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LeadershipNow 140: June 2010 Compilation


twitter Here are a selection of tweets from June 2010: See more on twitter Twitter.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:32 AM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140


Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter


MUCH OF WHAT constitutes good leadership can be summarized in two words: respect and selflessness.

How we relate to those two words will determine how we lead. Consider two assumptions that lie at the opposite ends of the spectrum:

• Really intelligent people are a rare breed and I am one of the few really smart people. People will never be able to figure things out without me. I need to have all the answers.

• Smart people are everywhere and will figure things out and get even smarter in the process. My job is to ask the right questions.

What you believe has a big impact on the performance, engagement, loyalty and the transparency you find with those you lead and interact with. In Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, authors Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown refer to those with the mindset represented by the first assumption as Diminshers and those with the mindset represented by the second assumption as Multipliers. It explains why some leaders create intelligence around them, while others diminish it.

The value of Multipliers is that is shows what these assumptions about people look like in practice and how they are reflected in your behavior. How would you approach your job differently if you believed that people are smart and can figure it out? With a Multiplier mindset, people will surprise you. They will give more. You will learn more. What kind of solutions could we generate if you could access the underutilized brainpower in the world? How much more could you accomplish?

It’s not that Diminishers don’t get things done. They do. It’s just that the people around them feel drained, overworked and underutilized. Some leaders seem to drain the “intelligence and capability out of the people around them. Their focus on their own intelligence and their resolve to be the smartest person in the room [has] a diminishing effect on everyone else. For them to look smart, other people had to end up looking dumb.” In short, Diminishers are absorbed in their own intelligence, stifle others, and deplete the organization of crucial intelligence and capability.

Multipliers get more done by leveraging (using more) of the intelligence and capabilities of the people around them. They respect others. “Multipliers are leaders who look beyond their own genius and focus their energy on extracting and extending the genius of others.” These are not “feel good” leaders. “They are tough and exacting managers who see a lot of capacity in others and want to utilize that potential to the fullest.”

The authors have identified five key behaviors or disciplines that distinguish Multipliers from Diminishers. You are not either/or but are somewhere along a continuum. These are all learned behaviors and have everything to do with how you view people. We don’t have to be great in all disciplines to be a Multiplier, but we have to be at least neutral in those disciplines we struggle with.

The Empire BuilderHoards resources and underutilizes talentThe Talent MagnetAttracts talented people & uses them at their highest point of contribution
The TyrantCreates a tense environment that suppresses people’s thinking and capabilityThe LiberatorCreates an intense environment that requires people’s best thinking and work
The Know-It-AllGives directives that showcase how much they knowThe ChallengerDefines an opportunity that causes people to stretch
The Decision MakerMakes centralized, abrupt decisions that confuse the organizationThe Debate MakerDrives sound decisions through rigorous debate
The Micro ManagerDrives results through their personal involvementThe InvestorGives other people the ownership for results and invests in their success

They have developed an assessment tool you can use to see where you are. Importantly, the first place to begin is with your assumptions about people. If you don’t have that straight the rest is just manipulation.

As with most behaviors, we do them because we feel we have to. They are self-perpetuating. We jump in where we shouldn’t and come to the rescue. Under our “help” (domination) people hold back thereby reaffirming our belief that they just couldn’t do it without us. And they can’t or rather won’t. Instead they quit while still working for us or move on.

We see this in ourselves, in others and in organizations of all types. Leaders are especially prone to run over people, because after all, they have the vision, the know-how and the desire to get it done. We have to slow down and remember that we are not there just to get the job done, but to develop others to get the job done. They can (and need to be able to) do it without us. It’s our job to show them how.

In many ways, as leaders, we can become accidental Diminishers. The skills that got us into a position of leadership, are not the same skills we need to lead. Leadership requires a shift in our thinking. Wiseman and McKeown write, “Most of the Diminishers had grown up praised for their personal intelligence and had moved up the management ranks on account of personal—and often intellectual—merit. When they become ‘the boss,’ they assumed it was their job to be the smartest and to manage a set of ‘subordinates.’"

Here are some thoughts—out of context—from the book that will get you thinking:

“Marguerite is so capable she could do virtually any aspect of girl’s camp herself.” But what is interesting about Marguerite isn’t that she could—it is that she doesn’t. Instead, she leads like a Multiplier, invoking brilliance and dedication in the other fifty-nine leaders who make this camp a reality.

One leader had a sign on her door: “Ignore me as needed to get your job done.” She told new staff members, “Yes, there will be a few times when I get agitated because I would have done it differently, but I’ll get over it. I’d rather you trust your judgment, keep moving, and get the job done.”

The path of least resistance for most smart, driven leaders is to become a Tyrant. Even Michael said, “it’s not like it isn’t tempting to be tyrannical when you can.”

Policies—established to create order—often unintentionally keep people from thinking. At best, these policies limit intellectual range of motion as they straitjacket the thinking of the followers. At worst these systems shut down thinking entirely.

“It is just easier to hold back and let Kate do the thinking.” [They resign: “Whatever!”]

It is a small victory to create space for others to contribute. But it is a huge victory to maintain that space and resist the temptation to jump back in and consume it yourself.

An unsafe environment yields only the safest ideas.

[Multipliers] ask questions so immense that people can’t answer them based on their current knowledge or where they currently stand. To answer these questions, the organization must learn.

His greatest value was not his intelligence, but how he invested his intelligence in others.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:28 PM
| Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1) | Human Resources , Leadership Development , Learning , Management , Thinking


Finding the Why of Work

As most of us spend more time at work than we do anywhere else, work is a universal setting in which we can find meaning in our life. Meaning is the why that motivates, inspires and defines us. The Why of Work by Dave and Wendy Ulrich is a timely and important book. It is about our search for meaning and how “leaders facilitate that search personally and among their employees.”

Importantly, they begin with a discussion of the seemingly inevitable issue of deficit thinking. “When employees lose what they have come to count on and expect—be it a person, an income, a position, or less concrete notions like security, identity, or direction—they are inclined to deficit thinking.” “Deficit thinking,” they write, “can lock us into a prison of our own making, a prison dominated by fear, isolation, disorientation, and competition for scarce resources.” We can’t eliminate the hardships, uncertainties and disruptions we sometimes face, but we can change our perspective—find a different meaning. That is where leaders come in.
If we focus attention on what we stand to gain from our crisis, not just what we stand to lose, abundance thinking can replace deficit thinking even when deficits are the rule of the day. Abundance looks to future opportunity more than past disappointments, promotes hope over despair, suggests change for the future rather than languishing in the past, and fosters the creation of new meaning where old meanings have broken down. Abundance does not imply that things come easily or quickly but that we can make meaning even in the midst of challenges we face.
Leaders need to promote this meaning–making; create repositories of abundance where employees can “gain antidotes to some of the malaise, isolation and crises of meaning” they face.

Meaning is not found in events but in the way we interpret those events. This means we are not (or should not) be controlled by what is happening around us, but that we have to consciously work to determine what it means.

Dave and Wendy Ulrich have proposed seven questions—and devoted a chapter to each—to help leaders drive the abundance agenda—questions that help leaders make meaning, add value, create emotional energy, and foster hope while at work.

1. What Am I Known For? (Identity)
A sense of identity is fostered by a clear sense of who we are, what we believe in, and what we are good at. Our identity is grounded in how we instinctively use our skills in the service of our deepest values.

2. Where Am I Going? (Purpose and Motivation)
Abundance emerges from a clear sense of what we are trying to accomplish and why. Employees who can meet their personal goals at work remain motivated and engaged; those who can’t, go in a different direction, physically or emotionally.

3. Whom Do I Travel With? (Relationships and Teamwork)
Our sense of abundance is enhanced by meaningful relationships. High-performing teams come from high-relating people. When leaders help their organization “families” move beyond superficialities of getting along to struggle through conflict so that they can understand one another’s strengths and weakness, they can approach the kind of synergy that occurs in the best of human relationships. This means that leaders need to learn and model the skills of building good relationships at work.

4. How Do I Build a Positive Work Environment? (Effective Work Culture or Setting)
Abundance thrives on positive routines that help ground us in what matters most. Instead of building routines and patterns that encourage self-reflection, honest sharing, and the kind of consistency that brings people together, many of us build habits, addictions, and compulsive patterns that serve primarily to block out other people. Or, we build few routines at all, leaving us untethered in time and space and making us unpredictable to those who want to connect. Routines and patterns driven by our deepest values help us stay grounded in what matters most and available to those who matter most.

5. What Challenges Interest Me? (Personalizing and Contributing Work)
It’s hard to imagine abundance in the absence of challenge. Employees who are competent but not committed will not perform to their full potential. Commitment comes from building an employee value proposition that engages employees to use their discretionary energy to pursue organization goals. Commitment or engagement grows when we work in a company with a vision, have opportunities to learn and grow, do work that has an impact, receive fair pay for work done, work with people we like working with, and are offered flexibility about terms and conditions of work.

6. How Do I Respond to Disposability and Change? (Growth, Learning, and Resilience)
Abundance is less about getting things right and more about moving in the right direction. Unlike the assumption of disposability that governs so much of modern society, resilience and learning principles challenge us to “repair, reuse, and recycle” people, products, and programs rather than tossing them.

7. What Delights Me? (Civility and Happiness)
Abundance thrives on simple pleasures. The cry for tolerance demands that we outgrow our racial, religious, political, ethnic, and gender stereotypes. The cry for civility also calls upon us to outgrow our we-they, win-lose, right-wrong, blame-and-shame mentality. As we move away from hostility and blame toward problem-solving, listening, curiosity, and compassion, simple civility greases the skids. Delight often comes in small packages, and when money is tight it helps to know that small and simple pleasures spread over time have more impact on our sense of well-being than grand one-time gestures.

“Meaning does not ensure ease; it offers hope,” they write. “Abundance emerges from the growing conviction that what we are about ‘makes sense’—that it contributes to something larger than ourselves and that it is grounded in our deepest values. Such conviction does not forestall all problems, but it helps us confront problems with courage and integrity.”

Leaders at all levels can help (and have a responsibility to) make meaning happen.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:00 AM
| Comments (0) | Human Resources


Developing a Small-Wins Strategy for Growth

When moving through difficult times, it is helpful to develop a small-wins strategy. In difficult times, deficit-thinking is so easy to fall into and often becomes the norm. It is hard to defeat but by highlighting small-wins you help to create the kind of abundance-thinking needed for growth and forward momentum. A strategy of small-wins helps to develop the kind of outlook associated with abundance-thinking—self-efficacy, hope, optimism and resilience.

A small-wins strategy also helps to eliminate the tendency to be consumed by past disappointments, obstacles and failures. The need to look for “what is working now” is key to moving forward. It opens your thinking to possibilities and paves the way for improving processes.

Small-wins focus on the here and now. What can we do now and what can we safely ignore or eliminate. It is an antidote to the fixation error trap. It’s easy to caught up in “everything”—the full impact of what is happening and the habits and perspectives that have become so much of who we are—that we become overwhelmed and unable to act at all. Fixation errors keep us from noticing what is really happening, separating us from reality. Reassess after each win and keep moving to build momentum.

Begin by breaking tasks and issues down in to manageable pieces; pieces that you can take responsibility for and act on now. If you are not in a position to implement this strategy on an organizational level, adopt it for your team or even individually. Lead from where you are. It’s contagious.

Of Related Interest:
  The Nature of Small Wins

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:35 AM
| Comments (0) | Management , Problem Solving , Teamwork


12 Leadership Guidelines for Leading through Learning in Turbulent Times

In January 2009, founder and chairman of India’s Satyam Computer Services—the “largest publically traded company you’ve never heard of”—Ramalinga Raju confesses to massive accounting fraud and resigns. In a five-page letter to the board, he described the problem saying, “It was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten.” In an instant, he left behind him, chaos, distrust, and plummeting moral among his more than 53,000 employees. But Riding the Tiger is not about how the Enron-like tragedy occurred, but how a leading through learning strategy calmed the chaos and helped the company recover and rebuild.

Authors and former Satyam employees Pricilla Nelson (Global Director of People Leadership) and Ed Cohen (Chief Learning Officer) share the take-away lessons learned on the road to recovery and renewal. Step one was what they eventually called the “Lights On” strategy. That is “deciding exactly what must be done to keep the business moving and doing only that which is critical to help the organization stabilize.” They describe 6-steps—beginning with hold everything and build an adaptable start-stop-continue plan—based on the two pillars of learning and communication.

Nelson and Cohen write, “Learning is critical for stabilizing the organization, providing guidance to leaders, communicating with employees, and keeping the business open.” Communication is critical. “The leaders who lead out loud—those who maintain transparency, approachability, and integrity—are the ones with whom people want to work, in good times and bad.”

Venkatesh Roddam, Director of VenSat Tech India was the CEO at Satyam BPO (a Satyam subsidiary), reflects on the resilience at Satyam, “To be faced with a crisis the magnitude of what Satyam dealt with and then one year later to be reborn and vibrant in a new avatar speak volumes about the value of a strong leadership culture. This resilience is the result of years of painstakingly implemented leadership strategies.” The authors stress the need for developing leadership guidelines in order to leverage learning and to assist leaders with the complicated people and relationship dimensions of the business. You can use these 12 guidelines as a basis for coaching conversations:
  1. Understand that we will never get back to normal: While it is comfortable to want to seek the status quo, “normal” in times of a crisis is constantly changing. Leaders need to move on to seek better ways of doing things, letting these new ways become the new normal.
  2. Take care of one another: Listening reduces anxiety. Provide regular updates on what is happening across the organization and expand inclusivity.
  3. React…pause…respond: The right response will be made once information gathering, integrity, an open heart, and seeking to understand have been considered.
  4. Talk—even when you don’t believe there is much to say: Overcommunication is essential during turbulent times. Consistent and continuous messaging prevents rumors from spreading and demonstrates the leaders’ approachability and transparency.
  5. Be visible—now is not the time to play hide-and-seek: People become fearful when the leader goes into hiding. As a leader, be present, inform comfort, and provide strength for others.
  6. Maintain integrity and high value morals: Current circumstances should not influence or distort your definition of integrity and other core values.
  7. Optimize costs, with retention in mind: Make cost optimization decisions keeping employee retention in mind. This allows leaders to assess risk and make more informed decisions.
  8. Be a brand ambassador: The organization needs people who are brand ambassadors. As brand ambassadors, you are responsible for representing the organization both internally and externally in a positive manner. This means you must refrain from making statements that might cause further turbulence.
  9. Assess and rebuild trust: Rebuilding an injured organization requires making difficult decisions that not everyone will understand. For this reason, you and other leaders must continuously asses and rebuild trust.
  10. Remember, leaders are human, too: Though there will be difficult times during a crisis, as leader, it is important to remain composed.
  11. Think like a child: Try to live “in the moment,” not allowing business to consume every moment. Work/life balance can exist, even in a crisis.
  12. Take care of your emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being: Don’t put any aspect of your well-being on hold. While change and uncertainty at work are draining, you cannot allow them to take over your life.
The authors say that 87% of businesses fail to recover from devastation such as this because they have “not correctly aligned their priorities for recovery, and more importantly re-growth. Too often the immediate focus is put on salvaging customer relationships and brand identity. The relationship with employees does not receive the same priority. Leaders do not communicate as much as needed leaving them wondering what the future holds for them and their colleagues. This dichotomy results in major turnover, far more than companies in crisis can withstand, and ultimately contribute to their failure.”

Posted by Michael McKinney at 04:00 PM
| Comments (0) | General Business


Maxwell Connect: 7 Things You Can Do to Become More Interesting

Maxwell Connect
If you want friends, show yourself friendly. If you want to connect with others, become the kind of person others want to connect with. Be the kind of communicator that you would like to hear. “Connectors,” says John Maxwell, “create an experience everyone enjoys.”

A big part of being an interesting person, is being interested in other people; making them feel interesting. You’ll be amazed how interesting you become to them.

In Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, Maxwell recommends seven things to make yourself more interesting. They were presented in the context of speaking to audiences, but as you will see, they have application to one-on-one communication as well.
  1. Take Responsibility for Your Listeners. It is our responsibility to make our communication enjoyable. It is our job to add value to others. Ask “What can I do to involve others and draw them into the conversation?” He reminds us, “Creating positive, memorable experiences does more to connect families than just about anything else.”
  2. Communicate In Their World. “If you want to get your message across, you have to learn how to communicate in someone else’s world…. Too often speakers are unwilling or unable to get out of their own world and say things from the perspective of their listeners.” You have to learn to connect what you want to say to what others’ needs are. “People don’t remember what we think is important; they remember what they think is important.”
  3. Capture People’s Attention from the Start. People make quick judgments about us all the time. As Sonya Hamlin suggests in How to Talk So People Listen, “from the moment when others first meet us, they are consciously or unconsciously evaluating us and deciding whether to keep listening or simply dismiss us. She says, If we’re not captured by something in those first moments, it’s ‘Excuse me, I see a friend,’ and off they go.” If it’s all about us and our opinion, it’s more likely that they’ll look for the friend.
  4. Activate Your Audience. Communicate energy and passion.
  5. Say It So It Sticks. “If you want people to remember what you say, you need to say the right thing at the right moment in the right way.” Timing is important. Find common ground and say things in an interesting way. Pause. “Connecting with people is a two-way street. It is a dialogue, not a monologue.”
  6. Be Visual. Paint vivid pictures in people’s minds. “Anything that can help people visually helps them to connect.”
  7. Tell Stories. “Perhaps the most effective way to capture people’s interest and make the experience enjoyable when you talk, is to include stories….We use stories to make sense of our experience. And when we share them, we help people understand us, themselves, and their world.”

"There's different ways that you can measure people's greatness. And the way I like to measure greatness is: How many people do you affect? In your time on earth, how many people can you affect? How many people can you make want to be better? Or how many people can you inspire to want to do what you do?"
—Will Smith, Vanity Fair, July 1999

John Maxwell asks, “In the end, what good is our communication if its impact ends the moment we stop speaking?”

Related Interest:
  Maxwell Connect: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect
  Maxwell Connect: 4 Barriers to Finding Common Ground

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:21 AM
| Comments (0) | TrackBacks (2) | Communication


Maxwell Connect: 4 Barriers to Finding Common Ground

Maxwell Connect
The first rule of connecting is to find common ground. Again, this requires an other-focus. In Everyone Communicates, Few Connect, John Maxwell writes, “It is difficult to find common ground with others when the only person you are focused on is yourself!” We can’t find common ground if we are trying to make other people into a version of ourselves.

Each of us sees the world from our own unique perspective. Terry Felber, author of Am I Making Myself Clear? wrote, “If you can learn to pinpoint how those around you experience the world, and really try to experience the same world they do, you’ll be amazed at how effective your communication will become.” The secret to finding common ground is the willingness to see things from others’ point of view.

There are many reasons people neglect to find common ground, Maxwell says, but here are the top four:
  1. Assumption: “I already know what others know, feel, and want.” “All miscommunications are a result of differing assumptions” says Jerry Ballard. “We need to be like a good tailor. Every time he sees a client, he takes new measurements. He never assumes people are the same as the last time he saw them.” This is even true of those close to you. When you make assumptions about people, “you stop paying attention to people and miss clues that would otherwise help you to find and reach common ground with them.”
  2. Arrogance: “I don’t need to know what others know, feel, or want.” Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis observed, “Nine-tenths of the serious controversies that arise in life result from misunderstanding, from one man not knowing the facts which to the other man seem important, or otherwise failing to appreciate his point of view.” Our arrogance builds a barrier between us and others when we hold to our way of thinking to be the only right way.”
  3. Indifference: “I don’t care to know what others know, feel, or want.” Indifference is really just another form of selfishness. “Communicators who are indifferent are focused on themselves and their own comfort instead of extending themselves and finding the best way to relate to others.” ”
  4. Control: “I don’t want others to know what I know, feel, or think.” Maxwell says that finding common ground is a two-way street. Good leaders “inform people, make them a part of what is going on, and include them in decision making whenever possible. You cannot establish common ground if you refuse to let anyone know who you are or what you believe.””
Everyone Communicates, Few Connect
Taking down these barriers is matter of choice. It means making yourself available, listening to others, asking questions, being open, being adaptable to people and situations, and most importantly, being humble. “I will think of myself less so I can think of others more.” Civil rights activist Cornel West says, “Humility means two things. One, a capacity for self-criticism…. The second feature is allowing others to shine, affirming others, empowering and enabling others. Those who lack humility are dogmatic and egotistical. That masks a deep sense of insecurity. They feel the success of others is at the expense of their own fame and glory.”

If we want to find common ground, Maxwell recommends we step back and ask:
  • Do I feel what you feel BEFORE asking “Do you feel what I feel?”
  • Do I see what you see BEFORE asking “Do you see what I see?”
  • Do I know what you know BEFORE asking “Do you know what I know?”
  • Do I know what you want BEFORE asking “Do you know what I want?”

Related Interest:
  Maxwell Connect: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect
  Maxwell Connect: 7 Things You Can Do to Become More Interesting

Posted by Michael McKinney at 07:34 AM
| Comments (0) | TrackBacks (2) | Communication


Maxwell Connect: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect

Maxwell Connect
George Bernard Shaw said, “The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.”

How true. One of the biggest reasons leaders fail is their inability to communicate. Most of the time, we unconsciously leave it to chance. Just because we say something, doesn’t mean we have communicated it. As John Baldoni observed, “The ability to speak is not the same thing as the ability to communicate….The capacity to construct a message, address it to another, listen for feedback, process that feedback, and continue to communicate in ways that are understood is one of the hardest things a leader will have to do.” But it can be done if we are willing to make the conscious choice to connect with others.

John Maxwell has written a clear and well organized book (with his writing partner Charlie Wetzel) about connecting with others one-on-one, in groups and before an audience. It’s a practical book about bridging the gap between you and the people you are trying to connect with. Everyone Communicates, Few Connect is oriented towards leaders, which is to say, any of us that decide to make a choice to intentionally influence others.

Connecting is basic to human relations. Maxwell puts it simply: “If you want to succeed, you must learn how to connect with others.” He asks, “Have you ever heard of someone who is said to have a charmed life? Usually those are people who have learned how to connect. When you connect with others, you position yourself to make the most of your skills and talents.

How does connecting happen? Not surprisingly, it all begins with your attitude. “The ability to connect with others begins with understanding the value of people.” As with leadership in general, connecting is about other people. In a word, selflessness. It is about asking yourself, “Am I going to make this about them or me?” Maxwell points out that “understanding that your focus must be on others is often the greatest hurdle people face in connecting with others.” It’s all too easy to get caught up in what we are doing to the point where we place it and ourselves at the center of the universe.

Maxwell writes, “Good teachers, leaders, and speakers don’t see themselves as experts with passive audiences they need to impress. Nor do they view their interests as most important. Instead they see themselves as guides and focus on helping others learn.” He tells a story from when he began his career as a minister. He felt frustrated and unfulfilled. He kept asking himself questions like, “Why aren’t people listening to me? Why aren’t people helping me? Why aren’t people following me?” He writes, “Notice my questions centered on me because my focus was on me….I was self-absorbed, and as a result, I failed to connect with people….I realized that I was trying to get ahead by correcting others when I should have been trying to connect with others.” It is all too easy to focus on our needs instead of the needs of others.

There are three questions people are always asking about you: “Do you care for me?” “Can you help me?” and “Can I trust you?”Connecting begins when the other person feels valued. We need to have the attitude and approach of “What can I do to increase my value of others?”

The ideas he presents are not new nor should we expect them to be. While technology has changed some of our tools of communication, it has not changed the principles of connecting. Ironically, technology has not made it any easier or better. Today's technology won’t communicate a selfless attitude any better than using smoke signals, if it is not the foundation of the communication in the first place. Forming connections with each other has not changed over time. We must always be reminded of the principles behind it.

Related Interest:
  Maxwell Connect: 4 Barriers to Finding Common Ground
  Maxwell Connect: 7 Things You Can Do to Become More Interesting

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:59 AM
| Comments (0) | TrackBacks (1) | Communication

Stimulus Package 3 - Free Book: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect

StimulusPackageHere’s a stimulus package to get you thinking. It’s a package designed to serve as a catalyst to help you to find ways to make things work and get things done. While you might think of it as a piece of good fortune, don’t think of it as a bailout. You’ve still got to do the inside work.

In partnership with Thomas Nelson Publishers, we are giving away five copies of Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell. Everyone Communicates, Few Connect asks are you just talking or are you connecting. Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them. To be successful, Maxwell says, you must work with others. To do that at your absolute best, you must learn to connect.

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect
For a chance to receive a free copy, leave a comment by midnight, Sunday, June 20th, on this post about how you approach the need to connect. How has your ability to connect or not connect affected your ability to influence those around you either at work or in your personal life?

On Monday, June 21, 2010 we will randomly select five recipients to receive a free copy.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 11:43 AM
| Comments (0) | Books


Top Five Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World

Leadership Nuggets

The On-Demand Brand
Rule #1: Insight Comes Before Inspiration. The most successful digital initiatives typically don't start with the idea for a cool new digital experience. Instead, they start with consumer insights culled from painstaking research into who your customers are, what they're all about, how they interact with consumer technologies, and what they want from the brands they know and trust. Case in point: Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty."

Rule #2: Don't Repurpose, Reimagine. Creating multiplatform strategies that connect with audiences where they live doesn't just mean posting television spots on YouTube in the hopes they go viral. In a medium where the possibilities are endless, television is the jumping off point to much more interactive and engaging experiences. You've got to invent new ways to help your customers make your brand their own. Case in point: HBO's Voyeur Project.

Rule #3: Don't Just Join the Conversation -- Spark It. Out of the over 600,000 branded pages that Facebook Page Tracker monitors, a mere 57,000 have more than 1,000 "fans." Apparently, most people don't want to be friends with a brand. If you want to be part of the conversation on social networking sites, be the party that initiates it -- through compelling experiences that keep customers talking. Case in point: Johnson & Johnson's BabyCenter.

Rule #4: There's No Business Without Show Business. Your brand is a story; tell it. Don't just sell product; sell the problem it solves, the feeling it gives, the status it conveys, or the value it embodies. But beware of pushing to transform your brand's website into an "entertainment portal" simply for entertainment's sake. In the on-demand era, the best branded entertainment experiences are P-O-S-itive -- that is: personalizable, ownable, and sharable. Case in point: Degree antiperspirant's webisode series "The Rookie."

Rule #5: Want Control? Give It Away. "User-generated content" (UGC) might not be cutting edge (it's been featured on ABC-TV's America's Funniest Home Videos for nearly twenty years), but it's a big-time buzz builder. Young consumers, especially adolescent males, seem more than happy to create their own video ads to upload on YouTube and email to friends. How do you give away control while simultaneously getting what you want? Ensure rewards for making UGC promote your brand, rather than mock or bash it. Case in point: Doritos' $1 million contest for creating a Super Bowl commercial, which, according to the company, generated $36 million in free publicity for the brand before and after the big game.

Adapted from The On-Demand Brand: 10 Rules for Digital Marketing Success in an Anytime, Everywhere World by Rick Mathieson.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:32 AM
| Comments (0) | Leadership Nuggets , Marketing


Why Design Thinking Is the Next Competitive Advantage

We live in a reliability-oriented world. And understandably so. We want predictable outcomes. We want things to keep working as they have always been—perfectly.

Success. Repeat. Success. Repeat.

But that thinking ultimately limits our growth and quite possibly harbors the seeds of our own destruction. It can be (very) valuable to a point, but it isn’t adaptable because by its very nature it has to leave something out of the equation. While reliable outcomes “reduce the risk of small variations in your business, they increase the risk of cataclysmic events that occur when the future no longer resembles the past” and the reliable is no longer relevant or useful.

To remain relevant—to foster innovation—you need to incorporate into your thinking outcomes that are valid. That is, outcomes that produce a desired result even if the solution employed can’t produce a consistent, predictable outcome. A perfectly valid solution is one that produces a result that is shown, through the passage of time, to have been correct. It is best to have a system that incorporates both—validity and reliability—into their approach. Balancing and managing the two approaches—analytical and intuitive—is what design thinking is all about.

In The Design of Business, Roger Martin presents the knowledge funnel to show how knowledge moves. Each stage represents a simplification and ordering of knowledge. At the beginning is a mystery; a question. It is the observation of phenomena. Things we see but don’t yet understand. knowledge funnel

The next stage is a heuristic, “a rule of thumb that helps to narrow the field of inquiry and work the mystery down to a manageable size.” Heuristics don’t guarantee success but do increase the probability of success.

The last stage is the development of an algorithm. “An algorithm is an explicit, step-by-step procedure for solving a problem. Algorithms take the loose, unregimented heuristics—which take considerable thought and nuance to employ—and simplify, structuralize, and codify them to the degree that anyone with access to the algorithm can deploy it with more or less equal efficiency.”

Martin uses the example of the development of McDonalds to illustrate how they proceeded down the knowledge funnel. In 1940 the McDonald brothers opened their first drive-in restaurant in San Bernardino, California. It did well, but by 1950 they began to lose business. Food was getting cold before it was delivered and families were put off by the hoards of teenagers they attracted. They had to develop a winning heuristic. They reduced and standardized the menu, and implemented their Speedee Service System.

Ray Kroc saw an opportunity in it and bought them out. While the Speedee Service System was good, Kroc thought it left too much to chance. So he refined it and simplified it down to an exact science. The new system left nothing to chance and it was repeatable. “Kroc relentlessly stripped away uncertainty, ambiguity, and judgment from the processes that emerged from the McDonald brothers’ original insight. And by fine-tuning the formula, he powered McDonald’s from a modestly prosperous chain of burger restaurants to a scale previously undreamed-of.”

The problem is getting stuck in any one stage. We tend to operate within a knowledge stage as opposed to moving across the knowledge stages. We need to explore and question, we need to exploit our solutions, even reducing them to a repeatable, efficient, formula where possible, but we need to be doing these things simultaneously.
The vast majority of businesses follow a common path. The company is birthed through a creative act that converts a mystery to a heuristic through intuitive thinking. It then hones and refines that heuristic through increasingly pervasive analytical thinking and enters a long phase in which the administration of business dominates. And in due course, a competitor stares at the mystery that provided the spark for this company, comes up with a more powerful heuristic and supplants the original business.
McDonalds did well for decades, but eventually the heuristic (Americans want a quick, convenient, tasty meal) changed (Americans want a healthier menu). The solution for McDonalds is to go back and rethink the mystery and develop new rules of thumb to guide them. A trip back through the knowledge funnel.

design of business
Avoiding this cycle is the job of the leader—a leader at any level. Martin writes, “CEOs must learn to think of themselves as the organization’s balancing force—the promoter of both exploitation and exploration; of both administration and invention.” This is design thinking. We need to develop our design thinking skills, analyze what’s working and why, and at the same time revisit the original mystery while considering entirely new mysteries. “The design thinker develops the capacity for observation, for seeing features that others may miss. The design thinker, in the words of novelist Saul Bellow, is ‘a first-class noticer.’” Always cycling through the knowledge funnel.

Of Related Interest:
  How to Develop Integrative Thinking
  Roger Martin on Assertive Inquiry
  Integrative Thinking: The Opposable Mind

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:28 PM
| Comments (0) | Creativity & Innovation , Management , Problem Solving , Thinking


5 Leadership Lessons: Getting Your Leadership in Gear

5 Leadership Lessons

Rhett Laubach has written a book to help you get your leadership in gear. Leaders in Gear is filled with 37 practical behaviors, strategies and tactics to lead yourself and others and 22 ideas to improve your presentations.

1  The best way to have the strength, power and dedication to do all the little things to get and stay into Leader Gear is to put your focus on a greater purpose and mission….This “greater than me” perspective provides fuel when times get tough. Getting into Leader Gear is a daunting task. Staying there is even more demanding. Put and keep your focus on the greater cause, whatever that is for you. It could be your team, customers, core beliefs or faith.

2  Big performers don’t see themselves as big performers. They see themselves as growing performers. They are constantly getting better, learning, stretching, risking, pursuing and running. Big performers are in a never-ending battle with complacency.

3  Many people don’t grasp the concept of how to create genuine happiness because they are blinded by the hard work it requires and because many times it involves being entirely others-focused.
Leaders in Gear

4  Good time managers don’t have to cut corners to meet deadlines. They don’t have to skip breakfast, drive too fast, be short with people, under-deliver on a project, etc. The basic rules of successful living exist, are well-known and are achievable if you manage your time instead of letting your time manage you.

5  The Threshold Thread concept states that all high achievers have developed the ability to push their capabilities further than the average person. Their threshold for hard work is higher. Their patience threshold is longer. Their commitment threshold is stronger. Will Smith has been quoted as saying that the true secret to his success is an insane work ethic. He uses running as an example. If you were on a treadmill beside him he knows one thing for certain—you will get off first.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:48 PM
| Comments (0) | Five Lessons


John Wooden: It Takes a lot of Strength on the Inside to be Gentle on the Outside

I first met John Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010) in the early eighties when working on a presentation product for his pyramid of success. He truly was a legendary teacher who based his life on sound principles. As with nearly everyone he came into contact with, he had a positive influence. Not surprisingly, his Dad, Joshua Wooden, took the time to lay a firm foundation for him. Upon his graduation from Centerton Grade School, his Dad gave him a card with seven suggestions to follow:
  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Help others.
  3. Make each day your masterpiece
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Good Book.
  5. Make friendship a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter for a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings each day.
In his book, The Essential Wooden, John Wooden tells a story of his Dad’s leadership to illustrate the point that it takes a lot of strength on the inside to be gentle on the outside. It’s a good lesson for all of us:
Scattered around the farmland where I grew up in Centerton, Indiana, were gravel pits. The county would pay local farmers to take a team of mules or horses into a pit and haul out loads of gravel for use on Morgan County roads. Some of the pits were deeper than others, and it would be tough for a team to pull a wagon filled with gravel out through the wet sand and up a steep incline.

One steamy summer day a young farmer—20 years old or so—was trying to get his team of horses to pull a fully loaded wagon out of the pit. He was whipping and cursing those two beautiful plow horses that were frothing at the mouth, stomping, and pulling back from him.

Dad watched for a while and then went over and said to the farmer, “Let me take ‘em for you.” I think the farmer was relieved to hand over the reins.

First Dad started talking to the horses, almost whispering to them, and stroking their noses with a soft touch. Then he walked between them, holding their bridles and bits while he continued talking—very calmly and gently—as they settled down.

Gradually he stepped out in front of them and gave a little whistle to start them moving forward while he guided the reins. Within moments, those two big plow horses pulled the wagon out of the gravel pit as easy as could be. As if they were happy to do it.

No whip, no temper tantrum, no screaming and swearing by Dad. I’ve never forgotten what I saw him do and how he did it.

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of leaders act like that angry farmer who lost control and resorted to force and intimidation. Their results were often the same, that is, no results.

So much more can usually be accomplished with Dad’s calm, confident, and steady approach. For many of us, however, the temptation, our first instinct, is to act like the farmer—to use force rather than to apply strength in a measured and even gentle manner. Unfortunately, in my early years the former—force—was close in some respects to my own approach as a leader.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:50 PM
| Comments (0) | Leaders , Leadership


Are You Leading Creatively?

The new economy brings with it new demands. New ways of thinking. New ways of communicating. “The world is spinning faster,” said a Government CEO in Australia. “We need to keep pace.”

In the face of complexity and uncertainty, over 1500 CEOs interviewed in a study conducted by IBM, said that creativity was the leadership quality they valued most. Creativity: “the basis for “disruptive innovation and continuous re-invention”—new risks, new ideas, new ways of influencing and communicating. “Creative leaders invite disruptive innovation, encourage others to drop outdated approaches and take balanced risks. They are open-minded and inventive in expanding their management and communication styles, particularly to engage with a new generation of employees, partners and customers.” CEOs are looking or a significant shift. IBM’s Global Chief Executive Officer Study asks:
  • How will you develop the critical capabilities to enhance creativity among your leadership team?
  • In what ways can you explore, reward and globally integrate diverse and unconventional points of view?
  • What is your approach to challenge every element of your business model to get the most from currently untapped opportunities?
  • How will you leverage new communication styles, technologies and tools, both to lead a new generation of talent and encourage breakthrough thinking?

Of Related Interest:
  Building Teams that Capitalize on the Innate Creativity of Everyone on the Team
  Leading for Creativity
  Thinking Gray and Free
  Five Great Innovation Myths

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:46 AM
| Comments (0) | Creativity & Innovation


First Look: Leadership Books for June 2010

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

  Lead Like Ike: Ten Business Strategies from the CEO of D-Day by Geoff Loftus
  Work Your Strengths: A Scientific Process to Identify Your Skills and Match Them to the Best Career for You by Chuck Martin with Richard Guare and Peg Dawson
  The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win by David Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich
  Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
  Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Elizabeth Wiseman with Greg Mckeown

Lead Like Ike Work Your Strengths Why of Work Delivering Happiness Multipliers

For bulk orders call 1-800-423-8273

discounted books

Build your leadership library with these specials on over 160 titles. All titles are at least 40% off the list price and are available only in limited quantities.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 08:52 AM
| Comments (0) | Books



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