Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Today's Leadership Quote By Theodore Roosevelt

"Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty...I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life.  I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well." -- Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Powerful Quotes From The Book, Just Listen

Just Listen is the book to read to learn the strategies to make you more compelling, and break down the walls that keep you from getting through to the people you need to buy into your ideas and goals.

Some of my favorite parts of the book are the following compelling quotes author Mark Goulston includes throughout the book:

  • Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. - Paul Hawken
  • Don't be afraid of sharing your vulnerabilities.  Vulnerability doesn't make you weak, it makes you accessible. Know that your vulnerability can be your strength. - Keith Ferrazzi
  • Humility is the surest sign of strength. - Thomas Merton
  • Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. - Bill Gates
  • Good management consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people. - John D. Rockefeller
  • The secret of getting ahead is getting started. - Agatha Christie
  • Don't find fault. Find a remedy. - Henry Ford
  • To succeed in your career, it's less important what you know or even who you know than who truly knows you and how they know you. - Ivan Misner

Monday, April 14, 2014

Insights From The Authors Of Step Up: Lead In Six Moments That Matter

The new book, Step Up, shows readers how to step up to the plate during six critical leadership moments.  Readers learn how to:
  • Use anger intelligently in the workplace.
  • Recognize and deal with terminal politeness.
  • Make decisions when no one else is making them.
  • Take ownership when others are externalizing a problem.
  • Identify and leverage pessimism.
  • Inspire others to take action.
And, before you start to read the book, you can take (via a QR code in the book) a fifteen-minute online Step Up Leadership Assessment, which will give you instant feedback on your leadership readiness and point you to the most relevant chapters in the book.

The book's three authors recently shared these insights with me:

A Conversation with Henry Evans and Colm Foster, authors of Step Up

What is a “leadership moment”?

  • These are moments when leadership is required in order to see a problem solved, opportunity seized, momentum changed, relationship(s) built, or when the intelligent expression of emotion is required to drive a desired result. Leadership moments are when there will be an “easy thing” to do or a “right thing” to do, and you choose the “right thing,” even though it may be hard to do so. Some of the moments are counter-intuitive and will contradict some of the prevailing wisdom about leadership.

What are common misconceptions about leadership?

  • That people who have the formal position of “leader” are good leaders and/or are always ready to lead. Another misconception, in our experience, is that people at all levels of organizations sometimes feel helpless and think that without a formal title they cannot lead.

Many books outline how to harness positive energy. Are negative outlooks—pessimism, skepticism, criticism—ever useful?

  • In short, yes. The emotional intelligence community, ourselves included, have taught that emotions such as anger and frustration should be banned from the workplace. We have now changed our view. In our research and work with clients, we observe that the intelligent use of emotions like anger can lead to better business outcomes and stronger relationships. Stupidity is a problem, but not always anger, if channeled productively. Pessimists are often misunderstood and under-appreciated. Sometimes your pessimists are providing a counterbalance for unbridled optimism.

Are the six leadership moments important for both managers and non-managers? Can mastering how to act in the six moments help people advance in their careers?

  • Yes. Leaders must demonstrate these qualities, and we promote the use of the six moments as criteria for reward and promotion across teams. We also believe that if you are working for someone who does not possess these qualities, you should train up, or trade up (get a new boss). Lastly, when you find yourself in a moment when you and your team are experiencing a leadership void, you can learn-how and when to demonstrate leadership in those same moments. You don’t need the title. You simply need to know how to recognize the moments when leadership is required, and of course, what to do when you are in one of those moments. If you demonstrate these qualities consistently, people are likely to view you in a new light, that of a leader.

What’s an example of a leadership moment in the news that a prominent leader stepped up to?

  • Just a few weeks into the job, GM’s new CEO Mary Barra stepped up to the company’s recall crisis. The evidence looks like a leadership void may have led to the crisis and Mary stepped in to show very publicly how to turn this into an opportunity to lead.  She has been much more open, transparent, and accountable than auto company leaders have traditionally been about recalls. She still faces huge challenges ahead to solve GM’s crisis, but she has already been an inspiring example of how we can all step up and show true leadership when needed.

What can readers of your first book, Winning with Accountability, expect with Step Up?

  • Winning with Accountability is a language-based system for driving better business results, and building better relationships through the language you use when making and requesting commitments. Step Up focuses on the six critical leadership behaviors required for leadership, regardless of your title or formal position. As with Winning with Accountability, you can expect more ideas that are easy to access, immediately applicable, and which naturally connect to your current business reality. In both books, we are action-focused, not theory-focused.
Thanks to the book publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Good Coach Versus Bad Coach

Former Verizon Wireless CEO, Denny F. Strigl offers these tips for how to be a good coach to an employee.  He explains that good coaches help performers by:
  • Keeping them focused.
  • Giving them objective, helpful feedback.
  • Acting as a sounding board for new approaches.
  • Identifying blind spots that may be holding the performer back.
  • Reinforcing key values, principles, and behaviors that improve performance.
  • Recognizing positive behavior and performance.
  • Providing encouragement after setbacks and failures
  • Setting "stretch" goals.
  • Acting as an accountability partner.
Strigl believes that some managers fail in their coaching roles because they:
  • View coaching as babysitting.
  • See coaching as only correcting performance.
  • Don't spend enough time with their employees.
  • Are reluctant to criticize.
  • Have social relationships with their employees.
  • Have a "sink-or-swim" philosophy.
  • Believe coaching is not helpful or meaningful.
"Coaching may actually save time by preventing extensive retraining or intervention to get a failing employee back on track or keep the person from falling off course in the first place," explains Strigl in his new book, Managers, Can You Hear Me Now?

Every conversation you have with an employee has the potential to be a coaching conversation!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

High-Performing Teams Are Made Of This

According to Ron Ricci and Carl Wiese, authors of the book, The Collaboration Imperative, high-performing teams have the following characteristics:

  • People have solid and deep trust in each other and in the team's purpose--they feel free to express feelings and ideas.
  • Everybody is working toward the same goals.
  • Team members are clear on how to work together and how to accomplish tasks.
  • Everyone understands both team and individual performance goals and knows what is expected.
  • Team members actively diffuse tension and friction in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.
  • The team engages in extensive discussion, and everyone gets a chance to contribute--even the introverts.
  • Disagreement is viewed as a good thing and conflicts are managed.  Criticism is constructive and is oriented toward problem solving and removing obstacles.
  • The team makes decisions when there is natural agreement--in the cases where agreement is elusive, a decision is made by the team lead or executive sponsor, after which little second-guessing occurs.
  • Each team member carries his or her own weight and respects the team processes and other members.
  • The leadership of the team shirts from time to time, as appropriate, to drive results.  No individual members are more important than the team.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Four Ways To Drive Value For Your Customers

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

Micah has been named by the Financial Post as “a new guru of customer service excellence.” He is a keynote speaker and consultant on customer service issues, the customer experience, and company culture.  He previously co-authored the bestselling, Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit.      

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fit At Last. Interview With Author Tim Kearin

The new book, Fit at Last - Look and Feel Better Once and for All, co-authored by Ken Blanchard and Tim Kearin traces business author Blanchard's weight-loss journey with fitness expert Kearin, and how finally at the age of 73, Ken dropped over thirty pounds in the course of a single year.

In each chapter, Ken shares the personal ups and downs of his story, relating how anyone can use his Situational Leadership approach to determine their developmental level in each of the fitness areas outlined by Tim. From there, it can be decided what type of leadership someone needs to move to the next level.

Fit at Last isn't strictly about fitness -- it's about commitment. Given the proper tools, anyone can move from a superficial interest in fitness to creating and maintaining long-term devotion to personal health

Tim recently shared more about the book with me: 

Tim Kearin

QuestionWhat was the most rewarding thing for you as you helped Ken make his impressive transformation?

  • Tim: While several things come to mind, the most rewarding was seeing Ken want to get fit for the right reasons. He had attempted fitness so many times before and would make good progress but because he was doing it for someone else or for some short-lived reason, the commitment would disappear and he would resume his old habits. This time, he finally realized he must do it for himself. With the right purpose, all the elements of Ken’s program not only worked, but led to Ken continuing his health and fitness progress today—over three years later—with no end in sight.

QuestionAfter a business person has worked with a trainer or coach and made their weight loss/transformation, what are the key things that person must do to not regain the weight and resume bad habits?

  • Tim: First of all, they must remember that they had likely gained weight because of poor eating habits and little or ineffective exercise. In order to maintain their transformation, they must be willing to accept this new routine as a lifestyle change. The most important item at this point is support. This should come from someone who genuinely cares about them and should also include an occasional meeting with a trainer or coach for accountability.

QuestionThirty years ago, martini business lunches were common, and there was somewhat of a negative stigma associated with business people who embraced fitness and exercising. What caused the change to where we are today?

  • Tim: Back in the day, the general thought was that exercise was something only athletes did. If you wanted to study sports science in college, you learned Physical Education. Then the fitness revolution began. Running became popular for the recreational athlete and health clubs were popping up everywhere. Professional sports teams were hiring strength and conditioning coaches and fitness trainers began making a living. Along with this, media coverage and general education have heightened public awareness of the benefits of healthy eating and proper exercise.

 Ken Blanchard

QuestionWhy is willpower so difficult for so many people?

  • Tim: Willpower is one of the most powerful elements of personal character, but human nature leads us to taking the easy way out. Since personal improvements require a great deal of willpower and effort, we need to have compelling reasons and a distinct purpose. We are creatures of habit and habits are difficult to change. For example, I've never met a smoker who didn't know smoking was harmful and that they should quit, but it's easier to tell yourself you will work on it later. The same is true with improving your health and fitness. Ken and I both feel there’s no time like the present to commit to your commitment!

Question: If a person can't hire a trainer or coach, but wants to make a transformation to become leaner, more fit, and more healthy, what do you recommend they do?

  • Tim:  Ensuring success involves several steps. First, people need to have a distinct purpose around making the change. Then they should get a medical check and educate themselves about general health and fitness in the areas in which they feel they need help. The next steps are to establish realistic, trackable goals, and gather together people in their life who will act as a strong support system. And if possible, it’s best if people can at least start off with a consultation with a fitness professional—someone who can help them create a personalized plan and then periodically check their progress.

Question: What do you hope the "Fit at Last" reader will do after they have finished reading your book?

  • Tim: If readers are inspired by the book and decide to make a change in their fitness level, I hope they put the principles to work and finally make a commitment to their commitment. I also hope they pass the book along to someone else who is interested in improving their fitness but has had difficulty making a commitment. I would love it if readers would share their success stories with me by emailing me at or contacting me through my website.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Good To Great -- Still A Must Read

Near the top of virtually every list you'll see of the best leadership books, you'll find Good To Great, by Jim Collins.

The book, five years in the making, and published in 2001, addresses the all-important question of: Can a good company become a great company, and if so, how?

Some of the lessons from the book are:
  • "Leadership is equally about creating a climate where the truth is heard and the brutal facts confronted."
  • "Leading from good to great does not mean coming up with the answers and then motivating everyone to follow your messianic vision. It means having the humility to grasp the fact that you do not yet understand enough to have the answers and then to ask the questions that will lead to the best possible insights."
  • "Good-to-great companies use technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it."
  • "Engage in dialogue and debate."
  • Good-to-great companies are those who have the ability to get and keep enough of the right people.
Good To Great's lessons are for entrepreneurs running small businesses, for CEOs of large businesses, and for leaders and managers within businesses at all management levels.

The five years of research that Collins and a team conducted to prep for the book consisted of examining 1,435 U.S., publicly traded companies and their performance over 40 years. The book focuses on 11 good-to-great companies.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Leadership Quotes That Inspire Me

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

Friday, April 4, 2014

Try To Avoid These Common Mistakes

In Leading Change, Step-By-Step, author Jody Spiro describes three common mistakes leaders should avoid.

Those are:
  1. Thinking That a Mission is Developed by a Single Leader -- Spiro explains that in order to have buy-in from across the organization, the creation of a mission requires negotiation and genuine input from across the organization.  And that means a leader needs to be a good, active listener.
  2. Addressing Too Much in a Single Strategy; Inability to Say "No" -- According to Spiro, leaders should avoid the temptation to "pack" a given strategy with several other strategies.  Instead, you should be selective and narrow the strategy to a single thought that furthers your mission and is a niche where you can have a competitive advantage or offer a unique program or service.
  3. Confusing Strategies with Actions -- Both strategies and actions specify something that will be done. But, as Spiro explains, actions are more specific and concrete.  The strategy should cause you to determine the approach to addressing the problem and what won't be done.
Thank you Jody for this good advice.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How To Be A More Effective Listener

Being a good listener is absolutely essential to being an effective leader.

When you really listen, you:
  • Remember names and facts correctly.
  • Hear "between the lines."
  • Show respect.
  • Learn more about what's going on within your workplace.
Here are 10 tips on how to be a better listener:
  1. Look at the person who's speaking to you. Maintain eye contact.
  2. Watch for non-verbal clues, body language, gestures and facial expressions.
  3. Eliminate all distractions. Don't multi-task.
  4. Ask questions that let the other person know you have heard them, and that you want to learn more.
  5. Don't interrupt.
  6. Don't finish the other person's sentences.
  7. Avoid using words, such as "no," "but," and "however," when you respond.
  8. Don't prejudge.
  9. Display a friendly, open attitude and body language.
  10. Ask questions to clarify what you heard.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Learn How To Identify And Overcome Your Leadership Blindspots

Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter (1118646290) cover image

"A blindspot is an unrecognized weakness or threat that has the potential to undermine a leader's success," explains author Robert Bruce Shaw.  "Blindspots are tenacious and can reappear, causing problems over a leader's entire career."

These blindspots can cause great harm when leaders fail to see what is right in front of them.  Compounding the challenge says Shaw is that:

  • "People who are smart and self-assured are often very skillful at justifying their thinking and behavior--to the point of being in denial about their weaknesses and the threats they face.
  • One of the burdens of moving up is that the complexity of the decisions leaders face increases at the same time as their ability to reveal their vulnerabilities decreases.

Blindspots are both the result of individual traits and situational factors.  According to Shaw, there are 20 common leadership blindspots that fall under these four categories:

  • Self
  • Team
  • Company
  • Markets
Fortunately, Shaw's new book, Leadership Blindspots:  How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter, (available on April 21), teaches readers how to identify and overcome their blindspots.  He explains in detail why blindspots matter. And, then he teaches how to surface and overcome those blindspots, using examples, worksheets and other tools.

More specifically, the book shows leaders how to solicit feedback from those with insight about you.

And, it provides a list of actions for helping a leader build an all-important network of trusted advisors.

Robert Bruce Shaw

Among the 20 common leadership blindspots are:

  • Valuing being right over being effective
  • Failing to balance the what with the how
  • Trusting the wrong individuals
  • Failing to capture hearts and minds
  • Underestimating your competitors

To help you identify your blindspots before and as you read Shaw's book, take this online leadership blindspots survey self-assessment.

Thanks to the book publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Work Is Meaningful When...

There are so many good things to learn in the book, Helping People Win At Work, by Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge. Among those is the section about how to define meaningful work.

Their definition consists of these seven attributes.  Work is meaningful when it:
  1. It is conducted in a manner that is "good and proper" in all respects.
  2. It positively affects our company and our communities, giving our work an impact that extends beyond ourselves.
  3. It provides learning and growth, offers challenges, requires creativity, pushes us to surpass limits, and creates exciting results.
  4. It provides recognition and rewards for our achievements.
  5. It allows us to succeed as a team while excelling as individuals.
  6. It allows us to enjoy the ride, bringing humor and fun into our work.
  7. It fuels passion!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Questions To Ask To Move Your Company Forward

Check out the April issue of Inc. magazine.  In that issue, you'll find a list of 35 questions from business owners, entrepreneurs and management thinkers.  Each offered the question they would ask to move a company forward.

From the list, my favorites are:

  • Are we relevant?  Will we be relevant five years from now? Ten?
  • What prevents me from making the changes I know will make me a more effective leader?
  • Are we changing as fast as the world around us?
  • Who, on the executive team or the board, has spoken to a customer recently?
And, my most favorite is:
  • How can we become the company that would put us out of business?
What question do you ask to help move your company forward?

Monday, March 31, 2014

9 Tips For Delivering Excellent Customer Service

Leading a customer service team? Have the team members use these 9 tips for delivering excellent customer service:
  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.