Jun 21 2016

Change is Great…. if Leaders GO First!


As leaders, we hold the key to successful change

in the palm of our hand…

especially if we happen to be holding a mirror.


LEADING CHANGE:  Over 150 years apart, two stories remind us of leadership’s unique role in making changes.


Center for Disease Control (CDC) article noted in the United States, hospital patients’ contract nearly 2 million infections each year. “On average, healthcare providers clean their hands less than half of the times they should. On any given day, about one in 25 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.”  What high-tech, high-effort solution did the CDC recommend for the medical industry? Wash Your Hands!

How can we change and maintain the behavior? The medical hand washing mandate of 1846 is recounted in the book Leadership and Self-Deception, the challenge of getting people to change continues today. Continue Reading »

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Jun 10 2016

Conference Call Do’s and Taboos

telephone switchboardConference calls can be a minefield of false starts, disruptive back ground noises, awkward silences and wasted time.   Or, conference calls can be a convenient and cost-effective way for people to discuss important business.  Based on personal hours spent on conference calls, I humbly submit the following “must do’s, “please do’s” and “taboos” for leading and participating in effective conference calls:

 Call Leaders Must Do

Don’t Schedule a Conference Call  What do you want to accomplish?   Is a conference call the best way to achieve these results? If “no” don’t schedule the call.  If  “yes,” continue reading … Continue Reading »

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Mar 16 2016

Mending Fences

Mending Fences KansasOh it seems to me, that sorry seems to be the hardest word.

— Elton John

From popes to politicians, powerful executives to professional athletes…the news abounds with opportunities for us to ponder: What makes an apology effective — and what does not?

“When we reflect back on just how many mistakes we’ve made, and feelings we’ve hurt in our lives, you’d think we’d all  be experts at the healing art of apology,” wrote, John Kador in his book, Effective Apology: Mending Fences, Building Bridges, and Restoring Trust. But we are not.

Why does “sorry seem to be the hardest word?”

If [“Big if”] we realize that we are in the wrong, we may be humiliated and want to hide from the harm we’ve caused. The opportunity to apologize soon and sincerely is missed. The original harm festers.

Perhaps the discomfort and tension of the situation may causes us to lash out. “Even if an apology is offered, it may be unrecognizable as such because the embarrassment or anger of the person giving the apology distorts it,” wrote Holly Weeks in the Harvard Management Update.

In his amazing book, On Apology, Dr. Aaron Lazare says: “Apologizing is rarely comfortable or easy, so if you’re going to do it at all, make it count.” While it is hard for people to get an apology right, the experts agree on five essentials of effective apologies:

1. Acknowledge the Harm Begin by ensuring the injured party knows you truly understand what harm was done. Use accurate language that does not minimize the offense, question whether the victim was really hurt, or hide behind clichés. Not clearly describing the harm caused is the most common apology blunder, notes Dr. Lazare.
2. Take Personal Responsibility The challenge is to explain how the offense occurred, without excusing it. One honest assessment may be to say: “There is no excuse.” Dr. Lazare stresses that, “A humble remark is better than a dumb excuse.”
3. Express Remorse After acknowledging the harm, and taking personal responsibility, share your remorse. Do you feel sorry, regret the error, feel ashamed or humiliated? Say so. Sincerely. Whether it was a physical or psychological harm, confirm that your behavior was not acceptable.
4. Make Amends “Whenever possible, the apology should try to make the injured party whole,” says John Kador. There may be nothing tangible to repair. More often hearts and relationships are broken than physical objects. The question “What do you want me to do?” can begin the process of making amends. Then really listen. Feeling truly heard has incredible healing power and can mend wounds that seem irreparable.
5. Keep Your Promises Fulfill all your commitments to make amends. Don’t repeat the harmful behavior. The healing process can continue only if promises are kept.

There is no guarantee that your effective, sincere, genuine apology will be accepted. The injured party may be too hurt to forgive. Dr. Lazare invites us to see apology as “not always a one time request for forgiveness, but often the opening of a negotiation between the parties.” The relationships that matter to us most are built on trust. It can take time—and promises kept—to restore precious trust when it is lost.

Popes, politicians, powerful executives, professional athletes…you and me. All human beings need to learn what it takes to offer to others the “most graceful and profound of all human exchanges…” a true apology.

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Mar 09 2014

The Happiness Advantage

img_postcard-cowboy1What if you could improve your productivity by 30% without sacrificing happiness?

We’ve been told that if you  have a good work ethic and work really hard,  you can be successful and then you will be happy.   New discoveries in psychology say this formula is backwards. If you reverse the order of the formula, you end up with greater happiness and greater success rates.  Happiness comes first.  Success follows.  Continue Reading »

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Jul 16 2013

Hot Stove Rule and Employee Discipline


“NO…NO…HOT!” I said, as my toddler reached for the stove. “HOT!”

Fair and effective employee discipline has the same characteristics as a “Red Hot Stove:” forewarning, immediate, consistent and impartial. According to leadership expert Douglas McGregor, all four should be applied to employee discipline. Continue Reading »

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May 28 2013

Succeeding in Today’s Experience Economy

Photo Credit: Off for the Fair, F.D. Conrad

Photo Credit: Off for the Fair, F.D. Conrad

In their collaborative book, The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage, authors Pine and Gilmore illustrate how the Industrial Economy supplanted Agrarian Economy—which in turn supplanted the Service Economy.

Today, the economic offerings bar is once again, being raised. In this shift into Experience Economy, we find goods and services pose as mere commodities, and are no longer enough. Continue Reading »

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May 17 2013

Hats off to YOU!


When I asked coworkers to brainstorm a list of their hats, responses came in torrent:

spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend, employee, supervisor, coworker, church member, mm-with-cowboy-hatcommunity volunteer, neighbor, citizen, sports fan, club member, family nurse, chauffeur, cook laundress, housekeeper, bookkeeper, and peacemaker…

Sound familiar? Inventorying the hats in our lifestyle wardrobe is enlightening—especially when combined with an actual headcount. Continue Reading »

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Apr 13 2013

Complaints are GIFTS!

1 gift


Thank customers who complain; their complaint is truly a “gift.” It’s easier to see complaints as gifts by considering what could have happened:

• The customer doesn’t complain but takes their business to your completion.
• The customer talks to coworkers, family and friends about your business.
Posts their complaint on the internet (i.e. eBay, TripAdvisor and YELP …)
• Places 12’ x 20’ billboard on their lawn telling all how badly they were treated.
• Lodge a complaint with their mayor, governor or congressional representative.

Complaining customers truly are bearing gifts. A business wants to receive as many of these gifts as possible. That’s right, more complaints gifts the better. Continue Reading »

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Mar 11 2013

Family Business Longevity

Family Business Longevity

William O’Hara, a pre-eminent expert on family business, has created two amazing lists for Family Business magazine of the 100 oldest family-owned businesses in the U.S. and the world. All of the listed companies are at least 225 years old; four have lasted in the same family for more than a millennium. (www.familybusinessmagazine.com.)

America’s Oldest Family Business



The Zildjian Cymbal Company of Norwell, Massachusetts began in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey). In 1618, an alchemist named Avedis discovered an extremely musical metal alloy to create powerful, durable cymbals. The sultan named him “Zildjian,” Armenian for “son of the cymbal maker.” In 1623 Zildjian was allowed to leave the Ottoman palace and start his business which continued to be passed on from father to son. In 1929, business was inherited by the only surviving direct descendant male, a successful American candy maker in Baltimore. Zildjian established ties with the hot new African American jazz drummers of the day.” The company is now lead by the fourteenth generation–and first women chiefs in its long history. (www.zildjian.com)

The Oldest Family Business in the World


kongo temple

Japanese temple-builder Kongo Gumi has been in the family since 578. More than 1,400 years ago, Prince Shotoku brought Kongo family members to Japan from Korea to build the Buddhist Shitennoji Temple. Today, the 40th generation of this family builds and repairs religious temples and manages general contracting from its Osaka headquarters And the 41st generation is ready to carry on this amazing legacy. (www.kongogumi.co.jp). Continue Reading »

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Feb 22 2013

80/20 Rule of the Vital Few

Imagine your overall effectiveness if you reduced your tasks to 20% of your normal work load. Choose the right 20%, your productivity and effectiveness could actually increase!


Vilfredo Pareto, 1843-1923

It’s called the 80/20 Rule.

In 1906, Italian economist and sociologist, composed mathematical formula describing Switzerland’s dis-proportioned income distribution. Pareto observed 20 of the population held 80 percent of the nation’s wealth. Further studies of other countries, in other time periods, produced the dramatic result following the same pattern

—80% to 20%. Continue Reading »

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