Monday, January 28, 2013

Six Ways to Build Successful Teams

By Virgil Carter

Building successful, lasting teams is anything but easy. It takes committed leadership to build great teams. Team building requires “a keen understanding of people, their strengths and what gets them excited to work with others”, according to a recent Forbes article. Team building is an art and a science and “the leader who can consistently build high performance teams is worth their weight in gold, say the article’s authors. Here’s six ways successful teams are built to last:

1. Be aware of how you work: As the leader of a team, you must be extremely aware of your leadership style and techniques. Hold yourself accountable, make course-corrections when needed and modify your approach if necessary to assure that you’re leading from a position of strength and respectability.

2. Get to know the rest of the team: Take the time to get to know your team and encourage camaraderie. Understand how your individual team members think, and what is required to motivate them to work together and excel beyond what is normally expected.

3. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities: Each team member’s responsibilities must be interconnected and dependent upon one another. It takes talent and experience to evaluate people not only on their ability to play a particular role—but even more so on whether they fit the workplace culture and will be a team player.

4. Be proactive with feedback: Feedback is the key to assuring any team will stay on track and improving daily. Lead with proactive feedback as the greatest enabler for team continuous improvement.

5. Acknowledge and reward: Be sure to give teammates the proper acknowledgement, respect and reward. This helps the team’s work to bring them greater satisfaction and makes the work more purposeful.

6. Always celebrate success: Take the time to step-back, reflect and celebrate successful accomplishments, as well as what has been learned during the journey.
Leaders are only as successful as their teams.

Great leaders know that with the right team dynamics, decisions and diverse personalities, everyone wins in the end.

For the full article, go to:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Read A Good Book Lately?

By Virgil Carter

Have you read a good book lately? This is the time of year when many folks look for a good book, or two, for reading and relaxing as time permits. If this is your situation, take heart! Strategy + Business just released their “best business books 2012” list, and I’ll summarize it here:

For biographies:
Eisenhower in War and Peace, Jean Edward Smith, Random House
Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson, Simon & Schuster
Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man, Mark Kurlansky, Doubleday

For business strategy:
The New Emerging Market Multinationals: Four Strategies for Disrupting Markets and Building Brands, Amitava Chattopadhyay and Rajeev Batra, with Aysegul Ozsomer, McGraw-Hill

Pragmatic Strategy: Eastern Wisdom, Global Success, Ikujiro Nonaka and Zhichang Zhu, Cambridge University Press

Competitive Strategy: Options and Games, Benoit Chevalier-Roignant and Lenos Trigeorgis, MIT Press

For marketing:
Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies, Jim Stengel, Crown Business

Brand Real: How Smart Companies Live Their Brand Promise and Inspire Fierce Customer Loyalty, Laurence Vincent, Amacom

The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge, Doc Searls, Harvard Business Review Press

On innovation:
The Wide Lens: A New Strategy for Innovation, Ron Adner, Portfolio/Penguin
Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywhere, Thomas M. Koulopoulos, BibliomVijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble, Harvard Business Review Press
Cloud Surfing: A New Way to Think about Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success, Thomas M. Koulopoulos, Bibliomotion

On organizational culture:
Productive Workplaces: dignity, Meaning, and Community in the 21st Century: 25th Anniversary Edition, Marvin R. Weisbord, Jossey-Bass
Kill the Company: end the Status Quo, Start and Innovation Revolution, Lisa Bodell, Bibliomotion
Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations, Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind, Harvard Business Review Press

These should satisfy that desire for reading! For the full article in Strategy+Business, go here:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Leadership and the Art of Plate Spinning

By Virgil Carter

The title of this article is drawn from a recent article of the same name by Colin Price, published in a recent edition of the McKinsey Quarterly. The article focuses on the difficulty for senior executives to align their organization’s best opportunities and their best people to work on those opportunities. Why is this so difficult?

According to the author, the difficulty is actually “a number of paradoxes, many of them rooted in the eccentricity and unpredictability of human behavior, about how organizations really tick”. This is because, in the words of the author, “Appealing as it is to believe that the workplace is economically rational, in reality it is not”.
Price goes on, saying, “Our research shows that the most successful organizations, over the long term, consistently focus on “enabling” things (leadership, purpose, employee motivation) whose immediate benefits aren’t always clear. These healthy organizations, as we call them, are internally aligned around a clear vision and strategy; can execute to a high quality thanks to strong capabilities, management processes, and employee motivation; and renew them more effectively than their rivals do. In short, health today drives performance tomorrow”.

In his article, Price focuses on three other paradoxes that, “in my experience, are both particularly striking and quite difficult to reconcile. The first is that change comes about more easily and more quickly in organizations that keep some things stable. The second is that organizations are more likely to succeed if they simultaneously control and empower their employees. And the third is that business cultures that rightly encourage consistency (say, in the quality of services and products) must also allow for the sort of variability—and even failure—that goes with innovation and experimentation”.

Coming to grips with these paradoxes will be invaluable for executives trying to keep their people and priorities in balance at a time when cultural and leadership change sometimes seems an existential imperative. Just as a circus performer deftly spins plates or bowls to keep them moving and upright, so must senior executives constantly intervene to encourage the sorts of behavior that align an organization with its top priorities.

Price concludes his discussion thusly, “Embracing the paradoxes described in this article can be uncomfortable: it’s counterintuitive to stimulate change by grounding it in sources of reassuring stability or to focus on boundaries and control when a company wants to stir up new ideas. Yet the act of trying to reconcile these tensions helps leaders keep their eyes on all their spinning plates and identify when interventions are needed to keep the organization lined up with its top priorities”.
For the full article, go to:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Brilliant Business Quotes

By Virgil Carter

As we look to a new business year and the many challenges ahead, it may be good to listen to the experienced business advice of the world’s richest investor, Warren Buffet. As reported in the Herald Sun, here are some of Mr. Buffet’s most common quotes and some lessons to be learned from them.

1. “Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.”: While even Buffet has lost money on his investments, over the long term he has benefited by being conservative with his investment and avoiding fads.

2. “It is better to hang out with people better than you…you’ll drift in that direction”: Never be afraid to ask successful people what they did and how they did it!

3. “I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over”: Too often investors (and leaders) go for a single big win rather than do the many small things that are already available such as having a strategy, reviewing regularly and diversifying.

4. “I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years”: The quote is about one’s mindset and decision-making, with the ability to think long term.

5. “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago”: A favorite Buffet quote illustrates why taking a long-term view is important. Many of today’s luxuries are because someone else had a long-term vision and was prepared to invest for the future.

6. “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get”: The price of an investment can mask its true value because of factors such as emotion, market booms or busts, and even tax consequences.

7. “We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy when others are fearful”: Perhaps Buffet’s most famous quote, which is at the heart of his belief in avoiding the herd mentality.

8. “The investor of today does not profit from yesterday’s growth”: Many investors like to jump on an investment that’s already doing well—that’s why we have booms and busts—but they really should look to the future.

9. “Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down”: Waiting for the right time to buy can be an opportunity within itself.

10. “If a business does well, the stock eventually follows”: The key for sharemarket investing is to find good-quality businesses that will grow over time.

For the full article, go to: