Archive for Leadership

Strategic Planning – The Map to Results

Strategic Planning Improves Results with Consistent Implementation

Strategic planning only helps organizations when they are kept active and implemented.  The strategic plan defines the business direction.  That direction is based on the future, the vision of the company.  Before an effective strategic plan can be developed a clear and compelling vision is needed.

Visions are optimistic, the ideal picture of the future.  The strategic plan that results from the leadership team’s strategic planning, is the map to that vision and then it is only effective if it is implemented.

Strategic plans can sound intimidating and overwhelming to many small business owners.  The most effective strategic plans are those that are simple, completed with the leadership team and key people in the company.  Complex documents that consume excessive amounts of time to create don’t guarantee success.  In fact, the large and cumbersome strategic plan can be so overwhelming that it just doesn’t work.  Strategic planning sessions that go on and on for months also fail because so much time is consumed in the planning and the implementation, which is the key, is pushed aside.  The goal to have the perfect strategic plan doesn’t produce results.  Instead, the team that engages in strategic planning and produces a good working document is more likely to succeed.

To create your strategic plan:

Start with vision.  Write down what you envision for the future.  What does the future of your business look like?  What do you want for the future? Vision stories are inspiring, it’s your dream.  Once you have created your vision you can begin building strategies.

The vision is the destination, where you are going.  The strategies are the map that gets you to the vision.  Company values are the guide or the “compass” in our map metaphor for making decisions along the way.  Values keep you oriented and in alignment.  When values are out of alignment the company is off track; not moving in the direction of the vision.

Strategic goals can be limited to the top 6-10.  By having fewer goals the plan is able to stay alive and in front of you and the team.  By alive, it means that the plan is always where you can see it, use it and keep working on it.  It means that the team is focused on the strategic goals at all times, talking about them, brainstorming on them and reporting to each other their successes and challenges.

To set strategies for your business first look at the vision, the different aspects of the vision. Brainstorm all of the goals, all of the strategies for each aspect of the vision.  With brainstorming it is important to get all of the ideas out and write them down without judging them or editing them.  Often the best idea comes from an idea that at first look seemed too wild or crazy.  Ideas jump off of other ideas.

Once you have brainstormed all of the possible goals, prioritize them. Often strategic goals can be grouped with similar strategies.  This can help in the prioritization process.  The goal is to narrow the list down to the top 6-10 strategies.  What are the goals or strategies that will give your business the future you envision, that will create a breakthrough that will produce the results that you want?  Those are the goals that you should be selecting as top priorities.

Creating a powerful strategic plan is just one of the first steps.  Many organizations have strategic plans that are well thought out and crafted.  Where they fall short is in the implementation of that plan.

Implementation is the key.  If you fail to implement, the results will not be what you set out to achieve.

Implementation is the result of focused and continuous action.  Strategic plans don’t just happen on their own: they require your attention.  By keeping the plan in front of you and the team responsible for the plan, focus is maintained.  Regular meetings about the plan also keep the plan moving in the right direction.  Check-in meetings hold people accountable.  When teams don’t meet and don’t keep their eye on the plan, the day to day interferes and the status quo remains.  In order to make changes in the results that you achieve there has to be intention and commitment on the part of the team. The check-in meeting gives the team the opportunity to review what is happening, what is interfering with the results they want and need and make the changes necessary to change the outcomes.  Through the intention of the leadership, the plan and the team, the culture of the workplace can shift from one of non-performance to one of performance focused.

Performance focused companies are companies that are thriving. The energy of high performing teams shifts the energy of the whole organization.  It becomes more positive and contagious.  People become excited about the vision, the plan and their implementation of the plan.  Results create energy and excitement that keeps the plan moving, it propels the plan and the ultimate results of the company.

Organizations that produce results have a clear vision of the future; have a plan that is simple and strategic; and they work on the plan all the time.  Their actions are designed to move that plan forward.  They don’t let themselves or others get in the way. Through effective strategic planning and by implementing the strategic plan organizations achieve results.

Lessons Learned or NOT?

Do you ever have something happen and think, damn, I thought I had learned that lesson??

Well, it just happened.

I wrote a great article.  The computer, coughed and the article (unsaved) was gone!!

I searched for it.  Not recovered.

My mind, well, the article is there, but not nearly as good as the first.

I’ve learned this lesson before.  Actually, several times.  I know that as soon as I create a document, I need to save it.  I also know, I should look at every document that is in the recovered documents folder before I delete them.
Well, there you go.  Gone.

Have you learned this lesson?  I know I have.  But somehow the old habit remains.  I continue to create documents and write without saving.  I teach this lesson to my kids.  Because it has happened to them with homework.

SAVE.  That is the lesson!  LEARN once and practice the learning.

What lessons have you learned?  What makes the lesson stick?  what gets in the way of learning it for good?

EnVision 2016

When You Fail To Envision the future…. can you really take the right actions to get you there?

summitVision + Action = Results

I have been a long time believer in vision.  Not so much in the law of attraction working on its own, but I do believe that without a clear vision, it makes it hard to create the right strategic plan to get you to that vision.

I found that when I biked across the country. It was the strong vision of biking across the country that gave me the direction for creating a bike route and a plan.  If I just set out to bike for 6 months I could have stayed home and ridden with the bike club in circles — round and round.

That clear vision allowed me to create a strategic plan that we focused on implementing.  The results — a route across the country, places to stay each night, 10 service project locations across the country and lots of places to visit and see.

I use this as a metaphor for business.  In business, your vision is what drives you.  Sharing that vision, expanding the vision all contribute to your ability to create strategies for success.

When the vision is unclear or non existent it is hard to really grow your business.  You can perhaps keep it going on a day to day — riding in circles fashion.  But to really grow you have to be aiming at something — clear and compelling.

That vision drives your actions.

Each year, I take some time to look at my vision, to review it and refine it and create that new strategic plan for the upcoming year!

It isn’t about New Year’s resolutions.  It is about — a clear and compelling vision for the future.

I offer a complimentary webinar each year for my contacts as well — called EnVision 2016.  It is usually fun…

Bring your colored markers, paper, pen and enthusiasm and take an hour to create your vision for 2o16.

Register HERE

Undercover Boss — What Could You Learn?

undercoverbossWhat Can You Learn From Your Staff?

The new season of Undercover Boss premiers this Sunday.  When the show first started I didn’t watch… seemed goofy.  Then I caught an episode and was impressed.

Granted it is TV.  But there are real lessons there.

Each time I am able to watch — I learn something.  I see what could be learned by business leaders IF they were connecting with their front line staff.  It really is about “walking the floor”, so to speak.  Being in touch and really communicating.

Frontline staff KNOW what is happening within your organization.  They know what works and they are frustrated by what doesn’t work.  Often they are more frustrated that their input is not asked for or taken seriously.

Frontline staff can most often save organizations thousands of dollars… and in big companies probably millions.

In one episode the boss learned that the online reservation software didn’t communicate with the front desk software.  Customers that had made their reservation online had to wait up to a half hour to checkin while desk staff worked on getting the online information and inputting into their front desk software.  Now, I know you can see some problems here — customers are frustrated; staff are frustrated and efficiency is totally undermined.  Fixing this problem — improves the flow of checkin, saves tremendous time, makes customers happier and front desk staff are smiling.  That is just good for business!

So, how can you get this information if you aren’t one of the chosen to be on Undercover Boss?

1. Create a safe environment for staff to give you input.  It is valuable information.  Creative, learning organizations should always be evaluating how they operate and do business to improve. If staff feel threatened if they give feedback then you will never hear it.

2. Get your head out of it: Some organizations have leaders that have so much EGO in the game that they cannot hear anything from staff. This is extremely detrimental the overall operation of the organization. Staffs have such valuable information.  They have great ideas on how to streamline operations.  They see what is coming down the pike and can be helpful in planning or project management.  And most often they are also very loyal — even when they are treated poorly — not appreciated — and not empowered.

How Would Your Organization Change?

If you empowered people? If you asked for input and took it?  If leaders weren’t control freaks?

3. Empower your staff to be leaders.  Many organizations are seeing incredible results when staff are empowered to take personal responsibility for their job.

4. Talk to people.  Walk the floor.  Let people know who you are.  Listen more than talk and hear what their ideas are and give them credit for them. DO NOT be so small that you take ideas and credit.  Your staff will continuously improve your operations when you value their input and opinions.

Being a leader is challenging, no doubt.  But being a leader that stands all alone and doesn’t include a team creates an environment that will not produce the results that he/she is truly going for!

Undercover Boss: Great Wolf Lodge

Micro-Managing vs. Employee Empowerment

Micro Managing Your Staff Creates Negative Results

What Would Change In Your Workplace If YOU Stopped Micro Managing?

The leader that micro-manages his or her team, might be sacrificing bottom line results and team performance for that control. Control is hard to give up when you are the leader or manager.  You just have that feeling that others won’t do it as well as you, or that if you don’t make every decision, mistakes will be made.  To some extent that is true.  When you think back to your own journey you can probably find a few mistakes that you made along the way.  They were lessons that have guided your ultimate success.  Empowering your staff gives them responsibility and opens up the possibilities of mistakes and new lessons.  Part of the leader’s responsibility is training staff to take on responsibility.  The other part is letting go of the micro level control and empowering staff to do things, perhaps differently than you would and perhaps better!

When leaders have to have control over each detail they slow operations down, they demoralize the staff and decrease performance.  Staff Have ideas, insights into the day to day operations of companies.  They can anticipate problems and see ways to overcome them.  They know the tasks that need to get done and can schedule those to fit into the team’s workload more effectively.  When leaders don’t empower their staff the results are poorer.  But the results are even direr than that.  Demoralized staff doesn’t stay forever.  They look for other options.  They seek positions where there are opportunities for growth and increased responsibility.

Self-Reflect To Overcome Micro Managing

The micro-manger needs to do some self-reflection to identify why they need control.  What is holding them back from letting their staff shine and take the lead?  Often it is their own confidence and the need to recognition.  Confident and self-assured leaders can give over the reins to their staff.

Micro managing undermines your goals and vision.  While be a control freak might feel like the right path, it will eventually undo you.

Schedule a strategy session with me to help you determine how you can shift from micro-manager to empowering leader.

Using Adventure Based Team Building For IMPROVING Results

Adventure Based Team Building Remains HIGHLY Effective in Creating LONG Lasting Change
an aerial view of a rowing crew in action.

Adventure activities for team building remain highly effective.  Part of what I love about using adventure based or experiential activities is that they get staff out of their typical environment.  Suddenly we are talking about group dynamics in a novel environment. The playing field is level.  Experiential adventure basedteambuilding activities for teams helps to identify the group dynamics quickly for the facilitator.  The communication styles of participants quickly emerge.  The natural leaders step forward.  The over bearing employee stands out.  The quiet and shy individual that has great ideas that are rarely heard appears.

As the group moves through different activities, they start to recognize the strengths and challenges that exist within the group.  Most are related to communication and the interaction dynamics between people.  The insights that are gained are valuable, but the big challenge for all team building is taking the lessons learned back to the workplace.

How does real change take place?  Learning is inspiring and exciting immediately following the team building event.  As time goes on old behavior re-emerges and the lessons learned are forgotten or put on the shelf.  It takes a committed leader to keep the team focused on their new commitment to different team dynamics.


This comes back to the team building event itself.  If the facilitator does not help team members to truly identify new behaviors and outline them in a concrete and usable way they will quickly fade away.  Creating a plan for sustained growth and development with ongoing follow up with an outside facilitator really ensures team change.  Change takes time to happen and long lasting change has ups and downs.  The outside facilitator helps the team to recognize when they are slipping back into old paradigms and old patterns of behavior.

Holding people accountable to change is important and it is not always effective within the team, although the team plays a major role in making change.

Adventure based team building is a tool for effective skill development.

It is most effective with ongoing follow up with the original facilitator to ensure that new behaviors and strategies are implemented long term.  Team building as a one shot event has benefits but they are short term and do not endure over time.

Benefits of Empowering Employees

Group of diverse business colleagues enjoying successEmpowering employees can have multiple positive benefits to the workplace.  Employees can take the lead on projects and tasks and free up the manager or leader to do other things.  The leader often has the responsibility of growing the company. When they tie themselves up in the day to day operations they remove themselves from this important task.  Growing the company, getting out and acquiring new projects, new clients and visioning greater success are all part of being the CEO or leader.  Employees can take on the day to day operations of organizations.

Empowering employees is good for morale.

When managers have to control every aspect of an employee’s work it is demoralizing to the employee.  When staff make suggestions or put forth ideas and they are never accepted or considered, or have to be the idea of the manger or leader, then employees stop making suggestions.  Staff do not work for pay alone.  Work conditions play a major role in staff satisfaction and performance.  When staff are in a situation where they have little control, are not acknowledged for their work or ideas then their performance suffers.  The results for the team or the company are negative.  Turn-over increases and the costs to organization are impacted.

Empowering means giving up some control, but does not mean that the organization runs wild. Staff have great ideas.  It is gold.  They see ways to improve operations, get things done faster, easier for less cost.  The misconception of the micro manager is that only they care about the company.  When true leaders share their vision and passion for the company, employees can embrace that vision and passion as well. When that leader then empowers the employees to do great work, results can soar.

As the leader or CEO you can set up communication systems that empower employees and at the same time keep you informed and in the loop.  But you do need to follow through and let employees make decisions and not take back all control when you are informed of staff decisions.

Empowering instead of micro managing will result in better organizational results and free you, the leader up to further grow the organization.

Leadership Fails Students in Rutgers Basketball Coach Bullying Incident

Rutgers Basketball Coach Incident
Bullying Within Schools and Workplaces Is Just NOT Tolerable

Leadership Fails Rutgers Students

Leaders Fail to Take Strong Action At Rutgers University


Coaching Staff for Success Author takes position on Rutgers Basketball Coach bullying incident.

The video released by ESPN displaying the behavior of the Rutgers Basketball Coach demonstrate a total failure of the University Athletic Director and University Leadership to protect students from bullying on the part of staff.  Bullying goes beyond student to student interactions.  When students are bullied by teachers, coaches or leaders, action must be clear and strong.  The University leadership failed in several aspects.  Business leaders can learn valuable lessons from their failings that translate to the workplace as bullies continue to work in leadership positions throughout organizations worldwide.

One question is whether any student or assistant coach or other staff member ever raised concerns previously regarding the actions of this coach.  It would be surprising that the recent video was the first time this behavior was recognized as inappropriate and abusive, further exacerbating the situation.

Organizations should have strong policies for incident management and review.  Leadership needs to evaluate bullying situations quickly and swiftly and include their incident review system. Public relations can impact outcomes but should it dictate the outcome?  The organization policies need to address managing public relations but the organizations policies should be strong and values driven. The actions of the Rutgers Basketball Coach are not a demonstration of acceptable coaching practices, they are abusive, bullying actions that should not be tolerated in a University environment or work environment.

Bullying falls into harassment policy within an organization but need to go beyond employees to include clients or customers, vendors and others.  The Rutgers University Basketball Coach incident would be kin to clients or customers being bullied.  How would you, as the leader, handle an employee that was bullying your clients? Does your organization include bullying in your policies at all?  Is training provided within your harassment policy training?  Are you assuming because you are in a workplace that bullying does not happen that it is just a childhood phenomenon?

As a manager and leader you should be reacting strongly to this incident and reviewing your own policies.  Within my work experience, I worked with staff that worked directly with our clients; people with disabilities; this behavior would be viewed and handled as client abuse.  The person would be on immediate suspension pending an investigation.  The investigation would then become part of the incident report and the review committee would be involved in determining the disciplinary action.  There could also be legal action. Founded cases of client abuse would result in immediate termination.  It is not tolerable.  Why a University would continue to employ a coach that physically abused his players (students of the University) is unbelievable.

Leaders and staff within organizations need training on bullying and the policies of the organization for dealing with situations that involve bullying of clients (students), staff or others.  Bullying  of anyone connected to the organization should not be tolerated.

The Rutgers case is a public relations nightmare for the University but taking right action at the beginning would have prevented the severe backlash they are now experiencing including strong statements by NJ Governor Christie.  A strong incident management policy and review would have prevented this.  When decisions are left to individuals outside of policy it leaves organizations vulnerable.  Every incident management policy should include a category for sensitive situations.  These are defined any situation that has potential ramifications to the organization.

Take action for your company:

  • Review your incident management policy be sure that it includes a category for sensitive situations.
  • Review your harassment or bullying policies
  • Train your leaders and staff on your policies
  • Manage any incidents that arise quickly and ethically

 What Level of Bullying Does Your Organization Tolerate?

Bullying with organizations cannot be tolerated by leaders and especially cannot be the action on part of leaders.  When bullying occurs, the organization leadership must take strong action that is consistent whether or not the media is involved.  Media backlash should not be a result of inaction.  When you have a strong policy that deals effectively with incidents occur there is less room for a media reaction because you have gotten in front of the incident, dealt with it and your actions followed good policy.

In a state where bullying has been a public issue that has resulted in the strongest anti-bullying laws in the country, Rutgers failed to follow good management practice.

Leadership Radio: Yikes! Performance Appraisals

Are you dreading performance appraisals?

Listen to today’s show to learn important strategies for building a coaching environment in your organization.  Coaching staff can improve overall business results, staff performance and team performance.  When managers learn to coach their staff, business results change.

Listen to internet radio with Compass Rose Leadership on Blog Talk Radio

Leadership Navigator Radio: Bullies at Work

Leadership Navigator Radio

Today we discussed bullies at work, whether they are staff members, managers or leaders themselves, the bullying behavior needs to be addressed.

Some of the steps recommended:

  1. Listen to staff that inform you of bullying
  2. Listen on the workfloor
  3. Observe
  4. Take Action
  5. Create a corrective action plan with the staff member
  6. Follow Up Regularly and Consistently.

Bullying cannot be tolerated in the workplace.  If you are the leader, you need to create strategies to address bullying behavior.


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Listen to the full show.