Tag Archives: leadership

12 Questions — see if you are a winning corporation

One of the best books I have ever read is “First Break All the Rules” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, which made the New York Times best seller list for 93 weeks.

The book is a result of observations based on  Gallup organization interviews of over one million employees and 80,000 managers in leading organizations over a period of 25 years.   The result:  12 compelling strategies that the best managers and leaders use to create winning corporations that have sustainable success over a long period of time.

These twelve questions can be used as a baseline to assess your employees’  satisfaction in the business, to help you identify gaps in leadership, and to provide a roadmap to build a winning team.

Without giving away all of the book’s secrets, the first few questions, while seeming to be basic, really pinpoint classic flaws in many businesses:

1)  Do I [the employee] know what is expected of me at work?

2)  Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3)  At work, do I  have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

The above questions lead managers to provide solutions that are not rocket science:

 – ensure clear job expectations

 – provide employees with the proper resources

 – slot the right people into the right job (capitalize on each employee’s strengths)

Have a read, use these 12 questions periodically in your business to survey your leadership progress… you’ll find great tools to build a winning corporation!

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Are You a Leader in a Fog?

This is a guest post by Doug Dickerson on Management Moment Leadership Services

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success before they gave up. – Thomas A. Edison

I was fascinated by a story I read not long ago about Florence Chadwick. In 1952 she attempted to swim the chilly ocean waters between Catalina Island and the California shore. She swam through foggy weather and choppy seas for fifteen hours.
As her muscles began to cramp, her resolve was weakened. She begged to be taken from the water, but her mother, riding in a boat alongside, urged her not to give up. She kept trying but she grew exhausted and stopped swimming. Aids lifted her out of the water and into the boat. They paddled a few more minutes, the mist broke, and she discovered that the shore was less than a half mile away. “All I could see was the fog,” she explained at a news conference. “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”
It might be easy for some to criticize Chadwick for giving up when she was so close to the shore. But it does not change the fact that she was in those chilly waters making the effort. What happened to Chadwick is not uncommon to many leaders. If not careful, you can get so caught up in the daily grind of your organization that by the time you realize what is going on you are walking in a fog.
The Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland said, “It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!” But equally as important is who you run with. Are you in a fog? There is a way out, but you will need some help. Here are three things you will need to reach your goals.
 A leader in a fog needs wise counsel.
One of the most valuable assets a leader has in any organization is the counsel of his or her frontline people. When a leader values the counsel and perspective of those who serve on the frontlines it will be a game-changer in terms of the quality of service you can provide.
Unfortunately for Florence Chadwick, when she swam the cold choppy waters she did not have someone to tell her that her goal was within reach. In like fashion, all a discouraged leader may need is the voice of someone to say, “don’t give up, you are almost there!” If you are in a fog, listen to the counsel of those around you; your goal is closer than you may think.
A leader in a fog needs perseverance.
Although she did not reach her goal, Florence Chadwick swam for 15 hours. Can you imagine? All successful leaders have one shared trait in common: resilience. They persevere longer than those who fall short. Julie Andrews said, “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”

The temptation in a fog is to stop striving, avoid uncertainties; to play it safe. The leader who perseveres is not distracted by the fog but remembers the vision and stays the course. If you find yourself in a fog then rest assured that you are not alone. Continue to do what brought you where you are, keep swimming, and don’t give up!

A leader in a fog needs a helping hand.
When Florence Chadwick was physically unable to continue in her quest, aides were by her side to lift her up. She had a lifeline. Conversely, when a leader is surrounded by a committed team of people who share a common purpose and goal, it makes a seemingly impossible task possible.
Charlie Chaplin said, “We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery.” What a great thought. When we commit to sharing in the happiness of each other, and have a stake in that happiness, we all win.
Being in a fog is not at all uncommon. These seasons come to all leaders. How long you stay there might be a variable, but how you go through it is a test of your character. As you keep wise counsel close, persevere through the fog, and share a helping hand, you will come through a stronger leader. Don’t give up!
© 2011 Doug Dickerson

Using Stories to Make Your Point

The following is a guest post from Dave Marr at t2 Managment Training in the UK.  t2 is a specialist management consultancy, established to provide strategic leadership training and development for company directors and management training for their teams.   t2 is one of only a small number of leadership and management development providers to have achieved the prestigious Training Quality Standard.

Using Stories in Order to Make Your Point as a Manager

Prolific leaders and high profile managers have often got a few stories to tell in order to get their point across effectively to their staff.

Why are stories effective?

Stories are processed by a different part of the brain to that which we use to follow instructions. Most people have an aversion to being told what to do, but stories can subdue those feelings by giving us indirect instructions that we don’t mind following. A good story often has a moral or a lesson to be learnt and it is this which drives many people to listen and follow suggestions.

Points and examples work in the same way too. They give people information about how things are supposed to work in addition to what is expected of them. This gives clear focus.

From time to time, you might hear a great story. Try to remember the key points and how it might benefit your staff. Then you can pull it out of the hat when you need to motivate and empower your staff to follow specific instructions or to hit a particular deadline. A good storyteller is always at an advantage, but as long as you remember the main points of the story and the point you are making, you’ll be fine.

You can also find a lot of resources online on how to tell a good story and get your point across effectively.  Find some opportunities to practice this technique. You can use previous employees or employers as examples if they are relevant to your anecdote. This will also help you relate to your own story if you use people you know. As you proceed with the story make sure you integrate those all-important indirect suggestions (in addition to the desired outcome).

Be careful, when you begin relating your stories, that you don’t repeat them or explain too much about them. The power of storytelling is to allow your staff to take away the moral or contents of the story and think about it from their own personal perspective. Ambiguity is often more powerful than direct suggestion and can really make a difference to how your staff perceive you and how they work.

Very often people will ‘listen’ to a story’s message that they won’t listen to in another form. The great thing about a story is that it motivates and gives you something to aim for – if they could do it, wouldn’t can’t you?!

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3 Things I Learned from My Subordinates

Some days I feel like I’m on walking upward on a down escalator — my 25 years of supervising and managing experience isn’t getting me the results I want.   This past few weeks, the managers in my own department have been teaching me a few things:

1)  Know the “style” of the decision-makers in your business

When implementing change in the workplace, key decision makers are critical to have “onside”.  These key players may have different ways of gathering information, processing the facts, coming to conclusions and implementing changes or improvements to the business.

Some styles include:

      – the thinker:  he/she needs information a day or two ahead of meetings so they can mull over and think about the issues and facts at hand

      – the idea driver:  he/she wants the issues articulated but not solutions – they prefer to come up with their own solutions

      – the skeptic:  he/she is very unsure of input from anyone except close, trusted colleagues and advisors.  You will waste your time trying to convince this person of business issues until you spend a considerable length of time building trust and credibility on a personal level.  You may need to demonstrate either loyalty or high technical competence to gain this person’s trust.

     – the bottom liner:  he/she wants the problem and solution summarized quickly and succinctly.  Don’t waste their time (just watch their eyes glaze over) when you go on and on with lots of details and discussion

Adapt your approach to the appropriate style of the business decision-maker who you wish to influence.  Watch for clues as to each person’s style, and if necessary try different techniques until you find approaches that work.

2)  Prioritize your list of issues / initiatives using a mix of business agendas

Consider that your high priorities might not be the same as others in your business, especially leaders in other departments.  Pushing your highest ranking issues at all costs can isolate you and create subtle resistance to everything you are working towards.  Put yourself in the shoes of other departments:  what are their key initiatives?  How can your goals link with their likely goals?   Try finding common goals that you can build as winning initiatives for other stakeholders in the business; this will give you more likelihood of success.

3)  Be patient and work toward success in very small steps  

Executives can be very impatient, wanting results NOW!  (okay, yes, that’s me!)  One of my managers very wisely pointed out to me this week that my timing for pushing an initiative may not be in sync with the timing of others.  Sometimes, others are not “ready” for the changes involved.  Some leaders may need mulling or processing time to consider the risks and alternatives.  Some leaders will want more personal input into ideas or initiatives so they feel they have ownership of the results.  Some leaders will resist all suggestions and help until their own trusted colleagues support the initiative.

The key to success?  Know your customer and your colleagues.  This will help you create win/win opportunities with common goals / solutions, use a pace of change that is relatively comfortable for all parties, and develop approaches that encourage positive acceptance whatever the style of your key decision-makers.

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How to Use Imagery for Better Coaching Results

The following is a guest post from Dave Marr at t2 Management Training in the UK.  t2 is a specialist management consultancy, established to provide strategic leadership training and development for company directors and management training for their teams.   t2 is one of only a small number of leadership and management development providers to have achieved the prestigious Training Quality Standard.

How to Use Imagery for Better Results When Coaching Your Staff

A lot of management and executive coaching techniques use imagery that uses NLP (neurolinguistic programming). It’s an excellent communication tool that can help people to change their habits. However, it’s essential that you break this technique down into manageable ‘chunks’ so they can be used by managers every day.

We all process imagery in a different way to other types of language. An image can be really powerful serving to motivate and move us when they are presented well.

Think of the taste of sticky toffee pudding and now compare it to the recipe. There really is no comparison. Taste wins out every time!

Try to use similar techniques in your communication. Use compelling, sharp images to get your staff imagining experiencing or doing something. Help them to picture how it would feel to learn something new or to achieve an important task. Get them to imagine how they would feel on achieving that task and the satisfaction it would bring.

Below we’ve listed some examples on how to use imagery effectively with your staff:

Mastery or Coping Imaging – this kind of imagery is particularly effective when dealing with challenging tasks or situations. Get your staff to imagine how they would successful deal with a situation. You can project general images or small images with lots of detail. Detailed imagery really assists those who are learning something new.

Modelling Images – This is another useful technique used for coping with challenging tasks and situations. Ask your staff to picture somebody who has a firm grasp on a desired skill or task and go over the steps the person would take to reach their goal. This is a great transitional learning procedure and often assists with problem solving and trouble shooting situations.

Idealised Future Images – This is a brilliant technique for promoting positive learning. Ask your staff to imagine what their life will be like in 5 years. Where do they picture themselves? Where do they want to be? How do they feel? Help them to use their imagination to guide them and to really feel the future that lies in store. This can really make them focus making them more accessible.

Levelling Images – This can be used for dealing with difficult situations and people. It is also very effective for overcoming fear of public speaking or making presentations. Get your staff to picture their audience in their underwear or a particular client in their casual gardening gear or at an informal BBQ with their children around them.

Corrective Images – Another great confidence booster! This can be used especially after somebody has made a mistake. Get them to review the situation and imagine how they would do it again.

Worst Case Scenarios – These are excellent for coping with intimidating situations. Get your staff to imagine the worst situation and the worst outcome. Help them to make a decision on the outcome and if they could cope with it. Now ask them to take an alternative view and to determine a more realistic worst case scenario. Work out how bad the situation would be and whether they need to prepare for it. Now ask them to go ahead and develop a plan of action in the knowledge that they can cope with any imaginable result.

Empathy Images – These are useful for developing the skills needed to read other people. Ask your staff to imagine being in the shoes of another person and to go over the situation from their point of view. What are they thinking or feeling? This is a great way of growing into a better manager capable of reading people more effectively.

Imagery is one of the many executive coaching techniques that work very well. These techniques help managers to lead staff better and to help bring about positive change.

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