Do People See You a Leader or a Liability?

Russian Rainbow Gathering. Nezhitino, August 2005
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While I’ve always been rather moderate in my politics, I am a child of the 60’s. One of the phrases that was used a lot back then by the militants and flower children was ‘If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”.

As you review your own behavior in life, do you make sure you’re part of the solution or would others see you as part of the problem?

When you’re part of the problem, you probably feel victimized by your circumstances, powerless to change them and/or resigned that nothing you do can fix what’s really wrong with your world.

This likely leaves you reluctant to take action, bitter and resentful, maybe even hopeless.

You would recognize this by the language you use privately in your own head and in conversation with others.

“Why bother?”

“If only those idiots over there would get their act together…”

“I can’t…”

“I have to…”

They all reflect a loss of power, a lack of empowerment, an absence of responsibility for causing the world to be the way you say it should be.

So, I’ll ask again, “Are you a leader or a liability?” And just as important…how to people SEE you?

Leaders get ahead, get promoted, get great clients.

Liabilities get ignored or worse yet, fired, retired, RIFed (reduced in force), laid off or go broke.

So what does it take to be seen as a leader in your company, community, business or family?

Three things distinguish leaders from whiners and naysayers.

1. Leaders DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE to fix the problem once they’ve identified it.

The don’t sit around and blame The Establishment, their bosses, employees, kids or spouse for their problem.  They name the problem and communicate. They make requests or demands for it’s resolution…from someone who is empowered to take that action.  They might even take the matter into their own hands and fix it themselves.

2. Leaders strive to bring opposing sides together to see an outcome that will benefit the larger community. They care about the impact of their actions on others.

Collaboration is the strategy true leaders use to create common goals and passion for making them real.

3. Leaders encourage others to feel empowered and helpful, not righteous, smug and victorious, wanting to suppress the rights of others.

When people are working on altruistic causes, they WILL feel enlightened. Their Spirit will know they are on the right track.  Certainly some leaders can push non-altruistic, selfish causes, but their followers will tend to feel entitled and indignant rather than grounded in the common good.

Liabilities, on the other hand sit back and point fingers. They lay blame and accuse others of being the Bad Guys without offering any proactive suggestions to improve conditions.

They enact a quiet, and sometimes, not so quiet, mutiny. They sabotage forward movement. They throw rocks into the cogwheels of progress. They pride themselves in making life difficult for others.

They may be proactive but could tend to use domination and force rather than collaboration and power balancing.

So, how would the people around you see you? Are you bringing solutions for the betterment of all or waiting for someone else to step forward while complaining they aren’t acting swiftly enough?

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Manage Your Top Line & Your Bottom Line Will Take Care of Itself

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“Manage your top line and your bottom line will take care of itself.”

I heard Steve Jobs say this in a previously recorded video that was resurrected shortly after Steve announced his resignation as CEO of Apple Computer.

I worked for Apple for almost 8 years – during the time that Steve was not there.  I heard stories of his genius and his temper and experienced first-hand, the most fun and innovative culture I’ve ever worked in.

His statement “Manage your top line and your bottom line will take care of  itself”, really resonated with me.

I’ve been focusing recently on what it takes to land larger, higher-paying clients and the positive impact that can have on a company‘s profitability.

Steve cited 3 things that must be attended to in managing your top line.

The 3 things are strategy, people & products.

Here is my take on how to focus on those 3 critical elements.

1. Strategy
A strategy is an overall plan to achieve specific, generally long-term, goals. It’s an approach, a broad, general roadmap, a way to go about doing business.

A strategy defines how an organization intends to get from where it is now to where it wants to be in the future, perhaps three to five years out.  Pursuing Whales to grow revenue is a strategy.  Going global is a strategy. Penetrating a specific industry is a strategy. Increasing visibility to raise awareness about a product or service is a strategy. A strategy may include time frames but typically they are ‘end point’ dates.

Focusing on strategy charts the course for the organization. It helps yes/no, go/no-go decisions get made in the short term. Positioning and pricing are outcomes of strategic decisions about what markets to pursue and how.

2. People
The best strategy in the world will fall flat on it’s face without competent people to carry it out. Implementing strategy requires a multitude of interdependent decisions to be made. Discerning judgment (a human skill) is a combination of intellect, knowledge, values and intuition. Having the right people in the right positions doing the right things right, can make a strategy come to life and catapult a company to wild success or oblivion.

3. Products
The third leg of this stool is comprised of the products an enterprise offers. Great strategy and great people can make the most of mediocre products. But great products can overcome (at least for a while) weak strategy and ordinary people. Of course, it’s hard to produce great products with mediocre strategy and people.

Apple likely wouldn’t have designed and produced the iPod, iPhone and iPad without great people. But there was a time, pre-‘i’ era, when those great people churned out lackluster ‘also-ran’ products.

When all great components are present, revenues rise because the company is delivering what the marketplace wants. great people make wise decisions about marketing, research, manufacturing, administration and financial matters. Great products continue to be delivered positioning the company as innovative with a commitment to quality.

Profits rise.

Jobs brought a unique perspective and vision to Apple.

So the questions are, What do YOU bring to your firm?

What’s YOUR strategy? Do you have one?

Are  you staffed with the right people in the right roles doing the right things right?

Is what you’re offering a match to the market as it is today or tomorrow? Are you even in touch with market needs or are you developing offers in a vacuum and wondering why sales are lagging?

As I’m finishing up this article, I see a tweet that Apple’s stock hit an all-time high today: $411 and change.

Clearly the strategy Jobs espoused is taking the company in the right direction.

Make sure your three legs of this business stool are sitting on solid ground.

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