How to Create a Long-Term VisionLeaders understand they need a vision for their company, but it’s easy to lose sight of the long-term as you focus on the things right in front of you, those daily tactics and the weekly results they produce.

Leaders know how to create objectives and goals, but they become challenged when they are asked about their vision for where they want to be in five, 10, even 15 years.

“Many businesses struggle with a lack of direction; the long-term vision gets swamped by the concerns and crises of the moment,” says Karl Stark and Bill Stewart in an Inc. article.

Lack of a strategic vision to help you move your business forward can be detrimental to potential growth and long-term success.

Stark and Stewart offer a few ways to tackle the problem.

What is the Current State?

You can’t establish a long-term vision if you don’t take a look at the current affairs of your business.  Gather facts and opinions on what works well, what needs to be fixed, and what is broken.

Develop Long-Term Priorities and Initiatives

Once your current state has been vetted, it’s important to separate the initiatives that will help you achieve your long-term vision from the ones that clog up time and space.

Create a checklist of everything you’d like to accomplish, then comes the hard part: Pare that list down to the truly important ones.

Align Your Financial Goals

Stark and Stewart recently worked with a new CEO to set the vision and help him translate that into immediate, tangible action.

They aligned the company’s financial goals with a few steps:

Share Your Vision

Once your vision is established, sell it to your employers, investors, and customers.

Your vision drives motivation, so make sure it’s clear. Your vision will inspire your employees and give them something to work toward. They are challenged to meet quarterly, monthly, or even weekly goals, and want to see what they contribute to the company as a whole.

A vision gives employees an opportunity to be a part of something great. Remind them of the big picture on a regular basis and keep them invested in what you want to accomplish. It’s a continuous process for every organization and sometimes as things change, it needs to be reevaluated.

What other tips would you add?

Image credit: Salmando 

Four Cornerstones that Define Great Leaders Every great leader is different, but most share certain innate qualities. These qualities, as well as adhering to a few concrete principles, elevate their leadership to the highest level, and ensure they leave a lasting, positive effect on the people around them.

“Great leadership doesn't happen overnight,” says Brian Moran, contributor to Open Forum. “Great leadership is built brick by brick over many years with each decision and every mistake you make.” This experience (and the wisdom that comes with it) serves as the “rock solid foundation” of great leadership.

That foundation itself is built on four corners—four words that both “describe the type of leader you are today”, as well as the leader you hope to become tomorrow. Below are the cornerstones Moran chose for himself.

Four Cornerstones of Great Leaders


“Character” refers to an individual’s mental and moral qualities. We all know what a “person of character” looks and acts like, and why it’s a description worth aspiring to.


Someone with credibility is someone you can trust. For a small business owner, there may be no more valuable quality—particularly, Moran says, if you’re “dealing with larger companies who may hesitate in doing business with a smaller company whose leader doesn’t possess the utmost credibility.”

People don’t want to do business with someone they can’t trust.


We all encounter times in our business lives where there’s profit to be gained from conducting yourself in ways of questionable honesty. “In essence, it’s nothing more than a cornerstone test,” Moran says. Think of the parade of disgraced leaders we’ve seen in just the past decade alone. A lack of integrity is “the result of a poorly built foundation.”


A leader with vision sees what others can’t see—a vital leadership trait “in times of crisis when there is no clear path.”

These are Moran’s four cornerstones. Yours may differ.

In any case, the next step is to fill in the foundation with 15 to 20 more words that best define your leadership skills—words like honest, assertive, inspirational, etc. “Lay these words across your foundation,” Moran says, “let them settle in and stay committed to them.”

Great leaders also avoid negative words, which unfortunately have come to define many so-called business and world leaders—words like deceitful, unscrupulous, tyrannical. “You not only want to avoid them yourself, but you want to steer clear of other people who embody these words.”

The old adage ‘Birds of a feather flock together’ springs to mind. Associating with people who embody these negative traits can keep you from achieving greatness on your own. And their reputation just might rub off on yours.

What Words Would Others Choose About You?

It’s always helpful to match up your self-perception with what others think about you. Would their words match your own cornerstone or foundation words? Invite friends and colleagues to describe you in three or four words—both as a person, and as a leader. Are there any surprises? Is there such a gap between your words and theirs that it may be time for a change?

Great leaders possess apparently inexhaustible passion and energy. Every other quality is up to you to define for yourself.

What are your cornerstone words?

turnaroundIn 2008, the restaurant chain Bennigan’s declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy. That might have been the end of the story, as it is with many chains that file for bankruptcy. But Bennigan’s is growing again under new leadership.

In an article for Fox Small Business Center, Michele Hieles outlines the “lessons learned” from this experience, courtesy of its current president and CEO Paul Mangiamele.

According to Mangiamele, Bennigan’s didn’t falter because of a lack of consumers. Instead, the culprit was what he calls “brand drift".

Brand drift occurs “when the brand moves away from the many elements that made it successful in the first place,” he says. To be successful, “You need to constantly reinvent yourself so you don’t lose relevance.”

As part of the turnaround effort, the plan is to “respect the Bennigan’s legacy” while launching such elements as a “chef-driven menu, a refreshed drink line-up, updated training methodologies, and forward-thinking marketing initiatives.”

Mangiamele is also overseeing efforts to invest in the “fractured” franchisee system. “All of us together will always be smarter than one of us,” he says.

Here are Mangimele’s turnaround strategy tips to franchisees of all industries.

Turnaround Strategy Tips 

Know your mission, vision, strategy, tactics, and culture. Start with a solid mission and vision statement. Then put together a team, develop strategies, and determine tactics.

Initiative development is another critical factor, as illustrated by these five initiatives fueling the resurgence of the Bennigan’s brand:

Put together a team of “business athletes.” Mangiamele firmly believes the most important characteristic to look for in an employee is attitude. There’s no way to force an employee to smile or to feel genuine enthusiasm for your brand. Instead, you can “find team players that have a 25/8 work ethic—employees who can help not only achieve your objectives, but also exceed them.” The A+ team must consist of dedicated workers “who will make sacrifices to contribute to the team objective.”

Go ABCD. To achieve success, Bennigan’s must create a “legendary experience”—and the only way to do that is to go ABCD—“Above and Beyond the Call of Duty”. Mangiamele expects everyone in the organization (“from executives to busboys”) to forge an emotional connection with their customers. This approach is reinforced by programs that recognize and reward stellar employees. Best of all, “ABCD-type performance is contagious.”

Get out in the neighborhood. “Given the competitive marketplace, you can’t open your doors at 11:00 a.m. and just wait for people to come,” Mangiamele says. Instead, focus on what he calls “neighborhood marketing”—a system designed to promote your business within a five- to 10-minute drive from your company’s front door. Get out and introduce yourself and your business, making “emotional connections” with neighbors within that 10-mile radius.

Today, Bennigan’s operates nearly 100 domestic and international restaurants, with agreements to develop many more in the coming years across the U.S., and in Mexico, El Salvador, Panama, Cyprus, Korea and the United Arab Emirates. It looks like the company’s turnaround efforts are paying off.

What have you done to turnaround your brand?

Four Ways to Give Your Best Year-RoundJanuary is almost over. It seems like yesterday we were preparing for year-end holidays, and now the first month of the new year is almost over.

As you get to be more and more involved in your daily activities, it's important to set time aside to unplug and revise your vision.

Take some time to reflect without being connected.

Following are four ways you can unplug, focus, and be ready to give your best year-round.

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

Say no to administrative tasks. Stop taking meetings that don’t drive business value. Delegate everything you can without breaking your talent. Open your days for thinking and for strategy. On your free time, put a large sheet of paper on the kitchen table. Divide it in half. One the right-hand side you will list all of the things you want to accomplish that fit your core strengths. On the left-hand side you will list all of the things you want to accomplish that don't fit your core strengths. You will delegate everything on the left-hand side of the paper.

Create Thinking Time

As you look at your calendar in February and beyond, find uninterrupted time every day that doesn’t have distractions. This will allow you to spend time thinking. Schedule appointments with yourself and don't cancel them or move them around, except in an emergency.

Develop Your Vision and Repeat It

Over and over and over again. If the vision isn’t moving throughout your organization, revise it so people are on board with it. If someone else can’t articulate what it is, it either needs to be revised or you’re not discussing it often enough. Use part of your free time to revise as necessary.

Reflect and Adjust

Failure is the big F word no one wants to discuss in business. But it’s only failure if you allow it to paralyze you. Learn from the mistakes you make. Reflect on what’s working and what’s not working. At least once a week. And adjust your vision, your strategy, or your communication to improve your efforts.

And, of course, always remember what’s really important in life. Unfortunately you won’t be remembered, after you’re gone, for how many hours you worked or the fact that you could do it all.

So be sure you take time to be present with your family. Really be present. Without your phone, tablet, or laptop.

Six Keys for New Leaders to Ease the TransitionBeing promoted to a leadership role for the first time is always exciting and a reason to celebrate. But while becoming a boss for the first time is full of promise and possibilities, it can also feel overwhelming.

Sometimes the situation requires being the "newbie" leading a group of individuals who have worked together before, or it could be that you were all equal colleagues now selected to be the boss.

Regardless of how you earned your new post – or if you’re helping someone on your team acclimate to a new managerial role – there are key things that can be done to relieve anxiety and ease into the transition.

Linda Hill, a professor at Harvard Business School says: "Being a boss is becoming harder and harder and it actually matters a lot more to be good at it. Nowadays the world is so competitive and the roles you play are so complex that if you aren't good at it, you're really bad."

Six Keys for New Leaders

Candy Altman, corporate VP for Hearst Television stations gives these six tips for new managers:


You can’t do it all yourself, and if you do, two things happen – things won’t get done well and you won’t live up to your responsibility to train those who work for you.

Don’t stay in your comfort zone

New managers do this by gravitating toward people like them when hiring and focusing on tasks they know.

Adapt your skill set

Recognize the skills that made you great at your old job may not translate to your new job. Understand you will be dealing with a lot of gray areas in your new job, where your old job might have been fact-based.

Build your time management skills

Build them for work and for your life. If you don’t, you will be tortured all the time and feel like you’re not accomplishing anything. If you don’t find time to enjoy your life outside of work, you will burn out.

Know that it’s lonely at the top

Understand, truly understand that managing people can be isolating. You are making decisions that affect your employees’ livelihoods. You are evaluating them and giving them feedback. You are no longer their after-work, dinner, and drinking companion. Make new friends outside of work.

Define and communicate a vision

What do you stand for? If you want people to follow you, you must lead with a clear mission.

These are great reminders for seasoned managers and also for those who just may be starting out on their leadership journey.

What tools are you using to help your new managers to grow as leaders?

How to Create a Long-Term Company VisionSuccessful leaders understand they need a company vision, but it’s easy to lose sight of the long-term as you focus on the things right in front of you, those daily tactics and the weekly results they produce.

Leaders know how to create objectives and goals, but they become challenged when asked about their company vision and where they want to be in five, 10, even 15 years.

“Many businesses struggle with a lack of direction; the long-term vision gets swamped by the concerns and crises of the moment,” says Karl Stark and Bill Stewart in an Inc. article.

Lack of a strategic company vision to help you move your business forward can be detrimental to potential growth and long-term success.

Stark and Stewart offer a few ways to tackle the problem.


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