For my Embracing SUCCESS series, today I have advice from Tom Northup, founder of Leadership Management Group and author of the new book, Five Hidden Mistakes CEOs Make: How To Unlock the Secrets That Drive Growth and Profitability (Solutions Press, 2008). He believes that to realize their visions of the future, successful leaders must strategically transform how their companies operate at all levels, from leadership ability and people productivity to planning processes and even the underlying culture. A former CEO of three successful businesses, Northup says, “Attitude is everything. Right now, your company gets the results—good or bad—that it was designed to get. If your vision of the future differs from your current situation, if you want to get better results, then you must change the way you do things. If you don’t, how can you expect results that are any different from what you’ve already achieved?”

This book is written for leaders but the tips can be applied to many areas of business, and even in your personal life. So even if you’re not in the higher echelons of a corporation, or seeking to pursue getting there, these tips can still help you achieve the SUCCESS you want.

Advice from the Corporate Trenches
By Tom Northup

You will achieve higher success when you look for ways to accomplish your goals rather than make excuses. Here are several of the highest pay-off areas he sees as necessary for CEOs to focus on:

Develop strategically with purpose. Grow profits and revenues year-to-year. Build an outstanding company that is proactive and able to identify, develop and realize opportunities – regularly year after year. Do this by implementing “strategic development.” For effective strategic development there needs to be both a clear definition of a desired future and effective operations. Break your operations down into people productivity and leadership culture. Realize that over time the sum of strategy, productivity and leadership will result in an outstanding company.

Focus on your core competencies first. Understand the key success factors that drive your marketplace and develop those into core competencies in your company. This requires developing a comprehensive strategy and then executing it. Pay attention to the details and document the processes you use well.

Get in control and stay in control. Is the company running you or are you in control? Do you have a strategy and operational initiatives that your management team fully supports? Do you hold your self and your team accountable to meet the milestones you have set for yourself? Evaluate operational performance using metrics that matter. Use systematic improvement to increase the performance of the things your people do to succeed.

Target opportunities intentionally instead of reacting to problems. What do you think about when driving home at the end of a long day; problems or opportunities? The difference between these two approaches is the difference between a weak organization not meeting its performance objectives and an outstanding organization that is a profitable, growing market leader.

Change the way things get done systematically. Do you and your managers make regular improvements or are you just getting by? All organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are now getting. If you want a different future, you must change the way you do things. The definition of a rut – a coffin with the ends knocked out.

Be the Leader. Be the role model. Personal leadership means that you are the role model for your company. Everything you do and say counts. Your employees observe you and your traits. Your personal leadership is a reflection of you and your expectations for you and your organization. To be an effective manager you must exhibit strong personal leadership. Make it your personal goal to build personal excellence and develop an environment in which leadership qualities flourish in all employees because of your leadership example.

Control your strategic planning. Manage your strategic planning intentionally and intelligently with your management team so that you harness and channel the combined experience, education and perspectives that you hired them for. Effective planning focuses the team to drive organizational performance, improves sales results and achieve competitive advantage in your marketplace.

Let go of the myth of individualism. Don’t think that you are the only one who can do it all. Build your organization so that the organization performs without essential personalities and individuals. Trust your people and their abilities and instincts and see no reason to change what worked for them. Understand that their success depends on relationships and alliances with others as much as it does on themselves. Don’t let the idea that everyone succeeds or fails based on individual effort and ability, lead your people astray. Make organizational success a higher value than individual achievement in your corporate culture.

Focus on doing the right things. Many managers make the mistake of being efficient, doing things right, but not by being effective, doing the right things. Effective leaders and managers focus themselves and their people on the right things by hold holding themselves accountable for the company’s performance and future. To be accountable requires a solid foundation, a clear strategic plan, meaningful specific performance metrics, and regular progress reviews.

Embrace change. Real change is self motivated. It’s not that we do not like change. What we do not like is to be changed. Make the acceptance of change part of your corporate culture. Involve your employees in discovering the need for change and involve them in the plans for change so they don’t become “change plan critics” and change-resistant employees. People who participate in setting the direction of change and in developing initiatives to achieve change become intellectually and emotionally committed. Involve people in the solution, and they you will overcome resistance to change. People will welcome it. Change will become part of the fabric of the company.

Thanks to Tom Northup, for sharing
these great tips. Check out his new book, Five Hidden Mistakes CEOs Make: How To Unlock the Secrets That Drive Growth and Profitability (Solutions Press, 2008).

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