EntrepreLeadership: Tips for Self-Leadership in Your Own Startup

3 Important Steps to Launch Your Online Business

Leadership Keyboard
 

Working in organizations and leading teams certainly has its up and downs; its joys and challenges.

The right organization and the right people in the right places is often very satisfying for everyone involved.

Some of the good things about working in an organization are:

  • Availability to work with others
  • Enjoying personal and professional growth for you and others
  • Being at a place that provides a certain level of resources and a bit of job security

However, leaving the financial security and resources that come with working at an organization to start your own business can be a scary thing to do.

Self-Leadership on Your Own

One way modern entrepreneurs are jumping into the brave new world of self-leadership is to start their own online business. Online businesses often provide relatively low barriers of entry and much more freedom to experiment with different ideas and approaches.

But taking this role requires a massive amount of self-leadership.

So for the brave, industrious, and inspired entrepreneurs who jump into this easy-to-enter world of an online business, self-leadership requires that they do their homework on the very fundamental aspects of launching their new venture.

Getting Up and Running

So if you are ready to go, you will need to follow some good advice and take a realistic few of what to do. This requires an open mind complemented with a healthy dose of discipline.

Think about this advice:

You are probably very anxious to finally get your site up and running so you can start earning some money. It is very understandable that you would feel this way. It is an exciting thing to start a new business.

However, you must remain patient and not get carried away.

Stay calm and do not neglect any essential tasks that you need to complete before the official launch of your site. Important details that you neglect now will most likely come back to haunt you at a later time.

3 Important Steps to Launch Your Online Business

Here are some of the most essential things to do before your site goes live.

1. Decide on a merchant service provider

You will need to sign up with a company that provides merchant services if you are going to be accepting payments on your site. This company will process all of the credit card payments on your site and keep a small percentage of each payment as their payment.

It is very important to shop around and compare the fees being charged by all of the various merchant service providers. You might be surprised by the disparity in the fees they charge. It will not cost you anything to contact all of these companies and see how much you will need to pay for their service.

You should also find out if they will require you to sign a contract. Ideally, you do not want to be involved with any company that will require you to be locked into a contract.

2. Test all facets of the site

Any good web site design company will be testing your site while they are designing it. However, the real test will begin once all of the designing has been completed. You would be wise to spend as much time as possible testing everything on your site to make sure that it works exactly how it is supposed to.

Many business owners who are about to launch a new site will hire people to test out the site and report any problems they find. They will also provide valuable feedback regarding the speed and maneuverability of the site.

The input of these people can be an extremely valuable tool in your quest to design a site that will capture the imagination of the general public. Your site needs to be working flawlessly by the time you go live.

3. Have your budget in place

You will have expenses once your site goes live. You need to be sure that you have enough money to cover them. This is why you need to create a budget for your business.

This will keep you aware of how much everything costs so you can adjust your spending properly. The daily operations of a website can become very costly if you are not careful. This is not even counting the money you will need to spend to promote it. Stick to the budget you have created as best you can.

However, you should always have some spare cash available for emergencies.

So, have you decided that you may want to jump into the world of being an online entrepreneur?  Or have you already gone down this path? What might be some other perspectives that you would add to this list? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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The Importance of Leading Your Future Today

6 Do's and Don'ts of Reputation Management

Reputation Management
 

Leadership today requires much more than just doing your job with the people who you lead. It now involves your public persona. 

This reality impacts your ability to influence with the global reach of the Internet. Things that you say and do are now are on display and can impact you, your role, and the organization that you work for. These things also have a funny way of staying around into perpetuity.

Your reputation, your role, and your business can change overnight with just a single Tweet.

If you are online doing business today, then you should understand a few things about your online reputation. First of all, you need reputation management no matter how small – or how big – your company may be. Secondly, you must understand how to properly use reputation management in the modern world of business.

This article will discuss some of the things that you must do as well as things from which you must stay away!

6 Do’s and Don’t’s of Reputation Management

1) Claim and complete all of your social media profiles

Because of the way citations are done, completing all of your major social media profiles will give you a boost in all of the search rankings.

Make sure that you have a profile on these sites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • SlideShare
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Pinterest
  • Yelp
  • About.me
  • YellowPages

and any reputable niche social media sites that are relevant to your industry.

Fill out these profiles as completely and uniquely as possible. Keep the address the exact same on all profiles. Do not abbreviate if you can help it. List a local number that matches with the zip code that you are advertising instead of an 800 number.

This will help to maximize your search listing juice and will help fill the search engine result page (SERP) with online profiles that you control.

2) Don’t rely on your personal websites alone to get the job done

Most people will find your business from your major social media profiles at the start of your campaign. You may be able to redirect traffic from those places to your landing pages later on, but the major websites will always have a juice that your personal websites will probably never attain.

Starting multiple WordPress or Tumblr accounts to build a link profile will probably serve you in a negative way, as the major search engines are all against this technique. They have protection mechanisms against it. And these thin, minimal blogs will have very little chance of ranking well themselves for your brand or personal terms.

Yet there are many who still try to rely on building dozens of micro-blogs for their business in order to try to overcome negative content on the SERPs.

3) Do take time to build an authentic online presence

Not only does authenticity help you with your human visitors, but the major search engines love it as well. If you are seen as an expert guest blogger and you are on reputable sites, then these sites will often appear high in the SERPs for your branded terms.

If the information that you tout matches your social media personality, this maximizes your effort. As a matter of fact, you may want to take the time to use Google Disavow to disconnect your landing pages from any spam techniques that you may have employed previously.

Poor links to your site are tantamount to being seen in a bad neighborhood.

They’re simply bad for your online reputation.

4) Don’t try to downgrade your competition with fake reviews

Not only is this a waste of time, but review sites like Yelp.com are actually quite good at determining what may be a fake review and completely destroying it. On top of this, if they link it to you, then your business suffers.

Even if you do get a few fake reviews up, your time is much better spent making your own reputation positive, as creating negativity for a competitor does not help your visibility at all.

5) Do be proactive when you see something that needs to be fixed

You should look at authentic negative reviews as an opportunity to fix a problem before your competition gets to fix it and take your business away from you.

Many companies will use an aggregation program to see if there are any trends in the comments that people are making. The company mentioned can then devise a strategy based upon these trends rather than guessing at their next PR move.

6) Don’t ignore your online reputation and try to fix it at the last-minute

Why should you never do this? First of all, it never works. If people have already run your name through the mud, then you will spend a great deal of time trying to play catch up rather than improving your ranking online.

As you learn how to incorporate the tips above into your everyday marketing online, you will see a gradual but consistent shift in your online visibility. Keep this up for the long-term, and your business will eventually occupy a position online that will be very hard to usurp.

As the reputation of your business ages online, it crystallizes. Make sure that you give it the best chance to crystallize as a positive for your business.

So, how well have you done to make sure that your online persona is working well for you? Are you represented well by having a comprehensive mindset and approach to your online presence? What steps can you take to cast a positive light on you, your organization, and the opportunities ahead of you? I would love to hear your thought!

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Tayven James

Tayven James is a Freelance Business and Tech Author
He focuses on Emerging Trends and the Marketing Methods Behind their Success
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter

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On Leadership and Overcoming a Crisis

By Jack Davis

Lemonade
 

Make no mistake about it, there will be moments when a crisis strikes. Life has a way of making sure that plenty of lemons come our way.

And it seem that none of us can escape this truth.

Leaders often have to manage through crisis. This can only be done with good information. Because of a crisis, you may feel like your life has been a waste. But don’t worry… there are plenty of chances to turn those lemons into something good.

Mistakes are Inevitable

In my experience, no one is always happy, excited, or hopeful. We may not always see progress. At times we see things slipping backwards. Sometimes through no fault of our own, yet often through our own mistakes as well. Everyone makes mistakes, the mistake is not the important part, the lesson is.

Here is a key truth to overcoming our mistakes:

Admitting your mistake quickly positions you to extract wisdom from it

That’s right. You learn when you admit your mistakes openly and transparently.

Laugh them off, brush them off, learn the lesson, and move on to your next (even greater) accomplishment!

You see, pain births a willingness to change. No matter what has to change around you, the first thing to change is YOU. Renew your mind to what a crisis is to you.

These steps may help:

Understand that your feelings are created by your focus

What you are focusing on determines how you feel. Here are a few ways to change your feelings:

  • Through focus
  • Through music
  • Through the people around you
  • Through praise

And if you are so inclined…

  • Through worship

Understand that your feelings can change as quickly as they arrived

Did you suddenly get upset at something? Then you are able to suddenly get happy again! It’s all a matter of what you decide to focus on. That will get your joy back.

Nothing is ever as bad as it first appears

What you see as a loss is actually an investment – if you perceive it through new eyes. Bad times can activate great relationships. Think about it, when the bad time hit, your fair weather friends left, didn’t they? But your true friends stuck with you. Your relationship with them is now cemented even better than before. What a wonderful gift to receive! Absolutely priceless in my book.

Quitting does not improve your life

WOW, WOW, WOW! This one hit me strongly the first time I read it. It just never occurred to me that QUITTING HAS NO REWARD. What does quitting give you? Regret, guilt, shame, more fear, less faith. Nope, I don’t want any of those, I’ve had enough of feeling those things. So I have decided today that I’m not quitting. How about you?

Endurance is a bridge

Everyone walks through a wilderness experience. Everyone walks through the rough places. Everyone experiences crisis, even those who seem to “have it all together.” Get real. They don’t. If you could see deeper into their lives, you would see that they don’t have it all together.

Instead, see that your endurance will increase access to someone – a friend, someone to help you, someone to encourage you, someone to help you solve the problem.

Your endurance is a testimony of encouragement to others

Someone is watching your life. Someone is learning from what you are doing. Someone is secretly rooting for you to win. People love to see the underdog win. So if you are feeling like that underdog today, take courage in knowing that when you do win, it will be a heroic and inspirational story! You will encourage others with it! So today, allow encouragement to sink in. You will win if you do not give up.

Always know that I am here to help put things in perspective and to be your friend and encourager!

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——————-
Jack Davis

Jack Davis is a John Maxwell Certified Success Coach and Speaker
He serves as Coach, YouthMax Speaker & Board Member Team Xtreme Ministries
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L2L Weekender: Leading Socially Responsible Investing

Is Socially Responsible Investing A Realistic Strategy To Follow?

Socially Responsible Investing
 

Is your leadership going above and beyond what you do as a boss? Are you thinking beyond your day job or your specific corporate role and looking into how your decisions affect a bigger picture?

And are you considering how your influence on a personal level can impact local, regional, national, or international concerns that can benefit society as a whole?

To be sure, anyone in a position of leadership has learned specific skills that are felt in the immediate realm. The question becomes can you lead in a different way that utilizes your skills and helps promote wise investments in a much longer-term way?

Investing Your Influence

If you have been recently surfing the web and browsing through sites such as the ones owned by Fisher Investments and other companies in search of investment information, you may have come across a term that baffled you.

While sources, such as the Fisher site, may contain a capsule definition of the term “Socially Responsible Investing,” you may still be wondering what this term actually amounts to in practice.

You may also be wondering if such a strategy is even possible to adopt, or if it is the right one for you to employ in the course of your own investment activity.

What Is Meant By “Socially Responsible Investing?”

A concise definition of “Socially Responsible Investing” might run as follows: Investment activity by people who wish to support or reward companies for engaging in activity that they feel is beneficial to the international community.

For example, a person who follows the Socially Responsible Investing strategy might choose to invest in companies whose activities coincide with their own deeply held political, economic, or ecological beliefs.

They may make use of the technique of shareholder advocacy. This is the technique by which they use their power as a shareholder to influence the policies of the company they invest in.

For example, they may use this technique to influence the company into adopting better safety standards, abandoning dangerous industrial practices, or giving better pay and representation to female or minority employees.

A Practical Use Of Socially Responsible Investing Techniques

People who make practical use of their socially responsible investing principles tend to screen the companies they are willing to invest in according to three general principles.

The first principle is known as the “Negative Screen.”

The negative screen basically boils down to a practical refusal to invest in any company that sells products or engages in activities that the investor personally views as harmful or immoral.

This could translate into a refusal to invest in a tobacco company, or an oil company that is prone to oil spills and other activities that affect the environment in a negative way.

What Is The “Positive Screen” Technique?

The “Positive Screen” technique involves the investor giving their support to a company that they feel not only earns its profits in an ethical manner, but also uses these profits to support causes that the investor also approves of.

This could mean anything from a company that supports wildlife conservation to a business that engages directly in the construction and distribution of environmentally friendly solar panels.

Keep in mind that the definition of “Positive” is a highly subjective one, and will differ greatly depending on the mindset of the person who makes use of such criteria.

What Is The “Restricted Screen” Technique?

The final screening technique is usually known as the “Restricted Screen.” This means that the company in question may engage in activities that the investor may highly approve of, but may also be involved in other activities which raise a red flag of caution in their mind.

The dilemma is normally resolved when the investor weighs the effects of the company’s “positive” activity against the “negative,” and makes up their own mind whether to go ahead and invest in this company or not.

Leading Outside of Self

When a leader takes on a much larger role in which to influence decisions and uses those skills to better society, they are able to create a legacy that goes beyond their corporate role or day job.

Investing in areas that bring about a better planet is a great way to be able to look into the mirror and feel confidence and maturity about using your skills and talents toward something big.

So how are you doing in developing your personal professional skills in your career? And better yet, how can you take those skills and make a personal commitment to use those skills and talents to leave a large footprint on your leadership legacy? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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The Paradox of Leadership and New Mindsets

Leading with Honor Video Coaching from Lee Ellis

Balance Paradox
 

Changing Your Mindset About Stinky Fish: Embracing Leadership Growth

The temptation is there for all us, but it’s easier to notice in others – “Why do they lead this organization the same old way? And why do they only see life from their myopic view?

dead fishThe ability to break free from old mindsets and gain new ones is a valuable attribute—especially for leaders who find themselves thrown into paradox.

And what does it have to do with stinky fish??

Read Now

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——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Ter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

Send Them to a Movie, Don’t Train Them!

by A.D. Roberts

Movie
 

People love training when it’s entertaining and they enjoy themselves.

They like it when the training gives them information that provides hope. Hope that their life will get easier, that the organization will be more successful, that their job security is enhanced, etc.

It’s good when you leave a training session fired up and ready to go use the techniques that you’ve learned. It’s good when you feel you’ve learned all the information you need to solve your workplace problems.

What’s bad is—thinking the training session alone will change anything!

Do What You’re Told!

People do not learn from being told or exposed to the information one time. Research shows we need an average of six exposures to the information with reinforcement (using the information you were exposed to) between the exposures to retain the information.

Of course the complexity of the task and each individual’s previous life experiences are just a couple of the factors that will determine how many exposures to the information being trained the individual will need.

Do the Math

I’ve done training programs costing hundreds of thousands of dollars with multiple sessions of in-depth information. I always advise management that in order for a training session to have a positive effect, the participants must have multiple exposures to the information.

Since I am only paid to deliver the information once, the organization (with my help) must use other methods to ensure that everyone gets their multiple exposures. It can be structured and timed e-mails that require a response to all participants. Or it can be a strategically placed sign with key elements of the training. Or even supporting audio materials playing in the break room, etc.

I offer clients a number of different ways to give their participants multiple exposures at no additional cost. Even when it’s easy and inexpensive, many clients do not provide follow-up activities and methods for multiple exposures.

The truth is, if you are not going to provide the necessary multiple exposures then, “SEND THEM TO A MOVIE, DON’T TRAIN THEM!” It will only be an entertaining waste of money that way.

Square Peg, Square Hole

Square PegAnother critical aspect of training retention is adjusting organizational policy and procedures to fit the new requested methods of behavior. Once individuals are trained to perform through new and different procedures and techniques, their evaluation and performance procedures and policies must be altered to support the new behaviors, If they are not, then they are forced to return to the old behaviors.

People cannot do something differently if they are forced down an opposing path.

One of the reasons I have observed to explain this phenomena is a lack of participation from the decision-makers (management) in the training. If management does not fully understand the information being delivered, they cannot adjust the policies and procedures to fit the requested behaviors and procedures.

If you aren’t going to change the policies and procedures to support the purchased training, “SEND THEM TO A MOVIE, DON’T TRAIN THEM!”

Big Picture

As a professional trainer, coach, and consultant, my mission is to share information that makes my clients more profitable, gives them a better work environment, increases customer satisfaction, and builds individual and organization success.

Entertaining people is fun; however, educating them so they can achieve their goals and aspirations in life is much better! Make training count! Give your team the information but also the supporting elements that ensure their retention of that information and organizational success.

So please take this REAL advice:

DON’T TAKE THEM TO A MOVIE, TRAIN THEM RIGHT!

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——————–
Tony Roberts
A. D. Roberts is President/CEO of A. D. Roberts Consulting, Inc. in North Augusta, SC
He helps with Leadership & Interpersonal Communication Consulting & Training

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Want or Need? Rethink Your Recruitment Priorities

Recognizing Long-term Potential Means Looking Beyond Short-term Expectations

Uncle Sam Recruiter
 

Before preparing a new job posting, recognize that the “ideal” candidate does not exist—yet.

In trying to separate the good from the great, people like to start with perfection and list all the traits that make someone ‘ideal.’

The Difference Between Needs and Wants

Whether it is describing the ideal mate, planning the perfect day, or defining the ideal candidate for a position, conventional wisdom holds that by making a wish list covering every preference, you have a firm base for comparing your options.

The trouble with this approach is that people are usually very bad at distinguishing “needs” from “wants.” You see this disconnect often in the form of budgeting and buying decisions, but the same principle applies to recruitment.

Think of this way: Needs are basics; Wants are all bonuses.

Typically, a new-hire wish list is made up of few Needs, layered between lots of Wants that ultimately hurt your chances of finding the best fit for the job.

Aim to Replicate Success

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat through a meeting where a new job posting is being drawn up, and the “must have” column gets so big and detailed, that even existing employees wouldn’t be able to fit every requirement.

You can define true Needs quickly by looking at what makes your current team function. Not what makes them excel—that comes later, through practice and slow, steady cultural integration.

It is easy to reinvent the wheel when preparing to do recruiting, but expecting new hires to come in to your organization ready to meet and exceed the performance of existing employees is beyond unrealistic, and sets the whole relationship up for failure.

Plan on Remedial Training

The fact is, you need to plan for remediation in any recruitment effort.

Too many executives hear this and think it is a compromise: if they aren’t getting the absolute most skilled recruits, they must be settling for mediocrity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any job in any company has a learning curve.

Bruce Tulgan, researcher, author, and expert on generational issues in the workplace, explains how organizations face a baseline skills gap even in the most promising new, youthful recruits.

He says this:

One of the things we’ve measured over 23 years is, what are the hiring managers saying? And an awful lot of what they’re saying, with increasing incidence, is that [Millennials] have the hard skills, but they lack the old-fashioned soft skills.” 

Before you can capitalize on any fresh talent, your recruits have some learning to do to get acquainted with your company, your staff, your product, your mission, your systems, your expectations (let’s face it: nobody is completely forthcoming in an interview).

If every new hire is going to require an upfront investment to train and get up to speed, why pretend that raw talent matters more than the will and ability to learn, fit in, and care from day one?

Tulgan goes on to say:

One of the things you have to do to succeed with the new young workforce, is find a way to channel their fresh training and new technology that they’re comfortable with, the new processes, new ideas, new energy—you have to find a way to tap that. But you also have to find a way to teach them some of the ‘here is how we do things around here, and this is our culture.’”

Reframe Your Needs as Learning Opportunities

Getting the best talent on your staff isn’t just a recruiting challenge, it is a responsibility of management and leadership. Know that going into a new hire decision, and you can make sure they know they are expected to learn, grow, and evolve alongside your organization, from the beginning.

Presenting potential recruits with a role as a learning opportunity allows you to cultivate a cultural fit alongside the skills fit your organization needs. This is where an investment of effort on their part will be met with an investment of training, high expectations, and coaching on your part.

Tulgan continues with this:

Good management is synonymous with teaching, and good followership is synonymous with learning. Good management is constantly, systematically focusing on what they can do to make things better. People should be doing that up, down, and sideways every step of the way.”

Whether that is remediating soft skills in Millennial recruits, or getting older workers up to date with the latest technology, every member of your team needs both expectations, and opportunities to continue learning and growing.

Attract Character by Demonstrating Character

If your hard skill need happens to be programming, remember that:

You don’t need the best programmer in the business, you need the best programmer your company and your culture can attract and retain.

When it comes to posting a new job and attracting candidates, you have more reach and access than ever before. The number of resources and opportunities you have to set yourself apart from the other dull, grey “Help Wanted” postings online (especially free ones) gives you freedom to experiment, have fun, and put the focus from the very beginning on what really matters: finding the right fit.

Try doing this:

  • Convey that you take cover letters as seriously as resumes.
  • Show how skills needs align with cultural norms.
  • Ask what you can learn from applicants, and what they hope to learn from you

If you are looking for skills without consideration for character, you’re trying to hire a robot, not a person. As a result, your job posting is probably going to come across as equally robotic.

Finding someone with the right skills who also fits your company’s culture requires you to not just ask for evidence of skills, but demonstrate an interest in the person offering to help you.

What are the most unique, captivating job postings you’ve ever seen? What made them memorable? How can you go from advertising a job to advertising a culture? Are you focusing on too much on Wants and forgetting what your organization truly Needs? How are you helping your youngest team members learn the soft skills that allow them to fully realize the value their hard skills can provide?

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——————–

Edgar Wilson is a Writer, Consultant, and Analyst
He follows trends in Education, Healthcare, and Public Policy
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Creating an Atmosphere of Collaboration

How to Use Icebreakers for Powerful Results

Atmosphere of Collaboration
 

This past week, I had a project team meeting. The project had a number of people on it that I hadn’t worked with before.

When the project began, we all had very divergent ideas on how we were going to accomplish our end goal.

I’ve found over the years, that the less clear something is on a project, the more apt there is to be a misunderstanding and/or miscommunication. Along with the many different ideas, I was working with many different personalities.

And some were quite stronger than others!

I decided that to get the best results for our project it was necessary to begin by building an “Atmosphere of Collaboration.”

I wanted to initiate an activity that demonstrated our need for clarity and the need for teamwork. I thought about the many diverse “collaboration ice breakers”  I had read about and researched and found a few possible ideas. But when they didn’t seem to fully apply to the task at hand, I was inspired to create my own activity.

Breaking the Ice in Style

Not only did the activity generate some really thought-provoking and idea-inducing conversation, but it turned out to actually be fun!

I called it the “Jungle Survival Challenge.”

Here’s a quick overview of how the activity is played:

  • Divide the group up into small teams (2-4 people each)
  • Pass out the “Survival List.” This is a written list that catalogs 60-80 items and keep them face-down until the timer is set.
  • Read the instructions to the participants and ensure everyone understands.
  • Begin the timer and provide notice of the half way point, two-minute warning, one minute and then count down from 10 seconds until the time expires.

Read the following “instructions” to the group:

You and your team have been flying in a small plane and encountered a small storm that has forced the captain to land the plane. There was not a clearing for a runway so the pilot was forced to try to land in a jungle. Unfortunately, the pilot did not survive the crash,  and you and your team are uncertain where you are.

You all must gather your supplies quickly and get away from the plane though, as fast as you can because the plane is on fire and it will likely explode within minutes!

You and your team have five minutes to agree on what supplies you need to survive and get out of there! Unfortunately, you failed to prepare for a disaster in advance, so you need to pack your Bug Out Bag with the 10 items that you think you will need most.

NOTE: Let the team members collaborate on which items they will need to choose together to survive in the jungle.

Inspect What You Expect

Here is the suggested debrief of the activity:

  • Have each team review/discuss the 10 items they selected and why.
  • Point out the similarities and the differences.
  • As you recap the activity, you may want to say something like the following:

This activity is much like a team project. We all have differing ideas on what we need, and most of the teams made different selections, but they all still contained the four basic types of supplies. (Most teams will select a source of light, a form of shelter, some type of fire, and some food.)

As with a project, there were clearly some differing thoughts about what supplies were needed. Yet, most of you were able to come to an agreement as to what your team needed in a relatively short period of time, set clear expectations and discern the common goal. (If a team does not have a smooth experience, then use that as a teachable moment of the dangers of a project  failing if everyone doesn’t work together.)


Kickstart CardsNot Just Another Icebreaker!™
Free Deck and Free Training


Leading Through Variables

Participating in this activity helped to align the project team and allowed them to begin to realize all the variables of a project. I found that it also went a long way to committing us to working together to make the project a success.

If you consistently promote an atmosphere of collaboration, it is exceedingly likely that your project will run smoothly and efficiently and it will lead your team to a successful outcome.

So, what type of success have you had using things like icebreakers, interactive activities, or problem-solving exercises to increase collaboration and teamwork? Which ones have been most successful? Which ones flopped? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Leonard Cochran, CPLP

Leonard Cochran, CPLP is Manager Learning Programs for Hilton Worldwide
He helps people Identify and Move Toward their God-Given Talents
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On Leadership, Forgiveness and the Authentic Leader

Leading with the Open Honesty called Vulnerability

Forgiveness
 

It is widely accepted that forgiveness is a sacred act…a sacrifice! But did you know that this single act has a lot to do with our authenticity as leaders?

Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” ~Andy Stanley

Having just written On Leadership, Suffering and the Sacrificial Leader, there is perhaps no better follow-on. From two Latin words: Sacer (sacred, holy) and Facere (to do, perform), nothing seems to touch the experience of both leader and follower quite like the sacrifice of forgiveness.

One of my favorite authors on servanthood and servant-leadership, Chuck Swindoll, describes forgiveness in the most practical, flesh and bone, earthy terms imaginable in Improving Your Serve:

It is tears of deepest sorrow and joyous relief. It is humiliation and affirmation. It is guilt grappling with grace, pain pursuing peace.”

These are aspects of forgiveness that should hold our attention and have our allegiance as leaders. Why? Because as Chuck says this:

…however we describe [forgiveness, it is] one of the most powerful acts of servanthood we can participate in—and one of the most difficult.”

It is powerful because the deeper the sorrow the greater the joy; the greater the humiliation, the higher the affirmation. It is difficult because guilt necessarily grapples with grace and there is pain in pursuing peace.

The Case for Forgiveness and Leadership

The roots connecting forgiveness to leadership in the organizational context run deep in the servant model. Dr. Jeffrey D. Yergler has done all of us a remarkable service by writing the 3-part series The Servant Leader and the Exercise of Forgiveness in the Context of the Organization, and for the sake of space I will simply point the reader there for further study.

Role Playing for Real Leadership

Because leadership is really about influence or impact, there are two distinct roles in the forgiveness process for every real leader and follower: that of the offender and that of the offended. If we are the offender, we need to understand more about repentance as David Augsburger describes it in Caring Enough to Confront:

Repentance is living in the open honesty called vulnerability. Repentance is growing in the decisive honesty we call responsibility.”

Anyone who becomes a student of servant-leadership will have the opportunity to learn many times over the immense value in living vulnerably and growing responsibly through our mistakes—specifically the ineffective impact that our restrictive leadership strategies or passive/aggressive-defensive thinking styles have on others.

But then there comes occasion for playing the role of the offended. Are we as prone to extend forgiveness in the learning process to others as we are in asking for it when needed ourselves? The answer to this question goes beyond vulnerability and responsibility to things far deeper and potentially far more insidious in our character: hypocrisy and accountability.

From Hypocrisy to Authenticity

The basic idea here is that the act of failing to extend forgiveness to others, when we routinely need and receive it ourselves, is hypocritical. This hypocrisy destroys our authenticity and, as a result, our ability to take responsibility for our mistakes or to hold others accountable for mistakes that are clearly within their span of control.

Before going farther, it is important that I explain what is meant by “…holding others accountable for mistakes that are clearly within their span of control.” This is not fixing the blame or playing the blame game. It is first and foremost the hard work of finding common causes of variation and then fixing the system.

In the vast majority of cases, the perceived error can be attributed to a management system that is outside the span of control for most in your leadership impact area. For the vital few that actually are attributable to factors that are truly local faults, I’ll defer the reader again to Dr. Yergler’s series on servant-leadership and forgiveness, with particular focus on Part III:

…forgiveness helps servant-leaders hold employees accountable for the stewardship of the organization in terms of production quality and the return on the investment of assets. Though forgiveness must consistently be applied regardless of the person or performance, servant-leaders should always expect a return on the action of forgiveness (ROForgiveness).”

And here-in lays the relationship to our role as offender. When we seek forgiveness for our mistakes and actually change our leadership behavior as a result, we model this practice for those who will themselves be expected, at some point, to improve their performance.

As forgiveness is extended for mistakes that offend our accountability for proper stewardship of organizational resources and finances, whether in areas of core values or organizational processes, there can authentically (and should rightly) be a connection to personal and/or performance change.

The Return on Forgiveness

The full return on forgiveness comes through the commitment of the forgiven to learn, change and grow and, in the organization, will remain largely unknown and unknowable.

There are a few ways, however, in which some of the return might be measured:

  1. Marked change in attitude or behavior
  2. Demonstrable growth in knowledge, skills or abilities
  3. Improvement of overall effort in performance, etc.

That said, much of the return depends on how it is carried out and the extent of the personal/ performance change demanded of good stewardship. In the worst case, the change may result in reassignment or termination-for-cause. Dr. Yergler again has incredible insight here:

Unintended mistakes, though always forgivable, are in some cases not worth the risk of a repeated failure. Even in reassignment or termination, forgiveness by the servant-leader remains an act of grace and can foster new beginnings for the person and the organization.”

I love that he goes on to describe this act of grace as something “…profoundly restorative, empowering and generative of the human spirit.” For the servant-leader, there is no alternative, particularly when called upon to make the most difficult decisions in the organization…those that directly impact the lives of others at the point of greatest vulnerability.

So, when was the last time you asked for forgiveness as a leader? When was the last time you extended forgiveness to others as a leader? Here’s an even tougher question: How have your actions to forgive as a leader: (a) helped others realize that their self-worth is not tied to their mistakes and (b) reinforced the idea that learning from them is an inelegant, but essential process for worthwhile change and growth? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Richard Dillard

Richard S. Dillard is Founder/ Managing Partner at Dillard Partners, LLC
Pursuing Success at the Speed of Leadership!
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On Leadership and the Dangers of the Internet of Things

What Business Leaders Need to Know to Keep Safe in Cyberspace

Internet of Things
 

It’s clear there’s a lot of excitement when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT). The idea of becoming part of a fully interconnected world creates some intriguing possibilities, so much of the excitement is certainly justified.

With new technology, however, come definite fears. Of course, it is possible to take these fears too far. Scaremongering is nothing new after all, especially regarding technology, so it’s easy to dismiss these concerns as overreactions or exaggerations.

Fear stoking aside, the IoT does introduce new risks that are easy to overlook. Simply dismissing them actually does a disservice to the efforts being made to fight them. While overreacting is definitely not a preferred decision, ignoring the potential dangers of the IoT would be just as unwise.

Market Potential

The IoT industry is serious business, one that could be worth up to $300 billion, according to Gartner. With such a lucrative market just starting to find its legs, businesses have been eager to develop their own products, devices, and gadgets that take advantage of a ubiquitous connection, allowing companies to collect tons of data on their customers.

To call it a mad rush to gain a foothold in the IoT market would probably be an understatement. Businesses want their products out there, and they need them out there today.

Security Risk

In all this rush, security tends to take a backseat. Many manufacturers tend to ignore the secure-by-design approach when it comes to making their devices. This approach basically means that gadgets are created from the ground up with security in mind from the beginning.

It requires extra time, resources, and patience for companies to do this, something many aren’t willing to sacrifice. That means many enterprises are more focused on getting their devices out on the market and intend to worry about security later.

Needless to say, this opens up a lot of potential dangers.

Paying Close Attention

It’s a problem that’s getting widespread attention. Even the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent out a warning last year, telling businesses they needed to make security and customer privacy a priority when making their IoT devices.

The FTC said that gadgets need to be designed with security in mind from the very start, instead of just adding new features in after the fact. Considering all of the possible devices that could connect to the IoT, it’s a word of warning that consumers will likely want to hear.

When speaking of the Internet of Things, the basic concept includes connecting nearly everything we use to the web in some way. This allows the devices to communicate with each other as well as the user.  As many are well aware of, the current devices we use (smartphones, tablets, etc.) carry the possibility of being hacked or infected with malware.

Imagine the headaches, expense, lost business, and the opportunity cost for leaders in business who get targeted and hacked. It can be devastating.

Losing Control

Losing control of something as important as a smartphone is painful enough. Now imagine if a household kitchen appliance were to be taken control of by a cyber attacker. Smart homes have long been touted as one of the benefits of the IoT, and they certainly do offer more convenience and greater capabilities.

At the same time, however, smart homes have the potential to be hacked, giving a malicious person control of things like lighting, heating, and even security systems. It’s no laughing matter and has even prompted the FBI to issue a warning of its own.

Beyond Your Business

The dangers go further than our business devices or our homes. Self-driving cars could become a mainstream reality one day, and there have already been examples of tech experts being able to hack cars from a distance. One doesn’t need to be an expert to know what kinds of dangers that introduces to the roads, and when self-driving cars are more prominent, the danger only increases.

Cars are only one hacking target that gets a lot of attention. Many systems and devices fall below the radar, like critical infrastructure (power plants, industrial machines). The IoT has a lot of security concerns to address as more things become connected to the internet.

Lead with Security in Mind

Much like the problems plaguing Hadoop security, IoT security may face similar obstacles if not constructed with security risks in mind from the start. Those fears can be faced though, and security challenges can be overcome.

It will require even more effort and development from the top tech experts and companies in the world, but eventually we’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of the Internet of Things without having to constantly worry if we’re truly safe.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Rick Delgado

Rick Delgado is a Freelance Writer
He specialized in Technology and Business Growth
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