Get 15 concise and easy to understand tips to help you get and keep your business on track. Use the handy self-assessment questions to help you identify where you need to improve and put in place the change needed to be a more effective leader.
Read the following analogies and think about which of these is most reflective of your organization:
- My organization is like two locomotives pulling in opposite directions.
- We can’t get things done because we seem to be working at cross-purposes.
- My organization is like a locomotive trying to pull a thousand rail cars.
- It’s difficult to mobilize to get things done and when we do, we move at a snail’s pace.
- My organization is like a string of rail cars without a locomotive.
We don’t seem to have a strong direction of what we’re doing and just drift along the tracks.
- My organization is like a locomotive that has run off the tracks. We don’t have direction, but at least we’re moving fast and going somewhere.
- My organization is like a locomotive with no conductor. We’re moving down the tracks, but no one appears to be in control.
- My organization is like a locomotive running smoothly down the tracks.
- We know where we’re going, how we’re going to get there, and who is driving the train.
If you’re like most organizational leaders, you probably feel that your life as a leader falls in one of the first five analogies. When an organization moves too slowly, too recklessly, or not at all, leading a team to results quite frankly just becomes much harder than it needs to be. When an organization is like the sixth analogy, though, driving a team to results becomes much easier because you as a leader don’t have to deal with directional disruptions. Your focus is on moving down the tracks to reach your destination as quickly as possible, rather than direction changes, organizational sluggishness, or derailments.
This seminar focuses on five key attributes to getting your organization on track, keeping things moving forward, and thoughtfully changing direction when environmental needs dictate. I focus specifically on two key aspects of staying on track; direction setting and problem solving. In my experience, I have seen organizations get off track most often due to problems with direction or issues with resolving problems.
Get 16 concise and easy to understand tips to help you be a best-in-class mentor who grows great mentorees. Use the handy self-assessment questions to help you identify where you need to improve and put in place the change needed to be a more effective leader.
As a young consultant I really thought I had it all together. I was getting great ratings, great raises, and wonderful accolades from clients. Because I (in my own mind) thought I was such hot stuff, I was not active in seeking out advice from more experienced colleagues. After all, what could they teach me?
As I matured from an inexperienced hot-shot to an experienced manager, I developed a much stronger appreciation for the wisdom my more experienced colleagues could impart. This appreciation didn’t happen naturally; I had to get my butt chewed
off a bunch of times to realize that a wiser and more experienced colleague could help me get through the tough times and learn from my mistakes. I also needed a wiser colleague to hold a mirror up to my face to help me see my weaknesses. I needed (and still need) a mentor to help me be more effective as a leader.
Whether for personal or professional reasons, having a mentor to turn to for advice and counsel is a very effective means of transforming knowledge into wisdom. Before I go any further, let’s get a definition of wisdom in place: Knowledge + Experience = Wisdom
In a mentoring relationship, a mentoree, or person being mentored, typically brings a lot of knowledge to the table. The mentoree has learned the fundamentals of how to do his or her job and can probably do the basics well. What the mentor, or the person doing the mentoring, provides to the mentoree is experience. The mentor provides perspective on what to do when things aren’t optimal or when difficult situations crop up. When the experience from the mentor is transferred to the mentoree, it accelerates the wisdom building
process because the mentoree now doesn’t have to learn solely through his or her own mistakes. The mentoree is able to learn from a combination of his or her own mistakes and the mentor’s advice about what to do or not do.
For mentoring relationships to work well, I’ve found several items to be very important:
The mentor should not have a direct reporting relationship with the mentoree. The mentoree can feel free to speak about issues which may be plaguing him or her without fear of retribution from a boss.
The mentor needs to want to be a mentor. Mentoring is an incredibly important responsibility that is likely over and above any direct responsibilities the leader already has. If the leader doesn’t want to be a
mentor, he or she is going to view the time spent mentoring as a nuisance.
The mentoree needs to want to have a mentor. Forcing someone to have a mentor is like trying to force a toddler to eat peas: the toddler may do it but he or she isn’t going to like it. The mentoree needs to see the
value in the relationship and must have a desire to benefit from the relationship; otherwise the mentor will just go through the motions until his or her plate is clean.
Get 17 concise and easy to understand tips to help you design and conduct more effective team building offsites. Use the handy
self-assessment questions to help you identify where you need to improve and put in place the change needed to be a more effective leader.
“OK, let’s go around the room and everyone tell one interesting fact about yourself.”
“Bill, just fall backwards off this platform and let your team catch you!”
“So how do we become a better team?”
Any of you who have attended team offsites may recognize some variation of the above phrases. With the primary purpose of building teamwork, offsites became very popular in the 90’s and are a mainstay in many organizational environments. I’ve seen very mixed success in the offsites I have both attended as a team member and facilitated as a leader. Some of the offsites were great at inspiring the team and driving positive change in the organization, while others had as much impact as trying to bring down an alligator with a pea-shooter.
In looking at my successes and failures in managing offsites, I’ve come to realize that team offsites held for
the sole purpose of building teamwork in an organization just don’t work well. Sure, there may be some great feel-good things that happen at the offsite and a couple of friendships may develop. That is all fine and good. What really makes a team offsite hum, though, is when team building is coupled with organizational direction setting or problem solving. Not only are the team-building benefits realized, but the team is putting the team-building to work in real-time by addressing real, meaty business issues. After the offsite is done and the team goes back to the office, the team-building can be reinforced through the implementation of the ideas unearthed at the offsite. When this is done well, team-building shifts from being a separate and distinct
activity to something that is woven into the fabric of what the team does on a day to day basis.
In this Self-Study Seminar I will focus on five fundamental requirements leaders should follow which will result in effective team offsites. These requirements are based on years of conducting successful offsites as well as quite a few that were major duds. I learned some major lessons through both the successes and failures which helped me run more effective team offsites. I hope these lessons learned will be helpful to you as well.
Get 14 concise and easy to understand tips to help you unify your teams to drive better results. Use the handy self-assessment questions to help you identify where you need to improve and put in place the change needed to be a more effective leader.
I love baseball. Seeing an outfielder make an outstanding catch, watching a pitcher throw a no-hitter, or hearing the crack of the bat when a slugger hits one out of the park is a real thrill to me. Growing up, I always imagined playing professional baseball and
could have made it to the big leagues except I couldn’t hit as well, throw as hard, or field as good (i.e., I was a far cry from being talented enough!). As an adult, one thing that I have grown to appreciate about baseball is the teamwork involved in winning games. A pitcher can pitch a great game, but if the offense doesn’t produce any runs they can still lose the game. Or, you can have the best home-run hitter in the league on your team and you could still lose 100 games in a season. The team has to work together to deliver results, in the form of wins.
This couldn’t be more true when it comes to work teams. You could have an outstanding team member who nails every one of her deliverables, but if the team leader is weak or if other team members aren’t doing what is expected of them then the entire team is going to fail. While the one team member is a stand-out performer, she is unable to carry the weight of the entire team herself. She will be a star on a losing team.
As team leaders, we face a daunting challenge of how to unify our teams to where they are able to work together in delivering greater results than any one team member could do on his or her own. Whether it be due to lack of clarity in roles & responsibilities, team infighting, poor accountability, or non-recognition of results, a team that doesn’t perform well as a team won’t deliver what the organization needs and will get the team leader voted off the island.
This seminar is focused on helping team leaders understand five key factors which contribute to a unified team and helping them put changes in place to better align and unify their work teams and deliver outstanding results for their organization. Also keep in mind that these are not the only factors which unify teams. They are, in my experience, five key factors which contribute to team success and are also prone to be overlooked. So, without further ado, let’s get to business…
Get 31 concise and easy to understand tips to help you become a best-in-class project sponsor who consistently drives projects to success. Use the handy self-assessment questions to help you
identify where you need to improve and put in place the change needed to be a more effective leader.
Some years back I was appointed the lead program manager on an initiative to consolidate a number of disparate order management systems into a single system which supported all of
the company’s order management needs. There were about five program managers working with me who each dragged in their respective customers to participate in the project. The project was sponsored by the IT organization with no sponsorship from the business owner. The project lumbered along for about two
months with the customers continually questioning why they were working on a project that wasn’t on their manager’s radar. The business owner finally had enough and called IT management and the lead program manager (me!) into a
meeting. The meeting started off with the manager saying to IT, “Who told you to do this project?” Now, I’m no rocket scientist, but it was pretty clear at that point that this was not to be one of my shining project management moments. While the meeting was very uncomfortable, I learned an extremely important lesson: absolutely, without a doubt, secure sponsorship on a project at the beginning, or suffer the consequences.
For any project, it’s crucial to get an appropriate level of project sponsorship. I’ve never seen or managed a successful project that didn’t have an appropriate level sponsor leading the charge. Optimally, your project sponsor should have decision making authority over the in-scope project areas, while staying close enough to the work in order to understand the implications of any issues raised. If your sponsor is at too low of a level, they’re unlikely to be able to make decisions that will stick and will have to get authorization from their management before committing to decisions. If your sponsor is too high of a level, decisions will be made, but you’re probably not making the best use of management because others at lower levels could have handled the decisions.
Identifying an appropriate-level project sponsor is a great first step in ensuring a successful project. The project sponsor also needs to exhibit some key attributes to help the project navigate the turbulence and nail a three-point landing. Through my experience, I’ve zeroed in on ten key attributes a best-in-class project sponsor should possess to better ensure a project’s successful completion.
Get 27 concise and easy to understand tips to help you conquer the seven deadly sins of leadership. Use the handy self-assessment questions to help you identify where you need to improve and put in place the change needed to be a more effective leader.
Pride. Envy. Gluttony. Lust. Anger. Greed. Sloth. You either recognize these as the seven deadly sins or as themes for prime-time television. Nonetheless, you were probably taught as a child that these are bad and you shouldn’t do them. For purposes of this seminar, do as you were taught and think bad when you commit these similar sins in the workplace.
As leaders, we are continually being introduced to new techniques and theories. Hammer & Champy’s Business Process Re-engineering Model, McKinsey’s 7-S Framework, and Kenichi Ohmae’s 3C’s Strategic Triangle are all examples of strategic models designed to help leaders think about their business in different and innovative ways. What sits on top of all of the models and frameworks, though, are a series of foundational attributes that every leader should possess if he or she is going to have demonstrated, sustained success as a leader.
In my career as a leader, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience a broad array of leadership situations
where sometimes I enjoyed fantastic success, and at other times experienced dismal failure. In looking back at my failures, many of them had nothing to do with a theory, framework, or technology that was utilized. The failures had to do with cracks in my own foundational attributes which left me vulnerable as a leader. I’ve boiled these down to seven key sins which this seminar will focus on to help you become a more effective leader.
Get 19 concise and easy to understand tips to help you lead those who don’t have to follow you. Use the handy self-assessment questions to help you identify where you need to improve and put in place the change needed to be a more effective leader.
More is being asked of the 21st century organizational leader than was asked even in the late 90s. Financial belt-tightening is a continued reality, leaders must do more with less, but the problems and issues continue to get more complex. Moreover,
leaders are required to work in increasingly complex environments of matrix organizations and where key functions are performed by third-party providers. Challenges for leaders will only get tougher and more complex.
One area in which leaders will continually find challenges is the leading and inspiring of employees who don’t organizationally report to the leader. Whether the situation exists in matrix organizations, multi-company initiatives, or cross-departmental projects, the leader will need to operate out of influence in driving others to produce a desired result as opposed to relying on the phrase, “because I’m the boss.”
Before we get too deep, let’s put the concept of “leading those who don’t have to follow” in context. Throughout this action guide, I will use an example of a team comprised of members from different departments thrown together under a team leader to solve an organizational problem. The example possesses the following characteristics:
- There is a mandate established by an organizational manager to accomplish something which requires team members from multiple departments within the organization to get it done.
- A team leader is appointed and held accountable for driving a team to meet the mandate.
- The team leader may be part of the organization or an organizational outsider.
- Either some or all of the team members do not organizationally report to the team leader.
- Team members are not required to follow the team leader; if the team leader doesn’t prove himself to the team, the members can choose to follow or not follow.
- Team members and the team leader may or may not know much about each other’s departments.
- Once the mandate is met, the team members will go back to their home departments and the team will disperse.
This Seminar focuses on five tried-and-true techniques a team leader can implement to help a disparate team align behind a mandate and follow a leader, not because the team has to follow the leader, but because the team wants to follow the leader. I have succeeded many times using these techniques, and have failed a number of times because I didn’t use the techniques to drive my team. My sincere hope is that you are able to use the experience in this Self-Study Seminar to lead your cross-organizational teams and drive success in your organization.
Get 18 concise and easy to understand tips to help you make the leap from being self-important to being someone who matters. Use the handy self-assessment questions to help you identify where you need to improve and put in place the change needed to be a more effective leader.
I spent the first 11 years of my career at Accenture. I started in the firm when I was 20 years old and enjoyed a number of successes (and just as many failures) throughout my career. From the day I was hired at Accenture I saw myself as “partner track” material and just knew that someday I would be a partner in the firm. Even with getting married and having two children, I dreamed of the day I would be a partner and was willing to take time away from my wife and children to make that happen. Then some things happened….
In 1993 I was a senior manager based in Chicago in the midst of being transferred to Seattle. We had a very active three-year-old and a newborn at home. My wife very much enjoyed Chicago and wasn’t too excited about being transferred to Seattle. Just prior to moving to Seattle, my Father unexpectedly died. Two weeks after we moved to Seattle, I got staffed on an engagement….in Los Angeles. The job was a real pressure
cooker with sixteen-hour days and very tight timelines. So here I am still grieving over the loss of my father, working on a nightmare of a job in LA five days a week with my wife and two kids in a new house in a city that my wife didn’t want to be in. On one Thursday evening after working until 1a.m. it all came crashing down. I was lying in my hotel room wishing that I could just end it all to escape the pressure. I could actually hear voices saying “kill yourself, do it, do it, do it.” Talk about your wake-up call. I left voicemails that evening for the partners I worked for and told them I needed to get away. I left the engagement the next day, went back to Seattle, took three weeks off work and sought counseling to help me through my breakdown. While I
got through the breakdown fine and returned to work after three weeks, I started to view life a bit differently. What became clear to me is there is a difference between being important and living a life that truly matters.
So by now some of you may be saying, “What’s the difference? How could someone be important but not matter?” For me, it comes down to a simple premise: Looking out for #1 will lead to a life of self-importance.
Looking out for others will lead to a life that matters.
Now, I’m not advocating that you go sell all of your possessions and take up a life as a hermit. I personally enjoy some of the finer things in life and live a life that in many societies would be considered luxurious.
What is different, though, is what I let drive and control me. I have made a personal decision that money, power or fame isn’t going to drive my actions. What does drive my actions is the legacy I leave and the impact I will have on others long after I have departed this life. I’d much rather have one of my kids say, “He is a great Dad,” my wife say, “What a wonderful husband,” or a friend say “He helped me to help myself,” than all of the money and power on earth. That’s what leading a life that matters is all about.
Let’s cut to the chase on this:
Get 17 concise and easy to understand tips to help you achieve your quest to find true work/life balance. Use the handy self-assessment questions to help you identify where you need to improve and put in place the change needed to be a more effective leader.
So let’s talk about over-used terms for a minute.
If you’ve been in the business world since the mid 1990s you’ve likely heard your management espouse the desire for employees to achieve greater work/life balance. Many U.S. companies have adopted programs to help employees strike a better life balance by providing health club benefits, entertainment discount programs, and additional time off for events such as the birth of a child. Despite all this, Americans are of the most overworked and flat-out busy people on earth, recently surpassing the Japanese and long surpassing the Europeans. With all this discussion of work/life balance, how can we in the U.S. also be of the most overworked people in the world? The answer is pretty simple; many of us talk work/life balance, but don’t live work/life balance primarily because we don’t know how to do it.
First let’s get clear on the primary purpose of achieving work/life balance. It’s about minimizing stress in your life. Much of the stress in a typical person’s life is derived from work. You can say you’ve got work/life
balance, but in addition to working full-time, you might participate in many activities with the kids, volunteer at the local homeless shelter, and exercise five days a week. If you’re feeling stressed and tired you haven’t achieved the primary intent of work/life balance, which is to reduce stress. All you have done is balanced the degree of stress you have in your work life with the stress you have in your non-work life. But at least the stress is balanced :-).
Before we get too deep in this seminar, I want to get a couple of points on the table:
Work/life balance doesn’t mean you never have to burn the midnight oil to get a project done. There will be times you will need to work hard to meet a deadline. What work/life balance does mean, though, is that burning the midnight oil will only be an exception, not a regular event.
Achieving work/life balance doesn’t give you a get-out-of-jail-free card to not work hard or only work a few hours a week. We were meant to work and to provide for ourselves. It just means that work is done in moderation and not to an extreme.
Realizing the quest for work/life balance means doing some serious soul searching. The first focus topic in this action guide is designed to get you thinking about what is truly important to you. If you acknowledge you are a workaholic and don’t want to change, then this action guide will probably be meaningless to you. If you do want to change, though, you’ll get a few helpful nuggets from what you’re about to read.
This seminar is very personal to me as I am a recovering workaholic. I have learned many lessons the hard way in realizing my own personal quest for work/life balance and hope that you might find a few pearls which help you better achieve the low-stress balance you desire.
Get 30 tips to enhance your dinner time experience and use the dinner table as a place to connect with your family. Some tips may resonate with you, some may not be applicable at all. Pick and choose the most impactful tips and improve your dinner time experience with your family.
Both my wife and I were raised in very different families. My wife was raised in a soft-spoken, Christian household while I was raised in a very loud, Italian household. Though we came from very different backgrounds, we both grew up in households where dinnertime was not only a time of eating, but a time to connect
as a family. While there were some differences in our respective homes (think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” replace the word “Greek” with “Italian” and the movie is now about my wife and me) we shared a love for sitting down as a family.
As we had children, we adjusted our routine to ensure we all sat down at the same time, prayed together, and enjoyed servings of conversation along with our meat and potatoes. When our kids became teenagers, we really began to see the results of years of dinner time as a family. Dinner is more than filling the gullet; it is a place where we connect, talk about issues, and just have fun together. On many days this is the only time we are all together because of our busy lives. Take away that time and we lose valuable family connections. If these connections are not made, life-long negative consequences could result.
In this mini-seminar I outline 30 tips to enhance your dinner time experience and use the dinner table as a place to connect with your family. Some tips may resonate with you, some may not be applicable at all.
The goal isn’t to apply everything in this mini-seminar at your next meal. My hope is that you’ll glean a few new ideas which will help you enhance your dinner time experience and improve your relationship as a family.