Leaders at work

By all reports, the 2014 Leadership Conference held in Red Deer on Sept. 22 and 23 was a great event. The lineup of keynote and session presenters offered useful and inspirational messages on a range of topics.

By all reports, the 2014 Leadership Conference held in Red Deer on Sept. 22 and 23 was a great event. The lineup of keynote and session presenters offered useful and inspirational messages on a range of topics.

Credit goes to the Leadership Centre of Central Alberta and conference sponsors for the effort in bringing it to Red Deer. It’s a safe bet that, whether a well-honed leader/manager or someone new in a managerial role, most of the conference participants came away with some helpful information to tackle issues in their workplace.

Although there are few “new” business theories, the development of leadership practices has evolved. The basic theories are still key to a thriving business, but the ability to relate and communicate with team members determine long-term success.

One of the presenters at the conference was Julie Straw. Straw is VP of Workplace Learning solutions at John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and co-author of The Work of Leaders, written in 2013.

Prominent leadership researchers interviewed over 300 subject matter experts at over 150 organizations to identify leadership’s best practices. Based on the six years of analysis, the authors developed a theory and methodology that “change the way leaders lead.”

The findings were broken into three areas: vision, alignment and execution. This helps leaders at all levels in an organization to complete their toolkit and utilize these best practices and achieve more impact at a higher level.

Let’s break down these three areas.

A vision statement is a guiding image of what success means to you and your business or organization. It requires the business/organization to stretch its expectations, aspirations and performance.

What makes you (and your business/company) and what you have to offer unique? What benefits arise for your prospects, customers and clients? Make it challenging, exciting and inspiring!


Crafting a vision is basically describing a future that the group/team will make a reality. Some examples of this may be as grandiose as Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, where he laid out in detail his dream of a country where all people are treated equally, or JFK’s vision of putting a man on the moon by the end of the sixties.

Other examples could be as down-to-earth such as increasing the productivity of a construction team by 20 per cent, integrating new product lines, creating aggressive new revenue goals, or creating a “destination workplace” where people actually want to work.


If the front wheels of your vehicle are out of alignment, the results are noise, overall wear and tear on the vehicle and lower fuel consumption. Proper adjustment improves safety and corrects efficiency.

Creating alignment in the workplace improves communication and co-operation among employees and fosters buy-in for the visions. Everyone involved has to understand their role in making the vision successful. Without this, the vision will never become reality.

Remember, we are dealing with human beings with different personalities, aspirations and agendas.

This is a process that needs monitoring and maybe even some realignment as needs or the situation changes.

This is similar to aircraft flights. They generally take off on time and land on time, but the journey is not a straight line. They change altitudes or direction to avoid storms and sometimes other planes. They always know where they are going to end up and the general timeframe.


Simply put, execution makes the vision a reality that reflects both its intention and the definition. At this point, leaders become champions of the execution. They have to have a deep belief and commitment to the outcome.

Julie believes that a champion should be a defender (of the team’s needed time), an advocate (for both the work and workers), a lobbyist (for adequate resources) and a booster (to keep the momentum going).

This is just an overview of a much more detailed process. I have worked with this process/product in a few companies in Red Deer and can attest to its value. It does require commitment but is well worth the effort.

Read Julie’s blog at http://blog.everythingdisc.com/

John MacKenzie is a certified business coach and authorized partner/facilitator for Everything DiSC and Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team, Wiley Brands. He can be reached at john@thebusinesstraininghub.com.

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