Why Leaders Need To Be Servants First

Leadership is about a lot of things, but the most effective leaders know that their job is always to serve others. It takes a special kind of person to do this because it requires a specific balance to manage other aspects of leadership while becoming a servant to those around you. When leaders focus on being a servant first, they do more than just serve their coworkers and clients, they also serve themselves.

Leadership is about being a servant first. -Allen West

Why Being A Servant Is Important

Because effective leaders are a wonderful blend of many different qualities, they are able to see that leadership is more than simply being a boss. In order to be successful, those around you need to be successful as well, and they can’t do it alone.

By serving those within and outside of the company, a leader who strives to be a servant is able to be an asset to every single person he comes across. If there were no leaders who acted as servants to those around them, businesses would have some serious productivity issues—among other things.

Most importantly, leaders who strive to be servants don’t become less effective leaders as a result. In fact, they become better ones.

Qualities Of A Servant Leader

When a leader decides to serve those around him, there are certain qualities that he exhibits. First and foremost, a leader must be humble. He doesn’t feel like he is better than everyone else and he works hard to make sure they don’t feel that way either. He is careful in his interactions with clients and customers to ensure that while his demeanor is strong, it is also modest.

Servant leaders are also selfless individuals. They don’t have an agenda and aren’t focused on advancing their own interests. They know that be having others in mind when they work, they will create a culture that promotes trust and care. Truly caring about helping the people around you reach their full potential will not just make you a better leader, it will push your career forward as well.

Also, a servant leader is personally invested and always involved. He strives to be a confidant for the people he works with and values the opinions of those around him. This special kind of leader knows that it takes the group to develop the most inspired solutions, and he knows that his support is essential for the success of those around him.

Become A Leader Who Serves

For too long we have viewed “leaders” as the most cut throat individuals who push others out to achieve their own personal ends. For too long the “leaders” have been considered the ones who do whatever it takes to get the sale or close the deal without any thought for the effect of these decisions on others.

No more. Now we know better. We know that leaders are only leaders because they serve and inspire those around them. Leaders who strive to be servants will be the ones with strong employees, strong businesses, and strong growth.

Why You Need Team Members & Not Simply Employees

How your business grows is largely dependant on the people you have around you. You may think that you need a bunch of mindless drones to do your bidding, but that simply isn’t the case. Having the right team members is exactly what it takes to propel a business onwards and upwards—team members being the key word here. There’s a difference between an employee and a team member, and it makes all the difference for leaders looking to grow businesses.

What’s A Team Member Exactly?

The difference between “team member” and employee is important, but it’s not immediately apparent to most. An employee performs tasks, does what he is told. An employee comes to work every day, does what needs to be done and goes home. A team member has a much different attitude.

A team member is personally invested in the business. He believes in the mission and shares the vision. He knows that when the business does well, it’s good for him and he wants to work toward making the business a success not only for himself, but for the people around him. In short, a team member simply sees his work differently, and as such, approaches it differently.

Effective Hiring

Employees suck money out of a business, but team members are personally invested in seeing the business grow, which is why every business needs a team that shares the vision. The people you hire are going to be instrumental in the success of your business, so don’t just hire anyone. Take the hiring process seriously.

For some companies, they see someone who appears to be a good fit and jump right in. That’s a mistake. It’s always best to take the time to learn—in detail—about this person on whom your company is going to so heavily rely. Don’t just learn about the resume; find out what makes this person tick. Learn about their family, their passions, and naturally, learn about what drives them.

Effective hiring is a process, not a race. Finding the right people to share your vision and work hard for the good of your company will make all the time spent completely worth it in the end.

Your Company Deserves The Best

Whether you are just starting out or you’ve been around the block in business once or twice, having the right people around you is essential. Part of being a good leader is surrounding yourself with the right team members. Don’t be afraid to hire people with more knowledge, more education, or more experience than you either. It won’t undermine your work as leader, it will only enhance it.

A strong leader knows his own weaknesses and doesn’t hesitate to fill in those gaps by hiring team members who thrive where he struggles. Together, collectively, you should have what it takes to take your business to the next level. Effective hiring and bringing on strong team members who share your passion and vision will help take your business to new heights you never dreamed it could achieve.

Team members, not employees, will push to make your dreams in business become a reality.

talking about integrity in business

Talking About Integrity In Your Business

We talk frequently about having integrity. It’s very much considered to be a personal trait, something that you personally possess and practice, but businesses need to have integrity too. Why isn’t anyone talking about that? Failed attempts at integrity will mean failed attempts at properly growing relationships, business, and profits. There’s no easy way out, only a right way to do things.

What Does Integrity In Business Look Like?

In his book Entreleadership, Dave Ramsey defines integrity as “the state of being whole or undivided”. This needs to be discussed openly among team members in the business so their is a shared understanding of what integrity looks like not only in the workplace, but for the business itself.

There are several common truths that are shared across different peoples and cultures, and these truths should also be recognized in business as well. The first step is identifying your values and then reviewing them with team members. Once everyone has a thorough understanding of what integrity means for the business, they will better be able to function in a way that honors those values. If they don’t do that, their employment should be reconsidered or training may be necessary.

Stay Unshakable

Plenty of businesses start out strong. They discuss values and build a foundation for their business to grow upon. It’s a great start, but as time goes on and challenges arise, the foundation starts to crumble. Businesses begin thinking about what is right for the business, not necessarily what is right, and integrity becomes less and less of a priority.

Integrity should always be a priority. Always. If you have strong convictions and practice integrity or being whole and undivided in your personal life, you are certainly more likely to do so in business. The people who work hard to stay unshakable in their values and consistent in their actions are likely to be the ones who become leaders and carry that integrity on into business practices in an effective and meaningful way.

Take The First Steps

Whether you are a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting out in the business world, you can benefit from understanding integrity in business. Start by evaluating yourself and your personal goals, dreams, and values. Then, take a long hard look at your mission for the business. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to decide how you will get there.

Write down your business’ mission. Make sure your team members don’t just understand it, but are onboard with it. Talk about what these goals mean for each individual person and how they will contribute to reaching them in an honest way. This is the perfect time to ensure that your employees know that integrity isn’t just about their personal behavior, it’s about the “behavior” of the business as well, and they contribute to that.

When you make these goals and expectations clear, you are one step closer to building an effective business based on integrity and passion, two ingredients that are essential for success. Set a solid foundation and be sure the entire team is working to keep it strong.

How Do You Determine The Quality Of A Leader?

Ray Kroc once said, “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” This is powerful, because too many times a “leader” will expect more from the team than they themselves give. A leader has many roles to play, but what the level at which the leader sits has a great deal to do with the standards they set and expect themselves to maintain. But what does it take to be that kind of leader?

The Importance Of Self Awareness

The only thing more difficult than discovering your faults is discovering your virtues, but both are needed for a leader to be truly self aware. When you are capable of rightly pointing out what you do well and where you can improve, you will be able to start thinking about the standards you need to set for yourself.

Self awareness is a skill that not everyone possesses, so if you are able to understand yourself well, you can use that knowledge to help yourself do better as a leader. Through self awareness, standards can be properly set.

Set A Course For Success

To be the best leader that you can be requires a great deal of effort and foresight. Those who can effectively evaluate themselves and set a course for meaningful change are usually the ones who end up on top, so set yourself on course to achieve success.

Start by defining standards for yourself. Create a spreadsheet and write down all the standards you will hold yourself to. Next, specify what you will do to ensure that those standards are always met.

For example, you want to be sure that you always follow through on opportunities. Great job! Now you must identify what steps you’ll take to ensure that you do this every single time. Maybe you leave yourself a post-it note on your desk to remind yourself that you need to follow up, or you set a memo in your calendar. Maybe you make phone calls every Thursday morning. When you can stick to your own plan, others will take notice.

Be An Example Worth Following

A leader should always be an example for the people around him. When you are committed to maintaining high standards, you are giving the people who work with you a great example to follow as well as a list of standards that they should strive to achieve.

Make sure you are always meeting the high standards you’ve set for yourself, and then you can use those standards to as a guide to work with the team members you are responsible for developing.

When you set high standards for yourself, you are inadvertently setting high standards for your team members as well. Show them how it’s done, and you may become a leader worth following. High standards will be what it takes for all of us to succeed.

What do you think determines the quality of a leader? What high standards do you think are most important for a leader to maintain?

business group discussing systems

Get The Results You Want With The System Your Business Needs

Your system is perfectly designed for the results you’re getting. What do you think of that? It’s true, and not a ton of business owners or leaders want to hear it. It’s a very simple concept, and all leaders need to think about how it applies to them and their business if they want to start seeing the results they truly desire. Only change in your systems will create change in your results.

The Results

We usually start talking about this principle when it becomes apparent that the leaders of a business are not impressed with the results they are seeing. They start to question a myriad of things from their employees to the lunchroom policies to the copy machine’s inability to do one complete job without getting jammed.

None of these things are to blame. Because your system is designed in a way that sets the business on the course which renders your current results, the system is really what you should be looking at. Our favorite definition of insanity (because there are many) is repeating the same actions over and over and expecting a different result. Similarly, why would you have the same systems and processes in place and expect something more favorable to happen?

The System

Ultimately, you can’t talk your way out of a situation that you behaved your way into. If you want out (and we think you do) you’ve got to act—and act differently at that. Let’s talk about some systems that receive a failing grade:

  • If your business is spending more money than you are earning, no amount of investments, new loans, or hard work will change that. Your system is perfectly designed for bankruptcy.
  • If your employees are allowed to take advantage of your generosity, you’ll probably find that your system is perfectly designed for a lack of productivity.
  • If your business doesn’t spend time nurturing clients, then your system is perfectly designed to fail at obtaining repeat clients.

When you find your business here, it can be hard to figure out exactly how you got there, and that’s frustrating. That’s usually the point where leaders go looking for a source or even a person to blame. The fact is, however, that what you must really find is the flaw in the system.

Change Your System Get Results

The first step toward seeing better results is to identify the results you’d like to see. Sit down with a business partner or a trusted advisor and get cracking. Once you’ve discovered one or two results you believe can be achieved, think about what actions need to be taken to get there.

How do those actions differ from the ones you currently see? This knowledge is invaluable; it will help you make the changes necessary for your own system to start seeing results you desire.

So next time you find that you aren’t seeing the results that you think you should be getting, think about actions are being taken that produce that undesirable result. When the system is perfectly designed to achieve negative outcomes, it’s time to start focusing on changing the system.

keys on a table

The Role Of A Leader In Unlocking Potential

The word leader conjures visions of a single person taking the reins and leading the charge. While leaders do need to step up and tackle lots of different types of situations, the ultimate goal of a leader should always be to unlock the potential of those around them. Only with the mindset of helping others will a person in a position of power truly become a leader.

The Role Of A Leader

Leaders have many job responsibilities. Part of being an effective leader means having exceptional problem solving skills. Sometimes it means being good with people. Leaders typically need to be innovative and have the foresight to determine how their decisions will affect the business as well as the people around them. There are way too many roles to list, but ultimately, leaders are responsible for those around them.

A good leader will guide and shape, aid and push, but at the end of the day, the true goal of a leader is to unlock the potential of those around them.

The Goal Of A Leader

This goal is clear. Building a strong, highly qualified team is what will really make a business a success, but that doesn’t mean every team member who comes your way is already a shining star. If you’ve done your job during the hiring process, however, they’ve got what it takes to get there.

The next step is unlocking all that potential within. I won’t lie to you, it’s going to take a great deal of hard work. It’s going to be frustrating at times. It’s going to seem like you want them to succeed more than they do. It’s going to require you, as the leader, not just to push your employees, but also to push yourself.

When all that potential begins to shine through, you can entrust your team members with more daunting tasks and responsibilities. While this may seem like a bad idea—as if guiding those team members would take away from what you do—what’s actually happening is that you are freeing yourself up to realize your full potential. You can stand tall and tackle things you never had the time or the brain power to ever consider before.

And the cycle goes round and round. They get better, you get better, and on and on until there is more awesomeness than any business could reasonably handle.

Unlocking What Lies Within

Seeking out qualified team members and investing your time into their personal success can be tricky, but that’s why you’re in a leadership position, now isn’t it? By giving your team members to the power to think, speak, act, react, and even fail, you are helping them each to become the best version of themselves both in and out of work, and there’s no greater gift. With some serious hard work and plenty of guidance from you, the team members that you are responsible for will be able to unlock potential no one could have imagined actually existed.

What are you currently doing to unlock the potential of those around you?

glasses on top of a laptop

Valuable Steps For Good Decision Making

Leaders are tasked with making all sorts of decisions every day from picking the entertainer at the office’s holiday party to making the final call on a problem that will have huge effects on the business’ overall success. It can be a stressful job, but it is almost definitely a rewarding one. Being a good problem solver and having the ability to make quick, sound decisions is essential for any leader, so let’s look at what steps you can take to help you make the best call every single time.

Identify The Issue

Just because there is a problem doesn’t mean that the situation is completely clear. Your first step should always be to define the issue and afford yourself some clarity. Some matters will be more urgent than others and you first must determine if immediate action is necessary. Then, you can move forward with the next steps.

Gather The Facts

In order to make a good decision, you must be properly informed, so do your research. Not all issues that arise will require you to engage in this step in such detail, but this step is still necessary, even for smaller decisions, so start gathering information so you know what you’re talking about.

Start Thinking

This is the part where you get creative. Think about different ways you can solve the problem while considering what options are available to you, who can assist you, and most importantly, what outcome you’d like to achieve.

Write some stuff down. Make a pros and cons list. Get all your thoughts out of your head and organize them in a way that affords you more clarity. This will help you see everything before you and weigh all the key aspects of this important decision.

Make A Choice

At this point, you couldn’t be any better informed then you are now. The time has come to pick a course of action. Always remember, however, that you are making the best decision depending on the situation for your brand, your company, your customer, whatever it may be. The right call is a strategic move and it isn’t always going to make everyone ecstatic. Making everyone happy isn’t your job; your job is to make the tough call that is going to be the most beneficial for everyone involved.

Follow Up

As with everything else in business, following up is always a stellar plan. Also, it’s the best way to determine if your decision was, in fact, the best one possible. You may gather insight after the fact that can help you do things even better next time. Following up is a crucial step for each and every decision you make.

Good Decision Making Is Essential For Good Leadership

Making the tough calls is just part of the job, and the choices you make will affect everyone around you. These steps will help ensure that you are able to make the best call every time, and in turn, become the best leader you can possibly be.

man following through on his business goals

3 Tips For Following Through

So New Year’s has come and gone quite some time ago. Were you one of those people who gave yourself a goal to reach this year in business or in your personal life? If you didn’t, you’re one of the majority who had too much trouble with follow through to make their vision a reality Following through is essential for success both at work and at home; without it, things simply don’t get done.

1. Don’t Overdo It

One of the biggest killers of goals is when you pile more goals on your plate than you can reasonably stomach. This is the best way to split your focus and ensure that if anything does actually get done, it won’t get done well. Many leaders (too many leaders) are highly concerned with output. How much business are we doing? What do our numbers look like? How can we grow this part of our business?

While there certainly isn’t anything wrong with finding ways to grow, you must do it in an organized, thoughtful way that doesn’t impede your ability to complete any one step well. Keep things simple whenever possible. Once your goal has been achieved, you can always pick a new goal.

2. Be Consistent

Consistency is going to be important for just about everything you do, and follow through is no exception. This means being dedicated to your goal every day. Not one a week, not one every three days, but every day. Make a plan and stick to it. After 21 days, habits become routines, and routines help people stay consistent with their efforts.

Everyone needs a little momentum—no pun intended, really—to stay consistent. It’s something that takes practice and diligence, but consistency is key for success. It’s a great skill to have so try it out, I bet it looks good on you.

3. Get Support

Everyone needs support, there’s just no way around that. The feeling of strength behind you is enough to keep you upright even in the most trying of times. Your chances of achieving your goal increase by quite a lot when you have a person or a team standing in your corner.

So it’s a no brainer: get the support you need. This helps with follow through because a strong support system will not only be there for you to lean on, but will also help to keep you accountable so you can follow through on your goals each and every time.

Time For Action

Think carefully about these steps. Go over in your mind how you might apply each one to your current goal set. How many goals can you realistically tackle at one time? What habits will you commit to that will ensure your consistency in all things? Who is best to support you in your endeavours.

Once you’ve had an opportunity to really think about how these three apply to you, it’s time to put each one into practice and start following through. You can do it! Contact Momentum if you need help.

leadership team riding a rollercoaster

Rewarding Adults Gets Results For Business

We know from experience that adults repeat behaviors that are rewarded. It’s just that simple. A reward indicates that you’ve done something right, and that’s typically what people want to hear. There are situations where negativity can motivate change, but ultimately, positivity is what drives people, and rewards are the best way to do that. When you take a moment to think about what motivates you, you’ll better be able to serve your employees.

Stop Being So Negative

It happens every day. People in leadership roles see things that they don’t like. Productivity is down, quality is poor, and the numbers don’t add up just the way we’d like. Some immediately resort to negativity. They yell, they scold, they threaten. These tactics will likely have some short term effects. (No one wants to lose their job after all.) In the long run, however, these tactics don’t foster a culture of openness, respect, and productivity.

If you want to see consistent results, consider switching your strategy up and start focusing on rewards.

Focus On The Positive

Rewards resonate with everyone. There’s no single person who won’t benefit from a reward, and when they receive one, team members are going to go the extra mile to get that reward again. Leaders have two effective options when it comes to doling out rewards:

  1. The Emotional Paycheck. This tactic is often overlooked, but it is seriously important for teams. A pat on the back, recognition of a job well done, and some kind uplifting words will always make a difference. Too many workers don’t feel appreciated at their jobs. This affects not only the way they work, but also their willingness to continue to work for your company.
    The emotional paycheck works when you are very specific. Just saying “thanks” really isn’t enough. Tell your team member exactly what they did that you liked and explain to they why you liked it.
  1. Merit-Based Rewards. There is a reason that salespeople get commission. The extra financial compensation drives them to perform the same behavior—making sales. That’s what benefits the company, so the company rewards them for doing it. Merit based rewards can come in the form of a bonus check or a gas gift card. There are many different ways that you can show your appreciation for an employee’s great work financially.

Rewards Are A Powerful Tool

Children and animals aren’t the only ones who respond favorably to getting something they like. Adults do as well, and that is a fact that too many businesses completely overlook. Rewards are a powerful tool when it comes to influencing the people around you. If you catch your team members doing something you like, reward them for it, and you can bet that the behavior will be repeated. Getting your employees to continue to perform the way that you want and need them to is going to be an important component to your business’ success. Think about making the emotional paycheck and merit-based rewards a regular part of your regular strategy.

Bill Anderson of Momentum Coaching & Consulting listening to a client talk about leadership

Who Is A Leader?

“Leader” is a term that is widely distributed these days, but not everyone lives up to that title. Yes there are traits and characteristics of good leaders, but what really defines a leader is her actions. Dee Hock once said, “A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” This is truly eloquent  and truly relevant for anyone who sees themselves in a position of power.

Knows The Way

Leaders must know the way. This means that in order to succeed in a leadership role, you need to be able to possess superior logic skills. Not all of the solutions have a black and white answer, so you must be able to think about things at a very high level. It’s understandable that you may not “know the way” each and every time, but it’s imperative that you are able to find your way there one way or another.

“Knowing the way” sounds so matter of fact, but it’s really not. It’s more about a leader’s ability to reason and make sound decisions when the time comes. Most leaders don’t “know”, but the best ones have the necessary skills to figure it out.

Goes The Way

You should be modeling the behaviour you wish others to follow at all times. It’s not fair to expect a team member to perform at a level that you haven’t yet achieved yourself. When you “go the way” as a leader in your organization you are doing more than just acting as a role model; you are also earning respect. Doing everything in your power to benefit not just your business, but the people around you, builds accountability and trust. When you step up to the plate each and everyday, it inspires those around you to do the same.

Going the way, however, doesn’t mean doing it all yourself. Great leaders also spend time asking and listening; they let go of their egos and help others to move forward as well.

Shows The Way

There is a big difference between being a boss and being a leader. A boss assigns tasks; a leader guides. A boss uses the team to get the job done; a leader utilizes the strengths of the team. A boss knows; a leader shows.

It’s a leader’s job to make sure that her work, her team, her business, and her brand are successful—and you don’t do that by being a one woman show. A strong leader will motivate not only by doing things correctly, but by showing others that they can do things too. Creating an atmosphere of collaboration and support is what differentiates the bosses from the leaders.

Become A Leader

While some great leaders are born, most are made. Leadership takes work, and it’s ongoing process. With the right mindset, some hard work, and dedication, bosses have the potential to become efficient leaders that know the way, go the way, and show the way. Do you have what it takes to make the switch from boss to leader?