Category Archives: Leadership

Are you ready to lead?

How good a leader are you? If a recent survey of small business owners by The Alternative Board (TAB) is accurate, it seems that most small business owners are feeling pretty confident.

In fact, a whopping 95 percent of entrepreneurs polled believe their leadership skills are “above average.”

That doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement, however.

When asked to identify the top areas in which they need to improve their leadership skills, entrepreneurs in the survey say:

  • Holding others accountable — 67 percent
  • Tending to my team’s development — 51 percent
  • Delegating to others — 41 percent
  • Demonstrating a strong vision — 41 percent
  • Communicating clearly — 40 percent

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Leadership: Facts and Reality

by Mary Marshall, CEO Coach

Leaders frequently become frustrated because those who are meant to follow; employees, constituents, members, followers, etc., often don’t see things the same as they do.

Consequently, divisions and divisiveness occur which almost always results in lack of progress.

While creating alignment behind a single vision has always been a challenge I believe these days it is getting progressively worse.

Particularly because there is so much being thrown at us nowadays. There is so much media and the content of much of it is dubious at best. People have an overload of communications fighting for their attention.  Continue reading

Your Budget: A Roadmap for 2017

by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting

It’s that time of year again. Most businesses are on a fiscal year which coincides with the calendar year. It is time to look back and reflect on 2016 as well as look forward and create the budget for 2017. 
A budget is a roadmap. Based on where you have been, it can help guide you to the desired final destination for year-end.
If you stay on the current course – where will you end up?  Alternatively, if you change the route – where will you be at the end of the year?  It is up to you to decide which path is the most profitable and most likely to be achieved.
Here are a few things to think about as you prepare your budget.

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Plan, plan and plan some more.

by Mary Marshall, CEO Coach

As 2016 winds down from fall to winter, it is the time most entrepreneurs and business leaders start thinking about next year. How did we do on the plan this year? What should we focus on next year? Do we have a Strategic Plan?

That last question is the one most asked. There are usually goals, and sometimes strategic direction, but for most small companies much more planning than this is rare. The problem, of course, is that if you don’t make it a priority, the direction you are going will be dictated by what is happening today. Or as I like to call it, “the whack-a-mole strategic plan.” We will take care of what comes up because we’re really good at fighting fires and taking care of problems. In other words, we react to circumstances vs. planning for the future.

So rather than just mole slaying, perhaps it’s time to do some quiet reflection and think about why you keep solving the same problem, why you never seem to make progress on your larger strategic goals, and why the team seems to be like arrows moving in different directions.  Continue reading

Everyday Leadership

by Mary Marshall, CEO Coach

I heard a TED Talk last week and I was reminded why leadership is really a series of everyday moments. Drew Dudley told a story about how one thing he did several years ago ended up being a turning point in someone else’s life. The funny thing was, he didn’t even remember doing it. I think this is probably true for most of us.

We are all leaders in our lives, our families, our communities, our work and just about every opportunity we have to touch other human beings. Leadership is not about a title, it’s about what you do as a human to help or inspire others. Dudley talks about it as times when “you fundamentally make someone’s life better.” If we take that as the most basic definition of leadership, we can all do that, every day.  Continue reading

Effective Staff Communication: Tips for Small Businesses

Your small business team is top-notch. Everyone has the skills needed to do their work, knows where they fit in and brings something unique to the table. So, why are you still feeling stressed when deadlines approach? There’s a good chance you can eliminate that stress by brushing up on your internal communication strategy. Whether you’re running a brick and mortar company or working with a virtual team, communication skills will help you meet deadlines faster and with ease.

How are you verbally approaching your employees? Are you saying too much? Not enough? Using ambiguous language?

Here are five basic rules that will help you make the most of communication in the workplace.

Rule No. 1: Keep it Simple

Over-complication can happen all too easily. This is especially common for those who spend a lot of time researching and learning from experts in the industry. While doing your homework is beneficial for most aspects of running a business, this can sometimes leak out into conversations with employees. In some cases, you’re giving them more information than what they need to do their jobs. Sifting through the information can take more time than necessary and lead to lower productivity. So, keep workplace communications simple and to the point.  Continue reading

Letting go of the monkey bars.

by Mary Marshall, CEO Coach

In several recent discussions with clients and with the Emerging Leaders class I teach at the SBA, an interesting example of a type of blockage to change has come up. Change happens around us all the time, every minute of every day. But rather than embracing the change, most of us spend our time trying to keep things the same or preserve what we have, leading to all sorts of outcomes that don’t really serve us.

In business, it looks like this. You have a new opportunity that seems for all intents and purposes like it could be great for the company. But, (and there is always a but), it would require that you give up or change a current product line, process or client that you have been dependent on for years. You’ve developed an “attachment” to whatever it is and no matter how good this new idea or option is, the old one has you trapped.

The analogy I used in class was that it was like a kid on the monkey bars. You can’t move forward if you don’t let go of the bar in the back. Being stuck with one hand forward and one back is painful, especially if you decide to skip a bar and really go for it! The problem is unless you let go of the old, you are going to do one of three things: fall off, reach backward, or be stuck in the awkward in-between phase, which serves no one.  Continue reading