An open communication culture starts with the leader

Talking about the leadership mindset and communication culture of a particular team, Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford Motor Company, said “Like a lot of companies, you only brought an issue to your supervisor if you had a solution. So now, you’re just managing a secret. You don’t know what’s going on.”

This approach is not unique to that particular organization. I remember being given that same advice as an employee. Being told just that: don’t go to your supervisor with a problem if you don’t have a solution. And later, in a position of leadership, I was reprimanded by a colleague for having brought up an issue during a leadership meeting. I was told: “We don’t tell him these things. It makes us look back.”


That blew my mind. It made absolutely no sense to me.

“Isn’t that why we have these meetings?”

Of course, now, years later, with much more experience, now as an executive, I can say with...

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Crazy Idea or Business Opportunity?

Phil Knight, the creator of Nike, once said: “History is one long processional of crazy ideas. The things I loved most – books, sports, democracy, free enterprise – started as crazy ideas.”

Let's face it. Entrepreneurs are usually known for having a ton of ideas. They're idea-making machines. And it might be tempting, as a small business owner who's looking to grow, to try all these ideas. That infamous shiny object syndrome. “This is exciting, let's try this.” “That is exciting. Let's try that.”

But what quick framework could you use to begin evaluating whether you should explore pursuing your latest “crazy idea”?

Is there a market for it?

The very first thing to consider: is their market for it? Are there people with access to money who will be willing to part with their hard-earned cash for what you're offering? Because if you're targeting a group that can't afford what you're offering, that's problematic.

Of course, if...

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Problems Masquerading as Time Management Issues

Anyone leading any kind of initiative knows that there are several aspects, departments, teams that come together to contribute to success.

And the leader is usually the one keeping an eye on everything.

We are frequently the head juggler, trying to keep all the balls in the air, or – at least – we work really hard at not dropping too many. As part of that juggling exercise, we tend, some of us anyway, to want all the things all at once this month.

What we must keep in mind though, is that there's an extremely fine line between pushing for results and overextending ourselves and our team.

If you find yourself, or you're finding your team, frequently remarking that there's not enough time, then it's important to start digging into the issue and make sure that we're not in fact setting ourselves up or setting our team up for burnout.

So how can we evaluate whether what seems on the surface like a time management issue is actually hiding a much larger problem?

Review your...

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Where to Start to Craft a Solid People Strategy

In the past few years, anyone leading an organization must have noticed that there has been a higher focus on improving organizational culture, redefining the employee experience, and leading with positive impact.

And one of the strategies used to help organizations implement transformational initiatives is to craft a solid people strategy.

For leaders who know that they should have a people strategy but don't know where to start, here are a few ideas that can help.

Break down the journey

The first thing to do is to break down the journey into sections and work on one aspect of it at a time.

Create a targeted talent acquisition strategy 

The first section to start with is creating a targeted talent acquisition strategy. Why would you want to create a targeted talent acquisition strategy? To make sure that you're attracting the candidates who are most likely to be successful within your organization.

The “right talent” is not the same for everyone. Not everyone has...

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Essential Financial Basics for Business Owners

Recently, I talked about the importance of considering cash, not just the profit and loss statement, when running an organization. As a result, I was asked by a business owner: “What financial reports should I be looking at?”

Again, I am not an accountant. But I work closely with a trusted team of seasoned accounting professionals. And I highly, highly recommend that any business owner takes the time to work with a trusted accounting professional.

They are not all created equally, so take your time and find someone that you get along with, and answers your questions in a way that makes you feel as though they will be an awesome partner in helping you grow and sustain your business.

Even though, as business owners, we're not accounting professionals, and we're not expected to have the depth of knowledge that accounting professionals have, it's still essential for leaders to understand the basics of accounting – the basics of financials – to be able to make...

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Collaborating With Your Past Self

Have you ever been in a position where you had to revisit a past decision that you made, but when you started reviewing the available information, you couldn't remember why and how you came to that decision?

Yeah, that happens to me too.

As leaders, we have so much going on, so many decisions to make day in, day out. At some point some of the details will escape us.

So how can we help guard against losing too many valuable decision making details?

Leave explanatory notes

Whether it's when creating a budget, collecting metrics, or analyzing information, taking a moment to record your thought process could help yourself and other reviewers better understand what they are looking at and what was my thought process.

It doesn’t need to be long. Adding brief notes, a short comment, a thought, is sufficient.

This also helps provide an overview of some of the history, because that tends to get lost as well. If a team member suddenly leaves, that is a loss of history. This is a way to...

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The Quick Risk Forecast That Helps Generate a Faster, Strategically Sound Solution

It's great when we get lots of time to dig into a problem before having to choose a solution to implement.

I love it when that happens!

Except that, in my experience, it rarely ever happens. In fact, in my experience, leaders usually have to make decisions essentially while still processing incoming information.

More than once, I have found myself having to stop and refocus because my mind was wandering off in “analysis land” in the middle of a meeting.

So, what process could we follow if we wanted to do a rapid risk forecast?

Ask yourself four simple questions

The first thing we could do is ask ourselves for simple questions:

  • What could go wrong?
  • What is the likelihood of this happening?
  • What would be the consequences if this were to happen?
  • What is the level of impact of these consequences?

Write it all out.

If you have something that is likely to happen and the consequences are low, consider whether it is something that is extremely risky that you need to address...

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Favoring Year-End Investing Over Year-End Spending

Anyone managing any kind of budget has surely come across a version of “You need to spend money to make money”.

Without any kind of guidelines or caveats, this can actually be a very dangerous statement.

Unbridled, that mindset could actually lead an organization to bankruptcy.

I would argue that we need to invest money to make money, and not all business purchases are an investment just because we really, really, want something. That desire alone doesn't turn it into an investment. Sometimes, it is just plain old spending.

As the year-end approaches, many business owners are having conversations with their accountants about taxes. And it might be tempting to try to reduce a business’ tax load by spending money. But it's important to take a moment to consider what that money will actually provide in return.

So, what can we do to help guide our thinking and help us make the distinction between year-end investing and year-end spending?

Consider the expense itself


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Being a Successful People-Centric Leader Requires Perspective

As leaders who are actively seeking to have a positive impact, leaders who genuinely want to understand and support their team members as unique individuals, we must expand our universe. We must engage with the world in ways that will help us view it through different lenses.

What can we do to help us gain more of that perspective?

Exchange Ideas With Someone Outside of Your Field of Expertise

Think about it. When was the last time you did that? When was the last time that you exchanged ideas with someone outside of your field of expertise?

It doesn't happen that often.

Reality is, individuals in the same field tend to read the same books, speak to the same people, attend the same conferences. And so, we find ourselves living in this microcosm. Which means we need to step out of that to gain more perspective.

To keep growing as leaders, it's important to also engage in business conversations with those outside our field of expertise, to learn more about how they operate their...

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Are You Progressingā€¦ in the Wrong Direction?

Running a business, being a leader, requires a lot of energy.

And sometimes, the demands of the day pull us in the direction that it dictates.

Next thing you know, you find yourself with an ever-expanding task list, constantly short on time, forever exhausted, and the busyness of running a business has caught you in its web.

I'm not saying that you're not working hard. You're working very, very hard.

But you're working hard on the wrong things and you're headed in the wrong direction.

And, in a few months, maybe a year or two even, you'll realize that you keep getting farther and farther away from your goals.

So what can you do to get out of this busyness web?

Stop and Re-Evaluate Your Priorities

The first thing you can do is to stop for a moment. Hit that virtual pause button. Stop and reevaluate your priorities.

When doing so, ask yourself:

What area of the business needs your attention the most this quarter?

That's going to change. It's going to be fluid. For sure, we don't want...

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