Expert Insights - Be a Leader

COSE recently reached out to members of its Expert Network to address questions related to his or her field. Featured today is Jim Smith, The Executive Happiness Coach.

COSE recently reached out to members of its Expert Network to address questions related to his or her field. Featured today is Jim Smith, The Executive Happiness Coach.

What aspect of leadership do your clients struggle with most and why?

Easy question: doing instead of Leading

If you’re like most leaders, you started your career in the trenches. As you worked your way up, your early successes were about doing a job well. If you founded the company, you were the production, service, and sales departments. Even if you began as a supervisor, you likely managed front-line associates and served as backup worker during peak times. 

Now you hold a leadership role, but a conversation you still carry in your head is, “I can do X better than others.”  Stop that! You hired them to do the work and solve the problems—they need you to provide inspiration, coaching, and leadership!

When you hear yourself saying, “I don’t have time to manage people,” that’s a huge red flag that signals misaligned priorities. Try this exercise: Write down everything you do, then ask, “What should be getting done by someone else?”

When I started coaching Jack, he was stuck in a direct consulting role and unable to achieve Partner status. To help him bridge the gap between doing and leading, we created an image of him on an actual bridge. He’s holding onto ropes of various lengths attached to either end.  He can only hold so many ropes, and in order to step forward and pick up a new one on the leading side, he must hand off something from the doing end to someone else. 

What's one thing business leaders can do to balance a happy home life with a happy work life?

The one thing business leaders can do to happily balance work and home life is to Focus. Life/work balance is not about time—it’s about how “present” you are during the time you have.

The core issue for most people is a lack of boundaries between their two roles. Technology makes work-at-home possible, but the downside is it’s always pinging itself into your awareness.

Follow the advice of Frozen’s Queen Elsa, and “Let it Go” every so often.  If you are distracted or stressed, time you spend with kids can actually be detrimental.  What they need most from you is to be fully present. Studies show quality of time is far more important than quantity. When you are with your family, especially kids, strive to be fully present.

Eat dinner together. Have conversation. Read with them. Do activities. Even if it’s a short time, you’re creating memories and connections built on significant moments, not on duration.  You will feel more balanced and everyone will, in the end, feel happier. 

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  • Next up: Getting Your Team on Board

    Getting Your Team on Board

    The staff of your small business is your most valuable asset. How do you go about engaging your staff and ensuring they are on board for all of the success you have planned? Here are some resources to help.

    The staff of your small business is your most valuable asset. How do you go about engaging your staff and ensuring they are on board for all of the success you have planned? Here are some resources to help:

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  • Next up: Giving advice to the younger you

    Giving advice to the younger you

    During COSE's Annual Meeting on February 24, we asked attendees: "If you had 30 seconds or less to give advice to the younger you as they were embarking on their business career, what would you say?"

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  • Next up: 'Good Food, Good Content, Good Conversation': COSE Members Explain the Value Behind the COSE Annual Meeting

    'Good Food, Good Content, Good Conversation': COSE Members Explain the Value Behind the COSE Annual Meeting

    In the lead up to the 2018 COSE Annual Meeting later this month, we will be running a series of stories focused on what attendees are hoping to get out of this year’s event and the lessons they’ve learned from previous Annual Meetings. Read on below to learn what attendees took away from the 2017 COSE Annual Meeting.

    The COSE Annual Meeting represents a unique opportunity for you to make connections and attend educational sessions that will contribute to the growth of your business. But don’t take our word for it. See below for what attendees of the 2017 Annual Meeting had to say about their experience.

    Why did you register for the 2017 COSE Annual Meeting?

    Keith Ashmus, Frantz Ward LLP: It’s always about the people. Renewing friendships; getting new ideas; finding other professionals who are going through the same trials and tribulations; making new contacts; and getting psychic nourishment from the creative vibe of all those small business owners in one place.

    As for what I was able to take away, I learned that it is always important to have a vision and have fun trying to make that vision a reality.

    What value do you find in connecting with other COSE/Greater Cleveland Partnership members at events such as Annual Meeting?

    Mireille Wozniak-Michalak, Petiole HR: I was so busy during 2017 that it became difficult to keep in touch with my colleagues. Attending the Annual Meeting was my chance to say hello to these people and to remind myself to make time to meet with my fellow COSE members. COSE Annual Meeting is also an opportunity to be introduced to someone new.

    I’m also looking forward to learning about what COSE has accomplished on behalf of business owners such as myself and its priorities for 2018.

    What would you say to someone who is on the fence about whether to register for the 2018 COSE Annual Meeting?

    Alex Gertsburg, The Gertsburg Law Firm

    I would tell them that the events COSE and GCP put on, like the Annual Meeting, have really helped me personally increase my connections with fellow members and business owners. It’s also chock full of education and I have made friendships at events like this that I still keep to this day.

    Beyond that, I always have a good time. Good food, good content, good conversation.

    Swing on by the 2018 COSE Annual Meeting and get unique insights on leadership strategies and how to build a winning team from the Indians’ Terry Francona, Tom Hamilton and Paul Dolan. Click here to register today!
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  • Next up: Happy Employees Are Engaged Employees

    Happy Employees Are Engaged Employees

    Three out of every 10 workers are not properly engaged at work, which can hinder a company’s performance. Check out these five tips to keep your workers happy and engaged and your company’s performance humming along.

    Throughout 2018, Mind Your Business will be reviewing the highlights of the 2017 BizConCLE event hosted by COSE and the Greater Cleveland Partnership. Today’s article focuses on the lessons small business owners can learn about engaging their employees from Gallup’s Stephen Shields. Read the other stories in this series here.

    There are a lot of things businesses can’t control: their competition, federal and state regulations, costs, etc. But there is, according to Gallup’s Stephen Shields, one factor that companies can influence and that’s their own human capital.

    During a keynote address at the 2017 BizConCLE, Shields said the best way to manage this variable is by doing their best to engage the employees they have on staff. He defined the difference between an engaged employee and one who is not engaged as being the percentage of time they expend what he deemed “discretionary effort.” That is, that little something extra that isn’t in an employee’s official job description, but something they decide to do anyway on their own to help their organization.

    So, how do you create an environment within your business that encourages this engagement? Shields laid out five tips.

    Tip No. 1: Focus on the immediate supervisor of your employees (not the owner or senior leadership.) When Shields was a call center supervisor, for instance, he put on his calendar everyday that he would spend seven minutes each day walking the floor and talking with his direct reports on a personal level to establish more of a personal connection. This level of connection is important, he said, because people are emotional creatures, and not robots programmed to simply do a task.

    Tip No. 2: Keep things simple. Ask these direct bosses, what is one thing you can do to better engage with the staff (such as the example listed above.)

    Tip No. 3: Make sure your employees know what’s expected of them. That you listen and take their opinions to heart. You provide the resources to your teams to get the job done. And your employees understand the company’s mission and why certain actions are being taken.

    Tip No. 4: Weed out people who aren’t going to be an engaged employee early on during the interview process. (Shields said it takes four engaged employees to make up for one actively disengaged worker.) Ask them during the interview what the most challenging thing about their last position was and how they handled that challenge? If they make excuses about that position, chances are they’ll make more excuses if you bring them onboard.

    Tip No. 5: Hold everyone accountable. Don’t let your staff get away with not doing their jobs because that type of attitude will rub off on their coworkers.

    BizConCLE is just one example of the many educational events hosted by the Greater Cleveland Partnership and COSE each year to help give the business community the knowledge they need to make their business a success. Check out this list of upcoming events to find one that’s right for you.
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  • Next up: Heard Any Good Books Lately?

    Heard Any Good Books Lately?

    Multitasking takes on a whole new meaning when you’re on wheels. Get where you’re going and learn a little something at the same time with audio books.

    Confused about the title? I’ll explain shortly.

    As busy business leaders, we face lots of challenges doing our jobs or running our businesses. One of the most important challenges we face is the need for on-going professional education. We may recognize the importance of life-long learning, but who has the time and energy to do any of it?

    One simple strategy that I’ve found to deal with this paradox is to embrace the concept of the ‘University of the Automobile.’ Here’s how it works. Assume the average person commutes to work an hour a day over a 40-year work life. Do the math; that’s 10,000 hours spent in the car—even more if you use your car during the workday or for business travel.

    That is more time than you would spend in class, studying and doing assignments to earn both a BS and MBA degree. Most current business books are available free from your public library in CD format or for downloading to your phone or iPod. Plus, there are thousands of podcasts that relate to the business challenges you might be facing.

    So, make a commitment today to spend part of your daily commute learning. It won’t take long for ‘part’ to become ‘all’ of your commute when you see the value first hand.

    Where do you start? Ask your colleagues what they’ve been reading. Google ‘new business books.’ Or, check out one of the best business books I’ve read recently: The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter and How They Can Help You,’ by Jack Covert & Todd Sattersten, 2009, The Penguin Group, New York, NY. The detailed summaries have useful content. Therefore, they help me determine if I want to read—or listen to—the whole book and make it easy for me to impress people that I actually did read the whole book.

    Hey, as Jim Collins might say, “… works for me.”

    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication,,440-449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.  

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