Thursday, 27 October 2011
Calmness in the midst of crisis
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From time to time most business leaders will face unforeseen crises.  The way we react sends a clear message to our team and our peers about our professional skills.  If we become panic stricken and don’t seem to know what to do next then confidence in us erodes. People will avoid contact and try to solve problems independently.

The good leaders remain calm in the face of crisis.  The good leaders obtain the facts, discuss the relevant issues with the key constituents and then take the appropriate action. Reaction to crisis is a clear measure of leadership maturity – make sure you are prepared to act calmly and decisively.

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Posted on 10/27/2011 10:52 AM by Joe Scarlett
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Monday, 24 October 2011
Learning from the Mountaintop
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Reflecting back on the past week, which was retreat week with a new Signature Executive class, I am reminded of a comment that a student made toward the end of the week.  He was commenting on the way learning happens in a variety of ways, from the world-class speakers to the dinner discussions to the casual conversations that take place among two, three or more people during the free time.  The comment that stuck with me was how much each student learned about the other students’ business during the presentations that each of them made  and videoed during the week.  Each student chose something that relates to the work that he or she does specific to their work and made a brief presentation about it. 

 We heard presentations about everything from philanthropy to the purchase of capital equipment and new businesses to cost savings to requesting additional staff.  Each one was a peek into the work life of a student and the day proved to be a learning opportunity on many levels. 

 I love retreat week because selfishly, I learn as much as anyone else in the class. 

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Posted on 10/24/2011 10:56 AM by Mary Fink
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Friday, 14 October 2011
Return my phone call
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I am anybody who took the time to call you and I think I am entitled to a response. If I am a salesperson give me one minute and then give me a polite no. I will respect you for spending that one minute with me. And since I talk to lots of people I might just have a nice word to say about you.

I also just might be that person with the one big idea or product that could make a gigantic difference in your business.  Don’t run the risk of missing a potential big opportunity. You may not realize it but people talk about you and developing a reputation of not returning phone calls can impair your reputation in the business community.

Return calls – it can only help. 

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Posted on 10/14/2011 3:04 PM by Joe Scarlett
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Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Celebrating Our Newest Graduates
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This past Friday, our Signature Executive Program Class #10 had its graduation celebration.  As part of every follow-up session that we have, each student stands up in front of the class and talks about what they have accomplished over the past two months.  For the final session, we ask that they review their whole year of learning and give us a summary of all that they have done to become a better leader.  It is always a special time for us, as we realize that they have truly achieved our goal for them:  positive behavioral change.

I jotted down some of the remarks, and want to share a summary of them:

I have restored my self-confidence; I think more; I am mentoring a colleague; I am being a better boss by holding the ladder for others to climb; I have begun listening more and have lost the curse of knowledge; I have improved in my work-life balance;  I am delegating---pushing things down as far as possible; I am much more relaxed when presenting; I am practicing servant leadership—it’s about them not me.  One person summed it up this way:  I am transitioning from a manager who did everything to one who doesn’t—I listen and ask questions and let them come up with the answer.  I was enabling my staff to stay weak.  There were many other comments, especially around the topic of learning to be more patient, but I think you get the picture:  once we focus on the things we want to get right, and others hold us accountable for that, we each become better leaders in whatever way we need. 

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Posted on 10/11/2011 7:58 AM by Mary Fink
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Friday, 7 October 2011
Engage and Empower
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Trust is a powerful tool of forward thinking leaders.  When you really trust, it frees you to focus on big picture long term topics that likely have real relevance for your business unit. When you trust, you are empowering those on your team to take the ball and run with it. In my observations I believe that one of the biggest single obstacles to executive growth is the reluctance and sometimes just outright refusal to trust.

Let’s examine a simple and probably timely example.  Most of you have a Christmas party coming up this fall and let’s assume you are the boss. You could “take charge” and run the whole thing which undoubtedly would require some of your valuable time but you know it would get done just as you want. However you could ask for a volunteer from each of the key departments to form the “Christmas Party Committee.”  You could kick it off and set a few parameters on important subjects like budget, date, alcohol policy, and etc. Then back off!

The result would be different than what you would do but it would belong to the whole organization. The committee members would solicit ideas from others and there would be broad based interest and support. The committee members would be proud, confident and the entire organization would feel engaged.  You would be a little more respected and you would have more time to concentrate on the important issues. 

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Posted on 10/07/2011 2:50 PM by Joe Scarlett
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Wednesday, 5 October 2011
The Evidence of Leadership
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I was in a fast food restaurant today  with a colleague and witnessed the evidence of leadership, even though the leader was not physically present.  I placed my order, received my cup, got my drink and sat down.  A few minutes passed, and then a few minutes more.  Suddenly one of the workers was at my table exclaiming “You don’t have your meal yet?  Let me fix that!” and off she went.  Pretty soon she returned with my meal, apologizing that it took so long, and to make it up to me there were some extra things on my plate.

My friend and I ate our lunches, and as soon as we were finished, another worker appeared asking to clear our table and refill our drinks.  I was astonished--this was better service that I receive in some restaurants, and yet this was a fast food establishment.  We thanked them, and went on our way, thinking that this was a perfect example of leadership at the top letting everyone in the organization know what was expected, and it happened whether the manager was there or not. 

 Truly an example of great leadership getting the job done! 

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Posted on 10/05/2011 9:08 AM by Mary Fink
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