Thursday, November 29, 2012

Winning Leadership Tips for Your Business

Have you ever started a book by reading the last page? If you’re curious by nature, you know that sometimes, there just isn’t enough time to read an entire book.

In Build A Better B2B Business, Winning Leadership for Your Business-to-Business Company, leadership expert/seasoned executive/author David Shedd provides two final exam questions on page one. But don’t be scared away…he provides the answers on page two.

Does this sound odd? Perhaps, but the book’s theme is so critical, especially during today’s challenging economic climate and oversaturated marketplace that everyone can benefit by reading about the fundamentals to drive business success.

According to Shedd, a key component to drive business success is leading by example. To help create better leaders, take the quick quiz from the book. Don’t be upset if you don’t have all “Yes” answers, use the “No” responses to improve your leadership skills.

[1] Can you recall three examples where your ethics visibly showed to your team?

[2] Do you return everyone’s phone calls immediately and respond to all emails promptly? Do you start and finish meetings promptly?

[3] Right now, does your frontline management have fewer than five goals?

[4] As a leader, do you take full accountability for the failures but share the praise for the successes?

[5] Have you ensured that all of your senior direct reports are held accountable for their performance?

[6] Are you easy to reach and interact with?

[7] In the last week, have you found at least 10 people doing something right and recognized and thanked them for their work?

[8] In the last month, have you coached or trained at least one small group in your business?

[9] In the last two weeks, have you been involved in resolving a customer service issue?

[10] In the last two weeks, have you been involved in thanking a customer for their business?

Shedd also shares other useful tips to drive business success:

[1] Write out and develop three goals for your business.

[2] Determine the most significant “Mokitas” in your business – these are the dirty little secrets that aren’t really very secret – for example, the industry you serve is in decline and will never rebound OR the sales manager was promoted from the finance department and doesn’t interact well with customers.

[3] Aim to accomplish one key initiative each morning, and at the end of each day, ask yourself, “Did I accomplish this task?” If not, decide how you will accomplish the task tomorrow.

[4] Recognize employees on a regular basis.

[5] Value your customers.

[6] Deliver on the brand promise – for example, FedEx delivers by 10am each day – and align all employees to be effective brand advocates.

[7] Solve a customer’s problem. “No customer has ever bought anything because it was “strategically logical or synergistic.” A customer buys from you because he has a problem, and you have a solution for that problem.”

As you can see, the final exam questions and answers were only a teaser…the best part of the book was in between the front and back covers.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Top 10 TV Commercials of 2012

As 2012 nears its end, some companies are gearing up for their 15 second spots for the Super Bowl. But while most brands are not lucky enough to be featured in a Super Bowl spot, there is still a great deal of creativity in the television commercial arena.

Whether you prefer ads that make you think, laugh, or cry, there are many that stand out. But did the ads just stand out, or did they result in sales? How many of the following brands did you purchase?

Here are my favorite television ads from 2012:

Suburu: Best Friend

Sears: Dogtastrophe

Toyota: The Tundra Endeavour

Budweiser: Return of the King

Apple: Introducing iPad Mini - Piano Music

Apple: Introducing iPhone 5 - Cheese

Heineken/James Bond Skyfall Movie Teaser

And some 2012 Holiday spots:

Mercedes-Benz: Frost

eBay: Pony

Zales: Holiday Commercial 2012

What about you? What were your faves this year?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

What’s Really Behind LinkedIn’s Endorsements?

By now, you’ve probably seen the latest addition to LinkedIn. The company calls it “Endorsements.”

According to LinkedIn, “As of September 30, 2012, LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 187 million members in over 200 countries and territories.” We can all agree about LinkedIn’s purpose: users provide an overview of their professional background including education and work experience. Users can look for jobs, join groups, ask and answer questions, and above all, network. LinkedIn owns a niche market in the social media space, and it’s the leader in its space.

Previously, users aspired to add recommendations to their profiles. Recommendations could be created by co-workers, supervisors, vendors, etc. Typically, people would spend quality time to refresh themselves on an individual’s quality of work, teamwork, and successes – before writing recommendations. This was what made recommendations a valuable element of a LinkedIn profile. Whether a person was looking for a new job or building a personal brand, recommendations were important.

Fast forward to endorsements. First, users need to define their specialty areas or skills. That’s not a problem, and these strengths should be part of a person’s profile anyway. But, the problem arises when someone visits a profile – a box pops up and asks for endorsements.

People can make a decision in a fleeting second if they wish to provide an endorsement. In the same amount of time that it takes to sneeze, you can click and provide several endorsements. As a result, endorsements seem more like a popularity contest similar to a “thumbs up” or “like” from Facebook.

Was LinkedIn trying to become more like Facebook and less like a professional networking site? If so, it is interfering with its brand, and in the process, affecting the quality of its differentiation in the social media landscape.

So, are you using LinkedIn’s endorsements instead of recommendations?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Question for Leaders: Do You Connect?

As a leader, it’s important to make connections with those you lead. But how often do you actually spend the time to make these connections? In the words of Carl W. Buechner: “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Therefore, it’s time to start.

Lyn Boyer, a leadership coach, author, and educator based in Florida, focuses on the emotional side of leadership, which she calls, “Affective Leadership.” Her unique background as a high school principal, coordinator of leadership development, and college professor, has provided a lens into the necessary emotional connections made by effective leaders. Who doesn’t want to be an EFFECTIVE leader?

Her book, Connect, Affective Leadership for Effective Results, “is about leaders who want to make positive connections and achieve outstanding results in all types of groups and organizations. In addition, it’s about possibilities for enhanced relationships, increased productivity, and greater personal and professional fulfillment.”

Lyn introduces a concept of Affective Leadership, which she describes as the connection of mind, body, emotion, and language that persuades others to join leaders. While business leaders focus on the bottom line, Lyn poses the argument that since leaders instill trust, it is the emotional connections that form the basis of all effective leaders.

Consider these statistics. Leaders may not always realize the emotional impact they have on others, whether positive or negative. But according to research from the Saratoga Institute, 80% of employees who voluntarily leave their jobs do so as a result of management issues or toxic work environments. According to the study, 50% of employee satisfaction was tied to the employee’s relationship with his or her supervisor.

One way to address a team or a challenging situation is to ask powerful questions:

[1] Why is this a concern for you? What do you fear?

[2] What are your greatest resources? What resources do you need?

[3] What have you gained or learned from this experience?

[4] What are your roadblocks to success?

[5] How can you turn the roadblocks into gateways?

[6] I am sensing frustration. What would make you relax?

[7] How would you describe your voice or body now? What does that tell you about how you feel about this situation?

[8] Am I trustworthy? In making promises? In keeping confidences?

So, how do you connect with others?

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