What Makes a Great Leader?

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At some point in our careers, most of us have undoubtedly scratched our heads and wondered,  “How on earth did this person obtain this leadership role?” The fact of the matter is that some people in leadership roles don’t belong there. Unfortunately, companies tend to promote employees who are highly trained and have excellent technical skills, but when these employees move into management, they often lack the soft skills necessary to motivate their teams. Hence, they don’t become great leaders. 

In this episode of In Process: Conversations about Business in the 21st Century, hosts Evelyn Ashley and John Monahon of Trusted Counsel speak with Dr. Hans Finzel about leadership. Dr. Finzel is an author, speaker and trusted authority in the leadership field and the author of 10 books on leadership. With a doctorate in leadership studies, Dr. Finzel is a respected teacher globally. In his new book “Top Ten Ways to Be a Great Leader,” he uses the letters in the word LEADERSHIP to present the 10 essential skills that he believes every new leader must master.

Don’t do what comes naturally - you’ll be a poor leader
Dr. Finzel’s fascination with leadership stems from a negative experience he had in the workplace as a young professional. “When I finished grad school and went to work, I was such an excited young man and I ended up having a boss who made my life miserable. I thought to myself, how can I have so much passion and vision and have this person stand in my way with their horrible leadership skills and, why are they the boss?! If I ever get the chance to be a leader of anything, I don’t want to be THAT kind of a leader. So, that’s when I started studying leadership.”

Dr. Finzel believes that many of us don’t lead well because we’ve simply had bad role models in both our personal and professional lives. “Therefore, when it becomes our turn to lead, we simply replicate those poor leadership skills that we’ve witnessed. Also, many of us don’t lead well because as human beings we’re naturally self-centered, and looking out for ourselves first.” Great leadership, according to Dr. Finzel is not about me -  it’s about we.    

If everyone was a leader, it would be a horrible world
Dr. Finzel defines leadership with one word: influence. “If you influence others, you are leading them.  Every time you influence someone to take an action, positive or negative, you are leading that person.”

Leadership according to Dr. Hans Finzel
In his new book, “Top Ten Ways to Be a Great Leader,” Dr. Finzel uses the 10 letters in the word LEADERSHIP to present the essential skills that he believes every new leader must master.

Here’s the run-down of the list for L-E-A-D-E-R-S-H-I-P:

“L” is for listen and learn
According to Dr. Finzel, listening and learning are the most important skills that every leader needs to possess. “People hate to follow leaders that never listen and they also don't like to follow leaders that aren't willing to learn.”  

“E” stands for emotional intelligence
Known as EQ – as opposed to IQ (which is our intelligence quotient). According to 2016 research conducted by LeadershipTraQ, performance success in leadership is one-third IQ and two-thirds EQ. Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient (often interchanged) are the soft skills used in work and in life, such as interacting with a big room of people and having strong interpersonal relationships. A leader that possesses a high EQ is able to recognize their own and other people's emotions well, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately. The leader then uses the emotional information to guide his or her thinking and behavior, and manages or adjusts emotions to adapt to the situation. So it’s important to work on your EQ.

“A” is for accessibility
Today’s leaders need to be accessible, especially with millennials coming into the workforce who often demand accessibility to their leaders. Gone are the days when leaders could just hide out in their office all day or be on “that” executive floor, away from the rest of the group.

“D” is for determination
Good old-fashioned determination and hard work is the idea here. Don’t try to take short cuts at work because we live in an instant gratification society these days. At work, it just doesn’t work that way.      

“E” is for effective communication
It’s vital to communicate through various channels and multiple times. For instance, while you might think that as a new manager you’re doing a great job of communicating your department updates via email, email open rates are only at 15% (national rate for opens). So add other channels to communicate your department updates, such as team meetings and share the updates on the company intranet site as well.   

“R” is for resilience
Programs, plans and priorities change often these days, so it’s important to stop being so inflexible.

“S” is for servant attitude
Dr. Finzel’s definition of servant leadership is the idea of caring more about the good of the team than one’s own enrichment. He says to think of it in the following way. “If you help the people that work for you to accomplish their goals, then your own goals will be accomplished.” That’s a good thing.

“H” is for hands-off delegation
Dr. Finzel explains that the more intelligent and the more gifted you are, the harder it is to delegate. He believes that it’s part of a leader’s job to mentor others and to develop them. So if you delegate, and keep your “hands off,” you are mentoring.

“I” is for integrity
People will follow leaders who have integrity.

“P” is for the power of humility
Humility is not a weakness, but an attitude that recognizes that you are not the most important person. Great companies are led by humble leaders.

Follow and master these essential skills and you too will be on your way to becoming an exemplary leader.

Want to get the full conversation on “What Makes a Great Leader?” Stream this episode in the player below. You can also subscribe on iTunes to receive new episodes of In Process Podcast directly on your smartphone.

Are You Still Guilty of Committing Random Acts of Marketing?

Marketing Planning for Growth

Some of the companies with the most efficient operations are also the ones who have the hardest time growing. It’s a counterintuitive idea, but it’s one that has been supported by research and that serves as the basis for this week’s episode of In Process. Joining us on the show this week are Art Saxby and Beth Vanstory. Saxby is the founder of Chief Outsiders, an Executive-as-a-Service firm that allows growing companies to add market-focused senior executives to their leadership teams.  Saxby learned his trade in marketing in brand and project management at Frito-Lay, Kellogg’s, Coca-Cola and Compaq/HP, before engaging as an executive turn-around specialist for companies including Imperial Sugar and Hines Horticulture. Vanstory is a strategy and marketing consultant with Chief Outsiders. An experienced general management and marketing executive, her background crosses consumer and B2B sectors and includes experience in media, retailing, entertainment, and ecommerce.  She launched and led OfficeDepot.com to profitability in one year and also led the new media group at The Weather Channel, bringing weather.com to one of the most visited sites on the web and initiating interactive advertising for the company. 

Both Zaxby and Vanstory came to marketing after building a background in finance—something Saxby laughs off as more of a natural transition than it may seem at first blush.  “It’s a profit game,” says Saxby, noting that many business owners don’t see the way that marketing directly relates to the bottom line. “The real role of marketing is to help lead the company forward and figure out where it can profitably attack the market.”

So why do so many finance-minded business leaders have problems translating those instincts into growth? “If we break down what it takes to run a company and what it takes to grow a company, they really are very different skills. Running a company is about metrics, management, process and procedures—it’s what a lot of business owners spend most of our time focused on. ‘We’ve got to figure out how to get the orders into the system, how to get them out, how to produce the product or deliver the service, get the invoices paid and do it better and better, time and time again, and more efficiently each time. Running a business is extremely important. But that is also really internally focused—it’s inside the four walls.”

What Saxby has found, is that running a very efficient company doesn’t necessarily mean those successful business owners know where to go next. What’s the next market to go into? How do you significantly increase the revenue of the company? Saxby says this is when you have to look outside the company at the marketplace and at the market perspective.

“When you’re looking at someone who comes from that technical background or has a particular subject matter expertise, they tend to focus where they’re comfortable—serving current customers or even working in product development,” says Vanstory. This is where even the most successful entrepreneurs can face obstacles in company growth.

 “Developing a new product without assuring that there’s a need in the marketplace can get you in a lot of trouble,” she says.  Another common mistake she sees in companies is that even businesses with solid marketing staff still lack a strategic marketer on their team. “They don’t have the broad view needed to really identify and evaluate the market or create an effective marketing strategy.”

Get the full conversation on growth tactics and avoiding “random acts of marketing” by streaming the episode in the player below. You can also subscribe on iTunes to receive new episodes of In Process directly on your smartphone.

Best Practices for Managing Cyber Risks

Data Breach

Managing Partner Evelyn Ashley speaks this week at The Morison KSi North America Annual Conference in Boston, MA. Morison KSi is a global association of leading professional service firms, serving the cross-border accounting, auditing, tax and consulting needs of clients. Ashley will be presenting “Managing Cyber Risks: A Legal & Business Plan of Action.”  Below is an excerpt of her presentation for best practices for managing cyber risks.  

Educate and Train Everyone
It’s vital that the “C-Suite” team create a culture of privacy protection. In other words, it’s not just about protecting the client information, but also protecting the company information. Discuss and communicate with your team how data will be collected, used and disseminated. Educate and train your employees and contractors on proper data and technology protection procedures. Provide regular updates to everyone on phishing schemes, and viruses. It’s vital.  

Invest in Technology
Simply said, old technology will make your network vulnerable. So be proactive and update your firewalls regularly as well as your computer passwords. In addition, network and hardware backups should be done at least daily; more frequently is even better. Beware that CPA and Law Firms are targeted for attacks because they are not always up-to-date technically and are very vulnerable.

Have a Data Security Policy
This is a document that is used as part of the training and education process.  Don’t create one simply to have one and then put it away. Remember that it’s a living document. All employees should have access to it and it should be updated periodically.  Also, have your IT department create friendly hack tests and vulnerability tests to your systems.  

Information Storage Limitations
Eliminate data for which your business might not have a real need for.

Get Cyber Insurance
On average, a breach is between 15,000 – 20,000 records. Take in account the cost to correct a record at ~$40.00 per record and it will get very costly. It is well worth looking into and getting insured.