The First Two Steps in Building a Winning Culture

“Regardless of what people say they value or believe, what actually shows up in their behavior is the best indication of the true culture.”

– David Friedman

Creating and maintaining a strong company culture is perhaps one of the best ways to accelerate performance. Upcoming Vistage event speaker, author and former CEO, David Friedman, is no stranger to building an organized and successful culture. Under his leadership, RSI, an award-winning employee benefits brokerage and consulting firm, was named one of the Best Places to Work in the region seven times and was named one of the Fastest Growing companies four times. Among Friedman’s many leadership strategies, the Eight Step Framework, a method for organizing and institutionalizing your company’s values, is likely the most prominent. Though all eight steps are essential, the first two steps of this framework are two of the most foundational.

First, you must define the sort of culture you are trying to create. It’s impossible to jump start a culture you can’t even put into words. So, one of the best things you can do is just that, dictate and describe the sort of behaviors and fundamentals you wish to thrive. This isn’t necessarily “visions, missions, and values,” but rather clarifying the type of successful environment you envision and allowing you and your employees to internalize inhabit those behaviors. Having a clear definition of your desired culture is the bedrock of this process.

Second, establish rituals that will help you maintain your desired performance. Repetition is key in this area. Most of the time, especially in long stretches, will power and motivation tricks can waver, thus potentially disrupting your desired behaviors. Having rituals that are institutional in your culture can put a backbone in place that more than helps maintain these elements necessary for a high-performance culture.

More details of both these and the final 6 steps can be found in Friedman’s book, Culture by Design, as well as Vistage’s CEO Forum taking place in Orlando, Florida on October 3rd at 7:30 a.m.

Kelly D. Scott
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization

The Importance of Authenticity in Leadership

“Authenticity means erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world.”

– Adam Grant, Psychologist

There is a common misconception that effective leadership can only be found in certain molds. Being overtly tough, unfeeling, and unaffected by failure, are all things people generally think of when they think of leadership. However, attempting to seem authentic without truly meaning it will come off as inauthentic and do more harm than good. In fact, having a sense of authenticity and transparency can have an increasingly positive effect on those you lead.

It is no secret that more and more people are opening up about their mental health and general wellbeing. People, and likely the people you lead, respond well to empathy. Being empathetic and open with your employees allows for the emergence of a sense of comfortability and trust that being emotionless and rigid would prevent. This sort of authenticity also shows your employees that you’re not afraid to expose a part of your true self and will inspire them to do the same. Having a mutual understanding enables your employees to better respond to your leadership and trust in your decisions.

Still, “being yourself” is not always the simplest task, especially when you’re in a position with so many eyes on you. In establishing authenticity, you have to be able to digest criticism properly. Being authentic can also mean discovering your weaknesses and conquering them, and this may also mean exposing some of your flaws to your employees. But at the same time, it allows you to fully enact your strengths without any worry of how you are perceived.

Of course, this doesn’t mean acting without a filter, everything must be done in smart and good taste, but simply putting yourself out there to be evaluated by yourself and others can make you and those you lead, stronger. You should be leading as your true self, someone who understands your goal and has no issue being the person you genuinely are in order to reach it.

Kelly D. Scott
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization

How Tariffs & Hurricanes Affect Businesses

“Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it.”

– Niehls Bohr, Physicist & Nobel Prize Winner

As many know, tariffs are more or less a tax set on imported goods (typically at the border). Tariffs can be a sizeable revenue source for the government as well as have an effect on both foreign and domestic business. For international business, and/or domestic businesses that depend on the import of foreign goods, increased tariffs can typically have a negative impact on production since prices to import goods into America go up. However, the positives of tariffs can be more than just increased revenue for the government. Often (or at least optically) tariffs are meant to increase the production of domestic businesses, intending to increase the value of American grown and operated businesses.

This can mean a variety of things for the consumer, and many economists debate the overall effect of increased tariffs on the economy. For one, tariffs can benefits consumers and businesses that depend on domestic goods, since their prices will likely be lower because of the decreased production of overseas goods. However, since international goods are so widespread and essential to many, even domestic operations, there may be some unintended consequences of increased tariffs.

An example of this can be found during natural disasters or states of emergency, more specifically and relevant: hurricanes. It is unknown the exact effect new tariffs have on the damages of current Hurricane Dorian, but some is known about tariffs effect on last year’s Hurricane Florence that hit South Carolina. According to trade economist Jock O’Connell, “people should expect to find it more expensive to rebuild and refurbish their houses.”

Though it is typical that increased demand means a rise in prices, it is believed that recently issued tariffs (10-30% on certain Chinese goods) accelerated this rise of prices to an exorbitant amount. Since many victims of the hurricane were in great need of cheap, accessible building materials, prices and shortages increased causing further disarray.

Kelly D. Scott
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization

Making Clear Your Purpose as a Leader

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”

– James Humes, Author

Leadership isn’t always just about the position you hold. Good leadership depends heavily on how your hold yourself and how others respond to your leadership techniques. Knowing your identity as a leader is essential in succeeding effectively in a leadership position. How could you lead effectively if you yourself aren’t even sure about your purpose as a leader? It can be difficult, especially when you are already an established leader, to reevaluate and establish your purpose as a leader, but doing this will grow your effectiveness as a leader.

It is important to take an active approach when it comes to making clear your purpose. Ways of achieving this can be directly asking for feedback from your coworkers, being open to criticism, and taking into account your day to day struggles. It can be easy to brush off simple discrepancies but taking everything into account will allow you to see a clearer path to improvement.

However, instead of immediately thinking of ways you can improve, it can be most beneficial if you first establish your ultimate goal, what you want your clear purpose to be as a leader. To do this, listen to your personal yearnings and don’t be afraid to pursue something that may be a little out of your comfort zone. The point of this exercise is to find the sort of purpose that will make you feel fulfilled, so that may include going a totally different direction then you have been.

No matter what direction you take, as always, communication is key. As your purpose gets retooled and reestablished it is important to let others know of your new goals and methods. Doing this allows your employees to naturally work toward similar goals and respond to your leadership more appropriately.

With critical feedback and personal understanding, you have the groundwork to establish your purpose as a leader. It is important not to forget the successful elements of leadership you have already previously discovered. Defining purpose and effective leadership is about more than just correcting your mistakes and having a clearer goal, it is also about further enhancing your already known strengths. Do what you do best, being mindful of others, and being clear in your goals can go a long way.

Kelly D. Scott
The world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization