Corporate Culture Articles


10 ways to show your strength
Looking to demonstrate your strength as a leader? Seth Godin has 10 suggestions, and some of them may be counter-intuitive. Share credit, offer kindness and "[v]olunteer to take the short straw," he writes. "Risking the appearance of weakness takes strength." Seth Godin's Blog

When success makes you sad
After two years and $2 million, Bruce Buschel writes, he finally opened his restaurant, but rather than excitement, he experienced emotions such as "emptiness, desolation, uselessness, anxiety, [and] gloom." The problem: With the restaurant up and running, Buschel feels replaceable. "From here on out, I am on the maintenance crew," he writes, echoing the sort of postpartum depression many entrepreneurs experience when the idea stage ends and the operations stage begins.'re the Boss blog

Make your own breaks
If you're one of the many entrepreneurs who watched the summer fly by with no time for a vacation, Chris Prickett has some tips for making time for a much-needed break. Even if you can't commit to two weeks off, you can sneak out a little early one afternoon, schedule some monthly pampering or take advantage of three-day weekends.
Compartmentalize your calendar for added efficiency
Entrepreneurs typically have many balls in the air at any given time, and dropping any one of them can lead to disaster. By compartmentalizing multiple tasks into separate days and times, you can reduce distractions, avoid shifting gears and get more done, writes Amber Singleton Riviere. She offers tips for effective compartmentalization, including the planners and calendars she uses to keep projects on track. Web Worker Daily

Find focus wherever you are
Working from anywhere is great, but productivity can suffer when you're distracted by children, co-workers -- or baristas. Sarah Kessler rounds up 37 suggestions for keeping your focus, including wearing headphones and avoiding e-mail for the first 45 minutes of your day. And when your self-discipline lags, there's even a program to temporarily block your Internet access. Mashable

Why fear and failure can be good
Leaders should confront their fears and failures and learn from them, writes Mike Myatt. "Fear in and of itself is not a bad thing, rather it is how a person chooses to cope with fear that will determine its effect on their life," he writes, noting that most leaders struggle with a fear of failure. He encourages leaders to focus on success rather than failure and to embrace and confront their fears.

Imitation is the costliest form of flattery
Everyone knows that the Snuggie is a blanket with arms -- but few may realize that at least two other manufacturers were making a similar product before Snuggie came along. Lawyers say it's important to protect your ideas with a patent, and applications can cost as little as $500. Even with protection, however, entrepreneurs should constantly innovate to keep ahead of imitators, experts warn. USA TODAY

3 ways to spot when someone is lying
There are verbal and nonverbal cues that someone is not telling the truth, says Pamela Meyer, author of "Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception." For example, someone may be lying if they provide too many inappropriate details, "as if to prove to you they are telling the truth," she says. Another sign: "They will look you in the eye too much, as if to appear honest, when in fact most people telling the truth only look you in the eye a comfortable 60% of the time." SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Workforce

Why e-mail is no place for arguments
E-mail is a great invention for simple communication, "but it's not personal and it doesn't work for personal arguments," Tim Berry warns. Lacking any human inflection, e-mail can only make an argument worse. Instead, work out differences the old-fashioned way: "Talk about it. Walk across the hall or get on the phone. You'll be glad you did." Planning Startups Stories blog

Branson: Empires start with enjoyment
Richard Branson writes that he wasn't looking to create an empire when he launched Virgin Group in a London basement. "I set out to create something I enjoyed that would pay the bills," he writes, suggesting that other entrepreneurs do the same. Among his other tips: Shake up the sector you're working in and create something employees can be proud of.

Not a natural-born negotiator? No problem
Honing your skills as a negotiator can be an important career-development tool. To improve in the hot seat, make sure you're not in an emotional state when you start to talk to the other party. Determining what both sides have in common also helps, along with being a good, active listener. The Customer Collective

Beware of too much self-confidence
Self-confidence is a virtual requirement for entrepreneurial success, but "overdosing on confidence" can ruin a business, John Baldoni writes. Do you always have lunch with the same people? Rarely speak to a customer? Make most decisions without consulting others? Those are among the warning signs that your confidence may be verging into hubris, according to Baldoni. Harvard Business Review online/The Conversation blog

10 common startup screw-ups
Are you a "solopreneur" simply because there's no margin in your pricing to allow for new hires? If so, you're making the No. 1 mistake of new entrepreneurs, Rosalind Resnick writes. Among the other errors on her list: emphasizing product development over sales and overpaying to acquire new customers. The Wall Street Journal

An entrepreneur's 10 success tips
Chicago entrepreneur Jay Goltz writes that he was recently asked by a young admirer -- or an admirer of his car, at least -- "How can I be successful like you?" The question has haunted him, Goltz writes, prompting him to offer 10 success tips for entrepreneurs. Leading the list: Find an area where you can be better than everyone else, accept risk and act responsibly.'re the Boss blog

7 steps to better self-discipline
Entrepreneurs who work independently can sometimes find it hard to maintain the discipline necessary to build a business. Georgina Laidlaw has seven tips for channeling your inner drill sergeant, including starting with a plan, building in rewards and making public promises about delivery deadlines. Web Worker Daily

Power is not the point of leadership
As Tony Hayward makes his exit from BP, Bill Taylor wonders: Why is it so hard to find role models in the business world? The problem, he writes, is that greatness too often is measured by power instead of values, ideas and humanity. The best leaders "don't just outcompete their rivals, but redefine the sense of what's possible -- what really matters -- in their fields." Harvard Business Review online/Bill Taylor blog

Confidence that develops from having resolved challenges.

5 steps to digging out of a productivity rut
If you feel yourself getting out of sync with your work, you can move yourself back into a more productive state by recognizing signs that you're getting off task -- such as feeling uneasy or nervous, say Rosemary Tator and Alesia Latson, authors of "More Time for You: A Powerful System to Organize Your Work and Get Things Done." Once you see the signs, you can take steps to refocus through breathing exercises, choosing a different task or setting a time limit for a certain job. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Workforce

How to out-negotiate any opponent
There are five basic ways to win a negotiation, and if you master them then you should be able to triumph in virtually any business situation, writes Steve Tobak. The essential thing is to figure out whether you need to destroy your opponent, to create a win-win situation or to strike a balance between the two. While a few negotiating situations are genuinely zero-sum, Tobak writes, more often than not your role as a negotiator is simply to find areas of mutual interest, so that both sides can walk away feeling like winners. BNET/The Corner Office blog

How to defeat a midlevel micromanager
Middle managers who micromanage their team can put a brake on your company's productivity and disrupt your ability to execute your broader strategies, writes Mike Henry. The first step to defeating obsessive midlevel managers is to spot what's going on, Henry writes; only then can you seek to address the fear of failure that lies at the heart of the problem. "Put the courage into them that their people can do the job and that they can lead with freedom," he notes.

7 ways to dress more like a leader
If you're a corporate genius that people are falling over themselves to work for, then you can get away with wearing what you like -- but all other bosses should do their best to look presentable, writes Steve Tobak. Smart clothes can help managers make good first impressions on peers and employees, Tobak adds, although they still need plenty of charisma and business smarts to back up that initial impression. "When someone's smartly dressed in business attire, I think sharp and savvy. Unless of course he turns out to be an idiot. Then he's just an idiot in a suit," Tobak writes. BNET/The Corner Office blog

Have you got the leadership gene?
Biologists are looking to win a spot in America's business schools by studying the genetics and biochemistry of management. Researchers have already found that genetic variations can explain a leader's successes and failures, and that variations in sex hormones play a role in sales. "Management science looks set for a thorough, biology-inspired overhaul," according to The Economist. "Expect plenty more lab coats in business-school corridors." The Economist

Is your style stifling your workers' creativity?
Everyone knows that good leadership is the key to good innovation, so why do so many workers say their bosses are the problem? Most leaders tend to be exclusively maintenance- or innovation-oriented, writes Alexander Hiam -- and a balance of both strategies is needed to turn bright ideas into viable, marketable products and services. To foster innovation, either consciously teach yourself to chew gum and walk, or bring in a co-manager whose talents compensate for your weaknesses, Hiam advises. Great Leadership

Would you survive a CEO evaluation?
U.S. boards are getting tough with their CEOs, and many are requiring bosses to go through rigorous assessment processes, writes Sharon M. Daniels. To get a sense of whether you'd survive a review, take a long, hard look at your performance in six key areas including self-awareness, ingenuity, inspirational leadership and corporate citizenship.

12 skills leaders will need to succeed
As the workplace and the global economy evolve, leaders will need new skills and new management styles, writes Alan Murray. The best leaders will be those who stay flexible, plan ahead and proactively seek out new strategies and new ways of thinking about the world around them. "Managers will not be able to assume they know the answer -- because more often than not, they won't," Murray writes. "You'll need to be willing to hear hard truths from your employees, your customers, your suppliers and anyone else closer to a changing marketplace than you are." The Wall Street Journal

3 rules for giving feedback without making things worse
Giving feedback to both successful and failing employees is part and parcel of being a leader -- but many people give feedback in ways that are deeply counterproductive, writes psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson. Try to avoid praising people for either raw ability or effort, she suggests; instead, focus on pointing out specific things that people got right or wrong, to enable them to reproduce their successes and avoid repeating their failures. SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Workforce

Are you the next Steve Jobs? Guess again
Virtually every ambitious business leader sees themselves as the next Steve Jobs -- and virtually all of them are dead wrong, writes Dan Pallotta. It's fine to try to channel Jobs' creativity and managerial prowess, Pallotta argues, but there's nothing to be gained from weighing your own skills against someone who's clearly out of your league. "Such comparisons spiral you into depression. They demotivate you, demoralize you, and generally suck every last bit of enthusiasm and aliveness out of you," Pallotta writes. Harvard Business Review online/Dan Pallotta blog

Why hard work and talent aren't enough
To reach the pinnacle of your profession and become a powerful, effective leader, you need more than just hard work and talent -- you need the active support of those who've already made it to the top, says Stanford University professor Jeffrey Pfeffer. That means that networking and securing high-level mentors is the key to winning a corner office, Pfeffer argues. "What will make you successful are those people higher up who have power over your career. Your job is to make them want to make you successful," he says. BNET

Yahoo CEO: Forget about fairy dust
Yahoo chief Carol Bartz says that she can't use "fairy dust" to change her company's direction or fortunes and that investors will have to give her time to reshape the company gradually. So far, Bartz has focused on shedding unnecessary costs and strengthening Yahoo's international reach, but she warns the turnaround remains a work in progress. The Wall Street Journal

Are you giving your workers enough love?
U.S. business leaders need to show their workers a little more love, writes executive coach Debbie Robins. By putting their workers' well-being first, leaders inspire loyalty, boost productivity, burnish their public image and ultimately make their companies more competitive, Robins argues. "The companies that have awakened to human capital as their organization's greatest asset are raking it in," she writes. "It's time to take the word LOVE out of your CEO closet, dust it off, and put it to work." The Huffington Post

Why new CEOs need to hold their fire
When you first become the leader of an organization, resist the temptation to make big, sweeping decisions before you're truly ready, says Richard R. Buery Jr., CEO of the Children's Aid Society. Take it slow and learn the lay of the land before trying to shake things up, Buery advises. "And if that means that you're taking more time to make changes, that's great because you're more likely to make good decisions," he says. The New York Times (free registration)

What your receptionist knows that you don't
Business leaders should cultivate close relationships with their front-desk staff, writes Issie Lapowsky. Receptionists can offer valuable intel on team dynamics and employee morale, and you can tap into that knowledge to improve your outreach, management and training programs, Lapowsky points out.

Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke's secret weapon: Post-It notes
As CEO of the world's biggest company, Wal-Mart's Mike Duke has plenty on his plate. To stay on schedule, Duke makes a point of keeping his in-box and voice-mail messages empty, and he keeps information pertaining to his direct reports carefully organized using color-coded Post-It notes. "It's a follow-up mechanism," he explains.

10 business books you should never read
There are plenty of good business books out there, writes Geoffrey James -- and then there are the 10 books on this list. From works arguing that CEOs should be treated like gods to tomes promising to help you lead like Attila the Hun, James writes, these books would have been better left unwritten, and should certainly be left unread. BNET/Sales Machine blog

7 hints that you're a lousy leader
Most bad managers don't realize how awful they are -- so if you're worried about your leadership skills, you're probably doing fine, writes Steve Tobak. Still, it's worth keeping an eye out for early-warning signs like sudden silences when you walk into a room, an inability to make speedy decisions and a lack of support from former allies. BNET/The Corner Office blog

7 ways to make the most of sleepless nights
Lawyers often struggle with insomnia, but rather than fighting the tide, it's usually best to make the most of your white nights, writes Debra L. Bruce. Keep a pen and paper by the bed so you can jot down ideas that come to you while you stare at the ceiling, or simply get out of bed and start work. "Through the miracle of technology, I can get up and take care of that work that I am worried about getting done, even in the middle of the night," Bruce writes. "Perhaps afterwards I can sleep late because I've already accomplished so much." The Legal Intelligencer (Philadelphia) (free registration)

Are you being mean enough to your workers?
Leaders who worry about whether their workers think they're mean are putting their organization at risk, writes Mike Figliuolo. It's time for everyone to stop whining, start acting like adults and accept that sometimes brutal dressing-downs are in everyone's best interest. "Don't deliberately hurt feelings but for crying out loud tell people what you really think," he writes. "Being 'nice' for the sake of avoiding conflict is dysfunctional." ThoughtLeaders blog

Can you name your 3 core responsibilities?
Many business leaders find it surprisingly hard to explain what their job actually entails, writes Fred Wilson. It's worth remembering that the CEO's responsibilities boil down to just three things: devising and articulating a strategy for the company, hiring the talent to execute that vision and making sure the company doesn't run out of cash along the way. "If you cannot do these three things well, you will not be a great CEO," Wilson writes. A VC blog

Why e-mail is your enemy
You need to quit communicating by e-mail and start putting in more face-time with your team, says Henkel CEO Kasper Rorsted. Only by being visible and available can bosses keep a finger on their company's pulse and resolve problems before they spin out of control, Rorsted argues. "E-mail is very often disruptive in corporate cultures," he says. "I am convinced that e-mail does not replace presence." The New York Times (free registration)

Want to be a superhero CEO? Get a sidekick
If you want to be a truly heroic business leader, you don't need a mask and a cape -- just a sidekick, writes Rob Enderle. A powerful deputy can mitigate many of a CEO's shortcomings and can be the difference between an executive's success and failure. "The advantage of a sidekick can't be understated," Enderle writes. "It seems like the consistent lesson from failed CEOs is that they often don't realize the value of a trusted lieutenant."

You can't solve every fight simply by talking
Most management theorists believe conflict emerges through miscommunication, but it's just as plausible to argue that it emerges from genuine differences in interest, argues Matthew Stewart. The first theory suggests that conflicts can be resolved simply through discussion; the second demands more difficult, more effective practical solutions. "One theory is like going to the movies. The other is like living in the real world," Stewart writes. Strategy+Business (free registration)

5 ways to inspire your company's midlevel leaders
Managing managers is a skill unto itself, writes Darren Dahl. To keep your company's midlevel leaders in line, be sure to drive home your goals and broader strategies at every opportunity -- and model the kind of leadership you expect to see from those further down the ladder. "One of the mistakes any CEO can make is forgetting to look in the mirror," Dahl writes.

How to handle a narcissistic employee
Psychologists say that narcissism is a measurable trait, and one that has specific and predictable consequences in the workplace. To manage a narcissistic employee, anticipate potential problems and set clear boundaries, advises Bret Simmons.

Can geeks learn to be good leaders?
Geeks seldom make great leaders -- which is causing problems at America's tech companies, where people promoted for their technical wizardry are expected to start managing people, write Robert Fulmer and Byron Hanson. To solve the sector's leadership crisis, companies need to start nurturing and rewarding leadership skills as well as sheer brainpower. "If tech companies want to encourage coaching and mentoring, they need to recognize and reward employees for doing it," Fulmer and Hanson argue. The Wall Street Journal

Understanding's Apple's true strength
Sure, Apple's CEO is a fantastic leader, writes Thomas A. Stewart, but the tech giant's real secret weapon is its strategic fluidity. By refusing to compromise on quality, the company has been able to offer a consistent value proposition across a wide range of sectors. "Every academic strategist will tell you that kind of breadth is impossible; it's one of those things that work in practice but not in theory," Stewart notes. BNET/The Strategist blog

So you think you can lie?
Researchers have combed through transcripts of 30,000 executive-level conference calls, and they've figured out the signs that betray CEOs who tell fibs about their companies' finances. Swearing, using fewer hesitation words and referring to yourself in the third-person are all tell-tale signs that an executive is talking through their hat. Researchers say the study should help investors spot dishonest bosses -- and perhaps also help PR teams coach executives to sound more convincing. The Economist

7 ways to make your team miserable
There's a movement afoot to require nurses to wear white again -- even though they spend most of their time getting spattered by patients' bodily fluids. That's a prime example of the ways in which managers can make their staff miserable by being insensitive to the reality of their working lives, writes Suzanne Lucas. Other ways to make your team hate you: Ignore problem employees, fail to explain your decisions and refuse to reward employees when their hard work pays off. BNET/Evil HR Lady blog



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