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Showing posts from June, 2014

My Favorites: Moral Of The Story From Author Harvey Mackay

I'm a big fan of best-selling author  Harvey Mackay .  He writes about business, sales and leadership and typically ends his articles with a moral of the story. Culled from his writings of the past three and half years, here are some of my favorites of his  moral of the story  endings: Change your thinking, change your life. It's not enough to know how to do things - you must know why you do them. If you live in the past, you won't have much of a future. If you want to outsmart the competition, you have to outthink the competition. Don't be afraid to make a decision.  Be afraid not make a decision. What you learn on your first job will last through your last job. Minds are like parachutes - not much good unless they are open. If you can't be an expert, hire one. People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be. It only takes a little spark to ignite a great fire. Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing to do.

Why You Should Interview Job Candidates In Three Different Places

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!

3 Tips For How To Explain Change To Your Employees

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.

Schedule Job Learning Days For Your Employees

Having your employees learn more about what their fellow employees do is invaluable. When everyone knows how each job/position on your team fits together, your team can accomplish so much more. Plus, the new-found knowledge drives a better appreciation for what everyone does, and proves to the team, that  success comes only when all the pieces fit together like a well-oiled machine . So, plan a half day where you pair up employees. Once paired, one employee explains to his (or her) partner what he does in a "typical" day. Allow enough time for sharing samples of his work and for Q&A. Then, it's the second person's turn to share about their " typical " day. If your half day is a morning, suggest the pairs of employees have lunch together, where they can finish by incorporating more discussion about away-from-work hobbies and interests. Schedule your job learning days for once a month and have your employees meet with different partners each tim

The Critical First Years Of Your Professional Life

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 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 Bosses Working the Grapevine Networking Making Allies of Your Elders Image Having Influence at Any Level Your Work and Your Personal Life After a Setback Mentors For

The Power Of "Why Not?"

Early on in Eli Broad's book,  The Art of Being Unresaonable , he reminds us of the power of a child's instinctive asking, " Why not? "  Unfortunately, most adults lose that habit and Broad goes on to explain that it was his continuing to ask "Why not?" throughout his career that brought him success. " The questions you're willing to ask when others think they have all the answers are doors to   discovery ," says Broad. Other words of wisdom from the book, and my favorite takeaways, include : Most successful businesses have to begin by  bucking conventional wisdom .  Invention and innovation don't happen without it. Do your homework  no matter how much time it takes. Big ideas don't happen in a moment . You can't do it all yourself, so  ask questions and delegate . The trick to delegating is to  make sure your employees share your priorities . Find the best people to whom you can  delegate, and know their strength

The Meaning Of Class In A Manager

One of my favorite sections of the book, The First-Time Manager , is the one about  class in a manager : Class is treating people with dignity. Class does not have to be the center of attention. Class does not lose its cool. Class does not rationalize mistakes. Class is good manners. Class means loyalty to one's staff. Class recognizes the best way to build oneself is to first build others. Class leads by example. Class does not taken action when angry. Class is authentic and works hard at making actions consistent with words.

The Compelling Benefits Of Having An Ethical Culture

In  Andrew Leigh's  book,  Ethical Leadership , he provides these  compelling and important benefits  of having an  ethical culture  in your business/organization: Customers prefer dealing with companies who put ethics at the center of their culture. Most employees would prefer to earn less working for an ethical company than being paid more and working for an unethical company. More than one in three people at work say they've left a job because they've disagreed with the company's ethical standards ( Trevino, L and Nelson, K - 2011 ) If you adopt an early warning system against misconduct it reduces the risk of you facing expensive litigation. An ethical culture helps you make your company a strong affirming place to work in. "The foundations of an ethical culture include values, attitudes, meaning, behaviors, purpose, and management practices," explains Leigh.

8 Leadership Quotes From The 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

Wisdom Versus Knowledge

Knowledge is the process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification -- Martin H. Fischer

The 20 Excuses That Stifle New Business Transformation

In their book,  How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things , co-authors Neil Smith and Patricia O'Connell list  20 excuses commonly heard in companies  for reasons why new business transformation ideas are not considered. The authors recommend  eliminating these 20 excuses from your company's vocabulary : Our company is well run; there are no opportunities. We're inefficient, but my department is not the problem. The issue is support function and allocations, not my costs. Our problem is revenues, not how we do things. We have tried that before. We are already doing that. My boss/theCEO/legal will never agree to that. That won't save money or increase revenues. That would cost too much to implement. No one in the industry is doing that. We will lose customers if we do that. Anything that takes time away from serving my customers will hurt us. But we are unique. No one really understands what we do. I don't have time to think about that. We don&#

Integrity In Management Means...

Some words of wisdom from  author Thomas Teal : Integrity in management means : being responsible communicating clearly keeping promises being an honest broker avoiding hidden agendas knowing oneself Great managers serve two masters; one organizational, one moral. Managing is not a series of mechanical tasks but a set of human interactions. One reason for the scarcity of managerial greatness is that in educating and training managers, we focus too much on technical proficiency and too little on character. You can find more advice and expertise from Teal in his book,  First Person: Tales of Management Courage and Tenacity  (Harvard Business School Press, 1996)

How To Respond To A Customer Who Complains

A customer who complains and receives a fast response will actually be more loyal to your company in terms of future sales and referrals than a customer who never complained at all.  That is what author Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy proclaim, and I agree with them. They also say in their book,  Now...Build A Great Business! ,  that: a slow response to a customer complaint triggers fear and ange r. And, when that happens, the customer is afraid that he/she is going to be stuck with a product/service that doesn't work and feels angry that he/she went ahead with the purchase in the first place. So, lead your team to : Respond quickly to customer complaints Refuse to defend or make excuses Offer to make the customer happy immediately Be open and honest Tell the truth and tell it as soon as you know it Bottom-line...assume that anything you do or say will become public knowledge quickly. So,  resolve to build and maintain trust in everything you do .

Think Of Negative Feedback As A Gift

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 recently 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.

How To Avoid Dumb Things

Here are three helpful leadership tips from author  Neil Smith  -- from his book, co-authored with Patricia O'Connell,  How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things : People say they cannot find the time to do things, yet they always find the time to fix things when they break.  Companies need to  create that sense of urgency  before  a problem occurs . People will embrace change if they see the logic behind it .  If they feel they have control over its onset and evolution.  If they see it as nonthreatening and self-esteem enhancing.  And, if the change has the possibility of future benefits to them. Make sure that people are basing their decisions on facts  -- fact-based information should be a company mantra.  Do not accept "I guess" or "I think so."

Author John Jantsch Explains What It Takes To Sell Today

Author John Jantsch flips the usual sales approach on its head in his new book, Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar . Today's sales superstars must attract, teach, convert, serve, and measure while developing a personal brand that stands for trust and expertise. According to Jantsch: Listening is the new prospecting. Educating is the new presenting. Insight is the new information sharing. Story building is the new nurturing. Value is the new closing. This week, Jantsch shared with me these additional insights about his book and selling: 1.  What will it take for a salesperson who has been selling the "old school" way for 15-plus years to master the new "Duct Tape Selling" style? Jantsch :  Confidence that it's worth the work - Duct Tape Selling takes commitment and hard work to pay off, but that's what it takes to become a superstar salesperson. 2.  What is the meaning of the book title, Duct Tape S

Today's Leadership Thought

A good reminder from a former mayor of Kansas City, Kansas: " If you haven't done anything for someone else today, you haven't done anything for yourself" - Joe Steineger, Farmer and Former Mayor, Kansas City, Kansas.

How To Rank-Order Priorities To Motivate Employees

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

6 No-Cost Ways To Create A Best-Place-To-Work Company

I had the pleasure of interviewing Leigh Branham over the past few years.  He's the author of the popular book called,  The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave , and he's the owner of the Overland Park, KS-based business called  Keeping The People . He told me that in research that he has done about the leaders of companies that have won " Best-Place-To-Work " competitions in 45 U.S. cities, that there are  six things these effective leaders do that don't cost money .  They do, however, cost time and effort.  But, that is time and effort that can pay big dividends. Here are the six things you can do : Make the commitment to create a great place to work. Inspire employee confidence in decisions and clear business direction Work to build trust based on honesty and integrity Practice open, two-way communication, especially in times of uncertainty Look out for the organization before you look out for yourself Believe employees should be dev

Questions To Ask To Move Your Company Forward

In the  April 2014 issue of  Inc .  magazine , you'll find a list of  35 questions  from business owners, entrepreneurs and management thinkers.  Each offered the question they would ask to move a company forward. From the list,  my favorites are : Are we relevant?  Will we be relevant five years from now? Ten? What prevents me from making the changes I know will make me a more effective leader? Are we changing as fast as the world around us? Who, on the executive team or the board, has spoken to a customer recently? And, my most favorite is : How can we become the company that would put us out of business? What question do you ask to help move your company forward?

10 Ways To Make Your Virtual Meetings More Successful

Business leaders and employees are holding  virtual meetings  more than ever. Despite the cost-saving and other advantages, virtual meetings versus in-person meetings have their challenges. One of the largest is because participants cannot bond in the same way as they do when they are sitting across the table from one another. In the book,  The Collaboration Imperative , co-authors Ron Ricci and Carl Wiese, recommend you follow these  10 tips for making your virtual meeting successful , particularly when you are leading the meeting: Before the meeting, make sure attendees have all the preparation materials they will need and the time to review them. Begin with a quick warm-up. For example, start the meeting by asking remote attendees to describe what's happening in their office, town or city. During "blended" meetings, where some attendees are gathering in person and others are participating virtually, address remote attendees first and then offer the opportunity

How To Make Transparent Decisions

According to  The Collaboration Imperative  co-authors Ron Ricci and Carl Wiese,  transparent decision making  requires that all stakeholders know the answers to these  three questions : Who is making the decision? Who is accountable for the outcomes of the decision? What are the consequences--positive or negative--of that accountability?

Seven Facts Of Business Life

The fact is, if you are a budding entrepreneur, future business owner, or relatively “green” business owner, you need to read,  The Facts of Business Life , by Bill McBean. Because, in his book, McBean, a successful businessman with four decades of ownership experience, explains the essential  Seven Facts of Business Life  and the  Five Levels of Business Success . Being a successful business owner means more than knowing one’s industry and understanding the basic concepts of leadership, management, or motivation, according to McBean. It means being able to master many areas of business, and knowing how each of these areas relates to and build on each other. It also means understanding how those areas change as a business goes through its  inevitable life cycle , and  how the owner must be prepared to change with them . Fortunately,  The Facts of Business Life  provides readers with the means of achieving the kind of long-term understanding that is the key to true and lastin

Help Your Employees Learn From Their Mistakes

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 w

Avoid These Mission And Strategy Mistakes

In  Leading Change, Step-By-Step , author  Jody Spiro  describes  three common mistakes leaders should avoid . Those are: Thinking That a Mission is Developed by a Single Leader --  Spiro explains that in order to have buy-in from across the organization, the creation of a mission requires negotiation and  genuine  input from across the organization.  And that means a leader needs to be a good, active listener. Addressing Too Much in a Single Strategy; Inability to Say "No"  -- According to Spiro, leaders should avoid the temptation to "pack" a given strategy with several other strategies.  Instead, you should be selective and narrow the strategy to a single thought that furthers your mission and is a niche where you can have a competitive advantage or offer a unique program or service. Confusing Strategies with Actions  -- Both strategies and actions specify something that will be done. But, as Spiro explains, actions are more specific and concrete.  The st

The Life And Business Lessons My Father Taught Me

My father passed away just about 13 years ago.  A week before my parent's 50th wedding anniversary.  A few weeks prior to 9/11.  That time is still a blur to me.  But, what my father taught me has served me well in business and in life.  Long before his death and still today. On this Father's Day , I thank my dad for teaching me the following  business and life lessons : Listen - Growing up, I thought my Dad was perhaps shy or quiet.  Really, he was just a great listener.  I believe that's what made him so wise.  He would listen to anyone.  Young or old.  New acquaintance or friend. Provide - My Dad provided for me.  Music lessons. Vacations. Summer camp. Boy Scouts.  He gave.  He put others' needs first.  Today, I find in volunteering likely the same satisfaction he felt when he provided. Educate - My Dad's passion was education.  He loved to learn.  He loved even more to teach.  He lived to help other people learn.  In the workplace, providing learn

Powerful Life Lessons From Maya Angelou

A co-worker shared with me the other day the following powerful quote from the late Maya Angelou .  I'll read this often and do my best to follow her advice. “I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life." I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decisio

Highlights From, The Art Of Being Unreasonable

Early on in Eli Broad's book,  The Art of Being Unresaonable , he reminds us of the power of a child's instinctive asking, " Why not? "  Unfortunately, most adults lose that habit and Broad goes on to explain that it was his continuing to ask "Why not?" throughout his career that brought him success. " The questions you're willing to ask when others think they have all the answers are doors to   discovery ," says Broad. Other words of wisdom from the book, and my favorite takeaways, include : Most successful businesses have to begin by  bucking conventional wisdom .  Invention and innovation don't happen without it. Do your homework  no matter how much time it takes. Big ideas don't happen in a moment . You can't do it all yourself, so  ask questions and delegate . The trick to delegating is to  make sure your employees share your priorities . Find the best people to whom you can  delegate, and know their strengths an

The 7 Roles Of A Collaborative Leader

Edward M. Marshall's book,  Transforming The Way We Work -- The Power Of The Collaborative Workplace , remains relevant today, more than a decade after Marshall wrote it. Particularly useful is the book's section that teaches readers how to be a collaborative leader. Marshall says that there are  seven different, important roles and responsibilities of collaborative leaders when leading teams , and those leaders should select the appropriate style to meet the team's needs. The seven roles are : The leader as sponsor  -- You provide strategic direction, boundaries and coaching for the team. You also monitor progress and ensure integrity in the team's operating processes. The leader as facilitator  -- You ensure that meetings, team dynamics, and interpersonal relationships function effectively. You also ensure internal coordination of activities among team members. The leader as coach  -- You provide support and guidance and you serve as a sounding board. The

7 Keys For Achieving Business Success

When you start reading Mark Thompson’s and Brian Tracy’s latest book called,  Now…Build a Great Business! , you may feel like you are reading 200 pages of Blog posts, but the bite-sized approach to providing tools, practical steps and ideas, rather than theory, is precisely the authors’ intended approach. The book thoroughly explains the  seven keys for how to achieve business success : 1.  Become a great leader 2.  Develop a great business plan 3.  Surround yourself with great people 4.  Offer a great product or service 5.  Design a great marketing plan 6.  Perfect a great sales process 7.  Create a great customer experience You’ll find a checklist at the end of each step (each chapter) where you can write down your action plan for applying what you’ve learned. Particularly interesting is the chapter on  strategic planning , where the authors recommend you should  ask yourself these important questions before you act to create or reinvent the direction of your organiza

How To Clarify Inconsistencies With An Employee

If you’re having a difficult time clarifying inconsistencies you are hearing from an employee about a project’s/task’s progress, try asking these questions (or making these statements) the next time you meet with the employee: •  Here’s what I see. Here’s what I hear you saying. •  Here’s what we know so far. •  So let’s see if I’m on track with you… •  Let’s see where we are… •  How about we step back from a moment and look at a few different ideas… •  Did I hear you correctly when you said…? •  Am I missing something here? Always be sure you’re on the same page and have the same understanding of the progress being made with your employee’s projects. Thanks to Jane Murphy for these tips from her book,  What Could Happen If You Do Nothing .

10 Ways To Help Your Employees Know More, Care More, And Do The Right Things

Here are 10 tips for how to maximize employee involvement : Have active ways to listen to your employees. Check often with employees to see if the information you are sharing with them is what they need and what they want. Share information about customer satisfaction with employees. Discuss financial performance with your employees and be sure everyone understands the importance of profitability and how they can contribute to profitability. Allow ad hoc teams among employees to form to address organizational problems and work with those teams to tackle the identified issues. Encourage employees to make suggestions for improvement whether those ideas are large or small. Take an idea from one employee and share it with other employees and teams and let everyone make a contribution to build upon that idea. Train! For long-term employees, find ways to keep their jobs interesting through new assignments and challenges. Conduct meetings around specific issues and brainstorm so

5 Most Important Traits Of An Effective Leader

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 competiti

Send Handwritten Thank You Notes To Employees

Nearly all employees want to do both a good job and please their supervisor. When they succeed, send them a thank you for a job well done. A short note (handwritten is particularly good ) thanking them for a good job is extremely powerful. Particularly for new employees on your team. Or, for employees new to the workforce and early in their careers. Include in your note a sentence regarding what they did especially well and how their specific action made a  positive  impact. Remember, be as specific as possible in what you write. Be sure to send your note soon after the job was completed. If you wait too long (more than a week), the note will lose its impact. Send your note in a way it can be easily saved by your employee. Even employees who have been on your team for a long time will likely save your note. I still have 25-year-old memorable thank you notes in a file. Finally, reserve your sending thank you notes for the big jobs, large projects, extra special work. If you

The Top 20 Leadership Books For A New Manager

A couple years ago, I posted the question “ What’s The First Leadership Book You Would Give To A New Manager ?” within the discussion forum for the LinkedIn group  Linked 2 Leadership . That question generated 603 comments.  Some people suggested more than one book.   The book suggestions remain important recommendations even today. So, here were the results : ·      412 different/unique books were recommended ·      The Top 20 recommended books, collectively, received 250 of the total recommendations ·      Two authors –  Stephen R. Covey  and  John C. Maxwell  each have two books in the Top 20 ·      Group members recommended other things instead of giving a book about leadership to a new manager, such as: o     Interviewing everyone in the company with whom they will directly work o     Giving a book about  management  first o     Mentoring the person for a period of time before recommending a leadership book   And, unlike a question about “What is Yo

What We Can Learn From Serial Entrepreneurs

According to Paul B. Brown , author of the new book, Own Your Future , the people who are best at dealing with uncertainty are serial entrepreneurs . He explains that there is nothing more uncertain than starting a new business and serial entrepreneurs are masters at it. Serial entrepreneurs always take the same approach when dealing with the unknown.  They figure out what they want, take a small step toward it, see what they learned from taking that small step, and build off that learning.

Think Like An Elite Warrior To Lead And Succeed

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, Mark   served 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  SEALFIT , , 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