Giving it all you’ve got!

September 7, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

It was a cold December night that I asked Bruce Hourigan, Strategies vice president of business development, to attend a special meeting with me in a small restaurant in Old Saybrook, Conn. I had been encouraging Bruce for some time to get a road bike and start riding with me. When he asked what the meeting was about, I just told him it was for some charity bike ride.

When we got to the meeting, people were asking Bruce what kind of bike he rides. He replied, “I don’t have a bike.” The meeting started and the presenter had a beautiful PowerPoint presentation on the ride and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund that we would be raising money for. Bruce was clearly being a good sport as he took in the experience. At the end of the presentation, I signed us both up for the August 29th 100-mile JDRF ride in Killington, Vt., complete with hills and thrills – and a commitment for each of us to raise $3,000. We both got some nice looking jerseys and we left. Bruce was still being a good sport as he tried to comprehend exactly what I signed him up for.... Read More

It was a cold December night that I asked Bruce Hourigan, Strategies vice president of business development, to attend a special meeting with me in a small restaurant in Old Saybrook, Conn. I had been encouraging Bruce for some time to get a road bike and start riding with me. When he asked what the meeting was about, I just told him it was for some charity bike ride. When…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

After the recession, ask the right questions now!

August 31, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

The question most often asked during a recession is: When will it end? It’s the natural tendency for a return to normal – to business as usual. But as the economy continues to show signs of recovery, prudent leaders are asking very different and extremely tough questions. Rather than slipping back into old leadership patterns, they’re asking how they must change as leaders to adapt to what will clearly be a new and challenging economic reality. Simply put, if you think business will return to “normal,” that stress levels will dial down, you’re thinking is going to lead you down a dangerous path that doesn’t end in the “happy days” of yesteryear.... Read More

The question most often asked during a recession is: When will it end? It’s the natural tendency for a return to normal – to business as usual. But as the economy continues to show signs of recovery, prudent leaders are asking very different and extremely tough questions. Rather than slipping back into old leadership patterns, they’re asking how they must change as leaders to adapt to what will clearly be…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Entitlement behavior is pure compromise

August 24, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

This may be one painful “wake-up” because I’m going to give a culture contaminating behavior that exists in your business a full broadside. It’s called “entitlement behavior” and you need to purge it from your company. In extremely embedded cases, the purging may even require a total leadership makeover. The problem is, most leaders refuse to acknowledge the problem even exists and that they – and their egos – are fueling it.

At the leadership level, entitlement behavior is best described as “do as I say, not as I do” behavior patterns. It’s when leaders come in late, fail to follow procedures they themselves established, and generally do what they want – simply because they are the leader. But entitlement behavior goes critical when leaders begin sapping the company by using the company checkbook as if it were their own. I’ve seen exotic cars, vacations, mortgage payments, college tuition – even home landscaping – run through the business. And I’ve seen trust issues and resentment contaminate otherwise great companies when leaders tell employees there’s no money for raises, benefits, training and upgrading equipment and facility. It doesn’t matter if the leader is the owner of the company or not, it is his or her responsibility and duty to protect the integrity of the company – not sap the company at the expense of others. (more…)
... Read More

This may be one painful “wake-up” because I’m going to give a culture contaminating behavior that exists in your business a full broadside. It’s called “entitlement behavior” and you need to purge it from your company. In extremely embedded cases, the purging may even require a total leadership makeover. The problem is, most leaders refuse to acknowledge the problem even exists and that they – and their egos – are…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Is your approach to “empowerment” a setup?

August 17, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

“Empowerment” is one of those overused terms that achieved pre-eminent status in the world of business jargon. Without question, every leader strives to achieve that seemingly elusive state where leadership teams and employees actually think, behave and make decisions like a business owner. So why is it that in all my years of coaching leaders and companies, only a handful of companies can truly proclaim that they have an empowered workforce? The answer is simple and may even be tough for some leaders to swallow.

FACT: Too many leaders fail to understand that empowerment is an outcome. It is not something a leader bestows upon others. Empowerment is best described as a process of preparing individuals and teams to be confident, assertive and accountable. In order for that to occur, leaders must be willing to invest the time, training, mentoring and resources before relaxing and letting go of the controls. Rush or short-change the preparation process and you’ll see those you empowered hesitating to take action and/or making bad decisions. Some of your more over-confident team members will even charge off into roles and decision-making they are totally unprepared for. (more…)... Read More

“Empowerment” is one of those overused terms that achieved pre-eminent status in the world of business jargon. Without question, every leader strives to achieve that seemingly elusive state where leadership teams and employees actually think, behave and make decisions like a business owner. So why is it that in all my years of coaching leaders and companies, only a handful of companies can truly proclaim that they have an empowered…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Present a “State of Your Company” address

August 10, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Every January, the president of the United States does a State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation, but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda and national priorities to the United States Congress. Given the economic turmoil that began in earnest last year, and the now early indications that the economy is showing signs of recovery, this may be the opportune time for you to present a “State of Your Company” address.
If your initial response is, “Huh?” consider this: Every business and employee has been affected in some way by the recession. As a leader, it is likely that you made some tough decisions to ensure the wellbeing of your company. Expenses were cut, certain projects were put on hold – and employees may have been laid off. Even on a limited scale, such decisions send unsettling vibrations throughout a company culture as employees contemplate that most fundamental question: How will the recession affect me?
Strategically, presenting a State of Your Company address has the potential to reinvigorate your company’s performance by sharing with all employees exactly what the state of the company is and how making tough decisions allowed it to weather this economic storm. Most of all, it provides you with the perfect platform to share your vision and leadership agenda for growing the company. This is all about information flow and allowing your team to have absolute clarity on where the company is going. A Neilism: Absolute clarity is like business GPS. It sets the where and the how.
Here are some no-compromise strategies to present a State of Your Company address:
* Find the right setting for the address: Do not hold the address where you normally hold meetings. The president has the distinguished podium in the House of Representatives. You need to select a site that communicates the importance of this address. Is there a meeting hall at City Hall that you can rent. Does your local college or high school have an auditorium you can use? Is there a company in your area that has a training facility available? If all else fails and you have to use your facility, hang red, white and blue banners around the space. Don’t forget to get a podium.
* The announcement to employees: Send or hand every employee an invitation to attend your State of Your Company address. Design and print a folded invitation that looks official. You can even put one of those gold foil stickers imprinted with your corporate seal on it. (You rarely get to use that seal so now’s your chance.)
* Prepare your speech: The president has speechwriters and edits it until the address is perfect. If you’re not good at writing speeches, ask for help. You will find accomplished speechwriters at colleges and acting schools. Work on your speech and keep refining it. If it doesn’t go through at least six revisions – it’s not done. Rehearse and rehearse some more.
* Dress “presidential”: You want to look like a leader. Put a lot of thought into how you want to appear to your employees for what could be the most important address to all of your employees.
* Keep the entire event “official”: This isn’t a party. No food. No music. No fan fare. Keep the entire evening official. Don’t forget to have someone introduce you.
* Have some fun: This is all about nurturing and reinforcing your company culture.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

Every January, the president of the United States does a State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation, but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda and national priorities to the United States Congress. Given the economic turmoil that began in earnest last year, and the now early indications that the economy is showing signs of recovery, this may be the opportune time for you to present a “State of Your Company” address.... Read More

Every January, the president of the United States does a State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation, but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda and national priorities to the United States Congress. Given the economic turmoil that began in earnest last year, and the now early indications that the economy is showing…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

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