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Why You Need to Offer Leadership Development Programs to Retain Your Best Employees

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Good employees are hard to find. The same can be said for employers. Recent research shows that only 15% of employees

are truly engaged in their jobs. And when employees are not satisfied with their work environment, the company will have a hard time retaining them.

That’s why companies should realize that job satisfaction doesn’t just rely on the paycheck, but on the ability to match the personal ambitions with the professional goals of your employees. The best way to solve employee retention is to offer career development and leadership development opportunities to your team.

Doing this not only helps you keep them at the company long-term, but increases the skill of the people in your company with the end goal of turning employees into leaders. Leaders are hard to find, here’s why you need to develop employees into leaders.

1. It Benefits Business

Richard Branson once said: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so that they don’t want to. If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.

When people feel empowered by the personal and professional benefits you offer them, they will want to contribute more to the company. Offering them leadership programs will motivate them to increase their output and take on more responsibility for helping the bottom line of your company. And when that happens, they will create a positive brand image that echoes across your company internally and externally.

2. It Creates Better Communication

Communication is integral to day-to-day operations. How your leaders interact with one another determines the effectiveness of other executives as well as managers’ ability to create impactful teams and organize the output of the entire organization.

Offer leadership training or membership in leadership networks. This can help develop your organization’s overall communication skills as employees learn to communicate better and drive change within their functional area and across departments. Learning assertiveness, tolerance and empathy, clarity in speech and writing, and positive non-verbal communication outside their area of direct expertise, improves the flow of information.

When employees know how to effectively speak with each other (and customers), they will be more adept at conflict resolution and building consensus as your teams work together towards achieving the top goals and mission of your company.

3. It Improves Performance and Accountability

Responsibility is the core of leadership. Great leaders can accept the consequences of their actions, welcome success and failure, learn from it, and continue to improve themselves and the process.

Leadership networks create a safe environment for leaders and future leaders to:

  • Develop their ability to accept accountability for both successes and failures
  • Learn how other executives overcome challenges and failures
  • Learn how to set goals and targets for personal accountability
  • Learn how to engage other leaders in how to attain these goals
  • Develop a peer group with whom they feel accountability for achieving these personal and professional goals

Offering executive leadership networks and development programs to your most talented employees can teach them the soft skills necessary to increase performance. They will receive insight into other leaders’ work ethic, time management, problem-solving and teamwork building best practices, and integrate these skills into their best practices and into your organization.

When leaders perform at their peak, your entire organization benefits. Employees working with the leader will gain the confidence to request more responsibilities, creating a higher performing team. The organization benefits from better performance and increased commitment from employees – all because the company took an interest in their career development. As these employees take on significant projects and manage more resources, they will be more accountable for their actions and you are building your next layer of leadership.

Your company needs to have faith in your future leaders and give them space to improve their decision-making. Over time, their participation in leadership training programs and executive leadership networks will also inspire your next wave of leaders that can be promoted for an on-going cycle of sustainable employee development.

At XLN, we encourage employers and employees to improve performance and overcome the challenges of professional development in organizations. Contact us today and find out how our global membership can support you in taking charge.

5 Reasons Why Career Development Is More Critical Than Pay

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Money used to be the great motivator, but not anymore. Millennials are today’s largest talent pool, and financial gain isn’t at the top of their priority list – it’s professional development.

Within two years, millennials will be the largest generation in the workforce, and Gen-Z isn’t far behind. Companies will have to revise their current HR models to attract, retain and satisfy their needs.

Unlike any previous generation, with which cash was king, the primary driver of the new generations when choosing a company is career development. Millennials expect their employers to provide them with suitable opportunities for professional advancement.

According to recent statistics, 67 percent of millennials will leave a company if it doesn’t offer any form of professional training or development. And for most employers (53 percent of them), it is a severe problem.

When seven out of ten millennials believe training and development would keep them from leaving your company, doesn’t that make a strong case for putting these needs at the top of your list of priorities, too?

If retention alone is not enough of a reason for you to prioritize the benefits of career development over their paychecks, here are a few additional reasons for you to consider.

1. Better Distribution of Human Resources

Offering career development opportunities to employees will improve business processes. Professional training programs increase the specialization of the workforce, which increases the internal human resources available to the company. It allows executives to be more effective when they plan for the future by distributing staff to specific roles and teams where their newly developed expertise can reach maximum impact.

Training and development programs create a positive corporate culture and working environment. It’s easier to spread out talent across the company when internal communication and overall job satisfaction are high.

With leadership training and professional development, when executives need to re-organize staff or bring everyone together on a specific task, there is less fear of losing employee morale. And when employees have been developed in advance, there is less risk of the toxic, ‘that’s not part of my job’ way of thinking. Instead, everyone will come together on the project and contribute to the best of their abilities with confidence that the company will support them in developing the tools they need for success.

2. More Opportunities Result in Higher Engagement

According to recent surveys, only 15 percent of employees are engaged in their jobs. And the majority of employees that are satisfied agree that the learning opportunities and developing at the company is among the most significant benefits they consider when deciding where to work.

Increasing employee benefits in the form of development programs improves overall engagement and job satisfaction. It helps employees create a connection between career paths, professional training, developing leadership skills and business goals. These are explicit messages organizations need to send to employees about their importance and value, so they understand what is required for success.

When a company creates an employee-centric environment, the highly satisfied and skilled workforce is much more prepared to commit to the work. And when performance is high in output and quality, production rate increases across the board.

3. It’s Easier to Attract and Recruit Talent

Professional development isn’t intended to improve only current staff. It can help companies attract and recruit top talent from the labor pool. 70 percent of executives noted showing candidates how they will support their professional growth directly impacts the ability of HR teams to recruit them. 65 percent of the most successful companies are rethinking their approach to compensation packages and diverting their focus from financial gains to supporting leadership training.

Companies that list this type of leadership development in their job postings see a much higher response from candidates and retain them for much more extended periods.

4. Career Development Improves Retention Rates

In 2018, only 59 percent of millennial employees have been with their current company for more than three years, with only one in five saying they have worked for the same employer for more than seven years.

Retention is a problem for companies across the world. Losing employees and hiring new ones drives costs and is extremely time-consuming. Once an employee leaves, the company will typically spend at least a month sourcing candidates and evaluating the best prospects and another month training the new hire.

In today’s job market, employees want to stay at their jobs only if the business can match their ambitions for personal development. The three main motivators behind employee retention are

  • Personal growth – the possibility of learning new things to achieve professional ambitions
  • Job satisfaction – positive and negative associated with the work environment and culture
  • Financial gains – how much money will they receive with their paycheck.

So, employee retention is only one-third dependent on pay, and much more can be achieved by offering professional development. And if you can provide employees with all three reasons to join and stay at your company, they will likely become valuable team members for years to come.

5. Increased Productivity and Financial Returns

Implementing career development programs for your employees is also an investment in company growth.

Creating a positive work environment centered around your employees’ ambitions improves job satisfaction. When employees feel satisfied and empowered they arrive at work every day with a commitment to success. This makes them more agile. They will want to perform well and leverage their newly acquired knowledge throughout the day to contribute as much as they can to the company and to realize their ambitions.

The boost in productivity reflects in your bottom line. Higher performance means work is completed at a much faster pace. And this output can be quickly monetized and measured as bottom line savings and increased top lines.

At XLN, we put great emphasis on leadership development programs and how they can help companies improve their entire outlook on business. Learn more about how leadership programs can help you overcome internal challenges to increase performance and aid the professional growth of your employees and the company’s overall growth.

 

6 Key Areas to Improve Your Team Leadership Skills

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Leadership isn’t a skill you’re born with. It takes time to learn and even more patience to master. A team leader should guide the group, not manage it. If you have your team’s and the company’s best interests at heart, you are already one step closer to becoming a great leader.

What can make you stand out as a great team leader is your commitment to developing your leadership skills. Here are six key areas you can focus on right now to develop as a team leader.

1. Have Confidence in Your Employees

New business leaders don’t always place enough trust in their employees. Often, they either micromanage teams or take on most of the workload themselves. In both scenarios, the lack of confidence in your employees is unfortunate for them, you and the business.

Instead, learn to delegate tasks and focus on results. Step back a little and trust your team to make the right call. Be present when they need assistance, and establish regular evaluations of their progress to ensure maximum performance from each team member.

2. Beware of Remaining Connected and Available 24/7

The Internet of Things and technological development has enabled modern society to connect with everyone and through almost any device, at any time. Many business leaders have a hard time switching off.

Connectivity and mobility allow you to manage operations on the go, but it also allows your employees to contact you at any time. It is a challenge for both sides, because it can quickly create an overly hands-on approach to management. This management and leadership style is unsustainable for managers and can become overwhelming for employees.

Instead, look to empower your team to be decisive and create a self-reliant culture. Set clear boundaries for connecting and communicate them to your team. Have faith in your team, and the team will have confidence in itself. Over time, they will become more resourceful and rely less on your feedback to solve problems. Instead they will create solutions and overcome problems on their own, so you and your team are not tethered to your devices.

3. Embrace Innovation and Growth

Most employees get comfortable in their own systematic ways of approaching their daily tasks. They become comfortable with their daily or weekly routine. But team leaders don’t have that luxury. Team leaders are always under pressure to drive the business forward. And that means you need to be flexible in your support of your team to be able to drive innovation.

When you invest energy in supporting your team’s efforts and personally focus on innovation, the company grows and moves forward. However, if you become static, comfortable in your routine and lose interest in improvement, you can expect your team will do the same. In the long term the company starts regressing.

It’s critical that you embrace and support change and consistently adapt the business and your team processes to proven trends and innovations. You need to constantly encourage your team to be responsive to looking at the present moment with fresh eyes.

4. Avoid the Need to Be Liked

It’s a natural desire to be liked by people who work for you. This is especially true when you are new to a leadership position and especially true if you have been promoted from the existing team to your new position. After all, you are human, and people are psychologically wired to look for approval from the people in their close community. But, the workplace isn’t naturally constructed, so needing to be liked by everyone can seriously impede judgment.

Avoid the trap many new managers fall into. Many new and first-time managers want to make an excellent first impression and conform to what they perceive as popular behavior. This can create a whole host of problems, as employees might look to take advantage of that pattern in behavior leading to bad decision making that reflects poorly on the business.

A manager is a leader first, and a colleague second. Aspire to win over employees through mutual respect and understanding, clear communication, and setting expectations and goals. When you must make an unpopular business decision, be open, direct and explain the reason behind it.

Knowing how to communicate regularly and openly with employees is a sign of a great leader, and will help you become a better boss.

5. Lead by Example

Great leaders lead by example. Anything else can be toxic to your work environment because it makes you seem hypocritical.

People in the workplace mimic the behavior of their superiors. If a team member sees you doing something not in accordance to the rules and established processes, they will see it as acceptable and mimic the behavior. When you tell them to stop, it shows them that once you get to the top, it’s okay to do whatever you want.

But no manager is above the rules. Instead, it is your duty to uphold the established rules and processes. That’s why you need to abide by your code of conduct and the culture you want to establish to ensure the same level of integrity in your team. For example, if you want to create a collaborative company culture, collaborate with others on your team and request assistance when you need it. Set an example for others by being honest and truthful in all your communications.

However, you don’t want to isolate yourself through your behavior. Acting superior to your staff generates friction and frustration in your relationship. It’s important to be truthful in communication and open about your shortcomings. After all, employees know you have flaws, and being transparent makes you more authentic in their view.

6. Failing to Set Clear Expectations

The best managers always set clear expectations to get maximum performance and to drive solid results from their employees. Mission guidelines leave no room for misunderstandings and establish the direction that keeps your team focused on what they have to do in the shortest amount of time.

When employees know precisely what to do and how to do it, the progress reports you receive are more concise and goal-oriented. Employees either completed their tasks or they didn’t; they either performed according to your standard, or they didn’t.

Teams are also highly motivated when they clearly understand the expectations of them and how you will keep score. It’s much simpler to execute your day-to-day job when you have a clearly outlined set of tasks that drive you towards your ultimate goal.

Teams don’t always need to understand how their efforts are contributing to the big picture – that’s your job. But they do need to do understand how to meet your expectations and provide you with the means to achieve the central vision you are tasked with for your organization.

Learn more about how to improve the leadership skills of your best employees and create a successful strategy for a new style of leadership that will drive your business forward.

How Can Top Executives Successfully Adapt to Change?

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Business environments and competitive threats/opportunities are continually evolving and accelerating. Companies must evolve and innovate to remain relevant. They need to be open to and accept change to maintain a growth trajectory. Real change and growth start with executive leaders that are responsible for setting the direction for the whole team.

To maintain forward-thinking momentum, here are several areas executives should keep top of mind:

Create Opportunities for Failure and then Welcome It

Executives need to understand there is a difference in the meaning of accepting vs. welcoming failure.

Accepting failure is critical. Some leaders love to win; other leaders hate to lose. Whichever it is, when you fail quickly, accept it or your attitude can quickly spiral out of control. Welcoming failure is an admission of the current situation and the intent to overcome it.

When executives’ welcome failure, they view it as a temporary obstacle which they can quickly power through and gain knowledge by learning from the experience. Organizations that incorporate this notion of welcoming failure into their corporate culture accelerate success. You can test your (and your company’s) attitude by answering these questions:

  • How many new ideas from executives are accepted by the organization?
  • How much does the possibility of growth motivate people in your organization?
  • How many incentives for testing products or services do you have in place?

Define the Process First, Goals Second

The pressure to always succeed is overwhelming for executives. But that’s the result of organizations allowing their goals to define their process. Instead, focus on developing and maturing your process to reach the desired level of quality. Once you create a method that works, it will be easy to create goals that match the process and drive innovation in your organization.

Create Feedback Loops to Improve Communication

Reality and perceptions are not always the same. Communication is an integral component of change. Without receiving regular feedback, executives may perceive their progress as successful, when it might only be perceived by your team to be neutral at best or even worse an illusion (with your team perceiving failure). Adding feedback loops is critical to make it easy for your team to communicate their perceptions of progress. Do not underestimate the power of regular communication – it keeps your team focused on shared goals. And increasing the rate of interaction between teams and their managers creates meaningful workplace connections.

For example, when companies start development on a new product, it’s hard for executives to determine its impact on the day-to-day motivation of their team. However, when you implement standardized strategies and use leadership feedback loops to track performance perceptions, you can ensure both the quality of the progress and the motivation level of your team and take appropriate actions proactively.

Promote Accountability to Increase Agility

Executives must promote accountability in their company’s culture to create an agile organization which can quickly adapt to change. Accountability is based on the principle that each employee is aware of how their decisions affect the whole organization. Shared processes and shared goals make this easier.

When employees understand there is mutual accountability, it allows you to delegate tasks and give them more responsibilities to relieve some of the pressure from yourself personally. In challenging situations, you can also rely on your executive peer group for sage advice on how to achieve project milestones and goals, or successfully ask for advice on how to re-deploy team members to find solutions and overcome problems.

Manage Your Ego to Make Quality Decisions

Ego is essential to success, but ego that is unchecked in business becomes negative at every level. And while it is useful for survival and self-preservation in the corporate environment, it’s often detrimental for leadership of more junior teams.

Real leaders need to be hyper-vigilant and keep their egos in check, and separate personal benefits from those of the company. An executive peer group is extremely helpful in this area because it allows you to hear unbiased opinions from peers struggling with similar issues and challenges on a daily basis with no personal interest of their own vested in your company’s success or failure.

Join an Executive Leadership Network

XLN is an executive leadership network that helps senior business leaders increase their knowledge to achieve success for their organizations. We can help build up your leadership skills and improve your ability to lead your team. Learn more about how our leadership network works and schedule a consultation.

Leadership Training Boosts Employee Retention – Here’s How

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In today’s competitive market, retaining top talent is critical. Neglecting to develop the leadership skills of managers has been identified as a root cause of executive turnover. The benefits of executive leadership training extend to the organization through increased employee ambition and productivity.

So, how important is professional development when it comes to retaining employees?

According to statistics, 42 percent of employees say that learning and developing their professional skill set is the most crucial benefit when deciding on a career path. For the next generation of leaders, researchers found that when companies provide leadership development they can successfully retain 86 percent of millennial employees.

When you invest enough time, effort and resources into creating an environment that nurtures and develops your employee’s skill beyond simple task training, the return on that investment will be enormous. Below are areas where leaders need to focus.

Meet Employee Ambitions

Most employees are satisfied with their current workload. However, your top employees (especially millennials) likely feel they are contributing less than their capabilities. Without being able to unlock their full potential, these employees eventually leave the company in search of more challenging positions.

Top employees are now looking for meaning. A simple leadership tactic is to have an open conversation with the employee about their ambitions. Once you figure out what the employee wants, you can create a project that can test their capabilities in a real situation.

You can also meet their ambition by challenging them to come up with innovative solutions. Start simple to improve business processes directly related to their areas of focus, and help the employee feel confident that the ambitions of the company match their purpose.

Focus on Engaging and Challenging Your Team

Immediate employee engagement is a growing issue. The situation is so severe that as little as only 15 percent of employees  worldwide feel truly engaged by their day to day work. Employees that don’t feel engaged typically leave within their first year of employment.

The problem stems from the tasks and to-dos you assign your direct reports. Employees can usually master easy assignments in a couple of months. Afterward, they get comfortable with their role at the company, and if they don’t receive a new challenge, complacency sets in and they become disengaged.

A quick solution for employee engagement is to divide the tasks into easy to-dos and challenging projects. Once an employee starts feeling comfortable in their current role, consider assigning long-term challenges. To accelerate this development, you can also appoint them as project manager.

Delegate the responsibility and accountability of the project to the employee by giving them full control of the project team. Not everyone will succeed, but those that do will feel stimulated by the new challenge and develop into valuable assets of the company.

Create a Standard of Specific Expectations

Being results-oriented is often a central trait of business leaders. What managers often fail to realize is that for employees to meet performance expectations, you need to provide them with the right guidelines, answer questions, and provide access to resources to enable them to complete projects successfully.

An employee with exceptional leadership potential knows this. That’s why when they demand information or resources to hit the targets you set for them, hear them out and give them what they need. If you provide them with the right environment to succeed, they will become more consistent with their performance and deliver equally outstanding results. Setting expectations and allowing employees to meet them gives them purpose.

Determine New Employee’s Long-Term Value Sooner Rather than Later

It’s best to test a new employee’s drive early to see if they have the ambition, patience and grit to achieve long-term success. If they quickly become uncomfortable when you give them new projects and challenges in their current position, it might be best to let them leave the company.

It is especially true for new employees that voice ambition, but do not take the consistent actions necessary to achieve those ambitions. Employees need to understand, and you need to set the expectation early, that in the larger scheme of things, consistent effort, not just a few days of hard work, is the sacrifice required to get promoted.

If you find yourself in a situation where you feel the employee hasn’t yet earned a jump in the ranks; explain your case to the employee. This is much easier to do when you start these conversations early in the relationship. Speak about your ambitions for them and the plan for their future leadership role at the company. But, if you do that, always be direct about when that can happen to create reasonable expectations. If that person is a true leader, they will understand your position, accept your proposal, and patiently work their way up.

Training does not stop when your employee becomes a manager – it’s something that needs to continue throughout their career. Even the most senior executives (and their teams) can benefit from on-going training.

At XLN, we help executives connect and share innovative ideas, so you can improve your unique style of leadership and create a go-to solution for your entire business. Join our leadership network today and build relationships for the future.

Learn more about how our methods can help you develop future leaders, boost their retention, and achieve professional and personal success for everyone at your company.

It’s Lonely Near the Top

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The intensity of a Senior Executive’s job, coupled with the scarcity of peers to confide in, creates potentially dangerous feelings of isolation among senior executives. 50 percent of all senior executives report experiencing loneliness in the role, and of this group, 61 percent believe that the isolation hinders their performance.

Meanwhile, friends outside the firm lack in their abilities to support leaders because often they fail to understand the challenges of the Senior Executive. As a result, many Senior Executives these days are looking to their peers to help solve common problems and issues through discussions of like situations and similar occurrences.

Peer groups for Senior Executives are proving to satisfy the business need that Senior Executives have to discuss major decisions or critical actions to make better informed decisions. At the same time they result in important positive effects on the physical and psychological health and well-being of these leaders. This is because Senior Executives are people with the same fundamental personal and social needs as everyone else. The “need to belong” has been systematically identified as the most powerful and universal human drive.

Therefore, a reliable support system is crucial to Senior Executive achievement. By joining a peer group, Senior Executives can open up and discuss their biggest issues and most pressing business and personal concerns. Some of the benefits of peer groups for senior executives include:

  • Peer groups vet your discussion points and decisions the way subordinates cannot
  • Peer groups provide a safe outlet for senior executives to express their concerns
  • Peer groups give valuable insights from different industries and company types
  • Peer groups allow you to tap your experience to give back
  • Peer groups breathe new life into Senior Executives – bringing new enthusiasm and fervour for cutting-edge ideas and valuable insights

Senior Executive peer groups are on the rise. And why not? Peer groups provide a valuable arena where Senior Executives can talk more candidly about serious business topics with peers in different companies and industries that are dealing with similar challenges. More and more, sharing with peers, similar situations, worries and fears has proven to help relieve the sense of isolation, and that’s good for business.

The ROI of an Executive Forum Group

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As organizations have grown in size and complexity—no matter their location, industry, or product lines—the need for exceptional leaders has also increased, and the necessary leadership competencies have changed.

In response, executive development has evolved from classroom-based methods to peer groups and forums.

Typically, executive peer groups and forums have a wide-range of senior leadership talent. Some are Senior Executives for companies with more than $10 million in revenue that manage teams of five or more, while other forum members work at firms with billions in revenues and manage hundreds of employees.

These groups generally meet once a month and are run by a professional facilitator who moderates discussions and keeps the group focused on leadership development needs including:

  • Strategic thinking methodology
  • Communication skills
  • Goal setting and accountability tactics
  • Collaboration skills

This new, nontraditional Executive Development process leverages experiential learning techniques and interactivity tactics. And ROI is often difficult to track. However, there are ways to measure it.

Watch the video to understand how one member views ROI. There are 5 other areas XLN members feel are important: Execution, Alignment, Collaboration, Retention and Succession.

1. Execution: how well an organization is able to execute on its strategic plan and achieve the desired goals it has set for itself.
2. Alignment: how well the business units within a company are able to work toward the same strategic goals, and maintain a line of sight among different leaders and business units.
3. Collaboration: how well the business units within a company are able to operate cohesively, and work together to solve problems and capitalize on opportunities.

4. Retention: how effectively an organization can retain key performers and what outcomes are a result of keeping such performers longer.
5. Succession: how prepared an organization is to carry the strategic plan several years into the future by determining if the company has ready replacements for key positions and bench strength.

Execution

One survey found that 49% of business leaders report a gap between their organization’s ability to articulate a strategy and their effectiveness in executing on those deliverables.
Learning to cooperatively create an organizational strategy and then learning how to move it towards execution is one way to see the tangible results of a leadership forum.

Alignment

Establishing and supporting alignment among the executive team of an organization is critical to achieving success.
Executing effectively on strategy, as outlined above, hinges on senior leaders having a clear and concise understanding of direction and goals. A peer group helps you learn ways to build open lines of communication and foster the exchange of ideas and information among executives outside of your functional group and direct control.

Collaboration

A large body of research supports the positive influence that collaboration can have on business productivity and an organization’s performance. A  peer group helps you learn how to build and reinforce a culture of collaboration because it give you the opportunity in a non-critical environment to have and experience uninhibited dialogue among colleagues, how to the navigate conflict and learn conflict resolution skills. Real collaboration is about a virtually limitless exchange of ideas, and a peer group helps you to improve your ability to foster these exchanges.

Retention

Perhaps the most important measure of leadership development for an organization is how prepared they are in regards to retention and succession planning. A large body of research has determined that high performers in the workplace need the support network, experiences, and development opportunities to grow into tomorrow’s leaders. A leadership forum is invaluable for non-Fortune 500 companies because it gives senior executives access to this network. This is especially important when smaller companies do not have the internal resources or size to create similar types of internal forums on their own.

 

Succession

An executive forum provides leaders a place where they can develop their skills and ultimately grow their companies. They also provide a path for companies to retain their executives by providing opportunities for problem solving and professional growth so the senior executives don’t need to purse career growth outside the organization.

Ultimately forums help executives make more informed decisions as they develop all of the skills discussed above, and as they move to the top of their organization they produce better business results.

How Does a Senior Executive Forum Group Help You Meet Professional Challenges Head-on?

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Senior executives typically struggle with rapid growth, controlling their financials, selecting and building their teams while remaining fully engaged in their work, managing diversity and every other complex business challenge imaginable. They also have personal issues affecting their lives that make it difficult to stay focused in a world that imposes stress daily. The ability to take these concerns to a trusted Executive Forum Group allows senior executives them to share ideas and challenges in an effort to receive sage advice to make better decisions and become more productive leaders.

Effective training and development of executives is essential for any organization looking to groom the next generation of leaders. An Executive Forum Group brings together like-minded senior leaders to work on tough challenges and achieve high aspirations. They can help improve communication skills, build better alignment within an organization, and help develop and execute action plans and new strategies. Here are five ways an Executive Forum Group Can Help You Meet Professional Challenges Head-on.

1. A Confidential Executive Forum Group Creates a Safe HavenConfidentiality is paramount to the success of an Executive Forum because it allows each member to be completely open about issues and topics. It provides a safe environment where senior executives can work together through matters they’re normally unable to discuss with others within their business.

Many groups provide a formal written policy that is signed by members, while others verbally acknowledge confidentiality at the start of each meeting, to ensure the trust to share information freely, without fear of compromising proprietary business data or ideas. This display of trust creates an environment in which senior leaders can be honest, vulnerable and be open to learning and growing. Confidentiality creates an environment where each member feels comfortable sharing openly, which leads to better ideation and more trusted support.

2. Executive Forum Groups Provide Real Feedback from a diverse group of peers with similar experiences

Most Executive Forums are comprised of members who come from non-competing industries and completely unique backgrounds, which generates various perspectives. Senior executives are under a constant state of pressure, so an Executive Forum can act as an informal advisory board, offering creative problem solving, issue resolution and innovation from different, real-life experiences.

Sharing ideas, personal triumphs and failures across industries, conflicting stages of growth, and various business challenges enhances the learning experience. Executive Forum members provide unfiltered, real-life feedback, allowing fellow executives to face challenges with knowledge from past experiences across many disciplines. And while the truth can hurt sometimes, it is quite valuable for senior executives to have their ideas challenged from time to time. An Executive Forum supports senior-level executives with empathetic feedback and advice from associates that face the same obstacles. Transparent and trusting peer-to-peer interaction most often leads to extremely valuable encouragement to help fellow members remain competitive in an ever-changing business landscape.

3. Executive Forum Groups Offer Guidance

Senior Executives must become skilled at creating alignment between the actions of their subordinates and the vision of the company. An Executive Forum allows senior leaders to create their own personal guidance systems, backed by a committee of seasoned professionals, that helps navigate through comparable obstacles towards high aspirations.

Because executive leaders are instrumental in implementing the corporate vision, it’s vital that they gain the skills to develop strategies that are aligned, and to empower their teams to adopt and implement the vision at all levels of the company.

An Executive Forum Group harbors an environment rich with diverse dialogue about implementing and executing strategic plans and corporate agendas. Executive Forums are designed to incorporate a cross-functional group dynamic – ranging from operations and IT, to marketing, finance and business development – offering different perspectives that will help with collaboration and communication throughout all parts of an organization.

While members of an Executive Forum Group challenge one another, they also help guide strategies and implement programs. Receiving feedback and recommendations from fellow senior leaders across the myriad industries they represent, enriches conversations about proven practices for effective leadership.

4. Executive Forum Groups Motivate through Accountability

Successful Executive Forum Groups are masters of accountability. Forum members help one another articulate a plan of action and see to it that each member executes their plan accordingly. Members hold each other liable for things like business opportunities and financial improvements, to changes in health and fitness, and even personal relationship advice. And everyone, from time to time, can benefit from having a peer network hold their feet to the fire.

Executive Forum members often feel compelled to be honest and culpable at each meeting because the feel like a valuable part of the team. Members experience the pride of accomplishment and praise from valued peers and other members success, cultivating positive reinforcement, while creating a team environment.

An Executive Forum demands it’s members report to fellow group associates on a routine basis, fostering an effective environment for growth in accountability. Held accountable by peers, the majority of executives find that they allocate time better, stop doing other people’s work, and improve their work/life balance.

5. Executive Forum Groups help you learn from different successes and failures

While the executives in peer groups may serve entirely different types of customers in widely varying industries, they share common challenges regarding employees, growth, profitability, executive development, technology, and uncertainty, to name just a few. In fact, member diversity enhances each group’s learning by the breadth and depth of each member’s background and experience. The longer the dialogue continues, the more members realize how much they have in common and how much they can learn from their fellow forum members.

An Executive Forum exposes members to different solutions for similar challenges from fellow senior executives at high performing companies in various industries. Technology executives can receive advice from finance or manufacturing, and vice-versa. An Executive Forum is like a personal board of advisors, offering knowledge gained through practiced solutions to like experiences and similar obstacles. Most often within each Executive Forum, there’s a member who has been through a similar process or been faced with a comparable challenge who offers guidance that can significantly improve business.

Conclusion

An Executive Forum Group gives senior leaders a monthly brain trust and personal board of advisors that provides advice on how to do your job, better, faster, stronger. Working with a group of senior executives from diverse industries who can empathize with the complexities of similar obstacles and provide different perspectives to shared challenges and opportunities provides executives with opportunities to increase their overall value by learning to work across departments more collaboratively. This culture of interdependence, communication and accountability inspires professional and personal growth and enhan

Leadership and Management

4 Ways Executive Leadership Training Empowers Your Company

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Good leadership is essential for business growth and success. Without it, enterprises can quickly lose direction and momentum.

Companies can use various strategies to empower their executives to ensure this doesn’t happen. One growing approach is incorporating outside executive training and external executive leadership peer groups to help your leadership team to reach its full potential.

Here is a quick overview of the top benefits and what they can do for your business.

1. Expands Collective Knowledge

When you encourage executives to pursue relevant professional training and external peer groups, you grow the collective knowledge of your team.

Ideas and leadership traits learned in executive peer groups can be shared with the rest of the team. This cross-pollination improves expertise and drives innovation, not just for one leader, but across business processes in multiple areas of your business. In doing so, individuals become trained experts. Employees can cross over to other departments to find solutions or seek advice from industry leaders, while the company can use its vast knowledge base to gain the position of market authority.

2. Creates a Cycle of High Performance

A recent survey by Execu|Search found that only half of the executives surveyed believe their leadership skills are developing at their company. What many businesses fail to realize is that empowering leaders through further skill development improves their performance, and consequentially productivity of the entire company.

Another way executive development improves productivity among teams is by creating a cycle of consistently high performance. It starts when the employee feels responsible for incorporating what they learn into day-to-day operations to simplify work and increase performance across the company.

Then, executives roll up their sleeves and increase the capacity of their individual contribution and output. They feel responsible for offsetting the investment allocated for their personal career development. This is a signal to the company that they deserve even more leadership opportunities. Ultimately this external and internal drive closes the loop of the performance cycle and both the leader and the company thrive. When you show commitment to your executives, you get commitment back.

3. Attracts Emerging Talent

When companies offer opportunities for professional advancement, it reflects the company’s seriousness and desire to invest its resources to benefit both the company and its employees. Therefore, companies which provide tuition reimbursement, cover costs of certification courses or enroll employees in leadership networks are more attractive to talented professionals and driven employees. This helps you to build for the future, as junior executives are more likely to stay at a company that invests in their careers.

Over time, junior executives will learn more and more from senior management and leadership development programs, which maximizes the human resources at the company. Leadership development provides you with enough assets to create and execute a plan for seamless succession and increases your ability to expand and grow.

4. Higher Engagement and Satisfaction

Career development opportunities create a nurturing environment for employees. When companies help their leaders reach their professional potential, these professionals become self-actualized and more self-confident. These executives become the backbone of your growth efforts.

Executives whose ambitions are aligned with and supported by their company are more satisfied with their jobs and more motivated to increase their efficiency. In the process, they become better leaders and more likely to use their knowledge to create mentorship relationships and similar development opportunities for the rest of the staff. Allowing your top leaders to join leadership networks has a downstream impact that is exponential.

This residual mentorship is an excellent opportunity for your leaders to leverage their existing experience and newly acquired leadership skills to develop new talent at the company. A senior executive can become a guide not just to one individual, but to the entire team.

A leader receiving mentoring from a peer network can accelerate mentoring within the company by bringing learned concepts in-house.

Join an Executive Leadership Network

XLN is an executive leadership network that allows executives to connect with each other, share ideas, and learn from real-world experience. Our membership includes an exclusive list of senior executives from successful companies who can advise you on how to build a successful team around you.

Learn more about how we can help you achieve bigger and better things for the leadership of your company.

 

How to Innovate in Your Business

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Many executives believe they lack time to innovate; some believe they lack the resources, too. However, the best kind of innovation doesn’t always involve reinventing the entire industry and coming up with revolutionary products that can change the world.

While it is true that one revolutionary idea can turn a whole industry upside down and brand a company as innovative, it is usually the combination of small things that create an innovative mindset at the office.

Here are six tips to spark innovation in business:

Invest in Your Capacity to Innovate

One of the primary things to consider is investing in your capacity to innovate. To put it simply, you should invest in things that give you the ability to constantly improve the way you produce and launch your products and services.

Improve your operational efficiency to cut costs and use the remaining funds to buy new equipment. Try out a new marketing idea, or invest in personal training for various business operations that matter.

Develop an Innovation Strategy

Gather your team to join forces and develop an innovation strategy. Go into details while brainstorming ways to improve your processes, your products and services, your business model, your marketing strategy, and your supply chain. Once you develop a solid strategy, make sure to keep it up to date.

Encourage Problem-solving

Your employees should not only pay attention to problems but also find potential solutions for solving those problem. Encourage your team to innovate. When an employee comes to you with a problem, ask them for their opinion. How would they solve it? What would they do?

Very often, you’ll find that they already have a good solution in mind, and all they need is your approval to mobilize the required resources to solve the problem.

Encourage Innovative Ideas

Often, employees want to work on innovative ideas and tackle certain inefficiencies, but they lack time to do so due to their everyday workload. You can help them bring their ideas to life by allowing them to work on their pet projects every once in a while. It may bring outstanding results, and it will benefit everyone: the company, the employee, and the customers.

Educate Yourself

Go to industry-related conferences. Make connections with industry leaders. Travel a lot. Study innovation, creativity, and change. Constantly find new ways to educate yourself because nothing drives innovation as education does.

Change Roles

Executives and senior employees should take turns working on projects that aren’t a part of their everyday workload. A marketing manager could spend a day working as a salesperson; the financial executive could spend a day in the operations department, etc. It will help people appreciate the other person’s job, but it will also give new, fresh perspectives to certain job functions.

The best ideas usually come from people who don’t do the job every day. A fresh mindset and a new set of eyes can notice problems that never get noticed by people who work on that same project on a daily basis.

Everyone knows how essential innovation is to business success. The problem isn’t that executives aren’t aware of this fact – many don’t know how to encourage innovation. Use these tips to enhance the productivity and the flow of new ideas in the company.

XLN is an exclusive network of Senior Executives partnering to achieve professional and personal development that drives success. Start your application process today!