Self-leadership: Building a Leadership Foundation

leadership-underconstruction

Leadership Under Construction

Although many would agree that leadership starts with leading yourself well, they want to know, “What are the practical steps I can take to improve my self-leadership?” I would suggest the first step involve a self-evaluation and personal inventory. Achieving clarity on the following questions can help build that solid foundation from which to grow self-leadership:

 

  1. What do I stand for?
  2. What do I value?
  3. What am I good at and what am I not?
  4. Am I following my passion?
  5. Is my personal vision clear?
  6. Am I excited in what I do and whom I do it with?
  7. Am I making decisions that honor everyone?

Bill Hybels (2009) mentions that great leaders embody several key traits. After addressing the “what and how” questions, a deeper dive into personal characteristics will continue that self-leadership inventory.  On a continuum, leaders should ask themselves which traits they hold strongly and which ones they want to develop further?

  1. Integrity
  2. Optimism
  3. Decisiveness
  4. Courage
  5. Wisdom
  6. Emotional authenticity
  7. Commitment to collaboration

The self-evaluation goal is to become self-full, which is to attend to oneself in a way that allows one to lead self and others well.  At times, leaders can extend themselves so far and for so long that they exhaust themselves and are then not able to give others their best.  Therefore, leaders should ask themselves, “Where will I focus my attention and where will I not?” Leaders cannot be all things to all people and should understand their limits. Leaders benefit by scheduling downtime to work on self-leadership and keep themselves energized.

Reference

Hybels, B. (2009). Courageous Leadership. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

 

 

Leadership: Ten Strategies to Build a Winning Sales Career

Sales ABC

On occasion we get asked, “What one piece of advice would you give a person who has just accepted his or her first sales position?”  That is truly an unfair question.   How do you boil down the essence of sales leadership into one slice of a whole pie?  However, that question is worth an answer.  Our best response would be, “Engage a coach.” Why? Because partnering with a sales coach can build a firm foundation to use as a springboard towards success.

We would expect a coach to help you leverage the following:

  1. Define measurable goals: Select several meaningful one, three, and five-year goals that focus on financial targets and personal growth. Without measurable goals you won’t know the direction you’re headed or whether you’ve arrived at your destination.  People without defined goals typically meander and become disappointed in their lack of results.
  2. Focus on a vertical market: Good sales people are not all things to all customers. What area are you most passionate?  Join an association in that market and become the “go to” expert.  Consider certification or accreditation to bolster your expertise.  Make sure to understand the emerging trends and have a plan to take advantage of the opportunities and to navigate through the threats.
  3. Understand your customers: Ask powerful questions of your customers so you clearly understand their needs and what keeps them up at night. Be the solution seeker and problem-solver by offering answers that address their needs.  Customers partner with sales people who create and offer value.
  4. Know your competition: Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Strategize how you can navigate the competitive landscape to take advantage of their weaknesses by driving on your strengths.
  5. Build trust among your customers and industry colleagues: People do not do business with others whom they don’t trust unless there are no other options. Make decisions and exhibit behaviors that garnish trust.
  6. Leverage social media: Set up a LinkedIn profile that reflects who you are and what you offer. Share and publish articles that are relevant to your customers. Make sure your public Facebook represents what you want customers to know about you.  Be sure to clean up your social media of any “unwanted” posts.
  7. Establish a personal brand: When your name is mentioned in industry circles, what one phrase would you want to come to mind: “gets it done,” “always looks for the win-win,” or “sales leadership expert.”  Develop a personal brand based on your best assets.
  8. Grow your leadership: Learn from the best, get a mentor, and practice leadership.  One of the most powerful annual leadership conferences we attend is Global Leadership Summit (https://www.willowcreek.com/events/leadership).  Strong leadership will not only build your sales it will build your life.
  9. Become a servant leader: Give of your time, talents, and treasures without expecting anything in return. When you do, don’t be surprised how people will respond to you.  People will want to spend time with you, recommend you, and help you be successful.

And last, but not least, you can always benefit by going back to school to…

  1. Relearn your ABC’s (Always Be Connecting): Selling is about connecting and one person saying “yes” to another. People rarely say “yes” to people whom they don’t like or trust. Spend time with your customers in casual settings getting to know them on both a professional and personal level.  Your calendar should be populated with customer lunch dates.

Every seasoned salesperson has one or two special secrets of the trade that may have contributed to their success; however, these fundamental strategies will build a solid sales career over a lifetime. Although every salesperson can try to implement these practices on their own, most would benefit from having a sales coach who can keep them accountable.


About the Authors:

HE21118Davis_07-medSandra Dillon is a professional coach and leadership consultant with an extensive background in sales and new business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops on current business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

Darin headshotDarin Dillon is a Certified Protection Professional (CPP), 30+ year business development veteran, and active leader in the electronic security and integrated systems industry.  As a business leader, he has a passion for developing long-term customer partnerships and providing solutions to Fortune 1000 companies across many vertical markets. He can be reached at ddillon14@hotmail.com or 713.204.7035.

Leadership Starts with Self-Awareness

leadership selfawarenessMany clients want to know how they can become better leaders.  My typical response is to answer this question with a question: “Where would you start?”  Clients respond with “improve my communication skills,” “have a clear vision,” “give better direction,” and “build stronger relationships.”  No doubt all of these answers have elements that can contribute toward improved leadership.  Yet, these answers leave people still wondering, “How do I really start the process?”

I propose that a serious effort to grow leadership capacity starts with an honest self-assessment.  Until a client understands who he* is and how he shows up in the world, he will be challenged to sustain leadership growth. People should be aware of where they are, where they want to stand, and how large of a gap exists between the two.  A deep-dive into self-awareness allows one to determine how he presents himself to others, which reflects a combination of worldview, skills/competencies, knowledge, attitudes, and appearance/behaviors.  Clients need to appreciate how each dimension works for and against their ability to influence, so they can choose to change in ways that drives toward increased leadership.

As an example, a sales person struggles with securing new clients and business growth.  One of my priorities as a leadership coach is to help him understand his worldview, which reflects how he believes the world works or should work.  Where does he land on the continuum of “fate plays a major role in my life” versus “I control my destiny”?  If the client tends more toward fate, he may stop pursuing a relationship with a prospective client sooner than a salesperson who believes he controls his destiny.  The sales person, who believes he strongly influences his outcome, may not as readily accept defeat and find other creative strategies to bring on the customer.  Another worldview perspective to consider is “people must earn my trust” versus “people are inherently trustworthy”?  How might a sales person, who embraces either extreme, be perceived by a potential customer?  Answers to these and other worldview questions will likely determine how a sales person engages in the sales process and with his customers.

Worldview is only one dimension that influences leadership growth.  I encourage clients to take a deep dive self-assessment in the other dimensions. Once a client has established a personal baseline and defined his leadership goals, he can work through the change process.  Focusing on purposeful change to improve leadership also helps to build learning agility, which is an important skill to be competitive in today’s global market.

*[”he” or “his” as personal pronouns are also intended to reflect “she” and “her”]


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees. Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

Coaching: How to Calculate Your Return on Investment

Coaching ROI 10Have you thought about the return on investment (ROI) of personal coaching? I would probably guess not as this investment decision is somewhat analogous to the early days of personal computers.  With every new product or service, there is a small portion of the population who are the early adopters.  In the case of computers, they were likely the technology gurus, who were excited to upgrade their TI or HP hand-held calculators for 256 kB of desktop memory.  I propose this analogy parallels personal coaching.  There is a small portion of the population who are driven towards self-improvement, so hiring a coach is a no-brain decision.  What about the others?

In the early 1980’s, when IBM computers were first launched, companies struggled with the financial decision of whether to buy their employees personal computers. They intuitively knew their employees would be more productive, but did not grasp how to calculate a ROI.  Is personal coaching following the same path? Most people believe they would benefit from coaching, but they struggle with how to justify it.

How much would you pay for coaching services if you thought you would get promoted within the year, add an extra 10% to your base salary that carries forward for 20 years, or have more job opportunities?  What value would you place on coaching services that solidified your performance in a position where you felt overwhelmed? Can you calculate that value and weigh it against the cost?  What about the intangible benefits such as greater fulfillment and your impact on others.  An increase in your leadership abilities helps others lead better.  Accurately measuring all the downstream benefits would prove difficult, so I suggest focusing on what can be measured and let the unquantifiable extras be the cherry on top of the sundae.

My 5-step process to calculate coaching ROI involves answering a series of basic questions to define the opportunity, determine the gap, measure the performance, and calculate the value.  These steps are:

  1. Define the need/opportunity and determine the gap
    • What specifically do you want to accomplish?
    • What is your baseline?
    • How big is the gap?
  2. Calculate the benefit
    • What are the parameters that need to be addressed that will deliver value?
    • What is the quantifiable value if the performance gap is closed?
    • Is the growth in value linear, exponential, or binary?
  3. Develop a coaching approach
    • What is the coaching strategy and tactics to achieve the target?
    • How will progress be measured (the metrics)?
    • How frequently will progress be measured?
    • Who will be responsible for collecting and reporting the data?
  4. Implement the coaching plan
    • What is working well?
    • What needs to be adjusted to meet target?
    • What is the interim analysis and value?
  5. Calculate the ROI
    • What is the total cost?
    • What is the monetary value of the improvement?
    • What is the ROI (net benefits/coaching costs)?

Putting this model into practical use, a client may have a goal to develop and lead more effective project meetings.  After a review of the client’s work and process, the coaching plan may focus on strategies and tactics to improve preparation, organization, and execution that results in fewer, shorter, and less attendees needed at all meetings.  The costs savings is easily calculated by the reduced man-hours in meetings multiplied by salaries over the project life.  The true cost savings are immeasurable as the upgrade in the client’s skills will carry forward into future projects.

When was the last time you attended a meeting and wished the meeting leader was better at preparing himself and the team as well as more effective in leading the meeting and staying on task? Ask me how I can help? The ROI is off the charts.


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops that address her clients’ business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

Design Your Life Postcard

Henry Travel PostcardSince September 2010, my friend, Henry, and I have been exchanging postcards on a weekly basis.  No, we aren’t on the road traveling, only living life within commuting distance from our hometowns. Some weeks I receive just 1 postcard, and other weeks I might find 4-7 postcards in my mailbox.  The quantity depends on the weather and how many miles Henry wants to walk to drop these little slivers of life news into the post office mail slot.

If the number of postcards stacked in our dresser drawers were counted, in truth, Henry would win our contest started nearly 7 years ago.  Although Henry has been more faithful in writing, I still contend I have the neater penmanship.  In this contest, however, we are both winners by investing in our friendship through this thoughtful ritual.

You might say, “That’s a lot of writing!  What do you write about?”  Some postcards are from our worldly travels, but mostly they reflect words of what we are thinking, observing, struggling with, and celebrating.  It’s an opportunity for each of us in the peace of our day to stop, put pen to paper, and reflect on our lives, days, thoughts, and feelings.  For me, it is an opportunity to randomly select a postcard from my inventory from past travels and reminisce.  Many times, I find myself feeling grateful that I was able to travel to such a destination to buy that postcard.

Today, I received the above postcard sent by my friend of over 35 years.  On the back, Henry wrote, “This is the PERFECT POSTCARD for your life!  Or close to it!  I don’t know if you take cream in your coffee, and we might swap the hammock, invented in the Amazon Rainforest, with a mission group, and the NYC Union Square Street grid for Bogota!  But otherwise, good!” [Note: I used to take cream and sugar in my coffee, until I forced myself to drink it black to save calories.]

As I studied the postcard with all its items spread across the table, I did agree with Henry that this postcard reflected what I would want in my life and never tire.  Give me a camera, iPhone (Bible App, Facebook, LinkedIn and call connection), my coffee, my itineraries, and the postcards that are the markers of my life lived.  I ask you, “If you drew a postcard representing the life you dreamed of, what would be on it?”  I would then ask whether this postcard looked much different than a postcard drawn of your current life.  How big is the gap?  As a coach, I encourage you to create a postcard of your dream!  Make multiple copies of it!  Frame it! Tape it to your mirror and frig!  Talk about it!  And don’t forget to act on it!


HE21118Davis_07-medAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  She can be reached at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741.

Three Big Questions That Can Determine Your Future

Future NowPeople have a propensity to concentrate most of their thoughts and energy into either the past, present, or future, with their preferred time realm a result of a complicated set of personal circumstances and experiences.  Without having thought much about this concept and its implications, we tend to behave in ways that align with our preferred time perspective. The first BIG question we should ask ourselves: In what time dimension are the majority of my thoughts and conversations directed?

A disadvantage of focusing too much on the past is that it cannot be changed or rewritten.  The past is valuable and should be honored for the learnings it provides and how it shapes our current wisdom.  However, if not put in its proper perspective, the past can be like a thief who robs us of creating a future.  Our future is still unscripted, full of limitless possibilities, and may only lack a destination and path to get there.

Those who primarily focus their thoughts and decisions in the present tend to react to their immediate circumstances.  They may enjoy living in the present but be unsure of what tomorrow holds.  Thinking of and seriously planning for the future can feel both thrilling and unsettling with a heaviness of responsibility.  Because it seems so overwhelming, some shy away from this responsibility.  They fail to realize that their future will be created from both decision and indecision.  The second BIG question we should ask ourselves: What time realm am I committed to work in? 

As a coach, I encourage my clients to dream big about their future—get a vision—one that has color and builds excitement.  People need a clear vision, because the necessary ingredients of hard work and sacrifice to achieve that future do not come easy.  It is unlikely that anyone would deny pleasure in the present for an undefined greater reward in the future.  The third BIG question we should ask ourselves: What painful decision will I make today to have the reward of my dreamed tomorrow? 

Regardless of our faith, most people would agree that life is a finite gift which comes with no instructions and plenty of responsibility.  Whether we accept that responsibility or not, our decisions of today create our life of tomorrow. When we decide to focus more on our future, a coach can be a partner who helps us through that process.


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including leadership, life purpose/plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  She can be reached at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741.

Pulled in Many Directions? What Do You Tackle First?

WhatYouShouldFocusOn

By world standards, Americans lead busy lives? Why? Some believe unknowingly, yet with good intentions, we have jumped on the hamster wheel in pursuit of those things we thought would make us happy. How are we doing? By many accounts, not as well as we had hoped. How are we feeling? Most people would answer, “Stressed!” Some people may have achieved a few of their goals but feel exhausted. Others are still struggling to reach a destination but have run out of energy. Has the time come to re-evaluate what you should pursue and find the best path forward?

Frankly, some people expend a lot of energy worrying and trying to influence other people and events, yet never realized they had little ability to influence these areas from the start. These same people are depleted of the energy to focus on those things that bring them fulfillment and which they can affect the outcome. Instead, everything becomes a priority. When people feel pulled in too many directions, typically very little gets accomplished. Frustration and stress can lead to poor health, attitude, and in some cases poor relationships.

One of the first steps towards more successful living is to get clarity on priorities.  Priorities are usually reflected in those things we feel most stressed about when they are not meeting our expectations. When I have clients, who feel overwhelmed with too much on their life plate and not knowing where to start, I suggest the following initial step:

  • Brainstorm and write a list of all those things you are feeling stressed about and why? [Note: Sometimes self-reflection on the “why” aspect may diminish the stress as you put it in perspective.]
  • Categorize each stressor on whether it is a high or low stress in your life. [Note: Use the full scale; force-rank the list if necessary; not everything can be labeled as high.]
  • Reflect and categorize each stressor as high or low in your ability to influence its change.

Review the list and identify those items that are both a high stressor and where you have a high degree of influence to change.  Those are the stressors or priorities you should focus your time and energy in order to achieve greater peace and satisfaction.  This approach can be useful in all areas of life. When you have set your priorities, a coach can help you develop an actionable plan to change your stressors to “successors.”


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  

 

Coaching: Turning Potential Energy into Kinetic Energy

Many people ask me what I do as a leadership and life coach since the occupation of coaching has typically only been associated with sports, voice, and acting professions.  At its core, coaching is about setting a vision for some area of your life such as career, business, finances, and marriage and then determining what actionable steps you will take to achieve defined goals that will move you toward that vision.  A coach is your partner, who helps you navigate through that process with assessments, constructive dialogue, input, and feedback, as well as holdingBest Version you accountable to your commitments.

A coach will help you uncover your core values, your strengths/weaknesses, and challenge you in how to use those strengths to get want you want.   Coaches will help you develop the best version of yourself.  They can help you cast vision, build teams, set goals, solve problems, and lead others.  People “get stuck” or just need a “brush up” for a variety of reasons, and a coach can help convert your potential energy (resting) into kinetic energy (moving), so you can thrive and move forward.

Since coaching is about forward progress, I believe everyone can benefit from coaching.  Just a sampling of issues that people seek coaching for include:

  • Learn how to communicate more effectively to have more constructive conversations and less conflict
  • Build stronger team and peer relationships to increase work productivity and effectiveness
  • Lead with greater influence to bring out the best in yourself and others
  • Gain greater self-control and see how people respond more positively
  • Find the career path/job that provides greater satisfaction and fulfillment
  • Strengthen your marriage or dating relationship for increased longevity
  • Parent more effectively to build stronger relationships and create greater harmony
  • Develop a financial plan that achieves your long-term goals
  • Learn to prioritize and work towards the things that really matter

If you find yourself questioning or wondering whether you could benefit from coaching in these or other areas of your life, let’s talk.  I invite you to a free 30-minute consultation, where we can discuss what you would like to achieve and whether coaching would be of value.  If interested or even if you want to learn more about coaching, you can reach me at 281.793.3741 or sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com.


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, career, finances, leadership, communication, and premarital/marriage.  

Have You Taken A Conversation Pause Today?

Extroverts have a tendency to interrupt people with their own ideas, opinions, and suggestions, before others have had the chance to finish speaking their thoughts. Extroverts honor the conversation and build stronger relationships, when they give others the space to fully express their message. When people feel they have been fully heard, they are more inclined to respectfully listen in return. Challenge yourself today to be more conscientious of how often you want to or do interrupt others, before they have finished expressing themselves.  As an extrovert, I find it is harder than I thought!



Conversation pause


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  

 

Don’t Let Limiting Beliefs Stand In Your Way!

The operating principle underlying the coaching relationship is the client has the ability to influence a desired outcome. Sometimes the first step may be to self-identify the limiting belief that stands in the way of action.Limiting Beliefs


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.