Mindfulness practice brings all sorts of insights into the workings of the mind. Perhaps the hardest to grasp is the idea that thoughts are not reality. We’re so accustomed to providing a narrative track to our lives and believing in our story that to see things otherwise is a real challenge. You know as well as I do that all kinds of ridiculous thoughts go through our heads. And sometimes you know not to trust them. When you’re tired, drunk, angry or sick you don’t take your thoughts as seriously. Mindfulness says you should go a step further. Because you have lots of crazy or silly thoughts all the time. And they can make you anxious or bring you down.
The executives who navigated their risky development assignments successfully learned a lot; those who encountered challenges likely learned more. And in both cases, their managers or mentors took a risk. “Sure bets” and “stretch” simply don’t go hand-in-hand. So, if it’s a “stretch” that’s required to build genuine leadership capacity, how can an organization develop its bench without putting the entire enterprise at risk? Effective developers of leaders demonstrate some best practices that strike the balance. They: Calculate the risks. The most effective developers have the capacity to judge a prospective leader’s capacity. They weigh past results, efforts and challenges and can assess the readiness of the person for a new task. At the same time, they understand the organizational landscape sufficiently to evaluate the real costs associated with outcomes that might fall short of success. Give others enough rope. Effective developers don’t give others so much rope that they’ll hang themselves. Instead they give just enough so that developing leaders can go out, explore, experiment, struggle if appropriate, and still be reigned in safely if necessary. Consider their own political capital. Since even calculated risks are still risky, effective developers know how much cover they can provide — and how much flack they can absorb — if the learning experience turns out to yield less than desirable business results. Make peace with mistakes. The most profound developers of leaders have developed a visceral understanding that errors, miscalculations and failure fuel learning. They have cultivated a big picture perspective and appreciate that sometimes short-term sacrifices are necessary to build the long-term leadership capacity required for the enterprise’s sustenance and success.
A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.
The maxim ‘better apart’ is counterintuitive and today all of the world’s greatest innovations are the result of close collaborations between all of the stakeholders – executives, staff, customers, investors, suppliers and partners who have a vested interest in the output, implementation and promotion of the final innovation. The CIO office sits at the intersection of the business and technology and with the right strategy and support it can add significant value to the innovation process so the next time you think about carving out two separate budgets, curbing one and investing in the other stop and think how you could innovate smarter and embrace the latent innovation potential that you already have sitting in your CIO office.
Working in a spirit of community doesn’t mean being in agreement with or even “liking” one another. It does require that we approach one other with a commitment to being genuine and with a mutual belief that the bigger mission is more important than our personal agendas. As a leader you are either modeling these behaviors or encouraging competition and self-preservation; there is no middle ground.
Always remember that leadership is a privilege. When you’re in a leadership role, your influence may affect the trajectories of people’s entire careers (and, often, their lives!). When you do it right, you create a legacy of other leaders who can bring their goodness into the world. Here are some tips for helping build a leadership legacy: Know thy leadership self: Give some thought to the leader you aim to become, and the mark you hope to leave on others. List Your Leaders: List the leaders who have most affected you. What positive parts of their leadership do you carry with you in your thoughts and behaviors? Seek feedback: Invite people to share their perspective on your leadership. Send people a simple e-mail asking them what it’s like to work with you, how they would describe your leadership style, and what leadership behaviors are most noticeable. Show gratitude: Say “thank you” frequently and sincerely. Let people know that you don’t take the privilege of leading others for granted. Leadership is an honor, so be honorable.
The diagram below shows why the current model of marketing-sales alignment is inadequate. The bottom portion of the diagram shows the B2B buying process developed by SiriusDecisions. The top portion depicts the two fundamental types of interactions that potential buyers have with companies during the buying process.
When Product Development or Product Engineering is Your Power Core … The product is the company to the marketplace. Product development groups get the most resources and the most play, and they have the most power. Just look at the organization chart. Metrics are about new products, size of products, getting products out, speed of product development, and competitive progress of products in relation to competitors.
When Sales Is Your Power Core… You are a growth acquisition driven company. The quest for the sale pulls the weight in the company. In these organizations, people are motivated to make the numbers. Performance is frequently measured in short-term sales goals and tar- gets. Sales targets are the strongest and most tracked corporate metrics. “Speed” sales are rewarded, even if they don’t necessarily result in long-term customer profitability. Frequently the organization hasn’t worked together to ensure that the after-sale experience delivers on the promise of the sale.
When Information Technology Is Your Power Core… The explosion of SaaS Companies and continued growth of IT based businesses have made the priorities of these groups the Power Core of their business, driving agendas, priorities and investment. In addition, because the bulk of spending related to IT projects far exceeds other financial requirements, IT has been given power in determining the priorities of the organization—and not just in computer resources. It also has a loud voice in representing, selecting, and enabling IT-dependent projects across the organization. Often these spending requests come through annual planning without a prioritization lens to determine which are critical for customer asset growth and customer experience improvement, as they come in silo-by-silo.
According to American Express, 7 in 10 Americans said they were willing to spend more with organisations they believe provide excellent customer experience (Source: American Express, 2011). Working on matters that make customers more engaged and loyal to your business through better customer experience, will have positive impact on the revenue. There will be a time lag between the initiative and revenues starting to increase, since customers are quick to anger and slow to forgive. That is why customer experience should be in the heart of any business who is looking to thrive in a competitive market environment. And due to time lag on the impact of such efforts, it is better to start sooner rather than later.
It’s easy to leave a gaping hole in your product or marketing plan when you dismiss old ideas or technologies. It’s easy to think people using film, or ham radio operators, or backyard gardeners are just a small group of luddites. But you do so at your own risk.
Don Dea's insight:
Remember vinyl records? How about film cameras?
Today vinyl is the fastest growing sector of the music industry. Given up for dead only a few years ago, artists now release on vinyl in addition to digital downloads and CDs. The manufacturers who halted production on turntables are reopening factories and bringing the product line back.
Analog photography, also given up for dead, is making a comeback. One industry study showed that almost 1/3 of the people shooting film are under 35.
No creature on the planet destroys credibility faster than a pontificating blow-hard of a boss who is great at turning oxygen into over-heated carbon dioxide, but not so great at overcoming the gravitational pull of his posterior to the chair and putting his own words into action.
Don Dea's insight:
7 Tips to Help You Build Credibility as a Leader:
1. Model the Behaviors You Are Preaching: if it’s hard work and commitment to excellence, then you best cultivate an unimpeachable reputation for working hard and pursuing excellence. If it’s focus on the customer, then you need to be logging some significant quality time in front of your customers. Don’t demand it if you’re not living it.
2. There’s Only One Set of Rules: accountability for effort and outcomes must be applied evenly, without exception. It’s the exceptions you make (and that everyone sees) that kill your credibility.
3. The Big Issues Cannot Wait: there’s no getting away with, “that’s an important issue and we should talk about it at the right time.” It’s always the right time to tackle the tough ones.
4. Don’t Pollute the Environment with Dissonance: if you encourage people to make decisions, then let them make and learn from their decisions. The boss who laments that no one makes a decision and then metaphorically clubs anyone over the head who makes a decision without consulting her is polluting the environment with dissonance.
Learn to Look for Opportunity in Uncertainty. The operative word is “learn.” Our natural reaction to the notion of change in our business model is some combination of fear mixed with a drive to look harder for reasons to rationalize maintaining the status quo. The firms and teams I’m working with who are succeeding in rethinking their businesses are those who have embraced the idea that while change may disrupt the successful approaches of the past, it also opens the door to an almost endless set of new opportunities. They are focused on building the management tools, team talent and approaches needed to explore and test for ideas that stick.
The only way to achieve exponentially greater results is to get every member of your team functioning on more cylinders, as individuals and as a team.
Good managers spend at least 10-20% of their time developing their people.
Be sure you’re investing your time well by avoiding these common traps.
5 MISTAKES MANAGERS MAKE WHEN DEVELOPING THEIR PEOPLE
1. FORGET THEY’RE STILL LEARNING TOO
There’s a weird imaginary threshold I see too many managers cross. They creep into “I’ve got this, and now my job is to teach it to you” land. Almost every manager goes there at some point in their career, and many get stuck in it’s delusional abyss. The only way to be an effective leader is to scurry back to reality as fast as you can. Leadership is never handled. See also, 60 Reasons Leaders Stop Learning.
I’ve learned the hard way that our teams see our flaws and mistakes better than we do. Even if they love you, there are at least 17 reasons they don’t want to lead like you.
Be sure the learning and listening is a two-way street.
2. INVEST ONLY IN THE “HIGH POTENTIALS”
“I don’t have time to develop everyone, so I’ll really invest in the top 5%, maybe even 10%,” is the cry I’ve heard many times. I’m all for giving extra effort the box 9s, goodness knows I’m grateful for every ounce of extra effort folks poured into me as I climbed the ladder. BUT, imagine the possibilities when you tap into the majority of your team, building on everyone’s strengths, and helping them to see themselves as more than “also-rans”?
3. FOCUS ON INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT BUT DON’T DEVELOP THE TEAM
A team of super stars who don’t know how to work as a team, can’t win. The egos get in the way, and conflict sucks the life out of all productivity, and prohibits real creative breakthroughs that involve integrated thinking.
I once worked for an executive who painstaking recruited the very best players in every discipline, and then got us in a room and announced his plan. Our bonuses (a large percentage of our salary, usually stack ranked) would all be exactly the same, based on our performance in his experimental organization. He’d received permission from HR to try it. If we blew it out of the park, he’d get money added to the pool. If we sucked, he’d give it back. Either way, we’d all be paid the same percentage.
In the digital age, we need to think about moving our core business processes to algorithms. To my mind, algorithms trump organizations. For years, we’ve been taught that when we have a business problem, we can solve it by bringing people and teams and organizations together. We’ve been taught that the more people you have, the more power you have. But that kind of thinking is a by-product of how organizations have evolved. That’s “back-office” or “business administration” thinking and it doesn’t help our customers. We need to push from a back-office culture to an algorithms culture and act faster. Speed and agility matter more than ever right now. People and processes create latency; algorithms, whose purest form is code, create speed.
Pope Francis’ provocative declaration concerning people who are gay, “Who am I to judge?”, is a plea to transcend bias by seeing people as complete humans rather than just in terms of sexual orientation. The pope is refocusing the Church’s humanity and emphasizing connections his predecessors downplayed.
To the naked eye, it may seem they are simply able to get things done. Look closer, and you’ll see that they are demonstrating strong leadership and influence by dint of relationships they’ve developed. Look closer still, and you’ll see that it isn’t simply niceness or collegiality that has earned them this influence. Too many people seek to establish trusting business relationships centering on likeability. I’m not suggesting that likeability isn’t good, only that it isn’t sufficient. When I observe Hidden Leaders in action, they lead through relationships in the following ways:
Twitter Cards let you promote brand awareness, drive traffic and ultimately increase sales. You may not be aware of them, but they vastly improve the user experience beyond 140 characters.
Don Dea's insight:
Twitter Cards are one of the core features of Twitter’s platform. However, if you aren’t aware of them or confused by what they do, you’re not alone. Twitter Cards enable developers for brands, publishers and other businesses to add photos, videos and a richer media experience to tweets. Marketers see them as a tool to boost their business in varying ways while users just see the better experience they provide in their timeline.
Cards contain more of the media and information that you would expect see elsewhere online. They’re a teaser engineered to pique interest, promote brand awareness, drive traffic and ultimately increase sales.
"An attachment isn't a fact. It is a belief..." ~ Anthony De Mello Let go. This line of thinking is counter-intuitive. Our instinct is to hold on, to protect, to become attached, to expect. The mor...
Don Dea's insight:
“A dawn carrying disappointment is a dawn deceived – in its very nature dawn is free of expectation as it has yet to see the day it brings. Daybreak has no control over what it will draw out of the world each morning and it has no recollection of yesterday. In this beauty made anew each time it crosses a horizon, is a peace unknown outside of fresh awe at the wonder of beginnings. Dawn does not lend itself to dependence or an illusion of control. As it should be, the dawn only attaches itself to its purposeful design. None in the day can bring the dawn. Nothing in the night can impede its coming. The most hopeful among creation, as we should be, it never fails to let all things be as they will be.”
One of the most common and damaging of a leader’s blind-spots is the compulsion to regularly provide evidence that he/she is the smartest person in the room.
Many well-intentioned leaders are adversely impacted by this bad habit without realizing it. The impact of what is often not much more than one or more behavioral tics includes stifling creativity and innovation and derailing any hopes of developing a high performance environment.
Don Dea's insight:
3 Common Smartest Person in the Room Behaviors:
Do any of these feel familiar?
The Final Word Habit. Leaders who struggle with smartest person in the roomsyndrome often operate with a false belief that being in charge means always having the answer. This drives the individual to assert his/her opinion as the final word or last word and it teaches people to suppress their own ideas and wait for solutions from the person in charge. If you’re frustrated with your team’s lack of creativity or active discussion about ideas, you might be someone who has taught them to wait for the last word.
The Eyes…and Face and Voice Say it All! Some leaders telegraph their smartest person in the room persona through their verbal and non-verbal responses to the commentary or ideas of others. I’ve observed senior managers who portray what is perceived as disinterest or disdain for the commentary of team members by interrupting them in mid-sentence or maintaining a facial expression that seems to ask: “Why are you using up my valuable oxygen with this stupid idea?” Of course, the leader may not be intending to communicate disregard or disdain however, we impute this less than noble intent based on our interpretation of the visible and audible cues. If your team members are less than enthusiastic about sharing new ideas and approaches, perhaps you’ve inadvertently shot them down too many times.
1. He only lied when his lips were moving. The CEO announcing to all of a firm’s employees, “there will be no layoffs,” over a pizza lunch in the warehouse. Ten days later, there were layoffs.
2. Coordination is over-rated. An executive team who despised each other so much, they never met. What do you think happened to this business? You’re right
Don Dea's insight:
3. It turns out, people have to want to change. The manager who early on in his career believed he could change a brilliant but difficult person into a brilliant and not so difficult person. (Crap, I was that manager.)
4. Rats, I should have picked the other door! The executive of the market leading firm who defiantly announced to his team, “We will not play in the low end of this market. There are no margins there.We own the high end” It turns out that when the high-end disappears due to the disruptive competitor and you have no viable response, there are no margins when there are no sales.
5. Homer Simpson said it best: “Doh!” When the team cannot answer the question, “How many customers or prospective customers were consulted in the making of this strategy?”with anything greater than zero, you’ve got a problem.
Why do we fail with our initiatives (projects, strategy, leadership) in the workplace so regularly when the causes of failure are well documented and the practices to minimize the chances of failure so well identified?
Don Dea's insight:
The formula for leading effectively isn’t a secret kept locked in a vault with the combination known only to two people. In fact, the principles have been understood for a few millennia. And for us today in our firms, the behaviors of miserable managers and lousy leader are well understood and at last count, there were seemingly 4 quintillion resources offering input, training and help on how to lead effectively.
For strategy, too many of these programs fail not just because they were poor ideas (usually not the case), but rather because the process of execution broke down. People fail to coordinate the work necessary to properly and effectively bridge ideas to execution. While not to minimize the complexity of executing on strategy, the issues of communication, coordination, feedback, adaptation and so forth are fairly easy to grok.
If you are in marketing, you will also want to be listening to customer conversations. You’ll not only find what is relevant to them, but be able to take that information and use to to craft your marketing messages and in messaging, you’ll be able to combat sales objections, product questions, and really be of service with your content. That will make you relevant in your customer’s eyes and entice them to be fully engaged.
Don Dea's insight:
What Is a “fully engaged customer”? That’s a very good question! Some of the answer depends on who you ask. Marketing has one opinion, Sales generally another and then Customer Service might see a fully engaged customer from a whole different point of view.
In today’s world of dwindling product / service differentiation and an overload of choice, which I already spoke about in the last post entitled “Do your Shoppers face a purchasing dilemma? How to give the right customer choice every time”, your customers want to be made to feel cared-for, not cheated. Find new ways to surprise and delight them and they will remain loyal, even if you have to increase your prices. As L’Oreal continues to remind its consumers every time they buy one of their products, “They’re worth it”.
Here are a few ways to safeguard against copyright infringements:
1) Use photos you already own. Even if you’re not a professional photographer, you may be able to create engaging images with the quick click of your iPhone. Some of my favorite pictures on my personal blog are photos of my kids. I’m also a fan of images in the moment when I am writing about day to day life. This post included a quick shot of my messy desk. Personal images can bring your words to life for a reader. If you are a fledging photographer, sharing your photos will enhance your work. See Mark Miller’s new photo blog, which showcases breathtaking images Mark has taken during his travels.
2) Purchase photos. One of our clients sources every image from iStock, investing to ensure the most visually appealing photo for every post. While this creates an additional budget line item for his online influence building efforts, he saves time on fruitless searches and has complete confidence that he is adhering to copyright laws. Our team uses a monthly package from fotolia.com to source images for our clients and posts.
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Creating engaging newsletters with your curated content is really easy.