I just got back from a three day of speaking engagement at Vistage International Group in the Harrisburg area. It was a great trip. When I do these seminars, it always amazes me that no matter how small or big a company, CEO’s struggle with the same things. Whether you are just starting out or run a $10 million company, the things you are likely worrying about are:

• work/life balance;
• where your next sale is going to come from;
• the competition; and
• how to keep your staff or family happy.

A common thread for balancing all of these concerns is staying connected; that is connected to your goals, connected to the people who work with and for you, connected to what the competition is doing, and connected to the people in your life.

What happens when you don’t stay connected. We can learn some valuable lessons from a very big case in the news right now, Rupert Murdoch and the phone hacking and bribery scandal that is bringing down his signature publication News of the World, and threatens his media empire.

Murdoch insists he knew nothing about what was going on at News of the World. I’m not debating his integrity here, or whether he was or wasn’t in touch with what was really going on.

But the case itself reminded me that we often have blind spots as leaders. Ask yourself, are you clueless about your finances or balancing your checkbook if you are the CEO of your own life? When was the last time you looked at production in the warehouse? Do you delegate important parts of your life and/or business and forget about them.

So, today I thought I’d write about what you need to do to stay in touch with yourself and those around you whether you are running a business or a household.

1. Have an overall vision or goal.
You need a goal or vision to get where you want to go in business or in life. It does not need to be the 20-year overwhelming life vision. Start with something small. Without a vision you are aimlessly wandering around. By knowing what you want to achieve you know where to start.

2. Set some goals that are in line with your vision.
Once you have the bigger vision you need to have goals with targets that you can reach and measure. Use the “SMART” goal system when you do that. Don’t forget to assign responsibilities. Who is in charge of what? You will not be able to executive all of your goals, but you must make sure that all goals are being executed.

3. Maintain regular communication.
Very seldom do things go as planned. Ask any mother with two little children and she will tell you more often than not she has to adjust plans because something came up at the last minute. For example, she has to unexpectedly work late but one child has a soccer game and the other has a music lesson. She calls her husband and arranges for him to take one child to soccer practice. Next, she calls her sister to take the other child to her music lesson. And she communicates to both her husband and her sister that she can pick up both children, and a pizza, on the way home from work. What would happen if she didn’t make the call and communicate the new plan down the line? Things would probably come to a standstill.

The same is true in business. It’s not enough to communicate regularly, but also to talk about what is working and not working in how you run your household or business.

Be sure that the person got your communication. And one little tidbit: judgment and blame are optional. They usually slow the process down.

4. Be accountable and have accountability within the ranks.
Know your company is a reflection of you and always will be. First and foremost it is your job to hold yourself accountable and then you can hold everyone else accountable. Being accountable does not mean doing a perfect job. Being accountable means doing what you said you were going to do. For example, I have a pretty intense excise program. I run 3+ times a week, and I do yoga 3+ times a week. I have goals for each work out. I am accountable to myself by showing up at yoga or on the treadmill. There are times when I can do exactly what I set out to do, but there are days when I can do more or have a better work out. Then there are days when I’m capable of less. I am okay with that. As long as I showed up and did the best I could, I consider myself to be accountable. If I didn’t do my best, I get to be with that, and look at what happened to see how I can do better next tie. I am not perfect, and I am no longer in need of pretending that I ever will be.

Human beings will never be perfectly accountable or see all the blind spots, the real issue is how we respond to what’s going on. In the case of Murdock, you can be the judge of that.

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