Leadership and Truth Found in a Comma

Commas

I just lost thousands of dollars because of a punctuation mark. A comma, of course.

Yes, a simple comma cost me much in a legal case.

The Little Stuff Counts

The Story of a Comma

Excited to move my business practice ahead, a contract was on my desk to sign. The agreement to hire and gain more sales was attractive. I was thinking this was a legitimate proposal and was not thinking that it might be a scam.

I looked over the contract and read the expectations that the service would be rendered without any hitches. I was eager to move the business forward. The contract was simple, just a couple of pages, and did not seem to need any more proof reading.

Flash Forward

Now, three months later, I am listening to the voice of the court clerk asking me to read the name of the business that had not kept its agreement and had been over paid for services not rendered.

  • I read the name.
  • Again, I read the business name.
  • A little confused, I read the business name once more.
  • The court clerk, asked me again to read the name of the business.
  • Again, I read the name.
  • What was I missing?
  • The court clerk then asked me if I could see the comma?

I looked carefully at the corporate register’s search document and saw that a small comma in the business name was visible.

What Did That Comma Mean?

A Stupid, Stupid Comma

The comma was a part of the business legal name and when the comma was left out of the Affidavit of Service it would cause the case I was filing nullified. A little item like a comma could play a significant part in the outcome of the complaint I had. A little object, like a comma could cost me thousands of dollars.

Few businesses use a comma in their name and surprised I  learned the comma was a ‘red flag’ to the court clerk. For me, it was not something I had expected. This made me realize that lies are often subtle and rarely expected.

A small comma is like a small lie. It can seem insignificant but have multiple impacts. The comma could have stopped the legal process. The comma could have prevented justice. The comma could have …blah, blah, blah…

A Comma in a Business Name

The legal name of the parties involved in a contract is a very important consideration. A small oversight such as a comma in the legal business name can nullify a court proceeding. To make sure that the document is correctly written, a corporate profile search undertaken at a registry office.

This double-checks that the legal name matches the contractual agreement. If a civil court case ensues this documentation is helpful. Some companies know a case loses because of this small oversight, so do the research before going to court.

How Prepared are You When Signing Contracts?

Your Ethical Journey

Business leadership is an ethical journey but sometimes unethical people lay snares that entangle and cause serious disruptions in the day-to-day operations. Therefore, contracts are an important source of truth and writing one carefully can save future misunderstandings, reduce operational headaches and risk.

All written contracts should make sure that both parties are evenly and fairly represented. The contract is a binding document that is easily to interpret and to follow.

Leadership and Truth in a Legal Agreement

Legal clauses are crucial in interpretation from what the contract states to meaning from the words written. The contract states and clarifies short and long-term commitments. The legal clause are found in change in control agreements, publishing agreements, speaking contracts, etc.

Legal clauses are disclaimers, non-disclosure statements and business-marketing strategy agreements.

Understanding detailed legal statements requires expertise beyond the scope of this blog; however the point that legal jargon is relevant and important for leaders is critical.

Truth in a legal contract is a trust that extends to both parties of the agreement. The buyer and the seller in a contract want to gain from the relationship. Neither expects the other to defraud. However, fraud results as the outcome of side-stepped truth.

So, just like the comma is a ‘red flag’ to keep in mind to prevent possible snares documentation is also important.

Solidify Your Business Contract

Documentation is the single biggest reason projects succeed. To write successful contracts include statements that are meaningful and understandable.

The following sentence will show a good deliverable.

Target decision makers called without allowing no downtime in the campaign.

The following sentence will show a better way to write a good deliverable.

Target decision makers have a website that is under performing with a page rank of 0-3; and furthermore allowing no downtime in the campaign hours between 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM on weekdays.”

Good Leadership Documents Outcomes

The best way to decide if the contractual agreement works is to document outcomes.

Create a spreadsheet to track the obligations of the buyer and the seller; such as, the date, name and deliverable in the contract on the spreadsheet.  Documentation of calls, emails, personal and business meetings recorded give evidence.

In the following contract, three key questions see whether excessive downtime caused problems in the campaign.

“Target decision makers have a website that is under performing with a page rank of 0-3; and furthermore allowing no downtime in the campaign hours between 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM on weekdays.”

  • Were the decision makers called?
  • Did the campaign run on the expected hours?
  • If a website was under performing did they get help?

This documentation of outcomes reduces anxiety and measures expectations realistically.

Truth is justified when seen with evidence. For example, get the evidence that your website is not under performing with critical web analytics today. Gain confidence knowing your management and leadership performance with executive video assessments. Documented outcomes are how leaders can solidify their businesses.

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Q: So then, what documented outcomes do you value?

A: Please post your comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Loreen Sherman

Loreen Sherman is CEO of Star-Ting Inc | Executive Coach | Sr. Mgmt. Consultant
She serves clients with a 3-D Analytic Assessments and Succession Planning
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Corporate | Booking | ☎ 
403.289.2292

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On Leadership Styles, Philosophies and Where You Live

Infographic brought to you by Brighton School of Business and Management

How to Be a Rock Solid Leader

Rock Solid Leader

The en masse exodus of Baby Boomers alarms some in the business community as retirement encroaches. Varying reasons exist for the multiple reactions to retirement. The energized and ready can’t wait to quit the daily pace of dutiful work obligations in exchange for a more relaxed pace. Others are uncertain, wary and intimidated about this forthcoming season in their lives. 

The question arises, how do you stay a rock solid leader after retirement?

Leadership Validation Is a Core Process

Before a leader can navigate his retirement, an important and often overlooked step is the leadership validation process. This is the process of confirming that a job was well done. Meaningfulness becomes increasingly important as one becomes more experienced.

A rock solid leader who validates the claims of leadership manifested in the working years gains more assurance and is emotionally ready for the exit.

For many, this validation is unnerving:

  • How do they know if they were meaningful?
  • How do they know the caliber of their followers?
  • Or, what is the caliber of their potential successor?

The validation for leaders of core competencies is critical in all phases of the business and personal life cycle and increasingly important near retirement. This translates into core validation being essential from the first interview to the exit interview.

At my firm, we have found that we can confirm core competencies better with 3-D assessments and our clients gain a competitive advantage. This approach provides a much more realistic understanding of the leaders and how best to go ahead.

Leadership Validation

Essential for Rock Solid Leadership

Executive coaching, leadership assessments and evaluations and performance reviews are often the tools used by consultants to help investigate and test the leader’s hard and soft skills. The typical pen and paper approach has brought in results; but limited insights.

A better approach is the 3-D assessment that utilizes video as the main medium.

How to Be a Rock Solid Leader

Under pen and paper, the list of questions is often answered individually. Each response comes from how the leader sees themself. This self-evaluation is a good tool but limited. The way others view a person is critical. First impressions are important. Therefore, undergoing a comprehensive assessment is a better approach.

What variables validate core leadership competencies?

Peer evaluations have often been used to check the team or the leader. The problem is that they are often subjective and not good evaluations. So, the first key in gaining a tier-one evaluation is to make sure that the person diagnosing the skills is not a part of the team or related to the company. An outsider’s objectivity provides a level of analysis that cannot be attained by co-workers.

So this begs the question:

What leadership skills should you get assessed?

Leadership Potential

New and Underdeveloped

The skills gaps in the rise of new leadership is an increasingly challenge for many companies. The new enthusiast wants to lead well, but often lacks the knowledge that comes with hands-on experience. Thus, two categories of skills exist and assessed in a comprehensive leadership skills assessment to confirm core competencies.

Technical Gaps:

  • Computer
  • Engineering
  • Mechanical
  • Electronics
  • Math
  • Computer Programming

Interpersonal Skills:

Certain aspects of leadership depend on qualities – often subtly displayed – that others perceive someone to have. Leadership awareness of soft skills can be difficult to assess, so an effective way requires an in-depth probing and understanding to check core competencies.

This type of “deep-dive” assessment observations and resultant data explain feedback with a higher level of accuracy.

  • Critical Thinking
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Active Listening
  • Sales Techniques

In fact, many qualities are visible with 3-D analytics; thus increasing the effectiveness of each assessment. Now, you can know if you are a rock solid leader.

A Twist in the Leadership Validation Process

Many companies have focused on leadership development and training for the newbie. However, this is only a partial solution. 3-D analytics work for senior management too.

Good companies know the value of their human capital; the experiences of a mature leader adds wisdom to the organization.

Increasingly, the en masse exodus of senior management has upper management more aware of the knowledge loss with retiring senior management. The challenge is to capture and assimilate the knowledge of these retiring seniors. Their successes are what make a leader rock solid.

Rock Solid Leader Plans

The cycle of a leader begins with initiation into authority and continues until retirement. Throughout the business cycle a good leader should confirm his or her core competencies to strengthen weaknesses and strengths. A

potential leader is usually provided training and guidance to increase his skills. An experienced leader, yes, a rock solid leader guides others to maturity. Thus, the question becomes for a company how to keep the knowledge of a rock solid leader?

Succession Planning

Continuity of leadership is a challenge. This is one reason succession planning is fruitful. Succession planning helps find new leaders and explores ways to capture the knowledge of the predecessors.

  • How well is your company positioned to transition its rock solid leaders?
  • Has your company started its 5-year succession plan, yet?
  • What steps are missing to getting your plan on paper and into action?

I share effective succession planning to help prepare executives, leaders and management with programs for custom exit strategies that validate core competencies.

Q: So then, what is the best way to find a rock solid leader?

A: Please post your comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Loreen Sherman

Loreen Sherman is CEO of Star-Ting Inc | Executive Coach | Sr. Mgmt. Consultant
She serves clients with a 3-D Analytic Assessments and Succession Planning
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Corporate | Booking | ☎ 
403.289.2292

Image Sources: sustainable-leaders.com

Dealing with Nasty People Who Undermine You

Have you ever come across colleagues, coworkers, or “frenemies” who undermine you?

Or worse, have you had this happen to you and not even know that it was happening?

And how might you know if someone is working under-the-radar to cause you harm?

Understanding Sabotage

My intuitive senses are quite developed, but even for me it takes a few instances to figure out that someone is undermining me. Why? Because it is done in a subtle or gradual way and it often comes from people who you wouldn’t suspect such a thing.

These people could be your close friends or co-workers with whom you often hang out.

Most of the time undermining is done in a subtle way, but in other times it could be obvious. When it is subtle, it can be slipped in as a disguised compliment. You are left confused whether you were being complimented or slighted. It is only after a few repetitions that one figures out that they are being undermined.

So What’s Going On?

I am not a psychologist, but as far as I can tell, the following could be some of the reasons why people undermine others:

  • They genuinely believe that they are better than you. By undermining you, they are validating their beliefs to themselves and it makes them feel better.
  • Life is a competition for some people. I tend to think there are two kinds of competitive people. Some are too busy achieving and then there are others who seem to think that success is limited. When they see someone else’s success, to them it means their failure and therefore they try to undermine others in order to feel superior. In my humble opinion, I believe that success is unlimited. Moreover, success means different things to different people. One person’s success doesn’t mean other person’s failure. Aren’t we all on our own life path?
  • Co-workers may try to undermine you in order to get ahead or if they perceive you as boss’ favorite.
  • Some people feel that they haven’t gotten their dues in life. When they see someone who has gotten success easily, they may undermine their success.

Causing Harm

I have stated some of the reasons above and I am sure there are other reasons for which people may justify undermining others. However, it is a very negative experience for the person who is being undermined.

There is really nothing tangible to be gained from such an experience except for frustration and a bad taste in the mouth.

The person being undermined is often left with a confused feeling about his friend or co-worker and might also start thinking “What did I do wrong?” The fact is that he didn’t; the fault lies with the person who is undermining. It has probably become a habit with them and they do it subconsciously.

Dealing With Undermining People

In order to deal with undermining people, the best strategy is to ignore their opinions and not let that affect you. After all, they are undermining you because they think they are being heard or have a say.

Perhaps you gave their opinion of you a little too much weight in your life. Once you take that power away from them, they will likely stop or find someone else to undermine. T

his might be easier said than done but it is a good solution to walk away from a negative situation. Clearly such coworkers or fr-enemies are not adding any value. Instead they are trying to erode your self-esteem and in the process self-serving their own false beliefs.

So have you ever been a victim of work place sabotage? what did you do about it?  Or have you been guilty of doing this yourself? Why did you do this? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Aditi Chopra
Aditi Chopra is an experienced leader in the software industry
She is a consultant, writer and a leader
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Visionary Leaders Squeeze Their Creative Juice Every Day

Creativity is vital for leaders in a rapidly changing world. But as a leader, do you have those days when you wake up feeling dull and nothing creative seems to come to mind?

You’re tempted to retreat into the mundane and routine just to get the day over and done with.

Forcing Creativity

Maybe you do manage to pick a subject and try to bludgeon some creativity out of your brain.

  • Which subject to go for?
  • In which direction to travel?
  • What will my new creation look like?

It all seems too much like hard work to me. You’re tired and uninspired. You eventually accept it,  but now what? How do you get new creative ideas to flow from your mind?

A Creative Energy Crisis

The visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world.” ~ Malcolm Gladwell

Can we be creative only when we’re energised? I hear you saying something like this:

When I’m tired I have no energy and I feel incapable of raising the effort. Everything I want to think about just asks too much of me. Without energy how can I possibly come up with anything creative or useful?

Why would you expect to be a full-on high energy creative person every day? There are going to be days like this one. Should you retreat, lick your imaginary self-indulgent wounds and sit in a corner.

If you can crack this challenge you will not be a prisoner of “tiredness.” Luckily there is plenty you can do.

“Creativity is an act of defiance” ~ Twyla Tharp

How Creative Are You?

In a great TEDx talk by John Paul Caponigro, he tells us “You are a lot more creative than you think you are” and gives great ways to trigger our creativity.

The direction you want to take is entirely your decision

Steps To Juicing Your Creative Mind

A key message of John’s is to become childlike again.

  • First release the pressure.
  • Just mess about with “stuff.”
  • Aim nowhere in particular.
  • It doesn’t matter where you start or finish.
  • Have faith, something will develop out of the mist.
  • Keep playing and it will crystallize.
  • The stuff you throw away today might be useful another time, so keep brief notes.
  • Scratch away until things gel, and then focus down on the specifics.
  • Then analyse and introduce your mental editor.

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” ~ Erich Fromm

“Scatching” and Keeping the Good Stuff

Twyla Tharp dancer and choreographer spends many hours in rehearsal, playing with steps and poses, throwing away most of her work but keeping the really good things. She coined the term “scratching.” If it’s good enough for her it’s good enough for me, and you.

Remarkably, energy appears as if by magic driving yet more creativity.

Triggering creativity is about letting the juices flow and revealing the gifts spontaneously. You cannot force it. Next harness and develop your new creation.

My formula for scratching is PTP – Place, Time and Permission.

  • Place – Find a place conducive to scratching. (e.g. a favourite coffee shop, jogging and crucially for teams an agreed thinking space).
  • Time – Give yourself sufficient time. Scratching shouldn’t be rushed.
  • Permission – Give yourself (and others) permission to put aside time to scratch. This time is valuable and not wasted; it’s the golden time which generates the most creative elements of our lives and our work.

Can I add a couple more P’s: patience and persistence?

The Creative Environment

In his brilliant study of the environment of creativity Steven Johnson describes in his video at the top of this post how many great inventions or intellectual leaps have required decades of patient development.

The great ideas often involve the collision of multiple smaller concepts and observations.

He also proposes that creativity is a product of chance and that “chance favours the connected mind.” We are all more connected than ever before which is a good thing. Our challenge is to prevent being distracted by the dross. We need to scratch purposefully to find the hidden gold.

Follow the Leaders

Finally, if this creative process is good enough for the leader it must be good for everyone who follows. The creativity of an organisation will be magnified many-fold if you create a connected physical and cultural environment.

Chance will then favour this highly connected authentically aware creative crowd.

“The things we fear most in organizations—fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances— are the primary sources of creativity.” ~ Margaret J. Wheatley

Action Plan

Your Actions Today

  • Find a Place, assign Time and give yourself Permission to scratch.
  • Let thoughts come and go – don’t concentrate on anything in particular.
  • Play around with ideas and make notes. Is it good for today or tomorrow?
  • Notice how you feel before, during and afterwards.
  • During and at the end of today make notes on what you observed and felt.

Recommended reading

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
 Gary Coulton

Dr Gary R Coulton is CEO of Adaptive Intelligence Consulting Limited
He empowers leaders to release their Adaptive Intelligence
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On Leadership, Playing Sports and Achieving Business Excellence

I have long recognized the strong correlation between having a history of playing sports and success in business.

And as a general rule, I have found this link to be remarkably evident in females.

Having competed in sports as a child and competing in the business world today, I know firsthand how valuable the experiences gained in sports can be.

On “Sporty” People

As a hiring manager, I often favor candidates who played team sports or engaged in other competitive activities in their youth. I find that the skills they honed on the “playing field” were often the very same that propelled them to the top of their game in business.

The most prominent skills are:

  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Perseverance
  • Discipline
  • Sportsmanship
  • Time Management
  • Grit
  • Punctuality

In my experience, “sporty” people are taught to stay focused on their goals. They have the motivation to continue following setbacks, and they know that success takes hard work.

Just the Facts

I recently found two studies that validate my experience and underscore the fundamental role that participation in sports plays in developing female leaders.

The most recent data is from a global survey commissioned in 2013 by the professional services firm Ernst and Young. This survey found that 96% of women in the “C-Suite” played sports at some level while growing up.

These survey findings are consistent with an earlier study conducted in 2002 by the mutual fund company Oppenheimer. The Oppenheimer study revealed that 82% of women in executive-level jobs had played organized sports after elementary school, including school teams, intramurals or recreational leagues.

It’s Not Too Late

If you didn’t play team sports as a kid, it’s not too late.

The study also showed that businesswomen exercise and play sports significantly more than the general population of women. Two-thirds of women business executives exercise regularly, which other research would show is close to double the proportion for the general population of women.

The data is clear and that is this:

Being sporty not only helps women succeed in business, it sends them straight to the top.

On Playing Sports

Consider the benefits of playing teams sports:

  • Teamwork:

Team sports teach athletes how to cooperate with others to achieve a common goal. Being able to work productively with a team is critical to achieving success in business. Being able to work on a team is a crucial part of my hiring process.

  • Goal Oriented:

As an athlete, you are always looking to improve your performance. It may be to run further, faster or lift more weight. Employers need workers that will work hard to accomplish their goals and continually “raise the bar.”

  • Perseverance:

Athletes learn that if you get knocked down, literally and figuratively, you can pick yourself up and keep going. People that persevere in business, work hard to hold themselves and others responsible for achieving business objectives. They don’t let obstacles get in their way.

  • Time-Management:

Child athletes learn at a young age how to balance school, homework and athletics. Employers desire efficient workers that are self-motivated and stay on task.

  • Competitive & Assertive:

Competitive activity teaches the importance of winning and bouncing back after losing. Engaging in competitive activity as a child may help women learn that it is acceptable to compete aggressively.

The “Ginormosity” of it All

Clearly, the value of engaging in physical activity throughout you’re your lifetime is enormous.

Hiring managers consider the benefits of hiring candidates with strong competitive and/or sports backgrounds? Individuals with a sports background, consider the skills you have gained and use them to help you garner success in business.

So did you play sports growing up? If so, what lessons did you learn that have helped you in business and in life? How has this background benefited you and those you lead? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————
Dee (Wolfe) Mahoney

Dee Mahoney is Founder and President of Career-Lessons, LLC
Dee is an Executive Coach and a Leadership Trainer
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog

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When You’ve Fallen and You Have to Get Up

I was collaborating with a colleague this week on a session he’s doing with the senior leadership team of his company to identify the critical qualities they need in leaders for the future.

In the process, I came across General Stanley McChrystal’s TED talk on leadership.

It’s great. It could be a model for how to craft a leadership message.

Real Leadership

It starts with a personal story about jumping out of an airplane, landing hard and falling down. It includes self-deprecatory humor, shows vulnerability, gives meaning, connects to the future, and winds back to the beginning with a powerful call to action.

When you fall, says General McChrystal this:

“If you’re a leader, the people you’ve counted on will help you out. And if you’re a leader, the people you’ve counted on need you on your feet.”

It’s a great statement of how leadership is the opposite of victim mentality or being caught up in fear.

  • If we’re thinking like victims, we’re stuck to a self having a problem.
  • If we’re caught up in fear – the very words suggest it – we’re snagged or stopped.
  • The more we worry, protect, or blame, the more we spiral into a dark hole of self-thoughts and bodily tension.
  • These thoughts and tensions make us weak and clumsy.

Even if we want to be authentic and do all the good things leaders are supposed to do, we will get in our own way if we are caught up in self-pity, self-doubt, or self-promotion.

Serving The Larger Picture

On the other hand, the more connected we are to others and to serving a larger picture, the more naturally we stay in the flow of now, the more naturally we move with the rhythm of what’s going on, and the more naturally our self adds its value.

There’s a quality of movement in McChrystal’s advice: so what if you’ve fallen; your people will help you and need you on your feet. Go! We sense this movement from other leadership voices, whether it’s Sheryl Sandberg leaning in or Kevin Cashman’s leading from the inside out.

Leadership moves, gets others moving with it, and creates more movement.

Getting A Move On

In this regard, Zen is great training for leaders and leadership becomes a great practice ground for Zen, as both emphasize penetrating now to the utmost whereupon self disappears and freedom of movement expands.

As Zen master Takuan (1573 – 1645) advised the leading sword master and military advisor of his day, “Don’t let your mind stop.”

“A mind that stops in any one place will not be able to move freely…By not stopping anywhere, it will be of use everywhere…The mind of one who has reached the highest level will not stop even slightly on things.  It is like pushing a gourd on the water’s surface.” (from Fudochi Shimmyo Roku)

The Zen Leader

When I was writing The Zen Leader, it struck me this “flip” from stuckness to movement or, as I called it, from coping to transforming, is where leadership begins (hence, the first chapter and a way to make this flip). Because if we define leadership – in the spirit of Cashman – as authentic self-expression that creates value, one cannot do this from a place of stuckness or coping.

The actions, decisions, or commands we issue from such a place are not authentic, they don’t express the authentic self, and/or they don’t create value for others.

Where have you seen this principle of not getting stuck, or “not stopping the mind” in leadership?  And how have you seen people get unstuck when they’ve landed hard, and are having trouble getting back on their feet?

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Ginny Whitelaw

Dr. Ginny Whitelaw, The Zen Leader, is President of Focus Leadership
She helps leaders transform with programs, coaching, FEBI assessment, keynotes
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Web | Blog |  skype: ginnywhitelaw | +1 410 923 0285

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