Have you read the ancient Indian story about the elephant and the six men? The story holds an important lesson for organizations.

In the story, six friends blindfold themselves and play a game where they try to identify objects they come across. As they venture out, they come across an elephant. As the story goes, none of them had seen an elephant before. Each one of them proceeds to feel different parts of the elephant.

After careful analysis, the first man declares the object is a large drum. He was touching the elephant’s stomach. The second man objects vociferously. It is a rope, he asserts as he feels the tail. The others vigorously forward their assessments: the trunk of a tree, a fan or a curved stick.

Finally, when they cannot agree on their assessments, they take off their blindfolds to discover that the object they were envisioning and the real object are starkly different. While their individual assessments were based on valid information gathering and analysis, they realize they could not have been more wrong.

Different points of view

The different teams and departments in a company more often than not act like the six blindfolded men. They view the company and the issues it faces from their distinct perspectives, which leads to different assessments of what is important or what is urgent and, unfortunately, sometimes a lack of respect for the viewpoints and capabilities of the other teams.

For instance, in many companies, sales and operations departments do not share a high opinion of each other. The operations team may feel the sales team makes unrealistic promises to customers. The sales team, on the other hand, may feel the operations team is unable to deliver the quality and timely performance necessary to thrive in the marketplace.

The issues exist at all touch points and involve all the teams. While teams have their heart in the right place and want to contribute, they are caught up in their way of thinking and fail to see the big picture. Their hard-nosed assessments do more harm than good.

Re-engineering and realigning perspectives

As a leader, you must recognize the severity of the problem and address the issue diligently. Ensuring that your teams develop a broader perspective and solve problems from a company perspective rather than a departmental perspective is a crucial component of your job.

Changing the perspectives of successful departmental leaders who have a good measure of self-esteem (read it as ego) is an excruciating task. To encourage a company perspective, invest heavily in cross-functional, companywide initiatives. For instance, develop, crystallize and propagate a detailed and meaningful mission to unite the teams. A strong mission would serve as a higher purpose than individual departmental interests and concerns.

Emphasize improvement and performance themes that are cross-functional in nature and scope. Hoping that the teams will just rally around companywide goals is not a good strategy. Generate a vigorous discussion with all the teams present so they can appreciate the goals and develop joint ways of achieving them.

For example, achieving revenue goals cannot be the sole responsibility of the sales department. If it is perceived that way, the probability of success is lower.

Similarly, efficiency cannot be a goal of the operations team alone. All the other teams, from sales to customer service, HR, IT and accounting have to understand and respect the value of operational efficiency and provide their full support, ideas and active cooperation and contribution.

Help your team members recognize and appreciate the elephant so they are not lost in their individual parts. ?

Quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and WorldNews, Ravi Kathuria is a recognized thought leader. Featured on the “BusinessMakers” show, CBS Radio, and “Nightly Business Report,” he is the author of the highly acclaimed book, “How Cohesive is Your Company?: A Leadership Parable.” Kathuria is the president of Cohegic Corporation, a management consulting, executive and sales coaching firm, and president of the Houston Strategy Forum. Reach him at (281) 403-0250 or feedback@cohegic.com.

Published in Houston

I have spent the last 15 years testing, tracking and tweaking my marketing plan to try to get the absolute best results for my business. In 1998, it was just me with a phone and a computer. Today, I have more than 200 employees and bring in more than $40 million in revenue annually.

I don’t say this to toot my own horn but just to give you confidence that what follows is legitimate.

There are just four things that you need to do in order to build the ultimate direct mail marketing system. This is a marketing system that continually generates leads and turns them into loyal customers. Best of all? The end result is that it enables your business to steadily and sustainably grow — along with your bottom line.

Step 1: Use direct mail.

This effectively generates leads to fuel your marketing growth.

In addition to using targeted mailing lists to reach out to prospects, a truly complete marketing system is dual-focused. It doesn’t just focus on new clients. You have to continue to build the loyalty of your current clients as well.

Marketing to both prospective and current clients is the best way to create sustainable growth. This allows you to simultaneously build your brand recognition and your brand loyalty.

Step 2. Track your mailings.

This is how you prepare yourself for success.

When your direct mail reaches your prospects’ mailboxes, the calls and Web visits will start to come in. You need to be ready for that. You can’t get the best return for your investment in a mailing if you don’t put yourself in prime position to convert every lead generated. Luckily, you can do this by tracking your postcards or mail. Your mail house should offer this to you.

Step 3. Develop a follow-up system.

This gives you a form of hassle-free review to get the most out of every lead.

A majority of your prospects will visit your website before they call your office. So once you’re prepared to handle your in-office response, you have to do the same for your online presence. Without a system in place to follow up with these prospects, your leads will likely slip away.

I’ve found that a wonderful online resource for this is Google Remarketing. It provides you automatic targeted follow-up with prospects that visit your website.

Step 4. Track your response.

This is how you empower yourself to continually improve your results. Call tracking is the way to do it.

Using a unique routing phone number on your mailing, call tracking allows you to track the response that each campaign achieves. You can also experiment with design or message changes to optimize your marketing response.

This technology records your calls so you can quality-check your reception process and sales tactics. Lastly, it gives you all the data and resources you need to continually analyze and improve your marketing results.

When you are building your company’s marketing system, be sure to include all four of these components. Once you do, your marketing will be on track to help you drive your desired results and fuel your growth. ?

Joy Gendusa is the owner and CEO of direct mail marketing firm, PostcardMania. She originally started PostcardMania in 1998. The company now employs more than 200 people and has more than 53,000 customers in more than 350 industries. Visit www.postcardmania.com for more information. Find her on Google+.

Published in Florida

A few weeks ago, I was in a CVS, buying a few items that included a case of water, a newspaper and a candy bar for one of my kids. As I was leaving, the cashier handed me my receipt, which literally took 15 seconds to print out — no exaggeration. As I was walking out, I chuckled a little bit while reviewing the 42-inch receipt. I bought three items and the receipt was more than 3½-feet long.

OK, let’s get past that and go to what was on the receipt. Besides my items, there was an opportunity for a $1,000 sweepstakes and coupons for:

?  Get a flu shot today and receive 20 percent off.

?  $4 off when you spend $20 on vitamins.

?  $6 off a beauty purchase of more than $15.

?  $1.50 off any shampoo or conditioner.

?  $2 off any Nature Bounty Vitamin.

?  $1 off Excedrin — for life’s headaches.

Very few of these coupons are personalized to me — meaning based on prior purchases. Why is this? Since I used my ExtraCare card, CVS knows a ton about me, my habits, what I buy, when I buy it and the regularity of those purchases. Of these six offers, I bought only vitamins a week prior to this purchase. Clearly, there was no chance for me to buy them again. I forgot to mention that all of these coupons expired less than a week after my visit.

Use resources wisely

I must admit: I don’t get it. I feel that CVS has wasted resources, information, paper, my time and — most importantly, from the company’s standpoint — an opportunity to persuade me to shop more in its store and increase its revenue.

The way I look at it, I am in the company’s store, I am a customer, I am buying products, and then I am leaving the store. Furthermore, I assume CVS wants me to return, it wants more of my business, and it wants me to spend money in its store.

Since we know all of that is true, CVS should find a way to personalize all the offers to my needs. It should understand that I have seasonal purchases and understand how often I buy water, soda and candy bars. Customize the receipt to the customer. If you can’t customize all of the offers, then customize a few of them.

If the six coupons were about the products that I shop for there, such as soda, newspaper, candy for my kids, dish soap, detergent and paper towels, then the coupons would have had a positive effect on my purchase intent.

Problem is pervasive

Even though I mentioned CVS, the same is true for many other retailers. When looking over recent receipts from Walgreens, Panda Express, Tom Thumb and Golfsmith, they are all missing opportunities to effectively communicate with customers. In the age of big data, why aren’t companies using this more to their advantage?

To me, the winning retailers in 2013 will be the ones that understand and can implement personalization in dealing with their customer base. As a customer of a lot of retailers, I truly hope this happens sooner than later. ?

Merrill Dubrow is president and CEO, M/A/R/C Research, located in Dallas, one of the top 25 market research companies in the U.S. Merrill is a speaker and has been writing a blog for more than six years. He can be reached at merrill.dubrow@marcresearch.com or at (972) 983-0416.

Published in Dallas

Maintaining a culture aligned with brand requires constant effort to keep it in sync. So if this is what you are hoping to achieve, remember it is not a road trip you can cross off your bucket list — it’s a journey for the life of your organization.

So how do you get started? Let’s begin by reviewing some travel tips. As CEO, you don’t need to do all of the driving, but you do need to lead the charge and keep the journey on track.

It will take you longer to get there than you think. It will require ongoing resources: time, training, communication and celebration, even at the expense of short-term profit.

Define your brand

What is your brand? You need to know what “living the brand” means for your organization. If you are not sure if you have a clear brand position, start with a brand discovery. It will be well worth it. Your brand is already alive within your organization — it is a part of its core. You just need to uncover it. Defining the brand and making it the company’s primary focus helps clarify for employees what is brand behavior and what is not.

Conduct an employee survey to determine what beliefs exist within the organization that will either help or hinder you in achieving the brand culture you are seeking. What will emerge from this survey are alignment gaps that will need to be addressed.

Employees want to believe their company has a meaningful purpose. They want to know their job is important. They want to make a difference. Employees need to feel a sense of pride and ownership in what they do and they want to understand their personal connection with the company’s brand and its customers. When this exists, there is a natural excitement and passion for their work because it has purpose.

Conduct an organizational assessment to determine how brand is being conveyed at every touch point within the company. Again, what will emerge from this assessment are brand delivery gaps that will need to be addressed.

Employees who interact with customers on a regular basis will play a lead role in delivering the brand, but it will require all employees to adopt brand behavior in order to truly deliver the brand effectively. It has to become a part of the company culture to succeed.

What long-term delivery requires

Delivering on the brand for the long term requires priority, organizational structure, and ongoing communication and monitoring. The importance of brand focus needs to remain top-of-mind. It must constantly be reinforced by the CEO.

To become a part of company culture, brand delivery needs to be woven into the company’s operating procedures — including hiring for the beliefs and core values that drive the desired brand behaviors.

Senior leadership needs to have the authority to make changes or remove any barriers that prevent employees from delivering the brand promise to customers. Financial as well as strategic decisions will need to be made to continue to deliver a high impact brand experience as technology and social patterns change.

It will take an internal team to monitor brand delivery, manage associate training and plan the celebration of successes.

When culture aligns with brand, customers notice and become more likely to interact with your company and recommend it to others. The best time to start the journey is now. ?

Kelly Borth is CEO and chief strategy officer for Greencrest, a 22-year-old brand development, strategic marketing and digital media firm that turns market players into market leaders. Borth has received numerous honors for her business and community leadership. She serves on several local advisory boards and is one of 30 certified brand strategists in the United States. Reach her at (614) 885-7921, kborth@greencrest.com, @brandpro or for more information, visit www.greencrest.com.

 

Published in Columbus

Most leaders understand that it’s critically important to collaborate regularly on initiatives with their employees, but are they getting all they can out of these interactions?

What leaders may be missing is a new paradigm for employee engagement and competitive advantage.

Many of them are working from an old style of management in which business decisions are made at the top and leaders follow a hierarchy of authority. Senior executives must still set strategy and manage for results, but they can likely achieve better outcomes by letting go.

Authors Craig Schreiber and Kathleen M. Carley explain that adapting a participative-style leadership environment allows people and the business to co-evolve into higher levels, enhancing personal responsibility, accountability, collaboration, innovation and business outcomes.

To do this, leaders need to empower employees to collectively make decisions that drive results and train employees to work in this model.

Empower employees

Employees on the front line are often in the best position to see trends and market opportunities.

Leaders can help drive businesses in new directions and enhance their bottom line by giving lower-level managers and line employees the support and encouragement to assume a much higher level of accountability and responsibility.

Information creation and sharing based on trust are critical components of innovation, according to author R.E. Miles. As they feel more engaged, employees are also more motivated to contribute and add value.

To achieve this, leaders must create an environment where risk within certain boundaries is rewarded so that employees feel comfortable enough to act on their abilities and instincts.

Leaders can support employees by encouraging ideas to grow and flourish among employees rather than through the manager. This will allow employees to identify and pursue opportunities that benefit the company.

Provide training

The most important — and often most challenging — aspect of leadership is constant follow-through. It is important to discuss leadership techniques with employees and provide training.

Talking through leadership strategies with employees calibrates the group to be more in alignment. It also increases follow-through from employees who feel a part of the process.

Leaders can do this by:

?  Discussing best practices among participants

?  Identifying leadership needs

?  Generating solutions that fit with the needs of the group

?  Sharing best practices of employee collaboration throughout the company

?  Recognizing work among employees and outcomes

For example, a bank executive wanted leadership training for her front-line managers. Her goal was for them to be able to work out problems and challenges independently or as a leadership group without constantly seeking guidance.

For 10 weeks, we challenged the managers to take more risk and encouraged them to make more decisions at their level. Through group coaching meetings, the employees helped each other consider best alternatives and the executive learned how to manage by letting go. The managers reported feeling more encouraged and engaged, which considerably enhanced results. ?

Jay Colker, DM, MBA, MA is core faculty for the master’s in counseling and organizational psychology program at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. Colker also maintains a human capital consulting practice and may be reached at jcolker@adler.edu or at (312) 213-3421.

 

 

Published in Chicago

Most leaders understand that it’s critically important to collaborate regularly on initiatives with their employees, but are they getting all they can out of these interactions?

What leaders may be missing is a new paradigm for employee engagement and competitive advantage.

Many of them are working from an old style of management in which business decisions are made at the top and leaders follow a hierarchy of authority. Senior executives must still set strategy and manage for results, but they can likely achieve better outcomes by letting go.

Authors Craig Schreiber and Kathleen M. Carley explain that adapting a participative-style leadership environment allows people and the business to co-evolve into higher levels, enhancing personal responsibility, accountability, collaboration, innovation and business outcomes.

To do this, leaders need to empower employees to collectively make decisions that drive results and train employees to work in this model.

Empower employees

Employees on the front line are often in the best position to see trends and market opportunities.

Leaders can help drive businesses in new directions and enhance their bottom line by giving lower-level managers and line employees the support and encouragement to assume a much higher level of accountability and responsibility.

Information creation and sharing based on trust are critical components of innovation, according to author R.E. Miles. As they feel more engaged, employees are also more motivated to contribute and add value.

To achieve this, leaders must create an environment where risk within certain boundaries is rewarded so that employees feel comfortable enough to act on their abilities and instincts.

Leaders can support employees by encouraging ideas to grow and flourish among employees rather than through the manager. This will allow employees to identify and pursue opportunities that benefit the company.

Provide training

The most important — and often most challenging — aspect of leadership is constant follow-through. It is important to discuss leadership techniques with employees and provide training.

Talking through leadership strategies with employees calibrates the group to be more in alignment. It also increases follow-through from employees who feel a part of the process.

Leaders can do this by:

?  Discussing best practices among participants

?  Identifying leadership needs

?  Generating solutions that fit with the needs of the group

?  Sharing best practices of employee collaboration throughout the company

?  Recognizing work among employees and outcomes

For example, a bank executive wanted leadership training for her front-line managers. Her goal was for them to be able to work out problems and challenges independently or as a leadership group without constantly seeking guidance.

For 10 weeks, we challenged the managers to take more risk and encouraged them to make more decisions at their level. Through group coaching meetings, the employees helped each other consider best alternatives and the executive learned how to manage by letting go. The managers reported feeling more encouraged and engaged, which considerably enhanced results. ?

Jay Colker, DM, MBA, MA is core faculty for the master’s in counseling and organizational psychology program at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. Colker also maintains a human capital consulting practice and may be reached at jcolker@adler.edu or at (312) 213-3421.

 

 

Published in Chicago

BuschKeith0806_72pRGBLooking to build a strong brand? Whether you’re a small business or a Fortune 500 company, it’s critical to start with a strong foundation of market understanding. 

Insights about your target audience are the building blocks that help form the promise your brand makes to consumers. In order for this promise to be effective, you will need a thorough understanding of three essential truths:

Your company’s unique strengths — What are you known for? What do you aspire to be? How do you live up to that vision?

Your market opportunity — What are the trends in your industry? How can you capitalize on opportunities and mitigate threats?

Your target audience’s needs — What’s important to your consumers and what makes them tick? How do they make purchase decisions? What problem does your product or service solve for them?

To uncover important insights about your company, you need to harness all your powers of observation, turning them both inward and outward.

Looking inward begins by talking to your own employees. Ask them what they find unique or inspiring about your company. Inquire about what they’ve heard — good or bad — from people who use your company’s products or services. Talk to your customer service personnel, too, finding out what “the feet on the ground” might have seen or heard.

Looking outward means going where consumers are — both offline and online — and posing questions such as “Why do you choose our brand?” “What do you like about us?” “What could we do better?” “How do we compare against our competitors?”

Sharp observation also includes mining consumer satisfaction survey data, online ratings, reviews and blogs. You’d be amazed at what a little Googling will uncover — you’ll discover what excites people about your brand as well as what turns them off, giving you the opportunity to address both.

Only after you uncover these kinds of insights can you begin to build your brand promise. The most successful brand promises are relevant, differentiated, extendable and credible.

?  Relevant. A brand promise should be genuinely motivating to consumers because it’s attuned to the things that are most important to them.

?  Differentiated. Your brand promise should be one that only your company can make. If your competitors could make the same promise, you should explore a different territory.

?  Extendable. Effective brand promises resonate in any medium, maximizing your ability to reach consumers wherever they are.

?  Credible. Make sure you can deliver on your promise and substantiate your claims. Your performance and your consumers’ experiences will determine whether your audience believes you or not.

Remember, just as you may find a broad range of consumer feedback about your company through Google, so will consumers. Which means once you arrive at your brand promise, you’ll want to identify and leverage all possible venues in which consumers may interact with your brand, not just advertising. Consider the following:

?  Facebook, YouTube or a company blog are great ways to provide your consumers with helpful content.

?  Networking with relevant industry influencers, such as bloggers or pertinent media, can help you generate additional strategic content about your brand.

?  Paid search on search engine pages can nicely augment your marketing efforts — it means that when consumers are in-market, they’ll see your company name on their first stop.

For marketers seeking to ensure their long-term success, building a strong brand promise based on market understanding and insights is the all-important first step. ?

A highly strategic marketing communications executive, Keith Busch, vice president for client development at Hitchcock Fleming & Associates Inc., has more than 20 years of experience in helping clients achieve critical growth goals, key metrics and ROI objectives. In addition to working with clients such as The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and AkzoNobel, he is active in the Akron-area community and serves on the boards of the Greenleaf Family Center and The Northeast Ohio Arthritis Foundation. Visit www.teamhfa.com.

 

Published in Akron/Canton

R-E-S-P-E-C-T? Find out what it means to you

Move over, Aretha Franklin. While she did popularize the word “respect” in her chart-topping single in 1967, respect has been a fundamental building block for successful companies for decades, well before Aretha arrived on the scene.

Respect does not come with age; it is earned. In my humble opinion, there is no management tool more important or powerful than respect itself.

Businesses fundamentally exist to make money, but the currency that is traded inside every organization is respect.

Walk through any office today and listen to the conversations, from the boardroom to the watercooler. What will you find? Probably elements of both respect and disrespect. If you command respect, people listen attentively when you talk and follow your direction. It can be seen in both body language and facial expressions. On the other hand, if you don’t command respect, you will quickly become the focus of ill-timed conversation.

Having said that, here are eight irrefutable and effective building blocks for you to earn (and keep) respect.

1. Be real. People will not respect you if you are not natural. Our workforce is smart — they have the ability to detect those who are “faking it.” There’s no stronger foundation for earning respect than being, well, you.

2. Be interested. People like to be listened to. When people realize they are being heard, they’ll open up and tell you what is important to them about their jobs, their concerns and goals within the organization. It pays to listen.

3. Be a safe harbor. Workplaces are hotbeds for gossip. Create an environment of openness and confidentiality. When people realize you can safely be told anything within the confines of your relationship, you’ll become the one person everyone seeks out when they really need some perspective, advice and direction.

4. Be helpful. People respect those who contribute. Being a contributor means making it your primary goal to help others achieve their goals. Remember, it is important to pay it forward and work with others within your organization to help their dreams be realized.

5. Be creative. People respect innovation. The “same old, same old” mentality left us years ago. By being creative and coming up with new, fresh ideas will motivate the workforce and results will speak for themselves.

6. Be a risk-taker. Associates gravitate to those who take chances — and are willing to look at life through a different set of lenses. They do not accept traditional thinking. Be willing to take chances. Remember: Failure is a way we all learn.

7. Be spontaneous. Use your position to create an environment of fun within your organization. Introduce special events and do so without warning. Consider, for example, an Aloha Day after several weeks of dreary weather or hire a massage therapist after a busy business season. Let your mind wander here.

8. Be respectful of other people’s time. There is nothing more valuable in today’s business world than time. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. One of my favorite mottos that I follow is, “Be brief, be blunt, be gone.” And I live by it.

Remember again, respect does not come with a job title or age; it is earned. Make it a central part of your personal business strategy. The results will speak for themselves.

G. A. Taylor Fernley is president and CEO of Fernley & Fernley, an association management company providing professional management services to non-profit organizations since 1886. He can be reached at tfernley@fernley.com, or for more information, visit www.fernley.com.

Published in Philadelphia

One of the biggest differences between running a business on the side and quitting your job to run it full time is that you lose the security of a steady paycheck. That loss of income and the uncertainty as to whether it will ever come back is enough to make anyone pause and reconsider quitting their day job.

But what if your part-time venture is beginning to pick up steam, and you earnestly believe that it needs your full, undivided attention? While it can be scary, there are steps you can take to make such a leap less daunting.

Get organized

When you begin your business in earnest, take time to reduce your clutter. Working out of a messy office will eat much more time than it takes to get everything organized.

Speaking of time, making the transition to full-time business owner means also becoming much more self-motivated and coordinated. There is no one to remind you to clock in or to hound you about being late.

It’s great to go about the day without being micromanaged, but be careful. It’s just as easy to slip into a state of complacency. Organize your space, set a schedule and stay disciplined.

Protect yourself

There is always going to be some element of risk involved in whatever you decide to do next. But there are also actions that a new full-time business owner can take to reduce some of that risk.

As a part-time owner, chances are high that your business is a sole proprietorship — sort of the default business structure. Unfortunately, that means that you are responsible for your business’s debts, and if things go south, debt collectors may start trying to take your personal assets to pay for those business debts.

When you jump to full-time, consider forming an LLC or S corporation. There are different advantages and disadvantages to these structures, but they will help protect your personal property by separating you and your business’s debts.

Make saving a priority

Take full advantage of that steady paycheck for as long as you have it and save. Anyone looking to branch out and start a business has to use every cost-cutting measure out there so they have breathing room when trying to get their new business to turn a profit. Advisers typically recommend having enough saved up to pay for four to six months of living expenses. Luckily, if a business is being run part-time, it may be pulling in money already.

There is no magic number for saving — it just needs to be enough so that you don’t have to dig for change to pay your electric bill. Meet with an accountant, crunch the numbers and make sure you’re comfortable with the recommendations they give on budgeting and working with your financial situation.

Part-time owners know their company can draw customers, sell a product or service and bring in money since it has already been doing just that. This insight makes it very tempting to throw caution to the wind and jump into full-time ownership without making the necessary preparations.

But don’t take a huge leap without ensuring your fall is cushioned. Take your time, get everything in order, protect your assets and meet with an accountant to solidify a plan. Next, take a deep breath and put in your two weeks’ notice — you’re now a full-time business owner.

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation. Find her online at mycorporation.com and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.

Published in Columnist

Most leaders understand that it’s critically important to collaborate regularly on initiatives with their employees, but are they getting all they can out of these interactions?

What leaders may be missing is a new paradigm for employee engagement and competitive advantage.

Many of them are working from an old style of management in which business decisions are made at the top and leaders follow a hierarchy of authority. Senior executives must still set strategy and manage for results, but they can likely achieve better outcomes by letting go.

Authors Craig Schreiber and Kathleen M. Carley explain that adapting a participative-style leadership environment allows people and the business to co-evolve into higher levels, enhancing personal responsibility, accountability, collaboration, innovation and business outcomes.

To do this, leaders need to empower employees to collectively make decisions that drive results and train employees to work in this model.

Empower employees

Employees on the front line are often in the best position to see trends and market opportunities.

Leaders can help drive businesses in new directions and enhance their bottom line by giving lower-level managers and line employees the support and encouragement to assume a much higher level of accountability and responsibility.

Information creation and sharing based on trust are critical components of innovation, according to author R.E. Miles. As they feel more engaged, employees are also more motivated to contribute and add value.

To achieve this, leaders must create an environment where risk within certain boundaries is rewarded so that employees feel comfortable enough to act on their abilities and instincts.

Leaders can support employees by encouraging ideas to grow and flourish among employees rather than through the manager. This will allow employees to identify and pursue opportunities that benefit the company.

Provide training

The most important — and often most challenging — aspect of leadership is constant follow-through. It is important to discuss leadership techniques with employees and provide training.

Talking through leadership strategies with employees calibrates the group to be more in alignment. It also increases follow-through from employees who feel a part of the process.

Leaders can do this by:

?  Discussing best practices among participants

?  Identifying leadership needs

?  Generating solutions that fit with the needs of the group

?  Sharing best practices of employee collaboration throughout the company

?  Recognizing work among employees and outcomes

For example, a bank executive wanted leadership training for her front-line managers. Her goal was for them to be able to work out problems and challenges independently or as a leadership group without constantly seeking guidance.

For 10 weeks, we challenged the managers to take more risk and encouraged them to make more decisions at their level. Through group coaching meetings, the employees helped each other consider best alternatives and the executive learned how to manage by letting go. The managers reported feeling more encouraged and engaged, which considerably enhanced results.

Jay Colker, DM, MBA, MA is core faculty for the master’s in counseling and organizational psychology program at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. Colker also maintains a human capital consulting practice and may be reached at jcolker@adler.edu or at (312) 213-3421.

Published in Chicago