For this final installment in our leadership series, we wanted to highlight a leader who embodies all the leadership qualities we’ve discussed. Great leadership is not just about being in charge and having success – the real job of a leader is “moving from being responsible for the job to being responsible for the people,” even when that requires great personal sacrifice. The world desperately needs leaders like that right now.
As I think about the leaders who have impacted me – from teachers, to bosses, to all my heroes – there was one that stood out this week, someone who definitely belongs in the BOS Media Hall of Fame. His name is Jim Valvano.
If you have some time, the best way to learn about Jim Valvano’s leadership is through the movie Survive and Advance through ESPN+. It takes his experience as a college basketball coach, in particular in an unbelievably March Madness tournament run in 1982, and maps it with his own personal battle with cancer. “Survive and advance” became the story of his life both on and off the court.
If you don’t have ESPN+, you can get a glimpse into his story from this speech, when he was presented the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage on this exact date 29 years ago.
When I think about that speech, I always remember the simple advice he said would make every day successful. It’s summed up in three things:
- Number one is laugh.
- Number two is think – spend some time in thought.
- Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. “If you laugh, think and cry, that’s a heck of a day.”
Hearing this again, I thought about the BOS Media meetings we had this week, and the times our team got to laugh, think and cry together. It made me so proud to think of how we’re actually getting to live this out. This type of success really is so simple if we give ourselves time to make it a priority.
Which leads to my favorite story about Jim Valvano, which summarizes so much of who he was as a leader, as well as some of the most important values in my own life and work. It was a quote he heard at age 16 from Olympic Champion Bob Richards that shaped everything about who he would become:
“God must love ordinary people, because he made so many of us. Yet every single day, in every walk of life, ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things.”
Looking back at all the people Jim Valvano impacted, and his legacy as a leader, I think it all came down to one thing: he actually believed those words. He instilled that belief into people every time he walked into the room. As he said throughout his life, “the greatest gift you can give to someone is to believe in them.”
I hope you do something extraordinary today. But most importantly, I hope you’re a leader who believes the ordinary people around you really can be extraordinary.
I always thought that in order to be an amazing leader and a successful entrepreneur, you have to be driven, ambitious, extremely creative, and charismatic. While some of that might be true and can definitely help…I am now convinced that great leadership and entrepreneurship rely on a very different set of skills:
That’s the takeaway we’ve learned over and over as we listen to the best business leaders: Leadership is no longer about you – it’s about serving someone else. It’s not about how great you are or how well you get the job done. You are now measured by how great your team is and how well they are thriving and doing the work.
So let’s get practical. If you want to be a great leader in your organization, your title needs to change. From now on, think of yourself as:
Chief Goal Officer.
Instead of pushing to be that charismatic, driven, creative person who’s trying to get everyone on board your mission, think about THEIR mission. How can you help the people you work with find the best path for THEM, for what THEY want to accomplish?
The worst advice you can give someone is what YOU would do, not what they should do. You’re not them. The thing that works for you might now work for everyone. In fact, it could actually screw them up really badly.
So what does it mean to step into a new role as Chief Goal Officer? Here are three key elements:
- ONE WORD. It starts by getting to know your people – how are they wired? I’m not saying you’re going to understand everything about them, but start with this: What is their One Word? What is the core value that drives them?
- FIND THEIR AMBITION, If you know what’s motivating them, from there you can look to the future. What is the dream that they’re pursuing down the road? How can you help them get there?
- RUN A PARALLEL PATH. How can you connect their current work to the goal ahead? Make that path visible for them, and be a stepping stone toward their success. So many of us operate like we’re afraid to lose people when we should actually be celebrating – if we do this right, we get to be part of seeing a lot of dreams become reality.
As we wrap up, I would love to hear about what you think great leadership is.
- Who’s a great leader in your life?
- What skills do they possess?
- Why does that make you thrive in what you do?
Please share your thoughts with me and let’s keep learning together!
To truly understand this subject line, you have to take 12 minutes and watch one of the best leadership videos in the history of TED.
In the meantime, I’ll offer you a summary on behalf of all the optimists here at BOS Media: we believe things can be better when leaders step up and stop micromanaging.
Last week, we talked about the difference between a leader and a manager. In his TED talk, Chieh Huang gives a funny but sadly all too true definition of micromanagement:
“What is micromanagement? Taking great, wonderful and imaginative people, bringing them into an organization, and crushing their souls.”
“Crushing their souls” might sound dramatic, but he actually had the data to back it up. A study that followed 100 hospital workers over a 12-hour day found that their level of fatigue was not correlated with the amount of activity during their shift; the ones who felt the most fatigued were the ones who didn’t have control over their jobs.
Micromanagement wears people out.
But as we talked about last week, there is a risk that leaders must be willing to take if they’re going to graduate from being micromanagers. There is a chance that, on their own, people below you might fail more.
But ask yourself: is failure really the worst thing? It doesn’t mean we have to “celebrate failure,” but what if it’s a necessary milestone on the mission toward success? Most of the wisdom we gain over the years comes by learning from our mistakes – is it really so bad to let people have those experiences?
Chieh ultimately came to a realization in his conversion from being a micromanager – while the downside is people might fail more often, the upside is smart, imaginative people who don’t have their souls crushed might come up with new ideas that you would have never thought of. They might not do the job exactly the way you would have… they might do it better.
In the end, the only solution to micromanagement is: to trust.
Here’s to not crushing people’s souls!
Have you ever had a job that you were just crushing? You were so good at it that eventually, you got promoted!! Well, congratulations! You are now a manager, managing people…which is fine, but soon, you’ll realize it’s an entirely different skillset AND mindset. Yikes!
Last week, we kicked off a new series about leadership. It comes after we took some time looking at the origin stories of some very successful companies. Almost all of them “started from the bottom” before reaching their goal; for this month, our question is: What did they learn when they got to the top?
One of the most important things to note is the TRANSITION that needs to occur between the bottom and the top. An executive coach I respect phrases it this way: “What got you here won’t get you there.”
Here’s how the leadership gurus understand it: Most people rise to the top by being good at their jobs. You go to school and get training so you can show up to work and be competent. If you’re good, you get promoted, which means you’re now in charge of the people doing the job you used to do.
And this is how micro-managers are born. The reason they’re over people’s shoulders making their subordinates feel like they can do the job better is because they can do the job better – that’s why they were promoted. But they haven’t made an important transition as they moved from the bottom to the top.
“What got you here won’t get you there.”
The real job of a leader is not being in charge. The real job of a leader is taking care of the people in our charge. That’s the transition that separates a leader and a manager – moving from being responsible for the job to being responsible for the people.
Here’s the challenge: this transition requires great personal sacrifice. It means when things go right, leaders give away the credit to others. When things go wrong, leaders take the blame and give the people whose mistake it was even more chances, even though the leader is the one with the most to lose.
The reality is, it’s easier to micro-manage, accept credit, and pass blame. But that’s not leadership – it’s what Lawrence J. Peter defined as the Peter Principle: when employees rise to “a level of respective incompetence.”
Managers might be able to do the job better. But they need to be able to look back and remember what it felt like to work at the bottom, and what a difference it makes when the people above you have your back. Leaders have made that transition and now create that environment for the people they’re responsible for.
Remember this statement last week? “People don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.” If you want to create a safe environment and culture for your team to thrive, don’t manage, lead. How? Care for your team, protect your team, fight for your team, trust your team, empower your team, inspire your team…that’s the new role that will serve you and your company well in the long run.
A long, long time ago, I was a young dad with 2 little ones and working for a large company as an engineer. Five years into my employment, our company hired a new director to oversee our department. He was a sought-after, seasoned executive that came from our biggest competitor. He held secrets to our new success and was highly ambitious. We started doing some innovative research & design projects to revolutionize the way our product functioned and looked. He valued my input and seemed to like my work ethic and dedication to my job. These were exciting times.
Do you know what else was exciting? Our planned family vacation to Disneyland was coming up in a few weeks. We purchased the airline tickets and had the entire week planned out in beautiful and sunny Southern California! I couldn’t wait to see Mickey and Minnie and introduce them to my little ones.
Well, the two exciting events came to a crashing halt when he told me that my family might have to go without me. He told me this a couple of days before my vacation. He said he felt uneasy that I was leaving in the middle of our project and he would let me know for sure if I could go when he feels better about it. He dragged on making his decision to allow me to go on my vacation until just 2 hours before the flight. Can you believe that? While I was at work, my entire family was all packed at home, anxiously waiting and hoping for the approval to go. They weren’t going to go without me.
This type of controlling behavior from my boss continued for years. I can honestly say that he was the worst boss ever.
Have you heard of this saying? “People don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.” I believe there’s a great truth to that. I also believe that there are dream bosses who can be instrumental in your own personal growth and job satisfaction. They become unforgettable.
I love good leadership. I also despise bad leadership. Your mental health, your motivation, your productivity, your energy, your happiness, and your success can depend on who is leading you. So, how about we dedicate this month to learning to be good leaders? I look forward to sharing what makes a great boss and how you can positively impact someone’s life…forever.
Excited? Me too. Stay tuned…
For the final installment in our Leadership Series, I wanted to share how BOS Media would answer the questions we’ve been asking over the past several posts. I hope it gives you a sense of the clarity and focus this exercise can bring to your business.
VISION: Where are we going?
In one line: WE PROVIDE DIGITAL MARKETING TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS.
A company’s success is tied to digital marketing, but most business owners have no idea how to do it. BOS Media provides the tools, resources and strategy that is proven to bring in leads and grow your business.
MISSION: Why does it matter?
The digital world is constantly changing. Business owners who don’t have time to keep up will be left behind.
At BOS Media, we not only know the latest trends, we’ll get to know WHO YOU ARE as a company, and where to best position you in the marketplace.
“We Help The True Beauty of Your Business Shine Through”
STRATEGY: How do we do it?
We’re your one-stop shop for all your digital marketing needs – from website design, branding, graphic design, to SEO – whatever it takes to help your business grow, we got your back.
We believe everything starts with relationship. Relationship is what drives us to bring the highest level of expertise to the design and implementation of your storytelling strategy.
For your business to thrive, it all comes down to connecting people. That’s the heart of BOS Media.
There used to be an old commercial for Vidal Sassoon that said, “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.” For us, that’s what it all comes down to – our dream is helping to make your dream come true.
Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to help you keep moving forward!
“Whatever You Do, We’ll Make You Look Good”
Just one more week before we wrap up this Leadership Series. I really hope it has helped you step into the first quarter of 2021 with a new sense of purpose.
We’ve talked about the difference between vision (Where are we going?) and mission (Why are we going there?), and how to communicate your vision into a clear vision script.
But there’s still one more key element: STRATEGY. Strategy answers the “How” question –
HOW are we going to get there?
How do you intend to get from here to there? From the present moment to the future vision?
Here are three principles in developing an effective strategy:
1. STAY FOCUSED We’ve talked about this a lot the past couple weeks, but hopefully that underscores the importance of focus. I really believe the number one threat to your strategy is distractions – especially the many “good” options that are not your company’s single goal.
I heard a great example from Southwest Airlines. Their vision was to be “THE low-fare airline” (clear, single focus). At one point, a marketing executive suggested adding chicken caesar salad to some of their longer flights. Ultimately it came down to one question: “Will adding a chicken caesar salad help to make us THE low-fare airline?” If it wasn’t supporting that one goal, it was a non-starter.
- Don’t get distracted. Learn to say NO to what’s not aligned to your vision.
2. COLLABORATE “The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present.” Practical implementation is a team effort. Listen, create safe space for honest feedback, and bring the people around you on board in the process – those relationships are your greatest asset.
- Don’t keep the vision in your head. SHARE IT.
3. ADAPT Strategies can change, based on how conditions on the ground change.
Obviously, we’ve all had to navigate this in the past year. A global pandemic required major adjustments in strategy. Our word for the year was “pivot” – we’re still committed to our vision, but how we got there had to shift.
- Don’t get stuck. The destination remains the same, but the HOW is flexible.
Take some time this week to review your vision document and how you want to implement it within your organization. It’s never too late to start being more strategic!
Imagine you had an eyeball that wanted to enroll in hearing lessons. Or if your nose was like, “This is America, I can be anything I want!” as it attempted to take over for your pancreas.
Thankfully, our body parts understand the power of SINGLE FOCUS.
Which brings us back to last week, and your mission to write a mission statement that aligns your organization toward one clear objective. Here are the questions we proposed to help get your focused:
- What is your organization’s core idea?
- How can you make it more concrete?
- Why should your employees care about it?
There’s a reason why we keep talking about this. We really do believe you have something unique to offer the world, but too many companies don’t have the strategic direction to effectively move it forward.
If you’re still feeling a bit rudderless, here are the FOUR QUESTIONS that define your mission:
- Who are we? What are we in business to do?
- Who are your customers, and what problem do they have?
- What’s your unique solution?
- What’s your promise of transformation?
I know we’re all busy, but here’s your mission (if you choose to accept it): Schedule an hour this week to sharpen your answers to these questions. The more clarity you have, the more you’ll be able to communicate your mission with a focus.
All of us at BOS Media are rooting for you to accomplish the impossible. Hopefully this helps you do it a bit more strategically.
Over the past few weeks, we have been talking about leadership – specifically vision and mission. Vision is the “Where” – it answers where we are going. Mission is the “Why.” Why are we going there? Why do we do what we do?
Many companies try to summarize this in a Mission Statement, and unfortunately, most of them are terrible.
The biggest problem: using a bunch of fancy words that don’t say anything. Like this one: “It is our mission to continue to authoritatively provide access to diverse services to stay relevant in tomorrow’s world.” That was actually created by a Mission Statement Generator on the internet – too many companies are letting those robots have a laugh at our expense.
It’s easy to get sidetracked and end up with a professional sounding and perfectly scripted mission statement that’s vague and unclear. No one will remember and eventually, no one will care.
Here’s a quick video on why Mission Statements can end up being so terrible.
Don’t try to say everything, and don’t try to please everyone. Change happens when leadership aligns the company toward a SINGLE goal.
Here are a few questions to help you FOCUS:
- What is your organization’s core idea? The “secret sauce” that drives what you do?
- How can you make it more concrete? Cut out the fluff and the corporate jargon
- And last: why should your employees care about it?
If you do this right, this statement has the power to rally people together and drive your business forward. It’s a declaration of the ONE THING you do that is unique and transformative.
Take some time this week to finalize your mission statement and share it with the world. And as we say on our podcast: make it matter.
The third year into running my own business, I was stuck. I was busy with a lot of projects and drowning in work. Most of the tasks bottle-necked at my desk and I was frustrated. I needed help.
After much thought and with a sense of desperation, I hired a business coach. He gave me my very first assignment – to answer this question:
“What do you want?”
Imagine the future, and in this future, you are getting ready for bed at the end of the day and you think to yourself, “Wow, that was a perfect day, I am truly living my best life.” What does that look like? Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? How are you feeling? Who are you helping?
Doing this exercise really helped me to see my best future. My VISION.
But the next question really threw me for a loop. “Why does it matter?” To put it bluntly, he said, “That’s great that you want to do, feel and obtain all those things…but why? Why does that matter to you?”
Answering this question was my next step in finding my MISSION.
If you were able to work through the Vision Script we discussed last week, hopefully you have more clarity on what the future looks like for you. But it doesn’t stop there.
As we talked about before: Vision = Where are we going?
Mission = Why are we going there?
What if someone told you to dig a ditch all day, then the next day you had you fill it back up. And you did this all week, and then for an entire year. They’ll even pay you for it – how about $150,000 per year. Would you do it?
Most won’t. And if they did do it? They might end up going crazy at the end.
Because without the why, it might as well just be torture.
If you are leading a company, or leading a team, you have a responsibility that goes beyond just giving assignments. You help the ones doing those assignments understand the purpose in what they do. We can’t expect people to show up every morning excited to be there and productive without letting them know where you are headed (Vision) and why that matters (Mission).
On a final note, tell them what their role is in their journey there. Communicating that changes the work experience from a set of meaningless tasks into a meaningful mission.
This is leadership. It will make all the difference in the world. And it costs you nothing! It’s free to you, and freeing to your team.