Archive for March, 2013

Good morning and Happy Friday!

Another week has flown by and was it busy! The question is: Was it productive? Or was it just full of “stuff”?

I’m still focusing on excellence in my customer service — both in responding to prospective clients and to my existing clients. Building strong relationships, with a foundation of trust, is critical to all businesses, to be sure, but especially to mine because I work in a very intimate space with my clients helping them to discover themselves, their dreams, their challenges, etc. So, I am truly focused on where I can inject some excellence into my performance.

Where can you intentionally inject excellence into your performance?

Let’s move into our Friday ritual…

What really needs your attention this weekend? Is it projects, people, rest, relaxation…?

Rest? I would like to think so, but at the start of this Spring Break, we have some travel and fun planned, so perhaps not as much sleep this weekend as we need; but fun? Definitely!

Still working on the preparation for the Women in Leadership Luncheon I am helping to plan, and will present the Keynote speech at, in May. Still working my way through content in the John Maxwell Online University. Still working to refine my “Dream” speech, and outline my OPUS — this is the plan for my life’s work — my masterpiece. I’ll share more about this as I move through the process. And, I’m still working on the new mentoring program I will launch in May. You can get a preview here.

What’s in store for you this weekend, next week, and in the coming weeks? Are you taking the steps to set yourself up for success and fulfillment?

Have a great weekend, and I’ll “see” you Monday!

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In today’s business climate, competition is fierce; but I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. Maintaining the status quo in terms of performance is a sure-fire way for your business to not be in business very long. What do you think will happen to your team or business if you aren’t striving to exceed expectations?

What do you think the outcome would be for you, your team, your organization, your customers, and your competition?

Seems like a simple question, but the implications could be staggering.

Spend some time with this one today and let me know what you come up with.

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Wednesday is work with your team day! Take some time with your team, today, to create a strategy for exceeding your customers’ expectations. Ask each person to share a brief story of a product or service experience that exceeded their expectations. Then, as a team, evaluate current expectations and satisfaction with your product or service.

First, have each person answer this question: What do our customers expect from our product or service?

Then: Are we currently meeting these expectations?

If the answer to the second question is “no,” you will first need to make changes to meet those expectations, before you can exceed them.

Next, gather ideas on how you could exceed your customers’ expectations for your organization or team going forward.

Ask: What could we do to exceed our customers’ expectations?

Then: How will we implement these ideas?

Be realistic, and pick two to three ideas you can begin to implement right away…What will they be?

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Today, let’s consider organizations you believe have exceeded your expectations with products or services. What did they do to impress you?

With that in mind, let’s now spend some time on a self-evaluation. Does your performance consistently go beyond what others expect of you?

On a piece of paper, make two columns. Title the left column: Top Five Responsibilities. Title the right column: Rating

Now, list your top five responsibilities in the left column — and you can do this for all the various roles you play…Leader, direct report, peer, mentor, coach, partner, or even roles you play in your personal life. Then, in the right column, rate your performance in each responsibility as Average, Above-Average, or Excellent.

Once you’ve done this exercise, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about why you rated yourself as you did in each area.

What one thing could you do right away to improve any of those rankings?

What can you do to exceed the expectations of your employees?

What can you do to exceed the expectations of your manager/leader?

Remember…your effort, in your leadership role, sets the standard for excellence in your team/organization. I encourage you to be intentional about what it will be.

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To achieve excellence, one must consistently exceed expectations.

We’ve discussed that leaders are continuously working to improve themselves and their team’s/organization’s performance. Those who truly excel are frequently raising the bar on performance, because once you achieve a certain level, that’s the “new normal,” and you know there is something beyond…Settling for average is never an option. When you role model what you expect from others, it’s easier to influence others to perform at their best.

The next step is being ever observant of your team’s performance. When you are familiar with their strengths and abilities, you will be able to quickly recognize when they are not performing at level of their true capability. This is when it’s important for you to connect, provide feedback, discover what’s happening, and inspire your team to perform at higher levels.

Again, people do what people see, so if you aren’t performing at the top of your ability, others will notice and will fall into line with where you are. So, be sure to look within before you comment on what’s happening around you.

Over the course of my career, I have lead a number of projects and project teams — typically comprised of people I had no formal authority over, and yet, the projects we worked on were of high importance to the various organizations we worked for. Before I learned the lesson that I could accomplish more by connecting with and including others, I used to take on a lot of responsibility and completed all the work myself. So, my big lesson was learning to delegate and rely on others to do their part. The benefit from learning project management from this approach was that I have always been a working leader, for lack of a better term; not just the person who doled out a lot of work and waited for others to perform.

As part of the project team, I take on my share of the responsibilities, and hold myself to higher standards, usually, than I do for those around me. So, modeling what I expect from others has come easily for me. I have been told, on occasion, that my expectations for others are extremely high…and I admit it’s true. In part, it’s because I want to be successful; I want those I work with to be successful; I want the project to be successful; and, I see the potential in others, which leads me to believe they can achieve at higher levels.

What are your challenges in this area?

What can you do to set the tone for an organizational culture that exceeds expectations — one in which people are driven to achieve at ever-higher levels?

How are you modeling exceeding expectations? Remember, as John Maxwell says in the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,

People do what people see!

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Good morning and Happy Friday!

As my mentor, Paul Martinelli, would say: “Are you marinating in excellence, yet?” As with all things of value, we must immerse ourselves in the concepts we wish to master. Nothing of significance or lasting value happens overnight…so let us steep ourselves in these thoughts, ideas, and concepts this month

As I consider excellence, I am working on following up with people in a more timely manner, demonstrating my desire and commitment to serve others, and delivering exceptional value, every time. What about you? Where can you intentionally inject excellence into your performance?

I am coming to find this Friday ritual of thinking about and planning for my weekend, and the weeks ahead, more and more valuable each week. I am getting busier, meeting and connecting with a lot of new people, and my need to be focused and prepared is more and more critical to my success.

What really needs your attention this weekend? Is it projects, people, rest, relaxation…?

Rest? Definitely! We’ve been dealing with a lack of sleep at my house, caused by the annoying cough that is going around. You know the one, it surfaces mainly at night when you lay down to sleep…and so far, we have failed to find a cough suppressant that actually works!

Preparation for a Women in Leadership Luncheon I am helping to plan, and will present the Keynote speech at, in May. Along with my speech, I need to pull together a personal assessment tool that goes along with our theme: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (based on the best seller by Marshall Goldsmith; if you haven’t read it and you are pursuing growth in your career, it’s a must read. In fact, don’t just read it — buy it and keep it handy! This one will serve you over and over and over…if you are open to the lessons and willing to do the work to apply them!). And, I need to do some work to prepare some amazing women for the panel discussion that will happen as part of this day of growth and learning.

I also need to get some exercise. My son and I enjoy our weekend neighborhood walks.

And, I’m still working on the new mentoring program I will launch in May. You can get a preview here.

What’s in store for you this weekend, next week, and in the coming weeks? Are you taking the steps to set yourself up for success and fulfillment?

Have a great weekend, and I’ll “see” you Monday!

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As you’re aware, nothing of significance happens overnight; this is true with excellence, as well. Internalizing excellence, and truly embedding it in everything you do in your business takes time, effort, and intentionality.

What are some ways you could motivate, inspire, encourage your employees to further its commitment to excellence?

Sharing some examples of excellence in practice may be helpful. What organizations or leaders do you know who are well-known for demonstrating excellence either in their products, their services, or both? What do they do within their organizations to keep excellence top of mind? Who could you contact to learn more about how others do it?

Once you’ve done that, what have you learned, and how can you put those lessons into play in your organization in a meaningful way that fits your culture?

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Now that we’re really thinking about excellence within our teams and organizations, let’s broaden our circle and expand our perspective by learning what it means to others.

Spend some time with your team today and ask them to describe what excellence looks like in each of their respective roles. Then, ask each one for two concrete ways to measure excellence within his/her performance. You might be surprised with what they come up with; often times, we will set much higher standards for ourselves than someone else will.

Now, take some time during your regular meetings (Weekly? Monthly? What’s your frequency for team meetings?) to review how everyone is progressing.

It’s important that you recognize and reinforce the behaviors and level of performance you want from your team members, so be sure to ask them what comments and actions will be positive reinforcement for them; what would they like to hear when you notice they’re doing an excellent job?

Write down the comments so you will remember them…and be sure to use them at all the appropriate times. Feedback is critical, and more effective when it’s personal, timely, and specific.

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Have you given much thought to your values? Or, let me refocus that — how much thought have you given to your team’s or organization’s values? If I asked you to list them for me, could you write them down? What do you think the list would look like if we had the rest of your team, or the key leaders in your organization, write down what they think your values are?

It’s important that you can articulate them clearly, and even better if you are all on the same page in this respect.

The next — and very critical — step is to live and embody your values in every area of your business. Meaning, effective leaders driving healthy, smart organizations ensure values are the foundation of hiring decisions, strategic and tactical decision making, and even daily operations.

In order to move on, I encourage you to create two columns: One outlining your team’s/organization’s current values; one providing an example of how each value is being consistently demonstrated within your organization/team.

Is excellence on your list?

If not, would you benefit from including it?

Or, how do you ensure that excellence is the measure for how you embody the other values on your list?

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Leaders have a number of qualities and traits in common, regardless of where they are from, where they are currently, what kind of business or industry they work in, or what level of the organization they are in…and two of those common traits are discontent and passion. They are discontent when it comes to their performance. Leaders are rarely satisfied with how things are because they know they can do better. They are passionate about excellence. Couple these two traits and you find someone who is driven to excel. Leaders are alway thinking about and working on improving their personal performance and that of their teams and organizations.

Think about an organization that stands out in your mind as being outstanding. What are the things that come to mind that leave you with the impression they are superior?

Customer service?

Superior products or services?


Where do you think it starts? I think it starts with finding the right people for the right positions, who are also passionate about whatever it is your company provides. Often times, companies feel pressured to fill vacant positions and they rush through the screening and hiring process. Sometimes they get lucky and find a skilled candidate who also fits with the culture. Sometimes they settle for a candidate who has the skill but doesn’t really fit the culture. This is a recipe for disaster in a lot of ways.

But lets focus on finding the right candidate — both skilled in the work and a good fit for the culture. These are the folks who share your values and are committed to your vision. If you treat them well and ensure they have the support and resources they need to do their jobs, they will take great care of your business and your customers. It’s an intentional process; it doesn’t just happen.

As a leader, what standards are you setting for your team, with respect to excellence?

What kind of a role model are you for your team or organization?

What are you doing to inspire them to internalize excellence as a value?

What can you do to create a culture of excellence in your workplace?

Remember, excellence is intentional; it doesn’t just happen!

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