Becoming YOUR Best, Not Someone Else’s

Is your company a mediocre company or an exceptional company? Today, the difference between mediocre and great is the difference between success and failure. So what exactly does it take to be exceptional?

No surprisingly, Steve Shallenberger says that business success starts with ourselves – with becoming our best. But he also says that becoming your best is not about comparing yourself to another person. It’s about becoming your best.

In Becoming Your Best: The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders, Shallenberger reveals simple and entertaining ways to harness the power of these 12 principles. You discover how to make communication easier and clearer, live in greater peace and balance, more persuasively lead others with an inspiring vision, and how to embrace change—not fear it.

Shallenberger divides his principles into three thematic sections—Transformational Leadership, Transformational Teams & Relationships, and Transformational Living:

Transformational Leadership
• Be True to Character
• Lead with a Vision
• Manage with a Plan
• Prioritize Your Time

Transformational Teams & Relationships
• Live the Golden Rule in Business and Life
• Build and Maintain Trust
• Be an Effective Communicator
• Innovate Through Imagination

Transformational Living
• Be Accountable
• Apply the Power of Knowledge
• Live in Peace and Balance
• Never Give Up!

If you would like to learn more about these 12 principles, then you’re invited to join our Soundview Live webinar: How the BEST Leaders Ignite Energy and Fuel High Performance. This webinar will be packed with advice, tools, and examples for turning your thoughts into action, motivating yourself and your people, inspiring teams to solve problems creatively, and building the life you’ve always dreamed of.

You can also post questions directly to Steve during the webinar. We hope your will join us on March 10th and begin the journey to becoming your best.

Motivating the Rest to Be Like the Best

What would it mean to you and your organization if everyone became as good as your star performers? Everyone would be aligned in working toward something important, a compelling collective purpose. Everyone would believe their teammates had the commitment and skills to achieve it. Organizations filled with this kind of energy are great places for their people and for the bottom line.

William Seidman and Richard Grbavac believe that this is possible and they point to Affirmative Leadership as the answer. Affirmative Leadership is a scientific, proven methodology for creating leadership programs that are based on each company’s own unique strengths and needs.

In The Star Factor, Seidman and Grbavac describe four phases to implement affirmative leadership in any company:

Phase 1: Discover – find out what your stars do that makes them successful.
Phase 2: Prepare – use what you learn from your stars to develop a training plan for everyone else.
Phase 3: Launch – start using this training program to instill the same passion that your stars possess in all employees.
Phase 4: Guided Practice – use the training for long-term internalization of these successful practices.

To learn more about affirmative leadership and how to make all of your employees stars, join us on February 26th, for our Soundview Live webinar with William Seidman and Richard Grbavac, Discover What Your Top Performers Do Differently. Perhaps you can invite your stars to the meeting to bring them in on the concept from the start.

What Goes Wrong In Groupthink?

Two heads are better than one, according to the old saying. So why are groups with lots of “heads” known for making bad decisions? Why does “groupthink” immediately connote ineffectiveness and mistakes?

These questions are answered in a fascinating new book called Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter, written by Cass R. Sunstein, a former White House official, and Reid Hastie, an academic specialized in the psychology of decision making. Building on their combined experiences and research, Sunstein and Hastie dissect what goes wrong in group decision-making, then offer clear-cut solutions to overcome these problems.

Group decision-making involves discussions among members of a group, each with their own skills, experience, ideas and information. Unfortunately, as the authors explain, there are two types of influences on group members — informational signals and social pressures — which skew the deliberations. Informational signals cause people to keep information to themselves when it contradicts information from others, especially leaders. Social pressures cause people to keep information to themselves to avoid punishment, for example, the disapproval of leaders who are contradicted.

These influences lead to four problems, the authors write: Instead of correcting the errors of their members, groups actually amplify those errors (e.g., the leader’s mistaken conclusion is validated by the group); cascade effects take over when the group follows whomever spoke first or loudest; groups become more polarized, that is, more extreme in their sentiments, as the internal discussions reinforce their predisposed thoughts; and groups focus on shared information (what most people know) instead of unshared information — the information known only by a few individuals.

Having laid out the core problems, the authors offer solutions. They begin with a list of methods aimed at counteracting the four core problems, such as

Leaders have to keep quiet and convince group members that they sincerely want to hear all ideas.

Group success (not individual success) should be rewarded. Group members must understand that if the group is right, everyone benefits; this will encourage them to ensure that they find the right answer rather than pushing their own ideas.

Group members should be assigned specific roles (for example, one person is the medical expert, another the legal expert), thus ensuring that everyone contributes.

Either individuals or assigned teams (known as red teams) should be tasked with acting as devil’s advocates.

Groups also fail, the authors write, because they don’t distinguish between the “sloppy” early rounds of deliberations, in which all ideas must be allowed on the table, and the final rounds of deliberations, in which groups must be tight and analytical as they seek the precise solution. Successful groups will deliberately separate the two processes.

In another approach, the authors demonstrate that the wisdom of crowds (making decisions based on the average or majority of large crowds of people) will often lead to the right answer if a majority of crowd members know their material. Decision-makers often prefer to rely on one single expert, but “chasing the expert” significantly reduces the probability of getting the decision right.

Wiser is a quick, engaging and thoughtful read that compellingly argues that, with a few simple steps and open-minded leadership, group deliberations can, indeed, lead to wiser decisions.

A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office

FROM THE CORNER DELI TO THE CORNER OFFICE

In Winners Dream, SAP CEO Bill McDermott describes his journey from his blue-collar roots in Amityville, New York to becoming CEO of the largest business software company in the world. Unlike many CEO books, Winners Dream is structured not as a book of lessons but as a straightforward chronological autobiography — although nearly every page is infused with business wisdom told through compelling stories.

Know Your Customer

One of the earliest business lessons McDermott offers comes from when McDermott is not even out of high school. When the small deli where he works is emptied out by robbers, the owner decides to sell what is now just a shell. McDermott, with help from his parents and after talking down the price, buys the tiny store, stocks it and starts hunting for customers — not an easy task with the competition of two major convenience store chains within a few blocks. “I was David amidst Goliaths,” McDermott writes. “What, I thought, did I have that the Goliaths did not? What could my little deli give people that 7-Eleven and Finast could not?” To get the answers to these questions, McDermott realized he had to ask another question: “Who is my customer?”

The young high school businessman determined that he had three types of customers: senior citizens from a nearby senior home, local blue collar workers and high school kids hanging out after school. For the seniors, many of whom did not like to leave their homes, McDermott set up a delivery service. For the blue-collar workers, many of whom were paid on Friday and broke on Sunday, he set up a credit system — they could buy on credit during the week but had to pay with the next Friday paycheck. For the high school students, he offered something exceedingly simple: they could all go in the store. At that time, the major chains only let students in the stores in small groups because of the fear of stealing. Thus, McDermott writes, kids with money in their pocket were forced to wait out in the cold.

McDermott’s high school experience offered him a clear lesson: To succeed in business, you must give your customers what they want — and that means you must know what they need. It was a lesson that would guide him when he had moved far from the corner deli.

Drive and Empathy

A successful retailer even in high school, McDermott was clearly born with a fine business acumen. But he also inherited a very strong work ethic from his parents and was driven by ambition and confidence. When he applied to Xerox and was told that HR would be contacting him with a response, McDermott asked the last interviewer to hire him on the spot instead — which he did.

For McDermott, passion, planning and confidence are key success factors for a business career. But perhaps even more important is empathy — understanding the needs of the people you sell to and you work with. It was empathy that made his small deli a success during high school, and when in 2010, as SAP CEO, he was working on a new strategy to strengthen the future of the largest business software company in the world, the questions he asked are surprisingly similar: Who exactly are our customers, and what do they want? For SAP, customers were any possible end users of technology. And what they wanted was compatibility with multiple mobile devices and access to cloud computing — and those are the areas in which SAP would move forward.

Winners Dream is subtitled A Journey from Corner Store to Corner Office. It is a journey that illustrates, with every step, inspirational business guidance and solid leadership lessons for anyone striving for a similar journey in their lives.

How to Become an Expert Negotiator

You may be a high-ranking CEO or a first day salesman, a service provider or self-employed. If you face encounters with your partners, clients, suppliers or employees, in which you want them to think differently at the end of the meeting and actually do what you want – our next Soundview Live webinar is for YOU. The objective of this webinar, How to Become an Expert Negotiator with Daniel Weiser, is to improve your negotiation skills and to move you one step closer to closing your deal.

Here are 27 Negotiation Tips from Weiser’s book Become An Expert Negotiator:
#1: Ask about the other’s reference point at the beginning of the interaction.
#2: Find out if you’re both in the same “ballpark.”
#3: The status quo effect is the “mother” of many objections.
#4: Lower the perceived risk.
#5: State your purpose in order to lower the firewall.
#6: Don’t talk about a certain topic – before you know the other party is interested to listen about it.
#7: Don’t wait for an anticipated rejection – vaccinate against it.
#8: Adjust your communication style to that of your counterpart.
#9: Address what the term “partnership” means to your business partner.
#10: Pierce the firewall through Aikido.
#11: Don’t tell the other side what he will gain – ask him to speak about it.
#12: Establish that the deal is “fair” according to external objective criteria.
#13: Reframe the interpretation of the situation.
#14: Elicit statements that can later be used to support your position.
#15: Indicate others who made the same decision as the one requested in this negotiation.
#16: Use the rule of comparison often.
#17: It’s not about being nice – it’s about being similar.
#18: Be the first to give something.
#19: When you concede on an issue – request something in return.
#20: The foot in the door.
#21: Limit the time to respond to an offer.
#22: Present the upside potential, but also the downside of rejection.
#23: Feel successful and radiate it.
#24: Be specific about your references and success indicators.
#25: Talk about the fears of relevant others.
#26: Fulfill your negotiation partner’s needs and keep quiet about achieving yours.
#27: Sometimes, simply ask for help.

If you would like to hear more about these tips, join us on January 29th and bring your whole sales team. As we know, every little improvement in our negotiation skills could be the difference between getting the sale or not.