May 26, 2009

SUCCESS-ion Planning

Organizations always talk about succession planning, yet few implement effective mentoring programs. The heart of leadership development is desiring your successor to be more successful than yourself. True succession planning is taking your ego out of the agenda. Here's three steps for effective succession planning.

1) Invest. Choose someone. There is no "perfect" candidate. Most people think leadership development is finding someone who is just like you. Leadership is about results, not style. The first step is about pouring your heart and mind into someone else's life. Teach them what you've learned. Share your experiences with them. Prevent them from making the same mistakes you did.

2) Develop their Style.
It's not about you. Identify what your potential successor's strengths are and give them opportunities to maximize them. Part of knowing your strengths is realizing what your weaknesses are too. Learn to delegate tasks that others do better. Help your successor stay focused on the big picture (mission, vision, etc.) How they decide to reach those goals is their business. Put yourself in their shoes. Would you want someone telling you how to do your job?

3) Let them Go. After proper training, it's time for you to move on. The current leader needs to step out of the way in order for the future leader to step into their new role. This can be the most difficult phase because it's realizing that the current era is over and a new era is beginning. Reject the idea to micromanage. Part of learning is trial and error. The best thing you can do as a leader is just be supportive. Your season is up. Their season is starting. Measure how successful of a leader you are based on who you develop.

Leadership development is a long and challenging process. It takes humility to know when your time is up. Focus your attention on the legacy you want to leave. A litmus test is seeing how your successor functions when you're not around. A leader is never bigger than the process. Start today by investing, developing and releasing your future leaders!

May 19, 2009

Failing Forward

One mother asked Dr. Henry Cloud, "If you could teach my son one thing in life, what would it be?" After pondering that thought for a moment he replied, "To learn how to fail!" "Why would you teach him THAT?!" she exclaimed. "Because he will..." Failure is an inevitable part of life, impossible to avoid. Here are 3 steps to Fail Forward...

1) Try. Failure is not trying. One of the worst feelings in life you can experience is regret. Through media we hear success stories all the time, but what they don't mention is the failure they encountered along the way. I'd say the more successful a person is, the better he/she deals with failure. Successful people aren't scared of failing, they embrace it.

2) Learn. Failure is a better teacher than is success. Don't look at failure as an end in itself, see it as an opportunity to learn from. People learn by trail and error. In certain situations, you can prepare to the best of your ability, but there are always unforeseen circumstances that just happen. Remember, failure produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. Learn to become more adaptable to adversity. It can become your best friend during times of crisis.

3) Move on. In coaching, we tell our clients that the past has no power over the present or future. For some reason, most people like to dwell on the past, but that gets us nowhere. Next time you fail, grieve a little, then pick yourself up and move on! Your biggest obstacle to success is getting past your doubts. History has taken place in the past, so leave it where it belongs. Focus your thoughts on the future, then set goals in the present to make it happen!

The most successful people deal with failure the best. Instead of getting "stuck," they see failure as necessary to succeed. In life we experience "teachable moments" all the time. The problem is most of us forget to learn from them. Everything happens for a reason, therefore don't be afraid to fail. Try, learn and move forward!

May 12, 2009


by John P. Kotter
Success easily produces complacency. In business or in life, our biggest detractor to acting with urgency is reminiscing about past successes. Complacency whispers, "Nothing is wrong. Everything is great!" In John P. Kotter's book, A Sense of Urgency, he believes a true sense of urgency focuses on the critical issues and is driven to win now! Here are some practical ways to apply his principles:

1) Behave with Urgency Every Day. Learn to purge and delegate: eliminate activity that no longer adds high value. Next, move with speed: respond fast, move now. Thirdly, speak with passion: attitudes, feelings and actions are contagious. Try creating a strategy aimed at the hearts and minds of others. Past success tells us nothing about the future. Be "urgently patient": act each day with a sense of urgency, but have a realistic view of time.

2) Find Opportunities in Crisis. Crisis isn't always bad, it may actually be required to succeed under certain conditions. The next time you encounter a dilemma, try using the crisis to develop the urgency needed to create a better organization. Create a carefully considered strategy, then get buy-in from others. Create goals that will "stretch" others and seek to find more powerful partners. Overall, be proactive in assessing how people will react to change then do your best to turn disaster into triumph.

3) The Future Begins Today. Try something new. If an action doesn't help, abandon it. If it works well, consider doing it more. Ask, "Is the way we do things around here a barrier to success?" Acting urgently is the tactic that creates results quickly. Action is the true test. You need to activate alertness, movement and leadership NOW!

Acting with a sense of urgency decreases complacency in your organization. It takes discipline to see the external world clearly. Don't be a "victim" of "what's worked in the past, will work in the future." Start today by identifying new opportunities, avoiding hazards and finding ways to win!

May 11, 2009

Helping Young Professionals Be Professional ( by Renee Oricchio)

We're heading into that time of year when businesses may pick up a college intern for the summer or, better yet, hire a new graduate on staff.

If they've had any coaching, they assume you're going to check them out online making sure no unflattering spring break photos pop up on Google images.

It raises a lot of questions:

1. What off time, but online image, is too unprofessional for your organization?

2. Do you have a criteria for assessing what you find?

3. Is it so strict that you're going to have a hard time finding young talent?

The fact is that if you're ruling out every young professional with a MySpace of Facebook page, you're going to have a very thin pool of candidates.

Here's a modest proposal:

Instead of quietly blackballing a young candidate, coach them to clean up their online prescence. Assuming everything else about them is attractive to you, guide them in what you expect from them.

- Advise them to tighten the permissions on their social networking pages.

- Give them some guidelines of what pictures and other forms of self-expression are acceptable and what is not. Give them an amnesty period to clean up their profiles.

- Warn them that the company reserves the right to periodically check them out in the search engines.

- For the twenty-something just starting out in the professional world; the Internet to them has always been a playground. Introduce them to the Internet that is also the business world. Show them sites and blogs relevant to your business. Train them to use online business tools like and Highrise.

Remember: you were once twenty one, too, and someone took you under wing. Someone told you how to dress, the importance of showing up on time for work, keeping your cool and losing the quadruple pierced ear.

Now, its your turn to do the 2009 version of the same thing.

May 5, 2009

Your Most Important Resource

The 3 P's of Time Management
No matter what you do, your ability to manage your time determines how "successful" you will be. We are all given the same amount of time to work with in a day, so being efficient is essential. Through trial and error these are the strategies I've used to help me get the most out of my day...

1) Purpose. What is your goal? Start by filling in your weekly schedule based on what you want to accomplish. Eliminate activities that serve no purpose. Being busy is not the same as being productive. Spend your time with a goal in mind. That's focused efficiency.

2) Prioritize. Having a to-do list is good. Labeling your to-do list based on importance is better. Completing items on your list makes you feel accomplished, but it doesn't necessarily mean you've made progress. For example, make list, but give each item letter grades (A, B, C, etc.) based on priority. Work on the A's first, B's second and so on. This ensures the most important items get done first and the ones that can wait are saved for later.

3) Performance. Ever heard of the 80/20 principle? In order to manage your time effectively, spend 80% of your time doing the things that you are good at. Think about it. We all have 1 or 2 things that we would consider strengths. How much more efficient would we be if we spent 80% of our time doing those things? I'm not saying ignore the 20%, but do that when the 80% is complete.

Since we all have the same amount of hours in the day, we need to spend our time wisely. For everything you do, make sure you have a purpose, prioritize your time and perform at a high level. How you spend your time each day is a choice. Choose to manage your time wisely!

May 2, 2009

Company Life Coach

Forward Thinking...
Last issue I talked about people being your greatest asset. Recently, I found a company who is living this value out. is a Nevada based online shoe company. They have an on-site Company Life Coach, Dr. Vik, who is available to assist employees. Their basis for hiring a Life Coach is "How can an upset worker be productive?"

What can a Life Coach do for my Company?
Meet Life Coach, Dr. Vik

1) Blurred Boundaries. Today there is no separation between work and life. Problems outside of work are brought into work. A Company Life Coach will benefit you by sitting down with troubled or upset employees and help them overcome their problems. Did you know that managers spend 50% of their time dealing with staff interpersonal issues? How much more time would you save by hiring a Company Life Coach to deal with their problems?

2) How are you doing? A question we are asked on a daily basis, but who really cares? A Company Life Coach cares what you are thinking about and how you are feeling. Thoughts and feelings directly determine how you will perform. I am amazed at how many workers walk into a session with me feeling very frustrated, then leave feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the world! Your thoughts and feelings "trigger" your actions. Sometimes, we as workers just need someone to validate how we are feeling. Once we are understood, we're ready to perform at a high level.

3) Motivation. One of my favorite aspects of being a Life Coach is understanding different personalities. No two people are alike. Each person is unique. A Company Life Coach identifies what motivates each worker, then empowers them to take action. Ever watch an inspiring story on TV and feel motivated to make a difference? That's how you feel at the conclusion of each Life Coaching session. We choose to change.

If you are in the Customer Service Industry (who isn't), the Customer-Employee transaction is crucial to increasing profits. A Company Life Coach keeps your workers engaged so they can perform at their best!

During this recession, Growing Forward wants to be sensitive to your situation. If you do not have the funds to hire a full-time Company Life Coach, that's OK! We are willing to partner with you once a week or on a part-time basis depending on what serves your current needs.