Thursday, 3 December 2009

Seminars on DVD - Great Offer

I have just had an email from Michael Jeffreys at Seminars on DVD that there is a 50% sale on all products from now through to December 10th. Simply process your order as normal and add the coupon code IMPACT on checkout.

And these DVDs are great value anyway with some of the top business, leadership and personal development gurus of our time bringing you high impact seminars for only a fraction of the cost of being there.

Click here to browse the Seminars on DVD range.

Monday, 30 November 2009

The Icing on the Cake

I had the pleasure last week of attending the Institute of Recruitment Professionals annual award dinner, courtesy of my client, Derek Goff of Advanced Resource Managers who had been nominated for the Best People Development Business Award 2009. And I am delighted to say that it turned out to be a winning nomination!

But being recognised in this way is really just the icing on the cake for what has been a hugely successful investment in both leadership development and talent management. Like most recruitment companies ARM were facing challenging economic conditions at the start of the year but while others were cutting costs, this Havant based recruiter was investing in its people. Here's a summary of what worked so well:

  1. The company made a proactive investment in people development during a recession.

  2. The program was driven from the top, embraced and supported by the whole senior leadership team.

  3. The program was divided into two halves - a leadership development program for existing people managers and a talent development program for prospective managers.

  4. The program was designed and delivered on a modular basis so that delegates could apply their learning between modules and I could review their experiences at the beginning of the next module.

  5. Derek Goff, the Learning and Development Manager, attended each module so that he could provide ongoing coaching support.

  6. The leadership program was aligned with the Chartered Management Institute's professional qualifications so that staff could receive formal recognition of their achievement.
But the aspect that impressed me most was the overall attitude and application of the staff attending each module. These were busy people who have faced a challenging business environment all year and yet they produced a 100% attendance record and worked together between modules to ensure key concepts and principles were being applied in their day-to-day activities.

Not surprisingly, the company, the managers and their staff are reaping the rewards of all this as they set themselves to come out of a tough economic climate stronger than they went in. From my perspective, it was a pleasure to have worked with ARM, designing and delivering both the leadership and talent development programs and providing additional coaching support when required.

In an industry where less than 1% of annual turnover is invested in staff training, it is refreshing to see a company reverse the trend. The real prize is the positive impact on the business and people's careers and while it is nice, last week's award is really just the icing on the cake.

From Left to Right:
Derek Goff, Learning & Development Manager ARM
Samantha Templer, Human Resources Manager ARM

Simon Cooper, Program Facilitator
Joel Hard, a member of the talent development group who has since been promoted to Team Leader

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The problem with promoting your best people

I recently appeared on the Sales Roundup Podcast discussing the problems and challenges of promoting top sales people to the role of sales manager - a problem that is magnified with a failure rate as high as 50%. This problem is not restricted solely for promoting the best sales people but can be extended to a wide range of expert doers from I.T. to finance and just about any specialist or professional discipline.

The major challenge faced by expert doers being promoted to management or leadership roles is making the transition from doing the job themselves to getting it done through others - often, people who are not (yet) as good as doing the job as they were. This presents significant issues around delegating to others, training or coaching others, making performance interventions, helping others to solve their own problems, trusting and empowering the team, motivating others. In short, it is a steep learning curve and one that all first-time managers have to go through.

But, here's the kicker...

Many expert doers don't really want to be managers but rather, it is the only career path available to them if they want to be promoted.

On the one hand, companies need to consider creating expert career paths that do not include managing others, enabling expert doers to progress and add value in other ways. On the other hand, when promoting expert doers to management roles, companies need to invest time and resources in training and supporting them through the transition. The key learning areas are likely to be:

- How to manage and motivate others.
- How to move from self-centred behaviour to team-centred behaviour.
- How to create an environment where results are delivered by others.
- How to help others learn and solve their own problems.
- How to let go of the doing.

This training should be at the point they need it - either just before or at the time of making the transition to management. Ongoing support or coaching should be provided through the first year or two in a management role. And if it doesn't work out, a route back to being an expert doer should be made available.

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is the author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Where are the Hot Spots in your company?

"You always know when you are in a Hot Spot. You feel energized and vibrantly alive. Your brain is buzzing with ideas and the people around you share your joy and excitement. The energy is palpable, bright, shining."

This is an extract from the excellent book Hot Spots by Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice at London Business School. Dr Gratton's research is based on a number of in-depth case studies and Cooperative Advantage Research in collaboration with executives and teams from seventeen companies. The aim was to explore why some companies buzz with energy and innovation and others don't.

In conclusion, Dr Gratton found that there were four key elements:

Element 1 - A cooperative mindset. This is the basic assumption and expectation of ourselves and others that we will behave in a coopertaive and supportive manner.

Element 2 - Boundary spanning. For true Hot Spots to emerge, initial networks need to expand from immediate colleagues to stretch across the boundaries of groups, functions and companies.

Element 3 - Igniting purpose. An igniting purpose provides the focus for the energy that has been created and can be triggered by an igniting vision, an igniting question or an igniting task.

Element 4 - Productive capacity. For value to be created from a Hot Spot, there needs top be an emphasis on productive practices. Depending on the complexity of the Hot Spot this might include appreciating talents, making commitments, resolving conflicts, synchronizing time and establishing a rhythm.

Dr Gratton then goes on to consider the leader's role in Hot Spots, designing for the emergence of Hot Spots and resources for creating Hot Spots. It is a truly innovative and ground breaking study of teams and organizations that are a cut above the rest and includes some excellent case studies, examples and anecdotes that bring the text and concepts alive.

Hot Spots can be purchased online

and you can visit the Hot Spots website

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is the author of Brilliant Leader, the best selling leadership development book.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Are you getting that Coach Energy?

Why is it that some leaders love personal coaching and absolutely swear by it and others reject it as unnecessary and a waste of time?

There might be many reasons of course but one significant factor became apparent to me recently when I was having a discussion with some colleagues about the Wilson Learning Social Styles Model - you know, the one that breaks our preferred communication styles down into Driver, Expressive, Amiable and Analyst.

One of the traits that most coaches seem to share is what I refer to as 'coach energy', a vibrant, open and engaging communication style that is apparent as soon as they walk into the room. This translates pretty well into the social styles model and indicates that many coaches share a natural preference for the Expressive style. But this could be a problem if you have a strong preference for one of the other styles. You might see expressive coaches as unfocused (Driver), intimidating (Amiable) or shallow (Analyst). In turn, this might see you spurn the services of a leadership coach, even though you might need one more than you realise.

Of course, the best coaches develop an intuitive ability to adapt their style for different types of people. And we should not forget that the social styles model is just one lens through which we can view character traits and communication styles. Nonetheless, it highlights one of the reasons why some leaders totally buy-in to their coach and others don't.

While 'coach energy' can be infectious and motivating, it can also have the reverse effect on some, especially those with a strong preference to communicate in a different style.

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is the author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

How Expensive is Poor Leadership?

More than you think...

Retaining talented employees should be a major focus for companies these days. I have heard over the years, that “anyone is replaceable.” When I was a young engineer fresh out college, I believed it myself. There were over 50 engineers in my graduating class and I was competing for jobs like they were. We had very similar skills and backgrounds and I knew I had to separate myself from them so an employer would hire me and not them. Even a couple years after college, I still believed that I could be replaced at any moment by fresh new talent.

It has been drilled into our heads over the years that we are replaceable and we have to conduct ourselves in a way that borders on humiliation. I took my first leadership role over a year ago after working for a few companies that really did not value the contributions of their people. Overtime and chaos was name of their games. Fortunately, those experiences allowed me to create my own leadership philosophy that centers on the fact that my people are not replaceable.

Employee turnover is very expensive. I recently was invited to speak at the Talent Management and Succession Planning Conference on creating a work life balance for employees to motivate and retain good talent. My emphasis will be on the importance of creating a pleasant work environment where leaders and employees respect each other. People will generally stay with a company if they are treated fairly, are given legitimate challenges, and feel their contributions are recognized.

The best way to illustrate the cost of poor leadership is give an example of what it takes today to hire a mid-level engineer. First, the engineer’s resume would cost the company around $15,000 provided it is coming from a recruiter. Today, many professionals move around the country, so the company would offer a full relocation package that would include moving of household items, vehicles, and pets. This would cost around $8,000. Then the employer would cover travel expenses including airfare, temporary housing, rental cars, and maybe thirty days of living expenses during the transition. I will be modest here and say that would cost around $5,000. Many employers also cover closing costs on both selling and buying of a home that could run as high as $10,000 total. Finally the engineer may be offered a starting bonus of $2,000. So, before the employer even starts paying the engineer his or her $65,000 a year salary and before the new employee steps in the door they have paid out around $40,000. This is a very large investment and I have seen many people in these positions quit after ten months to a year from poor leadership in a hostile work environment. Now the company has to do this routine all over again.

Good leadership is the key to retaining good employees and bad managers will only drive them away. As a leader myself, I cannot afford high turnover. I invest time and money into enhancing my people to be better employees. It becomes expensive to keep hiring people and training them to be productive and successful employees. I realize employees leave companies for a variety of other reasons. However, I can still do my part to make their work life a pleasant one.

Guest writer Chris Ortiz is a senior lean consultant and the owner of Kaizen Assembly. He has spent the majority of his professional career working for Fortune 500 companies, teaching and guiding them to become more efficient businesses. He has designed and constructed well over 100 assembly lines and other manufacturing processes resulting in millions of dollars in cost savings and waste reduction. Chris can be reached at or visit his company's website at

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Seminars on DVD

Part of continuously developing your capability as a leader requires that you keep up to date with developments in the leadership world. Of course, following blogs like this will help, along with reading the latest leadership books. But what about those great seminars you are invited to but don't get round to attending or those you would have attended but didn't hear about in time?

These are the keynote seminars by the thought leaders and gurus of our time. We all know the problems - no time, no budget, wrong part of the world - but these are the type of seminars that can have a profound impact on your own development and the success of your business. So, shouldn't you really find out about what you might be missing?

I am delighted to announce that we have teamed up with Seminars on DVD - an exclusive service that enables you to keep up to date with the latest business and leadership seminars by having them shipped to you on DVD. Watch them at your own convenience (and watch the key parts over again!) at just a fraction of the cost of attending in person. Each keynote seminar on DVD costs just $89 but there are significant reductions if you are buying more than one.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be reviewing some of the most powerful of these seminars from globally recognised names such as Mike Lipkin, Tony Allesandra, Dr Nate Booth, Warren Greshes, Jack Canfield, Don Hutson and Brian Tracy. In the meantime, if you'd like to check out the full list of seminars currently available on DVD you can just go there now.

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Leadership and the 8th Muda

As a leader in your organization, do you add muda or subtract it?

Muda is a Japanese term for waste. One of the prime tenants of the Toyota production system, to which much of that company’s outstanding quality and profitability can be attributed, is to reduce muda. The organization is built on constant striving to identify and eliminate anything that does not add value for the final customer. The Toyota processes are now used worldwide, often called LEAN processing.

Seven mudas are traditionally recognized: overproduction, waiting, unnecessary transport, over processing, excess inventory, unnecessary movement, and defects. Jeffrey K. Liker, in his excellent book The Toyota Way, adds an eighth muda – unused employee creativity.

Liker describes the eighth muda as the waste of “losing time, ideas, skills, improvements, and learning opportunities by not engaging or listening to your employees.” Too many organizations suffer from CEOs or owners that inflate the eighth muda, rather than contribute to its elimination.

In the last two weeks alone I’ve heard a handful of unsolicited stories about clueless bosses who seem eager to be eighth muda poster icons. They shut down employee contributions by:

  • Blowing up angrily at errors, apologizing, but then doing it again. Bring them bad news, they kill the messenger.
  • Arrogant statements of who is in charge – “It’s my way or the highway,” or “In this company, I am god.”
  • Ignoring and refusing to discuss looming challenges that keep partners, directors, and other lesser executives awake at night.
  • Refusing to let other executives to speak on the company’s behalf, even if they are more polished presenters - but also can’t seem to find time to improve their own basic presentation skills.
  • Discounting human concerns, while fixating on a company goal – “I don’t care about anything except making this quarter’s numbers.”
In all fairness, these executives are often passionately optimistic and enthusiastic about their company or idea, incredibly smart and talented individuals with inspiring visions, with plenty of success they can point to at any moment. What is often outside of their awareness is the erosion, if not outright destruction, of relationships that could sustain their success.

Paradoxically, it is those leaders most obsessed about squeezing each penny that leave tons of money on the table, particularly in the form of lost opportunity and employee turnover. When faced with 8th muda bosses, the best and the brightest look for opportunities to go where they are appreciated, places where they not only have economic opportunity but can make a contribution to something larger than themselves.

I hear plenty of stories, too, of great places to work, and of incredible leaders who strive to bring out the best talent of everyone in the company. By whatever name they call it, they are intentional about eliminating the 8th muda, the waste of untapped employee talent. They invest in employee development, pay attention to the human side of their businesses, and correct unintentional disincentives whenever they are discovered. And they eat their competition’s lunches.

Seeking to reduce the muda on the human side is as important and as do-able as reducing muda in manufacturing processes. It does, however, require an effort and an attitude of doing what’s best for long-term value.

Look at your company. Look at yourself. Where are you eliminating muda? Where are you creating muda – and what are you going to do about it?

Guest writer Tom Stevens heads up Esquare Leadership.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Leadership Techniques for Everyone

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the funeral of my friend Kermit. A pleasure, you ask? Yes, a pleasure and a honor, because it was a great celebration of Kermit’s life and the passion and spirit he brought to living it.

Usually, when I go to funerals, the spiritual leader (pastor, minister, rabbi, cleric, etc.) goes on and on about the deceased, a person he barely knows; and maybe one or two friends or associates might say something about the deceased. Well, Kermit’s funeral was special. The pastor spoke briefly, a singer sang a hymn, and then the pastor asked for comments from the audience. That’s when the funeral became really special. After one and a half hours later, over forty people had gotten up and shared their positive experiences and what Kermit meant to them. People from their 20’s to well over 60-year-old people from different spiritual, ethnic, social, and economic backgrounds stood up to make comments. People who served with him in the Navy (Kermit retired as a Commander) stood up and spoke about how Kermit changed their lives.

There was story after story about how Kermit made the speakers overcome obstacles and made them believe they could do better, and did this with passion. Some of them were as follows:

1. Past ballplayers talked about Kermit’s cowbell as a rallying cry at their ballgames.

2. A woman told of having a flat tire on a busy roadway and Kermit, whom she didn’t know at the time, stopped and helped her fix the tire; and then they became friends.

3. A businessperson talked about how Kermit volunteered his time to help him launch a business that is still going strong after ten years.

4. A previous player described how he was motivated by Kermit to make something of himself. He went to college and is a very successful basketball coach teaching the same principles that Kermit taught him.

5. A man explained that he was going through a divorce and bankruptcy and was thinking of committing suicide. Kermit heard about his troubles, called him, and helped him through these dark times. Now this person helps others through their challenging moments in life.

Wow! It moved me. Here are five leadership and success secrets Kermit shared with us. How can you apply them to become more successful and outstanding leaders?

1. What is Your Cowbell?
Create Passion! Kermit truly enjoyed working with people to make them better. It was not just the cowbell, but the emotion and excitement he experienced when seeing other people succeed. The cowbell was just the tool that Kermit used to show his passion so that others became passionate. Let your passion show. Let people know that you are excited about their accomplishments, and the passion will multiple.

2. Expect the Best
Excellence Will Take Care of the Rest. It was said about Kermit that when meeting people, he never met a stranger. In his mind they were already someone he knew. Kermit always expected the best when interacting with people, and they eventually rose to his expectations.

Expect the best out of people, and they will rise to your standards.

3. Understand So That You Are Understood
Kermit’s conversations were always centered on understanding the other person. For all the years I knew him, I never knew he was a commander in the Navy. He didn’t make his title the focus of the conversation. You see, it wasn’t about him; it was always about the other person’s interests, needs, etc. Because of this, people naturally wanted to become involved in Kermit’s projects and help Kermit make other people successful.

So my question is: How well do you understand your employees?

Take the time to understand their goals, wants, needs, hobbies, etc. The more you take time to understand them, the more your employees will want to help you succeed.

4. Give of Yourself
Kermit always gave his time, energy, and passion without “keeping score.” In return, the people he helped not only helped him, but went on to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Take the time to go the extra mile to see how you can help your employees, your team, and/or your organization without “keeping score.” Your employees will feel that you care, and then they will go to a new level of caring.

5. Share the Knowledge
Kermit took the time to share his knowledge with others so that they become more successful. Whether it was coaching a sports team, helping a friend start a business, or sharing his experiences to get a person through a difficult time, Kermit took the time to share his knowledge with others. Because Kermit shared his knowledge, other people became more successful and they shared their knowledge with others so that they could be more successful.

What special knowledge do you have that can help others succeed? Don’t hoard your knowledge, share it. By sharing your knowledge, you multiply yourself and become known as a developer of people. Your knowledge, once you share it, will live on after you are gone.

Apply these five leadership techniques and create success in your business, with your team, in your community, and your life. Just like Kermit, you will also see instant results.
Thanks for sharing, Kermit, and making the world a better place.

Ed Sykes is a professional speaker, author, and leading expert in the areas of leadership, motivation, presentation skills, customer service, and team building.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Conduit goes open

Great news this week for our toolbar users. The platform providers, Conduit, have introduced an excellent new feature. By simply clicking on the + symbol at the end of our toolbar, users can access the Conduit marketplace and add any component of their choice from 200,000 other toolbars. Combined with the option to include/exclude any of the components we already provide such as direct feeds to the best leadership blogs, every user can customise their own toolbar to provide a unique and personalised browsing experience - all completely free.

Our leadership toolbar can be downloaded from here

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is the author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Virtual Networking - I love it!

A couple of weeks ago, I received an unsolicited email from a reader of an online article I had written. He wasn't trying to sell me anything but just asking for some advice about the value of article marketing. Having reviewed his website I replied to the email with what I hope were some helpful comments.

To cut a long story short, it transpired that my new connection and I shared much in common in relation to our views on both leadership and learning. Dr John Dentico has just launched his new leadership blog, LeadSimm - The Games Leaders Play and if his first article is anything to go by, it is going to be an extremely valuable addition to both new and experienced leaders around the world.

Welcome to the world of leadership blogging John!

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Individualism v Teamwork

As you travel around corporate America these days, you hear a lot about "teams";that groups, departments or whole divisions are trying to behave more as a teamas opposed to a group of individuals. Its the latest catch phrase du jour. I guess someone finally figured out the power of teamwork. But just how much of this represents sincere efforts? My corporate contacts tell me its mostly facade. They contend they get some nifty new corporate shirts and some great pep talks, but aside from this, little else. As much as corporations tout the need for teamwork, most still encourage rugged individualism.

There is more to creating a team than simply saying you are one. New shirts and axiomsare nice, but in order for this to work, people have to think and act as a team. In otherwords, success hinges on it becoming a natural part of the corporate culture.

Teachers, coaches, and drill instructors have long understood the value of teamwork. The intent is to turn a heterogeneous working environment into a homogeneous environment whereby everyone is working in a concerted effort towards common goals. But do corporate managers truly understand teamwork? Not necessarily. Many still create competitive environments in the hope that the strongest will rise to the surface. Teamwork is more about cooperation than it is about competition.

This brings up an important point: Teamwork is taught. It means developing a disciplinedwork environment where the participants must conform to a specific set of rules. Inevitably,it means breaking some work habits and creating new ones. This can be painful, yetnecessary if you want to achieve the desired results. Basically, you are teachingpeople how to live and work together as opposed to apart.

In the United States there is more of a natural inclination to teach individualismas opposed to teamwork; perhaps this is because we are a nation based onfreedoms. For example, our public school systems have minimal dress and hair codes; each student is allowed to look and dress as they personally see fit, many with some very questionable taste. This is permitted as it is believed the individual must be allowed to freely express him/herself. This may be fine, but it certainly does not promote a spirit of teamwork. Compare it to other countries, such as Japan, where students are required to where school uniforms and are given group assignments, such as the preparation andcleanup of their daily lunch. In Japan, students are taught the value of cooperationat an early age which has the added benefit of improving their socialization skills.
As mentioned, teamwork requires the establishment of a working environment conducive to teamwork. It doesn't happen simply by making some platitudinous statements. A managermust do more, much more; some suggestions:

First and foremost: Lead. All teams need a leader who can articulate goals and give direction. The team must trust and believe in its leader. Without such confidence, the team will not likely follow the leader, particularly in times of difficulty. The leader should also be wary of leading by democratic rule. Soliciting input is one thing, as ishaving assistants, but there can only be one ultimate leader to guide the team.

Institute uniform operating practices that everyone will be expected to conform to,such as operating hours of work, dress code, office appearance, speech and conduct, etc. Such uniformity stresses the equality of the workers. As another suggestion,downplay job titles and put more emphasis on work assignments instead. Job titles tend to emphasize a person's stature in a company and can be disruptive in terms ofequality.

Establish standard practices for executing work assignments, thereby everyone isfollowing the same methods, and using the same tools and techniques in their workeffort. This improves communications, provides for the interchangeability of workers,and promotes the development of quality work products.

Make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and assignments and understandstheir importance. Nobody wants to be regarded as the weakest link and, as such,the manager must be able to communicate their importance and carefully balancethe workload. Yes, there will be those workers who will undoubtedly excel over others, but teamwork is a group effort. If a weaker worker needs additional training, either give it to him or replace him.

Routinely check progress. Whenever applicable, keep statistics on both team andindividual performance. However, it is not important to publish such stats. It isimportant for the leader to know the team's strengths and weaknesses, but it isnobody else's business.

Be on the lookout for conflicts in working relationships. Some people will simply notget along and it is up to the manager to referee such conflicts. Either have the peoplework out their differences, keep them apart, or rid yourself of them. You want harmony,not contention, on your team.

Allow time for the team to meet and discuss issues as a group. This keeps everyonein tune with common goals, problems, and the team's general progress. It also allows the team to socialize and form a camaraderie (a bonding of unity).

Recognize individual achievement but reward on a team basis as opposed to an individual basis.

Are we really trying to promote teamwork or is this nothing more than the latest corporate fad that is being implemented more for public relations than anything else? Let's hope for the former and not the latter. Teamwork is a powerful concept, particularly when there is anything of substance to be done.

Shrewd managers intuitively understand the need for teamwork. Let me give you an example from the world of entertainment. Jack Benny, the famous comedian of yesteryear had a great appreciation for teamwork. His radio and television shows wereconsistently at the top of the rating charts for a number of years. When asked what his secret to success was, Benny simply said teamwork. To Jack, it wasn't important that he personally got the best lines and laughs week after week. In fact, he was often the butt of many of the jokes. Instead, he made sure his cast, guests, and writers all received the accolades they deserved. It was more important to Benny that people said they had tuned into "The Show" as opposed to tuning in to see "Jack Benny." He was right.

I realize there are instances in business when it becomes necessary to exerciseindividualism, but these are becoming a rarity. Instead companies can find greaterglory as a team as opposed to a group of individuals.

"Individual glory is insignificant when compared to achieving victory as a team."- Dot Richardson, M.D.U.S. Olympic Softball Team Two time Gold Medal Champions

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has 30 years of experience in the field. Heis available for training and consulting on an international basis. He can be contacted at:

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

US Army Leadership Principles

An internet search for the title of this article comes up with several hits for the US Army's Eleven Leadership Principles. These are as follows:

- Be tactically and technically proficient
- Know yourself and seek self-improvement
- Know your soldiers and look out for their welfare
- Keep your soldiers informed
- Set the example
- Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished
- Train your soldiers as a team
- Make sound and timely decisions
- Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates
- Employ your unit in accordance with its capabilities
- Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions

It seems to me that with a little adaptation, these principles are largely applicable to leadership in the civilian environment as much as the military.

With thanks to David McCallum for bringing these principles to my attention.

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Managing Talent

Attract and retain the most talented employees by managing talent and save your organization time, money and resources. This article will provide you with talent management strategies and solutions that help companies succeed. Whether you're an executive, a manager or a team leader, the following information will be beneficial to you.

Talent management strategies have evolved significantly in the last few years as technological advancement becomes a calculated, competitive edge for businesses. Progressive companies use talent management solutions to interface, or even integrate the multiple solutions they employ, empowering them to recruit, hire, develop, retain, engage and promote top talent seamlessly.
Since the widespread recognition of the importance of human capital in organizations, enterprise companies are creating talent management strategies that align people with business objectives to conquer challenges and create a competitive advantage. By investing in new technology and ongoing research, your organization can proactively eliminate hiring, on-boarding, employee development, talent retention and career planning issues before they begin and address challenges that already exist.

There are many talent management strategies that can help your organization cope with the many employee issues you currently face. Here are some examples:

Applicant Tracking
Businesses employing large numbers of workers face unique hiring challenges. Taking applications, screening, interviewing, hiring, and on-boarding dozens, hundreds or even thousands of new hires can lead to confusion, missed opportunities, lost time and wasted resources, including money. Application tracking gives managers the ability to review and hire the right applicants quickly and efficiently. Applicant tracking solutions are easy to use, require little training and do not require expensive hardware of software. By automating your hiring process, you can reduce your organization's recruiting costs by 40% or more.

Every job or position has requirements that go beyond the customary job description. When an employee's job duties conflict with their natural talent and skills, they suffer from tension and stress that can lead to organizational conflict and employee behavioral problems. Assessments will help you make the right hiring decisions and put the right people in the right positions, which will result in increased productivity, reduced stress, less tension, decreased conflict and a positive impact on your bottom line.

Employee & Career Development
One of the greatest challenges faced in organizations is the strategic personal development of their human capital in order to ensure effective use of their talent. In order to properly manage this vital resource, companies must identify their challenges and then implement training and employee development curriculum for improvement. Employee & Career Development strategies help manage employees who need improvement, the area in which they need further development and the progress they have made toward improving the necessary skills, retain and empower your employees by allowing them to develop and manage their career paths and align them with organizational strategy, and identify highly talented and productive employees who can become successors to key executives.

Learning Management
Organizations use learning management to have a competitive edge and a measurable impact on employee performance. The value of learning management solutions enables organizations to demonstrate the return on investment they make in training, and in turn they are able to continue improvement processes that drive higher levels of return through enhanced performance over time. Learning management strategies can help organizations manage the administrative aspects of learning such as registration, class enrollment, attendance and performance tracking, making it easier for managers and employees to create, implement and track personalized programs.

Jim Sirbasku is co-founder and CEO of Profiles International, a leading provider of human resource management solutions and employment assessments for businesses worldwide. For more information about talent management solutions, visit our website.

10 Principles of Law of Attraction for Leaders

I believe that everyone is a leader to someone. Leadership is in each one of us. The amount that you utilize this gift to be a leader will all depend on you. Utilizing the principles of the Law of Attraction in a leader role consciously will attract more results and success. These principles can carry on from being a leader in your business to being a leader at home.

Here are the 10 principles of Law of Attraction for leaders:

1. Take responsibility. This is one of the principles many have a hard time dealing with. You create you reality and therefore you must take responsibility for your reality and actions. The sooner you get you control the output by your thoughts, feelings, words and actions the sooner you can create the life and business you want. Lead by example and you will have a great team by your side.

2. Be a partner. You may be a leader but you are also a partner. Do no try to do everything on your own. Ask for feedback, ideas and work together with your team to meet your goals. Cooperation and collaboration are necessary.

3. Be aware of your energy. Pay attention to your energy. If you are in a bad mood, your energy can and will transfer to those around you. Be consciously aware of your energy and choose to make it a positive one and spread positive vibes. The higher your vibration the more connected and grounded you are, the more inspired you are and because of this you will see greater success.

4. Be pleasant. If you are leading by example and utilizing the Law of Attraction, than having an awesome personality will be easy for you to do. When you are focused on abundance, taking action and the possibilities people will be drawn to you.

5. Be understanding. Put yourself in their shoes. Better yet ask them what you can do for them to really understand where they are coming from and how you can better assist them. Do not be judgmental, rather be open minded and concentrate on solutions.

6. Share your visions. Create a plan, a vision of where you want to go with your project, business, product, service, etc. Have a plan for your advertising, marketing and more. Share these plans with those working with you and get their feedback and mastermind on improving the plans. By having a set direction that is agreed on will promote team work, responsibility, confidence and action.

7. Surpass expectations. Whatever you do, do it to the max. Go beyond what people expect of you. Give more value than what is asked. You will be setting the Law in motion to provide you with more than what you expect and be setting a great example.

8. Make passionate choices. When you are passionate and inspired about your choices it comes through in your presentation and implementation. When others see you are passionate about the decisions you are making it will help for those decisions to be embraced and understood.

9. Harness positive self-talk. Do not let doubt, lack or other negative thoughts enter into your self-talk. When you perceive something to be negative, look for the positive or create a positive. Keeping your self-talk positive and focused will make the rest of your day much brighter and easier.

10. Be open to the possibilities. Have an open-mind to the Law of Attraction and what it can do for you as Leader and in your life. Being resistant is a surefire way to get the opposite of what you want. Be open to utilizing these principles in your life so you can create the success and happiness you deserve.

Ruth Sias is a former Commercial Escrow officer, turned Entrepreneur from Sacramento, CA.
Ruth has taken her 23 years as a business professional, combined with her strong people skills to create wealth for her and others online.
To join Ruth's team, visit
Synergy Cash System and request a tour.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Want Feedback?

Most conversations, articles and training regarding feedback is focused on giving leaders, managers and supervisors more tools and approaches for offering feedback more effectively. This is very important information, and these are skills that can help you be significantly more effective in developing others.

But it's only half the story.

Because you can do everything “right” in delivering feedback, but if it isn't heard, welcomed or valued by the other person, your technique is of little value. This article talks about the other half of the feedback equation: receiving feedback successfully.

As a coach or leader you can share these ideas with those you give feedback to, with the goal of making the feedback you give them more effective. But, this article is really written for all of us - because we all need feedback for our ongoing growth and improvement. Take your coaching hat off now and consider these ideas as a part of your personal development plan. Besides, once you've practiced them for yourself, you'll be in a better position to share them with others!

Ways to Receive Better Feedback

• Ask for it. Perhaps this should go without saying, but we all need the reminder. People often talk to me about wanting more feedback on their work, a specific project, or a situation. They will lament me that they didn't get any feedback or the feedback they got was insufficient. My first question is always, “did you ask for feedback?” The blank stare I typically receive tells the story. The lesson? If you want feedback you have to ask for it! While it is often best to ask for feedback before the situation, so the other person can watch for and observe in a way that allows them to prepare for their comments, asking at any time is a great strategy for getting more feedback.

• Value it. How do you feel when you give someone feedback and they don't seem to care about it or don't seem to give it much weight? Are you as likely to willingly give them feedback in the future or to work to make that feedback as effective as it could be? Probably not! If you want more (and better) feedback, you must value it which includes (among other things) thanking the person for provided us with the input for their help.

• Listen to it. Getting the feedback isn't enough, you must hear it! Listen with your ears to what is being said, so you hear the words. But listen too with your eyes and your heart. Try to understand what isn't being said as well. Remember that giving feedback isn't always easy, and the person sharing ideas (positive or negative) with you might not be 100% comfortable, or very experienced in, doing it. For you to get the most value from the feedback, you must listen closely and actively - asking clarifying questions and for additional details and insights.

• Be open to it. Being open to feedback is easy when you agree with or have already thought of the ideas being shared. But some feedback comes as a surprise. It is especially important in those instances to be open to it. If you value it, and really listen, it will make it easier to be open. It's important to recognize that there will sometimes be barriers in your mind. When others sense those barriers, you are making it less likely that they will want to share future feedback with you. Be open and you will get more feedback in the future (and you'll make better use of the feedback you are currently receiving!).

• Depersonalize it. The single biggest barrier to receiving feedback is defensiveness. And when you get defensive, it is usually because you are taking the feedback personally. I'm sure you have received feedback from someone when you felt like it was about you personally and not your behavior. Regardless of how someone intended the message, you can - with practice - decouple the feedback from you personally and keep it focused on your behavior. When it is about your behavior and not about you as a person, it is easier to drop your defenses and hear, and be open to, the feedback. Depending on the situation and the nature of the feedback, this depersonalization may not happen instantly, but overtime you can become more effective at translating the feedback into behavioral comments rather than interpreting them as personal in nature.

• Use it. Will you agree with - and take action on - every piece of feedback you receive? Probably not. And that's OK. On the other hand, even if you do the first five ideas well but never take any action to change, you not only aren't using the feedback to improve, but you're telling others (through your actions) that you don't really want or need any feedback.

As you read through these six ideas you hopefully see a common thread. Each of these ideas will help you get more or better feedback - and some do both! When you recognize the value feedback can have in improving your results you know it's too important to leave to chance. Use these six ideas and you will find yourself with more input and ideas to propel you to greater performance and results.

Potential Pointer: Feedback is a powerful tool for personal development, too powerful to leave up to others. If you want more and better feedback, you need to take responsibility for making that happen.

Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. You can learn more about him and a special offer on his newest book, Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at

Monday, 20 April 2009

What's your balance in the Trust Bank?

There’s a strange phenomenon happening at the moment in organisations around the globe.

As the financial crisis first took hold, people gathered together and supported one another. It seems that the usual response to an external threat was taking place, “We’re being attacked. We're in this together and we can support one another through the difficulty.”

The human instinct of fight or flight has taken over. For example:

- There is more sharing of information and knowledge to ensure everyone is “being kept in the loop”

- People go out of their way to find out what others are doing and how they can help

- People are loyal to one another and particularly to those who might not be there at the moment

- People get together more at a social level (for example, business lunches are back in, although now much shorter and far less expensive as people themselves are paying)

That type of behaviour is still the case in many organisations. However, there’s a change that takes place at a particular point. And that change seems to occur once there are lay-offs. As soon as people are laid off, the mood and the response from those that stay, changes:

- People become less sociable – lunches are definitely out, no matter who’s paying

- At the lower levels, staff start to emphasise (publicly) what they are achieving (sometimes even at the expense of colleagues) – people also *spin the truth” to their advantage

- On the other hand, some staff retreat into themselves and hope "that it will all go away soon"

- Managers become less visible and remote. They are always in meetings. When asked about "What's happening?", very little of the real story emerges

- There seem to be many things that are “undiscussable”

On the commercial front, organisations are cutting their marketing and training budgets – two of the most important items on any balance sheet. Some have cut their marketing budget by 70%. One wonders how much market share they will have lost by the time the market starts to pick up again.

Marketing brings in the business. Training helps to keep the people motivated and skilled, particularly on how to handle the business in these difficult times.

When dealing with external issues, organisations that are retreating and being negative rather than attacking and attempting to grow their market share, also seem to be:

- Communicating with customers, suppliers and other key stakeholders more by email or text rather than phone or face-to-face. This is even more prevalent when they have bad news to give. And that’s the worst way to give bad news.

- Treating suppliers and even customers, as somewhat alien rather than as business partners.

This approach hit home to a colleague who has been a trusted supplier to a firm for over 10 years – he even had his own log in code to enter the building for meetings. When he went to enter his code last week, his code did not work. He was told that “An instruction had gone out to the effect that no external providers be allowed direct access.” As he said, “Having been around for many years, we’ve now seen the pendulum swing from contractors being considered business partners to then being viewed as recalcitrant, money-hungry, self-interested capitalists. We await with interest to see when the pendulum will start swinging back again!”

The problem is, when the pendulum does start to swing back, will it have any impact? Will people trust what others are saying?

Steven Covey, in his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” first introduced the notion of trust, not as a soft social virtue, but as a hard edged economic driver that can be deposited and withdrawn from one’s emotional bank account. He suggested that it takes a long time to build up the trust balance by way of small deposits and this balance can be quickly depleted with just one withdrawal, such as in this example.

Trust is a critical resource at the moment. As Niklas Luhman (1979) found in his famous study on trust: “Trust reduces the feeling of uncertainty. Trust makes a person feel more secure with regard to his or her acting or not acting. With trust, the person has the feeling of knowing what will happen in the future.” And finally, “Trust is used to lower the uncertainty regarding other people’s behaviour”.

So, managers - what to do in the current situation? How to maintain trust with staff and other key stakeholders?

We know that in tough times, people strive to satisfy their basic needs - food, shelter, security. It’s been suggested that adults have little awareness of their security needs except in times of emergency or periods of disorganisation. As adults however, we continually look for these needs in our children. Children often and openly display the signs of insecurity and the need to be safe and we readily respond. Perhaps as we do with children, we also need to be more proactive and look for these signs in ourselves and others, and readily respond to the need for food, shelter, security.

So, when managing staff, whilst it's very important to share critical company information (which appeals to our higher needs of achievement and self-actualization), it's also very important to cater for people’s basic needs. More socialising, interacting and even physical contact such as hand shaking, hugs etc are needed. Some of you may have seen the news item recently of a man giving out “free hugs” in New York. Many people were sceptical, but you could almost feel the positive energy from the people who were interviewed after experiencing a hug.

As an example of effective socialising, one colleague who works in the construction industry, took his four direct reports to the football - a first for him and the firm. The mood and particularly collaboration within his team, has improved dramatically since.

And the same is true for other stakeholders such as customers and suppliers.

Will you do more face-to-face or phone communication rather than email? Cost pressures have led to many face-to-face meetings being replaced with teleconferencing, with varying degrees of success. Teleconferencing can be extremely effective for discussing the key business issues. However, how do you handle the necessary social interaction? How do people build the essential social and emotional bonds required to cement lasting deals? How do you have a virtual meal, drink, tea/coffee together? And what happens after the meeting? Experience suggests that there are often “meetings after meetings” where small local groups gather (generally over tea or coffee) to discuss what was really said or meant in the meeting and by whom.

How will your product or service (or perhaps the way you deliver these) help satisfy your key stakeholders basic needs for safety and security? You may recall my earlier story of how Hyundai has dramatically increased their market share in the US by applying this basic principle of catering to people’s need for security rather than thinking of their own drive to increase sales.

The message? As a manager working with staff and other stakeholders:

- Look for ways to increase social contact

- Search for options that will satisfy people’s need for safety and security

- Be prepared to spend more face-to-face time with key people

- Be prepared to discuss the “undiscussable” (if you don’t, others certainly will, and often negatively)

People can only do their best work when their basic needs are catered and cared for. Customers and suppliers can only be true business partners when they feel safe and secure working with you. In these times, it's important to stress security, food, and shelter before talking about business performance. It’s important to build your level of trust deposits with the people that are important to your success.

Guest writer Bob Selden is the author of the newly published “What To Do When You Become The Boss” – a self help book for new managers – see details at He also coaches at the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland and the Australian Graduate School of Management, Sydney. You can contact Bob via

Saturday, 4 April 2009

The Key to Expert Performance

In a knowledge-driven economy, chances are greater than ever that the value you offer comes from making use of expertise. Conventional wisdom will tell you that you get the best from your expertise by deeper learning your field, by keeping up with new developments and understanding the nuances and intricacies of your domain – in short, investing in knowing more.

However, I believe using knowing more as your primary strategy for increasing the value of your expertise will likely leave you missing the boat – big time.

In the way knowing is not the same as doing, expertise is not the same as expert performance, i.e. actions in your domain of expertise that are considered to be best-in-class.

Conventional Wisdom tells us natural talent is what drives top performance. Modern research challenges this notion. K. Anders Ericsson, co-editor and contributor to the Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, notes the common factor of expert performance in almost every domain researched is “deliberate practice” – ongoing practice and repetition shaped by active feedback. For example, there are many talented golfers in the world. It’s feedback driven practice that makes Tiger Woods a consistent champion.

Raw talent can certainly provide motivation and acceleration to feedback-driven practice, but it is the practice that creates the performance. In most domains, people with average talent can achieve expert-level performance by diligently exercising best practices based on ongoing feedback. Kenneth Blanchard hit the nail on the head when he said, “Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions.”

Top performing professionals seek feedback from clients and colleagues. Top performing businesses seek feedback from customers and employees. In all cases, a performance edge is obtained through diligently acquiring feedback, and even more diligently using it to guide performance improvement.

In the realm of leadership and management, executives who want to be top of their game use coaches or 360 reviews to garner feedback, both within and outside of their organization’s formal performance system. Where organizations often go wrong with these tools is using them primarily to shore up weaknesses rather than to accelerate performance of existing strengths and expertise.

Questions for leadership insight: What systematic feedback are you providing for yourself and other leaders in your organization? Are you using feedback to develop and polish best practices?
Are you seeking expert-level performance as much as expertise?

We can all agree that it is critically important factor to continue learning and keep up in your field. But knowing more in a field does not necessarily contribute to better performance or more value from expertise – for this you need diligent practice based on systematic feedback.

Guest writer Tom Stevens heads up Esquare Leadership.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Time Off for Exceptional Behaviour

I have long since been a fan of setting staff stretch objectives. The basic objectives are what good performance look like but the stretch objectives, aimed at encouraging staff members to go the extra mile, represent exceptional performance. While some employees, especially those who are ambitious, will be driven to achieve their stretch objectives, others will be content to merely deliver good performance.

The problem has often been how to motivate staff to push themselves to achieve these stretch objectives. The 'what's in it for me?' syndrome. I first used stretch objectives way back when I was running sales teams and the motivation was simple - money. The more you sell, the more you earn. This could also be spiced up by adding an element of internal competition.

But what about all those support staff where financial bonuses cannot be so readily applied, at least in the short-term. How do you motivate these people to strive for exceptional performance? There are of course the longer-term elements that relate to career progression and in today's climate, one could even suggest job security as a motivating factor. But these are often not immediate enough to act as driving forces on a day-to-day basis. So here's a quick-win tool you might want to try out - Time Off Vouchers.

Let's be clear, this is not time off for doing merely a good job, that is, the job you are being paid to do. But what I am suggesting is giving staff time off for doing an exceptional job by going the extra mile and delivering above and beyond the call of duty. Maybe someone who delivers all of their stretch objectives in a month can win a half day off. That's valuable to people. An afternoon of pampering, shopping, golf or whatever as a reward for exceptional effort and performance.

And what impact will that have on the rest of the team? Make a point of asking the successful team member(s) if they had a good afternoon off, ask them what they did - make a big deal of it. And at your next one-to-one with the other team members make it clear what they have to do to win a time off voucher. Let them know what their stretch objectives are and what exceptional performance looks like. Then, it is up to them if they want to push themselves and gain the reward and kudos that will accompany the extra effort.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on.

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Leaders need coaching too

While we rightly expect good leaders to coach their staff (and as I have said on numerous occasions, this is a core part of the leadership role), what happens when the boss needs some coaching support? Who do they turn to? Their peers? Their boss? Or an outside expert?

Of course, it could be any of these depending on which source is likely to be best placed to help you find the answers you are looking for. As a leader, to ask for coaching from your peers will often be perceived as displaying a weakness. It might also present some confidentiality issues if the area you need some coaching on relates to one of your staff. The issue of being perceived as displaying a weakness might also apply to being coached by your boss. You might also find your boss is too close to the situation and is tempted to try and present a solution rather than helping you find the answer for yourself. An external expert will often provide the most effective route but it will also come with cost implications. But what value would you place on the solution?

I had a two hour coaching session with a middle manager earlier this week. His starting point was that he felt he was failing as a boss. He had performance and motivation issues within his team and he personally was visibly stressed about the whole situation. All I did was to ask him a series of relevant questions about the situation and his actions so far, listen carefully and then ask him some more questions about possible solutions. By the end of the session he had a clearly defined set of actions and was literally, bounding with enthusiasm to put those actions into practice.

Towards the end of the session he said to me, "It seems so blindingly obvious now, why didn't I think of it before?". He had the answers all along, it's just that nobody had encouraged him to think the problem through in the way I did (and he'd had several sessions with his boss before he met up with me). Now, that 2 hour coaching session has already paid for itself in improved productivity in the three days since I was with him, according to the email he just sent me. And there is a boss and several team members who are all going to have a much better weekend than would otherwise have been the case. I reckon they'll all be looking forward to work on Monday too.

Leaders need to be good coaches for their staff but sometimes, they need to be coached too.

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is the author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Motivation Bite Size - Staff Development

I had an interesting meeting with a senior manager last week. The comment that stuck with me was, "We are investing in training at the moment purely to help keep our people motivated during the recession".

That comment alone tells you a lot about this motivational nugget. Many people are motivated by training and personal development. The acquisition of new knowledge and skills helps to make them better at their jobs and perform at a higher level while also enhancing their CV and improving future job prospects. By sending staff on training courses a company is sending out many positive signals:

- We care about our people
- We want our people to succeed
- Things ain't so bad, we still have money to spend on our staff

But of course, training courses are a whole lot more effective if people also know why they are attending, see the relevance to their job and have a clear link between the training course and their development plan.

And it's not just training courses that help staff to develop. Other tools in the staff development mix include:

- Coaching (by a manager or an expert)
- e-Learning
- Attending industry seminars, conferences and workshops
- Sponsorship of professional study
- Exposure to new experiences and opportunities

At every part of the staff development process an individual manager can make a real difference and the net result will most likely be improved motivation, improved capability, improved confidence and improved performance.

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

You Just May Be a Poor Boss If...

In The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep plays an editor. Fashion industry insiders have stated that the fear inspiring, scary, capricious manager (apparently, her character is based on a real boss!) played by Streep, is on target. In fact, the mean spirited actions of such bosses can be seen by some in the fashion and entertainment world as a badge of honor!

But can these bosses get results? My opinion is that a managerial jerk can never achieve good, sustainable results. One of the reasons why is discretionary effort. Discretionary effort is what makes people work overtime, stay late on their own time, create and innovate. One of the more disheartening results of poor bosses is the effect they can have on the discretionary effort of good employees. I've seen this effort, which can really boost an area, get smothered by poor bosses. People may work for a tyrant but they'll seldom give him everything they have.

Robert Sutton, an organizational psychologist, has a philosophy on bosses who are jerks. He says they are a tremendous drain on society and that the costs of retaining these bosses outweigh any benefits. They waste time and cause possible psychological abuse and even mental damage.
The other facet of the boss as jerk syndrome is that they may be unaware of the effect of their actions. So here is a short list of some signs that your managing skills may need some sharpening: You just might be a poor boss when-

- You claim an open door policy and wonder why no one comes through that door.

- Your employee has to ask you why her check increased instead of you telling her prior to payday that you gave her a raise.

- You feel sorry for the Dabney Coleman character in the movie "9 to 5"

- The turnover percentage in your area is the same as the winning percentage of the White Sox.

- Your leadership role models are Machiavelli, General Patton and Atilla the Hun.

- You find a copy of A Survival Guide for Working With Bad Bosses: Dealing With Bullies, Idiots,
Back-stabbers, And Other Managers from Hell by Gini Graham Scott on an employee's desk.

- You have a budget of 30k to spend on employee bonuses and never use it.

- You think it's good management to come in under the paltry 3.5% budget available for salary increases.

- You think that losing your temper is an indication of management strength.

Someone asked me why there appeared to be so many poor bosses. After all, in addition to real life horror stories, there are several movies and books that deal with bosses from hell.
Although I feared this may be a cliche my response was that the reason there are so many jerks as managers is that poor bosses don't work at being good bosses. Poor bosses become better by working at it. Managing simply by instinct or personality traits alone dooms bosses to the role of jerk.

If a poor manager desires improvement, attention needs to be paid to expanding his/her management skills. This means the aware manager reads books, goes to classes and seminars and even seeks out speakers about the craft. Then it's applying those lessons learned in the workplace. That's what can prevent a boss from being a jerk and turn a jerk into a manager worth holding the position.

Following are some indicators that your managerial style is working: You just may be a good manager when-

- Your area improves productivity by 20% and the people think you had nothing to do with it.

- You get invited to area social functions and they really want you to go.

- You like to manage by walking around your area. When you miss a day someone asks you where you were.

- You listen when someone needs to vent to you.

- You get Christmas cards from your employees.

- People leave your department because they get promoted.

- Potential employees apply to work in your area.

- Your employees tell you you're always fair.

Finally, you realize that you became a better manager the day you kept quiet and began listening.

Guest writer Steve Wyrostek is an internet copywriter covering websites to articles to white papers. All writing includes keyword research/placement, rewrites and proofreading.

Monday, 16 March 2009

The New Dance

Poor Pluto. Stripped of its planetary status by the International Astronomical Union and reclassified as a "dwarf planet," two years ago, Pluto's demotion heralds new rules for planet classification. Debate by renowned astronomers from seventy-five countries culminated in the decision to reduce the number of planets to eight "classic" ones.

This reclassification got me thinking. Like a company reorganization or leadership change, the rules were altered. And no matter if you were among scientists advocating for more planets or less, it no longer matters. The decision is rendered. Like it. Don't like it. It's done.

Organizational changes can be like that too. Like Pluto, I've spent career years with "classic" designation, status and access only to be "reclassified" with mergers, acquisitions, downsizing and reorganizations. Confident, comfortable and courageous with a current boss, you must reprove, readjust and reorient to a new one with a different style, focus and rules.

It's happened enough in my career-life to collect a few insights along the way. First, the suddenness is unnerving and often painful. Familiar shifts to unfamiliar and second-nature decisions become second-guessed ones. When the rules change it's uncomfortable.

But, you can't go back. You can't change the outcome. What was true yesterday is gone. So, my second lesson learned the hard way is let it go as quickly as possible. Your future depends on it. Third, recognize you're in a growth spurt. That can be painful, challenging or exhilarating. And while it might not be a growth you'd choose, use your talent to reinvent yourself, find your grounding and contribute in new ways.

You see, if change can happen to something as sure as planets, it will likely happen to us. When it does we can dig in, resist and fight, or after taking a deep breath and regrouping, we can find our courage and take a step forward.

That's what people who are winning at working do. They choose the future over the past, personal growth over fossilization, opportunity over defeat, and contribution over consternation. And as difficult as that is at times to do, people who are winning at working work through their disappointments and wounds, assessing their options, inventing their future and finding their wisdom. Like an African proverb reminds us all, "When the music changes, so does the dance."

Want to be winning at working? Learn the new dance.

Guest writer Nan Russell is the author of Hitting Your Stride: Your Work, Your Way (Capital Books; 2008) and host of "Work Matters with Nan Russell" weekly on Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. Sign up to receive Nan's "Winning at Working" tips and insights at

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Management Speak - Business Optimisation

There is nothing like a bit of management speak to warm the bones during the last throws of winter and the latest little gem to come my way this week was, Business Optimisation.

Business optimisation is the current buzz word among senior leaders seeking to adopt the right strategy during this economic downturn. Essentially, it is about putting in place the measures now that will make the business as strong as possible when the economic climate improves. Intuitively, this makes a lot of sense but what sort of areas are the consultants and strategists looking at?

Organisational Structures
There are many companies at the moment who are announcing widescale redundancies while simultaneously recruiting new staff. In case you are wondering how that circle can be squared the answer is of course - business optimisation. Companies are identifying the roles and associated skills they need to get them through the recession but also those that will provide a springboard as they come out the other side.

Business Workflow and Processes
If the remaining workforce is required to produce more with fewer resources, the workflows and processes need to become more efficient. Many companies are taking the opportunity afforded by a recession to re-engineer their processes and associated workflows.

Cost Management
Harsher economic times leads to a need for better financial husbandry. Finance directors must be having a ball. Their power base invariably increases during a recession as they dictate what the company spends money on and what it doesn't. Discretionary spending is being slashed in favour of essential spending and err, business optimisation.

One HR Director I was speaking with recently was bemused that the only department he hadn't had to reduce headcount in was the marketing department. Clearly, he had not heard of business optimisation! While companies might be reducing their marketing communications spend, a recession also provides an ideal opportunity to focus on developing the core offer of the company, refine the target market and analyse which part of the market is delivering the real, sustainable profits.

Organisational Capability
Companies might be reducing headcount but at the same time they need to make sure they maintain their skills base and capability going forward. They must ensure knowledge is being effectively transferred within the business and their staff are continuing to be developed. This means managers and experts within the business need to become effective coaches as well as the company investing in well targeted training.

You might have picked up a note or two of sarcasm in this article. It's not that I think business optimisation is a bad thing or that the term is inappropriate. My real problem with this being the current focus among many senior leaders and strategists is this - why weren't they focused on these things all along?

Efficient and effective deployment of resources, efficient and effective business processes and workflows, prudent cost management, a strong strategic marketing focus, good knowledge transfer and ensuring the workforce has up-to-date skills are all components of solid business management. Why do we need a recession to put us straight?

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is the author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Motivation Bite Size - Recognition

Most people come to work wanting to do a good job. And when they do a good job or try their best to do so, it is vital for their manager/leader to recognise their efforts and achievements. In short, it is incredibly motivating when people receive deserved recognition and incredibly de-motivating when they don't.

And here’s the thing, it is also incredibly easy to recognise effort and achievement and yet, many managers/leaders do not do enough of it, enough of the time. When the pressure is on to get the job done, as it invariably is, it is all too easy to focus on correcting errors and mistakes, adjusting and improving output or simply to place more demands on staff. Nobody is suggesting these things should not be done but let’s not forget the old adage – a little bit of praise goes a long way!

The easiest way to recognise effort and achievement is by conducting regular one-to-one review meetings and highlighting areas where performance has been good or exceptional. But there are other less formal ways too. A simple ‘thank you’, ‘well done’, ‘you’re a star’ or ‘I really appreciate the effort you have put in here’ all tick the recognition box. If you have the budget, the odd gift (maybe presented at a team meeting) won’t go amiss either. And if someone has really gone the extra mile, why not send them a simple thank you card to show them that there effort is appreciated. Do not underestimate the impact of someone receiving a thank you card from their boss in the post, especially when that person has put in extra effort or produced exceptional results.

Perhaps the only note of caution in all this is to ensure you are being fair and objective with the whole team. Don’t leave yourself open to accusations of favouritism but at the same time, those working the hardest and producing the best results deserve to be praised.

Recognising the effort and achievement of your staff is incredibly easy to do. Are you doing enough of it?

Simon Cooper heads up ELC Training Solutions and is author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Become The Star You Are Meant to Be

You want more out of life than just a job. Whether you work for a large company, a startup, a nonprofit, or you are an entrepreneur, you want to be a star; a complete and total personal and professional success. But professional success is complicated and may be elusive. To achieve professional success and become the star you are meant to be you need a professional success blueprint.

Here is a strategic blueprint for becoming the professional success-the star-you are meant to be. The first thing you need to know is what the qualities of a successful person are. Research shows that all successful people have five things in common:

Successful people are self confident
If you want to become self confident you need to do three things: 1) Become an optimist. Learn from, and forget yesterday's mistakes. Focus on tomorrow's professional success. 2) Face your fears and take action. Action cures fear. Procrastination and inaction compound it. Failure is rarely fatal. Do something, anything that will move you closer to achieving your goals. 3) Surround yourself with positive people who are interested in professional success. Build a network of supportive friends. Jettison the negative people in your life. And just as important, find a mentor to help build your confidence and guide you along the way.

Successful people create positive personal impact
If you want to create positive personal impact, you also need to do three things:
1) Develop, nurture and constantly promote your personal brand. Figure out the two or three things you want to be known for and then act in a way that is consistent with these things.2) Dress for success; make your self-presentation impeccable. Check the mirror on your way out the door. Your appearance should show that you respect yourself as well as those around you. 3) Finally, use proper etiquette. Of course, the most important etiquette rule of all is simple; make the people around you feel comfortable.

Successful people are outstanding performers
There are three things essential for becoming an outstanding performer:
1) You have to remain technically competent. The half life of knowledge gets shorter every day. Become a lifelong learner to remain technically competent throughout your career to be a true professional success. 2) You need to set and achieve high goals. Set milestones to help you keep on track with your goals. Focus on your goals every day. Do at least one thing every day that moves you closer to accomplishing each of your goals. 3) You need to be well organized. Manage your time, stress, workspace and lifestyle well to achieve maximum professional success.

Successful people are dynamic communicators
Three keys to dynamic communication:
1) You need to become an excellent conversationalist. Listen more than you speak. Show a genuine interest in other people and what they have to say. You should do what you can to help them reach their goals, because helping other people find professional success is what makes you a success. 2) To be a professional success, you need to write in a clear, concise, easily readable style. Write like you speak; imagine yourself in a conversation with the person reading your writing. 3) Finally, you need to present well; to groups of two or two hundred. People who have achieved professional success almost always have the ability to make dynamic presentations that move their audience to action.

Successful people are interpersonally competent
The three keys to interpersonal competence complete the picture:
1) Become self aware. Understand yourself and your impact on others. Use your self awareness to better understand others and to increase your influence with them. 2) Build solid, long lasting mutually beneficial relationships with other people. Relationships are the key to long term professional success. Treat other people with dignity and respect, and they will reciprocate. 3) Finally, find ways to resolve conflicts with a minimal amount of problems and upset to relationships. Conflict is inevitable in business and life. Find ways to resolve conflict in a manner that enhances, not detracts from the relationships you've worked so hard to build.

Implementing these five essential elements of professional success and taking the time to learn the various aspects of each will help to ensure your professional success in any endeavor you undertake. Simply knowing them is not enough, you must take the time to learn and perfect each one as you implement them.

Guest writer Ray Subs is a public relations specialist working with The Common Sense Guy--Bud Bilanich. For more common sense advice about success visit

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Power Shift

Power is a commodity. There is a limited amount of it to go around. Therefore, I must clutch my power to my chest and never let a shred of it out of my grasp.

Power is organic. Like life itself, it is limitless. Therefore, when I share power with others I lose nothing, and they gain everything.

These two very different viewpoints are not simply philosophy. They are often at the core of whether a business ultimately succeeds or fails. The fact is, leadership doesn't happen in a vacuum. True leaders recognize that success in business is never the result of one man or woman's efforts or exclusive direction: that is the dictator principle. Instead, success is dependent upon the leader surrounding himself or herself with strong and capable followers.

Consider this example. An innovative entrepreneur founded and served as president of an engineering firm. He was brilliant in his field, and well-respected and well-liked by all his employees. The firm grew to be a recognized industry leader. Nevertheless, the firm was actually on rocky ground. Morale was deplorably low. Frustration levels were high, and continued to mount. Critical decisions slipped through the cracks, resulting in lost opportunities and decreased revenue.

Why? Because the president presided over the company in the role of benevolent dictator. He had sole decision-making authority in every area - human resources, operations, financials, strategy, etc. The managers under him, although they liked and respected him as a person, were self-destructing under his leadership style - as was the company itself. Their hands were tied. They had no authority. Their expertise and knowledge was not called upon. Helpless to take action, they finally ceased to try.

After a number of years, the president of the firm moved on. His position was filled by a woman with a very different philosophy. She believed that success was a team effort. She recognized that without 100% commitment, input, and effort from her management staff, the company would eventual implode. That commitment, input, and effort would only happen when power was restored to her disempowered employees.

She met with each manager and shared her ideals, her philosophy, and her vision for the company. This was vitally important, for it was the first step to establishing trust.

Then, as issues, opportunities, and challenges arose, she gave her staff her full support in making business-critical decisions. She encouraged discussion without imposing her own viewpoint. She facilitated interaction by bringing key people together. She disseminated information and guaranteed equal access to crucial data. And when a decision had been reached, she supported it completely.

The effect was like exploding a keg of dynamite ... an appropriate analogy, since she had released power to her employees - and the Greek word for "power" is dunamis, from which we get our word "dynamite."

By engaging her leadership team in the hope of turning them into a team of all-stars, she freed up time, energy, and creativity across the entire company. Morale skyrocketed. Employees had a sense of ownership, both in relation to their jobs and with regard to the direction of the company as a whole. The company, then in its twentieth year, experienced record-breaking sales for three consecutive quarters.

This is more than an inspiring story - it is a step-by-step recipe for success, with the key ingredient being a power shift.

Guest writer Timothy Thomas is the President of Makarios Consulting - a leadership development firm that specializes in empowering leaders to maximize their leadership skills and inspire others to accomplish extraordinary results. Timothy is the author of "Creating All-Star Performers: The Power of Effective Feedback," now available for immediate download at

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Personal Mastery

Ten tips for 21st century leaders:

1. Learn how to read more intelligently
Learn speed reading, strategic and range reading techniques to enable you to handle incoming emails, reports, articles and letters faster and more effectively.

2. Learn how to focus your attention on what is important
Where you focus your attention will determine what you get done in your working day. Learn how to be effective – not just time management techniques. Focus on your goals and move boldly towards them.

3. Master your emotions and state of mind
Learn how to control your emotions and instantly switch into the right mindset for the situation you are in. Confidence, Energetic, Control, Calmness – they are all at your fingertips.

4. Ask solid questions
What do I want to achieve this week? What is the purpose of this meeting? What actions are required? What impact will this have? What are the risks? Is there a less costly way to achieve the same outcome?

5. Get to know your team well
Find out what motivates them and align their needs with those of the organisation. Understand their strengths and weaknesses and deploy them accordingly.

6. Learn how to make great decisions
Learn structured, analytical and creative problem solving techniques. Trust yourself to make the right decision and do it in a timely fashion.

7. Learn to be an excellent communicator
Understand that the effectiveness of your communication will dictate the response and reaction you receive.

8. Learn to make great presentations
Learn how to design and learn how to deliver. High impact visibility opens doors.

9. Understand the power of momentum
Huge, daunting tasks are just one step away from getting a whole lot easier.

10. Be proactive
The more proactive you are, the less reactive you need to be.

Simon Cooper heads up the Experiential Learning Centre and is author of the best selling leadership development book, Brilliant Leader.