Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Make It A Habit To Ask Your Employees These 6 Questions


As explained in John Baldoni's, book, Lead With Purpose, Marshall Goldsmith suggests all leaders make it a habit to regularly ask their employees these six questions:


  1. Where do you think we should be going?
  2. Where do you think you and your part of the business should be going?
  3. What do you think you're doing well?
  4. If you were the leader, what ideas would you have for you?
  5. How can I help?
  6. What suggestions or ideas do you have for me?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Three Pillars Of Executive Presence


After two years of research, forty focus groups and a national survey, author Sylvia Ann Hewlett contends the three pillars of Executive Presence are:

  • How you act (gravitas)
  • How you speak (communication)
  • How you look (appearance)
All three work together to help you telegraph (signal) to others that you have what it takes and that you're star material.  

"One thing to note at the start is that these pillars are not equally important--not by a long shot," explains Hewlett.  "Gravitas is the core characteristic."

And according to the senior leaders that Hewlett researched the top aspects of  gravitas are:
  1. Confidence and "grace under fire"
  2. Decisiveness and "showing teeth"
  3. Integrity and "speaking truth to power"
  4. Emotional intelligence
  5. Reputation and standing/"pedigree"
  6. Vision/charisma
In her new book, Executive Presence, she teaches how to act, communicate and look your best while avoiding the most common blunders in each of these three categories.

Hewlett is also a big believer in the power and value of having a sponsor, and explains that sponsors are not mentors.

"Sponsors are powerful leaders who see potential in you and, provided you give them 110 percent, will go out on a limb to make things happen for you.  Because sponsors have a vested interest in how you turn out (your reputation now being linked with their own), they will give you the kind of feedback that mentors can't or won't," says Hewlett.

Hewlett is the founding president of the Center for Talent Innovation.  Her book, Forget a Mentor: Find a Sponsor, was named one of the ten best business books of 2013 and won the Axiom Book Award.

Thanks HapperCollinsPublishers for sending me a copy of Executive Presence.

Monday, August 18, 2014

How To Understand Cultural Differences To Drive Business Success



"The way we are conditioned to see the world in our own culture seems so completely obvious and commonplace that it is difficult to imagine that another culture might do things differently, "says author Erin Meyer.  "It is only when you start to identify what is typical in your culture, but different from others, that you can begin to open a dialogue of sharing, learning, and ultimately understanding."

And, that's why Meyer wrote her new book, The Culture Map.

It's a fascinating read.  And, one that should be required reading for any leader doing business globally or leading a culturally diverse workforce.

Meyer explains in her book that there are eight scales (the Culture Map), each of which represents one key area that leaders must be aware of, showing how cultures vary along a spectrum from one extreme to its opposite.  The eight scales are:

  1. Communicating:  low-context vs. high-context
  2. Evaluating:  direct negative feedback vs. indirect negative feedback
  3. Persuading:  principles-first vs. applications-first
  4. Lending:  egalitarian vs.hierarchical
  5. Deciding:  consensual vs. top-down
  6. Trusting:  task-based vs. relationship-based
  7. Disagreeing:  confrontational vs. avoids confrontation
  8. Scheduling:  linear-time vs. flexible-time
"The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work," explains Meyer.  "So whether we are aware of it or not, subtle differences in communication patterns and the complex variations in what is considered good business or common sense from one country to another have a tremendous impact on how we understand one another, and ultimately on how we get the job done."

For example, when employees around the world are asked by Meyer to respond to the statement, "It is important for a manager to have at hand precise answers to most of the questions that subordinates may raise about their work," far fewer employees in Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK believe this to be true...versus employees in Spain, Italy and Portugal who more readily agree with this statement.

The Culture Map is filled with engaging, real-life stories and anecdotes from around the world.  It's based on years of extensive research by Meyer, who is a professor at INSEAD and the program director for INSEAD's Managing Global Virtual Teams program.

What you learn from the book will be useful to you when your work on a team, email a colleague, participate on a conference call, communicate on the phone with an international customer, or travel to a foreign country.

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

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Classical Wisdom For Modern Leaders


Mark your calendars now to check out the November 2014 release of, The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership:  Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders.

You'll step back in time to learn philosophies of the past and how to apply them today.

Authors M. A. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas offer a fresh approach to becoming a great leader by learning from antiquity's great thinkers, such as Aristotle, Hesiod, Sophocles, Heraclitus, and others.

Each chapter in the book is devoted to one philosophy of leadership that equate to ten simple rules:

  1. Know Thyself
  2. Office Shows the Person
  3. Nurture Community at the Workplace
  4. Do Not Waste Energy on things You Cannot Change
  5. Always Embrace the Truth
  6. Live Life by a Higher Code
  7. Always Evaluate Information with a Critical Eye
  8. Never Underestimate the Power of Personal Integrity
  9. Character is Destiny
You'll learn how to take each idea and apply it to the challenges of the modern workplace.

According to the authors, the key distinguishing features of an authentic leader is traceable to a philosophically informed worldview and that the ancient classical tradition is a rich and valuable source of such insights.

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








Saturday, August 16, 2014

4 Ways To Make Your Executive Coaching Experience A Success


If you are a leader already engaging with an executive coach, or contemplating engaging one, here are four ways to make your coaching experience a success, as reported in a relatively recent issue of Fortune magazine:
  1. Find the right match. Find someone to push and challenge you. To encourage you and to hold you accountable. Be sure the person you engage with is a person you can trust and can talk to easily.
  2. Be aware of your company's expectations. If your boss hired the coach to work with you, make sure your boss, and your boss's boss, share their expectations and hoped-for outcomes with you. Then, make sure your coach knows that those things belong at the top of your goals list.
  3. Get your money's worth. Work with your coach on issues or questions that have a direct correlation to success in your job.
  4. Be sure your coach sees you in action. Allow your coach to observe you interacting with your peers or direct reports. This also gives your colleagues a sense that you're seen as valuable and promotable. And, it shows them that you're working on improving yourself.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Mission Versus A Vision


Here's a good definition of the difference between a mission and a vision by leadership book authors George Bradt, Jayme A. Check and Jorge Pedraza:
  • Mission - A mission guides what people do every day. It informs what roles need to exist in the organization.
  • Vision - A vision is the picture of future success. It helps define areas where the organization needs to be best in class and helps keep everyone aware of the essence of the company.

5 Traits Of An Effective Leader


I was recently asked, "What five most important traits must a leader have to be effective?"  I could reply fairly quickly, but I did take a moment to remember that when I asked a similar question in a LinkedIn group discussion, group members offered up nearly 100 different adjectives to describe an effective leader.

But, for me, I contend the five most important traits are:
  1. Good communicator. That means effectively communicating timely and consistent messages during good and bad times. And, knowing how and when to be a good listener. Communicating is critical. Employees must hear from their leaders. And, hearing from their leaders in person versus e-mail and written memos is even more effective.
  2. Being a servant leader. Put your employees and your company first. A top manager who makes decisions that are self-serving will lack followers and will bring the company down.
  3. Adaptable. Today, more than ever, a leader needs to adapt. That means adapting to competitive and industry situations. It also means being willing to change your decisions if new information or circumstances warrant the change.
  4. Decisive. Leaders who aren’t decisive and who can’t make a decision will spin their organization into a frozen state where employees are unmotivated, wasting time, and discouraged.
  5. Motivating. Smart, decisive, engaging, tough yet fair, personable and encouraging leaders are motivating. These leaders motivate employees to deliver their best for their leaders and for their company.
What is your list of five traits?


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Are You A SPARK Leader?


You practice SPARK leadership if you:
  • Share Information
  • Play to Strengths
  • Ask for Input and Appreciate Different Ideas
  • Recognize and Respond to Individual Needs
  • Keep Your Commitments
A great reminder from the President and CEO of American Management Association, Edward T. Reilly.  You'll find more good advice in his new book, AMA Business Boot Camp.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Power Of Teamwork


Leadership Quotes From The 5 Levels Of Leadership


Here are some of my favorites quotes from the book that I believe should become a must-read book by any workplace/organizational leader -- John C. Maxwell's book, The 5 Levels of Leadership:
  1. Good leadership isn't about advancing yourself.  It's about advancing your team.
  2. Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.
  3. Leadership is action, not position.
  4. When people feel liked, cared for, included, valued, and trusted, they begin to work together with their leader and each other.
  5. 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.
  6. Good leaders must embrace both care and candor.
  7. People buy into the leader, then the vision.
  8. Bringing out the best in a person is often a catalyst for bringing out the best in the team.
  9. Progress comes only from taking risks and making mistakes.
  10. Leaders are measured by the caliber of leaders they develop, not the caliber of their own leadership.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

4 Ways To Lead A Successful Business Operation



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:
  1. Involve your team in setting standards that are achievable but also require everyone to stretch their knowledge and skills.
  2. Remember that regardless of what you say, it is the performance you're willing to accept that becomes your true standard.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

10 Characteristics Of High-Performing Teams


According to Ron Ricci and Carl Wiese, authors of the book, The Collaboration Imperative, high-performing teams have the following characteristics:
  1. People have solid and deep trust in each other and in the team's purpose--they feel free to express feelings and ideas.
  2. Everybody is working toward the same goals.
  3. Team members are clear on how to work together and how to accomplish tasks.
  4. Everyone understands both team and individual performance goals and knows what is expected.
  5. Team members actively diffuse tension and friction in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.
  6. The team engages in extensive discussion, and everyone gets a chance to contribute--even the introverts.
  7. Disagreement is viewed as a good thing and conflicts are managed.  Criticism is constructive and is oriented toward problem solving and removing obstacles.
  8. 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 little second-guessing occurs.
  9. Each team member carries his or her own weight and respects the team processes and other members.
  10. The leadership of the team shirts from time to time, as appropriate, to drive results.  No individual members are more important than the team.

Friday, August 8, 2014

10 Most Common Barriers To Effective Communication


The person I turn to for effective communication advice, David Grossman, has released a new eBook called, Top 10 Barriers Communicators Face:  How to Get Your Leader on Board with Internal Communication.

"Today, the savviest executives are realizing the power and potential of communication to drive results.  Smart leaders know they need to connect the dots differently than before," explains David.

  • This free eBook helps communication professionals recognize the 10 most common barriers to effective communication that leaders construct

It reveals what communicators can say to their leaders to help guide their thinking and offers a host of actionable tips for moving leaders past these barriers, including what to say and what to do.

The ebook teaches how to break barriers from leaders who are:
  • Scattered; communicate reactively
  • Trapped in the tactical
  • Not engaged in communication planning
  • Don’t value communication
  • Providing you limited access to him or her
Thanks David, for another great resource.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

13-point Checklist To Evaluate Your Call Center's Customer Service



Every business leader should periodically call his/her company to observe how their customers are being treated by their employees -- because, all too often a phone conversation becomes a customer turnoff rather than a relationship builder.

So, here's a checklist that is primarily from sales expert and author Paul R. Timm that you can use to evaluate your organization's customer service via the phone:

1. Was the phone answered after two rings or less?
2. Did the employee use an appropriate greeting?
3. Did the employee identify himself or herself by name?
4. Was the employee's tone of voice pleasant and businesslike?
5. Was the call handled efficiently without being abrupt?
6. Did the employee provide accurate information or refer the caller to an appropriate person?
7. Did the employee reflect the best image for the company?
8. Did the employee thank the caller?
9. Did the employee make prudent use of putting the caller on hold if it was necessary to do so?
10. Did the employee use friendly and tactful words?
11. Did the employee accuse the customer of anything?
12. Did the employee fumble when transferring the call if making a transfer was necessary?
13. Was there distracting background noise on the employee's end during the call?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Aren't We Pretty Much All The Same?



When I think about all my colleagues, co-workers and employees, former co-workers, friends, and teammates, I content that we are pretty much all the same.  Even though I read nearly daily articles about all the various generations in the workforce and how "different" we all are.

I content that despite who you are, we pretty much all have the following in common.  We want and need to be:
  • Respected
  • Valued
  • Heard
  • Appreciated
  • Accepted
  • Engaged
  • Encouraged
Young and not so young; man or woman; new to the workforce or long-time employee, don't we all have these needs in common?

I believe we do. 

So, as a leader, keep these basic needs in mind when you lead your employees, teams and groups, and you are bound to be a leader for whom employees will want to work.