Making Meaningful Connections

“Nonsense and beauty have close connections.”
~ E.M. Forster

Making connections among fellow coworkers is important for creating a more exciting and enjoyable place to come to each day. Striking up a conversation with someone new can sometimes feel uncomfortable but, as with most things, practice makes perfect.

Whether you are interviewing a new employee or having a casual conversation, train yourself to ask and answer with authentic dialogue so you can get to know someone on a personal level.

Developing a meaningful, well thought out conversational style allows us to have in-depth conversations that are beneficial in many ways. No matter what kind of business or personal situation you are in, form questions that open people’s minds to creativity and honesty.

For example, asking more probing questions such as: What was your biggest fear as a child?  What are you most proud of? What is the failure that you learned the most from? can often open up a round of in-depth discussions.

Don’t fall into the trap of losing someone’s interest by asking weak or typical questions. Learn to ask interesting questions in any situation to make the most meaningful connections and to get the most interesting answers.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
Vistage Florida
better leaders ● decisions ● results

Emotional Intelligent Business Leaders

 

“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”
~ Albert Einstein

Intelligence is a quality easily claimed but, it’s important to also include emotional intelligence in your communication within the business world. Being a strong leader requires intelligence in all aspects of the business world and while having responsibility for hundreds of people, emotional intelligence is often forgotten. The capacity to be aware of and control ones’ emotions and to handle relationships with discipline, empathy and an open mind is often not natural and is a learned and practiced skill.

Take a few simple steps to become an emotionally intelligent business leader to improve productivity, alliances and performance in your organization.

Being self-aware of certain emotions and knowing the ways to handle those emotions will help grow your emotional intelligence. Instead of reacting to a situation in the heat of an argument, emotional intelligent leaders process their thoughts and take time to respond with respect and without negativity.

Emotional intelligent business leaders develop an empathetic side to their reactions to create a stronger workplace. Paying attention, listening and reacting in a positive way can be the simplest and greatest key to success.

To thrive in the workplace as a strong emotionally intelligent leader requires you to be self-aware of your emotions while learning to connect with others on a personal level. Evaluate your reactions and your consideration level and learn to become an emotionally intelligent business leader.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
Vistage Florida
better leaders ● decisions ● results<

Working with Others

“We cannot accomplish all that we need to do without working together.”
~ Bill Richardson

Whether you sit behind a desk and have daily meetings or interactions with many different people, we have all come across someone we find difficult to work with. Communicating with difficult people can be a tough task to handle on your own. When a problem is noticeable to a group of people a compromise is much easier to identify and implement. Learning to diplomatically deal with difficult people with professional courage can make your office a happier place.

Learning to work with different kinds of people is a key to success in the ever-changing business world. We might not all agree on the same issues or ideas but problem solving, compromising and listening to other peoples’ opinions with an open mind can help us all.

Always take a step back and take a look at your reactions, think about your facial responses or verbal and written communications that might have put a wedge between you and this difficult person. Try to narrow down the issue and learn what triggers you to react the way you do. We can all learn lessons from examining our own behaviors. What we can’t do is control others.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
Vistage Florida
better leaders ● decisions ● results

 

Employee Think Tank

emp-think-tank-2

If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just.”
~ Anita Roddick, Businesswoman

In the ever-changing face of the workplace, the power of diverse thinking that can be expressed in employee think thanks may positively impact many types of businesses. Implementing an employee think tank creates a system where all ideas are welcome and considered as part of an organized system of meetings and may help foster a better more cohesive work place. Providing ideas can be part of every employees’ job and receiving ideas should be every manager’s job.

Starting with the implementation of small ideas instead of with big, aggressive and dramatic ideas will get more positive attention since these ideas may be carried out immediately. Small ideas are the steppingstones to bigger ideas and, taken together, small ideas can grow into a large competitive advantage for your brand. Create a structure of rounding up ideas through meetings and regular discussion groups, growing those ideas are the next step. No matter how small, ask every employee to share ideas and discuss which ideas should be refined and delegate responsibilities for them.

To make employees feel part of the team and valuable to the daily operation, recognize the results of ideas and solutions that work. Giving public recognition in a newsletter or on the office bulletin board provides a level of satisfaction that can be combined with small rewards of recognition such as gift cards or other tokens of merit.

With an open mind and a good system of exchanging ideas and recognizing results, your business will grow, your employees will be happier and a better bottom line may result.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
Vistage Florida
better leaders ● decisions ● results

I Don’t Have Time

time

“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.”
~ Napoleon Hill

The number one excuse we hear in the work force is “I don’t have time”. You can read and research about time management but in the end time management is subjective, based on inner experience rather than fact. Learn to remove any self-limitation about “not having time” to start, improve or promote your business or organization. Remember we all get 24 hours.

Throughout the day we are all pushed and pulled in many different directions that can throw us off course. Creating a diary including all your thoughts and ideas during the day can help you track where you are spending most of your productive hours and where you may need to decrease time wasting activates. Record start and stop times for important meetings or appointment to help you stay on top of your to do list. Do 1st things first and 2nd things never.

Another important tip is to stop, think and plan before going into an important phone call or meeting to allow yourself to decide your intention. This will help to reduce the time spent on this activity while increasing the overall objective. Make sure to record whether the goal was achieved and if not, decide how could you improve the outcome for next time.

The most important thing to understand while working towards better time management skills is; it can feel impossible to get everything done in a day. Eliminate the mindset of “I don’t have time”. Overcoming that one obstacle may help you realize all the ways to improve your productivity.

Kelly D. Scott
Chairman/CEO
Vistage Florida
better leaders ● decisions ● results

You Never Get a Second Shot at a First Impression

 “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”

– Henry Ford

There are hundreds of social media sites where you can spend hours researching all kinds of ideas, people, and news but not all that information can be beneficial to your business. Investing in your professional network involves using websites like LinkedIn, the largest professional network on the internet with over 400 million users, to create your online first impression.

 As a CEO or staff member, it has become increasingly important to keep an updated and positive online reputation on all relevant social media sites. The promotional benefits are endless however the amount of time dedicated to this task can also take over your day. Like all promotional enterprises, the balance of cost and benefit needs to be weighed to be effective. Time management is an ongoing skill to learn and refine.

 However, as we look into “LinkedIn” as an example we notice that every time we make a connection with other business leaders or employees, we allow that person to connect with an outreach network of thousands. These connections may have direct or indirect importance and can have beneficial impacts on sales, business and personal matters that are reachable with the simple effort of a keystroke.

It is easy to forget the huge impact a simple message, tweet, email or connection can have.  Before clicking that send key stop and think about the words and image you are sending out. Your integrity, reputation, ethics and personality are always important. Manners and social graces always matter. Today’s words and actions become your reputation.

Thinking Right with Vistage

We have all heard the expression, “There is strength in numbers,” and most of us would agree that multiple brains are better than just one. But what many people may not know, is there is danger in more than two brains collaborating together if that collaboration is not done correctly. In 1972, Irving Janis coined the term “Groupthink” to describe the tendency for a group becoming inept at making rational and efficient judgments due to the pressure the group places on each other.  Whether it was in your Kindergarten class, where little Jimmy pressured the whole table to believe carrots were bad for them, or in the work place, where your team decided to continue a project even though it was more likely to fail than not, at some point most everyone has experienced the phenomenon of groupthink. A few key concepts Vistage Florida believes are crucial to not only prevent groupthink, but maximize the time and value its members bring to their groups are:

  1. Bring together individuals from different, non-competing backgrounds.
  2. Provide outside feedback and coaching for the group, challenging their views and cultivating their ideas.
  3. Provide clear structure and clear rules for meetings, while still encouraging members to be creative.

It is obvious that its members are benefiting from the structured collaboration Vistage provides. Its more than 20,000 members earn a 5% higher average compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for their company revenues than U.S. companies that are not Vistage members. More brains working together are better than one; it just takes guidance and structure, the way Vistage has been successfully providing its members for over 50 years.

Weather The Storm

Three weeks into the New Year we finally have some winter weather washing over the country impacting over 50 million people in the northeast. With up to 2 feet of snow in Washington, D.C. this weekend, people are bundling up, buying snow shovels and flashlights. Major travel delays as a result of blowing snow and coastal flooding could make a mess of things while schools, public transportation and airports are forced to close. As I watch the news showing frantic people stripping shelves of bread and milk I wonder if they sit by their frosty windows eating bread and gulping milk to fight off the depression of a winter day.

Lucky for us in Florida winter just means a bad beach day, urging us to pull out our light sweaters instead of our swim suits. Weather affects everything; what we eat, how we sleep, how we feel, and how we work. Weather can often cause a significant financial impact for business owners, not just seasonal businesses; all types of businesses must recognize and plan for weather trends for predicting customer investment habits. Weather changes and delays can also increase the stresses of an important event with deadlines and images of looming disasters creating distractions from the day-to-day practices of running a business of any size. The key, of course, is planning, preparation and aligning your processes. Scheduling and consistency can directly impact sales or cause projects to be postponed involving time consuming or costly catch-up work.

The strategic vision for a company requires developing a decisive plan adaptable to changing markets; they can be product markets or geographic markets depending on objectives or demand. The goal for “weather the storm” in the office place requires a plan implemented with patience, a sense of humor and minimal atmospheric disturbance.

80/20 Vision

Martin Luther King, Jr. Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and Billy Graham. What do you think when you hear these names? What do they have in common? Most would say they are some of the best speakers of the modern era. They were gifted and could move the masses with their words. They had charisma. They were inspiring. All of these are true, but one thing that could be easily overlooked is their ability to listen.

These great speaking figures knew how to move people to action because they knew how they felt and what they believed. They spoke confidently because they had listened. They had substance because they had taken the time to receive it from their audience. They motivated others because they allowed others to motivate themselves.

Listening is a way of seeing. Without listening, we are blind to our surroundings, our clients, co-workers, and employees. My mother always used to tell me that God gave me two ears and one mouth, so I should listen twice as much as I speak. As great of advice as that was, I have learned even that is not enough. As a general rule of thumb, one should abide by the 80/20 rule. Listen 80% of the time and speak only 20% of the time.

The fear of public speaking, known as gloss phobia, commonly ranks as one of the top phobias in various surveys across the country. Speaking well can be a difficult and scary thing that takes courage to overcome, but remember, speaking is only 20% of the equation. I believe the great Sir Winston Churchill put it best, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Listening allows us to become better speakers, bosses, employees, friends, family members and citizens. So take a little extra time to listen and I promise you will see improvements in both your relationships and speaking skills.

Letting Go

As football season nears the end, so do the jobs of many professional and collegiate coaches around the country.  Firing a coach can be a hard thing to do for organizations. Like in the work place, it sometimes boils down to whether or not they are culturally a good fit. Culture overrides everything, both on the field and in the office. Someone who does not fit the culture can be toxic; they are a cancer to the organization.

One of the biggest mistakes both sports organizations and business managers make, is not cutting out the cancer soon enough. We often do not want to admit that the situation does not get better. We wait too long to get rid of that certain individual, and by the time we do so, it is too late; the damage has been done and the culture has been tainted.

One of the most toxic types of individuals to an organization is the “over-performer.” They are also the hardest to let go. These individuals believe they are above the rules, and their goals and agendas do not line up with those of the company and its culture. It is hard to let these individuals go because at times they are great at their job.  But, in order to have a winning culture, the whole team must be on the same page. No one would argue Terrell Owens was not a great NFL receiver, but they would argue that he was a terrible teammate who struggled to fit into his team’s culture. The fact that most of the teams Owens played on were willing to cut the four time pro-bowler is evidence that even a superstar can hurt a team overall if they do not share the same goals and visions. Reed Hasting, the co-founder of Netflix, applies this notion to the business world by saying “Do not tolerate brilliant jerks. The cost of teamwork is too high.”

As both a business owner and cancer survivor myself, I know that sometimes you have to take the living tissue out with the cancer for the greater good of the body, to survive and once again thrive. It’s always easier said than done, but sometimes it must be done for the good of the team.