learning

One of the most insidious aspects of personality or ego that I’ve come across in my career as a coach, is the critical inner voice that hides deep within each of us. Distinct from your intuition, which is helpful in its guidance in your leadership...

We'd like to highlight ViRTUS Mentor Ray Williams and the incredible work he is doing around mindfulness and meditation and how it can help you in business and in life. "If you focus on the present moment, always ask yourself the question, 'What can I do about that...

"I am successful," "I am a wonderful person," "I will find love again," and many other similar phrases that students, the broken-hearted and unfulfilled may repeat to themselves over and over again, hoping to change their lives. Self-help books through the ages, from Norman Vincent...

  When I go into an organization to work with leaders and teams, I often hear how the organization’s silos are getting in the way of business success. I hear people blaming other departments for everything from taking credit where credit is definitely not due, to stalling projects...

We have a very talented team of Mentors and Conductors. They are full of powerful knowledge derived from education and experience. I recently asked our team to suggest books that senior level executives/managers could read to help them take their career or business to the next...

This is the continuation of my unconventional approach to reviewing Flat Army by Dan Pontefract. As in my Flat Army – Book Review first post (Chapters 1-4 1/2), here are my favourite excerpts and quotes from Chapter 4 1/2-12. So you may be asking yourself, "why did Mike stop in the middle of Chapter 4 last time?" The simple answer is that I was typing each quote in by hand and I felt the post was getting a bit too long. The author, Dan Pontefract, was nice enough to send me a copy that allows me to cut and paste.

So here they are, my favourite excerpts and quotes from the rest of the book:

Chapter 4

  • Things don't always go perfectly: Embrace mistakes and invest time relating with those who have difficulty.
  • Your way or vision will not be understood by all: Ask for opinions or feedback and determine whether the team understands what is really going on
  • Dev Patnaik, author of Wired to Care, believes that
    [a]s sophisticated as our neurological systems for detecting the feelings of others might be, we've created a corporate world that strives to eliminate the most human elements of business. Companies systematically dull the natural power that each of us has to connect with other people. And by dulling our impulse to care, corporations make decisions that look good on paper but do real harm when put into practice in the real world.
  • ...empathy is positively related to job performance.
  • In a study conducted by IBM in 2010 with 700 global chief human resource officers (CHROs) entitled Working beyond Borders: Insights from the Global Chief Human Resource Officer Study, researchers find the single most critical issue facing organizations in the future is their ability to develop future leaders.
  • It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure employees understand they have an equal responsibility to participate in the developing process.
  • “Organizational Career Development Is Not Dead: A Case Study on Managing the New Career During Organizational Change” in the Journal of Organizational Behavior provides three key points about the attribute of developing:HR is not unilaterally in charge of developing employees, but the responsibility should be moving down the organizational structure, while supported by HR or the corporate learning team itself.
    Immediate supervisors or leaders don't always have the skills to provide such development support to employees.
    Employees are therefore confused and often struggle to find the right level of support to address their development needs. They too don't know where ownership lies.
My good friend and "co-conspirator," Dan Pontefract (follow him on Twitter), has written the book Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization. Over the past three years, the team at ViRTUS and I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Dan and his team to put the Flat Army philosophy into action at TELUS.

Dan was nice enough to send me a press copy in advance of the book release so I thought the very least I could do is to write my version of a book review. So here it is, all of my favourite quotes and excerpts from Flat Army, the ones that resonate with me most in the first few chapters:

Chapter One

  • In a report entitled Global Leadership Forecast conducted by DDI, with over 14,000 leaders, DDI's research indicated that, 'organizations with the highest quality leaders [a]re thirteen times more likely to outperform their competition in key bottom-line metrics such as financial performance, quality of products and services, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction."
  • Further to that quote DDI asserts that, "organizations with high quality leadership [are] up to three times more likely to retain more employees than their competition; they also [have] more than five times the number of highly engaged leaders."
  • Approximately 70% of employees aren't as engaged as they should be at their place of work.
  • In a 2011 press release, the Center for Talent Innovation reports that 37 percent of Gen X employees are looking to leave their current employers within three years.
  • The natural tendency of any baby-boomer-aged leader is to lead through the demonstration of power and will.
  • It is time to connect the dots between leadership, engagement, learning, technology, and collaboration.
  • ...when back by transformation leadership (and leaders), employees thrive on the basis of "self-identity, belongingness, self-efficacy and responsible attitude."
  • From Organizations Don't Tweet - People Do, "If you really want an engaged workforce, treat [people] as fellow grown-ups working together for a shared purpose.

Every year, PROFIT Magazine turns successful entrepreneurs into the heroes of Canadian business through its Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies program. Now, to mark its 25th year, the ranking is expanding to celebrate 500 of Canada’s best and brightest companies. Once again, ViRTUS is proud to be a sponsor.

If your business has grown by just 50% or more in the past five years, apply now at PROFIT500.com.

In the past month, I have had two unique opportunities: the first was to spend a few days in Boston with one of my clients and Frances Frei from Harvard; the second was a fireside chat with some fellow CEOs and author Malcolm Gladwell (Tipping Point, Outliers, What the Dog Saw). There were some great strategic nuggets interwoven into both conversations, and I want to share with you what I learned.

Frei is a professor in Harvard Business School’s technology and operations management unit and the chairwoman of the MBA required curriculum. Because Frei’s work focuses on how organizations can more effectively design service excellence, I was eager to hear her thoughts on organizational strategy. I was not disappointed.

Here are some key points I took away from the conversation.

Choose great over average. When you’re considering your points of differentiation as an organization the key is not to try to become five out of five on all aspects of your client value proposition; by diffusing your efforts as an organization among so many things you end up becoming three out of five (average) on everything.

Really great, standout companies figure out what they can sacrifice (areas where they are at about a one out of five), so they can truly be five out of five on the areas that count most to their customers.

Choose differentiation versus “me-too.” For true differentiation you need to do something that the competition can’t properly replicate. Consider the example of the Heavenly Bed Wars. Once Westin hotels rolled

out its heavenly beds campaign, all their competitors had to do was provide a similar quality of bed – a simple yet costly undertaking, the net result being that consumers now get better beds from all competing hotels. But each is still in the same price-competitive space: higher cost, lower margin and no differentiation. The trick is to focus on providing something to your customer that is difficult for your competitors to replicate.