Use Words Well to Lead Well

Under performing over failingOur words matter.

As leaders, we spend much of our time communicating with others through our actions, our body language, and especially our words.

Unfortunately, all too often we do not use our words well leading to poor communication and poor performance.

Some thoughts on using words well:

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Leading When Overwhelmed

Homer SimpsonIt happens to all of us.

  • A direct report either gets promoted, quits or gets fired, and we have to manage his or her direct reports in addition to all of our other duties.
  • We are assigned to a special project or task team and are expected to continue to do our regular job.
  • We have to get into the details to turn around an under-performing operation while keeping all other operations moving forward.

For many leaders, leading when overwhelmed leads to deteriorating performance.  We try to work in the same way that we did before we took on all these extra duties and responsibilities.  Nevertheless, it does not work.

  • Important tasks do not get completed
  • We are not holding our direct reports as accountable as we should because we do not have time for our usual interaction

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The Whys of Business

Why QuestionInternet entrepreneur, Simon Sinek, has a popular TED talk on asking why.  His primary advice in building a successful company is that:

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Unfortunately, while I admire Mr. Sinek, I cannot fully agree with this principle.  Like most Americans, I generally buy from companies based on the quality, price and service of what they provide, not based upon why they do what they do.

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Diversity, Inclusion and Respect

dogToday’s workplaces are more diverse than ever with more work being done in teams.  To ensure that everyone is working together well, companies need to be inclusive and embrace diversity and individual differences.

The core element behind a diverse and inclusive workplace is respect – each employee giving and receiving respect from other employees, management, customers, and suppliers.

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Optimize the Overall Business

Picture1As business leaders, we strive to have each of our areas improve its efficiency and effectiveness. Accounting, Sales, Marketing, Engineering, Operations, Project Management, Customer Service – each of these parts of the business needs to be as effective as possible.  Likewise, each of us needs to be as efficient as possible in getting our work done.

Isn’t that right?

NO!

As business leaders, our goal is to optimize the whole.  Only by doing what is best and most effective for the overall business will we have as successful a business as possible. Continue reading

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Think Twice and Do Once

WheelEvery Do-It-Yourselfer knows the carpenter’s advice:

Measure twice cut once. 

In successful businesses, a similar recommendation holds true:

Think twice and do once.

To so many of us, immediate action appears to be essential:

  • We are just doing it!
  • We are making it happen!
  • No ‘analysis paralysis’ here!

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Public Speaking

Public Speaking 1The ability to speak well in public – whether giving a sales pitch to a customer, presenting at a Board Meeting, or speaking to a large group of employees – is an essential leadership skill.

  • Public speaking is fundamental for effective executive communication as a way to lead a group or team into taking some desired action.
  • For better or worse, most leaders are evaluated by their ability to speak in public.

To be a strong public speaker requires practice and keeping in mind some simple Do’s and Don’ts.

 

Do’s

  • Focus on the End Result: As a leader, the purpose of public speaking is to inform, teach or remind your audience to do something that will help them do their jobs better and drive your company to success. Eloquent speeches, no matter how insightful or entertaining, are useless unless they lead to changed thoughts and changed actions.  As such, the focal point of any speech needs to be on the end result: what do I want my audience to do?  And a call to action needs to be the last point in any speech or presentation.

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10 Ideas for Improved Organization and Effectiveness

  1. Drowning in PaperPre-planning

      • “For every 10 minutes of pre-planning you do, we get four to five hours of productivity improvements.”
      • On a weekly basis, schedule the most important tasks and activities first and build our week around them
      • “The best day begins the night before.”
        • Pre-plan day to focus on important and critical path items
        • Create the next day “To Do” list of up to 7 items
        • Set up time to “meet with ourselves” to do the most important during our “prime time.”

     

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Communicate Upward

Communicate 1As managers, we need to encourage each of our employees to keep us informed about what is really going on in our companies, both the good and the bad.  We need to be kept in the loop about the larger issues, possible challenges, and problems that our employees are facing.

This upward communication does not happen enough for several reasons.

First, most of our employees just assume that we know about everything happening in our companies. Continue reading

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Write It Down

write it down -2I have previously written about the fundamentals of communication: The Three Keys of Communication. The focus of that blog was about how we can better communicate with our teams and others by:

  • Keeping the message simple
  • Repeating repeating repeating the message
  • Ensuring that our audience clarifies and confirms our message.

But, these three keys are often not sufficient.  When giving specific directions or instructions, we need to ensure that the people with whom we are communicating write our message or request down on a piece of paper or make a note on a phone or computer. Continue reading

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Continuous Improvement and Lean

Continuous improvement for cavemenDriving continuous improvement throughout our organizations is fundamental to short and long-term business success.

Continuous improvement requires daily improvement in everything that we (and our teams) do…even when we are too busy!

  • Are we better today than we were yesterday?
  • Will we be better tomorrow than we are today?

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Remind…Don’t Teach

reminder cartoonA fundamental task of a leader is to train and develop his or her team.

This often involves coaching and teaching the team on the strategic, operational and leadership skills that are required for them to reach the next level.

Unfortunately, many leaders spend a lot of time teaching their team only to have it wasted as the team turns off.

“This is nothing new.  I already knew that.”

“Why is he lecturing us again? Does he think that we are stupid and don’t already know this?

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8 Ways To Be As Smart As We Can Be

My Brain Is FullTo do our best in business, we need to be as smart as we can be.

Alas, I do not have any tremendous insight or magic elixir to make myself or anyone else be smarter.  Sorry.

What I do have are several suggestions on how we can take fullest advantage of the intellectual capacities that we do have.

  • Be Healthy and in Good Physical Shape: Being sick, out of shape or dealing with chronic pain makes it more difficult to be smart. We do not have a clear head and are often focused on what is ailing us.

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The Five Whys of Follow-Up

temppicture1When General Dwight D. Eisenhower was first elected President in 1952, then President Harry S. Truman remarked:

He’ll sit here, and he’ll say, Do this! Do that! And nothing will happen.  Poor Ike [nickname for Eisenhower].  It won’t be a bit like the Army.  He’ll find it very frustrating.

As leaders, we have all encountered the same frustration.  We clearly ask someone to do something.  And it does not get done.

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10 Ways to Really (and Truly) Be Organized

blog1With all the meetings, E-Mails, objectives and communications in a typical company, staying organized is a never-ending task.

Yet, there are a few fundamentals to follow to ensure that you stay organized and focused on the most important tasks each and every day.

  1. Delete, delete, delete: delete everything but the essential. If this makes you nervous, then place what you should delete in one simple “Holding” folder that you delete every month.  Deleting is crucial so that you do not have to wade through irrelevancies to find what you are looking for.  As has been said:

The key to finding a needle in a haystack is to have a smaller haystack. Continue reading

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Never Split the Difference – Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

never splitFollowing up on my blog from August 2017, Negotiation – An Overview, I summarize the excellent book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, from former FBI negotiator, Chris Voss.

I highly recommend that you read this book to gain deeper insights into negotiation.

My summary below gives some of the insights found in this book.

  • We engage in selective listening, hearing only what we want to hear, our minds acting on a cognitive bias for consistency rather than truth.
  • Slow. It. Down. Going too fast is one of the mistakes all negotiators are prone to make.
  • Put a smile on your face.

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2 Second Lean: How to Make Your People and Your Business Better Every Day

I summarize some of the key concepts from the excellent book: 2 Second Lean: How to Grow People and Build a Fun Lean Culture. Written by Paul Akers, 2 Second Lean is a quick and easy ready that will help all of us simplify and lean out our companies, whether they are manufacturing, technology, distribution or services company.

I recommend that you read it.

 

What is Lean?

Two foundational principles of Lean Thinking

  • Eliminate waste
  • Continuous improvement

“Waste is like gravity; it pulls at you 24/7 and if don’t have a method to overcome it, you will lose and waste will win.” Jeff Kaas

“Lean is hard work that makes everything else easy.” Paul Akers

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Negotiation – An Overview

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The 5 Fundamentals of an Innovative Company

picture1The world and the customer are changing rapidly.   To keep up with these changes and to truly differentiate themselves in the marketplace, companies need to innovate.

Yet, too many companies still rely on small updates, upgrades, or makeovers of their product lines as their “innovation.”  That is just not good enough.

“We live in a world where the returns on incrementalism are going down and the returns on real innovation are going up.”  Gary Hamel (Strategy Consultant)

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Getting It Done: Achieving Twice as Much in Half the Time

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