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Showing posts from July, 2011

Book Review: The Leadership Test

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One of my favorite books about leadership asks its readers five powerful questions, putting aspiring leaders to the ultimate test of what it takes to be a true leader. The best thing about this book is that if you pass the test you can skip reading many of the mountains of other leadership books on the market today.
The book is Timothy R. Clark's The Leadership Test and it forces you to do some valuable soul searching.
Don't be fooled by the book's conversational writing style and story-telling approach, or by its compact 100-page size that you'll read through in less than an hour. Because, the message is powerful and the test is revealing
That test, which comes at the end of the book, consists of five questions, each important -- and successfully passing each becomes a collective must to ensure leadership success. Once taken, the test is your personalized assessment that you can use to chart your course for becoming a better leader.  
Clark told me that overwhelming…

10 Tips For Engaging Your Employees

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Here are 10 tips for how to maximize employee involvement:
Have active ways to listen to your employees.Check often with employees to see if the information you are sharing with them is what they need and what they want.Share information about customer satisfaction with employees.Discuss financial performance with your employees and be sure everyone understands the importance of profitability and how they can contribute to profitability.Allow ad hoc teams among employees to form to address organizational problems and work with those teams to tackle the identified issues.Encourage employees to make suggestions for improvement whether those ideas are large or small.Take an idea from one employee and share it with other employees and teams and let everyone make a contribution to build upon that idea.Train!For long-term employees, find ways to keep their jobs interesting through new assignments and challenges.Conduct meetings around specific issues and brainstorm solutions. "Involvin…

Four Critical Questions To Ask During Exit Interviews

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

Fortunately, Richard Finnegan, shares in his book, Rethinking Retention in Good Times and 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 learn the most important leave reason rather than learn which three or five things contributed to your employee's decision to leave. The four questions above will help you learn the most important reason.

Leaders: What Will Matter

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I heard the What Will Matter poem yesterday by Michael Josephson and believe it should be read by every leader who wants to unselfishly serve and to lead with character.

I've highlighted in bold my favorite parts of the poem:

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.


There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will t…

70 Ways To Be A Better Leader

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This list of 70 ways to be a more effective leader is one I like to review every couple weeks:

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…

Will You Be The Next Blockbuster, Borders, CDs or Mail?

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Perhaps you saw the July 4th issue Fortune magazine article about how digital companies are so big and growing so fast, that they are obliterating old brick-and-mortar businesses.  Fortune reported that:
The U.S Postal Service is on track to lose $6 billion this year.  Cellphone text messages sent are up 1,200,243% from 2000.Netflix sales are up 43,101% from 1999 versus Blockbuster's drop of 29% in sales during the same period.Amazon has almost single-handedly bankrupted Borders.iTunes debuted in 2003 and Tower Records closed in 2004 and Musicland folded in 2006.  FYE is shriveling.And the Wall Street Journal recently reported that sales of greeting cards have fallen 9% since 2005 amid the rise of social media and email.

What is the digital company or the new technology that will force you to change your business model?  Or expand, or morph?  Or, worse...that will cause you to close your doors?

As the leader in your business, are you listening to your sales force who hears everyda…

The Case For Studying Leadership Theory

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Author David Burkus recommends reading his new book, The Portable Guide To Leading Organizations, when you decide to engage in a process of real leadership study. And, David believes that leaders should commit today to that study of leadership, and in particular the study of leadership theory.

His book covers the:
basic theories and models of leadership and changehistory of management and motivational researchvarious schools of thought surrounding how to implement strategy in organizations. 
"The book serves as a great introduction to the concepts you'll explore deeper during the study process.  Likewise, it can be a great refresher after completing such study," explained David during a recent interview.

David says that understanding various leadership theories and knowing when to use each is critical.  Theory is important, because theories "are constructed and tested by examining not just the successes but also the failures," explains Burkus.

David says that …