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Showing posts from August, 2014

How To Assess Your Business' Risks Using The 5Cs

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Within the first 100 days as a new leader in an organization, you'll want to assess your organization's risk.

Authors George Bradt, Jayme A. Clark and Jorge Pedraza, in their book, The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan (third edition), recommend you do your assessment using the 5Cs:
Customers: First line, customer chain, end users, influencersCollaborators: Suppliers, allies, government/community leadersCapabilities: Human, operational, financial, technical, key assetsCompetitors: Direct, indirect, potentialConditions: Social/demographic, political/government/regulatory, economic, market Use a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) as you examine each category if that helps.

10 Best Quotes From The 5 Levels Of Leadership

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

Tell A Story To Share Your Vision

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"Most leaders' visions fail, not due to a leader's inadequacies, but due to the leader's lack of communication," said Margaret Reynolds of Reynolds Consulting, LLC in Lee's Summit, MO.  Reynolds shared her expertise with me awhile back during an interview.

She added that it's not that leaders don't communicate, but that they don't beat the drum regularly enough. "Leaders need to communicate often, regularly and consistently," she recommended.

"In terms of how to communicate so people get it, it is pretty widely accepted that story telling is the most effective," explained Reynolds.  Leaders need to paint a vision where people see it often.  She recommends that leaders share their vision at least seven to 10 times with their employees, and to make it clear to everyone what specifically each person can do each day to help achieve the collective mission.

Reynolds' other advice to leaders is to be one whom:
listens with respect…

Don't Forget Your Middle-Layer Employees

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As a leader, your focus may gravitate toward your lower level employees and your higher level employees on your team.

But, don't forget your middle-layer employees who appreciate your attention and coaching, and your training and opportunities for new challenges.

Often these employees are more eager to learn and to tackle new projects because they have the drive to move up and to learn new skills. And they recognize they have a shorter path to achieve advancement.

So, develop your middle layer employees. It's a win-win situation.

The Leadership Test

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One of my favorite books about leadership is The Leadership Test by Timothy R. Clark.  You can read it in an hour and its message will guide you through your entire career.

Here are some important points from the book that are particularly powerful:
Leadership is the process of influencing volunteers to accomplish good things.The spectrum of influence ranges from manipulation to persuasion to coercion.Only persuasion is leadership.  Manipulation exploits.  Coercion controls.  Neither manipulation nor coercion can produce lasting results or consistent good results.Leadership is based on the influence-through-persuasion at the front end, combined with accountability at the back end. Clark further points out that:
Leaders qualify themselves based on the manner of their influence and the nature of their intent. If you haven't read this gem of a book, pick up at copy today.

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 2013 started, I set a goal of running in 30 5K races during the year.  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 in October of that year.

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.

Also last year, my then 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 day I finished my 30th 5K race, a proud fellow racer sh…

Business Transformation Only Happens When Employees Equate Change With Deep Personal Growth

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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…

4 Ways To Run A Better Meeting

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Research shows that unfortunately, many workplace meetings are not nearly as productive as they could be.

To help ensure the meetings you host are productive, lead them by:

Observing nonverbal feedback and encouraging everyone to participate.Summarizing group consensus after each point.Reminding the group who is responsible for taking care of each follow-up action.Encouraging team-building, networking and problem-solving among your meeting participants.

Try These "Best Companies" Programs To Attract And Retain Employees

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Here are some of the things the companies often ranked as "best companies" by leading industry magazines do to attract and retain employees.  Many of these programs and activities take little to no investment.  But, they all can only happen when there's strong leadership at the company's helm.

Try some of these in your workplace this year:
Mentoring programs, especially for new employeesVolunteer opportunities/daysLunches with the CEO or presidentOn-site wellness fairsPep ralliesTelecommuting programsSummer picnics for employees and their familiesRetention bonusesLending librariesUnlimited sick daysEmployee team sports after hours, such as bowling and baseballOn-site child care servicesAwarding vacation time in exchange for community volunteering timeEmployee pot-luck breakfastsMonthly birthday partiesOn-site fitness equipmentFrequent town hall meetings with upper managementSubsidized gym membershipsLeadership development programsTime given to employees to spend on w…

7 Ways To Achieve Business Success

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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 organization:

•  Where are yo…

How To Make Your Email Communication More Effective

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Author Joseph McCormack offers these six tips for ways of making your written communication shorter and more appealing:
Deliver a strong title or subject line that's your invitation.Limit your email to the original window.Make sure there is white space and balance throughout the text.Call out key ideas by calling them out in bold type.Start each bullet point with a strong word or catchy phrase.Trim the fluff -- anything that's unnecessary, leaving a consumable and concise size communication You can learn more helpful tips in his new book, Brief:  Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less.


Make It A Habit To Ask Your Employees These 6 Questions

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As explained in John Baldoni's, book, Lead With Purpose, Marshall Goldsmith suggests all leaders make it a habit to regularly ask their employees these six questions:

Where do you think we should be going?Where do you think you and your part of the business should be going?What do you think you're doing well?If you were the leader, what ideas would you have for you?How can I help?What suggestions or ideas do you have for me?

The Three Pillars Of Executive Presence

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After two years of research, forty focus groups and a national survey, author Sylvia Ann Hewlett contends the three pillars of Executive Presence are:

How you act (gravitas)How you speak (communication)How you look (appearance) All three work together to help you telegraph (signal) to others that you have what it takes and that you're star material.  
"One thing to note at the start is that these pillars are not equally important--not by a long shot," explains Hewlett.  "Gravitas is the core characteristic."
And according to the senior leaders that Hewlett researched the top aspects of  gravitas are: Confidence and "grace under fire"Decisiveness and "showing teeth"Integrity and "speaking truth to power"Emotional intelligenceReputation and standing/"pedigree"Vision/charisma In her new book, Executive Presence, she teaches how to act, communicate and look your best while avoiding the most common blunders in each of these thr…

How To Understand Cultural Differences To Drive Business Success

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"The way we are conditioned to see the world in our own culture seems so completely obvious and commonplace that it is difficult to imagine that another culture might do things differently, "says author Erin Meyer.  "It is only when you start to identify what is typical in your culture, but different from others, that you can begin to open a dialogue of sharing, learning, and ultimately understanding."

And, that's why Meyer wrote her new book, The Culture Map.

It's a fascinating read.  And, one that should be required reading for any leader doing business globally or leading a culturally diverse workforce.

Meyer explains in her book that there are eight scales (the Culture Map), each of which represents one key area that leaders must be aware of, showing how cultures vary along a spectrum from one extreme to its opposite.  The eight scales are:

Communicating:  low-context vs. high-contextEvaluating:  direct negative feedback vs. indirect negative feedbackPe…

Classical Wisdom For Modern Leaders

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Mark your calendars now to check out the November 2014 release of, The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership:  Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders.

You'll step back in time to learn philosophies of the past and how to apply them today.

Authors M. A. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas offer a fresh approach to becoming a great leader by learning from antiquity's great thinkers, such as Aristotle, Hesiod, Sophocles, Heraclitus, and others.

Each chapter in the book is devoted to one philosophy of leadership that equate to ten simple rules:

Know ThyselfOffice Shows the PersonNurture Community at the WorkplaceDo Not Waste Energy on things You Cannot ChangeAlways Embrace the TruthLive Life by a Higher CodeAlways Evaluate Information with a Critical EyeNever Underestimate the Power of Personal IntegrityCharacter is Destiny You'll learn how to take each idea and apply it to the challenges of the modern workplace.
According to the authors, the key distinguishing features of an authentic lea…

4 Ways To Make Your Executive Coaching Experience A Success

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If you are a leader already engaging with an executive coach, or contemplating engaging one, here are four ways to make your coaching experience a success, as reported in a relatively recent issue of Fortune magazine:
Find the right match. Find someone to push and challenge you. To encourage you and to hold you accountable. Be sure the person you engage with is a person you can trust and can talk to easily.Be aware of your company's expectations. If your boss hired the coach to work with you, make sure your boss, and your boss's boss, share their expectations and hoped-for outcomes with you. Then, make sure your coach knows that those things belong at the top of your goals list.Get your money's worth. Work with your coach on issues or questions that have a direct correlation to success in your job.Be sure your coach sees you in action. Allow your coach to observe you interacting with your peers or direct reports. This also gives your colleagues a sense that you're seen…

A Mission Versus A Vision

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Here's a good definition of the difference between a mission and a vision by leadership book authors George Bradt, Jayme A. Check and Jorge Pedraza:
Mission - A mission guides what people do every day. It informs what roles need to exist in the organization.Vision - A vision is the picture of future success. It helps define areas where the organization needs to be best in class and helps keep everyone aware of the essence of the company.

5 Traits Of An Effective Leader

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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…

Are You A SPARK Leader?

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You practice SPARK leadership if you:
Share InformationPlay to StrengthsAsk for Input and Appreciate Different IdeasRecognize and Respond to Individual NeedsKeep Your Commitments A great reminder from the President and CEO of American Management Association, Edward T. Reilly.  You'll find more good advice in his new book, AMA Business Boot Camp.

The Power Of Teamwork

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Leadership Quotes From The 5 Levels Of Leadership

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

4 Ways To Lead A Successful Business Operation

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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!

10 Characteristics Of High-Performing Teams

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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 sponsor, after which lit…

10 Most Common Barriers To Effective Communication

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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 reactivelyTrapped in the tacticalNot engaged in communication planningDon’t value communicationProviding you limited access to him or herThanks David, for another gre…

13-point Checklist To Evaluate Your Call Center's Customer Service

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Every business leader should periodically call his/her company to observe how their customers are being treated by their employees -- because, all too often a phone conversation becomes a customer turnoff rather than a relationship builder.

So, here's a checklist that is primarily from sales expert and author Paul R. Timm that you can use to evaluate your organization's customer service via the phone:

1. Was the phone answered after two rings or less?
2. Did the employee use an appropriate greeting?
3. Did the employee identify himself or herself by name?
4. Was the employee's tone of voice pleasant and businesslike?
5. Was the call handled efficiently without being abrupt?
6. Did the employee provide accurate information or refer the caller to an appropriate person?
7. Did the employee reflect the best image for the company?
8. Did the employee thank the caller?
9. Did the employee make prudent use of putting the caller on hold if it was necessary to do so?
10. Did the e…

Aren't We Pretty Much All The Same?

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When I think about all my colleagues, co-workers and employees, former co-workers, friends, and teammates, I content that we are pretty much all the same.  Even though I read nearly daily articles about all the various generations in the workforce and how "different" we all are.
I content that despite who you are, we pretty much all have the following in common.  We want and need to be: RespectedValuedHeardAppreciatedAcceptedEngagedEncouraged Young and not so young; man or woman; new to the workforce or long-time employee, don't we all have these needs in common?
I believe we do. 
So, as a leader, keep these basic needs in mind when you lead your employees, teams and groups, and you are bound to be a leader for whom employees will want to work.


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.

Author Thomas Teal On Management Integrity

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Some words of wisdom from author Thomas Teal: Integrity in management means:
being responsiblecommunicating clearlykeeping promisesbeing an honest brokeravoiding hidden agendasknowing oneselfAlso, explains Teal: 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)

7 Ways To Display 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.

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 surprisesDelivery 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 with businesses.  They e…