Monday, December 20, 2010

A Quick Primer On Presenations

Okay, maybe it's not a primer, but it does deal with presentations.

Fast Comparny expert blogger Mark Suster lists the four types (very generally) of people that you deal with in meetings and presentations. He offers some good pointers here for the personality characteristics.

The only real problem is trying to identify the four types, especially when going in cold. He offers some suggestions on how to deal with each type. It's a skill to be able to respond quickly to the different types, but it's worth it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Let the future take care of you

When you take care of “now,” the “future” will generally take care of you.

I’ve discussed before 8 to Be Great: The 8-Traits That Lead to Great Success by Richard St John. I’ve been re-reading it. Like any good work (book, film, art, person), every time you look at it again, you can gain something new. As my mother would say, every time she saw The Godfather, she would always see something she had not noticed before. By the way, my mother never really knew English, but she still enjoyed watching The Godfather.

In my latest read, I came away with the idea that you can only control what you’re doing now. If you do what you’re good and passionate at, you don’t have to worry about the future. The future will take care of you.

Go back to the fundamentals. First, read the book, then follow the 8 steps. Don’t worry about the future so much. You can’t control it. You can only control what you’re doing today.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Motivation versus Leadership

I am not a motivational speaker. I tried it once. I failed miserably. I learned my lesson. I should have known better. I knew my skill was in leadership training and development, not in motivation. I know the difference and I should have passed on the request.

I had someone go through one of my leadership sessions. They were impressed and thought I could do the motivational presentation.

I really couldn’t.

The audience had to get up and stretch after my presentation. Maybe that I spoke after dinner had something to do with it, but I don’t think so. So, I’ve avoided motivational presentations ever since. I know I’m not Tony Robbins. I won’t get you to walk in your bare feet over red, hot coals. I may not even get you to clean up your office.

The take away here is that a good leader (or trainer) needs to know where their strengths are. I could probably get better at being a motivational speaker, but that’s not really where I want to be right now. I want to get better as a leadership trainer. That’s where I’ll stay for now.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Leadership App

There’s an “app” for just about everything. The neat thing about apps is that you can download them to your phone and have the app accessible at any given moment. Leadership is a lot like that.

My son, for example, has more apps than he really knows what to do with. He has to clear a few apps every so often. It gets too much to keep track. It’s no joke that he needs an app to keep track of his apps.

The neat thing about leadership skills is that they’re always at your finger tips. You carry it around with you all the time. Sometimes, it seems we’re always trying to download a new skill: learn a new way to do this or that, a new approach to handling this problem or that, and so on and so on. But, like my son’s phone, we can overload and fail to keep track of our skills or trying to decide which one to use in this instance.

In leadership, we need to keep our apps down to the essential few that we really need. Keep honing those until you don’t even need to think about it, so that it comes naturally without out having to search for that app.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Positively Getting To The “A-ha!” Moment

In leadership, problem-solving is an essential skill. Actually, problem-solving is an essential skill for everyone. New research points to developing a positive attitude to help you develop critical insight to solve problems.

According to a New York Times article by Benedict Carey, Northwestern University neuroscientist Mark Beeman and graduate student Karuna Subramaniam conducted a study which “found that people were more likely to solve word puzzles with sudden insight when they were amused, having just seen a short comedy routine.”

The two researchers showed college students a Robin Williams video and then asked them to solve puzzles. According to the researchers, the humor creates a positive mood that allows the brain to connect the dots more easily. “The students solved more of the puzzles over all, and significantly more by sudden insight, compared with when they’d seen a scary or boring video beforehand,” Carey writes.

“You’re not only thinking more broadly, you’re literally seeing more,” said Adam Anderson, a psychologist at the University of Toronto, commenting about the study’s results.

You can test your insight here.

The take away here is that keeping a positive mood, even through humor, would help you when facing the small and large challenges.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Where is your event horizon?

It’s something that anyone who has taken a walk through the woods knows. Standing at ground level, you can’t see very far into the distance. Standing on a hill, you can for see what’s happening for miles and miles toward the horizon. I use the phrase event horizon.

The same applies to an individual’s view of life. How far is your event horizon? How far ahead do you see things? How far ahead do you focus your vision?

Some people’s event horizon is very short. For example, when we’re young, we tend to have a very short event horizon. We may only see a few minutes into the future, maybe even a couple of hours, but little beyond that. Tomorrow is lost to us. As we get older, become teenagers, our event horizon may still only be this instance, into the weekend maybe. Good luck getting most teenagers to think beyond that. As we get older, our event horizon starts to get further out, years out even. We start thinking about our kids’ college, retirement, mortgage, etc.

Our event horizon reflects in our work and leadership style. For example, younger employees who are less invested In your organization, may seem less motivated or dedicated, the slacker mentality that many employers and bosses decry, whether it is deserved or not. It seems that their event horizon isn’t focused very far beyond tonight or the next weekend. Some managers don’t seem to see beyond the next quarter’s numbers or today’s stock price. In either case, their focus is on what they can get today. Rather than looking at the long term, both these groups fail to look beyond their immediate gratification.

It is part of what got the country into the mess it’s in economically and in Iraq and Afghanistan. People failed to look beyond the immediate and failing to account for the long-term. It is why we have gridlock in Washington D. C. because they’re really just focused on the next election. It’s why schools focus on the next round of student test scores.

It is the effective leader who takes on the long event horizon, looking at where the organization is going to be in 10-20-30 years. It takes practice and effort to look at the distant event horizon. It means that you have to stop looking down at your feet and pick up your eyes. Too many people are focused on today’s agenda only. It’s easy to look like you’re working hard because you’re only focusing on the to-do list. It’s a lot harder and time consuming to look at the distant event horizon.

How far ahead are you casting your event horizon?