November 14, 2018

Gaining Loyal Customer By Building a Strong Leadership Brand

Cover of "Leadership Brand: Developing Cu...

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LEADERSHIP BRANDING:     When you read this term, do you really know what it means?  I really did not know until the year 2008, when I read the book Leadership Brand by Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood.  Because I had not heard of the term until then, it made me scratch my head and wonder if others found the term to be something they had not yet heard about.

So, I went out and polled a few business leaders, simply asked them to fill out a form based on what they knew, and many even admitted they did not know what the term really meant…but they took a stab at the questions I asked anyway.

We talk everyday about branding our “company” and making sure that our marketing collateral matches the “company brand”.  But what would be different if you branded your company through the eyes of your leadership brand?  My hunch is that it would be much tougher, and here is why:

When you build a brand based on true, enduring leadership, each person in the company not only speaks about the brand and and the promises you make to your customers in your marketing strategies, but each person in your company truly lives those promises every day in both their personal and professional lives, and that can be tough.   Because of the internet, blogging and social networking sites, every person and every company is now under a microscope and is scrutinized right and left for their actions on the inside not being consistent with the words they speak on television and in other advertising messages.  Leaders come and go everyday but strong, solid, committed and consistent leadership can help your company deliver strong bottom line results over and over again, making for happy, loyal customers.  When you ask for a commitment from everyone in your company to “live integrity 100%” or to “live innovation 100%” or to “give 110% to living customer service”, you are asking for a big commitment.  At the end of the day, it is better to ask everyone in your company to live it than to have your actions fighting against the words you speak to the world.

I have printed the answers from 14 business leaders below about the questions surrounding leadership branding.  And, if you want to know more, I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of the book Leadership Brand:  Developing Customer-Focused Leaders to Drive Performance and Build Lasting Value by Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood.

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Name   Peg Donahue

Website   http://www.fengshuiconnections.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

For me this relates to one’s personal style and authenticity. Each of us leads based on our beliefs, experiences and perspective. I believe it is important to be genuine and lead from your heart. It is also important to “walk your talk” and be a good example for others.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Integrity

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?

  • Bring integrity to all I do.
  • Regularly publish “thought leadership” articles and blog posts that demonstrate integrity.
  • Actively include integrity as a value in my consulting and teaching practices.

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Name   Val Boyko

Website   http://www.motherwhisperers.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

The personal brand of a leader.  How someone is seen or perceived as a leader.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Understanding Others

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above

  • Using the word understanding in my message to people and reassuring my audience that they are not alone.
  • Sharing this message as part of my vision or mission statement
  • Telling stories that show my understanding of others
  • Using empathy in my conversations to show I understand the other person.
  • Embodying this value in how I relate to others. Making it a living practice. “Be the change I wish to see in the world”. Gandhi

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Name   Jeannette Paladino

Website   http://writespeaksell.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

A brand is what an organization or individual wishes to be known for. Defining your brand establishes the direction, leadership, clarity of purpose and inspiration for the organization’s missi

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  •  Strategic Thinking

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?

In recent years I have re-branded myself as a business writer. But there is much more to writing than putting words on paper. It is understanding the client’s brand and taking a strategic look at what the company stands for and the key messages to be communicated to its target audiences. The specific steps would be to discuss how the company perceives itself, which is an inside-out-process: exploring what differentiates the individual or company from other companies offering similar services. I’ve just had conversations with two companies about this very topic and it is like unwrapping a present and discovering something wonderful inside — your brand essence. The branding and words flow from that.

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Name   Sue Porter

Website   http://www.AccidentalLeader.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

“Leadership Branding” is the way in which you have distinguished yourself as a leader. It reveals specific positive aspects of one’s influence. When people hear a particular name, they know what that leader stands for. Conversely, branding can also uncover a poor leader, but I prefer to describe positive branding. With this in mind, a leadership brand evokes feelings and thoughts of confidence, vision and wisdom. More importantly it should elicit a “knowing” ; knowing specifically how you and others will be treated. To develop a strong leadership brand encompasses values-driven behavior that gives people a desire to take notice and follow. Think of Seth Godin and you think “marketing guru, preeminent “out of the box” thought leader”; Dr. John C. Maxwell is synonymous with developing leaders and level 5 leadership; and, Marshall Goldsmith incites th oughts of servant leadership and equipping materials relevant for companies coaches, corporations, leaders and entrepreneurs. I don’t think most people realize that all they say, do, and live as a leader brands them. They not only should, but ought to strategically develop their leadership brand, monitoring it regularly.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  •  Developing Others

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above

I would implement a training program, using both a SWOT and a needs analysis that would uncover their skills, abilities, personality, strengths, weaknesses, motivations and past training. Utilizing coaching, together we would then develop a strategic growth plan where they would set goals and make an action plan that would not only met their needs, but as much as possible be in alignment with our company mission and vision. I would then provide ongoing coaching, support, and motivation to individually assist them in reaching their goal.

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Name   Dr. Jackie Black

Website   http://www.DrJackieBlack.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you

According to australian translation services, a brand is like a tattoo on the minds of my target market. When anyone in my target market thinks about me or my company I want them to instantly associate certain attributes or leadership skills or qualities to me, my business and the value/benefits they will receive from doing business with me

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Approachability

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?   I would insure that the photo I use for business purposes makes me look approachable, and if I decide to use a landscape I could use the best 360 camera 2017 for presenting a wider picture; that the language on my web sites, blogs, sales/splash/squeeze pages, ect, and in all collateral materials makes me sound approachable; and that from the first contact with the media and with prospective clients through every contact with the media and long-term clients I demonstrate with words, behavior and company policies and procedures how approachable I am. I would train all employees, direct reports and independent contractors alike, how to speak about me and on my behalf with the public and vendors in ways and with language that clearly demonstrate how approachable I am.

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Name   Leah Grace

Website http://www.evolvesuccess.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

Leadership brand means to me understanding who you are as a leader. We all have strengths and gifts that are uniquely ours, when we know what they are and own them, this is when our leadership brand and success is born

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Courage
  • Planning

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?
A huge part of owning your leadership brand is getting real about who you are. For many leaders, showing up as the true-self will be one of the most scary yet powerful processes they will experience in their lifetime. Putting yourself out there in a powerful way, will take a large dose of courage. It is the tendency to skirt around what we really have to offer. Courage is a process. Like a muscle courage grows and strengthens all of the time and growing our courage muscles is not always comfortable. One of the biggest reasons people don’t reach their biggest dreams is because they do not set themselves up for success in this journey of development. This is where the planning comes in. Being a successful leader is not something we are born with, it is something that we stretch towards each and every day.

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Name   Frank Faeth

Website   http://www.faethconsulting.com 

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to

Several things: 1) Well-respected product/service of high quality, consistency, and dependability; 2) Creates a product/service worth considering, aside from price; 3) Provides a product/service not quite like any other — distinctive for what it is; and 4) A product/service I’m not embarrassed to say I purchase/useIf you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Business Acumen
  • Compassion
  • Customer Focus
  • Ethics and Values
  • Integrity

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?

  1. Approach every project with the highest integrity and deliver an incomparable end product;
  2. Be honest and open with my clients and their stakeholders;
  3. Be someone others would unhesitatingly recommend; and
  4. Demonstrate that I know more about my subject area than my competitors through my words and actions.

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Name   Dolores Hagen

Website   http://www.sixtyandsensational.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

I’m not sure I know exactly what that means. I’d say that means the perception of how others see you.

 If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  •  Developing Others

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?

At the end of each coaching session I would ask these questions:

1. In what way did our session today help you?
2. Would you be willing to send me comments on how today’s session helped you in writing through an email?

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Name   Arlene Kahn

Website   http://www.arlenekahntherapy.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you

My first thought is that it means a style of leadership or a kind of leadership like a brand of spaghetti sauce that includes certain things.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Innovation

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?

1. Learning about new ideas in the field, in this case the field of Psychology.

2. Combining important traditional approaches along with the new. For example:

  • Forming a support group based on traditional ideas of “Attachment” along with newer information about the brain in that area.
  • Using blogs, art, writing, and other creatuve and innovative approaches to mental health, of course physical health is also important, as a good weight and healthy joints with supplements from healthyusa, also a good skin so if you want to maintain a clean skin or just sweat less the iontophoresis machines are just perfect for it. Clinicians should be aware that there are many fluoride varnishes on the market. They may not be licensed for caries control, although they may have similar formulations, and this should be taken into consideration with respect to prescriber’s responsibilities buy you can buy colgate duraphat and other prescription drugs at https://www.ukmeds.co.uk/treatments/dental/colgate-duraphat-2800/ legally.
  • Instituting a Community Focusing Night, free of charge.
  • Creating a business structure that supports these efforts.

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Name   Shoya Zichy

Website   http://www.ColorQPersonalities.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

Defining the unique qualities that differentiate you from other leaders

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Action Oriented
  • Creativity
  • Developing Others
  • Humor
  • Listening
  • Understanding Other

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?   Create marketing materials, presentations and intellectual property that demonstrate those qualities.

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Name:   Laura Schlafly

Website:   http://www.careerchoiceswithlaura.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?   I have never heard of this term before. If I had to take a stab at it I’d say that it means “how one has labelled themselves, or been labelled in terms of their leadership style”.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Approachability

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?   company name would look/sound approachable:

  • My photos would elicit approach-ability
  • My contact information would be readily available
  • I would offer an easy, low cost or free way to get to know me before engaging formally
  • I would be out in the public eye, networking and volunteering

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Name:   Alice Dendinger

Websitehttp://www.gotoalice.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

Everyone has a personal brand – it is what others think of when they think of you. When I hear the term “leadership brand” – it means that it is a thought or perception assigned to someone based on how they “show up.” Does the individual speak about big picture, vision, systems impact, alignment of people and resources and getting results. Or are they worried about what is “in the weeds” and issues that are short sighted. People who are branded as a leader take a 30,000 foot view as opposed to ground level.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Action Oriented
  • Approachability
  • Command Skills
  • Composure
  • Courage
  • Delegation
  • Developing Others
  • Ethics and Values
  • Informing
  • Listening
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Understanding Others

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?   I would take a look at what I must accomplish and focus on the more elevated level and outsource the weed work.

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Name   Deborah Frey

Website   http://freyworks.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

A “Leadership brand” is a compelling identifier designed to accurately describe and promote our distinguishing, valuable, unique talents and abilities to create a shared vision, to collaborate with, guide and empower others for success.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Developing Others

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked above?

  • Engage with the client to identify and describe their unique critical issues.
  • Collaborate with the client to design goal plans.
  • Provide tools to identify natural talents, interpersonal style, communication preferences, and clarify personal and professional values.
  • Provide a structured, pragmatic, open-ended development process that is aligned with the client’s unique attributes to ultimately fully engage their potential, and dramatically improve their odds for success.
  • Implement follow-up success platform tools and support for sustainable results.

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Name   Cheri Ruskus

Website   http://victorycircles.com

When you hear the term “leadership brand”, what does this mean to you?

Because leadership comes in many shapes and sizes my thought is that leadership brand means honing into your own particular leadership style. Insuring that as you put your leadership skills out there into the world that these particular attributes are shown consistently and accurately.

If you were to define a leadership brand for yourself or for your company, which leadership quality below would you use to build your leadership brand?

  • Action Oriented
  • Approachability
  • Business Acumen
  • Compassion
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Customer Focus
  • Developing Others
  • Ethics and Values
  • Humor
  • Innovation
  • Listening
  • Perseverance
  • Planning
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Understanding Others

 

Based on the leadership skill you chose above, what steps would you implement so that your customers would actually describe you in a way that aligns with the leadership skill you checked abov

  • As you can see I found it impossible to pick just one – there are just too many important ones to not use them all.
  • To be cognizant  that these skills are filtered throughout the work we do.
  • Develop programs that insure these elements continuously get implemented with our team members and clients.

All are great answers.  If you believe that you or your company can benefit from starting the process of designing a strong leadership brand, contact me today to schedule a time to brainstorm for a few minutes.  While using this approach can take a bit of time, the best time to begin is now!

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The 5 Things Leaders Hate to Do that Stop them From Being Great

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade, you probably have heard all about the book Good to Great by Jim Collins.  In the book, Collins discusses the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great, and much of this process has to do with the leadership skills of the people at the top.

I have had the honor of coaching over 1000 business leaders in the last ten years, and while I do agree with Collins on the points he makes about great leaders and great companies, I have learned through the years that there are five things that most leaders hate to do.  As a result, they push these five to the back burner, and allow the simmering process to burn the team and/or company down…a slow and painful death for everyone, including the leader.  I am writing this post today, because I don’t want you to become one of those leaders who becomes a “has been” in the next 1-3 years and has a California wrongful death case in the process.

So, here we go:  The 5 Things Leaders Hate to Do that Stop them From Being Great:

1.  Being open to coaching, hiring a coach and working with a coach.  I don’t care how great you are, if you are a human being, you need a coach.  I am not saying that you need me (yet that would be great if we are a good fit), but if you are a leader at the top of your game, a great coach can help you go even further, stretch even more, build a more effective team and hire the best talent in the world.  For some reason, leaders think hiring a coach means they must be problematic or broken.  It is truly just the opposite.  As a leader, if you are a big thinker, you will understand quickly that an objective opinion and support from someone outside of your company can offer you new perspectives, new insights into your role as a leader.  A coach can also help you leverage your strengths, identify your weaknesses and learn how to leverage both to create new opportunities for yourself and your team.

2.  Addressing conflict.  Many leaders believe if they just ignore a conflict, it will magically go away or die on the vine.  Conflict breeds contempt, and if you are a strong leader, you will find yourself addressing some type of conflict on a weekly basis.  The goal is to strike while the iron is hot and to learn how to address conflict effectively.  I highly recommend the book Crucial Confrontations for this purpose.  It is hard to speak to others about a conflict or to “confront” others.  Rather than using the word “confront”, I recommend using the term “Critical Conversation”.   By using this language, the conversation becomes “mission critical”, and you are compelled to address the problem right upfront.

3.  Taking personal responsibility for company problems.  The issues with Enron, 9/11, bad loans and Bernie Madoff marked the end of leaders being above the law and the beginning of personal responsibility.  At the end of the day, as a leader, your company and team is not about you.  It is about your employees and customers.  It is absolutely critical that you take personal responsibility for failures in your company and that you speak about them to the public.  While there may be others who fell short of their responsibilities, at the end of the day, as the top person in the company, there is something you did that helped contribute to the problem.  You have have:

  • Hired the wrong person
  • Withdrawn yourself from over the top communication
  • Micromanaged too much OR isolated yourself too much

Each time a problem happens in your company, it is important to sit quietly and figure out what role you played in the process.  If you dig deep enough, you will find it.  Once you find it, it is then time to speak to your employees and customers about the issue, where you went wrong and what you are going to do about it.

4.  Dedicating yourself to ongoing learning and development.  This goes a bit back to the first point about hiring a coach.  You may be the top dog, but everyone has something new to learn.  Leaders often send their employees to training and development events, but they never put learning and development on their own calendar.  If you want to be great, you will be dedicated to lifelong learning and always looking at new ways to expand your depth and breadth of knowledge.  Learning and development opportunities are always available in your own industry, but I would like to stretch you to think about learning opportunities outside of your own industry.  This could be in the area of technology, social networking or the arts.  Finding creative ways to use information outside of your own industry is a characteristic of someone who is willing to think way out there on the bleeding edge, and we need this in our leaders of today.

5.  Speaking less…leaving a few things unsaid.  Many leaders talk way too much.  They think they know all the answers, and leave very little opportunities for their teams to come up with answers and find their own way.  Deep listening is a critical skill all leaders need in their toolkit, and just as important is the ability to empower others to speak and act.  While you may have all of the answers, your team will step up and bring your answers to the table, but only if you empower them to do it.  While it may take a bit more time for your team to figure out the best solution to problems or to find their way through a maze, they will exercise their strategic thinking and problem solving skills, but only if you back off.

If you are a leader, congratulations and thank you for all that you do for your followers, companies, cities, schools and government.  If I can be of support in any way by offering you a bit of leadership coaching to help you move from being a good leader to a great one, contact me at 910.692.6118.

 

NEW VIDEOS: Is The Media Ignoring Ron Paul? Piers Morgan and Jon Stewart Weigh In

Ron Paul, member of the United States House of...

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I have to admit that I am a bit biased on the subject of Congressman Ron Paul, as my daughter Ann is working on his Presidential campaign. I honestly did not know much about Paul until this past year, and the more I listen to him, the more sense he seems to make. He believes in getting back to what our founding fathers wanted in the first place…liberty and freedom.

But, I just have to put this out on my blog today, as it has been so blatantly apparent that the media is just totally ignoring Ron Paul in this campaign. He almost tied Michelle Bachmann in the Iowa Caucus, yet everyone is just ignoring this…as if Dr. Paul does not exist. There is all sorts of talk about Bachmann and Perry and a lot of coverage on Pawlenty pulling out of the race, yet very few people are saying much about Ron Paul. It makes me wonder (based on the below interview) if the media might be afraid to bring Paul into the spotlight, because gosh…he might just be the person who could help turn our situation around. Last night, Piers Morgan interviewed Paul and was quite direct in asking the long term Congressman why no one is talking about him? Watch this video of the interview:

And, here you have the outcome of the Iowa Caucus:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now…watch how Jon Stewart sums all up. Really right on point and very funny!~

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5 Ways to Identify Your Next Generation Leaders and How to Train Them Up

Gen Y PictureAs many of you are aware, our world is at a critical point in history. Many studies are estimating that in the next 10-12 years, approximately 45-50% of the workforce in the United States alone will be gone, and most of the workers are from the Baby Boomer generation. They will be leaving in droves in leadership roles in business, education, government, the medical field and the world of non profits.

Many people argue that Generation X will fill these leadership roles and that all will be fine. Well…if you do the math, you will find our three main demographics in our world today include these numbers:

Baby Boomers: Approximately 70 million
Generation X: Approximately 45 million
Generation Y: Approximately 80 million

If you look at these figures, it is obvious that once the Baby  Boomer Generation is out of the workforce, we are most definitely going to have a shortage of leadership talent.

I speak with young men and women under the age of 30 every day, and many tell me that they have been thrust into early leadership positions without any training, coaching or shadowing. They show up for work and hear “Hey…Margaret…Bob’s last day is tomorrow, so you are stepping into his role.” While the names in this statement are fictional, the scenario is not. Because of their knowledge, talent and confidence, members of the Gen Y demographic are being pulled into leadership roles at ages 24-29, and they are saying they are not ready…that they need training, shadowing and coaching. So, my question is this “If you are not acting now to get your Gen Y careerists trained for top leadership positions today, then when are you going to do it?” My opinion is this: If you are planning on waiting and just letting the cards fall where they may, your company will either suffer or your doors will unfortunately close.

So, today, I want to share with you five characteristics that I believe will be critical for your next gen leaders to have ingrained in their DNA and five steps you can take, starting today, to get your young careerists ready for the highest level positions in your company. And, no, I am not foolish on this one topic…I am talking about getting your young workers ready for positions like CEO, COO, Senators, Hospital Administrators and Superintendents of Schools.

The 5 traits of your next generation leaders:

1.  An eagerness to both coach and be coached. Businesses are now moving into a coaching mode as opposed to an advice-giving or consulting mode.  If you notice a young careerist who is open to being coached and then willing to coach other co-workers, peers and even bosses in the direction of success, you have a potential leader in your midst.

2. An innovative spirit and creative experimenter who inspires others to act. I truly believe that the leaders and companies who can innovate like mad will using new media and the technology we have at our fingertips will be the ones who survive in the future.  If you spot a creative thinker who can also map out the strategy from start to finish of how to get a new product or service to the market, I recommend looking closely at this potential future leader.

3.  A global collaborator who engages creative talent to produce positive results for your company. Because of new media and of course the internet, we can now collaborate on a global level.  A true next generation leader will surround herself with talented people who can gather together for quick collaboration sessions.  (Note:  Be cautious of someone who wants to collaborate for hours and hours…red flag!)  The best collaborators are those who can guide collaboration, take command, make quick decisions while mitigating risk and who is agile and flexible enough to move and bend with the collaborative process without dragging it out.

4.  A young leader who has demonstrated shared leadership and self directed leadership. The old school hierarchical style of leadership is quickly fading away.  Our next generation leaders are turned off by climbing the ladder, being excluded from decision making and having to wait until a question slowly crawls up the ladder to the top so that it can be answered.  Generation Y is craving shared leadership, and they naturally lead with a self directed form of leadership. If you spot a young careerist who is willing to step aside and bring forward another leader who has a better grasp, ideas and input on a project, then you have yourself a great candidate for more training.  While the buck will ultimately stop with this leader, a form of shared, self directed leadership gives other young careerists a voice, respect, credibility and a host of other skills which will build confidence and a create a bigger pool of potential leaders.

5.  Strong networking and strategic alliance building skills. Companies of today and tomorrow cannot survive without alliances with other companies.  I have watched and watched this for the last ten years.  The companies who “hide” what they are doing, who don’t want to share with others and who see building alliances as a threat are either now closed or in jeopardy of falling off a cliff.  Your strong future leaders should be networking maniacs and constantly scanning the global environment for companies who can make your business stronger, more visible and more credible.

How to train your next generation leaders so that they can step up and step into high level leadership roles

1.  Study your under 30 employees closely for at least three months so that you can spot the above five characteristics. Remember…some people just have a bad day now and then, so look at the overall picture and don’t dwell on the few bad days…we all have them!

2.  Once you have spotted the employees you believe are potential candidates for leadership roles, perform a full 360 degree feedback review on your potential candidates. Make sure to include questions which address the above five traits.  You will want to gather feedback from co-workers, bosses, friends, former co-workers and family members to see how they view your potential candidates.

3.  Choose your potential leadership candidates and hire an experienced executive coach to work with your high potentials for at least six months. Ask your potential candidates if they will agree to a final debrief with the executive coach to determine coachability.

4. Assign a tough project to your potential candidate to observe how she handles leadership under pressure.  Once again, you are looking for the above traits as well as the obvious skills such as staying cool under pressure, time management, delegation and command.

5.  Design a structured shadowing program for your potential leadership candidates. You will want your candidates to shadow your strongest senior leaders and then flip the situation.  Ask your strongest older leaders to shadow the potential candidate for at least one month to get feedback about how they really act on the job.  If you have a strong future leader, she will be able to stay cool and calm when being followed around all day by a higher management leader on your team.

5 Steps for Improving Accountability on Your Team

When is John going to get me that report?”

“What is going on with the marketing report? When are they going to finish that thing?”

“I can’t believe Mary is so late in making those phone calls.”

“Okay…who dropped the ball this time?”

“Hey…that’s not MY job.”

Does this sound familiar? If so, your small business team may be faced with a big challenge with accountability, which results in finger pointing, frustration and broken trust…both with your employees and your customers. Personal responsibility and accountability can put an end to the blame game, saving your business thousands if not millions of dollars by increasing productivity and overall job satisfaction, which results in very satisfied customers. These five basic approaches can support you in increasing accountability, which are simple, yet they require actually building a culture of accountability for your business.

1. Communicate the big pictureAccountability stands a better chance of succeeding if everyone in your business embraces a larger responsibility for the success of the entire company. Spend time talking individually with team members about how his or her project affects the vision and mission of the business. With this communication, people can make wiser decisions from the context of the “big picture” rather than from the perspective of what may seem to be a detailed and boring task.

2. State clear expectations- If one person on your team does not meet your expectations, the entire team can fail. It is important from the very beginning of any new project to state the expectations clearly and repeat them over and over again until your team really “gets it.” These expectations need to be crystal clear, including dates, who is responsible for what, the details of the task and how you want the finished product delivered. If your expectations are fuzzy or confusing in any way, your team can break down, and the fine and very important details can fall through the cracks.

3. Accountability work groups-One of the best ways to achieve accountability is to develop shared accountability among team members. Accountability within the team can be accomplished by what Morris R. Shechtman calls “accountability groups,” groups which give team members the permission to speak and listen in a way which is frank and open. This accountability group can include 2-5 people and can then serve as a small unit of people working together to confide in with struggles, weaknesses and insecurities. They can then find creative strategies to work together in the direction of the growth the team intends to achieve.

4. Move to action-In order for accountability to work, people have to know that failure of completion will come with certain consequences, including written warnings, loss of a bonus or extra hours served on a week-end to complete the project on the table. Without consequences, your employees won’t take you seriously. They will think that they can use blame, justification and rationalization as a way to deviate from being responsible, because you have not followed through on what you said you will do if the tasks are not achieved.

5. Reward and recognition program-Employees need to know in a tangible way their efforts are indeed driving the company forward, and it is important for them to share in the fruits of their hard work. The offer of increased pay and benefits (vacations, time off and other perks) can keep accountability and morale high and can motivate employees to continue to strive for high levels of performance.

3 Articles to Assist You in Recruiting and Retaining Knowledge Workers

The 7 Critical Mistakes Most Leaders Make When Leading Knowledge Workers—And How You Can Avoid Them

Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably know that we are no longer living in the Industrial Age. You remember that era…a time where machines and things were the drivers of our economy and people were there to simply “run and churn” those machines.  Machines, things and people were replaceable.  It did not take a brain surgeon to run machines.  It just took an able body who acted like a robot to turn on a machine, run the machine or work an assembly line.

Well, here we are today…the year 2011, and while some companies have truly “gotten” that we are now in the era of the knowledge worker, many modern day companies are still trying to lead based on the rules of the Industrial Revolution.

Those rules included:

  1. Start at the bottom, working on the assembly line or in the mail room and hope you work your way up to the top (a hierarchical form of leadership was the norm).
  2. Pay your dues for 20 years and then ask for a promotion.  You may get it or you may not.
  3. Don’t rock the boat!  We have about five people who are making decisions, and you will do as we say, and you ARE replaceable.
  4. No feedback meant all was okay, and then suddenly, a worker was called in and handed a pink slip for “not supporting the way we do things…we are a hierarchy, and you are trying to fight that!”
  5. People were treated like commodities…disposable commodities, so trust was not par for the course.
  6. Command and control styles were encouraged.
  7. Just be quiet about what you have seen and know, and do your job, and you will be just fine.
  8. Passion, purpose and voice were “too touchy/feely” so they were never discussed.
  9. The worth of a person was measured by the number of hours they put in and how quickly and effectively  they could run a machine or assemble a product
  10. The more hours your worked, the more loyal you were, the more valuable you were to the company.

I could go on and on about the rules of the Industrial Age.  My point to you is that the above set of rules is  outdated and not in sync with today’s knowledge worker.  Information, creativity and brain power are now our most valuable assets, yet companies are not leading based on this idea.  The following will spell out the 7 most common mistakes I see leaders make with today’s knowledge worker and how you can not only avoid them but shift your strategies so that you get the most out of your knowledge workers.

1.     Discouraging knowledge workers to find and then use their own voice. The new employee wants to know that they can be truly authentic in your organization and be able to bring their own unique voice to your company.  Giving your knowledge workers permission to speak up and to use their own voice will inspire them to actually contribute new ideas and strategies to help your company thrive.

2.     Not offering current, up to date training. Today’s knowledge worker was raised on a diet of knowledge, and they actually crave more knowledge.  Because of the internet, the knowledge worker knows that at any hour of the day, they can go online and find more new information.  Offering training in a second language, leadership or managerial skills or marketing and sales skills and delivering this training using digital media and shadowing will hold the attention of the knowledge worker and will actually help the knowledge worker build out their skill set for a stronger career down the road.

3.     Training the knowledge worker using old classroom-style training methodologies. The Industrial Revolution brought the world a lecture/chalkboard/classroom format, and it worked.  But times have changed.  We now have the internet, social media sites, cell phones with texting and internet capability and digital mechanisms to enhance learning.  It is critical to understand that the knowledge worker of today often comes to the workforce with an environment induced form of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  This is not to suggest that the new knowledge worker has ADD, but the majority of young men and women between the ages of 22-32 will admit that because of their use of social media, cell phones and instant messaging (and using them all at the same time), their brains have been trained to focus for a short period of time and then flip to a new thought or activity and that this occurs hundreds of times each day.  By using new media, shadowing and experiential training, you will be able to grab and hold the attention of the knowledge worker much better and for longer periods of time than in using the classroom/lecture/power point method of training.

4.     Excluding the knowledge worker from team decisions. This is one area that is a constant concern with the knowledge worker.  They feel that their opinions, ideas and contributions are not valued, so they are deliberately excluded from strategic meetings which could be enhanced by their contributions.  The new knowledge worker wants to know that they are helping the companies they serve be better, “make a difference”, be more profitable or help to conjure up the next big idea that will put your company on the map.  At the end of the day, the new knowledge worker needs to be invited to sit at the table senior leaders, and it is critical that you take their ideas, suggestions and contributions seriously.  These men and women will be your future leaders, and it is imperative that you show them that their minds and ideas do count and you want them in on your most critical discussions.

5.     Treating the knowledge worker like a disposable commodity. If you are a leader, and you are seeing your knowledge worker as a commodity to use for a short period of time and then send them out the door, you are not only doing a disservice to your employees, you are building a brand that says you value things more than people.  This attitude simply won’t fly in today’s world.  Consumers are watching companies more and more to see if they can spot that you have a high level of emotional intelligence, and your knowledge workers will be the first to know if you are “using” them just to drain their brains and then send them packing.  The knowledge worker wants to be treated as a valued member of your team…a human being and not a machine or a thing.

6.     Trying to inspire the knowledge worker by offering more money. This is probably one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a leader or manager of the knowledge worker.  Young hires between the ages of 22-32 truly have a different set of values than those of their parents.   While they all agree that they do need enough money to be able to live, they truly value time over money, friends over big titles and promotions and opportunities for ongoing learning over getting paid overtime.  When trying to inspire the knowledge worker, offering them two hours off on Friday to spend time with friends, to contribute back to the community or to take an extra course at a nearby location will be much more valuable than offering them a few extra bucks to work harder and longer hours.  This demographic of workers have watched their parents work their fingers to the bone just to keep up with the Joneses, and then watched as their parents were downsized, laid off or fired.   To work longer hours just to please the boss and make overtime pay is not the carrot you will want to dangle under the nose of the knowledge worker, but time off or extra learning will have the knowledge worker’s mouth watering.

7. Discouraging dreams and passions. In my experiences, I have been quite saddened to see leaders throw water on a burning passion of the new knowledge worker.  The new worker of today will come to your organization with big ideas, dreams and passions, and these should be encouraged, cultivated and woven into the decision making for your company.  If the knowledge worker feels that her dreams are being supported, she will stick around your company much longer than if she is told to “be realistic” and just put that dream on hold.

At the end of the day, a leadership process where senior leaders are communicating the worth, potential and possibilities to their new knowledge workers, the future for your company can be bright and limitless.

The 5 Reasons Why I Believe Scott McCreery Won American Idol

The front page of the Raleigh News and Observer for today reads in big, bold letters SCOTTY WINS!  The photo to the right was just below the announcement

It is no secret in my family and public network that I am an Americn Idol fanatic.  I have been glued to the action for the last three months just to watch and see what would unfold.  The show is a coach’s dream…to watch an average performer become a superstar over a 12 week period by learning from mistakes, being open to feedback and then practicing like mad to get better and better every week in hopes of making it to the finals and becoming the next American Idol.  As Randy Jackson said “Scotty’s in it to win it!”  And Randy was right.

I initially though that Casey Abrams would win, but when he was voted off, I began to watch Scotty much more closely.  Here was this 17 year old kid whose low bass or baritone voice sounded like a 35 year old and who had that old country charm we just don’t see in the music industry these days.  About three weeks ago, I knew that McCreery was going to win…the week he and Lady Gaga met.  Two polar opposites trying to work together, and Scotty was so open and funny, considering his strong religious background and Gaga’s edgy approach.  Just watch this video to see the contrast and how this young man handled all:

So…if you are a leader, and if you are struggling…pay attention to Scott McCreery and the characteristics which I saw come out onto the stage in front of millions over the last 12 weeks.

1.  Poise. This kid was unflappable.  You throw Lady Gaga, Elton John, the Beatles, you name it, and he could take the genre, make it his own and then lay it out in spades in front of thousands of people.

2. Authenticity. Scotty made it clear from the very beginning that he was just an “aw schucks” 17 year old kid from Garner, NC who loved the old country classics, was going to stick to his genre and was not shy about letting people know about his Christian background.    Not one time did he try to veer out of his old time country lane, and I found this so refreshing.  He knows who he is, and he stuck to his guns come hell or high water.  He is going to be so successful in Nashville.  I am looking forward to watching him soar to the top.

3. Coachability. Each week, Scotty received feedback.  The majority was great feedback, but when the bad times came, he just stood there with that grin of his, shaking his head, saying “Yes Sir” or “Yes Maam”.  One of the reasons I think Haley Reinhart left early had a LOT to do with her attitude.  Her defensiveness with the judges and her eye rolling when she was voted off proved that she is just not coachable.  You cannot make it in business, sports or in the music industry if you cannot take feedback when it’s dished out.

4. Connection. McCreery was a connector.  He made the audience and the viewers at home feel like we are all the same.  Again…let me remind you, he is 17, a country classics singer who went to school in Garner, NC and worked part time at Lowes Grocery Store.  He just kept his cool, connected with the audience and had a blast on stage.  His likability factor was HUGE, which is so important in leadership.  I will also say that Scotty’s commitment to the old country classics probably made him not so likable in the hard rock, metal, hip hop pockets of the world.  But, all you had to do was to look at him and listen to him to get that he was a good kid.

5. A Strong Sense of the Importance of Family and Community. If you noticed, last night, as Scotty was crowned the new American Idol, who did he go to first…his family and friends who got him there.  That was so much more important to him than standing on the stage as the glitter and confetti fell on him.  I don’t recall this ever happening.  If you are a leader, it is critical to understand that your employees have family, friends and communities they care about.  To bring that into the workforce is going to be a critical component of success for our future workers.  So, just bear this in mind the next time you ask your workers to give 60 hours a week.  You are taking them away from their families and communities, and these people need your top talent.

I am from North Carolina, so I am proud of Scott McCreery.  But his North Carolina roots had very little to do with why I think he won.  If you did not watch the show, I would encourage you to go back and watch a few of Scotty’s performances and study them from a position of leadership and the skills he has taught us all over the last 3 months.  Big congrats to Scotty McCreery!

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Leadership Coaching Demonstration: How to Address Interruptions

I had the opportunity to coach Eric Cook (right)  today on the topic of Time Management. One belief I hold is that you really cannot manage time. You can only manage the behaviors which get in the way of ultimate productivity.  We address these behaviors during the coaching demo.

Listen to the coaching call here.

This demo was sponsored by Free Webinar Wednesdays.  Thank-you to Jeff Simpkins and Eric Cook for their great efforts with this venture!