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Showing posts from October, 2013

A Goal Without A Plan Is Just A Wish

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"A goal without a plan is just a wish," is something Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said a long time ago.  But, goals and plans were top of mind this past weekend. 

When the year started, I set a goal of running in 30 5K races during 2013.  Because of good weather on most weekends, minimal injury setbacks, and a lot of races to select from in the Kansas City area each weekend, I reached my goal last Saturday, and now with two months left in the year will surpass my goal. 

I would not have reached my goal without also having a plan in place of how I would train, schedule runs, and adjust for setbacks and unforeseen challenges.

A few months ago, my 49-year-old sister-in-law set a goal to run her first-ever 10K race.  She embarked on an even more specific plan by following a strict, time-tested, eight-week training plan to take her from couch to fully prepared to run her first 10K.  She reached her goal and then ran a second 10K a few weeks afterward.  I am so proud of her.
The same da…

Make It Easy For Your Employees To Volunteer

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If you are a workplace leader who supports a volunteer program at your business, you already know that by encouraging employees to give back to your community you are:
building teamworkmotivating employeesattracting new hires In fact, job seekers much prefer companies that have a strong volunteer program. And, a growing number of businesses are rewarding employees who volunteer by giving them extra vacation time and other incentives.

Fortunately, throughout the U.S. there are hundreds of volunteer opportunities where employees can contribute individually, or where leaders can organize teams of employees to volunteer together on a routine and scheduled basis.

To find organizations in need of volunteers, go to Volunteer Match and type in your zip code.  You'll be presented a list of nearby volunteer opportunities.  Also, you can find opportunities on iPartcipate.

Encourage Peer Coaching

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Do you create an environment at your business/organization that allows peer coaching?

Hopefully you do. If you don't, encourage peer coaching among the members of your team. Peer coaching can be formal, informal or a combination of both.

You'll likely find that everyone on your team has a skill, technique, behavior that they can teach a fellow team member. That coaching is rewarding for both parties, and it helps everyone to learn an important skill for being a successful leader -- coaching.

Setting Standards, Identifying Obstacles & Sharing Learnings

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Here are some good tips for leading a successful business operation from the handy booklet, 144 Ways To Walk The Talk, by Eric Harvey and Al Lucia:
Involve your team in setting standards that are achievable but also require everyone to stretch their knowledge and skills.Remember that regardless of what you say, it is the performance you're willing to accept that becomes your true standard.Work as a team to stay abreast of technology advancements.  Have different employees read different trade and professional magazines and blogs.   Ask others to share key learning from workshops, webinars, seminars and conferences they attend.  Make it easy via meetings and or within an Intranet forum/Blog area to share what everyone is learning and hearing.Ask each member of your group to identify the three most significant obstacles to their performance.  Create a master list and develop strategies to eliminate them.  Then, reward employees for identifying obstacles!

70 Ideas For Your 2014 New Year's Resolutions

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With only two months left of 2013, it's not too early to start identifying 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?

Perhaps write down five to ten and then between now and December 31, think about which couple you want to work on in 2014.
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 dur…

Grossman's White Paper Shows How Internal CEO Communications Shapes Financial Performance

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Communications expert David Grossman of Your Thought Partner has published a new white paper – What the most successful CEOs know: how internal CEO communications shapes financial performance.

"CEOs who communicate often and well inside their organizations have better reputations – and that leads directly to better business results," explains David. "They’ve also got more engaged employees – another strong, measurable driver of positive financial outcomes."

David's white paper incorporates research compiled from a number of leading sources and points to some critical key headlines, including:
Internal communications helps drive organizational financial performance and other key business results, and enhances organizational reputation.There’s a correlation between effective internal communications on topics the CEO is best prepared to address, such as explaining business conditions and challenges, providing information on organizational performance and financial…

Inspiring Leadership Quotes From The Book, Manager 3.0

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These five quotes from the new book released this week, Manager 3.0, really impress and inspire me:

"The leader is the person who brings a little magic to the moment." -- Denise Morrison

"The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already." -- John Buchan

"The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do." -- Apple Inc.

"The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place," -- George Bernard Shaw.

"Twenty years from now you will more be disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did." -- Mark Twain

Manager 3.0 is a management book tailored specifically for young business leaders and provides them with the tools to bridge generation gaps in the workplace and gain awareness of other's differences and their own.

It's authored by Brad Karsh and Courtney Templin, both of JB Train…

The Five Most Important Leadership Traits

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I was recently asked, "What five most important traits must a leader have to be effective?"  I could reply fairly quickly, but I did take a moment to remember that when I asked a similar question in a LinkedIn group discussion, group members offered up nearly 100 different adjectives to describe an effective leader.

But, for me, I contend the five most important traits are:
Good communicator. That means effectively communicating timely and consistent messages during good and bad times. And, knowing how and when to be a good listener. Communicating is critical. Employees must hear from their leaders. And, hearing from their leaders in person versus e-mail and written memos is even more effective.Being a servant leader. Put your employees and your company first. A top manager who makes decisions that are self-serving will lack followers and will bring the company down.Adaptable. Today, more than ever, a leader needs to adapt. That means adapting to competitive and industry sit…

Today's Leadership Thought

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"The world is moved along not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker." -- Hellen Keller

The Seven Ways To Deliver Exceptional Customer Service

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If you want to delight your customers, then the book by Steve Curtin, Delight Your Customers -- 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary, is a must-read for you and your employees.

Published this summer, the book explains the seven ways for you and your employees to demonstrate exceptional customer service:
Express genuine interestOffer sincere and specific complimentsShare unique knowledgeConvey authentic enthusiasmUse appropriate humorProvide pleasant surprisesDeliver service heroics "Exceptional customer service typically costs no more to deliver than poor customer service," explains Curtin.


For example:
How much does it cost to express genuine interest in customers or to anticipate their needs?Does it cost more to display a sense of urgency or to pay attention to detail?Do you pay your employees more to smile, to make eye contact, or to add energy to their voices? Curtin reminds readers that:
Customers don't establish relationships wi…

Five Tips For Writing Your Next Company Policy

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Keep these five tips in mind when you craft your next company policy:
Keep the policy short and simple.Get rid of two old policies for every new policy you implement.Make sure that your organization's policy and procedures are written to serve your employees and customers--not just your organization.Don't write a policy in reaction to a single incident.  The problem may never arise again.Don't write a policy longer than one-page, no matter how large your organization may be. Thanks to author Bob Nelson for these great tips from his book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees.

5 Open-Ended Questions To Ask Your Customers

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I really like author Paul R. Timm's advice to stop asking your customers the "typical" questions and instead ask them open-ended questions.

Here's 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.

The Key Questions To Ask During An Exit Interview

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

That's because you can use the reasons a departing employee provides to gather information about processes, people and departments that might need some redirection to correct situations that may have contributed to the employee's reasons for leaving.

So, do an exit interview whenever possible with each departing employee. Ask each person:
Why they are leavingWhat they liked about their jobWhat they would have changed about their jobHow they felt about the cooperation level among co-workersHow they felt about communication and interaction with co-workersWhether they received the necessary training to do their jobWhether they received frequent coaching and balanced feedback from their supervisorWould they recommend a friend apply for work at your companyHow they felt about their payHow they would describe the morale in the company and in their departmentWhat they would change about t…

Leadership Quotes By John C. Maxwell

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The real gems in John C. Maxwell's book, Everyone Communicates Few Connect, 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.

42 Ways To Get 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…

The Nine Times When You Should Thank A Customer

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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 say "Thank You":
VerballyIn writing (and don't underestimate the power of personal notes via snail mail)With a small, tas…

Today's Leadership Quote

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"Knowledge isn't power until it is applied." -- Dale Carnegie

The Power Of Experience

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"There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience and that is not learning from experience" -- Archibald MacLeish

Brian Tracy's Unlimited Sales Success Book Is Worth Reading Twice

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Read Brain Tracy's new book, Unlimited Sales Success, twice!  First, to cherry-pick and quickly discover the solutions to your most pressing sales challenges and roadblocks.  Then, from cover to cover to learn a host of new strategies and techniques to propel your sales success and results.

On  my first read, I devoured the sections on:
The seven new realities of sales todayHow to truly analyze current prospects and customers so you can make the most sales in the shortest period of timeHow to most effectively open  your first meeting with a prospect and clientThe keys to relationship building  in salesThe single most powerful question you can ask your customerWhat to say when your prospect complains about priceMaking persuasive presentationsHow to close a sale In my second read, I found particularly beneficial Tracy's seven steps to mental fitness, and what it takes to be an effective salesperson: AmbitiousCourageousCommitted to your workProfessionalThoroughly prepared for each…

Conflict 101

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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…

Today's Five Leadership Quotes

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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 book, Conflict 101.

The Seven Arts Of Change

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David Shaner's compelling, The Seven Arts of Change, shows business leaders that transforming a business only happens when each employee equates organizational change with the process of deep personal growth.

"The bottom line is that, despite how technological and automated organizations have become, at their core they remain a collection of human energies that are merely being applied in an organized environment," explains Shaner.  "Resurrecting and guiding that human core of your organization is the secret to leading and sustaining change," he adds.

Shaner pulls from his vast professional and personal experiences, including having been a member of the Olympic Valley USA Ski Team and a former Harvard University teacher, to lay out a seven-part "spiritual guide" for change:
The Art of Preparation (Assessment)The Art of Compassion (Participation)The Art of Responsibility (Accountability)The Art of Relaxation (Clarity, Focus, Visibility)The Art of Consc…

3 Ways To Clearly Explain Change

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When you communicate change to your team, explain the logical and rational reasons for the change:

1. Explain how the change will make employees feel before, during and after the implementation.

2. Explain the tactical plan and goals.

3. Answer questions from your team.

Best Places To Work Companies Use These Six Universal Drivers

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Overland Park, Kansas-based author Leigh Branham, along with Mark Hirschfeld, awhile back completed a survey of 10,000 employees in 43 states to better understand what separates a "best places to work" company from other companies. 

What Branham and Hirschfeld discovered is that the best companies use six "universal drivers" that maximize employee engagement:
Caring, Competent, and Engaging Senior LeadersEffective Managers Who Keep Employees Aligned and EngagedEffective Teamwork at All LevelsJob Enrichment and Professional GrowthValuing Employee ContributionsConcern for Employee Well-Being Branham also explains that to get the best from your employees you need to re-engage them. You can learn more about how to do that in his book, Re-Engage.

How The Friendship Factor Is Motivating

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All you need is one hour to read Brian Tracy's newest, pocket-sized guide for managers, Motivation.

"You cannot motivate other people," explains Tracy, "but you can remove the obstacles that stop them from motivating themselves.  All motivation is self-motivation.  As a manager, you can create an environment where this potential for self-motivation is released naturally and spontaneously."

In the book, Tracy presents chapter-by-chapter his 21 most reliable and powerful methods for increasing the effectiveness of any individual or group.

Each chapter includes a couple different action exercises.

Toward the end of the book, Tracy explains the importance of the Friendship Factor in motivating employees.  "Every manager can tap into the power of friendship in everyday employee interactions by remembering the three Cs:  Consideration, Caring and Courtesy.
Practice consideration by expressing an interest in your employees as individuals.Express caring for your s…

Author Brad Hams On Eradicating Entitlement In The Workplace

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Entitlement is "killing your business," says author Brad Hams.

And after more than 15 years working with hundreds of companies, Hams says he knows "that the vast majority of employees addicted to entitlement actually want to engage, want to contribute, and feel much better about themselves when they are in an environment that requires them to do so."

Hams takes a no holds barred approach in his new book, Ownership Thinking -- How to End Entitlement and Create a Culture of Accountability, Purpose and Profit.

He believes that:
Roughly 8 percent of potential profit may be falling through the cracks in your company if you suffer from a culture of entitlementOwnership Thinking is a provocative read for leaders within an organization and for every level generation of employees who are guided by those leaders.

"Entitlement has become an enormous problem in our culture, and I'm afraid it's getting worse with every generation," says Hams.



In a recent inte…

Book Highlights: Kiss That Frog!

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Missed a promotion at work?  Leading a team of employees that is frustrating you?  Out of work and searching for a new job?  Mind full of negative thoughts?

Then, take a couple hours to read the Brian Tracy's newest book, Kiss That Frog!

In the book, Tracy and co-author, Christina Tracy Stein, present a step-by-step plan that addresses the root causes of negatively to help you:
uncover blocks that have become mental obstaclestransform those obstacles into stepping-stones to achieve your fullest potential at work and in your personal life "Perhaps the greatest discovery in psychology and individual fulfillment is that the biggest obstacles that stand between you and an extraordinary life are usually negative mental attitudes toward yourself and others," explains Tracy.

The authors also explain that:
One of the most helpful habits you can develop is choosing to seek the valuable lesson in everything that happens to you, especially negative experiences.It's not what happ…

Self-Reflection: 4 Questions To Ask Yourself Each Day

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I'm a big fan of the magazine, Experience Life.  Particularly the monthly Perspective column by Bahram Akradi, the founder and CEO of Life Time Fitness.

Akradi tackles self-reflection in this month's issue.  He firmly believes the business model that if you aren't innovating you are dying.  And, to innovate, you have to regularly fine-tune both your business and your life.

What better way to do that than to ask yourself each day these four questions, says Akradi:
Where did I do some good or make some progress today?Where did I let myself or others down?What can I do to keep my good habits going?What can I do to address any negative triggers or trends before they get out of hand? Thanks Bahram for this great advice.  And, thanks for a great a great business, health, fitness and quality-of-life magazine.