Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Learning The Softer Side Of Leadership

Learning The Softer Side Of Leadership is a blog post from Fast Company magazine. When I first saw a link to this post, my initial reaction was another soft and sappy article about holding hands and chanting together. I decided to click through anyway and see what the meat of the post was about. Turns out I really enjoyed the read and thought it would be worth sharing.

Our company, Hopkins Printing, has been going through a lean transformation for the last three plus years. It has been a difficult and time consuming process that has resulted in some great gains in productivity, engagement and improvement. One of the pieces we have added is an annual strategy session that results in three top goals that then drive department and personal goals for each person in the company. This is where we are in alignment with "Learning The Softer Side Of Leadership" because it focuses on getting everyone in the company aligned with the strategic goals of the company. The hard side of leadership is the daily activities and the "to do's" that consume so much of our time and energy. The soft side is trying to keep the mood and the attitude of the team moving in a unified direction.

Below is the headline for the blog post - "Leaders' primary objective is to empower others to make decisions and take actions that are aligned with the organization’s vision, purpose, and strategy. These nuances are the softer side of leadership, beyond the technical skills that you have already mastered." This statement gives the overall purpose of the post. Our job as leaders is to get the entire company moving in a unified direction. This is the softer side.

Friday, March 23, 2012

6 Lessons for CEOs from ‘Boy CEO’ Mark Zuckerberg

Not sure that I like the title of this post but it does make a point. A leader like Mark Zuckerberg can teach us more than we may expect. The title of this comes from a newsletter put out by Chief Executive magazine. The article covers a series of things that Mark does that have taken him from a college website programmer to the CEO of Facebook. Facebook has grown at an amazing speed and Mark has been able to lead the company through the growth and it appears he will do the same after the IPO. Below are a couple of the points from the article - click to the article to read them all.

Make your own development a priority. I have read that the average CEO reads a book a month to improvement him/herself. To grow and improve, this is a great goal. Think of your top weaknesses, whether it's HR, marketing, strategy, leadership, operations or something else, and find some good books to improve in any area of weakness. It is also good to occasionally read on the subjects you are strong in so you don't get behind.

Be open. To be a great leader you must be open and willing to over communicate. Many times I make the mistake of thinking everyone knows what I know - which is rarely true. One speaker I have heard said it this way, "In the absence of information people assume the worst". This is so true in business. Make sure you spend extra time being clear about what is going on and more importantly, where the group is headed.

Enjoy the article and become more like Zuckerberg.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

When Office Technology Overwhelms, Get Organized

If you were asked whether or not you were more productive than you were ten years ago - how would you answer? Many would give a resounding "no" because they are overwhelmed and buried by the stream of information coming through the various technologies we all have. Cel phones, Twitter, Facebook, texting, Linkedin, email, RSS feeds, newspapers (yes, I still read two a day) and other sources of information are more than we can often handle. One of my favorite authors, David Allen, recently wrote about this in the New York Times in an article entitled When Office Technology Overwhelms, Get Organized. Below are six statements he often hears from his consulting clients. Keep in mind that his personal clients are often Fortune 500 CEO's and even with their skills they still have these feelings.

• “I’m overwhelmed, and with all the changes going on here, it’s getting worse. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do my job.”

• “I have new responsibilities that demand creative and strategic thought, but I’m not getting to them.”
• “I have too many meetings to attend, and I can’t get any ‘real’ work done.”
• “I have too many e-mails, and, given day-to-day urgencies, the backlog keeps growing.”
• “I feel like I’m not giving the right amount of attention to what’s most important.”

And here’s a common kicker, for those willing to admit it:
“I just can’t keep going like this.”

Here is David's view of what is happening in our technology based world.

"Cranking out widgets is one thing; deciding which widgets need cranking first, and in what quantity, is quite another — especially if you are now charged with continually improving the system, or determining whether you should even be cranking out those widgets at all.
It can be a recipe for frustration, as employees feel overwhelmed by their companies’ very progress. And the problems and logistics of workers’ personal lives add yet another layer of complexity. "
One our our reasons for being frustrated is because we are doing more and more and often we still are not sure if we are doing the right thing. David has many tools to help with this in his book Getting Things Done - it's a must read to bring sanity to your life.

Our world is never going to be as slow paced as it is today - life will only get faster and faster. The good news is that if we can get on the leading edge through improving our own lives - we can be one of the winners. Don't let the onslaught of information bring you down. Get into David's thinking and improve your own life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Seven Reasons Salespeople Talk Too Much

Selling Power magazine is one of the leading trade magazines for the selling profession and the Editor, Gerhard Gschwandtner, runs a tight ship. Gerhard also writes and posts to the Selling Power blog on a consistent basis. Recently Gerhard had a blog post about reasons that salespeople talk too much. It has always been interesting to me how much salespeople talk. I go on calls with sales people and I get pitched on a regular basis and more times than not, salespeople talk too much and listen too little. Below are the seven reasons Gerhard covered:

  • Anxiety
  • Lack of preparation
  • Stress
  • Lack of a road map
  • Lack of a time budget
  • Lack of humility
  • Ineffective thinking

One great goal for sales it to listen more and more. It takes a conscious focused effort on a daily basis but the results are incredible. When a customer is listened to it shows a deeper level of respect that results in a better relationship. Take a tip - listen more and talk less.