Friday, August 21, 2015

Consistent Messages

When we send mixed messages... we create confusion and chaos.  Which spelling is correct? Close your eyes, and you can probably spell this word correctly.  I'll give you a hint, the correct spelling is in the foreground.  What's in the background is nothing more than mixed signals that create a confusing message.

Imagine the impact on a child learning to spell.  I am the very proud recipient of a spelling bee trophy from elementary school, and these signs initially confused me.  Road signs, like computers, are NEVER wrong!!!  Maybe only the white ones are correct, or is the the green?

I'm going to ask that you reflect...  are you sending, and receiving consistent messages? Or, like these signs, are you delivering confusing messages to your team, and receiving mixed signals from above?

Your mantra should be... manage from where you are, and send consistent messages.  Don't be afraid to point out inconsistencies that come from above.  Only when there is a clear destination can the journey be efficient, and... well... quite enjoyable.  Remove these stresses.  As a unit, refine your mission and vision, then refocus your efforts using consistent messages.

Consistency is critical in life, in parenting, and in your relationships.  As my children, all now adults, were growing up, they always quipped that they knew my answer to their questions before the words left their mouth.  How? It was through consistency.  If we know the parameters and expectations, we are more likely to be successful within those limits.  We can stretch the limits as we grow, as long as we communicate, maintain mutual trust, and deliver a consistent message.

Consistence is a result of words matching your actions.  If you want the respect of your peers and your team, be consistent.
  1. Provide excellent customer service -  You cannot expect excellent customer service and set high expectations for others, yet not provide others the same level of service.
  2. Be responsive - You cannot expect your team to be responsive, if you're not responsive.
  3. Commit and deliverYou cannot commit to deadlines and not deliver, then hold others accountable.
  4. Be trustworthyYou cannot commit to help others, then not provide the assistance.
  5. Be consistentYou cannot say one thing, then do another.
  6. Roll up your sleeves and helpYou cannot ask your team to put in extra efforts on a project, and not contribute.
  7. Finish what you startYou cannot ask your team to be dedicated, if each of your positions are just a stepping stone to your next promotion.
  8. Be transparentYou cannot ask for transparency, and not provide it.
  9. Be inclusiveYou cannot ask for a say in decision making, and not share it.
  10. Climb up on the balcony and look around - you cannot determine your state in life, on a project, or in an organization without taking the time for reflection.
I have worked for companies that have delivered an inconsistent message.  I can tell you that this is confusing, and has a huge negative drag on employee morale and motivation.  Needless to say, I have tried to provide feedback to improve these environments.  If this was unsuccessful, then it was time to find a better cultural fit.  Why? Confusion and inaction will fill the void created by a lack of consistency.  When there is confusion, there is inconsistency that can transform productive people into zombies that are incapable of making good decisions.  People don't lose their job for being safe, they lose their job from taking risks and making poor decisions when there is an inconsistent message.

So, I guess the moral of this post is be consistent, and prevent another zombie outbreak at your organization.  Use a consistent message to motivate your team, build morale, and create a sense of community.  If you work for a zombie company, you have three choices: undertake the hard work of changing the culture, assume resistance is futile and join the dark side, or exit and head for the light.

It's your move... choose one: action, inaction, or ambivalence.  Before you chose, remember that your career is a reflection of your life, and living differently outside of work than inside is asking for internal conflict.  So, make a choice, and move forward!

If you want to see the sign in person, it's in Cooks Forest, near Cooksburg, PA.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Contracts Negotiations...

The recently proposed Iran agreement has created a significant amount of controversy. Much of the tone and rhetoric has been around the quality of the negotiations, and our ability to audit and enforce agreement compliance. Because of this, I’ve been reflecting on my personal experiences reviewing and negotiating information technology related contracts. My scenarios are significantly different.

There are no lives at risk. My involvement has primarily been with software, systems, and communications purchases. My first exposure was at an extremely well managed and efficient nationwide manufacturer. They were a family owned company that challenged everyone to continually improve, and operated in a very lean and efficient manner. This experience provided the base foundation for my own leadership journey.

The experience had taught me the following:

Negotiate from strength. The Vice President of Purchasing (Mike) always negotiated from strength. When Mike went in to purchase materials or equipment, he knew what he needed from the deal. He was ready to walk away if he didn’t achieve this goal. I’ve heard stories of people asking for his best price, and Mike responding with his number. When they countered the offer, he’d shock them by lowering his price instead of increasing it. That dance would continue until Mike received his terms, or he would walk away from the deal. It sounds like John Kerry never went in with this attitude, or the outcome could have been much different.

Be prepared to walk away. I was told of one instance in Mike's personal life where he visited a Cub Cadet dealer. Mike asked for the dealer’s best price, and apparently received it. He counter-offered a significantly lower price to start the game. The Cub Cadet salesperson went to his office and sat down at his desk. Mike assumed he was sharpening his pencil. The salesperson never came back outside, and Mike never went back in – both knew what they wanted, and were willing to walk away. If you’re too far apart on what your requirements, don’t be afraid to walk away. If Mike would have went back inside, or the salesperson came back outside, one or the other would have lost their leverage. Were our negotiators willing to use their strength and walk away?

 Set clear expectations. I met with Jim, the company's Executive Vice President to discuss the contract for a large ERP software purchase we were negotiating. We worked closely together with Mike to negotiate the price and terms for all technology purchases. Jim related an experience he had as an executive at a smaller airline. As he was reviewing a purchase of a multi-million dollar jet, and reading the terms and conditions, he made an odd discovery. He realized the aircraft he was purchasing wasn’t guaranteed to fly. He had done his best to improve the terms and conditions. However, this was only effective up to the point where the vendor was willing to walk away. In some cases, there was little he could do since he wasn’t negotiating from a place of power. He needed the airplane to fly passengers and generate revenue. In other situations, he was negotiating from a place of power, and was able to obtain significantly better agreements. The key, he said, was mitigating risk to an acceptable level… understanding what’s critical… and recognizing your leverage. Enter your negotiations process knowing your bottom line price for the level of service you require, each partners responsibilities, and what risks need mitigated before you can accept the agreement. Did our country do this with the treaty?

Communicate clearly, and get contract clarification in writing. Ambiguous language should not exist in a contract. If there’s something you don’t understand, or that is subject to interpretation… get a concise explanation that both you and your vendor can interpret clearly included as a signed addendum. The tale about the buyer at an auction asking what to do via text when the equipment he wanted was higher than he was authorized to spend is an appropriate example. The authorization he received included “no price too much”, so he kept bidding until he won the auction. Unfortunately, so the story goes… what should have been communicated was “no, price too much” – a very different message. The company ended up going bankrupt because the added equipment expense damaged their ability to continue operations profitably. Make sure you’re communications, interpretations, and understanding with the vendor are mutual and concise. Explicit contracts that clearly outline the contract requirements do not signal mistrust, and are NOT counter to a successful vendor relationships. Quite to the contrary - they reduce misinterpretations, build trust, and become the foundation for a mutually beneficial and profitable partnership.

Recognize risk and scope appropriately. Read the terms and conditions. Open source software licenses do not require monetary payment. However, some do require any vendor that incorporates this code into their product to also make it freely available under the open source license. This isn’t a good option for a vendor that markets software and makes their money by selling software solutions. Work with your leadership to identify parameters for acceptable risk, and understand these limits. There is a different level of risk purchasing a copy of Microsoft Office vs. negotiating an enterprise software agreement. Did our leadership recognize the risk and scope for the Iran deal?

Be fair, and partner for success. Your goal with contract negotiations is to create a fair and explicit agreement for all parties involved. There is no success in driving a critical supplier into bankruptcy. This agreement is the basis for a collaborative partnership. There may be times where you may need something expedited, and you'll need goodwill to help get things done that may be outside the scope of the agreement. If every agreement is one-sided, you'll damage any potential relationships, and that won't help your organization in the long run. If you want customer loyalty, then you must have some level of commitment with developing and establishing relationships with your key vendors. 

Differentiate between critical and non-mission critical agreements. Know what's critical and important for your organization. Based on your industry, the importance of a paper contract could be quite different. Treat each type of agreement appropriately. If you negotiate a paper contract for a widget manufacturer, these are likely considered expenses and probably not part of your core business unless they are required for packaging. The level of diligence may not be as important as ensuring that purchases of widget raw materials meets your requirements and is delivered on time. However, paper would be critical if you're in an industry that requires these as a raw material to deliver goods and services, such as a newspaper printer.

Be explicit with context. I have one final thought on clarity in communications. Be specific and explicit in negotiations, and ensure you have spelled out the CONTEXT for each of the critical points. Do not assume context, or your contracts will be subject to misinterpretation and miscommunication.

 I thought I’d share some of the my thoughts on contracts review and negotiations. So, don’t be afraid to work hard and get your hands dirty. Always take the time to climb up to the top of the mountain, reflect, and look out on the horizon to survey the landscape. From the mountain top, we can get perspective on our progress, identify threats and opportunities, adjust our processes and direction, and be proactive. Go climb your mountain, survey your landscape, and adjust as appropriate. This journey is easier if you find a great mentor - mine was "Jim". Go find your "Jim"!

 I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this entry.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Right-size Processes To Add Value

I've been in a few conversations recently about "overhead' processes, and my favorite topic - adding value.  I'm going to provide a few examples of what I consider rightsizing processes.  These processes should be implemented judiciously and appropriately to deliver the information and results needed to add value and deliver your projects on time.

Often excess processes can significantly reduce productivity, and staff become complacent and don't believe the work they are doing is important.  Keep your team energized by being a leader and establishing processes that are appropriate, effective, and add value.  Some broad examples of rightsizing are below:
  1. Project Management - I cannot stress the importance of tracking projects at an appropriate level to create a critical path for developing and managing the timeline.  My experience is that this is as much of an art as a science.  The science is in the methodology, the art is in the understanding and ability to identify dependencies and timing accurately.
  2. Time tracking - I've posted about this previously.  Track sufficient information using appropriate granularity to support your project schedules, accounting for resource time in a broad sense by service and category.  Right size this so you do not expend valuable project and service resources recording unnecessary information.  Tracking information that is not useful for improving project management, increasing support for the service, or fulfilling sponsor reporting requirements is frustrating for staff  and wastes precious resources.
  3. Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity Planning - Nobody ever expects a disaster to occur. However, they do... and it is too late when you realize that the one person with the knowledge to recover your enterprise service just took off in a plane destined for a remote village half-way around the world. 
  4. Cross Training -  Cross train your staff, and document basic operational requirements.  They may complain about the additional work.  However, when they discover that this enables them to take vacations without being tethered to a work device, they will thank you.
  5. Change Management - Do an appropriate level of planning and documentation of changes, and incorporate this into your processes to support audit requirements and aid in identification of  causal effects.  Manage change so that risk is minimized, and recovery from change can be reverted without a significant amount of effort.
  6. Incident Reports - these are extremely helpful in developing an understanding of impact, and causal effects when something significant goes awry.  Reflection and openness are necessary to change processes and mitigate future risk.  Again, do not spend five days documenting an incident that was minor - and that only merits minimal documentation of the issue, impacts, and lessons learned to help reduce future risk and improve recovery.  There are times when risks must be accepted, and that's okay as long as the risk and potential impact has been mitigated to an acceptable level.  Our greatest failures can provide the best learning opportunities.
  7. Meetings - maximize efficiency by preparing for the meeting, and having a clear agenda.  Document follow-up items, delivery dates, and ownership.  Not preparing leads to wasted time.  Having nine people wait for ten minutes for the tenth person wastes 90 minute of productivity that cannot be recovered.  Preparation should be appropriate for the topic and audience.
  8. Communications - Appropriate levels of communications are critical.  Too little communication, and your stakeholders are uninformed and can become unpleasantly surprised. Too much communication and your messages are ignored.  Work with your stakeholders and staff to establish a level of communications that is appropriate.
The most important part of this is collaborate with your team and stakeholders to define a level of process that is consistent and appropriate.  Be inclusive and transparent in the discussion, accepting and acknowledging feedback to develop processes that improve overall efficiency.  Most importantly, evolve your processes to continually become more efficient.  Perfection is often something we cannot afford in our lives.  The sooner we acknowledge this, the more efficient and effective we become.  Be a good steward of your resources, and strive for customer satisfaction and good stewardship.  If your services are not affordable, you will not be in business or servicing your customers for any length of time.

That's it for this post... until next time... lead and manage for success!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Designing a Requests For Proposal

I like to investigate and understand business requirements, that's one of the reasons I have enjoyed participating in the design of RFPs, as well as why I like developing solutions and services.  Both provide an opportunity to understand business processes from end-to-end, and to look for ways to optimize and improve them as part of any new technology undertaking.

Well, it's been a couple of years since I started this post, and I said I'd add more details when I originally penned this article.  I'm back at it... so I'm revising this post from 2013.

So, you're part of a team that's been tasked to find the best technology solution for a problem, and you're not sure where to start.  How do you know that you've found the best option for your organization?  In this post, I'll start the walk-through process for designing a successful RFP.  You may have to read this a few times to understand it. If I get chance, I'll post an example with vendor identifiable data redacted, as well  the final scores. (update - I've added more details, I still owe the redacted examples...)

Although I've put together several large RFP's over the past twenty five years, there's always more to learn.  I've been involved in two types of proposals... one method uses a minimalist approach (just the drop dead functionality), and at the other side of the spectrum casts a wide net of requirements to find the optimal solution.

The largest effort I've led spanned multiple companies in North America, and was the most complex of my endeavors because it crossed country boarders.  Topics such as regional taxation, language translation, local vendor support, country specific requirements, legal, and reporting requirements increase complexity.  In these cases, you need an active RFP working group to assist with project that is knowledgeable and can coordinate capturing the requirements.  You also need to identify qualified vendors to participate.  In our case, this included SAP, Oracle, JD Edwards, and others that had deep functionality, and could provide support in multiple languages, and cover the country requirements.

I've been involved several in other efforts, which were for mid-size manufacturers -- and have covered differing manufacturing disciplines from discrete, to process, to mixed-mode and engineer-to-order .  Of course most of these included the full suite of financials, so it's important to include someone who understands the financial transaction flow processes, and how integrated software functions, including accruals between modules.

To round out my RFP experience, I've also helped assemble an RFP for a Learning Management System replacement in Higher Education.  Here's it's not about optimizing manufacturing efficiency, its more about having the tools available to offer a rich interactive experience for students and faculty that can help facilitate the learning process.  Instead of a general ledger, there's a gradebook.  There's a slightly different take on quality control, which includes using student metrics to enhance learning, maintain engagement, and improve retention.  There are the normal interactive tools that empower the learning experience, discussion forums, activity tracking, calendars, assignment uploads, assessments, and many others that must be compared across solutions. The vendors in this market are quite different from manufacturing - and includes companies such as Blackboard Learn, Instructure, Moodle, and Desire2Learn, in no specific order.

Developing an RFP involves a number of steps.
  1. Develop a timeline and milestones for your RFP, such as when the RFP will be released, what the vendor question period will be,  when vendor responses are due, time for vendor demonstrations, evaluation complete date, when finalists will be identified, dates for the conference room pilot, negotiations period, and final contract award.
  2. Make sure that you layout the timeline and requirements clearly both internally and externally. 
  3. To avoid confusion, and potential collusion, channel all communications during the RFP process through a central common resource that collects questions, and distributes each question and response at the same time to all participants.
  4. Require the inclusion of the RFP as part of the final contract.
  5. Provide some background on your business and project, including your timeline in an introductory section.
  6. Identify and research some of you potential vendors and solutions, so you're more acquainted with industry and vendor terminology.
  7. Identify your categories for the RFP.  These could be functional areas (Marketing, Sales, Finance, etc.), technical areas (Networking, Storage, Scalability, etc.), Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity,, Student Engagement, or any of a host of topic specific areas.
  8. Expand on your categories.  Brainstorm... if there's a valid reason to ask for something, then include it.  Don't add fluff.  However, be thorough and do not stifle others ideas or requests.
  9. Scale each of your questions based on how important they are... and be consistent.  For example, you may want to weight quest that's extremely critical with 10 points, and one that's important with 5 points, and nice to have with 1 point.  If there are "deal breakers".. those where you'd walk away from the project if it didn't have that functionality as either an extremely high score (500 points), or just discard vendors who can't achieve that functionality.
  10. Don't forget to include any relevant information such as volume of documents produced over a year, users, number of miles driven, or whatever is relevant for the proposal requested.
  11. If you know someone that's strong with Excel, you can create a spreadsheet to send out for the vendors to answer, then import this back to a master scoring sheet that contains all of the related weights.
  12. Determine how... and if you're going to weight potential changes the vendor would make... and score those as well.  Be careful in this area, especially with software... you need to ensure that each vendor understands the scope and requirements.
  13. Decide how you're going to weight each category.  What's more important to you? For example, if you're evaluating software, is it the Production Scheduling, or Invoicing modules?
  14. Don't forget the intrinsic factors... add categories for customer references and weight them appropriately... check the Dunn & Bradstreet listings for relative business strength, including the Paydex ratings (payment history).
  15. Once you're comfortable with your weightings and your team agrees, then it's time to review and score the vendors.
  16. Pick a few top vendors, and send them "test scenarios" with your data, and have them demonstrate how their solution handles these.  For example, if you require a custom order configuration engine with options that generates a dynamic bill of materials, then have them demonstrate that functionality as part of the review process.
  17. Visit customers, and see how happy they are, and watch for non-verbals to see if they are really happy.  Ask some questions, and don't be afraid to probe for potential strengths and weaknesses.
  18. Make sure you work with the vendor, and know that they understand your requirements for important questions.  If there's a disconnect, there could be some issues if you cannot get confirmation that you've both got the same understanding of expectations.
  19. Negotiate life-cycle costs.  These costs include things like maintenance, annual increases, billable rates, travel and expense reimbursement rates, implementation fees, etc.
  20. Don't pick the cheapest, or most expensive solution.  Pick the most cost effective solution that meets your requirements, and that you can afford.

Make sure your requirements are concise.... don't let things up for interpretation.  For example -

Supports payroll interfaces - a very poorly question open to interpretation... what type of interfaces?  General ledger, payroll, taxes, electronic reporting, direct deposit, timecard, what?  If I'm a vendor, and I support any interface, or remotely create an interface - Yes, it's a resounding YES, I have this!

Be clear!
  • Supports real-time payroll interface to general ledger for all associated module entries, distributed by department.
  • Supports real-time payroll interface to Kronos time-card system for weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly payroll periods.
I'll try to post some examples of solid RFP questions and evaluations in a future iteration.  Where possible, do this electronically to make it easier on your vendor, and your review team.

Here's the index from the most North American RFP I led... with some generalizations...
  • Instructions - for completing and submitting the proposal, or escalations\ questions.
  • Quotation - defines how you want this proposal quoted, options, terms, etc.
  • Company Introduction - provides an overview of the company, locations, size, etc.
  • Subject Matter / Modules:
    • Purchasing Section
    • Accounts Payable Section
    • General Ledger Section
    • Accounts Receivable and Credit Management Section
    • Invoicing Section
    • Distribution & Warehousing Section
    • Quality Control Section
    • Process Manufacturing Section
    • Inventory Control Section
    • Cost Accounting Section
    • Marketing Section
    • Sales Order Entry Section
    • Shipping Section
    • Environmental Section
    • General Section
  • External Interfaces - do you have other systems to interface, or specifications you need tools providers to follow for industry standard interfaces?
  • Vendor Background - support hours, languages, response times, etc.
  • Document Volumes - scale, availability requirements so the system can be properly sized.
  • Vendor Comments - an area for a vendor to highlight specific strengths that set them apart.

No vendor can do everything, I'd suggest following some process like below... and have them select from one of the following for each item, with appropriate costs or caveats.  (Remember, your questions are CLEAR, so caveats are probably a partial meets.)
  • X - Existing functionality - as stated in the question.
  • R - Available using an end-user report writer requiring no programming.
  • C - Customization available through programming (cost estimate should be included).
  • U - Unavailable functionality.
  • F - Pending Future release, due within 12 months, with estimated release date.

So you get your RFP's back... what do you do?

If you've worked ahead, either while you were assembling the RFP, or while you're waiting for Vendor Responses, you you've had time to weight each of the questions by importance, as well as created weights for the sections, including proposal total and life-cycle cost, and intrinsic attributes of the vendor.

For the most part, it's now simple algebra... you take the question weight * the points for the vendor response (below)  to develop a mathematical model of how well each solution fits your business.  You do the same with each section to equalize this so sections are rated on importance to the project, not the number of questions in the section.

For example, you may want to give the vendors the following points based on their responses...
  • (10) - Existing
  • ( 5) - Reporting
  • ( 2) - Future
  • ( 1) - Custom
  • ( 0) - Unavailable
Someone with strong Excel skills can do develop the models and formulas, then just cut and paste the vendor responses to automatically score them and quickly adjust category weights.  That's the process I've taken historically.  To avoid bias, or any impression of impropriety, it's critical to have your question and category weights finalized before you start to evaluate the responses.  Make sure that you read the RFP responses thoroughly, and get clarifications on questions that were answered ambiguously.

Make sure you do proof of concepts for your critical functions as part of the review process, and plan to implement and evaluate a pilot process (if applicable) as a contingency to the contract.  Don't be afraid to include the RFP or key sections in the final contract.  Finally, get everything clarified and in writing - it'll lead to a more successful implementation and a a better long-term partnership.

Good Luck!  Used correctly, the RFP is a great tool to ensure that you're getting the best value.

Reposted from Aug 24, 2013 blog entry.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The I in Team (Te-I-AM?)

OK, so we've all heard it... there's no "I" in team. However, if you squint just right, and tilt your head a little to the left... you can see there is a "ME"... which doesn't leave any room for giving credit to you. Shuffling the letters a bit, you can get tea, meat, at, ma, am, mat, mate, tame, item, and so on... however, you're just shuffling the letters, and not adding value. Do you shuffle letters and take credit, or do you really add value?

So, in this brief thought piece, please take some time and ask yourself one simple questions? Are you a team player, or do you shuffle letters that don't add value and then take the credit? I believe humility is one thing that's very undervalued and often overlooked in our society. Leaders lead, they don't focus on constant jockeying to make themselves look better for their next opportunity. That's self promotion and salesmanship, and it often can come at the expense of their team.

Yes, I hear the chuckles... if you don't promote yourself, then who will promote you? My attitude has always been, if your team's doing a great job... then the entire team should get recognized for their contributions. You'll be recognized for your contributions, if your contributions really add value. That recognition may come from above, below, or from a combination of areas. Success stands out from the crowd, or at least it should.

We become stronger leaders by promoting the "true" success of our teams, the "business value" that they add to your organization, and giving credit where it is due. When we lead by example, they we encourage our team to reflect our attitude, ethics, sense of shared responsibility, ownership, and collaboration across the enterprise. Encourage your team to work smarter, not harder... take measured risks, and publicly give the team the credit they deserve. Add value by removing obstacles, coordinating across the enterprise, keeping a pulse on your projects,... roll up your sleeves, and really add value.

You succeed and fail as a team. As a leader, sometimes we need to take responsibility for a failure to lead. That doesn't mean protecting incompetence, that's a different subject, and outside of the scope of this brief piece. Taking responsibility means that you're willing to take measured risks as part of a continuous improvement process. Your staff should be confident that you support them. If they follow best practices, yet misjudge mitigation of a risk from the introduction of changes in your product or processes, they should be confident that they aren't going to become a sacrificial lamb. Risk should be managed and mitigated, not completely avoided. You should publicly acknowledge any incident; explain clearly what happened, and how you plan to mitigate this risk to prevent a recurrence of a similar event in the future.

Let's go back to business value. I like to use the perspective, as draconian as it sounds, if I owned the company, would I be willing to pay another staffer out of my own pocket for doing EVERYTHING that I'm doing? What does the company get back? If I wouldn't pay me, then why am I doing it? (And if you're honest, you already know you have some of these activities, we all have them.) You wouldn't pay a lawn-care company a million dollars to mow your one acre lawn, no matter how good it looks. You'd pay the market rate, and expect a well manicured lawn. You wouldn't want the workers swimming in your pool while they are on the clock, surfing on your computer, or any other of other things that don't improve the looks of your lawn.

There are activities that add value such as team building, because they teach staff to be more productive as a group than they could be as individual workers. I'm definitely not being critical of these type of activities. I'm also not talking about professional development, research, and networking. These are all highly valuable activities that lead to improved skills, processes, methods, and communications. I'm talking about activities that really add no value.

Finally, leaders try to hire people who are the most qualified for their open positions, are capable, share their approach to team work, have the same level of commitment, and take pride in their contributions. Leaders focus on ways to provide stretch opportunities, give frequent constructive feedback on opportunities for improvement, and provide examples where staff are leveraging their strengths. Leaders challenge their team to excel.

So in summary, here's a few thoughts.
  1. Lead by example, not by words.
  2. Promote the accomplishments of your team
  3. Look for continuous improvement and innovate, while mitigating risks. When you fail to mitigate properly, accept responsibility, and use it as a learning opportunity.
  4. Recruit, hire, develop, and retain the best staff.
  5. Focus on continuous process improvement and employee development.
That's it for this brief piece. Hopefully it causes you to think critically in one of the areas I've covered. Ask yourself, are you adding value in all that you do for your team? No squinting is required - approach this with your eyes wide open... be critical... and reflective. Do you see an I, me, or a team?