Leader

Vision and Values

“Core values determine your culture. Your culture determines behavior. Behavior determines performance.”—Sue Hawkes, EOS Implementer/Author

I recently came across this quote, which really resonated with me. 

In business and as leaders, our personal values shape each discussion, each decision, and each interaction. Likewise, the core values of a team or organization shape the people and the environment within. 

As such, it is beneficial to ask the following questions about the company/team’s core values:

“Do these beliefs reflect not only how we treat our customers, but also how we treat each other?” 

“Do these values make a positive impact?”

“Do we, as leaders, live and work in accordance with these values each and every day?” 

The true core values of an organization are those which the team lives every day. They may or may not be the same as those that are written on the wall.

One of the best bosses that I ever had articulated the values of his team with great care and intention. He created a “Vision and Values” document for the group with our collaboration. He went as far as to review it with potential hires, wanting to communicate how we worked and what we believed in. It was critical to him that the people he hired operated with the same level of integrity. Although we did not refer to them every day, his “Vision and Values” absolutely shaped the culture of our team. 

Culture may be defined as “the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group.” Our core values create that culture, which in turn dictates how people think and act. Positively or negatively. 

You can only manage behavior, not results. Again, behavior determines performance. 

In a thriving environment, everyone buys into the values and lives accordingly. This is reflected in the culture and, ultimately, the performance. 

Onboarding a New Salesperson

Onboarding a New Sales Person

I heard a story from a colleague about her first day as an outside sales representative. “I was supposed to meet my new boss at a local coffee shop at 9:00 am. I waited for him to arrive for about 30 minutes and then called him, somewhat in a panic, thinking that I was at the wrong meeting place. No answer, no response. Around 3:00 that afternoon, he called me back to tell me that he was confused about the day, had other stuff going on, and that it would be better if we met a couple of days later.”

Hearing this story almost sent me into a state of shock. What kind of message did the “no-show” deliver? What did it do to her level of enthusiasm and motivation, right out of the gate?

While this story is undoubtedly out of the ordinary, many managers do rush through the onboarding process in hopes of getting the new person up and running—out selling, as quickly as possible. When designed with thought and intention, the onboarding process provides the foundation for future success. Pulled together haphazardly, or not done at all, it has the potential to be a costly mistake.   

Here are my Do’s and Don’t’s when onboarding a new salesperson:

  1. Provide an Overview of the Onboarding Period. You need to have a plan for the training/onboarding, ideally in writing for easy reference. Establish goals.  Articulate what you want the employee to have learned and mastered by the end of the period. Doing so demonstrates that you are serious about success and have given thought to what it will take.

  2. Plan, but be Flexible. As important as it is to have a plan in place, recognize that everyone learns differently, and at a different pace. Also, business needs may cause you to move things around. Communicate this on the first day.

  3. Share Your Mission and Vision. When employees feel connected to a purpose beyond their actual responsibilities, their motivation level increases. The best time to lay this foundation is on day one. Consider the Bricklayer parable:

    Three bricklayers are asked: “What are you doing?” The first says, “I am laying bricks.” The second says, “I am building a church.” And the third says, “I am building the house of God.” The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling.

  4. Build Connections and Relationships. As much as you want your employees to feel connected to your company’s purpose, you want them to connect with the team and the other players. As part of the orientation, build in time for genuine relationships to blossom. Schedule team lunches, job shadowing, etc. Establishing a mentor can be a huge win. The new employee has a second resource. You can delegate some of the training responsibility. The mentor has an opportunity to develop and feels valued.

  5. Celebrate. A small welcome gift or a note expressing your excitement demonstrates that you are a class act and look forward to more celebrations to come.  

Starting on the right footing does not guarantee success, but it serves as a great foundation. Take advantage of this opportunity to take the next step in building a top-performing team and culture.

Leading: Body, Heart, Mind, and Soul

We all want to hire the best people and build a better company. To attract and retain top talent, it is imperative that we cultivate an environment where our people have the tools to do their jobs effectively and the motivation to do so. This will ensure a positive culture, but is no simple task. It is a mission that requires us to bring our best selves to the show.

To lead at our highest potential, we must intentionally care for our bodies, our emotional well-being, our minds, and our spirits. 

Body—We gain strength and stamina by taking care of ourselves physically, which expands our capacity to work. Eat right. Exercise. Get enough sleep. 

Heart—To get the best from others, we must communicate effectively. As leaders, we are on a stage. We need to “respond” rather than “react,” and keep our cool, even when we want to blow. We gain interpersonal effectiveness, empathy, and self-regulation from taking care of ourselves emotionally. Disconnect from work. Laugh. Practice gratitude.

Mind—When we take care of our minds, we are more focused and much better at problem-solving. Plan and manage our time. Take mental breaks (even for five minutes). Minimize multi-tasking.

Soul—We are at our best when we feel connected to a purpose greater than self-interest. In so doing, we increase our effectiveness at work and our motivation level is high. Journal. Meditate. Stop and take a breath. Find the practice that works best for you. 

When we manage these four dimensions of our being, we lead with greater intention and have a meaningful impact on those around us. We create a thriving environment, and the results are profound.

Want to learn more? Attend "Leadership and Professional Effectiveness" on May 30 at the CBA.

For Your Development

I was recently catching up with a friend, and the topic shifted to work. “How have things been going?” I asked. “I’m getting frustrated. For over a year, they have been piling extra projects on me, telling me it is ‘for my development,’ and that I am getting ready for the next level. It feels to me like they are just giving me extra work because there is no one else to do it. There is no talk of what skills I need to develop, or any communication about when they think I will be ready for that next level.”

I suggested that he ask for a meeting with his boss to understand what skills he needed to build, get feedback on the work he had completed, and start a dialogue about his development strategy.

Providing special assignments, such as leading a cross-functional team or mentoring, is a fantastic talent development strategy. Ambitious employees gain an opportunity to grow and shine while meeting a business need of the organization. Often, the recipient gains increased exposure to leadership, an occasion to expand professionally, and a chance to demonstrate a willingness to go above and beyond.

However, if not managed appropriately, this practice can go south, mainly if it is frequent, and create frustration for the employee. For best results:

  • Set the foundation with a development conversation. Ask the employee to articulate his/her career goals. In return, provide honest feedback about the development that will best serve the employee to reach said goals. Establish additional assignments as a vehicle for growth and discuss how they benefit both the person and the company.

  • At the onset, clarify expectations and illustrate how the employee will benefit.

  • Support the employee through the duration of the project. Provide guidance and feedback. Doing so is especially important if the assignment is a stretch for the employee.

  • Be appreciative.

  • Call a spade a spade. If it’s not a development opportunity, but merely extra work that needs to be done, do not misrepresent.

Taking these steps also ensures that everyone is on the same page, and that open two-way communication ensues, creating a win-win situation.

Simple Credos from a Life Well-Lived

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

"Tell the truth. Don't blame people. Be strong. Do your best. Forgive. Stay the course." This was the life code of George H.W. Bush, according to Jon Meachum in his December 5 eulogy for the 41st president.

The language is plain. The lessons are simple. And these qualities really matter to people when being led. No matter your politics, a leader who lives by these words creates the intangibles of a great team: trust, purpose, and community.

A few thoughts about each:

“Tell the truth.” Truth and kindness are not mutually exclusive. Sharing the good, bad and the ugly may be uncomfortable in the short run, but it ultimately builds trust. If I know that my boss will always tell me the truth, I can follow him/her, without worry of some hidden agenda.

Don’t blame people.” Own it. Learn from it. Apologize when necessary. Think about what you will do differently the next time.

“Be strong.” Remember that on the other side of any challenge is an outcome and a better result.

“Do your best.” Be all in, or don’t be there.

“Forgive.” We are all united in our humanity. We all make mistakes. We can only control what we do. When we don’t forgive, we carry on the negative emotion.

“Stay the course.” The course and direction may not be linear, but that’s okay. Put one foot in front of the other and move forward.

At the end of the day, we want to feel confident that we have led others in a way that makes a proud. We want to reflect upon “a life well-lived.” Following these simple credos is a big step toward leading and living in a meaningful way.