Sunday, December 21, 2014

20 Influential Women Share Their Business And Life Secrets In Leading Women

The 19 women contributors who share there secrets to leadership, business and life in Leading Women make this new book an uplifting, motivational and revealing read.

Nancy D. O'Reilly, PsyD, and founder of describes her book as providing tools for making your voice heard and for gaining the respect and opportunities you need to claim your right place, share your life, provide for your family, and invent a better society.

Among the 19 contributors who shared their stories, in addition to the stories O'Reilly shares, are:
  • Gloria Feldt, cofounder and president of Take the Lead
  • Lois P. Frankel, PhD, president of Corporate Coaching International
  • Marci Shimoff, author of Love for No Reason and Happy for No Reason
  • Linda Rendleman, cofounder of the Women Like Us Foundation
  • Marcia Reyonlds, PsyD, president of Covisioning, LLC
  • Joanna L. Krotz, journalist and entrepreneur
Five percent of all publisher's proceeds from the book will be donated to Take the Lead, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization with a mission to prepare, develop, inspire, and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025.

Some of the more compelling words advice from the book's contributors include:
  • Fewer words strengthen a message, but more words soften it.
  • Think strategically, but act tactically.
  • The courageous leader asks for the tough project that no one wants and stays focused daily on the results.
  • The speed of change depends on how much you live in a state of curiosity instead of certainty.
  • When you work in alignment with who you are, it's not work.
You can read more about all of the book's contributing writers by visiting

How To Assess Your Organization Using The 5Cs

Within the first 100 days as a new leader in an organization, you'll want to assess your organization's risk.

Authors George Bradt, Jayme A. Clark and Jorge Pedraza, in their book, The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan, suggest you do your assessment using the 5Cs:
  1. Customers: First line, customer chain, end users, influencers
  2. Collaborators: Suppliers, allies, government/community leaders
  3. Capabilities: Human, operational, financial, technical, key assets
  4. Competitors: Direct, indirect, potential
  5. Conditions: Social/demographic, political/government/regulatory, economic, market
Use a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) as you examine each category if that helps.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Best Quotes From The 5 Levels Of Leadership

Here are some of my favorites quotes from the book that I believe should be a must-read book by any workplace/organizational leader -- John C. Maxwell's book, The 5 Levels of Leadership.
  1. Good leadership isn't about advancing yourself.  It's about advancing your team.
  2. Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.
  3. Leadership is action, not position.
  4. When people feel liked, cared for, included, valued, and trusted, they begin to work together with their leader and each other.
  5. If you have integrity with people, you develop trust.  The more trust you develop, the stronger the relationship becomes.  In times of difficulty, relationships are a shelter.  In times of opportunity, they are a launching pad.
  6. Good leaders must embrace both care and candor.
  7. People buy into the leader, then the vision.
  8. Bringing out the best in a person is often a catalyst for bringing out the best in the team.
  9. Progress comes only from taking risks and making mistakes.
  10. Leaders are measured by the caliber of leaders they develop, not the caliber of their own leadership.

Friday, December 19, 2014

6 Steps To Discuss Poor Performance With An Employee

As a leader, the time will come when you will have to speak with an employee about his or her poor performance. That time may be just about right now as the year ends and a new year is about to start.

So, here are six steps that will guide you through that process:
  1. Tell him what performance is in need of change and be specific.
  2. Tell him how his actions negatively affect the team.
  3. Let the discussion sink in.
  4. Set expectations of performance improvement and timeframe, and get his agreement on the desired outcome.
  5. Remind him that he is a valuable part of the team and that you have confidence his performance will improve.
  6. Don't rehash the discussion later. You made your point. Give him to make his improvement.

There's No Place Like Working From Home

About 42 million people -- roughly one-third of the U.S. workforce -- work from home at least one or two days a week.

If you are a leader of work-from-home employees, share the book, There's No Place Like Working From Home, with them.  Share it particularly with an employee new to working from his or her home.

Author Elaine Quinn wrote the book after working as a consultant for 10 years with small business owners who struggled with organization, time management, workflow processes, productivity and related challenges.

The techniques Quinn teaches small home-based business owners also apply to work-from-home employees of large organizations.

"Poor organizational and time management skills are among the top ten reasons small businesses and work-from-home employees fail," said Quinn. "And being disorganized can cost business owners and corporations lost revenue, wasted time, professional embarrassment, damaged relationships, and missed opportunities."

There’s No Place Like Working From Home includes chapters on:
  • Making your workspace work for you
  • Conquering computer challenges
  • Staying motivated
  • Setting goals and priorities
  • Managing your time
  • Creating the optimum work/life balance
Prior to founding her consulting business in 2001, Quinn held sales and management positions with various Fortune 100 companies in the pharmaceutical industry where she developed strong skills in productivity and problem-solving.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Power Of Asking "Why Not?"

Early on in Eli Broad's new book, The Art of Being Unresaonable, he reminds us of the power of a child's instinctive asking, "Why not?"  Unfortunately, most adults lose that habit and Broad goes on to explain that it was his continuing to ask "Why not?" throughout his career that brought him success.

"The questions you're willing to ask when others think they have all the answers are doors to discovery," says Broad.

Other words of wisdom from the book, and my favorite takeaways, include:

  • Most successful businesses have to begin by bucking conventional wisdom.  Invention and innovation don't happen without it.
  • Do your homework no matter how much time it takes.
  • Big ideas don't happen in a moment.
  • You can't do it all yourself, so ask questions and delegate.
  • The trick to delegating is to make sure your employees share your priorities.
  • Find the best people to whom you can delegate, and know their strengths and weaknesses
  • Younger employees simply have fewer preconceived ideas of what they can and can't do.  Try to widen their perspective, deepen their sense of accomplishment, and build their capacity.
  • No matter how much money your customers have, they still want value.
  • The best way to mentor is to challenge people and then to set an example by letting them see you in action.
  • When you challenge people to dig deep and do more and better than even they imagined they could, it creates a particular bond.
  • Show me a person with an unblemished track record, and I'll show you a person who has dramatically underachieved.
Broad's book, subtitled, Lessons in Unconventional Thinking, is well worth the read.

Broad is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and the founder of two Fortune 500 companies -- KB Home and SunAmerica.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Leadership Lessons From Abraham Lincoln

Did Abraham Lincoln really say, "Get out of the office and circulate among the troops," back in 1861?

He did.  But, not in those exact words.  What he said, according to author Donald T. Phillips, is this:
  • "His cardinal mistake is that he isolates himself, and allows nobody to see him; and by which he does not know what is going on in the very matter he is dealing with."
Lincoln made this statement when describing his reason for relieving Gen. John C. Fremont from his command in Missouri (September 9, 1861).

Phillips writes that for Lincoln, casual contact with his subordinates was as important as formal gatherings, if not more so.

Phillips, includes many more leadership lessons from Lincoln in his fascinating book, Lincoln on Leadership, where Phillips presents 15 of Lincoln's leadership statements in today's vernacular.

Another leadership lesson from Lincoln is to:
  • Influence people through conversation and storytelling
Phillips explains that Lincoln had a strategy that emphasized the role of stories as powerful motivational tools that spread loyalty, commitment, and enthusiasm.  Stories are important because they are memorable.  They teach.  Employees learn largely by stories and not mounds of data.

Other lessons from the book include:
  • Wage only one war at a time
  • Encourage risk-taking while providing job security
  • Avoid issuing orders--instead request, imply, or make suggestions

Monday, December 15, 2014

What It Takes To Be A Great Company

Two years ago, Inc. magazine’s June issue featured a compelling article about author and leadership expert Jim Collins, who has studied leadership for 25 years and penned four best-selling books.

I like to periodically remind myself of that all-important article.

Two of the most powerful takeaways from the article for me are Collin’s definition of a great company:

“To be great, a company has to make a distinctive impact. I define that by a test:  If your company disappeared, would it leave a gaping hole that could not easily be filled by another enterprise on the planet? Now, that doesn’t mean the company has to be big…just that if it went away, people would feel a gaping hole, and no one could easily come in and fill it.”

The second takeaway is the list of 12 questions that Collins says leaders much grapple with if they truly want to excel.  Three of those 12 are these, the first two I tend to think don’t get asked often enough:
  • How can we increase our return on luck
  • What could kill us, and how can we protect our flanks
  • Do we have the right people on the bus and in the key seats.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

How To Be A Level 5 Leader

Author and leadership expert Jim Collins defines Level 5 leaders as those who:
  • Pursue goals with the ferocity of lions while displaying the humility of lambs.
According to Collins, who has studied leadership for 25 years, this level of leader is a rare breed. This is a leader who:
  • bestows credit generously 
  • shoulders blame responsibility 
  • puts organization before self

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Nathan Magnuson On Leadership, Coaching, And His New eBook

Nathan Magnuson

If you haven't discovered Nathan Magnuson's Everyday Leadership blog, check it out today.

You'll find lots of good advice and insights from this Kansas City area leadership consultant, coach and thought leader.

You can also download his new, and free, eBook, Trusted Leadership Advisor, when you subscribe for free to his website.

This week, Nathan kindly shared more about his eBook and leadership in general.

1.  What inspired you to write the eBook?

Nathan:  I wanted something tangible to share. Instead of only sharing my website address, it's nice to have something people can take with them and reference later on. Even my best articles are only accessible via search after a couple months, but someone can take the eBook, print it and keep it at their desk - or bring it with them on a computer or device.

2.  Who is your target reader for the eBook?

Nathan:  My primary target for my writing is people who have responsibility for managing other people or managing specific outcomes - as well as people who aspire for greater things. What they (and I) have found is that it's not quite so easy or glamorous as it looks. In this sense, the eBook is a little different because instead of targeting this group directly, it kind of targets everyone else to join me in helping support these folks.

3.  What chapter of the eBook do you believe will be particularly helpful to most readers?

Nathan:  I have two short pieces on Becoming a Leadership Expert. Let me tell you something, Eric - you don't have to be special to be a leader. You can just be yourself. Is that good news or what?? On the surface, it sounds daunting, but the first thing I say is that each person is probably already a leader - and a "leadership expert" to someone. So that's where we start and just build from there. There are so many ways we can help without needing to be the ultimate authority, such as sharing the ideas of others, relating past experiences and observations and just setting a good example regardless of your qualifications. In fact, I like to say that if you can't lead without authority, you'll never be able to lead with authority.

4.  What aspect of leadership do you like writing, coaching and speaking about most?

Nathan:  Probably the part I like most is helping people think differently about leadership. I've found that often times a small change in perspective can make a huge change in what is possible for so many people, myself included. In an environment where so many conflicting messages are thrown in our direction, if I can make leadership seem easier, less complicated and more fun - I feel like I've added value.

5.  In your consulting and coaching role what have you found to be the most common challenges leaders are facing today?

Nathan:  I think without a doubt one of the most common challenges leaders face is rising expectations with a limited amount of resources - especially time. And the bad news is that it's only going to get worse. If you look at the demographics in America, we're about to experience an enormous labor gap do to a generational shift in the workplace. There will be many more jobs than there will be qualified people. This will mean that many under-qualified people will be thrown into leadership roles just based on the numbers. Leadership development won't be a luxury - it'll be a necessity. That means people like us better be ready to get to work and help!

6.  Do you have another eBook in the works?

Nathan:  Sort of - I usually have several projects in various levels of completion. I've got some ideas, a few outlines and a manuscript or two. Never just one thing at a time. This is usually how I read as well. But when the next one is ready, you can be sure I'll let everyone know!

7.  What venues have you found to be the most useful for networking with inspiring leaders within the Kansas City area?

Nathan:  Great question - honestly I think the best network I found was joining the Army Reserve in Kansas City. I was a part of the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion in Belton and deployed to Iraq in 2008. Not all of us are in KC anymore (we all returned home safely!) but that's been a network I still benefit from to this day. Additionally, I've really benefited from each Toastmasters group I've joined, both in KC and elsewhere.

What It Takes To Be An Effective Leader

Awhile ago, I was asked, "What five most important traits must a leader have to be effective?"  I could reply fairly quickly, but I did take a moment to remember that when I asked a similar question in a LinkedIn group discussion, group members offered up nearly 100 different adjectives to describe an effective leader.

But, for me, I contend the five most important traits are:
  1. Good communicator. That means effectively communicating timely and consistent messages during good and bad times. And, knowing how and when to be a good listener. Communicating is critical. Employees must hear from their leaders. And, hearing from their leaders in person versus e-mail and written memos is even more effective.
  2. Being a servant leader. Put your employees and your company first. A top manager who makes decisions that are self-serving will lack followers and will bring the company down.
  3. Adaptable. Today, more than ever, a leader needs to adapt. That means adapting to competitive and industry situations. It also means being willing to change your decisions if new information or circumstances warrant the change.
  4. Decisive. Leaders who aren’t decisive and who can’t make a decision will spin their organization into a frozen state where employees are unmotivated, wasting time, and discouraged.
  5. Motivating. Smart, decisive, engaging, tough yet fair, personable and encouraging leaders are motivating. These leaders motivate employees to deliver their best for their leaders and for their company.
What is your list of five traits?

Friday, December 12, 2014

How To Be A Healthier Leader

If you're like many leaders, you're "too busy" to exercise on a regular basis. And, you don't give yourself time to renew and refresh. Truth is, there are ways to fit exercise and healthful habits into your busy day that will pay off in dividends.

From Experience Life magazine, here are 10 tips for how to fit even just moments into your day (at work, on the road and at home) to help you become more healthful:
  1. Make a plan to exercise. Include exercise times, even if they are just in 10-minute increments, on your calendar.
  2. Find time to exercise and build on that time. Start off by walking for five minutes at lunch and add to that every few days until you've worked up to 30 minutes every few lunch hours.
  3. Limit screen time. Set a timer for how long you'll watch TV or surf the Net. Then, use the time you aren't in front of a screen to exercise.
  4. When you are watching TV, do squats, push ups, lunges, yoga poses and crunches.
  5. Think positive. Psychologists suggest that you replace "I am too busy to work out" thinking with "I choose to make myself a priority."
  6. Hold a "walking meeting" where your group walks together instead of sits in a meeting room. This can be particularly beneficial for brainstorming meetings.
  7. Work out when you're traveling. Pack a jump rope. Do push-ups and crunches in your hotel room.  Use the hotel's gym. Ask the hotel if they have guest passes or discounted rates at a nearby health club.
  8. Exercise first thing in the morning. Don't let a long day end with "no time to exercise."
  9. Wear a pedometer. By age 60, most people are down to about 4,500 steps a day. Your goal should be to walk 10,000 steps per day.
  10. Negotiate a discounted rate for you and your employees at a gym near your office building. And then use the facility and encourage your employees to do the same.
I participate in 5K runs throughout the year. They give me a goal to continually improve my times. My entry fees go to support local nonprofit organizations. And, to prepare for each race, I have to schedule times during the preceding weeks to practice and exercise.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Leadership Quotes That Inspire

These quotes truly inspire me:

“The three common characteristics of best companies -- they care, they have fun, they have high performance expectations.” -- Brad Hams

“The one thing that's common to all successful people: They make a habit of doing things that unsuccessful people don't like to do.” -- Michael Phelps

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." -- Harry S. Truman

“The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell. The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask.” -- Peter Drucker

“Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Good leadership isn't about advancing yourself.  It's about advancing your team.” -- John C. Maxwell

"People buy into the leader, then the vision.” -- John C. Maxwell

“Great leaders have courage, tenacity and patience.” -- Bill McBean

"People never learn anything by being told, they have to find out for themselves." -- Paulo Coelho

"We live in a time where brands are people and people are brands." -- Brian Solis

"In real life, the most practical advice for leaders is not to treat pawns like pawns, nor princes like princes, but all persons like persons." -- James MacGregor Burns

"The only source of knowledge is experience." -- Albert Einstein

"Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely." -- Auguste Rodin

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." -- Maria Robinson

“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” -- Arnold H. Glasgow

“I praise loudly, I blame softly.” -- Catherine II of Russia

“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.” -- Mohandas Gandhi

“A long dispute means that both parties are wrong.” -- Voltaire

“The least questioned assumptions are often the most questionable.” -- Paul Broca

"One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency." -- Arnold Glasow

“Managers assert drive and control to get things done; leaders pause to discover new ways of being and achieving .”-- Kevin Cashman

“It doesn't matter where you're coming from. All that matters is where you are going to.” -- Stephen Covey

“Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.” -- Samuel Johnson

“Strength doesn't come from what we can do. It comes from overcoming what we once thought we couldn't.” -- Rikki Roberts

“The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.” -- Alfred North Whitehead

“The most powerful predictable people builders are praise and encouragement.” -- Brian Tracy

“Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon them and to let them know that and trust them.” -- Booker T. Washington

“Ask because you want to know. Listen because you want to grow.” -- Mark Scharenbroich

“If you want execution, hail only success. If you want creativity, hail risk, and remain neutral about success.” -- Marcus Buckingham

“To get the best coaching outcomes, always have your 1-on-1's on your employee's turf not yours. In your office the truth hides.” -- Marcus Buckingham

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” -- Alan Kay

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” -- Winston Churchill

“I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” -- Bill Cosby

“The greatest accomplishment is not in never failing, but in rising again after you fall.” -- Vince Lombardi

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How To Master Your Social Selling Skills

If you are a salesperson or sell a product or service, make, The Art of Social Selling, the next book you read.

Author Belew defines "social selling" as the identification, targeting, and reaching out to prospective and existing customers through social media channels and social communities in an effort to engage them in conversations that result in a potentially mutually beneficial relationship.

  • Social selling does not replace all other sales and marketing processes.  It simply means adding another tool to your toolkit...and tool, when mastered, will help you find and engage customers on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and other social networks.

If you don't yet believe the power of social selling, consider these stats and realities from Belew's book:

  • Without social selling, 40 percent of sales teams make less than 80 percent of quota, on average (Xactly research).
  • Buyers no longer depend on salespeople to provide information and educate them on products or solutions -- Buyers now have extended number of places they can get this information
  • 67 percent of B2C companies surveyed use Facebook to generate leads (Webmarekting123)
  • 60 percent of best-in-class companies train salespeople in how to engage in online conversations with prospects and customers compared to only 19 percent of laggard companies (Aberdeen Group)

The key to social selling -- your ability to build relationships, using social media.

Belew recommends you participate in these types of places in order to start selling:
  • Social media networks
  • Visual social networks
  • Blogs 
  • Communities
  • Answer hubs and groups
  • Online media/new sites

Her recommended 10 most important rules for online social interactions are:
  1. Be genuine
  2. Listen, listen, listen
  3. Be responsive
  4. Follow the leader
  5. Tailor the conversation
  6. Be helpful
  7. Identify the enter and exit signs
  8. Maintain the separation of professional and personal
  9. Be consistent
  10. Admit when you're wrong

Unclear about what you can include in your forthcoming social selling activities, Belew suggests:
  • Evergreen content
  • Topical content
  • How-to content
  • Lists
  • Testimonials and customer success stories
  • Q&A's
  • Polls/Surveys
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Curated content
  • User-generated content
  • Product/service demonstrations (particularly via video)
  • Interviews with company leaders (particularly via video)

Finally, according to SocialMediaExaminer, by spending as little as six hours per week in social media. 68 percent of marketers reported gain benefits in the area of lead generation, and 40 percent also realized an improvement in sales.

Belew's book features compelling case studies, and clear and concise instructions on how to master the art of social selling.

Monday, December 8, 2014

How To Deliver Excellent Customer Service This Holiday Season

Leading a customer service team? Have the team members use these 9 tips for delivering excellent customer service this holiday shopping season:
  1. Rely on winning words and soothing phrases. A simple but sincere “Thanks for your patience” or “I’m listening” can go a long way toward defusing a holiday shopper’s frustration, anxiety, or panic. Develop a repertoire of short, easy to remember phrases around issues that are important to customers. Practice until the words come naturally.
  2. Communicate with silence. Remaining silent while your customers are talking is a basic courtesy, and nodding tells them you’re listening and understanding what you hear. An occasional “uh huh” or “I see” tells them you’re still listening without interrupting.
  3. Make customers feel seen. Making eye contact acknowledges that you see your customers as individuals. But there’s a balance to be struck here: staring can make your customers uncomfortable, too. Also keep in mind that eye contact is governed by specific cultural rules. A good rule to follow is to give as much as you get.
  4. Never underestimate the value of a sincere thank you. Thanking customers when they offer comments or suggestions says that you value their opinion. Thanking customers for complaining says that you value their loyalty. Customers who tell you they are unhappy are giving you a second chance. And that’s quite a gift.
  5. Use the well-placed “I’m Sorry.” Don’t assume that you’re not allowed to say “I’m sorry” when a snafu occurs. Actually, a sincere apology delivered in a timely and professional manner often heads off potential further problems. When you show your willingness to make sure your customers receive what they expect to receive, you relieve them of the need to even think about starting an argument.
  6. Never deny a customer’s problem. Problems are an undeniable part of the hectic, stressful holiday shopping season. And problems exist when the customer says they do. You can’t wish a problem away because it is something no reasonable person would be upset about, because it’s not your fault, or even because the customer made a mistake.
  7. Fix the person first. Real problem solving cannot happen until the issues are out on the table. And that requires getting past a customer’s emotional reaction. Breaking through the icy calm defenses of an upset customer is just as important as coaxing a “raging red” customer out of a temper tantrum.
  8. Listen and then probe for information. Customers, particularly upset customers, don’t always explain everything clearly or completely. Ask questions about anything you may not understand or need clarified. Then, when you feel you have identified and clearly grasped the problem, repeat it back to the customer for confirmation.
  9. Ask the customer for problem-solving help. Involving customers in generating solutions not only starts to rebuild the relationship, it gives them the feeling that your business really is interested in satisfying their needs. You’ll find that most customers bring a sense of fair play with them and will often expect far less than you’d think.
These tips are adapted from the book, Delivering Knock Your Socks Off ServiceFifth Edition by Performance Research Associates, Inc., Edited by Ann Thomas and Jill Applegate.