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January 2015
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Make every encounter count – Wally Bock


From Wally‘s excellent Three Star Leadership Blog

Great bosses make every encounter count
I’ve seen a lot of great bosses up close. They come in all shapes and sizes. They work in a variety of industries. But they all make time to touch base a lot and when they do, they make every encounter count.

Take time
When we think something is important, we give it time. Your relationships with team members are important. Give them time. That’s how you get your “real” work done.

Set the example
Your team members pay attention to how you act for clues about what you want from them. Act accordingly. Use what you say and do to influence what team members say and do.

Watch and listen
Watching and listening are the ways you learn. Use them to learn about your team members and how they work. Use them to get a sense of the challenges team members face.

Have a conversation
Conversations are the way that positive relationships grow. When there’s time, take the time to have conversations with team members. You don’t have to limit the subjects to work.

Seek opportunities to give legitimate praise. You can praise achievement or improvement or effort. Don’t dilute your praise with “but.” You don’t have to limit your praise to work, either.

Take time to coach the team or a team member. Coaching is helping a team member do better in the future.

Ask the key question
The key question is “What can I do to help you?”

Say “Thank you”
They may know that you appreciate their work, but it’s nice to hear it.

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A Simple Bright White Belt – Thomas Vanderbeck

White BeltA few years after graduating from university, several of us collaborated in creating an eclectic school in which we could teach dance, meditation, yoga, and other subjects for self expression, health, and well being. We rented a storefront and made a large sign that proclaimed, “Another Roadside Attraction,” after Tom Robbins then popular book.

One day, our Aikido instructor, Rick, and I discussed practice, mastery, and teaching.

He described his sensei, or training master, to us as a short, slender Japanese man with a very stern attitude and strict rules for proper etiquette in the dojo, or practice hall. Early in his training, Rick had once neglected to remove his street shoes and then casually strolled into the dojo, and greeting his teacher informally, – “Hi there, Morihei!”

Sensei immediately and sternly admonished Rick to go back outside, adjust his attitude, turn and face the entrance to the dojo, bow; and to then re-.enter silently and bow.

Ten rigorous and self disciplined years later, at the end of an evening in which he ceremoniously received his black belt; Rick was leaving the dojo when his venerable teacher took him aside. Rick respectfully greeted his master, “Good evening, Sensei.”

“From now on, Rick, you may call me Morihei. You have demonstrated your mastery of Aikido. There will be no more formality between us. If you are free this evening, I would like you to come to my house. I will make a pizza and we’ll drink a few of my excellent home-made beers.” So, they walked several blocks to Morihei’s cottage.

Rick was surprised to find that his Sensei was a very warm, open, and genuine fellow with a fine sense of humor. He told Rick of how he began Aikido at age nine; and then regaled him with many personal and sometimes amusing stories about his student years, becoming a journeyman practitioner and continuing his studies, earning the rank of sensei, and most important, of how a master must keep learning, continue practicing, and commit to the loving (ai) energetic (ki) way (do) of being – the path of harmony.

Following dinner, several brews, and some good conversation, Morihei smiled and announced to Rick, “I have a special gift to present to you.”

Morihei reached under a pillow on the couch, and brought out a simple rosewood box. Grinning happily, he said, “This will be only the second time in my long life that I have had the privilege and honor of presenting this gift to one of my students.” He then bowed to Rick, reached forward, looked Rick directly in the eyes with a big smile, and formally handed the box to him with both hands.

Saying, “Thank you, Morihei,” Rick accepted the gift and placed it on the table between them. Opening it, he found a very simple, bright white beginner’s belt.” Sensei, I don’t understand. Just this evening I was awarded the black belt of a master.”

Morihei chuckled. “Rick, your black belt was hard won and honors your status as a master practitioner. You are only the second of my students who has demonstrated the warrior spirit and your readiness to begin learning the true nature of Aikido. So, you have earned this simple bright white belt. Let us enthusiastically celebrate your new path in becoming a Sensei, or master teacher. Then, like me, you will become a servant leader of advancing Aikido, and the enlightenment and empowerment of your students.”

“Now, finish your beer, go home, enjoy a few moments of celebration and pride. We’ll meet at the dojo next week. Wear your black belt. The less experienced students in our community and the ego-driven belt climbers will be confused and disoriented if you wear this simple bright white belt. Maybe you can tie it ‘round your waist with your bath robe?”

Prof. Thomas James Vanderbeck, High Performance Leadership

University Heights, San Diego, CA  USA  +1 619-546-6626 (Noon to 8pm, PST)

Customer Leadership – Presentation for the CDRC Symposium

“Customer Leadership” uses Big Data analytics and insight to drive leadership, organization and branding decisions and actions – all aimed to improve customer products, services, experience, satisfaction and loyalty.

A presentation given by Mick to the University of Leeds Customer Data Research Centre (CDRC) Symposium, on January 8th, 2015, at the Royal Society, London

Customer Leadership

Customer Leadership

As regular readers will know, I prefer to talk about “Leadership” in the context of actual tasks, rather than in some theoretical fashion.

Likewise, whilst there’s much focus on “Big Data” from a technology perspective, leaders must consider its real world application, challenges and opportunities.

In the past year or two, my work has increasingly been to help senior leaders build a strategic and organisational framework to allow them to make better use of data analytics and insight.

My published research had suggested that there are two overall business strategies to focus on. The first is Customer Centricity (driving towards personalised products and services) and the second is Innovation Networks (as an organizational design paradigm).

Today, every business leader’s goal should be to better meet customer needs, treating each customer with a better, more engaging experience and striving for the best possible products and services.

Innovation Networks then drive the organizational design, allowing business to speed up the flow of new ideas, products and services.  Innovation no longer just comes from internal activities. Ideas can come from anywhere – suppliers, customers, universities and even government. So enterprises must proactively build networks of internal and external resources, with dynamic structures, common customer language and data exchange that drives the way the organisation innovates.

A “brand paradigm” is the best way to conceptualise this modern, customer centric business. By brand, I mean the totality of what a brand is – its customer base, products, services, image, communication, customer feedback and social network presence.

Increasingly, customer interactions are moving from “push” as default to “pull”. Instead of businesses “pushing” services and products at customers, the individual can now discriminate and “pull” services to them – to suit their exact needs, preferences and timing.

The social environment is increasingly defining what a brand is, as viewed and engaged with by its various and disparate user groups and other stakeholders. No longer does the brand owner pre-ordain “the truth”.

Technology, the web, and Big Data are thus driving transparency – both ways. Today’s technology allows customers to both understand what they are doing (and buying) and communicate (positively and negatively) about brands and companies in real time. Individuals view recommendations from other customers, access products, services, resources and media that they need, and then optimize for themselves how and when it is all delivered and how it is subsequently used.

In these terms, “brand” doesn’t just mean consumer products – it refers to whole companies. They are seen and act as brands in their own right.

Customer Leadership” combines these ideas. Big Data analytics and insight drives leadership, organization and branding decisions and actions, all aimed to improve customer products, services, experience, satisfaction and loyalty.

It is estimated that only 18% of data that corporations already have is effectively utilised. But, even so, the real power of data analytics comes from starting not with the data, but with the strategic question:

“What problem are we trying to solve – or what opportunity do we want to grasp – and how can data driven insight and processes help”.

The mantra is then “right data – deep analysis – clear insight – measurable action”.

That’s Customer Leadership in action.

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