Monday, 30 January 2012
Networking and Leadership
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It occurred to me this afternoon as we were having our monthly conference call, this one being on the topic of networking, that this skill is one of the best things leaders can pass along to their staff members.  Leadership being all about relationships, it makes perfect sense that great leaders will model for their staff the importance of networking as well as encouraging them learn how to do it well.  I can imagine that some leaders would not encourage their staff to build relationships outside the organization (except for sales) because they would not want them to become aware of opportunities that might take them away from their organization.  I have always believed, however, that an organization has a responsibility to encourage staff to improve for whatever reason.  When the economy is failing and many fear for their jobs, I believe it is the obligation of an organization who can’t promise employment to everyone to keep them employable by whatever means possible, including training, education, and a wide network of people on whom they can call.

So become a model networker.  It will serve your staff well, and you will find that you get huge benefits from it as well.

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Posted on 01/30/2012 4:04 PM by Mary Fink
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Thursday, 26 January 2012
Under Promise - Over Deliver
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“Under promise -Over deliver” is an age old and very simple formula that really works and will help you achieve personal success. I often see business people who, in an effort to please the boss, promise to deliver more than can likely be achieved. The over promising may feel good at the time but in the long run is a path that can lead to substantial disappointment.

Whatever your style do everything you can to set and be held accountable for realistic achievable goals. Don’t allow yourself to be pushed into promising what cannot be confidently delivered.  If you are sure you can achieve “X,” work to set the goal at “X minus a small percentage.”

Remember, the boss loves the ones who exceed expectations.

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Posted on 01/26/2012 4:01 PM by Joe Scarlett
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Monday, 23 January 2012
Share the Success
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I was at a networking breakfast recently and the speaker was telling the story of her business experience and growth.  To be honest, it's an impressive story.  However; ten minutes into the program there seemed to be a pattern.  Her entire story was about herself.  Over and over we heard, "I bought this system, I implemented this program, I made this presentation, I made that decision." Not one time in the forty minute presentation did she refer to "us, we or they".

I am certain that with a multi-million dollar international corporation the success did not happen by herself.  There must have been people along the way with whom she discussed, partnered or shared her experiences, triumphs and hardships.

Success stories are always motivational, but are much more inspiring when they include more than one person.

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Posted on 01/23/2012 9:25 AM by Susie Pritchett
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Thursday, 19 January 2012
Be True to Your Values
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I recently had the privilege of hearing a local senior executive speak about the culture in his organization and it was clear from the start that the company’s values are central to the culture and everything that happens in that organization.  From day one, new associates are introduced the values and everything going forward has a focus on them.  Recruitment is based on candidates sharing the values, performance is evaluated against employees behaving in a way consistent with the values, and business is conducted according to them.  There is no mistaking the expectations of leaders in the organization because they talk about it all the time.  There is complete transparency, and as a result, everyone knows what is going well and what isn’t.  Goals are shared and discussed frequently, and when there is bad news, it is shared just as openly as the good.  The rest of the story is that employees are very engaged, turnover is low, and results continue to get better and better.  That kind of success is not an accident and it is a pleasure to watch.

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Posted on 01/19/2012 2:34 PM by Mary Fink
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Monday, 16 January 2012
Win by being nice, not nasty
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I recently observed a supervisor loudly criticizing an employee in front of several customers.  The supervisor achieved resentment from his employee and bad feeling from this customer.  And does work improve with that type of criticism – almost never.

A more logical and effective supervisory approach is a calm clear conversation regarding the assignment at hand.  A definition of the main goals followed by a discussion of the tasks will likely lead to improved performance, a sense of mutual respect and certainly a reduction of stress.

Leaders who teach achieve results and earn respect.

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Posted on 01/16/2012 2:31 PM by Joe Scarlett
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Thursday, 12 January 2012
What's Your Learning Agenda
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One of the things we remind our students about time after time is that they need to have a learning agenda that is theirs, not just their company’s agenda for them.  It can be as simple as a routine of reading a business journal weekly to something much more time-consuming.  It is critical that leaders keep up with what is happening in their organization, their industry and the business world in general.  Decision-making is difficult enough without trying to make them in a vacuum.  What are others in your industry doing?  What are other companies doing that is wildly successful and that you can build on.  Some find that reading (or listening to) books, journals and other publications is helpful.  Others prefer a more hands-on method, whether it be conferences and meetings within your profession, or learning new skills in a workshop or seminar.  Whatever your preference, it’s important to take the time to continue to learn throughout your career.  If it isn’t a habit of yours already, why not make it one starting today?

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Posted on 01/12/2012 9:35 AM by Mary Fink
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Monday, 9 January 2012
The Power of Thank You
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We all feel a little better when we receive a “thank you” no matter the reason. So the challenge for all of us in leadership roles is to set the example with liberal and sincere use of “thank you.”  At home, at work and in the community there is only upside benefit in using “thank you” in every possible circumstance.

When we leaders model the right behavior others will follow. When we are seen as thoughtful by thanking others we earn the respect of those around us.

New Year’s resolution suggestion: “I will use ‘thank you’ twice as often in 2012”.

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Posted on 01/09/2012 9:06 AM by Joe Scarlett
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Friday, 6 January 2012
How did you make that decision?
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In a coaching discussion recently we were assessing a certain business decision and how that decision impacted individuals. One of my associates raised the question “how was that decision made?”  That moved us into a very enlightening review of the decision factors and of the individual making the decision. The details are too complicated to get into but I want to leave you with the following thought:

Next time you are reviewing a decision made by one of your people either before or after the fact ask “what factors did you use in arriving at your decision?” 

You will likely learn a lot about the skill level of the individual, their knowledge of the business process and probably a bit about your coaching and leadership skills.

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Posted on 01/06/2012 10:04 AM by Joe Scarlett
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Tuesday, 3 January 2012
Get Out There! Be Visible!
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Those leaders who are most successful are those who are always out talking with the staff, and not hunkered down in their offices.  Staff want to see leaders walking around, asking and inviting questions so that they can know what is going on in the organization.  When the only source of information is an official report or financial statement, much information is missing.  And when there is a void of information, people make things up—usually negative, not positive.  I have several friends in organizations where the only time the boss is seen is when there is something “official” to be communicated.  Real communication happens when people are able to talk long and often enough to get past the pleasantries and official statements and have real conversations about what is going on, or on their minds.  Great leaders welcome those conversations and seek out opportunities to engage with employees so they know what’s really going on the organization.  So get out there and talk with someone!

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Posted on 01/03/2012 10:02 AM by Mary FInk
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