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Articles tagged with: Visionary Leadership

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 .

The Strategy and Engagement Connection

It’s no secret that MSBC is on a mission to create engaged workforces. And we know you are just as concerned about the lack of truly engaged employees and leaders that are working together to grow the businesses or move forward the missions of your organizations as we are.

No matter what your mission is, it is critical that your employees understand how they contribute to the overall goals as well as vision. Most leaders (and team members) want to feel part of something bigger than yourself and that your contribution is valuable. The best way for everyone to understand the vision is through strategic planning.


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 .

Free Yourself of "Quick-Fix" Thinking

I am always amazed how many leaders and organizations want immediate results in areas where immediate results are not possible.  I am even more amazed how many executive coaches and training organizations promise to deliver "Quick-Fix" results.

The truth is it takes time to develop leadership, change a culture, and build a business or anything else that is worth the investment.  There are strategies to set, skills to learn and new ways of thinking to embrace.  We then need to execute and implement over a period to create new patterns.  It is very similar to taking care of the body.  You cannot join the gym on January 1 and expect to be in perfect shape by January 30.  It takes time and commitment to see long-term results, but it is so worth it.

I tell my clients and myself all the time, if you want something different; you have to do something different.  Creating new patterns is an investment.  Let go of the notion it will happen with one or two day workshops or a few coaching sessions.  Make the investment for the long-term solution; you will be glad you did!

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