Posts

Showing posts from February, 2013

11 Questions To Ask Before You Start A Business

Image
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…

How To Maximize A Team's Results

Image
High-functioning and effective teams can disagree and still produce excellent products and results. Team members can also disagree and still care about each other. And, they can challenge each other to think differently.

Best-selling leadership book authors Scott J. Allen and Mitchell Kusy recommend that leaders ask seven tough questions of their teams to help maximize their results.

Here are those questions toask each team member:
What are some obstacles affecting this team?What are opportunities we could take advantage of that we have been largely ignoring?Where can you take greater ownership on this team?Where have you let this team down?Compared to other teams with which you are familiar, how are we doing?When was the last time you complimented the team or one of its members?How open are you to giving direct feedback to team members?

Without A Climate Of Trust, You Have This

Image
According to authors Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge, when a leader does not create a climate of trust, people:
Question decisionsHave moral problemsFail to participate fullyAvoid taking creative risks, and ultimately leave the organization And, when employees do these things, the authors explain that the organization is deeply and measurably impacted by:
Reduced quality of the product or serviceIncreased cost of turnover, hiring, trainingMissed opportunities that would have been captured by fully dedicated and creative employees

Author Greg Blencoe Talks About His Book, The Supermanager

Image
Grab a cup of coffee.  Set aside one hour.  Read Greg Blencoe's new book, The Supermanager.  It's a valuable, quick, easy-to-read book for a new manager or leader, and a solid read for existing leaders and managers who just need a reminder of Blencoe's Supermanager's Seven Principles.

Blencoe was kind enough to share with me insights into his book. 

Why did you write the book?

Blencoe:  I wrote the book because I felt there was a need for a book about management techniques that was short and interesting to read but also had depth. I think the management techniques that are discussed in the book are extremely important for several reasons. They affect employees, managers, business owners, and customers.

Good management techniques will typically make employees much happier and poor management techniques can make them miserable at work.  Managers will usually be a lot less stressed out when employees are motivated, productive, and happy.   Also, I think good management tec…

10 Questions Leaders Should Ask Themselves

Image
Here are 10 important questions business leaders should ask, according to Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge, authors of Helping People Win At Work:

Does my business have a clear, meaningful, and easily understood vision/mission?Do I have the right people in the right seats on the bus?Do I have a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal), and have I communicated it to my employees?Are my values driving the behavior I want in my organization?Am I creating a culture that increases employee engagement?Am I cultivating a spirit of internal and external learning?Do my employees know what an A looks like, and am I supporting them to get that A?Are our products/services creating lasting, positive memories for our customers?Do I have the best, most timely data and information to help my business make good decisions?Are our key performance indicators the right ones, and are we measuring what matters? And, one more questions to ask is:
Do we celebrate success?

Giving Positive Feedback Is Better Than Giving Praise

Image
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 …

The Four Ways To Provide Customer Value

Image
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.

What It Takes To Be A Level 5 Leader

Image
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

How to Be a Leader – 9 Principles from Dale Carnegie

Image
Today, I welcome thought-leader Nathan Magnuson as guest blogger...


Nathan writes: This is it, your first day in a formal leadership role. You’ve worked hard as an individual contributor at one or possibly several organizations. Now management has finally seen fit to promote you into a position as one of their own: a supervisor. You don’t care if your new team is only one person or ten, you’re just excited that now – finally – you will be in charge! Unfortunately the euphoria is short-lived. Almost immediately, you are not only overwhelmed with the responsibilities of a team, but you quickly find that your team members are not as experienced or adroit as you. Some aren’t even as committed. You find yourself having to repeat yourself, send their work back for corrections, and staying late to fill the gap. If something doesn’t change soon, you might just run yourself into the ground. How did something that looked so easy all of a sudden become so hard? Now what? Does this sound familiar? For…

Customer Service Lessons From Author Micah Solomon

Image
Micah Solomon’s book, High-tech, High-touch Customer Service, is all about how to inspire timeless loyalty in the demanding new world of social commerce -- one where businesses today face the increasingly challenging world of customer interactions, both online and off.

The book is a must-read for any business leader. And, fortunately, the content is grounded in decades of experience and proven methodology.

Some key lessons I learned from the book include:
If you can anticipate, you can differentiate. If your customers feel at home. They’re unlikely to roam. If things go wrong for a customer initially, do a grand job of getting to the other side of that challenge and you may create a positive memory that literally supplants the initial unpleasantness. Also, Solomon states that the four components to solid value that creates customer satisfaction are: A perfect product or service Delivery in a caring, friendly manner Timeliness The backing of an effective problem-resolution process And,…

How Will You Get Involved?

Image
"Philanthropy isn't just a pursuit for the wealthy. Philanthropy is about involvement.

Pick your issue, work at it, and do your best to make things happen.

Even if you're not wealthy, you have time, expertise, skills and other resources you may not even have realized that can be used to serve others."

Thanks for this great advice from author Eli Broad.

6 Ways To Create Business And Leadership Success

Image
Drive your success by: Funding what makes your business unique and valuable Not rushing to cut prices Hiring talented castoffs from competitors Being seen and being seen often by your team Making decisions in a timely manner Using a story to put situations in context

You Are An Annoying Boss If You Do This

Image
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.

Teach An Employee Something New Today

Image
Take the opportunity today to teach an employee something new. Nearly everyone likes to learn and is capable of tackling a new challenge.
Teach your employee something that expands his (or her) current job description. Teach something that will help him to get promoted within your organization at a later date. Teach him a skill that uses new technology. Or, teach him something that will allow him to be a more skilled leader and manager in the future. You can even teach something that you no longer need to be doing in your position, but that will be a rewarding challenge/task for your employee.

The benefit to your employee is obvious. The benefit to you is you'll have a more skilled team member who is capable of handling more work that can help you to grow your business and/or make it run more efficiently.

Be a leader who teaches.

Have You Said "Nice Bike" To Someone Today?

Image
Have you said “Nice Bike” to someone today?

Perhaps I was just in the mood for an uplifting, motivating and humorous presentation when I heard Emmy award winning author and speaker Mark Scharenbroich at a conference awhile back.

Yes, I was in that mood. But, more importantly, Mark delivered a vitally important message and shared the power of making meaningful connections in one’s personal and professional life.

He also totally hit it out of the park with his presentation in which he shared stories from his book, Nice Bike – Making Meaningful Connections on the Road of Life. He explained the power of saying “Nice Bike” to someone – the engine that is fueled with:
acknowledging honoring connecting ...with that person.

You can read the book, each chapter a personal story/lesson of Mark’s, in an afternoon. And, without revealing those stories, my top two takeaways from the book and the presentation are:
Focused listening is one of the biggest honors we can bestow on others.It is more impor…

The Components Of A Crisis Management Plan

Image
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 …

Definitions Every Leader Must Know

Image
Many a time during my career I've been in situations where someone asks, "What is the difference between a vision and a mission?"  Or, "How is an objective different from a goal?"  And, lots of times, confusion comes when separating strategies from tactics.

If you've encountered the same situations, use this helpful list of strategic frame ofreference elements and definitions in mind:

Vision = What we will be

Mission = Why we exist

Goals = What will get us there

Objectives = Major steps we will take

Strategies = How we will go about achieving our objectives

Tactics = Who will do what, by when

Roles = Ownership of tasks

Relationships = People working toward a common goal

Thanks to author Edward T. Reilly for this good clarification from his new book, AMA Business Boot Camp.


Do You Practice SPARK Leadership?

Image
You practice SPARK leadership if you:
Share InformationPlay to StrengthsAsk for Input and Appreciate Different IdeasRecognize and Respond to Individual NeedsKeep Your Commitments A great reminder from the President and CEO of American Management Association, Edward T. Reilly.  You'll find more good advice in his new book, AMA Business Boot Camp.

Helping People Win At Work

Image
Here are some of my favorite pieces of advice from Ken Blanchard's and Garry Ridge's book, Helping People Win at Work:
All good performance starts with clear goals.Continually planning and executing without the value of review and learning can blindside you.You don't want to save up feedback until somebody fails.It's amazing how much more you learn when you admit you don't know.If you can't measure something, you can't manage it.The key to developing people is to catch them doing something right.Whenever you attempt to influence someone else's beliefs, thinking, or behavior, you're engaging in leadership.A compelling vision tells people who they are, where they are going, and what will guide their journey.

Full Engagement By Brian Tracy

Image
Best-selling author Brian Tracy's book, Full Engagement, provides practical advice for how to inspire your employees to perform at their absolute best. He explains that above nearly every measure, employees' most powerful single motivator is the "desire to be happy."

So, Tracy teaches you how to make your employees happy by:
Organizing their work from the first step in the hiring process through the final step in their departure from your company so they are happy with you, their work, their coworkers, as well as in their interactions with your customers, suppliers and vendors.Full Engagement includes these chapters and topics:
The Psychology of MotivationIgnite the Flame of Personal PerformanceMake People Feel ImportantDrive Out FearCreate That Winning FeelingSelect The Right PeopleInternal Versus External Motivation At a minimum, Tracy suggests that managers do the following when managing their employees:
SmileAsk questionsListenBe politeSay "Thank You"Kee…

How To Build Trust

Image
You can't lead if your employees, team or followers don't trust you.

Building trust takes energy, effort and constant attention to how you act.

To help build trust, follow these 16 tips, recommended by author Susan H. Shearouse:
Be honestKeep commitments and keep your wordAvoid surprisesBe consistent with your moodBe your bestDemonstrate respectListenCommunicateSpeak with a positive intentAdmit mistakesBe willing to hear feedbackMaintain confidencesGet to know othersPractice empathySeek input from othersSay "thank you"

5 Leadership Quotes For Today

Image
Some of my favorite quotes for leaders are:
A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit -- Arnold H. GlasgowI praise loudly, I blame softly -- Catherine II of RussiaHonest disagreement is often a good sign of progress -- Mohandas GandhiA long dispute means that both parties are wrong -- VoltaireThe least questioned assumptions are often the most questionable -- Paul Broca These and many more compelling quotes can be found in Susan H. Shearouse's new book, Conflict 101.

Encourage Employees To Learn From Their Mistakes

Image
Mistakes happen. The best thing you can do as a leader is to help your employee learn from his (or her) mistake.

If your employee is afraid of ever making a mistake, he will be paralyzed from taking action or taking even calculated risks. If he knows that mistakes happen in the course of doing business and that one learns from making mistakes, you will have a more productive employee.

Most important, be sure your employee knows that if he makes a mistake, he should let you know as soon as possible.

As soon as he does, quickly rectify the situation.

Then, discuss with him how the mistake happened. Find out what he did or didn't do. Ask him what he thinks he can do in the future to avoid the mistake from happening again. Chances are he has already figured this out. If not, teach him what he needs to do differently to avoid the mistake from reoccurring.

Finally, you may discover that the mistake happened because policies, procedures or your assignment instructions were confusing or …

A Completely Different Approach To Hiring

Image
"Don't Hire Jerks, No Matter How Talented," said Michael Lebowitz in an interview for The New York Times awhile back.

Lebowitz is the CEO of Big Spaceship, a marketing and communications agency. He claims, and I agree, that no matter how talented the person may be, if he/she can't fit into the company culture and work effectively with co-workers, it doesn't matter how talented he/she is.

The other advice Lebowitz gives is:
If you are the CEO, be the FIRST person to interview a candidate. Don't be last, as is typically the case. "I completely step back from trying to assess their skills. I leave that to the people they're going to be working with really closely," said Lebowitz. "And, so I spend as much time as an hour, sometimes 90 minutes, just trying to figure out who they are and if they're going to be a good fit for the culture."

In his interviews, Lebowitz asks these open-ended questions:
So, what do you do?What do you like t…