Aligning vision, people
and performance

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33 LinkedIn Tips

When I ask about their LinkedIn presence, I often get puzzled looks from my coaching clients with business development, career advancement and personal brand issues. Now, TAB have brought this HubSpot blog post to us validating why “it pays to pay attention” to your LinkedIn profile. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at these 33 tips brought to us by Ethos3.
*Click on the image to open the infographic in a new window, where you can magnify it to see it better.

6 Succession Planning Tips for Baby Boomers

Unless you’re a serial entrepreneur who started a business with the sole motive of selling it, passing the reins of your company to someone else can take an emotional toll. If you happen to also be part of America’s largest generation of retiring business owners—the baby boomers—finding the right successor has probably been on your mind in recent years.

Perhaps you’re a family business owner deciding how to fairly split assets and responsibility among heirs. In a recent feature for Family Business Magazine, editor Barbara Spector keenly observes some telling statistics from The Alternative Board’s survey of small business owners.

“Less than half (43%) of the family business owners who participated in the TAB study say they are satisfied with their succession plan. About a quarter (24%) admitted to being dissatisfied with their plan, and 33% said they don’t have a succession plan.”

Spector postulates about the 62% of respondents who doubt their business will even remain in the family when they exit, “Perhaps these business owners plan to sell because they doubt their family members are viable successors.”

While it’s estimated that 80% of businesses worldwide are family-owned, there’s a 20% chance yours is not. You may simply be a hard-working sole proprietor seeking a worthy buyer for the company you worked so hard to build. Regardless of who the next owner of your business will be, your focus should be on making decisions now that will set you up for the comfortable retirement you’ve earned.

Executive business coach John F. Dini is the author of Beating the Boomer Bust, which focuses on the unique challenges faced by retiring baby boomer entrepreneurs. Since he’s an expert on succession planning, we asked him the following questions to help provide you with a better exit strategy for your business:

1) What should you consider when choosing a successor?

A successor is often very different from a second in command. For a key employee, you want skills that compliment yours. For a successor, they should be more similar. Often, however, founding owners had the opportunity to learn different aspects of the business as it grew. It may not be reasonable to expect someone who is up to speed in as many areas as the seller currently handles.

2) How can you determine the amount of money you should take when you “cash out”?

Valuation is determined by the industry and the type of buyer. Appraisals are well worth the cost. Many owners lose good opportunities because they value their businesses based on what they need for retirement, what they heard about someone else at a trade show, or because they misunderstand the formulae (for instance, “All small companies sell for five times revenue.”) That’s simply not true.

3) What documents should be part of a succession plan?

If you are planning an internal succession (to family or employees) you will need new employment agreements, stock buy/sell documentation, probably a promissory note defining conditions of payment and security, and perhaps a non-qualified deferred compensation plan for the seller, the prospective buyer, or both.

4) How can you impart the values and culture of the business you’ve built to the next generation?

That is a broad leadership question. In relation to succession, understanding why you run the business the way that you do should be a prerequisite to consideration as a successor.

5) How can you begin stepping away from the business during succession planning?

You need not only a financial plan, but a management succession plan. Ideally, each year that you are still involved should have goals for passing on responsibility for portions of the business.

6) What role should you play in the business once you’ve retired?

As little as possible, and preferably none. Every time you come in the perception of authority shifts. If you trained your successor well, being available as an advisor should be sufficient.

As Mr. Dini points out in his award-winning book, Hunting In A Farmer’s World, “Buyers of any type will pay more for a business that has documented systems, skilled management, and a history of executing according to plan without the owner’s intervention.”

In other words, don’t spend too much time working in your business. Rather, begin phasing yourself out of the daily activities as early as possible and with strategic succession planning. After all, wouldn’t you rather enjoy your golden years on the golf course or at a resort than worrying about every stressful detail that kept you up at night as the owner?

Thanks to TAB for contributing this blog.

Leadership Qualities of Business Owners

How do the qualities of your leadership rank against these owners of privately-held businesses?

*Click on the image to open the infographic in a new window, where you can magnify it to see it better.


If you felt your goal achievement was below 74%, consider John Maxwell’s material on  Developing the Leader Within You.

Becoming a Leader that People Want to Follow

One of the great debates about leadership centers on whether leaders are born or made. A 2012 study by Biola University in Los Angeles found that “the majority of researchers today believe that the origins of leadership go beyond genes and family to other sources. Work experiences, hardship, opportunity, education, role models, and mentors all go together to craft a leader.”

Notice that the study doesn’t disregard the possibility that certain leadership attributes are in-born, just that the fuller picture of leadership involves external factors. Regardless, if you are a leader – or if you aspire to be one – then you need people to follow you…otherwise, you simply aren’t much of a leader. You may have the authority that comes with a leadership position, but do people want to follow you, or do they merely snap into lockstep behind you for a payday, some benefits, and the thrill of corporate pursuit? The answer to this question could mean the difference between years of satisfaction and success, or years of struggle and scraping by.

The Biola study referenced above also noted that “raw material essential in people in order to lead is not scarce,” and that “the lack of needed leaders is a reflection of neglected development, rather than a dearth of abilities” (italics mine). That means that you can craft leadership skills – whether you were born with them or not – and become a leader that people want to follow. Here are three questions every leader needs to ask themselves about their leadership style, along with recommendations for adopting a style that will attract more followers.

1. Are you a visionary, and are you actively pursuing that vision?

Much has been written about the limitations of money and perks to motivate the modern worker (just Google “motivate employees without money” if you don’t believe me; Google will return nearly five million results). For better or worse, the global workforce has changed; a paycheck every two weeks just isn’t enough to get the best effort out of increasingly detached employees anymore. Workers want to feel like they’re conquering Wall Street, hoisting the Lombardi trophy, and storming Mt. Doom all at once. In short, they want to feel like their work matters; they desire a vision that will compel them to give their best effort to achieve a seemingly insurmountable goal. That’s where vision comes in.

Simply put, vision is a picture of your preferred future. Whether it’s making your first million, winning a championship, or destroying the One Ring and freeing Middle Earth, the picture that accompanies that preferred future is the driving force that motivates dreaming, ideating, planning, hard work, and achievement. Effective leaders know how to harness the power of vision to motivate themselves and others when money and perks are tight, or even non-existent (such is the case in almost all startup businesses).

Leadership guru John Maxwell has said that a leader is someone who “knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way,” and that “people buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” Do you have a vision? Do your coworkers and employees know what it is, and do they believe in it – and in your ability to get them there? Everyone likes to ride the rides, but eventually, even the most laid back people want to get somewhere.

2. Are your boots “on the ground?”

One of the great secrets to effective leadership is effective delegation: knowing whom to trust with which responsibilities and at what times to maximize their talents and your company’s productivity. Effective delegation begins with hiring the right people, training them in your company’s culture (this is more than just dictating policy, it involves imparting your vision to them), and understanding that their fulfillment and buy-in is directly proportional to how well you’ve taught them, and how much you’re willing to trust them.

Delegation is also essential for you as a leader, because it frees you up to focus your time and effort on your natural talents, thus fulfilling you, energizing you, and getting the best out of you. Andy Stanley, author of “The Next Generation Leader”, calls this “only do(ing) what only you can do.” You can’t be – and shouldn’t be – everywhere. “Do what only you can do,” says Stanley, “and delegate the rest.”

Having said that, do your people see you working, both with them and slightly ahead of them? This doesn’t necessarily mean daily status reports or micromanaging; that would be the exact opposite of effective delegation. What it does mean is that sometimes, you have to lead by example – usually when your people need to see you taking the point, not necessarily when you feel like making a leadership statement. If the project is big enough – if it is essential to your company’s vision – you may need to strap on the boots and wade into the mud with your troops. Nothing deflates company morale faster than orders barked from a detached leader to demoralized troops. When necessary, are your boots on the ground?

3. Are you affirming?
So, you’ve promoted your company’s vision and empowered your people; now, what happens when the results start rolling in? If you’ve done your homework – crafted an effective business plan and hand-picked the right people to help you – you shouldn’t face a constant string of setbacks, but problems will arise (they always do). As a leader, how you handle problems says more about you than how you handle success. Squeeze an orange. What comes out? Orange juice. What you are inside will inescapably burst forth when pressure is applied. This blog can’t provide you with inner peace (sorry), but it can provide you with a few helpful hints for dealing with disappointment while maintaining a leadership style people will want to follow.

  • When it comes to criticism or correction, measure twice and cut once. This is business, and results are a top priority, but The Golden Rule always applies, even when – especially when – you are at an emotional or occupational tripping point. If the criticism or correction is severe, take a break – go for a short walk, drive to the corner Starbucks for a coffee – before saying your piece. Remember, your employee didn’t want to make a mistake; they’re likely as frustrated with themselves as you are. And, you have to work with them again tomorrow.
  • Conversely, when it comes to affirming those who excel, lavish praise on those who do well – and don’t wait for a home run. Singles win games, too, and waiting for that grand slam might cause you to miss a smaller, more intimate opportunity to shine the spotlight on someone who doesn’t usually stand out.
  • When possible, personalize your praise. No two people are alike, and the public acknowledgement that fuels one employee’s tank might make another shrivel in fear. Dr. Gary Chapman, speaker and author of “The 5 Love Languages”, breaks appreciation down into five basic categories: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, and physical touch. While hugs and back rubs are discouraged in most workplaces (and for good reason), giving a small token of thanks, doling out verbal “attaboys,” and spending a few moments of “non-work” work time with a standout employee are all effective ways of showing appreciation for a job well done.

Hopefully, as a leader, you have already given much thought to the nature and effectiveness of your leadership, and perhaps even begun to incorporate ideals from other leaders into your makeup. If not, don’t be discouraged! The only things standing in the way of you becoming a leader people want to follow are learning and a little hard work. Legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi once said that, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”

Thanks to Profiles International for contributing this blog, “Becoming a Leader that People Want to Follow”.

What Your Company Logo Says About Your Brand (Infographic)

A truly great company logo becomes synonymous with its identity. Think about the McDonald’s golden arches, Apple’s apple, Coca-Cola’s cursive typeface, Nike’s swoosh and all the other iconic brand images that you remember.

But what does a logo say about your company?

For Yahoo, changing its longtime logo (its asymmetrical “Y” with a leaning exclamation point) is a way to signify a new way forward.

This marks the first time in 18 years that Yahoo will overhaul its logo. It’s part of the company’s “30 days of change” marketing campaign, during which it will display one potential logo option on its various sites each day for the next 30 days before the final version is revealed Sept. 5.

“The logo is your calling card, identity, manifestation,” Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Savitt told USA Today. “The Yahoo logo is iconic; some people love it, some people hate it. We decided to change it, to reflect new products … and depict our next chapter.”

For more on what a logo means to a company, check out this infographic designed by 123Print:

*Click on the image to open the infographic in a new window, where you can magnify it to see it better.

This post is contributed by Kevin Allen and

When Employee Drama Becomes Your PR Trauma: Bad news travels fast

The following post is contributed by Profiles International

In just the past few weeks, each of the above stories has been in the news. In today’s world, nothing in the news shocks me, but with so many people desperate for jobs, I often wonder what drives people to act in such a manner, knowing full well that if they are caught they will lose their jobs.

As a leader, manager, or executive, you may be breathing a sigh of relief thinking that your employees would never do anything that extreme.

However, there may be a risk to your business that you have no idea even exists. It’s called “actively disengaged” employees. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workforce, “roughly 13 percent of workers are psychologically committed to their jobs and making positive contributions to their organizations.”

The remaining groups consist of “not engaged” at 63 percent, and “actively disengaged” at 24 percent. Actively disengaged are the ones to worry about. They may not be abusing office property or physically fighting with other coworkers, but their negative impact on your business could be tremendous. Let’s dig into what “actively disengaged” means.

Generally speaking, disengaged employees were once engaged, but something caused them to become unhappy with their job.

The more negative employees are at work, the less productive and valuable they are for the organization. Here are the four most common bad attitudes in the workplace:

  • Negative emotions toward the organization.
    It is common to have one or two select employees who continuously make snide remarks about company leaders or co-workers. These negative feelings toward the organization clash with organizational goals and hurt the workplace environment.
  • Insubordinate challenges to authority.
    Employees with bad attitudes might refuse to perform a task just to prove a point. That is disrespectful, unprofessional, and sure isn’t helping your organization!
  • Overly argumentative.
    Employees who aggravate and pick fights in the workplace create an uncomfortable and distrustful team setting. These employees don’t make efforts to compromise or settle disagreements with coworkers.
  • Lazy, unmotivated.
    These are the employees who aren’t engaged in their work and spend most of their time goofing off and causing distractions. An infographic created by the National Business Research Institute shared that disengaged employees spend their time sleeping, playing games, using social media, and socializing.

Solution: Find the Source of the Bad Attitude

Finding the source of a difficult employee’s bad attitude can help you coach and manage the employee’s behavior without making him or her more upset. Let’s face it, we all have grumpy days, but a prolonged bad attitude usually means there is something else going on.

Employee assessments that look at behavior and personality traits can be very helpful for managers. They can let managers know how employees respond to hardships and interact with their peers. With that information, managers can know how to best develop and coach the employee through a difficult time.

All employees have different personalities, different thinking styles, and different management styles. It is crucial that managers take into account their own management style, along with the employee’s personality, to ensure that they can effectively adapt to and manage any situation.

If the employee’s behavior goes too far, and they remain employed, it could seriously damage staff morale. Do not hesitate to let these people go just because they are high performers. One person could badly affect the remaining engaged and productive employees who are the backbone of your company! So don’t wait – act!

The Top 10 Policies of Great Leadership

The following post is contributed by Profiles International

Whether you have worked your way up the corporate ladder or have started your own business, the path to leadership isn’t an easy one. There will be good times, stressful times, and terrible times, but a great leader is always able to lead a team to success, regardless of the situation at hand. Simply holding a position in leadership doesn’t make someone a good leader. A truly great leader understands the many different factors that come with leading others and strives to help others reach their goals; they are always developing themselves, and act as a visionary for their organization.

Leadership is one of the hottest topics in the business world, with millions of publications on the subject, from books, to blogs, to articles. I’ve gathered some of the leadership qualities that I believe are possessed by many of our greatest leaders and formed the list below.

Do you have what it takes to be a great leader?

The foundation of any relationship, both personal and professional, is honesty. People want to work for a leader they can trust−a leader that has morals, values, and integrity. They want to work for a company that offers a great product or service they can believe in, and that has an honorable reputation. “Honest Abe,” or Abraham Lincoln, is said to have been one of the greatest Presidents to ever lead our country, and he didn’t achieve his success and earn that nickname by being dishonest. Your workers want to feel good about their jobs−it’s important to establish core values for both the business and yourself as a leader, and to then live and lead by those values as an example to your employees.

Without clear communication, your employees won’t understand your mission, goals, and vision. Employees want to work toward something they believe in, so it’s important they understand and are working toward the same goals you are. Communication should also be consistent in establishing work expectations, giving constructive feedback, and in training new employees. With great communication, your employees will know exactly what they are working for, will rely on you, and will give their best effort for you.

When things go wrong, employees look to you for the answers and judge the situation based upon your reaction. Even if the company is experiencing a major downturn, it’s important to always be confident, calm, and be the example you should be for your team. If you aren’t confident with the organization in a situation, then be confident in your own leadership skills. Your job is to maintain the happy work environment, and continue leading the team in their daily work.

Whether you’re starting a new business, or you’re leading a team at a business that’s already been established, it’s important to get employees invested in the vision and future of the company. You must be inspired and invested in the company in order to inspire others, like Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google. The product of their own inspiration has inspired millions of others across the world, and has significantly impacted the world we live in today. Though inspiration often looks forward to the future, it’s also important for the present; it gives employees a reason to work, to succeed, and to do their best in everything they do. Make them feel invested in the company through inspiration and they’ll be loyal, hard-working employees.

Regardless of the situation, always stay positive. Positivity is essential to productivity, employee happiness, and the work environment. When mistakes are made, even if they are serious, it’s important to look at the bright side of things, though it would be easy to get upset and lash out. You are setting the tone for the work day, and your attitude directly affects those under your leadership. Bringing snacks, giving compliments, and even showing an interest in an employee’s personal life can have a significant impact on their work day and those to come.

If there is a highly-important project, it can be difficult to trust employees without micromanaging. Trusting them to do the best possible work is a sign of strength in your leadership, and will encourage them to live up to your expectations. When it comes to delegation, the idea is to decide what strengths each employee possesses, and to assign them tasks that best fit those strengths. The ability to delegate successfully will lead to higher quality work and higher productivity.

Nothing shows commitment and humility like getting your hands dirty with the rest of the workers. Showing your commitment sets the example for others to follow, and leads to greater loyalty and respect for you as a leader. Always be committed in whatever you do, whether it is a promise to have a holiday party, a day off, or a meeting time. You are in the spotlight as a leader and you will be judged harder for your actions than others will be. Set the tone of commitment and others will follow suit.

Although not a requirement, a sense of humor goes a long way in leadership. It helps create a positive work environment and enhances the feeling of camaraderie. Warren Buffett, for example, once said “I buy expensive suits. They just look cheap on me.” Your unique personality and sense of humor shows your employees that you are more than a leader, and that you aren’t a machine, which encourages them to feel comfortable around you.

Some decisions have to be made quickly, and catch us by surprise. In times like these, it’s up to you to think outside the box to find a solution. Your team will be looking to you in this situation for guidance, so a quick decision must also be a good decision. Henry Ford faced a situation like this when demand for his vehicles was so high he couldn’t possibly keep up. Instead of making the obvious decision to hire more people, he thought with creativity and developed the assembly line. You may even brainstorm with your team to build upon some of your ideas. When your employees are involved in a decision or idea, they often feel more invested, respected, and important. When you are in a situation where creativity is necessary, your creativity level and experience can either gain your employees’ loyalty and respect, or damage it.

Sometimes we are presented with situations that aren’t in the textbooks and for which you might not be prepared as a leader. The first decision isn’t always the best one, and taking your time to come up with a unique solution can be in the best interest of your workers and organization. Sometimes, leaders have to draw upon their instincts, past experiences, and mentors for help in these complicated situations.

Resolutions All Small Business Owners Should Make In 2014

The following guest post is by Jason Zickerman, president and CEO of The Alternative Board.

If the New Year was all about new beginnings, why is it that so many of us make the same old resolutions over and over? While renewing the long-expired gym membership or covering ourselves with a second skin of nicotine patches, we’re so high on hope that we’re completely blind to the other areas of our lives that could use a fresh perspective.

Maybe you’ve created a strategic plan in the past but just didn’t see the value. If that’s the case, take a new approach this year. Keep your focus narrow. Perhaps just focus on how your business is going to achieve your Commander’s Intent. Then, rather than creating a plan & filing it away somewhere, put an appointment on your calendar at least one time per month – preferably more often – to review how you’re doing against your plan. Share the plan with your staff. Taking the time to think through your strategies and tactics for achieving your business of the business and committing to getting it done will go a long way towards achieving your Personal Vision of Success.

  1. Create a Personal Vision of Success

    Every reputable business has a mission statement. It’s the message that lays out your principles and guides your actions. But how does your company’s mission statement align with your own goals? It’s hard to say until you’ve crafted your own personal vision of success.

    Think of your personal vision of success as the mission statement you’ll use to shape your own choices and strategies. Ask yourself what success means to you. Will you measure your success by how early you can retire, or how much money you get when you sell the business? Will you measure it by the number of influential products you’ve launched or jobs you’ve created? Will you know you’ve finally “made it” when you’re able to set up a scholarship foundation or fly your family around the world?

    There’s no “right” vision of success, but once you lay yours out in terms of concrete, measurable goals you’ll have a clearer focus and be able to align your business plans towards a greater purpose. That sense of purpose is powerful and you’ll be amazed at how it can transform your approach.

  2. Learn to Communicate the Commander’s Intent

    In the 1980s, the U.S. Army adopted a strategy which they came to call the “Commander’s Intent” (or CI). This system was created to cut down on needless communication, to save time and to make sure that every man in the field was focused on attaining the same objective. There’s a lot that entrepreneurs can learn from this method. In their book, Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath explain what a CI is and why it’s so effective:

    Commander’s Intent manages to align the behavior of soldiers at all levels without requiring play-by-play instructions from their leaders. When people know the desired destinations, they’re free to improvise, as needed, in arriving there.

    Just like war, commerce is unpredictable. Threats can change and previous plans can be rendered obsolete. That’s why it’s important to use your own kind of Commander’s Intent every time you communicate with your partners and employees. The goal here is to focus on the end destination, instead of the path one should take to get there.

    So in 2014, when you’re crafting a quarterly newsletter or sales strategy, try boiling down your ideas to one, clear and simple statement. Use a template like this one: “The single most important thing we must accomplish is ____.” Front-load each communication with your Commander’s Intent statement. When your intent is clear, your team will function more smoothly (and you may even find that they achieve goals in surprising, innovative ways).

  3. Revamp (or Create) Your Strategic Plan

    When was the last time you took a serious, critical look at your strategic plan? If you’re like most business owners, it’s probably long overdue. Luckily, the new year is a perfect time to think about your company’s goals and how you plan to achieve them.This year, take a new approach in analyzing your strategic plan. If you created your original plan with a few partners, try relying on an internal advisory board for a new perspective. If your advisory board updates your plan every year, hire a third-party advisor instead. And try focusing on areas you may not have honed in on in the past like, for example, the job descriptions and responsibilities of your top-tier employees.

    A recent survey found that 82% of entrepreneurs are working more than 40 hours per week, and many are putting in those hours in small doses by taking over responsibilities that should be delegated to other employees. Develop a strategic plan that clearly lays out expectations and goals for your execs and partners, and you may score more freedom for yourself and your schedule. Who wouldn’t like to shave off five or ten hours from their workweek? Implementing a solid strategic plan can help make that happen.

You don’t need to choose just one of these resolutions — to truly challenge yourself and improve your business, I’d recommend adopting all three. If you’re afraid of getting overwhelmed, tackle one at a time in the order they’re listed. Once you feel like you’ve truly changed your habits, stop back here and let me know the impact you saw on your business.

Small Business Survey Infographic -2013 Trends

*Click to see a larger image.

Thanks to The Alternative Board for this Infographic.

Leadership Lessons from a Second-Grader

One night I peeked in on a scene of my 7 year old niece, Emma, a second-grader, reading a Dr. Seuss book to her 4 year old sister, Layla.

She read a phrase that could be plucked from a manager’s pep talk to his people … “Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.”

Then, big sister would grill little sister with questions. Sometimes Layla would get it right and other times “not so right”.

How do you respond when your employee comes to you with an idea or solution that only could have come from the imagination of a Dr. Seuss book?

Here is what Emma did. This second-grader said, “that’s a good answer and I
almost agree with you, but the answer is ________. The story continued
and so did the learning.

How many times have you shut down your employee’s innovation and communication with a quick retort or comment? Take a lesson today from a 7 year old. I did.

"Pat brings her charm, wit and insight into her advisory relationships and shares the same with her audiences. She's got the systems to back up her concepts."

- Frank Maguire FEDEX Senior Founding Executive

John Maxwell


Profiles Int'l