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Showing posts from 2013

The People Who Taught Me The Most During 2013

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Thanks to these incredibly talented individuals who published excellent content that taught me so much during 2013:

Tanveer Naseer - Leadership Coach, Speaker & Writer.  Tanveer writes timely, thought-provoking blog posts about leadership at least weekly.  Each post is well worth the read.  I Tweet nearly every one of his posts.  There are that good.Debbie Laskey - A friend and a person with a keen sense of how to market successfully, Debbie posts about marketing, management and leadership.David Grossman - David heads up The Grossman Group and is the best when it comes to helping leaders to communicate more effectively.  I've been following David for years and am eager to see what he shares in 2014 via his blog. And, thanks to Leadership Digital, which aggregates some of the best content about leadership and management on the Internet.  I couldn't do without this site's daily afternoon eNewsletter.

Thanks from:
Eric Jacobson


Quotes To Help Me Start 2014

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"The first step is you have to say that you can." - Will Smith

"Some people want it to happen.  Some wish it would happen.  Others make it happen." - Michael Jordan

"There are only two options regarding commitment; you're either in or you're out.  There's no such thing as life in-between." - Pat Riley

"In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity." - Albert Einstein

"Mental toughness is essential to success." - Vince Lombardi

My Favorite Nelson Mandela Quotes

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Here are my favorite Nelson Mandela leadership quotes:
"Lead from the back--and let others believe they are in front.""The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.""It always seems impossible until it's done.""I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.""I've learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.""Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."

How To Achieve True Alignment

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What separates market leaders from the pack? The answer isalignment, explainsEdgar Papke, author of the new book,True AlignmentLinking Company Culture with Customer Needs for Extraordinary Results. "Alignment is the single most critical business challenge for any organization and its leaders. Without it, inefficiency, conflict, and disengagement will cripple your ability to provide value to your customers," says Papke. He further explains that companies live or die based on their ability to communicate and deliver on the promise their brand makes to its customers. To do this effectively, leaders need to clearly define the vision and strategies that support that brand intention and ensure these are manifested in the roles, expectations, and goals of each and every member of the organization. True Alignmentreveals how to: Decipher customer expectationsDefine the brand as a solution to the customer’s needsTurn the unique selling proposition into the missionCreate a company cul…

Today's Leadership Quote

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"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
President Theodore Roosevelt

70 New Year's Resolutions For Leaders

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With only a couple weeks left of 2013, it's time to select your New Year's Resolutions for 2014.

To get you started, how about selecting one or more of these 70 New Year's resolutions for leaders?
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 reviewsBe courageous, quick and fairTalk more 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…

Creating Your Business' Crisis Management Plan

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When it comes to a crisis management plan, 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 plan, 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 developing your plan is to gather your team and identify your likely crisis situations. As you establish your action plan, be sure to think about:

•  Who will be on your crisis management team?
•  Who will do what?
•  When will they do it?
•  Do …

The Three Ways To Be A "Level 5" Leader

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Author and leadership expert Jim Collins defines Level 5 leaders as those who:
Pursue goals with the ferocity of lions while displaying the humility of lambs. According to Collins, who has studied leadership for 25 years, this level of leader is a rare breed. This is a leader who: 
bestows credit generously shoulders blame responsibility puts organization before self

A Leader's Guide To Crisis Management

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"From Tylenol's textbook handling of product tampering to Toyota's troublesome automobile recalls, how a company recovers from crisis can mean continued business success or bankruptcy," explains author Jim Moorhead.

In his book, The Instant Survivor -- Right Ways to Respond When Things Go Wrong, Moorhead presents a four-step, crisis survival kit to show leaders how to weather professional, and personal, crises.

He explains that a company's ideal crisis management team does the following when a crisis occurs:
Review their crisis management plan and talk through the company's business, communications, and legal goals.Identify the risks and opportunities the crisis presents and analyze the options to consider, the people and resources to deploy, and the allies and experts to call upon.Debate, argue, and finally agree on a strategy to implement.Stay in constant contact to gauge how they're doing and make adjustments as the crisis unfolds.Look for how to be str…

Author Neil Smith On Urgency, Change And Facts

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Here are three helpful leadership tips from author Neil Smith -- from his book, co-authored with Patricia O'Connell, How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things:
People say they cannot find the time to do things, yet they always find the time to fix things when they break.  Companies need to create that sense of urgency before a problem occurs.People will embrace change if they see the logic behind it.  If they feel they have control over its onset and evolution.  If they see it as nonthreatening and self-esteem enhancing.  And, if the change has the possibility of future benefits to them.Make sure that people are basing their decisions on facts -- fact-based information should be a company mantra.  Do not accept "I guess" or "I think so."

What You Must Ask Before You Start Your Business

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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…

The Differences Between A Coach And A Mentor

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Author Kristi Hedges, in her book, The Power of Presence, provides these explanations of the roles of a coach and of a mentor and how they differ from each other:



The Coach shows empathy through a mixture of tough love and strong support.  The coach is not afraid to push you because she sees the best in you.  This leader has a good sense of what's going on in the rest of your life and isn't afraid to mention it as it relates to your performance and potential.



The Mentor makes you feel that your success is always top of mind.  Mentors have your back to guide you along in your career.  They will act as a confidante as you hash through ideas and won't hold it against you as your iterate.  Because they have done well, they operate from a point of helping others do the same.

Q&A With Author Jesse Sostrin

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Q&A with Jesse Sostrin author of Beyond the Job Description
Question:What does the title of your book mean and what’s the truth about what employers really expect that is never written in job descriptions?
Sostrin:Beyond the Job Description represents two fundamental truths about the world of work. First, whether we realize it or not, our standard job descriptions only tell part of the story about the demands we face at work. In addition to the tasks and activities we have to perform, there are countless other challenges to getting great work done. 
The second meaning has to do with the need for all of us to stand out in a crowded job market and do what is necessary to stay relevant in careers that keep getting longer. To do that you have to go "beyond the job description" and identify unique ways to contribute increasing value to your team and organization.
Question:How can employees discover the true demands or “double reality” of their job?
Sostrin:Far too many people disco…

Vision + Mission + Values = Purpose

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“Purpose is the why behind everything within an organization,” says author John Baldoni, of the book, Lead With Purpose.

Baldoni also believes that it is up to leaders to make certain that organizational purpose is understood and acted upon. And, to harness the talents of their employees, leaders must recognize their responsibility to instill purpose in the workplace.

Other recommendations include:
Make purpose a central focusInstill purpose in othersMake employees comfortable with ambiguityTurn good intentions into great resultsMake it safe to fail (as well as prevail)Develop the next generation According to Baldoni, purpose forms the backbone of what an organization exists to do; upon which you can build vision and mission.

To define an organization’s purpose, you must ask three questions:

1. What is our vision — that is, what do we want to become? 2. What is our mission — that is, what do we do now? 3. What are our values–that is, what are the behaviors we expect of ourselves?

4 Ways To Create Customer Satisfaction

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Great customer service tips from author Micah Solomon's book, High-tech, High-touch Customer Service:

You provide value when you deliver the four components that reliably create customer satisfaction:
A perfect product or serviceDelivered in a caring, friendly mannerOn time (as defined by the customer)With the backing of an effective problem-resolution process
Micah has been named by the Financial Post as “a new guru of customer service excellence.” He is a keynote speaker and consultant on customer service issues, the customer experience, and company culture.  He previously coauthored the bestselling Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit.

How To Put People First At Your Company

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According to a survey as reported in John Baldoni’s book, Lead with Purpose, more than 80 percent of those surveyed say that leaders can best demonstrate that they truly do put people first by:
Delivering intrinsic awards (comp time, bonuses, etc.) Offering developmental opportunities Providing timely recognition Promoting from within

Top Leadership Books Of 2013

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Here, in no particular order, are my top (favorite) books for leaders that were published in 2013.

Each provides timely, practical and valuable tips, techniques and tools for how to become a more effective leader.

You'll find among the books useful information about:
communicating more effectively the power of story tellingcreating an ethical workplace cultureincreasing revenuethe basics you need to know as a first-time leader
Ethical Leadership

Unlimited Sales Success

Manager 3.0

AMA Business Boot Camp

The way of the SEAL

Becoming a Better Boss

Leadership Conversations

And, my favorite from last year (2012) in case you haven't read this book:

Lead with a Story

What is your favorite book for leaders from this year?  

Change-friendly Leadership

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Because Dr. Rodger Dean Duncan delivers so much timely, straight-forward and relevant wisdom in his 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--feelings th…

Behavior-based Interview Questions Are Becoming The Trend

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Many Human Resource (HR) managers have moved away from questions like "What's your weakness?" and prefer behavior-based questions, which ask you to:
describe how you handled specific situations at your former jobs If you are about to interview for your next leadership position, be prepared for questions like these (from an article in Reader's Digest):
Tell me about a time when your integrity was challenged. What was the situation, and what did you do?Tell me about a time you had to work with someone you did not personally like.If you could come to work with only three tools to get your job done, what would they be?What personal and professional development have you been engaged in outside the workplace over the past year?Describe your Outlook calendar on a typical day

Your Six Essential Project Review Questions

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Here is some great advice from the authors of, Helping People Win At Work.  Those authors, Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge, recommend you ask the following six essential questions whenever you do a project review:
What did we set out to do?What actually happened?Why did this happen?What will we do next time?What should we continue to do?What should we do differently? Seems simple enough, but how often do we really take the time to step back and ask ALL six of these questions? 
And, these questions are important to ask even if there was no mistakes made during the project. Continually planning and executing without the value of a review can blindside you.

Get more great advice from their book.

How To Apologize

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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.

Three Common Mistakes Leaders Should Avoid

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In Leading Change, Step-By-Step, author Jody Spiro describes three common mistakes leaders should avoid.

Those are:
Thinking That a Mission is Developed by a Single Leader -- Spiro explains that in order to have buy-in from across the organization, the creation of a mission requires negotiation and genuine input from across the organization.  And that means a leader needs to be a good, active listener.Addressing Too Much in a Single Strategy; Inability to Say "No" -- According to Spiro, leaders should avoid the temptation to "pack" a given strategy with several other strategies.  Instead, you should be selective and narrow the strategy to a single thought that furthers your mission and is a niche where you can have a competitive advantage or offer a unique program or service.Confusing Strategies with Actions -- Both strategies and actions specify something that will be done. But, as Spiro explains, actions are more specific and concrete.  The strategy should cause …

How To Listen And Learn As A Leader

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In John Baldoni'snew book,The Leader's Guide to Speaking with Presence, he provides these tips for listening as a leader and learning as a leader: WhenListeningAs ALeader: Look at people when they are speaking to you. Make eye contact.Ask open-ended questions, such as "Tell me about..." or "Could you explain this?"Consider the "what if" question:  "What if we looked at the situation like this?"Leverage the "why" question:  "Why do we do it this way?"Employ the "how" question:  "How can you do this?"WhenLearningAs A Leader: Reflect on what people have told you.Think about what you have not observed.  Are people holding back?  If so, why?Consider how you can implement what you have observed.Get back to people who have suggested ideas to you and thank them.Look for opportunities to collaborate with others. For nearly 20 years, Baldoni has coached and consulted for a number of leading companies in a vari…

Breaking Out Of Your Comfort Zone

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Inspirational leadership wisdom came awhile back from Bahram Akradi, the CEO of Life Time Fitness.

From that health club's monthly fitness magazine, Experience Life, Akradi says:
Once we get comfortable in our habitual patterns, we may fail to notice when they have outworn their useful purpose, or when new alternatives might serve us better. Once you've encountered a second way of seeing things, you're more likely to entertain the possibility of a third and fourth way, too.Do something that makes you just a little bit uncomfortable--and that renders you a little more awake. Thanks Akradi for encouraging us to break out from predictability.

9 Ways To Deliver Excellent Customer Service This Holiday Season

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Leading a customer service team? Have the team members use these 9 tips for delivering excellent customer service this holiday shopping season:
Rely on winning words and soothing phrases. A simple but sincere “Thanks for your patience” or “I’m listening” can go a long way toward defusing a holiday shopper’s frustration, anxiety, or panic. Develop a repertoire of short, easy to remember phrases around issues that are important to customers. Practice until the words come naturally.Communicate with silence. Remaining silent while your customers are talking is a basic courtesy, and nodding tells them you’re listening and understanding what you hear. An occasional “uh huh” or “I see” tells them you’re still listening without interrupting.Make customers feel seen. Making eye contact acknowledges that you see your customers as individuals. But there’s a balance to be struck here: staring can make your customers uncomfortable, too. Also keep in mind that eye contact is governed by specific cu…

The Benefits Of Having An Ethical Culture

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In Andrew Leigh's new book, Ethical Leadership, he provides these compelling and important benefits of having an ethical culture in your business/organization:
Customers prefer dealing with companies who put ethics at the center of their culture.Most employees would prefer to earn less working for an ethical company than being paid more and working for an unethical company.More than one in three people at work say they've left a job because they've disagreed with the company's ethical standards (Trevino, L and Nelson, K - 2011)If you adopt an early warning system against misconduct it reduces the risk of you facing expensive litigation.An ethical culture helps you make your company a strong affirming place to work in. "The foundations of an ethical culture include values, attitudes, meaning, behaviors, purpose, and management practices," explains Leigh.

Wellness Perks And Programs Popular Among Best Places To Work Companies

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Last month, theKansas City Business Journalpublished its list of2013 Best Places To Work Companiesin the Kansas City metro.  As you review the winning companies profiles (the publication's October 4, 2013 issue), you'll notice that wellness and fitness programs and perks are common among this year's winners. For example: Health center- Burns & McDonnellSubsidized fitness club memberships- DEG; Ryan LLCMonthly massage therapist visits- FishNet Security Inc.No-cost 15 fruit and vegetable "brain foods" every day- Genesys Systems IntegratorFitness facility- Argosy Casino Hotel & Spa; Henderson Engineers Inc.; Plattform Advertising Inc.Healthy snacks in general gathering rooms- Tortoise Capital Advisors LLCWellness and fitness events- Lockton Cos., Kansas City Employee BenefitsStand-up workstations spread throughout the office- Netsmart Technologies Inc. Other perks and programs offered by this year's winning companies include: On-site dry cleaning, farmers…

The Nine Times When You Should Thank Your Customers

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During this season of giving thanks, I thought I'd bring back one of the most popular posts from my Blog.  Here it is from 2012:

In your leadership role, it's vital that your team members know how to deliver excellent customer service. "Knock Your Socks Off" type service as book editor Ann Thomas and Jill Applegate would say.

Part of delivering excellent customer service is saying "Thank You" to your customers and knowing when to say "Thank You".

Thomas and Applegate recommend telling your customers "Thank You" during at least these nine situations:
When they do business with you...every time.When they compliment you (or your company)When they offer you comments or suggestionsWhen they try one of your new products or servicesWhen they recommend you to a friendWhen they are patient...and even when they are not so patientWhen they help you to serve them betterWhen they complain to youWhen they make you smileYou and your team members can sa…

What I Am Thankful For This Year

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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 friendsEmploymentTechnology, 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 goals -- which included running 35 5K races this year benefitting a variety of mostly Kansas City area nonprofits and charitiesSetting business and personal goals and working hard to reach or exceed themGood books (including ones the book club recommended)Nonprofit organizations that provide vital services and ways for me to volunteer and donateMusicThe ability to travel for vacationsReaders, followers and guests of my Blog and of Twitter @ericjacobsonkc Wow, I have a lot to be thankful for this…

Wisdom From The Book, The Art Of Being Unreasonable

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Early on in Eli Broad's book, The Art of Being Unresaonable, he reminds us of the power of a child's instinctive asking, "Why not?"  Unfortunately, most adults lose that habit and Broad goes on to explain that it was his continuing to ask "Why not?" throughout his career that brought him success.

"The questions you're willing to ask when others think they have all the answers are doors todiscovery," says Broad.

Other words of wisdom from the book, and my favorite takeaways, include:

Most successful businesses have to begin by bucking conventional wisdom.  Invention and innovation don't happen without it.Do your homework no matter how much time it takes.Big ideas don't happen in a moment.You can't do it all yourself, so ask questions and delegate.The trick to delegating is to make sure your employees share your priorities.Find the best people to whom you can delegate, and know their strengths and weaknesses. Younger employees simply …

7 Characteristics Of Annoying Bosses

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A former co-worker shared a great blog post with me this past week about the most common complaints about the annoying things bosses do without even realizing it.

Here are the highlights:
1. Making social events unofficially required.
2. Pressuring employees to donate to charity.
3. Calling employees who are on vacation.
4. Holding endless meetings.
5. Not making hard decisions.
6. Delegating without truly delegating.
7. Hinting, rather than speaking straightforwardly.
Read on for the details behind each of the above statements.