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Disentangle All of Your Mixed Messages to Diminish Anxiety

Disentangle All of Your Mixed Messages to Diminish Anxiety

Anxiety somehow touches almost every aspect of our lives. It is woven invisibly into the fabric of our existence and often sets into motion a chain of reactions and circumstances.

As leaders, we need to ensure that anxiety does not consume our workplaces and degrade the performance of our people. The key to reducing anxiety at work is direct and clear communication that eliminates mixed messages—the catalytic driver of anxiety.

Communicative people are less anxious and more secure because they know where they stand. They are less afraid to ask the awkward questions and less intimidated to have difficult conversations. They know that “meta-messages” live inside of every communication, and they strive to create clarity and understanding.

For example, if you seek new business, you may fail to keep your team in the loop. As time passes, you leave your team without a leader. Soon your people feel disconnected from your activities. Worst-case scenarios seem to be whispered, and one-on-one side conversations echo the halls. As a result, anxiety starts to dominate your team. It shows up as people start distrusting your leadership capability, turning to other leaders outside the team for advice and information, creating concentric circles of communication with others, and building mountains out of molehills.

Our sense of security and well-being are profoundly affected by how well we are kept in the vital loop, how well our leaders interpret and integrate the dynamics and complexities of workplace life for us.

Interpreting Meta-Messages

Anxiety is a natural response to a perception about the future. Employee anxiety often becomes the ever-present fabric when their managers and leaders are suddenly behind dosed doors, speaking in hushed tones, and refusing to address rumors directly. This sends a very direct message. Great leaders put themselves in someone else’s shoes temporarily in an effort to interpret these events for them in a straightforward and truthful way. In doing so, they create a sense of calmness, control, forward movement, security, and direction. Unless leaders set a dear and explicit context for this communication, employees create their own worst-case scenarios.

Anxiety elevates under certain conditions. Lack of shared focus, purpose, and vision creates confusion. Lack of communication opens the door to paranoia (the ultimate anxiety response). Lack of interpersonal communication causes more emotion, misunderstanding, and anxiety.

Emotions have a dramatic effect on our success. Positive emotional connection is good for business. Lack of respect for others undermines security, which causes resentment-another form of anxiety. Failure to tap the inner talent and creativity causes deeper isolation and anxiety. Failure to develop team agreements, strategies, and decision-making policies enhances isolation. Management’s self-serving and exclusionary approaches cause isolation and anxiety among employees. Negativity and complaining become both the cause and effect of anxiety. Low morale due to leadership’s inability to acknowledge the truth causes anxiety.

Tips for Leaders to Diminish Anxiety

'13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do' by Amy Morin (ISBN 0062358308) How can you as a leader build an environment where people feel safe? Mixed messages cause employees to retreat into anxiety. For example, when you say you care about keeping people in the loop, yet fail to do so, you send meta-messages. When you talk at employees and give directives, but do not ask questions to clarify understanding, you set the context for mixed messages. Predictably, employees will think one thing while you say something else, and confusion will result. Mixed messages create a metaphorical moat. We don’t know which side of the river we are standing on, and without the security of knowing where we stand, we can’t do our best.

Instead of allowing mixed-messages and worst-case scenarios to take over, enhance your commendation and set the context for inclusion:

  • Don’t be afraid to stand up for your people. Create a safe environment so they know that you are there for them. When having vital conversations about the future direction, minimize misunderstandings. Repeat what employees say and ask questions to uncover hidden implications. Be sure that reviews are realistic so that people know exactly where they stand at all times. Be genuinely interested and acknowledge good effort and accomplishments for others to see. Clarify what employees are saying before drawing conclusions or making assumptions.
  • Keep an open mind even if you disagree with what is being said so you can understand employee concerns. Remember emotions don’t always reside in logic; they reside in anxiety, and that’s what you want to release, not amplify. Evaluate information without bias. Ask questions to hear concerns.
  • Respond rather than react. Acknowledge employees’ issues and points of view; listen actively so that you can respond. Listen to the logic and the emotion-convey that you hear what is being said at all levels.
  • Accept responsibility for the impact of the way you are communicating. Walk the talk-people will know that they can trust you. Say what you mean and mean what you say!
  • Don’t be a people pleaser—speak the truth. Be a change agent. Take timely action. Give constructive feedback.

Understanding how unspoken anxiety is affecting your business and dealing with it by straightening out mixed messages will have a big bottom-line payoff.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Quotations from Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz’s Book “Pour Your Heart Into It”

Howard Schultz‘s Pour Your Heart Into It touches on the best management and business practices and the techniques that Schultz used to found and lead Starbucks to the international coffee corporation it is today.

Starbucks has become an emblem of the current specialty coffee movement and a “hip” lifestyle. Starbucks coffee bars have opened in small towns and major cities alike, first in America, then around the world.

Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz

“Pour Your Heart Into It” Chapter Titles and Lead Quotations

Starbucks is a international coffee house chain with more than 17,000 stores. Founded in 1971 to roast coffee and sell it straight to drinkers at branded shops, it was only a regional company until Howard Schultz purchased it in 1987.

  • Chapter 1: Imagination, Dreams, and Humble Origins
    “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupery in The Little Prince
  • Chapter 2: A Strong Legacy Makes You Sustainable for the Future
    “A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received.”
    Albert Einstein
  • Chapter 3: To Italians, Espresso is Like an Aria
    “Some men see things as they are and say ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were, and say ‘Why not?'”
    George Bernard Shaw, often quoted by Robert F. Kennedy
  • Chapter 4: Luck is the Residue of Design
    “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
    Peter Drucker
  • 'Pour Your Heart Into It' by Howard Schultz (ISBN 0786883561) Chapter 5: Naysayers Never Built a Great Enterprise
    “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”
    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh
  • Chapter 6: The Imprinting of the Company’s Values
    “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
    Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Chapter 7: Act Your Dreams with Open Eyes
    “Those who dream by night in the
    dusty recesses of their minds
    Awake to find that all was vanity;But the dreamers of day are dangerous men,
    That they may act their dreams with open
    eyes to make it possible.”
    T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia)
  • Chapter 8: If it Captures Your Imagination, it Will Captivate Others
    “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, … begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Chapter 9: People are nor a Line Item
    “Wealth is the means and people are the ends. All our material riches will avail us little if we do not use them to expand the opportunities of our people.”
    John F. Kennedy, State of the Union address in January 1962
  • Chapter 10: A Hundred-story Building First Needs a Strong Foundation
    “The builders of visionary companies … concentrate primarily on building an organization—building a ticking clock—rather than on hitting a market just right with a visionary product idea.”
    Jim C. Collins, Built to Last
  • Chapter 11: Don’t Be Threatened by People Smarter Than You
    “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men [and women] to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
    Theodore Roosevelt
  • Chapter 12: The Value of Dogmatism and Flexibility
    “The only sacred cow in an organization should be its basic philosophy of doing business.”
    Thomas J. Watson, Jr. “A Business and Its Beliefs,” quoted in Built to Last

How Starbucks Became Successful

  • Chapter 13: Wall Street Measures a Company’s Price, Not Its Value
    “There are only two guidelines. One, what’s in the long-term best interests of the enterprise and its stakeholders, supplemented by the dominant concern of doing what’s right.”
    Robert D. Haas, President, Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Chapter 14: As Long as You’re Reinventing, How About Reinventing Yourself?
    “The difference between great and average or lousy in any job is, mostly, having the imagination and zeal to re-create yourself daily.”
    Tom Peters, The Pursuit of Wow!
  • Chapter 15: Don’t Let the Entrepreneur Get in the Way of the Enterprising Spirit
    “No organizational regeneration, no national industrial renaissance can take place without individual acts of courage.”
    Harvey A. Hornstein, Managerial Courage
  • Chapter 16: Seek to Renew Yourself Even When You’re Hitting Home Runs
    “To stay ahead, always have your next idea waiting in the wings.”
    Rosabeth Moss Kanter
  • Chapter 17: Crisis of Prices, Crisis of Values
    “It is by presence of mind in untried emergencies that the native metal of a man is tested.”
    James Russell Lowell, “Abraham Lincoln,” in North American Review, ]anuary 1864
  • Chapter 18: The Best Way to Build a Brand is One Person at a Time
    “What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.”
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Table Talk
  • Chapter 19: Twenty Million New Customers are Worth Taking a Risk For
    “Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
    Helen Keller, The Open Door
  • Chapter 20: You Can Grow B1g and Stay Small
    “The fundamental task is to achieve smallness within large organization.”
    E. F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: Economics as If People Mattered
  • Chapter 21: How Socially Responsible Can a Company Be?
    “The evidence seems clear that those businesses which actively serve their many constituencies in creative, morally thoughtful ways also, over the long run, serve their shareholders best. Companies do, in fact, do well by doing good.”
    Norman Lear, Founder of the Business Enterprise Trust, Quoted in David Bollier’s Aiming Higher
  • Chapter 22: How Not to Be a Cookie-cutter Chain
    “Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take risks.”
    Mark Rothko, In The New York Times, June 13, 1943
  • Chapter 23: When They Tell You to Focus, Don’t Get Myopic
    “If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too; …
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”
    Rudyard Kipling, “If”
  • Chapter 24: Lead with Your Heart
    “Leadership is discovering the company’s destiny and having the courage to follow it. … Companies that endure have a noble purpose.”
    Joe Jaworski of the Organizational Learning Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz's 'Pour Your Heart Into It'

Selections from Howard Schultz’s Analysis of Starbucks’ Spectacular Success

Schultz sponsored Starbucks as the “third place,” distinctive from home and work. Many of its shops have comfortable padded chairs and sofas. In recent years they offer free Wi-Fi for customers who want Internet access for their computers. Some Starbucks are in shopping malls, bookstores, supermarkets, college campuses, and airports. Baristas mix a range of coffee drinks.

  • “When you really believe—in yourself, in your dream—you just have to do everything you possibly can to take control and make your vision a reality. No great achievement happens by luck.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “I believe that the best way for an entrepreneur to maintain control is by performing well and pleasing shareholders even if his or her stake is below 50 percent. That risk is far preferable to the danger of heavy debt, which can limit the possibilities for future growth and innovation.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “It’s one thing to dream, but when the moment is right, you’ve got to be willing to leave what’s familiar and go out to find your own sound.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “Whatever your culture, your values, your guiding principles, you have to take steps to inculcate them in the organization early in its life so that they can guide every decision, every hire, every strategic objective you set.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “Every step of the way, I made a point to underpromise and overdeliver. In the long run, that’s the only way to ensure security in any job.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “If you want to build a great enterprise, you have to have the courage to dream great dreams. If you dream small dreams, you may succeed in building something small. For many people, that is enough. But if you want to achieve widespread impact and lasting value, be bold.”
    Howard Schultz
  • 'Onward How Starbucks Fought for Its Life' by Howard Schultz (ISBN 1609613821) “Treat people like family, and they will be loyal and give their all. Stand by people, and they will stand by you. It’s the oldest formula in business, one that is second nature to many family-run firms. Yet in the late 1980s, it seemed to be forgotten.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “While Wall Street has taught me a lot, its most enduring lesson is an understanding of just how artificial a stock price is. It’s all too easy to regard it as the true value of your company, and even the value of yourself.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “At a certain stage in a company’s development, an entrepreneur has to develop into a professional manager. That often goes against the grain.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “Whatever you do, don’t play it safe. Don’t do things the way they’ve always been done. Don’t try to fit the system. If you do what’s expected of you, you’ll never accomplish more than others expect.”
    Howard Schultz

The Recipe to Starbucks Success

The name Starbucks is borrowed from the first mate of the whaling ship in the Herman Melville novel Moby Dick. The logo for Starbucks is also nautical, a siren who in the original image had a mermaid’s tail.

The first Starbucks location opened in the United States, in Pike Place, Seattle in 1971 and the company developed globally with a brand recognition that has been compared to the longer standing, brand-distinctive McDonald’s Fast-food Empire.

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Posted in Business and Strategy Leaders and Innovators

Earning the Right to Lead

Earning the Right to Lead

Becoming a leader within your organization is about more than just a title—it is about earning your right to lead. Leadership has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Leading with authority is no longer an effective way of getting results from your employees. Truly inspired results need to be earned.

Remember, you are not in charge. In order to build a sense of shared purpose among your employees—many of which come from wildly different backgrounds—you need to earn their trust. Demonstrate transparency, a willingness to listen, and be receptive to new ideas. Look at it this way: in earlier days, it was the employee who needed to earn the approval of his or her manager. Now the roles have been reversed. It is you, the manager, who needs to earn the approval of your employees.

It is not easy to put these words into action. Your leadership style is a direct reflection of who you are as an individual. You simply cannot change this with the flick of a switch. Reaching a leadership style that inspires trust among your employees requires practice and awareness. Take the time to learn more about yourself—understand your life experiences, and how they have shaped your leadership style. This simple action will go a long way in changing how you lead your employees.

Leadership is Influence

If leadership is influence, then influence is earned by respect. If you do not have the respect of people, you are not a leader.

  1. Leaders earn respect through integrity. Integrity is a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes. It connotes a deep commitment to do the right thing for the right reason, regardless of the circumstances.
  2. Leaders earn respect through humility. Sincere humility is when a leader has an precise assessment of both his strengths and weaknesses, and he sees all this in the context of the greater whole. This leader is a part of something far vaster than he is. He understands that he is not the center of the universe. In addition, he is both grounded and unshackled by this knowledge. Identifying his abilities, he asks how he can contribute. Diagnosing his flaws, he asks how he can grow.
  3. 'The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader' by John Maxwell (ISBN 0785267964) Leaders earn respect through dependability. Dependability is a significant trait that every leader should exemplify. It is a main building block in developing and maintaining trust, something every leader should wish and pursue. Dependable leaders are reliable and consistent.
  4. Leaders earn respect by living by right priorities. A heart-based leader knows his priorities they know what is urgent and what is not and they create their leadership around it. Explore best practices shared services leaders should employ to meet the demands of a changing environment.
  5. Leaders earn respect through generosity. Generous leaders communicate information willingly, share credit frequently, and give of their time and expertise effortlessly. What come across is a strong work ethic, great communication skills, and a readiness and ability to collaborate. Leaders and managers who are generous produce trust, respect, and goodwill from their colleagues and employees.
  6. Leaders earn respect through spirituality. Spirituality notifies their leadership practices by providing meaning and determination to their leadership role. They perceive and describe themselves as living out sincerely held personal morals of respecting forces or a presence greater than self. These leaders choose to be virtuous leaders in business.

These six areas produce respect. We earn respect through integrity, humility, generosity, spirituality, dependability, and living by priority.

Leadership is influence, but you cannot lead without these issues. They are the basis to build respect. When you have the respect of people, people will follow you anywhere.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Lead with Your Presence by Animating and Engaging People

Lead with Your Presence by Animating and Engaging People

In the military, officer candidates are drilled on the power and practice of the manner of a leader-focused, attentive, and engaged. Command presence is not about control, it is about connection; it is not about power, it is about partnership. Leaders with command presence convey character.

Davy Crockett had command presence. “Crockett seemed to be the leading spirit. He was everywhere,” wrote Enrique Esparza, eyewitness to the Alamo, in a newspaper article following the legendary siege. Great leaders are all about spirit-being, not just doing. They focus on being there, everywhere, not in absentia. And, when they are there, they are all there-focused, attentive, engaged.

Great leaders hunt for genuine encounters. They upset the pristine and proper by inviting vocal customers to boardroom meetings. They spend time in the field and on the floor where the action is lively, not in carefully contrived meetings where the action is limp. They thrive on keeping things genuine and vibrant.

Leadership is being (Spirit)

Leadership is the act of influencing another to achieve important goals. It is not about rank or authority. Authority is the last resort of the inept. Leadership is about being-the conveyance of spirit. “You don’t have to know that Susan is the leader,” a manager said of his leader, “You can feel it the second she walks into the room. A warm connection reaches out of who she is and pulls you in. Some people might call it charisma, I call it caring.”

Spirit-full leaders let go of proving who they are in exchange for being who they are. They are givers whose curious interest in others drives them to be completely absorbed in whoever is on the other end of their conversations. They are patient listeners eager to learn, not anxious to make a point.

Great leaders are passion givers. They embrace the concept embedded in the word and pass it on to others. They show their excitement in the moment and optimism for the future, regardless of how much sleep they got the evening before or their worry over hiccups in the balance sheet. Great leaders are pathfinders who light the way with their positive faith. They would rather facilitate than challenge. They cultivate confidence rather than breed caution.

Leadership is Being There

Leaders are present. They don’t just lead by wandering around; they lead by staying engaged. They don’t just know the facts and figures; they know the stories and struggles. Because they make it their business to do their homework on customers and associates, they can affirm on sight without benefit of cue card or staff whispers. They call associates at home to congratulate them on something important to the associate. They thank customers for their business with sincerity and obvious gratitude. They hold meetings on other’s turf.

Great leaders bring perpetual energy and intensity to encounters. They are always wide awake. When it comes to their role, they are never lazy, disinterested, or indifferent. They care enough to bring their best. They show up in life with completed staff work.

At the annual managers meeting, Macy’s Director of Stores, Randy Scalise, gave out 15 awards to outstanding performers in the Northeast region. On the outside, the awards ceremony looked normal-applause, handshakes, an award presentation, and photos. What was unique was how many stories Randy told about his personal experiences with the award winners. He was an important customer for many of them—he had been there, up close and personal.

Great leaders are passion givers

Leadership is Being All There

The myth of leadership is that of a knight in shining armor without warts or clay feet rushing in to charismatically compel people to greatness through the sheer power of his persona. Real leaders are superior and inadequate, strong, and weak.

“He gives us so much courage,” a senior leader said of Doug Borror, CEO of Dominion Homes, and a large home-builder in Dublin, Ohio. “Doug is not perfect. But, he works hard to be the best he can be. When he makes a mistake, he owns it; he forgives himself so to speak. And he is willing to confess in public. That encourages us to reach for higher goals, knowing that if we fall short reaching for the moon, we’ll still end up among the stars.

Real leaders are real role models-not “be perfect like me” models. They are open about their struggles and invite followers to enlist. Positioning leaders as perfect models is unfair to leaders and disempowers associates. Real leaders stumble and blunder, just like normal people. Greatness comes through self-forgiveness as you “get back on the horse.” Real leaders serve as role models best when they reveal their vulnerability and demonstrate their humanity. When leaders own their mistakes, they signal to all that concealment and CYA antics are deviations from corporate custom.

Davy Crockett held no official position at the Battle of the Alamo. His command was expressed solely through his presence-one that cultivated confidence and promoted passion. Coronal Jim Bowie wrote, “David Crockett has been animating the men to do their duty.” Command presence is the embodiment of animation. And animation is what separates maintenance managers from truly great leaders.

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Posted in Education and Career Life Hacks and Productivity

Small Remedies Reap Big Rewards

When is a dirty bathroom a broken window? This question could govern your success or failure. Answer that question properly—and use that answer as a guiding light—and your business could dominate its competition forever. Ignore the answer, and you will soon reprove your business to failure.

The “broken windows” philosophy was first set forth by criminologists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, deliberating on petty criminal acts like graffiti, purse snatching, or jay walking, and how they can lead to larger crimes such as murder. Something as small as a broken window sends a signal to those who pass by every day. That means more serious breaches—theft, defacement, violent crime—might be overlooked in this area.

If a window in a building is broken and left unrepaired, all other windows will soon be broken since people perceive that the owner of this building and the community around it don’t care if this window is broken: They have given up; disorder reigns here. Do as you will, because nobody cares.

Broken Windows in Business

Pay attention to every detail in leadership That same theory applies to the world of business. If the restroom is out of toilet paper, it gestures that management isn’t paying attention to the needs of its people. Perceptions are a vital part of every business, and if a retailer, service provider, or company sends signals that its approach is lackadaisical, its methods halfhearted, and its execution indifferent, the business could suffer severe—and in some cases, irreparable-losses.

When broken windows are ignored, fatal consequences can result. Small things make a huge difference. A messy reception area might lead customers to believe that the company doesn’t care about cleanliness or quality. We all bear some responsibility to stand up for what we want and have every right to expect from a company to which we give our hard-earned money. In a capitalist society, we assume that a company will do its best to fulfill the desires of its customers. If the company sees sales slipping but doesn’t have data from consumers as to what made them decrease their spending, the company will not know what to fix.

Still, businesses that don’t notice and repair their broken windows should not simply be forgiven because their consumers don’t make a fuss. Leaders are responsible to tend their own house—and the time to repair broken windows is the minute they occur.

Prevent Broken Windows

Since small things can snowball into large problems, smart owners prevent broken windows at—or before—the first sign of trouble.

In a business, the broken windows can be literal or metaphorical. Sometimes a broken window really is a broken window, and a new pane of glass needs to be installed quickly. However, most of the time, broken windows are the little details, the tiny flaws, the overlooked minutiae that signal much larger problems either already in place or about to become reality.

Companies that fail to notice and repair their broken windows suffer greatly. Those that attend to every potentially broken window win.

People want to feel that the businesses that they work for and those they buy from care about what they want. Consumers are looking for businesses that anticipate and fulfill their needs and do so in a way that makes it clear the business understands the consumers’ needs or wants and is doing its best to see them satisfied.

Broken windows indicate to the consumer that the business doesn’t care—either that it is so poorly run it can’t possibly keep up with its obligations, or that it has become so oversized and arrogant that it no longer cares about its core consumer. Either of these impressions can be deadly.

Tiny details—the smaller, the more important—can make a big difference in success or failure. A broken window can be a sloppy counter, poorly located sale item, randomly organized menu, or an employee with a bad attitude. It can be physical, like a flaking paint job, or symbolic, like a policy that requires consumers to pay for customer service.

The Broken Windows Pledge

Small Remedies Reap Big Rewards Broken windows are everywhere, except at the best businesses. I invite you to take the Broken Windows for Business Pledge. It’s a serious statement outlining the tenets of the broken windows for business theory.

  • You can pay attention to every detail.
  • You can correct any broken windows I find in my business, and you can do so immediately, with no hesitation.
  • You can screen, hire, train, and supervise my people to notice and correct broken windows as soon as possible.
  • You can treat each customer like the only customer my business has. You can be on constant vigil for signs of Broken Windows Hubris and never assume my business is invulnerable.
  • You can mystery shop my own business to discover broken windows.
  • You can make sure every customer who encounters my business is met with courtesy, efficiency, and a smile.
  • You can exceed customer expectations.
  • You can make a positive first impression and assume that every impression is a first impression.
  • You can make sure that my online and telephone customer service reps solve a customer’s problem perfectly the first time.
  • You can be obsessive and compulsive when it comes to my business.

If you live up to the promises in the pledge and make them second nature, you will discover your business—and your life—running more smoothly than ever before. You will never look at a broken window-or an unbroken one—the same way again.

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Posted in Management and Leadership Philosophy and Wisdom

How to Foresee Vision-Related Conflicts in Your Company’s Strategic Innovation Framework

How do you uphold growth and profitability in an age in which rivals quickly erode most any competitive advantage? One option is to initiate entirely new businesses.

Consider how some companies have redefined their customer, the value offered, and the delivery method—a process we call strategic innovation:

  • In 1996, General Motors formed a new business unit, OnStar, to commercialize an integrated information, safety, and communications system.
  • In 2001, Procter & Gamble launched Tremor, a new marketing service for other companies.
  • In 2003, the Walt Disney Company introduced Moviebeam, a wireless, no-hassle, in home video rental store.

How to Foresee Vision-Related Conflicts in Your Company's Strategic Innovation Framework If you follow several such innovation stories—each a tale of a new businesses (New_Company) within established and successful organization (Core_Parent_Company). You will be less interested in where the path-breaking ideas came from than how companies managed the process of going from idea to profitability. Nurturing creativity within an organization usually merits a great deal of attention, but the need for creativity is high only at the beginning of New_Company’s life. Once a business plan is in place, the need for creativity begins to decay rapidly.

An entirely new approach is needed—one that emphasizes neither the creativity that inspires New_Company’s launch nor the discipline that Core_Parent_Company demands to deliver bottom-line results.

New_Company Faces Three Distinct Challenges in Its Journey from Idea to Profitability

  • Forgetting: New_Company’s business model is invariably different from Core_Parent_Company’s model. The answers to the most fundamental business questions—Who is the customer? What value do we offer? How do we deliver it?—are intensely different. The essence of the forgetting challenge is ensuring that Core_Parent_Company’s success formula is not imported to New_Company.
  • Borrowing: New_Company’s biggest advantage over its competition is the wealth of resources and assets within Core_Parent_Company. The essence of the borrowing challenge is gaining access to these resources, and doing so in a way that does not damage Core_Parent_Company’s own commitment to excellence.
  • Learning: New_Company’s business is highly uncertain. It must methodically resolve the specific unknowns within its approach as quickly as possible, and zero in on the best possible approach. Learning requires an entirely different approach to planning.

All three challenges obviously create tensions. To forget, New_Company must be distinct from Core_Parent_Company. At the same time, to borrow, New_Company must be linked to Core_Parent_Company.

At points of interaction, stress inherently arises unswervingly because of the differences in business models, values, styles, and priorities. Learning also leads to stress, because it requires an analytical discipline—much different from the operational discipline of execution and performance.

These are the types of tensions that can be healthy for New_Company, and when a corporation achieves them well, the journey from idea to profitability is a smooth one.

But is it worth the risk? Contemplate the risk of the alternative—sticking to the knitting—a choice that inevitably leads to decay. Without growth, CEOs lose jobs, employees stagnate, organizations become stale, and competitiveness languishes. Strategic innovation, on the other hand, can deliver breakthrough growth and generate new life-cycle curves. It enables companies to stay ahead of change by creating, growing, and profiting from new business models.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

CEO Jobs are Dramatically Hard: Grow Leadership Talent from Within

CEO Jobs are Dramatically Hard: Grow Leadership Talent from Within

About 40 percent of CEOs disappoint within 18 months. These probabilities, plus demands placed on leaders, have caused a recession in senior executives who want the top position (from 50 to 35 percent in the last four years). Furthermore, CEO turnover is at a five-year high.

Who will lead companies in the future? This question has caused a leadership succession and development agitation. Boards are more apprehensive about finding executive talent wherever they can.

In his book Searching for a Corporate Savior, Rakesh Khurana, professor at Harvard University, proposes that looking outside for a CEO successor is part of a growing “irrational quest for charismatic chief executives” (selection of outside CEOs has gone from 6 to 50 percent in recent years). Fearing boards may be concentrating on the qualities of presence, personality, and media appeal rather than character and competence, he gives seven guidelines for finding successors:

  1. abandon hope for a corporate savior
  2. translate company strategy into operational terms
  3. identify skills required for key activities (activity/competency mapping)
  4. assess internal candidates
  5. search for external candidates
  6. test and choose from a short-list
  7. calibrate goals, milestones, and compensation to drivers of success.

'Searching for a Corporate Savior' by Rakesh Khurana (ISBN 0691120390) Khurana supports internal development of candidates, but admits that developing home-grown talent is not the only course.

After studying 276 companies that have decent track records at growing home-grown talent, The Corporate Leadership Counsel defined seven Hallmarks of Leadership Success:

  1. a culture of development
  2. enforcing development
  3. recruiting senior executives
  4. the power of meritocracy
  5. full business exposure for rising executives
  6. a focus on leadership skills in successor identification
  7. succession management.

Companies that are great at developing future leaders invest much time in fostering a candidate pool. As managers gain the essential training, coaching, on-the-job experience, they join an internal pool of high-potential candidates. But what divides the good processes from great ones is an emphasis on self-development.

'The Hero's Farewell' by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld (ISBN 0195065832) Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, former Dean of the Yale School of Management, calls this “an unrelenting drive for self-improvement.” You spot senior talent not just from their activities, but how they attain them. When great companies search for talent, they look for certain qualities.

In his book The Hero’s Farewell, Sonnenfeld classifies executives as Monarchs, Generals, Ambassadors, and Governors. Each has distinctive exit behavior related to the manner in which they identify with the title and role of CEO. Of these, three of the four classifications cause problems for incoming CEOs.

  1. Monarchs stay on the job until they die or are overthrown
  2. Generals leave reluctantly and look for ways to return to active service
  3. Ambassadors leave gracefully but maintain active, low-key relationships in the company
  4. Governors leave and go on to serve in other areas.

Monarchs suppress internal talent development because they can’t endure contest for their roles. Generals and ambassadors often restrict with or undermine incoming CEOs. Unluckily, boards tolerate monarch, general, and ambassador behavior.

All this leads me to conclude: Work harder on growing internal talent. You can improve your odds beyond 50:50 by doing the hard, but rewarding, work of developing more leaders internally.

While companies must often look outside for talent, having an effective process for developing leaders guarantees that you will have great candidates when the time comes to add or replace executive talent.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Marissa Mayer’s Office Hours at Google

'Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo' by Nicholas Carlson (ISBN 1455556610) For about 90 minutes a day, beginning at 4:00 pm, Mayer used to hold office hours at Google. She was a professor before she came to Google, and she kept office hours going. The much-vaunted “open office” for engineers, where bringing brownies increases a project’s chance of approval by 50%. Google’s Marissa Mayer cleared an hour and a half of her diary at the end of each day and staff could book an amount of that time by putting their name on a board in front of her office. This permitted her to supposedly fit a large number of very short meetings into a block of time where employees could come and talk to her about anything. Get-togethers which evidently emerged interesting product ideas counting Google News. A decent option perhaps than filling too much time up with the half hour/one hour blocks that managers tend to segment their calendars into, or to keeping an completely open door guidelines which might lead to excessively common interlude. Per this noteworthy anecdote from Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo by Nicholas Carlson:

Another Mayer habit that annoyed colleagues was one she picked up straight from academia. For many years at Google, Mayer insisted that if her colleagues wanted to meet with her, they had to do so during her “office hours.” Mayer would post a spreadsheet online and ask peopl~ to sign up for a five-minute window. When Mayer’s “office hours” rolled around in the afternoon, a line would start to form outside her office and spill over onto the nearby couches.

Office hours are socially-acceptable in an academic environment because the power dynamic is clear. The students are subordinate to the professor, who is usually their elder and mentor. But Mayer’s office hours were not just for her subordinates; they were also for her peers. So there, amid the associate product managers waiting to visit with Mayer to discuss their latest assignment or a class trip to Zurich, sat Google vice presidents—people who had been at the company as long as Mayer and in some cases held jobs as important as hers.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

How to Build Lean and Agile Management

How to Build Lean and Agile Management

Hierarchical is out; horizontal is in.

There’s no room today for the multiple layers, slow decision making, and dependence on leaders. Successful organizations are characterized by consultation, collaboration, and cross-functional problem-solving, decision-making, and planning.

Why are horizontal organizations so much more nimble? Extended product development cycles are replaced by rapid movement from design to market; decision-making bottlenecks are eliminated; leaders empower and delegate; and the focus is on the success of the business, not individual functions.

Horizontal Leadership Success

Leaders intent on this transition must take four actions:

  1. Horizontal Leadership Success Look into the mirror. The top team sets the tone. Before expecting others to “go horizontal,” senior managers must ask, “What are the decision-making patterns on our team?” “To what extent do we see ourselves as accountable and responsible for one another’s success and for the outcomes of our team?” “Do we depersonalize conflict and confront one another honestly and openly?” If the president is still calling the shots; if team members are constantly lobbying for resources; or if internal conflict has brought decision making to a halt-it’s time to practice what we preach.
  2. Align all your teams-beginning at the top. Raising team performance and refraining team behavior begins with alignment. Ask seven questions to determine whether or not a team is aligned: Does the team have clear goals? Are those goals aligned with the strategy? Do all team members know who is responsible for what and how they will be held accountable? Are protocols or rules of engagement agreed upon so everyone knows how decisions will be made? Are rules in place for how conflict will be managed? Are relationships between and among team members healthy and transparent? Do people assert their point of view honestly and openly and treat disagreement not as a personal attack but as a business case?
  3. Shift from commanding to influencing. In the new paradigm, the one who wins isn’t the person with the most clout, but the one who possesses the right strategic instinct, content capability, rapport, and persuasion. When Susan Fullman was director of distribution for United Airlines, she was a cross-functional player in a hierarchical context. Her success hinged on her ability to influence rather than command: “I had to sell my vision to each director. And I couldn’t do that without learning to clearly articulate my ideas, depersonalize the way I made my case, develop my powers of persuasion-and learn to listen to each person and address their concerns.”
  4. Become a player-centered leader. The horizontal organization calls for a shift in the role of the leader to a new “player-centered” model. The question becomes: How prepared are the players to handle increased authority and responsibility? As teams proliferate and decision making becomes decentralized, people must step up. Managers must know each person’s capabilities and skills and adjust his or her “style” accordingly.

'Lead with Lean' by Michael Balle (ISBN 154480844) For example, when managing an inexperienced team leader, a senior manager needs to provide a high level of direction, structure, and support; but as team leaders become more competent, the senior manager can adopt a more hands-off style. The goal should be to inspire and empower, not prescribe or direct. Provide coaching and collaboration as each player requires.

Many leaders talk about decentralization, delayering, and empowerment. But decisions continue to be made by the CEO; functional heads are still vying for resources; and further down are vacationers and victims.

Horizontal organizations are more states of mind than states of matter. It’s not as much about titles and boxes as it is about every employee showing up, every day, as an energized, strategically focused team member.

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Posted in Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology

Leadership Learning

Leadership Learning

The two most precious assets in the professional service firm are the capabilities of our people and the use of their time to produce results for the client. A delicate balance arises. Leaders require continual skill building, but time to learn is limited.

We discovered opportunities to leverage time in leadership development in a blended-learning solution.

Leaders learn the most on the job. So, target and pursue learning that extends the applications of key leadership capabilities on teams, in projects, and with clients. By employing multiple methods of learning, you can craft a leadership learning strategy that is delivered in a blended solution.

There are five steps to develop a blended model of learning:

  1. 'Hacking Leadership' by Joe Sanfelippo (ISBN 0986104949) Link learning to the core values. The clients’ experience of the firm’s core values is their relationship with each professional who represents the brand.
  2. Ensure that the business strategy is driving the learning agenda. The knowledge of critical client-service leadership capabilities and respect for time informs decisions on content and design.
  3. Conduct needs analysis and determine current capability levels. We conduct analysis on our shared competencies globally in 34 countries to determine where the real-time learning opportunities produce the maximum results.
  4. Select content and design a learning continuum. Our leadership roles model encompasses the capabilities required for success. This provides a framework for the leadership learning content. We designed a fully blended model to support the learning. The core of the model is Vision and the foundation Eminence and Expertise. Business and client Results are the target outcomes. Key roles of leaders and a selection of the primary skills required include:
    • Relationship builder: emotional intelligence, negotiation, trust and authenticity, consensus building
    • Communicator: influence, persuasion, listening, presence, storytelling
    • Innovator: change leader, creativity, custom solutions, risk taker
    • Global citizen: integrity, responsibility, diversity, global relationship network
    • Mentor/coach: developing next generation talent, coaching performance
    • Decision-maker: strategic analysis of options and courage to act, even when information is incomplete
  5. 'Learning Leadership' by James Kouzes (ISBN 1119144280) Extend the learning beyond the classroom to the job. Provide quality learning through on-line learning resources and coaching that is available just-in-time through a technology learning platform that gives access 24/7 to prime quality learning, when leaders need it and how it best works for them. This platform supports the blended leadership learning that is delivered over time in four main steps.
    • Launch leadership learning with a virtual class. A virtual class establishes the community of learning and values everyone’s time.
    • Push out self-paced online learning. A rich combination of online leadership assessment and individual leadership style report, e-learning, with readings and resources, are provided with opportunities to interact with coaches.
    • Conduct the classroom program. This highly valuable time is focused on knowledge exchange, problem-solving, action planning, practice application of new skills, performance coaching, building the culture, and networking.
    • Support on-the-job learning with targeted online learning. A combination of performance goal setting, dialogue with performance coaches, and availability of targeted online, self-paced learning incorporates learning on-the-job.

A leadership learning map offers just-in-time learning. Our experience has proven to us the power of extending leadership learning beyond the classroom.

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Posted in Management and Leadership