Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time

Image of Doing the Right Things RightInspired by Peter Drucker’s groundbreaking book The Effective Executive, Laura Stack details precisely how 21st-century leaders and managers can obtain profitable, productive results by managing the intersection of two critical values: effectiveness and efficiency.

Effectiveness, Stack says in Doing the Right Things Right, is identifying and achieving the best objectives for your organization — doing the right things. Efficiency is accomplishing them with the least amount of time, effort and cost — doing things right. If you’re not clear on both, you’re wasting your time. As Drucker put it, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

Stack’s 3T Leadership offers 12 practices that will enable executives to be effective and efficient, grouped into three areas where leaders spend their time: Strategic Thinking, Teamwork and Tactics. With her expert advice, Doing the Right Things Right will give you scores of new ideas on how you, your team and your organization can boost productivity.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:
• The 12 practices to be both effective and efficient.
• The three activities that help you make sense of the 12 practices.
• Why executives have evolved from being bosses to team members in recent decades.
• Strategies to communicate better and motivate your team.
• How to use technology to make you more efficient, rather than letting it overwhelm you.

Click here for the full summary!

Join us for our next Soundview Live webinar!

Critical Conversations: Ensuring Success without Sacrificing Sanity
Date: Wednesday, April 27th
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Speaker: Cornelia Gamlem & Barbara Mitchell
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In this Soundview Live webinar, Critical Conversations: Ensuring Success without Sacrificing Sanity, Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem will offer guidance to employees, managers at all levels, and business owners communicate effectively to achieve a tension-free workplace.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Set and manage expectations
  • Identify changes in the workplace and the workforce
  • Create more options to solve conflicts
  • Recognize your personal conflict style, and why it is important
  • Effectively handle disruptive behavior

FREE WEBINAR: How to Deal With People Who Drive You Crazy featuring Dr. Mark Goulston

FREE WEBINAR:

How to Deal With People Who Drive You Crazy: An Interactive Converstion with Dr. Mark Goulston

Date: Thursday, March 31st
Time: 12:00 PM EDT

Register today and receive a free summary of Dr. Goulston’s book, Just Listen !

 

Let’s face it, we all know people who are irrational. No matter how hard you try to reason with them, it never works. So what’s the solution? How do you talk to someone who’s out of control? Dr. Mark Goulston has the knowledge and experience to help you find answers to these questions to ensure a more pleasant work environment.

In this Soundview Live webinar, How to Deal with People Who Drive You Crazy, Dr. Mark Goulston brings his communication magic to the most difficult group of all: the downright irrational. The key to handling irrational people is to learn to lean into the crazy – to empathize with it.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Why people act the way they do
  • How instinctive responses can exacerbate the situation – and what to do instead
  • How to transform yourself from a threat into an ally
  • When to confront a problem and when to walk away

How to Earn and Keep Customer Loyalty

Today’s buyers –– empowered by the Internet, assured by the enormous choice in every segment of commerce and capitalizing on the acute vulnerability of sellers struggling in this current selling climate –– have taken control of the entire purchase progression

The confluence of technology and choice described in Robert H. Bloom’s The New Experts, started customer loyalty down the slippery slope –– ultimately, customer loyalty died. Buyers no longer care which seller they buy from –– which gives buyers all the power. But buyers do care about fulfilling their needs and making the best purchase decision –– and that is how you can win them over at four critical customer moments.

The Four Moments That Count

1. The Now-or-Never Moment –– your first brief contact. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of your prospects’ initial contact with your company.

2. The Make-or-Break Moment –– the lengthy transaction process. Most leaders know from experience that far too many transactions fall through at the Make-or-Break Moment, the extended period of consideration, negotiation and decision to purchase.

3. The Keep-or-Lose Moment –– the customer’s continued usage. This is the period when your buyer is actually using your business’s products or services. It is important to nourish and maintain your relationship with a customer while that current customer is using, consuming, enjoying and relying on the product or service he or she purchased from you. Maintaining performance is essential at this moment.

4. The Multiplier Moment –– repeat purchase, advocacy and referral. Your Multiplier Moment is your conversion of a one-time customer into a repeat customer and an advocate and referral source for your company. Customers’ repeat purchases from your firm and enthusiastic recommendations of your firm will produce transactions that require far less investment and will create far more profitable revenue. This is why your business must sustain its performance long after the completion of the transaction and throughout your pivotal Multiplier Moment.
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Our Declining Abilities as Humans

In the early years of cellphones, the younger generation’s affinity for texting might have been seen as another generation-gap marker. Almost surreptitiously, however, the cellphone has become much more than just the new way of doing things for a new generation. As eloquently documented in psychoanalyst Sharon Turkle’s new book, Reclaiming Conversation, the cellphone — and, more specifically, the smartphone — has dramatically shifted the core element at the heart of human society: human relationships. The havoc wreaked by the cellphone is not generation-specific because all generations are guilty.

Turkle encapsulates the problem as one of losing both the desire and even the ability of conversation. We avoid face-to-face conversations, or even phone conversations, in favor of texting or email.

Granted, texting or email can, in the right circumstances, be more efficient. And indeed, the efficiency argument is one that underpins much of the enthusiasm for the smartphone. As revealed through the many interviews Turkle conducted in her research for the book, the generation that grew up with cellphones is perplexed as to why anyone would prefer a live conversation that one cannot edit or control (you must respond immediately). This apparent efficiency, however, is insidious, because “Human relationships,” she writes, “are rich, messy and demanding. When we clean them up with technology, we move from conversation to the efficiencies of mere connection (author’s emphasis). I fear we forget the difference. And we forget that children who grow up in a world of digital devices don’t know that there’s a difference.”

Pilots in a Cockpit

In her disturbing book, Turkle details the negative impact of moving from conversation to “mere connection.” It ranges from the end of imaginative and creative daydreaming — with a phone always handy, any spare second is filled with trolling through apps or checking Facebook — to the inability of being empathetic to others — which requires eye contact, listening and attending to someone — to even the inability of being true to one’s self. Today, unfettered journal entries have been replaced by carefully constructed positive posts on Facebook.

The damage of the age of the cellphone impacts everything we do. In the workplace, for example, employees turn on their screens and put on large earphones to block out the rest of the world — resembling pilots in a cockpit, according to one manager. It is not that the employees want privacy or solitude. In fact, the fear of solitude is one of the major changes wrought by the smartphone; people are never alone and never want to be alone. As a result, even the simple assignment of working on a project is unfathomable to younger employees; they need to work in groups.

Turkle is not anti-technology. She does not pine for a past that has disappeared. Instead, she compellingly describes how we are becoming unnecessarily diminished in our abilities as humans. The answer is not to reject technology but to use it properly. “We can become different kinds of consumers of technology, just as we have become different kinds of consumers of food,” she writes. Reclaiming Conversation is an important book, one that hopefully will be read and talked about — or at least posted about extensively on social media so that its vital message can break into the millions of cockpits that now make up our society.

For more reviews like this one, subscribe to our FREE monthly Executive Book Alert newsletter!

 

Preparing For The Unexpected

Preparing For The Unexpected

The information age is also the age of acronyms. Our friends and colleagues make us LOL. Or we might affix a humble IMHO to our suggestions. If there is one acronym that probably best defines the hypercompetitive, dynamic world of business today, however, it is VUCA.VUCA, as Pamela Meyer explains in her book The Agility Shift, stands for “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.” In other words, companies need to prepare for the unexpected because the unexpected is coming.

However, how does one prepare for the unknown, the uncertain, the ambiguous? According to Meyer, the answer is to shift mindsets and strategies from the status quo and complacency to agility and entrepreneurialism.

This is no easy task for many companies who have been successful doing what they’ve always done and operating in the world of the past. Success will not last, however, if companies do not become more agile. Studies show that agile companies are “more profitable, sustainable and innovative,” she explains. The real reason to pursue agility, however, goes beyond bottom line results. The “core dynamics” (interacting and interconnecting) of a shift to agility, she writes, “are the key to your ability to create and experience meaning, purpose and happiness.” Meyer puts meaning, purpose and happiness at the center of the agility shift because “it is essential to fostering and sustaining the level of engagement, commitment and creativity you need to respond effectively when the unexpected hits.”

The Relational Web

The agility shift, Meyer explains, is a shift in mindset from “the false comfort of a plan to achieving a state of readiness to find opportunity in the unexpected.” Such a state of readiness begins with a resource that already exists in most companies: the “Relational Web.” Agility exists, according to Meyer, when individuals, teams and organizations weave a strong Relational Web.

According to Meyer, a Relational Web is much more than another term for social networks. For example, in addition to active relationships with friends, colleagues and acquaintances, an individual’s Relational Web would include extended and/or inactive relationships; skills, knowledge and talent; other sources of ideas; knowledge and expertise; tangible and intangible resources.

Tangible and intangible resources can include anything from capital and raw materials to the brand reputation of the organization for which the person works.

Agile Shift Dynamics

The interconnections, relationships and resources of a Relational Web are not, in themselves, sufficient to ensure agile leaders, teams and organizations. Individuals and organizations must also adopt a mindset, strategy and practices that lead to what Meyer calls “the five agility shift dynamics”: relevance, responsiveness, resilience, resourcefulness and reflection.

Agile organizations are relevant, which means that they have a clear sense of purpose — a “why” for everything they do. Relevance, Meyer writes, aligns purpose and values with the success of the organization. The result is a workforce and leadership that is engaged and committed: an important requirement for agility.

Agile organization are also responsive: They don’t react to events out of fear or to protect or defend themselves but respond to take advantage of new opportunities, writes Meyer. Agile organizations are also resilient, able to “regroup, reorganize and renew in response to a significant disruption,” she writes, and resourceful — taking full advantage of resources. Finally, agile organizations are able to reflect on new developments, understanding which are relevant to their organizations, and demand a response.

An international consultant and professor, Meyer fills her book with case studies and precise how-to steps gathered under “Making Shift Happen” subheads. Thus, one of the Making Shift Happen practices for resilience is to “designate understudies” (a former theater director and producer, Meyer draws metaphors and stories from her show-business career). To designate understudies means to have redundant vital systems to ensure that the organization is not left short when the unexpected happens. Exploring best practices and the mindset for agility for individuals, teams and organizations, The Agility Shift offers practical and timely advice for managers and employees dealing with the challenges of the age of VUCA.

How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life

Prescriptions for Handling Difficult People

Perhaps the most universal challenge faced by any manager or employee at any level of an organization is dealing with difficult and even irrational people. In his new book, Talking to Crazy, psychiatrist Mark Goulston offers a counter-intuitive prescription to dealing with the irrational and the impossible: “Lean into the crazy.” Don’t argue or try to reason with these people, he writes. Instead, treat them as if they are rational, show them that you are not a threat and then “move them” to sanity.

talkingtocrazyHis prescription is based on what he calls the “Sanity Cycle,” which consists of six steps: “see that the other person is acting crazy”; “identify the other person’s M.O.” (such as extreme emotion, hopelessness, manipulation or martyrdom);“deal with your own crazy”; “go to the other person’s crazy”; “show that you are not a threat”; and “move the person to a sane place.”

The Man in the Pickup

In the opening chapter of his book, Goulston tells a startling personal story of road rage gone right that illustrates the Sanity Cycle in practice. After one of the worst professional days of his life, a preoccupied Goulston cut off the same person, a very large man in a pickup, twice. The second time, the man blocked Goulston’s car, emerged from his pickup truck in a rage, and started screaming and pounding on the window of the car. Goulston lowered the window and said, “Have you ever had such an awful day that you’re just hoping to meet someone who will pull out a gun, shoot you and put you out of your misery? Are you that someone?” Before long, the stunned other driver was trying to comfort Goulston, explaining to him that life really wasn’t that bad.

This story is an example of the “belly role” — one of the many techniques that Goulston offers his readers. The belly role is named after the habits of animals that indicate their submission to other dominant animals by lying on their backs and showing their bellies. In more technical terms, this is called assertive submission, an apt name — it takes a certain amount of assertiveness to say to a crazy person, “You’re right, do what you have to do.”

Apologize, Empathize, Uncover

Another of Goulston’s techniques is the A-E-U technique, whose acronym stands for Apologize, Empathize, Uncover. When the other person is being irrational, Goulston writes, you apologize for your own shortcomings, recognize how difficult it must be for them to deal with you, and then describe to the person what they may be truly feeling. For example, Goulston described a case involving a marital situation in which he told his client that as part of the uncover phase she must tell her spouse, “I’m guessing you’d like to get a divorce, but you can’t bear all the tumult that would cause. It wouldn’t even surprise me if, when I’m on a trip, you secretly wish I’d die in a plane crash, because then you’d be free without being the bad guy.”

Leaning into the crazy in this way may seem counter- intuitive, not to mention counterproductive. However, the A-E-U and other techniques in Goulston’s book reveal the power of his Sanity Cycle. One of the early steps in the cycle is “dealing with your own crazy” — that is, recognizing how you are contributing to the problems. Only then can you respond in ways that “show that you are not a threat” and that in the end “move the person to a sane place.”

At first glance, this may all seem nice in theory and completely unrealistic in the real world. Goulston, however, is not a New-Age spinner of good feelings but, rather, a practicing psychiatrist for decades who, as he puts it in the first sentence of the book, “knows crazy” — from the patient who jumped off a fifth-story balcony because he thought he could fly to “80-pound anorexics, strung-out heroin addicts and hallucinating schizophrenics.”

Goulston will be the first person to tell you that some people are too crazy to talk to. Early in the book, he separates irrational and impossible people from people with personality disorders (e.g., narcissists, paranoids, sociopaths). These are people from whom rational people should walk away, Goulston writes unequivocally. However, most conflicts in the workplace (or home) simply involve very difficult people who can make life miserable. Talking to Crazy offers much-needed guidance for those seeking a solution to these all-too-common conflicts.

Tips for Telling Compelling Stories When Training Leaders

Our guest blogger today is Dr. Paul White, author of Sync or Swim, continuing from last week’s blog on telling stories.

John was struggling with how to handle a difficult situation with a key vendor for the company. He went to his supervisor, Stephanie, and asked her advice on what he should do.  Rather than telling him what to do, or even giving her direct input, Stephanie replied, “John, let me tell you a story …”  She went on to tell a story about an experience she had early in her career and the   consequences of her decision over the years. When she was done, she paused and waited.  After a few seconds of silence, John smiled and said:  “Got it.  Thanks.”  He stood up and left the room, even though Stephanie hadn’t directly answered his question.

Throughout history and across cultures, stories have been used more than any other form of verbal expression to communicate foundational life lessons.   If you read the Greek philosophers, the wisdom literature from Asia, and the literature across the centuries designed to teach guiding principles for life – the “authors” used stories grounded in daily life rather than just stating the principle (or making lists of them, as most business books and articles do today.)

Tips for Telling Stories

Some people are natural storytellers – they just “do it”.  People listen to them, laugh, and enjoy hearing their stories.  For the rest of us, we need to work at it a bit.  Otherwise, our stories seem to fall flat with little impact on our listeners and sometimes there is just an awkward silence when we finish.  So here are some tips for learning to tell effective stories.

Where to Get Your Stories.  There are several sources for stories but the best one is your life.   You’ve gone through some situations that were challenging, hair-raising, and funny.  You were there so it is easy for you to remember. Some personal experiences and the stories that flow from that have to do with direct life experience.  You were there, felt the feelings, know what the dangers were, and how you felt when you got through the situation.  Other experiences are more indirect.  You were there but it was someone else going through the situation and you watched what happened (think about your parents while you were growing up, situations with your children, trips with friends).

A second treasure trove of stories are those told by others. This can include stories told by friends and family, stories told by authors in books, or the situations created and demonstrated in movies and TV shows. (By the way, movies are the modern cultural equivalent of orally told stories in past cultures.) YouTube videos also provide good visual short stories.  Note that trying to retell a story you’ve heard told by a friend can be difficult to tell effectively to others (especially if you only heard it once).

Practical Suggestions.  When telling a story, start by giving the context and setting (the “set up”) for what happens in the story is critical.  Some people start into a story without giving the listeners any clues either that they are telling a story or what the overall context is.  Next, share the main character’s perspective on what is going on – how did they see the situation?  What were they feeling?  This heightens the interest and energy level.  Then, make sure you get the sequence right. Not much “kills” a story more quickly than the storyteller having to go back and correct themselves (‘No, that’s not right.”) about what happened and when.  Clearly describing the challenge or dilemma (along with the person’s feeling response) is the next critical step.  Make sure your listeners know what the problem is that the character is facing, and their emotional response to the situation.  Tell what decision was made or the action chosen and then describe the result and its on impact you and the others in the situation.  Sometimes listeners “miss” an important part of the story or the context and need to be told exactly what happened and why it was important.  If needed, tell the lesson you learned.  In many stories, this is obvious, but sometimes the lesson you learned is important to delineate.

We all have interesting stories to tell. Sometimes we just need to stop and reflect, and then think about the best way to share the story in a way that will connect emotionally with others.

To learn more about communication at work, join Soundview and Dr. White for our webinar: Communicating Effectively Through Change.

Why Effective Leaders Use Stories To Train Others

Our guest blogger today is Dr. Paul White, author of Sync or Swim.

Most leaders focus on data and factual information.  And accurate data is important for making good decisions.  But throughout history, communicating facts has not been the most utilized method for developing leadership qualities.  Stories have been used more than any other form of verbal expression.

Let me show you the power of stories and the incredible staying power they have in our lives.

    • Do you remember the Aesop’s fable about the tortoise and the hare?  Briefly, in your mind, outline the gist of the story.  What is the main principle this story communicates?
    • How about the Back to the Future series of movies where Alex (Michael Fox) and Professor Brown are constantly trying to correct changes that occurred in the “space – time continuum”?  What key life principle are these stories communicating (indirectly, but powerfully) to the viewer?2

Why Stories Are So Powerful

 *Stories involve different parts of our brain, which makes learning (and remembering) more effective.  Stories obviously involve words, but stories also bring up visual images and pictures in our mind.  Also, the most effective stories involve emotionally-charged situations: challenges, risks and adventure.

*Stories are non-threatening, which keep people from not putting up their defenses. Stories are usually framed in the context of someone else (either the storyteller themselves, or the fictional characters of the story).  Since the story is not about me and usually communicated in an informal style, then most listeners start out with an “open” mindset

 *We often identify with one or more of the characters and we can easily relate to their experiences and reactions.  We “see” ourselves in the story and actually vicariously see ourselves experiencing the same challenges and emotions the characters are feeling.

 *We see characters that represent people in our lives (which gives us insight to them and why we react to them the way we do.)  Some stories have characters with whom we don’t personally relate, but they remind us of others in our lives.  The characters’ reactions then provide us insights into why they do what they do, and show us the strengths associated with character qualities that we may find irritating.

 *We are able to learn from others’ experiences and can observe different options for handling challenging situations and people.  One of the core benefits of stories is that they allow us to learn from others vicariously, rather than having to experience difficult situations ourselves.  We also are given examples of different ways to handle situations (both positively and poorly.)

 *Stories are easier to remember and communicate to others than facts and principles. Because of their use of imagery, we are able to remember the general gist of a story more easily than remembering pure factual information.   Additionally, we can quickly communicate the main points of a story and the lesson it teaches.

Watch and observe effective leaders and influencers.  They often are excellent at communicating through stories.  Think about life experiences that have impacted you, and start to tell stories to teach important lessons to those you are leading.

To learn more about communication at work, join Soundview and Dr. White for our webinar: Communicating Effectively Through Change.

How Introverts and Extroverts Achieve Extraordinary Results Together

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards created the music of the Rolling Stones. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniack built Apple. Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe brought us iconic musicals, including Camelot and My Fair Lady. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were America’s most popular movie critics. All of these famously productive partnerships had one thing in common: They brought together an introvert and an extrovert.

The common wisdom is that introverts and extroverts do not work well together. The common wisdom, as author Jennifer Kahnweiler makes clear in her new book, The Genius of Opposites, is absolutely correct in the sense that the collaboration is often going to be contentious and difficult, filled with battles and miscommunications and sometimes deliberate sabotage. Somehow, however, the introvert/extrovert partnerships such as those cited above, as well as the many unknown partnerships that fill Kahnweiler’s book, produced extraordinary results. The key to such success, according to Kahnweiler, is the five-step process at the heart of her book.

The ABCDEs of Collaboration

The first step, Kahnweiler argues, is to accept the alien. If introverted and extroverted people want to partner, they have to realize that they will never change the personality of the other person. Instead, each partner has to make a conscious effort to understand the other.

The second step is to bring on the battle. Kahnweiler explains that battles don’t have to be avoided (unless, of course, they destroy the partnership). Instead, they can be the means through which each partner is challenged by the other, resulting in solutions that are better than those that might have been developed individually.

The third of Kahnweiler’s steps is to cast the character. Because there are two very different personalities in the partnership, partners should take on the roles that best fit their unique personalities.

Kahnweiler’s fourth step is to destroy the dislike. It’s easy for two people with such clashing personalities to develop deep animosity toward each other. They must work, instead, on learning to respect and like each other as much as possible.

The fifth and final step is that each can’t offer everything. Introvert/extrovert consulting partnerships are often powerful because neither partner could offer clients all they want — but the two partners working together are able to present a much more diverse but complementary product or service.

For each step of her ABCDE methodology, Kahnweiler covers why that particular step is important, the pitfalls that can break down the step and the solutions that ensure success. Bring on the battles, for example, is important because the energy and creativity that emerge from constructive conflicts are best for the organization and lead to better solutions. Also, Kahnweiler writes, a major conflict can actually be a turning point in the relationship, paving the way to a productive collaboration.

Kahnweiler warns, however, that battles can also deal fatal blows to introvert/extrovert collaboration, for example, if one partner considers him- or herself more important. Hiding your concerns is another way that battles can be fatal, according to Kahnweiler. If partners don’t bring out the “elephant in the room,” the result — passive-aggressive behavior from the extrovert and internalized resentment from the introvert — can eventually destroy the partnership.

Battles can be productive, however, with a little work from each partner. Clear communication, bringing in a third party to break through an impasse and taking time-outs will help conflicts from degenerating.

Kahnweiler doesn’t gloss over the difficulties in making extrovert/introvert partnerships work. The Genius of Opposites is filled with stories of conflicts, most resolved through an effort at communication and a foundation of respect. Not all stories have a happy ending. Kahnweiler reports that in his memoir, Lerner believes he and his partner Loewe could have written more wonderful musicals if they could have gotten along. “In the end we were a little like the couple being discussed in one of Noel Coward’s plays. ‘Do they fight?,’ says one. ‘Oh, no, said the other. They’re much too unhappy to fight.”

The Genius of Opposites is an important manual for partners with clashing personalities who never want to become too unhappy to fight.