You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2008.

What does your organization do when it wants to hire or promote the best person for a specific job or leadership position? The traditional answer is to test people for their IQ, technical skills to do the job, their personality or just by looking at their CV.

The late David McClelland, an American psychological theorist, identified a better way. He proposed that an organization should first study employees who are already top performers in that role, and systematically compare them with those who are just average performers.

What McClelland found was that a set of distinguishing competencies emerged: competencies that the top performers exhibited and the average performers did not.

Once you have identified those distinguished competencies, you can use those as a basis to hire or promote people who have the basic competencies to do the job plus the distinguishing competencies or help your people develop those strengths.

Using this methodology will help you develop a competency model that you can use to identify, train, and promote the next generation of top performers in your organization.


Not strictly true, but slightly true. Check out this link to see what I’m on about. It is a new technology that allows multi-camera streaming so you can cut between 5 clips yourself. The top big window is for the main image. The bottom 5 mini thumbnails are your camera options.

So that is interesting from an IT angle. But it could also be an interesting training opportunity. What kind of training and learning could be told this way? What options does it open up? What interactive learning techniques could be applied?

For instance a coaching piece where one camera is one a sales advisor, one on a customer, one on 2-shot of both and one on the paperwork or product. You explore the scene yourself, just as you would in a real-life coaching session.

Leadership and life guru Clay Lowe has just sent me an incredible email which challenges leadership (or lack thereof), within the business world.  So as the business week comes to an end I’ll leave you with Clay’s thoughts for the weekend.

“Treat people right.  Show them that you care.  And they will do anything for you.”    

In the army, I have had the privilege of working for some great inspirational leaders; leaders whom I had no qualms about following into combat, not just because it was my job, but because I trusted and respected these officers and believed in their ability to keep a clear head and make sound judgements and decisions that would get us home safely once the smoke had cleared from the battlefield. 

I have looked for this calibre of leader in the companies I have worked for since I left the army.  I have had the privilege of working for some great managers, but sadly I have not found many leaders in the corporate world.  In the 11 years I have been working in the civilian sector, I can think of only two individuals that I have worked for who were great leaders; leaders whom I would do anything for, not because they were paying me, but because I trusted and respected them and believed in their ability to lead and would have happily worked for them for free.

Why are there so few exceptional leaders in the corporate world?  I think it is because there is a lack of effective leadership development.  Yes there are leadership workshops out there and managers get sent on these workshops for a day or two and then they go right back to managing and not leading.  My theory is that it is easier to measure management, and managers don’t have to engage with people at the same emotional depth, as a true leader is required to do.   

The U.S. Army spends 4 years training its future leaders before they ever step in front of troops to lead them.  How does that compare to a 2-day workshop on leadership that is so common among leadership training in industry?  Some might say that military leadership is different.  I would argue that difference is only in degree, not in kind.  The fundamentals of leadership are the same.  How a leader applies those fundamental is the same regardless of industry or sector, or whether it is military, political, religious, or commercial leadership.

Major General John Hendrix flew down to Fort Bening, Georgia to speak to new group of new captains.  I was among them.  He gave us a big pep talk on how important the role we were about to assume was to the army and to the nation.  He reminded us that America was entrusting the lives of its sons and daughters to us as future company commanders.  And God forbid if we should fail them or betray that trust.  He ended his speech by saying:  “Treat soldiers with dignity and respect and show them that you care, and they will do anything for you.”

I wrote these words of his in my journal and have carried them around in my heart ever since and every time I find myself leading a group of people in whatever capacity, I unfold these words and reflect on them. 

My first day on the job at General Electric, an old-timer pulled me aside and said:  “General Electric might sign these peoples’ pay-check, but they work for you.  Treat them right and they will do anything for you.”

The common theme these two leaders shared was not lost on me.  

Treat people right.  Show them that you care.  And they will do anything for you.

Just a quick note to remind you it’s Social Enterprise Day here in the UK.

For the uninitiated a social enterprise is a business with purely social or environmental objectives with profits being ploughed back into communities.  A great thing for local economies I’m sure you’ll agree.

I’ve spoken on here regularly about my early rising antics and about how well it works to put me in the right state of mind for work.  This morning I rose 15 minutes earlier than usual with the hope of achieving even more.

This mornings objective was to go for a run.  It was only the second time in my life I’ve been out on the streets for a jog, the last time I think I was in my early twenties and my camera lecturer at film school told me I needed to get into better shape to operate a TV camera… obviously it didn’t last long but that is probably down to lack of knowledge about how to jog.  On that occasion I ran solidly for 30 minutes and returned home an absolute wreck.

This time its different and with a bit more guidance and I made it through a 30 minute programme without feeling too bad at the end. If fact after I recovered I felt incredibly refreshed and ready for the day, and I feel I made even better use of my morning time.

The most difficult thing is dragging myself out of bed to go out running, but put simply it’s only another 15 minutes at the front end of my day and if it make me feel better and work better it can only be a good thing.

Tomorrow is a day off and then back out on the streets again on Saturday.  Will I be so keen then I wonder?

According to a new study, spam emails get 1 response in 12,500,000 emails.  That’s less than 0.00001%! Amazingly though, even with such a poor response a large spam organisation such as the Storm Network will make around £4500 profit a day.

Compare this to the general sales market who will on average get one sale in one hundred people and the stats look even more outlandish.

So is spamming the answer to all our sales problems?  Nope.  For everyday businesses there are worldwide laws that prohibit us from spamming without prior consent from the recipient.  Even the junk mail that falls through your door has been loosely authorised by your good self and a helpful 3rd party (remember that tick box at the bottom of that magazine subscription form which said something along the lines of “I authorise you or a 3rd party to fill my mailbox with guff”?). It is a fine line between what is legal and what is illegal but a common way to spam is to use indirect linking which takes you to a webpage with a banner ad for the product on it and not directly to the manufacturers site.

So how do we get people to sign up for our marketing campaigns? In whatever campaigns your run you need to create a hook which will mean people will give you their contact details.  There are many examples of this and you just need to pick the right one for your business, from running a competition to giving something away for free.  The bottom line is when you’ve been granted access to contact someone, then it is a free license to bombard them until they say stop.

I’m not condoning spamming in any way, I’m just pointing out that it exists and has existed in more ways than you probably realise.  In fact you might have even done it yourself without even knowing it.

In a world where work is king it’s easy to forget the little things we must do to pay respect to the people that enabled us to be here and live the life we live.

So on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11 month don’t forget to remember.

Remembrance Day

If the answer to this is yes then head on over to L.J. Rich’s blog to get some top tips on how to present yourself on camera.

L.J. is a regular presenter on QVC and also a gadget freak.  She’s also a sales expert and features in the Selling Module on The Platform.

Being in front of the camera is tough, trust me I know I was there myself only last week.  Like everything else preparation is key, make sure you know exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it.

From the production side my own top tip is to remember one simple thing – the film crew are there to make you look good.  Let them do their job, do exactly as they say (sometimes this can be frustrating as you can end up saying something 3 or 4 times), and you will end up with a decent show.

I overslept this morning.  I Hate it when that happens.  Oversleeping for me though doesn’t usually mean waking up at 8:58am and rushing off to working without cleaning my teeth, when that rare treat happens it really freaks me out.  In my terminology oversleeping means only having 30 minutes or so thinking/personal time.

I get up every day at 6:45am.  This gives me 1.5 hours to do whatever the heck I want – eat breakfast, watch the news, relax, do some research, prepare for the day etc.

This thinking time is invaluable for me, it really gives me a chance to reflect on the day ahead.  Also I find it gives me time to fully awaken.  How many people just roll into work half asleep?  If I miss out on this time I find it has a dramatic impact on my productivity for the rest of the day.

The knock on effect happens at the other end of the day though and I often find myself getting tired around 9:30pm and then becoming more active again at 10:30, something I’ve talked about before here.

Trouble is as I get older I’m finding it more difficult as my normal time for going to bed is around midnight.

I read something the other day though which challenged these preconceptions.  Steve Pavlina is a successful blogger who specializes in self development techniques.  The difference with Steve is that he doesn’t recommend stuff unless he has thoroughly tested it himself.

Some of Steve’s favourite experiments are around sleep.  He’s tried all kinds of things, including the controversial polyphasic sleep where you sleep regularly for only 20 minutes.

In this particular post Steve recommends going to bed when you are tired but always setting an alarm and getting up at the same time every day.  This means some days you will get more sleep and some days less but hopefully it should be self regulating.  This technique does rely on self motivation though, which means when the alarm goes off you get up straight away.  Don’t hit the snooze button!

I tried this technique last Friday night as I knew I had a busy day on Saturday with a lot to fit in.  My body said I was tired at 9:30pm, so begrudgingly I went straight to bed.  Part of me was thinking I would be missing out on doing some great things by going to bed at this stupidly early time but to counter this I set an alarm for 6am to give me more time before the day really started.

The experiment was a success.  I woke up when my alarm rang, leapt straight out of bed and felt immediately refreshed.  I then did all those things I felt I was missing out on the night before, but with a fresher perspective.  Then I had an incredibly productive day, fitting in much more than I expected.

Obviously a one day trial does not equal a successful experiment but I’m going to continue with a full trial starting tonight.  More as it happens.

Veteran blogger, successful leader, Marton House friend and all round good egg Clayton Lowe kindly sent us this article he found in the Times at the weekend.

Clicking on it will bring up a full size version but if you are still feeling a little blind you can read the full article on Times Online.

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