Priorities, Planning, and Execution

We have a greater need now to be highly effective through clear focus on purpose, centered on principles, and execution around priorities. If there is little agreement on purpose and direction, the culture is characterized by control, contention, and confusion. The reason for this tragic ineffectiveness is a lack of focus and execution.

Priorities. Focusing on priorities unleashes talent and energy and creates a culture where each person shares a common focus and executes around priorities. When change accelerates, formerly successful processes and practices don’t work. Nothing fails like past successes. Today everyone must have the same purpose, principles, and focus; they must know who they are, what they are trying to do, where they are trying go, why they need to get there, and how they will cooperate. It must be internalized. Leaders get people on the same page, executing around priorities, which releases talent and energy.

Planning. Set goals that lead. Well-defined goals are among the most effective tools available to any leader, yet most leaders don’t set goals that lead their people in the right direction. The purpose of this discipline is to produce clear and measurable annual goals. Pursuing these goals will lead people to align their daily activities with the few vital objectives set in the strategy. The result is a brief goals statement that every team member can support.

Execution. Work the plan. One of the best learning tools is the individual quarterly plan. In this discipline, every person works with the team leader to develop individual plans for the coming quarter. These goals are reviewed and aligned with company goals. This plan serves as a time-saving template for a weekly status report. Every person knows how to set goals, understand priorities, take responsibility for those goals, become accountable, report progress, and solve problems.

Let’s examine the previous three points in more detail. We put first things first; we’re proactive and responsible; we’re a product of our decisions, not our conditions; and we regularly renew our focus and execution.

  1. Through this discipline, a plan, is born. The plan depicts the desired end or aim and specifies the best means for achieving it.
  2. This discipline seeks to optimally organize resources to achieve the plan. This requires identifying all actions and activities and organizing them to maximize resources and results.
  3. Measuring Performance. This practice recognizes that what gets measured gets managed and gets done. This discipline measures how well these activities are performed and signals management when they are poorly performed.
  4. This means assigning all of the plan’s activities to employees to perform (nothing left to chance). This leads to attaining the plan. Executing expectantly engages and empowers employees to ideally perform their assigned activities and holds them accountable when they don’t.
  5. Following up. This practice generates actionable feedback, aligns expected outcomes with actual performance, instills cooperation and accountability, and reinforces making right things happen.
  6. Real-time reporting. This takes collected feedback (timely, reliable, and accurate performance data), shares it, and makes it readily available so mangers can take action to address problems.
  7. Problem-solving. This occurs when problems are identified, understood, addressed, and monitored. This requires a system that provides quantitative and qualitative feedback with which to resolve problems and improve performance. This system ensures the constant use of the seven learned disciplines. Systems drive action, and these actions produce certain outcomes.

You can replace ineffective habits of coasting, avoiding responsibility, taking the easy way out, and exercising little initiative or will-power with the discipline to focus on the important but not necessarily urgent matters of your life, thereby gaining leverage and influence. You go from victim to creative resource, from futility to hope, from having can’t and won’t power to being focused and having can and will power and the discipline to realize your top priorities.

 

Contact us today to discuss how we can partner together to help develop your leaders: jeff@wolfmotivation.com, 858-638-8260 or www.wolfmotivation.com

 

Seven Disciplines of Leader makes a great holiday gift ….all proceeds benefit our wounded service men and women.

Teamwork and Strong Teams

Effective leaders know that their organizations will realize substantial benefits by building strong teams to reach their objectives and strategic goals. Bringing people together on the same page is highly effective because people can accomplish more collectively than individually.

 

Every participant brings a unique skillset to the team. Some may be highly creative at coming up with new ideas, others may excel at details, and some have the ability to move the group’s ideas forward and follow through to completion. It’s rare to find one person who has all of these skills. By working together and combining what everyone brings to the table, the group’s goals will be realized much faster.

 

Teamwork also builds camaraderie and encourages open communication. When every member is focused on a single outcome, strong relationships and trust are built, one of the most important aspects of teamwork, if not the most. Every team member must have complete trust in fellow participants as well as faith in others’ desire to work in the best interests of the team and company.

 

When building a strong team, leaders should look at each member’s strengths and abilities to determine whether the group can gel. When there’s a good fit, teams combine their strengths to achieve the group’s overall goals. Leaders should also nurture team growth and development to ensure everyone contributes in a positive way.

 

To build strong teams, develop a team culture that includes:

 

  • Defined expectations, clear goals, objectives, and shared vision.
  • An established timeline with individual and team accountability.
  • A clearly articulated purpose for the team’s existence.
  • Team members’ complete acknowledgement of the roles they play.
  • Well-defined processes/procedures on how work will be done.
  • Team access to all available resources required to reach the goal.
  • A diverse team composed of members with complementary skills.
  • Individual and group commitment to the work to be performed.
  • The shared knowledge that each team member is valued and will be rewarded for hard work and effort.
  • Clear, honest, and open communication among all team members.
  • Rules of conduct, including steps to resolve emerging conflicts.

 

As companies struggle to become more innovative, teams will become more important. Bringing together people with multiple skills and competencies leads to innovative products, services, and strategies.

 

 

 

Contact us today to discuss how we can partner together to help develop and grow your leaders and teams: jeff@wolfmotivation.com, 858-638-8260 or www.wolfmotivation.com

 

According to a Deloitte University Survey, leadership remains the #1 talent issue facing organizations around the world, with 86% of respondents rating it urgent or important. Only 13% of respondents say they do an excellent job developing leaders at all levels.

 

Our newest Leadership Development Program will be customized to fit your specific needs.

Follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffWolfUSA

Jeff’s Articles in the Media

Fear of Failure is Dangerous to Your Job Health

Fear of making a mistake can cripple even the most talented leader’s efforts to succeed. It stifles creativity and discourages risk-taking, while upping the stress ante and creating a tense work environment for everyone within a department or team.

Imagine how many inventions and technological innovations would never have become realities if the people who came up with them had been afraid to fail!

Anyone who ever did anything truly great failed first. Failure is part of trying. It will happen. What matters is how you deal with it. Famous failures include Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, and Michael Jordan. They prove failure can be a powerful teacher that leads to success.

Worrying about making mistakes is counterproductive, zaps your energy, and leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy. You may irrationally fear that you’ll never be good enough and that you’ll face the disapproval of other negative feelings if you’re less than perfect. This can cripple you, especially as you move up the career ladder and take on new responsibilities that are outside of your comfort zone.

Hara Estroff Marano, editor-at-large for Psychology Today describes perfectionism as “a steady source of negative emotions.” She explores how our performance should not be a measure of our self-worth.” “Rather than reaching toward something positive, those in perfectionism’s grip are focused on the very thing they most want to avoid – negative evaluation,” she writes. “Perfectionism, then, is an endless report card; it keeps people completely self-absorbed, engaged in perpetual self-evaluation, reaping relentless frustration and doomed anxiety and depression.”

I encourage managers and leaders to write down their fears. This forces them to acknowledge these anxieties and dissect the faulty logic that may paralyze them. Consider keeping a journal that tracks what’s bothering you and how you react to missteps. Does one type of error bother you more than another? Are you better able to recover from a mistake when you’re having a good day? What, exactly, are you feeling? Humiliation? Embarrassment? Depression? A sense of even greater fear? How can you use reality checks to weaken the hold these feelings have on you?

You need to practice being unafraid. Perform at 100% of your capacity, and recognize that mistakes will still occur in rare circumstances, despite your best efforts to prevent them. Needless to say, if you make huge errors regularly, you may be in way over your head.

If you’re a leader or manager who is plagued with chronic anxiety and unrealistic perfectionism, you must learn to diffuse the fear time bomb so you can succeed at the work you love.

 

Contact us today to discuss how we can partner together to help develop and grow your leaders and teams: jeff@wolfmotivation.com, 858-638-8260 or www.wolfmotivation.com

 

The Wall Street Journal reports that, by 2020, there is likely to be a shortage of approximately 40 million high- skilled workers around the world. Which means you will need to rely on developing and promoting current employees instead of finding outside talent to meet the needs of your organization.

Follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffWolfUSA

Articles in the Media

 

On Sale Now

Seven Disciplines of a Leader

All proceeds go to our wounded service men and women.

  • Named One of the 11 Most Thought- Provoking Leadership Books of the Year

 

  • Named One of 3 Books Small Business Owners & Leaders Should Read

 

  • Named one of 3 books to read by KYW-AM Philadelphia

 

  • “…like hiring a business coach; it will help you build leadership skills, improve your decision-making and become a more effective leader.” –Small Business Forum

 

  • “The great value of this book is found in his explanation of the “how” and “why.” In my opinion, the information, insights, and counsel he provides can be of incalculable value to middle managers who aspire to become leaders. Also, to those now preparing for a career in business or who have only recently embarked on one. There is another constituency to which I also highly recommend this book: Owner/CEOs of small to midsize, privately-owned companies who are eager to strengthen their skills in one or more of the areas that Wolf explores.” –Blogging on Business

 

  • “……is going to become a leadership classic. You’ll mark up every page you read as you spot valuable principles.” – Pat Williams, Co-founder and Senior Vice President of the NBA’s Orlando Magic

 

  • “…..describes state-of-the-art techniques that leaders at any level of the organization can use to improve their performance. His remarkable advice is sensible, easy to understand, and noteworthy.” -Marshall Goldsmith, author of the NY Times and global bestsellers: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, MOJO and Triggers.

 

  • “….delivers major benefits for its readers. It very effectively demonstrates how to build core leadership skills, improve decision making, interpersonal relations, and teamwork skills and reveals techniques of highly effective and dynamic leaders.” -Edgar Tu, former President, Home Entertainment of America, Sony Electronics

 

  • “….has given us a comprehensive list of the many ways that the aspiring or current manager can sharpen his leadership skills in order to be able to compete effectively in today’s challenging business environment.” – John A. Warden III, Colonel, USAF (retired) and author of Winning in Fast Time

 

  • “….he has laid out a flight plan to guide you through both blue skies and turbulence to achieve your leadership goals. He shows how successful leaders continue to learn and grow….reading it and absorbing its lessons will imbue you with the courage and confidence it takes to become a great leader. Consider it a flight plan to support you team and you en route to your destinations” – Howard Putnam, Former CEO Southwest Airlines and Braniff International

 

  • “…insightful and straightforward, a book you can put to use immediately. This book is not theory, it’s action. Real case studies lead to real takeaways you can practice now. Whether you are a new or experience leader, this book will make you better!” – Andrew Field, CEO, Printing for Less.com

 

  • “…is a seminal book on leadership in business, a groundbreaking study that leaders in any line of work can use to increase their effectiveness on the job. Its penetrating insights will be helpful for frontline supervisors, managers, and chief executive officers alike.” – Dale Sohn, former President and CEO, Samsung Telecommunications America

 

 

6 Essential Leadership Responsibilities That Build Effective Teams

To create a fully functional team, the leader needs to exhibit six leadership traits.

1. Build trust. Trust is a three-way street: A. You must be able to trust each member of your team. B. They, in turn, must be able to trust you. C. Team members need to trust one another.  Trust is earned, so set the stage for success by creating regular and ongoing teambuilding opportunities. You can start with small projects involving two-and-three person teams.  In due course, you’ll want to expand team size and the scope of assigned projects.  Never compromise your team’s trust in you by assigning a task that is well beyond their skills level.  This managerial mistake sets them up for failure, and it can irreparably damage your relationship.

2. Communicate. Watch any police drama on television and you will notice how law enforcement officers remain in constant communication during tactical operations. Their lives depend on it. You can’t expect your team to understand and execute a task without clearly communicating your goals and objectives.  In some cases, you will be a hands-on leader, participating in the task and offering close supervision.  In other instances, you may assign a team leader, who will be charged with keeping you up-to-date on the task’s progress.

Communication must flow in several directions: How you articulate your message.  How others hear your words (the takeaway message). How well you listen to-and hear-what team members say.

Any glitch in these communication channels can lead to a major disconnect, even project failure.  And if you rush through communication efforts, rattling off details without ensuring clear messaging or ending a meeting with “Got it?  Okay, let’s do it,” you discourage team members from asking crucial questions that may make or break their endeavor.

3. Offer sufficient resources and autonomy. Teams fail when members lack the time and resources required to complete their assignment.  Perform a reality check.  Ask yourself how much time and how many tangible resources you would need to fulfill the project’s demands.  Next, determine whether your team, based on members’ experience levels, requires more, less, or the same amount of time.  Seek input from team members, asking them to honestly assess how long specific components of the task will take.  Your goal is to develop an accurate, realistic timeline.

If you have chosen a team leader to lead a task, allow this person to delegate responsibilities as she sees fit.  Make sure the leader knows the difference between delegation and abdication.  The team leader’s job is to set the vision, delineate strategies (often with the help of other team members), and provide the conditions and support needed for success.

As for autonomy, don’t micromanage your team (or team leader).  Give members an attainable goal and enough autonomy to complete it.  Monitor progress, but avoid being overly intrusive.  You’re the leader – not a babysitter.  Let team members feel empowered enough to embrace responsibilities and enjoy a sense of ownership.  Remind the team that you are available if anyone needs consultation.

4. Build self-efficacy. Team members must know that you have confidence in their abilities to complete a task.  They, in turn, must feel secure in meeting your goal.

If an employee feels uneasy about his role on the team, consider pairing him with a high-performing peer.  This strategy can help boost the self-assurance of an employee who has not yet achieved self-efficacy – an individual’s judgment of his ability to successfully complete a chosen task.  Team members’ self-efficacy will affect the choices they make when working on a task, as well as their doggedness when setbacks occur.  It’s your job as the leader to uncover the employees’ fears and barriers to success and alleviate their concerns, including shyness; self-consciousness; poor communication skills; fear of conflict; impatience with, or dislike of, other members of the team; and bias.

5. Hold team member accountable. Every team member should be held to the same standard of excellence, regardless of training or years of experience on the job.  While each person’s precise task will vary, all team members’ commitment to completing the job should be unwavering.

6. Conduct routine debriefings. Debriefings should focus on high and low points during the project’s run.  When you review your team’s completed work, note individual performance and provide meaningful praise.  Team members should be rewarded when they cooperate, coordinate, and share knowledge with coworkers.  And when a team member fails to cooperate or complete her task, speak with her in your office. The meeting should be private, but team members should know that it is taking place – and that there are consequences for failing to pull one’s weight or working well with others.

Before ending a debriefing, ask each team member to share thoughts on improving performance in the future: What would they change? Which steps could have been streamlined? Were any of the steps unnecessary? Were any steps overlooked? Are any procedures archaic…performed simply because they’ve always done it that way? Is a technology update in order? Was there any overlap or redundancy among team members’ jobs?

You may be surprised at the constructive feedback you receive.  Employees also appreciate that you value their opinions and suggestions, and that you’re willing to make changes that solidify future team efforts.

Contact me today to discuss how we can partner together to help develop your leaders and teams: email or call me at 858-638-8260.

  On Sale Now

Seven Disciplines of a Leader

  • Named One of the 11 Most Thought- Provoking Leadership Books of the Year 
  • Named One of 3 Books Small Business Owners & Leaders Should Read
  • Named one of 3 books to read by KYW-AM Philadelphia
  • “…like hiring a business coach; it will help you build leadership skills, improve your decision-making and become a more effective leader.” –Small Business Forum
  • “The great value of this book is found in his explanation of the “how” and “why.” In my opinion, the information, insights, and counsel he provides can be of incalculable value to middle managers who aspire to become leaders. Also, to those now preparing for a career in business or who have only recently embarked on one. There is another constituency to which I also highly recommend this book: Owner/CEOs of small to midsize, privately-owned companies who are eager to strengthen their skills in one or more of the areas that Wolf explores.” –Blogging on Business
  • “……is going to become a leadership classic. You’ll mark up every page you read as you spot valuable principles.” – Pat Williams, Co-founder and Senior Vice President of the NBA’s Orlando Magic
  • “…..describes state-of-the-art techniques that leaders at any level of the organization can use to improve their performance. His remarkable advice is sensible, easy to understand, and noteworthy.” -Marshall Goldsmith, author of the NY Times and global bestsellers: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, MOJO and Triggers.
  • “….delivers major benefits for its readers. It very effectively demonstrates how to build core leadership skills, improve decision making, interpersonal relations, and teamwork skills and reveals techniques of highly effective and dynamic leaders.” -Edgar Tu, former President, Home Entertainment of America, Sony Electronics
  • “….has given us a comprehensive list of the many ways that the aspiring or current manager can sharpen his leadership skills in order to be able to compete effectively in today’s challenging business environment.” – John A. Warden III, Colonel, USAF (retired) and author of Winning in Fast Time
  • “….he has laid out a flight plan to guide you through both blue skies and turbulence to achieve your leadership goals. He shows how successful leaders continue to learn and grow….reading it and absorbing its lessons will imbue you with the courage and confidence it takes to become a great leader. Consider it a flight plan to support you team and you en route to your destinations” – Howard Putnam, Former CEO Southwest Airlines and Braniff International
  • “…insightful and straightforward, a book you can put to use immediately. This book is not theory, it’s action.  Real case studies lead to real takeaways you can practice now.  Whether you are a new or experience leader, this book will make you better!” – Andrew Field, CEO, Printing for Less.com
  • “…is a seminal book on leadership in business, a groundbreaking study that leaders in any line of work can use to increase their effectiveness on the job. Its penetrating insights will be helpful for frontline supervisors, managers, and chief executive officers alike.” – Dale Sohn, former President and CEO, Samsung Telecommunications America

 All proceeds go to our wounded service men and women.

How Visions Become Shared

How do individual visions become shared visions?  A useful metaphor is the hologram, the three-dimensional image created by interacting light sources.  If you cut a photograph in half, each half shows only part of the whole image.  But if you divide a hologram, each part, no matter how small, shows the whole image intact.

Likewise, when a group of people comes together to share a vision, each person sees an individual picture of the organization at its best.  Each shares responsibility for the whole, not just for one piece.  But the component pieces of the holograms are not identical.  Each represents the whole image from a different point of view.  It’s something like poking holes in a window shade; each hole offers a unique angle for viewing the whole image.  So, too, is each individual’s vision unique.

When you add up the pieces of a hologram, the image become more intense, more lifelike.  When more people share a vision, the vision becomes a mental reality that people can truly imagine achieving.  They now have partners, cocreators; the vision no longer rests on their shoulders alone.  Early on, people may claim it as their vision.  But, as the shared vision develops, it becomes everybody’s vision.

Building a shared vision involves these five useful skills:

  1. Encouraging personal vision. Shared visions emerge from  personal visions.  It is not that people only care about their own self-interest; in fact, people’s values usually include dimensions that concern family, organizations, community, and even the world.  Rather, it is that people’s capacity for caring is personal.

 

  1. Communicating and asking for support. Leaders must share their own vision continually, rather than being the official representative of the corporate vision. They also must ask: Is this vision worthy of your commitment? This is hard for people used to setting goals and presuming compliance.

 

  1. Visioning as an ongoing process. Many managers want to dispense with the vision business by writing the official vision statement.  Such statements often lack the vitality, freshness, and excitement of a genuine vision that come from people asking: What do we really want to achieve?

 

  1. Blending extrinsic and intrinsic visions. Many energizing visions are extrinsic, focusing on achieving something relative to a competitor. But a goal that is limited to defeating an opponent can, once the vision is achieved, easily become a defensive posture.  In contrast, intrinsic goals, such as creating a new product, taking an old product to a new level, or setting a new standard for customer satisfaction, elicit more creativity and innovation.  Intrinsic and extrinsic visions need to coexist; a vision solely predicated on defeating an adversary will weaken an organization.

 

  1. Distinguishing positive from negative visions. Many organizations only pull together when their survival is threatened. Similarly, most social movements aim to eliminate what people don’t want; thus, we see antidrugs, antismoking, or antinuclear arms movement. Negative visions tend to be short-term and carry a message of powerlessness.