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Showing posts from September, 2013

7 Ways 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…

Leadership Quotes From Everyone Communicates Few Connect

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The real gems in John C. Maxwell's book, Everyone Communicates Few Connect, book are the abundant leadership and communication quotes, such as these: To add value to others, one must first value others. People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude. All good communicators get to the point before their listeners start asking, "What's the point?" The first time you say something, it's heard. The second time, it's recognized, and the third time it's learned. In the end, people are persuaded not by what we say, but by what they understand. People pay attention when something that is said connects with something they greatly desire. Maxwell also says that:
Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could. The book covers five principles and five practices to help readers so they can connect one-on-one, in a group, or with an audience.

The Three Places You Should Interview Job Candidates

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One of the reasons you want to interview people in three different places is that candidates will usually be at their very best in the first interview (likely in your office). After that, if they are pretending, the veneer will come off in subsequent meetings in out-of-the office locations.

Also, because most employees can only be successful in their jobs in different locations as well, it makes sense to witness your candidates in different settings. So, consider interviewing the candidate over a lunch at a nearby restaurant.

And, finally, consider interviewing them in a group setting where you invite a variety of your employees to be part of the group. If you do this, be sure to let each employee voice their "vote" regarding the candidate after the meeting.

There are lots more great tips like this one in Thompson's and Tracy's book, Now...Build a Great Business!

How To Make The Most Of Your Executive Coaching Experience

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If you are a leader already engaging with an executive coach, or contemplating engaging one, here are four ways to make your coaching experience a success, as reported in a relatively recent issue of Fortune magazine:

Find the right match. Find someone to push and challenge you. To encourage you and to hold you accountable. Be sure the person you engage with is a person you can trust and can talk to easily.Be aware of your company's expectations. If your boss hired the coach to work with you, make sure your boss, and your boss's boss, share their expectations and hoped-for outcomes with you. Then, make sure your coach knows that those things belong at the top of your goals list.Get your money's worth. Work with your coach on issues or questions that have a direct correlation to success in your job. Be sure your coach sees you in action. Allow your coach to observe you interacting with your peers or direct reports. This also gives your colleagues a sense that you&…

How To Be A Better Leader: 70 Tips

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Back by popular demand...

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 ev…

My Best Boss Did...

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In their 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?  What did your best boss do?

Book Highlights: The Pause Principle

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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 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:
Be …

How To Practice SPARK Leadership

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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.

Allow Employees To Learn From Their Mistakes

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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 …

35 Leadership Quotes That Inspire Me

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These quotes truly inspire me:

“The three common characteristics of best companies -- they care, they have fun, they have high performance expectations.” -- Brad Hams
“The one thing that's common to all successful people: They make a habit of doing things that unsuccessful people don't like to do.” -- Michael Phelps
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." -- Harry S. Truman
“The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell. The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask.” -- Peter Drucker
“Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” -- Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Good leadership isn't about advancing yourself.  It's about advancing your team.” -- John C. Maxwell
"People buy into the leader, then the vision.” -- John C. Maxwell
“Great leaders have courage, tenacity and patience.” -- Bill McBean
"People never learn anything by being told, they have to…

How To Provide Caring Criticism

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Negative feedback is part of growing as a leader -- both delivering that feedback and sometimes receiving that type of feedback.

Keith Ferrazzi, CEO of Ferazzi Greenlight, a research-based consulting and training company, suggests practicing "caring criticism," as he explained it in the Harvard Business Review.

"Negative feedback can hurt, but usually it's a gift aimed at helping the recipient improve performance or avoid mistakes.  We should deliver and receive it that way," says Ferrazzi.

"Use phrases like 'I might suggest' and 'Think about this'" when giving feedback.

And, then Kerrazzi suggests when receiving candid feedback, that you thank the person who offered it and make clear the points on which you agree.  He's found that if you think of the person giving you honest feedback as generous, rather than critical, you become less defensive and more open to changing your behavior.

Before You Start A Business, Ask Yourself These 11 Questions

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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…

Guest Post: Dilenschneider on Workplace Core Values

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Today, I welcome the following guest post: 5 Core Values for the Workplace
By Robert L. Dilenschneider,
Author of A Briefing for Leaders: Communication As the Ultimate Exercise of Power There are many fine values, such as courtesy, confidence, ingenuity, thrift, and so on. The trouble is that the list of values grows easily and can cause many employees to lose their focus. They fail to prioritize. A "short list" of values is far more useful in putting the workplace back on track.
Moreover, when the core values exceed four or five points, it becomes difficult to communicate and reinforce them. The following are five candidates for the practical values having foremost importance:
IntegrityAccountabilityDiligencePerseveranceDisciplineI know companies -- strong organizations -- centered on these values. They are invariably successful. Almost always, these core values generate other values in employees.

But what if all our organizations started with the same short list? Wouldn't tha…

Put People First In The Workplace By Doing These Four Things

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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

Break Out From Predictability

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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.

David Grossman On Mastering The Art Of Messaging

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David Grossman, president and founder of The Grossman Group, published in 2010 a helpful, free eBook titled:  Mastering The Art of Messaging.  Three years later, it remains a valuable tool for workplace leaders.

Grossman says that perhaps it’s the still tough economy, technology, or that every is just too busy, but whatever the reason, employees are feeling more disconnected than ever from the organizations they work for.

At the same time, leaders continue to struggle with one of their toughest jobs, developing and articulating their overall strategy and priorities, especially during times of change.

Grossman says the result is:
confused employeesunhappy workplacesstressed bossesdemanding shareholders In Grossman's free ebook, he highlights all the essentials of creating a strategic internal messaging plan with the end goal of helping leaders create and communicate:
clear, consistent, and credible messaging that connects to target audiences. Using the 18-page ebook, you'll learn…

How To Determine Your LeaderGrade

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If you need a tool to measure your leadership skills, check out LeaderGrade, by Quantum Workplace, which measures your leadership influence by asking your peers and followers to rate your leadership skills.

The online survey tool uses a 45 question assessment to measure your leadership skills across 15 dimensions of leadership.

The survey typically takes respondents seven to 10 minutes to fill out and the results you get will identify your strengths and weaknesses, and will allow you to compare your evaluators' responses to your own self-assessment.

The self-evaluation survey is free and it's the first step in the program. Also free is a summary analysis of your results. A full reporting on your results costs $79.

Also, by using LeaderGrade, your leadership skills can be compared to those of other leaders who have completed the LeaderGrade assessment.  I don't know the pricing for the full program, but the free self-assessment is worth using.

Seven Tough Questions To Ask Your Team

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High-functioning 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 to ask 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?

Book Highlights: Conflict 101 By Susan H. Shearouse

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Handling conflict is one of the most difficult things a leader has to deal with.  Unfortunately, conflict in the workplace is inevitable. 
In fact, research shows that 42 percent of a manager's time is spent addressing conflict.  And, over 65 percent of performance problems are caused by employee conflicts. Managers new in their leadership role typically have had little to no training on how to deal with conflict.

Fortunately, in Susan H. Shearouse's book, Conflict 101, you can learn:
How conflict is createdHow we respond to conflictHow to management conflict more effectively Shearouse explains that even though conflict is inevitable, it can lead to both growth and progress.  "There is little progress that is not preceded by some kind of conflict," says Shearouse.

I found particularly helpful in the book the definitions of the following five different types of conflict and then how best to deal with each:
Problems to solveDisagreementContestFight Intractable situation…

Book Highlights: Full Engagement By Brian Tracy

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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…

10 Leadership Quotes From Maxwell's 5 Levels Of Leadership Book

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Here are some of my favorites quotes from the book that I believe should become a must-read book by any workplace/organizational leader -- John C. Maxwell's book, The 5 Levels of Leadership:
Good leadership isn't about advancing yourself.  It's about advancing your team.Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.Leadership is action, not position.When people feel liked, cared for, included, valued, and trusted, they begin to work together with their leader and each other.If you have integrity with people, you develop trust.  The more trust you develop, the stronger the relationship becomes.  In times of difficulty, relationships are a shelter.  In times of opportunity, they are a launching pad.Good leaders must embrace both care and candor.People buy into the leader, then the vision.Bringing out the best in a person is often a catalyst for bringing out the best in the team.Progress comes only from taking risks and maki…

How To Deliver "Knock Your Socks Off" Customer Service

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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 …

Lead By Setting A Good Example

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There is nothing more powerful for a leader to do than to lead by setting a good example.

So, here are 15 things you can do to be an effective and successful leader:

1. Praise when compliments are earned.
2. Be decisive.
3. Say “Thank You” and sincerely mean it.
4. Communicate clearly.
5. Listen carefully.
6. Teach something new to your team members.
7. Word hard and lend a hand when deadlines are tight.
8. Show respect for everyone on your team.
9. Follow through when you promise to do something.
10. Allow learning to happen when mistakes are made.
11. Allow prudent autonomy.
12. Respond to questions quickly and fully.
13. Return e-mail and phone calls promptly.
14. Take an interest in your employees and their important personal milestone events.
15. Give credit where credit is due.

And, last but not least, be humble!

How To 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!

Today's Three Tips: Be Decisive. Find The Truth. Write A Thank You Note.

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Be decisive
A manager who can't make a decision or who can't make a timely decision will frustrate his/her employees. Equally bad, a lack of decision will impede the progress of the manager's team.

Some managers make endless requests for data as a way to postpone their having to make a decision. Employees end up spinning in circles, slicing and dicing the information far beyond what is truly needed for the manager to make a decision.

Some managers are simply afraid to make a decision in fear of making a "wrong" decision. These managers don't necessarily request needless data, but simply just never made a decision.

Successful managers (true leaders) gather the data from their employees, make any necessary follow-up requests (probing beyond what their employee may have researched/gathered on their own), and then make their decision...knowing that in virtually all cases most decisions are not black and white "right or "wrong," but are the best dec…

Book Highlights: Lead With Purpose By John Baldoni

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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?

Rank-order Priorities To Determine Motivation

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When you meet with your employee during her annual performance appraisal take time to determine what motivates her when it comes to her career development.  Motivation changes over time and changes depending on where the individual is in her career.

So, to determine what motives her, author Paul Falcone recommends you ask her to rank-order her priorities in terms of the following six guidelines:
If you had to chose two categories from the following six, which would you say hold the most significance to you career-wise? 1.  Career progression through the ranks and opportunities for promotion and advancement.
2.  Lateral assumption of increased job responsibilities and skill building (e.g. rotational assignments).
3.  Acquisition of new technical skills (typically requiring outside training and certification).
4.  Development of stronger leadership, managerial, or administrative skills.
5.  Work-life balance.
6.  Money and other forms of compensation.

Then, do your best to match her nex…

How A Coach Differs From 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.

6 Ways To Jump-Start Your Business

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As a leader in your business, try these six ideas to give your business a jump-start:
Ask for ideas from employees in all parts of your business. Don't ask for ideas only from your product development or marketing departments. Be sure all employees clearly understand your vision and the mission of your business. Brainstorm ways to take advantage of your strengths. Determine how to overcome your business' weaknesses. Choose which opportunities you will prioritize to help keep everyone focused on a common goal. Celebrate your successes regularly and encourage learning from your mistakes.

What Makes A Great Company Per Jim Collins

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Inc. magazine’s June 2012 issue featured a compelling article about author and leadership expert Jim Collins, who has studied leadership for 25 years and penned four best-selling books.

Two of the most powerful takeaways from the article for me are Collin’s definition of a great company:

“To be great, a company has to make a distinctive impact. I define that by a test:  If your company disappeared, would it leave a gaping hole that could not easily be filled by another enterprise on the planet? Now, that doesn’t mean the company has to be big…just that if it went away, people would feel a gaping hole, and no one could easily come in and fill it.”

The second takeaway is the list of 12 questions that Collins says leaders much grapple with if they truly want to excel.  Three of those 12 are these, the first two I tend to think don’t get asked often enough:
How can we increase our return on luck? What could kill us, and how can we protect our flanks? Do we have the right people on the bus a…

Touchpoint Leadership & Creating Collaborative Energy

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Touchpoint Leadership is founded on the belief that relationships are the primary unit of value in organizations and that for enterprises to be healthy, effective and immensely rewarding leaders need to put relationships at the heart of everything they do.

Touchpoint Leadership is also the title of the new book by executive consultant Dr. Hilary Lines and leadership consultant Dr. Jacqui Scholes-Rhodes.

According to the authors, to develop Touchpoint Leadership, a leader needs to focus on three developmental domains:
PersonalInterpersonalOrganizational More specifically, to succeed in Touchpoint Leadership, a leader must:
Bring his/her full self to interactions with others by developing self-awareness, a clear moral compass and deep reflection.Attend to what happens at the moment of connection with others, connecting to ignite energy and co-creation.Take a systemic view of the connections that need to be made to build collective value, in order to engender learning and collaboration acr…