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April 2015
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Inside the Mind of a Successful Manager – Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University Online MBA Degree

Don’t make Assumptions – Wally Bock


From Wally‘s excellent Three Star Leadership blog

“Don’t make assumptions.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that in my life. Instead of making assumptions about others, we’re supposed to “just ask.” When we’re making decisions, we should take nothing for granted. Is that a good idea? Is it even possible?

Assumptions aren’t always bad

A lot of the time those assumptions make things better. They streamline our decision making and allow us to get through our days without using up precision mental energy on routine things.

We simply can’t examine all our assumptions

The fact is that we simply can’t question or examine our assumptions. They’re mostly unconscious and the result of our upbringing, education, life experience and reading.

The challenge isn’t to avoid making assumptions. The challenge is to understand when your assumptions can get you in trouble. It’s to identify which assumptions you should examine and when.

Examine your assumptions when people aren’t acting like you expect

When you’re working in a different country or culture or company and people aren’t acting the way you expect, examine your assumptions. We’re talking about culture here. The culture of a group is the bundle of shared assumptions the members have about how people should act.

Examine your assumptions before committing to a big decision

When you’re about to make an important decision, stop and ask, “What are we assuming here?” This is especially important when you’re making a big change or a big bet or you find yourself in unfamiliar territory.

Bottom Line

You can’t examine all your assumptions, so examine the ones that can have the most impact.

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Interview about LeaderValues, by Sandbox Advisors


Mick was interviewed recently by Sandbox Advisors, a career counselling, training and human resource consulting firm from Singapore.

Here’s the opening:

How did Leader Values get started? Where are you based out of? What did you feel that other career websites were missing that prompted you to start your own company?

LeaderValues was started in 1997 because I had then (and still do) a passion for leadership development. It was thus a pretty early starter in this field. It is a non-profit site and carries very little advertising.

At that time, there were few sites carrying “independent material.” Most were (and largely still are) the vehicles for consultancies and consultants. I wanted to create an online resource with a very wide range of materials from many sources.

Leader Value is intended as a resource for students, researchers and practitioners to help them achieve their leadership goals. Could you briefly describe what you mean by leadership goals? How can these goals be used to help someone advance in their career?

By leadership goals, I mean the objectives we all have to get things done.

As a CEO, that might mean defining the future strategy of a multi-national business. As the president of a hobby club at school, it could mean how best to engage the members and define weekly activities.

In every case, it is about getting people to engage and willingly do things on behalf of the enterprise. So since almost all of us are involved in “leadership” to one degree or another, any personal development in this area helps.

Leader Values has recently expanded to incorporate coverage based on the use of Big Data analytics. For people who have not yet encountered this idea, could you briefly describe Big Data? What are some industries that have been taking advantage of this new area of study?

“Big Data” is the rather generic term to describe the data we create everyday, in increasingly vast quantities, with great variety from all kinds of sources, and in both structured (e.g. retail till records, government census records, scientific records) and unstructured forms (e.g. Facebook posts and phone calls).

A great example of an industry that uses it is retail, where the customer information analyzed from loyalty programs helps the retailer do a better job of meeting customer needs in pricing, retail store range and layout, and promotions.

Read the rest of the interview here.

10 expert tips to improve your leadership skills – Petra Wilton (CMI)


From public speaking to chairing a meeting, there are many ways in which you can improve your leadership skills.

With only one in five managers actually qualified in management in the UK, those seeking to improve their leadership skills have typically had to do so under their own steam. While many would benefit from the CMI’s Introduction to Management course, others can look to some more expert advice.

  1. Meet your guru

If you need help in honing your leadership skills, then find a mentor. Choose the right one and they will be able to share first-hand advice on themes such as presenting to your board, team management skills and finding useful contacts. Mentoring needn’t even be done face-to-face – some even prefer doing it online.

  1. Grasp your weaknesses

According to the Management 2020 report, leaders of tomorrow will require a large amount of humility to do their jobs, and to continue learning. So rather than simply focusing on your strengths, why not try to improve those weak areas of your managerial game?

  1. Let talent rip

As your superiors have recognised your talents by making you a leader, so you can thrive by recognising excellence in others. Organisations such as Motorola have thrived in the past by promoting talent at an early stage, and psychologically, you can boost those around you by doing the same.

  1. Learn to chair a meeting

Given our inherent short attention spans – some say many of us can’t stay focused for more than 10 minutes – meetings should be kept as short as possible. If you are chairing a discussion, try and encourage others to be concise and relevant, as well as remembering that advice yourself. Not only will you gain people’s focus, you’ll also save time.

  1. Learn to talk


If yours is the type of job that requires you to make a speech from time to time – either at board meetings or at work conferences – then it is worthwhile to learn how to speak in public. Whether you get nervous, speak too much or overly rely on a script, a simple book such as Dale Carnegie’s The Art of Public Speaking will offer tips and techniques for performing in front of large, sometimes important, crowds.

  1. Respect your team’s time

Just as you probably don’t appreciate colleagues wasting your time, try not to waste theirs either. The problem is especially pertinent for bosses as few more junior members of staff are likely to tell you that you are wasting their time.

  1. Look after your body


Staving off dehydration, exercising regularly and maintaining healthy sleeping habits are things that all people should aim for. But among leaders, the tendency is for stress to undo even the most virtuous of intentions. Although you might not feel as though your schedule allows for it, take time to take care of yourself.

  1. Dig deep

Companies that have a tendency to overcome adversity are also those with leaders that show reserves of determination and grit. That’s according to Management 2020, which sets out some of the qualities much-needed among tomorrow’s workplace leaders. These reserves help leaders manage difficult situations and set the tone among more junior staff that most crises can be overcome.

  1. Recognise that success is infectious

The Management 2020 (source) report found that successful leaders are expected to achieve consistently high results. In terms of staff morale, high-achieving leaders set a strong example for others to follow.

  1. Know that you don’t know

And do something about it! In many industries, innovation can be a curse as much as a source of opportunity. The potential for new technologies to overtake the old means that leaders have to be alert to the developments in their market which may make or break them. Likewise with changing legislation.

The Commission on the Future of Management and Leadership has found that good leaders typically strive to learn what is new in their field and constantly ask whether their companies can take advantage of innovation.

Petra Wilton takes a lead role in building alliances and partnerships in the public policy arena and promoting the needs of practising managers through engaging with and accessing the views of The Chartered Management Institute. She is responsible for promoting the needs of practising managers through engaging with and accessing the views of the CMI’s 100,000 plus members. Petra also leads on the development of customer insight and building CMI’s body of knowledge, and she has co-authored many CMI reports. She also set up the Campus CMI initiative to inspire and create confidence in young people through developing their management and leadership skills.