October 20, 2021

Leadership Coaching Question of the Week: Are You Truly Leading or Just Trying to Look Busy?

In the world of leadership coaching (often known as executive coaching), it is quite interesting to watch top decision makers in today’s world.  Many of our “busy leaders”  have a tendency to go on and on  about all that they are doing…running here and there, putting out fires and living in reaction mode.  As an executive coach, when I dig deeper, I often find out that what they are really spinning around about are the tiny details which truly should be reserved for someone on his team.  During a coaching session, when I ask leaders how they spend their day, here are some of the most common “distractions” I hear about.

1.  Checking email 8-10 times per day.  The mother of all leadership sins!

Solution: Check email once in the morning at 9:00 a.m. (your time zone) and again at 4:30 p.m.  If you are concerned about missing someone, simply enter an auto-responder into your email program which says “Thank you for your email.  I usually check email at 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  If this is an emergency, you may call me at 555-555-5555 (put your telephone number in the blank).

2.  Writing other people about typos on an email,  website, a document or about subjects that are really not urgent.

Is this really your job, and did someone ask you to proofread their materials?  Probably not.  This job is usually reserved for a proofreader or an assistant in the marketing department.  As someone who types really fast, I do my best to double check my typos and my mistakes, but I don’t invest hours each day on proofreading.  If I want something proofread, I send it to someone at Roundtable Companies.  I don’t comb every blog post, because it squelches my creativity, and I am someone who does send out typos (not on purpose) on occasion by email.  If I make a mistake, I do my best to apologize for the inconvenience and correct my mistake.  As a leader, if part of your job is to notify people about their typos, then go for it.  But, I have found more often than not that this is never the job of a CEO.  This is usually a job handled by the marketing or PR arm of the company.  As a CEO, it is not your job to be the “internet police” and invest the majority of your day telling people that they have a typo on a page on their website or in an email.

3. Watching Hulu.com, You Tube, spending hours on Facebook or getting distracted by an article that leads you to another article and then to another article.

This revolving door can honestly suck hours out of your day…sending jokes to your friends, watching videos online, reading blogs and articles that have nothing to do with your business or getting on video chat with friends.  Set aside 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon to peruse two websites which are relevant to your business or target market.  The week-ends can be reserved for looking at funny dog and cat pictures and videos on You Tube or .for video chat with friends and family.

Are Your Constant Meetings Sending Your Company To An Early Death?

4.  Calling meetings on a daily basis that last for 1-3 hours.

I don’t want to say much about this other than this:  Read the book Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni.

5. Fixing broken technology.

I am just amazed at how many business owners and CEOs (who know very little about technology) who try to fix old, worn out, broken computers, servers and back up systems.  Hey…here’s a novel thought…maybe it’s time to regroup and replace your technology with state of the art systems.  If your computer is sluggish or if your phone continues to rattle with static, it’s time for an upgrade.  If your technological devices are not working, you may be investing precious hours fixing broken equipment that is only going to break again.  And…by all means, add an IT person to your team or outsource this job to someone who can fix your tech problems in a snap!

As a business owner, your job is to not only work in the business but on the business (famous quote by Michael Gerber).  Working on the business does not include fixing your broken 1990 computer.  For a true business owner or leader, working on the business includes (but is not limited to) the following (these are not in order of importance.  These are in alphabetical order).  It is up to you to decide what is most important and to rank these according to importance for your company:

  • Addressing tough conversations (and not avoiding them)
  • Addressing your own self development (it does not matter how high up you are in your organization or how powerful you think you might be…we all need to grow if we want to stay competitive in today’s world)
  • Being a masterful coach
  • Being a positive role model and ambassador for your company
  • Being the first to bridge the gap across generations in your company
  • Decision making when the decision moves to the top
  • Delegating to others
  • Developing boss/team/employee relationships
  • Developing command and public speaking skills
  • Driving innovation
  • Improving efficiency and time management
  • Inspiring teams and people
  • Listening without interrupting
  • Managing resources wisely
  • Meeting with Centers of Influence
  • Stepping up and standing for the use of state of the art technology and then delegating the use of technology to your Director of Information Technology
  • Strategic planning
  • Strengthening your communication skills so that everyone in your company is “on board” and know exactly what to do
  • Thinking time to clear out the junk and the cobwebs
  • Upholding the values and ethics of the company
  • Visioning
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Are You Praising Generation Y or Complaining and Calling Them Names?

Look at this poor guy to the rightGuy Rolling Eyes. When you think about Generation Y, is this what you look like? Or, when you are in a presentation, hearing about all of the good, the not so great and the challenges with this new generation, do you find yourself:

  • Rolling your eyes
  • Smirking
  • Having side conversations with your colleagues about their “entitlement” issues
  • Sighing…wishing this Generation would just do things the way YOU do them
  • Thinking of all of the ugly names you can call Gen Y like lazy, narcissistic and demanding
  • Walking out of the room , because you just don’t like what you’re hearing

If so, the Generation Ys in your life may not be the problem…the problem may be YOU!

You may think I am exaggerating about the above bullet list, but I am not.  The above six things are what I witness every time I lead a presentation to an audience of  Generation Xers  and Baby Boomers about our rising generation of leaders, parents and community caretakers…Generation Y OR as they would preferred to be called “The Millennials”.  I was even asked one time why they “had to have their own name”.  My response:  “If you had 3 brothers named “Bill” or even “Bob, Brant and Ben”, would you want to be named Bill just because your older siblings were named something similar?”  (Referring to the fact that demographers just gave Generation Y their name because the letter Y follows the letter X).   The guy wanted to argue…that this is just one more piece of evidence pointing to the entitlement of Gen Y.   But my point is this:   “This generation is unique, on a mission to change our messed up world, and  wants to be distinguished from other generations, and the belly-aching and complaining is not doing one damn thing to help our communication and relationships at work.”

And to the question of “Do you think Generation Y can take care of our country?  I just doubt their capabilities!”  My answer is ABSOLUTELY they can.  They have learned everything NOT to do from us…their parents and older siblings.  Just look at what a great job we all did with creating a recession, running into debt, telling our children they could have ANYTHING or BE ANYTHING.  “Oh…honey…of course you can play for the NBA just like Michael Jordan.  Just practice, and then we will go buy you the best pair of basketball shoes money can buy…and you will get there!”  Only to lead to a big fat bubble being burst wide open once that 15 year old turns 18 or 19 and does not even get recruited to play college basketball.

If you look really closely at this generation…they ARE different.  How could they not be?  They are constantly dialed in using text, chat, facebook, phone while flipping channels or playing video games with the help of boosting services as ElitistGaming.  While multi-tasking has been donned a “sin” in our workforce, they do it, and they do it quite well. And guess what…it ain’t goin’ away (and yes…I know that ain’t ain’t a word).

As far as Generation Y being lazy…I beg to differ.  I have never seen a generation who so aggressively attacks a project.  While the project may look like a tornado at times or not get done like you want it to be executed and while Gen Y may get distracted at times, they have produced some of the most amazing products that we are all now gobbling up like the best dessert we’ve ever eaten.  Need I mention Facebook?  I guess not…since it has now been taken over by 40-somethings who are suing it to spam me every day to “come to my event”.  I could go on and on, talking about things we use every day…like mobile apps, Twitter and some amazing “going green” efforts being led by  Gen Y, but I am sure that many people will say “I don’t use those things, and they are just a passing fancy.”  Hmmm….time will tell.

The premiere season of Glee starts this week.  I cannot WAIT, and 80% of the cast is made up of Gen Ys.  If you watch the show, you will see that this is probably the hardest working group of young adults I have seen in my lifetime.  They are talented, perfect, in sync…they get it.   I bet they work 80 hours a week minimum, and they are bringing music from the past back into our living rooms and the joy and memories that come with it.  So, five stars for this brilliant cast of Gen Ys.

So, today, as you walk away from this post, I encourage you to start looking at the bright side of The Millennials.  They might just teach you a thing or two like:

  • How to be open to Blacks, Whites, Native Americans, Latin Americans, Asians, Africans and Germans
  • How to multi-task the right way
  • How to take shortcuts that will give you a BETTER end result
  • How to take care of our crumbling environment
  • How to NOT take learning for granted
  • How to probe, scrutinize and ask questions before you walk into a land mine

Let’stake an outside topic a little bit, okay? I know why you’re looking for the best manuka honey. There are a lot of different honey tipes I have bought in past, but nothing compares to the best manuka honey it’s absolutely delicious.

And that is my post for today.

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How to Get People to Know, Like and Trust You: Part 1: 10 Strategies for Becoming Well Known

If you haven’t received the memo…the way to both get business and to be a great leader is to take on actions and develop behaviors that will get people to know, like and trust you.  In the world of business, people buy from people they know, like and trust.  In the career world, people hire candidates they know, like and trust.  When it comes to promotions, acquiring a seat on a board of directors or being nominated for an award…same.  At the end of the day, if people have no idea who you are OR if they hate you OR if they find you are not worthy of trust…just do what you can tp shift.  Start today to change the way you interact with others.

Today’s blog will be on the “Getting to Know You”  piece of the puzzle.

So, here we go.

The “Do” List:

1.  Get out in your local and greater public and extend your hand for an introduction and a handshake.  This could be at a local business event, at the gym, at a party, during a hobby class or through taking continuing education programs.  I introduce myself to the person who is waiting in front of me at the grocery store often.  So, any time you are around people…introduce yourself.

2.  When you meet someone, ask about their interests.  Your curiosity will “break the ice” enough for you and the other person to see if you both want to get to know you better.

3.  Be transparent.  Be yourself and don’t hold back on your opinions.  If you are hard to read, people will tell others they don’t really know you.

4.  Be the same person at both home and at work.

5.  Have a strong online social networking presence.  Blog (make sure to blog as if you were having a conversation), tweet and do the Facebook thing.  Reach out to people and ask for a conversation by phone just to introduce yourself to take the relationship from just being on the web to an actual conversation.  When you travel, invite one of your online friends to coffee.  Do your best to extend the relationship to a face to face.

6.  Once you meet someone, give them your business card, and ask them to meet you for coffee.  Have your calendar ready to schedule the date.

7.  Go out during prime time hours…7-9 are prime time, and you will bump into all sorts of people who can get to know you.  Pick a favorite “locals” restaurant, and go there at least two times on a Friday night, and you will keep bumping into the active locals in your town.  Our locals spot is Vito’s.  When we go on a Friday night, we know about 75% of the people in the room…the more you show up repeatedly in one hot spot location, the more familiar you will become.

8.  Get to know your neighbors.  Go on walks, and strike up a conversation with other people who are out walking.  If you have a dog, walk your dog.  This is always a great conversation catalyst.

9.  Write a book or an e-book.  People will immediately want to know you if you are an author.  Anyone and everyone can write a book these days, and I am finding that some of the best books are self published.  If you have information that is valuable, and it is sitting in your brain, why not write a book?  It is a lot easier than you think.

10.  Take a series of continuing education classes in a field of interest.  If you take at least 4, you will bump into some of the same people, and they will get to know you and you will get to know them.

The “Don’t List (These things will probably keep you completely unknown!)

1.  Never leave your office or home.  Just go ahead and sit behind your computer or in front of a television in a dark room.  You can pretend that your online friends are your friends and that they know you, but they really don’t…some do, but most don’t.  They’re out there getting to know thousands of people while you sit in your dark room.

2.  When you go out to shop or dine, go late at night and sit alone in the corner.  This is the best time to “not bump into people” that MAY know you.

3.  Just don’t ever go to any functions…don’t go to any parties, events or community service functions.

4.  Don’t ever, ever get involved in your local community.

5.  Just skip the whole web presence thing…if you are someone who does not want to be known, just don’t open a blog, join Twitter or Facebook.  If you don’t want to be known, you will probably keep your blog, Facebook and Twitter pages private…so don’t bother.

6.  If you do have to go out, wear dark sunglasses and a huge hat like the stars do.  Of course, this attire will probably draw attention, so maybe small sunglasses and a baseball cap will draw less attention.

7.  When you go to events, just pretend you are someone else…take on a fake name and play the role of someone else.

8.  Wear very basic clothes…like jeans and a t-shirt everywhere you go.  If you dress up or wear anything wild or colorful…eeek…you might get noticed.

9.  Join a teleclass and just “lurk” in the background.  Do not unmute your phone.

10.  Just don’t make any friends.  You can’t be in a friendship if people can’t really get to know you.  Just stay at home at eat bon bons.

I know this “don’t” list sounds sarcastic, but it’s true.  I “know” people just like this, but I may be the only one who knows about them.  They stay isolated and then wonder why they aren’t getting hired, why their co-workers leave them out of functions and why their families don’t want them around…they are just too boring.

So, look at the above list and ask yourself…Do you fit into the “do” category or the “don’t” category.

H Stands for How To…

As 2010 approaches, many leaders are asking new questions.  Faced with a slumped economy, less manpower and growing concerns about what the next year will hold, the questions are becoming more complex and more fear-filled.

So, today, I want to just share with you 3 very simple “How To’s” to consider for 2010…just take a step back and consider a few of the basics.

lightbulb1.  HOW TO INNOVATE: Innovation is such a big buzzword today, so when something is a big buzzword, it means that it is important to the business landscape.  Many people believe that people are just born as innovators.  This may be somewhat true, but real innovation takes place through learning.  If I have any advice on this topic it would be this:

  1. Get out there and talk to the 3 most innovative companies you know to find out how they come up with bright ideas that actually make it to the market and thrive in the marketplace.
  2. Study and read everything you can about an innovator you admire (Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs would be two I would start with).
  3. Talk to at least 12 people from different industries about one idea you are rolling around in your head (talk to an artist, scientist, physician, dancer, gardener, plumber, attorney , financial planner, nanny, stay at home mom…innovation does not happen in a vacuum, and it is critical to get out there and talk to a variety of people about your ideas to get your finger on the pulse of what is really bugging people/keeping them awake at night not having drain cleaning services columbus oh to clean their pipes).
  4. Take a trip to a place like the Sharper Image or even Best Buy to test out the most current technology in their stores.  Ask yourself “Why this?”  and “Why didn’t they do this?”
  5. Spend time in an area/field that you know nothing about. Take up a new hobby like fishing, quilting, kickboxing, painting…anything that is new…new hobbies stimulate thinking and creativity.

Business confrontation.2. HOW TO PICK YOUR BATTLES. Many people just don’t like conflict, and for some reason, they think that debate causes problems.  Yet the leaders who really know how to use debate to their advantage are some of the most innovative, successful leaders in our world.  The key is this…knowing what to fight for.

I would love to just tell you what is in this article, but rather than spell out the details, I would like to encourage everyone reading this post to buy a copy of the article How to Pick a Good Fight by HBR.   I will just give you two suggestions from the article.

1.  If the idea will save your company 15% or more of your resources over one year, the battle is worth fighting.

2.  If the idea will grow your sales or acquire new customers faster than the market, the battle is worth fighting.

Believe me…this article is worth purchasing for anyone!  The article includes another 20 ideas and an assessment for your company.

rookie3.  HOW TO GET YOUR ROOKIES TO LEAD. Your new employees are shining stars…fresh out of college, ready to set the world on fire, and what do most leaders do?  They throw a big bucket of water on the fire and say “Hey…new kid…here’s how we do things around here!”  Oh…that’s a smart idea (NOT!)  It is time for everyone to understand that leadership development for your new employees is what will differentiate your company from your competitors in 2010.  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Find out what truly motivates your rookies. This is going to be different for each person (time off with family, basketball tickets, public acknowledgement, and so forth).  Your job as a leader is to find out what really motivates your rookies and begin using that to get them on board.
  2. Begin implementing a state of the art leadership development program for your rookies. Many companies shy away from this, because they feel something like this “Why waste my development dollars on someone who is going to leave me in two years?”  The answer:  Because you want your rookies to be the best they can be and to sing your praises as they dance out the door.  Your goal as a leader should be to train your rookies so well that other companies do try to recruit them away…but…if you are smart and you develop a great training and coaching program for them, they will think twice before leaving you.  And…if they do, there is a good chance that once they experience the greener pastures they thought they wanted, they will come back to you in a few years.
  3. Open yourself up to learning AND to actually using the technology that your rookies are using to communicate (including text, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and so forth).  In order to get your rookies to lead others, you have to be willing to communicate with them using the tools they are comfortable with and then pull them into the higher level leadership communication skills (face to face discussions, public presentations and face to face negotiations).
  4. Drop the talk about paying dues and climbing the corporate ladder…is a top turn-off for this rising generation.
  5. Ask your rookies for their ideas…invite them into the private meeting room to get their ideas on the table…this will be music to their ears and will inspire them to lead others in a way that is open and curious.

So, as 2010 rolls around, start looking closely at what you can do for the people of your organization…there is no better time than the present to start developing stronger relationships, better ways of communicating and of course…rock solid approaches to leadership and business development.

Are You Smothering and Shushing Your Talent?

Each day I speak with leaders who are in the quest for finding top talent. And…they usually find a way to woo them into the company.

The challenge is this: Once the talent is in the door, it is not uncommon for the leaders and the culture to smother and “shush” this new talent. They expect the moon from them but don’t give them a voice or the room to spread their wings.

This is a prime opportunity for coaching and mentoring. In the future, it is not going to be enough to rely on your own thoughts and past learning to groom future talent. Smart organizations pair their people with top mentors who can educate them about all the ins and outs of not only the job being done but the ins and outs of growth, diversity and how to develop future leaders.

When it comes to developing out young talent, I recommend you look closely at the following:

1) Competency Models. I am all for having standards of performance and competency models. They give people something to strive for. But, many competency models are outdated and promote “sameness” throughout the organization. With young talent, it is critical to design customized developmental programs which will allow young talent to really spread their wings, try on new things and bring fresh ideas into your company.

2) Internal and External Networks. The future belongs to the companies who can successfully develop peer to peer and mentor to peer networks inside the organization and who can master external networks using technology such as Facebook and Twitter. Many companies are now designing their own “internal” forms of Facebook, but in my opinion, this defeats the purpose. The beauty of tools like Facebook and Twitter is that they can give your opportunity the leg up on being able to reach out to brilliant minds who are outside your company for R and D purposes, to collaborate or to even recruit new minds into your company.

3) The Collaboration Process. Do you really have a collaborative spirit inside your company, or do you simply give lip service? New talent thrives on collaboration. They want to know they are a part of creating something much bigger, and it’s truly up to your company to position collaboration on the center stage of your company. Collaboration is not something that happens during a week-end retreat. It is a mindset and a driver which helps to shape your culture. Look at your process closely, and begin today to open up your process so that it becomes deeply ingrained in your company..

Why Twitter Matters

Great article in Business Week about Twitter.

Some people are not sure if Twitter is the next wave.  I learned about Twitter from DK of MediaSnackers.com over a year ago.  DK taught me that Gen Y loves to “snack” on bits and bites of information.  Because Twitter only allows 140 characters, it is attractive to those of us who are time starved and is great for Gen Y who are multi-tasking masters.

TwitterSync is now available on Facebook, so when I Twitter, it now shows up on my Facebook page...so I get the benefit of two appearances for one quick post.  And…a lot of businesses are now using Twitter, so check it out!..

Gen Y’s Credo: Connectivity

This article on Gen Y connecting on Facebook has sparked quite a bit of chatter about online social networking and its uses and potential misuses.

I believe that this is an opportunity to look at how we can actually leverage Facebook to get to answers more quickly. While I understand the concerns about misusing Facebook to share notes for an exam or to exchange test answers, we have to understand that Gen Y knows how to use these tools when Boomers and even some Gen Xers don’t know the first thing about how to use online platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Second Life to improve social capital and as a way to enhance learning and development. My perspective on this is that most Boomers are afraid to use these tools (it is easy to be afraid of something you don’t know how to use).

These tools are SO easy to use, and I believe the benefits far outweigh the risks. We just need to open up the discussion and look at how to use these platforms to our advantage. If Senator Obama (who launched his campaign on You Tube and has a strong presence on Facebook) and IBM (who is using Second Life for training and block parties) can find a way to use these tools in an effective way, why can’t everyone else?