The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips to become an Influencial Thought Leader

Here are five steps to take to help you build a strong thought-leadership campaign:

  1. Clarify your purpose.

The most successful thought leaders have a purpose and a clear definition of what they want to accomplish. They also understand the time and dedication it can take to become influential. Before embarking on a thought-leadership program, consider your goals and what you want to achieve.

  1. Identify your voice.

Thought leaders have a strong, identifiable and distinct voice that sets them apart from others. Their voice is their brand and their audience knows exactly what they stand for and what to expect from them. Most important, they don’t stray from their brand identity and instead look for opportunities to make it even stronger.

  1. Write.

One of the defining characters of thought leaders is their ability to effectively communicate their expertise and knowledge to their audience. A great way to get your thoughts and experience noticed is by writing contributed articles, op-eds and blog posts.

This allows you to be a part of the conversation, establish your voice, demonstrate your expertise and contribute to an ongoing dialogue. Writing gives you the opportunity to not only demonstrate your abilities but also earn credibility with your audience and other thought leaders in your industry.

  1. Build an active online presence.

Great thought leaders have mastered the art of sharing and putting their message and brand out there. A good way to offer advice and tips is to actively share them on social-media platforms. A great thought leader understands how instrumental social media is in developing their voice. He or she looks for opportunities and groups to join and uses different platforms to talk about his or her expertise and becomes a part of relevant conversations.

Building an active online presence requires a social-media strategy that allows optimal brand exposure and opportunities to actively connect with different audiences. Therefore, provide relevant and interesting content, actively engage with users, ask questions and offer feedback and insight on Twitter and Facebook. Establish your credibility, offer your expertise and make yourself reachable by participating in discussions on Reddit, Quora and LinkedIn.

Be strategic about your social-media profiles and always look for opportunities to build your brand and spread your message.

  1. Be a mentor.

Great thought leaders have strong ideas that live on through the people they have influenced and helped out. These informal teachers understand the importance of becoming a mentor and shaping the next generation of leaders in their field. They want to share their experiences, lessons and knowledge so that others will continue in their footsteps.

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: Three tips for leaving your customers ‘breathless’

Satisfying your customers isn’t good enough in today’s competitive markets. Meeting their needs falls short of earning their loyalty. You need to dazzle them; leave them “breathless” whenever they touch your organization.

Here are three steps leaders can take:

1. Hire human-being lovers – people who have an innate desire to serve their fellow human beings. People who get absolute joy from serving and do whatever it takes to see someone’s eyes light up.

Customers can’t be delighted if an employee would rather be taking inventory.

You can’t train people to “love humans.” You can train them to “grin” with a smile in their voice, but that’s the extent of it.

To select the right candidate, the recruitment interview should always start with the question “Do you love humans?” If you get goosebumps from the answer, hire the person. If not, show them the door.

2. Trash dumb rules – policies and procedures that infuriate customers and drive them kicking and screaming to other organizations.

Rules have a legitimate management control purpose but if they drive business away because customers are unwilling to play by them, what’s the point?

Have fun with the idea. I struck a number of “dumb rules committees” to seek out and destroy senselessness; I made it matter by holding my leadership team accountable for implementing the changes.

Rules that serve the customer requires their engagement. Ask them for their input in rule design; they will be impressed that you are open to asking for their help.

Empower your front line to bend rules in special circumstances when they don’t make sense to a particular customer and their loyalty is in jeopardy. Not every policy will be acceptable to every customer, so allowing some flexibility is required.

Don’t worry, your employees won’t give away the farm. Provide them with the skills to balance the needs of both the company and the customer.

3. Turn “oops” into “wow.” Sure you do your best to avoid making mistakes, but they will happen. That’s life in any organization.

The good news is that if your service recovery is remarkable when you disappoint one of your customers they are more loyal than if the mistake never happened. So how to recover?

Fix the mistake fast and then blow the customer away by surprising them with something they don’t expect.

Surprise is magic. People expect the screw-up to be remedied but they don’t expect the extra personal attention you give them to atone for the mistake.

Speed is critical. A recovery succeeds only if it is delivered within 24 hours of the oops. After that, save your energy for the next one coming your way.

Leaving people breathless is not rocket science; it’s about delivering basic human needs. We want to feel special, treated as individuals and delighted by surprise.

Stand-out leaders understand this and create organizations to deliver.

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: Successful Leadership Transitions

Successful leadership transitions: traps to avoid, tips for success

It’s never easy to step into a leadership role from outside an organization.

Michael Watkins, an authority on leadership transitions, has concluded through his research that 40 percent of executive leaders hired from the outside fail within 18 months. He estimates the cost to the company of a failed leader at 14 times the leader’s annual salary. Watkins’ findings are especially applicable to transitions in non-family leadership roles within a family business. 

Think of the statistics on keeping family businesses in the family for successive generations: Only 33 percent make it from generation one to generation two, and just 11 percent make it to the third generation. In an article on its website, thefbcg.com (“Transitioning from Family Leadership to Non-Family CEO: Best Practices for Maintaining a Family Enterprise”), Family Business Consulting Group observes, “As a family business moves down the generations, the likelihood that it will need to turn to a non-family leader increases.” Most family businesses ultimately will have to hire outside leaders. 

Before looking at three tips for a successful leadership transition, it’s important to recognize two common pitfalls in the process. Few would disagree that the first six months are critical to the success of a new leader. So why do we put people in a position in which their chances for success are slim? 

  1. We don’t recognize the need for diligence.

The trap is to view the success of the previous leader as an indicator that the job is easy because all it needs is maintenance for a while: “Dad has run this organization well for 25 years. The team is solid, and we’re a market leader. This job should be a snap.” 

The reality is quite different, as Family Business Consulting Group observes (“Preparing Owners for a Non-Family CEO,” thefbcg.com): “Ownership groups looking at a non-family CEO for the first time often find they must change the informal ways in which they function and become more structured. For instance, if Dad was the previous CEO, it cannot be expected that the new CEO, who no longer shares the family’s last name, will be given the same degree of trust and respect initially upon the transition.”

  1. CEO equals business leader plus family therapist.

Whether it’s due to reputation or how much we’re paying them, it’s easy to expect new leaders to have it all figured out right out of the gate. Making the job too big is a trap. As Watkins’ research shows, it’s not easy to step into a leadership role, especially in family businesses with the added expectation of having to navigate — and often repair — complex family dynamics. While the ability to steer through such complexities is essential, making it the new leader’s job to rewrite the rules is a recipe for disaster. 

Families need to own the work of creating a situation where someone from the outside can come in and be successful, not ask a new leader to fix the family. How can a family-owned business maximize the odds of success for its newly hired leader?

Here are three tips for making a transition successful:

  1. Make the culture rules clear.

Business culture can be a difficult thing to define. In a closely held business, culture is often broad-brushed with generalizations like “family-focused” or “people matter.” Leader Onboarding Inc. (leaderonboarding.com) has developed an assessment, New Leader Culture Snapshot, designed to help new leaders understand performance culture from multiple perspectives.

The survey asks two open-ended questions: What is the most important thing for this new leader to learn about the culture/performance climate in their operation? What are some potential early wins for this new leader?

In family businesses, communications and decisions are often informally executed. A Monday-morning breakfast to discuss the week’s priorities can help to formalize the process. Getting feedback from the team and the family around the important aspects of the culture and performance climate is a good start in making the rules clear to the new leader.

  1. Help the new leader to find company wins and family wins.

Trust is what successful leaders have and unsuccessful leaders lack. A new non-family leader in a family business faces additional obstacles in this regard. In any leadership transition, it’s critical that a new leader build trust from the beginning and avoid situations that can foster mistrust. One of the biggest mistakes I see is having a new leader fire someone in the first three to six months. 

Company wins can range from devoting more resources to professional development of staff to continuing traditional employee gatherings or recognition programs. Family wins can range from the new leader making a point to have informal lunches with key family leaders to learning about the history of and relationships with key suppliers before making decisions about whom to bring into a new project. Trust is built through wins that matter to key stakeholders. In a family business, those stakeholders include both employees and family members.

  1. Support, support, support.

Every transition will include mistakes and complex situations that a new leader will need help to navigate to a positive outcome. A mentor is an ally during transition who provides a second perspective and an established reputation to help the new leader to remove barriers and avoid fatal mistakes. Remember that family businesses are beset with informal communication channels and family-centered traditions that can be difficult for an outsider to see. Assigning a mentor to provide a safe place to talk through some of these gray areas and help the new leader make good choices is critical.

Leadership transitions are inherently challenging, and the dynamics of a family business make them especially demanding. There are many steps that organizations can take to increase the likelihood of success. The first steps are to recognize the need to be proactive and deliberate with the transition, and to create realistic expectations for the new role. 

For more Leadership Tips from The Shearin Group, visit this site.

 

 

 

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips for Communicating your Employees

Tips for communicating better with your employees

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Are you satisfied with the level of communication from your agency leaders?

My organization, the Partnership for Public Service, and Deloitte, recently analyzed the government-wide responses to three employee survey questions to see how federal leaders were doing regarding their communication with workers. The results were not very encouraging.

Overall, the analysis found that only about half of federal workers government-wide are satisfied with the level of communication they receive from senior leaders, and the percentage of positive responses has been declining since 2009.

Only 45 percent of federal employees, for example, responded positively when asked in a 2013 survey question whether they are satisfied with the information they receive form management regarding what is going on in the organization. In addition, just 48 percent of federal employees reported being satisfied with the extent to which managers promote communication among work units. Managers were more successful when it came to communicating the goals and priorities of the organization, with 58 percent registering a positive view.

The bottom line is that federal leaders can and should do better, and in the process they’ll help improve employee satisfaction with their jobs and workplaces. To create a more engaged and motivated workforce, agency leaders need to establish an effective communications strategy that includes keeping employees apprised of important developments, providing clarity on goals and priorities, and establishing a means to receive and respond to feedback.

As a general rule, the Partnership’s analysis found that agencies receiving high marks from employees on leadership communication tend to be proactive, making a concerted effort to keep workers informed.

Here are some approaches that could help federal leaders communicate better with employees:

Make communication a consistent priority. Establishing effective leadership communication requires a long-term focus, not just short-lived initiatives. There are multiple venues where employees can receive information from senior leaders, ranging from quarterly call-ins to in-person and virtual town hall meetings. NASA, for example, hosts a virtual executive summit that allows Administrator Charlie Bolden to connect with employees in diverse geographic locations using online tools. NASA’s managers also actively seek employee feedback through focus groups and surveys, customizing questions based on their immediate relevance to the agency.

Communicate through multiple platforms. In order to effectively communicate with all staff, agency leaders should use multiple platforms. From more conventional means of leadership communication, such as one-on-one discussions and emails, to more innovative communication methods, such as video conferencing and social media, leaders should leverage a range of platforms to communicate with employees.

Maintain open lines between leaders and employees. Effective communication is only possible when those in top positions maintain open, direct lines with employees. Agencies can foster such communication by hosting office hours where employees meet directly with leaders, and by organizing webinars that allow leaders to overcome geographical hurdles and engage employees located outside agency headquarters.

Implement employee suggestions. Soliciting employees’ opinions is an initial step toward improving agency communication. Simply collecting these ideas, though, does little to improve satisfaction if employees believe agency leadership does not use their feedback. When leaders implement ideas generated by agency staff, employees receive a clear message that their voice is both heard and valued. The Department of Transportation (DOT) launched an online community, IdeaHub, where agency employees can submit and collaborate on ideas to drive innovation and change. Once these ideas are refined, they are communicated online to everyone at the agency and to the individual who originally submitted the idea. By doing so, DOT’s leadership demonstrates that communication with employees is taken seriously.

Read Also: Shearin Group Training Services News

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: A Good Host Makes The Best Leader

People could be divided roughly into two groups: guests and hosts.

Many people strive for authority positions because they think it means they’ll in effect be the guest of honor at an endless series of banquets.

But if you’re a leader, you’re not the guest of honor at the party. You’re the host. And there’s a certain mindset that a good host has.

You’ve willingly taken on the role of providing everyone else with the best possible experience. As the host, you realize you won’t make everyone happy. You don’t have the budget or time for that, and you know that you can’t do much about the fact that many people were just born to complain. But you do what you set out to do, with both maturity and passion.

A good host has a certain energy, which every leader should aspire to summon as they begin their day. The good host exudes a warm, inviting spirit that signals, “This is a good and safe place to be. You’re in the right place. We’ve got it under control”

An accomplished host is outward-focused, more likely to compliment you on your outfit than to worry about what you think of his outfit. He takes spilled drinks and faux pas moments in stride. Ultimately, he takes ownership of the evening, but he does so in a way that doesn’t consume or drain him.

The good host exercises authority and power in the ideal way. Here’s why that’s so important for aspiring leaders to keep in mind.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity,” Abraham Lincoln said, “but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

It’s no secret that we’re all drawn to power. Even if we’re too shy or timid to reach for it directly, we still like to get close to someone who does.

So it was inevitable that leadership training would become a multi-billion-dollar entity spanning industry, education and media. The worst experts offer quick formulas guaranteed to increase your power, while the good ones offer wise lessons about what power is to be used for.

A big problem with much of the leadership-training industry is that it plays off people’s vanity. It suggests a couple of things:

  1. In any room, the leader is the most important person.

2 And if you embrace these five or seven or 12 patented tips for leading, you’ll be a hero, everyone will love you, and they’ll only neglect you long enough to build your statue or to swat pigeons from it.

There’s some reality to the first point. The alpha type enjoys enviable rights and prerogatives among many species, including our closest relatives, chimpanzees (who are genetically 98% identical to us).

It turns out the true alpha dog doesn’t just lounge around and enjoy the perks of the title. It has special, difficult obligations to protect the tribe. It faces constant threats of being overtaken by pretenders to the job. And once the alpha type loses such a battle, there’s no such thing as an easy retirement or pension. You’re ostracized.

It’s a lot like being the host of the party, but you’ll be kicked out of your house if the party stinks or if the guests woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Now that’s pressure.

But the true host loses herself or himself in the moment, in the zen of the event itself, with little sense of self. If they take the microphone, it’s to honor someone else, not just to bloviate with some new jokes they heard. The best hosts make them somewhat invisible, so that the party itself is what the guests remember, and their own wonderful interactions there.

I’ve been very influenced by Lao Tzu, the legendary (and perhaps mythical) father of Taoism. To paraphrase one idea, he said that the best leader is the one whom the people barely notice: When his or her work is done, the people say, “This was an amazing thing that we did by ourselves!”

A host facilitates that same sort of experience. The guests don’t leave feeling a sense of debt, they leave feeling richer for having contributed something of value to the evening.

That’s often the opposite of what most management and leadership gurus are trying to tell us, as they sell myths about power and prestige. But the party doesn’t get started unless and until we bring the right approach.

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: 5 ways to build a business intelligence Centre of Excellence

I’m delighted to have been invited to speak at Information Age’s Data Leadership 2014 conference on 30 October. In my session, I’ll be sharing tips for building a BI Centre of Excellence (COE) in an enterprise environment, based upon my experience of constructing and managing IT services at big enterprises for the last 12 years.

I’m currently in the process of helping to construct a data visualisation COE based on Tableau Software at a Tier 1 Investment bank in London.

To give a flavour of what I’ll be speaking about, I’ve identified five areas fundamental to creating a successful Centre of Excellence. But if you have any questions ahead of then, ping me on Twitter.

1. Choose the right tools

There are a ton of tools out there. And a lot of them aren’t that great. Enterprise users are time-poor, under constant pressure to deliver and generally impatient. For the long-term success of any COE, it is fundamental your applications are easy to use, agile and feature rich.

I’ve been trying to achieve the holy grail of a great BI stack for years now, and finally it seems like tools are emerging that allow this vision to be a reality.

When evaluating applications, always look for agility and ease of use. Most of your users won’t have much time to learn the tool; they probably won’t read much of the documentation and also probably won’t have time to attend any training courses.

They’ll want to fire-up the application and dive right in. As a result that experience needs to be great from the off. Then once they’re running with it, can they generate their content or achieve their desired results quickly?

They’ll generally be happy to trade off some of the more advanced functionality for a tool that gives rapid results.

2. Choose the right partners

It’s not just about the application. Is the vendor able to support your vision? Ensure your tool choice is backed up by a company that is dynamic, proactive and truly values its user community.

How does the company conduct itself? Do you as a subject matter expert feel that your opinions matter? If you’ve got an issue can you get it to the people that matter quickly? And will they take notice of you?

With truly great companies, you’ll find yourself getting to know the top brass and support teams. You’ll be participating in industry events and asked to share knowledge with other customers. You might even get an award or two from them.

With the best organisations, you’ll see enhancement requests from user forums making it into new releases regularly. You’ll see offers from them to come to your organisation and help with training, demos and Q&A sessions, and they’ll be constantly interested in how you’re using the tool and the value you’re getting.

Bad companies will just sell you it and then go quiet.

3. Build your service for ease

Your service must deliver on two key fronts. Firstly, it must allow users to express themselves, without smothering them in red tape. Secondly, it must be as easy as possible to support. Making both central to your service construction will give the best possible chance for success.

Big enterprises generally feature a lot of bureaucracy. Users will already be dealing with enough of that on a daily basis and won’t want your service adding to it. It’s critical to be able to deliver a service that gets users onboarded quickly and with little fuss.

Then, once they’re onboard, it’s vital that your service allows them to use the functionality of the tool quickly, easily and with as much flexibility as possible. There’s no point implementing a cool, agile BI tool and then miring your users in process.

That service also needs to be supportable. Chances are your support team will be light on bodies and pretty much flat out the whole time.

To be a true COE, you’ll want your team to be focusing on the good stuff, helping users get the best out of the tool, training people in advanced functionality and focusing on the industry best practice of the subject area.

To do that, you’ll need to have chosen the right infrastructure and technologies and implemented them well, supported with solid but agile IT processes.

4. Don’t sit back and admire

So you’ve got a great service? Don’t sit back and think how great you are.

Your power users will be wanting more and more. It’s vital to have an overall BI vision. How are you going to expand your offerings and deliver even more value to your users?

I’m creating a Tableau COE. That takes care of data analysis. But what about data modelling and management? Data integration and mining? They all form part of the overall BI stack and your users will want that.

Maybe not immediately, but they’ll eventually ask the questions, so to remain in control you’ll need your master plan.

5. Focus on community

Really successful applications and companies are backed by an almost fanatical level of community support. Making the most of this aspect, both internally and externally, can turn a good service into an amazing one.

Creating a great community takes a lot of dedication. Obviously having the right tool and implementing it well is fundamental. It’s a lot easier to foster a culture of appreciation with a tool that users love to work with than with a turkey that makes their lives harder than it should be.

But get it right and you’ll see the benefits. Users will be blogging and discussing the merits of your latest functionality releases, as well as suggesting their own enhancement requests.

Brilliant blogs will spring up, guiding newbies and experts alike on how to get the best out of the tool and much more. This can all be replicated internally as well as externally.

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips for Maximizing your Client Service

Eric P. Bloom: 6 tips on maximizing your staff’s client service

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As a manager, never forget the importance of teaching and emphasizing the importance of client service to your staff.

I was in Washington, D.C., for the second time in three weeks to provide training to a client. On my first trip to Washington, I was able to stay at a Marriot Fairfield Inn right next door to my client’s office. For the second trip, however, I was forced to stay at a hotel about three miles away because there was a convention in town and my hotel of choice was filled.

On the morning of the last day of my second trip, I returned to the Fairfield Inn with luggage in hand. The person behind the registration desk recognized me from my prior stay at the hotel and asked me if I wanted to check it. I told her that not being able to secure a reservation at her hotel because of a local conference, I had stayed a few miles away at a different hotel. I went on to say that I had come to the hotel that morning to ask if they would please check my suitcase for a few hours so I would not have to bring it to my client’s meeting. Being a frequent Marriot client, she happily agreed to provide me assistance and even offered me cup of coffee as I was leaving the hotel. This may seem like a trivial, easy and no cost way to help a customer. Well, it is, but for the customer, it was of great value.

The moral of this story, for managers of all types and professions, is to remember the importance of fostering a culture of customer/client service within your team. Small acts of kindness, common courtesy, and remembering to follow up on client requests are of little or no cost. They also can pay great dividends in the way of client/customer satisfaction, repeat sales, follow-on contracts, and/or top rated performance reviews for you and your team.

As a manager, there are a number of things you can do to help instill a can-do client service attitude within your staff:

  1. Hire people who by their nature are friendly, outgoing, and like to please others.
  2. Be sure that your team members correctly understand their level of authority regarding customer-related interactions. This allows your team to comfortably go the extra mile to help customers without the fear that they have overstepped their authority.
  3. Provide training to assure everyone in your team has the technical ability to perform needed tasks. This will allow them to properly complete the requested assignments.
  4. Provide training in cultural awareness. This protects your team from accidentally insulting customers of different cultures and/or embarrassing themselves in front of others.
  5. Provide training in active listening, conflict resolution and other interpersonal communication skills. These types of skills can dramatically enhance customer experience.
  6. Treat your team with respect, fairness, and professionalism. If your team feels they are treated well, human nature is such that they will naturally be better to the customers they serve.

In closing, I don’t know what type of hiring, training, or employee treatment is being done at the Marriot Fairfield Inn. What I do know is that, from a customer’s perspective, whatever they are doing, they are it doing right.

The primary advice and takeaways from today’s column is to know that:

- It is important to foster a culture of customer/client service within your team.

- Small acts of kindness, common courtesy, and remembering to follow up on client requests are of little or no cost.

- Great customer service pays big dividends in the way of client/customer satisfaction, repeat sales, follow-on contracts, and/or top rated performance reviews for you and your team.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, manage well and continue to build your professional brand.

Eric P. Bloom is the president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC, a management training company specializing in information technology leadership and is the governing organization of the ITMLP and ITMLE certifications. He is also a keynote speaker, nationally syndicated columnist, and author of the books “The CIO’s Guide to Staff Needs, Growth, and Productivity,” “Your IT Career: Get Noticed, Get Promoted, and Build Your Professional Brand” and “52 Great Management Tips.” Contact him at eric@ManagerMechanics.com, follow him on Twitter at @EricPBloom and @MgrMechanics or visit http://www.ManagerMechanics.com.