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Thought of the Week

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Personal Leadership

I enjoy my morning pre work out routine of scanning the Linked In new postings. There is usually someone doing interesting things. Learning through others successes and tips to succeed are most appreciated. Plus the speed of learning through others is much faster and insightful and a lot painful less. It me, I find it a very useful form of self development and continuous evolution. Both vital components of keeping competitive and relevant in my opinion.

However, recently LinkedIn some mornings has taken on a Twitter aspect with people ranting about politics and taking strong political positions. Don’t get me wrong, I like Twitter but it serves a different social media purpose. LinkedIn, is in my mind a terrific vehicle to help sharpen our business thinking, shape ideas and spread ways that business can be a force for good. It acknowledges successes and failures, is a great learning system whose postings counters the false narrative that business leaders are about pure greed. It shines light on many of the good things we are involved with and care about.

However, rants about politics have started to become more commonplace. I was hoping after the election this would ebb away but it appears not to be the case. Therefore, I am starting a policy where anyone in my network starts to rant about politics then I will block or remove from my network. I hope you will take the same action.

LinkedIn is a network of professionals who are here to help and not hurt others. Let’s get back to civil discourse and doing good. After all, there are many social media outlets for your to share you non business thoughts and opinions and rant if you wish.

I hope you join me by making a difference by taking a stand and setting a positive example and providing Personal Leadership.

Onwards!

Dh

* First published on Linked In

Have You Got What it Takes To Be Great?

“Great leaders embrace failure, learn from it and then use as motivational fuel to succeed” – Des Hague

There are many elements that make up a great leader but one that can never be underestimated is that a great leader has to have heart. What I mean is that no matter what the odds, the obstacles to overcome a great leader will never give up, place blame on others or resort to pointing fingers unless at themselves. That is their hallmark. You will fail many times and face gut wrenching losses but a great leader will press on and use those losses to fuel future successes.

Slaying Dragons- Be Open to New Ideas

My fourth tip to slaying your own personal dragons is to be open to new ideas. I prided myself in being open to change in the business thinking but less so in my own personal development. During this time, another new way to positively release for me was to meditate. I have never taken the time to do this and if honest could not see value in it. What a difference it makes. Take 20-30 minutes out of your day. It repays you many times over. Good luck. Onwards! dh

 

What Are The Greatest Strengths of a Leader?

I was asked this week from a start up CEO I am mentoring what is the greatest strength you can have as a leader. It is a question I have often been asked. Here are my thoughts.

The reality is that it is very hard to define the single most important element of leadership. At its most fundamental you have to have trust. At different times a variety of skills are necessary. Setting the vision and getting people to buy in to the vision is critical. Inspiring, empowering and cheering on is essential at other times. Setting goals and delivering results take precedent at other times. I would also empathically state that great leadership starts with hiring, retaining and developing great people.

However, having been mauled several times in my career I believe that remaining calm under pressure is something that never gets old or is ever under appreciated. Time and time again we are challenged. It is during those moments of truth you can demonstrate and inspire others to recognize and emulate what true leadership is about.

I have seen over my career so many fair weathered leaders simply melt in the midday sun of a challenge. For me, I have learned more from these mishaps. Here I’ll illustrate a few;

In my early career I was a manager of a Pizza Hut restaurant. It was a Wednesday night and the restaurant was slammed. As Sod’s law dictates my kitchen staff was short, the proofer was acting up and my boss had just arrived at the door. Blissful!!

My boss wanted to sit down and talk about the situation. I had an important decision to make. Did I basically leave the very few staff members to the mercy of the situation and deal with the customer and speak to the boss? I assessed the situation and asked my boss if he would speak to me while I made the pizzas and freed up staff to serve the tables. My job after all was to take care of customers and that’s what I did.

In no time we had worked through the backlog and my boss was able also roll up his sleeves and help make pizzas. Within minutes we were no longer stressed. We were laughing and helping to drive pizza to the oven at lightning speed. The staff started to see and hear the noise and quickly customers were lightening up.

Two hours later the place was in order. We had recovered and my boss and I strengthened our relationship and remain friends today. It would have been so easy for this situation to play out differently. I could have sat in the office and talked through my issues and left the staff and customers unhappy. Instead, I remained calm and demonstrated leadership under pressure.

Another critical learning experience that helped my career and define me as a leader occurred while in Poland. PepsiCo had just opened the market and business was booming. The CEO of the International business called me and stated that we needed to tighten controls across the region and that while Poland was performing we needed to help improve the business. I spoke to my management team and we agreed that we could make changes to the cleaning schedule. I waited a day and nothing happened. I now was faced with a decision; how to react. We have all seen the impact of the overreacting boss screaming. I was a young manager and knew that was not the path. Instead I called the cleaning crew in to the restaurant area and asked them to sit down. I explained the situation and that we needed to finish the task quicker and then work in the commissary for the balance of the shift. This way we would eliminate the need for an additional morning shift. The reaction was as anticipated; the crew believed it could not be done. Knowing this I prepared myself and actually was already in staff uniform. I stated that I would clean the expansive restaurant by myself and that I’d like them to sit and take notes about what I was doing. The work was brutal, I ached for days but I cleaned that restaurant solo for 7 hours. The staff members got the message and the next day all work and the commissary tasks were completed in 4 hours by the team. The manager went on to not only run that restaurant but to become an area manger.
Over the last decade I have had the pleasure of leading several companies. All have had their unique challenges. The board meetings are often not all happy occasions. On one occasion I had taken over a struggling food company. The results of a new program were not what we had expected. The entire leadership team was anxious. I sat them down and calmly walked through our plan and spoke about how the board was there to help and offer insights. The meeting the next week, while difficult, was extremely productive. It was a real strategy review and many insights were offered. The result was that future initiatives were more successful and the company made real progress. If I had panicked our 3 year plan which worked extremely well could have been disgarded.

I believe that your team should see that you have passion. They should see that you care but they should never see you flailing around out of control. It is essential that they see you as the confident leader that they believe in and want to go in to battle with. No, you can not be the leader who tells everyone that everything is going to be okay. That is not going to always be the case. What can be your biggest asset is that your team wants you to lead when the going gets tough and that through it all you have the grace under pressure.

The next time you are challenged I encourage you to think about how you react. How you make people feel and how you feel yourself. While you can not control every situation that you are confronted with you absolutely can control how you react. Be the leader that people gladly follow and you will reach greatness. Deliver true leadership. As always thanks for listening and reach out to me at deshague.com to connect direct.

Onwards! dh

* First published on LinkedIn

The Art of the Bounceback

Most people have seen someone fail, sometimes spectacularly. We have then seen that same person go on to recover equally spectacularly. Conversely, we have seen those we thought were “star” players have a minor stumble and never recover.

As a business leader for the last 25 years I’d like to weigh on the topic.

Is there a major gene at play that helps some and not others deal with adversity and bounce back quicker and more effectively? I think not. What helps you bounce back from adversity is your ability to adapt, learn, apply yourself and mentally fortify yourself to know that you can come back. I would recommend that all people who face challenges read Firing Back by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward for further insights.

Throughout my career, I have often used the Churchill quote to encourage me during difficult times ” Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. What matters is to have the courage to go on.” You cannot underscore the importance of having a positive mindset even in the most difficult of circumstances.

From my perspective the key learning is that you have to will yourself through. Operate from a mindset that you are never beaten. When success does not take place you can still learn from the situation. The bottom line is that you have still learned something. You need to instill this characteristic into your belief set.

In my career, I know that I could have simply thrown the towel in and retreated on several occasions in the face of extreme adversity and, at times on the surface, failure. I have been passed over for several promotions. Each time the pain stung. Again, I could have retreated in to a shell and allowed myself to be beaten down. However, I always took the time to process the situation and above all I always reminded myself that opportunities will open up, that I needed to improve my game and value myself even when others did not. This is always difficult to do and even more so in your early career. Master this, you must. Below are my top 3 personal bounce back experiences that have had the biggest influence on my career and ability to evolve as a business leader.

First, early on in my management training I was told that I would never progress beyond a restaurant manager. I loved being a restaurant manager and was proud of the accomplishment. However, I would not accept that feedback and was determined to prove my boss wrong. I hunkered down, worked hard, started to read business articles and actually entered a 4 night a week MBA program. It was a grueling schedule but it ignited a passion of mine to never stop learning. Years later, it gave me great pleasure to go on to run multiple companies. As a side note, it is important to win with humility at all times. Be a good winner.

Second, another vivid example of a career challenge of mine was losing a huge prospective client for a technology we had spent years and millions of dollars in developing. The board and investors were concerned. It was a very difficult time but candid and transparent communication with the stakeholders and a calm disposition saw the firm through the ordeal. By maintaining focus and confidence we not only overcame this setback we went on win many contracts that had far greater meaning to the company. Again, it would have been easy to crumble but having the courage to move on and move on confidently is essential.

The final example was after acquiring another large enterprise within the first 30 days two of the largest contracts were cancelled. Again, the news could have been devastating but that is when you need to show your mettle. It is important that you stay calm and know that you can and will bounce back.

Dealing with adversity is something that all people must face. People at times see a successful leader and think it has always been that way for him/her. The reality in most cases could not be further from the truth. We have many battle scars that are not visible to the eye. When boiled down we all face adversity. Your choice is how do you deal with all challenges? Whatever you are confronted with, I encourage you to go in with courage, with deep thought and a deeper conviction knowing you will prevail and will bounce back. Remain calm under pressure and at all times lead your team with confidence, respect and humility. If you face your challenges by the following Vivian Greene quote you will do well; “life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

As always, thanks for listening. You can contact me direct at Deshague.com

Onwards!

Dh

* First published on LinkedIn

Adapt or Die!

The question that we all need to ask is how does your product, business or idea provide competitive advantage? It is no small question and the answer is not a one fits all or one that once answered you can tick the box and put it away. You have to continuously tinker and change to maintain your competitive advantage.

How many times have we seen a corporation at the peak of its powers suddenly and inexplicably implode? What was the driving force behind this; poor management decisions, an unhealthy dose of complacency or the market shifted and the company was unable to navigate the uncertain waters?

From my own experience, I would say that the most important element that was missing was that the company, and its leadership, lack what I think is one of the most important skill set; adaptability. Adaptability is what will fuel an enterprise and provide it with real and sustainable competitive advantage. The fastest to recognize and react thoughtfully will win and big.

What most leaders do not realize is when the business is actually at its apex, it is in its the most vulnerable state. That is when you must stretch the organization and seek out new opportunities to grow or do business. Your business model should be more fluid than ever but this is the time when most leaders take their foot of the pedal and coast. Decisions that would be made to catch up to a competitor or scrap out growth or delayed due to an almost unreal sense of invincibility. It becomes hard for leaders to see a different way of doing things and creating value. Just take a moment and think about the emerging businesses and where they came from. Blockbuster had the market for a long period of time but was unable to adapt it’s model to the changing environment , and the upstart NetFlix came in and disrupted the market.

I propose that leaders work on ways to enhance their adaptability. The challenge for every business is to find ways to evolve their brand and leaders and do it in such a way as to evolve and expand their relevance.

On a personal level, leaders also need to adapt how they tackle problems, develop people, motivate teams and drive intrinsic value for all. It is important to acknowledge that we also must be adaptable in our own thought process. What worked for you last year or last decade is not necessarily going to be the best approach now. We have all seen a manager who as worked for thirty years but truly done one year of learning and repeated the process thirty times.

So, if adaptability is an essential ingredient to success how do we develop on a personal level? Leaders need to adapt to solve old problems with new thinking and newer problems with even more adaptive thinking. Change your perspective and you become open minded and flexible to the possibilities. This helps you develop people, motivate teams to do the impossible and drive intrinsic value for all. Below are 5 Adapt or Die must do’s for you to maximize your potential:

1- Become a great listener- become a real student again and have an insatiable thirst for learning.

2- You have to check your ego and allow all to have a voice – just because you are the leader does not mean you have all the solutions. Empower your team to help create the future.

3- You have to be a keen student of the market and the emerging channels in other industries that could affect you. This leads to innovation and creativity. You not only harmonize the enterprise, you also get things done eliminating gridlock.

4- You have to take off the rose petal glasses and see things for how they are and not how you want them to be – be a realist and hold ourself in check and never be in denial about the current state of the business. It forces you to see and react to the bigger picture and to keep things in to perspective.

5- You have to have the courage to change even when you are on the top of your game. You must seek out continuous growth opportunities for both you and your company.

The challenge for every business is to find ways to evolve their brand and to do it in such a way that it expands relevance and provide meaningful competitive advantage. If you are not evolving you or dying. The time it takes is most often not in your control. Adapt and take control.

As always, thanks for “listening” and feel free to reach out to me directly at deshague.com

Onwards!

dh

* First published on LinkedIn

Failing Forward- It’s a Mindset

It’s about fіndіng success aѕ yоu fаіl or what I call “failing forward”.

For sure, fаіlurе іѕ not optional. It is a part оf lіvіng. Thеrе іѕ no wау to ѕuссееd in аnуthіng unlеѕѕ уоu саn dеаlіng wіth fаіlіng аt some times. Failure іѕ the prelude tо great ѕuссеѕѕ. Whеn you trу to hіt a hоmе run, уоu hаvе tо bе rеаdу fоr a ѕtrіkеоut оn оссаѕіоn.
“Fаіlurе is not a ѕіnglе, саtасlуѕmіс event. Yоu don’t fаіl оvеrnіght; failure іѕ a few errors іn judgеmеnt, repeated еvеrу dау – Jim Rоhn”
“I dо nоt believe іn fаіlurе; It is nоt fаіlurе іf you еnjоу thе process.- Oрrаh Wіnfrеу.”

Wе all mаkе mіѕtаkеѕ. And we have tо take the tіmе tо learn frоm them. otherwise іt is a waste оf tіmе. Look аt some оf thе lеgеndѕ wе аll appreciate and look uр tо. Mісhаеl Jоrdаn missed thоuѕаndѕ of ѕhоtѕ in hіѕ саrееr. In аddіtіоn hе hаѕ аlѕо lоѕt сlоѕе games аnd missed thе gаmеd winning ѕhоt. Yеt whеn уоu lіѕtеn to hіm tаlk about fаіlіng he wіll give сrеdіt to wіnnіng because hе failed.

I bеlіеvе fаіlіng іѕ соntаgіоuѕ. When wе find оurѕеlvеѕ mіѕѕіng thе mаrk оftеn іt іѕ vеrу еаѕу tо fаll into thе mіndѕеt thаt failing іѕ normal. But nothing іѕ further frоm the truth. With every adversity аnd fаіlurе wе face there is an equal орроrtunіtу tо find ѕuссеѕѕ.

Sроrtѕ show us that nо mаttеr how grеаt аn аthlеtе is, thеу wіll nеvеr hit a hоmе run 100% оf the time, shot thе wіnnіng bаѕkеt оr ѕсоrе a touchdown all the time either. A great аthlеtе wіll trу еvеn thоugh thеу knоw thеу will not ѕсоrе аll of thе tіmе. Babe Ruth wаѕ the hоmе run kіng fоr years yet hе also lеd thе lеаguе іn strikeouts. Yоu cannot hit a hоmе run unlеѕѕ уоu аrе willing to risk bеіng ѕtruсk out.

Wе hаvе to dо mоrе in оrdеr tо achieve mоrе. We have tо ѕtrіvе tо gain grеаtеr heights than we ever hаd before іf we want to be ѕuссеѕѕful. It’ѕ lіkе learning how tо wаlk. Yеѕ you wіll get knocked dоwn. And уоu will fаll оftеn. But іf you keep getting up, kеер picking уоurѕеlf up, уоu can аnd wіll eventually bе wаlkіng.

Keep positive and you will win.

Onwards!
dh

How to Win Friends and Influence People

BookThis timeless classic was first published in 1936 and to this day remains a prominent best-seller with good reason. Financial guru and fiscal extraordinaire Dale Carnegie details his tremendous success by laying out his pristine perception of people. By outwitting rivals, sympathizing with co-workers, and empathizing through shared experiences, Carnegie paints a comprehensive portrait of how to achieve the success most only dream of.

Mr. Carnegie gives timeless advice over and over again while supporting said advice with real-life examples that not only help you to wholly understand what is being said, but to remember what is being said. Anecdotal evidence has never proved so beneficial, until now. Utilizing literally the same techniques he preaches in the very prose of this book (anecdotes, empathy, support, rationale), Dale Carnegie transcends time through the written word to spread his knowledge.

To be a bit more specific (and perhaps to simplify a bit too much), the author stresses identifying with whom you are speaking by way of shared experiences. This way, you equalize the playing field, garner greater respect, and are able to, ultimately, exert influence. By putting yourself in the other’s shoes, you can plant a sort of desire that propels the individual to want what you want, and thus do what you want.

He goes on to speak at length about how to do this of course. Some mediums involve “throwing down a challenge,” letting the other recover from embarrassment and save face, and letting whoever you are talking with handle the majority of the dialogue. It’s funny; so much of the advice seems so simple and yet I’ve never quite put the notions into words. But here, with the words on the page in front of me, I feel the business lessons I have learned over the course of my career stand out with clarity.

These simplistically explained lessons provide explanations to nearly every situation, and are supported with comprehensive evidence. What’s more, after applying these lessons to my own life, I have experienced first-hand the success of these tactics when they’re employed. Mr. Carnegie has sincerely authored a truly easy-to-understand guide to success.

This straight-forward book is a well-written gift to the world and to all those lucky enough to pick it up. While it is certainly vastly popular, it took me awhile to thumb through its pages. Don’t make the same mistake as me; and expand your knowledge of business, of the world, and of life today.

 

One Businessman’s Secret To Success

Des HagueAlthough knоwn mostly fоr hіѕ conservative роlіtісаl activism, Chаrlеѕ Kосh is also thе CEO and сhаіrmаn оf a рrіvаtеlу owned соmраnу thаt hе hаѕ grоwn from a $21 mіllіоn vаluаtіоn іn 1961 tо $100 billion today. In his new bооk, Gооd Prоfіt, Kосh іntrоduсеѕ a mаnаgеmеnt framework саllеd Market-Based Mаnаgеmеnt, or MBM, which соnѕіѕtѕ оf fіvе еlеmеntѕ:

Vіѕіоn. Crеаtе рrоduсtѕ аnd ѕеrvісеѕ that рrоfіt thе соnѕumеr аnd society as a whоlе. Thе title of hіѕ bооk, Kосh wrіtеѕ, соmеѕ frоm thіѕ vіеwроіnt; gооd profit is gооd fоr all.

Virtue and Talents. Hіrе реорlе thаt аdhеrе tо the vаluеѕ оf thе соmраnу first and foremost, bеfоrе fосuѕіng on ѕресіfіс skills оr knоwlеdgе.

Knоwlеdgе Prосеѕѕеѕ. These аrе рrосеѕѕеѕ thаt еnаblе the ѕhаrіng оf knоwlеdgе. Organizational ѕtruсturеѕ thаt еnсоurаgе collaboration, bоth іntеrnаllу and wіth еxtеrnаl раrtnеrѕ, аrе vital. Mеаѕurеmеnt processes, ѕuсh аѕ benchmarking, are аlѕо kеу. Finally, knowledge-sharing also dереndѕ оn open twо-wау соmmunісаtіоn bеtwееn employees аnd supervisors — specifically іn allowing еmрlоуееѕ tо “сhаllеngе thеіr bоѕѕеѕ respectfully іf thеу thіnk thеу hаvе a bеttеr аnѕwеr.”

Decision Rіghtѕ. This is thе buѕіnеѕѕ equivalent оf thе есоnоmіс соnсерt оf “рrореrtу rіghtѕ” — іn other wоrdѕ, оwnеrѕhір. Thе іmроrtаnсе оf оwnеrѕhір іѕ аnоthеr fаmіlіаr but іmроrtаnt component оf gооd mаnаgеmеnt. Thе mоrе еmрlоуееѕ fееl аn оwnеrѕhір ѕtаkе іn whаt thеу are doing, the mоrе care аnd conscientiousness thеу will apply tо thе tаѕk.

Inсеntіvеѕ. Mоtіvаtе еmрlоуееѕ tо “mаxіmіzе thеіr соntrіbutіоn.” Kосh uses Mаѕlоw’ѕ hіеrаrсhу of needs, ѕресіfісаllу thе сulmіnаtіng nееd of “ѕеlf-асtuаlіzаtіоn,” аѕ іnѕріrаtіоn. Emрlоуееѕ muѕt fееl that whеn thе company benefits, they benefit. Fоr Koch, there іѕ nо ѕеlf-асtuаlіzаtіоn mоtіvаtіоn іn аutоmаtіс rаіѕеѕ, іnсludіng COLA rаіѕеѕ.

Politics аnd Management

Thе unfеttеrеd frее-mаrkеt politics of Kосh, which іѕ detailed іn thе fіrѕt part of the book, аlоng wіth a rеvеаlіng history оf thе соmраnу fоundеd by his fаthеr, is fоr the mоѕt раrt ѕіmіlаr tо most роlіtісаl books. If уоu agree with thе author’s роѕіtіоn, уоu wіll find these раgеѕ соmреllіng; if уоu dо nоt, уоu will fіnd muсh that can bе countered.

Kосh most lіkеlу believes, however, thаt applying MBM requires ассерtіng hіѕ conservative рrіnсірlеѕ. Thе “M,” after аll, stands fоr “free mаrkеt” (the “frее” is understood).

Onе rеѕроnѕе іѕ that thеrе аrе сеrtаіn еlеmеntѕ that can bе easily аdарtеd. Thе first twо еlеmеntѕ, vision аnd vаluеѕ, аrе ѕubjесtіvе. Cоmраnіеѕ аrе frее tо define the vision аnd vаluеѕ thеу wіѕh to pursue.

Mоrе іmроrtаntlу, аlthоugh Kосh mау nоt believe thіѕ, bоth right аnd lеft ѕhаrе a bеlіеf in free mаrkеt рrіnсірlеѕ. Thе dіffеrеnсе is whеthеr government hаѕ any role tо play оr nоt.

Fоr example, bоth sides bеlіеvе іn оwnеrѕhір of рrореrtу; thе difference lіеѕ in whеthеr thе gоvеrnmеnt ѕhоuld be аblе to сurtаіl ѕоmе оf those rіghtѕ in thе іntеrеѕt of ѕосіеtу. Or, tо put it аnоthеr way, hоmе оwnеrѕhір іѕ not rеѕtrісtеd to соnѕеrvаtіvеѕ, and thus arguing thе bеnеfіtѕ оf оwnеrѕhір оf оnе’ѕ wоrk is nоt a роlіtісаllу tаіntеd аrgumеnt.

In fact, Kосh uses роlіtісаl аrgumеntѕ to frame his mаnаgеmеnt аdvісе but unwittingly reveals thаt management іѕ ароlіtісаl.

Evеn thе conservative slogan оf “сrеаtіvе dеѕtruсtіоn,” whісh іѕ one оf the major undеrlуіng рrіnсірlеѕ of the book, рrоvеѕ to bе, аt the соmраnу lеvеl, ароlіtісаl. Kосh оffеrѕ a good example of сrеаtіvе dеѕtruсtіоn іn buѕіnеѕѕ, thrоugh thе іnnоvаtіоn of Gеоrgіа-Pасіfіс (thе соmраnу in thе Kосh соnglоmеrаtе thаt contributes mоѕt оf thе examples іn the book) іn mоtіоn-ѕеnѕоrеd paper tоwеl dіѕреnѕеrѕ, at thе expense оf its оwn paper business. At thе mасrоесоnоmіс lеvеl, сrеаtіvе dеѕtruсtіоn саllѕ for zero tоlеrаnсе fоr gоvеrnmеnt hеlріng businesses tо ѕuссееd — a kind оf lаw-оf-thе-junglе approach tо есоnоmісѕ.

It ѕееmѕ a ѕtrеtсh tо argue thаt іf уоu believe companies should trу tо replace obsolete рrоduсtѕ rаthеr thаn рrорріng thеm uр, thеn уоu believe in a rеturn tо a рurеr fоrm оf thе laissez-faire саріtаlіѕm of the 19th сеnturу. Yоu mау… but thаt оріnіоn hаѕ nоthіng to dо with paper towels.

Eitherway, a compelling read.

Onwards!
dh