Just off a call with the team – each one of us is in a different city making regular calls a necessity. We’re focused on the second half of 2016, committed to building community and connections, for #womenofsignificance. When you’re in business, each new quarter of business takes on a whole new perspective. The opportunity to challenge yourself is new and exciting. The ability to review last quarter and move on from failed programs or plans, is necessary. The knowledge that you have three months (or six, in this case) to create positive change, is invigorating.
After much quiet deliberation; after tossing and turning in my bed night after night, pondering; after hammering my mentor with questions, I am ready to share my thoughts on Purposeful Leadership, a concept that isn’t new but can be overlooked when you’re mired in the day to day work of running your business. #womenofsignificance understand why Purposeful Leadership is necessary and spend time learning how to implement it, daily. If my thoughts help you in your focus on the second half of 2015, I encourage you to share in the comments below.
- First and foremost, treat each and every day with intent. For instance, I intend to engage with my team more than I have in the past. We have set days to conference via the web, but I will be reaching out almost daily to make sure they know I am available to them, 24/7. It’s so true that no man (or woman) is an island, and it’s my job to make sure the team feels connected, each and every day.
- Be grateful. I intend to see each day as an opportunity. I intend to make things happen, rather than allow things to happen to me, as consequence. Being purposeful is the first step to achieving goals. And, as my Monday Morning Memo from Wizard of Ads says, “…I believe what most people call goals are little more than aspirations, hopes and dreams: wishful thinking.” He goes on to say goals require these qualities:action: measurement: progress: I believe a good way to start achieving goals is by being grateful, to family, friends, and colleagues. The Universe rewards gratitude.
- Stay in Learning Mode. One of the most important things I learned from being in leadership groups is the concept of “always be in learning mode.” This requires great listening skills. Imagine this: I come to you with a fantastic idea. Why is it fantastic? Because I say so. My opening statement, “We gotta do this…if we do this, we’ll create more sales opportunities than we’ve ever had in the past…” is enthusiastic but little else. As I continue pontificating, you stop listening.
I want you to keep listening. I want you to sit back, stop glancing at email, stop thinking about what you want for lunch… and listen. With open ears and open eyes. Absorb the idea. Maybe it’s a bad idea, but unless you give it your full attention, you will never know. In the end, you’ll learn what’s important to me and why I’m enthusiastic about the idea. You might even learn what to follow my excited utterings with the right questions, such as, “Nice job, Yvonne. I wonder if you’ve thought about this…” Or, “How will it happen? Who is involved? What will it accomplish?” Questioning continues the conversation and helps direct the purpose of the conversation.
- Save it on ice. Maybe the idea was yours. Maybe you were the one over the moon about it. Maybe you convinced the rest of the team to get behind it. Maybe…it didn’t really work the way you thought it would, but you are still hoping for positive results. Just a little longer, you think. If we just wait a little longer, it will work.
During a leadership group session many years ago, our facilitator asked one business woman who had just revealed her latest creative marketing plan, “How is that working for you?”
“We’re hoping for great results!” she said, as her smile covered her entire face!
The facilitator gave a nod. “Hope,” he said, “is not a plan. How do you plan to achieve great results?”
The room filled with silence. The woman’s smile faded away. With downcast eyes she responded, “We’re waiting.”
“Bring a solid plan back to the next meeting,” the facilitator said. “Show us how you plan on achieving the results you need. Or, show us how you’re willing to let this plan go because it isn’t working.”
You see, planning requires the ability to let go. Anything that has been implemented and not returned a positive result (sales, engagement, brand recognition or loyalty) needs to go. No matter how great you thought it would be.
Ideas that are stupendously wonderful…but require more manpower, more time, or more budget than you have, can be put “in the icebox”… not dead, nor forgotten, but saved on ice.
Letting go requires a stalwart character and a true focus on success. You cannot succeed if you do not cull the under-performing ideas, programs, and even people.
- Embrace your role. Being a leader doesn’t mean you are always right. It doesn’t mean you get to boss people around. It doesn’t mean you get to come in late, leave early, and drink all the coffee. Guy Kawasaki put it this way, in his new book, Art of Start 2.0: “If you think leadership is deciding what you want and telling people to do it, I feel sorry for you. Reality is going to kick your ass so far that not even Google will find you.”
It does mean surrounding yourself with talent. It does mean giving your talented team free reign to achieve results, even if that means failing now and then. It does mean taking responsibility. And, above all else, it means giving your team challenges to keep them inspired and actionable.
- Make it necessary. I met an interesting gentleman at a party recently. He’s a videographer. We discussed social media, art, getting things done, and how to put on events. My experience at the co-founder of BlogPaws, a pet community with a yearly conference, was of interest to him.
As I talked about achieving sponsorships from various brands, getting attendees to attend, and creating the right atmosphere for all, his eyes lit up with enthusiasm. He nodded frequently. I could see I’d hit a ‘nerve.’
“I always said I’d do that for my industry,” he said. “We don’t have anything to allow videographers a way to gather, learn and connect. It’s so fragmented.”
“So, do it,” I encouraged him.
“I don’t have time,” he sighed. The enthusiasm drained out of his face, his smile turned upside down, he even averted his eyes. Disappointment filled his whole being.
I knew I couldn’t push him. He had that defeatist attitude that said, “I can’t do this.” The party we were at didn’t lend itself to my teaching him, however simply I could, how to do it.
I could see he didn’t want to face reality. Because, the reality is this – he could do it. If he really wanted to, he could create the first offline event for his industry. The way to get started is to … make it necessary. Make having a conference necessary. For him. Once it’s necessary for him, he can create the necessity for others.
As a leader, the important tasks of running your business must be necessary. You must make them so. If you do not make a task necessary, it gets shuffled to the bottom of someone’s list, and it rarely gets completed. Discover what’s necessary, and make it so.
Achieving purposeful leadership requires commitment and practice. #womenofsignificance understand the need for that commitment and practice.
This outline is just the beginning.