Thursday, October 16, 2014

7 Clues You’ve Got the Wrong Person on Your Team


By Mark Sanborn,

How do you know you’ve got the wrong person on your team? Any team member can sometimes feel like a bad fit, but there are more tangible clues you need to know to determine if a team member is the wrong person than simply your emotions. Here are seven clues

1. You wouldn’t rehire him or her if you had the choice. Let’s start here. If the person in question quit today and then applied to be rehired tomorrow (ignore the feasibility of the timeframe), would you hire him or her back?

2. You get negative feedback from others about him or her. Is there a consistent stream of negative feedback from others—team members, customers and/or vendors—about this person’s behavior?

3. The person’s “cost” (salary, benefits, training and time needed) exceeds the value they create. Quantify the individual’s contribution to the team and organization. Then compare that against their true cost (wages/salary, benefits, training and attention).

4. Team morale is lower because of them. Does overall team morale suffer because of this person? Is her or she more aptly considered a team slayer rather than a team player?

5. Customers or clients complain or don’t like doing business with this person. This is costly: do you receive phone calls, emails or other forms of complaint from customers?

6. The individual hasn’t improved with feedback, coaching and/or training. Have you attempted to appropriately address any deficiencies by providing feedback and needed training and development? Has this person accepted and has performance improved? If not, there is a real problem.

7. Your gut is telling you this person isn’t right for the team. It is time to add together all the information and do what your gut is telling you.



Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE, is president of an idea studio dedicated to developing leaders in business and in life. Mark is an international bestselling author, noted authority and speaker on leadership, team building, customer service and change. To learn more about Mark or to book his for your next event, follow this link to Mark Sanborn's bio page at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Are You Part of the Problem, or Part of the Solution? Putting "Lead" Back into Leadership

By Laura Stack,

Many people split the world into dualities: You’re either this or that. Positive or negative. On or off. Black or white. But in reality, human behavior occurs mostly in the shades of gray between any two extremes. So when it comes to leadership, I hate to say, “You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.” But it’s easy to see how it could be true.

“Lead” means “go first.” So followers look to a leader for examples of how to behave and what to do. According to research by anthropologist Lionel Tiger, most baboons look at their leader every 20 seconds to see what they’re doing. My Australian Shepard Lily follows me around the house and even while seemingly dozing, keeps an eye on me for cues of what to do. When we go for a walk, she continually looks at me for signals. Humans aren’t much different. Your team members look to you to model their behavior…and like it or not, they’ll follow your lead, whatever you do.

If you wander in at 9:00 every morning, don’t expect they’re going to rush out the door to arrive by 8:00. If you thrive on regular 60-hour workweeks, your team members may wear themselves out trying to keep up with you, even if you don’t expect it. You don’t want them to slack off, and you don’t want them to drive themselves into burnout, but your behavior will serve as their role model one way or the other. Your attitude is contagious, too. If you’re grumpy, you’ll transmit that. If you’re enthusiastic, they’ll notice that too. So choose the one you want others to exhibit. Promote a solutions-only atmosphere to end useless complaining. Encourage new ideas. Make optimism your default state.

You’ve heard the saying “monkey see, monkey do.” What can you do differently, and how can you act differently to yield greater team productivity? How do your team members react to your work habits and moods? What purposeful changes have you made in the past that have directly influenced your team for the better?



Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, has consulted with Fortune 500 corporations for nearly 20 years in the field of personal productivity. She helps leaders create high-performance cultures in their teams and organizations and achieve maximum results in minimum time. She is the president of a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in highess organizations. To learn more about Laura or to book her for your next event, follow this link to Laura Stack's bio page at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau


Monday, October 13, 2014

Beyond the Keynote: How to Maximize Your Organization's ROI with Keynote Speakers After the Conference

By Jonathan Wygant

To implement lasting organizational change, many leaders opt to bring in keynote speakers who speak on topics ranging from productivity to leadership to innovation. Senior executives may walk away from the event feeling confident they know exactly what to do to implement positive change. Unfortunately, those changes hardly ever happen, because the 'knowing' of how to do something rarely translates into actually 'doing.' This 'knowing-doing' gap results in little to no change at all. How do you 'lock-in-the-learning' to bridge the 'knowing-doing' gap and get the best ROI from your keynote speaker and training dollars?

According to Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, co-author of The Knowing-Doing Gap, the key is to build a culture of action. In the U.S. alone, $60 billion a year is spent on management training. Additionally, over 80,000 MBA graduates enter the workplace every year, students who presumably have been taught the skills they need to improve the way companies do business. Yet, we still can't get things done. For corporate culture to improve, we need to take action and make the shift—not just talk about it. In successful companies, there is less of the 'knowing-doing' gap. There is much less disparity in these companies between how their teams think, who they are and what they do.

People have a great deal of knowledge, so why aren't they effective? Because there is no inertia behind the training and because of all the other behavioral inertias already existing within the executive and organization as a whole. People have their own way of working, and they are back to doing what they already know because that's their comfort zone. Therefore, change does not occur. To be effective, we need to extinguish one behavioral inertia in order to implement a new and better one in its place. To make change permanent, repetition, accountability and tracking are essential best-practices. Consistent training and ongoing coaching are good examples that support the process to ‘lock-in-the-learning.’

While listening to a keynote typically increases productivity by three to five percent over the following six months, productivity has been shown to increase twenty-two percent when further training is provided. According to Olivero, Bane & Kopelman, adding coaching after training pushes productivity even further to eighty-eight percent. David Rock, co-author of Driving Organizational Change, concludes that coaching is the key component to improving performance. Rock explains that with a Fortune 50 company, adding coaching to training resulted in executives learning six times as much—with a ROI of 17x. With effective coaching, executives are held accountable to behavioral improvement that results in positive change. Therefore, in addition to bringing in an expert keynote speaker, it's important to learn how to 'lock-in-the-learning’ by reinforcing the original message through follow-up workshops, coaching and Internet based learning platforms.

Bridging the 'knowing-doing' gap requires deeper immersion in the subject matter and follow-up after the conference is critical. Therefore, be sure to:
  • Connect back to the keynote expert to provide additional training via seminar or webinar. A tip to save on fees is to bring in a staff associate as a facilitator of further learning.
  • Follow-up keynotes with a same day on-site executive breakout session where participants can roll up their sleeves and work with the subject matter expert on current issues they are facing.
  • Using the knowledge gained from the speaker/facilitator, executives should then meet with their team(s) to further implement new best-practices via webinars, weekly check-ins, and slicing the keynote or workshop wisdom gained into five-minute videos that may be viewed on the Internet any time later.
Coaching is an investment in developing your key people for the organization’s long-term benefit. Coupling keynote speakers with follow-up training and coaching leads to knowledge implementation and results in productivity and profitability improvements. Reinforcing the keynote speech with a senior executive team breakout session and following up weekly or quarterly with teleseminars or on-site visits, will go a long way in changing individual and team behavior toward improving the overall corporate culture, performance and profitability.


Jonathan Wygant is CEO and founder of BigSpeak, Inc. one of the largest business-oriented speakers bureaus in North America focused on serving the Fortune 1000 and multinational companies worldwide. BigSpeak addresses the needs of corporations, associations, non-profits and government agencies by providing motivational speakers, thought leaders and subject matter experts as well as facilitating strategic change initiatives and executive development programs through BigSpeak Consulting.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

“Don’t Compare Yourself to Others” – The Envy Problem

By Ben Casnocha

“Don’t compare yourself to others.”

It’s common advice. When you compare yourself to others, you are “comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides.” When you compare yourself to others, you’re more likely to become motivated by extrinsic, shallow reasons (fame/status/wealth) than intrinsic, sustainable reasons (meaning/purpose). When you compare yourself to others, you kill your joy.

Indeed, Leo Babuta says, “One of the biggest reasons we’re not content with ourselves and our lives is that we compare ourselves to other people.” He analogizes the issue to running in the park and seeing someone run past you. It’d be silly, Babuta says, to conclude, “Gosh, he’s a faster runner than me, and therefore better than me!” You have no idea how far he’s running, where he is in his particular run, what training plan he’s on, etc. Better to just focus on your own run. Learn about yourself as you run. Focus on your journey.

But it’s more complicated than this. You can benefit when you compare yourself to someone else. For example, what if the person who runs past you in the park sports a running technique that’s superior to your own and that you could adopt with success? What if the person running faster wears a certain kind of shoes that you could buy for yourself? What if his training plan offers valuable insight that you might incorporate into your own training plan?

When you compare yourself to others, you might be inspired to run faster in life. Better yet, you can get ideas for how to run faster. The best way to achieve expertise in anything is to study the masters, deconstruct their techniques (by comparing your techniques to their own), and consider adopting their best practices into your own routine.

I believe what people really mean when they say “Don’t compare yourself to others” is “Don’t let yourself get consumed by envy. Be the best version of yourself, not someone else.” It’s the second order effect of comparing yourself to someone else that’s the dangerous thing. Thus, the advice would be better stated: “Don’t let yourself get consumed by envy.”

Envy sucks. It really does cause unhappiness. It’s important to remember, though, that you don’t feel envy when Bill Gates has a big success. He’s so different from you and me. You also don’t feel envy as much when someone achieves great success in a wildly different life pursuit. So when do you feel envy? You feel envy when someone who is roughly the same age/location/life stage/life situation as you achieves something similar to your goal in your field of choice.

Hence, the dilemma: how do you learn from successful people without being consumed by envy for what they have?

Here’s a perhaps radical approach.

First, study the lessons from successful peers in adjacent fields. If you’re a development director at a non-profit, study the career of and compare yourself to a director of finance at a fast-growing startup. If you’re a young doctor, study the career of a peer at a biotech company.

Second, study the lessons of people in your direct line of work but who are way, way ahead of you. Compare yourself to him or her. If you’re a software entrepreneur, study Bill Gates’ life and career. Or anyone else who’s 10-15 years ahead of you. Learn, learn, learn by comparing, comparing, comparing to a party elder. Read biographies.

Third, if you find yourself nevertheless obsessing over your direct peers fighting in the ring next to you — and, because we’re wired to obsess with where we rank in our tribe, it’s a hard instinct to suppress — then create a tribe of one. Forge a life so idiosyncratic that it’d be silly to compare yourself head-on to someone else. Take the path less traveled. Adopt a unique life philosophy. Do something crazy.

If you do something common, you have lots of direct comparisons. If you go to law school and become a young attorney, there’ll be thousands of people right next to you, neck and neck in the race of life, and their success will almost certainly trigger biting jealousy. They are like you in every way…except they succeeded.

Do something uncommon, and it’s hard to make the case — in your own mind, anyways — that it’s an apples-to-apples comparison. When you compare yourself to someone who by strict demographics may be a peer — by age, race, location, etc. — you have a narrative in your head that’s envy-repellent: “I can’t compare myself to him. I spent two years in my 20′s surfing in Costa Rica while he climbed the corporate totem pole.” Or: “Unlike many, I’ve chosen a flexible work schedule so I can play with my kids and husband on the weekends. This comes with tradeoffs. No one else at my company has arranged their schedule in this way. ”

Bottom Line: Comparing yourself to others is a great way to learn. Just make sure you compare yourself to people who are sufficiently different or sufficiently ahead of you so that your drive to soar will come from genuine inspiration instead of envy. That takes imagination. Better yet, carve a life so unique that there won’t be reasonable direct comparison points. Then you can freely stitch together whatever you learn from others into a life that’s all your own. That takes courage.


Ben Casnocha is an award-winning entrepreneur and author from Silicon Valley. He is co-author with LinkedIn founder/chairman Reid Hoffman of the #1 New York Times bestselling book The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career. He is also co-author of  The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age based on his article in Harvard Business Review entitled Tours of Duty: The New Employer-Employee Compact. To learn more about Ben or to book him for your next event, follow this link to Ben Casnocha's bio page at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Keeping It to Yourself: Five Things a Wise Manager Never Delegates

By Laura Stack

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere as long as the policy you’ve decided upon is being carried out.” — Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States

 As a leader, you know you must delegate many of the tasks for which you’re ultimately responsible, if you’re to be successful in meeting your goals. You know you can’t do it all yourself. Typically, under-delegation is more common than over-delegation, and most leaders should give more away.

That said, there are some things leaders should never delegate. Some tasks obviously shouldn’t be delegated, such as the combination for the safe containing the bank’s gold bullion, or the passwords to critical organizational computer files; however, sometimes it’s less clear-cut, and it’s hard to determine what to keep for yourself.

Ironically, the things you shouldn’t delegate tend not to be things like codes, combinations, or keys. Intangibles like team building, discipline, and praise are the things you can least afford to delegate to someone else.

The Top Five
Nothing short of an entire book would be sufficient to discuss completely all the critical elements smart managers don’t delegate. So here’s a quick primer of the top five things I believe smart leaders should never delegate. Please use the comment box to add the items you’d include on your list!

Here’s how I’d rank them:

1. Talent management should always be one of your top priorities. Whether your team consists of just a handful of workers, a full division, or the whole company, you’re responsible for getting the right people in the right places. Take a hands-on approach to recruiting and selecting new hires, especially those for crucial positions. Once you have someone on board, continue to mold and shape them with training, team culture, motivation, and any other tools at hand to ensure they fit as seamlessly as possible into the team. You’ll find this an endless process, especially as your team evolves to match changes in the industry and emerging trends you can barely see.

2. Mission, vision, and core values also help you shape the team. While you may be part of a larger organization that has already set these guidelines, you still have to make sure everyone knows what they are, how to apply to them, and how to shape their productivity in the right direction. You don’t have to harp on them, but do keep them in mind and adjust course as often as necessary.

3. Praise and incentives. If you asked 100 workers what they wanted more of at work, many would say more money—but not all. Praise, and the knowledge that leadership is taking notice of achievements, works surprisingly well toward encouraging discretionary input and employee engagement. Don’t over-praise, but don’t hold back when it’s justified and don’t hesitate to add other incentives if you need to.

4. Discipline. Remember the old Cheers episode where Norm was appointed the Corporate Axe, the guy tasked with firing long-term employees? He got the job because his superiors lacked the guts to do it themselves. Don’t be like Norm’s bosses. If someone on your team fouls up, handle the task of disciplining them yourself. Be straight and upfront with them, whether putting them on a corrective action plan, suspending them, or firing them. I’ve heard of one fellow who had just relocated thousands of miles, whose boss left it for a middle-manager—not even the employee’s supervisor!—to fire him while the boss was on vacation. Not only was this tasteless, the company came close to being sued because of the way the boss handled the situation.

5. Succession training. No matter how healthy you are, someday you’ll either retire, die, leave the company, or suffer a long-term illness. It’s up to you to look over the field of candidates, decide who can take your place when you’ve gone, and actively mentor that person. Unless your company’s succession plan is written in stone or someone higher up fills the empty slots, find at least one go-getter and groom them to take over, just in case something happens to you.

Keep the Ball Rolling

While you may not directly do the work that generates the profit, leaders are the guiding hand that ensures those who do earn the profit work together in the most efficient way possible. You’re the driver of your group and the shaper of skills, attitudes, and culture that weld a group of individuals into a working team. Never forget your intangible responsibilities. You can delegate almost anything else, but these are foremost among the things that you do best to make your organization the most successful.

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, has consulted with Fortune 500 corporations for nearly 20 years in the field of personal productivity. She helps leaders create high-performance cultures in their teams and organizations and achieve maximum results in minimum time. She is the president of a time management training firm specializing in productivity improvement in highess organizations. To learn more about Laura or to book her for your next event, follow this link to Laura Stack's bio page at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

High-level Collaboration And Micromanagement Don’t Mix

By Kate Vitasek,

Ever wonder why your collaboration effort has stalled out? Or why your supplier is lacking innovation? I’d hypothesize it might be micromanagement.

In fact, micromanagement lurks at the heart of several of the most common ailments that plague or destroy business relationships, including the Outsourcing Paradox, the Activity Trap, Measurement Minutiae, and the Junkyard Dog Factor.

Jessica Marie’s article on LinkedIn’s Pulse, “Micromanagers: Flushing Companies Down the Toilet, One Detail at a Time”, offers some good observations and insights. In it, she describes the dynamics of micromanagement very succinctly: “People don’t leave bad companies. They leave bad bosses. They don’t leave flawed organizational structures and abandon lousy products and technology. They leave flawed leadership.”

Her point is that even the most technologically advanced companies can stumble badly when those in charge lack “emotional intelligence,” are insecure and operate with incompetence. And much of the time the fault lies at the doorstep of the micromanager; he or she “negatively affects efficiency, creativity, trust, communication, problem-solving, and the company’s ability to reach its goals.”

There’s a big difference between directing co-workers rather than empowering them. Just thinking about the culture that’s embodied in a micromanaged environment makes me queasy! And that difference extends to supplier or business partner relationships.

Marie also makes an insightful point about micromanagers—their actions and reactions are fear-based. They need to control process details to the nth degree, and prevent or avoid confrontation because they are insecure. Insecurity leads to fear. She identifies five characteristics of the non-micromanaging boss: communication, delegation, fairness, humility and responsibility.

To those I’d add openness, curiosity, motivation and trust.

The Vested business model can’t function in a micromanaged environment: people are pulling on the rope together to operate the business and to resolve problems; they are empowered under a flexible governance framework to do what they do best and collaboratively innovate for the success of the partnership.

Bottom line, high-level collaboration and micromanagement are terms that don’t mix.



Lauded by World Trade Magazine as one of the "Fabulous 50+1" most influential people impacting global commerce, author, educator and business consultant Kate Vitasek is an international authority for her award-winning research and Vested® business model for highly collaborative relationships. To learn more about Kate or to book her for your next event, follow this link to Kate Vitasek bio page at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The 9 Things Successful People Won’t Do

By Chester Elton,





Called the "Apostle of Appreciation" by the Globe and Mail, Canada's largest newspaper, and "creativeand refreshing‚" by the New York Times,Chester Elton is co-author of several successful leadershipbooks. All In, The Carrot Principle and The Orange Revolution have been New York Timesand #1 Wall Street Journal bestsellers. His work has been called a "must read for modern managers," byLarry King of CNN. To learn more about Chester or to book him for your next event, follow this link to Chester Elton's bio page at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau.