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Showing posts from 2012

What Will Be Your Legacy?

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I recommend that all leaders every so often read the What Will Matter poem by Michael Josephson.

It serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of unselfishly serving and leading with character.

I've highlighted in bold and in color 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 …

How To Approach Problem Solving

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Today, I feature a guest post by Garret Kramer:
The Problem-solving Fast Track
By Garret Kramer
Author of Stillpower: Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life
In virtually every business, organization, or family in the world today, people are doing their best to solve problems. And that's admirable. Yet, in my opinion, they are working way harder than they should. Even me, at times.
Yesterday, I absentmindedly scheduled two meetings for the same hour and didn't know what to do about it. I racked my brain searching for the solution, and, before I knew it, my head was spinning. So I resigned myself to the fact that at least one client was going to be upset, possibly two. Funny thing, though, the minute I did that my thinking slowed and the answer to my supposed dilemma appeared. Since both clients were members of the same organization, I offered a joint training where insights could be shared freely. It worked, and both clients thanked me for what they learned that day.
Here' t…

Alyssa Freas: 8 Insights On Leadership And Executive Coaching

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Alyssa Freas is a pioneer in the field of executive coaching. She is Founder and CEO of Executive Coaching Network® (EXCN), a global company whose mission is to help organizations achieve results by improving the effectiveness of their executives and their teams.
Recently, she answered for me the eight questions I hear the most about leadership, leaders and executive coaching.QuestionWhat is the most common leadership challenge you see that executives face?

Alyssa:  Executives are challenged by prioritization; that is, getting their work done and having enough time for reflection and rejuvenation. The vast majority of executives today have too many plates spinning and they feel imbalanced. The successful leader of the future will be one who understands how to prioritize in a framework of their company’s vision, values, and strategic objectives and financial results.
Executives will always be challenged by the need to focus on building the business while growing the business as well …

Debbie Laskey On Mentoring

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When I think about excellent mentors in the business world, I think of Debbie Laskey, who has mentored many people during her career.  Debbie is passionate about mentoring.  So, she's an ideal person to answer the following five questions about mentoring:

1.  Why do you enjoy being a mentor?

Since I have been in the workplace for nearly two decades, I have had the opportunity to learn from a number of individuals. Some were supervisors, some were executives, some were co-workers, and some were employees who reported to me. However, the mentorship relationship is different than those relationships. As a mentor, I have been able to share what I’ve learned with individuals (mentees) who are at the beginning stages of building a business. They have an insatiable appetite for suggestions and always appreciate ideas – even if they don’t apply them immediately. Mentees have no agenda and no time for unnecessary drama. While they may question suggestions, most of the time, they have an open…

Year-end Advice For Leaders

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Two years ago, Lynn Flinn of EWF International in Tulsa, OK wrote the following in her business' newsletter. It's so powerful I wanted to bring it back again this year as 2012 comes to a close.

So, here goes...Lynn's year-end advice for leaders:

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 feel…

How To Build An Effective Corporate Culture

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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 oppor…

3 Ways For HR To Play A Larger Role In New Technologies

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Guest Post By: Kyle Lagunas Old Habits Die Hard
It’s no secret that social and mobile technologies make HR leaders nervous. Many have earned a reputation for policing interoffice communications, but this old habit is counterproductive.
But while research shows these next generation tools have the potential to improve communication and collaboration across the enterprise, business leaders are left with one question: “Who takes ownership of these tools?”
Call me crazy, but... Why not HR? By teaming with IT, and driving the adoption of these next generation tools, HR could upgrade its role in Enterprise 2.0. There’s just one problem: HR must first shed its old-school role of communications cop.
“We hurt our corporate reputations when we attract candidates through contemporary use of social media, and then revert back to our old ways and block employees from using social tools to do their jobs,” says Cindy Lubitz, Founder of inTalent Consulting. As she sees it, this double standard that is beco…

70 Ways To Be A Better Leader

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The 70 tips below make for a good list for learning how to become a better leader when you don't have a lot of time to read books about leadership.

And, if you've been a leader for a long time, how about taking a few minutes to run through the list and scoring yourself on how well you carry out each leadership skill?

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 opportun…

What Are You Thankful For?

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Each year, around Thanksgiving time, I think about what I am thankful for.  This year, I decided to take the time to make a list.  A list of 10 things I am thankful for

What's on your list thisyear?  What's on your list this year that wasn't on last year's list?

Here is my list:
Family and friendsEmploymentCo-workers who are hard-working and collaborativeTechnology, Blogs, Twitter and all social media sharing tools that help me to be a constant learnerHealth and all those who help me stay healthy and encourage me to reach my goalsSetting goals and working hard to exceed themGood booksNonprofit organizations that provide vital services and ways for me to volunteer and donateMusicReaders, followers and guests of my blog and Twitter @ericjacobsonkc Wow, I have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Leadership Lessons From Lincoln

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Did Abraham Lincoln really say, "Get out of the office and circulate among the troops," back in 1861?

He did. But, not in those exact words. What he said, according to author Donald T. Phillips, is this:

"His cardinal mistake is that he isolates himself, and allows nobody to see him; and by which he does not know what is going on in the very matter he is dealing with." Lincoln made this statement when describing his reason for relieving Gen. John C. Fremont from his command in Missouri (September 9, 1861).

Phillips writes that for Lincoln, casual contact with his subordinates was as important as formal gatherings, if not more so.

Phillips, includes many more leadership lessons from Lincoln in his fascinating book, Lincoln on Leadership, where Phillips presents 15 of Lincoln's leadership statements in today's vernacular.

Another leadership lesson from Lincoln is to:
Influence people through conversation and storytelling Phillips explains that Lincoln had a …

5 Open-ended Questions To Ask Your Customers

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As you gear up for the busy holiday shopping season, consider this advice from author Paul R. Timm.  He recommends a different twist on asking your customers questions:
stop asking your customers the "typical" questions and instead ask them open-ended questions. Here's specifically 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.

Change-friendly Leadership Is Packed With Timely, Straight-forward, Relevant Wisdom

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Because Dr. Rodger Dean Duncan delivers so much timely, straight-forward and relevant wisdom in his new book, Change-friendly Leadership, reading it is like talking with your trusted best friend. Or, listening to your favorite teacher.  Or, soaking in the thoughts from your respected mentor. 

That's why you'll want to spend plenty of time reading the book.  Reflecting on the messages.  Absorbing the discussion,  And, then likely re-reading it.  Or, at least certain sections.


Duncan demonstrates in the book how humanness, approachability, and friendliness are necessary but often overlooked elements of making change successful in an organization. 

He teaches leaders the foundation for effectively engaging people's heads, hearts and hopes -- all necessary to enable effective and lasting (sustainable) change in today's constantly changing world.  Duncan refers to this as leading the whole person.

According to Duncan:
Change must accommodate people's feelings--feeling…

Roles & Policies For Your Social Media Team

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Increasingly, more companies are forming teams of employees to oversee their social media responsibilities.

In his book, Social Marketology, Rick Dragon, shows business leaders how to choose the best tools for your needs and how to develop a strategy tailored to your goals.

He also suggests various roles that you may want to learn more about and then ultimately fill as you create your social media team:
Director of social media (DSM)Community managerBlog editorBlogger(s)Channel specialistChannel monitorSearch engine optimization specialistPhotographer/videographerWeb producerWeb analytics specialist And, as you grow your social media outreach, consider establishing one policy that covers the following areas, or create stand-alone policies for these areas:
Overall philosophyEmployee access and acceptable behavior Account management Employee conduct Content SecurityLegalBrand

Most Common Characteristics Of Being A "Best Boss"

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In their new book, Rapid Realignment, authors George Labovitz and Victor Rosansky, reveal the most common responses from thousands of managers and workers when they were asked to think of the best boss they ever had, and then answer the question:
"What did that person do to qualify as your best boss?" And, those most common responses were:
My best boss listened!My best boss backed me up.My best boss trusted me and respected me.My best boss gave me feedback.My best boss left me alone. What else would you add to this list?

Author Paul Smith On "Why Tell Stories?"

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From Paul Smith's new book, Lead With A Story, here are the 10 reasons for embracing storytelling as a business tool:
Storytelling is simpleStorytelling is timelessStories are demographic-proofStories are contagiousStories are easier to rememberStories inspireStories appeal to all types of learnersStories fit better where most of the learning happens in the workplaceStories put the listener in a mental learning modeTelling stories shows respect for the audience Smith goes on to say that:
you don't need a degree in English to tell a storystories can spread like wildfirelessons from a story are remembered more accurately, and for far longer, than learning derived from factsstories spark curiosity and interest rather than the urge to evaluate or criticizestories get your message across, without arrogantly telling listeners what to think or do Smith is Director of Consumer and Communications Research at The Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, Ohio.




42 Rules For Getting Better At Getting Better

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42 Rules For Getting Better At Getting Better is the sub-title of the new book, Practice Perfect.


This is an interesting book because it is co-authored by three teachers and clearly it's a book for and about teachers.

But, as the authors remind us, as leaders, we are also teachers.  And, that's why Practice Perfect is a valuable read for everyone who wants to help their employees grow and excel through practice.

And, although there's a handy three-page summary of the 42 rules toward the end of the book, take the time to read about each rule covered in the chapters:
Rethinking PracticeHow To PracticeUsing ModelingFeedbackCulture of PracticePost-Practice: Making New Skills Stick Key lessons and takeaways for me from the book include the following tips for providing effective feedback when working with someone who is practicing a skill:
Correct instead of critique.Ask participants to redo an action differently or better rather than just telling them whether or how it could have…

Eye-opening Infographics About Content Consumption

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If you lead a business, nonprofit, or any entity that interacts with customers and consumers and this infographic surprises you:


...then you'll want to read Anna Ritchie's recent blog post, full of eye-opening infographics about how people are constantly distracted by TV, social media, online content, and more, often all at once.  And, how 90% of all media interactions are now screen-based.

Ritchie recaps the findings a new research report that are must-reads for leaders and for all content marketers who are continuously looking for new ways to “break through the clutter” and grab the attention of their target customers, members and constituents.

Can You Step Back To Lead Forward?

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Can you step back to lead forward?

That is the key question for you to answer as you start to read Kevin Cashman's new book, The Pause Principle.

Because, Cashman firmly believes that as a leader, you need to pause to lead forward.

"What sleep is to the mind and body, pause is to leadership and innovation," explains Cashman.

He goes on to say:
Pause transforms management into leadership and the status quo into new realities.Pause, the natural capability to step back  in order to move forward with greater clarity, momentum, and impact, holds the creative power to reframe and refresh how we see ourselves and our relationships, our challenges, our capacities, our organizations and missions within a larger context.
In his book, Cashman teaches you the value of using pause points to:
Build self-awareness and clarity of purposeExplore new ideasRisk experimentationQuestion, listen, reflect and synthesizeChallenge the status quo, within and around you He further teaches you how to

How To Discuss Poor Performance With An Employee

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As a leader, the time will come when you will have to speak with an employee about his or her poor performance. Here are six steps that will guide you through that process:
Tell him what performance is in need of change and be specific.Tell him how his actions negatively affect the team.Let the discussion sink in.Set expectations of performance improvement and timeframe, and get his agreement on the desired outcome.Remind him that he is a valuable part of the team and that you have confidence his performance will improve.Don't rehash the discussion later. You made your point. Give him to make his improvement.

Four Favorite Leadership Quotes From Cashman's The Pause Principle

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Today, I share some of my favorite  quotes from Kevin Cashman's new book, The Pause Principle.

"What sleep is to the mind and body, pause is to leadership and innovation.""Managers assert drive and control to get things done; leaders pause to discover new ways of being and achieving.""Managers require competency to drive results; leaders embody character to build a compelling, sustainable future.""Managers accelerate to keep pace with the competition; whereas leaders paradoxically step back to go beyond the competition."

Social Media For School Leaders

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Social Media For School Leaders is the title of Dr. Brian J. Dixon's new book being published this month by Jossey-Bass, an imprint of Wiley.


"Just like websites, which eventually became 'must have,' every school district will ultimately need to embrace social media," says Dixon.

In 264 pages, Dixon, with ten years of classroom experience in public, private and charter schools, shares his deep knowledge of social media to provide detailed descriptions of the best online tools available for school leaders. 
And most important, he delivers step-by-step instructions for using the channels to move a school community from awareness to advocacy and from feedback to collaboration. Long gone are the days of open houses and photocopied newsletters.  A school's community expects frequent updates and vehicles to provide feedback.

Because the book assumes the readers knows virtually nothing about the 14 online tools Dixon writes about, it is ideal for technophobes as wel…