Posts tagged leadership

Mid-Year Reflection on Leadership, Goals

We are past the half-way point. Mid year. Well into the third quarter. How are you doing? Often times we begin the year with fresh perspectives and aggressive goals and dreams for the upcoming twelve months. Now, at the year’s halfway point, you may find that your focus on goals has slipped. You’ve neglected or even forgotten some of your goals, perhaps many. Or events may have shifted in ways that require new or different goals. When this happens, instead of updating your goals, you may have simply dropped the idea of goal setting altogether.

Let’s utilize simple daily practices that will ensure your goals are kept alive throughout the year, and make it more likely you’ll achieve them. Let’s use this month to renew strategies and sharpen focus on goals for the remainder of the year.

As good leaders, it is our responsibility to keep our own goals in check and set an example for our team and colleagues. One good practice is re-visiting these goals daily. This process needn’t be long; it can be as simple a check-in where you ask yourself:

  • Is this goal still valid?
  • What has changed?
  • How do I need to change?

This daily practice ensures you never lose sight of your goals as the months roll by. The daily reminder of your strategies and practices makes the formal midyear evaluation much easier because you’re clear about where you are and where you are going.

For a lucky few, the simplicity of this daily practice — evaluating and modifying goals — will come naturally. For most of us, it does not. We need a trigger or reminder system to ensure the daily practice becomes a habit. You can do this first thing in the morning before you start your day, or in the afternoon before you leave the office so you are clear about your plans for the following day.

A quick daily check-in also accommodates for an ever-changing load of responsibilities and priorities. Your initial goal and/or plan of action set on January 1st may need to be adapted as the year progresses. Staying on top of these goals ensures they are top of mind and more likely to be achieved!

Quotes about Mom from Leaders

There’s no question that behind almost every great leader or thinker there is a great mom. With this in mind, here are a few quotes from famed leaders and thinkers about good ol’ mom!

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me.  They have clung to me all my life.”  Abraham Lincoln

“Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own.”  Aristotle

“Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.”  Oliver Wendell Holmes

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother.”  Abraham Lincoln

“No one in the world can take the place of your mother.  Right or wrong, from her viewpoint you are always right.  She may scold you for little things, but never for the big ones. “  Harry Truman

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.”  George Washington

“My mother had a slender, small body, but a large heart – a heart so large that everybody’s joys found welcome in it, and hospitable accommodation.” Mark Twain

“The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.”  Henry Ward Beecher

“There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of human society, are created, strengthened and maintained.”  Winston Churchill

“Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.” Oprah Winfrey

Happy Mother’s Day from everyone at NorthStar360!

Leadership Goes to the Movies

A night at the movies can be more than a relaxing evening complete with popcorn and M&Ms; it can be an inspiration for good role models and leaders. Enjoy our top 10 leadership moments from the big screen. And the leadership Oscar goes to …

1. “Whatever comes out of these gates, we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together we survive.”
Gladiator (2000)

2. “Men don’t follow titles, they follow courage.”

Braveheart (1995)

3. “You said we’re a team. One person struggles, we all struggle. One person triumphs, we all triumph.”

Coach Carter (2005)

4. “I’m the type of person that if you ask me a question and I don’t know the answer, I’m gonna tell you that I don’t know. But I bet you what, I know how to find the answer and I will find the answer.”

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

5. “I’m a winner. I’m going to win.”

Remember the Titans (2000)

6. “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

7. “Sometimes you have to ignore the rules, ignore the numbers, and concentrate on people.”

The Terminal (2004)

8. “Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

We Bought A Zoo (2011)

9. “Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become habits. Watch your habits for they become your character. And watch your character for it becomes your destiny.”

The Iron Lady (2011)

10. “You all think I’m licked. Well, I’m not licked. And I’m going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause.”

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington (1939)

Employee Engagement: Developing a Plan

Employee engagement (or lack there of) is a growing concern for many business owners and managers. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. employees are not fully engaged in their work and are less productive as a result, according to a recent Towers Watson survey. Owners and managers have a reason for concern.

As part two of this series exploring Employee Engagement, we are going to review the steps an organization can take to improve employee engagement in their workplace, starting with developing a plan. This initiative starts from the ground up as employees alone do not drive engagement. The entire organization, its managers and its employees comprise the level of engagement. Once you have your managers on board, its time to assess your needs and create a plan. Assessment can take many forms and involves a research methodology to gather valuable information about your organization. Many times a company will propose a survey, interviews or focus group methods. Implementing this first step the right way is essential to a successful plan. If you don’t fully understand the issues and problems, your plan will “miss the boat” per se. Having a partner like NorthStar360 or another professional can ensure your assessment is valid and unbiased.

After you have received the data from the assessment, you can begin to plan. How can you help solve some issues that are important to your employees? How you align these solutions with the organizational mission and goals? Action planning demands a multi-step, concentrated, ongoing process based on management commitment, time and accountability. No single strategy or process will be right for every company. A structured approach built with an understanding of the specific needs of the organization is essential for success. Again, having a partner with expertise and an outside perspective will be invaluable in this process.

Remember, even small changes can yield big results. Take baby steps, just keep moving forward. And stay tuned for next month’s newsletter as we delve into the next step in creating an environment for employee engagement: Crafting a Working Environment.

10 Facts About Small Businesses

Did you know?

  1. There are 28 million small businesses in the U.S. — which outnumber corporations 1162 to 1
  2. Small businesses employ 57% of the country’s private workforce
  3. Small businesses pay 44% of U.S. payroll
  4. It takes just 6 days to start a business in the US, compared to a whopping 38 days in China
  5. And it costs 6 times as much to start a business in India than in the US
  6. Only 50% of businesses survive five years — though most (70%) hit the two-year mark
  7. If a small business can’t resume operations within 10 days following a natural disaster, it probably won’t survive
  8. Small businesses create 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting companies
  9. A small business went bankrupt every 8 minutes in 2009
  10. 60 to 80% of all new jobs come from small businesses

According to Business Insider

Success Trivia … Back by Popular Demand

Back by popular demand … let’s play another round of success trivia. Can you identify these successful leaders?

1. Who wrote his first computer program at the age of thirteen?

– Bill Gates

2. What famous general finished last in his class at West Point?

– General George Custer

3. Who is the only living woman who owns her own film studio?

– Oprah Winfrey (the other two were Lucille Ball and Mary Pickford)

4. This US Senator earned every badge while in Girl Scouts.

– Hillary Clinton

5. This queen of France could not speak French at the time of her marriage to Louis XVI in 1770.

– Marie Antoinette

Saying Thanks, One Note at a Time

This time of year is full of reminders for thankfulness. Spending time with family and friends, enjoying a holiday feast, and being thankful for a meaningful job. But what about the daily grind? How many times do you say “thank you” from 9-5? When is the last time you wrote a thank you note? The notion of a hand-written note may seem old-fashioned, but it is one of the most important communication tools that can be utilized throughout your professional career. In addition to it being a common courtesy, you are conveying the value of another person’s time. However, expressing appreciation has seemingly become a lost art in day-to-day business dealings.

For many of us, our first memories of thank you note writing took place at the dining room table, thanking family and friends for a birthday gift. When did get we get out of this thoughtful habit? Let’s reconnect with the thank you note. Make a commitment to send one thank you note a day, either via email or a hand-written note. Keep note cards handy – in your portfolio, on your desk, or in your glove box. When you have a free moment (ok… a less busy moment). Pull out a notecard and say thanks. It’s simple.

  1. Dear so-and-so:
  2. Thank you very much for (insert what action you are thankful for)
  3. It made a difference to me because … or it was important to me because …
  4. Warm regards, your name

You’ll be surprised at the response you’ll receive. In business, we rarely take the time to say “thanks” so when you do, it will stand out. Your thank you note may prompt a new client, acknowledge a thoughtful gift and strengthen a relationship. It will definitely make the recipient feel valued and important.

Success Trivia: Did you Know?

Some of the most successful leaders in history we not always … well, successful. Napoleon Hill said it best, “Edison failed 10,000 times before he made the electric light. Do not be discouraged if you fail a few times.”

1. Who was sent home from the 3rd grade because he was too slow to learn, and who later struggled through thousands of experiments before being awarded over one thousand patents for his inventions?—Thomas Alva Edison

2. Who flunked the first grade and went on to become attorney general?—Robert F. Kennedy

3. Who didn’t learn to talk until he was four years old but ultimately changed how we view the laws of time and space?—Albert Einstein

4. Who was told at an early age that he had no talent for music but whose name is synonymous with musical masterpieces?–Ludwig Van Beethoven

5. Who was told by a prominent Hollywood producer that he would not make in films because his Adams apple was too big?—Clint Eastwood

6. Who was told by a newspaper owner to pursue another line of work because he didn’t have any creative or original ideas?—Walt Disney

“I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.” – Benjamin Franklin

Change: How to Effectively Manage It?

Change can be scary. There’s no doubt about it. And, as leaders, it’s our duty to help our organizations navigate change seamlessly. Sometimes this voyage may seem like a trip down The Nile. Change can evoke anxiety, stress and fear for our employees.  Fortunately, it is possible to reduce employee stress (and the turnover that comes along with it) with effective change management.  Being an effective leader means managing change by understanding what factors influence behavior, how to address employee concerns and manage resistance. Addressing employee concerns can help reduce turnover and encourage engagement. The Society for Resource Management currently estimates that replacing an IT employee costs $80,000.  They also previously estimated that it costs $3,500 to replace each employee earning $8.00 an hour; another incentive to better manage change at our organizations. So, what can we do? Where do we start?

As leaders the area that can seem most intimidating is receiving resistance to change from staff. The best leaders learn resilience by focusing on areas they are able to control.  Even in the midst of change, people are able to control emotional responses, influence the change and take care of themselves. People practice resilience when they:

•  Assess the situation at hand

•  Consider solutions and actions

•  Select the best choice

•  Take action

•  Learn what does and does not work

•  Modify actions or behaviors to achieve results

Any leaders who feel that they react out of resistance, rather than acting with resilience, can benefit from creating a personal action plan.  By enhancing their change management skills, leaders will be equipped to address problems and manage resistant employees.

Observe reactions to change.  Leaders need to link organizational goals to their employees’ drives, needs and wants. This starts with observation.   Observing and assessing personal and employee responses to change, provides leaders with the opportunities to address problems and find appropriate solutions, once assessments are made, problems must be addressed at the process and behavioral levels.

Clear and constant communication is essential to managing resistance at the process level.  Various studies confirm that most failed changes are directly related to poor management and communication.  Successful leaders understand that effective communication reduces resistance and motivates change.  Articulate a clear vision of the future:  Engage employees by explaining how change is necessary for long-term company success.

Identify goals for change and explain why the change must happen:  Outline how change will help achieve specific goals. Communicate clearly about issues and respect dissenting opinions:  Allow employees to voice their opinions, even if they are negative.  They will be more open to change if they feel their opinions are heard.

Companies that invest in change management programs, (such as the Change Management workshop offered by NorthStar360) are statistically more successful than companies that do not. When all is said and done, effective change requires effective change management.  Smoothly implemented organizational change reduces employee stress which saves money by reducing turnover and increasing productivity.  Managing change effectively takes work, but the long-term fiscal and emotional payoff is worth it.

Increasing Emotional Intelligence Just Makes ‘Cents’

Daniel Goleman first brought Emotional Intelligence from the academic ivory tower into the world of business with his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. In a more recent book, he draws on over two hundred studies, done in various countries, and finds that emotional competence accounts for two-thirds to four-fifths of the difference between top performers and average employees. Screening prospective employees for certain positions makes good common sense. Sales people need to be optimistic. They must be able to delay gratification, control their emotions and have empathy with others. For example, when L’Oreal used emotional intelligence as a selection criterion for hiring sales representatives, they found that emotionally intelligent people outsold their colleagues by $91,370  a year, on the average. Emotional Intelligence is important in building teams and networks within a firm. It is vital for leaders at all levels, including executives. Retail store managers who were best able to manage stress had higher net profits and more sales per square foot, per employee and per inventory dollar.

A large beverage company screened executives for Emotional Intelligence. Before it began screening, half its executives left within two years, usually because they did not perform well. Executives selected for Emotional Intelligence stayed longer, earned higher performance bonuses and outperformed targets set for them by 15% to 20%.

Clearly, a business can improve its bottom line by screening appropriately for Emotional Intelligence. But that is only a fraction of what businesses need. When Emotional Intelligence makes such a difference, can an organization afford to stop with screening alone? Can businesses increase profits by offering training to increase the emotional competence of existing staff? Emotional competencies can be learned. With a good training program in Emotional Intelligence, an organization can maximize the potential of the employees it already has, from the top to the bottom of the organizational chart.

Like any type of intelligence, Emotional Intelligence includes both an inherent and a learned component. Pupils learn at school the skills they need to score well on traditional IQ tests. Training programs, such as our session Emotional Intelligence: The Pathway of Personal Success, teach adults the skills needed to become more emotionally competent. With the right training in emotional intelligence, businesses gain more emotionally competent staff members who function more efficiently, cooperate more productively and remain with the company longer.

A good training program in Emotional Intelligence includes work on integrity, awareness, responsibility, self-mastery, clarity, definition, action and self-valuing. Integrity is the ability to act on principle rather than on emotion. It includes the ability to delay gratification and to harness emotion in service of the principles that infuse our lives. Our principles determine how we perceive events and people; how we judge success or failure; whether we are optimistic and cheerful or pessimistic and joyless. At work and in life, we face key moments that are challenging, distressing, even painful. Good training in Emotional Intelligence helps your staff understand that the reality of the key moment cannot change, but that the interior response to it is a personal choice. They can focus on the task at hand, and make the choices that are most productive without wasting time blaming, resenting or complaining. Training can help your staff members take responsibility for their choices. They will know their life goals and have a clear vision of the path they will follow, making them more productive and capable of advancing. As your employees become aware of their own emotions and learn to control them in service of their life goals, your workplace will become not only more pleasant, but more productive. You will be able to promote from within more often, cutting training costs.

“Your teams will function more efficiently and productively when leaders choose to listen with empathy and team players take responsibility for their choices,” explains Susan Riddering, vice president of NorthStar360. “Training in Emotional Intelligence increases managerial skills, team building and employee competence at all levels – and that inevitably improves the bottom line.”