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Key Messages That Help Leaders Break Down Barriers

Key Messages That Help Leaders Break Down Barriers

Key Messages That Help Leaders Break Down Barriers

I’m currently working on my first book that will be published by McGraw Hill in 2021. It has me thinking about my experience as a leader, as well as those leaders who have impacted my life and career. We all recall at least one leader in our career–either because they served as an inspirational force that propelled us to where we are today, or because they were the source of aggravation and demoralization that still haunts us. I don’t believe any leader starts out to be the latter, but nonetheless at some point in time everyone can attest to experiencing that type of leadership.

In the book, I talk about 7 key messages that help leaders break down barriers that prevent them from being aspirational. Here are few to consider:

Personal Awareness & Authenticity

Share your process. It is important for your team to understand the personal values and beliefs that shape how you lead. If there is transparency in your leadership, it will foster the same from your people. It will also help you have a better understanding of their thought process, how they work and how to help them be more effective and efficient.

If there is transparency in your leadership, it will foster the same from your people. In addition, if you expect others to learn new technologies, adapt to changing customers’ needs and innovate how work gets done, then you have to demonstrate your willingness to learn as well.

Continuous Learning

Demonstrate the importance of continuous learning. This could include participating in certification programs to gain more knowledge about your industry or a workshop on leadership skills that help you become more connected with your team. More importantly, it is spending time learning from your employees who are the experts at what they do. Join them in the warehouse, on the sales floor or in the field. Invite them to educate you on what is happening in the company. In addition, if you expect others to learn new technologies, adapt to changing customers’ needs and innovate how work gets done, then you have to demonstrate your willingness to learn as well.

Mindfulness

Be present with your people in the moment. Listen, empathize and relate to those you lead, while also demonstrating vulnerability so that they can relate to you. The more that you are tuned into their needs, desires and aspirations, you are better able to help them achieve success personally and professionally, a win-win for your company.

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5 Reasons Every Business Should Think Like a B Corp

5 Reasons Every Business Should Think Like a B Corp

5 Reasons Every Business Should Think Like a B Corp

A Purpose-Driven Business Model Is the Way of the Future

According to Certified B Corporation, B Corps (B for Benefit) “are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” Businesses are assessed in the B Lab, based on how they impact every person–on a social and environmental level–by their operations and not just their shareholders.

Increasingly, companies are recognizing the value of being driven by both mission and profit. In the article “The B Corp Movement Goes Big” of the Fall 2020 Stanford SOCIAL INNOVATION Review, it is stated that “more than 3,000 companies across 71 countries have been certified as B Corps.” Take TOMS, for example–an essential component of their business model is to donate a pair of shoes to a needy child, for every one sold. They have expanded that to include eyeglasses, too.

This model has been so successful–for their profit margins as well as their give-back mission–that their BOGO (Buy One Give One) model has been adopted by other companies including Bixbee (backpacks) and Bombas (socks). We too are considering a similar model to help more underserved and underrepresented entrepreneurs access our SUMMi7 Business Scaling Method course.

It’s this type of purpose-driven philosophy that is at the core of a B Corp.

Increasingly, companies are recognizing the value of being driven by both mission and profit. Becoming a B Corp is a good way a company can hold itself accountable and committed to making an impact.

Becoming a B Corp is a good way a company can hold itself accountable and committed to making an impact. If you are considering achieving B Corp status, there are definitely some benefits, from potential cost savings to encouraged social responsibility. But, even if B Corp status isn’t your goal, here are 5 reasons you should think like a B Corp:

Customers Expect It

With many options to choose from and as purpose-driven companies become the norm, more and more people will choose products (and companies) that are sustainable, add purpose and value, and are inclusive in their mission.

Employees Seek It

In an attempt to align themselves with companies that share their values, employees desire to work for companies with purpose, who create a positive contribution to society. This can also foster morale within the ranks.

Communities Need It

B Corps help companies focus on local impact and community engagement. When companies make a commitment to be purpose-driven, the impact extends beyond shareholders to the entire community that reep the rewards of a socially or environmentally conscious company.

Create Longevity

In making decisions and growing your company based on a purpose-driven philosophy, it will help to balance short-term pressure with long-term outcomes.

Increase Innovation

When you foster a culture of transparency and employee development, encourage engagement and incorporate customer feedback into your business processes and decision making, you will create a more innovative environment.

To learn more about B Corps, visit bcorporation.net.

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To Inspire, You Have To Believe

To Inspire, You Have To Believe

To Inspire, You Have To Believe

As a leader, your role is to create an environment where your team can be their best.

I’ve often thought about how I can be an inspirational leader. So I started to pay attention to what inspires me in other leaders. I came to the conclusion that there are two things that inspire me; leaders that have an unwavering belief in their cause and leaders that believe in me, even when I may not believe in myself. We all have different things that inspire us, but if this resonates with you, then it’s something that you can develop by building a deeper understanding of your own beliefs, and being willing to evolve those with new insights. As you take on a new project, study it until you understand the purpose of the project, recognize the positive impact it could make and believe in what you are doing. To inspire others in this way, you have to first believe in what you’re doing so much that it inspires them to want to believe. You can’t force inspiration on to someone, but you can create an environment that allows even the smallest spark in them to ignite. An excerpt from Marianne Williamson’s 1992 best-selling book, “A Return To Love” is a statement to this:

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

Excerpt from Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love” (1992).

To get there, study your cause, understand the potential role your business or team can play, and then connect with others where they are to include everyone’s perspective in the conversation. Including everyone in the discussion, incorporating their ideas and developing a plan of action together, solidifies a shared purpose that everyone can connect to. Lead by example and demonstrate commitment, showing that you’re willing to make personal sacrifices—team success over personal accomplishments, doing the work that needs to be done and demonstrating the humility to stumble, but then learn from that and pick yourself back up. To inspire your team, you have to get to know them, trust that they want to do their best and appreciate that there’s more than one way to get to a goal. As a leader, your role is to create an environment where your team can be their best, then show them consistently that you believe in them.

Other ways to use inspirational leadership to show your team you believe in them, include:

Roll up your sleeves

Be willing to roll up your sleeves to do any job needed because all jobs matter.

Actively Listen

Listen actively because you truly appreciate their perspective and know that incorporating what people say does influence your thinking and will help you make better decisions and be a better company.

Be Transparent

Be transparent because empowering people with information will help align everyone, cut down on information gaps that can lead to mistrust and perceived hidden agendas, and allow everyone to be part of the journey. Invest in people and expect that of your leaders. Prove it by investing the most precious resource of time and creating space for personal growth.

Photo by Xan Griffin

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3 Keys To Immersive Leadership

3 Keys To Immersive Leadership

3 Keys To Immersive Leadership

A belief in a cause and a committed team are inspirational components of immersive leadership.

Immersive, by definition, is “to involve or engage deeply.” In the same context, immersive leadership is an approach that focuses on maintaining strong connections to your team as you grow your company. As a company grows, the ability to scale those connections with the team becomes more difficult.

Although you may need to develop a hierarchical structure to organize work, establish repeatable processes and define decision making protocols, you don’t need to develop a hierarchical style of leadership that creates an “us” versus “them” culture—the language of many legacy companies, between employees and management.

Traditional hierarchies and matrix organizations have evolved to address this and can be effective with incremental growth and relatively stable business models and markets.

You don’t need to develop a hierarchical style of leadership that creates an “us” versus “them” culture—the language of many legacy companies, between employees and management.

However, the speed and availability of information have made other approaches possibly more effective. If you can harness that information and maintain alignment to a common purpose through extreme transparency, involving trust and empowerment, then you can create a level of agility and connected workforce that can continuously outpace the market and adapt to changing conditions.

A belief in a cause and a committed team are inspirational components of immersive leadership. As your company scales, it can help maintain the same leadership fundamentals that create the spark for inspiration and engagement among your team.

As you practice immersive leadership, here are some recommendations for maintaining trust, consistency and authenticity:

1.

Understand your leadership style, belief system and personal inspiration to help build authentic connections with others.

2.

Exhibit vulnerability to create an environment where leaders are approachable and any issues can be raised and addressed early.

3.

Communicate coherently with an overall strategy, purpose-driven values and clarity on how time and money are prioritized. As Emma Walmsley, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline stated, “Until you put the money where you say your strategy is, it’s not your strategy.”

Photo by Charlie Hammond

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7 Steps to Develop A High Impact Vision

7 Steps to Develop A High Impact Vision

7 Steps to Develop A High Impact Vision

Having a well-defined vision and a strategy to implement it, are significant components of leadership.

Most leaders have a predefined vision for their company in their mind that motivates them to persevere through daily challenges such as sacrificing personal time, overcoming self doubt and combatting seemingly impenetrable obstacles. As you build your company, your team will be met with similar challenges.

As a leader, it’s a core part of your role to share, document, discuss and engage your people with your vision, so you can provide them with the same motivation that drives you. Leaders that accomplish this effectively, create a legion of emerging and empowered leaders that are equipped to tackle every problem with the same passion, drive and dedication that you would. When your vision is clear, your team does not have to rely on direction from you to progress forward, successfully.

A company that has done this in an exemplary manner is TOMS, a purpose-driven accessory brand that gives back to those in need which each product the sell:

“The reason we have been able to grow, and grow successfully, is we attract the most amazing employees. And, the number one reason they come is because they get to be part of something bigger than themselves.” 

Blake Mycoskie, Founder & Chief Shoe Giver, TOMS

To get there, study your cause, understand the potential role your business or team can play, and then connect with others where they are to include everyone’s perspective in the conversation. Including everyone in the discussion, incorporating their ideas and developing a plan of action together, solidifies a shared purpose that everyone can connect to. Lead by example and demonstrate commitment, showing that you’re willing to make personal sacrifices—team success over personal accomplishments, doing the work that needs to be done and demonstrating the humility to stumble, but then learn from that and pick yourself back up. To inspire your team, you have to get to know them, trust that they want to do their best and appreciate that there’s more than one way to get to a goal. As a leader, your role is to create an environment where your team can be their best, then show them consistently that you believe in them.

Here’s how to convey your visionary leadership and stay the course:

    Choose a horizon.

    Determine your purpose and position as a company. Describe measurable goals that are needed to reach your company’s pinnacle of success, and what that looks like in your operations.

    Think about the impact you want to make for your customers.

    Consider what you’re offering to customers, what they buy from you, and describe the problem you are solving. Also, describe the benefit they get, then validate with customer feedback. Use their words in your narrative when articulating your vision.

    Clarify why customers chose you.

    Identify what you do that makes your company unique, that can’t be replicated by competitors, and how you maintain and strengthen that competency. Differentiate your company from its competition and create a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

    Describe the culture and environment that you want to create.

    Authentically embody the values that you want emulated by your team and in your company.

    Set financial targets based on metrics.

    Have goals that drive your business forward such as identifying specific customer segments that you’ll target to grow your business.

    Fund social causes.

    Incorporate philanthropic initiatives that are natural extensions of your business and values. Offer your team an opportunity to support causes important to them as well and bring a new level of meaning to work.

    Identify other stakeholders.

    Engage stakeholders that have a touchpoint with your business, ranging from inside the organization (such as board members) to externally (such as key influencers, who have become partners). Everyone who has a potential impact on your business should be aligned with your vision.

    Photo by Wu Jianxiong

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