Micro-Essays on Life, Leadership and Career Development
Annette Verschuren spearheaded multi-million dollar privatization deals for the federal government, lead Home Depot Canada’s multi-billion expansion, and co-founded Michaels Canada. When it comes to leadership and career insight, Annette’s advice is practical and proven.
Below are a series of micro-essays offering insight into what it means to lead — your business and your life — in the twenty-first century.
What do you stand for?
We are leading in a time of unprecedented change and complexity. In the midst of this rapid change, a leader must stand firm in his or her resolve. From where do you draw this strength? From within.
Spend time investigating your deeply held values. These are the anchors that keep you strong yet flexible in the face of complexity. My values are rooted in family, team work, tenacity, pragmatism and the intersection of profitability and environmental sustainability. These values are my “baseline”. What are your values?
For more on how to get clear on your values-centered “baseline”:
Forget about absolutes. Focus on continuous improvement.
Polarization is bad for business and it goes against the nature of workplace experience. People, situations and opportunities are rarely “all good” or “all bad.” Approaching business with this attitude — I call it the Good/Bad Blindfold, impedes your ability to lead and inspire your team, and drive consistent results.
Forget about good, bad or other absolutes. In business and in life, what matters the most is getting better.
To learn more about how adopting the Good/Bad blindfold can wreak havoc on your career:
It’s not about your brilliant plan.
I often find that new leaders worry too much about creating a brilliant plan. They pour so much time and energy into strategy that they have little left in the tank for what should be the top priority: execution.
I’ll always take a decent plan that is brilliantly executed over a brilliant plan that is poorly executed. Over the course of an entire project, I recommend you spend no more than 10% of your time planning. The rest of your time should be spent on executing: taking action, gathering feedback, pivoting where necessary, taking the next step forward. Few plans survive their encounters with reality. Your best bet is to focus on execution.
For more tips on how to be a solid business “operator”:
Make it fun, do it together.
Our culture is obsessed with the idea of the brilliant, lone wolf entrepreneur. The biggest achievements, however, are almost always created by teams of people working together. At its core, your job as a leader is to inspire, coordinate and support the efforts of a group of people to work together as a cohesive unit in order to achieve an important goal.
You know you need a vision and that you’ll need to become a master delegator. Here’s something you might not have heard before: make it fun.
Fun is hands down the most important and underused tool for promoting teamwork. Laugh, be relentlessly positive, notice and compliment effort, celebrate results. And most importantly, become a champion and guardian of team.
Then watch the payoff express itself in your bottom line.