Showing posts from June, 2015

Don't Ask Your Customers These 5 Typical Questions

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

Six Ways To Retain Employees

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.
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 developed and retained; not burned out and discarded Thanks for these great leadership tips, Leigh!

Best 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 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

5 Tips For Brainstorming New Ideas

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.

Business And Life Lessons My Father Taught Me

My father passed away just about 14 years ago.  A week before my parent's 50th wedding anniversary. A few weeks prior to 9/11. That time remains 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 learning opportunities is one of the mo…

Leadership Quotes From The 5 Levels Of Leadership

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…

Use New-Hire Employee Name Badges

If you lead an organization that uses employee ID badges, considering using a different color or a special designation on the badges for newly hired employees for at least their first 30 days and ideally up to 60 days.

Imagine how welcoming it will be for your new hires when employees recognize your newly hired employees' status via their special badges and then when your longer term employees introduce themselves to the new employees in halls, on elevators, in your break room, in the parking lot and at large group meetings.

Some people call this a "hello" culture. It's a culture that helps to quickly develop relationships. And, it's a culture that ensures your new hires feel welcome during their critical onboarding time period.

How To Be A Catalyst Leader

"Catalyst leaders represent the gold standard -- energetic, supportive, forward-thinking mentors who spark action in others," explain Tacy M. Byham and Richard S. Wellins, authors of the new book, Your First Leadership Job -- How Catalyst Leaders Bring Out the Best in Others.

More specifically, the authors share that a catalyst leader:

Asks and listensFosters innovationProvides balanced feedbackBuilds trustFocuses on people's potentialCollaborates and networksEmpowers othersEncourages developmentEnergizes and mobilizesAligns actions with strategy In the book, you'll learn how catalyst leaders bring out the best in people. They do that by, among other actions, by: Encouraging the person to try new things.Giving the person input on things that affect him/her.Allowing the person to safely learn through failure, so they can take appropriate risks.Taking the time to find out what motivates the person. The authors also cover the following topics in the book: How to build tru…

Brian Tracy On Unlimited Sales Success

A Conversation with BRIAN TRACY

Question:Why are some salespeople more successful than others?
Brian Tracy: "I asked myself that very question when I started selling many years ago. My first breakthrough was the discovery of the 80/20 rule. It says that 20 percent of the salespeople make 80 percent of the money. That means the average income of the people in the top 20 percent is sixteen times the average income of the people in the bottom 80 percent.

When I first heard that statistic, I was both inspired and discouraged. I just did not think that being in the top 20 percent could be possible for me. Then I learned another fact: Every person in the top 20 percent started in the bottom 20 percent. Everyone at the front of the line of life started at the back of the line. I immediately made a decision to be in the top 20 percent.

Making a decision, of any kind, and then taking action on that decision, is often the turning point in your life. People who get …

The Subtle Science Of Getting Your Way

"I define persuasion as ethically winning the heart and mind of your target," explains author Mark Rodgers. And, in his new book, Persuasion Equation, he teaches you the subtle science of getting your way.

Persuasion has two primary roles:

to get someone to willingly do somethingto get someone to willingly not do something
Rodgers explains that persuasive people are:

AssertiveEmpatheticCommunicativeTenaciousResilient In the book, you'll learn that while logic prompts thinking, emotion propels acting.

And, he teaches you to focus on the influencing power of risk. How to articulate risk according to probability and seriousness, both for your position and the opposition's, and ensure that yours is "safer."

As you read the book, you'll learn, for example, how to persuade another person to:

Approve a higher head countEnter into a business relationshipSupport your initiative

Three Realms of Credibility
Additionally, Rodgers explains that the secret to persuasio…

Checking Rerferences: Seven Honest-Feedback-Extracting Questions

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…

Make A Difference By Sending A Handwritten Thank You Note To An Employee

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 send thank yo…

Seven Ways To Be 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 leader as change agent/…

Are You An Open Leader?

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!

The Leadership Test

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.

Whoever Tells The Best Story Wins

Whoever Tells The Best Story Wins, is the new book by Annette Simmons, president of Group Process Consulting.

"The power of even a simple story to affirm someone’s connection to your organization’s people, values, and vision can mean the difference between simple competence and fully realized ownership," explains Simmons. "Simply put, your stories help your people feel more engaged and alive."
"This book is actually designed to help you pay better attention to the stories you tell, so you can adjust the perceptions your stories build and sustain."
Her book takes you step by step through the process of identifying and choosing stories from your own life, experience, and knowledge, and then linking them, fully and authentically, to the themes, messages, and goals of your workplace.
You’ll learn how to build consensus, win others over to your point of view, and foster better group decision-making using six kinds of stories: Who-I-Am StoriesWhy-I-Am-Here Stori…

Six Questions To Ask Each Of Your Team Members

In the new book, Your First Leadership Job, authors Tacy M. Byham and Richard S. Wellins recommend you schedule a one-on-one meeting with each of your team members to help bring out the best in your team.

During those meetings, you can get closer to each person and understand their skills, abilities, and motivations. And, to do that, the authors recommend you ask the following six open-ended questions to initiate a conversation:

What do you enjoy doing most as part of your work? Why?What do you miss most about the jobs you've had in the past? Why?What things about your current job do you enjoy the least? Why?How do you cope with or relieve stress?To help you do you job, what could I change about: Your work environment? The content of your work? How you get your work done?What form of recognition do you prefer or not prefer?

Which Of These 2015 New Year's Resolutions Have You Achieved So Far?

Which one of the 70 tips for how to become a more effective leader did you select as a 2015 New Year's Resolution? This list was published last December in my blog, about the time many leaders were identifying their professional and personal goals for 2015.

Hopefully, you're still making good progress with your resolution.
Unfortunately, according to research conducted by the University of Scranton, nearly 50% of those who make New Year's Resolutions will have abandoned them within six months. And, only 8% will achieve their goals. Perhaps you've already achieve your goal!  Congratulations! So, how about selecting another one from the list?

70 Ways To Be A Better Leader

1. Don't micromanage
2. Don't be a bottleneck
3. Focus on outcomes, not minutiae
4. Build trust with your colleagues before a crisis comes
5. Assess your company's strengths and weaknesses at all times
6. Conduct annual risk reviews
7. Be courageous, quick and fair
8. Talk more about values mo…

How Effective Internal CEO Communication Shapes Financial Performance

Communications expert David Grossman of Your Thought Partner awhile back published a white paper – What the most successful CEOs know: how internal CEO communications shapes financial performance.

"CEOs who communicate often and well inside their organizations have better reputations – and that leads directly to better business results," explains David. "They’ve also got more engaged employees – another strong, measurable driver of positive financial outcomes."

David's white paper incorporates research compiled from a number of leading sources and points to some critical key findings, including:
Internal communications helps drive organizational financial performance and other key business results, and enhances organizational reputation.There’s a correlation between effective internal communications on topics the CEO is best prepared to address, such as explaining business conditions and challenges, providing information on organizational performance and financi…

Six Inspirational Maxims For Leaders

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