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We all have customers who use our products and our services. Notice what I just said…they USE our products and our services. They USE our offerings because their life is easier as a result, or quicker, or more complete, or more fulfilling or less intense. Something works for them.

Question:

Describe your product or service as a verb. Think about it this way – what are the verbs your customers experience when engaged with your product or service? How do you make that interaction interesting, smooth, beneficial, even memorable? What changes in your organization when you focus on creating and marketing compelling verbs?

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Originally Published November 28, 2011

It might sound backwards but, people are more prepared to follow the more they feel you listen to them. I’m not talking about giving people a chance to talk, I’m talking about giving them a real sense of being heard. The best leaders do this effortlessly.

Question:

What changes if, in a meeting (a group setting or one-on-one) you ask a specific follow-up question on most points your team member makes? How will they feel when you ask them to elaborate, go deeper, explain what’s behind their idea, etc.? When they know you are listening AND hearing, what change will you see in their behavior? When will you start?

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Originally Published November 14, 2011

Many leaders believe that good organizational culture means the absence of discord among their people. Their focus is on agreeing and getting along. But productivity remains elusive. Results happen when everyone leans in to a shared objective and talks passionately (even argues) about about processes, about projects, about approaches, about actions. When we know where we are headed, we’ll do what it takes to get there. AND we’ll enjoy each other along the way.

Question:

Are you concerned about your organizational dynamics? Do your people have a shared objective; does every member of your team define success the same way? Does that commitment lead to passionate conversations? Do you encourage creative conflict? Do you have the courage to build a strong culture this way?

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Originally Published June 13, 2011

Boss: “I wish my people would take more initiative, be more creative, get outside the box.”
Employee: “I wish my boss would turn me loose, untie my hands, let me show what I can do.”

Question:

If you mean it, it you want different results from your people, how will you change your behavior to give them room to show you? What one new thing will you start doing this week to open your key employees to becoming more effective? As well, what one old thing will you stop doing; yes, stop doing?

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Originally Published May 30, 2011

I define collaboration this way – the idea that leaves the room is better than any of the ideas that came into the room. That’s tough work – getting people to want the better idea even more than they want to hold on to their own idea.

Question:

How do you encourage, even engineer, collaboration? What will you do this week to move your people from superficial cooperation to meaningful collaboration? How will you encourage people to loosen their grip on their position and open their ears to the possibilities? How will you ensure that they see it when it happens….and….that they want to do the work to see it again and again?

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Originally Published May 2, 2011

We hear so much about being an “authentic” leader. I believe that fully. You must lead from who you are; at the same time, authenticity does not give you permission to be a jerk. The most productive leader leads from her strengths and dials back those tendencies she has to react poorly.

Question:

When might you mistake spontaneity for authenticity? When might your words or actions work against you or your organization? How do you protect your “inner jerk” from surfacing as you interact with your people?