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Showing posts from March, 2011

What Southwest Airlines Teaches Leaders About Corporate Culture

If you've flown Southwest Airlines you know they're tops in airline customer service, driven by a leadership style that creates a company-wide culture where all employees own that culture.

According to SWA Chairman, President and CEO Gary Kelly, as reported in the company's in-flight magazine, "every company has a culture, whether that culture is supportive or stifling, active or passive, fun or discouraging."

"One way we do culture differently is by making Southwest's culture everyone's responsibility. In fact, we ask everyone to 'own it,'" says Kelly.

Here are some of the ways that SWA keeps its winning culture in the forefront that you can also do to keep employees motivated and to drive great customer service:

1.  Form a corporate culture committee and a local culture committee that organizes low-cost employee events throughout the year.
2. Include a section related to culture on each employee's annual performance appraisal. This …

What To Ask Yourself Before You Start A Business

Are you a leader contemplating starting a new business?  Or, has a budding entrepreneur turned to you because of your leadership skills to ask for your help? 

Here are 11 questions you or that entrepreneur should ask before starting a business.
Is there a true need for my product/service? What is the competitive environment and how will my product/service be unique, different or better?Will my location (or accessibility online) be convenient and easy to get to for my customers? Do I have adequate funding to support my business, particularly during the ramp-up period that could be a year or more?Do I have the stamina to start a new business and work hard even if it means months of extended work hours and perhaps even seven days a week?Will my family and social life withstand my commitment to my new business?Will the name of my business be easy to spell, suitable for print on online, and memorable?Am I a risk taker?Am I humble enough to ask for help, especially if I am not an expert in …

What Does It Take To Build Strong Business Relationships?

It takes:
TrustConfidenceRespectSupportAppreciation That is what it takes to make relationships what they need to be in order for everyone to benefit says Don Klein, CEO of the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors, as recently quoted in Associations Now magazine.

In your leadership role are you working with your employees to ensure they are instilling trust, confidence and respect, and providing the proper amount of support and appreciation?

Is there anything else that should be added to Don’s list?

What It Takes To Be An Effective Leader

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

But, for me, I contend the five most important traits are:
Good communicator. That means effectively communicating timely and consistent messages during good and bad times. And, knowing how and when to be a good listener. Communicating is critical. Employees must hear from their leaders. And, hearing from their leaders in person versus e-mail and written memos is even more effective.Being a servant leader. Put your employees and your company first. A top manager who makes decisions that are self-serving will lack followers and will bring the company down.Adaptable. Today, more than ever, a leader needs to adapt. That means adapting to competitive and industry situ…

7 Keys To An Effective Corporate Culture

Fortunately, most of my career I’ve worked in effective corporate cultures. If I put together the best of each, here is what made those environments effective:
•  Leaders led by example on a consistent basis and were willing to roll up their sleeves, particularly during tight deadlines or challenging times.

•  Employees clearly understood how what they did made a difference and how their contributions made the organization either more profitable or more effective.

•  The workforce included a blend of long-term employees with a rich company, product/service and customer history, employees who had been at the company for five to seven years, and then new hires with a fresh perspective and keen sense of new technologies and techniques. That blend worked best when the mix included virtually all A-players.

•  Top managers had a clear, realistic and strategic vision for how the company would grow and compete in the marketplace.

•  Employees were challenged and rewarded through growth opport…

David Grossman Offers New eBook For Communications Professionals

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Communications expert David Grossman of The Grossman Group has a new eBook that's free and available for download.

Based primarily on input from users of LinkedIn who answered a question posted by David, the eBook talks about the greatest mistakes that a leader can make that should be avoided.

Two of the most powerful parts of the eBook for me are these compelling statements:
Rest assured that employees are talking among themselves, shaping understanding, and drawing their own conclusions, especially with the prevalence of social media, which has made the exchange of everything from business news to gossip easier and more common than ever.  Effective communication means that you need to be a part of this conversation--and not in a way that dominates or tires to silence, but in one that lets you listen, engage, and connect proactively.The greatest mistake is not making mistakes.  If you don't make mistakes you're not pushing hard enough; moving fast enough; or learning.  Mak…

Are C-Suite Executives Confronting Employee Engagement?

Overland Park, KS employee engagement expert and author Leigh Branham is the founder of Keeping The People, Inc. and he recently identified disappointing findings in a report released by The Economist, titled "Re-engaging with engagement: Views from the boardroom on employee engagement."
Those disappointing findings called out by Branham were:
84% of survey respondents say that "disengaged employees" are one of the three biggest threats facing their business. Yet, only 12% report that their companies "regularly and often" confront staff with "continually low engagement." C-suite executives themselves admit that employee engagement is discussed "occasionally", "rarely," or "never" at board level in 43% of companies.More than one in five in the C-suite believe that employees are "much more engaged" than those in rival firms, compared with only 7% of respondents outside the C-suite.47% of C-suite executives be…

Why Giving Positive Feedback Is Bettering Than Giving 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 me…

Use A Board Of Advisers Instead Of Mentors

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Here is one of my Blog's most popular posts from last year...now with updated information.

David Burkus often provides valuable comments to my various Blog postings, and he's a person who effectively uses a board of advisers, 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 advisers," 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 repor…

Does T.E.A.M Say It All For How To Successfully Lead A Business?

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While I was at the gym today, I saw a poster for a team weight loss class/program. Its theme was:

T.E.A.M.

T = Training
E = Education
A = Accountability
M = Motivation

That got me thinking...if you lead a business and provide on-going training for your employees, provide opportunities for education and learning, hold employees accountable and provide plenty of motivation....is that basically all you need to be a successful leader?

How To Talk About Inconsistencies With An Employee

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If you’re having a difficult time clarifying inconsistencies you are hearing from an employee about a project’s/task’s progress, try asking these questions (or making these statements) the next time you meet with the employee:

•  Here’s what I see. Here’s what I hear you saying.
•  Here’s what we know so far.
•  So let’s see if I’m on track with you…
•  Let’s see where we are…
•  How about we step back from a moment and look at a few different ideas…
•  Did I hear you correctly when you said…?
•  Am I missing something here?

Always be sure you’re on the same page and have the same understanding of the progress being made with your employee’s projects.

Thanks to Jane Murphy for these tips from her book, What Could Happen If You Do Nothing.

10 Ways To Be A Healthier Leader

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

From Experience Life magazine, here are 10 tips for how to fit even just moments into your day (at work, on the road and at home) to help you become more healthful:
Make a plan to exercise.  Include exercise times, even if they are just in 10-minute increments, on your calendar.Find time to exercise and build on that time.  Start off by walking for five minutes at lunch and add to that every few days until you've worked up to 30 minutes every few lunch hours.Limit screen time.  Set a timer for how long you'll watch TV or surf the Net.  Then, use the time you aren't in front of a screen to exercise.When you are watching TV, do squats, pushups, lunges, yoga poses and crunches.Think positive.   Psychologists s…

5 Ways To Connect With Your Customers Online

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If you are struggling with how best to connect with your customers online whether it's via a company Blog or your website, consider these five approaches from the best-selling book, The Network Is Your Customer, by David L. Rogers:
Try Branding, Not Selling -- Offer a story, entertainment, or a compelling idea that you can link convincingly to your brand, rather than trying to sell products or services directly.Offer Utility -- Provide content and interaction that helps solve a problem or answers a critical information need for your audience.Show A Personal Face -- Engage customers by showing a personal side and an authentic voice in digital content rather than the objective and authoritative voice of an institution.Focus On The Particular -- Focus on niche audiences and their specific needs and interests, rather than trying to engage every possible customer with the same content.Make It A Game -- Use the interactive, goal-based play of online games to engage customers for fun, edu…

Use Job Descriptions

It's tempting to not write job descriptions, especially if you own a small business or lead a small team of employees.  But, don't fall into that trap.

Whether you have one or many employees, be sure each has a current and accurate job description.

A job description is a written document that should include the:
employee's dutiesresponsibilitiesoutcomes needed from that positionrequired qualificationsreporting relationshipAnd, if you have job descriptions but they are poorly written or out-of-date, that will lead to confusion and misunderstandings.

Once you have a job description for each employee, you'll be able to ensure the descriptions all fit together logically and leave no holes in the duties that need to be assigned throughout your team or business.
Check your job descriptions at least yearly to be sure they reflect the employee's proper title and current duties. Very often employees get new job titles or are assigned new tasks mid-year, and those don't get…