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Leaders – How to Get Your Team’s Motivation to Go Viral!

August 8th, 2011 10 comments

There are different types of teams in the world.  Each team is lead by a leader.  Some teams are wildly successful.  Everything they touch turns to gold.  While other teams seem to wallow in mediocrity, never rising above the norm.

What makes teams so different?  One difference is the level of motivation.  The successful team appears to be brimming with motivation.  Get out of their way, because they are steaming towards their goal!  While the other team seems to be only going through the motions.

I’ve heard it said that motivation comes from within.  This is true.  The sign of a great leader is one who will find this motivation lurking inside each individual and pull it out of them with gusto.

I’ve had leaders ask, “how can I reach this motivation.  I’ve tried contests and money rewards and I can’t seem to get them motivated.”  Contest and money doesn’t work for everyone or every situation.  Some occupations work better with these kinds of rewards.  Some personalities respond better to competition and fiscal rewards.   If you have competitive action personalities on your team, they are more likely to work for those kinds of incentives.

The more creative the project, the less likely contest and rewards will work.  For these creative projects, we need to roll up our sleeves and use a completely different approach.

Get your team actively involved in the crusade

The most successful people in business and life are those with a cause.  Something they can believe in and commit to.  People will work harder for a crusade or cause then they will for money.  The great leaders have discovered their own crusade and how it’s going to make people’s lives better.  It could be righting a wrong, or they’re working to make the world a better place.

A great leader figures out the crusade and then gets their team’s emotions involved with this crusade every day.  Great leaders understand that people respond to directing their own lives.  These leaders, also, recognize and respond to their team’s individual initiatives in moving the crusade forward.  Everyone wants to be a part of changing the world.  People will work harder to be a part of history.

Leaders must be in touch with their own dreams and goals.

The leader should recognize each member of the team’s strengths and how these strengths can fit into the big dream.  The leader should know the steps it will take to reach the dream, but never discourage anyone on the team’s contributions.  Individual initiatives may even discover a better way to accomplish the goals.  The dream needs to be big enough for everyone on the team to have an active part in it.

Everybody wants to be somebody.

Not only do they want to be somebody, but they have the desire to get better and better at something that really matters.  Everyone wants to be remember in the history of the world, at least in their world.  We must never forget this desire when we lead our teams.

To create an explosion of  viral motivation, we will need to inspire those around us to reach inside of themselves and pull out the best they can be.  People’s desire to be involved in something bigger than themselves and fight for something they believe in is a strong motivating force.  We can look for the best in our team and encourage them to make a difference each and every day.

I have a video of Dan Pink’s talk at Ted on motivation.  He brings some surprising things to light.  They are controversial things which most business don’t believe or don’t know about.  I’ve worked in sales fields where we were compensated monetarily.  At first, I didn’t agree with him (as if my research department is bigger than his). After contemplation, I can see how this fits. Leave me your comment and let me know your thoughts.

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What Communication Skills Are Important in Relationships

July 11th, 2011 2 comments

Jerry was a talkative and like-able guy.  Ever since grade school he was the class clown and involved in all school activities.  He was told many times by his teachers, if he could make money using his mouth, he’d be a millionaire.

Fast forward 25 years.  Jerry has gotten a job in car sales.  He’s liked by all his comrades.  He has a list of Facebook friends in the thousands.  But, his career and his main relationship is in a major slump.  His wife doesn’t talk to him much any more.  She is too busy with her career.  He is baffled by why his friend, Roger, always seems to be leading the sales chart at the dealership.  Where has he gone wrong?

One day, as he’s watching another customer walk out the door, Jerry was baffled.  He thought he had gotten along well with this customer.  Why did they walk away?  His sales manager walks up to him and asks what the customer was looking for? Jerry’s response was, “Oh, he was only kicking tires.”

Where did he go wrong?  Many people, like Jerry think they can razzle-dazzle people with their conversation.  They talk about themselves and go on endlessly about things the other person may not give 2 hoots about.  They think they are controlling the conversation, but they are sadly mistaken.  Likeability and being cool will only take you so far.

A sales transaction, like any relationship, involves forming a bond with your potential buyer or loved one.  A good sales relationship is formed because your prospect believes the sales person cares about them enough to find out what it is they are looking for.  A good sales person knows how to control the conversation, by asking good questions.  Questions such as;  what are they, the customer, looking for?  What are they going to use it for?  What features are important to them? What would things have to look like for them to make a purchase today?

Some people understand the idea of asking questions of their potential clients, but then they don’t listen to the answers.  They are too busy thinking of the next thing they are going to say.  The customer catches on to this very quickly and knows the sales person isn’t really listening to them.  Effective questioning also involves feeding it back to the customer.  Feeding it back and then refining their preferences down with more questions.

This technique doesn’t only apply to sales.  Any relationship is a selling experience.  Everyday, we sell people on our ideas, and our way of thinking.  We sell our kids on being well behaved.  We sell our love partners everyday on us.  If I was going to give any relationship advice, I would say, ask more questions.  Not accusing questions, but asking questions about why they like something, what they would like to do, how they want things to be, what’s important to them….and then shut up and listen.

I often hear from married people that their partner doesn’t communicate with them any more.  I ask, what kind of questions are you asking? Are the questions which will give you more insight into what’s important to them?

If we would like to enjoy better relationships with our customers and our loved ones, we must learn the art of proper communication.  Asking thought provoking questions and listening to the answers will turn more tire kickers into customers and our loved ones into avid fans.  This is what we really want, isn’t it?

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5 Tips Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know to Starting a Business

July 6th, 2011 4 comments

All most everyone would like to own their own business.  Home businesses, small business, and MLMs (multi-level marketing) are on the rise!  Everyday of the week someone is starting a home business or a small enterprise.  Business ideas are rampant.  Business opportunities have never been as good as they are today  Why doesn’t everyone have their own business?

There are many pluses to business ownership such as; having equity in your career, possible unlimited income, calling the shots, and having mastery of your career path.  There are, also, many problems with being a successful entrepreneurs.  Many new businesses fail in the first 5 years.  How can someone have more control of their success?

Here are some business tips which will lead to greater success:

1.  Have a clear concise mental picture of what success looks like in your business.  What would your business look like when you succeed?  Know exactly how many transactions/sales have to be made to equal the cash flow you need to run your business, pay all your employees, pay taxes, etc.  It’s important to know exactly how much and where the cash flow is going.  How long will it take to get to this point.  Do you have a business plan and a mission statement?

2.  It’s important to prioritize the behavior which gets you to your goal.  It’s vital to know what your bread and butter activities are.  Once you discover what they are, it’s important to do those activities as much as possible.  If paperwork doesn’t make you any money, don’t do it.  I’m not saying let your paperwork reach the ceiling or sit unattended on your desk.  What I’m saying, is it might be more cost efficient for you to hire someone to do it which will free you up to do the bread and butter activities of your business.

3.  Set effective goals.  It’s very important to set goals with time frames.  A goal without a time period attached to it is only wishful thinking.  Goals will need to be long term and short term and broken down into the daily activities.  The daily activities should encompass the bread and butter activities that make the money, or you won’t be in business very long, or successfully.

4.  Have rewards and punishments in place.  Everyone likes the rewards, but where people fail is they don’t punish themselves if they haven’t accomplished their goal.  I’m not suggesting flogging oneself with the cat o nine tails.  I’m suggesting that if you haven’t met your weekly production goals, make yourself work on your day off.  Rewards and punishments are important for keeping yourself motivated day in and day out.  This step takes self discipline.  If you don’t have self discipline, you probably shouldn’t be working for yourself.

5.  Fall in love with your future outcome,  Sell yourself, everyday, on how wonderful it’s going to be when you succeed.  Use all your senses to sell yourself your dream life.  Put pictures of your dream life and dream business where ever you will see them every day.  Many cell phones are capable of taking pictures.  Take pictures of where you would like your office to be, what car you are going to drive, what school your children will go to, etc.  Put them on your computer.  Tools like mindmovies can not only build your perfect life movie, but the workbook helps you become clear on what it is you really want.

No one wants to become a statistic of another failed business.  You have control of what you do, everyday, to succeed.  Businesses succeed or fail because of daily habits.  Master your destiny by mastering your success habits.

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Women – 9 Things That’ll Kill Your Promotion

June 14th, 2011 No comments

Women have made many strides in the business world. A hundred years ago, if a woman needed to provide for her family, she had to take menial jobs such as taking in washing, waiting tables, sewing, or found a job in a house of ill repute. As women have taken their place beside men in the business world, many times, they have been at the mercy of men and their thinking. Back then, it was unheard of for a woman to be promoted to the CEO of a company. Today, there aren’t as many women CEOs as there are men in those positions, but things are changing rapidly. But, in many ways, it’s still a man’s world.

For many years, I worked in agricultural sales. This was a field dominated by men. I was told in the beginning I couldn’t succeed because farmers wanted a male salesperson. I found this to be failure thinking. In fact, I found the farming community very open and accepting of me. I enjoyed what I did and I rose very quickly in the company and became the first woman to head their sales department.

I believe, women can do anything they set in their minds to do. Every day, women are crashing through the glass ceiling to success. Many women have opened their own businesses. It has never been this good. Having said that, I find, sometimes, we are our own worst enemy. We can torpedo our success without even knowing it. Here’s a few suggestions on what not to do.

1. Don’t cry at work. This can be a difficult one. I am a very empathic person. I can cry because someone else is crying. There’s no room in the work place for tears. Tears make most men very uncomfortable. They see it as weakness. They feel bullied by tears. Meaning, they can perceive tears as a way to make them feel sorry for the woman or intimidated by them. I don’t believe this is the case, but what they perceive makes it so for them.

2. No baby talk. It’s annoying and should never be used in a business setting. It’s self demeaning and puts the woman in a lower position.

3. Dress appropriately. This means dress like those around you, but with an eye on promotion. If you want to elevate yourself to a leadership position, dress like the leaders do. It gives an unspoken clue to your desire to be promoted. This, also means, don’t dress like someone who wants to show their sexuality, such as lots of cleavage, tight outfits, short skirts. I know fashions has changed, but there isn’t anything wrong with being modest. I’m not suggesting we dress like grandma does, but if we want to be perceived as a woman who can handle herself, don’t bring sexuality into it.

4. Try not to be oversensitive. There will be criticism in the workplace. Don’t take everything personally. Try to see it as a way to improve without allowing it to hurt. It’s very helpful to develop Rhino skin around some of our feelings.

5. Be honest – with diplomacy. Honest comments don’t have to be cutting. Especially, if we’re in a supervisory position. Read up on effective coaching. I know sometimes women can be perceived as being hard when they are just being honest.

7. Stay out of the gossip mill. Listening to office gossip is a is a way to undermine ourselves. It’s best to keep ones feelings and thoughts about others to ourselves. It may appear to be fun until it boomerangs on us.

8. Position yourself to be seen as someone who gets the job done, can help others and doesn’t waste valuable time. Personal matters need to be kept for personal time, such as personal phone calls, making the rounds to talk to everyone, interrupting others business time, hanging out in the break room when it’s not break time, and personal drama. One’s personal drama has no room in the work place.

9. Don’t make mountains out of mole hills. I have worked with some exceptional women. I’ve seen some of them shoot themselves in the foot by being over dramatic and sweating the small stuff. They spend their time majoring in the minors. It’s best not to fall into this trap. Our opinion won’t mean as much if our bosses have to sift what we say through the drama screen.

There’s still a “good ole boys’ club”, but it’s rapidly disappearing. It’s being replaced by people who can see the merits of another person without using gender to categorize others.

By being aware of the things that rob us of our credibility and not falling into the habit of using them, will put us ahead on the corporate ladder, or any ladder we wish to climb.

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Secret Leadership Tip – Build a Partnership with Your Team

December 9th, 2010 No comments

There’s a little secret to effective team building.  A leader has 3 choices; either know this secret and uses it, know this secret and don’t believe it or use it, or is completely clueless to the secret.  What is this little powerful secret?  It is to know your team mates and treat them like your partners in business.  This means knowing more than just their name and position in your company.  Sounds easy doesn’t it?

I’m not talking about knowing all the dirt on your team mates.  That is gossip and completely ineffective unless you are leading by intimidation, which is a trait of an weak leader.  I am talking about knowing what’s important to them in their lives outside of work.  Who are they besides the position they hold at your company!

This isn’t a difficult task if you have a team of 3 or 4.  It’s easy to learn somethings about them.  The most effective leaders are those who know their team mates’ families; spouse, kids, dog/cat, the team sports their children may be playing, etc.

I have heard leaders say they don’t want to get to know their team mates very well, because they may have to fire them.  My answer to such nonsense is, if you knew them better they would integrate into the team more effectively, work up to your expectations, and you wouldn’t have a reason to fire them.  Make sense?

People spend most of their waking day at their jobs.  If they are merely a number or a position, why should they care?  If your team doesn’t care, things begin to happen.  Work efficiency slows down, office supplies disappear out of the closet at an amazing rate, and moral stinks!

Many years ago, I joined a very large company.  About 2 months into my tenure there, I was at a company meeting.  On a potty break, I ran into the CEO of the company in the hall.  Right away, he called me by name and asked how my spouse was.  He even called my spouse by his name.  He had only met me once before.  I was impressed.

He always had the ability to know all of us and recall immediately all the tidbits about us he had gleaned from our conversations.  He cared about each and everyone of us.  We were his partners in business.

Some of us may feel it is impossible to know every one’s information.  It becomes a surprisingly different task if we change the way we perceive our team mates.  If they are all our partners in business, the details about them become more important to us.

You might say, I can’t remember everyone because my memory isn’t that good.  If that’s what you think, than you are right.  I’m sorry you’ll have miss out on this very important secret. But, if you change your mind and decide to prioritize your memory skills this tip will change your team’s dynamics.

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How to Set Priorities for More Success

October 18th, 2010 1 comment

I have worked with many different people in my business career.  I have come to realize, we are not hatched from the womb knowing how to prioritize our work or our lives for success.  It is a learned skill.

If this important tool isn’t learned, we are left to muddle through life focusing on unproductive activities.  This leads to under achievement and frustration.  When we take the time to learn how to prioritize our work, it opens up a whole new world of achievement and success.  Here are three things to consider when setting priorities.

1.  We must understand the rule of 20/80 in our activities.  20% of our activities will account for 80% of our success.  Out of the 10 items on our lists of things to do, 2 of those items are of higher value than the other eight.  Those 2 are responsible for the achievements of our desired effect we are working to accomplish.  How do we know which are our 2 things?

2.  We must understand the big picture.  Meaning, we have to know the end result we are striving to accomplish, and what it takes to get there.  If we don’t know our target, we will wander aimless, never getting close to our desires.  Only by seeing the big picture will the best path appear.

It’s like hiking.  If we only stare at the end of our shoes, we will trip and fall over every obstacle in our path.  If we raise our eyes above our feet we will see the path ahead.  We will know, in advance, when the path has things that will hinder our progress, such as tree roots or limbs that will smack us in the head.  We will see clearly the path that leads to our destination.

It is important to set a time when we can block out our distractions and set goals.  Goal setting gives us the path to walk.  To set those goals effectively, we have to be clear on our desired outcome, or the destination we are striving for.

When we have done this, we are able to ask ourselves, what is the most valuable use of my time now?  An entrepreneur and business owner will ask themselves, what activities will bring the most profits?

3.  Setting our priorities also includes knowing how our work affects others.  Are we impeding another person’s progress by not completing our work? There isn’t anything more frustrating for a team than having to wait for someone else to accomplish a task that directly affects completing their own tasks.

For instances, lets say, we are working on an assembly line and building a new car. The workers responsible for installing the engine can’t put it into the car if those responsible for the frame haven’t done their job.

If it doesn’t impact our results in a positive way, or is holding someone else back from completing their job, it might deserve to be a low priority item on our list.

Understanding how to organize our work with proper attention to our high impact priorities is a valuable skill to have.  Now is the time to polish up this skill.  It will move us faster to our destination of success!

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Successful Team – 5 Tips a Leader Must Know

October 11th, 2010 19 comments

Building a productive team can be a very rewarding experience.  It takes a set of real world skills schools don’t often teach.  This leads to learning it by the seat of our pants.  The best way to learn leadership is by following a good leader.

Effective teams work because the leader has the group’s loyalty.  Done incorrectly, the leader will lose the trust of the team.  Right from the beginning the decision has to be made.  Are you a leader or a manager? Once the decision is made, here are a few tips for becoming a group leader.

1.  A leader, leads from the front of a team.  They are the role model for the team.  If the team isn’t being productive, the leader should examine their own goals and activity first.  Even being an excellent role model, team members will, individually, only do a half to three quarters of what the leader does.  The leader sets the pace for the team.  If a leader wants a productive team, the leader must be productive.

2.  Leadership isn’t a 9 to 5 proposition.  A leader will put in longer hours than the team.  The leader of a team can’t ever go home early.  They come in early and stay late.  The leader can’t just “tell” their team to finish a project.  Even though they have trust in their team to complete each project independently of the leader, they are personally invested in the quality of the finished project.

3.  When a leader removes him/herself from the playing field, the team’s productivity will decline.   Leadership isn’t a paper pushing endeavor.  We would never expect to see the Captain of a sports team retire to the sidelines, tell his team to “go get ’em”, go inside, sit in the office, and work on paperwork.  That may sounds silly to you.  We all know, that team would go into a rapid spiral downward or they’d switch their loyalties to the best member they could follow who was actively involved.  I know paperwork will not do its self, but it is better to delegate it.  Paperwork is never the best use of a leader’s time.

4.  A team must always see a winning spirit from their leader.  A leader can never, ever show hurt.  If things aren’t going well, the leader takes the responsibility, re-evaluates, and then corrects the course of the team.  They  must be the one who re-ignites the group!  If the leader gives up, it is over. This doesn’t mean falling behind isn’t a great call to action.  But, a defeated attitude from the leader will defeat the team.

5.  A leader expects only the best.  If they don’t, they will only get mediocrity from their group.  The leader sets the standard of excellence for their team.  Their group is well trained and fundamentally sound, and functions like a well oiled machine.

Tough leaders have tough teams.  They know when to slap and when to kiss (not in the literal sense).  They know when the team members need discipline and when they need encouragement.

Although leadership isn’t a 9 to 5 job, it is the most rewarding position on the team.   A team is the sum total of its leadership.  Leadership changes lives! No where else can a person have a better influence in a group of people’s lives.  Take your responsibility seriously and go win!  Your team deserves it!

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