Vol. 12 No.13 – September 10, 2012

September 8, 2012


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information
for managers, leaders and entrepreneurs

1. Visionary vs. Charismatic Leaders 

Visionary and charismatic leaders may appear similar, but there are some distinct differences that help companies with visionary leaders perform better than those with charismatic leaders, consultant Jesse Lyn Stoner advises.

On her SeapointCenter blog, she says the similarities are that both visionary and charismatic leaders create transformational change within the organization. But for charismatic leaders, the glue that holds everything together is their personality and personal vision, so after they leave the magic disappears. With a visionary leader, the glue is a shared vision that lasts after the leader departs.

“Consider the seamless transition at Southwest Airlines when Herb Kelleher stepped down as president because the vision had been internalized throughout the company,” she observes.

To tell the difference, she suggests asking these questions:

  • Clarity: Do people really understand what the organization is about, and can they explain it to others?
  • Ownership: Are people motivated by a sense of ownership for the vision or just by loyalty?
  • Attention: Are people focused on strategy and how to further the vision or just on implementation?
  • Independence: Do people make strategic decisions on their own or do they wait for direction and permission?
  • Creativity: Do people envision ways to enrich the vision – and what happens when they do?
  • Accountability: Do people tend not to excuse “bad behaviour” by the leader (not accepting justifications that, “after all, the leader is brilliant”)?
  • Decision-making: At critical junctures can individuals anticipate what is needed and make solid decisions?

2. When Will My Ads Work?

When we advertise, we want the promotion to start working immediately. But in his Monday Morning Memo, ad wizard Roy H. Williams sets out factors that suggest it may take time before your advertising — be it for a product, a government program or a non-profit service — connects with an interested user.

A key item to consider is what percentage of the population will be actively in the market for your offering this week.

  • Food has a short purchase cycle, so ads can trigger immediate purchases.
  • Cars have a medium purchase cycle, with North Americans, on average, trading cars every 42 months. That means just half a percent of us, on average, will buy or lease a car in any given week, not promising huge uptake from a specific ad.
  • For some products — HVAC systems, engagement rings, refrigerators, furniture — the product purchase cycle is even longer.

As well, you need to consider what percentage of the population will ever be interested in what you are marketing:

“A high percentage of the public will someday need a refrigerator, furniture, HVAC system replacement and an engagement ring,” he notes, so you want to use your ads to be first in mind when purchase time comes. “But what about fine formal china, such as Royal Doulton at $100 per place setting?”

Finally, consider whether your ad has a credible degree of urgency that might push the purchase decision forward (using a time-limited offer, for example).

3. Five Questions For Performance Reviews

Performance reviews don’t have to be hard — edgy unfocused meetings, with fear on both sides. Eric Jacobson, a former senior vice-president of Penton Media, shares these five questions to get a productive dialogue:

  • What have I done to help — or hinder — your job performance?
  • What can I do in the next review period to help you achieve/improve?
  • What conditions here enable you — or make it hard — to do your best work?
  • What do you want most from your job?
  • How can I help you reach your career goals?

4. What’s Your Management Brand?

Managers all have a unique style and approach that adds up to their management brand, says organizational development practitioner Lisa Haneberg.

In her Management Craft blog, she says one friend manages based on love and another from a place of positive challenge, while a former boss managed from a place of fear, trying to reduce risk and have high oversight.

“When I manage, I tend to come from a place of bringing forth the amazing in others – my brand is that I seek to help people and teams see and use their strengths,” she says.

That may seem abstract. But in fact, it’s quite real. She says your boss and staff know what your brand is — the contribution you have made in the past year, and how you have helped others (or hindered them) in doing their best work. She invites you to think about your management brand, and whether it is what you want to be.

5. Zingers

  • Too much at once?  One reason you may feel overloaded at work is that you start too many tasks without finishing them, according to productivity consultant Craig Jarrow. A few tasks completed is always better than many things begun. (Source: TimeManagementNinja)
  • Email can bloat when in doubt:  Overload can also come, IT consultant Nathan Zeldes notes, when an organization grows beyond the point where people know who needs the information in their emails, so they copy everyone even remotely likely to be involved. (Source: Information Overload)
  • Subject line length:  Email marketing messages with shorter subject lines tend to outperform those with longer lines. Subject lines held to between four to 15 characters were opened 14% of the time, compared to only a 10% open rate for those containing more than 51 characters. Interestingly, the highest click-through rates – the percentage of recipients actually clicking on a link in the email — came for those with subject lines between 16 and 27 characters. (Source: MarketingProfs.com)
  • See through inner conflict:  If you find yourself routinely fighting battles with yourself — conflicted in your mind, say, between making a quick decision and wanting more data — executive coach Janna Rust advises you to stop worrying. It’s simply what she calls a “me vs. me” conflict that is actually beneficial, since it allows you to see things from a variety of perspectives. Embrace your inner conflict as a strength that helps you adapt easier than other folks. (Source: PurposefulPartnerships.com)
  • Legacy condition: In his book on leading Coca-Cola, former CEO Neville Isdell writes: “I do not have a legacy unless my successor is successful.” (Source: Financial Times)

6. Q&A with 8020Info:  The Emergence Of Visuals

Question: We keep hearing the same old stuff… are any new ideas hiding out there?

8020Info Associate Harvey Schachter responds:

The “big, new idea” being discussed in books, blogs, and business magazines these days isn’t really all that new — innovation. It may be a hot topic, and certainly is important, but the same old themes are being raised.

Yet there does seem to be one theme emerging that may be the kind of hidden treasure you are referring to, and worth more of our consideration. It’s the importance of the visual.

Perhaps I’m sensitive to this because I am a verbal guy, and often have trouble decoding visual material. At the same time, those proclaiming the power of the visual seem to ignore people like me. But we all have different methods of taking in information, and some observers, rightly, are starting to highlight the visual, to complement our verbal orthodoxy.

  • Visuals to clarify ideas:  Dan Roan, in The Back Of The Napkin, published in 2008, highlighted the power of visuals in ideation by recalling how Southwest Airlines was first sketched out — literally — on a napkin by lawyer Rollin King to his friend Herb Kelleher at a luncheon. He drew a triangle on the napkin and marked the three edges: Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. It was neat and simple, unlike the spaghetti of lines that depicted the complicated routes of the traditional airlines servicing big centres, and a successful airline was born.“We can use the simplicity and immediacy of pictures to discover and clarify our own ideas, and use those same pictures to clarify our ideas for other people, helping them to discover something new for themselves along the way,” Roan wrote.
  • Visuals in advertising:  We are familiar with visuals in advertising. But marketing consultant Laura Ries helps to make them more understandable in her new eBook Visual Hammer, showing how to hammer the visual and emotional message of your brand into consumers rather than just create interesting, but ultimately irrelevant, visuals unconnected to your brand message. The visual hammer must connect to your brand’s positioning, which is in words and serves as the nail. 
  • Infographics:  We are increasingly running into infographics in the media – graphical storytelling, in which illustrative material and facts are combined to elucidate some topic. In a just-published book, Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling, consultants Jason Lankow, Josh Ritchie and Ross Crooks highlight the importance of this tool for consumers of information and how you can use it beneficially for your organization.By the way, Richard Saul Wurman’s classic Information Anxiety, published in 1989, and 2000 update, InformationAnxiety2, looked more broadly at this kind of material and his books are still relevant.
  • Visuals in meetings:  Instead of the ocean of words that endlessly roll over our days, we can energize our gatherings by adding a visual element. In his book Blah, Blah, Blah, Roan shares a Blah-Blahmeter to help us evaluate how bad our meetings are, on a scale of one to three blahs. Even better, in Visual Meetings he and David Sibbet show how to lace your meetings with visuals that can overcome the blah, blah, blah.
  • Visuals in Presentations:  And yes, there’s also PowerPoint, with much being written on blogs and in books about how to use it effectively.

So think visually. Look around you to try to understand its power to shape your world. Consider how you can inject more visuals into your organization, while sparing some time to think of visual illiterates like me.

7. News From Our Water Cooler: Employee Communications Briefing

Later this month 8020Info Senior Associate Karen Humphreys Blake will be presenting research findings, current leading practices and practical guidelines on Strategic Employee Engagement and Communications. It will cover ways you can enhance formal and informal communications that build on effective human resource management strategies. Here are the details:

When:   September 26th, Noon-1:30pm

Where:  Innovation Park at Queen’s University
                 (Innovation Boardroom “A/B”, beside the front lobby)
                 945 Princess Street, Kingston ON, K7L 3N6

COST:   $15 per person (or $20 for two) to cover the light lunch/refreshments provided.

Given its emphasis on innovation and productivity gains, this session will be of interest to business owners, CEOs, EDs of larger non-profits, and HR and communication leaders.  If you’d like to register for this briefing, just send us an email to reserve your seat: strategy@8020info.com

(When this 8020Info Briefing was first announced this summer, we received many interested enquiries from across the country. We are exploring the possibility of offering a repeat in webinar format later this year to make these finding available to those who cannot travel to Kingston for the event.)


8020Info helps teams develop and implement their strategic plans, stakeholder consultation/research and marketing communications 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

“First things first, second things never.”

— Shirley Conran