Strategies to develop your top talent

Top talent in China

Companies doing business in China face several challenges today.*  On the macro level they face the ongoing global financial instability, questionable consumer demand for their goods (especially in export markets), price pressure from competitors, and the uncertainties of government policy.  Weighing these factors, the dynamic market in China is still a vibrant place to do business today.

That presents its own problems.  Because the market is growing and the activity level is high, there is plenty of competition among companies for scarce resources.  Attracting and retaining talent in the form of qualified employees and managers is a top concern.  Maintaining morale and high productivity is clearly another.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Strategy-driven organizations

“We’re so busy putting out fires and trying to keep the business going that strategy just doesn’t show up on the screen.  We seem to drift a lot,” one leader confided in me.  I could relate because I’ve been part of an organization that couldn’t maintain a strategic focus.   We had flavor-of-the-month and reliably we would worry over sales each quarter, but strategy never got consistent attention.

The lack of strategic focus is a leadership issue, even when the leaders of an organization “live and breathe” strategy or see themselves as very strategic (but you might be surprised how many don’t).  Such organizations also find it difficult to hang on to their talent for long. Read the rest of this entry »

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Question:  What are the three critical numbers you use to manage your business?  As a leader, what’s your backup system (or at least your plan) when the game suddenly changes?

I’ll get to that question in a minute, but first let me share a personal story.  I continue to be surprised by some of the misconceptions that people have about flying.  This past weekend I was in a conversation with a man who had a friend that was a pilot of a small plane.  This man’s friend took off on a trip cross country and not too far along he had an instrument failure.  Read the rest of this entry »

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A mark of great leadership

You know that sucking sound you hear?  It’s caused by the vacuum of leadership we continue to experience. At this exact time in history we continue to muddle through the mess we’re in and there is an absence of leadership to show us the way forward.

Is that too bleak?  I’m not a pessimist even while I try to stay realistic.  Since the worldwide “reset” (recession, currency devaluation, drop in trade–whatever you want to call it) that began in 2008, the signs are clear that we’re looking for direction and the old order has passed.  We’re not too sure what the new order is, while many act confused, some put their heads down and soldier on while the true entrepreneurs smell opportunity and are moving aggressively into action.  You’re going to hear their stories become public in the coming years, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

What are some signs of the times?  Read the rest of this entry »

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We remember today a speech given 100 years ago in Paris by Theodore Roosevelt at the Sorbonne one year after he left the presidency.  The larger speech was about Citizenship in a Republic, and the most quoted section talked about the man in the arena.  Many people have borrowed the words or echoed the sentiment, perhaps most famously Richard Nixon in his 1974 resignation speech.  The original attribution to Roosevelt seems mostly forgotten except by historians.

But I think it’s important to look at the fuller context of this speech which I’ll show with some select quotations and my own comments as they relate to personal development.  Roosevelt addressed an educated French audience and his topic was about the kind of citizenship that makes a republic strong.

“In the long run, success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average women, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary, every-day affairs of life, and next in those great occasional cries which call for heroic virtues.” Read the rest of this entry »

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One of the best writers on leadership is one you’ve never heard of.  If I told you a few of the titles you still wouldn’t recognize who I’m referencing.  Yet Peter Drucker, the Father of Modern Management, liked to tell his students that the reason he never wrote a book on leadership was because the first systematic book on leadership was written by Xenophon and it was still the best.  Who was Xenophon?  More about that in a moment, but the point is the best-kept leadership secrets are out in the open, and they rest in Read the rest of this entry »

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Key truths of leadership

There are plenty of myths about what leadership is.  What can we say is true about real leadership?

We learn some of the truths of leadership by listening to people who are great practitioners of the art of leading people.  

1.  Leadership is not about the leader. Read the rest of this entry »

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Myths and truths of leadership

“In days of yore when giants walked the earth…”  that would be a dead giveaway that we aren’t talking about the real world and what follows is probably mythic, legendary or a parody of some kind.  What’s strange is that so much that is accepted as “truth” or wisdom about leadership is actually not grounded in the real world at all.  It might as well be cast in a fairy tale, because the common view of leadership is all wrong.

Read the rest of this entry »

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talent-money-gameAbout a year ago we looked at Wall Street’s approach to retaining top talent through outsized compensation packages.  Consider this the latest installment in that saga.  The most recent news is that CEO and C-level executive compensation took a large cut last year, while the traders and money managers received the largest collective payout in history.   The bosses took the bullet (public outcry, congressional hearings, pay czar scrutiny, etc.) in order to keep the restive troops from jumping ship.

CEO pay at 18 financial companies was down 30%.  No surprises there–they are under lots of pressure from the public and the media.  At the same time, 38 financial service firms on Wall Street paid a collective $140 billion in compensation and benefits, a record number, and up from $123 billion in 2008 and the previous high-water mark of $137 billion in 2007.  What does this all tell us? Read the rest of this entry »

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Do you know how hard your online employees are working?  Did you say you don’t have any employees?  If you have a website, blog, Facebook page, eBay store or any other kind of online commercial presence, I suggest you do have online employees, and it would be in your interest to think of them that way.

I was coaching another consultant today who does not have a website but who said she wanted one and knew she needed one.  She’s not super-savvy on web technology, nor does she care to be.  I suggested that she think of building a website/blog as if she were hiring an employee.  Here’s how the logic works… Read the rest of this entry »

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