Leadership Skills and Manager Tools for High-Performance Business

Consulting Tools and Frameworks

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You can build a business and get bruised on the road of experience and hard knocks. Or you can build a business built for high-performance based on critical leadership skills and manager tools.

Build using the right leadership skills and manager tools and you get,

  • Work and life in balance
  • Clarity and a feeling of ease
  • Feelings of accomplishment
  • Recognition and reward

Follow the long road of hard knocks and you get,

  • Overtime and stress
  • Lack of focus and direction
  • Wasting time and resources
  • Nagging questions

The statistics on business failure are dismal. Whether it’s a startup business or building a career in big business. Most startups fail and many business professionals don’t know how or where to contribute their strengths.

To succeed you have to be very, very lucky, or you have to know the leadership skills and manager tools that are critical to success.

Leadership Skills and Manager Tools at Three Levels

There are three levels of contributors to building a high-performance business,

  • Founders and Executives
  • Managers
  • Subject Matter Experts

People at each level contribute their insights and work in every pillar. Without success at every level the business cannot sustain success.

Leadership Skills and Manager Tools Don’t Need an MBA

To apply the Seven Pillars of Success listed below you don’t have to be a Wharton MBA or Harvard MBA.

Critical to Success condenses valuable leadership skills and manager tools used in strategic management. Critical to Success combines theories and insights from business greats like Peter Drucker and Michael Porter with the real-world practices from business gurus like Steve Blank and Robert Cialdini.

Critical to Success is meant to be concise and quickly applicable. The formats, toolkits, and techniques come from the thirty-plus (30+) years of IT, strategic management, and consulting experience of the founder of Critical to Success.

Leadership Skills and Manager Tools Don’t Need Charisma

Business success doesn’t require the charisma of Steve Jobs or the drive of General Patton. Most successful organizations are built by people who aren’t big-name personalities. These successful people know how to choose the right strategy, execute it, and build success. Becoming a mega-personality was not part of the plan.

Bill Hewlett built Hewlett-Packard based on his concern for engineers and customers.  William McKnight made 3M a household name through innovation. George Merck saved millions in Africa because he believed “Medicine is for people, not for profits.”

Although their companies have changed, they were known for what they did, not for their charisma. They didn’t build great companies using personal charisma, they built great companies using leadership skills and manager tools that are critical to success.

Seven Pillars to a High-Performance Business

Whether you are a Global 100 corporation, a business department, a startup, or a solo professional, you need seven pillars of strategic management to build a high-performance business or advance a high-performance career,

  • Know the Niche
  • Map Your Business Dynamics and Profit Models
  • Define Your Strategy and Tactics
  • Test and Pivot
  • Align on Realistic, Measurable Stretch Goals
  • Execute with High-Performance
  • Grow a Culture of Agility and Learning

The first five pillars come quickly. With the right sets of leadership skills and manager tools it’s fun and easy to identify your niche, map your business, test, and define a clear strategy and tactics within eight weeks or less. The last two of the seven pillars, Execution and Growth, are an ongoing process of learning and growth. The loop is: Grow, Analyze, Learn, Adapt. (GALA) Don’t break the loop!

Know Your Niche

To succeed you must know yourself, your core strengths, and what success means to you. Multiple research projects have shown it’s better to build on and leverage your strengths than it is to spend time improving weaknesses.

Your customers are critical. Whether you are a Global 100 company, an accounting department, or an online startup, you must know your customer’s journey, their pains, their hopes, their gains, and what triggers their decisions.

Your competitors create barriers and opportunities. Identify their flaws and strengths and you will find the niches you can dominate.

Leadership Skills and Manager Tools

  • For personal mastery, there are two assessments that are excellent for identifying your strengths and work styles. (I’ll identify these later.)
  • Profile your customer needs, wants, and triggers with a market-based persona or avatars
  • Map your customer’s journey and customer value proposition showing their needs, triggers, and Calls to Action at each stage.
  • Segment and identify high-value customers vital to each stage of your strategy.
  • Complete a competitive analysis and Ansoff matrix then create the competitive landscape map that highlights where you can own a niche.

Map Your Business Dynamics and Profit Models

Map the dynamics of business. Be able to see where customers enter through different channels, how your teams and partners add value, where costs add, and revenues build. The business map allows you and your team to hypothesis the best business model for your business or department.

Use robust Excel financial models to test assumptions about expense and revenue opportunities. With the flexibility of Excel’s formulas, as well as the included dashboards you can build a solid business case.

Leadership Skills and Manager Tools

  • Create purpose, vision statement, mission statement, and value statement that guide people’s actions and the culture they want to represent.
  • Complete a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (trends).
  • Map a visual schema (model) of your business showing customer channels, materials intake, partners, resources, workflow, and value creation.
  • Use the visual business schema (model) to hypothesize changes and think through “What If” scenarios.
  • Use a robust financial model in Excel to test a variety of profit and sales models.

Define Your Strategy and Tactics

Your strategy and tactics make your business unique. There are only so many strategic themes in the business world, such as high-quality, low-cost, image, etc. But, it is the combination of your strategic theme and the execution of your unique tactics that create success.

Leadership Skills and Manager Tools

  • Identify the Strategic Themes that make your brand unique and create a defensible moat.
  • Draw a Strategy Map to show who and how to drive strategic objectives.
  • Build a consensus around Tactical Action Plans to break strategic objectives into projects, timeframes, and responsibilities.

Test and Pivot

The business world is accelerating. The internet is powering this acceleration, but the internet also makes it easy to test our strategy and products and pivot in new directions.

Leadership Skills and Manager Tools

  • Quick Wins are a proven method of testing, gaining stakeholder buy-in, and capturing budget within existing businesses or departments.
  • Minimum Viable Products (MVP), are essential in new startups and online businesses as a way of testing a business hypothesis, capturing customer feedback, and then pivoting to a more valuable direction.
  • Pivot into a new strategy and product/service using the feedback from your Quick Wins or MVPs.

Align on Realistic, Measurable Stretch Goals

A well-designed strategy and tactical action plan includes input and buy-in at all levels. Without buy-in and alignment, your strategy and action plans will disintegrate. I guarantee it. I’ve seen it too many times. To monitor progress, you must measure and manage with realistic stretch goals. You need goals and target metrics at every level.

Leadership Skills and Manager Tools

  • Use a well-defined methodology to identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
  • For every KPI a counter-check is often needed, e.g., revenue and sales margin.
  • Display KPIs in dynamic reports and dashboards using software as simple as Excel with CSV downloads. You may want to step-up to the newer Business Intelligence tools that are affordable, easy-to-learn, and device independent.

Execute with High-Performance

The first five pillars are often thought-provoking and filled with opportunity. However, it’s this sixth pillar, execution, that creates real-world success.

You must have three skills and tools for high-performance execution; a Tactical Action Plan, project management, and professional productivity skills (not simple, hamster-in-the-wheel time management).

Leadership Skills and Manager Tools

  • Teach project management and agile methods for non-PMI business professionals.
  • Promote easy-to-use online or Excel-based agile methods or project management tools.
  • Supercharge managers and professionals by teaching them time and productivity methods that match their styles.

Nurture a Culture of Agility and Learning

Nurture a culture of learning and transparent communication if you want your people and teams to grow and adapt.

Leadership Skills and Manager Tools

  • Use standardized meeting templates to eliminate and reduce dead time.
  • Promote rapid presentation techniques.
  • Use continuous performance reviews.
  • Promote learning to learn.

Critical to Success is dedicated to helping you build your business and career