360 Degree Feedback
Leadership 106: Developing the CEO and Executive Team: 360 Feedback
As a business owner or executive, you may think you have an intuitive sense of how things are going with your business. You may even think you have a pretty good idea of how you rate as a leader. Here is an inconvenient truth: chances are, you don’t.
Many leaders are surprised to hear this, some even take offense. But it’s not personal – it is simply that as the decision maker, you also become “THE BOSS.” You may be a great leader, and you may think you are doing a great job. The problem is, if you aren’t - most people won’t tell you. The reality is that people are often concerned with their own survival, and this means protecting a ‘cordial’ relationship with the person who signs their paychecks.
When employees start tiptoeing around their leadership, valuable data to identify opportunities, take corrective measures or implement effectively - gets stuck. What’s more, communication suffers, misunderstandings occur, and people become more concerned with protecting their job or status than bringing value to the company. As a leader busy managing the day-to-day tasks of running a company, it is surprisingly easy to become out-of-synch or excluded from knowing what is really going on.
The good news is that you can get a reliable reading on your organization. And, as a leader you can start by soliciting candid, constructive and honest feedback on your performance from the people who interact with you most. By leading the way, you immediately open the channels for valuable information, demonstrate that your employees can trust the process, and set a standard for the rest of your team.
A highly effective way to get the information you need is to conduct 360 degree assessments. A “360” is a process of gathering data from your associates, peers, and direct reports to gauge strengths and weaknesses in areas such as:
Managing people Direction Setting Integrity and Trust
Listening Ability Leadership ability Communication
Empowerment Strategic Vision Decision Making
…just to name a few.
It takes courage to institute a regular feedback mechanism such as a 360. Many folks squirm when it comes to hearing what others perceive us to be. But remember this: people behave with you based on how they perceive you, not as you are.
Go ahead and take the leap. Create an organizational culture where constructive feedback is the norm, not the exception. And have it start at the top with you.
-- written by Mike Whitehead, as published by Greater Charlotte Biz Mag
Leadership 105: Being True to Your Primary Purpose
We all have a sense of our true purpose. As leaders, we can easily be pulled away from this and get distracted by “running the business.” As business owners, our attention can shift from providing value for our clients/customers to being concerned about the survival of the business. This can easily impact our sense of satisfaction and fulfillment related to running a company.
As most seasoned business owners know, the primary purpose of a business is NOT TO MAKE MONEY.
Note that I said the “primary” purpose is not to make money. Making money is a by-product of the primary purpose. So what is the primary purpose of your business?
The primary purpose is bringing value to your customer/client. If this is done well and consistently, then money will follow naturally. You know you are doing your job, and providing great value when your clients continue to pay you. If people are not paying, you are not providing value.
People can miss this simple concept because they get fearful when business begins to drop off, and they slip into “survival mode.” Survival mode clouds judgment and the focus becomes “getting more business,” instead of what fuels the business in the first place.
The first step in renewal of purpose is in recognizing when you have fallen into this condition. A few warning signs include:
o being regularly worried and concerned.
o working much longer than usual.
o having trouble enjoying the moment.
o being less optimistic and positive with your employees.
o finding your interest in the business waning.
Getting out of this state requires an intentional commitment to rediscover your primary purpose. Ask yourself why you started the business. What were you passionate about? What contribution did you want to make?
Sometimes, being an entrepreneur and business owner can be a lonely experience. We often keep things to ourselves, managing our thoughts and fears alone. This can lead to more isolation and delay breakthroughs. Often, talking through our situation with an outside confidant and good listener will make a huge difference. By opening up and sharing our concerns, we can often gain a distance from these concerns and see them in a different light.
This allows us to get back in touch with our primary purpose, being of service to others. Being of service to others leads to business development, which leads to making more money, the by-product of our primary intention. -- written by Mike Whitehead, as published by Greater Charlotte Biz
Leadership 104: The Discipline of Integrity
Many people agree that business is a network of relationships and that the success of any business relies on its relationships working.
The intentional leader recognizes his/her role in making relationships work. In this regard, one of our most important and effective tools is cultivating the discipline of integrity.
While there are a few definitions of the word integrity, the one I refer to is ‘the state of being complete, whole, or sound.’ An intentional leader is often recognized for fulfilling agreements, completing commitments, having consistency of character and uncompromised focus on the task at hand. This is often simply referred to as “good follow through.”
It’s not easy, because leading with integrity requires consistently giving and keeping one’s word. What we give our word to and how we deliver it strengthens our working relationships. People want to do business with folks who do what they say.
Here are a few guidelines for cultivating a habit of integrity:
• Be Discerning: Everything is important, but not everything can be a priority. The intentional leader must set priorities, make commitments that are consistent with the vision, and be willing to decline opportunities that while attractive, aren’t essential to execution of that vision.
• Be Certain: If you say, ‘let’s have lunch’ – schedule a time and date immediately. If you commit to a deliverable, be specific about the details and deadline of the project and deliver it on time. If you support an initiative, back it up by donating money and influence
• Be Realistic: Don’t over-commit. Don’t plan to get somewhere in 15 minutes when you know it’s usually more like 20. Don’t plan back-to-back meetings if you have a client who chats for several minutes after each appointment. Don’t set yourself up for being late or having to reschedule appointments.
• Be Present: Make sure you show up for, and are mentally present for your commitments. Delivering on our word isn’t subject to how we ‘feel,’ or what we ‘prefer,’ in that moment. Part of being effective is being reliable and being fully focused on our commitments even when it appears inconvenient or unattractive.
• Be Self-Aware: Our word begins with the commitment we have to our own core values. Being honest and consistent with these is a foundation of integrity and the bedrock of intentional leadership.
A commitment to integrity and ‘being one’s word’ is a hallmark of the intentional leader and all workable relationships.
-- written by Mike Whitehead, as published by Greater Charlotte Biz Mag
Leadership 101: Self Awareness
The habit of self-awareness is critical to be an Intentional Leader.
While the term is often herded into spiritual or metaphysical conversations, “to be self-aware” means simply to be awake to one’s traits, feelings and behaviors. As obvious as that sounds, self-awareness takes some practice.
Instead, we tend to react to things in an automatic way. We often see the world through filters of our own experience. Our personal history and the perspectives that accompany them can literally program our reactions.
Like a ‘default’ setting on a computer, this is our ‘default’ mode of being. The problem with a default mode is that it causes us to make assumptions and decisions about people and situations with subjective - and sometimes just plain wrong - information. What’s more it gives the illusion that we know more about a situation than we actually do. For a leader, this is a fatal flaw.
Conversely, when a leader cultivates and practices self-awareness, a space opens up between stimulus and response that creates inspired possibilities for leadership. The Intentional Leader learns to “suspend” judgments, reactions and automatic behavior.
Perhaps you have seen the film technique where everything in an intense action shot is frozen in time and movement except for one character? That character can then move around the scene and view what is happening from all perspectives, with temporary freedom from the action taking place. After the character assimilates the information, he makes a clever move and action resumes.
This is what suspension is about. It is what separates an inspired decision from a resigned decision; a decision aligned with objectives, purpose, and values or one processed through an individual’s personal experience. It is also what brings a decision into the present moment, with an eye to the future, as opposed to replaying old tapes of past performance. This is why innovation relies upon it.
Self-awareness also permits an open-leadership style that facilitates the relationships, and subsequent information to make the best decisions. When we practice default leadership, our decisions are based on executing an agenda rather than acknowledging 'what is.’ When this happens, we blindly cut off information, possibilities, creativity and ultimately, the prosperity of an organization
This doesn’t mean leaders become perfect people. Only that they possess a vital tool to make intentional decisions about their organization. What they choose to do after that is a matter of integrity.