Name: Jeannie M Kiess
Organisation: Kasstle Consulting
Currently an undergraduate with WGU studying for my bachelor's degree in Science Education, secondary Earth Sciences.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
We’ve gone through the interviews and asked the best of the best to come back and answer 7 MORE Questions on Leadership.
I hope Jeannie's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. As a leader, how do you build trust with employees, customers and other stakeholders?
Building trust with employees, customers, and other stakeholders is crucial for effective leadership and the long-term success of any organization. Trust forms the foundation of strong relationships and can be cultivated through consistent actions and behaviors. Here are some strategies to build trust with these different groups:
Open and Honest Communication:
Be transparent and candid in your communication. Share both good news and bad news openly and promptly.
Actively listen to what your employees, customers, and stakeholders have to say. Show empathy and understanding when addressing their concerns.
Lead by Example:
Demonstrate the values and behaviors you expect from others. Your actions should align with your words.
Admit your mistakes and take responsibility for them. This shows vulnerability and authenticity.
Consistency in your decisions and actions helps establish predictability and reliability.
Ensure that your decisions are fair and consistent, avoiding favoritism.
Empower employees to make decisions and take ownership of their work. Trust them to do their jobs effectively.
Provide the necessary resources and support to enable their success.
Continuously improve your skills and knowledge, so your team can trust in your expertise.
Encourage ongoing learning and development within your organization.
Hold yourself and others accountable for their actions and responsibilities.
Establish clear expectations and consequences for both success and failure.
Empathy and Understanding:
Show empathy towards the needs and concerns of employees, customers, and stakeholders.
Seek to understand their perspectives and adapt your approach accordingly.
Invest time in building personal relationships with employees and stakeholders. Trust often grows from a sense of connection.
Networking and relationship-building with customers can also enhance trust in your brand.
Always follow through on your commitments and promises. If you make a commitment, make sure you can deliver on it.
If circumstances change, communicate proactively and adjust as necessary.
Uphold high ethical standards and ensure that your organization's actions are aligned with these values.
Avoid compromising ethical principles for short-term gains.
Feedback and Recognition:
Provide constructive feedback to employees and acknowledge their achievements.
Show appreciation to customers and stakeholders for their loyalty and contributions.
Be open to change and adapt to evolving circumstances. Flexibility and agility can foster trust in your ability to navigate challenges.
Demonstrate a commitment to long-term success rather than short-term gains. This can build confidence in your vision and sustainability.
Remember that building trust takes time, and it can be easily eroded. It's an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and dedication. By practicing these principles, you can create a culture of trust within your organization and enhance your relationships with employees, customers, and stakeholders.
2. What do 'VISION' and 'MISSION' mean to you? And what does it actually look like to use them in real-world business?
"Vision" and "Mission" are two essential components of an organization's strategic framework, and they serve distinct purposes:
Definition: A vision statement is a concise and inspiring declaration of an organization's long-term aspirations and goals. It represents the future state that the organization aims to achieve.
Purpose: The primary purpose of a vision statement is to provide direction, inspire and align the organization's efforts toward a common and ambitious goal. It answers the question, "What do we ultimately want to become or achieve?"
Definition: A mission statement defines the fundamental purpose and reason for an organization's existence. It outlines what the organization does, who it serves, and how it serves them.
Purpose: The mission statement serves as a guiding beacon for daily operations and decision-making. It articulates the organization's core values, its target audience, and the value it offers. It answers the question, "Why do we exist, and what do we do to fulfill that purpose?"
Here's how these concepts are used in the real world of business:
1. Vision in Business:
Inspiration: A well-crafted vision statement inspires employees and stakeholders by painting a compelling picture of the future. It motivates people to work toward a shared goal.
Alignment: It helps align the organization's resources, strategies, and efforts toward a common long-term objective.
Long-Term Planning: The vision serves as a guide for long-term planning, encouraging strategic thinking and innovation.
Benchmarking: It provides a benchmark against which progress can be measured, helping leaders assess whether they are moving closer to their desired future.
2. Mission in Business:
Purpose and Identity: The mission statement defines an organization's identity and purpose, making it clear why the organization exists and what it stands for.
Focus: It helps prioritize activities and initiatives, ensuring that they are aligned with the organization's core purpose and values.
Customer-Centricity: A mission statement often highlights the target audience and their needs, emphasizing a customer-centric approach.
Decision-Making: It guides decision-making by providing a framework for evaluating opportunities, initiatives, and partnerships. If something doesn't align with the mission, it's reconsidered.
Accountability: The mission statement holds the organization accountable for staying true to its core purpose and values, which is important for maintaining trust and credibility.
In practice, organizations regularly reference their vision and mission statements when making strategic decisions, setting goals, and communicating with employees and stakeholders. These statements are not static; they may evolve as the organization grows, adapts to changing circumstances, or refines its strategic direction. However, the fundamental principles and values expressed in the vision and mission should remain consistent to maintain organizational identity and trust.
3. How can a leader empower the people they're leading?
Empowering the people you're leading is essential for fostering a motivated and engaged team. Empowerment means giving individuals the autonomy, resources, and support they need to take ownership of their work and contribute effectively to the organization's goals. Here are some strategies for leaders to empower their teams:
Delegate Authority: Entrust your team members with responsibility and decision-making power. Delegating tasks and authority demonstrates trust in their abilities.
Set Clear Expectations: Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and performance expectations. Make sure team members understand their goals and the desired outcomes.
Provide Autonomy: Allow team members the freedom to choose how they accomplish their tasks. Encourage them to find creative solutions and make decisions within their areas of responsibility.
Offer Training and Development: Invest in your team's skills and knowledge through training and development opportunities. When employees feel competent, they are more confident in taking on challenges.
Foster Collaboration: Create a collaborative and inclusive work environment where team members feel comfortable sharing ideas, feedback, and concerns. Encourage open communication.
Recognize and Reward Contributions: Acknowledge and appreciate the efforts and achievements of your team members. Recognize their contributions through both formal and informal means.
Provide Resources: Ensure that your team has access to the necessary tools, technology, and resources to do their job effectively. Remove obstacles that hinder their progress.
Encourage Risk-Taking: Embrace a culture that allows for calculated risk-taking. Mistakes should be viewed as learning opportunities rather than failures.
Offer Support and Coaching: Be available to offer guidance and support when needed. Act as a mentor or coach, helping team members grow and develop their skills.
Listen Actively: Listen to your team's ideas, concerns, and feedback. Show empathy and a genuine interest in their well-being.
Promote Growth Opportunities: Provide a path for career growth and advancement within the organization. Offer challenging assignments and opportunities for leadership roles.
Lead by Example: Demonstrate empowerment in your own leadership style. When your team sees you trusting and empowering others, they are more likely to follow suit.
Celebrate Successes and Learn from Failures: Celebrate achievements and milestones, no matter how small. When setbacks occur, use them as opportunities for collective learning and improvement.
Establish Clear Values: Define and communicate the organization's core values and principles. Ensure that decisions and actions align with these values.
Create a Safe Environment: Foster a safe and inclusive workplace where team members feel comfortable taking risks and expressing their opinions without fear of retribution.
Measure and Communicate Progress: Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) and regularly communicate progress toward goals. This keeps everyone informed and motivated.
Empowering your team is an ongoing process that requires trust, effective communication, and a commitment to their growth and success. When team members feel empowered, they are more likely to be engaged, innovative, and motivated, ultimately contributing to the organization's success.
4. Who are some of the coaches or mentors in your life who have had a positive influence on your leadership? Can you please tell a meaningful story about one of them?
Certainly, there have been many influential coaches and mentors throughout history who have had a positive impact on leadership. One such figure is Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa and a global symbol of resilience, forgiveness, and transformational leadership.
Nelson Mandela is a remarkable example of a leader who not only led a nation but also inspired the world with his leadership qualities. Here's a meaningful story that illustrates his leadership and mentorship:
In 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison after spending 27 years behind bars for his role in the fight against apartheid. His release was a pivotal moment in South Africa's history and marked the beginning of the end of apartheid. As he emerged from prison, he faced the enormous challenge of leading a nation deeply divided along racial lines toward reconciliation and democracy.
Leading by Example: Mandela's leadership style was characterized by humility, empathy, and a commitment to non-violence. He understood that to build a new South Africa, he needed to lead by example. One of the most powerful images from that time is when he walked out of prison holding the hand of his then-wife, Winnie Mandela. This simple act of walking hand in hand with his oppressor's symbolized his commitment to reconciliation and forgiveness.
Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Mandela's approach to leadership emphasized forgiveness and reconciliation over vengeance and retribution. He reached out to his former jailers and oppressors, aiming to build bridges between the black majority and the white minority. He viewed forgiveness as a crucial step in healing the wounds of the past and moving forward.
Inclusive Leadership: Mandela recognized the importance of inclusive leadership. He worked with leaders of various political parties and backgrounds to negotiate the end of apartheid and create a multiracial democracy. He emphasized the value of diversity and inclusivity in building a unified nation.
Listening and Empathy: Mandela was an exceptional listener. He took the time to understand the concerns and fears of all sides, which allowed him to find common ground and build trust. His ability to empathize with people from all walks of life made him a unifying figure.
Legacy of Leadership: After serving as South Africa's first black president, Mandela continued to advocate for peace, reconciliation, and human rights on the global stage. His legacy continues to inspire leaders worldwide.
Nelson Mandela's leadership and mentorship not only helped South Africa transition to a democratic nation but also serve as a powerful example of the positive impact that forgiveness, reconciliation, and inclusive leadership can have on a deeply divided society. His ability to inspire and unite people through his actions and words is a timeless lesson in leadership.
5. Leadership is often more about what you DON'T do. How do you maintain focus in your role?
Maintaining focus in a leadership role is crucial because leaders often have many responsibilities and distractions that can pull them in different directions. Here are some strategies to help you maintain focus in your leadership role:
Set Clear Priorities: Clearly define your top priorities and objectives. Understand what truly matters and align your efforts with these key goals. Having a well-defined purpose helps you stay focused on what's most important.
Create a Vision and Mission: A clear vision and mission statement can serve as a guiding light, helping you and your team stay focused on the long-term purpose and values of your organization.
Time Management: Use effective time management techniques to prioritize tasks, delegate when necessary, and allocate your time to activities that have the greatest impact. Tools like to-do lists and calendars can be valuable.
Eliminate Distractions: Identify common distractions in your work environment and take steps to minimize them. This might include turning off unnecessary notifications, setting specific times for checking emails, or finding a quiet place to work when needed.
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can help you stay present and reduce mental clutter, allowing you to maintain focus on the task at hand.
Delegate and Empower: Empower your team members by delegating responsibilities and decision-making authority. Trust your team to handle tasks, which frees up your time to focus on higher-level priorities.
Learn to Say No: It's essential to recognize your limits and the limits of your time and energy. Politely decline commitments or tasks that do not align with your priorities or stretch your capacity too thin.
Batch Similar Tasks: Group similar tasks together and tackle them during dedicated blocks of time. This approach can minimize context switching and enhance focus and productivity.
Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries for your work and personal life. Avoid bringing work-related concerns into your personal time, and vice versa, to maintain balance and focus.
Regularly Review and Reflect: Periodically review your goals, progress, and strategies. Reflect on what's working and what needs adjustment, and adapt your approach accordingly.
Seek Accountability: Share your goals and priorities with a trusted colleague, mentor, or coach who can help hold you accountable for staying focused on your objectives.
Continuous Learning: Invest in your personal development, including leadership skills and time management techniques. The more you learn and grow, the better equipped you'll be to maintain focus.
Exercise and Self-Care: Physical activity, a healthy diet, and sufficient sleep can significantly impact your ability to stay focused and make sound decisions.
Delegate Decision-Making: Encourage your team to make decisions within their areas of responsibility. This reduces the need for your involvement in every decision, allowing you to focus on strategic matters.
Remember that maintaining focus is an ongoing effort and requires discipline and self-awareness. By consistently applying these strategies and adapting them to your specific leadership context, you can enhance your ability to stay focused and achieve your leadership goals.
6. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Everyone plans differently. How do you plan for the week, month and years ahead in your role?
Effective planning is essential for individuals and organizations to achieve their goals. Here's how you can plan for the week, month, and years ahead:
Planning for the Week:
Set Clear Goals: Start by defining specific, achievable goals for the week. What do you want to accomplish by the end of the week?
Prioritize Tasks: Identify the most important tasks that will help you reach your weekly goals. Consider both urgent and important tasks.
Create a Weekly Schedule: Allocate time blocks for each task and activity. Be realistic about how much time each task will take.
Review and Adjust: Regularly review your progress throughout the week and make adjustments to your schedule as needed. Be flexible in responding to unexpected events or changes in priorities.
Time Management: Use time management techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique, time blocking, or the Eisenhower Matrix to optimize your productivity.
Delegate: If you have a team, delegate tasks to appropriate team members and ensure they have the resources they need to complete their work.
Planning for the Month:
Monthly Goals: Set broader monthly goals that align with your long-term objectives. These goals should be more comprehensive than your weekly goals.
Break Goals into Milestones: Divide your monthly goals into smaller, manageable milestones or tasks that can be accomplished throughout the month.
Monthly Calendar: Create a monthly calendar or planner to visualize your key commitments, deadlines, and milestones for the month.
Budget and Resources: Consider the financial and resource implications of your monthly plan. Ensure you have the necessary resources and budget allocated.
Regular Check-Ins: Conduct regular check-ins with your team or relevant stakeholders to ensure everyone is aligned with the monthly plan.
Performance Metrics: Define key performance indicators (KPIs) to track your progress and measure success at the end of the month.
Planning for the Years Ahead:
Long-Term Vision: Start by defining your long-term vision and objectives. Where do you want to be in five or ten years?
Strategic Planning: Develop a strategic plan that outlines the major steps, initiatives, and projects needed to achieve your long-term vision.
Annual Goals: Set annual goals that are aligned with your long-term vision. These should serve as milestones on the path to your ultimate objectives.
Quarterly and Annual Planning: Break down your annual goals into quarterly objectives and tasks. Review and revise your strategic plan annually to adapt to changing circumstances.
Resource Allocation: Consider the budget, human resources, and technology needed to support your long-term initiatives.
Performance Evaluation: Establish performance metrics and regular reviews to assess progress and make necessary adjustments.
Risk Assessment: Identify potential risks and challenges that could hinder your long-term plan. Develop mitigation strategies.
Learning and Adaptation: Be open to learning from both successes and failures. Adapt your long-term plan as you gain insights and experience.
Remember that planning is an iterative process. Regularly review and adjust your plans to stay on track and remain responsive to changing circumstances. Communication and collaboration with your team and stakeholders are also critical elements of successful planning and execution.
7. What advice would you give to a young leader who is struggling to delegate effectively?
Delegating effectively can be a challenging skill for young leaders to master, but it's essential for their growth and the success of their team and organization. Here is some advice for a young leader who is struggling to delegate effectively:
Recognize the Importance of Delegation:
Understand that delegation is not a sign of weakness but a strategic leadership skill. It allows you to focus on higher-level tasks and empowers your team to grow.
Clarify Your Goals and Priorities:
Before delegating, clearly define your goals and priorities. Understand what needs to be accomplished and why.
Identify the Right Tasks to Delegate:
Determine which tasks are suitable for delegation. Typically, routine, time-consuming, or tasks that align with team members' skills and development areas are good candidates.
Know Your Team's Strengths and Weaknesses:
Understand your team members' strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth. Assign tasks that align with their strengths and provide opportunities for development.
Set Clear Expectations:
When delegating a task, provide clear instructions, expectations, and deadlines. Ensure that the person you're delegating to understands the desired outcome.
Empower Your Team:
Trust your team to handle delegated tasks independently. Avoid micromanaging, which can stifle their initiative and creativity.
Offer Support and Resources:
Provide the necessary resources, tools, and guidance to help your team members succeed in their delegated tasks. Be available for questions or assistance if needed.
Establish open lines of communication. Encourage team members to ask questions, seek clarification, and provide updates on task progress.
Regularly check in on the progress of delegated tasks. This shows your interest and commitment to the project's success.
Feedback and Recognition:
Provide constructive feedback and acknowledge your team's efforts and achievements. Recognize their contributions and express appreciation.
Learn from Delegation:
Reflect on your delegation experiences. What worked well? What could be improved? Use these insights to refine your delegation skills.
Overcome the Fear of Failure:
Understand that mistakes can happen when delegating. Instead of blaming, view these moments as opportunities for growth and learning.
Trust is a cornerstone of effective delegation. Building trust with your team takes time, consistency, and demonstrating that you believe in their abilities.
If you're new to delegation, start with smaller tasks and gradually delegate more significant responsibilities as you gain confidence in your team's capabilities.
Seek Mentorship and Guidance:
Reach out to experienced leaders or mentors for advice on delegation. They can offer insights and share their own delegation experiences.
Stay Patient and Persistent:
Effective delegation is a skill that takes time to develop. Be patient with yourself and your team as you work toward improvement.
Remember that effective delegation is not about giving away tasks but about creating opportunities for your team to grow, learn, and contribute to the organization's success. With practice and a commitment to developing this skill, you can become a more effective leader.