The Principles of Decision-Making

Next week will be all about decision-making at Soundview Live. Our two speakers will be talking about very different issues within the decision-making process.

Mark Hefner – The Advantage Strategy Paradigm: July 28th

In this Soundview Live webinar Mark Hefner explains the principles that can guide all executives in the decisions and actions they take related to developing, planning, and executing strategy. Principles provide a broad context for strategic action and guidelines that can be communicated and taught at all levels of the organization, eventually becoming part of the organization’s culture.

Marlene Chism – How to Increase Leadership Effectiveness: July 30th

In this Soundview Live webinar Marlene Chism introduces just the model the corporate world needs in decision making. Using case studies, checklists, and examples from various levels of hierarchy in leadership and from a variety of industries, Chism introduces the mindset shifts and practical skills needed to develop enlightened leaders, whose decision making flows from a much more grounded and aligned place.

If you want to strengthen your decision-making skills, or would like to host a decision training time with your staff, then register for these two events over the lunch-hour.

As always, these webinar are free for subscribers. And if you’re not yet a subscriber, you can Subscribe to our Online Edition for what it would cost for just these two events, and receive our summaries and a year of weekly webinars.

 

Leading with Character

What kind of character strengths must leaders develop in themselves and others to create and sustain extraordinary organizational growth and performance?

In Leading with Character, John Sosik summarizes a wealth of leadership knowledge in a unique collection of captivating stories about 25 famous leaders from business, history and pop culture. Sosik includes dozens of interesting examples, vivid anecdotes, and clear guidelines to offer listeners an in-depth look at how character and virtue forms the moral fiber of authentic transformational leadership.

The leaders Sosik observes run the gamut of society, including Condoleezza Rice, John F. Kennedy, Maya Angelou, Bill Gates, Brian Wilson, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Joe Namath, Pat Tillman, Mother Teresa, Lady Diana, Pope John Paul II, Shirley Chisholm, Governor James Hunt, Andy Griffith, Margaret Thatcher, Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, Warren Buffet, Andy Grove, Eleanor Roosevelt, Herb Kelleher, Anita Roddick, Johnny Cash, and Fred Rogers.

From his analysis of these leaders, Sosik developed a list of character traits that all leaders should develop:

  1. Wisdom and Knowledge – strengths for stimulating visions and ideas.
  2. Courage – strengths for weaving moral fiber.
  3. Humanity – strengths for developing others.
  4. Justice – strengths for role modeling.
  5. Temperance – strengths for keeping the ego in check.
  6. Transcendence – strengths for inspiring greatness.

To learn more about these character traits and how they can be developed, you can hear directly form the author at our Soundview Live webinar, How to Lead with Character. Individuals currently in leadership positions as well as aspiring leaders will find Sosik’s conversational style, fascinating stories, and practical guidelines both useful and inspiring.

Concentrate on the First 90 Days to Avoid Mentoring Missteps

Today’s guest bloggers are Lois Zachary and Lory Fischler, authors of Starting Strong: A Mentoring Fable.

Mentoring Missteps:

  • Mentors start off a mentoring relationship by drilling down on workplace issues before sufficiently establishing trust and build a solid relationship.
  • Mentoring pairs avoid difficult conversations.
  • Mentoring pairs automatically assume they each understand the need for discretion.
  • Mentees feel compelled to accept mentor recommendations, even though other issues might be more pressing.
  • Mentee goals are not be worthy of a mentor’s time and effort.
  • Goals are too easily accomplished or become a punch list of tasks and to-dos.
  • Goals are beyond the mentee’s capability or position or they don’t align with organizational priorities.

These missteps can be easily avoided if you take the time to lay a solid foundation at the beginning of a mentoring relationship, specifically during its first 90 days.

Engage in conversation. During the first 90 days mentoring partners build a trusting relationship, settle into agreements about how to work together, and focus on creating and working on SMART goals. If trust isn’t established early on, a mentee won’t be real and honest.  She may “posture” and try to look successful.  When this happens it masks a mentee’s real challenges and problems. Conversation will remain on the surface.

  • What questions can you ask your mentee to get her to feel comfortable?

 

Embed structure. Even when trust is established, partners need to put some structured agreements in place to ensure they stay on track and are productive.  Planning, agendas, timelines, confidentiality, deciding how often, where and when to meet all need to be addressed up front.  How do you handle a cancelled meeting?  How do you make the most of your time?  What are the hot buttons each person wants to avoid?  Talking about these at the beginning of a relationship increases the likelihood of mentoring success.

  • What agreements will you and your mentee need to put it place before you get started?

 

Create smart goals. Learning is the central focus of the relationship and the mentee’s goals drive that learning. If the goals aren’t specific, conversations never have a focus.  If goals are measurable, mentoring partners don’t know if they are actually making progress.  Both the mentor and mentee need to be invested in the goals. And not all goals are right for mentoring; they need to be stretch goals, they need to be worthy of the mentor’s time and effort and the energy and commitment of the mentee.  The goals need to make a difference ultimately to the mentee’s career success.

  • How will the goals your mentee wants to work on contribute to his growth and development?

 

The first 90 days are critical to mentoring success. What structures do you need to put in place to make the most of your first 90 days?

To learn more about the mentoring process, watch our recent webinar with Zachary and Fischler, titled The First 90 Days of a Mentoring Relationship.

People Are Not Widgets

“Your people are not your greatest asset. They’re not yours, and they’re not assets.”

Rodd Wagner

In his book Widgets, Wagner refers to the many terms used to codify people for business purposes, like “full-time equivalents,” “headcount,” “talent,” “human capital,” “overhead,” “inventory,” or “aprons.”

“Once people are seen as widgets – as “human resources” – it’s much easier to apply to them the kinds of Operationspeak that should be reserved for raw materials. They are “downsized,” attributed,” “onboarded,” “blended,” “change-managed,” “diversity-trained,” “e-taught,” “force-ranked,” “matrixed,” “requisitioned,” or “made redundant.”

Wagner and his researchers developed the 12 new rules of engagement to counteract this dehumanizing influence:

  1. Get inside their heads
  2. Make them fearless
  3. Make money a non-issue
  4. Help them thrive
  5. Be cool
  6. Be boldly transparent
  7. Don’t kill the meaning
  8. See their future
  9. Magnify their success
  10. Unite them
  11. Let them lead
  12. Take it to extremes

To learn more about how these new rules of engagement work in business, join us for our Soundview Live webinar with Rodd Wagner called Managing Employees As If They’re Real People. Wagner provides a guide to better understanding human nature on the job and to understanding each of the New Rules that emerged from the team’s extensive research. It’s a guide for ferreting out and fixing all the ways your company treats its people like widgets.

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.

What I’ve Learned About Being A CEO

Today’s guest blogger is Charles D. Morgan, former CEO of Little-Rock-based Acxiom Corporation, world leader in data gathering and its accompany technology. Today he leads a new tech startup called PrivacyStar. His memoir, Matters of Life and Data: The Remarkable Journey of a Big Data Visionary Whose Work Impacted Millions (Including You).

I’ve been a CEO for nearly 40 years, and whenever anyone asks me what’s the most important thing I’ve learned about building successful companies, I answer with two words: corporate culture.

Leadership is about what you do, not what you say, and a healthy corporate culture is evidence of a CEO’s leadership. Some of that evidence is physical, such as daycare centers and basketball courts and exercise rooms, three facets of the culture we created at Acxiom Corporation that contributed to our being named one of America’s “best places to work” by both Working Woman and Fortune magazines.

But while those physical amenities are nice to have, I believe it’s the more abstract parts of a corporate culture that ultimately matter most. In the late 1980s, Acxiom was growing so fast that we lost our way. We were adding so many people, and building up so many layers of management, that we were having trouble getting things done. By the time we woke up, we had 13 layers of management in a company of 400 employees.

We slashed the management structure down to three layers, eliminated corporate titles—mine became simply “Company Leader”—and got leaner and looser and quicker on our feet. By cutting all those layers of supervision we created a culture of engagement in which our “associates,” as we called our employees, were encouraged to think freely, to make mistakes, and to be as creative as possible. We actually institutionalized a philosophy stressing leadership at every level. “You manage projects, and you lead people,” became our mantra, “but you don’t manage people.” To my mind, there’s no faster way to kill creativity than over-supervision.

Our people responded exactly as I hoped they would—they stopped checking their brains at the door and started enjoying the challenges that came their way. By the end of the 1990s, Acxiom was a fully international company with 5,000 employees and $1 billion in annual revenue. I have no doubt that our success was due to our people’s new sense of freedom—of being respected, trusted, and expected to strive for excellence.

Recently I traveled to Silicon Valley, where the subject of corporate culture came up in several meetings—often in a negative context. At one tech company boasting every luxury that so often characterizes top tech firms today, the executive I met with appeared to resent his pampered young employees. Between the lines, he seemed to be saying, I hate that I have to give these spoiled people all these entitlements, but that’s what it takes to hire and keep them. To me, that seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In contrast, I also met with executives at Hewlett Packard, and they couldn’t stop talking about how Chairman and CEO Meg Whitman had “blown up” the stuffy old HP culture. They showed me the telecommunications room, a space much smaller than a typical boardroom. “This is where Meg spends most of her time,” one executive said. “She sits in here and talks with HP employees all over the world.” Now that’s how to make high-tech really work for you.

Meg Whitman’s telecommunicating reminded me of Sam Walton, whom I got to know in my early days at IBM; in fact, I made the presentation that resulted in his buying Walmart’s first computers. Even in those relatively low-tech times, Sam showed his leadership by creating a culture of interaction that became part of the DNA of his company. He would climb into his twin-engine piston airplane and fly himself from town to town visiting his growing chain of stores, walking the aisles and listening to his people. It didn’t take long for his managers to get the message, and soon Walmart had a fleet of 20-or-so planes. Every Monday morning at 7 a.m., the little Bentonville, Arkansas, airport sounded like the U.S. Air Force was getting ready to take to the skies.

To me, the lesson is crystal clear: Empowerment always trumps entitlement, and the very best CEOs work to create a healthy corporate culture of engagement with, and self respect among, their employees. That’s the kind of culture that positions a company for success.

To learn more about Charles Morgan and the use of data in today’s business world, join us for our Soundview Live webinar: The Remarkable Story of a Big Data Visionary.

Modern Day Gold Rush

The discovery of gold nuggets in the Sacramento Valley in early 1848 sparked the Gold Rush, arguably one of the most significant events to shape American history during the first half of the 19th century. As news spread of the discovery, thousands of prospective gold miners traveled by sea or over land to San Francisco and the surrounding area; by the end of 1849, the non-native population of the California territory was some 100,000 (compared with the pre-1848 figure of less than 1,000). A total of $2 billion worth of precious metal was extracted from the area during the Gold Rush, which peaked in 1852.

To accommodate the needs of the ’49ers, gold mining towns had sprung up all over the region, complete with shops, saloons, brothels and other businesses seeking to make their own Gold Rush fortune. The overcrowded chaos of the mining camps and towns grew ever more lawless, including rampant banditry, gambling, prostitution and violence. San Francisco, for its part, developed a bustling economy and became the central metropolis of the new frontier.

Fast forward to the 21st Century and a new gold rush is taking place. As Charles Morgan, author of Matters of Life and Data, puts it: “Data mining is the new gold rush, and we were there at first strike, dragging with us all our human frailties and foibles. In this book’s cast of characters you’ll find ambition, arrogance, jealousy, pride, fear, recklessness, anger, lust, viciousness, greed, revenge, betrayal, and then some.”

Morgan, the Founder, Chairman & CEO of Acxiom Corporation (NASDAQ: ACXM), world leader in data gathering and its accompanying technology, grew Acxiom from an early-stage company to an international corporation growing to $1.4 billion in annual revenue during his tenure as CEO from 1972 to 2008.

If you’d like to hear the inside story of this 21st century gold rush from one of the key players, join us on June 30th for our Soundview Live webinar with Charles Morgan titled The Remarkable Story of a Big Data Visionary. You’ll get the inside scoop of the good and bad players in the data industry, as well as learning about how this data gold rush is affecting our business and personal life.

 

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.

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.