Wisdom on Mentoring from the Wizard of Westwood

Lunch Meeting with Mentor

Recently I spoke with Don Yeager, longtime associate editor for Sports Illustrated turned entrepreneur and corporate speaker. Don co-authored a fantastic book on mentoring with the legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden (aka the wizard of Westwood) titled A Game Plan for Life. Don was mentored by Coach Wooden for more than 12 years. Here are four takeaways from my conversation with him.

3 Surprising Ways to Succeed in Self-Leadership

Man Looking Out Window

It’s ironic that successful self-leadership has more to do with others and less to do with self. I learned this later in life.

The sooner you see it, the better.

Following are three lessons I learned from personal and professional experiences over the course of my life. My hope is that they will help you be more successful over your career and journey in life.

The Optimum Number of Annual Goals

Woman Writing Goals on Board

#61 Set “Top Five” Annual Goals

Both individually and as a team, set no more than five challenging but achievable annual goals.  If you go beyond five annual goals, it will diminish focus and effective execution by tending to overwhelm those responsible for implementation. One day each week, review your weekly plans to see that they are aligned with your Top Five.

This is the sixty-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 Become Indispensable to Your Clients

Client-Relationships_Handshake

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 Understanding

Is It Ever Wise to Swear at Work?

Swearing-at-Work_stockimages_freedigitalphotos-dot-net

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. 

Consider Both Competence and Character in Hiring and Promotion Decisions

Business Handshake

#32 Hire, Develop and Promote for Both Competence and Character that Connects 

Most managers hire for competence but are not anywhere near as intentional about probing to understand a job applicant’s character.  Take time to identify your core values as a leader then ask questions that explore those values as you interview applicants.

3 Actions to Get Ford’s New CEO Off to a Great Start

Businessman tying up his tieAs seen on Fox Business.

Mr. Fields, congratulations on your appointment as the next president and CEO of one of America’s treasures, the Ford Motor Co. You have big shoes to fill — Mr. Mulally has done a remarkable job, as I wrote about in a previous article.

Now it’s your turn.  In the opinion of this advisor to leaders, here are three actions you should be laser-focused on to get off to a great start. 

When “Failure Is Not an Option”

Some years ago I ran into the director Ron Howard at our local Starbucks. I said hello and told him how much I enjoyed the movie “Apollo 13,” which, in case you didn’t know, he directed.

“Apollo 13” is a remarkable movie. It captures the story of one of NASA’s finest moments, when the NASA team’s extraordinary willpower, energy and creativity snatched the Apollo 13 crew from the jaws of death after an electrical malfunction impaired the spacecraft’s guidance and oxygen systems. Gene Kranz, flight director for the Apollo 13 mission, led the rescue effort. During one of the movie’s best moments, Kranz (played by actor Ed Harris) rallies the troops and declares with resolve that “failure is not an option.”

Your career will soar if you avoid leaders’ #1 blind spot

Many leaders unknowingly sabotage their careers by wrongly assuming their employees are actively engaged in their work.

This lack of understanding about engagement — enthusiasm, effort and enjoyment at work — will eventually affect the bottom line and make the leader look ineffective.

Here are the facts: The average leader engages only three out of every 10 employees. The best leaders engage six or more out of every 10 employees.

Your customers clearly see whether your employees are engaged or not. Engagement affects the quality of their work, their productivity and responsiveness, all of which affect your customers’ experience.  They feel employees’ enthusiasm and energy — or lack thereof — and recognize the bad results of an organization with overall morale problems. Employee engagement matters. 

Feel Lonely and Left Out at Work?

Recently, I’ve sensed more people feel lonely and left out at work.  With years of layoffs, those who remain carry greater workloads.  This crowds out time to connect with colleagues.  Managers are also stretched and have less time to connect with the people they are responsible for leading.  When I ask people at the seminars I teach which element of a Connection Culture — Vision, Value or Voice — they would like to increase in their workplace culture, it’s nearly always Voice.   One result of this is that there has been a decline of connection, community and the spirit of unity in organizations.