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.