Leadership disrupted in a fast business world

Leaders must step up and learn to be agile in order to guide their brands through digital disruption into a sustainable future.

What does it take to lead in today’s workplace? One thing is certain; leadership has been disrupted and is vastly different from what has come before. Old top-down control models are extinct.

A new collaborative leadership model has emerged and though it may feel chaotic, it’s an opportunity to redefine leadership and inject deeper community, connection and true participation into the workplace.

Today, the challenge is not about getting ready for change or implementing the right change program; it’s about operating your business in a way that the enterprise is ‘always on’ and ready for change.

There is an age-old saying, ‘businesses are managed but people are led’. The future of business is still people. With the right leadership style, the power of your people can be unleashed and true potential realised.

For the first time, leaders have the opportunity to make an extraordinary difference to their people, the businesses they lead and to the communities around them.

In this new world, modern leadership must be redefined and new skills developed. The modern leader needs to have phenomenal skills in leading and sustaining change.

Importantly, these skills need to be nurtured in young people even before they enter the workforce so that the future leader is fully equipped and skilled to steer the 21st-century dynamic business – to be both digital and people ready.

Here, we outline five characteristics of the modern leader:

  • The modern leader connects with people and the environment

    They are entrepreneurial and collaborative. They’re constantly looking for ways to collaborate to do better work – rapidly prototyping, piloting and transforming their work and others’.

    They hack processes, aerial mapping the entire enterprise for end-to-end value. They’re not afraid to make hard decisions to mobilise the business to thrive in the modern world. They enable people at every level and across business boundaries to contribute to the change conversation and execution.

  • The modern leader is adaptive, agile and innovative.

    They’re fluid, nimble and quick to mobilise and navigate opportunity. They’re not afraid to use new technology and management tools to help people perform, collaborate and make decisions through real-time measurement, data and results monitoring.

    They understand great things happen at the intersection of technology and people. And they build a new ecosystem – they check in, not up, to build a continuous cycle for improvement and new behaviours.

  • The modern leader is a visionary, influencer and storyteller.

    They understand the need for the macro vision and the micro goal. They provide a clear vision that links a plan to a purpose. They move complexity into plans and out of execution. They are clear with direction, enabling people to achieve.

    And they influence by practising social fluency, becoming adept at influencing diverse groups and persuading others to act. They energise others to tell stories so that everyone in the business feels empowered and part of the change.

  • The modern leader instils confidence.

    They connect with the environment around them, bringing data and people together to consider what’s needed to succeed – to weigh decisions with outcomes. They focus on people, relationships and culture, and balance this with the power of technology and data to better connect and engage in dialogue. They lead teams to perform productive and meaningful work and are performance multipliers.

  • The modern leader has an ever-learning soul.

    Absorbing new knowledge, developing new capabilities, inspiring new ways of looking at the old, and new lenses to look to the future. They know a mentor and coach talks about growth and opportunity routinely. They give others the opportunity to learn, experiment and experience new and different skills and situations.

Source: https://www.theceomagazine.com/business/management-leadership/leadership-disrupted-in-a-fast-business-world/

What is Research and Development in Business?

It can appear as though pharmaceutical and software companies have a monopoly on research and development (R&D). Though innovation is intrinsic to those fields, other fields should not be disheartened by this.

Innovation can occur in many different sectors in many ways. Any new or improved product, service or process could qualify as R&D, which can open doors to both grant funding or tax credits. Essentially R&D is going from strength to strength and it is more likely to be found in your business than you may think.

The definition of R&D is reliant on two things: seeking an advance in the field & overcoming challenges that could not easily be worked out by a professional in the field. Though certain sectors are more predisposed to this, R&D is possible in all lines of work.

How Does R&D Relate to Business?

R&D in business includes extensive market research which leads to the creation of products and services. SMEs are more likely to be developing existing products than creating new products due to the expense associated with product creation.

For example, following the recent trend of ‘going green’, businesses who are looking to develop products or processes to be more eco-friendly may help increase sales. Similarly, more cost-effective manufacturing processes may also qualify as R&D within businesses and companies with a persistent R&D goal consistently outperform those without, according to research from 2000.

Encouraging all employees to be aware of R&D within their projects will lead to greater success with research and development, any potential claims made, and with the company’s overall success. In Management Today’s study of business attitude to innovation, they found that 68% of companies said there were barriers to innovation within their business, mostly due to lack of financial resources. However, through recognition of the funding and tax relief available to businesses, these costs can be reduced.

Final thoughts…

Through the nature of R&D, there is risk involved, however, this is mitigated by the likelihood of success through either Government schemes, like Revenue’s R&D Tax Credits scheme, or through funding, like Horizon 2020’s Fast Track to Innovation grant. R&D often leads to long-term benefits and as we all know competitive innovation is key to keeping afloat in these aggressively progressive times. SMEs need to seriously consider an R&D strategy where the larger companies would have an R&D department.

Creating or developing products and services, both for commercial purposes and within a company, can lead to great pay-offs. From grants to tax credits, success in business to greater productivity, R&D is crucial to business. To find out more about anything mentioned, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Source: https://www.myriadassociates.ie/news/2019/what-is-research-and-development-in-business/

To Be A More Effective Leader, Do This One Thing Well

You may have years–even decades–of experience. And be brilliant at what you do. If you’re very fortunate, you may be charismatic, the kind of leader that people would follow anywhere.

But if you don’t devote time and effort to one important behavior, you won’t be a successful leader.

What’s the behavior? Being present. In fact, there are two aspects of presence that leaders need to achieve:

  1. Make it a priority to spend time with team members.
  2. While you’re there, devote all of your attention to the people you’re with.

Let’s start with the first part. You might think this is a no-brainer; just look at your calendar to see how many meetings you have. Yet even the busiest leader may not be spending enough quality time with people on his or her team.

A case in point: a story in Politico describes problems in the U.S. Commerce department. The piece quotes sources who say Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross spends much of his time managing up, focusing on the President. As a result, Ross „isn’t frequently seen in the building talking to employees or rallying them to do good work.“

And here’s another example. The Wall Street Journal reports that Jony Ive, who recently resigned from Apple as design chief, had before his departure withdrawn „from routine management of [the company’s]elite design team, leaving it rudderless, increasingly inefficient, and ultimately weakened by a string of departures, people close to the company say.“

For instance, „Mr. Ive promised to hold a ‘design week’ each month with the software designers to discuss their work. He rarely showed up.“

In short, the first rule for achieving leadership presence is, obviously, to show up.

But being physically in the room is not enough–and here’s where the second part of presence comes in. Rasmus Hougaard and Jacqueline Carter write in the Harvard Business Review that „to truly engage other human beings and create meaningful connections, we need to silence our inner voices and be fully present.“ As part of research for their book, The Mind of the Leader, Hougaard and Carter surveyed more than 1,000 leaders „who indicated that a more mindful presence is the optimal strategy to engage their people, create better connections, and improve performance.

In fact, the research also suggests that there’s a direct correlation between leaders’ mindfulness–their ability to be completely in the moment–and the performance of their people. „In other words,“ write Hougaard and Carter, „the more a leader is present with their people, the better they will perform.“

How, then, do you achieve presence? Here are five ways:

  • Schedule high-contact sessions. Yes, you’re in a lot of meetings, but many of them are large-group, everyone-report-out, mostly virtual events. You need to intentionally plan for more intimate and informal communication encounters–walking around, having 10-minute chats, asking a few people to have coffee, eating lunch in the cafeteria–because these high-impact activities build employee engagement.
  • Build the discipline of „be here now.“ As Cathy Cassani Adams writes, „Being present means that instead of being focused on what happened yesterday or what could happen tomorrow, you are simply here, now. It’s about getting off autopilot and becoming aware of the automatic actions and reactions you are used to.“
  • Ban distractions. Put away your phone and laptop, of course, but also leave behind paperwork that doesn’t relate to your current conversation. And let your assistant and team members know that, unless the building is burning down, they shouldn’t interrupt.
  • Make eye contact. In his book, Face to Face, Oscar-winning producer Brian Grazer writes, „In a world where our attention is too often focused downward or elsewere, simply lifting your eyes to meet another’s gaze can be transformative . . . (When you) hold eye contact, notice how your interactions change. And watch as it makes others feel more respected, heard, seen, and valued.“
  • Focus on what you can learn. Yes, you know a lot, but everyone you meet can teach you something. That’s why Grazer approaches conversations with curiosity. „It’s important to show up with the capacity for wonderment and openness, a beginner’s mind, really. The best curiosity conversations are the ones where both people are engaged, contributing and learning from one another. When that happens, there is (almost) nothing like it.

Source: https://www.inc.com/alison-davis/to-be-a-more-effective-leader-do-this-one-thing-well.html?cid=landermore

4 ways innovation can help your business

Innovation is vital to your company’s success in today’s highly competitive business environment, especially as customers become more demanding and savvy.

Entrepreneurs need an edge to survive and stand out. Innovation can provide that edge—boosting your productivity, growth and profitability.

Yet, only a quarter of small and mid-sized businesses planned to invest in innovation and R&D in 2016, according to a BDC survey of 4,000 Canadian entrepreneurs.

Innovation doesn’t have to be a world-changing breakthrough. It can involve simple, incremental improvements in any area of your company.

Here are four concrete benefits innovation can bring to your company.

1. Improve sales and customer relationships

Failing to improve your products and services can put you at risk of losing customers to more innovative competitors.

If you invest time and money in innovation, customers will notice and appreciate the extra value you’re bringing them. That should translate into more sales.

You can start with simple steps like regularly surveying customers to identify potential product improvements and setting up an innovation team to spearhead your efforts.

2. Reduce waste and costs

Innovation can help you reduce waste in your business and leave you better positioned to focus on the long-term goals, rather than always putting out fires.

Innovative BDC clients have implemented operational efficiency changes such as streamlining order processing, eliminating production bottlenecks and reducing machinery and employee idle time.

The goal is to constantly be on the lookout for ways to eliminate waste. That can bring a host of benefits—lower costs, better profit margins, improved customer service and increased competitiveness. An efficiency expert can help you identify such innovations.

3. Boost your market position

Innovation can help you anticipate market changes more quickly and get ahead of opportunities, so you aren’t forced to react to shifts. It can also help you differentiate yourself from the competition.

Such innovation can come from continuously analyzing market trends, listening to your customers, suppliers and advisors, and studying what competitors are doing in order to spot opportunities and jump on them.

Also, it’s often useful to look at what’s happening in your industry in other countries. You can find fresh ideas for your business by studying what leading companies are doing abroad.

4. Improve employee relations

An innovative workplace is stimulating for employees. Cultivating pride in your products and a desire for your company to be an industry leader should reduce workplace turnover and boost productivity.

That can, in turn, lead to still more innovation success because employees are often a company’s best source of ideas.

Be sure to listen to them. Ask for their feedback on innovation in all areas of your business, including how to improve products, marketing and efficiency. They can give invaluable insights into ways to innovate, and they will appreciate having your ear.

Source: https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/business-strategy-planning/innovate/pages/4-ways-innovation-can-help-your-business.aspx

Google spent 10 years researching what makes the ‘perfect’ manager — here at the top 10 traits they found

A company could spend all the money it wants recruiting, interviewing, and hiring the best people around. But if the boss is a jerk, those people will leave the first chance they get.

In contrast, if you have great managers and team leads, not only will you get the best out of your people, but they’ll also be more likely to stick around.

For over 10 years, Google has conducted research under the code name Project Oxygen. The goal? Figuring out what makes the perfect manager, so it could train its leaders to develop those behaviors. The research has paid off, as over the years Google has seen a marked improvement in employee turnover, satisfaction, and performance.

Interestingly, technical skill mattered much less than you might guess. What was far more important for managers were emotional-intelligence skills, the ability to understand and control emotions, both their own and those of their people.

According to Google, a good boss …

1. Is a good coach

Rather than solve every problem as soon as it arises, the best managers use problems as teaching moments.

They guide their teams and share insights when needed. This allows their team to gain valuable experience and grow.

2. Empowers the team and does not micromanage

„I love to be micromanaged,“ said no employee, ever.

In contrast, great managers give their people the freedom they crave: the freedom to explore their ideas, to take (smart) risks, and to make mistakes. They also provide the physical tools their people need, and allow for flexible schedules and working environments.

3. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being

In another research project Google discovered that the single greatest key to a team’s performance was creating a „psychologically safe“ environment.

As Google puts it:

In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.

In other words, great teams thrive on trust — and great managers help build that trust.

4. Is productive and results-oriented

The best managers are more than star players — they make their teammates better, too.

They do so by setting the right example and getting down and dirty whenever necessary. They’re not afraid to roll up their sleeves and help out, and that motivates their team.

5. Is a good communicator — listens and shares information

The best managers are great listeners. This helps them to better understand their teams, and show appropriate empathy.

Additionally, good managers realize knowledge is power. That’s why they are transparent and willing to share information with their teams, so their people know the „why“ behind the „what.“

6. Supports career development and discusses performance

Great managers encourage their people by sharing sincere and specific praise. But they aren’t afraid to share critical feedback, too — making sure to frame it in a way that is both tactful and constructive.

They also invest in their people by helping them reach their personal career goals. By doing so, they naturally motivate their teams to give back.

7. Has a clear vision/strategy for the team

Great managers know exactly where the team is right now, where they are headed, and what they need to do to get there. Through good communication, they help keep the team on track.

They also make sure each team member understands their individual role in executing that strategy.

8. Has key technical skills to help advise the team

Great managers understand the jobs of their people, including their everyday tasks and challenges.

If the manager is moved into a new department, he or she will take time to get to know how things are done, and work to build trust before making drastic changes or offering advice.

9. Collaborates effectively

Bad managers view their team as a silo, working against or even sabotaging other teams within the same company.

In contrast, great managers see the big picture. They work for the good of the company as a whole and encourage their teams to do the same.


10. Is a strong decision-maker

Great managers aren’t impulsive, but they are decisive. After getting to know the facts and considering the thoughts and perspectives of their teams, they move things forward — even if that requires making a decision not everyone will approve of.

Then, they commit to those decisions.

If your company can train and promote managers who do these 10 things, you’ll build trust and inspire your people to become the best versions of themselves.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/the-best-bosses-do-these-things-according-to-google-2019-6?fbclid=IwAR2eVbBy4gUXjgE87_chC05aoRVwpkkRUG08-cojuKAbf1DPoe7oKI-xH9c

5 Time-Saving Technologies Your Company Needs to Use

No matter the size of your business, there are two things I guarantee you wish you had more of: time and money. Unfortunately, regardless of how much you wish for them, neither one will magically appear like a CGI Will Smith from an oil lamp.

Instead, you’ve got to put in a little extra effort. Improving your time management skills is a good place to start. You could also rely on the following five technologies.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Despite emerging in 1952, AI has really gained traction over the past couple of years. The main reason is that AI has completely changed the business world for the better.

Take marketing as an example. AI can gather and analyze data to generate more personalized content for your audience. AI-powered chatbots can handle customer service inquiries during off-hours or steer website visitors to the information they’re searching for.

Additionally, machine learning, an offshoot of AI, can make predictions and suggestions on how to improve processes or prevent problems. For instance, you could receive a notification to replenish your inventory before you sell out of a specific product. It could also review past meetings and then recommend when and where the next meeting should take place. Machine learning could also suggest which people to invite and which topics to include in your agenda.

AI and machine learning can, of course, also automate tedious and time-consuming tasks. For example, a tool like a Calendar cannot only make smart meeting suggestions, but it can also automatically set up recurring events so you no longer have to spend time manually adding them to your schedule and sending out invites.


Wait a minute — isn’t automation the same thing as AI? It’s understandable to connect those dots. After all, both are technologies that streamline tasks and workflows. In some cases, they can even completely take over certain responsibilities.

But the key difference is that automation only handles fixed repetitive tasks. AI, on the other hand, analyzes past data to make future predictions. When an automation tool does its job, that’s it. For example, if you use an accounting tool like Xero, it will issue invoices, schedule payments, and handle payroll. Though it provides insights, it won’t make smart suggestions on how to improve your accounting.

Your business is probably already using automation. Accounting is one example; you’re probably also using tools like ActiveCampaign to automate your email and marketing efforts through segmentation, as well as canned responses, like welcoming new subscribers. Hootsuite and its brethren let you schedule social media content in advance, publishing it for you.

The point is that automation is all around us. If you haven’t jumped on board yet, it’s time you do. If you’re not convinced, consider that 53% of employees report that automation saves them two work hours per day. Also, business leaders claim that automation frees up around three work hours daily.

Scheduling and Conferencing Tools

Scheduling technologies are meant to improve the meetings that take place within your organization. That may not seem like a priority, but meetings are often listed as the leading time waster at the office. In fact, on average, people spend more than five hours in meetings every week — that total can range up to 12 for managers. People also spend more than four hours preparing for meetings.

Thanks to scheduling and conferencing tools, meetings can become more productive and less time-consuming. Scheduling tools eliminate back-and-forth email chains when planning an event. Simply share your calendar through email or embed it on your site; participants can then choose the open slot that works best for them. Some tools, like Doodle, give your team the chance to vote on the best date and time for a meeting.

What’s more, these platforms can also reserve conference rooms and allow you to attach relevant information, like meeting agendas or data to be discussed. They can also enable virtual meetings so traveling or co-locating is no longer an issue.

Project Management Systems

Project management systems, such as Basecamp or Trello, have become essential tools for companies. After all, they allow you to assign tasks to specific employees, as well as track and monitor everyone’s progress over the duration of a project. You and your team can also share documents, post updates, and ask questions in one convenient location.

Also, because these systems are in the cloud, they can be accessed from anywhere. That’s clutch when you have remote employees — everyone can stay on the same page, no matter where they’re currently working.


According to the Ponemon Institute, companies, on average, experience 130 successful cyber attacks annually. These attacks cost around $12 million and can also harm your company’s reputation — just think how furious customers would be if their personal information had been stolen due to a weak or nonexistent firewall. Depending on the severity of the attack, there may also be legal issues, like regulatory sanctions.

To prevent this from happening, you need to invest in defending your business from potential cyber attacks. While training your team to understand security basics — like not opening up fishy emails — is a start, you also should also use technology from companies like Cisco, Symantec, and CrowdStrike. Even BlackBerry has gotten in on the game by providing secure end-to-end mobility.

When it comes to time-saving technologies your company could maximize, there’s no shortage of options. But to make sure your team isn’t overwhelmed, think about where you’re wasting the largest amount of time and money. From there, you can search for tools that will empower you and your team to focus on the bigger picture.

6 Ways To Increase Employee Productivity Throughout The Summer

As I’m sitting here writing this article, I can’t help but stare out the window. It’s gorgeous outside. The sun is shining through a blue, cloudless sky. I hear birds chirping, and I notice how green and lush the trees are. The last thing I want to do is remain cooped up inside an office.

My mind begins to drift to the fun-filled activities of summer: family vacations, barbecues, baseball games, relaxing by any body of water. I’m obviously not the only person going through this. A study from Captivatefound that during the summer, workplace productivity goes down 20 percent. Additionally, attendance dips (by 19 percent), project turnaround times increase (by 13 percent), and people are more distracted, with 45 percent reporting they grapple with distractions. Needless to say, that’s not good for business.

The good news is that as a leader, there are ways to keep yourself — and your employees — at maximum productivity throughout the dog days of summer. Here are six ways to start.

1. Throw norms by the wayside.

Obviously, you don’t want to disrupt all of your systems and processes. But the summer is a perfect time to shake things up and experiment with various motivation techniques.

The most glaring place to start is with scheduling. Instead of forcing your team to come in five days a week, offer more flexible schedules. For example, on Mondays, they can work from home. Or you can give them Fridays off so they have a three-day weekend all summer. This is ideal when your team has to worry about childcare, commuting daily in abrasive heat, or using personal days for long weekends.

It’s actually been found that summer Fridays and flexible hours can boost productivity because people feel this contributes to a healthy work-life balance. To make sure you or your team don’t fall behind, ask if they would stay an hour later Monday through Thursday so they can have Fridays off.

Besides changing schedules around a bit, consider relaxing the dress code so your team is more comfortable. Other ideas would be offering unique incentives and rewards for exceeding goals or showing your gratitude.

2. Schedule summer-related activities.

Unless it’s brutal outside, most of us want to enjoy the outdoors during the summer. Why not make that happen for your employees?

For example, you could host outdoor or walking meetings so everyone gets out of that stuffy conference room. Doing so doesn’t just improve teammates’ moods; it’s also beneficial for their health and can spark creativity.

You could also plan for a number of summer-related activities to make the workplace more fun when everyone would rather be elsewhere. Examples include having a barbecue or ice cream social. Another option is to go on a group outing to a lake or park, participate in team-building activities, or volunteer in the community.

3. Shift priorities.

We’ve all experienced this before: You have a question or need permission from a colleague or manager before proceeding. Unfortunately, the person you need is out of town. Are you going to just sit there and twiddle your thumbs?

“This may be a time of fewer distractions because of people being out,” Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant, told Forbes. “Capitalize on that by focusing on projects that require strategic thought and planning so you’ll be ready to precede with your fall proposals at a time when the pressure cooker environment returns. You’ll be glad you took advantage of any lulls.”

4. Make the most of the summer slowdown.

“The temptation during the summer doldrums is to let the time slip away,” Mike Schultz, president at RAIN Group and author of Insight Selling, explained at American Express.

“Don’t let busy work or no work seize the day,“ adds Schultz. „The summer is a great time to brainstorm, innovate and drive new initiatives. Inspire your employees to complete the proactive tasks they don’t have time for during busier times of the year.“

Additionally, the summer is a great time to allow your team to work on new projects or tackle responsibilities they’ve been itching to take on. For example, if an employee has expressed interest in contributing content to your company blog and social channels, let her go ahead and give it a spin — just make sure to review anything before it goes live.

Also, this is a great time to encourage your team to take advantage of learning or growth opportunities, like attending a workshop or seminar. While it may not sound the most exciting, summer is also perfect for cleaning up the office and laying the groundwork for upcoming projects.

5. Encourage everyone to use their time off.

Both you and your employees need time away from work. As Kayla Sloan, a financial productivity expert, explains at Calendar, this is because it will increase productivity, counterintuitive as that may sound. The reason? It prevents burnout, boosts creativity, and provides opportunities to learn more. It also motivates us to do more in less time.

Encourage your team to take real vacations this summer. The most effective way to do this is to lead by example and take one yourself. But don’t skimp on employee vacation time. To make sure everything runs smoothly, stagger vacations so there are always enough hands on deck.

6. Develop a work coverage plan.

Even though vacations should be encouraged, the sad truth is that employees aren’t using their vacation days. Mainly this is because they are afraid they’ll return to a mountain of work and believe there’s no one else capable of doing their job.

The best way to address this is by having a work coverage plan. This is simply a template that outlines the priorities for each employee. It should also cover the tasks that are time-sensitive, as well as relevant contact information for emergencies. The entire team can take turns picking up some of their co-workers’ responsibilities so they can relax on vacation.

Rather than fight the allure of summer, look for innovative ways to enjoy the season with your teammates. Most importantly, use the summer to lighten everyone’s workloads and catch up on some much-deserved vacation time. When everyone returns, they’ll be refreshed to keep forging ahead.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnhall/2019/06/09/6-ways-to-increase-employee-productivity-throughout-the-summer/#74a6584b11ae

5 Things All Great Leaders Do to Create a Culture of Leadership

What’s the secret to creating a culture of leadership that will take your organization forward for years to come? There is no secret — it starts at the top with you.

In my experience as a leadership speaker and consultant, it starts with senior leaders reflecting internally — to understand their purpose, gain clarity about what they stand for and what the organization stands for — and identifying how to communicate this with the rest of your organization.

It is the strength of individuals who make an organization world class. And companies that make leadership development a strategic priority have the ability to attract and retain the best leadership talent, and move to the head of the pack.

Leadership Culture Starts at the Top

Transformational leaders understand that a culture of leadership doesn’t start with a written document, but by the behaviours, they model every day. You can’t simply write down what you want your leadership culture to be and expect others to follow. Your culture is made up of the values you live daily — and those are not aspirational — they are actual.

Leaders must understand and communicate a clear vision to create an environment that attracts people who share their same values.

You lay the groundwork by being clear with your purpose, and by leading by example and modeling the behaviors they would like to see practiced. Only then can you begin to establish the right structures and processes to foster and reinforce the desired culture.

If you want to develop great leaders, you first need to learn to be a great leader yourself.

5 Things All Great Leaders Do to Create a Culture of Leadership

While it’s easy to assume that great leaders were born to lead — and some are — more often great leadership is a result hard work, gaining experience over time, continuously evolving, and being open to learning new skills and trying different approaches. Thankfully, most of us were not born a natural leader, we had to learn — and this willingness to grow and develop will help create a culture of leadership.

Here are 5 things that great leaders do to help create a culture of leadership:

  1. Define clarity of purpose: All great leaders find their purpose. It’s clearly defined, and it is the catalyst for everything they do. Purpose helps to fuel their work ethic and drive their passion for what they do. More importantly, they create a purpose that resonates with others, and they communicate organizational values and vision in a way that brings people together to rally behind their vision, creating a strong culture of leadership.
  2. Walk the talk: You must reinforce company culture and values daily and with consistency. Leadership culture is a living and breathing entity. Strong leaders understand that organizational culture is dynamic and know it’s critical to reflect a culture of leadership through their actions. If your team sees you practicing what you preach, they will be more open to buy-in. Values should be a regular touch point in decision-making to ensure they are being lived every day —  not just when it is easy or convenient. Leaders also establish a culture of leadership when they hire new people by hiring for character over competence and establishing expectations clearly during onboarding, training, and coaching, and by putting people in leadership positions who share the same values and live them consistently.
  3. Practice self-awareness: Leaders need to be willing to change first — before organizations can change and transform. Leaders need to have the ability to be self-aware, as well as organizationally and culturally aware, of the impact of their actions and decisions. They allow others to have a voice, they are open to critique and outside ideas, and they are willing to grow individually and professionally.
  4. Recognize the value of people: Great leaders understand that the most valuable resource in their organization is people. They invest in people and help them develop their own leadership capacity — scaling it throughout the organization. Transformational leaders have a genuine desire to lift people up to achieve their own success.
  5. Create transformative organizational change: Leaders themselves need to be transformative in order to inspire higher performance and customer-focused culture. As discussed in, 6 Ways for Leaders to Create Organizational Change, “how you approach to change is just as important as what you want to change. If you want to be a transformative leader and create long-lasting organizational change, you need to approach it in a way which minimizes negative reactions, is aligned with business strategies and corporate cultures and is inclusive in nature.”

Anyone can be in a leadership position, but this doesn’t mean they are a leader. There is a difference between managing and leading. Managers look after things/checklists (budgets, invoices, scheduling, reports) and usually do so from behind a desk.

However, people are led. Great leaders know that to connect with their teams, they need to be engaged — ready to step in and support their people, even working side by side to get the job done. Leaders take the time to build their social skills and interact with others so that there is a strong teamwork atmosphere.

Forget about looking for the secret formula or shortcuts to create a culture of leadership. You won’t find them. Start by taking a look in the mirror and reflecting on your own leadership. This is the first place to look for answers about how to create a culture of leadership.

Source: http://customerthink.com/5-things-all-great-leaders-do-to-create-a-culture-of-leadership/

MIT Just Announced the Top 10 Worst Tech Innovations of the 21st Century. Here’s What They All Have in Common

Premature scaling, lack of customer discovery, and applying outdated methods led to some of the worst innovations.

MIT Technology Review published a list of the worst innovations from the past two decades. Some were too early for market; some were a product without a customer; others were helpful, but caused more problems than they solved. The list includes:

  1. Segway 
  2. Google Glass
  3. Electronic voting
  4. One laptop per child
  5. CRISPR babies
  6. Data trafficking
  7. Cryptocurrency
  8. E-cigarettes
  9. Plastic coffee pods
  10. Selfie sticks

What do many of these innovations have in common? They were built in the 21st century using 20th-century entrepreneurial rules. They failed to put customers ahead of investors. They built solutions and products in secret, and only when the products were „perfect“ went looking for a customer. They failed to find a repeatable, sustainable, scalable business model.

Entrepreneurs in the 20th century were driven by engineering innovations, and generally the emphasis was on secrecy. Companies would spend years developing „the next big thing“ and only show prototypes to focus groups that signed NDAs. Working during the original dot-com boom in New York, I saw this daily. Many 20th-century founders raised money first and then turned their mind to users. Profit often came last. This approach often led to premature scaling (where founders invest resources before proving the need for them and knowing how to efficiently deploy them). Remember, the internet had not yet developed infrastructure, so startups had to do everything manually and by themselves.  There were no Google Adwords, PayPal APIs, Amazon SDKs, or Facebook Pixels. So launching a startup took millions.

But today, hundreds of dollars are all that is needed to test your startup opportunity. The tenets of 21st-century entrepreneurship can be found squarely in the Lean Startup methodology developed by the likes of Stanford’s Steve Blank, Harvard’s Eric Reis, and MIT’s Bill Aulet. Here’s how to ensure your business model is steeped in 21st-century methodology:

  1. Get out of the building. No answers are found in a company boardroom or a founder’s garage. Answers as to what business model will disrupt an industry lie in the collaborative space between stakeholders. „Get out of the building“ means meeting face-to-face with lots of other people in order to hear their ideas.
  2. Share everywhere. Once, founders were told to keep their ideas to themselves. But this paranoia over intellectual property has been replaced by collaborative communication. Instead of keeping your venture a secret until it is perfect, you should show it to early adopters and other stakeholders in an effort to have them collaborate on the development. Working with users early in the process increases your chances for building a successful solution that sells.
  3. Get a minimum viable product. At the heart of the Lean Startup method is the idea that „done today beats perfect tomorrow.“ The old notion that companies only have one chance to make a first impression is replaced with the idea that users benefit through early collaboration, and it is better to release an ugly prototype today than to wait for months until it is perfect.
  4. Build, measure, learn. The process of building a startup is a series of experiments that require you to build a prototype, test it with real early adopters, and use that data to drive strategic decisions on how to iterate the business model.
  5. Pivot. A pivot is a change to one of the nine key elements of a startup’s business model (customer segment, UVP, KPIs, channels, etc.). In the modern day, entrepreneurs apply a systematic and scientific approach to testing assumptions and pivoting based on the results.
  6. Continuous deployment. Just as you need to get your MVP into the hands of early adopters, that process is continuous. Ventures are always building the next version; testing the impact changes have on adoption, revenue, and profit; and pivoting as needed.
  7. Split testing. The best way to decide what color your product should be, for example, is an A/B test, where 50 percent of users see Color A and the other 50 percent see Color B. Then, track which had a greater impact (e.g., which led to more sales).
  8. No more business plans. Business models have evolved from business plans to Lean Canvases. Business plans were too static, took too long to research, and really only reflected the management’s internal assumptions. A Lean Canvas is a one-page business model representation that acts as a living document, allowing founders to evolve the business model through experimentation and iteration.

Innovations like Google Glass, Segway, and cryptocurrency were built after 2000, but using 20th-century approaches. These products were built in secret and touted as game changers, but really didn’t engage in the customer discovery and iterative evolutionary process that has led to startup successes like Tinder, Uber, and Dropbox.

So if you don’t want your new product, service, or solution to end up on next year’s MIT list of the worst technology innovations, make sure you’re building a 21st-century business using 21st-century methods.

Source: https://www.inc.com/sean-wise/mit-announced-top-10-worst-tech-innovations-of-21st-century-heres-what-they-all-have-in-common.html?cid=search

Creating a culture of accountability

A team member laser focused on creating success in their own patch could be placing dangerous constraints on team results.

Is your team driving with the handbrake on?

Are some of your staff, laser focused on creating success in their own patch, essentially choosing to serve the part over the whole?

In doing so, they place constraints on the achievement of group results and we’re familiar with the undermining symptoms of this short-sightedness: the blame game, denial, the blind eye, the ball drop, withholding information or truth, being reactive at crisis point rather than proactive at causal point, lack of collaboration and engagement, and/or a general unwillingness to serve outside of the specific KPIs of one’s own role.

In fairness, most of us could admit to engaging in these behaviours ourselves at times, but if any of this conduct becomes imbedded in team members as a long-term way of being, business results will strongly reflect it.

Call it ethos, attitude, culture or code, we’re dealing with the testing challenge of shifting an employee’s work principles and beliefs but, according to the authors of recent bestseller Crucial Accountability, the effort involved in coaxing staff towards a stronger commitment to answerability for team results can be a significant triumph.

In the book, they share a VitalSmarts case study which states: “When an IT group improved crucial accountability practices by 22%, quality improved over 30%, productivity climbed almost 40%, and costs plummeted almost 50%, all while employee satisfaction swelled 20%.”

Following are 5 suggestions for ways to help your staff release the parking brake and move forward in sync to achieve team objectives like a well-oiled machine.

1. Shift their ‘working business model’:

Use your inspirational presentation powers to create a compelling message around the fact that the practices of collaboration and accountability are the new ‘sexy’.

Help them set aside the competition to reign as performer supreme. Demonstrate that a team member now ‘stars’ with a more holistic mindset – one that engenders group trust, a personal sense of responsibility to outcomes, shared commitment to strategic goals, openness to feedback, and the courage to hold both self and others answerable.

2. Create an environment of trust

To support the above paradigm, set expectations for team engagement that is non-judgemental, accepting and respectful yet gracefully honest. When team members feel safe, they will share, contributing ideas, suggestions and feedback without fearing hidden agendas, ridicule, cynicism or one-upmanship.

3. Encourage robust engagement

Generate roundtable, solution-focused discussion to ensure the sharing of knowledge. Having one’s ideas heard and considered, inspires personal investment in any eventual strategic plan of action agreed upon.

4. Provide strategic clarity

The team needs to know exactly what they are going to be accountable for. Make it your responsibility to clarify in detail the desired end result of any plan of action, decision or goal.

5. Set ground rules

Request a commitment to the specific actions, work values and attitudes that will ensure that outcomes envisioned come to fruition, placing team results over egoistic needs.

Encouraging commitment to a culture of collaboration, trust, accountability, responsiveness and pride in group accomplishment will help transform the solo performer to valued contributor, and everyone wins.

Source: https://www.theceomagazine.com/business/innovation-technology/creating-a-culture-of-accountability/