In the Spirit of #CoolICat Leadership (The Art of Living Courage, Integrity and Conviction.)

Great leadership is the key to success. Great communication is the key to great leadership. Think of any great leader in modern time: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr, and John F. Kennedy come to mind immediately. They were powerful leaders because they could inspire people to follow them. It was their ability to articulate their vision that made them successful in achieving their goals.

In running a company, the one-in-charge must be the leader who inspires the team to great heights. To get them to follow such a leader, their values and own visions must be listened to, and then the leader establishes  the right environment for them to thrive and grow.

Values:

When I mention values, everyone nods their heads as if of course, Kai, that’s obvious. But, when I check up on this piece, I find the last time managers and leaders discussed their values personal and professional with their team, was often in the interview before their people were even hired.

If you are truly the leader of your team, you must clearly know your personal values and your organization values to lead effectively. One can only give what they have, so to impart integrity to your team, you must be the first example of the values you say you believe in. So, in that vein, do the answers to these questions come readily to mind?

Personally:

1. What do you stand for?
2. What is most important to you?
3. What would you like your life to demonstrate?
4. What is your personal mission in life?

 

For example, when I did my bit of soul-searching a couple of years ago, I determined what my three most important values were: conviction (my beliefs), integrity, and courage. I also selected my two values that I felt I did well in (kindness) and that I felt I needed to work on (inner strength–having courage over the long-run when obstacles are daunting).

Professionally:

1. What do you stand for?
2. What are you willing to do to get new business?
3. What are you not willing to do?
4. Do you have a professional mission statement?

 

I know, you’ve heard all about purposes and mission statements until they have just become meaningless words, right? Nonetheless, they are still important, if not for the mere exercise of crystallizing your objective (purpose) and how you will arrive to your destination (mission). Think of purpose and mission  as the map and the compass, respectively: the map is what you’re going to achieve, the compass is your how. When the rubber meets the road, and you are in the midst of competing ideas, products all clamoring for your time and energy, having a defined purpose and mission shaves off the fluff, and helps to keep your focus.

In your compass, (mission) you must decide what you will accept as progress to your goal,  and what you are not willing to accept in your efforts to reach it. Having integrity as part of my company’s mission, I am willing to encourage others to reach their own goals, personally (off-time) and professionally as it contributes to the overall goal of the company. Within those parameters, there is a lot of room for people’s individual skills to develop and grow as they would want, while furthering progress to the company’s objective.

One thing I will NOT accept as a means to achieve our company goals, is deceit. Deceit is the opposite of integrity. I have no tolerance for false claims, or non-accountability in my employees. It’s perfectly all right to make mistakes; I prefer them. Mistakes are useful–they are fantastic teachers. So, I’d rather a person own up to a mistake, than cover it up. It’s more important to me to face a problem head-on, rather than wondering why sales are dropping after a particular sales campaign launched, without beta-testing it first.

Quality leaders don’t change their values over time to achieve short-term success. Just like the stars that sextons used to measure in the bygone age of sailing unknown seas, values don’t change for us. They are constant. And through the practice of our values, consistent core organizational value systems form the strong foundation for long-term success for a small business or a conglomerate.

A simple definition is that your values are the rules by which you play the game. A well-defined value system makes all decisions easier and encourages your team to go where you lead.

Vision 

It’s easy to say you have a vision for your business. It’s your lifeblood. You know it inside out. Writing it down is the next step. Sharing it widely with your team is imperative too. Even more importantly, your vision for the business must provide a unifying picture so that everyone on the team regardless of job function can see exactly where you’re going and the importance of their role in getting there. Therefore, the clearer the concept and the clearer (i.e., short and simple) the message is, the more likely you, and your team, can achieve the goal. Your vision needs to answer three questions. And it must answer those three questions for everyone on the team.

1. What do we do?
2. How do we do it?
3. For whom do we do it?

As Jim Collins proved in his book, From Good to Great, this is not a 30-minute, one meeting exercise. This requires 100% participation. It can’t be a top-down decision. It must be  inclusive, to ensure buy-in, and later, accountability.

Environment

Andrew Carnegie said: You must capture and keep the heart of the original and supremely able man before his brain can do its best. When you understand what is at the core of your team members, you can serve them and allow them to reach their full potential. Value their uniqueness. Your team members are your internal customers. You must treat them at least as well as your external customers. This is the highest level of customer service.

 

Looking around at businesses today, there seems to be a plethora of problematic interactions and dysfunctions. The market has been employer-oriented for almost ten years, and while that has been great for budding entrepreneurs and finding rich people resources, I caution fellow leaders not to disregard the aspiration of  strong, sustaining leadership values. It will be the difference between short term gains and long-term growth.

Shape the right work environment and you’ll have loyal team members to lead. That means, you have to create a work environment that respects each person, appreciates them and rewards their effort, and encourages an openness to change. Make it a safe environment, one which encourages trying new ideas. When you unleash personal creativity, each team member has a stake in the outcome. It’s an environment that promotes growth at all levels. Combine all three elements and you have a formula for inspiring greatness and leading to breakthrough success.  YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS WILL BE UNSTOPPABLE.

Do it now!

 

KaiCarra is the owner of both traditional and digital marketing agencies. She founded and developed her first small business at 26 yrs old. It was “Pangaea”  a private school. When it began, she had two students -when she sold it five years later, she had 400 enrollees in her registration.

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