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Archive for category: Leadership Development

The Importance of Executive Coaching for Start-ups

We already know that executive and business coaching holds numerous benefits for those who seek it. Whether this is done to streamline your career, negotiate a career shift or raise your levels of productivity, there is no doubt to how beneficial seeking executive and business coaching can be!

So Many Start-Ups

There are numerous start-up companies and businesses that have recently sprung into the market. Many of these offer similar services and products so what separates the best from the simply good tends to boil down to the finer things.

Executive Coaching for Start-Ups

One of the things that can seriously benefit a start up business, company or organization is executive coaching.

Over the course of this blog, we’re going to elaborate on how this is so.

A Removed Perspective

Many of those involved in starting and running their own start ups are passionate individuals. Further, the startups they are invested in hold much significance in their lives emotionally and otherwise. Though this kind of commitment is great, there are times when one needs to take a step back and view situations more objectively for the greater good of the business.

At times like those, where a director or owner cannot distance themselves from the emotional investment, an executive coach can offer valuable perspective.

Goal Setting and Management

Setting goals is an important part of any business; as is managing and seeing them through. A start-up receiving executive coaching will be supported greatly in the area of goal setting and management.

An executive coach will not only help the start up figure out its priorities and vision for growth. They will also provide support and motivation helping those working for the startup see these goals through.

Early Risk Assessment

Executive coaching can help you identify potential risks, losses and pitfalls a lot earlier in the game than you would without it. This is because the executive coach you work with has likely worked with numerous businesses, start ups and individuals.

They also have a realistic idea of what different markets are like and are informed by way of trends. In other words, they not only help you make the right decisions but also help you to avoid numerous risks by identifying them early.

Team Evolution

Managing a new team can at times be tricky. At the same time, if your team is not getting along it will probably be quite difficult for your upstart to thrive. Similarly, an unhappy team means shoddy work. An executive coach can help streamline team interactions and help with motivation as well as morale. They work with the team evolving them into the happy yet productive force you need to function well and make it big!

Sculpting Leaders

Last but not least. an executive coach will help you sculpt yourself into the right kind of employer, partner or leader.

They will inform you about qualities that will help with your work and interactions and provide guidance. They offer perspective and can help you become more aware of your strengths so you can play on them. They will also alert you to growing edges and professional weaknesses that you could work on to be better. Needless to say, a team with good leadership will get places!

Upshot

If you’re involved with a start up and feel you could use the extra support getting up on your feet that’s perfectly normal! Better yet, we’ve got you covered! Those looking for executive coaching in Minneapolis can give us a shout or visit our webpage for more on the effective executive, business and career coaching we offer!

New thinking gets Lean

New thinking gets Lean

Most leaders have at least one area of concern associated with their businesses that keeps them awake at night. To keep a finger on the pulse of what executive leaders are facing, the Executive Development Associates, Inc. conducts a survey every other year to understand the trends, growth, and evolution of executive development.

The group was surprised to see a shift in the top hot topic of executive development away from leadership, as it had been for over 20 years. Now ‘critical thinking’ has become the top issue that has executive leaders concerned.

Many companies are making critical thinking a part of their culture by implementing Lean thinking. The core idea of Lean thinking is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste   The concept has a goal to problem solve until perfect value is provided to their customer, through a value-added process that has zero waste. It works to ultimately encourage businesses to never stop looking for ways to improve their businesses, the value they give to customers, and saving as many resources as possible across multiple areas and systems of the company.

At one time, Lean thinking was considered to be most important for the manufacturing industry. Yet determining how to add value while stripping waste can and does apply to every business and every system or process, and Lean thinking is now spreading across all industries and services including healthcare and government.

These groups are applying Lean principles as the way they think and perform in every part of their jobs. Their Lean processes may be branded differently so that the company can feel an ownership of the process. The process becomes an operational philosophy that dramatically improves on those big critical thinking issues.

Regardless of where your business is, the concepts of Lean thinking can stimulate the way your associates develop their critical thinking skills. You don’t have to know all the ins and outs of Lean thinking to start applying the concepts to your work and business – check out this simple cheat sheet.

Already applying Lean techniques to your business? Share with us how you’ve been effective.

Leadership Independence

Leadership Independence

Few celebrations have the opportunity to teach us as much about leadership and independence as the 4th of July- when the USA celebrates our national independence.

The historical significance, the innovative leadership behind the birth of our nation, and the continued call for courageous action towards the futures of ourselves, our communities, and the companies we lead, make Independence Day an important time for reflection.

We can certainly reflect on the wisdom received from each of our leaders throughout history. Our desire to be an independent nation was driven by a certainty that we could be:

  • operating from a place of self-reliance
  • resourceful in creating a long term approach
  • demonstratingopennessand acceptance
  • adapting to an ever-changing environment

Are you taking similar approaches with yourleadership approaches?

You might consider these practices with your leadership independence:

  1. You Are Here (where the buck stops) – Being a great leader means taking responsibility and ownership by giving every situation your best-foot-forward no matter how difficult or conflicted a situation may appear.
  2. Assess Your Resources – Effective leaders take stock of what is available to them in their relationships, resources, and tools – and leverage these assets to achieve their goals and those of their organization.
  3. Be Open – Accurately assess nuances and sudden changes. It is important to put practices in place to remain open to options and new ways of doing business so we are consistently focused on the best solutions available.
  4. Encourage Others – Help your teams discover how their own independence can benefit each other and the collective team.

Leadership and independence are relevant to each other – being able to separate oneself from challenging circumstances to find unbiased solutions that benefit the greater good requires disciplined thinking and action.

Yes, these extra steps and planning may seem like additional work on an ever-growing to-do list, yet this reminds me of something Thomas Jefferson said: “The harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”

Enjoy your Leadership Independence and have a Happy and Safe 4th of July!

The Leadership Gap – Building a Bridge

The Leadership Gap – Building a Bridge

Everyday more corporate leaders are retiring. In fact, the U.S. is facing the retirement of 33 million baby boomers by 2020, leaving a rather large and potentially threatening leadership gap for businesses to fill. The process of filling the leadership gap will not accommodate the time commitment needed for training the next generation of leaders.  Additional studies show that only 11% of employees are interested in pursuing C-level leadership positions critical to the success of an organization.

With these tough challenges, companies may need to take a “bamboo” approach to training. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants in the world but only after it takes time to develop a robust root system. This system protects and supports the plant’s longevity, heartiness, and strength.  The bamboo becomes tough to uproot and the plant’s growth becomes explosive.

Companies can be like bamboo and develop a root system that will support them well into the future.Start by considering who the future leaders could be in your company. Who would shoot to higher levels of leadership with the right mentoring and training? Next, gather input throughout your organization, sister companies and trusted partners on the type, style, and execution of the training most relevant. Getting feedback lays the ground work to give a leadership training program that extra boost it needs to be successful. Consider how you might leverage mobile tools, personalization, and the ability to be flexible to help meet the user experience preferred by Millennials to drive engagement and follow through.

Once you have areas of growth identified, consider leveraging subject matter experts from in and outside of the organization to develop and deliver training materials. Keep the lines of feedback flowing and adapt as needed. Through this and other exploratory training and continued learning, your company can begin to tend to its next generation of leaders and grow them to become wonderful assets.

Most importantly, start your transition planning now. On an individual basis, consider how you can stretch your own mentoring skills and seek to teach potential prodigies to lead your organization in its next pursuits. Support them in growing deep strong roots as leaders in your company. If you’re a Millennial and are inspired to lead, seek out a mentor to help you identify your areas of strength and opportunities for growth.

Is your company ready to start a training program targeted to the future leaders in your organization? BBD is here to support you in understanding and executing training and coaching to help your business bridge the leadership gap.

Making Training a Priority

Making Training a Priority

Between the many emails, meetings, and random tasks that have not yet made it on a “to do” list, continuing to enhance your skills as a leader can be a difficult area to give focus. Whether you are responsible for developing yourself, or yourself and leaders in your company, having a plan to stay fresh on your professional skills needs to be at the top of your “to do” list rather than an after-thought.

Leadership begins with a natural or adopted desire to serve others by taking responsibility for creating and delivering on a high level of quality.  Leaders share their quality vision throughout their teams and organizations to bring clarity to how quality will be achieved throughout the business’ operations. Taking time to develop a training program helps ensure you’ll accomplish the expression of quality and that you’ll do so consistently across all points of leadership.

With the motive for training firm, leadership development programs are most successful when they include the following simple elements.

1). Leadership requires adaptability and so should your training programs

Circumstances change every day and require leadership agility in order to assess the situation, evaluate options, and determine the best course of action. The most effective leadership training programs are not rigid rather they allow for the flexibility to change message as the company and leaders grow. One way to ensure your training is on point is to ask the receivers of the training about their biggest challenges.  Develop relationships with sister organizations and understand what their key challenges and training approaches are. Review the training and challenges consistent across your industry. Taking inspiration from these 3 sources will help you identify consistent themes that likely need training focus.

2). Make training a scheduled priority and it will get done

Develop and commit to a schedule for monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, and annual training as appropriate for your business. The content of the training will change with each session but scheduling the training ensures it’s on the calendar and time is set aside to accomplish it. Set aside 8-16 hour increments to minimize distractions and ensure your team blocks off full days for training.

3). Bring in experts to get the best results

Once you know the when and what of the training consider the best sources of information on the key topics. Involve team members knowledgeable on the subjects as well as outside consultants and teachers. This is one of the many areas where BBD can help. We develop customized and out-of-the box training on a variety of relevant leadership skills and practices.  Bringing in outside expects can help bring a fresh perspective to your training and helps increase information retention.

4). Evaluate, ask for feedback and incorporate the learnings

At the end of each training sessions, make sure you have a method of collecting feedback from the training participants. Be open to the information you receive and consider ways to further improve the subject and execution of your training.  Your team will enjoy feeling that you were open to hearing their opinion and will feel like they have more invested in the training. Monitor if the training is effective by establishing metrics for its impact. Metrics should be measurable and relevant to your team specifically. If you are training as an individual, perform your own review of the information you received and document your thoughts on the benefits. Is the training beneficial? Do you feel more prepared than you did prior to the training?

While you are working on training for yourself and your team, consider ways of getting outside of your norm to get new insights on a consistent basis. Look for training events, webinars and luncheons that fit with your needs and schedule. If you are in the Minnesota area, attend our next LIFT event. Visit to get the details and to register http://beyondbbd.com/lift-events/.  While you are at it, seek out additional reading and resources to further expand your knowledge of training techniques and approaches available to you as well. You might start by checking out 5 Ways to Train Yourself to be a great leader.  

Leadership lessons from our Armed Services

Leadership lessons from our Armed Services

Self-awareness comes from honestly assessing where you are, what is possible and your opportunity to create change.  We admire and look to businesses and organizations that have observed their own operations and seen opportunities to step up their game even when it seems daunting and success isn’t guaranteed.

One organization that receives a great deal of attention when it comes to leadership and weathering change is our military. The last three decades have marked an important time of reflecting, research and ultimately re-thinking leadership within the U.S. military.  With new information, our military has worked to recreate systems of thinking that support leadership decision-making when challenges arrive.

Armed Services Day, celebrated annually the third Saturday of May,inspired us at BBD to take a look at the key leadership lessons we can use that are proven military tactics.

The faster our lives and world moves, the more emphasis is placed on leadership agility.  The U.S. military introduced the term VUCA,the acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. VUCA soon became a code to help leaders be aware of 4 types of challenging situations that will require a thoughtful and self-aware response.

Do those sound like characteristics of situations you might be facing regularly as a leader?

While it’s helpful to be aware that VUCA is probably going to find each and every leader, perhaps even on a daily basis, the next step to being a great leader is having a plan to respond.  The U.S. Military provides a training doctrine to help leaders anticipate issues, assess interdependent variables, prepare for challenges, and capitalizes on relevant opportunities.

What is practiced and drilled in will be applied in a crisis.

For those of us who have not had the benefit of this level of training to manage change but are hungry for effective leadership tools, the Harvard Business Review published a guide to help leaders from any organization to take intelligent action in response to VUCA situations.

The guide for action is based on how much the leader knows about the situation and how well the leader can predict the results.  Interpreting where a VUCA challenge lives on the spectrum is the first step. The model then provides recommended action and techniques for each situation. These are worth knowing and having in your toolbox regardless of the types of challenges you face as a leader.  With a little practice, you’ll be ready to respond effectively to any challenge.

With it can also come new energy and concepts that flow into all our efforts including our professional lives. Soon our businesses, institutions and organizations begin to be impacted by our new thinking.

Isn’t now the time for new thinking and leading?