5 Symptoms of the Anorexic Organization

Healthy organizations have some fat.

The “Lean Organization” has been a hot concept in recent years, but no one is talking about what happens when it becomes an unhealthy obsession for some leaders.

I’m calling it the Anorexic Organization.

Before you think I’m making light of a serious disorder, please note that  I’ve had a very close family member go through an eating disorder.  It’s no laughing matter.

People with eating disorders seek to control their world by overexercising and not giving their bodies the support and fuel it needs.  It is a very miserable situation and can lead to death.

Is your organization anorexic?

Here are the 5 symptoms to watch for:

1) The organization cuts people on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly, etc.) .

2) They don’t hire more people when sales are growing.

3) The leaders continue to push their team to be faster, smarter, and more productive, even though they are past their breaking point.

4) People are consistently leaving for horizontal career moves.

5) When someone leaves a full-time position, the position may not be filled right away.

 

Never before have such unrealistic expectations been placed on team members. Increasing productivity comes at a cost.

You can’t focus on growing if you’re focused on cutting.  You can’t cut your way to marketing leadership.

  • Cutting leaders means following.
  • Cutting innovators means stagnation.
  • Cutting support people means your team and clients feel less important.

It’s time to hire again.

Have a healthy night,

Aaron @Biebert

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When Leadership Doesn’t Matter

Leadership doesn’t matter if…

  • You don’t need to innovate
  • No one competes with your group
  • Everything is automated
  • There is no turnover in staff
  • Everyone knows what your company does

Congrats to those of you who don’t need leadership in your organization.

That’s really neat.

Organizations that don’t value leadership won’t be here in a couple years to need it.  Interesting how that works…

For the rest of us, it’s time to innovate, strategize, recruit, and envision.

Nevertheless, I’m continually surprised by how many managers don’t lead, how many companies cut down their leadership ranks to save money, and how many leaders don’t bother to lead themselves higher first.

Difficult times call for stronger leaders.  We need you tonight.

Have a leadership night,

Aaron@Biebert

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4 Leadership Skills Every Organization Should Teach

Everyone is a leader of something.

With skeleton crews and new leaders everywhere I look, leadership has never been more important for your organization.   To make an organization successful, we all must lead and it’s not as simple as giving orders, training, or asking for daily TPS reports.

Here are four skills that every leadership-centered organization should teach to their valuable staff members:

1) Self Leadership

It starts with you. If you can’t lead yourself, you can’t lead others.

This one is easy to understand, yet so hard to execute sometimes.  I still can’t get myself to do things I need to do sometimes (shhhh, don’t tell anyone).  Self leadership is the base for every great organization and should be widely understood.

Anyone looking to advance their career must lead themself first.

2) Delegation

Classic leadership.  You pick tasks that need to be done and ask one of your direct report team members to do it.  Simple, right?  The three big challenges are knowing what to delegate, how to communicate, and letting go after you delegate.

(Disclosure: This one requires people to report to you.  Don’t delegate to peers or higher level leaders.  It doesn’t work well.)

3) Empowerment

This is simple.  You hire/keep good people and get out of their way.  You don’t tell them what to do (delegate), but instead set a vision for what goals need to be met. The hardest part?  Hiring the right person.

Higher level leaders must learn to empower their best team members and delegate everything that isn’t a core function.  Then they can focus on the leadership activities that make an organization soar: vision setting, relationship building, collaboration with others, and self leadership.

Yes, self leadership.

The funny thing about empowerment is that in order for it to be successful, the person being empowered needs to keep working on self leadership. The higher you go, the fewer people telling you what to do.

Self leadership isn’t just for the entry-level.

4) Collaboration

This one isn’t usually included as a leadership function, but I think it should be.  

It’s a hybrid of self leadership and empowerment between two or more leaders.  On one hand, you empower the other party, help set a vision, and then get out of the way.  On the other, you lead yourself to complete your side of the collaboration.

It’s a sort of shared leadership that requires a lot of skill to keep a collaboration moving forward without hurting egos or losing vision.  We’ll see even more demand for this leadership skill as more and more small business leaders look for inter-organizational synergies.

Summary

I truly believe “leadership” is not just for the top people in an organization.

Every member of your team should become proficient at one of more of these leadership skills.  Entry level team members with an eye on promotion need to be self leaders.  When those same entry level leaders work with other self leaders, they need to become skilled at collaborating.

An organization of leaders will be a leading organization.

Be a leader tonight,

Aaron@Biebert

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6 Reasons Why “Conflicted” is Good for Your Life and Organization

If you want to do great things in life, being conflicted is good.

My last blog post and the one before it had a lot of generous people asking to help me because I seem conflicted.  It’s true that I’m conflicted sometimes, but here are six reasons why that’s a good thing.

1)  Conflicted means you don’t trust yourself

If you’re internally conflicted, it means you’ve realized you’re not always right.  That’s smart.  I’ve made many mistakes and the day I stop watching myself with a leery eye is the day I accept failure.  Anyone who trusts themselves completely is on their way to disaster.

Whether it’s personally or as a team, it’s important to regularly question your practices, ideas, and policies in a changing world.  The day you stop questioning is the day you fall behind.

2)  Conflicted people are moving.

By nature, a “conflicted” person is in a state of unrest and is more likely to be moving. Somewhere.  Once you stop, it’s hard to start again (inertia) and so successful people learn to keep moving.

3)  Peace is not always a good thing

Peace in an organization is not great for advancement.  In peace, there is groupthink, complacency, and a lack of creativity.  People ask, “Why change a good thing?”

Change is good.

Observe the accomplishments and discoveries that happen when governments or companies are conflicted internally or externally.  Look at the discoveries that NASA made while racing the USSR to space.  Look at the technologies developed while defending our country in World War II.  In conflict, people are forced to be at their best.  It pushes us further.

The same goes for individuals.

4)  Conflicted means you’re learning

Conflicted people or organizations are usually hunting for a resolution.  The act of searching for answers keeps us learning, sharp and educated along the way.

5)  Conflicted is good communication

The world is full of conflicts on the inside and outside.  If you seem conflicted to outsiders, you are doing a good job of communicating reality.  Various studies and my own research show we’re in an age of increased transparency and people prefer to work with people, leaders, and companies that are transparent, vulnerable, and humanized.  If you seem conflicted, you also seem more real, approachable, and trustworthy as long as you keep your emotions in check.

6)  Conflicted means you don’t settle for your first impulse

I think people should change their minds.  Even though your first choice might be right currently, it  may not be correct in 5 days or 5 years.  Settling isn’t a good thing.

 

I realize that this may seem ludicrous to some (peace is bad, conflict is good business, etc.), so I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on the issue.  Good or bad, let’s have a discussion about this topic.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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Build Something that Doesn’t Last

Long-term success depends on one’s attitude.

Creating a strategy is like building a sand castle on the shore. Unfortunately, the tide will always come in and destroy your work.  Just ask every business leader before 705 AD and almost all of them since. Successful leaders must plan for it.

It’s inevitable.

Since nothing lasts forever (especially now), the way to be successful in the long run is to honestly consider a future without your current star product or business model.  No matter how hard it is, you need to start tearing down emotional connections to your successful past endeavors so you can plan ahead.

Don’t make your success a liability.

Just ask Circuit City about Best Buy, Montgomery Ward about Walmart, or Dell about Apple.  They all dominated the other before ultimately losing the lead. Circuit City had big box electronics retail figured out and  Montgomery Ward was famous for their catalogs.  Now my daughter doesn’t even know what a catalog is. Catalogs didn’t last.

Also look at Michael Dell.   He built an amazing company that took “on demand” manufacturing to a whole new level and was the poster child of  the best cost marketing strategy.  I remember reading in 2000 how analysts thought Dell would be hard to beat due to their strategy and economies of scale.  The “moat around them is too wide” they said. 10 years later Dell’s value is down almost 80% even though computer sales are up.

Their strategy didn’t last.

The winners will be companies like Apple, who plan for change because they see that products, companies, and even whole industries don’t last.  Apple didn’t think stand alone music players (iPod) would last, so they developed the iPhone.  They don’t think laptops will last, so they developed the iPad.  They’re building something that doesn’t last…and they know it.

It’s time we all did.

Today it’s time to start thinking about the future, the time when what you’re working on today is obsolete.  Plan for it.  Change before you need to.  Build something that truly lasts.

Have a great night,

Aaron@Biebert

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