Archives For Lead Creatively

Success_KeyBecoming a great leader is more than just a title – it is hard work.  It requires unprecedented levels of innovation and a commitment to the organization and its constituents, as well as the ability to continually inspire and motivate others to succeed. One key way to achieve ongoing innovation and sustainable results is through the creation of an execution culture.

You, as a leader, have an opportunity to accelerate progress in your organization through the deployment of Rapid Result Initiatives (RRI’s), which can be used to:

  • Increase current performance
  • Strengthen collaboration
  • Facilitate innovation
  • Demonstrate success in the process of executing your long term vision and mission

RRI’s are small, high-leverage, short-term projects that generate immediate impact and measurable results, while tapping into hidden capacity and building momentum to drive large-scale change – usually in 100 days or less.

Exceptional leaders understand they must calculate their steps and fully understand what they have and how to use it most effectively to continually move forward. One very beneficial way to do this is to structure your organization as a portfolio of RRI’s leading to the achievement of ultimate vision. This approach creates the opportunity to pursue strategically critical goals that deliver real impact, while  linking directly to the long term plans and objectives of the organization. Each RRI becomes a vehicle for achievement, learning, and the advancement of long term goals.

The core of Rapid Results Initiatives involves working with your teams to set and achieve small, but aggressive, goals in one or more key areas of performance. From this perspective, they are compelled to tap into hidden reserves of capacity and energy to get the job done, taking action and testing assumptions to determine how to best achieve the desired objective on a compressed timeline. Through a succession of fast-paced, results focused initiatives, you can make remarkable gains toward major goals and objectives.

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Re:Create…Yourself

April 11, 2011 — 7 Comments

Last week I was at a conference that happened to be on a Caribbean cruise  – what a great experience!  The main purpose of the cruise was to re:create – to realize the creativity each of us has within. There was time built in to actually enjoy the cruise, but more importantly to ponder our own creativity and discover how to continuously re:create ourselves.  There were several very wise speakers – Mike Hyatt, Randy Elrod, Ken Davis, and Pete Wilson – each with their individual area of expertise and focus. They each caused me to stop and think in very different ways, and I really appreciated the opportunity to be reminded that, as a leader, I am creative and need to  continuously broaden my thinking in different ways.

Often people think, as leaders, that we are not creative.  Fortunately, that is a myth. Creativity is problem solving: just as a painter sees a beautiful scene and recognizes it needs to be painted so others can enjoy it, a leader sees unmet needs and brings resolution to those challenges in creative ways. If we were not creative we would not have the capacity to lead effectively – constantly providing guidance and direction to others that may have little in common with us, deriving new policies and processes that will evolve our domain, or creating new business models that will evolutionize our organizations or industries in unforseen ways. You may not paint, take incredible photographs, write songs or beautiful prose – however, if you are out there making a difference in peoples lives and trying to change your world, chances are… (yes, I will say it!) you are creative.  If you are not doing these things, perhaps you should consider the opportunity you have missed – and re:create!

How do you constantly Re:create to impact your world?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you are creative in your leadership role. Feel free to contact me at  Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.comor by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back soon for the next post on Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders.

This post is about you – as an organizational leader. Lifelong learning is a critical component of our personal and professional growth that we often seem to forget as we rise through the ranks. Unfortunately, as most of us become more senior within the organization, there is an undeniable challenge we face – facilitating our own ongoing growth and development. It becomes more and more difficult to identify growth opportunities, training, relevant readings, etc. and to deny the pull to remain stagnant – focusing on what we already know vs. the potential we have to know more. Perhaps most importantly, there is often a stealth sense of false complacency that emerges as a result of past success. However, the reality is that with the frequency and scale of change in global organizations, the leader that is not continually growing and changing with the environment may very well find that  s/he has been left behind at the last jumping off point.

Ultimately, you are responsible for your own personal development…and reaching your potential.  Many leaders let the business take priority over reaching their potential, or wait for the company to assume ownership of their development. Is this really what is most beneficial for you, and by default, the organizaion?  As leaders, it is easy to forget that it is far more effective to stretch ourselves, and thereby our organizations, than it is to settle for the status quo.  But how do you continually push yourself to think harder and go further? You can employ any number of self-help philosophies, but the reality is that you will probably not follow through – and if you do, they will typically not generate the results you hoped they would.

Finding and engaging a good mentor may be a critical success factor you are missing. Mentoring is a process about enabling and supporting your personal and professional growth. Organizational life can sometimes feel like climbing up the side of a mountain – as we struggle up the steep parts we are breathless, challenged, single-minded, and in need of support and sustenance. There may even be some moves we can not make without being tied to a partner. Mentoring can help with your changes in altitude, and enable you to get to higher ground – where you just may be able to see things from a different perspective. You will be able to see the mountains in the distance and new ways forward that were just not visible from your position below. Your mentor should facilitate a process that leads you to consider different perspectives, new ways of thinking, and deeper self-knowledge.

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Potential: What Is It?

January 21, 2011 — Leave a comment

 

From a very young age, we all want to be considered as having potential, however potential is often an overused and ambiguous word. Potential… for what? It doesn’t mean a lot by itself, so what do we mean by potential? What is it? What does it look like?  How do we define it and make it more measurable and tangible? What is potential, really? Is it a possibility…a proposed capability for becoming something more? But what?  How does a leader reach their potential if it cannot clearly be defined? Can we ever really grasp our potential? If we do and we reach it… what then?

In some ways potential is a limiting descriptor because there is really no way of knowing if we have reached our potential. Most of us know of The Peter Principle… does our potential equate only to rising to our own level of incompetence? Personally, I hope not!

Potential is a complex concept and there is little agreement about what it actually means, so we need to start by breaking it down into some key components that are generally expected of people considered to have potential:

  • Performance: the consistent capability to exceed expectations in regards to the accomplishment of specific tasks measured against preset standards of accuracy, completeness, cost, and speed.
  • Emotional Intelligence: the ability, capacity, or skill to identify, assess, and control the emotions of self, others, and groups.
  • Motivation/ Ambition: the inspiration or driving force to succeed.
  • Agility: the cognitive bandwidth to learn from past experiences, seeing things in a broader context and quickly applying observations to new situations – applying life experience, noticing patterns, and deriving general guidelines that can be applied to new situations.

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As a leader in Sales, you are well aware that the waters are rough, indeed.  In the past, the goal has been very straight forward – make sure your teams are capturing customers and making their numbers. Good relationships and ongoing offers of discounted pricing – on products and services – kept sales flowing and ensured the all important numbers were on target.  Unfortunately, those days of smooth sailing are gone.  Adjusting to the new reality means acknowledging that things have changed – customers have disappeared or have greatly reduced purchasing power and costs do matter – even in Sales.

Here’s a life boat with some less well-known tips  that may help Sales to survive, when others around you may be sinking fast:

  • Critically evaluate structure, purpose, objectives, and KPI’s:   In many cases, all of these components may need to change. Perhaps it is wise to reorganize – combining functions, regions, or customer segments? The initial changes may be dispiriting, but if you can make them all at once and they are focused on those who do not display the attitude or aptitude required in the “new” organization, Sales will become stronger as a result of the changes. The goal is not only to reduce costs, but also to get everyone focused on what they need to do for the customer and against the competition. Make sure you understand what the new purpose, objectives, and  KPI’s encompass at each revised level, and that the necessary training is provided to ensure buy-in and commitment to the new organization.
  • Create an intelligent network:  Build information networks that span the clients organization, continually assessing customer pain points and providing solutions before they even realize they are challenged. As a leader in Sales, ensure you are transitioning your sales people into  the eyes and ears of the organization – a network that provides ground-level intelligence that can be used to fuel fundamental decisions regarding overall corporate strategy and tactics. This new, evolved sales person will need to have the capacity to analyze each client to determine current and future profitability. They need to be able to tell you how decisions are made at the client site, what the dominant psychology is, and how that psychology is manifested as it pertains to  client decision-making, forecasts, purchasing, promotions, and product lifecycles. They all affect your ability to sell… and collect.
  • Know what your customers cost: Have a detailed understanding as to how each client affects each piece of the value chain. A good customer on the surface may cause you to incur hidden costs if they demand frequent changes, customized processes, or unusual services/materials. These types demands may put undue pressures or costs onto  production or purchasing departments…or they may tie up too much cash by requiring unique materials or components. An important customer that pays late can also become a liability when the seas are rough and the company is managing for cash. When a client’s ability to pay or credit rating drops, you don’t want to be the last one standing on deck when the Tsunami hits…
  • Know which customers to drop:   Sales people need to be able to help the company answer some critical questions – Is a customer viable? What strains are they under? Are they highly leveraged?  What does their cash flow look like?  What is the real cost of doing business with the client? Obviously the decision to drop a client needs to be made in conjunction with the executive team, however you need to have done your homework in order to make a sound recommendation. If the business case points to the client as a significant risk and they must be dropped, ensure your sales people partner with the client to ensure a smooth transition to a new supplier. Remember, if the client has a positive experience there will be a mutual respect and the potential of working together in the future will remain intact… should the opportunity arise.
  • Link Sales to R&D: Assign your most  aggressive and business-savvy people to a dual role – sales and business development. Creating cost-effective  solutions to client challenges often emerge from  discussions amongst people with different knowledge bases.
  • Tie sales people to CXO’s: The best intelligence is useless unless it is put into the right hands. Set up methods to ensure what is learned in the field  gets to the senior team. Set up weekly conference calls between your best sales people and critical decision makers… or initiate a program where the executive team will call a few of your sales people each week.  Top executives will have the opportunity to pick up ideas or nuances  from your sales people that they would not get from a formal meeting or a report – it will allow them to discern customer patterns, while motivating those participating on the calls to become more curious and vigilant.

In turbulent times, the context of Sales changes drastically. With orders dissipating and numbers falling out of control, the wise leader ensures sales is a critical component to the solution, rather than part of the problem. With the right focus and planning, your organization can steer the lifeboat out of rough seas and become better, faster and stronger in the process.

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you keep sales afloat in rough seas. Please feel free to contact me at  Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.comor by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next week for the next post on Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders.

 

In today’s challenging economic environment, business and leadership have never been more complex.  As global leaders, we are the Commanders of our troops and have a responsibility to ensure we are consistently pushing forward to ensure victory. While the obvious route is to cut costs, manage cash efficiently and hold down the fort until reinforcements arrive, it is merely defensive maneuvering.  It is absolutely essential that we, as leaders, recognize that we cannot win without going on the offensive to courageously engage innovation as a competitive weapon that will ensure we are victorious in the war for competitive advantage.  As Commanders, if we do not explicitly engage three key battlefields to ensure victory in the overall war, we are putting the overall mission at “Risk”:

1) Manage the present

There are fundamental stressors between managing the present versus selectively forgetting the past and creating the future. Many leaders, by default, are fully engaged in brutally fighting today’s battles, with little focus on winning the war. After all, if today’s challenges are not met the business will fail – this battlefield is a critical element of a successful wartime strategy. However, if leaders want to conquer the competition and secure new territory, they must also strategically engage the war.

2) Selectively forget the past

While we do not want to forget valuable lessons from the past and leverage what works, as Commanders we are also required to (often counter-intuitively) engage in creative destruction and constant re-innovation in order to prepare for the battles of the future. If leaders are not open to purposefully and strategically annihilating existing products and services in the interest of renewal and growth, enemy forces will ruthlessly destroy our armies and take back previously secured territory. Commanders that believe that what they have always done works, and do not actively engage in preparing for the next great battle, are doomed to defeat – just look at numerous examples throughout military history around the world. Every leader must realize a fundamental truth: What got you here will not get you there… Live by it!

3) Create the future

There is always an opportunity gap between what makes a company successful today and what is required on tomorrow’s battlefield. Leadership, technology, and environment are all constantly evolving to produce new and innovative opportunities to advance and defeat your opponents. The concept is simple, but it is not easy. The future is now. It is about what we are doing now to prepare for future battles – not what we will do to defend ourselves. There is a paradoxical tension between making money today and engaging the future, however if we, as Commanders, do not have the ability to focus on todays battles, while simultaneously engaging the war to ensure a strategic victory, both the morale of the troops and the ability to defeat opponents are at risk.

How focused are you, as a global leader, on each of these three key battlefields? Is your organization balanced between focus on the past, present, and future?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you mind the innovation gaps in your organization. Please feel free to contact me at  Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next week when we will look at the characteristics of an innovative leader to determine how a highly successful commander engages the battle and what s/he will do to win the war.