Talent Timeout: Sharing Your Hidden Talents

He trembled a bit as he approached the microphone. His thoughts crystalized into a profound truth.

Just a statement. He had no ask. He didn’t elaborate on such talents. He sat down.

I felt tears well up for this man about whom I knew so little. Sure his story is complex. Whose story isn’t?

“A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage”
~Sydney Smith

Later I asked him for more. The man indeed has many talents. His light was shining under a bushel, and he was speaking up.

I have a been unemployed for several years. I have many talents. I have much to offer this community.

How many times have you felt that way?

  • “Why can’t they see my gifts?”
  • “Why wasn’t I asked?”
  • “I have more to give”
  • “…”

Who’s holding you back? You or they? When’s the last time you picked up a “microphone” and shared what you have to offer?

Talent Timeout

Today, I ask each of us to pause and consider.

  • What are your many talents?
  • Which 3 talents do you offer up the most?
  • Which 3 stay hidden away?
  • Why?

What would be different if you spoke them into a microphone for your community to hear?

Create a Life Map: How to Make 2013 A Great Year

A Guest Post by Steve Van Remortel, Author of Stop Selling Vanilla Icecream 

How to Make 2013 A Great Year: Start Today!

As we approach 2013 I challenge you to make it a great year. I want to give you one simple tool to help you become better in all the areas of your life: as a spouse, businessperson, leader, employee, father, mother, son, daughter, and friend.

That simple tool is a “Life Map.” It’s a one page personal plan that helps you achieve success in all aspects of your life. I am consistently working with clients and friends with their life map and I strongly recommend you start creating yours today.

Creating Your Life Map

The life map contains three columns, working from right to left, beginning with your legacy.

Define Your Legacy

Starting with the right column you begin your life map by defining your legacy. How do you want to be remembered when you leave this life?

Long-Term Objectives

Next, in the center column of your life map you write down your long-term objectives that will achieve your legacy.

Annual Objectives

Then in the far left column of your life map you write down your annual objectives for the next 12 months that will help you accomplish your long-term objectives. Simple, but very effective!

The Process

It is best to complete your life map by going away each year for a couple of days to a quiet place where you can think and sort out your future. Then, each month, you review your annual objectives and develop action plans for the coming month to achieve them.

I developed my first life map about six years ago. It has changed my life forever.

In my legacy, I want my kids to view their dad as a mentor and adult friend they can talk to about anything. That starts by spending individual time with them now. So my annual objectives include going with them to concerts, events and just being together.

One of my business objectives is to be a respected author and speaker. That plan became reality with my first book called Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream was published October 16 ,2012.

As with any plan, discipline and accountability are necessary. If you need to find someone to hold you accountable to your life map, share it with a close friend or mentor.

It’s a new year. How do you want to be remembered? What will you do in 2013 to build that legacy? You can do it. You just have to get started today.

Go to Stop Selling Vanilla Icecream to download the free Life Map template and create your personal plan to make 2013 a great year for you.

Remember, Those Who Plan – PROFIT!

Steve Van Remortel is a consultant, speaker, certified behavioral analyst and president of SM Advisors Inc., a strategic planning and talent management consulting firm. Contact him at by email, or on his website stevevr@smadvisors.com or go to www.smadvisors.com or www.stopsellingvanillaicecream.com


The Power of Always: Making Commitments You Can Keep

I will always brush my teeth before I go to bed.

That’s pretty easy.

I will always exercise at least 5 times a week.

Unless,

I get stuck in the airport, my kid gets sick, there’s a hurricane,

A bit harder.

As leaders we have long lists of intentions. We do our best to keep our commitments.

Unless…

Identifying What’s Always Important

“You are what you do, not what you say you will do”
~C.J. Jung

Have you ever sat down and figured out what are you most important commitments? Ones you are sure you can keep. Simple, measurable not intentions commitments? What are the specific actions you will do “no matter what.”

What commitments can you absolutely make to yourself?

Take a moment here, it’s harder than it seems.

Are you willing to write it down?

What could you commit to always do with your team?

Hold a weekly coaching session?

Always give honest feedback?

??

???

Take another moment this gets even more tricky.

Are you confident enough in your ability to follow-through?

Are you willing to share the list with them tomorrow?

I’ve also done this as a team exercise.

What can we always commit to do on every customer interaction?

  • A warm, energetic greeting?
  • A careful analysis of options?
  • ?
  • ?

It’s a useful exercise at many levels.

What are you most important always commitments?

Why are they important?

Hot Mess Leadership: When Image Becomes Dangerous

The term“hot mess” typically refers to someone disheveled on the outside with some redeeming qualities on the inside. Urban dictionary defines a “hot mess” as

” when one’s thought or appearance are in a state of disarray, but they maintain an undeniable attractiveness or beauty”

Leaders can go a long way by getting clothes that fit, shoes that shine, and well-kept hair and nails.

Work on your magnetism. Refrain from stupid outbursts. You will have another leg up.

It’s important to avoid being a “hot mess”.
Cleaning up the outside matters.

The more dangerous problem is when the “hot” is on the outside and the “mess” is on the inside.

In other words, you look the part,

You have a strong leadership presence.

But, you don’t operate with integrity or care about your team.

It’s tricky, because your connections or image may open doors.

A seat at the table must be used carefully.

A Few Signs You’re a Hot Mess Leader

  • You spend more time planning your outfit than your presentation
  • You make your team cater to your maintenance needs
  • You learn all you can about your boss, but know very little about those who work on your team
  • You never get past the small talk at events
  • The spend more time on networking than leading
  • (what would you add?)

The truth is, as leaders, sometimes we are “hot” and sometimes we are “messy” on both the inside and the outside.

We need good mirrors for both.

Leadership for Kids: A Great Way To Teach Your Kids About Leadership

What Does Your Mommy Do?

I have never had one of those jobs they sing about on Sesame Street.

As with most of us, the roles I have assumed over the years are hard to explain.

But if you ask my kids what I do, they have a short answer, “my mom is a leader.”

Probe further, and you’ll get more:

  • “She asks a lot of questions”
  • “She helps people figure things out”
  • “She teaches people stuff”
  • “She has a team”
  • “She tries to make work more fun”

They know because they live it.

Some would argue it’s because I have no work-life balance, and by some definitions, I suppose that’s true.

On the other hand…

My kids have learned about leadership by…

  • traveling with me
  • working booths at special events
  • sitting on my lap while I took on-line leadership trainings (they got the answers right)
  • watching me manage late night and weekend crises
  • overhearing countless calls
  • hearing me make tough choices
  • helping me host dinners for my team
  • seeing what makes me angry
  • watching how I handled stress (not always well)
  • sharing in my victories
  • processing the stories
  • partnering with me in volunteer work

Is this lifestyle for everyone, absolutely not. Are there tradeoffs? You bet. Everyone’s goals, values and circumstances are different. For me, letting them into my world and talking about why I do what I do, seems to help.

My experience has been that kids…

  • want to understand what you really do
  • are interested in how you make decisions
  • are capable of learning a great deal about leadership
  • can apply those skills in their own situations
  • want to talk about leadership

There is also more room for work-life integration than most people think.

Are you a parent-leader? Please enjoy our free e-book, Parents Guide to Leadership click here to download. 

 

Are Your Meetings Effective? Measure Your Meeting “Net Promoter Score”

Do you run effective meetings?

When was the last time someone left one of your meetings and told everyone, “that was a GREAT meeting. You’ve really got to come next time.”

Do you have a good sense of what they are saying?

Would they come if they had a choice?

Many companies use the idea of the Net Promoter Score asking the “Ultimate Question” to measure their customer service. This question asks, “on a scale of 1-10 how likely would you be to recommend us to your friend or colleague?” The system’s not perfect, but there is beauty in its simplicity. The best information comes from taking a deeper look at what the “promoters (those who would recommend) say vs. the “detractors (those who would not).”

Try ending your meetings with a simple question

Would you recommend this meeting to a friend?

or variations on the theme…

Was this meeting a good use of your time?

Will you be more effective as a result of this meeting?

Do You Have Meeting Promoters or Detractors?

Consider the last meeting you facilitated. Would you have more promoters or detractors? What would each of these groups say on their way out the door.

Themes from meeting promoters

“The meeting had a clear purpose and agenda”

“All the right people were there”

“Everyone contributed”

“We stayed right on topic”

“We made lots of decisions”

“I know just what to do next”

Themes from Meeting Detractors

“It was more of a one-way information dump”

“I am not really sure what that meeting was about”

“The right people weren’t there”

“We didn’t stay on topic”

“We didn’t make any decisions”

“We were just there to update our boss”

How do you know your meetings are effective? When is the last time you asked?

PS: You may find this article from Patrick at Hello Focus intriguing. Some interesting stuff about meetings here!

Are Your Meetings Effective? Measure Your Meeting "Net Promoter Score"

Do you run effective meetings?

When was the last time someone left one of your meetings and told everyone, “that was a GREAT meeting. You’ve really got to come next time.”

Do you have a good sense of what they are saying?

Would they come if they had a choice?

Many companies use the idea of the Net Promoter Score asking the “Ultimate Question” to measure their customer service. This question asks, “on a scale of 1-10 how likely would you be to recommend us to your friend or colleague?” The system’s not perfect, but there is beauty in its simplicity. The best information comes from taking a deeper look at what the “promoters (those who would recommend) say vs. the “detractors (those who would not).”

Try ending your meetings with a simple question

Would you recommend this meeting to a friend?

or variations on the theme…

Was this meeting a good use of your time?

Will you be more effective as a result of this meeting?

Do You Have Meeting Promoters or Detractors?

Consider the last meeting you facilitated. Would you have more promoters or detractors? What would each of these groups say on their way out the door.

Themes from meeting promoters

“The meeting had a clear purpose and agenda”

“All the right people were there”

“Everyone contributed”

“We stayed right on topic”

“We made lots of decisions”

“I know just what to do next”

Themes from Meeting Detractors

“It was more of a one-way information dump”

“I am not really sure what that meeting was about”

“The right people weren’t there”

“We didn’t stay on topic”

“We didn’t make any decisions”

“We were just there to update our boss”

How do you know your meetings are effective? When is the last time you asked?

PS: You may find this article from Patrick at Hello Focus intriguing. Some interesting stuff about meetings here!

Speed Mentoring: Jump Starting Deeper Connections

Finding a great mentor is hard. A lot goes into making mentoring work, but above all it starts with finding a great connection.

I spent today launching a new mentoring circle, with a bit of a twist. Instead of a pure skip-level experience, all of my direct reports were involved, along with high-potential managers from across the organization.

We worked together on business problems, identified key priorities and challenges for the coming year, and came up with some fantastic strategies and plans. There is so much power in collaboration.

And then we tried something new “speed mentoring.”

Speed Mentoring

As a caveat, this is a group that has worked together at various levels. Some of us have deeper relationships and have had developmental discussion before, some were just getting to know one another. We asked in advance, and the team agreed they were game to try something new.

The Design

Although none of us had any experience with “speed dating” we were intrigued by the concept of short, focused interactions to look for areas of common interest.

Each participant was asked to come prepared with any ideas and questions they had for the leaders on the team. The mentees were in complete control of the conversations, and could use the time however they wished.

We set up small tables around the room, and each of the leaders manned a station and the mentees flowed through spending 10 minutes at each station. The mentees controlled the conversations, and each took on a different flavor.

The Questions

I was intrigued at how deep the conversations went in just 10 minutes. Each mentee took a different approach. Nearly all conversations sparked dialogue that will continue.

  • “What’s my “brand with you?”
  • Why wouldn’t you promote me?
  • What’s the biggest mistake you ever made?
  • What makes you fail?
  • What are you working on developmentally?
  • Did you ever take a job that was a bad fit? What did you do?
  • What characteristics are you looking for in a leader?
  • How do you think I am doing?
  • Just what makes you so passionate about leadership development?

The Feedback

The feedback we received was amazing. I was worried that the time was too short, or that the feedback from so many people in a short time frame would be overwhelming. Participants agreed that it was “intense” but would do it again with the same design.

  • “It was helpful to see the patterns and consistency in the feedback”
  • “I could tell everyone was being really candid and had my best interest at heart”
  • “I liked that we could control the questions and decide where we wanted to take the conversation with each person.”
  • “It was great to see so many different perspectives on the same question”

The conversations continued later that day, on a break or walking to dinner. Can you mentor in 10 minutes? Of course not. Can you spark a connection worth exploring further? I believe you can.

The best is yet to come.
 

Get Noticed: Start By Building a Strong N.E.S.T.

These are all phrases I’ve heard used in succession planning and other discussions over the years. The tragedy is that the folks being described in these conversations work extremely hard, have fantastic results, and are highly committed to the company. The trouble is, they are working too hard to get noticed.

“She’s more focused on her career than the business”

“He’s applied for so many promotions. He doesn’t seem to know what he really wants to do next, he just wants the title.”

“Every time I talk to that guy he tells me how great his team is doing”

“I’m not sure what it is, she’s just a bit over the top.”

Scott Eblin’s recent post, You’ve Got To Speak For the Work, was timely. I had just finished a conversation with a leader facing this same issue. A woman on his team had GREAT results. The trouble is, she was constantly telling everyone. She was getting tuned out, and worse, her results were being ignored because she was seen as needy. Her work to get noticed was backfiring. Scott shares how to “speak for the work” vs. promoting yourself.

Speaking for the work is not about jumping up and down saying, “Hey, look what I did!” You’re speaking for the work, not speaking for you. More specifically, you’re speaking for the work of your team. Part of your job as their leader is to advocate for them and get them the exposure they need to succeed. Another part of your leadership role is to make sure that your boss has the information she needs to successfully brief her boss.

I concur with all his points. Worth reading if you want your work to get noticed I have shared this article broadly.

I also believe a great way to “speak for the work” is to use it as a nesting place to help others to grow.

Four Build a Noticeable N.E.S.T.

N- Notice what is working and why

Channel some of your need to get noticed into a pursuit of continued excellence. The more you understand what is working, the easier it will be to replicate. Stay humble and open to ways to improve you own nest, so that it can be an incubator for future growth and ideas.

E- Extend Support

Extend your support to struggling peers. Share your tools and resources. Offer to lend them your best talent to help with a struggling project. They will likely be grateful and tell others about what you are doing and how it helped. It will give your best talent a chance to get noticed and they will be learning along the way.

S- Sell your team’s contributions

Nominate your team members for formal recognition programs. Use informal channels to provide shout outs. No one will every fault you for giving well-deserved kudos to your team. Work to promote the careers of others, pushing them as soon as they are ready out of your nest and on to the next adventure. They will carry your vision and reputation forward.

T- Talk about the great work of others

Be genuinely interested in the nest building of others. Be the first one to point out other’s accomplishments. Don’t worry about reciprocation. If you are doing great work, it will come.

Empowerment Run Amok: How One Bad Decision Leads To Another

You believe in servant leadership.

Empowerment is your middle name.

Results are strong.

The team is happy.

And then.

Someone makes a really bad decision.

The consequences are big.

Your boss is not happy.

How could YOU let that happen?

Why weren’t YOU more involved?
And you begin to wonder about the person who made the poor choice.

  • Why did he make such a bad decision?
  • Didn’t he understand the potential consequences?
  • Why didn’t he ask for help?
  • Why was I not informed sooner

It might be hard but stop, and think well before reacting.

If you are not careful, the next bad decision may be your own.

How you react now, matters. Everyone is watching your next move. Do you really believe in empowerment?

The decision you make next will have long-term implications on trust and the relationship with your entire team. People are talking, texting and instant messaging count on it.

3 Steps to Responding Well to a Bad Decision

1. Temper and Reflect

  • Have I carefully considered my approach to empowerment– Who to empower with what decisions and why?
  • Have I clearly communicated the big picture and long-term goals?
  • Have I taught effective decision-making?
  • Have I explained the importance of my involvement in certain kinds of decisions?
  • Am I approachable and available to support?
  • Have I been teaching enough about the political landscape and how to include and inform stakeholders?
  • … what would you add?

2. Take Accountability

  • Own the mistake, never blame
  • Roll up your sleeves and be involved in the fix
  • Involve the employee in the solution
  • Coach in private
  • Carefully consider the answers to the questions above, what do you need to adjust?
  • Communicate any changes without linking back to a specific employee’s mistake
  • … what would you add?

3. Teach

  • Ask questions for self-discovery
  • Share a story of when you screwed up and what you learned
  • Reassure the employee that this can be fixed most things can, even when they look grim
  • … what would you add?

 

leadership in kids

Children’s Books on Leadership– Questions to Inspire Young Thinking

Which children’s books are the most helpful in teaching leadership to kids? I posed this question in my online leadership communities, as well as to parents, and a children’s librarian. The suggestions came pouring in. So many of us have fond memories of reading as a child and of reading with our own children. Thank you to all who shared your stories of the stories you love and the meanings they hold.

In culling through the lists, it became clear to me that so many children’s books don’t speak of leadership directly, but they provide a great way to isolate one or two specific leadership variables. My son, Sebastian, age 7 and I went to the library and got a big stack of your suggestions. We’ve been playing a very simple game. We read the children’s book and then he tells me what leadership characteristic the book is about. He got so excited about the game that last Saturday he woke me up at 1 am asking to “play again.”

I am starting with children’s books for the younger set. I have some excitement brewing for the older crowd stay tuned.

Children’s Books on Leadership Foundations

Here’s a start from your suggestions, with links on where to find them.

Please add to the list through your comments.

Authenticity

The Velveteen Rabbit

The Tale of Desperaux

The Emperor’s New Clothes

The King’s Stilts (Seb’s most requested)

Incredible You

Perseverance

The Carrot Seed

The Little Engine That Could

Tortoise and The Hare

Creativity/Problem Solving

Harold and the Purple Crayon

Oh the Thinks You Can Think

There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon

Servant Leadership

The Giving Tree (most popular suggestion)

Rainbow Fish (for the youngest padawans)

Empowerment/ Process

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

Ox Cart Man

Teamwork

Crown Me

Stone Soup

The Little Red Hen

Some Questions That Spark Great Kid Conversation

What does this book teach us about leadership?

Who do you admire in this book? Why?

What other choices did ____ have?

What would you have done in this situation? Why?

What do you think happens next in this story?

You can also download the Parent’s Guide to Leadership Free eBook here.

Plan Your Epitaph Day: Living and Leaving a Legacy

Apparently today is “Plan Your Epitaph” Day.

So, although I don’t usually post on Fridays, I couldn’t resist a short one. We move so fast, working through the urgent. It’s a nice reminder to consider the legacy we are working to leave.

In her meditation “Set in Stone”, in Walking Towards Morning Meditations, Victoria Stafford urges us to consider what our epitaph “will read” and “does read.”
“She attended well and faithfully to a few important things”

“He got all the dishes washed and dried before playing with his children in the evening”

“She answered all her calls, all her e-mail, all her voicemail, but along the way she forgot to answer the call to service and compassion, and forgiveness, first and foremost of herself”

“She could not, or would not, hear the calling of her heart”
Plan Your Epitaph 

  • What do you want on your epitaph?
  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • What one sentence best describes your life’s work?
  • What would be the one sentence you would leave with the world?

Here are some real ones to get you thinking:

“I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter”

-Winston Churchill

“The best is yet to come”

-Frank Sinatra

“That’s all folks”

-Mel Blanc

“My life cannot be summarized in 140 characters #lovelife”

-proposed by Ben Evans

Oh yes, and mine simply “Namaste” which means the light that is in me honors the light that is in you.

And so I challenge you, what would you say on your epitaph? This will be so much more fun if you comment 😉 It’s Friday et’s share. Heck, while you’re at it you can also tweet it out using the link below.

Namaste.