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Showing posts from 2017

New Year's Resolutions For Leaders

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With only one one day left of 2017, it's time to identify your New Year's Resolutions for 2018.

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 tomorrow, think about which couple you want to work on during 2018.
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 during a meetingPra…

Creating A High-Performance Culture

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In his book, The Responsible LeaderTim Richardson explains that to create a high-performance culture, you need to plan and prepare for the following moments to ensure the conversations surrounding them are both meaningful and intentional:
recruitment and induction of new team membersperformance management discussionspromotion interviews and talent management discussionscoaching discussionscustomer sales presentationshandling customer complaints and problemsbriefings to the press, analysts and wider marketsenior leaders' contact with, and briefings to, teams across the organizationinternal presentations with executive committeesteam meetings and management meetings Richardson's advice to improve the quality of these conversations is to consider: How clear is the principal message for the conversation? How can you ensure that the content of the discussion is focused on the key message(s)?How can you ensure the quality of the listening by all parties?How can you set a pace that …

Seven Ways To Succeed In The Future

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Here are the seven smart things you can do to succeed in the future, according to leadership expert. John Baldoni, in his book, Lead With Purpose:
Make purpose a central focus.Instill purpose in others.Make employees comfortable with ambiguity.Turn good intentions into great results.Make it safe to fail (as well as prevail).Develop the next generation.Prepare yourself.

Four Questions Leaders Should Ask Every Day

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I'm a big fan of the magazine, Experience Life.  Particularly the monthly Perspective column by Bahram Akradi, the founder and CEO of Life Time Fitness.

Akradi tackled self-reflection awhile back. He firmly believes the business model that if you aren't innovating you are dying. And, to innovate, you have to regularly fine-tune both your business and your life.

What better way to do that than to ask yourself each day these four questions, says Akradi:
Where did I do some good or make some progress today?Where did I let myself or others down?What can I do to keep my good habits going?What can I do to address any negative triggers or trends before they get out of hand? Thanks Bahram for this great advice.

How To Build A High-Performing Team

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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 litt…

How You Make Them Feel

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"I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."  - Maya Angelou

How To Write A Nonprofit Annual Report

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Here are some tips for leaders responsible for writing an effective annual report for their nonprofit organization.

Consider making these objectives for your report:
To demonstrate accomplishments (not activities) (results and how you did it).To recognize important people (volunteers, donors, major funders, partners).To provide an account of your organization's work for the past year.To share your mission with a wide audience.To generate new donations, retain donors and grow partnerships.Consider these audience sectors when writing your report: DonorsVolunteersCommunity leadersFuture board membersSupporters (in-kind)Elected officials Potential partners, grant funding entitiesAllow three to four months to prepare your report: Create and outlineGather an organize contentEngage your management teamDesignReview/ProofPrintDistributeConsider packaging your report with a theme, such as one of these: TransformationDay in the lifeMilestonesCritical issuesProgress toward the futureNew undertakin…

Leadership Quotes From Leading With Grit

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In addition to Laurie Sudbrink's, Leading With GRIT, being a great book for leaders, it's packed with powerful leadership and life quotes. Here are some of my favorites:
Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are - Kurt CobainThe respect you show to others (or lack thereof) is an immediate reflection on your self respect - Alex ElleYou never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - Harper LeePeople only see what they are prepared to see - Ralph Waldo EmersonWe make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give - Winston ChurchillIf it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you - Fred DevitoThe secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old but on building the new - SocratesThe biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to rely - AnonymousAttention is the rarest and purest form of generosity - Simon WeilGood leaders inspire people to have confidence in …

The Definition Of Work Ethic For Leaders

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I really appreciate author Valerie M. Grubb's broader than typical definition of work ethic for leaders, as she details it in her book, Clash of the Generations.

Here is what she says defines work ethic for leaders:
Honest. Be truthful in your dealings with employees, vendors, customers, and anyone else with whom you come in contact on behalf of the company.Full of Integrity. Maintain high-quality standards despite schedule pressures. Demonstrate and uphold values and principles that create a climate of trust.Law-abiding. Act within the statutes of the law and the company's rules and regulations.Trustworthy. Speak the truth even when no one else does. Be candid and forthcoming. Give credit freely for others' accomplishments. Stand by your commitments and own up to your mistakes. Fair. Be fair and just in dealings with employees. Value and support diversity and inclusion across the board.Respectful of others. Display grace under pressure and don't lash out at employees,…

Tips For Leading 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!

Six Questions To Ask Your Direct Reports

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To help you bring out the best in your team, you need to get close and understand their skills, abilities, and motivations. So, the authors of the book, Your First Leadership Job, recommend you hold getting-to-know-you conversations with each of your direct reports.

Ask these open-ended questions. Let each team member know the purpose of the meeting in advance. And, don't cheat by adding in work-specific questions.
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 your 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?

10 Ways To Improve Your Connection Skills

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"Connection is what transforms a dog-eat-dog environment into a sled-dog team that pulls together," says Michael Lee Stallard, author of the book, Connection Culture. "Connection builds an emotional bond that promotes trust, cooperation, and esprit de corps among people in the workplace."

Based on shared identity, empathy, and understanding, connection moves primarily self-centered individuals toward group-centered membership.

"Without that sense of connection, employees will never each their full potential," states Stallard.

The 10 ways you can improve your connection skills are to:
Recognize varying connection needsBe present in conversationsDevelop the ability to empathizeDevelop the habit of emphasizing positivesControl your tone of voiceNegotiate with the mindset to solve a problems rather than to winProvide autonomy in executionLearn to apply the five languages of appreciation Apologize when you make a mistakeDevelop social skills and relationship s…

The Art Of Leading By Looking Ahead

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Anticipate: The Art of Leading by Looking Ahead, gives readers practical guidance and concrete techniques to help leaders become more visionary. In his book, Rob-Jan de Jong provides the developmental framework for visionary capacity, focusing on two key skills:
The ability to see change earlyThe ability to connect the dots

Rob-Jan de Jong
De Jong makes a clear distinction between the company vision and your personal vision. And, in this book, he helps you increase your personal visionary capacity for your personal leadership whether or not you are hierarchically in a senior position.

The book includes many exercises and examples, along with QR codes to access videos with additional content that can be viewed on your Smartphone.

Some of de Jong's tips for how to think like a visionary and be a source of inspiration to your organization and teams include:
Deliberately break your normal, everyday patterns.Develop a set of appreciative questions aimed at discovering what is going well, …

Best Leadership Book Of 2016

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Soon, I will announce my choice for best book about leadership for 2017. In the meantime, let's flash back to last year's winner. Here is that blog post from about a year ago...

After reading nearly 30 new books about leadership this past year, my pick for 2016's best new leadership book is, Mastering the Challenges of Leading Change, by H. James Dallas. Technically, the book came out in the fall of 2015, but gained its popularity and momentum in 2016, hence my selection as my 2016 pick.


Virtually every business is undergoing change. And, one of the most difficult things for a leader to do is to successfully lead a change initiative. And, change is what most employees fear most. That's why, says Brown that on average nearly 75 percent of change initiatives fail. What's more...

When the rate of external change exceeds the rate of internal change, the end is in sight.
Fortunately, Brown has written what I consider to be one of the most straight-forward, practical and…

How You Create An Optimistic Workplace

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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…

How To Achieve Continuous Improvement

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In addition to your 2017 New Year's resolution and the goal that you've be working on this year, add reading The School of Greatness to your "to do" list before year's end. It's a highly uplifting and motivational book on how to strive for greatness in your everyday life.

Specifically, author Lewis Howes, shares his progression of a series of lessons -- eight areas that help you focus on continual improvement:
Create a vision.Turn adversity into advantage.Cultivate a champion's mindset.Develop hustle.Master your body.Practice positive habits.Build a winning team.Be of service to others. Packed with exercises, tools, tips and examples, the book makes for a perfect read at the start of the new year.

What A Change Leader Does

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The Art of Change Leadershipdemystifies the psychology behind our reactions to change and offers a powerful collection of tools to inspire individual and collective transformation quickly and more effectively, explains author of the book, Cheryl Cran.

The book teaches you how to:
Leverage your current technical knowledge to increase the rate of innovation.Use the cycle of change to foresee and handle change-related issues affecting yourself, others, and business.Raise your emotional intelligence to match your IQ.Guide "change" initiatives with repeatable success by using the reliable three-step change model. Cran also explains the differences between a Change Manager and a Change Leader.
For example: A Change Manager creates a plan, directs projects and people to achieve a goal. In contrast, a Change Leader sets the compelling vision; tells a story that includes the hero's journey for each person involved.
In addition, a Change Leader does the following: Provides a project …

Wisdom Warriors: Honest, Down-To-Earth Stories On Life And Leadership

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Prepare to be inspired, impressed and motivated by personal, real-life stories and case studies from 70 women leaders in the new book, Wisdom Warriors, authored by Carol Seymour.

Carol Seymour
Highly readable and relatable, this collection of enlightening profiles will help readers, male and female, to find the strength they need to define and achieve success in all aspect of their lives.

The book includes discussions about:

living intentionally and authenticallyhow to develop and demonstrate executive presencethe importance of practicing self-carerecognizing the difference between strengths and gifts -- and why that is important You'll also find lots of powerful quotes from today's women leaders, including these two of my favorites from the book: "Not everything can be as important and as urgent as everything else, because then you're just busy" - Annemieke van der Werff (Chief Human Resource Officer for the Americas/MUFG Union Bank)"Always step outside of yo…

What To Ask Yourself At The End Of The Day

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One of my favorite parts of Joe Sweeney's book, Moving the Needle, is the section where he recommends you ask yourself these six questions before you go to bed each night:
What was the best thing that happened today?What am I most grateful for today?What did I do to live my ideal day today?What is one new thing I learned today?What did I do to meet my goals today?What am I most looking forward to tomorrow? And, by jotting down your answers to these thoughtful and positive in nature questions sets you in the right frame of mind for waking up in the morning!

Resolve To Find A Mentor In 2018

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Having a mentor is one of the best things you can do to advance your career as a leader. So, decide today to secure a mentor who will work with you during 2018. Make that one of your New Year’s resolutions.

A mentor can benefit leaders new to their leadership role and they can benefit experienced and seasoned leaders, as well.

A strong mentoring relationship allows the mentor and the mentee to develop new skills and talents, to build confidence, and to build self-awareness.

Proper mentoring takes a commitment from both parties and it takes time to develop and to reap the rewards of the relationship. Plan to work with your mentor for no less than three months, and ideally for six months or longer.

When seeking out a mentor, think about these questions:
1.  Will the relationship have good personal chemistry?
2.  Can this person guide me, particularly in the areas where I am weakest?
3.  Will this person take a genuine interest in me?
4.  Does this person have the traits and skills I wan…

11 Key Principles From Battlefield To Boardroom

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Ken Marlin's book, The Marine Corps Way To Win On Wall Street, is all about a Marine-turned-banker's tactics for succeeding ethically, and more specifically about 11 key principles from battlefield to boardroom.

Ken Marlin
"I wrote the book in part because of the bashing that corporate executives and Wall Street bankers have been receiving for many years in the press and in political circles. I wanted to show people a way to be successful on Wall Street and on Main Street that works better than the current system -- and allows you to be proud of how you did it," explains Marlin.

The 11 key principles Marlin covers in his book are:
Take the long viewTake a standBe the expert (or use one)Know the enemyKnow what the objective is worthKnow yourselfControl the timingNegotiate from the high groundSeek foreign entanglementsTrust and verifyBe disciplined

Ken Marlin
Between 1970 and 1981, Marlin rose from the enlisted ranks to become a Marine captain and infantry commander. Sinc…

The Things I Am Thankful For

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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?  And, 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 2017 fitness goal -- which included running eight half marathons Setting 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 of my Blog and of Twitter @ericjacobsonkcWow, I have a lot to be thankful for this…

Making Small Changes To Reach Big Goals

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“Making small changes to reach big goals is the answer,” says entrepreneur and bestselling author Michael Alden in his book, 5% MORE: Making Small Changes To Achieve Extraordinary Results. “If you just put 5% more effort into any aspect of your life, you will not only achieve your goals, you will surpass them,” he explains. The book will be available in late August.
“Far too often, people become paralyzed when they want to improve their lives, because the effort to reach their goals seems overwhelming,” adds Alden. “Or the opposite occurs. They decide to dive into something one hundred percent, but then quickly lose steam.”
Therefore, Alden demonstrates that long-lasting success is based on small increases in effort. “Five percent is almost unnoticeable in terms of effort—but it accrues quickly, with each step boosting the baseline,” he declares.
Although much of Alden’s advice is based on personal experience, observation, and common sense, he is careful to discuss the studies and re…

How To Be A Truly Accountable Leader

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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 …

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.

Soliciting Feedback 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…

Thank-A-Thon And Other Ideas For Nonprofit Fundraising

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If you serve on a nonprofit Board, are the executive director for a nonprofit, or are responsible for raising funds for your nonprofit, The Nonprofit Fundraising Solution, book by Laurence A. Pagnoni is a must-read for you.

Pagnoni bridges the gap between theory and practical methods and shows you (often via real-life case studies) how to:
increase your access to wealthy donorsraise your community profilestretch giftsoperate major campaignsavoid revenue plateauscreate a fundraising culture within your organizationtake specific actions if your Board's core strength isn't fundraisingconduct challenge gift campaignsintegrate social media into your existing fundraising methodscreate a planned giving program When it comes to transforming prospects into donors, Pagnoni suggests you follow these basic five steps: Get to know your prospectGet your prospect involvedAsk for a small gift of financial supportAsk them to open their network of contactsAsk for a major gift And, during those c…

The Book For Nonprofit Leaders

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If you lead a nonprofit organization, the one hour it will take you to read Peter F. Drucker's book called "The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization" will be well worth it.

This book may fundamentally change the way you work and lead your organization.

Perhaps one of most challenging questions Drucker asks the reader is:

"Do we produce results that are sufficiently outstanding for us to justify putting our resources in this area?"

Because, Drucker argues that need alone does not justify continuing. Nor does tradition, if your results are not sufficiently outstanding.

If you volunteer for a nonprofit or are seeking employment at a nonprofit, this book is also an insightful and inspiring read.


Ideal Company Culture Guidelines

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"The clearer your company culture, the less likely it will be hijacked by the weaker personalities in your team," explains Mary Christensen, author of the book, Be A Network Marketing Leader. "A few guidelines will ensure a level playing field for all team members as they pursue their individual goals."

Christensen's recommended eight guidelines are:
We respect each other.We support each other.We appreciate everyone's contribution.We're always professional.We operate in a spirit of fun and friendship.We keep it positive.We're a gossip-free zone.We deal with our disagreements in private.

How To Run Meetings That Work

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Here are some great tips from authors Michael Mankins and Eric Garton about how to run meetings that work:
Be sure a meeting is appropriate. Meetings are great for gathering input and coming to a group decision. They aren't so good for drafting a strategy document, for example. Ensure a meeting is the best way to get the job done.Set a clear -- and selective -- agenda. A clear agenda communicates priorities. It also tells people what they can safely postpone or ignore.Insist on advance preparationPractice good meeting hygiene. Start on time. Clarify the purpose of every meeting. Spell out people's roles in decisions. Create a decision log that captures every decision made in a meeting. End early, particularly if the meeting is going nowhere. Mankins and Garton are the authors of the book, Time, Talent, Energy.

Today's Leadership Thought

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Today's Leadership Thought:

"The ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve." - Albert Schweitzer


Seven Tough Questions Leaders Ask Their Teams

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High-functioning and effective 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?

Five Leadership Quotes

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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 book, Conflict 101.

Six Questions Superbosses Ask

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From Sydney Finkelstein's book, Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent, comes these great questions you should routinely ask yourself as a leader:
Have you answered the "why do we exist" question for your team? Could all of your team members share this answer with you right now?Do you have people on your team who have followed non-traditional paths to their jobs, or do you find yourself attracted to cookie-cutter backgrounds?Are people on your team energized to come to work in the morning? How would you even know?Are you inspiring people to believe that they can achieve great things?Are you removing the bureaucratic barriers and hierarchy that get in the way of meaningful interaction and getting the job done?How often do you actively teach people how to do something, as opposed to just telling  people what to do?