Michael Lee Stallard, president of E Pluribus Partners, provides insights about leadership training, team building, communications and executive coaching. E Pluribus Partners focuses on results-driven initiatives that maximize employee engagement, employee retention, employee productivity, innovation and profitability.

Help Your Direct Reports Create Personal Development Plans

Personal Development Plan#55 Create Personal Development Plans – People are more engaged when they are striving and progressing toward goals. Work with your direct reports to create personal development plans. Help them discover wise goals to advance their careers. Put disciplines in place to help them achieve these goals. Doing so will boost their effectiveness and their connection to you.

This is the fifty-fifth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

How to Become Indispensable to Your Clients

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What makes you indispensable to a client? So indispensable that she treats you as a valued partner and pays you well for a sustained period of time? The obvious answer is to have clearly demonstrable expertise in areas she values. This alone will open doors and close deals for you.

It won’t ensure long-term loyalty, however.

To become truly indispensable requires a human connection that nurtures trust. Integral to this type of connection is Shared IdentityShared Empathy and Shared UnderstandingRead more »

Connect Through Team Activities

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#54 Take Time for Team Activities – Consider activities that you can do together as a team.  Pixar Animation has Pixar University to help create connection among employees.  Each employee has the option to attend up to four hours of classes each week.  The university offers more than 90 classes from filmmaking to drawing.  The motto on Pixar University’s crest is a Latin phrase meaning “alone no longer.”

Zappos gives its managers a budget for team-building activities. Team activities done away from work help people to truly focus on one another rather than be distracted by being in the workplace. Doing something fun together helps people to like one another and leads to more cooperation. Read more »

Is It Ever Wise to Swear at Work?

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By Michael Lee Stallard and Katie Russell

You discover a careless error your administrative assistant made in printing a proposal you need to present to a potential new client in a few hours. Should you swear to express your frustration?

How about when you are speaking to the people you lead who are clearly not giving their best efforts?

How about if you are a woman in a male-dominated culture and you want to fit in?  Would cursing be wise in that situation?

A recent Quartz.com article argues that in circumstances like these, swearing is ok. We disagree. Let’s look at the rationale presented.  Read more »

Help Colleagues in Need

Get Well Soon Banner Balloons and Flowers#53 Help Colleagues in Need – It connects with people when you reach out to show you care or help them during a time of need. The Beryl Companies has “Beryl Cares” to monitor the needs of employees and coordinate a response. If you learn about a colleague who is sick, or has a serious illness or death in the family, respond in an appropriate way. Perhaps you could send a card to let him/her know you are thinking of him/her and offer to help if needed.

This is the fifty-third post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

Vince Lombardi’s Success Formula: “Task + Relationship Excellence = Results”

Vince Lombardi Trophy_Noncommercial Reuse

I once attended a meeting where it seemed that everyone was focused on the people or relationships in a business and believed that doing so would bring success.

Don’t believe it.

Great leaders focus on achieving BOTH task excellence and relationship excellence. This dual focus produces sustainable superior performance. Read more »

How Leaders Can Guard Against Unethical Behavior

Ethical DecisionsWhen leaders behave in ways that violate ethical norms and harm customers, it has a devastating effect on connection and employee engagement. A quick glance at business news headlines shows the extent to which unethical behavior has become a problem today. Many of these unethical practices seem to defy common sense, such as the restaurant owner in China who made headlines for lacing food with opium in an effort to get customers to return.

The best leaders, whom we at E Pluribus describe as servant leaders, maintain a mindset that they serve employees who in turn serve customers.  This mindset inspires them to excellent performance and helps protect them from drifting towards unethical behavior.

If leaders don’t maintain this mindset, they are likely to start serving themselves, which makes them vulnerable to drifting into unethical territory to beat competitors and maximize personal wealth, power and status. Ironically, this mindset only diminishes personal wealth, power and status because unethical behavior sabotages sustainable superior performance once a business’ reputation is tarnished.

How do you protect yourself from the temptation of unethical behavior? Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts.

Establish a Team Vision Through Continuous Improvement Meetings

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#52 Hold “Continuous Improvement” Meetings – Periodically pull your team together for a session to identify innovative ways to improve.  The meeting could be focused on ways to increase revenue, reduce costs, improve quality and/or improve efficiency.  List the ideas, prioritize them, select a manageable set to focus on, assign responsibilities and track their completion.  Make this information available to the entire group.  Holding these meetings 3-4 times a year gets people thinking proactively about how to improve and gives them an opportunity to make a difference.

This is the fifty-second post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

Connect Others Through “Flash Mentoring”

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#51 Employ “Flash Mentoring” – One way to match mentors and mentees is to ask them to commit to meet just once to see if both parties “click” (or “connect,” if you will) and if the mentor believes he/she has the knowledge/expertise and sufficient time available to meet the mentee’s needs and expectations. If both parties agree to continue, they should agree to a set number of additional meetings rather than leave the term open-ended. Unless both mentor and mentee agree to a set number of additional meetings, there is no commitment to meet again. “Flash mentoring” was a term coined by K. Scott Derrick in his work with 13L, a group of federal employees who share a passion for leadership excellence.

This is the fifty-first post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.

How to Save “The Shack”

RadioShack Logo

RadioShack logo, courtesy of RadioShack Corporation

RadioShack is on the ropes. What can be done to save it?

Over my career I’ve seen this scenario several times.  Xerox comes to mind.  In 2000, when Anne Mulcahy became Xerox’s CEO, the company was nearly bankrupt.  Her leadership helped save it.  In 2012, I spoke with Ms. Mulcahy in a series of interviews about how she led Xerox’s turnaround.  She described three behaviors that were similar to how A.G. Lafley led the turnaround of Procter and Gamble, how Howard Schultz and Howard Behar led the turnaround of Starbucks and, more recently, how Alan Mulally led the turnaround of Ford.

Our firm’s research over the past decade found these three behaviors in leaders who achieved long-term superior performance. The behaviors brought about an extraordinary degree of connection, community and unity so that people pull together rather than retreat to protect self-interest. Stated another way, these leadership behaviors create a team that pulls together and protects the culture from spiraling down into a dog-eat-dog environment. Read more »

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