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Showing posts from August, 2011

Effective Listening Traits

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In a couple weeks, AMACOM, a division of the American Management Association, will release Michelle Tillis Lederman's new book, The 11 Laws of Likability.  I'm nearly finished reading the advance copy AMACOM sent me and will post a book review soon.

In the meantime, here are some great reminders from Lederman's book on listening -- what to do and what not to do to be a leader who's an effective listener:

Do:
Maintain eye contactLimit your talkingFocus on the speakerAsk questionsManage your emotionsListen with your eyes and earsListen for ideas and opportunitiesRemain open to the conversationConfirm understanding, paraphraseGive nonverbal messages that you are listening (nod, smile)Ignore distractionsDon't:
InterruptShow signs of impatienceJudge or argue mentallyMultitask during a conversationProject your ideasThink about what to say nextHave expectations or preconceived ideasBecome defensive or assume you are being attackedUse condescending, aggressive, or closed bod…

Foster Mutual Commitment

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I read the following in a group discussion forum on LinkedIn awhile back and want to share this good advice about leading from writer Joseph Marzano:

"Great leaders:
clearly and constantly remind people of their mutual common missionkeep people and resources pointed in the right direction on the right thingsare personally known for what they expect and will do. It's all about mutual commitment, given and returned."

Nicely said, Mr. Marzano!

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

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Insecure managers hog the credit for a job well done. Or, they hide the credit and don't give credit where credit is due. These managers are afraid to let their employees be in the limelight.

Secure and successful managers talk up their employees, highlighting the good performance they've done, and are eager to give credit where credit is due. They promote their staff to their supervisor and to others within their organization.

Successful managers know that they look good when their employees look good.

Giving credit where credit is due is a sign of a manager who is wise and confident. It's a sign of a manager who demonstrates good leadership skills. So, when your employees excel, allow them to take the spotlight.

How To Use E-mail Effectively In Your Company

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Here are some wise guidelines that Verizon Wireless has used to promote effective, efficient and responsible e-mail use within its company. You can find these guidelines in the new book, Managers, Can You Hear Me Now?, written by Denny F. Strigl, former CEO and President of Verizon Wireless.
E-mail should bring closure to work, not create more work.Before you write an e-mail, ask yourself if calling or visiting the recipient will bring better communication.Keep e-mails short. Make your point in just the subject line or the space in the preview pane.Don't assume other people are staring at their screens, waiting for your e-mail.If just one person needs information or clarification, don't send your e-mail to a group.Never send e-mail when you're angry.Assume anything you put in writing will be leaked to the press or to your competitors.Stay accountable. Sending an e-mail doesn't transfer responsibility.E-mail is never an acceptable excuse for not getting something don…

Good Coach Versus Bad Coach: What To Do. What Not To Do.

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Former Verizon Wireless CEO, Denny F. Strigl offers these tips for how to be a good coach to an employee. He explains that good coaches help performers by:
Keeping them focused.Giving them objective, helpful feedback.Acting as a sounding board for new approaches.Identifying blind spots that may be holding the performer back.Reinforcing key values, principles, and behaviors that improve performance.Recognizing positive behavior and performance.Providing encouragement after setbacks and failuresSetting "stretch" goals.Acting as an accountability partner. Strigl believes that some managers fail in their coaching roles because they:
View coaching as babysitting.See coaching as only correcting performance.Don't spend enough time with their employees.Are reluctant to criticize.Have social relationships with their employees.Have a "sink-or-swim" philosophy.Believe coaching is not helpful or meaningful. "Coaching may actually save time by preventing extensive retr…

Don't Delay The Tough Conversation

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If you have an employee who needs to improve his/her performance don't delay the tough conversation with them.

If you don't address the issue right now, the employee has little chance to improve and you'll only get more frustrated.

Most employees want to do a good job. Sometimes they just don't know they aren't performing up to the required standards.

Waiting until the employee's annual performance appraisal to have the tough conversation is unhealthy for you and the employee. So, address the issue now.

Sit down with your employee in a private setting. Look them in the eye. First, tell them what they do well. Thank them for that good work. Then, tell them where they need to improve. Be clear. Be precise. Ask them if they understand, and ask them if they need any help from you on how to do a better job. Explain to them that your taking the time to have the tough conversation means you care about them. You want them to do better. You believe they can do better. Ex…

Management According To Thomas Teal

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Some words of wisdom from author Thomas Teal: Integrity in management means:being responsiblecommunicating clearlykeeping promisesbeing an honest brokeravoiding hidden agendasknowing oneselfGreat managers serve two masters; one organizational, one moral.Managing is not a series of mechanical tasks but a set of human interactions.One reason for the scarcity of managerial greatness is that in educating and training managers, we focus too much on technical proficiency and too little on character.You can find more advice and expertise from Teal in his book, First Person: Tales of Management Courage and Tenacity (Harvard Business School Press, 1996)

Words Of Leadership And Management Wisdom From John P. Kotter

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Here are some words of wisdom from a 1990 Harvard Business Review article by John P. Kotter:
Leadership complements management; it doesn't replace it.Management controls people by pushing them in the right direction; leadership motivates them by satisfying basic human needs.Strong leadership with weak management is no better, and sometimes actually worse, than the reverse.  The real challenge is to combine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance the other.

Today's Leadership Quotes

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The enduring truth remains that a leader's integrity is the true measure of greatness.Putting stewardship above self-interest is an act of leadership.Leadership is based on influence-through-persuasion at the front end, combined with accountability at the back end.Leadership is the process of influencing volunteers to accomplish good things.Note:  Thanks for these valuable insights, Timothy R. Clark, Ph.D., author of The Leadership Test.

Book Review: The Elephant In The Room

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Diana McLain Smith's new book, The Elephant in the Room, explains how relationships make or break the success of leaders and organizations.

It's not a light right.  For those who really want to understand relationships, however, this book, based on Smith's clinical research and a wealth of in-depth observational studies, is both insightful and worth the effort.

Smith explains that when people click or clash, we typically chalk it up to chemistry and leave it at that.  But, she knows there are many dynamics within that relationship that need understanding by a leader to create success.

In fact, she says it's possible to identify and analyze the seemingly mysterious ingredients that go into the makings of a relationship.  And, given the right tools, it's possible to understand what happens when a relationship forms, and then to actually anticipate what might happen next.  That anticipation is critical, claims Smith.

Smith also shows readers how all relationships evo…

Are You A Leader Who Can Say You're Sorry?

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One of the most difficult words for anyone, leaders included, to say is, "sorry."

Yet, the time will likely come when that's the word you need to say.  Research shows that apologizing in a heartfelt way can help you reduce stress and alleviate guilt.

In the position of needing to apologize?  Do this:
Apologize immediately.  Say you are sorry.Take responsibility for the situation.Acknowledge the offense.Ask forgiveness with a promise that it won't happen again.Offer restitution whenever possible. And, should your apology go unaccepted, most experts say forgive yourself and move on.

Note:  Thanks to St. Joseph Medical Center in Kansas City, MO for this sound advice.

Thanks For Two Years: From Eric Jacobson

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Two years ago tomorrow, I started this blog to share tips and ideas for how to be a more effective leader and manager.

Thank you for your loyal readership, your suggestions for topics to cover, and for tweeting the posts you find more useful.

Eric Jacobson
www.ericjacobsonblog.com
Overland Park, KS (Kansas City, MO)

Do You Practice TRX's 'P' In Its FACEUP Values At Your Company?

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At TRX in San Francisco, about 10 percent of employees' performance evaluations cover how they live the company's values, expressed by the acronym FACEUP.

The P is for physical and TRX takes that seriously.  As recently reported in Inc. magazine, at the start of each year, supervisors ask their reports to set personal athletic objectives.

The goals can be dunk a basketball or do 10 perfect pushups or run a 5K.  Goals are not formally tracked, but come evaluation time, employees report back in on whether they accomplished their goals.

TRX said most employees have no problem embodying the P in FACEUP.  The company's other values are:
F = FunA = AuthenticC = CompetitiveE = EffectiveU = UnitedTRX claims that employees who have fallen off the exercise bandwagon really appreciate the physical goal setting process, and whatever peer pressure may develop ends up being inspiring to employees.

Bottom line:  fit, healthy employees save a company money.

Listen Well And Do Exit Interviews

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Knowing why an employee leaves your company can help you to reduce your employee turnover rate.

That's because you can use the reasons a departing employee provides to gather information about processes, people and departments that might need some redirection to correct situations that may have contributed to the employee's reasons for leaving.
So, do an exit interview whenever possible with each departing employee. Ask each person:
Why they are leavingWhat they liked about their jobWhat they would have changed about their jobHow they felt about the cooperation level among co-workersHow they felt about communication and interaction with co-workersWhether they received the necessary training to do their jobWhether they received frequent coaching and balanced feedback from their supervisorWould they recommend a friend apply for work at your companyHow they felt about their payHow they would describe the morale in the company and in their departmentWhat they would change about t…

Do You Practice Open Leadership?

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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!

What Disgruntled Exiting Employees Mean To Your Business

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New research by Corporate Executive Board Co. reveals that more than three-quarters of departing employees say they wouldn't recommend their employer to others.

That percentage, based on exit surveys of more than 4,300 employees from 80 companies, is up from the 42% of employees who in 2008 said they wouldn't recommend their employer.

Most of the 80 companies had more than $2 billion in annual revenues, so perhaps the 2011 percentage would be lower had smaller companies been surveyed. But, the message is wake-up call, and the situation is one that could affect companies' recruiting efforts, since prospective employees often trust former employees the most when choosing where to work.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, some companies are proactively engaging their alumni by sending them employee publications and inviting them to contribute to their company blogs and social media sites. That may help to maintain a positive relationship after the employee leaves.

Howeve…

New Book Shows Executive Coaches How To Work With Leaders

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Five New York City-based executive coaches and trainers have banded together to write the new book, Becoming An Exceptional Executive Coach

Although the book is intended to give all coaches at whatever level fresh ideas about how to improve their skills, it also provides business leaders interesting in hiring a coach an inside look at what to expect from an executive coach.

Some of the most interesting sections of the book are:
Understanding adult change and growth through theories that apply to coachingTypical phases of executive coachingSpecific topics that are usually addressed in a standard coaching contractBuilding trust, honesty, caring and credibility with the person you are coachingGuidelines for the first coaching sessionSuggestions for structuring ongoing coaching sessionsQuestions to address when creating a development plan for your clientBringing closure to the coaching process
The authors are:
Michael H. FrischRobert J. LeeKaren L. MetzgerJeremy RobinsonJudy RosemarinThe…

Today's Quotes For Leaders

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I really like these motivating and inspiring quotes from the September 2011 issue of Men's Health magazine:

The best way to predict the future is to invent it -- Alan Kay

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty -- Winston Churchill

I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody -- Bill Cosby

The greatest accomplishment is not in never failing, but in rising again after you fall -- Vince Lombardi

The Difference Between Positive Feedback Versus Praise

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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 Avoid These 8 Employee Evaluation Pitfalls

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You'll learn how to avoid eight performance evaluation pitfalls in what I think is the best chapter of the book "The Essential HR Handbook," written by Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell.
If you are a leader and it's time to conduct an employee evaluation, Armstrong and Mitchell caution you to watch for these pitfalls when making your evaluation: Clustering everyone in the middle performance-rating categoriesOverlooking flaws or exaggerating the achievements of favored employeesExcusing substandard performance or behavior because it is widespreadLetting one characteristic - positive or negative - affect your overall assessmentRating someone based on the company he or she keepsRating someone based on a grudge you are holdingRating someone based on a short time period instead of the entire evaluation periodRating everyone high, to make you look goodThere's other great information in this 250-page book that is valuable for any manager, and especially good for mana…

Today's Leadership Quote

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"Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in a world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it." -- David Beckham

Use this quote to inspire you to lead change in your organization!

What Leaders Can Learn From "The Power Of Your Past"

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The Kansas City chapter of the American Society of Training and Development recently voted John P. Schuster as trainer of the year.  He's the author of the book: The Power of Your PastSchuster contends that a leader's past is the biggest, most accessible and most under-utilized resource for making positive change.

In The Power of Your Past, Schuster provides: Stories of those who have experienced transformative results through embracing their own professional and personal pasts.He is also the author of four other books that concentrate on creating better leaders, better people, and better organizations. Schuster has been quoted by media sources from Shape Magazine to Investors’ Business Daily and the Washington Post. He earned his CSP, Certified Speaking Professional, the highest designation awarded by the National Speakers Association in 1988.