Tuesday, January 27, 2015

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.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Must-Read eBooks From David Grossman

When I seek advice about leadership and how to effectively communicate in the workplace, I often turn to David Grossman.

Grossman helps leaders drive productivity and get the results they want through authentic and courageous leadership and communication.

Grossman’s work solves three business problems:
  • Minimize the downside of change where business could be stopped, slowed or interrupted
  • Maximize the upside of change to accelerate business results
  • Turn employee confusion, skepticism or apathy into engagement
Grossman is both a teacher and student of effective leadership and communication. He is one of America’s foremost authorities on communication and leadership inside organizations, and a sought-after advisor to Fortune 500 leaders.

He also offers for free via his website a host of ebooks about primarily leadership and communication.

“One of the most popular eBooks is the Top 10 Barriers Communicators Face: How to Get Your Leader on Board with Internal Communication, which came last year," says Grossman. "I think it resonates with readers because it helps them (communicators) identify and overcome common barriers to effective communication that leaders construct in a practical and effective way that helps them get the results they seek," he adds.

Grossman offers more than 20 free ebooks and downloadable resources, including these:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

10 Ways To Be A Better Listener

Being a good listener is absolutely essential to being an effective leader.

When you really listen, you:
  • Remember names and facts correctly.
  • Hear "between the lines."
  • Show respect.
  • Learn more about what's going on within your workplace.
Here are 10 tips on how to be a better listener:
  1. Look at the person who's speaking to you. Maintain eye contact.
  2. Watch for non-verbal clues, body language, gestures and facial expressions.
  3. Eliminate all distractions. Don't multi-task.
  4. Ask questions that let the other person know you have heard them, and that you want to learn more.
  5. Don't interrupt.
  6. Don't finish the other person's sentences.
  7. Avoid using words, such as "no," "but," and "however," when you respond.
  8. Don't prejudge.
  9. Display a friendly, open attitude and body language.
  10. Ask questions to clarify what you heard.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Listening And Learning As A Leader

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 A Leader:
  • 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 variety of different businesses, ranging from automotive and banking to computers, high technology, fast food, and packaged goods. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

How To Lead Breakthrough Change Against All Odds

David S. Pottruck's new book, Stacking the Deck, teaches readers a nine-step course of action leaders can follow from the first realization that change is needed through all the steps of implementation, including assembling the right team of close advisors and getting the word out to the wider group.

This book tells the in-the-trenches stories of individuals who led bold, sweeping change. Stories that walk you through the social and emotional reality of leading others -- many of whom are fearful of change.

Stories from eBay President and CEO John Donahoe; Wells Fargo former CEO and Chairman Dick Kovacevich; Starbucks Chairman, President and CEO Howard Schultz; San Francisco Giants President and CEO Larry Baer; and Pinkberry CEO Ron Graves.

Part one of the book outlines the Stacking the Deck process -- the nine steps through which nearly every breakthrough change inevitably goes:
  1. Establishing the need to change and creating a sense of urgency.
  2. Recruiting and unifying your inner team.
  3. Developing and communicating a clear and compelling vision of the future.
  4. Anticipating, understanding, and planning to overcome potential barriers to success.
  5. Developing a clear, executable plan.
  6. Breaking the change initiative into manageable pieces.
  7. Defining metrics, developing analytics, and sharing results.
  8. Assessing, recruiting, and empowering the broader team.
  9. Piloting the implementation.
Part two covers the higher-order skills that are necessary for success in the process of leading breakthrough change.

This book will help you lead through any of these major changes:

  • Introduction of a new product.
  • Expansion into a new territory.
  • Downsizing.
Most important, Pottruck teaches readers how to learn to anticipate and to analyze logically and carefully; think creatively and embrace possibilities; learn what to prioritize, where to concentrate energy, and how to move forward while bringing others along with you.

David S. Pottruck

Pottruck is coauthor of the bestselling Clicks and Mortar.

Thanks to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Art Of Leading By Looking Ahead

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

  • The ability to see change early
  • The 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, and why.
  • Regularly engage with a subgroup that is profoundly different from the usual suspects you hang out with.
  • Ask often, "What other options exist?" And, "What are we not seeing or saying?"
  • Engage in pure listening conversations. That means listening and not taking over the conversation with your views or ideas, no matter how much you want to.

De Jong is one of five faculty members in Wharton's flagship executive program "Global Strategic Leadership." He lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Thanks to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Difference Between Success And Failure Is GRIT

Why are some people able to succeed in their work, careers, and lives despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet others crumble at the slightest sign of adversity?  

Why do some organizations, whether in the private or public sector, thrive despite unprecedented competition, economic downturns, or worse, while others whither and die?  

The difference between success and failure is grit,” says Dr. Paul G. Stoltz in his new book, GRIT: The New Science of What it Takes to Persevere, Flourish, Succeed. 

Having spent thirty-five years studying human performance, Stoltz writes in his book, “I used to be convinced that grit was just one of those qualities on a long list of stuff that everyone knows you need to succeed. I could not have been more wrong. Grit isn’t a nice-to-have item on the get-the-most-out-of-life list. It’s the single most essential item on the list."

The good news is that grit is something that anyone can grow and improve at any stage of his or her life.

The four building blocks of GRIT are:

  • Growth
  • Resilience
  • Instinct
  • Tenacity
The four capacities of grit are:

  • Emotional: Your emotional capacity to commit and to remain strong, determined, engaged, and unwavering in pursuit of your goals.
  • Mental: Your mental capacity to focus intently, even struggle over long periods of time, in pursuit of your goals.
  • Physical: Your physical capacity to dig deep, suffer, endure, withstand pain, and persevere in pursuit of your goals.
  • Spiritual: Your spiritual capacity to suffer well, to maintain your faith and belief, to remain centered and clear, and to transcend any frustrations in pursuit of your goals.

Stoltz takes readers on an extraordinary journey, providing them with real, meaningful, and practical tools – supported by insightful anecdotes and personal stories – to help them live and become exemplars of what he calls Optimal GRIT. He describes the why’s, how’s, and benefits of GRIT and the science behind his work. 

He then provides readers (free to those who purchase the book) with access to an online tool called the GRIT Gauge. Readers who complete this five-minute survey receive a comprehensive report, including scores, descriptions, graphs, and tips, to help them understand where they are now, and what steps to take to move towards Optimal GRIT.  

By the time you finish reading the book you'll have the tools and advice you'll need to deal with what Stoltz calls all the "gnarly stuff” that life can serve up -- whether it's related to organizations, teams, society or relationships.


Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D.

Stoltz is Founding Director of both the Global Resilience Institute and GRIT Institute. He was selected as “One of the Top 10 Most Influential Global Thinkers” by HR Magazine, and “One of the 100 Most Influential Thinkers of Our Time,” by Executive Excellence.

Thanks to the book publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

How To Cultivate Enduring Customer Loyalty To Keep Your Business Thriving

"Today's customers demand something unlike anything they have ever wanted in the past -- a connection with your business," explains Noah Fleming, author of the new, must-read book, Evergreen. "This means that in order to increase customer loyalty, you need to create a relationship with that customer on a deeper and much more profound level," adds Fleming.

And, to do this, you need to think in an entirely new way (at times even counterintuitively) about your market, your customers and your marketing offers.

Noah Fleming

Fortunately, in Fleming's timely and intensively relevant book, he shows you through strategies, exercises and examples what to do.

He explains why the customer is not always right.  And, why not every customer is worth keeping.

Fleming's techniques teach you how to acquire customers faster and how to create what he calls legitimate brand loyalty -- the type that helps to keep your business thriving.

One of the book's most compelling lessons for me was why it's so important to tell your customers your company's origin story. Fleming explains that it's critical that you build a rich and complex backstory about your company for your customers. Your customers want to know this story. So, as you share your story, answer these questions:

  • Who started the company?
  • When was it started? Where? How?
  • Why was it started?
  • What were the original visions or aspirations for the company?
  • What traditions has the company maintained since it began?

Also, in the book, Fleming also shows you how to:

  • Invert the expectations gap that can drive customers away.
  • Create loyalty programs that turn satisfied customers into enthusiastic advocates.
  • Measure the true cost of your customer acquisition efforts.
  • Communicate your values at every customer interaction.
  • Make social media communications with customers personal, genuine, and meaningful.
Most important, you'll learn how to build impeccable character, community, and content -- the Three Cs of evergreen companies.

  • Character (aka brand personality) -- by developing an organizational mindset about why you do what you do and how customers perceive you (what the first thing the customer thinks about when exposed to your brand).
  • Community -- by giving customers a sense of shared interests, viewpoints, or values, and a feeling of belonging. How you bring people closer together.
  • Content -- which basically means whatever the company offers -- products, services, food, advice, or information. Content is about what you do and how you do it.  And, be sure to pay more attention to the experience and feeling your content creates than the actual content.
"An Evergreen organization," Fleming says, "has spent the time to continually cultivate and nurture relationships with its customers, from even before they were actually customers. Like the roots of an 800-year-old evergreen, strong customer loyalty is embedded into that relationship, and eventually those roots are capable of supporting tremendous and continuous growth."

Thanks to the book publisher, AMACOM, for sending me an advance copy of the book.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

How To Discover Your LeaderGrade

If you need a tool to measure your leadership skills, check out LeaderGrade, by Quantum Workplace, which measures your leadership influence by asking your peers and followers to rate your leadership skills.

The online survey tool uses a 45 question assessment to measure your leadership skills across 15 dimensions of leadership.

The survey typically takes respondents seven to 10 minutes to fill out and the results you get will identify your strengths and weaknesses, and will allow you to compare your evaluators' responses to your own self-assessment.

The self-evaluation survey is free and it's the first step in the program. Also free is a summary analysis of your results. A full reporting on your results costs $79.

Also, by using LeaderGrade, your leadership skills can be compared to those of other leaders who have completed the LeaderGrade assessment.  I don't know the pricing for the full program, but the free self-assessment is worth using.

Friday, January 16, 2015

How To Write Anything

Ever wondered about the do's and don'ts of writing a:
  • Business Apology
  • Letter of Recommendation
  • Job Advertisement
  • Interview Follow-up
  • Press Release
  • Executive Summary
  • Collection Letter
  • Resignation Letter
...then, the book, How To Write Anything: A Complete Guide is for you.

This 596-page book not only provides you examples and templates for all types of writing you do at work, but also, and most important, provides you do's and don'ts for each writing situation.

Author Laura Brown provides 200 how-to entries and easy-to-use models organized into three comprehensive sections on writing for:
  • Work
  • School (research paper, book review, internship letter)
  • Your Personal Life (i.e. get-well note, baby shower invitation, complaint letter)
Best of all, her advice is Internet-savvy, because she provides you advice for choosing the most appropriate medium for your message:  email or pen and paper.

Brown has more than 25 years' experience providing training and coaching in business writing.  She's also taught composition and literature at Columbia University.

This is a book you can use for a lifetime -- during your schooling, career and everyday living.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Questions To Ask To Move Your Company Forward

The April 2014 issue of Inc. magazine featured a fascinating list of 35 questions from business owners, entrepreneurs and management thinkers.  Each offered the one question they would ask to move a company forward.

From the list, my favorites are:
  • Are we relevant?  Will we be relevant five years from now? Ten?
  • What prevents me from making the changes I know will make me a more effective leader?
  • Are we changing as fast as the world around us?
  • Who, on the executive team or the board, has spoken to a customer recently?
And, my most favorite is:
  • How can we become the company that would put us out of business?
What question do you ask to help move your company forward?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Goal Without A Plan Is Just A Wish

How To Build A Culture To Foster Creativity

Here are some great tips and guiding principles for how a manager and leader can build a culture to foster creativity.
  • Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.
  • If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.
  • It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them.
  • The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.
  • A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.
  • Do not assume that general agreement will lead to change—it takes substantial energy to move a group, even when all are on board.
Thanks author Ed Catmull for these tips and great new book, Creativity, Inc.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

13 Energizing Verbs To Use More Often

In a few weeks, I'll post my review of the great new book, Anticipate, the Art of Leading by Looking Ahead, by Rob-Jan De Jong.

In the meantime, here are 13 energizing verbs the author recommends we use more often:

  • Discover (instead of See)
  • Explore (instead of Discuss)
  • Radiate (instead of Display)
  • Uncover (instead of Show)
  • Transform (instead of Change)
  • Engage (instead of Involve)
  • Mobilize (instead of Gather)
  • Stretch (instead of Develop)
  • Boost (instead of Increase)
  • Propel (instead of Move)
  • Deliver (instead of Give)
  • Grasp (instead of Understand)
  • Connect (instead of Join)
Great advice, indeed!

Monday, January 12, 2015

6 Interview Questions To Ask To Access Leadership Skills

The next time you are interviewing a candidate and you want to access their leadership skills, consider asking the candidate these questions:
  1. What personal qualities define you as a leader?  Describe a situation when these qualities helped you lead others.
  2. Give an example of when you demonstrated good leadership.
  3. What is the toughest group from which you've had to get cooperation?
  4. Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas?  What was your approach?  Did it work?
  5. Describe a situation in which you had to change your leadership style to achieve the goal?
  6. 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!