickly. While many human beings believe they have the endurance for ongoing fast-paced mobility, the reality is most professionals’ thinking styles, personalities or interests won’t support it. They burn out. Deadlines are missed. Customers or potential clients are dissed. Promises to follow-up and follow-through are marginalized.

We fail to listen to ideas from our employees, yet we rely upon them to get the work done quickly. We fire them for failure to achieve the desired results, which change due to our constantly shifting focuses — jumping from the newest fad to the next brilliant concept!

When we progress forward too fast, we become reckless. Poor planning, if any, and overlooked details negatively impact our bottom line, business relationships and reputation. Coveted results are elusive and top performers leap at the chance to work with our competitors.

Steadiness allows your team to utilize their experiences and create win-win strategic and tactical outcomes. Build on what you do well. Utilize a business advisor and executive coach to keep you focused on the right things, and doing them the right way.

Your 2013 results thank you!

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2013

Jeannette Seibly is a business advisor for business owners and executives of $1MM to $30MM enterprises creating million dollar results. Contact her at JLSeibly@SeibCo.com for a free consultation of how to achieve amazing results.

Don’t Get Bit in the Financial Butt!

Perfection is a myth, yet, many companies engage in seeking the “perfect solution” to stay competitive and improve the bottom line. A few are doing a great job by focusing on “viable solutions.” Most, however, are realizing mixed results due to reliance upon the same old practices that have long surpassed their peak. Less savvy companies are simply hanging on to their soon-to-be outdated products and services. They are afraid to make changes, despite their customers’ requests, and dismal sales.

Why have many business owners stopped listening during this critical time? They fear the change process. They don’t understand how to create a blue print for success. They falsely believe that since riding it out it worked in the past, it will work now. Sticking your head in the sand (think, ostrich) will only get your financial butt bit – hard!

Navigate change now. Waiting won’t change anything! Management needs to seek the right guidance and alter their paradigm to include change. It doesn’t need to a big, evil, costly endeavor. It’s time to hear employee and customer ideas with an open attitude. A simple twist of the wheel may gain the competitive advantage. Proper alignment, direction, and training to manage ever-changing economic factors will keep your doors open for business!

Talk Straight. Give the members of your staff the opportunity to contribute, appropriately. Brainstorming isn’t about judging ideas as right or wrong, or good or bad.  It’s simply a process to gather ideas. Often, off-the-wall ideas are winners once they are narrowed down and fine-tuned. Determine the ROI and viability of the final cuts, and during implementation and execution, train everyone to ensure consistency and positive results. Focused action is the key.

Big Picture vs. Small Details. Some people tend to get caught up in the “bright shiny object” of the bigger picture; others get lost and don’t understand how to move from “here” to the vision of “there.” Create a strategy to put everyone on the same page. Break tasks down into “bite-sized pieces.” Keep listening to and communicating with your team. When you hit the inevitable walls that crop up due to poor planning or implementation, do not reduce your expectations of intended results! Readjust your strategy as necessary, but remember: the success or failure of any idea is in the details.

Hire a Business Mentor. If management is too narrowly focused on people considerations OR on bottom line financials, it could stymie the forward movement required to achieve the expected results. A business mentor helps you blast through the stumbling blocks that change causes. A business mentor helps you make the hard decisions that may be unpopular, at least initially. S/he can also help you create business savvy solutions that balance people and numbers. Someone from outside your organization can see landmines coming up more clearly than you can, since you are so close to the situation. S/he helps you recognize and navigate around them, and enables you to move forward with speed and confidence.

(c)Jeannette L. Seibly, 2010

Costly Promotions

Companies are very focused on being cost conscious, especially in the current economic climate. Many bosses have promoted their key employees too quickly, beyond their skill level — to their level of incompetence. Bosses falsely believe they are saving time and money, but this type of reactive decision-making ends up being costly and has a detrimental impact on the company. Sadly, the once successful employee feels forced to leave the company when her/his continued contribution is short-circuited, and will rarely go quietly.

Since the person was previously treated as an asset to the company, it is often unclear as to why this sudden experience of failure is happening. Instead of having a professional conversation with her/his boss to provide solutions to this dilemma, s/he blames extraneous factors and looks for a new job, outside the company. The real issues? The newly promoted person may not have taken the time, or taken advantage of the opportunities, to develop the interpersonal skills required for the new position. Perhaps s/he has not learned how to delegate or is unable to prioritize and manage multiple issues well. S/he may simply lack the interest and ability to quickly learn the skills required for performance success (e.g., technology, financial, mechanical, sales, etc.) in this new position.

Time to get real. Newly promoted people may be unable to acclimate appropriately when business needs change rapidly. Where did the old adage, “sink or swim” come from? It didn’t work then and doesn’t work now. Unfortunately, employees feel they can not say “no” to their bosses’ requests without hurting their career. If they may agree, their naiveté can create additional issues and stresses since they do not possess the required depth and breadth of experience. It’s time to create a win-win development plan that helps the employee succeed and meets the needs of the business.  Be realistic – it takes time. Employees won’t suddenly become great managers if they have poor people skills. Employees with no interest in financial monitoring will not handle their budgets well. Top sales people will not make the best bosses. Remember, accepting mediocrity loses customers internally and externally.

Provide an outside coach. An outside coach can provide insights that the corporate mindset and culture may overlook. The employee will feel more comfortable sharing her/his challenges and fears, confidentially. They know many bosses have long memories, and don’t want the risk. Ensure there is clarity of goals to be accomplished every three months. Write them down. Put together action plans for implementation. Monitor effectiveness. Keep it simple and smart!

Keep valued employees. Although egos play an important role in a person’s ability to stay and thrive after a failure, it requires the boss’s dedicated intention to keep a valued employee! Find a position within the company where s/he can be successful. Don’t be afraid to create a new position to keep the person, but use a scientifically validated assessment tool to ensure you’re not simply creating another new issue. The cost of hiring a replacement is much greater than realigning a job description to match up employee skills with business needs. Provide focused training and development so the employee can gain the skills s/he lacked that caused the demotion in the first place. This allows the employee to experience success once again, and provides her/him with the opportunity to be promoted in the future.

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2010

More Money Does Not Equal Better Results

Too often employers are held hostage when employees demand more money to do the job they were hired to do. Since most employees are paid by the hour and not by the task, it’s difficult to know when to reward someone with additional compensation, particularly when you don’t have stated and objective performance results for each position. Unfortunately, even though everyone says “money is not a motivator,” many employees have the false perception that money will indeed motivate them!

It starts with clarity in your hiring process. Since most hiring processes are fraught with improper and antiquated methods of selecting people, it’s important that you are clear on expectations for the job. Then, hire the right person based upon needs for the job, not his or her ability to sell themselves! Remember, the wrong person in the right job will rationalize poor compensation as the reason for poor performance.

Set up clear expectations on Day One. Onboarding new employees requires the boss to provide a written outline and timetable for producing the required results, along with an accurate job description. To create a win/win for a new employee, the boss needs to stay involved, working through the new employee’s honeymoon period, and beyond. Do not make mention of additional compensation opportunities until after a six-month period. Communicate a clear expectation – in writing – of the results required for the new employee to receive any added monetary perks.

Compensate based upon results. Too often, employers compensate based upon promised results. If employees who don’t deliver these results receive the money anyway, they get a pretty clear message that achieving performance goals is not truly important. It is wise to devise a plan that is performance based. Make sure the goals are objective and attainable.

 ©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Don’t Fear The Rattlers

There is a saying, “Don’t pet the rattlesnakes.” When bosses make decisions, these are not always perceived as welcomed solutions. Some employees are very attached to the current state of the business, and are not privy to financial impact or other business issues behind some decisions. Any change can cause employees to get nervous. When you look at financial results and other objective data with the human perspective factored in, the end result may be some of your employees are upset by the required change.

Your response. When you encounter a rattlesnake, you simply back up and review your options. The same response works here. Some times it’s as simple as waiting out the rattling – by communicating the changes in a factual manner.  Other times, you may need to change your implementation approach to ensure employee buy-in.

Consistent communication is the key. When you make changes, communicate in a straightforward manner. Keep it simple and smart (K.I.S.S.). Don’t get into mind-numbing details. Pick three key points and share them appropriately and simply.

Right decisions may not be applauded. Change of any kind can create uneasiness amongst employees, regardless of economic and/or political environments. When you make the right decisions for the right reasons, simply stay the course. K.I.S.S. (see point above). Eventually, most employees will concur it was the right course of action after they experience the sure-to-come positive results.

Poor decisions may not cause rattling.  Poor decisions coupled with no reaction from employees or customers may allow you to falsely believe you’re on the right path. The truth is you may have a history of making incorrect decisions, if you base them upon little or no factual information, or unable to interpret the data in a manner that creates truly new solutions. Employees and/or customers may simply seek other employers or vendors/suppliers silently.

Solution? Talk with your business mentor(s) to ensure the design and execution of your decisions meets your business needs, now and in the future. It’s critical to incorporate the human side into your process to support the success for all of your (internal and external) customers. Encourage your employees to provide solutions in a positive way, and not in a critical “all or nothing manner.”

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Generating Ideas for Profit

Many entrepreneurs and business professionals love to think up new and innovative ideas all the time. It’s fun. It keeps the ego alive and happy.  Unfortunately, an inability to take these ideas from start to profitability often impedes progress. When the ego gets in the way, the focus of moving an idea from the conceptual into the practical drops.  Some simply don’t have the business experience and fail to create a practical plan. Others are easily distracted by the “bright shiny object” and neglect to finish executing the steps necessary to finish the project.

Delve into your ideas.  Complete a strategic plan along with a reasonable return on investment (ROI). If an idea seems to have a positive ROI, make a detailed tactical plan. Again, review your ROI to ensure you haven’t inadvertently made it unprofitable. Recognize that some ideas simply cannot be made into a profitable venture.

Keep Additional Ideas.  Write these ideas down anyway and file them for later review.  It might be worth revisiting them in the future, from a fresh perspective. You can focus most effectively on launching only one profitable project at a time. 

Beware the lure of bright shiny objects. Too often the shininess of new ideas rivets our attention and we quickly lose interest in any current project. If we haven’t developed the brain power to work through ideas carefully, the cloudiness of implementation overwhelms us before we even get started.

Create Focused Action Plans. It’s crucial that you work with a Business Coach to provide clarity and ease in developing a plan for success, and to ensure financial profitability. Remember, the success or failure of any project is in the details. Hence, the need for a detailed and Focused Action Plan. 

When you hit the proverbial wall, it is time to make a critical assessment before implementing any changes.  What is working? What is not working? Knowing the specifics will prevent making arbitrary or unnecessary changes (aka sidetracked by new ideas) that sabotage success and drain time, money and energy.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Beware of Time Mongers

As business owners, executives and professionals we are very busy people.  Many of us wish we had more time to get everything done.  The unfortunate truth is that it wouldn’t matter if we had more time –  we would simply keep creating too much to do!  Instead, make time work for you.

To use the time you do have more effectively, change your attitude:

Multi-Tasking is a Myth. Thinking or doing something in addition to listening or working on a task creates mediocre results. And, more work in the long run due to customer dissatisfaction. Stay solely focused on the task at hand and you’ll get it done faster and better. This also works wonders when listening to others. It’s amazing what we miss when we’re not focused!

Pay Now or Pay Later. We use our busy-ness as an excuse for not taking the extra minute or half-hour now (or scheduling it for the near future) to hear what someone has to say, fully! Because we are poor listeners, it takes us longer to resolve an issue or get to where we are going. Unfortunately, it often takes us hours, days, months, and even years to resolve something that we could have resolved now.

Prioritize. Many of us wish we didn’t have to handle certain projects or handle sensitive employee issues. We’re late for meetings, or fail to ask for and receive needed direction.

As a boss or leader, you need to handle the toughest parts first! Being the boss doesn’t allow you to impede productivity of others because of your own inability to handle issues. The biggest obstacle? Not being prepared. Take time to break issues into smaller pieces. If you are unable to handle people issues or conflicts, appoint someone else to handle them for you. Talk with your coach if you don’t know how to break issues into smaller do-able pieces.

20 minute rule. Tackling anything unpleasant, but necessary? Set aside 20 minutes of uninterrupted time to handle tasks or issues (hint: shut the door and turn off voicemail or email).  You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in a short period of time.

©Jeannette Seibly, 2010

Multiply Your Effectiveness

You are having a great day. Everything is going well. Projects are done on time and within budget. Disruptive conflict is non-existent. A new idea has saved the company (and client) money and time. It’s solidified your reputation as an effective boss and your employees are happy. 

Wouldn’t it be great to have more days like this one? You can when you have the right person in the right job.

1)     Hire for Success: 
Use objective and scientifically validated pre-hire assessment tools to assess accurately for job fit, including: thinking style, core behaviors and occupational motivation/interests.  (http://SmartHiringMadeEasy.wordpress.com)

2)     Coach for Results: 
Many times managers lament that they can’t get things done on time because of their employee’s unwillingness to do it correctly. Or, they are too busy firefighting urgent customer needs. Focus on results, not busy work. Clarify your expectations and the results required. Teach your employees how to cost-justify possible solutions. Provide learning moments when they make mistakes. Use tools that provide insights to more effectively communicate and manage each employee.

3)     Walk the talk:
Don’t expect employees to do things you wouldn’t do.  For example, if you’re not willing to manage your own time to attend meetings on time and be prepared, it is counter-productive to expect others to do so.  Clarify your expectations of others, and then be a great role-model.

(c)Jeannette Seibly, 2010