This post comes courtesy of Mark Miller, a best-selling author of 6 books, an in-demand speaker and an executive at Chick-fil-A. His latest book, Leaders Made Here, describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks and outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.

More than 10 years ago, I had the privilege to co-author The Secret with Ken Blanchard, a book about Chick-fil-A’s point of view on leadership. It was a lot of fun doing the book with Ken and even more fun talking to groups all over the world about leadership. What I didn’t expect was the question that I received over and over again… “We’ve read The Secret, what’s next?”

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I love the opportunity for new partnerships. Having been on both sides of the vendor & client agreement, I’ve enjoyed some partnerships so incredible that folks were often eager to work late – and then chum together afterward. Unfortunately, I’ve also been in situations where colleagues rued the day an agreement was signed.

In the end, high quality partnerships come down to trust. But if you rely on blind trust, you’re probably in for a rude awakening.

If you are responsible for signing up a new vendor, these 14 questions will significantly increase your likelihood of a great partnership experience and reduce the many business risks of a poor one. Some questions you can and should ask the vendor directly. For others, you will need to do your own homework. Here they are.

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As a talent development professional, I’ve been privileged to lead, observe and participate in many types of learning and training events. I’m often invited by vendors to sit in on their training in the hopes I’ll make a purchase.

I can say firsthand there are some amazing learning events out there. Unfortunately, for every great one, there are several mediocre ones. If you’ve been tasked with building or sourcing training for your team, let me save you some grief by sharing nine factors that can kill your effectiveness.

 

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Dealing in Hope

January 9, 2017 — Leave a comment

Napoleon Bonaparte claimed, “A leader is a dealer in hope.”

Hope is a strangely human enigma. It can’t be handled but it can be shared. It can’t create anything on its own but it can pave the way for new accomplishments.

Whether you’re celebrating a new beginning (like the start of a new year), caught up in new adventure or struggling to maintain the status quo, hope plays a key role. Not only must leaders be positive (no one wants to follow a pessimist!), they must deal in hope that can be felt and transferred.

Here are several ways to grow and share your hope.

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Top 10 Posts from 2016

December 26, 2016 — Leave a comment

It’s that time again – time to mark the 5th year for the Everyday Leadership site. We’ve had more readers from all over the world and have high hopes for 2017. Thanks for making it another great year!

Below I’ve compiled the top 10 posts of 2016. You can also view the Top 10 list from past years here. And don’t forget to download my free ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor if you’re looking for a good place to start.


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You just finished a project, event, engagement or training exercise. It’s time to get some feedback. What do you do next?

The After Action Review (AAR) was originally developed by the U.S. Army to analyze and report on training exercises. Today the military uses a range of formalities (as do countless industries and organizations), but the essence is to capture two elements: what went well and what can be improved in the future.

Socrates uttered the immortal phrase, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Examining professional events may seem less dramatic, but it’s a critical component if you wish to improve. Also, keep in mind that an AAR shouldn’t substitute for a comprehensive program evaluation. (In fact, an AAR only partially measures to Level 1 on the Kirkpatrick Learning Evaluation Model.)

Here are several simple tips for performing high quality after action reviews.

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We hear so much about coaching these days. Leaders need to coach more. Employees need more coaching. High performers need coaching. Low performers need coaching. As leaders, how can we know we’ve done enough? And what does a quality coaching conversation actually look like in action?

Over the years, I’ve adopted a simple definition of coaching: “To coach is to develop another person by listening and asking questions to clarify ideas and commit to action.”

If you look closely, you’ll notice five key characteristics. I’ve listed each of them out below:

Business Conversation

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Expertise Matters!

November 21, 2016 — Leave a comment

Years ago I served as a consultant to two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that worked closely together. At one, the head accountant was a friendly woman who very much enjoyed her job. But on several occasions, there were questions regarding the way the numbers added up and we had to work together to find and fix the errors. One day the president of the other NGO expressed a need for a new accountant and I casually suggested he consider the accountant from the first NGO. He rolled his eyes and commented that her lack of expertise would be a liability on his team.

I’ve thought about that scenario quite a few times since then. There have been occasions where I was clearly out of my league at work. As a young consultant, I struggled so much with the ambiguity of my role that I was frequently unable to sleep at night. I didn’t know what I didn’t know – and worse, I didn’t know who I could ask for help since I was expected to perform anyway. I didn’t want to be like the woman in the first NGO: a friendly and enthusiastic person who couldn’t be taken seriously as a professional.

Expertise isn’t the only critical factor in getting a job done, but it certainly is one of them. In its absence, ideas can’t “tip,” planning gets skewed and results suffer.

Not all of us are required to be the ultimate expert on any given day, but some of us are. Regardless, any expertise you can acquire will go a long way. Here are six ways to build your expertise – regardless of your field.

expert-definition

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How do you get your big idea across in the age of information? A quick keyword search can provide anyone with much more data than they could ever hope to use. What’s the secret to getting your idea past all the clutter and into the land of reality?

It’s been well over a decade since Malcolm Gladwell published his bestseller The Tipping Point. In it, he explains that it’s not the quality of the idea itself, but the quality of three key ingredients that cause the idea to tip. If you haven’t read the book, below are the items (hint: they’re people) as well as a few strategies to employ.

Idea Light Bulb

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“If you were a fruit, what kind would you want to be?” That was the ice-breaker that kicked off the worst meeting I’ve been a part of. It took 30 minutes for everyone to contribute. The meeting ran 25 minutes long. Not only was it a complete waste of time, by the end I felt like I owed the company stockholders an apology just for attending.

In general, I tend to enjoy work meetings, but many business professionals dislike them – and often with good reason. Some detest them. Others bemoan their lack of ability to get any “real work” done when meetings pile up. Even the late Peter Drucker considered meetings a necessary evil.

Poorly run meetings can be exasperating. But productive meetings are essential for collaboration, decision-making and team effectiveness. Meetings are also expensive and can waste considerable time due to disorganization, lack of discipline and ambiguity. These best practices can help your meeting stand out, whether you are an organizer, presenter or participant – both for in-person and multi-site.

meeting-silhouette

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Acquiring knowledge and know-how is critical to any professional – both for knowledge and manual workers. But with it brings some new disadvantages as well. The “curse of knowledge” is recognized as a “cognitive bias” that essentially means it is difficult or impossible to unremember or disregard information you possess. It seems that what you don’t know – as well as what you do know – can both hurt you.

So how can knowledge actually be a curse? Consider a few of the ways.

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There’s incredible power in language. Words don’t merely convey ideas, they can change the course of history.

The words you use as a leader matter too. Here are some simple but powerful phrases that set great leaders apart from the rest.

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