Hey Leaders! Listening Isn’t Easy, But It’s Essential

I doubt that anyone reading this would disagree with the theme that it’s important to be a good listener to be a good leader. However, in working with leaders at all levels striving to strengthen their performance, listening skills aren’t an issue some of the time; they are an issue nearly 100% of the time.

For too many in leadership roles, either the Symphony of Brilliance (as in, “I know the answer” or, “I’m right”), or, the Symphony of Busyness (“I’ve got so much to do, don’t distract me”) playing in their minds, drowns out attempts at communication emanating from those around them.

We create our own barriers to active listening, and our performance suffers accordingly.

The Debunked Devil

Nothing, but NOTHING, replaces genuine dissent.

Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation is in the news and commentators are abuzz with speculation on who will be his successor. Also elbowing for air time is a parade of church experts describing the centuries-old traditions for selecting that successor.

While much of the selection process remains untouched, one element was dropped exactly three decades ago. Strangely, we still use it in business decisions today… foolishly I might add.

I’m referring to the Devil’s Advocate. You have likely been involved in deliberations where, close to the conclusion, someone says: “We should have a Devil’s Advocate.” The thinking is that assigning one or more people to argue against the team’s conclusion is an effective stress test that produces better decisions.

It sounds good, but it’s wrong.

Cowboy Accountants – The Lawless Frontier

No laws. No jail.

Can you imagine accountants as American cowboys of the Wild, Wild West in the 1800s? I can. And they can be dangerous. Yeehaw! Yippee-i-o-i-a!

In place of guns in their belt holsters the cowboy accountant may be carrying a smartphone. Their rodeo rope that cowboys use to catch running steers may be their audit controls manual. The cowboy accountant would like to use a red hot branding iron to mark those managers who excessively sandbag their department’s annual budget amounts, but they will resort to just remembering who those budget busters are to pester later. Cowboy accountants also wear well-shined wing-tipped dress shoes as their cowboy boots.

Expand Your Brand.

And by “Your” I mean “You.” Industries are shrinking (banking), new ones are evolving (digital media). Thirty years ago many people still thought they’d join a large company, and probably stay there their entire career. Look how that’s worked out. More and more companies are hiring contract workers for various projects, either short- or long-term…

Customer Journey Mapping – Doing It Right

How is it that great intentions of customer experience professionals oftentimes dwindle to little action or impact? Is there something wrong with the customer journey mapping methodology? Was the final map not detailed enough? Did we miss something? These factors might have made a small impact, but the real reason for the little impact has to do with the intention.

Corporate Character? Don’t you mean Corporate Culture?

What’s that you say? Corporate Character? Don’t you mean Corporate Culture?

Not necessarily.

Corporate Culture is more of a company-driven belief system. Whether it’s derived from its mission statement, is spoken, or is simply “understood,” a company’s culture describes and governs the way the company’s stakeholders think, feel, and act.

But, a Corporate Character (or Company Character) is something different. It’s a bottom-up driven approach to customer engagement.

When in Rome….

In many cases, speaking out of turn, encouraging debate, rethinking a strategy, is frowned upon, while maintaining the status quo is well received. But what happens to all these yes men when the dark clouds loom and the firm gets into a whirlpool of its own created problems and that were ignored?

Effective Ways to Create a Cynical Culture

Cynicism requires a great deal of negligence to emerge in organizations. For a cynical culture to be created, it only takes one employee to start following the proven rules that will ensure Cynicism will spread into the hearts and minds of each and every employee.

Unlike other corporate initiatives, cynicism does not require sponsorship from top executives. It does not require consensus and acceptance by all. All it takes are a few woeful leaders who will neglect their role, fail to engage employees and cynicism, and who will quickly become an essential host citizen in your corporate hallways to spread the epidemic.

Here are three ways to start spreading Cynicism: