Skip to main content


Showing posts from May, 2014

7 Honest-Feedback-Extracting-Questions To Ask When Hiring

Awhile ago, the  Harvard Business Review  published some great questions that  Gilt Groupe  CEO Kevin Ryan asks when he is checking references. Ryan serves on the board of Yale Corporation, Human Rights Watch, and  INSEAD , and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  He holds a B.A. from Yale University and a M.B.A from INSEAD. His main seven honest-feedback-extracting-questions  (and follow-ups) are: Would you hire this person again?  If so, why and in what capacity?  If not, why not? How would you describe the candidate's ability to innovate, manage, lead, deal with ambiguity, get things done and influence others? What were some of the best things this person accomplished?  What could he or she have done better? In what type of culture, environment, and role can you see this person excelling?  In what type of role is he or she unlikely to be successful? Would you describe the candidate as a leader, a strategist, an executor, a collaborator, a thinker, or

How To Think Outside The Box

Here is a tip for how to think outside the box.  Thanks to Michael Kallet , author of, Think Smarter: Critical Thinking to Improve Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills . To think outside the box, you have to acknowledge that the box is bound by your premise.  You therefore have to push the box's sides and premise components to think outside of that.  Use what if and what other to push on those boundaries and discover new ideas.

How To Practice SPARK Leadership

You practice  SPARK  leadership if you: S hare Information P lay to Strengths A sk for Input and Appreciate Different Ideas R ecognize and Respond to Individual Needs K eep 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 .

7 Tips For Setting Goals

Awhile back,  I wrote about goals  and the importance of having a plan in place to reach your goals. Today, I remembered reading these additional goal-setting tips from two-time U.S. Olympian  Alan  Culpepper  from the November 2013 issue of  Competitor  magazine. Here are his seven tips for setting goals, whether are your workplace or away-from-work goals: Be clear and specific about what it is you are trying to accomplish. Set intermediate goals that complement a long-term goal. Shoot high, but recognize the importance of a natural progression. Write your goals down. Review your goals periodically. Remind yourself often why you are working on your goal. And, remember even if you don't hit your goal, there is satisfaction the process.

The 10 Characteristics Of High-Performing Teams

According to Ron Ricci and Carl Wiese , authors of the book,  The Collaboration Imperative , high-performing teams have the following characteristics: People have solid and deep trust in each other and in the team's purpose--they feel free to express feelings and ideas. Everybody is working toward the same goals. Team members are clear on how to work together and how to accomplish tasks. Everyone understands both team and individual performance goals and knows what is expected. Team members actively diffuse tension and friction in a relaxed and informal atmosphere. The team engages in extensive discussion, and everyone gets a chance to contribute--even the introverts. Disagreement is viewed as a good thing and conflicts are managed.  Criticism is constructive and is oriented toward problem solving and removing obstacles. The team makes decisions when there is natural agreement--in the cases where agreement is elusive, a decision is made by the team lead or executive sp

Risk Advantage - The Relationship Between Opportunity And Risk

"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 Advantage :  Embracing 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

The Three Rules Of Exceptional Companies

Findings from  Deloitte Consulting , as highlighted in its infographic advertisement in the March 2014 issue of  The Atlantic  magazine caught my attention the other day. Using 45 years of data from more than 25,000 companies , Deloitte Consulting says that 174 exceptional companies stood out from the rest of the pack (344 statistically qualified as "exceptional"). The success of these exceptional companies appeared to depend on a  commitment to three rules  that govern how exceptional companies think -- under any circumstances. Those  three rules  are : Better Before Cheaper  - Be known for high quality, not lower prices. Revenue Before Cost  - Higher revenue is worth more than lower cost. There Are No Other Rules  - Make every other choice based on the first two rules.

How To Build A Culture To Foster Creativity

Here are some great tips and guiding principles for how a manager and leader can build a culture to foster creativity . Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better. If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead. It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them. The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them. A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody. Do not assume that general agreement will lead to change—it takes substantial energy to move a group, even when all are on board. Thanks author Ed Catmull for these tips and great new book, Creativity, Inc.

Interview With Ryan Holiday, Author Of, The Obstacle Is The Way

Ryan Holiday 's newest book is, The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage . Deeply influenced by the Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius , and ancient Stoic principles , Holiday shows leaders how to turn setbacks or problems into a platform for achieving goals by controlling perceptions through swift and energetic action and true force of will. "Great individuals, like great companies, find a way to transform weakness into strength," explains Holiday. Recently, Holiday shared insights into his book with me.  But first some background. Holiday is a prominent writer on strategy and business, and author of,  Trust Me, I'm Lying . After dropping out of college at 19, he apprenticed under Robert Green e, author of,  The 48 Laws of Power . In The Obstacle is the Way , Holiday pulls from stories throughout history, illustrating how icons such as John D. Rockefeller, Amelia Earhart, Abraham Lincoln and Steve Jobs took what ap

Change Is Inevitable. Change Is Good. Embrace Change.

Change is inevitable. Change is good.  Help your employees and team learn to embrace change. Here are some solid insights from  Dr. Rodger Dean Duncan 's (Liberty, Missouri) book,  Change-friendly Leadership -- How to Transform Good Intentions into  Great Performance : The kind of behavior change that results in lasting (sustainable) change must accommodate people's feelings--feelings that involve trust, confidence, passion, and all those other intangible but very real things that make us human. It's often the stress that people resist, not the change itself. Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights ( Pauline R. Kezer ). A transformational leader focuses primarily on initiating and "managing" change.  He/she influences people to improve, to stretch, and to redefine what's possible. It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive t

Get Your Copy Of, Against The Grain

A couple weeks ago, I posted a review and highlights reca p of the new book, Against the Grain:  A Coach's Wisdom on Character, Faith, Family and Love . Fortunately, I have four copies of the book that I am eager to share with four of my Blog  followers. Because I'll cover the shipping cost, I'll  send the book (free of charge) to the first four people who provide their Twitter handle within a comment to this post.   I'll reach out to you then to arrange shipping instructions. This is a great book...a good one to add to your summer reading list.

How To Get Your Leader On Board With Internal Communication

The person I turn to for effective communication advice, David Grossman, has released a new eBook called, Top 10 Barriers Communicators Face:  How to Get Your Leader on Board with Internal Communication . "Today, the savviest executives are realizing the power and potential of communication to drive results.  Smart leaders know they need to connect the dots differently than before," explains David. This free eBook helps communication professionals recognize the 10 most common barriers to effective communication that leaders construct .  It reveals what communicators can say to their leaders to help guide their thinking and offers a host of actionable tips for moving leaders past these barriers, including what to say and what to do. The ebook teaches how to break barriers from leaders who are: Scattered; communicate reactively Trapped in the tactical Not engaged in communication planning Don’t value communication Providing you limited access to hi

All The Times When You Should Thank A Customer

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 suggestions When they try one of your new products or services When they recommend you to a friend When they are patient...and even when they are not so patient When they help you to serve them better When they complain to you When they make you smile You and your team members can say "Thank You" : Verbally In writing  (and don't underestimate the power of  pers

Powerful Quotes From Mark Goulston's Book, Just Listen

Here are some terrific quotes from Mark Goulston's book,   Just Listen : Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. -- Paul Hawken Life is mostly a matter of perception and more often misperception. -- Dave Logan Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their next saying, "Make me feel important." -- Mary Kay Ash Do the unexpected. The expected is boring.  The expected is tuned out. -- Steve Strauss Humility is the surest sign of strength. -- Thomas Merton Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. -- Bill Gates The secret of getting ahead is getting started. -- Agatha Chrisie Don't find fault.  Find a remedy. -- Henry Ford

Leadership Quotes From The Book, Manager 3.0

These  five quotes  from the book,  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 Traini

Corporate Culture And Changing Behavior

I've found this advice from authors  Neil Smith  and  Patricia O'Connnell  ( How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things ) to be particularly helpful when it comes to  corporate culture  and  changing behavior : Corporate culture is an interlocking series of expectations, rituals, and habits maintained by peer influence and rewarding adherence. To change the way people do things, first you must convince them of the value of change. This is done most effectively by showing them the potential rewards for the new behavior. However, since the rewards are often in the future while the pain  of change is immediate, the rewards have to be clearly articulated to serve as motivation. Smith and O'Connell go on to explain that: Given the importance of peer influence, people need to perceive that respected peers are adopting change . The reason...because according to their cited research: 3 percent of the population tends to be innovators of change 9 percent are ear

How CEO Communication Shapes Financial Performance

Communications expert David Grossman of  Your Thought Partner  has published a 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

How To Apologize

One of the most difficult words for anyone, leaders included, to say is, " sorry ." Yet, the time will likely come when that's the word you need to say.  Research shows that apologizing in a heartfelt way can help you reduce stress and alleviate guilt. In the position of needing to apologize?  Do this: Apologize immediately.  Say you are sorry. Take responsibility for the situation. Acknowledge the offense. Ask forgiveness with a promise that it won't happen again. Offer restitution whenever possible. And, should your apology go unaccepted, most experts say forgive yourself and move on. Note:  Thanks to St. Joseph Medical Center in Kansas City, MO for this sound advice.

BRAVE Leadership

The  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 c

6 Maxims For Leaders

I so appreciate this advice from  William Arthur Ward , one of America's most quoted writers of inspirational maxims: Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair:  be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work.

6 Ways To Get Effective Feedback To Guide Your Career

Getting feedback is an important way to improve performance at work. But sometimes, it can be hard to seek out, and even harder to hear.  “Feedback is all around you. Your job is to find it, both through asking directly and observing it,” says David L. Van Rooy, author of the new book,  Trajectory: 7 Career Strategies to Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be . As today's guest post, Van Rooy offers these  six tips for how to get the feedback you need to improve performance at work . Guest Post By David L. Van Rooy 1.      Don’t forget to as k :  One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming things are going perfectly (until they make a catastrophic mistake). By not asking, you’re missing out on opportunities for deep feedback: the difficult, critical feedback that gives you constructive ways to improve. 2.      Make sure you listen :  Remember, getting feedback is about improving your performance, not turning it into a “you versus them”

Today's Leadership Thought

Coach Bill Courtney Tells Powerful Stories And Shares Insightful Leadership Lessons

Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to communicate. And, football coach Bill Courtney tells many compelling stories in his new book, Against The Grain . Courtney coached the Manassas High School football team in Memphis, TN.  The 2011 Oscar-winning documentary, Undefeated , (Best Documentary Feature) tells his story of how he inspired his teams on and off the field.  And, about the hard-won lessons on discipline, success, teamwork, and triumph over adversity. Today, he is a volunteer football coach and operator of Classic American Hardwood s, a $40 million lumber company and 2013 inductee into the prestigious Society of Entrepreneurs . In his book (May 13 release date), he shares his convictions on the fundamental tenets of: character commitment service leadership civility Each chapter tells the story of one of these tenets through compelling anecdotes of various characters in Courtney's life and career. For me, each story and chapter gave me the

Marcus Buckingham On Effective Teams

I'm a big fan of  Marcus Buckingham  and his case for leveraging each person's individual strengths. In the above video, he speaks about the power of effective teams (where each team member plays to his or her strengths) and makes that case that the experience of a team always trumps the experience of the company. Buckingham broke the bestseller lists in 1999 with  First, Break All the Rules  and then went on to  co-author  Now, Discover Your Strengths , where he helped create  StrengthsFinder , the personal assessment tool that gives each person a vocabulary to positively describe their ingrained talents. His project,  StandOut , is a book and strengths assessment combination that uses a new research methodology to reveal your top two "strength Roles" — your areas of  comparative advantage . StandOut  goes beyond description to give people practical innovations that fit their strengths, and provide managers with quick insights on how to get the best

25 Ways To Be A Better Leader

If you don't have time to read a book about how to improve your leadership skills, tackle a handful of these tips, complied from the works of many authors: Don't micromanage Don't be a bottleneck Focus on outcomes, not minutiae Build trust with your colleagues before a crisis comes Assess your company's strengths and weaknesses at all times Conduct annual risk reviews Talk about values more than rules Reward how a performance is achieved and not only the performance Constantly challenge your team to do better Celebrate your employees' successes, not your own Err on the side of taking action Communicate clearly and often Be visible Eliminate the cause of a mistake View every problem as an opportunity to grow Summarize group consensus after each decision point during a meeting Praise when compliments are earned Be decisive Say "thank you" and sincerely mean it Send written thank you notes Listen carefully and don't multi-task wh

How To Become A Stronger Career Mentor

Author Paul Falcone offers the following great advice for how to become a stronger career mentor and coach by helping your subordinates grow and develop in their own careers. Encourage others to engage in random acts of kindness. Find creative ways of surprising your customers. Focus on making bad relationships good and good relationships better. Look for new ways of reinventing the workflow in light of your company's changing needs. Think relationship first, transaction second. Realize that people can tell more about you by the depth of your questions than by the quality of your statements. Separate the people from the problem. Always provide two solutions for each question you ask or suggestion you raise. Employ right-brain imagination, artistry, and intuition plus left-brain logic and planning. And, one of my favorite pieces of advice from Falcone: Convert "yes...but:" to "yes...and" statements to acknowledge the speaker's point of

Tips For Better Hiring

Here are some great tips for how to get good at hiring from the May issue of Inc . magazine : Identify your star employees and use their characteristics as a guideline for your next hires. Hire people for their potential . Don't focus so much on resumes.  Otherwise, you may get someone who fulfills your current requirements but isn't able to meet your company's future needs. Go for quality .  Hire fewer employees but of a higher caliber. Carefully define the role .  Be specific about what you need.

Goals For A Nonprofit Fundraising And Development Executive

If you are stumped for how to write performance appraisal goals for a particular title and role in your organization, buy Paul Falcone 's book, 2,600 Phrases for Setting Effective Performance Goals . Falcone devotes about a third of the 200-page book to lists of goals for all types of titles and roles in a variety for organizations and companies -- including, this list of performance appraisal goals for a nonprofit fundraiser and development executive : Develop effective strategies for donor engagement and the solicitation of top prospects. Research, identify, and cultivate individual, corporate, and foundation donors. Devise and implement strategies for donor cultivation. Drive the necessary development efforts to meet the organization's annual revenue goals. Create and manage a portfolio with an emphasis on corporations and individual giving. Develop strategies to approach large multinational corporations regarding national gifts. Maximize opportunities for c

How To Flag To Communicate More Effectively

Author Joseph McCormack explains the power of flagging in his new book, Brief. Flagging is simply calling out the number of key ideas you want to share .  This is a powerful way to grab and hold people's attention.  The three reasons flagging is so effective are: Establish logic and simplicity .  It makes it easier for both you and your audience to stay on track. Provide balance and order .  There is a clear expectation of how much your audience needs to listen and how you are progressing. Keep the audience connected .  The audience stays engaged because they know where they are, like chapters in a book.

How To Write Anything

Ever wondered about the do's and don'ts of writing a: Business Apology Letter of Recommendation Job Advertisement Interview Follow-up Press Release Executive Summary Collection Letter Resignation Letter ...then, the new book, How To Write Anything: A Complete Guide  is for you. This 596-page book not only provides you examples and templates for all types of writing you do at work, but also, and most important, provides you do's and don'ts for each writing situation. Author Laura Brown provides 200 how-to entries and easy-to-use models organized into three comprehensive sections on writing for: Work School (research paper, book review, internship letter) Your Personal Life (i.e. get-well note, baby shower invitation, complaint letter) Best of all, her advice is Internet-savvy, because she provides you advice for choosing the most appropriate medium for your message:  email or pen and paper. Brown has more than 25 years' expe

The Six Universal Drivers To Maximize Employee Engagement

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 Leaders Effective Managers Who Keep Employees Aligned and Engaged Effective Teamwork at All Levels Job Enrichment and Professional Growth Valuing Employee Contributions Concern 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 .

Leading Business Transformation That Lasts

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)

John C. Maxwell Leadership & Communication Quotes

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