Silvia Pencak is innovation expert, peak performance consultant and leadership coach helping your team outperform your competitors. Silvia is passionate about freedom. Freedom to be yourself. She strongly believes that every person on this earth is special and unique. Her mission is to help you discover and embrace your uniqueness, become the best YOU, create and live the life you will truly LOVE.
Organizations we work with here at Powerful Life Consulting (PLC) are scattered around the globe, providing wide array of products and services, yet they face similar challenges – people challenges. In order to build strong organizational structure or company, you MUST focus on people. Focusing on product or processes will only work if you have your entire production fully automated and people don’t need to touch any part of it. But no matter what level of automation you have in your company, chances are that you still hire people to oversee the technology, therefore I suggest that you pay attention to what I am going to share with you today. Let’s look at the core foundation of building a strong business or organization.
1. Make culture matter
Every company is different. Some companies care about team relationships, while others about the customer experience. It’s crucial that everyone who comes to the interview understands your culture and can align with it. Those who are part of your team MUST know, understand and act according to the values and company culture. In spite of all the articles out there discussing the importance of culture, it still amazes me how little emphasis some companies give to creating and communicating their values. Be quick to call people out when they break or bend company values. Whether it’s constantly yelling at co-workers, being disengaged, or lack of cooperation with the rest of the team, hold people accountable and be quick to fire when things go South.
2. Make performance matter
Every company should have measurable standards they regularly check. What are the roles and responsibilities? What is expected from each individual on a team? What are the individual and team goals? What is considered a minimum requirement? What would exceptional performance look like? What is considered unacceptable? Without such standards you will leave it up to each individual to set their own requirements, which might be very different from what you want to see. Don’t leave it to chances for people to know what is expected of them. Communicate it and check it. As Louis V. Gerstner, former CEO & Chairman of IBM famously said, “People don’t do what you expect, but what you inspect.” Be intentional about individual, team and company performance and you will see the improvement. Or let it slide and you will regret it in a long run.
3. Make teams matter
I strongly believe in team work. In spite of me being a capable and driven individual, my best results were created in collaboration and partnership with others, never alone. When teams are healthy, work gets easier, results are multiplied and people are well supported. To build healthy teams, you need to recognize great team players, support team diversity and act quickly when there is drag or leak in values or performance. Teams are fluid. People change. As a leader you must keep your finger on a pulse of your team. Know what challenges they go through, understand when they need additional support or a break. Celebrate their victories. And be willing to take action when a specific team member drags the entire team down. Make teams in your organization matter.
4. Make communication matter
It’s hard to be a part of the team when communication is broken. When people don’t have access to the necessary information or channels to request it, it can be extremely frustrating. Set standards in this area. How quickly should the emails be answered? How quickly should the resources be provided? What is the standard you expect when it comes to customer relations? How are the meetings scheduled and who gets invited? What happens when people don’t show up or don’t provide the information necessary? Communication is fluid. Your focus should be on its continuous improvement. Have standards in place and communicate them well and resolve any challenges as quickly as possible. Small misunderstanding can turn into a major fight when left unresolved.
5. Make relationships matter
People are complicated. They make mistakes, disappoint, underdeliver, frustrate, even betray you. People are unpredictable. But so do you. Nobody is perfect, which makes relationships challenging. Yet, good relationships make things easier. People will go above and beyond for those they have good relationships with. When you make relationships focus point of your leadership, you will win this game. Know your people, get to understand their struggles, life situations, know what they care about and what motivates them. Great leaders don’t treat everybody the same. They treat people according to where they are and what their needs are. They build relationships with individuals and foster relationships on a team. On the other hand, leaders protect those relationships and act quickly when these relationships are threatened or start deteriorating. Cultivate a culture where people are free to be themselves and rewarded for supporting each other.
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Starting a new leadership position can be both, exciting and frightening experience. What you do during your first days will contribute to your success or failure in a new role. Following are key strategies to help you understand where to begin as leader so that you win the game.
1. Take time to get to know your direct reports
Schedule time with each of your team members to get to introduce yourself, get to know them and to start building relationships. Some questions you might want to ask are information about their role and responsibilities, prior path and projects they’re currently working on. Taking time to get to know your direct reports is never wasted. When done well, you will learn about things that are done well and you should do more of them, things that need to be improved and things that you might want to stop doing altogether. The key is in you paying attention to what they share with you.
2. Find out who is who
Depending on the size of the organization, this might be a simple or overwhelming task. The longer the list, the more important it is for you to prioritize it. Who do you need to connect with first? Board members? Top clients? Partners? Boss? Executive team? Sponsors? Map out your strategy and initiate the conversations if necessary.
3. Fix your attitude
No matter your role or position, keep in mind that you are part of a larger organization and not everything is about you. Your role is an important part of a larger business. Your role as a leader is not about being bossy, but about creating environment in which people want to perform at their highest level and produce their best results.
4. Manage expectations
Things don’t always go according to a plan. Even the best plan faces obstacles and unexpected surprises. But having strategies in place to deal with them shows that you are reliable and credible. Beware of over promising and under delivering as this can become a quick sand under your feet.
Now that you know where to begin as leader, it might be a good idea to improve your leadership skills. Check our FREE Leadership Breakthrough eCourse to help you move forward quickly.
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Daily pressure. Expectations. Overwhelm. Responsibility. Challenges. People. Opinions. Business. Personal preferences. Family challenges. And much more. Balancing others’ expectations, professional choices and personal life can be tough at times. And somewhere behind fancy clothes, big house and recognition in community you know that things are not as pretty as you wish they were.
Broken relationships. Personal challenges. Things money can’t buy laughing in your face.
How can you find balance between who you want to be – a great leader making things happen and who you truly are – an imperfect human being with your own limitations?
Where can you find a safe space to be who you truly are, to voice your concerns, ask questions, be challenged and stretched to new heights?
There were times in my own life when I felt alone as a leader. Alone to make tough decisions and resolve the situations. I thought that leaders are lone rangers bracing the way for others. I thought it’s a curse of leadership to be lonely.
But I was wrong!
You don’t have to do it alone.
In fact, if you do, you will limit yourself. And by limiting yourself you will limit those you lead.
As a leader, you need to be intentional about increasing your own leadership level. You need to create an inner circle of people who will help you grow to the new heights.
The question isn’t whether you should have inner circle. The question is how you can create it and who will get the invitation.
I wrote an article on this topic couple months ago, looking at the inner circle from the team perspective. But today I want to look at your personal inner circle. John C. Maxwell said it brilliantly: “It’s hard to improve when you have no one but yourself to follow.”
It's hard to improve when you have no one but yourself to follow. ~ John C. Maxwell Click To Tweet
Here are 5 types of people you you need in your inner circle…
1. Role model
I find it incredibly valuable to have people who model the behaviour, action and results I want to see in my life. These are the people who impact me without even knowing about me. They live their lives, speak at events, write blogs and post on social media, share their lives for me to be inspired and hopefully transformed. Their stories, character or courage makes me go further and press through. I don’t want to be them, but I am inspired by them. Who models behaviour or results you want to see in your life? Learn how they got to that point, be inspired and make your way.
Just like role models, mentors are people who set a worthy example. But what makes them different is that they also make themselves available to you. Mentoring is a relationship. It’s a two-way road. Mentoring brings empowerment. Mentors equip and empower the person. There are couple things you want to look for when choosing a mentor.
Mentor needs to be better or more successful than you. You don’t want to learn from bad or average person.
Mentor needs to be an engaged listener. Without listening, they will not be able to fully understand your situation, leadership challenges or navigate you in the right direction.
Mentors ask great questions. Questions are the keys that unlock the locked door of opportunity. Questions lead to understanding, connection and improvement.
Great mentor has a humility. Mentor has to have enough humility to share his or her failures. Success stories impress people, but failure stories impact people. Humility creates an environment for learning and development.
Couple areas where you can add mentorship into your life: faith, relationships, leadership, health, and many more.
I believe in partnerships. They are not always easy (just look at the number of broken marriages), but when they survive the winds and storms, they make us better at the end. When I think of partnerships, I look back at the times when I was starting a non-profit organization. It was extremely challenging – unchartered territory, lots of unknowns, unexpected challenges, but also huge victories. I would never be able to do it alone. I had amazing partners on my side. A co-founder who stood by my side with advise and ready to pull the workload. My hubby who helped with advice and financial support. Advisor who supported me every step of the way with her advice and experiences. I might have been the face behind the organization, but it took a team effort to make it all happen.
Who is in your corner, cheering you on, supporting you and helping you out? Who can you count on when things get tough or in the midst or emergency? Don’t do it alone. Build your inner circle! Oh, and keep in mind that sharing same values is an important part of building strong partnerships that last.
Friends might not be above you. They might not even be at your level. But friends bring encouragement and fun into life. Friends make life worth living. Friends might not be able to help you professionally, but they can make you a better person.
You might have a title or a position, but you are not a true leader until you positively impacted someone else’s life. One of the greatest calls of leadership is to empower others. Yes, as a leader you impact your team, organization, stakeholders, but there still is a greater way to lead. That is to find a mentee to pass your lessons learned on to.
Leadership is a relay. You must pass the baton to win. If you climb to the top of the mountain and no one is following you, you are not a leader. You are a climber. Choose to be a leader. Choose to invest your time, skillset, talent and energy into someone who has the capacity and is hungry to grow. Mentees enlarge your life and your legacy. They make your message to outlive you.
Leadership is not a title or position. It is a positive #impact you make in the lives of others. Click To Tweet
Let’s have a closer look at your own leadership. Are you a lone ranger or do you have an inner circle? How can you improve your inner circle this week? Who is missing in your inner circle? How can you strengthen the existing relationships? Where can you find the new ones and how will you build these connections? How much time will you allocate to building your inner circle?
When you are considering starting your own business, there are many things you need to put in place. From choosing the right product/services for the right audience, to developing a strong business plan and getting just enough funding to get you through tough beginning stage.
Let’s look at the key components of building a strong foundation for your new venture.
1. Set strong boundaries right from the beginning
I’ve seen way too many business owners to jump ahead into building a business which backfired destroying their marriages, relationships, financials, and more. Keep in mind that you can’t build a strong business overnight. Competition is big, trust takes time to build, plus there is a learning curve to set up your systems and processes, hire team and connect with the right people. Before you jump in, understand the cost, have a solid plan and decide how much you will invest (e.g. time, money, resources) and what will be non-negotiable (e.g. relationships, time, personal wellbeing).
2. Choose the right business
Yes, you can go the trial and error path, jumping from one idea to another until you find something that sticks. And you wouldn’t be the only one to succeed this way. What I mean is not HOW you should find the right business, but what type of business you should choose. Make sure you pick something you enjoy doing, something you are passionate about. As I mentioned a minute ago, building a business is not easy. What’s the point in building a business you will despise couple years down the road or quit along the way?
3. Don’t put all the eggs in one basket
It’s good to focus on one thing until successful, but when you’re looking to build a strong business, looking at sustainability should always be in the back of your mind. Starting your business with one key customer can be great, but don’t stay there for long before looking for others who can propel you to the new heights and bring more sustainability. How can you protect your business from unexpected forces? Build your business in layers, creating multiple sources of income, tightening your security, protecting your assets, improving your customer experience, investing in your people and growing the profitability.
4. Surround yourself with wise advisors
Running a business can be a lonely place. And frustrating at times. Having mentors, advisors and professionals around you who walked the walk, have experience or expertise to help you make wise decisions, can speed up your success and prevent many mistakes. Be willing to listen and learn. You will be glad you did.
5. Learn as you go
Don’t try to figure everything out before you take a leap. I guarantee that you will never know everything, predict everything or understand everything. Sometimes you just have to be willing to take action, make things happen, learn from mistakes and move on. Choose to enjoy the journey and grow your business and yourself.
Our team put together a great resource to help you kick start your business called “Startup Guide” which dives even deeper into tips, tools and ideas to help you get your business off the ground. Get your complimentary access below.
Some entrepreneurs are surprised when I mention that the success of their company lies in their own leadership strengths. Many times they are so focused on improving their business, financial, sales and other skills that they completely forget that people buy from those they know, like and trust. They miss that the #1 reason why employees quit is not the salary, but bad leaders.
As a business owner you lead every day – your team, your operations, your marketing, your product quality, your customer relationships and more. Your business success is limited by your ability to lead. Today I want to focus on 7 key areas where your improved leadership skills can contribute to a tremendous improvement in your business.
1. Have and communicate a vision
Inspiring vision touches people’s hearts, inspires your team to achieve greater results and your customers to spend money with your company. Vision must be communicated properly and often to impact others. As a leader, ensure that your people know what you expect, what you stand for, and what you care about.
2. Lead by example
People don’t do what you tell them to do, they model your behaviour as a leader. To create a culture you desire to see in your business, you must show it in your daily life. Choose to do the things you require. Be a person of character. Expect more from yourself than you do from others. Hold yourself to higher standard. Model the desired behaviour and you will inspire others.
3. Set & protect boundaries
This point is inspired by the book “Boundaries for Leaders” by Henry Cloud which I’m currently reading. In his words, leaders must be ridiculously in charge. It’s not enough to lead by example. You must also protect your business from negative forces – undesirable behaviour, action or communication breakdowns. It’s necessary that you as a leader stop swiping the problems under the carpet, but point at the elephant in the room, address and resolve the challenges.
If you struggle with delegation, you are not alone. It isn’t easy to let go and trust others with tasks that you can do. But great leaders understand that their capacity is limited and by delegating tasks to others they actually increase this capacity. You see, there’s a limit on how much you can do in a day.
But when you bring someone else alongside of you, you just doubled the time available to you. Suddenly, you can do two things at the same time. Your assistant can take care of shipments and customer support while you work on marketing and sales. And when you bring a sales person who will take care of marketing and sales, you can focus on product development or improvement. And it goes on.
Furthermore, if you find people who do the work better than yourself, you will more than double your capacity. Which brings me to the next point…
5. Hire great people
By hiring great people I mean hiring people who are the “Right Fit” for the job, team and organization. They have the necessary knowledge and experiences, they are motivated and have the right attitude, but they also have the right strengths that will move your team forward.
Recognizing talent, contribution and achievement is detrimental to your business success. You will always get more of what you recognize & reward. Pay a close attention to your people. Notice even slight improvements in behaviour, performance, focus on building a momentum of great results and powerful teamwork. Recognizing the good will diminish the undesirable results or weak performance (warning: you still shouldn’t just tolerate those, but deal with them). Just ensure that you are being fair. Look at individual achievements, effort, commitment and reward based on personal strengths, not against them.
Let me give you an example. If you are someone who values innovation, you might have a tendency to reward only those who are innovative thinkers and make things happen quickly, in the spur of the moment. But if your company only had innovative people, it wouldn’t be sustainable. There would be so much change and disruption that it could lead to your team feeling overwhelmed and customers leaving. It might even create tension on your budget and ultimately threaten entire company. You need to notice and reward people who prevent that from happening. Those who see risks behind the quick decisions and create emergency plans and safety procedures to keep your business running smoothly. Those who make you evaluate your decision before you jump in and waste loads of money. Be a fair leader who sees strengths of each individual, whether they are team members, business partners, stakeholders, vendors or clients.
7. Communicate proactively & effectively
I left this one for the end, but communication is actually one of the most important leadership skills. As a leader you need to constantly improve your communication skills. To prevent creating ideas out of isolation, you need to create opportunities and invest time in listening to your people. You also need to be proactive in your communication. Prevent the rumours, address misunderstandings, resolve conflict. Don’t sit on it and hope for it to resolve itself. Things will only get worse! Build a good rapport with your people by being a person of your word. If you said you will do something, either do it or explain why it can’t be done. Don’t just dissolve it pretending the issue doesn’t exist.
Have you reached your full capacity as a leader of your business? I hope not. Being in a variety of leadership roles for over 15 years, I still haven’t arrived. There are many things I can still learn and improve. And I hope that you are like me… seeing the potential in your that you haven’t reached yet. I hope you can see at least one area where you can step up your game and make things better for your business, team or customers.
To your success,
PS: Our team put together a great resource called Leadership Breakthrough designed to help you improve your leadership skills. You can get it absolutely free, just click on the image below and claim your copy.
How’s business? Are you flying up high in the clouds or are you hustling to shift things around for you? No matter where you are today, we all face uncertainty and disruption at one point or another.
This is exactly where a lot of businesses in Ontario are these days. With all the changes at the provincial and federal level, many are grasping for air, trying to keep it together and stay afloat. What is it that’s discouraging you? What’s so hard that it makes you wonder how in the word you will get through?
Change. The most feared and despised word in dictionary. It can be unpredictable, unexpected and threatening. But it can also be exciting, progressive and transformational.
Today I want to help you look at change from a different perspective. To help you stop despising it and start leveraging the power of change. And hopefully to transform the way how you succeed in turbulent times. As a leader it’s important that in tough times you focus on the following priorities.
1. Keep in mind the definition of insanity
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. ~ Unknown Click To Tweet
Change forces you to think outside of the box, challenges your existing approaches and helps you improve. When done well, change can significantly improve your results and maximize your success. Sticking to the same old just because “we’ve always done it this way” is not going to move you forward. To create new and improved results, you need to change the input. When significant changes happen in marketplace, industry or economy, what brought you where you are now is not going to take you to the next level.
Pro tip: Stop wasting your time and energy on complaining and start thinking how to best leverage the situation at hand.
Look at change as opportunity to improve things and create new results. Click To Tweet
2. Be a positive example
People do what people see, not what they’re told. (Read more on this topic here) As a leader it is your responsibility to be in charge and lead the way through disruptions. This is why I prefer to use term change leadership instead of change management. You can’t manage change, but you can lead your people through it. Negativity catches on like a fire (and you’ll see a lot of it in the midst of disruption)… but so does positivity. Light shines the brightest in the darkness. When times are tough, that’s exactly when you need to dig deep, stay put and be a “CAN” person.
Pro tip: Invest in your own growth and development to be ready to lead when the times are tough. When things start falling apart, it will be too late to catch up.
Improve your leadership now. When times get tough, you will need all you'd learned to succeed. Click To Tweet
3. Support your team
Change can be challenging. Not just for you, but for your people as well. Find the ways to support your people through tough times. Find and empower trailblazers to help them shake things up and create the momentum. Protect and support those who are resistant to change and utilize their strengths to prevent potential disasters and problems. Every team member has a unique talent they bring to a table. Help them see their role in change initiatives and stop pushing cookie cutter approaches on everyone.
Pro tip: Celebrate team diversity and tap into team synergy. (More on this topic here)
4. Get help
In the midst of crisis we tend to go into survival thinking. Negativity kicks in and creativity seems to avoid us. We can’t see the forest for the trees in front of us. This is a great time to bring in external help. Someone with a different perspective who will challenge our thinking and navigate us in the right direction. A coach, a consultant, thinking partner, mastermind group, someone who is not focused on the trees, but can pin point the path. The faster you do so, the bigger the advantage you’ll have compared to your competitors.
Pro tip: Get help before you need help to move forward fast and get ahead of the game.
If you are in the midst of major disruptions, looking to improve things around, we can help. Contact us today to discuss your best approach to moving forward and maximizing the opportunities in front of you.
Some time ago I published an article revealing top 7 reasons why businesses fail and some of our readers were asking me to reveal the other side of the equation – what helps businesses succeed.
As an entrepreneur who is eager to build a thriving business myself, I am passionately reading about this topic, learning from the best out there, trying new approaches and moving away from what doesn’t work. Following are 7 key strategies I found incredibly helpful in building a successful business.
1. Do it YOUR way
I can’t strengthen this enough. Please note that as much as you like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson or Barbara Corcoran, you are not them. One thing they have in common is that they did it THEIR way. They tapped into their skills, abilities, creativity and made things happen. You need to know your strengths and use them if you want to succeed.
2. Ideas are great, execution is everything
Entrepreneurs are usually known as idea people. But truth to be told, ideas don’t take you anywhere. It’s execution that moves things forward, delivers results and pays the bills. You don’t need a million dollar idea to succeed. You need to solve your customers problems, grow your customer base and profits to succeed in business.
3. Build networks
Whether you love it or hate it, relationships are everything. When people don’t know about you, they can’t buy from you. You need to be obstinate about building meaningful relationships and expanding your network to grow your client base and team. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, it doesn’t change anything – your approach might vary, but the necessity to build your network will be the same. You don’t need to know everyone in your town to have a thriving business. But you surely need to know the right people who can support you, help you, advise you, introduce you, and more.
4. Speed up your decision making
I know, I know… Some people need to research the data and then evaluate it before making a decision while others jump on every idea. Even though timelines will be unique to each of us, faster decisions mean less delays and faster implementation.
5. Improve your business acumen
Leaders and entrepreneur aren’t born. They are grown. You must focus on learning and improving. Know your business inside and out, improve your management skills, sales skills, financial skills, leadership skills, communication skills, problem solving skills and more. The better you understand your business, how to handle (or even better, prevent) the disasters, how to build momentum and other business critical skills, the more successful your business will become. Stop being the bottleneck on your business. Choose to be a person of growth.
6. Build teams
This goes back to my first point. Wise leaders understand their strengths and they choose to focus their best time and energy in this zone and delegate the rest. To grow your business to the next level, it’s crucial that you surround yourself with people who have strengths in the areas of your weaknesses. Find people who are brilliant, smart, better than you. Invest in your people and help them succeed. Investing in your team is money well spent. Effective teams will always outperform any individual – no matter how smart, skilled or committed you are!
7. Create consistency
Consistency builds trust. Trust is essential for your customers to do business with you. How can you bring more consistency into your business? That’s a million dollar question! Look at your policies, procedures, systems, marketing, sales, materials, social media, website… is the experience consistent? Do your people know what to do, and how to do it? What processes can you introduce to improve your current results?
What other strategies or tactics do you use to grow and improve your business? Let me know at one of the social media platforms. > Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn
None of us wants to experience burnout. But the ugly truth is that most people who do, didn’t have it on their wish list. They didn’t strive to achieve it.
Sadly, burnout is a by-product of our actions or environment. It is a state of chronic stress that you experience at your work, life or because of your personality. To find out whether you are in the midst of burnout, check this article for a list of signs of burnout.
Today I want to take you through the causes of burnout to help you prevent it from occurring in your life or in your workplace. Let’s look at the 3 main causes of burnout.
1. Work-related causes
Work-related causes of burnout relate to your workplace. Most of the time, these are the external triggers that you have little say about like working in a very demanding workplace, under high pressure or unchallenging environment. Having a bad boss or toxic culture One of the top causes is being forced to work against your conative strengths, for example organized person working in chaotic environment or innovative individual working in an environment where everyone else is playing it safe.
2. Lifestyle causes
Lifestyle causes are related to how you manage your time and priorities. Way too many people exhaust their energy, working too much, taking no breaks, or getting too little sleep. Overcommitting to things you have no time or energy for or having no boundaries is a surefire way to burnout.
3. Personality causes
Personality causes are internal. Traits like perfectionism or high achiever can help you climb the ladder higher or faster, but are not really sustainable in a long run. Seeing all the mistakes leads to dissatisfaction, constant rework and negativism. It’s important to set up guards and protections to keep you sane and on target.
To learn more about burnout and discover strategies to prevent it, check Get Your Life Back telesummit where myself and other experts discuss topics related to burnout and peak productivity.