Markers of Meaning

“The startling truth is that 70% of the workforce is disengaged – their bodies may put in long hours, but their hearts and minds never punch in.  You may even be one of those that’s searching for ways to make work really work for you.  This is a terrible dilemma for organizations trying to motivate employees to do more with less. So how to motivate the disengaged, and further engage the engaged?  It’s not pay, perks, or promotions.

The answer is to foster meaning at work, that is, give work a greater sense of personal significance, and thus, make work matter. “    Scott Mautz

Through his research, Mautz has discovered that specific Markers of Meaning exist, or unique conditions that create meaning in and at work. It’s possible to learn how to trigger each Marker of Meaning and inspire elevated performance and fulfillment that sustains over the long haul.

Markers of Meaning:

Direction

  1. Doing work that matters

Discovery

  1. Being congruently challenged
  2. Working with a heightened sense of competency and self-esteem
  3. Being in control and influencing decisions/outcomes

Devotion

  1. Working in a caring/authentic/teamwork-based culture
  2. Feeling connection with and confidence in leadership and the mission
  3. Being free from corrosive workplace behavior

Looking at this list of markers, I can see why such conditions would be motivators for engagement in any company or work environment. But how do we foster these markers of meaning in our organizations?

Join us on July 7th to learn how. We have invited Scott Mautz to present his findings and answers at our Soundview Live webinar How to Motivate By Creating Meaning. You’ll walk away equipped with a host of specific ideas, insight, and practical tools to help do so.

Creating Behavior That Lasts –– Becoming the Person You Want to Be

Triggers2

Do you ever find that you are not the patient, compassionate problem solver you believe yourself to be? Are you surprised at how irritated or flustered the normally unflappable you becomes in the presence of a specific colleague at work? Have you ever felt your temper accelerate from zero to sixty when another driver cuts you off in traffic?

As Marshall Goldsmith points out in Triggers, our reactions don’t occur in a vacuum. They are usually the result of unappreciated triggers in our environment — the people and situations that lure us into behaving in a manner diametrically opposed to the colleague, partner, parent or friend we imagine ourselves to be. So often, the environment seems to be outside our control.

Even if that is true, as Goldsmith points out, we have a choice in how we respond. In Triggers, Goldsmith shows how we can overcome the trigger points in our lives and enact meaningful and lasting change. Goldsmith offers a simple “magic bullet” solution in the form of daily self-monitoring, hinging around what he calls “active” questions, six “engaging questions” that can help us take responsibility for our efforts to improve and help us recognize when we fall short.

With these and other strategies, Triggers can help us to achieve change in our lives, make it stick and become the person we want to be.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:

• The most common belief triggers that keep us from changing.

• To identify your triggers and use active questions to counter them.

• The power of the environment to influence behavior and the importance of structure to change behavior.

• Why a “good enough” attitude can harm interpersonal relationships.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the title to purchase and download it right now to begin learning these critical business skills.

 

Brand Your Brand Through Actions Not Advertising

Today’s guest blogger is Denise Lee Yohn, a leading authority on building and positioning exceptional brands. Denise is the author of the bestselling book What Great Brands Do:  The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest.  Read more by Denise at http://deniseleeyohn.com/bites/best-bites.

If you’re investing time and money into branding strategies that don’t seem to be making a difference, you’re not alone. Most business leaders are frustrated by the lack of return they’re seeing on their advertising dollars. And yet some companies enjoy rapid growth and success with minuscule marketing budgets.  What are the leaders at these organizations doing that so you should also do?

Great brands consider their brands as verbs, not nouns. They don’t use their brands simply as external images promoted through advertising and communications. Instead, they use their brands to shape:

  • the internal culture they cultivate — using a purpose and values to inspire employees and customers alike
  • the core operations they run — creating customer relationships that are meaningful, valuable, and sustainable
  • the customer experiences they deliver — making differentiating and emotional connections with customers

They conceive of and use their brands as what they do and how they do it.

This means that the stewards of the brand don’t reside in the marketing or advertising department; they’re at the highest levels of the organization.  These leaders ensure their organization delivers the brand identity and core values through everything they do, every day, all day. They recognize that brands are built through actions, not advertising.

When you use your brand as the central organizing and operating idea of your company, it makes it easy for everyone who works on your brand — from your executive team to frontline employees to business partners — to know how to nurture and reinforce it because everyone shares a common understanding of the value you’re creating.  It makes it clear what to do and what not to do, so no one wastes time, money, and resources on things that don’t align with and contribute to that value.

By shifting your concept of brand from noun to verb, you also allow for constant evolution. When you think of your brand not as an identity to promote but as an instrument that you fuels, aligns, and guides everything your company does, your brand values and attributes serve as inspiration for innovation into new markets, new offerings, and new categories.

In this day and age where nearly perfect, ubiquitous information allows buyers to predict quite accurately the experienced quality of products and services, people today rely less on advertising and promises of quality and more on the opinions of experts and other consumers.  People no longer need a creative campaign or an attractive message to help them decide which product to buy.  The influence of brands on purchase decisions seems to have diminished.

But this doesn’t mean that brands have become less important.  Ask the executives at Starbucks, IBM, Apple, or IKEA.  The brands at these companies remain integral to their success because they develop and use their brands as more than mere messages.

You can build your brand the way great brands when if embrace the concept of operating your business based on your brand.

To learn more about building a great brand, join us for our Soundview Live webinar with Denise Lee Yohn: What Great Brands Do.

Five Timeless Lessons From Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs

THE STRATEGIC RULES OF THREE GIANTS

Bill Gates, Andy Grove and Steve Jobs have been the subjects of many books, and Gates and Grove have even written their own bestselling books. Strategy Rules, a new book coauthored by Harvard Business School professor David Yoffie and MIT Sloan School of Management professor Michael Cusumano, offers a new take on these three giants of entrepreneurship and technology by bringing them together into one how-to guide on strategy. According to Yoffie and Cusumano, the three men, although vastly different in personalities, followed the same five rules for strategy and execution:

  1. Look Forward, Reason Back. The first rule was to look forward into the future and then reason back to the actions required today. A vision of what the world could be was only the beginning for these three men, however. Perhaps even more important was the ability of all three to determine — in detail — what needed to happen immediately to turn vision into reality.
  2. Make Big Bets, Without Betting the Company. Gates, Grove and Jobs were bold leaders, but they were not reckless, write Yoffie and Cusumano. They knew how to time or diversify their big bets so that even huge strategic bets were not irreversible.
  3. Build Platforms AND Ecosystems. Another important rule, the authors write, was to build platforms and ecosystems, as opposed to pursuing a product strategy. Build Platforms AND Ecosystems. Most industries think in terms of products. Technology companies, however, succeed when they build industry platforms, not stand-alone products. Bill Gates would not be among the world’s richest men and Microsoft would not be the dominant company it became if Gates had sold his product — the DOS operating system — to the client that had requested it: IBM. Instead, in exchange for a much lower payment from IBM, Gates kept the right to license the system to other companies. The rest is history.
  4. Exploit Leverage AND Power. All three men, according to the authors, could play Judo and Sumo. Judo requires using the opponent’s strength. Gates, Grove and Jobs could each find a way to turn the strengths of their opponents into weaknesses. One notable example was Jobs’ successful negotiation with the music companies for a license to their music. Paying little attention to the tiny company (only 2 percent market share in its own industry!), the music companies negotiated an agreement highly favorable to Apple and which would be the foundation of the iTunes revolution. At the same time, the three did not hesitate to freely use their power, once they had it, to dominate their competitors, just as a Sumo wrestler uses his pure strength to dominate his opponent.
  5. Shape the Company Around Your Personal Anchor. Personally, the three men had vastly different strengths and interests. Gates was the software coding genius, Grove a precise engineer and Jobs a wizard at design. The companies they built reflected these strengths.

At their peaks, Microsoft, Apple and Intel were collectively worth $1.5 trillion. More than just business behemoths, however, these three companies and their founders changed the world, and our lives, in dramatic ways. Whether an entrepreneur dreaming of creating the next life-changing company or the manager of a multi-billion global company, any business leader should explore and adapt the lessons offered by the business practices of these three extraordinary business leaders.

Why Do Many Mentoring Relationships Lose Their Way?

Our guest bloggers today are Lois Zachary and Lory Fischler, authors of Starting Strong.

Why is it that so many mentoring relationships seem to lose their way?

We believe that we have some answers!

  • The concept of mentoring is not uniformly understood. Mentoring partners hold different assumptions about what mentoring actually means.
  • Mentees and mentors are inadequately prepared for mentoring roles and responsibilities.
  • The mentor’s role is frequently seen as doling out advice, offering guidance and dispensing wisdom.
  • Mentoring partners assume they know each other and fail to take the adequate time to build trust.
  • Relationships derail when mentoring goals remain fuzzy, and that affects the desired outcome.
  • Mentors and mentees fail to build in structures to promote mutual accountability for the relationship.
  • Only one partner is doing the heavy lifting.

Be assured there is no magic or mystique to mentoring. Mentoring requires work— work that unfolds in continuous conversation. And, not just any conversation works. While many mentor-mentee exchanges are called conversation, these so called conversations end up being a series of transactions or interactions. Mentors and mentees experience better results when they are fully prepared to engage in effective conversations.

Our research and experience demonstrates that conversations that take place during the first 90 days of a mentoring relationship are good barometers of success or failure. These conversations set the tone, direction, energy and momentum for unleashing powerful learning experiences.

We wrote Starting Strong for two reasons. First, we wanted to help people understand what really good mentoring conversation looks like in practice. Second, we wanted to address the most very basic and common questions: What does it actually look like in practice?  How do the individuals who are engaged in mentoring actually experience the relationship? What do they think about?  What do they talk about? What conversations should they engage in to build their relationship and initiate the learning process?

Our purpose was to invite readers to become armchair observers and learn some valuable lessons about mentoring from watching good mentoring practice in action over the critical first 90 days.

The mentor in Starting Strong is an experienced executive and savvy mentor. Her millennial mentee is ambitious and eager for a quick promotion. As their mentoring relationship ramps up, readers listen in as the mentoring partners engage in six essential conversations. Readers also become privy to each of their thoughts as the relationship develops over time.

The conversations help the mentee and mentor build trust, establish agreements, formulate goals, and tackle challenges that get in the way. In the process, both partners discover the importance of a well-launched mentoring relationship, the critical role of preparation, how to build a trusting, open and honest relationship, how to maximize their mentoring time, how mentors help mentees take charge of their own learning, and how to address stumbling blocks without jeopardizing the relationship. These conversations lay the foundation for a thriving, growing and satisfying learning journey.

To learn more about setting up a strong mentoring relationship, join us for our Soundview Live webinar: The First 90 Days of a Mentoring Relationship.

You Too Can Take the Stage!

“If you would like a stronger voice in discussions; if you wish to express yourself with more clarity and impact; if you want others not to interrupt you because they don’t “hear” you; if you’d liked to be assertive but not aggressive, promote yourself, be visible, speak with presence, and move your career forward by showing yourself as a confident, capable leader – if you say “yes” to any of these, then this book is for you.”                  Judith Humphrey

This book Humphrey is talking about is her latest title Taking the Stage. While the book is aimed primarily at women, the principles apply to anyone who is seeking to move up in the business world. Having the confidence to speak up in any situation takes courage and knowledge, and Humphry provides the information and techniques needed to shine.

Here are some of the things you can learn:

  • Speak up confidently, even when others don’t agree.
  • Convey your accomplishments without self-doubt.
  • Be assertive but not aggressive.
  • Deliver clear and convincing messages.
  • Move beyond “minimizing” language and apology.
  • Find your own powerful and authentic voice.
  • Achieve confident body language and a leadership presence.

If you would like to achieve this kind of confidence in your workplace, then please join us on June 9th to hear Judith Humphrey explain how to reach for this level of confidence. Strengthen your voice at our Soundview live webinar Taking the Stage. And bring your questions to post during the event.

How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter

leadershipblindspots

Good leaders become great by skillfully managing their own vulnerabilities. Leadership Blindspots is a comprehensive guide to recognizing and acting on the weak points that can impair effectiveness, diminish results and harm a career.

The blindspot risk is that leaders fail to respond to weaknesses or threats due to a variety of factors, including the complexity of their organizations, over-confidence in their own capabilities, and being surrounded by deferential subordinates. Leadership Blindspots provides a useful model for understanding how blindspots operate and why they persist, but at the same time suggests real, actionable steps to improvement. Author Robert Bruce Shaw details a range of techniques that make blindspots stand out in sharp relief, so action can be taken before severe damage occurs — to a leader or his or her company.

The one characteristic great leaders share is the constant desire for self-improvement. Good can always be better. Some weaknesses and threats are blindspots because they are invisible to the individual but have the potential to wreak havoc on one’s reputation and long-term success. Identifying and fixing crucial problems is the leader’s job, and sometimes the most debilitating problems are with the leaders themselves. Leadership Blindspots is the first step toward owning and addressing one’s vulnerabilities and, as a result, becoming a more effective leader.

IN THIS SUMMARY, YOU WILL LEARN:

  • Why blindspots and strengths often come from the same source.
  • How to balance confidence and humility in leadership.
  • The 20 most common blindspots in which leaders lack awareness.
  • How to overcome blindspots in individuals, teams, organizations and markets.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the individual title to purchase and download it right now to begin learning these critical business skills.

How to Handle the Emotionally Charged Conversation

Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Marcia Reynolds, president of Covisioning LLC.

When I teach coaching skills to leaders, someone always asks what to do if a person cries. They usually want to do something that would make the person feel worse for crying. Here are tips for effectively handling emotions that could come up during difficult conversations.

Note: Take the Rate Your Zone of Discomfort quiz to judge your ability to deal with uncomfortable situations.

What if the person cries?  

Allow people to take a moment as you calmly wait for them to signal they are ready to move on.

Crying is a natural physiological response when someone feels hurt, sad, or had expectations that weren’t met. Their reaction could result from stress or a buildup of disappointments. Generally, if you tell the person to take her time and calmly sit in silence, she will let you know when she is ready to move on (I say “she” but men cry too). If you have a tissue available, offer it. If the crying is uncontrollable, ask if they would like to reschedule the meeting but only do this as a last resort. It is always better to give the crying person a moment to recoup than to make her feel wrong for crying.

How do you react when someone gets angry?

If you stay calm and listen, their anger usually subsides.

When you sense someone’s anger, you might instantly defend yourself, getting angry in return, or you shut down. If you feel you are at risk of being harmed, you should find a way to remove yourself as soon as possible. If not, give the person a chance to vent to release the steam. Then when he starts to calm down, ask what has made him so angry and sort out what is true from speculation. Then maybe you can find some ways of dealing with the situation so he regains even a small sense of control.

What if a person or a group of people are confused or afraid?

Dig deep to find what they are afraid of losing.

Do not try to diffuse or soften their emotions; better to tell them you would like to understand what is causing the fear so you can help them move forward. What do they feel they have lost or afraid they will lose? Listen to their stories so you can discover what is holding them back. Is the loss real or speculation? What do they need so they can take one step forward? Listen first, then seek to find what will restore their confidence and feeling of significance.

Avoid judging people for their reactions. Respectfully hold them in high regard during a difficult conversation. Recall what you believe they are capable of achieving. From this perspective, you have a chance at holding an amazing conversation that could surprise both of you.

To hear more about effective ways to handle difficult conversations, join us for our Soundview Live webinar with Marcia Reynolds on May 28th: Turning Difficult Conversations into Breakthroughs.

Staying On Top of Issues That Can Make or Break a Company

We have just released our latest batch of executive book summaries, and they cover the gamut of business subjects and issues. But they do have one thing in common: they provide critical information to help you stay up on the latest issues and innovations in order to continue to succeed.

powerofthanks

The Power of Thanks by Derek Irvine and Eric Mosley

Globoforce executives Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine explain how a Culture of Recognition can boost employee engagement and loyalty, stronger teamwork, a more innovative culture, increased customer satisfaction, as well as greater profitability and organizational health. Ultimately, they show how to build a better workplace for employees.

leadershipblindspots

Leadership Blindspots by Robert Bruce Shaw

Robert Bruce Shaw helps leaders to identify weaknesses, threats and other vulnerabilities that can impair effectiveness, results and even their careers. Shaw reveals how blindspots operate and why they persist, but also provides techniques for recognizing them and taking action before they create lasting damage.

dataism

Data-ism by Steve Lohr

New York Times reporter Steve Lohr explains how big-data technology has its benefits and its drawbacks, which raises questions about the wider implications for everyone. Lohr lends insight into what’s ahead, suggesting that individuals and organizations will need to exploit, protect and manage data to stay competitive.

Not a Soundview Executive Book Summaries subscriber? Then click on the individual titles to purchase and download them right now to begin learning these critical business skills.

 

Tips From the Top

In September of 2004 Michael Feuer began writing a column for Smart Business magazine called Tips From the Top. Fred Koury, CEO of Smart Business, had invited Feuer to write the column after reading Feuer’s employee newsletter which he sent out to the staff at OfficeMax during his time as CEO of the company.

Feuer’s column includes his observations and lessons learned as the Founder and CEO of OfficeMax and covers a wide range of subjects over 10 years and more than 125 columns written. Recently, Feuer and Smart Business editor Dustin Klein collected these columns together as an e-book by the same name. The book is organized by subject and includes gems of wisdom on:

  • Managing People
  • Communication
  • Overcoming Challenges
  • Building Value
  • Innovation
  • Competition
  • Leadership
  • Customer Service
  • Evaluating Opportunities
  • Negotiating

We have invited Michael Feuer to join us on May 21st at our Soundview Live webinar entitled, of course, Tips From the Top. Join us to hear what Feuer has learned over the years as an entrepreneur, CEO, and through his more recent experiences with Max-Ventures and Max-Wellness.