Showing posts from May, 2011

Too Big to Care?

Can a company get too big to care?

Lately, I've started to get some requests for Customer Service skills training. I take that as a positive sign. After many months of time management and stress management (definitely "signs o' the times," eh?), it's nice to be returning to the thing we ought to be most focused on, that is, The Customer.

In a recent seminar, when I asked the participants to reflect on their own experiences of good and not-so-good service, there were many (too many) stories shared about companies that had gotten too big to care:

- the cable company that kept transferring a customer from point to point without any resolution of the caller's question
- the financial services company that promised to kill a duplicate bill, but continued to send the double bill month after month
- the phone company that promised to stop billing a customer for a service he did not want (and had never asked for in the first place), but the service continued to appear on …

Learning Is A Lifelong Process

A great annual exodus is happening right now as many young people graduate from colleges and universities. My son, for example, just graduated from Rutgers this past Sunday.

For some, graduating feels like an ending, but it isn't really. The feeling of separation anxiety is natural. It means you're moving through one of life's passages.

Just because you've graduated from college doesn't mean the growing process has ended. It's just shifting to a new level. Now you enter the next phase of your life. Previously, as a student, the school provided the structure. Now, as your working life begins, the structure is up to you. Recognize this: You are still "in school," only now it's the workplace where your next lessons will happen. Be ready. Here are a few tips:

What courses will you take? - Since there is no course catalog anymore, you have to set your own learning goals and design your own learning projects. Be proactive about it. Ask yourself: What …

The 10 Things Leaders Do to Create the Conditions for Success

If it's true (as I argued in a prior blog post) that People deliver Results, then what must the leader do to ensure that the people can succeed?

Here are ten ideas leaders can implement now to create the conditions for success:

L = Look ahead. Listen to the input of your team. Learn continuously. Let go of fear.

E = Engage others in figuring out how to get there. Communicate your Expectations. Monitor the Energy level of your team.

A = Aspire to be the best. Ask for ideas. Adapt your leadership style to each situation.

D = Direct and guide the team toward the goals. Develop yourself and others. Delegate as much as possible.

E = Empower others to move ahead and deal with obstacles. Enable their success through team building, training, coaching, and mentoring.

R = Focus yourself and the team on Results. Recognize the contributions of others. Reward "on the spot" as much as possible.

S = Support risk taking. Supply them with whatever they need to get the job done. Make it Safe for…

The Three Things (+1) You Need to Know

In recent years, there has been a trend (in which I have fully participated) toward titling blog posts, articles and books with a number. For example, here are three posts that I've seen in the past week:

- 10 Things I Learned from Failure
- The Seven Signs of the Consulting Apocalypse
- Three Leadership Steps to Defuse Tense Situations
- The 2 Secrets to Creating Meaningful Change

Did this trend start with Stephen Covey's mega-seller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People back in 1989? Who knows.

Why is it so popular? An online content editor once recommended it to me, saying that readers will be more likely to take the time to view your content if there is a number in the title. The thinking is, I guess, that if they know how many key points you will be covering, they will be able to quickly cut to the meat of the post, and save time.

Some people, I've discovered, question the practice. Recently, one person responded to a 10-point list of leadership practices with the rep…

Lead, Follow, Or Get Out of the Way

The late great Peter Drucker once observed that "Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done."

How can we put Drucker's wisdom into practice in today's organizations? Let's start with another piece of wisdom, this time from Thomas Paine who wrote, in a publication called The American Crisis in 1776:

~ Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Whoa! Talk about plain speaking. Imagine the intellectual lightning that would spark from Drucker and Paine together on a TV talk show about management and leadership? (Now there's an idea for you cable TV programmers!)

So let's apply Paine's options to Drucker's call for improvement in management:

You can lead: Do managers need to be leaders? In my opinion, yes they do. Anyone on the management team, whatever their level in an organization, is responsible for "turning vision into reality" (as Warren Bennis once put it so well when he defined leadershi…

The 2 Things Leaders Must Do

What is the secret to becoming an effective leader? If I were to cut to the chase, I'd say: The 2 Things Leaders Must Focus On are Results & People. Why? Because there is a vital connection between the two: your people deliver the results you desire.

This IS the secret to effective leadership.

Let's dissect this secret that Your People Deliver Results.

People: Leadership, by definition, requires Followers. You can't be a leader alone. Your people are the means, the strategic channels, by which your organization reaches its goals. Your job is to do everything in your power to help your people succeed. At a high level, do what John Maxwell advises when he says: "A leader knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." And sometimes the leader gets out of the way.

Deliver: The verb "deliver" in this secret means "to do or carry out as promised; to give birth to." Results don't happen unless someone makes them happen. Interestingly, the ori…

Courage to Change

Change is hard.

Sounds simplistic to say, but it's a profound human truth. We do not like change.

Change is upsetting, stressful. Change brings out our fear of the unknown.

Wouldn't life be great if we did not have to change? The truth is, though, we do change. We will change. It's inevitable. Life demands it.

So, turning our lens on organizational change, how do we lead and manage change? So much has been written and said, you may wonder if there is anything new that can be added. Perhaps the best path is to find and present the wisest sayings from those who have already blazed the trail. Giants such as:

John Kotter: Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there. They cause change (by creating a sense of urgency). They motivate and inspire others to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there.

Margaret Wheatley: Successful organizations have learned that the higher the risk (and the greater the un…