Friday, July 25, 2014

eBook: Mastering The Art Of Messaging

David Grossman, president and founder of The Grossman Group, published in 2010 a helpful, free eBook titled:  Mastering The Art of Messaging.  Four years later, it remains a valuable tool for workplace leaders.

Grossman says that perhaps it’s the still tough economy, technology, or that every is just too busy, but whatever the reason, employees are feeling more disconnected than ever from the organizations they work for.

At the same time, leaders continue to struggle with one of their toughest jobs, developing and articulating their overall strategy and priorities, especially during times of change.

Grossman says the result is:
  • confused employees
  • unhappy workplaces
  • stressed bosses
  • demanding shareholders
In Grossman's free ebook, he highlights all the essentials of creating a strategic internal messaging plan with the end goal of helping leaders create and communicate:
  • clear, consistent, and credible messaging that connects to target audiences.
Using the 18-page ebook, you'll learn:
what a strategic messaging plan should encompass (and what it should not include).
  • how to identify the right tone and content.
  • what media you can use to convey it.
  • and other essential elements you need to consider to ensure consistent and effective communication.
Thanks, as always, David, for another useful ebook!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How To Tell An Effective Story During Your Presentation

Joey Asher's 100-page book, 15 Minutes Including Q&A provides a "plan to save the world from lousy presentations," proclaims Asher.

In chapter 8, Asher explains that the best presentations have stories and if you want to be a good speaker, you need to know how to tell an effective story.

Asher's formula is:
  • Start with the point.  You don't want people wondering why you're telling them a story.
  • Tell the story chronologically.
  • Keep your story tight and on point, but give some details.
  • Make your story personal to you.
  • Remind your audience of the point at the end.
  • Keep your story to between 30 and 60 seconds.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The 4 Things To Ask When An Employee Leaves

As a leader, it's critical that you understand the real reasons employees leave your company. To do that, you need to ask specific questions that may not be ones you currently include in your exit interviews.

Fortunately, Richard Finnegan, shares in his book, Rethinking Retention in Good Times and Badfour key questions you should include in your exit interviews:
  1. Why did you decide to leave us?
  2. Of all the things you've told me, what is the top thing that caused you to resign?
  3. It's great that you've found such a good opportunity, but why did you look?
  4. What one thing could we have done that would have caused you to stay?
Your goal is to learn the most important leave reason rather than learn which three or five things contributed to your employee's decision to leave. The four questions above will help you learn the most important reason.

The New Beta Way To Lead

It's these chapter headings in the book, The Fall of the Alphas, that first grabbed my interest:
  • Corporate Anthropology
  • Plows and Primates
  • Boomers and Bonobos
  • Information Changes Everything
  • The Top of a Different Pyramid
  • Eliminating Elitism
  • Managing Ego
  • It Takes Two to Beta

Next, it was author Dana Ardi's premise that convinced me to read her book:
  • “Today’s American corporate world is a tale of two cultures.  One, more traditional and common, is centralized and hierarchical.  I call it Alpha.  The other, smaller and rarer, is decentralized, horizontal, and inclusive.  I call this one Beta,” explains corporate anthropologist Dana Ardi

Drawing on her vast experience as a venture capitalist, organizational design expert, and management consultant, Ardi argues that the future belongs to the Betas.

In her book, The Fall of the Alphas:  The New Beta Way to Connect, Collaborate, Influence – And Lead, she shows why the Beta model is the key to both business and career success.

With the advent of the Information Age and increasingly rapid waves of technological change, the Alpha model – which Ardi likens to an army, led by a commander-in-chief in which information flows in only one direction – is on its way out, explains Ardi.  The Beta model is taking its place.
  • According to Ardi, the Beta environment functions like an orchestra – where the conductor plays a coordinating role, but each member’s input is distinct and critical, and a variety of musicians can have solos.  “Beta companies are communities, not armies,” she writes.  “They are made up of shifting, project or process-based teams instead of rigid functional silos.”

Drawing on such examples as AmazonZapposTimberland, and Green Mountain Coffee, Ardi explores what it takes to build a Beta company – one that is positioned for success.

She emphasizes that Beta leaders and organizations:
  • Help people succeed at what they’re good at, rather than forcing them to become people they’re not.
  • Empower people to expand their skill sets based on their individual needs, rather than on a prescribed syllabus
  • Encourage people to confront and solve problems together, working collaboratively on the organization’s. shared mission.

At the core of Beta are the three “C”s, says Ardi.  These are:
  • Communication:  Executives in Alpha organizations tend to hoard communication.  Veteran employees often keep knowledge to themselves to protect their positions, while departments withhold information due to inter-departmental competition.  In Beta companies, communication is viewed as a resource that should be harvested constantly.  Fluid communication is facilitated and encouraged.  Ardi stresses that this is critical if companies want employees to view their leaders as authentic, and in order for companies to provide real value to their customers.

  • Collaboration:  The Alpha paradigm is all about the individual, but “going it alone” simply does not work anymore.  “Bosses and employees need to work together to solve problems and accomplish shared goals,” writes Ardi.  “The more collaborative opportunities a business offers, the more employees will feel a sense of ownership . . . resulting in vastly higher levels of productivity, efficiency, and loyalty.”  Building collaboration also demands a new approach to recruitment – one that focuses on finding employees who exhibit confidence and a willingness to think outside the box.

  • Curation:  Increased communication and collaboration demands a new style of leadership, one Ardi calls “curating.”  “Beta leaders need to be curators, not commanders,” she explains.  “They need to be able to collect, sort, analyze data, and edit all communication and collaborative streams of information that could potentially influence their business.”  This means assembling employees – all of whom are individual experts capable of idea generation – and encouraging them to think new thoughts in different ways and challenging them to do new things.

Ultimately, asserts Ardi, the Beta paradigm not only offers the best opportunity for organizational success, it also provides individuals with the chance to achieve the emotional and psychological satisfaction often lacking inside Alpha organizations.  In her book, she explains how the Beta approach enables people to climb to the top of a different sort of pyramid than the one that leads only to the CEO’s chair.  Instead, employees at all levels are given the chance to be their best selves.

  • “The long-term success of both new and existing companies requires abandoning the old Alpha leadership and structural model and adopting the Beta paradigm,” argues Ardi.  “The Beta approach will help you recruit, manage, and retain the kind of talent you and your organization need to profit today and tomorrow.”  With insight and practical guidance, The Fall of the Alphas show companies how to transform from Alpha to Beta, becoming more effective, flexible, and profitable in the process.

Dana Ardi, Ph.D. is the founder of Corporate Anthropology Advisors. She has served as a Partner/Managing Director at CCMP Capital and JPMorgan Partners, and was a Partner at Flatiron Partners.  Earlier in her career, she was an operating executive at R. R. Donnelly & Sons and at McGraw-Hill.  She also has a background managing and leading executive search firms.

Monday, July 21, 2014

4 Questions To Ask To Ensure You Are Always Innovating

I'm a big fan of the magazine, Experience Life.  Particularly the monthly Perspective column by Bahram Akradi, the founder and CEO of Life Time Fitness.

Akradi tackled self-reflection in a recent issue of the publication.  He firmly believes the business model that if you aren't innovating you are dying.  And, to innovate, you have to regularly fine-tune both your business and your life.

What better way to do that than to ask yourself each day these four questions, says Akradi:
  1. Where did I do some good or make some progress today?
  2. Where did I let myself or others down?
  3. What can I do to keep my good habits going?
  4. What can I do to address any negative triggers or trends before they get out of hand?
Thanks Bahram for this great advice.  And, thanks for a great a great business, health, fitness and quality-of-life magazine.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Today's Five Quotes For Leaders

Some of my favorite quotes for leaders are:
  • 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
These and many more compelling quotes can be found in Susan H. Shearouse's book, Conflict 101.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Book Review & Highlights: Leadership Conversations

When I read business books, I turn the corner of every page that has something I really like, want to remember and easily reference in the future.

Halfway into the 300-page book, Leadership Conversations, I had turned the corners of nearly every fifth pages.  So, you can see why I believe this is such a good book.  There is so much to learn from Leadership Conversations.  It's a must read for today's business leaders.  Leaders who are leading multi-generational workforces.  And, leaders who want the skills to get promoted and move up the corporate ladder.

Authors Alan S. Berson and Richard G. Stieglitz wrote the book because they believe that a leader's most powerful skill is the ability to hold effective conversations.
So, in their book, they detail the four types of conversations every leader must effectively master.  Conversations that:

  • Build relationships
  • Develop others
  • Make decisions
  • Take action
And, they provide real-world examples and tactical guidance for each of those conversation types.

Here are some of the book's gems:

The breadth and depth of how leaders connect with people determine a leader's ability to influence, and the greater the influence, the greater the alignment and results.  Leaders who effectively make those people connections:
  • Have a style and a voice that fit their organization and enable them to form bonds with their followers and ignite their passion.
  • Beget great followers.  Leaders learn their people's objectives and guide them toward achieving their full potential.
  • Address small conflicts to avoid larger ones later.  They know intuitively when things do not seem right, and promptly hold the conversations required to fix them.
  • Know that creativity cannot be forced.  They enable creativity in the natural flow of business by providing the time, the space, and the conditions for people to be creative -- then they cultivate the fledgling sprouts of innovation.
  • Celebrate their people. They are liberal with praise and realize that their personal success is rooted in their people's successes.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Six Universal Drivers At "Best Places To Work" Companies

Overland Park, Kansas-based author Leigh Branham, along with Mark Hirschfeld, awhile back completed a survey of 10,000 employees in 43 states to better understand what separates a "best places to work" company from other companies.

What Branham and Hirschfeld discovered is that the best companies use six "universal drivers" that maximize employee engagement:
  1. Caring, Competent, and Engaging Senior Leaders
  2. Effective Managers Who Keep Employees Aligned and Engaged
  3. Effective Teamwork at All Levels
  4. Job Enrichment and Professional Growth
  5. Valuing Employee Contributions
  6. Concern for Employee Well-Being
Branham also explains that to get the best from your employees you need to re-engage them. You can learn more about how to do that in his book, Re-Engage.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Today's Leadership Thought - Passion And An Open Mind

"You can express your own views as passionately as you want, as long as you're equally curious about others' views." -- Author of Smart Leaders Smarter TeamsRoger Schwarz.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How Video Recruitment Cuts The Cost Of Finding New Staff

Today's Guest Post is from a company that offers a new exciting service for leaders, managers and human resources departments.

Guest Post

By Andy Law,

Finding new staff is a headache for any business. It involves a lot of time, organization and cost (for example, the UK recruitment industry reports that on average a new hire costs over £5,000). But now video recruitment offers a way of not only cutting costs but making the recruitment process as effective as possible. It’s an option that every business should consider.

The growth of video on the web has been phenomenal and people now create, edit and share videos online as a matter of course. This means that a huge number of job seekers are now video literate and entirely at ease with recording themselves. So if you’re looking for new employees, it makes sense to tap into this ever-growing resource of video-savvy candidates.

And it is easy to do - in fact you probably already have all the equipment you need. A new wave of video recruitment companies provide the ability to start recruiting via video immediately. They have created all the software and the systems to do the job seamlessly - all you do is pay a small monthly fee to use the service.

Here’s how it works:

1. Sign up for an account - the cost is minimal and the power you have at your fingertips is staggering.

2. Record your interview questions. Don’t worry if you’re a bit reticent to see yourself on video: the software allows you to practice and record as many times as you like - at no additional cost.

3. Invite candidates to apply. How you do that is entirely up to you - you can use traditional methods, advertise on a job site, post the job on your own site - whatever you like.

4. Candidates login, see a video of your questions and then record their answers. All the answers you receive are recorded and stored for instant access.

5. Review the recordings and then invite your chosen candidates to take part in a live video interview. That saves you time and expense - and does the same for the candidate. No longer do they have to make the trip from say Glasgow to London, you can see and interact online and decide who to take to the next stage.

6. The final step is to invite a select group of candidates you’re already familiar with, to a final face-to-face interview.

Many businesses take a ‘wait and see’ approach to new technology. But the potential of video recruitment, the low cost and the ease of use makes this a resource any business should consider. Click here for a free trial.

About The Author:
Law is the Chief Marketing Officer of, an online video interviewing platform based in London and serving clients throughout the world. He has recruiting experience across many industry sectors and has unique insights on how to build strong teams using the latest video recruitment technology. You can follow Andy on Twitter @huddlerecruit

The 14 Things Great Coaches Do

For those who may have missed this posting from earlier in the year, I am pleased to share again a guest post from Garret Kramer of InnerSports LLC about how to be a great coach:

14 Attributes of Great Coaches
By Garret Kramer,
Author of Stillpower: Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life 

There are many, many coaching manuals and books on the market today.   Unfortunately, virtually all of them provide an external blueprint or "positive" guide to successful coaching and leadership. Very few, however, point the coach inward to an intuitive understanding that he or she already possesses. 

Below are fourteen examples of the inside-out coaching paradigm revealed in Stillpower.  Consider these attributes of great coaches for yourself; then see how they might apply to you, your team, classroom, company, or family. 

1.  Great coaches think state of mind first; behavior (including "working hard, "staying positive, and "doing the 'right' thing"), a distant second. 

2.  Great coaches know that what they say pales in comparison to the state of mind from which they say it.

3.  Great coaches know that their perception of others is based solely on their own state of mind -- which is always subject to change. 

4.  Great coaches set few expectations if any.  They know better than to make players victims of their own circumstances. 

5.  Great coaches set few goals if any. They know better than to limit possibilities. 

6.  Great coaches act from inspiration (a high mind-set) and pull back from desperation (a low mind-set). 

7.  Great coaches know that a team culture must be flexible or it risks stifling the individuality, intuition, and free will of the players. 

8.  Great coaches burn to win and can't stand to lose.

9.  Great coaches understand that, win or lose, they'll be perfectly okay.

10.  Great coaches value imagination and creativity above a code of conduct or strategic system. 

11.  Great coaches rarely talk about or display past accomplishments. They know better than to take their team out of the here and now. 

12.  Great coaches are models of engagement and passion no matter the external circumstance (score, standings, opponent's actions, referee's call, etc.). 

13.  Great coaches do not force their belief system on others. They know that if a player replaces his or her own belief with the coach's belief, success will be short-lived at best. 

14.  Great coaches love their players -- and their opponents, too. They know that love fosters awareness, resilience, effort, and excellence.   Resentment, disrespect, and hate foster nothing worth mentioning. 

The bottom line is that the best coaches produce intuitive leaders who consistently come through in the big moment.  And you don't do this by dictating behavior or setting external standards.  Instead, great coaches provide failure-free environments, and, thus, the instincts and free will of their players flourish. 

Garret Kramer, author of Stillpower: Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life, is the founder and managing partner of Inner Sports, LLC.  His approach to performance has transformed the careers of professional athletes and coaches, Olympians, and collegiate players across a multitude of sports.  Kramer's work has been featured on WFAN, ESPN, Fox, and CTV, as well as in Sports IllustratedThe New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and other national publications. 

Prepare To Be Asked These Questions At Your Next Job Interview

Many Human Resource (HR) managers have moved away from questions like "What's your weakness?" and prefer behavior-based questions, which ask you to:
  • describe how you handled specific situations at your former jobs
If you are about to interview for your next leadership position, be prepared for questions like these (from an article in Reader's Digest):
  • Tell me about a time when your integrity was challenged. What was the situation, and what did you do?
  • Tell me about a time you had to work with someone you did not personally like.
  • If you could come to work with only three tools to get your job done, what would they be?
  • What personal and professional development have you been engaged in outside the workplace over the past year?
  • Describe your Outlook calendar on a typical day

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Don't Hire Someone Just Like You

Despite the temptation to hire someone like yourself, hire someone to complement your skills --not to duplicate your skills.

Managers often find it easier, more comfortable, or less threatening to hire someone with similar skills and work habits. But, to build a well-balanced team and to achieve maximum success, you need to have employees who can fill in your weaker areas.

So, if you are a great idea person, but a poor communicator, hire someone with strong communications skills. Similarly, if your team excels in sales but lacks organization, add an employee who leads in organization.

This may all seem like common sense. And you obviously need to hire someone to meet certain/minimum skill sets and who will be a good overall fit. But, do what you can to avoid the trap or temptation to hire someone just like you.

Monday, July 14, 2014

How Do You Answer These 7 Leadership Skills Assessment Questions?

Open Leadership book author Charlene Li reminds leaders to periodically ask themselves these "open leadership skills assessment" questions:
  1. Do I seek out and listen to different points of view?
  2. Do I make myself available to people at all levels of the organization?
  3. Do I actively manage how I am authentic?
  4. Do I encourage people to share information?
  5. Do I publicly admit when I am wrong?
  6. Do I update people regularly?
  7. Do I take the time to explain how decisions are being made?
Thanks for these great questions, Charlene!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

How Teams Produce Uplifting Leadership

Here's great advice and insight about leadership and teams that pull together, from the new book, Uplifting Leadership: How Organizations, Teams, and Communities Raise Performance:

"Uplifting leadership entails engaging a talented team that values risk and creativity, acknowledges and tolerates honest mistakes, and has members that participate and 'play' in interchangeable roles and positions. They inspire each other as leadership emerges throughout the group."