Fundamental leadership quality – the ability to learn

11 09 2006

“Highly effective, remarkable leaders must be continuous, lifelong learners.”  Kevin Eikenberry

An important skill or ability that is often neglected when we list the qualities of a leader is the ability to learn.  Leaders must have the ability to learn. The reasons for this are detailed at Talking Story with Say Leadership Coaching,  Why Learning is a Leaders’s Most Important Skill.

The 4 fundamental ideas presented include:

  • Leadership is complex, requiring multiple skills and specific knowledge.
  • The current situation does not require leadership, it’s stable.  In order to move away from the present and lead into the future, you have to know where and how.
  • A leader passes on their knowledge and insight to others.
  • The more you learn, the more effective you become as a human being and member of society.

Related Links

What Defines an Exceptional Leader 

There are no new management or leadership ideas
Talking Story with Say Leadership Coaching

The Kevin Eikenberry Group

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Long hours at work can kill you

30 08 2006

Long hours at work can lead to hypertension and death. A study of over 24,000 workers in California by reseachers at the University of California has found that working over 40 hours a week has a direct relationship to higher blood pression and hypertension. Link

The Pope announced that too much work can lead to “hardness of the heart”. He advises that more time should be spent on reflection, meditation, contemplation. Link

What’s the real message here?

Become more efficient. Get the same work done in less time.

Think and plan your work, work SMARTER not HARDER.

Slowing down does not mean being lazy. It requires planning and discipline, and these take time.

Take more time to enjoy life and family, adjust your priorities.

If you are in a leadership position, find out why your people are working consistent overtime, and intervene. You could be saving their lives and improving their health.

Related Links

Pope says don’t work too hard

Long hours lead to high blood pressure

High blood pressure statistics





How to negotiate with Mexican business people

25 08 2006

Mexico has a culture that embraces and enjoys negotiations. From the schoolyard to the local markets to the executive boardrooms, negotiations are an important part of everyday life for Mexican citizens.

Mexican business people are good negotiators and enjoy the process.

You can expect tough negotiations if you are doing business in Mexico. Tough negotiations in the sense that they will question everything, and spend a great deal of time trying to get you to accept their point of view or conditions. The arguments may be based on emotions or facts, or both.

You should always come into the negotiation very well prepared. Know what you want, and have the evidence to support your claim. Your arguments, supported by facts, will be heard and processed by your Mexican counterparts. If facts are presented that are new, take the time to verify the information and sources before you reach a conclusion.

Negotiations in Mexico can be compared to the first round of a sporting event, both sides desire to “win”, but rarely do they burst onto the field with all their energy in the first 5 minutes. The process of “feeling out” the opponent, observing their strengths and weaknesses, are critical to understanding how to develop a winning strategy and understanding what you are up against.

Mexicans are often seeking a long term, stable relationship with suppliers and clients. Focus your negotiations and decisions on creating a long term business relationship and strategy with your Mexican counterpart.

Your ability to negotiate will be a reflection of your company, your character, and your abilities as a business person. Take your time, don’t get emotional, support your arguments with facts, and be consistent with your demands or desires over time. The negotiation process is helping to build trust and credibility, it’s important to build solid foundations for your future relationship.

Don’t be in a hurry to end the negotiations. The Mexican culture is more permissive about time and deadlines than you find in USA or Europe. If you are in a rush, you will lose important negotiating power.

Always start your negotiation with some margin and leeway. It will always to be to your advantage to “give” a little before the negotiations are over. It may take 4 hours for you to “give in”, but the gesture will be seen as your willingness to do business and enough for the negotiator to claim a little victory. Everyone wins.

Write down your final agreement, and the results of your negotiations and have both sides sign and retain a copy. This simple step will avoid any language, communication or interpretation problems that may develop in the future.

Related Links

Meeting People in Mexico – kiss, shake hands or hug

Before you go on a business trip to Mexico

How to do business in Mexico, parts 1 – 28

16 Essential Questions – International Business Traveller’s Quiz





10 Things you should never do on a Friday afternoon

24 08 2006

To complement my list of 10 things you should do on a Friday afternoon (Link), here are some of the activities that should be avoided on Friday afternoons.

Things you should never do on a Friday afternoon

  1. Initiate a major project
  2. Schedule any type of meeting or seminar with customers or employees
  3. Give an employee review
  4. Make important strategic business decisions
  5. Ask people to work extra hours
  6. Give bad news to the office, your team or co-workers
  7. Raise your rates or product prices
  8. Obsess about or relive any failures that occurred during the week
  9. Go out for a 3 martini lunch and come back to the office complaining
  10. Give the boss an ultimatum or try and force a decision

Related Link

10 things you should do on Friday afternoon





How to systematically analyze any situation for better decision making

24 08 2006

The ability to analyze and make decisions is one of the most important qualities of anyone in a leadership and management position.

How to systematically analyze any situation

  • What does the information I have really mean or reflect?
  • What are the questions I should be asking in order to increase my understanding of the situation?
  • Who are the people who have the information and answers to my questions?
  • Ask the questions and accumulate the required information.
  • What are the fears, expectations, limits and points of view of the involved parties?
  • What have I learned, and what am I going to do about it?

Example: Imagine that your salesforce reports that customers are demanding delivery of your products to their store two times a day, at 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM, instead of the current delivery schedule of 3 times a week. What do you do?

Begin the analysis.

What does this mean? The customers needs or desires have changed. Our salesforce has detected a change in the marketplace.

What questions do I need to ask to understand this? Why is the customer requesting the change? Who requested the change, is it driven by costs, lack of inventory space, new management, competitors? What do our people think about this? What customers are requesting the change?

Who are the people with the information and answers to my questions? Your sales-force and logistics department. The CEO, purchasing managers and warehouse managers of our customers. Who is going to contact them and get more exact information about the situation?

Expectations and points of view of those involved? The sales-force knows that without this change they will lose customers and market share. The customer’s executives and purchasing managers have found an method to reduce inventory and stocking costs with your competitor. The warehouse managers are losing personnel and control and are unhappy. There are significant costs associated with implementing and operating the program. Your competitors are aggressively investing in order to take away your market share.

What have I learned and what am I going to do about it? You discover that a competitor is providing deliveries twice a day, and stocking the customers shelves, reducing costs for the customer. They have made significant investments in trucks and personnel in order to provide this service. Your top 20 customers are affected now. Failure to provide equal or improved service will result in the loss of the customers and your market share. It’s time to bring in the company decision-makers and create an appropriate solution and response.

Related Links

Was Peter Drucker right, is it all about attitude?

9 Steps to better decisions





The 6 Fundamental Concepts Behind Every Successful Business

22 08 2006

1. Supply and Demand. The fundamental idea behind business and a market economy. Want to determine where to sell or buy, or predict if prices will be going up or down? Understand the concept of supply and demand.

2. Cause and Effect. Physics applied to the business environment. What you do will affect your competitor and the market and vice versa.

3. People like to feel important and special. Learn this and you’ve discovered one of the fundamental qualities of a great salesperson or marketer.

4. Simple clear communication, on-time. Don’t make it technical, keep it easy to understand. Answer all questions when asked, and never forget to call back and follow-up.

5. Get the work done, on time, and with the highest degree of quality possible.

6. Ask lots of questions and get all the answers.





International business traveller – ambassador, explorer, map-maker

21 08 2006

The critical roles played by international business travellers.

International business travellers play an incredibly important role as ambassadors, explorers and “map-makers” inside their organizations and with their overseas contacts.

Ambassadors, Explorers, and “Map-Makers”

Ambassador of your country and culture. During your trip your actions and reactions are being watched by others. They are trying to confirm, deny or create stereotypes of your country. Everything including your inter-personal skills, business negotiation skills and manners, the way you dress and eat, your choice of hotels, table manners, social skills, and the ability to make small-talk and conversation will be watched, examined and commented upon after you leave. Keep this idea clear at all time during your trip, it is important.

Ambassador of your company. Prepare and bring all materials required for the negotiations and business interactions. Project an aura of professionalism, a willingness to learn and share, and honesty. Create relationships with a long-term vision. You may be promoted or leave the organization some day, but your international contacts will continue to do business with your company.

Ambassador of you. International business is all about relationships, and your behaviour and attitudes are critically important as the liaison and trusted representative. Make promises you can keep, follow-through on the projects and projects. Project honesty and a concern for doing business and maintaining relationships. Your actions should focus on creating a climate of trust and open communication. Don’t try to be someone you are not.

Explorer. The international business traveller, technicians, and sales and business development executives have the added responsibility of verifying existing information, establishing new contacts that will be beneficial in the future, and discovering new ideas and opportunities. It requires an inquisitive character, a bit of courage and a spirit of adventure.

Map-Maker. Often neglected by organizations is the cultural, political and personal information gathered by international business people. This information (or data), should be gathered, filtered and consolidated, and available to the organization after every overseas trip. “Maps” should be made for future consultation and reference. The map-making role requires the separation of the facts from interpretation, personal anecdotes and opinions. This information becomes the foundation for all future strategic and operating decisions.

Related Links

7 Tips for International Business

16 Essential Questions – International Business Traveller’s Quiz

How to do Business in Mexico, Parts 1 – 28

International Business Trip Planning, Part 6