Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Karyn Schoenbart, who is the CEO of The NPD Group, a global provider of information and advisory services. Karyn is also the author of MOM.B.A. Essential Business Advice from One Generation to the Next. For more information: www.KarynSchoenbart.com.
SmallBizLady: COMMUNICATING VISION & MOTIVATING EMPLOYEES IS ESSENTIAL, BUT IT STARTS WITH “WALKING THE WALK.” WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THIS?
Karyn Schoenbart: As a leader, it is important to set the right example and do yourself what you are asking your team to do. For example:
- make a commitment to seeing 50 executives at a client company over a 3-mont period
- travel to meet with and talk with your customers, and
- take pictures with them and post them on the company intrantet to reinforce the importance of this
SmallBizLady: YOU ALSO NEED TO HAVE YOUR LEADERSHIP TEAM ALIGNED IN ORDER TO MOVE FORWARD. HOW DO YOU MAKE THIS HAPPEN?
Karyn Schoenbart: Alignment does not necessarily mean agreement.
It is important to have candid discussions and debate differing points of view. Ensure everyone feels heard. After sufficient discussion, you will need to make decisions and move forward. While striving for consensus, not everyone will always be in agreement. If they felt adequately heard and if there is mutual respect, then they know it is up to them as leaders to be aligned so that we can move forward.
SmallBizLady: A DIFFICULT THING AS A LEADER IS TO LET SOMEONE MAKE A DECISION THAT YOU DISAGREED WITH. WHY DIDN’T YOU INTERVENE?
Karyn Schoenbart: You have to intervene if it is a “bet the company” or life and death situation.
If not, then the risk is worth it to let people feel empowered to make their own decisions. If you disagree, you will need to let them know and why, but also tell them that the decision is theirs to make. If it turns out to be a wrong one, they will learn a lot from it.
And, if I was wrong, then I’ll learn from it too ;-).
SmallBizLady: WHEN DO SUCCESSFUL COMPANIES NEED TO SHAKE THINGS UP TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE?
Karyn Schoenbart: One of the best times to shake things up is when things are going well.
Companies need to be constantly on the lookout for disruptors in their industries and take action when they are in a position of strength. Also, create a consistent approach and history of innovation that will keep your company relevant for years to come.
SmallBizLady: WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO WANT TO MOVE INTO MANAGEMENT OR LEADERSHIP POSITIONS?
Karyn Schoenbart: Moving from a successful salesperson to a manager can be very difficult.
You will need to understand that your success is no longer based on how you perform, but how your team performs. This requires a completely different orientation and mindset. It will be all about them and not just about you.
After making the transition, it can be extremely gratifying to increase the value to your company from just you, to a whole team.
SmallBizLady: PART OF BEING A LEADER IS MAKING COMPLEX DECISIONS. WHAT IS YOUR DECISION-MAKING PROCESS?
Karyn Schoenbart: Outline all of the possible options, including “do nothing”, if that is a viable one. Then gather any relevant information, outline the pros and cons of each, solicit input from others you respect and then make the call.
Leaders have to make decisions or they will be ineffective. I loved this quote from one of my clients, he said, “make a decision and then make it work.”
SmallBizLady: HOW DO YOU MEASURE FINANCIAL OBJECTIVES AND WHAT ARE SOME BIG PICTURE QUESTIONS YOU ASK TO MEASURE SUCCESS?
Karyn Schoenbart: I’m a fan of quantitative objectives to measure success; however, there are softer measures that are also important. To me, the ultimate success is that at your company is healthy and growing, your employees share your vision, are engaged in pursuit of that vision and feel ownership for achieving it.
SmallBizLady: IN DISCUSSING THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BEING A LEADER AND BEING A MANGER, WHAT ARE THE FIVE AREAS YOU FOCUS ON?
Karyn Schoenbart: Here are the five (5) areas you can focus on:
- Developing People
SmallBizLady: HOW DO LEADERS VERSUS MANAGERS DEAL WITH THESE VARIOUS ASPECTS OF BUSINESS?
Karyn Schoenbart: Leaders inspire, they set the vision and the big picture objectives. They communicate regularly and clearly so that people understand what the goals are and how they fit in. Most people want to make a contribution.
It is best to keep the objective short and simple, so that everyone can be on the same page.
For example, my three for this year are “Growth, Quality and Culture”.
When the team is clear on where you are headed & how to get there, they are more likely to be engaged and onboard.
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.
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