Category Archives: Leadership

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

Shared Work Program Helping More Than 700 Washington Businesses

By Chad Pearson, State of Washington Employment Security Department Shared Work Program

sharedwork-slide1_cropWashington businesses big and small continue to avoid layoffs using the Employment Security Department’s Shared Work Program.

Even as Washington’s unemployment rate has dropped to nearly five percent, more than 700 businesses in the state continue to use the program. That’s because Shared Work can be helpful not only during a recession or uneven economic times, but also when a supplier’s delivery is delayed or a road construction project has disturbed traffic outside their business.

Washington’s program is so effective at preventing layoffs, the U.S. Department of Labor recently promoted it as a model for other states, encouraging them to set up their own programs.  Continue reading

Great leadership is gender neutral.

by Mary Marshall, CEO Coach

There is a lot written today about which gender makes a better leader and depending upon the perspective, there are varying opinions. Recently, there was also an article in Fast Company about how women leaders were reviewed more harshly for “personality” or “emotional” characteristics, while men were praised for the same traits. If a woman leader gets emotional and yells at subordinates, she is immediately labeled negatively. A male leader can do the same thing and likely as not he will be called forceful or within his rights as the boss.

So there is still a double standard, which should not come as a huge surprise simply because there are still significantly more male leaders than there are female. However, at the end of the day, it’s changing and that’s a good thing. And even more importantly, I don’t think you can label men or women as better leaders. Leadership is individual and made up of many characteristics and gender can help or hurt, depending upon the individual.

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