Management Methods of the Mob: The Tony Soprano Way

The (fictional) New Jersey crime family can teach us a “cannoli” or two about good management and leadership. While reputed mob boss of northern New Jersey and born leader Tony Soprano never went to B-school or even read a single book about management, he knows how to lead and build a loyal, cohesive team.

He runs his “organization” in a rather treacherous and nefarious business setting, comparable to the fast and uncertain environment we do business in.

In fact, today’s business environment is so ruthless and fast paced; it requires leaders to make decisions at lightning speed. Just like Tony Soprano, who identifies a problem, provides a solution and acts upon it in the time it takes you to gulp down a shot of espresso.

Indecision in Tony’s world: “Fuggedaboutit!”

Another take away from the popular television series character, is the time he takes to reflect upon himself. Despite the fact that seeing a shrink is considered taboo in his world, Tony will be the first to admit that knowing yourself is very important for any leader’s personal growth and effectiveness.

In the more conventional world of business, an executive coach can be, not a Dr. Melfi-type therapist, but a mentor who has the ability to coach the leader from an objective third-party angle. Executive coaches use tools like psychometric testing to help leaders see themselves as others see them.

Executive coaches ask the crucial questions, and help leaders develop personal mastery –a prerequisite quality for any successful commander-in-chief.

While Tony is authoritative and uses force to get things done (this does not quite fit the corporate world), he still seems to have it more than half-way right when it comes to managing his team.

So as the big guy would best put it, “learn anything?”

Will the Middle Manager Become Extinct?

The Middle Manager

Is my job becoming extinct?

Technology is challenging the very job description of the middle manager. This is because what middle managers do can essentially and quite effectively be done through low-cost technology.

Technology has made it possible, among other things, to virtually manage teams scattered across the globe. In fact, it has changed the way people work.

According to a column in this month’s Harvard Business Review, titled,” the End of the Middle Manager,” columnist Lynda Gratton writes, “Now technology itself has become the great general manager.”

From the article, one thing seems pretty clear: it’s only a matter of time before the middle manager disappears from the scene.

However, this is far from the truth.

I don’t see the middle manager becoming extinct just yet. What this does mean though is that middle managers who will move their focus toward developing a coaching style and environment for their teams are the ones who will survive the test of time (and technology).

Gratton also writes about changing attitudes and how Gen Y does not believe in reporting to someone who is just monitoring their progress or simply managing them. What they are looking for is a mentor or coach.

So while middle managers will not disappear, (as the column purports), their role will go through some major changes.

The recent explosion of executive coaching is evidence enough that the future will belong to those who bring in an executive coach to take their organizations and professional careers to the next step.

If you would like to develop the role of your middle managers, executive coaching is all you need. Click here to find an executive coach in your area now.

Steve Jobs: The Guy Behind the Customer Relations Desk?

You have a nagging problem with your new iPhone. You reach out to Apple’s customer relations department only to find out that you can get a response from the company’s CEO. Is this a PR gimmick you think to yourself … Is this man who is telling me to call AT&T to solve my network problems really Steve Jobs?

Yes, the CEO in the black turtleneck is behind the customer service desk… and there is a whole website devoted to this called Emails from Steve Jobs.

Technically known as crowd sourcing, Apple is using this strategy to get customer feedback. Other corporations are doing this through social media avenues, particularly through Twitter.Apple, however, is a different species and is doing it by getting its iconic CEO on the frontlines, so he can respond directly to customer issues and complaints.

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, this strategy allows Apple to gather high quality, grassroots information in an otherwise noisy marketplace.

This is the “difference” of Apple – a company that has always stayed away from conventional thinking.

In fact, unlike its more conventional counterparts, Apple is not about creating a product with a gazillion features. Instead, it is about focusing (with razor sharp intensity) on the needs and desires of the customers to create an experience they are looking for.

No wonder then that Apple became the second-largest company in the world by market value (behind ExxonMobil).

And if there is a lesson you could take away from the company, it is this: look to your customers for inspiration to devise a market strategy. The secret to getting a lion’s share lies in the hands of your customers, not your competitors.  

What are you doing to make sure your products and services are tailor made for your customers?

Bogged down by too many issues to focus on that?

Executive coaching can help you to get you focused on the real issues and sharpen your leadership -so you can concentrate on thinking outside the box. Just like Steve Jobs. After all, the man himself deeply values his own coach Bill Campbell.

So find an executive coach in your area now!

Gift your Dad a Polar Bear this Holiday

WWF on Facebook

WWF on Facebook

With yet another poor giving season upon the world of charities, many charities are now thinking “outside the box” to come up with creative fundraising ideas. One example is The World Wildlife Fund, which has stepped into social media avenues with the aim of spinning a “web” of support.

And the charity is doing so by allowing people on Facebook to “adopt” a polar bear, a tiger, or other animal in honor of a friend, relative, or colleague.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. This adage seems to apply to how charities are dealing with the current downturn.

However these organizations lack the monetary muscle required to wrestle bad economic times.

This is what makes Coaching for a Cause, a pro bono coaching campaign by the world’s leading business and executive coaching firm in the world, truly powerful. Through this campaign, ActionCOACH is strengthening and “toughening” this sector by providing the much-needed business and executive coaching services on a pro bono basis to charities all over the world, so they can use the proven methodologies used by top business and executive coaches in the for-profit world in order to boost their own fundraising and management efforts.

As a result of the first Coaching for a Cause campaign (2009-2010),  charities and non-profits all over the world raised a staggering $3.4M in funds and donations over a six month period. With executive coaching, their leaders are now better equipped to lead and manage their teams. The second campaign, which started in October 2010, is currently helping the participating organizations weather the economic storm.

So what are you doing to stay afloat amidst this economic storm? Please share your stories and ideas here.

Wikileaks: It Could Happen to You

The recent massive disclosure of classified US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks is an event of historic proportions.

One obvious revelation that has come out of this episode is that companies (and even individuals) are not immune to the consequences arising from such a disclosure.

Yes, the Wikileaks crisis could well be coming your way.

This simply means that companies need to increasingly match what they do with what they say. What happened with the Government is of seismic significance and lessons should be learned along the way.

But, with all the other things busy executives are bogged down with, it’s easy to slip. This is where a confidant, a mentor, an executive coach becomes a powerful resource –bringing about balance in an executive’s life so he can see a situation before it becomes a crisis.

So, what are you doing to protect your organization from such a crisis situation?

Have you looked into an executive coaching program for your top players?

Protect Your Most Valuable Company Asset with Executive Coaching

As the recession somewhat ebbs, companies are increasingly facing the danger of losing their top performers, usually the top 10% who have endured declining profits, layoffs, decreased customer satisfaction and dwindling bonuses among other corporate catastrophes.

Needless to say, your biggest company asset is under grave threat. Headhunters are hunting them down; competitors luring them in.  Yes, they are the endangered species and you should be concerned –after all they have stood the test of time and have continued to brave the economic storm that swallowed most of their colleagues.

So what can you really do to create a sort of firewall to protect your most prized company asset –your top performers?

Are you providing these star performers with any tools to aid their personal and professional growth? If not, now is a time to start thinking about this.

Don’t make the mistake of taking them for granted –enroll the services of a competent executive coach to provide that extra value and nurture your best. Your investment in executive coaching will probably be the best, most valued dollars for both your employee and you.

Executive Coaching for Your Best and Brightest

According to Investors Business Daily, “Across corporate America, executive coaching sessions at many companies have become as routine for executives as budget forecasts and quota meetings.”

This is because executive coaching always delivers results.

And the results tell us that it is a common practice for corporations to identify their finest and employ the tools supplied by executive coaching to transform them and develop them into even more effective leaders.

Executive coaches cheer you from the sidelines by helping you leverage your strengths, with a focus on first identifying and assessing your strengths and then helping you make certain specific behavioral changes, which will help you become more effective.

The fact that these changes are both sustainable and measurable, prompt corporations to use executive coaching to hone the top talent force of their organizations. 

So what are you doing to develop your brightest minds?

NBA Lessons in Leadership and How they Apply to Executive Coaching

Lessons in leadership and executive coaching - Derek Fisher

Lessons in leadership and executive coaching - Derek Fisher

Executive coaching can have a big impact on you and your team. Part of what makes executive coaching so powerful is the use of behavioral coaching in getting the best performance from your team. Let’s take a closer look at Tuesday night’s Game Three of the NBA Finals to see how executive coaching can lead to success in your own organization.

The Lakers have, arguably, the best coach in the history of team sports. Phil Jackson is a master at knowing how to motivate his players and put them in a position to succeed.

How many other coaches could actually have a team in the Finals with as divergent personalities as Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Adam Morrison and, of course, Kobe Bryant.

Jackson has been able to keep these personalities on the right track throughout the season despite numerous distractions. Jackson does have one major asset that most coaches don’t when leading a team. He has Derek Fisher. Thanks to Jackson’s leadership coaching, and Fisher’s desire to be the best he can, they have formed a rather potent combination that has helped the Lakers win four titles in their time together.

On Tuesday, workman-like veteran Derek Fisher was the star. He made a number of big baskets in the final minutes to lead the Lakers over the Celtics, building a 2-1 lead in the seven game series in the process.

Fisher has always been a solid, if unspectacular performer. Where Fisher shines is in his leadership and consistency on the court, traits he has no doubt learned through Jackson’s coaching abilities. His teammates look up to him and he seldom, if ever, plays a poor floor game, even if his shots aren’t falling.

Following the game, while being interviewed, Fisher was clearly emotional. His eyes red and his voice cracking, he explained that he loved the game, works very hard and cares about his teammates. He is not afraid of being himself with his team, another important lesson, which easily translates to executive coaching.

Derek Fisher is able to concentrate on basketball and the calming leadership he brings to the Lakers every night. Thanks to the coaching of Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher is always inspiring his team to success on the agenda.

With the power of executive coaching, now you too can impact your team members to become champions and lead your organization to dizzying heights of success.

So team up with your own Phil Jackson today and see for yourself how executive coaching can alter the face of your organization for the better. After all, executive coaching focuses on results –results that reflect productivity, performance and of course, the bottom line.

The Business of Coaching

The Business of Coaching. That’s the name of the first coachumentary ever produced. ActionCOACH, the world’s leading business and executive coaching firm, produced a documentary on the value as well as the results produced through the coaching process. Get a taste of what business and executive coaching is all about. 

Click here for the video.

Why Smart Employees Underperform? An Executive Coach Can Help Unveil this Mystery

Underperforming Employees and Executive Coaching

Underperforming Employees and Executive Coaching

After a long, arduous search for a team member, you finally find one outstanding candidate with a killer resume, who also performs impressively during the interview. “A gem,” you tell yourself. And then you hire him –only to question your decision three months down the road.

You were right –he looked impressive on paper and gave a killer presentation. What then went wrong? You find there is a disconnect and the new hire’s style and behavior is not aligned to the values and culture of your organization.

There are many things that contribute to this. But before looking at the reasons, think about the damage and expense caused by one bad decision?

This is why organizations are increasingly enlisting the services of competent executive coaches and enrolling into executive coaching programs. Their executive coaches guide them, using the appropriate profiling tools, toward better hiring decisions.

  1. Lack of competence
    Every employee needs the necessary skills, tools and experience to perform his/ her job. A fancy resume does not indicate the employee possesses the skills, tools or experience to perform his/ her job well.

    An executive coach can help you apply the right profiling tools and guide you through the process so you get the best candidate for the job –and look beyond the résumé and personality to do that.

  2. Poor job match
    Does the new hire have the behaviors and interests to succeed in his/her role? If not, this is a serious concern. Again, you need to work with an executive coach to determine this through quality assessments.

    This is not something that cannot be easily determined through an interview process –so executive coaching (using the right tools) plays a crucial role.

  3. Unclear goals
    Goals not communicated clearly can cause much confusion.  Daily distractions and new directions (which are inevitable) can somewhat come in the way of an employee’s productivity.

    Executive Coaches help their clients set SMART goals for their teams. These goals are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-oriented.

  4. Poor relationship with manager or co-workers
    A poor relationship with one’s manager can stifle performance. Many times, employees are not clear on their boss’ expectations of them.

    Furthermore, managers often fail to match their management approach to suit a specific employee’s style. Executive Coaching plays a key role in such situations.

    An executive coach, being an outsider, is able to objectively look at situations, diagnose them and help propose a plan to make things work. The same goes for co-workers –at times a new hire comes across as a mismatch mostly because he/she is either incompatible with the team, insensitive or is a cultural misfit within the organization –so he/she sticks out like a sore thumb.

  5. Personal wellness issues as well as other environmental factors
    Are you providing health and wellness education to your team members? More importantly, is the physical environment at work conducive to high productivity? There are many issues to address here as employees cannot perform at peak levels if the worksite is not ideal.

    Again, executive coaching will help you address these and several other questions so output and productivity are enhanced. An executive coach offers an outside perspective, which is invaluable. No wonder, a growing number of organizations are using executive coaching to help boost productivity.

Now that you know why smart employees underperform and the importance of making the right hiring decisions, what will you do to ensure you get the right people on the bus –every time?

Executive Coaching is a proven, best choice for many organizations, which have been able to prevent the horrors of making the wrong hiring choices.