It’s not about how good you are, it’s about how good you want to be.
Well do you? What’s your purpose? What’s your fate? Do you believe you were destined to do something? Don’t you worry child, heaven has a plan for you.
We all have come across those winners in meetings that love to use the latest business buzzword. You know the ones? They recite words and phrases you know they just heard for the first time while watching the Dragon’s Den last night.
You realize soon after school that the vocabulary you use has very little to do with your life and is more so correlated with pretentiousness. Yet the words below are used everyday, some times more than once, in offices and during meetings all over the world in hundreds of different languages. Well I’m sure other languages have their own overused meaningless terms that tend to follow the commerce crowd.
Before you start remember these are just opinions, please don’t be offended. Instead add your own overused word or phrase. Heck lets make this list longer!! Comment below with yours!!
The obvious one. Just stop it. Nothing says I’m a first year business student than using Synergy on purpose in a sentence. The exception to the rule you say? There is only one. Unless you work in the Easton Hockey stick Museum and you’re referring to my gold 2001 Easton Synergy Hockey stick you should never ever use the “S” word in a sentence.
Just a fancy term for people who don’t know how to make friends. Pro tip, stop networking and start doing things that matter. Volunteer, run for a board, help a non-profit, coach, be a big brother, do something that isn’t easy. Just showing up to an event and putting on a name tag isn’t hard. Volunteering countless hours for a great cause is a brilliant way to make new friends.
Do ANYTHING other then go to specific events just to “meet” people for the sake of a business relationship. Yuck. Read more
If you were Seth Godin you would say it needs to be remarkable! You know, your “Purple Cow” idea that will spread like wildfire.
If you were Jim Collins’ you’d start with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). Cities like Las Vegas, Austin, Amsterdam, Paris, even Victoria, all have a created visionary cities by doing something big, hairy and audacious. (they’re all REALLY good at something, or have something they are known for).
If you were Hugh MacLeod you would come up with a social object. Something people would have to talk about, have to share with their friends, it’d probably be really cool. Read more
If you don’t think so you’ve already given up. Read more
From Richard Branson’s The Virgin Way he talks about the 7 most important words for leaders to use. “I’m not sure, what do you think?” puts your staff at ease, makes everyone around you feel like you aren’t a know-it-all and willing to implement other people’s ideas.
When you ask others for their ideas you get more options to choose from. You incentivize people coming to you with innovative solutions to organizational problems. Today’s best businesses empower their people to share ideas up the chain of command. As a leader, the less ideas you come up with to implement, the more champions you’re building up around you. Also, when you adopt your staffs’ ideas, you’re creating a very important incentive for your people to want to offer their ideas (very few organizations actually care about what their frontline employees think, let alone ideas they have).
When you ask others what they think, what you’re really saying is “I actually care about you and what you think of this organization”. As funny as that sounds, unfortunately most organization leaders don’t think their people are that smart, they’ve built up a facade that business is run by executives and the people who where suits to work everyday. When it really comes down to it, the best organizations have the best people on the front lines, and no, for the most part they don’t where suits.
I think we all can learn a lot from what Mr. Branson has taught us about business. Below are a few of my favourite quotes. Read more
1. The world is changing faster than you can imagine.
“Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”
On a single day on the Internet there are:
Over 2 million Google search queries
48 hours of new YouTube videos
684,000 bits of content shared on Facebook
More than 100,000 tweets
$272,000 spent on e-commerce
If you disappeared tomorrow, who would miss you? What distinct advantage does your organization create? Why is your mission a noble cause? Ask these questions early and often or else you may find your organization obsolete. To the Not-for-profits that take advantage of the changing online landscape and embrace technology your audience will adore you and you will attract a new smarter customer who (if you do your job right) becomes a loyal evangelist.
2. Every year, every month, every day, people have less attention than they did last year, last month, and yesterday. How are you getting peoples’ attention?
There’s a new not-for-profit starting up tomorrow who’s mission is better than yours, who help more people than you and who can do what you do for cheaper. What are you going to do about it? How will you stand out? How will you be remembered? How do you get to the point where people seek YOU out? If you don’t standout you definitely aren’t going to be remembered. You need to create a “Social Object” that people can associate with your cause.
3. You’re only as smart as the feedback you’re getting.
Not-for-profits are really bad at this. Trying to get feedback as an organization is a very forward thinking endeavour. Not-for-profits are not very forward thinking entities(rash generalization but true). Every year they talk about what they did last year and how well it went. No critical breakdown of what happened, no holding people accountable to goals set last year, and no wants to change in the future to get better. It’s that last part that bothers me the most. Because these aren’t profit generating entities it doesn’t make sense to adapt and innovate and strive to lead a market.
The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.
Everything about business is changing at an alarming rate right now, your only hope in survival is ensuring you’re getting feedback from your customers and employees.
Since we were children, feedback has been the only way we learn. Why is that any different for not-for-profits? You need a feedback strategy, and an honest one. If you have a 56 Question Questionnaire providing your feedback for you, just know you’re basing your information on the sick twisted person that would fill out a 56 question Questionnaire.
4. You can’t change what people say about you, but you can influence it.
“Branding” in 2014 is what people say about you behind your back. As a Not-for-profit if your members smile to your face but bad mouth you behind your back that’s a terrible brand. If you have complete board turnover every year that’s bad. IF you have past board members that refuse to be contacted, that’s bad!
Your reputation precedes you. Google your name, what comes up? You have a personal brand whether you like it or not, most people don’t understand they can influence it if they want to. Not-for-profits usually have an advantage here, your reputation is what you’ve done, the people you’ve helped and the impact you’ve created. The RedCross is one of the most recognized “brands” in the world and I would argue it has nothing to do with their messaging (though the logo is pretty ubiquitous), it has everything to do with their impact. Otherwise when you see the infamous Red “+” sign you wouldn’t immediately attribute positive characteristics.
5. Face the brutal facts.
Yes this is stolen from Jim Collin’s book Good To Great. You must face the brutal facts about your organization and marketplace. People don’t have time to care about your organization, no one does. You have to pitch why your not-for-profit matters. I’ve been on a board where we only talked about the good things we did, how great every event was, and never brought up any criticism or created an urgency to get better.
Confront the hard facts, the longer you put off the truth the worse it gets when it finally becomes a reality. Business changes, Not-for-profits change. The only ignorant thing to do is assume we know what we’re doing and not seek out feedback.
6. You can tell people’s priorities by the way they allocate their resources (time, money).
I’ve met people who give their time selflessly year in and year out. I look up to these people, they truly understand priorities in life. They put relationships before money. People before work and organizations over themselves. These people are the builders of our communities. You have no idea how much these selfless people have given in time to ensure that people they don’t even know get to enjoy (insert community event, sports team, or club here). From Brownies and Scouts to Hockey and Basketball organizations, boys and girls clubs and sports clubs. The one thing they have in common is people like you and me built them.
The unsung heros are the people who tirelessly volunteer their time to work, coach, organize, plan and do all the things that it takes to make Not-for-profits tick. If you meet someone who’s been a part of a Not-for-profit for a while just assume they’re amazing, you have no idea how much they’ve given.
If you want to find out about someone’s work ethic ask somebody they volunteered with on a board or an organization. Reputations go a long way. I find myself recommending people I’ve volunteered with and coached with a lot. You trust someone on another level when you know they believe in giving their time back to help others.
7. At any given moment, one or a few people can ruin it for everyone, you must ignore past these people.
People love to complain. You have to constantly remind yourself that it’s easy to be a critic and it’s hard to take negative feedback and actually act upon it. On volunteer boards I find this to happen a lot. People LOVE to complain without offering any other solutions. People love to tell you you’re wrong. People love to say “it won’t work”. You have to ignore these people.
Create a culture of proactive feedback, never are you allowed to say “I don’t like it this way!” without providing another plausible way.
8. There’s nothing more important than having a clear vision that everyone understands.
Those who built the visionary companies wisely understood that it is better to understand who you are than where you are going – for where you are going will almost certainly change.
-Built to Last by Jim Collins & Jerry I. Porras
Many business folks I’ve met underestimate the power of a vision. But most companies try to explain “everything we’re good at” without “pissing some department” in their mission statement. Effectively making it useless. Einstein said you only truly know a subject when you can explain it to a six year old. that’s my philosophy when it comes to your organizations vision, simply down to a few words that you could explain to a six year old.
Regina Volleyball Club: Lets grow Volleyball
University of Regina Alumni Association: Build Pride
Regina Police Service: Public Servie First
Creative Options Regina: Gentle teaching
9. Fun can be a competitive advantage.
In the future the best organizations will have done the most important thing, attracted the best people. To attract the best people you have to have an amazing cause, but not just that, you have to create a work environment that people would seek out. A workplace to love. People will take a pay cut and make other sacrifices just so that they can work with people they like, and people we like are the people we have the most fun with.
Fun can be a competitive advantage.
Think about it, at a board meeting have you ever asked: “how could we make our meetings more fun?”. Most don’t bring that up because they still think doing what they’ve always done is enough to attract younger, smarter, better talent. If your meetings are fun it’s going to be easier to attract better people in the future.
If you encourage your employees to have fun more often they will respect the workplace more, tell people about how great it is to work there, and when shit really does hit the fan, employees you’ve encouraged to have fun will be there for the organization. It’s when we’re at our worst our allies matter the most. Make strong supporters out of your members, encourage them to be themselves and have fun.
Why is it so rare that employees look up to their boss? Why is it that most senior leadership are referred as more of the senior part and not so much the latter? How come more people don’t look up to the leader of the organization? Why is it so rare to find a visionary, humble, head of an organization?
In the future we’ll look up to leaders who understand and act upon these 3 must do’s.
1. You must have a clear vision.
If your staff don’t know where you’re going it’s going to be very difficult to follow you. If your vision isn’t simple most people won’t get it. If your purpose can’t be summed up in a short phrase, you probably haven’t drilled deep enough. If everyone on the board is comfortable with the simple vision, it’s not provocative enough. If you let a committee come up your purpose it isn’t going to get far. If you think the executive suite are the only ones who can come up with your purpose, you’re wrong. Purpose should be shared just as much with the top row and the front line employees. More often than not front line employees have a better grasp on what the company “actually” does than the executive row.
Business strategy that’s written by mbas is business strategy for mbas. Real people want simplicity, they want to know you care and they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
2. Actually care about people.
Don’t just say you care about people, that’s cliche and every company says they care about their people, very few actually show it.
You can tell what people and organizations care about by how they allocate their resources.
You show people you care with your actions and how you spend your time and your money. Every company says they care about their people but how many create a bottom up feedback system? How many leaders actually have an open door policy? How many leaders would actually encourage employees to speak up when they disagree with a decision?
You show employees or members that you care when you listen to them, when you actively seek their feedback, when you truly want them to be a part of the decision making. If you truly do care about the people you work with, you’ll try to help them. When employees feel their voice will be heard and that they can make a difference, it’s like they’re working with a super power.
Anything becomes possible when the people we look up to empower us to achieve more than we are capable of.
3. Be the hardest working person in the organization.
Leadership is service. Leaders work harder than everyone else, they rarely take credit and they put more fires out than anyone else. Leadership isn’t glamorous, it’s hard work.
Having people look up to you, rely on you, being a part of your team, is a small reward. The larger reward in this situation is watching the people under grow into a better leader, manager, and team player than you ever could be. Leadership is the humble act of always putting others first. When you find you’ve groomed a candidate that people look up to, are inspired by and that works harder than you do, you know you’ve done your job.
The goal of leadership is not to be indispensable, it’s quite the opposite. The goal of leadership is the day you don’t show up, everyone knows exactly what to do and the sustaining work to keep the organization is done.
Leadership is the highest form of service. Never forget that.
Mark Miller is the author of some amazing books on leadership and all the proceeds of those books go to charity. That’s awesome.
Mitch Joel talked to him on the Six Pixels of Separation Podcast, check it out by clicking On Great Leadership with Mark Miller. The quotes below are Mark Millers, he has a way of summing things up that is simply brilliant.
I believe great leadership is “the willingness to be wrong and the courage to admit it.” I think Seth Godin said that. Genius. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Leadership. It can get hard sometimes, every leader had their setbacks, every visionary makes mistakes on the way. But the greatest leaders have been through more, every setback making them smarter and closer to their end goal.
Every setback, every struggle, everything put in your way is there for a reason, to make you stronger. Read more
I recently finished an amazing read by Tom Asacker, The Business of Belief: How the World’s Best Marketers, Designers, Salespeople, Coaches, Fundraisers, Educators, Entrepreneurs and Other Leaders Get Us to Believe.
It’s an easy read, not very long, and filled with wonderful little stories that teach memorable lessons in a simple manner. I loved the book and have since bought it for people. I really think you should pick up a copy, after all, don’t you want something to believe in?
I’ve heard this stat before but really puts into perspective the ‘maker’ culture we’re living in.
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