Posted on June 19, 2013 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership
Today’s post is by Phil Buckley, author of Change with Confidence: Answers to the 50 Biggest Questions that Keep Change Leaders Up at Night. (CLICK HERE to get your copy) Here’s Phil…
Leaders react differently when tasked with leading a big change. I experienced this when I led change management for a merger. Each of the department leaders I met with while scoping the project approached it differently: some asked detailed questions while others just listened; some expressed concerns while others seemed unaffected; and some wanted help while others didn’t.
They all had two things in common – leading a big change was new to them and none of them felt the project would go smoothly. Years later, I realized that confidence is the most important characteristic leaders can draw upon when leading change. They need to be confident that they are speaking to the right people, paying attention to the right things and creating the right environment for team members to take on new ways of behaving and working.
All big change projects require significant adjustments. Most require new attitudes, capabilities, processes, systems and relationships. Leaders must confidently lead their people through these unknown, difficult and often uncomfortable changes. Comfort with ambiguity and grace under pressure are essential attributes of the successful leader leading change.
Confidence is tested the most when leaders can’t answer questions based on their past experience. Their operational experience doesn’t translate well to the circumstances and issues they have to manage during change. What has made them successful in the past has little bearing on their ability to successfully lead change. Since they have no reference point upon which to form a view or base a decision, they feel like they are trapped in a burning building where going left looks as safe as going right.
When faced with new questions relating to the change, leaders often fall back on their gut instincts or act on the first information they get. Making decisions quickly is crucial to effective change, but by doing this, they can unintentionally lay landmines that will detonate later when changes are made.
Here are three approaches you can take to build your confidence in leading a big change:
Posted on June 17, 2013 | 2 Comments
Categories: Career, Communications
Why do I say they sucked? Typos, poor formatting, too long, too qualitative, too flowery, too boring, too nebulous. I’ve written about resume writing mistakes and resume myths before so today’s post is written to complement those perspectives.
First, remember – all a resume does is get you a chance to interview for the job. It does not get you the job. That said, resumes can quickly eliminate you from contention in the first place if the resume happens to suck (see above for suck reasons).
One other big suck reason in addition to the ones above is poor writing. Words matter. If you’re boring, lazy, and unoriginal in your writing, the recruiter won’t even pick up the phone to extend an interview your way. One of the most boring, laziest things I repeatedly see is the use of the word “develop.” It is the most overused, useless word in resume writing. Unless you work in the photo finishing section at Walgreens, you don’t develop anything.
Right now some of you are saying to yourselves “That’s fine Mike but I don’t overuse the word ‘develop’ – I’ve used it very sparingly in my resume.” I’ll bet you a cup of coffee right now that if your resume is longer than one page that you’ve got the word “develop” in there more than four times. And no – if the word is in your actual title (e.g., Director of Business Development) it doesn’t count. Are you up for the challenge? Open your resume in MS Word. Hit CTRL + F. Type in “develop” then click Reading Highlight then “Highlight All” and watch the yellow highlighting flow. If it’s in there more than four times, please send $4.55 to my PayPal account – I drink quad shot venti caramel macchiatos (and if it’s in there fewer than four times, consider this free blog post as my payment for my end of the bet).
“But Mike, what words should I use instead of “develop” because I don’t know what else to say?
I’m glad you asked. Here are 101 alternatives (along with 4 words that will immediately get your resume tossed in the trash by me and other mean hiring managers):
Posted on June 12, 2013 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Business Toolkit, Communications, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Project Management
Today’s post is by Maynard Webb, author of Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship (CLICK HERE to get your copy). Here’s Maynard…
In business, as in life, one thing is always certain—you will run into problems. But contrary to popular belief, problems are not bad things. In fact, I think they can be good things—if you look out for them and work to fix them fast.
People fear problems and as a result, they love to ignore them. The irony: that’s really what fuels them. If you can find problems early, you often can solve them when it takes a relatively minor act to fix (and you can get to an exponentially better place fairly quickly). The worst time to solve a problem is when it becomes a major issue and either spins out of control or results in public embarrassment. Think about Netflix going down on Christmas Eve due to AWS issues. I am sure that no one at Netflix was expecting to do damage control on Christmas Eve. It should not have gotten to that point.
The best way to solve any kind of problem is to build into the corporate culture a practice and process that will help to seek out issues early and take care of them. Andy Grove wrote about this in his epic book, Only The Paranoid Survive. Often there is expertise to solve an issue or concern within the company, but people don’t feel empowered (or sanctioned) to do it. Teams need to acknowledge their biggest issues, understand what can be done to fix them, then know it is not optional to let the current situation continue.
When I arrived at eBay people had convinced themselves that availability and scalability issues were okay as what we were doing was “hard” and hadn’t been done before. That’s not acceptable. Problems need to be solved, not supported.
So what’s the process and path to fixing problems early? Read More…
Posted on June 10, 2013 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Leadership
Today’s post focuses on the importance of creating personal behavioral guidelines for yourself. It’s an excerpt from One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership (you can get your copy here).
I have been in my share of uncomfortable situations where all the choices before me were painful ones. As much as I would have liked to have punted on the decision, I was the leader and I had to make the choice. Those uncomfortable moments were and continue to be perfect times to rely on my maxims to assist me with my decision making. Over the years I have learned to rely on a maxim for these purposes:
- What would Nana say? (For reference, Nana is my grandmother.)
The maxim is straightforward and simple. It evokes strong emotions for me. Whose nana wouldn’t stir emotions in their heart? This maxim enables me to step outside myself and ask what another person would think about my behavior. It is one thing to disappoint myself. It is another thing entirely to disappoint Nana. The thought of letting her down and doing something of which she would disapprove is a powerful deterrent to bad behavior for me. The maxim is easy to explain and understand. It is much harder to put into practice especially in high-pressure situations. Permit me to share some examples.
Posted on June 5, 2013 | 2 Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership
Today’s post is by Dr. Marilyn Jacobson, author of Turning the Pyramid Upside Down: A New Leadership Model (CLICK HERE to get your copy). Here’s Marilyn…
During a one-on-one meeting with Ann Yee-Kono, Executive Vice President of Investment Operations and Technology with Ares Management, we spoke about her prominence in the firm and her participation in Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit.
She asked me what attributes I thought were needed to be a truly outstanding CEO. I replied with a few points, but I have continued to think about her question ever since. She is a rare example of how leadership adds value in a dramatically growing and changing organization. Her emphasis on both individual and team development is what smart leaders must adopt.
Ann started her career at Ares by implementing a global technology platform. While the system proved to be highly effective, it was the thorough, dedicated manner in which she conducted the project that won her praise. As a positive agent for change, she has built a multi-skilled team that is entrepreneurial, disciplined, and accurate. She cross-trains people so that they are continuously learning and being challenged. Her reports describe her as someone who motivates them and differentiates the way she works with individual team members.
She is very conscious of being a leader with all the responsibility that it entails, especially in a company like Ares, which consists of many separate and distinct businesses. As a private equity firm, Ares has several partners, each with unique staffing and team requirements. Being knowledgeable and staying on top of all aspects of the firm is critical. Ensuring that each of her team members is capable and reliable in their effort to support their partners’ increasing demands is also a constant challenge.
Posted on June 3, 2013 | 9 Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Sales, Strategy, Training
I love the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Great tunes especially at 3AM on a Friday night. They’ve also got an incredibly relevant message for how you can grow your business: Give it away, give it away, give it away now! (I’ll spare you the repeats).
No. I haven’t fallen and hit my head again. I routinely give away our stuff. Our services. Our content (ummm… yeah, you’re reading a FREE blog full of our intellectual property and the only price I ask is comments and telling your friends – you are telling your friends, right?). But I give it away deliberately and with purpose.
Have you ever been in that “free seminar” that was nothing more than a disguised sales pitch? Infuriating, huh? Did you buy the speaker’s stuff? Didn’t it grate on you when they’d say “so those are the first two steps in our secret ten step process. Buy the other eight steps for just $999.99!”
Those folks aren’t successful long term. They need to learn how to give it away. So do you. Allow me to explain. Read More…
Posted on May 29, 2013 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Innovation, Leadership
Today’s post is by Mark Hopkins, author of Shortcut to Prosperity: 10 Entrepreneurial Habits and a Roadmap for an Exceptional Career (CLICK HERE to get your copy). Here’s Mark…
While I think being an entrepreneur is awesome, I know it’s not for everybody. But being an entrepreneurial actuary is. What do entrepreneurial actuaries do? They learn to be aware of those moments when an opportunity presents itself (the essence of entrepreneurship) and learn how to quickly sort out the risks and rewards of pursuing the opportunity (the function of an actuary). It’s not all about entrepreneurship—you can and should leverage these skills within an established organization.
The problem is, we are not typically trained to do this. Our education system works best when students pay attention and avoid distractions. Focus on the work in front of you and accept the solution you’re offered. How many times were you encouraged to think of a problem in a different light or to develop your own solution in school? Probably not often. The goal of formal education is to give you the tools you need to gain perspective, communicate, reason, and solve problems that you are likely to encounter in life. The problem is that the same “color inside the lines” system is employed in most colleges and virtually every workplace that I have ever experienced.
Static Companies Focus on Productivity
Employers value productivity in the workforce, especially from employees at the entry level. And productivity comes from doing the same activity, the same “right” way every time, getting faster and more proficient each time you do it. The result is to drive quality and productivity up, but the unintended consequence is to deemphasize the use of your brain to figure out better ways to do things. No ad-libbing please. That’s how mistakes are made. And most organizations have gotten very good at cultivating these kind of workers. But efficiently producing today’s products is no longer good enough. They also need to be continually evolving along with their customers.
Leading Companies Continually Innovate
Posted on May 27, 2013 | 2 Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Leadership
As a leader, one of your many responsibilities is keeping things in perspective. I’ve got some suggestions for how you do that through an excerpt from One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership (you can get your copy here).
Many of us take the events in our lives way too seriously. Anything and everything ends up being viewed as serious and important. Little things become larger than they really are and can seem more critical than truly important things. When you take things too seriously, you lose perspective. Losing perspective creates stress. Stress makes you fat, bald, gray and dead earlier than you should be.
When the human body is stressed, all attention is pulled in and focused on the stressor. Vision becomes tunneled and “extraneous” information is blocked to enable focus on the perceived threat. It is biology at work. Going back to the days before time, when a caveman saw a saber tooth tiger emerge from the woods, he ignored anything not related to getting away from that threat.
Those same instincts have remained with us for thousands of years. When we perceive a threat we focus on it to the exclusion of everything else around us. That reaction is a defense mechanism that prevents distractions from taking our attention away from the survival task at hand. The problem is this physiological reaction causes us to lose perspective. This focusing instinct does not serve us as well as it did the caveman because there are not too many saber tooth tigers running around the cubicles of the office.
If you examine how this instinctive reaction to a stressor manifests itself in the modern world you will see how dysfunctional it can be. Imagine you are the brand manager responsible for your company’s website. When you see a formatting error on your website (which remember, you are responsible for) you realize millions of consumers might notice it and they will think less of your brand which means your sales will drop which will crater your stock price which will destroy your 401k OH MY GOD YOU’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO RETIRE! See how quickly that happens?