3 Qualities that Separate Great Leaders from the Pack

One of the most common questions I’m asked by listeners, readers, including people from all walks of the leadership path is: So what do I do now?  

Whatever level you are on—whether you’re adding new teams, scaling for new growth, managing a new obstacle—this is your re-aligning step: Start with Self!

You can analyze roles within the team, and the most influential member is the leader. 

As the leader goes…so goes the team.

It is essential that Leadership direct all things (people, process, resources) toward an outcome and that cannot occur without an understanding of present reality. Which leads to the first role of a leader:

A Leader Assesses the Present

In order to lead, in order to attain any destination, we have to look at where we are presently. If we don’t assess the present (with an understanding of what got us here) then we might not make the right moves for the present scenario.

Please spend the time to gain full awareness in assessing the present. So what components of the present should we assess?

  • Assess the Situation
  • Assess the Team
  • Assess the Resources

Assessing the present opens up to knowing your product or service, knowing your process, market conditions, customer satisfaction and in the midst of all of that—the team you have inherited to get you there. (Their capabilities, their capacity, their commitment; the present culture)

A Leader Inspires Future Possibilities 

While an eye on the present is an obvious necessity, we can’t short-sight our vision—for the sake of sustaining business success and keeping an engaged team.   

People need to believe that tomorrow will be better; that the promise of the future is greater than the past.

A mark of a good leader is to be able to cast vision for what the future might look like, to inspire the workforce that they can achieve greatness, AND to create buy-in that you are the leader that will help them achieve it.  

See the envisioned future, raise the bar, and infuse the team with the right mindset.

  • Believe in your people
  • Develop your people
  • Map the methodology

Determine the Direction

Once you’ve set roles 1 and 2, the next role is to determine and communicate the next step. 

(Without the right expectations, clearly communicated, no teams can fulfill their roles with excellence and efficiency.)

When the true leader speaks with confidence and points the team in the right direction, dynamics start to change. 

Setting the direction doesn’t mean that you must know every single step in the process. 

But can you successfully find out THE next step, take that step, and look for the next? It is ok to walk out your envisioned future, expecting that after taking a step—the next one will reveal itself. 

You will be 1 step closer with a little more knowledge and trust that the next door will open.

But a word of warning: Avoid dragging whenever possible! Forcing people into the right direction is usually a copout for poor communication. 

Good leaders orient the team. Great leaders orient and engage. 

Expect your Roles.

In leadership, there are principles and practices; characteristics and competencies. A principle of mine that has proved true for decades is, “What you permit, you promote; what you allow, you endorse.”

Mediocre leaders pass the buck. They ditch their roles. Maybe it’s how their bosses before them acted. Maybe it’s just the norm. But teams have leaders for a reason—

If your team has fallen into disarray, miscommunication, inefficiency… the root of the problem may be a misunderstanding of leadership roles. 

So first, check yourself. Then, check your vision. Check your team communication—and make sure their direction is true.

How to Attract Top Talent at Your Company

7 Ways an InSPIRED Culture Keeps the Best People

Lack of direction, definition, and subsequent re-work exhausts the team, leads to missed deadlines, and lowers productivity. 

About $1 million is wasted every twenty seconds due to poorly executed business strategies. You might as well light your revenue on fire, because poor execution will send whatever you earn up in smoke. 

When you hamper productivity, blow through finances, and destroy relationships—even unintentionally, you create the unholy trinity of culture gone wild. 

In the end, when you fail to execute, you’re not only hurting the bottom line, but also betraying the trust of your people. Who puts faith in someone who can’t be trusted to complete the plan? When trust leaves, commitment isn’t far behind. 

If you promise an inspirational culture but don’t deliver execution, inspiration turns to exasperation, especially for the top talent you need to stay engaged on your team. Remember, talent always has a choice. 

The best people want to get things done, not stagger in and out like zombies. 

On the other hand, a team that drips Inspired Culture can plan to catch—and keep—top talent that keeps them on the rise. 

You Can’t Afford to Miss This

If you’ve had the privilege of working in an InSPIRED culture, you’ve already experienced some of its benefits. But you may not have realized how deeply this kind of culture can impact the entire organization. 

In my years of working with companies and helping them build InSPIRED cultures, here are some of the benefits I’ve discovered. 

InSPIRED culture…

  • Attracts the top talent. Talent always has a choice. Especially in today’s highly mobile work environment, the best people can go anywhere to work for anyone. So why would they choose you? A healthy culture produces all the intangible quality-of-life benefits that top talent demands. Even if they may be able to make more money elsewhere, they’re more likely to join a team where they like the leader, are treated fairly, and feel connected to a sense of purpose.
  • Maximizes top talent. A healthy culture is a pro-growth culture that seeks to empower everyone on the team to deliver his or her best in the areas of their greatest strengths. If you think it’s too much trouble to maximize your current talent, try not doing it. You’ll soon be left with only the employees who lack both the skills needed at present and the ambition to grow in the future. Not good. 
  • Retains top talent. According to the Qualtrics Global Employee Pulse 2017 study, “employees with a high confidence level in their company’s senior leadership are five times as likely to remain with their employer for more than two years compared to employees with no confidence.” It’s that simple. If your people believe in you as a leader, they’ll stay. If not, they’re five times as likely to leave.
  • Increases productivity. When your employees are engaged, you’ll get more done with fewer people because you won’t be carrying the weight of disengaged employees. At the end of the day, a healthy culture grows the bottom line (and possibly, your own performance bonus).
  • Frees you to focus on the future. It’s amazing how proactive you can be about tomorrow when you’re not having to put out fires today.

Is Your Team INspired or Exasperated?

What are the marks of inspired culture? 

1. INtentional. An InSPIRED culture begins to form when you get intentional. Some companies and leaders try to succeed without ever understanding why. But how can you replicate what you don’t understand?. Excellence is never an accident.

2. Service. More than ever, service matters. An InSPIRED culture serves both external and internal customers. How people experience your team or organization over time becomes their expectation. Their expectation of you becomes your brand. 

Is your brand one that serves others well, or is it a self-serving brand? Do you even know? 

3. Passion. What fires you up? What passions fuel your best performance? Inspiration may influence you, but passion moves you and motivates the people you lead. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what your product or service is—if you’re in leadership, you’re in the people business. And people run on passion.

4. Integration. Everything is connected in your organization. But how well do all the parts and pieces work together? The gears and sprockets that make up the inner workings will determine whether you produce inspired results or the clock expires on your results. 

If you’ve ever found yourself thinking, “It really shouldn’t be this hard,” then you know the pain of disintegration. 

5. Real. As much as business leaders focus on hard data like production numbers and the bottom line, real people touch everything and determine long-term success. Everyone is wired for greatness, but not everyone is wired for greatness in the same areas. 

Consequently, the best leaders develop a team of people who lead where they’re strong and team where they’re weak. To do that, you must first get to know the people you lead in a real way. 

6. Execution. Why do you need to inspire? Results. And to get results, your team has to execute. If you don’t actually get things done with an accountability cadence, all your work becomes merely a relational exercise. 

The reason you need to be intentional, service-focused, passionate, integrated, and real is so you can execute with excellence to achieve optimal results.

7. Develop. Once you achieve excellence, the question becomes: can you sustain it tomorrow, next week, and next year? The best leaders know they can’t stand still—they must continue to develop. So how do you and your team do that? By choosing to get better every day. Leaders must choose to develop continually. 

Top Talent Always Has a Choice

If you promise an inspirational culture but don’t deliver execution, inspiration turns to exasperation, especially for the top talent you need to stay engaged on your team. 

Remember, talent always has a choice. The best people want to get things done, not stagger in and out like zombies. 

BUT—Imagine for a moment that in your particular sphere of influence you create a thriving culture where people are happy to come to work.

They love their jobs and are proud of the work they do. They push each other to greatness and, as a result, they execute with excellence. People are real with each other, because they are living with authenticity. 

They follow their passions, because you’ve put them in the right seat on the bus. 

They serve one another because they know a rising tide lifts all boats. And they aren’t stagnant, because you’ve created a plan to help them develop and grow. 

Do you think a team like that would get noticed in your organization? You bet.