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09.30.13

LeadershipNow 140: September 2013 Compilation

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twitter Here are a selection of tweets from September 2013 that you might have missed:
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Posted by Michael McKinney at 12:38 AM
| Comments (0) | LeadershipNow 140

09.23.13

8 Ways to Have a Successful Partnership

Leading Forum
This is a post by August Turak, author of Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity

In a marketplace gone global, productive partnerships are more crucial than ever. Partnering has become so critical that the word "coopetition" had to be coined to describe companies that partner in some areas while competing in others. Yet very few partnerships ever deliver on their symbiotic promise. Why?

The single biggest mistake we make in our partnership efforts is treating potential partners as if they were end users. While the interests of partners and end-users must overlap they are seldom if ever identical. Through many years of business experience, I learned some great lessons on what it takes to produce a successful partnership.
  1. Know your customer. In every potential partnership there are actually two customers, the partner and the end-user, and we must know them both. If you think you can sell a partner by merely "demoing" your wonderful product you have not grasped this essential point.
  2. Ask questions. There is no substitute for grass roots research. Don't figure it out. Get out there and find out by talking to your partner's customers and sales force.
  3. Beware of Magic Bullets. Getting executives into a room and hammering out a contract doesn't make a deal. Every partnership is like moving a stubborn mule. Corporate may push from behind, but there must be boots on the ground pulling on the harness from the front as well. This means priming the pump through joint sales calls and other marketing efforts.
  4. Think Small. Whenever possible, use a roll out rather than a blanket launch into a distribution network. Every cleaning solvent recommends trying it first on some inconspicuous place, and this applies to joint ventures as well. Not only will we uncover potential hitches but managing the critical buzz is much easier. Always remember that people talk and that first impressions are critical to making a deal successful.
  5. Get the Buzz Working for You. Military science teaches us to focus scarce resources at the critical spot. With partners focus on one district, a couple of offices, or even a couple sales reps. Flood the zone with whatever it takes until a clear cut victory has been won. This approach produces a proven template for future roll outs, and positive word of mouth will mean the rest of the distribution network will be awaiting their turn with eager anticipation rather than sullen resistance.
  6. Rely on Persuasion Not Coercion. Always remember that a heavy handed "push" from corporate headquarters often backfires. If for example, a sullen sales force refuses to sell your product, it will be your product not the sales force that your partner will blame. Winning hearts and minds upfront among the rank and file is much more effective than relying on diktats and quotas from corporate.
  7. Find a Hero. When a deal struggles both partners play the blame game. One blames poor salesmanship while the other blames the product. The easiest way to sidestep this situation is to find people to play "hero" during the initial roll-out and focus on them. Once these early adopters are moving product, others will not be able to blame anyone but themselves for missing targets. Besides, watching peers make money is far more motivating than a month of training and pep talks.
  8. Do Most of the Work. One time Walmart went shopping for sunglasses. The vendor with the best sunglasses at the lowest price didn't get the lucrative partnership. Instead it was the vendor who arrived at the meeting with their sunglasses already tagged and bar-coded to Walmart's spec. The glasses were already mounted on display cases custom designed to take advantage of some unused space the vendor had ferreted out from a typical Walmart floor plan. And the vagaries of inventory management, pricing, and product placement had already been solved by the vendor as well.
Our partners are busy people, and the more of their work we are willing to shoulder the more value we add and the more control we have over how our product is eventually positioned. With some planning and thoughtful engagement, you will find more success through strategic partnerships.

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Trappist Monks
August Turak is a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive, award winning writer and author of Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO's Quest for Meaning and Authenticity. He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Selling Magazine, the New York Times, and Business Week, and is a popular leadership contributor at Forbes.com. His website is augustturak.com.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:41 PM
| Comments (0) | Leading Forum , Teamwork

09.16.13

Why We Need Strangers

Strangers
Part of the reason we get stuck and part of the reason we lack the feedback we need is that we are surrounded by the familiar. The familiar that continuously reminds us that we are doing the best we can and that we are doing it right. We are mired in the familiar when what we need is the strange.

We need strangers. “These strangers,” writes Alan Gregerman in The Necessity of Strangers, “whom we quickly choose to ignore or form an opinion about, are the people who force us out of our comfort zones and challenge us to question the knowledge, belief, and habits we hold dear.”

Gregerman asks, “What if strangers are actually, in many ways, more important than friends?” Interesting question.

There are two issues here. “First, most of us just don’t have enough friends or a diverse enough set of them to give us the breadth of insight and perspectives we need to continually stretch our thinking and to grow. And second, the exact reasons why we count on friends are the same reasons that their input may not be ideal for our efforts to stretch and grow.”

Maybe it’s not who you know but who you could know that will determine your success and growth.

While we tend to be adverse to outsider's thinking, our real aversions, says Gregerman, “should be to see our own thinking as the only way to move forward. The real trick is to “pick the right strangers with ties to what we hope to accomplish and then ask them the right questions.”

Gregerman suggests that 99% of all new ideas are based on an idea or practice that someone or something else has already had.

New employees are a great source of fresh ideas, but we tend to quickly shape them into the way we do things. “They arrive filled with different ideas and fresh perspectives based on a new and different set of work and life experiences—ideas, perspectives, and experiences that might actually make us more efficient, effective, innovative, customer-focused, and successful if we were willing to listen.”

If we don’t focus on the strange but instead focus on the different that we could tap into, we might grow in ways we never imagined. “Everyone matters. And that’s an idea that leaders must convey.”

Quote 
The Necessity of Strangers is an excellent analysis on why we need to seek out the new and different. Gregerman suggests ways we might do this on a daily basis. When it comes to hiring, collaboration, and managing, most organizations reward “group think” in the name of strengthening their culture. When in fact, the opposite is what unlocks potential and leads to breakthrough ideas.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:42 PM
| Comments (0) | Change , Creativity & Innovation , Human Resources , Leadership

09.10.13

What Keeps Leaders Up at Night?

Leadership
Gaps in what we know can trouble us for a time, but gaps in what we know about ourselves and others can truly keep us up at night. We are unpredictable, messy, complicated, illogical, and fallible. That will never change, “but through a commitment to self-awareness we can all become more highly attuned to the subtle and not-so-subtle red flags that sometimes pull us off course.”

What Keeps Leaders Up at Night? by Nicole Lipkin is a treatise on self-awareness and personal responsibility and the damaging effects a lack of those qualities has in our lives.

“You can’t change what’s already happened, but you can change what you do next.…I’ve learned that the solutions always begin with raising my self-awareness and helping others raise theirs.”

Using research personal examples, Lipkin tackles a number of issues:

I’m a Good Boss. So Why Do I Sometimes Act Like a Bad One? (You usually find three overarching reasons: too busy to win, too proud to see, and too afraid to lose. “Although most of us don’t like to admit it, we often get all wrapped up in our own ideas, not because we are idiots but because we are human. It’s natural to think our ideas best, especially when we’re the boss.”)

Why Don’t People Heed My Sage Advice? (If you focus on treating your people with kindness and respect, your influence will grow.)

Why Do I Lose My Cool in Hot Situations? (“Leaders who want to solve the problems that keep them up at night would be wise to begin with a through inventory of their stress personality.” Learn “how to negotiate your own reactions to the stress that inevitably occurs every day.”)

Why Does a Good Fight Sometimes Turn Bad? (The emotions underlying a good fight gone bad in the workplace often occur as a result of a dense of injustice, contention for resources or standing, or [I suspect most likely] feelings of inferiority.”)

Why Can Ambition Sabotage Success? (“The Julius Caesars of the world often end up failing because they pursue myopic success, a ‘nearsighted’ view that defines success in terms of self-interest. The Caesar Augustuses, on the other hand, pursue panoramic success, defining success in terms of the ‘big picture’ best interests of all.”)

Why Do People Resist Change? (“We find it amazingly easy to turn our backs on compelling reasons to change…Beginning in childhood, we tend to shed habits that don’t serve us well but hang on tightly to those habits that provide us comfort or safety. These persistent habits are able to endure even the most vicious assaults long past their expiration date.”)

Why Do Good Teams Go Bad? (“Few other aspects of organizational life pose greater challenges to a leader than the behavior of people in groups.” Groups are inevitable, and once we do join a group, some truly fascinating dynamics kick in as Lipkin explains.)

What Causes a Star to Fade? (The failure to engage people. “Engagement depends more than anything else on the sort of panoramic leadership Augustus practices throughout his tenure as Rome’s leader.”)

If things do start to go south, here are Three Simple Rules for getting back on track:

1. Seek Self-Awareness
2. Help Other Gain Self-Awareness
3. Remember we’re Only Human After All.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:56 PM
| Comments (0) | Personal Development

09.02.13

5 Leadership Lessons: It’s Already Inside You

5 Leadership Lessons
Robert Murray believes that everything you need to be a great leader is already inside you. “It’s in your DNA.” I also agree that many people graduating from our schools today do not have the ability to think critically. “Problem finders are everywhere,” writes Murray. “Innovative problem solvers are rare. Imagination and thinking outside the box is scarce.” It’s Already Inside (Kindle) is a collection of well-told personal stories with solid leadership lessons. Here are several of the lessons:

1  Never walk past corporate graffiti. It comes in all forms. From brand violations to messy office space, from inconsistent customer service to poor employee practices and procedures, and to leadership apathy. It’s your job as a leader to do everything within your power to ensure graffiti is removed immediately when it appears.

2  In leadership, you cannot successfully fly by the seat of your pants, or in other words, fake your way through every scenario you come across. You might every once in awhile; however, you cannot on a lasting basis. You need to develop some form of leadership flight simulator that you can immerse yourself in to design the best-case solutions to complex problems. This process will enable you to respond quickly and naturally when something happens and …without stress.

3  Survey each person in your business, from the janitor and those in the mailroom to the accountant and HR person. Ask them how their individual roles serve the customer, ask for their ideas to better serve the customer, and ask what they hear about the company on the street from customers. If they are clueless, meet with the employee individually to explain his or her role as salesperson [leader] for the company and to brainstorm ways to enhance it.

4  Windows and Mirrors. Your stock as a leader (and leadership stock is measured by how much people trust you and will follow you on a journey) goes up significantly when you practice two simple “leadership optics” habits. Look out the window when times are good and look in the mirror when things aren’t going so well.

Leadership
5  Do not make the mistake of thinking home is the place to go when you are tired of being nice to people. Home is NOT the place to go and vent about everything that frustrates you in your job. Home is NOT the place you go to continue working like a dog doing email and reports. Home, or your personal life, is the reason you go to work, because it is work that finances your personal life. Home is also the place that will be there for you long after the job. The job—the business, you as a leader—is just the means to an end—not the other way around. Understanding this valuable truth is not being disloyal to your organization or your entrepreneurial dreams; it is what will keep you balanced, healthy, and strong to be better at what you do!

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:47 PM
| Comments (0) | Five Lessons

09.01.13

First Look: Leadership Books for September 2013

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

  Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity by Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny
  The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business by Duff McDonald
  Beyond the Idea: How to Execute Innovation in Any Organization by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble
  Winning from Within: A Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living, and Lasting Change by Erica Ariel Fox
  Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

Thinking in New Boxes McKinsey Beyond the Idea Winning from Within Die Empty

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“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”
— A C Grayling


Posted by Michael McKinney at 10:41 AM
| Comments (0) | Books



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