“Purpose isn’t everything, but it trumps everything else.” – Roy Spence, It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For
In 2015, a business coaching client asked me to design and facilitate a session with their entire company during their annual retreat in Kauai to help them solve what was a very good (or a potentially really bad) problem.
This successful technology company needed to be prepared for responding to a great problem most companies only wish they had:
That was the good problem.
The bad problem? They lacked one very important building block in their company in order to achieve sustainable success: A clear, shared and inspiring Purpose Statement.
The owners of the company were in tune with their individual core values and they knew their team and their market well enough to know they could achieve lofty goals and make a huge impact on the industry for their partners and customers. For a consultant, this was a PLUS because they were already ahead of the game.
This wasn’t their first rodeo. The co-founders knew that in order to move their company forward, everyone on the team needed to be aligned and ready for the ride. Because if they weren’t, and it got rough, they could lose their best talent and ruin the trust of their partners, and the reputation for excellence they worked so hard to create.
Individually and collectively, the team first needed to identify, verbalize, connect with their core values. Then some serious brainstorming needed to happen, which was framed by answering four key questions (more on that later).
Finally, to begin to craft the Purpose Statement, they needed to get BIG and answers needed to come from everyone in the room: “What difference do we make and for whom?”
Many of you may say, “Yes, but isn’t that the same as a Vision or a Mission Statement?” No, it’s different.
A Purpose is our strong WHY we get up in the morning. A purpose is inspiring. A Purpose includes everyone who works at the company. A Purpose connects individuals and core values of people and the culture of the organization. EVERYONE knows the purpose and knows how their role and unique talent they bring to their work everyday is a necessary for the company’s achievement of the Purpose.
A Purpose is never achieved, is not measurable and NOT attached to the bottom line. A Purpose is not “how we do things” or our strategy. WARNING: A Purpose is not for the faint of heart because you WILL be called to act on your Purpose (and everyone is watching).
Ultimately, everyone in the company is accountable for making decisions that are aligned with the Purpose, including which work we do, how we hire and fire people, and how we allocate our resources.
A company’s sustainable success today goes beyond the bottom line and a by having a clear, inspirational purpose you attract and keep great talent, and repel and easily de-select people who aren’t in alignment with your company’s Purpose. Because if your people aren’t on board, you may not survive your own success.
Purpose-driven companies thrive through challenges, good and bad. And, by the way, the most financially successful and thriving companies are driven first by a strong, clear Purpose. Bottom line is important or they wouldn’t survive, but it’s not at the top of the list.
Some examples of excellent, clear Purpose Statements:
Merck: To gain victory against disease and help mankind
Disney: To use our imaginations to bring happiness to millions
Johnson & Johnson: To alleviate pain and suffering
Merck, Disney and Johnson & Johnson, and this company, realized the process of identifying and crafting a compelling, inspiring, clear and meaningful Purpose Statement isn’t for the faint of heart and doesn’t happen in a half-day workshop. It is a process, not an event. It starts from the bottom up, the top down and is inspired by the strong WHY?’s of the founders, the team members who make it happen, core values and most of all the BIG DIFFERENCE they make and for whom.
Not only did this company successfully develop their clear Purpose Statement, they used it to guide their business decisions which, according to one of the partners, ultimately positioned the company to be acquired by Google.
Most important, the process of discovering their Purpose was inspiring, fun, engaging! The team reported the process connected them at a whole new level – a level they need to be at in order to thrive through their next growth opportunity.
Is your company ready for your next “good problem?”
Share your favorite (or your own company’s) Purpose Statement below. How does it speak to you and align with your Purpose?
|EXIT STRATEGY—WHAT IS YOUR END GOAL?|
|Tuesday, December 13
7:45 am – 9:00 am at 4532 Boardwalk Dr., Fort Collins
RSVP to Shannon Richardson at 970.229.1140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Limited seating available.Business owners go into business for many reasons … to be in control of their time, to create wealth, to have freedom, to create a legacy and to, someday, retire wealthy. Without proper planning, many business owners can feel frustrated, burned out and chained to their business instead of experiencing the reasons they went into business in the first place.
Join us to learn how to get unchained from your business, grow, and prepare yourself for a happy, successful exit when you’re ready.
The strategic planning process doesn’t have to be stressful, cost a fortune or end up in a binder to gather dust on your shelf….
Have you ever felt strategic planning is a lot of work and expense for not a lot of return on your time or investment?
The good news is creating a strategic plan doesn’t require a lot of time away from the office or a huge, expensive team of external consultants. Instead, it can be efficient because you can draw on your employees’ knowledge and expertise. The process doesn’t have to cause unnecessary conflict, confusion, or stress. Best of all, it’ll use straightforward language without jargon and bake in accountability from start to finish.
Do you know you need a strategic plan but aren’t sure where to start?
If you have ever felt frustrated when it comes to creating or implementing a strategic plan in your organization, you aren’t alone. It’s easy to make the process too complicated, costly and overwhelming, unless you keep it simple and focus on just the three essential components.
Click here to take this quick assessment to find out whether strategic planning in your organization is as stress free and effective as it should be!
An effective strategic planning process includes three key components. If you skip or poorly execute any one of them, you are won’t get results and it could sit on the shelf collecting dust. Sound familiar?
The huge costs associated with an incomplete strategic planning process and plan are:
I’ll share with you the strategic planning process we use at The Center for Sustainable Strategies where we help our clients focus on three key elements:
#1 – Answer the “big” strategic planning questions – without jargon or by spending a fortune on a consulting firm
#2 – Set a few clear priorities and an overall strategic theme – otherwise you’ll have a long list of initiatives, most of which will not get done
#3 – Implement with a clear 3 part accountability plan
Good news! You don’t have to hire an external consultant to create your strategic plan, but you (or a good facilitator) can lead your team through all three steps.
The 3 Essential Keys to a complete strategic planning process:
This process is most effective when you schedule three 2-hour blocks of uninterrupted, focused time with all of your employees, or a one and a half or two day offsite retreat with key team members. If you have more than 10-20 employees, ask for volunteers from different departments to encourage diversity in thinking and keep the discussion manageable. Break people up into small groups to answer the questions and report back to the larger group, otherwise it’s challenging to keep everyone focused.
Unfortunately, many strategic planning sessions are filled with inefficient discussions and result in a list of jargon-filled answers. Encourage the use of clear language everyone can understand, leaving no room for guesswork. Drill down to specific answers to these questions, so you can take them to the point of creating clear initiatives that can and will get done.
Key Take Away: The big strategic planning questions are worthless if they don’t result in a few clear, compelling strategic initiatives that will grow and strengthen your organization.
In this second meeting you will:
By having a well-facilitated discussion you will have greater clarity about the big strategic planning questions, especially about what the organization should do best.
Once a list of no more than three to five priorities is agreed upon, the group can come up with a strategic theme. This is a one-line statement that conveys the overall compelling strategic push for the organization that clearly aligns everyone and focuses on the direction of your company. Examples could include:
Key Take Away: During this session, many companies just settle for a long list of priorities. While the benefit here is usually to avoid conflict, reduce tension and make sure that nobody feels excluded or insulted. However, doing so makes it highly unlikely that the organization will get any of the initiatives completed because of the feeling of overwhelm that will result from a lack of clarity and focus. People have to believe the strategic plan is do-able and achievable to feel excited and motivated to take action.
Key Take Away: If you want to have a sound strategy you will spend as much time on implementation planning as you do on the more glamorous work of answering the key strategic questions and setting priorities.
While some organizations are strong at asking the big picture questions, but they fail to follow up or bake in accountability. Some set too many priorities, and can’t say “no” to good ideas, despite limited resources. Others are strong at executing, but lack the vision to develop compelling strategic initiatives. Which of the above areas is or potentially could be the weakest area in your organization? How can you address them?
We’ve covered a strategic planning process that simple to implement, efficient and gets results. The 3 essential keys to include in your strategic planning process are:
#1 – Answer the “big” strategic planning
#2 – Set a few clear priorities and an overall strategic theme
#3 – Implement
REMEMBER: Successful Strategic Plans are a process, not an event.
After you’ve completed the strategic planning process and have a written plan, including any agreements and clear do-able accountability steps for everyone (including yourself), be sure to schedule quarterly reviews to ensure everyone is on track. This is a good time to make any adjustments necessary so you can continue to implement your plan. Create a one-sheet strategic plan and post it so all can see and be accountable. Celebrate milestones in your quarterly meetings and as part of your posted plan so everyone can see progress in action!
Click here to take this quick assessment to find out whether strategic planning in your organization is as stress free and effective as it should be!
Your brain is not designed to hold ideas, your brain is designed to have ideas.” – Robert Allen, ‘Getting Things Done”
An informal survey of 150 senior managers who participated in the most recent Sustainable Leaders Strategic Planning workshop revealed the biggest challenge they faced was “having too much to do in too little time with fewer resources than ever before… and having to make the right decisions quickly.”
The often unbelievable demands to be both highly productive and accurate bombard us daily. What’s different? The speed with which business must get done today is light years faster than even 15 or 20 years ago. In many industries (technology), change happens too quickly and if you only strive to keep up, you will be out of business faster than you can say “Buck Rogers.”
There are only 24 hours in a day and you cannot create “more time” in a day. The solution for most is to work longer and harder to get the job done. The only problem with that solution is that it is a recipe for burn out.
Let’s break the rules and shift your perspective consider this: Time is a limited resource and energy is an infinitely unlimited resource. You cannot create more time. You can, however, create more energy by taking control not only of your time, but where your attention is within that time frame.
My personal observation is that productive and sustainable leaders who feel happy and satisfied at the end of each day actively focus on BOTH how much they DO and DON’T DO to conserve brain power and leverage energy successfully.
Say “No” 100 times for every time you say “Yes.” If saying “No” is hard for you (as it is for most people), add “No, thank you” so you can get the added benefit of being grateful and appreciative, if not polite.
The latest studies in brain based learning prove that multitasking is not only impossible (we switch attention, our brains are incapable of focusing on two things at once), but to make matters worse, the reduction in accuracy for even the “best multi-tasker” doing the simplest of tasks is almost 50%. Pretty scary when you think about the complex tasks you do simultaneously (driving a car, talking on a cell phone or talking on the phone and typing an email response). Try to focus on doing one thing at a time. Notice how much less time it takes, especially because you don’t run the risk of hitting “send” prematurely then spending time on damage control.
Bottom line, people will feel heard and be able to find their own solutions more easily without unnecessary interference from you. And, you will conserve your brain power for more important challenges that lie ahead.
When you delegate, trust and offer challenges to people, not only will it benefit you, but also they’ll feel better about you if you do. We all know the importance of delegating so that you aren’t seen as the control freak in the corner office. But did you know that when you delegate responsibilities and tasks (with their buy in of course), the meta-message (as long as the deadline is reasonable or they are involved in setting the deadline) or message under the message, is “trust.” The receiver feels you believe in them enough to give them the opportunity to rise to the challenge. Win win.
Indecision happens when we have too many thoughts getting stuck in or out of sequence in the cognitive pipeline. Often we can get thoughts flowing again when we ask ourselves “What’s the one most important thing that needs to be decided and acted upon before that decision can be made?”
Whether you are a list maker or mind map fan, get every thought bouncing around inside of your head OUT of your head and onto paper, a whiteboard or computer program you are in the habit of checking or using regularly (“Freemind” is a simple and free example). Robert Allen’s “Getting Things Done” is a must read for “How To’s” when it comes to being more productive so you can take quick, effective action.
The Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC for short) is the part of your brain responsible for your ability to avoid distraction, make decisions, reason, understand and memorize. Think of it as powered by rechargeable batteries, not a 220v power cord plugged into an outlet in the wall. It needs frequent recharging (among other ingredients) in order for high performance. Taking a short 20 minute walk inside or outside your office building at the most hectic time of day will not only benefit your metabolism and your waistline, but also your brain. Try shutting off your brain for 5 minutes just two or three times a day, talk to a co-worker about a non-related subject (this is probably why gossip is so enticing), play a game of angry birds or juggle.
Think of how many “mindless” automatic patterns you have every day. Repeatedly doing routine tasks (like shaving, putting on your pants or brushing your teeth) the same way every day, doesn’t do your brain any favors. You are just deepening the same brain groove over and over. You are wasting valuable real estate! If you normally put your right leg in your pants first, put your left leg in first instead. If you begin shaving your face left side first, try starting your first swipe on a different part of your face. Do you have stairs in your office building? Which leg do you typically start with as you start up a flight of stairs? Try what you think I’m going to suggest next ….
If you are paid to think, treat your brain and your energy as precious commodities that need daily TLC to function most effectively and with ease. Pick one of these 7 Tips to practice each day and notice what happens to your mind and your mood; you too will become a Sustainable Leader one small step at a time.
Most small businesses or family-owned businesses are not ready to be sold because they are too dependent on the owner running and working in the business every day. As a result, millions of business owners will never be able to tap into the wealth they have tried to create after years and years of effort.
Here are three requirements for being able to sell your small business for top value or be positioned to retire with peace of mind and security (click here now to take a free assessment and find out):
In contrast, business owners who are able to sell their companies for top dollar go beyond these beliefs. They are willing to surrender full control. They don’t need to micromanage. They are open to hiring people smarter than they are, and to giving them the resources and time to develop professionally.
#2. You have a plan in place to recruit, retain, and develop people who can keep the business growing without you. Building a successful business starts with a strong foundation that makes it possible to develop a pool of talent who can run the company without you. Elements of this plan include:
#3. You have an ongoing succession planning process to keep challenging and preparing your team. If you have the above requirements in place, the final piece of the puzzle is an ongoing succession planning process. Succession planning is not a one-time event to replace a retiring business owner. It is an ongoing approach to identifying top talent, developing them, and challenging them to move up.
Small businesses that have these three essential ingredients in place can keep on growing. They give the owner more time to spend on strategic issues and setting high standards. They allow the owner to take long vacations and have a great life outside of work. Most importantly, they make the company more valuable.
Small businesses that don’t do the above will not sell – eventually they will wind down, and the owner will lose out on a huge potential source of wealth.
Sometimes the help of an outside advisor can make a huge difference in being able to sell your business– now or in the future – for top dollar to an enthusiastic buyer. The Center for Sustainable Strategies specializes in this area. For more information, contact us at Christina@christinahaxton.com or call (970) 387-8935 or click here to take a free assessment to see if your business is ready for SUCCESSion or sale.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DENVER, CO – The Center for Sustainable Strategies (formerly Sustainable Leadership, Inc.) is expanding to serve clients from Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins, Colorado, specializing in helping bio-science and technology executives meet the demands of Colorado’s growing biotech, bio-science and technology industry.
The Center for Sustainable Strategies helps entrepreneurs and newly hired or recently promoted leaders transitioning into an executive role develop effective leadership practices and business development strategies in fast-growth bioscience and emerging technology companies. The Center for Sustainable Strategies CEO Christina Haxton said that in a fast-paced industry, it is essential that technologists, scientists and physicians transitioning into a business environment find the balance between achieving sustainable business growth, applying best leadership practices, achieving successful work/life integration and avoiding burnout.
Haxton, recently relocated from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, has over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience, a graduate level certificate in Evidence-Based Coaching for Executives & Businesses, Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy specializing in business partnerships, Bachelors in Psychology and over 25 years of healthcare industry experience, including over 10 years in management and board level experience in non-profit healthcare, economic development and membership organizations. Haxton is a co-author of The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution One Person At A Time, is an author of numerous articles, dynamic presenter and keynote speaker on the topics of Sustainable Leadership, increasing employee and executive engagement, improving productivity, resolving workplace conflict, transforming stress and avoiding or recovering from burnout.
About The Center for Sustainable Strategies
The Fort Collins office is located at 219 West Magnolia St. Suite #120 Fort Collins, CO 80521 with a second office in the Greater Denver Area. Haxton’s original company, Sustainable Leadership, Inc. an executive coaching and leader development consultancy has now expanded to include offering business growth and development services for small business owners and non-profit organizations. The Center for Sustainable Strategies provides specialized expertise in assessing, developing and implementing innovative solutions to effectively address executive and team development, employee engagement, strategic and succession planning and execution, as well as custom leadership development programs for small to medium-sized health care, bioscience and technology companies. The Center for Sustainable Strategies has offices in the Greater Denver and Fort Collins, Colorado areas.
For more information:
Contact: Christina Haxton Email: Christina@ChristinaHaxton.com
Phone: (970) 387-8935
Engaging and mobilizing team members or employees can feel like a daunting challenge, especially if you are a technologist, engineer, scientist or physician making the transition into a leadership or management position. However a few simple behaviors can make a huge difference to improve engagement with the people you need to help you get the job done.
For instance, many employees are frustrated because they feel like they have to be a mind reader, psychic or great guesser as to what their your priorities are at any given time. Even worse, they don’t know how they are doing and how they can do better. Their annual performance review is sometimes their only chance to find out. Often stressful for both of you and because it happens only once a year, the annual review does not set people up for success. Your employees need more frequent, detailed feedback and feedforward so they can make responsive adjustments and know they are on track!
This situation is not completely the fault of management. In some organizations, spans of control have become so large that managers have to complete another formal performance review every three or four days. Leaders are busy, busy, busy. I get it. But that’s still no excuse.
There are many simple strategies to mobilize employees and create a highly engaged team. the good news is they cost almost nothing to implement, can be put into place immediately and have huge impact.
For instance, one opportunity that many leaders have to build trust with their team members – even at the C-level – is to give more frequent, informal feedback about how each employee is doing. It takes just a few minutes to ask a question and listen to the response you get. That way, everyone in an organization knows what is expected of them and how they can get better.
There are seven simple questions every leader must ask employees … and intently listen to the answers to create a highly engaged team. As with advertising, frequency counts. Small, informal conversations about performance go a long way – especially when they include teachable moments about different situations and details.
The questions include:
1. What do you believe I expect from you?
2. What are you doing well?
3. What, if anything, can you be doing better?
4. What, if anything, do you believe I see you could do better?
5. (If appropriate): What do you expect will happen if you improve (e.g., more responsibility, more time with leadership, more desirable assignments)?
6. (If appropriate): What do you expect will happen if you don’t improve?
7. How can I help?
While all of these questions are important, and you don’t have to ask all of them at once, the last question is especially important. It shows the employee that the leader cares, and is not merely abdicating responsibility or shifting blame.
No more excuses! For more information about how you can easily and effectively engage and mobilize your team and to take a confidential and free self-assessment about how well you are engaging and mobilizing your team or employees, click here.
If workplace negativity and poor attitudes are a problem in your office, AVOID IS NOT A STRATEGY and you are not alone. Here are some simple, no cost solutions (and if this doesn’t work, you can find your customized solution at the bottom of this post):
Infographic by Quill
P.S. If this infographic doesn’t completely solve your workplace negativity problem, click here to contact Christina or email email@example.com or call (970) 387-8935 today to discuss a customized solution for your organization.
Have you ever had a moment where you’ve said something and as you’re saying it you kind of can’t believe what you’re saying? You’ve heard yourself telling the same story about how you endured a soul-sucking job, tolerated your obnoxious boss or felt exhausted and stuck in your business.
I was catching up with some old friends this weekend about some of our experiences and how our lives have changed over time. I was telling the story of when I first started my private counseling practice how I was contracted by Social Services to help clients who were “unmotivated and unwilling” (i.e., court ordered) referred by social services who were at risk of losing their children to the court system.
And especially about how I was on call 24/7 (remember pagers?) and we couldn’t take a family weekend away because there was no one else who could be “on call.” Sometimes I needed a police escort to my appointments. How every Monday morning I’d find myself thinking “why am I doing this?”.
Since the social services contract made up 90% of my private practice, I was very busy. I did the “crisis counselor” thing as an in-home-intensive-family-therapist for about 8 years. And for the last six of them I’d be thinking “why am I doing this?”
As I explained this it dawned on me that it had taken rather a long time for me to go from realizing I wasn’t enjoying it to actually doing something about it. Over 6 years. Wow. I was being held hostage by my own habits.
Much of the work I do today with business and executive coaching clients these days gives them a new perspective on their business and their impact. Shows them possibilities and solutions they just hadn’t thought of before.
But often, just like me on a Monday morning, they already know they need something different. Sometimes they even know what that different thing is. But they feel stuck. Held hostage by habits.
Because when you’ve done something for a long, long time it becomes part of you. It’s just what you do. For some, It’s who you become. A mindless habit. It’s easy. It’s familiar. It’s certain. You know how to do it. I’ve heard it all (and done it myself).
Even though you don’t like it, or it’s not really getting you the results you need, it’s a lot less scary than something completely new that might not work at all. Or might make you look silly. Or you might fail.
It took over six years (and a lot of encouragement from my husband) for me to get the courage to give up the certain income that came with that counseling contract and do what I really wanted to do.
Don’t let it take you that long to try something new in your business (or career).
You don’t have to change everything. But pick one thing you don’t think is working well and drop it for a few months and do something else instead. Stop saying “yes” to every request and say “let me give it some thought and I’ll get back to you.” Stop taking on new clients who don’t fit your ideal client profile and say “Thank you, but it’s not a good fit, let me refer you to someone who could be a better fit for your needs.”
If it works, keep doing it. If it doesn’t, try something else – sooner rather than later.
Not rocket science. Obvious on paper. Trickier to do in real life. Therefore the six years.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Don’t you waste six more years, or even six more months doing something that constantly drains you, leaves you feeling exhausted or fails to bring you joy.
What’s one small thing you are willing to do (or stop doing) today so you aren’t held hostage by habits?
Christina Haxton, MA LMFT is the Chief Potential Officer & Founder of Sustainable Leadership. An executive coach, business consultant and speaker, Christina assists busy business owners, high potential managers, key executives and CEOs to achieve successful work/life balance and peace of mind to become exceptional leaders who are built to last.
To apply for a confidential Strategy Session to explore your business or career goals or to inquire about a professional development program for your team, meeting or conference, contact Christina at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 387-8935.