Tuesday, April 28, 2009

10 No Bull Tips on How to Lead a Team Meeting

One of the most important responsibilities of a leader is being able to plan and run an effective team meeting. You would think after having sat through hundreds of meetings as a participant, leaders would pick this up through osmosis and trial and error. Yet, it’s been my experience that the art of running a good staff meeting is a neglected part of even the most senior leader’s development.

There’s plenty of information out there on effective meetings…. go ahead, do a search, and review that stuff. It’s all good. And in addition to those standard best practices, here’s 10 tips you probably won’t find. You may find the tone a little harsh… if it comes across that way, it’s because it’s based on personal experience. That is, I’ve made every one of these dumb mistakes, so I’m just trying to stop you from doing the same. Tough love. (:

1. The single most important thing you can do as a leader to improve your team meetings: adjust your own attitude about meetings. I’m appalled at how many managers, at all levels of the organization, are proud to proclaim their hatred of meetings. OK, so help me understand this. In order to achieve significant results, solve problems, make decisions, inform, inspire, and motivate, we have to work with people. Darn, those pesky people. So, we need to get those people together in a room or on a call and actually talk to each other? If you’re a manager, and you hate talking to people, then what the hell is your job? Sitting in your office with the door shut sending emails?
As a leader, try looking at meetings as the manifestation of leadership. Its leadership show time, not something to dread like a trip to the dentist.

2. Don’t delegate the agenda planning to an admin or another team member. As a leader, it’s your meeting. You don’t just waltz in and react to what someone else has planned.

3. Did I say agenda planning? Yes, hopefully every article you’ve read on effective meetings mentioned agendas. Yet, we still show up to meetings where there is none to found. “Planning” is the other thing that’s often missing. Take the time to think about key decisions that need to be made, information that needs to be communicated, who needs to be at the meeting, timing, etc…. “Winging it” is a waste of your team’s time and tells them you don’t really care.

4. Although it’s your responsibility as a leader to plan the agenda, you can still invite team members to contribute agenda items. Send out a call for agenda items a few days before the meeting.

5. Put a little variety in the format. Here are a few things you can do to mix it up:
- Invite guest speakers
- Celebrate something
- Do a “learning roundtable” – have team members take turn teaching each other something
- Watch a video
- Change locations; go off-site
- Bring in some fun or interesting food
- Have a “single item agenda” meeting
- Do lighting round updates
- Bring food (did I already mention that?)
- Do some brainstorming
- Switch chairs; switch anything to break up the monotony!
- But please, no silly teambuilding activities

6. Don’t try to cram so many items into the agenda that there’s no room for discussion or spontaneity. Allow some “white space” for creativity and engagement.

7. Instead of just sharing information, try actually solving a problem, making a decision, or creating something. Yes, it’s challenging and can be messy, but that’s where we get the most value from meetings. Be ready to just roll the dice and be open to any outcome.

8. Get off your throne and lighten up. Being the leader of a meeting isn’t your chance to rule and flaunt your power. Chastising someone in front of the team is a way to do this. Have a sense of humor and humility.

9. Keep track of action items and make sure people do what they say they are going to do. It’s frustrating to show up to the next meeting and find out half the team didn’t bother doing what you stayed late the night before completing. Follow up and inspect before the meeting, and hold individuals accountable.

10. Lastly, be a role model for the kind of behavior you expect to see from others. Team meetings are not a time to let your guard down and kick back with your team. Hold yourself and your team to the highest standards of conduct, which means no off-color jokes, picking on team members, cynicism and sarcasm, and bashing other departments or management. Think about the kind leader your want to be known for, and then show up to each and every meeting being that leader.

How about you? Agree? Disagree? Anything to add?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Americans Are Unethical in Getting Jobs

Here's an article by Brad Smart, one of the world’s foremost experts on hiring and a frequent guest blogger at Great Leadership. Brad has published six books on hiring including the best seller "Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People" and "Topgrading for Sales: World-Class Methods to Interview, Hire, and Coach Top Sales Representatives".

Our society is in need of an ethical transplant. Why? Because it’s widely considered acceptable for job candidates to lie on their resumes and in hiring interviews. Employers, job seekers, and our economy suffer. Topgrading seeks to eliminate the BS.


Many publishers have asked me to write the book, How to BS (my initials, get it?) Your Way Through a Topgrading Interview. No way! Topgraders elicit TRUTH from candidates.

I guess I have the creds to discuss ethics in hiring, since I’ve performed 65,000 oral case studies. Really! I’ve conducted about 6,500 in-depth interviews of pre-screened, mostly A player candidates for mid-to-executive jobs. In the Topgrading Interview I ask why you left the job, how you got the next job, and how it worked out (in detail).

Since my interviewees averaged 10 jobs, that’s 65,000 times I’ve heard how really sharp people manage their career and get jobs – and how they prepared their resume and rehearsed for interviews.

Heads of companies that verify resumes say almost all resumes include hype, and more than 50% contain deliberate, serious falsehoods. A players are at a real disadvantage, because they can honestly claim lots of accomplishments, yet C players dishonestly do the same. Almost all resumes look like A player resumes!

Caught lying, candidates say they are justified because 1. Companies are not necessarily ethical in how they fill jobs (a topic for a different Topgrading Tips), 2. Outplacement counselors tell them they HAVE to lie to get a job, 3. All the books on job hunting say to lie, and besides, 4. Everyone else is doing it — “Playing the job hunting game is just part of our culture.”

Great! The sad fact is that all 4 points have some truth, and so omitting important truths in resumes and interviews is widely acceptable – unethical, dishonest, but acceptable in our culture.

We Americans sometimes act superior to other countries, where business people are said to mean “no” when they say “yes,” or where written contracts seem to be frequently broken. But those same countries make a point that their culture is not so different from ours in the acceptance of marginal ethics, at least in hiring. The example I always hear is, “It’s perfectly okay in the US for job seekers to lie on their resume and in job interviews.”

Is the culture of job hunting dishonesty really so pervasive? Yes. Outplacement companies don’t admit the teach their clients to lie, but more than a dozen outplacement counselors have told me they ALL do it.

Look at the job seeking section of any bookstore and the message is – “BS your way into a job.” The gentle form of our ethical lapse is the advice to hype positives and exclude negatives, and on my desk at the moment are 15 books with sample “scripts” on how to answer interview questions. The message is clear – it’s ok to BS!

Some books don’t beat around the bush. In 44 Insider Secrets That Will Get You Hired author Cynthia Shapiro’s Secret #7 is: You CAN Lie on Your Resume. Secret #31 is: Don’t Ever Admit You Were Fired. She suggests that in your resume and in interviews it’s okay to deceive – for example, to not mention a 3-to 6-month job in which you were fired. Instead, she advises you to say you were conducting an extended job search.

The job hunting books give liars comfort that they won’t be caught. Why? Most companies are so fearful of being sued, they prohibit managers from accepting reference calls. Job hunting books take glee in the fact that former bosses won’t be contacted and they advise job seekers to provide only the most positive references – golfing buddies, insurance agents, neighbors, and priests (okay, I’m exaggerating a bit).


With job seekers reading these books on how to out-interview interviewers, putting their best foot forward and concealing negatives, everyone loses except some C players who otherwise would have to take much lower-paying jobs.

You’ve read our studies – hiring managers like you experience only 25% high performers hired, so your job performance suffers. Or, more likely, you work 70 hours per week to sweep up after mis-hires, sacrificing your personal life.

Companies perform poorer with 75% mis-hires, and the mis-hired employees frequently bounce from job to job. The cost of mis-hires in our economy has been estimated in the trillions of dollars.

In short, like Chicago politicians who take payoffs (“beause dat’s da way we do tings here”), job seekers deliberately deceive prospective employers, like you.

Can we change this rotten, destructive aspect of our culture.? We can try …


In a steadily growing wave of culture change, Topgraders, almost all of whom are A players are making our society more ethical, and just about everyone wins. Topgrading is all about TRUTH in advertising when it comes to resume construction, and all about TRUTH in answering interview questions.

With honestly documented 90% hiring success, Topgrading managers perform better and have balance in life, their employers are more profitable and grow more jobs, and our economy benefits. And the society at large is ore productive, creating more jobs and wealth.

But what about the C players who aren’t hired? They must find jobs where they can perform at a more high level, even if the level of the job isn’t as high.

How do Topgraders create more honest job seekers? You probably know this, but Topgraders begin by letting candidates know that THEY will have to arrange personal reference calls with bosses, in order to get a job offer. This Threat of Reference Check (TORC) Technique inspires honesty. If works! C players drop out (they can’t get former bosses to talk) and A players are happy to arrange those calls. Most important – candidates willing to make those calls are super honest in interviews, knowing you’ll be talking with their bosses.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Seven Enduring Truths About Leadership During Crisis

I listened to a pretty good webcast today sponsored by HR.com and Pfeiffer called Evidence-Based Leadership: Seven Enduring Truths About Leadership During Crisis. The speaker was Jim Kouzes, author of The Leadership Challenge.

Here’s the set-up:

In these uncertain times when the foundations of our global economic system are being challenged, we need to look beyond the pessimistic predictions, the fads, and the simplistic solutions to what's proven and what's real. It's critically important to remind ourselves of what the evidence tells about how leaders get extraordinary things done. We also need to understand the vital role credible leaders play in restoring confidence and in revitalizing organizations. In this webinar Jim will discuss seven of the most enduring and sustainable lessons he and Barry Posner have learned from their recent analyses of global data from 950,000 respondents to their Leadership Practices Inventory—the world's bestselling leadership assessment instrument—and from their work on the 4th edition of The Leadership Challenge.

I took notes as fast as I could, and then downloaded the slides. Here's a summary:

1. In these challenging and difficult times, we are likely to see some of the best leadership we've seen in the last two decades. The greatest leaders throughout history are remembered for how they dealt with change and adversity. When successful leaders were asked about their greatest leadership accomplishments, it was when they had to deal with adversity. So when it comes to leadership and leadership development, we ought to be excited and optimistic in the face of all this adversity. Challenge is the greatest opportunity for greatness!

2. Thousands of young people and working professionals, in two separate surveys, were asked who the most important role models for leadership were. In both categories, most people chose family members, teachers, coaches, and community and business leaders. Very few choose politicians, entertainers, and athletes, the ones who seem to dominate our headlines. So the most important leader role models are YOU, not “them”. The leaders who have the most influence are the ones who are closest to us.

3. The one attribute that is the foundation of all leadership —something that has remained the same for that last 25 years and is not likely to change for the next 25 years – is credibility. That is, doing what you say you’re going to do, walking the talk, keeping commitments, honesty, and trustworthiness. These are the qualities that are consistently selected the most when people are asked what they look for and admire in a leader.

4. Being forward looking was the #1 quality selected as being important for the executive level. It was also selected as the one quality that most differentiated leaders from team members. Over the years, leaders that have taken the LPI have scored the lowest in “inspiring a shared vision”, their version of being forward looking. It’s the most difficult aspect of leadership to learn and put into practice. So if you’re an executive or aspiring leader, this needs to be the focus for your development – start learning how to look ahead, to be forward looking.

5. The leadership quality that has the biggest impact on people’s performance? Modeling the way – setting a good example; being a role model for the kind of values and behaviors we expect in others. You can’t change people’s behaviors by telling them – you have to show them.

6. Personal values drive commitment. I didn’t get the specifics of the research, but Kouzes and company did research that correlates the importance of clarifying personal values vs. organizational values and which has the greater impact on employee commitment.
We often put a lot of effort into defining organizational values, yet according to this study, this has little impact on employee commitment. Yet helping leaders and employees get clarity on their own values – even if unclear on organizational values – had the greatest impact on commitment.

7. Kouzes said at the beginning of the webinar that he would give us the secret to success in life. He left us with this. U.S. Army Major General John H. Stanford was asked about how one becomes a leader.
"When anyone asks me that question, I tell them I have the secret to success in life. The secret to success is to stay in love. Staying in love gives you the fire to really ignite other people, to see inside other people, to have greater desire to get things done than other people. A person who is not in love doesn't really feel the kind of excitement that helps him to get ahead and lead others and to achieve. I don't know any other fire, any other thing in life that is more exhilarating and is more positive a feeling than love is."

So the secret to leadership? Love ‘em and lead ‘em!

Any surprises or reactions? You can download the webcast archive here if you're an HR.com member.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Leaders and Decision Making

Here's a guest post by Sydney Finkelstein, a Professor Strategy and Leadership at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, and the co-author of Think Again: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions and How to Keep it From Happening to You (Harvard Business School Press, 2009). Follow Sydney Finkelstein’s Blog – The Syd Blog.

Decision-making lies at the heart of our personal and professional lives. Every day we make decisions. Some are small, domestic and innocuous. Others are more important; decisions that affect peoples’ lives, livelihoods and wellbeing. Inevitably, we make mistakes along the way. We are only human – even when we are at work. Indeed, the daunting reality is that enormously important decisions made by intelligent, responsible people with the best information and intentions sometimes go wrong.

Ken Lewis of Bank of America made a disastrous acquisition of Merrill Lynch. Juergen Schremp, CEO of Daimler Benz, led the merger of Chrysler and Daimler Benz against internal opposition. Nearly 10 years later, Daimler was forced to virtually give Chrysler away in a private equity deal. Kun-Hee Lee, CEO of Samsung, pushed his company into a disastrous investment in automobiles. As losses mounted, he was forced to sell the car division for a tenth of the billions he had invested. Richard Fuld refused to accept the consequences of the worsening credit crisis and consider a sale of Lehman until it was too late. When he was ready, there were no buyers to be found. And CEO Jerry Yang insisted that his Yahoo! was worth much more than the market, or Microsoft, believed it to be. In the end, his stubborn refusal to consider Microsoft’s overture to buy the company cost shareholders $30 billion, and Jerry Yang his job. (And perhaps the story repeats itself at Sun with founder Scott McNealy resisting IBM’s overtures.)

Whether the decision is a personal one, as in the case of Yang and McNealy, or of global importance, as in the case of the meltdown of the financial markets in 2008, mistakes happen. But, why do good leaders make bad decisions? And, how can we reduce the risk of it happening to us?

I’ve been working on this issue for much of the last dozen years, and a lot of my thinking boils down to this: we are all subject to a series of decision-making biases that make us think we are right when we are really wrong!

Take Ken Lewis and Merrill Lynch, for example. If you look at the deals Bank of America made both under Lewis’ predecessor, Hugh McColl, and later under Lewis, there were two primary defining attributes. The companies were in mainstream banking, and the economy was not in severe distress. This was true for NationsBank’s acquisition of BankAmerica as it was true for Bank of America’s acquisition of FleetBoston. These were deals for which there was an established playbook – cut overhead costs, consolidate assets, and build bulk to fend off competitors and create new business opportunities. When it came to Merrill, the playbook no longer applied. Merrill, perhaps the poster child for sub-prime excess, almost wrote the book on toxic assets. Add in a global financial crisis – remember that both Bear Stearns and Lehman had essentially failed by mid-September when Bank of America agreed to acquire Merrill – and it is apparent that Lewis’ experience built up over decades of deal-making was not only off the mark, it was dangerously so. Relying on misleading experience is one of the most common explanations for bad decisions we have identified in our research, and Bank of America is now Exhibit A.

There are other fundamental biases in how people think that can lead to other big mistakes. One of the most powerful is personal attachments – to people, to places, and to things. These attachments make the world go round, so none of us would want to eliminate them from our lives. But sometimes, when we allow ourselves to give in, these attachments push us into potentially dangerous territory. To me, Jerry Yang’s refusal to sell to Microsoft, and Scott McNealy’s (so far) unrealistic attitude toward IBM and its very generous takeover offer of Sun, are classic illustrations of attachments in action. Founders of companies find it very difficult to let go, and perhaps that is why God created venture capitalists to ante up their money and have the fortitude to remove the founder CEO when necessary. When these powerful founders are still in place, they are influential. For Yang, why sell to Microsoft, the evil empire of the computer industry? For McNealy, why sell to IBM, and give up everything that he’s built over years of hard work? Both are attached to their companies, so much so that they cannot readily separate their personal needs (for control, for association) and their responsibilities as stewards of these two companies. And so deals that should be done are not done.

What to do? I’ve advocated four key steps to reduce our vulnerabilities to making bad decisions:

(1) Make sure you’ve got lots of data sources, internal and external, that can enhance our ability to assess what is really going on.

(2) Make sure you’ve got the right people around the table. Not just talent, but people who are unafraid to push back and challenge.

(3) Make sure you are monitoring any important decisions in real-time, ready to step in and make adjustments before the momentum becomes too great.

(4) Make sure to create a robust governance system, perhaps the hardest challenge of all because this really means that the board of directors is active, vigilant, and strong. A tall order to be sure.

The reality is that leaders can make good decisions. But, to do so, we need to broaden our understanding of what happens when we are confronted with the usual mix of unstructured and incomplete data, different perspectives, time pressures and other sources of uncertainty. We all share some common attributes because of how our brains have evolved, and these attributes have much to do with how we think and act. If leaders are aware of what might go wrong, we will be in a much better position to make the right decisions, at the right time.

Friday, April 17, 2009

How to Create a Culture of Accountability and Hold People Accountable

Here are a couple of questions from readers on the topic of accountability:

1. “I have recently been part of several discussions on accountability, and I am curious to hear/read your perspective. Some of the salient discussion points have included: for what should leaders be held accountable? Results and behaviors? Once it's been determined for what they should be held accountable, how do you make accountability happen? What must occur within the organization in order to ensure accountability is a cultural expectation? If you have any insight into this topic, I'd love to read about it.”

2. “What are the top 3 ways to hold people accountable?”

It’s no surprise that accountability is a hot topic these days - it tends to come up when things are not going well. In fact, most people think of accountability as knowing who to hang for poor performance or mistakes.

Here’s Webster’s definition of accountability: “subject to having to report, explain, or justify; being answerable, responsible.”

No wonder it has such a negative connotation. And since most people view it as something to get hit over the head with, we tend to avoid it and instead focus our energy on coming up with creative excuses, blaming, or finger pointing.

I changed my worldview on what accountability was all about when I was doing research for some culture change work for my last company. We knew we needed to “create a culture of accountability”, but there were a lot of different opinions as to what that really meant and how to go about it.

I came across the work of Roger Connors and Tom Smith, from the consulting and training company Partners in Leadership. Their first book, The Oz Principle, defines accountability in a much more positive way, and describes how to develop it yourself and coach others. Their second book, Journey To The Emerald City, builds on that work, and outlines how to create a culture of accountability.

I like that they’ve created a more positive and useful definition of accountability: “A personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results – to see it, own it, solve it, and do it.”

Their book and training programs go into detail on each of these four steps to accountability. In a nutshell, it’s all about defining accountability early, before problems occur, being open to feedback and willing to face problems, taking ownership, problem solving, and proactive follow-up.

The opposite of this kind of behavior is blaming, finger pointing, and excuse making. I’ve shown segments of an old 1994 ABC News John Stossell 20/20 segment called “The Blame Game: Are We a Country of Victims”, as a way to introduce and discuss this topic. While it’s easy to see the behavior in others, most people can’t help see a bit of it in themselves as well.

In the Emerald City book, Connors and Smith go on to outline how to create a culture of accountability. Their methodology, which can be used for any culture change, consists of the following steps:

1. Define clear results within your organization

2. Define the actions required to achieve the results

3. Identify the beliefs that produce these actions

4. Create experiences that instill the right beliefs

The book gives a lot more details, checklists, and tools to lead a group through these steps.

In response to the second reader question, “What are the top 3 ways to hold people accountable?”, here’s a “simple” six step method, from the training and consulting company Communico:

S = Set Expectations

I = Invite Commitment

M = Measure Progress

P = Provide Feedback

L = Link to Consequences

E = Evaluate Effectiveness

Finally, I’ll leave you with a story of four people:

This is a story of four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.

It ended that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

- Unknown

Friday, April 10, 2009

Moon Shots for Management: Management 2.0

In May 2008 a group of 35 management scholars and practitioners – including such gurus as Chris Argyris, Henry Mintzberg, Peter Senge, Gary Hamel and Kevin Kelly – spent two days at Half Moon Bay, California, where they created an ambitious agenda for management innovation.

The results of their discussions are published in "Moon Shots for Management", an article written by Gary Hamel that appears in the February 09 issue of Harvard Business Review.
The article, while short of the "how-tos", is generating a lot of buzz and is worth taking a look at at.

Here's a summary from HBR:

Management is undoubtedly one of humankind’s most important inventions. For more than a hundred years, advances in management—the structures, processes, and techniques used to compound human effort—have helped to power economic progress. Problem is, most of the fundamental breakthroughs in management occurred decades ago. Work flow design, annual budgeting, return-on-investment analysis, project management, divisionalization, brand management—these and a host of other indispensable tools have been around since the early 1900s. In fact, the foundations of “modern” management were laid by people like Daniel McCallum, Frederick Taylor, and Henry Ford, all of whom were born before the end of the American Civil War in 1865.

The Idea in brief:
The evolution of management has traced a classic S-curve. After a fast start in the early twentieth century, the pace of innovation gradually decelerated and in recent years has slowed to a crawl. Management, like the combustion engine, is a mature technology that must now be reinvented for a new age. With this in mind, a group of scholars and business leaders assembled in May 2008 to lay out a road map for reinventing management.

Building an agenda for management innovation
The group’s immediate goal was to create a roster of make-or-break challenges—management moon shots—that would focus the energies of management innovators everywhere. The participants were inspired in part by the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, which recently proposed 14 grand engineering challenges—such as reverse engineering the human brain, advancing health informatics, and developing methods for carbon sequestration—for the twenty-first century (to see the full list, go to engineeringchallenges.org). Why, we wondered, shouldn’t managers and management scholars commit to equally ambitious goals?

The 25 moon shots
1. Ensure that management’s work serves a higher purpose.
2. Fully embed the ideas of community and citizenship in management systems.
3. Reconstruct management’s philosophical foundations.
4. Eliminate the pathologies of formal hierarchy.
5. Reduce fear and increase trust.
6. Reinvent the means of control.
7. Redefine the work of leadership.
8. Expand and exploit diversity.
9. Reinvent strategy making as an emergent process.
10. De-structure and disaggregate the organization.
11. Dramatically reduce the pull of the past.
12. Share the work of setting direction.
13. Develop holistic performance measures.
14. Stretch executives’ timeframes and perspectives.
15. Create a democracy of information.
16. Empower renegades and disarm reactionaries.
17. Expand the scope of employee autonomy.
18. Create internal markets for ideas, talent, and resources.
19. Depoliticize decision making.
20. Better optimize trade-offs.
21. Further unleash human imagination.
22. Enable communities of passion.
23. Retool management for an open world.
24. Humanize the language and practice of business.
25. Retrain managerial minds.

If you go to the Harvard Business Review website you can see a brief description of the 25 challenges, and you can rate them in two ways:
How important it is that your organization makes progress on each challenge over the next two or three years.
The degree of progress your organization has already made in addressing the challenge.

Has management as we know it today outlived it's usefulness? What do you think of the moonshots?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

10 Strategies for Building Leadership Optimism

When I’m working with leaders to identify their most critical development needs, either for themselves, or for their direct reports, sometimes issues like “lack of confidence”, “low self esteem”, or “too pessimistic” (“she’s such a “Debbie downer…”) become a part of the discussion.

If these were just trivial personality quirks, we could easily dismiss them. But in the context of these discussions, they’re not. There are seen as root causes or either poor performance or issues that are holding someone back from being considered for promotion.

I don’t have a clinical background, so I find myself ill-equipped to make developmental suggestions. Some would categorize these sort of things as “Emotional Intelligence”, and I’ll admit, I’m no expert in this area either.

Fortunately, Martyn Newman is. Martyn’s a PhD consulting psychologist with an international reputation as an expert in emotional intelligence and leadership. He’s written a book called “Emotional Capitalists; The New Leaders”.

The book builds on Daniel Goleman’s work, and focuses more on how to develop EQ, vs. describing what it is and why it’s important.

Here’s an an example, a checklist from his chapter on how to develop optimism as a leader (a little something we could all use more of these days):

1. Look for the benefit in every situation, especially when you experience setbacks.

2. Seek the valuable lesson in every problem or difficulty – remember there are no mistakes, only lessons.

3. Focus on the task to be accomplished rather than your negative emotions, such as disappointment or fear, and see the possibilities within the task.

4. View success and happiness as your normal state and see negative events as temporary glitches on the path to your inevitable success.

5. Don’t take setbacks personally; take responsibility but recognize the influence of external factors on the situation.

6. Choose to put a positive spin on it, whatever it is.

7. View every experience as a positive opportunity for growth and self-mastery.

8. Decatastrophise and ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen, and can I live with it?” Then focus on doing everything you can to minimize the fallout.

9. Depersonalize and redefine situations in terms of their external causes.

10. Dispute negative pervasive thoughts by identifying your irrational thinking and replace it with more reasonable or rational thinking.

Other EQ skills covered in the book are self-reliance, assertiveness, self-actualization, self-confidence, relationship skills, and empathy.

When it comes to leadership development and success, the “soft” stuff is usually the root cause of the “hard” stuff. This book gives you a way to develop that soft stuff called EQ.

Note: If you’d like a complimentary code so that you can take the Emotional Capital Inventory and get a free Summary Report of your scores on optimism and the 9 other EQ Leadership skills, just go to Martyn’s site at http://www.emotionalcapitalists.com/, drop him a note requesting a code and he’ll send you one on my behalf.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The April Leadership Development Carnival Spring Edition

Welcome to the April Leadership Development Carnival Spring Edition!

There were almost 100 articles submitted to this month's carnival, and after a rigorous vetting process, I'm pleased to present to you my favorites.

Go ahead and take some time to grow your leadership skills, you deserve it!

Here they are, in no particular order:

Every decision you make in tough times has an emotional impact that lasts far beyond the moment. Every one is a moment of truth. That goes double for the way you treat people. Wally Bock presents Moments of Truth posted at Three Star Leadership Blog.

Mary Jo Asmus presents "I Work For You" posted at Intentional Leadership.

There are 3 questions that just have to be asked during your performance appraisal. If your manager is experienced in conducting reviews, then he or she will ask them for sure. If not, then you must ask them. For the answers are the most important things you will learn during your review. What are they? Simon Stapleton presents Powerful Performance Review Questions posted at ACE Your Performance Review.

Employee engagement can make as much difference in both good times and bad times. Therefore knowing how to do it well is something all managers should have as a priority. This post shows some best practice in action.. Chris Morgan presents Employee Engagement posted at Learn2Develop - Thoughts from the World of Learning and Development.

Jack Welch demonstrates that leadership means knowing when to change your mind: Charles H. Green presents Jack Welch Renounces Increasing Shareholder Value: Pigs Fly > Trust Matters : Trusted Advisor Associates posted at Trust Matters.

An inspiring story of a remarkable woman who overcame many obstacles to eventually lead an important engineering achievement: Vivian Wong presents Ada Lovelace Day - First Female Railway Engineer in NSW (Australia) posted at TalentedApps.

A major error when hiring is to compensate a so-called "star" based on the assumption that top performance is independent of management and environment. Miki Saxon presents Pay For Performance posted at MAPping Company Success.

I believe 99% of Managers know the basics of Management but only a small percentage actually do it. Why is that?Here's why... GreatManagement presents 99% Of All Managers Know The Basics Of Management But� posted at GreatManagement Blog.

Eric Pennington presents How Leaders Can Overcome Insecurity posted at Epic Living - Leadership Development Career Management Training Executive Life Coaching Author.

This post discusses the difference between a leader who is not afraid to roll up his/her sleeves and go to work; to lead the way for the people vs. a pusher who tries to force people to do things he/she is not willing to do. Michael Ray Hopkin presents Leader or pusher? posted at Lead on Purpose.

Layoffs, downsizing, restructuring, terminations - no matter what it's called, nobody is happy when people lose their jobs. And few companies have any strategies in place to help survivors. Erik Samdahl presents Keep Layoffs from Killing Performance - i4cp posted at Katherine Fair.

Being organized creates harmony in body/mind and leads to success. Here is a supremely useful time management tool to help you focus & succeed! I've used this ever since I learned about it in my MBA ~ Great management consultant tool too! A. Lee presents Time Management: Tools, Tips & Techniques posted at One World Healing.

Mark Stelzner presents What They Didn?t Teach You In Kindergarten posted at Inflexion Point.
This podcast is on how to create trust with virtual teams...very good and timely stuff - Wayne Turmel presents The Cranky Middle Manager Show #185 Building Trust Remotely with John Blackwell posted at TPN :: The Cranky Middle Manager Show.

Over the years, I have discovered success is powered by three things: know-how, reputation and a network of contacts. That's it. That's the secret. John Agno presents Who do you trust? posted at Coaching Tip: The Leadership Blog.

Tips on how to spot the future leaders in your midst: Friend presents 12 early signs of leadership potential posted at Literal Thinking.

Be sure to take every opportunity to help others and to ask them to do the same for people within their network. If we can create an atmosphere in which this type of behavior is commonplace, recognized and encouraged, the limits we have are boundless. And in these difficult times, helping others will be appreciated tremendously by all involved. Nina Simosko presents Pay it Forward posted at NinaSimosko.com.

Easy to digest information on how using your body can add another dimension to your speaking efforts: Marcus Smith presents Amplify Your Speech With Your Body posted at MarcusASmith.com.

How you think about and present your ideas makes your people's work either easier or more difficult. Miki Saxon presents Ducks In A Row: Are You A Simplifier Or A Complexifier? posted at Leadership Turn.

Chris Young presents Should Companies Retain Skilled Employees and Managers? posted at Maximize Possibility Blog.

William Matthies presents Business Wisdom: Words to Manage By: Resource Allocation: What Will And Will Not Be Done? posted at Business Wisdom: Words to Manage By.

Amit presents How to Pick the Right Team posted at Mystic Madness.

Development starts before day one with onboarding. Alice Snell presents Onboarding Delivers More Productivity/Lowers Costs posted at Taleo Blog - Talent Management Solutions.

We all need the improvement that comes from stretching -- personally, professionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. Tom Magness presents Still Stretching posted at Leader Business.

Shawn M. Driscoll presents Making Peace With Time posted at Shawn Driscoll.

This is a post on how personal leadership shines in difficult times - Tanmay Vora presents Personal Leadership - It shines in difficult times posted at QAspire.

Mike King presents 8 Steps for Acting on Inspiration posted at Learn This.

If you master the power of your presence, the rest comes sooooooo much easier. When you master the art of presence, you can walk into a stall and the horse will respect you. You can stand in front of a group of mildly interested peers and instantly grab their attention, because they respect you. Pamela explains how. Pamela Cournoyer presents Presence in the Presence-tation posted at Online Wellness: A Safe Haven.

This article was created to assist someone and give them pointers in looking for a mentor for themselves. Tracy Repchuk presents How to Select a Mentor by Tracy Repchuk posted at Internet Marketing with Tracy Repchuk the Marketing Makeover Maestro.

Are you managing remote team members? Listen in to this nine minute podcast as Wayne Turmel offers tips and tools to help. Nick McCormick presents Tips for Managing Remote Teams posted at Joe and Wanda on Management.

Learning from bee and birds on collective leadership in this new collaborative world: Raj Sheelvant presents New Kind of Leadership in Collaborative World posted at IT Strategy.

Steve Goodwill presents Life Lessons from Gandhi and Clint Eastwood posted at Learning Through Experience.

That's it for this month's edition! I'm going to be shifting to a bi-monthly format, so the next Leadership Development Carnival will be hosted right here on June 7th. Use the carnival submission form on the sidebar if you'd like to submit a post.

Also, check out the latest HR Carnival hosted by Kelly Dingee over at Fistful of Talent.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Top Ten Challenges of the New Leader

One of, if not the most challenging leadership development passages is that of a brand new leader.

Who can ever forget that first supervisory role? This is where we make most of our mistakes and learn many of our most valuable leadership lessons.

Those of us who have been training generations of new leaders have collected hundreds of war stories, and can recognize the predictable and repeatable patterns. We do our best to pass along the wisdom of leaders who have survived and thrived in their first leadership roles.

I’ve written a post called 7 Myths About Management, so that potential leaders can explore their own motivations and make sure they are making a choice based on reality and facts, and not misperceptions.

One of my favorite bloggers, Art Petty, has co-authored a book called Practical Lessons in Leadership; a Guidebook for Aspiring and Experienced Leaders. I love the book – I’d highly recommend it for any leader. In fact, if I could only give ONE book to a brand new leader, it might be this one.

One of the best chapters is called “The Top 10 Challenges You Face as a New Leader”. It’s a deceptively simple but powerful list. Here’s a summary:

1. People do not naturally want to be led by you.
It may come as a shock, but no one is particularly interested in working for YOU. A promotion and a title might bestow grudging tolerance and even a little bit of deference, but never credibility or true respect. First, prove your credibility and then earn their respect.

2. Everyone has an agenda…they just don’t always share it.
New leaders like to believe that everyone looks at business challenges, department objectives and initiatives from the same perspective – theirs. Learn to truly pay attention to your associates, in order to understand their unique agendas, motivations, interests, and ambitions.

3. The personal problems of your associates will become your problems if you let them (and sometimes you can’t help it).
New Managers, and even experienced ones, attract their team’s personal problems like flowers attract bees. You will find yourself on the receiving end of people’s challenges in their personal lives, with their health, their finances, their romances, their children, and just about every other dilemma that humans encounter.
Learn to keep the focus on business but remember to be a human being.

4. Your instinct says “Do it because I’m the boss.” Your instinct is wrong.
“Because I said so” is best left for your parenting chores and checked at the door when you enter the office. Success comes when you realize that “you” are not the subject.

5. It takes time to learn and internalize the parable of “The Scorpion and the Frog.”
Recognize that people do not change their nature.

6. We all have weaknesses; don’t make them your focal point.
It’s not your responsibility to fix the flaws of your associates. Learn to leverage people’s strengths and develop teams where the members have complementary skills, and you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams.
Dan’s note: I’ll admit, new leaders tend to start off overly nit-picky; but I’m sure Art would agree that there are times when weaknesses do have to be addressed.

7. The key to leading people is obvious. Too bad no one will tell you what it is.
Well, Art will – the answer is “Respect”. It’s all about treating people with respect.

8. The most important part of your job is probably not in your job description.
Creating an effective work environment is your real job.

9. Beware of over-investing your time and energy with the wrong people.
Every manager will at some point get to deal with a “brilliant problem child” employee – with outstanding technical skills but fatal flaws when it comes to people skills. These employees lack the emotional intelligence to recognize their aberrant behaviors, and therefore rarely if ever change. When dealing these employees, be fair and be decisive.

10. You are responsible for your team’s results.
It’s your name on the door and you are accountable. It’s not pleasant to feel the cold hand of reality slapping you across the face, but then again, its real life.

How about you? Do you have a favorite challenge to pass along to a new leader?