3 Steps to Better Leadership in Today’s Clickthrough Society

Having a good leadership team means having one that is well rounded. It requires different types of people with different skills and personalities. Here are three steps that you can take to build better leaders on your team.

There is a conundrum in leadership in today’s clickthrough marketplace. Many are drawn to leadership to accomplish big things, which is great, but they often lack the patience to develop their leadership team slowly and carefully. Preferring to pick people they get along with best and are the easiest to work with, they tend to dismiss those who don’t have these two particular qualities because they require more work.

What’s wrong with that you say? Well, start with the fact that a well-rounded leadership team is just that. Well rounded. This requires many types of people with many different types of skills and personalities. Only choosing people that are the easiest to get along with is a terrible prescription to building a balanced leadership team.

Chief executives need to drive transformation differently today. Incremental changes do not lead to transformation. They need the full buy-in of their leadership team and they won’t get it if they are told what they are going to do. The leadership practice today is to let the team know what the desired result is and allow them to develop “How” they are going to achieve it. Since it is their planning that drives the desired result there will be far more buy-in and accountability to purpose.

This is often difficult for chief executives who prefer to micro-manage their teams. But anyone can change who wants to. One thing is for certain, micro-management leads to defection and high attrition and often stalls an organization dead in its tracks.

  • The two best things a chief executive can do:
    • Listening
    • Asking questions
  • The two worst things a chief executive can do:
    • Telling people what, why and how they are going to do everything
    • Intimidating people into doing what he or she wants

Here are three steps that you can take to build better leaders on your team:

  1. Stop being impatient. Don’t see yourself as the one who has to keep everything going and moving at the correct pace. See yourself as a coach, mentor and nurturer of people and their individual talent that you might miss if you don’t take the time to look. Providing confidence to your team members to continue to grow and develop their talent demands that you know what they are and how to develop them. Even with people who lack natural confidence, when a leader takes an interest to help them solve their challenges they can overcome them. This makes the team stronger.
  2. Listen, really listen. Stop what you’re thinking and listen carefully to what the team member is saying. Does this take longer? Yes. But this makes even the most nervous person more comfortable telling you what’s really going on, why it is and what can be done about it. Under pressure, this same person will not offer the solutions they see simply because they’re not being reassured by their leader.
  3. Stop being a producer, and start being a scout. If you see yourself as an impatient judge of talent, you will only be satisfied with the very best talent. But seeing yourself as a scout allows you the time to develop that talent into its full potential. Those you might overlook or those you prefer to have on your team should not necessarily boil down to who is farthest in their development. Why not take a chance or two on some less experienced, or even difficult people, and help them turn into the best they can be?

No chief executive has a 100% perfect success rate. So why not give the younger guys time to develop and lead? In the long run, this approach will allow you to do what you do best. Look ahead to what’s next and the best steps to get there.

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Tom Wants To Hear From You!

Tom Marin is the Founder and President of MarketCues, a national consulting firm focused on planning and driving both strategy and strategic growth programs. The firm’s expertise, scope and knowledge help clients solve complex problems by creating simple powerful solutions that deliver results. Follow MarketCues on Twitter. Tom also welcomes emails, new LinkedIn connections, calls to 919.908.6145 or visit www.marketcues.com.

Note: If you are a printing company or product/services company serving the print-media market, and would like to be considered for a feature in this blog, please contact Tom Marin for an interview.

3 Ways to Build a Platform to Communicate With Customers

Recently, authors and bloggers have been writing about the importance of establishing a “platform” for individuals and organizations. Michael Hyatt, the former CEO of the enormous publishing company, Thomas Nelson Publishers, discusses this in his book, “Platform” that how you frame your message is as important as what you say.

Recently, authors and bloggers have been writing about the importance of establishing a “platform” for individuals and organizations. Michael Hyatt, the former CEO of the enormous publishing company, Thomas Nelson Publishers, discusses this in his book, “Platform” that how you frame your message is as important as what you say.

Regardless of how much you agree with this premise, what isn’t up for debate is everyone needs a platform. No one is going to create it for you, and its importance cannot be stressed enough to build and maintain a vibrant culture in your organization. It’s essential that your strategic messages resonate with your customers and helps them find the answers to their most critical questions.

The biggest problem with much of today’s communications is that it needs to fight for attention simply because it is not well differentiated. If your goal is to build awareness for your business you’ll need both a strong visual and textual message to be successful. Simply stating your organization’s vision and mission statements is not going to persuade anyone to feel drawn toward your organization, unless your communications resonate with their needs.

In other words, primary communications without a specific purpose, such as a new product and program, will spin yours and your audience’s wheels with weak results. Focus is essential. Otherwise you risk talking at your audience with little impact. Here are a few things you can do to build an effective platform.

  1. Place your messaging in the order that your customers prefer.

A simple example is not feeling the need to alphabetize your pull-down menus on your website. If your top topic starts with an ‘S’ put it on top to make it easy to find. Make it obvious. Things that go first have more importance than those that go last. Obviously this necessitates you understanding what customers value most.

  1. Figure out what your customers want to learn.

Place your customers’ interests at the center of everything you do. Highlight it. Don’t feel the need to build up to a crescendo as if you’re writing a symphony. Communications is about making critical information easy to find and understand, and a lot of drama is not required to be successful. In fact, too much drama can inhibit successful communications.

  1. Research and track the results of your communications.

Figure out what people spend the most amount of time looking at, push to the back areas they are less interested in and consider eliminating them altogether if they’re ignored. Don’t keep sacred cows! In communications, it is equally important to figure out what not to include, than what is. No one likes to have to weed through large amounts of information.

The critical mass of all of this is that effective communications start, develop, and reinforce meaningful relationships with your customers and prospects. Making it easy to talk with you forms a strong relationship. To accomplish this, it’s essential that you build communications they will enjoy, versus pushing your communication messages too hard. Remember to be creative and persuasive, but not overly aggressive.

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Tom Marin President of MarketCues, a national consulting firm wants to hear from you! Follow MarketCues on Twitter for strategy and related tips. Tom also welcomes emails, new Linkedin connections, calls to (919) 908-6145 or learn more at: www.marketcues.com.

Note: If you are a printing executive or vendor serving the printing industry who would like to be considered for a feature in this blog, please complete the contact information here: http://www.marketcues.com/contact/.

Do You Lead an Agile Organization? Welcome to the New Order

Top-down leadership is pretty much gone today because it simply doesn’t work. This can be an unpopular message to bring to leaders, particularly those who are north of 50 years of age. On the other hand, those much younger who practice agility leadership welcome it. In fact, of the fastest growing organizations in the U.S. today most are being run by a new breed of leaders who prefer to throw out conventional wisdom and drive it with an 8-week planning cycle to let their team decide if they need more funding or what they want to change immediately.

This is uncustomary in a huge number of traditional companies – the majority of which are the largest in their markets right now. But this should not comfort larger organizations. If you doubt this is true consider that only 60 of Fortune 500 firms remain that were listed in 1955. That’s a 12% survival rate. We have all either watched or learned first hand, competitive landscapes can change overnight and force major shifts in leadership. Twenty years ago, if I had told you two startups would control the majority share of market media would you have believed me? But indeed today, Facebook and Google are those two companies that we’re both founded in 1998, and the rest is history.

How did this happen? Over many years of executive consulting I have found there are four keys to driving organizational health and growth:

  1. Own a vision that is so well-differentiated and unique that no one can match it
  2. Create a strategy that perfectly aligns everything your organization does best with what your customers want most
  3. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) that let you look forward and project growth based upon a success criteria that is formed out of your strategy
  4. Make all funding decisions, large or small, based upon whether it will advance the three keys above

Trying to make a major cultural shift in an organization without first doing a cultural shift with one “Pilot Team” is generally a recipe for disaster. What is first required for a successful culture and strategy shift is a strong leader who can keep the pilot on track and protect those people who are participating in it. The reason is that whenever new ideas and practices are introduced they can easily be perceived in negative context and because people often resist and fear change.

Sadly, much of this apprehension is well-deserved, having watched so many strategic planning shifts fail because they were poorly implemented. Once you have proven a new strategy will work in a pilot program it is infinitely easier to win adoption throughout the organization with the momentum of success behind it. The art of quick wins is something that I talk and write about because I have found that several quick wins will win over even the most dug in teams.

Success is always welcomed so taking several small steps that each lead to a successful outcome is an excellent way to build team confidence versus trying to change the entire organization in one quick shift. That rarely works.

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Tom Wants To Hear About Your Leadership Issues:

Tom Marin, Founder and President of MarketCues, wants to hear from you! Follow MarketCues on Twitter for executive and professional development — as well as learning about the latest trends. Tom also welcomes emails, new LinkedIn connections, or call Tom at (919) 908-6145 or visit www.marketcues.com.

Note: If you are a printing company or a service provider in the online and printing market, and would like to be considered for a feature in this blog, please click here Tom Marin for an interview.