Tag Archives: Organization

If you aim at nothing you will hit it everytime- Zig ZiglarThere is probably nothing that more graphically illustrates the importance of focusing on your goals than being in combat. Yet the same principles apply in any leadership setting. Having been in the US Navy for 19 years, I have had my fair share of military leadership and learned the discipline it takes to stay focused and help others around me do the same. In those years, I have excelled (mostly) and rose pretty fast through the ranks, despite some set backs in the early years, and have landed at the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer.

There are many factors to successfully leading in the military that also applies to leading your business, your sports team, even your family to success. But there is one lesson that is most commonly overlooked yet most critical to creating a road map to success- and that is to establish and disseminate your Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles. Before you jump into a series of tasks and tactics and find yourself wondering why you are somehow missing the mark, draw that mark!

1. Mission Statement:
Your mission statement should be clear and concise! This statement describes what your organization or department is about. Start by asking yourself these questions: “What are you aiming for?” “What is your overall objective that will guide the actions of your organization?” “What is it that you desire to achieve and how will you achieve it?” As you work on refining your answers, don’t confuse it with short-term strategies or specific goals. When writing a mission statement think broad scale- 10,000 ft view from here! Think about including these 3 key elements:
1. Key Market. Your WHO. Your target audience, primary stakeholders, or customers.
2. Contribution. Your WHAT. What product or service are you providing to those customers?
3. Distinction Your WHY or your USP. More commonly referred to as your Unique Selling Proposition, it answers the question “What makes you unique?” or “Why would a customer choose you over a competitor?”

One example of a good Mission Statement is:“To provide the fast food customer food prepared in the same high-quality manner world-wide that is tasty, reasonably-priced & delivered consistently in a low-key décor and friendly atmosphere.” I stole that one from McDonald’s! Your individual Mission Statement, whether you’re writing it for your overall organization, or just for a smaller department, may or may not include all the elements above. The Mission Statement for the US Navy Chief Petty Officer is: “Provide leadership to the Enlisted Force and advice to Navy leadership to create combat-ready Naval Forces.” You’ll notice no distinction statement, primarily because there’s nobody else that does what we do – no competition!

2. Vision:
Your vision should describe who, or what, you intend to be. Again, use as few words as possible, yet succinct, broad-term, but not too generic. Although the vision statement for the US Navy Chiefs is a little longer than some, it is concise enough and careful consideration was given to use necessary language to drive the point home to its leaders:
“A senior enlisted force that serves first and foremost as Deck-plate Leaders committed to developing Sailors and enforcing standards; remains responsive, aligned and well-connected to both Leadership and Sailors; and conducts itself in a consistently professional, ethical and traditional manner.”

3. Guiding Principles:
Although some organizations may use Values over Guiding Principles, the context is basically the same. There is a little more specific direction here for how you expect those in your organization to act. They are a set of shared beliefs that drive the priorities, behaviors, and perception, thus creating the organizational culture. I’ll share a good example from the Coca-Cola company that helps drive the point:

  • Leadership: The courage to shape a better future
  • Collaboration: Leverage collective genius
  • Integrity: Be real
  • Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me
  • Passion: Committed in heart and mind
  • Diversity: As inclusive as our brands
  • Quality: What we do, we do well

Your first challenge of being a BOSS is defining what your Mission, Vision, and Guiding Principles are. What are the things that have driven your success and what can you imitate from previous leaders that you have deemed successful? You can start there, but these should be extracted from deep within your soul – and they also have to align with the larger organizational statements. Whether you are a supervisor on a factory floor that makes widgets, a mid-level manager, or CEO, you need to develop these statements and values. If you can arrive to work on your first day with these statements already in place, you’ll be ahead of the power curve. If you’re already in a leadership position, it’s never too late to do a round-turn and get these on paper. Spend some time on them. And most importantly, you need to CLEARLY communicate these to your subordinates in order to provide consistent direction and expectations. It may not be a bad idea to share your MVS to the person you report to. Again, maintaining that alignment up and down the organizational chain is fundamental to your success. It will also show your BOSS that you have a true leadership prowess, and that’s NEVER a bad thing!

By: Brandon Keener is a Senior Chief Petty Officer at the United States Navy, a leadership position where he manages people, programs and policies. Brandon and his wife have also launched a couple of successful home based businesses based in San Diego, CA.

Owning a business or leading a team can be one of the most challenging things you can do, but it can be fun and rewarding if done right. I always say I’d take the worst day in my life as a business owner than the best day I had working for someone else, and I say this because for the most part (since I got to choose the industry I want to be in-sportswear), going to work has always felt like a lot of fun, instead of a tedious obligation.

It is easy to take for granted that my team members may not feel all the excitement and vision I have for the company. One of the biggest yet seldom addressed pitfalls of a small business is the psyche of the team members and how they feel about you, the company and the brand. I have learned over the years that pre-maintenance is a lot easier than damage control so in order to keep my office up and running on all cylinders there are 7 things I like to do:

1. Have a plan and write it – Sounds so simple but one of the biggest failures of small business owners is that you have dreams and ambition but it doesn’t make it on paper. This leads to constant changes, instability and employees losing trust that you’re the right person to lead them. Nobody wants to be lead by someone who changes their mind about the direction of the company on a whim (I’ve learned this the hard way). You may have a ton of brilliant ideas and in time you will get to them but remember you must first “plan your work and work your plan”.

2. Communication – Nobody will tell you that they like meetings but it’s vitally important that you have at least one scheduled each week to talk about where the company is at, what direction the company is headed and at least one personal victory story from the week before.  Personally, I like to start my meetings by casually talking about the weekend events and really try to get the team involved. When you are meeting with 12 and under this shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish; if the group is larger you may have to be a little creative. Next we go over each team members highs and lows of the previous week so we can learn from each other and finally we cap it off with this weeks expectations; it’s simple and to the point.

3. Food – Everyone loves food and there’s no quicker way to get a group moving and motivated than bringing in something delicious for them to eat before your meetings or during the week when you feel the momentum has shifted away from what you want. Every once in a while I’ll go out and buy each person the candy of their choice or just pick up a big bag of assorted candy and put it in a bowl… Be careful of candy coma (yes, this has happened to the office before). Also, never underestimate the power of freshly brewed coffee in the morning.

4. Games, games, and more games – I own a sportswear company so games come easy. We have office brackets for the NFL and NBA playoffs, March Madness and pretty much anything else that comes up. We also play in an inner office fantasy football league which creates some very fun and colorful talks each week. Participating in inner office games like these will bond your team members and create a sense of belonging and loyalty.

5. Have a plan for each employee – Everyone wants to achieve and succeed at what they do. Your job is to map out a career path for each person working for you and let them know about it. When an employee knows you have a plan for them, it is easier to get through the hard times when they come (which they will, they always do). The plan also motivates them to work harder to achieve the next step in their careers. As a small business you may not have a lot of opportunity at the moment but you can plan to grow and when you grow, the new positions that become available should be filled by current team members if at all possible. This will give the next guy who’s working his way up some hope for his future as well and boost company morale.

6. Plan trips – Each year I try to take a company vacation with the team. This may sound expensive and unnecessary and at times it is, but if you can budget it in, your team will love you for it and make your company a place everyone wants to work at. We usually make our annual business planning session an excuse to hit the slopes or spend a weekend at the beach. When budget does not permit, be creative! Paintball nights or something that everyone loves to do can go a long way.The benefits  far outweigh the costs and create memories that will stay with you forever.

7. Get to know them – In America employers have a phobia about actually getting to know the people who work for them.  I find this to be one of the dumbest things American businesses have adopted. Knowing about your team members’ family and kids, or other loved ones and actually asking about them (God forbid) is a great way to help them achieve their goals and let them know you care. For some reason we have been raised up to believe the boss has to be cracking the whip and glaring through their office window at their employees to be effective, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A great leader will know how to balance being personal and objective and when to be what.

Boosting Employee MoraleShow you care and your team will also care, that’s a win-win if I ever heard one. Morale is one of the most important factors of growth that a leader has to pay attention to in a small business. If your employees give up, your business will soon follow. I have had my share of letting it slip every now and then but it is always good to be reminded that it can turned around if we put the above tips into practice.

By: Todd Marinshaw. Todd owns and operates a sportswear business based in Orlando, FL and recently founded iPrevail, a non profit organization focused on relief and rehabilitation for victims of disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan.