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70 New Year's Resolutions For Leaders

Lose weight. Exercise more. Stop smoking. Read more. Shop less. Volunteer.

Okay, so you've found your New Year's resolution for your personal life. But, have you identified your New Year's resolution for your workplace life?

If not, and you want to be a more effective leader for your team at work in 2011, select one or more of these 70 New Year's resolutions for leaders:
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.  Eliminat…

A Maxim For Leaders For 2011

I heard this advice quoted the other day and wanted to share it.  It's from William Arthur Ward, one of America's most quoted writers of inspirational maxims:
Do more than belong: participate.Do more than care: help.Do more than believe: practice.Do more than be fair:  be kind.Do more than forgive: forget.Do more than dream: work.All great advice for leaders and managers as we start 2011.

Resolve To Find A Mentor In 2011

Having a mentor is one of the best things you can do to advance your career as a leader. So, decide today to secure a mentor who will work with you during 2011. Make that one of your New Year’s resolutions.

A mentor can benefit leaders new to their leadership role and they can benefit experienced and seasoned leaders, as well.

A strong mentoring relationship allows the mentor and the mentee to develop new skills and talents, to build confidence, and to build self-awareness.

Proper mentoring takes a commitment from both parties and it takes time to develop and to reap the rewards of the relationship. Plan to work with your mentor for no less than three months, and ideally for six months or longer.

When seeking out a mentor, think about these questions:
1.  Will the relationship have good personal chemistry?
2.  Can this person guide me, particularly in the areas where I am weakest?
3.  Will this person take a genuine interest in me?
4.  Does this person have the traits and skills I …

Great Year-End Advice For Leaders

Lynn Flinn of EWF International in Tulsa, OK wrote the following in a recent newsletter.  It's so powerful I wanted to pass it along.  EWF International provides professionally facilitated peer advisory groups for women business owners and executives.

Do something that you are afraid to do. Run through the fear rather than running away from it.
Take a personal risk. Tell someone something you've always wished you'd said to them.
Write a note to someone who inspires you but probably doesn't know it.
Pick one characteristic about yourself that you'd like to change and earnestly work on changing it. It is really hard to change a behavior, but it is possible if you are aware, patient and persistent in making a change.
Realize when you are not engaged and re-engage. Turn off the television, turn off the cell phone and pay attention to the people around you.
Smile and talk to strangers that you meet. It is amazing how much shorter a long line feels when …

Ask Your Customers To Help You Write Your Strategic Plan

Mike Brown, the founder of the Kansas City company called, The Brainzooming Group, encourages business leaders to solicit feedback from their customers when creating a strategic plan.

Brown recently wrote in Smart Companies Thinking Bigger magazine, that you should “ask a group of current, former and potential customers the following questions:"
If you’re a current or former customer, why did you start using us?What have we done in the past to make your biggest challenges more difficult?If you still use us, why do you continue to do so?If you don’t use us currently, what are some of the reasons why you don’t?“These questions are designed to allow your customers to share their perspectives and opinions openly, not rate performance on a numerical scale,” explained Brown.

He explained that the answers to the questions will provide you valuable insight into:
Your current strengths and weaknessesOpportunities to more successfully help your customersPotential challenges from not fully me…

The Five Points Of Professionalism

Here's more good advice from The Everything Coaching And Mentoring Book:

Professional behavior on the job means that work habits are strong and consistent.  Your organization's work ethic should be solution- and positive-results-oriented.

And you should regularly take inventory of these five points of professionalism:
Honesty and integrityLearning and initiativeResiliencePositive attitudeTeamworkCheck out these useful online resources for more coaching and mentoring tips and advice:
MicomentorThe Center for Coaching and MentoringThe Coaching and Mentoring NetworkCoaching and Mentoring for Small Business OwnersManager's ForumCoaching and Mentoring CareersPeer ResourcesCoaching and Mentoring Training

How To Talk About 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. Perhaps that time is now as you conduct year-end performance reviews.

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 time to make his improvement.

3 Coaching And Mentoring Tips

Here are three great tips from the book, The Everything Coaching and Mentoring Book:
Coaches do not motivate their employees; they inspire them to motivate themselves.  This is best accomplished by allowing employees to see clearly where they stand in the organization versus where they want to be in their careers.  That is, what are their self-interests versus what the company can offer them.A mentor always exercises the power of suggestion. That is, wise mentors offer up plenty of suggestions to their mentees. They pose alternatives.  But they refrain, as much as possible, from telling their mentees what to do.Mentoring is all about sharing experiences.  It is about mentors imparting the multiple lessons that they've learned to their mentees and helping them better navigate through their own careers.  By absorbing these lessons--of mentors' mistakes and successes--mentees are better prepared to move forward with knowledge and confidence.

How To Avoid 8 Common Performance Evaluation Pitfalls

As the year comes to a close it's likely time for many business leaders to tackle the annual performance appraisal process.

So, here is a good reminder from author Sharon Armstrong about how to avoid eight performance evaluation pitfalls.  These are in what I consider is the best chapter of the book The Essential HR Handbook, that she co-authored with Barbara Mitchell.
1.  Clustering everyone in the middle performance-rating categories
2.  Overlooking flaws or exaggerating the achievements of favored employees
3.  Excusing substandard performance or behavior because it is widespread
4.  Letting one characteristic - positive or negative - affect your overall assessment
5.  Rating someone based on the company he or she keeps
6.  Rating someone based on a grudge you are holding
7.  Rating someone based on a short time period instead of the entire evaluation period
8.  Rating everyone high, to make you look good

There's other great information in this 250-page book that is valuabl…

Read "The Seven Arts Of Change"

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David Shaner's compelling, The Seven Arts of Change, shows business leaders that transforming a business only happens when each employee equates organizational change with the process of deep personal growth.

"The bottom line is that, despite how technological and automated organizations have become, at their core they remain a collection of human energies that are merely being applied in an organized environment," explains Shaner.  "Resurrecting and guiding that human core of your organization is the secret to leading and sustaining change," he adds.

Shaner pulls from his vast professional and personal experiences, including having been a member of the Olympic Valley USA Ski Team and a former Harvard University teacher, to lay out a seven-part "spiritual guide" for change:
The Art of Preparation (Assessment)The Art of Compassion (Participation)The Art of Responsibility (Accountability)The Art of Relaxation (Clarity, Focus, Visibility)The Art of Consc…

4 Quick Tips For How To Lead More Effectively

Roger Fulton’s book, Common Sense Management, offers these quick tips for how to be an effective leader:

•  Don’t Blame Others – When in a position of power, everything that occurs is your responsibility, even the errors. So, rather than spending effort in placing the blame on others, your job is to minimize the damage and to take the steps necessary so that the problem does not recur in the future.
•  Create Commitment – Supervisors supervise and managers control. Leaders, on the other hand, create commitment and are absolutely essential in times of chaos, crisis or change. In those times, leaders take charge.
•  Be Consistent – Don’t enforce the rules today and ignore them tomorrow. Being inconsistent with rules will leave your employees unsure of what is truly expected of them.
•  Make Decisions – Make sound and timely decisions. Gather all the facts you need to understand the situation. Analyze the facts and review them objectively. Formulate possible strategies and consider the c…

5 Reasons To Do An Employee Survey

Business leaders who wonder whether they should conduct an employee survey should think about these five good reasons for conducting surveys, as recommended by John Kador and Katherine J. Armstrong in their book, Perfect Phrases for Writing Employee Surveys:

1.  To discover what employees are thinking and doing – in a nonthreatening survey environment. You will learn what motivates employees and what is important to them.
2.  To prioritize the organization’s actions based on objective results – rather than relying on subjective information or your best guesses.
3.  To provide a benchmark – or a snapshot of your employees and their attitudes at a certain point of time that you can then compare to future surveys to spot trends.
4.  To communicate the importance of key topics to employees – by communicating with employees the survey results that shows your organization is listening to employees.
5.  To collect the combined brainpower and ideas of the workforce – that sometimes cannot be…

Give Positive Feedback. Don't Praise.

There is an important difference between giving your employees positive feedback and giving them praise.

Positive feedback focuses on the specifics of job performance. Praise, often one-or two-sentence statements, such as “Keep up the good work,” without positive feedback leaves employees with empty feelings.

Worse yet, without positive feedback, employees feel no sense that they are appreciated as individual talents with specific desires to learn and grow on the job and in their careers, reports Nicholas Nigro, author of, The Everything Coaching and Mentoring Book.

So, skip the praise and give positive feedback that is more uplifting to your employees because it goes to the heart of their job performance and what they actually do.

An example of positive feedback is:

“Bob, your communications skills have dramatically improved over the past couple of months. The report that you just prepared for me was thorough and concise. I appreciate all the work you’ve put into it, as do your team …

How To Write An Employee Satisfaction And Engagement Survey

According to Polaris, a company that specializes in employee research, “a company’s employees are often the face and frontline of an organization and their opinion of that organization affects their attitude, thus affecting customers’ attitudes, behavior and ultimately, the bottom line.”

That is why Polaris recommends that business leaders conduct employee research that allows leaders to better understand what motivates employees, drives loyalty, and makes and keeps employees happy.

“An added benefit of conducting employee satisfaction research is that, in doing so, a company lets their employees know they are important, their opinions and suggestions matter, and there is a sincere desire to make the company an enjoyable place to work,” reports Polaris.

Here are 10 questions Polaris recommends you ask employees as part of a wide-ranging employee satisfaction and engagement survey:

For each of the following statements, indicate if you:
• Strongly disagree
• Disagree
• Somewhat disagree

How To Improve Customer Service With The Telephone

Every business leader should periodically call his/her company to observe how their customers are being treated by their employees -- because, all too often a phone conversation becomes a customer turnoff rather than a relationship builder.

So, here's a checklist that is primarily from sales expert and author Paul R. Timm that you can use to evaluate your organization's customer service via the phone:
1. Was the phone answered after two rings or less?
2. Did the employee use an appropriate greeting?
3. Did the employee identify himself or herself by name?
4. Was the employee's tone of voice pleasant and businesslike?
5. Was the call handled efficiently without being abrupt?
6. Did the employee provide accurate information or refer the caller to an appropriate person?
7. Did the employee reflect the best image for the company?
8. Did the employee thank the caller?
9. Did the employee make prudent use of putting the caller on hold if it was necessary to do so?
10. Did the em…

5 Open-Ended Questions To Ask Your Customers

I really like author Paul R. Timm's advice to stop asking your customers the "typical" questions and instead ask them open-ended questions.

Here's what Timm recommends:

Don't Ask:
How was everything?Can I get you something else?Did you find everything you need?Will that be all?Was everything satisfactory?Instead Ask:
What else can I do for you?What else can I get for you?What else can I help you with?What else could we do to better serve you?How else can we be of help?These open-ended questions will let your customers really express their ideas, opinions and needs.  Timm is the author of, 50 Powerful Ideas You Can Use To Keep Your Customers.

How To Produce An Effective Company Blog

If you lead a business and aren’t part of the 34% of U.S. companies using a blog for marketing purposes, your business likely will within the next year.

According to Emarketer, the proportion of companies using dedicated blogs as a marketing channel—excluding blogs on social networks and microblogs such as Twitter—will rise to 39% in 2011 and to 43% by 2012.

Emarketer reports that businesses are launching their own blogs for communications, lead generation, customer service and branding primarily for these reasons:
• corporate control of the tool
• its integration with company web properties
• no limits on post lengths
• the ability to maintain a full, searchable repository of information

Successful blogs generally follow these tips and guidelines:
1. Make your blog as non-promotional as possible.
2. Keep it relevant to the reader.
3. Answer your customers’ questions or address their pain points.
4. Be sure it’s well-written.
5. Make it relevant to your company or products.
6. Offer p…

Leadership Tips From Good Boss, Bad Boss

Robert Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss, provides these leadership tips:
Create an environment that encourages people to challenge each other's ideas, but set a few ground rules. Don't allow personal attacks or criticism.  Really listen to the people under your supervision--don't just fake it.  Start your meetings on time, and don't cut into employee's personal time at lunch or after work.Invite your employees into your office to give you feedback on how the ship's running.

How To Write A Business Plan In About One Hour

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Kansas City’s Joe Calhoon, published earlier this month, The 1 Hour Plan for Growth, where he provides a system for creating a clear and compelling business plan for growth.

I believe business plans are critical to any business — new or old. So, if this book helps those who have been putting off the task because it seems too daunting, try Calhoon’s book.

The 194-page shows business leaders how to write a plan in about one hour so it fits on a single sheet of paper. The plan will include six essential elements:

1.Vision
2.Mission
3.Values
4.Objectives
5.Strategies
6.Priorities

And, Calhoon teaches how to write a plan that will engage employees and develop leadership capacity. Calhoon’s system has been used by Kansas City-based companies, such as:

•Cruise Holidays of KC
•Jack Stack Barbecue
•Redemption Plus
•United Heating & Cooling

“Joe Calhoon is an expert at making the growth planning process simple. This book is a must read for every team member where leadership is committed to…

How To Write Your Company's Core Values

Walk into any Whole Foods grocery store and you'll see that company's core values proudly presented on a large sign.

Business leaders can learn a lot from the chain's core values:

1. Its values are what are truly important to Whole Foods.
2. The values remain constant and don't change from time to time, situation to situation or person to person.
3. The values clearly set the company's culture. As Whole Foods explains, their core values are the "soul" of its company.
4. The values address the company's product, customers, vendors, and the communities in which it operates.

Note, too, how for each of the company's six core values, it further explains what that core value statement means. Without these additional explanations, the values could be no more than just words on paper.

As you craft your company's core values, carefully study the approach and language used for Whole Food's, found here.

How To Be A Green Leader

You can be a green leader at work and help save the planet and money for your business, by following these practices and instilling these habits with your employees:

Photocopiers: Use the "standby" button on your copiers and that will lighten your energy load by 70 percent. This is particularly important, considering the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.

Fax Machines: Avoid a cover page when possible and you'll save paper on both ends. Or, better yet, use Internet faxing.

Paper: Recycle and use only recycled paper.

Postage Meters: Try printing online stamps instead of using a postage meter. You'll save on equipment and meter maintenance.

Printers: Print double-sided pages and use an inkjet if you can. Laser printers use three hundred watts of electricity, while inkjets use only 10.

Computers: Activate the power management function, or sleep mode, on your monitors and CPU boxes. If just ten employees did it, they would collectively save near…

Key Interviewing Questions To Ask To Identify Leaders

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

What To Think About For Next Year

Hopefully, 2011 will be better for most businesses. 

As you start to think about what you can add into your budget and plan for 2011 (that you may have cut from your budget the past couple years), consider these "best company" practices for your workplace:

•Mentoring programs, especially for new employees
•Volunteer opportunities/days
•Lunches with the CEO or president
•On-site wellness fairs
•Pep rallies
•Telecommuting programs
•Summer picnics for employees and their families
•Retention bonuses
•Lending libraries
•Unlimited sick days
•Employee team sports after hours, such as bowling and baseball
•On-site child care services
•Awarding vacation time in exchange for community volunteering time
•Employee pot-luck breakfasts
•Monthly birthday parties
•On-site fitness equipment
•Frequent town hall meetings with upper management
•Subsidized gym memberships
•Leadership development programs
•Time given to employees to spend on work related items outside their job description
•Empl…

Discover Your Leader Grade

If you need a tool to measure your leadership skills, check out LeaderGrade, by Quantum Workplace, which measures your leadership influence by asking your peers and followers to rate your leadership skills.

The online survey tool uses a 45 question assessment to measure your leadership skills across 15 dimensions of leadership.

The survey typically takes respondents seven to 10 minutes to fill out and the results you get will identify your strengths and weaknesses, and will allow you to compare your evaluators' responses to your own self-assessment.

The self-evaluation survey is free and it's the first step in the program. Also free is a summary analysis of your results. A full reporting on your results costs $79.

Also, by using LeaderGrade, your leadership skills can be compared to those of other leaders who have completed the LeaderGrade assessment.  I don't know the pricing for the full program, but the free self-assessment is worth using.

Thanks For Your Loyal Readership

A heartfelt thanks for reading my blog and sharing your feedback, comments and ideas.  I've passed the one-year mark of blog publishing and will continue to do my best to bring you useful, helpful and practical tips for how to be an effective leader.

Please continue to tell me what you want to read!

Eric Jacobson
Overland Park, KS

Learn The Art Of Effective Messaging

David Grossman, president and founder of The Grossman Group, recently published a helpful, free eBook titled:
Mastering The Art of Messaging

Grossman says that "maybe it’s the economy, maybe it’s technology, maybe we’re all just way 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 new 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 encom…

Check Out These Free Tips For Making An Effective Presentation

Speechworks has published a free eBook entitled How to Create a Seven Minute Rifle Shot Presentation. To get the eBook, go to the Speechworks home page.
The 38-page eBook details how to create a short, simple, persuasive message and includes these eight chapters:
A Plan for a Seven-Minute PresentationWhat a Seven-Minute Presentation Sounds LikeStart by Focusing on the Key Business ChallengeFocus Your Presentation on Three Key MessagesFilling Out Your Three Key MessagesClose By Recapping Your Three Key PointsEnd by Asking for SomethingKeys to Telling a Good StoryThe eBook is excerpted from Joey Asher’s new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: A Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations.

Find The Ideal Tone For Your Emails

Can't quite master the ideal tone for the emails you send employees and customers?  Or, do you have employees whole struggle with the tone of their emails?  You might want to check out ToneCheck.

ToneCheck, a software program that works with Microsoft Outlook 2003, 2007 and 2010, helps to ensure your tone is clearly communicated and understood. It acts somewhat similar to an email spell checker, and you can select the suggested alternatives or ignore the advice.

The program evaluates words and phrases for the intensity of eight primary emotions, allowing you to adjust the overall tone before you send your message. ToneCheck scans your messages for terms that may be inadvertently conveying:

• Affection
• Friendliness
• Amusement
• Excitement
• Sadness
• Grief
• Fear
• Uneasiness
• Anger
• Shame

Over 165 billion email messages are sent worldwide each day. The average worker will spend 10 years of their work life dealing with email. And, sometimes, perhaps all too often, email messag…

When To Coach And When To Counsel

A good manager is both a coach and a counselor.  Generally, coaching should precede counseling.

As a coach,a manager:
identifies an employee's need for instruction and direction and this need is usually directly related to his or her performance or career goals.  Coaching is collaborative. It relies on mutual, progressive goal-setting, personal feedback, and an ongoing, supportive relationship.

You coach to help retain employees and to show you care about your employees as individuals.  It's best to coach when a new procedure is introduced, a job is changed, and/or a skill gap is identified.

As a counselor, a manager
first identifies a problem that interferes with an employee's work performance and then helps the employee to define specifically what behavior he or she needs to change in order to improve his or her performance or resolve a problem. So, the difference between coach and counselor is subtle, but important.  And, as Sharon Armstrong further shares in her book, &qu…

Must-Read Book For Nonprofit Leaders

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If you lead a nonprofit organization, the one hour it will take you to read Peter F. Drucker's book called "The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization" will be well worth it.

This book may fundamentally change the way you work and lead your organization.

Perhaps one of most challenging questions Drucker asks the reader is:

"Do we produce results that are sufficiently outstanding for us to justify putting our resources in this area? 

Because, Drucker argues that need alone does not justify continuing.  Nor does tradition, if your results are not sufficiently outstanding.

If you volunteer for a nonprofit or are seeking employment at a nonprofit, this book is also an insightful and inspiring read.

Definitions Of Key Business Terms

We talk about, read about and hear about "customers," "mission," and "customer value" all the time and perhaps sometimes we struggle with fully understanding the best definition of those terms.

I like Peter F. Drucker's definitions:

Customers -- Those who must be satisfied in order for the organization to achieve results.  The primary customer is the person whose life is changed through the organization's work.  Supporting customers are volunteers, members, partners, funders, referral sources, employees, and others who must be satisfied.

Customer Value -- That which satisfied customers' needs (physical and psychological well-being), wants (where, when, and how service is provided), and aspirations (desired long-term results).

Mission -- Why you do what you do; the organization's reason for being, its purpose.  Says what, in the end, you want to be remembered for.

Be A Manager Who Makes Decisions

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A manager who can't make a decision or who can't make a timely decision will frustrate his/her employees. Equally bad, a lack of decision will impede the progress of the manager's team.

Some managers make endless requests for data as a way to postpone their having to make a decision. Employees end up spinning in circles, slicing and dicing the information far beyond what is truly needed for the manager to make a decision.

Some managers are simply afraid to make a decision in fear of making a "wrong" decision. These managers don't necessarily request needless data, but simply just never decide.

Successful managers gather the data from their employees, make any truly necessary follow-up requests (probing beyond what their employee may have researched/gathered on their own), and then make their decision...knowing that in virtually all cases most decisions are not black and white "right or "wrong," but are the best decisions made at that time for…

How To Create A "Best Places To Work" Company

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Overland Park, Kansas-based author Leigh Branham, along with Mark Hirschfeld, recently 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:
Caring, Competent, and Engaging Senior LeadersEffective Managers Who Keep Employees Aligned and EngagedEffective Teamwork at All LevelsJob Enrichment and Professional GrowthValuing Employee ContributionsConcern 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 latest book, Re-Engage.

How Sports (Or Band) Can Make You A Better Leader

LinkedIn members continue to offer their insights on my recent discussion question about whether playing high school and/or college sports can help to make you a better business leader.  I particularly found the following insightful from a discussion participant.  She said:

"I participated in both athletics and band while in school. I'm not sure if this made me a better leader but it did make me a better team mate. My soccer coach grilled us about communicating on the field and if we didn't we ran laps. This lesson has been invaluable in my adult life.

"Band taught me to keep step with my colleagues and pay attention to what's going on around me.

"Most importantly I learned what it was like to be a champion and what it was like to be in last place. If you know these feelings you will always work hard to be on the winning side. Being a great leader starts with being a great team mate."

How Do You Answer These Leadership Questions?

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

Good Sample Business Principles

I really like these 10 guiding business principles that San Antonio, TX headquartered insurance company USAA lives by:
Exceed customer expectationsLive the Golden Rule (treat others with courtesy and respect)Be a leaderParticipate and contributePursue excellenceWork as a teamShare knowledgeKeep it simple (make it easy for customers to do business with us and for us to work together)Listen and communicateHave fun Too many companies don't make it simple for their customers to do business with them.  Is it easy for your customers to:
Buy from you?Make returns?Get pricing and terms?Receive timely responses to their e-mails?Quickly get answers when phoning your company? You can find more examples of companies with impressive guiding principles in the book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees.

Do you have a brand strategy?

A fellow Blogger, Debbie Laskey, shared these keen insights with me:

“A brand strategy is the ultimate business strategy and often the least understood."  And, her favorite quotes about brand equity are:

• “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” – Walter Landor

• “A brand is a living entity –and it is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures.” – Michael Eisner, former CEO of Disney

• “If this business were split up, I would give you the land and bricks and mortar, and I would take the brands and trademarks, and I would fare better than you.” – John Stuart, former CEO of Quaker Oats

Here's more about brand strategy and brand equity that I've learned from Debbie.

How To Improve Your Internal Communication Skills

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Here is this week's book recommendation.  It's a quick read, yet power-packed with useful tips for communicating effectively -- tips you can start to use tomorrow.  And, the eBook is free!


As author David Grossman says, "good internal communication gets the message out, but great internal communication helps employees connect the dots between overarching business strategy and their role. When it’s good, it informs; when it’s great, it engages employees and moves them to action. Quite simply, it helps people and organizations be even better."

I really found this book useful.

This Week's Book Recommendation

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Here is a book by David Grossman that I learned a lot from and recommend to leaders and managers:


3 Things Your Mission Statement Must Have

A lot of companies struggle when creating their mission statement.

Author Peter F. Drucker provides the following good advice in one of my favorite book's of his, The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization:"

Every mission statement has to reflect three things:
OpportunitiesCompetenceCommitment In other words, he explains:
What is our purpose?Why do we do what we do?What, in the end, do we want to be remembered for? How well does your mission statement meet Drucker's recommended three requirements?

Is Your Crisis Management Program In Place?

As we near the last quarter of 2010, it's wise to think about how we can make our businesses stronger in 2011.  One way will be to ensure our crisis management plans are in place.  Toyota's and BP's woes this year have certainly put crisis management plans on the radar screen.

Unfortunately, most businesses don't have a plan. Or, don't have a plan that is up-to-date, comprehensive and/or flexible.

With a crisis management program, you:
•Forecast potential and most likely/probable crises
•Plan in advance for how to deal with them
•Document your sequential, step-by-step action plan, including having a timeline
•Share your written plan with all the appropriate players on your team

A crisis can be any event or series of events that threatens your financial results, brand and reputation, and your relations with employees, customers and vendors. Most important, be sure you have a plan in place for a crisis that negatively impacts the general public.

The first step in deve…

How To Uncover The Real Reasons Your Employees Leave

As a leader, it's imperative 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 new book, Rethinking Retention in Good Times and Bad, four key questions you should include in your exit interviews:
Why did you decide to leave us?Of all the things you've told me, what is the top thing that caused you to resign?It's great that you've found such a good opportunity, but why did you look?What one thing could we have done that would have caused you to stay?Your goal is to know 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.

Keys To Telling A Good Story In Your Presentations

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Joey Asher's new 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.

Thanks to Asher for sending me a copy of his latest book, which is also filled with helpful tips about how to engage your audience in Q&A, and how to overcome nerves -- which hit even the most seasoned leaders.

5 Questions To Ask At Your Next Employee Performance Review

Here are five important questions you, as a manager and leader, should ask during employee performance reviews:
What have I done to help - or hinder - your job performance?What can I do in the next review period to help you achieve/improve?What conditions here enable you - or make it hard - to do your best work?What do you want most from your job?How can I help you reach your career goals?I bet most employees have never heard most of these questions from their supervisors on a consistent basis.

Thanks to Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell for these questions -- just some of their great advice from their book, The Essential HR Handbook.

Make An Impact With Your Words Of Thanks

Your words of recognition and appreciation delivered face-to-face with your employees will be compelling, effective, meaningful and memorable.

As an employee's leader, you are likely the most important person to them in the workplace. Their knowing you appreciate their hard work and success is critical to keeping them motivated and engaged.

So, don't underestimate the power of a verbal "thank you" for a job well done!

Top Five Factors That Drive Employee Loyalty

A 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management shows that job security is what matters most to employees. And, having that job security helps to keep employees loyal.  Okay, that's really not too surprising during these times of high unemployment.

Next on the list is benefits. The unstable economy, coupled with rising health care costs, make employer offered benefits more important than ever.

Third on the top five list is an employee's opportunity to use his/her skills. When employees feel good about their jobs and their abilities, and clearly know they are contributing to their organization they remain engaged and loyal. 

In fourth place is an organization's financial stability.

Compensation came in fifth on the top five list. Employee pay often is not the most important driver for employee retention.  Despite study after study that shows pay is not the top reason employees stay with a company, research results like these often surprise workplace leaders.

In …

Use New-Hire Employee Badges

If you lead an organization that uses employee ID badges, considering using a different color or a special designation on the badges for newly hired employees for at least their first 30 days and ideally up to 60 days. 

Imagine how welcoming it will be for your new hires when employees recognize your newly hired employees' status via their special badges and then when your longer term employees introduce themselves to the new employees in halls, on elevators, in your break room, in the parking lot and at large group meetings.

Some people call this a "hello" culture.  It's a culture that helps to quickly develop relationships.  And, it's a culture that ensures your new hires feel welcome during their critical onboarding time period.

Mix Praise With Constructive Feedback

When you provide overall feedback to your employees, mix praise with constructive feedback about what they can do to improve.

By mixing your input, you are satisfying a person's thirst for knowing both what he/she is doing well and what he/she can do to continue to improve.

Be sure to always start with the positive when giving feedback.

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.

New Thinking About Employee Retention

Richard Finnegan has written a terrific new book called, Rethinking Retention in Good Times and Bad.

One section compares traditional thinking versus new ways to think about retention and the vital role supervisors play in retaining employees.  For example:

Traditional Thinking:  Human Resources-driven programs like pay and recognition are essential for retention.
Rethinking Retention:  Ineffective supervisors trump programs and drive turnover.

Traditional Thinking:  All aspects of company culture contribute equally to retention.
Rethinking Retention:  Supervisor-employee relationships have a disproportionate impact on retention; the supervisor is the company.

Traditional Thinking:  Centralized communication and career programs impact all employees equally.
Rethinking Retention:  Supervisors drive what employees know and learn and help them prepare for careers.

Are your supervisors helping to retain employees or driving them away?

5 Tips For Generating Ideas From Employees

Your employees have lots of ideas.  So, be sure you provide the forums and mechanisms for your employees to share their ideas with you.  Hold at least a few brainstorming sessions each year, as well.

And, when you are brainstorming with your employees, try these five tips:

Encourage ALL ideas.  Don't evaluate or criticize ideas when they are first suggested.Ask for wild ideas.  Often, the craziest ideas end up being the most useful.Shoot for quantity not quality during brainstorming.Encourage everyone to offer new combinations and improvements of old ideas.

Lots Of Lessons From Post-it Notes

There are lots of lessons tied to those canary yellow squares, called Post-it Notes -- how ideas and innovations can come from anyone on your team at any time.  How they can be used by leaders to boost morale.  How test marketing is critical. 

Enjoy the history of those yellow squares.

Plan Monthly Job Learning Days

Having your employees learn more about what their fellow employees do is invaluable. When everyone knows how each job/position on your team fits together, your team can accomplish so much more. Plus, the new-found knowledge drives a better appreciation for what everyone does, and proves to the team that success comes only when all the pieces fit together like a well-oiled machine.

So, plan a half day where you pair up employees. Once paired, one employee explains to his (or her) partner what he does in a "typical" day. Allow enough time for sharing samples of his work and for Q&A. Then, it's the second person's turn to share about their "typical" day. If your half day is a morning, suggest the pairs of employees have lunch together, where they can finish by incorporating more discussion about away-from-work hobbies and interests.

Schedule your job learning days for once a month and have your employees meet with different partners each time. It's bes…

Know When To Change Your Decision

Leaders make decisions.

Good leaders are willing to modify their decisions as changing circumstances and data dictate.

If you are stubborn about a decision and think that tweaking your decision will be a sign of weakness, think again. In fact, just the opposite is true.

Often, circumstances change and new information becomes available after a decision has been made. If that takes place it is a sign of strength to modify your decision to fit the new situation.

Communicate Often And Tell A Story

"Most leaders' visions fail, not due to a leader's inadequacies, but due to the leader's lack of communication," said Margaret Reynolds of Reynolds Consulting, LLC in Lee's Summit, MO. Reynolds shared her expertise with me recently during an interview.

She added that it's not that leaders don't communicate, but that they don't beat the drum regularly enough. "Leaders need to communicate often, regularly and consistently," she recommended.

"In terms of how to communicate so people get it, it is pretty widely accepted that story telling is the most effective," explained Reynolds. Leaders need to paint a vision where people see it often. She recommends that leaders share their vision at least seven to 10 times with their employees, and to make it clear to everyone what specifically each person can do each day to help achieve the collective mission.

Reynolds' other advice to leaders is to be one who:
•listens with respect
•comm…

Go Old School...Use A Flip Chart For Gathering Ideas

Here's a great idea from communications consultant, speaker and author David Grossman:

And, yes it's old school. But, it works!

Grossman recommends that when you have something you want to get your employees' input on, post a question on a flip chart in your department or office. Provide Post-it notes, and watch the ideas grow as employees post their ideas on the flip chart.

This is an informal focus group of sorts, where employees can freely and without feeling pressure, share their ideas, see others' ideas, and then suggest even more ideas.

You'll get great collaboration without a meeting!

Do You Really Need To Read Leadership Books?

The answer is yes. 

And, fortunately, there are lots out there to select from.  However, if you don't have time to read books about how to be an effective and good leader, you can select a few words from the list below and then practice what those words mean, as you lead your team every day.

Leaders on the LinkedIn Executive Suite group came up with these nearly 50 words in answer to a discussion topic I posted in the group forum:  "A Good Leader Is [insert one word]."  A big thank you to that group for this valuable list.

Accountable
Adaptable
Approachable
Authentic
Aware
Bold
Brave
Candid
Caring
Clear
Challenging
Charismatic
Compassionate
Courageous
Credible
Decisive
Dedicated
Ethical
Empowering
Engaged
Fearless
Forward-Thinking
Gracious
Honest
Humble
Inclusive
Influential
Inspiring
Intuitive
Loyal
Mindful
Moral
Motivating
Objective
Open
Passionate
Pro-active
Receptive
Responsible
Respectful
Skilled
Smart
Steady
Strategic
Thoug…

Use A Board Of Advisors

David Burkus often provides valuable comments to my various Blog postings, and he's a person who effectively uses a board of advisors, instead of mentors, to help him achieve success.

"I've found that in my life, it was easier and more effective to set up a board of advisors," said Burkus, the editor of LeaderLab. "This is a group of people, three to five, that have rotated into my life at various times and that speak into it and help me grow. I benefit from the variety of experience these people have."

LeaderLab is an online community of resources dedicated to promoting the practice of leadership theory. Its contributors include consultants and professors who present leadership theory in a practitioner-friendly format that provides easy-to-follow explanations on how to apply the best of leadership theory.

Community users can download a variety of research reports and presentations about leadership and leadership versus management.

For example, a presentat…

Great Business Quote

Here's a great quote from author and speaker Harvey Mackay:

"When a person with money meets a person with experience, the person with the experience ends up with the money, and the person with the money ends up with the experience."

Let's Build A List

Let's build a list of the most important attributes of a good leader, and let's only use one word (or a hyphenated word) at a time to describe each attribute. 

I'll ask a similar question in some of the leadership groups on LinkedIn and then will publish all our words in one list to share with everyone.

Here's a start:
HonestCaringRisk-adverseWhat word or words do you want to add?

Thanks!
Eric Jacobson
Overland Park,  KS

Four Tips And Observations For Leaders

I really like these four leadership tips and observations from the book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees:
Nothing creates more self-respect among employees than being included in the process of making decisions.Decisions must be made at the lowest possible level for management at the top to retain its effectiveness.Hold an annual "Olympics" at your workplace that includes competition in the areas of sales, production, administrative support, IT, etc.  It'll provide the opportunity for employees to show off their skills that will energize all employees and boost morale.Ensure employees know you've read the important reports they send to you.  Get an ink stamp that says "Read by [insert your name]" and stamp each report you read.  Then, route the report back to the applicable employee.  The quality of reports will likely improve!

Never Say These Words To A Customer

Author Harvey MacKay wrote the following spot-on advice in his recent column in the Kansas City Business Journal.  He wisely points out that all employees at every level should never use these four words in front of a client/customer for both obvious and perhaps not so obvious reasons:
Can't -- As in, "We can't do that."  "We can't meet that deadline."  Unless you honestly cannot produce and then be honest and help them find another vendor.Busy -- As in, "I'll call you when I'm not so busy."  "I'm really busy right now." The word "busy" gives your customer the impression they are a low priority.Safe -- As in, "Let's play it safe."  Customers typically want to engage in calculated risks versus playing it safe.Fear -- As in, "I fear that we may be moving too fast."  That tells your customer you haven't done your homework. MacKay writes, "Common sense, thorough research and sound adv…

Let Employees Learn From Their Mistakes

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

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

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

As soon as he does, quickly rectify the situation.

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

Finally, you may discover that the mistake happened because policies, procedures or your assignment instructions were c…

Always Follow Through

Set a good example for your employees and follow through on everything you say you are going to do.

If you promise to get an employee an answer, get it for him or her. If you say you'll send a team member a report, do so. As the Nike campaign/slogan so aptly says, "Just Do It."

Too many managers don't follow through. Perhaps they get busy. Perhaps they forget. But, following through is critical to keeping your team effective and efficient. And it's necessary for gaining respect from your employees.

Following through also means doing so in a timely fashion. If you take too long to follow through, it's as bad as not following through at all.

Share The Bad News

Of course it's much easier to share good news with your employees, but it's perhaps even more important to share the bad news.

If revenue is down, or if you've lost a large customer, or if a new competitor has entered the market, let your team know. Your employees need to know about the health of your company or organization. And it's only when they have the full picture -- the good news and the bad news -- that they can rally together with you to brainstorm possible solutions.

Don't keep your team in the dark. Don't give them a false sense of the situation by sharing only good news. Keep them fully informed. They can handle the bad along with the good.

Most likely they have a sense of the bad already. Or, they'll hear it second-hand. You'll gain their respect when they hear the bad news directly from you.

Run Better Meetings

Here are five handy tips for how to run a better meeting:
Limit attendance. Include only decision makers and key implementers.Use an agenda. Give each topic a time limit. Ask your staff to help set the agenda so they'll know the meeting will be relevant.Make sure attendees know at the meeting's beginning the benefit of why they are in the meeting.Create a not-on-the agenda list of topics that will be tabled for after the meeting or for another meeting.Set immediate deadlines for carrying out all decisions that are made during the meeting.If you follow these simple five tips you can prove to your team that meetings can be used to get things done!

Learn more about how to host an effective meeting by reading the booklet, "Best Life: Tips for 2009."
The next time you stay at a Marriott hotel look in the nightstand drawer for Marriott's booklet that highlights its milestones and tells the Marriott story.


In the booklet, you'll find the following 12 ways that Marriott practices good leadership AND customer service:

Continually challenge your team to do better.Take good care of your employees, and they'll take good care of your customers, and the customers will come back.Celebrate your people's success, not your own.Know what you're good at and mine those competencies for all you're worth.Do it and do it now. Err on the side of taking action.Communicate. Listen to your customers, associates and competitors.See and be seen. Get out of your office, walk around, make yourself visible and accessible.Success is in the details.It's more important to hire people with the right qualities than with specific experience.Customer needs may vary, but their bias for quality never does.Eliminate the cause of a mistake. …

How To Give Constructive Feedback

Eric Harvey and Al Lucia wrote a booklet called "144 Ways To Walk The Talk." They provide the following great, simple and straight-forward advice about giving feedback:
Make it timely -- give your feedback as soon as possible to the performance.Make it individualized -- tailor your feedback to the feedback receiver.Make it productive -- focus your feedback on the performance and not the performer.Make is specific -- pinpoint for the receiver observable actions and behaviors.

Ten More Ways To Be An Effective Leader

Here are 10 behaviors, techniques and tips you can use to be an effective leader:
Respond to questions quickly and fully.Take an interest in your employees and their personal milestone events.Give feedback in a timely manner and make it individualized and specific.Be willing to change your decisions.End every meeting with a follow-up To Do list.Support mentoring -- both informal and formal.Don't delay tough decisions.Do annual written performance appraisals.Explain how a change will affect employee's feelings before, during and after the change is implemented.Have face-to-face interaction as often as possible.

New Mobile App Makes It Easy To Find Volunteer Opportunities

You can now find local volunteer opportunities on VolunteerMatch.org's new free mobile app for iPhones.

Download the app, type in your zip code, and you will be presented a host of nonprofit organizations with volunteer opportunities in your area.

And, if you are a leader in the workforce, take note of the recently completed research that VolunteerMatch.org and United Healthcare recently completed.

They found compelling evidence that volunteering not only enhances volunteers' physical and mental health, but also strengthens relationships between employers and employees.

So, encourage employees to volunteer. Organize groups of employees to volunteer after work or on the weekends. Consider rewarding employees with incentives or extra vacation time in exchange for their volunteer hours.

Some highlights of the findings from the VolunteerMatch.org and United Healthcare research show that:

68% of those who volunteer in the past year report that volunteering made them feel physically …

How To Be A Better Leader -- 25 Tips

If you don't have time to read a book about how to improve your leadership skills, tackle a handful of these tips, complied from the works of many authors:
Don't micromanageDon't be a bottleneckFocus on outcomes, not minutiaeBuild trust with your colleagues before a crisis comesAssess your company's strengths and weaknesses at all timesConduct annual risk reviewsTalk about values more than rulesReward how a performance is achieved and not only the performanceConstantly challenge your team to do betterCelebrate your employees' successes, not your ownErr on the side of taking actionCommunicate clearly and oftenBe visibleEliminate the cause of a mistakeView every problem as an opportunity to growSummarize group consensus after each decision point during a meetingPraise when compliments are earnedBe decisiveSay "thank you" and sincerely mean itSend written thank you notesListen carefully and don't multi-task while listeningTeach something new to your teamS…

Tips For Conducting More Effective Performance Appraisals

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I'm a big fan of Sharon Armstrong's, The Essential HR Handbook, and now she's released her newest book, The Essential Performance Review Handbook.

"Appraisals are meant to clarify and reward, and to be interactive and fair.  They take real time, real dialog, and a real focus on the future, rather than just the previous few months," says Armstrong.

The 224-page book, at a nice price of $14.99 (now for about $10 on Amazon), provides lots of tips and examples, and even includes the actual appraisal forms used by 10 organizations and associations that are both interesting to review and handy to use as "best practice" documents.

Armstrong admits that performance appraisals can be one of the most anxiety-provoking aspects of one's work life for both supervisors and employees. That's what inspired her to write this book.  In it, she provides leaders and managers of all levels advice on how to make the performance appraisal process more productive, less…

What's The First Leadership Book You Would Give To A New Manager?

Earlier this year, various discussion groups on the social media site LinkedIn helped me build a list of favorite leadership books

Now, I've been wondering, what is the best first book about leadership that one should give to a new manager who wants to become a strong leader.

For me, that book would be Timothy R. Clark's compact, 100-page, The Leadership Test.

This book has become one of my favorite and one that should be read before all other leadership books in my opinion. Clark, in a story-telling approach, takes the reader through a five-question test that is incredibly powerful.

The book professes that above all else, leadership requires steely character and an unflinching desire to do the right thing.

What is the first leadership book you would give to a new manager desiring to be a great leader?

How To Help Your Employees Click More At Work

Research from universities around the country show that employees who "click" with each other at work have more career success.  And, those who "click" well get to the core of the office network within 18 months, while it can take 13 years for those who don't "click" well.

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

Consider these findings from the research:
How much you reveal about yourself to a co-worker helps you click.The more you open up and share your feelings, the more trust you build and the more likely you'll build a connection with a co-worker.Having an office or cubicle in the central area of your workplace increases your ability for clicking opportunities.Sitting near the middle of a conference table brings you more clicking opportunities, as well.Keeping your office door open, communicating in person versus e-mail or via the phone, allows you to click more.The m…

Lessons From Good To Great

Here are two of my favorite quotes from the hugely popular leadership book, Good To Great:
"The good-to-great companies did not say, 'Okay, folks, let's get passionate about what we do.' Sensibly, they went the other way entirely; We should only do those things that we can get passionate about.""To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence. It requires the discipline to say, 'Just because we are good at it--just because we're making money and generating growth--doesn't necessarily mean we can become the best at it.'  The good-to-great companies understood that doing what you are good at will only make you good; focusing solely on what you can potentially do better than any other organization is the only path to greatness."

How Will You Be Remembered As A Leader?

As a leader, you likely have asked yourself, "How do I want to be remembered as a leader?"

But, perhaps the more important question is, "How will I be remembered as a leader?"  The answer to that question is likely going to be based on the valuable lessons you shared with those you led.

The Kansas City Star newspaper recently featured a story about Marion Laboratories and its 60th anniversary.  In its heyday, Marion had 3,400 employees with sales of nearly $1 billion and in 1989 merged with Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals. 

Mr. Ewing Kauffman, fondly known as Mr. K, led Marion during its peak, and is remembered as one of the most effective, influential leaders ever in the Kansas City area.

Former employees quoted in the newspaper article remember Mr. Kauffman as a leader who shared these lessons with them:

"You can do anything you want if you set your mind to it and if you study your competition.""You can't be afraid of trying something""Tr…

How To Be An Open Leader

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Charlene Li, the author of the best-seller book, Groundswell, was kind enough to send me an advance copy of her newest book, Open Leadership, which she released for sale on May 24.

Li explains in her new book what it means to be an open leader and why having those skills and behaviors are vital for effectively communicating with customers and employees in today's social media landscape.

My complete book review is on my Kansas City Leadership Examiner.com page.

But, here are some of the more compelling statements Li makes in her book, that I believe is a must read for leaders in large and small businesses and organizations:

• "Open leadership is about how leaders must let go to gain more."

• "The more power you give away, the more power you ultimately have."

• "Being open requires more -- not less -- rigor and effort than being in control."

• "You need to seek out opportunities to be humbled each and every day -- to be touched as much by the peop…

Play Team Sports To Build Leadership Skills

Today's high school and college team sport athletes are learning leadership skills that will serve them well when they enter the workforce.  Here's some information about the research supporting the link between sports and leadership, along with some first-hand testimonials.

Use This eBook To Improve Your Communication

The former director of communications for McDonald's, David Grossman, now a leading consultant, speaker and author has released a free eBook about how to communicate effectively. 

Titled, The Leader Differential: Five Steps To Thrive (Not Just Survive), it's ideal for any leader or manager who wants to brush up on his/her communication skills.

I particularly like the parts about:
How much information is enough information to communicateHow to choose the best communication channelHow to manage your company's rumor millDavid recently told me that his eBook is for any leader.  He said, "I've seen the traps discussed and the strategies to overcome them work irrespective of the economy, industry, leader's tenure or personality/style."

David has worked with Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Virgin Atlantic, and is the president and founder of The Grossman Group in Chicago, IL.

Poor communication within a company leads to more workplace theft, more injuries, more tur…

Build A Strong Team. Be An Effective Team Member.

It's somewhat difficult to find a copy of Price Pritchett's 1992 handbook called, The Team Member Handbook For Teamwork, but if you do locate a copy, it provides you good, practical, useful information.

Even if you can't snag a copy, you can learn a lot just from seeing the handbook's Table Of Contents.  You'll learn as a manager how to build a strong team.  You'll learn as a team member how to be effective on a team.

Here's the Table Of Contents:
Push for high quality communicationBring talent to the teamPlay your positionTurn diversity to the team's advantageBack up others who need helpPracticeBe prepared to sacrifice for the teamHelp new teammates make entryPlay down yourself and build up othersSpend time with your teammatesHelp drive discipline into the groupMake sure you make a differenceGive attention to group processHelp create a climate of trustStrengthen the leader through good followershipBe a good sportThat's 16 great "how-to's&qu…