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 Organizations, Teams, and Communities Raise Performance

FROM SCHOOLS TO BEER AND MUCH MORE

Emotional and spiritual uplift, write authors Andy Hargreaves, Alan Boyle and Alma Harris in Uplifting Leadership, is at the heart of effective leadership. “It raises people’s hopes, stirs up their passions, and stimulates their intellect and imagination,” they write. But there’s also a social and community component to uplifting people – helping people to rise above difficult circumstances, to raise their prospects, the authors write. And combining all this emotional, spiritual and social power, uplifting leaders can help people improve their performance and results, inspiring them to do better than ever before and outperform their opponents.

Both Soft and Hard

According to the authors, the process of uplifting leadership involves six interrelated factors. “Each of these factors,” the authors explain, “also exhibits some inner tensions between what people conventionally consider to be “soft” and “hard” parts of leadership and management.”

Dreaming with Determination. The uplifting journey begins by defining a dream, but that depends on determination to overcome the inevitable setbacks.

Creativity and Counterflow. Uplifting leadership inspires creativity that often goes against the mainstream.

Collaboration with Competition. Part of the counterintuitive approach of uplifting leadership is the willingness to collaborate with actual and potential competitors.

Pushing and Pulling. Team members are going to push each to accomplish more, to meet above-normal expectations. But they will also support each other, helping those who have fallen down or behind, as they are all united by a common purpose.

Measuring with Meaning. As the authors write, “Uplifting leadership makes extensive use of data to manage and monitor progress but also uses data intelligently in ways that fit the values of the organization – and that are meaningful to and genuinely owned by the people who work there.”

Sustainable Success. Uplifting leaders are focused on success, but at the same time they want that success to be sustainable.

The authors are academics and consultants in the field of education policy, and several examples involve the amazing turnaround of school districts and education systems in the U.S., U.K. and Finland. For example, the school district of Hackney, a northeast London borough and one of the most disadvantaged communities in England, makes a compelling case for the power of collaboration with competitors. Taken over by a nonprofit company, the district is divided into the U.K. equivalent of charter schools. The charter schools are not independent islands, however, but work closely together so that students in all schools succeed. The authors detail how the experience of one successful principal taking over a second school that was failing evolved into a system of school-to-school networks called federations.

The authors move beyond education for most of the detailed case studies that pack their chapters. One example is of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, one of the most successful craft breweries in the U.S. Dogfish exemplifies counterintuitive creativity through its decision to put ingredients in its ales that, write the authors, “were inconceivable in mainstream beers.” The brewery also collaborated with one of its major competitors to create an alternative beer. Finally, Dogfish illustrates the foresight of sustainable success, having refused venture capital to avoid too much debt.

The authors present an inspiring picture of leadership. It all starts with a dream, but success is built on hard work, determination and the courage to do the unexpected.

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Be Bold and Win the Sale

Jeff Shore thinks we’re addicted to comfort. When it comes to selling, we avoid the uncomfortableness of the situation and this leads to less sales. Jeff’s answer – be bold!

“My goal is to help you develop a skill of boldness, knowing that boldness takes us to places that an addiction to comfort forbids us to travel. The challenge is yours if you are up to it, but in won’t be easy. Get it right, and it will change your world and the world of those around you. Be bold . . . and we’ll journey together to the height of your potential.” Jeff Shore

So how what does Jeff provide that can take you from comfort to boldness? Here is what he promises in his book Be Bold and Win the Sale:

•How to figure out exactly what inhibits you
•Why you make certain decisions in moments of discomfort
•How to train your brain to prepare for uncomfortable moments
•How your customer’s own discomforts affect his or her purchase decisions

If you would like to learn how to be bold in sales and in other areas of your life, join us on September 16th for our webinar by the same name, Be Bold and Win the Sale. Jeff will take you through the steps from comfort to boldness, including self-assessment tools, hands-on exercises, and case studies showing his methods in action.