Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Leadership Fallacies To Dispel

It never ceases to amaze me the many different definitions of leadership. Working in executive coaching and leadership development affords me invaluable opportunities to meet with leaders and teams to learn about their challenges, their perspectives, their rationale for decision-making. There are as many interpretations for what constitutes an a “good leader” as there are ice-cream flavors because the value that leadership creates is so subjective. At the same time, though, we all (well, many) know good leadership when we see it.

So what causes some people to have great definitions of leadership and others not? Probably the same reason for having different opinions, influences, and personal experiences.

To help identify the “good” it’s worthwhile sometimes to understand the “bad,” otherwise how will you know what “good” is? Here are five leadership fallacies to dispel:

1. A good manager makes a good leader.

What defines effectiveness at one level will be the expectation at the next position higher, but not the responsibility. In other words, when our favorite fictitious character Joe or Sally get promoted from, say, a senior director to vice-presidential role, there’s a mental shift required to move from the tactical and operational perspective into one that is more strategic. Yet doing so isn’t easy because he or she has never been required to think strategically before. Mindy Hall, author of Leading With Intention, believes, “we still reward people for their specific expertise and then we attribute their skills to saying ‘Oh, they’ll be a great leader too.’ But just because you got great results as a marketing VP doesn’t mean you’ll get results as the a leader of an organization.”

2. Effective leadership is unique to the industry.

Quite the opposite. Strong leadership is strong leadership no matter where it exists. Sure, tactics certainly differ according to the field in which you work but the defining principles that wield the pursuit of excellence remain the same: performance, adaptability, leadership. Here’s a quick breakdown of each (more on these elements here):

Performance: the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual capacities that compose the individual, such as habits, health (i.e. stress management), focus, self-talk, emotional intelligence, decision-making, communication. Adaptability: the skill and will to learn and unlearn, presented through self-renewal and self-organization. Leadership: decision-making, communication, authentic self-expression that instills value in others.

It’s at the crux of these three areas where effectiveness lay:


3. “My leadership style worked here, so it’ll probably work there.”

Don’t be so myopic. The dynamics of personalities involved and the internal and external factors that influencing the circumstance vary from situation to situation. A command and control style, for instance, will work when there is significant pressure (i.e. time) or urgency to get the job done; when a decision as to be made and it has to happen now. However, try to employ dictatorial rule as an everyday leadership style and you’ll soon watch your followers follow somebody else.

4. Only leaders can make decisions.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the role of leadership to make all the decisions. There just simply isn’t enough time in the day to do so. What their role is, however, is to set the conditions for decision-making to occur. By conditions I’m referring to the left and right boundaries that define employee decision-making space, the process of communication from top down and bottom up, meeting flow, etc…

In the military we had something called critical information requirements (CIRs) that served as a decision-making threshold. Basically, the senior leader would identify the criteria that, if triggered, would warrant a decision to be escalated to his/her level; unless those conditions were met, direct reports were free to make their own decisions based on the common purpose understood by all. Something else this CIRs served allowed was freeing up the leader to focus on the business rather than on your business.

5. Leaders have very little time for anything else.

If I could drop an expletive here I would, but we’ll have to settle for its acronym: BS. People don’t manage time they manage their priorities, so when somebody says, “I don’t have time for that” what that person is really saying is, “That’s not important to me right now.” Steve Gilliland, author of Detour, recommends leaders “decide what’s important and never take it for granted. It’s not until you’re about to die do you realize the value of 30 minutes.”

Written by Jeff Boss
Source: Forbes

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Almost Nearly Perfect Line of Credit: Accounts Receivable Financing

Ask the average business owner to describe the “perfect line of credit” and you’ll probably hear something like “having access to as much low interest money as I want whenever I need it for whatever I need it for as I grow my business”. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of business owners a line of credit like that is simply not available. Fortunately what is available is an Accounts Receivable (A/R) Line of Credit that can be described this way “money that you can access whenever you’ve made a sale so you can pay; payroll, suppliers and taxes on time as you grow your business.”

While this second description does not have the obvious appeal of the first, paying creditors and taxes on time and consistently has always been one of the keys to business success. Many suppliers are also prepared to offer extra services, generous terms and significant discounts to their best paying customers. Unlike other sources of funding they don’t demand interest, collateral, personal guarantees or equity in return. An A/R line is also easier to qualify for, advance rates are higher and it can be increased quickly if sales grow.

The only negative to an A/R Line of Credit is that it’s more expensive than a traditional bank line and a lot of business owners refuse to properly consider it as an option for that reason alone. This is unfortunate since A/R financing is often the perfect solution in the right situation and can be a reliable source of vital funding through even tough times. For companies that are pre-bankable, turning around or just growing very fast an A/R line might be as close to an operating line of credit as they are going to qualify for.

The main reason that A/R financing is more expensive is that it includes ongoing professional A/R management. Modern systems are used to manage and report on the A/R, ongoing credit reports are purchased from a variety of agencies and skilled people are needed to manage the whole process. This comes at a cost, however, when close attention is paid to the A/R then bad debt is minimized and A/R turnover is improved. Most business owners who have used A/R financing come to value the services almost as much as they appreciate the ease and flexibility of the funding source.

So when you next meet someone who is struggling to qualify for a line of credit or seems to be expecting too much out their line, then you should suggest to them the next best thing. Growing or turning around a business without giving up equity is a huge challenge. But with hard work and the right source of cashflow support it has a much better chance of doing just that. A/R Financing might not be the perfect line of credit but it is very close.

Written by Tom Klausen
Source: First Vancouver Financial Services Ltd

Tom Klausen is President of First Vancouver Financial Services, Ltd and has had extensive experience in providing alternative financing solutions to small business owners. He also provides management consulting services to non traditional lenders throughout North America.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The 1 Thing That Will Ultimately Determine Your Success as a Leader


Leadership is a complex endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

We tend to make things more complicated than they need to be and that’s definitely true in the field of leadership. To prove my point, go to Amazon.com and search their book listings for the word “leadership” and see how many returns you get (but wait until you finish reading this article!). What did you find? It was 138,611 as of the writing of this post.

Browsing the titles of some popular best-sellers would lead you to believe that in order to be a successful leader you just need to find the magical keys, take the right steps, follow the proper laws, figure out the dysfunctions, embrace the challenge, ascend the levels, look within yourself, look outside yourself, form a tribe, develop the right habits, know the rules, break the rules, be obsessed, learn the new science, or discover the ancient wisdom. Did I say we like to over-complicate things?

What if successful leadership isn’t really that complicated? What if I told you there was one thing…not a title, power, or position…that determined whether people followed your lead? What if you understood there was one aspect of your leadership that was a non-negotiable, must-have characteristic that must be in place for people to pledge you their loyalty and commitment? What if you knew there was one element that defined how people experienced you as a leader? Would you be interested? Can it really be as simple as one thing?

That one thing is trust. It’s the foundation of any successful, healthy, thriving relationship. Without it, your leadership is doomed. Creativity is stifled, innovation grinds to a halt, and reasoned risk-taking is abandoned. People check their hearts and minds at the door, leaving you with a staff who has quit mentally and emotionally but stayed on the payroll, sucking precious resources from your organization.

However, with trust, all things are possible. Energy, progress, productivity, and ingenuity flourish. Commitment, engagement, loyalty, and excellence become more than empty words in a company mission statement; they become reality. Trust has been called the “magic” ingredient of organizational life. It simultaneously acts as the bonding agent that keeps everything together as well as the lubricant that keeps things moving smoothly. Stephen M.R. Covey likes to say that while high trust won’t necessarily rescue a poor strategy, low trust will almost always derail a good one. Trust is essential to your success as a leader.

But trust doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t happen by accident. It’s advanced leadership and requires you to work at it each and every day. It starts by you being trustworthy. The ABCD Trust Model is a helpful tool to help you understand the four elements of being a trustworthy leader.

Leaders build trust when they are:

Able
Being Able is about demonstrating competence. One way leaders demonstrate their competence is having the expertise needed to do their jobs. Expertise comes from possessing the right skills, education, or credentials that establish credibility with others. Leaders also demonstrate their competence through achieving results. Consistently achieving goals and having a track record of success builds trust with others and inspires confidence in your ability. Able leaders are also skilled at facilitating work getting done in the organization. They develop credible project plans, systems, and processes that help team members accomplish their goals.

Believable
A Believable leader acts with integrity. Dealing with people in an honest fashion by keeping promises, not lying or stretching the truth, and not gossiping are ways to demonstrate integrity. Believable leaders also have a clear set of values that have been articulated to their direct reports and they behave consistently with those values—they walk the trustalk. Finally, treating people fairly and equitably are key components to being a believable leader. Being fair doesn’t necessarily mean treating people the same in all circumstances, but it does mean that people are treated appropriately and justly based on their own unique situation.

Connected
Connected leaders show care and concern for people, which builds trust and helps to create an engaging work environment. Leaders create a sense of connection by openly sharing information about themselves and the organization and trusting employees to use that information responsibly. Leaders also build trust by having a “people first” mentality and building rapport with those they lead. Taking an interest in people as individuals and not just as nameless workers shows that leaders value and respect their team members. Recognition is a vital component of being a connected leader, and praising and rewarding the contributions of people and their work builds trust and goodwill.

Dependable
Being Dependable and maintaining reliability is the fourth element of trustworthiness. One of the quickest ways to erode trust is by not following through on commitments. Conversely, leaders who do what they say they’re going to do earn a reputation as being consistent and trustworthy. Maintaining reliability requires leaders to be organized in such a way that they are able to follow through on commitments, be on time for appointments and meetings, and get back to people in a timely fashion. Dependable leaders also hold themselves and others accountable for following through on commitments and taking responsibility for the outcomes of their work.

Trust
-the one requirement for successful leadership. Do you have it?


Source: Leading with Trust
Written by Randy Conley

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Data Acquisition For Brand Marketers



Data acquisition today is moving beyond collecting Likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter. It’s no longer enough to collect numbers of consumers as a score, our clients want numbers that will drive strategy. Collecting the right data allows your brand to shorten the time between customer action and a perfectly targeted brand response.

But to get there, you need your customers to opt-in, here are three ways to get them in the door.

Sweepstakes

On average, over 40% of chance-to-win registrants opt in to brand communications which make Sweepstakes an ideal option for brands looking for data acquisition.

Sweepstakes are pretty straightforward, winners are randomly drawn from a pool of entries at the end of a promotion period. The entry process allows your brand to collect key data points from consumers during the registration process helping to inform your marketing strategy.

For consumers, the chance to win a big prize is an exciting enough incentive to opt-in and consumers love to tell friends about a chance to win. This doubles your opportunity for data acquisition by expanding your reach.

Check out how Trulia gave away a house to drive engagement.

Instant Win Games

Like sweepstakes, instant win games encourage consumer brand communication opt-ins, and have the added benefit of repeat interaction. The instant win game gives consumers a greater chance of winning an offer or a prize over a grand prize sweepstakes entry. For brands an instant win game means more time spent with your brand, a greater perception of winning which leads to a greater viral spread to new targets as your audience enthusiastically shares your contest.

Personality Test

Using a quiz is a way to engage consumers by helping them identify their style or a personality trait all while building brand recognition. A creative personality test is fun and engaging for the audience and also highly shareable across social networks. Brands benefit because purchase rates increase when consumers are given personalized product recommendations based on their answers and the test format provides ample opportunity for brands to collect robust and customizable data about their audience.

This is Part 1 in our series Using Promotional Tactics To Reach Marketing Goals. Join us next week when we’ll discuss what tactics will drive brand engagement with your consumers.

Written by Melissa Summers
Source: Hello World

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

If You Want People to Listen, Stop Talking

George*, a managing director at a large financial services firm, had an uncanny ability to move a roomful of people to his perspective. What George said was not always popular, but he was a master persuader.

It wasn’t his title — he often swayed colleagues at the same hierarchical level. And it wasn’t their weakness — he worked with a highly competitive bunch. It wasn’t even his elegant and distinguished British accent — his British colleagues were persuaded right along with everyone else, and none of them had his track record of persuasion.

George had a different edge, which wasn’t immediately obvious to me because I was listening to what George said. His power was in what he didn’t say.

George was silent more than anyone else who spoke, and often, he spoke last.

I say “anyone else who spoke” because there are plenty of people who remain completely silent — they don’t say anything, ever — and they are not persuasive. For many people, silence equals absence. But George was not absently or passively silent. In fact, he was busier in his silence than anyone else was while speaking. He was listening.

It’s counterintuitive, but it turns out that listening is far more persuasive than speaking.

It is easy to fall into the habit of persuasion by argument. But arguing does not change minds — if anything, it makes people more intransigent. Silence is a greatly underestimated source of power. In silence, we can hear not only what is being said but also what is not being said. In silence, it can be easier to reach the truth.

There is almost always more substance below the surface of what people say than there is in their words. They have issues they are not willing to reveal. Agendas they won’t share. Opinions too unacceptable to make public.

We can hear all those things — and more — when we keep quiet. We can feel the substance behind the noise.

I could tell what George was doing, because when he decided to speak, he was able to articulate each person’s position. And, when he spoke about what they said, he looked at them in acknowledgement, and he linked what they had said to the larger outcome they were pursuing.

Here’s what’s interesting: Because it was clear that George had heard them, people did not argue with him. And, because he had heard them, his perspective was the wisest in the room.

This relates to another thing George consistently did that made him trustworthy and persuasive. He was always willing to learn something from others’ perspectives and to let them know when he was shifting his view as a result of theirs.

Because words can so often get in the way, silence can help you make connections. Try just listening, for once. It softens you both, and makes you more willing not only to keep listening, but to incorporate each other’s perspectives.

If you treat this silence thing as a game, or as a way to manipulate the views of others, it will backfire. Inevitably you will be discovered, and your betrayal will be felt more deeply. If people are lured into connection, only to feel manipulated, they may never trust you again.

You have to use silence with respect.

There are so many good reasons to be thoughtfully silent that it’s a wonder we don’t do it more often. We don’t because it’s uncomfortable. It requires that we listen to perspectives with which we may disagree and listen to people we may not like.

But that’s what teamwork — and leadership — calls us to do. To listen to others, to see them fully, and to help them connect their desires, perspectives, and interests with the larger outcome we all, ultimately, want to achieve.

There’s something else we offer, as persuasive leaders, when we are silent: space for others to step into. Lau Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher wrote: A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.

When people contribute their own ideas, they inevitably work harder than if they are simply complying with our ideas. Silence, followed by a few well-chosen words, is our best bet at achieving this leadership ideal.

So, how do we do it, in practice? We all know how to be silent. The question is: can we withstand the pressure to speak.

Few resist it, which is why we seldom have silent moments in groups. But that, according to George, can be used to our advantage.

“When you ask a question into a group,” he told me, “think of it as a competition. If you answer your own question, you’ve lost. You’ll be answering your own questions all day and no one else will do the work. But wait in the silence — no matter how long — until someone in the group speaks. And they will then continue to do the work necessary to lead themselves.”

There it is, his secret: Let other people speak into the silence and listen quietly for the truth behind their words. Then acknowledge what you’ve heard (which is, most likely, more than has been said) and, once the others feel seen and heard, offer your view.

And when they all agree with you? That’s the power of silence.

*I changed George’s name to protect his privacy.

Written by Peter Bregman
Image by Andrew Nguyen
Source: Harvard Business Review