Welcome to the Leaderquest Podcast. I’m thrilled to get season two underway. This season will consist of interviews conducted for the Building With Purpose Conference I held back in May.
If you failed to register for the full course, stay tuned! I’ve got interviews coming up with each of the authors. You’ll be able to glean wisdom from them and apply it in ways to grow yourself and your business.
LeaderQuest Podcast Episode – 13
In today’s episode, I’m having a conversation with Anastasia Button, a workplace consultant with specializations in workplace culture, Millennials, and integrating healthy work systems.
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“Both mission and vision inform strategy but in different ways. Mission provides day-to-day clarity by defining the identity and scope of the business. Without a clear mission, you can easily drift off target and head into either too many directions, or the wrong direction…A proper Vision Script is…a robust document, written in the present tense, that describes your future reality as if it were today.”
This is a helpful distinction and provides clarity for where we’re headed.
Values – The moral and ethical code the leader or the business operates by. This is integrity in the personal and business sphere. A list of words (usually 5-10) that are non-negotiable.
Mission – The identity of the leader or business, defined by the practice and day-to-day operations. This is usually a sentence or two that provides strategy and action principles for the organizational culture.
Vision – The future destination of the leader or business. A full, robust manuscript that has actualized success and invites the readers into a compelling narrative of what could be as if it has already happened. This is usually much longer, much larger, and much more integrated.
Make It Compelling
Truly great leaders are able to draw people into their vision of the future. Their vision of the future is compelling, motivating, inspiring, and equipping. It guides other people into proper ways of thinking and doing.
Think of a vision board on steroids.
It’s large, comprehensive, and transformative. Vision creates the principles by which the mission is executed and the values are maintained.
A compelling vision removes any doubt about the direction we’re going and as well as irradicating the opportunity for settling or stopping short of the goal.
A vision statement covers all aspects of personhood or business to make sure that nothing is missed or left to chance.
3 Steps For Creating A Compelling Vision
1.) Take the Necessary Time
This is not a quick process. A compelling vision doesn’t happen overnight. It may not even happen in a weekend. It’s an intentional time of focus, reflection, integration, and prospecting.
Creating a compelling vision means carefully crafting words, feelings, and desires into a language that motivates, inspires, and equips.
2.) Suspend Doubt and Judgment
Too often, we are our own worst critics. We want to achieve great things but are plagued by doubt and fear.
Great leaders with a compelling vision have been able to squelch that voice.
Don’t be limited in your imagining of the future. Your current reality or availability does not determine your final destination. In the future vision, you have unlimited resources, ability, people, and technology to meet your goals.
Avoid limiting language and limiting belief. Hold space that all things are possible. Ignore the voice that tells you to play small or live in fear.
3.) Firmly Believe The Best Is Yet To Come
To craft a truly compelling and transforming vision, we must hold firmly to the belief that the best is yet to come. The products we create, the people we help, the influence we have, the legacy we leave. All of that grows and expands over time. Unleashing a force of good, we continually reach new heights, meet new expectations, and bless new people.
We must remain certain that the best is yet to come. We embrace the challenge of leaving the world a better place and know that by fulfilling the vision we are writing we will do so.
Where Are You Going?
Ultimately, the question for everyone is, “Where are you going?” For leaders, this is especially important.
No one drifts towards greatness. If we don’t pursue it intentionally, we will never reach it.
Failure to clearly articulate our desired vision of the future means we will never have it.
If we can’t firmly affix our steps to a larger purpose, we will never have one.
Will the stock market recovery? Absolutely. Eventually.
But this also reminds us of the need to invest in relationships.
One thing that pays immediate dividends and lasts forever is investing in people. Finding, developing, resourcing, and equipping future leaders around us is always worth the investment.
Growth Happens Here
When I work businesses, especially entrepreneurs or solopreneurs, this becomes an emphasis of our coaching time.
In the beginning, all work is done by the owner. As anyone who has started a business. In addition to being the owner, they were also the sales team, marketing department, human resource contact, janitor, and security guard.
The business grows, and it comes time to hire a new employee.
This can be scary. Someone who is used to doing it all can be hesitant to give something up. The fear is that the new person won’t do it as well.
Hint: That’s probably true.
But that doesn’t mean we avoid hiring. Instead, it means we get intentional about hiring. We look for people willing to be invested in.
Instead of capping growth at the original owner/banker/marketer/sales/do-it-all-yourself we find ways to offload burdensome tasks to someone else.
The owner focuses on the core activities of the business, the things that only he or she can do to help the business grow. We create a hiring profile based on those other tasks. The ones that are important, maybe even vital to the organization, but something that can be done by someone else.
In the coaching process, we work through four quadrants and have the owner visualize where the growth needs to happen.
The last step is always people investing. That’s where we see the greatest return on investment.
What does intentional investment look like? It can take many forms:
An encouraging word or letter of thanks
Professional Development seminars
Sharing hard-won battles or industry secrets
In sum, Intentional investing happens anytime we are purposeful about shortening the learning curve between where someone is at and personal mastery.
More than just the relationship, we care about the growth of the person.
Ready to invest in someone else? Here are three ways to seek out relationships for intentional investment.
3 Ways to Cultivate a Life of Intentional Investment
1.) Intentionally Create Calendar Space
Personally, I’ve stopped using the phrase, “I don’t have time.” I’ve discovered that I’m always willing to make time for things in my life that really matter. If you want to find the time, you never will. Ultimately, that’s because you don’t value it enough. Create calendar time to intentionally cultivate relationships.
2.) Find a bit of yourself in the other person.
In many ways, the coaching field is full of coaches who utilize their time to help others that are like them. I know this is true of me personally and several of my other coaching friends. We coach what we have come out of, or where we see ourselves going.
Mentoring. Connecting. Investing in others all look like this as well. Find someone who reminds you of you at a younger age and guide them towards maturity. What are the things you wish you’d know at that age? That’s the perfect place to start.
3.) Create a compounding vision of success
Albert Einstein is attributed with saying that compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe. However true this is, I believe our ability to invest in others is even more powerful. In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, people have been hoarding items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. There are even videos online of fistfights erupting over these items.
One thing we never want to hoard is information, transformation, or success. I firmly believe there is enough for everyone. In a world that says, “There’s only enough for one of us if you have it then I can’t.” I choose to fight against that.
There is enough happiness, joy, success, wealth, insight, talent, and ability for us all to succeed.
Instead of seeking out compounding interest, seek out compounding wins of success and personal investment in others. Their gratitude, your joy, and the world’s need for positivity will all thank you.
Justin’s note: During this trying time of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic I am doing my part to give back.
As a goal-focused person, one of the hardest lessons I ever had to learn was to choose people over projects.
A Changing Perspective
Several years ago, while living in Denver, I was helping to lead the church I belonged to through a transition. We were tasked with taking years of established tradition and creating something new. We had to honor the old while adapting and evolving into something new.
Honor the past.
Build the future.
As with any such endeavor, emotions were high. There were literally people still on the attendance roster that were there when the church started. With member number one still active, I literally had someone who could tell me in all seriousness, “We’ve never done it that way before.”
How do you handle the need for change without destroy what has been? How can we, as leaders, honor and celebrate the past while creating something new? Something beautiful? Something expansive?
We choose the people over the projects.
People Over Projects
I remember the moment this crystalized for me. I was sitting in the living room with my wife after I had received some negative and unfair criticism. In that situation, my natural inclination is to fight back. To wound. I wanted to hurt them the way I had been hurt.
But I also knew that I had to model something different. If those I was trying to serve were ever going to see the picture I was trying to paint, I’d have to expose them to something different.
So I mentioned to my wife, “I don’t know how to respond yet, but if I win this battle but lose the relationship, I’ve lost everything of significance.”
That sparked this idea of “People Over Projects.”
Together, we can do so much more than we can on our own. As leaders, we are called to not just lead our people, but to serve them as well.
Leading Our Teams
I have seen this idea now play out over the last seven years in a variety of fields, locations, teams, and organizations. The truth has remained. Leaders who are willing to choose the health of their employees and relationships over the bottom line numbers end up winning.
Leaders that care more about profit than people end up having neither.
Because no one will follow a leader that makes them feel dispensable. Great employees, excellent team members, world-class staff all have one thing in common: a leader that believes, inspires and equips.
Leaders that are willing to choose people over projects see amazing results in all categories.
Three Tips For Growth
Looking for ways to choose people over projects? Look no further! Here are three of my best tips to help you:
1.) Focus on people-development.
As leaders, we should always be concerned with how our people are growing.
We also need to realize that people have lives outside of work.
An owner of a business once told me that he was willing to work 24-hours a day on his business and he expected the same from his employees.
Employees usually did .. early on during the honeymoon phase. Once that time period ended, however, employees wanted their normal lives back. Family dinners were missed. Vacations postponed. Weekend naps interrupted.
Excelling leaders care about the whole-being of their people, not just the 9-5 shift they are working.
Number matter. The problem is that we tend to focus on the right numbers. Built off of the last point, look for numbers where people are growing.
Sales are a by-product of other things done right.
Do you want better sales? Provide better customer service.
Want better customer service?
Invest in your customer service employees.
When Bill feels valued, appreciated, and integral to the health of the company, he works with more clarity, more integrity, more intensity, and greater levels of satisfaction.
The customer feels that and responds.
Even though Bill isn’t in sales, he directly affects the bottom line and the sales numbers.
Like the janitor that believed in NASA’s mission when approached by JFK with the question of what he was doing responded, “I’m putting a man on the moon.”
He bought into a larger mission and saw what was at the time beyond him.
3.) Don’t be afraid to try something new.
I’ve always found it funny that leaders are criticized for discovering a new idea or reading a new book and trying to implement it. One of the criticisms I’ve often heard is, “You’re just trying this because you learned a new skill in a book.”
Of course, I am.
That’s how learning works!
Learning is about discovering new ideas and implementing what works. But how will we know what works if we don’t give something new a try?
Or maybe it’s a new concept, time-saving strategy, or brainstorming topic.
Perhaps the conference you just attended wants you to offer more flexible working hours and you’re convinced to give it a try.
Whatever it is, go for it!
Involve your people. Offer to create an experiment (scientists do this because they don’t know or can’t guarantee the final result) and tweak what didn’t work.
Whatever it is, just keep trying. Push through fear and criticism and lead boldly.
Every day we are presented with a list of objectives. As a goal-oriented person, and a success coach, much of what I do is help people reach their goals, push through obstacles, and experience success.
But we must also remember that we never choose projects over people. We need each other, go farther together, and ultimately only ever find lasting success when it can be shared.
Leaders set the standard. Recently, I read an article (excerpt below) that reminded me about the vital importance of leadership culture. This week, we’re talking about the culture challenge faced in leadership, and ways to overcome and transform poor culture.
“The culture inside the Nebraska locker room isn’t OK.
Scott Frost made that apparent during the bye week, when on his radio show he said there was a “portion” of the team not ready to play at Minnesota, where the Gophers blew out the Huskers.
He went all in and called out his team Saturday, saying his team is ‘just OK’ and that he’s not ‘going to be happy with just OK.'” (source)
As a fan of all things Nebraska, this has been a particularly painful football season. While most of the last twenty years has been a disappointment for one of college football’s most storied and proud programs, this one hurts deeply.
The expectations were different. The season was supposed to be different. The outcome was supposed to be different.
Year two of a coach’s tenure is supposed to see improvement. Year two of Scott Frost’s tenure at Nebraska, his alma mater, was supposed to be glorious.
Instead, eight games into the season, analysts are reporting how the culture is, ‘just okay.’
Just Okay Is Not Okay
When talking about culture, on the field or in a company, just okay is not okay. Fighting okay is a big part of the culture challenge faced by leaders.
Leaders set the standard of conduct. They set behavior expectations, acceptable methods of social interaction, as well as the vision and direction of an organization. When someone, or a group of someones, fails to live up to those standards, it is up to the leadership to change the culture.
There are, of course, many ways to do this. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to unpack the importance of culture in leadership. We’ll examine how to create a new culture if you’re in a startup, and how to change a bad culture.
For now, here are three principles to use no matter what your current circumstance is.
1.) Set a Clear and Compelling Vision
Like a masterpiece painting, a healthy culture is a product of vision and hard work. Longing for a great culture and actually having one are two different things.
As a leader, spend time intentionally investing in the culture and direction of your company, team, and surrounding people.
What does the workday “feel like?
How do people act?
What’s the end goal?
How does your department handle promotions? Confrontations? Missed sales goals or development targets?
If you can’t articulate your culture clearly and simply, it needs more work. Worse yet, if it doesn’t inspire others to be better, it will ultimately bring harm.
The goal is to articulate the what and why of the organization in a way that shapes, inspires, and transforms.
2.) Inspire Others to Greatness
Once the vision is clear and compelling it should inspire those that hear it. It should be a place where people outside of the organization say, “I want to work for them.“
Inside the organization, there should be tangible feelings of joy, clarity, and a desire for growth. This doesn’t mean that people necessarily want to work longer hours, but it means that they want to work harder in the hours they do work. Why? Because their work has meaning and purpose. They know that they are contributing to something greater, something beyond themselves.
The goal is to call forth the highest level of character achievement and belonging.
3.) Take Immediate Action
Violations of the culture will happen. Eventually, someone will know that a tardy might go unnoticed and regularly start showing up late. Part of a healthy culture is dealing with problems that arise quickly, fairly, and with the goal of restoration. Discipline happens to correct behavior and hold the standard high, not to deliver punishment.
Tardiness is corrected not by docking pay, but by showing them what is missed or at stake when they fail to show up on time. Poor attitude with customers doesn’t mean demotion, it means providing better training to help them deal with the stress of other people’s bad attitudes.
The goal is to restore the person to their own personal standard of morals, to the team, and to the vision and culture set in the company.
The challenge presented to Scott Frost is daunting. Not only does he have to instill his good culture, but he also has to overcome the bad culture he inherited. On top of that, he has to rewrite twenty years of poor standards.
For many of us, we face similar situations. Family histories, company profits, and personal standards all confront us on a daily basis. Some we inherit, others we create. All need to be transformed and redeemed.
Creating a compelling, inspiring, and consistent culture is not easy. But it is worth it.