We Are Only What We Do…

A recent series of articles from Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper featured Isadore Sharp’s new book, Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy. One thing that struck me when reading this was an expression that too many leaders don’t internalize nor demonstrate as often as they should: “We are only what we do, not what we say we are.” Of course, there are many variations of this mantra: “Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk” or “Actions speak louder than words.” But when reading this piece, it hit me. These are not just words on a page or ancient words of wisdom that don’t have any real place in our modern day worlds. We all must read expressions like this and, as leaders, live them to their fullest intentions. Merely giving lip service to employees, partners, superiors, etc. does not make for an authentic leader. Too many leaders, along with their communications staff, spend too much time thinking about how to say whatever it is they need to say. And, for sure, I commend those with the gift of gab for whom communicating clearly and with well-chosen words comes easy. I’ve surely written about the tremendously valuable ability to communicate clearly on my blog over the past year and think it is, without a doubt, one of the most critical skills anyone in business [and it really isn’t nor should be limited at all to people working in the business world] can possess. However, as important as such communications are, the benefits from them can be completely eroded when the actions don’t support the words. How...

Pay it Forward

The concept of paying it forward is one which can truly benefit many and was featured in a great movie from 2000 starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt & Haley Joel Osment. It reminds me of a commercial from the 1970s for Faberge shampoo in which they had the expression “if you tell two friends and they tell two friends, and so on, and so on…”. Well, the idea of paying it forward is really a good one. In fact, Benjamin Franklin demonstrated the idea of paying it forward in a letter to Benjamin Webb dated April 22, 1784: “I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you […] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro’ many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.” In business, there are SO many ways in which this concept can take hold. But to me, the greatest impact of this wonderful approach to helping can be done at the grassroots, or individual, level. I myself have experienced both sides of paying it forward. I have had the great fortune of being helped by many people along my career path. And to be clear, these folks did not do so with the expectation that they would receive...

Making the Matrix Work For You

Increasingly, businesses are seeing the benefits of working in a matrix. But while this works for the organization, individuals can often find operating in a matrix, more than a little challenging. But there are some very simple things that you can do to make the matrix work for you. First up, polish your communication skills. When you work in a matrix, you need to be clear about your work, your direction and your deliverables. Different teams have their own internal cultures – and if you are new to that team or working across a division, you likely will miss the non-verbal communication at play. To combat this, over communicate – ask questions if you are unclear. Clarify the expectations of colleagues and learn to articulate your thoughts precisely. If you need to, take a course; but don’t overlook the importance of this communication. Secondly, remember there are only 24 hours in a day. When you work in a matrix, you are likely to have multiple deliverables from multiple teams. That means you must manage expectations of all involved. When asked to take on a new project, politely explain your level of utilization and then ask your project leader to help you prioritize your efforts. Make sure that this is clearly communicated to the people you report to, along with the expected impacts. Be sure to avoid over-committing and under delivering. These two steps can make a dramatic difference to your life. But what about leaders? How can you lead well in the matrix? Gill Corkindale suggests the following steps for leaders: Make sure the culture is robust, supportive and...

Follow Up Questions from My Conversation with Jo Miller

Last week I had an opportunity to talk with Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, and the many listeners who attended the webinar on office politics.  Our discussion prompted many questions from the listeners and in response to these questions, Jo and I took the opportunity to reply.  These questions and answers can be seen on the Women’s Leadership Coaching site by clicking here. I strongly encourage readers to click over and to explore not just the set of questions that arose from the office politics webinar, but to delve further into the Women’s Leadership Coaching site.  The webinar series is an excellent way to hear from various industry professionals on topics that are very relevant to those in the workforce. And in case you missed my discussion with Jo, you can find it...

My Conversation with Jo Miller of Women’s Leadership Coaching

Jo Miller, CEO of Women’s Leadership Coaching, and I will be talking about “Winning at the Game of Office Politics” on Tuesday, February 24 2009, 11:00am-12:00pm PST Some topics we’ll be addressing include: Is it possible to navigate office politics without becoming a political animal? Learn the difference between office politics and organizational awareness. Discover the unwritten “rules of the game” at work. Understand the dynamics of power and influence in your organization. Get a copy of the presentation and listen to the podcast by clicking...

Check Out MyVenturePad.com and SocialMediaToday.com

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk with Brian Roger of Social Media Today and its sister site MyVenturePad.com.  Brian writes for these online, B2B social communities on topics that help companies use social media to connect with and build deep relationships with customers and prospects.  Brian and I had a great discussion about leadership which can be heard on MyVenturePad by clicking here.  In addition, I was fortunate enough to be named "Blogger of the Week" on Social Media Today and that article can be viewed here. Many thanks to Brian and the others at these two sites for showcasing for all of us some of the great ways that social media can be used to foster dialogue, build awareness and relationships and ultimately drive business. Nina Nets It Out: Be sure to learn about social media tools and the capabilities they can afford you in connecting with customers, partners, employees and the like. As I’ve always said, communication is crucial in business and these technologies empower all of us to be able to communicate in more ways and hopefully more...