Category Archives: Leadership

7 Inspiring Traits of Compassionate Leadership

The driving forces of exceptional leadership are desire, self-awareness and, most important, compassion. Effective leadership cannot prevail under negative circumstances such as putdowns, dishonesty, demands, frustration, denigration, manipulation, fear or micromanagement. These negative forces create high turnover, a lack of productivity, a lack of motivation and a negative attitude in those required to produce.

To be great, leaders must have the necessary empathy to inspire understanding and knowledge in team members. Empathy is key. Empathy begins with taking an understanding of life from the experience and perception of another. When empathy is present, defensiveness decreases and something positive replaces it. Empathy opens doors and removes confusion. It softens the minds and hearts of others. When people are open, this is exactly when the compassionate leader can be more creative in solving problems in ways that drive productivity and long-term success. To follow are seven traits of compassionate leadership.

1. Learning

Compassionate leaders understand that no matter how great they think they are, they are still surrounded by other intelligent people who are full of ideas that can enhance their skills and knowledge to lead even more effectively. When leaders operate as if they know everything, they harden themselves to new ideas by stubbornly assuming they have nothing more to learn to be effective in their role. There is no compassion in that mindset. Leadership requires learning. Leadership is the sum total of mistakes made, and the learning and growing it takes to remain patient, yet persistent, in their objectives. Compassionate leaders possess the modesty to continually seek feedback under the belief system they can only grow their team to the extend they grow themselves.

2. Removing barriers.

Compassionate leaders immerse themselves in the daily grind with their team, helping them face and solve problems harming productivity or hindering reciprocal communication when closing deals. Removing barriers is twofold. Leaders have to understand the internal emotional patterns of each team member, which patterns hold them back and which promote them into success. Leaders need to help team members work through their defeatist thoughts and encourage new patterns of thinking to help them be more successful going forward. Once team members start thinking in terms of success rather than failure, leaders have the role of helping team members talk through ways to remove any external barriers with others they may face when closing deals.

When team members stop bringing leaders obstacles to overcome, their days as a leader will soon end.

3. Impact

Compassionate leaders live to help others and make no room for selfishness on the teams they lead. Greed has no place to prosper when selfishness is not part of the program. These leaders live with an attitude of abundance and prefer to look at what team members need rather than at what team members aren’t doing. Compassionate leaders make no room for pessimism. They view challenges with interest rather than dread. This attitude sets the tone for team members and keeps morale high.

For these leaders, success is less about riches or fame and more about having a deep and lasting positive impact on all who are served. The compassionate leader seeks to understand people, knowing that understanding is the doorway into having the greatest impact on guiding others.

4. Standards

Compassionate leaders hold themselves and their ethics to high standards. These leaders are ethical and expect every one of their team members to be the same. Ethics are the building blocks upon which success of any kind is based. These types of leaders strive for nothing less than excellence. Some team members may not be used to an environment where excellence is expected of them. To inspire them, compassionate leaders show high levels of integrity in their daily actions. This helps to gain the trust and confidence of team members who are new or unsure.

These types of leaders trust team members will live up or down to their expectations; therefore, they set the bar high on quality but keep it within reach. When quality is expected, team efforts naturally increase.

5. Influence

Compassionate leaders seek influence, not authority. They don’t demand, they encourage. They lead with hope. They guide, acknowledge and support team members to combine their efforts, skills, talents, insights, passion, enthusiasm and commitment to work together for the greater good.

These types of leaders find their purpose in bettering the lives of others. Compassionate leaders use the power of their role to lead others into the discovery of their own unique power. They view the growth and development of the people they lead and the communities they serve as the great makers of their success.

6. Passion

Compassionate leaders understand that people who are driven want to be part of something meaningful and influential. These leaders hold a deep concern for how their team members feel and what they’re getting out of their work experience. They do all they can to inspire team members to give nothing less than their best.

Leading requires the skill to inspire passion in others who may not know how to get in touch with it on their own. These leaders encourage team members to approach every task they do, down to the smallest details, with determination. These types of leaders are powerful because they understand that success comes to those who fully dedicate themselves to a cause. Compassionate leaders know there is nothing more powerful than a person who is driven from their heart.

7. Team

Compassionate leaders hold the wisdom that great things in life or business are never accomplished by one person. Excellence is a group effort, whether that be a team, a company, a society or an entire civilization. For teams to succeed, they need leaders who support and guide them to stay focused, especially when the stakes are high.

Compassionate leaders bring their team members together to work as a functional unit. They lay the groundwork for their team to have the best chance of success, and then take great joy in sitting back and watching team members shine individually and collectively. These leaders have no problem taking the lead when the team is in danger and no problem stepping to the side to allow their team to experience the successes they have accomplished on their own.


6 Qualities of Greatness

We all have the potential for greatness. To develop and express our greatness, we must possess the passion and drive to live our lives with calculated risks and an attitude of faith. When we strive for greatness, when we strive to give all we’ve got to achieving our dreams, “success” is the secondary benefit.

Greatness lies in the journey, not the result. If success is our only drive, we may achieve financial wealth, but we may not achieve greatness. Greatness is much deeper than money. Greatness is an expression of our character.

1. Leadership

Greatness in leaders is expressed though a positive attitude. For this reason, we must add a positive attitude to everything we do. When we do this, it causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes to come our way. Our positive attitude must be powerful enough to infect every one of our team members. It is our attitude that motivates our team members to achieve the goals that have been placed in front of them.

How we respond to our team members when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter is what helps them to be fearless. As leaders, we must lay the groundwork for our team members to succeed, and then we must possess the humility and self-confidence to sit back and watch them shine. A leader who possesses greatness will take more than his or her fair share of the blame when things go wrong and be satisfied to take less than a fair share of the acknowledgment when success occurs.

2. Service

To be of real service in this world, we must add something to other people’s lives that cannot be bought. To be great, we must always give everything, and everyone we care about, our energy, drawing on the highest levels of sincerity, honesty and integrity.

We must be willing to invest our time and our hearts into whatever it is we represent. When we make good on what we do and see ourselves making a significant difference in the lives of others, we can be sure we’re investing our efforts in all the right ways and all the right things. We each have greatness in us and the potential to give something unique and special to to this world. When we blend our individual talents with the desire to serve others, we experience a beauty in life that exalts our spirit.

3. Results

Getting the results we desire comes from how hard we work and how optimistic our outlook is. Greatness is developed out of the understanding that our time in this world is limited, so we must be mindful not to waste any of our time trying to live someone else’s life.

We have to combine our passion and persistence to follow our own dreams. We must strongly resist being trapped by limiting beliefs that come from the naysayers in our lives. We have to have the courage to follow our gut instinct, to put all of who we are into what we want to achieve and consistently produce the results we’re looking for. Big results require big desires. To be great, we must allow the desire for the results we seek to spark what is extraordinary from within us.

4. Efficiency

Greatness is never a one-person job. Greatness is the ability we each have to drive effective, consistent and empathic communication. The meetings we hold must be deliberate and intentional. They should be organized, have rhythm and be clear about the purpose at hand so that all of our team members feel included and engaged throughout the process.

There is no path to profitability without effective and efficient communication. Profitability comes from productivity, efficiency, management, strictness and the way we manage our time and business. If we choose to make a meaningful contribution in this world, we must value our time, the time of others and the energy it takes to get to where we want to go. We cannot afford to allow poor communication and resentments to get in the way of our being efficient and profitable.

5. Quality

To possess greatness, we must care deeply about the quality of service we offer. Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of conscious effort. By putting out quality services and products, we increase our quality of life, our capacity to believe in ourselves and our levels of happiness.

The quality work we produce allows us to feel proud of who we are, what we do and how we impact the lives of other people. When we produce high-quality services or products, we live with the gift of having peace of mind. Quality decreases stress. For this reason, we must choose high-quality thoughts, emotions and actions to ensure that our greatness is expressed, recognized and appreciated.

6. Reliability

Greatness is reflected in the reliability of who we are as people and the services and products we offer. We must have some level of predictability in our character and in what it is that we sell or produce. If we can predict things, we have the ability to intervene when necessary to make sure that what we produce is exactly what we promised.

To be great, we must value the self-discipline and systems that make it impossible for things to go wrong. The more reliable we are, the more others will be willing to trust and depend on us to provide the quality service they are anticipating. We must be intentional about being on time, as well as confident, intelligent and calm. When we possess these qualities, we possess greatness.



3 Ways to Spread an ‘Intrapreneurial’ Spirit Throughout Your Company

It’s no bombshell revelation that employees love autonomy. After all, we live in an age of entrepreneurship, and it’s highly likely in such an environment that many of your team members are working on their own ideas. They see themselves as makers and leaders in their own right, not just cogs in a machine.

That’s a good instinct: Proof? A 2017 study by the University of Birmingham reported the value in autonomy: Researchers there found that those employees in the survey who were more trusted and empowered at work reported higher levels of job satisfaction .

This trust-satisfaction link is a phenomenon I’ve seen in my own company: When people have good ideas, we like to give them opportunities to carry out those ideas; and some team members have actually gone on to craft entire roles for themselves. In doing so, they’ve made drastic improvements to the company.

The reverse is also true, however, when employees feel too restricted: Keep team members on a short leash, and you could be stifling creativity and lowering employee satisfaction.

Autonomy and entrepreneurial thinking give people a sense of control, accountability and ownership of their work, which can create what we call an “intrapreneur.” This is someone who thinks and acts like a business owner within an organization. Intrapreneurship leads to a sense of achievement when things go well, a drive to fix things when they go wrong and a company that is unstoppable.

Eliminating fear and allowing ideas to flourish

Admitting autonomy and encouraging intrapreneurial ventures can be a scary prospect. There’s an inevitable ego factor that many business leaders must first overcome.

I remember hiring my first couple of salespeople, and how they turned out to be better at sales than me. It was a tough pill to swallow. But, as soon as I shelved my ego and embraced a sense of humility, I was able to empower these salespeople to take the lead.

Then, once I let them run and be great at their jobs, they became some of our biggest advocates, and we started driving the company forward, in tandem.

Giving autonomy generously rather than begrudgingly handing it over can be a tough learning curve for employers. But, by exploring your employees’ ideas and acknowledging their inner intrapreneur, you can catalyze new ideas for your company while making your team happier overall.

How to foster intrapreneurial thinking in your company

Here are three ways you can promote autonomy and intrapreneurial thinking in your own team while still keeping a grip on the wheel:

1. Listen and ask questions. You don’t have to hand over creative freedom all at once. Team members will adapt better to their new autonomous roles if they’ve had a chance to prepare and test the waters.

During a brainstorming session, take the time to really listen to people’s ideas. When someone speaks up, respond by asking how he or she would make this idea a reality. This is your hypothesis stage — it costs nothing, risks little and allows your team members to feel comfortable taking control.

Sometimes, you’ll hear an idea and want to throw that employee out of the meeting for wasting everybody’s time. But stick with it — ask questions that help the employee get better at generating ideas.

After all, the idea may not be viable, but your response is vital. Did you respond positively? Can you expand on the idea? Did you make the person feel special for sharing, or cut him or her down? Autonomy doesn’t mean you can’t help one another out. In fact, a study by university researchers found that employees came up with 37 percent more ideas  when they started off brainstorming as a group.

Good things come from empowered employees, so don’t shut them down. Instead, give them the floor, and help them turn their ideas into successful initiatives.

2. Embrace the “expandable pie.” Business leaders love their pie, but they can get a little too attached to all of the slices it contains. Sometimes, they can focus too much on predefined departments and roles.

The “expandable-pie” concept is a good way of opening up those constraints. Say that there are seven slices for seven people in your company but then an eighth person comes along with a great idea. That doesn’t mean you have to fire someone else to maintain the pie. The pie can grow, along with the creativity and ambition of the team.

According to a Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report, 32 percent of American adults surveyed said they had direct relationships with entrepreneurs, indicating that encountering an entrepreneurial spirit is pretty much inevitable, and impossible to ignore. Instead of restricting intrapreneurial thinking, then, take the plunge and encourage it.

But, take caution: Maintaining an unrealistic pie may drive fears about demotions or firings throughout your company. In that case, intrapreneurial thinking will be easily silenced, and all members of the business will suffer.

3. Add in some fun. People will feel more capable of contributing their ideas if they can do so in a fun, lighthearted way. With this in mind, companies are getting creative at showing employees that they care. For example, Gap corporate employees receive free access to local museums , a move that might inspire and incentivize their own creativity at work.

Autonomy and intrapreneurial thinking can be spun with fun, too. My company awarded cash prizes through what we called the “Why?” awards. Team members were encouraged to submit a one-page entry that included a “why” question followed by what they were willing to do to answer it or fix the problem.

Around 200 entries were submitted and got everyone’s brains working creatively while boosting a welcoming, intrapreneurship-driven environment.

Another move: We hand out “Get Out of Jail Free” cards. Each cardholder has free license to bring an idea to the table — no matter how wacky or expensive. Gamifying otherwise dull pitch meetings can help foster team members’ involvement and willingness to pursue entrepreneurial ideasthey’ve been holding onto for a while.

Creativity is the true equity value of corporate America. When you keep employees tied to an hourly wage and tell them to keep doing the same tasks over and over, you rob your company of its competitive advantage.

Instead, consider: You have all these minds in one place, and if you empower intrapreneurial thinking and autonomy, you’ll get so much more than an hourly rate out of people: You’ll get a team whose members who care as much about your company as you do themselves.


Examining the Relevance of Strong Leadership in the Corporate World

A leader is often defined as a person or entity who leads; a guiding or directing head. For example, the head of an army or a political movement, a conductor or director of an orchestra etc. Essentially a leader is a person who can influence or inspire a group of people towards the realization of a goal. So what are the basic characteristics that go into the making of a leader?

One Who is at the Forefront:

One of the Sanskrit words for leader is agraga, which means, someone who goes in the front. That is very much in sync with the general meaning of someone who leads. It’s a simple definition, but it satisfies the necessary, if not sufficient, a prerequisite for a leader. In popular imagery, a leader is always seen as someone who is at the forefront.

In Indian culture, perhaps the most celebrated leader is Krishna, who victoriously led the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra battle in the epic Mahabharata. In this avatar, he is seen as the protector, friend, philosopher and guide of Arjuna. Being at the front of Arjuna’s chariot, Krishna would have taken the first blow, had Arjuna been hit by an arrow.

This, in a nutshell, is pretty much everything that a leader should be. A leader is a protector and saviour; the first one to take the blow if anything goes wrong, the first one to die on the battlefield. So, we can say a good manager, like a true leader, should be like a shield for her team, facing the bullets, never running away from the front, never blaming anyone for any failure, but willing to take the onus upon herself.

One Who has Followers, not Listeners:

This very definition of a leader as one who leads from the front points to a few identifying features of a leader. The first and the foremost is that a leader should have followers, not listeners. When Krishna is leading Arjuna, as his charioteer, Arjuna is following Krishna, not merely listening to him. Krishna has evoked a sense of security and trust in the mind of Arjuna, and hence the latter has become a follower. Krishna’s words are not just mere instructions or commands of a boss to Arjuna. Krishna’s words have become Arjuna’s inspiration.

Millions of people followed Mahatma Gandhi, not because Gandhi had ordered or instructed them to do so, but because of their love towards him.

A true leader is she, who is followed, not merely obeyed or listened to.

Most managers or bosses we see in office are obeyed, not followed. That’s where they all fail to become leaders. They remain managers. They remain as mere instructors, givers of orders. People listen to them out of fear and obligation.

One Who “does” Rather than Merely Preaching

This leads to the next question: when would be someone followed and not merely listened to?

G B Shaw gave the answer to this question, though in a different context altogether. He had said, “One who can, does; he who cannot, teaches.”

People generally follow a Doer. A leader never says, “You do”. A leader always does. People follow. A manager who has evolved into a leader never says, “Do this.” He always does. His employees follow.

One Who Inspires

This raises a pertinent question: if the leader does everything, then how would she make the teamwork? That brings us to perhaps the most important aspect about leadership: Inspiration.

We’re used to hearing that the team should be motivated, that the job of a manager is to motivate her team.

Did Gandhi motivate the entire nation to endure the penance of nonviolence? No, he inspired his people.

A closer look at the words “motivation” and “inspiration” will tell the difference between the two. Motivation is just a cause or reason to act; and inspiration, like respiration, is related to the Latin word spirare, meaning “to breathe”. When done in the right way, inspiration can do wonders.

A leader is one who inspires, not motivates. If a manager can’t inspire her people, she’s no manager. And that’s the case with most of the managers in the corporate world. Uninspiring managers can be disastrous in organizations. Having failed to inspire their teams into delivering, they would resort to all sorts of ways to push them hard.

In conclusion, if the corporate world has more number of managers who possess the features of our traditional leaders, they will be no less celebrated than them and would also make working efficient and easier for the team and the organization. A person can be viewed as a good leader only when she yields the best result for the organization by managing her team well.


These Experts Warn You about Leadership Mistakes Made By First-Time Entrepreneurs

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” Thus speaketh Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the famous French writer particularly known for his remarkable work, The Little Prince.

Being an entrepreneur is more about sharing your vision and your passion than organising schedules and manpower, in short, to portray yourself as a true leader. However, in many cases, the new business owners need to take the position of the head of the company without having any prior experience of working as CEOs. This creates a disconnect between best practices and behaviours.

As fresh patterns emerge with those new to being their own boss, experts feel that there are errors in it. Here are some of the oft-made mistakes that industry leaders ascribe to first-time entrepreneurs.

Buying for Best Talents Instead of Nurturing Them

Every business owner dreams of engaging the best minds in the industry in their organisation. However, the problem lies in the fact that best resources also enjoy the best pay-packages, which new businesses are unable to offer.

Lacking in the leadership experience which teaches one to manage human resource with strong core skills, the new CEOs fail to appreciate and support the requirements of the best minds. With their hefty pay cheques, these employees turn out to be expensive, creating a situation of loss rather than growth or expansion.

The better way is to gain the knowledge of how to foster such potential skilled resources rather than buy them.

“Once I was looking for professional photographers for a very significant event held by my company. We soon found that the high profile shutterbugs demanded loads of money. To save the huge expenditure I searched for the amateurs with an eye for design but without much business experience. Even though they had not commercialised their skills, they were brilliant at their job. This allowed me to get unbelievable work at a much less expense,” recounted Lab Gupta, Founder Fun Toys and Fun Clean.

Falling Victim to Trends

Blindly following competitors is a mistake most of the new businesses make across industries. The belief is ‘when it has worked for them it will work for me too’. What they fail to see is following the competitors makes the clients brand them as copycats rather than someone with an exclusive identity and purpose.

“Avoid falling victim to trends. Stay true to your message, mission and create techniques to draw the attention of others towards it. Businesses need time and patience to create their appeal amongst the customers. Many big businesses first started as a niche product or service which gradually advanced to a simpler and widely accepted unit,” notified Dr. Bala V Balachandran, Founder, Dean and Chairman, Great Lakes Institute of Management.

Failing to Develop a Comprehensive Revenue Model

Everyone who is in business wants to make a profit. Most also know about the product or service which they are selling and it’s making cost. What often, gets ignored is creating a revenue model which is much more important than learning to do a transaction. The lifetime worth of a client has to be made clear in the mind, so does a sketch on capturing that worth over time.

“It is a very common misconception that an entrepreneur needs to find new customers once a buyer buys their products. In its place, one should deeply work on the ways to optimize and extend the relationship with the existing clientele. This helps in faster growth,” suggested Biswanath Bhattacharya President Federation of Small and Medium Industries (FOSMI).

The secret of writing a fine revenue model is similar to that of drafting a business plan. All one needs is to foretell all the products in the next decade and make the patron’s journey easy in dealing with your company. The model can alter with time, but the map and direction remain same.

Getting Egoistic

Ego and arrogance of the top management of a company have brought the doom of more businesses than any other factor. When many big corporates have collapsed because of these two vices, it is very important for the leaders of fledgling ones to try hard and avoid indulging in them.

“One of the best qualities of good leaders and managers is to admit their faults and flaws and try to make up for the damage done. Killing the ego is the first step in doing so,” prescribed Kuldip Maity, Founder, Village Finance.

Let these four warnings keep you from making the same mistakes most first-time entrepreneurs make. Invest the time to grow your business and plan for the future the right way.


Research Shows That Your First-Time Managers Aren’t Ready to Lead. Now, What?

Here’s a staggering fact: A 2016 survey of 500 managers from micro-learning platform Grovo found that 44 percent felt unprepared for their role. Additionally, 87 percent wished they’d had more training before becoming a manager.

Numbers like these suggest that organizations aren’t providing first-time managers with enough, or maybe any training, that they’re just getting a new title, a raise, a fhandshake and a friendly “good luck.” But that isn’t the truth. In fact, 99 percent of companies in the Grovo survey said they offer management training.

So, what’s the disconnect? What seems to be happening is that managers are just receiving the wrong type of preparation. To improve training for first-time managers, here’s what you can do to help new leaders overcome the typical challenges:

Do encourage collaboration.

One of the hardest transitions new managers have is learning how to foster collaboration. They need to transition from knowing how to work in a group to how to create the right work environment.

“[Great leaders] prioritize two-way communication and trust within their teams,” Summer Salomonsen, chief learning officer of San Francisco-based Grovo, said in an email.

Regularly giving and soliciting feedback is the foundation for collaboration. It shows team members that they are in a safe space, where their unique contributions are appreciated. So, model this behavior with all employees — especially those being considered for management positions.

Another modeling behavior to display if you’re a senior leader is to sit in on brainstorming sessions. Ask questions and give praise. Then sit down with potential managers. Find out what they observed and how they felt.

Having them talk through what they experienced from a collaborative management session will show them how important it is for them to lead the same way.

Don’t let new leaders lose sight of their employees.

After a promotion, many new managers feel more loyal to their company. While this is natural, it shouldn’t mean that a new leader is less loyal to the people the or she manages. Instead, the new leader needs to recognize team members’ needs and advocate for their well-being and development.

Rich Arundel, co-founder and general manager of North America operations for the New York-based online payment platform Currencycloud, suggests teaching “mirror” management. This occurs when new managers follow cues from their employees and adapt their behavior accordingly.

For example, if an employee is the quiet type, he or she will likely respond better to a manager who uses a softer tone.

“As a manager, you have as much obligation to your employees as you do to your company,” Arundel said by email. “Employees will respect you and work harder for you if they genuinely believe you have their best interests at heart and care about their career.”

To get new managers to understand this “mirror” technique, have them write down their own natural characteristics. How do they speak, observe and think? Then have them write down leadership behaviors they think will help them make the most of their own traits.

Do address the awkwardness.

Often, new managers become the bosses of their former peers. And this can lead to awkward situations. An employee’s joke might cross a line, for instance. The new manager might feel uncomfortable giving an order.

“Additionally, others on the team may have applied for the same role,” Matt Becker, coaching and mentoring manager at the managed healthcare company CareSource, in Dayton, Ohio, said via email. “[Others] may resent that they didn’t receive the promotion.”

With all that potential for tension, address the elephant in the room.

First, before any promotional decision, be clear about how the choice will be made. Explain to each candidate what’s being considered. Then, when the choice is made, publicly announce how the candidate selected met all the criteria.

Provide conflict-resolution training for the first-time manager. Give him or her the chance to practice giving orders to friends. If need be, bring in team members to role-play and express their feelings about having a friend who’s now their superior.

Don’t encourage your new manager’s “DIY” mentality.

New managers want to prove they deserve the role. Since they’re new at leading, they’re unsure how to do this. They focus on trying to do as much as possible by themselves — the same as they did when they were individual contributors. But this do-it-yourself attitude can lead to poor leadership and burnout.

Karl Alomar is the COO of the New York City-based cloud-computing platform DigitalOcean. To become a successful manager, he told me, a first-timer needs to let go of his or her old notions of success. “The best managers empower their teams and in turn create more velocity by expanding on the work just one person could do,” he said.

So, encourage that team empowerment. Stress the importance of delegation in manager training. Provide practice scenarios in which new leaders have a project description and a list of employees. See how they would divide up the tasks. Then provide feedback so these new leaders can learn how to use the strengths of others instead of their own time and energy.


3 Leadership Strategies That Will Help Your Business Grow

All my life, I’ve loved fixing and improving things, whether I’m tinkering in the garage or revamping a company’s strategy. That love is what brought me to NCR in 2005, where I was tasked as CEO with fixing an unsustainable business model.

NCR was losing its market share and hemorrhaging revenue. The company’s most valuable asset was Teradata, a data warehousing software that had little to do with NCR’s business. And the company lacked the strategy or infrastructure to adapt to the technological changes sweeping the world. There was a lot to do.

Now, over a decade later, NCR has transformed itself into an industry leader with an eye to the future. To get there, we had to make several adjustments to the way things had been done for decades. It wasn’t easy, but we made the changes necessary to thrive. Here are three things I did that can help you fix your company.

Shift the culture.

When I started at NCR, the company culture was strong, but rigid. The team didn’t believe in NCR’s ability to change. If we were going to transform the company, I knew that I would have to make the case to our employees personally — not with an email or a phone call, but by looking them in the eye and telling them. That’s why I spent my first few years as CEO communicating a vision for where NCR was going.

For more than a decade, I’ve backed up that message with action. Today, as part of NCR’s reinvention, we are focused on generating a majority of our revenue from software. Today our purpose is to power iNCRedible experiences that make life easier. We are building a team of iNCRedibles who live to move commerce forward through innovation.

That calls for hiring people with specialized knowledge and skills, and we knew that one surefire way to attract those people would be to go to where they’re located. So we decided to develop a state-of-the-art world headquarters that’s adjacent to the campus of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Georgia Tech, as it’s better known, is one of the top universities in the country when it comes to preparing its students for a wide range of jobs in the tech sector. Our proximity to the school, and our partnership with it, sends a powerful message about our commitment to becoming a dynamic, software-driven technology company.

Shake up your line-up.

To reinvent an enterprise, you need the right team. When I arrived at NCR in 2005, I knew that if I wanted to prepare the company for the 21st century, I would need fellow fixers behind me. I turned to a number of the people who had helped me at Cisco and Symbol in the past, and together we built a new NCR lineup that was agile and forward-thinking.

We were focused on empowering ordinary people to do extraordinary things and achieve extraordinary results. NCR’s progress since 2005, and our ability to create lasting and productive change, has been made possible by having the right talent in place.

Commit to seeing change through.

Strong leadership nearly always requires difficult decisions. I knew I’d have to make some to grow NCR. One of these decisions came early in my tenure.

In 2005, Teradata had dramatically higher revenues than NCR, but the businesses had little in common. There was little overlap in their end-markets, and there was always competition for internal resources between the two. This wasn’t a sustainable model, and so we made a bold choice: We sold Teradata.

The real lesson here, however, isn’t just about making difficult decisions — it’s about seeing them through to the end. I’m a fix-it guy, and I knew I belonged at NCR to reach where we are today. And I’m going to continue working with my colleagues to ensure that NCR is one of the world’s most innovative technology companies.


How to Be a Big Fish in an Even Bigger Pond

As the calendar pages have turned to a new year, many people are setting resolutions to work harder and smarter, to get ahead of the pack. This time last year, 30 percent of employees set resolutions to get a raise or promotion in the coming year, a worthwhile pursuit. However, this may seem daunting, especially in larger companies were you can sometimes feel like a cog in a machine.

The good news for you is that you have a lot of control over how people view you, your work, and your leadership potential. There may be more competition in a larger organization, but there are also many more opportunities for growth. Here are some tips to distinguish yourself as a leader this year — and beyond.

Promote yourself, not your self-interests.

Half the battle of differentiating yourself from your colleagues lies in the nuances of communicating your achievements without bragging. Show that you’re ambitious: be hungry for work, curious and eager to learn, and invested in your team’s success. Ambition is very different from self-interest. And people can tell the difference between the two. When someone is trying to lead to promote their own self-interest, it’s detectable.

To be a true leader, it’s crucial that your decision-making and your actions serve to promote the good of the whole: think colleagues, customers and partners, and the overall company mission. In other words, over-promoting a personal attainment instead of looking out for the good of the whole is not positive brand building. In short, be a team player.

Understand and build your leadership skills.

Before you can establish yourself as a leader, you need to prove that you can manage people and tasks. Understanding your leadership style and how that translates to your day-to-day performance is key. Understanding the unique value you bring to a team and a company is even more important.

Once you understand how you work best, consistency in your behavior is critical, as is constant communication. Both create trust with colleagues and the individuals you manage. Consistent behavior and effective communication instill confidence with teams and senior management.

Companies place a lot of value on employee trust and dependability. That’s why it’s important to establish the qualities of follow-up and follow-through during professional development. Further, to build your true leadership capabilities, showcase your management skills: Share team wins and goals met, and communicate regularly with your colleagues. Become an advocate, mentor and partner to those around you.

Take advantage of available resources.

A significant benefit to working at a larger company is the amount of resources, programs and people available to support your professional development. Larger companies tend to have the financial wherewithal to invest more in people’s career growth. Enterprises often have formalized training programs or professional development programs available. Whether it’s an online training or an in-person workshop, take advantage of these opportunities. Not only are you showing an investment in your personal growth, your engagement and personal commitment to development sets the right example for those around you.

One-on-one mentorship also provides an opportunity to learn and develop new skills. A mentor can provide you with actionable advice on the internal nuances you should be aware of when working to advance your career within the company. They will know the key people you should associate and collaborate with, the skills that are highly valued by the company for people in your desired position, and the priorities of the business upon which you should focus your output and contribution. With a bit of “insider” insight, you can prime yourself for new leadership opportunities.

If your current company does not have any training or mentoring opportunities at the moment, another great way to demonstrate your leadership ability is to spearhead a pilot program to create those opportunities.

New Year, new you?

Executives and key decision-makers always identify the high potential leaders among their ranks. If you are committed to meeting and exceeding your goals within the new year, you’ll need to make sure you that you not only stand out from your peers (for all the right reasons), but you demonstrate clear potential for leadership and success. Focus on the right things in terms of your customers, your partners and your colleagues, and align with the company’s top priorities.

As a part of a larger company, you likely had an end-of-the-year performance review. I encourage you to look back at last year’s goals. How did you do? Be honest with yourself and focus on areas of development as well as your strengths. As it relates to the areas of development, create clear, actionable plans that will help you grow your skills. Ultimately, it’s up to you to take control of your own destiny and set a course for an awesome year.


Being a Born Entrepreneur Doesn’t Automatically Mean You’re a Born Leader

More often than not, we tend to think of entrepreneurship and leadership as synonymous qualities.

Entrepreneurs are expected to break new ground, be innovative, start something new. It only stands to reason they would naturally take charge of what they’ve created and lead it.

However, it turns out that the required skills of an effective entrepreneur are almost entirely different from the required skills of an effective leader. As many CEOs of growing companies can tell you, there’s a vast difference between creating a business and growing one.

One of the primary reasons great entrepreneurs including Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Henry Ford were so influential was precisely because they were both master entrepreneurs and leaders.

To successfully grow a business, an entrepreneur must learn how to become an effective leader. Here are the five leadership skills every entrepreneur must master:


Entrepreneurs, and especially solopreneurs, who run growing businesses are eventually shocked to realize it is impossible to do everything by themselves. Most entrepreneurs are uncomfortable with the idea of delegation. They want to do everything themselves because they have a natural sense of ownership over their work. They find it difficult to believe anyone else would do what needs to be done. After all, they were the ones who built the business from scratch all by themselves.

The reality is, though, as a business grows, so does the amount of work that needs to go into running it.

Leaders understand their own time and energy are finite resources. Great leaders understand that, to be most effective in the company, they must play to their strengths and delegate their weaknesses to others who are more qualified.

Steve Jobs famously played a very small part in building the OS and designing the original Apple computers. He knew how to grow a business, so he focused on what he could do and wisely left it to Steve Wozniak and his team to execute his vision.


The perk of being a lone wolf is that you know exactly what needs to be done and the right way to do it. But, that has to change when you find yourself a leader.

We all have horror stories of working for a manager who didn’t communicate instructions effectively, which inevitably leads to confusion and frustration from both parties. As a leader, you’ll need to clearly and succinctly explain everything from your vision to administrative tasks to your employees.

But, communication is not a one-way street. You need to know what to say and how to listen. Effective leaders don’t simply give orders. They accept feedback and criticism, as well.

A constant bridge of communication between a leader and an employee not only reduces inefficiencies but also leads to a healthier and more productive workplace for all.


Entrepreneurs seldom lack in the inspiration department. They were passionate enough to start a business themselves, but not everyone shares their enthusiasm. A key skill of any good leader is to inspire the people around them.

It’s not enough to simply tell people what their job is and expect them to do it. To get the most out of your team, you have to make them believe in your vision and feel like they’re actively making an impact in their role. This is especially important when working in a startup.
The good news is that anyone can become an inspiring leader as long as they create a clear culture around the company’s vision, values, and beliefs.

When Howard Schultz returned to Starbucks as CEO, he quickly realized the majority of his employees were no longer focused on providing customers with a positive experience. This led him to shut down 7,100 stores one day to retrain all baristas on making an espresso. This bold move not only sharpened his employees’ technical skills, but also quickly brought Starbucks’ ultimate vision back into focus.


As an entrepreneur, you should be well aware of just how powerful a mentor can be to personal and professional growth. As a leader, if you want your employees to be as effective as possible, you need to do more than just give them orders.

Along with giving them the resources they need to do their job well, you also need to be able to help them move forward in their own careers.

This can be as simple as offering them training in skills they are interested in, giving them more responsibilities, or spending more one-on-one time with them. Leaders should be able to do more than just lead from the front; they have to be able to provide support from behind as well.
By adopting a coaching mentality, you can be assured of your employees’ loyalty to you and your vision. Plus, helping your employees achieve their full potential means they’re more likely be an asset to you and your business.


It should go without saying that being innovative and adaptive is key for entrepreneurs. But, instead of only using their knack for problem-solving on market opportunities, leaders are also focused on providing solutions for problems within the company.

A large part of running a growing company is learning how to deal with internal problems like employee disputes, disorganization, or a lack of motivation. Employees will always look to the leader to solve these issues.

When no clear-cut solutions are present, leaders need to be able to think outside the box. One surefire way to quickly lose both the respect and trust of your employees is to outsource the solution to someone else or avoid responsibility by blaming others.

Last-minute changes and mishaps happen in any business, so it’s up to the leader to adapt quickly and show everyone else the right way to handle these situations.

If entrepreneurs who have the passion and innovation to start their own businesses can develop these five skills of great leaders, they will be most effective in leadingthose businessess into growth and a bright future.


For Better Teamwork, Let People Choose Whom They Work With

Next time a project requires your colleagues to divide into teams, consider letting them choose for themselves who their collaborators are.

Researchers from Ohio State University, the University of Michigan and the University of South Carolina recently set out to determine what makes people cooperate well — especially because evolution pits beings against each other and human cooperation counters this instinct.

They found that teams thrive when members have the ability to pick and choose who they’re working with. Chances are, they’ll be more effective at working with those who are already established members of their network.

The study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, asked 810 participants to play online games together. Each player began with 1,000 units of money which added up to $1. If one player was willing to give another player 50 units, the recipient would gain 100 while the provider would forfeit only 50.

Some games were made up of random groups of people, while others involved small groups of people who were connected to one another, similar to how humans tend to congregate in real-life scenarios. Within each of these two types of arrangements, the researchers allowed some teams to be static, meaning they couldn’t add or drop people from their teams, and some to be dynamic, allowing such flexibility.

Information about certain players’ reputations for sharing money also factored into some games. However, the researchers found that those with positive reputations were not more coveted teammates. The groups that collaborated best played in teams with those they were connected to and had the ability to swap players on their teams.

“What really seems to matter is the ability to alter the structure of a network,” study lead author David Melamed said in a summary of the findings. “And the pattern of relationships also made a difference. Those in a known cluster with multiple connections collaborated more, which seems intuitive if you think about how we interact in the real world.”

While the study was supported by the U.S. Army to gain insights into what structures could promote competition and thwart enemy forces, Melamed noted that the findings could be applicable in the workplace as well.

It may seem beneficial to introduce colleagues who don’t normally interact to spark interdisciplinary thinking, but the results of this study indicate that giving co-workers who have a rapport with each other the autonomy to form their own teams might yield more results.