I’ve been a leadership consultant for almost a decade. Through thousands of hours of trial and tribulation, success and failure, and many late nights; I have honed my craft to what’s impactful – and what isn’t – in the realm of strategic leadership and organizational health. Fortunately, demand is growing but I’m facing a very different challenge. There’s only one of me.
Before long, I could be stretched beyond my capacity. Now my late nights are focused on what to do. Should I take action and change my business model; or should I maintain my current course and potentially burnout or, worse yet, lose relevancy and effectiveness for my clients?
My Personal “Fork in the Road”
That was the conundrum facing me in November of last year. I obviously didn’t want to risk burnout and ineffectiveness. So I did something about it. With a goal of building skilled and comparable capacity, I recruited top-level consultants to participate in a ‘consulting certification’ program based on the Strategic and Organizational Leadership (SAOL™) methodology which I developed and now successfully practice.
Then I started identifying and refining the type of senior management engagements I was seeking with new clients. And to help eliminate projects that I considered to be outside of my leadership scope, I updated and upgraded my marketing and website with more targeted branding, messaging and communication. Mind you, these changes weren’t easy and they certainly didn’t happen overnight. But I knew I had to change the game – my game – if I was going to remain relevant, competitive and have a chance at long-term sustainability. Otherwise, complacency would get the better of me.
Keep Up or Be Left Behind – It is a Conscious Choice
Let’s face it. We live in an extremely competitive world where things literally change overnight. Today’s “must-have” is tomorrow’s “old hat.” As a result, organizations – and its employees – are struggling to keep up, much less survive.
Compare this to the instant you put your foot on the brake; someone is looking to pass you up and literally take your spot. Think about your work commute to know what I’m talking about.
Work is no exception. At the end of the day, it’s not about “watching your back.” It’s about consciously “upping your game” and embracing today’s organizational demands. So how do we maintain a healthy sense of urgency and activity without going overboard?
How to . . . Know When to Hold ‘em, Know When to Fold ‘em
Kenny Rogers sang these words in the song “The Gambler”. While I don’t think he was talking about leadership development, he was talking about the insight to know when to make changes.
And therein lays the quandary. How as an individual, team or organization do you know when – and what – to change? A good starting point is reviewing your skills or business model to determine what elements you can:
- Maintain and Stabilize
- Optimize and Improve
- Grow and Expand
But wait! Before you “dive in” examining your life or business, you must FIRST clarify goals and expectations (yours and others.) Without a clear goal and purpose, it’s easy to fall into the trap of just doing for doing’s sake.
Refine Your Insight
Here are some relevant questions to answer before you can identify what to maintain, optimize or grow.
- Are you clear on your goals?
- Do you know what success looks like for your role or business?
- Do you know what success looks like for your ‘client’? In this case, your ‘client’ could be either internal or external, such as your manager or a company prospect.
Miss the mark here and you will quickly tailspin into the land of irrelevancy. Think of it this way. Confusion around goals and success is like a sailor, in thick fog, trying to find land without a lighthouse.
My purpose and direction for The Rubi Ho Group boils down to: Successfully helping organizations build the business by championing organizational health and performance. For me, I do everything under the realm of leadership consulting to strive towards that mark. That mission serves as my compass and my ‘lighthouse’ when it comes to serving organizations and its leaders.
Executing Maintain, Optimize or Grow
Now let’s dive in.
What to Maintain
Identify what’s truly working for you or your organization and proactively ensure that it stays that way. Ask yourself:
- What part of your role is working well enough to fit into the “maintain” category?
- Who can help you determine this if you cannot answer this question for yourself?
Once you have an objective perspective of your strengths, establish practices and procedures that allow you to ‘touch’ these areas frequently, so you never lose sight of what’s working.
In my case, our Strategic and Organizational Leadership (SAOL) methodology is a strength. It’s performing well across industry, size and structure. And it’s dynamic, practical, adaptable and agile in helping organizations and their leaders diagnose and resolve pain points in ways that are workable for them.
What to Optimize
Are there any areas that need improvement? How about in your working relationships? What about in your leadership and/or personal growth? When it comes to ‘optimization’ you must be willing to take an extremely holistic, 360 degree perspective of yourself.
The old adage of ‘there is always room for improvement’ is true but it takes discipline to actually live it out. For a healthy perspective, make ‘optimization’ relevant by truly identifying areas that are holding you back from becoming what I call your ‘highest self.’ You can start by asking yourself:
- What current part of your role needs a serious ‘face lift’?
- What part of your role, if optimized, would lead to higher output, more efficiency, or help to elevate your presence as a key contributor or leader?
My website was extremely outdated and no longer reflective of my service, the client’s experience, and the SAOL methodology. Yes, it was functional. But it was drastically missing the mark in terms of creating a consistent and compelling message. This was my area for a serious face-lift. It actually helped me grow in other areas of branding and messaging as I worked through how I wanted to portray myself and my group.
What to Grow
Growth is always a good thing. It allows us to adapt; build discipline; stay ahead of the curve. On the flip side, it can also be extremely challenging and hard. The key to productive growth is staying focused on your goals and leveraging them as your motivation on this journey. So get ready for some self-introspection and ask yourself the following:
- Where do you need to grow in your role? Ask yourself and others.
- What part of your role could most benefit from experiencing growth? What would be the benefits to you, your team and your organization?
As I’ve shared, my conundrum was to remain a “one-man-show” or expand. Maintaining status quo wasn’t going to work long term for me, my family or my clients. I had to grow and optimize. It wasn’t an easy transition but it needed to be done. Looking back, expanding capacity with the SAOL Certified Consultant team and upgrading my branding and messaging were some of the best things I could have done. And I did it in a healthy manner with clear goals and success criteria driving these changes.
My Leadership Challenges to You
I challenge –no, implore – you to strike the word “complacency” from your vocabulary. Or suffer the consequences!
You can start your journey by spending a minimum of 2 hours (Yes, it’s that important) over the next few weeks to examine your role and determine:
- What and where you can better maintain, optimize and grow.
- Who you can calibrate and share your plan with to ensure you’re hitting the mark.
Certainly, whether you accept this challenge is your decision. What you decide, though, will say everything about where you are in your personal leadership development. Go get ‘em!