Every day brings a new challenge. The unexpected problems and undertakings are the ones that test us, our processes, and can take away our focus on current initiatives.
There are four areas of management that require consistent, regular attention each month.
If you are like 75% of the successful companies that have pre-established systems to inform their strategy, you’ve already incorporated ways to put attention on these areas. Because things change, we must adapt and so must our processes:
- Vision and Foresight
- Innovation and Development
- Communication and Counseling
- Strategy and Execution
Management is a word that can be misunderstood.
Look at all the memes out there that polarize leader versus manager. To manage means to have self-control, the ability to plan out work to meet deadlines, and everything involved to deliver product. Management also includes efficiency for where to streamline and when to reduce costs. Oh, and we can’t forget the processes that make our company resilient and allow for handling – and managing of – certain situations.
Every role has a management process, and every business must have management to provide some structure. That said, companies that actively develop emotional intelligence; promote expanding knowledge and learning from mistakes; as well as invest in resiliency planning … such businesses harness ingenuity of people within an organization.
How you integrate management and leadership will show in your level of success.
Your company requires frameworks, agreements, and clarity of vision. Following is a more in-depth view of the four areas that make up an effective leadership strategy.
The importance of your vision and foresight.
Simplicity underpins your ability to communicate the vision so others can understand it. The tremendous effort that is necessary to know what direction is the right direction to pursue. Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked with many clients who have big visions. The bigger the vision, the more clearly you must be able to share it in such a way that your employees know what their role is.
When people don’t know how they fit in, moving toward the vision will become extremely difficult; the team will do their best and still fall short. You may end up with incomplete or totally wrong output. This is a cue that there is miscommunication about what actions and behaviors are the ones on which to focus. Connecting vision to execution is an art. Management is a big part of this. In a recent keynote workshop I gave, I asked the audience what makes systems so important to achieving strategy. All of the answers can be summed up and categorized into three concepts.
When we don’t use systems to manage our strategy:
- Distractions and shiny objects will take the company off course.
- Excuses like “I didn’t know,” or “I forgot,” even “I didn’t know that was important” crop up.
- What to prioritize becomes subjective.
As you review the effectiveness of your management team during business strategy meetings, don’t forget to include evaluation of how simple and easy to grasp the vision is, so that the team you are guiding to execute on your vision can follow you with confidence. While it may seem like there are many factors outside of your control as you execute your business strategy, when it comes to your vision, your foresight, there is more you can control than you realize. Block out part of your Present Retreat™ and dedicate it to communication issues.
When you focus on your vision and the adoption and understanding of it, you will find viable options to improve communication and reinforce the behaviors that determine how work is done and how to move the company toward the vision.
How innovation and development keep your business relevant.
The creative outlet that innovation brings is attractive. Innovation is something to be discovered. In an effective leadership strategy, the way you innovate and develop is what keeps your business relevant over time. The reliance on – and scope of – what innovation means in an organization can become a blindspot. When you base decisions on a concept that you’ve decided is a constant within your business, something you can rely on becomes an assumption. It is important to pause and review assumptions so that we aren’t taken by surprise.
Assumptions and unexpected outcomes get in the way of setting up the management of business. Innovation and development without a framework can create ambiguity that results in confusion. Any innovation is confusing. Innovation with a framework created on a clear vision allows you to know what ideas and opportunities move you toward your business strategy.
Know, and be ruthless, about what is a possibility and what isn’t.
Over the years companies I’ve worked with regularly don’t understand how much time something takes to do. This is another area where you can reduce the unknowns – the potential chaos – with your business. Deliverables and work responsibilities can have known time requirements. This is an important metric for growth. It helps you know when you are at capacity and even where to look to automate processes. There is a heavy streak of efficiency and productivity to leverage. It’s through systems that you ensure there is space for creativity, development, and innovation.
When I talked with Kris Ward, author of Win the Hour Win the Day, she shared with me that, “It is bold to say, look, this is what we are going to do. And, we’re going to do it in this amount of time. To say: we’re going to do six units of productivity today, we’re not going to try to do seventeen.” It is bold to say, look, this is what we’re going to do. And, we’re going to do it in this amount of time. To say: we’re going to do six units of productivity today, we’re not going to try to do seventeen. Frameworks are freeing – they make space for things that require variable amounts of time to receive your attention, all the while knowing you are still on the path you’ve decided to be on.
The underestimated value of communication and counseling.
Day-to-day communication has a different lens than what was shared above about vision. Working IN the business alongside others requires an awareness of yourself and others. It is easy to brush off miscommunication. It is difficult to slow down, especially when things are moving faster than typical, and address what seems to be a small bump in the road. Those small bumps add up over time, which can result in unwritten agreements.
It is easy to delude ourselves into believing that letting something go is in the best interest of the bigger picture.
Letting something go, regardless of the reason, can erode credibility and trust. It’s not only what is perceived but also what is received. When deciding what to address and what to let go, a short pause to think forward is in your best interest. Consider the pause a re-group. Taking stock of company values and checking in with the way your team is doing work will provide you the insight to make a decision that fosters trust.
Effective leadership includes many soft skills that allow you to build your awareness and connections with others. Open and transparent conversations allow momentum to build. What I share next will sound counterintuitive, yet it is a management tool that creates a team that gets high performance results:
Communication may cause a team to be slow starting out, yet with practice and consistency there is greater achievement later on.
Charles Rose, an executive coach, shared with me the importance of active listening. He said, “Use active listening. That is listening with your ears, with your eyes, with your intuition, your emotion, your intellect – everything you’ve got. Use active listening. That is listening with your ears, with your eyes, your intuition, your emotion, your intellect – everything you’ve got.
Here are four ways you can enhance your active listening:
- Commit to being intentional during the interaction.
- Assess quickly to determine what is the important part and how it fits into the bigger picture.
- Share when there is misalignment, offer assistance problem solving, and suggest where there may be a way to automate or improve their workflow.
- Practice articulating what is aligned or how to get to alignment.
Your communication style can be enhanced by being candid, in the moment and compassionate all at the same time. Active listening requires being in the moment. It is a skill that reduces distraction, increases connection, and allows for course corrections.
It comes down to strategy and execution.
Nothing gets done without execution. It doesn’t matter how good the strategy or the leadership team or the business management or the processes without action that returns results. At the same time, the more resilient your company is, the more it can handle unexpected situations. This may include the need to work remotely, to engage collaboration outside of the office, even what to do when there is a natural disaster.
It is up to you to ensure work continues to get done and your company continues to thrive through new and different difficult situations.
When there is too much reliance on efficient processes, resilience is reduced. Where there is not enough efficiency in processes, resilience is reduced. A plan, reviewed occasionally and never used, is better than not having a plan or putting a plan in the trash because it was never used. The frameworks for automatic action allows for necessities to be taken care of first and then problem-solving the specifics to keep things going. While we don’t want to ever have to use emergency plans, our ability to respond increases when we have them in place.
It is easy to overlook systems that are not part of the daily and monthly process. In the unexpected, we must be able to execute a plan with confidence. Planning for the unexpected means thinking about situations that might never happen. Eric Brotman, CEO of BFG Financial Advisors, told me that, “It is bold trying things that are uncharted and unproven. You don’t always have evidence to make the decisions you need to make, but if you have the right people with you and you make decisions collaborative – you’re going to do the best you can.” It is bold trying things that are uncharted and unproven. You know you don’t always have evidence to make the decisions you need to make, but if you have the right people with you and you make decisions collaboratively – you’re going to do the best you can. In addition to planning for the unexpected, the execution of day-to-day activities matters too. With the initiatives set, you know what to focus on. All decisions support those initiatives and nothing else.
Channeling the energy and attention will you know:
- The problems to solve to move you toward the growth goals.
- The ways to collaborate to create the customer experience you want to have.
- How to assess situations internally to adjust focus and align activities.
- The amount of reasonably needed to complete work.
- Communication channels to find issues early and address them.
You have what it takes to make a resilient and effective leadership strategy.
Each of these four management areas are a place to start when grappling with big business problems. Know you can rely on starting from vision/foresight, innovation/development, communication/counseling, and strategy/execution to decide how to take stock of exactly where your business is at. With this information in hand, you are ready to explore new big opportunities, make changes to reduce threats (competitor and marketplace changes), where to focus resources for improvement, and where you are poised to innovate.
With your strategy in hand and priorities set, go make it happen.
For more tips on growth, leadership, and business strategic planning check out our previous articles
Still feel like you need a bit of help with some business direction on this topic? Then ACT to Plan by contacting me for a 30-Minute Unstuck Quick Consult. We’ll discuss your aims, where you are, and where you should be to move deliberately toward your team-building goals!