Archive for ‘Leadership’

April 5, 2012

Conduct an informal 360°

In this short video from HBR, Scott Edinger, founder of Edinger Consulting Group, explains how to get the feedback you need to develop your leadership skills.

The questions all are excellent questions to ask your self and/or to use in formal meetings with senior managers who are in charge of mentoring you or evaluating your skills, but I personally find them hard to use in an informal context with direct reports. Good to have them in mind to drive specific development conversations with HR talent management specialists though.
March 9, 2012

How can you build a positive workplace.

I am a true believer of the principles explained by Shawn Achor in this month’s HBR.

Can work wonders with simple ideas. Start by changing one daily habit…

In July 2010 Burt’s Bees, a personal-care products company, was undergoing enormous change as it began a global expansion into 19 new countries. In this kind of high-pressure situation, many leaders pester their deputies with frequent meetings or flood their in-boxes with urgent demands. In doing so, managers jack up everyone’s anxiety level, which activates the portion of the brain that processes threats—the amygdala—and steals resources from the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for effective problem solving.

Burt’s Bees’s then-CEO, John Replogle, took a different tack. Each day, he’d send out an e-mail praising a team member for work related to the global rollout. He’d interrupt his own presentations on the launch to remind his managers to talk with their teams about the company’s values. He asked me to facilitate a three-hour session with employees on happiness in the midst of the expansion effort. As one member of the senior team told me a year later, Replogle’s emphasis on fostering positive leadership kept his managers engaged and cohesive as they successfully made the transition to a global company.

That outcome shouldn’t surprise us. Research shows that when people work with a positive mind-set, performance on nearly every level—productivity, creativity, engagement—improves. Yet happiness is perhaps the most misunderstood driver of performance. For one, most people believe that success precedes happiness. “Once I get a promotion, I’ll be happy,” they think. Or, “Once I hit my sales target, I’ll feel great.” But because success is a moving target—as soon as you hit your target, you raise it again—the happiness that results from success is fleeting.

In fact, it works the other way around: People who cultivate a positive mind-set perform better in the face of challenge. I call this the “happiness advantage”—every business outcome shows improvement when the brain is positive. I’ve observed this effect in my role as a researcher and lecturer in 48 countries on the connection between employee happiness and success. And I’m not alone: In a meta-analysis of 225 academic studies, researchers Sonja Lyubomirsky, Laura King, and Ed Diener found strong evidence of directional causality between life satisfaction and successful business outcomes.

Another common misconception is that our genetics, our environment, or a combination of the two determines how happy we are. To be sure, both factors have an impact. But one’s general sense of well-being is surprisingly malleable. The habits you cultivate, the way you interact with coworkers, how you think about stress—all these can be managed to increase your happiness and your chances of success.

Develop New Habits

Training your brain to be positive is not so different from training your muscles at the gym. Recent research on neuroplasticity—the ability of the brain to change even in adulthood—reveals that as you develop new habits, you rewire the brain.

Engaging in one brief positive exercise every day for as little as three weeks can have a lasting impact, my research suggests. For instance, in December 2008, just before the worst tax season in decades, I worked with tax managers at KPMG in New York and New Jersey to see if I could help them become happier. (I am an optimistic person, clearly.) I asked them to choose one of five activities that correlate with positive change:

  • Jot down three things they were grateful for.
  • Write a positive message to someone in their social support network.
  • Meditate at their desk for two minutes.
  • Exercise for 10 minutes.
  • Take two minutes to describe in a journal the most meaningful experience of the past 24 hours.

The participants performed their activity every day for three weeks. Several days after the training concluded, we evaluated both the participants and a control group to determine their general sense of well-being. How engaged were they? Were they depressed? On every metric, the experimental group’s scores were significantly higher than the control group’s. When we tested both groups again, four months later, the experimental group still showed significantly higher scores in optimism and life satisfaction. In fact, participants’ mean score on the life satisfaction scale—a metric widely accepted to be one of the greatest predictors of productivity and happiness at work—moved from 22.96 on a 35-point scale before the training to 27.23 four months later, a significant increase. Just one quick exercise a day kept these tax managers happier for months after the training program had ended. Happiness had become habitual.

March 8, 2012

March 8th_International Women’s Day: 20 Best Marketing And Social Media Blogs By Women

I had this topic in my drafts since Jan, today seems like the right day to post it. Congratulations to all marketing and social media ladies. You are a source of inspiration.

Over the last year I have learned a great deal from women in the field of marketing, social media, branding and entrepreneurship. While there are many female thought leaders in the marketing industry that I may have missed, this list contains the women that have made a difference in my life or my viewpoint and continue to lead the way for women in business.

It’s up to each of us to find online content we find valuable to our growth and business needs, and then to consume and put into action the advice and tips from the experts. This list is full of women that I have found to be leaders, women who are consistently providing relevant and useful information to the marketing and social media industry. I appreciate each and every one of them and recommend these ladies as the Chicks Pick Best in Blog–Marketing and Social Media.

Conversation Agent, Valeria Maltoni, @ConversationAge–Valeria helps businesses understand how customers and communities have changed marketing, PR and communications–and how to bring value in this new environment. She also hosts the #kaizenblog Twitter chat on Fridays where other professional and aspiring conversationalists share their best tips.

Lipsticking, Yvonne DiVita, @Lipsticking–Yvonne heads up a very talented group of women bloggers including Lena West, Donna DeClemente, Mary Schmidt and Robbi Hess. These ladies bring a powerful female voice to the marketing world assisting many brands, agencies and not-for-profits in their marketing to women strategies. You’re sure to appreciate the honest and outspoken articles found on Lipsticking.

WonderBranding, Michele Miller@MicheleMiller–Wonder Branding brings you the latest news and views on marketing to women. Michele keeps us up to date on how brands are responding to the female customer. You can read the interviewwith Michele Miller that I conducted earlier this year here.

She Takes On The WorldNatalie MacNeil,@NatalieMacneil–Women entrepreneurs will come to find She Takes on the World a necessary add to their RSS reader. Natalie offers excellent articles focusing on building your business from the ground up and often brings in other female experts for her “In Her Heels” interviews.

Women On BusinessSusan Gunelius, @SusanGunelius–Find news and information you need to be successful in the business world from this network of female thought leaders. Articles focus on leadership, market trends and entrepreneurship.

V3 Integrated Marketing, Shelly Kramer@ShellyKramer–Shelly and Laura Lakes run the Kansas City based marketing company V3 and offer their best tips here on their blog in areas such as social media, blog marketing, public relations and traditional marketing for businesses. Shelly is a firecracker that has a knack for engaging with her community and immediately putting a smile on your face. A must follow on Twitter as well as her informative blog.

Client MagnetBernadette Doyle, @BernadetteDoyle–an amazing Web site that teaches how to attract Clients Like a Magnet, Bernadette teaches how to use attraction marketing to change your mindset to begin having clients seek you rather than you grasping after them. A very positive blog that is sure to have an impact on your business and your life.

Women Grow Business, Jill Foster, @JillFoster–As editor for Women Grow Business, Jill brings together a network of female entrepreneurs to discuss leadership, marketing, operations (especially in tough economic times), benefits of social cause partnership, talent retention, online presence, entrepreneurship, social technology, mentorship, failure and success. You will want to come back often.

SheconomyStephanie Holland, @Sheconomy–Stephanie takes pride in being able to reach a guy’s mind on marketing to women. Sheconomy is a great resource to come back to for statistics on women in the marketplace as well as getting a clearer perspective on WHY brands should be marketing to women.

ClickNewzLynn Terry@LynnTerry–Lynn has been in Internet marketing for years and knows how to give you the step by step process on how to recreate her success for yourself. You’ll find tips from article marketing to search engine optimization and everything in between. Lynn also has a forum community that is a great tool for getting quick answers.

Startup PrincessKelly King Anderson, @StartupPrincess–Kelly operates Startup Princess, an organization for women entrepreneurs everywhere to network, learn, share and mentor one another. Kelly and her Fairy Godmothers are always willing to help you grow your business., Connie Bensen, @cbensen–Connie Bensen is a leading authority on cultivating online communities. Her blog is an excellent resource to find mentorship and inspiration for others pursing a career in Community Management or for brands seeking to improve their community engagement strategies.

Beth’s Blog, Beth Kanter, @Kanter–Beth is the leading expert on cause marketing and using social media for nonprofits. A place to capture and share ideas, experiment with and exchange links and resources about the adoption challenges, strategy and ROI of nonprofits and social media.

Gwen BellGwen Bell, @GwenBell–Gwen knows social media and is the example of what a networker does to create connections across the world with seemingly no effort at all. Her posts will cause you to stop and think, not just hand feed you information. Perky, smart and a must read for those interested in anything Web 2.0.

HorsePigCow, Tara Hunt@MissRogue–specializes in community marketing–delighting and enchanting the people in the communities a company serves through product, communication and experience.

MarketingProfsAnn Handley, @MarketingProfs–For anyone interested in successful marketing of their business, Marketing Profs is not just a blog to follow, but a necessary tool in your marketing toolbox. You will find useful reports, statistics and viewpoints from many experts of both genders, but Ann and Beth Harte are the female voices behind Marketing Profs.

Outspoken Media, Rae Hoffman, @sugarrae–Rae is the CEO and cofounder of Outspoken Media along with Rhea Drysdale, and Lisa Barone, and these ladies don’t mess around. If you’re looking for advice in marketing, reputation management, SEO, link mapping and beyond, you’ll find a no-holds-barred approach with these exceptionally talented group. Outspoken indeed. If it hadn’t been for Rae’s outspoken self promo we may have missed this great resource, and you don’t want to do that.

Altitude Branding, Amber Naslund, @AmberCadabra–Amber is an upbeat breath of fresh air in the social media world. You’ll find a thought-provoking viewpoint that focuses on elevating brands through social media and communication.

IttyBiz, Naomi Dunford@IttyBiz–IttyBiz is a place to get tips, advice, motivation and support for your very small business. Naomi is a kick in the pants that shares her marketing expertise in a style only she can, loaded with wisdom, wit and an occasional F-bomb. A fun place to learn.

Diva Marketing Blog, Toby Bloomberg@TobyDiva–Toby has an accomplishment list a mile long from speaking at major new media conferences to sitting on the board for the American Marketing Association. On her blog she brings all her experience and offers it to us in a fun and bold voice that’s sure to bring you back for more.

Coree Silvera is thought leader in community management and social media marketing.

Share Your Favorites: Got a name or names you’d like to see on this list? We invite you to add your picks in our Comments section below.

March 6, 2012

Leadership and curiosity: how curious are you?

Have you ever noticed how the best leaders also tend to be the most curious leaders? Great leaders simply aren’t satisfied with what they know. They possess an insatiable curiosity for discovery and learning – they are in constant pursuit of what they don’t know, and what lies ahead. Real leaders are not nearly as concerned with attainment (stasis) as they are with betterment (change). Since the dawn of time the world has been shaped by leaders who understand that curiosity is the gateway to the future. So my question is this –

How curious are you?

Among many other things, curiosity helps frame vision, advances learning, fuels passion, and drives innovation. Curiosity often inspires the courage to discuss the undiscussable, challenge current thinking, deviate from behaviors accepted as normal, and to do what others previously thought impossible. The best leaders understand that usual and customary are not necessarily synonymous with healthy and thriving. The real key to curiosity begins with an open mind – a recognition that those who think differently aren’t inferior, nor are they a threat. An open mind is a sign of confidence which allows leaders to recognize diversity of opinion leads to better thinking and better outcomes.

Here’s where I’m going to throw you a curve ball – while great leaders tend to spend most of their time being externally focused, I want you to turn your curiosity inward and become introspective for a few moments. It was Socrates who said: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” When was the last time you did some serious self-examination on how your curiosity, or the lack thereof, is impacting your ability to function as a leader? Be curious enough to answer the following four questions about yourself:

1. Are you making a difference?

Why should anyone be led by you? Great leaders answer this question with their actions on a daily basis. If you’re not making a difference, you’re not leading. If your actions are not directly contributing to the betterment of those you lead, then you need to become curious about how to make some very real and meaningful changes.

2. Are you growing?

If you’re not growing as a person and as a leader, then it’s very likely those under your charge are following your lead. I’ve often said it’s impossible for a leader who is not growing to lead a growing organization. Nobody is too busy to learn. In fact, you don’t have the time not to learn. Leaders who don’t value learning will quickly be replaced by those who do.

3. Is your curiosity starting conversations, or your lack thereof shutting them down?

If your ego is messaging you have all the answers, and that your way is the only way, then why would anyone ever be inspired to pursue change and innovation? A leader who doesn’t encourage others to challenge their thinking isn’t a leader – they’re a dictator. Dictators suppress individual thought and new ideas, while leaders encourage it at all costs.

4. Is your curiosity attracting talent, or your lack thereof chasing it away?

A leader’s ability to seek out and embrace new ideas will serve as a magnet for attracting the best talent. The best talent desires to be a part of a culture that encourages contribution rather than stifling it. If you’re the leader who looks around the organization and asks “why can’t we attract better talent?” it’s because you value a compliant workforce more than a talented workforce. Real leaders don’t care who is right, they care about what is right – never forget this.

Bottom line – don’t settle for what is, use your curiosity to think what if? and seek out what can be. Thoughts? I’m curious…

January 27, 2012

Le dirigeant de demain? Tout le contraire de celui d’aujourd’hui!

A travers le regard de plus de 4 000 diplômés “grandes écoles”, une étude publiée par le réseau Grandes Ecoles au Féminin dresse un portrait robot de ce que sera le dirigeant de demain. Un chef d’entreprise humaniste, exemplaire, visionnaire… et féminin.

Par Sébastien Pommier pour L’


A quoi ressemblera le dirigeant de demain ? Probablement à Shiva, personnage contradictoire, à la fois dieu destructeur mais créateur d’un monde nouveau. Et dans l’esprit de beaucoup, représentant le multitasking.
“Has been”. En interrogeant 4 200 diplômés de grandes écoles, ” Grandes Ecoles au Féminin ” (GEF) dresse une photographie inédite et surprenante. Le chef d’entreprise loué aujourd’hui pour sa capacité à entretenir un réseau (54%), séducteur et bon orateur (41%), sans renier un certain côté dur pour atteindre ses objectifs (44%), est-il déjà has been ? Oui, à en croire l’étude, puisque dans les qualités attendues du dirigeant de demain, figurent désormais la capacité à savoir piloter et préserver l’intérêt de l’entreprise à long terme (61%), un aspect visionnaire (46%), et une capacité à créer l’innovation (33%) tout en préservant un comportement exemplaire, en interne comme en externe (42%). Bref, le dirigeant de demain serait le reflet inversé du dirigeant actuel…


Extrait de l’étude Grandes Ecoles au Féminin

Sociovision / GEF 5ème étude


Clônage. Pour en finir avec les clichés, ce sont les hommes (81%) et non les femmes (69%) qui placent leur vie privée avant tout. Les femmes sont ainsi davantage enclines à quitter leur entreprise pour progresser dans leur carrière (40% contre 34% pour les hommes). Conséquence, pour 84% des sondés, hommes et femmes donc, ” promouvoir des femmes à des postes de direction serait un bon moyen de faire évoluer dans le bon sens le management “, voire même pour 77% ” d’en finir avec un certains clonage des dirigeants “. Et si l’avenir c’était elles ?

Humanisme. La crise économique, persistante et perturbante, s’est muée en une crise des valeurs. Souvent décrié pour son immobilisme, son conservatisme et son manque d’humanisme, le management se retrouve en première ligne. ” On peut être frappé par l’importance que revêt aujourd’hui la notion de réseau dans le business, reconnait Karine Sanouillet, directrice de la fidélisation au Groupe Casino, et membre du réseau GEF. Et pourtant, c’est la composition même du réseau personnel du dirigeant qui est en évolution. Fini le côté ” grandes écoles corporatistes “, avec Internet le réseau s’humanise. On a envie de se mobiliser pour des causes, des valeurs “, explique cette ancienne HEC de 44 ans. Paradoxe de la crise des valeurs, on ” humanise ” les échanges en se coupant du lien direct. Et on affirme désormais ses positions sur la toile. L’e-réputation comme image du réel.

Mixité. Les sondés demandent donc plus de sens, et une vision à long terme, alors que la crise, stressante, changeante, pousse le dirigeant à une remise en cause quotidienne. Toujours militantes pour une plus grande mixité, notamment dans le top management, les femmes du réseau ” Grandes Ecoles au Féminin ” souhaitaient dans cette étude ” prendre du recul par rapport à la question de la mixité, pour se poser la question de l’accession au pouvoir “, indique Karine Sanouillet. Même si cette question reste leur fer de lance, dans un pays comme la France qui ne compte aucune ” patronne ” dans le CAC 40, il semble qu’il faille en passer par le cadre législatif pour atteindre un équilibre. Les principales intéressées y sont naturellement très favorables, et militent pour l’accélération de la mixité aux postes de top management (88% vs 62% hommes). Priorité numéro une des dirigeantes donc. Et des politiques ?

January 26, 2012

Coca-Cola ex-CEO’s shortest speach on work-life balance

I find it particularly interesting to read this recent speech, by Bryan Dyson, former Coca-cola CEO, and for 4 reasons:

– it is a perfect reflexion oh wat the supposedly Gen Y expects from its employer: respect,for work-life balance, “I have a life outside the office” (which is as important, if not more)

– this message was highly tweeted, posted on Facebook and other social media and not only in positive terms? some think this is just b…..shit : great employer branding or not?

– the current economic climate probably lends itself for this type of initiative, which would have been controversial even a few years ago

– it comes from the (ex)- top. Who chooses to express and share it widely, still using former company’s name Coca-Cola as a reference

So what do you think about this initiative? Seen something comparable recently? Feel free to comment…

January 18, 2012

Multicultural Leadership Starts from Within

In yesterday’s HBR blog:

The world is getting smaller. As new technologies in social media, transportation, and telecommunications bring us closer together, it’s more critical than ever for organizations to recruit, develop, and retain multicultural leaders who can skillfully navigate both the opportunities and challenges of a more connected world.

Multicultural leadership involves deep immersion within different cultures to understand their values and specific context. This immersion unlocks insight into how to best reach customers, inspire employees, and drive organizational performance in geographies outside one’s “home base.” Only through knowing other cultures deeply can a manager effectively connect the dots between them and highlight meaningful differences between cultures that impact business strategy.

When executed well, the results are astonishing. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) built a leading 40% share of the Chinese fast food market through patiently tailoring its product offering to local tastes and building a strong team of local managers. Other consumer-focused companies such as IKEA and Starbucks are following in KFC’s footsteps, but the learning curve is both steep and long. And fortunes can reverse quickly if managers don’t progress their multicultural understanding as markets continue to evolve. Note the recent stumbles in China of French grocer Carrefour, which had previously dominated other supermarket retailers in the country. Indeed, multicultural organizational capabilities are becoming as significant a source of competitive advantage as other core elements of business strategy.

Though multicultural leadership is mostly associated with multinational corporations (MNCs) — an understandable phenomenon given the inherent cross-cultural challenges MNCs face in expanding outside their home countries — these principles also have a lot to offer “national companies,” companies with limited presence outside a particular country or subregion. Given the enormous cultural diversity within many countries’ own borders, taking a more deliberate approach to sourcing and developing talent across socioeconomic class, religion, academic field, and other backgrounds could be highly productive in driving product and service innovation.

Moreover, the increasing war for talent across borders suggests that national companies will need to do more to attract and retain the most promising talent for their existing operations, much less prepare for eventual expansion abroad with all the multicultural capabilities that such a strategy will require.

In order to build that multicultural and transnational talent, managers need to structure programs within their companies that expose promising talent to new geographies and cultures. Given the personal challenges of picking up and moving halfway around the world, such programs may need to draw on new technologies and models that allow more flexibility in cross-cultural collaboration.

So what can managers do to contribute their part?

  1. Focus recruiting efforts to bring diverse, multicultural candidates into the company. This might include adjusting employer branding messages, diversifying recruiting talent sources, or even adjusting selection criteria to reward multicultural experience and leadership capability. It may also entail hiring experts such as cultural anthropologists who can support a more targeted exploration of a specific culture.
  2. Make multicultural experiences an explicit part of career path conversations and performance reviews so that young managers can begin to treat view multicultural skill development more seriously.
  3. Build multicultural elements into management training programs, either by adjusting existing curricula or developing new materials. Launch structured mobility programs that bring rising managers to different cultures and geographies on both short-term projects and medium-term rotations. This will ensure that multicultural leadership development is embedded throughout an organization’s talent management processes.
  4. Integrate multicultural insights into business decisions and strategy. After all, the above interventions mean little if managers do not actively harness the insights that only multicultural leaders can bring to the table.

In an increasingly global age, the capacity of organizations to build multicultural and transnational leaders will be a critical competitive advantage. Is your organization prepared?

Jevan Soo


Jevan Soo is a management and human capital consultant in Boston. He formerly managed McKinsey & Company’s Asia-Pacific recruiting across twelve countries. Follow him on Twitter @jevansoo.