Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Meetings: The Bane of Our Existence…Or Not

Meetings – we can’t live with them and we can’t live without them. They are a necessary evil of business life. If this is the way you feel about meetings, then read on.

There was a great article in the Wall St Journal on June 16th titled Meet the Meeting Killers. In the article we are introduced to five meeting killers; the Jokester, the Dominator, the Naysayer, the Rambler and the Quiet Plotter. Each of these types of people has their own way of making meetings difficult, if not impossible. Thankfully, the writer rates these meeting killers as to their level of nuisance, and provides ways to circumvent their negative effects.

For those of us who run meetings there are techniques to making a meeting run more smoothly such as having a “no-device” policy or having periodic “tech breaks” for people to catch up on communications. Stand up meeting can quicken the pace and keep people on task, and some issues can be dealt with in advance if a leader knows the people and their concerns well.

But there are also other types of people who can make meetings difficult, whose intentions are not to sabotage, but who simply have a different perspective on business issues. Les Mckeown introduces three such types in his book The Synergist.

The Visionary – the bold dreamer, this person has big ideas but little interest in execution.

The Processor – the pragmatic realist, they want to put every detail through a system.

The Operator – the systems designer, this person’s main focus is to get the meeting over with so they can get back to the “real work”.

Mckeown offer a solution in the form of a fourth type of person – the Synergist. Their job is to take the strengths of the other three types of people and knit them into a dynamic, well-rounded team. Because businesses need all three of these types to be successful, the challenge is how to get them to play well together. The synergist has the skills to make this happen and the good news is that anyone can learn how to be a synergist, recognizing the vital signs of ineffective teamwork and making the right interventions at those pivotal moments.

Les McKeown will be joining us on May 31st to explain in-depth the skills and techniques of the Synergist, and how they can harness the skills of the personalities in the room to become an effective and productive team. Lead Your Team to Predictable Success is a Free webinar open to everyone. Join us and learn how to transform your meetings.



Take the Fear Out of Business Finances

So you finally got that promotion and today is your first day attending the management meeting. As you sit down among your new peers a thick report is passed out filled with numbers. These are the monthly financial reports and as you look through them you’re completely lost. What does it all mean and am I going to be asked to comment on these numbers?

Don’t panic. There are simple ways to get up to speed with the basics of business finances. You could enroll in a business finance course but that would take too long. Or you could read the book No Fear Finance by Guy Fraser-Sampson.

Fraser-Sampson takes the fear out of understanding business financially concepts and reports. In a very clear and methodical way he goes through all the basic information needed to understand and use and understand financial reports and tools.

Early in his book Fraser-Sampson distinguishes between Financial Accounts and Management Accounts. Financial accounts are used to report about a company to outsiders like shareholders, while management accounts are used by management to make business decisions.

Other topics covered include:

  • Basic financial concepts such as the time value of money, and financial instruments including stocks, bonds and derivatives.
  • The main investment concepts like liquidity, volatility, active versus passive investing and different return measurements.
  • Key accounting matters like balance sheet and income statement analysis, working capital and solvency.
  • Company life cycle events including M&A, capital raising, insolvency.

If you would like to get a head start on understanding business finances, please join us for our next Soundview Live webinar, No Fear Finance. Guy Fraser-Sampson will explain basic financial concepts for business use, and will take questions from the audience. Now is a great time to get your burning questions answered in a low-pressure environment.



The Covey Family Business

We just booked Sean Covey and Chris McChesney, authors of The 4 Disciplines of Execution, for an upcoming webinar in July, and as I was reviewing the book and information about the development of their execution training, I was reminded of the Covey business legacy.

Stephen R. Covey first broke onto the business scene back in 1989 when he published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The audio-book of this title later became the first non-fiction audio-book to sell more than a million copies, and the book has sold over 25 million copies.

The elder Covey has followed up his 7 Habits book with The 8th Habit, Principle-Centered Leadership, and recently The 3rd Alternative, along with various versions of the 7 Habits book and additional titles he co-authored. His highly successful Covey Leadership Center eventually merged with Franklin Quest to become FranklinCovey.

His son Stephen M.R. Covey joined the family business, moving up through the ranks to become CEO of Covey Leadership Center. He later started his own company CoveyLink with friend Greg Link. Together they wrote The Speed of Trust and recently followed this up with Smart Trust.

Another son of the elder Stephen, Sean Covey, is Executive Vice President of Global Solutions and Partnerships for FranklinCovey. He followed up his father’s 7 Habits book with The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens and just last month released The 4 Disciplines of Execution, based on research and training programs developed through FranklinCovey.

Even the in-laws are part of the business. A.Roger Merrill and Rebecca Merrill co-authored First Things First with Covey in 1994, and later wrote the follow-up title Life Matters.  I wouldn’t be surprised if more Coveys appear on the business scene in the coming years, since Dr. Covey has 9 children and 52 grandchildren.

The real legacy that the Coveys will leave is a laser-focused emphasis on bringing what’s important in life into business. Family values, ethical and moral values, and spiritual life all play a part in his writing and teaching. If we all could integrate our life inside and outside of work into a coherent whole, we would be saved from many of the troubling issues that currently haunt corporate America.



Employee Loyalty Equals Customer Loyalty

In a previous job, I worked for a woman who cared deeply about her employees. We enjoyed having every day off that both the post office and bank had, plus we always had the week between Christmas and New Years along with a Christmas bonus, on top of our regular vacation days. If your child had an event going on at school during work hours, she would encourage you to attend, and she was always interested in how our families were doing.

Her supportiveness resulted in a very loyal group of employees, ready to do whatever was needed to make the company successful. And this was especially evident in our treatment of our customers. We would go out of our way for them, because this was part of the overall atmosphere of the company.

Although this is certainly not a novel idea, loyalty seems to have taken a back seat to survival in the past decade here in the U.S.. While there has been a strong push for customer service, the employees have not always been taken into account.

In The Loyalty Factor, Dianne Durkin connects these two groups back together. Her Loyalty Factor is “Employee loyalty drives customer loyalty, which drives brand loyalty.” Some of her suggestions as to how to encourage employee loyalty include:

  • Communicate uniquely with each generation
  • Accommodate employee differences
  • Create workplace choices
  • Be flexible in your leadership style
  • Respect competence and initiative
  • Recognize achievements
  • Reward results

If you would like to hear more about Durkin’s thoughts on loyalty, you’re in luck. We’ve invited her to join us for our next Soundview Live webinar, Building Employee, Customer and Brand Loyalty, on May 15th. Register today and bring your loyalty questions to ask during the session.



Spotting Exceptional Talent
May 2, 2012, 11:00 AM
Filed under: Human Resources, Soundview Live | Tags: ,

In The Rare Find, George Anders tells the story of an HR manager at Google who compiled over 300 characteristics recommended by executives as important to watch for when hiring, and compared them against the database of their employees. He found that what Google has considered important for new hires is not what actually stands out in the most successful employees.

From this study the manager began looking at resumes “upside down” – that is he started at the bottom where people list their hobbies, accomplishments and interests. From here he could get the person’s story, what motivates them. This information, considered along with the usual education, grades and the like, gave a much better picture of who might be the most successful employees.

Anders provides powerful ideas for making sure that you don’t miss that candidate with great potential, including:

  • Don’t ignore “the jagged résumé” — people whose background appears to teeter on the edge between success and failure. Such people can do spectacular work in the right settings, where their strengths are invaluable and their flaws don’t matter.
  • Look extra hard for “talent that whispers” — the obscure, out-of-the-way candidates that most scouting systems overlook.
  • Be careful with “talent that shouts” — the spectacular but brash candidates whose positive qualities might not outweigh future problems with loyalty, motivation, and team spirit.

If you would like to learn more about how to find the “stand out” employees for your company, join us on May 10th for our Soundview Live webinar Spotting Exceptional Talent with George Anders. Bring your most challenging hiring-questions for the author as well. One exceptional employee can turn a company around!



Is There Fear Within the Walls of Your Company?

“A company’s worst enemy is not always the competition. Sometimes it’s the fear that lives within its own walls.”

This is a very ominous quote from the author of Breaking the Fear Barrier, Tom Rieger. As Senior Practice Expert for Gallup, Rieger draws on the company’s global research across a dozen countries spanning six continents to identify the “fear barrier” and to show how and why fear destroys companies.

Perhaps you’ve experience this in your own company. A person fears that they might lose power, control, parts of their department, etc…, so they put up barriers of bureaucracy to protect their area. These barriers then cause a slow-down in the processes of the company.

Rieger documents three types of barriers:

  • Parochialism: A tendency to force others to view the world from only one perspective or through a narrow filter, when local needs and goals are viewed as more important than broader objectives and outcomes.
  • Territorialism: Hoarding or micromanaging internal headcount, resources, or decision authority in an effort to maintain control.
  • Empire building: Attempts to assert control over people, functions, or resources in an effort to regain or enhance self-sufficiency.

As Rieger observes: “Each level of the pyramid is a defensive response, and each creates rampant bureaucracy — which in turn limits success, crushes employee engagement, and infuses a sense of futility across an organization.”

In our upcoming webinar with Tom Rieger, Breaking the Fear Barrier, he will offer a cohesive and groundbreaking process for breaking down each level of bureaucracy to remove the barriers. Then he will show that by proactively fostering courageous behavior among employees and keeping insidious “courage killers” at bay, leaders can root out fear in their organizations and establish a culture of confidence, engagement, and long-term success.

If fear and the barriers it produces are an issue in your organization, please join us on May 2nd to hear Rieger’s solutions and to ask your questions during the presentation.



Leading Effectively from Anywhere

In the preface to her book The Virtual Executive, Dr. Debra Benton tells a love story. A story of meeting a real-life cowboy and of learning to run her consulting company, with accounts in 19 countries, from a 550-square-foot, 75-year-old cabin on a remote high-mountain ranch with sporadic electricity.

Benton learned to be a virtual executive before it became popular and in the process brought in more money in her first year of remote leadership than in the company’s previous 15-year history. From this experience she has captured principles to teach all executives who are still learning the art of leading virtually.

In her own words Benton states that “My goal is to give you simplicity in a world of complexity.”

One part of the book that I especially appreciated is when she lists her definition of being successful. Here are her measurements of success, in brief:

  •  You are working toward, you are on the brink of, or you have achieved your dream career while you remain a solid citizen.
  • When you communicate – which you have to do all of the time with everyone in some manner or another – you are deemed impressive, memorable, credible, genuine, trusted, liked, competent, confident, comfortable, cool, calm and collected.
  • You feel broadly adequate, and you treat others as broadly adequate too. That means you expect acceptance for what you bring to the table, and you give it to others.
  • People do not care if your style is dictatorial or participative so much; they care because you have goodwill toward them.
  • You fully appreciate the Golden Online/Offline Rule: “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”
  • You understand that when others treat you negatively, it’s because they themselves feel inadequate, do not feel “okay”, are having a bad day, or are upset, and they often attempt to transfer those feelings onto others. However, you do not let them to that to you.
  • You are equally effective in communicating these positive attributes that have contributed to your success whether you are face-to-face, talking on a phone, or e-mailing half way around the world.

Dr. Benton will be sharing her principles for effective virtual communications at our upcoming Soundview Live webinar, Becoming a Virtual Executive, on April 26th. Please join us to learn these crucial techniques for yourself.



All Play and No Work Makes Johnny Worthless

American companies are facing a workforce crisis which is commonly called Generation Y. As companies continue to demand productivity and performance from this new generation of workers, these young employees are not demonstrating the work ethic needed to meet company expectations. And this has affected morale and profitability across the country.

Eric Chester, who is an expert on this new generation, expresses the concern well in his Who’s Really Entitled list, which lays out the expectations that employers have for their workers. On the lighter side, he also communicates the broader issues in his song called The Work Ethic rap.

Chester has some sobering words for American companies: “Parents now focus most of their attention on ensuring that their kids are healthy, happy and have high self-esteem. Meanwhile, schools are facing wide-spread criticism and massive cutbacks, and are concentrating every available resource on increasing test scores and keeping students safe. Therefore, the burden of developing work ethic within the emerging workforce has shifted to employers.”

What is work ethic? In Reviving Work Ethic, Chester defines it as “knowing what to do and doing it. It is marked by an individual’s positive attitude, reliability, professionalism, initiative, respect, integrity, and gratitude.” So how do we instill this is Generation Y when they’ve grown up without it?

Chester’s solution revolves around communication. We need to communicate the knowledge of how to do a job, and then we need to communicate the values behind what we do. He emphasizes that it takes repetition to get across this information. He also makes clear that work ethic thrives best in community, not in isolation. So as workers are trained, there needs to be reinforcement of the values and knowledge from those around them.

Are you struggling with a lack of work ethic in your young workers? Then you’ll greatly benefit from our upcoming Soundview Live webinar Reviving Work Ethic in the Emerging Workforce. Eric Chester will present his experienced view of the next generation of workers and will also be taking questions from participants. Join us on April 19th and learn how to instill work ethic in your employees.



Watching Out for Blind Spots

I’m in the middle of a kitchen renovation. My job is demolition but I’m letting the professionals handle the construction. In order for everything to turn out right I have to depend on the contractor, the counter top installer, the hardware stores, and my volunteer friends to each do their part.

But sometimes people fail to meet our expectations, and when this happens our own plans can be put in jeopardy. If I just move forward as though everything is okay, without making sure everyone is on board and knows the plan and schedule, I may end up with a disaster instead of a finished kitchen.

This is not unlike the situation when a company is trying to compete in the marketplace, and is depending on other services and suppliers to produce and innovate right along with them, and these other companies don’t keep up the pace. Not being aware of this can be a blind spot that will bring a company’s own innovation to a halt.

This is the contention of Ron Adner in his book The Wide Lens. Adner suggests that we take a new perspective – a wide lens – to better assess our strategy. He introduces a new set of tools and frameworks to expose our sources of dependence so that we can make better choices and multiply our chances of success.

Among the examples he gives of companies that have been caught in this innovation blind spot are Philips Electronics with their HDTV and Sony with their e-reader. They were both ahead of their time and the other innovations needed for success were not yet available.

If your company is dependent on others for success then you’ll want to join us on April 10th to hear Ron Adner talk about this wide lens. Sign up for our Soundview Live webinar Avoiding the Innovation Blind Spot and have your questions ready for Ron.



How to Manage Your Boss

Imagine if we could combine Peter Drucker and Sigmund Freud! We would then have insight into the intersection of business and psychology, of management and the mind.

If we could better understand the mind and motivations of our bosses, we would then know how to manage them in a way that would help further our own careers. Although this approach may sound unusual, it is the basis of a new book by Dr. Karol Wasylyshyn called Behind the Executive Door.

Dr. Wasylyshyn categorizes leaders as Remarkable, Perilous or Toxic. And depending on where they are along that continuum affects how we interact with them. Wasylyshyn provides insight into each type of leader and clear steps for how to work with them.

One example is how to deal with a toxic boss. She states that in some cases it is not about managing but about surviving such a boss. And she provides a list of questions to access whether to Stay or Go. It may actually be unhealthy for you to stay in some circumstances.

If you would like to access your boss’s leadership type to help you better work with them, then you’ll want to join us on April 3rd for our Soundview Live webinar Unexpected Lessons for Managing Your Boss and Career. You’ll also have the opportunity to post questions for the author.




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