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Showing posts from August, 2016

How To Create A Positive Work Experience

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In the book, The Optimistic Workplace, author Shawn Murphy, explains that the following beliefs are essential to helping create a positive work experience:
The team is more important than any individual. For optimism to be strong, a cohesive team is vital. People need to believe the team will be there for them when needed. A team is weakened when the first priority is the needs of each person, or when ego dictates a team's actions or inaction. And, avoid relying on the usual suspects, the same few superstars, to handle high-profile projects.There's value to experiencing joy at work. Joy can open brains to better see connections and various options to solve work problems. Joy is about playing. Play at work is useful when creativity and innovation are needed. The usefulness of creativity and innovation at the workplace is linked to increasing employees' knowledge and skills. Doing good is good for business. It's not just about philanthropy. Do good by not contributing to…

Six Tips For How To Solicit The Feedback You Need As A Leader

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Getting feedback is an important way to improve performance at work. But sometimes, it can be hard to seek out, and even harder to hear. 
“Feedback is all around you. Your job is to find it, both through asking directly and observing it,” says David L. Van Rooy, author of the book, Trajectory: 7 Career Strategies to Take You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.
As today's guest post, Van Rooy offers these six tips for how to get the feedback you need to improve performance at work.
Guest Post By David L. Van Rooy
1.      Don’t forget to ask:  One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming things are going perfectly (until they make a catastrophic mistake). By not asking, you’re missing out on opportunities for deep feedback: the difficult, critical feedback that gives you constructive ways to improve.
2.      Make sure you listen:  Remember, getting feedback is about improving your performance, not turning it into a “you versus them” mentality. Your reaction is critica…

The 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…

Leading Through Language

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Communication expert Bart Egnal reveals why jargon is so prevalent in the workplace, and why it usually undermines those who use it, in his book, Leading Through Language.

Step by step, Egnal demonstrates how effective leaders reject fuzzy terminology in favor of the language of leadership. And, by language of leadership, he means using language that clearly and powerfully brings ideas to life for the audience.

The book has two parts. The first part examines why jargon exists and discusses its implications for leaders.The second part teaches how to use language that conveys ideas with energy, clarity, and conviction.

Egnal also explains that before you think about language you need to adopt a leader's mindset using these six principles:
Begin with vision. You must define the vision as a possibility that others can embrace or aspire to fulfill.Yet, it must be concrete enough that people can grasp it as something clear and achievable.Define your own conviction. When you speak from a pla…

How To Attract, Recruit And Retain Star Talent

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Hiring Greatness is the book by David E. Perry and Mark J. Haluska, who combined have closed more than 1,800 search projects.

In their book, the authors share their guide for how to attract, recruit and retain star executives.

They advise that it is far more important that a leadership candidate possess specific intangible core attributes, than just decades of industry experience. And, these core attributes go far beyond mere technical skills. For Perry and Haluska, there are 28 core attributes they always look for in a candidate.

Those 28 fit within five pillars of success:
CharacterIntellectBusiness IntelligenceLeadershipEmotional Intelligence They also recommend that when interviewing a candidate you particularly like that you take a healthy step back to figure out why you feel so strongly about that person. So, that you ensure you are not being biased by the following prejudices: Charm - Outward personality is never an accurate predictor of success in any role.Industry Experience - …

How To Listen And Learn As A Leader

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In John Baldoni's bookThe Leader's Guide to Speaking with Presence, he provides these tips for listening as a leader and learning as a leader:

When Listening As ALeader: Look at people when they are speaking to you. Make eye contact.Ask open-ended questions, such as "Tell me about..." or "Could you explain this?"Consider the "what if" question:  "What if we looked at the situation like this?"Leverage the "why" question:  "Why do we do it this way?"Employ the "how" question:  "How can you do this?"When Learning As A Leader: Reflect on what people have told you.Think about what you have not observed.  Are people holding back?  If so, why?Consider how you can implement what you have observed.Get back to people who have suggested ideas to you and thank them.Look for opportunities to collaborate with others. For nearly 20 years, Baldoni has coached and consulted for a number of leading companies in a va…

How To Spot A Leader During A Job Interview

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The next time you are interviewing a candidate and you want to access their leadership skills, consider asking the candidate these questions:
What personal qualities define you as a leader?  Describe a situation when these qualities helped you lead others.Give an example of when you demonstrated good leadership.What is the toughest group from which you've had to get cooperation?Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas?  What was your approach?  Did it work?Describe a situation in which you had to change your leadership style to achieve the goal?One leadership skill is the ability to accommodate different views in the workplace, regardless of what they are.  What have you done to foster a wide number of views in your work environment? Thanks to Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential HR Handbook, for these helpful questions!

Always Follow Through

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Set a good example for your employees and follow through on everything you say you are going to do.

If you promise to get an employee an answer, get it for him or her. If you say you'll send a team member a report, do so. As the Nike campaign/slogan so aptly says, "Just Do It."

Too many leaders don't follow through. Perhaps they get busy. Perhaps they forget. However, following through is critical to keeping your team effective and efficient. And it's necessary for gaining respect from your employees.

Following through also means doing so in a timely fashion. If you take too long to follow through, it's as bad as not following through at all.

Ten Important Questions Business Leaders Should Ask

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Here are 10 important questions business leaders should ask, according to Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge, authors of Helping People Win At Work:
Does my business have a clear, meaningful, and easily understood vision/mission?Do I have the right people in the right seats on the bus?Do I have a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal), and have I communicated it to my employees?Are my values driving the behavior I want in my organization?Am I creating a culture that increases employee engagement?Am I cultivating a spirit of internal and external learning?Do my employees know what an A looks like, and am I supporting them to get that A?Are our products/services creating lasting, positive memories for our customers?Do I have the best, most timely data and information to help my business make good decisions?Are our key performance indicators the right ones, and are we measuring what matters? And, one more questions to ask is:
Do we celebrate success?

Book Highlights: The Leadership Contract

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"Truly accountable leadership is the only way to build an organization that can survive and thrive in our increasingly complicated world," says Vince Molinaro, author of his revised and updated bestseller, The Leadership Contract.

More specifically, Molinaro believes that a new set of leadership expectations is redefining how each of us will need to lead in the future. He explains that as a leader you will need to take accountability to:
Align and engageTake an enterprise-wide perspectiveBuild relationshipsMaster uncertaintyDevelop other leadersModel the values And, to be a truly accountable leader, Molinaro says that you must serve the five core obligations of leadership: YourselfYour customersYour organizationYour employeesYour communities One of my favorite parts of the book are the Gut Checks for Leaders at the end of each chapter. The Gut Checks list critical questions to ask yourself, such as: Do you lead every day with a sense of clarity regarding your obligations?What …

Seven Ways To Be An Open Leader

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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!

Why You Should Use Storytelling As A Business Tool

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From Paul Smith's book, Lead With A Story, here are the 10 reasons for embracing storytelling as a business tool:
Storytelling is simpleStorytelling is timelessStories are demographic-proofStories are contagiousStories are easier to rememberStories inspireStories appeal to all types of learnersStories fit better where most of the learning happens in the workplaceStories put the listener in a mental learning modeTelling stories shows respect for the audience Smith goes on to say that:
you don't need a degree in English to tell a storystories can spread like wildfirelessons from a story are remembered more accurately, and for far longer, than learning derived from factsstories spark curiosity and interest rather than the urge to evaluate or criticizestories get your message across, without arrogantly telling listeners what to think or do

Read Good To Great

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If you haven't read, Good To Greatby Jim Collins, do so.

Near the top of virtually every list you'll see of the best leadership books, you'll find Good To Great.

The book, five years in the making, and published in 2001, addresses the all-important question of: Can a good company become a great company, and if so, how?

Some of the lessons from the book are:
"Leadership is equally about creating a climate where the truth is heard and the brutal facts confronted.""Leading from good to great does not mean coming up with the answers and then motivating everyone to follow your messianic vision. It means having the humility to grasp the fact that you do not yet understand enough to have the answers and then to ask the questions that will lead to the best possible insights.""Good-to-great companies use technology as an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it.""Engage in dialogue and debate."Good-to-great companies are those who have t…

The Little Book Of Leadership Development

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The Little Book of Leadership Development, by Scott J. Allen and Mitchell Kusy, is a very compelling read, packed with practical tips and techniques for both leading and helping others to learn how to lead effectively.

What you'll find is basically 50 one- to two-page chapters, each highlighting a leadership tip.  Some tips seem easy and no-brainers. Others are more difficult to implement.  But, even the "easy" ones are surprisingly absent from many organizations, so they are well worth a reminder of what to do and how to do it correctly.

Here are some of my favorite parts of the book that highlight the keen observations by the authors:
As a leader, if you are active, involved, and perceived by members of your team as an individual who care about their development and growth, you will increase your chances of success and theirs.Your team needs to know your expectations, goals, vision, and, most important, how each individual adds value.Rewards and recognition are particul…

Five Leadership Quotes For Today

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Some of my favorite quotes for leaders are:
A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit -- Arnold H. GlasgowI praise loudly, I blame softly -- Catherine II of RussiaHonest disagreement is often a good sign of progress -- Mohandas GandhiA long dispute means that both parties are wrong -- VoltaireThe least questioned assumptions are often the most questionable -- Paul Broca These and many more compelling quotes can be found in Susan H. Shearouse's new book, Conflict 101.

Avoid These Eight Performance Evaluation Pitfalls

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Here is a good reminder from author Sharon Armstrong about how to avoid eight performance evaluation pitfalls. These are in what I consider is the best chapter of the book The Essential HR Handbook, that she co-authored with Barbara Mitchell.

1. Clustering everyone in the middle performance-rating categories
2. Overlooking flaws or exaggerating the achievements of favored employees
3. Excusing substandard performance or behavior because it is widespread
4. Letting one characteristic - positive or negative - affect your overall assessment
5. Rating someone based on the company he or she keeps
6. Rating someone based on a grudge you are holding
7. Rating someone based on a short time period instead of the entire evaluation period
8. Rating everyone high, to make you look good

There's other great information in this 250-page book that is valuable for any manager, and especially good for managers who are new in their leadership position.

How To Be A Developing Leader

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One of my favorite lessons from the book, The DNA of Leadership, is the importance of being a developing leader.

Developing leaders:
Create the next generation of leadersAre great listenersGrow talent by challenging others to take on more than what they think they can doAre open, honest and directModel the behavior they want to mentor for others If you haven't read Judith E. Glaser's book, The DNA of Leadership, give it a read. You won't be disappointed.

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 …

Five Tips For Brainstorming With 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.

Five Open-Ended Questions To Ask Your Customers

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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.

Effective Listening Do's And Don'ts

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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

What Your Employees Want To Hear You Ask During A Performance Appraisal

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Here are five important questions you, as a manager and leader, should ask during employee performance reviews:
What have I done to help - or hinder - your job performance?What can I do in the next review period to help you achieve/improve?What conditions here enable you - or make it hard - to do your best work?What do you want most from your job?How can I help you reach your career goals?I speculate that most employees have never heard most of these questions from their supervisors on a consistent basis during performance reviews.

Thanks to Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell for these questions -- just some of their great advice from their book, The Essential HR Handbook.

How To Be A Humble Leader

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From John Blakey's new book, The Trusted Executive, published just a couple weeks ago, here are these four tips from Jim Collins for how to be a humble leader:
Demonstrate a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation and never be boastful.Act with quiet, calm determination and motivate others through inspired standards, not inspiring charisma.Channel ambition into the company, not the self, and set up successors for even more greatness in the next generation.Look in the mirror, not out of the window, when apportioning responsibility for poor performance.

The Four Things To Ask During An Exit Interview

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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.

Leadership And Life Tips

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Here are some of my favorite leadership and life tips and 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.