Leading Blog



06.03.15

Five Habits of Top Athletes We Can Take To the Workplace

Leading Forum
This is a post by Dr. Greg Wells author of Superbodies: Peak Performance Secrets From the World's Best Athletes Wells is a scientist who specializes in extreme human physiology, draws the parallels between elite athletes and top executives to help business leaders perform at the highest level, even when under the most extreme circumstances.

An athlete steps up to the starting blocks in the Olympic stadium. They stand tall, take a few deep breaths, and shake out their muscles. Thousands of people cheer while they are introduced, but their eyes never waver from the lane they’re about to run down. When the gun goes off, they explode into high performance action.

How can we apply this scenario to a business situation? The same techniques that athletes use to perform under pressure allow business leaders to excel in the workplace. Here are five top practices that will improve your health and performance both at the office.

1. The Power Pose. Before competition, athletes often stand tall with their shoulders back and head up. Adopting certain postures improve performance by changing the levels of hormones in your body. Recent research by Dr. Amy Cuddy from the Harvard Business School has shown that adopting a “Power Pose” increases testosterone levels, which is a repair and regenerate hormone, and lowers cortisol, which is a stress hormone.

2. Relaxation Breathing. Stress and tension undermine performance and contribute to the development of chronic, stress-related illnesses. Taking a few deep relaxing breaths and exhaling slowly can dramatically change your psychological state and boost performance. Pause and take a few deep relaxing breaths to regain control of both body and mind.

3. Focus. In sports, it’s obvious that staying focused is critical for success. Physiological science tells us that humans simply can’t focus on multiple things at the same time. We live in the age of distraction, bombarded by emails, social media and text messages all day long. To perform at your best, it is critical to find time each day to focus exclusively on only the most important projects and tasks.

4. Hydrate properly. Athletes know how fundamental water is to their performance. A dehydrated body and brain are sluggish on the track and in the office. Caffeine is great in moderation – one or two cups of coffee per day, ideally 30 minutes before a mental energy boost is required. Other than that, it’s water all the way to maintain focus and stamina. And plenty of it.

5. Be 1% Better. An athlete who delivers an incredible performance in the playoffs is showing the result of thousands of hours of practice. We can do the same thing with our food, sleep, exercise, thinking and work. Strive to be 1% better each day. A 1% change might not seem like much, but those small daily improvements amplify your life. It’s like earning compound interest for your body and mind.

We can all learn from elite performers in any discipline, even areas quite different from our own. Do you have any techniques that you use to perform at your absolute best?

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Dr. Greg Wells is an assistant professor in kinesiology at the University of Toronto and an associate scientist in physiology and experimental medicine at the Hospital for Sick Children. You can follow him on Twitter at @drgregwells or visit his website at drgregwells.com.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:41 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Personal Development

06.01.15

First Look: Leadership Books for June 2015

Here's a look at some of the best leadership books to be released in June.

  Holacracy: The New Management System for a Rapidly Changing World by Brian J. Robertson
  Invisibles: Celebrating the Unsung Heroes of the Workplace by David Zweig
  Let the Elephants Run: Unlock Your Creativity and Change Everything by David Usher
  The Disciplined Leader: Keeping the Focus on What Really Matters by John Manning
  Power Score: Your Formula for Leadership Success by Geoff Smart, Randy Street and Alan Foster

Holacracy Invisibles Let the Elephants Run Disciplined Leader Power Score

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273


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Build your leadership library with these specials on over 100 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.


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“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
— Charles William Eliot


Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:20 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Books

05.31.15

LeadershipNow 140: May 2015 Compilation

twitter

twitter Here are a selection of tweets from May 2015 that you might have missed:
See more on twitter Twitter.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:12 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | LeadershipNow 140

05.18.15

A Lean Look at Value


by Jacob Stoller

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get,” said Warren Buffett, adeptly observing that value is more than just a notion of what something is worth.

Customer value that is based on substance as opposed to perceptions is widely pursued by organizations that aspire to greatness, and is also a fundamental building block of the Lean management system. One of Lean’s great triumphs is that it breaks value down into a set of metrics that can be actively pursued. Leaders who aspire to excellence can gain much from studying this approach.

Separating value from waste

Toyota, who pioneered Lean methods in the wake of World War II, learned how to maximize value under dire circumstances. Desperate to make the most of scarce resources, they began a relentless campaign to eradicate any expenses or activities that didn’t contribute directly to the value that customers would willingly to pay for. In other words, maximizing value – Buffett’s proverbial “what you get” - was a process of elimination. For example, an assembler installing a mirror on a vehicle was at that moment adding value. Walking across the plant to retrieve a screwdriver while the vehicle sat idle, however, was considered non-value or waste. If there were more workers than necessary assembling the car, or more parts than needed in inventory, these were considered wastes that added unnecessary cost to the vehicle.

The key here is that the workpiece is treated as a proxy for the customer. It’s almost as if extra walking was keeping the customer waiting, or extraneous activity was wasting the customer’s money. This applies in any industry, whether the workpiece is a manufactured product, a meal in preparation, or an insurance claim under review. In healthcare, the workpiece and the customer are the same, making non-value activity waiting particularly visible and objectionable.

Where’s the customer?

In Lean organizations, all efforts are focused on the customer experience. To support this, Lean organizations drive improvement using metrics that pertain directly to customer value, such as defect rates, on-time delivery, lead times, and cost indicators such as inventory turns.

also prioritizes roles according to customer value – the closer you are to the customer, the more important the work is. In a factory, the shop floor workers who produce the goods are the most important. In a hospital, it’s the hands-on care workers. In an insurance company, it’s the representatives that are on the phone handling customer claims.

This approach has profound implications for employees who don’t make products or interact with customers. By the Lean definition, non-production activity, including IT, engineering, HR, accounting, and yes, senior management, can only provide value indirectly through their support of production.

This calls for some major role shifts. HR, instead of sponsoring leadership courses, might spend more time in the workplace helping employees develop problem-solving skills. Accounting, instead of trying to explain variances for the past quarter, might spend their time developing real-time reports to help production supervisors make better buying decisions. And senior managers might step out of the executive suite and find out what more they can do to support their value-creating workers.

When assessing whether an activity has value, everything stems from one question: “Why would our customers pay for this?” If the answer is “I don’t know,” maybe it’s time to eliminate it.

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About Jacob Stoller
Stoller (jacobstoller.com) is a journalist, speaker and consultant, and author of the new book The Lean CEO (McGraw-Hill Education). Follow Jacob Stoller on Twitter.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:11 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Human Resources , Management

05.15.15

5 Leadership Lessons: How to be More Creative and Enrich Your Life



Curiosity has been the most valuable quality, the most important resource, the central motivation of my life,” writes Hollywood producer Brian Grazer in A Curious Mind.

Early in life, Grazer began having what he calls “curiosity conversations.” He began tracking down people he was curious about and asking them if he could sit down with them and talk. He particularly looked for people outside of the entertainment business. The goal was to learn something. He says, “I want to understand what makes people tick; I want to see if I can connect a person’s attitude and personality with their work, with their challenges and accomplishments.”

Grazer is a storyteller by trade and it comes through in the stories he tells of the people he has met through his curiosity conversations. Conversations like these get you out of your head and better connected to reality. They provide great insights into yourself and others. It would be a worthwhile goal for anyone to create similar conversations in their own life. And Grazer persuasively argues that you should. (Give one to a graduate. They’ll get it. I put my son on to the project.)

Here are five leadership lessons from A Curious Mind. I particularly like the first point as it provides a starting point—a practical behavior—to develop the thinking and the creativity that drives innovation.

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5 Leadership Lessons
As indispensable as they are, “creativity” and “innovation” are hard to measure and almost impossible to teach. Unlike creativity and innovation, though, curiosity is by its nature more accessible, more democratic, easier to see, and also easier to do. Curiosity is the tool that sparks creativity. Curiosity is the technique that gets to innovation.

2  I’ve discovered that even when you’re in charge, you are often much more effective asking questions than giving orders. The real benefit of asking rather than telling is that it creates the space for a conversation, for a different idea, a different strategy. I’ve discovered another unexpected characteristic of using questions: they transmit values. In fact, questions can quietly transmit values more powerfully that a direct statement telling people what you want them to stand for, or exhorting them about what you want them to stand for.

3  Being able to imagine the perspective of others is also a critical strategic tool for managing reality in a whole range of professions. In fact, the very best doctors, detectives, generals, coaches, and diplomats all share the skill of being able to think about the world from the perspective of their rivals. You can’t simply design your own strategy, then execute it and wait to see what happens so you can respond. You have to anticipate what’s going to happen—first by disrupting your own point of view.

4  Curiosity rewards persistence. Persistence is what carries curiosity to some worthwhile resolution. Likewise, persistence without curiosity may mean you chase a goal that isn’t worthy of the effort—or you chase a goal without adjusting as you learn new information. You end up way off course. Persistence is the drive moving you forward. Curiosity provides the navigation.

5  Curiosity is great, but if what we learn evaporates, if it goes no further than our own experience, then it doesn’t really help us. Curiosity itself is essential to survival. But the power of human development comes from being able to share what we learn, and to accumulate it. And that’s what stories are: shared knowledge. Curiosity motivates us to explore and discover. Storytelling allows us to share the knowledge and excitement of what we’ve figured out. And that storytelling in turn inspires curiosity in the people to whom we’re talking.

“When curiosity really captures you, it fits the pieces of the world together. You may have to learn about the parts, but when you’re done, you have a picture of something you never understood before.” Grazer encourages us to keep asking questions until something interesting happens! And it can start with anyone you come into contact with. Everyone has a story to tell—go and be surprised.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:20 PM
| TrackBacks (0) | Creativity & Innovation , Learning



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