Posts Tagged ‘leadership skills’

Your Social Marketing Reflects Your Leadership

Have you ever considered how your social marketing may be a reflection of your leadership?  For example,  do you add people to your email list without asking permission? By taking this action what does it truly say about your leadership as well as your  business ethics?

Each day I must unsubscribe or mark as spam dozens of emails.  Many of these come from so called “experts” on sales, marketing, leadership and even business ethics. I guess they believe it is okay to add my name to their email lists.

Permission based marketing still exists and should be the best practice for professionals engaged in social selling or social marketing.  However given the increase in social selling, it appears permission based marketing has taken a bad seat to sales pitches.

When professionals regardless of their role ignore common courtesy and respect, this is a reflection of their leadership skills. Their actions only reaffirm my belief not to purchase from them or make any recommendations.

Additionally when SMB owners and sales professionals fail to identify identify their target audience, they may unintentionally send emails to recipients who would never, ever buy from them. I belong to several communities where we share similar solutions. Members on one community never ever add me to their email lists without permission and yet members in another community do so all the time.

When I email those members who add me without permission, I usually receive a contrite reply of “sorry for the inconvenience.”  No, they really aren’t all that sorry.

Leadership is the ability to secure the desired results using clearly articulated positive core values. This means no social marketing or social selling spamming and no sales pitches.

Yes any SMB owner or sales professional wants to increase sales and therefore hopefully profits. However, it is imperative that all behaviors reflect consistent and outstanding leadership otherwise the goal to increase sales will be much harder to achieve.

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Where We Are Missing the Boat in Leadership Development

Leadership development is wanted, no demanded, according to this article in Business Insider.  Two thirds of the college educated millennials surveyed by Deloitte are looking to leave their current employers in the next four years.  The main reason is a lack of leadership development.

Boats-TwoThis research confirms what employers want – employees with leadership skills and yet they are not getting college graduates with the necessary skills to be effective leaders.  Hint: If you want a great book on effective leadership, read Drucker’s The Effective Executive.

Now think about what this survey has actually revealed.  After 16 years of education young people know:

  • They lack the necessary self-leadership skills required in the workplace
  • Leadership skills are necessary for employment mobility

Very few high schools develop self-leadership skills. There are exceptions such as Culver Military Academy located in Culver, IN.

Leadership for many schools is oriented to community service projects with the hope the leadership skills or rather self-leadership skills will transfer through an osmosis process.

Self leadership is the ability to lead yourself first before you can lead others. 

Even though there are many good to great teachers, they never developed all the leadership skills demanded in a knowledge economy.  Therefore, teachers are limited in the skills they model or even teach.

The best example to demonstrate this lack of leadership development is through “goal setting.”  Years ago in giving a keynote graduation speech to high school seniors I shared this interactive story.

How many of you or your parents, caregivers have ever shopped at the local grocery store?  Please raise your hands. Now how many of you or your parents had a written grocer list in hand?  Please raise your hands.  Have any of you observed that written grocery list being left at home, forgotten?  Again, please raise your hands?  What happened? (I called on those with raised hands.) And by the way, when you forget that written grocery list, whose plan are you now on, yours or the owner of the store?

May we have agreement that from forgetting something, wasting more time, buying things not needed, spending more money, having to go back to get want was forgotten and feeling upset all have importance, significant importance. (Please raise your hands).  So if a written grocery list has significant importance because of the wasted resources of time, energy, money and emotions, where is the written plan for the rest of your life? If you don’t have that written plan, then you are somebody’s else’s plan.  Personally for me that is not an option.  Do you want someone else to be controlling your future?

Leadership development should begin in junior high and continue through out high school.  By the time young people decide on their post secondary education path, they should have a solid foundation of leadership skills including:

  • Communication (listening, speaking and writing)
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision making
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Financial
  • Goal setting and goal achievement
  • Positive attitude development
  • Social
  • Team collaboration
  • Time management (Really self-management as no one can manage a constant)

When our society recognizes that leadership development is an investment in the future of our young people and more importantly in our economic growth, then everyone wins.

The Career and College Success Boot Camp is all about leadership development. Classes are forming now for the summer of 2016. Call Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.508.2859 to learn more.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.



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The Scariness of Forward Thinking Leadership

Believe it or not what scares many people are those individuals who demonstrate forward thinking leadership.  For it appears, those who claim to what the status quo to change truly don’t want that change because change threatens their own authority, influence and power.



For the last 30 plus years I have been observing the leadership dynamics here in Northwest Indiana.  What I have noticed is there have been very few forward thinking leaders.  The reality is those moved into leadership roles only reinforce the existing status quo, leadership mentality.

Forward thinking leadership requires courage, the ability to persevere and a culture at least open to change.  Unfortunately when the existing culture truly thinks the status quo is working including any new strategies this is the first big BOO.

In the book Start with Why, Simon Sinek shared the Law of Diffusion of Innovations’ curve.  Only 2.5% of the population are truly innovators.  These are the forward thinking leaders.  They are ahead of the flow.  The next 13.5% are the early adopters who probably have some forward thinking leadership traits.

Think about those two statistics for a moment.  Only 16% of the population are truly engaged in forward thinking leadership.

Everyone else is a follower; afraid to jump in; looking for confirmation from others before taking action.

Isn’t it sad that those who want the best for a business, a community or a country are in many cases turned away because their ideas challenge the status quo? Of course, there are some who may have status quo changing innovative ideas, but they lack the leadership skills including emotional intelligence to convince others.  These individuals are not forward thinking leaders. No they are spoiled, whiners who point the fingers are their opposition.

Yes forward thinking leadership is truly more scary than all those Halloween costumes and frightening movies.

Happy Halloween!

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Where to Begin Developing Workplace Talent

Americans by an over whelming majority believe to stay competitive workplace talent must be developed. Many are also in agreement this action must take place at institutions of higher education.  Yet, is there where the emphasis should be?

workplace-talentWhen we look at what employers are seeking, even college graduates fail to meet what is needed in the workplace such as:

  • Communication skills
  • Decision making skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Team collaboration skills
  • Technology skills

Many of these skills are not necessarily learned in the classroom and probably should have already been learned through the past 12 years of education.  Unfortunately, these skills are not being learned unless someone is involved in athletics (team collaboration skills) or debate (communication skills).

Workplace talent should have been developed by the time young people leave high school.  They have 12 years to learn and hone the necessary workplace talent skills.

When we look at those who graduated before the early 1970s and those who graduated after, there appears to be a noticeable difference for many.  Beyond the curriculum being “watered down,” there exists a different mentality about work ethics and even self worth.

As a sales manager I saw this difference.  There were those few employees who gave more by working harder and far more employees who expected a paycheck for less work.  The old adage of giving 8 for 8 was true back then in the 1970 and 1980s.

Being an elected school board trustee in the late 1980’s and early 1990s, one observation that was pretty consistent was I could not tell some of the teachers from the students. Gone were the days of being professionally dressed.  Now the goal appeared to be like a student instead of a professional leader.

Possibly if we want to develop workplace talent, then maybe the starting place is with developing teachers.  What this means is teachers must leave any preconceived ideas about politics, social justice, etc. and start without bias to truly opening up the capacity to learn and to grow.

Our country needs competitive workforce talent.  And probably the first place is to deep six the idea “everyone wins a trophy” because in the workplace there are no trophies.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Challenging Windmills Should We or Should We Not as Leaders?

People are strange creatures.  We are told to mind our own business and yet if embrace this attitude are we losing opportunities to challenge the status quo?  Yes sometimes challenging windmills (the status quo) is foolish and yet at other times maybe worth the involvement.

challenging-windmillsYesterday I challenged a woman who left her shopping cart in a disable parking space and she was only two parking spaces from the cart corral.  She was physically able as she brought the cart to her car.

So in returning my cart, I grabbed hers and made a comment (somewhat sarcastically yet with a smile) about how she obviously could not return the cart and apparently had no respect for disabled people. I then told her I would take her cart and return it to where it belonged.

This woman (I will not use the term lady) who was anywhere from 15 to 20 years younger than myself immediately jumped out of the car and hurried toward me screaming “no one talks to me like that and I can leave my cart any damn place I want.”  So I said “What are you going to do hit me?” She then continued on a tirade of profanities and insults with one including I was uneducated.  My reply was “Obviously better educated than you given your vocabulary and grammar.”

Then she returned to her car, pulled her car behind my car and continued with her diatribe. I smiled at her and told her to have a great day.  Did you ever notice that when you are nice to unhappy people they become even more unhappy?

I am reminded of Edmund Burke’s quote about “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Possibly challenging windmills be it leaving carts in parking spaces to other daily bad behaviors is our responsibility as leaders. 

Growing up whether it was in our local neighborhood or when I visited the family farm in Northern Wisconsin, I was always reminded about my bad behavior because people were not afraid to tell my parents or grandparents if I misbehaved.  Even in our local neighborhood, my daughter knew the neighbors would tell if she was misbehaving.

Have we become so fearful of being judgmental that we fail to take on challenging windmills we see around us?  Of course, we must still be respectful.  I did not yell at the lazy woman nor indicated any violence other than a rather sharp verbal comment.

My sense is as leaders we have an obligation to challenge the status quo, to respectfully call people out when they misbehave.  Of course our interactions may only change one person’s behavior out of 100 and maybe that one person may later change another’s.

Challenging windmills can be risky and we must balance the pros with the cons for our own safety. Yet to take no action reflects our own leadership skills and suggests we are content with the status quo.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Are Your Leadership Skills Revealed Through Your Prospecting?

Have you ever considered how your prospecting actions actually reveal your leadership skills?  For me sales is all about leadership. Any activities such as prospecting within the 3 Phase Sales Process have always been in alignment with my leadership skills.

leadership-skillsSocial media has provided an incredible opportunity for savvy salespeople to unite their prospecting skills with their leadership skills. Unfortunately, most fail to recognize this reality.

If people buy from people they know and trust (First Sales Buying Rule), then top sales performers will build relationships through social media as they prospect. Leveraging their leadership skills they will cultivate the relationship first with their prospect to learn if the prospect is truly a qualified ideal customer.

What they will not do is to make a sales pitch for a recommendation with a complete stranger. For example, this morning through the social media site of LinkedIn, I received this email from a second degree connection who truly sounded desperate.

Hi Leanne,
I hope you’re having a good week. I noticed that we share a common group. I wanted to reach out to you to see if you knew of anyone that needs a new website, a marketing or overview video for their existing website, or needs sales leads for their business.

If so, could you refer them to my client? Could you also send them a link to their website (website’s link)? Examples of their work can be found on the home page. You can also forward (her client’s name) email address for any questions. Any referrals would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks and have an outstanding day.

Beyond being dumbfounded by her prospecting skills  and curious as to whom taught her this foolhardy approach, her prospecting outreach truly demonstrated a lack of some essential leadership skills. For me leadership is defined as the ability to secure results using clearly articulated and consistent positive core values. She might as well just stood on a corner with a sign or stick flyers on the windshields’ of cars.

The ability to secure results through this type of prospecting has to be close to zero if she is reaching out to anyone with business experience.

Who would recommend a stranger based upon the recommendations of a stranger?

Additionally two days ago I received an email from another second degree LinkedIn connection who was making a sales pitch about considering his psychometric assessment.  His initial email left me cold because I did not know him. From reading his sales pitch email, he truly did not read my profile, but was going on search terms.

In spite of sending him an emotionally intelligent and short response, he returned with another sales pitch essentially with “Just try it, you’ll like it.” Again, I thanked him and said no thanks. His third email sales pitch of “Just try it, you’ll like it” included a sample of the psychometric assessment. A quick glance told me it did not serve my clients any better than the three (3) foundational talent assessments I use all published by Innermetrix:

Now he was annoying me and even though I responded politely, this is one individual as well as one firm I would never ever recommend or ever consider using.

To increase sales requires exceptional prospecting skills that work with outstanding leadership skills. To make sales pitches or ask for recommendations from almost complete strangers demonstrate these individuals are 100% clueless as to the overall sales process. The thought of building mutually beneficial relationships is not even being considered.

Again, who would consider a sales pitch from a complete stranger?

Today’s small business coaching tip is just because you are connected on LinkedIn or any other social media site does not mean that person knows and trusts you. Prospecting works far better when united with great leadership skills including high business ethics.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Authority Reveals True Leadership Authenticity

leadership-authenticityThe recent challenge to current Speaker of the House, John Boehner, reveals true leadership authenticity if the reports from some Republican Congressmen are true. History, however, has provided how authority can diminish leadership through these often repeated phrases:

  • My way or the highway
  • You mess with the bull; you get the horns
  • Get in line, or face the consequences

Authentic leaders do not lead by fear or force. Instead they lead through positive core values, open dialogue and a extreme willingness for self-reflection and personal accountability.

Speaker’s Boehner’s first mistake was not investing in self reflection two years ago when his Speaker of the House leadership was challenged.  If he had, those against his style of leadership would have decreased not increased.

leadership-authenticityAuthority in and by itself is not leadership. What authority really is, is granting permission to someone or something to have control over your behaviors or the behaviors of others.  In this instance, Boehner has authority over Congress as permitted through the U.S. Constitution.

People have the leadership power to vote as to whom they wish to give authority.  In Boehner’s example, some did not want him to have this authority or believed his past leadership skills were insufficient.

History has also provided people who lack any authority and yet their leadership authenticity shined through all the noise.  Individuals like Martin Luther, Mother Theresa, Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King just to name a few come to mind.  Of course those with authority sometimes give under false promises, ignorance and misconceptions can just as easily be named including Hitler, Stalin and Idi Amin.

Today’s leaders must not allow authority to take over and create a culture of distrust through retribution and other negative, reactive behaviors. Speaker of the House Boehner has potentially demonstrated the significant cracks in his leadership authenticity.

My free advice to Congressman Boehner and to other leaders who have faced a leadership uprising is to take the high ground and immediately:

  1. Honor their earlier statement of no reprisals from anyone who disagreed with them
  2. Immediately connect with those who disagree and establish areas of agreement
  3. Work with all in their organizations to find areas of agreement
  4. Do not confuse agreement with consensus or compromise
  5. Create a rotating 360 accountability process where they meet with all stakeholders to receive feedback
  6. Hire an executive coach to work through this feedback and to improve his executive leadership skills
  7. Be willing to turn over their authority if others find a lack of sustainability in their behaviors and leadership skills as well as for fresh ideas

When leaders recognize authority comes from the power of others and is not theirs forever and forever, they have indeed taken the first baby step toward true leadership authenticity.

So how do you rate as a leader?  The first step is to understand your own leadership skills  (talents) and this talent assessment provides incredible accuracy and clarity as to how to gain that understanding.


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The Surprisingly New, Yet Very Old Leadership Skill

Possibly as you read this title, you may be thinking of one of the current fads moving through leadership training and coaching such as agile leadership? If so, you may be disappointed because this leadership skill is one that is very old and yet never really discussed in any detail. Maybe there is a presumption that leaders already have this skill?

leadership-skillThink for a moment of past leaders and all of their leadership skills.  What one skill has stood the test of time?

From my perspective, that one skill has been the ability to write. If we look to history, we see Moses writing the 10 Commandments to George Washington’s Farewell Address to Congress to contemporary leaders.  The ability to communicate through the written word is essential to all of these leaders and the millions of  other unsung leaders.

Technology has further embolden this very old leadership skill.  This newer communication channel of technology started with email and now has spread through social media and content marketing.

More and more communication is being channeled through electronic mediums. Forward thinking leaders must learn how to communicate succinctly as in 140 characters in Twitter to emails to sharing organizational initiatives through the company’s newsletter or blog. Given that the super majority (97.75) of businesses here in the US have under 20 employees, the ability to hire out copy writers is dramatically reduced. Business leaders will need to be able to communicate even more frequently through the written word than ever before.

Effective writing that is emotionally compelling  and engaging is not new.  We only have to go back to the US Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution. The gentlemen who wrote these words agonized over the right word to convey the right, emotional message.  Each word was scrutinized to ensure the reader would have absolute clarity.

The other reason this old skill is a new skill has to do with the ability to have clarity of thought.  During a radio broadcast, Sales Coaching Over Coffee,  hosted by Lynn Hidy of Up Your TeleSales, the panel of Dan Waldschmidt, Fred McMurray and myself invested over 30 minutes of the 60 minutes radio show discussing the lack of critical thinking. There appeared to be agreement that solid, reflective, critical thinking was absent because there was too much energy being devoted to the current minute as well as a general reluctance to think.  “Thinking is hard work” as Henry Ford observed years ago.

What I know to be true is those who have honed this leadership skill of writing are for the most part far better thinkers. The more one writes, the better one thinks. The better one thinks the more one writes.  Something magical happens when the pen or even the keyboard is touched.  A connection is made between the fingers and the brain.  Thoughts flow like water provided the brain is continually being pumped.

If you are considering investing in a leadership development program be it through training or executive coaching, you may wish to confirm there will be some writing happening during this learning engagement. Failure to develop writing as a critical leadership skill may become the next Achilles Heel in your small business.



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Emotions Are Daily Fireworks of Inspiration

For years, scientists believe there existed only six or seven basic emotions.  Then new research suggested those basic emotions are only 4 and the others are learned or developed from cultural interactions.  However if we look to intrapersonal conflicts some suggest these 4 or 7 basic emotions create 276 distinct emotional responses. No wonder Spock viewed human beings being far too emotional.

emotionsOur feelings in many instances are what inspire us to do what we do or stop doing what we are doing on a daily basis.  Then there is the whole realm of intuition which connects our feelings to our “gut brain.”

Emotional intelligence through ongoing research is a key indicator of leadership.  Individuals who can read and understand the emotions of others as while as themselves then simultaneously manage both are considered to have better than average leadership skills.

How many times have we heard a young child or even an adult say “I don’t want to?”  What this human being is really saying “My feelings don’t want to.” We can see, hear and even sense these feelings through the body language what goes with the “don’t want to.”

Yes we as human beings are very complex beyond our DNA. Our emotional makeup is very much like the fireworks from the little sparklers to the big, colorful and very noisy ones in the night sky.  We react so often first from an emotional perspective and then our logic kicks in.

To improve ourselves, to inspire ourselves, emotions are central and critical.  When we learn to recognize and then tame them  (I am not sure if we can truly even master our emotions), we can continue to move forward. The big changes in the progress of man have all been inspired by an emotional spark.

The question is do we want small fireworks or big ones?


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Leadership Is the Heartbeat of Your Blog

Next month this blog will celebrate its fourth birthday.  In reviewing many of the 1,500 posts, I recognized that the thread of leadership is woven through many of those postings.



Then I started re-reading some of the blogs of my colleagues to noted business and sales gurus.  The ones I enjoyed the most were those that also shared this thread of leadership or better yet self leadership.

When leadership becomes the heartbeat of any blog from business growth to self improvement, there exists a different tone within those written words. One can sense personal responsibility, personal commitment, emotional intelligence and other intrapersonal talents. These leadership skills have been woven through the words much like the strands of DNA.

People continually communicate with me why they enjoy this blog as well as some of the others I share through the various social media channels.

When I ask them what specifically they found of interest, the answer usually returns to words such as:

  • Authentic
  • Forthcoming
  • Personal
  • Quality
  • Relevant

These words describe leadership.

A blog is a demonstrated marketing tool that can bring incredible success from professional credibility to actual increase in sales.  Without this blog I would not have been recognized as one of the Top Sales Influencers for 2013.

However for me, this blog has provided me the opportunity to grow my own self leadership skills along with learning so much more about business growth, sales, marketing and leadership.

In the well known words of Sonny and Cher with a little adaptation,

“And the leadership beat goes on.”

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