Thursday, October 2, 2014

Which Of These New Year's Resolutions Did You Accomplish So Far?

Which one of the 70 tips for how to become a more effective leader did you select as a 2014 New Year's Resolution?  This list was published last December in my blog, about the time many leaders were identifying their professional and personal goals for 2014.

Hopefully, you're still making good progress with your resolution.
  • Unfortunately, according to research conducted by the University of Scranton, nearly 50% of those who make New Year's Resolutions will have abandoned them within six months
  • And, only 8% will achieve their goals.
Perhaps you've already achieve your goal!  Congratulations.  So, how about selecting another one from the list?

70 Ways To Be A Better Leader

1. Don't micromanage
2. Don't be a bottleneck
3. Focus on outcomes, not minutiae
4. Build trust with your colleagues before a crisis comes
5. Assess your company's strengths and weaknesses at all times
6. Conduct annual risk reviews
7. Be courageous, quick and fair
8. Talk more about values more than rules
9. Reward how a performance is achieved and not only the performance
10. Constantly challenge your team to do better
11. Celebrate your employees' successes, not your own
12. Err on the side of taking action
13. Communicate clearly and often
14. Be visible
15. Eliminate the cause of a mistake
16. View every problem as an opportunity to grow
17. Summarize group consensus after each decision point during a meeting
18. Praise when compliments are earned
19. Be decisive
20. Say "thank you" and sincerely mean it
21. Send written thank you notes
22. Listen carefully and don't multi-task while listening
23. Teach something new to your team
24. Show respect for all team members
25. Follow through when you promise to do something
26. Allow prudent autonomy
27. Respond to questions quickly and fully
28. Return e-mails and phone calls promptly
29. Give credit where credit is due
30. Take an interest in your employees and their personal milestone events
31. Mix praise with constructive feedback for how to make improvement
32. Learn the names of your team members even if your team numbers in the hundreds
33. Foster mutual commitment
34. Admit your mistakes
35. Remove nonperformers
36. Give feedback in a timely manner and make it individualized and specific
37. Hire to complement, not to duplicate
38. Volunteer within your community and allow your employees to volunteer
39. Promote excellent customer service both internally and externally
40. Show trust
41. Encourage peer coaching
42. Encourage individualism and welcome input
43. Share third-party compliments about your employees with your employees
44. Be willing to change your decisions
45. Be a good role model
46. Be humble
47. Explain each person's relevance
48. End every meeting with a follow-up To Do list
49. Explain the process and the reason for the decisions you make
50. Read leadership books to learn
51. Set clear goals and objectives
52. Reward the doers
53. Know yourself
54. Use job descriptions
55. Encourage personal growth and promote training, mentoring and external education
56. Share bad news, not only good news
57. Start meetings on time
58. Discipline in private
59. Seek guidance when you don't have the answer
60. Tailor your motivation techniques
61. Support mentoring - both informal and formal mentoring
62. Don't interrupt
63. Ask questions to clarify
64. Don't delay tough conversations
65. Have an open door policy
66. Dig deep within your organization for ideas on how to improve processes, policies and procedures
67. Do annual written performance appraisals
68. Insist on realism
69. Explain how a change will impact employees' feelings before, during and after the change is implemented
70. Have face-to-face interaction as often as possible

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Favorite "Moral Of The Story" Tips From Harvey Mackay

I'm a big fan of best-selling author Harvey Mackay.  He writes about business, sales and leadership and typically ends his articles with a moral of the story.

Culled from his writings of the past few years, here are some of my favorites of his moral of the story endings:
  • Change your thinking, change your life.
  • It's not enough to know how to do things - you must know why you do them.
  • If you live in the past, you won't have much of a future.
  • If you want to outsmart the competition, you have to outthink the competition.
  • Don't be afraid to make a decision.  Be afraid not make a decision.
  • What you learn on your first job will last through your last job.
  • Minds are like parachutes - not much good unless they are open.
  • If you can't be an expert, hire one.
  • People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be.
  • It only takes a little spark to ignite a great fire.
  • Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing to do.

Mackay's best-selling business books have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. They have been translated into 37 languages and sold in 80 countries.

Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive was a groundbreaking New York Times #1 best seller for 54 weeks.

Monday, September 29, 2014

10 Must-Ask Questions For Every Business Leader

Here are 10 important questions business leaders should ask, according to Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge, authors of Helping People Win At Work:
  1. Does my business have a clear, meaningful, and easily understood vision/mission?
  2. Do I have the right people in the right seats on the bus?
  3. Do I have a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal), and have I communicated it to my employees?
  4. Are my values driving the behavior I want in my organization?
  5. Am I creating a culture that increases employee engagement?
  6. Am I cultivating a spirit of internal and external learning?
  7. Do my employees know what an A looks like, and am I supporting them to get that A?
  8. Are our products/services creating lasting, positive memories for our customers?
  9. Do I have the best, most timely data and information to help my business make good decisions?
  10. Are our key performance indicators the right ones, and are we measuring what matters?
And, one more questions to ask is:
  • Do we celebrate success?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Basic Needs We Have In Common

When I think about all my colleagues, co-workers and employees, former co-workers, friends, and teammates, I believe we pretty much all have the following in common.  We want and need to be:
  • Respected
  • Valued
  • Heard
  • Appreciated
  • Accepted
  • Engaged
  • Encouraged
Young and not so young; man or woman; new to the workforce or long-time employee, don't we all have these needs in common?

I believe we do. 

So, as a leader, keep these basic needs in mind when you lead your employees, teams and groups, and you are bound to be a leader for whom employees will want to work.

Friday, September 26, 2014

How To Write A Company Policy

Keep these five tips in mind when you craft your next company policy:
  1. Keep the policy short and simple.
  2. Get rid of two old policies for every new policy you implement.
  3. Make sure that your organization's policy and procedures are written to serve your employees and customers--not just your organization.
  4. Don't write a policy in reaction to a single incident.  The problem may never arise again.
  5. Don't write a policy longer than one-page, no matter how large your organization may be.
Thanks to author Bob Nelson for these great tips from his book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

What A New Leader Should Do In The First 100 Days

There are seven major onboarding land mines that you are likely to come across as a new leader and there are specific points in the first 100 days where you are most likely to encounter them, explain authors:
  • George Brant
  • Jayme A. Check
  • Jorge Pedraza their new third edition of, The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan.

Ill-prepared, without a plan, and lacking proper onboarding, the land mines will get you.  And, if you miss one or more of the critical tasks that must be accomplished in your first 100 days, you'll likely fail.

The book is packed with:
  • Examples and case studies
  • Action plans
  • Tools, techniques and tricks of the trade
The authors also explain why you need to start even before your official first day on the job. For example:
  • Cultural engagement is extremely important in a successful transition; and it is essential that you know what your cultural engagement plan will be before walking in the door for Day One.
  • A new leader's role begins as soon as you are an acknowledged candidate for the job. Everything you do and say and don't do and don't say will send powerful signals, starting well before you even walk in the door on Day One.
By Day 30 share with your team:
  • Mission -- Why here, why exist, what business are we in?
  • Vision -- Future picture - what we want to become; where we are going.
  • Values -- Believes and moral principles that guide attitudes, decisions, and actions.
  • Objectives -- Broadly defined, qualitative performance requirements.
  • Goals -- The quantitative measures of the objectives that define success.
  • Strategies -- Broad choices around how the team will achieve its objectives.
  • Plans -- The most important projects and initiatives that will bring each strategy to fruition.
By Day 60:
  • Overinvest in early wins to build team confidence.
This must-read book for anyone in a new leadership role also includes:
  • A new approach called BRAVE on how to engage hearts and minds in the intended culture.
  • 100-Hour Action Plan for crisis situations.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

12 Questions To Ask About Your Customers To Help You Find New Customers

As a sales leader, it's important that you analyze your current customers to help you identify the best places to focus your energies for finding new customers.  That's the advice of Brian Tracy in his new book, Unlimited Sales Success.

And, Tracy recommends that the best way to analyze your current customers is to ask and answer these twelve questions:
  1. Who is using your product or service today?
  2. Who will be using it in the future, based on current trends?
  3. Why should somebody buy your product at all?
  4. If someone should buy your product, why should they buy it from your company rather than from some other company?
  5. If customers have decided to buy from your company, shy should they buy the product or service from you personally, rather than from someone else in your company?
  6. Who exactly is your customer?  Who buys from you most readily? 
  7. Why does your customer buy your product or service?  What specific benefits does the customer receive from your product or service?
  8. Who or what is your competition for the customer?
  9. Why, specifically, do customers buy from your competition?
  10. What advantages do customers perceive in buying from your competitor that they do not perceive when considering buying from you?
  11. What weaknesses do customers perceive in your product or service offering?
  12. How can you offset these perceived weaknesses?

Tuesday, September 23, 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.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

How To Lead With Purpose

“Purpose is the why behind everything within an organization,” says author John Baldoni, of the book, Lead With Purpose.

Baldoni also believes that it is up to leaders to make certain that organizational purpose is understood and acted upon. And, to harness the talents of their employees, leaders must recognize their responsibility to instill purpose in the workplace.

Other recommendations include:
  • Make purpose a central focus
  • Instill purpose in others
  • Make employees comfortable with ambiguity
  • Turn good intentions into great results
  • Make it safe to fail (as well as prevail)
  • Develop the next generation
According to Baldoni, purpose forms the backbone of what an organization exists to do; upon which you can build vision and mission.

To define an organization’s purpose, you must ask three questions:

1. What is our vision — that is, what do we want to become?
2. What is our mission — that is, what do we do now?
3. What are our values–that is, what are the behaviors we expect of ourselves?

Some of my other favorite observations from the book are these two:
  • We follow leaders not because they bring us down, but because they lift our spirits with their attitude, words, and examples.
  • No job is complete without a review. Look at what went right as well as what went wrong. Understand that failure is not grounds for dismissal.
Lead With Purpose draws on extensive research, field work and interviews with dozens of organizational leaders. It also includes the results of an exclusive 2010 leadership survey conducted for the American Management Association (AMA) by NFI Research.

Baldoni is a recognized leadership educator, coach and speaker, and the author of Lead by Example and Lead Your Boss.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Three Main Drivers Of Motivation

Julian Birkinshaw shares the three drivers of discretionary effort (motivation) from employees in his new book, Becoming a Better Boss:
  1. Material drivers, including salary, bonuses, promotion, and prizes
  2. Social drivers, including recognition for achievement, status, and having good colleagues
  3. Personal drivers, including freedom to act, the opportunity to build expertise, and working for a worthwhile cause
Take a moment now to reflect on where your business excels and where it falls short.

How To Listen And Learn

In John Baldoni's new bookThe Leader's Guide to Speaking with Presence, he provides these tips for listening as a leader and learning as a leader:

When Listening As A Leader:
  • Look at people when they are speaking to you. Make eye contact.
  • Ask open-ended questions, such as "Tell me about..." or "Could you explain this?"
  • Consider the "what if" question:  "What if we looked at the situation like this?"
  • Leverage the "why" question:  "Why do we do it this way?"
  • Employ the "how" question:  "How can you do this?"
When Learning As A Leader:
  • Reflect on what people have told you.
  • Think about what you have not observed.  Are people holding back?  If so, why?
  • Consider how you can implement what you have observed.
  • Get back to people who have suggested ideas to you and thank them.
  • Look for opportunities to collaborate with others.
For nearly 20 years, Baldoni has coached and consulted for a number of leading companies in a variety of different businesses, ranging from automotive and banking to computers, high technology, fast food, and packaged goods. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What To Do After Reprimanding An Employee

"A reprimand should end with a reaffirmation of the person's past performance," explains authors Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge in their book, Helping People Win At Work.

They provide this example:
  • "The reason I'm upset is because this is so unlike you.  You're one of my best employees, and you usually get your reports in on time."
"The reason this step is important is that when you finish giving someone a reprimand, you want him thinking about what he did wrong, not how you treated him."

Thanks for this good advice Ken and Garry.

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.