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.

Verbify! Verbify! Verbify!

What’s your brand verb? Yes, you read that right … verb. Each and every day great brands are energized by verbs. Google searches. Nike inspires. Disney entertains. J.Jill uncomplicates. Apple creates. IKEA improves. LinkedIn networks. Chipotle nourishes. These verbs harness and direct all the brand activities for these organizations both internally and externally. Jim Collins writes that “Greatness is not a product of circumstance. Greatness is a function of conscious choice and discipline.” Great brands purposefully and powerfully live by their brand verbs. Their greatness lies in this deliberate verb action-orientation day in and day out.

What’s your brand verb? Yes, you read that right … verb. Each and every day great brands are energized by verbs. Google searches. Nike inspires. Disney entertains. J.Jill uncomplicates. Apple creates. IKEA improves. LinkedIn networks. Chipotle nourishes. These verbs harness and direct all the brand activities for these organizations both internally and externally. Jim Collins writes that “Greatness is not a product of circumstance. Greatness is a function of conscious choice and discipline.” Great brands purposefully and powerfully live by their brand verbs. Their greatness lies in this deliberate verb action-orientation day in and day out.

We tend to spend a lot of brand energy on adjectives trying to best our competitors: smarter, better, faster, thinner, bigger, smaller, cheaper. I like a lot of these “ER” words and find them helpful in product development tinkering. There is indeed a place for them in our business planning. But “ER” words are at best incremental improvements on existing solutions. They are not words of vision. Verbs are where the real action is!

Try this simple but powerful exercise I call verbifying: Grab three stacks of different colored sticky notes and give one of each color to each of your key leaders. On the first color, ask each brand leader what one verb best describes what your brand does for your customers. Take a look at all those responses. Is there unity among your leadership team about what drives your brand’s purpose? About what matters most to your customers? If there are disconnects, what conversation is necessary to bring alignment internally? If your leaders are not on the same page, then your brand energy is being diluted.

Next, pass out another colored sticky note and write down three of your top-selling products or services. What verb defines each of those products or services? Brands are created by these tangible customer-facing touchpoints and experiences. What do these “spokesproducts” do for your customers? Are the verbs that describe these products and services connected to your main brand verb? Why or why not? In my new book, “ThinkAbout: 77 Creative Prompts for Innovators,” I share examples from across a multitude of industries and customer segments of products that support their brands through this powerful verb connection. Might your brand be sending a flurry of mixed messages into today’s attention-deficient world? If warranted, how can you better synchronize all your brand touchpoints to support your mission-minded brand verb?

And lastly, ask each of your brand ambassadors to note the verb that best describes their contribution to your brand on the final sticky note. Jim Collins advocates being sure organizations have “all the right people in the right seats on the bus.” As their leader, do you know what verbs each of your key contributors bring to your brand creation? Are they Innovators? Dreamers? Doers? Revolutionaries? Analyzers? Thinkers? Tinkerers? What does your brand require of its people? What might be missing? Do you have the right mix of leaders on board to fully and purposefully live out your brand verb?

Nike inspires athletes of all shapes and sizes (and the company lovingly declares that if you have a body you are an athlete!) to find their greatness. I encourage you to do the same. Find your brand’s greatness by taking a few moments to verbify your brand, your products/services and your people.