All posts by Larry Briggs

Is Your Leadership Designed for Innovation?

InnovationIs innovation important? Let’s change the question. How would you like to read the same blog article over and over again? Of course you wouldn’t! The value of a good blog is to learn something new!

Without a doubt, innovation matters. Lacking a unique product or service offering, it’s difficult to stand out and gain a competitive advantage. At the very least, continuous innovation allows you to stay relevant compared to others in the market. Ultimately, a failure to innovate is a recipe for failure itself in this fast-moving, global economy.

 

What Role Do You Play?

 As a leader, sometimes it seems like the most important innovations happen when you aren’t looking. For example, while you were busy worrying about the upcoming meeting with shareholders, one of your engineers spent the last few weeks glued to that design program or your product manager decided that the market was ready for something new after months of research. In other words, you may feel like you don’t have much of an impact but the truth is as a leader your role is critical.  How do you ensure the innovators on your team are doing their thing, day in and day out?

At V2A Solutions, we embrace innovative thinking as a competitive way of being. In fact, we notice that as a leader, you inherently impact the innovation process at your business whether you know it or not. This may make sense intuitively, but if you don’t take the time to intentionally lead in a way that innovation is encouraged, it won’t occur.  To that end, let’s take a look at some practical steps you can take to foster innovation in your business.

 

Unleashing Creativity

Simply put, innovation is the creation of something new and improved. It is the ability to see beyond the status quo and consider what might be! Thus, creativity is critical to the innovation process. Again, a very intuitive idea, but not many leaders really make an effort to act in light of that knowledge.  They might talk about how they want the organization to be more creative, but they create policies and procedures which squelch the very opportunity for creativity to happen! This often results from an inability to see innovative opportunities or make time to focus on actions and behaviors that promote creativity. After all, creativity can be a little abstract. However, a metric designed by the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management can be very useful. Specifically, the Global Creativity Index looks at indicators of the amount of resources devoted to technological advancements, how talent is cultivated, and the level of tolerance a nation displays for minority groups. While these metrics were created for measuring the relative creative competitiveness of various countries, there are certainly lessons to be learned for any business owner.

First, businesses should ask themselves whether they are providing their team with sufficient resources to be innovative. For example, asking R&D to create an amazing new product with a small budget is probably not going to get you anywhere. Put your money where your mouth is and lead with your budget.  This takes a measure of faith, but this kind of faith is the catalyst for creativity.

Second, leaders must ask themselves whether they are truly empowering their team to become good innovators. Are they getting the skills and training they need to work collaboratively and produce synergistic results with their fellow employees? What knowledge is needed to reduce set-backs and begin producing the innovative results your business desperately needs?

Third, with respect to tolerance, a leader must ask whether others’ ideas are being respected. After all, for true innovation to take place, the last thing a business needs is groupthink. Again, innovation requires new ideas that often challenge established protocols and norms. Will your employees be willing to speak up and share their unique perspective?

 

Reframe the Experience of Failure

Consider the story of Thomas Edison. When designing the light bulb, you probably know he failed more times than he succeeded, but with each failure he learned one more way not to make a light bulb. Each failure represented an incremental improvement, driving him closer to his ultimate goal.   Shifting how you think about failure will adjust your leadership stance for innovation.

Inherent in the concept of innovation is the risk that must be taken. The status quo may be working, and trying anything but the status quo carries with it the chance for failure. The key is to encourage calculated risks, and when failure takes place, ensure employees learn everything they can from them. Train everyone to see the occasional failure as a learning opportunity.

 

Shaping Culture and Values

Whether you like it or not, as a leader, you are responsible for the culture of your business. Yes, your employees help you shape that culture, but as a leader you set the tone right from the start. As you probably learned long ago, a company’s culture is directly related to corporate values. Unfortunately, we tend to forget that how people think and act is directly related to what they value. In fact, cultural researchers are often able to explain differences between cultures by pointing to differences in cultural values along various dimensions. For instance, the World Values Survey explained 70% of its recorded variance between different nations’ behavior and attitudes by linking it to the values dominating a country.  For example, the degree to which values move in the direction of secular instead of traditional religious values impacts the degree of self-expression and tolerance of divergent lifestyles within a country.

Whether we are talking about a country or a business, the evidence is that values drive action. The best part is, once values are established and live in your business, your team will automatically pursue the right things (based on embraced values) and you won’t have to spend your precious time managing them. Often, rather than establishing annoying policies and procedures, the beliefs and values you promote become a control system built right into your business!

 

Now ask yourself the role your values play in innovation:

Does my company culture indicate that we value innovation? Do we value creativity? Do we value hard work and critical thinking?

With that said, a critical distinction must be made between stated values and lived values. For example, can a company claim that they value creativity and hard work if there are no performance incentives for innovation? Your culture and values must be aligned and authentically pursue innovation. In fact, we know that your business depends on this reality, and that’s why we’re so passionate about developing leaders with the ability to establish effective belief and value systems within their companies in a way that shapes the culture for innovation.

 

To learn more about how V2A Leadership principles encourage innovation and the ways your values can be leveraged, contact us.  We would enjoy the conversation to discover how innovation can help your business become more profitable and aligned with your dreams.

 

Leading the Business vs. “Being the Business”

Leading Alone

Whether you are an entrepreneur or a seasoned business owner, you wouldn’t be reading this unless you know that you are a leader. The very fact that you are taking the time to read about leadership suggests that you suspect it takes more than merely owning your business.

The question is: Does your leadership translate into the business results that are really valuable to you?

Unfortunately, all too often, many small business owners are not small business leaders. This puts them at risk.  Rather than empowering their team, these individuals spend most of their time looking at what things cost and thinking about how they have to do everything themselves because their employees “just don’t get it.”

BUT NOT YOU, RIGHT?  You are passionate about being more than just a business owner. You want to lead the business, not “be the business.”

Sadly, most all entrepreneurs start with the passion to build the business of their dreams.  For many, it wasn’t their fault that they fell into the sickness of “being the business” rather than leading their business. In fact, often times, the risks and warning signs are found within the very nature of a business, and this makes removing this risk even more difficult.

Here’s the good news: Knowing these warning signs can help you spot problems early and take preventative action.

4 Warning Signs That You Are At Risk for “Being the Business”

1. Being a Professional

Many professionals own their own businesses and market their personal services. Because the business wouldn’t exist if they and their unique expertise didn’t exist, it is easy for them to become self-centered.  They own the business, and it’s true that their abilities are what customers buy.

However, those who know how to lead rather than “be the business” will recognize that their real success is a result of them and the team around them. Rather than creating policies and procedures based on what makes their own lives easier, business leaders focus on all whom will be affected by the way business is conducted. In other words, rather than doing things to serve themselves, business leaders make decisions that ultimately better serve customers and the business as a whole.

2. Consistently Hiring the Wrong Candidates

As a small business leader, it can be hard to attract and hire qualified employees, especially if you don’t have a proven methodology for identifying top talent. After having several disappointing hiring experiences, employers may begin to distrust those whom they hire. This in turn leads to micromanaging rather than inspiring employees to take responsibility for their own success.

Remember: Management relies heavily on active control while leadership relies on inspiration which may not require as much direct involvement.

3. Non-stop Schedules

A small business inherently demands a lot from its owner’s schedule. Sadly, this means that the owner often has less time to devote towards thoughtful leadership or understanding the issues that employees are facing. Thus, rather than taking the time to empower and guide employees, time-pressed owners will either do it themselves or toss the problem to their team to fend for themselves. Either way is not good.  True business leaders will intentionally set some time aside to connect and reflect with their employees periodically to provide the necessary clarity and direction.

4. No Accountability/Access to Help

And finally, business owners can develop tunnel vision because they won’t seek out fresh perspectives on their leadership performance or how they run their businesses. They avoid seeking the objective feedback and accountability that would enable them to lead their businesses with greater clarity. Often, this in turn creates an exhausting scenario where leaders waste hours upon hours with costly trial-and-error problem solving—when that time could have been spent leading others to become future problem solvers!  Breakthroughs happen when leaders learn new ways of viewing their business and how to hold themselves and others accountable for greater rewards.

Now that you know the warning signs, do you see yourself heading down the dangerous road of “being the business” all by yourself? If so, feel free to reach out for help in dealing with any of the problems discussed. If it’s accountability you are looking for, I welcome the opportunity to discuss whether you could benefit from joining one of my CEO groups.

 

What is the ultimate product of your leadership?

One of the services we provide clients is a system for putting the right people into the right jobs.

Both in our hiring assistance and in executive coaching we ask one key question: “What is the ultimate product you must produce in exchange for your salary?”

This isn’t a question about roles, responsibility, or tasks.  It is getting clear about ultimate value for pay.

You would be surprised by how much difficulty people have in answering this question.

Recently I was working with the CFO of a large and very successful manufacturing company, and I asked him this same question about himself and his leadership contribution in his business. 

“What product do  you and your department ultimately contribute to the business?”

His answer was one word, and it was powerful:  Insight.

Insight
the inner nature of things

When I looked up the definition of the word in Wikipedia I found this:  The understanding of a specific cause and effect in a specific context. 

Isn’t this a potent way to think about one’s contribution as a CFO?  I often get answers like:

  •          Up to date financial information.
  •          IT Systems that people can use to produce value.
  •          A positive cash flow.

Or any one of the corporate high level financial goals.

But no. Insight.

Just think about the impact this CFO will bring his company if indeed he causes everyone in his company to have insight?  This is a much higher order way of thinking about contribution and value. 

If my client can ultimately contribute insight to his company, I believe he will hit the ball out of the park.

So here is my question to you. 

What is the product (as in ultimate output or result) of your leadership?

The best answer to this question may not be the first thing that comes to your mind.  When you identify your highest and best leadership contribution, align everything you have to that one objective and vision.

For those who are interested in knowing how to make your highest and best contribution as a leader, check out our Leadership Results 365 and Communicating for Results workshops.  This is a high value way to begin obtaining insight about exactly how you contribute the best of who you are to your organization.

What if payroll was your best business investment?

Best Investment Ever?After years of working with entrepreneurs I’ve watched you sweat over making payroll. I’ve seen how you saved yourself for last, and often times you didn’t pay yourself because there wasn’t anything left. You sacrificed so you could make payroll, and your vision of a better future kept you going when the going got tough. And it did get tough at times. It may even be tough right now.

Still, I think many if not all entrepreneurs don’t think of payroll as their best business investment.

New equipment . . . certainly.

Great marketing, yes.

Travel and sales expenses to close the next big deal? Of course.

But payroll?

Most of you would say it is a necessary expense. Maybe even a necessary evil.

In fact some of you resent the very people you pay because you don’t think they are giving you 100%. If you are really honest with yourself, you have felt this way more than once, haven’t you?

At the same time, how many of you know how to maximize your payroll investment? How many times do you pour part of each month’s payroll dollars down the drain because you don’t know how to get the best and most out of your people?

As a business consultant and coach I see payroll waste. I know entrepreneurs who have killed the spirit in their people. They micro-manage. Solve problems for employees rather than let them do it themselves. I’ve seen employers constrain their people in such a way they have gone brain dead. They are just showing up for a paycheck, doing enough to get by, and if you are lucky you are getting 50% on your dollar. It happens all the time. In fact, Marcus Buckingham in his book The One Thing You Need to Know says that in his research, only twenty percent of people he surveyed said they are well matched for their jobs. This means employers are generally out of touch with their people and the work they are having them do.

Truth is we frequently put people in jobs that don’t fit them, or so constrain our people so they feel underutilized and we get much less than their best and much less for the money we pay them.

So here is the question. What would it take for you to know your payroll investment is the best money you ever spent on your business? How would you know that payroll gives you the best possible return on your investment each month? How would it make you feel if you knew that each person you hired would automatically add to your bottom line? Wouldn’t you recruit more of these types of people just to make more money?

So the end to our employment dilemma is for executives in business across America to learn how to make their payroll their best investment ever. We all need to learn how to maximize the payroll investment, and know how to connect people with work in such a way that they are inspired each day and give their all. They would love their jobs rather than endure them. They would know exactly where they are making a difference, and they could show you the results. And your customers would know it too. They would keep coming back to buy more because of your great products and services. But more importantly they would love your people.

This will not only turn around your business; this is the way to turn around our economy!

Where do you begin? Start expecting that your payroll investment must become the best investment you ever made. Here is how . . .

  • Ask your employees what it would take for this to be the best job they ever had.
  • Ask what they want from you and their supervisors to give their best every day.
  • Listen to what you hear as if your profitability and your future depend on it.
  • Do what they tell you.
  • Invest in the skills training.
  • Invest your time in them.
  • Demonstrate you really care.
  • Let them show you what they can do.
  • Make agreements to do what you decide together.
  • Remind them if they forget to keep their part of the agreement.
  • Keep listening and working on targeted improvements.

Do this and I think you will be amazed. Continue to hold the vision that your payroll is your best business investment. Set new goals. Share the vision and ask for help. Let me know what happens.

 

 

 

How To Create Value

In today’s economy value is at the heart of business success. Successful companies have products buyers value and buy. Failing companies lack products and services customers value and so they refuse to buy them—leaving products on shelves, services undelivered and jobs and income languishing. If enough companies fail, our economy remains flat, our debts unpaid and the future looks bleak.

Effective leaders have the capacity to create value by leveraging personal values to build financial and relational value. Just as King Midas turned everything he touched into gold, effective leaders turn average companies into profitable ones.

And how can you become a more valuable leader? Your personal values and the ability to honor the values of others is what value creation is all about. The ability to add value, create value, and discover the value in others is a powerful leadership skill. Understanding and leveraging the power inherent in personal and shared values is a developed skill in great leaders. Here are three simple concepts you can apply to immediately increase the value of your leadership to all aspects of your organization, including making your products more valuable to your customers.

1) Understand the principle of value exchange. Our ability to add value is directly linked to the degree to which our values are shared by others. It is not possible to add value to those who do not share your values.

Conduct a little exercise with me. Think about a person you value being with. You know; the person you can easily spend time with and whose conversation and ideas you find interesting. Then, ask yourself this question: What values the two of you have in common? Chances are if you would share many top ten values.

I learned this lesson during my years in sales. After months of inconsistent sales success I examined both successful and failed sales attempts. That’s when I discovered the principle of value exchange. Those who bought from me shared common values with the company I represented as expressed in the products offered. Once I learned this, I opened sales conversations by uncovering the values of the buyer. This enabled me to pre-qualify a potential client by discovering if they had valued what my company offered. By focusing on those with shared values, my sales numbers immediately climbed.

2) Clarify your personal values as a leader, and live them. The most trusted leaders are those whose values are obvious in their words and deed. Your ability to be consistent, predictable, and act in alignment with your values will resonate with those you lead, whether they share your values or not. People want consistent and predictable leaders. Being clear about your values enables people to know when and how to approach you. The result is clarity, certainty, and effectiveness.

3) Recognize and honor the values of others. The way to build trust and become a more valuable leader is to recognize the values of others and honor them. We can tell when people respect us. Can’t we? When they acknowledge and honor our values and deeply held beliefs, we feel good about them. We like them because they have the grace to respect our core values, even if they don’t share them. Your true identity is revealed in your values and deeply held beliefs. The fact is, our values define us, whether or not we know it.

Therefore, the secret of becoming a trusted and valued leader is the capacity to recognize the values of those we lead and honor them and in doing so strengthen the relationship.

I remember a college intern I hired to join my staff. I hired this young man because during his internship he demonstrated initiative, thoughtfulness, and creativity that impressed me. I liked him and looked forward to having him on our marketing staff. As we prepared for a trade show in Vegas, I told him he would be expected to make the trip, help set up the booth, work the show and then help tear down the display before returning home.

A few days after I explained his responsibilities in Vegas, he asked for a private meeting. Once together in my office he said, “Larry, I hate to tell you this, but I can’t make the trip. I’ve got to attend a religious meeting on that weekend.”

In that moment I wondered if I had made a mistake in hiring him. I was stunned that he would ask me to let him skip the trip when he had just taken the job. Would he have other value conflicts and ask to be relieved of other responsibilities? Instead of challenging him, I said, “I’m sorry you can’t make it. But I respect the value you place on your previous commitment. We will miss you, but can make it without you.”

He thanked me and left the room. Much to my surprise, I don’t remember any other incidents where he had a ‘values conflict’ with anything I asked him to do in his job. In fact the opposite occurred. Over time he became one of my most trusted, reliable, and passionately committed employees. By respecting his personal values in that one instance, his commitment to me, his job, and the company became consistent and predictable. The Real Value Chain

When you understand and are able to leverage the power of values in leadership, you become a more valuable leader able to bring value to every aspect of your business.

 

Trust in the Marketplace

Trust in the workplace is traced back to the leader creating a safe atmosphere where people can express themselves and be known.

Last week I received an email from one of our client’s key team leaders. She wanted me to know that she was thinking of quitting because the work environment had become so toxic. The CEO knew he had team issues because key employees, like the one above, were stressed and performance was dropping. Excellent employees were forgetting to complete tasks and, frankly, were failing miserably. Word simply spread throughout the team that one of the leaders was no longer safe; one of the leaders changed the atmosphere from a place of self-expression and being known, to an atmosphere of dread. Employees shut down and gritted their teeth. Alone, one leader hi-jacked trust; he became the enemy.

When this recently hired executive arrived, he exuded a helpful demeanor and professionalism. But no one knew what to make of his sudden outbursts and overt displays of anger when his iPad wouldn’t work or a printer wouldn’t print. Under frustration, he would crack. The team avoided him not knowing when his unpredictable outburts would occur. The employee who emailed me had been the uncomfortable object of his wrath and dreaded coming to work from that time, she admitted.

In the years I’ve been coaching and mentoring CEO’s I’ve seen amazing demonstrations of trust and the impact the highest-level ranking leader can make. Trust in the workplace is traced back to the leader creating a safe atmosphere where people can express themselves and be known. We scheduled a team-building workshop for this particular CEO and his executive team. Our afternoon started with a team game that predictably surfaced certain attitudes and behaviors among the members. This team struggled to complete the game as angry and mean directives surfaced. Eventually, other team members shut down; we watched the tension build right before our eyes. Then something amazing happened. It occurred to the CEO during the game that the biggest problem facing his team was a lack of safety and ownership and, by extension, a pervasive sense of distrust. So the CEO said, “We aren’t having success here and I think it is my fault. I’m the worst at this game. Why don’t I trade places with someone so we can see if that helps?” When he owned what the entire team was experiencing, even though he wasn’t the source of the tension, we saw his team transform.

We watched as people immediately began to relax and communicate. The angry offender softened and took some responsibility for his actions. Overall communication improved for the team, even to the point of problem solving, successfully completing the game. That humble and positive move by the CEO created safety. An amazing team dialogue and training time led to confession and apologies among the members. Early the next afternoon, I received an email from the employee who threatened to quit her job. “I’ve just had one of the best days at work, ever,” she wrote. “I am highly encouraged!” Where does an organization really begin in developing trust? Does safety make a difference in building trust?

It is foundational.

I Googled the topic of trust in business and found a plethora of articles and postings. My search yielded at least 20 titles in Amazon for business or relationship books on trust. I am led to believe that trust must be a hot topic. The Wall Street scandal caused by Bernie Madoff has not helped, nor has the broad financial crisis caused by those taking advantage of the trust we once had in the banking and financial institutions. Old school business practices were once rooted in “your word is your bond” and employment for life. Now employees know that everything is temporary while job security is as flimsy as the next economic downturn.

Are we as a society less trusting today than 30 or 50 years ago? I don’t find any evidence there’s been an erosion of trust. But I still ask myself, “has cynicism replaced trust in the workplace and the fabric of our social culture?” The divorce rate might be an indicator that our society lacks sufficient trust to heal our own marriages and persevere through inevitable tough times. Without sufficient safety to develop trust we quit, or worse, stay and give up. In workshops I’ve led and research I’ve conducted it is easy to see that each of us comes into the workplace with a carnival of experiences with trust. People who have abuse in their past struggle with trust and others who don’t have that experience cannot understand the reluctance and caution others have in being trusting. Developing greater levels of trust seems mysterious to most and sheer willpower is not strong enough to permeate the work culture if trust is missing.

Here are the facts I know about trust:

● We each have had trust broken at one time or another

● Broken trust is unique, therefore, building trust requires dialogue

● Trust is fragile and takes effort, even practice, to maintain

● Trust is organic, meaning it can grow over time if nurtured

● Trust cannot exist if we don’t see ourselves clearly and make adjustments

● The highest ranking leader has the greatest influence in creating safe spaces so trust can grow

Trust is dependent on safety. What is needed so you can be more trusting? Or what is needed so you could feel safe, allowing for more transparency?

 

In leadership, love works.

This message was written on Good Friday, the religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death on a cross.

What is good about Good Friday? Judging by the legacy of his leadership impact two thousand years later, Jesus is probably the most successful leader of all time; yet, on Good Friday he is at the lowest point of his leadership career. Falsely accused, publicly humiliated and sentenced to death — Jesus looked like a tragic failure for a leader. The vision he cast to his followers over the previous three years didn’t seem to match these circumstances. Equally disturbing, only one of his 12 closest followers turned up to support him at this most difficult time. Why is this good?

It may seem odd to talk about leadership and love in the same breath. In business leadership such a notion may seem unprofessional. Leaders who value love may not seem to have respect in the boardroom, let alone on the manufacturing floor.

Do you regard being loving as a sign of weakness? Our leadership reality is that there is a significant precedent: Love impacts the bottom line.

In my 23 years of executive coaching I’ve found myself saying “I love people into high performance” and have at times questioned the marketability of that language. However, I see evidence all around that love in the workplace is profitable on many fronts. Just last night I was at a University of Portland business school Hall of Fame induction where the speaker; former U of P graduate and company president Fedele Bauccio; openly talked about loving his employees as the key to the successful business culture of his Bon Appetit Management Company. His company now operates more than 400 cafes and serves more than 80 million meals a year and now serves the Starbucks corporation offices in Seattle.

Is being loving a weakness in business? Consider the most famous and highly respected leaders of the past—what was their motivation? Were they acting selfishly on their own behalf or were they subordinating themselves to those they were leading serving them with courage and heart? Love, honor and respect are at the core of great leadership. The evidence is all around us, but are we willing to consider it? Further, can we even imagine applying it in our role as business leaders?

Can love live in the boardroom?

Understanding why Good Friday is called good is the same as seeing why love works in leadership. Digging deeper into Christ’s actions helps us recognize the power of a leader’s love.

The night before he died, at the lowest point in his leadership career, Jesus met with his followers for a meal.Foot Washing He knew three years of leadership preparation was about to end and others would need to step up. Can you relate? You have probably faced moments of leadership truth like this where what you say and do as a leader is critical.

What did he do? He performed the lowest of all jobs in the household to make a point. He washed his followers’ feet. He demonstrated the highest level of leadership exists in serving others. He then said: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”

Is this the challenge we face when considering love as a key leadership principle? Are we afraid to humble ourselves and model what leadership is really about? Transparently demonstrating our love for others?

Want to learn how to convert love to business results? Join us on Tuesday the 17th for Leadership Results 365 and Communicating for Results in the afternoon. Then join us for The Way of Wealth on Saturday morning the 21st.

The Importance of Leadership Maintenance

How do you maintain your leadership edge? Is it time for a spring tune-up?

Weekend Work...Last weekend the spring delivery of bark dust arrived for our yard. I scaled the order back from two units last year to a unit and a half this year. Still looks like a lot. Last year the pile stayed in our driveway for months. Not because I wasn’t diligent, in fact I spent almost every weekend clearing weeds and spreading bark dust. I finally hired help to get it done. It was more time consuming than I had anticipated. It was a huge job but when we were done the yard looked great!

I am learning. This year I’ve started pulling weeds earlier, and while they’re still small.

Spreading bark dust is good prevention for weeds and doing it early makes a huge difference. It is still hard work, but I am envisioning that mountain of bark dust moved within the next two weeks and enjoying both my driveway and the yard longer.

Isn’t it similar to maintaining your leadership capacity? Are you aware of the weeds that can sprout in your behavior as CEO or executive? Those habits you are still battling that hamper your ultimate success? How about the changes that have occurred in your business or in people that you aren’t skillfully addressing? Keeping up on the latest insights about how to lead your organization and how to best utilize talent within your organization?
Let me encourage you to think about maintenance of your leadership capacity as one of the best investments you can make. We maintain our yards because we want our home and gardens to look their best. Maintenance of your leadership capacity will allow you to make your greatest positive impact where it is needed.

Here are some maintenance tips from V2A Solutions:

1. Recognize that your best leadership performance comes as the result of practice, just as a professional athlete continues to work on the fundamentals your investment in staying sharp through training and coaching makes a difference. Be conscious about sharpening your skills.

2. Pause and take time to reflect on the leadership impact you want to make this year and seek out training, coaching, or even visiting a leader you admire for insights and inspiration for what you can do to accomplish your outcome objectives.

3. Consider signing up for training or a professional conference and go with a colleague so you can share rides, ideas, and learning practices together. Executives tend to isolate and leadership is a social practice. There is strength and confidence in numbers. Don’t go it alone.

Here are some important leadership maintenance choices offered by V2A Solutions:

• If you haven’t signed up for our regular newsletters you can do so here. You will be notified of updates and other goodies if you are a regular newsletter subscriber. Register now at the right.

• Consider attending the Leadership Results 365, High Performance Teamwork, or Communicating for Results workshops if you haven’t already. You can even get a discount for a refresher class. Each time we run these workshops they get better and graduates know how to best leverage their core nature and use their leadership and management talents with greater skill.

• Check out our new Remarkable Freedom Series of workshops. We are adding experts to the V2A Solutions team who bring their expertise combined with the Vision to Action Leadership™ concepts to bring increased freedom and joy to every aspect of your life. April 21st we are hosting: The Way of Wealth Workshop. Check it out.

Tell us what’s on your mind and how we can best help you. Visit our survey area and let us know what you need most to bring your vision into reality.

Be encouraged,

Larry

Your Most Powerful Influence: Current Relationships

Early on, I became a student of human nature. In my study, I saw the individual power one relationship can wield. In my experience the people we lead can actually impact us as leaders.

When I think of a powerful relationship that influenced my career and character as a business person, I am reminded of Doug Crane. Doug was my first coaching client and the person who helped shape the course of my consulting practice 22 years ago. While I was working as marketing manager for a thriving software company in the 80s, I hired Doug to help me market our software. I observed and admired the way Doug motivated others while building a successful business. As I shared my experience with Doug his feedback inspired more ideas. Ultimately, Doug’s presence in my life was the catalyst for leaving corporate job security and hanging my shingle as Briggs Consulting in 1989.

Once I launched my consulting business, Doug hired me to help him build shared vision within his company. As Doug unfolded his vision I came alongside him to help cast this vision and share it in such a way that it inspired those he led. As Doug trusted my counsel about leading others, he put those words into action with highly successful results. I may have been the most surprised by how successfully the V2A principles worked!

What did I believe qualified me for the task of helping Doug succeed?

I learned from my failures.

From my failures came my best lessons learned. Winston Churchill reminds us that “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” My enthusiasm for Doug’s success fueled my leadership ideas. From these lessons I crafted the foundations of my Vision to Action leadership model (V2A).

Young emerging leaders often confess their confusion as to what leadership really is: is it only burdensome and frustrating? Is it only for the truly gifted? What makes leadership doable? I remember wrestling with these questions in my childhood. I was the oldest of nine children and the role of “leadership” was thrust upon me. Not only did my siblings resent my leadership skills, I resented the responsibility and struggled with what “leadership” represented. Early on, I became a student of human nature. In this study, I saw the individual power one relationship can wield. As a growing professional in the leadership business, I experienced that power in one important relationship.

From Doug I learned three things about the power of influence and success in business:

Leaders are people who make things happen. Early in my coaching engagement with Doug, he hired me to help develop a shared vision for his company – to fully align his people with concepts. Can you imagine the confidence that gave me as a leader knowing how much he trusted me with his employees? From the beginning of our relationship, we both made things happen allowing the discovery process to remain. Making things happen didn’t mean we insisted on our own perspectives and agendas — that would be one-dimensional. Ours was a relationship where our views were tested and retested and tried until both of us landed on what works. Doug gave me the real world test of an idea that I had hoped would change the way leadership was done.

The result of my coaching enabled Doug to fully embrace his natural gifts as a leader. He now trusted his true leader nature. What he said matched what he would do. Doug understood this leadership process and I watched his business develop, thrive and grow.

Leaders choose to embrace their role. When Doug and I talked over several breakfasts, I realized I had a choice to make. His responses to my ideas fueled me to put them into action. As Doug aligned these business concepts with his team, the floodgates opened up for both of us. The more I chose to embrace my role, the more the principles developed that would later become part of the Vision to Action leadership model. As Doug’s company grew, I created what would later become principles for Visionary Leadership. Great leaders need a lot of support and we were committed to this high standard; once I realized what Doug was after and he captured what I was after, we embraced our separate leadership roles and never looked back.

Leaders see their current relationships as their reality. Doug was my current reality in 1990. Although I was coaching him, when I focused on him and his needs, when I lived in the present with him, both of our futures were impacted. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Once I launched my consulting business, Doug hired me to help him build shared vision with his company. So I came on board to help him take the vision he had and place it in the minds and hearts of his employees. Great leaders are continually learning to cast vision ~ “without a vision, people will perish,” reads a well-known Proverb. When your leadership is frustrating you and you are in dire need of direction, seek out your current reality relationships and recast vision with them. It may just change the course of your life.

Who are your current relationships? Do you see yourself learning from those who are in your charge? Can you see where your team can lead you, too?