Leaders: Do Less And Lead More

Racecars burn out if you run them continuously

The individual efforts we make on behalf of the organizations we’re supposed to be leading are not necessarily the same as actually leading them. Sometimes we get moved into a leadership position and think we need to become a pace setter—to work harder and faster. The reality is different. Working harder and faster may work well for a short time, but when we try to run a racecar continuously at high performance mode, it burns out.

This is what happens to a lot of entrepreneurs who try to build successful businesses. They get it off the ground, get it successful, and they are willing to work day and night. But people who are just employees can’t sustain that. It’s not a good quality of life. There comes a time in the life of our organizations when our workaholic ways may actually de-motivate others around us. Then it’s time to redefine our role as a leader.

Redefining leadership

Entrepreneurs who work without rest are confusing activity with leading. They’re not the same. They’re not the same at all.

Sustaining our role as successful leaders requires that we redefine leadership. If we rely entirely on our individual capabilities and effort, we’ll never develop those around us to move our organization to the next level.

Once you have moved beyond the level of being a direct contributor and start bringing others in, they may be doing the work you used to do. It’s a different job when you have to coordinate others. You have to allow them to grow to the level you attained. You have to step back and let them develop to their full potential.

Entrepreneurial leaders must get beyond technical skills

When we recruit recent graduates into our business, they usually come with a set of hard skills. As they move up the ladder, however, you have to make sure they develop leadership and management skills, skills that too often are not taught in school. They’re not taught about change and transition; they’re not taught how to motivate others. This must come from you, their leader.

At the Byrd School, we always advise our students to take psychology and sociology, because the biggest challenge to the organizations they will lead in the future is not going to require that they have a specific hard or technical skill. It’s going to require they be able to manage and lead other people. We want them to go into their first jobs with an understanding and appreciation for these “soft skills” that will move them from workers to future leaders.

You probably didn’t have the advantage of learning those soft skills when you were in school, so it’s important you develop them now, and a key step towards that is taking time to remove yourself occasionally from your daily activities and embrace the leader’s mindset.

To be an effective leader, sometimes you need to do less

As the scale of your organization increases, your job is to set the strategic vision. If you spend all your time engaging in tasks, when do you spend the time to vision? When do you spend the time to plan…to scan the environment…to make sure the organization stays on track?

You have to delegate things you used to do yourself and give others a chance to grow. If you don’t, your organization becomes dysfunctional and stagnant. If you’re doing the job you’ve hired others to do, you’re wasting the organization’s money and you’re holding your organization back.

As a leader, you must take time off, because you can’t keep on spinning without taking a break. You need time for your family and your friends. Some of your best creativity will come when you’re not directly engaged in activities. If you are leading, you need creative time to set the vision and get others excited about what you’re doing.

Spend less time doing and more time setting in motion the things that infuse energy into your organization—energy that makes things happen. Close the door and close your eyes sometimes. Give your mind a chance to relax. You need to do less, lead more, and watch your organization grow.

 

Adapted from a radio interview for River 95.3

 

Creative Destruction

The last light bulb factory (the G.E. plant) in the U.S. shut down recently in Winchester. It’s an exit to a company that traces its roots to Thomas Alva Edison in the 1800s. There is a transformation taking place right now to a different kind of bulb. They are more energy efficient, but the bulbs require more manual labor, so they’re primarily being manufactured in China. It is an outsourcing and exporting of labor. 

We should never lose sight of the fact that we’re talking about people and their jobs. There are about 200 people who worked at that factory in Winchester who no longer have a job.

But we need to have some understanding about what’s going on – it’s an ongoing process called Creative Destruction. It’s an economic theory about innovation and progress popularized by the Austrian American economist Joseph Schumpeter and adapted from the work of Karl Marx. It refers to a natural process in capitalism that acknowledges the role of destruction in most kinds of innovation. Things that existed before and enjoyed advantage for a while may be destroyed to create new advantages. 

We have seen innovative, dominant companies like Xerox and Polaroid fade as other things come to the forefront. Remember Montgomery Ward, FedMart (which became Costco), Woolworth’s? These companies were outdone by nimbler competitors. Tapes got replaced by compact discs, and now we have MP3s. 

Right now, there are free online newspapers leading to the creative destruction of traditional newspapers. Printed directories of all kinds have gone online. It has a direct impact if you’re caught in the middle of the transition. Radio has adapted by merging two technologies (radio and podcasts) to make the transition and survive in a different form. 

These changes can be used for good as well as for evil, but it shows the challenge to the world that things adapt and change. 

Creative destruction has brought us wonderful things. I love my digital camera, but the workers at Polaroid, Kodak and similar manufacturers and suppliers in the industry were negatively impacted. Consumers adapt, and it does have a downside to those people in those industries unless they adapt to new skills. 

In the long term, society as a whole has enjoyed a rise in overall quality of life from innovation. For example, in 1790, 90% of Americans were farmers. Now 2.6% are farmers. Farm jobs were destroyed for exponential productivity gains. Most would argue, however, that present day farmers enjoy a more prosperous lifestyle than they did back then. 

So my message to you today is to understand the process of creative destruction. There are opportunities that arise from that destruction. And the challenge to the individual is to stay aware of the changes that are occurring and take pro-active action to address shifts in your industry. Seek out opportunities for education, training, and skill development before you are forced to as a result of economic shifts.

Live your dreams and not your fears. 

Adapted from a radio interview with Dr. Miles Davis by Randy Woodward on River 95.3

Photo credit: “Colorful Abstract” via BigStockPhoto

7 Tips For Attracting World-Class Talent

You can’t shrink your way into prosperity

As the economy picks up, it’s time for business owners and entrepreneurs to stop thinking about survival and start thinking about growth. To position yourself for the good times ahead, you need talent. And not just any talent…world-class talent. You want people who could be game-changers in your organization. Ask yourself what talents you need for your business to grow and expand. If you’re hiring the right talent at the right time, you’re going to grow.

But you won’t be alone in seeking those top-tier people. As the economy heats up, so will competition for the best talent. There are ways other than money to improve your odds.

7 tips to compete for top talent:

  1. You have to have a story to tell. Talented candidates want to know what they’re getting into. You must be able to articulate what you’re all about and what you have to offer. Paint a picture they want to step into.

  2. You have to define what it is you want. Write down your expectations and how the person filling the position can meet them. Hire for the need, not the person. In other words, organizational needs should always drive hiring decisions. Don’t write a job description around an individual.

  3. Seek balance. People are generally hired for their cognitive intelligence, but they’re often fired for their lack of emotional intelligence. Assuming your candidate has the right skill set, ask yourself if they’ll contribute to the culture of your organization.

  4. Be available. Keep candidates in the loop about your decision-making process. Let them know if you’re really interested in them. If there are reasons you can’t give them an answer right away, tell them. Don’t leave them hanging.

  5. Be thorough in your background check. Go beyond the resumé. Conduct a disciplined competency-based interview. Just because someone has a great personality doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right for the job. Hire slowly; fire quickly. The wrong person can do a great deal of damage to your organization.

  6. Be flexible. With high quality people, you may find things they value more than others. Consider making concessions if they can still get the job done.

  7. Be willing to pull the trigger. You have to be able to close the deal. Don’t lose a great candidate because you didn’t act to hire him or her before someone else.

Go get ‘em!

There is world-class talent out there who could take your business to the next level. What are you waiting for?

This post was adapted from a radio interview with Dr. Miles Davis on WZRV-FM’s  “The Valley Today” with Mario Retrosi.

Photo credit: “Executives” by Wavebreak Media Ltd., via BigStockPhoto

Is it Time for Business to Get Out of the Business of Health Care?

The passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or what has commonly come to be called “ObamaCare,” has sparked much debate about the nature of health care access and possible impact on employers. Some have speculated that small businesses will even reduce staff to have more part time employees or cut staff to fall below the minimum of 50 employees, the threshold for complying with the provisions of the ACA.

What is not being discussed is whether businesses should be in the business of offering health care at all. Before answering this question, we must first understand how it came to be that businesses offer health insurance, as it was not always so. Just like the recent law enacting the ACA was passed by Congress; it was Congress that ushered in the era of employers providing health insurance.

During World War II, workers demanded wage increases that were prohibited by wartime wage and price controls. To grant a concession to labor without violating wage and price controls, Congress exempted employer-sponsored health insurance from wage controls and income taxation—in effect allowing off-the-books raises for employees in the form of non-taxable health benefits. This created an enormous tax advantage for employer-sponsored health benefits over health insurance purchased by employees with after-tax dollars (e.g., auto insurance). By the mid-1960s employer-sponsored health benefits were almost universal .(http://www.zanebenefits.com/blog/bid/140015/Why-Do-Employers-Offer-Health-Insurance)

Lehman and Belady (1974) articulated a set of “laws” related to increasing complexity of software evolution that equally applies to government regulation and the healthcare market place. A recent conversation with a small business owner highlights the challenge of selecting health insurance for her employees: “How am I supposed to make a decision on the various healthcare plans [available]? I mainly look at the cost, which continue to rise, and try to find the cheapest one.” In addition to choosing healthcare plans under the ACA, employers are required to report the cost of healthcare coverage under an employer-sponsored group health plan on an employee’s Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. The increasing cost, complexity, and reporting requirements of providing healthcare insurance to employees requires that we think beyond the political polemics and in terms more favorable to the major provider of healthcare insurance: employers.

We have now become familiar with terms such as “universal coverage” and “one payer” or “single payer” healthcare systems. Maybe it is time for us to explore some other alternatives, which do not have as much political baggage attached. For example: according to the Kaiser Foundation (See: http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/single-coverage/, the average employer contributes $400.00 per month, per employee, for healthcare insurance. What if the employer just paid employees the additional $4800.00 per year and employees purchased their own insurance on “open exchanges”? The process could be set-up the same way we presently have healthcare savings accounts, but it would shift the administration of healthcare benefits and plans from the employer to the end user of the product. Employees could make decisions based on their individual circumstances, and companies could focus resources on their core business.

The above is only one example of how we could change how healthcare insurance is accessed in this country. We could also eliminate the favorable tax treatment given to such benefits, which in turn would cause as dramatic a shift in the system as when Congress first began exempting healthcare insurance in the 1940s. The national conversation has already begun on healthcare insurance and its rising cost to the country. It is now time to begin discussions on why businesses should get out of the healthcare business. As one company owner said to me in exasperation, “I do not cover [employees’] car insurance; why should I cover the cost of [employees’] health insurance.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute: More Than a Dreamer

This special tribute on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 20, 2014, was delivered at Lord Fairfax Community College by Dr. Miles Davis, Dean of the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business in Winchester, VA.

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We have all heard the classic reframe delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his speech at the March on Washington on August 28th, 1963: “I have a dream.”

However, this remembrance does a disservice to the speech, to the man who gave it, and ultimately to you.

In a speech that contained 1667 words, it is only after the 1052nd word that we come to Dr. King’s dream. However, it is the first two-thirds of the speech that guided Dr. King’s life and offers us a blueprint to be more than a dreamer. I will not reread the speech to you. That is your homework assignment. What I will do is analyze the speech and discuss its implications for your life.

The first thing Dr. King does is to look at the issues within a historical context and then evaluate his present situation. And he does not like what he sees!

But he does not fall into despair, even as his analysis shows that things are desperate. He moves from that analysis to an action plan. He refused to accept that just because things were the way they were, they had to stay that way. And he proclaimed that procrastination, and the “tranquilizing drug of gradualism,” were not acceptable for the changes that needed to be made. The “urgency of the moment” had to be seized and forward momentum had to be pursued.

Now, here is where we see the real greatness of Dr. King; for even though the situation was desperate, and it was imperative for things to change, he advocated against doing “wrongful deeds” in order to correct a wrongful situation. “Dignity and discipline” were to be maintained to overcome the challenges being faced.

Dr. King also knew that allies were needed in the struggle to move forward and that “we cannot walk alone.”

Furthermore, he put on notice those who said we should be “satisfied” with small gains, while there is a larger struggle ahead. The speech was used to send folks back to fight injustice and change the systems where they came from.

All this, before one mention of a “dream!”

Our dreams remain just dreams in the absence of reflection, analysis and an action plan to birth our dreams into reality.

On this day, I encourage you to not just dream. Let me be clear; dreams are OK. I dreamed of escaping the spirit-crushing poverty and deprivation that was my childhood.  I dreamed of living a better life where I did not look out the front window of my mother’s house and see drug transactions; and young girls negotiating the sale of sexual favors for a hit on a crack pipe. I dreamed of being more than a number in a newspaper that counted who died in the streets of Philadelphia that year.

But my dreams, “rooted in the American dream,” were followed by decisions that had to be taken and an education that was pursued.  An education that was transformative.  And along with the educational pursuit, I chose to align myself with the values of my parents, my grandparents and other family and friends who made it clear that it does not matter if you gain the world if you lose your soul. I had allies in making my dreams come true. So do you!

Go forth and have your dreams! But, follow your dreams up with actions. Your being here today, enrolled in LFCC shows you are more than dreamers. Continue to take the steps necessary to be more than a dreamer.

Give birth to the reality you want!

PHOTO CREDIT: “King Memorial 12″ by Old Hotroder via BigStockPhoto

Richmond Federal Reserve President to Speak at Shenandoah

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Emily Burner
              Director of Media Relations
              Shenandoah University
              Phone: (540) 335-5778
              Email: eburner@su.edu 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Winchester, VA – President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Jeffrey Lacker, PhD., will address Shenandoah University students, faculty and staff as well as special guests and attendees at an event slated for Tuesday, Feb. 4, in Halpin-Harrison Hall, Stimpson Auditorium on the campus of Shenandoah University.

Dr. Lacker, who took office as president on August 1, 2004, as the seventh chief executive of the Fifth District Federal Reserve Bank, will discuss economic outlook. An 8 a.m. continental breakfast reception precedes Lacker’s 8:30 a.m. talk. A question and answer session will follow. 

“It is quite an honor to have Jeffrey Lacker as a featured speaker at Shenandoah University,” said Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business Dean and Professor of Management Miles Davis, Ph.D. “Dr. Lacker plays an integral role in monitoring and advancing our nation’s financial health. His scholarly work on monetary, financial and payment economics and his wealth of knowledge on economics and finance are inspirational to our students and to our valued local business partners.”

The Richmond Fed is part of the nation’s central bank, the Federal Reserve, which sets monetary policy, supervises and regulates member financial institutions and provides an array of financial services.

Headquartered in Richmond, Va., with offices in Charlotte, N.C., and Baltimore, Md., the Richmond Fed oversees the Fifth Federal Reserve District, which consists of the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and most of West Virginia. It employs more than 2,200 individuals and supervises nearly 400 financial institutions across the District.

The Federal Reserve works to ensure a stable and sound economy and manages the nation’s money supply to keep inflation low and help the economy grow. It also supervises financial institutions to safeguard the nation’s financial system and protects the integrity and efficiency of the nation’s payments systems.

Lacker began his career at Wharton Econometrics in Philadelphia, Pa., and served as an assistant professor of economics at the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University from 1984 to 1989 before joining the Richmond Fed in 1989 as an economist in the banking area of the Research department. He was named research officer in 1994, vice president in 1996 and senior vice president and director of research in May 1999. He was a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee in 2006, 2009 and 2012.

Lacker is the author of numerous articles in professional journals on monetary, financial and payment economics, and he has presented his work at universities and central banks worldwide. From 1992 through 1993, he taught at The College of William and Mary, and in 1997, was a visiting scholar at the Swiss National Bank.

Lacker is a member of the executive committee of Venture Richmond and serves as director for the boards of the Council for Economic Education, the World Affairs Council of Greater Richmond and Richmond’s Future. He is also a member of the advisory board of ROSMY and serves on the University of Richmond board of trustees.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Franklin & Marshall College (Lancaster, Pa.) and a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin. 

For tickets to this event, call the Shenandoah University Box Office (540/665-4569) no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 3. Ticket prices are $30 for the general public and $15 with student I.D. Tickets will not be sold at the door. 

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Shenandoah University is the private, nationally recognized applied liberal arts institution, located in Winchester, Va., with an enrollment of more than 4,000 students. Shenandoah’s close-knit community is rich in creative energy and intellectual challenge. Shenandoah empowers its students to help the human condition and to be principled professionals and leaders wherever they go.

Photo available for this release: President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond Jeffrey Lacker

To view supporting documents and/or photos, go to www.enr-corp.com/pressroom and enter Release ID: 366431

Welcome to the 2013 – 2014 Academic Year

There is no more exciting time for me than the returning of students to our campus.  Students are the reason we exist; to help you achieve your dreams.  The administration, faculty and staff of the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business stand ready to provide you with the knowledge and skills for you to be successful in today’s dynamic business world. 

We are excited that for the first time the Sports Management Program is housed in the business school.  This was a strategic decision by the school to enhance the opportunities for success for students enrolled in that major.  Also, our Healthcare Management, Entrepreneurship and Business Adminstration majors have seen growth.  This has resulted in us bringing in six (6) new professors into BSB.  Along with our existing faculty, the new faculty bring a depth of knowledge and skills to support your success story. All you need to do is bring the motivation and attitude for success.

Again, welcome back to the returning students, and new students we are excited you are here. Whether returning or new please stop by my office to say “hi”. I look forward to seeing you.

Passing of Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr.

Senator ByrdThe Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business has lost a great friend in the passing today of its namesake.  Senator Byrd was a champion of civic and financial responsibility, as well higher education. His largess is legendary, especially in regards to Shenandoah University and its business school. I have had the opportunity to interact with Senator Byrd on numerous occasions. Whether in public or the privacy of his home, he was always gracious and always wanted to know what was occurring at the business school.

 

Dr. Thies, a long time member of the faculty, had this to save about the passing of Senator Byrd: “As a member of the faculty of the Harry F. Byrd, Jr., School of Business of Shenandoah University for the past twenty years, I can say that it was an honor to be associated not only with the name but with the man. Senator Byrd was actively involved in the life of the school and the university, generous with his time as well as in other ways. A cheerful man and a gentleman, he, like others in his family, gave much to our community, our state and our country.”


The business school was named after him in 1984. Programs have continued to grow and evolve at the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business even as Senator Byrd himself grew and evolved in his thinking over the long years of his life. We respectfully mourn his passing and celebrate the life he led and his everlasting contributions.

BSB Dean Wins MLK Award of Justice

Dean of the Harry F. Byrd Jr., School of Business Miles Davis, Ph.D., was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Justice on Wednesday, July 17, for his work with the Chicago community and his endeavors in education. The United Covenant Churches of Christ (UCCC) presented this award to Dr. Davis at its annual convocation in Tysons Corner, Va.

“I believe that education is transformational,” said Davis. “It doesn’t matter where you came from; at Shenandoah University we will meet you where you are to help you be successful. We all must make a difference in the world. If we’re not making a difference, then what impact do we have?”

While at an accrediting conference in Chicago, Davis connected with UCCC Bishop James Dukes, and since then, the two have worked together to come up with economic solutions to counteract the economic challenges experienced by many individuals living in Chicago’s inner city.

According to Davis, businesses have a social responsibility and an opportunity to make a difference in the communities in which they operate. Similarly, institutions of higher education, in particular business schools, also have an opportunity to train individuals with basic skills to empower themselves.

“It didn’t matter to me that it was Chicago or any other place. Bishop Dukes was trying to make a difference in a place that was really troubled.”

See link: http://www.su.edu/blog/davis-honored-with-mlk-award-for-justice/