Do You Have Rookie Smarts?

For many years now, I have considered my greatest strength as an employee to be my experience. As young people join our company, I can tell them about our history of 36 years in the summary business and all that we’ve learned over the years. But these days, things are just moving way too fast for experience to be enough!

Liz Wiseman, in her book Rookie Smarts, has it right when she makes the point that “In a time of constant change, success depends on seeing the world through rookie eyes”. Wiseman explains why we are often at our best when we are doing something for the first time—and how to reclaim and cultivate this curious, flexible, youthful mindset called “Rookie Smarts”.

Fortunately for those of us who’ve been around for a while, Wiseman also identifies a brand of leader she calls a “perpetual rookie”. Despite years of experience, they retain their rookie smarts, thinking and operating with the mindsets and practices of these high-performing rookies.

Whether you are a true rookie looking to stand out at work, or a seasoned veteran who needs to keep up your game, Wiseman’s words are for you. So we’ve invited Liz to join us for our Soundview Live webinar How to Retain Your Rookie Smarts on November 5th.

I’ll certainly be listening in, and I would invite you to join me. If you’re a Soundview subscriber, you can attend the webinar Free as always. If you’re not yet a subscriber, you may want to consider subscribing now. For the cost of just two webinars, you’ll have a year of book summaries and can attend our weekly webinars free as well.

The Wisdom of Oz

Why does the story of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion touch us? Like all great entertainment, their journey resonates. We see ourselves in the characters and likewise wish we possessed the power, the brains, the heart, and the courage to make our own dreams come true.

So what are your dreams? What do you want? Is it a promotion? Improving a relationship? Rescuing a child? Finding a new job? Saving a marriage? Getting a degree? Finding the love of your life? Making a difference in your community?

According to Roger Connors and Tom Smith, the answer is personal accountability. In The Wisdom of Oz, they claim that when you unleash the power of personal accountability it will energize you in life-altering ways, giving you a concrete boost that enhances your ability to think, to withstand adversity, to generate confidence, and to increase your own natural emotional, mental, and intellectual strength.

Among the principles they delve into:
• When you can’t control your circumstances, don’t let your circumstances control you.
• Every “breakthrough” requires a “break with.”
• Greater accountability is the most powerful choice you will ever make.

We have invited Roger Connors to join us for our next Soundview Live webinar, to explain how you can unleash the power of personal accountability. Register for Using Personal Accountability to Succeed in Everything You Do today and bring your questions for Roger to answer during the session.

Good Leaders Ask Great Questions

WHY YOU NEED TO ASK QUESTIONS

The reason that effective leaders ask questions, writes bestselling leadership author and speaker John Maxwell in his new book, Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, is that questions are the most effective means of communicating with people. They also allow leaders to unlock doors that would normally be closed, build better ideas, gain different perspectives, and break free of the “mental laziness” of comfortable, unchallenged mindsets — just to name a few of their advantages. As Maxwell explains, “If you want to make discoveries, if you want to disrupt the status quo, if you want to make progress and find new ways of thinking and doing, you need to ask questions.”

Questions Leaders Need to Ask Themselves and Their Teams

In the first part of Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, Maxwell focuses on what questions leaders should ask themselves and what questions they should ask of the team. Leaders, Maxwell explains, must ask themselves the tough questions if they want to be responsible and proactive leaders. These questions cover areas such as, among others, personal growth (“Am I investing in myself?”); motivation (“Am I genuinely interested in others?”); stability (“Am I grounded as a leader?”) and effectiveness (“Am I staying in my strength zone?”). Each question is an opportunity for Maxwell to explore key leadership issues. “Am I grounded as a leader?” for example, leads to a discussion of three important qualities that all leaders need to exhibit: humility, authenticity and calling.

In addition to questioning themselves, leaders must also question their team members. Good questions will show team members that they are valued and will inspire others to “dream more, think more, learn more, do more and become more,” Maxwell writes. There are numerous questions that need to be asked if leaders want an open, effective team. These questions range from “How can I serve you?” “What do I need to communicate?” and “What am I missing?” to “Did we exceed expectations?” “Did we add value?” and “How do we make the most of this opportunity?”

“I Told The Ding-A-Lings What To Do”

In the second section of the book, Maxwell presents the questions that leaders have asked him over the years. These myriad questions are expertly grouped into seven key leadership-related issues, captured as questions of course. These issues include “What must I do to lead myself successfully?” “How can I successfully navigate leadership transitions?” and “How can I develop leaders?” Each issue is then broken down into 10 more specific questions, which allows Maxwell to develop an insightful and concise tutorial on the issue.

One chapter, for example, is entitled “How do I resolve conflict and lead challenging people?” This is a recurring and often frustrating problem for many leaders. Maxwell breaks the issue down into specific questions related to resolving conflict and leading challenging people. For example, “How do you raise the bar when people have gotten used to settling for mediocrity?” “How do you motivate an unmotivated person?” “How do you deal with people who start things but never finish?” “At what point do you turn your energy away from dissenters and low performers and focus on those who want to grow?”

In some cases, the answers to these questions come in the form of other questions. For example, some people may not be aware that they are settling for mediocrity. Thus, questions such as “Are you reaching your maximum potential?” and “Would you like to do better?” can help people see possibilities that they had been ignoring.

For motivation, on the other hand, Maxwell offers straightforward advice beginning with, hire motivated people. He also suggests rewarding people for the desired behavior and giving people a reputation to uphold — that is, the more leaders validate people for the good things they do, the more people will want to continue to do them. Leaders must also understand the connection between relationships and motivation. One leader continuously referred to his staff as the “ding-a-lings,” saying such things as “I told the ding-a-lings what to do, but of course they didn’t do it.” His contempt was apparent to his employees, who were, not surprisingly, unmotivated.

As with his many other leadership books, Maxwell’s latest is clearly written, clearly organized and filled with insight engagingly captured through precise and illuminating questions.

Find the Sideways Path to Success

It takes 10 years of hard work and persistence to become an overnight success. Or so says the conventional wisdom. But if you’re going to insist on paying your dues, writes Shane Snow in the book Smartcuts, move to the slow lane because there are people who are going to pass you by. In his book, New York-based journalist Snow insists that the smartest people are the ones who refuse to follow the traditional paths to success. Snow uses examples from a wide range of domains, including entertainment, medicine, sports, politics and history, to prove that anyone can propel their way to success in a fraction of the time that others will take.

The secret of Smartcuts (which Snow explains lead to “sustainable success achieved quickly” not the “rapid but short-term gains” of shortcuts) is lateral thinking: knowing how to scramble sideways rather than steadily climbing the ladder of success. Even most presidents of the United States didn’t become president by slowly moving up from political offices to more important political offices until they reached the most powerful political office in the world. Instead, it often took just a couple of bounces from careers in such non-political arenas as acting (Ronald Reagan), the military (Dwight Eisenhower) or academia (Woodrow Wilson) to reach the White House.

Shorten, Leverage or Soar

In his book, Snow identifies nine patterns of lateral thinking, which he divides into three classes evocatively entitled: “shorten,” “leverage” and “soar.”

Instead of gamely following the prescribed path to a destination, some people deliberately shorten the path.

There are, Snow explains in the first part of the book, three ways to do so: “hacking the ladder,” which involves climbing a career ladder in unconventional ways; “training with masters,” which requires developing deep relationship with mentors; and “rapid feedback,” through which ambitious people constantly receive and act on feedback to what they are doing.

Leverage, as the name implies, is the process of using some tool or mechanism to propel yourself toward your goals.The three leverage tools that Snow features are “platforms,” which, as with physical platforms, make you stand out and above the rest of the crowds; “waves,” which, if you place yourself in the right location, can be caught and ridden, much as champion surfers know to which spot they should paddle to catch the best next wave; and “superconnectors,” which involves both getting help from the right people but then offering help once you’ve made it.

Snow’s final category of lateral thinking is to soar, which involves finding the way to keep “momentum”; striving for “simplicity” (a surprising element of sustainable success is the ability to focus on what’s important and simplify the rest; even President Obama has suits in only two colors, explaining to one interviewer that he had enough decisions to make); and 10x thinking — a goal that, unlike the incremental 10 percent improvement thinking, requires starting over doing something completely different.

Nearly every page of this book tells another compelling and inspirational story of someone who has been able to smartcut his or her way to phenomenal success. This is a book for anyone who feels that they are not where they want to be — and don’t have the patience (and perhaps the time) to slowly climb the ladder rung-by-rung.

How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

START WITH WHY

THE QUESTION TO ASK
Inspiration comes in a variety of forms, but the root of it grows from a fundamental question asked by those who are able to inspire others. The most important question of all, according to leadership expert Simon Sinek, is: Why do we do what we do? Asking this question can mean the difference between a company that makes a profit over the short term and a company that creates long-term financial success. Asking “why” also helps us draw others to us because we all want to understand why things are the way they are.

In Start With Why, Sinek explains that those who remember to answer that question are better able to attract others to their cause and create the inspiration people need to stay loyal and committed. When organizations explore why they exist, they are more likely to inspire their employees to join in their efforts and better able to attract customers to their products.

‘The Golden Circle’
After examining the ways manipulative leaders motivate their people, such as playing the price game, selling through promotions, using fear tactics, playing on insecurities and applying peer pressure, Sinek describes a better path to inspiration: a leadership model he calls “The Golden Circle.”

The Golden Circle is a series of three concentric circles that starts with a circle in the middle that represents why. The next circle represents how, and the outside circle represents what. Sinek writes that every company knows what it does because what simply represents the product or service that the company sells or the job function an employee performs to sell that product or service. How explains how the company is different from other companies. But the why is the most important core that needs to be explored to find inspiration. Sinek explains that the most inspired companies and leaders think, act and communicate from the inside of the Golden Circle and work their way outward.

To describe how inspirational people and companies lead, Sinek holds up examples such as the Wright brothers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Apple Inc.
A prime example of an innovative company that inspires its employees and customers by starting with why is Apple. Sinek shows how the marketing message that Apple uses to create value begins with an explanation of the underlying differentiator that separates the company from its competitors. Sure, it makes computers, but that message comes after the company states that it believes in challenging the status quo and thinking differently.

Orville and Wilbur Wright
Similarly, Sinek writes, the Wright brothers were able to become the first people to pilot their own flying machine before experts with more resources at their disposal. The Wright brothers started with the passion for flight, which was a far more effective why than the mere ambition for achievement that compelled the Smithsonian’s Samuel Pierpont Langley and his shop of well-educated experts who also strove to be the first to fly. Other people joined Orville and Wilbur Wright’s team because they were inspired by their belief that people could fly. This belief helped the Wright brothers excite their team members to do the hard work that got them off the ground before anyone else in the world.

Stories like this demonstrate Sinek’s theory about the importance of inspiration when leading others. Through lively historical examples that captivate while inspiring, Sinek offers readers a wealth of role models to help them find the inspiration to reach their own goals.