Monday, May 26, 2008

Insights into Incentives

Modified from a fantastic book that has more to do with leadership than you might think... "Make it Stick" by Chip and Dan Heath, this insight into how incentives might be designed and responded to is powerful!

'Imagine that a company offers its employees a $1,000 bonus if they met certain performance targets. There are three different ways of presenting the bonus to the employees:
1. Think of what $1,000 means: a down payment on a new car or that new home improvement you've been wanting to make.
2. Think of the increased security of having that $1,000 in your bank account for a rainy day.
3. Think of what the $1,000 means: the company recognizes how important you are to its overall performance. It doesn't spend good money for nothing.

When people are asked which positioning would appeal to them personally, most of them say No. 3. ... Here's the twist though: when people are asked which is the best positioning for other people, they rank No. 1 mos followed by No. 2. That is, we are motivated by self-esteem, but others are motivated by down payments. This SINGLE insight explains almost everything about the way incentives are structured in most large organizations.'

Thanks Chip and Dan Heath for explaining how Contagious Leaders might want to re-think their incentive plans. Are you postioning the benefits of your company with a focus on how they (employees) might receive them or how you might like to receive them?

Stay Contagious!

Companies Don't Buy Leadership Training... they buy better leaders.

So many leaders, so little time... so many issues and so few to lead them... it happens a lot. Companies are facing a leadership challenge and they aren't wanting to buy more stuff or more training, they are looking to resolve their leadership issues.

How do you know if your company needs leadership training to resolve those issues?
1. If your company is seeing an increase in attrition and problem employees.
Attrition, or the number of employees leaving versus the rate at which they are coming aboard, can be a sign that leadership is not coaching or training effectively. When problem employees are on the rise, this can also be a sign that there is a lack of coaching skills and development mindset. A contagious leader knows the value and impact of positive coaching and spending the most of their time with those employees doing it right.

2. If you are hearing "I told you so" or "or else" more often than you used to.
There is a difference between using one's leadership authority or power and using one's influence. Contagious Leaders use influence to encourage employees to follow them. Regular leaders, or managers more so, use their title or their position to get others to do as they have asked. (or told!) Contagious Leadership training can help those in positions of power utilize their power in ways that inspire performance instead of create more people problems such as resistance, attitude problems and sabotage.

3. If you have a line out the HR door and they are dealing with attitude problems daily.
Attitude issues are exceptionally difficult to work with and they often come from resentful employees. Some are resentful because of life's events, but some are that way because they have asked and spoken up, in subtle and not so subtle ways, for a leadership change, but to no avail. Leaders with additional training in communication, coaching, and development of others will be able to proactively prevent resentment from showing itself in performance and developing into attitude issues.

Keep in mind, leadership training should lead to solutions for leadership issues. You are not buying a leadership training course, you are bringing in the development of your leaders. That, if done well, will bring you a significant return on your training investment. It will bring you a reduction of attitude issues, attrition, abuse of power and problem employees. Leadership Training - several thousand bucks, Experienced Speaker - thousands of dollars, reduction of problem employees and attitude issues - PRICELESS.

If your organization needs leadership training, contact Monica Wofford International at or 1-866-382-0121.

Stay Contagious!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What do YOU say when someone asks "How Are You?"

Managers are notorious for not leaving thier offices. Contagious Leaders however, use an enhanced version of MBWA (management by walking around) and who knew... they actually talk to people and ask questions. Yet, one of the most popular questions is "How are you?" and we live in a culture that summarily dismisses this question and the answer. People will ask "How are you?" and then are lucky to hear an audible response, much less stick around to hear what it was... most of us just keep walking. Contagious Leaders... Beware of the perception that you don't care what the answer is if you are asking "how are ya?" and walking away. On the other hand, you can stop foot traffic with some unusual answers to the question when YOU are asked "how are you?" Here are a few to try out and just see what happens:

1. Finer than frog hairs
2. Energized and revitalized
3. Fascintated (instead of Frustrated!)
4. Getting better by the minute
5. Better than a bowl of cherries in summertime
6. If I were any better there would be two of me
7. Fabulous and Fantastic (inspired by the publisher of Orlando Woman newspaper)
8. Filled with hope and happiness
9. Truly happy (or blessed, excited, enthused, pleased to be here, etc)
10. Hotter than a firecracker
11. More brilliant than a diamond mine
12. Contagiously Confident! (my favorite!)
13. Good - any day I wake up above ground is a good day!
14. Happy to be alive!
15. Better than a rainbow on a rainy day
16. If I were any better, I'd need pom-poms!

Share this list with the negative Neds and negative Nellies in your life or at the office and give them some subtle or not so subtle hints. Contagious Leaders lead themselves and their own attitudes before trying to lead others. What have you been saying when someone says "How are you?" and how does that reflect your own attitude?

Stay Contagious!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Corporate Speak continues...

Today, I saw an article that said "Who is Learning From You?" that talked of the ever popular brain drain of the baby boomers leaving the workplace and yet also had a different twist. It said that organizations... every organization is in one of four stages:

1. Building and creating
2. Managing their organization
3. Defending why it is no longer growing
4. Blaming someone else for why it is not growing

I had to laugh as it seemed so true and it also seems to apply to the stages that we experience as leaders. When we are building and creating something, often identified by the use of the words, "on boarding" or "building strawmen" or some other such drivel, we are eager to bring others with us.

When we are managing stuff, often described as "rallying the troops" or "assimilating" or "dipping into the culture", we get into the thinking that people can be managed as easily as stuff and we begin to call them human resources or human capital.

When things stop growing and we experience "slow growth", a "downturn", or a "stabilization period", we begin to defend our own errors, cease asking for help for fear of showing a weakness and defend directions that we think we have communicated clearly.

When things go south, as we are seeing in many organizations right now, leaders look for blame and rarely are they looking at the three fingers pointed back at themselves when one is outstreched. Heads will roll, people begin to pay and we experience the use of words such as "freeing up for new opportunities", "right sizing", or "Liberating team members"

My big question is this... contagious leaders.... do you experience these stages first or does the organization experience them first and then we follow the example?

Stay Contagious!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Leadership - What does it mean?

Take a look at the word LEADERSHIP - what does it mean?

Let's look at it differently... LEAD-ER-SHIP or maybe we should say LEAD YOUR SHIP. It is likely that somewhere along the way, this might have been the true origin of the word as the historical leaders were also captains of some ship or some army. However, in this day and age, your ship is the team you serve, the team you have the privilege of leading and notice I did not say "your team". They are not yours. The ship or rather department might be your responsibility, but the people are not yours.

Thus, LEADERSHIP might mean "Figuring out how to lead those people who are tasked with helping you run your division, team, company, etc". Leading those people is more important to long term producivity than managing all the tasks that they do. Contagious Leaders focus on the leading of people and not the managing of stuff - you can delegate stuff. Can't you?

Stay Contagious!

Leaders: Say What you Mean!

I spent some time today in a corporate office of a rapidly growing company and after talking with three different executive level folks, I was reminded at how much we become our environment. Things were said that sounded like this:
- Let's log in after the meeting and share pertinent information
- Are you on board with the modifications that our client is requesting of this business unit?
- Is your team ready to by trimmed down and nimble?
- What are the levers that you will be moving as you assimilate into the business?

I wasn't sure sometimes if I was aboard the starship Enterprise (always think Star Trek when someone says they want to assimilate me or my services) or just in a land in which Dilbert would have a hey day. THough I understand everything that was said, I began to wonder if we don't do so much talking at people as leaders that the begin to become immune to what should be our contagious enthusiasm and leadership. Why can't we just say what we mean, which to me for each of the above, would have sounded like this:
- "let's log in.."
See me after the meeting and let's chat about what you heard
- "Are you on board..."
Do you agree or disagree with the changes we are making? Why or why not?
- "Is your team ready.."
Are you prepared for budget reductions and can you do more with less?
- "What are the levers..."
How will you impact business and how long will it take you?

Contagious Leaders say what they mean and don't try to lead by confusing the very resources (yep... people) that they are trying to empower (motivate to do more) to produce effective and efficient solutions (do more while staying creative and positive and being paid the same).

Stay Contagious!