Setting Team Expectations

Leaders don’t improve results all by themselves; the people in the business produce the results, because they want to grow and succeed. Leaders do create the conditions that enable those they lead to fulfill their aspirations, to achieve their Company, and their developmental, goals. One of these conditions is setting expectations. Once their expectations are understood, leaders can cultivate their team’s shared commitment – to one another and to goal achievement. Productive expectations include these …

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Attributes of Successful Strategy Champions

Strategies are often launched or refined at the start of a new year. And while you may have conceived the strategy, its successful implementation often depends on those in your team who appreciate why the strategy is necessary, believe in it and your Company, and have the critical thinking and interpersonal competencies to drive it forward. During strategy implementation, there will be challenging moments that provoke cynicism and compromise morale. At such times, asserting authority …

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The Prime Directive for Service

Customer relationships are valuable, fragile, and the foundation of your business. Your customer-service personnel are your front-line representatives, the face of your business. When something does not go as planned, how they respond to your customer-in-need makes all the difference in how that customer appraises the value of your relationship. How are your service people trained to respond? Do they deliver a scripted reply, based on what they can see on their computer screen, and …

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Finding the Space to React

Urgent issues and changing priorities – these are the daily experiences of leadership. That’s why this insight from Viktor Frankl, offered by David Noble and Carol Kauffman in their book “Real Time Leadership,” is valuable: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” This space between a stimulus and a response provides the time for leaders …

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Ensuring Your Message Is Heard

When there’s a serious message to deliver, we often ponder the words we want to use, redrafting them, and practicing how we’ll deliver them, until we think we have it right. But despite all our best efforts, many messages are not understood as intended. One reason this occurs is because we tend to communicate messages the way we like to hear them, without considering how our listeners might hear them. Combine this tendency with the …

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Purposeful Reflections

Last weekend, I gathered with classmates and cherished friends for our 50th college reunion. After revisiting time-worn stories and tired jokes, we began to reflect on our shared experience all those years ago. At that time, we had arrived at our esteemed university with just our dreams, and a common goal of learning and growing to build our future. Our hard work, the dedication of our teachers, and the values instilled by our families had produced the opportunity, but it was …

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Practice Makes Learning

Business environments are increasingly dynamic, challenging leaders to promptly solve unique, divergent problems, often under substantial pressure. Because the pace of change, and the complexity of the issues, can test their experience and expertise, many leaders strive to learn new skills or behaviors that strengthen their competencies. Learning comes from doing, from practicing. An effective practice routine specifies a challenging goal, and identifies metrics to monitor progress; to be sustainable, it should include relevant, appropriate, and objective …

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Process Improvement Lessons

Process improvement projects must navigate disruptions, resource constraints, egos, and other challenges. And like the military’s awareness that no plan survives first contact with the enemy, the same is true for your project plan, substituting ‘reality’ for ‘enemy.’ Here are some project lessons learned for your consideration: – Every process has a primary constraint where work-in-progress builds. Find yours and design your new process to minimize that constraint’s impact on productivity. Then, find the next …

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Data and Stories

Data is readily accessible to leaders. Often, there’s so much available that it consumes valuable time to carve out the facts which best fit a specific need. When that need is motivating your team to drive a change initiative or implement a strategy, revealing only the data is rarely enough to prompt action. Most people have a limited capacity to absorb data; share too much and it begins to sound like noise, with no compelling …

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The Quest for Transformation

The prime directive for leaders is to make things better – to improve results, strengthen culture, develop talent, nurture relationships. Some leaders see their mission as going beyond improvement, to leading a transformation of their operation or business. But transformation can result in a broad array of outcomes depending on multiple variables including the circumstances of the business, the impact of the culture, or the experience and vision of the leader. Some transformations are small …

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