Values

Rules of Engagement for a CULTURE of Success

Laura Novakowski  -  Jun 13, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

A business of the future will not be successful because of a fat the bottom line,  behemoth size,  community or political power. Instead, the  business of the future will be successful because of the culture.   Culture is defined asthe attitudes and behavior that are characteristic of a particular social group or organization.” (Source: www.wordnetweb.princeton.edu)

Often, organizations espouse that they  deliver high quality products or services to  their clients, engage in superior relations with their stakeholders and  employees, and are always, always in touch with their environment and community needs. That being said, does every “attitude and behavior” support such an espousal?

Without a positive and powerful culture, even the best business strategy will certainly fail.  As with any plan, knowing and implementing the best rules of engagement can certainly set the stage for success.

Here are 7 rules of engagement for a CULTURE of success

1. Communication.  John Milton, author of the 17th century epic poem Paradise Lost, once wrote,  “Good, the more communicated, the more abundant grows.” Organizations, misguided as they sometimes can be, still have intention of doing some good, adding some value, making a contribution. The rule of communication is to convey the strategy, philosophy and principles of the organization thus affording each individual the opportunity to buy in and participate at a much more significant level.  Engaging communication includes at a minimum the following:

  • A clearly defined vision
  • Clearly defined values which are described in terms of attitudes and behaviors

When this information is shared, the culture can rally around a common cause.

2. Understanding – “Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” has been attributed to many sources from the Bible to Stephen Covey. This basic tenant is so obvious that it is often overlooked. From the boardroom to the basement, every level the team must fully understand two primary functions:

  • The expectations of the organization
  • Each individual’s  role

There is no way success can be achieved if expectations are not fully understood. All too often, unclear roles encroach and invade. Full understanding cuts down on confusion.

3. Leadership – Former president of ITT corporation once wrote,  “Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitudes and actions.” Leadership has tremendous power. It sets the tone and influences results.  It has been reported that the two primary functions of leadership are to:

  • Set the objectives
  • Set the policy

Without objectives and policies, organizations for employees, stakeholders and even clients it is like setting people adrift in a boat with no destination, supplies or tools and expecting them to be resourceful enough to get there.

4. Teach – “We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover within themselves.” was one of the greatest messages that Galileo Galilei left as a legacy to the world. A teaching culture:

  • conveys that the work environment is a reciprocal one of learning and teaching
  • supports growth and experimentation

Teaching people to treat their jobs as a opportunity for  discovery is a great motivator.

5. Unite – Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Uniting is all about team building. Ford certainly had his own methods for getting people to work together which quite honestly doesn’t work very well. Today’s team needs:

  • to be treated as an asset, not a liability
  • to be respected and appreciated for strengths and talents

Even the assembly line process becomes more effective when the person working on the line shares insights and ideas to enhance existing systems.  The more a culture respects the team, the more the team operates in a synergistic, powerful manner.

6. Responsibility – “Responsibility finds a way. Irresponsibility makes excuses!” provided by Gene Bedley, – National Educator Of The Year.  The surest way to success is to ensure a  culture of accountability. In this culture, the expectations have been defined and two things always happen:

  • positive attitudes, behaviors and goals are rewarded
  • consequences are consistently conveyed and acted upon when attitudes and behaviors are negative and goals are not met

In a professional organization, the responsible employees are valued and valuable. The irresponsible or less than productive employee is held accountable, given support and direction as needed, and when still not meeting the organizational objectives and strategy are given the opportunity to part ways from the organization. This is perhaps one of the hardest rules to follow, but is absolutely the most imperative.

7. Engagement – “Denied The Opportunity To Use Their Talent, Imagination And Creativity For The Benefit Of The System They Will Be Equally Ingenious Working Against It.” from the authors of  Growing Your Own Heroes; The Commonsense Way to Improve Business Performance, John J. Oliver and Clive Memmott.  Gallup published a study in 2005 that revealed astonishing results.  The cost of disengagement as you can see is staggering.

In conclusion, the rules for building a culture for success are simple, they are just not easy.

The Power of Strategy – Design a Masterpiece

Laura Novakowski  -  May 30, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

“What do you want to achieve or avoid?  The answers to this question are objectives. How will you go about achieving your desired results? The answer to this you can call strategy.”

William E. Rothschild

William E. Rothschild is a former executive from General Electric. In his role as Corporate Strategist, he created the first “market driven Corporate Strategy.”  Using this approach, according to Rothschild, GE for the last two decades has consistently had been described as having “the best inventors, the best strategic planners, and the best results.”

Whether we are planning a trip to the market, a vacation, a day at work…, we are always has to quote Stephen Covey “an end in mind.”  Now that “end” may be to fill the refrigerator, plan for vacation, deliver the product or service. While that certainly gives us some kind of results, are they the best results? Are you exhilarated with the results you’re getting? Can you see the value of identifying the results you want and then filling in the picture, rather than the other way around?

One of the greatest strategists of all times was Michelangelo. He depicts a highly focused professional who valued quality and achieved amazing results. When Michelangelo worked, he clearly used strategic thinking and planning.  When asked how he could carve such beautiful statues, his reply was, “it’s already in there.” He saw the results prior to even lifting his tools to work.   He wasn’t just banging away at some granite to up with such great masterpieces as Moses, David or the Pieta, he used purpose, thought and planning.

Let’s imagine this great artist’s process. First, he saw the granite.  He considered form, structure, faults and strengths. Slowly a vision and mission came to mind and Michelangelo could start planning his approach to achieve his results.   Next, he determined what was critical to creating his product.  What tools did he required? Where would he do the work? Who might assist him (moving granite might take some help)? What would it cost in time, money and energy? Yet, he still had not raised a chisel, for if he did, I’m sure that would have altered his results.

After he thought about his overall strategy, vision, mission and critical results, he next set goals.  Goals that were results focused,  motivating and achievable. He knew exactly what he wanted and then he started his action plan – the hair, the eyes, the nose, the beard…  All predetermined actions which embraced his values of beauty and perfection. Michelangelo envisioned beauty, integrity, passion, courage, commitment to high standards with incredible details. The results – a masterpiece!

The people, in my experience that are the most successful, the most energized, the most fulfilled, are the people who know their personal and professional vision. Why not strive for a masterpiece in your life? At the end of everyday, how powerful it can be see everyone generate a wonderful piece of art, a rewarding service or an outstanding, quality product. Engage a strategy that will help you to see and then design your masterpieces too!

A Positive Power Choice

Laura Novakowski  -  May 15, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Some Positive Tips from Top Coaches

Laura Novakowski  -  Apr 21, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

“Courage is the discovery that you many not win,  and trying when you know you can lose.”  ~ Tom Krause

“The difference between the possible and the impossible lies in a person’s determination.” ~ Tommy Lasorda

“Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit.” ~ Vince Lombardi

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” ~John Wooden

“A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.” Pat Riley

“Some people think they are concentrating when they’re merely worrying.” ~ Bobby Jones

 

 

Focus on What You Can Control

Laura Novakowski  -  Apr 11, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Over the years, I have asked people what they believe have affected their ability to attain personal and/or professional success.  The answers range from “Day Light savings time”, “My boss doesn’t like me,” or “I wasn’t born rich,” to “I didn’t ask the right questions,” “I didn’t listen,” I failed to ask for what I really wanted.” 

When I asked myself, I started to realize that my answers would have been similar causing me to lose focus and to scatter all my time, talent and energy all over the map. Fortunately, I have some great colleague and mentors that connected me with a great concept that I would like to share with you.  The concept is called the Sphere of Control/Sphere of Influence and has proven to be invaluable to me to focus and achieve amazing results.

This idea was adapted from a very dear colleague George Richardson, President of the Profectus Service Organization. He and others that have mentored me over the years helped me to adopt and adapt this concept quickly and easily and really focus.

Starting inside, your Sphere of Control causes you to focus on, concentrate on and spend your energy on what you can control, what you can do something about.”  In this sphere, you identify your own purpose and dreams. Not someone else’s.  Next you make decisions, set goals, take action and focus on your own performance and behaviors to get you closer to being on purpose and achieving your dreams. When I decided to intentionally focus on what I could and would control my entire life shifted.  Relationships improved, projects came together, business started flowing and I really love my life and my profession.

Next, in your Sphere of Influence, you now have more opportunities to be an example of extraordinary leadership. A simple, one word definition of leadership is influence. In the influence realm, you serve as an example, showing attributes such as support, cooperation, collaboration and persuasion.  Because you have focused on what is within your own control, your own attitude and behaviors, the rest takes care of itself. I cannot make it stop raining, nor can I make someone like me. When my focus immediately shifts back to I can control my response to the weather and to some else’s response and reaction to me, life gets a whole lot easier.

The last arena in this concept is the Outside of Your Sphere of Control or Influence. The only focus or attention you give this area is to DROP IT!  You can’t control or influence it anyway so why waste your energy?

A very simple approach – Focus on What You Can Control!

Generate Results That Catapult You Forward

Laura Novakowski  -  Mar 21, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Zig Ziglar, whom many considered to be not only an expert salesperson, but an inspirational individual, once remarked that “Every choice you make has an end result.”

Reviewing results is an ongoing process, an opportunity to review the choices we have made. Some of those choices may have resulted in exceptional accomplishments, while others possibly failed and caused us to “hit the mark.” Why not look at your current results to identify what is holding you back.

Taking the time to identify the wins are indescribable. The value of evaluating the counterproductive thoughts and behaviors can help us course adjust. The emotional highs that we receive in many cases helps to sustain us through those emotional lows.

The evaluation begins by first about some key questions that help us evaluate how our thoughts have affected, positively or negatively, our success in life and work. Next, we can reflect on how our choices have affected our ability to catapult ourselves forward and achieve amazing results.

Quote:  “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”  Buddha

The questions:

  •  What is my purpose in work and life?
  • What gifts do I bring to the table?
  • What behaviors do I consistently demonstrate that help me to achieve success?
  • What behaviors do I consistently demonstrate that hold me back from achieving success?
  • What does the big picture of my work currently look like?
  • What does success mean for me both personally and professionally?
  • What are some of my dreams?What are some of my goals?
  • How have I succeeded?
  • Where have I fallen short?

By taking the time to answer these questions, you have taken the first steps to catapult yourself forward.  These questions can help you to stay on target, make better decisions and take much more focused action. You are becoming more aware of your thoughts and choices to best determine how they affect your actions. Now, you will generate the different and better results to fit YOUR life and work. This can catapult you forward towards extraordinary success.

One Brick at a Time

Laura Novakowski  -  Mar 14, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

I don‘t know what my calling is,
but I want to be here for a bigger reason.
I strive to be like the greatest people who have ever lived.
Will Smith.


We are surrounded by limiting factors. Not enough money, costs are on the rise – health costs, fuel costs, life and work costs. It may almost seem better to cut back and limit. I would like to suggest that we change that mental paradigm and see each challenge, whether real or imagined, as an opportunity to find our own greatness
.

One of my favorite videos on You Tube is Will Smith’s Wisdom – this is a much watched video -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSK_Likqv24 . One story that Will shares is a story about his father and building a wall. Smith’s father instructs Will and his younger brother to build a wall. At first this seems like a daunting task, and then these two children – Will was 12 and his brother younger laid one brick at a time and in 18 months built a wall.

What a gift, Mr. Smith gave to his young sons. This wall stands today because two mere children were given a job and decided to lay one brick at a time. It didn’t occur to them that the wall couldn’t be built and so they built it.

Now, it only takes one kind word or expression of gratitude to change a relationship for the better. It only takes one dollar at a time to create an investment program. It only one word at a time to write a book. It one brush stroke at a time to paint a masterpiece.

If two small children can build a brick wall in eighteen months,than I certainly can improve my work, my life, my community “one brick at a time.” How about you?

To Succeed in Business – Raise Your Awareness

Laura Novakowski  -  Mar 07, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

One of the biggest attractors or detractors for success in business and  is our level of awareness.  To offer some insight into how to create a backdrop for increasing our awareness, I would like to share some insights from one of the most renowned humanistic psychologists of all times, Dr. Abraham Maslow.  As a humanist psychologist , he believed that a person who heightens their awareness  become “fully functioning,” “healthy,” and  “self-actualizing.” These three attributes are essential to success in life and business.

Here are  10 points that Dr. Maslow believed optimized these attributes:

  1. Be authentic. Be genuine and transparent  in communication and behaviors in a way that people fully understand.  Saying one thing and doing another, leads to confusion and chaos.
  2. Transcend cultural conditioning. Become world citizens.  Move outside of your comfort zone. Appreciate and learn from all cultures, rather than being trapped by one.
  3. Discover your calling, fate or destiny. Assess your talents, your passions and your interests. Take assessments that increase your understanding of your behaviors (DISC), , motivators (Values Index) and patterns of thinking (Attribute Index). Diagnostics can and will help to discover what is important and appropriate to pursue in life and business.
  4. Know that life is precious, that there is joy to be experienced in life.   People want and need to be happy and full of hope.  Even in tough situations, finding the pleasure and promise of growth and contribution often makes the job much more pleasurable and rewarding.
  5. Accept others as they are and help them to learn their inner nature. From real knowledge of aptitudes and limitations you can know what to build upon; what potentials are really available for you. The same with people. Not all partners,  employees, clients work out.  Accept them where they are. Offer guidance if asked or required. Provide assistance to exit a situation that doesn’t fit style, capabilities or interests.
  6. See that basic needs are satisfied. This includes safety, sense of belonging and esteem needs. When we are aware that we have basic needs, we can appreciate that one hundred percent of the population has the same basic needs. When these needs are met obstacles become opportunities and conflict becomes collaboration.
  7. Refresh consciousness.   Appreciate that every situation has some good, some bad and even some ugly going on.  Reviewing conversations and critiquing business processes helps raise awareness of important issues, challenges and opportunities.
  8. Controls are good. It takes control to improve the quality and balance of and in business and life. Setting benchmarks and matrix help to give focus and direction.
  9. Transcend the trifling problems and grapple with the serious problems in life. These include the problems of injustice, pain, suffering, and death. I once knew a nurse turned interior designer who often said to her clients,Let’s keep this decision in perspective.  Hanging curtains in not life or death. Deciding when to pull the plug,  now, that’s life or death.
  10. Be good choosers. You must practice to learn to make more powerful and positive choices. The key word here is practice. Test your choices. Run your decisions by valued and trusted mentors, colleagues or friends .  Generate congratulations and rewards for success. Evaluate the losses, make changes and move on.

Ten great ways to raise your awareness  from Dr. Maslow to help lead your business and life to success.

Source:  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from Psychology – The Search for Understanding by Janet A. Simons, Donald B. Irwin and Beverly A. Drinnien

Build a Culture for Success

Laura Novakowski  -  Feb 29, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

One of the most common complaints that I hear from business leaders is about the attitudes of their employees. Backstabbing, backbiting and backbreaking behaviors are tearing companies apart. As a result, business and service suffer.

Interestingly enough, when asked how these same leaders deal with such attitudes, the answers become punish them, avoid them or seek to understand and work with them. I would love to say that understanding and working with them is the most common choice, however experience tells me otherwise.

 

Although in the minority, successful leaders  do find ways to  build a culture for success.

Here are five tips  that successful leaders use to build a culture for success:

  1. Lead rather than manage people. To paraphrase Peter Drucker, “we manage things and lead people.” People are not objects. Trying to move people around like pieces on a chess board will only lead to frustration and disappointment.  Leadership is about expanding positive actions and change. Not controlling or limiting.
  2. Capitalize on talents. People are hired for their ability to do the job.  At least, one who hope that we are not hiring a warm body out of desperation.  Given guidance and direction, complainers become communicators, hiders become researchers and reviewers, saboteurs become innovators.
  3. Provide a focus.  Share and discuss the basic fundamentals of the business: the vision, mission and values. This does not mean emails or memo’s as a reminder. This means investing time to meet face-to-face, to ensure that people can internalize, interpret and digest the fundamentals of the business.
  4. Demand accountability.  Serving as framework,  job descriptions are used to build individual accountability.  First, successful leaders share the business objectives to assist employees to establish goals and action plans. Secondly, timely feedback helps to determine if the employee is on track.  This is not an annual event, but rather, an ongoing commitment to rewarding success and catching problems or failures.
  5. Listen and take action.  Many companies fail because employees don’t feel involved. The industrial age is long gone. The knowledge age is passing. This is the age of applying knowledge and employee engagement.  Learn to listen for what is not said as well as what is said. Ask for what might be left on said. Follow up on complaints. And, take action on suggestions.

A true  story about listening and taking action:

A consultant once solved a problem by leaving a board room and venturing into the basement. Absenteeism was up, productivity down, customer complaints were up and profitability was off by millions of dollars.

He sought out and interviewed some  maintenance staff and learned that air quality in the building was being affected by a faulty piece of equipment.    

“How long has this been going on?” the consultant asked.

The response, “More then a year.”

Whom did you talk with?”  he asked.

Everyone.

Lastly, he asked, “How much to fix?”

The reply, “Forty thousand dollars.” 

The consultant returned to the board room and shared the information.  The president was astonishedHe immediately completed a repair request.

The consultant followed up a few months later to follow up.   Absenteeism was down, productivity was up and profitability was ahead of schedule. The president rather sheepishly thanked the consultant for his assistance.  He also admitted that he now knew that value of listening to little complaints. He realized that often they were symptoms of an easy fix, rather than letting it lead to a costly impacts on the business.

In summary, lead people, rather than manage, capitalize on talent, provide a focus, demand accountability, listen and take action can and often will lead you to building a culture for success.

 

 

 

Making Strategy an Accelerator, Not an Anchor

Laura Novakowski  -  Feb 08, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  Comments Off on Making Strategy an Accelerator, Not an Anchor

How does the success business use strategy as an accelerator, not an anchor?

Businesses today have an opportunity to use strategy to their advantage. Whether we take an advantage of using our strategy to move our businesses towards growth and success. Or, use that strategy to hold us back – now those becomes interesting options.

Let’s investigate some accelerators and anchors…

Accelerators:

  • Change the business perspective – Just because last year had marginal results doesn’t mean the strategy for the next year is “fixing” all the old problems.  Get out of the office, the building. Got on a retreat, go to a play ground, or go kayaking.  Make it fun. Make it positive. Dream big!
  • Create a mastermind group – Reach into your vast network, or expand it, and find 4 to 7 successful, positive and energized individuals that would like to share ideas, help solve problems and serve as sounding boards for crazy and sometimes desperate ideas.  Masterminding can be done face to face or via telephone of Skype. Whatever the venue chosen be faithful, be committed and be collaborative.
  • Share your strategy. Communicate your strategy with each and every partner, investor, employee or interested party. Write it speak it. Sing it if you can. The more your strategy is shared the more likely you will succeed.
  • Strategy is a foundation not a prison. Last, but not least, be focused and yet flexible. The strategy may be a good one and yet something may come along that can galvanize you and your business to another level. Be open to suggestions and ideas.

Anchors:

  • Myopia – trying to solve the problem with the same mind that created it, to paraphrase Albert Einstein.
  • Isolationism – failing to reach out for help, feedback and/or objective assistance
  • Insulate – detaching and hiding in a cocoon. Holding the strategy so close that no one has any idea what you and your business are trying to achieve.
  • Rigid – the strategy cannot and will not be deviated from. Clients are leaving. It’s their problem – the strategy is just fine. Employees offering new ideas. Shut the door and shut out success.

Interesting dilemma, wouldn’t you agree. Comments on how to make strategy an accelerator, not an anchor, would be greatly appreciated.

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