Recently, Bonnie was asked to contribute an article for the Hill & Partners blog. It is reproduced here. To see the original blog CLICK HERE
ASK THE EXPERT: Leadership Essentials
BONNIE GORBATY- Founder & President of Inner Resources – vice president of Growth Strategy Inc.
Bonnie Gorbaty founded her company, Inner Resources, in 1980 with a mission to assist in the growth and success of businesses of all sizes. One of her key areas of focus in achieving this is on the role of the leader in the organization. With over thirty years of consulting experience, Ms. Gorbaty’s expertise aids in bringing about organizational growth by designing, customizing and implementing appropriate processes and programs that effectively execute business strategies.
Hill & Partners asked Bonnie to share with us some of her insight on leadership and what it takes to fit the role:
1) In your own words, how would you define a great leader? A great leader is someone who is able to attract, inspire and engage others in doing things that otherwise they would not be doing.
2) What advice do you have for best inspiring or motivating followers? Leaders who are able to clearly articulate and enthusiastically relay their visions of new possibilities offer that initial inspiration and motivation to engage followers. Then followers make the choice to follow that leader and their vision. From there, the leader/follower relationship develops where each offers what they are willing to do for the other.
3) What are the top three things you would recommend a leader always keep in mind when aiming to make an impact? Top 3 things: Simply to Communicate, Communicate and then Communicate again. While there are a number of things that leaders do to communicate well, there is nothing more important in leading others than to keep them connected to you. Then, it is perhaps the next top three things, being true to what you say through your actions, your decisions and your commitments.
4) What do you see as common errors in people that try to fulfill a leadership role? Confusing leading with what we do when we manage. Leading is dealing with the unknown possibilities while managing is handling the known realities. The mindset, motivations and intentions are very different as are the outcomes. Managers succeed by creating specific outcomes in certain, repeatable ways. Leaders succeed by moving others along with them toward new realities that may or may not come to fruition.
5) What would you say to the argument that “leadership is natural-born skill, you either have it or you don’t”? Leadership is natural up to a point. We decide to lead and, once we do, we embark on a journey of developing what we call our “skills of character” through our self-awareness and self-trust in becoming the leader only we can be. Each person needs to define who they are as a leader in order to be truly authentic and creative in leadership. This is what attracts the right followers to you.
Hill & Partners asked Bonnie to lend her expertise about the essential role of strategy in when it comes to leadership:
1) Creating impact often times requires a strategic plan. What advice would you give for the beginning stages of creating a strategy?
Strategy is first and foremost a leadership challenge. When we embark upon a Strategic Plan, we are choosing to explore how we can be most effective and pursue those initiatives and changes that will enable us to succeed. At the beginning of any strategic process, it is important to help others understand that this is all about being honest in our assessments of who we are and can be. Then we must be willing to think out of the box in finding the new, better or different ways to pursue our strategy and making the commitments to change as needed.
2) What role would you say workplace culture has in creating and maintaining a high-functioning business strategy? Workplace culture is ultimately the competitive edge to beat. That is because it is the hardest part of a company’s successful and sustainable existence. Culture, when developed in a conscious way, becomes the most important ingredient in implementing a strategy and consistently delivering desired market performance and customer service.
3) If a leader finds the followers are losing interest, motivation, or direction in the process, how would you advise to get them back on track? What keeps the leader/follower relationship on track is a steadfast commitment to why we exist and what we are here to accomplish together. That translates into a specific roadmap that includes: 1) A Mission and set of Core Values that reflect our higher purpose and how we need to show up to manifest it; 2) A clearly defined Vision that sets a target of what we want to accomplish and; 3) the Performance Goals & Metrics that put us on the right track to make it all happen. To keep followers invested, leaders must continually remind them of these key areas of focus.
4) What advice do you give for best presenting a strategic vision to one’s followers? You are always presenting and even promoting your strategic vision to your followers starting at the beginning of your Strategic Planning cycle when you give an overview and update of your vision then through the quarterly reviews for accountability that recognizes what is happening in moving us closer to the vision. In between, we look for those opportunities to share the customer successes (ideally through the customer’s own voice) that clearly demonstrate the vision is real.
5) Sometimes things do not go according to plan. What advice would you give someone in a leadership role for troubleshooting or attacking unforeseen challenges? Leadership is all about attacking the unforeseen challenges much like sales is dealing with the objections. Knowing this from the beginning, you expect it and are ready for it at any time.