Dan McMahon of Integrated Growth Advisors On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Uncertain & Turbulent Times
Maintain authenticity — Leadership is not about you, the leader. It’s all about the team members who choose to follow a leader who inspires and motivates to get the most from his team under the most trying circumstances. Being your authentic self builds trust and positions you as the leader to meet or exceed mission critical objectives when they matter most.
As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dan McMahon.
Dan McMahon is the Founder and Managing Partner of Integrated Growth Advisors, a business growth advisory firm focused on empowering business leaders to systematically enhance their businesses in terms of revenues, profitability, sustainability, and value.
Dan’s career has consisted of over 25 years as a nationally focused CPA and business advisor serving manufacturing & distribution, real estate & construction, and professional services firms.
Prior to founding Integrated Growth Advisors, Dan served as an Audit Partner and the Partner-in-Charge of Sales and Marketing for a $30 million revenue regional public accounting firm based in New England where he also specialized in governance and controls. Dan is a certified public accountant.
Dan currently works to address the issues that confront privately-held businesses from the perspective of corporate governance, sustainability, generational transferability, and building increased equity valuation. Dan also provides mergers and acquisitions advisory services to business owners and serves as an advisor to emerging leaders in professional services industry. Dan has created a model that enables private companies to effectuate a customized approach to corporate governance. He also has created a model to be used for the development of emerging leaders.
Dan has served in a variety of volunteer capacities including as a member of the Accounting Principles Committee for the Illinois CPA Society, the workplace coordinator for the Greater Hartford Arts Council United Arts Campaign, a member of the Marlborough, Connecticut Board of Finance, a charter member of the Board of Directors for the Exit Planning Exchange, Connecticut Chapter, and as a Board member for the Connecticut-based Community Investment Corporation. Dan currently resides in Bluffton, South Carolina where he is actively involved as a member of the Bluffton Rotary Club.
Dan is a graduate of DePaul University’s College of Commerce where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in accounting.
Dan can be reached by phone at 877.442.4769, EXT 701 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I received a great deal of continuing professional education (CPE) commensurate with the progression of my career as a CPA within the accounting profession. Much of my CPE focused on developing the soft skills needed to become a better project manager, leader, and business minded professional. While I was a competent accountant and CPA, these were the types of learning opportunities I appreciated most and I consequently exceled wherever my business acumen was relied upon.
I also worked for many smart and talented leaders in the CPA profession throughout my years working between Chicago and New England. I was always an ardent observer of the good, the not so good, and the ugly traits of those who led the firms I worked for and clients I served. I was one to receive orders and conscientiously follow through, but I also studied those who led my organizations. I would build hypotheses of how I felt a leadership strategy or tactic would play out and I would pay close attention through resolution and application of strategies and tactics. I learned from observation and application of those strategies and tactics I felt were best for any given scenario.
I founded Integrated Growth Advisors in 2011 with the mission to share my observations of countless leaders as well as my own lessons learned over the course of my career. My goal was to create an advisory firm that would advise business owners on their path to building a stronger, more profitable, and more valuable privately-held business for themselves and their families. The overarching aspects of building a stronger company resided in strong leadership and upholding a strong governance structure. So, I went to work in advising upon and building out these areas for my clients. This is how I got started, and this is what I do.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I can’t think offhand of a funny experience in my early on experience as a leader. At least not one that would rise to the level of grabbing your attention in a way the question seems to be structured.
Each time I do a leadership team facilitation I will open up with an ice breaker and, from time to time, a good trust building ice breaker is to share your most embarrassing moment. I will share my most embarrassing moment first to set the tone and establish a sense of vulnerability. Mine is such a doozy that I am reluctant to even share mine publicly right here, right now! Let’s just say it involved sports…and inadvertently scoring points for my opposing team…
The leadership lesson from this question is to not ever take yourself too seriously. You are not a dictator as a leader in today’s world. You are only just beginning the hard work once taking on a leadership role, so take your feet off of your desk. You are a man or woman who is called to lead people to the promised land. People will follow you if you are not too caught up in your own self-interest. It’s all about them. Set the table early on and make your team believe that it’s all about them and not about you. Showing the courage to share a self-deprecating story might just be one piece of the puzzle that will put you on the road to success.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There are many role models and leaders who I can attribute my knowledge and success to. Perhaps the one who stands out the most is a senior partner of a firm I worked with in Chicago. I had worked with him early on in his career, then he went to another firm where he worked until his mandatory retirement at age 58. His name was David and he and I kept in touch while we went our separate ways early on.
David rejoined me later in his career where we worked together — and produced a ton together — for the remainder of his career. This example, in and of itself, is a lesson I learned about leading by example. David was a significant producer of new business and he managed a significant book of business for the Big 4 accounting firm he retired from. David could have gone anywhere upon his retirement and rested on his laurels. He chose the path less traveled and realigned with me, 25 years his junior and someone who had been one of his supporting teammates. He knew — and taught me — that you are only as good as the people around you and supporting you. David knew he could not build the foundation of an accounting practice that would carry him to his final retirement without trusted, strong performers around him, so he chose to work with me and my firm instead of joining a larger firm with perhaps a larger paycheck.
David was a man who led by example and was firmly planted in the belief that he should never require of someone else a task that he is not willing to take on himself. I recall learning about this trait of David’s early on in my career on a late evening during a stressful tax season when we were auditing a major company in downtown Chicago.
It was probably 1:00 a.m., we were burning the midnight oil for sure, under a tight deadline. David turned to the most junior staff person and handed a stack of papers that needed to be photocopied for our audit files. He respectfully asked this person to please make a copy and bring it back to him.
He boldly responded “my parents didn’t send me to a top 10 accounting college so that I can make photocopies at one in the morning.”
David kindly reached for the stack of papers, got up from his desk and copied them himself. Sure, the younger staff person didn’t feel so great and eventually never survived at our firm, but by taking action in this way David demonstrated to every member of our team that no task is below him and accordingly, no task was to be perceived as being below anyone else. David always got the most out of his teams and he made sure he found ways to reward them accordingly.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your organization started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
A purpose-driven business does provide for the best chance at being the most successful. When we work with our clients, we ensure they understand first what their sustained purpose is and we then build everything from that anchoring point. A company’s culture and values must align with the purpose and so must the goals and objectives.
Imagine the far-fetched example of a company made up of petty thieves. If they were all on board and ascribed to a culture that values integrity, how far would they go as an organization? Could you see the team sticking together on each of their heists?
Now for a moment of added levity. Integrated Growth Advisors is grateful to have recently celebrated our 11th year in business. After spending the better part of our first decade in start-up mode, and we are looking forward to the next decade or two, as a more mature, an efficient growing enterprise ! We share a common purpose to provide the support and service to our clients by being willing and able to roll up our sleeves when our clients require that of us. We also jump in the foxhole with our clients we share in their struggles in an effort to overcome and help point them to the success they deserve and desire. That is our vision of being “integrated” growth advisors. Anyone who wishes to come on board without sharing the value of being an “in the trenches-minded” advisor will probably not last long in our organization…as long as we stick to our purpose.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
Our world of management consulting requires us, in any given client engagement, to constantly build a hypothesis about the future outcome of a series of events that might take place, then constantly test and revise the hypothesis based on what is learned through ongoing observation. From this perspective, most of what we do relates to some level of uncertainty.
The most treacherous time in recent history was the timeframe leading up to and through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Our client engagements became more focused during this time and communications with my team became more frequent. And, every hypothesis we developed was crushed by the rapidly changing worldwide events. Under such circumstances the only thing you can do is stick with it and plow ahead. Sometimes that’s taking 3 steps back and 2 steps forward, but as Rodney Atkins sings in his popular country music song,
“If you’re goin’ through hell keep on going
Don’t slow down if you’re scared don’t show it
You might get out before the devil even knows you’re there”
These are words to live by when functioning in any type of competitive environment.
I never considered giving up. I drew my motivation to continue through the challenges we faced and because people needed me and our firm. Our mission and purpose to empower business owners and leaders to systematically enhance their businesses in terms of revenues, profitability, sustainability, and value is solely what kept me focused. After all, if we cannot rise to the challenge to support our clients and collaborate on developing solutions to problems they face, there is an inherent risk that either our clients will fail or a competitor of ours will fill that void. These two motivating factors are enough to keep me in the game.
I’m an author and I believe that books have the power to change lives. Do you have a book in your life that impacted you and inspired you to be an effective leader? Can you share a story?
Perhaps the most impactful leadership book I ever read was Leading with the Heart: Coach K’s Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life by Mike Krzyzewski, recently retired head basketball coach of the Duke University Blue Devils. This book was written in 2000 and the principles of leadership addressed still stand true today over 20 years later.
I had just come off of a career setback where I missed out on a promotion to a leadership role in the organization I worked for. I had worked hard over the prior twelve months. I felt as though I had produced in a way that I was deserving of the promotion. I wasn’t getting clear answers as to why I had been overlooked and it seemed I wasn’t going to have anywhere to turn for answers.
I, too, believe that books have the power to change lives. I turned to a number of books and internet based resources for answers. I especially became fixated on the lessons shared in Leading with the Heart and scrubbed the entire book for answers as to where I went wrong in my quest to achieve the leadership role.
The lesson that reverberated most form the book is that my quest to lead a team of people didn’t begin at the moment something needed to be accomplished. It began long before I, as a leader, ever needed to require anything from my team. The timeline and runway, I learned, could be months or even years of leading by example and inspiring people in unique ways so that they could begin to trust me as a leader long before I needed them to step up and contribute.
The book provided me guidance as a leader and showed me the importance of establishing boundaries and a support system, then building the talent along with trusting relationships, developing a sense of personal and collective responsibility and defining success for myself as a leader that aligns with my organization’s goals. All of this is required for a leader long before suiting up and stepping onto the basketball court on gameday.
Reflecting on the example I gave of my friend David who taught me so much about collective responsibility, while he was a senior partner working at a late hour with his staff, he also set the stage for many other requests that would come for those who witnessed the interaction between David and the young staff person. Those who stayed with the firm understood clearly what it took to achieve success and support our team. The young staff person? Well, he didn’t last much past April 15th of that year.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
Provide the steady in the storm. Always be the one who leads the way in upholding and applying the core values of the company. The values are the non-negotiables. Jim Collins explains in his book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies that a company’s core values and core purpose are preserved whereas cultural practices & operating practices and specific goals & strategies are subject to change.
The leader is the one who ascribes first and foremost to the values and purpose and, in line, is the one who upholds the values and ensures the team is marching towards its purpose. The values and purpose are steadying forces and when adhered to consistently, the guard rails are clear to the rest of the team which, in turn, gives the team the best chance at accomplishing their goals in any era, including a challenging era.
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
Re-engage the team around your vision, go back to the basics and the beginning where you ensured buy-in early on by making their views and shared values part of the development of that vision.
When I took on the role as partner-in-charge and department leader of sales and marketing for a regional accounting and advisory firm, my first difficult task was to obtain buy-in from my internal clients: the 28 partners across 4 offices who were internally served by my department. Most partners had a low level of interest in going out of his or her way to sell our services. They were CPAs and selling services is not something that they signed up for in their idea of their job description. They assumed that was to become my job and sole responsibility.
I learned in my earlier setback described above that my quest to attain results from a team didn’t begin the day I needed someone to close a sale. It began in some respects before I ever earned the leadership role and more specifically the day I took on the responsibility. My earliest communications as sales and marketing leader set the tone for what we would accomplish in the next 30 days as well as the next several months. And setting the tone was all about a shared vision which was fostered by the unique submissions and contributions of each partner of my firm. I made sure they saw how they fit and where their unique submissions were prevalent in our overall strategic plan for my department.
Establishing the vision early on and making the key members of the team a critical part of establishing the commonly shared values that we all would live and work by made it easy to overcome any uncertainty and regain focus on what was most important: our goals as originally established. Or, in a circumstance where a course correction is rightfully called for, rally the team around a new set of objectives that are adjusted for the newly understood reality.
The vision and values we share are the common ground from where we can take each step forward, fall back, regroup, and step forward again.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
I have learned from my experience that outlining the circumstances facing your team with some level of context is an effective approach to delivering tough news. The context comes from the team understanding the model from which you are already working. The model would include realistic and up to date forecasts of how you expected the business to perform compared to where you see the business going. This context can be applied to changing dynamics and used to help the team or customer quickly understand what changes need to be made.
Also, communicating in a consistent rhythm will help team members take in the information in digestible parts. Keeping the information and communication flowing in real time will lessen the blow of an all-out emergency. People are resilient. If they see what the team is up against, in many cases, they will be more willing to stay the course, work together, and not judge the leader or other teammates.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
Recently, I was working with a client to get him to understand the importance of imagining the future and being able to see around the corner. I was joined in the meeting by a well-respected colleague of mine who spent the better part of his career working for one of the top Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. commented “Dan, we used to call that ‘standing in the future’ and we were evaluated as leaders in terms of how well we could see around the corner to predict unknown events that might occur.”
Standing in the future is accomplished by deploying a robust set of forecasts that are based on sound assumptions, which are also evaluated routinely and fine-tuned at least monthly, as more accurate information becomes available.
Maybe the best view a leader has is the next 14 or 30 days. Set some parameters and assumptions based on that, reassess after 14 days, and recommit if needed. Align the assumptions with company objectives and envision that future — whatever time elapsed period that may be — so that your team can measure its progress against the newly envisioned outcome. This way, if the team is trending away from the revised plan, the leader has time to course correct or scrap the entire plan altogether. Better to figure out the efficacy of a vision and plan sooner rather than later.
A leader’s role is to lead and to navigate forward. Those in operating roles will find it hard to see the forest through the trees without the vision of a strong leader. Build the model that will help them see the future and stick to it consistently, course correcting and shifting gears as necessary.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
Be prepared and see around the corner before there is a downturn in turbulent times. Know your core values, your core talent, and who is most likely to stay and fight when times get tough. Communicate with those key people consistently and with a cadence of routine meetings. Find a way to think bigger picture and commit to a vision for the future. Allow room to wiggle and space for you — as the leader — to think, reflect, and make decisions. The ups and downs can be insulated by a sound vision, realistic plan, a solid governance structure, and a leadership team that can stand firm on their convictions of where the company is headed despite economic downturn. Keeping mindful of the opportunities prevalent in a downturn may also be a guiding principle. All of this can be achieved if the leader is skilled enough to stand in the future and see what might be lurking around the corner with enough time to begin to react or redirect as necessary.
Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
I can probably come up with many mistakes that are commonly made, but here are 4 that I find most important.
Neglecting the help of objective advisors and mentors
External advisors, mentors, and board of directors’ members play a key role in helping a management team achieve optimal performance in any economic environment, especially during turbulent times. These external parties can see things objectively and oftentimes quickly see performance factors that are hidden in plain view to the management team members who are working within the business. A common misgiving can be making the decision as the leader to “go it alone” without the counsel of others or relying solely on the viewpoints of those within your company or department. There are topics that are not appropriate for internal peers or subordinates to be consulted upon because the views shared can be seen through a political lens as opposed to a lens of objectivity.
Quickly and realistically understanding environmental factors is an invaluable aspect of a leader’s ability to stay in the lead, survive, and perhaps thrive in difficult times.
Knee jerk reaction of the “let’s just do that” syndrome
Managers and leaders navigating tough economic or operational environments can fall victim to making decisions hastily. If patience is a virtue, demonstrating impatience as a leader during challenging times is a curse. Stick to the original plan until such time as a revised plan is necessary. Then, at that point, realign strategies and tactics and budgetary requirements with overall objectives and a sound financial forecast. Leaders who make decisions in a “knee-jerk” reactional manner will face the threat of spinning out of control. We have seen this countless times with leaders who fail to get out ahead of their teams in order to gravitationally pull their team members towards a successful outcome.
Be patient. Do the work needed to stay the course and you will have the best chance of weathering the storm. The work needed to stay the course relates to staying out front as a leader by planning and doing your best to predict the future.
Not staying the course on a plan and budget
Let’s acknowledge that there are opportunities for victory in turbulent times just as there are opportunities in the good times. Having the ability to quickly redefine success for your role, your company, or your department when your working environment is changing quickly, can lead to identifying and capitalizing on opportunities for success. An effective leader employs strategies and utilizes tools to quickly see the landscape changing, evaluate data points, and make decisions based on limited information.
We advise our clients on the use of tools, especially a rolling 12-month financial forecast that is updated and revised monthly as conditions change. The 12-month rolling financial forecast is dynamic and accounts for a changing environment or changes in the demand for a company’s products or services.
Uncertain times often require a course correction in order to maintain momentum and avoid becoming paralyzed because the original strategic plan was built on stale assumptions. The rolling 12-month forecast will inform the leader of the need to revise the company’s budget expectations by seeing dynamic changes in staffing, supply chain challenges, or changing demands of the marketplace that were not anticipated as part of the original plan.
A word of caution is that the financial reporting and analysis relating to internal budgeting and forecasting is only reliable when sound data and assumptions are used to build the report. Leaders who more accurately predict the future are leaders who can make real time changes, redefine success when needed, and achieve business objectives in spite of times that may be turbulent.
Failing to stand in the future and see around the corner
Growth of a company is impacted externally and internally. External factors such as a changing or evolving economic environment, competitive forces, and political or regulatory developments can lead to the need to change the direction you originally anticipated. Internally, changing operational factors are impactful to the direction of the company.
External circumstances oftentimes lead to being more reactive rather than proactive whereas operational elements can be easier to address in advance. Either way, in order to be successful, business leaders must learn to see around the corner and predict outcomes that are not yet prevalent to the untrained eye.
Boards That Lead: When to Take Charge, When to Partner, and When to Stay Out of the Way addresses risks associated with blind spots to management teams who fail to see around the corner. The book, published in 2013, references General Electric’s first ever Chief Risk Officer Mark Krakowiak who stated “too often people just dismiss that kind of risk for [significantly impactful events} for a variety of reasons. One, it scares the hell out of them — they don’t know what to do about it — and two, because it is a low probability, they think it is okay to work on other things. That is a failure of leadership.”
How do you see around the corner? Standing in the future as outlined above is how we work with our clients to help them achieve more when times are toughest. Building a financial forecast and operational planning model that enables you to stand in the future is a critical success factor during both turbulent as well as vibrant economic times.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.
My five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times are as follows:
- Corporate governance structure, performance management, and goal setting ensures stability
- An effective leader must be able to see around the corner
- Maintain authenticity
- Be Present and Communicate
- Manage time effectively
These five are outlined as follows:
- Corporate governance structure, performance management, and goal setting ensures stability
Generally, corporate governance is the oversight and management of the company and its employees, including its strategic direction, alignment of tactics to achieve strategic goals, and monitoring of those strategies and tactics. Governance structure serves as the big picture framework through which a leader establishes his policies and strategic direction.
Effective performance management of team members is a key element of a functioning corporate governance structure. Alignment of team members’ goals with company level objectives is something a leader should be determining annually and monitoring at least monthly throughout the course of a year.
Oftentimes, in our advisory role, we find that our clients view goal setting as a one-time annual event. Treating the establishment of goals and objectives as a one-time annual event leads to a nicely prepared document that gathers dust on a shelf until the next annual event re-occurs. Imagine the result of this approach in any environment. Tough times require a commitment to governance
We advise our clients to treat goal setting as a process, effectuated by a ongoing performance monitoring meetings that engage the leader and his employees. Staying in step with employees enables the leader to offer resources or a solution when employees get stuck, keep the team on track to achieve goals, and inform on necessary redirection of goals and objectives.
The following is our firm’s governance model, which is used to help our clients build effective governance structures. Roles & responsibilities and metrics & goals are at the core of an effective governance structure and especially key to a leader’s ability to hold employees accountable through performance management to achieve results.
- An effective leader must be able to see around the corner
Recently, I was working with a client and explaining the importance of imagining the future and being able to “see around the corner.” I was joined in the meeting by a well-respected colleague of mine who spent the better part of his career working for one of the top Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. commented “Dan, we used to call that ‘standing in the future’ and we were evaluated as leaders in terms of how well we could see around the corner to predict unknown events that might occur.”
Standing in the future is accomplished by deploying a robust set of forecasts that are based on sound assumptions, which are also evaluated routinely and fine-tuned at least monthly, as more accurate information becomes available. Relying on objective advisors and board members is also a critical success factor to being able to quickly build assumptions about what the future might bring.
I can recall working with a client during the pandemic when his customers were halting all purchases of non-essential goods and services. At the time, many customers of my client had been holding raw materials in their warehouses and their buying habits were changing, but at first they were changing slowly. My client’s 12-month rolling forecast was updated regularly and compared against his expectations. We were able to see the changes taking place in demand for his products and once the economy froze up, it came as no surprise to my client.
There were many prognosticators at the time predicting doom and gloom, but current market conditions didn’t seem like a slowdown was necessarily in play. Since, we saw the slow changes taking place in our rolling 12-month forecast, our work together focused on running a variety of forecasting scenarios and redefining success.
Fortunately, for my client, he was able to realistically anticipate the coming changes and he shifted his plan from original expectations to a revised posture of seeking to survive the remainder of 2020. Survive, he did, and he was proactively positioned to shed unnecessary costs ahead of the slowdown, while maintaining his workforce and eventually taking advantage of the federal government’s payroll protection stimulus money. Our client weathered the storm and met his revised objectives for success as he redefined it.
- Maintain authenticity
Leadership is not about you, the leader. It’s all about the team members who choose to follow a leader who inspires and motivates to get the most from his team under the most trying circumstances. Being your authentic self builds trust and positions you as the leader to meet or exceed mission critical objectives when they matter most.
Consider the character traits that your team sees in you, their leader. Are these traits important to those who choose to follow your lead?
It is commonly known that George Washington’s unmatched moral character was a key to his ability to motivate the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Gordon Leidner’s book The Leadership Secrets of Hamilton: 7 Steps to Revolutionary Leadership from Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Fathers makes the point that Washington “was universally acknowledged as someone who was honest, trustworthy, forbearing, and of sound judgment.” Washington’s authenticity as a leader provided the advantage to a loosely-organized, poorly trained, and underfunded army that appeared to be outmatched when compared to the British army — the most powerful military force on earth.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski makes the case that leaders instill respect for authority by having a caring attitude, by being direct, by communicating regularly, and by being honest.
A leader’s actions are closely followed by his constituents. Being your most authentic self builds a trusting work environment where team members will be willing to stretch for their leader to achieve goals of outsized proportions. Maintaining authenticity is especially applicable in a tight job market where the demand for good people creates the opportunity to choose where to work.
- Be Present and Communicate
One of the most important aspects of my success as a leader has been in keeping a line of communication open between myself and members of my teams. An open door policy supports a trusting environment ensures a path to success. Further, being present and visible among members of your team, helps to reinforce ones role as leader.
The book Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm outlines some impactful aspects of a successfully managed organization, notably the importance of structured daily, weekly, and monthly meetings. “To make more than a lot of noise in your business, you’ve got to have rhythm” and rhythm is achieved through consistency of meetings that “happen as scheduled, without fail, with specific agendas.”
When meetings occur as scheduled and on a rhythm, leaders are able to solve problems more quickly and easily, as well as course correct when necessary. Further, in a changing or tumultuous environment, leaders are able to inform or seek the input of team members in real time without the need to compare calendars and get everyone around a conference room table. Routine communication can also provide a forum for a leader to demonstrate her authenticity and support a trusting work environment.
Meetings would ideally be in person, but can also be held in Zoom, which visibly reinforces a leaders presence. Our advice is for a leader to spend 80% of time in front of people and 20% of time behind their desk.
Effective leadership requires effective, and continual, communication of the vision and objectives of a team and doing this in a visual way.
- Manage time effectively
Habit three of Stephen R. Covey’s timeless book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is Put First Things First. This habit can “captured in a single phrase: Organize and execute around priorities.” Covey introduces The Time Management Matrix which is a tool used to determine what tasks should be focused on and what might be delegated to someone else. Task assignments would ideally be based on highest and best use capabilities with a mind towards time availability, importance, and urgency. Important and urgent tasks of a leader might be either performed by, or managed closely by, the leader. Urgent, but not so important tasks are delegated to the most capable person available. Important, but not urgent tasks become those tasks that a leader can plan for and consider in relation to his ability to see around the corner.
In a changing environment, time can slip away so easily and time management becomes a slippery slope where a leader can fall victim to the knee-jerk reactional management of the “let’s just do that” syndrome discussed above. Be proactive in the management of strategies and tactics and consider using a tool like the time management matrix offered by Stephen R. Covey. Also, be patient and stay in the moment with an eye on what might be lurking around the corner.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Martin Luther King said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
And, while there are many life lesson quotes that resonate with me, I cannot think of a better quote that ties into the subject of this interview today. A highly effective leader is one who does the hard work up front, in order to get out ahead of her team, so that she can envision goals and objectives that align with a company’s or leader’s vision of success. The leader who invests time and resources proactively is a leader who can best see around the corner and anticipate potential pitfalls. This leader is best positioned to course correct and achieve success when faced with uncertainty or challenging times. This leader is also best equipped to stand in the fire and advocate for her team while maintaining forward momentum.
MLK says it best. The leader who gets too comfortable will be ill-prepared when challenging times abruptly require a strategic and tactical change in the direction of the business.
How can our readers further follow your work?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!
Dan McMahon of Integrated Growth Advisors On Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.