Tag: entrepreneur

A Juggling Act- To Lead and Manage

May 15th, 2014   •   no comments   

Business requires a lot of juggling- juggling thoughts, time, people, resources, ideas, dollars… All this juggling can make anyMay_13_2014jugglinglotsone crazy.  In business, the owner, the executive, the solopreneur are generally the individuals with the most balls in the air. In fact, the very reason certain people are in charge is because they don’t just survive, they thrive on chaos and complexity.

How do they do it?  How do they not only maintain control but move forward?

People get so wrapped up in the blur and excitement of being in overdrive that they can never gain clarity. Decision making becomes a nightmare and yet they continue to add to the pandemonium, putting more balls in the air, instead of truly focusing on the business at hand.

Leaders need to develop an understanding of what it means to to lead and to manage at the same time.  Leadership generates strategy and planning which can be messy and mind-blowing. Management involves tactics, attention to detail and task-lists which are exacting and sometimes mind-numbing. They involve two separate mindsets, two different sets of skills.  Those in the position of having responsibilities for both are juggling two different roles, needing to be successful at both.  Keeping in mind, people are effective and things (machines, dollars, etc)  are efficient.

In a recent interview, I asked a middle manager how well they believed their international, Fortune 1000 company shared their vision and plan.  His response, “I’m not sure what the vision is any more. One minute it’s customer service, the next it’s profitability, the next it’s whatever flavor of the day, not the week, crops up.”

I next asked him what his company’s tagline was.  “I couldn’t really tell you that either.  I used to know it, but I don’t talk to marketing much. My vice president is busy maneuvering to be sure we have the resources we need.  He’s a great guy but, honestly, that’s why I never wanted to move up. I can’t be that political, I just want to do a great job,  provide a great service, hit my financial targets and unfortunately, that leaves me little time to help my company grow.”

Quite a sad testimonial, wouldn’t you say? It is simpler to focus on one aspect or the other. But it is almost impossible to create a situation where that luxury exists. There are business owners who seek to just lead, who delegate all managing to others. A few may succeed at this. But most lose touch with the business, its culture, and ultimately wake up to a business they don’t recognize or to a dire situation.

May13_2014_two ballsTo be truly successful, we will need to juggle by learning to lead and manage at the same time.

Please note this picture. It’s  is so much clearer.  Only two balls to juggle.

When the executive, owner, boss  focuses on leadership and guides, coaches, facilitates and mentors; as well as manages and controls tangible things  life will become much more positive and business would be much more successful.

As 720thinkers, we are continually striving to gain fresh ideas and insights to provide the best plans, strategies, tools and tactics possible to help people lead and manage at extraordinary levels.  We support:

  • cultures becoming  greenhouses for creativity and innovation
  • decision making to have high impact and relevant
  • communication to be open and collaborative
  • teams to be engaged and motivated

We would like to hear from you regarding your thoughts on how to master this juggling act – to lead and to manage.



Fear of Success

September 19th, 2013   •   no comments   

fishinabowl_Sept_17_2013 In business, as in life, there is a tremendous amount of pressure and fear.  We all know that some of those greatest fears are fear of failure, fear of public speaking, fear of….  Obviously, that list can go on and on. Interestingly enough, one of the greatest fears that people possess is the fear of success.

Abraham Maslow, a renowned psychologist, once wrote, “So often we run away from the responsibilities dictated (or rather suggested) by nature, by fate, even sometimes by accident, just as Jonah tried—in vain—to run away from his fate.”

In the Biblical story of Jonah and the Whale, Jonah tries to evade his destiny, is swallowed by a whale and successfully lives after spending three days and nights in its belly. Jonah eventually fulfills his destiny.  With the story in mind, the Jonah Complex was created. Although the complex has been attributed to Dr. Maslow, the Jonah Complex was originally suggested by his friend, Professor Frank Manuel.   The complex   is defined by Maslow as the fear of success which prevents self-actualization or the realization of one’s potential. It is the fear of one’s own greatness, the evasion of one’s destiny, or the avoidance of exercising one’s talents. 

Being fearful of success can seem counter-intuitive, it does explain how even the most apparently confident person can sabotage their success.  So, what are five of the signs that demonstrate that we might be experiencing the Jonah Complex?

1.      Procrastination – We keep putting off the “must dos” on our list and focus on the “comfortable-to-dos.”  For example, investors request a business plan and we can’t seem to get it done. We need to make cold calls and we send emails or call after business hours only to reach voice mail. A procrastination technique that hits close to home is to “rescue’ someone else because their business or problem is more important than mine.

2.      Not fully aware of capabilities – All too often, as leaders, we don’t know our individual or our company’s collective capabilities. We fail to succeed because we fail to evaluate our own skills, gifts and talents.  All too often, we can easily identify our weaknesses. As a result, we spend our time trying to “fix” those attributes or issues that can and won’t lead us to success anyway.

3.      Not emotionalizing our vision – There is no hope for success without passion. We fail to generate enough energy and emotion to propel us forward.  We would rather sleep, eat, party or any other of those “feel good” actions that give us short term happiness, not long term satisfaction.

4.      Letting others talk us out of the idea –We will talk about the dream, the idea or objective, rather than planning the approach. When we share our aspirations with others, we receive “advice.” Yes, the advice may be well meaning and have some merit for caution and consideration. But nothing, and I mean nothing, should cause us to cloister our dream on a shelf, gathering dust.

5.      Negative Self-talk – This last sign may actually occur because we have experienced the previous four.  Even though leaders and entrepreneurs know that we are capable of being successful, we don’t believe in it or more importantly in ourselves. Subsequently, our failure to believe in ourselves causes us to “talk” ourselves out of the idea even before it can get off the ground. The record that runs in our head can go like this: “Some else has done this already.” “I don’t have the right connections.” “We don’t have enough money.”

Now our dream is stalled and stymied.  Is that what we really want to have happen?

So, what can we do? And, more importantly, what will we do?

fishjumpingoutofbowl_Sept_17_2013We tackle these five signs that we use to sabotage our success. We confront our fears by being:

  1. Pro-active - The surest way to overcome procrastination is for leaders to commit and focus on what is important to the success of our endeavor. We set aside time to strategize, plan, set objectives, goals and action plans and we let NOTHING interrupt that time or process.
  2. Ongoing evaluators of our capabilities – As leaders, we become life-long self and organizational evaluators. In self and organizational evaluation process, we take a long hard look at what are our greatest strengths, our successes and the challenges we had to overcome. This is much more difficult than we often realize, research shows that 80 to 85% of our evaluations will be directed at our failures, limitations and weaknesses.
  3. Put PASSION behind our vision – Now is not the time to be humble. In order to build momentum towards success, we need to think amazing thoughts, feel tremendous excitement and share our idea and ideals in an exhilarated manner that captures, at the very least, our heart, our head and our soul.
  4. Thoughtfully consider input – No one can be successful in a bubble. We cannot go it alone. However, be very, very discerning with how and whom you share your ideas. Life-long friends, colleagues and even trusted advisors may have, consciously or not, have their own agendas and interests.  Even the most well-meaning input doesn’t necessarily have full understanding or appreciation of what we are trying to accomplish. Instead of spending time trying to convince and explain our ideas, we need to be careful not slip into that time-wasting trap. Instead, we keep moving forward towards success.
  5. Positive Self-talk – We need to change the recording playing in our head. We need to use positive self-talk to propel us forward, saying it over and over again, in our head and aloud. Even writing on post-it notes, what we are and what we capable of doing is one of the most valuable tools to lead us to success. I have even left myself a voice message to myself stating a positive affirmation (aka – positive self-talk). This can be a lifeline when we hit a wall.

In summary, if we take the premise of the Jonah Complex, that we are destined for success and we must overcome all the obstacles that prevent us from being fully actualized, then we will not ever need to fear success again.

Lead Your Teams to Own, Not Rent

July 26th, 2013   •   no comments   

car_rental_July_23_2013Recently, I heard this comment on a talk show – “One does NOT wash a car rental.” The discussion went on to explain that a person doesn’t wash a rental because they don’t OWN the car.  Pretty simple concept and oh so true.

 With a car rental, we obey the rules, return the car without scratches and dents, fill the gas tank or pay for it, but we don’t wash the car or clean the interior, that’s the “real” owner’s job – the rental company. 

 Employees often take the same approach.  The partially interested, partially engaged employee will be sure to follow the rules, work within the parameters of the job, stay within the confines of the budget, keep their nose clean and generally return the job at the end of the day to the owner without “washing.”  Sure, they met requirements of the job, but did they take the time to examine, review, evaluate results and readjust plans for improvement the next time?

 As much as leaders, executives and entrepreneurs want a team that takes pride and owns their responsibility, the reality is all too many leaders actually allow their employees to be renters, to just be mediocre. What if the leader found ways to build ownership? 

 First, let’s review some leadership behaviors that support “renting.”

 ·         Fixing.  A wise man once wrote – “People’s destiny is not really in your hands. In the final analysis, every man’s destiny is in his own hands.” Norman Vincent Peale.  Leaders all too often what to “fix” people. The mistake in this approach is that people don’t need fixing.  They need to be inspired.  When, we try to help others overcome their flaws, their shortcomings, their inadequacies they often wait for us to give them the solution.  This only enables them not to learn, to not grow, and to contribute only marginally.  You tell us what company can afford to invest time in repairing others’ work.

·         Let it slide.  Richard Yates, author of Revolutionary Road, wrote, “It’s a disease. Nobody thinks or feels or cares any more; nobody gets excited or believes in anything except their own comfortable little God damn mediocrity.” Being easy going, giving and nurturing is NOT the role of the leader. Being a leader is tough. We have to step up to the plate and OWN our responsibilities. People may want to sit and be comfortable, but what they need is to have some adversity and challenges to overcome.  Quality products and services don’t get made or delivered by average workers. When leaders overlook behaviors that support passing the buck, blaming , hiding under the radar, or just plain – not doing their job -  they sabotage any hope for success.

·         Seeking consensus.  I love this quote by Margaret Thatcher – “To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies.  So it is something in which no one believes and no one objects.”  There are many problems with always trying to build consensus. Problems such as wasting time, losing focus, or trying to be popular, not productive.If leaders want to build strong teams, they have to be willing to set the target and allow people to step up, act as team and get results.  The more we attempt to coddle and cajole employees, partners and other stakeholders, the further we get from achieving truly extraordinary results.

·         Telling People YOUR Vision.  If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking”   George Patton  The average, mediocre team can spout off the “canned” vision statement.  Leaders often mistake people’s ability to state the company’s vision statement for understanding, buy in and appreciation of the big picture.  This generally is furthest from the truth.  When people don’t have to think, they generally have not made an emotional connection to the lofty idea and ideals of the company.  They do what they are told and nothing more.

motivated_employee_July_23_2013So how do leaders build ownership?

 Rather than fixing, letting it slide, seeking consensus and telling your vision, leaders can build ownership in many ways. For 720thinkers one of the outstanding actions to promotes ownership is to inspire people.  Again, I would like to share another quote by Dr. Peale – “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”

The strongest leaders engage their employees by helping them to discover their motivations and belief in their own capabilities. As a results, individual motivators will help align goals and actions with a vision that is so compelling, so addictive that they wouldn’t think of returning their job at the end of the day with a thorough cleaning because they own their job.

Promoting ownership is one of the leader’s primary roles.  Are you the leader that promotes employees “renting” and not owning their jobs?  If so, now is the time to consider the ways that you can lead people to own not just rent their job.


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