Category Archives: Leadership

10 CEOs Share Their Best Tips For Effective Workplace Leadership

According to a survey of 189,000 people conducted by McKinsey, four very specific kinds of behavior account for 89% of leadership effectiveness at the workplace:

  • Acting supportive
  • Effective problem-solving
  • Operation with strong results
  • Seeking different perspectives

The question is, however, how do you foster this kind of behavior within your key management and ultimately the entire team?

While certainly there are the so-called “born leaders,” scientists tend to agree that leadership can be cultivated and shaped through strategic education, training, and experience. Here are the first baby steps you can start taking today to inspire, motivate and build better relationships with your team, as shared by 10 CEOs.

1. Always aim to determine the root cause

“Untangling the layering “whys” of a certain problem will help you solve it faster and more effectively than sticking a temporary “bandage” to cure the symptoms. That’s exactly where the 5 Whys technique comes essential, which was formally developed in the 50s by Sakichi Toyoda for Toyota to enhance their product development operations. Yet, it can be successfully applied today to any type of problem. Let me illustrate this with a quick example.

Problem statement: Our free trial conversion rates have decreased by 35% this month.

  • Why fewer customers are converting to paid users? Because we have tweaked our sales funnel and stopped sending that many emails.
  • Why did we stop sending those emails? Because the open rate was quite low anyways.
  • Why was the open rate so low? Because those emails were kind of boring in the first place.
  • So why didn’t you hire a better copywriter to update those? Because the CMO says we don’t have budgets for that.
  • And why did he tell you so? Apparently, because you’ve asked him to cut down the spendings.

You get the picture. Acting like an inquisitive five-year-old during the meetings will help you better understand the actual problems your team and your business is having as opposed to the perceived ones. It will also help you identify and assign the responsible people to solve the problem faster.” – Dean Kaplan, CEO of Kaplan Collection.

2. Practice compassion

“Even A-star performers have tough days. If your best players suddenly screwed up e.g. missed a deadline or did something wrong, don’t rush into discarding them all together. As a leader, you should use empathy and your compassion to understand what exactly went wrong. Yes, you can hold people accountable. But no, there’s no point in drawing fast conclusions before understanding the root of the problem.” – Moe Davis Hamade, CEO of BlackNote.

3. Foster reciprocal trust

Innovative leaders initiate collaborative relationships with people who work for them. Make yourself highly accessible and approachable. Your employees should know that you can be entrusted with any bold ideas. After all, the best ideas often bubble up from underneath.

Yet at the same time, their leader will watch their back and not throw them under the bus if anything goes wrong. Don’t punish people for honest mistakes or innovations will never happen at your company.” – James Morris, CEO of Stay In Cornwall.

4. Share the good times and the bad times

“Transparency has become another industry buzzword you hear everywhere. Yet, there are just a few companies and their leaders that actually practice transparency. The lack of transparency results in a global epidemic of mistrust. According to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer study, nearly one in three employees don’t trust their employers. Lack of trust leads to poor engagement, lower productivity and higher employee turnover rates.

So, how do you foster transparency at your company? Share the good, the bad and the ugly. And don’t keep that information until the annual company anniversary or another event where you are forced to make a speech. You can host bi-weekly team lunches, publicly share your revenues and other financial data, send a weekly/monthly corporate newsletter to your team informing of the wins and odds, or even keep all employee salaries on public display like SumAll does. The key here is to make sure that transparency applies to everyone – from the interns to the CEO.” – Ariel Chiu, CEO of Wonderstruck Events.

5.  Rein your toxic emotions

“Business and emotions should not exist within the same plane. However, no one is 100% prone to occasional emotional outbursts. Failing to control those can have a dreadful impact on your personal image. Never make a business decision when you are overwhelmed with emotions. Step back, breathe and ‘cool down’ before addressing the issue again.” – Dr. Kevin Kitt, CEO of Winnipeg Chiropractor.

6. Don’t forget to set your boundaries

“There is a fine line between being approachable and letting employees invade your personal space. And your team should be aware of those limits. Everyone in the office should clearly understand what kind of behavior and communication is tolerable. Having effective boundaries in place will save everyone from unneeded frustration and faux pas.” – Terri Robbins, CEO of Assisting Hands.

7. Distinguish the skill and will limitations

“Underperformance happens primarily for two reasons – lack of expertise and lack of will force. While the skill gap can be easily closed with additional mentoring and professional training, the will gap is harder to recognize and fix. You will need to look into the employee’s motivation. Why don’t they work up to the full capacity? Do they feel pressured by their direct manager? Or lack motivation due to lack of career advancement or just exhausted their mental potential within this department, but can feel re-inspired after a transfer? Your job as a leader is to find the exact causes and solve them effectively.” – Donald Downey, CEO of ACManHouston.

8. Stay humble

“Approachable and humble executives are the kind of leaders most employees want to see at their workplace. According to a recent study conducted by James Collins, the more humble CEOs acted, the better results top and mid management tend to show. That includes higher job satisfaction rates, engagement, motivation and higher rates of autonomy and effective decision-making. The mid-management personnel also reported being more collaborative and committed to doing their jobs better.” – Richard Li, CEO of 4k.com.

9. Recognize individual accomplishments, not just great team work

Receiving praise as part of the team feels good. But getting a personalized note from your manager or even the company CEO is a totally different type of employee motivation booster. In fact, 58% of employees agreed that “getting recognition” is one of the best engagement boosting techniques from company leaders. Whether you choose to send quick “thank you notes” or create a gamified recognition experience at your company, it has to be in place.” – Harry Crawford, CEO of My Tree Service.

10.  Never stop improving

“Great leaders don’t settle for the achieved positive results. They continuously invest in self-education and training, work on fixing personal issues and investigating their team’s performance. There’s always another skill you can master or technique to try. Always stay open to new ideas heading your way.” – Derek Iwasiuk, CEO of Assisted Living Near Me.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

What Is a Leader’s Most Important Job?

Leadership styles come in all shapes and sizes, and getting the job done, whatever the job may be, seems to be front and center of the focus of most of those in leadership positions. But what is a leader’s most important job? What should the real goal be? After more than two decades in leadership positions, I’ve narrowed it down to the following:

1. Provide inspiration.

As John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” I believe this to be as true today as it was then. Therefore, no matter the task at hand, I try to provide that inspiration — along with empowerment — to my workforce. By so doing, I can stimulate and excite my people with a vision, transition that vision to them and share it to inspire them. Interestingly, by letting others take hold of my vision, I could be perceived as letting go of power, but in so doing, I am actually empowering them. This, in turn, gives me the time and space to empower others. Besides, my vision is to empower others to empowers others, so I need help!

 2. Lead by example.

I do my best to lead by example as a way to inspire. I don’t demand, which I define as telling people what to do. Instead, I command, which to me, means “working with.” I may be in front, on the side, or on occasion, behind, but at all times I am connected and one with the group. I am aware that my actions will affect the group as a whole, so I do by best to “walk the walk” and let my words and actions empower and provide inspiration.

3. Acknowledge and apologize for mistakes.

Do I make mistakes? Sure, but isn’t it also inspirational when a leader takes accountability for their words or actions when they are wrong? I have no problem saying, “I’m sorry.” I am fully willing to make amends. But more importantly, I also forgive myself. I can’t give anything I don’t have myself. There are also times when I need to provide constructive criticism. But I also believe strongly in gratitude and empathy, and I try my best to thank individuals for their efforts and accomplishments as well.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and I try my best to focus on an individual’s positive attributes and achievements that have helped the business and not harp on the shortcomings. Most the time, people respond much better to praise than to negativity and threats.

4. Create alignment and cohesiveness.

Eventually, I have everyone at the office aligned with my principles and the value system that we’ve formed together. And again, because we’ve formed it together, a cohesiveness and unity exist. People buy in because they had a role to play in its formation and evolution. It has become a collective office belief.

I have seen time and time again that people who feel empowered have much better morale than those who don’t — and this directly translates into better performance. I have also observed, over more years than I care to admit, that people who are inspired perform better, show greater initiative and tend to be more creative in their thinking. If you empower and provide inspiration, you will have a loyal workforce committed to reaching, if not doing their best to reach, their full potential.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

 

Ensuring Diversity Is Not a Distraction to Leaders

Leaders play a critical role when it comes to diversity, but it’s not that simple. The problem of creating a more diverse workforce won’t be solved in a year or two, as there are larger macro-economic and social issues at play. There needs to be a balance between hiring the best candidate and leadership being intentional about bringing different kinds of people into the organization.

Diversity in the workplace is an important issue. Without a clear strategy and approach, it can be distracting for leaders or worse, ignored. While well-intentioned, some leaders are so focused on building a diverse team, they can ignore everything else that’s still important. Conversely, other leaders are so perplexed by what diversity means and they entirely ignore the issue.

Moving companies to greater diversity needs more balance and planning. Here’s how:

Understand the problem.

Any kind of diversity initiative starts with awareness. Awareness is more than knowing the percentage of minorities who work for the organization or the number of women on the executive team. Awareness is understanding the why behind these numbers. Research conducted by researchers at the University of Vermont and published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2015 found that adults who acknowledge their bias are actually more equipped to handle racial and social challenges than adults who claim they’re not biased.

Are there certain processes that unintentionally exclude people? What barriers exist inside the organization? Be honest and review processes that may be biased or lead to bias.

For example, even something as small as the words used in job descriptions can impact who applies for the job, according to an analysis conducted by ZipRecruiter. In the study, data scientists reviewed job ads posted to ZipRecruiter’s site and found that 70 percent used masculine words. However, when job ads used gender-neutral words, they received 42 percent more responses.

Even when organizations think they are trying to be inclusive, there can still be bias. For example, a study published in Administrative Science Quarterly in March found that when employers presented themselves as pro-diversity, minority candidates were much more likely to be open about their race on their resumes and other application materials.

However, those minority candidates were still less likely to get hired than white candidates or candidates who hid their race. When minority candidates “whitened” their resumes, or hid their race, they were more than twice as likely to get a callback for the job.

Pay attention to these types of biases within the organization so leaders know where to focus their energy to actually make a difference for diversity.

Create a plan for a solution.

Once there is awareness around the problems that limit diversity, company leaders should create a plan to tackle those issues. This can include rewriting job descriptions, using blind hiring tactics or changing certain workplace policies. Whatever the plan, make sure it’s specific to the organization and its unique challenges in building a more diverse workplace.

Be careful when creating a diversity plan — it should help, not distract leadership. Research of 829 U.S. companies, published in the July-August issue of the Harvard Business Review, found that some diversity programs and practices can actually decrease diversity in the workplace. This happens when organizations try to force diversity initiatives and control how leaders and employees think. These tactics often only increase bias, rather than reduce it.

Don’t let diversity become a distraction with an action plan that focuses on the wrong strategies. Don’t force a plan — dictate how everyone should think and act or mandate training. Instead of shoving diversity down the organization’s throat, leaders should focus on finding solutions. The study found that engaging management in the problem, increasing exposure to different groups and encouraging social accountability for change were the most effective tactics.

Keep it a priority, not a distraction.

Once there’s a plan in place, execute it. Then, keep it a priority within the organization, but not to the point of distraction. Diversity should be important, but it shouldn’t be the sole focus.

Once diversity programs are launched, it can be frustrating for leaders who don’t see results right away. So they put even more time, energy, and resources into the plan, hoping it will drive change. But this kind of change will take time. So results aren’t necessarily a sign that diversity initiatives require more attention, just that they need more time to make an impact. Leaders still need to take care of and pay attention to other workplace issues. After all, the Harvard Business Review study found some of the most effective programs that increased diversity weren’t even designed with diversity in mind. Leaders need to focus on improving the workplace as a whole. Diversity is certainly part of that equation, but it’s not the only factor.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

 

5 Ways to Reduce Stress for Your Employees

“Fasten your oxygen mask before assisting others” is an all-too-familiar instruction that many of us tune out when waiting for our flight to take off. But this sage advice can not only save you in an emergency, it can save you in life and as an entrepreneur. You need to take care of yourself first so that you can take care of your family, employees and clients. If you feel overwhelmed in your business, read this first to learn how to reduce some of the stress in your life. It’s also helpful to get a refresher on the law of diminishing returns to make sure that the additional work you’re doing is actually creating a better outcome for your business.

Once you can manage your own stress, you can lead by example to create a less stressful work environment for your employees. For additional help, here are a few of my own insights based on my 20-plus years as an entrepreneur and small business advisor:

1. Set clear goals for your employees.

It’s important to be transparent about the goals of the business and how job roles support these goals. This gives employees peace of mind because they know what they need to focus on and why. I recommend that you establish three to five strategic goals at the start of each year. Be sure to involve your employees in developing these goals so they buy into them and feel part of the process.

There are free easy-to-use templates available to help guide you. Once you have your business goals, each employee should develop their own 3 to 5 individual goals. They should ladder up to the company goals and be measurable. This helps them understand how what they do on a daily basis aligns with the company’s objectives.

2. Offer a flexible work environment.

Keeping employees is the most important thing you can do. If not, you can lose thousands of dollars for every employee who leaves due to lost productivity and the cost of finding and training a new employee. But for many small business owners, it can be difficult to stay competitive with pay. But pay isn’t everything. Many people are looking for a purposeful mission at the place they work. Others want a flexible work environment that helps reduce some of the other pressures in their lives. So when you can’t compete on pay, look for other creative ways to keep employees happy. For example, if employees have children, be open to letting them come into the office early and leave early to pick their children up after school. You can also be flexible about letting employees work from home by having the right technology in place that facilitates remote work.

To attract millennials to your business, it’s important that you offer “work-life” integration. This means that work is task and effort oriented. So if they work at 2 a.m. rather than 3 p.m., it’s not monitored as long as their work is completed by specific deadlines. This flexibility allows them to continue to enjoy the things they want to do — whether that’s attending their kids’ games or participating in hobbies — and still achieve what they need to for the business.

3. Share your profits.

So often employees see money coming in and don’t feel like they are getting their fair share. If your business is profitable, look at ways that you can reward employees when the business does well. This could mean creating a profit sharing plan where they get a percentage of the profits or a quarterly bonus. And even if your business doesn’t have a lot of extra cash, you can be generous in other meaningful ways. For example, at one of my businesses, I used to close down the office for the day and take the staff to a spa and lunch as a celebration. This was something that the employees looked forward to and worked to earn.

4. Discourage multitasking.

Multitasking makes it hard for the brain to focus. In fact, new research shows that multitasking drains the energy reserves of your brain. It uses up the oxygenated glucose in the brain, which is the same fuel that your brain needs to focus. In fact, every time you are interrupted it also takes about 23 minutes for you to regain focus according to Gloria Mark, a professor in the department of informatics at the University of California, Irvine. So the best way to get meaningful input and work product from your employees is to discourage them from multitasking. You can do this by asking them not to bring laptops or phones to meetings. You can also encourage them to post and respect “do not disturb signs” on their desks or on their messenger app when they are focusing on an activity. You can also recommend that employees take a 15-minute break every few hours.

Research shows that this short break helps our brains recharge so that we can better focus on the next activity. The best way to make this happen is to lead by example. Make sure you are fully present at meetings — not looking at your phone or laptop — so you can make clear decisions. You can also shorten meetings to 15 to 20 minutes. Then give yourself 10 minutes between meetings to catch up. This way you and your employees don’t feel stressed about emails piling up.

5. Encourage employees to move their bodies.

The mind can’t work at an optimal level without the body. Just like you block off your calendar for work, it’s important to block off 30 to 60 minutes each day to move your body. So encourage employees to take time from their day to exercise at the gym, take a walking lunch or meeting or try a yoga class. You’ll find that your employees will work smarter, and have greater focus and clarity of thought. I often teach a yoga class at lunch. Many of the employees who attend my class tell me how they return to their desks with a renewed sense of energy and creativity. Others say that they can solve issues that weren’t able to solve before taking that mental reprieve. Physical activity such as yoga and running is also a good way for employees to learn how to pace themselves at work.

These simple steps can help you reduce the stress level of your employees. Not only will this improve their lives but you will create loyal employees who enjoy coming to work each day. In turn, happy employees create happy clients and are the foundation for making your business successful over the long run.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

4 Motivational Factors Employees Seek for Their Careers

As leaders, we must always hold ourselves accountable to build meaningful and purposeful relationships with our employees. This allows us to better understand those we are serving, and what motivates them to perform for the betterment of a healthier whole.

Assessments, books, and other tools can help us understand ourselves and the people we work with and for. But the factors that motivate employees to achieve evolve as they mature and begin to truly understand what matters most to them.

So don’t just use tools but really get to know the people you are leading and be specific about how you can help each of them achieve their goals, desires, and aspirations. The overall objective should be to help one another and lift each other up – and to accomplish this you and your employees must know and identify what motivates you best to work together. Getting the most from your employee relationships ultimately means motivating employees to maximize performance levels while also satisfying their own career aspirations.

To do this keep in mind the following four motivational factors that they seek for their careers:

1. Career Relevancy

In today’s world, everyone wants to be noticed and recognized for their work and employees are motivated to achieve to remain relevant. As such, they are in search of new ways to learn, improve their skills, and invest in themselves. This is an opportunity for leaders to get involved and understand how to build the depth and breadth of their employees’ skill sets and aptitudes that will increase their relevancy and cultivate increased performance levels and loyalty.

2. Career Advancement

Employees are extremely motivated to achieve if they know advancement awaits them. This requires employees to be mindful of opportunities that lie around, beneath, and beyond what they seek. As a leader, you will sustain high levels of motivation from your employees if you can open doors of opportunity and accelerate their chances for advancement. Remember, just because your employees may be relevant, it doesn’t guarantee advancement. Helping your employees get discovered will elevate their motivation to achieve. So make it a point to help them get there.

On that note, how proficient are you at seeing and seizing the opportunity? If you haven’t taken my assessment, I suggest that you do (click here). Over a million people have taken it and less than 1% of them have scored over 35.

3. Career Stability

People—especially Millennials—are motivated to have safety and security. We have all learned from the 2008 economic collapse that we can all quickly become victims of unexpected change without preparation. As a leader, be mindful of providing security and stability in how you lead your employees – and watch their motivational levels rise.

4. No Career Regrets

People only have a few real chances in their careers to reach their ultimate goals. In fact, how many times do you meet people that are more successful than you are and you wonder how they got there?  People don’t want to live with any regrets in their career/life and thus are motivated to not disappoint themselves. As a leader, don’t allow your employees to walk around carrying a load of guilt. Share your journey with them – your failures and successes. Many people are confused in today’s workplace about their future; help them embrace the unexpected and navigate uncertainty and change.. Motivate them by giving them the perspectives they need to achieve.

s leaders, we must always hold ourselves accountable to build meaningful and purposeful relationships with our employees. This allows us to better understand those we are serving, and what motivates them to perform for the betterment of a healthier whole.

Assessments, books, and other tools can help us understand ourselves and the people we work with and for. But the factors that motivate employees to achieve evolve as they mature and begin to truly understand what matters most to them.

So don’t just use tools but really get to know the people you are leading and be specific about how you can help each of them achieve their goals, desires, and aspirations. The overall objective should be to help one another and lift each other up – and to accomplish this you and your employees must know and identify what motivates you best to work together. Getting the most from your employee relationships ultimately means motivating employees to maximize performance levels while also satisfying their own career aspirations.

To do this keep in mind the following four motivational factors that they seek for their careers:

1. Career Relevancy

In today’s world, everyone wants to be noticed and recognized for their work and employees are motivated to achieve to remain relevant. As such, they are in search of new ways to learn, improve their skills, and invest in themselves. This is an opportunity for leaders to get involved and understand how to build the depth and breadth of their employees’ skill sets and aptitudes that will increase their relevancy and cultivate increased performance levels and loyalty.

2. Career Advancement

Employees are extremely motivated to achieve if they know advancement awaits them. This requires employees to be mindful of opportunities that lie around, beneath, and beyond what they seek. As a leader, you will sustain high levels of motivation from your employees if you can open doors of opportunity and accelerate their chances for advancement. Remember, just because your employees may be relevant, it doesn’t guarantee advancement. Helping your employees get discovered will elevate their motivation to achieve. So make it a point to help them get there.

On that note, how proficient are you at seeing and seizing the opportunity? If you haven’t taken my assessment, I suggest that you do (click here). Over a million people have taken it and less than 1% of them have scored over 35.

3. Career Stability

People—especially Millennials—are motivated to have safety and security. We have all learned from the 2008 economic collapse that we can all quickly become victims of unexpected change without preparation. As a leader, be mindful of providing security and stability in how you lead your employees – and watch their motivational levels rise.

4. No Career Regrets

People only have a few real chances in their careers to reach their ultimate goals. In fact, how many times do you meet people that are more successful than you are and you wonder how they got there?  People don’t want to live with any regrets in their career/life and thus are motivated to not disappoint themselves. As a leader, don’t allow your employees to walk around carrying a load of guilt. Share your journey with them – your failures and successes. Many people are confused in today’s workplace about their future; help them embrace the unexpected and navigate uncertainty and change.. Motivate them by giving them the perspectives they need to achieve.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

What Indian Entrepreneurs Think Electorates Should Keep in Mind

As U.S. Presidential Elections commence, India and other countries eagerly await the decision of the commoners as they pick President Barrack Obama’s successor to the post. Both Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump come with their own set of views on international trade, immigration, policies and other matters, which are set to have their respective impact on other economies as well.

Leadership – is a term used to a bunch of qualities one should have to steer a pack of people to the right destination. It’s not a quality that every other person can boast of. We at Entrepreneur India asked Indian startup founders as to what are the qualities that one should consider prior to casting their vote.

Accountability 

A leader should have the ability to take ownership of his and the team’s actions, both in the case of good and bad scenarios.

”A person is accountable for her/his own decision(s) made by applying the powers bestowed on them. For me, the ideal leader is that person who is wise and clear in his vision to plan, invest in over- all growth and be able to lead during triumph and tribulations and glorify the potential of a nation on the global map. I would like to select an astute leader who has the precise knowledge and the bravado to take decisions that might not be populist at the beginning, but will definitely have far-reaching positive effects,” Anuj Rakyan, Founder and MD, RAW Pressery.

Leader’s own credibility 

As an electorate it’s very important to look at the background and credibility of the candidate. The contesting candidate should have a body of work that makes him eligible for that post.

Vision

The potential candidate should have the clear vision as to where and how he wants to steer his organization/country/team during his tenure. There is nothing more unfortunate than having a leader who cannot articulate his vision within his co-workers. What’s more unfortunate is that this in turns impacts his team members and creates havoc.

“The two most important winning factors in a leader are (a) a compelling vision and (b) the leader’s own credibility. The vision has to be articulated so well that every person in the audience feels that it is reflecting her or his own hopes and aspirations for the future. At the same time, a vision can be just mere words – unless the leader can demonstrate a proven track record of having delivered in similar roles in the past,” Subrata Ghosh, CEO & Founder, Redstone Learning

As Trump and Clinton fight it out in the last leg of the battle, it will be interesting to see how the victorious candidate eventually displays these leadership traits during his or her tenure.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

‘Why Leadership Sucks’ eBook Free For a Limited Time

Learn the truth about what it really means to be a successful and influential leader. Grab your free copy of “Why Leadership Sucks” eBook and jump on the path to selfless, gratifying leadership.

How do we define leadership? What is “servant leadership”? What are the most effective leadership characteristics? Do you wish your company had a leadership development program, or are you frustrated with organizational leadership? Do you wonder why some leadership styles suck? You are not alone.

 The book is divided into four parts:

1: To serve or not to serve. Effective leadership characteristics require servant leadership.
2: Do what’s best for your organization. Discusses various aspects of organizational leadership and culture
3: Humility 101. Leadership principles of self-examination, apologies, authenticity, controlling and displaying emotions, and handling adversity.
4: Specific management situations, focusing on business leadership competencies

Discover why servant leadership is frustrating and learn practical leadership principles for your leadership journey.

Note from the author: What’s ironic is that in serving others selflessly, elevating their needs in place of our wants, our own self-fulfillment arises as a natural byproduct. Yet when we attempt to “climb the career ladder” by tearing others down to achieve this shallow version of success, a negative sum game ensues, and everyone loses. With a consistent, persistent commitment to the right kind of learning, anyone can become a better leader. This book will hopefully give you a lot of ideas for better habits and attitudes.

Disclosure: This is brought to you by the Entrepreneur Partner Studio. Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Original Article:www.entrepreneur.com

Begging for a Return to Respectful Communications

Because we are each a unique human beings, it is not surprising that most people are not going to see things exactly our way. Very few of us hold the same view on almost any subject. We express opinions like they are fact. Opinions, however, are often built on unsubstantiated facts with a not-so healthy dash of bias.

We hold onto these opinions as tightly as possible and as if any sane person universally agrees. If you don’t agree with me, there must be something dramatically wrong with you. This is where arguments start. If something were easily and universally provable, we would hardly have any arguments. Why do we argue? It’s in our belief that our opinion is provable even though it’s most likely not.

The argument creep.

We will continue to argue until one of us gives up. This does not mean that the person who gives up has changed their mind, but rather they are just tired of the never ending onslaught of verbal abuse. I have never seen an argument end up without hurt feelings.

 When arguments get heated, bad things will happen. Road rage is an argument in an expression. There is no such thing as a good argument. Versus an argument, a discussion is a much healthier, rationale way of working through an issue or issues. A discussion is the airing of different points of view where we get things out on the table without them getting heated. It is only going to become heated if the discussion turns into an argument.

Best practices in discussion.

The best way to have a discussion is to set the rules up front as to the desired outcome. Keeping voices moderate — and not harsh — will help ensure a proper tone. When tensions rise, voices become harsh, loud and inflammatory; the neutrality of a healthy discussion has entered argument territory.

Another guidepost in fostering discussions without it turning into an argument is to ensure that opinions or statements do not go as far as to infringe on the beliefs of the other person. Beliefs can be deep rooted and actually define who we are as individuals. Therefore, they are more likely to elicit emotion, passion, frustration and other types of feelings that can impact the otherwise neutrality of a discussion.

If someone wants to understand your beliefs and is generally interested in how you believe in a particular area, it’s okay to bring them up as long as the interested party is not bringing them up as a means to deviate into an argument.

The role of body language.

Body language is far more expressive of emotions than voice or words. With this in mind, good tips for laying the foundation for healthy discussions are pretty simple. Smile. Nod. Lean in. Use your hands for animation. Raised voices — while expressive of passion — can also lead to confusion as to the tenor. Avoid cutting people off. Uncross arms. Be very present to your body language and tone and the impact these can have on managing towards the aforementioned objective of the discussion.

Know when to say when.

It is human nature to enjoy a good and healthy debate, but it is good to keep in mind that most debates are masking a fundamental argument. It’s important to remain conscious if a discussion is a means to blow off some steam and let go of energy positive or negative. When this becomes the case, it’s the responsibility of those involved to call it — better to conclude the communication than to continue on as, in my experience, neither party walks away well. The debater might feel good about expelling the energy, but most likely will later regret how the communication went. The recipient surely didn’t benefit from the energy. Better to have the discipline to conclude and regroup at a later time.

Do as you say, not as you see.

The 2016 presidential election is quite possibly the best expression of why arguments are simply the worst. Barbs and shots and low blows command our daily headlines. We wouldn’t tolerate this level of name calling or blame from our children, yet those vying for the most important position in our country, if not our world, are not above holding adult-size temper tantrums. My advice is to be responsible in your words and your language and not follow the actions of our elected (or non) officials. Find the good in others versus immediately seeking the negative.

I beg for a return to decency.

We all have faults and shortcomings. Rather than breathlessly seeking these out in those around us, we ought to prioritize ourselves to rectify the characteristics and bad habits that keep us from living our most worthwhile lives. If I have learned anything from this current political debate, it is that is possible to operate at the least common denominator of character and not be held accountable for it. To be a happier people, we need to lay aside our differences, consciously avoid unnecessary arguments and simply aspire for healthier discussions and communications. Enough already.

original article:www.entrepreneur.com

Live Your Own Life, Not Someone Else’s

If you watched the Seattle Seahawks play the New York Jets on Sunday, you couldn’t help but notice the glaring difference between the two teams’ head coaches. It was a study in contrast: The Seahawks’ Pete Carroll was as excitable and animated as the Jets’ Todd Bowles was stoic and expressionless.

Do you think their outward demeanor means either coach is less emotionally invested in the game or the outcome? Of course not. Trust me when I tell you — if you’re a coach in the NFL, you love the game of football, you love your team and nothing matters more to you than winning.

That said, everyone reacts differently to emotional stimulus. No two people process events or information exactly the same way. Everyone has his own way of doing things. And that’s especially true of leaders in any field, whether they’re coaches on the field, CEOs in corner offices or entrepreneurs working out of a garage.

 And yet, we consume massive amounts of generic, one-size-fits-all, self-help advice. You know what I’m talking about: personal routines, habits and hacks. How to be productive. What to eat. How to behave. When to wake up and when to go to bed. How to become rich and famous. Why you should quit your day job and start an online business.

If any of those NFL coaches had wasted their precious time on that sort of nonsense, they never would have made it to the top of their profession in the first place. That goes for executives and business leaders, too. The reason is simple. They don’t let anyone else tell them how to think or act.

Real leaders follow their own path. They trust their own instincts. They have the courage and conviction to do things their own way. Of course they have mentors and teachers, but that’s different. That’s personal and specific, not the sort of useless, prescriptive nonsense folks are obsessed with these days.

The worst thing about all that generic content is that its publishers have but one goal: clicks, ad dollars and subscriptions. They don’t have skin in your game. They don’t have your best interests at heart. Rather, they post whatever popular dogma is prevalent at the time. Their job is to feed millions of readers whatever it is they want to hear. Period.

Now, contrast that with what Steve Jobs had to say during his famous2005 Stanford University commencement speech:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Jobs was absolutely right about popular dogma or beliefs being a trap. If he only knew how many of you have fallen for that trap through the breakthrough technology Apple created, he’d probably turn in his grave.

Perhaps the greatest irony of the modern era is that the overwhelming majority of successful executives and business leaders — the kind of people we all admire — don’t waste a minute of their precious time reading or regurgitating that sort of popular garbage. They’re too busy working. They’re too busy doing what matters.

According to the latest report from Domo and CEO.com, 61 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence whatsoever, and of the rest, nearly three quarters, use only LinkedIn and few are active. It’s not just that they have better things to do; they don’t see the value in it. Neither do I.

As for books, CEOs I’ve known read everything from classic literature and popular fiction to historical biographies. I’ve seen the occasional business book — but usually by an expert like Drucker or Levitt or dramatic stories about how real executives overcame adversity to achieve extraordinary results.

In a 2014 “Wall Street Journal” op-ed, Bill Gates talked about his favorite business book: a decades-old, out of print edition he borrowed from his mentor, Warren Buffet, “Business Adventures” by John Brooks.

Gates explains that Brooks, a writer for the “New Yorker,” was an exceptional storyteller whose deep knowledge of what happened behind the scenes at exceptional companies like Xerox, General Electric and Ford provided powerful insights into what it takes to succeed in the real business world:

“Unlike a lot of today’s business writers, Brooks didn’t boil his work down into pat how-to lessons or simplistic explanations for success. You won’t find any listicles in his work. Brooks wrote long articles that frame an issue, explore it in depth, introduce a few compelling characters and show how things went for them.”

Gates goes on to say that the book has stood the test of time because it’s as much about human nature — how leaders react to challenging circumstances — as it is about specific businesses. It’s that human factor, the drama, that inspires readers to think for themselves and draw conclusions that are relevant to their own circumstances.

original article:www.entrepreneur.com

5 Things I’ve Learned by Co-Founding a Successful Business

Some of the world’s most famous and successful companies, like Apple, were started by two or more co-founders. Others, like Disney, were started by just one person. Here, then, is the billion-dollar question: Is one choice better than the other?

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how I started Tailored Ink withDan Foley, my business partner. We’re both writers, we both majored in English and we each have qualities the other lacks. On paper, it made perfect sense for me to approach him to be my partner. Fortunately for both of us, we hit it off and haven’t looked back.

 But, as with any long-term relationship, making things work takes a lot of practice and compromise. It takes a while to get used to someone else, and when you’re starting a business with a partner, you’re practically married.

So, here are five things I’ve learned co-founding a successful business with Dan:

1. You have an accountability partner.

When I was a student, I can honestly say, I didn’t enjoy teamwork or group projects. I was, and still am, an introvert. I focus best when I’m alone, and recharge by enjoying my “inner life” (as Susan Cain would put it). But ever since starting our company, I’ve changed my mind about teamwork. Dan and I are a great team, and we complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses very well. In fact, co-founding a company worked so well that I’m about to start two more companies with different co-founders.

Why am I so satisfied with having a business partner? Because Dan keeps me accountable. Any commitment that requires a regular commitment is much easier when you have a partner in crime. Consider the example of a gym membership. Motivating yourself to go alone can be incredibly difficult. But when you meet up weekly with a friend who pushes you to do your best, it’s suddenly much easier.

The same thing applies to business. Accountability works wonders. In fact, it’s been shown that having two founders, rather than one, significantly increases a startup’s odds of success. Not only do two founders raise, on average, 30 percent more in investments, they also grow customers three times as fast.

2. Splitting equity is complicated.

Unsurprisingly, the most common complaint otherwise happy co-founders have is over equity. Determining a fair equity split can be awkward and messy.

Tons of co-founders have been interviewed about this, and many of them warn against a 50/50 split. The reason for such a warning is the same issue that bothers many older business owners: “co-CEOs.” Egos are very real and easily bruised.

But there is a fair and objective way to split equity (there’s even a calculator for it). Personally, I think one of the most sensible ways to split equity is to list out the major roles that need to be filled, (including who came up with the original idea and brought everyone together), calculate a weighted value to each assigned role and then add up the numbers.

Why don’t more co-founders decide on their equity split in such a logical, objective manner? Because it can be an incredibly awkward and touchy subject. Just finding a single dependable co-founder who believes in your vision is hard enough; that’s why so many co-founders just agree to a 50/50 split before they even begin to investigate what they’ll actually be doing.

That might be the easy solution, but it isn’t the fair one. And, in the long run, the fair solution is what holds partnerships together.

3. You have someone to cover you.

One of the privileges of having a dependable business partner? You don’t have to completely sacrifice your work-life balance.

You can work a bit less because there are two people hustling instead of one, which is why we’ve been able to try out four-day workweeks. Your partner can cover you when you can’t make a crucial client meeting. He or she will spot your mistakes and let you know about them. You can divide and conquer and grow the company faster than if you were finding clients on your own.

Doing it all on your own, by comparison, can be incredibly intimidating and burn you out so much faster. Most “solopreneurs” admit that they work like dogs, sacrifice many of their friendships (and romances) and still feel miserable. There’s even an article out there titled “Being an entrepreneur is more about sacrifice than freedom or riches.”

But that doesn’t have to be you. Most solopreneurs who have failed had no business trying to run their own business alone and just weren’t very self-aware. I’m one of those people, which is exactly why I wanted a co-founder.

4. You have to coordinate a lot more.

When you start a business with another human being, you learn to compromise. It really is like any other long-term relationship that takes practice and dedication. (My girlfriend constantly jokes that I should just marry Dan.)

What happens when you have to compromise on a daily basis? You have to coordinate a lot more meetings, make a lot more last-minute phone calls and sometimes drag yourself to the closest restaurant still open after midnight for an impromptu strategy session. Things just get done at a slower pace when you have a co-founder.

But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, 80 percent of all new businesses fail within the first 18 months. And an overwhelming number of them fail, not because the solopreneur couldn’t find clients or because the co-founders couldn’t get along, but because the company scaled too quickly.

What’s the best way to prevent your startup from scaling too quickly? You guessed it — get a co-founder.

5. Two heads are better than one.

Common wisdom dictates that you shouldn’t start a company with a close friend or family member. When so much is on the line and the pressure is constantly on, the chances of things going south (along with your relationship) are very high.

But you know what Dan and I did have going for us? The fact that there were exactly two of us. Many of the most successful companies in history had exactly two founders. So, not only are two heads better than one, two founders are probably better than three or more.

When there are too many people at the table or in the boardroom, it can be a recipe for disaster. I see this play out all the time on a much smaller scale during client kickoff calls. As an example, imagine getting just one client to pick one of hundreds of potential website designs. Next, try convincing five people to pick the same one

Now, imagine trying to get four co-founders to pick out the same website design for your new company.

Do you have a co-founder in mind?

Thinking back, I realize that Dan and I were very lucky. We pretty much decided to start a business together on little more than a hunch, and we barely knew each other. Any number of things could have gone terribly, horribly wrong. But they didn’t, and I think I know why.

I’ll go back to my sailing analogy from another Entrepreneur post. You can steer your ship into stormy waters by yourself, surviving entirely on your own wit and determination. Or you can have a trusted sailor by your side, helping bail the water and man the helm when you’re tired.

original article:www.entrepreneur.com