Monday, December 21, 2009

RockStarLeader Guest Post #4: String Cheese, Dave Grohl, and Rock Star Leadership

The fourth guest post I've done for the RockStarLeader blog starts with an interview Foo Fighter front-man, Dave Grohl, did for the 12/14/2009 issue of Time magazine, passes through the category of “You Don’t Know What You Know until You Know What You Know,” and ends with looking at what Rock Star Leaders know about leadership that most “lousy” leaders do not:
  1. A Rock Star Leader knows the importance of GETTING “IN FRONT OF” MEETINGS – It’s no surprise that meetings are some of the absolute worst places to get things done! That’s why RSLs (Rock Star Leaders) work to have key conversations, with key players, in advance of ‘formal’ meetings on the topic. Doing so dramatically improves their views being properly heard, understood, and incorporated into the decision-making process. That’s how “influence” happens.
  2. A Rock Star Leader knows the importance of KNOWING HOW TO MOP-UP QUICKLY – Obviously, delegation is an essential leadership skill. But even more important is knowing how to clean-up quickly, efficiently, and satisfactorily, should something you delegate go wrong. So whenever RSLs delegate, you can be sure that they spend at least a few moments considering ...
(...continued at

Want to know more about how leaders excel at leadership? Visit
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

What's Really Being Shredded?

So there's this company called LifeLock that offers identity and personal information protection for a flat monthly fee. You may even remember their television ad from a while back where they pasted its CEO's Social Security number on the screen? By the way, their web site now includes (I've circled it in red, above) an asterisk: "Never share your social security number unnecessarily." (Okay, so apparently, advertising IS necessary! (See yesterday's Accenture piece for more on that.)

But LifeLock now has an even more puzzling full-page newspaper ad that says:

Enroll Today and Receive a FREE Shredder!

Okay, someone explain this to me: Why would a company that guarantees you against identity theft be offering something that you wouldn't need after signing up as an enrollment incentive?!

Don't get me wrong, shredders are good things. But, in this context, isn't that like offering a free steak dinner to anyone who becomes a vegetarian?! Isn't that like offering you free cat litter for as long as you own your dog?! I guess you could give the shredder away to a loved one, but you'd think LifeLock would rather you give them a subscription to their service instead, no?!

Mixed messages, like these, are a pet peeve of mine -- like the TV ads that basically say, "If you're stupid like the people in this TV commercial, then our product is perfect for you!" Argh!

So, too, are mixed messages in the workplace -- especially in the leadership space:
  • Like a boss who who gigs people for tardiness but takes long lunches and sneaks out early himself
  • Like a boss who insists on work/life balance but expects a timely reply to her Sunday afternoon emails
  • Like a boss who stresses professionalism, but says, "Do as I say, not as I do"
  • Like a boss who encourages you to do better but won't say what's specifically needed to bring your performance up to the next level

The only thing that these things "shred" is your leadership reputation. So take a moment to consider what mixed messages might YOU be sending -- not just in your company's advertising campaign, but in your own leadership style, as well. Protect your Leadership Identity.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

GGCI's Executive Coaching Flow

Recently created this diagram to help explain what I do when a company hires me as an executive coach for some leadership development work. Thought it'd make sense to post it for a wider GottaGettaCoach!, Inc. (GGCI) audience to see, as well, so here it is:

GottaGettaCoach! Executive Coaching Flow Feel free to call (847-291-9735) or email ( to discuss.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dissent and Other Keys to Success

Even in the worst of times, Bad Management causes dissension. In "Developing Managers for Team-Driven Success" (Baseline Magazine, November 2009) William Moskal identified several examples of bad management behavior:
  • Micromanagement: "Decisions are imposed, not delegated."
  • Communication gaps: "Goals, strategies, expectations and timelines are not shared. Feedback is withheld."
  • Inconsistency: "Abrupt reversals, deadline changes and frequent new priorities." (Although in fairness to everyone, that's really become fairly typical in many (most?) organizations, hasn't it?!)
  • Intimidation: "A disproportionate focus on discipline, not coaching, including public criticism and rudeness."
  • Self-promotion: "Opportunities are not shared, and credit is hoarded."
  • Lack of mentoring: "Managers are not groomed for advancement. Cross-training is not encouraged and access to upper management is restricted."

"The reassuring news," says Moskal, "is that managers who unwittingly build barriers can also remove them." (Yes, when it comes to professional development, sometimes you actually can teach old dogs new tricks!) His solution: "Senior executives should take a wide-angle look to identify opportunities to empower and motivate front-line managers, while avoiding corrective approaches that stigmatize and single out individuals."

Okay. Anyway, he also had an excellent approach to helping managers improve their engagement, strategic analysis skills, and conflict management capabilities:

Have each executive establish - and rotate - an "official dissent" role among his/her direct reports.

Per Moskal, "Sanctioned opposition can be a powerful tool for collaborative decision-making, analytic skill-building and improved outcomes." I agree. It 'permissions' the quiet ones to speak up. It encourages those who always play 'devil's advocate' to stretch beyond just that.

(Hmm, dissenting with the official dissenter is tantamount to agreeing with the original idea, is it not?! And agreeing with the dissenter is, well, agreeing! Watch out you devil's advocates out there, this official dissent thing could rock your world! )

Having an official dissent role in your organization might unlock some truly superb ideas. And in these worst of times, superb ideas are exactly what's needed, are they not?!

Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

RockStarLeader Guest Post #2: Rock Star Leadership in the Key of … “See”

My newest guest post at the Rock Star Leader blog was published today. Titled, Rock Star Leadership In the Key of … “See”, it looks at what music can really teach a leader about how to be a Rock Star Leader:
"So can music really teach a leader how to be a Rock Star Leader?!
"Well, let’s see what M-U-S-I-C has to offer:
  • "M reminds us to always strive to Motivate Others. As a Rock Star Leader, it’s not just about helping others to raise their game when it’s convenient, or when you feel like it. It’s about ever-being the role model, the one others look up to, and the one who doesn’t just play the (Leadership) music, but someone who understands the (Leadership) music – and can explain it to others in increasingly powerfully engaging and relevant ways.

  • “U” suggests we always Utilize our Resources. A Rock Star Leader knows who’s good at what, who likes doing what, and how to those very skillful (and willful) people to stop what they’re working on, and willingly do what the Rock Star Leader needs done.
(...continued at

Image Source:

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

RockStarLeader Guest Post #1: Why Dogs Don't Enjoy Music

Creative marketeer, Tom Schulte, recently started - "the intersection of music and influence" - and asked if I'd do some guest blogging for the site.

My first post was published today. It's called, Why Dogs Don't Enjoy Music. Bascially, it's a riff on how leaders might not be as strong at communicating with their staff as they may think ... and what can be done about it.
"Subtlety is often considered a more “refined” form of communication. The problem with subtle communications, though, is that they ask the listener — they require the listener — to be much more discerning when listening. And depending on circumstances, that could be asking a LOT from someone.

"Too much, perhaps.

"Indeed, expecting someone to give you their full and Undivided Attention could be far more than they’re ready for — or capable of — in this busy, distracted, juggling priorities, go-go, world of ours."
To read the entire piece, link on over to Why Dogs Don't Enjoy Music.

And while there, see what else is going on at

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Monday, November 2, 2009

ManagementSushi Guest Post #1: Management Sushi, Johnny Appleseed Style

Management SushiLong-time marketeer, brand expert, and SME business strategist, Bernie Ritchie, over at, asked if I'd write an article for her blog. So I did!

The post, titled, Management Excellence, Johnny Appleseed Style, talks about a boss' responsibility to plant and cultivate motivational Growth Seeds.

"Growth Seeds are those special insights we share with others when we have their undivided attention. They are what inspire continued learning and growth. They are what enable greater creativity, motivation, and decisiveness. They are what help make good things happen for people that might not happen otherwise.
"So how does a manager effectively plant and nurture motivational Growth Seeds, if so inclined? The acronym "S-E-E-D-S" suggests a number of ways of doing exactly that."
To read more about motivational growth S-E-E-D-S, link on over to Management Excellence, Johnny Appleseed Style.
And while there, see what else Bernie's got going on at

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Monday, October 19, 2009

4qtr2009 Not Just Talk! Newsletter Now Available

The 4qtr2009 Not Just Talk! quarterly newsletter from Barry Zweibel and GottaGettaCoach!, Inc. is now available and ready for viewing at


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Monday, September 21, 2009

Unsolicted Thank Yous

I've written several times before about the importance of Unsolicited Updates, including:

This, then, is a variation on the theme, called Unsolicited Thank Yous. It works like this:

Taking the time you thank someone - again - especially when they're not expecting it, builds good will ... and increasing loyalty.


  • "Thanks, again, for the head's-up on [that issue] the other day. It really helped me do so much better at the budget review meeting."
  • "Thanks, again, for forwarding me that magazine article on [that topic]. The statistics it quoted came in handy that very afternoon!"
  • 'Thanks, again, for facilitating that meeting with [you know who]. I don't think it would have been nearly as fruitful if you hadn't."

Get the idea?!

  • "Thanks, again, for sitting in for me at [that meeting]. I was able to get so much done with my door closed and no one knowing I was in my office the whole time!"
  • "Thanks, again, for handling [that mess] the way you did. Everyone seemed pleased with how it turned out."
  • "Thanks, again, for coaching Tony on [his screw-up]. He seems to understand what went wrong so much better now."

Of course your thanks has to be authentic and real. And they have to 'speak to' the situation at hand. The key is to share how pleased you truly were by the effort.

That's about the giving of Unsolicited Thank Yous, but did you know you can help solicit them, too?

  • "So how did I do with [that gnarly problem] the other day, boss? Did I handle it well?!"
  • "So what did you think of [that crisp, one-page, memo] I drafted for you? Did it save you any time?!"
  • "So with all the things we've done for [your company], haven't we gotten anything right?!"

Try it - from both ends - and see.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

New Leadership Moves for You

As a leader, it's hard not to feel like you're feet are stuck in the mud sometimes. Or worse, yet ... in quicksand. In many ways, leadership is about finding good choices when there are seemingly none to choose from. A multi-tined Morton's Fork, if you will. That's one of the reasons why it's so important for executives to be so vigilant about their continued professional development -- each new problem you're assigned is likely increasingly complex and pressure-packed as compared to the last 'impossible' task you were given.

That's why keeping your staff properly motivated, productive, and engaged is so essential to your own ongoing success -- you simply don't have to time to be an ineffective leader. It's an unsustainable position to hold. And once you start losing traction, you might as well stick old Morton's fork in it because you're, d-o-n-e, finished.

But many executives sometimes do struggle with knowing what to say, or how to say it to their staff. And that's why I created an email learning series called Leadership Moves. Here's the logic:

  • Since the more you think about how to be more effective as a leader, the more likely it is that you will actually become a more effective leader, Leadership Moves automatically sends you a new and different email lesson every 2-3 days SO THAT you CAN think about how to be more effective as a leader more consistently.

  • Since there really ARE a lot of subtleties in (capital L) Leadership, Leadership Moves is a compilation of 32 different leadership "moves" SO THAT you can develop a full picture of the real breadth and depth of (capital L) Leadership effectiveness.

  • Since aspiring (capital L) Leaders really ARE busy people, Leadership Moves is delivered to your email inbox in small, digestible pieces, each one taking only a few minutes to read SO THAT you actually CAN, and more importantly, actually WILL read them, and learn from them.
If this sounds like something that may be of interest to you, please visit to learn more.

(And save 15% all this month by using coupon code 50819C when ordering.)

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Levels of Delegation

Some great content from over at, by Alan Chapman:

These examples of different delegation levels progressively offer, encourage and enable more delegated freedom. Level 1 is the lowest level of delegated freedom (basically none). Level 10 is the highest level typically (and rarely) found in organisations:

Level 1 - "Wait to be told." or "Do exactly what I say." or "Follow these instructions precisely."

This is instruction. There is no delegated freedom at all.

Level 2 - "Look into this and tell me the situation. I'll decide."

This is asking for investigation and analysis but no recommendation. The person delegating retains responsibility for assessing options prior to making the decision.

Level 3 - "Look into this and tell me the situation. We'll decide together."

This is has a subtle important difference to the above. This level of delegation encourages and enables the analysis and decision to be a shared process, which can be very helpful in coaching and development.

Level 4 - "Tell me the situation and what help you need from me in assessing and handling it. Then we'll decide."

This is opens the possibility of greater freedom for analysis and decision-making, subject to both people agreeing this is appropriate. Again, this level is helpful in growing and defining coaching and development relationships.

Level 5 - "Give me your analysis of the situation (reasons, options, pros and cons) and recommendation. I'll let you know whether you can go ahead."

Asks for analysis and recommendation, but you will check the thinking before deciding.

Level 6 - "Decide and let me know your decision, and wait for my go-ahead before proceeding."

The other person is trusted to assess the situation and options and is probably competent enough to decide and implement too, but for reasons of task importance, or competence, or perhaps externally changing factors, the boss prefers to keep control of timing. This level of delegation can be frustrating for people if used too often or for too long, and in any event the reason for keeping people waiting, after they've inevitably invested time and effort, needs to be explained.

Level 7 - "Decide and let me know your decision, then go ahead unless I say not to."

Now the other person begins to control the action. The subtle increase in responsibility saves time. The default is now positive rather than negative. This is a very liberating change in delegated freedom, and incidentally one that can also be used very effectively when seeking responsibility from above or elsewhere in an organisation, especially one which is strangled by indecision and bureaucracy. For example, "Here is my analysis and recommendation; I will proceed unless you tell me otherwise by (date)."

Level 8 - "Decide and take action - let me know what you did (and what happened)."

This delegation level, as with each increase up the scale, saves even more time. This level of delegation also enables a degree of follow-up by the manager as to the effectiveness of the delegated responsibility, which is necessary when people are being managed from a greater distance, or more 'hands-off'. The level also allows and invites positive feedback by the manager, which is helpful in coaching and development of course.

Level 9 - "Decide and take action. You need not check back with me."

The most freedom that you can give to another person when you still need to retain responsibility for the activity. A high level of confidence is necessary, and you would normally assess the quality of the activity after the event according to overall results, potentially weeks or months later. Feedback and review remain helpful and important, although the relationship is more likely one of mentoring, rather than coaching per se.

Level 10 - "Decide where action needs to be taken and manage the situation accordingly. It's your area of responsibility now."

The most freedom that you can give to the other person, and not generally used without formal change of a person's job role. It's the delegation of a strategic responsibility. This gives the other person responsibility for defining what changes projects, tasks, analysis and decisions are necessary for the management of a particular area of responsibility, as well as the task or project or change itself, and how the initiative or change is to be implemented and measured, etc. This amounts to delegating part of your job - not just a task or project. You'd use this utmost level of delegation (for example) when developing a successor, or as part of an intentional and agreed plan to devolve some of your job accountability in a formal sense.

Thanks, Alan.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Risk Tolerance and Reality

Financial Advisers talk about Risk Tolerance -- the amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should your investments trend in the wrong direction. But Risk Tolerance applies to more than just Wall Street dynamics.

Consider where you stand with respect to:
  • Career/Job Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should your employer choose to restructure or eliminate your current position.
  • Leadership Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with as the boss of those facing current, impending, or recently-experienced Job Risk.
  • Interpersonal Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should an important relationship of yours hit a rough patch.
  • Self-Confidence Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should these or other things at work or in life not go as planned.
  • Self-Esteem Risk Tolerance -- The amount of uncertainty you're willing to cope with should your self-confidence dissipate and work/life continue to trend in the wrong direction.

The underlying question here differentiates between PLANNING for potential realities...and dealing with ACTUALITIES.

So what do we do when we find ourselves needing to cope with more risk than we would typically tolerate?

When financial advisers talk about money-matters, many (most?) suggest that we not 'change horses in the middle of the stream' but rather establish, and then stick with, an allocation strategy or plan that's properly aligned with our overall Risk Tolerance level. That, they say, will serve us BEST in the long-run.

Yet isn't it true that airplanes never actually fly in a straight line from here to there but, instead, must make a series of continuous, albeit minor, adjustments along the way to properly correct for the realities of what's going on in the skies around them?

Planning for Reality is important. But effectively handling Reality is more so. Is it not? (This reminds me of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs -- self-actualization may be the ultimate goal, but if you aren't getting your basic needs met, it's sort of irrelevant.)

So how ARE you handling the REALITY of your work and personal lives these days --not just your financial reality,but your entire reality?

  • If you're struggling some, what might you do to bolster yourself and your situation?
  • If you're not, how might you help someone who is?

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Proof that Coaching Works

It's one thing to have beliefs about the positive impact of coaching. It's something quite different when your beliefs can be substantiated as fact through independent, peer-reviewed, methodologically-valid research with meaningful, and statistically-significant, findings.

Consider, for example, the following research studies and findings:

Grant, Frith, & Burton (2009) – Randomized Controlled Trial* (RCT) evaluating executives provided with 360-degree feedback and just four coaching sessions for over a ten week period proved that:
  • Coaching enhanced goal attainment
  • Coaching enhanced resilience
  • Coaching enhanced workplace well-being
  • Coaching reduced depression
  • Coaching reduced stress
  • Coaching helped participants deal with organizational change

Spence, Cavanagh, & Grant (2008) – RCT evaluating adults taking part in mindfulness-based health coaching over eight weeks proved that:

  • Coaching enabled greater goal attainment than using an educative/directive format

Spence & Grant (2007) – RCT of adults participating in a Solution Focused/Cognitive Behavioral (SF/CB) life coaching program (not unlike the type of coaching that GottaGettaCoach! provides) proved that:

  • Professional coaching was significantly more effective than peer coaching in increasing goal commitment
  • Professional coaching was significantly more effective than peer coaching in goal attainment
  • Professional coaching was significantly more effective than peer coaching in environmental mastery

Green, Oades & Grant (2006) – RCT of adults taking part in SF/CB life coaching program proved that:

  • Coaching increased goal attainment
  • Coaching increased well-being
  • Coaching increased hope
  • and that a 30-week follow-up found that those gains were maintained

Gyllensten & Palmer (2005) – Quasi-Experimental Field Study** of participants from a UK finance organization concluded that:

  • Coaching decreased anxiety more in the coaching group than the control group
  • Coaching decreased stress more in the coaching group than in the control group
More research findings at:

Of course individual results can, and do, vary. But this is bona fide academic research cited here, not just opinion or conjecture.

Coaching does work – it's been proven!

Source: Grant, A.M. (2009) Workplace, Executive and Life Coaching: An Annotated Bibliography from the Behavioural Science and Business Literature (May 2009), Coaching Psychology Unit, University of Sydney, Australia.

* Randomized Controlled Trial: RCTs are quantitative, comparative, controlled experiments in which investigators study two or more interventions in a series of individuals who receive them in random order. The RCT is one of the simplest and most powerful tools in clinical research. (

** Quasi-Experiment Field Study is a scientific research method primarily used in the social sciences. "Quasi" means likeness or resembling, so therefore quasi-experiments share characteristics of true experiments which seek interventions or treatments. The key difference in this empirical approach is the lack of random assignment. Another unique element often involved in this experimentation method is use of time series analysis: interrupted and non-interrupted. Experiments designed in this manner are referred to as having quasi-experimental design.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Leaders as Effective Explainers

From an article titled, Great Communicators Are Great Explainers:

Explanation is a key attribute of leadership communications. Leaders know to inject their communications with verve and enthusiasm as a means of persuasion, but they also need to include an explanation for the excitement. What does it mean and why are we doing it are critical questions that every leader must answer with straightforward explanations.
Author John Baldoni continues with three ways to become an effective explainer:

1. Define what it is. The purpose of an explanation is to describe the issue, the initiative, or the problem. For example, if you are pushing for cost reductions, explain why they are necessary and what they will entail. Put the cost reductions into the context of business operations. Be certain to explicate the benefits. [BZ note: Don't overlook defining the underlying rationale, or "why", behind your explanation -- it not only helps others to properly understand what you're saying, it also provides a over-arching context for how you see the issue. So don't just explain that there is a need for cost reductions, explain why the need is legitimate before going on to your solution, next steps, explanation, etc.]

2. Define what it isn't. Be clear to define the exclusions. For example, returning to our cost reduction issue, if you are asking for reductions in costs, not people, be explicit. Otherwise employees will assume they are being axed. Leave no room for assumptions. [BZ note: I particularly like this one. Just as with contracts, it's best to read them twice -- the first time to see what's intentionally (or otherwise) included in the terms and conditions; the second time to see what's intentionally (or otherwise) excluded.]

3. Define what you want people to do. This becomes an opportunity to issue the call for action. Establishing expectations is critical. Cost reductions mean employees will have to do more with less; explain what that will entail in clear and precise terms. Leaders can also use the expectations step as a challenge for people to think and do differently. Your explanation then takes on broader significance. [BZ Note: Those who know me know that I'm not a big fan of using the word expectations -- I much prefer the word requirements. So, while 'establishing expectations may, indeed, be critical, I believe that 'articulating the requirements' is more appropriate ... and even more helpful.]

This said, I'd like to add a fourth facet to the recommendation:

4. Listen for how your explanation lands. Effective Communication can be defined as "Insuring that the message you intended to be heard is identical to the message that actually was heard." As such, it's advisable to "check in" with your audience to insure that your explanation was, indeed, understood as intended and if not, respond accordingly.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to Reprimand Someone at Work

  1. Say it clearly -- "I'm finding the way you're handling this assignment unsatisfactory at this point in time."
  2. Provide the justification -- "As a result of you missing your Phase I deadline, everyone downstream must now revise their schedules to accommodate the delay."
  3. Articulate the implication -- "This not only unnecessarily complicates things, but it also jeopardizes our ability to complete this project on time/to budget."
  4. Pair it with some good news -- "Fortunately, you're working with some very talented people who are ready, willing, and able to help you however they can."
  5. Ask for compliance -- "So in this next phase, can I - can we all - count on you to step it up and not leave us hanging like this?"
  6. Thank you.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

GGCI now on Twitter

Follow Barry Zweibel(ggci) on Twitter

Might you enjoy some shorter, more informal, blog posts? Barry Zweibel ("ggci") is now on Twitter.

Come see what the micro-blogging fuss is about as I explore "the spaces between the moments" of business in general, change management, favorite quotations, fear and courageousness, getting unstuck, job search stuff, just for fun, leadership development, life coach - life coahcing, mentoring, motivation, music and music related, networking, success at work ... and who knows what else -- in chunks of 140 characters or less.

I'll be at Followers welcome!

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Lessons for Leaders in Chinese!

"Lessons for Leaders", an article I was interviewed for in Insight Magazine, was recently compiled by a Chinese news service:

中金在线 - China
公司总裁泽维贝尔(Barry Zweibel)说,“这也完全是他的份内之事。但是他不能激励这里的员工,不能让公司的投资者支持他的变革计划,这就导致了他在家得宝领导地位的终结 ...
I get a kick out of the way that looks!

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Expert In" AND a "Student Of"

Just read a very interesting post by Andrew Bryant in which he talks about the importance of Intentional Practice:

"Intentional Practice is perfect practice and perfect practice makes perfect. Intentional practice requires knowing “Why” you are doing what you are doing and complete “Attention” to the task."
It reminded me of the value of striving to be BOTH, "expert in" and a "student of".

Perhaps some examples would help:
  • An Attorney can be both expert in intellectual property law and a student of litigation.
  • An Architect can be both expert in residential housing and a student of eco-responsible design.
  • A Musician can be both expert in music theory and a student of creative expressionism.
  • An Executive can be both expert in getting things done and a student of leadership.
  • A Life Coach can be both expert in asking the right questions and a student of the human condition.

Indeed, embracing the "mind of a student" often helps the Expert get past the ego-imposed limitations of not wanting to look foolish from, or be embarrassed by, not already know everything there is to know about their particular area of expertise.

Students continue to learn and grow as a matter of course. Experts, similarly, continue know and do with incredible skill.

Striving to be BOTH "expert in" AND a "student of" may take a fair amount of Intentional Practice, but it's most definitely a worthy goal.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

The Art of Leadership

Dwight D. Eisenhower: "Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it."

Runner courtesy of:

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Friday, April 17, 2009

"Leadership Moves" Email Learning Series

If you subscribe to the GGCI Mailing List you might have seen in the March 2009 blog digest that I'm putting the final touches on a 32-part email-based learning series called:

Leadership Moves ...
Superbly Motivating Direct Reports, Every Day, Every Way

The idea behind the program is this:

In order to become truly effective, leaders must be able to interact with staff -- that is, to "move" -- flexibly and consistently, responsively and proactively, powerfully and respectfully.

If you can't do that, you can never become a (capital L) Leader. Period.
End of story.

But, because aspiring (capital L) Leaders are typically so busy, they rarely make the time to actually think through how to actually become a better leader. They just "go from their gut", "wing it", "shoot from the hip". No real plan. No real learning.

No real progress.

That's why Leadership Moves was designed the way that it was -- as an email-based learning series. Here's the logic:

  • Since the more you think about how to be more effective as a leader, the more likely it is that you will actually become a more effective leader, Leadership Moves automatically sends you a new and different email lesson every 2-3 days SO THAT you CAN think about how to be more effective as a leader more consistently.

  • Since there really ARE a lot of subtleties in (capital L) Leadership, Leadership Moves is a compilation of 32 different leadership "moves" SO THAT you can develop a full picture of the real breadth and depth of (capital L) Leadership effectiveness.

  • Since aspiring (capital L) Leaders really ARE busy people, Leadership Moves is delivered to your email inbox in small, digestible pieces, each one taking only a few minutes to read SO THAT you actually CAN, and more importantly, actually WILL read them, and learn from them.

Consider the Leadership Moves program as your very own "virtual mentor," sharing with you what works, what doesn't, why it's essential for (capital L) Leaders to keep certain things top-of-mind. and providing you wherewithal to do just that.

If this sounds like something that would be of use to you, you can learn more, or subscribe, at: And, if you're one of the first 50 to order your subscription -- and use coupon code 3019Z --you'll receive a 20% discount on your purchase.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

GGCI Executive Coaching Survey Results

Results from the first-ever GGCI Executive Coaching Client Survey are in. Here are some highlights from GottaGettaCoach! client responses received:

GottaGettaCoach! Client SatisfactionTo the question: "Overall, how satisfied are you with the coaching received?"

  • 92% of respondents chose “very satisfied”
  • 8% chose “satisfied”
  • no other responses selected.

Regarding Leadership Competency Improvements, respondents cited:

  • A 55.9% improvement in "working with and through other people"
  • A 47.6% improvement in "the clarity of your leadership message or brand"
  • A 47.49% improvement in "accurately judging yourself and adapting your behaviors accordingly"
  • A 45.4% improvement in "your ability to delegate"
  • Additional leadership competency improvements reported

In answer to the question: "What do you estimate the Return on Investment (ROI) of the coaching you received to be?"

ROI of working with GottaGettaCoach!

  • 21% of all respondents chose "worth more than $5 for every dollar spent" as their answer
  • the average ROI from all other respondents equaled $2.64 for every dollar spent.

For more GGCI Executive Coaching Survey results:

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Commitment versus Compliance

Over at LinkedIn, a fellow named Jesse posed an interesting question: "How do you get commitment from followers?"

My response:

I think an important distinction needs to be added to this thread -- "Commitment" versus "Compliance".

You already know that in a crisis management situation (your blog indicates you're a crisis management "tiger") success has very *little* to do with a follower "agreeing to do something" (commitment) -- but EVERYTHING to do him/her actually "fulfilling official requirements" (compliance).

I, therefore, submit that if a leader successfully resolves enough crises (through others' complying with their specific, meaningful, and appropriate, "official", requests), followers will almost *automatically* become increasingly loyal and committed to that leader. (Which really just means that these followers will more-readily comply with what the leader requests from them, next time.)

Non-crisis situations, if such things still exist (!!), work in much the same way -- success flows *less* from people being "committed" to achieving certain ends than from them intentionally "complying" with what, needs to be achieved. Again, if a leader successfully enables enough of those needed outcomes to occur, followers will routinely start exhibiting more loyalty and commitment to that leader (by complying that much more readily to their requests, moving forward).

Just for laughs, let's put it even more provocatively -- I assert that compliance (and all the good, value-added, stuff that employees can, and do, bring to an assignment) does not result *from* commitment; rather, commitment is a byproduct *of* compliance … after that compliance results in the successful completion of intended outcomes, of course.

Following this view, leaders do not need to seek the "commitment" of others -- they just need to get crystal clear on the business imperative of their assignments, what probably needs to be accomplished, and who probably needs to accomplish it, in order to increase the probability of actually achieving those ends … because if they
*can* increase the probability of achieving those ends, followers will naturally, readily, and increasingly -- and self-servingly, I might add -- commit to those leaders in the future, without additional inducement.

Helpful?!What are your thoughts on this?

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Growing More Go-To People

When something particularly urgent, important, or high-profile comes up, many (most?) bosses rely only on a few of their direct reports as true go-to people - the one's they know they can count on to get the job done right.

Imagine, though, what it'd be like if you could count on your entire staff as go-to people? Imagine what all you could get done if that was the case!

Here are the rules of the game:
  1. Identify the overlap between what each direct report likes to do and what s/he is good at doing -- the veritable "sweet spot".
  2. Talk with each of them about the importance of nurturing and growing their "sweet spot" as a routine, ongoing, and necessary part of their job.
  3. For any task-at-hand, guesstimate its "success probability", if delegated to each of your direct reports, using a simple High/Medium/Low rating. (Note: If you've completed step #1, this should take all of 90-seconds!)
  4. Delegate to an H only if you have more than one to choose from. Otherwise, choose an M or L, making sure they understand that the assignment is twofold: (1) to successfully complete the task-at-hand; and (2) to permanently expand their "sweet spot".
  5. Monitor progress to minimize any "gotchas".

You see, the real problem is not your staff's abilities -- it's your willingness to insure that they grow their abilities.

This go-to game makes that apparent because the game does not allow you to delegate an assignment to an H if you only have one to choose from. It's, therefore, incumbent upon YOU to nurture and grow your go-to people more purposefully than you might otherwise.

What this game also makes apparent is that it's not all that difficult to "frame" an assignment in terms of an individual's sweet spot, regardless of who that individual is. That's a very powerful competency to have.

If you stick with it, you'll soon have far more options, when delegating, than just a chosen few. And that's the whole point.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

16 Supervisor Competencies of Note

16 Supervisor Competencies* of note that apply, equally, to assistant managers, managers, directors, senior directors, vice presidents, senior vice presidents, executives and all leaders, for that matter, as well:

  1. Influence – Persuading others to accept a desired point of view; gaining support and commitment from others; and effectively change in behavior of others
  2. Facilitation – Leading meetings or group efforts without directing the outcome; creating an environment of openness and trust; and leading groups to decisions where all participants feel a sense of ownership
  3. Planning and Organizing – Developing comprehensive project plans; monitoring progress against goals; assigning clear responsibilities; and breaking work down into manageable portions
  4. Analysis – Gathering relevant information; considering broad range of issues and factors; perceiving relationships among diverse information; and using logic effectively
  5. Decision Making – Making timely and effective decisions
  6. Delegating – Assigning tasks effectively to others while maintaining responsibility for results; considering skill-level of employees and challenge-level of assignments given
  7. Follow-up and Commitment – Following plans through to closure; persisting despite obstacles; keeping their word
  8. Communication – Insuring that the messages that they intend to have received by others are the same as the ones that actually are received
  9. Listening – Demonstrating attention to, and conveying understanding of, others
  10. Managing Conflict – Identifying sources of conflict; using conflict as a constructive process to exchange ideas; keeping energy focused on desired outcomes, rather than on what they feel is happening “to” them
  11. Fostering Teamwork – Clarifying roles and responsibilities with an eye beyond whatever crisis is driving current behaviors
  12. Technical/Functional Expertise - Possesses current knowledge of profession and industry and is regarded as an expert
  13. Time Management – Setting efficient work priorities; working on several tasks simultaneously; effectively balancing important and urgent – and short-term and longer-term – tasks
  14. Motivating Others – Encouraging others to achieve desired results; creating enthusiasm and commitment in others
  15. Coaching and Developing Others – Giving timely, specific, constructive feedback; and providing challenging, developmental assignments
  16. Providing Direction – Providing clear direction and sets clear priorities; fosters a common vision
from "New Supervisor Training" by John E. Jones, and Chris W. Chen

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Super-Serve Your Sphere of Influence

As reported in today's Chicago Tribune, ESPN will, starting in April, "launch its first Web site devoted to local sports fans." While this may be excellent news for sports fans here in the Chicagoland area, that's not what prompted this post. Rather it was how Marc Horine, vice president with ESPN digital media, spoke about it:

"At its core, the mission is simple: to super-serve Chicago sports fans."
To "super-serve" -- that's what appealed to me, particularly how it applies to leadership and being a better leader.

Recall a prior GottaGettaBLOG! post about an executive's sphere of influence and ...
  • Consider how you, as a leader, might "super-serve" Up the Chain (your boss, Board, and key stakeholders).
  • Consider how you, as a leader, might "super-serve" Employees (your direct reports, their direct reports, and other personnel).
  • Consider how you, as a leader, might "super-serve" External Contacts (customers, vendors, and other outside partners).
  • Consider how you, as a leader, might "super-serve" Co-Workers (peers, team members, other internal contacts).

Consider what you might do differently -- read: better -- if you approached your leadership responsibilities from the "super-serve" perspective ... not just as a servant leader, but as a SUPER-servant leader.

What might it look like if you tried that on today?

  • What might you say differently?
  • What might you ask differently?
  • What might you do differently?
  • How might you listen differently?
  • Who else might you talk with?
  • Where else would you spend your time?
  • What else would you think about?
  • What else would you likely learn or be interested about?

Similarly, what might it look like if others in your sphere of influence tried that on today?

  • What might they say differently?
  • What might they ask differently?
  • What might they do differently?
  • How might they listen differently?
  • Who else might they talk with?
  • Where else would they spend their time?
  • What else would they think about?
  • What else would they likely learn or be interested about?

Super-serving doesn't really take all that much extra time or effort. It's more about where you're "coming from" with the things you already think, feel, say, and do. If you "come from" a respectful place, it's easier to be all-the-more respectful. If you "come from" an inquisitive place, it's easier to be all-the-more inquisitive, etc.

So, too, if you "come from" a judgmental place, it's easier to be all-the-more judgmental. But that's not really super-serving anyone, now, is it?!

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Friday, January 30, 2009

For New (and More Experienced) Leaders (Alike)

  1. Accept the possibility that everything you think you know about leadership just may be wrong.
  2. Have an undying curiosity to validate #1 again and again and again.
  3. Treat everyone you deal with, regardless of position, status or station, with unyielding respect and regard.


Monday, January 26, 2009

"Fall Down Five Times; Get up Six"

A Haiku by Barry Zweibel:
    How could I miss THAT?!
      Things soooo not going as planned.
        Resilience is key!

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    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    Simple Checklists Work!

    checklistBased on a Special Article published by the New England Journal of Medicine and reported on by Harvard Science:

    "A group of hospitals in eight cities around the globe has successfully demonstrated that the use of a simple surgical checklist during major operations can lower the incidence of deaths and complications by more than one-third."

    If using simple checklists can help reduce surgical deaths and complications by more than a third, is there any credible justification to NOT use checklists in the work that you and your staff do?!

    Sometimes effective leadership is simply about insuring that proven solutions are consistently implemented.

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    Tuesday, January 6, 2009

    Developing Your Leadership Development Plan

    Welcome to 2009. Here's wishing it's the best one yet for you - at work and in life! From a work standpoint, what's developing with respect to your leadership development efforts? What are your plans with respect to what I like to call the five Key Domains of Leadership?
    GottaGettaCoach! Key Leadership Domains
    Key Leadership Domain #1 - Managing UP the Chain. Establishing and maintaining - and growing - your relationship with your boss and others above you in the organization, is an essential component of being properly recognized (and rewarded) for your results. Too, it helps determine how much of your boss' value-added flows back down to you. That said, take a moment to list out 3-5 new things you can try to meaningfully improve how you manage UP the chain and commit to putting at least one of them in play this week.

    Key Leadership Domain #2 - Managing DOWN the Chain. Effectively leading A-caliber players is one thing, but more likely than not, your leadership success will ultimately be determined by how you lead your B- and C-caliber staff. Getting people to consistently over-achieve is a definite leadership competency. That said, take a moment to list out 3-5 new things you can try to meaningfully improve how you manage DOWN the chain and commit to putting at least one of them in play this week.

    Key Leadership Domain #3 - Managing ACROSS the Chain. Leading without formal authority is another essential competency in business. Without an ability to influence your peers and get them to willingly follow your lead, you significantly limit your organizational impact. That said, take a moment to list out 3-5 new things you can try to meaningfully improve how you manage ACROSS the chain and commit to putting at least one of them in play this week.

    Key Leadership Domain #4 - Managing OUTSIDE the Chain. Vendor personnel, contract employees, consultants, industry contacts and connections ... valuable resources, all. That said, take a moment to list out 3-5 new things you can try to meaningfully improve how you manage OUTSIDE the chain and commit to putting at least one of them in play this week.

    Key Leadership Domain #5 - Managing YOURSELF. Although isolated here for simplicity sake, your ability to make meaningful improvements in any of the aforementioned domains is contingent upon your ability to manage yourself ... and the gap between your self-perceptions and how others - up, down, across, and outside the chain - perceive you. That said, take a moment to list out 3-5 new things you can meaningfully try to improve how you manage YOURSELF and commit to putting at least one of them in play this week.

    Effective leadership development best happens when it's more than just an ad hoc effort. Taking a few moments you take here, in January, to develop your leadership development plan will likely yield considerably better results than by just winging it.

    So what are some things you're likely to list out - and focus on - this year? Who can you encourage to work on this exercise, as well?

    (For more on the five Key Leadership Domains, see:

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    Monday, December 22, 2008

    BNET syndicates article by Barry Zweibel

    BNET quotes Barry Zweibel, MBA, MCC, GottaGettaCoach!
    Just learned that BNET has picked up and syndicated an article I wrote and had published a while back. Here's the link: Find Articles - A Strategic Coach, Training & Development, Apr 2005, by Zweibel, Barry.

    I'm particularly pleased by this as I've wanted to be noticed by BNET, dubbed as "The go-to place for management", for quite some time now.

    Nice way to end the year, dont' you think?!

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    Friday, December 19, 2008

    Out-Loud Leadership

    Effective leadership is about pointing others toward success. It's also about pointing out - out loud - when others are already moving in that direction.

    Case in Point: While reviewing a rather content-rich spreadsheet with the employee who created it, his boss stopped mid-sentence to turn to the employee and say,

    "This is really very good work, you know. Thank you."

    What a great leadership moment! In less than 10 seconds, the executive had recognized the value of the work that had been completed to date, spoke out loud to that value, and took the time to recognize the employee for having been the one to contribute that value.

    Was it necessary? No. But was it beneficial? Absolutely!

    I know this because of what happened next: The employee smiled, sat up a little straighter and engaged even more thoroughly in the conversation the two of them were having. He was clearly delighted in having impressed the boss.

    Kudos to the executive for pointing out - and saying out loud - what she had been thinking. Clearly, it had a positive impact ... and will likely continue to inspire that employee far longer than it took to say what was said.

    Nicely done. Very nicely done.

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    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Regular Staff Meetings Make Sense

    What is the purpose of a boss holding regularly-scheduled staff meetings? Many-fold:
    1. To insure that employees know what their coworkers are working on ...
    2. To leverage any synergies that may/can exist with respect to that work ...
    3. To build camaraderie between/among team members ...
    4. To enourage greater teamwork ...
    5. To provide the boss with value-added insight and suggestions ...
    6. To disseminate key company information and strategy amongst team members ...
    7. To clarify priorities and alert everyone to "hot" topics ...
    8. To share "new information" on a pending or newly identified issue ...
    9. To recognize superior effort and results ...
    10. To keep the lines of communication open ...
    11. To enjoy a good laugh or two (or three) ...

    Why else?

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    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Common Sense Office Politics

    "Political skills in the workplace can determine one’s ability to perform at a high level, foster camaraderie and ultimately, be the difference-maker between a successful company and failing one." So writes Dr. William Moskal, in the December 2008 issue of Baseline magazine.

    What follows are his his top 10 "common-sense management principles that can harness political energy to foster successful teams" [along with my comments in green]:

    1. If you've seen one relationship, you've seen one relationship. To achieve success, you must know what motivates people and apply that intelligence to guide them toward achieving a common objective. [And remember, just because something works particularly well for one person or group of persons does NOT mean it will automatically work well with others. Each person, regardless of the role s/he happens to be playing at any particular point in time, is a unique individual.]
    2. Without structure, there is no freedom. Without structure, anarchy reigns. People need rules about how to interact within a team in order to create responsibility and accountability. [Think jazz improvisation - total freedom "within a pre-determined, formalized structure." See my "Management as Jazz" post for more on this.]
    3. People panic in herds and recover one by one. Recall the last meeting at which employees were notified of organizational change. Likely, there were nervous glances, discreet whispers. After the meeting, employees gathered for conversations where rumors spread. [Don't assume that just one speech, meeting, presentation, or conversation will be enough. Socialize your issues - early and often. Hang out by the copy machine or where your floor's mail is delivered; chat-it-up while waiting for the elevator; purposefully take a few extra trips to Starbucks to talk with informal opinion-leaders; plug into the grapevine; etc. A well-timed conversation - even one of the shortest duration - can have amazing restorative powers.]
    4. There are no obstacles; there are only possibilities. Lead by example and maintain a positive, encouraging attitude. [Sure, it may sound a bit trite and hackneyed, but it's still smart.]
    5. The Platinum Rule: Treat others the way they would like to be treated. [A tip-of-the-hat to Tony Alessandra who coined the term.]
    6. When you jerk the socks on the clothesline, the underwear jumps. Consider consequences, assume accountability and be very clear when communicating an action’s potential impact. [Okay, so I might have used another analogy, but not anticipating Unintended Consequences has ruined many an initiative - and short-stopped many an executive's career.]
    7. Reward and recognize good behavior. Reward and distinguish the teams first and the stars second. [And reward stars for their ability to raise everyone else's level of performance, even more than any individual contribution they happened to make themselves.]
    8. If you own it, you take care of it. [I'm not such a fan of saying that a leader 'owns' his/her team, but the 'take care of it' part is rock-solid advice.]
    9. Trust requires predictability and provision of benefit. Employees need to know how they will benefit if goals are achieved and to understand the consequences if results fall short. [But don't get trapped by "The Dangerous Allure of Trust".]
    10. It’s about people, not politics. [Office politics are neither good, nor bad - they just are. If you have trouble with this concept, consider the word 'politics' to simply mean the process by which communications flow within organization. Thus, playing politics is just another way of saying that you're trying to communicate with your coworkers as effectively as possible. That some are more 'unsavory' about this than most is by and large irrelevant.]

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    Monday, November 24, 2008

    Three Leadership Styles

    Three Leadership Styles

    Let me suggest that while there are three main leadership styles: Control, Optimization, and Possibility, only the latter, Possibility, enables the true upside of effective leadership.

    Leadership by Control Leadership by Control is the classic top-down model. The idea -- as represented by a boss' Circle of Impact with arrows pointing inward -- is that only a small part of what a boss is responsible for can really be controlled. But, results in that smaller area tends to be excellent. Rarely game-changing in nature, though.

    Leadership by OptimizationLeadership by Optimization is the process of working to the edges -- to insure that as much is "done right" as possible -- but no farther. Eliminating waste, streamlining processes, etc. most certainly have their value, but Leadership by Optimization is more of a managerial style than a leadership approach.

    Leadership by Possibility Leadership by Possibility is about expanding one's Circle of Impact beyond its current limits. It's about empowering your staff, engaging your peers, and challenging stakeholders to think bigger, act more decisively, and achieve more. While sometimes messy, it's the leadership style with the greatest upside.

    So, as a percentage of time, how much of the time would you say you spend in Control mode? Optimization mode? Possibility mode? What would help you spend even more time as a leader of Possibility?

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    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Productivity, Leadership, and Motivation

    fork in the road
    Question: Do you have any tips on being more productive during the day?

    • "Learn to say no. A computer runs at its slowest when it has too many operations open at once. The same applies to our own production." - Greg Reid

    • "Divorce yourself of the idea that long hours and accomplishments are connected." - Vic Johnson

    Question: Any advice on how I can be a better leader?

    • "Be a person who can be counted on." - Cynthia Kersey

    Question: How can I keep myself constantly motivated and on track?

    • "The biggest problems people have in achieving goals is that they often try to make too many drastic changes all at once. Research indicates that when people are asked to make big, sweeping changes in their lives all at once, they get overwhelmed, become discouraged and commonly give up. The most effective way to create lasting change is to focus on one area at a time. Even the busiest person can find the time to take a single step." - CK
    Source: Success Magazine's 1on1: Getting the Most of Your Time (August/September 2008)

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    Friday, November 14, 2008

    Platitudes & Attitudes

    T. Boone Pickens
    Some observations from Texas billionaire, T. Boone Pickens ...


    "Sometimes the window of opportunity is open only briefly... be willing to make decisions. That's the most important quality in a good leader. Don't fall victim to what I call the ready-aim-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome. You must be willing to fire."


    "Information is everything. You can never have enough, and as you get older you find that keeping current keeps you in the game."


    "It's all right to get your fingers crushed in the door, but don't let the same door crush them twice."


    "Far too many executives have become more concerned with the four P's -- Pay, Perks, Power, and Prestige -- rather than making profits for shareholders."


    "What I am always looking for is people who can do a job better than I can."


    "Work eight hours and sleep eight hours, and make sure they are not the same eight hours."


    "Give young people a chance."


    "A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan."
    Source: Success Magazine (November 2008)

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    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    When to NOT use Email

    From BNET's At The Whiteboard: "Only 7 percent of what we say is conveyed through words -- tone and visual cues make up the other 93 percent. This is why emails are so often misunderstood. Ed Muzio of Group Harmonics suggests using email only when you should: to convey facts and data, and when no emotion or sensitive issues are involved."


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    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    Dogs, Music, and Improving Communications

    singing dog "Anyone with normal hearing can distinguish between the musical tones of a scale: do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. We take this ability for granted, but among most mammals the feat is unparallelled."

    So reports Sandy Fritz in the October 2008 issue of Scientific American Mind, to the dismay of barking Labradors, woofing bassets, and yelping Yorkies, everywhere.

    Yet a recently-concluded study by researchers at UCLA, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Weizmann Institute of Science, concluded that "humans can easily detect frequencies as fine as one twelfth of an octave -- a half step in musical terminology. Dogs can only discriminate resolutions of one third of an octave."

    What's the inference from a leadership development standpoint? Well, the flippant answer might be that the people who say they don't understand you ... are dogs! But a more respectful analysis might conclude that your message is, at times, a bit too subtle (or convoluted?) for them to make sense of.

    Granted, this conclusion has less to do with hearing than understanding, but if you stay with me a longer, I think it will be worth your while.

    Subtlety is often considered a more "refined" form of communication. The problem with subtle communications, though, is that they ask the listener -- they require the listener -- to be much more discerning when listening. And depending on circumstances, that could be asking a LOT from someone. Too much, perhaps.

    Indeed, expecting someone to give you their full and Undivided Attention could be far more than they're ready for, or capable of, in this busy, distracted, juggling priorities, go-go, world of ours.

    So what if we purposefully avoided such splitting of dog hairs when we're sharing our content with others? What if we focused, instead, on talking more clearly and crisply (and in larger octave steps, perhaps?) so that everyone -- even those with lesser abilities to listen so carefully -- could completely understand what we're talking about anyway?

    What would that sound like, I wonder?

    Hopefully, this isn't too subtle a point to be making. Hopefully, it will encourage (and help) you to communicate more effectively than you might otherwise.

    And, hopefully, that will be music to your listeners' ears.

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    Monday, November 10, 2008

    Zig Ziglar's Success Habits

    1. Be a constant learner. Seek out information that you can learn and teach to others.
    2. Encourage others and help them get what they want.
    3. Express gratitude. "Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions," Ziglar says. "The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for."
    4. Recognize the value of relationships and their role in creating balanced success.
    5. Be consistent in your words and actions. "When you make a promise, keep it."

    Source: Success Magazine's Lessons from the Top (October 2008)

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    Friday, October 31, 2008

    Conflict Dynamic Profile for Individuals

    GottaGettaCoach! has just started working with a new assessment called the CDP-I, or Conflict Dynamics Profile® for Individuals.

    The CDP-I is now available through GottaGettaCoach!, Inc.

    "The Conflict Dynamics Profile (CDP) was developed by the Leadership Development Institute at Eckerd College to prevent harmful conflict in the workplace. It provides managers and employees with a greater awareness of how they respond when faced with conflict so that they can improve on those behaviors causing the most problems.

    "The CDP's focus on conflict behaviors, rather than styles, emphasizes an action-oriented approach which lessens the problems associated with harmful or unproductive forms of conflict and results in more effective conflict management skills.

    "As a psychometrically sound instrument, the CDP shows solid evidence of reliability and validity and has been normed against a variety of organizations. Easily completed in 20-25 minutes, the CDP comes with a thorough Development Guide offering practical tips and strategies for strengthening conflict management skills."

    More specifically, the CDP-I assessment:

    1. Identifies your Constructive Responses, that is, how well you demonstrate the following desirable behaviors during a conflict
    2. Identifies your Destructive Responses, that is, how well you control the following undesirable behaviors during a conflict
    3. Identifies your Hot Buttons, that is, what tends to frustrate or irritate you about how others behave.

    So why is this even important? Because once you are more fully aware of your automatic "reactions" to a conflict, the better you will be able to more effectively self-manage your "responses" to that conflict and properly de-escalate it.

    If you're interested in the CDP-I, please drop me a line and we'll assess your conflict behavior together.

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    Friday, October 24, 2008

    How to Have More Courage at Work

    From our friends at BNET, here's a six-minute podcast on how to have more courage at work:

    (direct download)

    Description: "Courage isn't something most managers think about instilling in their employees. But management consultant Bill Treasurer says it’s vital to business success. Resistance to change and taking chances can hurt morale, productivity and profits. In this podcast, Treasurer explains how to inspire workers to move beyond their comfort zones and embrace risk. Treasurer is author of Courage Goes to Work: How to Build Backbones, Boost Performance and Get Results."

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    Monday, September 15, 2008

    What Makes Great Leaders Great?

    Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin wrote in Parade magazine yesterday (9/14/2008) about what makes great Presidents great. Let's see how her leadership lessons apply to business leaders and executives:

    1.The courage to stay strong - "A President [business leader?] needs the ability to withstand adversity and motivate himself [and/or herself] in the face of frustration."

    Relevance to business leaders and executives, per BZ: I actually think that it's more important for business leaders and executives to be adept at helping his/her staff withstand adversity and motivate themselves in the face of frustration.

    2. Self-confidence - "Good leadership requires you to surround yourself with people of diverse perspectives who can disagree with you without fear of retaliation."

    Relevance to business leaders and executives, per BZ: I agree with this, but also believe that you have to be ready, willing, and able to decide what happens next based on the input received and your own understanding of the situation and the downstream implications of any alternative.

    3. An ability to learn from errors - "To lead successfully, you must be willing to acknowledge and learn from your mistakes."

    Relevance to business leaders and executives, per BZ: I believe that you must also be able to learn from the mistakes of others even more.

    4. A willingness to change - "Conditions change, and Presidents [business leaders?] must respond."

    Relevance to business leaders and executives, per BZ: The concept of 'responding' is one thing, but I believe that the practice of responding meaningfully and appropriately is of far more import.

    5. Emotional intelligence - "A President [business leader?] must encourage his [and/or her?] closest advisers to give their best and remain loyal."

    Relevance to business leaders and executives, per BZ: I'm actually not sure about this one at all. Sure, it's important for a business leader to encourage his (and/or her) closest advisers to give their best, but why stop with the inner circle? Encourage everyone, everywhere, to give their best, I say. And, as far as remaining loyal, if an executive cannot provide a cogent business justification for whatever actions are desired, then I believe those actions should be questioned and not just blindly followed.

    6. Self-control - "Great leaders manage their emotions and remain calm in the midst of trouble."

    Relevance to business leaders and executives, per BZ: Abso-posi-lutely. The extent of a crisis is often defined as much by how the boss reacts than to the actual situation. Make no mistake, as the boss you are being watched, and what you say and do - in both formal and informal settings - is being noticed.

    7. A popular touch - "The best Presidents [business leaders?] have an intuitive awareness of public sentiment, a sense of when to wait and when to lead."

    Relevance to business leaders and executives, per BZ: Yes, ...and when to follow other people's leads, as well.

    8. A moral compass - "Only strong leaders have the courage and integrity to follow their convictions when the risk of losing popular support is great."

    Relevance to business leaders and executives, per BZ: Agreed, however - and this is a very BIG however - leaders, whether in business or the White House, certainly have no 'lock' on the ability to follow their convictions when under pressure. To assume anything different is profoundly disrespectful, in my opinion.

    9. A capacity to relax.

    Relevance to business leaders and executives, per BZ: Yes, yes, YES. The ability to quickly recover and fully recharge one's batteries - at the end of , and during, the day - is an essential competency for business leaders and executives in both the public and private sectors.

    10. A gift for inspiring others - "One of the key qualities of a great President [a great business leader?] is his [and/or her] ability to communicate national [business?] goals to the people and to educate and shape public opinion."

    Relevance to business leaders and executives, per BZ: Never underestimate the power of inspiration, an opportunity to inspire, or the value of being inspirational.

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    Monday, September 8, 2008

    Upping the Ante on Sideline Leadership

    It's easy to stand on the sidelines and lob grenades onto the field where others are playing. Even if you have the best of intentions, Sideline Leadership is definitely less than getting in there and mixing things up yourself.
    • What problems or issues can you step up and help solve?
    • What are you doing to actively make things better?
    • How are you helping others to do the same?
    Don't just talk about what's wrong - do something to actually fix it.

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    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Air Cover: Getting Support from the Big Boss

    Scenario: You need to do something that you just know a coworker, Mary, is not going to like. She'll dislike it so much, she'll likely go over your head to to complain about it.

    So how can you increase the probability that you'll get the 'air cover' and support you need from the Big Boss?

    By bringing your boss up-to-speed before you roll out your plan so s/he can comfortably say, "Yes, I know of, and approved, the approach taken."
    Can't get your boss to approve your plan exactly as is? Then just tweak it a bit so that you can.

    Then, play it out: Tell Mary. Let her complain to your boss's boss. (You can't stop her, anyway.) Watch as your boss's boss asks your boss, "What's this all about?" Then, see how:
    • If your boss can speak intelligently about your plan, you'll likely be supported by the Big Boss; and
    • If your boss cannot speak intelligently about your plan, you'll likely get overruled.
    It's not just about how good your idea is; it's about how well your boss supports it when it's ultimately challenged.

    End of story. Try it yourself and see.

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    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Measuring Executive Presence

    How you measure your Executive Presence - by achievement, or by attendance?!

    Sure, go ahead and laugh, but a lot of executives believe, to their (and their staff's) detriment, that "face" time is the answer. Playing the "visibility game" like that may give the illusion of working - and may sometimes even seem to work -, but:

    True Executive Presence is not measured in minutes, but by one's impact.
    That's not to say that visibility is irrelevant - being "seen" is a form of impact. But it's what you do when you're seen that matters more. Indeed, there are many ways that executives can have a significant impact:

    • some excel at thinking strategically
    • some excel at understanding the needs and wants of key stakeholders (customers, business partners, staff, bosses, competition, etc.)
    • some excel at conflict resolution and/or having difficult conversations
    • some excel at articulating the likely unintended consequences of a proposed action
    • some excel at creating contingency plans and fall-back processes
    • some excel with start-up opportunities
    • some excel at turnaround situations
    • some excel at being a great sounding-board to other executives
    While this is surely not a comprehensive list, notice that "working hard" is nowhere to be found on it. That's not to say that working hard is not important. It's just to say, though, that as with being "seen", working hard is typically not enough. While they both may enable Executive Presence, Executive Presence is more about what results from your work, not just how much effort you put into it - or who happens to see you when.

    Something else to consider the next time you're just showing up to be seen:
    Idle minutes of visibility tend to decrease one's visibility and diminish one's credibility.
    Why might I say that, I wonder?

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    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    Professional Development: What Works

    Professional Development: What Works
    New Book Alert: Professional Development: What Works, by Sally J. Zepeda, professor at the University of Georgia in the Department of Lifelong Education, Administration and Policy.

    Published less than a month ago by a joint between Eye On Education and the National Staff Development Council, Dr. Zepeda has created "a robust balance of research, theory, and practice" in this, her 17th book.

    Per Dr. Zepeda: "I am indebted to the teachers, professional development consultants, principals, and higher education faculty who allowed their practices to be included in this book. These practices are exemplary."

    Indeed, one such "outside resource" whose work was discussed (pages 191-193) was yours truly, Barry Zweibel.

    Thank you, Sally. I admire your ongoing passion for, commitment to, and leadership in, furthering the ongoing professional development of others.


    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    How Are You Holding Your Staff Accountable?

    • Do you assign tasks to your direct reports that never get done?
    • Do you find that if you don't follow-up on open items you never hear about them again?
    • Do you have to repeatedly remind people to do what they said they would?
    • Do you believe that the quality of the work coming back to you is sub-standard?
    • Do you not delegate as much as you might because it's just easier to do it yourself?

    Worry not - or at least don't worry a lot about it. The bad news is that you're likely not holding your staff sufficiently accountable for the 'extra' work you give them. The good news, though, is that it's not all that difficult to change that. You simply need to get a little clearer with them about your assignments and their implications:

    • The Who - "Here's why I'm choosing you do work on this assignment..." - Maybe it's because it's in the person's area of responsibility, maybe it's because you see this as an important developmental stretch for the person, maybe it's because of some particular competency the individual possesses. Regardless, be clear to whoever is the "Who" that s/he is the "Who."
    • The What - "Here's what I specifically want you to accomplish..." - Try being more specific about what you want than you usually are. So if you want pie charts instead of bar graphs for some reason, say so on the front end, before the work is completed. If you want a year-over-year analysis when it's more typical to just give YTD figures, specifically say so. If you want a detailed plan, explain what you mean by "detailed." Since you're the one giving the assignment, you get to be the one who asks for what you really want, not just for something in the neighborhood. And that includes what types of interim updates you want from the person, along the way, as well.
    • The Why - "Here's the reason why I want you to do this..." - Don't underestimate the value of explaining your Why to people. It really helps. Two caveats, though: (1) if you're in a real crisis situation (not just feeling under pressure) you may not have time to explain the Why, so quickly state that fact and offer to provide the additional background information about your request once the crisis subsides, if the person is still interested; (2) if it's clear that your delegatee truly understands the Why already, it may not be necessary to provide line-and-verse about it. It's best to be sure, though, which you can do by simply asking them to explain to you the Why. Don't forget to explain the Why behind your those interim updates you want, either.
    • The When -"I'd like to get the finished product back from you by..." - Back in my days in the telecommunications world I worked with a purchasing agent (I'll call her Phyllis) who taught me a very important lesson about the When. I needed some telecom gear in a hurry, so I filled out the necessary paperwork and in the box that asked "When Needed" I put the letters ASAP, meaning As Soon As Possible. When the gear didn't come, I went to visit Phyllis personally to find out what was (not) going on. "Didn't you see my ASAP?" I asked her. "Yes, I did," she replied, "But Barry, you have to understand, I'm a very busy person. And there are only so many hours in a day. It was just not possible for me to get to your request yet." And she was dead-serious. "So what am I supposed to do if I really need something right away, Phyllis?" I asked while teetering on the edge of insanity. "Oh, that's easy, just put today's date in the When Needed box on the form," she said with a smile that curiously made it seem like she was really trying to be helpful. "Really?!" "Yes, really!" So a few days later I tried Phyllis' suggestion ... and you know what? It worked perfectly! The moral of this story: Make sure you're asking for the right When in the right way. And that includes the When you want those interim updates, too.

    There's the Where and the How, too, but I'll leave them to you to figure out.

    I'll also leave to you an obvious implication of all of this: You'll likely need to think through the Who, What, Why, When, Where, and How a bit more before you start to delegate. If you do, though, I guarantee it will be time well spent.

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