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Play, Minecraft and Better Leadership

play, minecraft, leadershipWhile I have written a lot about how the CEO Mindset supports better management of stress and relationships with others, the inclusion of play has been neglected. Certainly downtime can include meditation and breathing, reading a good book or chatting with friends and family. And yet, play is an underrated way of refreshing yourself and even honing skills you can use in your leadership and management.

Lessons from Minecraft

My kids have been playing Minecraft for some time now and they talked me into playing with them. While I have not built anything  even close to elaborate, I am enjoying playing with my kids as well as creating in my own worlds. If you are not familiar with Minecraft, it is a sandbox game in which you can create your own structures and even worlds by playing by yourself or with others. You use resources and tools to do everything from building a simple house, farming, exploring, magic and, in certain modes, fight monsters. It gets as sophisticated as your imagination allows.

The one thing I have discovered in every Minecraft world that I have played is that preparation is everything, particularly in Survival mode (in Survival mode, you have to find or craft what you need or want and monsters are an ever-present danger). Here are some of the things I’ve noticed while playing the game:

  • Timing- With only 10 minutes of daytime, you have to think about what you are going to do and when. Nighttime is dark, even without the monsters on. Like time boxing your business quarter’s objectives, you have to think about your overall strategies and goals and act accordingly.
  • The unexpected- It is a very dynamic game with all sort of things moving in the background. Sometimes the unexpected is hazardous while other times it is serendipitous. Like the business environment, you have to remain alert for both opportunities and risks.
  • Limitations- Minecraft works in a system of blocks so you have to build things in squares and rectangles. There are also the moments when you don’t have enough of a particular item. Small to mid-sized businesses have to think around limitations such as limited capital and other resources frequently.
  • Awareness of inventory- Knowing what supplies and tools you have makes building and exploring more manageable. It also supports the planning process of when to go get more of a particular resource or craft new tools. This aspect is applicable to your business, even if you are leading a business that offers services.
  •  Imagination- In Minecraft, you start in a brand-new world and you can make it into anything. Perhaps you want to build a simple farm or an elaborate palace. Either way, it starts with a vision of what your world will ultimately be. Even in established businesses, there is a moment when it is time to renew or change direction. The vision in your strategic plan starts in your imagination.

Simply put, Minecraft can be another way to practice skills you use in your business without the responsibility that comes with leading a business.

Minecraft and beyond

It is easy to underestimate how important play is to our ability to lead others. On the face of it, you might think that it is a waste of time. It does not make money nor does it get mundane tasks done. It does not even seem terribly inspiring. However recent trends and research are highlighting that adults need to engage in plain old fun. There are concerns that we are creating more emotional difficulties or handicapping innovation by limiting how much our children and adults play. You may have even heard of the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” We sharpen our mindsets and abilities while having fun. If we go beyond Minecraft and other video games, we really see that play (sports, recreational activities, hobbies, etc) is a cornerstone to how leaders manage their power stress, understand their world, test themselves and let their imaginations run wild.

The business environment offers us many challenges. Building our ability to be flexible, creative and healthy is crucial to effective leadership.  Play, whether is it Minecraft or something else, is another valid way to nourish the CEO Mindset and lead our organizations better.

 What have you learned from Minecraft?

What kind of play do you engage in?

 

 

 

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CEO Mindset-Could You Kill Your Darlings?

strategic sacrifice, business, CEO MindsetSmall businesses are often touted as being nimble or agile in their response to market and industry changes. And this is true to an extent as long as the decision maker(s) are willing to manage their uncertainty and be honest with themselves.  For many leaders and their teams, it means asking difficult questions and risking conflict.

*Jane and the darlings

One of my clients (we’ll call her Jane although that is not her real name) has recently taken on the role of CEO in her family’s manufacturing company. The company is currently experiencing a slowdown despite having products that sell well. Jane wants to steer the company away from the piecemeal approach they have taken with e-commerce and target specific customer segments that are more likely to be profitable and play to the company’s current strengths.  In a recent team meeting, the response was mixed. On one hand, the company could use the revenue. On the other hand, the current e-commerce strategy  does not produce predictable sales. It  ties up energy and resources that could be devoted to marketing to more specific customer segments who are more likely to create sustainable revenues. And yet…there is an emotional attachment to this e-commerce approach.

But that is not all. Part of the team has been invested in landing a major distributor in their industry. The big win will make a huge difference in the bottom line. There has been some connection made but nothing concrete. It is so tantalizing to continue to approach this big distributor.

Maybe the darlings have to go

Jane’s dilemma is guiding the team to take a hard look at the current ecommerce strategy and the not-quite relationship with the big distributor and ask if it is really worth the small percentage of income it produces or the hope of income. It is not the information. In black and white, it is clear that focusing only on specific target customer segments will position the company better and increase revenues. The team has to decide whether sacrificing either the ecommerce part of the business, letting go of the uncertain relationship with the big distributor or both are the best strategic choices.

In John R. Bell’s book, Do Less, Better: The Power of Strategic Sacrifice In a Complex World, he writes about making short-term strategic sacrifices to set the stage for long-term growth and sustainability. In fact, he writes about how he had to eliminate a line of products (a money-making one, in fact!) to simplify and focus his company’s growth during a turnaround. A gutsy move that paid off!  While logically one might see how a particular course of action is not producing a certain result, there is still the emotional side with which to contend. The catch here is that making a gutsy move is one choice and could be the best choice but it is also the scariest and most uncertain. This emotional stuff is where most of us get stuck.

3 Common obstacles that prevent us from strategic sacrifices

We have certain cognitive biases that create blinders and they are fueled by emotions. You may have even noticed them in yourself and called them mental blocks. They are the same thing. We experience a moment when we simply cannot conceive of another way.

  • Sunk cost fallacy. I’ve written about this one before but it has a way of convincing us to continue a product line or a course of action simply because we have invested so much time, money and/or energy. There is a sense that “I gotta see this through” even when it is obviously unsustainable.
  • Don’t want to get it wrong. Also known as loss aversion. We actually perceive loss in similar ways to how we perceive physical pain. It is much more difficult to let go of something that is almost working. It is even more difficult to let go of something that is working. Pruning away certain revenue lines might feel painfully risky.
  • Overconfidence.   You may have too much faith in yourself and/or your team so you follow the path that nothing much has to change and it is just a hiccup. Simply put,  you (or your team) disregard new information because it does fit your mindset. Another client of mine has a tendency to tell me that he has led his company through turbulent times before and balks when I suggest that there are different circumstances in the current situation that need to be taken into account.

It is not that people want to make bad or shortsighted decisions. When it comes to getting rid of something you are emotionally invested in, it is tricky to circumvent our habitual thinking.

Do you kill your darlings or hold onto them?

Your emotions are going to play a role in how you choose whether a product line or service is terminated even if it is clearly time to stop and determine what still fits the business goals and the current vision. There may be products or services that were the lifeblood for the company in the early days or they may have taken so much energy, time and resources that you want  them to pay you back.  They could be the pet project of someone high up in the company. It may even simply be inertia that keeps certain products or services in place. Think of those as a kind of “we’ve always had them and people still buy them.” All of these become your darlings over time. Another thing that keeps people  holding onto their darlings is the feeling that any revenue is better than no revenue during turbulent times.

Some questions to get you started in evaluating your darlings

The most natural time to have these conversations is during your quarterly reviews. You are already evaluating the progress of the business goals. Another time that makes sense is when you are beginning a transition of some kind.

  • What are the darlings in our products and services?
  • How much does each one contribute to current business goals?
  • Why are we still offering them?
  • If we didn’t have them, what would the company be offering instead?
  • What emotions and thoughts do you notice when you ask these questions?
  • What actions do we need to take now?

The discussion these questions should prompt will not be comfortable. Remember we put an emotional investment into these particular products and services. Our fears of change, failure, success, consequences and punishment as well as potentially disappointing or angering others are triggered when we start to critically think about the darlings. However, without even asking the questions, you may be stifling innovation and inviting stagnation. Sure, there is a risk of alienating someone or even choosing the wrong action. Leaders who use the CEO Mindset tolerate the discomfort and consciously choose what stays and what goes.

What would you do if you were Jane and her team?

How have you examined your darlings? What was the result?

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Feel Like You Have No Time? Try These 6 Tactics

Managing your time when your day is filled with meetings, work on specific projects, business development and the inevitable interruptions is one of  the biggest challenges my clients report. All of  the leaders I coach are the CEO-type person in their small to mid-sized company so the demands on their time and energy are simply part of the day-to-Task Management, organization, leadersday experience. They often discover that it is not really about managing their time but more about managing the tasks.

When everything is important, where do you begin?

Leading a company comes with certain responsibilities. It is no secret that time is limited and there is plenty to do. Instead of managing your time, think about managing your tasks. It is a good time to use the CEO Mindset© and note what are true priorities, opportunities to delegate and what needs to be postponed no matter how exciting it seems at the time.

Living example

Matt (not his real name) is the president of his small company. They do a combination of research for private companies and governmental agencies plus develop products from their research. On any given day, Matt could be contributing his technical expertise, meeting with potential investors, overseeing the project managers, following up with the manufacturing of prototypes, meeting with customers or dealing with the administrative parts of small company. The list goes on and on.

One of Matt’s challenges is that he is not a natural checklist kind of guy. He certainly is aware that organizing his time makes a difference to his direct reports and to the financial growth of the business. A part of our coaching has been to find his best method that balance his natural tendencies with getting his work done.

Does Matt’s story sound familiar?

The particulars may vary from one leader to another but the experience is still often reported. It is easy for everything to feel important. There are many important tasks that need to be done. So you could fill your time with trying to do them all. Or you could do something more organized and focused. Productivity is less about time and more about working smart.

  • The Pomodoro Method- This is a simple method of focusing on a task needs only one piece of equipment…a timer. Set your timer for 20-25 minutes and simply focus on one task or one part of task. When the timer sounds, you end there or set the timer for another 20-25 minutes and resume your task. Great for working around those interruptions and meetings!
  • Be absolutely strict with setting priority tasks- Not everything has to be done in one week nor even in the current month. Identify what is truly a high priority task and focus your plan on that. You can follow this by moving other items up the priority list as tasks are completed.
  • Delegate, delegate, delegate- This cannot be said enough to leaders of small to mid-sized businesses (I’ve written about this before). You have been a hands-on person because you had to be but your company needs something different now. Identify which tasks you must do or are best suited for and give the rest to the appropriate team or staff member. Take it from one of my clients, you don’t have to be only person who knows where to find the Ice-Melt.
  • Apps on your smartphone, tablet or laptop- There are some great tools out there like Trello, Asana or EverNote that provide ways to track your tasks and tasks assigned to others.
  • Use a sticky note with 3-5 daily (or even weekly) tasks- Sometimes handwriting your list is a more effective reminder than an app. The downside to using an app is that it can be out of sight, out of mind. Using a sticky note to your laptop or some other prominent place is a visual reminder and the act of writing can be a memory aid as well.
  • Use a task log like the CEO Mindset© Task Management Log- Kudos to Matt for inspiring this tool! It is also a handwritten way to keep yourself on task. This month-long organizer enables the user to keep track of both the tasks you are responsible for and any tasks assigned to a member of your team or staff. To use the log, you write in all of the tasks you are organizing. Then you note who is designated to complete the task, if you have to provide an accountability check in and check if it is due this week, next week or by the end of the month. There is a final category which denotes when the task is completed. Post this somewhere highly visible so it is a visual reminder. You can download a version of the CEO Mindset Task Management Log here.

As with all of the tools, avoid biting off more than you can actually manage. They are all about setting priorities. When everything is important, you must identify which things are more important than others. Another caveat is the number of tasks you assign yourself. Just this week, Matt identified 8 things on his weekly list. When I asked him about them, he explained that four of them were simple progress updates. Most of the time ( and most of us) manage three to five priority tasks per week. Whenever possible, set up tasks into chunks of work so you can easily work on something and walk away when necessary.

Less about time management and more about task management

This cannot be said enough. Choose a tool that makes sense to you (modify it if it helps) and make it a practice. Matt has discovered that he is much more focused and clear about what tasks he must do. He has also discovered more clarity about what can be delegated. Another plus for Matt is that it has strengthened his ability to see what is on the short term horizon so deadlines not surprise him. Growing a small to mid-sized business takes concentration and effective decision making. Using a tool that supports better task management will support you staying fresh, alert and organized.

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CEO Mindset: Are You Developing the Right Skills?

How do business owners/ executives encourage or even inspire their team without being a good model? According to a recent survey conducted by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, only 9% of their executive respondents chose “practices self-development” as their primary skill a leader needs. Becoming CEO of your small organization is a process of learning and developing as you understand your changing role, the roles of your team members and how the business works relies heavily on your ability to develop yourself. New challenges crop up all the time. Self-development is happening, one way or another.

James* (not his real name) is typical of many small business leaders. He was telling me in a coaching session that he was having difficulty moving out of his typical “I’m one of the team” style to one where he is out of the office meeting potential partners, looking at possible acquisitions and prospective higher level customers. He is excited about where the company is going but he is feeling a little strange supporting his team as they become the safety net for current customers and day-to-day operations. James, like a lot of blossoming CEOs, is discovering that his communications skills need some enhancing so his focus is on identifying his expectations, how he influences the corporate culture through his actions and words and making sure his messages are clear.

Is self-development misunderstood?

You may have read that meditation is the latest leadership and management “thing.” It is easy to imagine that self-development is only about deepening your self-understanding through some sort of esoteric process. However, it is something you can do on a daily basis that goes beyond the latest fad or even deep self-exploration. The kinds of skills needed by business owners/ executives often depends on the company’s growth plan. Like many of my clients, James is learning how to delegate some of his responsibilities to particular team members. To accomplish this, he had to identify his beliefs about where he fits into his organization, how he trusts his team and determining the strengths and weaknesses of his team and staff. This is all self-development (and he is learning quite a lot about himself along the way).

Four questions for self-development

Whether you are the sort of person who seeks out self-understanding on a deep level or not, there are probably skills that you would like to build up so you can be the best leader of your company. Frequently, the specific areas that a business owner/ executive targets for improvement are tied into the business goals. That saying from Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you won’t get you there” is a good reminder that each stage of your company will teach and enlighten you. Simply put, old behaviors don’t always get the same results and can even lead to failure. These four questions are a good conversation to have with yourself:

  • Who am I?
  • Where am I going?
  • Why am I going there?
  • Who is going with me?

Becoming a leader is an evolutionary process. Discovering how your thinking and feeling grows and adapts over time makes it easier to notice which skills need attention. This is all part of the CEO Mindset.

Are you developing the right skills?

Embracing the role of CEO is often one of accepting that you are a steward. Sure, you might be a key part of business development or a sponsor of a potentially innovative product. But your role is more the Shaper than the  Actor.  The “right” skill for you may be accepting the role of steward and dropping role of  technical expert or it could be speaking less and listening more. The “right” skill may be improving your presentation skills so you can pitch effectively to investors or a more sophisticated customer. Identifying and learning the skills you need for the next stage of your business will support your team and staff staying focused on the business goals and doing what they do best.

Related posts: What Stories Do You Tell Yourself While Growing Your Business?

Using the CEO Mindset For Smarter Communication

6 Ways SME Leader’s Role Changes When Growing Internationally

 

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CEO Mindset: Are You Contagious?

CEO Mindset, emotional contagion, neuroscience, Imagine you start your day in a terrific mood. The birds are singing, the sun is shining and you are looking forward to today’s client meetings. Then, you meet the office curmudgeon on the way in and have a conversation. Suddenly, the day isn’t quite so wonderful or your work so engaging. What happened?

 You caught the bad mood

Yes, seriously. People have this ability to both sense and take on another person’s mood and it is called emotional contagion. It can work both positively and negatively. While this may seem a bit on the strange side, consider this. Humans are social animals so we have the ability to read both verbal and nonverbal cues. This includes empathy and other aspects of social connectedness. Research since the 1700′s has noted that people will unconsciously adopt the posture, tone of voice, facial expressions and other outward signs of emotions. It seems that the nonverbal cues, including micro-expressions, are the most powerful and we will mimic or synchronize ourselves to match another person.

Recent neuroscience research

Curiously, we have a section of our brain called the insular cortex (which is in the cerebral cortex which is located in the front of your brain) which is thought to be responsible for perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning and interpersonal connectedness.  Since our brains work so quickly, we are often unaware of how well we can both sense and blend ourselves in relation to another person’s behavior. Essentially, humans are wired to note both subtle and overt clues to begin, maintain and grow our social connectedness.

What does this mean for business owners and executives?

If you are a business owner and/or an executive, you are in a position of authority. Leaders create, by words and actions, the value system and preferred behaviors. With this authority, your staff and/or team watch you more. There is a much greater likelihood that you can infect your company with your moods. This can put you at odds for creating that warm and human-centered organization you imagine.

Try an experiment…for about one week, stop yourself 3 times every day and ask yourself,

  • What do I feel?
  • What am I doing?
  • How is my team/staff acting right now?
  • How is my team’s behavior reflecting my mood(s)?

Supporting your CEO Mindset

Noticing your own emotional state will help you determine if you are contagious in a positive or negative way. And reinforce your emotional and social intelligences. Using the CEO Mindset is more than understanding your role in your organization. It also facilitates how you understand the effect you have on your staff/team.

Are you contagious? And is it more positive or negative?

Related posts: Leadership, Mindfulness and Practical Enlightenment

                         Giving Thanks Is a Hidden Leadership Tool

                         Using the CEO Mindset For Smarter Communication

 

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Leadership, Mindfulness and Practical Enlightment

leadership, mindfulness, meditation, CEO MindsetThis post is from this month’s newsletter and since this topic has been cropping up in my writing, in the Twitter chat,  KaizenBiz and in my newsletter, I thought I would share it with you as well. In a conversation over the last few days on Twitter, it seems that many people are wondering just how to deepen themselves as leaders as well as cope with the stress of leading a business in a quick change environment. What if we took Peter Bregman’s suggestion in this HBR Blog Network post and treated laughter as a business metric? Is there an ROI for meditating or simply being in the moment?

Where is the stillness?

For many of us, it is the start of winter and it’s easy to become more like a hibernating bear with the longer hours of darkness. Perhaps that’s why I get a kick out of the Christmas lights and public holiday displays. These shiny, twinkly and even gaudy lights are moments of child-like fun. Standing in the morning or evening darkness in the still, quiet (yes, even in a city) air is an invitation to look around and up. Perhaps you notice the stars or the stark branches against a dark sky? This moment of stillness is mindfulness. There is nothing else but this moment…and you are here.

More than just the latest leadership craze 

Meditation and mindfulness are very popular right now in leadership circles.You may have heard of people like Bill Clinton, Bill Ford, Rupert Murdoch or Marc Benioff are active meditators. Nelson Mandela who recently died has talked about how meditating changed and supported how he was able to lead South Africa as it started its transition away from apartheid. And there is good reason for this. While it is easy to dismiss it as some woo-hoo or fluffy stuff, there is ample research pointing out how even 15 minutes can ease chronic pain, stress and inflammation. For leaders, there are additional benefits increased focus, creativity, composure, memory and agility of response) that you would use multiple times during a typical day.

Doesn’t have to be transcendental either

There are many reasons why people do not develop the habit of meditation. For some, it is difficult to sit still or maybe a particular style isn’t quite “right.” If you can breathe, you can meditate. It is that simple. Try an experiment, breathe slowly and deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth for 5 minutes  What do you notice about your body? Your mood? Many people report feeling quieter and energized at the same time. And that’s just 5 minutes. Others find that eating something and really paying attention to the color(s), smell, appearance and feel of the food provides a similar response. I’ve even had clients describe walking or running as the way they quiet their minds and return to the office ready for whatever is on their desk.

Enlightenment can be practical

Leadership is largely an art and based on our mindsets. There are plenty of posts telling us how to identify a bad boss and none of us want to be that person. If you’ve read my other writings about the CEO MIndset, you know that there is an emotional life to running your business. Try an experiment…every day for 1 week, simply breathe deeply in and out for 5 minutes while sitting comfortably with your feet on the floor. Put a timer on, if it helps. Notice how you feel immediately afterwards and then also notice how you feel later in the day. If, after a week, you notice a positive difference, maybe it’s time to make it a regular part of your day.

While leadership fads come and go, meditation and mindfulness are practices that stand the test of time.  It might even enhance your executive presence and inspire your staff. At the very least, it will support you as you develop the CEO Mindset and grow your business.

If this is an area of interest and  you would like to see a webinar, in-person event or an individual consultation regarding meditation, mindfulness and the CEO Mindset, please let me know. Plus, if this post piqued your curiosity (there are other goodies as well) and you would like to subscribe to the Key Notes newsletter, please fill in the form on the upper left of this page.

I wish everyone a lovely and relaxing holiday season and may you have the best year yet in 2014!
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How To Use the CEO Mindset For Smarter Communication

Small to mid-sized business owners, executives, smarter communicationWhile driving one day last week, I stopped to make a left turn. There was oncoming traffic (we drive on the right in the US)  so I was ready to wait. One of the drivers gestured that I could take my turn. That seems considerate enough but there was a problem. He hadn’t stopped rolling. His idea was that I should take my turn while his car was still moving. As you might imagine, I hesitated. Was he really letting me go? And if I did make the turn, what were the possible consequences?

Sometimes we say one thing while we’re sending a completely different message

It was interesting to note my emotional response. I wasn’t sure which message was the true one. This happens in the workplace as well. Take one of my clients, Barry (not his real name) who had a clear vision for how his company could grow nationally. Unfortunately, he also had a habit of over-analyzing trends, opportunities and the performance of his company to such an extent that it muddied how he expressed his vision and expectations to his team. Another client, Rachel (not her real name) would assign tasks to one of her staff but then do the task herself  because “I know how to do better and quicker.” For both of these clients and for others, the bottom line was that they claimed to value the skills and input of their staff but their actions said otherwise.

What you do carries more weight than what you say

Since small to mid-sized organizations are much more intimate, the decision-makers have greater influence on corporate culture. The words you use (including swears and pejoratives), the volume at which you speak and when you speak send a strong message to your staff how to treat one another. Another potential trap is to assume that everyone looks at the world through your eyes and your sensibilities. Let’s say you spend long hours in the office because you believe that is essential to success but tell your employees that they can have flex time and vacations. Which part of your message are they going to listen to the most? I’ve even had a business owner tell me that he limits suggestions and recommendations because he doesn’t want to hear bad news.

There is a smarter way to communicate

In past blog posts, I’ve written about how the CEO Mindset supports the business owner/ executive to be more effective.  But what does this really mean? For a leader to truly use the CEO Mindset, he/she must pay attention to what is going on internally and externally as well as the other aspects of leading and managing a business. To effectively communicate, you have to use many of the same things.

The intersection between the CEO Mindset and communication uses both the internal and external awareness of the business owner/ executive:

  • Builds trust- Consistency in verbal and nonverbal message goes a long way
  • Lets people know where the boundaries are- Ineffective communication styles give contradictory signals so people aren’t sure what is acceptable
  • Charisma is over-rated-  Be yourself and give a complete message. Motivational speeches do have their place but substance is what your team is looking for.
  • Paying attention for better listening- It is remarkable what stopping and paying attention, even for 15 seconds, can do to prevent misunderstandings and unnecessary clarifications
  • Know clearly what your message is- There is a time and place for chitchat. When you want people to know where the business is going next, how to solve or prevent problems or get tasks done, state clearly what you want people to hear.
  • Flexibility-  You may need to vary your words or the pacing of how you say things. Sometimes flexibility includes fully listening first before you say anything.
  • Pay attention to the emotions- Someone can say what you want to hear but if you don’t hear what they are really feeling, the issue will come up again and again.

When business owners/ executives develop their skills and are comfortable in their own skin, communication tends to go more smoothly. Sure, there are days when everyone makes mistakes but good communication builds good will. Are you like the driver in the story and giving mixed signals to you team? Using the CEO Mindset encourages you to monitor your communication style and self-awareness to foster stronger communication with your team.

 

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More On CEO Mindset – The “Right” Habits & Less Ego-Driven Leadership

CEO Mindset, leadership, habits, leaders, Tweak Your Biz, KaizenBizAs some of the regular readers of this blog know, I blog on Tweak Your Biz and KaizenBiz as well. If you have missed my latest posts there, here they are:

Becoming CEO Of Your Small Business Means Finding “Right” Habits

For many successful small to mid-sized business owners, having the CEO Mindset is everything. While I’ve talked about how small business owners (even sole proprietors/ sole traders) are really CEO’s of their companies on Tweak  Your Biz and here, this is just the beginning.

Every day there are things we do or don’t do that influence the direction and pace of business growth. A lot of this is much more internal than it might seem at first glance. One area that is written about quite  a lot is the habits or common behaviors of  famous business leaders.  Reading these posts leads you to believe that if you just did these things, you would be successful. My post isn’t one of those posts. Often what is left out is the work and the business leaders did to find the “right” habits that work for them. So, before you think “if only I did X”, remember they had to do the work of finding what works for them. Becoming CEO of your small business means finding your “right” habits.

 

Is It Feminine Leadership We Crave Or Less Ego-Driven Leadership?

Once a week, I have the pleasure of leading a chat on Twitter called #KaizenBiz. (Shameless plug here: Every Friday at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9amPT and all are welcome) If you are not familiar with this chat, we take business topics and apply critical thinking, enhance our skills and deepen our self-understanding. This past Friday (August 16, 2013), we looked at The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them Will Rule the Future and the ongoing global conversation about gender, traits and leadership.  There is a perspective that the lack of women in executive roles contributed to the organizational failures that triggered the global recession.

Is there a female style of leadership? A male style?  Are people wrong in their rejection of so many men in decision-making roles as found in recent surveys? Could it be more likely that highly effective leaders of both genders exhibit the same traits? Read this post and add your thoughts.

 

Thank you

Thank you for taking a look at these posts, commenting, sharing or simply thinking about them. I look forward to sharing more posts next month.

 

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Using the CEO Mindset During the Mid-Year Business Plan Review

CEO mindset, business plan, small business ownerWhen you reach the middle of the year, is it a time for celebration or redoubling of efforts…or both?As leader of your organization, it is your place to seek out and tell the truth about what is working and not working. This can be a tough role but necessary.

Assumptions get in the way of good business practices

Your willingness to see things as they are and  not what you wish them to be shows up in testing assumptions. As an example, one of my Irish clients is really excited about launching his product in the US. However, he had a number of assumptions that just did not hold water hen he looked at them more closely. For starters, he assumed he knew how American consumers thought about Irish products. He also did not realize the costs involved as well as the various legal (immigration law, small business law, employment law, etc.) issues that needed preparation. It was in the business plan review that he was able to test his assumptions before committing large amounts of  money.

But there are other assumptions that need testing

1. While I could spend a whole blog post on the cognitive biases that could interfere with a small business owner’s performance, one can quickly prove demoralizing as well as financially dangerous. Sunk cost fallacy which is the thought process that “I’ve committed so much money to X that I have to make something of it.” Some might say that this is throwing good money after bad.

2. “There is money for all of our plans” could be another assumption if cash flow is not monitored. Taking time to go through the financials, even if you are not a money person, does matter since it indicates if you need to step up business development or maintain your current course.

3. “I’m sure it’s getting done” I’ve worked with a couple of business owners who found out the hard way that not holding their staff accountable cost them thousands of dollars. Without asking your people if they are fulfilling their assignments or having agreed-upon measurements, you are potentially telling them that you are incompetent or disorganized.

There are more assumptions you might be making about time, your role(s) or any number of things. The key is to ask questions, even to what seems obvious, so that you have a clear picture of how your business is performing.

That is the CEO Mindset

Whether you have the title or simply take on the mindset, you are CEO. This makes you the one who sets the tone for the whole organization and shows through words and actions the most desired values and behaviors. Whether you use a SWOT analysis or another tool to answer the questions, you show a curious, honest and pragmatic type of leadership. Taking this approach during the mid-year business plan review promotes problem-solving, brainstorming and acknowledgement of successes and failures. Question your assumptions and stay willing to see things as they are.

How can you access the CEO Mindset?

Here are some suggestions to start implementing the CEO Mindset for yourself:

  • Be a pragmatic visionary. Take your vision, build business goals that support it and measure your results.
  • Examine the data for trends, patterns or anomalies
  • Stop and listen so  you can become aware of your assumptions
  • Manage your attitude. Notice if you are overly optimistic, frustrated or tired can affect how your evaluate your data or interact with your staff.

What other assumptions need to be questioned by the business owner/ chief executive?

What are the best tools or resources for asking the right questions?

 About the author:  I’m Elli St.George Godfrey, a small business coach and executive coach who guides established small business owners in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the US to be comfortable in their own skin. I have a deep appreciation for learning and understanding my client’s business style and culture. Whether you are re-focusing your small business or expanding in your own backyard or into another country, my 3 keys coaching process helps clients move from being excited about growing to having the tools to make it actually happen. Curious? Schedule your complimentary coaching session here.

 

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Managing the Business Owner: What Do You Want?

What do you wantFour words that strike fear and make an otherwise capable professional unable to make sense.

What do you want?

When I ask this in a coaching session, there usually a release of breath and a nervous laugh. Then the avoidant answers come out. Formerly articulate people stop putting two sentences together. I have noticed that it isn’t so much that we don’t know what we want (yes, I’ve been struck dumb with this question too). We know all too well. We are dreamers who see ourselves making that dream salary, gaining recognition as a “go-to” person, serving our customers with excellence and living that satisfying life we crave.

Negative messages and negative experiences Click here to read more »

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