Balancing Strategic Planning and Messaging - David DeWolf

Balancing Strategic Planning and Messaging [Graphic]

A few years ago, we spent a great deal of time at 3Pillar talking about who we are, what we do, and how we do it. Though we had always known and agreed on 80% of the answers, I’ve found that the 20% can really shape your business and provide strategic direction.

There’s a radical balance that must be struck between getting these answers right and driving these efforts to completion.  There’s a tendency to seek perfection and wordsmith to death.  On the other hand, significant thought does need to be put developing your core ideology, strategy, and messaging.

Many articles have been written on core values, purpose, mission, and other idealogical and strategic concepts and I don’t intend to rehash them here. (If you’d like to do some reading, take a look at HBR.) Here are some tips that I would offer in regards to these efforts:

Focus on the meat and potatoes. Keep things simple. Be explicit. Consider them living documents. Be proportionate to your maturity.

To read about each of these items, see the post I wrote in 2010.


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What's the Most Important of All Leadership Traits - David DeWolf

What’s the Most Important of All Leadership Traits?

Last week, I was talking to an executive. We were brainstorming and trying to figure out why it was that, of all the leaders we were talking about, none of them seemed to have any sort of formal training or coaching. None of them had gone through a leadership development program. Yet they seemed to be some of the best and strongest leaders that we knew.

What was it that made them different?

We finally stumbled across it. We were convinced it wasn’t the question of nature vs. nurture. There had to be something about these people that made them different.

Sure enough, we started with the fact that leaders are readers. Its almost cliche. It’s embarrassing how often people say that. But do we really understand why it is? Heres what we discovered as we talked more.

Leaders want to soak up information. Leadership comes from digesting information. Learning more. Soaking up information so that you can connect the dots and notice the trends. Put this information into action.

All of the leaders we were talking about weren’t just readers, they were connected to other individuals. They were naturally curious. They asked tons of questions. They were in the market. They were connecting with other leaders. They were exposing themselves to lots and lots and lots of feedback of information. Of new ideas. Ideas from different industries. Ideas from different leaders. Ideas from people throughout the entire world.

Yes, they were reading but that was actually only one channel of information. What they were doing above all else was seeking out information.

Leaders thrive off of more information. Leaders are tasked with changing the status quo and putting new things in motion. They do this by taking information and applying it to their situation.

Leaders are hungry for more. That was the common denominator. It was these naturally curious, naturally exploring individuals who couldn’t help but put what they were learning into motion.

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How Do You Communicate "Core Values"? - David DeWolf

How Do You Communicate “Core Values”?

How do you or other leaders in your organization communicate the “core values”?

The way you communicate values to an organization must be intentional. It must be deliberate, but, more importantly, it must be based on action, not words. There are two primary ways to communicate values and to spread them within your organization.

The first is to lead by example. If you don’t live your values, if those closest to you don’t live your values, then they’re not your values. Values are all about valuing it regardless of the impact, regardless of the situation.

Nobody expects you to be perfect, but they do expect you to be genuine. You must live your values, and when you don’t you must admit it. You must acknowledge that you failed. You must share and ask for forgiveness from the organization.

The second way to communicate and to live your values is to reward and recognize based off of values. A lot of people rewarded and recognized based on getting things done, on a phenomenal effort, or on a brilliant idea. This is great. But it should not create a shadow over the values of the organization.

Do you recognize those people that live your values? That show them and demonstrate them consistently? Lift those people up! Put them on a pedestal as an example for others to see. Recognize them publicly. Reward them and thank them for what they are doing.

By clearly living your values and holding up others as examples who live your values. Your values will spread like wildfire throughout your organization.

Question: How do you or other leaders in your organization communicate the “core values”? I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a comment by clicking here. Learn to live an integrated life with humble confidence. Get it Now

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What's On My Phone Calendars 5 by Readdle

What’s on My Phone: Calendars 5 by Readdle

I gave up on the iPhone’s standard calendar. There are just too many problems with it and how it integrates with the Google Apps service that hosts my calendar.

Calendars 5 to the rescue!

The synchronization works well and the app has obviously been designed with Google Apps integration in mind. The interface is clean, and quite powerful — and is optimized for whatever size screen (iPhone or iPad) it happens to be executing on. They seem to fit more into the small space on my phone than seemed possible without cluttering it up.

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An Employee Transition that Makes Me Proud - David DeWolf

An Employee Transition that Makes Me Proud

A couple of months ago, I witnessed an employee transition that really knocked my socks off.

We had a sales executive who had been with the organization for almost two years. She was phenomenal at building relationships, exceptional at developing rapport, and a great culture fit for us. Unfortunately, due to several tweaks that we needed to make in our organization, her role had morphed a little from when she joined us. She determined that it was important to her in her career to leave and take a new role, one that would allow her to participate in more of the sales process than our business development folks do.

She went to her boss and explained to him that, because of the changes, she was going to start looking for a new role. She also committed that she would work just as hard, if not harder, making sure that she finished up on a strong note with high integrity.

And she did that until minutes after her last day.

The way the organization responded was remarkable. Her supervisor announced to the team that she had decided to leave, didn’t have a role yet, and we were looking for everybody to open up their Rolodexes and help her find the type of role she was looking for. She was overwhelmed by the support she received, the outreach, and people wanting to help. A few weeks later, she found the role and, after finishing everything up, said goodbye to our organization.

I’ll never forget giving her a hug as she said goodbye. As the tear fell from her eye, I could tell that this transition was something different, something special.

Because of the deep trust that had been developed, she didn’t have to hide the process or what she was going through. She didn’t have to stress out about hard conversations, though I’m sure they were difficult. Her supervisor took care of her on the way out, and in return, she took care of the organization.

This was an incredible example to our employees of the type of relationships that you can have in business if organizations stop thinking only about the bottom line and start respecting the dignity of the human person, and if people respond in the same way, genuinely seeking to put in a good day’s work and doing the best job that they can, while being transparent and honest.

This transition is one of my proudest moments as the CEO of 3Pillar. I love the fact that I didn’t have to be involved, that the organization took care of it themselves and that I was able to witness a company that invested in their people, helped them even if it meant a departure, and an employee who left saying, “Someday, I hope I return. I will always be part of the 3Pillar family.”

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Taking Joy in Someone Else's Success - David DeWolf

Taking Joy in Someone Else’s Success

If you knew José, you would have been WOWed. José was one of my best employees! Brilliant. Creative. His skills were impeccable. He was consultative and polished. Clients loved to work with José.

Not only that, but José showed leadership ability. He was able to inspire others. He was able to paint a vision and get others excited and motivated around it. He was a little bit unpolished in his leadership techniques but he was rapidly learning them.

José also had vision. Lots of ideas! Tons of Ideas! The passion and commitment to make sure he pursued them.

Unfortunately, some of these ideas simply weren’t in alignment with our company. And while several of them were, it was obvious that José’s passion was pursuing these other ideas. He wouldn’t stop at anything before they were accomplished. It began to create a disturbance within the organization. In a couple of instances, instructions would be ignored as he passionately and almost blindly pursued these ideas.

I went to José, and after several months of trying to reign him back in, had a blunt conversation. “José, I think you need to be an entrepreneur. It’s time to leave. You can have the time you need. Let’s figure out a plan. Let’s transition. Let me help you start a business.”

And that’s exactly what he did. José is an incredibly successful entrepreneur. He’s built a fabulous company, one that I am super proud of.

I don’t talk with him much, almost never, but I stand back and admire what he’s done. And frankly, it’s one of my most proud moments.

In business, it’s easy to want to keep everything for yourself, to want to protect your talent. In the grand scheme of things, I helped the organization by getting rid of a distraction, while helping an employee at the same time become a successful entrepreneur who is totally fulfilled by pursuing his passion.

There are often times when employees or others I know will ask what I think about José’s success. Its almost tongue-in-cheek where people are expecting me to be sad or disappointed, upset that José is no longer with us. Quite frankly, many people don’t have a clue that I was the one who encouraged him to leave. They just see it as a failure on my part to retain talent. I smile and I share how proud I am of him.

It’s not disappointing to me that somebody else is successful. I take great pride in the fact that this individual was able to hopefully learn a few things while with us and that I was able to give him that little nudge and that little runway to to start a successful business of his own.

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