Tag Archives: mission vision values

Elements of Leadership – Part 3: The First Step Every Great Leader Must Take

Are great leaders born or made?

Take a minute to consider the leaders who have touched your life. Perhaps at a former or current workplace, a non-profit you care about, or a community organization?

Think of people you trust and respect.

Who are they? What do you know about them? Do you know their story, how they came to be the leaders they are today? How they came to earn your respect?

If you do know their story, chances are they’ve had their share of adversity and have had to make important choices along the way. They have persevered and become successful—in the broadest sense of the word—because of a strong belief in what they were doing. And despite of what others may have seen as personal obstacles or shortcomings.

Great leaders have the ability to see what is possible, often when others don’t. They acknowledge and are able to utilize their individual traits, abilities, skills and interests to make progress toward a vision of what they believe can and should be.

Then they make one first simple step. They do something, small. They choose to act, to set things in motion. Not out of ease or convenience, but out of a sense of purpose. Or need.

Whether clearly defined or subtly innate, there is a direct connection between this urge to act and their personal and deeply held values and convictions. They are aware that there are some things in life that give them energy, and others that consume it. They are aware that it costs them more energy to hold back than to be deliberate and to act.

They choose to spend this energy wisely, in a way that is purposeful and beneficial to themselves and others, that provides life and joy instead of having to be contained and carefully managed. Blaming others for injustice, problems and obstacles and contributing to maintaining a status quo is simply not an option. It costs too much.

Great leadership is rarely based solely on a rational decision. It starts with a simple step and builds momentum and strength. It results in meaningful change. Not because of the results in and by themselves, but because the achievements are inherently linked to their origins and rationale.

Great leadership can only be as long as there is self-awareness and self-development.

It begins with acquiring an understanding of your values, convictions and sense of purpose. It includes an understanding of where you have been, in order for you to be deliberate about the direction you are heading. It requires courage and determination that can only be derived from the realization that you can lead and achieve because of who you are, here and now, and an appreciation and acknowledgement of the qualities and strengths that you already inhabit. Not what you aspire to be based on the perception of others.

Embrace who you are, your strengths and values. Comparing yourself to others may be an interesting exercise, but will ultimately only be a distraction. Be proud of who you are, your background, your story and qualities. Yet be deliberate in how you use, develop and direct them.

You already have everything you need to be a great leader. Yet you have to understand and appreciate what is important to you. And decide to make the first step.

Because great leaders are born, every day. And then they are made, again and again.

 

Simple questions are often the most difficult to answer

Sometimes the simple questions are the most difficult to answer, especially those related to ourselves and our being.

Here are two short videos featuring lectures by the late Alan Watts. Take a few minutes of your day, find a quiet location, watch the videos, allow yourself to feel and listen. And you will find yourself asking some simple questions.

What do you want? What is within your control? What will you do? What is possible? What will you commit to? What now?

There need not be an answer. But sometimes asking the question is a worthwhile exercise in and by itself.

 

What if money was no object?

 

The Dream Of Life

 

2013 is here. Now. It’s your turn to lead.

2013 is upon us. A new year with new promise. How did you do with New Year’s resolutions in the past? Were you able to make real changes? Or did things return to normal too quickly?

Some among us spent a lot of time talking about how the world would end. It didn’t. We’re still here. Congratulations!

Now it’s time for action. No more excuses.

It’s time to fulfil your promise. It’s time to reignite your passion and your purpose.

It’s your turn to lead.

You have it in you to make extraordinary things happen. In your life, in your family, in your work.

It starts with clarifying your core values.

Align those values with your actions and the values of those around you. Small steps, every day.

We call this to Model the Way.

Next step: When are you at your best, both as a leader and as a person?

Most people describe their personal-best experiences as times when they imagined an exciting, highly attractive future for themselves, their families or organizations. They believe in their dreams and visions of what could be. They are able to live what they believe.

Do you remember the feeling? It’s like a drug. And still it’s real. And powerful.

Some people are able to maintain this optimism and state of mind on a continuous basis. Like the people who walk in the door and instantly make an impression of credibility and respect.

That is you.

You can Inspire a Shared Vision.

This is just the beginning of The Leadership Challenge. Small, deliberate steps with big real-world consequences.

2013 is upon us. A new year with new promise. It’s you turn to lead. The Future is Ours.

Thank you, Kayla, for inspiring this post.

Building a successful leadership pipeline – 7 things I learned the hard way

In 2010, I was hired by a European multinational company. My initial task: to engineer a program to develop their top 100 leaders and give rise to a more pronounced performance culture within the company.

It was a personal and professional challenge, and I grabbed it enthusiastically.

The company was growing and expanding both organically and through M&As, and the European economy was still doing fairly well. We had firm support from the board and senior leadership team. The leadership development program quickly took form, building on a framework of existing initiatives and programs and using both internal and external resources.

I was expecting that it could become difficult to implement a truly universal leadership program for the entire company, which employed staff and leaders in about a dozen European countries. Operating a program for leaders from such diverse countries, with different histories, cultures and languages – I knew there would be things that I would have to figure out under ways. And I was prepared for having to adapt parts of the program as it progressed and as we learned more about the effectiveness of the individual learning segments.

I was not prepared for having to completely rethink important elements that I, until then, had held to be more or less universally true and effective.

In retrospect, this was of course a good thing to have happen. I learned quite a bit over the following months. And I was reminded of several things that I already knew about leadership development, but that I at the time had come to neglect:

  1. It’s vital to have good support and buy-in from senior management, but it’s not enough.  In order to create a successful program, it is equally or more important to get the support and buy-in from local leaders at an early stage.
  2. A top-down concept and approach can work well, but can never be unilateral. An ideal leadership development program can (and arguably should) be centrally run and funded, but needs to be locally owned and operated in key aspects to be fully effective.
  3. It’s important to have accurate maps of the landscape before launching the program. It’s great to have a well-designed, well-funded and logistically sound program, but you will likely fail if you don’t include the understanding and perspectives of people on the ground regarding the learning topic. Take the time to observe and learn from the people who actually do the job and who know your processes, products, people and customers. In the case of leadership development, make sure you have a firm understanding of what leaders on the ground understand with key terms such as “leader”, “leadership”, “delegation” and “accountability”, and of what a leader “can and cannot do” as part of their corporate role and function.
  4. Make sure that all important stakeholders have the same understanding of program goals, benchmarks and timelines. You will need this whether the program is successful or not, and you will likely not be able to renegotiate this once the program is operational.
  5. Make sure you have a firm value base for the program, its benchmarks and operational goals. The likelihood of success (and program sustainability) increases significantly if your program is firmly grounded in a highly visible and operationally meaningful mission, vision, and set corporate values. This will answer the important questions that will be voiced from all levels and parts of the organization as the program unfolds – notably why, how, when and who. You need to be able to answer these question well and with legitimate conviction.
  6. It’s personal. Make it part of your schedule to visit and network with your stakeholders and constituents locally and centrally throughout the organization. Spend as much time as you can doing this, and it will always be worth it. But you should always do more. It is not the program in and by itself, but the relationships you build that will determine whether the program will be effective and successful.

Recent key indicators show the economy starting to exhibit new signs of life. That’s good news. The bad news is research shows many organizations in the US and across the globe cite bolstering leadership bench strength as a major workforce challenge.  As business begins to accelerate and companies rapidly expand their product and service strategies into neighboring countries and emerging economies, they often falter when it comes to constructing a solid leadership pipeline.

At Corporate Elements, we have considerable experience developing internal and external leadership development programs – locally, regionally, and globally. We partner with you and your organization to strengthen your existing leadership pipeline.

The Leadership Challenge® is our flagship leadership development program. It is based on The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® discovered through intensive research into the leadership competencies essential to getting extraordinary things done in organizations.

Contact us at (218) 329-0836 or by email at ole@corporateelements.com to schedule a free initial consultation.

Senior Leadership and the Catalyst Effect

Your effectiveness as a leader and executive is inextricably tied to your ability to lead and motivate your team. You know it, and your organization knows it. The responsibility for growing and developing the organization ultimately rests with one person – you.

Are you proactive in developing your own interpersonal and leadership skills?  Do you have a strategy for managing your own professional focus and development?

An executive coach can provide the catalyst you need to sharpen your skills, maintain a healthy life balance and good boundaries, and stay focused and on top of your game. Retaining and executive coach represent an investment in yourself, your team, and the sustainability of your organization.

The virtues of executive leadership are different than those of supervision and management. In the words of Jack Welch:

Being a leader changes everything. Before you are a leader, success is all about you. It’s about your performance, your contributions. It’s about getting called upon and having the right answers. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. Your success as a leader comes not from what you do but from the reflected glory of the people you lead.

Those who ascend to the level of senior manager or executive do so on the basis of work they have conducted beforehand. Yet, the moment you set foot in your new office, that in itself is no longer sufficient.

As an executive you have to be skilled and knowledgeable on the operational aspects of running an organization. You also have to be visionary and provide the strategic leadership the organization needs to grow and develop. And you have to be able to maintain healthy relations with board members, members of the leadership team, and externally to shareholders and other important stakeholders. This takes significant time, skill, and energy.

As you advance to the senior or executive level, developmental feedback becomes increasingly important. Yet, in most cases, effective and objective feedback also becomes more infrequent and more unreliable. As a result, you run the risk  of slowing down or regressing in critical interpersonal and leadership skills. This can lead to serious difficulties and risk, for you and the organization as a whole.

Executive and leadership coaching is an effective tool to manage this risk. An experienced coach can provide the perspective and support you need to further develop your skills, balance priorities and achieve fast and measurable improvements.

Most leaders and executives benefit greatly from receiving direct and relevant feedback in a confidential and professional setting. By providing feedback and guidance in real time, executive coaching develops leaders in the context of their current jobs, without removing them from their day-to-day responsibilities.

Great leaders know that their personal and professional effectiveness and satisfaction help them to maintain their “edge” and be more successful. And great leaders know that they must continually develop themselves if they wish to effectively lead, develop their teams and grow their business.

Independent studies, including those done by the renowned International Coaching Federation, have consistently shown the average return on investment for coaching to exceed 500%. Coaching is an investment – not only in yourself, but also in your employees and the future of your organization.

Corporate Elements is a leading provider of executive coaching, leadership development and talent management solutions. We use our experience from working with organizations, leaders and executives in Scandinavia, Northern- and Central Europe, and the USA to act as a catalyst and deliver effective and practical business solutions that work for you and your organization. We offer confidential, convenient and cost-effective ways to accelerate success, giving you and your organization a major competitive edge.

For more information on our coaching services, or to schedule a free initial consultation, please contact us!

What DO you want?

What does the word “success” represent to you? What are your goals, hopes and aspirations? What do you want, as a leader and as a person?

These are big questions that can be very hard to answer. There is an answer out there. You know it, you can feel it, almost taste it. But there is rarely a short and simple answer.

What DO you want?

In the words of Michael Bungai Stanier of The Possibility Virus:

What DO you want?

It’s one of the most powerful questions I know. 

And it’s a tough one to answer.

Pretty much just as soon as you get old enough to think… you have people telling you what THEY want.

Parents, partners, spouses, children, friends, bosses, colleagues, customers and clients… they’ve all got opinions about what’s best for you.

And sometimes their requests and demands can feel like a swarm of mosquitoes buzzing around you demanding attention.

And if you’re not clear on what you want, you have little protection against the blighters – what others want becomes very hard to resist.

You get caught up in it. In the flow of everything that goes on around you. In the hopes and expectations that surround you. In the things and projects you work on and are rewarded for doing and accomplishing.

This is not a new situation. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. We simply have to be aware of it and, if possible, manage and take control of it so that we don’t lose ourselves on the journey.

Others have been there before us. And the Gen Y and Millennial generations, by some touted as a different “breed” of people and leaders, are finding themselves in a similar situation. As eloquently written by the blogger Gen Y Girl:

I was taught, growing up, that in order to be a successful woman I’d have to work really hard so that I could one day break through these ceilings that were said to be made of glass. And if I did manage to achieve this, well,  I’d become the much-respected senior executive of some company where I would spend 40+ hours every week.

That’s what I was supposed to want.

That’s what I’ve always been capable of doing.

To not reach that goal, I was told, would be a waste of my potential. It would be a waste of my intellect. I would be a failure.

So all my life, this is the goal that I’ve worked towards.

In doing so, however, I’ve allowed others to determine what success looks like in my life.

A few years later, having been in the workforce, I look at the senior executives of many great organizations and I think to myself…really? This is what I want? This is what I’ve worked so hard for all these years?

Today, success is no longer directly linked to objective goals such as wealth and status. You don’t have to be a senior executive to be able to enjoy success. Financial and demographic changes have made success a realistic and natural goal for all of us. Today, we are all seeking success, and anything other than success is seen as transitional and temporary.

But what is success? Is success a state of mind, a journey, or an end destination?

What do YOU want?

For many, success is connected to a sense of fulfillment, joy and satisfaction. But sometimes we forget why we started on a journey. We are not always in control of events that shape our lives. And what helps us reach a higher or different level is often not what gets us to the next. So the journey takes on its own life, and us with it.

Success is about knowing. It is knowing what gives you energy. It is knowing that you are on the right path. It is knowing you are connected to that and those you care about. For some, it’s doing. For others, it’s thinking. For you, it may be different.

Think about it – What does “success” represent to you? What are your goals, hopes and aspirations? What do you want, as a leader and as a person?

Corporate Elements has been providing professional assessment and coaching services for more than a decade. We have the experience and expertise you need to overcome obstacles and reach your potential. We are certified by the most renowned assessment providers in the world and are authorized to provide you with cutting-edge tools and resources. Contact us today for a confidential conversation about where you are today, where you would like to go, and how we can help you get there!

 

COACHING RELATED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES:

  • Executive coaching
  • Management coaching
  • Performance coaching
  • Career coaching
  • Leadership development programs
  • Training
  • Conflict resolution
  • Succession management
  • Personality assessment
  • Management assessment
  • Executive assessment
  • Career assessment

CORPORATE ELEMENTS WILL:

  1. ASSESS the current situation, the impact it has on you and the organization, and the desired outcome.
  2. DEVELOP a proposal for further action and work with you to determine reasonable and specific outcome measures.
  3. IMPLEMENT the course of action that was agreed upon
  4. SUCCEED in meeting or exceeding the outcome measures that were agreed upon.

OUR GUARANTEE:

The mission of Corporate Elements is to deliver quality products and services that optimize the performance, productivity and profitability of your organization. We guarantee that we will consistently meet or exceed your expectations and the outcomes we have developed together.

Help, we’re acquiring a company! Now what?

No, Corporate Elements has not entered M&A mode. But this is a fairly common scenario when an executive team of a small to medium sized company “realize” they have been successful in their quest to acquire another entity. Most of the efforts up until this point has been focused on the financial side of the equation, combined with gathering business intelligence and building vital relations and buy-in from stakeholders.

Now the scary reality hits you – how do we make “them” part of “us”?

This is a defining moment – one where a number of things can begin to go “wrong.” Or it can mark a point where the foundation is laid for a successful outcome  – building synergies, expertise and human capital, increasing market share, or improving productivity and the bottom line. The stakes are high, and everyone’s eyes are on you, their leader. Here are ten things you can do to dramatically increase the odds of a good integration process:

  1. Be clear on what you want to accomplish, as outlined in your vision and strategic plan. You’d be surprised how many companies don’t have a comprehensive strategic plan for the coming one, three, and five year period. The number of companies that don’t have a plan that includes acquired entities is of course even higher. If you don’t have a working plan, you need to act fast.
  2. Be clear on what the existing and future strategic foundation is, i.e. your corporate mission and values. Be ready to express this in clear and simple terms, and to exemplify what the specific operational impact of key principles has in the various areas and levels of the organization.
  3. Assemble a truly great integration team. This needs to be the best of the best, representing every critical operational area, and they have to be able to commit for the duration of the integration period. Make sure the team members fully understand their mandate and operational goals, the resources they have available to them, the timeframe for accomplishing the defined KPIs, and the executive team/ steering committee’s role and responsibility in helping the team accomplish their mandate.
  4. Conduct a comparative culture analysis showing where the similarities and differences are greatest between your organization and the acquired entity. This may seem like a utopian goal to many, yet it is an invaluable tool and completely realistic if the professionals you select have the required foresight and experience.  The initial weeks of the post-merger integration will often seem chaotic and confusing, and having a model that provides guidance and helps you provide focus and prioritize your goals and resources will be extremely helpful.
  5. Brainstorm a clear and effective communication plan and get the commitment from all main stakeholders to stick to it throughout the integration process. Why can’t you  just “wing it”? Review any study of mergers and you will find that this is one of, if not the most important reason why integration processes derail. A poorly designed and executed communication plan will in many cases cause unnecessary delay and frustration, not to mention unforeseen cost. The worst case scenario is that it can threaten the integration process altogether.
  6. Know the critical work streams and tasks before setting foot in the door (or, have a “don’t get caught with your pants down” plan). Have a Day-1 readiness action plan that will secure smooth business transactions in critical areas. Know what you will need to have operational on day one and have a plan for how to make that happen before entering  the building. Focus solely on take-over day, align with key stakeholders onsite.
  7. Be ready to tell them who to turn to within your organization to get things done. Make a list with the names, contact information and detailed responsibilities of the people within your organization who have the role and authority to resolve issues and keep things flowing. Don’t give anyone any excuse for sitting on their hands instead of working because they don’t know who can get their computer or email up and running, or answer benefit questions regarding a dependent who is sick, or who can authorize the purchase of a new office chair because the old one broke.
  8. Be prepared that nobody is going to hear what you are saying, at least not during the initial time after you come onsite. People will be confused, stressed, and they may feel threatened or angry. They will not be ready to hear how the integration process will bring great things. But don’t be misled to think that communication is a waste of time, on the contrary. Be ready to over-communicate like you have never done before. Provide the same important information in as many ways you can – in person, in emails, on their intranet, in frequent briefings and town-hall meetings, by using posters or stickers, or by any other way you can imagine. Do what you can to fill any possible void where disinformation and rumors may find fertile ground. You will not be able to prevent the rumor mill, but frequent and persistent communication literally to the point where people get sick of listening to you will keep it to a minimum.
  9. Stay focused on item number one, your vision and plan for what you want to accomplish. Never lose sight of that, and resist the temptation to compromise or lower your expectations! Remember to use the managers and supervisors within the organization to spread the message and resolve issues. If you are effective in getting them to see your vision and understand their role in it, they will be are your greatest allies. Ignore them or treat them unfairly, and they will be your Achilles heal throughout the process.
  10. Be understanding and merciful towards all employees and managers during the stressful integration process, but hold everyone accountable for being adult human beings who are themselves responsible for building their new future. Be a good listener, but don’t allow negative behavior and opinions to fester. Maintain your authority and focus in a gentle, yet professional and effective manner.

Corporate Elements has the experience and expertise to be your partner and help guide your organization through the M&A process. This will allow you and your employees to focus more of your time and energy on making sure that the integration does not disrupt critical business operations  and existing customer relationships.

M&A RELATED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES:

  • Comparative cultural assessment
  • Strategic planning
  • Mission, Vision, Values
  • M&A planning and project management
  • Leadership development
  • Coaching
  • Training
  • Performance management
  • Conflict resolution
  • Group facilitation
  • Investigation
  • Personality and professional assessments
  • Succession management
  • Learning and development systems and design
  • HRIS/Learning/Talent Management system implementation
  • Organizational Assessment
  • Lean/continuous improvement
  • RIF/Career transition

CORPORATE ELEMENTS WILL:

  1. ASSESS the current situation, the impact it has on the organization, and the desired outcome.
  2. DEVELOP a proposal for further action and work with you to determine reasonable and specific outcome measures.
  3. IMPLEMENT the course of action that was agreed upon
  4. SUCCEED in meeting or exceeding the outcome measures that were agreed upon.

OUR GUARANTEE:

The mission of Corporate Elements is to deliver quality products and services that optimize the performance, productivity and profitability of your organization. We guarantee that we will consistently meet or exceed your expectations and the outcomes we have developed together.