Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How Sponsors Are Not Mentors, And Why You Need A Sponsor

"Sponsors are not mentors.  Sponsors are powerful leaders who see potential in you and, provided you give them 110 percent, will go out on a limb to make things happen for you," explains author Sylvia Ann Hewlett in her new book, Executive Presence.

She adds that because sponsors have a vested interest in how you turn out (your reputation now being linked with their own), they will give you the kind of feedback that mentors can't or won't.

Monday, September 15, 2014

How To Expose The Real Issues That Underlie Paradoxes In Modern Organizations

With the demands of technology, transparency, and constant connectedness, and calls for higher performance, leaders from the front line to the C-suite face complex dilemmas that cannot be easily denied or postponed. These perplexing, recurring issues are familiar to anyone in a leadership role today, including: 
  • How do I balance my functional or business unit goals with the needs of my peers and the whole company?  
  • How do I support and promote others while still advancing my own career?
  • How do I emphasize teamwork and still reward the “stars”? 
  • Can I really devote enough time and energy to both family and work?    
These are not “problems” but paradoxes—situations in which there will never be a single correct solution—and while they make many leaders feel overwhelmed and challenged, a new book provides help.
  • The Unfinished Leader is a modern handbook for recognizing, facing, and inspiring others to expose the real issues that underlie paradoxes in modern organizations. Leaders must first recognize situations they will never be able to “solve” and understand how to confront the barriers—in their own heads and their organizations—that push them towards seeking ultimate solutions that don’t exist. Leading through complexity requires giving up the illusion of control, consistency, and closure, while embracing the reality of being permanently “unfinished.” 
The book draws from interviews with 100 CEOs and top leaders from a wide range of companies—such as:
  • Avon
  • Nike
  • Colgate
  • DeutschePost DHL
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • PepsiCo
And, it provides the mindsets and tools to recognize contradictory requirements, understand  competing demands, and still be able to take action.

The Unfinished Leader will help leaders at all levels understand and excel at their true task: guiding themselves and their teams through ongoing paradoxes, reconciling competing outcomes, continually changing and adapting, and thereby building lasting success.

Learn more about Leadership.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

David Grossman Releases New eBook On How To Get Employees On Your Side During Cost Cuts

"Talking to employees about cost cuts is a difficult job for leaders and communicators, yet it is vitally important to get it right, especially now that it is such a big part of the way businesses function," explains communications expert, David Grossman.
He adds that, "Scores of the Fortune 500 clients we’ve worked with at The Grossman Group are cutting costs, and often that’s not because of financial issues. Instead, cutting costs is seen as a smart business practice, designed to help a company prioritize so it can innovate, invest smartly and grow."
"At the same time, poorly communicated cuts can severely damage employee morale, as well as a company’s ultimate results. In our experience, leaders who know how to communicate company changes ultimately succeed because high engagement levels are leading indicators of financial performance and other positive business results."
Drawing from case studies of leading businesses, Grossman's latest free eBookCutting to Win: 6 Steps For Getting Employees on Your Side During Cost Cuts, offers 6 critical steps and strategies to help you navigate through times of change within your company.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

6 Questions To Ask At The End Of A Project

Just a little more advice from the authors of, Helping People Win At Work.  Those authors, Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge, recommend you ask the following six essential questions whenever you do a project review:
  1. What did we set out to do?
  2. What actually happened?
  3. Why did this happen?
  4. What will we do next time?
  5. What should we continue to do?
  6. What should we do differently?
Seems simple enough, but how often do we really take the time to step back and ask ALL six of these questions?
  • And, these questions are important to ask even if there was no mistakes made during the project.
Continually planning and executing without the value of a review can blindside you.

Get more great advice from their book.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

8-Point Plan For A Powerful Team

Take some quality time to read the book by C. Elliott HaverlackUnbunde It, because it explores the issues you face as a leader with a twist that is different from many other leadership books.  Throughout, the book offers suggestions on how to overcome the burden that complexity creates in our lives and businesses.

Most intriguing for me is Haverlack's straight-forward, unbundled insights on teams.  "The healthiest teams trust each other," explains the author.  "When we trust, we tend to be more transparent and are more likely to share the hurdles we need to leap.  And, once trust becomes a competency, accountability comes much more easily."  And, accountability is the key to delivering results.

Haverlack's eight-point plan for a powerful team is:
  1. Engage a group that shares your core values.
  2. Set aspirational yet achievable goals for the company and every individual.
  3. Create an environment that encourages and rewards trust.
  4. Empower every individual to create and achieve greatness.
  5. Persuade them to stretch.
  6. Love them when they fail.
  7. Create an environment that encourages and rewards self-discipline.
  8. Have the courage to exit those from the team who do not fit.
Other particularly useful sections in Unbundle It are the ones on:
  • Tips for excellence in the email world
  • Ground rules for meetings
  • Coaching
Another of my favorite parts of the book is what Haverlack titled, The Silence Is Deafening.  He writes, "One of Colin Powell's leadership principals is, 'The day soldiers top bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care.  Either case is a failure of leadership.'"

Haverlack continues to say, "We can apply this same sentiment to business.  If your employees stop sharing their thoughts and concerns with you, you are failing to lead.  Allowing your people to think you're incompetent or uncaring is not acceptable."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How To Be A Customer-Facing Employee

According to author Micah Solomon, to ensure you have customer-facing employees, help them to:
  • Display simple human kindness 
  • Sense what another person is feeling 
  • Have an inclination toward teamwork 
  • Be detail oriented, including having the ability and willingness to follow through to completion 
  • Bounce back and do not internalize challenges

Monday, September 8, 2014

How To Access A Job Candidate's Leadership Skills

The next time you are interviewing a candidate and you want to access their leadership skills, consider asking the candidate these questions:
  1. What personal qualities define you as a leader?  Describe a situation when these qualities helped you lead others.
  2. Give an example of when you demonstrated good leadership.
  3. What is the toughest group from which you've had to get cooperation?
  4. Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas?  What was your approach?  Did it work?
  5. Describe a situation in which you had to change your leadership style to achieve the goal?
  6. One leadership skill is the ability to accommodate different views in the workplace, regardless of what they are.  What have you done to foster a wide number of views in your work environment?
Thanks to Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential HR Handbook, for these helpful questions!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

How To Transform Yourself Into An Optimist

Every leader experiences periods of ups and downs. Hopefully, more up periods.

If you struggle with too many down periods, it might be because you have perfectionist tendencies.

Transform yourself into an optimist by:
  1. Viewing failure as an opportunity to learn and understand that failure is part of a fulfilling life.
  2. Making room for pain. Don't deny yourself permission to feel painful emotions.
  3. Setting standards that are attainable because they are grounded in reality. Don't set goals and standards that are essentially impossible to meet.
You can learn more about being an optimist by reading the book, The Pursuit Of The Perfect: How To Stop Chasing Perfection And Start Living A Richer, Happier Life, by Tal Ben-Shahar

Saturday, September 6, 2014

7 Tips For Setting Goals

Some of the best advice I've ever found about goal-setting is from two-time U.S. Olympian Alan Culpepper, as published the November 2013 issue of Competitor magazine.

Here are his seven tips for setting goals, whether are your workplace or away-from-work goals:
  1. Be clear and specific about what it is you are trying to accomplish.
  2. Set intermediate goals that complement a long-term goal.
  3. Shoot high, but recognize the importance of a natural progression.
  4. Write your goals down.
  5. Review your goals periodically.
  6. Remind yourself often why you are working on your goal.
  7. And, remember even if you don't hit your goal, there is satisfaction the process.

How To Help An Employee Learn From His Mistakes

Mistakes happen. The best thing you can do as a leader is to help your employee learn from his (or her) mistake.

If your employee is afraid of ever making a mistake, he will be paralyzed from taking action or taking even calculated risks. If he knows that mistakes happen in the course of doing business and that one learns from making mistakes, you will have a more productive employee.

Most important, be sure your employee knows that if he makes a mistake, he should let you know as soon as possible.

As soon as he does, quickly rectify the situation.

Then, discuss with him how the mistake happened. Find out what he did or didn't do. Ask him what he thinks he can do in the future to avoid the mistake from happening again. Chances are he has already figured this out. If not, teach him what he needs to do differently to avoid the mistake from reoccurring.

Finally, you may discover that the mistake happened because policies, procedures or your assignment instructions were confusing or unclear. Learn from that discovery and decide what you can do differently as the manager to help your employees avoid future mistakes.

Friday, September 5, 2014

How To Project A Professional Image

From Jay Miletsky's book, 101 Ways to Successfully Market Yourself, here 10 tips for projecting an effective professional image:
  1. Discipline yourself to be positive and enthusiastic.
  2. In tense situations choose positive responses by maintaining perspective and getting along well with others.
  3. Acknowledge mistakes and shortcomings and learn how to correct them.
  4. Develop a reputation for being a resourceful problems solver.
  5. Leverage your strengths and expertise to have maximum impact on the decisions you make.
  6. Be organized, efficient, flexible, and self-motivated.
  7. Master your tasks and fully expand your area of expertise so that you can boost your output.
  8. Keep up with the latest developments in your company and in your field.
  9. Cultivate unique talents that give you a definite edge.
  10. Gain visibility by taking the kind of action that will propel you into the right sights of management personnel.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Philanthropy Is About Involvement

Here's one more piece of great advice from Eli Broad's book, The Art of Being Unreasonable:

"Philanthropy isn't just a pursuit for the wealthy.  Philanthropy is about involvement.  Pick your issue, work at it, and do your best to make things happen.  Even if you're not wealthy, you have time, expertise, skills and other resources you may not even have realized that can be used to serve others."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

4 Ways To Create Customer Satisfacation

Here are four great customer service tips from author Micah Solomon's book, High-tech, High-touch Customer Service:

You provide value when you deliver the four components that reliably create customer satisfaction:
  • A perfect product or service
  • Delivered in a caring, friendly manner
  • On time (as defined by the customer)
  • With the backing of an effective problem-resolution process

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Classiest "I Lost My Job" Email

A former co-worker learned last week that his job will be eliminated next month.  The email he sent to his customers, former customers, colleagues, former colleagues and friends is by far the classiest, most authentic, heartfelt I've ever seen.

Below are excerpts from his email.  Talk about class!

"If you are receiving this  "special email " you have made an impact on my career.  For that, a very heartfelt “thank you."

I was informed this week that my position...will be eliminated.

First, to all of the customers I worked with over the years it was a pleasure to serve you.  I  tried  to autograph all of my work with excellence....For current customers, please let me know if there is anything I can do before my departure. 

To all my current and former co-workers, it was a real pleasure working side-by-side with each and every one of you.  Keep up the good work.  Many of you have taught me important life lessons (you know who you are).  

To my many industry colleagues...friends and everyone else who crossed my path over the past 11 years (25+ overall years) at meetings, events, in corridors, at the airport, and wherever my travels took me, I want to thank you for making an impression on me.  I hope I also made an impression on you.

Someone once told me that "people's lives take different turns."  Looking back at my career, I've seen my fair share of them.  I hope to see you around the next corner wherever that might take me.  As I open this next chapter in my life, I wish all of you the best.

Finally, I am a firm believer that an honest life is the only life which will bring no regrets."

Monday, September 1, 2014

How To Help Your Employees "Click" To Drive Their Career Success

Research from universities around the country show that employees who "click" with each other at work have more career success.  And, those who "click" well get to the core of the office network within 18 months, while it can take years for those who don't "click" well.

As a leader, there are things you can do and things you can encourage your employees to do to promote better clicking.

Consider these findings from the research:
  • How much you reveal about yourself to a co-worker helps you click.
  • The more you open up and share your feelings, the more trust you build and the more likely you'll build a connection with a co-worker.
  • Having an office or cubicle in the central area of your workplace increases your ability for clicking opportunities.
  • Sitting near the middle of a conference table brings you more clicking opportunities, as well.
  • Keeping your office door open, communicating in person versus e-mail or via the phone, allows you to click more.
  • The more face-to-face interactions with a co-worker, even if you don't have a conversation, will generally increase your chances of liking that person.
  • The more you pick up on subtle social cues and then tailor your responses to situations, the more you'll click.
  • Interacting with a co-worker 10 times versus only five times means you'll likely think that person is more attractive, intelligent, warm and honest.