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Friday, March 31, 2006

How To Deal With Daily Stress

Tom Asacker, over at A Clear Eye, poses these solutions to dealing with daily stress:

  • Be passionate - About how your work improves people's lives
  • Be clear - About precisely how you provide that value
  • Stay focused - On what customers truly care about
  • Communicate unceasingly - Your passion, vision and strategy
  • Stay tuned in - To the rapid and endless changes in today's marketplace
  • Be kind - If you want your people to be kind
  • Stop lying - To your people, shareholders, customers and, especially, yourself
  • Trust others - Which is not the same as telling them what to do (see #7 above)
  • Give back - To customers, employees, the needy, and the environment
  • Take risks - Brand is a verb, not a noun

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Entrepreneurial Growing Pains

Dr. Jeff Cornwell, over at the Entrepreneurial Mind, had the pleasure of having Eric Flamholtz (author of Growing Pains) as a guest speaker at Belmont University.

Some highlights from his lecture at Belmont are included below. (NOTE: I've inserted relevant references from Six Disciplines for Excellence...)

"What you can't measure, you can't manage." (Disciplines II, III and IV - Define Measures, Align Measures, and Monitor Measures)

"Set a specific quantitative goal for your business and develop a plan to get there." (Discipline II. Set Goals That Lead)

"A mission should have a qualitative and a quantitative component." (Discipline I. Decide What's Important - Renew Mission)

"Companies compete not just with products and within markets, but through their operating systems, management systems, and culture." (Discipline III. Align Systems)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Business Improvement Overload?

Want to be overwhelmed by business improvement ideas?

Here's more than you can shake a stick at!

Web seminars - conducted by many of the top "business improvement experts" -- all available to you for free, from our good friends at Microsoft.

BOTTOMLINE: Do we really need "more" business improvement ideas? Perhaps what we really need is just to pick a comprehensive set (a methodology), use some (technology) to make it practical, and have an external (coach) to keep us on track and keep us accountable. At Six Disciplines, that's EXACTLY what our research shows - will make business improvement and business EXCELLENCE - last.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Courage To Lead has a great piece on "The Courage To Lead."

Their premise?

  • The single biggest barrier to implementing strategy is courage.


  • Many people (and firms) lack the guts to stick with the plans and goals they have set for themselves.
  • They lack the courage of their own convictions

In short, executing a strategy takes courage. You must be willing to practice what you preach, when it is convenient and (most important) when it is not.

BOTTOMLINE: "If you’re going to pursue a strategy, you must be willing to make hard choices and act as if you truly believe in your own strategy."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Quotes for Today

"Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs." - Vaclav Havel

"It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do." - Elbert Hubbard

"Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.“"- Dee Hock

"Talk does not cook rice." - Chinese proverb, Execution and Six Disciplines

When you think of, one thing is for sure: execution is the key to their continuing success.

Don't believe it?

Here's a flip chart of what's on CEO Jeff Bezos' mind...

BOTTOMLINE: "The reasons most businesses fail is not strategy - it's execution. Know what to do is not the problem: doing it is! The Six Disciplines Methodology has been specifically designed and optimized for execution. " (page 55, Six Disciplines for Excellence)

Customer Relationships - Making Them Great

Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson, in his unpublished manuscript, Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management, makes this observation about human nature:

"You remember 1/3 of what you read, 1/2 of what people tell you, but 100 percent of what you feel."

BOTTOMLINE: What customers are most likely to remember about you is their emotional reaction to working with you. One bad experience can make the difference. Fortunately, the opposite is also true. One great experience can make a relationship last -- for the long-term.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Leadership Development as Competitive Advantage

Great article here from Emory Leadership.Org on "Leadership Development as Competitive Advantage"

"One of the most critical CEO challenges is to create sustainable competitive advantage.

The keyword is “sustainable” as many companies find that whatever competitive advantage they are able to carve out for themselves is relatively short-lived. It is difficult to hide a strategic innovation from your competitors.

So how do great companies create sustainable competitive advantage?

One approach is to employ systems thinking – creating a differentiated complex system is more difficult for competitors to imitate than a strategic innovation.

  • Why do some companies consistently outperform others?
  • It is not due to the strategic innovations of some new, easily copied techniques. Rather, it is the result of employing a total systems approach that identifies, nurtures, trains, and coaches the leadership. The system drives sustainable achievement.

BOTTOMLINE: A leadership development system is complex and difficult to build. It begins with recruitment and incorporates job placement, performance management, human resource development, and succession planning. (One such "system" - called Six Disciplines, is designed specifically for top-performing small businesses, and incorporates these key best practices in its methodology.)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Living The Good Life

In life, as in business, there comes a time to make serious choices.

From Adrian Savage, a wonderful piece of advice " How To Give Yourself The Best Chance In Life."

The essence?

  • Take time to work out what's most important to you
  • Keep focusing on your strengths
  • Keep trying new things
  • Broaden your horizons
  • Deliberately shift your perspective
  • Spend as much of your time as you can doing things that need to be done. (EXECUTE!)

BOTTOMLINE: If your work and your core values don't match fairly well, you'll never make much of a success.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Critical Leadership Challenges

The Center for Creative Leadership asked its readers to identify the critical leadership challenges facing them and their organizations.

The results of their survey:

"What are the critical leadership challenges that you face in your current job?" (multiple responses)
  • 68% said "managing change and complexity"
  • 59% said "developing others for leadership roles"
  • 54% said "working collaboratively by building and maintaining relationships"
  • 54% said "communicating effectively"
  • 53% said "building an effective team"

What are the critical leadership challenges that your organization faces? (multiple responses)

  • 70% said "developing leadership at all levels"
  • 66% said "developing a climate for innovation"
  • 61% said "developing high potential and emerging leaders"
  • 59% said "operating from an integrated understanding of the organization"

A Bit of Inspiration

Need a bit of inspiration today?

(Tip of the hat to good friend Anita Campbell at Small Business Trends for this one!)

Work Hard, Not Long

Rob May, our friend over at the Business Pundit, resurfaced this article from Fast Company on "Working Hard, Not Long."

The essence?

  • Working hard and working long, -- "long" and "hard" are now two different things.
  • We work long because we are trying to avoid working hard.
  • We praise multitasking when really we should praise focus - because focus is hard
  • We praise going through 100 emails to "stay in the loop" when really we should praise the ability to discern what is important and what isn't.

BOTTOMLINE: We all have the same amount of time available each day. It's how you use it that is important, not how much you use. Life is too short and too precious to drag it out by working long. Work hard instead.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Is Your Organization "Ready & Able" for Six Disciplines?

In this short video, listen to Gary Harpst, CEO and Founder of Six Disciplines Corporation, as he describes what a "Ready and Able Organization" is, and how you'll know if/when you're ready for adopting the Six Disciplines Methodology.

Change Management for Six Disciplines Clients

When introducing any new business process improvement approach (like the Six Disciplines™ Methodology), change management is a key to successful implementation.

Prosci's newest 2005 Best Practices in Change Management reveals these top report findings:
  • The #1 contributor to (business improvement) project success is active, strong and visible sponsorship throughout the project.
  • The top obstacles to successful change are employee resistance at all levels: front-line, middle managers, and senior managers and inadequate senior management sponsorship.
  • Employees want to hear messages about change from two people: the CEO and their immediate supervisor - the message they want to hear from each individual is very different.
  • When asked what they would do differently next time, most teams would dedicate resources to change management.
  • The top reason for employee resistance is a lack of awareness about the change.

Knowing these factors before going into any important business process improvement can help set expectations appropriately.

Friday, March 17, 2006

National Small Business Week in the U.S.

National Small Business Week is coming up in April in the United States.

The Small Business Administration is holding a two-day event, April 12 - 13, 2006 in Washington.

More information at the SBA website

BOTTOMLINE: The differences that small businesses have over larger enterprises include the ability to connect to people to purpose, more effective communication, timely decision-making, more in-depth customer intimacy, and the ability to attract talented team members.

(Thanks to Anita Campbell over at Selling to Small Business for the tip!)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Six Disciplines Leadership Center of North Carolina Names Managing Partners

Six Disciplines Corporation today announced Bruce Fawcett and Craig Landwehr will assume the Managing Partner roles with the newly-added franchise of Six Disciplines Leadership Center of North Carolina, located in Durham.

Bruce and Craig will be responsible for ensuring the long-term success of Six Disciplines clients in North Carolina. Both with offer business coaching and strategic advisory services to top-performing organizations that adopt the Six Disciplines™ Methodology, in pursuit of continual business process improvement.

The Six Disciplines Leadership Center of North Carolina is scheduled to be operational in March of 2006, with offices at 4819 Emperor Blvd, Durham, NC, 27703. For more information, contact Bruce Fawcett at 919.313.4587 or email

Six Disciplines Leadership Centers Expands Into North Carolina

Six Disciplines Corporation today announced that it has signed a franchise agreement to launch a Six Disciplines Leadership Center to service the North and East areas of North Carolina.

The Six Disciplines Leadership Center of North Carolina will service clients in the north and eastern portions of the state of North Carolina, extending from Winston-Salem to Wilmington, including the Triad and Triangle regions.

Partners in the Six Disciplines Leadership Center of North Carolina include Bruce Fawcett, Craig Landwehr and Mark Granville.

The Six Disciplines Leadership Center of North Carolina is scheduled to be operational in March of 2006. For more information, contact Bruce Fawcett at 919.313.4587 or email

Monday, March 13, 2006

da Vinci's 7 Principles

Sometimes, you have to start out, learning from those who came before us...

da Vinci's 7 Principles

  1. Curiositá - An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.
  2. Dimostrazione - A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistance, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
  3. Sensazione - The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.
  4. Sfumato (Literally "Going up in smoke") - A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.
  5. Arte/Scienza - The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. "Whole-Brain" thinking.
  6. Corporalita - The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.
  7. Connessione - A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking.

(Tip of the hat to Phil over at Make It Great!)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Nine Lives of Leadership

800-CEO-Read has made the ebook the Nine Lives of Leadership, by Lisa Haneberg, from Management Craft fame, available for free.

It’s a great leadership resource for all leaders and managers to read.

(Tip of the hat to George Ambler at The Practice of Leadership for this one)

The Myths About Strategic Leadership

From the Center for Creative Leadership comes "Strategic Leadership: Beyond Setting Direction"

Their assertions:

  • Much is made of the importance of strategy in today's organizations.
  • Even so, managers and executives often struggle to move strategy beyond setting direction or goals and toward an on-going process of transforming and sustaining the organization
  • The missing piece is what is called strategic leadership
  • The focus of strategic leadership is the enduring success of the organization, and the work of strategic leadership is to drive the organization so that it will thrive in the long term.

BOTTOMLINE: If you think strategic leadership isn't in your job description, think again. You may have been misled by one of these common myths about leadership and strategy:

"Strategic leadership is only the CEO's job."

"I need to be strategic; my people don't."

"Leading strategically is about making the right choice at the right time."

Entrepreneurial Proverbs

Sometimes, the most basic advice is the best.

Ready for some "basically little nuggets of wisdom for bite-sized nutrition" ?

Here are some "Entrepreneurial Proverbs"

(Tip of the hat to Rob May at the BusinessPundit for this one!)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Defining Leadership

Management Consulting News offers this interview with author Aubrey C. Daniels on "What Followers Reveal about Leaders." Daniels helps the world’s leading organizations apply the principles of behavioral science to the workplace. His consulting firm, Aubrey Daniels International, works with business leaders to develop management strategies that reinforce behaviors for long-term success

The essence of his research:

  • Although leadership has been dissected and written about for hundreds of years, the failure rate for American business leaders is 50 to 60 percent. Clearly, we still have a problem.
  • There’s no real agreement on the definition of leadership. Usually it’s defined so broadly that it’s up to the individual to decide what constitutes good leadership
  • Leadership is not a personality trait. But charismatic profiles tend to make people believe that’s all there is to it.
  • A definition of leadership: the role of the leader is to establish the conditions under which all performers will choose to execute the mission, vision, and values of the organization.
  • Leadership is about affecting behavior, so when we talk about leading people, we should really talk about leading people’s behavior.
  • What we’re writing about is measuring the effectiveness of leaders by examining the behavior of their followers. We define leadership, not only by a leader’s behavior, but also by the behavior of a leader’s followers.

BOTTOMLINE: The most successful leaders transcend personality to develop a follower’s loyalty to the organization’s goals. A leader must continually challenge followers to reach for attainable goals so they will stretch and grow

Leadership: Head, Heart and Guts

The results are in from the first annual Global Leadership Imperative, launched by Mercer Delta Executive Learning Center, a global provider of senior executive programs.

The study uncovered the top four business risks facing business leaders and their ability to achieve business results over the next 24 months.

  • 83% of senior executives said “increased competitive pressures” poses the greatest challenge to businesses and requires the broadest leadership skill set,
  • 67% said “responding to rapidly changing market conditions”
  • 60% said “failure to innovate”
  • 52% said “satisfying customer expectations”

Senior executives identified the profile of today’s successful business leader as multi-dimensional, possessing a combination of three core competencies in order to rise above the top four business challenges. Mercer Delta Executive Learning Center categorizes these competencies as:
  • Head: Cognitive skills; providing strategy, direction and purpose
  • Heart: Emotional intelligence; understanding, working with, and developing others
  • Guts: Values; doing the right thing based on clear values

BOTTOMLINE: Executives in this study identified the capacity to “think like a customer” as the most important leadership capability for their organizations.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Four Keys For Living Authentically

Four keys to help you create your individual style for living:

  1. Choose happiness in your lifestyle
  2. Live authentically
  3. Live by the trinity of what is true, good and beautiful
  4. Aspire to achieve authentic excellence

(Tip of the hat to Phil at Make It Great! for this one, spotted over at Worthwhile - Alexandra Stoddard, from Time Alive)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Providing Value

David Rothacker, over at Rothacker Reviews, asks the question:

"Think about your life and business today. What can you provide to someone that is more than what they expected?"

David's thoughts on providing value are included here.

(We're humbled by the mention of Be Excellent in this article)

Leadership Succession and Recruitment

Leadership succession and recruitment need the sharp attention of your company's top executives and board.

But who should be held accountable—and how?

An excerpt from a Harvard Business Review article by Jeffrey Cohn, Rakesh Khurana, and Laura Reeves offers some insights:

  • Many executives believe that leadership development is a job for the HR department. This may be the single biggest misconception they can have.
  • At companies that are good at growing leaders, operating managers, not HR executives, are at the front line of planning and development.
  • Many senior executives now hold their line managers directly responsible for these activities.
  • They must mentor emerging leaders, from their own and other departments, passing on important knowledge and providing helpful evaluations and feedback.
  • If line managers are held responsible for executing the talent development initiatives, the board should assume high-level ownership of the overall system. (Traditionally, however, most boards have focused on CEO succession, giving short shrift to systematic leadership development.)
  • Detached from day-to-day operations and biases, board directors can objectively look at the company's leadership development systems and bench strength.

Sharpening Your Business Acumen

How do leaders anticipate external trends and craft their strategies accordingly? They follow a six-step thinking process.

Strategy+Business magazine offers a six-step guide for incorporating external trends into your internal strategies.
  1. What is happening in the world today?
  2. What does it mean for others?
  3. What does it mean for us?
  4. What would have to happen first (for the results we want to occur)?
  5. What do we have to do to play a role?
  6. What do we do next?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

CPA's Top Financial Management Priorities for 2006

Rick Telberg is president and chief executive of Bay Street Group LLC, advisors in marketing, management and strategy. He also authors a great business blog called CPA Trendlines.

Small company CPAs responded to a recent Bay Street Group survey, and here's the results:

Top 10 Financial Management Priorities for CPAs in 2006 (percentage of surveyed CPAs who agree. Includes multiple responses)

  1. 60% - Improving Department's Organization/Performance
  2. 53% - Recruiting, Training & Retention
  3. 37% - Treasury Operations
  4. 37% - Forecasting and Budgeting
  5. 31% - Cash/Liquidity Management
  6. 31% - Payments Systems 31
  7. 30% - Mergers/Acquisitions/Restructuring
  8. 30% - Business Performance Management
  9. 30% - Strategic Planning
  10. 28% - Financial Accounting & Reporting

(Source: Bay Street Group, LLC for AICPA, 2006)

BOTTOMLINE: Take a look at the boldfaced priorities! Then, take a look at the priority that you thought CPAs were high on in red.

Giuliani's Six Principles of Leadership

In his eight years as Mayor, Rudy Giuliani revitalized New York City by focusing on public safety and economic growth. After the devastating terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, he was heralded internationally for his leadership skills.

Giuliani, now the chairman and CEO of the consulting firm Giuliani Partners, captured his approach in his No. 1 best-seller Leadership. Speaking last month at CCL's Friends of the Center Leadership Conference, he explored six principles of leadership that are critically important for success:

  1. Develop strong beliefs.
  2. Be an optimist
  3. Have courage
  4. Relentless preparation
  5. Teamwork
  6. Communication

Read the excerpt of his presention on leadership here.