Three P's to Strong Leadership

Today, we’re beginning a new series where we examine eight core concepts to help you grow your business. These eight core concepts come from Marcus Whitney’s book Create and Orchestrate. You can currently pick up a copy on Amazon Kindle for only $.99.

In his book, Whitney outlines eight core concepts that every business owner must track, measure, and invest in in order to grow their business.

In this series, I’m not going to rehash his points (you can read his book to know what he thinks). Instead, I want to use it as an outline as a frame for what I do with business owners and leaders in the context of coaching. I agree with much of what Marcus said and want to springboard off of that to give you some additional insights, pointers, tips, and business tricks on your entrepreneurial journey.

A software engineer by trade, Marcus outlines his eight core concepts in terms of ‘priority’ and ‘inheritance.’ Create and Orchestrate Book Cover

He says,

What’s counterintuitive about this framework is that if you get hung up on the “priority,” you’ll miss the importance of inheritance. In computer science, inheritance means that an object has all the capabilities of the object it inherits from, plus its own new capabilities. If you apply this to the Eight Core Concepts framework, it means that while marketing is the least core of the eight concepts, it is the most comprehensive. Marketing has aspects of leadership, finance, operations, growth, product, service, and sales within it. It is the only concept comprehensive of all other business concepts, and that’s why marketers are so elevated in today’s business world.*

Concepts Number One: Leadership

John Maxwell has made famous the line, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Whitney, in his book, agrees. Leadership is a necessity for any business to be successful. Without good leadership, a business is doomed.

I’ve written a lot about leadership, especially in the workplace. The higher up you are in an organization, the more good leadership is expected (and demanded) of you. In order to provide this effectively, you must be rooted in the internal and external aspects of leadership health.

The internal dynamics of coaching include your spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental health. Internally healthy individuals ask questions like, “Am I spending time improving and leading myself well?” Strong morals are a part of internally strong leaders, but so are times of rest, physical activity, mental stimulation through reading, coaching, therapy, and times of quiet mediation.

Externally healthy leaders are focused on the relational and financial dimensions of growth. Their finances are in order so they can live generously and their relationships are strong. These strong relationships are found both inside and outside of work. Well-rounded leaders have close friends, a vibrant relationship with family, and uplifting and positive interactions in the workplace.

Strong leaders also have their finances in order. To lead a business well, they must lead themselves well. To grow a strong financial portfolio at work, they must know how to manage their personal money first.

Growing leaders know that they can only lead others as well as they have first led themselves and they take their own growth seriously.

Grow Your Leadership Capacity

Here are three ways to grow as a leader.

Professionally.

Professionally, seek out good coaching. This should come as no surprise. I’m a huge advocate for coaching. Coaches provide a judgement-free zone to explore serious topics. The higher you rise in an organization, the fewer peers you have to talk to, the more you need a coach. Find a coach who either specializes in your particular niche or area of growth and commit to twelve weeks of intentional investment in yourself. You’ll be surprised how much you can grow in twelve weeks. Reassess and recommit as necessary.

Three P's to Strong Leadership

Personally.

Develop deep relationships. One consistent problem I see with success-minded individuals is that initially, success can be viewed fairly small. Most of the time, success is thought of in relation to our work. We can be tempted to think, “I’m successful because I’ve made XXX amount of money.” This fallacy leaves us in danger not only of burnout but of disconnect in our relationships. If you ever hear a phrase like, “Dad made a lot of money but was absent most of my childhood and a jerk when he was around” you’ve failed as a leader. Success happens one drop at a time, make sure that you spend time putting effort and success into many aspects of your life, including deep and significant personal relationships. 

Privately.

Just yesterday, I spent time talking with my wife about some current frustrations in my business. There are parts of my business that I know are struggling and some that need to be reevaluated. As a solopreneur, finding time to balance everything can be difficult, and I was sharing some of that frustration with her. My failure to hit some of my more significant KPI’s left me frustrated. When I asked her what I should do, she said, “Ride your motorcycle.”

It was genius advice.

For me, more stress equals more I work. That helps no one. Instead, I needed to do the opposite of what my gut told me. Private leadership development is about finding life-giving and enriching hobbies that keep us sane. When stressed, I experience less productivity, decreased creativity, poor results, and increased anger. That’s not at all the type of person I want to be. In fact, that’s the exact opposite of what I’m trying to do. Privately, find and develop hobbies. Escape your workplace. Find ways to evade work. Unplug. Recharge. Breath. The only way to keep your sanity in the midst of a difficult time is to know when to turn off your work brain and turn on your fun brain.

Make a plan: As we work through the eight core concepts, make a plan for growth. Today, pick one of the “p’s” mentioned above and write out your growth plan. How do you want to grow professionally, personally, or privately in the next twelve weeks. Find someone to hold you accountable. If you need, you can email me your plan and I’ll follow up with you personally.

Eight Core Concepts

This list is updated as the blog series continues. Click on any live link to go to that post in the series.

  1. Leadership
  2. Finance
  3. Operations
  4. Growth
  5. Product
  6. Service
  7. Sales
  8. Marketing

 


* Whitney, Marcus. Create and Orchestrate: The Path to Claiming Your Creative Power from an Unlikely Entrepreneur (p. 57). Creative Power. Kindle Edition.

Blog Post Cover: Car Robbery with overlay text "deal with it"

Recently, my wife and I were enjoying some coffee in the morning when we noticed headlights pull into our driveway. This isn’t too unusual or a call for alarm as we live three blocks from her parent’s house. They will sometimes stop by in the morning to see the kids before school.

However, three minutes after noticing the lights, they hadn’t come to the door. Then, we heard the sharp screel of an angle grinder, followed immediately by our car alarm going off. 

As I ran outside, there were three individuals attempting to steal our catalytic converter and turn it in for recycling money. I found out from the cops that it’s a popular crime, and one hard to track. Most of the time, car alarms don’t go off. We were able to escape any major injury or damage to the car as we called the cops and they sped off.

However, one phrase has been a recurring phrase for us in the house following the event is: “Deal with it.”

Deal With It.

While they didn’t get anything of value, it was a huge invasion of privacy. Worse than that, there were two individuals I could plainly see, one providing lookout in the car and the other cutting away beneath our vehicle. What I couldn’t see, was the third individual lurking around the corner who charged me when I stepped out my front door to see what was going on. Narrowly escaping, I pushed my wife and kids back inside to the safety of our home and called the cops once we were alerted to the danger.

That night, I noticed that I had a lot of anxiety. Worried they would come back and attempt to finish their theft, or worse, left me unable to sleep. The next several days were all stressful as we tried to process not just the attempted theft, but the invasion of privacy and safety as well.

As we process the event and deal with the consequences and trauma of the event, I realize how many times in life we don’t “deal with it” when problems arise.

At Work

Work situations are ripe with circumstances and experiences that haven’t been dealt with.

  • A coworker makes an inappropriate joke or demeaning remark and is never called out for it. Instead, he assumes everyone agrees with him since nothing was said.
  • A manager ridicules an employee unfairly and abusively. The “leadership style is defended because “that’s just the way he is.”
  • A brewing team conflict is allowed to simmer because of the false belief that product launch and marketing execution is more important than team health.

At Home

  • A series of pet-peeves builds mounting frustration towards a full-blown argument where harsh words are used.
  • The pressure of increased sales at work diminishes the quality of life at home, leading to personal withdrawal and isolation.
  • The busyness of life limits personal connection time and family bonding, leading to a fractured family unit and unspoken angst.

You get the point. You’ve also likely been there. Perhaps you even are there now. But high performers know that you can only be as strong as your weakest area of life. If you’re struggling to deal with any aspect of conflict, drama, or trauma, your success will falter and your breakthroughs will be limited.

Instead, based on the experience of the recent attempted robbery, here are three ways to help you process conflict in your life so you can deal with it appropriately.

1.) Give your emotions space.

The first step towards healing for Elise and I was to give our emotions space. We first had to acknowledge what we were feeling: sadness, anger, fear, frustration, anxiety, panic, and worry were quick to come out. Blog Post Cover: Car Robbery with overlay text "deal with it"

Give yourself the emotional range to deal with difficult problems and learn how to overcome them.

Strong leaders know they need to raise their emotional intelligence. Through consistent and deliberate practice, they engage their emotions and learn to master and express them appropriately.

2.) Share in deep conversation

You can’t deal with problems if you don’t talk about them. Once we acknowledged our emotions, we shared a conversation based around healing. What did it mean for us to deal with this situation effectively? How could we overcome those negative emotions and find hope? What did the other person need? How could we support them?

Elise and I intentionally set aside time to listen, reflect, and engage each other at a deep level.

3.) Create a better tomorrow.

The good news is that we are all okay. The better news is that we can work for a better tomorrow. This experience provided us with the opportunity to look at our house in a new light and discover what made it a good target. Poor outside lighting contributed to the criminals picking our house. So too, did several other factors. We were able to see those, remedy them, and create a safer environment for our family.

In life and work, we can do the same. Interpersonal conflict doesn’t have to be the norm. In fact, it shouldn’t be. In his book Thrive By Design, Don Rheem tells us that we are wired to perform better in teams. Those around us should make us better. If they aren’t, we have issues to address. By addressing them, we make the team better. When we make the team better, we get better. When you get better, you can attain peak performance. By reaching peak performance, you can skyrocket your success.

It is inevitable that conflict, disagreement, and discord will arise in life. However, we don’t have to live in it constantly. Instead, we can rise above it by giving our emotions space, engaging in deep conversation, and working towards a better future.

Podcast Cover Art

Episode 21 – My Interview with Mitch Matthews.

Welcome to the LeaderQuest Podcast. This season will consist of interviews conducted for the Building With Purpose Conference I held back in May. This is Episode 20 – My Interview with Michael Warden.

If you failed to register for the full course, stay tuned for the rest of season two! I’ve got interviews coming up with each of the contributors. You’ll be able to glean wisdom from them and apply them in ways to grow yourself and your business.

For the conference, I assembled a diverse team of business professionals to examine the stay at home order and how we can achieve maximum productivity and success while in quarantine. The conference focused on the front of a newly issued stay-at-home order. Now, four months later, it seems all the more timely as the economy is looking to reopen.

This is Episode 21 – My Interview with Mitch Matthews. Podcast Cover Art with overlay text "interview with Mitch Matthews"

More About Mitch

In this episode, I’m having a conversation with Mitch Matthews. He is a life and business coach focusing on success, performance, and chasing dreams. Having worked personally with Mitch and seeing the effects he’s had on my business, I was thrilled to have him at the conference. His wisdom, insight, and passion for life and contagious.

You can connect with him here.

Be sure to subscribe, leave a comment, and share with someone who could benefit.

What’s one takeaway you have from Episode 21 and my interview with Mitch from the Building With Purpose Conference? How will you take control of your business’s future?

Mitch’s passion for life and the empowerment of others is infectious. In the midst of COVID, many businesses are struggling. Many are questioning how to chase their dreams. Mitch is clear proof that you can do just that, with a deep sense of awe and wonder in life.

Want more leadership tips? Be sure to check out the blogor #NextSteps Coaching on YouTube.

3 Tips for Transformational Teamwork

Transformational Teamwork

As we emerge from quarantine and are reopening, our customers are facing problems. There are some new ones we can anticipate, some old ones that we can continue to meet, and there will be new ones we never see coming.

The victors will be those that adapt and overcome. Ulysses Grant, who hated the war life, once gave the philosophy that made him successful, despite his disdain for his occupation: “The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can and keep moving on.” 

For our businesses, it might read something like: “Find the problem your customers have. Create a solution as quickly as possible. Implement your answer as best as you know how. Adapt. Repeat. Overcome.”  Ulysses S. Grant

Together, Lincoln and Grant practice what I have come to call transformational teamwork. They built the vision and strategy, shared it with their team, and the tirelessly executed the plan. Transformational teams practice three key characteristics in all they do.

Clear Goals and Directions

The first requirement for transformational teams is to have clear goals and directions. Lincoln and Grant made their vision abundantly clear. For Lincoln, it was freedom for slaves and preservation of the Union. Grant implemented this through the term “unconditional surrender.” In fact, Grant would be known by this phrase so much that for a time people that U.S. Grant’s initials stood for “Unconditional Surrender.” The goal was clear: until the south abolishes slavery and lays down its arms without thought of picking them up again, the war has not been won.

We know the goals and directions we have for our businesses. As entrepreneurs, owners, or key stakeholders, we know why we get up every morning. We know what we’re chasing and the dream we are trying to accomplish. What about your employees or others around you? Can they articulate it clearly? Do they know, like Grant know how to implement the plan to achieve the goal?

Effective Communication

The second piece required for transformational teams is effective communication. It is not enough to know the goals and directions we must communicate that information with our team. During seasons of stress, conflict, or failure, communication is often the first thing to go. Legacy Leaders know how important clear, concise, and effective communication is.

Effective communicate is done regularly. It seeks two-way feedback and establishes rules and norms. Clear Communication talks about not just what and how, but also why. It honors others, builds bridges, minimizes conflict, and restores relationships.

In times of stress or setback, good communication is often the first thing to go. People resort to perspective and bias. To preconceived notions about the way the world works. To overcome this, clear communication is a must. Anytime there is poor communication, issue an apology, and own your mistake. 3 Tips for Transformational Teamwork

As tension mounts, humility and the ability to ask for forgiveness keeps the team united and focused on what really matters. Create a culture of open dialogue, feedback, humility, and reconciliation and watch your transformational team thrive.

360-Coaching

The final component of Transformative Teamwork is what I call 360-Coaching. More than normal feedback and assessment performance reviews, it is focused on real-time, growth-oriented feedback. Instead of backward reflection, instill future-focused development opportunities.

The official definition of coaching from the International Coaching Federation is this: “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

360-Coaching takes the whole person and seeks to develop them. Employers who care about both their employee’s productivity and their outside life, inspire confidence, instill loyalty, and extend grace. This is important because as much as we may pretend that our outside life doesn’t affect our work, that just isn’t the case.

Offering real-time feedback circumvents a chance for negative experiences or poor performance while opening up communication lines.

When high-performing leaders set clear goals, keep an open communication, and coach the whole person, a transformative team is born. A transformative team can conquer an obstacle and overcome any hardship.

 

This is an excerpt and adaptation of a business development seminar. To read additional excerpts, you can find part one here and part two here. To watch the presentation, go here.

Smiling employees with overlay text, "Service with a smile"

In a world increasingly divided and hostile, the best thing we can offer is service with a smile.

The Benefits of Smiling

It’s not something we think about often, but there are benefits associated with smiling. In addition to providing a warm, welcoming demeanor, smiling has other benefits, like:

  • Increased mood
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Aid digestion
  • Regulate blood sugar
  • Decrease pain
  • Stronger immune system Smiling employees with overlay text, "Service with a smile"
  • Create a positive mindset
  • And more!

But here’s the crazy thing. Smiling, scientists have discovered, is contagious. This means that when you smile (and get these benefits), others will too!

Service With A Smile

I remember a conflict I was in with one former employer. He wanted to know why I never smiled at him when he walked into the office. Convinced something was wrong between us, he began to harbor feelings of anger and resentment. It carried into other spheres of working together, and eventually, I was almost written up over it!

The sad truth? My desk faced the doors and I’d often look up, lost in thought. If they walked by, it wasn’t that I was upset, angry, or dismissive of them. I was simply thinking too hard!

But this did cause me to become more aware of my facial expressions towards others. Instead of dismissing those claims, I took them to heart. I want everything I do to be a warm, welcoming place for people to be around.

I made a conscious effort to work on smiling when engaging others. For someone used to being accused of RBF, this was no small challenge. It has been, however, entirely worth it. The effort to put more work into smiling and engaging others has proved useful for business and personal reasons.

Engaging Leadership

One of the great things that smiling does for us as leaders are that it engages others. It marks us as warm, approachable, open, affirming, and in control.

Smiling communicates that we are calm and steadfast.

Providing service with a smile is more than plastering on a fake veneer, it is training our brain, and those around us, to look for the good in all situations.

It demonstrates our ability to work under pressure.

Service with a smile provides reassuring calm in the midst of surrounding storms.

One area I’ve seen this work is in parenting. When I need to have difficult conversations with my children, I make sure to put on a smile. Not to dismiss wrong or correctable behavior, but to let them know that it is okay. Everything is going to work out fine. Sometimes, I even let them know, “I’m not bad, but I do want to talk about what happened.”

This works in the workplace as well. Really, in all areas where we feel called to lead. 

Service with a smile lets others know that we will all get through this together.

Take An Inventory

The easiest way to get started experiencing the benefits of smiling is to smile. The quickest way to get there is to take an inventory.

Where are the moments we struggle with the most? How have we responded? What would we like to do differently?

Start by planning your day, based on how you want to engage the world and what you hope to accomplish with a smile.

Then, think about the common places where you’re interacting with people and write down intentional things you will do to smile and engage them.

One area where I had to work hard (and to be honest, I’m still working at) is to smile when I produce online content. It’s not that I’m unhappy or grump. Instead, it’s that I take seriously my calling to make great content that I get so focused on that that I can forget to enjoy myself.

I’ve started to write down physical notes when I record (or speak live) to smile. It’s actually in my notes, BE SURE TO SMILE HERE.

It engages the audience and creates rapport.

Smiling communicates value.

It demonstrates appreciation.

As leaders, everything we do is monitored. To be at our best, one simple way is to smile.

Creating opportunities for service with a smile transforms our thinking, influences our actions, transforms conflict, creates opportunity, and advances the mission.

Smile on!