Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Leadership is about Clearing the Obstacles

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September 4, 2015 · by Ray · Business Solutions, Leadership

 

Leadership2base

Once, as a team, you  have decided that you are running in certain direction, then it’s the leader’s job to clear the path, get the obstacles out of the way and make it fast to make decisions.

Another way of saying this is that it’s the leader’s job to create the environment for success and the largest part of this is about clearing barriers to performance out of the way. Find and remove the objections to achieving the objectives.

Let the team run as far and as fast as the environment will allow and they can achieve.
If there are too many obstacles to handle at once then use voting to find out what the team believe are the biggest obstacles and then focus on them and get them removed. Then move onto the next. For large widely dispersed teams then technology can help with surveys, collaboration tools and social networking tolls available.

The Poetry of Business Growth

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Business-Solutions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I deliver Business Growth, by leading a great team

I show them how team success, helps achieve their dreams

The chance to make a difference and to do something good

The chance to build their skills and grow as as they should

 

The chance to provide,  a future for their family

And build this future on merit, success and security

With all the barriers removed and no reason to hide

They will rise to success on the platform I provide

 

I start with Customer Profile and a Value Proposition,

Then the team to deliver, Customer and Revenue ambitions

Efficient and effective with tools, training and skills addition

We Begin and Establish Growth and later Optimise our position

 

From Market Entry to Development, it’s the same approach I feel

Better to use experience and process, and not reinvent the wheel

Diagnose the Challenge first, and then onto Solution creation

And then a project plan,  for controlled Implementation

Management is not Leadership

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January 12, 2013 · by Ray · Leadership

Leadership

Leadership & Management are confused much of the time. What is the difference? The following has been extracted from an article in HBR by John Kotter. He expresses it well in my view.

It is important to stress that it is wrong to romanticize one to the detriment of the other. Both are very important. In a world of rapid change and ever more complex organisations we need both to be at the top of their game…but they are different and confusion does not help.

 

The Mistakes people make…

The mistakes people make on the issue are threefold:

Mistake #1: People use the terms “management” and “leadership” interchangeably. This shows that they don’t see the crucial difference between the two and the vital functions that each role plays.

Mistake #2: People use the term “leadership” to refer to the people at the very top of hierarchies. They then call the people in the layers below them in the organization “management.” And then all the rest are workers, specialists, and individual contributors. This is also a mistake and very misleading.

Mistake #3: People often think of “leadership” in terms of personality characteristics, usually as something they call charisma. Since few people have great charisma, this leads logically to the conclusion that few people can provide leadership, which gets us into increasing trouble.

Management is “Doing things right”…

Management is a set of well-known processes, like planning, budgeting, structuring jobs, staffing jobs, measuring performance and problem-solving, which help an organization to predictably do what it knows how to do well. Management helps you to produce products and services as you have promised, of consistent quality, on budget, day after day, week after week. In organizations of any size and complexity, this is an enormously difficult task. We constantly underestimate how complex this task really is, especially if we are not in senior management jobs. So, management is crucial — but it’s not leadership.

Leadership is “Doing the right things”…

Leadership is entirely different. It is associated with taking an organization into the future, finding opportunities that are coming at it faster and faster and successfully exploiting those opportunities. Leadership is about vision, about people buying in, about empowerment and, most of all, about producing useful change. Leadership is not about attributes, it’s about behavior. And in an ever-faster-moving world, leadership is increasingly needed from more and more people, no matter where they are in a hierarchy. The notion that a few extraordinary people at the top can provide all the leadership needed today is ridiculous, and it’s a recipe for failure.

 

Customer Service: The John Lewis Way

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john_lewis_oxford_street1

I recently had the pleasure of working inside John Lewis and experiencing first hand how they deliver customer service that’s admired. I enjoyed working with the company. The customers and staff (partners) are in general happy, very polite and helpful and the company has a great atmosphere which is a credit to them. This has not happened overnight. The trust that customers have in John Lewis takes a long time to build but much easier to lose. How have they created this? First are the founding principles of Customer Service in John Lewis –

“Be honest; give respect; recognise others; show enterprise; work together; achieve more.”

Then my impressions…

1. “We’re Based on the Notion that if we Treat our Partners well, it will lead to Good Customer Service.”

This is a simple idea but one few companies really put into practice. John Lewis implement it in a number of ways:

  • Partnership
    • Staff are called and treated as partners
    • All partners are owners in the business and get a yearly bonus based on performance
    • Managers served staff at Xmas lunch
    • Partnership concept breaks down barriers and creates meritocracy
  • Respect
    • Respect for each other and for customers is a core value within John Lewis
    • Managers and staff were generally very helpful to one another and to customers
    • No difference between how customers and partners were treated…indeed partners were often customers
  • Trust
    • Trust partners and empower them to do well
    • In general partners were given space to to their jobs and to succeed and
  • Soft Benefits to create family effect
    • Subsidised canteen, discount card, subsidised, sports , subsidised concerts, holiday homes etc…
    • Social club with great parties etc.

2. Empower Staff

  • Train staff well
  • Empower them to make do the right thing. This may be asking a manager or acting on the customer’s best interests depending on the situation. They are encouraged to think outside the box once the basics have been understood and acted upon. Staff are expected to show enterprise in the right context
  • Staff are product experts in their areas and have built up this expertise over time and through training.
  • Be honest – if you don’t know do not waste the customer’s time. Find somebody with the right answer. Bring the customer to the answer if required.

 

3. Get and Act on Customer Feedback

  • Headquarter staff spend a few days serving over peak periods. This helps to give better customer service overall but also gives them immediate insight into the problem areas that customers are facing.
  • Staff are expected to communicate issues regularly and many forums are created whereby this is done in a  formal way

4. Make Online and Store seamless

  • Returns for online can be done in store at any till with systems work behind the scenes to improve this process ongoing. This can be much better than having to repackage it and post it back to other online retailers.,
  • Maintain exceptional customer service online. Customers have access to people when they need it and can use Waitrose and John  Lewis stores to pick up their purchase rather than missing the delivery at home.
  • Online is becoming a huge part of the overall service offered by John Lewis allowing customers to purchase when stores are closed. The John Lewis Clearance sales started on Xmas eve.

5. Make Customers Life Easy

  • Shopping can be stressful and unpleasant in the wrong environment. John Lewis try to help make it a pleasant environment.
  • Create a calm environment that is pleasant to look at and products are easy to find. Do not overburden with selling messages in flash colours
  • Keep queues to a minimum by hiring temporary staff for peak times to help at till as and free up existing staff to answer questions and give advice. Also deploy HQ staff to help out.
  • Provide a customer collection point that will collect all customer purchases in one location to ensure that they are not overburdened with bags
  • Provide home delivery options from store
  • Provide delivery options to John Lewis or Waitrose stores
  • Provide extensive gift list and gift wrapping services
  • Staff are honest and if they cannot answer will say so but will find someone who can and will not leave the customer until they are assured that the customer is being served by someone able inside John Lewis.

6. Be Different

  • Never knowingly undersold
    • John Lewis will match competitor prices if evidence is presented that is relevant and reasonable.
    • Staff are empowered to do this on the fly with manager’s approval.
    • Systems will support on the fly one off discounting.
  • Have an exceptional returns policy
    • John Lewis customers are trusted implicitly and when they bring back a product that they are not happy with it is changed often without question. This could be abused but at a macro level this creates tremendous good will and indeed more purchases. Often customers need to see the product in the home environment before being really sure and if they could postpone or not purchase if the returns policy was too difficult.
  • Have an exceptional warranty on electricals
    • John Lewis provides market leading warranties on electrical items whilst maintaining competitive prices.. This has become more important a sthe options on the high street narrow.

7. Hire people who share the John Lewis vision

  • Hire people who will take on the values of John Lewis and take it forward. The gatekeepers that hire staff  into John Lewis have an important job to hire people that will not abuise the trust and respect gievn to them by partners and customers.

 

You’ve Gotta Laugh! – Humour in the Workplace

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January 2, 2013 · by Ray · Business Solutions, Leadership

 

We laugh so often that we never stop to ask what is it for. In fact ask the question and the recipient will be waiting for the punchline (thinking it is a joke!). But in a business context what is humour for? Why do we have some of our best times when we enjoy a good laugh in a group? Are there negative aspects to humour? Why do we sometimes feel angry or hurt when in a group that are laughing at a joke – maybe at our expense?

Well, like many of the social tools we use, humour is such a part of our human interactions that we use it and react to it unconsciously. But where did it come from and where did it start?

Some scientists reckon that humour was originated to help with procreation.

Scientists have proposed a variety of evolutionary theories of humour that mostly boil down to getting an edge in the chase for a mate. American evolutionary biologist Richard D Alexander, for example, suggested in his 1986 book Ostracism and Indirect Reciprocity: the Reproductive Significance of Humour, that the point of telling jokes was to raise one’s own status, lower that of certain other individuals, and enhance social unity…..And to get laid.

In the work environment, status is important and humour is used with varying degrees of success to raise that of the joker and reduce that of the target. If you are the target of an experienced joker, you may be seething inside but will have to laugh along as you find it impossible to find enough ground to take issue. How many times have you thought up a witty riposte hours later and wished you could have used it.

Humour is sometimes used to make serious points and to communicate messages that the originator cannot or is afraid to communicate seriously. This a poor use of humour as again it may be  divisive.

Humour for social unity is one that we all enjoy because it is inclusive and non divisive whereas status driven humour may be  exclusive and divisive. Status humour about groups can include social unity as a by product but it applies to specific groups inhabited by the joker.

So use humour in the workplace to promote social unity, to release tension and create a friendly and enjoyable workplace.

Beware of humour that promotes individual status or agendas.

Leadership Insights

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Leadership Questions

Leadership has historically caused much debate and raised many questions:

  • Are leaders born or made?
  • What makes a leader?
  • Do different environments require different leaders.?
  • Is a leader, a leader all of the time?

The good news is that we all can be leaders. It requires the right circumstances. It requires practice.

We will not be leaders all of the time but we need only be leaders for enough time to get the job done.

The following will explore these questions in more detail.

What is leadership?

Aristotle defined leadership as requiring Knowledge,Skills and Practical Wisdom – the ability to see the good and realize it in a specific situation. All three are necessary and mutually supportive.

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu characterized leadership as a mix of five traits: Intelligence, Credibility, Humaneness, Courage, and Discipline.

Montgomery defined leadership as:
“The capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence”.

The Arbinger Institute talks about self deception & “being in the box”. Being “in the box” means being being boxed in by your fears, doubts, uncertainties and limiting beliefs such that you do not connect with others and do not focus on that you care about. Good leaders are honest with themselves and are ” in the box” much less of the time.

Peter Drucker states “Your first and foremost job as a leader is to manage your own energy, and help manage the energy of those around you”.

Steven Radcliffe talks about a leader:

  1. Creating a vision of a better future
  2. Engaging a team to commit their energy to deliver such a future
  3. Delivering results
This he summarised as Future-Engage-Deliver.
My own view of leadership is that fundamentally it is about creating the environment such that the team can be successful. This involves setting objectives, about engaging and about delivering….but also it is about removing obstacles such that the team can deliver as fast and as far as they can and the environment will allow.

As a leader, you must care for a better future

Leadership is not just about competencies, skills and personality. It’s first and foremost about being in touch with what you care about and then going for it. You won’t be a great leader for things you don’t care about!

By its nature a better future involves working in areas that are new and where you are instigating change to achieve this better future. Managers normally focus on delivery within defined parameters and deal with much less uncertainty.

A better future requires strategy and planning once the idea has been conceived. This will ensure that it is indeed a better future.

You must be at your best more of the time

Peter Drucker states “Your first and foremost job as a leader is to manage your own energy…..and then help manage the energy of those around you”.

It does all start with you, how you manage yourself to be at your best more of the time.

If you are at your best, you are focussed on the future and not held back by the present. You are more engaging and this creates a powerful platform to help others to be at their best.

The Arbinger Institute talks about “being in the box”. Being in the box means not being being boxed in by your fears, doubts uncertainties and limiting beliefs such that you do not connect with others and do not focus on that you care about. Good leaders are in the box much less of the time.

All of us have the capability to be leaders but we need to believe in ourselves as a leader and get into the right frame of mind. An effective leader is “Playing to Win” and is not just “Trying not to Lose”. As an effective leader you are “At Your Best” and not “Just Surviving” . An effective leader will exhibit high energy or low energy at different times for different tasks. These are not fixed states. We all are in all of these some of the time. We will not be leaders all of the time. But the best leaders manage to be in “Play to Win” and “At Your Best” states most of time.

You must help others be at their best more of the time

Leaders must make big requests so they must have relationships that are big enough to get the job done.

They must help people be at their best. They must help them overcome their limitations – their fears, doubts, uncertainties and limiting beliefs and to focus on what they care about.

Leaders must look for and  remove obstacles in the environment that are hindering team progress.

You must engage others to care about your vision of the future.

Engage people so they want to work with you and build a future with you.

Crucially engagement is absolutely distinct from ‘communicating to’, ‘presenting at’ or telling.

It is about how you connect with people, how you stimulate their thinking and impact their energy.

Engaging others is a two-way interaction and its something that happens inside your relationships. It is about your ability to build relationships big enough to get the job done.

Engagement is about taking people through resistance, apathy, grudging compliance, willing compliance, to enrolled and finally to committed.

Engagement is:

  • supported by building Relationships big enough to get the job done
  • fuelled by Possibilities that others can see for themselves linked to the Future they want
  • sharpened by agreement on specific Opportunities and Priorities
  • creating a bridge to Deliver by making Big Requests of others to elicit Promises to take Action.

You must deliver results

Delivery is not standalone

Delivery is where we are all judged, is the most visible part of leadership but is not standalone. Without a compelling Future and without engaging in that future delivery of the right results will not happen.

Delivery requires you to mean it

To get great delivery you have to mean it when you make big requests. Meaning it means that your team is in no doubt of your expectations from what you say and from what you do.

For instance…making too many requests may well mean that none are done well. Not following up may mean that your team becomes distracted. Remember the maxim ” people do what you inspect, not what you expect”. There are no avoiding some difficult converstations when performance falls below that required or expected.

In delivery a leader is expected to exhibit fierce resolve, emotional fortitude, focus, discipline and resilience to ensure that the team remains focussed, acts with high energy and delivers results.

Deliver today but grow people to deliver even more tomorrow

Get the best from yourself and others today but commit to growing yourself and others so that the capability to deliver increases into the future.

How do we become leaders?

We become leaders through 1. Conscious Practice, 2. Using a Personal Support Team 3. Knowing and Going beyond our limits and 4. Being in the right State of Mind.

Conscious Practice.

Conscious Practice. You do most of your learning in real-life situations and the more you practice the better you get. Consciously use situations and challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.

  • Be guided by the future you want
  • Embrace the big picture
  • Engage rather than transmitting/communicating
  • Build Big Relationships
  • Manage your Shadow (Don’t be “in the box”, manage yourself such that your uncertainties or anxieties do not cast a shadow on your team. Be in a position to help your team be at their best)
  • Make Big Requests
  • Maximise Probability of Delivery
  • Acknowledge acceptable Delivery
  • Fix Delivery that has problems
  • Wrap Up

Use a Personal Support Team

Use a personal Support Team for feedback. Identify the specific ways you want to grow as a leader, tell selected colleagues and ask them to rate you now. Then ask them if they’ll watch out for you in these areas to help you make progress.

Know and go beyond your limits.

  • Get beyond the present
  • Embrace the big picture
  • Accept that you will not know how to achieve your Future
  • Believe you are a leader
  • Be in leader mode (rather than operator/manager mode)
  • Overcome: I’m only….I’m not….I’m just…

Be in the right state of mind

Recognise your state of mind and work out how to ensure you are “At Your Best” and “Playing To Win”.

Recognise the triggers that push you into “Just Surviving” mode and ensure you manage or avoid them to spend more time “Playing to Win”.

Sales Leadership

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October 13, 2011 · by Ray · High Performance Sales Team, Leadership

What is leadership? What is the purpose and function of the leader? It is to deliver business growth and is achieved by 1-Set Objectives, 2-Engage & 3-Deliver.

Leadership

Leadership

The sales leader purpose is to deliver business growth and leads both direct and virtual teams to achieve this objective. Leadership is therefore key to business growth success.

Aristotle defined leadership as requiring Knowledge, Skills and Practical Wisdom – the ability to see the good and realize it in a specific situation. All three are necessary and mutually supportive.

Montogomery defined leadership succinctly as:
“The capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence”.

The purpose in an organisation has multiple levels. The company will normally have a vision which states why the company exists and how it will make the world a better place.

The sales team itself has a specific purpose that serves the achievement of this vision and as such will have specific objectives. The sales leader’s overall purpose is to deliver business growth. This is achieved as follows:

  • Set achievable but challenging Objectives (or targets) within the context of the vision of the organisation.
  • Engage  his team to accept these objectives wholeheartedly and in good spirit and then to
  • Deliver the performance necessary to achieve these objectives.

Leadership Model

Leadership is not fixed and is dependent on the task at hand. It is also dependent on the type of organisation whether transformational or transactional and on the maturity of the organisation. But I find the following simple model of leadership useful.

A  leader requires Knowledge, Skills (&Tools) and Practical Wisdom.

 

Practical Wisdom

Knowledge may be learned, Skills may be practiced but Practical Wisdom is grown through through experience and reflection. Practical Wisdom is the ability to see the good and realize it in a specific situation. In other words  to decide and do what is effective to achieve the required objectives.

This is not a set of universal rules to be learned or a pocket guide to be drawn upon for the correct solution. It is something only achieved through experience and reflection.  It is realized through the ability to relate new experiences to previous experiences, in other words to recognize patterns in situations that facilitate understanding and resolution.

Practical wisdom is supported by the qualities of the leader.

The following list is in a generic order of priority. It is derived from the book “ How to Grow Leaders” by John Adair.

  • Enthusiasm. A leader must demonstrate unquenchable enthusiasm for the achievement of the agreed goal.
    This may be quiet and slow-burning enthusiasm rather than the heat and fireworks of passion, but it is always there.
  • Integrity. The quality that engenders trust. Trust is the foundation for all human intercourse.
  • Demanding – coupled with Fairness. A leader has high standards and will not compromise on them.
    But is also consistent, fair and will not ask of others more than he asks from himself.
  • Humanity. The raw material with which a leader has to deal with is people and must understand them and go with the grain.
  • Confidence. No leader can operate without a quiet confidence.
  • Humility. The result of having a proper sense of one’s own limitations.
    Its hallmarks are a readiness to listen and to be taught, a willingness to admit when one is wrong, and a reverence for others.
  • Courage. Demonstrated by doing what is right, because the leader believes it to be right and despite criticism.

 

Knowledge & Skills

The knowledge and skills required may be described as:

  • (1) situational skills and knowledge  i.e. those relating to the particular situation which in this case is sales
  • (2) generic leadership skills.

Situational Knowldege and Skills

Good Sales & Marketing knowledge & skills are the most obvious. General Management knowledge & skills enable better empathy and good communication with senior customer executives.

Project Management knowledge & skills enable better management of internal resources, better bid management and better planning. Technical knowledge & skills enable better understanding of products and how they can best be used to solve customer problems.

Skills will be supported by tools such as the sales model which enables:

  • Performance monitoring,
  • Performance appraisal,
  • Close performance gaps through coaching and training.

Leadership Knowledge and Skills

Leadership  knowledge & skills  include:

  • Defining Goals and Objectives
  • Planning
  • Communication
  • Motivation
  • Coaching
  • Evaluation
  • Execution

Purpose & Function

The Purpose of a sales leader is to deliver business growth.  This is achieved as with the following functions:

1 – Set Objectives

A key purpose of a leader is to set objectives that will grow, change and add value to the organisation.
Objectives should not be dictated as they are unlikely to inspire the kind of effort and creativity that produces good results.
Objectives that are negotiated give team members an important sense of goal ownership. And people are naturally more committed to the things they own.

In addition, with this interaction the leader can be sure that the team members have the capacity and the understanding to achieve the objective. Understanding team members will help align objectives and explain them in ways that are motivational.

To set effective objectives a leader must be able to initiate an idea, inform the team and plan to determine if the objectives are feasible.

What are the characteristics of effective objectives? Most experts agree that objectives must be:

  • Specific ( Greater as we go down levels. Sales persons objectives are often very specific)
  • Clear
  • Important (Recognised by team member as important)
  • Measurable
  • Achievable (But challenging)
  • Time-bound (To be achieved in a specific time)
  • Aligned (To company Strategy)
  • Rewarding (Supported by appropriate awards)
  • Ethical
  • Resourced

Objectives will be better received by the team if they are perceived to have intrinsic value, to matter,
and to make the world a better place. Ideally the objectives will be aligned to a company vision statement that envisions and communicates a better future.

2 – Engage

The leader may be required to hire the individuals and build the team. The leader is required to develop the individuals such that their performance improves.

Further, a leader must engage with his team and inspire them to want to deliver a great performance and achieve the assigned objectives.

In the best teams the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Good morale, team spirit and mutual confidence between the leader and team members is the extra strength that creates a greater whole and inspires a great performance.

To engage his team effectively a leader must be adept at presenting, informing & supporting.

Engagement begins with participative goal setting ideally within the context of a positive and clear company vision statement. This is maintained through motivation, coaching and success. Success is the greatest single factor of good morale. All successes must be communicated.

Motivation is achieved through the application of rewards both intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic rewards produce more intangible forms of recognition such as personal satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment, personal control over one’s work and feeling that one’s work is appreciated. Extrinsic rewards are external, tangible forms of recognition such as bonuses, pay rises, promotion and sales prizes.

  • Extrinsic – Financial Rewards
    • Bonuses, Commission & Salary Increase.
  • Extrinsic – Prestige Rewards
    • Increase stature of employees in eyes of colleagues and others
  • Intrinsic – Job Content Rewards
    • Autonomy (Goal Setting participation, Increased Responsibility, Opportunities to participate in Decision Making),
    • Mastery (Grow Professionally and do interesting and important work, Training, Coaching, New Challenge, Working with talented motivated people,
      Recognition),
    • Purpose (Working in a company with a clear Vision, Making a Difference),
    • Valued (Trust, Feedback, Coaching, Working in a positive respectful environment,
      Working for a Good Boss)

Coaching is used to improve individual performance and to remove performance gaps. Used positively it can maintain and grow engagement as it facilitates individual personal growth.

Within a sales team focus is normally on extrinsic rewards but intrinsic rewards are very important and enable better performance and creativity.

3 – Deliver

A leader is ultimately judged on what he and his team deliver. How they execute a plan.
To deliver a leader is required to:

  • Achieve the task.
    • In a sales environment this is normally business growth measured by revenue growth, margin growth, market share growth, customer satisfaction and sales cost.
  • Build and develop the team.
  • Develop the individual.

The leader uses the sales model to enable him to:

  • Monitor performance – Sales process, sales automation and sales management system.
  • Appraise performance – Appraisal system.
  • Close performance gaps – Coaching and training. Employee development.
  • Handle problem employees.
  • Remove barriers to performance.

Team members work best when given autonomy to deliver their goals and should know when to ask for help in removing barriers to performance. Identifying barriers to performance may be simple or may involve gathering data and problem analysis before a solution is reached. Barriers to performance often include the requisition of resources from other departments & from higher management to enable progress. They may include the resolution of a resource conflict or an interpersonal conflict.

As stated earlier the sales leader may be required to manage a virtual team in addition to his direct team to create and deliver a proposal to a prospect. Such a project may be complex and  project management tools are useful to manage the delivery of a winning proposal on time and to utilise the resources of the company efficiently.

Creating a High Performance Sales Team: – Leadership

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May 9, 2011 · by Ray · High Performance Sales Team, Leadership

Leadership,  when added to a scalable sales model and the hiring of high potential sales people will create a high performance sales team.

The following are the  key elements of leadership that through experience we have found it valuable to focus on.

  • Inspire Trust
  • Create Motivation
  • Remove Hurdles and Barriers to Performance
  • Foster Individual Growth.

Read more at Leadership.