10 Tips for being a more Effective Leader

  1. Establish a clear future direction for your organization. What is the future you want? Is it compelling and really clear?
  2. Put the customer at the heart of everything you do. Listen to them. Make sure you are solving the right issues. Ask the “right” questions.
  3. Hire great people and give them clear goals, which are aligned to the Future state you wish for your organization. You won’t win without a winning and engaged team
  4. Engage everybody in discussing and understanding the future and the key goals. This builds commitment and excitement.
  5. Understand your business drivers – guided by the future that you want to create for your business.
  6. Establish clear metrics to measure delivery and lead by example. What is not measured can’t be managed. IF everybody understands how delivery is being measured, it’s easier to build momentum towards success.
  7. Manage your energy and those around you. Be at your best, more of the time. The world is moving faster and it is difficult to find quiet time to think and plan. Conquer e-mail. Plan in quiet time in your schedule.
  8. Think end to end. Establish the big picture view of your organization –right across your value chain. Things tend to go wrong at the interfaces between functions of departments. Is your organization ”joined up”? Are they engaged and unified by a common understanding of the Future?
  9. Have an opinion – but don’t be afraid to ask or admit you don’t know something. Ask others for their view, look at the data, then make up your mind. Make a decision. Its better to do something then nothing!
  10.  Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses-you’ll feel more energized and are likely to do better. Evaluate projects you want to take on against this.

10 Tips for building Rapport

1. Relax and Smile

• So simple but so true. People warm to you if you smile. Don’t force it – just think of a funny incident or something that has made you laugh in the past. Recreate that moment in your mind but DON’T  think about your face muscles.  That’s going to have the same effect as saying “cheese”. Nobody wants that look!

2. Ask Quality Questions

• If somebody says that they’ve had a busy week. Ask why? If a person tells you that they are just back from holiday – you MUST ask where them where they have been. Ok, it’s obvious- but you are missing a trick if you don’t engage in chit-chat before moving to a business agenda. There’s often no need to rush into a business discussion. In the “first encounter”, you are building foundations. You could spend up to 80% of your time getting to know people in small talk and just 20% on business.  It depends on the individual.  Just don’t forget to exchange business cards!

3. Be local and topical

• If you are in a different town or county, you must read the local newparers or tune in to the local radio or TV station. Aim to pick up a couple of local “interest” stories and throw these into the mix, early in your conversation with people from that area.

4. Use Google Alerts

• Click this link to find out how to keep tabs on a customer or prospect by using this free service. http://www.google.com/alerts?hl=en&gl=us  this is a quick way to demonstrate that you have your finger on the pulse.

5. Learn about people in advance

• If you know who you’ll you be meeting at an event or meeting. You should check to see if they are on Linkedin. This will give you an invaluable insight to their background and experience.

6. Use Open Questions

• Don’t ask “Yes” or “No” response questions. You should roam free. “What did you think of the morning presentations? ”  How are you finding the current economic climate?” You want to ask an open question and then switch to listen mode. Ask follow-up questions to keep the ball rolling and learn more about the person in front of you.

7. Be an active listener

  • Let people finish their sentences. If you ask a question, sit on your hands until they have finished with their response. Restrict your contribution to affirmation expressions such as “I see”, “I get it”, “That’s interesting”, “ok”. When they have finished, repeat back their key points to check that you have understood correctly and demonstrate that you have been listening. If appropriate, you can build upon their comments by offering a story that confirms the point that they have just made. Or, if you don’t have an example – state that they have made a new point or have raised something that you’ve not considered before. Then, say thanks !

8. Eye Contact

• When shaking hands, you must hold their gaze. Be careful not to stare for too long – 3 or 4 second should be enough for the initial contact. Be careful not to appear distracting. If you are meeting during the coffee break at a conference, keep your gaze on or in the zone of your new contract. Don’t allow yourself to flit about the room. This gives the impression that you are only talking to this person until somebody more interesting appears !

9. Follow-up !

• Send your new contact an e-mail within 48 hours of meeting. Or, if they are on LinkedIn, send them a request to connect to your network. This is a quick and effective way of keeping tabs of new business acquaintances. It’s far better than stuffing their business cared in your wallet –only to be transferred to a drawer – never to see daylight again.

10. Match their pace

• There’s a wealth of literature and a whole science advising how you should match verbal and body language to fit the style of the person you are talking to.  Just apply common sense, if somebody talks very quickly – you should also speed up in order to keep pace. If they are slower in their delivery, you should go some way to slowing down your own natural style.

10 Tips for getting things Done

1. Set a Key Objective each day
  • Does this sound familiar? “I’ve been busy all day, but I’ve not managed to complete anything that I’d planned !” This means that you are not in control of your agenda. Depending on your role, you will have to leave time aside to deal with unexpected tasks, but you must carve out time to complete at least one key objective each day.

2. Book an appointment with yourself

•Instead of compiling and adding to your “to do” list, write your task into your schedule. Make an appointment with yourself to complete this task. You know the urgency and time required to finish it – so make a date and get it done!

3. Go Faster !

  • Why allocate time in blocks of 30 minutes or one hour? Many of us this take this option- since it’s the easiest way to book time in Outlook. When you’re allocating time for your tasks or meetings – think again before you go for the easy option. As a start, lob 50% off what you would normally allocate and see what happens. There’s no reason why you can’t complete some simple tasks in 7 minutes.

4. Conquer your e-mail

• Read my Top Ten tips for e-mail !

5. Think like a Gantt Chart

• If you’re writing a proposal or planning a reasonably complex project, you can greatly reduce your planning time by creating a Gantt Chart. You break down a project into each distinctive step and allocate timings and dependencies.  You quickly create a picture of the project which you can never achieve by a list of bullet points or PowerPoint slides.  You can create these in Excel, there’s no need to buy specialist software.  Google “Gantt Chart” and you’ll quickly find some inspiration and further top tips.

6. Say NO !

• If you are a “willing horse”, your boss and colleagues will always be asking you to take on more stuff. Often these “favours” have nothing to do with your primary job responsibilities. The increased workload often hampers your ability to excel or even to succeed in your role. Once somebody has “thrown you a monkey”, it’s on your back. Say NO. Explain that your current list of priorities does not leave any spare capacity.  The monkey stays with them !

7. Ask for help

  • When was the last time you asked a colleague for some help ? A quick chat by the coffee machine can give you a new perspective on a problem. Don’t just talk about the weather or sport. Ask if you can bounce something off them. If you then this follow-up over lunch, you’ve suddenly gained an hour’s input and assistance. Just ask !

8. Sleep on it

  • This is a well-known expression, and it’s great advice. You should use you brain’s ability to work away at a problem in your subconscious. If you’ve spent time pouring over the pieces of the problem, don’t even try to come up with a solution. Just hand it over to your subconscious mind and hey presto, a new insight, even a solution will pop into your mind when brushing your teeth or buttering your toast. You’ll have experienced this before –so why not make this phenomenon happen more often. Delegate to your subconscious mind !

9. Mind Map

  • You sketch a diagram of a business problem or written project by drawing branches arranged around a central key word or idea. It’s liberating, rather than thinking in a bullet point lists – you just draw, in a non-linear fashion, branches for each idea, task or item.  Dependent items can then be “grown” from the main branches. It’s great for brainstorming and helps you make connections that you would never otherwise have made.  There are many useful software packages that will quickly get you up and running – creating your own Mind Maps.

10. Master Meetings 

  • Never attend a meeting unless there is a clear objective and a well considered agenda. If one does not exist, encourage the person who is convening the meeting to sort this quickly.  Don’t suffer in silence and find that you have to work overtime to make up for the time which has been devoured by an ill-disciplined meeting earlier that day. Of course, you must find a diplomatic way of doing this. See my top tips for building rapport!

10 Tips to Conquer Email

See video 
1. Label your e-mail

Use  smart labelling for all your e-mails. At the start of the subject- line, being with

a.   <info> for information

b. <action> if the recipient is expected to take an action

c. <comment> If you want them to provide their views or feedback

This only works if you can get all your colleagues and customers to adopt the same labelling protocol. This enables you to focus on the action> e-mails first – especially the one from key customers and your boss !

2. Label – Don’t Copy !

Ask yourself. Is there any real value in all those e-mails that you have received as a “cc” copied recipient? Most of the time, people do not give proper consideration to their inclusion of several “copied people” on a single message.  Some “direct reports” do this as a matter of course to show-off or to inform their boss. This is lazy. They should keep you up-to-date on the key issues and not on every piece of correspondence.

Cut down on your copying and ask others to do the same.

3. Hit the Mute Button

Mute your speaker. Avoid the temptation of flicking from your current task to read the latest e-mail – just because your heard the familiar mail delivery chime !

If you’re “on-line” – make sure that your Blackberry is not sitting on your desk and vibrating each time you receive an e-mail. If you don’t want to alter the settings, just lob the berry in your briefcase.

4. Manage Expectations

Make good use of your auto out-of-office message. Mange people’s expectations. If you are going to struggle to deal with e-mail for a day or a week due to travel of heavy meeting commitments – warn “senders” that you won’t be able to respond as quickly as usual. Provide an alternative contact number (a colleagues or PA) OR provide your mobile number and request that they send you an SMS for urgent matters only.

5. Switch Off

Quit your Outlook or Mail application for a couple of hours per day. Set aside a quality or golden period of two of hours when you can focus on your key tasks. If you were in a meeting, you would not be able to respond to your e-mail. So, why not give yourself the same break from e-mail when you’re focussing on key task?

6. FART on your e-mail

•This is a mindset. Don’t let e-mail rule your life. Deal with it. Dismiss it. Your body deals with excess gas, you must deal with excess communication!

File. Take the time to create a logical filing system

Action. If you need to take action – do it immediately – or, schedule a slot in your calendar to action it.

Reply. If the sender requires a reply, don’t leave the e-mail and come back to it later. Take a moment to compose your answer. Do it now! You have already devoted time to read the e-mail; you’ll waste time if you have to return to it later and re-read it before typing your reply. Think of Magnus Magnusson’s catchphrase from the 1970’s quiz, Mastermind, “ I’ve started so I’ll finish . . .”

Trash. Need I say more ?

7. Carpe Diem. Clear the In Box.

• Carpe Diem – Seize the Day. Take e-mail by the scruff of the neck and shake it out.  If the FART mindset did not work for you, perhaps this will.

• It may take you 2 to 3 days to empty your InBox, but master this, then make a vow to clear it at the end of each day (diem) for a full week.

• Try it. See how you feel. This one tip will make you feel on top of the world.

Do this for 30 days and it will become a habit. Why wait for the New Year to form a resolution?

8. Master your Blackberry.

• Despite the “crackberry” nickname, these devises are fantastic if you impose discipline.

• Don’t use it during evening and weekends

• Use it during dead time. It’s great for taxi rides, train journeys or airports.  Everyone’s routine is different. What is your dead time?

Don’t use your blackberry during meetings. Some organisations insist that executives “surrender” their blackberries as they enter the meeting room. This is extreme, but it tells you the extent of the problem.

9. E-mail Contract

• Agree a protocol with colleagues. For example, you will agree with peers and line manager that you’ll respond between 8:00am and 6:00pm and not at weekends.

• This can “excuse” you from dipping in to see if there’s a message during these hours

Agree that urgent matters outside these “no fly zones”, should come as a Txt message alerting you to an e-mail if there’s a more complex and urgent matter. This contract is not to be abused!

10. The 15 Word Burst

• For quick messages, condense them into 15 words in the e-mail subject line. Don’t type anything in the message body.

By dropping a one liner with your question, this will save you time and encourage the recipient to be brief with their answer.