Discover the Rare Leader.

As with most blogs, you will find our most recent posting at the top in your current view.
On your first visit, begin with "What is the Rare Leader".
Reading subsequent postings under the archive section will allow you to "catch up" on the story of the Rare Leader.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Vision...Putting it to work

Looking back on these past four weeks and our discussions of Vision.  What have we learned?  Here’s a sample of what we found...
  1. Vision is your clear, inspired picture, creating a passionate, committed journey to discover what can happen.
  2. Isolate what you see. What trends  and data support you?
  3. Allow your vision to inspire you, and you can in turn empower the people you are fortunate to lead.
  4. Lead others to see what you see through goals and action plans.
  5. Share your Vision in a way that everyone wants to follow you to success.
  6. Act on your Vision...set your sights on making it happen, include your Team,  keep it vibrant, and celebrate!
These are valuable lessons on Vision, but they do you, or your Team nothing if you tuck them away and move on.  It’s time to put this Vision to work.  

“Frank”, was faced with this same opportunity...Frank had a grand Vision.  

Running a family business, he suddenly found himself quite alone.  His father (the second generation owner) had recently retired, and then passed away unexpectedly.  His siblings had shown little interest to be actively involved in running the company.   While his own children were too young to work full time, he sensed at least two of them may have a future in succeeding him as fourth generation owners.  

Looking over the business, it didn’t take long to see through the current profitability and recognize signs of trouble over the longer term.  Too much revenue with too few customers, and most products had little longstanding value in the market.  The employee base was loyal, but largely inadequate to think of change and growth.  His facility was modern, conveniently located, but not organized well from a work flow perspective.

His close advisors, family members, and quite frankly his own conscience said this is the perfect time to sell and move on.  Grandfathers business had run its’ course.  But Frank saw it differently.  He saw two very bright children, pursuing degrees which would help them run a business.  The two children had worked summers and holidays, and in addition to making a few bucks, got a taste of how it worked at Dads company.  His largest customer had hinted about him following their lead and making some changes in current products and perhaps responding to some of their designs for new products.  Networking with other business owners and CEO’s, Frank discovered the difference some companies had experienced by delegating key leadership roles to new employees with fresh ideas, and energy.

After spending a few days alone, on sort of a self imposed sabbatical, Frank realized he saw things differently than his friends, family and advisors.  Frank isolated some trends, and built some good dependable data around market opportunities, leadership employees he might look for, and longer term implications of a planned change.  Frank did indeed see a very clear picture of an opportunity to grow this company in a new direction.  He knew it would take a new commitment in energy, resources, and his own passion.  

As a first step, Frank went to his Board of Advisors.  To help support the numbers and projections, they also saw Frank was passionate, and committed to make this happen.  They were on board.  

Step two on in the plan was to energize a Leadership Team.  While there was not much to pick from internally, Frank empowered the few he selected, and inspired them to see what he saw.   The initial task of this Team was to conduct an outside search for a new COO.  This COO would lead them with fresh ideas of new methods, new product, new markets, and to encourage everyone to enthusiastically follow Franks Vision.  

Frank found he still had the spirit of his Grandfather who built the company, and he realized it when he saw it in his own children as well.  Perhaps that was the tipping point.

Now, it’s too early to see if Frank will realize his Vision.  But, a vast number of changes have been made, and yes there have been growing pains, but the positive reinforcement has easily outnumbered the difficult moments.  Their customer list has grown.  They expect to launch new products soon.  Lean and other manufacturing methods have been implemented to seize opportunities for efficiencies.  Clearly, Frank is on the way to reaching the Vision he saw so many months ago.  But it meant he had to allow himself to be a Visionary, to gain a clear picture, become committed to it, share it with others, inspire his Team, but most importantly, he needed to put his Vision to work.

You have a Vision.  It may not be on such a “grand scale” as Frank, but now is the time to act on your Vision...Put it to work!

Next week we begin our study of Charisma.  Number 2, in our detailed look into the 12 behaviors of the Rare Leader.  Don’t let that make you believe we’re finished with Vision.  We’ll keep talking and challenging you to use your Vision.

If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Acting On Your Vision

”I’m high on ideas, but low on execution”.
How many times have you heard someone say this?  Typically you hear it from someone who sees themselves as very creative.  Or, as they might say...I’m an idea guy.  

We’ve lived with and worked with them.  A parent declares...”Let’s vacation in the mountains this year”.  Great idea.  It sounds like fun!  Time passed and there was no vacation, let alone a trip to the mountains.  Then, at the last minute there was a a mad scramble to put some kind of get away together.  Or, the manager at work who announces...”this month there will be no shut down of the line for unexpected maintenance.”  I love it when you have someone in a position of authority who feels they have been anointed to declare the future.

In a few months we will talk about the fine balance between a leader who plans, and a leader who executes.  I’ll introduce you to some people I have worked with who love to put action plans together, organize the troops, coach for effectiveness, check in for updates, and of course hold everyone accountable.  They may not have that celebration in the end, because there may not be known success.  After all, how do you measure their great action plan if it was not based upon a great vision.  Rare Leaders have both Vision and action.

Lets go back to this “idea guy”.  If they say “Im a visionary”, be careful.  A visionary is not a Leader with Vision.  A visionary has no action plan, and is nothing more than a dreamer.

A Leader with Vision is one of those Rare Leaders who is inspired by what they see, they share it with others, and they empower others around them to make the Vision a reality.  Rare Leaders actually do something with their Vision.  You could say they are “high on ideas, and high on execution”.

Over the past few weeks, we have discussed the Rare Leader who has Vision.  We have defined Vision as a clear inspired picture of a committed journey.  Vision is set up by trends, data, and patience.  Vision requires you to realize you have the ability to see things differently than others, and while you have the passion to believe it will come true, you have a need to lead others to find success.  Sharing your Vision inspires others around you.  Sharing your vision is an invitation.  It is an invitation to see the future and to make it happen.  The next step for the Rare Leader who has Vision, is to act on it.

Tell me...
  1. When you see something that you believe is your Vision, what do you do do with it?
    • Do you keep in inside of you, hoping for an epiphany?
    • How do you set your sights on “making it happen”?
  2. How do you set up your action plan?  
    • Is it detailed and in writing within a nice clean binder on your shelf?  
    • Is it simple, and easy to communicate? (perhaps a mission, or a set of goals where your Team can collaboratively provide details?)  What form does it take?
  3. What do you do to keep your Vision and the action plan vibrant and moving in the right direction?
    • Do you try to “do it all” by yourself?  (After all it’s your vision.)
    • Do you mentor your Team?  Do you checkin to see if they need more guidance?  Do you provide resources?  Do you follow up on the action steps the Team committed to?  Do you celebrate success?  How do you Lead the action plan of your Vision?
            Acting on your Vision requires you to Lead.  
            After all, if you’re a Rare Leader, you can’t just be the idea guy.

            If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
            or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
            Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.

            Friday, January 15, 2010

            Share Your Vision

            I noticed a peculiar common thread running through many leaders and companies.  There seems to be a shroud of secrecy among the leadership team, a secrecy between each other as individuals, and most alarming, a secrecy from the rest of the employees and even customers.  (Building Trust between people and within Teams is another item in recipe for success, and we’ll talk about that later.)  

            Is it true, that there is a right of passage giving an executive of a company the authority to withhold information from others?  So many times, when I have been in the Executive Office, or the Board Room, if I waited long enough, some one said...”remember, none of this leaves this room”.  Wow, thats pretty powerful.  What was discussed that is so important, that no one else should ever know about it?  (Until of course, we can surprise the affected parties and they’ll have no possibility of recourse.)  

            I think that was also a good and effective strategy for some famous war leaders such as Admiral Spruance, a genius in military strategy and tactics particularly in the Battle of Midway, or General Eisenhower where his strategy for Normandy was brilliant. Or how about Admiral Yamamoto, of the  Japanese Imperial Navy?  Yes, his Pearl Harbor strategy proved to be very effective.  Their shroud of secrecy was so effective, the surprise in their attacks rendered their foes helpless in the end.

            But, to make their plans effective, they also had to share them.  Obviously there was no intentional sharing with their competitors.  However, they had to trust their Team.  How could they possibly organize a large scale assault without carefully planning goals and action plans from a Vision?  What if General Eisenhower took his Vision of controlling Western Europe to begin the downfall of Germany and kept it a secret with only a few trusted officers.  How would they have planned?  How would they have prepared?  How would they have tested their theories?  But in reality, he did share his Vision.  He did share quite widely to assist in the preparations.  Forces were specially trained. Special vehicles were designed for the amphibious attack.  Practice missions were conducted.  Some planning failed, but tactical plans prepared them for these breaches of confidential details of their plans.  In the end, this shared Vision and leading people through a series of goal oriented projects with accountabilities and shared circumstances, led to the ultimate success.

            Now, I am not asking you to prepare your company for battle in the same way as Eisenhower, Spruance, or Yamamoto.  But, if we take one lesson from them, what can we learn?  How effective can you be, operating within a cloud of secrecy and lack of trust?  I am well aware, there are some discussions of very confidential topics that take place for all the right reasons.  But in this context, we’re talking about sharing and trusting in your Vision.

            Vision means nothing, if you can not share it with others in such a way, that you make everyone want to follow you to success.  Perhaps it’s your charisma.  Maybe it is how you plan.  Some tell me it is about being decisive and being driven to release their strong commitment and persistence to achieve.  These qualities of a Rare Leader will be imperative.  But first, you must share this Vision you have come to be so passionate about.  The Vision you believe in, the Vision that others did not see, was just another foggy day until you were able to open their eyes.  Your Team, your employees, and your customers depend on you for your  inspired Vision.  In short...If you see something that’s possible, it is not a Vision unless you share it with others and empower them to join you on the journey.

            If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
            or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
            Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.

            Tuesday, January 12, 2010

            What do you see?

            I have had some great reaction to my work with people about the concepts of the Rare Leader™.  Lately with this focus on Vision, some people have really opened their eyes.  

            When I ask a business owner, "what is your Vision for this company", a quick response may be "I want to increase sales by 25%", or," I expect we will launch a new flagship product within 3 years".  An initial reaction to the question of Vision typically brings on this type of answer.  When I explain these are admirable goals, but I'd really be interested in their Vision, they look perplexed.  "Well, they say...increasing sales, now theres my vision".  

            When I ask them, how do you see the world around you changing, and where can you intersect in that journey of change that gives you an opportunity to achieve the kind of goal you set to increase sales, their eyes finally light up. Rare Leaders™ give real thought to the values, ideas and activities they're most passionate about.  Rare Leaders™ are able to look for trends, subtle changes, and nuances that tells them where this world is going...and those are the things they make a commitment to pursue.  Those things are their Vision.  Vision in a Rare Leader™ is not only the sight that others do not have, but its the passion to believe in it, the ability to see it clearly, and the self imposed involuntary obligation to get there.

            I love to take time away to hunt with my best friend Cliff.  I am amazed what he can see.  We may be driving down the road, or walking in the woods, and he will see an animal that was not visible to me at all.  I have come to realize, his vision in the wild is different than mine.  Not in a measured 20/20 sense, but in a practical sense...he gets it.  He knows what to look for.  He knows the signs.  He knows the conditions that make the opportunity optimal.  He is focused.  He sees things in the wild that others just plainly do not see.  

            It is the same with a Rare Leader™ who leads great people and who leads great organizations.  They see the possibilities differently than others.  Their passion and commitment to what they see makes this Vision become both visible and attainable for others around them.  Just as when I go hunting with Cliff.  I may not initially see the same activity in the woods he does. But he loves to take me on the journey with him, and he is truly excited when I too, can finally see what he found.  

            The Rare Leader™ does the same when leading people to see what they see, to set goals and projects to get there, and to share in a celebration of success together. That is a Rare Leader™ who has Vision. 

            If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
            or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
            Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.

            Sunday, January 10, 2010


            A behavior and characteristic of a Rare Leader™

            With all the focus and talk of the new year and a new decade, I thought it appropriate to begin this study looking into the characteristics and behaviors of leaders who possess Vision.

            “Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing the time. Action with Vision is making a positive difference.”...Joel A. Barker

            As a Rare Leader™, you should have a clear picture of where you are going, not only as a goal, but you should also have a a commitment to get there.  The Rare Leader™, while believing objectives are possible and constantly revised, is designing plans of action energized by a strong purpose to become effective.

            Vision should be clearly visible to you, and perhaps, it may be to others. However, your Vision is not personal...when it’s personal it becomes a purpose. Your Vision is something that is likely to occur, whether you actively work on it or not. Your Vision is not something you aspire to achieve...that aspiration is a goal.

            To isolate your Vision, extrapolate what you observe around you that is important. Why did this happen? Where is this trend going? What data supports this?  When you embrace a trend, ask what will happen if this continues. Be patient. You can not force or acquire something you don’t see.

            We all know and agree that successful people and successful leaders surround themselves with people who offer them a challenge. Why not find someone with thought provoking ideas that reflect what they see in the world?  People who see trends that become their Vision are people that you should spend time with.

            Be careful when you manufacture your mission in life, it can be a trap to shut out the light of vision. This limited view of the world will certainly inhibit your Vision.  Be open to the possibilities before you.  Vision will happen, and your resulting goals can become projects that will accelerate your Vision.  

            Stressing out will not bring vision to life.  Vision should become so clear that it does not take great effort to guide your actions and orient your projects.  If you push yourself to find a vision, you might forget it is actually a healthy by-product of living fully, and opening yourself to possibilities.  (We’ll talk more about your balanced life and living fully in the future.)

            Take the first step to become a Rare Leader™ and allow your Vision to inspire you, and you can in turn empower the people you are fortunate to lead. 

            What is the Rare Leader™ ?

            We could spend a lifetime reading books, attending seminars, and studying the practices of great leaders.  Through this careful research, you would discover a consistent pattern of observed behaviors predicting the potential of great success as a Leader. I call these twelve behaviors and characteristics the style of a Rare Leader™.

            Let’s probe a bit deeper into each of these behaviors. You can also join in on for regular posts on this topic.

            Please post your comments.  I invite you to actively participate.  I'd also appreciate your inviting friends to follow our discussions and contribute as they wish.

            Welcome, I hope you enjoy your journey discovering the 12 behaviors and characteristics of the Rare Leader™