“Leadership is a balance of many aspects that can build a company into a dynamic force when done correctly or can destroy a lifetime of work if done poorly,” said Jay Perry, owner of Ally Business Coaching and co-author of Success Manifesto, during a recent Guild 21 webinar.
Passionate about the importance of leadership development, Perry addressed some of the relevant issues facing business leaders today:
* Legal compliance: Perry said it takes a village to manage legal compliance, especially with the issue of liability associated with it.
* Diversity in the workforce: This includes cultural influences, religious considerations, age-related issues and language barriers, which can all cause communication problems.
* Consolidations in all industries: When businesses are affected by consolidation, it puts additional pressure on leaders to perform at increasingly higher levels.
* HR challenges: Most are aware of the competition in regards to attracting and retaining good employees. Not only are companies competing with those in their industry, but against other industries as well. There are five generations now active in the current workforce, according to Challenge Factory. This can be a tremendous challenge in the style and form of communication used to address a multi-generational workforce.
* Education: Perry said education has typically lagged when it comes to leadership. “Only now do we see leadership making its way into educational curriculums of a very few select schools,” he said.
Perry said 1.1 million businesses will change hands over the next 10 years. “This will put tremendous pressure on the development of those who are going to take over and also put pressure on those who are currently in charge and have to shepherd that transition,” he said.
The average supervisor is typically in a position of leadership nine years prior to receiving any leadership development training, according to recent research Perry shared. “That is shocking,” he said. “How much damage has been done because of a lack of understanding of the job and being equipped to do the job of the leader? There is a cost associated with poorly-trained leaders.”
He said 30 percent of people who quit their job are actually quitting their boss. He said this creates more than $146 billion annually in turnover costs.
After realizing the serious consequences of not addressing leadership development, Perry was prompted to write the book Success Manifesto, along with Brian Tracy. The book addresses how to master health, wealth and lifestyle and deals with the fundamentals of leadership.
During his Guild 21 presentation, he shared the eight tenets of leadership:
1) Leadership skills can be and are learned abilities
Perry said there is no such thing as a born leader. “Seventy percent of what we know is learned through modeling,” he said. Therefore, the emphasis should be on the type of environment leaders are in and how that environment supports them when learning leadership skills.
Similar to the game of golf, he said you may have certain skills that help your game, but to become really good, you have to invest time and money to develop your skills. “I feel it is very important for those of us who are desiring to improve our leadership or those of us who are in leadership and need to help others, to take this to heart,” said Perry. “If your environment does not provide that education, then seek it out now or if you are in position of responsibility to help others in their development, start to create it so talent can be molded into the right form.”
He stressed the importance of creating a progressive company that values continuing education for advancing and rewarding performance.
2) Be very specific in your goals and how you measure your success
“People with clear written goals accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine,” said Perry. When it comes to leadership development, he said it’s imperative that goals are outlined in detail so progress and effectiveness can be measured.
The goals might be associated with KPIs such as employment engagement, retention, reviews and exit interviews. He encouraged all shops to be open-minded, listen carefully and take notes. “There will be nuggets of gold and information in these reviews,” said Perry. “Without goals that can help measure your progress, you’ll wander aimlessly, wasting a lot of time and money.”
3) Stay humble and practice active listening
In order to be an effective leader, active listening is a necessary trait. “It allows us to access empathy and have a better understanding of those around us,” said Perry. “Active listening is actually bringing concentrative powers to bear so you can repeat or rephrase back to a speaker what was just said to you.” This helps the other person realize that they are being listened to. However, he said it can be very difficult to put into practice. This is because we speak at 120 words per minute; however, a person listens at 400 words a minute.
“What are you doing with that surplus capacity for thought? I know you are forming thoughts because it must be filled. But I don’t know what the thoughts are unless you are working on repeating or rephrasing back what I just said.”
He said another important factor is the conditioned learning that has taught us to go into “solution mode” as soon as someone speaks to us. From an early age, most of us were rewarded for coming up with the right answer.
“Without bringing concentrative powers and focusing on how we are going to rephrase back to a person what they have said, we will miss a lot of their content,” said Perry. “We will also set up for ourselves a defensive posture that defends our existing beliefs and not being open to a potential variation that could bring benefits to us in our organization.”
4) Follow up
There are many benefits to following up. Perry said it is a key attribute that will keep people on track and improve a leader’s image. “It actually improves our image and the perception our followers have of us,” he said. Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, a revered thought leader, said that follow up shows you care about getting better and you value the opinions of coworkers. Goldsmith found that following up changed the perception followers had of a leader. The effectiveness of those leaders was perceived to improve even though the only difference in their behavior was they followed up with their charges. He said the benefits of following up include the reinforcement of content you have shared, improving the perceptions of what others have of you as a leader and keeping others on track.
5) Procrastination can derail many people
Although procrastination can contribute to the downfall of many people, Perry said it doesn’t have to derail you. Instead, it can be managed by using what he called “touchpoints.” By setting the way we plan for ourselves and our charges, we can move things back on track. We do this through touch points—setting interim goals to measure progress along the journey. He recommended planning projects to include touch points for ourselves and those who work for us.
6) Success is accomplished in small doses like a brick wall is built one brick at a time
Whether you’re building a successful career, business or relationship, Perry said there is no magic bullet. “If it came in a bottle, everyone would have it,” he said. “What sets people up for failure in this area is they believe there’s one special thing and if they can tap into it they would be successful leader.” Instead, it takes investment, time, money and blood, sweat and tears.
He said we have become acclimated to an instant society where we can get everything we want overnight and sometimes the same day. Leadership development on the other hand doesn’t work that way. It takes time and it’s critical to be patient. This is where guidance from professionals who do this on a regular basis can be worthwhile.
7) Provide for others the opportunity for growth and a supportive pathway to realize advancement
It’s important to create pathways at your organization so you don’t lose good employees. One way to do this is to design a career path for people so they have the opportunity to move upward. This might mean technical training that could eventually lead to top recognition. You can also offer routes to advancement that may lead to other positions in the organization. Finally, take the time to plan with your employees and get them involved under your guidance. “If you take into account that it’s their future and nobody is more interested in it than they are, then they should be involved,” said Perry. This is especially true when dealing with younger workers who are open to doing multiple things throughout their careers. However, it can also apply to older workers who might require more challenging settings or take on a variety of jobs.
8) Look for aptitude and glimpses of leadership ability in others, and then nurture and mentor it
Perry said to pay close attention to specific aptitudes that your employees will display on occasion. These can be developed with certain techniques and methodologies. “You’re looking for the initiators people look up to, even if they don’t have the title,” said Perry. These are often the “go-to” people in your organization. There are certain ways to go about doing this. First, Perry highly recommended having employees assessed. “It is a fantastic way to discover many useful things about them as well as making leadership investment a little more secure,” he said. Relatively inexpensive, there are a variety of assessments available that will identify and validate the process. It’s often helpful to obtain professional assistance in this area. Consulting with human resources experts, whether internal or external, can also be valuable. If they are forward-thinking individuals, they will be able to share ideas on how to improve efficiencies and boost profits.
Born in Canada to a family of entrepreneurs in the automotive field, Perry ran a multi-million-dollar collision-repair business in Toronto, Ontario before he was 30. He has served on boards of directors and advisory councils including NABC, State Farm Collision Advisory Board and the CCIF Steering Committee. Perry now runs Ally Business Coaching, a North American leadership coaching company that assists shops with process improvement and leadership development.
Perry said the company’s mission is to build great leaders inside great companies. “We do it every day and see the profitably of companies increase as the contributions of the developing leaders start to take hold and they move toward becoming superstar leaders,” said Perry. He and Tracy offer several programs that address different levels of leadership goals.
He also sends out a daily tweet with a leadership thought. Follow on twitter: @jerryperryally