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Showing posts from November, 2014

My Favorite Nelson Mandela Quotes

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As we near the first-year anniversary of the day Nelson Mandela died, I think about my favorite Nelson Mandela leadership quotes:
"Lead from the back--and let others believe they are in front.""The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.""It always seems impossible until it's done.""I like friends who have independent minds because they tend to make you see problems from all angles.""I've learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.""Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again."

70 New Year's Resolutions For Leaders For 2015

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With only one month left of 2014, it's not too early to start identifying your New Year's Resolutions for 2015.



To get you started, how about selecting one or more of these 70 New Year's resolutions for leaders?

Perhaps write down five to ten and then between now and December 31, think about which couple you want to work on in 2015.
Don't micromanageDon't be a bottleneckFocus on outcomes, not minutiaeBuild trust with your colleagues before a crisis comesAssess your company's strengths and weaknesses at all timesConduct annual risk reviewsBe courageous, quick and fairTalk more about values more than rulesReward how a performance is achieved and not only the performanceConstantly challenge your team to do betterCelebrate your employees' successes, not your ownErr on the side of taking actionCommunicate clearly and oftenBe visibleEliminate the cause of a mistakeView every problem as an opportunity to growSummarize group consensus after each decision point duri…

Why Veterans And Rookies Make For A Powerful Team

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In her new book, Rookie Smarts, author Liz Wiseman explains the benefits of having both veteran employees and new employees (rookies) on a team.   The four main benefits are:

The veteran brings clarity and gravitas while the rookie brings energy and determination.The veteran sees the potential and promise of the novel ideas of the rookie.The veteran knows how the world works and guides the entrepreneur who wants to change the world.When the disparate contributions of experience and naivete are appreciated, the combination sparks collective brilliance.

The 10 Things I Am Thankful For This Year

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Each year, around Thanksgiving time, I think about what I am thankful for.  This year, I decided to once again take the time to make a list.  A list of 10 things I am thankful for.

What's on your list thisyear?  What's on your list this year that wasn't on last year's list?

Here is my list:
Family and friendsEmployment, and a year of positive evolution for my workplaceTechnology, Blogs, Twitter and all social media sharing tools that help me to be a constant learnerHealth and all those who help me stay healthy and encourage me to reach my goals -- which included running 24 5K races (and my first-ever 10K) this year benefiting a variety of mostly Kansas City area nonprofits and charitiesSetting business and personal goals and working hard to reach or exceed themGood books (including ones the book club recommended)Nonprofit organizations that provide vital services and ways for me to volunteer and donateMusicThe ability to travel for vacationsReaders, followers and guests …

Best Leadership Books To Read In 2015

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As you think about what business books you want to read next year, how about adding to the list at least one book from the list below. Perhaps a book that will help you improve your leadership skills.

A couple years ago, members of five groups on the professional social media web site LinkedIn voluntarily recommended their favorite books about leadership. They responded to a group discussion question, "Best Leadership Books -- What's Your Favorite?"

When contemplating their favorites, they likely thought about which books were in their minds the best, most favored, most inspiring, most instructional, most relevant, and which ones they might reference frequently.

The recommendations came from these member groups:
ExecuNet Executive SuiteLeadership Think TankLinked 2 LeadershipKeller Graduate School Of ManagementThe Talent Buzz As the recommendations rolled in, it became clear that leaders learn from, and are inspired by, a wide variety of books -- biographies, autobiograp…

Now...Build A Great Business

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When you start reading Mark Thompson’s and Brian Tracy’s 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 you now? …

The Different Roles Of A Coach And A Mentor

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Author Kristi Hedges, in her book, The Power of Presence, provides these explanations of the roles of a coach and of a mentor and how they differ from each other:



The Coach shows empathy through a mixture of tough love and strong support.  The coach is not afraid to push you because she sees the best in you.  This leader has a good sense of what's going on in the rest of your life and isn't afraid to mention it as it relates to your performance and potential.



The Mentor makes you feel that your success is always top of mind.  Mentors have your back to guide you along in your career.  They will act as a confidante as you hash through ideas and won't hold it against you as your iterate.  Because they have done well, they operate from a point of helping others do the same.

8 Tips For Writing An Effective Performance Appraisal

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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…

Best New Leadership Book of 2014 To Be Announced December 1

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On December 1 I'll announce my vote for the best new leadership book of 2014.  Stay tuned. It's a great one.

In the meantime, here's a look back at my my top (favorite) books for leaders that were published in 2013.

Each provides timely, practical and valuable tips, techniques and tools for how to become a more effective leader.

You'll find among the books useful information about:
communicating more effectively the power of story tellingcreating an ethical workplace cultureincreasing revenuethe basics you need to know as a first-time leader
Ethical Leadership

Unlimited Sales Success

Manager 3.0

AMA Business Boot Camp

The way of the SEAL

Becoming a Better Boss

Leadership Conversations

And, my favorite from 2012 in case you haven't read this book:

Lead with a Story



8 Specific Actions To Show You Value Your Employees

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There are eight specific actions business leaders can take to show that they value their employees, according to Andrew Leigh, author of the bookEthical Leadership -- Creating and Sustaining an Ethical Business Culture.

Those eight behaviors are: Attention -- Pay attention to what people say to show your interest.Listen -- Make time to hear what colleagues, peers and employees have to say to show you care.Positive Language -- Find words and phrases to show employees they're needed.  Examples are, "We couldn't have accomplished this without you," "That was really useful."Document -- Put praise in writing to increase its impact.  Make clear where the credit belongs.Micro Sessions -- Create two-way communication sessions.Visits -- Schedule visits to teams and work areas.Stories -- Share stories that highlight unusual contributions and provide your personal response to them.Invite -- Ask people to contact you directly with their issues and concerns -- not to …

The Ten Golden Rules Of Leadership

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This month saw the release of the new book, The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership:  Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders.

As you dig in, 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 leader is tr…

How To Click At Work

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Research from some universities around the country show that employees who "click" with each other at work have more career success.  And, those who "click" well get to the core of the office network within 18 months, while it can take years for those who don't "click" well.

As a leader, there are things you can do and things you can encourage your employees to do to promote better clicking.

Consider these findings from the research:
How much you reveal about yourself to a co-worker helps you click.The more you open up and share your feelings, the more trust you build and the more likely you'll build a connection with a co-worker.Having an office or cubicle in the central area of your workplace increases your ability for clicking opportunities.Sitting near the middle of a conference table brings you more clicking opportunities, as well.Keeping your office door open, communicating in person versus e-mail or via the phone, allows you to click more.Th…

4 Questions To Ask An Employee When He Quits

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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 Badfour 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.

7 Must-Ask Questions When Interviewing A Potential New Hire

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Awhile back, 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 something else?  Can you …

7 Questions To Ask A Team To Maximize The Team's Results

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High-functioning teams can disagree and still produce excellent products and results. Team members can also disagree and still care about each other. And, they can challenge each other to think differently.

Best-selling leadership book authors Scott J. Allen and Mitchell Kusy recommend that leaders ask seven tough questions of their teams to help maximize their results. Here are those questions to ask each team member:
What are some obstacles affecting this team?What are opportunities we could take advantage of that we have been largely ignoring?Where can you take greater ownership on this team?Where have you let this team down?Compared to other teams with which you are familiar, how are we doing?When was the last time you complimented the team or one of its members?How open are you to giving direct feedback to team members?

How To Project A Professional Image

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From Jay Miletsky's book, 101 Ways to Successfully Market Yourself, here 10 tips for projecting an effective professional image:
Discipline yourself to be positive and enthusiastic.In tense situations choose positive responses by maintaining perspective and getting along well with others.Acknowledge mistakes and shortcomings and learn how to correct them.Develop a reputation for being a resourceful problems solver.Leverage your strengths and expertise to have maximum impact on the decisions you make.Be organized, efficient, flexible, and self-motivated.Master your tasks and fully expand your area of expertise so that you can boost your output.Keep up with the latest developments in your company and in your field.Cultivate unique talents that give you a definite edge.Gain visibility by taking the kind of action that will propel you into the right sights of management personnel.

Dr. Roger Dean Duncan On Change

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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 to change (Charles Da…

Entrepreneur Jake Thompson Shares His Story, Advice, And What's In Store For CED In 2015

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With a title like Chief Encouragement Officer at Compete Every Day (CED), it's no wonder that Jake Thompson is leading the way in motivating predominantly athletes and fitness enthusiasts around the world to compete for what they aspire to achieve.
"Compete Every Day is a lifestyle brand devoted to inspiring the competitive mindset that each one of us has a life worth competing for. Every second. Every day," explains Jake, who also founded CED.
"Our goal is to fuel your fire, but that's only the beginning. At CED we want to drive you; we want to help you see it through to the end. 365 days a year, seven days a week, 86,400 seconds per day. However long it takes," he adds.

CED fuels that fire by selling T-shirts, wristbands, shorts and other clothing featuring motivational and inspirational slogans.  CED also shares its motivation and customer stories via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
What started as a simple idea a few years ago with selling T-shirts fr…

Best Quotes From John C. Maxwell's 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…

Coherence: The Secret Science Of Brilliant Leadership

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Coherence:  The Secret Science of Brilliant Leadership is the new book by author Dr. Alan Watkins.

Trained as a medical doctor, Watkins is now an honorary senior lecturer in neuroscience and psychological medicine at Imperial College, London and an affiliate professor of leadership at the European School of Management, London.

According to Watkins, coherence is the biological state achieved when elite performers experience maximum efficiency and super effectiveness, where body and mind are one.
Coherence provides one of the most unique approaches to showing leaders how to be younger, smarter, healthier and happier -- which gives them the power to make decisions under pressure and achieve sustainable success.

Prepare to spend quality time reading Coherence. It's not light reading.  Kind of feels like a medical text book in parts.  But, it's worth your commitment to it.


I particularly found useful Watkin's discussion on culture, where he wrote:
Culture is the collective attitud…

How To Be A Collaborative Leader

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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 leader as change agent/…

Ask "Why Not?" More Often To Drive Greater Success

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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 todiscovery," 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 and weaknesses.Younger employees simply h…

Choose To Live A Life That Matters

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I recommend that all leaders every so often read the What Will Matter poem by Michael Josephson.

It serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of unselfishly serving and leading with character.

I've highlighted in bold and in color below my favorite parts of the poem:

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.


There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days. All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance. It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire. The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.

It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will…