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How Important is Teamwork to Business Success?

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From Randy Pennington:

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It depends on your definition of “teamwork.”  It is absolutely critical if you define teamwork as everyone having a shared vision; clear roles and responsibilities; delivering their best to help the entire unit succeed; and keeping personal differences from derailing the group’s performance and results.

The problem is that many leaders and organizations believe “teamwork” also includes liking each other; hanging out after work; going along to get along; or sharing personal stories after a long-day of team-building games. If that’s your definition, teamwork is not as important as you think.

Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd created some of their best work when they weren’t getting along. William Frawley and Vivian Vance created the iconic characters of Fred and Ethel Mertz on the “I Love Lucy” series. Yet Frawley refused to speak to Vance on the set for the show’s entire run as you were watching their performance. That happens when you have superior talent who understand expectations and are committed to success.

A team that performs AND gets along is the best of all worlds. But if I have to choose, I’ll take talented professionals with a shared vision, clear roles, and a commitment to mutual success.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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From Scott McKain:

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While I accept that teamwork is essential to business achievement, I do not believe that having functioning teams ensures your success.

A few years ago, I did a fascinating project for a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. It seemed that in their hiring of new colleagues and their selection of members for various teams, they had achieved their goals in terms of gender and ethnic diversity – something we should obviously applaud and support. However, where they had fallen short is in regards to diversity of personality and strengths. Managers surrounded themselves with people who reflected their own ideas and bias.

Teams were filled with ethnically diverse people of all races, who all happened to think exactly alike – that’s why their managers had assembled them!

Today’s headlines display a powerful example: do you believe there was diversity of thought, personality, and strengths at the NFL when their team was making decisions regarding the issues that have dominated the recent news? I don’t.

Teams are most productive when they stimulate innovative thought and propose original approaches to achieving the goals my friends have written about here.

If the team members all think alike – every person in the group is unnecessary, except one.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Mark Sanborn:

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I’ve never worked with a business or organization that didn’t aspire to teamwork, which suggests that it is very important.

The rub is not as many businesses achieve it as aspire to it.

Creating a team is much more than renaming the “accounting department” the “accounting team.” The substance of teamwork is about people working together to achieve more than they could have working individually and independently.

But like anything important, it requires an attentive leader who can focus team members on collaborating and reward them for both individual and team contribution. It is often easier to work independently and unconcerned with the impact your effort has on those around you.

If you believe in teamwork, start by knocking down the barriers that keep people from working together. How do you find out what those barriers are? Just ask your employees, what keeps you from working as a team. They’ll tell you.

And since teamwork really is important, get busy removing those barriers.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Joe Calloway:

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Here’s what I think is the easy answer and to me the screamingly obvious answer:  it’s incredibly important.  If the customer service department promises what fulfillment can’t or won’t deliver, you go out of business. Ditto if manufacturing isn’t working as a team with sales. If you can’t work effectively with everyone else to deliver to our customers, then you can’t work here. The sports metaphors are endless: If the offensive line goes one way and the running back goes the other – out of business. If the guard passes to the forward and the forward isn’t in synch – out of business. Hopefully one or more of my four friends here will have a good, juicy contrarian answers to this about independent thinking or something.  My answer is dull and obvious: if you don’t have great teamwork you will get whipped in business by the company that does.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Larry Winget:

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Teamwork is a word like passion: sounds good but means nothing – a buzzword and not much more. Now, I know some of you team players are spewing coffee out of your nose at that because you love your team. But, let me bring a dose of reality: Teamwork doesn’t work. And that is because someone on the team won’t work. Which means the team didn’t do a damn thing.

The truth is a handful of superstar employees got the work done while the slackers were taking up space hiding from the work or covering their butts by looking really busy when they weren’t actually doing anything to get the job done. Businesses need a group of superstar employees who share a common goal and have mutual respect for each other’s abilities. Ask any superstar to name the slackers on their team. They can. A superstar always knows. Slackers love everybody. Leadership must step up their game and cut the dead weight loose. It’s not easy, but it can be done if a company is really dedicated to excellence and to their superstars. And they should be since those are the people doing the work!

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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5 Daily Habits to Improve Your Quality of Life

A recent article suggested that it takes, on average, 66 days to change a habit (a vast departure from the 21 day number I have heard thrown around in the past). daily disciplines from Mark SanbornRegardless, what I have found is that we spend so much time focusing on breaking habits: smoking, dieting, etc., that we forget about the integration of new, healthy ones into the old routine. What if instituting a few small tweaks to our regular ritual could create that impact we have been looking for?

Here are five small things you can do right now that will have a big impact on your quality of life:

  1. Detox (Digital):I recently wrote a post about printing out the articles that are so good you have to see them on paper – and perhaps you should; especially if you read before bedtime. So many of us are on screens all day – laptops, iPhones, Androids – but what you may not know is that the blue light emitted from these screens is interpreted by your brain as sunlight. That “sunlight” then results in your brain suppressing melatonin, a sleep hormone. Kick the screens off at least 2 hours before bedtime or use a program like flux to keep the blue light to a minimum. Your body will thank you as you drift off into a restful sleep thereby giving you the ability to have a more productive tomorrow.
  2. Exercise: You’ve heard this before – but it’s not just about burning calories and looking great. Even exercising for 20 minutes elevates the core temperature in your body. Subsequently, your body responds by lowering its core temperature at night; resulting in the ideal conditions for promoting a restful sleep. Nothing helps productivity more than a great night’s snooze.
  3. Create: Some time ago I was interviewed about the daily disciplines that I integrate into my life. One of those was creating something every day whether that is a blog, a facebook post, or a tweet. Some of you might remember a study from 2001 that Time published referred to as the “nun study.” One of the many interesting findings within it showed that the “80% [of nuns] whose writing was measured as lacking in linguistic density went on to develop Alzheimer’s in old age. Meanwhile, of those whose writing was not lacking, only 10% later developed the disease.[1]” The lesson here? Keep on building those neurons with a aplomb – it’s a great way to prevent you from losing your mind. Literally.
  4. Track accountability: How often do we say “I do that all the time” only to be corrected by our spouse, family, and friends that our perceived habits are not always accurate. I recommend using an app like Way of Life to easily and accurately track what you actually do every day. You can even customize it to fit your goals. Do you want to make sure that you compliment a coworker for a job well done once a day? This is a great way to make that happen!
  5. Meditate: It seems like you can’t throw a stone without hitting another story about the benefits of meditation these days. I’ll admit I have avoided talking about it, but not because I don’t believe in its efficacy. I will leave it to other publications to extoll the full virtues of meditation, but will leave you with a stat and a suggestion. “(A study published in May 2013) in the medical journal PloS One showed that one session of relaxation-response practice was enough to enhance the expression of genes involved in energy metabolism and insulin secretion and reduce expression of genes linked to inflammatory response and stress. There was an effect even among novices who had never practiced before.” You don’t need buddhist robes and yoga retreat to make this happen. Just start with a free program and give it 10 minutes of your day every day this week. Headspace.com is one place that can get you started. Let me know how it goes!

Hold yourself to a coming week of healthy habits and you’ll feel great because you did.

[1] Riley KP, Snowdon DA, Desrosiers MF, Markesbery WR: Early life linguistic ability, late life cognitive function, and neuropathology: Findings from the Nun Study Neurobiology of Aging 26(3):341347, 2005.

 

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What is the biggest enemy of Business Success?

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From Mark Sanborn:

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The worst enemy of business? Indifference.

Indifference is a lack of concern, interest or sympathy and it hurts business in two areas: people and process.

A lack of concern for your employees/colleagues and your customers/clients is the quickest way to destroy commitment and loyalty. Even when you disagree with someone, it shows you are interested enough to engage them. Indifference is a dead end street. It is hard to care about others who don’t seem to care about anything or anyone (except themselves). So why would we care about their business success?

Indifference to process is what happens when you aren’t interested in the details of your business. You can’t be bothered to “look at the numbers” or “deal with the problems,” as if there was something better you should be doing with you time.

We care about what and who is important to us, and if you aren’t concerned about the people and processes of your business, you probably don’t care about profits either.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Scott McKain:

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Lack of focus is the biggest enemy of success.  It’s an old analogy; however, it makes the point:  Sunshine alone won’t set a piece of paper on fire, but if you take a magnifying glass and focus the rays, it can cause the paper to erupt in flames.  The sunshine is the same – it’s the focus that creates the reaction.

Perhaps, in today’s age of intense media, the Internet, and unlimited entertainment options, it’s easier to be distracted than ever before.  However, those who desire to be successful can’t use that as an excuse.

What are the keys to focus? Here are three:

  1. Be specific.
  2. Plan.
  3. Write it down.

How do you focus without a target? You can’t – in other words, you need a precise object in order to concentrate.  After you’ve developed a specific target, next — begin to plan on the steps required to achieve your desire.  Finally, write it down – for some reason, putting pen to the page creates a contract with yourself for achievement.

With a specific target, a developed plan, and a written commitment, you will have established the focus required to overcome the biggest enemy of success.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Larry Winget:

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The biggest enemy of business success is success. Yep, you read it right. Nothing will kill success any quicker than being really successful. I have seen it many times with many people and many businesses. You experience a level of success and then you focus so much on achieving even more success, that you lose sight of what made you successful. While it is important to be forward thinking in order to build and expand on your hard-earned achievements, I believe it is even more important not to become forgetful. And success makes you forgetful.

Success makes you lazy and lulls you into a sleepy, safe place of complacency where you forget some or all of the things that made you successful in the first place: great customer service, value, hard work, paying attention to the little things, showing up early, making the calls, working closely with your suppliers, exceeding expectations, paying close attention to your money, staying on top of personnel issues, focus, prioritizing, celebrating every victory, learning from your mistakes and appreciating all of the people who helped you become successful. Remember: Look up so you can keep building but never forget to attend to the foundation.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Randy Pennington:

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Businesses don’t succeed for all sorts of reasons: a bad product; lousy financial controls; ignoring customer needs; poor sales and marketing; no planning. The list could go on.

But, there is one overriding cause at the heart of all of those reasons – inattention.

It is almost impossible for a single leader to pay attention to everything as the business grows. You have to leverage the energy, talent, and commitment of others. And that means that leaders must give their greatest attention to building a culture that never succumbs to inattention.

I agree with Larry that success can make you complacent if you let it. But, inattention can also stem from lack of knowledge or inadequate resources.

The businesses that consistently succeed pay almost fanatical attention to building and sustaining a culture where every person at every level is 100 percent committed, equipped, and accountable for doing ALL the things that deliver consistent results.

I look at it this way: Running a business is a lot like having a successful relationship. No one starts with failure as the goal. And, both fail when you stop giving attention to the crucial aspects that make them successful … starting with the right culture.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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From Joe Calloway:

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The biggest enemy of business success is passion.

Now, everyone get up off the floor because most of you just fainted from shock. Isn’t passion the very thing that makes a business succeed? Actually it’s energy coupled with, as McKain points out, focus, that drives success. As an article in the Wall Street Journal recently stated, “if there’s anything that can sink a new business, it’s passion. It blinds entrepreneurs, leading them to get overconfident and make bad choices at the worst times.” Click Here to read the WSJ article.

The killer: you think that because you love your product/service, everyone else will, too.

Research from Keith Hmieleski and Robert Baron calls this “the tendency to expect positive outcomes even when such expectations are not rationally justified.” The passion to “follow your dreams” and not dispassionately understand the realities of the marketplace is a lethal business killer.

Winget and I have always said that being whipped up in a fit of passion over your business clouds judgment and reason and leads to bad decisions which leads to failure.

Passionate? Fine. But you’d better bring some dispassionate judgment along, too.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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9 Strategies for Dealing with the Ugly Side of Social Media

Social media has become a true amplifier, permeating every nook and cranny of the web; giving a megaphone to those who might have previously found themselves trollvoiceless. While I generally believe that the proliferation of the social web is a good thing, it does have a dark side that is difficult, if not impossible to ignore.

I was reminded of this recently when an unscrupulous competitor accused me and my friend Larry Winget of an ugly racial slur. While it was totally fabricated, this person willfully resorted to defamation of character to defend his indefensible behavior.

It is easy to get mad, get on your computer, and allow emotions to run amok. We live in a world where you can say or write literally whatever you want and almost immediately find some captive audience just waiting to react.

Yet there are situations where you do need to respond to the detractors, and take some risks in the pursuit of truth, honesty and justice. I can’t tell you exactly when to do that (that is your decision), or precisely how to react. But I do believe, as does Larry, that there are times you shouldn’t acquiesce to digital bullies. You need to take a stand.

Taking a stand is not risk free, but the greater risk is how you respond to the ludicrous, the fabricated and the unfair. An ongoing challenge of leadership is the control of ones’ emotions and actions. In the age of the digital echo chamber, how do you guard yourself from having an unprofessional moment, and perhaps more importantly, how do you keep from throwing fuel on a fire you’d rather put out?

Here are a few tips on how to keep your social media actions in check, and how to react to others who just can’t seem to control theirs:

How do I think through my social media actions in a heated moment?

  1. If you wouldn’t say it to your grandmother, don’t write it on Twitter.  The oldest test in the book is the grandma test. It still holds today. If she would be appalled, odds are that others will be too. It feels good to blast an opponent, but such outburst can easily be used against you.
  2. Remember that everything that you say or do on the web is archived. Even if the NSA happens to miss it, odds are that Twitter, Facebook, Google, and/or other platforms have a way of archiving the information. Consider everything you write these days on the internet to be permanent. Trolls may delete their comments but they still leave a trail.
  3. Still debating saying it? Sleep on it. This is familiar but often good advice. If you really feel the need to say something that might be taken the wrong way, consider sitting on it overnight. Waiting until the next day will rarely hurt your point, and it may save huge amounts of embarrassment.
  4. If you do say it…make sure you feel that you could defend it in a court of law. Falsely accusing someone of something is a big deal and the repercussions could amplify beyond your original intentions.
  5. Remember that your reputation is cumulative. How you respond to the unfair and uncivil will either enhance or detract from your reputation. Don’t let others bait you into ruining your reputation.

How do I react when I am targeted on social media?

  1. Grab screenshots. If someone truly is going after you, the first move is to gather evidence. Make sure that you have copies. Odds are that they will quickly realize what they have done and will try to erase their trail, so the best thing you can do is make sure you have a copy on hand.
  2. Report them. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and most other platforms have guards against those who harass others. Don’t hesitate to put in a report – that’s why it’s there!
  3. Try not to react. This goes back to my above points about guarding yourself. As hard as it is, try to remember that once integrity is lost it is extremely hard to recover. The more reaction, the more fuel you pour on the fire.
  4. Remember that the truth is the best defense. As someone who has been egregiously accused of something I did not do, I took solace in the fact that I was innocent and as such the accusation cruelly asserted could never be proven.

We live in a world where unscrupulous people have migrated to online communities and live among the rest of us. I hope you never have to use the above actions, but that when you do I hope they serve you well.

 

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7 Clues You’ve Got the Wrong Person on Your Team

How do you know you’ve got the wrong person on your team?mr-wrong Any team member can sometimes feel like a bad fit, but there are more tangible clues you need to know to determine if a team member is the wrong person than simply your emotions. Here are seven clues

1. You wouldn’t rehire him or her if you had the choice. Let’s start here. If the person in question quit today and then applied to be rehired tomorrow (ignore the feasibility of the timeframe), would you hire him or her back?

2. You get negative feedback from others about him or her. Is there a consistent stream of negative feedback from others—team members, customers and/or vendors—about this person’s behavior?

3. The person’s “cost” (salary, benefits, training and time needed) exceeds the value they create. Quantify the individual’s contribution to the team and organization. Then compare that against their true cost (wages/salary, benefits, training and attention).

4. Team morale is lower because of them. Does overall team morale suffer because of this person? Is her or she more aptly considered a team slayer rather than a team player?

5. Customers or clients complain or don’t like doing business with this person. This is costly: do you receive phone calls, emails or other forms of complaint from customers?

6. The individual hasn’t improved with feedback, coaching and/or training. Have you attempted to appropriately address any deficiencies by providing feedback and needed training and development? Has this person accepted and has performance improved? If not, there is a real problem.

7. Your gut is telling you this person isn’t right for the team.  It is time to add together all the information and do what your gut is telling you.  

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