Leading Your Business With Style

Looking Into Professional Website Design

Website Design

Leading people is one of the most challenging, yet profitable areas of growing your business. And a well designed website is the mark of a professional business.

Do you know the features that people look for in a business website? You can be sure that professional hosting and web design are qualities that even the most inexperienced web user can spot in an instant.

Leading The Pack

People who visit your business online now expect the best from your web presence. This is because people have gotten used to a very high standard of quality in the past few years. Advances in web design technology have enabled site builders to establish true works of digital art.

If you don’t have the expertise in leading your online presence, now is an excellent time for you to hire the services of a professional website designer in order to build your own home on the web.

Growing Your Business Online

No business can afford to do without a professional e-commerce website because a professional e-commerce website is no longer a luxury.

In the space of a very few short years, it has become an absolute necessity.

If you’re going to do business on the world wide web, you’ll need a headquarters to do it from. Once you have established your official site, you’ll need to install a web store from which to sell goods directly to the public. Without this essential e-commerce software in place, your website won’t be taken seriously as the home of a credible business.

Leading With Design

The design of your website is far more important than you might think. Perception is reality with many people. If you don’t have a website that is equipped with all of the latest bells and whistles, you can’t expect to engage the attention of a mass audience.

To avoid being overlooked, you need to adapt. The design of your website needs to be as attractive and modern as possible. Beyond the mere design, it also needs to be easy to load on every possible browser and easy for a visitor to navigate once they get there. Finally, it needs to be equipped with e-commerce features that enable them to use their credit card or Paypal account in order to purchase goods from your site.

Building the Right Team

If you want to build a great team, you need to cover all of your bases. So what should you look for in a web hosting service?

It’s never a good idea to sign on the dotted line for a service package that you don’t fully understand the contents of. There are a number of important qualities that you should look for in a web hosting services provider.

To begin with, you should make sure that all of the services and perks that your provider described to you in conversation are included in writing in the actual agreement.

Don’t sign a contract based on any promises you may have received orally.

If it isn’t set in stone in the contract you sign, your provider is under no obligation to actually deliver on anything you discussed.

Inspect What You Expect

You’ll also need to make sure that you can receive 24/7 customer service from your provider. This is an extremely important component of any deal. Armed with a solid contract, you can put up your site on the web and proceed to business. A good deal is the prelude to a profitable future.

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On Leadership and Hiring

Why Leaders Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Push Past Surface-Level Interview Questions

Interview Questions

If you’ve been in a leadership position for more than a couple of years, you’ve likely interviewed dozens of job candidates.

You know all the textbook tactics, and you’ve seen every character imaginable — from the guy wearing an Armani suit and too much cologne to the recent college graduate nervously shaking in her boots.

But you’re also smart enough to know that it’s all an act.

Performing Arts

Don’t kid yourself; you’re interviewing actors and actresses. Some candidates could win Academy Awards, while others would struggle to make the cast of a low-budget horror flick. But whether the candidate is Meryl Streep or an extra on a laundry detergent commercial, you’re interacting with a façade.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve fallen for the act in the past. Remember when you were excited about the candidate who knocked the interview out of the park, only to find out that she was a dud a month later?

So to guard yourself against this mistake, you try to be shrewder than the interviewee. You ask her sly behavioral questions, have her come in for multiple interviews, and make her take a series of tests. But unfortunately, no amount of testing will reveal the real person, especially in the artificial environment of an interview. You can’t really know whether the candidate will be a self-starting, knowledge-hungry superstar or a clock-watching D-list player until you give her the job.

So what should you do? In short, there is no easy answer. But when it comes down to it, the first step is revamping your interview process.

The Interview

Tactic You Need to Employ Right Now

What if the interview became a personal conversation instead of a casting call? What if the primary focus was on the person, not the résumé?

I’ve found a way to make this happen. I call it the “personal letter interview.” My company has been using it for four months now, and the people we’ve hired have been outstanding. Time will give us more data, but I’m convinced we’re on the right path.

Here’s how it works:

  • If you have a qualified job candidate you’d like to interview, ask her to write a letter to a loved one — a child, spouse, parent, or friend.
  • Ask her to describe both what she is proud of and what she regrets, and prompt her to tell you how she feels about where she is today.
  • Finally, have her conclude with how she envisions her future.

Keep your instructions loose; the letter can be to anyone and about anything.

Move Beyond the Surface Level

This is when the mask comes off, so be ready for some tearjerkers. The first candidate who submitted a letter to me talked about the impact of his newborn baby on his life. Another talked about how she was still hurting from a breakup 10 months after the fact.

But this process is about more than a few tears; it’s about opening the door to a deeper conversation by responding to something personal in a caring, compassionate way. And even if the letter you receive is more matter-of-fact, you’re still chipping away at the façade.

As a result, the interview becomes more of an exploration into how the person truly feels about her life, career, hopes, and dreams — and less of an exploration into her sales numbers. That’s not to say experience is unimportant, but the candidate’s experience is in her résumé.

You wouldn’t be interviewing her if you didn’t think she could do the job.

She has already met your initial screening criteria, so you might as well spend more time getting to know her personally.

Be Smart!

Still, there are a few questions that are “off the table,” so to speak. You have to guard against veering into legally unacceptable areas — anything that involves gender, nationality, social club memberships, age, or family status. That’s not what you’re after, and you can still have a meaningful conversation without diving into those subjects.

If your current process is consistently churning out less-than-stellar hires, consider the personal letter interview. You’ll feel more confident that you really know the person you are hiring, and that will positively impact your company in the long run.

And at the end of the day, I’ll take the hard working, sharp, and determined person with a high level of honesty over 20 years of experience.

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Bob La Loggia

Bob La Loggia is the founder and CEO of AppointmentPlus, a fast-growing SaaS business based in Scottsdale, Arizona. His company has won a number of awards, including CareerBuilder’s Best Places to Work award. Bob is a serial entrepreneur who’s passionate about his business and helping Arizona develop a world-class startup ecosystem.

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How to Become an Industry Leader

Tips for Increasing Your Online Exposure

Business Online Presence

It’s hard to get ahead with today’s tough competition. To position yourself as an industry leader, you need a solid online presence to prove that you’re knowledgeable.

Here are some ways to increase your exposure and earn your place as an authority figure in your field.

Get a Well-Rounded Education

If you don’t already have a college degree, consider earning a bachelor’s degree in a field that interests you. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, you might go a step further and work toward a master’s degree. However, don’t worry if a formal education isn’t in the cards. There are many options to further educate yourself using online resources.

For example, you can create accounts with popular websites such as Udemy, Coursera, and Udacity and take courses on almost any subject. Many courses are free, while some charge a fee. Instructors from reputable universities such as Columbia, MIT, and Harvard often teach the courses, lending credibility to your transcript and broadening your knowledge base.

Join an Industry Organization

Professional organizations are great resources for networking, education, and publicity. Membership often provides access to publications, webinars, conferences, and directories. Use the organization to stay on top of best practices, key influencers, business trends, and tools to advance your career.

One key benefit of joining a professional organization is the networking potential.

Local chapters often sponsor social events to unite members who live in the same city. There are usually national events for all chapters to meet and attend workshops. Local and national events are great places to network with other industry leaders and gain useful information on current industry trends.

Start a Professional Blog

Though many skeptics believe blogging is dead, a professional blog is a fantastic marketing tool. Your blog is a forum for you to provide industry insights, suggest tips for making the industry better, recommend products and educational tools to others in your field and offer a unique voice that sets you apart from your competition.

Your blog isn’t just about writing articles, however. If you have any professional accomplishments, such as certifications or publications, list them all on your website and provide corresponding links as proof. Also, add a contact page so interested clients, peers, and other business professionals can easily contact you.

Guest Write for Other Websites

Once you establish your blog, consider branching out and writing for other industry-related websites. You typically won’t get paid as a guest writer, but you usually get a byline at the end of your articles with links pointing to your website.

The byline allows you to leverage other blogger audiences and attract more readers to your site. Plus, you can reference anything you publish on your website’s publication list.

Guest writing is an easy way to get your name out and connect with other leaders.

The more you expose yourself and share your knowledge with the online community, the more you’ll stake your claim as an authority figure and establish yourself as a key influencer within your industry.

Publicize Praise From Your Biggest Fans

As your following grows, you’ll receive comments and emails from loyal followers, fellow employees and aspiring professionals. Make sure the positive feedback you receive is clearly visible on your site. You might include a testimonials page, add a sidebar with client feedback, or insert quote graphics on your biography page. By highlighting these testimonials, you lend credibility to your brand.

If you’re a business owner, be aware of online reviews from employees and clients. They can work to your advantage—or disadvantage—depending on the website’s purpose.

As an example, Fisher Investments reviews from employees can lend insight for possible hiring new candidates. ConsumerAffairs is another type of review site specifically for a corporations and whether they work in their client’s best interest or not. .

Present Yourself Confidently

Above all, hold your head up high and offer a firm handshake whenever you introduce yourself. You are your best marketing tool, and sharing your expertise is a positive when appropriate.

Create a strong online presence and share your industry knowledge on a variety of industry-related websites. Confidently help others in your field, and you’ll soon be viewed as an industry leader and expert.

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5 Professional Development Opportunities Businesses Should Offer

Professional Development

Offering useful and meaningful professional development opportunities to your staff members is one of the keys to a more effective company.

Investing in professional development may help your company avoid costly mistakes and keep your best employees motivated and increase their knowledge.

This way, it may be more likely that you’ll retain your best workers and spend less in hiring and training new staff.

5 Professional Development Tools

Here are five ways you can offer professional development choices to your staff members.

1) Collaborative Workshops

One way to help keep your employees’ skills sharp and their engagement level high is with a collaborative workshop approach to professional development. Rather than bringing in an expert to lecture for employee training sessions, try implementing a more interactive approach that allows your staff to build their skills through team sharing activities.

You can utilize your resources by helping your company’s different departments share expertise with topics like computer technology, management strategies, customer service skills, and more. You can also help foster community within the workplace by using this method.

2) Leadership Development

Next, be on the lookout for budding leaders who show promising skills that could benefit your organization’s corporate structure. Spending time on developing leaders within your company is a great way to build up your team’s supervisory skills and their own expertise in the job.

You can also look to your own backyard when recruiting for new managers instead of hiring from outside sources. Many companies find that staff members with credentials from top graduate programs, like the University of Maryland business school, demonstrate many of these leadership qualities.

3) Intern Mentoring

Another way to help get more out of your employees is with an internship program. You can partner with a university in your community, like UAB Online, and help find qualified interns who may be able to be recruited as new hires for the future.

Additionally, you can help your current staff take on new leadership duties by tapping them as intern mentors for the new class of students.

4) Online Coursework

Strong businesses also look to online coursework opportunities for employee professional development. There are many ways to bring online coursework to your staff, or you can simply encourage career growth by sharing graduate and other online classes through email or a staff bulletin board.

Some companies partner with local colleges and create low-cost courses of study that allow employees to develop new skills on the job.

5) Growth Incentives

The last method of offering professional development to your workers is through an incentive program. The most popular incentive you could give your employees for professional development is tuition reimbursement. Some companies allow workers to take a certain number of credits each year or semester and get reimbursed upon successful course completion.

Another great incentive to offer is a pay raise for employees who earn additional degrees while employed with your company.

Developing your current staff members into tomorrow’s company leaders takes some time and investment. Eventually, your time, effort, and investment dollar amount could pay off with new talent and new company ideas to help boost your organization’s profit and productivity.

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Leadership Lessons Learned From the Playing Fields

by Leah Fygetakis

Girls Rugby

When I was in college, I played on a women’s recreational touch football team.  We were known as the Iron Ovaries. Those were the days of women claiming our rightful place in being able to do whatever men could do. 

Yes, the times were changing… but have they really?

Ask yourself this question:

Are women today seen as men’s equals in their credibility and effectiveness as problem-solvers and as leaders?

You Throw Like a Girl

When this is said to a man, it is a powerful accusation that can send him back to a place of childhood shame in no time flat.  For a boy to be like a girl is to be weak.

So I ask you, how many men do you know who can easily exercise compassion in the course of their leadership?  Do examples of such behavior come to mind in equal numbers among the men and women  leaders within your network?

There is no one right answer, of course.  Likely, it is variable among fields of businessorganizational cultures, and individual differences.  But, I am curious over how we play out or preferably, move on from life’s early lessons so we can lead with a full toolbox of options.

The best toolbox is one that has a “yin” for every “yang” of behavior.  There is a time and a place when all good leaders must be able to display a “steely resolve”, and one where they must be able to exercise “gracious acceptance.”

Subtle Rebuttal

As parents, we would like to think that we are raising our sons and daughters to value who they are and to not get stuck in the traditional sex roles of yesteryear.  I am coming to recognize that this is a taller order than I thought.  It plays out in the most subtle of ways.  I have three short vignettes that show the stubborn, unconscious hold that sex role stereotypes have in how we think and act.

We are all “guilty” of stereotyping roles to specific genders. Both men and women do this even though that cognitively most of us agree that these stereotypes should have no place in business. We generally agree it is best to simply make the best use of our human capital without regard to gender. But this always doesn’t play out in a gender-neutral way.

What does this mean for the workplace when so many of us wear these blinders?  Are we unable to recognize the talent and the resources that are plainly right in front of us?

Vignette 1

I am on the soccer field and it is a very hot day.  The coach motions my 8-year-old son to the sidelines and I ask him if he would like some water.  He takes the bottle of water, but struggles to loosen the cap.  “Here, let me help you,” I say.  He ignores me and walks over to his coach, hands him the bottle and accepts his help.  Apparently, cap-loosening is a “man’s job.”

Vignette 2

I was almost always present for my sons’ baseball practices.  Often, the coaches solicited extra help from among the dads who were there.  One day, my sons and I were early and I was hitting balls on the diamond for them.  I played ball in high school.  More kids arrived and joined in.  The first coach arrived and I started to hand the bat over to him.

“Oh no,” he said, “you are doing just fine.  Keep going.”

” Why didn’t you tell me you could help?” he added.

“I guess I didn’t want to insert myself in the middle of all that good male bonding going on” I replied.

“That’s silly,” he said, “we need the help.”

I wanted to say, “Well all you had to do was ask, just like you’ve asked every dad who has been out here” (some of whom had chatted about how they had never played organized baseball). Uhhhhh…

However, rather than adding my comment I thought this would be an excellent time to exercise my gracious acceptance and say nothing.

Vignette 3

Early in my career, I taught psychology and women’s studies courses for undergraduates.  I was extremely well versed on sex role stereotyping.  During this time, I got my first pet, a weeks-old stray kitten.  Having never had pets before, I accepted the vet’s pronouncement that the kitten was male.  It was a bundle of energy and I took to rough-housing with it a lot.  It wasn’t until the kitten went into its first heat that I realized it was female.

Soon after, in the middle of a rough-housing session, I suddenly stopped.  Slowly it seeped into my consciousness that I had thought I was being too rough.  But I wasn’t being any rougher than I had been before.  The only thing that had changed was my knowledge that this was a female kitten.

It was an “Aha, I gotcha” moment in realizing that even though I was an expert on sex role stereotyping, their power still had a hold on my unconscious.  What a lesson!

Looking in the Mirror

I return to my point that even though most of us “know better,” sex role socialization and stereotypes are hard to erase in our unconscious thoughts and actions.  To counter this, for myself, this has meant building in some regular self-reflection check-ins.

I ask myself, “Would my impressions be any different if this person were the other sex?  Would I be acting any differently?”

What are your thoughts and experiences around gender, sex roles, and leadership?  How do you keep yourself aware and honest? What has stuck in your mind about sex roles that might need to be reconsidered? I’d love to hear what is going on between your ears!

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Leah Fygetakis is Founder and Principal of Directed Success
She can be reached at leahfygetakis@comcast.net

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Leadership Procrastinationitis

by Dr. Bärbel Bohr

Procrastination.jpg

Is there a prescription treatment for procrastinationitis? This is the “disease” that seemingly permeates people so that every action needs to be delayed until…. well, ….. uh,…. later, I guess?

Some Things Never Change…

I knew it would happen this way. When I sat together with my colleague Linda to prepare the quality feedback survey for our courses, I handed her over questions #1-5 to cross-check on them.

Backgrounder: [Linda was supposed to have prepared questions #6-10.]

Looking at me innocently, Linda shrugged her shoulders and showed me her most charmful smile and said:

Well, you know,” she answered while her eyes avoided to look at me: “My daughter got sick and I had to run so many chores yesterday that I couldn’t prepare the questions.”

I suggested a break and decided to get some tea from the cafeteria to cool down.

Yesterday!” she had said.

We got the assignment one week before Christmas and were at the beginning of February now! I couldn’t believe it. She could have prepared everything well in advance. Instead, we would have to do everything together now in order to keep our deadline. I felt cheated.

On my way to the cafeteria, I remembered that last year she had put up a big post-it on her desk visible to all of her colleagues and her boss:

The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. (Walt Disney)

When we saw the post-it, we all looked at each other sighing and thinking:

Well, she is giving it another try.”

Linda, a charming, witty and very creative colleague who we all cherish, is a chronic procrastinator: our cinderella of “last-minute”-stands. Two months into the new year the post-it disappeared without any further mentioning it.

“Procrastinators Anonymous”

I assume most of us, including myself, have some procrastination attacks from time to time, yet around 20% of the population suffer from the chronic form of procrastination.

My students call it “procrastinationitis.”

There is tons of material out there in form of books, blogs, self-help courses that try to help and don’t need to be repeated here. On Wikibooks you can find a comprehensive overview of available resources on procrastination.

It is a wide-spread disease, no doubt.

What Linda tried in the past, some of us may have to get inspired to do now; overcome procrastination.

  • What would you say?
  • Have you made progress?
  • Or have you already reached the slump so that you feel like giving up?
  • Is it that you, um, perhaps, are reading this blog article in order to avoid doing something else that you should do right now?
  • And now feel tempted to switch to your email because you start to feel guilty?
  • Or do you perhaps happen to know some employee of yours who has taken this resolution?

According to studies on the subject, many therapies fail because the patients are supposed to change in a way that does not suit their personality. Authors of self-help books on the topic tend to be well-structured and organized. It must be very frustrating for procrastinators to see all the plans, control patterns they are supposed to learn.

Joseph Ferrari, associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, sums this up nicely:

Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up.

Procrastination and Corporate Culture

Even though it is always one’s own decision to stop procrastination, I started to think on my way back from the cafeteria in how far we as leaders and colleagues in companies and corporations can foster the tedious process of behavioral change and make it easier for the individual to adapt to it.

After all, procrastination may cause loss of productivity because most people are not happy that they delay their activities.

I came across some suggestions for team leaders and managers in Kevin Burns’ blog that I would like to share with you.

His Top 3 list of advice contains the following items:

  1. Break down projects into digestable pieces: The shorter the deadline, the less possibility for the procrastinator to delay the work
  2. Always ask the procrastinator for the status when you see him or her and do it in public. This will help to develop reliability.
  3. If a procrastinator does not deliver on time, show consequences and pass on work to a good worker

These pieces of advice sound convincing, but I am sure they would not work in all types of corporate culture. “Forced control” mechanisms like these might lead to more sophisticated ways to achieve procrastination in the long-term and might even develop mistrust between leader and employees.

I would, hence, rather favor measures, which help the employee remain accountable for putting off the work, and avoid patterns, which require permanent interventions by the manager. Measures that I prefer see the manager or leader in the role of a temporary coach so that the employee can really find out the reasons why the work is getting delayed so very often.

A coaching relationship would be the first step to a real cure, not just fighting the symptoms. This, of course, would only work if the manager is not a messy procrastinator him- or herself. As we all know, overworked managers have a tendency to procrastinate, too.

What do you think about these suggestions? Which ones would work for you? How can you as a leader help your employees heal procrastination?

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Dr. Bärbel Bohr owns “Bärbel Bohr – Projekte mit System”
Lecturer at HSR Hochschule für Technik / Rapperswil (Switzerland)
She inspires success in leaders & students on communication & culture awareness

Email | Web |

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Billionaire Birthday

A Global Leader Turns 66

Infographic Courtesy of Frame Your TV

 

L2L Infographic: 20 Ways to Communicate Better at Work

20 Ways to Communicate Better at Work Infographic

Infographic Courtesy of Net Credit

 

Leading Your New Venture

3 Key Strategies to Sustain Your Small Business

Customer Services

You Have Customers, Now What?: 3 Key Strategies to Sustain Your Small Business

Once your small business starts picking up speed, you will want to be sure that you have the capacity to handle your growth. So, how do you continue to grow once you have gotten over the initial hurdle of attracting your first customers?

This depends on your specific business model, but it may mean hiring extra team members, outsourcing, or implementing systems that increase your efficiency. At the end of the day, it is difficult to grow and run your business at the same time.

As the head of the company, you will want to keep one hand in the day-to-day operations of your business, but spend most of your time focusing on big picture strategy in order to keep it growing.

Here are three ways that you can ensure smart, sustainable growth for your small business.

Optimize Your Website for Better Customer Service

Customer service is key to success as your small business begins to grow. Having a website that makes it easy to find out information about your products or services and contact you with inquiries will lead to better engagement with customers and more sales.

There is nothing worse than a website which has little useful product information and no way to contact the business owner.

First, the obvious: include a “Contact” section on your website, which includes a phone number, e-mail address, contact form, or any combination of the three. You may also consider including a “Get a Quote” form. This allows you to go ahead and gather useful information from a customer in order to quickly and efficiently get them a price quote.

Another great option is to add a live chat function to your website that allows customers to talk to your company directly from the web.

Outsource Your Customer Service

Once you have optimized your website to provide outstanding customer service, you will want to make sure that you have the manpower to handle the questions and quote requests that come in. Being able to answer every e-mail or phone call in a timely and friendly way is how small businesses set themselves apart from the competition.

Rather than staying up all night answering e-mails and returning phone calls, it may be more efficient to outsource your customer service. Many companies, such as Register.com, now offer what they refer to as call center plus services.

This service, unlike traditional call centers, helps small companies grow their businesses by providing customer service infrastructure for:

  • Answering e-mail
  • Conducting live chats
  • Handling quote requests
  • Handling phone calls

By letting somebody else handle customer inquiries, you will free up time to focus on further company growth.

Hire a Virtual Assistant

Finally, once your business has taken off, you will need to have someone who can take care of basic administrative tasks for you. This includes data entry, basic accounting, scheduling meetings and calls, and so on.

While you may hire someone to come work in your physical office, another great option is to hire a virtual assistant.

This type of employee comes with little to no overhead as he or she will work from a home office on a personal computer or phone. You may provide a small stipend for office supplies, but this is negligible compared to an employee who you need to set up in an office.

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On Leadership and Burning a Few Bridges

Mega Shark

Conventional wisdom tells us to never burn a single bridge in our professional lives because you never know when you might need that relationship again. 

I firmly believe that there are going to be circumstances and people that nearly require you to do this:

Burn some bridges so that you will never need to work with those people again.

That’s Right, I Said It…

I have been working for the past 35 years and have learned a thing or two in this time span. For a long time I followed conventional wisdom and did whatever it took to part ways on a positive note.  There are times when the reason I was leaving was more than a promotional opportunity, more money, or a shorter commute.

These are all the generally softer ways of giving notice.

They are often spoken in truth, but many times they are used to cover up the real reasons to avoid burning bridges.

Burning a Few Bridges

As time progressed, I thought it would improve circumstances if I shared the issues that caused me to consider other opportunities, more money, or a shorter commute.

When leaving previous jobs, I did the conventional thing and had candid conversations with Human Resources during exit interviews, explaining the challenges with processes and particular personalities that cause concern and issues in the workplace.

I have spent the past 22 years in learning development, so my core was telling me that people can’t improve until they know that there is a performance gap.

Looking back, I would say that each of those times when I was honest and doing what I thought was helpful, I burned a bridge.  I’m not talking about toasting the wood a little; I’m talking about a five-alarm fire, nothing but ashes when I left.

There was no walking back over that puppy after I was finished burning it.  The people I left never spoke with me again.

And now I am left to wonder if this is really such a bad thing?

Out of the dozen or so people who would sooner slit their throat then say hello to me, I have to be honest that it doesn’t bother me in the least that they do not care about me.

These were folks that the word ethical wasn’t even in their dictionary.  Underhanded, manipulative, rude and down-right mean are better descriptors of their personalities.

I hated working for them at the time, and after leaving I felt a rush of relief at never having to work with them again.

Although it was not my intention to burn a bridge with these people, the fact remains that I did, and the primary benefit was to never hear from them again.

A Bad Referral Backfires!

Burning BridgesWhen they say we are only separated by about six people from each other at most, (six degrees of separation), it does cause a reduction in referrals and future contacts that might cause these people to question if they should begin a working relationship with you.

Recently I suffered the opposite of that type of disconnect when someone contacted an old manager to find out what kind of training professional I am and what it would be like to work with me.

I know that this must have been this guy’s dream come true to work his magic by telling this new contact what a nightmare I would be to work with.

He said this:

“Jim is a purist when it comes to training and needs to do everything the right way.  He plays by the rules and Joan of Arc has nothing on him when it comes to ethics.  It makes it challenging to work around him because he is such a goody two shoes.”

Well thanks to these comments, I have a new client that shares my servant leadership style and ethical code.

What my old manager was trying to do was clue in his friend to how difficult it will be to work with a person like me, and at the same time selling the attributes the new client was looking for in a new working relationship.

Now I will be the first to admit this situation was a fluke.

Understanding Consequences

Most of the time when you burn a bridge with someone, that person will have a negative influence over anyone asking about you, not to mention that they will never work with you again.

When I began consulting 6 years ago I was heart-broken that a particular person wasn’t giving me the time of day or throw me a bone’s worth of business.

He was angry over my leaving because as he said, “I don’t want you to go.” 

I had a difficult time explaining why I was being called to strike out on my own and go from a reliable income to complete uncertainty as a self-employed consultant.  While financially it was not the best decision I’ve ever made, it has brought me innumerable benefits I would not have collected if I had remained.

Finding a Better Route

One of these benefits has been the realization that burning a bridge forces you to find another route.

Without the easy ability to rely on old relationships to fund my new consulting business, I was forced to find new relationships early on and not wait until after the well went completely dry.

While I might have gone along with conventional wisdom in my early working years and left no bridge unburned, I’m glad to look back at a few I burned on purpose and realize that it was for my benefit that I can no longer connect with those people again.

I’ve learned overtime that you can’t fix every relationship, nor should you try.

What bridges have you burned in the past that you are glad you did? What bridges are still in place that should have been burned down? What do you think is wrong with burning a few bridges? I would love to hear your thoughts and stories!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders
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Jim Hopkins

Jim Hopkins is the CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting
He a Consultant, Coach, Author and Speaker in Organizational & Performance Health
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