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Articles tagged with: Business Acumen

Developing Business Acumen – Ready – Aim – Fire

Business Acumen – The words reverberate with the precise confidence of success. This manager seems to have a business compass to hone in on the directional decisions that are right for the organization.

Acumen, conveys a confidence and knowledge for efficient and effective business. Although these words convey a natural ability, the truth is that business acumen is more a verb in practice than a noun. You need to develop acumen as an active search for business skills and to applying that knowledge over time. Great concept…but now you’re thinking what does that mean to me in my career?

Business acumen is about focus so let’s think about a Ready – Aim – Fire approach for your success.

MSBCoach is committed to partnering with leaders and teams to identify their True North.  One's true north includes living into your values, identifying what it means to you to be your authentic self, and practicing emotional intelligence.  Leadership, executive, and team coaching are effective ways to help leaders and their teams put these principles into practice.  We also offer engaging workshops in being an authentic leader, emotional intelligence, identifying your values, and many others.  You can check out our coaching processes and our list of workshops here.


Be the Sought-After Expert

Several years ago, as part of a large organization, I was challenged along with a peer to create a leadership program for a particular group of upper-level executives. Exciting as the opportunity was we were overwhelmed because we had little direction or suggestions from our sponsoring senior executive. After much brainstorming (and complaining to each other), we decided that we needed to pursue some expert advice. One of those experts was a speaker/author who had been part of another event that we had supported. John was a favorite throughout the organization because he was a passionate speaker, could deeply connect with his audience, and was a “wealth of information”. John is/was not a “hoarder” of his expertise. By that I mean, while he was paid for his expertise, you felt like he was consistently going beyond the expected agreement. And for John, the contract never ended. You could email or call him long after any contracted event and he would respond promptly with as much information he had on any topic. He shared all his expertise and would point you to other experts.

Recently, I was coaching an entrepreneur who was struggling with getting and keeping customers. The entrepreneur asked me this question, “How can I get people to automatically think of me when they are seeking my kind of expertise?” The million dollar question, right? I sent the entrepreneur off to think about that question and added this question, “Why should anyone think of you first?” Of course, I was thinking about those two questions as well. That’s how John popped into my head. When I needed an expert, he was the first one to come to mind. So why was he “top of mind” and how did he get there? Here is how I answered the two questions with John as my model.

Why should someone think of you?

  • Your expertise is clear and concise. You and your potential customer know exactly what you bring to the table.
  • You deliver beyond what is expected. Yes, you give what you’re contracted to do and you always bring “extra”.
  • Working with you is easy and pleasant. Being good at what you do is not enough. People actually need to like you.
  • You are not only an expert, you are a great “thought partner”. It’s about the customer’s success and how they define it.
  • You’re accessible and available. Customers will not hunt nor wait for you.

How can you get to “top of mind”?

  • Have a clearly, detailed, specific vision of what you do and who you are. Potential customers want to know what you specifically can deliver. As simple as this may sound, many “experts” cannot articulate what they bring to the stated need. You and your team must be able to clearly state the vision/mission of your organization. If there is not a well-defined vision, then confusion, conflict, and indecision will rule.
  • “Lagniappe” is a term that is used in my home state of Louisiana. It means to give/deliver a little extra. Always surprise your customers with a little extra. One of the things that John did was to give free resources or notebooks. He wouldn’t rush away after the workshops or speeches – he would stay to listen or answer questions. Weeks later, he would send you a note about a topic that you and he discussed.
  • No one wants to work with a prima donna. I have chosen not to work with specific experts because of their inflexibility and “superior” attitudes. Being a difficult vendor will hurt you more than you can imagine. Check with you current customers and team on ways to improve your reputation.
  • Take pride in your desire to customize your delivery/material/product for each customer. John was an excellent thought-partner in developing what he would deliver. He always wanted to know our intended outcomes and would brainstorms ways to get there. He studied our organization. Do not become known for “off the shelf” or “this is good enough” delivery. I am not suggesting that you re-invent yourself for every customer but rather connect with that customer where their need exists. Listen more than you tell. Every organization/team has its own unique culture and you need to identify it and be able to relate to it.
  • Be easy to find and very responsive. Make sure your contact information and website is current and relative. This may seem a like a “no brainer” but it’s amazing how many irrelevant and outdated sites and poor contact information I have encountered. Respond immediately (in less than 24hrs). John always had an automatic response that stated he’s reception of our message and the time he would respond which was never more than 24hrs. He or his assistant returned our calls promptly. He was always pro-active. He kept us updated. I never had to pursue him for information.
  • Always seek feedback from your customers. John would seek feedback as soon as he delivered and then a few weeks later. He said he did it this way so he could collect what was “fresh” on the customers mind and then later after the implementation or execution of the plan to see that the intended outcomes were achieved.
  • Remember – the contract never ends. Continually check with your customer. Send resources. Be willing to be a thought-partner if something goes awry with the plans. John was never intrusive or a “pest”. He would send short notes with a resource or an article. He didn’t ask for more work….he would say, “I’m a resource – use me.”

I am sure that John “gave away” a lot of his expertise. I know he did for me. I also know that John’s company has grown from a man of one to many. And he is still one of the most sought after experts in his field. I challenge you to work on becoming “top of mind” in your area of expertise. And if you need help, use me, I am good resource!

Dr.Seuss Strategy

For strategy, Dr. Seuss said it best…. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose...”

When I first started working in strategic planning, this became my favorite quote. Meetings were a sea of vague but lofty strategic terms. Discussions focused on visionaries who could see and define a future the rest of us could not. I cringed at critical assessments such as “she can’t think strategically” or “he doesn’t have vision”. I was frustrated by the conflict between this elite view of strategy and my values that each individual has insights to contribute to future planning. I see this collaboration as the very essence of a leadership planning model.

My work is energized by a much simpler and more basic view of what is important for effective strategy…an engaged team that understands and contributes to a common future vision. In one of my favorite books, Being Strategic, Erica Anderson has a quote “Being strategic means consistently making those core directional choices that will best move you toward your hoped-for future”. This simple definition in a complex world of business, knits operations and strategy into cohesive future direction. If you can create actionable strategy that your whole team understands, you create communication to power your organization.

So how do you actually build effective strategy? Like any team effort, diverse thinking builds a better product. Committing the time and effort for the process is critical and well worth the investment. Invest your time for strategy in the following ways

  1. Solicit input from a broad group of constituents – include time for surveys, brainstorming, and research to fuel creative thinking.
  2. Revisit and refine your Mission – The mission statement can provide a bright light for your planning, so take the time to work with it.
  3. Actively listen to your clients – Remember why you exist and who you are serving. Don’t rely on dated input and information. Bring in new opinions.
  4. Define 3-5 high level goals, themes, or objectives for dynamic progress – Be sure to take the time to synthesize to this manageable number. This focus is critical for action.
  5. Define process checkpoints to discuss and measure progress. A great strategic plan that is left on the shelf is meaningless. Inclusive strategy needs to be reviewed regularly to stay on course.

The business world of today is powered by diverse teams. Success is driven by passion, commitment, and a plan. Strategy is the plan to energize and empower the people in your organization “in any direction you choose”. Hats off to Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel for saying it best. Use your strategy to “steer you in any direction you choose”.

6 Strategies to Avoid Estimation Errors on Your Next Project

There are those of us that are really good at estimating how long a particular project will take, or how much effort can be reasonably expended in a period of time. And then there’s the rest of us.

Whether it is through sheer hope or lack of experience, we often underestimate the amount of time and energy it ALWAYS takes to complete a project and overestimate the number of things we can add to our plates.

While this can be painful at best if the project only affects you, when it affects your team, or the organization as a whole, estimation of time and effort really become critical to the success of the project, team morale and completion of strategic objectives.

Here are six strategies to consider for those of you that may share frustrations in estimating:

  1. How clearly defined is the scope of the project? Do you know EXACTLY WHAT needs to be accomplished, and EXACTLY HOW it will be accomplished? If not, allow time for investigation, planning and re-planning- especially if this is uncharted territory.
  2. Ask your experts. Typically – those actually doing the work are better suited to advise you on the time and effort you’ll need to complete the task – or even just define the scope of the task. Be advised and then, as the leader – be sure to take into consideration if this person has been a good judge in the past, what other tasks may also be coming up, give room for other variables and then adjust the schedule and your expectations accordingly.
  3. Be mindful that many people on your team may want to naturally try to accommodate your wishes. Be sure to ask probing questions about their portion of the project, what is required and what other expectations are on them. This will save you down the road when they are floundering because they have agreed to do too much. Also be sure to check in with them frequently to encourage open communication so that you can adjust the schedule and expectations as necessary.
  4. Be mindful of your own desire to accommodate an unrealistic schedule. It’s no secret that leaders are under pressure to perform and to get the project done quickly and under budget. As you collect scheduling information from your team – ideally your experts – be sure to examine your motives if you think that the project could or should be done faster or cheaper. Holding strong to a realistic goal allows you to under-promise and (potentially) over-deliver – a much better position than over-promising and under-delivering!
  5. Expect that nothing will go as planned. Help your team to realize that when they are estimating, they should plan for technical glitches, changes in scope or priority. These are all natural occurrences in a project of any sized organization. Change is a constant – but if you’re expecting it, you can help your team to adjust that much more quickly.
  6. When in doubt – give the schedule a little cushion. Your percentage of increase will vary depending on your experience and that of your team, but as long as the goals of the project can withstand it, add a little more time on top just in case. You’ll be surprised how often you need it!

Once you are relatively certain of a good estimation, a project leader needs to be a champion, cheerleader and barrier remover once the work is underway. Delivering a project on time and on target is a very gratifying feeling – and working toward that is important for your team and the organization as a whole. However, if the path and the itinerary are not clear from the get go- or the expected arrival date is unreasonable or just plain wrong– no one will enjoy the trip! Frustrations will mount both on your part and that of your team and targets will be missed. Developing your skill in estimating a project scope and schedule to enable your team’s success will result in far more satisfaction on everyone’s part! 

Strategy to Succeed: a practical guide to being a strategic leader


A leader without a plan or a plan without a leader simply won’t succeed. Great leaders match their passion for a future vision with the confidence and credibility that comes from strategic planning, in order to achieve that vision. To be successful in the long-term, your organization must have quality leadership and actionable strategy. So how do you help your organization define and manage an effective strategy? In this whitepaper, Barbara Higgins will provide you with practical ways to assess your organization, enhance your approach, and energize your role.


Strategy to Succeed

Family Road Trip Wisdom:

August is the summer tradition for road trip vacations in my family…a tribute to the final days of summer before back-to-school and changing to the more structured tempo of fall.  As we pile into the car with more duffle bags, suitcases, and boogie boards than clowns in a Volkswagen Bug, the circus begins.  As with most family adventures, you learn over time the different preparation styles that each person has to be ready to leave.  The “late packer,” the “early packer,” the “everything has to be done before we leave,” the “GPS” versus the “map reader,” each has a different checklist.

Leadership and planning with a group takes similar styles and can benefit from similar preparations to bring the group together in a happy travel plan.  Consider the following five approaches to start on a planning journey that can be fun.

  1. Pick a destination that everyone is excited about – This is the essence of strategy and planning.  If everyone is excited about where you are going, the rest of the details will be much easier to sort out.
  2. Plan your route – There is nothing worse than getting lost at the start!  Annual planning is just that simple.  There is no GPS for business so you have to manually take the time to write down the steps and check your progress.
  3. Set some ground rules – Setting expectations for the process and how the group will operate helps your different planning styles to work together.  Have enough flex in the timeline to accommodate the “late packer” with an extra reminder.
  4. If you get lost, learn something new – Getting lost can either have tempers flaring or provide an opportunity to have some fun.  Similarly, if your goals are going in a different direction or if there is a hurdle you didn’t anticipate, this challenge can be an opportunity.  Remember how many failures ultimately become big successes.  Taking the time to learn a new lesson is a great opportunity.
  5. Pack snacks – In the car, small snacks can be a lifesaver by satisfying an appetite that is off schedule.  In strategy and planning having some progress points can encourage small victories along the way.  In short, it keeps your momentum moving forward.

As you consider your transition to the fall, the timing is great for revisiting your strategic road trip. Take the time for a fall planning retreat.  Thinking about your goals as a team and refresh your plan.  This can make a big difference for your leadership travels.

Consider the experienced resources of MSBCoach to help facilitate your fall planning with the content, coaching, and dynamic tools to generate a great discussion. 

Off Target with your 2014 Goals?

It’s hard believe we are past the half-year mark for 2014.  Have you pulled out your goals and reviewed your progress?  How are you doing?   If you are in the majority, you probably are not doing so well.  Why? There may be a few reasons:

  • Setting goals has become just an empty ritual. We take last year’s goal and “tweak” it.  Often there is not much thought put into creating the goal and not much thought given to it afterwards.
  • No one is really checking in, holding you or others accountable.
  • There are too many barriers – not enough resources.
  • Priorities are constantly changing.

As leaders, if we do not make reaching goals a priority, no one will. Setting and achieving goals needs to be part of regular conversations and expectations. Want some help to get things moving again? Let’s start by analyzing the goals that were set many months ago. 1.  Are these real goals?  Apply the SMART formula to them:

  • Are they specific? Significant? Stretching? Focused?
  • Does each of them have a specific metric that you have applied?  How far off the mark are you?  This shouldn’t be a guessing game.
  • Are the goals attainable?  Goals must stretch us and they need to be attainable. Were you over-reaching? If not, who is responsible for the lack of achievement? Have you been holding yourself and others accountable?
  • Are the goals realistic? Relevant?  Do they align with the mission and vision? Does everyone consider them real goals?
  • What are the time constraints?  Have deadlines been set?  Were there milestones established and published?  Have you and others met all the deadlines?  Why not?  What got in your way?

2.  Once you have completed the SMART formula, consider these questions:

  • Do you have the right goals for the mission and vision of your organization?  Are there more important specific goals that need to be introduced?
  • Which of the goals are truly attainable and relevant?   Which goals must be reached?
  •  Are your metrics appropriate?  Are you tracking the right things?  Are others tracking progress?
  • What barriers need to be removed?

3.  Pick the top 3-4 “must reach” goals. Schedule time with your team and stress the importance of this “2014 Goals Check-In” meeting. Send out an agenda days in advance. The agenda should include:

  • Vision and Mission discussion.  (Note: the vision and mission answers “Why we do we what we do.”)
  • 2014 Goals – Where are we? What do we need celebrate? What do we need to talk about?
  • Focus for the remainder of 2014. New goals, more focused goals.
  • Setting the plan
    • The SMART formula is applied to every goal
    • Barriers are identified and a strategy is created to deal with the barriers
    • Bi-weekly check-ins are scheduled to discuss each goal and progress (no exceptions)
    • Celebrate each milestone achieved
    • Reward appropriately

You still have time to achieve the “must-have” goals. Stick to your plan. Hold yourself and others accountable.  Be sure to celebrate along the way.  The reward of hitting your target will be long lasting and gratifying! Also, as you look to 2015 in your Fall Planning activities, MSBCoach would be happy to help facilitate meaningful and productive planning and team building sessions.  Contact us at to discuss a customized approach for your organization.

Could You Be a Strategy Storyteller?

Have you ever listened to a true storyteller? My dad was a gifted storyteller. Each night, he would weave a story for my sister and I, and we were transported to a world of the imagination. Vibrant characters would embark on all sorts of exciting challenges and adventures. These stories created a wonderful fabric of memories for my childhood.

I think of strategy as an engaging story about an organization. A strategy story can draw you into the passion and purpose of why that organization exists and what they hope to accomplish. Like a gifted storyteller, a strategic leader can bring you quickly to care about the mission and interest you in the pathway to the future. Navigating interesting business challenges and opportunities can craft an interesting plot that has you rooting for mission success. Like a gifted storyteller, leaders in great organizations can consistently recount their strategy story about who they are, how they serve their customers, and where the organization is headed in the future.

Shouldn’t you be able to tell your organization’s strategic story? To do it well, you need to develop an attention-grabbing script. Whether it is an employee, vendor, client or even a neighbor, the story you tell can engage the listener and generate interest in supporting future success.

So how do you weave your story of strategy? It takes effort to internalize the important messages of strategy. You need to own the story. Consider the following three parts to compose your strategy story:

  1. What is the most inspiring purpose for your organization? A good mission statement should serve as your guide. Start with the mission statement and put it in your own words. Be brief. As Peter Drucker said, a good mission statement should fit on a t-shirt. Don’t be afraid to believe in the product or service you provide. Be sure it is a “we” statement not a “they” statement.
  2. What role does your character play in the strategy story? Consider your contribution to the organization. Define why you enjoy your role and how you ensure a quality product or service. Think about a great day at work and what you love about your job. Own your story and how you bring unique value to your role. Be proud of your contribution, and this can inspire others to contribute their best efforts.
  3. What do your colleagues contribute to future success? Each person in an organization should connect to future success. It is a great feeling to be a part of a broader purpose and the success of a team. The more you engage others in your strategy story, the more they contribute. Consider each role and how that role contributes to the product or service. Remember to provide feedback and appreciation to encourage participation.

Like a great story, strategy is about the journey to succeed and you get out of it what you put in. You can be a part of creating a wonderful journey of opportunity and success for your organization. I will never forget the amazing characters in my dad’s stories. My wish for you is to invest your career in organizations where you are truly a part of the strategy story.

For further information about connecting strategy and leadership, consider watching the MSBCoach Webinar: Connecting Leadership and Strategy: Sparking Energy for Success

Strategic Transformation: The HOW Matters!

Thanks for joining us again for the third post for the Strategic Transformation Series. In the first two entries we talked about The Strategy and Engagement Connection & To Plan or To Transform? We look forward to your comments and questions as we dive into how strategic planning can not only enhance your company’s bottom line, but the engagement of your employees as well.

True transformation comes down to Intent. If our intention is to truly transform our organization through strategic planning, then that significant intention will require significant action.

Create a Strong Foundation If your last strategic plan is collecting dust on the shelf, let me ask you a few questions:

  1. How organized was the pre-planning? Did you identify stakeholders, decision makers, timelines and milestones?
  2. Was the rest of the organization well informed of this plan? Did you continue to communicate transparently and frequently?
  3. Were the right people involved? Did you have enough diversity of experience, subject matter expertise and perspectives to create a full picture?
  4. What historical information was gathered and provided to the team? Did they know what worked and didn’t work in the past?
  5. Were the leaders of your organization in the right frame of mind and open to thinking big about the possibilities for the future?
  6. Was the team prepared to communicate effectively and deal appropriately with conflict? Was there a designated facilitator?

By answering YES to these questions, we show our intent to create strong foundation for success by HOW we prepare. Important work and we haven’t even started the planning! This important phase of creating cultural preparedness for your organization will help you create that all important buy-in from your teams that you need to have the transformation you desire.

Define the Future

Once you’ve created the foundation, it’s time to get to the business of planning. Here are some things to consider as you create the high level strategy that we are all familiar with.

  1. Is your mission and vision clear? Does everyone have the same understanding and clarity that you need to move forward?
  2. When’s the last time you took inventory of everything that your organization does? You might be surprised how many “I didn’t know we did that…” comments you hear around the room.
  3. Are they the right activities? What would you like to be doing? How would you enhance those activities? What would it take to get there?

Strategy, at its heart, is about great communication. Remember – this intent is that this strategy be something everyone in your organization understands and lives by. Be mindful of the strong foundation and work to develop the goals and objectives collaboratively and interactively through a series of facilitated sessions that draw upon all stakeholders’ input and perspectives.

As you write the plan, keep the messaging clear, concise and actionable. Less is more. Consider a strategy map to help as a communication tool that can help to internalize this strategy in your culture.

The Plan to Get There

The typical next step is to issue the plan to the entire organization and instruct that they cascade the high-level goals and objectives into their operational divisions. We might even instruct that performance goals be tied to this strategy.

This all sounds good, in theory. However, Implementation Planning is often missing key results such as:

  • opportunities for collaboration between divisions to execute the goals
  • collective priority setting and coordination
  • adequate resources to execute across the organization
  • measurement of progress and enhanced performance

HOW you plan to implement the strategy is key to its success. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste; be sure to create a consistent process by which divisions are creating work plans that contribute to an overarching organizational work plan. Then work collaboratively to ensure the proper priorities and resources are allocated to TRANSFORM your organization!

MSBC brings an innovative approach and a team with extensive experience to guide your leadership through this Strategic Transformation process. Let us know if you like to learn more at .

To Plan or to Transform? “Strategic Transformation Series: Part 2”

Thanks for joining us again for the second entry in the Strategic Transformation Series. In the first entry we talked about The Strategy and Engagement Connection. We look forward to your comments and questions as we dive into how strategic planning can not only enhance your company’s bottom line, but the engagement of your employees as well.

Let me ask you a question. When is the last time you read your strategic plan? If you are like most leaders, you read it when it was published (if you even read the entire plan then…). If you didn’t have anything to do with creating it, you most likely felt one or more of the responses below:

  1. Confused
  2. Infuriated
  3. Amused
  4. Motivated for about 10 minutes before you put it on the shelf to collect dust

Now some of you may have answered the first question with “I read it last year at performance time; our goals and objectives were tied to the plan.” But I’m willing to bet that that hasn't gone so well for you or your team members either. What we often see is that the new goals and objectives aren't clear, or it’s not obvious how your current job objectives should be aligned to the goals/objectives. It’s also very possible that you aren't in agreement with the priorities or approach to the objectives.

Most of us will go about doing our job anyway, even when we do not understand or agree with the strategic plan. However, I encourage you to ask yourself this question, “Are you really making a difference toward executing the plan?... Do you care?... Do you feel that sense of contribution and purpose that you want in your job?”

Most leaders agree that a strategic plan is necessary. You invest your time, money, and resources to develop the plan, so why are so many strategic planning binders sitting on the shelf collecting dust?

One would think that an organization that has invested time, financial resources, and mental effort into strategic planning surely intends for it to launch a transformation of the organization. As engaged and effective leaders, we want to do better than the typical stagnant and abandoned strategic plan documents that do little to align, engage or create change in an organization.

You may now be asking, “How can I create this transformation?”

At MSBC we believe that HOW we lead and execute the planning process is just as important as what comes out of it.

Simply put, strategic planning, when done well, is an opportunity to engage in creative thinking about the possibilities of the organization, and develop stronger leaders and teams while defining the future and how to get there. Lastly, it must also include integrated implementation throughout the operational divisions to drive buy-in and commitment to the goals of the organization so that it doesn't just collect dust.

As an engaged leader, would you like to see this kind of transformation and alignment in your organization?

We will continue our dive into “Strategic Transformation” next week as we explore the “HOW” and discuss important components of what will help your organization transform itself with the help of your powerful and engaged workforce. I hope you’ll join us and give us your thoughts and feedback.

MSBC brings an innovative approach and a team with extensive experience to guide your leadership through this Strategic Transformation process. Let us know if you like to learn more at .

Blindsided! Six Strategies to Protect Your Blindside

As a first time supervisor, I was given lots of advice. Much of the advice was helpful and some of it – not so much. One thing that I was told by my new boss on my first day as a supervisor was, “never blindside your boss”. I was not quite sure what he meant but I promised that I would never blindside him. I was reminded of that advice recently when I was “blindsided” by some news. My first thought was how did I not see this coming? You set the path, you’re working hard, pushing for that goal. Then – the report drops on your desk, a member of your team drops in, you get a phone call from your boss/stakeholder. You’re blindsided! Why didn’t someone sound the alarm? Where was your team?

No one likes being blindsided. Here are some strategies that will keep you protected:

  1. Constantly cast the Vision – People tend to live and work in the “here and now”. They are working on the tasks at hand – doing the next thing. Understanding and working toward a company vision is generally not a motivating factor. More concerning is that many employees don’t even know the vision of their company! Vision provides the direction and focus of the organization and should be the driver of every goal and decision. It is vital to talk about the vision, connect the vision, and live the vision for your team. Experts say that leaders should “re-cast” the vision every 30-60 days to keep their teams fully engaged. Find creative ways to remind everyone what they do every day contributes to the vision.
  2. Pay attention to fatigue, mentally and physically - We live in a world that is fast-paced and demanding. Working long hours for an extended time creates burnout, physical and emotional fatigue. Research continues to show that work weeks that extend past 40 hours are non-productive and supports poor decision making. Know the number of hours your team is putting in. Make sure that you do not project the message that working long hours is a badge of honor. Your team needs time away to de-stress and recover. Yes, there will be times where the extra push and hours are needed. If you have done a good job of keeping the vision alive and connecting it to the desired goals, the vision will become the fuel that energizes the team. And I’m betting the extra hours will shrink and goals will be met.
  3. Answer the Why - Perhaps you did a good job of stating and defining the goals. Did you take the next step? That step is discussing the “why” of the goal. This is one of the most important steps in the entire process, because once people know why they are doing something, they are more likely to do whatever it takes to figure out how to accomplish it. Answering the why question is essential to defining the importance of the particular goal. Ensure that you team knows and understands the Why of every goal. This means that you must be engaged and in conversation with your team - not just your “inner circle” folks. Encourage questions from everyone.
  4. Be aware of conflicting priorities – Once I was discussing with an employee my concern about her attention to priorities. It was obvious that she was frustrated and after a few seconds she summoned the courage to tell me that I made everything a priority. It is important that we “keep the main thing the main thing” and that your team knows what that is. Seemingly constant changing priorities are frustrating and confusing especially if they are not communicated well. Take the time to define clear purpose, values, strategy and goals. Do this often. Remember to answer the “Why” and re-cast the Vision.
  5. Be available and visible – Don’t be a “MIA” leader. People want their leader to be visible more during tough times than they do in good times. They need to see someone who is stronger than they are. They need to feel a sense of direction, a sense of security. The key is to cut back on focusing inwardly on your goals and the company, and to focus more on what’s happening around you, often in unexpected places. Why focus outwardly? Because the more you focus internally, the less peripheral vision you have, and the more signals you could miss - setting yourself up for being blindsided. By being visible and available helps to create a culture of trust. It also creates opportunity for you get information first hand and unfiltered.
  6. Celebrate the small victories - Acknowledge and celebrate small victories. This re-energizes the team and gives you opportunity to re-cast the vision. Celebrating is part of the culture of successful organizations. It provides the opportunity to recognize what individual or team achievement means to the company's success. Celebrating the small victories will drive the success of the vision. Celebrate your team! And make sure you are there to celebrate with them. And when it’s time to celebrate the big victory your team will celebrate YOU as the one who led the way.

We all have been blindsided at some time and have questioned why others let us down. In reality it is often that we let them down. I am confident if you work toward these strategies, your team will watch and protect your blindside!

MSBCoach provides leadership, team and organizational coaching, consulting and training. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss your leadership and team development strategies with you. Please contact us today at .

Should I Develop A Niche?

Ask MSBCoach is your opportunity to ask our professional coaches, trainers and consultants about your specific concerns in your career or organization.  The truth is, many others out there are probably having the same struggles.   We’re looking forward to hearing what is on your mind and offering our advice or suggestions and sharing them for all to benefit.   

Dear MSBCoach,
 Is a niche market a good thing? Why is it difficult for me to develop it? – New Entrepreneur, Staunton, VA.

Dear New Entrepreneur,

Fear is often the root cause for an entrepreneur to not develop a niche market, the other is lack of understanding of it's importance. Most new entrepreneurs want business so bad that they are afraid a niche will exclude them from potential customers. The truth is just the opposite.

A niche allows the consumers to know exactly what you do. It sets you apart from anyone else and makes you the specialist. Often I will hear entrepreneurs describe their business something like this, "We are a graphic design company that will help brand your organization, we also can create mailing lists for you, print your products and develop your web site... oh yes, we also have several years experience in landscaping too."

I know this sounds crazy but it happens. This message confuses the consumer. It is too much information so instead of choosing which one to talk to you about, they do not talk to you about any of them. The last comment about landscaping tells the consumer in case you don't make it in your graphic design business you have a back up plan. You may have a back up plan; however, your customer does not need to know about it. Once you have built a relationship with a client within your niche, it is then OK to offer more services to them.

Let me leave you with this thought - could you imagine if Coke's tag line was, "Have a Coke and a Smile and by the way, we now sell tires...." The goal is KISS - Keep it simple sweetie - LESS is MORE!

If you have more questions, contact me at