September 21, 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 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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The Top 3 Most Common Employee Complaints

What would your employees write on the wall next to your suggestion box?

This cartoon always makes me laugh.  In looking at this cartoon, simply ask yourself this question “If uncensored, what would your employees write on a wall next to a suggestion box about you and your executive team?”

In the leadership coaching work I have provided executive level leaders and their teams over the last ten years, I have discovered that there are 3 main complaints employees seem to voice regarding upper management and the leadership team.  These complaints or concerns are not isolated.  They are common across all geographical boundaries, so take note of these and rather than take my word for it, go ask your employees how they feel about these concerns.

1.   Micromanagement: We all know what it feels like to be micromanaged.  Your boss, parent or authority figure is constantly checking up on you, breathing down your neck or looking over your shoulder to make sure the job you are doing is absolutely textbook perfect.   Micro-managers are usually obsessed with controlling the project and pushes everyone around them to succeed, beat the clock and “do it the way we have always done it”.  If you are a micro-manager, you are taking a big risk of disempowering your employees,  actually hurting their work performance and destroying their confidence.  In this case, it is not uncommon for a top employee to eventually become so frustrated they will leave and go to work your biggest competitor.

Solution: Prior to the start of a project, fully train your team on the plan, strategy, processes, expectations, where to go for resources and when to ask questions, and then…let your employees go and implement the job you have empowered them to do.  Give them the freedom to take on the project, and if you do observe an employee going way off track, invite them into your office, explain your observations and retrain on that one aspect of the project.   During a new project, you may also notice an employee taking on a task that may not be what you asked, but it is actually getting better results, so take note of that.   Ask someone you trust to observe you during the project and to call you on the carpet when you start back down the micromanagement track.

2.   Lack of Accessibility. It is not uncommon for the executive level leaders and senior managers to become isolated from the employees of the company.  Their offices are located in the executive tower at the top of the building and they literally stay on that one floor for the entire day.  This creates a feeling of a hierarchy at play, and as an employee, if you are  below the top of the totem pole,  you will feel so far removed from the decision makers that you may either:

  • Do a really lousy job, because you think no one is looking or cares
  • Start down a path that is illegal (stealing, harassment)
  • Begin wondering what secrets the company is trying to hide from you
  • Quit your job

In my opinion, there is no excuse for this.  This approach is the “good old boys network” approach, and is really outdated and no longer an advantage for success.

Solution: Lead and manage by walking around the company on an every other day basis.   Simply pop in and out of different departments to say hello and to find out what is going on.  Take a notepad or your digital device with you to jot down complaints and suggestions and notice if you see repeating patterns in concerns, worries or doubts.

Another approach to improving accessibility is to hold town hall meetings two times per month, and give your employees the opportunity to gain access to you and your team and to talk to you openly and candidly.  During the town hall meeting format, as a leader, your job is to listen and to thank your employees for their suggestions…not to justify or make excuses for why something may not be going so great.  It is perfectly fine to explain why a certain decision was made to clear up any confusion, but it is not okay to argue or make excuses during dialogue with your employees.  At the end of the day, your employees need a voice, and if there is a negative perception floating around your company,  it is your job to change the perception from negative to positive.

3.   Wrong Fit. In this scenario, an employee is hired to fill one job and the first day he shows up, he ends up in a completely different role.  In my mind, this is basically a form of lying to an employee.  If an employee is hired to do one job and placed in another, he will forever be miserable.

Solution: Perform a Strengths Finder Profile on each employee and place them in roles where they can thrive.  You can purchase the book Strengths Finder 2.0, and inside the book will be a code to go online and take the assessment.   If you discover at the last minute that the job  OR the job description is going to change, and it is not a good fit for your new employee based on her skill set and strengths, it is critical for you to communicate to her that the job role has changed and give her the option to stay or move on to find a better fit.

The Top 3 Reasons Motivation Does Not Work

In the world of coaching, we talk a great deal about “motivation“.  I have even had colleagues introduce me as a “motivational speaker”.  This grinds on my last nerve, and here’s why.

Motivation does not work!

Take a look at this dog to the right.  There are several things that could be “motivating” the dog to not snatch the hot dog and lap it up:

  • Great job using Photoshop
  • The dog has been very well trained
  • The photographer tried 10 times and made sure he snapped the photograph in two seconds
  • The dog is not a dog
  • And a few other reasons

My point is this:  Dogs will be dogs, and dogs LOVE to eat meat in any shape or form.  So, my hunch is that if left alone, this dog would scarf down that hot dog in ten seconds flat.

There are 3 basic reasons that I believe motivation does not work, and here they go:

1.  Motivation is a “pushing” mechanism. Have you ever attended a motivational seminar or worked with a health coach who was “pushing” you to achieve a goal against the greatest of your will and might?  It feels yucky.  Now then, they may spin their words and sprinkle their magic pixie dust to get you to “change your life forever”, but the old motivational seminar or “in your face” health coach is like a shot of a cortisone.  The inflammation goes away temporarily out of being in a trance or scared to death, but the true injury did not really heal.  The cortisone was just a short term fix.  Motivation is just like that shot of cortisone…it is a short term fix, and if you are feeling “pushed” to do something that you really don’t want to do, your success will be very short term, but instead if you really want to keep yourself healthy, you’ll do it for yourself, you’ll feel like exercising and getting supplements as kratom extract to feel the best you can.

On the other hand, anabolic steroids does work…something in life that you are really attracted to and drawn to, and it has nothing to do with a health coach screaming in your face or a motivational speaker using his NLP to put you into a trance.

2.  The “motivation” is not tied to changing the environment. We all have the ability to pull will power up, but if our environment is not redesigned in a way to help us reach our goal, we will do what anyone does who is trying to break a habit…we slip or relapse.  If you are trying to lose weight, and your pantry is stocked with Famous Amos cookies, Reese Cups, Lays Potato Chips (you can’t eat just 1) and all of your favorite “fatty foods”, there is a very good chance on a bad, tired, stressed day that you will go to the pantry and go on an eating frenzy.  The same holds true with the people in your environment…if they are not joining you in this goal and if they are eating your favorite foods, the mimic in you will follow them right to the pantry.  To truly succeed with a goal, you really do have to change everything around you if you want to succeed.

3.  Motivation is a form of pretending that you want to do something. If you are pretending you want to do something, just stop!  On the other hand, if you have a goal that truly inspires you and stirs passion inside your soul, there is a great chance you will succeed with your goal.  If you have been shamed or sent on a guilt trip to “get some motivation”,  in about two weeks, you will find yourself right back in that trap.  Standing in front of the mirror and pumping yourself up gets old, but when you are working on something so exciting that you dance out of the bed and out the door every morning, you are going to succeed…because you WANT to and you LOVE what you are doing.

So, I would love to hear some comments on this post.  Just drop them below, and let me hear what you think.

Executive Coaching: 10 Critical Points to Drive Behavioral Change

When coaching an executive client, many coaches believe that in 3-6 months, magic is going to happen.  Some coaches believe that simply because a coach is involved in the process, a client is going to change for a lifetime.  Maybe…but not so often does this really happen.  While this MAY be true, there are so many factors to consider:  the team members, board members, culture of the company, home life, physical health and the list just goes on and on.

I have written out 10 key components that I believe are critical to helping your client create behavioral change…not just for 3 months but for a lifetime.

1.  When coaching a business owner or executive level leader, you must get involvement and commitment from all stakeholders around the person you are coaching. This means the boss, employees, team members, colleagues and family members.  They have to be supportive of the change and not throwing sarcasm and jokes into the topic of coaching.

2. It is critical to get feedback from other people about this behavior by performing a full review (360 degree review) with the key stakeholders who truly know the client. The client cannot see himself or herself, but the people around the client are making assumptions and drawing conclusions based on their observations.

3.  Determine in writing the key behaviors to change and what they look like now and what the client and stakeholders agree the behavior should look like to help the team improve. With intangibles like coaching, it is difficult to measure if coaching works, so it is important for everyone to agree that “When we see x happen, we will know that change has occurred.”  Be very careful about tying success to a dollar outcome.  The behavior may improve and the bottom line may fall, so this has to be discussed upfront.

4.   Write out a week by week plan of action with the client. Having a plan is crucial, otherwise, both you and the client will have no idea where you are going.  This plan certainly needs to be flexible, but without a plan on paper and checking in each week with that plan, you will end up going nowhere fast.

5.  Check in on a monthly basis with the client and 1-2 key stakeholders (everyone needs to be in the room) to determine where you feel the client is in the change process. If you just talk with the client, the boss, CEO, Board of Directors and employees will want to know what is going on.  Ask your client for permission to meet with 2-3 people who know the client and who he trusts to discuss the progress and any shifts which need to take place in the coaching.

6.  Find out upfront what types of approaches have worked for your client in the past, but do not dwell on the past. Simply discuss what has worked and approaches that just don’t work for your client.  Those old approaches MAY have worked in the past and they may not work today, so ask your client “In your honest opinion, how effective do you believe that strategy for change will work today, given that our world has changed by leaps and bounds in the last five years?”

7.  At the end of the coaching, sit down and map out an exit strategy for next steps. This is where the stakeholders are going to be asked to really step in.  If you are working with a key team member for 6 months, and you are then suddenly gone, who is going to be checking in with your client?

8.  Remember…you cannot work miracles. The behavior the client keeps slipping back into has probably been a part of your client’s life for 20-30 years.  If you think you can change your client in six months, it is time for you to hire a coach to get a grip on reality.  Once you have provided the coaching, tools and resources to your client, with a solid exit strategy, it is no longer your fault or failure if the client “slips”.

9.  Your goal of coaching a leader is not to win a popularity contest. The goal is to get the client to succeed in changing the behavior that is causing anxiety for your client, the team and all stakeholders.  This is serious business, and you have to be willing to be tough enough to even get fired over it.  You have to be willing to go the distance by holding the client accountable, assigning tough exercises and supporting them every step of the way.

10.  If a client is slipping back into old behaviors, avoid using the word “Why?” This can create a great deal of defensiveness.  Simply say “Seems like we are now back to square 1.  Tell me what has gone on in the last few months/years that has pulled you back to where we started.”  Using a child-like approach can also be helpful, simply by saying..”Hmmm….how come?  What happened?”

Please add your ideas on this subject.  We all want our clients to succeed, and all suggestions are so welcome and wanted!

And…don’t forget.  The TOUGH COACHING program begins today, April 6 as 12:00 p.m. Eastern with a live, real time coaching on the topic of “How to coach a client who has been coached and has slipped back into the old behavior.”  To sign up, head over to this page.

TOUGH COACHING Starts Today at 12:00 Eastern

As a reminder, TOUGH COACHING will start today,  Wednesday, April 6.

We still have a few openings, so we invite you to register today and invite a friend to do so.  We are going to have a great deal of valuable information to offer you!

Here are the details:

Dates: 6 Consecutive Wednesdays from April 6-May 11, 2011
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m. Eastern
Facilitators: Bea Fields and Mandy Schumaker

Our first four class clients and topics are as follow.  These are going to be tough clients with rich dialogue and the client will be coached LIVE.  Following the coaching, we will engage the client in a debrief and then turn to you as the audience for a debrief and discussion on what to do, how to do it and any additional ideas you wish to contribute to the group.

April 6: Robert Friesen, Founder and CEO of Bentech and Senior Attorney with  Robbins, May and Rich Attorneys. 
TOPIC:
How to coach a client has been coached and has slipped back into old habits.

April 13: Anton Kaufer, Sales Development Manager of Local Thunder. 
TOPIC:
How to coach a client who has a challenge around confronting direct reports.

April 20: Dr. Shane Perrault, President of Counseling for African American Couples in Maryland/D.C. Area, author of 2 books and blogger for Psychology Today.
TOPIC:
How to coach a client who agrees to complete field work and is not moving through to completion.

April 27:
Scott Wilder, Founding Partner and Digital Strategist at Human 1.0 and the Human 1.0 Network, Acting CMO and Advisor at CloudFi and former Designer and Director of Client Forums and Community for Intuit.
TOPIC:
How to coach a client who can’t get ahead due to problems with relationships with others and thinking his ideas are better than others.

Our last two classes will be asking for volunteers from our class to step up and be coached, so please take this opportunity to sign up for our May 4 and May 11 classes for live coaching.

Following the call, you will be given access to a library which will include:

  1. Audio Download of each call
  2. Handouts which cover the topic of the call in thorough detail, including what the behavior “looks like”, the possible root causes of the issues, coaching questions to ask, activities to assign the client and a full set of resources
  3. A list of coaching questions to use with your clients on each topic
  4. At least 3 sample assessments to apply when coaching on client on each topic
  5. A thorough list of resources to help you coach your clients more effectively

Sign Up Today for the 6 Week TOUGH COACHING Program

Are You Slipping Back Into Old Habits? Fear May Be Your Issue

Collage of fearsToday, Mandy Schumaker and I added two posts to TOUGH COACHING related to a leader falling back on old habits or regressing as opposed to moving forward. When you want to move from your house to another location, hire long distance movers chicago il.

Have Your Leadership Skills Regressed by Mandy Schumaker

5 Strategies to Pull Your Butt Out of a Fear Slump by Bea Fields

Please remember:  We will be offering our TOUGH COACHING program starting March 6 with a client who is both a CEO and an attorney (George Collins P.A.) on the topic of someone who has been coached and has now slipped back into old habits.  This is going to be a fabulous call!

And…if fear is holding you back from something big, OR if you feel you are regressing in life or business,  please take the time to read these articles.  They do bring light into the dark shadows. Buy buy glass pipes online for your room to decorate your workplace.

Quote for the day: It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer. ~Albert Einstein

7 Ways To Ruin a New Employee by Jeff Haden on BNET

Great article on BNET by Jeff Haden on seven ways you can set the wrong course, and in the process ruin a new employee:

1. Welcome them to the family. Strong interpersonal relationships, positive working relationships, friendships… all those come later, if ever.  You hire an employee to work, not build relationships.  Be polite, courteous, and friendly, but stay focused on the fact the employee was hired to perform a job, and jobs involve work.  Let new employees earn their way into the “family” through hard work and achievement.

Read the other 6 ways here on BNET.

Jeff Haden has a variety of great articles.  Check them out here.

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Is Your Listening Style Hurting or Helping Your Company?

Ah yes…the old “Active Listening” seminar and training approach.  As Dr. Phil would say “How’s that workin’ for ya”?

For most people, these listening seminars and even coaching approaches are simply not working.  Why?  Because more often than not, the coach is not:

  1. Evaluating the client thoroughly enough before the first coaching call on his  true listening style and ability
  2. Calling the client on the carpet when he’s not listening but actually is multi-tasking during the coaching call
  3. Spotting repeating patterns in other life areas including belief systems, productivity challenges, biases and 5-6 other life areas which do have an impact on listening.

On March 23, Executive Coach Mandy Schumaker and I are going to coach one brave soul…Roger DeWitt, President of Coaching NYC on the topic of LISTENING:  How are your listening style and skills impacting the bottom line of your business?

Here are the details:

Title: TOUGH COACHING INTRODUCTORY CALLLISTENING:  How are your listening style and skills impacting the bottom line of your business?

Date: Wednesday, March 23 from 12:00 PM-1:00 PM EST

Location: Telephone Bridge Line

Client: Roger DeWitt, President of Coaching NYC

Coach: Executive Coach Bea Fields

Chief Facilitator: Executive Coach Mandy Schumaker

Following the coaching demonstration, Mandy Schumaker will be debriefing the coaching exercise and engaging with participants to further explore the topic of listening and the tools used during the coaching demo.  The approach we are going to be using is more than likely not one you have used or observed in the past.  With this approach, you will be able to coach a client for a minimum of 3 months on just this one topic.

Join us on March 23 at 12:00 EST  by registering for our free introductory call

At the end of the call, participants will receive:

  • 3 sample assessments you can use to evaluate your clients natural listening and focusing style
  • 3 resources for additional reading
  • Handouts to guide you when coaching a client on the topic of listening
  • 10 coaching questions you can use, starting today to help your clients fine tune their listening
  • A list of 5 activities to offer as field work to your clients following a coaching call to dramatically improve and enhance deep, global listening
    Register today for our free introductory call