Monday, December 23, 2013

To Tell Em Or Not

Customers react to bad service in many different ways.  The two main ways are to either talk to a supervisor or just leave without telling anyone.  Which would you rather have happen at your organization?

If an upset customer leaves without telling anyone, you're probably not going to see that person again . . . and they're going to a few of their friends who are then going to tell a few of theirs.  You'll never know what the issue was and you'll never know that it needs to be fixed.

If an upset customer stops to talk with you, sure it's taking time away from your own agenda and you have to have personal contact, but realize that they're taking a personal interest and time to let you know that you have a problem.  The only way to fix the issue is to know about it, right.

If you don't have readily available means to let customer contact you, you're missing out - big time - plus you're ticking them off even more.  If people want to complain, they're going to search and find a way.  But, on the other hand, what about the people who want to say nice things or share ideas that could make other customers' visits better?  They may take a quick look on the Internet for a contact, but if they don't find it quickly enough, you're not going to hear from them.

This is all a part of your organizations Brand.

A means of personal contact, phone numbers, and emails - ensure that they're readily available at the "point of sale", your website, and brochures.  Good customer service sells.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hacking Leadership - Book Review

“The best way to approach personal and professional development is to
always stay in the learning zone.”  This is one of my favorite quotes from MikeMyatt’s new book, Hacking Leadership: the 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and The Secrets to Closing Them Quickly.

As the title eludes, Mike talks us through the 11 gaps in leadership that you need to close – hack – in order for you to succeed and to bring your organization to the forefront of its field.

Continuous learning, or specifically a lack of, has been a leadership pet peeve of mine for years.  Mikes book actually exposes many more.  For instance, the Purpose Gap – the need for passion and following in the footsteps of past great leaders.  The Culture Gap – courage to create a culture of leadership, checking the arrogance, and not playing the diversity card.  The Talent Gap –developing trust and loyalty and effectively reducing turnover.

All 11 gaps in leadership challenge you to stop and take a serious look at yourself.  It’s practical, insightful, and pretty simple if you take it seriously, as you should.  You’re going to want to have a highlighter and a notepad handy as you read because you’ll find numerous concepts that you’ll want to develop yourself, and share with other leaders.

If you’re in any leadership position – or aspiring to be in one – Mike Myatt’s book is a great place to start your advancement.

Mike Myatt is a leadership advisor to Fortune 500 CEOs and their Boards of Directors. Widely regarded as America’s Top CEO Coach, recognized by Thinkers50 as one of the preeminent leadership thinkers globally, he is the author of Leadership Matters…The CEO Survival Manual, a Forbes leadership columnist, and is the Chief Executive Officer at N2growth. His new book, Hacking Leadership (Wiley) is in bookstores everywhere.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Company Doesn't Owe You

A little bit of soapbox today.  Be thankful for your job.

Things that have happened this year and people that I hear and have heard talking, has again gotten my mind wondering where people get some of their thoughts from.

For instance, is there ANY company that OWES you a job?  I can't think of one.  But on the other hand YOU owe your company your best work . . . whether you like the job or not.

Unless you own the company, you're expendable.  When it comes to bad economies or budget cuts, for whatever reason, you may be dispensable. Lets face it, these are just the facts of life.

In his book, It's Called Work for a Reason, Larry Winget explains that, "Many people have become so dependent on their company, on society, and on others that they think they are owed a living.  They think the company is there to serve them instead of the truth, which is that they are there to serve the company".

Whether you're a manager, supervisor, or the guy that started in the mailroom yesterday, don't get caught up in these "entitlement" thoughts.  So what can you do?  Do your best, stand out, and take personal responsibility.  These are the things that are going to make you a success, whether it's at your current job or your next.

You're not owed a job . . . so make your leaders WANT to keep you.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Military Leadership

In honor of those who have served in our United States Military and who I have served
with, I'm going to take this post opportunity to share some military leadership quotes:

The day Soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.
General Colin Powell

Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower

The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes. It is very easy to say yes.
Prime Minister Tony Blair

Leadership and learning are indespensible to each other.
President John F. Kennedy

Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.
General Norman Schwarzkopf

Men make history, and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.
President Harry S. Truman

Friday, November 8, 2013

Promises, Promises

Trust, honesty, integrity . . . a promise is a promise.

For those "leaders" who don't have those three things, promises will never mean a thing to employee's.  You've probably heard of "the boy who cried wolf"?  The more lies he told, the more no one believed him, until it was too late.  Same thing with leaders.  If you're not honest and carry through with your promises to your employee's, you're just blowing smoke.  It's an easy way to lose respect . . . but it's hard to get it back.

I try not to get into politics, but this timely and is just a great example (and no I'm not going to debate it).  I saw a graph today on how many people have lost their current insurance due to the Affordable Care Act - millions.  This was after the country was told, by the President, that if people were happy with their insurance they could keep it.  As I began writing this blog post I got a CNN tweet headlined, "Obama apologizes for some people losing health coverage despite his promise".  What do you think that apology means to those millions of people?  Nothing. Nothing but lost trust.

It doesn't matter who you are or where you land on the totem pole - bottom or top - a promise is a promise.  And people - employees - WILL remember when you break those promises.  It's kind of like the silent customer.  If you give bad service, they may not say anything to you.  But they will tell others who you won't see and not return themselves.

A promise IS a promise.  Make it so.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Can You Hear Me Now?

This week celebrates the launch of Mark Miller's new book, The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow.  It's an honor to have Mark as a guest blogger today.

Can You Hear Me Now?
     Are you a good listener? My fear is that most leaders, including myself, think we are.
However, the truth may be far different.  I believe without constant effort a leader's natural tendency is to not listen - or at least not listen well.

     Why would our listening skills drift without focused attention? I think there are at least five reasons:
Leaders are busy
We're not taught how to listen
Many leaders are easily distracted
There's so much to listen to, it's hard to focus
Great listening is not modeled for us

     So, how do we respond? Here are five ideas that may help you and me be better listeners . . .
Try to find a way to add value to the person you're listening to. Often, we listen with an ear to what we want or need. That will always be part of the conversation; but to add value, we have to discern a need or an opportunity. This type of needs analysis is usually not possible without a listening ear.
Try to focus on the person - not the crowd. If you are in a meeting and someone is speaking, don't focus on everyone in the room, just the individual. Don't try to read the reaction of the others. Just listen to one person. Make eye contact and focus on them alone.
Repeat what you think the person is trying to communicate. This is not a new idea - but it is still powerful. When you repeat what you've heard, the person can clarify as needed, just in case you've missed something. Also, if you're able to replay what's been said, the person will most likely feel affirmed - they'll know you were listening. It's a win-win!
Don't try to formulate your response to the other person while they are talking. After someone finishes speaking, repeat what you heard if it's appropriate, then pause to consider your response. If it takes a moment, that's fine. This may even signal to the other person that you were actually listening to them.
Eliminate as many distractions as possible. We'll always have distractions, but do all you can to eliminate as many as possible. Turn off your phone, meet off site, close your door, meet in a conference room - do what you can to eliminate noise, literally and figuratively.
     The rewards of good listening are many - people feel valued, mistakes can be avoided, execution can improve, followship can be strengthened and a culture of honor, dignity and respect can be nurtured.
     If you haven't focused on your listening skills for a while, give it a try. You might be surprised what you'll hear.

Mark Miller, well known business leader, best-selling author, and communicator, is excited about sharing The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow, with those who are ready to take the next step. you can find it on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere.

For my readers!
I'd like to share Mark Miller's outstanding new book with my readers. If you haven't "won" a copy already from me, be one of the first three people to email me (, with the subject line, The Heart of Leadership, along with your mailing address (I don't spam), and I'll send you a free copy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Heart of Leadership

Mark Miller has done it again.  His new book, out this week, The Heart of Leadership:
Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow, is one you won't want to put down.  VERY seldom do I read a book from cover to cover in one sitting.  But this one, I did.

Similar to his last book, The Secret of Teams, it's written as a fable.  This fable follows a young man, passed up for promotion, on a journey to find the meaning of "leadership character".  While noting throughout his journey that a lack of skills isn't what holds most leaders back, it's a lack of leadership character, Mark shows us that "leadership" is really within reach of more people than we think.

While most leadership books we read are about just getting ahead, he speaks more of servent leadership and using one's heart to forge the way.  Your skills account for only about 10% of who you are as a leader . . . the other 90% comes from your character - your heart.  Most leaders barely tap into developing their leadership character.

Any up and coming leader (or seasoned) will absolutely benefit from Mark's book.  SO, I'm going to start you off by sending the first three people who shoot me an email ( with "The Heart of Leadership" in the subject, your very own copy of the book.  Read it, share it, read it again.  (don't forget to send your address - I don't spam)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Should "Leader" Be A Title?

There are so many words in business, or most arenas for that matter, that are used
interchangeably . . . but shouldn't be.  Take "manager" and "leader" for instance.

In a perfect world, every manager would be a leader.  However, that's not the case, even though the two words ARE constantly used interchangeably.  Not every manager is a leader . . . just as not every leader is a manager (director, VP, etc).

Manager is most definately a title - Account Manger, Personnel Manager, TD Manager - because it only refers to the specific role, not the person him/herself.  A leader is more of a personal attitude or a presence.  I could be a leader as the CEO, or I could be a leader as the dude that just started with the company last month.

We need to stop using these two terms in the same manner - because they describe two totally different things.  So - just something to ponder - should the term leader be a title?  Something people have to "qualify" for?  Something like a certification?  Hmmmm.

But can you certify an attitude?  I don't really think so.  So do us all a favor . . . start using the terms correctly.  Maybe the managers will get the hint.  Thanks.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Take Charge of Your Talent

A win-win book on talent development – taking charge of your own talent development while, at
the same time, still supporting others.

Too often, as leaders, we’re focused on the development of others more than we are ourselves.  Well, it’s time to lasso in some of that energy to focus on us.  In their new book, Take Charge of Your Talent, Don Maruska and Jay Perry show us just how to do that.

All of us, whether the CEO or the kid that just started out of high school, has untapped skills and creative talent.  We all just need some help in pulling it out.  Take Charge of Your Talent provides a game plan to find the, ever present, opportunities that we may not see.

The steps and ideas included in this book are so easily profound that you can immediately begin to harvest the talent you have dormant.  For instance, by taking a look at yourself with the Take Charge Checklist, a tool that will propel you immediately into the process of improvement.

It doesn’t matter where you sit on the ladder, or even if you're on the ladder yet . . . you have untapped talent.  I would recommend this book for everyone, no matter what business you’re in . . . even if you’re just coming up.  You’ll learn that you can do things that you never had thought of.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Customer's Always Right??

How many times have you heard that old saying, "The customer's always right"?  Sounds good to the customer . . . but do you really feel that way?

Think about it.  It's your organization.  You have procedures.  You're regulated by someone.  How can the customer always be right?  Why are you going to publicize something that you're not going to uphold?  That just leads to problems.

Approached the right way, you can make the customer feel good, and even right, by taking ownership and dealing with him/her on a positive level.  This could be long discussion but in a nutshell,
  • take ownership of the issue,
  • thank the customer for the complaint/report,
  • understand their feelings,
  • explain your procedures/regulations,
  • ask how you can resolve the issue, together,
  • do whatever you can (fix it, call a supervisor, etc),
  • thank them for bringing the issue to your attention,
  • follow-up.
Good customer service is not hard.  People just make it hard.  Remember, Treat Everyone As Me still goes a long way.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Help Them Grow - Revisited

From September 05, 2012 - This is the first year anniversary for Help Them Grow or Watch Them Grow, by Julie Winkle Giulioni and Beverly Kaye. STILL, a must read for all leaders.

It only happens every few years. I’m talking about leadership books that come out that I like so much that I read it with a highlighter. I use them in staff development and lend them out to others who want to improve themselves and/or their staff.

A few years back it was Creating Magic by Lee Cockerell. Then cameFrom Bud to Boss by Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris. Now – I've had the great privilege of reading a pre-launch copy of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want by Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni.

Help Them Grow is the type of book that makes you think, “Hmm, why haven’t I been doing that?” It’s a straightforward roadmap on how to help your staff develop without you having to take control of the reins. Let your employees grab hold of those reins and become responsible for their own growth. Wow . . . what a concept, right? Can you see your time being freed up?

Kaye and Giulioni say that “your role is more about prompting, guiding, reflecting, exploring ideas, activating enthusiasm, and driving action”. This book shows you ways to incorporate these career conversations in your everyday work life.

Notice that last sentence that says “everyday”. Leaders don’t have time to hold extended annual appraisals that package up everything from the entire previous year – and shouldn’t – heck, they don’t remember about what you’re talking about half the time anyway! You’re already having everyday conversations with your employees (hopefully), so just change the tone a bit. You don’t need a bunch of checklists and forms. Conversations and asking questions are the keys to development.

This book gives you actionable steps to “focusing on what the employee needs to experience, know, learn, and be able to do”. Too often, leaders think they have to have all the answers (and they avoid the topic if they don’t), when what they actually need most are the questions, permitting the employee to be a first hand participant in their own successful development.

There’s so much more to this embracing book than I have time for here, so my suggestion to you is to go to Amazon to order yourself a copy or two – others are going to want their own.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

And The Winner Is

How many times have you heard a "leader" say something like, "I told you I'd make it to the top"?  Then, how often do you hear them thank the "little people"?

NO ONE gets to the top by themselves.  No one even gets to the next level, by themselves.  One of the first things that leaders should do when they move up is, in some way, thank the people that helped them there - specialists, admin assistants, coordinators, etc.

The best example of this is done very publically a few times a year . . . Academy Awards, Oscars, CMA's . . . the list goes on.  These shows aren't held just to recognize the overall winners.  It's also a public opportunity for them to thank the many people that made it possible for them to be standing there holding that award.  These "behind the scenes" people may otherwise, have no recognition.  Or in some cases, it's the people that got their career started.  They love it and you can see it on their expressions, if they're attending.

So next time you're risen up to the next level, don't forget a few "thank you's" for the people who helped you there.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Innovative Service Starts Here

When I'm given a small motivational type of book to read, I'm usually just expecting a quick read of motivational quotes with nothing really new.  Such is not the case with Chip Bell's new book The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service.  Published by SimpleTruths, this has got to be one of the best books I've read of this type.

Chip's book is full of easy to implement ideas to delight customers.  It's written, not as basic ideas for you to figure out, but as inspiration with actual practical use that can be easily and quickly tailored to your type of organization.  Working off the premise that "Tough economic times call for a new approach: value-unique service", he provides us with a multitude of examples of companies that have made it to the top with their unique customer service thinking.

Never forget that customers have options, so you need to add the extra to ordinary.  This book is one that you'll want to share with your employees because there are so many sparks of imagination in it that your employees will be coming up with many of their own innovations.  With that comes more ownership, which drives better service.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Someone To Look Up To?

Someone to look up to.  That's part of a leaders' job.

As a leader, you must walk the talk 24/7.  To take a phrase from Disney, you are "on stage".  Especially, those in positions like company Presidents and CEOs.  Any time employees, customers, or the general public can see you or hear you - you are on stage.  Because of current events, you may already know where I'm going with this.

AOL boss Tim Armstrong may very well have done permanent damage to his reputation by firing Creative Director Abel Lenz . . . on a conference call with about 1000 employees listening on.  Stress is a given when you're at the top.  Even if you're anywhere near the top.  However - you're always on stage.  Emotions must be kept in check.  Save it for the office.

So what may have been lost, or at least reduced here?  Employee morale.  Employee productivity.  Respect for the CEO.  Overall culture of the organization.  Not that it's necessarily the case here, but leaders just don't always think about the human element as much as they should.

So next time you feel like blowing up . . . stop, for a split second and think, "What damage am I going to do and how should I handle it differently?"

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Just a Little Conversation

It just amazes me sometimes about the lack of communication in organizations.  I've been hearing and reading more and more lately about the receding lines of this most basic leadership function.

What does it take to communicate to your folks?  An eight page newsletter?  Town hall meetings?  Video's from the CEO?  NO!

All leaders should read, "Help Them Grow, Or Watch Them Go", by Julie Winkle Giulioni and Beverly Kaye.  All it takes is short, casual conversations.  No meetings.  10 minutes here, 10 minutes there.

Face it.  You're already having conversations throughout the day.  So this isn't taking any time away.  It's just redirecting it to something more powerful.  You don't need a resource guide, to-do lists, or checklists.  Just simple open conversation.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What The Heck Is Going On?

What ever happened to, "innocent until proven guilty"?  Why has it morphed into just the opposite?

When Paula Deen was recently reported to have used the N-word - she was immediately chastised by losing sponsors before all the facts and issues came out.  When Trayvon Martin was shot, people immediately took to the streets in protest - without knowing ANY of the facts.

These two cases are currently being scrutinized in the media and legal system, meaning, we don't yet know the full extent of guilt to any of the parties involved.

Don't we find this in our everyday business life also?  How many have had leaders that jump to the conclusion and react instead of act?  It's the "easy" way out.  Sweep it under the rug and hope it goes away.  Problem is, that often makes it an even bigger issue to deal with and it ends up taking on a life of it's own, sucking up time and resources on it's way.

Leaders.  Stop.  Look at all the facts.  Act instead of react, and put yourself on the right track to making the right decision.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mentoring is a Partnership

Explain “mentoring” to me . . . uh-huh, that’s what I thought.  Most leaders have a vague understanding of what mentoring is, and few know just how it’s done.
In today's world of employee's moving from organization to organization, mentoring has become a top priority in keeping and developing their talent. If you want to help your employees grow - while holding on to them longer, you have to mentor. Enter the revised and expanded edition of, Managers as Mentors: Building Partnerships for Learning, by Chip Bell and Marshall Goldsmith - an easy to understand handbook for creating great relationships and talent.
All the information is here to create a self-directed learner, from planning, to rapport, discovery, and ensuring the transfer of learning.  Mixed in with the 27 chapters are fitting case studies to help pull everything together.  One of the things that I liked most of all was, The Mentor’s Toolkit, at the end.  A short series of assessments, FAQs, and stories to help you promote and support continuous improvement.
As Bell and Goldsmith say in the book, “Mentors practice their skills with a combination of never-ending compassion, crystal-clear communication, and a sincere joy in the role of being a helper along a journey toward mastering”.  And how do you get there?  Read and use this book as a guideline and you’ll be well on your way.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I enjoy reading leadership books that have been “updated and revised”.  Sometimes they’re only fluff just to get renewed attention and sometimes they actually have some new and essential information.  Peter Block’s newly re-released book, Stewardship: Choosing Service Over Self-Interest, does the latter.
Some of you may have read the first edition of Stewardship which came out 20 years ago.  The revised release of the book is most definitely something you’re going to want to read also.  Block backs up everything he says with examples, case studies, suggestions, and creativity.  You’ll see that your “business as usual” can’t be your “business as usual” anymore.
Right off the bat, Block’s new definition of stewardship struck a cord.  He says, in part, “It is the willingness to be accountable for the well-being of the larger organization by operating in service, rather than in control, of those around us.  Stated simply, it is accountability without control or compliance”.  We need to lessen the self-interest and increase the service experience.  There needs to be a balance of power.
This book gives you the understanding and the tools to create a work plan to get greater business results in the most effective way.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Leaders Open DoorS

I love getting new books in the mail and opening them up to see what new thoughts the author's have come up with. I started reading Leaders Open Doors wondering what new insight would be ahead . . . I was immediately amazed. Author Bill Treasurer says, "If your door is always open, how on earth would you effectively get any work done ...?" This is something I've tried to figure out for years, seeing many doors open and little being accomplished.

Treasurer provides us a whole new definition to "open door policy" - one that takes action to open doors for others - one that creates opportunities for others, and yourself. He mixes humor, personal stories, and a profound insight into a book that's very easy to read, understand, and put into practice. In fact, I read it without stopping, something I VERY rarely do.

Leaders are role models and set the tone of the organization. Opening doors for people shows that you care for them and want them to succeed as much as yourself. This book will help you reform your culture by helping you to become a positive and powerful influencer. Share your new found abilities - and this book - with other leaders and you'll soon have employees that thrive and grow . . . and stay.

Bill Treasurer, Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting and former U.S. High Diver, wants leaders to be a part of opening doors of opportunities for others to thrive, achieve, and lead. The proceeds of his new book, Leaders Open Doors, are being donated to charities that serve children with special needs. Available on Amazon.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Reverse Networking

One of the things I'm pretty good at is people watching.  I do it constantly - not in a creepy way - but because it can very interesting, comical, and teach me about the differences in people and how to better read, get along, and work with them.

My biggest "pet peeve" in people watching, comes from the people that aren't consistent in their greetings.  It's most prevalent in the work setting.  These people are very approachable and attentive when it comes to their bosses or their bosses bosses.  But they pay virtually no attention to the people "below" them or the people they don't know.  This is what I call reverse networking.

When we network, we're trying to build our contacts, often not knowing how we'll relate with a person in the future.  So think about it.  How do you know if the next person you pass is going to end up being your next boss or not?  And you didn't even take a moment - a second - to acknowledge them.  Hmmm . . . too bad for you.  Reverse networking.

It doesn't take much energy to say, "good morning".  It doesn't take much energy to smile.  In fact, it takes less energy to smile then it does to frown.  True fact.  And not to mention, it's just plain common courtesy.

Problem is nowadays, courtesy is just not that common anymore.  But you know what?  Smiles are contagious.  If more people start with just a simple smile, before we know it, it's going to become common again.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Baby Service Steps

Simple question . . . How many successful organizations do you know of that
don't have some kind of customer service program for their employee's?  I'd be willing to guess, not many.

Take a look at such company's as, Disney, Zappo's, FedEx, and Wegmans (grocery chain).  These organizations are ranked at or near the top in customer service every year.  They all have customer service programs of some form.

We often hear the same things, "We already give good service", "We don't get many complaints".  Well why wouldn't you want to give "extraordinary" service or get even less complaints?

If nothing else, a CS program serves as a reminder to employee's to do even better than they are already.  It provides people with reminders and fresh ideas.  It turns those little light bulbs on . . . or back on.

Start thinking about it today.  Start small and grow from there.  It doesn't need to be extravagant - email reminders/ideas, newsletters, pre-work meetings, shared stories of "wow" service.  Do any of this and you're well on your way to better service.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fred 2.0

You may have noticed I’ve been reviewing quite a few books lately.  I started off last week with a little pause in reading before the next one, just to be contacted about reviewing another brand new book.  And am I glad I said yes!

Mark Sanborn’s new book, Fred 2.0, is a follow up to his 2004 best seller, The Fred Factor.  Seldom have I ever read a success/leadership/motivation book that hits an emotional cord like this one.

The Fred Factor has been used by countless organizations, big and small, for the last decade, to impact their service and overall employee inspirations.  Fred 2.0 is bound for the same success.

Fred 2.0 is full of new, inspiring and energizing examples of people that are committed to taking ownership of their own greater service.  Mark, again, shows us that you don’t need any big budgets, training, or much of anything for that matter, to be extraordinary.  The chapter names themselves give you a good idea of what’s in store for you:
  • ·      Work with Passion,
  • ·      Develop Your Difference,
  • ·      Elevate the Experience,
  • ·      Renew Your Resolve.

The book starts right off with outstanding ideas to think about, like, “someone who does an ordinary job in an extraordinary way can have such a powerful impact on people”.  I doesn’t matter how small or “normal” you think your job may be, YOU can make it extraordinary and YOU can make a difference in others lives.  Just choose to be better than “normal”, choose to be extraordinary.

The Fred’s of the world do what they do because they know it’s the right thing to do.  Mark goes on to say that, “Being a Fred isn’t about the job you hold but how you do the job”.  You’ll learn this from “ordinary” people such as a forklift driver, a dentist, a butcher, and many more, that you have the tools you need to be extraordinary, inside of you already. 

This is a book that you’re going to want to jump on and get started.  And I wouldn’t doubt that you’ll end up picking up a few copies for your friends or co-workers.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Leadership and the Art of Struggle

Leadership is becoming more and more difficult and problematic . . . unless you have the right tools and resources.

In Steven Snyder’s new book, Leadership and the Art of Struggle, he gives you the insights you need to transform your leadership pitfalls into opportunities. Struggle happens, and you can’t be afraid to bring it out into the open. And as Chapter 1 is so rightly named, “Struggle is not a four-letter word”.

Snyder’s book is broken down into 3 building blocks:
Part 1 – Becoming Grounded – makes sense of your chaotic world and helps you to regain your “balance”.
Part 2 – Exploring New Pathways – teaches you to “reimagine the situation” and to overcome your blind spots.
Part 3 – Deepening Adaptive Energy – helps you prepare, harness, and celebrate what lies ahead.

Especially interesting to me is his explanation of blind spots – “anything that can hinder or undermine your performance that you are either unaware of or have chosen to overlook”. There are five different types (you’ll have to get the book to find out what they are). Like many other parts of the book, this makes you stop and think about things that you normally would overlook, consciously or unconsciously.

This isn’t a book to just sit, read, and put away. It’s full of hands-on practice exercises to help you immediately adapt the tools into your own implementation strategies. If you’re serious about wanting to become a better leader, you need to pick up this book today and get to work.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Customer Rules

Well I’ve just been a busy little reading hound lately.  I love having the ability to read books pre-release and watching how they do compared to my own reviews.  And every so often I come across a book that I know is going to do well, no matter what I say.  That brings me to, The Customer Rules: The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service, by Lee Cockerell.

This book had me hooked from the very start.  The common sense rules that Lee discusses are fundamental to service in ANY type of organization.  This book will make you go, “Hmmmm, that just makes sense”.  And isn’t that what you’re looking for in business book?

Lee Cockerell has been in the hospitality field for 40+ years, most recently retiring as VP of Operations at Walt Disney World, and uses this new book to teach us in short, bite-sized chapters, principles that he’s learned, sometimes the hard way, over those many years of experience.

Some of my favorite rules are,
Rule #5 - Ask Yourself, “What Would Mom Do?” - Always do the right thing and don’t do anything you would not want Mom to know about.
Rule #18 - Be a Copycat - You don’t need to try to reinvent the entire wheel.  Just improve on what others have done.
Rule #32 - Don’t Give the Responsibility Without the Authority.  How many times have you seen this go wrong?  Lee says, “It is not the problem itself that drives customers away; it’s how poorly you resolve the problem and how slowly you resolve it”.

This book is written in an easy to comprehend manner that keeps your attention.  It’s not a bunch of boring theories, but true life experiences with humor and unpretentious storytelling.  In other words, it’s the type of customer service and leadership book you’ve been looking for.  You and your service team will enjoy and value this book.

Log in to Amazon today, or go to your favorite bookstore tomorrow (March 5th) and pick up a couple of copies.  Oh - and don’t forget to pick up some highlighters also.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Purpose Must Be A Priority

This weeks post is by guest, Jeremy Kingsley who's new book, Inspired People Produce Results will be released on March 11!  If you like it half as much as I do, you'll love it! Get it now.

As the leader of your team, you must clearly understand and be able to pass on the purpose of your organization and your team’s role within that organization. If you don’t know the purpose of your efforts, you certainly won’t be able to inspire your team to success.
Communicating purpose will take more than requiring your team to memorize the company mission statement, however. It must become part of the culture of what everyone in your organization thinks about, says, and does each day. It will influence decisions made at the top and choices made by the “lowliest” employee.
Keep your own sense of purpose honed and sharp. You are the leader. Keep that big picture in mind and know exactly where you are and where you are going. Communicate your enthusiasm and dedication. Carry everyone else along with you. It will take energy and effort, but no one said that being a leader was easy.
Grow together. At times, it may seem that everyone has a different purpose, and that paths are diverging. Make sure that everyone sees the way back to the common goal, and that the impact their work will have on it is clear to them. It is as if each team member must make a brick, ensuring that it is strong and free from flaws, and then firmly set it in place, among others, so that the next course can rest safely upon it.
Friday is a great time to bring your team together, to review the week, discuss the one to come, and end the working day with a sense of triumph, feeling united, energized, and eager for what lies ahead.
I’m a runner, I know how my legs ache halfway through a race, and at work my head often hurts at some point during a week. It is purpose that carries tired limbs and overburdened minds on until a second wind comes and that tape is in view. Purpose fathers that final burst of energy that carries your team over the line, with the broken tape fluttering at their feet. Purpose paves the way to victory. “Good leaders,” it’s been said, “create an organization with a purpose that rises above the bottom line; great leaders go a step further, finding ways to leverage the passion of each employee in order to create incentives that transcend financial rewards.”
What does this statement mean? I think it’s saying that to be an exceptional leader, you must discover ways to link the passions of each individual on your team with the purposes of your organization. You may have to find ways to do this that go beyond traditional methods. As you get to know your team, you’ll discover more about their individual desires and goals and how they define their purpose in life. It may be based on their family values, faith, or recent experiences. Pay attention to these clues! The more you can find common ground between your organization’s goals and purposes and the individual goals and purposes of each member of your team, the more effective and happy they will be on the job.
You won’t regret making purpose a priority.

About the Author
Jeremy Kingsley is a professional speaker, author, and the President of OneLife Leadership. Since 1995 he has spoken to over 500,000 people at live events around the world. He has given over 2000 keynote speeches and his messages have reached millions through radio, television, and the internet. He has a new book titled Inspired People Produce Results, published by McGraw-Hill. Order now and learn more at

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Secret of Teams

What a busy few weeks of book reading. I received a re-launch book to read on the secret of teams. I thought, "hmmmm, what could possibly be new". Well, wasn't I surprised?

Mark Miller's (VP Organizational Effectiveness, Chick-fil-A) book, The Secret of Teams, surprised the heck out of me. It's written as a parable (which I'm not usually a fan of), which makes it easier to comprehend then most other books on teams. And the common sense ideas made me think, "hmm (again), why haven't I ever looked at it like that?"

Mark has an up and coming executive (Debbie Brewster) take a look at 3 very different types of teams, totally out of her business domain. What Debbie finds is that there are common threads to success and also common types of factors to look at, no matter the team or organization. Mark says that "the keys to building great teams are universal". There is no REAL secret here. You just have to stop and smell the roses in order to realize what those keys are for you.

The biggest step for anyone trying to create a successful team is changing the  "entrenched ways of thinking and acting". Along with this is - developing your staff, your team members. Teams don't fail because the want to, they fail because they don't know what it takes to succeed.

Doing things the 'way we've always done it' has been one of my biggest pet peaves over the years. Miller's book gives you the ideas and the tools to get away from the old 'tried and true'. Chances are you've tried, but it hasn't worked, and no one wants to put the effort out to try again.

My suggestion . . . my recommendation . . . is to buy The Secret of Teams for yourself and your leadership team. It may well be the best investment that some of you will ever make.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Communication and Partnerships

Fostering a sense of partnership with your employee's is an important aspect of motivation. People typically want to do good and feel like they belong. Don't just focus on the success of the company or your management team. Realize that you can't be a successful leader and try to do everything yourself. The increased success of you and your company relies on the future success of the employee's.

Continuous communication is a must if you want employee's to develop and succeed - or help your company succeed. You need to take a proactive role in looking at what's required. Take a look at any types of barriers there are to success. This very often has to do with a lack of communication or hoarding of power. If you hoard power and knowledge, someone's not getting information they need that may increase productivity and quality of work.

A former manager of customer satisfaction at Disney summed up success like this:
"Recruit the right people, train them, continually communicate with them, ask their opinions, involve them, recognize them and celebrate with them. If you show respect for their opinions and involvement, they will be proud of what they do and they'll deliver quality service."

Don't forget about your new employee's once the next crop comes in. Set them up with a mentor - be a mentor - to help them grow from the start and continue to grow. They're going to need guidance while they're getting used to their jobs and responsibilities. Communicate and be visible from the get go. Show new people that you're glad to have them aboard and that their jobs are just as important as anyone elses.

Too often we see organizations put on their orientation program, send employees to their departments, they meet their supervisor, they get to work - only to see their supervisor again when something goes wrong.  That in itself is wrong. In order to keep people motivated leaders must continuously communicate and show they care. Even if there's no news to share, let people know that. Remember - if employees hear nothing, they'll make up things to fill in the gaps.

"We're all in this together", so keep the communication and visibility up.  Make sure you "take them" (new employees) to the corporate culture - don't let the culture come to them. That never really works out very well. That will be a topic for another day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Outstanding Organization

These last couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure of reading, The Outstanding Organization, by Karen Martin.  I’ll tell you what - every organization that’s trying to improve or going through anything like a merger or restructuring should be reading this book.

There have been NUMEROUS books written on performance improvement by numerous “experts”, but they’re all, in some way, very similar . . . lots of theories.

In, The Outstanding Organization, Karen Martin, in five chapters, explains the straight to the point, duh factor of how to succeed.  She says that chaos is the main underlying issue in failed improvement.  “Chaos sabotages your ability to provide value to your customers, satisfy shareholders, . . .”  “Left unchecked, chaos destroys everything that’s good about an organization.”  Too many times, organizations start to plan without looking enough at what’s already happening and jump into the fire too quickly.

Chapter One begins right where the book should - the fundamentals.  I’ve had a couple of friends who have “flipped” houses.  What do you think the first thing is that they look at when checking out new properties?  The foundation.  Without a good foundation in business, you’re going to hold onto chaos and be unable to develop any kind of consistency.

From there Martin goes into creating clarity - truth seeking and truth telling.  Without it causes a psychological drain on everyone involved.

I loved the section on the problem of lack of focus.  She calls this “organizational attention-deficit-disorder.”  There must be focus and a sense of discipline instilled in the organization in order to get over the hurdles.

And lastly is employee engagement.  People talk and talk and talk about it, but as Karen says, it’s “the single largest contributor to an organization’s success”.

This book is based on Martin’s extensive research and experience with a number of organizations.  She taught these organizations not to accept the chaos as a norm but to fall back to the fundamentals and open the curtains to improvement.

If you’re looking for some no-nonsense ways to get your organization on, or back on track, you need, The Outstanding Organization.

Author, speaker, and consultant, Karen Martin, provides practical strategies and tools for building an Outstanding Organization. The Outstanding Organization: Generate Business Results by Eliminating Chaos and Building the Foundation for Everyday Excellence is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Because . . .

Have you ever tried to figure out why your group, department, whatever is tasked with doing something and been told, “You have more people”?

Huh? What does that have to do with the price of tea in China, or anywhere else for that matter? Sure, there are cases where this may play out, but it should not become one of those “it’s the way we’ve always done it” type answers.

Example: One area has one staff member and another has two. You have a task that fully affects both areas but it’s given exclusively to the area that has two staff members because, “you have more people”.

Now, a good leader is going to think this through. Each one of these people has a job to do, projects to work on, goals to meet. Just because there are two people doesn’t necessarily mean they have more time to devote to this other task or any other.

The point is; catch-all reasons don’t create teamwork. They don’t create motivation. They don’t create production. Each task and assignment is an individual task and assignment in itself, and must be treated as such.

Take a look at some of those catch-all phrases that you’re using . . . write them down, study them, remember them . . . now burn them. Be admired and remembered as a great leader, not disliked and remembered as a run of the mill manager.