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Articles tagged with: Visionary Leadership

The Bottom Line in Leadership Development

We know that our clients value return on investment (ROI). Our goal at MSBCoach is to provide insight into the challenging question of how to measure the ROI for leadership coaching and development, as well as the team-building programs we offer. A frequently asked question is, “How does one build a business case for leadership development that will resonate with the executive leadership or stakeholders?” Pressed with company expectations to increase revenues while decreasing costs, many business leaders are reluctant to invest in development programs, viewing them as a luxury rather than a necessity. This certainly isn’t a new issue but, in a down economy, the pressure to justify every expense is intensified. The view held by experts is that leadership development must be viewed as a strategic investment in the business, and that a business case can – and should – be built in support of any such program...

Be A Visionary Leader

Why should you be a visionary leader?

Here are two main reasons in my opinion:

First, if you do not know where you are going, you are not leading.  Or, as you may remember Yogi saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up somewhere else.”

Is Unselfish Leadership Also Inspirational Leadership?


I recently read an article about a generous stand taken by a leader and CEO named, Dan Price.  Price is the Founder and CEO of Gravity Payments. When I read the story, I was impressed with his benevolence. However, it was his actions as a leader that peaked my curiosity and prompted me to find out more about him and his leadership style.

If you don’t know the story, Dan Price announced at a staff meeting that over the next three years the minimum annual salary for every employee will be increased to $70,000. It was heartwarming to hear expressions of the positive impact the salary increase will have on the employees. One young man said he and his wife will be able to start a family sooner than they had previously thought and one young woman stated she would be able to fulfill her dream of purchasing a home before she turned 21. As I tend to do when I hear something of interest, I immediately went to Google and searched for Dan Price and Gravity Payments. I wanted to know more about this company, its leader, and ultimately, what it was that drove Mr. Price to make such a generous gesture. After all, it is not likely that he woke up one morning and thought, “I have an idea! I’ll give everybody a raise when I get to work today!” So when I visited the company website I went to their About Us page.  Right there, in the middle of the page, I found my answer-a quote from Dan Price.

What Separates a Good Leader From a Great Leader?

She wasn’t exactly a woman one would identify as a leader.  She was in her 30’s, her front teeth were missing, her clothes were worn, she stood a little over 5 feet tall, she was uneducated and it was rumored she had abandoned her husband in the middle of the night.  She took jobs mostly cooking and cleaning.  Although she had a strong work ethic, she would disappear in the spring or fall only to return completely broke with no one knowing where she had been.  

Does this woman fit your description of a great leader?  Would you respect a woman like this if you saw her on the street or if she came to your office for a job?   The answer was “yes” for the hundreds of slaves who followed her to freedom out of the South.  These people recognized and respected her for her great leadership.  This woman’s name was Harriet Tubman. 

Using Emotional Intelligence to Build Trust in Your Leadership

Trust in leadership is on the decline. What is most concerning is that trust is the basis for all positive human interaction, either in the workplace or in our personal lives. Without trust collaboration and communication deteriorates, employees are less likely to bring innovative solutions or thoughts to the table, and productivity declines. All of this eventually leads to employees who are not engaged and a workplace that becomes toxic to be in.

The first question we should ask is, "Why is trust so important in an organization"? Consider this quote from Sissela Bok, author of Lying:

Trust is a social good to be protected just as much as the air we breathe or the water we drink. When it is damaged, the community as a whole suffers; and, when it is destroyed, societies falter and collapse…Trust and integrity are precious resources, easily squandered, hard to regain.



Are You Winning or Coping When It Comes To Leading Change In Your Organization?

Change…. just the word alone brings stress to many of us. We encounter so much change in our rapidly evolving world that you may wonder, “How do I keep up and manage change for myself, let alone lead my team through another change?” One thing is for sure when it comes to change, it is not a matter of if, but when.

If we are not changing, we are dying… which is not an option. There is a quote by Charles Darwin that says, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” How well do you manage and lead change?

Trust the process

I recently had the pleasure of facilitating a strategy process with an entrepreneurial team in a growing technology and communications organization. The owner and CEO expressed this simple request at the beginning of our discussions. The nuance of this elegant statement created an amazing exchange of ideas, energy, and future possibilities.

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”.

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

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

Purposeful Leadership


Are leaders made or are leaders born? This is an ongoing question that often triggers interesting conversations and debate. One thing is for sure, leadership is a journey and something that is continuous process.

I personally believe leaders are “made” through learning, experiences, successes, failures and choices. You are not just “born” a leader, although personalities, temperaments, upbringing, and cultural norms all play a part in what makes you who you are.

Leaders come in all styles and approaches, and thank goodness we do not have a “cookie-cutter” leadership format that is exactly what “works” in leadership. We can and should find patterns and leadership styles to learn from and look up to yet, in the end, we have to own and develop our own leadership style.

Your leadership style is formulated through your leadership journey and everyone’s is different. Your style emerges out of a combination of your past and current experiences (both personal and professional), how your values and judgments emerge from these events and your personality.

We also know from Gallup’s research on strengths that your brain is “wired” for certain potential strengths/talents that are there from birth. The difference between becoming a poor, good or great leader is based more on how you respond and learn from your experiences, as opposed to the experiences making or breaking you as a leader.

Even though nature and your experiences have both shaped and influenced your personal leadership style, one thing I feel sure of is that you will not be successful in your leadership unless you create a purposeful plan. For anything to be consistently successful requires intent.

For example, in order to take care of your body, your home, your car, and your relationships, you must give intentional attention to the success. If you don’t, things can fall apart. Your leadership is not any different.

Great artists, athletes, parents and friendships do not just happen by chance. Great leaders do not just “fall into” their greatness. It is a planned process that they are committed to and accountable for. A person or leader may have occasional success from “being lucky”, but for sustainability, calculated goals with action and accountability have to be in place.

A powerful example of a leader who was purposeful and intentional about his leadership was our third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. It is said by historians that Jefferson was mindful in developing his leadership which ultimately led to his influential legacy. He did this through a careful review of his life and his career, and then selecting which contributions he deemed most important to his public service. He even went so far as to write his own epitaph: Jefferson wished to be remembered on his tombstone for three things:

  • Author of the Declaration of Independence
  • Author of the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom
  • Founder of the University of Virginia

Though known today, and then, for many impressive accomplishments (such as the Louisiana Purchase), Jefferson feared that any mention of his purely political career and presidency (even on popular issues) could cloud people’s views of his leadership purpose.

By listing his main achievements in the form of broad ideas and educational purposes, Jefferson hoped to shape future interpretation of his leadership in those terms, rather than in the language of political gain. Now this is a purposeful plan; although, your plan may not be this elaborate, you still need a plan.

I encourage you to become aware of whom you want to be as a leader. Identify for yourself, what is necessary to get you where you want to go. Take time to:

  • Value, appreciate and understand where you have come from.
  • Identify the values you lead out of and how they have come into play in your life.
  • Be aware of your past and current experiences, your personality and how, combined, they influence your leadership.
  • Identify what are you doing that is creating success in your leadership.

To get started for now, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Where are you not getting the results you want?
  2. What do you need to do to bring about change?
  3. Who will hold you accountable for these goals?

If you get yourself out of your comfort zone, your comfort zone will start to grow.

This exercise alone is deliberate and it will help you identify how to create greater success and give purpose to your leadership. Live, behave and dress as though you are who and where you want to be.

What can you do now to live into your purposeful leadership? You will get where you want to go much faster if you set goals and live into it now. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he”, Hebrew proverb. I have worked with leaders who have said, “When I get this promotion, I will change….” My suggestion is to make those changes now and do it with intent.

I would love to hear your feedback. What have you done to live into your leadership? What have you done to be sure your leadership is on purpose? Any other ideas or suggestions you can give are welcome!