If You Want to be a Poor Leader…by Jim Murray

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Thou shalt:

1. Never take risks — for you will only increase the chance of making a lot of mistakes. And that will make your followers believe you are fallible.

2. Never let your emotions show — especially your passion or enthusiasm for your work. People will think you’re a wuss.

3. Avoid professional development opportunities — and discourage the desire to do so in others. You’ll save the company a lot of money. And that will make your shareholders very happy.

4. Always have a good excuse handy — and the more complicated the better. Never take the blame for anything. It’s important that you exude a strong presence as commander-in-chief.

5. Always point out the faults in others — and do it in as scathing and biting a way as is humanly possible such that they will never forget your richly deserved dressing down. After all, your fundamental purpose as leader is to improve performance and that means people must know what behaviours need correcting.

6. Never share your knowledge or wisdom with subordinates — they will inevitably use it to undermine your authority and then seek to replace you at the top. Your tenure will be short so why make it even shorter?

7. Never ask a question you cannot answer yourself — people will think you are incompetent if you don’t know what to do. After all, isn’t telling people what needs to be done the essence of leadership today?

8. Always micromanage the really important projects — that way you’ll get done exactly what you want done. And your staff will greatly appreciate your help.

9. Always assume your organization’s competitive advantage is permanent — there’s no use worrying about the things you cannot control.

10. Always endeavour to appear unapproachable — this will save you a lot of time as people will be forced to deal with their own problems. Isn’t that how people learn to become better problem solvers? (And time is, after all, your most precious asset.)

Great article. Read the rest here: http://www.lawyersweekly.ca/index.php?section=article&articleid=1984&rssid=4

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Lessons Learned from Little League

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My son’s little league team, the Pond Champs, plays again at noon today. They are 5-3 so far this spring. As I’ve been watching the games and practices, something hit me.

Developing others at work is a lot like little league.

Patience

As a manager and leader of people, I have to have a ton a patience. I work in an open-environment office – no doors on anyone’s office (including the CEO’s). While there are many advantages to this, there are disadvantages. If I want to really get some brain time focused on a project or presentation, I never get more than 15 minutes of quiet time before someone is at my desk asking a question, seeking advice, or just wanting to talk. Patience is required.

When I want to see a team member get to the next level, I need patience. Their speed to learn may be different than my perceived ideas. When someone assumes the worse about me or my team or a project I’m on, I need patience. A lot of patience (and grace).

Consistency

My son’s coaches consistently teach the boys – with encouragement, being specific, with patience. The boys, in turn, have come to trust them.

How consistent am I? Am I changing the goals (moving targets frustrate teams!)? Am I moody? Am I approachable one day and the next, I’m a closed book?

Fundamentals

Is your team performing at their best? Have poor behaviors crept in? Are they getting lazy?

My son started off the season batting well. Then, the last couple of games, his batting stance changed. He dropped his back elbow. He was under-swinging and striking out more.

The head coach refocused his batting stance. He got back to fundamentals. The same thing happened last night with fielding grounders. They worked on fundamentals for 45 minutes. It helped!

There are fundamentals that our work teams need to execute every day. Are they? Are they asking for the business? Are they providing superior service at every customer interaction? Are they cooperating and collaborating with others on other teams? Do they know and understand their goals? Are they arriving to work on time?

If not, you are the coach – get back to the fundamentals.

Teamwork

Is your team working together towards a common goal – winning? If not, model what a team is. My son’s coaches are constantly talking about how the team encourages each other. Cheers for each other. Helps each other. Acts as a back up for each other.

I’m loving this baseball season. So is my son. I love watching him grow and develop and conquer fears. His confidence is growing every time he plays and practices. He is making new friends and learning a ton of great lessons. Do you know why?

He has great coaches who are enabling this to happen.

Are you a great coach? Learn a lesson from the little league.

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Servant Leadership BY JAMES HESKETT

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With servant leadership, a leader’s primary role is to serve employees. Everyone from Lao-Tzu to Max De Pree thinks this a wonderful model. Why, then, is this style so rare among CEOs? HBS Professor James Heskett ponders the topic in this column, which first appeared on the HBS Working Knowledge website.

Servant leadership is an age-old concept, a term loosely used to suggest that a leader’s primary role is to serve others, especially employees. I witnessed a practical example of it at a ServiceMaster board meeting in the 1990s when CEO William Pollard spilled a cup of coffee prior to the board meeting.

Instead of summoning someone to clean it up, he asked a colleague to get him cleaning compound and a cloth, things easily found in a company that provided cleaning services. Whereupon he proceeded to get down on his hands and knees to clean up the spill himself. The remarkable thing was that board members and employees alike hardly noticed as he did it. It was as if it was expected in a company with self-proclaimed servant leadership.

Lao-Tzu wrote about servant leadership in the fifth-century BC: “The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware…. The Sage is self-effacing and scanty of words. When his task is accomplished and things have been completed, all the people say, ‘We ourselves have achieved it!’”

It is natural, rightly or wrongly, to relate servant leadership to the concept of an inverted pyramid organization in which top management “reports” upward to lower levels of management. At other times it has been associated with organizations that have near-theological values (for example, Max De Pree’s leadership at Herman Miller, as expressed in his book, Leadership is an Art, that emphasizes the importance of love, elegance, caring, and inclusivity as central elements of management). In that regard, it is also akin to the pope’s annual washing and kissing of the feet as part of the Holy Thursday rite.
The modern era of servant leadership began with a paper, The Servant as Leader, written by Robert Greenleaf in 1970. In it, he said: “The servant leader is servant first … It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead … (vs. one who is leader first…) … The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons … (and become) more likely themselves to become servants?”

Now it appears that a group of organizational psychologists, led by Adam Grant, are attempting to measure the impact of servant leadership on leaders, not just those being led. Grant describes research in his recent book, Give and Take, that suggests that servant leaders are not only more highly regarded than others by their employees and not only feel better about themselves at the end of the day but are more productive as well. His thesis is that servant leaders are the beneficiaries of important contacts, information, and insights that make them more effective and productive in what they do even though they spend a great deal of their time sharing what they learn and helping others through such things as career counseling, suggesting contacts, and recommending new ways of doing things.

Further, servant leaders don’t waste much time deciding to whom to give and in what order. They give to everyone in their organizations. Grant concludes that giving can be exhausting but also self-replenishing. So in his seemingly tireless efforts to give, described in the book, Grant makes it a practice to give to everyone until he detects a habitual “taker” that can be eliminated from his “gift list.”
Servant leadership is only one approach to leading, and it isn’t for everyone. But if servant leadership is as effective as portrayed in recent research, why isn’t it more prevalent? What do you think?

To Read More:
Max De Pree, Leadership is an Art (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 1987)
Adam Grant, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success (New York: Viking Press, 2013)
Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant as Leader (Westfield, IN: The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, 2008)
C. William Pollard, The Soul of the Firm (New York: HarperBusiness and Grand Rapids, MI: ZondermanPublishingHouse, 1996)

12 Revealing Questions Successful Executives Must Ask Themselves

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by Kevin Krogue

1. Are You Still Relevant? Is your company’s primary product riding a growth trend or is it declining? Are you Hostess still trying to sell Twinkies or has the market long ago moved on? Do you still matter? Where is the next big wave to catch if you aren’t on one?

2. What is Your Why? Is your primary purpose for doing what you are doing still clear and compelling? Have you defined your Why? (Mission or purpose.) Is your What clear? (Vision) Do you have your When written out? (Goals) Are your Hows set and prioritized? (Values, strategies and tactics) Is it still the right Who? Target audience and your executive team.

3. Are You Leading or Managing? You lead people, you manage things. You need both. Leadership is the greatest variable with the most leverage. Leadership decides the path to follow, how fast is the speed of the march, and how to deal with each bend in the trail. Management executes to the variables of the journey. A leader is a shepherd who walks in front with a clear voice, a manager is a sheep herder with a well-trained horse, while a poor manager needs a sheep dog.

4. Are You Great, or just Good? Excellence is first a decision before it is action. Do you have passion for what you do? Are the best in your world at it? Can you make enough money to keep the water over the rocks? Jim Collins in his awesome book Good to Great says you need passion, potential to be the best in the world, and a clear ability to make money to be great in our world of business. Be honest… are you great? Or just good.

5. Are You Taking Care of Your People? They are first and foremost. When is the last time you listened to them? Have you added to their opportunities and their benefits with your success? They are your success. Have you also made the hard decisions? Your people are even more important than your customer.

6. Are You Growing Your People? As you grow your people is how they grow your company. Are you investing in training, mentoring, and coaching to help you and them avoid the Peter Principle, which is the inevitable rise to the level of your own incompetence.

7. Is Your Team Aligned? Does the pay plan invent them in the right direction. Is the Mission, Vision, Values, and Goals clearly and specifically defined, printed and communicated? Are they buying in to the plans you are making in 2013? Have you asked them? Is everyone pulling with the sales teams? Are your managers aligned with the direction of the company? If not, fix it.

8. Have You Listened to your Customers Today? Roku just released their version 3.0 and it is selling like crazy. Why? They decided to put a headphone jack on the remote control. So somebody watching streaming video on their TV could do it without interrupting everyone around them. My wife Crystal, says it’s perfect for older people who can’t hear. They turn the volume up so high it disrupts everyone around them. Roku listened, thought, and innovated an idea that is reaping incredible rewards.

9. How Likely Are Your Customers to Refer Others? Have you asked Fred Reichheld’s “Ultimate Question” lately? “ On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to refer our company to your friends and industry colleagues?” This is the 1st key question to measure the loyalty of your customers. Research shows that someone who gives you a 9 or 10 will refer, and is loyal. A 7 or 8 is neutral, they will nothing either good or bad. A 6 or less will bad-mouth you and your business. They will detract. Why loyalty? Because satisfied customers will leave you as fast unsatisfied customers will. Loyal customers will buy from you again and again and they will recommend you to others. Loyal customers are clients. You want clients, not just customers. The second question after you ask The Ultimate Question is “Why did you give us that score?” You better listen to the answers you receive and fix the problems that arise…. quickly.

10. Do you Have Enough Quality Leads? This is the life blood of business. It isn’t sales, it’s leads. If you have leads, your salespeople will figure out how to close them. What is a quality lead? You will know. They have ANUM. A = Authority, N = Need, U = Urgency, and M = Money…. in that order.

11. Do you Have Enough Sales People? This is the question you ask once you have quality leads. It is a teeter-totter that you need balanced. You increase capacity for quality leads, then you add more people to close them. If you don’t have enough leads, the sales people struggle and leave. If you don’t have enough salespeople, the leads languish and decay. Sales people are like having enough guns on the ship, leads are the ammunition.

12. Are You Learning from Mistakes? Dave Elkington, our CEO here at InsideSales.com, is very good at this. Of course, he first has to believe he is making a mistake of course, but if he recognizes that he mistaken, he admits it, and never seems to make it again. I wish I could claim that.

If you can’t reply appropriately to these 12 questions, then I have a joke to tell you…

There was an executive who took over a new job from his predecessor. When he showed up on the first day he spent a great deal of time learning from the person whose job he was taking. He was trained well and then as the person whose job he was taking was ready to leave he turned to him and gave him three envelopes.

As he was leaving he said, “my last advice is this, when you come up against a problem you can’t solve, open envelope #1. Then do the same for up to two more problems. These will get you through.”

He almost forgot about the envelopes until nearly a year later he came up against an obstacle he couldn’t seem to overcome and he didn’t know what to do until he remembered envelope #1. He opened it.

It said, “Blame it on me!” Which he did, and he was amazed how well it worked and got him through.

Almost two years later he came up against another problem for which there seemed no solution, and once again, he remembered the envelopes. So he opened envelope #2.
It said, “Reorganize!” Which he did.

Once again he was absolutely amazed at how well the advice of his predecessor worked to get him through.

Several years later he had lots of problems starting to come his way, and finally one large enough that he couldn’t seem to overcome. He remembered envelope #3. He slowly tore it open.

It said, “Go prepare three envelopes!”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenkrogue/2013/03/19/12-revealing-questions-successful-executives-must-ask-themselves/

Greasing the Skids

Have you heard the phrase “greasing the skids”?

The phrase may come from logging.  During the period of the “skid” method it was necessary for one man to follow the team to lubricate the “skid” with oil so that the logs would slide easily. –Oregonian (Portland), 3 Jan. 1890.
The “skid-greaser,”  halting at every two steps to grease the worn skid over which the logs were about to pass. –Atlantic Monthly, Feb. 1893
The cream made enough butter to feed the camp and grease the skid roads, to boot. –Walter Blair, Tall Tale America, 1937

How are you at greasing the skids at work?  Our roles as manager/leader (many times) is the be the skid-greaser – insuring that things get done easier, smoothly, efficiently, etc. 

In our business, we introduced online account opening nearly 2 1/2 years ago.  Folks could now begin a brand new banking relationship with us without having to visit a branch.  That was a new way to do things!  But, once someone became a member (we’re a credit union), we would send them out a form letter, signed by our CEO, that would welcome them with all the flare and excitement of and IRS document.  [yawn!]  There had to be a better way to do this.

If a person chose to open an account online (something pretty cool to do), then we needed to welcome them in a non-traditional manner.  I started to noodle an idea of welcoming them via a video link embedded in an email.  I shared this idea with our Marketing team.  I wrote a rough draft of a script and suggested an employee who could “pull off” the acting part of this welcome video. 

Next, my eServices team began to talk about how this video could/should lead to “onboarding” new members. They began to meet with a rep from Marketing.  This collaborative group started to meet regularly to talk about how we could deepen the relationship with these newest members.  The work and results of the work have proven to be quick effective.  New members are acquiring more of our products/services and are very satisfied with us.  Note:  most of these new members have not physically spoken to us.  This has all been done in a virtual basis. 

Why share this?  I played basically no further role in this process after sharing my initial thoughts.  My team and Marketing took that first idea and, with no obstruction from me, ran with it.  I greased the skids. 

So here’s your question:  what process or initiative are you working on that you (as leader/manager) need to begin greasing the skids for? 

We can either be a log jam for our teams in their work or we can get ahead of the work and grease the skids.  This is a great opportunity to serve your team and watch them work collaboratively.  It’s ok to get out of the way, as long as you are there to help keep the process going and flowing.  Remove obstacles.  Encourage the team.  Give them resources.  And when they get great results, praise them.  Brag about them.  Show them the next opportunity. 

Just keep on greasing the skids. greasing the skids

4 Ways to Train Your Brain for Positivity

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As a manager, your team watches you. Your colleagues watch you. Your boss watches you. Vendors watch you. Your customers, too. They notice whether or not if you are a positive person. Are you? Read on. The following post will give you some practical steps to train yourself to become more positive.

by Jessica Stillman

Not a natural optimist? Use these simple exercises to train your brain to more easily pick out the positive.

You know how when you play Tetris for awhile, even after you stop, you can still see those little falling blocks in your mind’s eye?

The persistence of Tetris isn’t simply an annoying effect of a cleverly designed game, according to scientists. Instead it’s a reflection of something deeply positive about our brains–their plasticity.

That’s a according to a recent post by iDoneThis founder Walter Chen on productivity blog buffer. He cites studies on Tetris (yes, there is such a thing, and yes, this is going somewhere helpful to non-video game addicted entrepreneurs), which found that playing the game for a few hours a week over a period of months, actually changed the brains of players.

“Every time you reactivate a circuit, synaptic efficiency increases, and connections become more durable and easier to reactivate,” Chen writes, before summarizing the importance of the findings: “Whenever you do specific tasks over and over again, they take up less of your brain power over time.”

Learning Positivity

That’s probably not a shock to anyone who has learned to play the piano, speak a foreign language or even hit a tennis ball roughly where you want it to go. So what’s the big deal? This same brain plasticity allows you to master simple skills or sports, also allows you to train yourself to be more positive.

Chen quotes Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage who has previously spoken about his work on the brain and happiness to Inc. Just like we can train our brains to more easily recognize the patterns of Tetris, “we can retrain the brain to scan for the good things in life—to help us see more possibility, to feel more energy, and to succeed at higher levels,” Achor says, dubbing this ability “the positive Tetris effect.”

Happiness Homework

So how do you do this? Chen offers four very simple interventions that can, over time, actually rewire your brain to see things more positively:

Scan for the 3 daily positives. At the end of each day, make a list of three specific good things that happened that day and reflect on what caused them to happen. The good things could be anything — bumping into an old friend, a positive remark from someone at work, a pretty sunset. Celebrating small wins also has a proven effect of powering motivation and igniting joy. As you record your good things daily, the better you will get and feel.

Give one shout-out to someone (daily). I love this technique. Take the positive things you’re getting better at recognizing and let people know you’ve noticed. Take a minute to say thanks or recognize someone for their efforts, from friends and family to people at work. A great way to go about this is by sending 1 daily email to someone. It can be your old school teacher, whose advice you are now appreciating every day. A co-worker or someone you’ve only met. Show courage and say thanks.

Do something nice. Acts of kindness boost happiness levels. Something as small and simple as making someone smile works. Pausing to do something thoughtful has the power to get you out of that negativity loop. Do something nice that is small and concrete like buying someone a coffee.

Mind your mind. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Opening our awareness beyond the narrowness of negativity can help bring back more balance and positivity into the picture.

http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/4-ways-to-train-your-brain-for-positivity.html?goback=.gde_3191399_member_212169873