A Millennial Mind - Week 3

In our ongoing guest blogging series, our intern asks the readership how to describe leadership in an interview.  Enjoy! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Today’s rant derives from a personal pet peeve of mine.  It has been a recurring theme during interviews and classes and I seek a better understanding from the perspective of our readers. The word “leadership” has to be one of the most overused buzzwords in business.  It ranks up at the top along with “synergy” and “leverage” as a powerful and descriptive word that is cheapened by gross overuse.  While this word is of course undoubtedly important, I’m afraid it isn’t used in the proper context in many situations. The situation I speak of comes from the classic interview question, “Tell me how you have shown good leadership?” This question drives me crazy because, I always feel the interviewer wants you to describe how you’re going to be the next Churchill. ...
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A Millennial Mind - Week 2

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A Millennial Mind - Guest Post

/* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:Cambria; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1073743103 0 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-font-family:Cambria; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Cambria; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Cambria; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}-->Please welcome Chris, who is interning with me for the next 10 weeks.  I have asked him to contribute to these pages weekly during his internship and share his thoughts on leadership through the eyes of a Millennial.  Enjoy!*******************************************************************************************************Hi, I’m Chris.  I am a 27-year-old military veteran stuck in the body of a college student.  My goal is to try and understand leadership and how it applies to the future of our society.  As a...
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Well Said!

I recently had the privilege of facilitating a workshop on using persuasion in the sales process to a group of fellow business coaches.  In many respects the idea of persuasion fits with this month’s book that highlights a variety of different and effective ways to persuade a decision maker, whether it be in the sales process or not.  “Well Said!” by Darlene Price includes many ideas on how to present, speak and otherwise carry yourself more effectively to convey your ideas. My favorite part of the book is the discussion around the concept of establishing your credibility.  The author speaks to the three Factors of Perception as keys to establishing true credibility with an audience or listener.  The Factors of Perception are: Visual Factor – How does the audience or listener see you in the manner in which you dress, the room, and your body language? Vocal/Verbal Factor – How does...
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People Hear Words...

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It's My Company Too!

/* Font Definitions */@font-face {font-family:Arial; panose-1:2 11 6 4 2 2 2 2 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536859905 -1073711037 9 0 511 0;}@font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1107305727 0 0 415 0;}@font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-520092929 1073786111 9 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin-top:0in; margin-right:0in; margin-bottom:10.0pt; margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}.MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:11.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:11.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:11.0pt; font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}.MsoPapDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; margin-bottom:10.0pt; line-height:115%;}@page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;}div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}-->It was my distinct pleasure recently to meet one of the authors of this month’s book.  I was immediately taken by his business card in that his title is listed...
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It's My Company Too!

It was my distinct pleasure recently to meet one of the authors of this month’s book.  I was immediately taken by his business card in that his title is listed as Chief Culture Officer.  In fact, Tom Walter is one of the senior leaders of Tasty Catering and one of the co-authors of “It’s My Company Too!” along with Kenneth Thompson, Ramon Benedetto and Molly Meyer.The title comes from a story from Tasty Catering where a supervisor was berating an employee for a mistake they were making with multiple orders.  Another supervisor stepped in and reminded the first supervisor of “#2” which meant the second value of the organization was respect for people.  The CEO witnessed this and later thanked the second supervisor in private for what he did.  When offered a cash reward for exemplifying the values of the organization, the supervisor handed the money back and said “It’s my...
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A Mediocre Leader Tells...

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75% of College Students Admittedly Cheat in School...

...and 45% of College Professors Turn a Blind Eye To It!Several years ago, I was preparing a presentation on business ethics for a local high school business class. Given the audience, I decided to see what the current mindset was among high school students around cheating – arguably a key indicator of ethical attitudes. The results, including those in the title, were shocking to me. Being a Visiting Professor myself at both undergraduate and graduate level, the toleration statistic was particularly galling.  Even more frustrating is the school district the local high school above belongs to recently reported 54% of their high school students reported cheating in some capacity and 58% reported that cheating could be justified in some cases!What does this have to do with Leadership as a Way of Life? Everything! Not a week goes by I do not hear self-proclaimed statements about the positive ethical attitudes and behaviors...
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"If You Don't Like Change...

…You’re Going to Like Irrelevance Even Less.” One of the most frequent questions I ask business leaders, non-profit leaders and entrepreneurs is “What makes your business unique and/or relevant in your market?”  Regardless of the initial answer, the follow-up question is always the same, “How do you know?”  These sets of questions are crucial for every leader to understand and embrace lest they fall victim to the condition General Eric Shinseki, former Chief of Staff of the Army spoke of in the opening quote. So how do leaders stay relevant in a world of constant and seemingly spontaneous change?  In my experience, there are three core areas every leader must do well in order to stay relevant enough to be successful and sustainable leaders.  The three areas are categorically: Attitude, Behavior and Skills & Knowledge. The prevailing Attitude for relevance is one of continuously challenging the status quo.  Those who know...
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"If You Don't Like Change...

…You’re Going to Like Irrelevance Even Less.” One of the most frequent questions I ask business leaders, non-profit leaders and entrepreneurs is “What makes your business unique and/or relevant in your market?”  Regardless of the initial answer, the follow-up question is always the same, “How do you know?”  These sets of questions are crucial for every leader to understand and embrace lest they fall victim to the condition General Eric Shinseki, former Chief of Staff of the Army spoke of in the opening quote. So how do leaders stay relevant in a world of constant and seemingly spontaneous change?  In my experience, there are three core areas every leader must do well in order to stay relevant enough to be successful and sustainable leaders.  The three areas are categorically: Attitude, Behavior and Skills & Knowledge. The prevailing Attitude for relevance is one of continuously challenging the status quo.  Those who know...
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Adaptability - The Art of Winning in an Age of Uncertainty

In the March 2013 leadership blog, we talk about relevance and the importance of staying relevant in a constantly changing business environment.  In keeping with that theme, this month’s book review offers some additional ideas on how to do just that.  Adaptability by Max McKeown offers a blueprint through a set of 17 Rules for successfully adapting in an age of uncertainty.  Of the 17 Rules, my favorite three are sequentially Rules, 5, 6 and 7 listed below. Rule 5 – Stability is a Dangerous Illusion – when stability is the end game, human nature is to seek solutions that achieve a level of stability, which may be, in and of itself, unachievable. Rule 6 – Stupid Survives until Smart Succeeds – be open to new paradigms and paths to success, but not just for the sake of newness and not at the expense of progress. Rule 7 – Learning Fast...
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"The best preparation for tomorrow...

...is to do today’s work superbly well" These words of wisdom from Sir William Osler are timely on two levels. First, many of you are personally and/or professionally preparing for an uncertain tomorrow – planning your goals for 2013 and beyond.  Secondly, doing today’s work superbly well speaks to, among other things, making every interaction with your customers a Moment of Truth. During this current economy, moments of truth are significant to every business owner, corporate and non-profit leader that recognizes the importance of loyal customers and donors. So what is a loyal customer? Over the years in many customer-facing positions in business services and non-profit organizations, I see the following traits as indicative of loyal customers compared to the satisfied customers we traditionally strive for: • A loyal customer will proactively tell others about your service to others. A satisfied customer will tell others if you ask – maybe.• A...
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"The best preparation for tomorrow...

...is to do today’s work superbly well" These words of wisdom from Sir William Osler are timely on two levels. First, many of you are personally and/or professionally preparing for an uncertain tomorrow – planning your goals for 2013 and beyond.  Secondly, doing today’s work superbly well speaks to, among other things, making every interaction with your customers a Moment of Truth. During this current economy, moments of truth are significant to every business owner, corporate and non-profit leader that recognizes the importance of loyal customers and donors. So what is a loyal customer? Over the years in many customer-facing positions in business services and non-profit organizations, I see the following traits as indicative of loyal customers compared to the satisfied customers we traditionally strive for: • A loyal customer will proactively tell others about your service to others. A satisfied customer will tell others if you ask – maybe.• A...
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The Accountable Leader

In this month’s blog, we talk about the level of accountability a leader has to “Put the right people in the right seats on the bus” as the oft-quoted line from Jim Collin’s book “Good to Great” professes.  I came across a book several years ago that lays out a game plan to do just that and then some.  “The Accountable Leader: Developing Effective Leadership Through Managerial Accountability” by Brian Dive spells out 10 Key Management Accountabilities every leader must have.  The first 2 of the 10 speak directly to this aspect of having the right people based on: Deciding who comes onto the team... Deciding who will work where, in which jobs and when.Being an acknowledged supporter of business alignment, the book also identifies 7 Elements of the Decision Making Accountability (DMA) Solution Set that helps leaders align their activities to optimize accountability.  The idea is these elements help determine...
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Lessons in Business Alignment...

…from the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. While I know most sports fans have moved on to Hockey, Basketball and the X-Games, it has become a tradition in this forum to highlight leadership lessons from the reigning Super Bowl Champions.  There were plenty of headlines surrounding the Ravens Super Bowl win (The Harbaughs, Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco etc.). The one story I found most interesting, however, was the promotion of Jim Caldwell to Offensive Coordinator replacing Cam Cameron.  This story got far less press, but was significant not only the story of the Ravens success, but for leaders in general.  In the aftermath of the change, the Ravens produced some of the most memorable offensive plays of the entire season, ultimately leading to their Super Bowl win. The leadership lesson is the execution of the oft-quoted line from Jim Collins’ book Good to Great that says, “Put the right people on...
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Does anybody really know what time it is?

Does anybody really care? Many of you might recall these lyrics from the band Chicago from their hit song by the same name. As we work our way into the first few months of 2013 we and those in our organizations might be asking "Where did the time go?" or saying "2012 went by so fast!". As leaders, time management is a crucial element of our success, especially at the rate of change in today's business environment. Many of us rely on a myriad of technology to keep us organized. Smart phones that sync to our email systems and integrate with our web or PC-based calendar systems are the norm these days. In spite of this technology as many as 75% of people do not have an effective system to manage their time. Technology, like any tool is only as effective as the people who use them. Success lies in how...
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The best way to find out if you can trust someone...

…is to trust them.In the past several months, the subject of trust was the most underlying theme in conversations with clients, graduate students and workshop participants.  As I reflect on these conversations, it became apparent there are a good number of potential leaders waiting for others to make the first “trust” move.  It is this contradiction that prompted the title quote above from Ernest Hemingway as the lead to this discussion of trust.So how do we trust someone?  While there are many ideas around this topic, my experience tells me there are two key elements to successfully trusting others; Integrity and Attitude.Integrity occurs when our beliefs, actions and words all tell the same story.  When we actually do what we say we are going to do, we engender trust in others.  I have coached students and clients alike to pay little attention to the words of others but pay very close...
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Smart Trust

Trust is a sustainable success multiplier in today’s dynamic business world often described in terms that belie distrust and suspicion.  The problem can be people may not know, or have forgotten, how to trust others, especially in a competitive business environment.  In their recent book, “Smart Trust”, Stephen M. R. Covey and Greg Link set out to outline five trust actions that are common to high trust people and organizations.Of the five smart trust actions outlined in the book, my favorite is the discussion around action #4, which is to “Do What You Say You’re Going To Do”.   While this seems almost too obvious an action, it is set out as a key action for a reason; too many people don’t “Walk the Talk”.  The ability to model the behavior that builds a culture of trust becomes a performance multiplier both for individuals and for organizations.  Of note, is the importance...
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Leadership is a Habit.

Do You Believe It and are you Practicing It? Everyone has leadership potential but not everyone uses that potential to its fullest measure. More often than not, it is because leadership, and I mean great leadership takes us on a journey requiring repetitive practice and an unwavering attitude towards changing our performance. But is it possible to create new leadership habits? Research tells us that once old habits are burned into the part of the brain responsible for short term memory (the hippocampus) they are there to stay. We also know that over 75% of these permanent habits are negatively influenced as we grew up (don't color outside the lines and don't talk to strangers come to mind). New habits come from getting out of our comfort zone and reaching into our stretch zone - where true change occurs. If we focus on incremental and continuous change, what the Japanese call...
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