Archive for February, 2015

To Struggle or Not to Struggle

Posted: February 22, 2015 by Tom Heuer in Culture, Leadership, People

Tom Heuer, Miami University Center for EntrepreneurshipDuring the first week of my entrepreneurial leadership classes at Miami, I introduce a definition of leadership – “Leadership is the art of convincing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations” (Kouzes and Posner).   My first question to the students always is “which words or phrases really pop out at you.”   Their response is almost always “struggle.” Why? From their perspective, a leader is a positive person and struggle is a very negative term. And so, this begins an interesting but intense discussion around the merits of “struggle” in one’s life.   Usually, I win the discussion because ultimately I refer to such admired leaders as Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jesus, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln and point to how their struggles shaped their legacies.

Refer again to the “leadership” definition. Often glossed over in the definition are the two words preceding to struggle – to want. Leaders convince employees, peers, vendors, partners, etc. to want to struggle with them. Just envision the difference in the result when people want to struggle. The project or the work is completed with a sense of urgency moved by passion and desire for the outcome. Entrepreneurs generally know how to create this environment because their employees see them struggle every day to experience breakthrough in their business. Their daily example encourages the people to want to struggle for the start-up’s successful launch.

Conversely, corporations today have difficulty moving their employees to struggle for the enterprise. A 2013 Gallup poll found that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. This means that only one in eight workers is committed to struggling in their job and for the enterprise. Why? Corporations have very few leaders to model the way. Without the leader igniting shared aspirations, employees will become frustrated and disillusioned in their work. The lack of effort shows up in their mediocre performance. They have no desire to struggle or deliver discretionary effort in their job and for their company. This will not be disrupted until bosses become leaders and motivate their people to extraordinary performance.

So, how can leaders gain a commitment from their employees and ultimately, develop an edge against their competition? Consider the following actions:

  • Learn how to inspire shared aspirations. Even, your top performers need to know what they are struggling for. If you fail to clarify the vision, your people will exit the boat and you will be left paddling by yourself. Find a way to get your team on the raft with their oars in the water.

 

  • Breakdown your organization into smaller, entrepreneurial units. Model the behaviors you expect so the business will excel. Work alongside your team. Encourage ideas from your people. And, of course, do something with the ideas.

 

  • Spend time watching other leaders work their magic. Focus on how they engage their people. Listen to how they communicate with them. Watch how they listen intently to what they are saying and provide a related response. View how they encourage them and reinforce their efforts. See how they treat their people with dignity and respect. And then sit back and watch how the team gladly struggles for shared aspirations.

 

Just be a LEADER and your people will want to struggle along with you.

 

 

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Rapid Innovation

Posted: February 21, 2015 by Bill Cunningham in Innovation, People, Startup, Technology

bill-cunningham-sc“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”  – Steve Jobs – founder of Apple Computer

In my office I have a picture of Steve Jobs on one wall and Steve Blank facing him on the other. Mr. Jobs certainly needs no introduction, but Mr. Blank is not a household word around the Midwest as he is a veteran of 8 Silicon Valley tech companies and teaches at Stanford and Berkeley.  Steve Jobs believes customers can’t know what they want — we have to invent it for them.  Steve Blank, however, believes that you must find out what your customers need, and solve their problems. Which Steve do you follow?

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Region’s startups create more jobs, seek new talent

Posted: February 16, 2015 by Amanda Greenwell in Uncategorized

AmandaGreenwellIt’s no secret that startups are drivers of job growth in the United States and here in the Tri-State. In fact, a 2010 study from the Kauffman Foundation reports that new firms add an average of three million jobs to the U.S. economy compared to existing businesses. The accelerator program I manage, UpTech, and so many other groups in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky strive to support startups’ total growth in their early stages, but the other critical need our community provides is offering local talent to fill jobs for these companies.

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Tips From A Conservative Entrepreneur

Posted: February 8, 2015 by Jerry Malsh in Culture, Leadership, People, Startup

jerry-malsh-2015I was a late bloomer.

It took me 37 years to finally become an entrepreneur!

When I graduated from college in ’69 (that’s 1969, not 1869), there was a recession going on and the only place that offered me a job was Sears, Roebuck in Chicago … writing catalogue copy for the automotive department–specializing in mufflers, tailpipes and tires.

Pretty glamorous, eh?

About 4 months of that grind was all I could take, so every night I cut out pictures from magazines, pasted them on the cardboard backing from my laundered shirts and typed in my headlines and copy for what I thought would be good ads.

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To Grow as a Leader, Stop Making Decisions

Posted: February 1, 2015 by Bob Gilbreath in Culture, Leadership, People, Startup

Bob-G-2015We often praise leaders that stand at the center of decision-making. We marvel at the technology CEO who personally chooses buttons for a new phone, the actor who also produces and directs his next film, and the pro sports coach who negotiates the power to “buy the groceries” as general manager. It makes for a good story, but often a horrible organization. Most successful leaders get there by minimizing the number of decisions they make.

For entrepreneurs, the day is filled with decisions small and large. It is a function of the habit of being the decider from day one, but also comes from the personal pressure of owning the company. For those who start a business because they think it’s good to be the king, this model is great. For the rest of us who are striving to build a sustainable, scaling business it can mean disaster.

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