Not all business strategies require the same degree of change to be considered successful. Many are simply a continuation of an already established path and destination. Others identify change in some areas of the business but those changes do not represent a significant departure from the status quo. Some strategies however require transformational change. These strategies are usually required when companies are either in deep trouble or pursuing significant and new market opportunities.Read More›
Only 20%-30% of corporate and business unit strategies successfully deliver expected results. That is a bold statement. However this statistic has been reported in many studies from reputable firms and publications and mirrors much of what I have observed and experienced during my career.Read More›
Gregg Steinhafel, former Chairman and CEO of Target Corporation stepped down earlier this month. The primary reason stated was because of the continued fall-out from the 2013 massive data breach. And massive it was! In case you don’t recall, up to 110 million customer records were compromised.Read More›
There is a new definition of leadership in our lexicon. The seagull leader is someone who flies in, s**t’s over everything, and leaves. I’m constantly amazed when working inside organizations that the names and examples of such people come up constantly in the conversation. Yet rather than being weeded out, they seem to survive and thrive in an institutional ethic that values by choosing short term greed over longer-term value and culture.Read More›
“They make it easy for us to do our jobs right.”
That is what a young service advisor at my local dealership said to me when I complimented him on his service acumen. He had overhead him speaking to a new customer; he was solicitous of the customer’s needs and made no effort to “upsell” him on services he didn’t need. In fact, he didn’t sell him anything; he just advised.
This dealership, founded by Howard Cooper in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has a history of customer service. When Howard sold the store in 2012, he took a portion of the proceeds and distributed them to his employees based upon their tenure. For every year of service employees received $1,000. Even employees who had less than one year service received something in profit sharing. The new owners (Germain Honda) are building on the service tradition that Howard Cooper established.
“Sometimes you can learn best about a topic by identifying what it isn’t before you define what it is.”
This hit home with me when I was asked how you could know when an organization lacks purpose. The interviewer was Shawn Murphy, a workplace consultant and host of the popular “Work That Matters” podcast. I thought the question was brilliant because it challenged me to define purpose by first describing what it was like without purpose.
Looking to get to the top of your organization?
You’d better work on your motivation skills. According to a new worldwide survey conducted by IIC Partners of 1260 business executives the leading attribute Boards of Directors look for in an executive for a senior position is “the ability to motivate and lead others.”
While you can argue that someone content with his lot deserves stasis, too often we have seen very talented individuals get overlooked by their managers and as a result stay put. These are very often the folks that make their organizations tick over; metaphorically they make the trains run on time, but even better they put the cars in the train together so that they deliver the goods (or services) customers need.
Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?
Legend – as well as Shakespeare — has it that Henry II said something to this effect in fit of pique directed toward his one-time good friend and loyal civil servant Thomas a Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury. The King was vexed over Becket’s refusal to subjugate church authority to the state and Henry sought to limit Becket’s influence. In time, Henry’s henchmen travel to Canterbury thinking they are doing the King a favor and slay Becket in the cathedral.
I cite Henry’s behavior frequently in my coaching with senior executives as a means of cautioning them to watch their words. Its theme resonates today in the unfolding drama of Governor Chris Christie and traffic jams near the Fort Lee entrance to the George Washington Bridge. At the moment it appears as if loyal aides conjured up the traffic jam as a means of getting back at the mayor of Fort Lee who was not a supporter of the governor in his re-election bid last fall. One of whom, Bridget Anne Kelly, his deputy, has been axed.
Is it me or has Thanksgiving been overrun by our national pastime–holiday shopping? Apparently, we are too busy to spend a single day reflecting on our blessings. It should come as no surprise; gratitude went out of fashion years ago. But more accurately, as most of us became removed from the challenge and hard work of producing our bounty, our gratitude diminished and like most things that come easily, we began to take it for granted.
This change of attitude is not just a cultural problem; it’s a leadership problem too.
As leaders, we can become removed from the team’s challenge and hard work and in turn; our gratitude can wane. We get too busy to acknowledge the hard work being done on our behalf. Perhaps our leadership gratitude has gone the way of our cultural gratitude—squeezed out by other priorities.
As a Soldier, I was lucky to lead in an Army that takes gratitude seriously. As an officer, I was empowered to express gratitude on behalf of my unit and our Nation. I could give awards for service and achievement that expressed my gratitude as well as that of the chain of command. As a general, I had the sad, sacred duty of expressing the gratitude of a grateful Nation to the loved ones of our fallen.
I have lots of experience saying thanks officially and I have witnessed the power of formal gratitude; still, no token of appreciation resonated like an unexpected, sincere and personal expression of gratitude. As my responsibilities increased, I too became removed from the challenges and hard work of my Soldiers. Yet, my rank didn’t diminish my duty to understand their sacrifice or excuse me from saying thanks. I had to make getting to the right place to say thanks in a meaningful way a standing priority. I visited people, wrote notes, called meetings, planned events and used every power at my disposal just to say thank you and you should too.
Don’t let your professional gratitude go the way of Thanksgiving—squeezed out by other priorities. The privilege of your position will only insulate you from the challenges and hard work of your team, if you let it. Keep your leadership priorities straight. Make time and take time to say thank today and every day of the year.
Follow me on Twitter @brianlayer
I do quite a bit of work on matters of board composition, selection and succession, and what I can tell you is this; board diversity is simply smart business. You’ll never hear me recommend diversity solely for the sake of checking a box, but when diversity in the boardroom offers so many benefits to the CEO (and to the entire organization) it’s nothing short of irresponsible for chief executives not to place their board composition under the microscope. In today’s column I’ll share with you the top 10 reasons why diversity is good for the boardroom.
It is important for a leader to include people in his inner circle whose power does not derive solely from the leader.
That is the gist of a comment that David Gergen offered as one of the reasons President Obama has stumbled managing some of the major challenges facing his administration, namely the launch of the Affordable Care Act and the intelligence-gathering activities of the National Security Agency.
Gergen, a veteran of four White House administrations, noted that the president’s inner circle of aides, while all very capable, owed their positions to him. While that ensures a degree of loyalty, it cannot make it easy for them to raise tough questions or challenge the president.