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Sharpening the Saw: How Much Value Are You Adding?

How do we bring value?  Jeff Van Fleet, Lighthouse’s CEO, thinks we can all do more to bring additional value to our clients, our organizations and our employees …

I believe there are three areas on which good leaders should focus – our clients, our companies, and our employees.”

I hope my message finds you doing well and enjoying the crisp mornings and beautiful fall colors.  I spend a fair amount of time in my car and it provides me plenty of time to think (OK, and whistle a little).  Lately, I’ve been thinking about how we, as leaders, bring value to our organizations.  Or rather, how we could bring more value.

In my role, I have the opportunity to meet with business leaders from many different companies and cultures.  What I observe is that regardless of the size of an organization, whether it’s a sluggish Government institution or a nimble startup, the people that stand out are taking risks and putting their neck on the line, and they are doing so with honesty and integrity.  I don’t just mean the managers, but more often, I see leaders emerging from inside the teams I work with.

I believe there are three areas on which good leaders should focus – clients, companies, and employees.

We bring value to our clients:
Whether your clients are internal or external, your job is to bring them value.  You get paid to bring that value.  So, ask yourself, what value am I bringing?  How is my organization doing?  How do I know if it’s doing well or not?  Establish some key performance indicators (KPIs) and present them to your clients, and then ask them for feedback.  Ask them if you are collecting the right KPIs, let them know that you want to improve, and ask for their input to help you better meet their needs.

We bring value to our organizations:
What unique value proposition do you bring to your company or organization?  Hmmm.  Let me ask that again – what UNIQUE value can you and do you bring?  Right about now, those of you who live with the status quo just stopped reading, but those of you who want to improve are still with me.  Congratulations!!  You are in the minority.  But it’s this minority that leads an organization forward.  Lead by example and encourage your team to take risks, challenge themselves, train others and help everyone improve.  How long has it been since you ran a lunch and learn?  Invite your peers to understand what you do and how you are trying to change for the better.  Explain how your team develops software, how your marketing department generates awareness and brings in leads, or how your accounting function supports the organization.  Don’t just brief them.  Make it a dialog and ask for input.

We bring value to our employees:
Set an example for your team and your peers. Be honest and genuine.  Own up when you screw up.  I can’t possibly tell you how many times I have messed up and needed to apologize.  We’re all human, and we make mistakes, so go easy on those around you when they make a blunder.  Encourage them to own it, learn, and get better.  Listen intently to empathize and understand, but hold people accountable.  We all want to work in organizations where we can count on our teammates to deliver.  So be prudent about what you commit to and make darn sure you deliver.  Set the example.

These are simply my thoughts about how we can make a bigger impact.  I know it’s not easy to continuously add value, but when we strive for it, our journey is much more rewarding.  I’d love to hear how you or others around you bring value to your teams.

Until next time, keep having fun,

Jeff Van Fleet
President & CEO
Lighthouse Technologies, Inc.
Software Testing | Quality Assurance Consulting | Oracle EBS Consulting

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