Leader or Manager – which one are you?

Boss vs Leader

Lead don’t Boss your company

What sets apart  managers from leaders? Is there a difference between them?  We have looked at this subject before on the Ember Carriers blog.  And we are visiting the topic again because I get this question a lot with my clients or in discussions with company CEO’s.

I have found over the past few years running my own consulting practice that just because you are a good manager does not mean you will make a great leader. When I conduct our “Leaders vs. Managers” workshop this concept can sound weird at first to participants.  However, after some discussion, people start to understand that the two concepts are not mutually exclusive or inclusive to each other.

I have been a big believer in differentiating between managing a group of people and leading a group of people or even a company, ever since the earliest days of my career. The best leaders are the ones who are always looking to move the business they run onto the next stage of its development.  Being a good manager is a skill that has only been developed over the last 100 years and is acquired with experience (lots of experience). Knowing how to deal with your workforce on an individual and collective basis is a vital part of any well run organisation or business.

The key ingredients of any successful business are the people who work for it. Get the right mixture of people working for you and you will be well on the road to success. Having the right leadership team in place is vital if you want to ensure that your workforce is going to operate to its full potential.

But being a great leader involves a completely different set of skills and many cases more art than science. Businesses often make the mistake of failing to differentiate between the two concepts believing their good managers can be good leaders in their absence. When I evaluate someone in a leadership role for one of my clients, I am looking for a very specific set of qualities. I am looking for people who have passion, commitment, conviction and most important of all – vision.

The need for a strong leadership team should never be underestimated, it’s that team that will really make the difference on every level. People like to know that the company they are working for has a clear sense of direction and purpose.

Generally speaking if you want commitment from your employees then you have to demonstrate to them that the executive team share that commitment.  The commitment that employees make to the company they work for should never be underestimated or undervalued. That is why identifying the right caliber of people to fill leadership roles is so important.

Too often companies, particularly those run by the company’s founders, do not think about succession planning until it is too late. Not planning properly for the future can be a fatal mistake, as a company without a proper leadership team in place is always going to fail.

The trick to having a successful succession strategy in place is to park your ego and look at the situation in a logical way. Not everyone can be around forever, and if truth be told, often a company can benefit from having a fresh injection of talent and ideas right at the very top.

I would say it is vital to identify people who are going to lead a company forward rather than just manage the business. That is why it is so important to differentiate between management and leadership.

Once you have done that, the next thing to do is place your trust in the new leadership team, take a step back and let them get on with the job.Call a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a free strategy session consultation to learn how you can fuel your workplace.

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Self Doubt? Stop It!

No matter how long you have had your company or where you are in your career, CEO’s and company leaders can stay encouraged by learning how to respond more effectively to their

Will Smith

Don’t let the outside get in!

circumstances. The pressure of running a company or leading a large employee base can be daunting, I get that. With a some effort and gracious optimism, you can feel more empowered and energized in the face of obstacles.

What is gracious optimism? I like that notion. I was just speaking to mid-size business owner last week.  My many accounts the business was doing well and the the owner was successful in other respects, and a rock star in his industry. The interesting thing about this person is he held a deeply guarded belief that he wasn’t “anything special.” He questioned whether he was worthy of his current success not to speak of his future success. He told he was “just stupid luck ” I noticed that he placed stock on what what others thought of his contributions. and while have a close circle of confidants or advisers are a good idea for business leaders, for this person it paralyzed his decision making ability.

Over lunch, after listening to him vacillate between two opinions for this advisory group that were contradictory in their natures, I finally asked him what he thought.  He told this was not “his area of expertise,” and had no idea which direction to go.  I then asked what is the worse that could happen regardless of which direction he took.  Nothing he told seemed devastating, earth shattering, or a fatal business move.  Both decisions had risk and reward – they were merely two schools of thought on how to arrive at the same destination.

I then asked him to give himself some grace.  Often times, are close inner circle or trusted advisers, although they mean well, can be our biggest critics and detractors.  I asked him to further reflect on why these opinions mattered so much. He realized that in large part, it was tied to managers from his early career who devalued his abilities as nothing special, which forced him to prove that he was worthy of their attention. Holy Insights, Batman! This was huge.  And I think once he said it out loud he realized it was a big part of what might be holding him back.

In a vlog post on May 5th, Jeff Walker, Internet Marketing guru, talked about how to deal with haters and critics.  And noted that sometimes even our family can be critics and detractors in our lives.  Often it is someone who is not doing anything great in their life and they want to pull you down to make themselves feel better. Jeff Walker went on to say that how he deals with haters and critics is he doesn’t.  He doesn’t allow these folks to have “any power over how (he) feels.”  Jeff goes on to state that he knows he is making a huge impact and that is enough.

So back to my business owner, sitting with his new revelation, that despite his anxiousness and fear of making the “wrong” decision, he was a success and a blessing to many. Through grace and a little sprinkling of optimism he understood that the tapes he was playing in his head were really those of his family and mentors who may not have really supported his love of business in the first place.

Talk about things that make you go…Hmmm!

So what is YOUR self‐talk telling you? Do you know where did those thoughts come from? What is you gave yourself some GRACE? What if you looked at tings not has daunting but as exhilarating.

I once had someone tell me that our self doubts are “often the result of the outside getting in.” These voices can be those of your spouse, your parents, teachers, your boss, your children and authority figures who were once relied upon for safety and approval. In our Insights to Personal Effectiveness workshop we often tell participates that the key is awareness.  By developing a sense of awareness, leaders can learn to question some of those internalized voices.

So STOP! Don’t just listen to your doubting self‐talk and accept it as reality. Instead give yourself a break.  Challenge these beliefs, question them. Consider the impact you have on the world around you. Have some optimistic thoughts that allow you to celebrate to good and bad decisions because at lease you made the decision. At least you took a risk.  And don’t let other be the center of decisions.  You had the CONFIDENCE to start your business or climb the corporate ladder to your current position STOP self doubt and go and do something GREAT!!

If you are CEO and senior business leader looking for a way to move your business forward call a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a no cost, no obligation strategy session to learn how you can take your company to a next level of success.

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5 Key Traits of Great Leaders

Leadership Traits

Leadership Traits

In the book, Lessons From the Top: The Search for America’s Best Business Leaders, Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, made the following observation:

“I think it’s very difficult to lead today when people are not really truly participating in the decision. You won’t be able to attract and retain great people if they don’t feel like they are part of the authorship of the strategy and the authorship of the really critical issues. If you don’t give people an opportunity to really be engaged, they won’t stay.”

As a business owner with employees, one of your primary goals is most likely to attract and keep motivated workers. So let’s explore the five key traits that will help you become the kind of leader people love working for.

You must have a strong vision. We’ve all heard the saying “You must stand for something, or you’ll fall for everything.” But what does that really mean? Standing firm when it comes to your company’s policies and procedures is all well and good, but it doesn’t speak to having a vision. As a leader, you have to learn to communicate your vision or the vision of your company to the people you want to follow you. But how can you do that?

  • Learn to paint a picture with words. Speak it, write it, draw it, touch it. Whatever methods you can use to create a picture, do it. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
  • Ask each of the other managers in your company to tell you, in their own words, about the vision of the company. How close is it to what you thought they understood? Is your team on the same page as you?
  • As you work, your company’s vision should be in your mind every day, and you should reevaluate it occasionally so that it stays current with the changing times in which we live. And remember, your staff needs to be just as involved as you in keeping it up to date if you truly want them to buy in on the vision. Be sure to keep your key players involved.

You must have authentic passion. Your employees want real passion; in fact, they’ll go to the ends of earth because of it, live and die for it. Think of the sailors who traveled with Christopher Columbus or Leif Ericsson to explore uncharted territory. Their leaders’ passion inspired them to take on new and very dangerous challenges.

To build an extraordinary management team, you’ve got to light the “fire in their bellies,” to get them to feel passion about the company and connect to the leader’s vision. Passion is such a key part of being a great leader that if you don’t have it, you simply can’t be a great leader. Think of all the great leaders throughout the ages and try to name one that did not have passion.

And passion is infectious: When you talk about your vision for the company, let your passion for your vision shine through. Others will feel it and want to get on board with you. If you don’t have passion for your vision, you need to recreate your vision or reframe your description of your vision so it’s connected to your passion.

You must be a great decision maker. How are major decisions made in your company? What is your process for making them? For instance, do you talk to your management team and create a list of pros and cons to help you make the best decision? Maybe you conduct a cost analysis. Or do you create a timeline for the implementation strategy, process and timing?

Some leaders have a set process, and others fly by the seat of their pants. But you don’t want to be one of those leaders who consults no one before making a decision, announces the change the next day and then gets frustrated when no one follows it. If you’re one of those, I urge you to implement a set process.

In fact, here’s a system you can use to become a better decision maker. It’s called the Q-CAT:

  • Q = Quick. Be quick but not hasty.
  • C = Committed. Be committed to your decision but not rigid.
  • A = Analytical. Be analytical, but don’t over-analyze (Too much analysis can cause paralysis.)
  • T = Thoughtful. Be thoughtful about all concerned, but don’t be obsessive.

When you use the Q-CAT, it’ll help you to decide when to bring others into the process and what steps need to be taken to help you make better decisions.

You must be a team builder. To become a great leader, you must develop a great team or, one might say, a well-oiled machine. But how do you do that? You can start by handing off responsibility to your team and letting your team to run with it. Don’t breathe down their necks and don’t micromanage, but make yourself available if questions or problems come up. Teach your team to use the Q-CAT decision-making system and give them the freedom to work through their own decisions.

When projects aren’t on track or your team is falling behind on deadline, it serves no one if you start pointing fingers. This is when you need to rise to the occasion and inspire confidence in your employees, to let them know you support them and ready to help. Be ready to alter plans and make new ones. Don’t forget to use humor to keep your team’s spirits up during a crisis. When an emergency hits, your team will look to you to be a tower of strength and endurance.

You must have character. Without character, all the other “keys” are for naught. That’s because your innate character strengths and limitations play a critical role in your leadership style. The real question is, are you aware of just what role they play? All great leaders have taken steps to learn about their individual personality and what part it plays in their leadership style.

So what’s your leadership style? If you don’t know, take the Insights Discovery assessment. There are dozens of other to choose from–the important part is that you “Just do it,” as the Nike ad would say, and see how you rate. It’s a good way to do a “character check” on yourself and your leadership skills.

Then, once you’ve done the assessment, the question to ask yourself is, do you feel your character matches what the assessments are pointing out to you?

If you feel the traits don’t match who you think you are, then look a little deeper and be honest with yourself. Sometimes our first response is defensive. You might want to assess yourself with a different type of profile and then compare the results. The 360 Degree Feedback model, there’s an opportunity to see how your employees and peers view you, too. In learning to be a great leader, the first step is to be open to feedback about yourself as a leader and separate it from you the person.

So are you a great leader?

Or do you have the desire to become one?

Remember, a great leader is someone who has a clear vision and can turn that vision into a vivid picture that others can see. When you speak about your vision, it should be with a passion you feel in your heart, a passion that creates so much enthusiasm that your team will want to jump on board. When major decisions need to be made, you should encourage everyone to use the Q-CAT system and be responsible for his or her own actions. And you should be continually assessing your own character and never stop growing, personally or professionally.

If you can apply the five keys to great leadership, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a great leader surrounded by great employees!

Call a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a free strategy session to learn how you can fuel your workplace.

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Twitter: www.twitter.com/embercarriers|LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mhladio


The Ideal Student LinkedIn Profile (Continued)

Last week after a conversation with my Xavier University mentee about his LinkedIn Profile I wrote a post on a couple key components for an ideal student profile. Well the list was completed so I thought this week I would give you the rest of the key components for a great profile

1. Claim a Personal URL

LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn Profile Sample

LinkedIn has made it their mission to be the first result in a Google Search when someone googles your name. You can help this matter along by claiming a personal URL. Sorry, John Smith, but you may have to get a little bit more creative with middle initials.

To claim a personal URL, go to the LinkedIn homepage: “Profile > Edit Profile” and use the “edit” button below your photo to create a personal URL.

2. Show Off Your Education and Volunteering

This is your chance, valedictorian or volunteer of the year. Show off how awesome of a student you have been or your countless involvement in organizations.

Perhaps you have volunteered at six nursing homes or shelters in the last year. Whatever it may be, use your efforts from school, volunteer projects and organizations to improve your student profile on LinkedIn.  Don’t be timid. Make sure to include your responsibilities concerning school projects and organizations.

 3. Utilize Group Badges

Having the ideal student profile isn’t just about having badges on your profile. It’s about how you connect with the people in those groups.

Group badges on your profile show others that you’re connected, and moreover, show others that you’re willing to connect. Your willingness to connect lends to the idea that you want to learn from other people. When you want to learn from other people, you don’t look like a know-it-all.

People will make assumptions about you. Make the assumptions count.

4. Endorse and Be Endorsed in Return

You have spent hours creating a detail oriented profile in an attempt to communicate value. In creating a detail orientated profile, you’ve made sure to present the value you’ve brought from past employers and the values future employers may expect from you.

Now, you need someone to confirm this. Endorsements are more informal than recommendations, but they are important in building the ideal student profile on LinkedIn.

Endorsements allow legitimacy to be brought to the value you’re claiming to have. Endorsing someone’s skills on LinkedIn is not complicated. Simply, click “Endorse [this skill]” on an individual’s profile.

What are you waiting for? Endorse a skill and reap the reward.

5. Collect and Give Recommendations

If a former employer or professor is active on LinkedIn, ask former managers, co-workers, and colleagues if they’re willing to write you a recommendation based on your work with them.

Recommendations reinforce the values mentioned in your profile. Also, if one area of your profile is not as compelling as you’d like, recommendations can strengthen a profile.

You’re ready to begin networking!

Signup for FuelNation (info@embercarriers.com) to get more career, management and leadership advice.


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I Don’t Understand – Getting Employees Onboard

Young man with doesn't know gesture

What happens when employees don’t understand?

What is the hardest part of implementing new processes in your business? For most companies, it is learning the new process and actually getting people to do things differently?

Michael Hammer, the business-process-reengineering guru, stated “The hard stuff is the soft stuff.” What he was alluding to is the “soft stuff” is our people – working with their emotions, beliefs, and getting through their heads why we are making changes.

Do you agree that getting the “soft stuff” right is sometimes very difficult (hard) to do? If not then stop reading this post is not for you.

There are three things that your employees will probably never tell you:

  • That they do not understand what you are asking of them.
  • They are afraid of changes.
  • They don’t see an answer to their WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) questions they have.

These employee secrets can absolutely kill your company.

Let’s look further into the first issue, lack of understanding.

There’s a famous phrase credited to Woolsey and Swanson that goes something like this: “People would rather put up with a problem they cannot solve than accept a solution they do not understand.” People would rather keep doing things the way they have always done them, and beat their heads against the wall, than to do something differently or accept a solution they do not understand. It’s incumbent on us to think through how to help people understand changes. A fundamental technique is to ask them to repeat back to you what it is you said, and I hope you try to use this one as often as possible.

Here is a four-step approach to use in a group setting.

  1. Share the basic proposal and information (The What, How, Why) verbally. Use visual aids. Keep this short.
  2. Ask the group to write down a summary of the important points.
  3. Break the larger groups into smaller groups of 2-4 people and have them discuss what they wrote down.
  4. Have several of the groups share their version of what you presented.

If they repeat exactly what you were looking for, that is a home run. If not, you have more work to do. 

Take the extra time to make your ideas more visual. 

In a lot of organizations, large and small, we rely heavily on on-the-job training to learn a new skill. The training is often verbal, and it flashes by very quickly, with almost nothing visual to reinforce what it is we are looking for. Here we can use what is called standard visual work – creating visual images, step-by-step instructions, or accompanying screen shots and photographs. 

Creating what is called The Visual Workplace.

You physically move equipment, desks, people’s work areas and the stuff they work with, redesigning the workplace so that tasks can only be done in one physical way. Your people will have to physically do business in a new and different way. Playing a little bit off of Hammerism, this would be a form of the hard stuff, or physical infrastructure, driving the soft stuff. If you physically transform the workplace so that people have to do things in a new and different way, it is very difficult to resist doing so, and difficult not to understand what you are looking for.

Help people learn,

Understand and remember what you want, which is to make learning and understanding a part of job descriptions and performance appraisals. This takes a lot of the burden off you. Make it your employees’ responsibility to make sure they understand what you want, to request clarification until they do understand, and to make it clear to you that they understand. They need to be able to articulate this understanding to you day-by-day. It’s a condition of their employment.

Lastly, sometimes you just have to ask questions.

Do the communicating and wait a reasonable period of time. Then go back and ask questions about what people got out of that communication, and whether or not they understood what it is you were talking about?

If you would like more information on to be more efficient and effective with your employees, contact a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a no cost, no obligation strategy session to discuss your company’s needs.

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Twitter: www.twitter.com/embercarriers|LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mhladio


Innovation, Optimization, Capital Key to Sustainable Growth

Business Growth

Don’t take chances with your business growth

The formula for success is certainly not new:

Innovation +Optimization + Capital =Sustainable Growth

It has been stated and practiced by business experts and industry leaders for time and time again. Why then, do companies fall short or struggle?

Some experts think that perhaps they do not understand that the formula. You have all the components defined and quantified for the formula to work. It is not sufficient to work on one variable and hope the others fall in line. They are all part of a complex and interconnected puzzle.

Maybe the real reason the formula fails is that most companies do not clearly understand the magnitude and implications of these variables.  So theye fall short in implementing them one or more of them.

To clarify the each element let’s ask the following questions and see how your business stacks up?


  • Does leadership encourage questioning of current methods and support exploring potentially better ways of doings things?
  • Do they foster innovation and consider it a competitive advantage?
  • Does the workforce have “think time” or are they too consumed with executing the current processes? “

Innovate or die” is a maxim that is vital, but often is just a plaque on a wall somewhere. We believe that a company must develop and implement active, measurable innovation and creativity processes that involve the entire organization for the company to thrive and be relevant.inflatable water slides


  • Do you know how much it costs to process a purchase order?
  • Do you really know how much it costs to produce and distribute a product? 
  • Do you actively practice lean and six sigma methodologies? Are the communication chain and technology systems functioning in a smooth and seamless manner?

Our research shows that, in most companies, many processes are sub-optimal at best and there are areas where minimal intervention can result in sizable benefits.


  • Do management and the workforce understand basic economics?
  • What financial parameters does the company set for each member of its workforce? 
  • Has the company optimized AR, AP and current debt obligations?
  • What cash or debt is needed to grow the company?
  • Where can it be gotten and at what cost? 
  • Does the company have succession and exit plans in place?

We have seen that this area is often the least understood and companies often operate literally by the ‘seat of their pants’.

For a company to maximize its potential and be consistently relevant in a global economy it must actively manage all three areas simultaneously. Each of these three aspects must be clearly understood, measured and become an integral part of all strategic business plans and daily operations decisions.

If you would like more information improving your company’s growth, contact a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a no cost, no obligation strategy session to discuss your company’s needs.

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Twitter: www.twitter.com/embercarriers|LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/mhladio