Leadership Development Made Easy

Leadership development used to be easier. Early in my career, my team was small, and I was in HR leading other HR folks. We all spoke the same language, and everyone believed in leadership development.

Then a move out of HR to a team 50 times the size in a union environment. More tricky, but all in a few large call centers. I could physically model the leadership I was looking to grow.

Next to a sales role, with a team of 2000 spread out in 100 locations within a 9 hour radius. Still close enough to show up to support as needed, and to easily pull groups together for leadership development sessions.

Today I lead a team in 22 locations across 3 time zones supporting 7 companies. We need to develop leadership capabilities on our internal team and influence 10,000 leaders and followers. I have fantastic leaders at each level contributing to this mission. Leadership development is up to all of us. I could just delegate, but this is vital. How do I also personally touch as many leaders as possible?

The easiest way to build leadership in a large, remote team is to let them inside.

Easy Leadership Development

Many leaders overlook this vital approach. Teach leadership not only by modeling on the outside, but sharing the feelings, thoughts and struggles happening on the inside. With a large, remote team, this requires even more trust and time. It’s worth it. I choose to.

  1. Leverage social media – Sure I write for you. I’m also highly sensitive to my team. If there’s a message someone (usually someones) needs to hear, it’s in the blog. I can’t tell you how many notes I get from folks saying, “that one was about me, wasn’t it?” It usually isn’t, but if the shoe fits. Sure, I could write using company tools, but then they’d miss the interaction of LGL community. Plus, by separating this as my personal blog, I preserve the right to be edgy. And I can contribute more broadly to you, them, and the rest of the world.
  2. Speak deeply into the microphone – When my team is together, I leverage time to let them in my head. Sure we talk strategy and plans, but we go much deeper. I encourage challenging questions, and they know I will shoot straight. I start. They share too. We talk about:

       •  What scares us and why
       •  Weaknesses we’re working to develop
       •  Challenges we face
       •  What makes us angry
       •  Mistakes, regrets and failures
       •  Hopes and dreams

  3. Real-time learning – We stop action to dissect teachable moments. I debrief my executive interactions and what I’m learning. I call them right back after conference calls to discuss their approach. We hold “virtual teambuilders” on topics we’re wrestling with. I’ll pose a simple question, such as “leaders stop learning when _____” And everyone responds to all via email. Amazing level-less leadership connection.

    Oddly enough, I’ve received more feedback about personal and leadership growth from this large, remote team, than in any other role in my career. We’ve also experienced the important side effect of A players and other “crazies” lining up to join the team.

    Why? We let one another into our heads.

  4. Real leadershipLearning is the 4th Branch of the REAL model. Don’t miss future discussions, enter your email to subscribe.

60 Reasons leaders stop learning

60 Reasons Leaders Stop Learning

Do you have a leader on your team who thinks they’ve already got this leadership thing handled? There is nothing left to learn? When leaders stop learning, their teams stop growing too.
I’ve been asking leaders across many contexts why leaders stop learning. Here are the top sixty I heard. What would you add? And, why is it so dangerous for leaders to stop learning?

“But, I Already Know How To Swim”

This summer my son, Sebastian, refused to take swimming lessons. Why? Because he “already knows how to swim.” Well, technically, I suppose that’s true. And if he were to fall off a dock, I’d want him to believe it.  Leadership development is a balancing act of inspiring confidence, uncovering opportunities, and giving leaders practical tools and approaches to help them grow.

60 Reasons Leaders Stop Learning

Leaders stop learning when they…
LISTENING

1. Stop listening (#1 by a landslide)

2. Stop doing something with what they hear

3. Have closed minds

4. Allow talking to become more important than listening

PURPOSE

5. No longer connect with the purpose (#2 answer)

6. Forget WHY they are doing

7. Become complacent

8. Think they’ve accomplished their goal

EGO

9. Get distracted by their own desires or success

10. Have their own agenda

11. Let ego get in the way

12. Think they have all the answers

13. Have only “past tense” conversations with themselves

14. Have seen it all before

15. Are not vulnerable

16. Create an appearance of being omniscient

17. Are insecure

18. Assume they’ve learned everything there is to learn

19. Stop focusing outward

20. Believe they’re the accomplishment

PASSION

21. Lose their passion

22. Lose their flow

23. Become complacent

24. No longer love what they do

25. Lost sight of their dreams and goals

26. Don’t feel energized and inspired

27. Lose their passion to motivate and influence others

28. Feel irrelevant

29. Stop caring

30. Lose interest

31. Become disengaged

FAILURE

32. Are afraid to fail

33. Seldom fail

34, Stop failing

35. Success becomes more important than growth (my personal favorite)

36. Are afraid to develop new skills

37. Are afraid to take risks

38. Stop believing in their ability to grow

STRESS

39. Are stressed

40.Are marginalized

41. Are exhausted

42. Are comfortable

QUESTIONS

43. Stop being inquisitive

44. Stop asking “dumb” questions

45. No longer encourage feedback and ideas

CHALLENGE

46. Fail to connect the dots between where they are and where they want to be

47. Stop challenging themselves and their team

48. Can’t measure progress

CHANGE

49. Stop being creative in their leadership approach

50. Become resistant to change

51. Assume they’ve learned everything there is to learn

52, Aren’t open to possibility

EMPOWERMENT

53. Are disempowered

54.Tasks become more important than people

55. Believe success comes from control

TEAMWORK

56. Stop believing in teamwork

57. Stop developing their team

YOUR TURN

Your turn. Leaders stop learning when__________.

58.

59.

60.

 

What would you add? What are the biggest reasons leaders stop learning?

How to Overcome Complacency in the Workplace

9 Ways to Maximize Your College Leadership Experience

9 Ways to Maximize Your College Leadership Experience

I’m often asked which colleges are the best for “leadership.” The short answer is “most will do just fine.” As with most of life, it’s what you make of it. College is a great place to grow as a leader, but it’s up to you to maximize your college leadership experience.

Much of your leadership learning will come from peripheral aspects of the college experience. Being involved. Living with strangers. Leading without authority. Getting along in diverse groups. Projects with assigned (potentially lazy) teams. Live it deeply. Make mistakes. Try new approaches. Keep leading and learning.

This post is for my son, Ben, and other young leaders graduating high school and heading to college. I’ve collected advice from seasoned leaders across the globe. If you aren’t headed to college, please comment with your advice, and pass the post along to an aspiring young leader.

Annette Schmeling, VP of Student Development at the University of Dayton, suggests making a specific plan.

  • Focus first on Academic Success
  • Identify 3-5 “activities outside the classroom” to be involved in. List the activities, explain why they are important to you
  • Make connections with the career services office and learn about internships and professional development opportunities starting the freshmen year
  • Learn how to utilize social media tools to engage with others. Start early to establish a purpose-fueled online reputation

9 Ways to Maximize Your College Leadership Experience (advice from the online “village”)

1. Solve Problems

Find something you’re passionate about and work to improve it. Dan Rockwell suggests, “gathering together” with other students to solve problems in order to maximize your college leadership experience.

2. Take Risks

Get comfortable with discomfort. Don’t jump out of the 2nd story classroom (like my friend did at Wake Forest did–  it was a stupid stunt, but he’s fine), but do wise things that scare you. Will Lukang says, “take risks and push yourself out of your comfort zone.” Mario Marquez shares, “Look for the uncomfortable and controversial situations, the hot potatoes that the majority will stay away from.”

3. Learn who you are

You will do great things and many silly ones. Learn from it all. Keep reflecting on, and refining, your values. Learn to lead and lead to learn. And as Alaska Chick says, “Walk the talk and do what you say.”

4. Volunteer

The most consistent advice I received is “volunteer.” Get involved. Spend time in the community. One of the very best way’s to maximize your college leadership experience is to volunteer.

“Get involved in the college’s outreach programs. Most colleges have programs to tutor high school students who are not passing graduation exams, community clean-up programs, political activist groups, debate groups, open theater programs get involved. Being in college can be about so much more than just getting a degree for what’s next.”

5. Build a Network

Hang out with all kinds of people. Find your niches, but don’t limit yourself. That weird guy may be up to something fantastic. It’s great to build a network of diverse communities. Network extensively through social media and make genuine connections. Mike Henry, Sr. suggests, “select friends carefully.”

“Grow your leadership skills in the place that sparks your passion – opportunities are everywhere. If you don’t feel the click, keep exploring until you do.”

6. Learn Extra

Attend the free lectures. Take crazy courses unrelated to your major. Listen with your heart. Take a full course load. Stay up late talking with your friends about what they are learning. Donald George suggests, “develop a variety of leadership skills and apply the most appropriate approach to fit that specific situation.”

7. Find Mentors

Invest in getting to know your professors. I have a few lifelong mentors (now friends) that began as professors. Help them with their research. Drink coffee with them. You will be amazed at the opportunities that can emerge. Also, find mentors in the community and in areas of interest. Connect with mentors across all walks of life.

“Find leaders you look up to and ask them to mentor you. Serve on their teams so as to watch, observe, and learn. Work hard, build good relationships, and after your studies are done, volunteer your heart out.”

8. Learn Think, Write and Speak

Take classes that challenge you to organize and articulate your point of view. Take lots of writing and speaking classes. Consider an improv or other theater class. Get really comfortable in front of people. If you hate public speaking, keep taking classes until you don’t.

9. Work Hard

Dan McCarthy shared a combination of quotes from Chuck Yeager and Vince Lombardi: “There’s no such thing as a natural-born leader. All great leaders got that way from hard work, not from some endowed gift. Thank goodness. Don’t cheat yourself with the easy way out. Or as Pop Pop says:

“I still endorse the advice from the talk “What college is and what it isn’t ” I heard in my senior year of high school in 1959 from the vice president of Rensselaer Polytechnic.
His point: you need to have a goal that motivates you, and apply yourself passionately in pursuing the goal. It does not matter if you change your goal later on, you probably will, several times. What matters is that you do the best you can with what you are working toward at any given time. I think that advice holds up, in college and after. The connection to leadership? If you know where you are going and give it your all, you will find folks will follow your lead.”

@theteapixie summarizes it well.

@LetsGrowLeaders Get involved. Be an example worth emulating. Be engaged. Be interested. Be active. Make face-2-face happen.”

 Are you looking to make the most of  your college leadership experience? Know someone graduating and headed to college? A Free Subscription to Let’s Grow Leaders makes a wonderful gift for Grads.. and Dads)

Powerful Presentations: Teaching Your Team To Talk Strategy

A “stand and deliver” presentation on your results is always nerve-wracking.But– watching your team do one is down right scary.

Remember when you…

  • couldn’t sleep the night before
  • were so stressed, you missed the main idea
  • failed to anticipate the political dynamics
  • used the wrong words, which took the entire conversation downhill
  • didn’t have supporting documentation
  • couldn’t answer obvious questions
  • left them with the wrong impression?

What didn’t kill you can make them stronger.

This month I am spending time with each of my Director teams conducting “teaching” operations reviews. Modelled after performance meetings all executives at our company do each quarter, we brought the drill-down to the frontline and middle management level. In fact, in the review I just completed, we had 5 levels of leadership in the room, all working together to become better at selling their strategic stories. Leaders teaching other leaders to build powerful presentations. Leaders growing leaders.

The Powerful Presentations Process

We asked each team to develop a formal Powerpoint deck highlighting their results, opportunities and action plans. The teams co-presented strategic stories to a cross-functional panel of leaders. It was an operations review in every sense of the word. They took me deep into their work. I asked provocative questions, with a twist lots of time-outs and immediate feedback and coaching. My Directors asked too, with a different perspective. Slide by slide, we talked about what could make their presentations more powerful.

The Powerful Presentations Ground Rules

  • All feedback is given in the spirit of love and development
  • This is about teaching you to operate at the next level or more. The questions will be tough, and you may get stuck. That’s okay.
  • We are going to interrupt, give feedback, ask questions, dispute statistics, drill down, question slide format, share stories of our mishaps, and raise political dynamics along the way
  • I also promise to share my “inside voice” (this is what I immediately think when you say that or when you show me that slide)

Crafting Powerful Presentations

We encouraged the teams to build their talk track strategically to answer these 3 questions

  • What key message do you want me to remember?
  • What do you need me to do?
  • Why should I believe in you?

What They Learned about Powerful Presentations: (as reported in the debrief)

About Preparation

  • Anticipate the questions based on execs in attendance (i.e. Finance, HR, Field)
  • Understand every number and point on the slides
  • Have back-up data
  • Understand your back-up data (sounds obvious but can be trickier than you think)
  • Ensure your boss is aligned with everything you are going to share (never blind side your boss)

About the Slides

  • Less is more, keep the slides clean and simple
  • Avoid cutesy graphics and distracting movement
  • Include trending
  • Forecast improvement. Based on this plan, I commit to having this metric be at (X) by (Date)

About the Talk Track

  • Begin with a problem statement, then share actions
  • Call out the opportunity first, if something is a problem point it out (before your audience does)
  • Ask for what you need
  • Be brief and be gone (don’t keep asking for more questions, quit while you’re ahead)
  • Acknowledge and thank your peers (in the room and outside of it)
  • Reference previous presentations (“as Jane just share”)
  • If you don’t know an answer. DON’T make one up
  • It’s not about telling me how hard you work

What I Learned

Lots about…

  • my people
  • the real deal
  • what I must do next
  • the team appreciates this kind of development
  • Ideas from other leaders about building powerful presentations

if you are an executive, take the time to teach your team to build powerful presentations. They will be nervous, it will be a stretch, they will work extra hours and leave frustrated and invigorated.

They will thank you.

Volunteer and Grow? Side Effects of Volunteering

Has volunteering made you a better leader?

As I was getting established in my career, going to grad school at night, and becoming a mom, I kept thinking (and saying), “I just don’t have time to volunteer.”

Sure, I would bake the cupcakes or volunteer at church, but certainly nothing that required sustained energy and effort. I thought, “people with more time would surely be better at that than me.”

Looking back now, that sure sounds like an excuse and a mistake.

I regret what I missed in the giving and in the growing that comes from volunteering during that phase of my life. The growing is more fun these days.

I am delighted to have a guest post this week on SmartBlog: Smartbrief on Leadership entitled How Volunteering Makes You a Better Leader.

I hope you will take the time to check it out and leave a comment.

How To Build Results That Last Beyond Your Tenure

 

I’ve heard all of the following phrases and many more like them uttered over the years.

“I can’t take a vacation, every time I do the whole place falls apart.”

“I had that organization running so well, and then she took over what a mess”

“Well, she was the lynch pin that held that whole place together, now that she’s moved on I am not optimistic”

“I came back from maternity leave early, I just couldn’t stand the thought of cleaning up the mess”

“She built all those relationships, we can’t replace that”

Not only have I heard these phrases, I am embarrassed to say that I have said some of them.

Sometimes they are true.

Sometimes they are not.

Either way, it’s not leadership.

An important sign of real leadership is what happens after the leader moves on.

  • Is there a clear vision?
  • Does the team have a clear brand and shared values?
  • Do the next steps seem perfectly clear?
  • Does each member know how they can best contribute?
  • Can the team rely on one another to get things done?

And yet, some leaders seem to take secret pride when things fall apart in their absence. They exude a quiet form of giddy when their team can’t function without them.

Short-term results are important. But how do you build a team that can sustain results long after you have moved to the next assignment?

If you are a “indispensable” leader, something is really wrong. You are not adding value long-term.

What can you do now, to ensure your impact will last?

Is Your Team Built to Last?

Jim Collins has fantastic research about how great companies do this in his books, Good to Great and Built To Last. Important research, great reads.

But if you are like most of my readers, you are not the COO of a Fortune 50 company. You are you. You have done your best to build a great team. You care deeply about the results you have built. You care even more deeply about your team. How do you ensure all this sustains?

Over the coming days, I begin a series on Building Results That Last Beyond Your Tenure. In each post, I will share my insights, along with more questions for our Let’s Grow Leaders Community.

I look forward to our conversation on how to…

  • Establish a Strong Vision
  • Develop Key Behaviors
  • Create Interdependent Success
  • Leave a Remarkable Successor

Take a few minutes. Reflect on your stories and get ready to share. Not ready to share stories? Bring on the questions. Together we will explore the excitement, challenge and nuances of building results that last beyond tenure.

 

Development Deluge: Are You Working Too Hard?

Bob (not his real name) pulled me aside after the meeting.

Another subscriber told me, “I’m going to have to stop reading your blog, it’s getting too expensive”

“Huh?… ummm… the blog is completely free,” I reminded her.

“Yes, but I’ve gone out and bought all the books you referenced.”

“You do know, I am not selling any of those right? That they are just references?

“Yes, but they all sound so good.”

“I’ve been reading your blog and all the books you talked about. I went out and got 5 mentors, all of whom are giving me feedback. I’ve been trying out new behaviors and asking for feedback on how I am doing. I’ve been thinking a lot about my development and career plans and next steps. It’s completely overwhelming.”

Hmmm…perhaps that is why Chris Brogan is inviting his readers to join him on a 3 Book Diet this year. His movement has gained traction.

I told Chris I can’t do the 3 book thing, I need great thinking to inspire my leadership and writing. Reading other people’s work is also helping me build wonderful relationships. But somewhere between 3 and everything in sight seems like the right range.

Have You Ever Been Bob?

Leaders must work on their development to grow. Most folks I know don’t work on their development enough. On the other hand too much development can be overwhelming, even paralyzing.

It’s like working on a marriage. Sometimes you need to talk about stuff. But sometimes, you just need to go throw a frisbee.

Back to Bob, and so I asked him, “what if you just stopped?”

His shoulders relaxed. I am pretty sure he started to breathe again.

“Development work takes time to steep. What if you just steeped in all this for a while?”

Bob is steeping now. That seems to be working well. The truth is, he seems to be growing more than ever.

What’s the “Right” Amount of Development

It depends.

Development should…

  • expose you to new perspectives
  • challenge you to try new behaviors
  • feel a bit uncomfortable
  • involve feedback from others
  • ????

Development should not…

  • feel completely overwhelming
  • involve trying too many new behaviors all at once
  • require constant feedback 
  • ????

What about you? Have you ever suffered from a development deluge? What happened? How did you steep?
 

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?

 

The Great Leadership Development and Succession Planning Kit:A Book Review

I imagine most of you are familiar with Dan McCarthy and his insightful blog, Great Leadership. I also know that many of you are also bloggers, who, like me, have aspirations of “some day” turning your posts into a brilliant and useful book. Dan has done just that in his e-book, The Great Leadership Development and Succession Planning Kit. It turns out that 500 well-written posts, woven together carefully, can lead to an insightful, practical, and witty “how-to” guide for identifying potential and developing great leaders.

I’ve been on all sides of the succession planning and leadership development process, from developing tools and programs, to facilitating talent review sessions to being the topic of such discussions and “rotational assignments.” I was impressed by the depth and applicability for people working in any of these capacities. If you are an executive starting to build a program, you can easily save significant time and money with the head-starts he provides here. For HR practitioners and consultants, there are rich tools and practical guides you can use with or without adaptation. And, if you are leader at any level, in any box on the proverbial “grid,” this read provides insider insights as well as specific development content.

It’s organized into 4 sections: the foundation, succession planning, development, and leadership skills.

The Foundation

He begins with a compelling argument for why companies must invest in a strategic and deliberate approach to succession planning. He then shares models that fit various budgets and cultures. His four-stage leadership development model is easy to follow.

Succession Planning

He shares practical help on talent profiles and critical positions, and his humor resonates of a man whose seen just one too many talent review sessions, The 10 Dysfunctional Characters at a Talent Review Meeting, It turns out, I’ve met all those characters.

Development

He includes a plethora of tools, from on-boarding to executive education. For fun, he throws in some cool stuff like “20 Great Leadership Development Movies.”

Leadership Skills

So once you’ve selected someone or been selected as a target for development, what’s next? Here’s where Dan comes in with the practical advice like “Lipstick on a Pig: 10 Ways to Improve Executive Presence” and “18 Financial Terms Every Leader Should Know.” My own development plan must be on track since “financial acumen” is always on my plan (I prefer to surround myself with finance-types, rather than have to face too many spreadsheets), but I found I can use every one of his 18 terms in a complete sentence. Quick, someone call my boss before the next talent review.

Why Buy the Book?

So, why buy the book when you can get the posts for free? I love Dan’s site, and particularly enjoy his Carnivals where he brings together the perspective of so much great leadership thinking. It is much more efficient to have him do all the work for you, to organize what you need in an easy to use way. Simple and funny? Priceless.

About Dan

Dan McCarthy is the Director of Executive Development Programs (EDP) at the University of New Hampshire. He writes the award-winning leadership development blog Great Leadership and the new ebook, The Great Leadership Development and Succession Planning Kit.

Dan is consistently ranked as one of the top digital influencers in leadership and talent management.

You can contact Dan at danmccarthy@gmail.com.

 

leadership and storytelling

A Strategic Story about Strategic Storytelling

Over the years, I have used strategic storytelling workshops to help drive key messages, build teams, and enhance communication skills. Today, I share the story of how my interest in that began, and why I frequently use it in my leadership today.

The Strategic Story Behind Strategic Storytelling

The Dramatic Beginning

Many years ago back in my HR days, I spent the better part of a year working on an intensive front-line leadership development program. We had interviewed everyone, built the competency models, created the curriculum and worked with vendors to import expertise on specific topics. Then, the whole thing came to a screeching halt.

A big merger was announced, and the program was put “on hold.” Everything was changing leadership, organizational structures, priorities, funding views about certain competencies. It just wasn’t “the biggest rock” at that point. This stuff happens. I understood the dynamics, but I was devastated. All that work and there were still frontline leaders that needed development now. The work wasn’t changing at that level, and we had identified a need. The organization was full of young, inexperienced leaders. And we were young HR leaders, with passion and a cause.

I sat in the conference room with my co-worker with whom I had collaborated on this project. We just looked at one another. What should we do now? After we got over feeling sorry for ourselves, we got to work.

The Story Continues: Storytelling Workshops to Transfer Leadership Mindset

We decided that what we wanted to do most of all was to find a way to “transfer leadership mindset.” The best leaders we saw at the front lines were the ones who had some scar-tissue from experience, combined with other leadership competencies. If only we could help to accelerate the learnings of that experience to others. How could we do that? For free?

Our answer storytelling.

Without announcing our intentions (just a causal whisper to our bosses), we created a series of strategic storytelling workshops designed for various levels of the business.

In these workshops, we would ask each leader to reflect on their own values, priorities, and history and identify a personal story that reflected their approach to leadership. The stories would then be shared with the team, and each leader would offer feedback on their story and delivery. The themes from each story would be discussed and leveraged to create norms for the team (or organization). The participants would work to identify opportunities to incorporate strategic storytelling into their communication plans.

Once we had our strategic storytelling plan, we made appointments to meet with the friendliest senior leaders we knew to sell in our concept. We told our story of delayed funding, and our storytelling solution. We were met with what I can best describe as a “what the heck” response and an invitation to try it in various contexts and levels across the company. The best response was from the exec who had “used strategic storytelling for years.” He then pulled out a pencil-on-graph-paper strategic communication plan matrix with his 3 main messages for the year, and the various stories he would tell in different contexts and levels to reinforce it. Game on!

We held everything from large scale meetings of frontline leaders with storytelling circles to intimate executive teambuilding sessions. The best stories were the ones where the leaders allowed themselves to be vulnerable, which was particularly cathartic and important at this time of changing scenery. (We later captured this technique, key learnings, and a summary of the themes gathered from this key time in an ASTD Storytelling InfoLine (the link I include here mostly for nostalgia, not selling).

So now I ask you

What key messages did you take away from this story?

Afterword

In the years that followed, I have used the storytelling workshop concepts in my own leadership and have facilitated sessions with my own team. Yesterday, I shared a post on Lead Change Group on this and other “Do It Yourself” leadership techniques. I hope you will enjoy. DIY Leadership: Easy Leadership Programs You Can Run Yourself.

Recognition Rodeo: More Insights From The Online Community

I have been delighted with the dialogue and debate spurred by last Saturday’s post on Recognition Power Words, also recognized on Wally Bock’s 3 Star Leadership Blog this week.

All week, people have continued to vigorously contribute and comment on the question and post on various LinkedIn groups. The debate is fantastic. People care about this topic. Perhaps it’s because it can be so personal. We all know what it feels like when recognition touches us, or when we are overlooked.

Simon Strong added to the conversation through commentary and video clips that showcase sincere and heartfelt recognition  (Babe – that’ll do pig) and Jerry Maguire – ambassador of Quan, as well as the impact of being ignored, Blues Brothers: fix the cigarette lighter.

Simon also says:

“Not only do we have to take into account the culture and needs of the person we are praising, but also that of the person giving praise. My mum, because of her role in my life and because of who she is will probably be ‘proud’ of me. My brother will tell me to stop showing off. Both are forms of praise that I would respond to very positively. Conversely, if my mum tells me to stop showing off I would be devastated, and if my brother was ‘proud’ of me I would punch him.”

And so, in order to spark additional conversation, I offer what some other bloggers are bringing to the conversation. Please join the conversation by commenting on this post.

Snap, Crackle, STOP– What's Your Brand?

Have you ever thought of yourself as a brand?

Most people associate brands with companies, services or products– but don’t always stop to think about their personal brand let alone how to build it.

This is a guest post from Jonathan Green.

“Jonathan is a culture evangelist who focuses on leadership development behaviors and communications strategies. His expertise is service models that provide world-class experience. He has worked in a variety of verticals including Finance, Utilities, Tech, and Telecom. Green has spent the last seven years working for a large Telecom provider and thoroughly enjoys the fast paced and ever-changing environment. Check out his blog at monsterleaders.com

As individuals, we actually have much more at stake as our brand is being observed, assessed and judged on a regular basis. In my work with young leaders, I carve out time out to help them consider their brand and to be deliberate about enhancing promoting it. The key is simplicity. Break it down into manageable parts.

1 – Image

2 – Behaviors

3 – Attitude

I usually start by relating the personal branding process to one of two topics that most of us have dealt with at one time or another: dating and cereal.

Dating

Consider the following:

When you go on a first date, what are you looking to teach your date about you?

… that your baggage is not as severe as that of her last boyfriend/girlfriend?

… that your brain functions at a normal capacity?

… that your hygiene practices are in line with conventional societal norms?

… that you are the kind of person they would want to live with until the end of time?

Your BRAND is on the line, and you are selling it. Your image is a mix of who you actually are and who you want the other person to believe you are. You don’t start a conversation with the worst decisions you have made in your life as you do not want to be defined by those. However, those are part of who you are, they are the scars and stripes that you carry with you all the time. So is your image true to yourself? Do your behaviors match your desired outcome? And most important, you have a choice in what attitudes you bring to the table is your attitude one that others want to subject themselves to?

Now, Mix in Cereal

Another way to look at it is to think of yourself as a brand of cereal.

Is it good for you? (do others want to be around you?)

Do you like the taste (do others enjoy talking to you, learning from you, sharing experiences with you?)

Is it made by a company that is safe and reputable (can you be trusted, do your behaviors build relationships?)

Some Easy Steps to get started

1. Ask yourself some questions
– How do I want to be viewed?
– What words do I want others to use to describe me?
– What words best describe the ideal me: reliable? intelligent? upbeat?…?

2. Reverse engineer your brand
– what behaviors must I exhibit to be viewed in this way?
– with whom should I be involved?
– where should I hang out?

3. Check it
– Do my behaviors reinforce my desired brand?
– What words are being used to describe me?

4. Who is promoting your brand?
– who is selling your brand, to whom and where?
– recruit some “sales people”

Encouraging young leaders to consider these questions can help set the stage for important inner dialogue and external changes. I have found that this work leads to amazing development, growth and a future driven by behaviors that matter.