The following assessment is meant to be a general guideline showing where leadership skills can be enhanced to best lead an Invisible Organization. No one will see the results but you, so be as forthright as possible to get the best results. This assessment is a work in process, so it will be changing over time, as I integrate more and more of the practical experience I gain from having several thousand executives take it.
When taking to staff and in general communication, do you tend to brainstorm and evaluate while working with your team or do you tend to crystalize your thoughts first, before stating your position?
Those leaders who like to actively brainstorm, discuss and then formulate positions throughout their communication process show they are flexible and can be open to new ideas even though they may have already taken a stand. Sometimes this can impede moving forward if the CEO has not solidified his stance on a position, leaving staff open to the idea that the boss may want to hear my next great idea and thus change direction. It’s sometimes best to create a period of time for exploration of a new idea and then close discussion around that topic and go to a decision making period, where a clear direction is announced to senior staff and work begins moving forward from that point on. If this exploration period is not terminated formally, this can be misinterpreted and appear as an unclear future or a direction that might change tomorrow. Invisible Leaders need to create clarity and decisiveness when a decision is made. This helps teams crystalize around an idea and take action.
This type of decision-making is what most management teams prefer, since they know exactly where they stand and know that going forward after a position has been stated or a decision made, means teams can engage and move forward. This is also works well when leading an Invisible Organization. This allows staff to pour all
into creating what the CEO wants. As the CEO, beware of become too fixed in your thinking and not hearing new ideas or strategies that could be very useful in achieving your goals. The key element of how this works is to prevent waffling among your team, which will happen if team members think a continuous dialogue is welcome or possible.
Are you Passionate about the mission of your company? While most people will answer “Yes” the best answer is to examine your past behavior and determine if you express that passion every day and is that part of the company culture?
YOU believe that your passion about the company mission comes through in everything you say and do, in your communications and is reflected by your team and staff. You understand that passion is the driving force that helps your entire company get through difficult problems and periods when confronted by obstacles that must be overcome. Your passion, your team and company passion are how your
roll. This is a BIG advantage in particular when leading an Invisible Organization since most staff members will mirror your own communication throughout their interactions with staff.
If this is you, then you are potentially missing out on one of the most powerful motivational tools ever created by great leaders. When all else fails, great leaders are able to rally the company around a single resonant idea of what must be done to succeed. When leaders are able to use their personal passion to motivate and create that passion in their management team, staff and customers, great things happen as a rule of thumb. In an Invisible Organization, it is more important to communicate clearly and regularly what your mission is. Since you are communicating more often and more articulately as the leader of an Invisible Organization not showing your passion can work against you. This is relatively easy to fix and results are quickly forthcoming.
Does your company have a clear mission, one that everyone can articulate AND do you express your passion around that mission regularly?
You can clearly communicate the mission of your company to others, you can clearly see that your team is motivated and knows exactly what is required to accomplish your goals. You spend time making sure that the mission of your company is clearly articulated to every management team member, every staff member, and all clients. They know what our passionate mission is all about and you make sure they do.
Congratulations, you have an invisible shield around your company that will deflect many problems, create a great work environment, and help new staff feel secure.
“No, I don’t have to go around spouting my mission statement, everyone already knows what that is and what we do. I don’t subscribe to the ra-ra management style that I see becoming popular these days.” If that’s you and you really feel that way then you have the opportunity to change the way people in your organization feel about the company. From an Invisible Organization perspective, this type of management style is not optimum because people don’t always know what the core goals are for their company. You could inspire that feeling of mission in everyone if you were to work more on articulating the company’s most powerful reason to exist, to everyone. While not at all difficult, it is uncomfortable sometimes for CEO’s to all-of-a-sudden appear to act differently, It’s important enough to change this aspect of your management style if you wan to go Invisible and really solidify your team and company.
Do those on your team know you mean what you say when you do? In other words, does your management team believe your word is as good as gold? If you say you are going to do something do you hold to that 100%
If you are a man of your word to the absolute level of total commitment then you are to be congratulated. Nothing holds more trust than your word and as a result, you lead with strong intention and people know you can’t be manipulated. Bankers know if you say you will deliver, then you will. Others build plans around your word
and trust you to do what you will say, always. Without a doubt, this is the most powerful position to come from when leading an Invisible Organization. Since your communication skills are well honed, you know how you appear in written word and videos, you absolutely are respected and others build their lives around what you say. When communicating with teams or leaders, they can take your word to
the bank and that translates to confidence and trust more than any other personal characteristic a CEO can have.
If you are human, you make mistakes like the rest of us. Sometimes it’s impossible to keep your word, particularly under dire circumstances, this is a natural way to see the world, but it’s not conducive to building trust and confidence in your leadership and teams. Your word must be your bond; it must resonate with the solidity of trust and honor you so rightfully want to project. The only problem in this unforgiving
world is the one time you don’t. That’s what is remembered, not the dozens or hundreds of times you did. And when that one time comes, you make a point of over-emphasizing the correction. That too will be remembered. From there, you
must stick to your word no matter what. In an Invisible Organization, the leadership is what sets the standard for the entire company, always. The CEO sets the tone for the management team and if you have a great team, then everyone is aboard and your confidence, trust and determination to succeed are translated into every action
of your entire company, down to the sales reps on the phone, who promise to get back to a client with the answer to a question. That’s what keeping your word as the CEO delivers to an entire Invisible Organization!
Building on the last question, this one is going to focus on telling yourself and others the truth. Harder than it seems, the type of honesty you need to run an Invisible
Organization is considered harsh sometimes because there’s less room for error. So in considering this, Are you completely honest in your word and deed, nearly 100%
of the time?
You are an example of a great leader when it comes to honesty. You know that without this characteristic, you have chaos instead. You also know that being honest alone is not enough. You demand honesty from your Executive Team as well as your staff. As the CEO, insisting on constant and total honesty means that you are ready for what may come your way, and you may not like it. As long as you don’t punish honesty you will continue to get. I know you realize that stupid or careless behavior is not dismissed with an honest admission from a subordinate, quite the opposite.
That type of behavior, depending on the severity and frequency, needs to be dealt with, of course. When confronted with the accusation of “look what happens when I am honest” is a manipulation as you well know, and not tolerated. In an Invisible Organization, communication needs to be frequent, crisp, relevant and on target.
Otherwise confusion is the result. I appreciate you being the forthright, honest CEO who does what it takes to run a clean ship. You are in an excellent position to proceed to the next step; designing your infrastructure and making your mission to go Invisible a priority.
Let’s face it, we sometimes can’t be honest if it means the results of such honesty result in a negative outcome. In a physical infrastructure-based environment, you probably are just fine. But in an Invisible Organization, anything but absolute honestly delivered with just the right amount of detail will only result in confusion and potentially an erosion of trust. When honesty is not absolute from the CEO, it won’t be from management or staff. Really, you have almost no choice if you want to operate your empire from a distance. In fact, even if you don’t, honesty in any organization will build trust over time. Lets say there’s someone who’s not pulling their weight. The other members of your team know it better than you do. If that’s
not addressed, it will appear to be condoned. Is this what you want? I don’t think so, but that’s for you to decide. I would bet you tolerate more than you would like to for concern about other’s feelings or their position in the company. Don’t ever be afraid of losing a questionable staff member, no matter how essential they appear to be.
The longer you wait, the more you are signaling the rest of the team that you tolerate that type of behavior. Tighten this up and watch what happens, you won’t be sorry.
In my book: The Invisible Organization, I posed two questions:
a) Can you effectively determine who in your organization deserves your unqualified and complete trust and who doesn’t?
b) Are you known to be trustworthy?
Please answer a YES to this question if both are true, answer no, if one or none of the two questions are true, meaning you would answered no to either or both questions.
Believe me when I say this, you are in an absolutely perfect place in your life no matter what your current condition is. Even if your business has plateaued, even if you are losing money every quarter, without being completely trustworthy, your situation would be far harder to deal with. It’s because of your trustworthiness that you have “currency” in this world and now it’s time to use it. Knowing how deserves your trust and who doesn’t is one of life’s greatest skills. With that alone you can rebuild your business and your life or soar to new heights with just a little bit of guidance and assistance. Now is the time to use your skills and cut infrastructure, solidify your internal systems, deploy new marketing and sales efforts only possible with an Invisible Organization and restart your growth again, this time based on a high trust, low overhead model that will bring you to profitability more quickly than before. Congratulations, you are about to soar.
If you answered no, then congratulations with being honest with yourself, only you would know this and it’s not easy to admit to yourself when you do finally realize the truth. Step one, you are there. You know this is an issue. Now you can fix it and the path to fixing it is not difficult but it does take time. Trust is built over time, one transaction, one relationship at a time. There’s never a better time to start than RIGHT NOW. As of today, decide that your word is your bond and allow nothing to get in the way with you keeping your word to yourself and to
your partners. If you want to work on this by trusting yourself, by keeping your own word, then here’s a simple exercise. Find something distasteful and make yourself do it, pick the most inconvenient time possible. For example, set your alarm for 3:45 am and get up, get dressed and go outside. Find something bulky and move it across your property, back and forth, 10 times. Now congratulate
yourself and go back to bed. You did something your logical mind told you not to do, that it was a waste of time and effort, yet you did it anyway. You are on the path to trusting yourself, great work, keep it up. Do it again and again until you have shown your comfortable thinking who really is in control. Now do what you need to do in your life to regain the quality of trustworthiness. Keep it up, the
benefits and rewards are realized in decades of wonderful relationships and your quality of life.
There are 3 parts to this question and it is designed to inspect your ability to create and execute a strategy. Answer YES if all are true answer no if even one is not entirely true.
a. Do you have a solid strategy?
b. Do your failed strategies get as much attention and review as your successful ones?
c. Do you spend with your team coaching them to help execute your strategy?
You have the makings of a great Invisible CEO, someone who can lead an organization not matter if you are wandering the shop floor or the telemarketing center, or leading from a hotel room in St. Tropez. Time spent crafting a strategy
that delivers your stated result, the has been completely thought through, tested in advance and then carefully disseminated to your team with the proper coaching to
insure they too completely get it, will become an incredible asset as your scale your company. I commend you because few CEO’s have this skill which you know comes from years of experience, analyzing your failures and your successes to understand exactly how you achieved the end result you want, no matter what it was. For you, the challenge will be to work with better tools for strategic planning, better and faster execution cycles and a more thorough tactical execution plan than ever before. I share some of the tools I use in my book, the Invisible Organization, to help you get there faster.
Welcome Entrepreneur, you are not alone. Strategic planning is a skill that must be developed over time and with the experience of having done it before. If you are not there yet, then building your strategic planning skills will pay huge
dividends down the road. As a great place to start, find a software tool you are comfortable with, get to know it well, then create strategic maps of your plans and runt hem by others to see what you left out or what’s not easily understood. Several tools like mind maps and “smart sheets” (in the resource center under “Group Collaboration Systems and Mind Map Software) are wonderful for brain storming and planning. Never stop honing this skill because the better you are at building strategic plans, the more successful you become. If you've been successful without spending the detailed time and effort to build your plans in advance, then you are quite lucky. Most of us don’t count on luck to make our plans come to life so be thankful you've sidestepped problems that might have stopped you in your tracks. Use your tools to insure your plans are executed by your team exactly to your specifications. You won’t be sorry and your
management team will be delighted to get more direction on why you need and want to happen.
As you know, knowing your staff can connote many different levels of “knowing” while this assessment is focused on knowing your staff’s nature, their capabilities, their emotional tone level and their work habits. More than that might be considered personal and of course that’s up to you to decide exactly how much you get to know about your staff. The purpose of this assessment question is to determine how well you know your direct management team and how well you've let them know you on a professional level.
If you can answer yes to both questions below, the respond with a yes (or true) but if you can’t answer yes to both, answer no (or false)
How well do you know your staff?
Does your staff know you?
You’re smart. You realize that getting to know your staff is an asset you have to work with. Knowing your staff means you can properly sort the work and assignments best suited for each of their skills and personalities. But here’s where your knowledge of your staff really pays off. In an Invisible Organization, you are judging people entirely based on the work product they produce. IT’s always the end result that justifies their compensation and continued membership into the exclusive group called your “executive team.” Part of how this happens is by understanding what drives your individual team members to perform the way they do. Once you understand WHY they do what they do, you can help with HOW they accomplish their goals. Part of deploying your best staff for the job at hand for you is easier because you know their life purpose and you are cognizant of how they see themselves as part of the entire team and organization. Well done, you are in a great position to rapidly scale your Invisible Organization and your odds of success are much higher than those who don’t know their staff as well as you do.
With just a little work, you are about to gain an advantage that few CEO’s really have: Truly understanding your team; their desire, their abilities and their need to feel part of something bigger than themselves is a strategic tool to enhance your teams performance. If this is something you would like to pursue then there is a systematic way to approach this, that will delight your team and enhance their ability to work together, as well as assist you in better understand them. It’s called knowing their WHY. While you’re at it, take the test and know your own WHY too. Basically it comes down to knowing what your team is fully capable of, what work they shy away from, what motivates them to succeed, and how to get them best positioned for the success you must achieve to meet your own goals. The reason you should take the test yourself is because you want your team to know the same information about you. When they do, they will align their own activities, efforts and decisions to better satisfy you, The CEO, the visionary who created your company’s success.
The next question requires a more considered answer than earlier questions because most people will answer yes, because in general they are good communicators. But essentially, we want to know if you have made a point of studying the subject of masterfully communicating to achieve the height of human understanding between people. This is the pinnacle of skills required for running
an Invisible Organization. Communications.
a) Are you an EXCELLENT Communicator?
b) Do you know how to make the other person feel truly heard?
c) Do you know how to make sure that your message will be received?
If you can’t answer YES to all three of these questions, then answer no. But if you can, then proceed with a yes.
If anyone should lead the charge building an Invisible Organization, it will be you. Masterful communications is the most important skill you can posses when endeavoring such a huge conversion of the way a company operates. This alone along with Honesty and Trust, become your cornerstone skills as you move forward with your plans. You are an exceptional individual and you know the difference between speaking a communicating. Few do, join me in helping others achieve this
level of expertise.
What I’ve learned about communications comes down to three pivotal elements. 1. Building enough of a relationship with the audience or person you are communicating with, 2. Having a common purpose, seeing things the same way they do knowing their needs and wants while making sure they know yours, and 3. Clear direct, and concise messages that you have acknowledged they have received.
These are the skills of the communicator, no matter written, spoken or otherwise,
without covering all three of these simple but powerful concepts there’s no true assurance that communication was received and may for some, never have taken place.
While every skill reviewed in this assessment is vital to the creation of an Invisible Organization, this is the number one skill that must be fully mastered before moving forward with your plans. Poor communications has sunk more ships than any other factor. It’s responsible for missed deadlines, poor execution and mediocre
performance across the board. It’s also the unknown factor to many failures or slipped performance quotas. Even if you never send a single person to work from home, this skill is so essential that mastering it may make the difference between a moderately successful individual and a consistently successful executive time and time again. Luckily, this is a skill that can be mastered with a little work and a lot of trial and error.
Consider this: What I’ve learned about communications comes down to three pivotal elements. 1. Building enough of a relationship with the audience or person you are communicating with, 2. Having a common purpose, seeing things the same way they do knowing their needs and wants while making sure they know yours, and 3. Clear direct, and concise messages that you have acknowledged they have received.
These are the skills of the communicator, no matter written, spoken or otherwise, without covering all three of these simple but powerful concepts there’s no true assurance that communication was received and may for some, never have taken place.
In my book, you will come across the Top 10 traits of great leaders, the skills required to run an Invisible Organization. The next question is covered in detail in the book but it’s a trait that comes from experience as an executive running and building successful companies. It’s called Executive Mettle. What does that mean? It means you have to balls to stand up to those in power. It means you know your numbers cold and that you are unquestionably the expert on every aspect of your company’s products and performance. It doesn’t mean you have to be the Chief Scientist or the Systems Architect, but it means you thoroughly know exactly what your company does, who their target client is, what your numbers are for any recent period and what your forecast is for the next foreseeable quarters. When you know know that cold, you have the confidence to respectfully stand up to any bank, board of directors, to any group in a public forum or anyone who has the nerve to challenge your authority. When you know you can successfully do that, you own executive mettle.
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