How much is waste costing your organization? It’s possible you may not have thought much about it before. After all, things are busier than they’ve ever been and we all have our jobs to do. As long as we can get the work done and enough funds are coming in the door, it’s a good day, right?

You’ve heard the old adage “a penny saved is a penny earned.” But consider the following business scenario: if your operating profit is 10% and you are able to eliminate enough waste to lower your costs by 10%, your profits will nearly double without earning any addition revenue. Pennies aren’t worth much in today’s dollars, but add a few zeros on the end and it adds up quickly.

You don’t need to be in a profit-producing role or be Six Sigma certified to be a productivity leader. There’s waste everywhere – in for-profit and non-profit organizations alike – and in every function. It’s a leadership responsibility to identify and drive out waste when we see it.

Money Down Drain

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You don’t have to look far to look far to see the verbal abuse bosses take. Whether it’s water cooler gossip, happy hour banter or social media posts, people aren’t happy with their leader and don’t hold back when telling why. Some are more politically savvy and only think what others say out loud.

Forbes reported recently that as many as two million employees quit their jobs each month. One of the most significant reasons: they dislike their bosses.

It’s only fair to acknowledge that some managers earn their scorn. I should know, one of my jobs as an organizational development consultant is to help make bosses better bosses. I suppose if everyone was already excellent, I’d have less to do. But it’s only fair to give credit where it’s due. So let’s take a closer look at the great things bosses do.

Business Woman

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If you’ve been responsible for delivering business results for any length of time, you’ve probably hit a wall once or twice with people. Someone’s feelings got hurt, another manager is difficult to work with, company politics create unseen landmines, some colleagues disagrees with you and a couple may be out to get you. As often as not, we may be the problem. Additionally, we humans are the ones causing the accidents, forgetting key dates or deliverables, creating ambiguity, making mistakes and communicating poorly. Getting results are tough enough as it is, before we introduce people into the mix!

Automation has added enormous business efficiency over the years and will continue. But it’s important to keep in mind that whatever business we’re in, we’re ultimately in the people business. Since we can’t eliminate the human element (besides, would we really want to?), we’ll have to figure out how to capitalize on it.

The Creation of Man by Michelangelo Sistine Chapel

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As a University of Kansas basketball fan, I’ve never rooted for Duke. But there is a Duke moment that stands out in my memory. It occurred probably 10 or 15 years ago. Duke was in the process of getting upset in the NCAA Tournament. They were playing hard that day but not well. Near the end of the game, the senior star player fouled out, highlighting the frustrating day for everyone. As he exited the floor for the last time as a college athlete, he headed straight for Coach Mike Krzyzewski with tears streaming down his face and the two shared a prolonged embrace.

My first thought was that Coach K must have really messed up his black suit hugging a really sweaty guy (probably a sign that I’d make a terrible basketball coach). The second was how evident the bond between the leader and the followers was that day. It wasn’t an expression of victory, but one of commitment.

Coach K Sideline

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I was asked to sit in on a large group interview several years ago that a group of managers was conducting. There were a handful of openings and they wanted to efficiently select several candidates to move to the next level. I was supposed to provide input after the fact. In hindsight, I think I did more harm than good.

Commission having a Job interview.

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A new year is often a great opportunity for new beginnings. But the truth is, we can get a new start anytime. New jobs, new projects, new goals, new hobbies – the possibilities are endless. When was the last time you started something new? If you’re just getting started now, here’s a game plan to get you moving fast!

Jump Start Cables

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Top 10 Posts from 2014

December 15, 2014 — Leave a comment

It’s been another great year for Everyday Leadership. Visitors stopped by from nearly every country. My Trusted Leadership Advisor ebook finally got posted (check it out, it’s free!). Thanks for making it another a great year!

Here are the top 10 posts from 2014. And incidentally, you can also see the top 10 posts from every other year as well. See you in 2015!

Top 10c

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Who gets to be a leader? From time to time, I hear an someone admonish a group of individuals by saying “you are all leaders.” Other times, I see organizational messaging indicating “leadership” is reserved for a small group of individuals who occupy certain positions. Which is it? Are we all leaders, or only some of us?

And how do we get more leaders in our organizations?

In order to figure that out, we’ve got to start by defining what leadership is begin with.

Chess Leader

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I’ve written before about generosity. It’s one of the greatest antidotes to selfishness there is. Obviously there is no shortage of needs both locally and globally. I’m also convinced that it has never been easier for the everyday leader to get involved.

But the potency of individual generosity is far surpassed by the momentum organizational generosity can build. The difference is teamwork. One person can make a difference. A team can completely alter an outcome altogether.

Whether you lead an organization or not, I’d like to share several of many ways organizations can act generously, whether they earn a profit or not.

Generous Businessman

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Book 3D image v2I’m happy to announce that last week I posted my first ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor: Accelerating the Leadership Journey of Others.

You don’t have to be special to be a leader and you don’t have to be an expert to help other leaders succeed. You can start right now, right where you are.

Trusted Leadership Advisor is a compilation of some of my previous posts on this topic. In the ebook, I show you how to think about your role as a trusted leadership advisor, what to say and how to get started. Take a look – and if you find it helpful, please share it.

I’d also appreciate your feedback. This is my first ebook and I want to know if the format, structure and ideas prove to be helpful for you. You can leave me a comment below or contact me directly.

There’s so much work to do – let’s work together!

One of the things that disappoints me the most is hearing someone tell me they don’t want to be a leader. It’s unfortunate because I believe that everyone not only has the ability to be leader but also the responsibility to make a leadership contribution in the role they are in. But in this context, they usually associate leadership with a management-type position. And what they usually mean is that the perks of leadership (pay, perception, privileges) are not worth the stress (bureaucracy, pressure, time, work, people issues).

And unfortunately, in some cases, I agree with them. I’ve seen plenty of leaders abused to the point where others take note and stay put. Usually it’s the result of some type of organizational dysfunction which may be easy to see buy difficult to change. Other times the job really is that difficult.

So as you move up in an organization, does leadership get easier or harder? I have good news and bad news. The answer is “yes.” Here’s why.

Easy Way Hard Way

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I’ll admit I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years when it comes to identifying leadership ability in others. Some I’ve thought would be great weren’t – and others I didn’t give much consideration turned out to be amazing. It’d be a lot easier if there was a scientific method to show who could get the job done. Until then, we’ll have to do the best we can.

People Lineup

One of the first mistakes we often make is assuming that the person in charge is always the leader. Then, when it turns out they aren’t, we give up. But what if leadership doesn’t have anything to do with having a title? In that case, it would be possible to have an organization filled with leaders at every level.

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