The 9 Proven Steps CEOs Can Take To Make Business Strategies Work!

In our private lives, we set out personal goals and objectives. Within a family, there are expectations — be it nuclear or extended (depending on the social mores of a place). Every head of the family or a single parent, wish for a certain outcome. And, Oh Yes, the wise ones know that things don’t go as expected.

Imagine a racing car on the track, no matter how well tuned or powerful it may be, without a conscientious driver behind the wheel, will not get to the finishing line. (I am aware there are now driverless vehicles in the offing, by the way).
Likewise plotted flight charts alone won’t carry aircraft passengers to their planned destination. There must be capable pilots in the cockpit whose job is to take them to their destination safely.

But how come many organizations don’t get to where they have planned, despite the best of strategies?

What makes them fail to achieve their strategic goals? I will not quote a specific figure of the failure rate here, as research findings differ widely. However a finding of the collective rates can be looked up at researchgate.net [1]

In my reckoning, there are two major reasons why strategic plans fail.

These are:

  • The bossy mindset of some CEOs, decision-makers and leaders and
  • a nonexistent system of execution or implementation to meet the set-goals.

The bigger the organization gets, the tendency that some top executives over-delegate and fail. They wait behind the big oak table, expecting the organizational structure to drive itself to its destination.
But leaders need to be more involved. Though this is not to support micro-managing.

If you send your kids to school, that is a responsible undertaking as a parent. But it is a smart thing for a wise parent to pay occasional visits to the school; to ask questions and get more information. The periodical result cards are not enough to make full and accurate judgement on the progress of that kid.

Some leaders would rather wait to react to an unfavorable outcome. Unfortunately this is a fatalistic mindset. And it is also an unprofitable way to get results, more so in our fast-changing world. And no organization is spared of failure, if it cannot institute a proper implementation system in agreement with its top executives and the rest of the workforce. It is better to be active rather than being reactive.

Having said that, then, one may ask: what then should be done to bring a strategic plan to reality?

Here are nine steps that must be instituted to achieve results in meeting strategic goals:

  1. Develop The Leadership MindsetThe CEO and the top leaders must be more engaged with their subordinates, at their respectable levels, in pushing for results. Since you cannot do it all, you must nurture and raise leaders that would work with you. Their contribution would introduce more objectivity and accuracy in decision making.
    On a scheduled basis, you would need to walk down to the “factory floor” at the units or division level. Here you feel things and listen to their opinions and comments. Here most of your job would be; asking questions. No wonder, the highly revered and successful PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi took time out to visit divisions and even engages business owners who retail their products.To be a leader whose organization desires to generate good results, the Chief Executive and the leadership can no longer be aloof in their management style.
    Many bring into leadership positions some behavioral ineptitude, ignorance and naivety. A top I.Q. or technical prowess garnered over the years may not even be enough to make achieve good results. And topnotch result isn’t a bad idea either, for shareholders and other stakeholders in the organization.There is also a need to be objective and less sentimental when dealing with people’s issues. The result oriented leaders must be emotional balanced, having behind his or her mind the results expected of the organization.
    As a leader you must make things happen. Goal oriented Executives execute. No excuses… As such, they must stay less behind the big table to get the ship of enterprise to reach its planned destination.
  2. Build The Implementation SystemYour organization will design and document a set of activities, actions and processes geared towards making the strategic plan a reality. It will be a living system since various internal and external variables won’t be static over time, even with the time frame as planned.
    All activities must be well coordinated with the allocated resources and the workforce to accomplish the strategic goals.The system of purposeful action will be replicated across the different departments and divisions of the organization. These will be the sub-systems at various units or divisions. External factors must be considered first before the internal exigencies; and both built into the implementation framework. Areas of conflict will be eliminated through continuous communication and feedback loops.The system should be able to pinpoint issues that need to be addressed urgently.
    For example; are there issues about hiring and wrong staffing?
    Will you bring in needed skills to meet new objectives?
    How does a sub-system of implementation in various units or division read the marketplace and consumer’s trends? And other factors such as technology, suppliers, and regulations; name it…

    At every leverage point within the overall operational system, the CEO and his or her top team must be able to put a finger on and understand what is going on, in a timely manner.

  3. Encourage Staff ParticipationThere is a need to institute both a formal and informal set of events to get comments from the workforce. Specially designated leaders across units, departments or division will meet on a scheduled basis to discuss the strategic plans and what must be done to achieve them.The CEO hand-picks a top team of advisers which should include specialists at the lower rung of the ladder if need be. They help the CEO and the top executives spot each other’s blind-spot so that more informed decision can be made after these joint sessions.Informal meets such as executive and staff retreats is a good idea if it has cost-benefits. Powerful ideas do come up when everybody is allowed to express himself in a relaxed atmosphere. The CEO or his top team should be at such events. The Executives are to ask good questions and be more of silent listeners. Once agreed upon, the valid ideas are put into action by the CEO and leaders at various units and divisions.
    It now becomes a collective assignment for the success of the organization.
  4. Allocate ResourcesThe staff must be supported with what they need towards the set goal. Support would come in difference shades. Where necessary additional skills will be brought from outside. Some staff may need further training or mentoring to implement new ideas. Within the workforce, resources should be allocated to develop innovative ideas for competitive edge.Consultants may be brought in to give an objective appraisal and proffer solution in many cases where time is of essence. This also helps for clarity where internal politics and doubts on feedback may slow down the CEO and the top leaders in coming to a decision.Ad-hoc arrangements or permanent alliance with technical partners in certain areas that the company lack expertise should also be effected, after due diligence. In extreme cases acquiring another firm may be the most effective decision rather than inventing the wheel in-house.
    In essence, where a specific outcome is feasible and profitable, resources must be deployed to make it a reality.
  5. Align Organizational Behavior And CultureBehavioral patterns that could stall the implementation process across board must be studied and where necessary adjusted. There must be an alignment of organizational culture that supports activities that ensure that the strategic goals are met. The inevitable internal politics must be tamed.The carrot and stick approach may be applied where necessary to induce collaboration as set targets must be met.
    At the individual and group levels, persuasion and continuous dialogue must be the tactic to be used. Change takes time but smart organization and resourceful leaders work with their people to carry them along to create a more successful business organization.Habits die hard and since human beings are not robots; but the leadership would provide the best solution to get their staff cooperation and commitment.
    No staff commitment, strategic failure is a matter of time. A good dose of continuous explanation and mutual understanding with the rank and file on the overall objective of an organization would help a great deal in execution.
  6. Manage The Workforce

    As humans, our idiosyncrasies, biases and beliefs must be taken into consideration. Since people would drive the system, then they ought to be well managed. And pruning of staff may be necessary of those unwilling or unconvinced about the new orientation. The latter with such disposition must be found out and excused from the company.Years back, I recall a new business I started which was brought down by some old staff whom I thought would pick new skills for higher pay. They scared away the efforts of my highly skilled professional I employed to head the outfit. After two days of throwing the doors open, the new manager simply put a call across to me about his departure and walked away. For other reasons I eventually closed down the outfit. Painful. It was a loss.While at this, the Human Resources Department must key-in into the implementation system. Some of their activities would need vital contributions from the top hierarchy and other relevant departments before certain decisions can be finalized. It is a very sensitive department since people are the ones that make strategic plans and goals become a reality.A good reward system must also be instituted. Those who meet set objectives are recognized and rewarded. Those who miss the mark or who seem to be amiss about what is happening, would be investigated to see how they can be helped to perform better. If they fail afterwards, they may have to be given a different task. If they can’t meet up here again, then they should be relieved of their appointment in an amicable manner.
  7. Install Good Communication System

    A thorough network of free-flow of information must be designed for the organization. It must be a well thought-out system. The organizational structure should support an efficient and effective flow of information that work in a timely manner.All tools and resources that will channel vital information between the CEO, top decision-makers and the workforce must be deployed and well managed.
    Channels that follow Up-down, across, and between the organization and outside must be well managed.
    The accuracy and authenticity of information must be verified for decision making. The nodal points of engagement along information channels must be well managed.The style of delivery of information must be amenable to all stakeholders for clear comprehension and understanding.
    Information is sacred — secondary to human beings – and as such it is very important in our lives and in business management. We must carefully engage with it. It must be clear and understood by the receiver in whatever vehicle or form it is deployed. And the purveyor must not be careless about what is broadcast.
    Either way information is channeled; from the CEOs, top executives or within the workforce, communication must be well protected with necessary tools and resources.Transparency should be entrenched to encourage a sense of belonging, conviction and commitment by employees and their unit leaders. However, in discretionary cases, some information may not be broadcast to everybody from top management.
  8. Understand The External EnvironmentNo business exists in isolation. So the implementation process should feed in from outside to achieve specific outcome. The horizon changes more rapidly than in the past years because of technology.
    Technology continuously causes so much change. In its wake, some industries have been subdued or became moribund while new ones have evolved.The externals would also include the general economy, consumers and social trends. We will also consider regulation, competition, global politics and threats and others. Various trends and players within an industry and outside of it will be monitored.Having a field tour by the CEOs and his top team across the value chain of the business would throw up some nuggets of useful ideas and unforeseen problems as well as opportunities.
    It’s good for management to have an open mind. Strategies may be forced to change, if what you planned won’t go far.

    Other top leaders should do the same as foot soldiers of the management in their own capacity. All data are fed into the implementation system which the top management and the CEO would work with.

    To achieve strategic goals, there must be a proper engagement with suppliers and other partners to make execution a reality.
    It is also a safer bet to engage in a diplomatic manner, influencers that play a major role in your industry. For big organizations, lobbying policy-makers — in an ethical manner — should be done in a timely manner as some policies may derail some strategic plans.

  9. Review Milestones and FeedbackOn a continuous basis, there must be a process to determine if milestones are being met and they must be measurable. A value should be put to specific outcome. The various sub-systems within the organization should be accorded relevant criteria of review and feedback.When all these are carried out, a larger and clearer picture can be seen; to know how specific outcomes and strategic plans have been met.
    Where success is achieved, you consolidate on that outcomes.
    When the feedback falls short of expected milestones, it is a waste of energy to bark like a General at war. Though engaging in business is a war of sorts – the Chief Executive and his or her top team will go back to review and push for the objectives to be met.

Final Thoughts

Your well-crafted strategic plan is not enough. Your shareholders and other stakeholders hunger for results. You can drive the operational process with your workforce, to bring the strategic goals to a reality.
That is what is expected of you as a leader and Chief Executive, despite the shifting business horizon. It won’t be easy. But being disciplined and focused with your carefully selected team, you can do it.
And your well instituted execution plans would bring the well-crafted strategic plans on paper to reality.
And as Warren Buffett has been quoted, a little bit of the luck could help also. And that’s being pragmatic.

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  1. *Cândido, C.J.F. and S.P. Santos (2015) Strategy implementation: What is the failure rate? Journal of Management & Organization, 21(2), 237-262. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/jmo.2014.77
    Strategy implementation: What is the failure rate? (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264004530_Strategy_implementation_What_is_the_failure_rate

For The Anxious CEO: Business Planning Tips for Any New Year

Just before a new financial year, many CEO or business owners may start becoming restless and apprehensive. You want to make effective business decisions for the New Year. You are not alone.

This is irrespective of whether your organization has posted good financials in the outgoing year or not. The bulk stops at your table for the next cycle of things. You should desire a more successful outcome of the expectant year.

I am going to take you through some basic steps you can take; to remove the cobweb of anxiety from your mind.
Of course, here, I am not talking about the “new year resolutions” yearly fad. Serious minded and realistic executives don’t have anything to do with that.
Spelling out new business goals must be close to being realizable and practical; that is what you want to achieve. And to a large extent acceptable to all stakeholders.

As a business leader or the Chief Executive Officer, you know that you must put in place an effective strategy for the coming – financial year. (January of a new year is the most popular starting month but not necessarily so for some companies.)

Yours could be a multinational or a localized business. Or you could be the owner and manager of a solo effort of an enterprise – established to serve within your community. Decision making still boils down to clear insight of leadership into the future.

One of the many things that will be coming to your mind is how to do better than in the previous year. All shareholders, your team, workforce and the board look up to you for leadership, direction and execution.

And if yours is a big company, after all the dreary crisscrossing meetings, the buck still stops at your table. And you must come up with a fresh and an effective decision plan – at the twilight period of the outgoing year.

And plans must be executed, once the new financial year starts to unfold.

So what are you thinking of now?
What are you going to do differently and better than the past?
How are you to make a further positive impact on your organizations?

These following thoughts may cross your mind:

  • You might be contemplating looking around for some “business decisions models”. The ones you can copy. Of course that won’t give you a unique solution.
  • You might also be looking around to see how other executives in your situation have done well for their corporation. But you will not be privy of the little details, as those are the secrets buried in such organizations.
  • And sadly, if you are quite egocentric you might be looking around for information for your own selfish sake but not for the improved fortunes of your organization. Here you could be daydreaming of the beaming smiles and applause you could get from your board and other stakeholders. That might become an illusion if your organization miss the mark of success ultimately.
    At this crucial time: think about your organization first! That would be the way to go.

Here I simply want you to open your mind to the power you have…residing inside of you.

You know your organization better and therefore you need to excuse your self-doubt if any. Suggestions from “guru” may not take you far. There is much more to your organization – those little nuances that you and no other person can know unless they are aware of these details.

Now, the question is: what is your mind telling you?

Agreed we must learn from others but if you suffuse yourself with so much available information out there, you will most likely be overwhelmed. In effect your strategic plans might be seriously flawed within the short time frame you have.

You simply need to be confident that you have most of the resources you need. The intellectual contribution from your smart senior executives including some junior ones can help.

Your vast experience would give you the confidence to make better business decisions yet again.

Accept that you can make things work and meet the expectations of the various stakeholders – within the organization and outside of it. And of course you must not lose focus on your shifting consumers’ needs, as the years rolled by.
You will know.
Why?
Because, being a dynamic soul and a hands-on Chief Executive; you have over the years learned the ropes. You have keenly observed both consciously – and otherwise – as you went through the ranks.
You have studied the past and gained relevant knowledge of your industry. All these varied experiences in play have coached your subconscious.

Your past failures, mistakes, ingenuity and successes are available to be tapped into. Only if you ask your inner-self.

I will admit; it is a painstaking exercise that needs a timeout; to sieve out and put things together properly. That’s what successful leaders are doing. That is the secret. There is no Superhuman CEO.

And remember your gut feeling which can override notions and researched outcomes.
Having cleared out your inner doubts, you can now proceed as follows.

Be ready to put pen to paper.

  • Before you do this; if your schedule could allow it as you prepare for another year, set aside a week or less to think through all issues in front of you.
    Paint a total picture of varied influencing factors that must be addressed and utilized so that your organization and you can make a headway.At this phase, you may jot down some points. Or leave the thoughts playing out in your mind for a while. Nothing elaborate at this time. But they must eventually be written down when you are ready to come up with your own “business decision making” template.
  • You may give a shout-out to a few but trusty subordinates or whoever you safely think will give you an input to make a few adjustments. But remember the buck stops with you as the Chief Executive Officer or Managing Director. The final decision is your responsibility.
  • When the time is right and you are ready for the first draft, these thoughts will come back in torrents. Your mind is already turgid and so you write them down. Thereafter, you will smoothen all the rough edges. It will never be perfect. But let your plan be an informed decision and timely.
  • If this exercise is applicable to you, you will call up a meeting with your team or board to explain your direction for the New Year. If you don’t have anybody to report to, you’ll take the plunge yourself.
    I can assure you, you will have ample confidence and sense of purpose displayed when you marshal your plans to your team.
  • Be mindful of the fact that there will be some advice from some board members. They could disagree on some issues but do take such into consideration. You may learn from them. And some inputs may not be useful since a few would speak, based on the spur of the moment.You will have to convince them otherwise as you had ample time to think through these issues prior to the meeting.

    I advise you to envisage many of such objections or additions when preparing your template.
    Give room for the rabble-rousers. You may not ignore them all the time. Their contributions may be providential. Note their suggestions; but verify their submissions.

  • Be on your guard not to disregard everything in your earlier well thought-out plan while hearing out submissions from your team or board. Realize all business decisions are risks including these external suggestions.So after the meeting, the buck stops at your table. Follow your notions and instinct and execute your adjusted decision making template. Then you are good to go for the New Year or the new financial period of your company, as the case may be.
  • Muster a heavy dose of courage and fine-tune your plans when necessary during the implementation phase. There is nothing to be ashamed about in adjusting your template in due course of the year. Circumstances do crop up beyond any man’s wildest imagination.However this is not to make you become too rigid or egocentric.

    A smart Chief Executive should ascribe a feeling to himself or herself that he or she does not know it all. But be equally firm about your vision while still being a team player.
    There will be situations where you can never see the back of your head. Someone will need to help you out, at these times.

  • Above all, let your decision making have a room for Plan B.

A contingency of sorts to minimize risks.
This aspect might not be too detailed. The truth is; it is mentally exhaustive enough to come up with an original well thought-out plan, yet to be bothered about a second option.

But try to give a thought to what might not work. And put up contingency plans to ameliorate this IF they do occur. That would readily eliminate the apprehension and procrastination in your mind to act on your first template of decisions for the New Year.

Finally

Eliminate your fears and doubts. Take solace in that; no decision making is ever perfect. Modifications will still be made during months of execution.

Determine your expectations. Give cognizance to the usual, namely: resources, challenges and opportunities within and outside your organization. You will be looking out for all the attributes of the local, national and global factors as they affect your manpower, your company and your industry.

Highlight your objectives and goals. Determine the time frame you must finish with your robust plan. After all the turkeys, chickens and sumptuous end-of-the-year dishes, you must find a place to carry out this meditative planning.

Put flesh to your highlights within a day or two after writing them out. Determine the date when you must finish it. Then you can come back and write and adjust the final thoughts you have penciled down.

All the past resources you have read; books, experts and successful business leaders, the multiple opinions at board and staff meetings would have worked on your thoughts to complete your action plan.

Having done that. You now have your own unique but effective business decision template for the New Year.
Mistakes would be made: successes would also be recorded.

Go for it…

Happy Deliberation.

Happy New Financial Year!

 

Rise Above Self

Today, I may be going a little poetic and thoughtful too.

Here are few words I want to share with you.

“The world of business is tough but we can conquer…

In the beginning it was ONLY YOU that came.

After all said and DONE, it will still be ONLY YOU that departs.

Don’t envy the successful ones, even in business.

That’s a big ERROR of misplaced energy.

The secret?

Just change your MINDSET.

To believe ONLY YOU can be what you want to be.
That sets you free.

I promise you.

Easy? No!

Possible? Yes!!
A fire is ignited inside of ONLY YOU.

Stoked by this renewed MINDSET that will seduce ONLY YOU to be what you want to be.

Don’t envy the successful ones.
ONLY YOU dont have the time.

The world awaits your little contribution.

Rise above yourself now!


Marking the 1st anniversary of my books, published on Amazon.

For a limited time…Click here for a FREE download on Gumroad of one of them:

“The Small Business Starters Guide…”

Your Employees, Your Business and You!

Jobs should not be personalized around a team member. That is a recipe for failure in performance. The duty or job description should come first and the right staff should be matched accordingly.

For a young small-business you can employ a basic entry-level staff that you can train, to imbibe your organizational culture.

If it is feasible in your industry – delay employing overqualified personnel since they are already used you to a different work culture, possibly coming from a bigger establishment than yours. And they are equally set in their ways.
Bring such caliber of staff in, only when very necessary. (You will know as your industry and your goals would dictate)

Do not be in a hurry to hire but don’t waste time either to let a disgruntled or uncooperative staff go — after due diligence. (Many years back, a new venture of mine collapsed before my eyes because of sentiments I had for my two old staff who should have been asked to go) If you have to fire: follow your labour laws and prior agreement.

If your business gets sick and dies, nearly all the employees fraternizing and praising you as a nice boss would leave.
It happened to me more than once.

You will feel betrayed, lonely and suddenly naked!

Even if the business is doing well, any of your staff could still leave based on their own best of judgement. It is simply about self-preservation at play – a free world.
(The two above left on their own accord when they realized the ship had capsized.I Couldn’t stop them…)

So don’t get too sentimental, take care of your business too.
Of course being courteous to your staff is a humane thing to do. It is also expected that such gesture would translate to a high morale, with positive results for the business and good customer experience.

It is a delicate balancing act, managing human resources in any enterprise. There are theories and tools for guidance but there is also a place for a matured and emotionally balanced leadership.

It is not easy. It comes with well-honed social experience, critical observation and intuition.

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The Quest for Leadership Skills: How to Truly Become a Leader

Who is a true leader?

Sometime ago, I recall watching a group of young kids – of about 3 years of age – at a children’s birthday party. Complete strangers most of them were to each other. They were dancing and enjoying themselves. Their parents and other adults were equally chatting away and enjoying the ambience of the party.
From the corner of my eye, I noticed a particular kid who had quietly lured a few other children to an outside circle. He was showing these other captured-peers some things of interest as they all giggled away.
Suddenly, there was a loud shriek from this group. This got the attention of some parents who simply beckoned on them to join the main dancing crowd.

The question I asked myself was; how did this very tot of a “team leader” lure some of his peers away from the main gathering?
That was simply a natural instinct of persuasion and leadership. It was obvious!
I believe teachers can attest to this wonderful nature of human beings — as such evolving influencers are not coached in that sense.
And now the question would be; could this attribute be sustained or become extinguished as the child grows into adulthood? Can such leadership traits be imposed on just any unwilling individual?

Now, let us pause for a while to do this simple exercise:
Think of those people who have shown traits of impactful leadership, today and in the past. Whether they are regarded as being famous or infamous.
How many of them do you think had formal leadership courses imposed on them?

What would true leadership be about?
Either in business; as the head of a team or an organization, leadership is different from managerial competence or technical capabilities of an individual. These aforementioned are not interchangeable with the leadership role, as an attribute or skill if you would call it.

However, a real leader could have the managerial and technical skills within his or her area of discipline. Let’s be clear again. An individual with proficiencies in technical or management may not necessarily be a good leader.

Who is a True Leader?

Having the leadership trait is different from having managerial or technical skills. They are not interchangeable.
In my own reckoning, a leader is an individual who has the ability to carry others along to achieve a goal as expedient.
He or she becomes a rallying point by other people. Most natural leaders at onset are not aware of this noble character. But something always make them to put a foot forward, even at the risk of unpredictable outcomes, unknowingly.

Leadership Development Courses Don’t Work

Leadership is a natural instinct. It could also be embraced and nurtured by an individual if he or she desires it. Then one wonders why organizations impose leadership training courses on individuals who are not psychologically ready for it.
It has been a huge waste of resources by many organizations using this approach across the world. Such should actually be referred to as management or technical development courses.
Nobody can be coaxed or mandated through a classroom setting to become a leader. These programs are simply playing out a game of insincerity.
Most ill-motivated “leadership” course attendees soon forget what to do when they are expected to lead at crucial crossroads. Most of these participants easily shrug off such imposed knowledge like a duck coming out of water. Over time, they gravitate to their natural “followership” instinct. Yet it is not the fault of these attendees.
Those who score the highest points after such leadership programs might just be pretenders, ultimately. When big issues come up, there won’t be the time to go after the notebooks in order to take seamless actions. However, real leaders get into a responsibility mode – ready for whatever the outcomes of their actions.

Leadership and Public Perception

The public have different shades of opinion about the leadership role of a group or an organization. Members within such entities even have their own general perception of their leaders too.
Yet leadership is a role that must be taken up by an individual or a small group of decision makers. We have famous and infamous leaders. In the same vein, we also have good and bad leaders

Likewise, what a group stands for may be acceptable or not acceptable by the larger society. Therefore, we have good and bad groups. Also, we have good and bad organizations.

Another potpourri is having good leaders in good or bad organizations. Bad leaders in good or bad organizations. All as perceived outside of the leadership itself. The perception may be justifiable or not over time.

How to Find True Leaders?

Within the labyrinth of business conglomerates or amongst peers in basic human groups, persons imbued with the natural tendency of leadership may be found.
Some can readily be identified. Others may have to be found through painstaking and deliberate attempt.

As dormant assets, they could be on the shop floor and up to the board level. And the search shouldn’t be left only to the Human Resources Department whose headship might lack the leadership qualities

However a note of warning.
Not all individuals who are pushy could readily be assumed to have leadership qualities. Of course they could be. Allowance should be given to those who may not be the outspoken type or are introverts.

Beyond those with this innate attribute from childhood, there are also those whose diverse experience in life has jolted them into developing the traits of leadership.
Therefore the Human Resources unit should delve into present and past experiences of the relevant workforce, in addition to their technical competence.

This can be done during the hiring phase or after months or years of service. But this has to be done in a respectful manner, irrespective of the position of such individuals, at any unit or department, if accurate results are desired.

This exercise must be discreet as it may not be the final criterion for selection. An additional but more important requirement as deemed by the management must be carried out for objectivity. Some of these individuals may have a more rewarding world view to the organization than their peers or superiors.

The challenge is for organizations and their owners not to surrender this quest entirely into the hands of the Human Resources personnel.
Why is this so? Because born leaders naturally can identify another leader or those with potential for greatness.
So the questions are:

  • Are the heads of your HR department effective leaders?
  • Can they identify true leaders but not subject to their own limitations?
  • Have they really measured the ultimate return on investment of past trainings – even if they still consider these executive leadership development programs?
  • While we applaud some HR instruments and more; have they looked inwards and outside the company for gifted leaders who would be amenable to the organizational objectives?

Since it a delicate issue to identify and come up with good leaders, I will repeat that the board of an organization must continue to prod the Human Resources department to make objective selections.

In our private lives, most rational human beings can easily identify people with good leadership qualities. This same approach could be extended to formal groups or organization we belong to. Of course there would be additional forms of assessments. We must also be mindful of any prejudices or bias to allow for an objective assessment and outcome.

  • Within the organizational structure, peers, colleagues or employees would naturally have an impression about others. If given the chance, they can secretly ascribe to who could lead them within their unit, department or division.
  • Colleagues would anonymously score every other person within a particular unit, departmental or division in question. The management further appraises who they come up with. Such persons with the highest aggregate score should lead his or her team on the condition that he is interested.
  • For higher posts – up the rung of an organization’s ladder, where decision making is more risky and more delicate to any entity – extra care should be taken in assigning this role. And as mentioned above, you must confirm their acceptance and readiness for the new role.

It is expected that the chosen candidates on their own accord, would seek further self-improvement for improved performance.
As can be seen, you don’t persuade real leaders on what to do, to improve on their leadership skills. On their own volition, they find ways so that they can lead well.

Good to say, that decision makers in organizations have the power to encourage such identified individuals – to be tested and tried – who show these leadership tendencies. Those penciled down would have to work in accordance within the culture of the organization.

But we should be mindful that new leaders can be revolutionary in their leanings and thoughts.
Therefore, there might be some conflicts of interest, though for the common good. They could change the culture and tradition of their unit, department or the larger entity.
Some could be overbearing once given this authority. It should be expected. However a safety machinery must be instituted to tame them from this frailty of human weakness.

Leadership Qualities and Characteristics

There are expected ways to describe the personalities or behavior of a true leader. These traits can be seen at various situations and circumstances. It is should be noted that unique leadership traits can only be exhibited where the situation is amenable to the personality of the individual. He or she may not be a success in all situations and circumstances. But they are smart enough to know their limitations.

These are some traits expected of a matured leader:

  • They think about the common good of the unit, group or entity.
  • Many would rather be diplomatic in getting across their strong convictions in other to meet set-group objectives.
  • Natural leaders think about others’ welfare before self.
  • They would not normally ascribe the leadership nomenclature to themselves.
  • They are no fools: if their strong convictions are not accepted by others, they will move on, but are ready to bear the consequences of consensus of the action of the group. But not always.
  • They could be authoritative if they see what others are not seeing.
  • They are naturally servile within a group. This is a paradox of sorts. If need be, it creates better understanding of their team rather than keeping a distance. Some people will erroneously think they are being patronizing in this sense.
  • They are visionary in their thinking and implementation – almost being regarded as a sage. Accorded a cult following in some situations, even though it is not due to their own making.
  • They are perennial students who hunger after knowledge and also with an eye for detailed information. They will go after all these no matter the social class of the provider or the source of knowledge.
  • They yearn for improved project and regularly carry out self-critique for improved personal performance,
  • They can easily identify other potential leaders in order to mentor them.
  • They are courageous and can be very discretionary in not divulging sensitive information even after leaving for other organizations.
  • In their interactions with different people, respect and trust are sacrosanct to them.
  • Dignity, self-confidence with modest self-esteem and a quiet grace they do exhibit. But they know when to stamp their foot on the ground, if and when necessary.
  • Calculated patience and good listening ear, they have developed. They are calculative in their talking – done only when it very necessary. And that is real politicking.
  • They love to study other human beings, beyond the obvious. For successful leaders, this is their past time. They are aware people make them a subject of discreet study too. Therefore they never take anything for granted. Some of them can be regarded as being boring at times.
  • They accept their shortcomings and don’t see themselves as superhuman.
  • To show good examples, many are of good behavior in the public, but painfully so, privately nurse and manage their own short-comings. Some sacrifice by bearing the pains of conflicting personalities, once they accept their role of service.
  • They are ready to accept their faults but you can be sure, they will not rest until they discover reasons behind their failure. The hunger for perfection and performance is second nature to them.
  • Some of them don’t have the patience for sloppy behavior around them. They would want smarter people to be around them to give good advice at difficult moments. This refreshes and lift them up when they need to bounce around crucial ideas.
  • Matured leaders keep up taming their emotions rather than acting in a knee-jerk manner, in their reactions to challenging situations around.
  • Experienced leaders are not rigid, therefore they know what leadership style must be deployed at the appropriate time.
  • They are decisive, at where and when it matters.
  • They are innovative, therefore they are always brainstorming. They could be lonely or enjoy their solitary times when they must make important decisions on behalf of others.
  • And more…

The Truth About Leadership Styles

We all exhibit different inherent behavioral patterns. Even between identical twins, we can observe subtle or marked differences. So it seems when we study the outward behavior of leaders when they interact with people. These styles are equally brought about by other circumstances, some beyond their control.

Therefore as we identify the common leadership styles, allowance must be given to variations. As humans we are daily affected by varied issues. The inner devil or joyous emotions may affect a leader at one time or the other. Leaders struggle with these stimuli or master them to be effective in their actions.

  • A matured leader would decide when to be easy-going or authoritative as the situation demands. In other situations he will genuinely act or feign an attitude in-between these two extreme styles. Therein lies the challenge of leading others, managing one’s emotion and solving the problem at hand for the group or entity.
  • Effective leaders know what shade of behavior to pull from his or her bag of tricks. He will find a way out, as best natural for him, by instinct and experience to lead. Whatever the outcome, he is ready to accept the success or failure.

How to Truly Become a Real Leader?

As you desire further self-development, you can only belong to one of these three categories:

  • You are a born leader – by your actions – having been told repeatedly by others. You may have that inkling yourself, but not so sure. Now, you know.
  • You have the seed of leadership inside of you but have never been given the opportunity. But you are waiting to prove yourself. Meanwhile, you want to improve on your capacity to lead.
  • Unexpectedly, some issues have come up in your life where you must don the toga of leadership. The one who bells the cat, while others are still procrastinating or don’t know what is going on…

Now, these are steps you should take:

  • You must research and identify – both in the past and present – those successful and pragmatic leaders. This is done through books, the internet and other different media. Or walking up to these would-be mentors.
    They may be within your circle of influence – around you – and in other climes. They don’t have to be stupendously rich and famous. Study their achievements in your industry and in other areas of human endeavor.
    See how they met and have been meeting set goals. Study how they engage and manage to get the general support of their group members, entity and people.
  • Study their thought patterns, personalities and why they took certain actions at different situations. I am not advocating you imitate them all the way. But sieve out the fundamentals. Read between the lines. Understand what is being said rather than hearing. Make your deductions and use the nuggets in your decision making.
  • Schedule mentoring sessions with them and if it is convenient for them, arrange a face-to-face physical visit or virtual interaction through any of the applicable technology.
  • Be aware it might be easy to strike a tutelage relationship. Don’t be discouraged if others are not immediately forthcoming. You must not be shy. Don’t give up. Communicate with them any information they would hunger for. That could initiate a rapport.Once you start the relationship going, you will be surprised how genuinely they want to share their thoughts, to build other people. Most won’t go out of their way unless asked for advice.
    You can go after them. It could be your elusive Group Managing Director, the CEO or that performing Supervisor. You don’t ask, you don’t receive.Of course a few will just want to be left alone. That is normal.
    The older these leadership mentors are, the better. This is not absolute anyway, as there are some younger people who are blessed with good leadership skills too.

With time, during your regular reflections, you will be able to identify a common thread noticed amongst these people. And those revelations would sink deep into you. What you have garnered would give you the confidence and the wherewithal to lead in your profession, business or in other human entities.

Summary

Those endowed with real leadership qualities will eventually be told about their uniqueness. And for those who lack leadership qualities but genuinely desire to become true leaders, once they are aware of what it entails, there are ways to go about it.
But they must rule out attending leadership development programs or courses! Real leaders come to be, on their own volition or by natural behavior in leading others to serve.

You don’t compel people to accept a leadership role if such persons are not psychologically ready. It is either you are naturally born with the seed of leadership or inclined to become one, mindful of its huge responsibilities.
For the latter, I am not talking about leading, for the sake of it; or for self-praise. If you do, with time, the world would soon demote you of your pretence.
Outlined above are a few traits which you must consider…

Let me hear your thoughts below if I missed out anything…

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