Share Your WHY

Why do some companies seem to have the best employees ever, and your new hires typically quit after less than a year?

Maybe it’s you.

Founders and leaders often assume that everyone shares their passion. You’ve told your origin story so many times that everyone automatically gets it, right?

Share your company’s vision – WHY you do what you do – with all employees, as often as possible.

Consider this: A staggering 61% of employees don’t know their organization’s vision or understand how their job fits into the company’s purpose.

This causes employees to disengage. Disengaged employees are unmotivated and can create a negative work environment, or they quit.

It’s imperative that you share your company’s vision – WHY you do what you do – with ALL employees.

Practice stating your WHY as clearly and succinctly as possible. Drop in at new employee orientations to share it, or create a short video so every employee can hear it straight from you. Explain how each employee contributes to the organization’s success.  Employees will understand what you want to accomplish and how they fit in. You’ll build connections on a deep, emotional level.

Read more of my tips for building engagement and the perfect book to help you explore your WHY. Let’s work on this together! 

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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Are You Boldly Going Nowhere?

When planning a trip, do you map a route, pack supplies, and set a timetable? Or do you just hop in the car and start driving? Both methods can result in a relaxing vacation.

But as a business leader, you can’t simply hop behind your desk and see where your company ends up. To reach your destination of success, you need to develop plans, allocate resources, and follow your purpose. Otherwise, you are boldly going nowhere.

If your organization lacks alignment, your purpose – no matter how noble or lofty – will go unfulfilled.

Achieving your goals requires that your strategy and purpose are aligned. Your people, processes, culture, budgets, and structure must support the end goal. If your organization lacks alignment, your purpose – no matter how noble or lofty – will go unfulfilled.

Which of these best describes your organization?

  • Winner: Our strategy and purpose are aligned.
  • Sincere But Incapable: Our goals are clear on paper, but we don’t have the right people or money to make them happen.
  • Boldly Going Nowhere: We have great people and ample resources, but we don’t have a strong sense of purpose or direction.
  • Least Likely To Succeed: We lack the right people and resources, and our purpose is unclear.

When strategy and purpose are aligned, people working at that organization get excited. Employees are engaged and united behind a common purpose, and they know that their contributions are valued. Doesn’t that sound like an organization you’d like to lead?

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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Does Your Strategy Align With Your Purpose?

It’s a new year, and maybe you’ve resolved to become healthier. To support this goal, one strategy would be to buy fruits and vegetables when you shop. But what if you bought only junk food? Obviously, your strategy would not support your purpose, and you would fail to achieve your goal.

The same is true for your organization. If you want to be successful in 2021, you must align your strategy with your purpose.

Purpose is what your organization is trying to achieve. Strategy is how you will achieve it.

Among successful organizations, 64% build their budgets around their strategy.

Your purpose is the unchanging beacon that guides you forward. Everything you do as an organization should point toward this purpose.

Strategy includes the products and services you offer, the market you seek to serve, and defining your competitive advantages over your rivals.

Now ask yourself How well does our strategy support our purpose? Then reflect on your organization’s structure and capabilities and consider how they support your strategy.

For example, if your strategy is to outshine your rivals with stellar customer service, is this reflected in your service standards, process of accountability to standards, training, and resources budgeted for the front-line staff and their supervisors? Or do you operate short-staffed to save money, resulting in overworked and grumpy employees who are unlikely to offer great customer service? Without an effective strategy and resources to achieve the purpose, you will fail.

There is ample proof that strategic alignment pays off. Among successful companies, 77% report that their operating mechanisms support their strategy, and 64% build their budgets around their strategy. It’s no surprise 60% of companies that fail to achieve their goals don’t even connect their strategies to their budgets.

Let’s make 2021 the year that we align our resources with our goals.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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Saying NO is the best gift you can give your organization

What made the cut for your 2021 Strategic Plan? More importantly, what didn’t make the cut?

I often work with organizations that have clear priorities – on paper. But their budgets and staffing do not reflect those priorities. How can you achieve your goals if you are not putting resources toward them?

You must decide which initiatives get your organization’s financial and human capital.

Creating a strategy for success is all about trade-offs.  As a leader, you must decide which ideas and initiatives get your organization’s financial and human capital.

For each initiative that you say YES to, there will be many more that get a NO. This allows you to put time, money, and creativity toward achieving your biggest priorities.

Allowing employees to focus on pet projects might make them feel good, but this often doesn’t help your organization compete for and win business. Wouldn’t you rather engage your whole team and work together to achieve your biggest goals? Imagine the entire staff celebrating their accomplishments together one year from now!

For more inspiration, I recommend the book Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud. Read all my book recommendations for leaders here.

Saying NO could be the best gift you can give to your organization and your employees.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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How to create a 2-page plan for success in 2021

Whether 2020 has been a year to forget or business is booming, now is the time to look forward to 2021. Your competitors are not breathing easy and waiting for the holidays to come around. Here’s how you can get started:

  • Gather your core leaders now for a one- or two-day offsite, in-person or virtual.
  • Pull out the two-page Strategic Direction document you created at the end of 2019. How did you do? Are your actual results performing against your budgeted or predicted results?
  • Revisit your organization’s purpose – what are you trying to achieve?
  • What are your organization’s strategies – in other words, how do you achieve your purpose? This includes products, services, markets, and competitive advantages.

Share your organization’s purpose and strategies with every single team member, and explain how you will celebrate success in 2021.

  • Look at the purpose and the strategies you listed. Do the strategies support the purpose? If so, great! If not, reflect on the disconnects and realign where necessary.
  • Compile what you’ve agreed upon as a team into a two-page Strategic Direction document for 2021.
  • Communicate! We believe the best way to communicate this is through an ALL TEAM meeting.  Engage every single team member in reclarifying purpose, key strategies, and your description of what a successful 2021 will look like.  Explain how progress will be shared throughout the year, and how you will celebrate when plans are achieved. Yes, this is the place that culture intersects with leadership!
  • After the meeting, your managers can develop their 2021 plans and targets based on this new Strategic Direction document. (Side note – having a solid Strategic Direction also makes it easier for managers to say NO to certain ideas or initiatives that don’t fit the plan. Read more on saying NO here.)

Do we know what 2021 holds for us? No, but understanding who you are as a business, and what you are trying to achieve makes it easier to decide what you will invest in.

I can help facilitate the creation of your 2021 Strategic Direction document. Contact me for details.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center for Extraordinary Success

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What happens when leaders stay in their comfort zone?

“The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When leaders back away from challenging situations, their team loses confidence in them. In other words, when leaders fail to exhibit bravery, their organizations fail to achieve higher levels of success.

Best-selling author Brené Brown studied organizations where courageous leadership was absent and found three common issues:

  • Leaders avoided difficult conversations
  • Leaders managed problems instead of the behaviors that caused the problems
  • In organizations that had “fear of failure” cultures, team members were afraid of being wrong

My goal is not just to make you aware of these three common facts, but to encourage you to take action with what you have learned. So, I challenge to you reflect on the following questions.

On a scale of 1-5, with “1” being the lowest and “5” being the best, how would you rate yourself on these traits of a courageous leader?

  • I am comfortable tackling difficult conversations.
  • I manage behaviors that cause problems.
  • I embrace an environment that fosters open and honest feedback.

If you are feeling especially brave, ask two or three people to assess you or your organization for these courageous leadership traits.

If you score less than a “5” on any of these traits, ask yourself what is preventing you from achieving a “5.” Make a list of ideas for improvement and put them into ACTION!

If you need extra help, Brené Brown’s book Braving the Wilderness offers some tips for becoming a more confident and effective leader.

It’s important to realize that our own behaviors and leadership dictate the degree to which our organization succeeds. Let’s all strive to become the courageous leaders that our organizations, our families, and our communities need.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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Transparency Builds Trust

These days, thinking about the future of your business is confusing at best. But recognize that as a leader, you know more about where your business is headed than you’re telling your team.

Your team probably is worried, fearful, and stressed. Pretending that it’s “business as usual” – when it obviously is not – doesn’t work. You’ll create distrust among your team.

By being transparent, you can ease stress and build trust among your team.

Transparency is key as you lean into uncomfortable conversations with your team. Be transparent about how you are tackling current challenges. Share your short-term vision of success. Establish and communicate new milestones. Acknowledge that making progress toward these milestones is tougher than in the past.

By being transparent, you can ease stress and build trust among your team. Employ empathy as a tool to understand what your team is experiencing and to share a vision of success for the company family. Lead with confidence, but with a dose of  humility. False bravado just won’t cut it.

As leaders we must challenge ourselves to initiate more meaningful and productive communication than ever before.  Now is the time to become the best leader you can be and give the very best you have.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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Revisit Your Dreams

When you began your job as a leader, you probably dreamed about the type of leader you’d become and all that you’d accomplish.  Think back to that dream, however grandiose or naïve. Has any of it actually happened?

Your dream probably reflects the very core of who you are. If you feel disconnected from your dream, it’s not too late to revisit it. First, try to describe it. In your mind, capture a clear image of that dream. It helps to look at the big picture – step back from the trees and look at the whole forest!

Do your actions move you closer to your dream, or father away?

Studies show that having a clear picture of your dream allows you to create a roadmap to achieving and living this dream. Your daily actions can be baby steps or giant leaps toward your dream. Do your actions move you closer to your dream, or farther away? Think about who you want to be, rather than what you need to do.

Be intentional about how you use your time. I recommend using the Full Focus Planner to keep you on track.

This exercise in dreaming helps me recognize that I am fortunate to live out my dream – equipping you with the tools to make your dreams come true.

Here’s to the dreamers whose actions are transforming their lives and their communities!

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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Four Big Questions To Help You Racalibrate

As a leader, it’s tempting (but unrealistic) to hope that everything will return to normal. Instead, seize this opportunity to recalibrate your personal, team, and company operating models.

Reflect on these questions to get started:

  • What personal qualities do you bring to the table today that you should carry into the future? Maybe you have become more focused, or communicated with your team more clearly during the disruption. If those skills helped keep your organization afloat, don’t let them fade away.
  • How, practically, should you hold yourself accountable? How will you ensure that others help hold you accountable? Setting measurable goals and tracking progress have always been part of good leadership, but they are even more essential now. Your transparency will create trust among your team.

The luxury of living in our old comfort zone has been taken away

  • Is your “to do” list holding you back? Try creating a “to be” list to lift you past everyday tasks and point you in a new direction.
  • What have you already done to adapt to your new circumstances? List the changes you’ve made in business operations and identify those that you need to retain. This exercise can also help you feel less overwhelmed by the wave of disruption.

Invite your team to reflect on these questions with you. Recalibrate your expectations of your team and communicate honestly with them.

The luxury of living in our old comfort zone has been taken away. The people you are leading have big expectations of you. They want you to be perfect and often forget that you are human. But the more human you are with them, the more trust and empathy they lend to you. And on this foundation of trust, you can build a successful future.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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Start a “To Be” List, Not a “To Do” List

Like you, many of my clients are at a major inflection point in their organizations. I keep pushing them – and myself – to use this unique opportunity to reimagine our potential, instead of allowing our organizations to return to the comfort of “the way we always did things.”

The CEO should be at the forefront of the push for change, because some work can and should be done only by the CEO.  As a result, CEOs need to be extremely intentional about how they use their time.

Use this time to reimagine your potential, instead of returning to “the way we always did things.”

McKinsey research found that CEOs who focus their scarce time on projects that only the CEO can do, and who manage their energy with the same amount of discipline with which they manage their time, deliver higher performance.

One technique is to create a “to be” list with the same rigor that you develop your “to do” list. A “to be” list can apply to your personal qualities as a leader, or the vision for your entire organization.

As you reflect on the past six months, examine how you’ve already made the impossible happen, including your decision-making processes, resource allocation, communication, and location. By applying this immense effort, you moved your team beyond what you ever imagined could be accomplished.

Decide what you want “to be.” Use you time wisely to create the right future for yourself and your organization.

Sherri Miller, Founder and CEO
Center For Extraordinary Success

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