Sunday, May 31, 2009

Building Stronger Relationships - Are you willing to sacrifice ...?

How many times to we have relationships where the deepest questions you get are "What do you think of the weather today?", or "What did you think about the game last night?" - These relationships are "miles wide and only inches deep" - Stan Buck in his Memorial Day message.

He challenges us with the question, "Are you willing to sacrifice to build strong relationships?"

Are you willing to sacrifice:
  • Time?

  • Superficiality?

  • Your own agenda?

  • Pride?

I could use some improvement in all these areas of sacrifice. My biggest area may be in the area of superficiality. It's easy to ask the questions about sports and the weather, but when someone asks you the question, "How are you doing?", how often do we say "fine", when we aren't really fine. And, turning it around, how many times do you ask that question of someone else? Maybe when you think about that question in our deeper relationships, we should be asking "How are you doing...REALLY?" and be prepared to sacrifice our time, superficiality, agenda, and pride, to REALLY listen to our closest relationships' needs and wants...

Who are you going to ask that question to this week: "How are you doing, REALLY?"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How I Review a Book

A few times recently I have shared a book review with my 'dogear' rating system. I thought I would take a little time to talk about how I read a book.

First, my primary purpose for reading is Continuous Improvement so I tend to focus on books found in the Leadership or Management section at Barnes & Noble. Here are the steps I use:

1) I like to mark up a book, so I always have a pen handy when reading a book. I use the jacket cover as my bookmark during the reading process as well. Whenever I come across something of interest while reading, I highlilght the section and 'dogear' the page:

Upon completion of the book, I am able to visually see the impact of the book by turning it sideways:

2) I go back and review those pages I dogeared prior to writing the review. I remove the jacket cover and discard and the cover. I place the book on a shelf for future review and I like the look of the hardback cover versus the paper cover.

3) I write the review and post it on the blog. This(writing a review and posting on the blog) is new for me since I have only been blogging for about a year now.

4) I ask for feedback and will send the book to the first reviewer of the blog.

5) Frequently, I buy an extra copy to share with a friend who I think might benefit from the topic.

I know that this review has 'gaps'. For instance, there are several topics of leadership that the book may cover that I may not be able to get back to easily. John Maxwell talks of his notes in the front of the book and then he has his assistant make a copy and file under that topic. Just a few years back, my then assistant, Mary Cunningham, started an electronic file from this review process, but I found it to be time-consuming for her and I was not reviewing it regularly. With the number of books that Maxwell writes and speaking engagements he does, I can see the value in his process for sure!

Many of you may have heard of the Kindle and there are several reasons I have not yet purchased one:

1) Price prohibitive (Current Amazon price is $359) - the payback on a kindle with my reading habits (about 6 books per year) would be about 6 years. Technology changes too fast! Although, my reading would likely increase...

2) It is still new technology - I am quite sure that there will be better technology coming to the market soon that has more value.

3) Process I outline above - I can't visually see where to go back to the pages, although I am SURE that the Kindle would allow me to bookmark by topic and save so that I can refer back by topic. In essence, it combines my dogear with Maxwell's index card system. Given all that, I do believe I will eventually move toward the e-reader technology and would probably try out the Kindle now with a price point less than $100.

How do you review a book and go back to find the important points? Have you considered the Kindle?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Book Review - The First 90 Days

I recently completed the book The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins. It was a gift from my wife, Chris, for Valentine's Day. I don't know if it was a message or not - "New Leaders at All Levels" was who the book was designed to target. I had been in real estate for three years now!!!

In any event, I dove in head first and found this to be an insightful book for new leaders. The book starts out by defining the "Breakeven Point" for new leaders, which is defined as the 'Point' at which new leaders have contributed as much value to their new organizations as they have consumed from it. The average time that CEOs said was the time at which a new manager hit this point was 6.2 months (pg. 2&3).

The book attempts to outline a process whereas that time (6.2 months)can be accelerated and the success of new leades in their positions increased. When I heard there was a process, it made it an easy read for me as I tend to enjoy books that define processes to achieve a goal. This book was no different.

This book was not a one-size-fits-all either. The author identifies 4 different scenarios defined as STaRS (the a is actually supposed to be superscript!). S-Start-up, T-Turn around, R-Realignment, and S-Success and different challenges and opportunities with each scenario.

I found the book to be a little short on real life examples and the visuals to be a little complex; however, I feel this will be a good reference book for me in the future. During previous book reviews, I used my rating system based upon 'dogears'. How many pages did I 'dogear' for future reference? There were more than 10, so I would give this book a Top '10 dog-ear' rating. I recommend it to new leaders at managerial levels, AND I think this would be a good book for those who 'aspire' to move up in their organization or careers as well. During an interview, I believe MANY times you will be asked "What will you do in the first 30,60, or 90 days in your new role?" How great would it be if you could use the tips in this book as a way to answer that question?! It would impress me.

I would like to share this book with you. Be the first to a) comment on this post, b) subscribe to this blog via Reader or email, and c) commit to reviewing the book as a guest blogger when you complete it! I will mail you a copy of the book.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Leadership Lessons from the Laundry Room

Sometimes there are lessons from the Board room. Today, there are lessons from the Laundry Room. I am sure there are many lessons from different 'rooms' in our life. But, what does the Laundry Room have to do with Leadership?

1) You need to be a good Listener

Like the people you are leading, if you hear the funny noises, you better address it. If you ignore it, it will not go away!!

2) You need to be a good Planner - I know I shouldn't do laundry at home, but even I know that a) you don't put a wool sweater in the dryer, and b) you don't put a RED shirt in with the whites. So, it is important to plan. Put the right 'stuff' with the right 'stuff' for success.

3) Delegation is important - You need to know what you are really good at...and more importantly, what you are NOT good at! If you are not good at ironing, delegate it to the dry cleaner, or buy clothes that don't need ironed!

4) Procrastination is not a good option! - If you don't keep up with the day to day needs of leadership, the MOUNTAIN of laundry will build and build. Things will start to smell...resources will run out...

5) You must be a good organizer - Is there a place for everything and is everything in it's place for your stuff? When you need to find your 'fabric softener' for the dryer, it is not a good time to learn you can't find it when the washing machine is stopped.

I want to thank my coach, Raymond Gleason, for the idea for this post. We need to always be looking for opportunities to teach and lead, no matter where we are.

What am I missing from the Laundry Room? So, what room do you have Leadership Lessons from? Give me a room. I will identify the Leadership lessons' potential from that room.