Sunday, June 24, 2012

Reassessing Leadership For Today’s Bosses

As we enter the long hot summer of politics and read stories daily about corporate strategies, one common theme emerges: leadership. And there is seldom agreement about what real leadership looks like or who is best to provide it.

Why? My theory is that too often, people in leadership positions fail to realize that every decision affects real people, not just the bottom line. Every good leader I have ever known has understood that they are leading people, not just an organization.

A couple additions to your reading list might improve your leadership potential.

Authored by my friend, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, “How We Lead Matters” is a collection of “remembrances of people and times in my life from which I’ve learned lessons that may provide some insight or guidance to others.”

When Marilyn became CEO of Carlson – with brands like Carlson Wagonlit Travel, the world’s largest corporate travel company, Radisson Hotels, Country Inn & Suites and TGI Friday’s – she admits she had doubts that she could fill the role her father had bestowed on her. All who knew her were sure that she was up to the task. And her book is a treasure trove of how she handled situations from Sunday school to meeting global leaders. Among the terrific leadership lessons in the 70 stories are gems like these:

On a trip to India, Marilyn asked a businesswoman how she was able to address social issues in a country with such immense problems. The woman shared the story of Gandhi. His five possessions consisted of “a cloth garment, a walking staff, a broken pair of eyeglasses, a pair of wooden sandals, and a pocket watch. Yet he transformed the world with his commitment and compassion.”

“It’s been said that the mark of a true leader is thinking well beyond his or her years, that is, establishing a leadership culture in an organization that becomes the organization’s hallmark.”

“When you are making a difficult decision, ask yourself if the decision you’re about to make would show integrity, leadership, caring. And if you make that particular decision, will you be giving up on something you should continue fighting for? … Never forget that your role as a leader is to be a steward for future generations.”
Marilyn continues as Chairman of Carlson, and Carlson continues to grow and prosper. See a connection here?

A brand new book, “Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders” also emphasizes the critical relationship between leadership and a passionate, motivated workforce. Author Joel Manby is president and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment, the company with more than 10,000 employees that entertains more than 16 million guests at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo., and 25 other properties across America. Manby’s experience on the television program “Undercover Boss” reinforced his confidence in HFE’s workforce, but what followed was truly enlightening. He received thousands of responses from viewers who had watched the show, many from people who wished that their workplaces were more like what they had seen on TV – “more respectful, cooperative, joyful, and well, more loving.”

Loving? How many of us can call our workplaces loving?

“The simple truth is this: there is a crisis of confidence in leadership. The level of dissatisfaction and even resentment present in the thousands of letters and email messages shocked me,” Manby writes. “People felt as if they couldn’t trust their leaders and bosses.”

In a panel discussion by the Society of Human Resource Managers, he explained what sets his company apart. “We actually use love to define our leadership culture at HFE. Not love the emotion, but love the verb. We train our leaders to love each other, knowing that if they create enthusiasm with their employees, the employees will in turn create an enthusiastic guest experience. I think most organizations avoid discussions about how people should treat each other, and I think that’s what is wrong with a lot of organizations. Why are we so afraid to talk about love?”

The seven principles sound basic enough: to be patient, kind, trustful, unselfish, truthful, forgiving and dedicated. But that’s where the simplicity ends. The examples and stories are both inspirational and challenging. The chapter summaries are succinct checklists to keep you on track.

These two books define leadership in terms we aren’t accustomed to. But maybe they lead us to a better way to work.

Mackay’s Moral: If how you lead matters, remember: love works.

by Harvey Mackay Jun 21, 2012


Reassessing Leaderaship For Today's Bosses


Morocco's king sets example for progress

In December 2010, 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself. This street vendor had been rousted and humiliated once again by Tunisian police for hawking apples and pears out of a wheelbarrow. Bouazizi's death triggered the Arab Spring, a Twitter-driven revolution that engulfed Muslim nations in the Mediterranean in 2011.

Ten nations share the sand-swirled backdrop of the Sahara Desert -- a region larger than the contiguous United States. The Sahara, where dunes can reach the height of 600 feet, has been the backdrop to much of the Arab Spring. This social earthquake has surmounted Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, among others in the region. Meanwhile, the upheaval registered only modest tremors in Morocco.

I've just returned from a Chief Executives Organization tour to Morocco. Our group of 35 couples visited the country's sometimes-snow-capped Atlas Mountains and the metropolises of Marrakech and Casablanca.

What we saw stirred confidence that change can be intelligently anticipated, even in tradition-rich Morocco. This land's monarchy is one of the oldest on the planet.

Executives should analyze the dynamics of the Arab Spring. It's a case study of what can befall complacent bureaucracies -- businesses included -- in the lightning-speed world of Twitter and Facebook. Morocco's course also merits study. It shows one way meaningful change can be achieved without casting an entire society into turmoil.

King Mohammed VI rules over 32 million Moroccans, nearly all of whom are Muslim. Many once-nomadic Berbers are now farmers, whereas millions of Moroccans today live in cities. Despite broad income advances, poverty remains a problem in Morocco. Mohammed VI assumed the throne in 1999 upon his father's death. The king championed greater freedoms, especially for women, and disavowed the notion that he was a "sacred" being.

My lifelong friend Sam Kaplan is the U.S. ambassador to Morocco. He's one of the very few Jewish people in that role to a Muslim nation. Sam is convinced Morocco's government is doing a solid job.

Here are six pieces of take-home value I scratched out on my napkin as our return flights wended their ways west:

Dig your well before you're thirsty. Small villages have been a priority, and practical issues like water and electricity have commanded center stage. If you want to avert a groundswell, plant your feet firmly in reality.

Act faster than expected. From the first day of his rule, the present king has already done more than his father did in a half century. Morocco's Feb. 20 movement barely gained traction this year. According to the Economist, "Unlike other Arab autocrats who dithered when uprisings erupted last spring, King Mohammed VI unveiled a new constitution within weeks." The challenge is empowering the people, and the new government appreciates its mission.

If you want to empower people, address the day-to-day tasks that keep them from using their skills. Women have shouldered a disproportionate responsibility in gathering water in Morocco. This has been a significant barrier to them getting a meaningful education. Might this ring a bell for us in America? Consider how many women in our business world were still getting coffee just 20 years ago!

Cultivate the long view. Successfully battling infant mortality and adding 20 years to the average Moroccan's lifespan have been signal achievements. Again, increased access to a safe water supply has made a crucial difference. Marking a third birthday has become a pivotal survival milestone. Gradually, Moroccan parents are now able to take a more secure view of life.

Pay more attention to world powers than neighborhood bullies. Morocco has drawn a high share of American and European investment compared to neighboring countries. One reason: Its political and social agendas have each had a more practical and progressive ring.

Foster entrepreneurship. Long-standing allies of the West, Moroccans like Americans. They also appreciate free enterprise. Entrepreneurship and tradition flourish side-by-side in Morocco. In agriculture, the new thrust is shifting production to more profitable fruit crops. And the customer-service passion we experienced from hotel staff was awesome.

Morocco's king proves once again one person can make a difference, but only if that one person puts the common agenda first.

Mackay's Moral: Tweets let freedom ring everywhere ... even where the king's the thing.

by Harvey Mackay Jun 10, 2012



Morocco's king sets example for progress

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Maintain good relationship with your boss

Jim came into the office one morning and found a note from his boss demanding that he report to her office right away. When he walked in, the boss told him to close the door.

"Jim, I understand you called in sick yesterday," the boss said.

He nodded. "That's right."

The boss smiled, reached into her desk and took out the morning's newspaper. Buried on the back page of the sports section was a photo of Jim, holding a third-place trophy in a local golf tournament from the day before.

"What do you have to say for yourself?" the boss asked.

Jim shrugged. "If I hadn't been sick, I probably would have won."

Your relationship with your boss is crucial in business. A good relationship with your boss is the foundation of a successful career. Your boss is the person most likely to recognize your contributions and achievements and potentially recommend you for promotions. Why would you compromise that?

In Jim's case, he demonstrated that he was dishonest, disrespectful or both. His boss will have good reason not to trust him. Should he have been forthcoming about the reason for his absence? Absolutely, if he wanted his boss to rely on him.

He should have asked for time off, used a vacation day or skipped the golf outing. Calling in sick was a gamble that didn't pay off for him. It will taint his relationship with his boss for a very long time.

Don't try to be best friends. That's not realistic or even wise, but you must be able to get along. Some conflicts may be inevitable, but most of the time, you can stay on your manager's good side by avoiding these simple workplace mistakes:

Not staying focused. Don't allow your personal life to take over your work. Use good judgment about phone calls and social media. Let the boss see you focused on your work, not updating your Facebook status throughout the day.

Frequent tardiness/absenteeism. Don't get a reputation for always being late to work. Managers want people they can depend on. Punctuality and a solid attendance record show you take your job seriously.

Overshadowing your boss. Some managers can feel threatened by employees with too high a profile. Keep doing your best, but don't try to outshine your boss.

Poor communication. Don't hide from your managers. Ask questions, and just talk sometimes. You want to build positive rapport with your boss, and you can't do that if you never communicate.

On the flip side, there are plenty of positive strategies that should be second nature in your business life. Don't just save them for your boss. Treating co-workers as well as you treat your boss will demonstrate that you are not just playing office politics:

Ask for advice. Everyone likes to be thought of as an expert, and in most offices, it's not hard to spot the expert in any given area. Asking for help shows you value the other person's contribution to the success of the operation.

Let the other person win you over. Admit that you have come around to his or her way of thinking.

Let the person be modest. We all love to hear praise, but we don't want to admit that we're enjoying it. When you pay a compliment, acknowledge his or her feelings.

Show that you share his or her values. Express your support for the other person's viewpoint.

Recognize achievement at all levels. Managers will be suspicious of your motives if they hear you complimenting only higher-ups. Make a point of praising your own employees, or your co-workers, to demonstrate your sincerity.

Be selective. No one wants a reputation as a kiss-up. Wait until you spot something significant to call attention to so your words sound sincere.

Always pull your weight. Nothing will impress your boss and co-workers more than knowing that you will do your share and then some. Demonstrate a stellar work ethic, a positive attitude and a willingness to go the extra mile. There will always be a place in this world for anyone who says, "I'll take care of it," and then does it.

Mackay's Moral: Whether you're at the top of the heap or the bottom of the ladder, you will always have someone to answer to.

by Harvey Mackay Jun 3, 2012




Maintain good relationship with your boss

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