Leadership Friday Favs 9.30.11

The Big Seven Stakeholder Management Mistakes (Colin Gautrey on The Influence Blog)

The Lone Ranger management model rode off into the sunset a long, long time ago. Yet many managers still haven’t gotten the word that stakeholdering is a vital element in their leadership success. Stakeholders come in all sizes and places within an organization, and can play a large role in either the success or failure of your venture. Colin offers a most helpful list of seven not-to-do items with communicating and/or partnering with stakeholders.

Build versus Buy: Taking Stock of your Frontline Pipeline (DDI Directions)

A client group is preparing their 2012 business plan. The high level yet thoughtful questions and insights posed in this article were most helpful to them as they thought through how to approach their workforce staffing and development needs. “Identifying and developing emerging leaders requires—and is receiving—a focus from organizations across the world.You have to start by answering the critical question: ‘Do we build or do we buy? Building is identifying and developing existing and emerging leaders from within. Buying is hiring from outside.”

Tom Reads The Little BIG Things (Tom Peters on tompeters!)

Do you work at an organization where the sole focus is on profits/the bottom line, and that singular focus leaves you feeling empty? At Get Your BIG On, we believe magic happens when people feel confident, are engaged and know their employer values their contributions. If you believe in this kind of magic and need a boost, listen in as Tom reads a proposed company credo in the audio version of his The Little BIG Things. Warning: be prepared to swoon with delight and be transported to business as it should be, a place where there is an accountable focus on personal leadership growth, input and opinions do matter and are invited, and where a spotless work record signals not stellar success yet an unwillingness to brave the unknown…woohoo!

The Real Lesson of Moneyball (Wally Bock on Three Star Leadership)

This is a great companion piece to the Tom Peters reading noted above. Wally tells the story of how the Oakland A’s were the first baseball “team to use the statistical analysis tools that find undervalued stocks to find undervalued baseball players.” While using statistical tools must be part of the leadership/business toolkit, it isn’t a guarantee of fool-proof success. As Wally points out, “New ways of doing business and business process innovations are important. They can give you a temporary advantage, but soon your competitors copy what you do and what was once a big advantage becomes table stakes.”

Your Company’s Secret Change Agents (Richard Tanner Pascale and Jerry Sternin, Harvard Business Review)

One thing is for certain: with the “new normal” in business, an effective leader must be on the perpetual lookout for change. The tried and true doesn’t always cut it. One must seek the “sparkling exceptions to the rule” as they’re so aptly defined in this article. The authors outline six fascinating elements for helping a group learn from its own hidden wisdom, thus eliminating the “not-invented-here” bias that typically flows from best practice and benchmarking analysis.

Quote of the week. The Get Your BIG On team is loving on this quote this week: “If you’re interested in misery, 1) always try to look good in front of others; 2) always live in a world of assumptions and treat each assumption as though it’s a reality; 3) relate to every new situation as if it is a small crisis; 4) always live in the future or the past; and 5) occasionally stomp on yourself for being so dumb as to follow the first four rules.” ~W. W. Broadbent


A climate for creativity

Art by Sarah Loft

Stories can teach us powerful lessons about life, love and leadership, and this one, The Little Boy (author unknown),  does just that…

Once a little boy went to school. One day his teacher said; ‘Today we are going to make a picture’.

‘Good!’ Thought the little boy. He liked to make pictures and he could make pictures of all kinds, lions and tigers, chickens and cows, trains and boats. He took out his box of crayons and began to draw.

But the teacher said, ‘Wait! It’s not time to begin!’ And she waited until everyone looked ready. ‘Now.’ said the teacher. ‘We are going to make flowers’.

‘Good’ thought the little boy. He liked to make flowers and began to make beautiful ones with his pink and orange and blue crayons.

But the teacher said ‘Wait, I will show you how’. And it was red with a green stem. ‘There’ said the teacher, ‘now you may begin’.

The little boy looked at the teacher’s. Then he looked at his own flower. He liked his own flower better than the teacher’s but he did not say this. He just turned his paper over and made a flower like the teacher’s. It was red with a green stem.

On another day, when the little boy had opened the door from the outside all by himself. The teacher said ‘Today we are going to make something with clay’.

‘Good!’ thought the little boy. He liked to make snakes and snowmen, elephants and mice, cars and trucks and he began to pull and pinch his ball of clay.

But the teacher said, ‘Wait! It is not time to begin!’ and she waited until everyone looked ready. ‘Now’ said the teacher ‘we are going to make a dish’.

The little boy liked to make dishes. He began to make some that were all shapes and sizes.

But the teacher said,’ Wait!’ ‘I will show you how’ and she showed everyone how to make one deep dish. ‘There’ said the teacher ‘now you may begin’.

The little boy looked at the teacher’s dish and then he looked at his own. He liked his dishes better than the teacher’s but he did not say this. He just rolled his clay into a big ball again and made a dish just like the teacher’s. It was a deep dish and pretty soon the little boy learned to wait and to watch and to make things just like the teacher and pretty soon he didn’t make things of his own any more.

Then it happened, that the little boy and his family moved to another house in another city and the little boy had to go to another school and the very first day he was there the teacher said, ‘Today we are going to make a picture’. ‘Good!’ thought the little boy and he waited for the teacher to tell him what to do but the teacher didn’t say anything she just walked around the room. When she came to the little boy she said, ‘Don’t you want to make a picture?’

‘Yes’ said the little boy.

‘What are you going to make? ‘Said the teacher.

‘I don’t know until you make it’ said the little boy.

‘Why, any way you like’ said the teacher.

‘Any color?’ asked the boy.

‘Any color,’ said the teacher. ‘If everyone makes the same picture and used the same colors how would I know who made what and which was which?’

‘I don’t know,’ said the little boy, and he began to make a red flower with a green stem.


Leadership Friday Favs 7.22.11

The Value of Ritual in Your Workday (Harvard Business Review by @peterbregman)

After encountering three people in the last month who espouse the value of rituals, we revisited this post.  Folks are saying that Western civilization is losing touch with, or perhaps interest in, ritual. We’re so busy being busy that we forget to be mindful. This post advocates adding simple rituals to one’s work day, things like “stopping for a moment and noticing what you’re about to do, what you’ve just done, or both.” There’s nothing woo-woo (we’re not big fans of woo-woo at GYBO) about simply reconnecting with oneself and what’s important. It’s actually pretty rewarding we’re finding out.

Be A Woman of Power (YouTube video, interview: Anita Zucker, CEO, The InterTech Group)

If you are as interested in women in business and power as we are, you’ll enjoy this interview with Anita Zucker, CEO of The InterTech Group, and recently named to the Forbes’ billionaire list.  Jennet Robinson Alterman, Executive Director of The Center for Women, interviews what the Financial Times named as one of the 50 most prominent business women in the world. Mrs. Zucker speaks openly about her life and how she and her husband, Jerry, raised a family and built a global conglomerate together centered by the Hebrew expression “tikkun olam” meaning “repair of the world”.

Moral potency: building the capacity for character based leadership (free ebook by Sean T. Hannah and Bruce Avolio)

Do you ever listen to the news (like the melt-down at Rupert Murdock’s The News Corporation) and wonder where people lost their ability to discern right from wrong? In this is fascinating paper, Hannah and Avolio offer up some answers via a new paradigm they title moral potency and its component elements: moral courage, moral efficacy, and moral ownership. We read this 44-page downloadable ebook cover-to-cover, captivated by the concepts they propose to build ethical leadership. Their work began with the question: why do leaders who know what the right ethical decision or action to take is still fail to action when action is clearly warranted? “…we believe organizations can seek to develop leaders who cannot just determine what is right (i.e., make ethical judgments), but more importantly, step up and do what is right under pressure. This is critical as leaders serve as exemplars for others to emulate and establish the normative tone for their organization.”

Something to noodle: “Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself believe.”  ~Winston Churchill


Surviving and Thriving: 10 Simple Steps To Greater Resiliency, Empowerment, Happiness & Success

Today’s guest post is from Irene Becker, a fascinating woman of power who was the first female CEO of a Canadian steel company now turned author, consultant and speaker. Through her work at Just Coach It, Irene’s passion is to helping people work, communicate and lead smarter and happier.

1. Know and understand what you really want, and use it to build your self-confidence and self-esteem from the inside out. We are socialized to have goals and objectives, and even core beliefs and values that are often not our own. The journey to really HEAR our own voice, tap into our true purpose, get rid of false core beliefs and replace them with our true core beliefs and values is the road to building true potential, success and happiness.

2. Be the promise manager and CEO of your life. Do what you say, come through with the promises you make. Do not make a commitment that you cannot fulfill. Get rid of relationships with toxic people and frenemies who cannot ever really be trusted and whose values do not align with yours.

3. Lead with your Q strengths. Develop the whole brain thinking, emotional intelligence and spiritual strength to optimize your strengths while transforming stressors, changes and challenges into solutions that empower yourself and others.

4. Fail forward. Learn to use failures and challenges to build a positive sense of self. That’s right, practice seeing your failures with new eyes. Eyes that can help you use those failures and challenges to move forward faster, better and with greater confidence.

5. Take your ego out of the equation, stop personalizing. Refocus on your goal, your objective and your values.

6. Cultivate humor and optimism as often as you can. Take time each day for a good laugh. Yes, laugh it up. The research is in, and it is conclusive: laughter not only connects you with others, but it also helps strengthen the immune system and helps you tap into your right brain - your creative, communicative side. Find a way to incorporate humor and laughter into your day.

7. Take ME time - reflective time. One of the most important things you can do is find a window of opportunity each day to have ME time. Time that you spend with yourself, cultivating your relationship with YOURSELF. Me time is time when you need to nurture yourself, feel lovable and do something that helps you recharge, reconfigure and reboot your mind, body and soul.

8. Build constructive discontent - your ability to stay grounded in the head of an argument, and to feel unpleasant feelings and not be held hostage by them. That’s right, you can learn to develop your ability to feel an emotion and not be held hostage by it by learning to step back and ride the wave, by becoming the participant observer and letting the emotion pass by, just watching and refocusing on your true goals and objectives.

9. Stop reacting - start responding. No matter what happens, you have the choice to be the cause or the effect. When you react, you are been the effect; when you respond, you are being the cause. Developing your ability to respond is a learned skill that grows when you develop critical competencies like constructive discontent.

10. Find your happiness set point - your “J” spot (joy spot). Recapture the child and heart, and start to re-discover what really makes you feel happy and fulfilled. Once your survival needs have been met, material acquisitions are terrific, but they cannot and will not create sustainable fulfillment. Only you can work to re-discover what your joy factor - your happiness set point - is by doing things that will help you nurture and sustain your love of self from the inside out.




Leaders: 8 signs it’s time to close the say/do gap

Betsy was credibly confused, yet so wanted to give her boss the benefit of the doubt. In nearly every monthly staff meeting as well as in their infrequent one-on-one sessions, her boss, Florence, assured everyone she valued them as individuals and for their work contribution.

The words sounded so good and were delivered in such a re-assuring tone. Betsy wanted, with all her heart, to believe them. Yet, as much as she was loathe to admit it, it was becoming harder and harder to ignore the small but persistent voice in her head whispering, “Florence says all the right things, but her actions contradict her words.”

Betsy’s concern had gone into hyper-drive earlier in the day when a colleague forwarded an email Florence had sent to the department head in which she detailed her plan for setting up the conference the department head had requested. Not once in the proposed plan did the name  anyone in the three-person department show up. Anyone reading the email could easily conclude that Florence had created the entire plan herself.

I forgot because I was in boss mode

Betsy had lost count of the number of times Florence had passed off content prepared by a direct report as her own. When Betsy or someone else in the department had asked Florence about it, her answer was always that “she had been in boss mode when she wrote the email and forgot to mention other names, but, hey you folks know how much I value you. I tell you all the time.” Betsy just wasn’t sure Florence’s professed care was there anymore, if it had ever been there at all.

A moment of say/do self-reflection

For anyone who manages others, please pause for a minute or two to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Am I certain there’s complete and total alignment between my words, my actions, and my values, each and every single time I speak and/or act?
  • Do I sometimes parse my words and behaviors to be politically expedient?
  • Has anyone on my team, a peer, or my boss challenged me for behaving differently than I spoke?
  • If I have been called out, did I deny their claim? Offer an excuse? Valiantly accept their censure?
  • Do I regularly call out people on my team when there’s a disconnect between what they say and what they do?
  • Have I ever questioned my own boss about a real or perceived say/do gap on their behalf?
  • Do I hang around with leaders who are known for their upstanding character or those who are comfortable talking about reducing expenses over lunch at the most expensive restaurant in town?
  • Am I known for being credible? Sleazy? A straight shooter? Or one who bends in the breeze?

As Bill George writes in True North,

Leadership is not exerting power over others or exhorting them to follow you. Rather, it results from your example of empowering others to step up and lead. Leaders do that by learning to lead themselves, becoming self-aware and behaving authentically.

As leaders, we’re often rewarded for being doers; so it’s occasionally good to hit the personal pause button and re-assess.


Why can’t leaders play?

Hubby and I have a difference of opinion. What’s fascinating this time around is that we’re endorsing the opposite of what people who know us would expect.    Note: the content of this post has its roots in politics yet is NOT about politics!

Hubby says it’s inane for the President to complete his NCAA brackets because he has more important things to do.

I say it’s perfectly appropriate for the President to have done his NCAA basketball brackets because of all the important things he has to do.  (And I’m the workaholic in this relationship, and must confess that it took years for me to get to this point of view.)

Must leaders be all work and no play? Is it unprofessional to have fun? I’d love to hear what you have to say!


Jack and the Magic Beanstalk

Today’s guest post is from Amy Diederich, my Get Your BIG On business partner and inspiring dear friend. In this new chapter of her life, Amy is devoted to helping entrepreneurs, driving innovation and making a positive difference. You can find Amy here on Twitter as @StartYourOwnBig.

Recently I was one of a “select group” to be invited to attend a webinar on starting your own business. I received a barrage of emails about the magic steps to success. I was intrigued and stayed tuned in until it came time to buy. The cost of the webinar? $1495.00. Why did I not enroll? Not because of the price but because of the promises. The webinar stated if I followed the steps I would get rich quick! This was a giant red flag for me.

Jack & the Beanstalk

I know from starting my own business that there is not one magic bean that will grow the giant beanstalk or one magic step to entrepreneurial success. It takes work! You will notice I did not say hard work. The one thing I learned from my dad and had drilled into my head from early on is “What will make you successful is doing what you love with those who you love”. 

I say almost the same thing to my three kids but I say it a bit differently. I say:

Success is doing what you love with those that you love.

I work long hours but I love it! I am always thinking about my business because it is my passion. I am blessed to be in a business that helps other people.


Next week at Get Your BIG On we’re featuring a class offered by Tara Alemany (@eandtsmon) and Rick Schwartz (@SalesAddiction) from Power Build Your Biz.  Tapping into their corporate and entrepreneurial expertise, Tara and Rick have created a three-part class.  It’s called Getting a Rush from Followup and is perfect for small business owners looking to take their results and performance to the next level.

In their class, Tara and Rick talk about the joy of building your business and use an analogy to working out.  To build your business and see results, you get up every day, you work out and you repeat this process day after day. Those of us who love our workout routines (both for our businesses and for our health) know this is the only way:  keeping doing over and over what you love.

So when you get those ads promising you the magic bean that will grow the magic beanstalk — be wary! They may have information that helps, but unless you find your true passion…work will be hard work!

My steps for success are do what you love and learn all you can to be the best you can!


For Sale: Permanent Residence Inside the Comfort Zone

Do you place certain papers in a certain spot on your desk or travel to work via the same route every day? Do you have a favorite coffee mug? A food you eat when you seek comfort (gooey mac and cheese here!)?

Most of us have these preferred routines and/or objects for a reason.  They’re familiar. They’re comfortable.  They make us feel safe. But sometimes that comfort can become confining—with or without us being aware that we’ve created boundaries we rarely stretch or step across.

If we’re to grow, we must propel ourselves beyond the borders of our comfort zone. Tim Butler, psychotherapist, director of Career Development at Harvard Business School and author of Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths,  points out that:

Failure to get unstuck can put careers, personal life goals, and the healthy functioning of work teams or organizations at risk.

If propelling past the borders of our comfort zones seems too hard a task to tackle, here are some “rocket fuel” thoughts and actions to start those comfort zone engines moving:

 Once a week, do something that isn’t “you.” 

Eat sushi. Sign up for dance or karate lessons. Wear orange or polka dots. Walk, or sing, in the rain. Make a cold call. Attend a networking event. Read and comment on a blog.  Sleep in or get up extra early.

What’s important is exploring and experimenting. Without new influences and experiences, a comfort zone can become a self-imposed prison.

 Don’t let a month slip by without learning something new. Big or small, that’s up to you.

Listen to classical music or the Black Eyed Peas. Listen to a book as you drive to work or the market. Listen to a TED presentation. Take a webinar. Look up the meaning of an unfamiliar word and use it in a conversation that very same day. Learn a new software. Try out a new craft or sport. 

Art by Tad Wagner

Expand all our muscles:  physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Let go of and/or toss out one thing every quarter. Each person gets to choose if the thing is an object, a feeling, a practice or whatever their personal baggage might be.

That sweater that hasn’t been worn since high school – give it to a charity. That slighted feeling you’re carrying  around because Betty or Bob ignored you – write it down on a piece of paper, tie that paper to a helium-filled balloon and let it sail away, out of your head, heart and life. Those beliefs you’re carved in personal granite about how things must always be done – grab your chisel, and start carving away. That dress or shirt or tie you’ve been saving for a special event – declare today a special day and wear it.

Be perpetually open to learning, doing and being!

What’s your favorite way to blast outside your comfort zone?


Tap into Your Creativity

“My boss always wants the impossible,” sighed Trudi to her colleague over a coffee. “I’ll never pull this one off.”

“What’s that?” asked Tom.

“She says I have to be more creative in my work if I’m ever going to be promoted.  I guess I better start looking for a job because there isn’t a creative bone in my body!”

How we think about being creative

Trudi isn’t alone thinking that being creative is out of her grasp.  Many adults equate creativity with the arts – composing music, painting pictures, writing poetry, etc.  However, creativity has much broader application than just the arts. Creativity was cited as the single most important leadership quality for success in a study of 1500 CEO’s completed by IBM in 2010.

In Human Motivation, Robert E. Franken defines creativity as 

…the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.

In short, seeing and connecting things in a new way.

In workshops, I hand out a piece of paper filled with 30 separate one-inch diameter circles.  I ask participants to turn as many circles as possible into objects, things like a smiley face or the sun, in five minutes. It’s rare for someone to transform all 30 circles into objects.  A more typical completion rate ranges from 5 to 15 circles. 

A creativity study conducted by George Land, a general systems scientist, helps to explain the low circle transformation rate. Dr. Land’s results show that we’re naturally creative as children yet learn to be uncreative as we age.

1,600 children were first tested at age 5 and scored a 98% for creativity. Those same children were tested at age 10 and scored 30%; and when tested again at age 15, they scored just 12%.  When adults were given the same test, they scored only 2%.

Creative thinking is not a talent; it is a skill that can be learned. ~Edward de Bono

To boost “creativity quotient” and see and connect things in a new way, try:


A study done by Mark Beeman, a neuroscientist at Northwestern University, revealed that shifting the brain into an open, playful state lowers the brain’s threshold for spotting isolated connections which allows people to decipher puzzles more effectively.

I used to keep a basket of small toys on the conference table in my office for people to play with during meetings (and they did some laying claim to a particular toy!).

Shake things up

Trying a new routine alters stuck brain patterns, creating the possibility of new associations.  Jimi Hendrix played guitars made for right-handed people by playing them upside down. Just holding a guitar upside down forced his brain to creat new patterns. 

One day my team was brainstorming how to solve a tough business problem and was getting nowhere. I moved the meeting outside under a big tree and soon the solution was apparent!

Change your perspective

Thomas Edison invited prospective new hires to lunch. He watched to see if people salted their food before or after tasting it. Those who salted their food prior to tasting it weren’t hired. 

It’s the classic  if you think like a hammer, everything looks like a nail scenario.  Many rules, practices and procedures outlive their usefulness and choke off creative thinking.  People who challenge their assumptions and relook at a situation often discover new solutions.

GYBO angle: it’s possible to tap into that creative spark we enjoyed as children and boost our “creativity quotient” – we just have to make the effort to do so!

Leadership and the Power of Storytelling

Today’s guest post is by Roni Wilson-Vinson, a Training Consultant, Instructional Designer and Training Project Manager who saw the power of storytelling back in 2003.  Since then, she’s presented this topic at national conferences, at Fortune 100 companies, for government agencies, in higher education institutions, for non-profits and through elearning. Her personal story includes a BA from Wright State University, a 25 year marriage, 2 busy teenagers, 2 dogs and a love for creating stained glass.

Remember in elementary school when you had to write your first report? Usually those early life reports were a few sentences filled with facts along with a couple of pictures you cut from your mom’s magazines.

Have you been asked to write a report for work? Again, your report probably was composed of a number of facts, some big words or acronyms and a few charts thrown in for good measure.

We’ve been taught in both school and business that we should be logical and that facts should drive our decision-making process. What we aren’t taught is that facts alone just don’t work

Brain Science, Meaning and Memory

The working memory area of our brain can hold only seven (plus or minus two) bits of information!

To hang on to this information, we must consciously decide whether or not to make a permanent record of it. Every time we’re presented with new information, the previous information can be pushed out. The only way to remember these facts is to make them mean something to us.

If we’re presented with fact after fact, our minds can tire easily from trying to decide for ourselves if the facts have meaning and/or if we should make them permanent. After a while we start to tune out – not because we want to – but because we can’t quickly find the meaning of the facts.

However, there is a way to jump-start thinking and help your audience process your facts a little easier.  That way is by telling a story.

Benefits of Storytelling

John Kotter, author and professor at the Harvard Business School, writes:

I see that too few business leaders grasp the idea that stories can have a profound effect on people. The gestures made (or not made) by leaders can turn into the stories that powerfully affect behavior. Leaders who understand this and use this knowledge to help make their organizations great are the ones we admire and wish others would emulate. Those in leadership positions who fail to grasp or use the power of stories risk failure for their companies and for themselves.

Stories have been used since the beginning of time to pass important information from generation to generation. Stories can do so many things: 

  • make the complex simple
  • organize data so that it can be processed
  • convey and communicate information and data
  • introduce a new concept in a non-threatening manner
  • inspire and present a new or different point of view
  • reduce tension and anxiety
  • help change behaviors
  • provide entertainment
  • create rapport and engage your audience

Once you understand what a powerful tool stories can be, you’ll never look at a presentation the same again. And THAT is no tall tale.