Build a Culture of Self-Leadership for Better Results

“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end each of us must work for our own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity.” – Madame Curie

Madame Curie was a pioneering scientist with a passion to help others, and the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize. Her research in radioactivity and invention of the portable X-ray machine literally saved thousands of lives. Madame Curie’s life story is a role model in self-leadership.

Now, imagine working for an organization whose leaders understand the power of self-leadership. Imagine building a culture based on the belief that “We cannot hope to build a better business without improving the individuals who work here.” Think of the impact this can have on revenue, profit, customer loyalty, morale and productivity.

Self-Leaders: Born or Made?

We all possess the ability to lead. Yet too often, the majority of messages people receive, starting early in life and as they grow up, suppress their leadership potential. Then, upon entering the workforce these same people are expected to ‘step-up’, ‘take charge’ and be ‘empowered’ to make decisions or take risks, even though they may lack the confidence, knowledge, skills and attitudes required to be self-leaders.

Culture and Leadership

Senior managers and business owners often fail to see the critical link between self-leadership and business results. They may seek to control employees’ actions and centralize power through top down directives or the overuse of their positions of authority. This compounds organizational problems as top performers flee the toxic environment these methods create.

Effective leaders know it is far better to develop self-leaders – at all levels. They foster a culture of self-leadership with clear guidelines that enable their employees to take action. Great leaders help each person unleash his and her potential. It takes a commitment from the top to develop a workforce of aligned self-leaders. Are you up to the task?

Questions to Consider:

  • Do we have a leadership development plan for our organization? Is the plan documented for each employee and aligned to our strategic goals?
  • Have our people internalized our vision, mission and goals? Do they understand their role in achieving them?
  • Have we created a culture where people can step up and take charge within well-defined guidelines and without fear of retribution or job loss?
  • Are we committed to continuously improving our people, and their ability to lead themselves and others?
  • How do we know we’re getting a return on investment in leadership training and development? Can we measure the impact on revenues, profits, customer loyalty, employee satisfaction, turnover, market share and other key metrics?

Build self-leaders. Build better results.

Beyond ‘time management’. Become a Time Leader.

“Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.”
Peter F. Drucker

Whenever I ask business owners and managers to describe their professional and personal challenges, time management is almost always near the top of the list; for themselves and people who work for them. Many also say “I wish I had more time in my day.”

The ‘time management’ dilemma:

Have you ever noticed that some people take on extra work, are active in their communities, and still have time for family and friends? They accomplish what they set out to do and make it look effortless while others struggle just to complete daily work tasks.

There is no shortage of books, systems and technologies promising to help. Yet, despite calendars, smart phones, meeting reminders and other tools, many people continue to run late for appointments, miss deadlines, and fail to achieve balance between their work and personal lives.

Management skill or Leadership quality?

And, when I ask participants in my leadership development programs to list the qualities of an ‘ideal’ leader, rarely do they include time management. Perhaps it is because managing time is perceived to be a skill. I believe the ability to manage time and prioritize tasks is also a quality, rooted in the values that form leaders’ attitudes and habits. People who make time work for them and focus on what’s important become time leaders.

For example, President Dwight Eisenhower, American hero and the leader who led the Allied forces to victory in World War II, understood the importance of managing time and priorities. He developed a simple technique that became known as the Eisenhower Box. Ike segmented tasks into four categories based on their importance and urgency. Like Ike, time leaders prioritize and invest their time.

Time leaders also respect others’ time and priorities. When a person in a position of authority is considerate of others’ time, they earn power, gain respect and build loyalty. Actions can be as simple as arriving five minutes early for appointments, starting and ending meetings on time, and setting realistic project deadlines.

Questions to consider:

• How do you use your time? Is time something you spend, like cash at the mall? Or do you invest your time on the things that truly matter?
• Do you plan and organize your calendar to maximize time?
• What habits have you developed to do more with the time you have? Do you prioritize work and follow a repeatable, effective process to meet deadlines?

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a time leader, contact me. I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.

Why Strategic Planning Is Important–For Every Business

Business leader working his plans“We don’t have time for planning. Our industry changes so fast, by the time we created a plan, it would be out of date.”

I’ve heard this statement—and its variations—numerous times. Most often, it’s said by business owners who find themselves running in place or firefighting daily issues instead of creating opportunities for success. They’ve failed to heed the timeless advice of Alan Lakein that “failing to plan is planning to fail.”

I teach marketing and entrepreneurship to college students and invite business leaders and entrepreneurs as guest speakers to share their stories. Some of my guests tell the students they did not have a strategic plan when they started out, but all admit that had they done so, their success would have come sooner. They could have avoided costly failures along the way.

Yes, circumstances often change a plan before the ink is dry. The secret to strategic planning is the thinking you and your team are led to do while developing it. The discussions in which you hash out where your company is headed—and where it’s not—lay the foundation for the decisions you have to make every day. Planning creates a common ground of shared understanding that allows people to stay in sync even when in the middle of storm.

That’s what makes creating a plan—working on your business—worth the time taken away from working in your business. Many issues are more easily solved when you look at what’s going on in the forest versus paying attention solely to what’s going on around your particular tree.

Some questions to think about:

  • What is your plan for achieving business success? Is it written down or in your head?
  • How aligned are the goals you’ve set for your company with your employees’ goals at every level?
  • What would it mean to you personally if everyone in your organization were able to see the ‘big picture’ and know how they directly impact business results?

Want to talk to someone about your answers? Contact me, and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.