leadership incorporated blog

November 6, 2011

What goals have you amputated?

Filed under: Uncategorized — inspiredtosucceed @ 7:18 pm
Last week on Grey’s Anatomy, a sanitation worker comes in to the ER with half his right hand smashed into too many pieces to save. Callie, the orthopedic specialist, takes one look and says, “That hand’s gotta come off!” But as the patient is being prepped for surgery, Callie discovers that he is a skilled and inspired woodprint artist and that his art is his joy in life. She considers herself something of an artist, too. She sees clearly that saving his hand is a way of saving his life — and preserving something positive in the world. She changes her planned course of action and decides to rebuild the hand.
Watching this, it struck me that I know someone in a similar situation: Daryl is leading a division in a large medical technology products business. The conservative parent company has cut his budgets and staff and is declining his requests for resources needed to grow the business. Daryl’s response has been to do his best to put out his biggest fires and put his focus on polishing his résumé.
Do you see the similarity? Daryl thinks the hand can’t be saved. He’s given up.
What’s different between the two situations is that Daryl doesn’t have a reason to push through this first assessment. At least,not yet.
What if he did? What if Daryl saw that the purpose his organization could serve in the world is bigger than him? Bigger than his fears of failure or rocking the corporate boat or being disappointed or not being up to the task?  What if he believed as deeply as it is possible to believe anything that he could make a real difference in the lives of many people by overcoming his fears and going for the change he knows his company needs? What if he got that giving up on the company would equal giving up on himself?
Do you think that might get him to let go of the idea that his situation is hopeless? Do you think that could engage him in some creative problem solving and possibly some strategic risk taking with the parent org to get something different and better happening?
What we’re talking about here is engagement. Full engagement…you might also call it ownership…inspired by a sense of bigger purpose. When companies have this they perform miracles. This isn’t just in the movies. It happens in business all the time. Only not as often as it doesn’t happen!
So where in your work (or life) are you less than fully engaged? What goals have you given up on that were once energizing and exciting, that held true potential for you or your business?  What are you ready to amputate that isn’t truly done for?
What would happen if you took another look on a deeper level and saw what was really at stake? What if you took full ownership? What would it be like to take full responsibility for the consequences and costs of giving up — and allowed yourself to reconnect with the potential benefits and gains of taking a fresh look and really putting yourself on the line?
What would happen if you fully engaged as if someone’s life depended on it?
Maybe someone’s life does. Maybe it’s yours.

October 25, 2010

Making the Leap: 7 steps to create rapid nonlinear growth

Had enough recession? Ready to leap into growth mode? You don’t have to wait for the economy to bestow growth upon you. You can proactively bring it on.

As I’ve worked with people and organizations going through major change for over 5 years, I’ve noticed that  people are seeing the greatest results in the area of non-linear rapid growth.

What do I mean by that? Well, linear growth is the simple, steady continuation of what you’ve already been doing. And you may be able to create growth by simply dialing up your activity in your same areas and with your same clients. But sometimes this isn’t enough. Particularly in a world that is rapidly shifting in many ways, in order to grow we need to innovate, to shift, to become something new, or become a resource to someone new.

I’ve identified some steps that can help you create rapid nonlinear growth whether you are leading a middle-market organization, a smaller entrepreneurial business or simply leading yourself into a new career:

1. Perform a strengths inventory. Put aside what you think you know and do a clean reassessment. Ask  current clients and associates to tell you what you do better than anyone. What problems do you solve best?  What new skills have you developed? What old untapped skills, tools and perspectives might become useful with a fresh coat of paint? Don’t edit at this point. Surface everything you and your team can think of.

2. Identify important need trends in the marketplace. Once you have looked inside, turn your attention outwards. What’s going on out there? Look at your current client base first. Brainstorm. What needs do they have beyond the ones you’re already aware of and serving? Then look to new audiences. Who has needs that might fit your areas of strength? No editing or judging at this point. Get it all down on paper where you can work with it. I  like to scribble it all up on a large piece of butcher block paper affixed to a wall.

3. Find intersections between 1 & 2. Look for themes and new applications. Mix and match. Put on your detached perspective hat, as if you and your organization weren’t the topic. Again, no judging or editing, think up every possible way you might use your identified skills, tools, & perspectives to meet the needs of various audiences.

4. Now, create a specific vision for your growth. Specific is the operative word here. Now is the time for editing & discernment. Don’t worry yet about the how. Focus on the vision itself. What excites you? Where is your biggest possible vision? Who would you be working for/with? What will you be doing for them? What value will you create? What results will you produce? How will you be compensated? Paint a detailed picture of success.

5. Imagine that you have already achieved this picture of success. What will you and your business become once you have realized this vision? Will you be a bigger entity? Who will now be a part of your team? Will you need a bigger space? Will your brand have evolved? Will you have developed new skill sets? What new activities will you be engaged in? What new resources will you have access to? Define your future state as clearly as you possibly can.

6. Prioritize and Plan. Now that you’ve defined the objective, identify the shifts that will make the biggest difference. Also note those that may make no difference at all.  Zoom in on the former. Be creative. Don’t do this alone. Get people you trust to play devil’s advocate, to poke holes in your plans. Keep planning until you have visualized the clearest, shortest and most effective path to your picture of success.

7. Step into the change. Stop thinking that your business will change once growth comes. The secret of creating rapid growth is that if you create the change, the growth will follow. Shift now. Start thinking, acting, talking, being, and making the choices and decisions of that future state right now. And get your team doing the same.

This is not for the faint of heart. To be successful, you have to fully commit to staying on this path even if you get some “nos” early in the game. Remember that successful ventures rarely look exactly as they were envisioned. You’ll need to pay close attention to what’s working and what’s not and be able to balance staying the course with allowing your vision to evolve as you go.

As we approach the beginning of a new year, it may be time to recognize if your efforts at linear growth are actually leading you nowhere. If so, perhaps a little reinvention is exactly what you need to leap into growth.

September 5, 2010

Inspired to Succeed: A Powerful Tool for Successful Change

Filed under: Uncategorized — inspiredtosucceed @ 8:09 pm

Show of hands: Who’d like to bend change to your will?

Who wouldn’t, right?

Here’s what I notice as I’m working with clients in education, health care, manufacturing, the law, media, sales, and technology. We are all always in a state of change. And the rate of that change is accelerating.

And many of us feel change is having its way with us. Does this describe you?

Most of us tend to see the change that is happening as if we are outside it. We distance ourselves from it. Some of us fight every change with all our strength. Some of us resist some change some of the time, without even knowing we’re doing so.

We want to control change, but the change is bigger than we are. Today, I’d like to offer you a model that can help you to bend the change that is happening in your work and life in the directions you’d like to see it go.

The first step in mastering change is to SEE it. One tool for doing this is visualizing a metaphor for the change. Some people may see the change happening to them as a mountain to be climbed, a maze to be navigated or a tangled mass of wires to be sorted and separated. Any metaphor that rings true will do. Now see your metaphor in stages. For example, if your metaphor is a marathon, you might identify that the stages are choosing which marathon to run, learning the course, training and preparation, getting started, maintaining a steady pace, dealing with obstacles, finishing, and what comes next. See how the path to your goal fits with the metaphor you’ve chosen.

The second step is to ALIGN with the change. If you look at the metaphor you have created, rather than seeing it abstractly from the outside, step into the picture. Identify where you are now within the metaphor. (The contemplation stage IS a stage!) Act as if the change is already a reality and all you have to do is follow the path. Monitor your progress as you go.

Next. From the perspective of accepting the change and being inside it you are in a better place to SHAPE the change. A tool that I’ve been using to do this is something I call Change SculptingTM. I work with my clients (and prospective clients) to sketch out their picture of success at a specific point in time in the future. Then we begin to build from where they are now. We look at the challenges in the space between now and then. By seeing the entire picture as malleable clay, we can sculpt the change, planning ways to effectively work around the obstacles in the direction of their picture of success.

The last component is to EVALUATE. Simply continue to monitor your progress in terms of your metaphor and adapt the change  as you go.

If you are a member of the senior leadership team of an organization, I will be happy to walk you through this process. Just shoot me an email at sr@leadershipincorporated.com.

June 5, 2009

Devastating Mistakes Businesses Make in this Economy: #5

Not realizing that the landscape has changed and the opportunities have moved. There are more opportunities now than ever before, because there is more need now than ever before. However, the terrain has shifted and opportunities are not always visible, are not where we’re used to seeing them, nor do they look like the opportunities of the past. The companies who will succeed in this new era are those who will be able to continuously adapt. It is essential that leaders develop their ability to see possibilities, their readiness to seize opportunity and their commitment to provide meaningful service and products to this rapidly changing marketplace.

Solution: Leadership training, coaching and consulting
can help business leaders to broaden the corporate vision, get new perspectives for the best use of current resources, and set, communicate and inspire subtle and dramatic shifts in direction for the future.

June 4, 2009

Devastating Mistakes Businesses Make in This Economy: #4

Filed under: Uncategorized — inspiredtosucceed @ 7:30 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Confusing expenses and investments. The path to success in this economy is not paved with savings. Yet, companies are freezing budgets unilaterally, not making the necessary distinction between consumable expenditures, which deliver short-term benefits, and investments with the long-term power to create future business. Businesses that come out intact on the other side of this recession will have figured out how to adapt and build for their future.

Solution: Evaluate expenditures based on potential ROI, rather than on cost alone.  Seek out products and services, which will increase the value the organization provides, as well as its visibility.

June 3, 2009

Devastating Mistakes Businesses Make in This Economy: #3

Forgetting that current employees are the ones who will deliver future success. Studies show that after a reduction, there is a predictable and significant decrease in productivity. Errors and mistakes increase. Morale declines while conflict and tension rise. Customer service drops which leads directly to drops in client retention. Yet, most companies do little or nothing to support their retained employees — instead demanding more, and requiring they take on tasks and responsibilities for which they may have no training….and all for less reward. Hardly a recipe for motivation or corporate recovery.

Solution: Offer customized group workshops, individual coaching and other programs that value, empower and support employees through the transition. These may include but aren’t limited to: the opportunity to process feelings resulting from the layoff or current conditions, development of time and stress management skills, communication skills, and  specific customer service and sales training that solves the problems posed by current economic conditions.

June 2, 2009

Devastating Mistakes Businesses Make in This Economy: #2

Forgetting the impact exiting employees have on the well-being of the company. Businesses can’t afford NOT to transition exiting employees. Why? • Disgruntled ex-employees can do a lot of damage to current client relations and retention, not to mention undoing all the time and money spent on building a positive corporate image. • The cost of litigation will always far exceed the preventive investment in outplacement. • Productivity of the survivors is dramatically affected by an insensitive layoff. • In times like these, a business needs its retained employees to rebuild. An insensitive layoff can cause them to jump ship or undermine from within. • A relatively small investment in a smooth transition can prevent much greater costs.

Solution: Retain external offboarding support. In general, employees who are leaving do not want to have conversations about their futures with internal employees and will often not take advantage of internal programs.  While large outplacement firms may be better able to service large numbers of employees, smaller firms can deliver more personalized service for a significantly smaller investment.

June 1, 2009

Devastating mistakes businesses make in today’s economy: #1

Cutting with a blowtorch instead of a laser. In the epidemic rush to cut staff, it’s shortsighted to let essential talent go. As a result, over 50% of workforce adjustments do not achieve their intended objectives. Too often, the company finds itself without the resources to recover and build for the future.

Solution: Think before you cut. Don’t automatically assume that a layoff is the best way to reduce operating costs. And don’t offer incentives for leaving. The best people will go, knowing they can find other work. The weakest will remain.

Sharon Rich is the founder of Leadership Incorporated and Layoff BounceBack. Her companies offer coaching and training programs designed to empower organizations and individuals in transition to create successful futures.

May 29, 2009

Welcome to Leadership Incorporated

Filed under: Uncategorized — inspiredtosucceed @ 9:14 pm
Tags: ,

This blog is all about true leadership.

What it is. What it looks like. How you can recognize it. What it takes.

The difference between it and what passes as leadership.

How to apply it to challenges. How to apply it to your life.

I hope this will be thought-provoking and useful to current leaders and those aspiring to lead.

One sign of a true leader is that we want to hear what others think, so please jump in and let me hear from you.

all the best,


Blog at WordPress.com.