Roy's Blog: Leadership

December 4, 2017

9 clever things average leaders do that make themselves remarkable

Why are some leaders mediocre while others are wildly successful? Exactly what differentiates the leader that their followers “love” from the one who may have subordinates but no followers?

Over my 30+ year business journey I have witnessed and reported to many different leaders; some brilliant and some not so much.

My conclusion is that those who constantly deliver superlative performance through passionate and turned on teams have a very specific profile.

1. They are of “average” intelligence; NOT superstar intellectuals. Their academic pedigree satisfies the entry requirements to climb the ladder and they view it that way - the ante to play the leadership game.

2. They acquire a repertoire of practical skills from their experience. They build it by actively engaging in the implementation activities of their organization’s strategy. This allows them to be able to solve a range of problems that others without implementation depth cannot.

Practical skills

3. Their stable of mentors is broad and deep. They are able to draw on a vast resource base of skills and experience to support them and provide advice.

4. They are strategic micromanagers. They pick and choose the “hills” that require their personal involvement as the leader and they dive in. They don’t believe in across-the-board delegation; particularly in matters dealing with serving customers. They personally “paint a picture” in great detail to all employees of what they expect the customer experience to look like.

5. They spend copious amounts of time with the frontline. Gathering feedback from the people who are key to executing the organization’s strategy is a top priority to them, and frontline employees continually witness the leader’s presence in their workplace - listening, asking questions, taking notes.

6. They are consummate communicators. They are able to draw emotional support from people by presenting their vision and values in a compelling and passionate way. And they are “in the faces” of employees regularly, reporting on the progress of their strategy and stressing what action needs to be taken in the short term to improve performance.

Communicators

7. They never break a promise. They do what they say, and influence others to adopt the same behaviour as a fundamental organizational value. And ultimately this treatment is manifested in how customers are served and forms a vital component of their competitive strategy.

8. They are effective at letting go. They treat eliminating work that is no longer relevant to their strategy with the same priority as adopting new challenges. They close the doors on new hires until they can be satisfied that no further “CRAP” can be eliminated.

9. They thrive on imperfection. They understand that seeking the perfect solution consumes time and energy that could be applied to implementing and learning. They emphasize that “doing stuff” and learning on the run is more important than over-studying and risk aversion.

“Made to lead” is not for everyone; it requires noncompliance with many accepted norms of leadership. The thing is, its fundamentals create vibrant cultures and brilliant performance.

So why would any leader want to be “normal”?

Cheers, Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 12.4.17 at 03:44 am by Roy Osing
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November 20, 2017

Successful business people do these 10 things best

Successful business people focus on ten things that others don’t.

They:

1. Understand that the way to serve customers in an exemplary way is to serve employees in the same manner. If employees don’t provide exceptional service to one another in their daily roles, they are unlikely to provide customers with caring service that goes above and beyond what they expect.

2. Have a strategic game plan for themselves and use it as THE context for everything they do. They are guided by strategy, not tactics. They avoid chasing anything that doesn’t have direct line of sight to their strategy.

Successful

3. Don’t over-analyze everything. The degree of study depends on the risk associated with the decision to be made. They don’t get mesmerized with the tools of analysis; they use them appropriate to the level and risk inherent in the decision to be made.

4. Don’t look for perfection. The quest for the perfect solution (which doesn’t exist in any event) only takes valuable time away from execution. They understand that success is a function of making tries, and doing lots of imperfect stuff fast.

5. Are the champions of change in their organization which gives them currency among their peers and colleagues and the ability to garner the resources required to get things done. They get nervous with the status quo and always look for opportunities to create a discontinuity to force the organization out of its comfort zone.

6. Are crazy about execution. They are comfortable with loosening up on the development of their plan and not trying to make it perfect. They believe in getting the plan “just about right”, and focusing on execution. They understand that performance depends on how well they execute, not on the brilliance of the plan and strategy.

7. Spend copious amounts of time with the frontline; people in the organization who deal directly with customers. This is the way to find out what’s really going on. They want to discover the issues personally to make meaningful change, and not be jaded by what others want them to believe. They don’t have a stay in the office mentally.

8. Have a contrarian belief system by nature. They believe that the source of opportunity lies not in copying what others are doing, but rather charting a course that no one else is on. They are true 180 degree thinkers who look to go in the opposite direction to others.

9. Place a priority on meeting with customers regularly. There is no substitute for getting feedback on performance directly from a customer. They make it a priority and schedule it weekly on their calendar. And if faced with a conflict between attending an internal meeting or keeping a customer commitment, the customer wins.

10. Are relentless and voracious learners. Standing still intellectually isn’t an option in a world changing every instant. Value added to the organization depends on business people keeping up. They are “learning leaders” who believe staying ahead of the learning curve is essential to success.

The smart generation of business people know that success doesn’t come from an academic pedigree.

They know that brilliant performance is the result of practising the fundamentals of being different than the competition, staying close to customers, serving employees and executing strategy in the trenches.

Cheers, Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 11.20.17 at 01:06 am by Roy Osing
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November 6, 2017

The one simple thing remarkable leaders do

What defines a remarkable leader; what single thing separates the average leader from the standout leader?

There is no silver bullet to becoming a remarkable leader; rather it is the result of practicing a number of “little things” consistently, with unrelenting commitment and passion.

But there IS one role, however, if performed well, enhances leadership effectiveness and also enables a leader to stand apart from the crowd who practice their art from theory and textbooks.

How can I help

Strategy execution is THE key role that brilliant leaders apply most of their energy on.

Great leaders are defined by their accomplishments not by their intellectual prowess alone.

A great idea that dies on paper and can’t successfully implemented defines failure regardless how clever the idea is.

How does a leader build the competence to execute that others view with awe?

They spend their time in the frontline trenches where individuals serve customers and deliver, maintain and support the organization’s products and services.

And their message to the troops isn’t a declaration of lofty intent; it’s a down-to-earth question they ask of each team member constantly: “How can I help?”.

“How can I help?” releases superlative execution because it leads to the removal of the barriers that prevent individuals from performing their roles effectively.

When there is pervasive smooth and seamless role performance, systems and procedures function well, promises to customers are consistently kept, product and service breakdowns are minimized, customer service perception is high, mistakes are reduced and rework costs are avoided.

In addition to enabling effective execution, “How can I help?” offers other key strategic benefits.

1. It promotes quality improvement and cost reduction. Front-liners know how things should be done right the first time as well as what needs fixing.

2. It drives innovation by pulling up and shining a light on the creative ideas of every employee and particularly frontline employees closest to the customer.

3. It stimulates employee engagement by reaching out to people and using their ideas to make the “internal world” of the organization easier and more productive.

4. It facilitates competitive advantage by out hustling others who are plagued with ineffective procedures and systems, “dumb rules” and dysfunctional execution.

5. It leads to a reduction in employee turnover. People are less inclined to switch employers when they feel they are making a positive contribution and are valued for doing so.

One simple question.

Numerous strategic benefits.

If you’re looking for the ONE action to take to become an amazing leader like no other, start with asking the question.

Cheers, Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 11.6.17 at 04:19 am by Roy Osing
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September 25, 2017

4 practical ways a leader can keep on growing

Once you’ve grasped the leader brass ring you’ve made it; now you can relax and ride the wave until you decide to do something else.

If that’s what you believe, get ready for a rude awakening.

What you’ve earned today, you must fight to keep tomorrow. It’s amazing to witness a leader in free fall who doesn’t stay relevant to their organization.

Every standout leader has a personal development plan; a strategy to continually build their value as an individual that can enhance the performance and long term survival of the organization.

Leader growing

A personal development plan should have these four elements.

1. New organizational capabilities. Defining the new skills and competencies that must be acquired if the organization is to retain its competitive position - and the current ones that must be abandoned because they’re no longer relevant.
Long term success isn’t about continuing to do what created past success; it’s about defining the course to be charted that will meet the challenges tomorrow of changing customer demands, disruptive technology and new competition.
The survivor leader must paint themselves a rich and detailed picture of what the organization must look like tomorrow if it is to continue to thrive.

2. Personal competencies. Given the new capabilities the organization needs to develop for future success, the leader defines the new skills they must possess and an action plan to acquire them.
If for example, their business faces much more aggressive competition brought on by new disruptive technology, a personal development plan to learn and practice new marketing skills would be very appropriate.
For leaders to grow, they must continually be morphing their skill set to be synergistic with the challenges facing the organization.

3. 360 degree feedback. Obtaining feedback from others on a leader’s performance is a vital element of a personal development plan.
Many organizations use this tool to measure performance; I believe, however, that it has the most powerful impact as a personal development tool.
Personally, the 360 was most useful in obtaining feedback from my peers; my boss and direct reports tended to rate me favourably and from them it was difficult to define a specific improvement action plan. My peers, in the other hand, had no problem hammering me on behaviour they thought inappropriate.
I used my 360 results to improve my performance and to identify developmental experience and skill gaps that I had to close.

4. A lateral move. Most leaders don’t give this element of their personal development plan the attention it deserves; in fact it is rarely mentioned.
As a developmental tool, however, negotiating a lateral move into a completely different position has invaluable growth benefits for the individual.
I moved from VP Marketing to VP Operations and it was the best thing I could have done. I applied my strategic skills to the operations role and took away an “in the trenches” practical experience that served me well on my way to a president position.
Moving around the organization is the most effective way for a leader to develop themselves and enhance their relevance to the organization.
And it gets them known in all corners of the organization as a leader who wants to learn all aspects of the organization.

A leader that doesn’t have a personal growing plan is at risk of being irrelevant sooner or later.

Don’t be a victim.

Cheers, Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 9.25.17 at 04:16 am by Roy Osing
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