Archive for March, 2012

Conducting business is by nature interdependent

Conducting business is by nature interdependent. It is the result of multiple interactions between multiple stakeholders every day. A stakeholder is a person or a group with a vested interest in the success of your organization and your products and services—people who can affect or are affected by the actions of your business.

Stakeholders come in many shapes and sizes. They can be found inside and outside your company. They are your employees, your customers, your vendors, your partners, your advisors, your lenders, the government, the local community, even your competitors.

Few companies have leveraged the influence of stakeholders like Starbucks, which turned a passion for coffee and taking care of stakeholders into a runaway success. Howard Schultz, the CEO who transformed the company from a small chain of coffee shops to a worldwide phenomenon, states, “If people relate to the company they work for, if they form an emotional tie to it and buy into its dreams, they will pour their hearts into making it better.”

When stakeholder relationships are strong, you have employees who work better together, customers who buy more products, strong supply chains, collaborative relationships, and seemingly infinite opportunity. Taking care of your stakeholders is good business.

This concept is embodied in a Japanese concept, Kyosei, embraced by Canon Corporation as its corporate philosophy. Kyosei is a way of living and working together harmoniously, enabling continuing growth and mutual prosperity to coexist with healthy and fair competition.

The stakeholder group that instantly comes to mind is your employees. Of all groups, they probably have the biggest stake in your business. Your employees count on you for their jobs, their income, working conditions, and their livelihood. If your business fails, employees are among the first to feel the pain.

As a business owner, you have a responsibility to all of your stakeholders, but especially to your employees. This means providing jobs, good working conditions, fair compensation, honesty in communications, access to information and tools, freedom from discrimination, and protection against unnecessary injury or illness.

Your employees are more than a group of stakeholders—they are the lifeblood of your enterprise. Spend the money it takes to hire talented individuals. Share the vision and goals of your company with them. Invest in your human capital and build teams that encourage cooperation and open communication so that they can perform to the best of their abilities.

And remember what Mary Kay Ash, pioneer of the Mary Kay Cosmetics, states, “People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.”

Just the other day i got on a conference call my community holds weekly with regard to leadership master minding and it was powerful

Just the other day I got on a conference call my community holds weekly with regard to leadership master minding and it was powerful.  It’s funny how sometimes the obvious or simple perspective that has the biggest impact potential is overlooked.  This was one of those discussions that shed in the light of a lightning bolt, flash!  There it was, simple, to the point, and delivered in a way I got…in a BIG way.  Think about this statement…A leader (you) allows others to see themselves in you.

This one statement brought together leadership and personal branding like sliding in the last puzzle piece to hours of work.  As a leader, looking to constantly improve, I now understood that the reason anyone follows another has nothing to do with a business, product, service, or opportunity…it’s the personal connection.  We have all heard it before, but it just never hit me like it did at that moment.  By just being me, what I do, how I do it, why I do it, where I do it, and with whom I do it…is what resonates with others that share these points in common.  They relate to me as I do to them.

So in the realm of leadership and building your personal brand your target should be YOU!  By stepping up and delivering the goods on what you’re about and what you are doing this group of like people will be attracted to you naturally.  These connections will lay the ground work for a team to build, a focused group effort deploys and remarkable results are brought to frusion.  Your leadership has now evolved into many leaders helping one another grow and spread the message.  Now that’s leadership on full tilt.

Today take a few minutes to look at your leadership perspective and see if your efforts can benefit from a simple leadership lesson to pass on…

Leadership is a two-way street by julie puentes last week, i had an enlightening conversation with a fellow horse person that caused me to reflect on an important dimension of leadership

Leadership is a Two-Way Street
by Julie Puentes

Last week, I had an enlightening conversation with a fellow horse person that caused me to reflect on an important dimension of leadership. She described her recent challenges with her horse who has always been a friendly, reliable, and sweet guy. But, recently his behavior had changed drastically. He was now aloof, hard to catch, fearful, and sometimes defensive. She was worried and desperately wanting him to return to his former self, so she was using various training techniques in an attempt to modify his behavior. I was struck by how her initial instinct and answer seemed to be to train and manipulate his behavior to suit her needs, rather than search for underlying reasons for his change. I realized that this is a common response when we desire a different response from people (or horses).  We complain, demand, and attempt to control the behavior of others and are often frustrated when they don’t acquiesce to our notion of how they should act. When it doesn’t work, we feel frustrated.  Frustration, after all, is just an emotional message that tells us that whatever action we are taking is not effective.

Many times, this frustration stems from the fact that we don’t realize how our own expectations and beliefs are coloring how we perceive someone else’s behavior. For example, we sometimes fail to recognize our desire for someone to act a certain way in order to make us happy, forgetting that it is not that person’s responsibility to do so. An insistence that others act differently prevents us from being curious about the message behind people’s behavior and stops us from questioning our motivations and stories that might contribute to our dissatisfaction.

So, what can we do when confronted with behavior that frustrates, confuses, angers, or saddens us? Here are three things to remember in these situations.

  1. Accept where the person is and allow them to have their emotions. This does not mean you have to agree with their behavior or reactions, but it does mean that you realize they are acting in the best way they can in the moment. Allowing the behavior of people (or horses) without immediately jumping in to judge or react negatively gives both of you the space to relax and reflect without feeling the added pressure of your judgment or demands for change.
  2. Ask yourself how you could adjust your own behavior or responses to positively influence the situation. As in the story above about the woman and her horse, we often begin by thinking of the ways we can convince or manipulate others to act the way we think they “should.”   A better place to start is by asking yourself what shift you can make in your responses that could shift the relationship and encourage dialogue, trust, or openness. For example, you can ask what negative reactions or preconceived beliefs might be preventing you from being open to what is going on for this person? Or, ask yourself, is there something about the way I am showing up that is helping to fuel the very behavior I don’t like? Am I withdrawing, lashing out, or holding judgments? Sometimes, the answer is no and sometimes it is yes.  However, what is most important is the willingness to explore these questions, which increase your awareness and at the very least, encourage you to try different approaches rather than doing and saying the same things over and over with no significant change or improvement.
  3. Be relentlessly curious. This applies to your own behavior and actions as well as others. In every situation and in every conversation, there is a tremendous amount that we simply don’t know. We can’t just assume we know what is going on from our own assessments because they are only based on the information in front of us and how we interpret it. By trusting that we don’t have all of the information we are more likely to discover information that helps us understand, have compassion, and ultimately arrive at a solution that works for both parties and improves the relationship.

What does this have to do with leadership? Everything.  Leadership is born out of the willingness of others to follow your guidance, direction, and vision.  True leadership does not occur when you attempt to “train” others to fix or change their behavior. Rather it occurs when others believe that you have their best interest at heart, you care, and can be trusted to provide a safe space for them to show up authentically. Under those conditions, others will be willing to follow you. Remember, they may not agree with your choices either, but by using the tools above, you have a better chance of successful interactions and fulfilling relationships.

Lack of motivation must be one of the most used phrases by managers

Lack of Motivation must be one of the most used phrases by managers.  It is the root cause of everything from dirty toilets to bad service. If a guard dog sleeps on duty we say that it is overfed, underfed or old. We never say it is unmotivated. The reason is simple; you will look smarter if you blame the handler instead of the dog.

Whenever the big “M” word is mentioned focus always turns to the supervisee; lethargic, inexperience, lazy, unqualified – amongst a few. But are those labels fair? So called lethargy or laziness could be attributed to stress, bad working conditions, overwork, lack of support and sometime even lack of nutrition.

On the other hand, only operators and technicians have this kind of problem. Why in the world would a manager waste his energy on them?  He can always find ten to replace one anyway, right? Not exactly; because of something called the learning curve. If your equipments are not so new and had been modified a few times, the original manual on how to run these may no longer fully apply. Usually, the only available option is a veteran worker’s memory of his experiences with the machine.

Insubordinate staff? It may mean that you don’t deserve to be a leader to this person. People generally will only show respect to those they think superior to themselves. That means that if the best employees leave you, you will only be left with those more mediocre than yourself. The best salespeople love selling, the best procurers love getting discounts from vendors, the best secretaries love managing their bosses. These are the people whose physical and mental health rides on the market trend graph. Time spent in long-winded meetings is time lost in selling or in negotiating.

There is another element of human need that people forget about. It is human relationship. No worker expects to be treated as an equal to his manager on a work level. Yet it is the right of every human being to expect to be treated as an equal to his fellow man. You do not motivate a person by punishing and demeaning him (unless you are running a quarry with prison labor – some country still practice that I believe). You motivate him by appealing to his proactive side. Say something like “You did great last time.” or “We need you to help us do this.” If you use force, you are saying that you expect him to rebel and you will end up talking to his defensive side.

If you use a demerit system and punish your workers for every mistake, you will not only train them to lie to you, you also train them to form the habit of looking at the clock from the moment they start work. Lying is a defensive system and people become defensive in an environment they perceive as dangerous.

Just stop and think. Who in their honest, right mind would want to make a mistake?

Human errors are usually due to lack of training or stress. The best solution is to find out what happened and to create a workable system to prevent it in the future. Some people will say, “since you forgot to put on the label, next time you must sign on the label and find someone to confirm that the label is correct”. This kind of solution only works if there is a long waiting period for the operator. But if boxes are rushing pass him you will end up with more unlabeled boxes. So be practical, ask him if the new solution will work. [However, there is the rare individual who insists on high risk behavior because it is part of his nature. If you employ a person of such unsafe habits you will be considered liable for any injury on other employees caused by him].

Building an equal human to human relationship is not that difficult. The supervisor must at all times remain the boss on the work level, but he need not be boss at the personal level. If you’re new in town, ask them where you can drink the best local coffee or where they take their families for fun. Allow them to be your teacher and your life will be the richer for it. This will help the scales even out between you.

Your interest must be sincere. Insincerity shows, if not at that point, then at some other point. People have a habit of remembering exactly what you say to them, especially if you are the boss. The trick is to find a topic that you care about, so you remember your opinions concerning it.

Secondly, try to talk to your people as a group, that way you will not be accused of favoritism. You don’t even have to put aside a special time, just join them for lunch or coffee break. Still if an individual says “hi”, don’t scuttle away just because the rest of the group is not there. If you can create an open environment where you can discuss about life and work, you would have created a home away from home for your people. After all, home is a work environment too; cleaning, cooking, laundering and handling teenagers.

Remember to always follow acceptable social and legal etiquettes. When your subordinates talk about a movie, don’t recommend buying a pirated VCD, because you are still the boss and you don’t want to get into trouble. Protect your character and you will earn their respect.

Still experiencing problems? Learn more about the people and their values, then compare it to your actions. Is your work-skirt too short to be respectable? Do you dig your nose in front of your people? Do you treat one person with respect but another harshly? Do you use your people’s ideas without acknowledging their input? You get the drift.

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