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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Heart-warming to know Sir Alex Ferguson sees the true value of defeat

This is an excellent article showing why Sir Alex Ferguson has such a record of success as the manager of Manchester United -


Are you a Leader or a Manager?

Find out whether you are a leader or a manager by answering these questions -


Leadership Best Practice

These are examples of best practice used by successful leaders. Some of these may already be in your toolkit, others you may have forgotten. Keep this list handy as a reminder of time tested solutions that will make you and your team shine.

1. Use the Power of the Pen.
Recognition is the number one motivator. A simple thank you note is more important than money to most people. Break out the fancy pen you got for your birthday and say thanks to the people who helped to get you there.

2. Understand the Importance of Emotions.
Feelings are a part of daily life and daily business. When people get hurt feelings they become poor performers, so make sure you deal with these issues sooner rather than later.

3. Great leaders have one thing in common - Passion!
If you're not turned-on about what you're doing your team won't be either, so show them that you're excited and watch them get fired up.

4. Communication is the most important thing in any business relationship.
If you don't use effective Business Communication Skills you're leaving money on the table and not getting the most out of your people. Don't be afraid to take a brush-up course and listen to hints from those who are in the positions you want. Chances are they got there because they're great communicators.

5. Do a Company Evaluation at least once a year.
Ask your team members to respond in writing to important questions like, "What do we need to change?" and "What do we need to keep doing more of?" This is your most powerful tool for a fifty thousand-foot view of your business.

6. Create a Company Mentoring Program.
Every person in and entering your company should have a mentor. A mentor's job is to help a new or junior staff member feel welcomed as well as to answer any questions. Having a mentor builds confidence and creates motivation to go above and beyond.

7. Make sure your teams are balanced with both Innovators and Implementers.
If everyone on a team is an Innovator, nothing will get done. Similarly, a team of only Implementers will create nothing new. Make sure you have a balanced team.

8. Remember that Customer Service Rocks.
The two most profitable customer service tips people use are; first, a full return/refund policy, which eliminates risk on the part of your client and encourages them to "step up to the plate". Second, never say "NO" to clients. This policy creates the opportunity for you and your client to find other ways to do business together, rather than you telling them you can't or don't provide a particular service or product.

9. Achieve goals by getting team member buy-in.
If your people have input into your goals they will put more energy into helping you achieve them. Ask them what they think and you'll get their dedication in return.

10. Implement a Knowledge Lunch.
Keep your team up to date by having a lunch meeting once a month where you discuss your business. You can even bring in vendors and external advisors to help keep your team connected and current.

11. Deal appropriately with Fear in the Workplace.
When team members are in fear for their livelihood, they do not perform at their highest level. Providing a forum to safely talk about these fears will go a long way toward helping achieve superior performance.

12. Don't just be a manager, be an Evangelist.
You need to believe in what you and your company are doing and to share the power of that belief with your team members. A good leader can't become great if they don't inspire faith in their company.

13. Pursue Failure.
Failure is not an ending, it is a stepping stone to the right answer. Stop beating yourself up for mistakes and see them as an opportunity to begin again with additional information, knowledge and experience.

14. Remember that the Fish Stinks from the Head Down.
That means that you are responsible for everything that goes right, and anything that goes wrong. Remembering that leadership is the most important component of your business, and that the buck stops with you will help you keep your "fish" fresh.

15. Having Fun Increases Productivity and Profit.
In companies where people have fun, the productivity and the profit are higher. The American Psychological Association has published surveys about this, and it¹s a fact. Take the example of Southwest Airlines - do you know that "a sense of humour" is on their job application?!

16. Beware of Invalidation.
The number one motivation killer is making a team member feel "less than". If you mistakenly say the wrong thing to someone, apologize immediately. You'll look like a responsible leader rather than an insensitive bully.

17. Learn to maintain your composure under pressure.
Thomas Jefferson said, "Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain cool and unruffled under all circumstances."

18. Join a Mastermind group.
To keep your skills sharp and get answers to difficult questions get into a group of non-competing peers. The greatest minds in business have used Mastermind Groups to help them excel in their chosen fields.

19. Learn to ask Powerful Questions.
The right question at the right time can eliminate major problems or help a team member find the best answer available.

20. Learn to Deal with Difficult People.
There are specific techniques to deal with different types of people. Learn how to tell avoidance from arrogance and denial from insecurity.

These tried and true twenty tips will help guide you to make the right decisions at the right times, for the right reasons. Leadership is an art form, and the best of the best use many of these proven techniques.

Learning from Failure

Failure is a great start. This may seem ridiculous to someone in the throes of a professional defeat, particularly if they’re used to succeeding. Yet at the heart of a loss is an opportunity, one that a leader doesn’t hesitate to seize. While it’s easy to get caught up in negativity, don’t dwell on what others may think of your defeat, and don’t pitch a tent in your own fear about it. Leadership means finding the blessing in the defeat. Your response to a failure, more so than any success, points the way to achieving your full potential as a leader. As Michael Dell (the founder and ceo of Dell Computer Corporation) says; 'at Dell, innovation is all about taking risks and learning from failure.'

•Reflect on a recent failure, loss, or defeat. How did you respond to it? Did you get caught up in the externals of it / did you try to sidestep it? Or did you find new possibilities in it?

•What shift in your own beliefs about inevitable professional loss or failure would allow you to see them as openings for a better future for yourself and your organisation?

The Top Five Managerial Fallacies Concerning Layoff Survivors

Today’s epidemic of layoffs requires managers to formulate strategies that will help their organisations recover from the ravages of downsizing and return to productivity and in order to do that, they need to reevaluate some misperceptions associated with downsizing.

Here are the top five layoff fallacies (according to author David Noer) along with critical managerial strategic responses:

1. Fallacy: There is a direct relationship between reducing “people costs” and organizational productivity. A layoff on a Friday will result in productivity gains on the following Monday.

Reality: The overwhelming consensus of downsizing research is that layoffs do not achieve their going in productivity goals. Survivors of most organisations are angry, depressed, anxious and fearful. They are not able or willing to take risks or focus on increasing customer service. At the very time organisations need them to be the most creative and energetic; they lie down in the trenches, absorbed in their own toxic survivor symptoms.

Strategic Response: Organisations need to move beyond layoff administration and planning into formulating strategies for layoff recovery. This involves re-recruiting demoralized employees and working to help them overcome debilitating survivor emotions.

2. Fallacy: Survivors will work hard because they will be grateful that they were lucky enough to keep their jobs.

Reality: Layoff survivors are not motivated by luck. In fact, evidence is clear that the opposite happens – they are demotivated by survivor guilt and its cousins: anxiety and depression.

Strategic Response: Managers need to examine and, if necessary, reframe their assumptions concerning survivor motivation. In order to return to productivity, survivors need coaching and empathy. Reminding layoff survivors that they should be grateful won’t motivate them; it will only make them feel deeper levels of survivor guilt.

3. Fallacy: Organisational leaders should not tolerate any whining and complaining.

Reality: Without the healthy externalisation of layoff induced anger, fear, and anxiety, employees will remain crippled by layoff survivor sickness. In fact, research shows their symptoms will get worse.

Strategic Response: Counter cultural though it may be, managers need to develop organisationally sanctioned processes that facilitate the venting of repressed feelings and emotions. Healthy venting is a necessary means to the end of moving employees back to productivity.

4. Fallacy: In tough times, the most effective managers “suck it up,” are tough minded, and don’t tolerate “touchy-feely” distractions.

Reality: “Sucking it up” is precisely the wrong strategy for dealing with downsising, change, and transition. It is a defense mechanism - a form of evasion that anchors behaviour in the past and prevents productive engagement and personal growth.

Strategic Response: Leadership in the post-layoff environment is a helping, not a controlling relationship, and requires reaching out, not closing down and hiding behind a facade of toughness and control. Organisations that have successfully helped employees rebound from the trauma of layoffs have required their managers to learn and apply basic helping skills.

5. Fallacy: Once things get back to normal, the epidemic of downsisings will stop and job security will return.

Reality: We are experiencing a fundamental shift in the psychological contract that connects employee to employer. When the economy becomes more positive, the frequency of mass layoffs will diminish, but long-term, lifetime employment with one organisation is a thing of the past.

Strategic Response: It is important that the wrong message not be communicated. Managers need to emphasize that employees will have to rely on maintaining transferable marketable skills and continually cultivate their professional network. That will provide the only true employment security in the brave new world of the new psychological employment contract.

Managers today are operating within a pandemic of layoffs. It is essential that they formulate strategies that help re-recruit organisational survivors. Confronting the fallacies concerning layoffs and formulating strategies to facilitate a return to organisational productivity and employee motivation will directly impact competitive advantage and sustainability.

Leadership Development

Economic turmoil. Global competition. Shrinking markets and margins. Layoffs, increasing cynicism and mistrust.

These difficult times require exceptional leadership.

We understand the challenges leaders at all levels face in staying true to their personal convictions, acting swiftly in times of uncertainty, being accountable for the business - and all the while inspiring others to greatness.

Although traditional management skills and business competence get executives promoted, research indicates that being trustworthy, showing empathy and creating meaning are the characteristics that differentiate truly exceptional leaders.

It’s not an either-or proposition. These leaders integrate what appear to be paradoxical leadership characteristics of Competence and Connection:

  • Business Aptitude and Trustworthiness
  • Internal Attunement and External Attunement
  • Clarity and Depth
  • Responsibility and Empathy
These leaders also modify their behaviour to respond to the needs of their followers and the circumstances they encounter – while simultaneously remaining true to who they are. They don’t try to emulate celebrity CEOs or bosses they admire. They understand that leadership is a relationship with their followers.

Are You Practicing Positive Leadership?

Over the past decade, scientists have explored the impact of positive-to-negative interaction ratios in our work and personal life. And they have found that this ratio can be used to predict — with remarkable accuracy — everything from workplace performance to divorce. This work began with noted psychologist John Gottman’s exploration of positive-to-negative ratios in marriages. Using a 5:1 ratio, which Gottman dubbed “the magic ratio,” he and his colleagues predicted whether 700 newlywed couples would stay together or divorce by scoring their positive and negative interactions in one 15-minute conversation between each husband and wife. Ten years later, the follow-up revealed that they had predicted divorce with 94% accuracy.

So what is the optimal positive-to-negative ratio in organisations? A recent study by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson and mathematician Marcial Losada found that work teams with a PNR greater than 3:1 were significantly more productive than workgroups that did not reach this ratio. Positive emotions, however, need to be grounded in reality: Their research also uncovered an upper limit for positive-to-negative ratios of 13:1. When workgroups exceed that PNR, things are likely to worsen; completely blind optimism can be counterproductive — and downright annoying — in some cases.

But managers shouldn’t worry about breaking the upper limit. The levels of positive emotions in most organisations are woefully inadequate and leave substantial room for improvement.

Leaders need to be very conscious of how their emotions and behaviour impacts their followers. As mentioned leaders need to actively manage the tension between “being positive” and the need to “face reality”. To manage this tension positive leaders remain engaged, but focus on the future they’re trying to create. Always accepting responsibility to be the difference they want to see in others.

How positive are your interactions? What’s your ratio? Have you consciously chosen to be positive?

Classic CEO 'Pitchmen'

Ever since former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca appeared on US TV ads in the early 1980s, daring viewers to buy a better car if they could find it, there have been waves of corporate chiefs 'going Hollywood'. Here are a few classics with links to commercials:



“R-E-S-P-E-C-T….Find out what it means to me.” Aretha Franklin

If you were to take a look at 100 corporate value statements, you would most likely find the word “respect” on at least 90% of them. Respect usually ends up high on the list of those “what do employees value most” lists. Everyone wants and deserves a little respect at work, especially from their leaders.

So what does it mean to show respect as a leader?

R = Relationships. Do you have a transactional relationship with your employees? That is, you pay them X pounds, and they give you Y amount of work? Are they just another “human resource” to you? Or have you taken the time to cultivate a relationship, based on mutual respect and support?

E = Everyone counts, no matter who they are, at any level in the organization. Great leaders don’t selectively dole out respect, in a way that serves their own agendas. Want to judge the true character of a leader? Watch how they treat the cleaning people.

S = Support your employees. This means making sure they are paid fairly, are given the resources needed to do their jobs, barriers are removed, and sponsorship is obtained for their work. When they succeed, let everyone know. When they make a mistake, stand by them.

P = Please and thank-you. As a manager, you don’t have to ask your employees to do anything – you can simply order them. As a leader, if you treat them as if they do have a choice, they’ll end up exceeding your expectations. Saying thanks and showing sincere appreciation is another way to show respect. Most managers think they do a good job at this…. most employees think they don’t. Try doing it until it feels like overkill, and then you can pull back if people start complaining (it’s rarely happened).

E = Encourage every employee to grow and develop, in order to reach their full potential. Be a coach, a mentor, and a teacher. Set aside time on a regular basis for career and development discussions. Help your employees become more that they thought they could ever become. Better yet, help them become greater than yourself.

C = Care. That’s right, care about your employees. Care about their success at work, their families, their health, their goals, and their satisfaction. Here’s a test: do you know the names of your employee’s children? Do you give them a card on their birthday? What’s the first thing you do you do when an employee or family member becomes seriously ill? Ask how soon they can get back to work, because there are important project deadlines that can’t be missed? Or organize a delivery of flowers and food to their home?

T = Treat people how they want to be treated (the platinum rule), not how you want to be treated (the golden rule).