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Showing posts from January, 2014

Foundational Tools For First-Time Leaders

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The forthcoming First-Time Leader book by George Bradt and Gillian Davis begins with a discussion of taking charge of your new team and then tracks through BRAVE leadership components from the outside in.
BRAVE is a leadership framework that helps first-time leaders successfully build their team by uniting them around a shared purpose. The term reflects an acronym that stands for behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values and environment.

Carefully considering and analyzing each component will help first-time leaders discover this shared purpose and incorporate it into the company’s larger strategy and their team’s implementation of same.

Specifically, the book defines the five components as:

Behaviors –  The actions that make real lasting impact on others.Relationships – The heart of leadership. If you can’t connect, you can’t lead.Attitudes – Encompassing strategic, posture, and culture choices around how to win.Values – The bedrock of a high performing team. Get clear on what reall…

How To Retain And Find New Customers

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Are you a leader in need of ideas for how to retain your customers and how to find new ones?

Here are 12 ideas for you:
Offer payment plans.Conduct customer satisfaction surveys.Develop a system to track your customers.Ask all customers how they heard of your business.Identify a market you may have overlooked.Return all telephone calls.Ask your customers to come back again.Offer incentives.Learn customer names.Keep track of customer comments.Make follow-up calls to customers.Provide regular customers with discounts. Thanks Bank of America and SCORE Association for these ideas from your Small Business Basics handbook.

Mid-Week Recommended Leadership Reads - January 29

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Today, I start a new weekly series on my Blog, called, "Mid-Week Recommended Leadership Reads."

Each week, I'll share with you one recommended blog post, video, and profile about leadership, communication and/or marketing.

The recommendations will be some of my favorite finds that I hope you'll think are equally interesting and helpful.

So, here goes:
Blog Post:  Tanveer Naseer shares his top Leadership insights from last year.Video:  Paul Smith shares his top 10 reasons to tell stories.Profile:  Leadership Profile:  Belinda Waggoner. Please let me know if you have a recommended post, video or profile you would like me to read and see for possible inclusion in my Mid-Week roundup.
Thanks! Eric Jacobson

Most Common Responses To "My Best Boss..."

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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?

Sample Of Solid Business Guiding Principles

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I really like these 10 guiding business principles that San Antonio, TX headquartered insurance company USAA has lived by:
Exceed customer expectationsLive the Golden Rule (treat others with courtesy and respect)Be a leaderParticipate and contributePursue excellenceWork as a teamShare knowledgeKeep it simple (make it easy for customers to do business with us and for us to work together)Listen and communicateHave fun Too many companies don't make it simple for their customers to do business with them. Is it easy for your customers to:
Buy from you?Make returns?Get pricing and terms?Receive timely responses to their e-mails?Quickly get answers when phoning your company? You can find more examples of companies with impressive guiding principles in the book, 1001 Ways To Energize Employees.

There Are 50 Ways To Improve Your Brainstorming

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According to Brian Cole Miller in his book, Quick Brainstorming Activities For Busy Managers, there are 50 ways to improve your brainstorming at your company or in your organization.

My favorite is the Paper Swap brainstorming activity:

A brainstorming technique where participants write their input on separate pieces of paper; then they swap papers and continue to add input. Miller provides 49 other techniques in his book, all of which take less than 15 minutes to complete.

For all brainstorming sessions, Miller reminds leaders that you should:
Focus on quantity not qualityDon't allow criticismEncourage wild ideasCombine ideas for more ideas Brian Cole Miller
Miller also suggests that the best starting question for a brainstorming session is a Focus Question -- one that:
Uses the participants' own languageIs personal to the participants and not the organizationEvokes responses with imagery This is a must-read book for any manager who needs to effectively lead brainstorming sessio…

Good To Great Remains A Top Read For Leaders

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Near the top of virtually every list you'll see of the best leadership books, you'll find Good To Great, by Jim Collins.

The book, five years in the making, and published in 2001, addresses the all-important question of: Can a good company become a great company, and if so, how?

Some of the lessons from the book are:
"Leadership is equally about creating a climate where the truth is heard and the brutal facts confronted.""Leading from good to great does not mean coming up with the answers and then motivating everyone to follow your messianic vision. It means having the humility to grasp the fact that you do not yet understand enough to have the answers and then to ask the questions that will lead to the best possible insights.""Good-to-great companies use technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it.""Engage in dialogue and debate."Good-to-great companies are those who have the ability to get and keep enough of the right …

Proud To Be No. 55 On This Top 100 Leadership Blog List

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Thanks to Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness, and honored and humbled to be No. 55 on this list of 2013's Top 100 Socially-Shared Leadership Blogs.

And, be sure to check out:

No. 1No. 15No. 42No. 43No. 75 ...any my all-time favorite for some of the most compelling content on leadership, No. 18!

Thank you for reading my blog and sharing my posts!

Eric Jacobson


How To Write Your Business Plan In One Hour

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Kansas City’s Joe Calhoon, published a couple years ago, The 1 Hour Plan for Growth, where he provides a system for creating a clear and compelling business plan for growth.

I believe business plans are critical to any business — new or old. So, if this book helps those who have been putting off the task because it seems too daunting, read Calhoon’s book.

The 194-page shows business leaders how to write a plan in about one hour so it fits on a single sheet of paper. The plan will include six essential elements:


VisionMissionValuesObjectivesStrategiesPriorities

And, Calhoon teaches you how to write a plan that will engage employees and develop leadership capacity. Calhoon’s system has been used by Kansas City-based companies, such as:


Cruise Holidays of KCJack Stack BarbecueRedemption PlusUnited Heating & Cooling

“Joe Calhoon is an expert at making the growth planning process simple. This book is a must read for every team member where leadership is committed to growth. Now there is…

How Entrepreneurs Can Embrace Risk

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"The unexpected edge for entrepreneurial success starts with identifying a worthy risk, then having the courage to take it," explains Tom Panaggio in his new book, The Risk AdvantageEmbracing the Entrepreneur's Unexpected Edge.

As an entrepreneur and race car driver, Panaggio has learned that you cannot avoid risk if you want to be a winner.
In The Risk Advantage, Panaggio tells the story of how he and his business partners built two thriving companies: Direct Mail Express (which now employs over 400 people and is a leading direct marketing company), and Response Mail Express (which was eventually sold to an equity fund, Huron Capital Partners).
With The Risk Advantage he aims to help entrepreneurs face the many situations, predicaments, and crises they'll encounter during their life, and to help formulate their leadership style and business strategy. When the right opportunities presented themselves, writes Panaggio, he and his business partners were willing to emb…

The New Beta Way To Lead According To Dana Ardi

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It's these chapter headings in the new book, The Fall of the Alphas, that first grabbed my interest:
Corporate AnthropologyPlows and PrimatesBoomers and BonobosInformation Changes EverythingThe Top of a Different PyramidEliminating ElitismManaging EgoIt Takes Two to Beta
Next, it was author Dana Ardi's premise that convinced me to read her book:
“Today’s American corporate world is a tale of two cultures.  One, more traditional and common, is centralized and hierarchical.  I call it Alpha.  The other, smaller and rarer, is decentralized, horizontal, and inclusive.  I call this one Beta,” explains corporate anthropologist Dana Ardi
Drawing on her vast experience as a venture capitalist, organizational design expert, and management consultant, Ardi argues that the future belongs to the Betas.


In her new book, The Fall of the Alphas:  The New Beta Way to Connect, Collaborate, Influence – And Lead, she shows why the Beta model is the key to both business and career success.

With …

How To Master The Art Of Social Selling

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If you are a salesperson or sell a product or service, make, The Art of Social Selling, the next book you read.

Author Belew defines "social selling" as the identification, targeting, and reaching out to prospective and existing customers through social media channels and social communities in an effort to engage them in conversations that result in a potentially mutually beneficial relationship.

Social selling does not replace all other sales and marketing processes.  It simply means adding another tool to your toolkit...and tool, when mastered, will help you find and engage customers on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and other social networks.

If you don't yet believe the power of social selling, consider these stats and realities from Belew's book:

Without social selling, 40 percent of sales teams make less than 80 percent of quota, on average (Xactly research).46 percent of people surveyed in late 2011 turn to social media when making purchasing decisions (Nielsen)Buy…

Leadership Insights From The Third Door's Michael Combest

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"Most companies do not know that the old “selling” game is now obsolete," says Chief Revenue StrategistMichael Combest of The Third Door.

"Our company takes a holistic view of organizations to align the mechanics that create and sustain real competitive advantage for companies from five to 50 million dollars," he adds.

This past week, Michael shared with me his insights about leadership, challenges faced by leader,s and what it means to be a leader.
Question:What is your favorite leadership book and why is it your favorite?Michael:  The Law by Frédéric Bastiat - Without an exposure to the concept of liberty and the affect bad laws have on good people, a prospective leader should not even try to put together an organization, regardless of size. It is important to understand and be inoculated from becoming, supporting or creating rent-seekers in an organization. New wealth creation (these days, “innovation”) has to be the driving force of every business – a relentle…

The Critical First Years Of Your Professional Life

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A lot has happened since 1997 when Robert L. Dilenschneider wrote, The Critical First Years of your Professional Life.  That's why, 17 years later he's just released a new edition of his best-seller.

"The book contains all the lessons you'll need to learn about functioning at work," explains Dilenschneider.   His lessons are based on his four decades of experience in the work world, along with research and dozens of interviews with business experts.

The new edition of the book is particularly relevant today, because, shares Dilenscheider:

Not knowing the ropes puts you at a competitive disadvantage.Times have changed, and there are fewer people in today's workplace willing to help you understand how the world of work operations.Lessons in the book include: You and Your BossesWorking the GrapevineNetworkingMaking Allies of Your EldersImageHaving Influence at Any LevelYour Work and Your Personal LifeAfter a SetbackMentors Former Chariman and CEO of Lockhead Marti…

Is Entitlement Killing Your Business?

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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 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 and 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 interv…

A Good Reason To Begin Volunteering On January 20

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As the nation honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 20, volunteer or make the decision to volunteer in your community. King routinely asked “What are you doing for others,” and January 20th is the ideal day to ask yourself that question.

The federal holiday was first observed 27 years ago and in 1994 Congress designated it as a National Day of Service, inspired by King’s words, “everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”

You can turn to Volunteer Match to find volunteer opportunities right in your neighborhood or nearby surrounding area. Visit the web site, type in your city's name and the types of volunteering opportunities that interest you most, and you will be presented with a variety of organizations seeking volunteers.

And, if you are a leader in the workplace, encourage your employees and team members to volunteer in the community as individuals. Or, organize volunteer afternoons or evenings for your employees.



4 Questions To Ask When An Employee Leaves Your Business

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As a leader, it's critical that you understand the real reasons employees leave your company. To do that, you need to ask specific questions that may not be ones you currently include in your exit interviews.

Fortunately, Richard Finnegan, shares in his book, Rethinking Retention in Good Times and Bad, four key questions you should include in your exit interviews:
Why did you decide to leave us?Of all the things you've told me, what is the top thing that caused you to resign?It's great that you've found such a good opportunity, but why did you look?What one thing could we have done that would have caused you to stay? Your goal is to learn the most important leave reason rather than learn which three or five things contributed to your employee's decision to leave. The four questions above will help you learn the most important reason.

Are You A Good Coach? Or, A Bad Coach? Here's How To Know.

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Former Verizon Wireless CEO, Denny F. Strigl offers these tips for how to be a good coach to an employee.  He explains that good coaches help performers by:
Keeping them focused.Giving them objective, helpful feedback.Acting as a sounding board for new approaches.Identifying blind spots that may be holding the performer back.Reinforcing key values, principles, and behaviors that improve performance.Recognizing positive behavior and performance.Providing encouragement after setbacks and failuresSetting "stretch" goals.Acting as an accountability partner. Strigl believes that some managers fail in their coaching roles because they:
View coaching as babysitting.See coaching as only correcting performance.Don't spend enough time with their employees.Are reluctant to criticize.Have social relationships with their employees.Have a "sink-or-swim" philosophy.Believe coaching is not helpful or meaningful. "Coaching may actually save time by preventing extensive retr…

40 Timeless Lessons From Southwest Airlines

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A few years ago, Southwest Airlines celebrated its 40th year and was kind enough to share in its in-flight magazine 40 lessons it learned since 1971.  The lessons provide good tips for business leaders.

If you missed the full list, here are some of the highlights of timeless lessons:
Invent your own culture and put a top person in charge of itA crisis can contain the germ of a big idea.Simplicity has value.  For Southwest, simplicity means using 737s for most of its fleet, which makes maintenance more cost-effective and allows more efficient training for flight crews and ground crews.Remember your chief mission.Take your business, not yourself, seriously.Put the worker first.  For Southwest, that meant being the first U.S. airline to offer a profit-sharing plan, in 1974.  Employees now own 13 percent of the airline.The web ain't cool, it's a tool.  Southwest was the first U.S. airline to establish a home page.  By 2010, Southwest.com boasted more unique visitors than any ot…

Are You Spinning Your Employees In Circles?

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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 decide.

Successful managers gather the data from their employees, make any truly 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 decisions made at that time for …

Fit At Last Chronicles Leadership Expert Blanchard's Weight Loss Journey

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The new book, Fit at Last - Look and Feel Better Once and for All, co-authored by Ken Blanchard and Tim Kearin traces business author Blanchard's weight-loss journey with fitness expert Kearin, and how finally at the age of 73, Ken dropped over thirty pounds in the course of a single year.

In each chapter, Ken shares the personal ups and downs of his story, relating how anyone can use his Situational Leadership approach to determine their developmental level in each of the fitness areas outlined by Tim. From there, it can be decided what type of leadership someone needs to move to the next level.
Fit at Lastisn't strictly about fitness -- it's about commitment. Given the proper tools, anyone can move from a superficial interest in fitness to creating and maintaining long-term devotion to personal health
Tim recently shared more about the book with me: 
Tim Kearin
Question: What was the most rewarding thing for you as you helped Ken make his impressive transformation?
Tim: Wh…

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 Be Decisive, Find The Truth And Send Thanks

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Today, I share three tips for how to be a more effective leader:

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 …

Ex-Navy SEAL Mark Divine Shares Insights From His Leadership Book, The Way Of The SEAL

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Want to be a leader who is tough? Cool under fire? Able to sense danger before it's too late?  In The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed, ex-Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine reveals exercises, meditations, and focusing techniques to train your mind for mental toughness, emotional resilience, and uncanny intuition.

Along the way, Divine teaches you how to reaffirm your ultimate purpose, define your most important goals, and take concrete steps to make them happen.

A native of Oneida County, New York, Markserved in the U.S. Navy SEALs for 20 years, retiring as a commander, and holds an MBA from New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business. The founder of SEALFITNavySeals.com, and U.S. CrossFit, he has started and led six multimillion­ dollar business ventures.

Having coached thousands of Navy SEAL and other Special Operations candidates with a success rate near 90 percent, Mark now trains the public in the eight Way of the SEAL principl…

Three Quick Tips For How Best To Explain Change

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When you communicate change to your team, explain the logical and the 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.

How To Write Effective Performance Appraisals

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Today's guest post is by:
Peggy Pedwano Solutions Specialist at Halogen Software
As performance appraisal time draws near, managers are all too likely to be dreading the exercise.  According to a  report by the Wharton School, although 91% of companies worldwide have a performance review process, only 35 to 40% do it well, often because managers lack the training to write effective performance appraisals. 

Here are some ideas to help you write effective performance appraisals that can form the basis for a discussion that will actually add value to employee performance reviews.   Begin with a clear understanding of what is important. If you and your employees have set performance goals or established other performance measurement criteria, this should be a relatively easy process. But even if you haven’t, taking the time to think through the year’s priorities and projects will help you focus your appraisal on what matters most. Consider projects where you have been able to observe o…