Tagged: leadership

The importance of Storytelling

imageedit_2_9709146890Storytelling is a fundamental part of every great brand, business or institution. Every great brand or business has a story and that story connects to the emotions, the characters, the values of the people that live that product or business every day. Storytelling is always been a part of leadership. It is just now we’re overtly talking about it as a tool that leaders can use as opposed to just an aid in our brand’s and the products that we give to people. Storytelling says it’s not about the list of things we have to do, it’s about the connection that we give to people about a piece of information that we’re trying to share. A good story at its essence is simply conveying a message that has logic.

Here are the top 5 reasons storytelling is important for modern leaders:

#1. Storytelling can inspire people to act in unfamiliar, ambiguous and often unwelcome, ways. Tedious cascades of numbers or daze-inducing PowerPoint slides won’t achieve this goal. Even logical arguments for making the needed changes usually won’t do the trick. It is effective story telling that works, if done effectively.

#2. Good storytelling can act silently on our conscious mind. When we hear a story that touches us deeply, our lives are immersed with meaning. As listeners, we have transmitted to us that which matters. Once we make this connection, once a sense of wonder has come upon us, it does not last long, and we inevitably fall back into our everyday living, but with the difference that a radical shift in understanding may have taken place.

#3. Most business leaders are honestly bored with 90% of the conversations they have in a day. They sit at meetings and have power point after power point, and they have meeting after meeting, and they have to do list after to do list. And they’re looking to be inspired. If you have a compelling story, something that is of interest, something that has a connection then people are going to listen no matter what the medium is.

#4. Storytelling is by far the best way for leaders to communicate with people they are leading. It is inherently well adapted to handling the most obstinate leadership challenges of today – igniting change, communicating who you are, enhancing the brand, transmitting values, creating high-performance teams, sharing knowledge, taming the grapevine, leading people in to the future.

#5. Last but not the least; storytelling translates dry and abstract numbers into compelling visuals of a leader’s goals. Although good business cases are developed through the use of numbers, they are typically approved on the basis of a story—that is, a narrative that links a set of events in some kind of causal sequence, something that connects with the listeners and has depth.

At the end of the day, everyone tells stories. The stories that get repeated over and over—and become a part of an organization’s or business culture and/or heritage, and these can come from the CEO, a manager, a new hire, or anyone in between. All you need is to have context, logic and connection.

NAVY SEAL tips for entrepreneurs


NAVY SEALs or soldiers that have been in combat are a great source of inspiration for the modern day entrepreneur. They bring with them fundamental qualities and attributes that can make a successful business owner. Things like discipline, tenacity, resilience and elite performance are just a few things that one could learn from them.

Here are the top five NAVY SEAL tips:

Plan your mission and be agile: NAVY SEALs plan attentively and carefully. They prepare for various scenarios and pay attention to every detail. However they know the fact that you can never plan for the unknown. Their teams are quick, can handle surprises, are capable of making adjustments on the fly and are agile. Modern day entrepreneurs need to prepare diligently. But it’s the combination of preparation and agility that turns a good team into a successful company.

Embrace Chaos: NAVY SEALs are always dealing with uncertainty and crisis. They need to prepare themselves to be bold, swift and be gone. Results and outcomes matter. A business owner’s day-to-day life would start and end with issues: sales issues, legal issues, service issues, financing issues, product issues, recruiting issues, you name it. There are always thousands of tasks to do and only time for 100, and this would never change. So you need to make peace with the idea of being around constant chaos and the sooner you embrace it, the faster you grow. Break down your objectives into components, define them, plan them, execute on them, and train yourself to be calm under fire.

Never stop training: SEALs believe in 80% training and 20% execution. When they’re not on actual combat deployments, they are spending the vast majority of their time training for a number of different types of missions. In contrast, at start-ups business owner typically spend 100% of their time executing and zero percent of their time training. So it is important to build a culture of training at all levels. Entrepreneurs should never stop learning or taking up training lessons that will build better skills. They should make it a point to build the same atmosphere around their teams and/or company.

Leave no man behind: SEALs make it a point that they leave no one behind during the time of combat crisis. The essence is teamwork. Your teamwork spirit should just not end at holding meetings or assigning tasks. You should be passionate and to an extent highly possessive about your team. Also, showing loyalty to your team is one of the most powerful messages in business leadership. We all know that plans can fail. Objectives can fail. Products and/services can fail, but an entrepreneur’s loyalty towards his team should never fail.

Be focused and minimalistic: No great team or company is ever built without discipline, focus and good habits. Try to focus on what you need to do your job and try not to waste your resources and energy on things that are not necessary in life. Success, failure, turmoil and chaos are a part of the entire entrepreneurial journey. Try to live it and fight it with all that you got and eventually you would discover the important things that actually helped you through the good and the bad times.

The GROW model

GROWIn order to run a profitable business one has to be good with managing people and the key to managing people is effective coaching and mentoring. As an entrepreneur, you might come across numerous instances in your daily lives where you find yourself directly or indirectly coaching people. Coaching involves making sure your people set realistic objectives and achieve those objectives in desired manner. By effective coaching you can help them make better decisions, solve problems that are holding them back, help them develop new skills which would eventually progress their careers. There are many coaching methods that one could adopt. A specific method of coaching might suite a leader, whereas the same method would not be favorable for another leader, who might be dealing with a different set of people and objectives.

In the early 90s many leaders saw the need to structure a formal and effective method to coaching and objective setting. They eventually came up with the GROW model (or process), which is a simple yet powerful framework for structuring coaching or mentoring sessions. It was developed in the United Kingdom and was used extensively in the corporate coaching market in the late 1980s and 1990s. Even in the present day work cultures, coaching is some way or the other related to the GROW methodology.

The word “GROW” is used as an acronym here and stands for:

G – Goal
R – Reality
O – Options
W – Way forward

So to put it in simple words: while coaching and setting objectives for someone, treat it as a journey i.e. first, you decide where you are going (the goal), and then establish where you currently are (your reality). You then explore various routes (the options) to your destination. In the final step, you establish the way forward i.e. prepare yourself for the journey and plan your next move. This method is a simple yet effective way to coach and helps people think more realistically.

Many a times, leaders get into discussions with their teams, where they bombard them with information, facts, steps, plan etc, but lack this simple framework. The most effective way to use the GROW methodology is to align the basic coaching framework with your firm’s objectives. For example if you were to help a team member set objectives or deliver a desired result for your company, you would first need to discuss and set a clear cut goal, examine the current reality, evaluate the options and plan the way forward. Finally, decide on a date when you’ll both review the progress.

This method is highly effective even while setting personal goals and objectives. The core of the framework is that it helps one think and channel their thought in a more structured method, rather than get into a haphazard information dump. As with many simple principles any user of GROW technique can modify and apply a great deal of skill and knowledge at each stage but the basic process will always remain the same.

How to be a good BOSS

How to be a good BOSSThere is a difference between being a good manager and being a good boss, not to mention they both need strong leadership qualities. According to a recent research, 86 percent of employees believe that if they get along well with their boss they are more productive.

Pressure and deadlines don’t always work towards bringing out productivity; it’s more about how a boss manages and spearheads his team, which is also directly linked to the fact that how well they are liked by others.

Here is a list of 5 habits of highly likable bosses:

1. Positivity

Being positive is the most important attitude for a boss. Even in times of gloom and despair if a boss can maintain positivity, it helps raise the entire teams’ spirit and motivation. As a rule of thumb, be optimistic and genuine with the people working around you and they will be more likely to react in the same way, making the workplace a healthy and constructive place to be.

2. Availability

Leadership in any organization should always be available for face time with their employees. Team members are more likely to come to their bosses with ideas and potential solutions when their bosses make it clear that they value their employees’ opinions and want to hear them. So be there and be available.

3. Flexibility

Work happens; deadlines are met and with all of that life happen, so it’s always good to be real and flexible. Be understanding and open minded when things go wrong, and accept that people make mistakes. As a good boss you should have the ability to decipher what is important and what is not. Be flexible in trying new options and know when to let go to diffuse a highly tense situation in your team.

4. Appreciative

Positive feedback is very important to boost the morale of any individual or a team. Praise and appreciation is just important as criticism, and you should make it a point to complement your people for a job well done. Always keep your appreciations fresh, true and always mean it.

5. Friendship

Greeting people by their names and making small talk can go a long way in building good relationships. Always try to understand people as humans first and then employees. Involve yourself into their conversations, give friendly advice and always offer help. Building strong and friendly relationships can help you bring about a sense of oneness and ownership in your team.

Lesson on Business ethics from Aristotle

aristotleOne would always think that what would a person who is dead for over 2000 years know about modern business and ethics. Well, Aristotle is considered to be the most knowledgeable and practical philosophers of all time. He always questioned the use of ethics in leadership and day-to-day life. Though his teachings would give us a broader understanding of the overall concept of ethics and virtue, it is important to take note of some of his prominent discussions on the subject of business ethics.

In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle realizes that the role of the leader is to create a healthy working environment in which all members of an organization have the opportunity to realize their own potential. According to his theory, any organization that demonstrates ethical ways of doing business will eventually benefit its shareholders, its employees, and the economy in general and will help them achieve their long term goals.

According to Aristotle, the highest good for humans and the heights aim of all practical thinking is eudaimonia, a Greek word often translated as well-being or happiness. He asserts that an excellent human will be a person who lives his life beautifully and in well being. Aristotle says that such a person would also be a serious human being. In relation to the business ethics, he says that the ethical role of the leader is not to enhance their own power but to create the conditions under which followers can achieve their potential too.

His theories have brought about a lot of questions in the minds of entrepreneurs and business owners, one of them being: am I behaving virtuous? Further, a feeling of equality and justice comes into our mind, when we ask ourselves: How would I want to be treated if I were a member of this organization?

In relation to the above questions, he also raises a lot of useful inquiries about rewarding in organizations based on the ethical principle of recognizing people proportionate to their contributions. The point that he is trying to make is that a leader who ignores ethics, virtue and wisdom will never flourish in the long run. Even while planning an enterprise or business, as business owners we should be able to analyze the overall objectives and sync it with the value of ethics and virtue. The bottom line being that, we need to ask ourselves probing questions that help us keep a check on our ethical business behaviors.

A New Set of Beliefs for CEOs

In the past 25 years, CEOs of many major corporations have relied on a flawed set of beliefs to lead their organizations. This set has influenced them to place way too much emphasis on maximizing shareholder value and not enough on generating value for society. Today we are mired in the Great Recession, which was brought about by the near collapse of the financial system. This environment and the behavior produced by the prevailing set of beliefs to which CEOs subscribe have deepened a widespread public distrust of corporations and capitalism.

The Conventional Wisdom

Most CEOs and corporate board members would agree that the theories and beliefs listed below drive their decision-making on how best to meet the challenges they face:

– The focus of the CEO and the board should be on maximizing shareholder value.

– The stock market is short-term-oriented.

– Stock-based incentive compensation aligns the self-interest of management with shareholders, and a performance-based pay system increases employee motivation.

– Societal concerns should be addressed through corporate social responsibility programs.

– The “best athlete” from inside or outside the company should be chosen as the successor to the CEO.

These beliefs have led managers and boards to take actions that have had unintended, destructive consequences. When observing the behavior of management and corporate boards, when reading the management literature and the business press, and when assessing the outcomes of management behavior, it seems as though CEOs are recognized and rewarded handsomely for downsizing and outsourcing, acquiring or merging, and making the quarter — all justified by the responsibility to maximize shareholder value.

Any of these actions can be necessary in certain circumstances; most of us have taken one or another. My concern is that these actions have become the standard by which CEOs are expected to manage. Furthermore, these actions are taken seemingly without regard to the consequences for the community, the employees, the survival of the company as an institution, or the creation of long-term firm value.

New Guiding Beliefs

Shareholders benefit most when CEOs and boards maximize value for society and act as agents of society rather than shareholders.

The market favorably receives projects with long-term payoffs, particularly those in research and development.

The conventional course of action would have been to cut investments in research and restructure. Yes, those actions would have boosted short-term earnings. But they would have also undermined our efforts to create new drugs, which typically take 10 to 15 years to develop, hurting the company and the people who depend on us to find new therapies over the long term.

The fundamental challenges that CEOs of companies face are: innovate, manage risk and uncertainty, and create long-term firm value.

Purpose, meaning, and recognition are more powerful motivators than economic self-interest, and large external rewards can reduce intrinsic motivation. People do work for money but they work even more for meaning in their lives.

Actions to address societal issues should be an integral part of strategy, and operations and should not be isolated as a separate activity under the heading of corporate social responsibility.

The most successful CEOs, on balance, are those who are developed inside the company but manage to retain an outside perspective.

There are CEOs who subscribe to these beliefs but do not believe they can act on them because of their experiences with Wall Street or because they are counter to the beliefs of their boards. But these beliefs are not just ideals; they are implementable.

Source: The Harvard Business Review