Growth & Leadership Insights

Leveraging Lessons Learned

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

I was once presented with a business turnaround opportunity. The company was in trouble, the President was fired, and the Board asked me take the lead in reigniting the business. They gave me 6 months to change the trend or they would shut it down. 

Having never led a turnaround, my confidence was shaken and I was filled with anxiety, doubt and fear of the future. These uncertain times remind me of what I felt back then. 

My leadership style has always tended to focus more on the future than on the near term. But at that moment, I was facing a triage situation, with the sustainability of the business, and the welfare of my and other families, at stake. Living with the perpetual stress, and weight of my decisions, during that time taught me much. Some of these lessons might be helpful now. 

While my first inclination was to start cutting costs, it occurred to me that the consequences of acting too swiftly and broadly on this impulse, versus being more surgical about it, could hurt the business more than help save it. We needed an endpoint, a vision, some sense of control over our future that would provide direction for the actions we needed to take. 

So my first priority became strengthening […]

By |April 22nd, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Essential Discussions

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

The world of work will continue to evolve in the months ahead. As you evaluate how best to shift your business from protection mode back to proactive mode, there will be an abundance of opinion within the organization about the most effective way forward. 

Dialogue, often emotional, about the pros and cons of alternatives, and their projected impact on results, will increase. Many of these discussions will be critical, risky, political deliberations that result in decisions with far-reaching implications for the sustainability of your business. 

It’s a time when the actions taken from these decisions will disproportionally affect your company and your relationships. 

It’s a time when policies, procedures and values will be challenged as you consider how your business model may have changed, affecting the way you make a difference and create strategic value. 

It’s a time when your ability to manage your team’s emerging differences, and arrive at a shared commitment, will be tested. 

As these essential discussions develop, appreciate their potential to bond your team, strengthening their ability to think strategically, to collaborate cross-functionally and to drive change. 

Resist the impulse to prematurely exert your influence or argue your view on pending decisions. Instead, seek to extend dialogue by asking questions, soliciting opinions and […]

By |April 15th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Leading with Attitude

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

A leader’s attitude is always on display; but during a crisis, people pay closer attention. 

While no one can control the virus attacking us, every employee is watching to discover how their leader is reacting to the challenge. Effective leaders focus on what they can control, and that includes their attitude. It’s a choice they make every day. Acting with a positive mindset provides a model for their personnel, a direction to follow. 

Life does not arbitrarily impose itself on us. Rather, we choose which of life’s many offerings to accept. We can’t change how things are, but we can change how we will approach today. Rather than being negative or disoriented by our current challenge, leaders look for opportunities to energize and inspire their teams. They know that a positive attitude is more contagious than the virus. 

Leaders appreciate that their attitude reflects their expectations, and it’s those expectations that generate energy for their people. They recognize that their thoughts, words, actions and results are influenced by their attitude. 

These leaders are mindful that their thoughts become their words…that their words become their actions…that their actions reveal their character…and that their character validates their effectiveness as a leader. 

What attitude will you express today?

How can you leverage a positive attitude to […]

Expectations

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

The way we do business will be different going forward. With most of us now connecting virtually, what should we expect once the proximity restrictions are removed? What are our expectations about rejoining our organization’s physical community? 

In the 1980’s, author John Naisbitt (“Megatrends”) introduced the concept of “High Tech – High Touch.” Its premise is that the more dependent we become on technology, the greater will be our need to gather, to experience human touch. Feeling insecure and vulnerable amplifies this yearning. 

Technology enables connection, versatility and productivity, but it can’t replace the very human need to belong, to feel and to be loved. Nor can technology be a substitute for personal discipline, commitment and responsibility. Enduring relationships and the cultivation of culture are built on trust, and trust requires intimacy and authenticity. 

As our reliance on technology continues to grow, so will employees’ longing for a stronger emotional connection to their company, its culture and its leaders. People want to feel that they are part of a successful and important team. They want to make a difference, engaging customers and fellow employees on a higher, more meaningful human level. Only if they feel appreciated and respected will […]

By |April 1st, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

The Antidote to Uncertainty

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Today’s tech driven world tends to increase our sense of predictability. We expect the instant gratification of enjoying our personal Starbuck’s coffee locally, or anywhere in the world. We expect Amazon to deliver our purchase the next day. We expect our daily routine to continue as usual. 

But when a crisis arises, uncertainty becomes the rule, undermining the predictable outcome and resetting our appreciation of what is valuable. 

Some businesses live with uncertainty every day. If you’re in construction, about 90% of your revenue is determined by Mother Nature. You learn to react promptly to changing circumstances so your business isn’t totally paralyzed by the uncertainty of nature. You learn not to count on predictability – who really knows what the weather will be two weeks from now? 

As history shows, true leadership involves appearing during a time of great uncertainty and just getting on with it. The fear of uncertainty is acknowledged but the messaging stays realistically positive. You focus on what’s known: the present and the reality that there’s work to do now, your resilience and resourcefulness in prior crises, the conviction and commitment of your people to the purpose of your business. 

Recalling your purpose during uncertain times increases clarity and calm, reduces […]

By |March 24th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Regaining Control

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Much has changed in just the past ten days. And we’re reminded, as we were after 9-11, that despite all our efforts to exercise control over our lives, unplanned circumstances can quickly disrupt our routine and sense of control. 

We’re in for a rough ride for a short while ahead, but we will adapt, as we always have, and find a way forward. This chaos will end, but another shock awaits in the future, so use this time to prepare for it. 

The challenge is to wisely invest our valuable time and energy on more than a short-term adaptation. When things turn uncertain, it’s the best time to proactively explore sustainable improvements that strengthen your business, and provide a means to regain some measure of control. 

Carve out time with your team to assess how your operations are being impacted and consider what could be done differently, done better. Evaluate processes and initiate projects to improve them. 

Think about your served markets and stay close to your customers. How are they being impacted? How can you relieve your customers’ stress? What innovation might become apparent that could mitigate the negative consequences they may be experiencing? 

While continuing to react to the evolving business circumstances, regain control by investing time to […]

By |March 19th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Less Data…More Story

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Leaders and change are inseparable. Whether reacting to a threatening external challenge or proactively disrupting the status quo to improve performance, leaders realize that people do not readily embrace change; initially, there will be uncertainty, disruption, fear and discomfort among those you lead when change is on the table. 

But leaders also recognize these emotions as necessary ingredients in a change initiative. When paired with a clear, thorough understanding of projected benefits, they can be leveraged to focus energy, to encourage perseverance, and to achieve the commitment and shared ownership required for change to be successfully implemented. 

Cultivating an appreciation of benefits within your team to motivate change is best accomplished by using a story. If all you share is data when introducing the initiative, it will just sound like noise; there’s no emotion in it. People have a very limited capacity to absorb data without a supporting narrative. But once you wrap your ideas, features, benefits and effort into a story, it generates empathy and becomes information that enables action. 

The most effective stories describe triumphs over trouble, departures from the past, doing what has never been done, or going where no one has ever been. Every story is about challenge and change. 

Using stories to convert data into […]

By |March 11th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Doing

Bob SchultekAuthor of The Gauntlet

Leadership is often the difference between success and failure. 

The most productive leaders appreciate that their prime directive is to improve results, requiring that they nurture a team culture which challenges the status quo, and shares the commitment and accountability for embracing change. 

Recognizing their responsibility to develop those they lead, and knowing from experience that the most beneficial learning is accomplished by doing, these leaders promote change initiatives as learning experiences that open opportunities. 

They counsel that natural talents can only take a person so far, and encourage the expansion of knowledge and the strengthening of skills through these initiatives, clarifying that increasing knowledge requires study, while enhancing skills involves practice. 

They carve out time for teams to hone skills like observation, experimentation and resolving differences while pursuing innovation and improvement, and sustaining focus on their company’s purpose and goals. 

The results are: productive change that makes a difference for customers, teammates and the organization; team members who are more self-reliant and whose contributions are more visible; and, a culture that delivers results and values its people. 

How engaged are you in “doing” with your team?

What improvement opportunities exist for you and your team to pursue?

By |March 5th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

Accelerating Team Commitment

Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

To build a culture of shared accountability, a team must be capable of constructively debating conflicting perspectives about an issue that requires action. There can be no team commitment to a decision without resolving these differences. Mastering this conflict management process is a vital leadership skill. 

Productive conflict dialogue identifies gaps in team members’ positions on the target topic based on their individual experiences and expectations. The skillful use of questions and related discussion are used to explore the reasons for these gaps, and to determine points of agreement.  

The objective is to resolve the gaps and gain a deeper understanding of the issue at hand so that a team commitment can be secured which enables the necessary action. The challenge for a leader facilitating this dialogue is to refrain from prematurely inserting his or her perspective into the conversation to expedite a resolution. Achieving the objective, while strengthening the team’s bond, requires that the team have an opportunity to exchange views and resolve differences without the leader’s proactive influence.  

Guiding a conflict resolution discussion that will lead the team to reach a mutual understanding is like weaving a thread to connect ideas. Asking open-ended questions to discover the motivations behind the […]

By |February 26th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments

The Work of Leaders

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Creating value is the work of leaders. 

It’s a perpetual challenge, involving the preservation of key customer relationships, the constant quest for innovations, and the relentless pursuit of quality, productivity and sustainability, all simultaneously occurring in accordance with the company’s culture. 

Preserving proactive, strategic customer relationships yields insights about evolving aspirations, goals and needs, which enable adaptations to ensure that these valuable relationships endure. 

Observing and assessing trends from industry or market engagements encourages the curiosity and anticipation that inspires innovation. 

Aligning operating functions to improve cross-functional performance and produce strategic value for customers while maintaining equilibrium between those tasked with challenging the status quo and pursuing innovation, and those responsible for quality, efficiency and risk aversion. 

Leaders are expected to create value by securing commitment and cultivating shared accountability that improves results. Leveraging their credibility, influence and ability to inspire, they mobilize their people to challenge what is possible, transform goals into actions, model core principles and strengthen culture so that value is created for customers and for the business. 

What can you do differently to strengthen your value creation?

How does your team share accountability for your company’s overall performance?

By |February 19th, 2020|Grolistic, Growth & Leadership Insights|0 Comments