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Article posts of '2014' 'December'

The Glass Ceiling Myth

Glass Ceiling Myth

by Brett Burden..

A whopping two-thirds of businesses in Australia generate annual revenue below $200,000 and employ fewer than five people. (Ref. ABS surveys)

Why is this? In some cases it’s because the owner prefers it that way. Happy to be the boss and the employee at the same time, but that certainly isn’t the norm. Most long for a business which delivers the freedom and flexibility they set out to build when they first got started. One that rewards them with an enviable lifestyle for the hard work and risk they take on every day. A lifestyle inclusive of overseas travel, time to spend with the most important people in their life, new cars, lovely home and other occasional indulgences. So what holds them back?

Well I believe that I can safely say that most people would agree with me when I say that business can only grow to the extent of its weakest link. So that being accepted as the truth let’s investigate that statement and see how it applies to you and your own situation. The coin graphic included on this page outlines the 4 spheres of any business, Marketing/Sales, Operations, Finance and the most often overlooked... Leadership.

4 Spheres CoinNo sphere is any more or less important than the other when it comes to owning a great business that is capable of supporting your aspirations, but what is important is the level of consciousness of the expectations and performance of each of the spheres. Without this basic understanding a business will quite simply languish, or even go backwards.

Ask any business owner to be completely honest with themselves and the majority will openly acknowledge that they lack the depth of understanding necessary in one, maybe two or possibly even 3 of the spheres. Amazingly very few will equate this with the frustrations of an underperforming business and instead will usually put it down to the less confronting “outside influences”.

There are countless business success stories out there from business owners who for many years believed their growth and success were capped due to perceivably “hitting a glass ceiling”, and with no way past frustration suddenly spilt over. Faced with a moment of truth they finally realise there was no glass ceiling, just a few obvious constraints holding them back, and by eliminating each of them one by one the business was released to achieve higher heights.

The analogy that best makes this point is the hot air balloon. If you have ever taken the opportunity to take a joy flight in a balloon you will know that when the hot air is pumped in and the envelope filled all it wants to do is take off. What holds it back from going skyward? Well I can assure you it’s not an imaginary ceiling, but instead a set of moderately tensioned ropes that are tethered tightly to the ground acting as the constraints.  

If you’re like the majority who come to the conclusion that as the leader of the organisation (big or small) you lack an equal understanding of the 4 spheres then what do you do next? First  of all give yourself a pat on the back for acknowledging it. Secondly, set about discovering where the strengths and weaknesses lay and then create a plan to build on the strengths and eliminate the weaknesses. Although it sounds simple enough there is a bunch of free tools and a process which when followed will ensure a much higher rate of success.

If you would like these resources please visit our website at www.actionvictoria,com.au and you can gain access to them by going to “free business resources/tools” section.

So now it’s back to you. Just as the tethers act as the constraints for the hot air balloon you must take the time to find and unravel yours so you can allow your business soar to the heights you have always longed for. Be aware of procrastination though, because nothing will change unless you do something different.  Yyou have little to lose but so much more to gain.

Editorial footer.

It’s irrefutable that accountability (coaching) works, particularly when it comes to elevating an individual’s (or organisation’s) performance to match their potential and gain a higher rate of achievement. Don’t go fooling yourself in believing you can do it by yourself. If you could have you would have.

Leadership

by Brett Burden....

Many years ago (before any grey hairs) I presented a talk on leadership called “The 10 traits of a leader”. Well of course because the basic principles of leadership are unlikely to change I still think this talk is just as relevant as it was in 1987. I no longer have the full recording of the talk but I did find a copy of some notes which enabled me to fill in the gaps. If you haven’t heard the 60 sec version take a look at the video below (It’s quite funny looking back).

So let’s take a wander down memory lane.

THE 10 TRAITS OF A LEADER BRETT BURDEN

It doesn’t matter whether you are the owner of a business, the captain/coach of a team or a head of state or country I believe, after studying leaders go about their business, that there a few common traits that inheritably show up in each of them. Today I’d like to take you through these traits and hopefully help you in your pursuit towards great leadership.

Why 10 traits? No reason except It seemed like a good round number. Also, I haven’t put these points in any real order of importance except I do believe the first one is crucial in allowing the others to take place.

LEADERS LIKE THEMSELVES AND HAVE A GOOD EGO.

Ego is not a dirty word perhaps, but if yours is out of balance then it’s going to restrict you from becoming a great leader. People might follow for a while but it won’t take long before they realise they are following a fake. It’s my belief that this is where it all starts or finishes for a leader. Like yourself and allow others to like themselves also. Understand you don’t always need to be right because what’s right for you may not be what’s right for others. Take a self study journey to discover how others see you and your ego, ensuring you take the time to tweak any potential flaws along the way. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll be well on your way to great leadership.

LEADERS ARE EXCITED ABOUT LIVING

It’s no secret that “like” attracts “like”. People who are enthusiastic about life and looking to grow tend to be attracted to like minded people. It’s important that as a leader you ensure you are seen to be positive and bullish about your vision. Communicate the message with energy and passion and by doing so leave the audience convinced of your conviction to the task. In saying that leaders also understand it’s delusional to be UP all of the time and therefore surround themselves with other positive people to help them back above the line when needed.

From time to time when things don’t go the way they were expected to leaders often see these as temporary inconveniences and then explained away as a valuable opportunity to learn.

LEADERS HAVE A GREAT ABILITY TO DREAM

Kids have a great ability to believe anything is possible, so much so that you often find them playing out their dreams in the backyards or playgrounds. As we get older that ability makes way for a far more conservative approach in the form of convincing ourselves into that dreams are just wishful thinking and now that we are an adult or parent we need to be “realistic”. Do we do this to protect ourselves from embarrassment and /or failure? I believe so. The way this plays out normally is at some point we stop telling people what we’re looking to achieve in our life, and then secondly we stop believing ourselves. I find this sad because with all of the stories of great leadership the most common element is the leader in question never stopped believing. So why do some make it and others don’t? I believe it has a lot to do with who we associate with, and therefore it’s imperative to surround ourselves with supportive people who will encourage us to keep believing and work with us to help solidify clearer vision.

Leadership, when leveraged against a strong vision holds immense strength and power, but to utilize this energy it must be communicated in a way that fully engage those who can help bring it about. This is where the real artistry begins. Become good at communicating this and exceptional leadership is yours.

LEADERS ARE ABLE TO MAKE QUICK DECISIONS AND ARE FLEXIBLE

Many people find it difficult to make decisions fearful of making the wrong one. Interesting really because there’s a well established understanding that it’s indecision that lends its hand to more failures than occasional making of a wrong one. Leadership comes from the confidence through knowledge which is used to steer your decisions. If by chance the initial decision was not the best a leader will put his hand up as soon as it becomes evident and make the changes necessary. He’s ego is such that he won’t rule out the fact that he could be wrong from time to time, and he’s definitely not scared of remaining flexible to ensure the best outcome is reached.

I don’t think we would be as fearful if Instead of viewing every win or lose situation as a win or learn opportunity. At least that way it’s a win win.

LEADERS ARE ABLE TO MAKE QUICK DECISIONS AND ARE FLEXIBLE

Many people find it difficult to make decisions fearful of making the wrong one. Interesting really because there’s a well established understanding that it’s indecision that lends its hand to more failures than occasional making of a wrong one. Leadership comes from the confidence through knowledge which is used to steer your decisions. If by chance the initial decision was not the best a leader will put his hand up as soon as it becomes evident and make the changes necessary. He’s ego is such that he won’t rule out the fact that he could be wrong from time to time, and he’s definitely not scared of remaining flexible to ensure the best outcome is reached.

I don’t think we would be as fearful if Instead of viewing every win or lose situation as a win or learn opportunity. At least that way it’s a win win.

LEADERS ARE GOOD FOLLOWERS.

Leaders Realise they don’t know it all and understand they don’t need to. I’m sure if you were to spent time with one of today’s most influential leaders, whether it be of a Government, corporate organisation or even a sports person who is the benchmark of his chosen endeavour, each and every one of them would more than likely acknowledge that they weren’t able to do it by themselves. In the background there will be somebody who has supported them in areas where they lacked knowledge, confidence, or even more likely, accountability. This “somebody” is normally considered a mentor or coach and will act as a fair but an unrelenting influence to ensure you finish what you start. The unwise might get caught up thinking that having a Mentor could be perceived as admitting a weakness to outsiders, but a real leader doesn’t care what “they” think. He recognises that leverage is an important component of achieving success and will consider all possibilities. If that means following somebody else’s proven method, or seeking advice from an individual who has done it before, then a true leader will not think twice about the benefits of leveraging against another’s knowledge.

LEADERS DON’T TALK ABOUT IT THEY DO IT.

Communication is a key element in leading and the best way to communicate is by example. If you wish to communicate Integrity you must first display Integirty. The same goes for work ethic, persistence, accountability, and the many hundreds of other success driven attributes

It’s important to note that type of communication is a double edged sword. If you constantly look for ways to shift the blame, or make excuses to cover up your short comings then get ready to deal with an organisation full of the same victim mentality.
People will not always believe what they hear, but they will believe what they see.

LEADERS DON’T GET INVOLVED WITH OTHER PEOPLE PROBLEMS, THEY FIND SOLUTIONS

Visionaries don’t join in on the pity party or bitch about others behind their back. They show empathy not sympathy and seek to find a solution to the problem rather than perpetuate it.

Most people aren’t silly enough to know that those who constantly bitch and complain about others when in your company are probably talking about in the same manner when you’re not around. A leader will politely explain that this communication is not constructive and can’t possibility serve to develop or improve this individual, and the rest of the time would be better spent establishing a plan around helping that person eliminate some possible limitations.

Each time you allow yourself to slip into collusion you’re leadership as aspirations will take a step back. Remember, once a word has left your mouth it cannot be taken back. Even if you apologise it will still linger, so choose your conversations carefully.

LEADERS ARE GIVERS.

They give of themselves to others who are less fortunate, not necessarily by giving hand-outs but also by giving hand ups. They give of their time and perhaps their knowledge and experience to help those who, sometimes by no fault of their own, have found themselves in a bad place. Often people just need an encouraging word, or to know somebody cares about them enough to stop and chat and asked them how they are going. Leaders welcome people with a sincere sense of value and ensure they leave feeling appreciated

If you are not sure where to start you could start by sifting through the enormous list of charities or community programs out there, remembering that they don’t always need money but instead time. Go and seek out something that suits your values and beliefs and commit to spending some time or money (or both) to help them. I guarantee you will get just as much value from this small contribution as the organisation or individual. I hope you don’t mind my indulgence but I’m going to give my favourite program a plug. “Big Brother Big Sister” is a great concept and helps kids of many ages who might lack a good male or female mentor in their life.

LEADERS ARE GO-GETTERS.

I heard a mock proverb when I was a young adult. “Man who stands on side of mountain with mouth open waiting for roast duct to fly in got long wait”. Too many people wait for others to do something before they jump in fearful of making a fool of themselves. If this is you then make a promise now that the next time you find yourself in this situation where you know you should take the lead, do it.

I have always loved the saying “think about how much, and what, you would do and achieve in your life if you knew you couldn’t fail.

Be the trail blazer and check out how empowered you feel afterwards. And remember, most people are followers looking to be led.

LEADERS ARE HUNGRY FOR INFORMATION.

“The more a leader knows the more he knows he needs to know”

Trust and confidence are qualities which are crucial for great leadership. Confidence comes about by undeniably understanding and knowing a situation or a subject. The only way to get to this point is through researching and devouring as much information as is available at that time, and then by testing what you have learnt to ultimately prove to yourself you know the answers. The proverb that best suns this up for me is: “Like a tree, if you are not growing you are dying”. People will follow those who show they are technically proficient.