Leadership

An ethical leader is expected to take into consideration those directly affected by the activities of a company – the stakeholders, everyone affected by the activities of the business. Some leaders seem to have the values and attributes that allow them to instinctively do the right thing, but for the majority it’s a learning curve. Developing the attributes, values and skills of an ethical leader involves taking what is intrinsic to the person and honing those skills through discipline and practice. However, it is good to remember that leaders sometimes have to make unpopular decisions in order to do the right thing! The decisions may be inconvenient and involve risk but those who follow their principles always come out successful as culture change often has unexpected payoffs. CEO’s who make the difference make the customer experience part of strategy discussions and constantly review their actions with regard to company values.

Beware destructive value statements

If values statements involve fancy words strung together to look impressive and they are not rigorously practiced, then they can become destructive. Employees soon perceive that management is not living up to the stated values, which leads to cynicism.  Employees who do not embody the company values and attributes then undermine customer confidence and the credibility of management’s actions.

Establishing your company values

Company values can’t be snatched from a list. Think about what motivated you to start a company in the first place rather than being swept up in fads or politically correct values statements unless you are absolutely sincere about them.

Below we have laid out six values, attributes and expectations of good leaders to start focusing on.

1. Sense of Justice

A well-developed sense of justice ensures people are treated fairly and don’t think they are being discriminated against because of gender, education, ethnicity or other factors.

2. Respect for others

Respect the newest member of the team who asks a lot of questions and needs to be given guidance rather than relying solely on opinions from the established team. Many newcomers see the gaps in marketing that people who have done it for years don’t see.

Respect covers customers too – simply because a customer is a small one or unknown doesn’t mean they should be treated with less respect than large customers – you never know which small business can become a giant virtually overnight!

3. Humanity

Leaders have to be kind - sometimes giving a person the day off can reap huge benefits rather than being a stickler for rules. In the long run kindness is not weakness – instead it leads to better productivity. People recall the kindnesses from employers like congratulating the employee about his kid who made the team, remembering the names of spouses and children and tokens of appreciation for a job well done, all go to show the CEO is a fellow human being on this journey through life – not a dictator hogging the office with the best view.

4. Encourage innovation

Real values have to be kept in mind constantly. For example, if you have decided you value ‘innovation’ then employees who come up with innovative ideas need to be listened to and given an opportunity to trial ideas rather than being shut down with “That won’t work here,” or “This is the way we do it.” If a person proposing the change is given the chance that individual will go above and beyond what is expected tweaking the idea until it works properly because they are invested in the change.

5. Team building skill

When the right team is in place changes can be successfully implemented. Good leaders focus on finding and building the team that will embody the values and attributes they envision for the company rather than trying to mold often unwilling people to new roles.  

6. Leading by example

The values of a company need to be on the office walls so the CEO has them top of mind and makes them a daily routine. There have been embarrassing cases where CEO’s couldn’t remember their own company values at conferences! This is simply because they were hidden away in a file along with the mission statement. If you’re expecting other people to embrace the company values, you better be sure you are living those values.

The expectations placed on the shoulders of a CEO are massive. Every stakeholder is expecting value, every employee wants acknowledgement, every customer wants service that goes above and beyond the norm; but these become second nature when living according to your values and attributes.

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10 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Thrive Outside of School

1.  They Want to Be Different

As a student, you’re expected to do the same things as everyone else. Attend the same classes, participate in the same activities and take the same exams. But in the world of business, being different is sometimes the only way to capitalise to succeed.

Entrepreneurs have a knack for coming up with solutions to problems that people aren’t aware of. As opposed to getting a nice grade on their report card – this satisfaction can be much more rewarding for some people.

 

2.  They Have Their Own Definition of Success

In school, you attend classes, do assignments and take exams, all in an attempt to earn good grades. What you do with the knowledge you’ve gained afterwards is entirely up to you.

However, if you’re the kind of person who aspires to use their skills and knowledge for other purposes, the desire to get good grades may pale in comparison to the allure of starting a successful enterprise.

 

3.  They Yearn for Independence

If you’re studying a creative practice in school, you’re always under the guidance of an instructor leading you on the ‘right’ path. Not only that, but you’re expected to do assignments, in-class tasks and exams on topics that carry no value outside of school. This process can be de-motivating… even if you’re studying a subject that genuinely interests you.

As an entrepreneur, you have the freedom to pick and choose the information that best suits your goals. Plus, you get to see the results on a much wider scale than a conventional school setting.

 

4.  They Love Learning, But Hate the School

For most entrepreneurs, learning is a lifelong journey, not something that only happens in the classroom. In today’s world, you can learn from taking online courses, reading e-books, listening to audiobooks and podcasts. You can even learn a whole new trade from watching YouTube videos.

With so many options that fall outside the conventional school system, it’s no wonder many creative entrepreneurs forge their own path to gain knowledge.

 

5.  They Prefer Practical Experience Over Theory

Unless you’re undertaking a job placement or studying at a trade-school, you’re probably learning from textbooks.

Studying real-life and hypothetical scenarios is crucial to developing your knowledge. However, some entrepreneurs simply cannot wait that long to utilise their skills in the real world.

 

6.  They Learn From Failing

When you get a bad grade in school, you either care enough to put more effort in next time, or you simply ‘go through the motions’ until you graduate. In the world of business, the consequences of failing is much higher… and being mediocre won’t get you very far.

It’s true that many successful entrepreneurs failed in starting their first business. It’s these major setbacks that pushed them harder to succeed – and without any loss of enthusiasm too.

 

7.  They Don’t Like Copying Other People

Innovation drives industries to explore new ideas, reach new audiences and create competition in the marketplace.

In school, most of your time is spent learning from others. While it’s important to learn the rules before you break them, some people can reach this stage faster than others. And depending on the kind of institution you attend, you may never get the chance to explore your own ideas until you’ve entered the real world.

 

8.  They Want to Build Their Portfolio

Most people outside of school will never ask you about your grades. And many entrepreneurs would rather be developing their folio than satisfying a report card.

These people understand the importance of building new relationships, starting new endeavours and putting in the hours to complete projects they’re proud to showcase to others.

If you have nothing to show for your portfolio other than a bachelor’s degree or high GPA, you risk being overshadowed by someone with the same qualifications, but more experience in the real world.

 

9.  They Want Better Mentors

In academia, your exposure to good mentors is mostly limited to the classroom. If you’re in a class with a lousy or uninspiring teacher – well, then you’re out of luck.

Those who want to learn from the best will go out there to find inspiration. If that means stepping out of the school system to find it, they’re probably going to go ahead do it.

 

10.  They Know How to Live Outside the System

In Professor Karen Arnold’s book, Lives of Promise: What Becomes of High School Valedictorians, 15 past students are interviewed and studied over a 14-year period.

While these students were the best and brightest of the class, Arnold reveals that, "They're extremely well rounded and successful, personally and professionally… but they've never been devoted to a single area in which they put all their passion.”

Arnold also states that many who never graduated college went on to pursue ambitious careers, like being a poet or social justice activist.

This case study is not a definitive argument against doing well in school. However, it does highlight the limitations of a learning culture that may not be doing enough to prepare students for life outside the schoolyard.

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Know your Strengths

In order become a successful leader, you need to identify your own strengths, talents and foster them.

Your strengths are ultimately the keys to your success. "When we do things we're already good at, our business acumen is quicker," says Todd Kashdan, a psychology professor at George Mason University. "When it comes to the best way to leverage your ability, it's (best) to go through your strengths." he says.

Using these four tips, you can learn to recognise your core strengths.

 

1. Watch for signs of excitement.

When you engage in an activity you are truly good at, your excitement is visible. Your pupils dilate, your chest is broader, your speech is fast and fluid, and your arms spread wider. "You can see someone feels alive and motivated when they're using a core strength," Kashdan says. 

 

2. Break away from job titles.
To uncover your gifts, you need to explore new roles. "Think of your company as a laboratory," Kashdan says. Encourage flexible roles and see how it goes. "If people are excited about trying something else and you have some evidence that they could be good, then experiment with it," he says.

For example, one executive wanted a more creative, innovative workplace but wasn't the man to do it himself. Kashdan helped him identify a maverick on his staff -- someone creative and unconcerned with others' opinions -- then put that person in charge of innovation. By assigning roles based on strengths, rather than job titles, they were able to create a stronger team.

 

3. Notice what you do differently than everyone else.
In a situation where you are truly using your strengths, you will stand out from a crowd. Your approach will be unique. To name your strengths, you want to identify those moments and articulate how you are different.

 

4. Describe your strengths creatively.
When naming your strengths, avoid what Kashdan calls "wastebasket terms," meaning overused words like 'passionate' or 'dedicated.' Instead, come up with a unique term that captures your specific strength.

"By coming up with an exciting word, you avoid all the typical connotations," Kashdan says. He uses terms like storyteller, autonomy supporter, investigator, energy incubator, and battery. That specificity helps leaders apply their gifts. "Once you can put a word to your strengths, it becomes much more embedded in your everyday life," he says.  

 

References found at Entrepreneur.

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