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Showing posts from March, 2015

Designing The Purposeful Organization

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"The challenge for the organizational architect is to systematically create the blueprint for an organization that consciously connects everything to purpose," explains author  Clive Wilson, in his new book, Designing the Purposeful Organization. "The product of doing this are measurable results and, importantly, a felt sense of success.

Wilson's book is packed with case studies and activities that help you put to practice in your organization the learnings from the book.

Clive Wilson
One of the activities that I found most interesting and revealing is Wilson's "Where Did They All Go and Why?" Think of the household names of just a decade or so ago that are no longer with us, write their names on a sheet of paper, then make brief notes on what happened to them and why. Then, ask yourself, to what extent was it to do with their purpose (eg a lack of purpose, an unclear purpose, an uninspiring purpose or purpose being somehow out of sync with stakeholder…

The Reconnected Leader

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Norman Pickavance
Norman Pickavance's new book, The Reconnected Leader, provides an eight-step model for implementing new practices to help leaders reconnect with their teams and reset the relationship the business has with its stakeholders.

Those eight steps are:

Discovering the power of purposeBuilding reconnected boardsCreating reconnected work environmentsNurturing a spirit of shared enterpriseConnecting with the wider worldCreating deeper customer connectionsInspiring connected innovatorsCreating a new model for your personal leadership
Pickavance explains that all the following factors facing leaders today are the reasons for learning how to reconnect:

struggles with ethical policiesdisconnected boardscareerismdisposable workforcebig datalosing touch with customers


One of my favorite parts of the book is the one that outlines the five principles of a purpose-driven business:

Does your organization have a purpose that delivers long-term sustainable performance?Is your business …

How To Give Praise To An Employee

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Entrepreneur magazine's February 2012 issue offers these great tips on how to give praise:
Praise followed by criticism is not praise.Praise followed by praise is probably a little too much praise.Ending an expression of praise with "...and stuff" nullifies the praise. And,
Make it timely.  The closer the recognition is to the behavior, the more likely the behavior will be repeated.Be sincere.  Be impromptu. Remember, a handwritten note is worth more than a gift card. Having trouble writing your handwritten note of praise?  Try this template to get you started:
_______, I couldn't be more impressed with how you______.  Not only did you____, but you_______.  Beautiful.  Thanks, ________

How To Really Listen

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Here are some great tips from Michelle Tillis Lederman's book, The 11 Laws of Likability.  They are all about:
what to do and what not to do to be a leader who's an effective listener:Do:
Maintain eye contactLimit your talkingFocus on the speakerAsk questionsManage your emotionsListen with your eyes and earsListen for ideas and opportunitiesRemain open to the conversationConfirm understanding, paraphraseGive nonverbal messages that you are listening (nod, smile)Ignore distractionsDon't:
InterruptShow signs of impatienceJudge or argue mentallyMultitask during a conversationProject your ideasThink about what to say nextHave expectations or preconceived ideasBecome defensive or assume you are being attackedUse condescending, aggressive, or closed body languageListen with biases or closed to new ideasJump to conclusions or finish someone's sentences

Five Ways To Get More Ideas From Your Employees

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Your employees have lots of ideas. So, be sure you provide the forums and mechanisms for your employees to share their ideas with you.

Hold at least a few brainstorming sessions each year, as well.
And, when you are brainstorming with your employees, try these five tips:
Encourage ALL ideas.Don't evaluate or criticize ideas when they are first suggested.Ask for wild ideas. Often, the craziest ideas end up being the most useful.Shoot for quantity not quality during brainstorming.Encourage everyone to offer new combinations and improvements of old ideas.

The Three Ways To Discuss Change With Your Employees

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

Twenty-five Of My Favorite Leadership Quotes

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All year during 2012, I collected my favorite quotes about leadership from Twitter. When the year ended, I published the list.

So, for today's leadership flashback, among the thousands of tweets and retweets on Twitter about leadership during 2012 these 25 were my favorites. A mix of advice from some unknown individuals along with many from leadership book authors and famous leadership experts, and a few from past U.S. presidents and current-day athletes.

Great leaders know the power of asking questions.

Lead with your heart, not just your head.

Learn to let go of fear and embrace the unknown.

People are much more impressed by your potential than by your track record.

Smart leaders use the power of stories whenever they have important messages to convey.

To be effective, leaders have to close the conversational gap with their employees.

One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency -- Arnold Glasow

Managers assert drive and co…

Encourage Employees To Learn From Their Mistakes

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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 were confusing or …

How To Define Your Organization's Purpose

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John Baldoni offers these tips in his book, Lead With Purpose, for how to define an organization's purpose. He suggests that you must ask three questions:
What is our vision -- that is, what do we want to become?What is our mission -- that is, what do we do now?What are our values -- that is what are the behaviors we expect of ourselves?

Your First 100 Days As A New Leader Will Make Or Break You

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There are seven major onboarding land mines that you are likely to come across as a new leader and there are specific points in the first 100 days where you are most likely to encounter them, explain authors: George Brant Jayme A. Check Jorge Pedraza in their new third edition of, The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan.
Ill-prepared, without a plan, and lacking proper onboarding, the land mines will get you. And, if you miss one or more of the critical tasks that must be accomplished in your first 100 days, you'll likely fail.
The book is packed with: Examples and case studies Action plans Tools, techniques and tricks of the trade The authors also explain why you need to start even before your official first day on the job. For example: Cultural engagement is extremely important in a successful transition; and it is essential that you know what your cultural engagement plan will be before walking in the door for Day One. A new leader's role begins as soon as you are an acknowle…

The Path From Your Beliefs To Your Destiny

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I ran across this the other day and found it so compelling and powerful:

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become you values,
Your values become your destiny

- MAHATMA GANDHI

What More Can I Say?

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Dianna Booher's new book, What More Can I Say?, presents nine core principles of persuasive communication in an easy-to-read and easy-to-digest format that makes for a compelling read for anyone wanting to succeed in changing behavior or changing minds.

The nine core principles are:
The Law of Trust vs. DistrustThe Law of Collaboration vs. MonologueThe Law of Simplicity vs. ComplexityThe Law of Tact vs. InsensitivityThe Law of Potential vs. AchievementThe Law of Distinction vs. DilutionThe Law of Specialty vs. GeneralizationThe Law of Emotion vs. LogicThe Law of Perspective vs. Distortion Booher draws on her decades of experience coaching and conducting workshops, and through the various Laws illustrates how messages can be delivered to: Make a saleCement a relationshipLead employees through a corporate restructuringInspire employeesRecruit top talentand much more The book includes plenty of real-world, use-tomorrow, examples. And, Booher sprinkles throughout the book many inspiring…

Favorite Leadership Quotes From, The Five 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…

How To Practice SPARK Leadership

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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.

Terrific Leadership Quotes From The Book, Just Listen

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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 HawkenLife is mostly a matter of perception and more often misperception. -- Dave LoganEveryone has an invisible sign hanging from their next saying, "Make me feel important." -- Mary Kay AshDo the unexpected. The expected is boring.  The expected is tuned out. -- Steve StraussHumility is the surest sign of strength. -- Thomas MertonYour most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. -- Bill GatesThe secret of getting ahead is getting started. -- Agatha ChrisieDon't find fault.  Find a remedy. -- Henry Ford

Why It's Important To Not 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.

Fortune Highlights Core Value Statements That Inspire

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Thanks to Holly Lebowitz Rossi for quoting me in her recent, 7 Core Value Statements That Inspire, article for Fortune.

Her article features:

TwitterBuild-A-Bear WorkshopWhole Foods MarketL.L. BeanZappos.comWegmans Food MarketsBright Horizons Family Solutions

You Are An Open Leader If You...

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Open Leadership author Charlene Li reminds leaders to periodically ask themselves these "open leadership skills assessment" questions:
Do I seek out and listen to different points of view?Do I make myself available to people at all levels of the organization?Do I actively manage how I am authentic?Do I encourage people to share information?Do I publicly admit when I am wrong?Do I update people regularly?Do I take the time to explain how decisions are being made? Thanks for these great questions, Charlene!

Step Beyond Your Comfort Zone

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Inspirational leadership wisdom came awhile back from Bahram Akradi, the CEO of Life Time Fitness.

From that health club's monthly fitness magazine, Experience Life, Akradi says:

Once we get comfortable in our habitual patterns, we may fail to notice when they have outworn their useful purpose, or when new alternatives might serve us better.Once you've encountered a second way of seeing things, you're more likely to entertain the possibility of a third and fourth way, too.Do something that makes you just a little bit uncomfortable--and that renders you a little more awake. Thanks Akradi for encouraging us to break out from predictability.

Stop Asking Your Customers These Five Questions

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Consider this advice from author Paul R. Timm.  He recommends a different twist on asking your customers questions:
stop asking your customers the "typical" questions and instead ask them open-ended questions. Here's specifically 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

Five Benefits Of Having An Ethical Culture

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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.

Seven Tips For Setting Goals

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If you've had a lapse in maintaining your New Year's resolutions, it may be time to set a new goal for yourself.  Here are seven tips for goal setting 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.

Six Questions To Ask During Every Project Review

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Here is some great advice from the authors of, Helping People Win At Work. Those authors, Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge, recommend you ask the following six essential questions whenever you do a project review:
What did we set out to do?What actually happened?Why did this happen?What will we do next time?What should we continue to do?What should we do differently? Seems simple enough, but how often do we really take the time to step back and ask ALL six of these questions?
And, these questions are important to ask even if there was no mistakes made during the project. Continually planning and executing without the value of a review can blindside you.

Get more great advice from their book.

Before Making Your Next Presentation Do This

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Author John Baldoni suggests you consider the following six things before making your next presentation:
How will you open your presentation on a high note?Where might you pause for emphasis?How can you make time to rehearse your presentation?What are the high notes?  What are your points of emphasis?What points might you emphasize with a pause?How will you close your presentation?  Will you tell a story? Or, will you issue a call to action? Baldoni offers many other tips in his book, The Leaders's Guide to Speaking with Presence.

Defining Your Legacy

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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 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 be ir…

How To Become A Stronger Career Mentor And Coach

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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 view and to share additional in…

Six Maxims For Leadership

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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.

How To Build Trust

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You can't lead if your employees, team or followers don't trust you.

Building trust takes energy, effort and constant attention to how you act.

To help build trust, follow these 16 tips, recommended by author Susan H. Shearouse:
Be honestKeep commitments and keep your wordAvoid surprisesBe consistent with your moodBe your bestDemonstrate respectListenCommunicateSpeak with a positive intentAdmit mistakesBe willing to hear feedbackMaintain confidencesGet to know othersPractice empathySeek input from othersSay "thank you"T

Embrace Change To Grow

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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…

Today's Leadership Thought

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Top 10 Barriers Communicators Face

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The person I turn to for effective communication advice, David Grossman, released last fall an 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…