Vol. 10, No. 8 – June 7, 2010

June 7, 2010


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information
for managers, leaders and entrepreneurs

1. Try 12 Strategies For Leadership Success

Claude H. Rhea Jr. was a dean of a music school and president of a college. His daughter, author Margaret McSweeney, shares these 12 strategies for leadership success he exemplified:

  • Creed: Create a mission statement for your life and job. Each project you undertake should fall under your belief system’s tenets.
  • Heed: Surround yourself with people who can provide insight and wisdom, allowing you to understand all sides of an issue before making key decisions.
  • Read: Rhea was a voracious reader, learning one new word a day.
  • Knead: Work hard. “Success doesn’t just happen. You must roll up your sleeves to roll in the proverbial dough,” McSweeney writes on MichaelHyatt.com
  • Feed: Even as a college president, Rhea invited new students and faculty to their home, cooking for them. It was a sign of his servant mentality, and belief that problems could be resolved and goals discussed over a full stomach.
  • Seed: Invest in other people’s lives either intellectually or financially.
  • Weed: Yank negativity by the roots and banish it from your organization and home. Every morning, her dad would announce: “Something good is going to happen to you today.”
  • Speed: Be quick with compliments and always respond in a timely manner to phone calls and correspondence.
  • Greed: Avoid greed. Share your success with others.
  • Deed: Treat others the way you want to be treated.
  • Exceed: Go beyond expectations.
  • Need: Identify a real need in your community or the world and do something about it.

2. Mentoring Summer Interns

Many workplaces host summer interns, drawn from university, community college, or high school. In Inc.’s Small Business newsletter, Carroll Lachnit, executive editor of the HR magazine Workforce Management, says that even if you have a hands-off management style, when you bring in interns you have to make sure they have at least one point person, if not more, who they can approach with questions. “It’s really wrong to strand an intern without someone who’s invested in what they’re doing for the time that they’re there with you,” she notes.

It’s also vital you make a proper time commitment to training and advising that intern. And that probably means far more time than you contemplate. Gagan Biyani, co-founder of StartupRoots, a non-profit that matches smart college students with up and coming companies, says his staff spends, at the very least, 10 hours a week providing guidance to each intern.

Lachnit estimates that between 20 and 30 per cent of the mentor’s time will be taken up with actively teaching the intern — and it might even be more in industries with highly specialized skill sets.

However, don’t consider it wasted time. Biyani says it can be an opportunity to gain fresh perspectives about your work and organization by getting close to someone with a new set of eyes.

3. Use Reframing To Improve Sales

With three small changes, you can improve your sales success, writer Geoffrey James notes on BNET.com, after a conversation with sales expert Mike Bosworth:

  • Describe what you’re selling as a “verb” rather than a “noun.” That sounds confusing, but suppose you’re selling for an industrial glue manufacturer. If you think that your job is to sell “glue” (a noun), you’ll talk to the customer about product features. If you think your job is to sell “gluing” (a verb), you will tend to uncover your customer’s gluing needs.
  • Think about selling as helping the customer rather than making a sale. Eliminate from your mental vocabulary the standard ways of describing sales, such as “convincing,” “persuading,” and “overcoming.”
  • Consider a sales call successful even when you don’t make a sale. Make it clear — first in your own head and then directly to the customer — that you’re willing to leave if you can’t actually help the customer.

4. Strategy As Love, Not War

Strategy is often conceived of as warfare, as you try to overcome your competitors. But MIT Sloan School professor Arnoldo Hax, a well-known strategy expert and one of the authors of the book The Delta Project, says that’s a mistake. Instead of putting your competitor at the centre of your thinking, you need to focus on your customer.

When you fixate on the competition, the tendency is to imitate. But when you put the customer at the center, you will try to separate from the pack, differentiating yourself from competitors, in order to satisfy customer needs. “Instead of strategy as war, the Delta Model tells you to think about strategy as love,” he told MITSloan Management Review.

5. Zingers

  • When she became CEO of The Calvert Group investment firm, Barbara J. Krumsiek asked each member of her management team about their job, specifically asking: Tell me about what you think you do here that is not in your job description that you think is really critical. “Wow, did I learn a lot about them, and it was very informative in shaping the team,” she declares. (Source: The New York Times)
  • When you lean forward in a sales call, you’re pitching. The customers note it, says sales consultant Jill Konrath, and start erecting a barrier. So don’t lean forward. (Source: RainToday.com)
  • Your camera captures the image at the same moment your flash goes off. Consultant Kevin Eikenberry says when you have a flash of brilliance, you must also capture it immediately, by writing it down. Otherwise the idea could be lost forever. (Source: Kevin’s Remarkable Learning Blog)
  • If you’re holding a workshop, don’t take the first five minutes to distribute materials. The beginning and ending of any such event are the two most important moments, so don’t blow the opening by something as lacklustre as handing out stuff. (Source: Open Loops blog)
  • When a customer says, “I’ll never buy from you again,” what he or she means is “I won’t buy until my situation or your story changes materially.” Marketing advisor Seth Godin says the only thing shorter than “never” is “always.” (Source: Seth’s Blog)

6. Q&A with 8020Info:
Fielding Tough Questions

Question: I have to field questions at a town hall meeting where media will be present — any tips on how to prepare?

8020Info President and CEO Rob Wood replies:

Years ago, when briefing a cabinet minister going into Question Periods every week, I learned that virtually all questions you can be asked fall into just a few categories: Are you aware of…? What will you do about…? How will you…? Why would you…? When will you…? Most other questions are just variations, so this structure helps focus your preparation.

In our consulting practice, we have found clients achieve better results in “hot seat” sessions by following these tips:

  • Know your key message, and get it out.
  • Make sure it’s short, crisp and memorable — easy to remember and easy to pass along.
  • Focus on words or short phrases with impact (e.g. “death tax”, “where’s the beef?”).
  • Anticipate how to segue from answering questions to pitching your core theme (e.g. Another important aspect of that question is… That’s important, but a more important factor is… )
  • In advance, figure out your answers to the difficult questions you fear most. Even if there’s no “good” answer, you will deliver it much more effectively in terms of look, tone and clarity.
  • Go with your own authentic answers rather than stumble through someone else’s more polished words (unless you can make them your own).
  • Watch out for questions that imbed an antagonistic assumption — e.g. “Why would you support this project when you know that [disastrous impact] will occur?” Point out the unfair assumption if it’s clearly out of line, or simply recap the question without it. Then provide your answer.
  • Speak to a delicate, specific question at a more general level. (For example: “that question about your group’s funding is part of the larger issue of non-profit sustainability…” ). But when responding at the higher level, be careful not to evade the question completely.
  • Don’t forget the emotional content of your delivery. Do you sound rattled, defensive and evasive? Or calm, clear and collected? Tone has a great effect.

And remember that those who are really good at handling tough town hall meetings have usually had lots of practice. Good luck!

7. News From Our Water Cooler:
Be A River, Not A Reservoir

“Be a river, not a reservoir.” We heard this great phrase from Pastor Mark Kotchapaw and it seems to apply to so much of our change-related work. Reservoirs are stagnant, tainted with accumulations from the past. Rivers are dynamic, cleansing and powerful. When you embrace change, it means getting into the flow, going with the river.

There are many ways to tap into the flow of change. We see it when strategic planning clients reach out to consult with stakeholders. We hear it in one-on-one interviews and small group discussions when participants comment on those “forks in the road” where their organizations are stuck. We feel it in the two-way communications and the passionate, memorable phrases submitted as part of online feedback from staff or community partners.

So what will your team be — a reservoir or river?

8020Info helps teams develop, communicate and implement their marketing communications, research and strategic plans more effectively. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries at (613) 542-8020, or by email at watercooler@8020info.com.

8. Closing Thought                                                                 Top

“I cannot give you a formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody.”

— Mark Twain