Are the Leadership Styles of 20-30 Years Ago Effective Today?

This question comes from a caller who asked us to settle an argument he was having with his father-in-law regarding changing leadership styles settled. Our first point is that arguing with your father-in-law is probably a no-win proposition!  Our second point is that leadership styles that worked 30 years ago simply aren’t effective in today’s dynamic business environment.  We suggest you focus on the following:

1.   Lead with the Three E’s: Top down leadership just isn’t effective in today’s work environment.  Fancy titles and big corner offices don’t motivate many younger team members; they’re seeking significance in addition to success.  Consider leading them with the 3E’s:

* Evaluate: Use objective evaluation assessments to discover the real strengths of your team.

* Empower: Don’t waste time telling team members how to accomplish a task.  Give them the desired objective or outcome and empower them to use their strengths to accomplish the task the best way that works for them (provided it’s ethical and legal, of course).

* Engage:  Allow team members to self-select for projects and initiatives that really speak to them and best utilize their strengths.  Consider allowing them to spend 10-15% of their time working on their own projects or supporting community projects they are passionate about.

2.   The-Times-They-are-a-Changin’: The command and control leadership style of past generations, with its rigid “carrot and stick” reward/punishment system is being replaced by a more inspiring and encouraging leadership style.  Today’s workforce is more socially conscious, socially aware and serious about making in impact that isn’t always measured in dollars.

3.   You Shouldn’t Be the Smartest Person in the Room: Many leaders of yesteryear were always concerned with being recognized as the “smartest person in the room.”  No longer!  Today’s leader understands the need to engage those that are bolder and brighter to create enduring success.  In fact, you should strive to never be the smartest person in the room!

To learn more about today’s most effective leadership styles, please listen to the replay of our November 2012 Virtual Jam Session

Are You an Entrepreneur or a Wantrepreneur?

As we travel around the country speaking at business conference & entrepreneur gatherings, we run into a lot of people who are in love with the idea of running their own business.  They relish the idea of freedom, making their own schedule and doing something that they truly love.  Unfortunately, many of these people are what we term “wantrepreneurs” – since they aren’t ready for all the long hours and hard work that goes into running your own business.

So which are you…entrepreneur or wantrepreneur?  Here are a few ways to find out:

Failure Won’t Derail Entrepreneurs: Most start-ups and small businesses will suffer failures and setbacks along the way…it’s just part of the learning process.  Wantrepreneurs allow themselves to be knocked off course (and stay there) by the first couple of obstacles they encounter.  Entrepreneurs don’t get paralyzed by failure (or the possibility of failure), learn from their mistakes, take course corrective action and keep moving forward.

Entrepreneurs Pursue Excellence, Not Perfection: Wantrepreneurs are fascinated with perfection and can’t seem to move forward until their website, brochure, or sales presentation is perfect.  Entrepreneurs understand that “done is better than perfect”, since they understand that “perfect” is a myth on the modern business battlefield.  By seeking excellence and continually improving your product or service, you will achieve enduring success.

Entrepreneurs Don’t Get Complacent: Assuming a Wantrepreneur survives the business start-up phase, they often allow their business to stagnate once they get comfortable.  Entrepreneurs follow the Boy Scout motto…”Be Prepared!”  They realize that today’s innovative product or service may be tomorrow’s old news, so they are ready for changing market conditions, new innovations and alternative applications for what they offer.

For more information on getting the most out of your “work climate survey”, be sure to listen to this Virtual Jam Session replay.

Once You Conduct a “Work Climate Survey”, Act on the Results

This takeaway comes from a business owner who submitted a question about declining company morale. We suggested he conduct an anonymous “work climate survey” to find out what’s really going on in the company. The owner did and got some surprising results back and now wants to know what to do with the information.

To listen to the full question and answer, click here: Virtual Jam Session replay.

  1. Beware High Performing, but Disrespectful Team Members: A strong, cohesive team is crucial for enduring success. Team members must be “coachable” and able to grow with an organization. Somebody who is a star performer, but happens to be a real jerk can quickly poison a team and cause huge problems. Don’t be afraid to part ways with top performers who lack the emotional intelligence to work effectively the rest of your team.
  2. Address Issues and Challenges in a Direct, Respectful Manner: Some leaders are more concerned with “being loved” than actually leading their organization. If challenges exist (and they do…even in the best organizations), deal with them directly and don’t beat around the bush. Tiptoeing around challenges can quickly frustrate the rest of the team and cause people to question your leadership ability. Make sure you are factual, avoid personal attacks, empathize, and solicit feedback on potential solutions.
  3. Leadership is Not the Same as Management: Leadership is all about inspiring your team to achieve extraordinary results. Leaders carry an organization’s vision, cheerlead during tough times, pitch in when needed, and recognize that the organization is far more than simply the sum of it’s parts. Smart leaders understand that they don’t have all the answers and are continually improving themselves through coaching and other professional development.

For more information on getting the most out of your “work climate survey”, be sure to listen to a past Virtual Jam Session replay.

January 2013 Top Take Aways #3

What Business Opportunities are on the Horizon in 2013 and Beyond?

This Take-Away comes from a listener in Springfield, MO who inquires about the growth businesses or industries she should be looking at in 2013.  One key thing to remember is lot of people are continually searching for the next “hot business”, instead of focusing on all the opportunities that are right in front of them with their current business.

That said, here are some trends to keep your eye on for 2013:

1. Crowdfunding & Peer-to-Peer Lending: There are lots of opportunities in the crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending space, although perhaps not in the way you may think.  These industries are growing rapidly and it can be confusing and overwhelming to sift through all the opportunities out there and pick one that might work best for a particular type of business.  In addition to all the opportunities for business in crowdfunding, we think there’s also a great business opportunity for someone to create an interactive crowdfunding/peer-to-peer guide that business could use to determine the best resource(s) for them to go after.  Such a site could be very popular!

2. Virtual Assistants for Local Businesses: In theory, virtual assistants are a great idea.  In practice, many virtual assistant businesses leave much to be desired, since they’re often only as good as the knowledge level of the assistant.  We think a better model is a multi-functional VA team than can effectively deliver across a broad range of services working in a local market.  There are tons of traditional businesses that could greatly benefit from VA services, but prefer to meet and shake hands with at least the team lead for the virtual company.  Set-up properly, such a VA company could service dozens of local companies, make a big impact and make lots of money!

3. Small Businesses Going Big: One of the biggest opportunities out there is for small businesses to “go big” and do business with major corporations and companies.  Many big companies have supplier diversity mandates that direct them to use local small businesses to provide a certain level of services.  Everything from health and wellness classes to the vending machine contract to professional training are areas where big companies are looking to hire small ones.  If your a woman, minority, or veteran-owned business, there are even more opportunities.  The key to success?  You’ve GOT to know what your doing…and that’s why we’ve arranged for Angelique Rewers – one of the country’s leading authorities on how small businesses can land big business clients – to join us on our next Virtual Jam Session on Friday, February 1, 2013 at 12 noon ET/9 am PT.  You can find out more about Angelique by visiting

For more information on “What business opportunities ate on the horizon for 2013 and beyond?” please make sure to go to the replay link.

January 2013 Top Take Aways #2

Should I Shut Down My Business and Try Something New?

This Take-Away comes from a listener in Tacoma WA, who’s been working in direct sales for 6 years, but is getting burned out and wants to sell her territory and getting into the real estate development business by sub-dividing 25 acres of land she just inherited.

Here are some key things to remember when you’re thinking about diving into something new:

1. Do Your Homework: The second main chapter in our VICTORY book is titled INTEL and that’s exactly what many people evaluating a new business opportunity fail to do effectively.  Before you dive headlong into a venture you don’t know much about, it’s critical to research pitfalls, problems, and opportunities before making the leap.  Talk to experts, engage professional advisors, hire a coach, and even consider working in the field for 12-18 months to gain real world knowledge before making the move.  Otherwise, it’s very easy to make costly mistakes and lose your shirt!

2. If You Sell, Be Realistic About the Value: If you’re looking to sell an existing business, be sure you are being realistic about the actual value of the business.  Most service businesses rely heavily on the skill set and expertise of 1-2 key drivers.  If they are no longer there, then the business may lose much of it’s value.  That’s why creating systems and processes are critical, especially in service businesses.

3. Can You Effectively Leverage Your Experience? Some business models are floundering due to a changing business environment, new technologies, and even new government regulations.  Instead of jumping into a completely new business that you may know little about, explore ways to use your accumulated experience and skill set to make “horizontal shift”, focusing your energies on a different business that maximizes your knowledge, skills and abilities.  For instance, since the listener has significant direct sales experience, they may be better off looking for another direct sales model with better business fundamentals instead of jumping ship to entirely new venture, such as commercial real estate development.

For more information on “It’s time to sell my business and try something new, how should I proceed?”. please make sure to go to the replay link.

January 2013 Top Take Aways #1

Preparing Business Success in 2013

This Take-Away comes from a listener in Boston, MA who asked what we [Broughton Advisory] are doing to make 2013 a great year.  It’s an excellent question and we strongly urge everyone to take a “strategic time out”, pull the camera way back for a nice wide angel shot and really look at your business.

Here are some key things to consider:

1. Set Clear, Measurable Goals – Write Them Down – Refer to Them When You Hit a Rough Patch: Studies show that only 3 percent of the population writes down their goals and that those that take the time to do so make nearly 10 times more than those who don’t bother setting goals.  The same is true with your business.  Make sure you create clear, measurable goals.  Visualize what successfully achieving those goals will do for you, your team, your business, and your family!  When you hit the inevitable business “rough patch”, pull out your goal sheet and review the goals.  Look for where you went off track and the best way for you to get back on track.

2. Have a No “BS” Discussion with Your Team: Make sure you – and your team – are on the same page.  Review the basic “blocking and tackling” drills your business needs to complete successfully day in and day out to succeed.  Check in to ensure people are engaged and inspired.  Remember, your team isn’t just your employees…it can include business partners, suppliers, vendors, family members and other stakeholders.  If everyone’s on the right seat on the bus, your business will run much smoother.

3. Get Organized: Cluttered desk and messy work areas created cluttered minds!  Make getting organized one of your New Year’s Resolutions Messy desk equals messy mind.  Clean up your e-mails, organize your contact lists, clean off your desk and organize your workspace for effective workflow.  Even a small amount of organization can make a big difference!

For more information on “What are you doing to prepare your business for 2013”, please be sure to go to the virtual jam session replay link.

December 2012 Top Take Aways #3

I’m About To Run Out Of Capital…Now What?

This question comes from Nick in Santa Fe, NM whose been in business for about 6 months, is rapidly running out of capital and is wondering what to do next.

1. Does the market actually want your business? A critical mistake we see many new entrepreneurs (and even some seasoned ones) make is assuming the market actually wants your product or service.  When we come up with a “cool” idea, we sometimes rush forward without doing adequate research on whether our great idea is something the market actually wants (and will therefore seek out and pay for) or is something we think the market “needs.”  If you have to educate a market to get them to buy your product or service, it’s going to take much longer to get traction and become profitable.  There’s a great saying out there…give customers/clients what they want and then teach them what they need after you make the sale!

2. Never be afraid to ask for help: Being under capitalized is a major problem for many start-ups and a leading cause of new business failure.  Most businesses significantly over-estimate how profitable they’ll be in the first 1-2 years and under-estimate how profitable they’ll be in 5 years, if they survive that long.  If your business is struggling, ask for help and look for sources of financing to help keep you going (provided you’ve done some additional research on whether or not your business is actually viable).  The 3 Fs (friends, family and fools) are where many businesses get extra working capital, but you can also explore crowd-funding, peer-to-peer lending companies, and working capital brokers (although they can be expensive).  You may have to go several places to get everything you need to keep going.

3. Stay flexible to stay in business: Frequently, the first iteration of a business idea is actually not that successful.  Many of today’s biggest companies, including Amazon and Google, started out with a vastly different business model than they have now.  If your company isn’t working out very well, sit down and analyze what’s working, what’s not working and what you need to change immediately to get headed in the right direction.  In our experience, a 10-15 degree shift from your original idea is often all that’s needed to get back and track and dramatically improve results.  Don’t stick to an idea that isn’t working too stubbornly!

For more information on “I’m About To Run Out Of Capital…Now What?”, please make sure to go to the replay link

December 2012 Top Take Away #2

Will Company “Culture” devour Company “Strategy”?

This question comes from Marie in San Diego, CA who asked if company “Culture” will devour “Strategy” for breakfast and lunch. In other words, which carries more weight, culture or strategy and how can businesses use this knowledge to navigate accordingly?

1. Culture is crucial: We firmly believe that culture trumps strategy almost every time.  As a leader, you must understand what type of company you are leading, what the strengths (and weaknesses) of your team are and then leverage that knowledge to create extraordinary results and sustainable success.  For instance, the culture of Google and Zappos are very different from that of GE or IBM.  Trying to implement a typical GE strategy at Zappos would end in disaster, to say the least!

2. What does your company culture look like? Your company’s culture is a direct reflection of your values, the team you’ve assembled, and who you want to be in your marketplace.  Spending time talking about, modeling and teaching your company’s culture to every team member is very important.  Your leadership style should also be a direct reflection of your authentic self and support the culture you want to develop.

3. Vision must be shared: One of our favorite quotes is from the Bible, Proverbs 29:18 – Without Vision, the people will perish.  This is true for your company as well.  As a leader, you must develop a crystal clear vision of where you want to take your organization.  Just as important, you must share that vision with your entire team at every opportunity.  Having clarity around your vision for the organization and then spreading that vision far and wide will attract the right team members, clients/customers and vendors.  When we see an organization veer off course, it’s frequently because the organization’s leadership has muddied the vision and/or stopped effectively communicating the vision to their team.

For more information on “Will Company “Culture” devour Company “Strategy”, please make sure to go to the replay link

December 2012 Top Take Away #1

Help! I Need Legal and Accounting Advice, But Can’t Afford It…

This question comes from Kate in Tuscaloosa, AL who needs legal and accounting advice for her start-up LLC, but has a really tight budget and wonders if seeking out an Advisory Board member with legal/accounting experience and asking them to provide these services for free is OK.

1. Remember this important rule…if you cant afford basic legal and accounting services for your business, you probably can’t afford to be in business: Every start-up should seek – and pay for – fundamental legal and accounting services.  These are basic business functions that are crucial for building a strong foundation.  Skimp on them at your own peril!

2. Don’t expect Advisory Board members to provide free professional services: We are big fans of Advisory Boards and serve on a number of boards in both paid and unpaid capacities.  It’s very important to establish clear expectations in writing on what type of engagement you’re expecting from your Advisory Board members (time commitment, how many meetings, what specific area(s) you need help in, etc).  Remember, the Advisory Board is there for strategic advice – not to act as employees – so while an Advisory Board member might provide strategic legal and/or accounting advice, expecting them to fill out forms or provide other professional services pro bono is probably not reasonable.

3. Make critical professional services part of your budget: Legal and accounting advice isn’t free and usually isn’t cheap…but it’s also not as expensive as many beginning entrepreneurs believe.  Often, it only takes 2-3 hours of an attorney or accountant’s time to help you get things set-up properly on the front end, which is ~ $1,000 – $1,500 total.  This is money well spent to ensure you get things set up right from the start.

For more information on “Help! I Need Legal and Accounting Advice, But Can’t Afford It…”, please make sure to go to the replay link

Take Aways #3: Help! – I Need a Board of Advisors!

One of the most frequent discussions we have with start-up and early stage companies is the need for a Board of Advisors.  To their credit, many entrepreneurs and business owners realize the importance of having an Advisory Board…they just aren’t sure how to put one together.  In this Take-Away, we’ll dive deep on some key points to consider, including:

1. Be Prepared and “Know Your Ask” When Approaching Someone: We get approached all the time to serve on advisory boards.  Unfortunately, we find many entrepreneurs haven’t actually thought through their “Ask” – as in what specifically do then need help on and why are we a good fit for that.  You need to be very clear on this…if not, then potential advisory board members may say no.  Here are some questions we often ask to help you narrow down your ask:

  • •    What skill set(s) do we have that you’re seeking?
  • •    Where specifically can we help?
  • •    Who else has committed to serve on your board?
  • •    What is the frequency of meetings & overall time commitment?
  • •    Are you compensating your advisory board members and what does that look like?

2. Solve for Your Weak Spot(s): Don’t engage Advisory Board members in areas where you are already skilled and knowledgeable, engage them for support in areas of weakness.  Pull together an Advisory Board that adds needed strength across the spectrum of business knowledge.

3.  You May Need to Give a Little to Get a Lot: To attract top advisors, you may need to offer some form of compensation.  If you’re in start-up or early stage growth, this will most likely be some type of equity compensation.  Compensation levels vary from situation to situation, but 0.5% to 2.0% per advisor is a reasonable range.  But wait, you might say, if I have 10 advisors, that means I may have to give up 20% of my company…I can’t afford to do that!  Don’t be short-sighted, since 80% of something is a whole lot better than 100% of nothing!  A good Advisory Board can greatly shorten your learning curve, help you avoid huge mistakes, open up their Rolodex to connect you with the right funding sources, suppliers and other partners, and so much more.  That value will pay for itself many times over and far outweigh the 1-2% equity investment per advisor.

To learn more about putting together an effective Board of Advisors, please listen to the replay of the November 2012 Virtual Jam Session