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How To Create A Positive Culture With Powerful Leadership
Traditional leadership models are constantly shifting because of increased competition and the need for key employees to perform at their best. Successful leaders in this new economy must be connected to their teams, have a powerful vision that is both tactical and strategic in focus, and be able to produce bottom line results. This shift in leadership focus has an added benefit—it leads to the creation of a positive, solution-oriented culture that increases productivity and employee loyalty.
We have spent thousands of hours coaching successful leaders in the corporate world and financial industries, and we are seeing a new leadership model evolving. This shift takes the strengths of leadership styles from the past and adds the new dimension of coaching to produce elevated results…and it is validated by success stories that span the world, from companies among the Fortune 50 to entrepreneurs.
Best of all, it is a simple model. There are seven steps which, when implemented, produce amazing results.
Step 1: Visualize high-level outcomes
This step is much more than a goal-setting exercise. A goal would be "to increase sales by 25 percent" (which isn't specific...and doesn't inspire anybody!) This is a strategic vision that acts as a blueprint and a catalyst to action.
A vision is inspiring, compelling, and pulls your team forward. One company executive asked, "The best-of-the-best sales people in our company sell more product than the others combined. What are they doing differently? How could we learn what they know and teach everyone to produce this way?" The results were beyond everyone's expectations. Hundreds of employees shared their enthusiasm and ideas, and literally changed the culture of this company to a much more positive environment, while profits soared.
Questions from the Coach:
•What do you really want to do?
•Why is this important to your customers, your employees, and your company growth?
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Step 2: Celebrate what is working
A question our clients often ask is, "why don't we start with the problem?" The reason is, as Daniel Goleman wrote in his book Social Intelligence, emotions are contagious. If you start with the problem, your emotions quickly follow a negative track. When you start with what is working, your brain focuses on the positive and can see possibilities that would otherwise be overlooked.
Question from the Coach: How do you know what you are doing is working? Start with ALL the good things you are accomplishing. Make a list, and have everyone contribute. Now ask, "What is one thing I could do better?"
Step 3: Clarify your vision
You have the rudiments of a compelling vision. Now it's time to get your team together and ask:
•What are the benefits (to your customers, your employees, and your company growth)?
•What is the impact?
•How will you know? (first step to measurables)
This exercise taps the power of "full alignment", drawing your entire team into the discussion. When everyone can articulate their personal benefit as well as the company and customer benefit, then you are on your way to a more open sharing environment.
Note: This exercise will take more time than you might anticipate. It is crucial that everyone is in full agreement, with all objections handled and full enthusiasm engaged. Remember—emotions are contagious, and negative emotions are really contagious. Work through the issues and objections, making sure every employee on your team is heard. Recognize those on your team who say, "it won't work." Use their objections to create a plan that overcomes the obstacles they see. Many times, they are the voice of reason.
Step 4: Use the Coaching Conversation
The Coaching Conversation is a positive series of questions that leads to agreement from all parties involved. It is not the boss telling (or yelling). It is a form of negotiation that takes practice to achieve. The key components are:
•It brings everyone on board, through a solution-oriented focus.
•The individual involved "buys in", especially when you give them credit for sharing.
•Focus on win/win vs. win/lose
•It is a powerful, positive conversation that drives results
Tip from the Coach: For more information or a workshop for your team, contact us at gillengroup.com
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Step 5: Action Details, timeline, and who is responsible
Successful executives and leaders always follow this step. The key points are:
•Break the vision into achievable goals
•Set a timeline, with interim timelines to stay on track
•Agree who is responsible for each item
•Schedule follow-up accountability meetings
•Keep your focus (and conversations) positive
•Keep your eyes on what you want!
Step 6: Accountability/measurables
How will you measure success? How will you keep your team on track?
The answer is to revisit your vision and benefits weekly. Take turns talking about what your vision means to you and how it will impact your company and clients. When everyone regularly talks positively about the vision, the enthusiasm becomes contagious. When challenges, doubts, or snafus occur, provide a safe place for the discussion to occur.
Step 7: Celebrate, tweak actions, implementation
Schedule time for celebrations, preferably on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. When challenges occur, step back, revisit the vision, and ask questions to help your team come up with alternatives.
This leadership model involves group buy-in and participation. It's an exciting way to tap the creativity of your team and increase productivity and results, while maintaining employee loyalty. The good news is you are using many of these techniques already, and a few tweaks to your process can make a big difference.
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