John Baldoni

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Internationally known executive coach, keynote speaker and leadership educator
Updated: 2 hours 17 min ago

VIDEO: You Oughta Be in Sales

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 10:13

Is there any business process more despised than sales?

But if sales is held in such low esteem, then how are customers supposed to come to us? Do they magically appear like Christmas presents under the tree?

Sales is that five-letter word no one wants to mention. Too bad. All of us need to be in sales. What you are selling is YOU.

So if are not selling, it means you lack faith in self and faith in what you can do to help others.

Re-framing sales then means re-thinking what you do. Very basically, consider sales as everything you do for a client — service, execution, follow up and re-engaging the process.

Selling your commitment is something that anyone with whom you work with can appreciate. Ultimately, sales is a reflection of your and your work. Use it to your best advantage.

First posted on SmartBrief on 7/14/2017

Categories: Blogs

A Methodology for Leading into the Unknown (HBR)

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 10:13

One of the toughest things to teach leaders is how to lead when the context and variables are constantly changing. One man who is helping leaders make better decisions is Don Vandergriff, a retired Army major, lecturer and author. Vandergriff has developed the Adaptive Leader Methodology (ALM) that helps individuals learn to lead in situations of escalating complexity.

The principles of ALM are universal and applicable to anyone who must manage and lead others. As Vandergriff explained to me, ALM immerses students in “complex scenario, and facilitate(s) them as they attempt to solve it.” As Vandergriff sees it, ALM “places people in roles of responsibility so they understand the context their unit or organization operates in… In ALM, they are placed two or three levels higher [than their ranks] in many of the scenarios.”

ALM is uniquely suited to teach military officers how to lead in “asymmetrical warfare,” where the unknown variables outweigh the known ones. “Instead of repeating a given scenario, you continue on and do a different one, with different conditions.” As Vandergriff explains, “By varying the scenarios, the conditions, and then… giving a good “reflection” session from peers, the teacher, and [observers], the learning process becomes continuous.”

This is break from the Army’s traditional approach to education which emphasizes competency. A shortcoming of that model is boredom and barriers. Says Vandergriff, “Good and great students got bored very easy. Plus, they did not discover their unit’s place in the larger picture because they were only allowed to go as high as that unit in their learning environments.”

A twenty-four year veteran of the Army and Marines, Vandergriff taught ROTC at Georgetown University and routinely received top marks for his instruction. Today his students are lieutenants and captains in the field leading combat troops. Lessons they learned from ALM are “what prepared them (the most) for what they face now.” Specifically, ALM provides a tool kit approach that fosters innovative thinking, new approaches to problem-solving and rapid decision-making, Vangergriff’s influence extends beyond the Army; he has taught Marines, Navy SEALs as well as units in the British and French military. 

Vandergriff also teaches in the corporate and public sectors, applying the same principles. Part of his instruction includes tactical decision games that can be very challenging. Participants “were frustrated, confused and challenged. As they day went on, they got into it, and then remarked at the end of the day and follow-on emails, how much that made them better leaders. When developing adaptability, you want to put your students in uncomfortable situations doing scenarios they are not familiar with,” he says. 

“The number one objective in my developing leaders is strength of character,” says Vandergriff. “I believe in what I am doing… What keeps me going is a belief in what I am doing is right. I was raised to see a problem, fix it.” That’s good advice for anyone leading in a complex environment. Leaders lead by doing, and so often they must do the fixing and solving so that the organization can move forward.

First posted on HBR.org on 7/21/2008

Categories: Blogs

VIDEO: Managers! Learn to Budget Your Involvement

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 14:51

Know your place.

That’s advice that Scott Rudin believes is the role of every producer. One of the most successful producers on Broadway today, as well as a successful film producer, Rudin believes that it is the role of a producer to create a safe place for people to collaborate.

As Rudin told Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” he didn’t always believe that. When he was producing films — after starting on Broadway — he felt he needed to be everywhere and do everything. Not only was that a recipe for burnout it negated the talents of the people hired to work on the film. So Rudin learned to budget his involvement to the benefit of his people and his projects.

Rudin’s lessons apply beyond the footlights. Management itself is the art of bringing people together to work on something in which they believe and in which they can succeed.

It is a matter of knowing your place.

Categories: Blogs

Why Do You Want to Manage? (HBR)

Fri, 05/10/2019 - 14:50

“Most new leaders advance in their careers due their proficiency with technical skills, but they don’t necessarily have the leadership abilities needed for success in their higher-level positions,” says Steve Cohen, senior vice president with Right Management. Bingo, Steve! 

Time and again, I have witnessed talented and productive employees move into management not only without the necessary training, but also without a real desire to manage others. This phenomenon is particularly acute among employees with technical skills such as design, engineering or science. It also appears in high-producing sales people who can make more selling than they do managing.

Moving into management is a huge leap of faith. First, for many employees, it means giving up what they really love doing. That’s why they’re considered promotable in the first place, because they’re good at their jobs. But too frequently managers-to-be are not asked if they really want to move up, and worse they’re not prepared to manage others.

So before you consider promoting a competent employee ask three questions:

Why does this person want to manage? Technically competent employees typically enjoy their jobs. Many want to continue being designers, engineers and scientists; management to them is administrative, not something worthy of their skill set. Ask the prospective manager if he actually wants to manage and, if so, why? More money and prestige may be incentives but they aren’t enough to sustain a career.

What additional contributions can this person make as a manager?Employees who are contributing at a high level are hard to find. Sometimes organizations forget that promoting the high-level performer into management means she will not be doing her old job. On the other hand, other organizations will prevent a good employee from advancing because she is too productive. For employees who do not want to advance, the answer is to leave them be; for those who want to advance, organizations need to find ways to let them grow and develop. Otherwise they will leave to work for another company.

How will we support this new manager? If a new study by Right Management is any indication, the answer is, “not well.” Just three in 10 new managers receive coaching, even less than the 35% that senior leaders (including CEOs) receive. Coaching is not the only solution; support can come in the form of professional development via executive education courses. In-company mentoring is another solution. Regardless, the newly promoted manager needs some help, sooner than later.

Some employees have the gumption (as well as the self-knowledge) to say no to the promotion. They know that they enjoy pursuing their chosen passion rather than becoming a manager. On the other hand, those who do want to manage eventually discover one of the hidden pleasures of management: leading a team for results. Those who succeed in this endeavor are called leaders!

First posted on HBR.org 8/11/2008

Categories: Blogs