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Opinions and information on leadership and leadership development by Dan McCarthy
Updated: 2 hours 6 min ago

Values in Dynamic Tension

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 06:00

Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:
Have you prioritized your values so you know which ones are more important than the others? Or are all of your personal values “tied for first?”
Here’s a way to test this idea. Note down your top four personal values, the desired principles that guide your day-to-day plans, decisions, and actions.
If you’ve formalized your personal values, this exercise took mere seconds. If you’ve not formalized them, it probably took longer.
You can’t consistently act on your values unless you’ve specifically defined them. Formalizing desired values requires you to identify 3-4 values that you covet. Then, add your definition for each value. Finally, include three or four behaviors for each value that specify exactly how you live or demonstrate that value day to day.
Here are my life values:
○     Integrity – Definition: Do what I say I will do. Behaviors: Formalize my commitments with clear agreements. Keep my commitments. Live my values and behaviors.○     Joy – Definition: Celebrate the pleasure derived from doing things I’m good at and which serve others well. Behaviors: Be happy; if I’m not happy, change it up so happiness is present. Surround myself with happy people who see the good in others. Engage in the grace I feel when serving others well.○     Learning – Definition: Actively seek out information that builds new knowledge and skills. Behaviors: Scan the environment for current research and discoveries that enlighten me. Refine my skills often; toss antiquated approaches for improved approaches. Proactively share my learning so others benefit.○     Perfection – Definition: Deliver excellence. Behaviors: Deliver what I promise, on time and under budget. Exceed standards or expectations where possible. Consistently WOW my partners and customers.
There is a school of thought that says prioritizing values is the best way to act on them, especially under pressure. For example, if you had “safety” as your top value and “service” as your number two value, safety would take precedence over service. A safety issue would demand action even if it meant service would be negatively impacted that day (or hour).
Another school of thought says that all of your values are of equal, top priority. If you’ve outlined your values, why would you make one more important than another?
Reality, time constraints, emergencies, etc. will require you to act on only one or two values at a time; I believe the best approach lies somewhere in between the above two. Start with the belief that your values are all tied for first, and understand that your values are in “dynamic tension.” Acting on certain values while setting other values aside, even for a moment, will require you to circle back and apply any valued behaviors that were “passed over” in that instance.
So, if you acted on your “safety” value and inhibited “service” for a time, you would follow up with the player (or players) that you missed the service value on to explain what happened and make amends as soon as possible.
How do you manage competing values? What suggestions would you add to address values in “dynamic tension”? Please share your insights, comments, and questions in the comments section below.
S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here
Categories: Blogs

Creating a Winning Corporate Culture Through People Power

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 12:10

Guest post from Eric Tetuan:
Creating a winning company culture starts with an investment in people. Not just investing in staff, but in relationships with clients as well as the people you serve. It requires having a deep understanding of human connections, of bonds, and of ways to break down barriers. Adopting a policy focused on people can make the difference in achieving successful outcomes. Employees who feel understood and appreciated are often more productive and willing go that extra mile on behalf of a client. It is one of the reasons why we receive repeat business and why our clients trust us with their biggest moments. It is also the reason for our high employee retention rate, and the lasting friendships amongst our staff members.While every company is different, adopting values that speak to your core beliefs will not only help you attract quality candidates it will help build a sense of unity in the workplace. Develop initiatives that not only support your company’s mission but will improve the lives of your employees and the world around them. Inspire transformational thinking and experimentation amongst your staff, challenge them to think outside the box. Through collaboration, great minds can come together to tackle your toughest challenges advancing what’s possible. Design programs that not only do good in the community but improve motivation and communication within the office. Ask staff members to champion a cause that is near and dear to them, from donating their time at a soup kitchen, to ensuring that their coworkers are content. It is this culture of caring, of working for a greater good, that unites a staff and compels them to be the best they can be both personally and professionally. It will foster a spirit of collaboration, one where individuals share their knowledge to help their colleagues, and where professional development pays off. By creating a smarter workforce, you are creating a team able to produce amazing results on behalf of your clients, your partners as well as your consumers.

5 Tips to a Winning Work Culture:
The Power of People Make your people feel that they are the heart and soul of your culture. It will ensure that your team feels connected to your mission, supported as individuals and that they feel appreciated for the work that they do. Recognizing that your employees spend more than one-third of their time in the workplace, create programs that are geared toward increasing employee satisfaction and promoting health and well-being. Offer in office exercise classes, healthy cooking classes, celebrate together with happy hours.  Boost office morale with staff appreciation days where you can pamper them with a catered lunch, spa treatments or present them with a small gift. By showing your team that you care about their well-being, it will result in increased job satisfaction and productivity. An investment in happier employees ultimately manifests in happier clients and consumers.
Honoring the EnvironmentAsk your employees to contribute to a better world. Find ways to protect the environment both in and out of the office. Create policies that promote energy efficiency, reduce waste and water conservation. Recycle plastics, aluminum, e-waste, and consider composting leftover lunches. Find ways to divert and donate old office furniture, add dimmable occupancy sensors in conference rooms, and use programmable controls for lights and thermostats. Simply asking your employees to turn off all of the lights before leaving can make a huge difference in energy conservation and how they feel about the environment.
Giving BackCreate a culture of giving. Support causes and organizations that can make a difference in your community by donating your time, money, or left-over materials. Share knowledge and resources that can help someone achieve their goal.  Empower your team to get involved with relief efforts and educational programs, create a mentorship program, or donate labor. Create a culture where PTO is available for employees to make a difference and effect change. By inspiring your team to get involved, they will become more engaged not only with the company, but with their peers in pursuit of improving the lives of those around them.
Innovation + CollaborationFinding a pathway to improvement starts with an in-depth understanding of your challenges. Circulate surveys and collect honest feedback, use your deficiencies as a tool to find new solutions. Experiment with a variety of options, assign a team to explore and test theories, give them the freedom and space to become invested in the outcome. Empower your team by listening and acknowledging. A team that communicates well becomes a powerful tool to implement change.  
Knowledge is PowerInvest in your people. Provide employees with unique opportunities to advance their careers through education, training and certification. Host training workshops to assist teams in finding solutions to their toughest challenges. Support an employee’s quest for knowledge by letting them attend relevant seminars, webinars, help them stay at the top of their field with select conferences. Host lunch + Learns with deep insights into relevant topics and needed skills, create a library filled with resources to help your staff elevate their game.
Ultimately, by investing in people you are investing in a culture that supports personal growth and fuels productivity. A team that is able to come together to innovate and collaborate in exciting new ways that can impact on your bottom line. You are investing in a company culture that is better able to support your corporate mission, in an empowered team who is ready to assist clients and consumers with a transformational energy that can greatly improve your bottom line.

Co-founder and chief innovative officer at productionglue, Eric Tetuan has built his impressive technical portfolio over 25 years in New York City production. His skills reflect many different technical roles, including “in the trenches” experience.As the company evolved, Eric’s focus turned to supporting growth, maintaining project performance, and overseeing office culture. Productionglue has seen a double-digit revenue increase for over a decade. Eric oversees the management of all of the processes to ensure that productionglue can deliver the best possible results. He established an internal review process (the “g-brief") to learn from projects and improve the way we work, in real time.
Categories: Blogs

Great Leadership: The Power of I’s

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 06:00

Guest post from Bob Nelson:
In my new book, 1,001 Ways to Engage Employees (Career Press) I examine the top ten factors that most impact employee engagement in order of their priority, according to a regression analysis of 3 million employee surveys, and then provide specific real-life examples of what each factor looks like in practice in successful companies today.
Not surprising, I found that one of the most significant drivers of employee engagement is One’s Immediate Manager and all aspects that make up that relationship between a manager and his or her employees, that is, the bond that is created by effective leaders with those they lead. 
The best leaders demonstrate their long-term commitment to their employees through the specific behaviors they display on a daily basis.  Better yet, the most important behaviors leaders can do to develop and maintain motivated, engaged employees tend to have little or no cost, but rather are a function of the daily interactions that managers have with employees pertaining to work in the context of each employees’ jobs.
I remember some of the most important themes great leaders provide from the first letter of the word, which I call “The Power of the I’s”:
Interesting and Important Work—Everyone should have at least part of their job be of high interest to them. As the management theorist Frederick Herzberg once said, “If you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do.” Yes, some jobs may be inherently boring, but you can give anyone in such a job at least one task or project that’s stimulating to that person. Name him or her to a suggestion committee that meets once a week, or to some other special group. The time away from the regular job is likely to be more than made up with increased productivity.
Information, Communication and Feedback on Performance—With presumed employment for life largely a thing of the past, employees want more than ever to know how they are doing in their jobs and how the company is doing in its business. Start telling them how the company makes money and how it spends money. Make sure there are ample channels of communication to encourage employees to be informed, ask questions and share information. At least some of the communication channels should directly involve management in non-intimidating circumstances. Soon you’ll have them turning out the lights when they’re last to leave a room.
Involvement in Decisions and a Sense of Ownership—Involving employees—especially in decisions that affect them—is both respectful to them and practical. People that are closest to the problem or the customer typically have the best insight as to how a situation can be improved. They know what works and what doesn’t, but often are never asked for their opinion. As you involve others, you increase their commitment and ease in implementing any new idea or change.
Independence, Autonomy and Flexibility—Most employees—especially experienced, top-performing employees—value being given room to do their job as they best see fit. All employees also appreciate having flexibility in their jobs. When you provide these factors to employees based on desired performance, it increases the likelihood that they will perform as desired—and bring additional initiative, ideas and energy to the job as well.
Increased Opportunity for Learning, Growth and Responsibility—Everyone appreciates a manager who gives credit where it is due. The chances to share the successes of employees with others throughout the organization are almost limitless. In addition, most employee development is on-the-job development that comes from new learning opportunities and the chance to gain new skills and experience. Giving employees new opportunities to perform, learn and grow as a form of recognition and thanks is very motivating to most employees.
Behind all of these themes is a basic premise of trust and respect and having the best interests of your employees at heart. You will never get the best effort from employees today by building a fire under them; rather, you need to find a way to build a fire within them to obtain extraordinary results from your people.

Bob Nelson, Ph.D. is the leading authority on employee recognition, rewards and engagement in the world and has been named a Top Thought Leader by the Best Practice Institute. He has sold 5 million books on those topics, the latest of which is 1,001 WAYS TO ENGAGE EMPLOYEES: Help People Do Better What They Do Best (Career Press).
Categories: Blogs

The Quality All Great Leaders Have in Common – and How to Cultivate It Within Yourself

Thu, 10/25/2018 - 06:00

Guest post from Christy Whitman
Above all other qualities, vision is the most essential to extraordinary leadership.   Throughout every era of time, and in in every imaginable industry, the most influential leaders have been those who innately understand that what has been in the past, as well as the circumstances that exist in the present, do not have the power to limit the potential of what can be created in the future.  Great leaders hold tenaciously to the reality they envision in their hearts — even in the shadow of previous failures, and even in the absence of tangible evidence that what they want is possible to achieve.  In other words, a great leader is someone who gives more credence to the vision that calls to them than they do to any voice of disbelief or doubt.  Most of the world is not living in a mindset of true leadership, but has instead fallen into the habit of simply reacting to whatever is going on around them.   And while it is very compelling to give our attention, our focus, and therefore our powerful, magnetic creative energy to those things that are not right now as we would like them to be, directing the precious gift of our attention in this manner nails our creative feet to the floor and keeps us from cooperating with our own desires.  Leadership requires us to launch ourselves out of the very human tendency to allow other people, external circumstances, and our own self-doubts to dictate what we believe we can accomplish, and therefore what we allow ourselves to envision.  Posing as the truth, these considerations are often camouflaged as legitimate concerns that go something like this: I don’t have the money. It’s not the right time. What will others think? If I go for my dream, I might fail. I should just be happy with the life I have.  Considerations like these may appear as formidable conditions over which we are powerless, but this is both an illusion and a critical error in thinking. The obstacle that stands in our way is not a money problem, a time problem or a people problem; it’s a vision problem. When we are focused only upon the current conditions of our lives, we deprive ourselves of our innate ability to create anything different.  We simply cannot give our attention to things that are other than we’d like them to be and create what we want at the same time.    In every moment, we are either doing one or the other. 
So for example, if you, as the leader of an organization, are focused upon the weakness or ineffectiveness of your team, you must understand that you are using your powerful creative energy to contradict rather than support your own desire to lead them to success.  But when on the other hand you go out of your way to notice and then deliberately appreciate each person and aspect of your business that is working well, your focus is aligned with your vision, and you are nurturing its growth and ultimate fruition through the power of your attention.   Some people believe that being a great leader requires discipline – and it most certainly does – but it’s not the “nose to the grindstone” effort and struggle that we’ve been taught is necessary for success.   The most important discipline that we as leaders can ever practice is that which takes place not in the realm of action, but in the quiet of our own minds.  It takes great discipline to identify a particular outcome and summon the intention to make it happen.  It takes discipline to focus on a desire with enough clarity that it begins to coalesce into a vision.  And it takes discipline to bring the energy of our most frequent and consistent thoughts, feelings, moods and expectations into alignment with the vision of what we do want, rather than chronically noticing the absence of it.  Once we have aligned ourselves with our own vision so completely that we are not simply willing to entertain any other possibility, we unlock the secret to magnetism, to charisma, and to seamlessly attracting those who want nothing more than to play their role in the play that we are orchestrating.
Right now in your own life, you are surrounded by conditions and considerations that may have you convinced that you are powerless to become the leader you desire to be, whether in your business or in your personal life.  You may believe that you’re too old, that the odds are stacked against you, or that everything you desire to accomplish has already been done before.  But however these thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions show up for you, it’s imperative that you begin to recognize them for what they really are.  They may be evidence of what has been, but they don’t need to limit your vision of what can become.  Once you understand that what you direct your energy toward is what you will ultimately begin to attract, you will reclaim the power to create your life on purpose rather than by default, and, by example, you will teach others how to do the same. 
Christy Whitman is a transformational leader and the New York Times bestselling author of The Art of Having It All and co-author of Taming Your Alpha Bitch. Here new book is called Quantum Success: 7 Essential Laws for a Thriving, Joyful, and Prosperous Relationship with Work and Money.  She has appeared on Today and The Morning Show, and her work has been featured in People, SeventeenWoman’s DayHollywood Life, and Teen Vogue, among others. As the CEO and founder of the Quantum Success Coaching Academy, Christy has helped thousands of people worldwide to achieve their goals through her empowerment seminars, speeches, coaching sessions, and products. She currently lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with her husband and their two boys.
Categories: Blogs

Enduring Uncertainty

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 06:30

Guest post from Chris Lewis:
Go on admit it. You’re busy, right? Busier than last year. Busier probably than five years ago. In fact, you’re busier than you can ever remember being. You’re now so busy most people couldn’t even begin to understand how busy you are. And you don’t have time to tell them anyway. 
There was a time when life was slower. It all used to be so certain. You could plan. You could predict. You could be safe. Well, how’s that working out for ya after 9/11, the banking crisis, Brexit, and Trump? It’s a constant crisis.
The characteristic of all leadership in the 21st century is now the speed at which it needs to respond to crises as well as doing their day job. Burnt-out leaders end up with never-ending ‘to-do’ lists, and that’s not really their job. Of course, they need to do something; everyone knows that. Leaders though are more than that. They have to ‘be’ something. They need to represent values because that’s what permits a collective identity. If you don’t have that, you can’t have leaders.
Try this test. Ask someone to describe their parents. Usually, they respond that their parent is loving or caring or patient or dynamic or ambitious. Now ask them to describe themselves.
Usually, they say they go to work or take their kids to school or help them with their homework or put them to bed. What’s the difference? The latter description focuses on what the person does – primarily how they manage things. The former though is quite distinctive.  It focuses on who people are. That’s the essence of leadership – who you are. The values matter.
Three things always hamper any talk of leadership.
First, it’s unusual to sit and discuss leadership because everyone is now so busy. Conversation, especially among busy strangers, is particularly difficult. It usually happens online and conforms to Godwin’s Law which asserts that people will be likened to Nazis in direct proportion to the length of the conversation.
This brings up another point that just because we have more communication, it doesn’t follow that there is more conversation. And no conversation means no ability to negotiate or resolve emotions.
Secondly, it starts from an ego-centric idea that any discussion of leadership focuses on the leader and never the -ship. This is the model of the infallible, visionary, confident, male which has been passed down through centuries from Moses to Elon Musk. You’ve seen that movie before. 
Of course, it’s a complete myth. Sure, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, but did he get there without a team?
This is where the ‘infallible male’ idea is revealed as a myth. There is a great deal of research out there that says this model is becoming outdated.
Let’s take the principle of collaboration and teamwork. On almost any measure, female leaders are more effective at collaboration, empathy, and teamwork than men. Often, this takes the form of female leaders sacrificing personal goals to meet those of others. 
Male leaders are most usually the other way around. They achieve individual goals at the expense of the broader group. The argument for gender equality in leadership is not just a matter of social justice. It’s imperative for efficiency.
Finally, male egocentric leadership is the provenance of all certainty. This is pickled in logic, analysis, and data. It permits men to predict. It does not allow teams to prepare. This is where we need more than a Western Reductionist philosophy. 
Analysis has been essential and continues to be, but parenthesis matters, too. Think of it like this. Drill-down, yes. But look-across, also.
Female leadership allows the uncertainty of imagination and emotion into leadership. Thus, the provenance of all certainty is not fact, but mediocrity. Leaders must embrace uncertainty because that’s all that exists now and in the future.
Chris Lewis is co-author, with Pippa Malmgrem, of The Leadership Lab: Understanding Leadership In The 21st Century. Lewis, a former journalist, is founder of one of the largest creative agencies in the world, LEWIS. Founded in 1995, his practice now encompasses more than 25 offices and 500 staff. He is British, but splits his time between Britain and America. For more information, please visit:
Categories: Blogs

Letting Go of the Big Chief Motif

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 14:39

Guest post from Bishop Joseph Warren Walker, III:
Discipline, focus and drive got you where you are today. You lost count of the sacrifices long ago – free weekends, discretionary purchases, a good night’s sleep – all to achieve your vision. You did it. Now get over it.
We all want to be effective leaders so that we can guide others to contribute to our vision, but we tend to overlook the importance of humility in leadership. By humility, I don’t mean modesty about what you have achieved; I mean being humble enough to abandon the “Big Chief” mentality and embrace the input of others. Forget the CEO or Executive or Senior Whatever title you have and get down in the trenches. Better yet, lift up those around you and empower them to work alongside you. In doing so, you not only effectively lead others, but also guide them to follow suit.
The need for personal recognition can be a powerful, yet blinding, force. I experienced this myself several years ago. I was sitting in a meeting during which we were trying to find a way to overcome the challenge of getting other churches and pastors to come together. The issue, one of my colleagues suggested, was that no one could figure out who should be in charge. The role of the leader had become more important than the work being done. People get used to operating in this “Big Chief” motif because their egos crave it. But, it’s bad for business. In addition to limiting innovation, it creates smaller chiefs who want to maintain power they assume they have. So, the employee who craves your approval cares little about advancing your vision, and more about advancing his or her own career. This leads to jealousy, insecurity and grandstanding.
After experiencing this among my own team, I made some changes. I abandoned the hierarchical, top down flow chart and shifted to a relational model. I drew a circle and put myself in the middle. All of my managers were placed around the circle. Now, when I share a vision, I share it with all of them and ask for input. In turn, I respect input from anyone in that circle. In fact, I even welcome input from team members outside of the circle. The possibility of a groundbreaking idea is more valuable to me than maintaining this idea of seniority.
Working with others rather than above them does not mean you are minimizing what you have accomplished or demeaning your capabilities. Rather, you are expanding your potential. We have incredible limitations on our time; if all ideas stop with us, very little will ever get done. And, as intelligent as we may be, it takes the ideas of many to spark true brilliance. Collaboration fosters innovation. You cannot be cutting edge if your circle always depends on you to do the thinking. Proverbs 27:17 declares, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”
When we let go of the focus on titles, positions and accolades, we set the tone for successful ideation and instill this characteristic in others, cultivating the next wave of leadership. This is humility at its best – productive and positive. It helps everyone in your orbit feel empowered to contribute to a collective vision, driving it forward rather than simply being passengers along for the ride. This is the how to dispense with Chiefs, big and small, and focus instead on building a better team.  

About the author:

Bishop Joseph Warren Walker, III is the pastor of the historic Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee and Presiding Bishop of Full Gospel Baptist Fellowship International. In 1992 at the age of 24, Bishop Walker began his pastorate at Mt. Zion with 175 members, which has grown to over 30,000, and continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. He’s the author of the book called No Opportunity Wasted: The Art of Execution. You can connect with Bishop Walker at:
Categories: Blogs

Why Managers Don’t Listen (Poor Listener Syndrome): and the Cures!

Tue, 10/09/2018 - 06:30

One of the most important skills for any manager is listening. Listening demonstrates respect, concern, an openness to new ideas, empathy, compassion, curiosity, trust, loyalty, and receptivity to feedback – all considered to be qualities of an effective leader.
Listening isn’t rocket science. We are born with the ability to listen, yet somehow managers, at some point in their careers, seem to forget how to use this natural born gift. Listening is one of the most consistently lowest rated behaviors in 360 degree feedback assessments for managers. It’s a management disease – Poor Listener Syndrome (PLS)!
Actually, it’s not just managers that don’t listen – it’s also employees, husbands, wives, kids, students, teachers, and just about human being with two ears. However, this is a management and leadership resource, so we’ll stick with listening in the context of a management skill.
So if listening is such an important management skill and it’s an ability we were born with, why do so many managers get feedback that say they are poor listeners?That’s an issue I’ve explored with several managers when I review their 360 assessment results. Here are the seven most frequent reasons, and a prescription for each cause:
1. They don’t know they are poor listeners – it’s a blind spot. A behavioral blind spot is the gap between our intentions and our behaviors. We see ourselves as a good listener, but others don’t. Given that candid feedbackis such a rare commodity, we are clueless about our flaws until they are pointed out by others. And even when they are, we sometimes still deny they exist (fight or flight).
The cure: Get some feedback. Feedback is a gift, and awareness is the key to self-development.
2. They don’t understand the value of listening. I’ll often have to spend time explaining the impact of poor listening to managers, either in a coaching session or in a training class. Sometimes I’ll demonstrate it. At some point, the light goes on, and for the first time in their lives they get it. These are the same managers who are often having issues in their personal lives, with their friends and family, and poor listening is often the culprit.
The cure: Read the research, discuss the importance of listening with others, and experience the positive effects when you focus on improving your listening skills!
3. They don’t know how to listen. Managers often get low scores in listening but insist they understand the importance of listening and that they DO listen. While this may be true (good intentions), others see behaviors that convey a lack of listening.
The cure: Listening skills are relatively easy behaviors to learn, with a little awareness and practice. They include:·         Making eye contact·         Head nodding·         An open posture·         Leaning forward·         Arms uncrossed·         Using encouraging phrases such as “go on”, “tell me more”, “uh uh”, or anything to show that you are paying attention·         Paraphrasing (repeating back in your own words to check for understandingTake a short course, read a book, observe others, practice, and get feedback. Like any new skill, it will feel unnatural at first, but with deliberate practice, the skill soon becomes a habit.
4. They are impatient, smart, or easily distracted. OK, these are actually three separate, but sometimes related causes. Highly successful, intelligent,  type A managersoften find it difficult to slow down and take the extra time to listen. They jump ahead and want to finish someone’s sentence, use hand gestures to speed someone along, or their minds start racing on to other issues and thoughts. Smartphone checking is a symptom of this impatience and habitual multi-tasking.
The cures: Shut the door, turn off the smartphone, focus, and give the person in front of you 100% of your attention. Think of it as a gift, and observe the difference in how others respond.
5. They listen selectively. This reason is one of the most common, and becomes apparent with 360 degree assessment results. The manager shows high in listening for the boss and superiors, but low with peers or direct reports.
The cure: The skills are there- you just have to apply them consistently!
6. They don’t value people at all. Managers won’t admit this, but when they try to justify their low listening scores, it becomes apparent that they just don’t see value in paying attention to what others have to say. They just may not be interested in people. In the worst cases, it’s extreme arrogance.
The cure: Fake it until you make it. If you can convince a manager that it is in their own selfish self-interest to at least pretend that they are listening, they might be willing to mimic listening behaviors. Yes, it’s not authentic, and some people will see through it, but sometimes if you practice a behavior long enough, you get good at it, and you start to become the behavior.
7. They have poor hearing. I know this from personal experience, when a caring manager told me that others were complaining that I didn’t listen to them. That, and my wife complaining that the TV was too loud.
The cause: get your hearing checked, and if you are told you need hearing aids (and can afford them), get it done. Your family and employees will appreciate it, and you’ll find out what you’ve been missing.
Need an executive coach that can work with you or your leaders to improve their listening skills? Or a half day training program? Please contact me to discuss!
Categories: Blogs

What if Serving Others Actually Serves You, too?

Thu, 10/04/2018 - 06:30

What if Serving Others Actually Serves You, too?

Guest post from S. Chris Edmonds:
The cashier at the checkout line at our local grocery store was literally singing. “Did you find everything you neeeedd?” was the next line in his obviously many-times-rehearsed “show,” and he smiled and laughed as he finished up. He most likely does not have had a high paying career as a cashier, but he does create a joyful work environment!

On a daily basis, can you say that your job brings you joy? Do you experience the pure pleasure of serving others beautifully, work well done, and cooperative interaction with team members? Do you relish the learning and discovery your work provides?
Or is work a source of consternation for you, with more politics than pleasure, more battles than beauty?
How about in the rest of your life? Do you experience the pure pleasure of serving others beautifully, work well done, and cooperative interaction with family members, friends, and neighbors, every day?
Or, not exactly?
Research on happiness (Happy Planet Index) and engagement (Towers Watson Global Workforce Study) indicates that people around the globe don’t experience well-being consistently at work or in their personal lives.
If you didn’t jump out of bed this particular morning excited about work, that doesn’t mean you should quit. But if you’re not genuinely inspired by your life and your work, you are likely eroding your well-being and life satisfaction.
I do suggest that you choose to refine your daily life to include activities that are aligned with your purpose and values, and that serve others well.
By adding engaging activities – slowly but intentionally – you increase your personal joy, service, and alignment. Even an hour a week will boost your positive well-being.How shall you start? First, identify activities that meet three criteria: you love doing them, they genuinely serve others, and they’re not against local laws.Second, identify current and possible avenues that would enable you to engage in those “high impact” activities.
Those activities might include things like:○     If you love learning and love books, create a book club. At work, try a monthly lunch meeting to review business books that might increase knowledge, efficiency, and teamwork.○     Volunteer at a local non-profit. Stock shelves at a food bank or serve meals at a homeless shelter.○     Start up a weekly music showcase at your local coffee house. Seek out musicians who would love to share their passions with a live audience.○     Volunteer at local events that inspire you. For example, every year since 1994 there has been a huge festival/conference called South By Southwestin Austin, TX. That three-week event requires 14,000 volunteers to help it run smoothly!
Third, don’t just think about engaging in these activities. DO them. Add at least an hour per week of your unique “high impact” activities, starting NOW.
You don’t need anyone’s permission to refine your life and work. Take the time to engage in activities you love and that serve others well – it’ll do you GOOD.
S. Chris Edmonds is a sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant. After a 15-year career leading successful teams, Chris founded his consulting company, The Purposeful Culture Group, in 1990. Chris has also served as a senior consultant with The Ken Blanchard Companies since 1995. He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Amazon best sellers The Culture Engine and Leading at a Higher Level with Ken Blanchard. Learn from his blog posts, podcasts, assessments, research, and videos at Get free resources plus weekly updates from Chris by subscribing here
Categories: Blogs

My Friend Ohm (the Elephant)

Thu, 09/27/2018 - 06:30

Guest post from Brent Chapman:
I awoke from a 3 hour ride in the back seat of a Toyota sedan to the driver telling us we had arrived.  We stepped out of the car into the muggy, humid morning of a remote location 200 kilometers outside of Bangkok.  To my amazement, we were the only vehicle in the dirt parking area amongst a compound of small insignificant buildings and…elephants.  Lots and lots of elephants.  Elephants just walking around like they ran the place. (Later to find out, they actually do run the place.)
An Elephant Camp is a unique experience.  It is a collection of elephants either sold or leased to the camp. The camp trains and cares for the elephants, and allows tourists (like us) to come and visit, ride, and swim with them.  They are free to roam.  There aren’t any cages. The only exception were the baby elephants housed in a caged area.  Apparently it’s not a great idea to let a baby elephant run around unsupervised.  Imagine a 400 pound one-year-old that can move fast!?! They explained that one baby had run through the wall of a building on the property and collapsed it.
They led us in to first eat breakfast and then off to meet our elephants.  My elephant was named Ohm.  This was nothing like when you see elephants ridden at the zoo.  There were no baskets or ropes. It was just me and Ohm. They helped us get on the elephant.  They instructed us to hold on to something and advised we grab their ear lobes.  Awesome, I know I love it when a stranger tugs on my earlobes.
Then the real journey began.  They taught us the voice commands needed to control our elephant and told us to meet them down at the river. Huh?  As in, their big plan was to leave us alone with these gigantic adult elephants, and control them with the 5 minute training session we just got. To be fair, Ohm knew the route and I had to do very little but to hold on and pray I didn’t fall 10 feet off the back of my new friend.
Side note: Interesting fact, elephants are hairy.  They have prickly hair all over their neck and back and it’s uncomfortable to sit on.
The first few minutes were very intimidating and then I got comfortable. Ohm walked me around the compound (stopping to get a snack occasionally) and took me down to the river where we swam and played and it was an awesome experience.  I went from pure fear to one of the coolest experiences of my life…and all I did was take a chance.  I had confidence, I held back the fear, and I took a chance on myself (and Ohm).
And so is life…and more appropriately, this is how our day-to-day careers transpire.  We wake up to something we weren’t expecting.  An opportunity of an assignment, or an issue that we have to complete with either very little explanation or none at all.  And we are expected to succeed.  And our jobs depend on it.  And how do we do it?  We do it with confidence.  We trust what we know, we trust ourselves, we grab the task and we make it happen. And those are the moments that help us grow and learn and evolve.  Those accomplishments are the moments that we cherish and that we use to motivate us for the next challenge.
So, when you get to work this week and someone hands you your own version of taking Ohm down to the river for a swim – Don’t be afraid, jump on and enjoy the ride!
Brent Chapman, CIO of RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing Corp, is co-author, with Kevin Brungardt, of a forthcoming book on leadership and culture. Chapman was named to the Charlotte Business Journal's 2018 40 Under 40 and has also been a finalist for both the 2018 Dallas CIO of the Year and the 2018 Charlotte CIO of the Year. For more information, please visit
Categories: Blogs

How Effective is Your Communication?

Thu, 09/20/2018 - 06:00

Guest post from David Hiatt:
Lack of effective communication skills has done more to keep good people from being promoted into leadership roles than any other skill deficiency.  I hope I have your attention because in over 30 years of working with managers and organizations, my experience is that a lack of effective communication skills has kept very talented and skilled people from becoming leaders.  They have this great knowledge and skill set for the job requirements but communicating in a manner to get positive outcomes from others was sorely lacking.
Communication is a basic human need.  Interacting with other humans has been the core of human progress throughout the ages.  Isolation and lack of human interaction will emotionally, mentally, and physically debilitate a person; as will ineffective conversations.  On the other end of the spectrum, when you communicate effectively and achieve more positive outcomes you enhance your sense of well-being.  I don’t know about you, but I know that I would prefer to think and feel better.  
Just because two or more people are talking with each other does not necessarily mean they are communicating. Communication requires several key skills and components.  Key components include understanding yourself and others, creating agreements about the conversation, emotional involvement (or lack of), attitude and beliefs, and your comfort zone. Skills include listening, and questioning.  If you want to achieve more positive outcomes with co-workers, or family and friends the above skills and components will improve your communication.
Understanding the other person can be key.  When you can identify the behavioral style or preferences of the other people with whom you communicate you are better able to adapt your message in such a way that the other people have a better chance of understanding you.  An example of this would be communicating with a Dominant Style who prefers, direct, to the point, task-oriented interactions and you want to chit-chat about the weather.  That Dominant person will not be engaged, and the odds of a positive outcome diminish. 
Another way to understand the others with whom you communicate is to determine if they are being emotional, judgmental, or just exchanging information; and then being self-aware enough to make sure that you are nurturing and sharing information without judgement or emotion.  It is okay to care enough to want a positive outcome but if you attempt to communicate when simply reacting to your or the other person’s emotions it is not unusual to find yourself in a shouting match with negative outcomes.
I have found that when you set goals and expectations for the important conversations you tend to get better results. What I mean is that the conversation should have an agreed upon purpose, confirmation of the time allotted, agreed upon agendas and expectations of people engaged in the conversation, and a goal or outcome at the end of the conversation.  When you add the component of a mutual agreement at the beginning of those important conversations you are better able to control the direction and therefore the outcome of the conversation.
Emotional involvement is double-edged.  As I mentioned earlier, you want to care enough to accomplish a positive outcome at the end of the conversation, yet you should not be communicating emotionally.  If you are communicating from your emotional ego-state, you will not be able to think objectively or to listen clearly.  Emotions will always cloud your thinking and cause you to say or to respond in a manner that will result in a less than positive outcome.
Your attitude and beliefs are intertwined with your self-concept and create your view of reality.  The important thing to remember is that the other person or people with whom you are communicating will not have the same view.  According to each person’s view, they are right.  Whatever beliefs you were taught or acquired throughout your life will become your definition of normal.  Your subconscious’ job is to keep you normal, whatever normal means to you.  Do a self-assessment of your attitudes and beliefs and decide which are still appropriate as an adult and which are hurting your efforts to be a more effective communicator.
Listening is a skill that much has been written about.  I urge you to read as much as you can on listening skills.  My experience has taught me that listening is much more than just looking at the other person and nodding my head! I must make sure that I am understanding what they are saying and the intention behind it.  This means the good listening skills should include good questioning skills. When you are unsure of what the other person is asking or saying you must ask them to clarify.  Be careful.  Your belief that it is rude to ask so many questions may prevent you from asking the key questions for real understanding, which, by the way, is what real listening is about.
David Hiatt is author of FROM THE BOARDROOM TO THE LIVING ROOM:  Communicate With Skill For Positive Outcomes. After 10 years of owning and operating a successful Sandler Training center, he was recruited by Sandler corporate to handle the bulk of national and international training through the Global Accounts division. With a BA and Masters in Communications, he is a passionate and energetic program leader who is truly concerned with helping others to grow, develop, and communicate.
Categories: Blogs

How to Address Sticky Workplace Office Etiquette Issues

Mon, 09/17/2018 - 06:00

A Pennsylvania man was allegedly fired for farting too much at work. Seriously. Apparently he had some medical issues, and he’s now suing his former employer.
Given that I write advice for managers, my immediate reaction to this story was to put myself in the manager’s shoes who had to deal with this sensitive breach of office etiquette. How would you like to have that conversation?
According to the lawsuit, it went something like this: "We cannot run an office and have visitors with the odor in the office," and "We are having complaints from people who have problems with the odors." 
Unfortunately, as a manager, chances are, at some point in your career, you will have to deal with some kind of office etiquette issue. While it may not be excessive farting, it may be one of these:
1. Swearing. No, I’m not talking about politically incorrect language, although that seems to be making the headlines too these days. I’m talking about dropping “F-bombs” at work. Some would say that swearing at work depends on the culture. I happen to disagree. In my opinion, the use of the F word has no place in any work environment. A manager’s use of language sets a good or bad example, and overlooking it is the same as condoning it. Just be aware that the swearing may be a medical condition.
2. Too much aftershave or perfume. This one’s pretty common – it’s “that guy” who shows up for work in the morning after dousing himself with his favorite man-spray. This one’s a little more subjective, as some people are more sensitive to strong smells than others. I would tend to overlook it and chalk it up as more of a “pet peeve” (unless another employee is allergic to such odors). After all, the smell does eventually dissipate, and it’s not as bad as …….
3. Body odor and bad breadth. This one depends on type of work environment (outdoors vs. indoors), type of work (physical labor vs. office work) and proximity to co-workers and customers. And again, odor is subjective. While probably more than a pet peeve but perhaps not as serious as excessive farting, it’s something that a manager could at least discuss with the employee. The employee may not even know and again, it could be a medical condition.
4. Talking too loud.We had one of these at a former company I worked at. He was great at his job and a super nice guy. However, employees didn’t want to sit next to him because he was so loud on the phone. While there are some workarounds to this kind of thing, the manager may need to have a discussion about use of “indoor vs. outdoor” voice. It becomes even more of an issue if the loud phone calls are not even work related, i.e., arguing with a spouse or having an argument with the cable company.
5. Dress code violations. Some employees just don’t seem to know the difference between dressing for work and dressing for a night out clubbing. If just an individual employee, the issue can be handled with a little coaching on how to dress appropriately at work. Or, you may have to establish a formal dress code policy.
For any of these sceneries, you first need to decide if the issue is just a “pet peeve” or a legitimate performance issue. See Are You Managing or Just Nagging? to learn more.
Here are two acid test questions:

1. Can I make a clear connection between the behavior (or lack of) and the performance output?

2. If the behavior doesn’t stop (or start), are you willing to take progressive disciplinary action, up to and including termination?
If your answer is “yes” to both, then it’s a performance issue, and needs to be dealt with. See How to Discuss an Employee Performance Problem to learn how.
In any of these scenarios, I would suggest that the manager consults with their human resources representative. They all contain potential landmines (ADA, harassment, discrimination, etc.), so it’s better to be cautious and smart instead of making a mistake that gets you and your company in legal hot water.
Categories: Blogs

Leaders Returning to their First Love

Thu, 09/13/2018 - 06:00

Guest post by Janet Britcher:

Entrepreneurship: Exploring
When professionals demonstrate excellence in their chosen field, they are often promoted to leadership, leaving behind their foundational expertise and for some, their first love. Some scientists give up the joys of the lab, some physicians the satisfaction of clinical work with patients, some cooks give up the creativity in the kitchen, for leadership or entrepreneurship. Can you have it all? I recently interviewed restaurant co-owner Rob Evans. He and his wife Nancy Pugh own and run the wildly successful Duckfat Restaurant in Portland Maine.
Leadership Learning
Due to the growth of his restaurants, Rob Evans developed leadership skills which enabled him to move out of the kitchen. He was motivated to learn how to be a good leader to keep serving more customers. Working with consultants from GISC, he deepened his commitment to quality workplace by honing his own management skills. In order to delegate more effectively, he arranged for his managers to develop their leadership skills further as well. Despite a natural tension between the front of the house and the kitchen (in other industries, that tension is between operations and sales) his retention rate is unusually high, over 80% of employees have been there over five years.
Entrepreneur: Return to the First Love
Now in addition to Duckfat, Rob has been called by his love of cooking back to the kitchen. Entrepreneurs are creators and risk takers, and by building a strong management team, Rob was able to consider what else he wanted for his role. Prior to opening Duckfat in 2006 with his wife Nancy Pugh, they owned and managed a high-end restaurant, Hugo’s. So he knows a range of restaurant offerings.
This new opportunity provides space for a production kitchen to support the high volume in the small space of Duckfat. In addition, he has a creative new offering: Duckfat Frites. It is located next to a Brewery, Oxbow, where customers can buy a beer and then order Belgian style Frites to go.  The production space is new, the informal partnership with a brewery is new, and the take-out window for Duckfat Frites is new. Entrepreneurs thrive on creativity and all leaders need to find ways to tap into innovation and make time for activities which are energizing.
His motivation?  “I wanted to be back in the kitchen, and developing my managers enabled me to do that. Duckfat serves up to 800 customers a day, in peak season. In order to be able to serve that many people, and coordinate our 40 employees, we need a good management structure and systems. We have worked hard to create that. Now I’m ready for a return to the hands-on work in the kitchen.”
Transplanting Culture
The new location, Duckfat Frites, has its own culture. Initially Rob thought it would be a copy of their successful Duckfat culture, but the nature of the work they do, the location and the space have combined to create something different. Still good, still positive and connected, yet with its own flair.Culture is hard to transplant, as any company which has been through a merger can attest. What did transfer was the positive spirit and collegiality.
Keeping Vibrant
Some leaders find the move into management to be satisfying expansion of skills, and discover a new passion for strategy, developing others, and leveraging impact. Others long for their prior kind of work, where they had expertise and more hands-on satisfaction. Either one can represent career advancement and development. I’m a fan of playing to strengths, and spending time and energy where there is creativity and passion. That plus focus translates into success, on either path. Some fortunate leaders like Rob Evans find a way to combine both.
Some executives ask, how do I know which would be better? As an executive coach, I have seen that self-reflection has a big payoff. It’s important to nourish what is enlivening, whether that’s through growth, expansion, diversification or a return to your first professional love.  For those who invest in reflection and self-awareness, it’s even possible to combine both.
Janet Britcher, MBA, is President of Transformation Management LLC in Boston. She offers executive coaching, leadership workshops, and retreat facilitation.
Categories: Blogs

50 Development Ideas for the 9 Box Performance and Potential Matrix

Mon, 09/10/2018 - 06:00
When using the performance and potential matrix (9 box) to assess leaders, some organizations will assess each employee, then discuss development at a follow-up meeting, or worst case, not at all.

An emerging best practice is to discuss specific development strategies for each employee as a part of the assessment discussion. That way, information concerning strengths and weaknesses is fresh in everyone’s minds and it’s a natural transition to move to strategies to move each employee to the next level of readiness.
While there may not be time to discuss every employee on the 9 box grid, high potential employee development should be discussed. These are the employees that will probably end up on succession planning lists, so it makes sense to involve the entire leadership team in brainstorming development strategies for these employees.
Here are general development guidelines for each of the nine boxes. These are of course just general guidelines, and judgment needs to be applied depending on context and the unique needs of the individual leader.
I would also caution against the temptation to come up with cute labels for each of the nine boxes (i.e., “rising stars”, or “steady performers”), or a list of descriptive characteristics for each of the nine boxes. These labels and/or descriptors will typically just cause confusion and add little value to the discussion.
1A (high potential, high performance):
·         Stretch assignments, things they don’t already know how to do, assignments that take them beyond their current role; high profile, where stakes are high
·         Give them a “start-up” assignment, something no one has done, a new product, process, territory, etc…
·         Give them a “fix-it” assignment, a chance to step in and solve a problem or repair someone else’s mess
·         Job change, rotations, job swaps, - an opportunity to experience a brand new role, short term or long term
·         Help them build cross-functional relationships with other A players
·         Find them a mentor – at least one level up. Provide an internal or external coach
Access to exclusive training opportunities
·         Access to meetings, committees, etc… one level up; exposure to senior managers, VPs; advisory Councils, Board of Directors
·         Watch out for signs of burnout
·         Watch for signs of retention risks; know how to “save” a hi-po
·         Next level up exposure, responsibilities, shadowing
2A (high performance, moderate potential):
·         Development activities similar to 1A
·         Difference is often degree of “readiness” for larger roles. Development is preparation for longer term opportunities
·         Continue to assess for potential
3A (high performance, limited potential):
·         Ask what motivates them and how they want to develop
·         Provide recognition, praise, and rewards
·         Provide opportunities to develop in current role, to grow deeper and broader capabilities and knowledge
·         Provide honest feedback about their opportunities for advancement if asked
·         Watch for signs of retention risks; know how to “save” a “hi-pro” (high professional)
·         Ask them to mentor, teach, and coach others
·         Allow them to share what they know, presentations at company meetings, external conferences, to be “the highly valued expert”
1B (good/average performance, high potential):
·         Development activities similar to 1A
·         Difference is current performance level
·         Focus more on competency gaps that will move them from B to A performance; good to great performance
·         Provide candid feedback and express your confidence
2B: (good/average performance, moderate potential):
·         May not be eager or able to advance; don’t push them, allow them to stay where they are
·         Continuously check-in regarding willingness to advance, relocate
·         Provide occasional opportunities to “test” them
·         Provide stretch assignments
·         Provide coaching and training
·         Help them move from “good to great”
·         Tell them they are valued
·         Listen to their ideas
·         Praise their accomplishments
·         Trust them
3B (good/average performance, limited potential):
·         Combination of performance management, training, and coaching to help them move from “OK to good”
·         Provide honest feedback about their opportunities for advancement if asked
1C (poor performance, high potential):
·         Find out the root cause of poor performance and together develop an action plan to improve
·         Consider moving the high potential to a different role (may have been a poor fit)
Provide additional support, resources
·         Look for ways to “attach” to 1As, 1Bs, or 2As
·         After a “reasonable” period of time, if performance does not improve, then re-examine your potential assessment
2C (often used for leaders too new to rate):
·         Focus is on onboarding, orientation, relationship building
·         Provide a peer mentor
·         Provide formal new leader training 
3C (poor performance, limited potential):
·         Use a performance management approach, not a developmental approach
Improvement action plan vs. an IDP
·         Clarify expectations
·         Identify and remove “blockers”, poor performers that are standing in the way of high potentials
·         Provide clearly defined goals
·         Be explicit about the ways in which they must improve
·         Provide remedial coaching and feedback
·         After trying all of the above, after a ”reasonable” amount of time, move the person out of the role. Dismiss or move to individual contributor role
Need help with your own talent review meeting and creating robust leadership development plans? I’ve run hundreds of them. Contact me to discuss.
Categories: Blogs

How to Be A Leader As An Individual Contributor

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 06:00
Guest post from Pam Didner:

When I speak at conferences, I frequently talk to young marketers. One common question they ask is “As an individual contributor, how can I be a leader, if I don’t ‘lead’ a team?” It certainly would be nice if you have a team that you can lead, but it’s not absolutely necessary. I tell them that the pre-requisite of leadership is not having a team to “lead.” Leadership comes in different facets. One of them is how you conduct yourself doing your job or working with your peers.

Here are 5 ways to become an effective leader as an individual contributor:

1. Know your strengths to provide value-add

You need to have a strong grasp of your own strengths. Working on a project is like playing a soccer game. To play a game effectively, you need to know what position(s) you want to play: defense, midfield or attack. Understanding your own strengths allows you to inform the project lead where he or she can better place you within a team. Most of the time, the placement is based on your current job scope. For example, you get pulled into a project because of your role in IT. Your engagement for the project is likely related to what you are doing in the IT department.

Say there is a project to source a technology vendor for a new marketing program and nobody on the team is responsible for vendor research. If your strength happens to be in conducting research, you can volunteer to take on the responsibility to showcase your expertise.

Yes, it’s more work, but it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate what else you can do, in addition to providing insights related to IT. Once you complete the research and provide your findings and recommendations, your team will come to look to you for answers.

Being a subject matter expert is one way to demonstrate leadership.

2. Tie your projects to business goals

Most of young individual contributors are very good at getting things done. That is great, but that is not good enough if you want to be a leader. One leadership trait is that you need to be able to articulate the impact of what you accomplish in the context of business goals or revenue.

Do you know your company’s or your group’s business goals? Can you quantify your contribution to the project in relationship to overall business goals? The ability to crystalize your contribution shows that you can think like senior managers and communicate in a way that they can understand. Consequently, you can help rally others to communicate their accomplishments in a results-driven manner. In a way, you lead by example.

3. Comprehend organizational structure, processes and decision makers

Most individual contributors only know their direct managers and team members. It’s important to know how your team fits into the overall corporate machine. Understand how your team works with other teams and who your key internal stakeholders are. Having that holistic view can shape conversations with your management and suggest ideas on how to better support your stakeholders.

Even though a company has a corporate culture, each business or product group can have its own vibe with unique processes and key influencers. This is tribal knowledge and usually is not documented anywhere. Being “in the know” shows that you know how to maneuver within organizations to get things done.

4. Plan and execute

Individual contributors usually focus on tactical execution. The overall mentality from individual contributors is “tell me what needs to be done. I’ll get it done for you.” That’s great, but it’s not what a leader does. A leader not only gets things done, but also engages in the overall planning process. Plan out the projects, identify the gaps, address the gaps, put the team together and more. If you want to lead, you also need to go extra miles to plan and strategize.

5. Share credit and recognize others’ contributions

One of the most important leadership traits is to appreciate other team members’ efforts. A sense of empathy goes far with your team members, such as a simple “thank you” and “please”. Recognize team members who go above and beyond. Everything we do in a corporation is teamwork. It’s OK to share credit, even though you do a good chunk of the work. It’s good karma. What comes around, goes around.

You don’t need a team to lead

As an individual contributor, your job is to demonstrate to senior managers that you have leadership traits and you think holistically. Find opportunities to showcase that whenever you can.

I recently completed my 2nd book, Effective Sales Enablement. This book is written from a marketer’s perspective on how to enable the sales team as a marketer. It’s not a leadership book per se. But if you are marketing leaders and are interested in how to plan and implement initiatives to better support your sales team, this book is for you.

Leadership is not only about leading or assembling a team. The core is about how we conduct ourselves and our ability to think and act strategically, being empathetic and getting things done.

Pam Didner is a marketing consultant, author, and speaker. Her second book, Effective Sales Enablement, provides unconventional insights into how marketing and sales can better work together. Her forte is creating and implementing marketing strategies by connecting sales and marketing to engage global audiences. For more information, please visit
Categories: Blogs

The Power in Vulnerability

Tue, 09/04/2018 - 06:00
Guest post by Rick Miller:
“Never let them see you sweat.” Like many baby-boomers, I heard this and many other similar phrases growing up. The message was clear. Don’t show weakness because it will be exploited.
Fast forward to today and you see the opposite is true.  
This shift may have started in 2010 when Brené Brown, a sociological research professor, published The Gifts of Imperfection, and perhaps took off with her next book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead in 2012. Both were widely acclaimed and New York Times bestsellers.
I learned about the power of vulnerability years earlier.
When I took over as president of a $12 billion unit at AT&T—overseeing 10,000 employees and a huge budget—I thought I had all the power I needed to succeed. I was wrong.
One of my first challenges was to engage with employees to learn about the business and what they thought was holding us back. I quickly found those same employees viewed people like me (AT&T corporate officers) as part of the problem, if not the problem. I did find a number of workers who stepped up to lead, however. I call these people Chiefs. But most needed a little coaxing to embrace change and become fully engaged in charting a different future for our unit.

To break down those barriers, I held a number of town hall meetings as forums for frank and open discussion. It was at one such meeting in New York City where I learned about the power of vulnerability.  
During a Q&A session an employee asked if, as a corporate officer, I truly understood the impact of losing health care benefits while a family member was battling cancer. The person was evaluating an early retirement program and was concerned about health care coverage options. From the question, I inferred that most of those in my audience assumed officers—like me—were somehow insulated from the impacts of voluntary retirement programs. The question provided an opportunity to share a personal vulnerability to illustrate that all AT&T employees—including leaders like me—shared many of their concerns and anxieties.
Although I never hid the fact that I was a type one diabetic, I had never publicly shared that I was also a cancer survivor. Years ago, while working at Sperry Corp, my doctor discovered a malignant tumor and recommended immediate surgery. At Sperry and later career stops, I had kept my cancer battle under wraps because I feared it would hold back my career advancement. Other than my boss and assistant, no one in my professional circles knew…until that fateful AT&T town hall meeting.
After I addressed the specific question (transition health care insurance would continue to cover his family), I took a risk. You could have heard a pin drop when I revealed, “I am a cancer survivor and know how important health insurance is.”
I deliberately put myself in a vulnerable position as a way to connect with my team. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, by exposing my vulnerability, I was actually being more courageous than muscling through my professional life without opening up about my bout with cancer.
The benefit of openly acknowledging the link between our personal and professional lives is huge. After my “aha moment,” more and more employees began to engage me in conversation. It was clear that the initial animosity I faced as an AT&T officer had eroded. As a result, more of my team members stepped up as leaders in the transformation.
From this experience, I was again reminded that title, position, and authority don’t automatically translate into power and influence. Rather, my vulnerability had made me more powerful and able to effect change. In turn, it boosted the impact and power of my team.
What choices can you make to become more powerful? What could you do to increase your impact and influence?
Rick Miller is an unconventional turnaround specialist, a servant leader, and a go-to Chief. He is also an experienced and trusted confidant, an author (Be Chief: It’s a Choice, Not a Title, September 4, Motivational Press), a sought-after speaker, and an expert at driving sustainable growth. For over 30 years, Rick served as a successful business executive in roles including President and/or CEO in a Fortune 10, a Fortune 30, a startup, and a nonprofit. Rick earned a bachelor’s degree from Bentley University and an MBA from Columbia. He currently lives in Morristown, NJ.If you would like to find out how to measure and increase your power, take this short free survey that Rick created.

Categories: Blogs

You Don’t Have to Be Gates (or Buffett) to Shake the World

Thu, 08/30/2018 - 06:00
Guest post from Steve Farber:

How do you become a great leader and a better person? Just do one simple thing: Help others achieve greatness. Here’s how.

Some of the world’s richest and most powerful people already know one thing you might not: philanthropy is so much more than a tax dodge. In fact, philanthropy is a way of showing that success is not measured by money alone, but by how money can help enrich the lives of others. 

You probably aren’t in the Forbes Billionaires List. (If you are, congratulations!) But you don’t need to be a billionaire or even have much money at all to fulfill a sense of mission to others. And if you succeed at that, your own success is absolutely guaranteed as well.

It’s not about the money; it’s about what and who you know. Leave the big-money contributions to the Gateses and Buffetts of the world. The rest of us can give our talent, time, knowledge, contacts – whatever resources we have – to other worthy people in our lives at work and at home.

I’ve made it my life’s work to pass along this message. In effect, you can make it your own, too, by treating everything you do as an act of philanthropy. Here are the three main tenets of what I like to call Greater Than Yourself:

1. Expand yourself. We expand ourselves in order to give to others.

2. Give yourself. Knowledge may be power, but the giving of knowledge is far more powerful because it enriches both the provider and receiver.

3. Replicate yourself. Teach others to do for other people exactly what you’ve done for them.

The principles of GTY are the foundation for a company culture in which everyone reaches out not just to help, but also to help each other excel. The role of a CEO is to ensure that everyone in the company becomes significantly greater as a result of working with one another. The CEO’s job is to lead the company, not to be the smartest, greatest, most talented person in the building. The ability to work well with others, tap into social networks, and draw on collective intelligence is critically important, adding to our knowledge of the world we live in.

My Greater Than Yourself philosophy is grounded in social network theory, which explores how the social processes involved in change are passed along between individuals and between managerial levels in an organization. This involves a shift from primarily focusing on the individual and individual attributes, to understanding the dynamic supports and constraints of the larger network in which the individual operates.

Diving In Deeper

Here are some details about each of these three tenets in the GTY process. Add your own items to the lists! 

1. Expand Yourself.

Take a personal inventory of:

· Things I do well

· Meaningful experiences I have had

· Life lessons I have learned

· People I know

· My admirable qualities

· My personal values

Then ask, what more can I do to improve the quality and depth of my experience and knowledge?

2. Give Yourself

Be clear on intentions to make a difference in others’ lives by offering all of one’s:

· Knowledge

· Connections

· Experience

· Insights

· Advice and counsel

· Life lessons

· Confidence

· Words and gestures of encouragement

3. Replicate Yourself

Ensure that GTY efforts expand far beyond one’s own relationships by:

· Making sure others understand that you expect nothing in return except that they take on GTY projects of their own

· Making sure they understand that their GTY project recipients will be required to take on GTY projects of their own

· Challenging everyone to practice GTY in their professional and personal lives

· Sharing one’s GTY successes and failures with others, so they can learn from your experience
By following the Greater Than Yourself, leaders will be empowered to help others—teammates, employees, and colleagues—become more capable, confident, and accomplished than they are themselves, and in the process achieve greater success in their personal and professional lives.

About The Author:

Steve Farber is author of GREATER THAN YOURSELF: The Ultimate Lesson of True Leadership and founder of The Extreme Leadership Institute, an organization devoted to changing the world through the cultivation and development of extreme leaders in business, nonprofits, education, and beyond. Listed on Inc.’s ranking of the Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts in the world, and #1 on Huffington Post’s 12 Business Speakers to See, Farber is a bestselling author, popular keynote speaker, and a seasoned leadership coach and consultant who has worked with a vast array of public and private organizations in virtually every arena. For more information, please visit
Categories: Blogs

How to Propel Your Career in 10 Minutes

Mon, 08/27/2018 - 06:00
Guest post by Dr. Dawn Graham:

Spring cleaning, New Year’s resolutions, summer vacations, back to school—these days, everything has a season. But what about career management? One would think that something we spend more than half our waking hours investing in, which sustains our families and lifestyle, and which for many is an integral part of our identities, would get more regular attention. Other than when we need a new job, that is.
There’s a well-publicized notion that professionals spend more time planning a vacation than planning for their careers. That’s an unfortunate truth for many of us, even though a successful career is much more important to our happiness—a research-backed fact. Towers Watson’s global talent survey found that career advancement opportunities ranked higher than base salary on a list of top reasons employees join their companies, yet less than 50 percent of these same employers said they effectively provide these advancement opportunities.
It’s no secret that today’s professionals need to take charge of their own growth and development. However, many haven’t stepped up to take the reins. We often dedicate time to challenges requiring immediate attention—we wait until a layoff, merger, or burnout before we dust off the resume, only to find that the market and required skills have shifted since we last interviewed.
Don’t let this be you. Whether time, know-how, or some other excuse has gotten in your way, NOW is the time to be proactive. The best way to remain marketable and achieve your professional goals is to practice consistency and discipline in managing your career.
Here are nine simple strategies to actively manage your career in less than ten minutes a day:
  1. Stay active on LinkedIn. As technology advances, social media is becoming increasingly critical to careers across all industries. In minutes each day, you can stay in touch with your contacts and build new ones by posting (or sharing) insightful articles, joining online discussions, inviting people to connect, or endorsing others. Maintaining a consistent online brand will ensure you stay top of mind with your network and keep you “in the know” about what’s happening in your field.
  2. Subscribe to an industry blog. New information and ideas are constantly generated and shared in all professions. These bite-size articles take only a few minutes to read on the train or over lunch and will sustain your marketability, which is critical to both your present role and potential future positions.
  3. Walk the halls. With a packed work calendar, it’s tempting to interact with the same few people, eat lunch at your desk, and skip the monthly birthday celebrations. But small interactions with colleagues go a long way in building trust and deepening relationships, which will ultimately facilitate future interactions. If you work in a large organization, strive to meet colleagues outside your department, to learn what they do. If you’re remote, travel to the main office for town halls, special events, or occasional staff meetings.
  4. Ask for feedback. Plain and simple, feedback is a gift. Welcome it with open arms. Since many shy away from providing constructive criticism, proactively seek it out and be specific as to how others can assist you. For example, before your next presentation, ask a colleague to note at least one thing you can improve, such as a bad habit (e.g., swaying, reading slides verbatim, talking too softly).
  5. Meet people outside the office. We’re typically drawn to familiar faces at networking events, children’s team practices, and/or weekly worship services. Going forward, introduce yourself to at least one person you don’t know. Be curious, and aim to find commonalities. You’ll instantly broaden your contacts, and you never know who you might meet. Everyone has something to teach you. Everyone.
  6. Read your local biz journal or daily newspaper. Okay, print media has gone the way of the fax machine. However, spending a few minutes each weekday familiarizing yourself with current events expands your perspective and makes you more conversant and interesting. If it’s more convenient, subscribe to an online news channel to receive a daily roundup of the latest headlines. For many, the hardest part of networking is finding something to talk about, so the more you know, the more topics you’ll have to choose from.
  7. Peruse job openings. Even if you aren’t currently searching, remaining informed about what skills, experiences, and knowledge employers are looking for in your role/industry. Periodically evaluate how you measure up to current job requirements, and update your resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect your latest accomplishments at least once a year (or more often). Sometimes the best opportunities in life come along when we’re not looking. Make sure you can be found.
  8. Help others. Building goodwill with your network will be invaluable in your career, and these opportunities are everywhere. Assisting someone could be as simple as providing an introduction, offering a word of advice, or sharing a resource. Take a few minutes to slow down and notice When you can serve someone else.
  9. Pay attention. In most cases, it’s rare to be completely blindsided. Usually, red flags precede a layoff, major leadership change, merger/acquisition, or other career upset. When we keep our heads down, we miss the signs. Tune in to watercooler talk, recognize any increase in closed-door meetings, understand potential implications of a hiring freeze or budget decreases, and pay attention to project delays. While none of these may indicate a major shake-up on the horizon, taken together, these signs may indicate you need to start sharpening your interviewing skills.

For better or worse, career management is your responsibility. Make the time to invest in yourself.
Happy hunting!  
Dr. Dawn Graham is one of the nation’s leading career coaches. She is the career management director of the MBA Program for Executives at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where she counsels business leaders on making strategic career choices. A licensed psychologist and former corporate recruiter, she hosts SiriusXM Radio’s popular weekly call-in show Career Talk on Business Radio 111 and is a regular contributor to Her new book, Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success, gives professionals tools to draw a new roadmap for success—and happiness. Learn more about the book and get free bonus content at




Categories: Blogs

Why You Can’t Pick the Winners!

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 06:00
Guest post by Soulaima Gourani:
 I’ve conducted (or participated in) countless conversations with some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world through the years. I live alongside the wealthiest and most influential people in our day and age here in Silicon Valley– but what do their lives consist of? Aside from the generic comments about passion, hard work, the ability to innovate and think creatively, and knowledge of their craft, there are a couple of other personal characteristics that tend to be behind their success. You always hear people talk about “if only” they had more time or more money or they lived somewhere else, and so on. You hear it from companies too – “if only the Planning Act were more flexible, if only we had more investors, and if only our clients would understand.” The vast majority of innovative people and companies I’m personally familiar with became innovative because they didn’t have time or money or because they were excluded and unappreciated. It was the lack of resources, understanding, and exclusion from others that motivated them. Others were driven by the desire to make the world a better place or to reach a particular status. And then there are those who just needed to make a living, but who had the ambitions, the will, and the innovative mindset that allowed them to make it big.  Two years ago, I was having dinner with Travis Kalanick, the founder, and ex-CEO of Uber. Uber is one of the most profitable, recognized, and debated companies in the modern world.That said, it’s also one of the world’s most hated companies. Travis told me all about how he randomly came up with the name, (which doesn’t exactly make much sense), and how all he wanted was access to cheaper transport. His vision and drive ended up changing the way we get around, who we trust to transport us, and how we work (through apps rather than in miserable office spaces). Regardless of whether we like Uber or not, the company remains famous and successful. Before launching Uber, Travis wasn’t doing well financially, and he didn’t have the time or support when he started Uber. Nobody believed in him, and his friends/family only gave him money because he talked their ears off. They felt sorry for him. For Travis, his vision and faith in it proved to be the deciding factor in establishing something nobody ever saw coming.
In other words – you can’t pick the winners.

Nobody predicted that he would be successful. The same goes for Alibaba and Jack Ma from China. He wasn’t particularly intelligent as far as the school system was concerned and he applied to more than 30 blue collar jobs as a server and a busboy (etc.) but received nothing but rejection letters. Now he has an estimated net worth of $50 billion.ho ends up being the most innovative and successful? Can you walk into a classroom and pick the winner? Almost never. It’s a kind of x-factor that can be difficult to spot. Most people don’t recognize talent if they haven’t seen it before, and that’s why most people can’t spot a good idea if it’s staring right at them.

Soulaima Gourani, E-MBA. Speaker, Author, Advisor, Investor, Life Leadership and Life Design Coach for more information please visit
Categories: Blogs

Out-of-the box Leadership / Leadership From Within

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 06:00
Guest post by Pratima Rao Gluckman:

My daughter once told me, “Mom, I am awesome. I am good at math. I run fast. I am better than my brothers. Right?” As I looked into her darling eyes as she was desperately seeking validation, I thought, “This is where the problem lies.” It’s cute when a four-year-old thinks she is better than the rest. And yes, I want to encourage her to think that way, because it will build her self-esteem (as this is important for girls). But the problem is that adults feel that way all the time. Adults don’t say it aloud because it's not cute anymore. But we think it. Stereotyping starts at a very early age. Each of us believes we are better than everyone else around us. We believe specific groups of people who think and look like us are better than the rest. And so we begin to stereotype. We put people into little boxes, label them, and thereby create boundaries. We divide women and men into separate boxes. We place different races and cultures in separate boxes. We box people based on their sexual preference. As we compartmentalize, we grow up developing strong values of what is right and wrong.

Who gets to break these boxes, silos, and stereotypes? Brave, self-aware and fearless people. When a brave person comes in, breaks open these boxes, and removes the labels, slowly changing the mindsets of people—that’s when a change occurs. Real change. That’s what a true leader does. Someone who is fearless, someone who is not afraid of criticism, someone who believes in making a difference will destroy the boxes. Someone who is aware of the power struggle between genders, races, and cultures will transcend the stereotypes.

You can become one of these brave, fearless leaders. First, you need to tell yourself that you are not better than someone else. You must say to yourself that you are not better than someone else because your skin color is different, or because you are more educated, or because you are better looking. You should be grateful that you had the opportunities that came your way, but that doesn’t mean you are superior to the rest. However, this is hard to do. Because you then need to internalize that. You must go deep into your subconscious and undo all the wiring. You must become aware of your strengths and weaknesses. You have to know who you indeed are and what you stand for. And you need to forge these changes from within before you go out to change the world. Once you can genuinely transform yourself from your childhood beliefs, biases, and stereotypes, you can transform others, because when you see the change in yourself, you know what change looks like. While you transform others, you know what to look for, and most importantly that change is occurring.

So where do you begin? Start with awareness, just noticing your thoughts as you go through the day. It’s a meditation: you don’t need to analyze and judge every thought and reaction. Thoughts come and go, with the power to shift your viewpoint all the time. For instance, you meet an interview candidate who seems older than you expected. Your first thought might be, “I don’t think she will be the right culture fit because she seems different from the kind of people we hire here.” Let that thought pass through your head. Don’t analyze it any further. Give that person a chance, because you never know—your internalized bias may be kicking in. So let other thoughts in as well. Now after you interview the candidate if you still feel that person is not right for your team, sure, pass her up. But you have opened your mind to other aspects of this person. To be effective leaders, we have to know ourselves well. From the inside out. Once we have an awareness of ourselves and the factors at play in our personal environment, we will be able to make better decisions for ourselves and for other people. Change comes from within, and in today’s world, we need this more than ever.

Pratima Rao Gluckman, author of Nevertheless, She Persisted: True Stories of Women Leaders in Tech, knew she wanted to be an engineer from a young age. She attained a master's degree in computer science (University of Texas at Arlington), a master's degree in chemistry, and bachelor's degree in instrumentation engineering (BITs Plain India). Currently, in her field of enterprise software, she is Engineering Leader at VMware and manages a team of engineers.
For more information, please visit
Categories: Blogs

Leadership at the Symphony

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 06:00
Guest post from Barbara Mitchell:
I’ve always loved the performing arts—symphony, ballet, theatre, live music concerts…doesn’t matter what but seeing a live performance is powerful! While enjoying a live performance, it became obvious to me that, in addition to hearing great music or watching talented dancers, I was also seeing examples of good leadership.

Members of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts are sometimes invited to attend a rehearsal of the National Symphony Orchestra.  It’s quite an experience to sit in the beautiful Concert Hall and watch the musicians come in wearing very casual clothes as opposed to their formal evening attire, chatting with each other while tuning up their instruments.  But when the conductor arrives, it is all business. The first time I attended a rehearsal, I expected that the orchestra would play a few bars and the conductor would stop and give them feedback but that’s not what happened. the way it was. The conductor led the orchestra almost all the way through the piece without stopping. When he finally paused them and began providing feedback it was clear that the musicians were listening intently—he had their total focus. He pointed out specific bars where he wanted certain instruments to play louder, softer, faster, or slower—all from his memory of what he had just heard. He hadn’t taken a note while they were playing—he was totally focused on what he was hearing. What an amazing gift to be able to listen to so many sounds and hear each one individually as well as in total!

When the conductor (leader) pointed out the very specific changes he wanted to hear, his orchestra (team) listened closely. He complimented musicians who had done something special and then they replayed specific portions of the symphony. When he raised his baton, they were ready to play at the exact right bar of the music because he gave them clear directions. What an example of leadership and followership in action. The conductor as a leader demonstrated he was listening to his team. He showed that he understood he couldn’t make music without them—he could wave his baton around all day, but if they weren’t sitting in front of him, focused on his direction, he would be totally ineffective.

Today’s business leaders could should learn to listen more closely to their employees, praise them when appropriate, point out needed changes, and acknowledge how important each one is to the success of the organization—in other words, set clear expectations, provide frequent feedback and development opportunities, praise when appropriate, listen to the team, hold people accountable, and let them know where their work fits in the overall objectives of the organization.  That’s leadership! At the end of the first piece, they took a short break while chairs were rearranged on the stage. Some musicians came back while others who weren’t needed for the next piece did not return. I see another lesson here about how leaders need to know the strengths of their employees in order to put the most effective teams in place—teams that take advantage of the strengths of the participants. This piece featured a world-famous violinist.  I wondered if the conductor would lead differently in the presence of a star but it sounded as if she and the conductor  were almost operating as one as she played her solo with the conductor bringing the orchestra in to provide background and harmony.

Business leaders can learn from a symphony conductor and others in the performing arts. Leaders must be great listeners who know the strengths of those they manage. Strong leaders know how to put the best team together to maximize the organization’s success. Leadership and harmony lead to great things—not just in music but in the marketplace.  
The Manager’s Answer Book is an easy-to-use guide written in a question-and-answer format that focuses on many aspects of managing, broken down into the following categories:

- Getting started—moving from peer to manager, setting goals, managing projects, resources and much more.

- Developing your management skills—communicating, delegating, motivating, and facilitating.

- Building your management team: hiring, firing, and everything in-between.

- Creating your personal brand—building credibility for yourself, your team, and your department.

- Managing up, down, and around—working with people and functions in your organization.

- Avoiding potential land mines—conflict, change, and risk.

- Recognizing legal pitfalls—navigating the haze of laws and regulations.

Barbara Mitchell is an author, speaker, and business consultant. She is the coauthor of The Manager’s Answer Book, The Big Book of HR, The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook, The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book and The Essential HR Handbook. After a long career with Marriott International, she is now Managing Director of The Mitchell Group and works with a variety of clients to help them hire, develop, engage, and retain the best talent available. She resides in the Washington, DC area.
Categories: Blogs