Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of facilitating a discussion for a webinar for alumni of Georgetown University titled, “Conversations are the Work of a Leader.”

In spite of my limitations as a presenter, there was a lot of appreciative feedback about the messages conveyed: that as senior managers and leaders we need to be connected with our people, and not just through e-mail, newsletters and town hall meetings. We need to get out of our offices, off our executive floors and speak with the people who are doing the work of our companies.

There were poignant comments and questions during and after the webinar, such as, “I wish my boss was listening. He doesn’t get it,” and, “How do we get this message to our senior managers? They spend most of their time talking to each other, not to us.”

There were many similar comments and questions. Clearly this subject sparked interest; people feel strongly that conversations are vitally important. (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How well do you take to being “just a team member” and working alongside your team?

  • Very well — I easily transition into the role of team member: 58.76%
  • Well — sometimes I transition easily but other times I’m challenged: 34.4%
  • Not well — I have difficulty changing my mindset and being a team member: 5.77%
  • Poorly — I actively resist situations where I have to work alongside my team: 1.07%

Welcome to the team. It’s easy to forget what it’s like to be a team member when you spend most of your days leading that team. If you have difficulty stepping into a team role and letting someone else lead, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. (read more…)

Madeline is sitting in her boss’s office, patiently waiting for his full attention so she can preview a client presentation she has to deliver tomorrow. Meanwhile Rob, her boss, is sending a text on his smart phone. Before he’s finished with that, the computer pings, signaling an incoming e-mail that Rob says he must answer immediately. He interrupts that process to grab a ringing phone and finally waves Madeline away, mouthing “I’ll catch you later,” as she backs out the door.

Rob is a busy guy. He’s hustling all day long. And Madeline knows if he doesn’t review her presentation before she delivers it to the client, he’s very likely to snap her head off. Rob has the “Rush Syndrome.” Unfortunately, he’s spreading this infection throughout his entire team.

Does any of this sound familiar? There have probably been times when you could identify with both Madeline and Rob. If you detect some symptoms of “Rush Syndrome” in yourself, how can you stop the infection? (read more…)

After spending umpteen hours and dollars on attractive booths and flashy giveaways, many IT vendors are abandoning trade shows or questioning their value. While these events can do wonders for brand awareness and lead generation, they also can consume large amounts of time and money with little return.

The problem isn’t the events themselves; it’s how some exhibitors approach them.

The “Field of Dreams” approach — “If you build it, they will come” — doesn’t cut it for trade shows. Merely having a display and handouts will bring people, but not necessarily your best prospects, or even attendees with any interest in your products or services. They may only want to pick up your swag and enter a drawing.

A strategic approach with steps before, during and after the event can help you get the most out of your investment. You’ll land more face-to-face meetings with targeted prospects and shorten sales cycles. (read more…)

My first leadership post was the most unusual and most unexpected management position that I ever held. When I was a high school senior, a friend of mine whose father ran a kosher-certification agency asked me if I could provide supervision in a kosher restaurant on Saturday nights.

I didn’t live too far from the place and wanted to earn some extra cash, so I agreed. The position, I was told, included oversight in the kitchen, and, because I did not have to be in the kitchen for more than a few moments at a time (as all of the ingredients were kosher), manning the cash register.

My first night on the job was going pretty smoothly. It took me a short while to learn the inner workings of the establishment’s kitchen and how to operate the register. Not bad, I thought, for $10 an hour. But then, one of the waiters told me that I had a phone call. (read more…)