Merge's Blog

Yearly Archives: 2010

We’ll be back on January 11

It’s that time of the year again … holiday parties, visiting friends and family, taking some well-deserved time off.  And that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.  So I’m taking a short break from the Turning Managers into Leaders blog, but worry not, dear readers.  I’ll be back on January 11, full of vim and vigor, and ready to go with lots more tips, ideas and dialogues on becoming an even better leader than you already are!

I wish all of you the very best of the holiday season, may all your dreams come true!  I look forward to meeting up with you again in what promises to be a fabulous and fantastic 2011!

Five things every leader should know about the multi-generational workplace

CGA1112-2010CoverThere has never been such a diversity of generations in the workplace as there is today. In fact, it is not unusual to find people from each of the four generational demographics – Traditionalists, Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials – in a single department.  Each generation brings its own values, expectations, habits, and work styles into the workplace. Leaders who can understand and appreciate each of the four generations will create innovation, better quality, and greater productivity in their organizations.  In the latest issue of CGA Magazine, I outlined five must-know things to make it happen.  Read the entire article here.

What do you think?  Have I missed anything?

And our lucky contest winners are …

Last month we asked for your help in determining our content for our 2011 Leadership Skills Series Live audio conferences, and your feedback was FANTASTIC!  Thank you for participating!  We also promised that we would draw for three chances to win one of my Leadership Skills audio programs, either in downloadable mp3 or CD format, a $197 value.  Our winners are … drumroll please …

  • Sophia Hanafi, Ottawa ON
  • Amanda Martin, Murfreesboro TN
  • Richard Feil, Yellowknife NT

Our three winners will choose their favourite learning program from any of my Leadership Skills audio courses (you can preview the entire collection here).

Good leadership = getting the right people

MergePrezAwardLast week, I attended the annual convention for the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) in Montreal QC.  In addition to being a proud member of this professional association, I also sit on their National Board where I head up the Branding and Visibility portfolio.  Much to my surprise and absolute delight, I received a great honour at the awards ceremony on closing night — the highly-coveted President’s Award was given to my committee for some key initiatives we undertook this past year!  As hard as it might be for many of you to believe, this tribute left me completely speechless! 🙂  The truth is I had absolutely no idea that our work was so highly-regarded.  I just thought that we were doing what we were supposed to do!

Since then, after several conversations with our President and other key players, I think I’ve finally figured it out.  Without even realizing how significant and instrumental it was to our ultimate success, I made a key decision early in the year.  I went out to our membership of over 450 professional speakers, each one a specialist in their area of expertise, and sought out the four best experts I could find in the fields of marketing and branding — a business marketing expert, a branding expert, a former marketing executive and a university marketing professor — and using my superior persuasive powers :), I convinced them to join my committee.  And you know what?  It’s totally amazing what a group of people can do when they put their minds and talents to work for the collective good.  As a team, bringing a variety of talents and skills together, we made great strides in moving our association forward.  And now I get it — that’s exactly why our President recognized us with this distinction.

Good leadership means recognizing the importance of getting the right mix of talent and skills together in order to accomplish a goal.  I just love it when I’m a good leader without even thinking about it!!  What about you?  Have you put this leadership principle to work yet?

The power of focus

The ocean floor

One of my favourite ocean activities is to snorkel. And I’ve been doing it for many years with great enjoyment. But on a recent trip to Hawai’i, a park ranger gave me some advice I’d never heard before. He said, “When you snorkel, don’t swim around trying to find the biggest and most colourful fish and ocean-life. Instead, decide on one square yard of the ocean bottom, and then watch that section for at least five minutes. You’ll see more in those five minutes than you’ll see in one hour of swimming around. Intrigued, I tried it. Sure enough, when I started to concentrate on just one small section of ocean floor, I began to see things I had never noticed before. Tiny, semi-transparent jellyfish hovering over a clump of tube coral; miniature hermit crabs who’d taken up residence in snail shells, nearly invisible were it not for their antennae waving in the water; little, electric-blue wrasses darting through the algae; bold needlefish swimming quickly between the waving fronds of branch coral; sea cucumbers almost buried in the sand, their presence only known by the almost-imperceptible movement of their tentacles; and a whole lot more! By focusing on one defined area, I suddenly discovered aspects of underwater ocean life that I never even knew existed.

In the everyday challenges of the workplace, it’s far too simple to get distracted by a plethora of ongoing initiatives and unexpected crises. It’s very easy to chase the big and colourful fish! Yet, what would happen if you were to stop and focus on just one specific issue or subject for a short period of time? Would you start noticing some of the small details that might have escaped you in the past? Could you get insights, could you uncover perspectives that you had never considered before? I think it might be worth doing – the power of focus could help you find unexpected and favourable outcomes.

What do you think?

Our 2011 Leadership Topics survey results are in!

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Thanks everyone for participating!  Your insights are invaluable!

We’ll be analyzing the results further in the next few weeks as we plan our audio conference schedule for next year, but in the meantime, here are the top three picks in terms of overall rating.

  1. Are We Having Fun Yet? – motivating your team and increasing performance
  2. Juggling Your Workload – prioritization and time management skills for leaders
  3. Emotional Intelligence – the keys to working more effectively with others

We promised prize winners, so we”ll be randomly drawing for lucky winners from all the entries received.  We’ll announce the winners on this blog early next week and notify them individually as well.  These lucky three will get their choice of a Leadership Series Live audio CD or mp3.  Eleven to choose from, and you can see them here.

Use your intuition to make better strategic decisions

ChiliJeff Mowatt is a customer service strategist and I am proud to say, my professional colleague.  I was delighted when he agreed to be my guest-blogger today, and I was even more excited when he told me it was going to be about chili!  Alas, this wasn’t chili that I could eat :).  Turns out that Jeff likens how a chef cooks a pot of chili to how leaders should hone their intuition.

Chili and Your Intuition: 4 ingredients for making better strategic decisions

As a business owner or manager, what you ultimately rely on most when deciding your company’s future is your intuition. The challenge with so many stakeholders relying on you to make the ‘right’ decision is ensuring that your instincts are reliable. Effective leaders hone their intuition the way a chef cooks a pot of chili. Like chili, intuition needs to include the right ingredients and then be allowed to simmer a while. Here are four ingredients for you to stew on. Continue reading

Our survey deadline is approaching!

Our survey deadline is 11:45 PM MST on December 3, 2010, only five days away! This is your chance to win one of three valuable prizes, and our chance to get your input for our topics and content for our 2011 Leadership Skills Series Live audio conferences.

Checkmark

Click here for our quick ‘n’ easy survey

In return for your time, we’ll enter your name in a draw for three chances to win one of my Leadership Skills audio programs, either in downloadable mp3 or CD format, a $197 value. There are eleven you can choose from, and you can preview them all here.

Do it now – in won’t take more than 5 minutes, we promise! We’ll announce the winner here as well as in December’s issue of Merge’s Monthly Mega Minute.

Good listening: it’s about staying “checked-in”

Interesting fact: people speak anywhere from 120-300 words per minute.

Even more interesting fact: the human brain is capable of processing information anywhere from 600-2,000 words per minute.

EarSo no matter which end of the range you select, when someone else is talking, your brain can process information about 2-7 times faster than the other person can speak.  Which suggests that while you’re participating in a conversation, you have a lot of free time! 😀  As funny as that sounds, this explains why our minds tend to wander — it’s because people can’t speak fast enough to keep our minds occupied.  I call this phenomenon “checking in and checking out.”  It’s what our brains do under normal circumstances — we “check in”, listen to a portion of the conversation, and then “check out” and go somewhere else.  We then return frequently, doing the same thing each time.  And in most situations, this constant checking-in/checking-out gives us sufficient knowledge of the topic being discussed so that we can actually participate intelligently.  However, there are times when it is essential to stay more “checked-in,” such as when the topic is important, or complicated, or tied to personal or professional goals. In future blog posts, I’ll offer some specific ideas on HOW to stay checked in.  But for now, I have a question:

What situations (personal or professional) can you think of where it is absolutely critical to stay “checked-in”?

Ineffective meetings have a bottom-line financial cost

Have you ever attended the meeting from hell? Yes, you know the one – the objectives are undefined, the meeting crawls on for hours, personalities clash, disagreements take over, and progress grinds to a halt.  In short, nothing gets accomplished.  If you’ve been to even one bad meeting, then in my opinion, that’s one meeting too many!

Have you ever stopped to consider exactly how much these non-productive meetings are costing you and your organization?  Let’s just say you have a regular weekly meeting with five attendees that runs for two hours.  At an average salary of $50,000 per year, that translates roughly to $25 per hour.  If you add in benefits, that takes you to about $35 an hour.  Five people at two hours times 50 weeks a year equals $17,500.  And this total doesn’t include any additional costs such as travel, equipment charges, and catering expenses, nor the costs of replacement coverage while people at the meeting.  Unquestionably, there is a bottom-line financial cost of ineffective meetings.

What’s happening in your organization?  Are “meetings from hell” widespread and frequent?  Or have you figured out how to avoid the meetings “trap”?  Do tell.